iPhone

Easily browse all the iPhone compatible apps that we have reviewed here.

Facebook Groups

The New Facebook Groups App

FacebookGroups-iPhone6Plus

When a company decides to break out functionality from it’s main app into a new separate app I keep my fingers crossed that they did so to make that functionality better and easier to use. For example, the Facebook Pages Manager is pretty good. I use it daily to interact with my Facebook fan pages. Also I’m one of those few that didn’t have a problem with the separate Facebook Messenger App. However, with the latter a case could be made that there was really no reason to break out the Messenger functionality. On the other hand I rarely use the Facebook Mentions App as I don’t see really anything that I can’t simply do in the Facebook Pages Manager App. That brings us to the latest Facebook App, Facebook Groups. As you might have guessed, the Facebook Groups app is designed to allow you to interact with the Facebook Groups that you are a part of. With the Facebook Groups App you can easily see which groups you are a part of and more easily jump between them to see and make new posts. You can add members to the group. You can approve new member requests for the closed groups as well as easily change the group’s settings such as name and description, the cover photo, privacy as well as leave a group that you were added to that you really don’t want to be a part of or ones that you no longer have any interest in. You can also search for groups to join. In other words it does the things you would expect from a new app designed to work with Facebook Groups, but that’s about it.

FacebookGroupsSearch-iPhone6Plus

 

There are no features that made me say, “that’s cool!”. Also it would be have been nice to have an iPad version. If you work with Facebook groups on a regular basis, then you’ll want this App simply because it makes accessing your group easier than within the Facebook App.
You can get the Facebook Groups app for free here iTunes.

 

terrywhiteGiftGuideGlobe-255

Gyft - Buy, Send, Upload & Manage Gift Cards with Mobile Wallet

Use Apple Pay in the Gyft App to Buy Electronic Gift Cards

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As much as I love the thought that someone can put into a gift, I’m also just as happy (if not more so) to receive a gift card to one of my favorite stores. It really hard to go wrong these days giving someone a gift card (unless perhaps it’s your significant other and they’ve been dropping hints for 6 months that you haven’t picked up on. What’s wrong with you?). I reviewed the Gyft app a long time ago when it first appeared on the App Store and I’ve had it installed ever since then. I love that even if someone gives you a physical gift card that you can enter it into the Gyft App and display it on screen at checkout time. I used this at P.F. Chang’s and it worked great. The waitress was able to just scan the barcode right on my iPhone’s display. This has saved me on occasion when I have forgotten to bring the physical gift card to the store. The Gyft app has gotten several updates over the years, but this last update brings Apple Pay to the table. If you have an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus or above, you now have one more option to pay for the gift cards that you buy within the app. Now you can browse the various gift cards available, pick out the one you want to give, pay for it with Apple Pay and send it to the recipient electronically. Along with Apple Pay support you can also use Touch ID to access your Gyft Card wallet.

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I guess my only complaint is that while you can choose from hundreds of retailers in one spot, there are still some that are missing. For example, there is no way to buy an “Apple Store” gift card in the app. You can however buy an iTunes Gift Card. I know that Apple was the exclusive reseller of their gift cards for a long time, but recently I saw them available in my local Kroger. While you may not be able to find every retailer in this App I’m pretty sure that you’ll be able to find a few that you would choose from.

Now you can avoid that embarrassing situation where you were supposed to get a gift but you’ve already arrived at the party. At least you’d be able to say “check your email” 😉 Even if you don’t have an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus you should get this app. You can always pay with one of the other options.

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You can get the Gyft App here from the iTunes.

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TGI Black Friday 2015

The Only Black Friday App You’ll Need

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Each year I typically rely on two to three Black Friday Apps to check out the deals. However, this is “BEST” App Site, not best three app site. So I decided to act as if I could only have one Black Friday app installed on my devices and it turns out that TGI Black Friday 2014 was my favorite choice for Best Black Friday App. It won me over based on the overall look and feel of the app. An integrated search feature and the fact that it’s a Universal App for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. You can look at the store ads. You can browse by category or if you’ve got your heart set on specific items you can search for them to see if anyone has them on sale or who has them at the best price. Once you see something you like you can add it to your shopping list in the app. There are also coupons and push notifications.

TGI-BlackFriday_iPhone6Plus

Don’t wait, download the TGI Black Friday App here from the iTunes.

Also be sure to check out my 2014 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide here.

iWatermark+ Watermark App, Photo & Video Batch Watermarking Canon, Save&Share Watermarks

iWatermark+: Watermark your photos in the iOS 8 Photos App

iWatermark+_iPhone6plus

I usually like to have a visual watermark on my photos before posting them to social media. If I’m coming from Lightroom on the desktop no problem, I can export the photos as JPGs with the watermark nicely displayed. However, there are times when I’m either taking the photo with my iPhone or accessing an unwatermarked version via Dropbox or an album in the native Photos app. For years I’ve relied on iWatermark to allow me to easily put my logo on my images right on my iPhone or iPad. However, the newly released iWatermark+ takes this process to a whole new level.

iOS 8 brings “Filters” to the table for the native Photos app

Now that 3rd parties can add filters to the native Photos app in iOS 8, we get to experience many more options without having to leave the Camera Roll/Photos App. We can access better image editing tools and more features that 3rd parties offer in their apps. iWatermark+ can be used in a stand alone fashion as always, but now it can also be used as a filter to in the built-in Photos app for iOS 8. Woohoo! This speeds up my workflow considerably. Now instead of having to launch the iWatermark app each time I want to watermark a photo I can simply do it right in the Photos app where the image already resides. Once you configure the iWatermark+ App with the watermark you wish to use (in my case a PNG file of my logo), you can then just bring up any photo in the Photos app, tap Edit to edit it and tap the Filter button (the circle with the 2 dots in it) and choose iWatermark+ as one of the filters. It remembers the last one you used and more importantly where it was placed on the image. The best part is just like any other Edit in the Photos App, this is a non-destructive change. You can always revert the photo back to its “unedited” state to remove the watermark at any time.

But wait, there’s more…

If I left here I’d be quite happy with this app, but it does so much more that I have to remind myself that it’s not just about a logo. With iWatermark+ you can choose between 6 different watermark types. You can use text, a graphic, a signature, a QR Code, metadata (awesome for those photos where the metadata was stripped away) or steganographic. You can use multiple watermarks as well as watermark several photos at once in batch. You can position the watermark anywhere you like as well as control the size and opacity. Once you watermark your photo(s) you can share it right from the app to Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, the Camera Roll, Email or the clipboard.

The Bottom Line

While visual watermarks don’t necessarily protect your photos from being used without your permission they do add a level of branding and identity to your images that you are posting. It’s also away of promoting yourself if that cat photo you just took goes viral. 🙂 Watermark your photos with ease with this app!

You can get iWatermark+ for your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch here from the iTunes.

Microsoft Word

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

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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.

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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.

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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 - Real-time navigation, traffic, transit, and nearby places

Google Maps App Now with Open Table and Uber support

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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

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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

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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.

Manual – Custom exposure camera

Manual – Custom Exposure Camera for iPhone

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One of the things that iOS 8 brings to the table is an open door to App Developers to access the manual controls for the camera. Well it didn’t take long for Apps to appear in the App Store that take advantage of this new capability. “Manual” is just such an App. This App allows you full control over your image by allowing you to “manually” set the shutter speed, ISO, white balance, focus and exposure bracketing. It even has a pretty cool “live” histogram that I must admit when I first saw it, I thought it was an audio meter. If you were shooting a challenging scene (such as a bright window in the background) with a DSLR, you could switch to manual and set your shutter speed and ISO. Now you have the same flexibility on your iPhone.

Shot with the Manual App on AUTO

Shot with the Manual App on AUTO

Shot with the Manual App after an ISO adjustment

Shot with the Manual App after an ISO adjustment to expose the shadows more

The interface is pretty straight forward and it definitely let’s me do exactly what I want when it comes to exposure control. The only thing I don’t seem to be able to control on my iPhone 5s is aperture. I see it displayed as 2.2, but it’s greyed out and that may be that on the iPhone 5s you can’t change it? Not sure. Otherwise the app does all that it claims to do and you can even switch between automatic and manual within the app.

You can get Manual here 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

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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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