Posts Tagged ‘Utilities’

See Who’s at Your Door with SkyBell for iPhone

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

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=””]

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

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

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.

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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=”–-unlock-your-mac-without-typing-a-thing-your-iphone-is-the-password”]

‘AppShopper Social’ for iPhone Updated to Show Friends’ App Lists

Monday, August 12th, 2013

appshopper social iconOur own official app here at AppShopper got an update on Friday to fix a few bugs and add a much-requested feature: the ability to view your friends’ app lists. Previously, you could add new friends and see their apps in your Stream but there was no way to separately view the apps of a specific friend. But now you can tap on a friend’s name in the Friends tab and you’ll see the apps he or she already has or has added to their Wish List.

You can apply filters and sort your friends’ lists as well and add any apps to your own Wish List or mark them as owned.

If you add me (my AppShopper user name is Marianne), here’s what my profile looks like:

AS social profile

If you haven’t tried AppShopper Social yet, you can use it to track apps you want to buy and get notified when they go on sale, just like you can here through the AppShopper website. For an overview of how our handy dandy Wish List feature works, read this article.

We’ve got more features and updates planned for AppShopper Social so stay tuned. If you like our app, please consider leaving us a review in the App Store and if you have any technical issues or feature requests, please submit them through this contact form.

[applink url=””]

‘AppShopper Social’ Updated with Sharing and Bug Fixes

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

appshopper social iconVersion 1.0.1 of our own official app, AppShopper Social, has just hit the App Store. This update includes fixes for sharing via Facebook and email, a crashing issue for iPad users running iOS 5, performance issues for iPhone 4 users, and other bug fixes.

AppShopper Social first debuted in the App Store in April after Apple had removed the original AppShopper app last year due to a conflict with some new App Store rules. The release of this 1.0.1 update to fix some glaring problems was delayed thanks to some issues out of our control but we hope that those are behind us now and look forward to releasing future updates with additional fixes and new features more regularly in the future.

Still on our list is a universal version to add iPad compatibility. Also, we still plan to add the ability to view your friends’ lists and easier methods to discover new friends and their recommended apps.

Of course, AppShopper Social is still free to download and will automatically notify you when apps on your Wish List go on sale (see this article for an overview of how to use our Wish List feature). Following the user appshopper will show you the most popular apps among our users as well as apps featured on our blog.

(If you’re looking for new friends, my AppShopper user name is Marianne and the site’s founder’s user name is arn. Our sister sites are under the user names macrumors and toucharcade.)

If you like AppShopper, please recommend AppShopper Social to your friends to help support future updates and new features.

[applink url=””]

‘Clever Lotto’ for iPhone Keeps You on Top of Powerball and Mega Millions

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Though the recent record-setting Powerball jackpot of nearly $600 million has been won by some incredibly lucky person in Florida, another jackpot is already building. And if you’re a regular player or you only buy a ticket when the jackpots are big, Formigas’s Clever Lotto for iPhone will keep your numbers straight and alert you when there’s a significant pile of money to be won.

Clever Lotto focuses on the Mega Millions and Powerball lotteries available in the US. The app will show you the current jackpots for each lottery and the most recent winning numbers. You can also keep track of your own tickets by entering the numbers you’ve played and if you win, Clever Lotto will even send you a push notification to you alert you.

Clever Lotto shows you the total amount you’ve spent on tickets, how much you’ve won, and other assorted statistics as well. It even shows you statistics about the winning lottery numbers, displaying how often each number has been drawn over time if that’s something you like to consider as you make your ticket selections.

I’m the type of person who buys a lottery ticket only when the jackpot is large enough to make the evening news (I try to play one set of the same numbers each time and let the computer pick the rest) but Clever Lotto has still been useful for me, a once-in-a-blue-moon player. If you missed trying your luck with this last jackpot and don’t want to miss the next big one, Clever Lotto is worth a download. It’s $2.99 but if it helps you win thousands or millions in the lottery, it’s totally worth it, right? All you need is a dollar $2.99 and a dream and all that jazz.

[applink url=””]

‘Keycard’ Locks Your Mac When Your iPhone Goes Out of Range

Monday, January 7th, 2013

If you’ve ever wanted a quick way to ensure that others can’t use your Mac when you step away from it and you’re the type of person to keep your iPhone with you wherever you go, developer Appuous has a solution for you with its new Mac app, Keycard.

Keycard is a tiny app that lives in your Mac’s menu bar (you can opt to keep its icon in your dock while it’s running as well) that locks your Mac when a paired Bluetooth device goes out of range. Once you and your device get back into range, Keycard will unlock your Mac automatically.

To use Keycard, you must first pair it with an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad (Appuous states that it will work with almost any other Bluetooth device as well though I’ve only used it with an iPhone and iPad mini). The pairing process with Keycard is not as involved as with a headset, speaker, or most other devices since all Keycard does is detect the device, log its identifier, and keep track of its Bluetooth signal so the Bluetooth indicator on your iOS device won’t light up to indicate the pairing.

Here’s a demo video showing Keycard in action:

After using Keycard for the past week with my MacBook Air (a mid-2011 model) and my iPhone 5 and iPad mini, I’ve found that it works as shown in that demo video. The Keycard lock screen appears when my iPhone gets anywhere from 15 to 30 feet away as the crow flies (with walls and furniture interrupting the Bluetooth signal in my house) and disappears by the time I get close enough to my Mac to type. While it’s locked, you can’t access any applications or use keyboard commands to force quit or switch applications. You can still power off a Mac and turn it back on manually, so you should enable a log-in password for your Mac for more security.

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While Keycard works with multiple devices, it will trigger based on the Bluetooth signal of only one device at a time. For me, pairing it with my iPhone is the best method since that’s the device I almost always carry with me wherever I go, which is not the case with my iPad.

In situations where your iPhone or iPad is out of Bluetooth range and you still need to work on your Mac, you can designate a 4-digit passcode that will unlock your Mac. I found this passcode to work as expected but entering it was a little buggy from time to time, with the cursor skipping backwards as I entered the code for no discernible reason. Also, once unlocked this way, my Mac would periodically re-lock as if Keycard momentarily detected my iPhone on the other side of the house and then lost the signal, requiring me to enter the code again. If your iPhone or iPad are going to be away from your Mac for a while, it makes sense to just quit Keycard to avoid this.

Despite these glitches, Keycard does what it promises. If you have mischievous coworkers who might take advantage of a brief absence from your Mac to post something inappropriate through your Facebook account or if you simply want to lock down your Mac to keep its contents relatively secure when you step away for a short period of time, Keycard will be ideal for you.

Keycard debuted in the App Store yesterday and is on sale for a special introductory price of $6.99 and its regular price will be $8.99. I have a hard time reconciling its regular price when comparing Keycard to an app like Clear, which is $9.99 and offers far more functionality albeit in a different category entirely, so I’d recommend you buy Keycard now before its price goes up.

[applink url=”″]

A Flashlight App That Makes Clever Use of the iPhone’s Proximity Sensor

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

I can’t believe that I’m going to post about a flashlight app but the lack of light at my treadmill desk in the late afternoons thanks to the noticeably shorter days of fall brought this to mind. Flashlight apps could probably have their own category in the App Store given how many there are and it takes a lot for one to stand out but 25dev’s offering managed to catch my eye thanks to its use of the iPhone’s proximity sensor.

Most flashlight apps only give you an on-screen button to turn the LED light on the back of your iPhone on or off. While this kind of virtual button certainly works and there’s not much that can or needs to be improved about it, the ability to use your iPhone’s proximity sensor (the same sensor that detects when you’re holding your iPhone up to your face during a phone call and turns off the screen so you won’t accidentally touch any buttons with your cheek) can be useful in many situations.

When you open FlashLight, your iPhone’s LED light turns on automatically. To turn it off temporarily, you simply need to make sure the proximity sensor control in the bottom right corner is toggled on and then cover the iPhone’s proximity sensor by putting your iPhone in your pocket or putting it face down on a table. Once you uncover the proximity sensor by pulling it out of your pocket or picking it up off the table, the light turns on again. Clever, huh? This feature can easily result in a little less fumbling when you’re using your iPhone to find your keys in the dark or are working on that top secret spy mission you chose to accept.

FlashLight costs $.99 (ignore the recently updated free version since it doesn’t have the feature that makes use of the proximity sensor), requires iOS 4.0 or higher, and works with the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and the new 5th-generation iPod touch. It’s not yet optimized for the larger screens of the iPhone 5 and new iPod touch but that’s not critical in a flashlight app.

This will probably be the last time I write about a flashlight app until someone makes one that can do my dishes too, so don’t worry.

[applink url=”☼”]