iPad

All of the apps that we have reviewed that have iPad support and are available to use natively on the iPad. If an app is in this index, you won’t have the 2x iPhone app interface.

Microsoft Word

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

MS-word-iPhone6Plus

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.

MS-Excel-iPad

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.

MS-Word-Dropbox-iPhone6Plus

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:

office365-premium

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

google-maps-iPhone6plus

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

textexpander_iPhone6Plus-wide

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

swype_iPhone6Plus

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

textexpander_iPhone6Plus-tall

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.

TextExpander 3 + custom keyboard

TextExpander is my Favorite 3rd Party Keyboard of iOS 8

textexpander_iPad

I’ve been using TextExpander for Mac for years. TextExpander is a shortcut utility that allows you to create “snippets” of text and assign a few keystrokes to insert the text into any application. For example, let’s say you always type directions to enter your building ie. “Enter the parking lot from the 1407 driveway. You can park in front of my suite with the glass door. The Driveway for building 1407 leads around to the LEFT and parking lot between buildings 1407 and 1307. If you go in the 2nd driveway (1307) you’ll end up at the back (garage) door of 1307.” Instead of typing that out each time or pulling up a note to copy it from, you could enter it into TextExpander and assign it a shortcut like “bpkglot”. Just type “bpkglot” in any application and TextExpander will replace it with the full text from the snippet. While this is very handy on my Mac it’s now even more useful on my iOS devices where typing on a smaller, on screen keyboard is harder. Smile Software made a touch version of TextExpander before, it required 3rd party app support and never worked in the native iOS Apps such as Mail or Messages. Now that iOS 8 allows for 3rd party keyboards, Smile has made a new version of TextExpander that allows you to install it as an additional keyboard in iOS. Once installed you can choose to sync your snippets from your Mac via Dropbox and then choose the TextExpander keyboard. Now you can use your TextExpander snippets in ANY application!

I can’t tell you how much this will improve my productivity each day. I have dozens of snippets in TextExpander Mac and now I have access to them on my iPhone and iPad. I would use this keyboard 100% of the time if it also allowed for the iOS 8 feature of Predictive Text, but sadly it doesn’t. Apple probably doesn’t allow 3rd party keyboards to access this feature. Otherwise, TextExpander is a must have and definitely one of my favorite things now that I’ve upgraded to iOS 8.

You can get TextExpander for iOS here .

You can get TextExapnder for Mac here.

1Password - Password Manager and Secure Wallet

5 iOS 8 Features You Don’t Want to Miss

ios8-logo

Now that iOS 8 is out in the wild, I thought I’d share 5 features that are really cool and make iOS that much better. So in no particular order, here we go with 5 iOS 8 features that you don’t want to miss:

 

Turn on “Hey Siri”

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Up until now if you wanted to use Siri, you had to hold down the home button to activate her. Now you can turn on the “Hey Siri” feature in the General Settings. If your iDevice is plugged into power (such as your car), you can just say “Hey Siri” and use Siri as you always do while keeping your hands where they are.

 

See which Apps are using up your battery

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Now in iOS 8 you can go to Settings->General->Usage->Battery Usage and see which apps are using your battery life and the worst offenders.

 

3rd Party Apps can Now use Touch ID

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If you have an iPhone 5s or iPhone 6/iPhone 6 plus then your home button is also a fingerprint scanner (Touch ID). In iOS 7 this could only be used to unlock your iPhone or allow you to download content from the iTunes store without having to enter a password. Now 3rd party apps can take advantage of this very secure “unlocking” method. On of my Favorite Apps, 1Password can now be unlocked with the touch of a finger! I couldn’t be happier.

Get 1Password here iTunes.

 

Attach multiple pics to a SMS/iMessage much easier

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Now you can tap the camera button when composing a text message/iMessage and choose more than one picture from your camera roll without having to go back and forth between the message and the insert command. Bonus Tip: Sending an iMessage? If you hold down the Camera icon you can instantly record a video to send.

 

Keyboard Suggestions

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This is probably the feature I’ll use the most. Keyboard suggestions are awesome and more importantly iOS 8 learns and offer better suggestions based upon who you’re talking to.

 BONUS

Here are 8 Tips and Tricks for iOS 8:

 



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