Author: Terry White

Terry is the co-author of The Best Selling "The iPhone Book" 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th editions. He has been active in the industry for over 25 years and is the founder and president of MacGroup-Detroit, Inc., Michigan's largest Macintosh Users Group, host of the Adobe Creative Suite Podcast and a technology writer - Terry White Tech Blog.
Scanner Mini - scan documents into PDF for free

Scanner Mini for iPhone and iPad

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I love my Fujitsu ScanSnap that sits on my desk in my office, but more often than not I need to scan documents on the go and when I’m traveling. That’s when my iPhone and iPad comes in. Each of my mobile devices has a camera and sure you can take a picture of just about anything including documents. So why do you need a scanning App? The camera takes a picture at whatever angle you’re at and it’s often hard to get right on top of the document to get a perfect shot. Scanning Apps take that not so perfect picture and straighten the document out, get rid of the distortion and make it fit to a standard paper size. My scanning App of choice is Scanner Pro by Reedle. It’s a paid App. Recently they released this FREE version called Scanner Mini and I decided to check it out to potentially recommend it to my budget conscious friends.

Scanner Mini performs, but is bare bones

What you get with Scanner Mini is the great document recognition features that clean your scans up and make them look like “documents” instead of photos. However, once you’ve got that great looking scan sitting on your device you’re pretty much stuck there until you get back to your computer to transfer it via a USB cable or WiFi via WebDAV. That’s right. In the free version there are no sharing abilities, not even email. Now this is probably fine for the ones scanning documents for themselves. If you are a business traveler needing to scan receipts as you go and then do an expense report when you get back to your Mac or PC, this App will be great. However, if you need to email someone a PDF while you’re still on the go you’re going to need to upgrade to the Pro version.

While I want to rate this App higher, I can’t because of the limited ways of getting the scans out of it. If you’re serious about scanning from your iPhone or iPad, then you should probably just go ahead and get Scanner Pro.
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LensProToGo

LensProToGo App

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As a photographer I learned a long time ago that this is one of those hobbies or careers that there will always be something new to buy! No photographer that I know of has everything they want. However, sometimes it’s just not cost effective to actually “own” certain equipment. For example, there are lenses that I use every day and some that I would only use rarely. It’s those rarely used lenses that are usually the most expensive. So why have all that money lying around? I discovered LensProToGo.com a couple of years ago and I use them whenever there’s a lens that I want to try before I buy or use for a special occasion. I’ve had nothing but success with their shipments and returns. Before I bought my 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, I rented it first from LensProToGo.com. I wasn’t shooting many landscapes back then and didn’t want to buy it up front before heading to Antelope Canyon in AZ. I rented it before my trip, used it and returned it when I got home. Now you rent lenses, cameras and other gear via their iPhone App. The App is pretty straight forward and easy to navigate. You can search or just browse by category. Although I haven’t yet used the App to go through the full rental process I have used it often to check prices. I read that a few folks are having crashing issues during check out and I can’t confirm or deny these issues at this time. Since the App is free, you have nothing to lose by trying it. My only complaint is that there isn’t a native iPad version. I do more browsing/shopping on my iPad than I do on my iPhone. This App would be a natural on the iPad.

If you’re a photographer, you should have this App in your arsenal. Case in point, here’s a lens that I would definitely rent instead of buying! :-)

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Devil's Attorney

Devil’s Attorney

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If you’re looking for a new game to play on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch this weekend, you should check out Devil’s Attorney. My friend Rita recently turned me onto this addictive game and I’ve been playing it ever since. The way the game works you’re an Attorney and you’re just starting out. You have a shabby apartment and office and you start taking cases. With each case there’s a prosecutor, witness(es), evidence and sometimes expert witnesses. It’s your job to use the “skills” at your disposal to knock out the prosecutor, evidence, etc. You have Cross-Examine, Interrogate, Patronize, Analysis (to use against evidence), Expert Analysis, and even things like Mesmerize and Tamper with Evidence. Each one of these Actions costs points from your starting level of 9 points per game. Each one of things you’re attacking also has points associated with it and your case has a point level assigned to it. Your objective is to use your actions to reduce the damage that can be inflicted by the other side. For example, if you use your Expert Analysis and successfully take out the Evidence the Expert will also disappear. Then the only ones left that can inflict damage are the Prosecutor and Witnesses. Keep using your available actions until you’ve used all your points for that round and hopefully you either completely eliminate the other side or significantly reduce their ability to hurt your case. As you win each case you get paid. The more money you have the more things you can do like upgrade your apartment and office. The more cases you win you also receive gifts from your client that help you get more Actions or points.  The game play requires you to THINK about your available actions and the damage that can be inflicted by the various components of the other side. It definitely takes strategy and to think ahead.

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The cases get harder as you advance. You’ll really have to think about your available actions and the points necessary to win your case.

This game is Universal and works on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Easy Release - Model Release App

Easy Release – Model Release App 3.0 is Here with iCloud Syncing

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I have a lot of apps, but as you would expect there are some that I use more than others. In those cases it’s an extra special treat to see a major or long awaited update happen. Yesterday Easy Release got a major update. While there aren’t a ton of new features to point to, the ones that are there are major. Let me start by saying that Easy Release has become my App of choice for doing “model releases”. It’s not the only App I use for photography contracts and documents, but it is the one I use for model releases. I have always liked the final output of the PDF release. I use it for every photo shoot I do. I started using Easy Release first on my iPhone. Once the iPad was introduced and the app was updated to be a Universal App I started using it on my iPad. Now of course I had all the releases I had done on my iPhone still on my iPhone and I had the new ones on my iPad. Then I got an iPad mini in addition to my iPad. Now what? I simply avoided doing releases on the iPad mini because I didn’t want to have a 3rd device that had releases that the other two didn’t have.

Easy Release 3 Now Syncs To iCloud

When you install this update and launch it for the 1st time you will asked if you want to use iCloud or not to sync. If you say yes (don’t panic), your existing releases will disappear from view. I was a little freaked at first, but they were being sycn’d up to iCloud and then back down. Once I turned this on on my iPhone the same thing happened and releases from my iPhone were also showing up on my iPad and vice versa. Now I can use Easy Release on ANY of my iOS devices and know that I’ll have access to those releases on the other devices if needed. This is GREAT!

Not only do your existing releases get sync’d but also your models, locations, settings, custom templates and branding go to all your devices as well.

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More PDF options

Another enhancement is a Grid view from which you can now see and send multiple PDFs in one email. This is cool especially if you did multiple shoots on the same day and need to send those releases to the same people.

The Bottom Line

This is a much needed and welcomed update. I can find very little wrong this App. However, I would like to see additional options for syncing. For example, I’ve got more space on Dropbox than I do iCloud. I’d also like an option to not only email the PDFs out, but to have those PDF auto sync to Dropbox for storage. Otherwise this App rocks and if you’re a photographer photographing people or buildings you should be getting releases! This is my favorite choice for those releases and having my own text and branding in those releases is great!

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Yes it can be awkward signing with your finger so get a stylus!

If you’re going to be a doing a lot of these, you might want to make an investment in a touch screen stylus to make it easier for your clients to sign. I got one of these and I LOVE IT! Makes it so much easier to sign! If you want an even better one, go with this one from Wacom or this one which is also a pen.

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Amazon Instant Video

Amazon Instant Video

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Having another streaming content option is usually a good thing. I’ve got Netflix, Slingplayer, HBO Go and various TV station Apps. There is no shortage of things to watch on the go. When I saw the announcement for the Amazon Instant Video App I downloaded it immediately. I figured that since I already pay for Amazon Prime, I might as well take advantage of this benefit. I just got a chance to play with the App and it does the kinds of things I expected right off the bat. I signed in with my Amazon credentials and I was presented with a display of available TV shows and movies for instant streaming. So far so good. I randomly picked an episode of Fringe to watch and the quality was decent. Again, this is all good, but…

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Trouble in paradise…

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While the App performed as I expected, I was completely dismayed to find out that it only worked via WiFi. That’s right, no 3G/4G cellular support. While you can watch any videos that you’ve downloaded, you can’t stream anything once you step outside the range of a WiFi Network. This seems like a huge step backwards in 2013. In the early days many apps were restricted from streaming over 3G because AT&T was the only network that supported the iPhone and AT&T/Apple feared that millions of streaming customers would bring the network to its knees. However, those days have long gone since the iPhone is available now on several carriers. Also since most carriers charge for a certain amount of data use each month, users are careful not to do a ton of streaming unless their plans support it. I think that it’s very shortsighted of Amazon to limit their App this way. Perhaps put up a warning when I user starts a stream over cellular data and then once the user taps OK they’re on their own. The other problem (and this is not just an Amazon problem) is that the App doesn’t support AirPlay. So If I understand this correctly, I have to be on my WiFi network to enjoy the App, and since I’m home on my network I can’t even enjoy the show on my big screen HDTV? With these limitations, this will not be my goto App.

If you have an Amazon Prime account or you’ve purchased downloadable movies via Amazon, then the App is probably worth having on your device. However, the WiFi requirement and lack of AirPlay/HDMI out support will make it a limited experience.

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