Free

Facebook Groups

The New Facebook Groups App

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When a company decides to break out functionality from it’s main app into a new separate app I keep my fingers crossed that they did so to make that functionality better and easier to use. For example, the Facebook Pages Manager is pretty good. I use it daily to interact with my Facebook fan pages. Also I’m one of those few that didn’t have a problem with the separate Facebook Messenger App. However, with the latter a case could be made that there was really no reason to break out the Messenger functionality. On the other hand I rarely use the Facebook Mentions App as I don’t see really anything that I can’t simply do in the Facebook Pages Manager App. That brings us to the latest Facebook App, Facebook Groups. As you might have guessed, the Facebook Groups app is designed to allow you to interact with the Facebook Groups that you are a part of. With the Facebook Groups App you can easily see which groups you are a part of and more easily jump between them to see and make new posts. You can add members to the group. You can approve new member requests for the closed groups as well as easily change the group’s settings such as name and description, the cover photo, privacy as well as leave a group that you were added to that you really don’t want to be a part of or ones that you no longer have any interest in. You can also search for groups to join. In other words it does the things you would expect from a new app designed to work with Facebook Groups, but that’s about it.

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There are no features that made me say, “that’s cool!”. Also it would be have been nice to have an iPad version. If you work with Facebook groups on a regular basis, then you’ll want this App simply because it makes accessing your group easier than within the Facebook App.
You can get the Facebook Groups app for free here iTunes.

 

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TGI Black Friday 2014

The Only Black Friday App You’ll Need

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Each year I typically rely on two to three Black Friday Apps to check out the deals. However, this is “BEST” App Site, not best three app site. So I decided to act as if I could only have one Black Friday app installed on my devices and it turns out that TGI Black Friday 2014 was my favorite choice for Best Black Friday App. It won me over based on the overall look and feel of the app. An integrated search feature and the fact that it’s a Universal App for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. You can look at the store ads. You can browse by category or if you’ve got your heart set on specific items you can search for them to see if anyone has them on sale or who has them at the best price. Once you see something you like you can add it to your shopping list in the app. There are also coupons and push notifications.

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Don’t wait, download the TGI Black Friday App here from the iTunes.

Also be sure to check out my 2014 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide here.

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word, Excel & PowerPoint now more Free on iPad and iPhone

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Earlier this year I didn’t bother covering the release of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on iOS because you needed an Office 365 subscription to do anything and I don’t know any subscribers. Sure we’ve covered “freemium” products here before that have some basic capabilities without paying, but that just wasn’t the case with the Microsoft Suite until now! Now you can download Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint to your iPad and iPhone and do “basic” editing for Free. This means that you can now open and edit native Office documents on your iOS devices and save them back to your device or cloud storage. Microsoft even kicked things up a notch by integrating Dropbox. There’s basically no excuse not to have these apps now. I rarely do any Office type editing and when I needed to do so in the past I would just open those documents and convert them with Apps like Pages and Numbers. With any conversion you stand to lose something and of course it’s more steps especially if you plan to deliver the edited document back to the source.

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I already had these Apps on my iPad and downloaded them yesterday to my iPhone 6 Plus. They worked pretty much as advertised with one small glitch. Initially I skipped past the Dropbox setup figuring I could do it later. When I went to do it later I simply could not find a way to add it in. I finally ended up deleting the app and reinstalling it to get the initial prompt again. The only option I saw once I skipped adding Dropbox was to add in Microsoft’s cloud drive. Dropbox support is huge because it means I can easily work on the same documents either on my Mac or my iOS devices at any time.

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What you get for Free

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First off, Free or Paid, you will need to sign in with your Microsoft Account”. This through me at first because I knew I didn’t have a personal Office 365 Subscription. However, I just signed in with the same email and password that I use on my Xbox 360 and it worked just fine. You can of course create a free account on the spot. Now you can create new documents in Word, Excel or PowerPoint from scratch or using one of the built-in templates. You can open documents from your email or via cloud based storage such as Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox. Once you’re done working on your document you can either save it locally to your device or to the cloud. Once it’s been saved you can share it via email or if it’s in the cloud you can share the link. This will more than satisfy the average casual user such as myself.

What you get if you Pay

Microsoft isn’t in the business of giving away software or services. They have a paid subscription to Microsoft Office called Office 365. With a paid subscription you get more features in each of the apps:

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The Bottom Line

Microsoft realizes what most companies that have a subscription model realize and that is if you want more potential subscribers you have to allow them to use your tools in a trial mode fully functional or a limited “basic” way. The more attached they become to the products, the more likely they are to want to subscribe going forward. With that said, the “basic” editing in these 3 apps is probably all I would ever need since I just don’t do a lot of “office” type work. However, if I ever did need the full power of Office 365, the Office 365 Personal option of only $6.99/month ain’t bad. You would always have the latest versions of the desktop apps, 1TB of cloud storage and the premium editing features on mobile.

You can get Microsoft Word for iPad and iPhone here: iTunes.

You can get Microsoft Excel for iPad and iPhone here: iTunes.

You can get Microsoft PowerPoint for iPad and iPhone here: iTunes.

Google Maps

Google Maps App Now with Open Table and Uber support

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Let’s face it, Apple Maps is not as good as it should be. Therefore we look to other Apps for our daily navigation needs. Google Maps seems to be the gold standard and it keeps getting better. Although Google typically releases new features for their Android platform first, they still see the bigger picture and release updates for iOS as well. This new version has a fresher look that fits in nicely with iOS 8 and I’m happy that Google realizes they can’t be all things to all people. This means they add support for other apps instead of trying to compete directly with them. Who knows if that will continue, but in this version we have support for Open Table and Uber.

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If you locate a restaurant in Google Maps you can now pretty much do everything you need without leaving the app. You can see the menu which is available by the restaurant itself or powered by a 3rd party. You can call them and see the hours and if the restaurant supports Open Table reservations (U.S. Only) you can book your table right there on the spot. Of course you can also get turn-by-turn voice navigation from where you are to the restaurant as well.

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If you’re an Uber user you can now the estimated wait time and trip cost. This will be very nice to have when I’m on the road.

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I also like the new “nearby” view. Google Maps just gave raised the bar for all navigation apps to step up to. It just became that much more useful to me especially when I travel.

You can get Google Maps here from the iTunes.

GIF Keyboard

3 Must Have 3rd Party Keyboard Apps for iOS 8

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Now that iOS 8 allows for 3rd party keyboard apps to be installed, there have been some new entries into this space. Here are my picks for the 3 Must Have 3rd Party Keyboard Apps for iOS 8.

 

GIF Keyboard

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When I smiley face Emoji just isn’t enough you can now send an animated GIF. However, instead of having to find one on the internet or fire up another app, you can just switch to the GIF Keyboard, find the one you like and insert it right into your SMS text message. This keyboard is nicely implemented with categories making it easy to find the GIF you want.

You can get GIF Keyboard here from the iTunes.

 

Swype

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This is a popular 3rd party keyboard on other platforms and now it has made its way to iOS 8. When you bring up the Swype keyboard instead of tapping each letter to spell a word, you simply use your finger to drag through (swype through) the letters that make up that word. It has intellegence built-in to anticipate the word you’re trying to spell even if you don’t hit all the letters. For example when I wanted “cool” I just swiped through “c” “o” and “l” and it knew what I was trying to spell. I can see this keyboard being useful for people that always hitting the wrong keys with the onscreen keyboards of yesterday.

You can get Swype here from the iTunes.

 

Text Expander

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As I mentioned in a previous post, my favorite NEW keyboard is Text Expander. While iOS has had a “shortcut” feature for a while now, Text Expander goes way beyond the built-in iOS shortcut feature. You can configure snippets that are more than just one line. In fact you can do entire paragraphs. Also your snippets can have styling in them.

You can get TextExpander her from the iTunes.

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