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Applications and software for your iPhone and iPod Touch.

Written By: Gary on November 24, 2013 No Comment

I love this program and it just did a major update so thought it was due for an update on the review I did before, but when I looked I realized I never reviewed this amazing app before, so here we go…

galileo-app.pngFirst of all this program should be thought of as a digital map, the GPS in your iPhone/iPad will find your location and keep the map centered but it doesn’t have directions (just like a paper map doesn’t have directions). What’s really nice about this program you can download maps and they stay on the device so if you’re somewhere with without data (say somewhere on a hike in Costa Rica) you still have your maps with you. Or if you’re traveling internationally and don’t have a data plan you’ve got the maps already, the same goes if you have a plan with a small amount of data, you don’t need to use up all the data.

galileo-maps-IMG_9096.PNGGalileo also has several ways to get maps onto your iPad or iPhone, but the newest way is the fastest and easiest. You just go in to the program, click download maps and pick your states, countries or providences and it downloads them and they are on your device. These downloads are relatively small, Michigan is about 30MB while Costa Rica was about 9MB, but have remarkable zoom levels and are very fast. I wasn’t sure how often they were going to be updating these maps, but when I went to get the screen shot, I see they’ve already updated several of the maps I’ve downloaded (that’s why the screen is downloading that map, it’s an update).

This program is free and the vector downloadable maps are free but the program has many other in app purchases (which I’ll talk about).

I use this a lot when I’m out hiking and biking and traveling. I know where I’m traveling, a question I used to ask all the time is “Where am I?” and people wanted to know where I was going but I’m just walking around taking in the sights and I want to know where I am (I quite often got confusing looks). I want to know where I am and zoom around quickly and not worry about how fast my data is or if I’m roaming somewhere. I get a pretty good signal in Michigan but if I’m in some state/national parks there isn’t always coverage.

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Maps show how fast you’re going, the scale of the map and (optionally) your longitude and latitude.

I like to sightsee / wander around and see what I can find, when I travel I try not to be in a hurry. I went up north to visit my Uncle Jim and Aunt Karen once and when I arrived around 5PM they said “What time did you leave?” and I said “Noon”, which got the reply “You made pretty good time” and then I had to clarify with “Noon, yesterday“! I like to stop and do things, I’d been to different places and going biking and rollerblading and taking pictures and been all over before I got there. It was fun and I saw things that I’d not have seen if I’d had a specific plan.

In Costa Rica, most roads don’t have names and it’s confusing to get around, looking at the map and seeing the icon where you are is incredibly helpful (you need an iPhone or an iPad with the GPS for this to show you where you are).

So my suggestion is download Galileo and grab a few maps of places you frequent so that you’ve always got a nice map in your pocket.

The rest of these features starts to get a little confusing, if the above doesn’t interest you and you don’t care about maps, you should stop reading. If you’d like to be able to download other types of maps and know more, then read on!

This is one of those apps with many 5-star reviews and many 1-star reviews. Although, if you read the 1-star reviews most of them complain about things that if they had read the description they’d know that’s not what the program is supposed to do.

The other thing you can do is choose other map sources: biking, hiking, tourist and it’ll download them, but it remembers the maps until you delete them, so if you want some specific maps you just need to download them and zoom in at different levels and they’ll save and be there for you later (you can set the time limit). Other maps cache this data but purges it when it feels it doesn’t need it any more, you don’t have control over how long the data stays around. That said, I still like pre-downloading them myself (see last item of this review) and installing on the device is my favorite way to go. This next map is a sample of a map that isn’t so much like the “normal” Apple or Google maps.

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Example of a different type of map with altitude/terrain markings.
Good to know if you follow that path you’re going up/down paths over 200 feet in height.

Other (paid features):
Bookmarks – You can leave bookmarks/pins at locations for easy finding later, incredibly useful for marking places that have no other frame of reference. If hiking, you can mark and interesting spot. If someone lives in the middle of nowhere and you want to find it again, leave a pin at that spot.

Breadcrumbs – It will record a trail of where you’ve been. You can look at this later or export the data for other uses later.

Generate off-line maps – Downloading other off-line maps (this is great and it why I got the app in the first place) you can get maps from different sources and build them (on your desktop computer with Mobile Atlas Creator) and put them on the device for later. I downloaded great maps with heights of the hills/mountains for where I hike in Costa Rica, I don’t need to use international data roaming for this since I built them once and they stay on the device.

FYI, the screenshots and map captures are clickable to much larger versions.

Written By: Gary on July 10, 2013 No Comment

So Google retired Google Reader on July 1st, I still can’t believe this. They announced it until March but it took me until the last minute to switch, because I really didn’t want to. I did export my data from Google Takeout which you can still do until July 15th, so go get your data! But I’m really glad that I tried Feedly in advance because they didn’t even need my exported data, they just sucked it out of Google Reader and I was ready to go.

feedlylogo.jpgFeedly works an awful lot like Google Reader, it stores my items in categories/folders and they make it really easy to navigate from folder to folder. What is REALLY nice about the folders/categories is you can configure the look and it remembers it for just that folder/category. So if that folder has photo blogs or cartoons, I can configure it to show me the whole thing. If it’s just a news folder, I can show all the headlines. Regardless of how you configure it, it remember it the night time you’re in that category.

Here’s the three reading modes:

Feedly Title Text View
Feedly Title Text View.
You would see more text if you window was wider, but I wanted to show the date.

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Feedly Magazine View.
You’d see much more text if your window is wider.

Feedly Cards View
Feedly Cards View.
You’d get three columns of these in full screen and it appears a little larger, I had to shrink it 20% to make it fit my column width.

They actually have a full feed mode (which I wasn’t going to put above), which is how I used it in Google Reader, but I like these other modes much better!

Plus, it’s super fast. I think it’s great. I don’t like that it always starts in the “All” folder, I’d rather it start in my first folder with unread items. The only other suggestion is that if I’m in a folder with a hundred items and I’ve only read halfway down, I’d like a way to mark everything from there and up as read.

It integrates with multiple apps (and they have their own Feedly Reader). Reeder is my favorite iPhone RSS reader (which is temporarily free, so go get Reeder). They haven’t updated the iPad Reeder yet, but the iPhone app is just as good and works great in 2x more.

So I give it two thumbs up. Regardless of what you want to use, you only have five days to get your data out of Google Reader so go do it!

Written By: Gary on November 23, 2012 No Comment

The Early Edition 2 works OFF-LINE for news reading!!! You don’t need WiFi to use it, just to sync it! So if you have the data plan (or even if you don’t have a data plan), you can sync beforehand and not pay for any data! This pre-caching makes it really fast to use, it’s slow at the beginning when it’s pulling stories and images down, but once it’s down , you don’t have to wait for a thing. Even if it didn’t have this feature, it’s great for news reading of any topics you might be interested in.

And it syncs with Google Reader, I haven’t tried that yet. (I should, I use Google Reader all the time). I think the choices are GoogleReader or stand alone, no integration.

early-edition-2.jpgI love this app, I can’t decide if it’s #1 or #2 of my favorite news readers. But this is the one I use sometimes when I’m in the house, but all the times when I’m out the of the house. As I put my iPad in the sleeve, I run Early Edition 2, so it syncs with my WiFi as I’m heading out, then when I get somewhere, even if they don’t have WiFi, I have pages and pages of things I’m interested to read on my retina iPad. If you want to do this, be sure to set the settings for “Preload Images” to “ON”, or else you won’t have any images there and under “General” I set “Autofetch Options” to run “Every Launch”. (I set my “image frequency” to “Most”). There are separate settings for 3G (I assume that include LTE, 4G and HSPA+) so that it doesn’t automatically fetch and cache images.

It’s got settings for “Unread” news, “Today” or “All” news. I use “Unread” and in the settings I have it set to ‘if I see the headline, it counts as read’. So if I see something interesting, I have to read it then (or star it for later).

early-edition-2-page.jpg

It’s got great sharing options: Twitter, Instapaper, Readability, Facebook, Pinboard, Delicious, RedItLater and Evernote. I’m not on-line, I just mail a link to myself (I always forget if I star something off-line if it remembers it for later).

My biggest complaint: When reading an article I click it to go full screen (you have to or you don’t see enough) and I can swipe for the next article (if I want it). BUT to close an article I have to move my finger to the very tippy-top of the screen and click “done”, it needs something different (double-tap on the white space or anywhere that isn’t clickable) to close an article.

Downside on the setup: It’s a little awkward to manage your sections. Once you learn it, it’s okay, but it takes a little bit. It’s worth it though!

$4.99 is a little pricey though. I think it’s worth it. It goes on sale occasionally (but not often and not for long)

Written By: Gary on November 21, 2012 No Comment

Many Electronic Arts games are way on sale today. Their annual Thanksgiving sale seems to be the best year round, it may last throughout the weekend; no promises for how long it will last, so get them before it runs out. scrabble-badge-notification.png
I listed some of the most popular ones that are $0.99, these games go on sale occasionally but never cheaper than this. Scrabble for iPad is often between $4.99 and $9.99, so 99 cents is a great deal.

Personally, my favorite is Scrabble, which will connect to Facebook play against the computer or you can play multi-player and use other iPads, iPhones or iPod touches as tile racks, local network play and it supports GameCenter (but I’m not sure how that part works). I occasionally pull out Boggle too, which is way easier to play than in real life since it knows if the odd words are actually words. The classic game SimCity (the Sim before all others!) is pretty great too!

I see Scrabble for Kindle is 99 cents, they might be on sale for your Android devices too, so check out your on-line store.

I own many of them but the only ones that have gotten a real bit of play is: Scrabble, Boggle, Lemonade Tycoon and SimCity.

What Electronic Arts games do you play?

Written By: Gary on May 5, 2012 No Comment

This stellar planetarium in your pocket is an application called Star Walk, and it’s only 99 cents on the iPhone, this is normally $2.99 and worth it for the price (the cheapest I’ve ever seen). It’s also available for the iPad for $1.99 (which is much cheaper than the usual $4.99).

starwalk.pngThis is listed as a Mother’s day sale so I’m not sure when it’s ending, that’s not for a week (right?!?) and that would be a long sale (unless they got their weeks mixed up!).

I did a much longer Star Walk review a year ago with many screen captures and a lot more information that you’ll have to read for all the details.

This is a planetarium in your pocket. If you device has a the GPS and gyroscope, you just tilt it up at the sky and it will identify what you’re point it. It’s awesome! There are some similar products, but I think this might be the most polished.

Other than some small bits of information (and the space image of the day) you DO not need to be connected to the internet to use this information. So this is useful anywhere you can see the stars!!!

Written By: Gary on May 1, 2012 No Comment

Last week I announced their Birds app as 99 cents, the price has gone up but many other related apps have dropped in price. See the Audubon apps by Green Mountain Digital.

Audubon Birds Field Guide for iPad and iPhone is only $2.99 cents! The second best price ever they’ve ever had. This is their 606 MB huge book (app) that’s is normally $19.99. audobonbirds.png

Another interesting choice is the deluxe Audubon Guides – A Field Guide to Birds, Mammals, Wildflowers, and Trees for only $14.99 this is normally $39.99 (but occasionally on-sale for $24.99-$19.99) and this combines their four main apps (books?). But this huge multi-book app weighs in at 1.3 GB (that’s a big chuck of space if you’ve only got an 8GB iOS device).

If you want to see what these apps are like, the North American Owls app is free!

If you’re looking for Butterflies, Insects or Fish (or Tropical Fish), those are on-sale too!

This is one of those deals you should pick up even if you’re into birds/nature/etc. and thinking of getting an iPad or iPhone in the future (assuming you’re interested in birds/nature at all). It’ll be hard to beat these prices.

FYI, I think most (except the Owls?) run natively on the iPad and iPhone, but please double-check before buying!

And the 5 Audubon apps/books available for Android on on-sale at Amazon too.

Written By: Gary on November 4, 2011 No Comment

I have a confession to make. My favorite iPhone app is made by… (wait for it!) Microsoft! Yes, I said the “M” word! This program is awesome and easy for creating 360° panoramas, it’s called Photosynth. Actually, it’s more than 360°, it’s right/left and up/down and all the pieces in-between. I’m going to call it 720° panoramas, okay?

This is the last one I did, and it’s actually one of the better ones. Other than looking straight down, it’s pretty much perfect. Just so you know, the app calculates everything on the phone before you upload and share it. Plus, it tags it with your location. Once it’s on the website you can point out certain highlights (buildings, bridges, etc.). It’s amazing!

Direct link to the Hart Plaza 720° Photosynth.

To view them, it appears you need MicroSoft Silverlight or HTML 5 (at least the latter is why I think you can view it on an iPhone that does not have the app installed).

You can view all of my Photosynths at the Msoft Photosynth site.

Also, from the web site, you can specify where you were and what you were facing, I see that making for some interactive hopping from Photosyth “bubble” to “bubble”…

Direct link to the Deserted Warehouse 720° Photosynth.

The second one is a deserted building that I like in Downtown Detroit. It’s where I took the lost bride photo

This is the first time I tried to embed them and it looks pretty good so far. Please let me know if you have problems viewing them. And I’m also interested in how they might view on your mobile devices.

Update: I couldn’t view the embedded Photosynths on my iPhone so I added direct links. Those seem to work fine.

Written By: Gary on June 22, 2011 No Comment

So when driving during rush hours, I listen to WWJ 950 AM for traffic reports on the 8’s. But the don’t get a chance to report every problem every report and sometimes I miss the last report as I’m walking out the door. So I also subscribe (for free) to Traffic.com (which is run or sponsored by NAVTEQ) and they send me text alerts during the time frame that I select (Usually about the hour before I need to be there). Usually if they don’t send me one, the ride is pretty good, so it’s been very helpful. If they do send me one, I pay attention to the on-ramp before I get on the highway or if they say it’s really bad, I’ll take an alternate route.

traffictext

It’s just traffic for the expressway part, and they think I have 9 minutes on the express way and there is a 2 minute delay (total 11). I think they’re being generous, my experience is to double or triple the number they use for the delay; plus, it’s never 9 minutes on the expressway unless it’s the middle of the day or late at night.

As you can see there is a number to call and there is also a mobile web site at mobi.traffic.com, but I’ve never used those. For me, the text is just enough to tell me that if I’m in a hurry that I might have some delays. But I have a relatively short ride, when there is no traffic, it’s just during rush hour that it stinks, and I’ve got limited options.

They’ve also got an Traffic.com iPhone app (and an ad-free version for $3) and one for Blackberry.

I can see my routes (from the web site) on the iPhone app and it tells me how bad the traffic is. This is helpful for routes that I take often, but not often enough to where I want text messages. I use this for for a quick glance when heading to the doctor’s office after work so that I’m not late.

The thing is, when it texts me, I remember; when I have to look at the app, I forget…

Written By: Gary on May 20, 2011 No Comment

So I recently downloaded Onavo for my iPhone. It cuts down on your data usage by compressing cellular data on the fly. I guess it zips up the text and lowers the quality of images (I usually don’t notice, but sometimes I do) SprintPCS used to do this on their 1G(?) network and it was great.

onavo.jpgI’m getting over 50% overall compression. It’s free but it’s likely they’ll eventually start charging (so try it now, while it’s free!). But if you’re just squeaking by on a 250 MB plan, this could keep you from jumping up to the next plan at $10 more a month, I assumed it’d be less than $5 a month(?). Most apps it’s compresses 70-80%, others no compression and some others at 30-50%. It works on the iPad too. It’s compression on the downloading, not on the uploading. It says that it has no effect on tethering.

I love it! I actually think it speeds my data up (if it’s only pushing half of it around, but they aren’t marketing it that way). It doesn’t touch secure data and doesn’t appear to touch your mail unless you specifically enable it (and it has to be MS Exchange); it converts your e-mails to text, but I actually think that’s better on the smaller screen. I did just change my gMail config to use the MS Exchange protocol to test it out (Google does support this); I’m getting 50+% compression.

I have the data unlimited plan so this isn’t such an issue for me, but I might be tempted to pay for a international data plan next time I travel. Although, now that I look at the list, I don’t see Costa Rica in the list, I thought it was there before…

I’m grandfathered in on the unlimited plan with ATT, but I have friends considering the iPhone 5 (4s?) whom 250MB might not be enough, but 500MB could certainly be enough. Sometimes I think it might be eating my data more, but I’ve been forcing the phone to stay on 3G and not join any WiFi networks so that I can see the savings.

Written By: Gary on May 18, 2011 No Comment

I saw the Hasbro my3D at the store yesterday and just had to have it. It makes for an interesting interactive 3D experience. Hasbro 362190000 my3D Viewer for iPod Touch and iPhone - White Hasbro CEYou need an iPhone or iPod Touch to use it and I think it works better with the newer ones that have the gyroscope built-in. But there are a half-dozen my3D apps you can get from the Apple App store for free and a few you can pay for; as of today five my3D apps are free and one is 99 cents and another is $4.99 (both have free “lite” versions). A few months ago, they were giving all the games away for free, so I grabbed them while they were free(!)

Sector 17 is the space game, looks pretty cool and is fun for the bit that I played with it. The image below is the two halves of the image that I was looking at alternating; if you can alternately wink at three-tenths of a second, it probably looks 3D to you.

sector-17-ani.gif

All the games have no more than two buttons to play (where your thumbs stick into the device), but you do a lot of head tilting and spinning around to make some of the games work. Sector 17 and 360° Sharks really require standing. Sector 17 has a “couch mode” but it’s a lot harder to play; I believe not having a gyroscope model if the iDevice is like playing in “couch mode”. My old first generation iPod Touch (I think it’s 1st gen) works with the few games I tried.

shark-360.jpg

They’ve got a pretty good thing going here, $35 for a hunk of plastic and a few games, plus they’ll charge you for more games in the future. At 99 cents, I’d probably buy most of them to try it out, at $4.99 I’d probably try the lite version until I was bored (for $4.99 the space game does look pretty cool).

There is a Teleport L.A. game (that is more for kids) on a pier in Los Angeles which is all 3D 360° that you can pan around, this would be cooler if it were the Grand Canyon, the Moon or the Pyramids! And there is another more kid-like game called Bubble Bolt that you can roll around in a hamster ball collecting points. The iamge below is how is it looks on your iPhone screen.

teleport-la-both frames.PNG

A game called ShatterStorm is like the classic Tempest, but I thought it was a little hard to control. Spinning my head around like I did the controller back in the ’80s just doesn’t work for me.

There are separate snap on trays trays for different iDevice models (they could be labeled better) and there is a open cutout for the camera on my iPhone 4, so some interactive 3D VR type games are a possibility!

Pluses:

  • I don’t need my (reading) glasses to use it.
  • It’s 3D and 3D is cool!

Downsides:

  • I have to remove my iPhone from the case to use it.
  • Lots of game load times, these programs are very large (one was 500 MB!) and they have lots of loading time between levels and menus.

  • The default volume for the music in the background is very loud (it drowns out the game sounds), but it’s all adjustable (and so is the sound effects volume).
  • The games seem to work better if you have the model with the gyroscope, it’s more intuitive; you just look verses tilting your head. Although some games like the Tempest clone are just tilting your head left or right.

It’s actually cheaper shipped on-line (via Target at Amazon) then at the store (I paid $35), I asked at the counter but they wouldn’t match their own price (“that’s just to compete with other on-line services”), but I guess it didn’t matter, I bought it anyways. The plastic part will come down in price, they actually have a unique code on the viewfinder you need to input (one time) into a game before you play it.

UPDATE: And as of the update a few minutes ago, my3D Sector 17 started working with Apple’s Game Center. Also, this app has shrunk in size (from 434MB to 270MB).

Written By: Gary on April 9, 2011 No Comment

This amazing planetarium in your pocket is an application called Star Walk, and it’s only 99 cents on the iPhone until April 12, 2011, this is normally $2.99 and worth it for the price. It’s the 50th anniversary of spaceflight and they’re celebrating by giving us a deal! It’s also available for the iPad for $4.99.

starwalk.pngStar Walk shows you all the stars and constellations, just by holding it up to the sky and pointing, it’s amazing! It uses the GPS for hassle free alignment, on other models it’ll use the gyroscope to have you set it up and then it’s supposed to follow along from there. Plus, it calculates this all based on where you are all with no internet connection required*.

starwalk1.PNG
This is the startup screen (called “sky live”).

starwalk2.PNG starwalk3.PNG
Two views holding my phone to the East (one above and one below the horizon).

starwalk4.PNG
A portion of the animated detail screen for Betelguese (internet not needed).

They also have a another app just for our Solar System called Solar Walk (3D Solar System model) which is more detail on just our solar system. It’s $2.99 but it’s universal and runs on iPad and iPhone; and they make Solar Walk for Mac but no Star Walk (yet!).

* Additional information (beyond the paragraphs and stats that are included) on planets (and stars?) is available and does require internet. Also the astronomy picture of the day requires the internet.

Written By: Gary on March 7, 2011 No Comment

So, I was really considering the iPad a year ago. I thought it looked amazing as devices go.
hands_pad.jpg

But I decided that “I think I’ll pass this time around” and “it doesn’t have a camera of any sort. Yet…”

Now it’s a year later and I think I’m ready to take the plunge. It’s faster, two times faster and the graphics are nine times faster (does the nine contribute towards the two?). It’s got the front facing camera and the 720p HD video camera.

What doesn’t it have? A lot of things, but I can get past those little things. But there are two things I wish it had: a higher resolution display and a smaller size. A higher resolution would have guaranteed that I’d purchase the top of the line, as it is now, I’m not sure what model to get. I also wish it were smaller, I could work with a 7″ version just fine.

What makes me crazy with Apple on these things is that the 16 GB model is $500, it’s a $100 more for 32 GB model (that’s $100 for 16 GB more) but it’s only another $100 for the 64 GB model, why is that 32 GB half the price? I need something extra for that first extra $100, like a flash or a better rear camera.

So it’s going to cost me at least $500 for the unit (up to $829), probably $100 in accessories (HD out, SD/USB reader and cover) and I’m sure I’ll pick up some applications (another $50) like: The Elements and while Solar Walk is iPad ready, it looks like I’ll have to re-buy Star Walk. I already pre-purchased some iPad apps, like Scrabble (so maybe I’ll get into that again) and SimCity when there were some sales or promotions.

And I’ll need the new iMovie. And Pages, Numbers and Keynote. There goes another $35. And probably Garage Band, even though I’ll never use it other than to show others how cool it is…

And I have to figure out if I want it in black or white. I’ll probably do the homage to the iBook and get it in white, if it’s available…

Written By: Gary on February 28, 2011 One Comment

So I had to show my Mom how to operate my digital SLR for this one. It came out pretty good. This is at the lower falls in Montezuma, Costa Rica.

480-1-AnimationGIF.gif

I thought the colors stayed pretty good for converting this to an animated GIF, if you click the image for a larger version it looks pretty good too. I used GIFQuickMaker, which I got from the MacApp store.

Yeah, I know I’ve shown you high-def video of a similar thing not so long ago (but I’m in Montezuma again, so I’m doing it again), but I’m playing with the photos and animation software so you get it again.

Written By: Gary on January 17, 2011 3 Comments

This week’s question is What do you use for your alarm clock – an actual alarm clock or your phone (or maybe the sun, your kids, your pet, other)?

Sleep is a complicated issue for me, I like a fan or a white noise machine (fortunately there’s a White Noise app* for that) to help me sleep. whitenoise-app.pngGenerally I sleep with a fan on, that automatically turns itself off about 10 minutes before the alarm clock; if I got enough sleep, sometimes that’s enough to wake me up. Then a few minutes later a bright “natural” light turns itself on. Then the alarms start going off, the alarm clock (with the traffic report), then the phone alarm, then the alarm clock CD player (currently an upbeat Avril song is playing), then the phone again. And my friend Mark will call sometimes to make sure I’m up…

There is (generally) a new Friday Question every Friday.

* The White Noise iPhone app I mentioned is great, it’s got lots of sounds (I like the white noise) and timers (countdown, alarms, etc.). It’s quite possibly the best $2 I’ve spent in the app store.

Written By: Gary on December 30, 2010 No Comment

Skype 3.0 has now been released for the iPhone and it now supports video! Of course it supports the front and rear cameras on the iPhone 4! And it does the calls over 3G too! And it’s free. What are you waiting for? Go get Skype with video right now…

What’s New in Version 3.0
Improvements:

  • Make Skype to Skype video calls on WiFi and 3G*

  • Call Skype desktop users (Mac OS X or Windows) and other iPhone users.
  • Two-way video calls supported on iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch 4th gen.
  • Receive only video supported on iPad and iPod touch 3rd gen, with no camera.
  • Make video calls in portrait and landscape.
  • kype video calling requires iOS 4.0 or above.
    *Additional Data charges may apply

What more can I say other than go try it out?

Actually, I could say “Where was this for the last 10 days when I was in Costa Rica?!?“.

Written By: Gary on December 23, 2010 One Comment

The Word Lens application is amazing, one of the best uses of augmented reality yet! word-lens-logo.pngYou just point it at a sign (or any text) and it removes the words that are there and superimposes the translation over the old text.

The program is free and if you want to test it out, it’s two translation modes: “erase the text” and “reverse the letters”, while not very useful, make a great demonstration. The Spanish-to-English dictionary is $9.99 (they also have English-to-Spanish for an additional $9.99).

spanish-sign-word-lens.jpg
Here’s the sign that was taped up that I wanted to read.

It’s not the best video, but I really wanted to demonstrate this in a real world example. And since in the middle of recording the video I realized it was time for my bus, it’s pretty real world…

You’ll want to make the video full screen to actually be able to read it (and maybe you’ll need to pause it to really see what’s going on).

As I said you’ll want to look at it full screen (in HD) or you won’t be able to see the action on the iPHone screeen, so be sure not to just watch the embedded version.

I forgot to mention, no internet connection is required to use it! Once you purchase a dictionary it’s on your device (I assume it runs on the iPod touch with the camera also), it’s actually got a “dictionary” where you can look up words.

UPDATE: Also available for Android devices and Glass.

UPDATE: Now they also have Russian, Portuguese, German, Italian, and French available. To be clear the program translates back and forth between English and the other languages, but does not translate between the other languages (yet!).

Written By: Gary on October 31, 2010 No Comment

So a nice free video player came out for the iPhone (which also works on the iPad and iPod Touch) called VLC Media Player;
vlc-iphone.png
it’s the video player for Macintosh and Windows (IMHO).

What’s great about this program? It lets you play all sorts of video files on your iDevice without converting them first. The other bonus is that it lets you delete them when you are done, freeing up space for photos and video. It plays more than a few formats, but if you try some high-def Blu-Ray files it’s not going to have enough power to play them.

Here’s the problem, it might get pulled from the iTunes store due to some weird legalities*. So download it now. I actually think it’s been out for the iPad for a while, but it just came out for the

* Short answer with small words – The (source code) software is free and the program can must be freely distributed, but technically the iTunes app store puts on protection, so technically it’s not freely distributed, you must have an iTunes account.

Written By: Gary on July 10, 2010 One Comment

I like using a NewsReader on my iPhone (or iPod Touch) and one of my favorites is Doppler. It’s easy to use and it synchronizes with Google Reader so it makes off-line reading easy to do. So this means that when you read an article it marks it as read on Google so you don’t end up reading it again.

doppler.175x175-75.jpgIt caches all your RSS feeds for off-line reading so it’s pretty fast when you’re going through the news since it cached it in advance; but this means you do click to click on the link a minute before you’re ready to read since it doesn’t download in the background. I usually tap it before I leave the house since it’s faster on the WiFi, even if I don’t read it soon, it’s cached most of the recent articles so that when I do sync over 3G it’s already got most of the new news…

TIP: When configuring to sync with Google it lists all your individual feeds at the top of the list, but if you scroll to the bottom of the list you can choose your “folders” as defined in Google Ready

I’m mentioning this software today because it’s free for download until July 20th, 2010. It’s worth the money, but free is better, isn’t it?

Written By: Gary on May 8, 2010 No Comment

This is for Photo Friday and this week’s theme is “The Coast”. This is actually just a series of photos (7 or 8) taken with my iPhone 3gs and stitched together with the AutoStitch Panorama app.

the-coast-photo-friday-IMG_0016.JPG

This photo was taken north of St. Pete Beach, FL. Possibly Medina?. Click it for a 1200 pixel wide version. A few stitching problems due to everyone not standing still but still a nice photo considering I was shooting into the sun during the evening.

the-coast-photo-friday-IMG_0015.JPG

The second photo is the same photo, but just before cropping.

Written By: Gary on April 1, 2010 One Comment

Many Electronic Arts games appear to be on sale today. It’s looking like an Easter sale, up to 80% off, so it may be throughout the weekend; no promises though… scrabble-badge-notification.png

  • Scrabble $2.99
  • Dragon’s Lair $2.99
  • Monopoly $2.99
  • BattleShip $1.99
  • Connect Four $1.99
  • Life $1.99
  • Boggle $0.99
  • Yahtzee $1.99
  • Spore Origins $0.99
  • And a few more.

    I only own a few: Scrabble is awesome (and lets you play over the Internet via Facebook) I did a review here, Boggle, Lemonade Tycoon and Sim City are all pretty good. Do you play any of the EA games?

    * These are affiliate links, so I get a (very) small kickback if you buy one of these. But it is a really good deal on some of these games.

  • Written By: Gary on March 5, 2010 No Comment

    I don’t even know how to describe the Everyday Looper application for the iPhone. It lets you makes loops live and you sing along with them. I can’t sing along, but maybe you can.everydaylooerapp.png

    Hmmm… Here’s a better description: Remember in elementary school when you sang “Row, Row, Row your boat” and someone else would chime in so they were singing the previous sentence at the same time? This seems like it would let you do that, but with yourself (and do it live). If you still don’t get it, just watch the video.

    Direct link to the video.

    Looks like a complicated interface to learn but a very impressive video! I do not have this app but I thought it the video was very cool

    Written By: Gary on December 5, 2009 One Comment

    If you’ve thought about Scrabble for the iPhone (or iPod Touch) it might be time to try it, if you play Scrabble on Facebook it’s past time to try it!

    scrabble-push-sm.pngI’ve always been a Scrabble fan and on my Palm Treo I used to play Scrabble all the time. While this version by Electronic Arts is excellent, I think the Palm OS was a little better; I think because the stylus made it easier to play, on this version they zoom you in and then you have to zoom back out (which works much better than it sounds).

    They advertise that you can play with someone on the same WiFi network, but that’s no big deal to me, if they’re that close, just set up a board! The amazing part of this program is how it interfaces with Facebook, you can have multiple games going and it keeps track of them all and you can invite people to play and all that stuff, it works great. I did not play Scrabble on Facebook previously but I liked the idea of playing someone from a distance. I haven’t challenged anyone that I haven’t played in real life, but I will. The problem is that I don’t spend that much time on Facebook it’s inconvenient to keep checking to see if it’s my turn?

    scrn_iphone_scrabble02.jpgFor a while the game has been popping up with a tip saying it works with push notifications (but it didn’t). I’ve only been using the app for a week and the latest version (that I think came out yesterday) now supports push when it’s your turn. At least when it’s your turn on Facebook they’ll send a push alert to your iPhone or iPod touch (I’m not sure about playing someone on the same WiFi network). I also noticed if that it’s alerted you that it’s your turn when you launch the app it takes you right to the game board!

    This is great but it’s a little odd, there are three kinds of push notifications: alerts (text pop-up), sound and badges (alters the app icon, see below) but they chose to not to implement the text alert; while they may have had a reason to think you don’t need them you do have on/off options for all the different notifications. I can see how it would be overwhelming for those who are playing 20-50 games at a time, for me, I’d like the text alert since if I don’t hear the sound (not likely) I have to keep peeking at the app icon/badge (which is way better than having to launch the application). The push alerts aren’t perfect (they don’t always show up), but I’m think that might be an Apple thing and not a Scrabble problem.

    scrabble-badge-notification.pngI’ve not played with the computer much, but some people complained that it’s too easy (the Palm OS version had 3-5 levels) and I’ve had no one to play with on WiFi but I suppose it’s probably similar to Facebook play.

    Available on SCRABBLE

    Written By: Gary on December 1, 2009 No Comment

    So Fring lets you do video calls via their Skype connection. The software is free so it’s worth trying out.

    iPhone_video-fring.jpg
    The problem is you can only receive video. They say it’s because the iPhone doesn’t have a camera on the front, but I’d rather send video to the other person. I’ve got the portable device, I’m probably somewhere more interesting then they are, right? (Unless they are on their phone too).

    I could still be filming where I am while watching their face (or whatever their camera is pointed at) so it seems silly to me. Or send my video when I’m talking (and vice-versa).

    The other downside is that it only works over over WiFi, not cellular (no surprise there) another reason to consider a MiFi instead of paying AT&T for tethering.

    Here’s the direct link.

    Two other things:
    If Apple has the API open, it seems like they could check the sensor that detects if the phone is near or away from you (the one that checks if the phone is by your face and turns the screen off) and figure if the camera is facing you or away.

    The Fring App uses my BlueTooth headset (which also does A2DP) for sound effects but when a call starts it only uses the regular phone part.

    Written By: Gary on November 27, 2009 One Comment

    So I tried out CoPilot Live North America GPS turn-by-turn software. First off let me point out it’s on sale for $24.99 through December (and then it goes back to $34.99) and it appears to include free quarterly updates (with no time limits listed as of today). Secondly please note that North America is defined as USA and Canada. FYI, if you don’t have an iPhone and you’re hoping to get one for the holidays, buy it now! It should work later just fine (at least all the sale and free apps I bought before I purchased worked fine.

    copilotapproad.jpg

    It’s awesome! You can use it in spoken turn-by-turn mode with or without the street names, only one voice (Frank) does the full street names, but I don’t like that on GPS devices (I get long names like “turn right at next exit Grand River / US-5 / 10 mile road”) and it’s too long for my attention span so I use Lisa (or John). In short mode I think it should speak the highway exit numbers though, it actually sounds truncated the way they do it.

    It’s really easy to pick addresses from your address book and save as favorites, it did give me a little problem with my home address the way I had it in my address book but not any of my others (I’m not sure why). If you’re typing in an address it’ll let you use zip codes which I like. You can also search by business name (such as Detroit Science Center) and it’ll add to favorites or even make a call for you. It’ll also show routing for cars, walking or biking. It’ll let you play back your tracks, which would be great for hiking but this has got to eat your battery though.

    copilotappsettings.jpg

    My biggest complaint is that while it integrates the iPod player into the application, it doesn’t pause the iPod part of the iPhone when it’s speaking; but this is listed as one of the next upcoming features. My second biggest complaint, is that sometimes I don’t feel like they followed iPhone interface guidelines and you have to think sometimes when picking out and typing things (mostly in the search areas).

    The 2D maps will let you pinch / zoom like many iPhone map programs will. And it works in landscape or portrait modes. While I like portrait better, the fonts of turns show up bigger in landscape.

    It’ll give you live weather for where you are too!

    It’s probably the biggest app I have, it’s 1.3 GB, that’s a 1/12 of your 16 GB phone! You can get more info here: http://www.copilotlive.com/iphone/

    CoPilot Live North America

    Bottom line: If you don’t have a turn-by-turn GPS for $34.99 this is a great deal. For the $19.99 sale price (for only a few days) it’s an even better bargain.

    Accessories: I’d recommend a car charger or external battery to charge your phone when walking or biking.

    Written By: Gary on October 25, 2009 No Comment

    Great day outside on Hines Drive today. Lots of great colors as fall approaches. Here’s a panorama I took with my iPhone (and stitched it on my iPhone with the AutoStitch Panorama app on the phone too!).


    fall-colors-hines-drive-thumb.jpg

    I think it took eight or nine images to build the whole thing and it came out to 4000×506 pixels. This program works quick: I took the photos with the camera app, ran the AutoStich program, clicked the photos, it built a tiny thumbnail, I clicked the stitch button and few minutes later I’ve got the panorama on the screen!

    Click to enlarge panoramic image, if it doesn’t load correctly, here’s a 1024 wide image.

    Written By: Gary on October 24, 2009 No Comment

    I shot, edited (titles and transitions) and uploaded this video from my iPhone. I used ReelDirector for the editing. This is my first attempt but it was way easy to use. reeldirectorvideoThe video was shot on the iPhone, edited on the iPhone and e-mailed to YouTube for uploading. It’s five short stiched-together videos (which I was able to trim when I imported them) with some text at the beginning and end. I used the same transition (blur) for all the transitions since it was easy to use (you can customize this per transition). You can rearrange the videos once they are in there, but I pretty much picked them in the order that I wanted them in.

    This is from the balloon festival from a few months ago. The first speaker is me talking as I shot it. The rest is whatever voiceover was going on at the time. Nothing fancy at all.



    Direct link to the video is here.

    I didn’t time it, but I’d guess it was about three or four minutes (on the iPhone 3gs 3.01 OS) to stitch and build the one minute video. My biggest complaint is I couldn’t extend the time for the titles and credits and the time is too short). I also wish I could have inserted some photos too (but then there wouldn’t have been audio behind it). The strangest thing was that it didn’t save the video back to the phone, I didn’t see any way to get it out of the program other than e-mailing it to myself (or YouTube) but that worked fine (the iTunes page says this works in 3.1). it’s very cool software but it’s a little pricy at $7.99 for $3.99 (since iMovie came out); I used an iTunes gift card that I got last month for my birthday which made the (old $7.99 price) a bit more digestible…

    Written By: Gary on August 9, 2009 No Comment

    So the rumors this week are that in iTunes 9 that Apple is going to add Application Management. My iPhone would be a lot more useful for me if it had that, I’m always installing and trying apps and it messes with the order of everything. Here’s a concept that someone ut together a few months ago.


    View iTunes App Management on Youtube

    It’s very Apple-ish but some of it’s pretty complicated for what Apple likes to do.

    The above is pretty close to what I’m looking for. But I’d take something way more primitive…

    Written By: Gary on August 1, 2009 No Comment

    They’ve now released 12cast to record and post video to 12seconds.tv for the iPhone 3gs. And it’s free! This lets you shoot video and upload directly or upload video that you’ve already shot. It’s interface is very simple (see below) although I think it could use a few more features (see below).


    12cast test on my iPhone on 12seconds.tv

    I’ll probably be testing this a bit this weekend so keep an eye on my 12seconds.tv channel http://12seconds.tv/channel/garylapointe/ and feel free to subscribe.

    If this seems fun to you, you better go get 12cast before Apple pulls it from the store for some reason!

    FYI – If your iPhone doesn’t do video you can still use the original 12seconds which lets you narrate 3 photos to make a 12secons.tv video. Here’s a sample I did.

    12cast.pngNeeds a few really quick features:

    • Show me today’s 12seconds.tv challenge!
    • Needs to give me an option to upload it to 12seconds without going to Twitter.
    • Needs to let me type tags (and remember tags from previous upload!).
    • Needs to let me use update location (and autofill with GPS!).
    • This one probably isn’t so quick: Need a way to trim the video. Mostly if I’m trying to record myself it’s always jumpy at the begin and end. (Apple needs a way to set the API so you can click a button to “start recording in 3 seconds” and have it countdown.)

    I really wish they had combined it with the older three photos application, I’ve got so much crap on my iPhone I really don’t need an additional application, but I can see some use of the other app too.

    Written By: Gary on July 30, 2009 No Comment

    Apple has finally released the iPhone iDisk application for the iPhone! Bottom line is that you can browse your iDisk from your iPhone. You can view PDFs, Office and iWork docs.

    idisk.pngPros:

  • It’s Free!
  • You can view PDFs, HTML, Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and iWork docs.
  • It’ll view images and stream video and audio (Apple supported formats).
  • It will cache files to the iPhone for faster access and you get to define how much space to use.
  • You can search to find your files.
  • You can share files right from the iPhone.
  • You can delete from the phone (oops, maybe this is a con!).
  • Works in landscape mode.
  • Keeps track of files you recently accessed via the iPhone.
  • You can access other member’s public folders.

    Cons:

  • You can’t view text clippings (why not?!?).
  • You can only view by alphabetical order.
  • HTML links are not clickable.
  • Can’t see full filenames sometimes (landscape helps) or file creation dates.

    All together, if you’ve got MobileMe and use the iDisk, this is a no-brainer to download.

  • Written By: Gary on July 20, 2009 No Comment

    I mentioned the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing earlier today. Here’s a few other “space” things that caught my eye:

    themoon.jpg

  • Apollo 11 restored HD video.
  • Send your name to Mars and get a certificate.
  • For your iPhone and iPod Touch get SkyVoyager and SkyGazer for free today (normally $17.98 combined).
  • Photos of the Moon landing sites from the LRO.
  • And Google has added the Moon to Google Earth (desktop application).

  • That’s it for now. Please post any recommended links in the comments below.

    Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

    Written By: Gary on July 11, 2009 No Comment

    autostitch-icon.pngSo one of the coolest programs I’ve downloaded from the iPhone App Store is AutoStitch. It takes a bunch of photos and stitches them together. Alex Lindsey talked about this on MacBreak Weekly a few weeks ago. He spoke so highly of it, I plopped down my $1.99 and started using it immediately.

    autostitch-screen-capture.PNGYou take a bunch of overlapping photos and it stitches them together, it does this completely automatically, there is no user intervention. You can use pictures you’ve taken with the iPhone but you can just as easily use pictures that you’ve synced with the phone. So this can work for the iPod Touch too, just sync some photos and when you’ve got some spare time, stitch them together. It does an amazing job.

    I first used some photos that I shot on my Canon SD1100, it that just happened to be synced to the phone and did a great job of stitching them together. So you don’t need an iPhone, an iPod Touch with photos that you’ve synced works great too.

    Above you can see a sample screenshot from the program where I chose 22 photos and it stitched them together (click it to enlarge). Remember all I did was pick the photos and a few minutes later it churned these out. All these photos were taken with the iPhone 3gs. If I cropped some of the edges of the photos, it’d look like I took there with a really wide angle lens.

    Here are two samples:

    detroit-cityfestjaggies.JPG
    I chose this one specifically so you can really see how it pieces these together. It’s got gaps in it, (I think) this is the one I took 22 photos for the image; just the part with the people on the blanket in the middle is 3 or 4 images.
    Click the image to enlarge to 2,500 by 800 pixels.



    detroitcityfest.JPG
    This one is more complete as I took many up and down photos to go with it. That’s the Detroit Fisher Building on the left.
    Click the image to enlarge to 2,000 by 1,000 pixels.

    These pictures were taken at CityFest in Detroit this summer.

    I’ve used it multiple times and only once had a problem; it got confused when I did a 360 panorama when the same type of railing showed up several times, this was because all the condos where I live are similar so it really couldn’t match things up. There are some matching issues with color/contrast and people moving, but this is really great!

    This software is well worth the $1.99! I think I got that much fun out of it in the first hour, let alone all the time since then. ZZZ

    Written By: Gary on June 16, 2009 One Comment

    tweetdeckiphone.gifSo in my attempt to start using Twitter more I installed TweetDeck today. Coincidentally, later on today they also released a free iPhone/Touch version of TweetDeck today which will sync with your columns (you need to download the new desktop version for the syncing). Syncs with multiple desktop clients too.

    It seems like a great iPhone/Touch client even on it’s own: Take photos and immediately post to Twitter (via TwitPic etc.), shake to refresh, reorder columns.

    tweetdeck.pngAnd TweetDeck appears to support multiple Twitter accounts (I don’t think that feature was in there earlier today).

    Later: Looks like it only syncs columns you create after installing the new version. At least that’s the only way I can get it to work. And I manually had to sync, it doesn’t seem to be persistent, but I’m not changing my columns that often so no problem for me. (I relaunched to test but still no joy, maybe I just need to wait?)Not getting any syncing between my “columns”. I think I’m doing something wrong(?).

    Even Later: So the iPhone version is syncing when it loads today (it was not doing this yesterday); it actually asks before adding a column. But the desktop version (for Mac) isn’t asking me to do this.

    Written By: Gary on May 6, 2009 One Comment

    Testing the WordPress Client for the Touch and iPhone.

    A few extra features with editing categories and pages, but I can’t figure how to use a current category. You can publish or keep local drafts too. Looks like it will post more than one photo (unlike iBlogger).

    Sample screen below…

    I like this, it’s free and it appears to work well off-line. It supports multiple blogs. It attaches the photos at the bottom but I think after posting it, you could easily edit the html (while still on the handheld) to move it. Still not sure how to use an existing category. I like the ability to publish drafts so I can possibly edit them on the computer before finally posting.

    It also lets you approve/spam comments! This is a great feature!

    (By default this showed up in the “uncategorized” category, but then it showed that cattegory so I changed the category to “blogging” )

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