App of the Week: Prismatic


Compatible with:
iPod Touch


iOS 5.0 or later



Available here

We live in a world of constant stimulation.

At no point in the day is the average person but mere moments away from an entire universe of information and entertainment both classic and current. You could call it overwhelming, but that doesn’t really seem fitting. Overwhelming would imply there is some kind of burden, when really it’s enjoyable how much we have access to, even if there is no good way to sift through it all, and find the bits most relevant and interesting to you.

New app Prismatic may have the answer to this dilemma. After you create your log-in through Facebook, Twitter, or G+ the app immediately starts learning about you and what you’re interested in. From there it begins to pull news stories from the world over and deliver them to you based on your interests. You can influence this story selection further by letting the app know what stories you like, and telling it various subjects, people, locations, or anything else you may be interested in. What’s even better is the app begins to  learn, and varies its selection eventually creating a constant flow of news made just for you.

Call it Spotify for news, and you’ve got the right idea. What’s even better is that it works as well as the famous music app. Of course, this isn’t a completely new idea for a program, as Google Reader and some other, similar apps have been offering this same feature for a while. Prismatic, though, is different because of how organic it feels. The layout of the app allows you to smoothly move between the stories themselves, and the features that let you input information to expand the stories the app suggests. When the app is working at its best, the effect truly feels like a virtual newspaper meant just for you. Better yet, you can share stories you find with friends, and them with you, allowing you to expand your interests and horizons even further.

Even in its early stage, Prismatic is an essential app. Even if you use it for nothing more than to gather your favorite topics in one place, it does it better than any of its competitors. But if you take the time to truly explore the abilities of Prismatic and create a news network with you at the center, then you are rewarded with a program that becomes as essential to check multiple times a day as your e-mail is. While I’m still waiting to see what great additions further development of this app will create, for now it’s still newsworthy enough for my app of the week.


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Which music service is right for you?

The ways we enjoy music have changed so much over the last decade that it’s almost impossible to keep pace with the industry. The latest obstacle we had to overcome was the storage problem – where do I keep those gigs an gigs of music I’ve acquired over the years? Now we’re moving away from acquisition altogether, hurtling instead toward a musical world in which we rent someone else’s library month-by-month for a flat fee. And you know what? I love it.

I know. For a lot of music freaks that sort of concession is cardinal sin, but it works for me. I’m not the type to savor rare recordings and unplugged albums. I want quick access to a wide range of music, and that’s exactly what today’s streaming services give me. The good ones also provide some ways for me to discover new music without a whole lot of work. I know, I’m lazy. I’m exactly what true music lovers hate. I’m little more than a parasite feeding off the knowledge and expertise the real fans have taken years to cultivate. But hey, at least I’m aware of it, right?

This post is for people like me, the average music enthusiast. I’ve spent some time with the major streaming services out there and come away mostly impressed. I’ll breakdown the good and bad of each and, hopefully, give you some guidance on your quest for the perfect streaming service.

The Basics

There are some basic criteria we need to be clear on before I talk about specific services. For one, this isn’t exactly an oranges-to-oranges comparison. Each of the major streaming services is trying to differentiate itself from the other. Any streaming service should be able to provide the basics, though, which look a little something like this.

First, selection. When you give up the search for hard copies of music, streaming selection becomes hugely important. Your streaming service should be able to provide music that suits your tastes, and hopefully a few things that don’t. You know, just in case you get bored.

Second, user interface. Both finding and accessing your music should be quick and easy. That’s the whole point of a streaming service – quick, easy access to a vast supply of audio pleasure.

Lastly, access. What’s the point of a streaming service if you can’t access it from multiple devices? If digital music can be on your home machines, your phone and in your car, your streaming service should be able to do the same, preferably with some offline functionality in the event you’re away from an internet connection.

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