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.

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

ZiteUpdated12-12-11

Zite is Finally here for the iPhone!!!

A few months ago I told you guys about my favorite customizable magazine App Zite. At the time it was only available on the iPad and an iPhone version was on my list of things that I wished they would have. I guess someone was paying attention to our pleas because last week Zite released an iPhone version of this wildly popular App, and it lives up every bit to it's iPad counterpart.  As I said in my review of the iPad version, this App has the best of everything. From Customizable content, to an easy to use interface, and an "auto learning" feature this is hands down the premier digital magazine on the iOS platform.

Auto Learn

Just like with the iPad App, Zite for the iPhone offers an auto learning feature for first time users. Zite asks you for access to your Twitter, and Facebook accounts to learn what you are interested in. It searches for keywords in your posts indicating what you like read and talk about. Just like anything "automatic" Zite doesn't always find everything that you're looking for. To address this, Zite allows you to customize your content by adding keywords and topics that interest you. Zite isn't the only App that allows this type of content selection, but Zite is the best by far at gathering items related to your custom topics. From Toads to Space shuttles if you can think of a topic, Zite will deliver articles about it.

Displaying the Content

One thing that i really enjoyed about the Zite for iPad App was the way in which the content was displayed. Small thumbnails with a little bit of the accompanying article displayed next to them. This format has been carried over to the iPhone version. The thumbnails are smaller, but you still get the same description (also shorter) next to them describing a little bit about what is in the article. To access your different topics (seen at the top of the iPhone screen) simple left and right swiping gestures are employed. Different articles are displayed by scrolling up and down under each topic selection.

Helping Zite Learn

Under each article you will find an intuitive "thumbs up" or "thumbs down". This is your way of telling Zite if you like the article or not. This helps Zite learn what topics you specifically like to read about, and which you don't like. The more you give your opinion, the more personalized your magazine becomes.

Share your favorites

Just like with the iPad version, Zite for iPhone allows you to share your articles with the world. The three major options are showed first. Facebook, Twitter, and Email are by far my favorite places to share the things that I've found, but if you want further options tap the more tab. This expands your options to Evernote, Google Reader, Instapaper, Pinboard, and more… Also at the top of the screen is the option to view the article on Safari, indicated by the small world icon. The third option at the top of the screen is text size and style. Don't like the way the text is displayed on your screen, you can customize is (although limited to only a couple of options).

The Bottom Line

Zite is by far my favorite digital magazine App. From the seemingly limitless content options to the easy to use interface, you can't go wrong with this App. It's always on the top of my "must have" lists when a friend asks me what Apps I recommend.

 

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

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