Archive for March, 2011

‘Take Five’ for Mac Debuts

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

The Iconfactory, developer of the popular free Twitterrific app for Twitter, Ramp Champ, Frenzic and others, has released a version of its music-pausing app, Take Five, for the Mac. Take Five for iOS first debuted in October, bringing a unique utility for music listeners to the App Store.

Like its iOS counterpart, Take Five will pause music playing through iTunes and then resume playback after 5 minutes (or a shorter or longer duration you select), allowing time for you to take a phone call or other short interruption.

Life is full of interruptions. How many times have you realized that your headphones are silent because you’d forgotten to un-pause iTunes? Take Five is a simple utility that automatically fades your music back in after 5 minutes.

Take Five can be activated via its dock icon or through an icon in the Mac OS task bar. The following dialogues are shown when its task bar icon is clicked and Take Five is activated:

Users can define keyboard shortcuts to control the timer, play/pause music, and more.

Take Five is currently on sale at a special introductory price of $1.99, which is 50% off its full price. You can check out the iOS version of the app here.

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Twitter Removes Unpopular ‘QuickBar’ from Official iOS App

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

A few weeks ago, Twitter had updated its iOS app adding a new “QuickBar” feature that appeared at the top of the screen to present trending topics, including topics promoted by paying sponsors. At first, the QuickBar actually obscured tweets at the top of the screen though it was later adjusted to avoid blocking tweets from view. Despite this, the new feature met with a lot of resistance, earning the app numerous 1-star ratings in the App Store criticizing its addition. Today, Twitter has released an update to its official iOS app which removes the QuickBar entirely.

To be perfectly honest, we were most definitely not fans of the QuickBar (dubbed the “dickbar” by Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber, a nickname we thought was entirely appropriate) and stopped using the official Twitter app altogether in silent protest.

Twitter describes the removal of the QuickBar in its blog:

Last month, we released an update to Twitter for iPhone and iPad containing a number of features that made finding friends and sharing information on Twitter even easier. The iPhone app also contained a new feature we wanted to test named the QuickBar. The QuickBar was originally conceived to help users discover what’s happening in the broader world beyond people they already follow. The bar was also seen as a potential means of in-app notifications for new @mentions, DMs, and other important activity…

…Rather than continue to make changes to the QuickBar as it exists, we removed the bar from the update appearing in the App Store today. We believe there are still significant benefits to increasing awareness of what’s happening outside the home timeline. Evidence of the incredibly high usage metrics for the QuickBar support this. For now, we’re going back to the drawing board to explore the best possible experience for in-app notification and discovery.

We appreciate that Twitter listened to the feedback from its users on this issue and we’re going back to using it on our iPhones.

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Adobe to Bring Advanced Photoshop Features to iPad

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

At Adobe’s annual Photoshop World conference yesterday, the California-based software giant gave a sneak preview of some upcoming features for its Photoshop app for the iPad, as reported by Photography Bay. Adobe’s Photoshop Express app first debuted in the App Store in October 2009 and offers relatively basic editing features compared to its desktop counterpart.

Most notably, editing using layers will be possible in a future version of Photoshop for iOS. Layers allow the editing of photos in stages without affecting the original image, making it easy to remove or adjust edits after the fact.

Photography Bay recorded a demo video of how layers will work in the iOS app:

Adobe did not provide any information on the expected release date of this update to the Photoshop app.

Vimeo Releases Official iPhone App

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Vimeo, the popular video-sharing service, has released an official iPhone app. The free app debuted in the App Store this morning and allows users to watch videos uploaded by other Vimeo members as well as record, edit, and upload their own videos to the Vimeo service.

Vimeo for the iPhone offers some fairly advanced video editing features for a free app, matching some of the features offered in Apple’s own iMovie app that costs $4.99:

  • Capture video with focus control and grid alignment
  • Combine, edit, and trim your videos
  • Add transitions, titles, and effects
  • Add music and recordings
  • Control volume levels
  • Save edited videos to your camera roll or upload directly to Vimeo

The app’s features include the following:

  • Watch and manage all your existing Vimeo videos and download them to your camera roll
  • Easily upload your raw footage or edited creations in HD or SD
  • Pause and resume uploads
  • Replace existing videos
  • Edit title, description, tags, privacy and credits
  • Share with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, Email or SMS
  • Add your clips to your Groups, Channels and Albums
  • Stats on daily plays, likes and comments

The Vimeo app requires an iPhone 3Gs or iPhone 4 running iOS 4.0 or higher.

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‘PairShare’ Brings Wireless Music Sharing Between iOS Devices

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Have you ever wanted to let a friend hear a song you’re listening to on your iOS device without handing over your headphones? If so, PairShare, a new app that debuted in the App Store a few days ago, is what you need. PairShare will let you share the music you’re listening to in real-time with another iOS device via Bluetooth.

Before you run to get PairShare, there are couple of key things you need to know. First, both of the devices you want to share music between must have the PairShare app installed. This is kind of a no-brainer but it should be noted for the sake of clarity.

The second is that while PairShare is free to download, it’s not free to use. Once you download it, set it up and start sharing music, you’ll get an alert every 30 seconds or so that pauses the music and asks you to upgrade to the full version for $2.99. You’ll then need to click “No Thanks” to get past this or pony up $2.99 to continue listening without further interruptions. Clicking “No Thanks” doesn’t do much since you’ll just get the reminder again in another few seconds. And again. And again. And again, ad infinitum. (Well, we can’t really test the ad infinitum bit but you know what we mean.)

As we’ve said before, we never begrudge developers charging for their apps since it only makes sense for them to earn a return for their hard work. What bothers us here is that this purchase requirement is presented in such an annoying fashion and that the cost of using the app to its fullest is not provided in the app’s description or even on the developer’s website.

We don’t mind limited use apps at all as long as we get enough time to make sure the app works as promised (which PairShare allows – we were able to share music between an iPhone 4 and an iPad 2 with few issues in between the irritating full version purchase request pop-ups) but we think PairShare could do this in a less painful way, such as letting the app work for one full song and then ending all functionality with the in-app purchase option.

Also, the cost of upgrading to full functionality should be prominently noted in PairShare’s description.

All this aside, getting PairShare to work is easy. Once the app is installed on the devices you wish to share music between, you use the Connect menu to establish a connection between the two devices. If Bluetooth is not already on, the app will prompt you to turn it on automatically. You can choose music from your device’s iPod library to share and the selected music will play on both devices simultaneously.

We found PairShare to be a bit unstable with periodic crashing when sharing music from an iPhone 4 to an iPad 2 (sharing from an iPad 2 from an iPhone 4 worked well). We generally aren’t surprised to see this kind of instability in a 1.0 version and hopefully this will be addressed in future updates.

PairShare requires iOS 4.1 or later and will work on the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, iPad 1 and 2, and the iPod touch (second generation or later).

We can envision PairShare coming in handy in many situations. If you’ve got a workout buddy with an iPhone or iPod touch, PairShare could help you both keep your workouts in sync. If you’re on a plane, train, or automobile with a friend, PairShare probably offers the easiest way to listen to music together without a headphone splitter on hand. With version 1.0, be prepared for a little crashiness and pay the $2.99 to unlock the app’s full functionality up front.

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‘TeleNav GPS’ Debuts With In-App Subscription Option

Friday, March 25th, 2011

TeleNav, the California-based company that provides location based apps and services for mobile devices, has released a self-branded turn-by-turn navigation app for the iPhone. The company had initially announced TeleNav GPS last month though it is not strictly for the Verizon iPhone 4 as initially indicated.

GPS guidance through the app is free for the first 30 days and will then cost $2.99 per month or $21.99 per year. The monthly or annual subscription options are purchased in-app and billed to a user’s iTunes account. This ability to make recurring purchases automatically billed to an iTunes account within an app was unveiled by Apple last month.

The app will still work partially without a monthly or annual subscription, offering GPS maps and local search capabilities only. The premium features, which are free for the first 30 days, include voice-guided navigation, 2D and 3D maps, free map and local search updates, automatic re-routing, and more.

Unlike other navigation apps like Navigon’s MobileNavigator and TomTom, TeleNav GPS does not contain any map data within the app itself and must have a network data connection in order to get map data and provide turn-by-turn directions.

TeleNav GPS hit the App Store earlier this week and is free to download. There it joins an AT&T-branded version of the app, AT&T Navigator, that first debuted in the App Store in June 2009. Users of AT&T Navigator pay the monthly or annual subscription fee via their AT&T cellular service bill and pay much more comparatively: $9.99 per month or $69.99 per year. Given this, AT&T Navigator users may want to consider switching to TeleNav GPS with its lower subscription prices and similar feature set.

Note that TeleNav GPS works on the iPhone 4 only, with support coming soon for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and iPad 1 and 2.

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Apple Releases iOS 4.3.1

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Apple has just released iOS 4.3.1 that includes minor bug fixes. This update has arrived fairly quickly after the initial release of iOS 4.3 earlier this month. A report by BGR just a few days ago had correctly predicted the release of iOS 4.3.1 within one to two weeks.

The details of iOS 4.3.1 are as follows:

  • Fixes an occasional graphics glitch on iPod touch (4th generation)
  • Resolves bugs related to activating and connecting to some cellular networks
  • Fixes image flicker when using Apple Digital AV Adapter with some TVs
  • Resolves an issue authenticating with some enterprise web services

iOS 4.3.1 is compatible with GSM iPhone 4 models only as well as the iPhone 3GS, iPad 1 and 2, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch models.

Resolved: Mac App Screenshots Are Back!

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Last week we noted that screenshots for Mac apps on AppShopper were missing. We obtain all of the app information shown on AppShopper directly from Apple and these screenshots were missing from the feed provided by Apple for some unknown reason.

We’re happy to report that this issue has been addressed and screenshots are now visible again in individual Mac app listings. We appreciate your patience!

Square Enix Games On Sale Through March 31

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

To celebrate the release of the epic RPG, Final Fantasy III, developer Square Enix is having a sale on most of its iOS titles, offering them at 50% or more off their regular prices from now through March 31.

Final Fantasy III for the iPhone and iPod touch is technically a remake of a 2006 version for the Nintendo DS, with graphics optimized for retina displays and revised touch screen controls. Our sister site TouchArcade has reviewed Final Fantasy III and deems it a bit old-school compared to some newer RPGs now available though it’s still “one of the best role-playing experiences in the App Store.”

For iPhone/iPod touch:

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For iPad:

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Wall Street Journal App Offers Single Issues for Purchase

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

The Wall Street Journal has updated its iPad app to now offer the ability to purchase individual issues of the daily newspaper in digital form. Previously, the app required a paid subscription to any content at all. A subscription option is still available within the app at a cost of $3.99 per week.

Individual issues are purchased through an iTunes account while the subscription option requires the entry of credit card information. In order to comply with Apple’s in-app subscription service announced last month, the Wall Street Journal will need to offer a way to purchase a subscription through iTunes accounts by June 30.

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