Camera Plus Pro wants to replace the Camera App on the iPhone

The camera in the iPhone has always been "OK", not horrible, but certainly far from perfect. Chances are if you're a hardcore iPhone user then you have at least 2-3 iPhone Apps for shooting, editing and sharing your photos/video. The built-in camera App is very basic. It lets you take a photo or video (iPhone 3GS only) and share it via email, MMS or MobileMe. If you want to do any kind of editing or sharing beyond what's built-in then you'll need a 3rd party app. It's odd that Apple lets you trim video on the 3GS but doesn't offer any photo editing at all. They leave it all up to 3rd party developers. Also if you want to capture video on a previous generation iPhone you'll need a 3rd party App for sure. Camera Plus Pro attempts to give you everything you'll need in one app.

When you add this many features you also add complexity

Let's start with what you get in this App:

  • Video Recording Modes on the iPhone 2G, 3G, 3GS
  • Live and Smooth Zoom
  • Live Filters: B/W, Sepia, Invert, Sin City Red, Hulk Green, Avatar Blue
  • Upload video to YouTube,  Facebook and Twitter with Title and Description
  • Send video via Email
  • Geotag Videos and share location on YouTube
  • Password Protect your Private videos with the built-in Password Feture
  • Tag videos
  • Tap to focus for 3GS
  • Big Button (tap anywhere on the screen to fire the shutter)
  • Anti-Shake & Grid Overlay
  • Timer – up to 10 seconds
  • Point Zoom to a particular Point
  • Geotag photos and share with Picasa and Facebook
  • Tag your photos
  • Adjust brightness, contrast, sharpness, hue, saturation, temperature, tint
  • Add soft Flash
  • Crop in various shapes like rectangle, circle, oval
  • Rotate photos
  • Add Watermark & Date
  • Edit Geotag
  • Share single or multiple photos to Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Picasa and Email
  • Adjust Photo quality before sharing for faster uploading

Yep, that's a TON of features for the asking price and certainly can eliminate the multiple apps that you may be using. However, like most things with a long feature list there is a learning curve. This App is GREAT and a joy to use. There are four simple buttons at the bottom of the screen to bring up the menu for the mode you're in, show the built-in Fast Camera Roll, Shoot and toggle between still and video. My only issue with the app is that I have to constantly remember what the icons mean in each module (there is no hover state to give you popup help on a touch screen). Again, this will probably become second nature the more you use the App and you probably won't use every feature often anyway. I'm impressed with what you get for the asking price and would definitely recommend this to people looking for one App that does it all. Just be prepared to spend some time getting up to speed. For non 3GS owners this is a no brainer! It gives you all of the above AND the ability to record video. Just get it!

Here on the App Store: Camera Plus Pro: Photo+video record on 3G, 3GS, 2G, effects, live zoom!



Scanner Pro turns your iPhone into a Document Scanner

As a business traveler i have to do expense reports on a regular basis. For certain out of pocket expenses I'm required to submit copies of my receipts in PDF to our online expense system. Although I have some great document scanners at home, I don't travel with them. However, I always have my iPhone 3GS with me. The great thing about the 3GS in particular is that it has better macro lens support so using it to shoot documents is actually quite feasible.

Scanner Pro lets you use your iPhone to capture documents

Scanner Pro isn't the first App I've tried for this task. However, I was intrigued by the sharing features in particular the direct support to upload to Evernote. I also like the fact that you can transfer documents via WiFi and password protect your documents from view. 

How does it work? The user interface is very straight forward. You start with either the iPhone camera and take a picture of your document or one that you've already shot that's on your Camera Roll/Library. Then you can choose the edges for better framing or have it select all. You can work with color or convert it to grayscale. There's even a software based image stabilization feature to capture a better image in the first place. Once you get your shot you can also adjust the Contrast and Brightness. Then you can choose to upload it to Evernote, your Photo Library, your MobileMe iDisk, Dropbox or other WebDAV server. If you have the optional Print n Share app installed you can even print it from your iPhone. Lastly you can of course email it out directly from within the app. 

I just used it to do my last expense report for work and it worked great! I also like the ability to combine multiple scans into one multiple page PDF right in the app. However, I don't see a way to combine multiple PDFs together after the fact. In other words you need to do them all at the same time while you're creating them in the App. Another nice bonus is the built-in help/manual. I wish more Apps did that.

You can get Scanner Pro here from the App Store: 

Scanner Pro



ReaddleDocs gets it right for PDF viewing on the iPad

Although eBooks are great you give up a lot when it comes to formatting. That's why I think Adobe PDFs are a better alternative for content rich documents. The problem is that although the iPad and iPhone both support PDFs natively, they don't have a built-in dedicated PDF viewer. Sure you can view PDF email attachments and PDFs in Safari on the web, but what if you just want to load up a bunch of PDFs on your device and view them whenever you need to? That's where an App like ReaddleDocs comes in. Now of course ReaddleDocs is not the first App of this type I've reviewed and quite frankly I wasn't even sure that I wanted to take a look at yet another one. However, I'm glad I did because I'm very impressed by what I've seen so far. My goal is to have all of my reference manuals for my photography gear in PDF on my iPad. The beauty of this is that the equipment manufacturers already provide downloadable PDFs of their manuals online. So I have them already. Now it's just a matter of choosing the ultimate "Best App" for carrying them around and viewing them as needed. So the things that are important to me are ease and flexibility of getting the PDFs onto the iPad and into the App. I want to be able to do keyword searches. If the PDF has bookmarks (a table of contents), then I want to be able to pull it up and tap to goto a section that I want to read. Also since I help out other people from time to time, it would be great to be able to select text in the PDF and copy and paste it into an email to send to someone. 

ReaddleDocs does everything I want

I wouldn't even be reviewing this App if it didn't nail everything I want or at least 90% of it, so YES! ReaddleDocs does a great job matching features up against my requrements. First you can load PDFs into the App/iPad either via iTunes and a USB cable or via WiFi. Once the PDFs are on your iPad you can choose them from the list and view them. I really like how uncluttered the user interface (UI) is compared to other Apps in this category and I really like the scroll knob on the right side to quickly scroll through the pages. It's very unobtrusive. Yes, there is a search feature (a must have for me) and yes you can view the Bookmarks and tap to go to a chapter. You can even add your own bookmarks. So if there is a particular page that you are constantly going to you can bookmark it yourself to make it easy to jump to from here on out. Another cool feature that makes me love this App is that you can configure it with your email account info and it can pull in PDF email attachments that you've received. 

Turning pages – One thing about these apps that always throws me is that I expect be able to flip the pages left to right. However, they act more like your computer and you "scroll" or flick up and down. This is not necessarily a bad thing in the App, but it's just not the behavior my brain expects.

Other document support - Just like the iPad itself ReaddleDocs can view Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents as well as iWork documents. 

Video Support! – A nice surprise. When I connected to my iDisk, I saw a video there in the App so of course I tapped it. It seemed to download the video as it took a couple of minutes and there was a progress bar. The next thing you know my .MP4 was playing. Sure enough when I went back to the documents list I now have a "Movies" section with one movie in it. Speaking of which another feature I like is that you can enable a Password via the settings. This is great for people who are carrying sensitive documents around that they don't want just anyone who picks up their iPad to be able to view.

Although the App is GREAT and definitely serves the bulk of my needs I am slightly disappointed in a couple of areas. Copying text is possible, but it wasn't obvious to me. I had to ask the developer. Instead of tapping to bring up the selection function you actually choose "Copy to clipboard" from the Share menu first. Then it will display a selection rectangle for you to choose the area you want to copy. It works great, just not the UI I expected. The next thing that all of these 3rd Party Readers suffer from is that they don't quite offer "full" PDF support. In other words although PDF is an open standard, Apple doesn't fully implement all of its features on their devices or Mac OS X. So for example, if you have PDF with form fields and that PDF has data in those fields, that data will NOT show up on screen in ReaddleDocs. So I imagine that Readdle Docs is using the built-in PDF render engine, which has always lacked this function. Lastly, although you can grab PDFs from your email accounts (very cool), MS Exchange email support isn't offered. On the plus side: in addition to grabbing document attachments ReaddleDocs can also grab PDFs from your MobileMe iDisk, Dropbox, GoogleDocs and others as well as any WebDAV server.


The Bottom Line

If you're looking for a GREAT PDF viewer, this is it! Is it the best one? Hmmm, I'd have to say of the ones I've tried to date… YES! Why? Because I like the UI better than the others that are out there.


You can get ReaddleDocs for iPad here from the App Store. You can also get the iPhone/iPod touch version here.



Using the iPad to take Notes with Penultimate

One of the things I had high hopes of using my iPad for was to use it for presentation notes. When I give a presentation via my MacBook Pro, I can't look at my notes on the computer because I'm usually demoing software on the computer at the time. So I typically either type or write them and have a piece of paper right next to me as I'm presenting. That works OK, but I also like to take notes during the presentation if someone asks a question that I either don't have the answer to right then and there or I want to follow up later. Again, I can't stop the presentation to bring up a text document and type out the question. So I usually jot it down on a scrap piece of paper which usually gets lost by the time I get home. While there is a Notes App in the iPad already, the built-in one requires you to type or sync notes from your computer. The larger keyboard for the iPad is great and so is the Keyboard Dock, but I'm not going to try to type out a long note using the on screen keyboard and I have no desire to travel around with the keyboard dock. I need to be able to write it down. 

Penultimate let's you use your finger to take notes

The idea behind Penultimate is so simple it's genius. The App gives you the ability to create as many notebooks as you need and then to "write" or draw on the pages with your finger. Now while it doesn't require anything other than your finger, I highly recommend a stylus! It will feel much more natural to "write" with something that feels like a pen. Here's a great one that I recommend. You can name your notebooks so that you know which one is which. Once you take your notes you can either just refer back to them on screen or email them out (as .PNG files) right out of the App. You can email a single note or an entire notebook. You also have the option of choosing graph, line or plain paper. That's a nice touch. You can also switch between the pen and an eraser.

Although this App does exactly what it claims, I'd like to see a few more things. When you rotate the iPad to landscape orientation the size of the note doesn't change. I kinda get why you might not want it to, but it just seems odd that it doesn't so perhaps a preference to let the user decide. Also I'd like to see more email formats besides just .PNG. I get that it's just a graphic and that probably is the easiest format to send, but PDF would be nice too. There is an Undo button at the top of the screen, a shake to undo would be nice to have too. Otherwise this App was just what I was looking for. Luckily no one has to read my handwriting besides me :)

You can get Penultimate here from the App Store.

If you're more interested in just drawing instead of writing, check out the FREE Adobe Ideas App here for iPad and here for iPhone.


Delivery Status Answers The Question: Where’s My Package?

Delivery Status on my iPhone is one of my favorite Apps. I get packages all the time from different carriers. With Delivery Status I'm able to easy track them and known when they are due to be delivered. So as you can imagine I was quite happy to see Delivery Status get updated for the iPad. The Delivery Status App is a singe App that is compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. I love it when developers choose NOT to charge separately for the iPad Apps. The iPad update is amazing from a visual standpoint. Not only does it give you the traditional information about your package in the text display, but it actually shows you WHERE your package currently is via a very nice Map. 

Works with your Mac or works alone

If you're a Mac user, you can also download the Delivery Status Dashboard widget. This Widget allows you to enter package information and check it via your Mac, and it also lets you sync this info via the Junecloud "cloud" so that all of your devices running this App are updated. So whether you enter your package information on your Mac or on your mobile device, the information will be in sync. The account is FREE on their servers. Usually when I receive an email letting me know that my package has shipped, I copy and paste that tracking info right into Delivery Status. Anytime I want to know where my package is I just fire up the App OR the Dashboard Widget. If you don't have a Mac, no worries. The App works great as a stand alone App and there is NO requirement to sync with the cloud unless you want to. Once the item has been received you can simply delete it from the App. 

Like I said, this is a MUST Have App! In most cases it beats the Apps by the individual shipping companies.


Delivery Status touch, a package tracker

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