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



5 Must Have Apps to Show Off Your iPhone 4

If you just got your NEW iPhone 4 or you've upgraded your 3GS to iOS 4 chances are you're chomping at the bit to get some Apps that really take advantage of it. Sadly, there aren't a slew of apps yet that really take advantage of iOS 4's power. However, they're on the way and in the meantime I've picked 5 "Must Have iPhone 4 Apps" that are ready to go today:



Although I'm more of a fan of Navigon, I do have to give it to TomTom for getting an update out quickly that allows you to run your Navigation app in the background under iOS 4. So now if a call comes in, you can take the call while TomTomcontinues to know your location and guide you in the background.

Get it here from the TomTom



Pandora Radio

This one is a no brainer! Pandora Radio is a great personalized internet radio station right on your iDevice that now can run in the background streaming music while you work in other Apps. Definitely a must have!

Get it here from the Pandora



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


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