Free

NikonManualViewer

Nikon Manual Viewer

One of the benefits I’ve been enjoying since the iPad came out (and even with the iPhone before that) is having all of my electronics and camera gear manuals on my iDevices in PDF. Most companies now allow you to download manuals in PDF format. While I’ve got some great PDF viewing and storing Apps on my iDevices, Nikon has released one specifically for their manuals. Now before I go any further I must say that this seems a bit redundant if you already have a PDF viewing App (even the free iBooks App lets you do this) that you love. Also when the App 1st came out it was so buggy that it was basically “unusable”. However, they’ve updated it a couple of times to where I thought I’d give it a second look.

Quick access to manuals for current Nikon gear

Like I said above, I had the manuals for my Nikon cameras, speedlights and other equipment on my iPad before this App came out. I was curious though as to what this App would bring to the table? The first thing is that you don’t have to search around on their website to find the manuals for your gear. All of the available manuals (current gear ONLY) show up right in the App for download. You can download just the ones you want at any time for offline viewing. Once you have the manual(s) you want on your device then you can flip through the pages, do searches and make bookmarks. Nothing earth shattering here, but it does work. As you would expect there is NO Printing capability. Even on Nikon’s regular site you can only download “printable” manuals if you are “registered” for that specific piece of gear. Otherwise the manuals you download freely are for on screen viewing only. The App works as advertised now and is probably very useful for someone who doesn’t have a computer and only has iOS devices as it’s easy to download and view the manuals directly sans iTunes. It is the easiest fastest way to get their manuals on your device.

The Bottom Line

Not sure why Nikon invested in reinventing the wheel here as this was already pretty possible with their existing manuals and pretty much any PDF viewer on iOS? However, this Universal App is FREE and gives you fast access to find the manuals you want. It’s a pity that they don’t let you grab manuals for discontinued gear or even the newly announced gear like the D4 and D800. I’m sure those will be added, but they would have won another star from me had they been available sooner or at launch. This was also a missed opportunity to do MORE. Perhaps some interactive elements to show the features in action. Videos, etc.

You can get the Nikon Manual Viewer for free here from the iTunes

CameraAwesome

Camera Awesome

I must admit that when I saw the news that Smugmug had released a “camera App” for iPhone, I thought “oh no, not another camera App!” After all the built-in camera App in the iPhone 4s has gotten better and there are lots of great camera and editing Apps already on iOS. What more could this new App do? Everyone seemed to be digging it so I decided to download it and give it a shot. The first thing that got me was that it was “Free”. Most good camera Apps are at least 99¢. I’ll come back to the “Free” factor in a minute. I fired up the App and quickly realized that it could probably replace at least two if not three of the Apps i was already using. It has features of the venerable Gorillacam App by Joby such as a burst mode and self-timer. You can also enable a “big button” to allow you to tap anywhere on the screen to take the photo although with iOS 5 I rely on on screen buttons a lot less since you can now using the Volume Up button as your shutter release.

You have a variety of Composition overlays such as rule of thirds, golden and trisec. It also has a separate focus and expose zone. I was also impressed with how fast the camera snaps the pic and adds it to its built-in camera roll.

Effects galore

Once you snap your pic then you can apply a variety of effects including the “Awesomize” effect that automatically adjusts your photo with a slider to control how much of this Awesomeness you get. Although the App is published by Smugmug they did not bias it to just posting pics to their service. You can post pics to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picasa, and Photobucket as well as email and SMS.

Speaking of effects and here’s where the gotcha comes in. While the App is free and you can use it as much as you want with all that I mentioned above, there are SEVERAL in-app purchase options to buy more effects and filters. While it’s not totally in your face about it, it pops up anytime you scroll past the free effects. I guess there’s nothing wrong with this, but it may annoy some.

The Bottom Line

Camera Awesome is definitely worth the download and like I said for many I could see this App replacing many of the Apps you already use including perhaps the built-in Camera App.

You can get Camera Awesome for Free here from the iTunes

Snapseed

Get Snapseed for Free Today

For Valentines Day, Nik Software is giving away the popular app Snapseed for free. It is normally $4.99 and was named iPad App of the Year by Apple in 2011. Here at BestAppSite we have included it in many top app listings. Take the opportunity and get it for free from the App Store if you don't already have it.

Download it from the App Store here: iTunes

Thanks to Gudrun for the heads-up!

Vonage

Vonage Mobile – Offers FREE Vonage to Vonage Calls iOS or Android

I've been a Vonage customer for a few years now. I use their service for my home office phone line. I don't really have any complaints. The service works fine and the call quality is decent. I remember when Vonage released their 1st iPhone App and the extreme disappointment that many Vonage customers had feeling that the mobile App should allow them to use/connect to the service they were already paying for. I never bothered with their 1st App as I saw no benefit to it. Apparently I'm not alone because that App appears to be no longer available. To their credit, they did release the Vonage Extensions App that does allow existing Vonage subscribers to use their smartphones to make international calls that are tied to their existing Vonage accounts that they already pay for.

Now Vonage is back with a NEW App Vonage Mobile. Vonage Mobile appears to want to compete head to head with Skype for FREE or low cost voice calls. The concept is simple. If you download the App for your mobile device and your friends/family download it for their mobile devices (iOS or Android) you can call each other all you want for FREE. Yes even internationally. Vonage, now you have my attention! Sounds very Skypish at this point. It gets better. If you are calling or receiving calls from a regular Vonage customer those are also FREE. Best of all you don't have to be a Vonage subscriber to use this App.

 

How does the App work?

I set up the App on my iPhone 4s. Once you download and launch it you'll be prompted to activate it. They can either text you or call you with an activation code. For whatever reason I didn't receive the text, so the App offered to call me and read off the activation code. Once I got it setup then it offered to Import my contacts. I let it do this (privacy concerns aside) because not only do I want my contacts in the App but it can identify any existing Vonage phone numbers for your contacts and put a little "V"onage logo next to them. Now you know who you can call for FREE. The next thing I wanted to do was test it! I called a few numbers just to try it and they worked. As a matter of coincidence I'd been meaning to call Vonage customer service to get my Vongage phone adapter replaced at home. I figured why not use the App to make this call. I was shocked to see that their toll-free 866 number was NOT a Vonage number???!!! No worries, because for a limited time you can call any number for FREE! Woot! It was nice that the App offered me a choice to call the number using my regular minutes or Vonage credits. My call was crystal clear. 

 

How does it work on iPod touch or iPad?

After I got it going on my iPhone, I was curious to see how it worked on my iPad since technically the iPad isn't a phone? The app took me through the exact same setup procedure where it asked me for my mobile phone number and email address. It texted me another code (this time I got it) and I entered it and it worked. I then tried placing a call from my iPad to my iPhone and oddly enough it worked through the Vonage App. I also tried sending a Vonage Text from the iPad to the iPhone and that works too. It also uses the caller ID of the mobile number you setup the App with. This means that when I placed a call from the iPad to my iPhone, the iPhone showed it as coming from my iPhone "number". A bit confusing, but just keep in mind that you'll need a mobile phone (doesn't have to be an iPhone) to set up the App on your iPad or iPod touch and that any calls you make from your iDevices will appear to the person on the other end as if they are coming from your mobile phone. 

 

What about calls to non-Vonage customers or Apps?

You can call any number you want. However, if you call a non-Vonage number or non-Vonage App user then you'll be prompted to use your Vonage "credits". How do you get Vonage Credits? Vonage did it right by making these an in-app purchase! Unlike Skype where you have to buy credits via their website. Currently they sell either a $4.99 credit or $9.99 credit. You can check the number you wish to call ahead of time in the App to see what the billing rate will be. For example, for me to call a buddy in South Africa it would be 23¢ a minute. Vonage claims to be 70% cheaper than carriers (not hard to believe) and 30% cheaper than Skype for international calls (for those people you're calling that don't have the App). 

 

What could be better?

I'm stoked about this App and having yet one more way to make Free or Cheap calls worldwide. However, they missed the boat on one important feature. Currently there is no support for Bluetooth headsets. This should be an easy one to add since there is an API for it. Also there is no video call support at this time, nor is there a "native" iPad version. Sure this version works on iPad, but in the smaller iPhone screen size. Other than that this App rocks!

You can get Vonage Mobile for Free here from the iTunes or here from the Android Market and for a limited time make free calls even to people that don't have the App (Kudos to Vonage for this trial). 

MagicJack

Make Free Calls from your iPad, iPod touch or iPhone

There are lots of Apps that let you make calls from your iDevices. For example, with the Skype App you can make Skype-to-Skype calls for FREE and even call regular numbers (landline and cell) by using low cost Skype credits. However, this is the first time I’ve seen an App that lets you call any number in the US or Canada for FREE! Zip, zilch, completely free. The folks over at MagicJack that make the low cost accessory that lets you make very inexpensive calls all year long for a low flat price of $19.95-$29.95/year (depending on how many months/years you buy at once). The accessory requires you to use it with your computer and optionally a regular telephone. However, with the MagicJack App all you need is your iPad, iPod touch or iPhone and you can make all the calls you want for FREE. You of course will need either a WiFi or 3G connection to make/receive calls, but this means that it’s not restricted to iPhones. You can just as easily make/receive calls using your WiFi enabled iPad or iPod touch.

 

How does it work?

Once you have the App installed and you setup/log in to your “optional” Free account you’re ready to either direct dial any US/Canada number or dial any of your contacts. The call quality is surprisingly good. Making calls is easy! However, receiving calls is a little more challenging. In order to receive calls you do need the Free account and they will assign you a Free MagicJack phone number. This is where it’s a little more challenging as your MagicJack number is not a standard phone number it’s a number that looks like this: *0123456789* including the “*” on both ends. This is the number that identifies you on the MagicJack system and you can call another MagicJack user using their special number. If you want someone to call you from any other phone then they will need to first dial an access number like this one: 1-305-848-8255. Once they dial the access number they’ll be prompted to enter the MagicJack number that you want to reach. I tested this by calling the access number/my MagicJack number from my iPhone and my iPad rang. Cool!

While the App works fine on iPad, it’s not a universal App and therefore you’ll see it in the standard iPhone size. Not sure if that’s really a big deal since in most cases you’re just using a keypad. However, I do have to give a it a slight ding for not being a universal App.

 

The Bottom Line

It’s hard to go wrong with FREE! Not sure how long this will last, but it’s definitely an App worth installing if you’re on any kind of limited minute plan or you want to make calls from a non-iPhone iDevice. You could perhaps use MagicJack for your personal calls instead of your ‘business iPhone line”. Do us a favor though and use a headset to keep the call private ;-)

You can get the MagicJack App for Free here from the .

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