Archive for October, 2011

iOS 5 Review Roundup

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Apple released iOS 5 yesterday and while Apple states that there are over 200 new features compared to iOS 4, you may still be wondering what you’ll get and how it will perform if you upgrade. Fortunately, several technology sites have been poking around iOS 5 in order to discover its ins and outs and here’s a roundup of some of the more comprehensive reviews to help you understand what’s changed.

  • Ars Technica took an in-depth look at iOS, focusing in particular on three areas: notifications, iMessage, and iCloud in their review. This is a very long review so get comfortable before you settle down to read it.
  • Macworld also has an extensive review of iOS 5, granting it 4 out of 5 Mice in its long-established rating system. Macworld praises the PC-free nature of iOS 5 with its wireless synchronization and the improved notification system but laments the lack of Siri Assistant on older devices.
  • Engadget’s iOS 5 review is a bit less lengthy but covers all of the major changes in iOS 5.
  • Siri Assistant is a feature of iOS 5 but only on the iPhone 4S, which will be released in the U.S. and a handful of other countries tomorrow. This Is My Next (soon to be The Verge) reviewed the iPhone 4S and took a close look at Siri and iOS 5 at the same time. They also found that Siri can give some strange responses if you get creative with your requests.
  • If you’ve got the basics of iOS 5 down and want some quick tips on lesser-known features, tricks, and shortcuts, check out this useful list at MacStories.

I was finally able to update my iPad 2 to iOS 5 last night after encountering several problems along the way, much like many who were trying to update yesterday as well. So far, I really like the new notifications center since I was sick and tired of notifications popping up and interrupting me frequently, particularly while playing games. I’ll be getting an iPhone 4S tomorrow (fingers crossed that UPS gets to me early in the day without any trouble) and that will be my first chance to see Siri Assistant in action in person.

Apps updated for iOS 5 have been hitting the App Store in droves in the past few days. If you’re anxious to try out some iOS 5-only apps, Apple’s Cards, Find My Friends, and Airport Utility debuted yesterday.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/lifestyle/cards-5, http://appshopper.com/social-networking/find-my-friends, http://appshopper.com/utilities/airport-utility”]

Apple Releases Cards, Find My Friends, Airport Utility and iTunes Movie Trailers for iOS

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Apple is certainly a busy bee today, not only offering iOS 5 and an update to Lion but releasing a few new iOS apps as well, two of which were unexpected.

As announced last week, Apple has released Cards and Find My FriendsCards lets users create and send printed greeting cards to anyone in the world. Users can select photos captured with an iOS device or saved to the Photo Album to customize cards for various occasions like holidays and birthdays. Each 4-by-6-inch card will be printed by Apple on premium cotton paper.

Apple will also print, address, and apply postage to the card’s envelope and mail it. Cards shipped within the U.S. will cost $2.99 while those shipped to other destinations will cost $4.99. Cards shipped in the U.S. can be tracked through the U.S. Postal Service and the sender can opt to receive a push notification when the card is delivered.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/lifestyle/cards-5″]

Find My Friends works with Apple’s iCloud service, much like the company’s existing Find My iPhone app, to locate friends and family who opt to share their location with you. Friends who share their location with you will be marked on a virtual map. Users can choose to share location information temporarily or permanently with others and the app offers settings for parents to control how their children use the app. A WiFi or 3G data connection are required for the app to share  location information.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/social-networking/find-my-friends”]

One of today’s unexpected releases is the iTunes Movie Trailers app. iTunes Movie Trailers brings Apple’s extensive catalog of movie trailers to the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch along with some additional features not available on the official website like an interactive release calendar and the ability to search local movie theater listings and purchase tickets (via Fandango on the web).




[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/entertainment/itunes-movie-trailers”]

The other unexpected release is Airport Utility, a universal app that lets users manage Apple’s line of Airport wireless routers from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. The app is compatible with the 802.11n base stations including the Airport Express, Airport Extreme, and Time Capsule.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/utilities/airport-utility”]

Cards, Find My Friends, and Airport Utility all require iOS 5, which was just released today. iTunes Movie Trailers requires iOS 4.3 or higher.

Apple Releases iOS 5

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

As announced at last week’s press event, Apple has released iOS 5 today for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The most recent version of Apple’s mobile operating system includes several new features, such as improved notifications, wireless syncing, Twitter integration and much more.

Some of the apps included out-of-the-box on iOS devices will see major upgrades. iMessage will replace Messages on the iPhone and will be a new addition for iPad and iPod touch users. It offers free text and multimedia messaging between iOS device users and will offer read receipts. The Camera app will have a shortcut button on the lock screen to make capturing images even quicker. The Photos app will offer some basic photo editing capabilities like crop and rotate.

New apps include Newsstand, an iBooks-like app specifically for magazines and newspapers, and Reminders, a tasks app with geolocation capabilities that can notify you of a pending task when you near a specific location.

On the new iPhone 4S, iOS 5 will include Siri Assistant, a system-level voice-centric interface that can handle tasks such as scheduling appointments, reading and creating text messages, and much more.

Apple has created an overview video highlighting some of the new features and changes in iOS 5:




iOS 5 is a free download for all users. It is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, the 3rd-and 4th-generation iPod touches, and the iPad and iPad 2. To update to iOS 5, you’ll need to plug your compatible iOS device into your computer, open iTunes, and follow the update prompts.

Official Facebook App for iPad Debuts

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Facebook has finally released a universal version of its iOS app that offers an interface optimized for the iPad’s larger screen. Version 4.0 of Facebook hit the App Store yesterday and as always, is free to download.

An iPad-specific interface appeared briefly in a previous version of the Facebook app in July when iOS enthusiast Marvin Bernal found a way to activate it by editing some device files on an iPad. Facebook then removed this in an app update in early September.

With high-res photos, games, chat and more, now you can get the best of Facebook—on your iPad.

  • Enjoy bigger, better photos: Your photos are high-res and easy to flip through, like a real photo album
  • Navigate anywhere, fast: Just tap, slide or pinch to move from one screen to another
  • Play games on the go: Access your favorite Facebook apps and games, wherever you are
  • Focus on what matters: Zoom in on your friends’ photos, updates and stories
  • Never lose your place: Share a photo, update your status or send a message without leaving News Feed
  • See who’s nearby: Check out the Nearby map to see what your friends are up to

Facebook also notes in its blog post announcing the app update that performance on the iPhone has also been improved. I’m not a big Facebook user but I have had a lot of problems with the app on my iPhone where it fails to load and constantly loses my place in the news feed when I tap on an individual item to see more details and then try to go back to the news feed. Here’s to hoping this version fixes these and other issues experienced by many users.




Facebook notes in the app’s description that those who are having trouble opening the updated version should delete and reinstall it – recent reviews show a lot of people are experiencing crashes upon opening the app and a delete and reinstall should address this.

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

‘Siri Assistant’ App Removed from App Store, ‘Vlingo’ Goes Free Before iPhone 4S Release

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Apple has removed the stand-alone Siri Assistant app from the App Store in preparation for the launch of the iPhone 4S, which will have Siri Assistant features integrated in iOS 5. The app, which debuted in the App Store in February 2010 prior to Apple’s acquisition of the company in April 2010, offered natural-language search features to provide users with movie times, restaurant reservations, and more.

Those who had downloaded the free app before it was removed from the App Store now see this screen when opening Siri Assistant:



Apple’s iPhone 4S, which was announced last week and will be available in the U.S. starting October 14, will utilize Siri technology to allow users to handle many tasks by voice alone. Apple has posted the following demo video showing how this feature works:



Vlingo, a company that develops a competing voice-centric personal assistant app for the iPhone and other smartphone platforms, has made full functionality within its own app free. Using Vlingo to create text messages and emails by voice used to cost $6.99 each, or $9.99 for both services when purchased at once, via in-app purchase.

Vlingo’s offerings aren’t as comprehensive as Siri Assistant in iOS 5 will be but it works on older iOS devices, unlike Siri Assistant in iOS 5 that will only work on the iPhone 4S.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/productivity/vlingo”]

Preordering an iPhone 4S? Check out the ‘AT&T Upgrader’ and ‘Apple Store’ Apps

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Preorders for the iPhone 4S opened in the U.S. early this morning through Apple, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. Unfortunately, the preorder process wasn’t smooth for many with glitches in checking upgrade eligibility (particularly for AT&T subscribers) and order processing errors at Apple’s online store for many from what I could see on Twitter and in the forum at MacRumors.

If you haven’t placed your preorder yet, you have a couple of options to do so from your current iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. The official Apple Store app will let you preorder the iPhone 4S though be warned that the online store still seems to be a bit wonky at the time of this post and you may have some trouble.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/lifestyle/apple-store”]

If you’re a current AT&T subscriber, you can use AT&T’s new AT&T Upgrader app. AT&T Upgrader was originally announced on Tuesday shortly after the unveiling of the iPhone 4S and was only in the App Store briefly on Wednesday before being removed. It made it back to the App Store yesterday, just in time for the festivities.

As a current AT&T subscriber who was having trouble placing my preorder with Apple early this morning, I tried the AT&T Upgrader app myself but it didn’t work – I was instructed to call Premier customer service during normal business hours to place my order and I think my FAN discount (corporate plan) was the culprit, so your mileage may vary depending on the type of account you have.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/lifestyle/att-upgrader”]

Steve Jobs: 1955-2011

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Steve Jobs passed away last night. His death came as a shock to me personally and I am at a loss for words to describe how I feel even though I never knew him personally. Without his vision, AppShopper and many other sites may not have ever seen the light of day. Rest in peace, Steve.


Apple to Release ‘Find My Friends’ and ‘Cards’ iOS Apps on October 12

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

At yesterday’s press event where the iPhone 4S and the release date for iOS 5 were unveiled, Apple also announced two new apps that will debut alongside iOS 5 on October 12. On that date, Cards and Find My Friends will be released to the App Store.




Cards will let users create and send printed greeting cards to anyone in the world. Users can select photos captured with an iOS device or saved to the Photo Album to customize cards for various occasions like holidays and birthdays. Each 4-by-6-inch card will be printed by Apple on premium cotton paper. Apple will also print, address, and apply postage to the card’s envelope and mail it. Cards shipped within the U.S. will cost $2.99 while those shipped to other destinations will cost $4.99. Cards shipped in the U.S. can be tracked through the U.S. Postal Service and the sender can opt to receive a push notification when the card is delivered.



Find My Friends will work with Apple’s iCloud service, much like the company’s existing Find My iPhone app, to locate friends and family who opt to share their location with you. Friends who share their location with you will be marked on a virtual map. Users can choose to share location information temporarily or permanently with others and the app offers settings for parents to control how their children use the app. A WiFi or 3G data connection are required for the app to share  location information.

Both Cards and Find My Friends will require iOS 5 and will work on the iPhone 3GS or later, 3rd- and 4th-generation iPod touch, and iPad and iPad 2.

We’ll let you know when they hit the App Store.

Apple announces iPhone 4S, iOS 5 Release Date, More

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Apple held a press event today where several announcements were made, including the debut of the successor to the iPhone 4, dubbed the iPhone 4S, a release date for iOS 5 and a demonstration of the new voice-centric Siri Assistant feature that will be part of iOS 5.




Apple announced that the iPhone 4S will be available in both black and white versions starting October 14 in the U.S. and a handful of other countries. Pre-orders will begin on October 7. It will cost $199 for the16GB model, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB with a 2-year contract. In the U.S., Sprint will get the iPhone 4S, along with existing carriers AT&T and Verizon.

iPhone 4S plus iOS 5 plus iCloud is a breakthrough combination that makes the iPhone 4S the best iPhone ever,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “While our competitors try to imitate iPhone with a checklist of features, only iPhone can deliver these breakthrough innovations that work seamlessly together.”

The iPhone 4S will be available in 22 more countries on October 28 and in 70 countries by the end of 2012.

The device’s design is the same as the current iPhone 4 but it features upgraded internals, including Apple’s dual-core A5 processor, an 8 megapixel camera that will be able to capture 1080p HD video, and a redesigned antenna. The iPhone 4S will also be a world phone with both CDMA and GSM cellular radios, eliminating the need for a separate iPhone model for Verizon and other CDMA networks.

iOS 5 will be released on October 12. It will be a free update and will be compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad and iPad 2, and the 3rd and 4th-generation iPod touches.

A rather lengthy demo of a new feature that was not previewed at WWDC in June, Siri Assistant, was also shown at the event today. Assistant is a voice-centric feature that will be able to handle a wide variety of tasks, such as reading and dictating text messages, setting appointments and reminders, completing internet searches and more. Assistant is in beta right now and will work with English, French and German to start with additional languages supported in the future.

The integration of Siri into iOS 5 is not entirely surprising following Apple’s acquisition of the company in early 2010 though it had been excluded from builds of iOS 5 available to date.

The iPod touch saw only a minor update today, getting a new color (white) and lower pricing.

Record Incoming and Outgoing Calls with ‘Call Recording Pro’ for iPhone

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

If you’re a lawyer or reporter or just plain paranoid and need to record your phone calls, you’ve probably had to kluge your own method to tape your conversations since iPhone apps to do this are few and far between. However, Cupertino-based handsfree.ly released Call Recording Pro in the App Store late last month, which lets you record incoming and outgoing calls for a modest charge.

Before you get too excited, you should know that the call recording functionality is not built into Call Recording Pro itself. Apple’s developer guidelines do not allow 3rd-party apps to use the microphone while a call is active or access incoming call audio, which is why there have been few apps to date that offer a call recording feature since those that do must use some alternative method to accomplish this. Given this, Call Recording Pro handles the call recording externally.

Essentially, you need to initiate a call with Call Recording Pro‘s recording service and then merge that call with the phone call you’d like to record. You can do this easily before you make an outgoing call or activate it for an incoming call you’ve already received, though this will require you to have the caller hold on while you make that connection and then merge the calls together.

When you want to record an outgoing call, you open Call Recording Pro, enter your iPhone’s phone number and provide an email address (where a link to the recording will be sent to you afterward) and then press the record button at the bottom of the screen. After a few seconds, you’ll receive an incoming call from the app’s recording recording service, which will first make a short announcement to let you know the call is being recorded. Then you put that call on hold and dial the party with whom you want to have a conversation recorded. Once that call is connected, you merge the calls. Apple provides an overview on how to merge calls here.

The process is very similar if you’ve received an incoming call you want to record. At no time are there any beeps or other sounds that indicate the call is being recorded after that initial notice when the call is initiated. And since you’re initiating and receiving the calls on your iPhone, there won’t be any confusion from a different phone number showing up on caller I.D. for the other parties.

Recorded calls are accessible in the Folders tab within Call Recording Pro and you’ll also get an email with a link to the recording as well, which you can use to download it to your computer if you want.

Call Recording Pro costs $2.99 and comes with three call recording “credits”. You can buy more credits via in-app purchase where a single call recording costs $.99, three call recordings cost $2.99 and five call recordings cost $4.99. The maximum recording length for each call is one hour.

I know what you’re thinking. You wanted this to be free, right? Since it’s Apple who restricts the functionality of 3rd-party apps, you should give feedback to Apple to ask for a change so that developers can create apps that will take care of all of this directly on the iPhone without needing to use an external service that costs money to run. Until then, Call Recording Pro offers a fairly streamlined process to record calls, all things considered, at a reasonable price.

(Of course, you should also check the legality of recording phone calls in your area. For example, some states in the U.S. make it illegal at all times while others allow it if both parties are aware of the recording in advance. We here at AppShopper do not encourage or condone anyone to record calls illegally.)

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/productivity/call-recording-pro”]