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.

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 .

articles

Read Wikipedia In Style With Articles

Articles App

For a long time, I have had my eyes set on getting Articles, a gorgeous app that allows you to browse Wikipedia in a little more user friendly fashion on the iPhone (and iPad). For various reasons I've never gone ahead and done it but when they had a sale a while ago I couldn't resist.

Articles let's you as I said, browse articles on Wikipedia in a better user interface. Instead of the incredibly annoying mobile version of Wikipedia you get an app which is cleverly designed just as Safari is itself. This means that you can have multiple tabs of Wikipedia searches open at the same time something which is quite useful.

Searching is very easy and the results come back in a nice display. One major gripe I have though is that the useful table of contents isn't available in Articles. Personally I use this all the time to find out where to go in an article or if the article is worth reading. If this isn't there, much of the usefulness has been lost.

On a positive note it will easily share articles via mail as well as bookmark them to its own built-in bookmarking system. Changing between different languages could also be made simpler by only showing the languages an article is available in.

While the app is gorgeous there are a few major flaws to it that stop it from becoming a true wikipedia website replacement, which is sad because it looks so nice. However, if you want an app that displays wikipedia results slightly better than the website, go for it!

iTunes
 

iAnnotatePDF

iAnnotate PDF

  

Over a year ago, I wrote about a product by Aji, LLC, iRead PDF. At the time, this sweet little free PDF reader, along with its sister product iAnnotate, were the only iPad apps that used tabbed viewing to navigate through open documents. Aji LLC understood early on the importance of using tabs instead of having you open/close documents to get from one to the other. Easier to use and the options of having more than one file open at a time was priceless, especially to my teaching workflow.

Shortly, after my iRead PDF review, I switched over to the full-featured iAnnotate PDF, because I realized that I also wanted to (pardon the pun) annotate my PDF files on my iPad. I’ve been happily using it ever since. iRead PDF has since been discontinued.

Timing is everything and in the past year, iAnnotate PDF has seen two major revisions that have made it an even more indispensable app to use. How important is this app to me? Well, it’s on the first page of my iPad and not in a folder.

Just this month, one of those major updates occurred. The entire UI was updated, so I had to discard the images that I was going to use for this article. But, I forgive them. :)

So, let’s take a look at some of the many features iAnnotate PDF has to offer. Let’s start with the feature that won me over, tabbed viewing. As many as eight tabs can be open at one time. The reason I say tabs and not documents is because any one of those tabs can be additional views of one document. This is great so that I don’t have to flip through a long document to get from one desired page to another.

The iAnnotate interface allows quick access to pages in the Navigation Panel by:

Document thumbnails

Document Table of Contents

Markup Annotations

Search Criteria

The Navigation Panel is accessed by a swipe to the small drawer pull at the left middle edge of the UI. Faster than the previous flow of clicking on a small icon the top left of the screen.

A multitude of Tools are accessed by swiping a small drawer pull at the right middle edge of the UI. You can add as many Tools or Toolbars as you like (double arrow icon at bottom of Toolbar) and show or hide them with just a swipe.

Previously, in a few cases, having many Tools on the screen would get in the way while working with the files, this new change takes all of that way.

The Tools used to display in full color, but now only colorize when they are selected. I didn’t think that I would like this. It feels too much like the Lion UI with its monotone look of the Sidebar, which I’m not a fan of. But, I found this pleasing with iAnnotate. They seem to have found the right balance of monotone/color to keep the focus on task.

When a Tool is selected, a tooltip panel also displays a description and other attributes of the selected Tool. Depending on what Tool you are using with text, you may even see a magnification glass display on the document.

In addition to marking up the document pages with features such as highlighting, bookmarks, stamps, lines, quick document navigation, shapes, callouts, text; you can delete pages or even add blank pages to the open PDF. You can add photos (existing or taken with the iPad camera) and audio clips. I hope creating or adding movie files are next. See the accompanying “All Tools” image to see other features not listed here.

An annotation like a signature created with the pencil tool can be turned into a custom stamp, directly within iAnnotate, to use over and over again. I can also connect my iPad to a projector and place iAnnotate in presentation mode to work in real-time during a training session.

In the Library Panel files can be sorted into appropriate folders and files filtered when searching for documents. The accompanying images will give you insight to some of the other features available while in the Library Panel.

Getting files into iAnnotate is relatively easy.

Web download

iTunes

Dropbox

And Aji PDF Service

While I have used Dropbox and Web download for getting documents, I’ve exclusively used Aji PDF Service (a free app for your computer) for processing my PDF files into iAnnotate. Files I typically transfer to my iPad are book size and going through AjI PDF service processed them better and just seemed easier. But I understand that this service will be gradually phased out for a more direct sharing service in the future.

My only feature request is that text alignment in the notation tools be set to left justified and not center justified. Or at least give the options to set which alignment we prefer. Center justified is really awkward when entering multiple lines of text.

iAnnotate is a fantastic app to use for PDF use and annotation on all levels. I find it to be indispensable to my workflow and I’m sure, once you use it, yours too.

You can get iAnnotate PDF for $9.99 here from the iTunes

HarmonyLink

Logitech Harmony Link App Turns Your iDevice into A WiFi Remote

I've seen all kinds of Apps that will turn your iDevice into a remote of some kind. I've reviewed a few in the past. In this case Logitech aims to turn your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch into a Universal WiFi remote. The problem is that the iPhone doesn't have an IR port and most likely your TV, Receiver, Bluray player, etc. weren't designed to be controlled via WiFi. To get around this hardware limitation Logitech sells a small piece of hardware called the Harmony Link (see my review here). The Harmony Link is the bridge between your WiFi network and your IR controlled devices. Once you have the hardware setup then you can head over to the App Store to download their Free Harmony Link App.

Harmony Link for iOS has some great features

First off this is a Universal App taking advantage of iPad and iPhone/iPod touch screen sizes. As you might expect the experience on the iPad is visually more compelling simply because there's more screen real estate. However, having a Universal WiFi Remote in your pocket is pretty cool too. One problem this App solves is one that I've had with every other Universal remote that I've tried and that is the ability to rearrange the buttons to your taste. You can even eliminate ones you never use. For example, if your TV has a Picture in Picture feature, but you never use it and don't even have it setup, then why have that button on screen taking up space? Since this solution works via WiFi there is no reason to point your iDevice at your TV setup. This also means that you can turn stuff on before entering the room or turn stuff off that someone (we won't mention their name) left on. 

The Harmony Link App on the iPad provides additional benefits like a visual guide. It's pretty cool to "see" what's on TV at any given moment and then with the tap of an onscreen button your watching that show. Also since the iPad screen is larger you get almost all the buttons for all the devices of an Activity on screen at once. For example, I can control my TiVo and TV at once. While this works great, I do wish that there was some DVR integration here. I'd like to tap a "Record/Schedule" button without having to go to my TiVo App. However, unlike the experience on the iPhone and iPod touch you can't easily change the button layouts.

 

The Bottom Line

While this isn't an App Only solution, it is probably the best one out there for control a variety of different IR based audio and video gear. I'd like to see some additional customization features and the ability to sync the current status of the Harmony Link between mobile devices. Otherwise, the Harmony Link works as advertised and let's you put away all those remotes you've got lying around.

You can get the Harmony Link device here.

You can get the Harmony Link App for Free from the iTunes

TheWEatherchannel

The Weather Channel

If you're like me the first time that you fired up the weather App on your iPhone or iPad you were left wanting a little more. Sure, the built in App shows you the temperature outside and the 7 day forecast but it shows little else. I wanted to see more. I wanted the ability to see the hour by hour, radar maps and more. Unfortunately the App that comes standard doesn't do any of that. I went searching and found the iOS companion for my favorite weather website, www.weatherchannel.com. This App keeps up the standard of the website and more!

The Usual Suspects

Just like the Weather App that's built in to iOS, The Weather Channel shows you the current temperature outside as well as the next 10 days. These are the things that you would expect from a weather App and TWC doesn't disappoint.

 

The Extras

Features that TWC offers beyond the built in App are numerous. My favorite feature is the bar at the bottom of the screen allowing you to switch between "Now, Hourly, 36 Hour, and 10 day".  These are all different views of the weather showing their respective information. Another of the features that I find really useful is the "Map" section. Under this tab is the radar maps like you find on the desktop version of The Weather Channel. I use the Maps quite a bit and it was one of the features that I looked for when I searched for a weather App.

A Few More

Also housed within TWC are settings for social media allowing you to see tweets about local weather. There are videos to watch including content from your local area, the world, all of the U.S. and "must see" video clips.

The Bottom Line

If you're looking for a free, full featured App that provides just about any option that you could want from a weather App in an easy to use package, TWC is for you.

 

 

You can get The Weather Channel for the iPhone from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes
You can get The Weather Channel for the iPad from tehe iTunes store for free here: iTunes

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