Gmail

Gmail and Push for iPhone

 

A week or two ago Google made everyone jump for joy when rumors surfaced that a Gmail App was close to being released for the iPhone just to let them down with a bug that made the App unusable from launch. They immediately pulled the App from the App store and have been reworking it to get rid of the bug. a couple of days ago they released the "fixed" version, fulfilling what we've all been asking for since the launch of the iPhone; push for Gmail. I have been using the App non stop with my Gmail account for two days now, and I am happy to report that they have done a pretty good job.

Functionality

The iOS Gmail App is very similar to the web version of Gmail so it will feel very similar to those of you who use the web version. Opening the App displays the first 20 messages in your inbox, with a "show more messages" button at the bottom to display more. New messages have bold text, while read messages are a light grey.  Just like on the web version of Gmail, there are check boxes next to each message allowing the user to select multiple messages for different actions ( deleting, moving to a folder, etc.).

A left to right swipe, or a tap of the menu button displays familiar folders, filters, and menus. Any folders that you may have created under your Gmail web interface will appear within this menu. Drilling down into the folders and sorting your content is easy and intuitive with this App.

Searching your content is simple with a tap of the hourglass in the top right corner. This icon is directly to the left of the new mail icon in the right corner. One notable function of this App is the attachment of items to mail. Unlike the native mail App on both the iPhone and the iPad, to attach an item to a Gmail email you must click the paperclip icon within a message. This will allow you to email that item (photo, pdf etc.).

Push

If there is one thing that I wanted this App for over anything else, it is PUSH messages. I know that there has been a hack out there using enterprise server to get Push for Gmail on the iPhone, but this is truly an integrated, working package. The Push works really well. I did a few tests and messages seem to come through faster on my iPhone than they do on my web account. Push is the biggest plus side of this App in my opinion

Something I'd Like To See

If there is one thing that I really, really want to see, it's support for multiple accounts. I currently have three Gmail accounts, so I picked the one that I get the most incoming mail on to use with the Gmail App. Google Says that there are improvements and added features on the way, including multiple account support.

 

The Bottom Line

Besides the initial bug contained within the original release of the App, this is a great first offering. I really hope that they continue to build on this and offer multiple account support in the near future.

 

You can get Gmail for the iPhone and iPad from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes

navigon

Navigon 2.0 is Here for iOS!

 

My favorite Turn-by-Turn voice GPS Navigation App has just been updated with a slicker, smarter interface. The 1st big change is that App has been cut down significantly in size. The North America version used to weigh in at about 1.7GB. Now the update is about 44MB in size. How can it get so small you ask? The good folks at Navigon took a brilliant approach in letting you selectively download the states/providences that you need. This is AWESOME! If i'm never going to drive through Alabama or Arkansas then why have those maps taking up space on my device? You can pick which states to download whenever you want.  You do have to be in Wi-Fi to download a state, but once it's downloaded you won't need a data connection at all to use the App. I downloaded Michigan (36.9MB) in a matter of just a few minutes over my WiFi/Cable connection. The next thing I noticed was that the new app launches SIGNIFICANTLY faster. Perhaps this is due to the weight loss :) I'm not a fan of GPS apps that require a constant data connection as the maps are in cloud. Navigon's new approach is a perfect blend between the flexibility of only loading what you need AND not requiring a data connection to use the App once the maps are on your device.

 

Nice and clean UI

I'm a User Interface (UI) freak and have never been blown away by any GPS navigation system. I'm not saying that this new interface blows me away, but it's certainly WAY cleaner than before and probably will send several competitors back to the design boards. The menus are animated, but not in an obnoxious way. I like the little pull downs to quickly access things you need while navigating. Most of all I like not having to dig through several menus to find the things that should be at the top level. Great job!

The same In-App purchases are available and yes it will allow you to restore the ones you've already purchased. In my case I got the Lifetime LIVE Traffic, Panorama 3D view and Radar Info. They've added a new one called FreshMaps XL that gives you a 1 year quarterly Map update with not only new/changed roads, but they promise tons of POI additions/updates. It's only $14.99 but I'll pass on it for now since this update includes the latest maps for free!

There is one gotcha with this update! The 1st and only problem I've run into so far is that you lose all your saved Favorites. That really sucks since there is NO WARNING! When you fire up the new app they're just not there anymore. I'm hoping that this is just a bug and that they can fix it so that anyone else that's upgrading will be able to either keep their Favorites or back them up and restore them. Navigon shame on you for not warning us about this or allow saved Favorites to come into version 2.0. Otherwise, this update rocks!

 

UPDATE! The Favorites ARE there! They just won't show up unless you download the Maps/States that they are for. Makes sense, thanks goes to David Lumsden for his troubleshooting help in the comments below! Now I'm even happier about this update!

 

Price drops until November 30th:

Navigon North America is now only $39.99 iTunes

Navigon USA is only $29.99 iTunes

Navigon My Region is now only $19.99

East iTunes

Central iTunes

West iTunes

santagps

Keeping Track of Santa with the iPad

 

Everyone knows how much I like learning Apps for my children. I'm constantly writing about, and recommending the best ones to you guys. Every now and then though I run across a children's App that has no real intellectual value, but is still good for the kids. Santa GPS is one of those Apps. This App is all about keeping the magic of Santa claus going with the kids, and having a good time.  Of course, it does a little more than track Santa, which makes it my favorite among these Apps.

 

Track The Fat Guy

Santa GPS uses your location to tell you exactly how far away from the North Pole you are currently (this of course is where Santa is currently toiling away on all of those toys for the kids). Of course when Christmas eve arrives his location will change as he makes his rounds. To display where Santa is, the App has a little picture of Santa's workshop at the top of a world map on the tracking page. When he starts his trip, a little Santa "S" appears and moves around the map. This is always fun for the little ones to watch as Santa visits all of the little boys and girls around the world. On top of the tracker, there is count down clock to Christmas Day so the kids know exactly (down to the second) how long until Christmas.

Of course what's Santa without a wish list? Let your children type out their letters right within the App. When they're done, they can send them to Santa via email (Santa is up with the times you know)…

 

Keeping Up With the Latest Elf News

Want to keep tabs on what's going on at the Elf Workshop? Of course you do, and so will your kids. The Elf blog is a great way to keep up with all of the happenings at the Toy Shop.

 

 

Naughty or Nice?

This is a great little addition to the App, and for me really puts it over the top. A built in, naughty or nice meter. I put my twins in there, and every day they work towards moving that needle to the "nice" side. If they start acting up, I just get out the iPad and say "should I move towards the naughty side" and they straiten right up. Seriously, it's a fun little addition to the App, and something my kids like to see. It completes the whole experience.

 

Bottom Line

This is a really fun, really easy to use, well made App that the kids will love. If you have children that believe in Santa, you need this App.

 

Get Santa GPS for the iPad for $1.99 from the iTunes store Here: iTunes
Get Santa GPS for the iPad for $.99 from the iTunes store here: iTunes

redbox

Redbox Movie Rental for iPhone

Not too long ago I became fed up with the price change with a certain other movie service that shared the same color as today's featured App so I switched services (for my physical dvds) and started using Redbox. Immediately I went looking for a Redbox App because I didn't want to be one of the thousands (if not tens of thousands) of people that stand there staring at the box as they try to decide what they want to rent. I wanted to be able to browse, locate, and reserve my movies directly from my iPhone on the go. With Redbox for the iPhone I can do that.


Function

This App obviously is designed to aid users of their service so it isn't going to do much beyond that, but as long as it preforms all of the tasks to make renting movies from Redbox easier and more enjoyable, it has done its job. The first thing that I wanted to be able to do with this App is browse and search the different movies contained withing the boxes. As you can see from the image, the movies are broken down into popular categories to help you easily navigate to what you're looking for.  Also included is a search option. Have a title in mind already? Go to the search bar and type the name in to instantly show that movie.

The second thing that I wanted to be able to do was read the plot, know the run time, and find out who was in the movie. I don't always want to know these things, but there are a lot of times that I do, Redbox has you covered. Do all of these things with ease as soon as you find the title you're looking for. 

Third (and most importantly) I wanted to be able to find out which locations had the title that I was looking for. I don't want to drive to my favorite (and closest) location just to find out that the movie I want isn't in stock there. With Redbox for the iPhone you can not only see what locations have it, but you can also reserve it! That's awesome! No need to worry that someone else is going to get there and rent the latest Carebear before you can make it to the box (If you have little kids like me, you know this isn't a good situation). Redbox has you covered.

Bottom Line

This may seem like a one trick pony, but what it does, it does well. I really enjoy the Redbox service and this App makes that service that much better. My only gripe is that there isn't a native iPad App, but for something like this, the scaled up iPhone version works just fine.

 

You can get Redbox for the iPhone from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes

aelios

Aelios is a Beautiful Weather App for iPad

I've seen several weather Apps for iPad, but I have to say that I haven't seen many as beautiful and elegant as Aelios Weather. Aelios Weather has a simple approach. You have a metallic Swiss watch looking dial that covers a map of the world. You can pan and zoom to any location you want, tap the Location icon for weather of your current location or simply type in a search for a specific city. As you pan around the dial will auto lock onto the large cities in the area. Once you lock in on a location in a moment or two you'll see 24 hour forecast. Use your finger to turn the dial and you'll see the 7 day forecast including highs, lows, precipitation, and winds. Each icon has subtle animation that you don't even notice at first, but once you do, you'll find yourself starring at them for a few moments. I love the animated lightning/storm cloud. You also get the current time, date for the location you're viewing. Aelios also lets you choose your choice of weather provider. It defaults to AccuWeather.com. 

If you're looking for a full-blown weather App with Radar maps, videos, etc. then this one is probably not for you. However, if you're looking for an elegant, visually appealing way of checking the current conditions as well as forecasts for just about any location in the world, then Aelios is your App. I'd love to see the ability to add a list of favorite locations or at least a list of recent searches.

You can get Aelios for $4.99 here from the iTunes

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_IDbGP3zN8

 

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