vulture bytes

Vulture Bytes: A Spotify Alternative and a Spy Hack for Your Camera

While we weren’t preoccupied with the impending doom of Western capitalism, here’s what Bytes dredged from the Internet this week: an app that tells New Yorkers what to do, an app that’s so bad we had to warn you to stay away from it, a way to stream your computer’s video to your iPad, a Spotify alternative, and a hack that turns your camera into a spy tool.

Those of you who don’t live in New York, don’t start complaining that we’re covering a local culture listings app. You know you still subscribe to The New Yorker and devour its Goings On About Town section in an aspirational tizzy. (And let us not forget you’re currently reading a site run by New York Magazine.) The Goings On app somehow transports all the highbrow gloss of that section into Android and iPhone apps, turning your phone into a portable font of critics’ picks. Theater, nightlife, art, movies, dance, music — it’s all there, updated every week. Never go bored in the city again.PRICE: Free
We were going to say that this app is the only solace for people who, like Vulture Bytes, are forced to be a Cablevision customer. It lets you watch live TV, watch what’s stored on your DVR, and use the phone as a remote. This sounds great! But Cablevision, the Internet provider that most slows down its traffic during prime-time hours, has muffed even this opportunity. Reviews on the App Store suggest Cablevision upgraded the app but cannibalized its best feature — the chance to set your DVR from outside your house. The app can now only be used on your home network, also known as the one Cablevision provides you. It is, of course, rare that you need to set your DVR from the other room. But don’t tell that to Cablevision. So take this as a rare Bytes PSA: stay far away from this app.PRICE: Free, though emotional costs run high
Boxee, apparently ignorant of how all of us spend most of our days, believes you aren’t watching enough web video — and especially not enough on your iPad. The company, best known for its boxes that bring TV on the Internet back to the TV, just released its iPad app, and it’ll quickly become the first app you think of when you want to watch videos on your iPad. Boxee collects all of the web videos your friends are sharing on Facebook, but there are plenty of other apps that already do that. What it does singularly well is stream video from your computer to your iPad. No more of those interminable waits for the iPad USB cord to sync 500 MB worth of video. The best way to use the extra time you just reclaimed? Watch more web video. PRICE: Free
With all the hubbub over Spotify, it’s hard to remember that there are other music services that let you live in the all-music-all-the-time utopia we expect of our modern age. So let us discuss Rdio, a different start-up that, yes, offers as much music as you can stomach for a flat fee. Based on our casual use, Rdio has a similarly robust catalogue, an interface that’s a lot more intuitive than Spotify’s, and a display that helpfully explains what everybody else is listening to. Most notably, Rdio, not Spotify, is the one that has an iPad app. Before you sink $10 a month into Spotify, do some due diligence and check out the less-hyped competition.PRICE: $5 per month for unlimited web access; $10 per month to listen on phones and offline
Even if you have neither a Canon camera nor an Android phone, you’re still going to want to pay attention to this awesome little hack as a proof of concept. It streams whatever your camera is seeing to your phone and lets you mess with all the settings — exposure, shutter speed, aperture — from afar. Your DSLR transforms into either a highly accurate camera or a hiding-in-plain-site surveillance system. Take your pick.PRICE: 6 Euro, or about $8.55
Vulture Bytes: A Spotify Alternative and a Spy Hack for Your Camera