iOS

facebook

Facebook for iPad. It’s here!

Facebook for iPad

It is here. After a long time coming, Facebook has finally released their native iPad app which comes as a universal bundle. If you are not familiar with the terms, this means that the current iPhone app is now updated to allow support for iPad. Just check for updates in iTunes and version 4.0 will include the iPad app and the updated iPhone app in one. Although there is a lot that has changed in the iPhone app, I’m focusing on the iPad app today.

Interface

While using a browser and the normal Facebook version has been OK, the interface of the new iPad app far exceeds what you previously have been able to get using any official or third-party solution. They have clearly spent a considerable amount of thinking when designing the interface because it looks gorgeous and functions really well. Facebook has always put out great interfaces on their mobile apps at launch but then been far to slow to update the app afterwards. Glad to see they are not disappointing when it comes to the interface. We’ll just have to wait and see about the updates, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

It Lacks Features…

First thing’s first. There are some good things. It has become very easy to access your different pages and groups from a nice navigation menu that slides out when you swipe your finger across the screen. Additionally, accessing photos as well as games has become very easy, something Facebook themselves are touting with this app. Unfortunately, the app clearly lacks features! As an example there is no sharing from the iPad app, only commenting and liking. There are other small features here and there that makes the iPad app (and the iPhone app too since it looks and functions the same) just a dumbed down version (albeit good-looking) of the website. It is unfortunate that they have decided to leave just a little bit out, instead of adding it too. After all, we are talking features that Facebook are highlighting well on the main site.

Conclusion

Facebook has come out with a great app and there is no reason not to get it and play with it. It far exceeds any other option in terms of looks and apart from opening the Facebook site in your browser, it beats the other options in functionality. It would be great if they tried to match the features found in the iPad app and on the site, especially given how many use the iPad as their “main Facebooking device”.

Facebook - Facebook, Inc.

NBC

NBC For the iPad

I'm a TV fan. I have quite a few shows that I like to keep up with, so many that I don't have time to sit down and watch them all . Until now, I have relied on my Slingbox and home DVR to keep up with all of my favorite shows. Now, with the recent update to the NBC iPad App I can watch FULL episodes whenever I want!

 

The Basics

From a major corporation like NBC, you expect a quality App. I expect to have a schedule to see all of the upcoming shows and their times. NBC gives you 7 days worth of show times in the schedule in an easy to read and understand format. You would also expect quality show descriptions from an App of this caliber. NBC has you covered with descriptions, episode guides, video clips, and photos of EVERY show.

 

Full Episodes!

With the most recent update to the NBC App, you now can view not only video clips for your favorite shows, but FULL episodes for every show on the App. This is a really nice feature that has been a long time coming. On the main splash page of the App you are presented with the most popular Full Episodes of the last few days. Full episodes for specific shows are accessed by accessing that particular show's page under the "Shows" button at the top of the screen. The shows load quickly and playback is smooth without jumpiness or hesitation. Overall, the Full Episode feature is a quality experience.

 

The Bottom Line

This App is perfect for anyone that loves programming from NBC but doesn't have time to sit and watch all of their favorite shows when they actually air.

 

 

You can get NBC for your iPad for FREE from the iTunes store here: iTunes

measurementhd

Teach Your Kids Measurement With the iPad

Just last month my Twins went to their first day of kindergarten. For the last two years they went to preschool 3 days a week (which they loved) but I don't think they were quite prepared for school "every day". My daughter (who is quite opinionated to say it kindly) announced after her second day that she was tired of going every day and that she was just going to go three days a week like last year. I chuckled and told her that she should probably get used to it because she has about 16 more years of school before she's done.  Since my first day with my iPad I have tried to find Apps that not only keep my children's attention, but also help prepare them for school. Anything that can give them an advantage, or edge in the learning department, I downloaded. Not too long ago I was presented with Measurement HD for the iPad. Like any App to help my kids, I ran through all of the features myself to see if it was a good quality App or something that was going to just confuse them in the long run. I was delighted with what I found. This App not only teaches measurement in the form of length, but also volume, time, months, and scale! And it does it in a way that really keeps their attention. If you have a child in the Kindergarten or 1st grade range, this is a must have App.

Five Sections

As you can see, there are five sections to chose from with really good graphics to entice the kids. Crazy Clock, Scale Tale, Fill Me Up, Long and Short, and Action Month. Each has it's own set of graphics, and lesson to learn, and each is just as good as all of the others at teaching that lesson.

Long & Short

I'm going to start with this section because it's right where my twins went to first. I'm not sure what drew them to this section first, but there was no doubt which one they wanted to play.  Long and Short the child is given a choice of two pictures. The pictures are of items that they are familiar with; Fish, trains, pencils, etc.  They are asked to chose which is the longest or shortest. This question comes not only in text form but audibly as well. When the child chooses correctly the pictures is sprinkled with what I would describe as golden sparkles indicating that they chose correctly. A new set of pictures is then placed on the screen and the process starts over again.

 

Crazy Clock

Crazy Clock, is a pretty fun game, and a really good way for children to learn their time on a "traditional" analog clock. The children are presented with a statement such as the one shown. "I go to playschool at 8 in the morning" They are then asked to move the minute hand until the time is correct. As you can see the "8" is circled to help the children figure out which number they should be on. The clock works just like a real analog clock. As you move the minute hands the hour hand moves. They don't move independently of themselves. This means that the child has to spin the minute hand around past the 12, 2 times to get the correct time. When they do, a loud bell and a congratulations message are heard. This particular game has helped my twins learn their time on an analog clock in about 2 months.

Scale Tale

Scale Tale incorporates a really hungry alien holding two food items in his/her hand. The children are presented with a question as in the other games. In this case, which item is heavier? If the child chooses correctly, the alien eats the food and makes a "yum" sound. It's a great way to help children understand scale with visual support.

Fill Me Up

What I really like about Fill Me Up is that it's a little more interactive than the other games. First the child has to drag the liquid to the containers to "fill them up". In the example above it allowed me to drag three glasses of water to the large jug, and two to the smaller jug. Once that was completed, it then asked me which jug held more water. This game is a really, really good exercise for children to grasp volume. I really think that is has helped my children with the concept.

Action Month

Last but not least is Action Month. This particular game asks the child to drag the letters to their correct place in the name of the month. There is an outline of the month to help the child place the letters correctly. Once all of the letters are placed correctly the name of the month is said, and a little helpful saying about the month is said aloud to help the child remember.

 

Great Learning Tool

As with all of the Apps that have come from PunFlay, this App is a wonderful learning tool that really helps your toddler/young child's developmental skills. I have seen the effect that it has had on my two 5 year old's in just the short amount of time that they have been using it and it's remarkable.

 

You can get Measurement HD for the iPad from the iTunes store for $1.99 here:  iTunes

whatthefont

Identify (almost) Any Font with your iPhone

 

I've been on this single purpose App kick lately. It hasn't been intentional, I have just gone looking for Apps with a single purpose in mind and have found Apps that have been designed with JUST that purpose in mind. The thing is, they do it well! This is what you should expect from an App that only claims to do one thing though. It should do that one thing really, really well. Such is the case with WhatTheFont. I saw a really cool advertisement the other day and I liked the font so much that I wanted to save it in my list of fonts for future projects. The problem was, I had no idea what font it was. Too the App store! I started searching for font recognition Apps in the App store and immediately came across WhatTheFont. It had great reviews, nice looking screen captures, and was FREE. Not just a few free uses then you have to buy more in App "credits" (which is common by the way) but totally free. So read on and check out how it works.

 

Performing Magic…. Kind of

Ok so it's not really magic but if you've ever scoured font lists looking for that font that you saw it will sure feel like magic. To start you either take a photo from your library or take a photograph with the App of whatever word it is that you want to know the font of.  You don't have to fill the frame with the word but the bigger the better. The App then asks you to place a crop around the word that you would like to identify (in my example above you can see that there are plenty of different fonts going on in this picture so dragging a box around the word is important). Once you do this it separates the letters of that particular word into individual squares and gives you the opportunity to correct any letters that it may have guessed wrong.

As you can see it guessed that B was D. A simple correction in the box to the right and you're all set. From this point WhatTheFont uploads your letters to its database to search for a match. Usually what it comes back with is a few different options that are similar. It shows you the word in each font for you to choose.

So now you have your font list. From this point you can select one that looks right and see the entire font family,  forward it via email or select start over.

Do One Thing Well

This App does one thing, and one thing only but it does it really, really well. I haven't found a Font yet that it hasn't identified, but I'm not going to say that there isn't anything that can't fool it. Nothing is perfect. For the great price of FREE you can't go wrong with this App. If you've ever looked at an advertisement, or word and thought "what's that font" this is the perfect App for you.

 

You can get WhatTheFont from the iTunes store for FREE here: iTunes

eye-colorizer

Change Eye Color or Remove Red Eyes

 

As a general rule of thumb, red eyes in a photo are bad. You know the look, someone takes a shot of you with flash in a dark environment and you end up looking like you're possessed. That happened to me a couple of weeks ago. Someone took a picture of my girlfriend and I with my iPhone one Saturday night at a nearby restaurant in Dayton. It was dark. My eyes were red. Up until this point I had never had an issue with red-eye on my iPhone so I had never gone and looked for a solution. What I found was a really good App to not only fix red-eye but change the color of eyes all together! All of this and it's FREE!

What Causes Red-Eye

I know this is an App review but I thought it would be nice if you knew what actually caused the red-eye effect. You usually see red-eye appear when someone has taken a photograph of another person in a dark environment with a flash. The reason this happens has to do with the way our eyes work. When you are in a dark environment your pupils dilate (get larger) to let more light in. When the bright flash goes off what you are seeing is a reflection of the back of the retina. The red comes from the blood vessels. So there you have it, that is why, now lets talk about how to fix it with this great App!

Using Eye Colorizer

The core function of this App is to change the color of the eyes. In building an App that does a really great job of that, by default it works really well at removing red-eye. Getting images into the App is easy. There are two choices available to the user. Either load an image from the library or take a photograph. Once your image is loaded the App automatically detects where the eyes are located and zooms in. If there is more than one set of eyes the App chooses one and zooms in. (If you have more than one set of eyes, you work on the first set, then at the end add the second set) Once you have selected your eyes you are presented with lots of controls. You are able to change the outer and inner color of the eyes (the inner color is where you would fix the red-eyes).  Adjustable also is the hue, and pattern of color on the eyes. Once all of the adjustments have been made, there is an eraser to remove any unwanted "spillage" of color around the eye. Pinch to zoom in or out of the eyes to get the details perfect.

On the opening screen (along with the camera and library option) is an instructions button. This will take you to instructions with screen shots. These are some of the most thorough instructions that I have seen on an App. I am very impressed with them.

 

Paid Version

While I'm using the free version of Eye Colorizer, there is also a paid version for $1.99. The additional features of the paid version include the removal of all Ads, the addition of a rainbow effect as an eye color option, and a "splash" button that grays out the background and leaves the eyes in color while you're working on them. Personally, I don't see a need for any of those features so I'm sticking with the free version, however I have included the link to the paid version below if those are features that you feel you just can't live without.

 

Should you get it?

If you've every experienced the dreaded red-eye in a photo (who hasn't), especially on the iPhone, this App should be in your arsenal of photo editing tools. For the great price of Free, you have nothing to lose. I'm certain however, that if you download it you won't be disappointed with the quality of the final product.

 

You can get Eye Colorizer Free for your iPhone from the iTunes store for Free here: iTunes
You can get Eye Colorizer Paid for your iPhone from the iTunes store for $1.99 here: iTunes

DerManDar

Simple Panoramic Images With DerMandar

Not too long ago to take a panoramic photograph you needed an expensive camera, and a tripod. Then digital came along with Photoshop making it possible to stitch together images to make a pano but you still needed a tripod and images that overlap each other. Now we have "an App for that". I've been playing around with DerManDar for about a week and a half now and I love it! This App makes it incredibly, incredibly easy to create a panoramic right in your iPhone, iPad2, or 4th Gen iPod Touch.  Not only does it make it easy to create them, but it makes it really easy to share them as well.

Making Panos Easy

What really makes this App nice is the "Ying and Yang". To create a pano with DerManDar you tap the camera button located at the bottom of the screen. The App utilizes the iPhone's gyroscope telling you when the phone is being held vertically via the ying and the yang at the top middle of the screen. Once you position the phone perfectly vertical the first picture will be taken. Then you rotate your phone to the left or the right (while keeping it vertical) until the ying and yang symbols come together. At that point the App takes the photograph automatically. You continue this until you have taken all of the images you want for the pano. Once you have taken all of the images that you want, you tap the camera symbol again. Stitching is done surprisingly quickly and your preview shows up within a few seconds. At this point you are presented with a pano that rotates from left to right full screen on your device. Tapping the "Keep" button at the top of the screen saves your newly created image to your camera roll. If that's all that you want to do with your image, you're done. If you want to share the image there are many more options.

Sharing

There are a ton of options to share your image. Of course you can share via email. That is a must for any image App, but you also have the option of sharing via Facebook or Twitter. Beyond that, you also have the option to upload the image to the DerManDar site. Why would you want ANOTHER place to navigate to you ask.. Well, if you want to animate your image just like it's animated on your phone, their site lets you do it. You can link to your image on Facebook and other social networks (Google+ anyone?) by simply inserting the direct link to your image. This is a really cool feature that I have been taking advantage of. Of course you can always add your image like normal as I did above but I like the interactive version better. 

I recommended this App to a good friend of mine Frank Tuttle of Tuttle Images who happens to be in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a week and he sent me a couple of really cool panos.

 

 

Conclusion

For the price of Free, this is a really good Pano App. Even if it wasn't free, this is a really good pano App. Head over to pick this App up now I'm betting you won't be disappointed.

Get DerManDar for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad2 at the iTunes store for FREE here iTunes

Time-Warner-Cable

Time Warner Update

 

A little while ago Time Warner updated their iPad App with some much needed features. They actually did this a few weeks ago and I've been meaning to do an update on it but I'm just now getting a chance to do it. They added three features for this update, all of which are a big deal. The biggest (for me) is remote DVR manager, but they have also expanded their programming offering, and added an interactive program guide. These are features that I have been asking for since they launched this App, so I'm excited to see them!

 

Control Your DVR

With version 2.0 you can now control your DVR right from your iPad. You can add, delete, control the start and end time, as well as control how long to save the show. All of the controls that you find on your set top box minus the series manager control. Still this is a huge improvement over not having any control at all.

Additional Programs!

This is almost as important to me as DVR control. Time Warner has added a bunch of new channels bringing the total to well over 100! I wasn't unhappy with the channel offering before but there should be something for everyone!

 

Interactive Programming Guide

This is a two part upgrade. First they have added the ability to see (up to) 7 days worth of programming on the guide. This is much better than the previous 2 hours ahead.  Secondly, it is now interactive so you can actually tap a show in the future to record it on your DVR. When you select a show in the future you have the option to record just that show or the entire series. This is a really nice upgrade and feels like it should have all along.

 

Jailbreak Workaround

The only downside to this updated version of the App is that Time Warner has blocked access to jailbroken devices. I'm assuming that they did this to try to prevent jailbreak developers from allowing access to the content outside of the home network. Luckily there is a workaround for it. You guys know me, all of my devices are Jailbroken so I had to find a way around this restriction or I wasn't going to use the App. Go here to find the step by step guide for bypassing the restriction.

 

 

Update:

The day after I wrote this, Time Warner released version 2.0.1. There aren't any new features with this update just bug fixes and improvements. The Jailbreak workaround still works.

You can download the Time Warner App for the iPad from the iTunes store for free here iTunes

 

Odd1Out

Teach Kids Shapes, Fruit, and Colors on the iPad

 

I'm starting to sound like a broken record I'm sure, but it bears repeating; my twins are my world. As their father it is my responsibility to give them every opportunity to excel that I can. With that in mind, Apps like Odd1Out grab my attention first. There are tons of Apps out there that have pretty graphics and sounds to keep my young kids occupied or entertained but this App not only has those qualities but it also teaches them decision making skills. 

 

How it works

The basic idea is the player is presented with a shape, fruit, or a color and asked to pick the same item out of groupings of similar items crossing the screen. For example, on the screen above you see that I was playing the "fruit" section. My fruit was peaches. For every peach I successfully selected I was awarded a star. For every fruit that I selected that wasn't a peach a star was taken away. Simple principal but effective. The version I was playing was the practice game. It's easier and gets the child accustomed to the game and how to play. The challenge game starts off just like the practice version but quickly becomes harder as you advance levels.

Design

As you know, we here at Best App Site are big on the UI (user interface) and Odd1Out doesn't disappoint. The buttons, controls and hierarchy are really well thought out and easy to understand. The graphics are good quality and seem to have a lot of thought put into them. Whether it's a beetle, bee, or ant carrying your selected item the movement is fluid with no stuttering or pixelation.

 

That's it!

That's it! There isn't anything else to this App. Even though the App is simplistic at heart, it really keeps my 5 year old's attention and teaches them quality skills at the same time! This is a really good App to help your child learn their Shapes, colors, and fruit in a fun and enjoyable way.

 

You can get Odd1Out from the iTunes store for $.99 here iTunes
 

Zite

Zite A Personalized Magazine for the iPad

The other day I was having lunch with David Ziser and he was going on about his favorite new iPad App, Zite. After hearing him talk about how much he liked it and how it blew the competitors away, I figured I should try it.  Zite is a customizable magazine App for the iPad. Not the first of it's kind but definitely the best. With custom content addition, auto learning, and an awesome interface this is my new favorite Magazine App.

 

Auto learning

The first thing that struck me as different about Zite was it's auto learn feature. Not really auto learning so much as it takes your interests from either Twtter, or Google reader (whichever you decide to log in with) and creates custom content for you. You don't have to sign in with these services to to use Zite however. You can skip this step and choose your content categories manually.  I signed in with my Twitter account and Zite determined that I like Gadgets, Macs, Photography, Social media, technology, etc.. All of these things were correct. I was thoroughly impressed with this feature, and could have spent hours reading up on the content that it provided without and addition input from me.

 

Choosing More Content

While the auto learning feature did an outstanding job of picking categories and content that I enjoy, there were still a few things that I wanted to add from their list of sections. Doing so was easy. At the bottom of the sections list on the right side of the screen is a customize option. You are then presented with a list of different popular categories. I added Fashion (something that I want to keep up on for fashion photography), and Sports.

The second part of adding more content is adding custom content. Under the same "customize" option on the right side of the screen you find a "enter your own" box. This box allows you to type your own content interest and search it. I added Adobe, Photoshop, iPad, iPhone, iOS Apps etc.

Quality User Interface

One of the nicest parts of this App is the user interface. It has a distinctive magazine feel to it. Articles are laid out in Top Stories format (all topics mixed up), or by section. Choosing a specific section will get you expanded content on that particular topic that may or may not be covered in the Top Stories section. The transition between articles is smooth and the page turns are precise and handled well within the App. There aren't a lot of unneeded buttons or tabs to clutter the screen. Zite has done a wonderful job with this setup.

Conclusion

The auto learning feature, coupled with the ability to add custom content, combined with the slick user interface makes this my new favorite custom magazine App.

You can get Zite for the iPad from the iTunes store for free here:  iTunes

Adobe Photoshop Express for iOS

Photoshop Express 1.5 adds Background Uploads

Adobe has released an update today to Photoshop Express for iOS, now in version 1.5, adding quite a few noticeable features. Firstly, the app now enabled batch capturing of photos together with a review mode for looking through images. The update also includes support for the Retina display on the iPhone 4.

Finally, the most important update is with some iOS 4.2 features, enabling the app to be able to upload photos in the background. This means that you no longer have to stick around waiting for your photos to get uploaded before moving on and doing something else.

Adobe Photoshop Express - Adobe Systems Incorporated

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