Posts Tagged ‘Recommended apps’

Clear for iPhone and iPad Goes Free for 24 Hours

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

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.

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AppShopper Picks: 2012 Apps of the Year

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Apple’s App Store continues to grow and a number of excellent apps debuted this year. While it’s impossible to look at every single new app, we did come across several stand-outs this year that deserve a place on our year-end list of the best apps.

If you’ve been following the AppShopper blog, you know that we tend to focus on apps that are well-designed and useful. We don’t look at fart apps or silly dating advice apps that will give you a few minutes of entertainment before you delete them off your iOS device or Mac. With that in mind, this list is cultivated from apps we’ve seen this year that have intuitive user interfaces and do what they’re meant to do very, very well. In short, if you have a need for apps in these categories, these apps are worth your money.


I’m a big sucker for productivity apps. If an app will help me get things done more quickly or more efficiently, I’m all for it. Bonus points if it’s fun to use at the same time. In 2012, there were several notable apps in this category that deserve mention. The first is Clear, a lists app created by Realmac Software, Impending, and Helftone that has a gesture-driven interface (look, ma, no buttons!) to create and navigate around your lists. The iPhone version was released in February 2012 (my review) and the Mac version was released in November 2012 (my review). If you have both a Mac and an iPhone, Clear will synchronize automatically between the two devices via iCloud. If you like to keep lists for groceries, tasks, or anything at all, Clear is our top pick for you this year.

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Though Siri can make it easier to create calendar appointments with natural language, sometimes speaking aloud to your phone isn’t always appropriate or practical. Also, what if you don’t have one of the newest iOS devices that supports Siri to begin with? This is where Fantastical by Flexibits comes in. Fantastical lets you use natural language to create calendar events, so you can just type (or dictate if you have dictation-capable iOS device) “Lunch with Susie at 4 on Saturday” to create an event, which takes far fewer steps than it normally would in the built-in Calendar app (or most other third-party calendar apps I’ve seen). To see it in action, check out the video in my review.

(A Mac version of Fantastical is also available and it isn’t technically on this list of 2012 Picks since it was released in 2011 but I use it daily and still recommend it.)

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Apple doesn’t make it easy for you to quickly toggle system settings or add shortcuts to make calls or complete other common tasks on an iPhone or iPad. If you’re a fan of jailbreaking, this isn’t an issue for you with all of the tweaks (like SBSettings) out there that let you get around this. However, if you’re running iOS 6 and unable to jailbreak your iPhone (at the time of this post, an untethered jailbreak method for newer devices running iOS 6 is not yet available), App Cubby’s Launch Center Pro should be front and center on your home screen. Launch Center Pro can act as an app launcher for your most-used apps and lets you set up shortcuts to complete actions in compatible apps (of which there are hundreds – the full list is here). Launch Center Pro has been useful enough to me to boot Safari from my iPhone’s dock and you can read how I have it set up here if you’re looking for ideas on how to use it.

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Though you could argue that it’s easy enough to just look outside to check the current conditions and a handful of weather apps to provide information you can’t glean from a glance out your window should suffice in the App Store, this message apparently hasn’t reached developers. There are thousands of weather apps in the App Store and it’s a tough crowd to stand out in. However, Jackadam’s Dark Sky managed to do something different in this category this year by offering precise precipitation predictions for your location. Dark Sky can alert you before it starts to rain or snow, allowing you to squeeze in that dog walk or finish up the yard work beforehand. While it’s not perfect in its predictions, I’ve found it to work very well (see my review) and it’s gotten me and my dog out of the house in time to enjoy a walk before downpours that would otherwise have kept us indoors all day.

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Social Networking

It seems that everyone is on Twitter or Facebook these days and the App Store is filled with apps to let you share anything and everything through these networks, making it another tough category to stand out in. However, The Iconfactory managed to shine with Twitterrific 5 for iPhone and iPad. The new Twitterrific has a gorgeous interface and plenty of features to make your Twitter experience a treat though it does lack push notifications, which could be a deal-breaker if you like to be notified of your Twitter mentions and direct messages as soon as they happen. Read my review for details and to see a video of Twitterrific 5 in action.

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An honorable mention in this category goes to Tweetbot for Mac. The iPhone version was released last year and it’s a regular in the Top 200 Paid Social Networking apps and the Mac version debuted in October 2012. While it’s every bit as functional and fun to use as its iOS counterpart, its $20 price tag keeps it off this list since there are several other options in the Mac App Store that cost less and are just as capable.


As you probably already know, we usually leave game coverage to our sister site, TouchArcade. However, I’d be remiss in failing to mention a couple of games that have stolen hours of my time in 2012. First is Loren Brichter’s Letterpress, a cooperative word game with Boggle overtones. In Letterpress, you fight your opponent for ownership of as many tiles in a 5-by-5 grid of letters by creating words. The tiles you claim by creating words become yours, which is denoted by the color of the tiles, though they can reclaimed by your opponent if you’re not careful. The player who has claimed the most tiles once all of the letters have been used wins the game. See the full review over at TouchArcade for a more detailed look at Letterpress.

Next is a game called 10000000 that combines tile matching with RPG elements that blew the mind of TouchArcade’s Editor-in-Chief Eli Hodapp and earned a 5-star review shortly after its release over the summer. I’ve played through 10000000 a total of three times now from beginning to end, using the acquisition of a new iOS device each time as an excuse to install it and start over again from the beginning. Check out the review and video over at TouchArcade and download it now – you won’t regret it.

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If you’re looking for more recommendations on the best games of 2012, check out the series of Best iPhone Games and Best iPad Games articles over at TouchArcade.

This last pick was admittedly driven by a little bias but since it’s free (and awesome), I hope you’ll forgive me. Our sister site TouchArcade released an app earlier this year so that you can have even easier access to its excellent editorial content covering the best in iOS games and its active forum. With push notifications, you can even be alerted right away when a game you’ve had your eye on is released or goes on sale. If you like to play games even casually on your iPhone or iPad, the TouchArcade app is a worthy download.

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That’s it for our 2012 picks. We look forward to what 2013 will bring to the App Store and sharing the best of what we find with you as always!

Getting Started with the iPad Mini

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

If you’ve got a shiny new iPad Mini in your hot little hands and you’re looking to load up on apps for it, you’ve come to the right place! Here at AppShopper, we offer a directory of all apps available in the US App Store (including Mac apps) plus a fantastic Wish List feature to let you track the apps you’d like to buy and notify you when paid apps on that list go on sale. Sounds awesome, right?

For an overview of how to use our Wish List feature, see this article. If you’re an extreme deal hunter, check out this article on how to find paid apps gone free. Yes, app developers do sometimes go a little nuts and make their paid apps completely free occasionally and you can ferret out those deals easily right here.

If this is your first iPad, there’s one resource you should definitely check out since Apple doesn’t include much in the way of documentation in the box: the iPad User Guide for iOS 6. This is Apple’s own user guide that will explain everything from soup to nuts about your new tablet in over 300 (!) virtual pages. Note that you’ll need Apple’s free iBooks app to read it.

If you want even more information on your iPad and its features, check out iMore’s guides to iCloud, Siri, Notification Center, and more here.

Now, what apps are absolutely essential to get started? Apple covers the basics with apps to let you check your email, manage your contacts and calendar, and watch videos you’ve purchased through the iTunes store, but there’s so much more you can do with your iPad.

First, staying in touch with family, friends, and even strangers through social networking is something you can do easily. The official Facebook app is a free download and while Twitter has its own free official app in the App Store, I’d recommend Tweetbot instead for a more enjoyable yet still full-featured Twitter experience.

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Compared to the iPhone, the iPad’s larger screen makes it a fantastic medium for web browsing and reading articles and there are few apps that take full advantage of this while also offering intuitive touch controls. Flipboard is one such app, letting you create your own custom digital magazine that pulls articles from your Twitter or Facebook feeds and other sources that you choose yourself. If you want to dive head-first into digital magazines and get away from the dead tree versions, check out Zinio, a company that sells digital subscriptions and offers a free app for you to access them in all their Technicolor glory on your iPad.

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Though you can’t make phone calls with an iPad out of the box (aside from video calls through Apple’s own FaceTime protocol), you can make VoIP and video calls with an internet connection and the help of third-party apps. Skype offers an iPad-specific version of its app to access its calling and messaging service and the Talkatone app offers free calling in conjunction with your Google Voice account and free texting for users in the US.

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If you’re going to use your new tablet to replace paper to capture class or meeting notes, you’ll need naught but a stylus (I recommend Adonit’s Jot Pro) and one of the many note-taking apps available. Noteshelf and the feature-packed Notetaker HD are both excellent choices with features like wrist protection (so you can rest your wrist on the iPad’s screen as you write without making any accidental marks) and the ability to let you customize the snot out of your virtual notebooks and paper.

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If you’re a movie addict or simply want to branch out beyond your existing movie collection, there are apps that offer free movie and TV show streaming. While the selections they offer don’t always include top-tier movies, it’s still not hard to find something you’ll enjoy. Check out Popcornflix and Crackle to get your movie streaming on. If music videos are more your thing, especially since MTV just ain’t what it used to be and rarely shows actual music videos these days, check out Vevo.

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Unlike the iPhone, Apple doesn’t include a weather app on the iPad out of the box but third-party developers have you covered here, as always. WeatherBug for iPad is my go-to app on my iPad to see the weather forecast and current radar while Weather HD is an eye-candy-filled option that’s just as functional.

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If you’re looking for games, I’d like to direct you to TouchArcade, our sister site that focuses exclusively on games for the iPad and iPhone. For today’s release of the iPad mini and the fourth-generation iPad, they’ve put together some spectacular lists to get you started:

Also, don’t forget to download the free AppShopper and TouchArcade apps so you can find those app deals and learn about the hottest games right from your iPad.

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A Quick Update on iPhone 5 Support in the Official AppShopper App

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

The iPhone 5 has been out for a little over a month now and developers have been updating their apps to add compatibility with this device’s larger screen ever since. We here at AppShopper are also trying to update our own official app but it’s taking a little more time than expected due to some changes in Apple’s app approval guidelines.

We don’t have a timeframe yet on when this update will be released, but we wanted you to be aware that we are working on it. I personally know how disappointing it can be to have a favorite app that doesn’t quite take advantage of the glorious 4-inch display of the iPhone 5 and I’m right there with you. As soon as we have more details on the timing to share, you’ll be the first to know.

In the meantime, the official AppShopper app still works to show you the latest price drops and updates and lets you add and remove apps from your Wish List despite this, so do get it if you haven’t already. The official app of our sister site, TouchArcade, which focuses on iOS games exclusively has gotten the iPhone 5 treatment already and is a great resource if you want to stay on top of the best and hottest iPhone and iPad games, so get that too if you haven’t already.

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Alternatives to Apple’s Maps App in iOS 6

Monday, September 24th, 2012

The Maps app in iOS 6 has been lambasted pretty thoroughly even in the short time it’s been available to the public for laughably incorrect data (check out this collection of screenshots for a good chuckle) to a simple lack of useful information compared to its predecessor. Though I’m not a betting woman, I’d still wager that Apple is already working on improving the data in Maps and it will get better over time. However, if you can’t wait for that and need reliable maps and voice-guided navigation right now, we’ve got a list of apps for you to consider.

The alternatives to Maps range in price from free to $20 or more. Generally the most significant difference between the apps that are free/low-cost and paid among these alternatives comes down to the map data and where it’s stored. The free or low-cost apps usually don’t store any map data in your iPhone and you’ll need a data connection as you travel to keep getting maps and guidance while many of the more expensive ($20 and higher) paid apps usually bundle the map data within the app so you don’t need a data connection to get directions as you travel.

Keeping that in mind, here are some good free and low-cost alternatives:

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When it comes to paid navigation apps, Navigon’s offering tops my list over the other apps I’ve tried by TomTom, iGo, CoPilot Live, and others but they are all good choices with similar feature sets, in most cases, and are perfectly capable of getting you from point A to point B.

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Now none of these apps are integrated into iOS 6 so you’ll always get dropped into the built-in Maps app when you tap on location links in Safari, Mail, Contacts, etc. So, you’ll need to copy the address, manually open your maps app of choice, and paste it in to search or generate directions.

So there you have it. If you feel like Apple left you out in the cold with inaccurate or unreliable data in Maps when you updated to iOS 6 or got your shiny new iPhone 5, there are plenty of other choices to get you where you need to go while Apple cracks the whip on the team responsible to get Maps up to snuff. If you want to help Apple improve Maps, you can find instructions on how to submit map data corrections here.

Getting Started With Your New iPhone 5

Friday, September 21st, 2012

iPhone 5 release day is here! If you’re waiting in line at a store or at home and anxiously listening for the telltale sounds of a delivery truck to get your new iPhone, we’ve got some tips and links to help you get started using your sleek new smartphone and get familiar with AppShopper and how we can help you save money on apps.

If you’re new to the iPhone, it might be helpful for you to get familiar with its controls and features and how to set it up. Macworld has a thorough overview of the physical aspects of the iPhone 5 from soup to nuts and instructions on how to set it up so you can get started using it.

If you’re new to the Apple ecosystem and are wondering what’s up with this iCloud thing or want to know exactly what Siri can do for you, see these ultimate guides from iMore:

Now a little more on what we do here at AppShopper. AppShopper is a directory of all iOS and Mac apps available in the US App Store. But we go well beyond what you can do with the App Store through iTunes on your computer or the App Store app on your iPhone with our Wish List feature. Once you create a (free!) account here, you can track apps that you want to buy and automatically get notified via email (or via push notifications from our own official iPhone and iPad app) when apps on your Wish List go on sale.

While many apps available cost just a dollar or two, there are several (think turn-by-turn navigation and password storage apps) that can cost upward of $20. Sometimes these apps go on sale at 50% or more off but knowing when they go on sale isn’t exactly easy unless you’re checking the App Store manually every day. This is where using our Wish List feature can help you save money year-round. It’s like extreme couponing without all the coupon cutting and standing in line.

For a complete overview of how to use our Wish List feature, read this article. And for tips on how to find paid apps gone free (yes, developers do go crazy and make their apps completely free every now and then), read this article.

Our official AppShopper app works on the iPhone and iPad (an update that adds an interface optimized for the iPhone 5 has been submitted to Apple for approval and should be available soon!) and is free to download. If you’re at all interested in loading up on apps, you should get it ASAP.

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Now on to some apps ready for the iPhone 5 right now. As we mentioned earlier this week, developers have been busy updating their apps for the iPhone 5’s larger screen and there are now more than 1,000 apps ready to dazzle your eyes on its retina display.

First, you can get your Facebook on with the official Facebook app. And while there’s a free official Twitter app, I’d recommend the excellent Tweetbot by Tapbots instead. If you need a turn-by-turn navigation app, Navigon is a great buy and now offers integration with Apple’s updated Maps app for public transportation directions as well. The iPhone’s built-in Camera app is quite capable though you can go a little further and create collages and add effects to your pictures with the popular Diptic by Peak Systems. If you want an easy way to stay on top of the delivery tracking status of your new iPhone, Junecloud’s lovely Delivery Status touch is a no brainer.

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We leave the coverage of iOS games to our sister site, TouchArcade and you can check out their recommendations on iPhone 5-ready games and learn about games that will be updated for the iPhone 5 soon and much more. TouchArcade also has its own official app (which will get the iPhone 5 treatment soon) and it’s a fabulous way to stay on top of the hottest iPhone gaming news and a source of excellent reviews.

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We here at AppShopper wish everyone a happy iPhone 5 day! May your UPS/FedEx delivery person be swift and your line-waiting experience be fraught with good company and nice weather!