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.


Send Emails to A Group of Contacts with Mailshot Pro

I use Contact Groups all the time on my computer for both work and personal correspondence. It’s much easier sending an email to “The Team” than it is to add each individual team member to every new email. While Apple does allow you to sync groups from your desktop Mac or PC to your iDevices, it doesn’t really allow you to use those groups very much on the device itself. For example, one of my requests for years has been “give us the ability to assign ringtones to groups.” While that’s something that everyone may not find useful, I would argue that anyone that has groups would definitely want the ability to email to those groups from time to time. Yet we’re in iOS 5 and still don’t have the ability to email to a group of contacts. To make matters worse if you don’t have a computer, let’s say you’re “PC Free” as Apple likes to tout iOS 5, then you can’t even create or edit groups on your iDevice at all.

Mailshot Pro let’s you create groups and email to them

I have to give credit to my friend Linda S. for turning me on to this App. I almost didn’t believe it until I tried it myself. The App is very simple. You can create your groups within the App manually by selecting your contacts and their email address that you want to send to with the group (if they only have one email address then it will just add them). You can also import contacts from your existing groups to save time. Your new Mailshot Pro group will be added to your Contacts as a single entry. Now you can fire up Mail and just address the new email to that new Contact (group) and once you send it, it will send the email to everyone in the group! This special contact should work in all of your Apps with the exception of email directly from the Contacts App in iOS.

There’s more: You can even use Siri to send to this group because it’s a Contact. Also since your group is a “Contact” it gets sync’d with iCloud across all your devices.

The Bottom Line

If Apple wants to truly go “PC Free” then they need to remove the last few PC only features from iOS such as working with Groups and creating custom ringtones. There are still some things that can only be done if you have a computer. I’m glad to see an App like Mailshot Pro fill in the slack in the meantime.

You can get Mailshot Pro for $3.99 as a Universal App for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch here from the iTunes


Adobe Photoshop Touch Now on iPad 2

While I have a variety of image editing Apps on my iPad and iPhone including Photoshop Express, Adobe Photoshop Touch will most likely make me forget about all of them. As a long time Photoshop user I’ve become accustom to where things are in Photoshop, what they are called and how they work. While there are some great photo editing Apps on iPad already, none of them are actually “Photoshop”. Sure they do the same kinds of image editing tasks, but each one has its own unique interface, terminology and way of doing things.  With Photoshop Touch I’m almost immediately at home with the familiar tool icons and workflows.

Work With Layered Files and Take Them To Photoshop CS5

Not only can I start a project on Photoshop Touch and work in layers, but I can finish what I start on Photoshop CS5. I don’t have to start over and I have access to all the layers that I created on my iPad. I can bring in images via the iPad’s albums, the iPad camera, Google search, Facebook and more importantly via the Adobe Creative Cloud. The Creative Cloud option gives me wireless access to my photos and Touch projects.

Beyond Simple Filters and Effects

While Photoshop Touch does offer a variety of one click effects, it goes beyond this by offering true layering and compositing of multiple images. Very few iPad Apps in this category allow this.


Your finished image can be shared directly to Facebook, Sent via Email or saved to the Camera Roll so that it can be used in any of your other applications. The layered files can also be uploaded to Creative Cloud so that you can use them in Photoshop CS5 on the desktop.

Check out my Introduction Video

The Bottom Line

While Photoshop Touch doesn’t offer every feature of the Photoshop CS5, it does offer most of the most important ones. The layered workflow between the desktop version and the touch version can’t be beat.

You can get Photoshop Touch for iPad for $9.99 here from the iTunes

• Requires iPad 2 and iOS 5. Not available for iPad (first generation).

If you’re looking for a Great Stylus to use with this App, here’s the one I use.



The 2 Best Digital Ink Apps for the iPad

As somebody who used to be hooked on my Palm PDA because of all the time management stuff it could do, my migration to iOS (iPad and iPhone) is far more focused on productivity apps than games. For instance, I’ve bought most of the digital ink, note-taking apps available for the iPad and I’ve recently picked a favorite. Noteshelf.

Main Level of my Noteshelf (above)

In reviewing all of the features of the various digital ink apps available, the single most important thing is how well it translates what you think you’re writing into pixels on the screen. You often hear mentions of the “inking algorithm” and what people are trying to describe is how well the motions of your stylus (or finger) are accurately tracked and saved as digital ink pixels. And when you’re scribbling quickly, if the app can capture your strokes accurately, the algorithm is better. NOTE: Just to be clear, these programs do NOT convert writing into typed characters. (I haven’t found a single OCR for writing that saves more time than it wastes.)

One of the explanation pages from the Noteshelf User Guide (above)

Besides Great Inking…

While I have yet to find a “perfect” digital ink program that always captures exactly what I scribble, there are a half dozen or so that are quite good and on par with one another. So then you start looking at other features which make one inking program better than its competitors. Big features that matter are things like:

  • Does it include an option for typing?
  • Is it easy to find and organize various pages/notes/collections, etc.?
  • Is editing type and ink easy and intuitive?
  • Does it have a “zoom mode” for more accurate writing?
  • Does it have a ‘wrist guard’ so you can rest your hand on the tablet as you write?
  • Can you snap or import photos and then crop, scale, and annotate them?
  • Can you password protect notes?
  • Can notes be shared and printed easily?

With respect to all of these points, Noteshelf is at least as good as the best in class competitors, with one notable exception… It is absolutely the best, most intuitively organized app for taking notes, bar none!

As the name suggests, it uses a bookshelf analogy for visual organization of notebooks. It gives you the option to put as many notebooks as you like on the main shelf, or you can group collections of notebooks together and tapping on the group, opens a 2nd level shelf with as many notebooks as you want. For instance, I have a group of all my notes for work. In that group I have a couple dozen notebooks, each representing a topic. It’s that simple.

Besides great organization, Noteshelf is also the only app I know of, that lets you design and import your own papers, and you can even mix papers within any given notebook. I have several forms we use all the time at my office and I’ve added them as pages to various notebooks. Now I can fill out an ‘official’ form from the office, digitally sign it, and email it as a PDF, all from within  Noteshelf. It also has custom cover options, but that’s just cool and makes the visual organization even nicer. It’s not really a make or break feature.

 The missing big feature

Speaking of big features that you might be looking for, audio recording is not a part of this app. Now, that’s okay with me because I’m rarely in an environment where I can record decent audio while I’m taking notes. I suppose if I were still in college, I would want that function. If that’s you, go for my 2nd favorite note taking app Notability. It does ink and typing as well as anything in Noteshelf and it adds recording audio. – My big problem with Notability is the comparatively difficult organizational structure. My other big problem is that, while the program is very robust, the instructions and tutorials to use it are not. I learned a little from a built in ‘Welcome’ note, some from built in help, some from videos at the developer’s web site, yet I still had unanswered questions about functionality, saving and sharing files, etc.

Notability comparison of how notes are organized (above)

Again, Noteshelf outshines Notability with their very comprehensive getting started note (User Guide). It’s 17 pages and will take 10 or 15 minutes to digest, but if you do, you’ll know everything about the app without any blanks. Then again, because the app is so intuitive, you’re welcome to jump right in and you’ll probably get it.

Noteshelf and Notability are both great digital ink, typing, note taking apps for the iPad, and you’ll love either one. But if intuitive visual organization is important to you, pick Noteshelf. If you need audio recording, pick Notability, and spend some time learning how to keep your notes organized and categorized.

You can get Noteshelf for $5.99 here from the iTunes

You can get Notability for $0.99 here from the iTunes


A word about iPhone compatibility

Unfortunately none of these digital inking apps has an iPhone version available. However, I have found that I can save all my notes (or just selected ones) from Noteshelf or Notability into my free Dropbox account as PDFs and that way I can get to them from my IPhone, even if I can’t edit them.


Markup Brings Website Coding To The iPad

Markup for iPad

Even though I use my iPad less for work and more for enjoyment, it is nice to have apps on it that are capable of doing work too. As a web designer, it feels good to be able to pull up and make changes to a client website directly from my iPad should that need occur. That being said, I don’t have any plans to start doing website work just on the iPad.


Last year I reviewed Textastic, another web editor for the iPad. I have been perfectly happy with it, until I saw one feature of Markup that drew my attention to it. I can save “sites” in it. Being able to save a site with its FTP configuration and working with its files separately from another site is an incredible experience, if not a must.

The editor is clean and simple but very functional. Just pull up a file remotely, no need to store in locally, and start working on it. While this does need an internet connection, it is the best way to work on sites that are now online that you need to edit. If you just want an app to code in locally, this is not the one for you.

Markup for iPad

In summary, Markup offers you a good value for the price it cost, giving you a nice site editor on the iPad that you know will do its job well. If you work with websites regularly, I think this is a good buy.

Get Markup for iPad from the Markup for iPad - Soroush Khanlou


Kayak Pro for All Your Travel Booking Needs

I travel for a living. I also do quite a bit of travel for pleasure too. I have the benefit of using a corporate travel agent when booking travel for work. However, when I travel for pleasure I'm on my own. Sure I've used travel sites like Travelocity and Orbitz. I've used Hotels.com and direct booking booking with airlines and hotel sites. Many of these travel sites have Apps and I've used those too. However, I haven't found an App that can handle all types of booking and one stop shopping like Kayak Pro can. While there are some good Apps out there, Kayak Pro has the best UI that I've seen to date and can take you all the way through the process of not only searching for deals but booking them too. You can book your Flight, Hotel and Rental Car all from within the App. It searches multiple carriers and deals and even lets you make the ultimate choice of which site you book it through.


It's all about the UI

Kayak Pro impresses me most by having a very clean and easy to use user interface. Tap the appropriate form of transportation such as a plane, bed or car and then you're presented with a screen asking for the location you want to travel to/from as well as the dates. Once you hit go, your results will be listed by order of Cheapest first. You can change the sort order to something like "Shortest duration", which would give you non-stop flights first over connecting flights. You can then just tap the deal you want to proceed with the booking. Since Kayak Pro searches the deals of the other travel sites such as Orbitz, CheapTickets.com, etc. it truly is one-stop-shopping. 


Auto-Fill Rocks

Since Kayak Pro can offer booking on any one of a number of sites, it would be tedious having to enter your information in every time you want to do a booking. Therefore, Kayak Pro offers an optional "Auto-Fill" feature where you key in your information such as name, address, phone number etc. once in the App and then it can auto-fill this information for any bookings you make within the App. I used it to book a hotel and every screen that came up within the App asking for my info was already filled in with the exception of the Credit Card info, which the App doesn't offer.


It's Great, but it Could Be Better

The App works great at booking your Flight, Hotel and Car Rentals, but what about trains? There are no rail options. Also it would be nice to have it search for Flights, Hotels and Car Rentals all at the same time as an option as well as booking the whole trip at once.


The Bottom Line

The Kayak Pro App is now my default App for searching for and booking travel deals for my personal trips. While I do use FlightTrack Pro and TripIt, it does have both a flight tracker and "My Trips" function as well to monitor the trips that you book.


It's a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

You can get Kayak Pro for $0.99 here from the iTunes

You can get the FREE Kayak version that has Ads here from the iTunes

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