Paid

speakerclock

SpeakerClock is a must for presenters

As a presenter the one thing I'm always concerned with is staying on time. Although I'm usually doing my presentation from my computer and there is a nice clock in the upper right corner I just can't simultaneously concentrate on my presentation and do the math on how much time is left from the current time. I need a timer. The iPhone has a nice built-in clock App that has a timer. However, it's not designed to keep the screen on the whole time and it also gives you no intermediate warnings (like 5 minutes left, 2 minutes left, etc.). It just sounds off once the time is up.

SpeakerClock mimics those big red TED clocks

I like SpeakerClock because it's simple, big, easy to read and keeps the display on the whole time. So at anytime during the presentation I can look down at my iOS device and see exactly how much time I have left. To use the App you just launch it and use your finger to drag across the display to set the time (00:00 to 99:30). So say you set it for 30:00 minutes. Then you just tap the display when your presentation starts to begin the countdown. As you get close to zero, the green light will go to yellow (3 minutes left) and then finally it will go to red (1 minute left). This is to let you know visually that it's time to wrap it up.

SpeakerClock works both portrait and landscape and is a universal App for native support on all iOS devices including iPad. It really looks great on the big iPad display.

It's great as is, but I want a couple more features. There is no option for an audible cue. Also there is no way to configure when the traffic light changes from green to yellow to red. I'd like to set the yellow warning at 10 minutes left and the red warning at 5 minutes left. I'd like the option of having a 10 minutes left beep and a 5 minutes left beep. Aside from those minor things, this App is AWESOME and I'll be using it from here on out. It's also great at helping me keep to the 10 minute YouTube limit.  

UPDATE: Thanks to a tip from Twitter follower Karsten Warner, it appears you can adjust the traffic light intervals by first swiping/dragging the time to when you want say the yellow light to come on (for me 10 minutes) and then hold down the yellow light for a few seconds to set it. Then swipe/drag the timer again to set your red light interval (for me that would be 5 minutes) and hold down the red light a few seconds to set it. Very cool and thanks again Karsten!

There is the option to do an in-App purchase for 5 additional presets for $0.99. The default preset starts you off at 18:00 minutes.

 

You can get SpeakerClock here from the SpeakerClock

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lightomatic

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

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 @  textnow.me. 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 textnow.me 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

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calendars

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

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eprint

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

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