Archive for July, 2012

Solar Weather App for the iPhone is Cool All the Time

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Even though I covered Dark Sky yesterday, I’d feel remiss if I didn’t mention a new entry in the Weather category in the iOS App Store, Solar by Hollr, Inc. Solar hit the App Store earlier this month and features a slick interface to fast-forward through the weather forecast for the current day and see forecast information and the current conditions for other saved locations.

In Solar, sliding your finger up the screen will fast-forward through the current day to show you the expected conditions for the next 24 hours, complete with an animated background to show any precipitation. Dragging downward will pull a 3-day forecast into view from the top of the screen. Pinching with two fingers will reduce the view to tiles for your current location and any other locations you save using the plus button in the top right corner. You can flick right and left to navigate through all of these tiles and tap on one to see its details.

Here’s a demo video showing Solar in action:

Solar is well-done and reminds me of Clear with its gesture-driven interface to carry out most actions. If you don’t need radar or more extensive and detailed forecast information, Solar is an excellent choice for a cool weather app that can showcase the iPhone and its capabilities. It’s on sale for a limited time at just $.99 to celebrate its release so get it now before the price goes up.

  • Weather

    Solar : Weather

    Last Changed:
    20 months ago
    4.50 (269)
    iOS iPhone

    FREE TODAY - The most talked about app in weather, SOLAR Featured on: Fast Company, Macworld, The Verge, Hypebeast, Gizmodo, Apartment Therapy, CoolHunting, & many more. "The...

Dark Sky Brings Personalized Weather Predictions to iPhone and iPad

Monday, July 30th, 2012

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the weather in the northeastern US after several years living in sunny California, it’s that weather conditions can change on a dime and ruin your plans with little notice, even in the summer. Fortunately, there are creative developers like Jackadam who are willing to help you maximize your time outdoors and avoid surprises from Mother Nature with Dark Sky for the iPhone and iPad.

Dark Sky promises more precise “minute-to-minute” predictions based on your location with a focus on the next hour to give meaningful short-term information to help you plan your outdoor activities. The app evaluates raw weather radar data and reprocesses it to remove the noise and give more accurate weather predictions. You can read more about how Dark Sky’s predicts weather in this blog post written by its developers.

I tested Dark Sky on a day when rain was expected to see how closely it would track the rain heading my way. Here’s the sequence of screen shots as I tracked the arrival of the brief storm.

At first, Dark Sky told me light rain would start in 25 minutes, then it revised prediction just five minutes later to say that is was now sprinkling and that rain would start in earnest in 20 minutes and last for 30 minutes. At that moment, I didn’t see any sprinkles but there were ominous clouds around and it was clear that it was going to rain.

It actually began to rain about 15 minutes later and this is what Dark Sky showed me then:

The rain did indeed continue for about 20 minutes and then stopped. A test on another day when rain was expected yielded a similar experience where Dark Sky predicted incoming weather within a 25-minute window with minor changes as time passed.

Predicting the exact start and stop times of any weather event is impossible to do perfectly but Dark Sky seems to be reasonably good in giving you a heads up about incoming inclement weather. However, it is missing a feature that would be key for me to keep Dark Sky on my iPhone: the ability to get push notifications to notify me of incoming rain.

For example, I like to walk my dog in the evening after work but sometimes other tasks get in the way and I don’t get to this until later than planned. Occasionally, rain cancels the walk entirely when I finally grab his leash and get ready to head out. (Before you suggest it, dragging a 125 lb Great Dane who hates water on a walk through the rain is incredibly difficult and entirely unpleasant for all involved.) If I’d known rain was coming in the next hour or so, chances are that I’d drop what I was doing and take the dog out right away to beat the rain.

Of course, some parameters around these alerts would be useful since I wouldn’t want or need to be notified every time it’s going to rain. A simple switch in the app to turn on a single notification to let me know of any upcoming rain one hour before it hits within the next four hours would be perfect for my use.

Dark Sky was borne out of Kickstarter, reaching its funding level in November 2011 and debuting in the App Store in April. It’s is a universal app for both the iPhone and iPad and costs $3.99. It works only in the US at this time since it uses information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an American federal agency that monitors the oceans and atmosphere. If you’re in the US, it’s worth a buy to keep closer tabs on the weather as the summer vacation season winds down.

  • Weather

    Dark Sky - Weather Radar,...

    Last Changed:
    2 weeks ago
    4.00 (85)
    iOS Universal

    Dark Sky can tell you at a glance exactly when it will rain (or snow) up to an hour in advance, so you’re free to walk the dog or run out to lunch and know you’ll stay dry. You can also explore...

Round-up: Apps for London and the 2012 Summer Olympic Games

Friday, July 27th, 2012

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games kick off in London today and there are plenty of apps to help you stay on top of what’s going on from afar and even help you navigate the events and see the sights of London if you’re lucky enough to attend in person.

First, there are a few apps you should check out to catch live coverage of the events as they’re going on. As highlighted earlier this month, there’s the BBC Olympics app that will offer live video to those in the UK and detailed news and highlights for all other locations. For those in the US where NBC is the only network with the rights to broadcast Olympic coverage, check out the NBC Olympics Live Extra app.

While the NBC Olympics Live Extra app is free to download, it does require that you have a digital television service subscription with an affiliated provider, of which there are hundreds, and use those credentials to log in. The app’s description clearly states that the video you’ll have access to depends on your television service provider, so don’t be put off by the negative reviews from those who expected to see full coverage for free simply because the app is free.

  • Sports

    BBC Olympics

    Last Changed:
    37 months ago
    3.50 (15)
    iOS iPhone

    Never miss a moment of the London 2012 Olympics with the BBC Sport’s Olympics app. Direct coverage of the Olympics from the UK, this app will allow you to follow all the action, with daily live...

That’s it for this week here at AppShopper. If you’re in London to see the games, enjoy and don’t forget to mind the gap. 😉

Apple Releases Mountain Lion in the Mac App Store

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

As promised at the WWDC keynote event last month and stated in yesterday’s earnings announcement, Apple has released the next version of its Mac operating system, Mountain Lion, in the Mac App Store. Mountain Lion requires Mac OS 10.6.8 or higher to install as an upgrade and is priced at $19.99.

People are going to love the new features in Mountain Lion and how easy it is to download and install from the Mac App Store,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With iCloud integration, Mountain Lion is even easier to set up, and your important information stays up to date across all your devices so you can keep editing documents, taking notes, creating reminders, and continue conversations whether you started on a Mac, iPhone or iPad.

Mountain Lion contains over 200 new features along with updates to several existing core Mac apps and a few new ones. New features include voice dictation, AirPlay Mirroring, Notification Center, Twitter and Facebook integration, Game Center, and tighter iCloud integration to store and synchronize documents and data cross multiple devices.

Apple provides a high level overview of what’s new in Mountain Lion in this video:

If you’re on the fence about upgrading to Mountain Lion, here are links to some reviews to help you dig into the details a little more to see if it’s right for you:

Before you make the jump to Mountain Lion, you can check its compatibility with existing Mac apps with a handy list at RoaringApps which is updated regularly. Note that Mountain Lion requires a newer Mac and you can find a full list of the supported models on Apple’s site.

If you’ve already decided to get Mountain Lion and have multiple Macs to upgrade, you may want to create a bootable install drive of it so you won’t have to re-download Mountain Lion from the Mac App Store on each Mac individually and you’ll have repair tools at hand if something goes wrong with your hard drive. For instructions on how to create one, check out this Macworld article. Note that you should be sure to do this after downloading Mountain Lion but before installing it since the install files will delete themselves after the installation.

I’m in the process of downloading Mountain Lion now and it’s slow going since Apple’s servers are probably overloaded with others doing the same thing at the same time. I’m looking forward to the new Notes and Reminders apps that will synchronize with my iPhone and iPad and the replacement for iChat, Messages. If you have any questions about Mountain Lion, feel free to ask them in the comments. If enough questions are submitted, I’ll do a Q&A post next week.

  • $1999Buy Now

    OS X Mountain Lion

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    4.00 (60)
    Mac OS

    OS X Mountain Lion is the latest release of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system. Mountain Lion includes over 200 new features to update your Mac into the best computing experience...

iTranslate Voice HD Arrives for the iPad

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Sonico Mobile, the 5-person app development team based in Austria, is at it again and just released a version of its translation app, iTranslate Voice HD, for the iPad today. iTranslate Voice first debuted for the iPhone in May and has been a regular in the Top 200 paid apps in the Productivity category since then.

iTranslate Voice provides on-the-fly voice translations between 15 languages (plus regional variations and dialects of some of those languages) and eight more languages that can be translated through manual text input only. iTranslate Voice HD is exactly like the iPhone version in terms of functionality but has an interface optimized for the larger screen.

iTranslate Voice HD provides decent translations so you can converse, if a little haltingly, with someone who speaks another language. Like its sibling for the iPhone, it has difficulty with idiomatic expressions but is more than capable enough of helping you navigate a foreign land unless you manage to get yourself into some truly odd, Hangover-like situations.

iTranslate Voice requires an internet connection over Wi-Fi or 3G on any device to do its translation magic so keep this in mind if you’re traveling and subject to roaming charges from your wireless carrier.

I find the iPhone version to be a more compelling buy for traveling and using on the go while I envision the iPad version working well for more private interactions where two people can sit down together and both look at the screen. Overall iTranslate Voice is one of the better voice-to-voice translation apps I’ve seen to date and at just $.99 for each version, it’s easy on your wallet as well.

  • Productivity

    iTranslate Voice HD

    Last Changed:
    27 months ago
    4.00 (554)
    iOS iPad

    Instantly speak another language, voice-to-voice. ❃❃❃❃❃❃❃❃ Over 1.5 million sold ❃❃❃❃❃❃❃❃ ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ...

Save Money on Gas with GasBuddy for iPhone

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Today’s high gas prices may be putting a damper on your summer travel plans but there’s an easy way to find the cheapest gas around you thanks to, a website that compiles member-submitted gas price data in the US and Canada. has been around since 2000 and offers a free iPhone app so you can access the information on the go.

GasBuddy for the iPhone is a snap to use. When you first open it, you can opt to log in with an existing account if you have one or create one if you don’t. If you’d rather not log in or create an account, it’s no big deal and you can still use the app to find the cheapest gas prices. The app uses your iPhone’s GPS capabilities to find your current location and then shows you a list or map view of stations near you and their prices for the different grades of gas. You can also manually enter a location if you want to scope out prices in an area you’re planning on visiting.

You can sort the price information by price or distance from your location. Tapping on an entry will give you more details about the gas station and all the gas grades it offers. gets its price information from members who voluntarily submit data through the website or a smartphone app. As incentive, offers weekly drawings for $250 gas gift cards, for which members can earn tickets by submitting gas prices. So if you join, which is free, submitting gas prices earns you points and you can redeem these points for tickets to be entered in the weekly drawings. You can find more information on the weekly drawings here. Neat, huh?

  • Travel

    GasBuddy - Find Cheap Gas Prices

    Last Changed:
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    4.50 (191)
    iOS iPhone

    Find Cheap Gas Prices Join the more than 40 million drivers that are saving money every time they fill up by using GasBuddy. Share gas prices you see to win free gas and help others save money too!...

The official GasBuddy app is ad-supported and there is no way to remove these ads. If ads bother you, there’s another route to take to get’s information and enter prices on the go with the paid app Fuel Finder by Bottle Rocket. Fuel Finder used to be the official app until the site developed its own app a couple of years ago. I’ve been using Fuel Finder for several years now and find it to have a cleaner and more attractive interface than GasBuddy, in addition to the fact that it’s ad-free.

Fuel Finder offers some different features compared to GasBuddy, including a Favorites tab where you can add your favorite gas stations for quicker reference and an On Fumes tab to show you the nearest gas stations regardless of the age of any pricing data available.

The one significant feature that the official GasBuddy app offers members over Fuel Finder is the ability to convert earned points into tickets to enter the weekly drawings.

  • Travel

    GasBuddy - Find Cheap Gas Prices

    Last Changed:
    1 week ago
    4.50 (191)
    iOS iPhone

    Find Cheap Gas Prices Join the more than 40 million drivers that are saving money every time they fill up by using GasBuddy. Share gas prices you see to win free gas and help others save money too!...

So there you have it – two apps that can help you spend less money on gas (if you’re in the US or Canada) so you can spend more on your vacations this summer. Drive safely!

Localscope Helps You Discover What’s Around You

Friday, July 20th, 2012

If you’re traveling this summer, it could be a challenge to find restaurants and other businesses and learn what’s going on around you in an unfamiliar area. While there are plenty of navigation apps to help you find a specific location and the old stand-by Yelp to search for local businesses, few apps merge information from multiple sources to bring you a comprehensive view of everything available around you. For this, Cynapse’s location browser Localscope is an excellent choice.

Localscope uses your iPhone’s GPS capabilities to pinpoint where you are and show you information from 15 sources about the businesses and goings-on around you. These sources are Google Local, Google Places, Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Panoramio, Flickr, Picasa, Bing, Wikimapia, Wikipedia, Citysearch, and Yelp.

Localscope presents you with results from these sources in a gallery, list, map, or augmented reality view. The augmented reality view uses your iPhone’s camera and overlays information to mark results in real-time. If you choose the list or gallery views, the red arrow icon on each item actually points out its location in relation to you.

You select which source to view using a virtual slider at the bottom of the screen. When you view the details for a selected item, you can choose to share the location via text message, email, Twitter, or Facebook. Depending on the selected item, you can also jump directly to business listings in the Yelp app or to the YouTube app to see videos, and more.

Localscope also offers integration with several popular turn-by-turn navigation apps like TomTom and Navigon so you can get detailed directions to a chosen location.

Localscope also offers search functionality with several pre-defined search terms so you can easily locate restaurants, gas stations, hotels and even Wi-Fi hotspots without typing anything in.

Earlier this month Cynapse launched a Localscope API that other developers can use to launch Localscope directly to complete specific functions. In its recent update to version 2.5, Localscope gained compatibility with the URL scheme used by App Cubby’s Launch Center Pro to let you configure shortcut actions to launch discover mode or automatically complete a specific search.

Localscope works around the world so there are no location limitations to spoil your discovery of places and events to enjoy as you travel. The app costs $1.99 and requires iOS 4.3 or higher on an iPhone or iPod touch. Localscope also works on the iPad though it lacks an interface optimized for its larger screen.

  • Navigation

    Localscope - Find places and...

    Last Changed:
    22 weeks ago
    4.00 (20)
    iOS iPhone

    Location Browser for your iPhone Localscope is a window to your world that lets you explore your surroundings like never before. Discover and find places, people and information around you using...

Tango Video Calls for iPhone Gets Free Text Messaging

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Tango, a California-based start-up that was one of the first third-party developers to offer video calling on the iPhone, has released an update to Tango Video Calls that adds free text messaging to other Tango users.

Version 2.0.25906 (don’t you love it when developers use more than three significant figures to differentiate between versions?) hit the App Store yesterday and the full list of what’s new is as follows:

  • Send & receive FREE text messages with your Tango contacts – just tap the ‘Messages’ tab and start texting!
  • Share video messages and Tango Surprises in your text conversations
  • Tango Specials tab – find exclusive content to use in Tango video calls and text messages
  • Settings can now be accessed from the Tango contact list

Sending free text messages requires that both the sender and recipient have the latest version of the app, so you’ll want to remind your friends and family who use Tango to upgrade so you can take advantage of this new feature. Tango offers an easy way to do this with a prompt to upgrade sent via SMS when you try to send a text message to someone who hasn’t upgraded yet.

Text and video messages are combined in a conversation view in the Messages tab so you can easily follow your multimedia exchanges with others. While text messages sent through Tango aren’t standard SMS messages that count against your texting plan with your wireless carrier, they will use your data allotment, just as Tango video calls and video messages do when you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Tango’s last major update added video voicemails in December and the app remains a regular in the Top 200 free apps in the Social Networking category. Tango Video Calls is free to download and offers in-app purchases of Tango Surprises, which are animated effects to spice up your video calls and messages, and Tango eCards, which are prepared videos to express birthday, thank you, and other wishes.

Tango Video Calls is also available for Android devices and Windows phones and Windows-based PCs and Tango users on any platform can communicate with each other for free. Tango for Apple devices requires iOS 4.0 or later on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and 3rd- and 4th-generation iPod touch. Tango will also work on the iPad though it lacks an interface optimized for this device’s larger screen and video calls won’t be possible on the first-generation iPad, of course, since it lacks a camera.

  • Social Networking

    Tango - Free Video Call, Voice...

    Last Changed:
    6 days ago
    4.50 (92)
    iOS Universal

    Video chat, make free phone calls, send text messages, share pictures and post status updates with Tango, the award-winning free calling app. Connect with your family through high quality video and...

Currency Converter Banca Now Permanently Free (and Still Lovely)

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

The summer vacation season is still in full swing and if you’re taking your family abroad, doing some currency conversion on the fly is probably top of mind for you. While there’s no shortage of currency conversion apps available for the iPhone, Radiant Tap’s functional and lovely Banca recently went permanently free, which is the best price ever as I’ve said before, and is completely worthy of a place on your iPhone.

Banca’s main screen features two virtual ticker tape-style selectors at the top to choose the currencies for conversion along with a virtual number pad for data entry. By default, only a few currencies are available in these ticker tape selectors but more than 150 currencies can be added via the app’s settings (you can find a complete list here). Banca’s description states that all active (non-obsolete) currencies are available in the app and while I haven’t verified this independently, the more than 150 available should cover pretty much anywhere you plan to go.

Once you’ve edited the currency selectors to suit your needs, simply entering a price to convert using the virtual number pad will prompt the conversion output on the next line. This number pad also offers basic calculator functions to let you add up multiple prices easily. You can even switch currencies using the ticker tape selectors after you’ve entered a number or completed a calculation and the result will automatically update as different currencies are selected.

Banca will automatically download the most recent currency conversion rates each time it’s opened and you can also force an immediate update in the app’s settings.

Here’s a video of Banca in action:


Banca’s regular price peaked at $3.99 but it’s now free permanently according an update of a post on Radiant Tap’s blog earlier this month. If you’ve got any foreign travel planned in the near future, Banca should be on your iPhone.

  • Travel

    Banca currency converter

    Last Changed:
    6 weeks ago
    4.50 (59)
    iOS Universal

    An efficient, beautiful currency (exchange) converter, designed for iPhone / iPad, optimized for iOS 8. Supports ALL currencies in use all over the world! VIDEO: · ·...

Mint QuickView Personal Finance App Arrives for the Mac

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012, the subsidiary of Intuit that offers online personal finance tools and services, has released an app for the Mac. Mint QuickView debuted in the Mac App Store last week and offers easy desktop access to your financial information.

If you’re not familiar with, it’s a service that will aggregate all of your financial data from multiple institutions, such as your checking account at your bank plus your 401(k) account through your employer and all of your credit card accounts. Once you’ve set up all of your accounts with, the service gives you incredibly useful summary information to give you a snapshot of your current net cash position, spending, and more. You can also dig deeper to see transactions for each account and set up a budget, which will automatically track for you.

Here’s a short video that shows’s features:


Mint QuickView lives in your Mac’s menu bar and provides three chart views of your financial information: spending, net income, and accounts. The spending view shows all of your spending in the current month across various categories in a handy donut chart. The net income view shows a bar chart of your income and expenditures for the current month while the accounts view shows an aggregated bar chart of your cash, investments, and any debt you may have.

A scrollable transactions list for all of your accounts combined is available in each view. Below this section are notifications from to alert you of significant transactions and provide financial advice based on your spending. In case you were wondering, this is how makes money. While the service is completely free to use, the company earns commissions from companies when you use their services. For example, if you follow through on a alert link to switch to a new auto insurance company, earns money for that referral. However, promises that recommendations are unbiased and those that stand to save you the most money will be presented before those that earn the company a referral fee.

The menu bar icon for Mint QuickView will show a number when you have unread alerts or new transactions, much like the notification badges shown on the icons of iOS apps. In the app’s settings, you can set a passcode to protect your information from prying eyes and choose whether or not the app’s icon remains in your Mac’s dock or lives solely in the menu bar.

Mint QuickView for the Mac is free and available in the Mac App Store now. It’s also retina display ready for those of you with Apple’s latest MacBook Pro model. also offers a universal iOS app for the iPhone and iPad to provide access to the service while you’re on the go.

  • Finance

    Mint QuickView

    Last Changed:
    29 months ago
    4.00 (389)
    Mac OS

    ***Apple Mac App Store Best of 2012*** ***Apple Editors Choice July 2012*** ***NetBanker's OBR Best of the Web Award*** Mint QuickView is a companion app to that gives you an up-to-date...

If you’re like me, you may have an issue trusting a single online company with all of your financial data like this (you must log in to all of your financial accounts through so that the company can access your data to begin with). states that 128-bit SSL encryption is used when transmitting your data and its access is read-only, so no transactions can actually be carried out through boasts more than 7 million users and it’s been featured by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. I’ve been a user for a couple of years now and have had no problems with the service nor have any of my accounts been compromised during that time.

If you can get over this trust hump, I highly recommend In conjunction with Balance Forecasting on my iPhone to keep a close eye on my checking account and plan out future expenditures, provides an exceptionally easy way to keep an eye on my entire financial state from soup to nuts on my iOS devices and now on my Mac.