Archive for July, 2010

Review: PushURL Sends Links from Computer to iPhone

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Every now and then, we come across a link that we want to view on our iPhone as we head away from our computer to another room or out of the house altogether. While it’s certainly possible to copy the URL to an email and send it to an account set up on our iPhone, this takes multiple steps and there’s an app that, along with a companion bookmarklet, makes this a one-step process instead. PushURL is that app and we’ve found it to be a very useful, though somewhat niche, app.

When you first open PushURL on your iPhone, you’ll be asked if you want to let the app send you push notifications (select yes or the app will not fulfill its function) you are presented with a unique token – this token is what identifies your device specifically so it can receive URLs sent from your computer. You need to enter this token on the PushURL site and then install the bookmarklet in your computer’s browser (the app also offers a shortcut for you to enter your email address so the bookmarklet can be sent to you).

Adding the bookmarklet to your browser’s bookmarks bar or a folder makes it easier to access. When you’re at a site that you want to view on your iPhone, just click the PushURL bookmarklet in your browser and a small pop-up will let you know that the URL has successfully been pushed to your device. Of course, your iPhone must have an internet connection in order to receive it. In a moment, you’ll see this push notification pop up on your iPhone:

Selecting View will open the PushURL app briefly and then it will cycle through to open Safari on its own, taking you to the URL that was pushed from your computer’s browser.

If you choose Close instead in that push notification pop-up, that URL is not stored anywhere and you’ll need to push it again from your desktop if you want to open it on your iPhone.

While useful, we find PushURL to be a niche app in the sense that it serves a single purpose that most people will not need to use all that frequently. While it does what it does very well, we wish that it could store all URLs pushed even if we choose not to open them on our iPhone upon receipt. We also wish there was some way for it to work the other way around – we find more often that we want to push a URL from our iPhone to our computer for browsing on a larger screen. (Regarding this last wish, we have been testing an app that does this and will be reviewing it here shortly.) However, if you find that you frequently want to send URLs to your iPhone from your computer to make it easier to show someone else a website or browse a particular site immediately away from your computer, PushURL does the job for a very reasonable $.99.

While PushURL is not universal and lacks an interface specifically for the iPad, its description states that it will work on the iPad. We, however, were unable to receive push notifications on our iPad (connected to both Wi-Fi and 3G networks) for some unknown reason.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/utilities/pushurl”]

iChatr Brings Random Video Chat to iPhone 4

Monday, July 12th, 2010

If you’ve heard of ChatRoulette, a website that connects users randomly to others around the world for video chats, and had a hankering for something similar on the iPhone, iChatr has stepped up to the plate. The free app came out over the weekend and uses the iPhone 4’s front-facing camera, connecting you to other random iPhone 4 users around the world.

In order to work, you must be connected to a Wi-Fi network and connect a headset your iPhone, like the one that comes with the iPhone 4 in the box. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t make use of the iPhone’s speaker, hence the requirement for a headset. Switching to a new chat partner is as easy as swiping across the screen to connect to another random user.

Note that there’s no way to screen out adult-oriented material and the service doesn’t have control over what users say or do, so parents and others who do not wish to be exposed to such content should consider this before downloading the app.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/social-networking/ichatr-random-video-chat”]

Navigon MobileNavigator Updated With Multitasking for iOS 4

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

A few weeks ago, Navigon posted a video highlighting its planned update to its MobileNavigator app with new features for iOS 4, including mulititasking and fast-app switching. That update hit the App Store early this morning and we’re downloading the 1.52 GB update right now to check it out. The full list of new features includes:

- iOS 4 support including Multitasking and FastAppSwitch
– Latest available NAVTEQ map data
– Live Weather information (at destination and on route)
– CleverParking (Parking spots around your destination and prior to arriving at the destination are shown)
– New destination overview screen providing weather, parking and POI information around your destination
– Refined RealityView Pro

    To celebrate the release of this update, MobileNavigator North America is on sale for $49.99, an attractive $30 off its regular price. Other regions are also on sale, including the apps for Europe, Australia, the Middle East and more.

    MobileNavigator has been our favorite iPhone navigation app so far and made it to our list of essential apps recommended for those new to the iPhone and now is a great time to grab it at its sale price.

    [applink url=”http://appshopper.com/navigation/mobilenavigator-north-america”]

    Ben & Jerry’s ‘Moo Vision’ Adds Package-Recognizing Augmented Reality

    Friday, July 9th, 2010

    It was just the other day that we pointed out Metaio’s Junaio app with its new “glue” feature that uses the iPhone’s camera to recognize objects and superimpose information in real-time. We thought this was exciting technology that we hope to see soon in more apps and it turns out that Ben & Jerry’s, the famous ice cream company, has updated its Scoop of Happiness app to include this functionality. We’re not sure if they’re using Metaio’s SDK but the app works similarly to Junaio.

    Ben & Jerry’s Scoop of Happiness will work on any device running iOS 3.0 or higher and though the app description doesn’t state it, we’re guessing it requires an iPhone 3G or better to use the new augmented reality feature. Through the Moo Vision tab within the app, you can point the iPhone’s camera at a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (only four flavors are supported at this time: NY Super Fudge Chunk, Cherry Garcia, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Milk and Cookies) and once the package is recognized, additional information will be superimposed over it on the iPhone’s screen. Here’s a demo of how this works (along with an overview of all of the app’s features):

    Again, we hope that this technology comes to more and more apps or even natively to iOS itself (yes, we dream big) so that you don’t need to open specific apps to see information about different types of products or landmarks around you. That would be almost as cool as flying cars and complete meals in pill form. Almost.

    [applink url=”http://appshopper.com/lifestyle/ben-jerry’s-scoop-of-happiness”]

    Fring Adds Two-Way Video Calling for iPhone 4

    Thursday, July 8th, 2010

    Fring, a free communications app available for a number of different mobile platforms, has been updated to include 2-way video calling for the iPhone 4. Video calls can be done over 3G or Wi-Fi and since Fring also offers versions of its app for Android and Nokia devices, iPhone 4 users can conduct video calls with more people other than just those who can use Facetime on another iPhone 4.

    Version 3.2.0.5 of Fring also adds multi-tasking features for iOS 4.

    Fring has posted a video demonstrating how 2-way video calls work on the iPhone 4:

    Beyond video calling, Fring also offers access to for Skype, Facebook, Twitter, ICQ, SIP, and GoogleTalk, MSN Live, Yahoo, and AIM instant messaging accounts to act as a user’s “mobile social hub.”

    [applink url=”http://appshopper.com/social-networking/fring”]

    Roundup: iPhone 4 LED Flashlight Apps

    Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

    It was just a few days ago when we first heard that flashlight apps specifically for the iPhone 4’s camera light were in the works and several have appeared in the App Store. We took a quick look 8 (!) of these (plus another look at the first one we found a few days ago) that appeared in the App Store today help you decide which one is best for you. Of course, iPhone 4 owners only need apply since these apps will not work with any other iPhone models.

    lightON is the dead simplest iPhone 4 flashlight apps so far. As soon as you open the app, the iPhone 4’s LED light turns on and stays on.

    There are no virtual switches to turn it off – you’ll need to exit the app to do that.

    [applink url=”http://appshopper.com/utilities/lighton”]

    LED-Torch is a small step up from lightON in that it offers a way to turn off the iPhone 4’s LED light within the app. The only item in the app’s interface is the “Double tap to toggle on/off” instruction and it works as claimed.

    The iPhone 4’s LED light turns on as soon as the app is opened.

    [applink url=”http://appshopper.com/utilities/led-torch”]

    LED iLight shows you a virtual flashlight barrel, complete with sliding switch. We must say that this virtual flashlight looks a bit rough around the edges, in case you care about this sort of thing. You have to toggle the switch to turn on the iPhone 4’s LED light since it does not turn on automatically when you open the app.

    If you leave the light switch toggled in the on position when you leave the app, it will stay on when you go back to it.

    [applink url=”http://appshopper.com/utilities/led-ilight”]

    iFlash for iPhone 4 offers a strobe feature, along with a warning at start-up letting you know that the strobe can induce seizures in some, on top of the basic flashlight feature. The iPhone 4’s LED light does not turn on when you first open the app and you need to tap the virtual Flashlight button to switch it on, though it will remember the on position for the next time you open the app. The Start Strobe button does exactly what you expect it to and a slider offers some control over how fast the light strobes.

    While this app probably offers the most functionality in a pure flashlight app so far with its strobe feature, the interface is unpolished and unattractive in our eyes.

    [applink url=”http://appshopper.com/entertainment/iflash-for-iphone-4″]

    LED Torch Flashlight takes a similar approach as LED iLight but with a picture of what looks to be an actual picture of a standard silver 4-cell Maglite with a virtual on/off switch overlaid on the barrel. The LED light must be turned on with the switch since it doesn’t go on automatically when you open the app. The first time we used the app to turn the light on, the Camera app’s iris animation displayed for a brief moment, though this didn’t happen when we closed and opened the app up again.

    Like LED iLight, if you leave the light switch toggled to On when you leave the app, it will stay on when you re-open it.

    With its fantastic price of $0, this app wins the category so far in our eyes. It may not be the prettiest or offer other features, but it does the job of turning your iPhone 4’s powerful LED camera light into a flashlight.

    [applink url=”http://appshopper.com/utilities/led-torch-flashlight”]

    LED Switch offers the cutest interface out of the bunch so far, showing a virtual wall switch that must be flicked up or down to turn the light on and off. When the light is off, the iPhone’s display is dimmed to provide an even more obvious visual display that it’s not in the on position.

    [applink url=”http://appshopper.com/utilities/led-switch”]

    Flashlight – For iPhone 4 turns the iPhone 4’s light on immediately upon opening the app the very first time. The on position is noted with a virtual green LED at the bottom of the screen. Tapping on a virtual button in the middle toggles it off and on accordingly, with a virtual red LED light at the bottom acting as the opposite indicator.

    The interface here is another virtual flashlight barrel with a bit more polish in its design than LED Torch Flashlight and LED iLight.

    [applink url=”http://appshopper.com/utilities/flashlight-for-iphone-4″]

    When it comes to the virtual flashlight barrel interface theme, Flashlight 4 offers the nicest-looking one with a red virtual sliding switch to toggle the light on and off. The app turns the LED light on each time you open the app, even if it was toggled off the last time you used it.

    [applink url=”http://appshopper.com/utilities/flashlight-4-2″]

    We looked at CameraLight the other day and found that it didn’t work quite as we had hoped, but we did want to note that the bug that would not let the iPhone 4’s LED light remain on when the app was opened when we first tried it has been fixed.

    The camera feature it offers still seems to be of little value but there is now a switch to turn the camera off and along with the Dim button to turn down the screen’s brightness, it should be a bit easier on the iPhone 4’s battery as well.

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

    We think this is just the beginning of flashlight apps for the iPhone 4 and this category is going to get crazier than it ever was back when developers only had the iPhone’s screen to use. Now we’re just waiting for an app that not only allows the use of the LED light and the iPhone 4’s screen as dual-flashlights but also lets you enter text that it can convey using Morse code with either light. Morse code has a real opportunity to make a comeback here. Just wait and see.

    MobileMe iDisk App Gets iPad Compatibility, iOS 4 Features

    Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

    Apple has updated its MobileMe iDisk app to universal format, adding specific compatibility for the iPad and its larger screen along with iOS 4 features and more in version 1.2. MobileMe is a subscription service offered by Apple that provides cloud storage, push email, and over-the-air contacts, calendar, and notes synchronization between multiple devices. The service costs $99 per year (though it can often be had for less through Amazon or other retailers) and a free 60-day trial is available for new users as well.

    The update includes the following:

    • Designed for both iPhone and iPad
    • Multitasking support for iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS (iOS 4 required).
    • Quickly switch to another app and back to iDisk
    • Play audio from your iDisk while using another app
    • When app is opened, the last file or directory viewed is displayed
    • Option to open iDisk documents in compatible apps such as iBooks
    • When sharing a file, an email can be sent from any configured email account
    • The URL for a shared file can be copied and pasted
    • Various stability improvements

    Apple has been a bit slow updating its own apps to make them officially compatible with the iPad’s larger screen. MobileMe iDisk is the first out of 5 apps the company first developed for the iPhone (MobileMe Gallery, Keynote Remote, Remote, and Texas Hold’em) to make the transition.

    [applink url=”http://appshopper.com/productivity/mobileme-idisk”]

    Metaio Brings Augmented Reality with Image Recognition to iPhone

    Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

    Metaio, a Germany-based company that develops augmented reality software for a variety of applications, has announced an update to its Junaio iPhone app that utilizes its new “glue” technology to recognize images via the iPhone’s camera and superimpose information in real-time. Metaio is also releasing a mobile Software Development Kit to enable developers to make use of the image-recognition technology in augmented reality applications. Metaio’s SDK takes advantage of additional APIs made available in iOS 4 that allow access to more live camera data than allowed previously.

    If this doesn’t sound exciting to you at first, you can demo the experience yourself (this demo requires an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4):

    1. Download the Junaio app (it’s free) from the App Store.
    2. Open the app and tap on the Subscribed Channels text box at the top and search for “Junaio Glue” without the quotation marks.
    3. Select the Junaio Glue demo channel
    4. Once the channel has finished loading, point your iPhone’s camera at the image below.

    See the superhero character superimposed over the image on your computer screen? Now, imagine being able to point your iPhone camera at any object you find in a store, a movie poster, or other item and immediately being able to see a 3D-image of a box’s contents plus its price, or movie times and links to other information or reviews. Welcome to the future. We’re hoping that more developers hop on this toot sweet because this technology has some serious potential.

    For those of you without an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4, Junaio provides a demo video to show you what this looks like:

    [applink url=”http://appshopper.com/navigation/junaio”]

    Pulse News Mini for iPhone Now Available

    Friday, July 2nd, 2010

    Pulse News Mini for the iPhone, which we previewed just a couple of days ago, hit the App Store yesterday. Pulse News Mini is the iPhone is a version of Alphonso Labs’ popular Pulse News Reader app for the iPad, which was released in mid-May. The app had been praised by Steve Jobs at the WWDC keynote event in early June, but then it was yanked unceremoniously from the App Store for a brief period after The New York Times complained to Apple about how the app used its content.

    Priced at $2.99, Pulse News Mini has already earned an overall 4-star rating from thousands of users. As we mentioned in our preview, Alphonso Labs did a great job of adapting the app to the iPhone’s smaller screen and it offers a refined and polished interface to make the news reading experience enjoyable.

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

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

    Chase Mobile Update Adds QuickPay and Check Deposits

    Thursday, July 1st, 2010

    Chase Manhattan Bank has updated its iPhone app to include new person-to-person payment and check deposit features. Chase account holders can now send payments from their account to anyone using just the receiver’s email address with Chase’s PayPal-like QuickPay feature. Checks can also be deposited through the app using the iPhone’s camera to capture an image of a check and submit it to Chase.

    The QuickPay feature is free to use for both the sender and receiver. What the app’s description doesn’t note is that the receiver must enroll in QuickPay with Chase before the money can actually be accepted, so keep that in mind. Chase touts QuickPay as a fast and secure way to send money to anyone.

    The new check deposit is not new to the iPhone – USAA was the first nearly a year ago – but it will likely be a very welcome feature for Chase account holders. The app guides you through the proper way to capture a check to deposit. Depositing a check through the iPhone app does not incur any fees.

    While Chase offers an iPad-specific mobile banking app, it has not been updated to offer the QuickPay feature (it’s unlikely the app will ever offer the check deposit feature since the device lacks a camera).

    [applink url=”http://appshopper.com/finance/chase-mobile-sm”]

    [applink url=”http://appshopper.com/finance/chase-mobile”]