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.

navigon

Navigon 2.0 is Here for iOS!

 

My favorite Turn-by-Turn voice GPS Navigation App has just been updated with a slicker, smarter interface. The 1st big change is that App has been cut down significantly in size. The North America version used to weigh in at about 1.7GB. Now the update is about 44MB in size. How can it get so small you ask? The good folks at Navigon took a brilliant approach in letting you selectively download the states/providences that you need. This is AWESOME! If i'm never going to drive through Alabama or Arkansas then why have those maps taking up space on my device? You can pick which states to download whenever you want.  You do have to be in Wi-Fi to download a state, but once it's downloaded you won't need a data connection at all to use the App. I downloaded Michigan (36.9MB) in a matter of just a few minutes over my WiFi/Cable connection. The next thing I noticed was that the new app launches SIGNIFICANTLY faster. Perhaps this is due to the weight loss :) I'm not a fan of GPS apps that require a constant data connection as the maps are in cloud. Navigon's new approach is a perfect blend between the flexibility of only loading what you need AND not requiring a data connection to use the App once the maps are on your device.

 

Nice and clean UI

I'm a User Interface (UI) freak and have never been blown away by any GPS navigation system. I'm not saying that this new interface blows me away, but it's certainly WAY cleaner than before and probably will send several competitors back to the design boards. The menus are animated, but not in an obnoxious way. I like the little pull downs to quickly access things you need while navigating. Most of all I like not having to dig through several menus to find the things that should be at the top level. Great job!

The same In-App purchases are available and yes it will allow you to restore the ones you've already purchased. In my case I got the Lifetime LIVE Traffic, Panorama 3D view and Radar Info. They've added a new one called FreshMaps XL that gives you a 1 year quarterly Map update with not only new/changed roads, but they promise tons of POI additions/updates. It's only $14.99 but I'll pass on it for now since this update includes the latest maps for free!

There is one gotcha with this update! The 1st and only problem I've run into so far is that you lose all your saved Favorites. That really sucks since there is NO WARNING! When you fire up the new app they're just not there anymore. I'm hoping that this is just a bug and that they can fix it so that anyone else that's upgrading will be able to either keep their Favorites or back them up and restore them. Navigon shame on you for not warning us about this or allow saved Favorites to come into version 2.0. Otherwise, this update rocks!

 

UPDATE! The Favorites ARE there! They just won't show up unless you download the Maps/States that they are for. Makes sense, thanks goes to David Lumsden for his troubleshooting help in the comments below! Now I'm even happier about this update!

 

Price drops until November 30th:

Navigon North America is now only $39.99 iTunes

Navigon USA is only $29.99 iTunes

Navigon My Region is now only $19.99

East iTunes

Central iTunes

West iTunes

News360

News360 Finally Finds Its Way to The iPhone

If you're anything like me, you're busy. As busy as I am I don't want to spend my time searching through all sorts of sites looking for the latest news that interests me. Admittedly I really like the Zite iPad News Reader App on the iPad platform. I have been hoping for an iPhone version to read my content in both places but unfortunately they haven't launched the iPhone version yet. With no iPhone version, I started using News360 to keep up with the latest news and headlines.

Features You'll Love

News360 is a feature rich App that provides thousands of different content sources from which to pull its content. One of the biggest, and best features contained within News360 is the manner in which it figures out what you want to read. Sure, you have the option to manually select the content that you would like to see. News, Auto, technology etc., but the developers have come up with a much faster way to get deeper integration with what you really want to read about. You are presented with the option to connect to multiple sites where you already have accounts to let News360 search for the content that you prefer. The options are Facebook, Google+, Evernote, Twitter, and Google Reader. News 360 searches through each of these services to find exactly what you are interested in and provides like content. In a few seconds it does automatically what it would take literally hours for a user to do manually. It's a real time saver.

Another feature that I really like on News360 is the offline content feature. Save articles to read later even when you're offline. News360 saves the article to your (free) News360 account and to all of your devices with the App installed. This is great for when I don't have a signal, such as in an airplane, a subway, etc. Speaking of the News360 account, it allows you to sync your preferences and content selection across all of your platforms. This is a really nice feature. Sign up once, on one device to setup your content, then just sign in on your other devices to transfer your content to them. Very seamless, very easy.

Topics are broken down into sections, Gadgets, Software, Computers, etc. Under each section there are multiple stories presented for each topic. The topics are totally customizable by the user. For example I didn't see an "iPhone" topic after the initial automatic content loading so I added my own. If there is one area where News360 falls behind it is in this category. I searched for "iPhone Apps" but got a "no results found" message in return. Also under my user generated iPhone category there seems to be less stories than in the other automatically generated sections. This I found to be a little limiting because these are topics that I am quite interested in. 

 

The bottom line

For all around information on most any subject, News360 does a great job. It allows you to sync and read the same content no matter what mobile platform you are on, and it is user customizable. To me this makes News360 a staple in my News Folder on both my iPad and iPhone.

 

You can get News360 for the iPhone from the iTunes store for free here:  iTunes
You can get News360 for teh iPad from the iTunes store for free here:      iTunes

SystemActivityMonitor

System Activity Monitor for iOS

There have been a few reports going around lately about people having problems with battery life after upgrading to iOS 5 or to the new iPhone 4s. While I haven't had any real issues myself with the iPhone 4s, it's great to know whether or not if an App has run a muck and is chewing up system resources. One sign of this is if your iPhone or other iDevice is all of a sudden warm to the touch. This usually means that the processor is working overtime. When that happens you can try things like quitting some of the Apps running in the background or a simple reboot of the device. However, I would like to do more than just solve this problem temporarily, I'd like to know which app in particular is causing the problem?

System Activity Monitor shows what's going on in real-time

This App is similar to the Mac OS Activity Monitor in that it shows you in real time which apps or processes are running and more importantly which ones are running with high amounts of processor time. If you're not playing a game or doing something else that would task the processor then your device should be running with the majority of the processor count in "idle." If it's not, you can quickly identify which App or process is causing a problem.

I highly recommend System Activity Monitor as a troubleshooting tool!

You can get System Activity Monitor for $0.99 here from the iTunes

AlphaTots

AlphaTots Alphabet Learning App

The alphabet is the core of the English language. Reading and writing start with knowing each and every letter, how they sound, and the words that they're associated with. This is why it is so important to teach the alphabet to our children at an early age. Any App that helps do that, and keeps my 5 year old twins interested at the same time catches my attention. AlpaTots does just that. With the interactive activities attached to each letter, and the alphabet sing along, this is a great App to help in the learning process.

 

Keep It Interesting

Keeping a child's attention is one of the hardest things to do. My children (they're 5 years old) have the attention span of a gnat. They don't stay tuned in to any one thing very long. Even TV doesn't put them in a trance like it does some other children. AlphaTots manages to keep their attention for a long period of time; sometimes as long as an hour. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is an accomplishment for my children believe me. The way this App does it is by offering so many different "things to do" within it.  Each letter has an activity attached to it. This means that there are 26 different "things" for my children to do which keeps them entertained. Each activity is associated with the particular word that they chose to represent that letter. For example, U is represented by the word "unlock". For this they show a chest and tell the children to unlock the chest. To do this they have to line up the shapes in three separate wheels (similar to a slot machine). This keeps them doing something fun, and also helps with shape identification and matching! This isn't a new concept within children's learning Apps, but the simplicity and effectiveness is second to none.

The ease of use is found throughout the App. The letters are easy to navigate to from the home screen. Advancing to the next letter after completing the activity is intuitive and simple, and there are words of praise throughout the entire process.

The Alphabet Song

When I was a little kid, no one thing helped me learn my letters more than the alphabet song, as I'm sure it has helped millions of others. Knowing this, AlphaTots included the alphabet song into the App. Tapping on the music notes in the lower right hand corner of the screen brings up a new screen that not only plays the alphabet song, but also displays the letters as it sings it to your child. My children can sing the song word for word, but they still enjoy this feature of the App and play the song at least once every time they are using the App.

 

The Bottom Line

You can't go wrong with a children's App that not only teaches your child the alphabet, but helps them enjoy the learning process while they're doing it. This App will help your child learn their ABC's very, very quickly.

 

You can get AlphaTots for the iPad from the iTunes store for $1.99 here: iTunes
You can get AlphaTots for the iPhone from the iTunes store for $.99 here: iTunes

verbs-icon

Verbs: An Instant Messaging Client

Truth to be told, I haven’t been a very active IM user on my iPhone or iPad. This is partly because the apps have been rather ugly and that it drains battery life a lot and fast. Plus, it just hasn’t been that useful. A while ago I found Verbs, an application that is just gorgeous and since I’m a sucker for beautiful apps, I downloaded it.

The interface is as said really beautiful. It takes the iOS style and uses it all the way but with a different color scheme which looks slick, modern and clean all around. There is really not much more to say about the Verbs UI design. Well done designers.

Functionality-wise, it supports a few types of IM networks, specifically Google Talk, AIM, MobileMe (now iCloud) and Facebook. If you are an MSN user or wants it to support Skype chat, you are out of luck. However, using either of the above networks, you get a nice app. You can easily select contacts from your buddy list, see their status and chat with them. Switching between multiple windows can be done by going to a window overview mode, or by simply swiping back and forth between the screens.

If you get the $0.99 version there are a few things that you will not get. These are available through an in-app purchase and enables Push Notifications, persistent connections (keeping you logged in for 7 days) and also saves battery life by routing accounts through one internet connection. If you use IM a lot, you definitely want to consider getting the Pro version for an additional $4.99, which I still think is an excellent value. Even with just the $0.99 version, you get an app which functions well and is gorgeous.

iTunes

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