27 FEB

Clear for iPhone and iPad Goes Free for 24 Hours

by Marianne Schultz

Clear for iOS 7 IconSince Apple doesn’t allow developers to charge additional money for app upgrades, their hands are tied when it comes to deciding how to handle significant changes to an app. Developers can either bite the bullet and just release an upgrade without earning any additional money from those who already purchased the app, or they can make it a completely new app such that even those who had purchased the old app now have to buy it again if they want it. Neither of these are great choices for developers who want to earn money for their time and effort and attempt to keep existing customers happy at the same time.


The original promo video for Clear

Realmac Software, one of the developers behind Clear, a gesture-driven list app released two years ago, ran up against this problem when updating Clear to add iPad support. At that time, Realmac released a new version, dubbed Clear+, so any existing users of the app had to buy it again to get iPad compatibility.

That decision didn’t sit well with those who had purchased the original version of Clear and Realmac is trying to make it right. As described in this letter, Realmac is making Clear free for two 24-hour periods. Realmac is going to return to a single, universal version of Clear and making it free allows those who purchased Clear+ to migrate to the original version, which will be the only one updated going forward, without paying again.

This the first 24-hour period when Clear will be free. It will go back up to $4.99 in the morning tomorrow, February 28, so click that Buy Now button below ASAP to get it for free.

Realmac will be offering Clear for free for 24 hours one more time in the near future, and we’ll let you know when that happens (you can also sign up to get notified via email directly from Realmac at the bottom of this page.)

Clear is still one of my most-used apps to hold my shopping and to do lists and it occupies a precious spot on the first home page of my iPhone. If you haven’t already tried it, now is an excellent time to give it a whirl.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/productivity/clear”]

08 JAN

See Who’s at Your Door with SkyBell for iPhone

by Marianne Schultz

skybell-iconI’m intrigued by devices that you let you accomplish tasks that normally require your presence through a smartphone from anywhere in the world. Like the Nest thermostat that lets you adjust the temperature in your home or the Scanomat TopBrewer coffee maker that can make a latte for you, all through your iPhone. So Skybell, a doorbell with a built-in camera that will let you see and speak to whomever is at your front door, caught my eye and its companion iPhone app is now available in the App Store.

The SkyBell Doorbell app can automatically notify you when the SkyBell doorbell device senses motion at your front door or if someone rings the doorbell. Through the app, you can hear or speak to anyone there or simply pull up the live video feed if you just want to see what’s going on. Here’s the promo video showing SkyBell in action:

Skybell was first publicized through Indiegogo last fall where its creators started a campaign to raise funds to manufacture it. The project easily surpassed its funding goal though it seems to be experiencing the manufacturing and delivery delays common to new products with crowd-sourced funding. However, the appearance of the SkyBell Doorbell companion app in Apple’s App Store is surely a welcome sign for those who have ordered the product.

The SkyBell Doorbell app is free and works only with the SkyBell smart doorbell, which will set you back $199 unless you managed to order a discounted one through the Indiegogo campaign last year. You can order a SkyBell doorbell directly from the SkyBell site or through Amazon. If you get one, let us know how it works!

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/utilities/skybell-doorbell”]

05 NOV

Unlock Your Mac by Knocking on Your iPhone with ‘Knock’

by Marianne Schultz

knock-ios-iconAre you tired of entering your password to unlock your Mac? Or do you even forego setting up a password for your Mac to avoid the hassle of unlocking it? If you’re like me and tend to carry your iPhone with you everywhere, developer Knock Software released today a unique solution to unlock your Mac using a simple gesture and your iPhone and doesn’t require you to touch your keyboard.

With Knock installed on your iPhone, along with the free companion app for your Mac, all you need to do is knock twice on your iPhone to unlock your Mac. Sounds crazy easy, right? It is and it does work. Here’s a cute promo video for it:

How does it work? The answer is through the magic of Bluetooth Low Energy, a Bluetooth protocol present in Apple’s newest Macs and iOS devices. Through Bluetooth and the Knock app, your Mac will recognize when your iPhone is nearby. When you knock on your iPhone, this signals to Knock to unlock your Mac and it enters your password on your behalf. It works even if your iPhone itself is locked and is in your purse or pocket.

Setting up Knock is easy and the apps will walk you through the process which takes a minute or two. Once you’ve got it set up, Knock will remain active in your Mac’s menu bar to detect your iPhone and enter your password when you knock on it.

Click to enlarge

Knock is similar to Keycard, a Mac app I reviewed that pairs with your iPhone via Bluetooth and automatically locks it when you (and your iPhone) get out of Bluetooth range and unlocks it when you get back to your Mac. However, Knock is different in one key way – you have to prompt it intentionally, whereas Keycard relies only on the proximity of your iPhone to your Mac, which could result in unintentional locking or unlocking.

To use Knock you’ll need both a newer Mac and iOS device that have a Bluetooth 4.0 radio. For guidance on which Macs will work, check out Knock Software’s FAQ.

You can get the Knock app for your Mac for free straight from Knock Software’s site and you can get the iPhone app, which costs $3.99, from the App Store through the link below.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/utilities/knock-–-unlock-your-mac-without-typing-a-thing-your-iphone-is-the-password”]

22 OCT

Apple Announces Fifth-Generation iPad and Retina Display iPad mini

by Marianne Schultz

iPadAir-iPadMini_34B2B_lock-blue_home-nebula-PRINT

At today’s media event, Apple announced the next generation models of its iPad and iPad mini tablets. The full-sized iPad is now called the iPad Air to recognize its thinner and lighter design compared to its predecessors and the iPad mini gets the higher resolution Retina display.

The full-sized iPad retains its 9.7-inch Retina display but gets a thinner casing at just 7.5 mm thick and weighing in at 1 lb. It will have Apple’s new 64-bit A7 processor, a 1.2-megapixel front-facing Facetime camera, and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera capable of recording 1080p HD video.

The iPad Air will come in two color combinations: silver/white and space gray/black. The new iPad Air will be available to ship and in Apple stores on November 1 and will start at $499 for the 16 GB model with Wi-Fi connectivity and $629 for the 16 GB model with Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity.

The new iPad mini revealed today gets a higher resolution Retina display and Apple’s new A7 processor as well. Like the iPad Air, it will also come in the white/silver and space gray/black color combinations. The 16GB iPad mini models will start at $399 for the Wi-Fi version and $529 for the Wi-Fi and LTE versions. Also like the iPad Air, the iPad mini will be available in capacities up to 128 GB.

The new iPad mini will be available for purchase in late November. The first-generation iPad mini will still be sold alongside the new models at a reduced price of $299 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi version and $429 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi and LTE version.

Apple also announced new information on the Mac Pro and changes to the MacBook Pro line and you can find more information at our sister site, MacRumors:

Mac Pro Launching in December with Xeon Processors, Dual FirePro GPUs and PCIe Flash Storage

Apple Updates Retina MacBook Pros With Updated Processors and Faster PCIe Flash Storage

If you’d like to see the video of the event yourself, it’s now available on Apples site here.

I’m excited to see a new iPad mini with a Retina display. I love my first-generation iPad mini and its only “fault” was its display compared to my iPad 3. However, that wasn’t enough to stop me from making it my go-to tablet for ebook reading and other tasks, leaving my iPad 3 to languish on a shelf for weeks at a time. Do you plan to get an iPad Air or new iPad mini?

22 OCT

Apple Releases OS X Mavericks Today as a Free Download

by Marianne Schultz

mac os mavericks iconAt its media event today, Apple announced that OS X Mavericks, the latest version of the Mac operating system first previewed at WWDC in June., will be available for download today in the Mac App Store for free. 

Mavericks is an incredible release, which introduces significant new apps and features, while also improving the performance and battery life of your Mac,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “We want every Mac user to experience the latest features, the most advanced technologies, and the strongest security. We believe the best way to do this is to begin a new era of personal computing software where OS upgrades are free.

Mavericks includes multiple features to improve battery life on Apple’s line of mobile computers as well as enhanced graphics handling, Finder capabilities, multi-monitor support, and more.

iBooks and Maps will come to the Mac in Mavericks and other existing apps have been redesigned and offer integration with iOS devices.

Previous versions of Apple’s Macintosh operating systems were priced at $29 in recent years and the change to $0 for Mavericks is a significant one for Apple. For additional information on the technical specs for Mavericks and compatible computer models, see this page.

[applink url=”https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id675248567?mt=12″]

15 OCT

Apple to Hold Media Event on October 22

by Marianne Schultz

Apple_oct_invite

Image courtesy of AllThingsD

As reported today by AllThingsD, Apple sent invitations to selected media outlets for an event to be held at 10:00 AM Pacific Time on October 22 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

The invitation states “We still have a lot to cover” and it’s widely expected that Apple will unveil new iPad models at this event. Mavericks, the next version of the Macintosh operating system that Apple first revealed in June should also get an official release date at the event and more information about the new Mac Pro models might be provided as well.

For an overview of all of the relevant rumors and everything known to date, check out these round-ups over at our sister site, MacRumors:

24 SEP

Find Apps Updated for iPhone 5s, iOS 7, and Game Controllers Easily on AppShopper

by Marianne Schultz

ios 7 iconWith the release of iOS 7 and the new iPhone 5s and 5c models last week, developers have been releasing updates to optimize their apps to take advantage of new features and technologies in each. If you upgraded to iOS 7 or got a shiny new iPhone, here are a few links you’ll find useful:

When iOS 7 was first revealed in June, Apple had announced that it would include support for game controllers made under the company’s MFi (Made for iPhone) program. These controllers are coming (Logitech will be releasing one and so will Clamcase) and some games have already been updated to work with Apple’s published specs for them. You can find them here.

All of these search links are live in that they reflect the most recent changes to apps as of the moment you click on them. They search the “what’s new” field in each app’s description so there is a margin of error there if a developer has mentioned any of these key words there but hasn’t actually updated their app accordingly, so heads up.

19 SEP

‘Clear’ Makes Its Way to iPad

by Marianne Schultz

Clear for iOS 7 IconRealmac Software has released a universal version of Clear, its lists app that first debuted for iPhone in early 2012, followed by a Mac version six months later. The new universal version of Clear has been redesigned for i0S 7 and includes some unique features for the iPad’s larger screen.

Clear features an icon, fonts, and interface aligned with iOS 7’s flatter style while still keeping the gestural navigation goodness it’s had from day one. On the iPad, the larger screen allows list names and their contents to be shown at the same time and you can drag and drop items from one list to another or even peek at the contents of another list by pulling down on the list name with two fingers.

Clear remains one of my favorite apps for shopping and to do lists and holds prime, front page real estate on my iPhone (and now on my iPad). If you’re looking for a full-on tasks lists with reminders, the ability to tag list items, sort them automatically, or other fancy stuff, you should look elsewhere. Clear is all about simplicity and straightforwardness in letting you create and edit lists quickly through a gorgeous interface.


Click to enlarge

The iPhone-only version of Clear is still in the App Store and costs $.99 so if you don’t have an iPad and don’t see one in your immediate future, it should do you just fine. If you have an iPad, I recommend you pony up the $2.99 for the new version since Clear handily uses iCloud to synchronize everything between all of your devices and it’s so nice to access your lists no matter what device you’re using at the moment. If you purchased Clear for iPhone previously, you may be feeling a little betrayed by the appearance of this separate app that you have to buy again but Realmac put a lot of work into it and it’s worth it (and probably less than your morning coffee, to boot).

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/productivity/clear-the-revolutionary-todo-app”]

18 SEP

Apple Releases iOS 7 With Redesigned Interface, iTunes Radio, Air Drop, and More

by Marianne Schultz

ios 7 iconAs announced at a press event earlier this month, Apple has released iOS 7 today as promised. The newest version of Apple’s operating system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, which was initially unveiled in June, rocks a “flat” design complete with a new color palette and typography as well as several new features.

The most notable new features include Control Center, a panel full of shortcuts to frequently-used controls like Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth toggles, a revamped multi-tasking interface, and an improved Notification Center. Air Drop, a Wi-Fi sharing feature that allows you to send pictures and files to other iOS devices quickly, also debuts in iOS 7. iTunes Radio comes to the Music app to let you stream music on demand from the iTunes Store (and if you’re an iTunes Match subscriber, you don’t get subjected to any commercials).

All of the apps that come on every iOS device out-of-the-box also got the overhaul treatment. Camera gets live filters and cropping and format options while Safari gets the ability to show unlimited tabs (yay!). Photos now groups captured pictures into collections, leveraging date and location information to organize your photos for easier access.

iOS 7 reviews started popping up all over the web yesterday evening and here are a few of the most comprehensive and informative ones I’ve seen so far:

The embargo on the new iPhone 5s also dropped and there are many reviews available now to help you make up your mind if you’re considering buying one. The most comprehensive one I’ve seen, which dives deep into processor technology and performance, is over at AnandTech. Of course, many of the major technology publications and journalists have weighed in, including Walt Mossberg for All Things D, Ed Baig for USA Today, and Engadget. For links to reviews of the lower-cost sibling to the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 5c, see this post over at MacRumors.

If you’re looking to update to iOS 7 today, know that Apple’s servers will probably be under heavy load with everyone and their mother trying to do the same thing  so you may want to wait a little while before diving in. Whenever you decide to upgrade, this handy guide over at Macworld will walk you through everything you should know and do before upgrading.

If you plan to upgrade your iOS device using your computer, note that you’ll need iTunes 11.1 first, so go download it from Apple’s site now (or use the Check for Updates menu option in iTunes).

17 SEP

‘Perfect Weather’ Aims to be Your Favorite iPhone Weather App

by Marianne Schultz

perfect-weather-iconContrast, the maker of one of my all-time favorite and most-used apps, Launch Center Pro, has released Perfect Weather, a––you guessed it–– weather app for iPhone. Perfect Weather hit the App Store this morning and costs $2.99.

If you check out the App Store’s Weather category, you’ll find hundreds of iPhone and iPad apps with the goal of telling you what the weather’s like. Some give you painstaking detail while others give you a bare minimum of information but look really pretty while doing it and there’s bound to be one already available that tickles your fancy. So why do developers keep making new weather apps given the hundreds already available? Contrast’s founder, David Barnard, answered this very question in the press kit for Perfect Weather:

With hundreds of weather apps crowding the App Store, why build another? Because I live in Texas! Most weather apps cater to the idyllic climate in Silicon Valley. I needed something different, so I enlisted the help of a couple friends and built my perfect weather app.

In places like Texas, where big thunderstorms and surprise rain showers are common, the current temperature is often immaterial. We came up with a split view that makes it easy to check the forecast and weather map at a glance. And to get me through the hot Texas summers, we built an interactive temperature chart that gives the time of the high and low temperature as well as the hourly forecast.

Like Apple’s own Weather app, Perfect Weather can save multiple locations so you can easily access weather information for several US cities. On a city’s page, you can see a lot of information at a single glance, including the predicted high and low temperatures for today and the chance of precipitation, the weekly forecast, and even a radar view showing cloud cover or rain. Also shown is a graph that displays the temperature variations for the current day, which you can slide your finger along to see the predicted temperature for a specific time, much like Weathertron. Swiping to the left on this graph reveals even more information like humidity, pressure, and sunrise and sunset times.


Click to enlarge

Swiping up on the information tab reveals more of the radar map, where you can choose to view rain or cloud cover and activate animation to show how each is moving across the area. Tapping on the lightning symbol in the top left corner reveals any NOAA weather alerts.

Here’s a promotional video showing Perfect Weather in action:

I’ve lost count of how many weather apps I’ve tried since the App Store opened in 2008, which means that my iPhone weather app needs are more complex than I ever expected. After trying out Perfect Weather for several days now, I find it to be only just shy of perfect for my needs. The two bits of weather information I want most often are the current temperature (to gauge immediate dog walking conditions and how to dress accordingly) and the forecast for the next week. Those are easy to see with Perfect Weather but I’ve gotten used to one feature it doesn’t offer but ITWC Association’s Fahrenheit does: a push notification badge that shows the current temperature on the iPhone’s home screen. Call me lazy, but it’s incredibly useful for me to be able to see this at a glance without even needing to open an app.

Your weather app needs are probably different than mine and if you’re looking for all of the basic weather information that’s easy to see at a quick glance and the ability to dive deeper to see radar information and NOAA weather alerts, I recommend Perfect Weather. If it doesn’t meet every single one of your needs, it will probably meet most.

[applink url=”http://appshopper.com/weather/perfect-weather-noaa-radar-and-forecast”]