TGI Black Friday 2014

The Only Black Friday App You’ll Need

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Each year I typically rely on two to three Black Friday Apps to check out the deals. However, this is “BEST” App Site, not best three app site. So I decided to act as if I could only have one Black Friday app installed on my devices and it turns out that TGI Black Friday 2014 was my favorite choice for Best Black Friday App. It won me over based on the overall look and feel of the app. An integrated search feature and the fact that it’s a Universal App for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. You can look at the store ads. You can browse by category or if you’ve got your heart set on specific items you can search for them to see if anyone has them on sale or who has them at the best price. Once you see something you like you can add it to your shopping list in the app. There are also coupons and push notifications.

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Don’t wait, download the TGI Black Friday App here from the iTunes.

Also be sure to check out my 2014 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide here.

iWatermark+

iWatermark+: Watermark your photos in the iOS 8 Photos App

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I usually like to have a visual watermark on my photos before posting them to social media. If I’m coming from Lightroom on the desktop no problem, I can export the photos as JPGs with the watermark nicely displayed. However, there are times when I’m either taking the photo with my iPhone or accessing an unwatermarked version via Dropbox or an album in the native Photos app. For years I’ve relied on iWatermark to allow me to easily put my logo on my images right on my iPhone or iPad. However, the newly released iWatermark+ takes this process to a whole new level.

iOS 8 brings “Filters” to the table for the native Photos app

Now that 3rd parties can add filters to the native Photos app in iOS 8, we get to experience many more options without having to leave the Camera Roll/Photos App. We can access better image editing tools and more features that 3rd parties offer in their apps. iWatermark+ can be used in a stand alone fashion as always, but now it can also be used as a filter to in the built-in Photos app for iOS 8. Woohoo! This speeds up my workflow considerably. Now instead of having to launch the iWatermark app each time I want to watermark a photo I can simply do it right in the Photos app where the image already resides. Once you configure the iWatermark+ App with the watermark you wish to use (in my case a PNG file of my logo), you can then just bring up any photo in the Photos app, tap Edit to edit it and tap the Filter button (the circle with the 2 dots in it) and choose iWatermark+ as one of the filters. It remembers the last one you used and more importantly where it was placed on the image. The best part is just like any other Edit in the Photos App, this is a non-destructive change. You can always revert the photo back to its “unedited” state to remove the watermark at any time.

But wait, there’s more…

If I left here I’d be quite happy with this app, but it does so much more that I have to remind myself that it’s not just about a logo. With iWatermark+ you can choose between 6 different watermark types. You can use text, a graphic, a signature, a QR Code, metadata (awesome for those photos where the metadata was stripped away) or steganographic. You can use multiple watermarks as well as watermark several photos at once in batch. You can position the watermark anywhere you like as well as control the size and opacity. Once you watermark your photo(s) you can share it right from the app to Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, the Camera Roll, Email or the clipboard.

The Bottom Line

While visual watermarks don’t necessarily protect your photos from being used without your permission they do add a level of branding and identity to your images that you are posting. It’s also away of promoting yourself if that cat photo you just took goes viral. :-) Watermark your photos with ease with this app!

You can get iWatermark+ for your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch here from the iTunes.

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word, Excel & PowerPoint now more Free on iPad and iPhone

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Earlier this year I didn’t bother covering the release of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on iOS because you needed an Office 365 subscription to do anything and I don’t know any subscribers. Sure we’ve covered “freemium” products here before that have some basic capabilities without paying, but that just wasn’t the case with the Microsoft Suite until now! Now you can download Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint to your iPad and iPhone and do “basic” editing for Free. This means that you can now open and edit native Office documents on your iOS devices and save them back to your device or cloud storage. Microsoft even kicked things up a notch by integrating Dropbox. There’s basically no excuse not to have these apps now. I rarely do any Office type editing and when I needed to do so in the past I would just open those documents and convert them with Apps like Pages and Numbers. With any conversion you stand to lose something and of course it’s more steps especially if you plan to deliver the edited document back to the source.

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I already had these Apps on my iPad and downloaded them yesterday to my iPhone 6 Plus. They worked pretty much as advertised with one small glitch. Initially I skipped past the Dropbox setup figuring I could do it later. When I went to do it later I simply could not find a way to add it in. I finally ended up deleting the app and reinstalling it to get the initial prompt again. The only option I saw once I skipped adding Dropbox was to add in Microsoft’s cloud drive. Dropbox support is huge because it means I can easily work on the same documents either on my Mac or my iOS devices at any time.

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What you get for Free

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First off, Free or Paid, you will need to sign in with your Microsoft Account”. This through me at first because I knew I didn’t have a personal Office 365 Subscription. However, I just signed in with the same email and password that I use on my Xbox 360 and it worked just fine. You can of course create a free account on the spot. Now you can create new documents in Word, Excel or PowerPoint from scratch or using one of the built-in templates. You can open documents from your email or via cloud based storage such as Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox. Once you’re done working on your document you can either save it locally to your device or to the cloud. Once it’s been saved you can share it via email or if it’s in the cloud you can share the link. This will more than satisfy the average casual user such as myself.

What you get if you Pay

Microsoft isn’t in the business of giving away software or services. They have a paid subscription to Microsoft Office called Office 365. With a paid subscription you get more features in each of the apps:

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The Bottom Line

Microsoft realizes what most companies that have a subscription model realize and that is if you want more potential subscribers you have to allow them to use your tools in a trial mode fully functional or a limited “basic” way. The more attached they become to the products, the more likely they are to want to subscribe going forward. With that said, the “basic” editing in these 3 apps is probably all I would ever need since I just don’t do a lot of “office” type work. However, if I ever did need the full power of Office 365, the Office 365 Personal option of only $6.99/month ain’t bad. You would always have the latest versions of the desktop apps, 1TB of cloud storage and the premium editing features on mobile.

You can get Microsoft Word for iPad and iPhone here: iTunes.

You can get Microsoft Excel for iPad and iPhone here: iTunes.

You can get Microsoft PowerPoint for iPad and iPhone here: iTunes.

Google Maps

Google Maps App Now with Open Table and Uber support

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Let’s face it, Apple Maps is not as good as it should be. Therefore we look to other Apps for our daily navigation needs. Google Maps seems to be the gold standard and it keeps getting better. Although Google typically releases new features for their Android platform first, they still see the bigger picture and release updates for iOS as well. This new version has a fresher look that fits in nicely with iOS 8 and I’m happy that Google realizes they can’t be all things to all people. This means they add support for other apps instead of trying to compete directly with them. Who knows if that will continue, but in this version we have support for Open Table and Uber.

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If you locate a restaurant in Google Maps you can now pretty much do everything you need without leaving the app. You can see the menu which is available by the restaurant itself or powered by a 3rd party. You can call them and see the hours and if the restaurant supports Open Table reservations (U.S. Only) you can book your table right there on the spot. Of course you can also get turn-by-turn voice navigation from where you are to the restaurant as well.

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If you’re an Uber user you can now the estimated wait time and trip cost. This will be very nice to have when I’m on the road.

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I also like the new “nearby” view. Google Maps just gave raised the bar for all navigation apps to step up to. It just became that much more useful to me especially when I travel.

You can get Google Maps here from the iTunes.

Camera+

How to use Camera+ as a Filter in the Photos App

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One of the benefits of iOS 8 is that now we can use other Apps as filters in the native iOS Photos App. Prior to iOS 7 I almost never did any editing in the Photos App on my iPhone or iPad. The native Photos App is ok for very simple things, but there are so many Apps available that do so much more. For my landscape shots I like adjusting them using Camera+. Prior to iOS 8 that would mean launching Camera+ and then importing my pictures into it or taking the shot with Camera+ in the first place. Now with iOS 8 I can access all the cool controls of Camera+ right inside the native Photos app with the photos already on my Camera Roll.

Here are the steps:

  1. Open the Photos app and select the photo wish to edit. Tap the Edit button in the upper right corner.
  2. Tap the new Filter button on the bottom right (circle with 3 dots in it)
  3. By default Camera+ may not be setup as one of your filters. If it’s not listed there, just tap the More button and enable Camera+, then tap Done
  4. Now tap the Camera+ icon and your photo will be loaded into the Camera+ editing environment
  5. Do any edits you want to do in Camera+
  6. Tap Done
  7. Your edited photo now be returned to the Photos app where you do any last minute edits or run other filters.
  8. Tap Done
  9. At this point you can share the photo or do whatever you want with it. If you ever want to get rid of the edits you did even if you did them with Camera+ or other filters, just tap Edit and then tap Revert.

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Since the Photos app has always done non-destructive edits (being able to revert back to the unedited state), it’s great that this also applies if you use filters too. Using Camera+ as filter definitely simplifies my workflow.

Get Camera+ here from the iTunes.



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