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Pipes, notes and kids' books - local(ish) app offerings

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Air Pipes lets owners of iOS devices get in touch with their inner piper. Photo / Thinkstock
Air Pipes lets owners of iOS devices get in touch with their inner piper. Photo / Thinkstock

Developed in New Zealand but firmly in the Scot camp is Air Pipes. Tim Ross is co-founder and a developer at elucidcode, an app development company based in Auckland.

elucidcode (which comprises two friends) created the bagpipes app that certainly stirs the soul (sounds just like real bagpipes, in other words). It uses three traditional tunes to help you learn to play: Amazing Grace, Scotland the Brave and Auld Lang Syne. You can even blow on the microphone to fill the bladder up, if you want to.

Timing and accuracy scores help you get better, and you can even test your newly developed talent by competing with others on Game Center.

There are three tartan backgrounds to choose from, the volume of the drone and chanter can be adjusted separately and if your device has iOS5 installed, you can turn reverb on, too, so it sounds like you're on the battlements of a castle.

Or something. Future updates will include more tunes and backgrounds. Air Pipes is available now for NZ$1.29 (US$0.99) on the App Store here.

MEA Mobile may be the most prolific app developer in the country and has diverse offerings - just type "MEA Mobile" into the iTunes Store search window to see what I mean. With offices in Auckland, Hamilton and New Haven, Connecticut, MEA Mobile has internally-developed apps going "full steam ahead" including iLapse and SpeedMachine, with more camera apps to come, and MEA contract-developed the Jasons app.

Whole Room Strobe might suit your next soirée - it turns a TV with an Apple TV plugged into it into a strobe, with speed and intensity controlled by the iPhone or iPad. Your Nanna will love this. OK, maybe not.

MEA Mobile has sponsored various Fringe Festival events included a contest for iSupr8 footage. This is MEA Mobile's gorgeous retro-video iPhone app. I also like Mic Out - if you have an Apple AirPort Express plugged into your stereo, you can use your iPhone as a mic for an amplified voice. "Put out the rubbish!"

Possibly the most famous product is the LED array (called iGloLEDset) which you can set text for via an app. I've mentioned this before - the New Zealand designed and developed iGloLEDset was installed in the window display at the largest ever Wired pop-up store in Times Square. Since then a second installation has taken place in New York City.

MEA isn't just iOS; the firm recently got the Kindle Fire app approved as possibly the first external hardware control app approved by Amazon.
The NZ developer is pushing hard to actively expand MEA Mobile's international team and shareholdings in app specific companies; if you have any leads or ideas on this, drop them a line here.

Anchornote is a new iPhone app dedicated to location-based note-taking. It enables you to 'anchor' notes (including text, photos, or voice-notes) to the places they apply to. (I'm not actually sure whether this was developed in New Zealand or Australia, sorry, hence the 'localish' of the title.)

With it, you can anchor a coupon-code to a coffee shop, a photo of that empty printer cartridge to the computer store or a recording of a brainwave to a meeting place. When you open the app, the notes most relevant to your current location appear at the top.

Anchornote also automatically alerts you when you're approaching a note: arrive at the theatre ticket office, Anchornote could remind you that 'seats 24a-d are the best in the house'. Or things like 'Resist that new iPad!' near your favourite Apple Reseller.


Kiwa Media has been in the news again - a report on interactive children's books from the Toronto Globe & Mail favourably compared the products of Kiwa Media, a little digital book company based in Auckland, with an offering produced by Disney.

Kiwa Media's Zoo You Later - Monkey Business was pitted against Disney's Toy Story Read-Along. Both apps have similar basic functions including read-along and colouring-in books.
The Globe review said Monkey Business "is ideal for children learning to read".
The review described Monkey Business as "fantastic", but Disney's greater resources (the rights to the movie where scenes from the original film were included in the app, for example!) and greater overall investment meant that Toy Story had more interactive bells and whistles.

Kiwa Media is New Zealand's leader in the production of children's multi-functional, multi-lingual interactive books. I've talked about them before and the company ran a fascinating session at CreativeTech in Auckland in 2010 (Look out for that, btw - there's another one scheduled for this mid-year.)

Kiwa's top sellers are Zoo You Later - Monkey Business, Hairy Maclary, The Wonkey Donkey and the Milly, Molly series plus, in education, the ebook literacy series.

Kiwa Media's clients include Oxford University Press, Pearson Education Singapore, Scholastic NZ and Penguin Puffin NZ.

OK, you NZ developers, I love to hear what you're doing, so please do let me know.

- Mark Webster mac-nz.com

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