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Mac Planet: New Zealand's latest app news

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MetroView offers a NZ navigation app. Photo / Supplied
MetroView offers a NZ navigation app. Photo / Supplied

For all those happy users of iOS on iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, here are some updates from New Zealand app developers, who are making waves on many platforms worldwide.

Perhaps as a sign of maturity in the NZ market, some current apps are unashamedly locally focused, although of course that makes them equally as attractive to tourists.

One such is Wiretapp Labs Limited's TheInsiderApp. Niko Croskery spent six months developing this iPhone application which allows users to locate happy hours, two-for-one nights and other similar specials in Wellington bars, cafes and restaurants. "We have spent a lot of time developing TheInsiderApp with a focus on the accuracy and quality of its content, and have worked hard to develop an easy to use and intuitive user interface."

TheInsiderApp is now available in the Apple App Store. It will be available free for the rest of August, then just NZ$1.29 from September onwards.

Wiretapp plans to expand to other cities around New Zealand as soon as possible and is also hoping to launch an Android version before year's end.

Map with turn-by-turn directions
Pretty ambitions is MetroView, a complete NZ city turn by turn navigation app with spoken instructions, although I'm not sure whether it was developed here or in Australia.
MetroView's Australian version is the number 1 navigation app on the Australian app store.

The NZ City $9.99 version allows you to choose a single NZ region, although the rest of the country is available via in-app purchase.

Happy on both iPhone or iPad, MetroView uses the latest premium Geosmart map data including the new Upper Harbour Motorway, improvements to the rugby hosting stadiums and POI data for the rugby.

Available regions are Auckland City Map (Waiwera to Papakura; including Waiheke Island), Dunedin, Invercargill (including Gore, Winton, Bluff), Queenstown-Wanaka (including Cromwell, Alexandra, Kingston, Arrowtown), Christchurch (incl Lyttelton, Banks Peninsula, Akaroa, Rangiora), Nelson/Blenheim (incl Picton, Richmond, Motueka), Wellington (incl Paraparaumu, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Porirua, Featherston), Palmerston North (incl Levin)
- Napier/Hastings, New Plymouth (incl Hawera and Stratford), Hamilton (incl Cambridge, Kawhia, Raglan), Rotorua/Taupo, Tauranga (incl: Mt Maunganui, Whakatane), Coromandel peninsula (incl Coromandel, Whitianga, Thames, Whangamata), and Whangarei/Bay of Islands (incl Kerikeri, Paihia, Whangarei, Dargaville).

(Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life.)

Public Speaking
People are increasingly required to present in public, business and institutional environments, and this can be a daunting prospect. Pointing at a PowerPoint presentation with a laser or rod doesn't really cut it any more. More and more, your smart device is your PA, just as was envisaged way back in the 1980s with the 'Personal Digital Assistant'.

Technology really caught up with the concept, then went beyond that, actually. I mean, would a real PA give you public speaking training?

The Speak Like Pro application is an app by New Zealand developer Sush Mobile. It reached at number 9 in the iTunes business app charts within 48 hours of its launch, then climbed to 3. The NZ$1.29 app is designed to turn even the most phobic public speaker into a pro, with a suite of tools that help the user enhance the way they speak in order to appeal to audiences. These tools include showing the user what an ideal voice sounds like and how to mimic this, how to make speech clearer and more audible, and how to increase projection.

Speak Like a Pro was actually designed by Sush Mobile for 3CIPS. Tools include showing users how to make speech clearer and more audible (someone send a gift of this to our PM!) and how to increase voice projection.

Users read a speech from the app, which then uses voice analysis to score their performance and offer advice on how to improve.

Sush Mobile and 3CIPS worked closely with top voice and speech experts Gabrielle Rogers and Gerry Sont to make sure the coaching offered by Speak Like a Pro is professional, practical and effective.

Learning and controlling circuitry
Arduino is a small computer system that can be used to control robots, Lego, your children (joke) etc. Kiwi Derek Knight was impressed by the system (it's widely used at places like AUT's Creative Technology course, and in robot building competitions) so he built a standalone iPad app called Simduino which helps you learn Arduino and also to learn and design your own circuits.

He says there are similar applications out there, but they either require you to send your program to a server on the internet to get a compiled application back, or they have a number of circuits that you can just tweak slightly: change an LED colour, for example. Simduino comes with a number of example circuits but it's way more powerful - you can write as many other ones as you want.

A design in Simduino has two parts, just as it does with Arduino. You define the component layout (LEDs, resistors and wires). You will need to provide a C program to activate the circuit: Simduino is able to compile almost all the C programming language right in the app, although so far multi-dimensional arrays and switch statements have not been implemented.

Simduino is just NZ$2.59 but really does contain its own C compiler which Derek wrote from scratch - it takes your program and compiles it to an assembly form. A virtual machine takes the assembly instructions and executes them: again, this is all Derek's own work. Sounds awesome, right?

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