Amazon Instant Video

Amazon Instant Video

amazoninstantvideo_iphone5

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…

amazoninstantvideo_fringe_iphone5

Trouble in paradise…

amazoninstantvideo_wifi_iphone5

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.

iTunes

Word Search Express

Word Search Express for iPad

wordsearchexpress_ipad

J Smith is back with a video review of Word Search Express

 

iTunes

Fly Delta for iPad

Fly Delta for iPad and iPhone

fly_delta_iPadmini

As a Delta frequent flyer (Diamond Medallion) I rely on the Fly Delta App on a regular basis. The App provided the basics and electronic boarding passes. However, it was lacking features compared to the competition. It lacked Passbook support, the ability to manage/view your Skymiles account info, iPhone 5 display size support and there wasn’t even a way to book a ticket or make changes to a reservation. To make matters worse the App became unusable for many as Delta updated their website to prompt users to choose a new password instead of a PIN, and the existing App didn’t support passwords! Doh! That all changed this past weekend. Delta not only released the long awaited and much needed 2.0 update to the Fly Delta App for iPhone, but they also released an iPad version.

Fly Delta on iPhone

delta_passbook_iphone5

The iPhone App answered all my previous concerns. I can now do everything in the App that I’d want to do on the go. Most importantly it also supports Apple’s Passbook. You might be wondering why Passbook support is important if the App could already produce a scannable electronic boarding pass? First of all Passbook supports geofencing. This means that when you’re near the airport your boarding pass can appear on the lock screen. Just swipe the icon and there it is. No need to dig for it in the App. Secondly the Passbook pass can automatically update with the latest gate information. In the previous App it would sometimes take forever to update (downloading itineraries) before allowing you to get to your boarding pass. With Passbook the pass is there whether you have a connection or not. When the 2.0 update came out I was in the middle of a trip to Orlando, so I used it for the return flight. The Passbook option was there, however the geofencing feature wasn’t there and the pass never provided the gate info. Not sure if it’s a bug in the App/implementation or it was just a fluke with this particular airport. I have another trip this week and I’ll check it again.
UPDATE I have now flown on a different trip with different airports and it seems that the gate info and geofencing features are broken in Delta’s Passbook implementation. Hopefully they’ll fix this soon. The other thing I noticed was that this version doesn’t seem to send Push Notifications when it’s time to check in like the old one did.

fly_delta_book_a_flight

Aside from the Passbook support the App has been updated in every way. It’s optimized for the 4″ screen size. It now allows you to access your Skymiles account info. They even added the ability to price/book tickets right in the App. The bag tracking feature also came over and yes you can even use your new password to log in. :-) At this point I can’t think of anything left to include in the App that I’d need.

Fly Delta for iPad

fly_delta_iPadmini_entertainment

Just as I was about to complain that this wasn’t a Universal App I noticed that they released a separate Fly Delta for iPad App. I couldn’t wait to download it. This App is geared more towards planning your trip, booking your ticket and your in flight experience. This was a well thought out effort. Rather than make one huge App they kept the iPhone version relatively small and added the other features to the iPad version. I agree with this strategy. The Fly Delta for iPad App provides entertainment features. For example, you see suggested movies to download based upon your destination. For my flight to Vegas the App suggested “The Hangover”. The iPad version also offers the Delta Sky Magazine. A complete electronic version of the magazine that you can read right on your iPad. This might not be too practical since the printed version is right there in the seat pocket in front of you, but I can see a day where they eliminate or reduce the printed copies in favor of the electronic version. You can check in for your flight on the iPad version (although you won’t have Passbook), see maps/seat maps, purchase trip extras such as WiFi and Priority Boarding, and lastly a very cool Glass Bottom Jet feature that provides an interactive moving Map as you fly complete with landmarks and social content from your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

fly_delta_iPadmini_glass_bottom_jet

These ARE the Updates you have Been Waiting for! Not only are these two apps very functional, but they are beautifully designed. The iPad version can be a little slow sometimes and it really bugs me that I can’t stay logged in like I can on the iPhone version, but other than that if you Fly Delta, these are must have apps!

Get Fly Delta for iPhone/iPod touch here: Fly Delta - Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Get Fly Delta for iPad here: Fly Delta for iPad - Delta Air Lines, Inc.

passbook_icon

10 Must Have Apps That Support Apple’s Passbook

passbook_iphone5

iOS 6 introduced a built-in App called Passbook on iPhone and iPod touch. However, simply launching the Passbook App really won’t do much for you. You either need Apps or websites that support Passbook so that you can add passes to it. I’m a fan of Passbook primarily because it supports “geofencing”. Geofencing means that these passes can automatically show up on my lock screen when I’m near an establishment that I have a pass for. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, but I was waiting for my 10th App to do it with. Delta FINALLY updated their Fly Delta App with Passbook support (among other nice features) and now I have just about all the Apps I want supporting Passbook. So here are 10 Must have apps to get you going…

Fly Delta

delta_passbook_iphone5

If you fly on Delta Airlines you can now check in with their App and add your boarding pass to Passbook. However, if you don’t fly Delta, you can also do this with American Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada and Lufthansa. If you’re a ground traveler, you can also do this with the Amtrak App. Cheers! Most of these Apps will display the up to date gate information on your pass as well.

Fly Delta - Delta Air Lines, Inc.

 

 

Walgreens

walgreens_passbook_iphone5

Walgreens was one of the 1st Apps to support Passbook. You can have it bring up your Rewards Card when you’re near your favorite Walgreens Store. CVS what’s up? Where are you on this?

Walgreens - Walgreen Co.

Starbucks

starbucks_passbook

This is probably the one that I use the most. I have a Starbucks Gold Card that I use to earn points towards free drinks and to actually pay for my drinks/food. The Starbucks App lets you configure up to 10 locations so that your Starbucks Passbook Card will show up when you’re closest to your favorite locations. The card also displays your current balance on the card.

Starbucks - Starbucks Coffee Company

 

 

AMC Theaters

AMC_Passbook_iPhone5

I frequent AMC Theaters and their Stubs Card can now be added to Passbook and show up automatically when you’re near your favorite theater. Now if we can only get you guys to totally move away from paper tickets, life would be great.

AMC Theatres - VMBC

Target

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Target was also early to the Passbook game. You can add their weekly coupons to your Passbook for quick access at the register.

Target - Target

 

 

SPG: Starwood Hotels & Resorts

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I’m more of a Hilton guy, but sometimes my travels take me to Starwood properties. You can add your SPG card to passbook so that when you’re checking in you can whip out your electronic card and get your points. SPG: Starwood Hotels & Resorts - Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

 

 

Fandango Movies

fandango_iphone5_passbook

Fandango takes it up a notch and not only allows you to buy tickets for your favorite movies, but also shows those tickets via Passbook. The only problem is that the theater has to support electronic tickets and sadly I haven’t been to one yet that does.

Fandango Movies – Times & Tickets - Fandango

 

 

Gyft

Gyft is the ULTIMATE gift card manager for your iPhone. If you got some plastic gift cards (or electronic ones) lying around you can add them to your iPhone and Passbook via the Gyft App. I did this with my P.F. Chang’s Gift Card and it worked great. I just handed my iPhone to the waiter (keeping a close watch on him) and he was able to apply it to my bill via the card’s barcode displayed in Passbook.

gyft - Gyft Inc.

 

 

Apple Store

Apple_Store_Passbook

Wait! Apple now supports their own Passbook App? Yep, I know it may be a shock – kidding. Although Apple was a little late to their own party, the Apple Store App now supports sending/receiving Apple Store gift cards AND adding the ones you receive to Passbook. Just show the card to the Apple Store rep when you’re ready to check out and they’ll apply the card to your purchase.

Apple Store - Apple

 

 

American Express

amex_passbook_iphone5

Oddly enough while American Express does support Passbook, they don’t support it via their App. Instead you go to amexpassbook.com on your iOS 6 device to setup your account(s) via Passbook. Once you do you can add your AMEX cards to Passbook and you’ll be able to see you balance at a glance and get push notifications anytime there’s a charge made to your card. I really like this because it helps me see if there are charges being made that I didn’t authorize or am curious about. Kudos to AMEX for offering this benefit.



t Chess Pro

t Chess Pro for iPad and iPhone

tChessPro-iPad

A friend of mine received an iPad for Christmas and she was looking to me for a recommendation for a good Chess game. Although I hadn’t played chess on my iOS devices before, I figured that there were probably “tons” of good chess games for iOS. I was actually appalled by how bad the selections were. Chess games have been around for YEARS! The one that ships on the Mac is great. Looks gorgeous and it works. However, when it comes to iOS the selection was not as good as I assumed it would be. I wasn’t looking for much…

  • I wanted a good looking board with good looking pieces
  • I wanted multiplayer support either via Game Center or wirelessly/internet
  • I wanted the basic features for beginners such as hints, take backs, etc.

The above listed features are not revolutionary and have been around in chess games for as long as I can remember. First off most of the games I found had very bad looking (line drawing type) graphics. This is what surprised me the most. Most didn’t offer multiplayer support. However, I did finally find one (actually she found it first). It’s t Chess Pro. It meets all my basic requirements and it works great via Game Center so that you can play your friends either in the same room or across the globe. Her only disappointment was that there wasn’t more fanfare when you beat the computer! :-)

You can set the difficulty level and this is a Universal App so that it’s native to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. There are LOTS of options beyond the ones I wanted. The only thing I’d like to see added is the ability to actually drag you piece to make the move. As far as I can tell you can only tap the piece and then tap where you want to move it to. Otherwise, if you’re looking for a great iOS chess game, this is it!
iTunes

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