Free

skype

Skype for iPad is here! Finally!

Bruce's antlers are actually being dynamically displayed with the software that came with his Logitech webcam.

FaceTime is great, but Skype is more prevalent. I would use FaceTime more if it worked over 3G. This is why I'm glad to see a native Skype App come to iPad. Skype calls are not just limited to iOS Devices. The call you see taking place above is between me and my buddy Bruce Mandel. I'm on my iPad 2 and he's on his desktop PC in his office. That's the real beauty of a solution like this. It's more universal! 

How well does it work?

I downloaded the App, logged in with my existing Skype ID and my contacts came up. I was able to see who was online and who wasn't. I was able to initiate free Skype-to-Skype video calls with the tap of a finger. I could also use my Skype credits to call regular phone numbers. Again, this will be extremely more useful to me than FaceTime especially when traveling abroad. The call quality for both voice and video was good. Bruce said that I had about a 2 second lag in my video to my voice. His was perfectly in sync. I would probably attribute that to my slower upload speed where I am. Although there was a lag, the overall experience was very good. I placed a phone call to a regular landline and the call quality was excellent!

The only other minor issue was that when I initiated the video call with the iPad in landscape orientation the person I was calling said that my video was sideways. Rotating the iPad up and back again fixed it. This happened with two different callers.

If you don't have a front facing camera on your iOS device you can still receive Skype video from the other caller. 

You can get Skype for iPad for Free here from the iTunes

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ChaseBank

3 Apps That Offer Check Depositing via your iOS Camera

Yes of course I have Direct Deposit when it comes to my paycheck. However, there are times where I get miscellaneous checks from others and of course these checks need to be deposited in my account. The problem had been making the time and effort to actually drive to the bank/ATM to make the deposit. The good news is that those days are now behind me. I can't remember the last time that I had to take a check to the bank. There are SEVERAL Apps offering this feature and it will vary by location and your financial institution. However, here are 3 that will let you get it done.

 

Chase Bank

Chase Bank was one of the first to offer this and as a matter of fact I ended up getting tired of waiting for my bank to offer it in their App that I opened up a Chase account just for this feature. The cool thing was that Chase even allowed me to open my account and complete everything via their website. To this day I have never been inside a branch!

You can get the Chase App for free here from the iTunes

 

PNC Bank

PNC Bank not long ago updated their App to allow deposits too. Like Chase you take a picture of the front and back of the check, enter the amount and account that you want it deposited to and you're done!

You can get the PNC Bank App for free here from the iTunes

 

PayPal

PayPal is not a bank, but it is synonymous with paying for products online. Now you can deposit checks into your PayPal account directly from your iPhone, iPad 2 or 4th gen iPod touch.

You can get the PayPal App for free here from the iTunes

 

If your bank doesn't offer it, it may be time to apply more pressure to their customer service line. If not, it may be time to switch banks :)

google+

Google+ for iPhone

The one thing I keep hearing the most about Google's NEW Google+ Social Networking site is that it's a nice cross between Facebook and Twitter. It would be as if you sat down and looked at both Facebook & Twitter and then cherry picked some of the best features of each in an attempt to create the next big thing. I've been dabbling with Google+ for a about a week now and I'm startting to know my way around it. Of course no social networking site will be successful without embracing all the popular mobile platforms out there. Google is not stupid. Although they make a competing mobile operating system (Android), they know that in order for Google+ to be a success that they must also support iOS. 

Google+ for iPhone offers the basics that you would expect

With the Google+ iPhone App I can post status updates, check ins, pictures and see the streams of my friends/circles. It also offers the quick messaging feature of Google+ called "huddles". Like Google+ itself the interface of the Google+ for iPhone app is clean and to the point. You can tap one of the 5 buttons on the home screen and get to just about anywhere in Google+. I can't think of really too many things I'd want them to add to the App. However, that's only because the App currently is limited by what you can and can't do on Google+ itself. With that said, there are a few things I'd like to see added to Google+ itself and of course I'd like to see the App evolve as the service does.

There is one thing that leaves me scratching my head

The only issue I ran into is that for some reason the App would not show up to install on my iPad. I knew that it wasn't a native iPad App, however most non-phone related Apps run just fine on the iPad. After doing some digging I found that this is not just an iPad problem. Currently the App doesn't work on the iPod touch either??????!!!!! Huh? That's right! Google+ for iPhone only works on the iPhone. I can't think of a single reason for this restriction. I'm hoping to see this little (OK, freakin' big) problem solved soon. Otherwise if you're iPhone user you can start playing today.

You can get Google+ for iPhone for Free here from the iTunes

You can add me to your Google+ Circles here.

TiVo

TiVo FINALLY brings their App to iPhone and TiVo Series 3

I've enjoyed the TiVo App since day one on my iPad. However, it came at a price. In order to use the original TiVo App you had to not only have an iPad, but also a TiVo Premiere (Series 4) box. I bit the bullet and upgraded to a TiVo Premiere XL, but many loyal TiVo customers were quite ticked off that their perfectly working TiVo HD Series 3 boxes weren't supported. Also it was kind of a pain not to enjoy some of this TiVo remote love on the iPhone/iPod touch. 

TiVo aims to make almost everyone happy this time around

TiVo not only updated their App making it a universal App for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, but they also added limited support for TiVo Series 3 boxes. The first question I had was "what are the limitations on the iPhone and TiVo HD boxes? Since I have an iPad and a TiVo Premiere I can use all of the functions of the App. However, I do also plan to use this on my iPhone and I still have a couple of TiVo HDs.  Here's what you can and can't do:

If you have a TiVo Series 3 or 4 you will be able to see your programming guide, schedule recordings , and control your TiVo remotely while on your WiFi network. However, if you have a TiVo Premiere (series 4) you'll also be able to access your Season Pass manager, ToDo List and browse the list of recorded shows. iPhone users will not be able to start the playback of shows via the remote.

While it would be nice to have all the features on all platforms, it's nice to at least have some functionality for almost everyone.

You can get the TiVo App for Free here from the iTunes

CloudAlbums

CloudAlbums syncs your photos to Dropbox

If you've ever read any of my iPad portfolio App reviews here then you know that I usually ding them all on one thing I'd like to see and that is syncing with Dropbox.com. I love Dropbox and use it all the time for all kinds of things. I pay for their top tier (100GB of space) and have been very happy with the service to date. One of my uses for it is that I use one Adobe Photoshop Lightroom's features called "Hard Drive Publish Service" and this allows me to publish and update a select number of photos to a folder on my hard drive. That folder happens to be in my Dropbox folder. This way I can use sub folders for each subject of my portfolio (beauty, fashion, etc.) and that folder is then sync'd to not only all my computers, but it's also available via the Dropbox App on iOS and Android. What I would LOVE is a portfolio App that not only can load photos from Dropbox (which most do), but actually keep them in sync!

CloudAlbums answers this request

CloudAlbums is NOT a portfolio App. It doesn't have all the cool features of the dedicated portfolio apps such as customization, music, slideshows, transitions, etc., but what it does do is the one thing that the dedicated portfolio apps don't. It can actually "sync" your Albums with the photos in your Dropbox folder. This is great and it's exactly the feature I've been asking for from several developers. The problem is is that it's in the wrong app. :) Don't get me wrong, CloudAlbums isn't trying to be a portfolio app, so it's not their fault. CloudAlbums is an App that designed for ANY user that is tired of having to manually sync photos between your iOS devices and your computer via iTunes. While Apple is promising some cloud photo syncing features with iCloud, CloudAlbums is delivering this functionality today!

How does it work?

Once you launch they App you will be prompted to sign in or create a FREE Dropbox.com account. You can then create your Albums in the App and add photos to those albums via your existing photos on your device. As you might expect this is creating folders (one for each album) in an "Albums" folder in your Public folder. The minute you tap the sync button those photos will be uploaded to your Dropbox folder. While that's great, the real magic is when it works in the other direction. Now you can just drop photos into that folder from your computer and the next time you tap the sync button those photos will be added to your album in CloudAlbums. It's this two way syncing that all the other Apps lack.

As you would probably expect, there is photo sharing via email, Facbook and Twitter right in the App. You can also save images to your Camera Roll to be used by other Apps. There is one catch. While the App is FREE, you only get ONE Album for Free. If you want multiple Albums you can unlock unlimited Albums via a $1.99 In App Purchase. Once you've made the In App purchase you'll be able to easily create additional albums either on your iDevice or on your computer by just creating additional folders in the main Album folder.

 

The Bottom Line

CloudAlbums does EXACTLY what it claims to do and nothing more. The App is targeted towards a broad user base of iOS users that want to easily and wirelessly sync their photos to their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. If you want more in terms of presentation of those photos then you're going to be disappointed. You can see your photos full screen and swipe between them and that's about it. It would be nice if you could rearrange the photos in an Album but I didn't see a way to do that. Lastly and probably most surprising is that there doesn't appear to be any support for landscape orientation and I find that to be very odd for ANY App designed to sync and display photos full screen. 

If you're looking for a way to "sync" photos with Dropbox.com and display them on your iOS device, this is it.

You can get CloudAlbums for Free here from the iTunes

You can sign up for a FREE Dropbox.com account here.

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