Archive for August, 2012

Fantastical for Mac on Sale for 50% Off

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Fantastical, the calendar assistant app created by Flexibits, is now on sale for $9.99, 50% off its regular price of $19.99. Fantastical debuted in the Mac App Store in May 2011 and has been a regular in the Top 200 Paid Productivity apps for the Mac recently.

Fantastical is a utility that lives in your Mac’s menu bar and lets you create new and edit existing events and reminders with natural language. You can find an overview video that Flexibits created here on YouTube (embedding is disabled so I can’t include it in this post, unfortunately).

Flexibits has updated Fantastical regularly since its release to fix bugs and add several new features. In recent updates, Fantastical got support for Mountain Lion and its new Reminders app, upgraded graphics for the Retina MacBook Pro, improved search functionality, and more.

I’ve been using Fantastical since it was released and love it. Even though I work from home and my schedule is never really crazy, it’s my preferred method for entering new items into iCal (or Calendar for those of you who have upgraded to Mountain Lion).

This back-to-school sale is only for a limited time so go get it now before the price goes back up.

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    Fantastical - Calendar and...

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    ** IMPORTANT: Fantastical 2 is an all-new app coming on 3/25 and will only support OS X Yosemite. If you have OS X Yosemite, please do not buy this app and instead check back on 3/25. ** Presenting...

Moleskine Releases iPad App, Announces Digital Notebook Collaboration with Evernote

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Moleskine, the Italian maker of notebooks and related accessories, has released Moleskine Journal for the iPad, a note-taking app featuring virtual notebooks in the company’s iconic style. The app hit the App Store earlier this week and is free to download. Moleskine Journal replaces the universal Moleskine app that debuted in April 2011, which will be removed from the App Store on September 1, 2012.

The features of Moleskine Journal include the following:

  • Signature Inner Pocket to store favorite images and text. Includes image import and access to the built-in camera
  • Portrait and landscape modes, with double-spread view unique to Moleskine Journal
  • Classic Moleskine paper selection—plain, ruled, squared—plus templates from the popular Weekly Planner, Passion Recipe Journal and Storyboard Notebook
  • Artist toolset (paintbrush, Moleskine pencil, Moleskine pen, highlighter), all with size control and full-spectrum color picker available on-the-fly
  • Fully-featured color picker gives full artistic control, with value slide, opacity slide, custom swatch library and Moleskine’s cream-color paper background for easier color selection
  • Text tool with all iOS-available fonts, color picker, opacity and size control on-the-fly
  • Classic Moleskine ribbon bookmark
  • Multiple undo and redo
  • Easy image import from your photo library or take new photos with the built-in camera
  • Easy project sharing via email, Facebook and Twitter
  • Easy sync to Evernote and backup to Dropbox
  • Unlimited page-adding capability—never run out of room.
  • View entire journal at once in an editable page thumbnails view
  • Fully editable library in thumbnail and list mode
  • Unlimited journal creation capability—make as many journals as you like!
  • Intuitive Apple iOS gestures such as pinch and spread, 2-finger scroll and page flip

The app’s description promises new features in future updates, including wrist protection, a feature that is essential in digital note-taking apps on a device with a large screen like the iPad.

The downside with this new app is that it removes iPhone and iPod touch compatibility, which is present in the original and soon-to-be-removed Moleskine app. However I’d be willing to be that there weren’t too many folks out there looking to take extensive hand-written notes on an iPhone or iPod touch, so this loss may not be a big deal to most.

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    Moleskine Journal

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    Your best ideas everywhere - Moleskine journals, re-imagined for limitless creativity, productivity and passion. The look and feel are classic Moleskine; the digital capabilities are inspiring....

Moleskine also announced earlier this week a collaboration with Evernote, the California-based company that provides services and tools to save and archive notes, and the upcoming release of a new line of notebooks designed to work with the Evernote iPhone and iPad app. The Evernote Digital Notebooks, which are now available for pre-order in various sizes, will feature special page styles with dotted lines to assist in image alignment and capture with the Evernote app. The notebooks will also come with “smart” stickers to be used as tags that will be recognized automatically by Evernote and digitally searchable. Each Evernote Digital Notebook will come with three free months of Evernote Premium service, which normally costs $5.00 per month or $45.00 per year.

This promotional video highlights the features of the new notebooks:


I know people who swear by the Evernote service but it’s one that I’ve never been able to really get into. However, I do use Moleskine notebooks to capture my lists and thoughts and may give it another shot with one of these new notebooks. With or without the notebooks, Evernote’s service and iPhone app could be useful if you’re a student or busy professional.

  • Productivity

    Moleskine Journal

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    iOS Universal

    Your best ideas everywhere - Moleskine journals, re-imagined for limitless creativity, productivity and passion. The look and feel are classic Moleskine; the digital capabilities are inspiring....

Quickipedia Offers Streamlined Wikipedia Access on the Mac

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Although Wikipedia doesn’t come close to Encyclopaedia Brittanica accuracy and reliability levels, it can still be a good place to start when kicking off research for a school project or to satisfy a need to delve into the traits of fainting goats to break the monotony of work. Of course you can browse Wikipedia freely and easily through any web browser but developer Arvindh Sukumar’s Quickipedia offers a more streamlined (and more covert, for those of you with observant bosses or co-workers) way to browse the Free Encyclopedia in a stand-alone app on your Mac.

Quickipedia is a lightweight Mac app that provides access to five language editions of Wikipedia: English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian. You can get to it via a shortcut button that lives in your Mac’s menu bar or by a keyboard shortcut that you designate and save in the app’s Preferences menu. Its interface is a single window with a search field in the top right corner and navigation buttons at the top to quickly go backward and forward through articles you’ve browsed and jump to sections in the current article you’re viewing.

Click the images to see larger versions

Plus and minus buttons in the bottom left corner let you adjust text size and a random page button in the bottom right will show you a random entry in Wikipedia to assist you in quenching your thirst for arbitrary bits of knowledge.

Instapaper and Pocket integration are also on the list of Quickipedia’s features so you can save articles for perusing later using your preferred read-it-later service.

One of the more handy features of Quickipedia is its integration with Mac OS X that allows you to look up any word in any app in Wikipedia through the Services contextual menu (accessed via right-clicking or pressing the Control button while clicking), saving you from the need to even type anything to search Wikipedia.

If you browse Wikipedia often or simply like to keep the number of browser tabs you have open to a minimum as you do your research, Quickipedia is a compact app that provides an efficient way to access Wikipedia. The app debuted in the Mac App Store late last week, costs $1.99, and requires OS 10.7 or later on a Mac with a 64-bit processor.

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    Quickipedia - Minimalistic...

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    Quickipedia is Wikipedia at its minimal best. Read Wikipedia in a beautiful, unobtrusive client only on your Mac. Whether you want a quick peek at an article, or have fun reading random articles,...

Facebook Releases New and Improved App (Finally)

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Facebook has long been criticized for its slow and clunky iPhone and iPad app with a slew of negative reviews (more than 480,000 1-star and 2-star reviews at the time of this post) in the App Store. It was revealed earlier this summer that Facebook was working on rewriting the app from the ground up, moving away from the use of HTML-5 entirely to an app written completely in Objective-C. This rewritten version of the Facebook iPhone and iPad app is now available in the App Store.

Here’s the full text of what’s new in version 5.0:

We’ve rebuilt the app so it’s faster and easier to use.
* Scrolling through news feed is faster than ever
* New banner lets you tap to quickly see more stories – no need to refresh
* Photos open fast and close with one downward swipe
* Instant access to your notifications

I’m not a huge Facebook user but I had always been frustrated with how slow and unresponsive the app was on my iPhone. So far, the new version is indeed more responsive and less frustrating to use. Now I can see pictures of the meals eaten by high school classmates I haven’t seen in years and endless “like if you agree” pictures that I don’t give a damn about without any annoying delays or odd blank screens.

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    Keeping up with friends is faster than ever. • See what friends are up to • Share updates, photos and videos • Get notified when friends like and comment on your posts • Text, chat and have...

Ultralingua Revamps Dictionary App for iPhone and iPad

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Ultralingua, the software maker focused on language reference applications, has released a new app that offers several dictionaries for a number of languages via in-app purchase. The new Ultralingua Dictionary is intended to replace its stand-alone offerings that are still available for purchase, many of which debuted in the early days of the App Store in 2008.

Ultralingua Dictionary features improved search, built-in verb conjugation, the ability to change the font and font size, and more compared to the company’s previous apps. Ultralingua released the following brief video as a teaser of the new features earlier this month:

Ultralingua Dictionary is free to download and lets you sample small sections of all of the available titles. At the time of this post, there are 19 titles available for purchase including an English dictionary, English thesaurus and dictionaries for French, Spanish, German, Italian, and more. Regular pricing will range from $10 to $20 for each though Ultralingua has put all titles on sale at 50% off to celebrate the launch and give those who had previously purchased other Ultralingua apps a less expensive way to get the same dictionaries in the new app at a reduced price. This special ends today so you should make your in-app purchase sooner rather than later.

I purchased Ultralingua’s French-English dictionary for $19.99 a couple of years ago and it’s been a great reference. While Ultralingua promises that the old apps will remain in the App Store and will continue to receive bug fixes as needed, all new development efforts will go into the revamped Ultralingua Dictionary. Though you’re not required to upgrade to the new app if you purchased on of the previous ones, it may sting a little to essentially repurchase the same content again in the new app if you want to be able to use the new features.

The most tempting reason for me to go ahead and buy the French-English dictionary again in Ultralingua Dictionary is the improved search function that doesn’t require you to specify the language first before trying to search, a requirement in the old app. I’m still figuring out if that’s worth another $9.00 on top of the $19.99 I paid for the old app though my gut is saying no for the moment. The reviews in the App Store are pretty negative right now from other users who feel a little jilted regarding the new features in relation to their previous purchases of Ultralingua’s stand-alone apps. However, Ultralingua’s hands are a little tied here since Apple doesn’t offer a way for developers to credit customers or transfer previous purchases in situations like these.

Ultralingua makes quality content that’s used by several publishers, government agencies, and even Apple itself. You can’t go wrong with Ultralingua Dictionary if you need a comprehensive dictionary for another language for school or personal reference, especially given the current 50% off sale for the titles available via in-app purchase.

  • Reference

    Ultralingua Dictionary Bookshelf

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    ** Updated for iOS 8 ** [If the app is crashing, try deleting and reinstalling it. Please contact us at for help.] The best dictionary app on the App Store. 35+ titles to...

30/30 Gets iCloud Syncing, Multiple Lists, and More

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Binary Hammer’s gorgeous timer app, 30/30, received a major update last week that adds several new features. 30/30 first debuted in June and immediately struck me as a well-designed app that can help you document your desired schedule and stay on track to get things done. In response to user feedback Binary Hammer has added several new features, including the ability to sync lists across multiple devices using iCloud and the capacity to save multiple lists.

The full text of what’s new in version 2.0 is as follows:

You asked for new features, and we delivered. You can now:

  • Create multiple lists.
  • Sync your devices with iCloud.
  • Use any of the 27 new alert sounds.
  • Have access to up to 72 new icons via IAP.
  • You can now specify seconds in your tasks; from 1 second all the way up to 9 hours per task. Changing the duration is now very easy and very accurate.
  • Be notified that tasks are complete even if the app is in the background.


  • Deleting tasks has been refined and includes a built-in confirmation.
  • New -/+ buttons on each side of the dial temporarily add or subtract time to the current task.
  • You can easily share your lists with others.
  • You can now launch the app with the 3030:// URL scheme.
  • More gestures allow you to quickly and effortlessly use the new features.
  • More options to help you get more information from your list.
  • Bug fixes to improve stability and fix cosmetic issues.

The ability to create multiple lists can be particularly handy if you want to create schedules for individual days so you can document your entire week to accommodate classes on different days or regular changes in your work schedule. The addition of new icons available via in-app purchase at $.99 for each themed pack or $1.99 for all three packs together is a cute touch and expands your options for tagging the items in your lists. The alert sounds available are the standard ones offered in iOS, which is a bit of a bummer since it would be nice to get some custom sounds that suit 30/30’s overall design and feel.

30/30 remains free with the option for you to express your thanks monetarily via in-app purchase for $.99, $1.99, or $2.99 and it’s still a recommended download if you’re looking for an app to help you stay on schedule to get work done.

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    You have never experienced a task manager like this! Simple. Attractive. Useful. 30/30 helps you get stuff done! You set up a list of tasks, and a length of time for each of them. When you start...

Dunkin’ Donuts Mobile Payment App Arrives for iPhone

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Dunkin’ Donuts, the restaurant chain focused on coffee and breakfast delights, released an iPhone app yesterday that lets you make purchases using the app at participating stores in the US. The Dunkin’ Donuts app also lets you locate restaurants, browse the menu of food and beverages available, and send gift certificates to others via text message, email, or Facebook.

With this app, Dunkin’ Donuts, which had more than 7,000 restaurants in the US at the end of 2011 and serves more than 3 million customers every day, finally goes toe-to-toe with competitor Starbucks which released its own mobile payments iPhone app nearly three years go.

As with the Starbucks app, you need to be enrolled in Dunkin’ Donuts’ free rewards program and have a reloadable “DD” gift card associated with your account. Once a card with available funds is associated with your account, you can access it within the app and flip the virtual card to reveal a barcode that can be scanned by the cashier to pay for your purchase.

Dunkin’ Donuts is free to download and requires iOS 4.3 or higher and works on the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, 3rd-generation and higher iPod touch, and all iPad models (though it lacks an interface optimized for the iPad’s larger screen).

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    It’s here! The official Dunkin’ Donuts® Mobile App. Not only is it built to make all your Dunkin’ runs easier, it’ll also get you connected so you can share the Dunkin’ love like never...

(Yes, I know I said before that we’re focusing on back-to-school apps this month but coffee can help increase energy levels and productivity, right? Though I didn’t pick up my own 1-cup-each-morning coffee habit until after college since I was not aware of its magical qualities at that time, I’m sure that many current college students rely on it.)

College Packing List for iPhone Helps You Get Organized for Life Away from Home

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Packing to go away to college can be stressful and fraught with opportunities to forget something that can make surviving your time away from home difficult, particularly when it comes to expensive or unique items that can’t be easily replaced. To help you make sure you’ve got everything you need before you head away to college, SlugBooks has created College Packing List for the iPhone, an app with pre-filled checklists of common items you’ll need plus the ability to customize the lists to suit your needs.

College Packing List contains lists in several categories (dorm, kitchen, class, bathroom, clothes, and miscellaneous) with most categories offering subcategories as well to further break down the lists into more manageable chunks. Common items already populate the available lists so you won’t need to wrack your brain to add basic things like sheets, towels, an alarm clock and other essentials to your list before you can even get started. Most of the pre-entered items also have descriptions that provide more information to give tips on sizes and quantities.

As you mark items you’ve packed, the virtual chalkboard at the bottom of the screen gives you an idea of how far you have to go by telling you the percentage of items you’ve checked off.

If you find the lists aren’t comprehensive enough for you or if you have some unique items you want to be sure to include, every list is editable so you can add and remove items as needed. College Packing List also offers settings to let you re-use the app for the next school year by unchecking all items or resetting all lists to their default entries.

College Packing List is free, requires iOS 4.3 or higher, and works on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. If you don’t have an iOS device, you can also use the company’s web version here (this is a stand-alone site that does not sync with the iOS version).

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    College Packing List

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    UPDATE!!! College Packing List will be FREE for everyone for the rest of the summer. Enjoy! Use College Packing List to avoid a stress free moving day - you don't want to forget anything....

Dark Sky for iPhone and iPad Gets Push Notifications to Alert You of Impending Rain

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Though our focus is on back-to-school apps this month, I wanted to post a quick bit of news on an app we featured in July, Dark Sky, since it received a couple of key new features this week in an update. Dark Sky, which aims to offer more precise weather predictions for your exact location, can now give push notification alerts to let you know when it’s going to rain 15 minutes in advance and provides a radar view for the entire continental US.

The full list of what’s new in version 2.0.0 is as follows:

  • Push Notifications. We’ll warn you before it rains! (still a bit experimental)
  • National radar view. See all the storms in the country at once (amazing on the iPad)
  • VoiceOver support for improved accessibility
  • Better icon!
  • Added the darksky://your%20location protocol for integration with third-party apps (e.g. Launch Center Pro), and link sharing
  • Touch-and-hold on the map to change your forecast location
  • A whole bucketful of bug fixes and performance improvements
  • Ability to turn off “Clear Skies Are Boring” message
  • Increased app version number by more than 51.5%!

A new toggle in the top right corner is where you can access the push notification settings to choose to turn on alerts, designate “do not disturb” hours so you can avoid interruptions during work or sleeping hours, and select the precipitation notification threshold.

In a blog post about the 2.0.0 update, Dark Sky’s developers describe that the alert feature is really still in beta and they’re asking for feedback if it doesn’t work the way you’d expect. A follow-up post today provides some answers to concerns they’ve heard from users about privacy and battery consumption. They’ve clarified that Dark Sky uses a less power-hungry mode, cell tower triangulation, to determine your location when the app is not active and that no information that can identify you to anyone other than Apple is transmitted with your location information.

The new alert feature was the main item on my wish list for a future update when I first looked at Dark Sky and it’s nice to see it implemented. Dark Sky still won’t replace Fahrenheit as my go-to weather app on my iPhone since it lacks more comprehensive forecast information but it’s getting there.

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    Dark Sky - Weather Radar,...

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    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...

TextbookMe for iPhone Helps You Find Textbooks on the Cheap

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

The fact that textbooks cost a fortune is right up there with death and taxes as certainties everyone will face in life. I remember getting a good case of sticker shock at the start of every semester at old Big Red as I cruised the campus store in search of the textbooks that would, in most cases, bore me to tears over the following several months. Then, I didn’t have much of a choice in what I paid for my textbooks but TextbookLand has aimed to change that and now offers an iPhone app, TextbookMe, so you can find the cheapest textbook prices on the go.

TextbookLand was founded by some college students in 1999 with the goal of making it easier to find the best prices for textbooks online. The company doesn’t sell any textbooks itself but simply offers a search service that pulls information from multiple online stores and offers direct links to make purchases. At the end of the semester, you can even use TextbookLand to sell your used textbooks back to a store and get the best price for it (to do this on the iPhone, you’ll need the company’s other app, BookBuyBack).

TextbookMe is pretty straightforward to use, allowing you to search for textbooks manually by entering the title, author, or ISBN, or scan a book’s barcode using the iPhone’s camera. That last method can be a wallet-saver as you shop in your college’s bookstore if you find a cheaper price online and can wait for the textbook to get shipped to you.

Search results include offerings from a variety of stores including Amazon, Half, Barnes & Noble, eCampus, and many more. Each listing will indicate if the textbook available is used or new and its price, and offer a link to let you go right to that online store to buy it via Safari.

TextbookMe’s interface isn’t all that polished and the search results can be a little slow to load but the app is free and could help you save a nice chunk of change as you prepare to fill your mind with knowledge at the educational institution of your choice this year.

  • Reference

    TextbookMe - The Cheap Textbook...

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    iOS iPhone

    TextbookMe lets your compare textbook prices at all the online stores so you can find the lowest price in seconds. Simply search by ISBN, title or author to find the book you want, then click the...