Archive for March, 2012

Explore the Universe with Physicist Brian Cox on Your iPad

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

I’m a sucker for educational apps that provide insight into the world around us beyond reading and math skills (not that those aren’t important as well) and there’s an iPad app that debuted today that promises to be an impressive entry in this category. HarperCollins has released Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe for the iPad, an app that offers a wealth of information about the universe from sub-atomic particles all the way to the formation of stars and galaxies.

Professor Brian Cox provides mind-expanding insight in over 200 interactive articles pinned to the stars, planets, galaxies and other wonders modelled in extraordinary 3D, written in his accessible style and accompanied by two and a half hours of video from the BBC TV series Wonders of the Solar System and Wonders of the Universe. The app also includes hundreds of infographics and images of space objects supplied by astronomy experts, NASA and other space researchers.

The app is broken down into seven sections to cover all things sub-atomic and atomic, the solar system, stars, the Milky Way, galaxies and the universe as a whole. Each section contains text supplemented with photos and videos to document the current state of scientific knowledge of each topic. Two additional sections feature content from Professor Brian Cox’s BBC television series, Wonders of the Solar System and Wonders of the Universe.

Here’s a video demo of the app in action:


I’ve been exploring the app this afternoon and find it to provide a ton of information as promised. While there isn’t a lot of depth to each topic with only a few paragraphs for each section that I’ve seen so far, the breadth of what’s covered is impressive. The app is polished with interactive images that look great on the new iPad’s retina display and a soothing audio track to complement the content.

Wonders of the Universe is available at a special introductory price of $6.99 for three weeks. After this, its regular price will be $9.99. Given its graphics-intensive nature, HarperCollins recommends it only for 2nd- and 3rd-generation iPads, so owners of the first-generation iPad should skip this app to avoid an unsatisfactory experience. A separate version of the app for the iPhone is planned as well though a specific release date and pricing has not yet been announced.

[applink url=””]

How to Use the Wish List Feature on

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

With more than 500,000 apps in the iOS App Store and nearly 10,000 in the Mac App Store, finding and keeping tabs on apps you may want to buy in the future can be a daunting task. However, we’ve developed an easier way for you to do this right here at If you’re new to AppShopper or just want to make sure you’re taking full advantage of what we offer, this article describes how to use our Wish List feature.

First, you need an AppShopper account. Yes, it’s totally free. All we need is a valid email address and a password of your choosing. We won’t sell your email address or do anything else dastardly with the information you provide or send you spam. Use the Register link in the top right corner and fill out the form on the next page (the Register and other links are not visible here on our blog pages – you’ll need to go to the What’s New tab to see them).

You’ll receive an email after you’ve created your account to verify your email address. Click on the link in that email to finish setting up your account and then you’re done!

Next, when you’re browsing the lists on our What’s New pages, every app shown has two check boxes: Own It and Want It. Checking the Want It box adds that app to your Wish List. (We’ll cover the Own It box and what it does in a later article.)

Now, click on the purple Wish List tab at the top of the page. All of the apps you’ve marked as Want It will be listed here.

Now here’s the beautiful part – find the Price Drop Notifications dialog box in the sidebar below the ads:

Here’s where you can choose to get an email alert when the price of an app on your Wish List drops. There’s als an option here to choose to receive an email when an app on your Wish List is updated, which can be handy when you’re waiting for a developer to release a universal version of an existing iPhone app, for instance.

Below the Price Drop Notifications dialog box in the sidebar is the Share My Wishlist box. Here’s where you can automatically share your Wish List through a dedicated URL (don’t worry – that URL won’t allow access to your account settings to anyone else) via Facebook, Twitter, or even an RSS feed. You can also just copy the URL and email it to someone – a useful feature to share the apps you want to buy before your birthday or any other major holiday you celebrate.

We also have a free universal AppShopper iOS app through which you can also view and add to your Wish List. Our app can also notify you of price drops and updates to the apps on your Wish List via push notifications. This can be in addition to or instead of email notifications – it’s your choice.

That’s it! You’re now an Wish List expert. If you have any trouble using our site or app, please submit your issue using this contact form.

[applink url=””]

Send a Free Postcard Through FX Photo Studio for iPhone on March 27

Monday, March 26th, 2012

The fantastic 8-megapixel camera in the iPhone 4S –plus the fact that I have my iPhone with me almost everywhere I go– makes it my go-to camera to capture images of both the mundane and strange things I come across. However, I’m not the world’s best photographer and my pictures usually need a little help to make them pop or even just look presentable at times and I rely heavily on photo editing apps. MacPhun’s FX Photo Studio is one app that I’ve been trying out recently and they’ve just announced a promotion that I wanted to share with you.

MacPhun, in partnership with Sincerely, Inc., will be offering free postcards through the FX Photo Studio iPhone app on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 12:00 a.m. Pacific time tomorrow, March 27. This promotion is good for the first 50,000 postcards so you should get it on this action early in the day in order to get your card for free before this limit is reached.

Within FX Photo Studio, all you need to do is capture (or import) the image you want to send as a postcard, edit it using the nearly 200 effects available within the app, and then tap on the postcards button in the share menu to prepare and submit your masterpiece for mailing.

This ability to send your photos as postcards is a new feature that just debuted a few days ago with the release of version 4.7 of the app. If you want more details about how this works, check out MacPhun’s FAQ here.

If you happen to miss this special, sending a postcard costs between $1 and $3 depending on your location, which is very reasonable pricing to easily send postcards using your own photos while on vacation to your friends and family. FX Photo Studio itself costs $1.99 and has a ton of features. If you’re looking for one-stop photo editing and enough sharing options to choke a horse, you can’t go wrong with FX Photo Studio.

[applink url=””]

Angry Birds Space Now Available for iPhone, iPad, and Mac

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Though we don’t usually cover games here at AppShopper, I’d feel remiss if I didn’t let you know about the release of a new Angry Birds game. I mean, your day would be incomplete without this information, right? Plus, what better way is there to while away time in the first week of spring than killing evil green pigs in space by flinging annoyed avians at them?

So, yeah. Angry Birds Space is now available in the iOS App Store and the Mac App Store. There are two versions in the iOS App Store – one for the iPhone, which costs $.99, and one for the iPad, which costs $2.99. For the Mac, Angry Birds Space costs $4.99. I purchased the iPad version and it looks spectacular on the new iPad’s retina display. The physics of the game is different than previous earth-bound versions to more accurately reflect the gravity of smaller heavenly bodies in space.

You can see a video showing the story of how the birds and pigs got into space to begin with. In case you were wondering how creatures without opposable thumbs managed this feat. And I know you were. (Hint: it involves a wormhole.)


The peeps over at our sister site TouchArcade will have a review of Angry Birds Space up later today if you want more details before spending your hard-earned cash. But I wouldn’t hesitate to make that purchase in your shoes if you liked any of the previous versions of Angry Birds. Angry Birds Space is a meaty game with 60 levels and the physics of outer space will challenge any bird-flinging skills you’ve developed to date.

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GrowlVoice is a Competent and Attractive Google Voice Client for Your Mac

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Although the iOS App Store offers several Google Voice apps for your free texting and call routing pleasure, offerings to access this handy service through a native application on your Mac are a bit more sparse. In the past, I’ve used Andreas Amann’s excellent Dashboard widget, GV Connect (Amann also created the GV Connect iPhone app for Google Voice), but I’ve found an even easier way to access my Google Voice account right from my Mac’s desktop thanks to developer Eric Horacek’s recently-updated GrowlVoice.

Before I get any further, note first that you need a Google Voice account first to use GrowlVoice – 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 (Google offers VoIP services through Google Talk, which is a different, but related, service).

GrowlVoice 2.0 hit the Mac App Store earlier this month and offers access to nearly every Google Voice feature in an eye-pleasing package. GrowlVoice lives in your Mac’s menu bar and can be invoked by a mouse click. You can also define custom keyboard shortcuts to bring up the new call and text message dialogs as well as to open your inbox or the first message in your inbox.

The main view shows your inbox as a consolidated list of all text messages and voicemails, displaying the first line of each message or voicemail transcript, if available, and its date. Here, you can also star items and mark them as read or unread by clicking the icons on the left. These tasks, along with archiving, marking as spam and more can also be done through the contextual menu shown when you right-click on an item. Double-clicking on an item will bring you to a new view showing the entire voicemail transcript or text message conversation.


An anchor button in the top right corner lets you “pin” this view so it’s always visible on top of all other windows if you need to keep an eye on your inbox for a specific message. The number of new text messages or voicemails will always be visible in GrowlVoice’s menu bar icon.

The activity I do the most with Google Voice while on my Mac is sending text messages and I set the custom keyboard shortcut for this to be Command + Control + T (you can make up your own shortcut for this and other functions). The text message composition window includes a character counter to help you keep your message under the 160-character limit. Sending the composed message is as easy as pressing the return key.


GrowlVoice’s settings let you choose to use the contacts from your Mac’s Address Book or your Google Contacts, a choice I appreciate since all of my contacts are in my Mac’s Address Book and I store nothing in my Google Contacts. Also here are notifications settings, the ability to choose between dark and light themes (both are lovely though I prefer the dark theme), and the pane where you can define your own keyboard shortcuts.

GrowlVoice supports multiple Google Voice accounts so you don’t have to log in and out of different accounts just to stay on top of them. Performance-wise, I found GrowlVoice to stay in sync well with my Google Voice account, as accessed through Google’s official Google Voice app on my iPhone.

Although it’s currently the only one of the only Google Voice apps available in the Mac App Store, GrowlVoice works very well, looks nice and is worthy of recommendation if you’re looking for a way to access your Google Voice account easily without keeping a browser window open all the time.

[applink url=”413146256″]

Find Retina Display-Optimized Apps for Your New iPad

Monday, March 19th, 2012

The third-generation iPad’s retina display is definitely a beauty and I’m finding that I don’t want to sully it with apps that lack high-resolution graphics. As we noted last week, app developers are working hard to update their universal and iPad-specific apps with better graphics but how can you find which ones have been updated? Well, we’ve made a few behind-the-scenes changes here at AppShopper to help you out. Here is a search you should bookmark:

→ All iPad apps and games updated with retina display support

If your focus is on games, this search will narrow down your results even more:

→ iPad games updated with retina display support

Note that both universal and iPad-only apps will show in the results of these searches.

After you click on those search links, check out the RSS Feed link in the top right corner – you can use this link to subscribe to a feed of each search so you can stay on top of them through your favorite RSS reader (Reeder for the Mac and iPad is one of my favorites).

Apple just announced that more than three million 3rd-generation iPads were sold since its launch on Friday, March 16. Clearly there is strong demand for Apple’s latest tablet, which must be music to the ears of developers with iPad apps. If you’re new to the iPad or updating from an older model, stay with us here at AppShopper for the latest on new and updated apps and definitely install our very own (and free!) AppShopper app on your new iPad. Our app will give you easy access to the newest and most popular apps, the Top 200 apps in every category, plus your very own Wish List where you can track apps you want to get in the future. Our app can even alert you via push notifications when apps on your Wish List go on sale. How cool is that?

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Apps Updated for the New iPad’s Retina Display Abound

Friday, March 16th, 2012

The 3rd-generation iPad is available in stores in the US and nine other countries today and many developers have clearly hustled to make their apps ready for its retina display with a ton of app updates boasting high-resolution graphics arriving this week.

If you will be getting a 3rd-generation iPad today or already have one in your hot little hands, here are some of those iPad apps that have been recently updated with high-resolution graphics so you can bask in the full glory of its more than 3.1 million pixels.

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Apple has also created a new section in the App Store that lists apps ready for the new iPad here (link opens iTunes).

If you’re looking for games, our sister site TouchArcade points out that Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy, an new air combat game that was featured during the event when the 3rd-generation iPad was announced earlier this month, is now available. Another game also featured at that event, Infinity Blade: Dungeons is expected soon as well. TouchArcade has also compiled a list of games that have have been updated to take advantage of the 3rd-generation iPad’s retina display here.

Using the release of the new iPad as reason for a sale, Gameloft has dropped the price of several of its titles to just $.99. These games are normally $6.99 or $4.99 so now is the time to snag them if they’ve been on your Wish List. Here’s a partial listing of what they’ve marked down:

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If you’re on the fence about whether or not to get the new iPad, you can check out the initial reviews of Apple’s latest tablet that came out a couple of days ago from publications that received review units from Apple. The Verge’s Joshua Topolsky dubbed the new iPad’s retina display “surreal” and found LTE speeds to be impressive. Jim Dalrymple of LoopInsight was also impressed with the new iPad’s display and praised the overall experience of the iPad with iCloud and iTunes Match for ease of use. Macworld also noted the big leap in quality in the display from the iPad 2 to the new iPad and found the improved rear-facing camera to be one of the best available in the tablet market.

Osfoora for Twitter Comes to the Mac with Tweet Marker Support

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

There is no shortage of Twitter apps in the Mac App Store though if you browse Twitter on multiple platforms, apps that synchronize your timeline position across your Mac and iOS devices are few and far between. Twitterrific was the first Mac app we saw that included this kind of synchronization using the Tweet Marker service and there’s a lovely new entry in the Mac App Store that now includes the same feature, Said Marouf’s Osfoora.

Osfoora is no stranger to the world of Apple with iOS versions available for the iPhone and iPad since 2010. Osfoora, which roughly means “little bird” in Arabic, debuted in the Mac App Store last month with all of the features you’d expect from a Twitter client these days, including Growl support, Instapaper and Read It Later support, multiple account capability, inline image thumbnails, lists, and more. All of this comes in a clean, subdued interface that doesn’t add to the distraction Twitter can already present all on its own.

Osfoora’s settings let you customize font size, set timeline refresh timing, and define your preferred image and video uploading and URL shortening services. You can choose to use Growl notifications to be alerted of mentions and direct messages and an optional dock icon badge can let you know how many unread tweets are waiting for your hungry eyes at a glance.

Those who like keyboard shortcuts for speedy navigation will find that Osfoora covers all the basics, with easy shortcuts to access your main timeline view, mentions, direct messages, favorites, lists, saved searches and even your own profile.

If you’re a Twitter user who likes a lot of customization options to change interface colors, set up multiple tabs in the same window to hold your favorite searches and other items, you’ll be better served by an application like YoruFukurou, an app that also offers more flexible window resizing, making it my favorite when I’m using my 11-inch MacBook Air and its relatively tiny screen. While Osfoora does let you open multiple windows to view different accounts, you won’t be able to tweak its interface much beyond the font size.

Tweet Marker is a service for “setting and getting the ‘last read’ tweet for a given Twitter user” according to the service’s site and though I think it’s a fantastic idea, few apps are taking advantage of it at this point. The best aspect of Tweet Marker is that it’s device and platform independent in how it works, which means I can use Osfoora on my Mac and Tweetbot on my iPad and iPhone and they will both find my last timeline position thanks to Tweet Marker. I’d argue that this is a service that Twitter itself should offer but for now, I’m happy that there are excellent clients available for all of my devices that make use of this service.

Osfoora for the Mac costs $4.99 and is well worth the price. If you want to get a little crazy and have matching Twitter apps on all of your Apple devices, you can also try Osfoora for the iPhone and Osfoora HD for the iPad, though neither of these apps incorporate the Tweet Marker service at this time, though if I were a betting woman, I’d say this is coming soon.

[applink url=”502401238″]

Billr Makes Bill Splitting and Tip Calculating Easy

Monday, March 12th, 2012

The tip calculator category is a crowded one in the App Store and it can be difficult to stand out but a new app created by three college students brings a refreshing take to the genre. Brown University students Nicholas Shulman and Stephen Poletto came up with the idea for a straightforward and easy-to-use bill splitting app and partnered with designer Ivy Hu to create Billr.

When you open Billr, you first designate the number of people in your party (up to 16 people). From there, each person can enter the amounts of each item ordered.

Once all items are entered, the next screen shows the bill total and allows you to select the correct tax and desired tip amounts. The final screen shows you the amount each person owes to cover the total bill with taxes and the tip given the amount spent by each.

Billr is definitely easy to use and is a keeper for me, though I wish it had one additional feature. When I go out to eat with friends, we rarely bother with splitting the bill based on exactly what each person ordered but instead prefer to evenly split the bill among us all. If Billr included a feature that would offer the ability to evenly split a bill with taxes and tip, it would be my go-to app for all of my restaurant bill calculation needs.

When Billr first hit the App Store in late February, its primary function was to let multiple diners calculate their exact share of a restaurant meal. Since then, Billr has been updated so that it can act as a tip calculator for just one person, making it a fantastic selection even if you’re only looking for a simple tip calculator with an occasional need to split bills among multiple people. Billr is currently available for the special introductory price of $.99 and it’s a great choice to make restaurant bill calculation as painless as possible between friends.

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Apple Announces iPhoto for iOS, Updates to GarageBand and iMovie

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

At today’s press event where the third-generation iPad was announced, Apple also introduced a new iPhoto app for the iPhone and iPad and updates to the existing GarageBand and iMovie apps.

iPhoto offers multi-touch photo editing, high-quality effects, brushes and more and can support photos up to 19-megapixels in resolution. Photos can be uploaded to Flickr and Facebook directly through the app or streamed to a television via AirPlay and an Apple TV.

Notably, iPhoto does not use Google Maps data for displaying the location information of geotagged pictures, as noted by 512pixels, which seems to be a manifestation of Apple’s acquisitions of mapping companies Placebase in 2009 and C3 Technologies in 2011.

iPhoto is available in the App Store now for $4.99.

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GarageBand gets a new Jam Session feature to play or record with up to three others using compatible iOS devices, cross-device synchronization via iCloud and more. The full list of what’s new in version 1.2 is as follows:

  • Start a Jam Session to play or record live with up to three of your friends using iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch*
  • Conduct an entire string orchestra using Smart Strings
  • Use the Note Editor to adjust or fine-tune any Touch Instrument recording
  • Combine recordings to free up additional tracks using Track Merge
  • Keep your GarageBand songs up to date across all your iOS devices with iCloud*
  • Share your songs directly to Facebook, YouTube, and SoundCloud
  • Perform retro and modern synth bass lines and grooves with new Smart Bass instruments
  • Play synth melodies and arpeggios with new Smart Keyboard instruments

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iMovie now features the movie trailer creation feature that debuted in the Mac version in late 2010, plus a new audio browser to preview music and sound effects. The full list of what’s new in version 1.3 of iMovie is as follows:

  • Create beautiful movie trailers with stunning graphics and world-class soundtracks*
  • Swipe up on the playhead to freeze a frame in your video
  • Preview music and sound effects in the Audio Browser
  • Create a song in GarageBand and send it directly to iMovie

[applink url=””]