Tag Archives: apps

Favorite iPad Apps?

I wanted an iPad before I knew I wanted an iPad. It was probably the first product from Apple that I purchased without hesitation – not because I needed one, but because the iPad was so radically different from anything else in the industry that I was drawn to it (magnetically, perhaps).

Years later, I’m sitting on top of hundreds of installed iPad applications. I get many of them for free not because I’m reviewing them, but because I watch for iPad software discounts to float across my social media radar. I tend to share and reshare the good ones, too.

The community constantly asks me: what are my favorite iPad apps? I don’t even know if I have a favorite iPad app (singular)! There are just so many of ’em out there, and each one of those applications does a great job independent of any other iPad app. That’s what makes the iPad work, ya know? It’s not some kind of complex computing tool that allows you to see dozens of open programs at any given time. No, instead, the iPad excels at providing a near-perfect platform for today’s various needs.

Each iPad app has the potential of being my favorite app – depending on what it is that I’m wanting to do. In many cases, I can likely find an app that will do what I’d like to have done. Doesn’t that make it a favorite for the task at hand? I believe so.

Mind you, I don’t use every single iPad app every single day. I don’t even use a single app regularly (beyond the web browser and email clients)! I know: you still want to know what I’m using on my own iPad this year. It’s for that reason we decided to do a live walkthrough via YouTube earlier this week (in conjunction with an iPad 2 giveaway, courtesy of a sponsor):

By the time the third-generation iPad rolls off the assembly lines and into my hands, I’m sure I’ll have hundreds more apps to show you. Maybe we’ll do this again next year? If you have the patience to sit through this hour-long video iPad tour and you noticed I have a few missing apps, please make your Favorite recommendations in the comments thread.

10 Reasons I Don’t Like the Mac App Store

I realize the Mac App Store workflow is designed for the “average” Mac user, but I happen to download Mac apps from across the Web. Does that make me an edge case?

I’ve just found the Mac App Store to be a bit… disappointing. Yes, I like that Apple is making it a bit easier to discover vetted software, but there are some places where the Mac App Store just falls short in my book.

You can’t expect something to get better if you do nothing but praise it.

  1. What’s up with that interface? Seriously? If this is what we can expect in 10.7, fine – but give it to us then, not now. Is this where iTunes is headed after a much-needed overhaul?
  2. You’re not surfacing my apps directory / subdirectory for updates on apps you know are already listed in the App Store. Why? I would have to “re-download” the app from the App Store in order for you to recognize that there’s an update available. You have a “Purchases” sheet, so why not a general “Installed” sheet, too? Bridge the gap, man.
  3. You don’t give me a choice as to where I might install the app. Most people would choose the Applications folder, but I’ve reinstalled and moved computers one too many times to keep things in there. I created a “Tools” subdirectory, and you can (obviously) see that.
  4. You always place an icon for an installed app in the dock. Do you not see that I keep killing them as quickly as you create ’em? Finding an app quickly is what Spotlight is there for.
  5. Sometimes you tell me that I’ve made no purchases, even though I have – and I’m still logged in. Baffling.
  6. Why do I have to launch the App Store app to find out if any apps have been updated? Maybe Sparkle has spoiled me, maybe the App Store app needs to be more proactive?
  7. You show me that I have apps installed, but… why not go a step further (for the every-man, in particular): make it easy to uninstall an App’s traces from your system, including cleaning up preferences that AppZapper usually has to get?
  8. In the “Purchases” sheet, my inclination to get more information about an app is to click its name. But that doesn’t do anything, here. Sure, the clickable icon is right there – but what’s keeping you from hyperlinking the title, too? Seems more than a bit unintuitive.
  9. It’d be nice to be able to browse changelogs, or see a zeitgeist of how often an app has updated (and when). Unfortunately, most developers are horrendous at marketing or revealing information, so if you’re really trying to boost the ecosystem, at least put yourself in the user’s shoes.
  10. Still no clear software refunds policy. I’ve been burned a few times (not through the App Store, but if the App Store doesn’t provide me a blanket of security – what’s the point of using it over a developer’s own Web site).

Dunno. It has promise. But, as far as scanning my system for software updates is concerned, I’m just as inclined to use AppFresh (while imperfect) over anything else.

Domain Squatting in Google Apps

You want a unique domain name? You register it. If the name is not already taken, it can be yours for a price – indefinitely.

And this is what squatters do: buy high-value domain names in the hopes that (a) they’ll make tons of money from direct traffic; or (b) someone else will eventually want the domain name and they’ll be able to sell it at a premium.

So, once you have this domain name, you can pretty much do anything you want with it – and it’s about the closest thing we have to an identity marker on the Internet today. You should be in full control of what happens with or on that domain name until you decide you don’t want it anymore.

Say you want to start tracking more about how your Web site is doing in Google. I would most certainly recommend that you sign up for the free Google Webmaster Tools. From there, you can add as many domain names as you want to monitor – provided you can verify that you actually own the domain names you’re wishing to keep track of and control. That makes sense, huh?

I mean, why would Google allow you to configure options for domains you don’t have the rights to control?

But that’s what they’re enabling via a gigantic loophole in their Google Apps for Domains service – currently allowing any user to squat on a domain name in their system without first requiring verification. Ouch.

We discovered that someone was squatting on LockerGnome.com within the Google Apps for Domains system. This means we couldn’t actually start using their service without first asking Google to relinquish the name to us – a name which we can readily verify, not the individual(s) who already laid claim in their system.

If you need me to put a finer point on why this is a problem, we reserved SeattleTimes.com in much the same manner – of course, we don’t intend on keeping the domain managed in Google’s system for the Seattle Times, and will absolutely pass it to someone within their own ranks as soon as we know who needs to manage it. We can’t do anything with it other than cause the Seattle Times and Google to waste time. We snagged it to further illustrate the problem, not to cause headaches for anybody. Hell, we love both Google AND the Seattle Times. 😉

To me, this is an oversight that can be remedied by reordering the process – managing new accounts in Google Apps for Domains much like Google does for its excellent Webmaster Tools suite. Not doing so is… well, it’s just kinda hard to believe that nobody else has reported on this matter yet.

We’re hoping that Google sees this as an issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

UPDATE: Now, according to an official Google PR representative, a domain which is reserved on the system without validation after 14 days, reverts to an unreserved domain. Still, this doesn’t make sense – an undue inconvenience, to say the least. Someone has been sitting on LockerGnome.com in Google Apps for Domains since 2008.

What is the Chrome Web Store?


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This week, Marques is talking about the new Chrome Store. The things you’ll find here are sort of a cross between web apps and desktop apps. The Chrome Web Store is an online marketplace where you can discover thousands of apps, extensions and themes for Google Chrome.

Every item in the store has its own page, where you can read and contribute reviews and ratings. If you use multiple computers, synchronize your apps, extensions, and theme across all your computers with browser sync.

Web apps are advanced interactive websites. They may provide a wide-ranging set of features or focus on a single task like photo-editing or shopping. Extensions let you add new features to your browser. For example, an email notifier extension can show an email alert in your browser toolbar so you don’t have to log in to your email in a separate window to check if you have new messages. Themes allow you to you customize the look and feel of your browser, including themes from leading artists and designers around the world.

Thanks for another excellent screencast, Marques!

Top Ten Free Travel Apps for Smartphones

This is a guest post written by Christian Arno.

Whether you have a smartphone or not, the chances are you’ve at least heard of them. With Web connectivity and a myriad of software created especially, smartphones are the perfect portable PC for business people across the world. And their built-in support for a multitude of media formats makes them perfect for consumers too.

There’s more to smartphones besides their built-in systems. Applications are what makes them special. Easy to download and install, there’s a smartphone app for just about everything you could ever dream of.

If you’re a bit of a nomad at heart and have a penchant for foreign travel, you’re probably sick of carrying extra luggage such as maps, dictionaries and travel guides. And that’s where smartphone travel apps can come to the rescue.

It doesn’t matter if you have a Blackberry, HTC, iPhone, Samsung or other smartphone on the market, chances are you’ll find what you need on the Web.

Some apps are free, while others can cost up to $15. If you’re not a big spender, don’t worry – many free smartphone apps are just as good.

Here are the top ten free smartphone travel apps you can’t do without.

BlackBerry

  • WorldMate – This application identifies your flight, hotel, and car rental confirmation emails on your BlackBerry and creates a single itinerary with all the details synched to your BlackBerry. Once you begin your journey, WorldMate guides you through all the stages of the trip.
  • XE Currency – A must have BlackBerry application if you’re not good with numbers. XE Currency can convert more than 180 currencies with up-to-minute rates, provided you’re in an open Wi-Fi zone. Or, you can take the hit on your roaming charges. If you update it just before you leave on your trip, XE Currency has the latest rates gathered to help you even if there’s no internet connection, and the chances are the rates won’t change to much throughout the course of your trip.
  • TripCase – Winner of the ‘Best Travel Application’ in June 2009, TripCase offers flight updates, displays car rental services and restaurants around you (with pictures and prices). If you’re in an Internet zone, TripCase can connect with hundreds of travel websites to create the best itinerary.

HTC

  • Next2Me – This HTC app saves you looking like a tourist cliché and you don’t have to ask ‘where the post office is’. Using GPS, Next2Me offers everything you need to know about your surroundings. It provides a list with restaurants, movie theaters, ATM’s, gas stations and more. Besides pictures, reviews and other info, Next2Me offers phone numbers of restaurants and hotels so you can call ahead and make a reservation.
  • Trip Journal – Winner of Google’s Mobile Travel Application Award, Trip Journal allows you to make your own travel guide. Documenting every part of your trip, pictures, videos and notes of what you visit, routes you take as waypoints, Trip Journal can be shared with others, for a similar exciting vacation.

iPhone

  • Yelp! – Yelp! has an impressive collection of reviews and information on restaurants, bars, and clubs from all over the world. Besides pictures, contact info and working hours, Yelp! also provides the best way of reaching your place of choice.
  • World Customs & Cultures – This iPhone app can save you a lot of trouble when visiting a foreign country for the first time. It has a comprehensive list of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ on most countries in the world. Don’t know if it’s impolite eating in the park? Check WCC’s database for all the local knowledge you’ll ever need.
  • Skype – A must have app if you don’t like spending all your hard earned cash on international calls. If you’re in a Wi-Fi zone you can chat or ‘instant message’ with friends back home without spending a penny.

Samsung Apps

  • Anti Mosquito Plus Sonic Insect Repeller – This application from Vanilla Breeze does pretty much what it says in the description. It’s an anti mosquito app that emits an insect-repelling sonic frequency that will keep you free of mosquito bites and any nasty diseases.
  • Talking Phrasebook – Packed with more than 500 professionally translated words and phrases, Talking Phrasebook might just be your best friend when you’re abroad. Each phrasebook provides both text and audio translations recorded by a native voice-over artist to help you get to grips with the local lingo and sounding like a local in no time!

Even though trips around the world are meant to be relaxing and fun, sometimes things don’t go your way. With a smartphone and some travel apps you can save time, money and keep yourself from having to carry a suitcase full of books and other paraphernalia.

Christian Arno is founder of Lingo24, a global language services provider that specializes in technical and creative translations across all industries, as well as translating websites of all sizes and scope. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 today has 150 full-time employees and a turnover of $8m.

Cheap Mac Software with MacGraPhoto 2

Good software is insanely expensive. Great software is usually out of the realm of purchasing possibility for many of you. This is why MacGraPhoto has worked hard to bring you nine fantastic graphics applications for a seriously low price. There are only nineteen days left to take advantage of this offer, so you’d better not procrastinate. Even if you don’t think you’ll need all of these titles yourself, why not grab them while you can and then give a few away as gifts during the holidays?

Included in your $39.99 bundle (which would normally sell for over four hundred bucks) is:

  • AtomicView – AtomicView is a digital asset manager (DAM) software program that allows users to organize, browse, and output photos, images, videos, and sounds. A flexible and fast video and image conversion and transformation tool optimized for multicore computers.
  • Hydra – Hydra provides human eye-like perception to your photographs by allowing you to create High Dynamic Range (HDR) images from a series of regular photographs.
  • ImageFramer – ImageFramer is an easy-to-use but powerful application for framing your images and photos with beautiful photo-realistic and artistic frames.
  • Layers – Layers captures every window, every palette, every menu, every menu and status bar icon, every icon on the Desktop, and even the Dock and the Desktop background for each of your connected displays will be saved as a separate editable layer in the resulting Photoshop image file.
  • Posterino – With a focus on ease-of-use, Posterino 2 creates life posters, photo collages, frames, postcards, greeting cards and contact sheets from digital images. Posterino does the hard work while users just have to fine tune the results.
  • Snapshot – Snapshot brings the power of a photo lab to your computer. Printing your digital images has never been easier.
  • Sandvox – Sandvox is easy-to-use, popular, award-winning, do-it-yourself web site builder for Mac. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro — when it comes to building a website on your Mac, Sandvox is considered the best web design software for Mac.
  • Sketch – An innovative and fresh look at vector drawing for the Mac. Its intentionally minimalist design is based upon a drawing space of unlimited size and layers, free of palettes, panels, menus, windows, and controls.
  • Swift Publisher – With Swift Publisher, publishing attractive and informative documents for business, social and home activities becomes a snap.
  • DVD Library BONUS! – DVD-Library lets you catalog, manage and backup your DVDs on Mac in a visual library. Just enter part of the title or UPC of the DVD (including Blu-ray DVDs), DVD-Library will automatically retrieve the DVD’s cover and all relevant info from Amazon, quick and easy.

You can even end up getting this entire bundle for free. When you purchase your bundle, you will receive an email with a personalized link in it to give out to others. If three or more people purchase the bundle themselves using your link, you will receive a full refund when the promotion ends! How cool is that?

Life is much easier when you have great software to help you accomplish your goals. Life is even sweeter when that software is affordable!

Top Ten Cydia Apps for the iPhone


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Alex submitted this screencast to tell all of you about the top ten Cydia apps for the iPhone. These are apps that you can use on a jailbroken iPhone or iPod touch.

  • Lock screen customization – This allows you to choose what notifications you want to see when your phone is locked, from unread text messages to the weather.
  • Winterboard – This app gives your iPhone or iPod Touch a graphical overhaul!
  • SB Settings – Move your important toggles directly into Springboard where they are always available instantly even while other apps are running.
  • Notify Pro – This allows you to have notification tabs that you normally wouldn’t have.
  • 3G Unrestrictor – By adding this to the list of exceptions, you will no longer have to be connected to WiFi to do things (such as FaceTime).
  • Safari Download Manager – Allows you to download files right within Safarii.
  • iFile – SSH on your phone instead of having to access your computer.
  • Folder Enhancer – This tweak allows you to do folders inside of folders, allowing you to have a lot more apps.
  • TetherMe – Allows you to use your phone to tether without having to pay twenty bucks per month for the AT&T data plan.
  • MyWy – This lets you have a WiFi hotspot using USB or Bluetooth.
  • InfiniDock – This allows you to have more than four icons in your dock and scroll it from side to side. You can put as many icons as you want and choose how many you view.

What are your favorite Cydia apps?

Thanks for the excellent screencast, Alex.

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Deploy – A New Seattle Conference for Developers

I’m launching a new conference with the folks over at Seattle 2.0 called Deploy – Today’s Technology for Tomorrow’s Apps. It will be held Monday, November 8th from 9AM – 5PM at the Bell Harbor Conference Center. Deploy is a conference for technology builders and geeks. New languages, frameworks, storage systems, methodologies and devices are creating entirely new opportunities. Deploy 2010 is a “Show and Tell” conference where speakers will discuss hot new topics and show what can be done – and how. Topics will include NoSQL, Mobile and Tablet, Game Mechanics, Open Source, Location and more.

We have a great lineup of speakers including:

  • Doug Cutting, creator of Hadoop, Lucene and Nutch
  • Andre Charland, creator of PhoneGap – the open source cross-platform mobile technology
  • Brian Fling, founder of Pinch/Zoom and creator of the NY Times iPad app
  • Poornima Vijayashanker, first engineering lead at Mint and bizeebee creator
  • Bob Walsh, author of “MicroISV: From Vision to Reality and the Web Startup Success Guide

Deploy 2010 will be a technology conference focused on software development. It’s perfect for developers of all backgrounds, whether you are still in college or are an industry veteran . It’s also valuable to managers and executives who have technologists in their organizations.

As an added bonus, we are reserving eight spots for show and tell. For three minutes, up to 8 lucky winners, will be able to get up on stage and either speak about or demonstrate their technology. During the morning session, we’ll collect entries from attendees who want to present their technology during the Tech Demo segment. At 1:30 PM, after the lunch break, we’ll draw the entries from a hat. The lucky winner has three minutes to get up on stage and present his or her technology.

If you are a developer or hard-core tech enthusiast, I hope you will join us for join us for Deploy.

Roundup of the Best iPad Apps


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I’m grateful that David Banther passed me a rather sizable iTunes gift certificate for my birthday. Since I’ve already used most of it on a few outstanding apps, I thought the least I could is show you some of my more recent purchases.

  • DrumPad – Simple but powerful and fun drum app.
  • GrooveMaker – This app is used to make music with loops, extending it to a whole new level thanks to the large screen and multi-touch surface of the iPad.
  • Amplitude – The iPad becomes the ultimate mobile guitar and bass processor with this app. Use the AmpliTube iRig interface to connect the guitar to the iPad – and you’re ready to rock out.
  • Zen Bound 2 – This app is a puzzle game where you try to wrap rope around wooden sculptures. It’s a tactile game, with focus on making rope, wood and stone look – and feel – real and believable.
  • Stair Dismount – This ragdoll simulation app features the indestructible Mr. Dismount. Push him down the stairs for maximum damage. Experience his somersaults and barrel rolls in convincing 3d physics simulation.
  • Geometry Wars Touch – This popular game is based off of the Xbox 360 game: Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2. In this version of the game, you control your ship via two on-screen joysticks.
  • Shrek Karting – The popular Shrek Kart game provides you with ogre-the-top racing action, according to the developers. You can vie for the title of “Kingdom’s Fastest Kart Racer” as you speed through HD environments all over Far Far Away land.
  • Liquid Mantra – This app will relax you, soothing your jangled nerves by allowing you to interact with swirling and colorful simulated liquid. Images full of gorgeous colors and shapes appear and fade – kind of like watching clouds pass overhead in the sky.
  • All in One GameBox – You’ll find 35 popular – and addictive – games bundled into this ONE app!
  • Korg iElectribe – The iElectribe app makes sound creation easy, intuitive and fun. Choose a sound and touch the 16-step sequencer to build your groove.
  • Air Coaster – Make your own roller-coaster tracks with the easy-to-use track editor. Buckle up and ride your very own coaster in the front seat once you’ve finished your ultimate ride. If you don’t want to create your own track, you can download any one of more than ten thousand pre-built tracks.
  • Morphwiz – This app is a vertical grid-based musical instrument which gives you a new level of expressive control. You can experience with presets. If you’re a professional musician, you’ll be blown away by one of the coolest methods of controlling sound you’ve ever laid your hands on.
  • Follow Chris – This is the most awesome app ever, and I’m not biased! It allows you to easily keep track of what’s going on around our community, including RSS feeds from my blog, our Geeks community site, my Twitter account and our blogging community.
  • Marble Mixer – Different levels of play and the multi-touch functionality brings a new twist to the classic game of shooting marbles.
  • PotteryHD – Create your own beautiful pottery and fire it up in the kiln without having to lay your hands on clay – or get burned in a hot oven!

What iPad (or iPhone / iPod Touch) apps can you not live without?

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New Motorola Droid X and Samsung Vibrant Full of Bloatware

Recently, we discussed bloatware found on computers. Bloatware includes all of the unnecessarily pre-installed programs that come with your shiny new machine. They take up space and sit there trying to entice you into using them. Over the years, we’ve hardened ourselves to this problem and simply start removing stuff as soon as we hook up our new toy. We shouldn’t have to do this, no. It’s just an annoying fact of life. Sadly, it seems as though many smartphones are now following in their big brother’s footsteps.

The Motorola Droid X and the Samsung Vibrant (both just released today) come with some bloatware apps pre-installed. The problem is, though, that most of them are NOT able to be removed. The Droid X, for instance, sports a Blockbuster video app and a demo for an Electronic Arts game called Need for Speed: Shift. The Blockbuster app includes a store locator and a place where you can download mobile movies from their catalog. You cannot uninstall this app from your phone – you can only remove it from your home screen. The game gives you limited functionality and a nice, big button urging you to buy the full version. This app can be removed, thankfully. Skype is included on the phone and is another permanent fixture. A strange new “feature” called City ID is also included. It gives location information about a phone number on your incoming call screen. It will only work for fifteen days, and then you’ll have to pony up about two bucks per month to use it.

The Vibrant is no less guilty of feeding us bloated apps we don’t need. You’ll find the Avatar movie on your phone, just in case you want to watch it over and over. One cannot help but wonder how much they paid to have that handily included. Another app is a video channel named MobiTV, which is only free for the first month. Third, you’ll find The Sims 3: Collector’s Edition. And last – but likely least – is an OLD version of Amazon’s Kindle app. None of these four applications can be removed from the device.

To me, this is ludicrous. I should have the ability to choose what programs and applications I want on my devices. If you want to pre-load something, so be it. I’m used to that. But you damn well need to give me the ability to get rid of whatever it is I don’t want. Do you agree with me – or not?