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.
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!
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.