Reference

Find out the best apps to help you look up things when you need them, such as dictionaries and more.

Google Search

Google Now on iPhone and iPad

google_search_google_now_iphone

I’ve been a fan of the Google Search App for iOS almost from the beginning. Sure Safari and Google Chrome have a search feature built right into the browser, but the dedicated App offers many more features. For one, when I sign in with my Google ID I get access to my search history even if I did the searches on my notebook/desktop. The app also supports voice search. What’s new in this 3.0 version is the integration of location based Google Now. These cards can start you off with the current weather conditions and traffic conditions. Beyond those basics you can see what local restaurants are in the area as well as sports scores and breaking news. I tend to use a couple of other apps to get this kind of info, but it’s nice having all there at my finger tips when I go to search for something. Also if you search for a business location or other destination, Google Search integrates nicely with the Google Maps app on your iOS device. Just tap and you’re on your way with turn-by-turn voice directions.

While I like having Siri built-in to iOS, Google Search is definitely right on par in terms of usefulness. I wouldn’t want to give either one up.

Get Google Search featuring Google Now on iPhone or iPad here for free:

iTunes

Photoshop World Conference & Expo

Photoshop World App 2013

Photoshop_World_iPad

I look forward to going to Photoshop World each year and presenting. One of the tools that helps keep me on top of things that are going on is the official Photoshop World Conference & Expo App. Each year there are updates to the App, but this year the author (Shawn Welch) redesigned the App from the ground up. The new design is definitely easier to navigate. It’s also better looking. The App lets you see up to the minute messages from the conference organizers. You can see the Classes, Instructors, Exhibitors and most importantly the “My Schedule” feature. With the My Schedule feature you can add classes to your schedule based on available time slots. While I like the improvements in this feature, there is one change that I don’t like. I miss having the ability to fill a time slot with a custom meeting or event. With this update you can only choose from the available classes so that’s a bit of a step back for me. However, one thing that kinda makes up for it is that the App now syncs with iCloud. This means that I don’t have to manually create the same schedule twice on both my iPad and iPhone. I added a class on the iPad and it showed up in the appropriate time slot on my iPhone 5. It also has a 10 minute before the class reminder feature. I’d also like to be able to customize this to make it 15 minutes to an hour depending on the session.

UPDATE: Shawn has informed me that there is a way to do custom reminders by scrolling down to the bottom of an event and changing it there.

All in all the update is better and more stable than the previous version. I hope that Shawn adds back in the ability to add custom time slots (hint hint), but if you’re going to Photoshop World and you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch this is definitely worth a download.

Photoshop World Conference & Expo - Shawn Welch



myPANTONE

myPantone – A Must Have App For Graphic Designers

myPantone_iPhone5

The Pantone Libraries have been a standard in graphic design and printing for as long as I can remember. Although I don’t spec out colors day to day as I used to earlier in my career, there are times that I get stuck trying to figure out what colors to use for a design I’m doing. I’m VERY color challenged when it comes to doing design work. Even when I have the main color I want, I’m not good at picking out the complimentary colors. My friend Sydney showed me the myPantone App and I had to download it that night. It does the obvious. You can browse through the swatches and lookup colors by numbers. That’s no different than having a Pantone swatch book in front of you. What made me download the App as soon as I could was the integrated camera feature. Using the camera on your iOS device you can snap a photo and then use your finger to sample the colors in the photo and the app will find the closest Pantone color to the color sample that you chose. That’s really cool, but to make it even better the App gives you not only the matching Pantone color, but you can also get the Lab, sRGB, HTML (Hex), and CMYK values. This is awesome for web design too. For example, you could walk into a business and snap a couple of photos of their existing decor. Then you’ll have the swatches needed for designing their marketing materials as well as their website. Palettes can be shared via emailed or printed as well as sent to another device in range. Colors can also be saved as Favorites. There’s even a new SkinTones Library.

One thing you have to realize is that your iPhone is NOT color calibrated and lighting conditions for the photo will also make a difference especially if the white balance is off. Since your camera is NOT perfect, this will always be just an estimate and not an exact science. It ill help get you in the ballpark faster than manually searching. However, even with those caveats I would say that this is a must have App for designers. What I would like to see is Universal version that is native to iPad.
iTunes

myPantone_values_iPhone5

 

myPantone_share_iPhone5

Share your color palettes via email

Worldictionary - Instant Translation & Search

Worldictionary – Instant Translation & Search

As a frequent international traveler I depend on my iPhone at times to help with translations. I’ve reviewed a few here including ones that can translate in real-time. Worldictionary is one of those kinds of apps. It uses the camera on your iOS device as a live scanner to look at and translate words in real-time as you point at them. However, unlike other Apps I’ve tried, this one gives you the choice of live translations one word at a time or the ability recognize sentences/paragraphs in batch by taking a picture or using a picture on your Camera Roll. You can also choose between different translation engines and different languages (most at no additional cost). As with all translators someone that speaks the native language would be quick to point out that the translation may not be quite how they would say it. However, if I had a native translator standing next to me then I wouldn’t need the App :-)

There is a potential problem though with the Sentence mode and that is not only does it have to do translation, but it first has to do OCR (optical character recognition) this means that it has to be able to read all the characters and if you have a bad, dark picture, the translation will suffer as a result. Of course this is true for the Live translation too, but at least with the live translation you’re seeing it in real-time and therefore can adjust the angle or the postion of the camera to get better results. Another nice benefit is that this App can pronounce the word/sentence for you.

Great, but it could be better

The first area for potential improvement is by making this App native to the iPhone 5 screen. This is going to be an ongoing ding for any reviews of NEW or updated Apps I do from here on out. The most recent update (as of this review) had bug fixes for iOS 6, but not updated for the iPhone 5/4 inch display size. The other thing I’d like to see is a native iPad version. It would be great to see this on the bigger screen of an iPad. Lastly it would be nice to be able to translate a line at a time in addition to a word at a time.

If you travel or work with text in other languages, this App would make a nice addition to your arsenal.

iTunes

articles

Read Wikipedia In Style With Articles

Articles App

For a long time, I have had my eyes set on getting Articles, a gorgeous app that allows you to browse Wikipedia in a little more user friendly fashion on the iPhone (and iPad). For various reasons I've never gone ahead and done it but when they had a sale a while ago I couldn't resist.

Articles let's you as I said, browse articles on Wikipedia in a better user interface. Instead of the incredibly annoying mobile version of Wikipedia you get an app which is cleverly designed just as Safari is itself. This means that you can have multiple tabs of Wikipedia searches open at the same time something which is quite useful.

Searching is very easy and the results come back in a nice display. One major gripe I have though is that the useful table of contents isn't available in Articles. Personally I use this all the time to find out where to go in an article or if the article is worth reading. If this isn't there, much of the usefulness has been lost.

On a positive note it will easily share articles via mail as well as bookmark them to its own built-in bookmarking system. Changing between different languages could also be made simpler by only showing the languages an article is available in.

While the app is gorgeous there are a few major flaws to it that stop it from becoming a true wikipedia website replacement, which is sad because it looks so nice. However, if you want an app that displays wikipedia results slightly better than the website, go for it!

iTunes
 

Page 1 of 41234