Archive for February, 2012

Google Street View Coming to Navigon Navigation App

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Mobile World Congress, the annual trade show focused on all things related to cellular mobile techology, is in full swing in beautiful Barcelona this week and Navigon, the maker of personal navigation devices and apps for multiple smartphone platforms, announced there a new upcoming feature for its iOS navigation app. Google Street View will come to the Navigon iOS apps in a future update, allowing users the ability to see actual photos of locations to more accurately identify destinations.

New features will also be coming to the Android version of Navigon, including Active Lane Assistant (a feature already present in the iOS version), Bluetooth audio support and more. Navigon, which was acquired by Garmin last year, has not announced a specific date when these updates will be available.

Navigon remains my preferred turn-by-turn navigation app on my iPhone though there are several worthy competitors available in the App Store if its price or other features deter you. Navigon has updated its app regularly since release to add new features and address bugs and last released a major overhaul in the fall with a new interface and map management system.

[applink url=””]

Apple Sends Out Invitations for March 7 Press Event

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Image courtesy of The Loop

The Loop reports that Apple has sent out invitations to the press for a media event next month where the consumer electronics company is expected to announce the iPad 3. The event will be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco at 10:00 a.m. Pacific time on March 7.

The 3rd-generation iPad is expected to have a retina display with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels (the current iPad 2’s display has a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels) while its body may be slightly thicker than the current iPad 2. Other rumors indicate that the prices of the iPad 3 models may be higher than those of the iPad 2 and that shipments of the iPad 3 are already arriving in the U.S. from Foxconn, the factory in China where iPads are manufactured.

Apple press events are always exciting and I’m sure this one won’t be an exception. We’ll be at GDC in San Francisco at Moscone Center next week (so close yet also so far from Yerba Buena where the Apple event will be held) and we’ll be sure to post about the news that comes out of the event.

Adobe Releases Photoshop Touch for iPad 2

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Adobe, the California-based software giant, announced the release of Photoshop Touch for the iPad today. The app brings core Adobe Photoshop photo editing features to the tablet including layers and selection tools available in the desktop versions of the application.

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

  • Use popular Photoshop features designed for the tablet such as layers, selection tools, adjustments, and filters to create mind-blowing images.
  • Use your iPad camera to fill an area on a layer with the unique camera fill feature.
  • Select part of an image to extract by scribbling with the Scribble Selection tool. With Refine Edge, use your fingertip to capture even hard-to-select image elements, like hair, with ease. • Search and acquire images with the integrated Google Image Search.
  • Share images on Facebook and view comments right within the app.
  • Browse an inspirational gallery for the styles and results you’d like to achieve. Then follow step-by-step tutorials to easily learn techniques the pros use for great-looking results.
  • Use AirPrint for wireless printing of Photoshop Touch projects.
  • Upload projects to Adobe Creative Cloud* and open layered files from Adobe Photoshop Touch in Photoshop CS5.
  • Maximum image resolution: 1600 x 1600 pixels

Adobe has created a promotional video to highlight the features of the new iPad app:


Photoshop Touch offers more advanced photo editing features compared to the company’s existing universal iOS app, Adobe Photoshop Express, which debuted in the App Store in 2009. However, while Photoshop Touch is compatible only with the iPad 2 (and requires iOS 5.0 or higher), Photoshop Express will work on any iOS device running iOS 4.2 or higher.

In its press release, Adobe also noted its plans to release additional iPad apps later this year:

In addition to Photoshop Touch, Adobe expects to release the following touch apps for the iPad in the coming months: Adobe Collage for moodboards; Adobe Debut for presenting and reviewing creative work; Adobe Ideas for sketching; Adobe Kuler® for exploring color themes; and Adobe Proto for website and mobile app prototyping.

[applink url=””]

Apple Holding Contest to Celebrate 25 Billion App Downloads

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Apple has posted details about a new contest to celebrate the upcoming 25 billionth download from the iOS App Store, offering a $10,000 iTunes gift card as the grand prize. The contest launched late last week and will conclude when the 25 billionth app is downloaded.

This is not the first time Apple has run a contest like this. Apple held a similar contest last summer to note the 10 billionth app download, also offering a $10,000 iTunes gift card as the grand prize at that time. Gail Davis of Orpington, Kent in England was the winner of that contest.

As before, entering the contest is dead simple – all you need to do is download apps (or submit an alternate entry) and keep your fingers crossed. You can find the official rules here and you can find some great ideas about which apps to get in our official 2011 AppShopper App Picks or our Top 200 lists. Good luck!

Review: Clear for iPhone Brings Simplicity and Beauty to Your Tasks

Friday, February 17th, 2012

As promised last month, Realmac Software, Impending, and Milen have released Clear, a unique to do app that features a streamlined interface that is completely gesture-driven and lacks virtual buttons. Clear debuted in the App Store earlier this week on Tuesday and quickly rocketed to the #1 spot on the Paid iPhone Apps list where it still sits at the time of this post.

Clear’s interface is fluid and beautifully-designed. Unlike almost every other app out there, Clear has no virtual buttons for navigation or to create and delete tasks. The only buttons you will see will be on the native iOS keyboard when you go to enter a task. Aside from typing text to populate a list, you use swiping and pinching gestures to create a new list, re-order items, delete items, and even access the main menu.

If you haven’t already seen it, the Clear demo video that was released last month does a good job of showing off this gesture-driven interface:


A few tutorial screens walk you through the most common gestures when you first open Clear. The most important screen here is the one that explains the three navigation levels of Clear. The topmost level is the main menu, the second is the lists view and the third are the items in each individual list. Pinching closes the current navigation level and takes you to the next higher level. Spreading your fingers creates a new list or new item depending on the navigation level you’re on.

As with other apps, swiping from right to left deletes an item or list. Swiping from left to right marks an item as completed. Tapping and holding lets you pick up an item to change its location on a list.

Once you get used to the gestures, using Clear feels more effortless than any other to do app I’ve tried. It’s also lovely to look at with a straightforward color coding scheme where higher priority items at the top of a list are a darker shade to reflect their “hotness.” There are a few other color themes to choose from as well that change the look of the entire interface. Some themes are Easter egg-like in that they can be unlocked with certain actions. For example, following Phil Ryu on Twitter via the main menu unlocks a special Tweetbot theme if you have Tweetbot installed on your iPhone.

Other neat design elements include random quotes shown in between some transitions.

However, as beautiful and fluid as Clear is, it’s not a robust tasks app.

First, there’s a limit of about 28 characters for each item, forcing a level of brevity in describing tasks that some may find difficult. In touting Clear as an app designed with “simplicity and flexibility in mind” this limit isn’t terribly surprising but it could still be too restrictive for many.

Second, there’s no Dropbox or other synchronization or sharing for Clear, so your lists live only on your iPhone and aren’t accessible on any other device.

Third, there are no priorities, alarms, automatic sorting, or other traditional task app features, which makes Clear unsuitable for those who like a little more organization for their tasks and to receive reminders via alerts.

The New York Times spoke to Phil Ryu of Impending about the lack of alarms:

Scheduled reminders were definitely consciously one of the features we decided to do away with,” said Phillip Ryu, one of Clear’s creators. “Early on, mockups for the app had recurring tasks, scheduling, and also a navigation bar, add button, and so forth. But wiping the slate clean and saying no to a lot of features, at least for now, really enabled us to do some amazing things.

I like Clear. It’s lovely to look at and a joy to use. But I don’t see myself choosing it over even a basic tasks app like Apple’s Reminders since I need alerts and some synchronization capability so that I can access my lists on other devices. If your task tracking needs are less demanding than mine, I definitely recommend Clear.

Clear is currently available for $.99 in the App Store, which is a special release price though we don’t know what its regular price will be after this sale is over. It’s compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S, 3rd-generation iPod touch and higher, and the iPad and iPad 2 (though it’s not optimized for the iPad’s larger screen). It requires iOS 5.0 or higher.

[applink url=””]

Apple Releases Developer Build of Mac OS X Mountain Lion

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Apple announced today the release of a developer build of the next major version of the Mac operating system, Mountain Lion. The build is available to Mac Developer Program members starting today and will be released in the Mac App Store late this summer.

Apple states that Mountain Lion contains over 100 new features and introduces several new apps and features to the Mac that already exist in iOS for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Mountain Lion will include versions of the Messages, Reminders, Notes, and Game Center apps originally available in iOS. Mountain Lion will also include deeper integration with iCloud for email, contacts, calendar, and document synchronization, a Notification Center feature to centralize alerts, and Twitter integration.

The Messages application in Mountain Lion will operate like its iOS counterpart, allowing users to send text messages, pictures, and videos quickly to other Macs and iOS devices. Messages on the Mac will replace iChat and a beta version is available for download here (this beta requires Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3).

Notification Center on the Mac will provide easy access to alerts from Mail, Calendar, Messages and other standard Apple apps plus third-party apps. Also coming to the Mac in Mountain Lion is AirPlay Mirroring for streaming of video from a Mac to an HD TV through Apple TV.

Also coming to Mountain Lion is a new security feature called GateKeeper, which offers users more security options when it comes to downloading and installing applications. GateKeeper’s settings can allow apps to be installed from any source or restrict app installation to those obtained from the Mac App Store only.

Apple has created a demo video to preview many of the new features in Mountain Lion, which can be viewed on the company’s site here.


According to Pocket-Lint, Mountain Lion will be available only through the Mac App Store with no option to purchase a DVD or USB thumb drive. Mac OS Lion was originally released in the Mac App Store only last year, though Apple also offered the operating system for purchase on a USB thumb drive shortly after its release.

If the release of this build felt a bit sudden to you, you’re not alone. Instead of previewing Mountain Lion at a press event or conference as Apple has done in the past, the company instead chose a more individualized approach, using private briefings to announce and share information about Mountain Lion to selected members of the press. John Gruber described his experience with this new approach at Daring Fireball as well as his first impressions of Mountain Lion.

[applink url=”444303913″]

ReadAndCall Makes Dialing on the Go Easy

Monday, February 13th, 2012

When it comes to phone numbers in an email or on a web page, dialing that number is incredibly easy on the iPhone since iOS usually recognizes phone numbers and makes them actionable via simple tap. However, I admit that there are days when I wish saving and dialing numbers I see when I’m out and about was just as easy. Not that pausing to open the Phone app, manually entering the phone number and hitting the Call button is hard but if an app like Word Lens can translate text on the fly using the iPhone’s camera, why can’t I save and dial numbers in a similar fashion? Developer iRead Solutions apparently thought the same thing and created ReadAndCall for just this purpose.

ReadAndCall uses the iPhone’s camera to recognize and make phone numbers in the real world around you actionable. It quickly scans phone numbers you see on posters, billboards, business cards, computer screens or anywhere else and lets you dial them right away or save them to a Call List, where you can store numbers quickly for later reference. You can also use scanned numbers to create a new contact or add to an existing contact, or to address a new text message.

Here’s a demo video from iRead Solutions that shows how ReadAndCall works:

If you want to do more with a number later, the Call List function lets you save a snapshot of the item from which you just extracted a phone number. This is a handy feature if you want a picture to give you a little more context for later reference when you go to use that number.

There are plenty of business card scanners available in the App Store but ReadAndCall is a little more robust when it comes to strictly recognizing phone numbers and offering the ability to do something with them right away. Often, all I want to do is capture a number I see on a poster or advertisement and save it for later without creating a full contact entry and ReadAndCall fits the bill for that perfectly. My one gripe is that it only works in landscape orientation – I’d love to have an option to use it in portrait orientation since this is how I hold my iPhone most often.

At this time, ReadAndCall only recognizes 7- and 10-digit numbers in the North American phone number format, so you’re out of luck at the moment if you live elsewhere.

ReadAndCall debuted in the App Store in September and just received a major update earlier this month that improved its phone number detection. It requires iOS 4.0 or higher on an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S.

[applink url=””]

Tweetbot for iPad Debuts, Updated to Version 2.0 for iPhone

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Tweetbot, the popular Twitter app that debuted for the iPhone nearly a year ago, has been released for the iPad. The app hit the App Store yesterday afternoon and climbed steadily up the charts to make it to the #1 paid iPad app spot, which is where it sits at the time of this post. Tweetbot for the iPad offers the same features and design elements as the version for the iPhone and iPod touch but with an interface optimized for the device’s larger screen.

Tapbots created a demo video to highlight its features:

[applink url=”—-a-twitter-client-with-personality-for-ipad”]

Tapbots also released a major update to Tweetbot for the iPhone and iPod touch yesterday with a few tweaks that makes navigating tweets and viewing links even easier. The full list of what’s new in version 2.0 is as follows:

  • Updated timeline view
  • Image thumbnails in timeline
  • Links now colored and single-tappable
  • “Retweeted by” bar now integrated and tappable
  • Cell colors adjusted for better contrast
  • New direct message view.
  • Redesigned “New Tweets” bar (Can be dismissed by tap and configured in Settings > Display)
  • Timed auto-refresh (timeline, mentions, and DM’s will refresh every 5 minutes)
  • Readability added as mobilizer service
  • Much improved tweet replies view
  • Links in user’s bio now tappable
  • “Huge” font size option in Settings > Display
  • Improved scrolling performance
    Tweetbot remains my favorite Twitter app for the iPhone and version 2.0 seems like an improvement so far. The only trick I’ll need to unlearn is double-tapping to open a link in a tweet, an action that now only requires a single tap. If you’re looking for a feature-filled and well-designed Twitter app, I highly recommend Tweetbot.

    [applink url=””]

    Round-up: Unique iPhone Clock Apps

    Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

    Though the iPhone comes with a clock app out of the box, this hasn’t fazed developers one little bit from trying to provide a better alternative (a search of the App Store here on AppShopper for “clock” yields over 1,000 results). On its face (see what I did there?), making a clock app unique seems kind of difficult – how many different ways are there to tell the time and set an alarm to wake you up? But there are a few clock apps that have stood out from the crowd recently.

    First up is a new release from AppAnnex, Tap Alarm Clock. It offers a clean, simple interface with one of the easiest-to-use alarm setting mechanisms I’ve seen. To set the alarm, you spin a virtual dial reminiscent of an iPod click wheel to select the desired time. Tapping and holding at a specific clock position on the virtual dial will automatically set the alarm for that hour.

    Here’s a demo video showing it in action:

    Tap Alarm Clock lacks the ability to set multiple alarms or change the alarm sound but it works very well if your alarm needs are straightforward and you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles.

    [applink url=””]

    Siri on the iPhone 4S seems to have prompted even more interest in apps that recognize speech and talk back to you and alarm clocks are no exception. Crop Duster Media released Wake Smarter late last year and it offers a plethora of alarm features plus the ability to read nearly anything to you when you wake up. You can choose to hear RSS feed updates, upcoming events on your calendar, posts from your Twitter and Facebook feeds, the weather forecast, and more.

    Wake Smarter can also listen for your “magic word” (like Studio Heat’s Kei, which debuted in early 2010) and respond to a list of preset commands to tell you the current time and date, your upcoming calendar appointments, set an alarm, and more, a handy feature if your iPhone or iPad isn’t within easy reach.

    [applink url=”–-the-voice-controlled-alarm-clock”]

    Last but not least is Silent Clock, an unusual yet innovative clock by developer 10-sor that will tell you the time without requiring you to even look at your iPhone, a useful function in situations when picking up your iPhone and looking at the screen is inappropriate, such as in meetings or at a movie theater. How does it do this, you ask? By using the iPhone’s vibrate motor and a Morse-code like, um, code. The code looks a little confusing at first but it makes sense once you feel it in action.

    The app automatically makes your iPhone vibrate every quarter of an hour in a two-step sequence. The first step in the sequence denotes the hour and the second denotes the minutes (on the hour and at 15, 30, and 45 minutes after). So, 1:45 pm will be denoted with a single vibration followed by three more vibrations in a row.

    The code still requires you to have a general sense of the time of day since the codes are the same for some hours of the day to avoid being too complex. To use Silent Clock, you need to open the app and leave it open without locking your iPhone and then place it in a pocket so you can feel the vibrations.

    [applink url=””]

    We have a few promo codes to give away, including two codes each for Tap Alarm Clock and Wake Smarter. To get a promo code, all you need to do is comment on this post and state which app you’d like. UPDATE: All codes have been taken. Only one code per person and be sure to use your real email address (it won’t be visible to others) so we can send you the code. These codes are valid in the U.S. App Store only.

    Avid Studio for iPad Released

    Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

    Avid, the Massachusetts-based maker of audio and video editing software and tools, has released a version of its popular video editing application, Avid Studio, for the iPad. Avid Studio allows you to combine video, audio, and pictures and add titles, animations, transitions and more to create polished videos that can be published directly to YouTube or even exported for further editing in Avid Studio for the PC.

    This is not Avid’s first foray into the App Store (Avid Scorch, a sheet music viewing app, debuted last June) though Avid has not yet released anything in the Mac App Store. Avid last hit our radar in July when it tried to woo Final Cut Pro users to its Media Composer application via a cross-grade promotion.

    Avid Studio debuted in the App Store yesterday and costs $4.99. It requires iOS 5 or higher on an iPad 1 or 2.

    [applink url=””]