Archive for June, 2010

Preview: Pulse News for iPhone

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Alphonso Labs, the developer of Pulse News Reader for the iPad – the same app that garnered a bit of attention a few weeks ago when The New York Times asked Apple to remove it from the App Store – has submitted an iPhone-specific version of its elegant news reader app for approval. We got our hands on the build submitted to the App Store to see how it works on our iPhone 4.

We were a little concerned that a smaller screen would make Pulse News a bit less enjoyable to use but we’re pleased to note that Alphonso Labs has adapted the interface well to the iPhone. Much of this may have to do with the iPhone 4’s superb Retina Display but we expect that the app will still be quite readable on previous iPhone models as well.

Pulse News for the iPhone works exactly like the iPad version. The app comes pre-loaded with some sample sources and it’s easy to edit the source list to suit your tastes. Added sources are shown in horizontal strips – scrolling horizontally shows you all of the loaded items for that source and scrolling up and down moves you through all of the sources you’ve added.

If you’re a Google Reader user, you can also add sources from your Google Reader account right within the app. Sharing articles via Facebook, Twitter, or email is easy and Instapaper support is also included.

Tapping on an individual item expands the article to take over most of the screen while the source strip remains visible and scrollable at the bottom of the screen. The source strip smartly disappears once you start scrolling through the article and reappears when you tap on the small tab that remains visible. Tapping on the title box at the top of an expanded article brings you to the actual web view of the article online.

The app is iOS 4 compatible as well, saving its last state so you can go right back to where you were when you go back to it after using another app under iOS 4’s multitasking feature.

Alphonso Labs has posted a video showing the upcoming app in action:

While Pulse News is still not an app intended to help you power through hundreds of RSS feeds quickly, it remains a refined and polished way to leisurely read news and updates from your favorite sites in its iPhone incarnation. If you already own the iPad version, you’ll need to pay again to purchase the iPhone version, but we don’t mind paying for a quality app for a specific device.

Pulse News for iPhone is currently awaiting approval from Apple. Alphonso Labs has not yet divulged how much it will cost when released.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/news/pulse-news-reader”]

Wired Magazine Drops Digital Issue Price

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

The Wired Magazine app got an update to version 1.1 this morning and it now offers the July issue of the magazine for $3.99. Wired Magazine first hit the App Store late last month and impressed many, including us, with its polish and interactivity though the $4.99 price tag was a little on the high side, matching the newsstand price of the paper version and far exceeding the paper version’s subscription price of under $1.00 per issue ($10 for a 12-month subscription).

Those who purchased the June 2010 issue can re-download it within the updated app at no charge. While a price decrease of $1.00 for an issue is welcome, it remains to be seen whether or not the market will bear this price in the long term. All Things Digital talked to Wired Magazine’s Editor in Chief, Chris Anderson, who described his beliefs about digital-versus-print pricing:

I would say that right now, all of us have opinions about the perfect price,” he says. “My feeling, my own personal instinct, is that digital should be at slight discount to print.

The July issue weighs in at a heft 337 MB and we recommend that you download it via a Wi-Fi connection, particularly if you’re not on an unlimited cellular data plan.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/news/wired-magazine”]

Hulu Plus Announced, Coming to iPad and iPhone [UPDATED]

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

It’s been a couple of months since we last heard rumors about Hulu’s upcoming subscription service but those rumors have come to fruition today with an official announcement from the company about its Hulu Plus service.

Hulu Plus will offer subscribers access to the entire current and past seasons of TV shows. Content will be available in HD and viewable on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch plus a wide range of other devices including Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3, Samsung Blu-ray players and more. The subscription will cost $9.99 per month.

Hulu has posted a video to introduce the service:

Only Preview Invites are being offered at this time and users can request one here. Hulu has not announced when the subscription service will be made available to the general public.

UPDATED:

The Hulu Plus app is now available in the App Store, though an invitation is still required to preview the new Hulu Plus subscription service.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/entertainment/hulu-plus”]

Flashlight Apps for iPhone 4 in the Works

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

MacRumors points out that developers are already working on apps that use the iPhone 4’s LED light as a flashlight. If you have an iPhone 4 or have tested one out in person, you’ve probably noticed that its LED light is exceptionally bright and it was inevitable that the idea of using it solely as a flashlight popped into the heads of enterprising developers. What is unknown, however, is whether or not this use of the LED light is acceptable under the iOS SDK and we’re not sure if the apps that don’t provide any other functionality will be approved.

Of course, it’s possible to skip getting a dedicated app for this and simply open the Camera app, switch it to video mode and then turn on the LED light manually. However, this takes multiple taps and the advantage of a dedicated flashlight app would be in decreasing the number of steps it takes to turn the light on.

Developer Artamata has posted a video of its flashlight app, dubbed Power Light, demonstrating how it works:

Artamata’s app has been submitted to Apple and is awaiting approval and we’ve heard of a few others already in the approval queue as well.

We have found one app already in the App Store that touts itself as a flashlight app for the iPhone 4 – Laan Labs’ CameraLight hit the App Store yesterday and sells for $.99. We tested it out to see if it works as claimed and found that it doesn’t quite fit the bill. When the app is opened, the LED light on our iPhone 4 flashes briefly and then turns off though the app indicates that the light is on. Turning the light on requires tapping twice on the app’s light button, first to switch it off and then again to turn it back on. So, CameraLight doesn’t quite function as expected as a flashlight app. The app also works as a camera app for low-light conditions, showing the viewfinder image with a red or green overlay to avoid ruining your night vision, though this overlay is unfortunately saved with any photos captured with the app.

If you’re looking for just a simple flashlight app for your iPhone 4, CameraLight isn’t a good choice though it could be if the app is fixed to keep the LED light on when it’s opened. Otherwise, you can keep your fingers crossed that the other flashlight apps will be approved by Apple.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/utilities/cameralight-see-in-the-dark”]

Kindle App Updated For Multimedia Content

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Amazon announced yesterday that its universal app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch has been updated to take advantage of embedded video and audio content in a new ebook type offered by the global bookseller. Kindle Editions with Audio/Video will include additional content to supplement the reading experience. For example, the book Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum contains video content with tips on how to prepare a cake.

Only a handful of these enhanced ebooks, all priced at $9.99, are available now and they can be browsed on Amazon’s dedicated page within online Kindle store. The multimedia content in these books can only be experienced through the iPad/iPhone app and not through Amazon’s own Kindle reading devices.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/books/kindle-for-iphone”]

Eliminate: Gun Range Uses iPhone 4 Gyroscope

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Touch Arcade points out that ngmoco’s new Eliminate: Gun Range app makes use of the iPhone 4’s gyroscope and that Engadget has been kind enough to post a video of the game in action. As far as we can tell, this is the first third-party app available that takes specific advantage of the iPhone 4’s gyroscope, a hardware feature not present on previous iPhone models. Eliminate: Gun Range is a fairly straight-forward game offering target-shooting challenges with more guns becoming available as you earn credits by hitting targets.

Eliminate: Gun Range is currently only compatible with the iPhone 4 though ngmoco promises that iPhone 3GS support, along with new content, are coming soon.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/games/eliminategunrange”]

Essential Apps: Getting Started With iPhone 4

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Apple announced last week that more than 600,000 pre-orders had been made for the iPhone 4 and a large portion of those pre-orders will be fulfilled tomorrow as the new device is officially released in the U.S. and a handful of other countries. If you’re one of the lucky ones getting a new iPhone tomorrow and are wondering what apps to start out with out of the 200,000 and counting already available, we’ve got some recommendations for you.

Communication

Going beyond the iPhone’s built-in calling and text messaging features, there are other options to make calls cheaply and send messages without using up the minutes or messages of whatever call and data plan you’re on. Skype is a company that offers voice-over-IP calls (VOIP) and the company’s free app allows you to use the service over a 3G or Wi-Fi connection, as well as send instant and text messages.

Instant messaging is a hugely popular form of communication and while there are plenty of apps in the App Store that can keep you connected, we’ve found Beejive to be one of the best of the bunch. It offers push notifications so that you’ll know when you receive a new message even when the app is closed and is reliable and easy to use.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/social-networking/skype, http://appshopper.com/social-networking/beejiveim”]

Search and Navigation

If you want to find reviews and information on local businesses around you to see if they’re worthy of your hard-earned cash, Yelp, an online user-driven review service, has a fantastic app that will give you just that. Yelp can use the iPhone’s GPS chip to deliver local results, making searching even easier. It also has a nifty “monocle” view that uses the iPhone’s camera and digital compass to show a real-time overlay to point out the businesses around you.

While you can definitely do a Google search in the Safari web browser app, Google makes it a little easier for you by providing a search app that eliminates one step from the web-searching process. Plus, you don’t even need to type anything in to search since the app has a voice recognition feature that allows you to simply speak the search terms.

UrbanSpoon is another user-driven service that focuses on restaurants, with ratings, menus, and other information provided by members. You can instantly find restaurants by cuisine, rating, or even gamble a little and use the app’s fun slot machine feature to let it choose a restaurant for you.

Finally, there are a ton of navigation apps available in the App Store and while we’re thrilled to have so many choices, it can be a little overwhelming to, um, navigate through all of the available options and choose the best one. We’ve tried a lot of these apps and the one we keep coming back to and rely on regularly is Navigon’s MobileNavigator. While not perfect (we have seen a few strange routes planned out for us), it has always gotten us to our destination and the optional traffic information and automatic re-routing has literally saved us hours when getting around Boston during rush hour. Navigon has posted a video of an update in the works that will add background navigation guidance and we’re looking forward to its release.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/travel/yelp, http://appshopper.com/reference/google-mobile-app, http://appshopper.com/travel/urbanspoon, http://appshopper.com/navigation/mobilenavigator-north-america”]

Social Networks

Twitter is one of the hottest social networking services around these days and the company has its own official Twitter app for the iPhone now. This app is free and is a great to use to get up and running with Twitter on your new iPhone.

While the official Twitter app is quite capable and has an excellent price of $0 (and it just got updated to version 3.0.1 that adds multi-tasking under iOS 4), we have also been drawn to a relative Twitter app newcomer, Osfoora. It offers an eye-pleasing dark theme and slick interface, blazing fast downloads of new tweets, easy access to the public timeline, and more.

Facebook is another major social networking service that millions of people use every day and it, too, has its own official iPhone app. Unlike with Twitter, there aren’t as many other alternative apps that provide access to everything Facebook offers, so the official Facebook app will be your best bet for the long haul.

If professional networking is more your game, LinkedIn has also joined in on the iPhone fun with its own official app as well. LinkedIn claims more than 70 million users worldwide and its app will let you do just about everything you can do on the service’s website, all from that shiny iPhone in your hot little hands.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/social-networking/tweetie-2, http://appshopper.com/social-networking/osfoora, http://appshopper.com/social-networking/facebook, http://appshopper.com/social-networking/linkedin”]

Music

The iPhone is a fantastic portable media device and while it’s iPod app is more than adequate to organize your music, podcasts, and audio books, it doesn’t quite do everything you might want it to. If you’ve ever heard a song and want to know who the artist is and what the title is, the iPod app can’t help you but Shazam can. Shazam is a free music identification app that uses the iPhone’s microphone to “listen” to a song, identify it, and then show you all of that information along with handy links to go buy it right away.

If you want to go beyond the music you already have, Pandora is a music service that creates personalized radio “stations” for you based on music you already like. The Pandora Music app is a must-have to help you find new music and spice up your music-listening routine a bit.

If listening to local radio stations or even ones halfway across the world is more your thing, Wunder Radio is a great app. It lets you access more than 50,000 radio stations around the world, all from your iPhone any time you want. It’s not a free app but it’s well worth the price in our view.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/music/shazam, http://appshopper.com/music/pandora-radio, http://appshopper.com/music/wunderradio”]

Utilities

We do a lot of shopping and we’re always tempted to compare prices of items we find in brick and mortar stores to see if we can do better buying from an online store. Red Laser has remained a staple on our iPhones in helping us do just that. Able to read barcodes remarkably well on every iPhone model to date, it displays price results from line stores plus other local brick and mortar stores. Red Laser has saved us money time and again and we’d recommend it to anyone who wants to get the best deals on just about anything.

It can be quite a task to generate a variety of complex and secure passwords and store all of your log-in information and other private data securely but there are a number of apps that can help you do this easily. We recently reviewed Ascendo DataVault on the iPad and since it’s a universal application, it works on the iPhone as well. It can sync your data with a desktop companion app (available for the Mac and PC) and works alone as well. Using the same encryption standard that the U.S. government employs, we feel comfortable storing our passwords in DataVault.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/utilities/redlaser, http://appshopper.com/business/ascendo-datavault-password-manager”]

Entertainment

If you’re a fan of movies and television shows, or even if you just need to look up movie times occasionally, the official IMDB app will fit the bill for you. Taking advantage of its massive database, you can find information on just about any movie or show in the entire history of filmmaking plus current information to find theaters and showtimes near you.

If you get your cable television service from Comcast or AT&T U-verse in the U.S., you’ll be happy to know that each company has an app that lets you browse your channel guide and manage your DVR remotely just in case you forgot to set it to record a show and you’re away from home. It’s apps like these that make us appreciate the wonders of modern technology.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/entertainment/imdb, http://appshopper.com/entertainment/comcast-mobile-app, http://appshopper.com/entertainment/att-mobile-remote-access”]

Sports

If you like to stay on top of sports news as it’s happening, ESPN offers its ESPN Radio app that provides access to live radio broadcasts plus ESPN podcasts while Sports Illustrated has a free app that gives live scoreboard information for various sports from college to professional levels.

Major league baseball fans will be thrilled with the MLB.com At Bat 2010 app that will let you listen live to every single regular and post-season game, and watch live games as well. It’s a little more expensive than the other sports apps we’ve mentioned, but the app’s high ratings show that it’s proved its worth to iPhone users.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/sports/espn-radio, http://appshopper.com/sports/sports-illustrated-sicom, http://appshopper.com/sports/mlbcom-at-bat-2010″]

Games

Games have been such a huge hit on the iPhone that it’s hard to select a couple to highlight for new iPhone users, but TouchArcade has created an exhaustive list of recommended games.

Must-have apps from Apple

Ebooks are gaining popularity, particularly since the release of Amazon’s Kindle ebook reading device a few years ago, and Apple has joined in the fray with its own ebook store and app. iBooks is available as a free download and offers access to thousands of books, including New York Times best sellers and free classics under public domain.

If you want to buy some accessories for your iPhone or shop for a new computer, there’s no need to go to an Apple store or even point your browser to Apple’s website – you can use the recently-released Apple Store app to check out everything Apple sells and even place an order right within the app. If you want to check out the shiny Apple goodness on your shopping list in person first, the app will also help you locate the closest store.

Losing your iPhone would be a heart-breaking event in our book, but what if you could use your iPhone’s own GPS chip to help you locate it? If you’re a subscriber to Apple’s MobileMe push email and over-the-air contact and calendar synchronization service, you can take advantage of its Find My iPhone feature which has an accompanying app. This app won’t do you any good on your lost iPhone, but you can install it on another iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch) to which you have access to track down your own iPhone.

The iPhone 4 is capable of recording 720p HD video at up to 30 frames per second and the videos you capture with it have the potential to become keepsakes in your home movie collection. To help you polish these videos up, Apple has just released the iMovie app that will let you edit these movies right on the iPhone. With iMovie, you can add themes, music and even pictures to your videos to turn them into movie masterpieces on the go.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/books/ibooks, http://appshopper.com/lifestyle/apple-store, http://appshopper.com/utilities/find-my-iphone, http://appshopper.com/photography/imovie”]

Apple Releases iMovie App

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

As promised at the WWDC keynote event earlier this month, Apple has released its iMovie app that offers on-device movie editing for the iPhone 4. The app has a host of impressive features, including the ability to apply themes and add music, photos and special effects to videos created with the iPhone 4:

Made for Multi-Touch.

  • Tap to add or record video right into your project.
  • Drag to trim the lengths of video clips and photos.
  • Pinch to zoom the timeline and get a closer look.
  • Slide to scrub through the video in your project.

Give it a theme.

  • Choose from a selection of themes including Modern, Bright, Travel, Playful, and News.
  • Each theme includes a matching set of titles and transitions – plus its own soundtrack.
  • Instantly change themes or swap themed elements in your project.
  • Titles and graphics automatically update with location data from your video.

Add music and photos.

  • Select from included music that matches each iMovie theme, or select from your own song library.
  • Enable ducking to automatically lower the volume of background music and highlight audio from video clips.
  • Add photos from your own library, or take a picture and drop it into your project.
  • Customize each photo with a unique “Ken Burns” panning effect.

Share your movie.

  • Export your movie in one of three sizes: Medium, Large, or HD.
  • Share your movie on the web in a MobileMe gallery or on YouTube.
  • Send your movie to friends and family in an email or via an MMS message.
  • Easily sync your movie back to your computer.

iMovie is compatible only with the iPhone 4 and will not work on any other iPhone or iPod touch model.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/photography/imovie”]

Gameloft $.99 Sale Going On Now

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

To celebrate the release of the iPhone 4, Gameloft is offering a number of its titles for just $.99. The company isn’t saying how long this sale will last, noting only that it’s for a “limited time” and we recommend that you hop to it if any of these titles have been on your Wish List.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/games/gt-racing-motor-academy”]

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/games/uno”]

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/games/brothers-in-arms®-2-global-front”]

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/games/nova-near-orbit-vanguard-alliance”]

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/games/gangstar-west-coast-hustle”]

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/games/shrek-kart”]

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/games/assassins-creed-altairs-chronicles”]

TomTom Navigation Apps Now Multitask, Give Background Guidance

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

It was just a few days ago that Navigon impressed us with a video of its impending update to its MobileNavigator apps to take advantage of multitasking in iOS 4, but TomTom has apparently beat all of the other navigation app developers to the punch and its own iOS 4-optimized update is available right now.

Version 1.4 of the TomTom apps includes a ton of new features including updated maps plus the ability to continue seeing visual navigation guidance during phone calls (on iPhone 3GS and up only) and voice instructions in the background when using another app. Here’s a full list of what’s new:

  • SEAMLESS NAVIGATION WHILE CALLING (iPhone 3GS only*): See continuous visual instructions, even when you are on a call, so you still find your way. Now making and answering calls safely won’t slow you down.
  • NEW, UPDATED MAPS: Drive with the latest maps. TomTom maps include 1 million more miles of US roads than competitors and have been rated highest in quality and reliability. Your TomTom app comes ready to navigate with the most accurate, most up-to-date maps available.
  • BACKGROUND NAVIGATION INSTRUCTIONS (iPhone 3GS & iPod touch 3rd Gen. only*): Lets you see other apps on your screen while still receiving spoken turn-by-turn instructions.
  • ROUTE SHARING: Share your route details with your contacts via email. Keep friends and family up to date with your plans.
  • DEPARTURE REMINDER: Your departure is synched with your calendar, so you can set it and get a timely reminder.
  • ECO ROUTES: Save money and reduce your impact on the environment by driving with these more fuel-efficient Eco Routes.
  • CAR SYMBOLS: Personalise the car symbol on your driving screen. Choose from a range of car icons and symbols.
For a full list of all of the TomTom’s navigation apps, go here. The 1.4 update isn’t live for all of the region apps, but we expect that they’ll hit the App Store soon.
[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/navigation/tomtom-us-canada”]
[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/navigation/tomtom-europe”]