Archive for November, 2010

Amazon Releases Price Check App for iPhone

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, the online retail giant has released Price Check for Amazon for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS running iOS 4. The free app hit the App Store early this morning and offers a number of ways to search for products. Users can scan bar codes, take a picture, or dictate or type the product name to prompt a search. Search results will return matches in Amazon’s U.S. catalog and users can purchase found items directly through the app.

Brick and mortar stores will certainly have a lot of competition this shopping season with tools like this available. RedLaser, one of our favorite scanning apps (which is also free), offers similar functionality by providing pricing and other information from eBay and other online stores as well as local brick and mortar stores.

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TiVo Previews Upcoming iPad App

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

TiVo, the popular DVR maker, has announced its upcoming iPad app that will offer remote control of its Premiere line of DVRs and much more. The free app will offer a “second screen” experience to browse the programming guide, manage recordings, and even share via Twitter and Facebook. The full list of the app’s features is as follows:

  • Browse full-screen program guide without interrupting playback
  • Schedule one-time recordings and Season Pass® recordings
  • Start watching a show with the flick of a finger
  • Browse your recorded shows and quickly launch a video on your TiVo Premiere
  • Search across broadcast TV and TiVo’s premium broadband providers—like Netflix and Amazon Video On Demand—and see integrated results
  • Explore cast and crew while watching a show
  • Post about what you’re watching on your Facebook page or Twitter account
  • Intuitive-gesture based remote control or classic TiVo remote interface
  • Manage Season Pass recordings and the To-Do List
  • Schedule, Search and Browse for shows while you’re out of the house

Tivo has posted a promotional video showcasing the app’s capabilities:

The TiVo app will only work with TiVo Premier and Premiere XL DVRs. More information is available on a dedicated page on TiVo’s site here and instructions on how to set up the iPad app with a compatible DVR are available here.

TiVo has not announced a specific date for the app’s release.

Netflix Now Offering Streaming-Only Plan

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

If you’ve been itching to use Netflix’s free app to watch movies and TV shows but haven’t wanted to sign up for a DVD rental plan as well, Netflix now has you covered. The DVD-rental and online streaming company announced today that it is offering a streaming-only plan that costs $7.99 per month:

First, we are now offering a new $7.99 a month plan which lets you instantly watch unlimited TV episodes and movies streamed to your computer or TV. This plan does not include any DVDs. All the titles you can watch instantly on your current plan are also available on this new plan, and as a reminder, not all titles on DVD are available to watch instantly. This new plan is available immediately – if you’d like to switch to this new plan at any time, simply visit Your Account.

Subscribers can watch streamed content on a Mac or PC and a number of compatible devices like the Xbox 360, Tivo DVRs and more, as well as on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad using Netflix’s free app.

Unfortunately, Netflix is also raising the prices on its plans that include DVD rentals by mail at the same time. The company has posted this new pricing chart to more clearly show the changes:

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Apple to Release iOS 4.2 Today, Find my iPhone Included for Free

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Apple has announced that iOS 4.2 for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch will be released today, meeting the November timeframe initially committed in the company’s September media event. Several rumors pointed to the release of iOS 4.2 earlier this month in conjunction with the release of iTunes 10.1 though a purported delay caused by Wi-Fi connectivity problems reportedly pushed this release date back.

A new feature now available at no charge that was not previously announced by Apple is the Find My iPhone service that was previously only offered through Apple’s paid MobileMe service. Now dubbed Find my iPhone, iPod, or iPod touch, the service will allow anyone with an iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod touch, or iPad with iOS 4.2 to use the service to find a lost device and control it enough to display a message on its screen, set a passcode lock, and more. Activating this new feature is done on-device in iOS 4.2.

Apple offers a free Find my iPhone app to complement this service.

iOS 4.2 will bring multi-tasking, a unified email inbox, and Game Center to the iPad. Prior to iOS 4.2, the iPad was a bit behind the iPhone and iPod touch without these features and iOS 4.2 brings parity to all iOS devices for the first time. iOS 4.2 will also bring new features to all iOS devices, including AirPlay and AirPrint. AirPlay will allow users to stream media wirelessly between iTunes and iOS devices over a local Wi-Fi network and AirPrint will allow printing directly to select compatible printers from an iOS device. At this time, AirPrint will only work with certain HP printers.

iOS 4.2 will be a free update for all compatible devices.

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Official AppShopper App Updated

Friday, November 19th, 2010

The official AppShopper app has been updated with a several new features, including the ability to remove ads via an in-app purchase, iOS 4.2 compatbility and more. Our official app was first released in September and received its last update adding push notifications just last month.

The universal app allows you to browse all of our current AppShopper filters (Categories, All/Popular, Paid/Free, New/Price Drops/Updates) and also gives you access to your own personal Wish List and Own List. You can choose to receive push notifications when there are updates or price changes in both lists.

The full list of new features and changes in version 1.3 is as follows:

  • In app purchase option to remove ads (iPhone/iPod touch only)
  • Added settings to block specific categories, select a specific country/currency, and block non-Western language apps
  • Popular and What’s New filters are now independent of each other
  • Improved warnings and dialogs when device is in airplane mode
  • iOS 4.2 tested
  • Various bug fixes and improvements

Removing ads via in-app purchase costs $.99. The AppShopper app itself is free to download and use.

In case you missed it, the Importer is available and will import the complete list of apps you already own from iTunes on your computer to your AppShopper profile. AppShopper Importer is for the Mac only though a Windows version is in beta testing. You can download the Mac version of the application here. The importer will pull only the app names from your iTunes library and nothing else. The application will ask you to log in to your AppShopper account to get started. If you don’t already have an account, you can create one here (accounts are free).

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Review: ‘Simply Postcards’ Lets You Create and Mail Postcards Straight from Your iPhone

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Picture this: You’re on a whirlwind tour through a country you’ve never visited and have little time in between activities to hunt down postcards, address them and add the obligatory “Wish you were here!” line, buy postage, and mail them to a long list of friends and family. What can you do? If you have your iPhone and the Simply Postcards app, you’re in luck.

Simply Postcards is a free app that provides you with a way to use pictures taken with your iPhone (or use any picture stored in the Photos app), pull addresses from your Contacts, add your custom text, and submit the virtual postcard to be printed and mailed for you. Sound good? We thought so too and tested out the app to see how the service actually works and we were very pleasantly surprised.

In order to create and send postcards, you must first set up an account within the app. An account is free and only requires your email address and a password.

To create a postcard, you must choose a photo from the photo library or use the camera to take a picture. You can zoom and move the picture around to focus in on a specific area if you’d like and there are basic photo editing tools within the app as well allowing you to rotate the image or adjust exposure. There are also overlays to apply to frame your picture with some graphics. At the time of this review, there are only four of these (Birthday, Holiday, Valentine, and Vintage Airmail) though Simply Postcards tells us that more are on the way soon.

Once you’ve finished adjusting the picture, you choose the Flip button to address the card and enter text in the section for your personalized message on the left. There are six fonts and font sizes from which to choose.

Recipients can be selected straight from the Contacts on your iPhone or entered manually. You can send the same postcard to up to 8 recipients at once.

While we didn’t feel that the font and font size choices were lacking, Simply Postcards is planning on adding more in a future update. Additionally, the company plans on adding a custom signature feature that would allow you to sign the postcard in your own handwriting using your finger or a compatible stylus.

After this, all you need to do is tap Send and confirm that you want to mail the current postcard. Once submitted, Simply Postcards states that your postcard is printed and stamped on the same day it’s submitted and sent out the next day with delivery within the U.S. in about three days or up to one week outside of the U.S. Our test postcard arrived within three days and looked exactly as we’d configured it. The paper felt like standard photo paper but a bit stiffer.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to view a list of postcards you’ve sent or check the status on any recently-submitted postcards though Simply Postcards tells us that history information on cards sent is coming soon.

Simply Postcards is generous in offering one free credit with the app, so you can try it out before spending any money. To send more postcards, you must buy credits which cost from $1.99 (if you only buy one credit at a time) down to $1.00 (if you buy 30 credits at once) each. It costs one credit to send a postcard within the U.S. and two credits to send a postcard outside of the U.S. All purchases are made via PayPal within the app where you can use an existing PayPal account or enter your credit card information without needing to create or log into a PayPal account.

While we used Simply Postcards on our iPhone for this review, the app also works on the iPad and iPod touch. Of course, on the iPad and iPod touch models without a camera you’ll only be able to select existing photos stored in the Photos app and won’t be able to capture new ones to use to create postcards.

We love apps that make our lives easier and let us leverage the connectivity and ease of use of our iPhones and Simply Postcards falls squarely in this category. While we’ve seen our share of lovely store-bought postcards, being able to send a more personalized postcard featuring you and/or friends and family enjoying an exotic locale is more meaningful in our humble opinion. While Simply Postcards is currently missing just a few features, like sent postcard tracking and additional overlays, an update adding these and more is planned for release in December and we think the app is a fun and exceptionally convenient one to use on vacation or anytime. We also really appreciate that Simply Postcards includes a free credit so you can test the service before spending your own money.

Simply Postcards has been kind enough to offer a special promo code for three free credits in addition to the one free credit already provided with the app for readers. Once you create your free account in the app, enter code “appshop3” without the quotation marks in Account –> Account Info –> Redeem Code within the app.

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Game Nirvana – ‘Rage’, ‘Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner’, and ‘The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense’ Arrive in App Store

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

A few big-name game releases are lighting up the the App Store today. Fans of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings get two new titles by THQ Wireless and Glu, respectively, while id Software, of Doom and Quake fame, have released Rage, a first-person shooter for the iPhone and iPad.

Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner, which hit the App Store yesterday, brings the Millenium Falcon to you with an augmented-reality mode using the camera on the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and 4th-generation iPod touch (a warning in the app’s descriptions notes that the game will only work with these more-recent devices due to memory needs). The game offers 20 levels of imperial starship destruction and features Game Center and Facebook integration.

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Glu, developer of the popular Gun Bros game and several other titles, have released iPhone and iPad-specific versions of a new tower defense-style game in the Lord of the Rings universe. The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense hit the App Store last night, featuring Story and Challenge modes, Retina display support, and Game Center integration.

TouchArcade has reviewed the game and recommends it as a “challenging and entertaining” take on the tower defense genre though its relatively high price may prompt you to consider your purchase a little bit more, particularly if you want to equip both an iPad and iPhone or iPod touch with the game.

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id Software, the developer of legendary titles Doom and Quake, has released Rage for the iPhone and iPad. Rage is a first-person shooter “on rails” that puts you in a post-apocalyptic world where you’re hunted by mutants as part of a deranged game show called Mutant Bash TV. The game is available in two versions, Rage and Rage HD, which are both universal and therefore a great value for those who have both an iPad and iPhone or iPod touch. Rage HD, however, offers higher-resolution graphics specifically for the iPad, iPhone 4, and 4th-generation iPod touch.

If you’re an id Software fan, there’s a very active forum thread over at TouchArcade about Rage where John Carmack, id Software’s co-founder, is actively participating in the discussion. Carmack has revealed two more potential iOS games in that thread and is also asking for suggestions to improve Rage in another thread.

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Boxcar Gets Major Update with New Services, Centralized Inbox, More

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

AppRemix’s Boxcar got a major update this week adding several new services to the push notification delivery app. Actually, Boxcar was updated twice in the past week to version 4.0  over the weekend and then to 4.1 today. Along with a new icon, Boxcar now works out-of-the box with Gowalla, Foursquare, Reddit, Google Voice, and much more. A unified inbox for received notifications is also a new feature, as well as app recommendations.

While many apps for popular services like Twitter and Facebook already offer push notifications, Boxcar provides a centralized place to keep track of all notifications and offers more notifications than many apps allow to begin with. For example, the official Twitter app that was just updated yesterday with push notifications will notify you of new mentions and direct messages only. Boxcar goes a little further and will let you receive push notifications when someone you follow tweets, there are new results for your favorite Twitter search and new trending topics, and more.

Though the new Google Voice app that debuted yesterday also offers push notifications for new text messages and voicemails, Boxcar can also provide notifications for your Google Voice account. Boxcar can also take you right to GV Mobile+ or GV Connect, two paid apps by 3rd-party developers that offer more features than the new official Google Voice app, when viewing a message.

The Boxcar app is free and ad-supported. An in-app purchase removes ads for $4.99.

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Hulu Plus Subscription Price Reduced, App Updated

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Hulu Plus, the paid TV and movie streaming service, is now officially out of Preview mode and has a new monthly price of $7.99, down from $9.99. Hulu Plus was first launched for the iPhone and iPad in late June and the service was available by invitation only until now. The company, a joint venture between NBC, News Corp (Fox), and the Walt Disney Company (ABC), announced the subscription price change in its blog today, along with new hardware partnerships and several special offers to reward new and current subscribers.

Hulu Plus offers subscribers access to several hit TV shows including ABC’s Castle, AMC’s The Walking Dead, Fox’s Fringe and Glee, and much more. Beyond the iPhone and iPad apps, Hulu Plus can now be used on Roku devices as well as PlayStation 3 game systems and will be available in the future on Xbox 360, Tivo Premiere DVR’s, and more.

In terms of incentives, Hulu is offering new subscribers a free one-week trial of Hulu Plus and current subscribers can earn two free weeks for referring others. Additional rewards are available with the purchase of certain Sony products and Roku devices.

The Hulu Plus app for the iPhone and iPad remains free and new users can take advantage of the new one-week free trial by signing up here.

UPDATE: The Hulu Plus app has been updated today, adding a new split-screen view on the iPad and other features and bug fixes. The full list of changes in version 2.0 is as follows:

  • New split-screen player on iPad
  • Enhanced queue and subscription management
  • Improved playback performance
  • New thumbnail behavior on iPad
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes

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Official Twitter App Gets Push Notifications, More

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Twitter, the wildly popular social networking service, has released an update to its official app adding push notifications for new mentions and direct messages. The update just hit the App Store this evening and features other improvements and changes for the universal app for the iPhone and iPad as well.

The full list of new features and changes in version 3.2 is as follows:


  • Improved display of shortened URLs
  • Correctly load reserved paths, such as
  • Fix connection error caused by a device clock being set incorrectly
  • Additional retina graphics
  • Enable geotagging in your account with one tap


  • Inline media
  • Manage saved searches
  • UI improvements

The official Twitter app first debuted in May for the iPhone. In September, the app was updated to universal format to add an iPad-specific interface. Version 3.2 still has the unique interface elements on the iPad that seemed to generate love or hate responses from users (we’re in the love camp and use the official Twitter app on our iPads regularly).

Regarding push notifications, Twitter provides a few more details on this new feature in its blog:

Whenever an account that you follow mentions you, you’ll immediately receive a notification. You’ll know who is talking to or about you on Twitter, and you’ll be able to continue the conversation in real-time. Notifications for @mentions will initially be available on SMS and on the latest version of Twitter for iPhone, which you can download today from the App Store.

In addition to @mentions, we’re also bringing push notifications for Messages to Twitter for iPhone, as we’ve already done with SMS and Twitter for Blackberry. We’re working hard to introduce this feature to Twitter for Android and Twitter for Windows Phone soon.

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