Happy New Year From iOS Affairs: Here’s What’s Coming in 2014

Hello iOS Affairs readers! I actually thought there would be no one left reading the blog after all the time I was away recovering, but I recently started looking at the blog visitor numbers again, and I was very wrong. In fact, on an average day, iOS Affairs still gets 200-300 visitors! I'm absolutely amazed!

You can check out the end-of-the-year stats in a fun WordPress-created report (put together by stat monkeys!) & you'll see that about 95,000 people read iOS Affairs in 2013!

But, this post isn't about last year. It's not a review, it's not another apology for being away so long (although I did miss you all), & it's not another false start at returning the blog to an active status (barring some huge catastrophe like flying monkeys taking over the world, of course).

What this post IS about is what's coming up in 2014.

New, Newish, & Just a New Look for 2014

  • An overflowing list of cool reviews of new apps & some very cool apps you may have missed last year while I was away (Did everyone see Frax HD? How about Poshlight or Springle or …? Okay, I'm going to force myself to stop now!)
  • Some new blog features & special types of posts (still being finalized, so you'll have to wait for more on this).
  • More posts featuring how-to's, apps for specific people/professions/hobbies/etc., analytic/news posts to help you make decisions when buying new toys, apps, & accessories, pro/con posts on using new iOS 7 features or buying new devices, & the list goes on & on.
  • A look back at past posts including much-needed updates to key posts for apps like Instagram & Camera+ by Tap Tap Tap, just to name 2.
  • Posts with insight from the people who make all these apps possible – the developers. I want to talk to some of the great developers I've been able to get to know while writing iOS Affairs & I want to share some of their valuable advice, knowledge, & tips with you.
  • Reviews of some new products like fiftythree's fabulous new Pencil stylus that goes perfectly with their Paper iPad app, but can be used anywhere you usually use a stylus. Other products include the iPad Air; I know it's a little late, but it'll have my personal how-to's & tips that you won't find anywhere else. And, we'll see what else comes out this year. As a unrestrained early adopter, you can bet I'll have whatever it is as soon as possible.
  • And of course, new roundups of Big Fish Games! They've put out some incredible games for iOS in the past year & I will tell you which ones are worth playing & which ones you should skip. My pie in the sky plan is to eventually provide you with a list of every single Big Fish Game available for iOS with mini-reviews & links. That will take a bit of time, though.

All of this & much, much more will be coming to you very soon. I have a few ducks I need to make stay in a row before I can start writing again on a daily basis (those crazy ducks simply won't stay where I put them!).

My Word (I Pinky Swear)

I promise (within reason) that this is not another false start. I've wanted to start writing again for some time, but I didn't want to keep coming back, realizing I'm still too sick, rinse & repeat. So, I waited. I waited & waited & waited (I HATE waiting) until I felt healthy enough on a daily basis for a long enough time that I could be sure that I am up to the job of consistently bringing you important readers the news & reviews you're looking for.

What I Learned While Away

While I was waiting, I was too sick to do much. But, being sick couldn't keep me from my iDevices. Most of the time, it was all I was capable of doing. The upside is that I have SO much to tell you!

I started making a list of projects I did over the past 7 months, research I did in the App Store, little known apps I managed to find in dark, hidden corners, cool ways to save & actually make money using your iOS device, amazing gifts to give no matter what your price range, new social media groups/apps that have popped up (especially with a focus on photography), etc., etc., etc.

I read articles & magazines that gave me insight & ideas that I want to share with you, played with more apps than you can conceive of (I passed the 7,000 mark for apps I own!), found better ways to do many everyday chores using my iOS devices, & truly became an iDevice-only user when the only computer I had access to decided to die.

I have so much to say, so much to share, so much I want to show you, but I'm going to say goodnight now before this gets too long even by my standards. I'll leave you with some highlights from the list of more than 100 items I made of experiences I've had in the past 7 months in the iOS arena that led to ideas for posts.

I'm sure some of these will change a bit, some will combine with others, & some just won't work out like I planned, but this will give you an idea of what you have to look forward to.

Overly Long List of Upcoming Post Ideas

  • Doing Christmas iOS Style & Giving Gifts Digitally
  • How to Set Up Multiple Devices Within Families So Everyone Has Their Own iCloud Account, But Apps Are Shared
  • Is the 128GB iPad Worth It? Can iOS Handle That Much Data?
  • Explaining the App World to Complete Novices
  • Setting Up a Private Social Media Circle for Families/Groups of Friends: Which Apps Work Best?
  • Making Apps: Even Kids Can Do It With Newer Teaching Apps Available
  • Problem With an App You Just Bought? The Best Way to Resove It Isn't a Complaint in the App Store, It's Talking to the Developer: Here's How
  • How Do I Own 7,000 Apps? I'm Far From Rich, but I Know Where & When to Look for Paid App Sales
  • Banking on iOS: Is it Safe?
  • Are Game Reviews Rigged? Here's What I Learned
  • Justifying the Price of More Expensive Apps
  • Why AppleCare+ is an Absolute Must & the ABC's of AppleCare
  • New Arrivals on the Hidden Object Game Scene
  • How to Live Without a Computer
  • Social Apps for Photographers
  • Could iOS Gaming Ever Replace Consoles?
  • Why So Many Developers Choose to Make Apps for iOS First or Only Make Apps for iOS (It's Not About Money Really)
  • I Crossed the 2,000 Apps on 1 Device Mark & My iPhone Got Very Angry
  • Everything You Need to Know to Use Shared Photostreams
  • Why Your Mobile Phone Company is NOT the Place to Go for Device Problems
  • 2-Step Verification is Becoming Quite Popular: How it Works & When You Should Use It
  • Angry Your Favorite App Was Replaced With a Newer Version Instead of an Update After iOS 7? Here's Why It Happened
  • iOS 7: “Change for Change's Sake” or “Change or Perish”?
  • Why the Original iPad is Becoming Obsolete & Why I Think That Will Happen Faster for the iPad 2
  • How to Tell if an App is Abandoned & Why/When You Should Avoid Abandoned Apps
  • Is Apple Really That Expensive or Is It Just an Image?
  • How to Get the Do Not Disturb Feature to Really Not Disturb You (But Still Let the People You Want Get Through)
  • Has the iPad Finally Lost It's Entertainment Device Only Image?
  • Where to Find Cell Usage Data in iOS 7 & Other Apps You Can Stop Buying Because Your iOS Does That Now (plus, How to Save Data by Shutting Off Specific Apps)
  • The New Generation of Bluetooth Stylus'
  • The Best non-Safari Ways to Search the Internet
  • What Is That List of Apps at the Bottom of the Settings App For?
  • How Augmented Reality Is Going to Change What You See
  • iBook Alternatives: They Keep Making More!
  • Learning to Read Faster Using Cool New Apps
  • What's So Different About iOS 7 Wallpaper? (plus, a list of new key words & their definitions)
  • Best Dictionary/Thesaurus Apps & Why They Need to Do More Than Give Word Definitions Anymore (plus, a how-to on setting up the integrated iOS dictionary, in case you don't know it exists)
  • Everything I Learned During the iOS 7 Update Process (Possible Fix for Hung Up Update!) & You Won't Believe How Much Faster Restoring 64GB Via the iPad Air Is!
  • Train Your Brain, Improve Your Memory & Focus Using the Best Puzzle Apps & Other Assorted Helper Apps
  • Mood-Measuring & Tracking Apps; I've Tried Almost All of Them – Here Are the Best of Them
  • I Made My 1st Kickstarter Purchase: How It Works & Is It Worth It?
  • Device Peripherals: I Finally Found a Decent 3rd-Party Lightning Cord. Plus, Cases, External Battery Sources, Camera Adapters (and Why They Aren't Needed), Other Cords, etc.
  • Is a Quad-core Device Really Better?
  • Biggest Innovations of 2013 & What May Be Coming Next
  • Does Anyone Actually Know What's “Best” for Batteries? Truth, Fiction, & Who Knows
  • Paid vs Free: Does It Change How We Behave? A Look at the Paid, Free, Freemium Choices Developers Make
  • When Reading Reviews Is Worth It, When It's Not, & How to Know the Difference (plus, How to Be a Discerning Reader)

Well, I guess I decided to give you a little more than a peek! You know me though – I'm wordy & always write too long. That's what you like about me though, right?

Tell Me Your Ideas & What You Think of My Ideas, Please!

Let me know what you think of the list & other plans I have for iOS Affairs. Tell me what you want to see 1st or what you're not interested in seeing at all. Send me an email with any other ideas you might want to see instead or in addition.

I'm so glad to be back & to be able to write to all of you. It's been far too long!

Who, What, When, Tumblr?

I don't have an exact date for when iOS Affairs will return officially. It will be within the month. When I know the date, I will send a Tweet (follow @iosaffairs on Twitter) & put it on Facebook (like IOS Affairs Facebook Page). I'm looking into how to to short notes using the current design of this blog. Hopefully I'll find a way to place a note on the website, as well.

Did you know there is a Tumblr Edition of iOS Affairs? It is mostly the same posts you read here on the WordPress website, but I often publish extras on the Tumblr edition (things that won't fit or will be too long, extra infographics that may be off-topic, Instagram photos from the iOS Affairs Instagram account, & other tidbits & fun things).

I haven't said this for such a long time, but:

That's it for me today. Until later, …

 

2013 In Review: Wow, Big Thank You to My Readers!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 95,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

iOS eCookbook App ‘Mind Watering’ Will Have Your Mouth Watering

mind watering

I’m not the 1 who does the cooking in my family. I used to cook, though, & can fully appreciate how easy the iPad app Mind Watering makes it look, with step-by-step instructions, to create amazing meals that can easily be classified as food porn due to the presentation of the dishes alone. 

Tip: Mind Watering, which usually costs $4.99, is on sale for FREE until Wednesday. If you want to check out this inimitable app, grab it in the App Store NOW! It’s a big app with lots to download, but totally worth it for what it can give you or even just to browse.

mind watering

The stunning photos of each creation in Mind Watering, combined with the choice of dishes featured, make the Mind Watering eCookbook app food porn all on its own. Mind Watering is an outstanding eCookbook app with some absolutely amazing dishes to choose from that will have you drooling before you can say Vanilla Lavendar Creme Brûle (featured in the photo above from Mind Watering).  

However, Mind Watering is more than just a basic eCookbook. It includes visuals with absolutely everything, innovative ways to show you how to complete just 1 step in their step-by-step instructions, subtle video that shows you how some of the food looks as it is being prepared or as it cooks, & it is fully gesture-driven. 

Tip: Make sure to check out all of the photos I couldn’t fit into this review. They will be displayed in a gallery at the end of this post in all their beauty. 

Let’s dive right in & take a look at what makes Mind Watering 1 of the best examples of an eCookbook app available for iOS. 

mind watering

Upon opening the app, you are presented with a cover that says Look & Cook, which is a phrase that holds real meaning in Mind Watering. If you swipe to the right, you can read about the 2 chefs who are the minds behind Mind Watering. 

Swipe to the left from the cover when you’re ready to begin & you’ll be greeted with a black screen with red writing that introduces the 1st chapter or collection of recipes: Everyday. These are recipes that were chosen for people who need to make a quick dinner that is also unique & delicious. You can see some of the recipes from that chapter along the bottom of the photo above. 

Tip: The left/right scrolling bar (in the photo above) at the bottom of the black screen won’t be there automatically. Just pull up from the bottom of the screen to access this feature that acts both as a table of contents & a speedy navigator through the whole book. 

mind watering

Just like the recipes in the rest of the book, the recipes chosen for Everyday are not the same one’s that you’d find in your average cookbook. Especially a cookbook on quick dinners. Nothing is made in a crockpot & everything is extraordinary, in the true sense of that word (strange & wonderful). 

On the black page, you can tap the centered + button to see an overview of all the recipes in the Everyday collection (photo above). The red title-text of the recipe is also a link to jump right to that recipe. When you choose another chapter, using the scrollable bar I mentioned above the photo in the “tip,” you can also press the + button for an overview of that collection of recipes. 

Before you stop reading & decide that this app is filled with strange things you’d never eat, I ask you to give the app a try. Sure, I’m a foodie & I’ll try just about any food. The more different, the better. If you’re not a foodie, though, I guarantee that you will still get something out of Mind Watering. 

Even if you can’t find 1 recipe you’d like to try (which I find hard to believe), Mind Watering is filled with tips for cooking, step-by-step directions on how to do everything (some steps have steps), & it is simply beautiful. That alone should be enough for a download. Beautiful food, even if we won’t cook it ourselves, can inspire us to stretch our food boundaries the way beautiful art inspires our lives. So, read on.

mind watering

Using the scrollable bar I told you about (in the last “tip,” before I started ranting about giving things a try), just swipe your way through the whole listing of what’s included (50+ recipes) or select a chapter by tapping a word above to jump right to that section in the scroll-bar. Find something you want to take a look at? Tap it & an image will pop up before your very eyes. 

What you will see is a full-screen presentation of the finished & divine-looking recipe (even more divine on a Retina screen iPad). 

Not what you’re looking for? You can either open the bottom scroller up again, or you can just start swiping right & left to flip through the book of title images that are just like the 1 in the photo above. 

Exactly what you’re looking for? Then, tap the circular Look & Cook button in the lower, right-hand corner to enter the exciting & interactive world of that recipe. 

mind watering

mind watering

The world of each recipe begins with the Look part of Look & Cook. The 1st image you’ll see is a bird’s eye view of a table covered in all the ingredients to make that recipe (photos above). Who knew a collection of ingredients arranged in such ways could be so artful. 

In the bottom, left of the tabletop image is a little box that gives you some useful information about that recipe. It tells you how many people it will serve, how much time it will take to prepare, & how much time it will take to cook. That way you know before you dive in if this recipe is even going to work for you.

Tip: If at any time in either the Look or Cook section of a recipe you’d like to get out of it & look for something else, just tap the Back arrow in the upper, left corner of the screen.

mind watering

mind watering

For some recipes, the tabletop is the only Look image. Other recipes include more images of the finished products (check out the Truffles, seriously). Some recipes pair a glimpse at part of the finished product with cooking tips or a quote (top photo), & others have just a page of text to give you information you need to know before you start cooking. 

You can just keep swiping left through the Look section until you come upon the Cook section or you can tap the word Cook in the top, right corner of the screen. That will take you directly to the 1st page of the Cook section, which starts with the recipe page. 

mind watering

The recipe page (example in photo above) is what you’d expect, although it’s minimalistic use of color & the clean fonts make even this look just perfect. I love how they made the text part of the page resemble the shape an old-fashioned recipe card. They made good use of the framing around the recipe card to give you navigational control & to always remind you of the name of what you’re cooking. 

Tip: Don’t worry overly much about reading the whole recipe. Make sure you have all the ingredients. The rest of the pages in the Cook section will walk you through all of it. 

From the recipe page, you can email the recipe to someone either from the top, left corner, or the bottom, right corner where it is accompanied by social networks Facebook & Twitter for more ways to share what you’re cooking or ogling. 

You can also turn on the voice activation from this page, or any of the Cook pages. Just tap it & from then on, you can turn the pages to go through each step in the recipe just by giving voice commands. You say “Next” to go to the next page & “Back” to go to the previous page. This gives you total hands-free control of the app so you don’t need to worry about getting your iPad dirty while you’re cooking. 

You can alternatively navigate to the rest of the steps in the Cook section either by swiping left or by tapping the number of the step at the very bottom of the card. 

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

However you navigated, here’s what comes next. Each of the numbered steps is on a page of its own with a photo that illustrates what that step looks like. There are 3 other types of illustrative devices used often to better help you understand what you should be doing & what it should look like. 

  • Video photos (top photo): Some photos will have a little video camera in the top, right corner. There’s nothing you have to push to watch. It just means that that photo is on a video loop. It will show you, in the top photo’s example, what your rising bread looks like as it’s baking, so you know just how brown it should be when it’s time to take it out. There are several examples of this throughout the recipes.
  • Grouped photos (middle photo): Photos are sometimes grouped together to further break down a task that you do in 1 step. They are numbered to let you know what you should do 1st, 2nd, etc. Again, this shows you exactly what you should be doing, which is useful with complicated techniques or tasks you have never done before. 
  • Stacked photos (bottom photo): This time there is also more than 1 photo being used to illustrate a broken down task, but with this example, the photos are all as large as the 1 you 1st see. To see the next step illustrated, you must press the next letter on the photo. This is useful when small, grouped photos might be too small, but when a task really needs to be broken done illustratively. 

There may be other examples that I missed because I didn’t look at absolutely every recipe, but these 3 seemed to be the most common tools used. 

mind watering

A note for people who find the text too small to read: If you just tap anywhere on the text in 1 of the steps, you will then see a page like the 1 in the photo above. The picture gets smaller & the text gets bigger making it easier to read. To go back to the bigger picture option, just tap the photo. 

Do you notice the oddly raised look to the time measurement for how long something should bake in the instructions above? I did too. And, you know me. If there’s a button, I will push it. 

mind watering

When you press a number that is an increment of time, a timer pops up (photo above). This handy integrated feature lets you set a timer for the length given in the recipe, start it, & then you can take your iPad with you while you take a well-deserved break. That way, you never have to worry about not hearing the oven timer, because the timer has come with you in the form of your easy to tote iPad. 

I think that concludes our tour of Mind Watering. Hope you enjoyed the ride & are planning to visit on your own. With the feature-set included in this app, you’d be silly not to try it all out on your own. 

Whether you are a foodie like me who will try any of these recipes, or a reluctant trier of new things who could use some inspiration, or just a food porn enjoyer, Mind Watering is an app to meet all of those needs. 

The flawless development of every feature in the app make using Mind Watering a delight to use & never a frustration. The intuitive gesture-based navigation will get you where you want to go in no time & also no frustration. And, the gorgeous, mouth-watering photos on almost every page of Mind Watering is the icing on the torte (cake sounded too mundane after looking at this app). 

If those 3 reasons alone are not enough to get you racing to the App Store to download Mind Watering, I don’t know what else to say. You’ve got me at a loss for words, which you know never happens. 

With that, I end. Oh, but stay tuned after my sign-off for the gallery of photos I couldn’t fit into today’s review. 

That’s it for me today. Until later, … 

Mind Watering Gallery

mind watering

Let’s start with the overviews of each collection/chapter. 

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

Now, Just Random Yummy Photos

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

Ultimate Guide to Memorial Day Weekend iOS App Sales

I’ve been kind of hibernating for a few days, so I thought it only fair that upon my return I bring you something amazing. I’ve prepared a list of Memorial Day weekend app sales to end all lists. It’s your ultimate guide to all the best apps on sale. Not just games. This list has everything!

What makes this list better than most holiday app lists? I own almost every app on the list & do mini-reviews of each app. This is not just a list of the usual big-ticket games, this list includes apps I guarantee you will not find on most other lists. Even the games I pick are not the usual. Well, check it out & see.

Some of these apps don’t explicitly say that they are on sale for Memorial Day, so don’t get mad at me if they’ve gone up in price again by Monday. I’m just going to show you the best FREE & reduced price apps available today that look like they will be available all weekend. But, I’m not psychic

Games

World Conqueror 2

One of the only FREE games I could find that I could actually recommend is World Conqueror 2 (universal). There are scattered listings of FREE games for this weekend, but to be honest, most games are just reduced price. Most are discounted to 99 cents, which is actually a really good deal when you consider that many of them normally cost anywhere between $5-$10. Don’t be disappointed though! Check out some fabulous FREE apps in non-game categories. 

W.E.L.D.E.R.

W.E.L.D.E.R. (universal): This very popular & highly rated word game was an App Store New & Noteworthy app when it was 1st released. Usually $2.99, W.E.L.D.E.R. takes classic word-building & adds wackiness & fun. You can play solo or against your Game Center friends & random opponents.

99-cent Deals

EA games

All EA Games: As usual for a holiday weekend, almost all EA (Entertainment Arts) games have been reduced to 99 cents. Titles range from the likes of Max and the Magic Marker (iPad version) to The Sims 3 (iPhone only) You can browse all of the EA games by searching the App Store for “EA games” or “Entertainment Arts games.” Either works & will bring up a listing of all of this developer’s games.

Gameloft games

All Gameloft Games: Another developer who’s put all of their titles on sale this weekend is Gameloft. These games usually run you about $6.99, so 99 cents is a pretty good deal. A good example of a Gameloft game is Wild Blood (universal). The fact that most Gameloft games are universal (unlike most EA games) makes them an even better deal. 

Playdek games

All Playdek Games: Although they have a smaller library of games, don’t count Playdek out. Most of their games tend more toward the board game genre, but I love board games. Check out the highly rated Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer (universal) for an exciting magic-like card game, or Fluxx (universal) for a game the whole family will love trying to figure out. 

Shiny The Firefly

Shiny The Firefly (universal): I haven’t played Shiny, but it is rated very highly & is on my AppShopper Social wish list. It is a platformer that may look like it is only for children, but I think it may appeal to everyone. Shiny usually costs $2.99. 

Jacob Jones

Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery: Episode 1 (universal): This game aimed at children, but yet again appealing to everyone, was in the App Store’s New & Noteworthy category just last week. Usually priced at $2.99, it has been discounted for a limited time. I was really excited to see this on the list of sale apps, except for the fact that I bought it last week at the normal price :( Oh well!

Penumbear

Penumbear (universal): I haven’t bought this platformer yet, but it looks absolutely amazing! Usually $1.99, Penumbear gets almost 5 stars from critics & App Store reviewers alike. The twist in this game is that you can only walk on the line between shadow & light. Luckily, your best friend is a firefly who can turn lights on & off. There are more than 100 levels of puzzles based on this premise, plus lots of extra things to find & bosses to fight as you help Penumbear escape a creepy castle. 

Everything Else

Photography – FREE Apps

InstaDaily

InstaDaily (iPhone only): Usually $2.99, I picked this little app up yesterday for FREE. This is 1 of the apps that I’m not sure why it’s on sale, so it may not last all weekend. InstaDaily lets you add a magazine-like feel to your photos. You can take them with the frame showing while you shoot, or you can import photos & see what works with what. It’s pretty cool looking!

TypoPic

TypoPic – Text 3D Rotation (iPhone only): This very cool app (usually 99 cents) is new to the App Store this week, but already it’s 1 of my very favorite text on photos app (& I have a zillion of them). What makes TypoPic stand out from the crowd is the fact that you can not only adjust type in about a million ways (expect a full review coming soon), but you can also rotate the text in any direction so that it looks 3D. & it actually works! It looks just amazing. 

Albu

Albu – Beautiful Photo Manager (iPhone only): Albu is an app that organizes all of the photos in your Photo app on its own. All you have to do is enjoy your photos in neat albums that usually make sense. You don’t have to do anything but open the app. Usually 99 cents. 

PhotoCal with Event

PhotoCal with Event (universal): Usually $2.99, PhotoCal is a great way to organize & view your photos. The app arranges all of your photos by date & even lets you view it all in a calendar-like view where you can see a sampling of what you took a month at a time. 

Text On Pics PRO

Text On Pics PRO (universal):  Another app where you can add text on top of photos, but this 1 has an astounding 180 fonts & is universal. Other than that, this is your standard app for doing this kind of task. But, it’s FREE! Download it & judge for yourself. What do you have to lose?

Strut Type

Strut Type (universal): This very cool camera/photo editing app just got even better, which is what they’re celebrating. Not so much about Memorial Day. It’s still a good time to pick up Strut Type for FREE. Strut Type transforms your photos into vintage, old-fashioned black & white photos. That may sound pretty limited, but there are actually 94 editing designs & with other factors added in, there are 500 possible combinations for diverse results. 

Photography – Discounted Apps

All JixiPix Apps: As you know if you read iOS Affairs, JixiPix is 1 of my very favorite developers because they make the very best photo editing apps. & this weekend, all JixiPix apps are only 99 cents! Yay! My favorite of the Jixi bunch is definitely PhotoArtistaHD – Haiku (iPad version), which is in the photo above. Haiku is a mix of watercolor, India ink & handmade papers. Other Jixi apps include Pop Dot Comics (iPhone version, although all are on sale), Grungetastic HD (iPad version) & Portrait Painter HD (iPad version). I have reviewed absolutely every Jixi app. You can find reviews of all the specific apps listed above here & here & here

ToonCamera

ToonCamera (universal): I know that a cartoon effect is included in just a ton of camera & editing apps, but ToonCamera just does this 1 thing, so they do it really well. Much better than some effect that you add on & can’t even edit with a cheap camera app. Usually $1.99, ToonCamera is on sale for 99 cents, and is also universal. You can take photos & video with many variations of cool cartoon styling with your iPhone or iPad.

Lifestyle Apps – FREE

Shatoetry
Shatoetry (iPhone only): This is a really funny app! What Shatoetry is about is writing poems (Shatisms) using words the app gives you (& they update the word list a lot). What makes it funny is that all the poems are read aloud when you’re done by William Shatner. For real. I’m not making it up. He recorded each word that you use & the app strings all the words together. Each word & even spaces can be emphasized with intuitive gestures. You can even save the voice recording as video & share it. Usually 99 cents. 

Cardio Buddy

Cardio Buddy – Touchless Camera Heart Rate Monitor (iPhone only): I’ve been using Cardio Buddy for some time now & it’s incredibly accurate as compared to what my heart rate is at the doctor’s. The algorithm that measures your heart rate just by looking at your face was developed by researchers at Berkeley & Stanford. It measures color variations in your face that are imperceptible to the eye. Plus, it will impress your friends. Usually $1.99. 

Smart Alarm Clock

Smart Alarm Clock for iPad: This app isn’t just an alarm clock. It also says (I own this app, but haven’t used it yet) that it tracks your sleep cycles & wakes you up at the best possible time based on when your body is coming out of deep R.E.M. sleep & going into a lighter sleep. Usually 99 cents (most apps that do this cost much more). 

Lifestyle Apps – Discounted

Social Diary

Social Diary – Automated Journal (iPad only): The name of this app is much longer because it actually includes all the social media the app supports. I shortened it, because that’s insane. Social Diary itself, though, is a cool concept & really neat to use. It imports all of your Facebook posts, Tweets, Instagram photos, & lets you choose which ones you want to write about more in your diary. All currently for 99 cents!

Sky Guide

Sky Guide: View Stars Night or Day (universal): I’m not that into astronomy (although I seem to own all the major apps), but Sky Guide really wowed me this week. It is in the App Store’s New & Noteworthy right now, so I can’t say what it usually costs, but the developer’s say the 99 cent price will double eventually. Still, that is not bad for an app of this kind. What’s so special about it? It uses actual photos of the sky, not simulated points of light, so it feels more real. Plus, the info that is written on everything is in-depth & not from Wikipedia. There is music that changes based on the size & temperature of the star you’re looking at. I could go on, but this is supposed to be brief. 

ScrapBook

ScrapBook – Tell Your Story (iPad only): This is an app I’m planning on picking up today. It looks really amazing & has everything you need to make great digital scrapbooks. You can include photos, text, maps, voice recordings, & there are a lot of ways to lay everything out in many cool themes. ScrapBook is by Left Coast Logic, a developer who has put all of there apps on sale this weekend. Most are quite expensive & are really more productivity apps, like calendars, but they are extremely innovative & worth a look. Usually $4.99, ScrapBook is on sale for $2.99.

Writing & Productivity Apps – FREE

Goodo Cal (iPhone only): Usually $3.99, this uniquely named calendar app is FREE right now. It is a very clean looking, non-traditional calendar (which I downloaded but haven’t gotten to yet). It may look minimalistic (which is the point), but it says it has many integrated functions, including Stream View, fast event creation, & ability to sync with Google Calendar. 

Getodo

Getodo – To-do Lists for Your Circles (iPhone only): I just downloaded this really amazing looking to-do list (to-do lists & to-do list apps are an obsession of mine). Getodo promotes itself as helping people who may be procrastinators or who feel inefficient. It helps these people by breaking down tasks into smaller, more do-able bits (I may need to try this). What attracted me, of course, are the beautiful themes & design. They really need to spell-check their app description, though. Usually 99 cents. 

Timer+ Touch

Timer+ Touch HD (iPad only): This is a neat app despite the fact that I think the app icon is really a turn-off & the claim that it is 1 of a kind because it is touch-enabled is stupid. However, if you have an iPad & need a timer, this is a really good 1 that you set just by swiping around the circle. Easy as can be & that’s about it. Usually 99 cents. 

Writing & Productivity Apps -Discounted 

TaskPaper

TaskPaper – Simple To-do Lists (universal): Usually $4.99, TaskPaper is on sale for $1.99. This 1 is on my wish list, but it looks really great & is very highly rated. The goal of TaskPaper is to feel just like you’re using a sheet of paper. It syncs with Dropbox to make sure you don’t lose all your precious info. 

TextGrabber

TextGrabber + Translator (iPhone only): This incredibly useful & accurate app grabs & translates words in anything you can photograph. You can even import existing photos that include words. Usually $9.99, TextGrabber is on sale for $4.99. When I say it grabs the text, I mean that it copies the words & changes them into editable text on your iPhone that can also be translated into a lot of different languages within the same app. 

Pencilicious

Pencilicious *Plus: Note taking, sketching, and drawing (iPad only): This is my go-to scratch-pad when I need to take notes quickly & I want to feel like I’m using a sheet of paper. The hand-writing is out of this world! The only thing Pencilicious is missing is the ability to use it in landscape mode. Other than that, this is a great app for taking notes by hand & I can see how it would be an awesome sketching app. Usually $2.99, it is on sale for $1.99. 

Songwriter's Pad

Songwriter’s Pad (iPad only): I saw this app, which is made by the same developers as Poet’s Pad (on my biggest wish list), & I had to share. Songwriter’s is usually $9.99, but this weekend it’s on sale for $1.99. For that price, you get a place to write lyrics with an integrated rhyming dictionary, dictionary & thesaurus. There is also a place to note chords with the lyrics & even a record function so you can sing or hum or whatever when the mood strikes you. Now, if only Poet’s Pad would go on sale this much!

That’s it for the list right now. I may update over the weekend if I see anything exceptional. Have a great holiday & thanks for reading my very long list!

That’s it for me today. Until later, … 

Wow! VideoFilters Is Camera+ For Videos

VideoFilters

A universal app released in the App Store yesterday called VideoFilters has absolutely amazed me with a set of features similar to Camera+. Except, as the name suggests, it’s for videos. 

VideoFilters has attributes that will make both pros & amateurs alike very happy. 

  • Amateurs are going to LOVE the 100 real-time filters you use while you’re shooting, the ability to import videos you’ve already taken with other cameras & being able to snap still photos while you’re shooting a video. 
  • Pros will like the fact that with VideoFilters they can adjust the frames per second (FPS), shoot with STEREO Audio & do some actual editing (contrast, saturation, gamma & brightness). 

What I loved is how easy VideoFilters was to figure out. It literally took me all of 10 minutes to be ready to write this review. 

I was a little disappointed at 1st by the fact that the filters are not quite as dramatic as say the filters in Camera+, but that disappointment was soon replaced with awe at just how many features the developers were able to fit into 1 app without making it feel cluttered or confusing. 

There is no tutorial, but it isn’t needed anyway. 

VideoFilters

I also realized that, although I’d like to see some more dramatic filters in the future, the filters that exist are actually quite good. You can see a complete listing of all 100 filters in the app description in the App Store. 

What really made me realize how impressive the filters are is rapidly switching between filters & no filter by tapping the on/off button in the very corner on the bottom left.  

VideoFilters

To choose a filter, you just tap the line along the bottom (which it says). You can browse the filters divided into 14 categories as little photos or tiled for easier viewing (photo above). 

And, you won’t see a stock photo as you’re looking through the filters. You’ll see whatever your device’s camera is pointed at, or if you’ve imported a video, you’ll see whatever image the video is paused on. That means, you’ll see how the filter is reacting with your environment & your actual video. 

I really liked that 1 of the groupings of filters is made to address common issues people have with their videos or environments like: 

  • Clarity to crisp up fuzzy photos
  • Fluorescent for videos shot under this type of light
  • Cloudy & Shade for shooting while it’s, well, you can figure this 1 out
  • Flash to add light to dark photos 
  • & several more 

VideoFilters

Another nifty feature I discovered how to access by accident. I had skipped the instructions for this in the app description (oops). 

If you do a long tap on the screen & then slide up/down, you get to the pop-up menu (photo above) to adjust the saturation, contrast, gamma & brightness. Then, you slide left/right to increase/decrease the amount. It works just like Snapseed, so you should have no difficulty doing it. 

Minor editing of those features really changes the filters, too.

VideoFilters

I am definitely in the amateur photographer category, so I really appreciate some of the features like the smooth zoom buttons, the grid overlay & being able to take a photo while I’m shooting a video. 

  • The smooth zoom buttons (the +/- above & below the zoom bar) slowly & steadily zooms in or out. I can never do that without jerking around like I’m having a seizure, so this is highly appreciated. 
  • Grid overlay (read why this is a useful tool here) is turned on & off in the settings menu (the gear in the upper, left corner). 
  • All you have to do to take an HD-quality photo while shooting a video is tap the camera button to the right of the record button. This only shows while you’re shooting (duh). When you’re not, it’s the render button to finish & save your video.  

For the pros out there, the settings menu is where you’ll probably head to 1st. That’s where you can adjust the FPS, aspect ratio, sound quality & other things I don’t understand much (although I’m happy to see there is a stabilize button there). 

You can adjust the speed of the video right from the shooting screen. 

With the speed settings button in the upper, right corner, you can do slow motion & fast motion videos. I haven’t tried this yet, but it looks easy & sounds like it could be fun to play with. 

I did import a video from my Camera Roll with the + button that is right next to the record button. VideoFilters didn’t make me search through all my photos for the videos either. It quickly found all my videos & only showed me those to choose from. Importing & working with the video worked like a charm, too!

The other features I couldn’t cram into this review but that should be mentioned include:

  • You can take videos in either portrait or landscape mode!
  • Layer filters by adding additional filters after a video is done. 
  • Use the front or back camera!
  • Manually set the exposure, focus & white balance with a triple-tap. 
  • Pause while shooting video & then start right back up again. 

I wanted to mention again that all this video goodness is universal. That means that you can enjoy VideoFilters using your iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch! The price is just $3.99. 

So, go check it out!

That’s it for me today. Until later, … 

Contaqs Is the Contacts Manager You’ve Been Looking For

Contaqs

I spent a great deal of time recently looking for a contacts manager. I have close to 150 contacts & I just wanted a better way to organize them, search them, & use them than Apple’s Contacts app. 

There are a ton of contacts managers & many of them are FREE or have FREE versions to try before you buy. Many of them integrate social functions like adding recent Facebook updates or Tweets, but I decided this was not a feature I needed. I think I may have downloaded just about all of the available FREE apps & a few paid ones to boot. 

Well, I finally hit the jackpot with Contaqs – the Contact Manager. It has absolutely everything I was looking for & more that I didn’t know I wanted until I got it. 

There is no FREE version of Contaqs to try, so I just had to take a leap & hope that Contaqs was a good app. My leap paid off in a big way. 

ContaqsContaqs

Contaqs is a universal app (photos above show main view on iPad & iPhone). There are very few contacts managers that are universal, so this is really quite a bonus feature for Contaqs. 

There are so many features packed into this “enhanched address book” that it is hard to know where to start. 

Let’s start with searching, which is the 1st thing you do when you open your Contacts app anyway. 

The list view (photos above) is quite beautiful & elegant, especially compared to the bare bones Apple Contacts list view. Contacts are displayed on mini-profile cards with their photo in a little circle & their main information available right on the card. 

If you’re just looking for a phone number or email address, you don’t even have to open the profile to find it in Contaqs. It’s right there on the mini-profile. 

Contaqs

Searching for someone in Contaqs is super easy. Just click the 3 lines in the top, left corner to open up the options menu.

From this menu, you can do just about everything. For searching, you can always just type the name into the search bar at the top of just about any screen & find the person easily. But, if you can’t happen to remember the name of the person you’re searching for, you’re in luck. 

There are also about a billion ways to search for people without knowing exactly who you’re looking for. Contaqs calls these Smart Lists & there are many of them. 

You can search for people using everything from family relationship & nickname to city & zip code. You can also search for all the contacts you have that have a birthday in their profile or all the contacts that don’t have an email or address listed, etc. You can even search for all the people who don’t have images in their profile. 

Contaqs puts badges after all the “without” Smart Lists, so you know exactly how many people you’re sorting through before you choose that list. 

Contaqs

One thing the iPhone version has that the iPad version is missing (at least I can’t find it) is a filter available from the main view of the contacts. 

The filter is located under the 3 lines that opens the options menu. When you press it, you get a list like the 1 in the photo. You can sort your contacts by everything from first & last name to company & city, plus many more. 

This filter then reorders your contacts list according to the filter you chose. 

The other thing the iPhone version has that the iPad does not makes a lot of sense. It has a Keypad accessible through the options menu. This allows you to directly dial your iPhone & make a call without leaving the app. 

I think my only wish for Contaqs is that when you finish making a call, texting someone, or sending an email, you would be returned to the place you were at in the app. I noticed this feature in 1 or 2 of the other apps I tested & I really liked it, but you can’t have everything. I’ll take Contaqs lovely user interface & seamless contacts management over my little wish any day. 

Contaqs

One last way to find people is by location. You can either search for all the contacts you have that are nearby (which brings up a map with the contacts listed to the left) or you can just bring up a map with pins on it locating all the contacts you have that have an address (photo above). 

Just click on any pin to see who the person is & click on the blue arrow to got to their profile information. You can even search for a specific person in the search bar, as long as that person has an address listed in their profile. 

ContaqsContaqs

Now that you’re done searching & have found the person you’re looking for, let’s look at how you can interact with the mini-profiles. 

When you’re just in the list view of contacts, the quickest way to get ahold of somebody is by swiping right on their little profile. This will open up an elegant little menu (left photo) that gives you the options of calling them, emailing them, & texting them. 

When you tap 1 of those options, you are taken to the appropriate Apple app that does that function (Phone, Email, Messages). Calls are made immediately. No dialing necessary. Texts & emails are started with that person’s information entered (if they have more than 1 way to contact them by a certain method, a pop-up of those options will come up for you to choose which 1 you want). 

You can also swipe to the left on the little profiles in list view. This brings up 2 options (right photo). The top option will create an email with that person’s contact information in a convenient card format ready to send to whomever. The bottom option lets you edit that person’s profile information. 

ContaqsContaqs

If you’d rather just view a person’s entire profile, just tap on their name in the list view to bring it up. 

The profiles have a cool little feature that lets you see the entire photo of the person instead of just the little circle. Just grab the circle & pull down to make the photo above it grow larger (left photo). 

Another neat feature available in the profile view is a button to add the person to your home screen. Pressing it brings up a web page in Safari with a square photo icon & the person’s name. From there, you just follow the directions to add the button to your iDevice’s home screen. 

That means that you then don’t even have to open Contaqs to contact that person. You just press the icon on your home screen to call the person & it also opens that person’s profile in Contaqs. 

You can also edit a person’s profile from the profile view. Just click the pencil to start editing (right photo). This brings up all the fields that are available in Apple’s Contacts app & lets you add a photo if you have 1. 

Contaqs

There are 3 main ways to view your contacts in Contaqs. Just open the options menu to choose whether to view your Favorites, all your Contacts, or Groups of contacts. There are badges next to each 1 to tell you how many people or groups are in each view. 

ContaqsContaqs

Putting people into groups is very easy. You can press & hold on a contact in the list view & just drag them up to a group (left photo), if you have groups already made. You can also drag them to the delete button to get rid of them. 

Additionally, you can press the pencil in the list view & tap the circle next to each name you want to put in a group. Then, you just press the word Contacts at the top of the screen to bring up a menu that lets you add the selected people to a group, to Favorites, or just contact those people using email or text (right photo). You can also Copy the selected people & Send their information to others via email.

If you need to create groups from scratch, just go to the Groups view from the options menu & choose Add Group at thee bottom of the screen. Creating groups is great if you frequently need to contact a group of people all at once or for finding people quickly based on group affiliation. 

Contaqs

Oh no! I forgot to tell you how to add a new contact. I guess that’s a pretty basic thing you’ll need to do. 

Creating a new contact is as simple as pressing the + button in the top, right corner of almost any screen. You can also open the options menu & choose New Contact right at the top of the list. Then, just enter the information & click the checkmark to finish. 

Contaqs

There are 3 more features in Contaqs that are both essential & cool. 

Near the bottom of the options menu you’ll find the selection to Backup your contacts list. Backing up your contacts list is relatively quick & creates a file that you can email to yourself as an attachment & save somewhere in case you ever lose your iDevice or for some other reason lose your contacts. 

Below the Backup option is an option to Remove Duplicates. This cool feature scans your contact list & alerts you to any duplicates that exist. You can then choose what you want to delete. 

Contaqs

The last feature is just plain cool & quite a bonus feature for a contacts manager.

Contaqs has several ways to keep track of the birthdays of your contacts. You can see all the birthdays you have added to your contacts in list form by selecting Birthdays in the options menu. You can also just view Upcoming Birthdays to see birthdays that are happening soon.

But, the best way to view birthdays in Contaqs is using the Birthday Calendar (photo above). You can flip through the months & see everyone who has a birthday in a given month. Click on the day that has a picture on it & the contact information for that person pops up under the calendar. It’s really very cool!

Contaqs

The very last selection in the options menu is Settings. The Settings menu has loads of useful things you can set for your preferences for Contaqs. 

The 1st thing in Settings is Accounts. This shows you which accounts you have linked to your contacts (like iCloud or Exchange). You can choose to have Contaqs show all the contacts in every account or just the contacts in a certain account. 

Secondly, you can choose which of the 3 main views Contaqs opens to: Favorites, Groups, or Contact list. On the iPhone, you can also choose to have the app open to the Keypad, instead. 

Under My Contact, you can choose which contact is yours by selecting from the list under Set My Contact. 

Turn on the Birthday Reminder to have Contaqs alert you when a contact’s birthday is nearing. Once you turn it on, you can choose the reminder time, day, & sound of the alert tone. 

Deleting the cache can really save you some space in the memory footprint of the app. 

Under the Support section, you’ll find frequently asked questions, what’s new in the most recent update, a walkthrough for the app (which I guess you don’t need now), & a link to send suggestions to the developer. 

Phew! That was quite the walkthrough! If there’s a feature I missed telling you about in Contaqs, I just won’t believe it. 

It was a long, hard search to find a contacts manager that met all of my expectations, but Contaqs made it all worth it. Contaqs is beautiful to look at, easy to use, & has features that make keeping in touch with your family & friends fun. Take the leap & try Contaqs today. 

That’s it for me today. Until later, … 

oneSafe Is My New eWallet/Password App & It Should Be Yours, Too

oneSafe

oneSafe is stuffed full of usefulness.

oneSafe – Secure Password Manager & Data Vault (universal, $5.99) is my new eWallet/password manager & it is so absolutely fabulous that I must tell you all about it so you can start using it too.

Don't let the price-tag scare you. It is actually extremely economical for these types of apps, especially since it is universal. However, if you're on the fence, the developer has decided to give away a few promo codes to iOS Affairs readers. If you're interested in trying oneSafe after you read all about it, leave me a message in the comments or send me an email & I'll send promo codes to the 1st few lucky readers on a 1st come, 1st served basis.

oneSafe

oneSafe is a password keeper, eWallet & private document protector, all in 1.

oneSafe has won many awards & received much praise from the app reviewing community. It is even listed as 1 of the Best Password Keeping Apps by AppAdvice.

So, what is oneSafe? It is an app secured by military-grade encryption that stores all of your confidential information (passwords, credit cards, documents, etc.) using 1 password.

Instead of having to remember all of your passwords, you just have to remember 1 password & oneSafe remembers the rest.

oneSafe

oneSafe offers 3 different types of passwords for you to choose from when setting up the app for the 1st time. You can choose between a simple 4-digit numerical code, a visual code (where you draw lines among 9 dots) & an alphanumeric code, which is the most secure using numbers, letters & special characters.

oneSafe

You can even set a 2nd password for information that you really want protected. This “double protection” section of the app is perfect for things like credit cards & other financial information.

Once you have your password selected, you're ready to enter oneSafe & begin setting it up. oneSafe offers loads of customizations so you can keep your information stored any way you choose.

When you open the app, there are sections for Computer, Wallet, Work & Documents already set up, but you can rename, reorganize, or delete any of these categories & come up with ones that suit your lifestyle better, if you choose.

oneSafe

Using iCloud, you can keep all your devices running oneSafe in-sync.

You can also choose to turn on iCloud & use it to keep all of the devices you have oneSafe installed on in sync. That way, when you make changes or additions on one 1 device, you need only sync to have the changes reflected on all your devices. This cuts down significantly on data entry.

oneSafe

Adding information to oneSafe is easy enough, though, with more than 100 preset templates that not only make it easy to enter your information, but also makes it easy to keep track of & appealing to look at.

All information is stored on credit card-shaped cards with additional space underneath the card when you are focused in on it for phone numbers, notes & web links. This is a handy place to store phone numbers in case you lose your actual card.

To begin adding things like passwords and credit cards, you just go to the section you want the information to be stored in & press the + sign. This brings up a New Card menu that gives you the option of choosing a template to use, taking a picture of an actual card with the camera, or importing items from iTunes or your Photo Library, which is great for bringing in documents & photos (Pages, Word, Excel, PDF).

oneSafe

Choosing a template to use is a breeze. Templates are organized into 3 categories: Wallet & admin for cards, IDs, bank accounts, etc.; Username/password for web accounts, emails, etc.; & All-purpose templates.

There are sub-categories within each category & there is a search option where you can just type in the word for the template you're looking for.

There are already specific templates made for the most common sites, like Facebook & Twitter, major email providers, credit card companies & banks & the like. These templates are colored to look like the websites or companies that they represent, so they'r'e easy to find when you're looking through all your cards.

oneSafe

If you don't like the look of a card, just choose a different look. When you are focused in on a card (like in the photo below), there are 3 tabs to the side of the card on the iPad (on the iPhone, the tabs are along the bottom of the screen): a star to add the card to your Favorites section, Actions that allow you to send the card by email or duplicate it & Card options that let you change the look of the card.

The choices for changing the card's visual style are plentiful & are organized into categories like Colorful, Grayscale & High tech/Geek.

Just scroll through the options and tap the 1 that you want your card to look like. It's that simple.

oneSafe

A really neat little detail that I love is that you can also bring a photo/icon onto each card. Just click the little square where a photo goes (where the magnifying glass is) & oneSafe does a quick Google Image Search based on the name you have entered for that card.

Then, you just select which image you want to use & like magic, you have an authentic-looking card with official logo & all!

oneSafe

The in-app browser is completely private.

oneSafe is able to do the Google Image Search because the app also has an ultra-secure, private in-app browser. This is very handy because it means that you can open up websites like Amazon or your bank account right from oneSafe & enter your log-in information without having to remember it while going to Safari or copying & pasting it.

The browser doesn't leave behind cookies & there is no history.

When you are focused in on a card, just press the little arrow to the right of a website name to launch the private in-app browser to that specific website. Once in the browser, you can click the eye icon (upper, right) & up will pop your log-in information (like in the photo above).

You can even have oneSafe log in for you. When you are in the log-in box for any site, just tap the chain icon next to the eye icon & it will give you the option of entering your user ID &/or your password with just a tap. It's super fast, easy & cool! This is especially useful for long passwords that you just don't want to type in or are hard to remember.

If you don't want to use the in-app browser, you can just click on the password you need on any card & choose to copy it so that you can then paste it into the window in Safari.

Some other great features of oneSafe include:

+ Back-up all of your information regularly with the touch of a button & keep it stored somewhere (it's encrypted & needs a passcode to unlock) so that if you ever lose your device, you can restore oneSafe with ease. You can even choose to have the app remind you to do regular back-ups from the Settings menu.

oneSafe

+ Customize the look of each section of the app. Just tap edit & then tap the square next to “Choose a motif for the category.” This will pop up options from plain & conservative to fun & colorful (my favorite is at left).

The options for motifs are different on the iPad & iPhone. (The iPhone also has an optional shelving look, too, that I love & wish were on the iPad.)

+ Set up an additional password for any section of the app under the same area where you name & describe the section.

+ Mark cards you use the most as Favorites (using the star) & look for them in the Favorites section, which groups them all together.

+ Move cards between sections easily, duplicate cards & put them in multiple sections & move multiple cards at a time using the Edit button in each section.

+ Keep track of attempts to break in to oneSafe with a setting that displays break-in attempts as a badge on the app.

+ There is a user guide in the Settings section that can tell you anything I may have missed. The only downside to the user guide is that it takes you to the app's website in Safari instead of staying inside the app.

+ Seach your entire database from the Search section.

For those of you wondering about that military-grade encryption, here's a photo that describes in detail the security behind oneSafe:

oneSafe

oneSafe is just a gem of an app with so many features, I couldn't possibly list them all here. If you have any questions about oneSafe, feel free to leave a comment & I'll elaborate. And, don't forget to send me an email or leave a comment if you'd like to get oneSafe for FREE with a promo code from the developer.

Supplies are limited, so speak up now or you'll just have to go spend the $6 for oneSafe. With all of the features I've mentioned though, combined with the fact that it is a universal app, you cannot find a better deal on an app of this kind.

That's it for me today. Until later, …

AppShopper Rises From the Ashes As AppShopper Social

You all know that my absolute favorite way to shop for apps is AppShopper. The reason I can't put a link there is that the old AppShopper doesn't exist in the App Store anymore. It hasn't for awhile, although if you have the app, it continues to work.

Apple kicked it out late last year due to a new rule that says that apps cannot display apps in a way that is “similar to or confusing with the App Store.”

Now, we all know that there are just a ton of apps that do this. So, how come some get away with it & others get the boot? Apparently, an app can display other apps IF they also add something to the experience that the App Store doesn't.

Apple claimed that AppShopper, with its Wish List, professional review links & ability to keep track of & rate apps you own, offered nothing more than the actual App Store does.

I LOVE Apple. But, I'm not blind. This seems like an arbitrary & just plain stupid rule that is applied when Apple sees fit & ignored when it doesn't. That's just my opinion. What do you think?

AppShopper Social

Well, the good news is that AppShopper found a way to offer something the App Store doesn't & it has returned with a brand new app called AppShopper Social. It's a FREE iPhone app that looks and works a lot like the old AppShopper, with some key differences.

The biggest difference & reason AppShopper was allowed to return is that it no longer shows simple curated lists. It now uses lists of apps that are recommended by people or accounts that you follow.

You heard me right on that last part. Follow. To use AppShopper Social, you must follow accounts set up by AppShopper, including the AppShopper account, 148Apps & TouchArcade.

As an aside, the type is smaller in this new app. I talked the developer & all of you with old eyes like mine will be happy to hear that they plan to increase the font size in a future update.

AppShopper Social

To be honest though, I am still using the old AppShopper & comparing it to the new AppShopper Social. I followed all of the suggested lists when I opened the new app. I see absolutely no difference in the list of Popular apps versus the new Stream of apps I am following.

The new app seems to do all of the things the old app does.

The Stream shows you all of the popular apps that are most being downloaded. This is where you're going to find a lot of FREE for the day apps & discounted apps.

The list of all apps that are new, updated, or repriced is gone, though.

Friends shows you who you are following. I asked AppShopper how you follow new people & I got a vague answer that just advised me to follow the accounts suggested when you open the app. So, I'm not sure how you go about following new people.

If you already had an account with AppShopper & have an extensive Wish List & are keeping track of the apps you already own under My Apps, worry not. Just click on the gear in the upper, left of the screen & sign in to your account. All of your information & lists are waiting for you there.

The last category, Search, works just the way it always has.

AppShopper

Looking at an app close up also looks no different. Everything looks spruced up, the colors look brighter & things look sharper (Retina upgrade maybe). Plus, it is iPhone 5-sized, which is a huge plus for me.

Other than that, all of the old structures remain, which is very good. You can see under the name which device it is for. You can select whether you own or want the app & rate it if you own it. You can see how the app is doing rating-wise in the App Store & read linked professional reviews if they are available.

Then, there is the app description & a list of the app activity (when it was updated & repriced), which is helpful to gauge whether it will go down in price or whether it is being maintained well by the developer. There is also the “other apps” section that shows you apps also made by the same developer.

I honestly see absolutely no difference between the old & new AppShopper. And, to tell you the truth, that makes me very happy. I'm glad they didn't ruin it with requried sharing of information or some other such social aspect.

1 HUGE thing missing is an iPad version. For now, AppShopper Social is iPhone only. So, I'm continuing to use the old app on my iPad. The developer promises an iPad version is in the future.

But, in the end, AppShopper Social is still AppShopper & that makes this blogger very, very happy.

Postscript: I am trying to keep up with my blog to-do list, emails to people trying to submit guest posts & reviews of new & outstanding apps that have been coming out in recent days (most notably Lettrs, which lets you send snail mail with your iPhone, & FocusTwist, which lets you select a focal point in a photo after you take the photo).

However, I just received the 2nd of 2 shots in my wrists for carpel tunnel & typing or doing anything with my hands is painful. So, bear with me as I try to catch up.

I started this review 2 days ago & am just finishing it now, if that gives you any idea.

The App Store was just refreshed a few hours ago, so I'm sure my lists just got longer (I have more than 100 apps waiting to be reviewed at all times).

But, I'll get there :)

Thanks for sticking with me!

That's it for me today. Until later, …

Super Fun Ways to Make Facebook Cover Photos

FBCoverArt

FBCoverArt has a selection of templates that can't be beat.

With Facebook's Timeline feature starring a huge Cover Photo plus a Profile Photo, people are often searching for something that will set their page apart from the crowd.

People have different goals in making their Cover Photos. Some want to showcase photos of their friends and family, some want to express their interest in a particular subject, and some just want to make something amazing with the least amount of effort.

With the app featured in today's post, we can meet all 3 of those goals in just a few steps.

This app is universal, meaning it will work on both your iPad and iPhone.

FBCoverArt

Some of the more than 100 templates in FBCoverArt

FBCoverArt – Facebook Timeline Cover Photo Designer is an app that definitely can help anyone meet any goal they have in creating a Cover Photo that pops. FBCoverArt has about 100 or so templates to choose from when making your Cover Photo (some in photos above).

FBCoverArt

FBCoverArt is a FREE app, so you can try it before you buy it.

However, when you open the app, it will tempt you with a deal to give you all the templates before you see any for $2.99. If you wait and look 1st, the price goes up to $4.99.

I'm not a fan of this strategy, but I guess they succeeded with me, because I took the bait. If you do try before you buy, you will only have access to about a dozen templates anyway.

FBCoverArt

The Seven Wonders templates are just a click away from done.

The templates in FBCoverArt range in effort from needing up to 7-8 photos to none, and range in subject from Airforce to Zombie, literally, with just about everything in-between. The Seven Wonders set of templates (and others sprinked throughout the templates) in the photo above need no photos from you. You just open them and publish them and you're finished.

FBCoverArt

I like that they offer such simple options, but we're going to take the middle road today and look at how to put together a template that needs 4 photos.

After you are done browsing through the massive number of templates in FBCoverArt, you'll have to choose 1. At least for today. You can choose a new 1 every day for a long, long while.

You can tap on as many templates as you want to see them upclose and change your mind, so don't worry that once you choose, you're options are closed.

FBCoverArt

Our practice template with 4 photos.

For now, I chose a pretty simple, straightforward template (above) to show you how to work the basic tools of the app. The photos in this template are almost squares, unlike some of the templates that have fun circle shapes, clouds, diamonds, and so much more. I will leave you to figuring out the artistic side on your own.

You must sign into Facebook and allow FBCoverArt the right to publish to your page to use this app, although you don't have to do it that way in the end. If for some reason you need to sign out, just press the button next to your name.

The perk of being signed in is that the app imports your current Profile Photo so you can see just how it will look with what you're working on for a Cover Photo.

FBCoverArt

At this point, if you decide you want to switch to another template, you can choose to go back to see all of the templates by pressing the Covers button (photo above, lower, left), or you can press the back and forth keys next to it to see templates that you have looked at previously.

As an aside, I really wish there were a way to bookmark your favorite templates or template sets so that you don't always have to go through the whole selection. There are just a ton of choices. Making a favorites section that let you just look at the templates you really like would be a great idea.

FBCoverArt

Inserting photos is a snap.

Once your template is open, you just tap each place that needs a photo and decide whether you want to pull a photo in from your Photos app, your Facebook photo albums, or take a new photo. For now, we'll pull in a photo from the Photos app. Bringing in a photo from Facebook looks almost identical, but it will just bring up every album you have created in Facebook. Larger albums can take a little longer to load. Be patient.

FBCoverArt

Always keep 2 fingers on the photo to manipulate it.

As a tip, when you are focused in on the photo after you import it, you must use 2 fingers at ALL times to manipulate the photo. Meaning that to move it around, make it bigger or smaller, and to rotate it to get it just right, you must always keep 2 fingers on the photo. If you don't, the focus will go away and you will see the entire template again. You can always focus back in on the photo if this happens though by tapping it.

If you bring a photo in and it doesn't work, just choose the photo you want to change and hit the way you want to import it again. It will just import the new photo and replace the old 1.

As you're bringing in photos, the app keeps track of the other photos you've already brought in. They are lined up along the bottom of the screen (photo above). That way, you don't accidentally bring in the same photo or almost identical photo twice.

It even keeps track of the photos you've brought in for 1 template, so if you change templates, the photos move with you and you can just tap that photo instead of importing it again when it comes time to insert the photo.

FBCoverArt

You can even use FX on each photo.

One of the cool features in FBCoverArt is that it lets you add an FX to each photo (above). This can be really handy if you're trying to tie together photos that don't go together very well due to their coloring. The FX even include things like sketch, black and white, infrared, and many more.

This is a nice little touch that I think really adds some polish to an already classy, finished app. It's like a toy surprise at the bottom of the Cracker Jax (please tell me some of you remember that).

FBCoverArt

Finishing up ...

After you have all of your photos inserted and situated just right, you can press the export button (lower, right) to save the finished product to your Camera Roll or to share it on Instagram (although, I don't know how that works with this shape), Twitter, by email, or open it in another app.

FBCoverArt

You could just go to Facebook and upload your new Cover Photo yourself from your camera roll, but FBCoverArt really saves you a lot of the trouble with the Set FB Cover button (photo above, lower, right).

Once you push that button, you get a pop up like the one in this photo. It tells you that once you push the Go to Facebook button, you will be redirected to Facebook in your browser and prompted to Save Changes.

If you're happy with the way it looks and want this to be your Cover Photo, just press Save Changes on Facebook (it's under the Cover Photo on Facebook), and you're finished.

Okay, that was a bit more than a few steps. But, I really broke this down into the tiniest of steps for people who may be new to the world of apps (as I usually do). If you're relatively familiar with working with photo editing apps, you'll fly through this in no time. If you're not, just follow the steps, and you'll be an expert before you know it.

I have another Facebook Cover Photo maker that I think you'll all love, but that'll have to wait for another day.

That's it for me today. Until later, …

Related Link on iOS Affairs

Remembery & Momento: Best Ways to Journal on an iDevice

If you have a really good memory, you'll recognize the 2 apps I'm about to review from a post I wrote last year. It was when I was just beginning to blog, though, and I really think these 2 apps deserve a more thorough review.

So, I'm going to go over the features and assets of Remembery Connected Diary on the iPad (although, it is universal), and Momento (Diary/Journal) on the iPhone. I've used quite a few journals on both devices, including Day One and other really highly rated diaries. However, Remembery and Momento have features that set them apart from all other journals in the App Store.

Both Remembery and Momento let you not only journal your private thoughts, but also save your public words from Facebook, Twitter, and many, many other social networks. They both also have so many detailed features that it's almost too much to go over, but you know that's never stopped me before.

Let's go.

Remembery

There are so many visual settings in Remembery, you'll get dizzy trying to decide.

Remembery can be used in both landscape and portrait mode and displays 1 page at a time in either mode. I use the default notebook template, but there are more than a dozen visual templates to choose from (photo above).

Remembery

Whether you want a rustic journal, parchement paper, a journal for a child (or the child inside), something colorful, lines, or you just want to change the look often, Remembery has you covered with 16 looks that they update often for FREE. No in-app purchases here.

When you open Remembery, a journal cover appears and the title of your journal briefly shows up under the name Remembery. You can name your journal anything you want and add a passcode, as well, in the settings (gear) at the top of the screen.

Remembery

Along with the visual template changes you can make, Remembery also offers a ton of fonts to choose from. You can see some of my more extreme font choices in the screenshots throughout this post, but Remembery also has many more conservative font choices, too, like Times New Roman.

When you begin writing in your cool fonts, you can use the time stamp on the far right of the journal page to enter when you began writing. You can also add a title to your journal entry.

Remembery

One of the fun things about journaling is going back and reading things you wrote a long time ago. Remembery makes this process extremely easy.

The calendar (shown in the photo) lets you choose any date you want to view. Dates that you've written something in are shaded green. Plus, there are buttons below the calendar that allow you to view exactly 1 year ago from today or just choose a random entry to read. I really like the random entry feature.

Remembery

What makes Remembery a “connected diary” is the way it lets you connect with Twitter, Facebook, RSS Feeds, and your iDevice Calendar. Once you have set up your connections to all of these networks (which I'll talk about in a minute), Remembery can auto-fetch all of these things upon opening your journal.

When you have something from any of the networks on a given day, a number appears in the upper, right corner of the journal. When you click on the number, a box appears that shows you all the things you did that day on those networks.

Not only can you see them highlighted or choose each 1 separately to view, you can click on the blue arrows and view the full articles of RSS Feeds and full views on anything else in an in-app browser. I LOVE that they don't send you to Safari to view what you want to view.

You can even add any of the items featured in the networks pop-up into your journal as an entry by presing the grey arrow to the left in the pop-up. This will add that item and the time it happened into your journal.

Remembery

About setting these networks up: The menu for grabbing each network is the 4th icon in at the top. In this pop-up, you can import up to 3,500 Tweets and connect to Twitter, connect to Facebook, choose up to 5 RSS Feeds to follow and test them, and approve the Calendar connection. I'll warn you that if you have a lot of Tweets, it will take awhile to import them.

This is also where you go if you want to turn off auto-fetch of these networks, which people running Remembery on older devices may want to do to improve how the app runs.

Remembery

Oh, 1 more thing I forgot: If you're wondering what the other numbers mean that pop up in the upper, right corner of your journal next to the network connections, they are the numbers of Photos you took that day and the places you took them at.

The Photos pop-up shows you all the photos on your Camera Roll for that day and in iCloud. So, on your iPad, you'll also see photos you took on your iPhone and vice versa.

If any of those photos have metadata attatched to them that shows the place they were taken (which depends on the camera app you're using), another number will appear to the left of the Photos number that gives you a pop-up map of where each photo was taken.

Remembery

Now that you have all of this wonderful content added to your journal, you want to make sure you don't lose any of it! That's why Remembery backs up to Dropbox.

Using the last icon at the top of the screen, you can export your entire journal to Dropbox safely and easily. You can even pick specific dates that you want to export, if you don't want to export the entire thing. You can also choose to include the network feeds in your export.

This is also the icon to go to if you are setting up a new device and want to import all of your journal. It is fast and easy to do.

Remembery

If you're overwhelmed with the features in Remembery and need a little help, Remembery has a quick guide, manual, and email support that you can access by clicking on the question mark in the upper, right corner of the screen.

Remembery is 1 of the most full-featured journals I have had the pleasure of using on my iDevices. It runs beautifully on both the iPad and the iPhone. I don't know how they fit all of this onto the iPhone without making it feel cluttered, but somehow they did it, because it looks wonderful on a small screen, too.

Momento

Speaking of small screens, let's talk about Momento.

Momento isn't a flashy app, but it is far and away my absolute favorite app for journaling on the iPhone. There are no fonts to choose from or template/color choices to decide on. It isn't an extremely exciting app to look at, but once you use it, you'll understand why it's so damn good.

When you open Momento (after you set up your social network and RSS Feeds), it literally takes seconds for the app to import and update even months worth of entries. There's a little beepy, popping noise when Momento is done updating your networks and feeds, so you know exactly when it's done.

Each network and feed entry shows up in your Momento Days timeline as its own little section grouped by date and time, starting with the newest. Date bars separate each grouping by day.

Under preferences in the settings of Momento you can even set your preference for when the day ends. For instance, I go to bed very late, so I set the day to end at 3 am. You can also set what day the week begins on and many other things.

If you want to delete something in your Days timeline, click the edit button at the bottom of the screen to enter edit mode.

Momento

Setting up your networks and feeds is extremely easy and quick. Just go to the settings (upper, left) and go to Feeds (Manage your feed accounts). There you can set up feeds and networks for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Foursquare, YouTube, and so many more (photo at right).

RSS and Atom Feeds are added using the Web Feed option.

Settings is also where you go to back up all of your data by exporting it in plain text files to save on your computer. You can even restore Momento from these backups should anything bad happen.

Momento

When it's time to write, you can access the writing window from anywhere by clicking the button in the top, right of the screen (photo above).

Adding a new “moment” to Momento is so easy and fun. The window that pops up 1st lets you set the exact date and time you want stamped for the entry. Then, you can get to the business of writing.

Each entry can be tagged in so many ways it'll make your head spin. Tagging is important, not only because it's fun, but because that's how you can search for and find specific groups of entries to read later on.

The 1st way you can tag an entry is to rate it on the 5-star rating system at the top of the writing section. Just click on the star you want to rate it at and you're set.

Then, you just go through the tabs, 1 by 1, and tag anything you wish. The 2nd tab is for people involved in what you wrote about. The 3rd tab is places. The 4th tab is events, and the 5th tab is custom tags. The last tab is where you add photos to your entry.

Momento

I should add that you can be as creative with tags as you want to be. For instance, people doesn't have to be actual people. I enter things like “my brain” under the people category. I'm similarly as creative with the rest of my tagging answers.

Where I really get to be creative is under custom tags. Although it would make more sense to have a set of tags that you enter to group entries by, I like to make up crazy and stupid tags that make me laugh and apply only to that entry.

The lesson: It's really up to you how you use the tagging system in Momento, but however you use it, it is the most AWESOME tagging system known to iDevice.

Momento

Putting these tags to work comes next. When you're searching for an entry or a group of entries, you can go to the Tags tab and search by the custom tabs you've made up, Events, People, Places, Ratings, and Photos. That is all the tabs I told you about earlier. This is why they're important to use.

Each tag menu is set up in alphabetical order with quick search through the a-z index on the right side.

Tagging in Momento is so extensive that it may take you a bit to fully understand it and get everything set up the way you want, but once you do, you will be pleased as punch.

Momento

Another way to find older posts is through the Calendar. Each day that has a Moment that you added has an orange dot. Each day that has a Feed entry has a blue dot on it, so it is easy to see what's what from afar.

Click on the date to go to that entry.

I feel like I'm not doing Momento justice. It is difficult to show in screenshots and words what makes Momento the most fabulous iPhone journal EVER. It it really something you need to use to know, but I hope that I gave you enough little tastes of what Momento is that you'll want to go and try it.

Momento developers have eluded to the fact that an iPad version of Momento is coming this year. I really hope that happens and that it supports landscape mode! It will double my journaling responsibilities, but I think I can handle it.

That's it for me today. Until later, …

Top 10 Best Big Fish Games of 2013 (So Far)

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1203-AM.jpg

It is about time I did a Big Fish roundup of their hidden object games (although, I’ll mention a few bonuses that are not). I decided to do the 10 best games that have been released so far this year, along with a warning about 2 games you should probably avoid.

In case you haven’t heard of Big Fish, they are developers who specialize mostly in games where you are finding and interacting with objects in scenes that are brought together through the telling of an overarching story. Many of the games are simply find hidden objects, but many require you to use the objects that you find in a certain way to move the story forward.

Most of the games are free to try for the first few levels, and then you can purchase the rest of the game. Big Fish games cost between $2 and $7 for the full version. Although, they have recently starting having a sale price on brand new games for 20%-30% off the full price of the game for the first few days it is out.

As a note, you may want to buy the collector’s editions and not the full version of games. Collector’s editions often give you bonus features like strategy guides and extra game play that the full games may not have. That means you need to download the free versions of the game and buy them in-app, but they are still on sale there. When not on sale, collector’s editions cost about $2 more than the full versions usually. But, they are well worth if they contain extra game play and a strategy guide.

I apologize for just screenshots of screenshots in this post, but all of these games are large and I delete them after I finish with them to make room for more. The games have gotten even larger since the iPad got the Retina screen, which necessitates even more MB.

The Top 10 (in no particular order)

Surface

Surface: Mystery of Another World Collector’s Edition

This iPad only game that was released in January tells the story of a father and son traveling by train when the son suddenly goes missing. The father (you) goes to all lengths to get his son back, even as far as leaving this world behind for another.

What sets this game apart, like many in this top 10, are the stunning graphics, fantastic puzzles, and smooth storytelling. I actually played this game 2 times in a row I liked it so much. The journal that the father keeps also keeps time as a map of the world or area you are in currently and a portal to jump to any of those times. Plus, you can watch any cut scenes that you miss through the journal as little video clips.

Surface is as smooth as can be. All rounded corners, no jagged, unfinished edges. I really can’t recommend it highly enough.

iPad edition

Dark Parables: Rise of the Snow Queen

Dark Parables: Rise of the Snow Queen Collector’s Edition

Rise of the Snow Queen came out just late last week. It tells the story of an investigation led by you into the disappearance of an entire village of children. It is said that the Snow Queen steals children away during snowstorms with her supernatural powers. This time, she may have gone too far and the fate of the world rests in your hands. It is a shame I can’t tell you more about this story because it is built on a well-loved and known fairy tale told in a new and unique way. You’ll be surprised as the story unravels. I’ll say only this. Sometimes bad guys need to be saved, too.

Dark Parables is a line of games by Big Fish. This is the most recent edition for iOS. It is practically flawless in design. The graphics are sensational and the method of play is innovative. The story is not overwhelming, but it is told at a steady pace that will keep you hooked.

iPad edition | iPhone edition

Haunted Mansion

Haunted Manor: Queen of Death Collector’s Edition

Haunted Manor came out in mid-January and is still 1 of the scariest Big Fish Games I have ever played. I’ve played it twice, and it retained its scary grip on me even the 2nd time through.

In Haunted Manor, you do not play a detective. You play a young girl who gets a letter from her twin sister that tells of the rest of the family’s demise. You rush home to help save your sister only to find her elusive. You actually witness the deaths of each of your parents during the game, along with a postman, and your nanny. This is a harsh game in storytelling. I hesitate to say much more about the plot, but suffice it to say, you must fight hard to at least save yourself if nothing else.

Haunted Manor has great hidden object scenes with objects that must be uncovered in the scenes themselves. The puzzles are uncommonly good, and the graphics are perfect. Haunted Manor is a long game made even longer with the extra gameplay in the bonus section. It will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck, but you’ll still want to play more.

iPad edition | iPhone edition

Devil's Triangle

Hidden Expedition 4: Devil’s Triangle

Devil’s Triangle actually came out a few days before the new year, but I had so much fun playing it that I decided it was close enough to count in this roundup. The story continues what was started in Hidden Expeditions 1-3, all of which are out on iOS, I believe, but this is by far the best of the bunch.

Devil’s Triangle is of course the Bermuda Triangle. On assignment with the agency that employs you, you venture there in search of a lost crewmate only to be stuck on an island that shows up on no maps. I’ll warn you though, this story ends on a cliffhanger.

Devil’s Triangle stresses the puzzle over the hidden object scenes, but both do exist. It’s just that using your logical skills and figuring out your next moves will play more heavily in this game than they do in some other pure hidden object games. Graphics are so stunning that this is a BIG download. You may even want to download it on iTunes and sync it to your device, but I didn’t.

If you’re a fan of the hidden object/adventure type games, this game definitely fits in and is up to snuff.

iPad edition | iPhone edition

Cate West Velvet Keys

Cate West: The Velvet Keys

The 2nd Cate West game for iOS came out around Valentine’s Day. This series is highly acclaimed on consoles, but doesn’t fare too well with App Store reviewers, which is a shame. Most of the complaints have to do with there being too much dialogue and having to read too much. 1. This is part story. It can have a lot of dialogue. 2. There are voice actors to read you everything, so there’s no actual reading involved.

If you haven’t played the 1st Cate West game for iOS, I’d recommend you do that 1st. The story will make more sense. For those of you who know it, this game finds Cate and Ben on another case that will lead them closer to the truth about who they are and where they are going. The story is extraordinary!

I love the Cate West series because there are about 4-5 types of puzzles and hidden object type scenes per chapter and there are about 15-20 chapters, making this a long game. The games can be somewhat glitchy, but I found just signing off and signing back in were enough to fix them. And, it is worth doing that to play such an awesome game.

iPad edition | iPhone edition

Redemption Cemetery 2

Redemption Cemetery: Children’s Plight Collector’s Edition

In early January, Redemption Cemetery 2 was released. It is better than the 1st 1, in my opinion. The story told is different than in the 1st, but the actions taken to get things done are the same. You must help put to rest the concerns holding the deceased to their resting places in 1 cemetery.

The fantastical places you’ll visit seem like you’re visiting other worlds. The play on light and dark, both literally and figuratively, give Redemption Cemetery a wonderful look. The hidden object scenes are interactive and the puzzles are well worth playing.

iPad Edition | iPhone Edition

The Fool

The Fool

The Fool just came out yesterday, but I have already finished it (that’s why this is being published today and not last night). I wasn’t sure what to think of it at 1st, but by the end, I was in love.

You play The Fool, who is hardly a fool at all. Your character enters a town that has been beset by a dragon. The king has promised the princess and half the kingdom to anyone who can kill the dragon and bring proof. That’s all I’m going to tell you, but do let me say that the journey your character goes on is a long 1 that seems as it it is coming to an end many times only to be extended.

The hidden object scenes are both beautiful and interactive. The graphics are gorgeous. The story is original. There’s really no reason I can think of that you should not try The Fool. Plus, it’s only $3.99 on the iPad for the next few days.

iPad edition | iPhone edition

Elixir of Immortality

Elixir of Immortality

Elixir of Immortality, which was released about 2 weeks ago, is kind of sci-fi meets the dragon age. You play a detective (surprise, surprise) who has been assigned to investigate the mysterious goings on of a group of “scientists” working for the castle owner on an island. Someone in the bunch is a murderer, and you have to figure out who it is without being discovered as a detective.

This is not your usual suspense/adventure game. It is full of fun and fancy. The hidden object scenes are beautiful, but the puzzles are so much fun. So many of them are just completely original.

If you’re looking for something new and original that doesn’t scare you much at all, Elixir of Immortality is definitely a game for you.

iPad edition | iPhone edition

Dark Strokes

Dark Strokes: Sins of the Fathers Collector’s Edition

This addition is another little cheat of mine on the date part, because it was released New Year’s Eve, but close enough.

Dark Strokes (besides having a kind of, um, well, interesting name) is a stunningly beautiful game all around. You play Ethan, who is trying to save his fiancé from something known as the Faceless Ones. The journey takes you all over a completely destroyed city that is teeming with supernatural forces.

This Collector’s Edition does get you extra game play, which is great, because recently not all Collector’s Editions have had it. Sometimes they just include stupid things like wallpaper and music from the game.

iPad edition | iPhone edition

Phenomenon

Phenomenon: City of Cyan

Phenomenon came out at the end of February. I had a hard time picking a 10th for this list, because although I loved so many other games, including this 1, they all seem to have some drawback or something that just didn’t sit well or play right.

City of Cyan is a great game, though. Particularly because the story it tells is so original that you will not feel like you’ve heard this 1 before. The puzzles and interactive hidden object scenes are just as original.

Oh, the story. You play Monica, who has returned to the City of Cyan to try to uncover the secrets surrounding her childhood in the city and find her parents. You are alone in the city, almost, because 20 years ago a dangerous experiment destroyed much of the city and turned the citizens into strange creatures.

iPad edition | iPhone edition

2 Games I’ve Already Reviewed This Year

There are 2 games I have already reviewed this year, or they would’ve made the top 10 list. So, I thought I would send you to their full reviews for more information.

2 Games I’d Avoid

There are 2 games that were so awful I either didn’t buy the full game (G.H.O.S.T. Hunters: The Haunting of Majesty Manor) or bought but soon deleted (Escape the Museum: The Complete Series). Both of these games had graphics so horrendous they made my eyes hurt trying to play them. They had weak stories and even weaker design sense.

What Did I Miss? and Assorted News

Did I miss any of your favorite games from this year? Let me know in the comments section what you liked and didn’t like or if you disagree with 1 of my selections.

Just because I didn’t mention every game that came out on this list, doesn’t mean that almost all the others lacked some redeeming quality. Except for the 2 games I mentioned, I have played every single game that came out this year (forever, I think). If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

2 games I didn’t mention but that I will do full reviews on at a later date are Fetch and Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened. I’m in the midst of playing both games and they are absolute winners! Fetch was even an Editor’s Choice app of the week in the App Store. However, neither game is a hidden object game, so they seemed a little out of place in the Top 10 I wrote today.

By the way, if you’re waiting for the next Big Fish sale, I think it will be Mother’s Day weekend. I will Tweet and post here as soon as I know.

That’s it for me today. Until later, …

Related Links on iOS Affairs:

 

 

Handy Photo For People Passionate About Photo Editing

Handy Photo Editing

Handy Photo Editing makes great photos a breeze to make.

There's a brand new app called Handy Photo that will totally knock your socks off. Handy, by ADVA Soft, will be compared to Snapseed, and for good reason, but it is so much more than that.

This universal app uses a swipe gesture to change things like brightness and contrast and everything else, which is comparable to the way you change those things in Snapseed. However, Handy goes beyond simple editing changes and takes you on a journey you'll be so excited to go on.

Don't get me wrong. I still love Snapseed, but Handy just takes what Snapseed does and puts it on steroids.

One of the things I like about Handy is that the wheel (photo above) is always available. Just click in that corner to open the wheel and you can move to any part of the editing process you choose. No processing and then being taken back to the menu and then having to choose again.

After you make a change in Handy, you just press the checkmark in the lower, right corner of the screen to process the changes. Then, you just click the big wheel to choose what to do next. That's how you go to the home screen, save, pick another photo, or pick another editing choice.

But, let's start at the beginning.

Handy tutorials

When you open Handy Photo, you can bring in a photo from the gallery (your Photos app), take a photo with the camera, or look at 1 of the tutorials (pictured at left).

If you've been working on something and have to stop, you also have the option of continuing that project when you come back to the app from this menu.

Handy tutorials

There are tutorials that show you how to use each and every tool in Handy Photo. Some of these editing tools may be unfamiliar to you, so a tutorial is a good idea, although when you're using a tool, you can always press the question mark at the top of the screen to find some tips on using that tool.

The only thing I don't like about the tutorials is that they take you outside of the app to YouTube. I hate an app that points me outside of the app itself. They also take the risk of losing me when I get distracted with the Internet. I would love to see an optional written/photo tutorial added with the videos either in the app or as a link for further information.

Handy Photo

Once you choose a photo from your gallery or take a photo, you arrive at the screen where all editing takes place. All you do to change what you're working on is to spin the wheel in the upper, right corner. Just click on the hand to make the menu pop out again.

You start anywhere, but we'll start at the top with Magic Crop.

Tip: You can always tell which tool you're using from the icon on the inside of the little wheel that is about to pop up.

Anti-cropping

You may have heard of the AntiCrop app (made by the same developer as Handy Photo). Magic Crop does the same thing, but Handy Photo does so much more than that, too.

Anti-cropping is really a cloning technique that copies whatever is near the edge of the picture and makes it look like you've expanded out from the sides of the photo. So, if you took a lovely photo of the ocean but wanted it to be wider, you could use anti-cropping or Magic Crop to make the photo bigger in any direction. It looks like you're adding back in something that was cropped out, hence the name.

However, because it is really just cloning what it sees is already in the picture, this technique does not work so well with photos of people or detailed items. It works best with nature shots and the outdoors.

I started with the 2nd photo from the top of this post. That was the begin point for me. I was able to make the room look taller with Magic Crop (in the photo just above). But, when I tried it on the refrigerator, it didn't look so good. It copied the white and pink papers and put them everywhere. But, this is a great tool for making nature shots look wider and fuller, so keep it handy (excuse the pun).

This is also the screen where you can actually crop an image and set a certain size and ratio for the photo or rotate it. Tools to set the ratio, etc., are on the little wheel in the lower, left side of the screen. Also, by sliding your finger outside the photo boundaries, you can straighten uneven horizons from this screen. Just click the white checkmark when you're finished. If you have any problems, click the question mark for tips.

Handy Photo

The next stop on the big wheel is Tone & Color. This is where you'll find all the usual things like brightness, contrast, temperature, etc. The choices for changes are found on the little wheel on the left again.

To make any of the changes, you just slide your finger across the photo left and right. The further right you go, the more intense the effect, left makes it less intense. To see where you're at, the name of what you're doing and the percentage you're at is at the top of the photo.

This set-up is going to feel 2nd-nature to Snapseed fans and where all the comparisons are coming from. But, as you can already see, Handy Photo serves up a lot more in a totally different way than Snapseed.

When you're done with all the Tone & Color changes you want to make, click the white checkmark. This is what you do at the end of every step, although, if you accidentally switch to another step and forget the checkmark, the app will remind you and give you the chance to save your changes.

Retouch

The next wheel-stop is Retouch. Retouch is another word for erase. With the Retouch tool, you can get rid of something easily by just highlighting or lassoing it and then tapping to process the change. Use the eraser to correct any area you've highlighted that you don't really want retouched.

This is really another use of the clone tool because what it is really doing is cloning adjoining areas of the area you're trying to get rid of and copying those areas to the area you've highlighted.

Tip: To change the size of the area you're highlighting, just click the button in the middle on the right side of the screen. Then, you just slide right or left on the screen to make the Retouch area smaller or larger.

Again, this works with some photos and not with others. It's great for getting rid of a boat on a lake when you just want the lake or a skiier when you just want the mountain. It doesn't work so well when you try to Retouch a face as you're apt to get an eyeball in the middle of a cheek.

As you can see in the photo above, I successfully removed the refrigerator but accidentally copied the light switch. I have to be more careful.

Clone stamp

The next turn of the wheel brings us to the Clone Stamp. This is a really cool feature that is done very well in Handy Photo. As you can see in the photo, I've created 2 Luke's.

I chose the Classic Clone Stamp from the little wheel, adjusted the stamp size and smoothness on the middle, right, and tapped where I wanted to start cloning.

A big circle highlighting the area being cloned appears where you tap. You start brushing where you want that cloned section to appear. Then, you just color in the area. The big circle moves to match your movements. It's really a pretty cool way to do this feature.

Use the eraser to undo little mistakes you make.

There is also a patterned clone stamp, but I don't know what it does. As much as I love all of you, I hate watching YouTube videos. It must be a genetic flaw on my part, I'm sure. So, if you figure out what it does, leave a comment.

Move Me

My not-so-careful highlighting for Move Me.

Turning the wheel again brings us to Move Me, another cloning technique that is just amazing to use.

You can use the lasso or the paintbrush to highlight any area that you want to duplicate. That area turns red like in the photo above. After you mark the object, you choose whether you want to move that object or duplicate it by pressing the buttons in the middle, right of the screen.

Not a tree

The 1st tree to tree button is for moving an object. The 2nd tree to tree button is to duplicate and move the object. Whichever you choose, the area that was red turns to white outlining and you can then drag it to wherever you wish. You can even choose another photo to move it to because it is a new and separate layer at this point.

While the item is still white and outlined, you can edit just that part of the photo with the little wheel on the left. You can change the opacity, saturation, and smoothness of the edge. You can also transform the object by rotating it or flipping it horizontally or vertically.

After your selection is edited to your satisfaction, the buttons on the middle, right side come in again. The top button duplicates the area and places it wherever it is at right then. The 2nd button merges the white outline with the photo wherever you've placed it. The last button opens up your Photos app gallery and lets you choose another photo to move the white outline area to.

History

If you make a mistake, there's always the undo and redo buttons in the top, left. However, with Handy Photo, there is also a record of every move you make in the app under the history. Just press the rewind clock button to the left of the undo/redo buttons to see all the changes you've made thus far and click on 1 of them to return to that point in the editing process.

Tip: I forgot to mention the other button up there. The button between the history button and the undo/redo buttons shows you the original photo you started with briefly when you press it. This is a good way to compare what you started with and what you've done.

The price you pay

All that history does come with a load of space requirements. If you find Handy taking up too much space on your device, just go to the settings button on the big wheel. From there, you can clear the history. I would do this after every photo or every few photos. This is also where you set the maximum resolution and a few other things.

Filters

You can alter and combine filters in Handy.

The big wheel keeps spinning and this time we've reached Filters. The filter options pop up as a medium-sized wheel in the lower, right. There are about 20 filters that include things like color process, vintage, and many more. Depending on which filter you choose, the tools on the small wheel on the left (in photo below) are different.

Filter altering

For a filter like Vignette, you can change the gradient, shape, and strength. For the Vintage filter, you can change the noise strength and strength of the overall filter. To make changes, swipe left and right on the screen.

Play around. Push buttons until you know what everything does. In this case, swipe things.

When you have your filter or filters just how you want, click the famous white checkmark. Unlike many other apps, you are free to choose another filter and another 1 and just keep clicking the checkmark. History keeps track of each filter you use. But, remember that if you use the history function, it gets rid of everything else you've done since the point you choose to go back to.

Textures

Textures can add so much to any photo.

Next stop: Textures.

This section works much like the Filters section did. You choose a texture category from the medium-size wheel, and then, press the small wheel to see what alterations can be made to it. The big difference here is that what you're choosing from the medium wheel is a category. Once you open up the small wheel, other similar looks in that cateogry pop up as swatches in the middle, right of the screen.

The alterations that can be made include the texture we've talked about, transforming by flipping or rotating, color, lightness, vignette, and overall strength of the effect. You can also just partially apply the texture using the button to the far left on the small wheel.

To make changes, such as to the lightness of the effect, you swipe left and right on the screen just like under the Tone & Color section. Again, you really will need to play around with this category to find what you like. I can only tell you the basics.

Frames

The wheels keep on turning, turning, turning ...

The final stop on the wheel brings us to Frames.

This section works much like the previous 2. Choose a frame you like from the medium wheel and make changes to it with the small wheel. Changes that can be made to any frame include its size, color, and saturation. You can also move the photo inside the frame using the Photo Positioning button on the small wheel.

Once you click that white checkmark this time, you're done! We made it. All the way through the Handy Photo walthrough. Just save the photo to your gallery (Photos app), or share it on a social network or through email. The save, settings, and home button are on the big wheel on the iPad, on the bottom of the screen after you touch the big wheel on the iPhone.

Handy Photo is a fabulous app. I like every last detail of it. Except for the color blue as the background, but that is a minor detail that is made up for with all of Handy's other features. Handy Photo is like 50 other photo editing apps smooshed into 1 fabulous editing center.

I have 1 more thing to say today and then I'll let you good people go.

Luke

My model today is my nephew Luke. Luke would've been 19 on Saturday, but he took his life last year in August as some of you may remember. I just wanted to remember him the way he was. Trying to escape my camera with a little smile on his face.

If you know someone you suspect might commit suicide or someone tells you they want to commit suicide, call 911 immediately. I know it's a scary step. It seems drastic. But, so is suicide. If you want to commit suicide, read this now, please.

Sorry to change course on the rest of you, but I just needed to say that. I'll return to my normal, somewhat humorous reviewing tomorrow.

That's it for me today. Until later, …

Doctor Who Encyclopedia is Truly Out of This World

The Doctor Who Encyclopedia

Welcome to the definitive source for all things in Whoville.

Doctor Who fans who have an iPad have an app that is an absolute must. The Doctor Who Encyclopedia is the most amazing, out of this world experience any Whovian could ask for.

Doctor Who searching

Whoville is a complicated place to visit and a maze of characters, plots, storylines, companions, enemies, and so much more. This encyclopedia aims to give you a full map to get through that maze without injury and with as little pain to your brain trying to figure everything out as possible.

Doctors 9-11

I will tell original Doctor Who fans that this encylopedia is only for Doctors 9-11. If you want the whole series, this is not the app for you. This app is solely focused on the new incarnation of the Doctor Who series that started on BBC with the 9th Doctor.

However, so much leaks through. So many enemies, companions, and friends reappear. Storylines get revisited. There are twists and turns that will be understood all the better if you were an original Doctor Who watcher.

Doctor Who home page

Speaking of enemies, allies, companions, and the like, The Doctor Who Encyclopedia covers it all. There are more than 4,000 articles contained in this 1 app.

You used to only get the current Doctor with the purchase of the app (a pricey $6.99, but so worth it). And, then you had to purchase the 9th and 10th doctors separately. Which, like a good little Whovian, I did. But now, much to my chagrin but a boon to new users, all the Doctors are included in the initial price. So, you get all 4,000+ articles for $6.99.

Doctor 11

My Doctor

Now, I have to admit that I am new to the Whovian universe. I was an occasional passenger with the 9th and 10th Doctors. I saw a Christmas episode or 2, but I was not a regular viewer until Doctor 11 arrived. I don't know what changed or what made me dive in, but I am now watching the entire series over again.

And, although I consider Doctor 11 “my Doctor,” I do NOT have a favorite Doctor. I'm in love with all 3 of them!

The series'

If, like me, you haven't seen every single episode, you'll want to be careful in using this encyclopedia. This encyclopedia is an exact record of every person, place, and thing that has happened since the 9th Doctor arrived.

Example episode

Even if you have seen every single episode, you may learn a thing or 2 with The Doctor Who Encyclopedia.

If you follow along with each episode, there is an A-Z guide to each 1. Plus, all the episodes, characters, places, and objects that have connections to other episodes are detailed to the right. And, each 1 is a link to that article. Each 1 is a portal.

Find 1 that you particularly like? Add it to your favorites and then go there to view them all together.

My favorite

The developers seem committed to keeping this app up to date. So, I imagine that we'll see season 8 before too long. I can't promise that it will be free, but I can promise that it will be worth it.

If you haven't jumped aboard the Who-train, why not? It's fun. It's funny. It's weird, smart, ecclectic, original, scary, hopeful, beautiful, ugly, real, and fantastical. It's perfect science fiction.

It makes you want to travel through time and find the Doctor. It made me buy a Roku and Hulu Plus so that I can watch the current season right now instead of waiting. I've run out of Netflix episodes :(

Companions

Whether you're a new Whovian or a really old fan of the show, The Doctor Who Encyclopedia is a delightful treat for each of you to devour.

There is not a misstep at all in this app. Each link works. Each section is integrated fully with the rest of the app. Each step you take will pull you deeper and deeper into the Whovian universe until you are fully immersed and there is no chance of escape.

Places & Times

I so wish there were apps like this for each of my obsessions. I really need a Buffy the Vampire Slayer app just like this 1. I would love to see more from this developer. I don't even care if it is something I am interested in.

Apps this good are a rare breed. This app just works and it draws you in. Admire the fine craftsmanship that went into the making of this app.

You have to admire the love, time, and attention to detail that went into the making of this fascinating, amazing, and in-depth encyclopedia.

That's it for me today. Until later, …

The credits

The credits.

Roundup: Let’s Take a Look at the Stylus

Styluses?

My stylus collection under review.

I'm taking a break from app reviews today to take a closer look at something that can help you use some of your apps. The stylus. I know I've been taking a lot of breaks in general lately, but it's been doctor's orders and I do apologize. That aside, let's get started looking at the best stylus to use for each situation.

Using a stylus is really personal preference. It also depends on what you are doing. Sometimes using a stylus is great for just flicking around pages and scrolling on the Internet. Sometimes using a stylus is the best option for writing handwritten notes in certain apps. And, sometimes using a stylus can help you create beautiful art.

This was supposed to be a top 5 stylus roundup, as you can see in the picture above. However, the Acar stylus does not appear to be for sale anywhere right now. These things do come and go, and apparently the Acar went.

So, here is my roundup of 4 of my favorite stylus'.

Maglus stylus

The Maglus comes with a lot of accessories.

The Maglus just came in the mail today, but it is becoming a fast friend. It is The Verge's top pick of all stylus' in their updated roundup.

The Maglus has a very unique shape which could make it difficult for some people to hold. But, if you hold a pen in the “normal” way, The Verge says you will be able to use the Maglus with no problem. I don't hold a pen in the “normal” way, and I still have no problem using the flat-sided Maglus.

The Maglus comes in a tube wrapped in a microfiber cloth that you can use to clean your iPad's screen. It also comes with 1 replacement tip in a handy metal keychain container that is easy to keep around for when it is needed.

Maglus stylus on my iPad

Two of the flat sides have rubber on them, making it easy to grip the Maglus. Hidden inside the rubber sides are strong magnets that allow you to place your Maglus stylus on your iPad's frame (front, back, on top of a smartcover, wherever) and it sticks like glue, as you can see in the picture above. Careful where you store the Maglus, though. The magnets could wipe your credit cards or screw up other things, like hard drives.

The reason The Verge picked the Maglus as top all-around best stylus is for its ultra sensitive and accurate rubber tip. It is very precise, making it great for writing, but not so great for art.

Buying the Maglus is a little difficult. It is not available through Amazon. The Maglus developers, Applydea, do have a website and store where you can purchase the Maglus stylus. You can use PayPal to purchase the stylus through their store or use a credit card. The price is in Euros, but it equals out to about $30 with delivery.

The Maglus is a solid and practical stylus. It feels well made and well worth the price.

Bamboo Solo

The Bamboo Solo is now available in many colors.

My next favorite stylus is the Bamboo Solo. This was The Verge's top pick last year in their roundup and it still holds up as one of their favorites.

I bought the Bamboo when it first arrived on the scene and was only available in black. It now comes in many colors and their are other styles of the Bamboo as well.

At just under $30, the Bamboo Solo, made by Wacom, is another pricey stylus, but it is well worth it. It has one of the smallest tips on available and the tip is replaceable. I just bought 4 replacement tips on Amazon for $1 a piece. The Bamboo Solo itself is also available to buy through Amazon.com. The link takes you to the black Bamboo Solo. To find other colors, just search Amazon for “Bamboo stylus.”

Wow, in adding that link to Amazon, I just saw that it is on sale through Amazon for only $17. What a deal!

The small, accurate tip is the killer feature on the Bamboo Solo. I like that everything is removeable. You can even take off the clip at the top. And, it feels substantial in your hand. The tip is mushier than the Maglus, which makes it better for painting and other artistic endeavors.

Kuel H10

This tiny stylus is great for surfing pages.

My next favorite stylus has to be the Kuel H10. It has gone through some changes since I first started buying this series. The first Kuel was slick sided and just different. The current Kuel H10 is the same size as the original, but the sides are made of something rougher that makes it easier to grip this little stylus.

The Kuel H10 has a lot of amazing features. It has the absolute smallest tip available on any stylus. It also has a top that you can use to cover up the tip when you're not using it, making it easy to throw in a pocket or a purse and not worry about ruining the tip. The top does have a loop on it that you can use to tie it to something as well. I looped it through my old Saddleback leather case, which kept it handy at all times.

The last new and pretty cool feature on the Kuel H10 is that the end of it is retractable, making it longer than it used to be if you want to hold it like a regular pen.

The Kuel H10 is available through Amazon.com for about $13, making it a great buy. The link takes you to the black Kuel H10, but it is available in many other colors.

The Kuel H10 is small, but it has an amazingly accurate and precise tip. It is also cheaper than all of the other stylus' in this roundup, but it feels solid and well made.

TruGlide stylus

The TruGlide has a really unique tip.

The last stylus I will recommend today is the TruGlide. The TruGlide sets itself apart from the pack with its very unique tip. It looks liked metal, but it is really a soft microfiber.

The microfiber tip lets you really glide across the screen with absolutely no resistance and no halting or catching that some rubber tips can cause. This makes the TruGlide perfect for surfing through pages and the Internet and also for playing games.

The TruGlide is smaller, a little longer than the Kuel H10, and has no retractable parts to make it longer. But, I have absolutely no problem holding it in my hand (albeit, I have very small hands). It also has an attachment at the end that lets you plug it into the headphone jack so that you can easily keep track of it.

How to hold short stylus'

As a tip for holding these smaller stylus', I hold them inside my hand rather than holding them like a pen. I don't know if this will work for you, but I thought I would let you know so you can try it out.

The smaller stylus' are also great if you want to use a stylus on your iPhone. The smaller tips make them a solid alternative. If you have gloves on in the winter, a stylus can really come in handy.

The TruGlide stylus is available for purchase through Amazon.com for about $16, making another great buy. This link takes you to the brushed metal TruGlide, but it is available in other colors if you search.

I haven't had the TruGlide for long, but I love the soft tip and the way that it truly glides across the screen with no resistance and no effort.

That's it for me today. Until later, …

Related Link:

2013: A Year in Review

Tracy:

We all get excited when we see that our Annual Report is available on the Dashboard. With fireworks & all!

Did you know that WordPress itself gets the same kind of Annual Review each year? Take a look at some amazing numbers & outcomes (which you helped them to achieve).

The stat monkeys really did an outstanding job with this one! There are no fireworks, but what could have been a boring list of numbers & comparisons is actually a beautifully laid out report that is overflowing with bright colors & dynamic design.

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

With 2013 behind us, we can now take a look at our community’s incredible accomplishments over the past year. Here’s the year that was on WordPress.com.

13,704,819 new blogs in 2013

That’s a 36% increase from 2012, during which you created 10 million new blogs.

489,281,136 posts in 2013

That’s 12 times the number of books in the Library of Congress!

667,675,929 comments in 2013

That’s an average of 21 comments per second for the entire year.

comments since you’ve been
on this page.

95,424,985 likes in 2013

That’s almost 38,000 times the number of stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The most popular topics in 2013

You’ve written about thousands of topics in 2013. Here are the top ten:

  1. Photography328,763 posts
  2. Video289,493 posts
  3. Politics282,893 posts
  4. Music282,434 posts
  5. Life280,219 posts
  6. News259,493 posts
  7. Art240,367 posts
  8. Love168,657 posts
  9. Humor155,213 posts
  10. Food105,528…

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Disconnect, The Anti-Ad Tracking Startup, Now Has A Privacy App Specifically For Children (Built By An Ex-NSA Engineer)

Tracy:

This is a really cool idea that sounds like it will be a solid app. The benefit to parents via their children’s digital safety is quite apparent. I love that it was built by an ex-NSA engineer! That just tickles me. I know the app was built for children, but I might just have to give it a try myself. I don’t see why kids should have all the fun! :)

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

More than 1 million people are using apps and browser extensions each week from Disconnect, the anti-tracking, anti-ad targeting startup to block how third-party sites track your online movements and then serve ads based on those movements. Now it’s taking its campaign to the next generation. Today, the company is launching Disconnect Kids, a free iOS app designed specifically for children (and their parents) to help them control how their web- and app-browsing activity is used, and to educate them about online privacy in the process. It claims that it is the first iOS app designed to “prevent data about your web-browsing and in-app activity from ever leaving your device.”

And given the ongoing revelations about PRISM, the National Security Agency and Internet privacy, there is a kind of poetic justice in the app, too: the technology powering Disconnect Kids was built by Patrick Jackson, an engineer…

View original 629 more words

Highlights & Detours From My App Store Download Spree

App Store spree

‘Mama Said There’d Be Months Like This’

Sorry I’ve been MIA. Hopefully you caught my last post from June that explained that I have been very sick. I am feeling much, much better now! Thanks to all my loyal readers for your patience & concern.

I’m back now, though, & I hope that will continue to be true for the foreseeable future.

I am WAY behind in answering emails. If you’ve emailed me & I haven’t responded yet, I apologize. I am trying to get caught up in that area & I promise I will respond as soon as possible.

I wrote about half of the following post almost 2 months ago. I finished it up today. I hope it still flows together nicely & makes sense. It’s awfully long, but it has a ton of tiny tips, reviews, & iOS info that may be helpful to almost any user. & yes, these are mini-reviews. If you’re a regular reader, you know how long a normal review of 1 app is when written by me!

Lastly, I will be doing an iOS 7 info & rumor roundup as soon as I can get caught up on what’s going on in the iOS news world. As with everything else, I’m a little behind on what’s what there.

Okay, on with the show!

App Store spree

Every App But the Kitchen Sink

To distract myself, I often do “research” in the App Store. By research, I mean that I get a random idea of an app or category of apps that I am interested in or absolutely need, & then I spend hours in the App Store chasing down exactly what that is.

While looking for the exact right app, I also download everything else that looks interesting. I often get sidetracked by interesting apps & end up doing another line of research that can then spiral into another line of research & so on.

It may sound like a mess, but I am extremely methodical in my searching.

App Store spree

Lack of ‘Order & Organization’

By the time I’m done, I find myself with pages of apps (like the 6 you see in photos above & below this section from my most recent research spree) on both of my iDevices that I’ll need to test. I am very strict with my organization on my devices. Until I know how an app works, it does not go into 1 of my neatly organized & Emoji titled folders.

These free-range apps remain uncategorized until I get to them to test them & make sure I know how they work.

I had to make an exception about folders on my iPhone this time, because I literally ran out of pages to put apps on.

Tip: You only get 10 pages, plus the home page to put apps on. So, I put all the apps I downloaded over the past few days into folders on 1 page to wait for testing (see bottom photo below). I am not yet sure how or if this will change with iOS 7, since you will be able to put pages of apps inside each folder.

App Store spree

App Store spree

In the Cloud

My most recent research phase began about about 4 days ago & ended yesterday (UPDATE: this all took place in June). It began with a search for cloud storage for my 14,000 photos currently busting the seams of the memory capacity of my iPhone & iPad.

Researching cloud storage (I already have Dropbox, Box, & MegaCloud, plus Apple’s iCloud), I really was looking for something that could hold all the photos I have & will have, with background uploading, & easy access to the photos to use them for projects, if I needed to.

& of course, it has have an app & be iOS friendly.

One of the solutions I am considering is Flickr’s new terabyte of space that they offer all users. (UPDATE: I signed up for Flickr, but I’ve decided it’s not really a “storage” place for me. I feel pressure to share photos that I upload, although it is not a rule, & so I tend not to load to many photos. At least as of yet.)

Top 20 Finds

I’ll let you know which cloud storage solution I’m trying out in just a minute. In fact, I’ll give you a run-down of 20 apps that really caught my eye during this 3-day research extravaganza.

All 20 apps were chosen because of their innovativeness in doing something I hadn’t seen before in any other app, or because of the flawless way they executed a task that may not be original, but that felt that way with these apps.

A Few Detours

Whenever you search for anything big in the App Store (or Google, or anywhere), you always end up with strange things that don’t seem to belong to the search criteria you’ve entered. I don’t know about you. Maybe you just skip over those things & ignore them. I just physically can’t make myself ignore them.

Flickr apps in the App Store

I’m sure I found a thing or 2 among the cloud storage apps that interested me, but it was when I was searching Flickr apps (3rd-party ones, like in the photo above) that I started to find strange & wonderful apps I had never seen or heard of but that instantly caught my attention.

Next, I chased greeting card makers. I thought I already owned all of them.

But, the thing about the App Store is that you can own every app in a category. But, wait 5 minutes & you’ll be shocked at how many new apps pop up in that category.

Somehow, I followed Facebook apps out of the greeting card area. I remember searching for an iPad Facebook app a few years ago when I 1st got my iPad.

My how things have changed! There are some absolutely outstanding 3rd-party Facebook apps that do just about everything, & many things you’d never even think of (at least not until I tell you about them).

There were some other narrow roads & blind alleys I followed that didn’t lead anywhere exciting, but I still managed to find apps there, too.

By the numbers

I ended up with 84 new iPad apps to try & an astounding 168 new iPhone apps! That’s 252 apps in 3 days, but that number doesn’t include the games I routinely search for on a daily basis & apps I found in AppShopper Social.

What’s funny is that of the 252 apps I downloaded (only a fraction of which will survive testing), I only actually paid for a handful of them, & probably spent about $10.

I got lucky with many of them, & many of them are lite versions. So, once I test them, I could end up spending more through upgrading the apps I like.

The actual number of apps I downloaded over that 3-day period is probably closer to 300. Even for me, that’s a lot, & it is going to take me a LONG while to get caught up again with all of those apps just waiting to be tested. On an average day, I download anywhere from 10 to 30 apps. However, “average” days are sporadic where apps are concerned.

But, that’s just the way the ebb & flow of my iDevice life goes. I own close to 6,000 iOS apps currently.

I almost consistently have 1,000+ apps on each device, & I try to know what each of them does. However, I routinely have to cull out apps I’m not really using to make way for new apps or to get my memory back up to a respectable level.

Well, I’ve rambled on long enough about this (& I hope you found some of it interesting!).

So, let’s take a look at the Top 20 apps I found on my App Store adventure.

The Top 20 App Finds: Mini-Reviews

I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly use any of the following apps to the extent I would if I were writing a real review. I may write full reviews on some of them in the future.

What I really want to point out today are the features that make these apps unique & why they stand out from the crowd.

Without further ado & in no particular order …

myshoebox

MyShoebox – Photo Backup and Cloud Storage (universal, FREE, subscription offered)

I found the perfect solution for my photo woes when I discovered MyShoebox. The app is highly rated & has been talked up by almost every major news source.

MyShoebox offers unlimited photo storage for FREE, but the photos are only saved at screen resolution, which is not so good & can’t be used if you want to have them printed in the future or do anything else with them. If you want your photos saved at full/original resolution, it only costs $5 a month. That’s it!

MyShoebox has almost everything I am looking for in a cloud storage service.

I don’t need to save documents (or, if I do, I can use Dropbox, etc.). I just have photos, which is what MyShoebox specializes in.

The only thing I wanted that MyShoebox is lacking is background uploading. Also, the wonderful general interface of the app does not work in landscape mode :( But, other than those 2 things, MyShoebox is absolutely perfect. I plan on writing a very respectful letter to the developer requesting my 2 desires.

UPDATE: I contacted the MyShoebox developers & their speedy response informed me that they have many things planned for the future of the app that are very exciting!

The universal app for MyShoebox is awesome. It’s not just a window to the cloud where your photos are stored; it is a fun way to look through your photos & learn more about them.

In the photo above, you can see that MyShoebox analyzes your photos & then tells you the most popular cities you took them in, the most common time of day & day of the week, the most common camera you used, & so on. Or, you can look at a timeline of your photos that begins with a Remember When section. You can also start a photo gallery to share with others (they don’t have to have MyShoebox to see the photos, either).

So, I’m going to try MyShoebox out & my hopes are high that it will be all good. I don’t have to worry about running out of GBs. I don’t have to traipse from cloud storage provider to cloud storage provider to find all of my photos stashed piecemeal in the cloud. And, I can finally delete some of the photos I don’t use as much off my devices & gain some much-needed memory & iCloud space.

UPDATE: I have been using MyShoebox now for a few months & I totally love it! It’s exactly what I needed & is so reasonably priced. The app makes it extremely easy to find your photos, share them, redownload them & anything else you may need.

photo album for Facebook

Photo Album for Facebook (universal, $2.99; FREE version here)

There is also an iPhone-only version for $1.99, but if you have an iPad, that version seems silly.

I haven’t had much of a chance to play with this book, but I did already upgrade from the FREE version.

It is a unique way to look at Facebook photos with a vintage feel that can be adjusted using different backgrounds, colors, photo mattes & such.

But, the really cool thing about this Photo Album is that you can choose to look at all the photos currently in your news feed (or jump back years & years to see what was in your news feed long ago). You can also choose to show only your own photos & albums or to show only 1 friend’s photos or a group of friends photos.

You can also sort photos out by tags, but I’m not sure how that works yet.

With real page-flip technology, Photo Album for Facebook is just the best way to look at Facebook photos. Oh, & you can even leave “likes” & comments on photos from within the app. There are a ton of Facebook photo album organizers, but this 1 is the best I have seen or tried & it’s also the least amount of work for you to do. It’s all done for you & it’s done perfectly.

Try the FREE version, but I almost guarantee you’ll switch to the paid version.

printicular

Printicular (universal, FREE)

I knew you could send your iOS Camera Roll photos to Walgreens to get prints using the Walgreens app, but I had no idea that Walgreens also accepted photos from so many other digital sources & that there is an app that lets you browse & select photos to be printed from all those sources.

In the past few years, I transitioned into a fully digital girl. I prefer looking at my photos digitally in cool app formats & virtual collage/scrapbooks. I like knowing my photos won’t get ruined or age & being able to make art out of the same photo over & over & over.

But, I wasn’t always a digital girl.

I used to be the girl who saved up all her money to get tons & tons of rolls of film developed. & I have to admit, if Walgreens makes it this easy to get prints from all the places I’ve stashed photos (which is every place on that list in the photo above), I may just have to get some of them made real.

I wonder if they can ship them to your house, too? That’d make this all perfect!

feed pro

FEED PRO FOR FACEBOOK + CHAT & PHOTO STUDIO (iPhone only, FREE)

Despite the name only including Facebook and Facebook Chat, FEED PRO also incorporates Twitter into its gesture-driven, minimalistic app. The app is FREE, & I haven’t seen any ads yet. It is not iPhone 5 friendly, but I can look past that (I think).

There’s a handy button in the corner that lets you to add content of any kind to Facebook or Twitter with little fuss. A cool & uncommon feature I have yet to try out is the full-featured photo editor.

UPDATE: I heartily apologize, but when I was checking to make sure links work, I discovered that this app is no longer available to U.S. App Store customers!

pop-up album

Pop-up Album (universal, FREE with in-app purchases)

Anyone who finds traditional photo albums boring & scrapbooks too flat is definitely in for a treat with Pop-up Album. This FREE-to-try app ($1.99 in-app purchase for additional content) lets you create as many pop-up photo/text/fun cut-out books as you want & the app lines them up on a bookshelf.

Almost everything can be modified in Pop-up Album, from the cover of the book to the background behind the book to the material of the pages themselves. And, everything you add to the book is 3D pop-up, even the text.

Placing items is intuitive & when you’re done, you can turn on a slide-show feature to watch your creations pop up & fold down as the pages turn, all hands-free.

The book itself can be turned & looked at from almost every angle. This is a lot of fun to play with.

My 1 BIG Wish for Pop-up Album is additional fonts for the pop-up text you add. Right now, there is only 1 font :(

300+ handmade cards

300+ Handmade Cards HD (iPad; iPhone version here; $1.99 each)

There are FREE lite versions of this app, but I didn’t include them because they literally let you look at 1 card & 1 card only, which is ridiculous & useless.

However, if you buy the full app & get a good look at all of the cards, you’ll be charmed.

The whole app looks kid-drawn & is set up like a school room. You can choose crayon-drawn cards in 16 categories to send via email or Facebook.

This is a simple app. There are no adjustments to be made on the cards. You just pick a picture card you like & send it off. You can add the cards you like best to the Favorites section & you can watch all the cards in a slide-show.

300+ is a really cute app! I think people who just want a card to send with no extra work will absolutely love this app, because there is just nothing else you can do with it. The crayon-drawn art is what really sets 300+ apart from the pack.

UPDATE: My face is red! This has never happened to me before, but when checking links, I also found that this app is no longer offered in the U.S. App Store.

cards HD for ipad

cards HD ipad

Lifelike Cards HD Free for iPad (iPad only, FREE; pro version here, $3.99)

Now, this app is absolutely going to WOW you! Lifelike Cards HD has thousands of gorgeous images from Flickr organized into every category imaginable & arranged on a realistic-looking 3D rotating card rack. It even squeaks as you turn it around in a circle!

The FREE version of Lifelike Cards HD (it just says Cards HD in the App Store) lets you browse cards for the current holiday (which is still Father’s Day, right now).

No matter the holiday or reason for needing a card, the full version of Lifelike Cards HD has you covered.

You can browse cards by category, occasion, & place (there are more than 100 cities). Each time you change the category with the drop-down lists at the top (top photo), the 3D rack fills up with new cards. Spin it, scroll down the rack, & browse until you find the perfect card.

When you find a card you like, you can choose to to just save the photo or email it to someone, or you can make it into a postcard or greeting card to be personalized & digitally sent to whomever you choose (bottom photo above). The options for personalizing the card are astonishing.

You can change the color of the background & accents, change the style of the accents, make the font bigger or smaller, change the color of the ink, & pick from a long list of original & realistic-looking handwriting fonts. With these fonts, the completed card looks just like you wrote it all by hand.

Hit send & you can email it, Tweet it, post it to Facebook, or print it out with an AirPrint-enabled printer.

I’d LOVE to see this app team up with a company like Sincerely, so you could send these cards for real.

draw it on Facebook

Draw It On Facebook (universal, FREE)

You don’t need to have a great deal of skill at drawing or painting to create original statuses to share using Draw It On Facebook. This FREE, ad-free app gives you plenty of help so you can surprise your friends, even if all you can draw are stick figures.

If you press the button that looks like a stack of photos, you will discover a ton of backgrounds, outlines, & accents that you can use to color around, paint, or write a message on.

Get creative & you’ll have an awesome, original Facebook status in no time.

The palette spins to give you a choice of colors & tools to draw/paint with. Press the f button when you’re ready to post & you can post it with no comment or add a comment to explain yourself. You can also choose where to share it & tag friends.

A few things I’d like to see improved in this app: a more mature & refined user interface that doesn’t look like a kid’s coloring app; a color-picker that doesn’t limit you to a few choices on a spinner; & at least 1 more tool to let you handwrite or draw thinner lines.

The interface for picking a background/accent needs to be overhauled, too. Right now, you have as much luck finding things by randomly pressing buttons as you do trying to systematically look through all the options.

But, even with the problems, you won’t find another app like Draw It in the App Store currently. It’s a ton of fun & will surprise your Facebook friends.

funny status updater

Funny Status Updater (universal, FREE)

There are a zillion apps available in the App Store to provide you with a funny/clever/unusual/wise/etc. Facebook status’ to use. This app isn’t like all the others.

Funny Status Updater is a Mad Libs-style status creator. You can choose a category (or press random), but after that, you’re flying blind.

There are no lists of statuses to comb through. You just get a page that asks you for a few words. Once you fill in the blanks with the verb/adjective/person/noun/etc. that are asked for, you press Done & like magic, up pops your status, ready to be posted.

The funniest status I’ve created so far is a quote: “platypus is fleeting, but omelet is forever.” — Napoleon

You don’t have to publish every status you create. Just like Mad Libs, some results are hilarious, while others fall flat.

SOS one click

SOS One Click (iPhone only, FREE with in-app purchases)

A mini-detour in my research took me to a group of safety apps where I indulged my raging paranoia (& accidentally dialed 911 while testing an app).

My favorite of the safety bunch is definitely SOS One Click, a new app that was released in April. You set up One Click by entering your personal information, trusted contacts (can be imported from Contacts), types of emergency situations you may encounter, emergency telephone numbers & emergency messages for different situations.

To add more than 1 trusted contact, you must upgrade through an in-app purchase of 99 cents.

If an emergency strikes, you’ll be prepared.

All you have to do is open the app & press Text and/or Email to send the appropriate emergency message. With the message, your location via a map link & address is sent to your trusted contacts. All of this only takes 1 or 2 button pushes.

If you’ve signed into Facebook, Twitter, or Sina Weibo, you can also press Share so that your emergency message & location are sent to your social network friends.

Press Call to dial 911 or any other emergency number you’ve selected. (It immediately dials, so don’t press it unless you really need to call them!)

The only thing missing from One Click is an alarm to surprise attackers & attract help from nearby people.

iSocialize+

iSocialize+ (iPhone only, 99 cents; FREE version here)

iSocialize+ is a powerhouse app. There’s no way I could even begin to cover everything it does in a few short paragraphs. But, I’ll try :)

What iSocialize+ does:

  • combines full apps for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, & Google+, with the ability to update your status on all 4 networks with 1 tap.
  • includes ability to search YouTube, find images via keywords, search animated emoticons, add frames & effects to your photos, filter your voice, play your music, find famous quotes, search database of jokes & fun facts, read the news, get birthday reminders for your friends, send virtual gifts, & print & ship real postcards.

iSocialize+ has the content & abilities equivalent to 16 different apps all from 1 central control station. You don’t have to check 4 different apps to know what’s going on with your social networks, & you don’t have to buy single apps to get great content to share on those networks. It’s all available right inside iSocialize+.

iUploader

iUploader (iPhone only, FREE)

This is another app that does the work of many apps all from 1 location. iUploader can shoot, edit, & share as many photos & videos as you want on Facebook (walls, albums, & pages), Twitter, Tumblr, & email all at once.

Take photos or select photos from your Camera Roll & share as many as you want all at once with each of the networks you select.

You can even create albums, add comments, & tag friends before you upload the photos. iUploader can do all of the uploading in the background while you move on to other things. If enabled, iUploader will send you a notification when all of your photos are done uploading.

UPDATE: I just noticed that the developer has discontinued support of this app in favor of a newer app that I like much less. This does not mean that iUploader will not work. It just means that it will no longer get updates or receive support for problems you may encounter.

Flickr Studio (iPad only, $2.99)

This is not a new app to me. In fact, I discovered that I already owned it during this search extravaganza, which was great. There is no offical Flickr app for the iPad like there is for the iPhone, which means if you want to manage your Flickr account & upload photos on the iPad, you need a 3rd-party app. Flickr Studio is by far the best that I found & has very high user ratings in the App Store, as well.

Flickr Studio lets you browse Flickr for interesting photos in many different ways. But, the thing that sets it apart from the rest is the studio section that lets you manage your Flickr account & upload photos, among other things.

Also, Flickr Studio not only lets you batch upload (in the background while the app is closed, no less), but it also lets you batch edit cutlines & add tags to each photo, in addition to providing basic photo editing capabilities. This is really the standout feature I was looking for in a Flickr app for the iPad & it even exceeds the abilities of the official iPhone Flickr app.

Voice Dictation (universal, 99 cents)

If you’re using a newer device & a newer iOS, you may find all these voice dictation apps a bit unnecessary. After all, every screen that has text input also has that little microphone key next to the spacebar that lets you enter text with your voice anyway, right?

This is true, but Voice Dictation by Smart Loft is a very simple, eminently usable app that you may find helpful to use as a message-sharing control center.

With this 1 app, you can decide if you want to send a message by text, email, post to Facebook, or Tweet. The bonus for me is that it reminds me to use my voice in the 1st place. I don’t know how many times I’ve sent a text or email only to realize I could’ve used the voice key, but forgot. When you open an app like this, it’s hard to forget what your intentions are.

There are few controls to this app. Simply choose how you want to send your message, who you want to send it to, & press the button to start dictating. The app has incredible recognition & lets you use the keyboard to make any corrections, if they are necessary. Plus, you can switch the input language among quite a selection of languages.

Voice for Facebook (iPhone, FREE)

I don’t make a habit of reviewing apps I haven’t used, so I feel a little stupid about doing this, but here I go. I downloaded the Voice for Facebook app because it sounds very unique & more than a little awesome. Its ratings are almost 5-star in the App Store. But (and here’s where I feel stupid), I haven’t been able to accomplish what should be a simple task: signing up for the FREE service.

The app (NOT iPhone 5 friendly, which I hate) has quite a bit to fill out when you 1st open it up, but that’s not where the sign-up ends. I tried hitting the Speak tab in the app & it connected me to the service, which didn’t recognize my phone number, so it sent me a text to register. I tried to use the link in the text, but that took me nowhere useful. So, I went directly to the developer website & filled out the little form you see in the photo above. But, when I hit the link to connect Facebook with the service, Safari seemed to have a seizure.

Anyway, I’ll continue to work on it & I’ll contact the developers, but I wanted to include the app because it is very cool.

Voice for Facebook lets you connect via a phone call to your Facebook account, through which you can then listen to your News Feed, update your status by voice (it posts a link to your voice recording, not a dictation of what you said), & you can even like posts by others & leave voice recorded comments!

Due to the extreme coolness of the app & the fact that I may just be mucking up the sign-up, I still encourage you to try Voice for Facebook. It’s FREE, so what can it hurt? And, if you figure out how to sign up, you can teach me what I’m doing wrong :)

BunnyFacebook (iPhone, FREE)

This is an app that may only appeal to a certain part of the population (or a certain part of each of us that may be better kept hidden), but it is very different, & I couldn’t help but include it in my list of App Store finds.

Bunny Facebook is an app that brings the BUNNY BURNit platform found online to your iPhone. What it does is let you post a status to Facebook with a self-destruct button, so to speak. You just write what you want to write & add a photo, if you choose. Then, you set the message to “volatile” & adjust the volatility timing (when it will be deleted). Said status posts to your profile via BunnyFacebook & then auto-deletes when the volatility timing is up. You can set the timing as low as 1 minute.

I’ll let you use your imagination (be nice!) as to how this app could be used in funny ways.

There is a Pro version called Bunny Pro (for Facebook) that is ad-free & has optional auto-tagging. Auto-tagging removes app-added message which tells how many minutes until your status will be auto-deleted from Facebook.

Cardstore Greeting Cards (iPhone, FREE)

This little app may look familiar if you’re a user of the app justWink Greeting Cards. This is because both apps are by American Greetings (a company that is definitely beating the pants off its competitors in the cool app-building department).

justWink is filled with quirky, humorous cards with a twist; Cardstore is its straight-forward & often heart-warming cousin. Just like justWink, you can open any card & view every side of it by swiping & tapping through it. You’ll find the same system for adding your own typed message & hand-written signature inside the card, plus the ability to add a photo on the inside of the cover of the card.

And, just like justWink, you can send a real, printed copy of the card via snail mail for about $3.50, postage included. The only unfortunate part of this app is that it does NOT allow you to email the card to someone for FREE instead. To send a card, all you have to do is set up an account 1st (just a username & password).

If you don’t have time to make it to the store for a birthday card or you just want to save yourself the trip, Cardstore (& justWink) are great ways to send cards for any occasion. They are just as economical, as well, when you consider the amount you spend on a card, plus postage (plus driving time & gas).

Flower Garden – Grow Flowers and Send Bouquets (universal, $2.99; FREE version here)

If you’re looking for both a relaxing game & an alternative to the standard email greeting cards, you should definitely try Flower Garden (check out the FREE version 1st with its more limited types of included seeds & gardens).

There are a lot of apps that let you simulate growing everything from crops to flowers, but very few have found a way to let you use what you’ve produced virtually.

Flower Garden lets you grow flowers (a limited amount of seed types at 1st, increasing in variety as you “play”) & when they’re finished growing, you can cut them, arrange them in bouquets, & send the virtual bouquets to friends & family via email.

There are a lot of things I could tell you about how you grow the flowers, the different gardens you can grow them in, & how you get seed varieties, but that’ll take a full review. You’re all very clever though. I’m sure you’ll figure out how to use everything if you’re motivated.

SociaLink for Facebook and LinkedIn (iPhone, FREE)

If you’re an active social media user (& who isn’t these days?), you’ve probably met someone & either thought, “I wish I knew how to find them on …” or you’ve looked for them on Facebook or whatever & couldn’t find them because they have a common spelling to their name or you wrote down the spelling wrong or whatever.

SociaLink helps rid you of that problem. Now, when you meet someone whom you wish to connect with on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr, you can instantly find them via Bluetooth (if they have SociaLink) & send friend requests or follow them.

It’s akin to exchanging social business cards. If they don’t have the app, you can share all of your social media profile links, along with a link to SociaLink, via email. It’s like having an unlimited supply of social media business cards with up-to-date info on each of your social media profiles at your disposal.

secure.me for Facebook (iPhone, FREE)

You’re may be thinking, “not Another Facebook app,” but I assure you that this 1 is worth it (but, I guess I think that of all the ones I featured, though, huh?). This app is less about Facebook, though, & more about your security both on Facebook & in using apps.

What secure.me does is scan all the apps you have connected to your Facebook account (both apps you use on Facebook & apps on your device that connect to Facebook for various reasons). It then tells you the reputation of the app based on a number of factors.

It lets you know which apps have access to personal data & what actions each app can perform. It’ll even tell you if the app has sent requests or invites to your friends.

secure.me also scans your friend’s profiles to see how many have secure networks & how many do not (only 11 of more than 300 friends are secure according to my personal scan).

The app also helps you be secure before you connect by letting you search for apps by name so you can see what their reputation is before you use them. If they have a poor reputation, secure.me tells you exactly why that is & how many reports have been made.

The End (almost)

Well, that’s it for my arrival back at iOS Affairs. Hopefully this lengthy read doesn’t sway you from meeting me back here tomorrow for another look at another app.

That’s it for me today. Until later, …

Another 6 iOS Games You Should Play

Tracy:

I'm reblogging this useful & funny iOS game review both because of my writing absence (have you noticed?) & because Hedge (the writer) is one of my favorite bloggers at Funk's House of Geekery.

His taste in games may vary a bit from mine at times, but he is an excellent writer (he actually knows how to use commas correctly. oops my copy editor genes are showing) & he reviews games from almost every genre.

His knowledge of gaming history is extensive & I often have know idea what he is referring to, but I trust that he knows that from which he speaks.

So, enjoy this review of 6 iOS games you should give a try. I'm going to play Paper Monsters right now.

Originally posted on Funk's House of Geekery:

by Hedge

iOS. It’s becoming more of a legitimate gaming platform by the day. Since the last article of this nature got such a welcome response, I’ve been thinking of, and listing up, games ever since although honestly I’ve been playing so much Prison Architect that everything else in my life has come second place. Sorry family, friends and employment.

But recently I’ve been exploring the platform again. More specifically, this past weekend where I found myself in the Perth Apple store, leeching their wifi to finish the download of KOTOR – more on that soon.

So here, for your perusal, are six more iOS games you should give a shot. Maybe not as obscure as the previous list, nor as long, but still a really good collection no matter what kind of games you enjoy.

Carcassonne

By The Coding Monkeys

Available for iPad/iPhone

Played on iPad

Slowly conquering the world one little blue guy at a time.

I’ve recently, partly…

View original 1,555 more words

This Post Is NOT Like the Others

Hi readers! It’s me. Tracy. I’m alive and healthy and feel extraordinarily guilty about basically abandoning the blog.

This post is not like other posts on iOS Affairs. There will be no app reviews and no cool technology talk. For once (or twice), I’m going to talk about myself for a minute, something I try very hard not to do on this blog.

Many of you have either seen a note on Facebook or Twitter or have received an email or 10 from me saying that I have been sick. Well, that’s not the whole story.

I don’t have the flu or a cold. And, I’m not getting any better. In fact, I’m getting worse.

Some of you may remember the only other personal post I’ve done where I told you that I am disabled, I suffer from several lifelong illnesses, and I am in constant pain (just thought you might want a quick reminder).

What’s going on right now is that I’ve been told that I need to consider 1 or 2 rather radical surgeries that may help with the problems that have kept me from writing for the past month. I don’t like the word surgery. I especially don’t like the word surgeries.

These are complicated surgeries that have a lot of aftereffects that need to be dealt with.

I am not dealing with any of this particularly well.

I’m keeping myself busy doing medical research (which can be depressing) and playing with apps on my iDevices (so that I’ll have quite a lot to tell you when I start writing again). But, none of this is really distracting me from the malaise I feel over the decisions I have to make.

I see a specialist on July 1 who will help me go through all of my options.

Well, that’s enough of my medical melodrama.

The only reason I tell you dear readers all of this is so that you better understand why I have been away from my beloved blog and from you. It is hard to put on my writer’s cap when I feel this way.

So, until my medical melodrama is resolved and I am feeling better, I wanted to tell you that posts will be sporadic, if they come at all. I really hope you bear with me while I go through this so that I can see you when I return to my regular writing program.

I was in the middle of the longest post I’ve ever written at the beginning of this month when I got interrupted by all of this nonsense. It is sitting in my Drafts folder now and I plan to try to finish it off and post it sometime soon.

I may also invite a few guest posters to keep you entertained and informed. (I am still not taking guest post submissions due to the work involved. I am only doing guest posts of people I invite to write).

I really want to give you a post with a blow-by-blow of iOS 7 in the near future, as well. Hopefully I can find some time where I feel well enough to work on that.

Well, I think you know just about everything now. I hate going on and on about myself on a technology blog, but I also hate telling people I’m sick for months in a row with no explanation.

Just because I’m not writing posts does not mean I’m not lurking about my blog. So, if you have any iOS-related questions or questions about apps, feel free to ask at the end of any post or under the Questions page at the top of the screen. I’ll get back to you faster than you’d think.

If you’ve read this far, thanks for being so loyal. If you read any of this, thanks! I’ll do my best not to let you all down and to get back to writing iOS Affairs regularly as soon as possible.

That’s it for me today. Until later, …

WWDC 2013: Apple Announcements Expected on iOS 7, iRadio, & Much, Much More ~ Live Blog

What’s Happening Now, How to Watch it Yourself, & Everything Else You Ever Wanted to Know about WWDC 2013

wwdc 2013

With about 20 minutes until the Keynote address begins at Apple’s annual weeklong developer’s conference (WWDC), moods of Apple devotees across the Web could best be expressed as exuberant & speculation as to what will actually be announced is still flying around with few facts actually known. 

Watching the Keynote address is easier than ever this year. Existing Apple customers can watch via Safari or on an Apple TV on Apple’s Events section of their website

wwdc

Also this year, Apple released a universal iOS app called WWDC where developers can log in & watch events, save their favorites, & even find a map to get around the conference. If you’re not a developer, just click “cancel” when asked to sign in & you can still access the schedule & Special Event videos section. I believe the keynote will be available to watch there as well, but I’m not sure when it will be made available. 

wwdc ustream

I myself, will be using Ustream, a FREE & universal app that has provided coverage of the event year after year via broadcasts by a wide variety of users. This year, I’ve chosen to watch live coverage by TWiT.tv, a well-known technology podcast provider. 

wwdc

A lot of bloggers will be “live blogging” the whole event, many with very sophisticated systems that actually update your screen for you as they add news. Not to mention the teams of people they have working on such endeavors. 

As a 1-girl, 1-iPad setup, I can’t promise you such finery. What I will give you is all the WWDC Keynote address news as it happens, in bullet points which will be fleshed out with photos, quips, & background, as fast as my little fingers can type. 

wwdc

Once the address is over, I’ll wrap it all up, analyze what happened, & what didn’t happen, throw in some photos, & place a pretty bow on top. 

  • For the main event, stay tuned to this page. I’ll just be adding what I can, as fast as I can. Refresh the page every few minutes, & you should have just about everything you ever wanted to know about what’s happening live at the WWDC (but were afraid to ask), & probably some opinions, tips, & randomness that may or may not directly relate to what’s happening. I promise. It’ll make sense to me. 
  • Once the whole thing is over, I may permit myself the luxury of standing up, taking a drink, petting my dog, etc. & then, I’ll get right on the write-up to explain in detail what just happened, what it all meant, & what it will mean to you & your iDevices in the near future. That post will be on a different webpage accessible from the main iOS Affairs home page, but I will link to it from the stream of consciousness that is live blogging (at least the way I do it). 

WWDC 2013 Keynote Address: As It Happens

  • Tim Cook on the stage welcoming people to the 24th annual developer conference. He even makes a joke at the expense of Apple Maps :)
  • Updates on Apple retail. Obviously not what everyone’s here to hear about, but I guess it heightens the drama. 
  • As usual, awesome, inspiring music accompanies every commercial, every video, even the wait for the show to begin. 
  • On to the App Store. Next month is the App Store’s 5th birthday!
  • 93% of the 900,000 apps in the App Store are downloaded every month. 
  • 575,000,000 store accounts. More accounts with credit cards than any other store on the Internet. 
  • Have now paid developers 10 billion dollars. 5 billion of that in the past year. 3 times more than all other platforms combined. Which is why developers come to Apple. Despite any frustration they may experience, iOS is where developers make money. Not every single one of them, but more than on any other platform (that’s my comment, not something he just said). 
  • Developer showing off some racing game. Not sure exactly why. Is this running on something new?  
  • The game is showing off how iOS can be used not just as a consumer device, but as the brains behind something that a few years ago people thought impossible from a mobile OS. This is a real-life video game. Available in Apple stores and online this fall. 
  • Okay, now we’re moving on to Macs. iMac #1 desktop in U.S. this year. Macbook is #1 in laptops in U.S. Also #1 in customer satisfaction. Mountain Lion best selling software of all time. Haha, the chart showing the number of people using the newest version of Mountain Lion vs the newest version of Windows is hilarious. 
  • 10th release of OSX will be named Mavericks. (They ran out of cats) The next 10 versions will be California-themed names. 
  • Top 3 innovations for Macs: Missed the 1st thing, sorry; Tagging (tag anything, anywhere (including iCloud) & search for it in finder); multiple displays – I don’t really get what the importance of this is, because I hate computers (sorry Mac users), but I’m sure you’ll be excited. 
  • I think I may fall asleep now. He just said CPU activity is reduced a lot which will save energy. & that compressed memory will be available immediately to any app or anything that is trying to open in seconds. 
  • On to Safari: Well, he had me at some cool things like a sidebar along your web pages so you can continually browse your saved articles, bookmarks, and bookmarks/links of people you follow on Twitter & LinkedIn. That looked really cool, but then he moved on to boring things (sorry computer people). There will be super-scrolling that will take you through long pages and Retina pages so smoothly. I hope this is shared over on iOS!
  • OOOh! A power-saving thing that interested me. It’s called App Nap. When something isn’t actively working, it naps, but is instantly available when needed. Will save battery life a LOT!
  • 1-click bookmarking
  • Another scrolling feature: when you scroll to the bottom of 1 article you’re reading, it starts the next article in the next tab (I believe). Same thing happens in Reader.  
  • iCloud Keychain: This looks SOOOOOOOO cool! This may kill all password apps!
  • Improvements to notifications on the Mac: Ability to reply within a notification. Don’t have to open an email, just click on the notification and type there. Get your push notifications from news, etc. also through Mac notifications. 
  • BACKGROUND APP UPDATING!!
  • Mac Calendar aware of location, weather, what have you. And, it’s beautiful. Put in something you want to eat for lunch and it suggests restaurants. Will tell you travel times, etc. Will add travel time to your calendar. Notifications go to your iPhone too. 
  • Apple Maps is coming to Macs, but it is gorgeous and has everything that fixed that people complained about. Flyovers, street view, POI, rotate flyovers (new flyover data), POI on info cards with reviews (sync across all devices). Plus, send directions from your Mac to your iPhone. 
  • iBooks coming to Mac. Full iOS library coming to your Mac. 
  • Now, we get to see a demo of all of the Mac features. 
  • OSX preview available for developers today; available to users this fall. 

Moving on to MacBook Air

  • All-day battery life
  • Turns on in a second
  • Monthlong standby
  • New AirPort Extreme & AirPort Time Capsule: This is a lot of tech stuff that I just don’t get. But, it sounds pretty awesome. 
  • New MacBook Airs start shipping today.

Sneak Peek of Mac Pro

  • Intel Xeon chip. Double performance of previous generation. Based on PCIe Flash 
  • Dual workstation GPUs for graphics. 2.5x the last generation. 
  • 4K displays
  • Thunderbolt 2
  • (I have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. It sounds like jibberish to me, but it looks like a computer built out of a Star Wars robot, so I’m all good with it.)
  • Coming later this year and it is U.S. designed, U.S. built. 

iCloud on the table now

  • Fastest-growing cloud service ever
  • iTunes in the Cloud most popular, 300,000,000 users
  • Deeply integrating iCloud into the new iWork (did he say new iWork? the iWork that hasn’t been updatd in YEARS?)
  • Later this year new releases of all versions of iWork for Mac and iOS
  • Newest member of iWork is iWork for Cloud: everything you do in Pages, etc. but done in a web browser. 
  • How does it work with Word documents? Perfectly. Open up the Microsoft document & start working on it just like it was started there. 
  • Everything happens in a web browser. 
  • 3D Keynote animations work in a web browser beautifully. 
  • Plus, it all works on Windows desktops. Because it all happens in a web browser, it is cross-platform. 
  • Public beta opens today for developers. Users look for it later this year. 

Yay!!!!!!!! iOS

  • Now sold 600 million iOS devices. 
  • Experion study shows iPhone users use their iPhone 50 percent more than Android users use their phones. 
  • iPad has 82% of market share
  • iPhone and iPad customers are responsible for more mobile shopping on Black Friday last year
  • JD Power has named iPhone best in customer satisfaction 9 consecutive times. 
  • iOS satisfaction is 97%. 25 points better than Android.
  • Software updates are done easily

iOS 6

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Standing ovation for iOS 7 video. Someone just yelled that they love Tim!

Biggest change to the iPhone since it was begun. I wish you could’ve seen the video!

You can see behind the icons to better see your wallpaper. Fonts have changed, the color palette is changed, it is ALLLLLLL different. It is dynamic! Integrates gestures! Folders can have multiple pages. 

Comprehensive, end-to-end redesign of the user experience. It’s like getting a new phone that you already know how to use.

Multi-tasking for ALL apps with great battery life. iOS 7 learns your patterns for how you use apps. It gives background support to wapps to the degree that you use them. 

I’m almost speechless. Well, typeless. I am so awed I don’t know what to write first. He’s going to fast and it is all amazing!

This is a really bad picture of how “tabs” look like in Safari now. From the top. Not limited to 8, can see all tabs from all devices. 

Swipe up from the bottom for all the buttonsyou use a lot. Accessible from lock screen too. Flashlight, music, etc. 

Photos app made into Moments. No more mess! Moments are tied into Collections. Photos app has filters for fuller editing. Better sharing. iCloud photo sharing lets you share to multiple streams. And others can share into your photo streams. iCloud even supports video sharing. 

Siri gets an update with new voices in male and female. Added languages. Can control way more of the device. “Play my last voicemail” Integrated Wikipedia, Bing search results, and Twitter. 

iOS in the Car

Siri lets you go eyes free in the car. Just a ton of manufacturers bringing iOS integration in 2014. 

App Store search changes: Discover apps based on location and age ranges. 

AUTOMATIC APP UPDATES!!!!!

Music app looks great, but it’s getting glossed over for 

iTunes Radio: Built into everything Apple. Free with ads. If you’re an iTunes Match subscriber it’s ad-free. Starting in U.S.

iOS 7 beta available to developers today for iPhone. Final release for users this fall:

iPhone 4 and above, iPad 2 and above, iPod Touch 5 and above. 

They are just winding things up now doing an overview of everything they’ve told us. 

So, as we expected, no new devices, but this new iOS is overwhelming, amazing, and enough for me right now. 

I’ll be back with an article that hopefully makes a little more sense than this word salad in just a few hours. 

Thanks for following along!

 

Wanna Make an App? Check Out This eBook!

While manically hopping from app to Internet to app & back again, I discovered an excellent resource at The App Guides that you must check out!

The page at the link above is titled “Find Out More,” & what follows is information about an eBook that can help people who have limited programming skills develop an app. 

It is titled Creating Apps – The Guide for Ordinary People.

Smashwords has a great extended description of the eBook that really summarizes what makes Creating Apps stand out from the crowd:

This eBook is a guide for creative people who have the ideas and the desire to build apps, but are not programmers. How? You can do it by outsourcing the technical tasks and concentrating your efforts on managing the rest of the process: from fleshing out the concept, to the design and marketing. There are many things to consider to create a winning app.

Here’s a listing of some of what is covered in this fabulous eBook:

  • How to plan your project.
  • The importance of a good design.
  • How to find resources.
  • Revenue models. 
  • Marketing options. 
  • What happens after it is published.

web apps

Credit: Creating Apps eBook

I have to share the following quote because I really had no idea of what a “web” app really was. Shh! Don’t tell anyone I didn’t know. Here’s what Creating Apps says:

… Though all programs pre-installed on your mobile device are native not all apps have to be.  You have the option of developing a Web App, which is an Internet-based application that runs on the browser of the mobile device and where all or some parts of the software are downloaded from the Web each time it is run. … Web Apps are typically designed to be accessible across different device platforms, meaning there is less device-specific customization. They are easier to build than Native Apps, and distribute more quickly. They are also easier to maintain.

creating apps

Here is the cover of Creating Apps via Smashwords, which is actually where I saw it in the 1st place (now that I really concentrate & think back). 


Looking for Creating AppsHere Are the Vital Stats

  • By: Jacqueline D. Anderson
  • Price: $10.99 USD (I’m sure it varies, though)
  • Rating: Not yet rated
  • Published: March 31, 2011 
  • Words: 38,131 (approximate)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 9781458183057


You can sample 20 percent of this eBook for FREE!

Interested in learning more? The Smashwords website has a great roundup of everything you need to know to get anything from just the 1st 20 pages of Creating Apps to the whole book. Following is the chart that was published at Smashwords:

Available eBook Reading Formats With Links for Creating Apps

Format Full Book Sample First 20%
Online Reading (HTML, good for sampling in web browser) Buy View sample
Kindle (.mobi for Kindle devices and Kindle apps) Buy Download sample
Epub (Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others) Buy Download sample
Epub (load into Stanza) Buy Launch sample
PDF (good for reading on PC, or for home printing) Buy No sample available
RTF (readable on most word processors) Buy No sample available
LRF (Use only for older model Sony Readers that don’t support .Epub) Buy Download sample
Palm Doc (PDB) (for Palm reading devices) Buy Download sample
Plain Text (download) (flexible, but lacks much formatting) Buy

No sample available
Plain Text (view) (viewable as web page)   Buy       —       No sample available                                                                                

That’s it for me today. Until later, … 

P.S. I’m lying! I have a few other things planned today. 

P.S.S.

Stay tuned & be sure to check out my brand new image at the very top of the screen here at iOS Affairs

A brand new set of 4 images will randomly appear across the top of iOS Affairs. They were designed by Lauren Davis of Lauren Davis Creative in Rockford, Illinois. Send her an email if you like what you see & you would like a graphic design for social events, businesses, or anything you can dream up, all at very reasonable prices. 

P.S.S.S.

Shop local

Credit: Culture Shock, Rockford, Illinois (Lauren is co-owner of Culture Shock)

Know why Lauren is so good & yet so reasonably priced (& nice to boot)? Because she is a LOCAL designer. She is not part of some big business. Lauren is also an active member of the Buy Local movement in the Rockford area & nationally. 

The Buy Local movement is something I feel is extremely important for economic & ethical reasons. But, that is a post for another day. Well, actually, for another blog. A blog that writes about those things. So, that is all I have to say, I guess. Until I sneak something irrelevant to technology in another long & ranting post. Like this story for all the people who think buying local is too hard or too expensive. Okay, I’m done. The end!

P.S.S.S.S.

Except …

Thank you so much Lauren for the beautiful, steampunky designs! They’re PERFECT!