Baby Explorer for iPad

Admittedly it has been many years since I've had to entertain a baby. However, the one thing that i remember was no matter how cool the toy was that you bought for them, they wanted to play with what you were holding instead. If you bought them a toy phone, that wasn't good enough. They wanted to play with your "real" phone. Fast forward to today when now you're holding an iPad. Chances are your baby is going to want some of that iPad action too. However, they're going to be less inclined to check their email or Facebook friend's status at such a young age. 

Enter Baby Explorer

Baby Explorer lets you turn your iPad into a portable electronic entertainment center complete with activities for your child to play. Since the iPad has a touch screen, there are no moving parts to worry about and you get the ability to have multiple activities in one App/device. Baby Explorer is complete with sounds, things your child can push and move as well as different modes that they can interact with. While the App does all that it claims to, I was expecting a little more for $2.99. I guess I wanted a few more activities since it is in fact electronic. I can't remember how quickly babies can get bored, but I can see them not wanting to do this for hours on end and perhaps that's a good thing. After all, you're not going to want to surrender your iPad for an extended period of time anyway. So I guess the feature set is probably good enough for the intended use. It provides a quick distraction when you need one and of course there is some motor skill building opportunity too. I hope the developer continues to follow up with updates even if they're minor one to change things up a bit as time goes on. Lastly I could definitely see having this App on my iPad when traveling if you didn't have a lot of room to bring physical toys. Also who knows, on a long flight you may be the hero for quieting the screaming kid sitting next to you. :)

You can get Baby Explorer here from the App Store Baby


Contract Maker Pro Gets it Right!

At the end of April I compared my top two picks for Apps that let you do model (property, etc.) releases right on your iPhone. Back then I challenged both developers to take the great apps that they had created and add just a few missing things to make their Apps the "Ultimate App." Well today, I get the pleasure of reviewing the first major update out of the gate by Michael Shiffler and it's actually a NEW App called Contract Maker Pro. I have to give Michael credit for not only "listening" to my advice and implementing every single thing I asked for, but also for going beyond what I was asking for and developing a great new "multi-purpose business tool!"

Totally Customizable Contracts

Photographer's Contract Maker (PCM) was already ahead of the competition in terms of the number of placeholders (fields) that you could insert throughout your Contract, however, this new Pro version blows away everything else out there. Not only do you get all the same types of placeholders as with PCM, but now you get 10 "Custom" text fields that you can assign to whatever data you want to capture, 5 Roller fields (you know the kind that give you the wheel to spin to select a value), 6 custom checkboxes and even a Counting Number placeholder to automatically increment the value (ie. Contract Number). You even get to choose between 5 different fonts to format your contract in. This goes way beyond model and property releases. The idea here is that this is not only a great tool for Photographers and Videographers, but it's also great for ANYONE that needs to generate a totally customized contract and have clients sign off on them electronically on the spot.

I got what I wanted! – One of the things that I really hoped for the most in the update was the ability to easily add a photo on the spot to the contract. Maybe it's a shot of the model you just photographed or a drivers license to verify age, etc. They added this ability, while still maintaining the ability to pull the photo from your Contacts. Speaking of Contacts, you can import them as you need them from your Address book and they stay there! You can use them again and again going forward without having to hold on to the old contracts. They also added a custom logo feature with an ON/OFF switch so that I can turn it OFF on the contracts that it doesn't belong on. They even implemented the "shake to clear the screen" on the signature panel if you want to start over. 

You can get it here from the App Store:  MIchael



Navigon Demonstrates iOS 4 GPS Navigation Multitasking


With the imminent release of iOS 4 today, Navigon isn't wasting any time working on their next update. In the video above they show off what the navigation experience will be like on the iPhone running iOS 4. 

Navigon Moblle Navigator Apps start at $29.99 and include built-in maps so that a cell signal is not required to navigate. Nor does it hit your data plan while in use.

You can get the Navigon Mobile Navigator Here for the US and Canada for $79.99 NAVIGON


MyRegion US East – covering: (AL, CT, DE, FL, GA, IN, KY, MA, ME, MD, MI, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, Ri, SC, TN, VT, VA, WV) Here  for $24.99

MyRegion US Central – covering: (AL, AR, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NE, NM, ND, OH, OK, SD, TN, TX, WI, WY) Here for $24.99

MyRegion US West – covering: (AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, OR, UT, WA, WY) Here for $24.99


Reeder for iPad


I seem to be going through RSS readers on my iPad like water. This week I'm now hooked on Reeder for iPad. Reeder is a popular RSS reader on the iPhone and they have released their iPad version. This reader does the all important sync with Google Reader so that when you read posts on one device such as your iPad, they are automatically marked read on your other devices such as your computer or iPhone. The last reader I reviewed was Mobile RSS HD and I liked it a lot. So what makes Reeder for iPad my new default reader? As I've said in the past when all things are equal it comes down to UI (user interface), while I do prefer Mobile RSS HD from a visual standpoint (I like the pictures of each post showing down the side), the thing that bugged me was having to hit the Load More Items button without actually knowing if there were more unread items or not? That isn't an issue with Reeder. It shows you all of your unread items at once!

The Photos App Approach

Rather than show you a lists of articles down the side, Reeder for iPad delivers your news as thumbnails. Just like the Photos App you can pinch to expand any given folder to drill down on its contents. While I think this approach is cool, I do which the thumbnails would display the first image of the post instead of either being blank (most of the time) or displaying the website's icon. This would be my only knock of the App. Reeder for iPad supports all the features I use of Google Reader including Google Alerts. So while I do think that MobileRSS HD looks better, I find Reeder for iPad easier/better to use. If Reeder for iPad displayed images more often than blank thumbnails I'd give it 5 stars!

You can get Reeder for iPad here from the Reeder



Plastic Bullet Creates Cool Effects

First my buddy Jason Levine told me about this App and showed it to me on a recent business trip. I thought it was cool then, but got busy and forgot to grab it. Then I saw it recently on my buddy Scott Kelby's blog and was once again reminded to go grab that app. All I can say is WOW! Although I have access to hundreds, if not thousands of special effects in Photoshop, 3rd party filters and plug-ins, there are very few that make me go WOW! Plastic Bullet by Red Giant Software will definitely earn a permanent spot on my iPhone. I just love the kind of effect that it creates especially for my portrait photography.

If you don't like it, just hit the button again

When you fire up Plastic Bullet and then choose a photo, you get four different looks on that photo right off the bat. You can choose one and then just keep cycling through until you get it just right. There are no other buttons, controls, sliders or other interface elements to worry about. So if you're a control freak, this isn't for you. It does what it does and that's it. No more, no less. 

There are a couple of issues and these are the things keeping me from giving it that elusive 5th star. First off, no matter what resolution your photo started out at, the one that Plastic Bullet renders out for you will be maxed out at 600×800 pixels. While that's probably fine for emailing and MMS, I would prefer to keep ALL of my pixels I started with if I chose. They have already promised an update to take care of this. The other one noted by other reviewers is that an many cases this app leans towards blowing out the highlights in an image. I can usually get around this by choosing one of the other results, but since there are no sliders/controls it limits the possibilities. Otherwise, I'm very hooked on this App!

You can get Plastic Bullet here from the App Store for $1.99: Plastic Bullet


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