iPhone 4 LED Flashlights Are Here

Of course it didn't take long for 3rd party App developers to figure out how to make a buck by allowing you to turn the iPhone 4's LED camera flash/video light into a Flashlight. It's even rumored that the first Apps to do this were not approved by Apple at first because of "misuse of hardware." Well I guess Apple conceded as long as the developer was willing to put up a warning that using their App for extended periods of time would drain the battery (duh!) Now I must also tell you that there is no magic here and technically you can already do this by firing up the Camera App and switching to Video mode and turning on the Video Light. There you go! You have a Flashlight on your iPhone 4. Why would you pay for another App that basically does the same thing? Ease of use, less taps and more features is why.

I've tested 3 of these Apps so far

My favorite of the bunch is Light-O-Matic. Light-O-Matic gives you a choice of a Strobe (not sure when I'd use that other than a party for 20 somethings), a Flashlight, this is very handy especially considering how much light the iPhone 4's LED puts out, and finally a Morse Code translator. Yep, you just key in the phrase you want to send and the App will translate it into Morse Code for you and flash the LED appropriately. As long as you have a Boy Scout from 60's in range of your signal, you're all set and help will be on the way. Or you could just dial 911, but that's just me. Oh I forgot! You fell in the well, there's no signal and Lassie isn't around :) The novelty of the strobe and "Safety Mode" wore off pretty quickly. However, since it's the same price as the other Apps I've tried and you do get those two additional features, it's my pick. 

You can get Light-O-Matic here from the Light-O-Matic

If you're looking for a simple no frills App that just works as a Flashlight (and strobe) with a single ON/OFF button, the check out the FREE (iAd supported) LED Light for iPhone 4 here from the LED


TextNow Brings Unlimited Texting to your iOS Device

Ask anyone that has a teenager and doesn't have an unlimited texting plan whether or not they've been hit with a surprise overage and bet more often then not you'll hear some horror stories. Most people feel that SMS text messaging charges are quite frankly a rip off. People feel that there isn't really any extra cost associated with SMS messaging so why should they charge such outrageous monthly and overage fees? While I can't say whether or not the wireless providers are full of  crap, I can give you an alternative way of getting unlimited text messaging for a one-time flat fee! 

TextNow offers unlimited SMS and Picture Messaging with a great UI

As you know by now I'm a UI (user interface) freak. Put two apps side-by-side that do the exact same thing, if one looks better and even costs more I'm likely to go with it. However, the price for TextNow is quite reasonable. Here's how it works. You buy the App for $0.99. This gets you 3 months of service, which is actually a good way to try it out first by only spending a buck. Once you're happy, you can then do an in App purchase of $3.99 for a year or (get this) $7.99 for LIFETIME. I just can't imagine spending $3.99 when $7.99 means I'll never have to pay again. However, I guess it's good to have options. You then sign up for your user name @ You have access to your contacts from within the App and for the most part it works just like the built-in iOS Messages App. Great looking UI with a customizable wallpaper screen, sounds and "ringtones" that you can assign to individual contacts. Something I've wanted from the Messages App since day one. You can send and receive all the SMS and picture messages you want. The recipient doesn't need to have an account or even know what TextNow is. Although you don't get a phone number, the messages do come from your "name" that you configure into the App. So people will know who is sending them the text. Also since this App works on the iPad and iPod touch, it means sending and receiving SMS/MMS messages from those devices too.

Awesome Google Voice Integration

One of the surprise benefits of this App for me is that it integrates GREAT with Google Voice. Once you set up your account, you simply forward your Google Voice SMS messages to your email address. They show up in the App like the rest of the messages and when you respond they route through Google Voice to appear as if they are coming from your Google Voice number. So in other words this App puts a beautiful user interface on the Google Voice SMS feature.

You can get TextNow here from the TextNow



Calendars – Google calendar client

The built-in iPhone calendar client is great if you're using iCal or Outlook on the PC to sync to. However, if you prefer Google's online calendar for its more open and free collaboration features, then you're probably going to want a good way to view and work with your Google calendar on your iOS device. That's where Calendars comes in. Calendars is a native Google calendar client app for the iPhone. It syncs directly with Google Calendar and doesn't interfere with the built in Calendar in any way. You can see all of your sync'd calendars right in the app and of course you have the ability to schedule, search, edit, move around or delete your appointments. The nice part of using this App vs. the website is that it works both online and offline. So you can still see your calendar when you don't have a connection to the internet. 

SMS Notifications, Invitations and More

One of the cool features of this app is the ability to have it send you SMS text message reminders of upcoming appointments. Also unlike the native Calendar/MobileMe you can invite people to your appointments. I never understood why iCal allows this for MobileMe calendars, but not the iPhone calendar??? You get the same kinds of views including Month, Week, List and Day views. In Month view you get a cool unique feature that allows you to physically drag an appointment from one day to another just like you can on your computer. Very cool. 

Although I'm not a Google Calendar power user, I can definitely see that if I were this would be the App for me. It's fast elegant and does exactly those things I would expect a calendar to do. My only gripe with it is if Google is not your only calendar, then you would have to look at both the built-in and Calendars App to make sure you're open for an appointment. Otherwise this is THE GOOGLE CALENDAR APP!

You can get Calendars here from the Calendars



If you just gotta print it, use ePrint

I remember a few rumblings when the iPhone and iPod touch came out from people complaining that they didn't have a way to print. This kinda left me scratching my head because in the 3 years I've used an iPhone and the years before that using a Palm Treo, I can't think of anytime I had something up on my phone and said "I need to print this!" I guess I always rationalized that if I'm near a printer, then I'm probably near a computer too. Why not just print from the computer? Now let's fast forward to today when iPads and tablets are all the rage and now we have Apps like Pages, Documents To Go and Numbers that actually allow you to "author" documents on your iPad. This kind of changes the equation a little. With an iPhone, I don't really look at it as a device to create documents as much as I look at it as a device to consume documents. So again I don't think about printing. Even with the iPad, I really don't think about printing either. However, I get a regular stream of questions asking "can I print from my iPad?" So I thought it was time to address this and give you some options.

Apple doesn't build print support into the iDevices

Unlike your Mac or PC, printing is NOT a part of the iOS (well at least not today). So any printing that is done has to be done via a 3rd party app and even then is limited to what's allowed in the iOS Software Developer Kit (SDK). Also since there isn't really a central file system in the iOS, the Apps don't always have an easy way of moving documents from one App to the other. Although this did improve in the iPad and iOS 4 with the "Open In" command. Let's take Apple's own Pages app as an example. You can create documents from scratch. You can move documents back and forth from your computer via iTunes/USB and once you create a Pages document you can either save it in the App or send it via Email or the iWork website. Even pages doesn't support the Open In command to let you move a Pages generated PDF to another App. If you wanted to "print" a Pages document you would have to (gasp) email it to yourself on the iPad from the iPad as a PDF or Word .DOC and then use the Open In command as an attachment to open it in a 3rd party printing App. Definitely not elegant!

Which App?

Today I'm reviewing ePrint. ePrint allows you to print wirelessly (WiFi) to your network printer or to a shared printer connected to a Mac without actually having to install anything special on the Mac. I have a Xerox Phaser 8550DP network Postscript color printer that is plugged in directly to my network via Ethernet. So there is no computer required to drive the printer. When I fired up ePrint it saw both my Xerox Phaser and Epson Stylus R1800 (shared via USB on a Mac). I was able to setup the Xerox in a matter of seconds and printing a test page. 

You can get ePrint here from the ePrint



Use Your iPad as a Second Mac Display with Air Display

If your iPad is just sitting on your desk not being used while you work on your Mac why not use it as a second display? Macs have supported multiple displays ever since the Mac II (introduced in 1987). I gotta admit that when I first heard about the Air Display App I wasn't all that excited. I just didn't think the performance would be good enough since it connects via WiFi. However, I just got around to testing it yesterday via my 802.11n WiFi network and I was really taken back by how well it works! Wow! I downloaded and installed the Mac client. After a reboot and launching the App on my iPad I had the choice of using it as a second display to my MacBook Pro. The next thing you know I was dragging panels over to it from Photoshop CS5. I was dragging Safari browser windows over to it and most importantly I was using it to view images in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 since Lightroom has Second Display support! I was doing this all wirelessly without any hiccups. It just worked. I was also impressed that it even supported the rotation of the iPad display in both portrait and landscape on the fly. Again, it just worked. No lagging to speak of. No issues.

The icing on the cake…

Since your iPad is a touch screen, using the iPad as a second display for your Mac also makes it a touch screen Mac display. This means that you can tap on whatever is on that display to click the mouse on that spot or to make selections. You can drag things around and basically use your finger as the mouse. Now while I've only tried this App on the iPad it was recently updated to work on iPhones and the iPod touch as well. Frankly, with such a small display size (iPhone) I couldn't really see using it on anything smaller than the iPad. Also the only other thing that you have to keep in mind is that although the connection from your Mac to your Air Display iPad is wireless via WiFi, the iPad'd display is going to be on the whole time. So you're most likely going to want to plug in your iPad to AC/USB power as to not suck down the battery. Otherwise, if you're an iPad using Mac user this is one of those must have Apps!

You can get Air Display here from the Air


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