Free

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.

Hyperlapse from Instagram

3 Must Have Apps for Posting Videos to Instagram

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When Instagram opened up the door to allowing people to post short 15 second videos, all of a sudden you were able to see a little more into the lives of the people that you follow. The Instagram app itself allows you to record and post videos directly complete with trimming and effects. Sometimes you need a little more! So here are my top 3 picks for apps to have in your toolkit when it comes to posting videos on Instagram.

Hyperlapse from Instagram

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This is Instagram’s newest app and it’s pretty cool. It let’s you record a longer video, but keep it to the 15 second max by allowing you to speed up the video. This is great for time-lapse, but without having to record for hours. Simply bring up the Hyperlapse app, press the record button to capture the motion in front of you and then once you’re done it will allow you to pick the speed. It will auto adjust the speed to keep it down to 15 seconds or less.
You can get it here as a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch iTunes

 

Crop Video Square Free

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While Instragram now lets you post videos from other sources, unfortunately it offers nothing in terms of making the video fit the square aspect ratio of Instagram. Luckily there is this very cool app called Crop Video Square Free. It allows you to crop/size your videos down to fit perfectly on Instagram.

You can get it here for free iTunes

 

Instaweather Pro

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Instaweather Pro is a great app for posting nice weather information overlays over the pics you take and share. However, the latest version also lets you do this with videos too! You can create some cool weather broadcasts from your favorite spots and let Instaweather Pro do all the work of gathering the information and overlaying it on your video either in real time or afterwards. This is one of my favorite apps for Instagram and with the video feature it’s even more awesome.

You can get it here iTunes

 

Also see 9 Must Have Apps For Instagram Users

Mobile Passport - Officially authorized by the U.S. Customs & Border Protection

Mobile Passport is Finally Here!

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If you travel internationally then you know the joys of long Customs lines upon your return. It’s for this very reason that I signed up for Global Entry as soon as it was available. However, even without Global Entry, I always wondered why Customs was such an analog process. As your plane nears the United States, the flight attendants start handing out Customs forms. Of course most people don’t even have pens with them these days, but anyway you fill out the forms and then present them to a Customs agent after standing in a long line. They form asks the same basic questions about what you’re bringing back into the country.

Well now this process has finally gone electronic!

If you have the NEW Mobile Passport App you can now create a profile including taking a CURRENT photo of yourself (nope the app doesn’t allow you to choose one already saved on your iPhone), the same info that’s on your current passport and save it in the App with a pin number. You can then answer the questions in advance on your iPhone. It will create a digital receipt with a bar code that can be scanned at a kiosk upon your return, therefore bypassing the long lines. Since this is NEW, it has limitations. The first being the airlines. Currently (as of the writing of this review) it’s only supported on Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, Air Tran, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Lufthansa, KLM, Korean Airlines, Southwest and Virgin Atlantic. The second and perhaps the biggest limitation today is that it’s only supported at ONE airport and that’s nation’s busiest airport Atlanta (ATL). If that bugs you, just stay turned. These things take time to roll out. The same was the case with TSA PreCheck. It was only at a few airports at first and only supported by a couple of airlines. Now it’s at just about every airport I’ve flown through in the past year.

 

The Bottom Line

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I’m happy to see this process go electronic for the masses! I don’t think this app will benefit me as a Global Entry member, but it will certainly help when I’m traveling with family members, friends and colleagues that aren’t in Global Entry. By the way, you still need to bring your Passport! This app is only to speed up your return. You still need your regular Passport/IDs for travel. Thanks Dave Helmly for the heads up on this app. The app is iOS only at this point with a “Soon on GooglePlay banner on the developer’s website”.

iTunes.

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