PlanCast combines social networking with event planning to provide socially active users with a service that will help them fill their calendars.
Unlike check-in apps such as FourSquare, you input a place or event you plan to attend, not your current location, giving friends a chance to schedule the event in their own calendars.
When you load PlanCast, it launches the friend stream by default, cleverly dividing your friends' plans by date. From the same screen you can "share a plan" to broadcast what you're up to, when it's happening and where. The event can be sent to Facebook, Twitter and Google Buzz in addition to the PlanCast network and it automatically displays the address using Google maps.
(free) for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch. Android version also available
One of PlanCast's coolest features allows you to tag and invite your friends during the creation of an event. This is achieved by placing a "+" or "@" symbol before their name. The former will add friends as a guest to the event; the latter will just notify your friend of your plans.
After creating an event, you're able to view the location on Google maps, add comments and see all of the people planning to attend. To let a friend know that you'll be attending, simply tap the "count me in" button.
You're not limited to viewing just friends' and contacts' planned events. You can also find something to do in your city or province by using the search feature. After plugging in your location, the UI splits the results into two categories: users and events. By tapping "users" you're given a list of all the PlanCast members in your area; tap on "events" and you'll see all of the upcoming public events in your area.
PlanCast has opened their API so developers can use their service. The third-party developer Exygy has done just that with its app Plandroid, creating a PlanCast app for Android users.
Head to Head: Android Media Players
In the battle of iPhone versus Android, the topic of native media players is an automatic win for the iPhone with the inclusion of the iPod player. Fortunately, the Android development community is hard at work and new media players are arriving in the Market.
Free for the basic service, $6.99 for the premium service
MixZing is a media player for Android that's packed with features to play, manage and discover media. To start jamming, hold down the icon beside a song and you'll be able to play, queue or add the song to a playlist. What sets this clever app apart is its ability to recommends artists and songs. MixZing gets to know your music tastes based on your listening behaviour. If you skip a song, MixZing will give it a lower rating than those you listen to frequently. You're able to influence recommendations by manually rating tunes and a positive rating will add the song to your playlist.
The app also includes the option to read artist info or search related content on Google, Amazon, YouTube and Wikipedia. From the app's home screen, you can sort your audio and video by artist, album, song, genre, video and playlist. Overall the app works well but could use a bit of polish in the aesthetics department. If you want to use the IDtag editor, lock-screen widget and the removal of ads, you'll have to upgrade the app, which will cost you $6.99.
Free for the basic service, $2.99 for the premium service
Meridian Media Player Pioneer provides lyrics, a tag editor and plays audio and video residing on your SD card. The UI divides video and audio files (in tabs) while giving you the ability to browse all media and folders on the SD card. The browser tool adds a bit of transparency to the location of your media files and includes detailed info on the file size, format and length.
Building a playlist is easy with Meridian's built-in rating system. All songs can be rated from 1-5 stars and you'll be able to filter songs based on the stars you've assigned. A handy tool for those of us with large music collections. While listening to a song you're able to tap the search icon within the media player to receive lyrics, YouTube videos or search for the song and artist on the Internet. This feature is not perfect as it doesn't always work with certain tracks. Uniquely, Meridian can open media in a URL by real-time stream protocol (rstp://). Providing you have a Last.fm account, music can be shared with the social music service if you have the Scrobbledroid app installed on your device. Upgrading this player for $2.99 will let you to search and download album art, home screen widgets with album art, audiobook support and the PlayQ Picker to send multiple files to a playlist.
The Bottom Line:
While the Meridian Media Player Pioneer is a solid tool to play media, MixZing's media player is a tad more slick. The creation of playlists built by answering recommendations is a welcome and wonderful feature.