Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Evernote for iPhone "101" Favorites

The Evernote iPhone application gives you access to the data you have stored on the Evernote "cloud" - thus by default, all of the data - sometimes gigabytes worth of data - is not stored on your iPhone. Typically this is a good thing, as you are not using up the limited storage space on your iPhone, but what about those instances where you do not have access to the cell network or wifi? (think - air travel)
Evernote for iPhone 2.0 has this situation covered, by using "Favorites" you can selectively choose the content you want stored locally on your iPhone. To leverage the Favorite functionality:
  1. Open the note you want to store as a favorite.
  2. Touch (select) the "circle-star" in the upper left corner, when selected the icon turns blue - placing the note in your favorites folder and hence, stored locally on your iPhone.
  3. To see you favorites, select the "Favorites" icon from the menu bar. (Note - the new note is placed at the bottom of the list by default).
Once you are viewing the list of your favorites, you can manage the order they are disolayed or delete notes from your favorites folder by selecting the "Edit" button.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tilt Scrolling... For the Win

If you have not used an application that has "tilt scrolling"... you are missing out. Tilt scrolling enables smooth, touch free scrolling of long articles... basically tilt your iPhone to scroll up or down the article you are reading. After about 30 seconds to adjust.. you will wish every reader application had this feature.
For me tilt scrolling is now a must have, I was introduced to tilt scrolling while using Instapaper Pro, the excellent off line web reader. Instapaper will change the way you read web articles on the iPhone, any article that is more than 2 or 3 paragraphs I mark for "read later" and read it in Instapaper text only view. Instapaper gives a full screen view of the text in your font of choice with light background or dark background (your preference) and you can scroll handsfree... no more flipping each page with a finger swipe. I can not recommend Instapaper Pro enough, this is a must have application + service at 3 times the price!
I just discovered that FileMagnet ($4.99) also incorporates the tilt scrolling feature. FileMagnet is an iPhone file moving, storing & viewing application. FileMagnet is compatible with all the common file formats: PDF, DOC, iWorks 09, pics, movies, etc. Moving the files from your desktop to your iPhone is simple, just load the desktop software... no typing IP addresses. The number one reason I just switched to FileMagnet, I can now read my lengthy PDF document with tilt scrolling on the iPhone, no need to lug a laptop around!

Applications I would like to see tilt scrolling implemented in: Kindle for iPhone, Evernote, Tweetie, News apps (USA Today, NYT, AP Mobile News & WSJ), Apple's Photo albums and Safari.

... Tilt Scrolling... "Try it, you'll like it."

BONUS Tip: Give Me Something to Read

Quickoffice Mobile Office Suite Released

April 18 2009 - The iPhone finally has an office suite, Quickoffice Mobile Office Suite (Word, Excel, Email & WIFI) $19.99. I did not instantly purchase Quickoffice, there are a couple of concerns I need to clear up before dropping $20 on Quickoffice or deciding waiting on the release of Datavis' Documents To Go.
First from reading and re-reading the description of the app, there is no mention of cut, copy and paste for Quicksheet, to me the absence of cut, copy and paste in a spreadsheet is a show stopper. Per the description, Quickword does have cut, copy & paste, but the first user review claims that Quickword omits auto-correct, auto period/capitalization and/or a spell-checker - again, if this is correct, this is a show stopper for a modern day text editor. Another concern, Quickoffice does not appear to have a Powerpoint viewer/editor, from what little information that is available for Documents To Go, DTG appears to have at minimum a PPT viewer. If you happen to use iWork 09, Quickoffice mobile suite is currently not file compatible with Pages or Numbers.
In conclusion, there are just too many questions to be answered before purchasing Quickoffice, especially considering that DataVis and possibly Microsoft are waiting in the wings with office suite applications for the iPhone. At this point I am going to wait to read the blog reviews and user reviews.
[UPDATED - Sun 4/19] - There are now several user reviews (12 reviews... only 2 are 4 stars or above) on the app store for Quickoffice 1.1.0, a new issue is discussed... Quickword does not provide a process to email documents, nor can you edit documents (.doc or .xls) that are attached to email on your iPhone. You have to move files on and off your iPhone via wifi from you desktop or leveraging Quickoffice's link with MobileMe. Still no mention of Quicksheet... does it have cut, copy & paste?
UPDATE - Mon 4/20] - Value proposition... I am OK with spending 20 dollars on an iPhone application, if the application fills a need and is a "go to" app on my iPhone, to me, $20 is a bargain. A "go to" mobile application will have higher usage than its desktop counterpart. That being said, for Quickoffice Mobile Suite, issues aside, it is hard to justify the $20 if you purchased Quickoffice Mobile Pro (now Quicksheets) for $9.99 a month ago. The suite product is essentially the same as Quicksheets with the addition of Quickword. Essentially you are paying $20 for Quickword. Buyer beware.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Offices Galore?

For the record:
  • Quickoffice Inc has promised to ship their flagship software Quickoffice for the iPhone by the end of April.
  • Datavis has countered, stating that Documents To Go for the iPhone will be released in May.
  • There are rumblings and rumors from Redmond that Microsoft will release an iPhone version of MS Office.
  • And, we can only hope the Applie is working on an iPhone version of iWork.

So, during the next month we may finally see a full fledged office suite for the iPhone. Then with OS 3.0 we will hopefully see external keyboards for the iPhone... then we can leave the laptop at home!

With regards to the office suites, portability of documents is key, seamless synching from you desktop to the iPhone. Most people are not going to create a spreadsheet from scratch on the iPhone, the doc will be created on the desktop and referenced from the iPhone with the ability to edit. Also, note to Quickoffice... a spreadsheet without Cut, copy and paste is not real useful. I have been trialing Quicksheets, and re-entering formulas is not a lot of fun. There are better options: Spreadsheet, Plus, etc.

It will be interesting to see what the shipping products look like... time will tell.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dictionary.com for iPhone v 1.0

Just over one month ago I reviewed Wordbook, my review of Wordbook was positive and I ended up recommending that you add Wordbook to your iPhone. I standby that recommendation, but as usual, the iPhone application landscape is changing. The popular developers behind the website dictionary.com have just released the iPhone application Dictionary.com for iPhone (free).
Dictionary.com for iPhone has 275,000 definitions and 80,000 synonyms loaded onto your iphone in the 35 mb application. One of the advantages that Dictionary.com has over Wordbook is that you do not need a network connection to access the dictionary data. Dictionary.com for iPhone is no-nonsense, there is a search page for Dictionary and Thesaurus, a Recent screen - where entries are identified as Dictionary, Thesaurus or Word of the Day and a Word of the Day screen. By comparison, Dictionary.com does not have as many extra features as Wordbook, specifically the external links to Wikipedia or the crossword solver to name a few. Dictionary.com requires a network connection for Word of the Day and audio pronunciation. Audio pronunciation on Dictionary.com is vastly superior to pronunciation on Wordbook.
Conclusion, I plan to keep both applications on my iPhone at least for awhile, I like the idea of having all the data on the phone for offline work, and the definition/synonym screen layout and linking is cleaner in Dictionary.com than in the Wordbook application. That being said, the external linking afforded by Wordbook is useful from time to time. Keep them both! Then decide.

Updated Google Calendar for iPhone [Updated 4/8/09]

Wow, Google has completely re-architected the gCal and gMail mobile websites. Resulting in better performance, a refreshed user interface and great new gCal functionality on the iPhone. Google claims "the full impact of this new architecture isn't visible yet, but it will enable us to significantly improve performance and quickly roll out new features in the near future."

The new code requires iPhone OS 2.2.1 or higher, with aggressive caching, gCal and gMail will be usable even with inconsistent data networks.

Google calendar on the iPhone now allows you create, edit and delete events and meeting requests right from your iPhone. The interface is clean and intuitive, gCal is giving iCal a run for its money on the iPhone. This is competition that is good for all of us. Go to: google.com/calendar/gp from your iPhone browser to see your schedule, edit an event, add or remove guests... all from your iPhone.

If you are a gMail user, the new web interface matches Apple's mail.app on the iPhone, allowing batch processing of emails with a search feature that is missing in the mail.app (until 3.0 arrives).

If you are a gCal or gMail user, this is great news and worthy of a shortcut being added to one of your home screens (Note: the Google mobile app has been taking me to the old version of gCal, it looks like Google will need to update the mobile app).

[Updated 4/8/09 11AM EST] The speed enhancement to Google calendar & Gmail are noticeable. I did notice while using the new Google calendar that there is still an important item missing. When creating a new appointment/event on the iPhone, you can not assign the event to a specific calendar, the event defaults to the "default calendar" - which happens to be the first calendar you created when initially setting up your Google calendar. In my opinion this oversight creates a usability issue, failing the RWU test. As it is Google calendar functionality is limited on the iPhone, you are better off creating events/appointments on your desktop, where you can assign them to a specific calendar.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Quickoffice beats Documents To Go to Market?

Quickoffice is showing Quickoffice for iPhone at CTIA this week, and has announced an April 2009 launch date. Quickoffice for iPhone will provide editing of Excel and Word documents. Essentially this suite is made up of three applications:
  • Quicksheet
  • Quickword
  • Quickoffice Files.

Note, if you have Quickoffice's MobileFiles Pro, there is a new update that changes the name to Quicksheet. It looks like Quickoffice adds Quickword and cut, copy & paste... it is unclear if cut, copy & paste will be added to Quicksheet... time will tell. It looks like the office suite is finally coming to the iPhone.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Evernote for iPhone updated to 2.0

Evernote (EN) is an application that I keep front & center on my main home screen. I use Evernote daily, as an extension of my brain, the iPhone version in combination with the desktop clients combine to provide... "information at your finger tips." If you have not tried Evernote, I recommend that you check out Evernote's blog for a peek at the power of this application.

It has been several months since the Evernote iPhone application has been updated, the Evernote folks hinted at an imminent upgrade on a recent podcast. Well, low and behold, there it was on my App Store Updates screen.. Evernote 2.0! Let's review the enhancements/changes:

  • LANDSCAPE Mode (See screenshots below)! Just flip your iPhone! You can now create & edit notes in landscape view using the larger landscape keyboard. You can also view the listing of your notes in landscape mode in a cool new thumbnail view. After an evening of using Evernote in landscape mode, this is a great enhancement, browsing through notes in the new thumbnail view feels natural and editing with the larger keyboard is a godsend.

  • The "Favorites" functionality in the Evernote iPhone application allows you to selectively tag notes that you want to carry with you on the iPhone that will be available at all times, even without a network connection. With the new EN version, the favorites folder has been updated to allow you to edit the order that your notes are displayed. The developers also claim to have implemented "better offline support for favorites, including improved access to attachments." I have not had a chance to open an attachment yet (sans 3G/wifi access), but I do find the custom sort order a worthy enhancement, especially given how the favorite folders tends to grow with use.

  • Numerous bug fixes and cosmetic improvements. The startup time has been improved and it is noticeable, geo-tagging accuracy has also been addressed, as has the stability of the built in browser.
The enhancements listed above are welcome and make for a worthy upgrade. One enhancement I have been waiting for is the ability to edit notes with "stylized text." This issue was not addressed with the 2.0 upgrade. The workaround is to make sure that any note you are planning to update using both the iPhone EN editor and your EN desktop clients, do not stylize your text or add photos/audio/video to the note while editing in your desktop Evernote client.

Highly Recommended