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.
starbucks

Starbucks adds Passbook Support in iOS 6

One of the Apps that Apple showcased when they introduced Passbook iOS 6 was the Starbucks App. So needless to say the Starbucks App has been one of the most highly anticipated Apps that people have been waiting for to be updated since iOS 6 shipped. Starbucks tweeted that they would have their update by the end of September and that didn’t happen. It could have been tied up in that pesky App Store approval process, but it’s here now and they did a good job. Unlike the Walgreens App, the Starbucks App lets you pick up to 10 of your favorite locations to pop up your card when you are nearby. As promised you’ll see your available balance and most locations can scan the barcode right off the screen (what are the other locations like the ones in DTW airport waiting for?).

I’m pleased to see this update although they still didn’t update it yet to take advantage of the iPhone 5 display size yet. As more Apps get updated Passbook will become more and more useful. In a year we’ll probably wonder how we ever lived without it. At this point there is a long way to go, but with the Starbucks App now on board we’re one step closer to having something great.
iTunes

 

Flashlight+ Updated for iPhone 5 and is the Fastest

Believe it or not there are at least a couple dozen flashlight apps for iOS. You would think that there’s not a lot to innovate in this area and you’d be right. The main purpose for a flashlight app is to either turn your iPhone’s LED light so that you can use it as an actual flashlight or to turn the screen on full bright and white for the same purpose. Sure some of these apps offer features like strobes, different color displays on screen, and S.O.S. Morse Code flashing. However, for me the main thing I’m looking for is SPEED! When I pull out my iPhone to use it as a flashlight that usually means I’m in the dark and I want light as fast as possible. I want the App that has the fastest start up time and LED on.

Flashlight+ has what I want

With Flashlight+ the App starts up instantly and turns on your iPhone’s LED light. It’s the fastest one I’ve seen so far. The app offers a good user interface with a nice big on/off button (although I don’t need it, just quit the app), as well as a strobe and S.O.S. feature. That’s pretty much all I need! While I haven’t tired all of the flashlight apps, Flashlight+ is now my new favorite and “best app” from the handful I have used. It now takes advantage of iOS 6 and the 4″ display of the new iPhone 5 and 5th gen iPod touch.

iTunes

gyft App Gives iOS 6 Passbook Some Love

Last week I wrote a post about “Understanding Passbook in iOS 6“. As it stands we have to wait for Apps to be updated to take advantage of Passbook. However, I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long as more and more Apps are being update each day. If you really want to see Passbook in action then you should check out Gyft. This App has been updated to support Passbook and offers the ability of consolidating your existing gift cards and displaying them in Passbook. You can of course buy gift cards in the App from a variety of different stores. I had a P.F. Chang’s gift card sitting on my desk and I decided to add it in. In about 3 seconds it displayed the balance of my card and then I was able to add it to Passbook! Sweet! Now the question is will P.F. Chang’s be able to use the bar code on screen or will I still need to carry the card the next time I eat there? I’ll take the card as a backup, but I’ll definitely see if they can just work with the one on my iPhone 5.

gyft has a beautiful UI

I wasn’t aware of Gyft before my search continued for Passbook compatible Apps and I must say that they have a beautiful clean user interface that takes advantage of swipe gestures. They boast support for over 100 national retailers and you can even buy gift cards and have them delivered to your friends on Facebook via Facebook. Of course traditional emailing of gift cards is supported to. While buying gift cards in the App is nice, I must say that my favorite feature is being able to add existing gift cards in.

Hopefully more Apps will be updated soon (AMEX and Starbucks promise updates by the end of this month), but in the meantime gyft will give a big jump on Passbook today!

iTunes

navigon

iOS 6 Maps Got You Down? Navigon may be your answer!

I solved the lack of having turn-by-turn voice GPS directions on my iPhone a long time ago with the Navigon Apps. However, I was actually happy to see that Apple was going to finally bring this feature to their new Maps App in iOS 6. There are lots of users out there that don’t need or want to pay for a navigation App and I figured the Maps App would be a good solution for many. However, it appears that at least in this 1.0 state, Apple’s Maps App isn’t making a lot of users happy. Users are missing features of the previous Google Maps App such as better traffic displays and public transit route info. I knew that I would still continue to use my Navigon Apps as they would undoubtedly be more full featured and I was right. While it’s great to be able to ask Siri to “navigate to” a specific point, overall Navigon offers a multitude of additional features over the built-in iOS 6 Maps App.

Navigon bridges the gap and integrates with iOS 6 Maps

In their latest release that came out this week, Navigon took advantage of a gaping whole in iOS 6 Maps and not only offer public transit info (with a $2.99 in-app purchase), but even lets you use Siri/Maps to find the location you want to Navigate to and then hand it off to Navigon to give you the “professional” navigation and turn-by-turn directions you are looking for. While this feature is cool, it may not last forever. If Apple adds public transit stuff, then this feature in Navigon (the hand off) could easily stop working, but for now it’s there if you need it.

 

  1. Find the address, POI that you want to navigate to on Maps
  2. Tap the pin to be taken to the information page about that location.
  3. Tap the “Directions to Here” button
  4. Tap the Bus icon and the Route button
  5. Since Apple doesn’t offer this routing it will prompt you with Apps that do, including your Navigon App
  6. Tap the Route button next to Navigon
  7. Once you’re in the Navigon App you can choose to route via your vehicle or public transportation
Navigon gets it when it comes to GPS turn-by-turn navigation and I consider theirs to be the “Best App” simply because they are always offering up new features and enhancements to their Apps! While it would have been nice to have this as a FREE update, I’m sure there was a fair amount of work that went into making this feature work. Having the hand off from the built-in Maps to Navigon is worth my $2.99. Hopefully this hand off will continue to work well into the future or until Maps is so good that I don’t need Navigon anymore.

iTunes

Understanding Passbook in iOS 6

Yesterday Apple released the much anticipated iOS 6 update. Major iOS updates typically precede the release of new iOS hardware. The iPhone 5 will be available this Friday and Apple usually wants to get the iOS update in the hands of existing users a couple of days earlier. They learned this lesson from a few years back when they released a new iPhone, new iOS update and MobileMe all on the same day. This trifecta crashed servers and caused long frustrating lines at retailers.

Passbook has promise, but could be better

Passbook is one of the cool new flashy features of iOS 6 that can hold your store discount cards, tickets, boarding passes, gift cards, etc. However, unlike my favorite app for doing this kinda stuff “CardStar“, you have to wait for the individual Apps to catch up. With CardStar you can add the cards in your want by either manually entering the barcodes or by scanning them in the App. However, with Passbook these tickets and cards are passed to the App from their native Apps or from your desktop Mac. It has only been a day since Passbook has been made publicly available and therefore there are only a few Apps that take advantage of it. Even the Apps that Apple showcased (namely Delta, Starbucks and even Apple’s own Apple Store App) have not been updated yet. This might seem kinda repetitive for those of you that were thinking Passbook was going to be your one stop shop like CardStar is. Unfortunately to add something to Passbook you will need the native App for that provider first. For example, with Walgreens you need their App on your iPhone first in order to add their Rewards card to Passbook. Now it seems that you can delete the native App after you’ve added the card to Passbook, but you’re probably going to want to keep the native App for future maintenance. To date I only have two Apps that allowed me to put something in Passbook. Actually I have five if you include United, American Airlines and Fandango, but I don’t have any upcoming flights on United and AA and I don’t have a Passbook compatible theater nearby for Fandango that I’m aware of (Fandango, a list would be nice!). The two that I have working are Target and Walgreens. With Target I was able to send their mobile coupons over to Passbook and with Walgreens I was able to send over their Rewards card. Seems like a lot of work to setup, but it does work. The benefit of these extra steps is that Passbook is very location aware and can display the pass automatically when you’re say near your Walgreens or Airport. This isn’t always implemented well either. I have two Walgreens that are about the same distance from me. However, the Walgreens App only lets you send over one location to Passbook at a time. So if I’m near the one Walgreens the Rewards card will pop up, but if not I’ll have to bring it up manually. Not a big deal, but it would be nice for it to recognize any Walgreens that I walk into or at least a few of them in my area (perhaps 5 favorites).

The Bottom Line

Although Passbook may not be what you thought it was, it’s not a bad solution. As time goes on and all of our favorite Apps support it, it will only get better. I’m also expecting Apple to tweak it as needed too.

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