App Reviews: NHL PrePlay, Audubon Birds, Frankenstein

Do you always know where the puck is going to be? This week on Newstalk1010 I show John Moore how iPads can be used to make hockey predictions plus you can put some real tweets on your phone with the Audubon Bird Guide and take on the role of Victor Frankenstein in an interactive adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic tale.


NHL PrePlay



NHL PrePlay lets you make live predictions about what’s going to happen in a hockey game, while you’re watching it. The content that appears on your iPad screen will change to match the action you’re seeing play out on your television. So when the teams line up for a faceoff, the app asks you to predict which one will get away with the puck. When a new period begins, it’ll ask you to predict which team will score a goal. If you’re right you’ll earn points and if you’re right several times in a row, you’ll get a streak and earn even more points.

Throughout the game you can compare your guesses against players from around the world and invite friends to join in for a more personal challenge with text chatting between guesses.

I think this is the best example we’ve seen yet of making live television interactive. NHL PrePlay is slick, responsive, and full of features that are all well-presented and thought out.

You’ll find all upcoming games listed in the app with television listings to find them. Before a game begins you can make general predictions about scores, shots taken, and goalie performance. You can unlock special career trophies as you make predictions over the course of the season and during the game the app lets out a siren when a goal is scored. It works even if you’re nowhere near a TV, making it a good way to follow the game too.


Audubon Birds


$0.99 (normally $19.99)

This is the time of year in which you’ll see a wide variety of birds, not just in parks or fields, but in your garden or amongst the trees along your lawn. If you’re curious to identify your feathered visitors, you need the Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds.

The print book has been the definitive reference for bird watchers for more than a century, but now as an iPhone app it’s much easier to carry around.

The app allows you to look up a bird by shape, by family, or even by name if you know it. Photos help you make a match by sight or if you can merely hear the bird, audio recordings help you identify the bird by song too.

With the eBird system you can log your GPS position and share a sighting online with others. You can also use your GPS to find observation posts in your area or check to see if any rare or notable species have popped up nearby for a surprise.

As a digital version of the print guide the app’s normal price is $19.99, but since this is the 227th birthday of naturalist and painter John J Audubon, whose definitive work inspired the modern field guides, the app is on sale for just $0.99 cents. That’s a steal. Grab it and you’ll be amazed at how many birds you find yourself noticing around you.


Frankenstein for iPhone and iPad


$4.99 (launch price)

Say the name Frankenstein and most will think of the movies rather than Mary Shelley’s literary classic simply because the modern adaptations tend to make the 19th century novel more accessible. Designed specifically for the iPhone and iPad, Dave Morris’ new interactive adaptation does the same thing, but with a great deal of intelligence and respect for Shelley’s work.

Morris switches out Shelley’s use of letters and journals as a way to tell her story for an adventurous narrative where we follow the characters and actions as they happen and, in a bit of a nod to the old Choose-Your-Own-Adventures, make choices and decisions that take the tale in different directions.

It’s not quite that gimmicky, thankfully, instead the choices allow you to have conversations with the characters and react to what they are doing in a way that moves the narrative differently. Are you horrified by what Victor is doing in his lab or fascinated? Making choices in the book allows you to express how you react to the story and let it adapt in response.

As an author Morris is well-researched. He infuses the tale with the science of its time, including the experiments of Galvani and the drawings of Vesalius. He writes with a convincing Victorian flair that makes it enjoyable and easy to experience the story all over again. For comparison and added value, it also includes a copy of Mary Shelley’s original version too.

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