Archive for November, 2010

Official Google Voice App Now Available

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Google has released an official app for its Google Voice service. The free app app just hit the App Store a few moments ago and lets users access all the primary features of Google Voice, including placing calls, text messaging, and transcribed voicemails.

Note first that you need a Google Voice account first to use either app – accounts are free and can be requested here (Google Voice is currently only available in the U.S. only). If you’re not familiar with Google Voice, Google provides a number of overview videos on a special Features page. In short, Google Voice is a free service that provides users with a phone number, advanced call management features, voicemail transcription, and free text messaging. Contrary to what those unfamiliar with the service might think, it is not a VoIP service.

The app’s full description is as follows:

  • Access your Google Voice account right from your iPhone.
  • Receive push notifications for new text or voicemail messages.
  • Send free text messages to U.S. numbers and make international calls at cheap rates.
  • Listen to your voicemail, read transcripts and manage your Google Voice inbox.
  • Display your Google Voice number as caller ID when making calls.
  • Call contacts from your iPhone Address Book or enter new numbers on the dialpad.
  • A Google Voice account is required to use this app. To sign up go to
  • Google Voice is only available in the United States.

The Google Voice app was originally submitted to Apple last year and was an item of contention in an FCC inquiry, to which Apple responded publicly. Google had stated that Apple had rejected the app while Apple had maintained that it was still under review. If Apple’s claim about the app’s review status is correct, this is the longest time it’s ever taken Apple to review and approve an app that we’ve seen.

The official Google app offers push notifications to let you know about new text messages and voicemail transcriptions, which is a feature not currently included in two of the Google Voice apps we reviewed, GV Mobile+ and GV Connect.

  • Productivity

    Google Voice

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    Access your Google Voice account right from your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Send free text messages to US phones and make international calls at very low rates. Access your voicemail messages with...

The Beatles Now Available in iTunes Store

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Before 10:00 a.m. ET time today, music by The Beatles began appearing in iTunes stores around the world and now appears to be available everywhere. Previously, the English rock band’s music had not been widely available in downloadable digital format and this is the first time the band’s entire catalogue is available for purchase in the iTunes Store. Apple’s press release provides the following details:

Apple Corps, EMI and Apple® today announced that the Beatles, the most influential and beloved rock band in music history, are now available for the first time on the iTunes Store® ( Starting today, the group’s 13 legendary remastered studio albums with iTunes LPs, the two-volume “Past Masters” compilation and the classic “Red” and “Blue” collections are available for purchase and download on iTunes® worldwide as either albums or individual songs. Fans can also get a special digital “Beatles Box Set” featuring the “Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964” concert film, a worldwide iTunes exclusive which captures the Beatles’ very first US concert.

Albums are priced at $12.99, collections at $19.99, and individual songs are $1.29 each. The band’s entire catalogue can be purchased for $149.

This appears to be the extent of the iTunes announcement teased yesterday, with no sign of the release of iOS 4.2 in sight.

Comcast Releases Xfinity Remote App

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Comcast has released its cable box remote app, Xfinity TV, that we first heard about in May when the company gave a demo of the app at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association show. The free universal app hit the App Store early this morning and allows Comcast cable service subscribers to browse the program guide and control compatible Comcast Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) and set-top boxes.

Its remote control features are as follows according to the app’s description:

Now you can control your TV and DVR right from the XFINITY TV app. You can change channels, tune to On Demand programs, and schedule your DVR.

  • Conveniently change channels right from the app
  • Tune directly to On Demand programs to watch on your TV
  • Schedule DVR recordings of your favorite shows, series, and movies

The app does seem to be missing the social networking features that were talked about in the demo in May, including the ability to chat with other Comcast subscribers and invite friends to watch shows, though it’s possible that Comcast will add these features in a future version.

Note that the app does not appear to be compatible with the Tivo-branded DVR’s also offered by Comcast in some areas.

  • Entertainment

    XFINITY TV Remote

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    iOS Universal

    Download XFINITY TV Remote to control your compatible set top box. Search TV Listings, browse thousands of movies and TV shows in XFINITY On Demand, and schedule your DVR recordings directly from...

‘Exciting’ iTunes Announcement on November 16

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Apple has posted a teaser on its site this morning indicating an iTunes announcement will be made tomorrow, November 16. No indication of what that announcement will be is provided though images of small clocks posted in the teaser indicate we should keep our eyes peeled at 7:00 a.m. PT / 10:00 a.m. ET tomorrow morning.

iTunes has seen much activity in the past several days alone. iTunes was just updated to version 10.1 late last week, which will be required for iOS 4.2 when it’s released sometime this month. Last week, Twitter was officially integrated with Ping, the iTunes sharing/social networking service first announced by Apple at its September media event. Rumors of a cloud-based music service have been swirling since Apple’s acquisition of Lala Media, a start-up that provided a music streaming service, nearly a year ago. Tomorrow’s announcement should clarify Apple’s strategy for its ever-growing digital media store.

iTunes 10.1 Released, iOS 4.2 Rumored for November 24

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Apple released iTunes 10.1 this afternoon, adding AirPlay and support for iOS 4.2 to the media management application. Along with the release of Mac OS 10.6.5 earlier this week, Mac users now have all of the requisite items to be able to use iOS 4.2 on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch when the firmware is released.

Rumors last night pointed to a release next week of iOS 4.2 but the UK’s Telegraph reports that iOS 4.2 will be released on November 24. In the meantime, a new iOS 4.2 GM build has apparently been released to developers, possibly to address the Wi-Fi connectivity issue previously cited as the reason for the delay of its release.

AirPlay is a new feature announced at Apple’s September media event that will allow users to stream media wirelessly between iTunes and iOS devices over a local Wi-Fi network.

iTunes 10.1 can be downloaded from Apple’s site here.

iOS 4.2 Release Delayed?

Friday, November 12th, 2010

If you were looking forward to the possible release of iOS 4.2 today (which we definitely were), all signs point to no for its appearance today. Greek site iPhoneHellas reports that the latest version of iOS will not be released today after all and may not make its debut until Tuesday, November 16.

Another report by MacStories indicates that the delay is due to Wi-Fi connectivity issues in iOS 4.2 on the iPad.

Basically, even if the iPad manages to successfully connect to a local network, the connection is lost after a few minutes. This seems to be the most common problem among users, although some can’t simply use Safari at all. The bug has been reported to Apple, and they apparently decided to delay the release of iOS 4.2 to fix the bug.

iOS 4.2 should, however, come out in November as Apple originally promised, possibly before Thanksgiving.

Apple did not commit a specific date in November for the release of iOS 4.2 so it won’t technically be late until November is over. All rumors pointing to today, and now to November 16, are not based on any official announcements from Apple.

Rumors were correct in predicting the release of Mac OS 10.6.5, which debuted via Software Update for Mac users on Wednesday. There has been no sign of iTunes 10.1 yet, however, which will be required for iOS 4.2.

Instapaper Pro Updated, Gets Location-Aware Dark Mode, More

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Instapaper Pro, the app created by developer Marco Arment to supplement his Instapaper web page saving service, has been updated with a number of new features. Version 2.3 of the universal app features performance improvements, new article length and progress indicators plus a nifty Dark Mode that can be activated based on sunset time in your local area, and much more.

The app’s full list of new features is as follows:

  • Article list on iPhone now includes the first few lines of text from articles, like on iPad. On iPad, more text is now shown. The text is downloaded for new articles only: RE-DOWNLOAD ALL ARTICLES in Settings for it to apply to your previously downloaded articles.
  • Article list now indicates approximate article length and progress with a row of dots, similar to how it’s done on a Kindle’s home screen.
  • iPad updates are MUCH faster.
  • iPhone can now toggle Dark mode from articles, like iPad, in the font panel.
  • New option to switch to Dark mode automatically at night, based on sunset times in your region. (This is so cool.)
  • Overhauled logins to tolerate username changes, give more helpful errors, and fix the “username is already taken” bug.
  • New Sharing options: Send to OmniFocus, Send to QuickReader (supported by its next version), Copy Link, Copy Article Text. Also fixed sharing bugs with Twitter and Twittelator Pro.
  • New option to skip the in-app Browser and open links directly in Safari.
  • New feature to verify that you’re using the same account in the app and Mobile Safari and sync to your choice of accounts if they differ.
  • Simplified bookmarklet installation and improved help text.
  • Fixed handing of in-page anchors (including most footnotes) and mailto: links.
  • Added support for the “ihttp://” URL scheme, so if you can’t get the bookmarklet, the email address, or Copy working to add pages, you can edit Safari’s URL field and insert an “i” before the “http://”, tap Go, and Instapaper will launch and offer to add that page.
  • Fixed miscellaneous bugs.

Instapaper is our go-to app when we want to save longer articles for later reading. You can save articles in Instapaper via a number of ways, including a bookmarklet for your desktop browser, email, adding “i” to the beginning of a URL on your iPhone or iPad (as listed above in the new features list), or by simply copying a URL and then opening the app.

Reading a saved article on the iPad

The app presents saved articles in a distraction-free text-only format and allows you to change the font and font size to suit your needs. We’ve found it to be an excellent way to digest longer articles we don’t have a chance to read during the day and it’s a perfect companion on long plane rides (as long as you refresh the app while you have an internet connection before you get on the plane).

The new dark mode settings on the iPhone

The Instapaper service is incorporated into a number of other apps, including many Twitter and RSS apps to make it easy to save articles you come across that you want to check out in more depth later. Instapaper accounts are free and can be created within the Instapaper Pro app or at

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    Instapaper is the simplest way to save and store articles for reading: offline, on-the-go, anytime, anywhere, perfectly formatted. Instapaper for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch provides a...

Skyfire Web Browser Coming to iPad

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Skyfire, the the browser app that allows iPhone users to view Flash content that debuted in the App Store last week, will be available for the iPad soon. As 9 to 5 Mac points out, the company announced that an iPad version is in the works through its Twitter account:

If you’re impatient, you can indeed use the current iPhone version of Skyfire in 2x mode to adjust its display to fit the iPad’s larger screen but it’s pretty pixelated and doesn’t look pretty. Skyfire’s tweet seems to indicate that the company is developing a separate version for the iPad instead of converting the current app into a universal one that would work on both the iPhone and iPad, requiring users to buy the app twice to enjoy it on both devices.

Since its release, the Skyfire app has been incredibly popular with demand so high upon release that the company halted sales of the app in order to beef up server capacity. It made it back to the App Store in batches at the start of the weekend and MobileCrunch reports that the company generated over $1 million in sales for this first weekend in the App Store. It appears that Skyfire is here to stay in the App Store now – check out our review of it if you’re wondering if it’s worth $2.99.

  • Utilities

    Skyfire Web Browser - Your Path...

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    Skyfire, the original Flash video-enabled web browser for iPhone, provides the most social and convenient browsing and video-watching experience available. You get 1-click access to the Web’s most...

iOS 4.2 To Be Released on Friday?

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

According to a report by MacStories, iOS 4.2 may be released on Friday. The latest version of iOS will be compatible with the iPad, bringing multi-tasking, folders, and other iOS 4-only features to the tablet device. The GM (Gold Master) version of iOS 4.2 was released to developers last week, which usually indicates an imminent release to the public soon after.

iOS 4.2 will require iTunes 10.1 and Mac OS 10.6.5, which are both expected to be released just prior to iOS 4.2. However, one of the features previously announced that would bring wireless printing to the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch with iOS 4.2 may not be included after all. AirPrint, which was announced by Steve Jobs at Apple’s media event in early September, will apparently not be released according to a report today, also from MacStories. MacRumors indicates that the removal of AirPrint was caused by “instabilities and incompatibilities.”

We’re looking forward to getting multi-tasking and folders on our iPads. If the reports about the removal of AirPrint are true, this may affect the iPad’s adoption in corporate environments where such functionality is essential. There are apps that already bring this feature to iOS devices (like PrintCentral, which we have reviewed) so there are ways around this limitation for those who need this functionality now, though having this ability natively in all iOS devices without requiring a third-party app would be quite nice. Hopefully this is only a temporary setback and AirPrint will eventually be ready for prime time.

SlingPlayer Mobile Coming Soon (Again) to iPad

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Sling Media, the maker of hardware and software that allows users to watch home TV content from anywhere, has officially announced that a version of its SlingPlayer Mobile app for the iPad is coming soon. We first heard that this app was in the works eight months ago and it’s nice to finally see something official about it from Sling Media.

If you’re interested in getting an email notification directly from Sling Media when it’s available, you can sign up here. Sling Media also notes the following on that sign-up page:

We have been hard at work on an iPad version of SlingPlayer Mobile. When it becomes available it will be priced at $29.99, the same as all of our SlingPlayer Mobile applications. The new app will take full advantage of the iPad’s beautiful display.

It sounds like SlingPlayer is working on a separate app for the iPad instead of converting the current iPhone version into a universal app, so if you have both an iPhone and an iPad, you’ll have to shell out $30 twice to equip both of your devices with SlingPlayer Mobile. The iPhone version of SlingPlayer Mobile has been around for more than a year now and has earned a solid 3.5-star overall rating.

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    SlingPlayer for iPhone

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    Get the most out of your Sling devices and turn your iPhone into a TV with Slingplayer for iPhone. With a Sling device at home and Slingplayer on your iPhone, enjoy live or recorded TV over 3G, 4G,...