Archive for April, 2012

Q’ed Offers Netflix DVD Queue Management on iPhone and iPad

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Netflix, the company that offers DVD rentals by mail and online streaming of movies and television shows, removed the ability for members to manage their DVD rental queue from its iPhone and iPad app last year. This move, which was decried by many if the comments on the company’s blog post announcing the change was any indication, left a hole that several developers have worked to fill. And one of the many options now available for iPhone and iPad users is Q’ed by Imaginary Spinor, a capable app that will let you manage your Netflix queue to your heart’s content.

Of course, you need a Netflix account to use Q’ed to begin with. Once logged in, you can view and edit your current DVD queue. A single tip screen will pop up when you start using the app to let you know that you can use pinching gestures to collapse and expand visible lists to different views. This is one of my favorite features of Q’ed since I can easily switch to an abbreviated view to facilitate a quick update to my queue or browse it with more information visible at my leisure.

Imaginary Spinor’s demo video shows these gestures as well as the app’s interface and other features:


 

Movies available for instant streaming are marked with a playback arrow on the DVD cover art image. Tapping on one of these will switch you to the official Netflix app to watch it, a requirement imposed by Netflix.

While it’s still possible to manage your queue through the web using Safari, a dedicated app can offer more direct access and convenience and is my preferred medium and Q’ed is more than up to this task. In particular, if you have a DVD-only membership to Netflix that does not include streaming, Netflix’s own official app that offers streaming only is useless to you and Q’ed is a worthwhile option to manage your queue.

Q’ed debuted in the App Store last month and was initially available only for the iPhone but was updated to a universal version with an interface optimized for the iPad a few days ago. Q’ed costs $1.99 and is compatible with the iPhone 3GS and up, the 3rd-generation iPod touch and up, and all iPad models and requires iOS 3.2 or higher.

  • Entertainment

    Q'ed - Netflix Queue Manager

    Last Changed:
    17 weeks ago
    Rating:
    2.50 (161)
    Version:
    1.8
    iOS Universal

    Q'ed - is an advanced Netflix Queue Manager for iPad, iPhone / iPod Touch. *** Q'ed is now FREE till Nov. 2014. *** "A capable app that will let you manage your Netflix queue to your...

ChatterBlocker for iPhone Blocks Out Unwanted Conversations

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

With my iPhone as my default MP3 player, it’s a handy tool to drown out other noises and focus on my work. However, there are situations where listening to music isn’t all that effective at blocking out other sounds and The Sound Guy has come to the rescue for those times with the release of ChatterBlocker for the iPhone, an app that masks the noise of conversations around you with background chatter and nature sounds.

Cubicle dwellers often have trouble hearing themselves think when surrounded by irrelevant conversations,” said Earl Vickers, CEO of The Sound Guy, Inc. “ChatterBlocker minimizes the intelligibility of nearby speech in a way that is more effective and less distracting than listening to music.”

ChatterBlocker presents you with several preset sound mixes on the main tab of voice and nature sounds and both combined. The Voices tab lets you select from voice chatter sounds, offering low, medium, and high pitch levels for male and female voices. The third tab offers nature sounds only like rain, birdsong and wind. You can also create your own mixes from the sounds provided.

The voice sounds offered are unintelligible chatter, as if you were standing near a crowd of people talking but not close enough to be able to hear exactly what they’re saying. The Sound Guy claims that these types of sounds can reduce the intelligibility of conversations near you, allowing you to ignore them more easily to focus on whatever you’re doing. In my brief tests with ChatterBlocker at a busy coffee shop, selecting the appropriate voice types of those closest to me and the nature sounds I preferred, I found this to work as claimed for the most part.

The Sound Guy has created a video overview of ChatterBlocker for the iPhone:


 
ChatterBlocker has been around for several years for both Windows and Mac and these desktop versions offer additional features not available in the iPhone version, such as the ability to use your own music files. However, having ChatterBlocker on your iPhone can be much more convenient, particularly if you’re reading or performing some other activity where you’re not using your computer but still want to block out conversations around you.

ChatterBlocker debuted in the App Store earlier this week and costs $2.99. It’s compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and requires iOS 4.3 or higher.

  • Productivity

    ChatterBlocker

    Last Changed:
    33 months ago
    Rating:
    4.00 (18)
    Version:
    1.01
    iOS iPhone

    ChatterBlocker masks unwanted conversations so you can focus on your work, not your coworkers. ChatterBlocker blurs speech using a soothing blend of nature sounds and background chatter....

Clear for iPhone Gets New Themes, Shake to Undo, More

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Clear, the streamlined and gesture-driven to do app by Realmac Software, Impending, and Milen that debuted in February, has received an update adding several new features. Clear 1.1, which hit the App Store this morning, features new color themes, a shake to undo feature and more.

The full list of what’s new is as follows:

  • Shake to Undo: a popular request, and now all yours.
  • Character Cap is now voluntary. With great power comes great responsibility…
  • Secret Themes! How secret? So tantalizingly secret we can’t say more.
  • New option display the iOS status bar.
  • Improved the tap-to-create-item behaviour at the bottom of lists.
  • 25% added inspiration (more quotes!)
  • Shiny new design for alerts
  • Fixed legibility in low-contrast situations with subtle text emboss
  • Added the Clear tutorial to the Tips and Tricks menu
  • Bug fixes

Most welcome is the removal of the character limit for each item, which was a little stifling for those who like to be a little more verbose when listing tasks, a category I fall squarely in. Also useful is the new option to make the status bar visible so you can keep an eye on the time as you browse your lists.

As with the initial release of Clear, there are some color themes you can unlock. If you have Path installed, this automatically unlocks a new theme with the same name. Additional themes are tied to other apps, as our sister site TouchArcade points out in an article about Clear and game mechanics in productivity apps. Those apps, The Heist, Temple Run, and Bumpy Road, will be updated shortly so you can complete your Clear theme collection if you’re so inclined.

All in all, this update only adds to the appeal of Clear as a to do app. While I’ll still use Apple’s own Reminders for the most part since I absolutely must have alerts for many of my tasks, Clear is fun and easy to use and will remain on my home screen.

  • Productivity

    Clear – Tasks, Reminders &...

    Last Changed:
    4 weeks ago
    Rating:
    4.00 (170)
    Version:
    1.5
    iOS Universal

    Over 2 million people de-clutter their lives with Clear, so stop stalling and start organising your daily routine. Clear is the revolutionary to-do and reminders app that makes you more productive....

Fragile Earth for iPad Highlights Impact of Climate Change, Urbanization, and Natural Disasters

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Earth Day, a day dedicated to learning and awareness of our environment and man’s impact on it, is April 22 and HarperCollins has just released Fragile Earth, a photography app for the iPad that highlights environmental changes caused by mankind and natural phenomena, as a timely learning tool.

Fragile Earth combines some of the most powerful images of the environment, showing before and after scenes of our natural world. Through these thought-provoking portraits from across the globe, the app captures the world’s beauty, vastness and vulnerability. Detailed ecological snapshots depict rivers which have dried up or flooded, erupted volcanoes, glaciers in the process of melting, and cities sprawling outward.

Fragile Earth showcases before and after satellite images of numerous locations in six categories: Man’s Impact, Deserts and Drought, Natural Phenomena, Warming World, Water’s Power, and Wild Weather. Each set of images features a slider control to switch between the older and newer views of the selected location. A button marked with an arrow at the bottom of each image set reveals a description of what the images display.

HarperCollins has created a demo video to show how the app works:


 

In commemoration of Earth Day, HarperCollins will drop the price of Fragile Earth from its regular price of $2.99 to just $.99 from April 22 through April 29. If you’re at all curious about how our planet has been affected by the expansion of cities, deforestation and other actions and events, Fragile Earth is a worthy purchase. If you want to learn more about Earth Day and find out about related events in your area, check out the official Earth Day website.

  • Reference

    Fragile Earth

    Last Changed:
    24 months ago
    Rating:
    3.50 (10)
    Version:
    1.3
    iOS Universal

    “A unique perspective of locations around the globe…on how the world is changing over time due to both human and environmental factors.” Mashable “Through thought-provoking portraits from...

Plants vs. Zombies for iPhone and iPad Gets New Mini-Games, Leaderboards, More

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Though we normally leave iOS game coverage to our sister site, TouchArcade, I couldn’t help but note a significant update to one of my favorite games that hit the App Store today. Version 1.9.2 of PopCap’s Plants vs. Zombies became available today, adding new mini-games and game modes, Game Center leaderboards, coin packs to buy virtual goods via in-app purchase, and more.

The full list of what’s new in the iPad version is as follows:

  • ZEN GARDEN: Relax and start a plant collection in your Zen Garden. Find new plants in the game, or get Marigolds and Mystery Sprouts from Crazy Dave. Treat your plants well, and they’ll reward you nicely.
  • VASEBREAKER ENDLESS: It’s not just a mini-game anymore! Try to survive all 9 unique levels as you battle zombies hiding in vases. It’s smashing fun!
  • I, ZOMBIE ENDLESS: Change sides for a while and give your fun-dead friends a hand through this 9-level game mode. Help zombies get past the plants to their brainy rewards.
  • FOUR NEW MINI-GAMES: Try your hand at Slot Machine, Zombiquarium, Portal Combat, and Beghouled Twist — a fun new set of mini-game challenges!More awesome fun:
  • 28 NEW ACHIEVEMENTS: Earn even more ways to prove your zombie-zapping prowess.
  • LEADERBOARDS: Check out the 5 unique Game Center leaderboards and see where you rank.
  • COIN PACKS: Want great new stuff? Check out the brand-new coin packs for purchase on the Main Menu.
  • And now, the zombies are speaking your language! We’ve added language support for French, Italian, German and Spanish!

The full list of what’s new in the iPhone version is as follows:

  • VASEBREAKER ENDLESS: It’s not just a mini-game anymore! Try to survive all 9 unique levels as you battle zombies hiding in vases. Plus, see where you rank in the Vasebreaker leaderboard. It’s smashing fun!
  • FOUR NEW ACHIEVEMENTS: Earn even more ways to prove your zombie-zapping prowess.
  • COIN PACKS: Need coins for great new stuff? Check out the brand-new coin packs for purchase on the Main Menu.
  • And now, the zombies are speaking your language! We’ve added language support for French, Italian, German and Spanish!

If you’re not familiar with Plants vs. Zombies, it’s a tower defense-style game where you deploy cute little plants that can shoot peas and employ other defensive tactics to defend your home against zombies. The zombies, of course, want to eat your brain. It’s adorable and fun to play and is appealing to both children and adults. If you’re not sure if you’d like to spend your money on it quite yet, you can check out TouchArcade’s review of it here. If you’d like to get a feel for the game directly first, you can play it on the web at Popcap’s site here.


 
  • Games

    Plants vs. Zombies

    Last Changed:
    14 months ago
    Rating:
    4.50 (3650)
    Version:
    1.9.9
    iOS iPhone

    We want to remind our players that Plants vs. Zombies is compatible with iOS versions 7.1 and below, and with the following devices: iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Get ready to soil your plants as a...

  • Games

    Plants vs. Zombies HD

    Last Changed:
    14 months ago
    Rating:
    4.50 (3121)
    Version:
    1.9.7
    iOS iPad

    We want to remind our players that Plants vs. Zombies HD is compatible with iOS versions 7.1 and below, and with the following devices: iPad. Get ready to soil your plants in this high-definition,...

Yellow Pages for iPhone Offers Free Turn-by-Turn Navigation with Voice Guidance

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Avantar’s free Yellow Pages app received a significant update recently, adding free turn-by-turn navigation with voice guidance. Yellow Pages has been available for iOS devices for several years now, debuting in October 2008 shortly after the App Store itself opened and it became universal with the release of the first-generation iPad in 2010.

To access the free navigation feature, you simply need to tap the purple car icon in the listing of the business you’d like to go to. Next, you’ll see an intermediate screen that contains tips, including an important one suggesting that you adjust your iPhone’s screen lock settings (Settings/General/Auto-Lock) to “Never” so that the screen doesn’t turn off while you’re driving.

After this, you’ll see a map view providing an overview of your route and tapping on Drive at the bottom of the screen will start the turn-by-turn guidance. A Switch button in the top right corner lets you change to the Google Maps, Navigon, or TomTom apps if you’d rather get your guidance from another source (you’ll have to have purchased Navigon or TomTom separately). I have Navigon installed on my iPhone and selecting this option in the Switch menu automatically inputs the address of the selected business in Navigon so it doesn’t need to be entered manually.

There are a few caveats to using Yellow Pages as your go-to navigation app. First, Yellow Pages does not store any map data on your device, so you’ll need to have an internet connection via Wi-Fi or 3G to get map data and guidance. Second, since Yellow Pages is a business directory app, you can’t use it to navigate to a friend’s house or an address that’s not already in the directory as a business. And last, though Yellow Pages is a universal app with an interface optimized for the iPad, the turn-by-turn navigation option is available only on the iPhone. However, if you already know where all of your friends live and your navigation needs are primarily to locate businesses, Yellow Pages is a fantastic free choice compared to shelling out money for a dedicated navigation app like Navigon or TomTom.

  • Navigation

    Yellow Pages

    Last Changed:
    1 week ago
    Rating:
    4.50 (14)
    Version:
    7.5.0
    iOS Universal

    Fans describe us best: "As a business person traveling different places, I use this constantly for my addresses in my GPS." - Jim Diaville "Siri is just not doing it for...

Bluetooth OnOff Brings 1-Step Bluetooth Control to iPhone and iPad

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Turning Bluetooth on or off on an iPhone or iPad takes several steps, a process that can be a little frustrating for such a simple task. Though those who jailbreak their devices have an easily-accessible switch to accomplish this via utilities like SBSettings, non-jailbreakers have had to make do with the 4-step Settings/General/Bluetooth tap dance. At least until now with the release of Jung Disk’s Bluetooth OnOff app for the iPhone and iPad.

Bluetooth OnOff hit the App Store last night and is a messaging app that lets you send text messages via Bluetooth to others who also have the app. However, its description focuses on its ability to toggle Bluetooth on and off right within the app, avoiding the need to go to into Settings and dig down a few levels to accomplish this.


Additionally, the app offers an even quicker method to control Bluetooth, allowing you to toggle Bluetooth on and off by simply opening and closing the app. To do this, you need to go to the app’s settings panel in Settings and toggle the unlabeled switch there and then kill the app through the multitasking tray and relaunch it.

When this is enabled, the app won’t even stay open but simply toggles Bluetooth on and off each time it’s tapped. This kills its functionality as a messaging app but with a host of other, more functional messaging apps already available in the App Store, not to mention Apple’s own iMessage, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here by saying this won’t disappoint many people at all given the app’s primary purpose to quickly control Bluetooth.

Bluetooth OnOff is a universal app that works on both the iPhone and iPad and it costs only $.99. If you’re a frequent Bluetooth toggler, you’ll want to check it out. However, as I understand it, this kind of direct control over Bluetooth is not technically allowed under Apple’s iOS development guidelines and I don’t expect this to last long in the App Store so you should get it before it’s gone.

UPDATE: Bluetooth OnOff is no longer available in the App Store. Apple removed it since it made use of private APIs that are off-limits to developers.

Apple Updates Cards iPhone App for Mother’s Day

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Apple updated its Cards app for the iPhone today, adding several new card designs for Mother’s Day next month (celebrated on the second Sunday in May in the U.S. and several other countries). Version 1.1 of Cards also adds new card designs for other categories including birthdays and thank you and get well cards.

The check-out process has also been streamlined, making it quicker to purchase a card. In fact, it’s so quick now that your purchase is complete as soon as you enter your Apple ID and password, so you’d better be certain that the card you’ve selected is the one you want to purchase since there are no other confirmation checks after this step. Can you tell that I just ordered a card through the app by accident in checking out this update? Well, at least my husband will think I’m more thoughtful than I actually am in a few days.


Version 1.1 of Cards is available in the App Store now and is free to download. Cards cost $2.99 each mailed to addresses in the U.S. and $4.99 to other locations outside of the U.S. Though Cards is not optimized with an interface for the iPad, it is compatible with the tablet as well as the iPhone and iPod touch and requires iOS 5 or higher.

  • Lifestyle

    Cards

    Last Changed:
    17 months ago
    Rating:
    3.50 (124)
    Version:
    2.0.3
    iOS Universal

    The Cards app from Apple lets you create and mail beautifully crafted, real greeting cards personalized with your own text and photos — right from your iPhone or iPod touch, and now from your iPad...

Adobe Reader for iPhone and iPad Gets PDF Markup, Form Completion, More

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Adobe, the California-based software giant, has released a major update to its Adobe Reader iOS app that first debuted in October. Version 10.2.0 of Adobe Reader gets several new features, including the ability to mark up PDF files with virtual sticky notes, freehand drawing and highlighting, strikethrough and underlining tools plus the ability to complete PDF forms.

The full list of what’s new in this version is as follows:

  • Easily mark up PDF content with sticky notes, the freehand drawing tool or the highlight, strikethrough, and underline tools
  • Add comments anywhere in your PDF file with sticky notes
  • Fill out PDF forms
  • Use the new Ink Signature tool to sign any PDF document using your finger
  • Send PDF files to others for electronic signing using Adobe EchoSign
  • Performance and Memory fixes for new iPad

While this isn’t an earth-shatteringly exciting update (no offense to the iOS developers at Adobe), Adobe is finally offering some features here that other apps in the App Store have offered for a while, and usually not for free. It’s nice to see the creator of the PDF standard itself expand the functionality of its iOS app. Adobe has posted more details about the new features on its blog here.

Version 10.2.0 of Adobe Reader hit the App Store yesterday and is compatible with the iPhone 3GS and higher, the 3rd-generation iPod touch and higher and all iPad models. The app requires iOS 4.2.5 or higher.

  • Business

    Adobe Reader

    Last Changed:
    2 weeks ago
    Rating:
    3.00 (26)
    Version:
    11.6.3
    iOS Universal

    Adobe Reader is the free, trusted leader for reliably viewing and interacting with PDFs on your iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. VIEW PDFs • Quickly open PDF documents from email, the web, or any app...

How to Find Paid Apps Gone Free on AppShopper.com

Friday, April 6th, 2012

For those who like to shop, there are few things in life more satisfying than finding a great deal on something you want. Though it’s pretty much impossible to find tangible items in stores that are free without applying your own five-finger discount, this is not true for apps. From time to time, some developers get a little crazy and make their paid apps free. But how do you find these apps? While you can be notified of price drops for apps on your Wish List (a topic we covered recently), how do you find out about apps beyond those already on your Wish List? As you might have guessed, AppShopper can help.

First, we already have three RSS feeds set up to catch and list all paid apps gone free for the Mac, iPhone and iPad. These feeds are shown in the sidebar on the right when you’re viewing any page under the What’s New tab. You can subscribe to these feeds using your favorite RSS feed reader so you can stay on top of these apps without even needing to visit AppShopper. You can also get fancy and get push notifications of updates to any of these RSS feeds on your iPhone or iPad through a push notification app like Boxcar or Push 4.0, which we featured in our blog a few months ago here.

If RSS feeds aren’t your thing or you just want to browse apps in a more leisurely fashion, here’s how you can find paid apps gone free right on our site at any time. When you’re viewing the What’s New tab, a row of toggles and a drop-down menu are visible at the top of the page below the row of tabs. You can adjust these toggles to change what’s visible on the page to suit your needs if you’re looking specifically for apps for a certain device or your Mac.

Now, here’s the magic combination to find all paid apps that are now free: using the three sets of toggle on the right, select All between All/Popular, Free out of All/Paid/Free and Price Drops out of All/Updates/New/Price Drops. The toggles should now look like this:


Voilà! The list on the page will change to show you all paid apps currently marked down to free, the best price ever.

If you want to narrow this down to a specific category, you can do that as well. For example, choosing the Games category will show you all paid games that are currently free. Also, if you’re looking only for iPhone apps, you can choose that toggle to narrow down the results. Of course, choose the appropriate toggles to choose iPad-specific apps or universal apps that are made for both the iPhone and iPad.

Here’s an RSS feed trick you may not have known. When you customize the toggles and category drop-down, you’re also customizing an RSS feed that’s available in the top right corner of the page next to the links to your AppShopper profile.


After you’re done customizing the toggles and drop-down menu to your liking, you can just subscribe to this feed using your favorite RSS feed reader and have it for all eternity.

So there you have it. You are now armed with the tools to take advantage of the most drastic price reduction decisions app developers can make. Happy app shopping and don’t forget to check out our free AppShopper app if you haven’t already!

  • Utilities

    AppShopper

    Last Changed:
    27 months ago
    Rating:
    4.00 (138)
    Version:
    1.4.4
    iOS Universal

    The official AppShopper.com app from the creators of TouchArcade.com AppShopper keeps you up to date on the newest App Store apps, sales and freebies. Organize apps in your own customized Wish List...