Sunday, May 31, 2009

QuickOffice Suite 1.2 Upgrade

This weekend saw the release of Quickoffice 1.2, an upgrade that addressed many of the usability concerns of the previous versions of Quickoffice. Such as: Auto-correction (predictive text) in Quickword, auto-capitalization, find text; in Quicksheet - copy & paste of cells, columns and cell ranges, landscape editing and set/remove cell borders to name just a few.
There is a complete listing of the new features in the description on the app store. Copy/paste in Quicksheet and predictive text in Quickword are the features I have been waiting for! Combined with the absence of Documents To Go from Dataviz has me pulling the trigger on the $19.99 purchase of QuickOffice as soon as I am done typing this post.
The ability to edit DOCX & XLSX (2007 MS Office format) files is promised for the next upgrade, as is access to iPhone email attachments.

It looks like the developers of Quickoffice suite have been busy.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Replace your Laptop with an iPhone?

Not yet... Although I use my laptop far less than I used to... my iPhone has become my main window into Twitter (via Twitterific), keeping up on RSS feeds (via NetNewsWire) and personal email.

Yahoo! Tech has an interesting study: How much work can you do on an iPhone?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Documents To Go for iPhone... tic.. toc..

With 2 weeks remaining in May, theoretically, we should be seeing Documents To Go (Dataviz) on the AppStore soon. There is no new information on nor on Dataviz's Facebook fan page, other than more than a few posters beginning to express their impatience.
For those folks that were not Palm users, Docs To Go was (and is) arguably the office suite product of choice for the Palm OS.
There are a lot of us waiting to see if Dataviz can deliver for the iPhone OS. Dataviz has had almost a year to work on their office application, thus expectations are high, hopefully this recent silence from Dataviz is a last minute coding crunch, taking from and learning from the mistakes that the QuickOffice team has made.

[UPDATED] : Dataviz sent DTG to Apple on 5/19, approval usually takes ~8 days, we should be seeing Documents To Go for the iPhone today or tomorrow. On the Dataviz Facebook fan page, they are promising very good pricing on their flagship application.

AP News Version 2.0

AP Mobile News has morphed into AP News 2.0 (Free) and is now available on the AppStore. AP Mobile News was one of the first applications available on the AppStore and has been a stalwart for news delivery on the iPhone. Over the past several months the Mobile News application has started to lag behind, as USA Today launched a colorful application, NYT updated their application, AP's chief competitor, Reuters, released News Pro and WSJ launched an iPhone application giving free access to their paid content. All of these applications offered features not available in AP Mobile News 1.x, things like landscape viewing, customizable front pages, location specific weather, Facebook/Twitter integration. AP News 2.0 offers all of these and more (see list of new features below).
The first time you launch the AP News you select your region, location (for local weather & news), and then you are given the option of configuring your front page with a myriad of options. Moving into the application, there are settings for font size, number of stories for each heading (1-5) and the UI has been cleaned up. One thing I found annoying, stories can be read in landscape mode, yet the front page (entry page) is viewable in portrait mode only, thus when you are reading in landscape and return to the front page to select another article, the screen rotates to vertical requiring you to re-orientate your device. Other than this, I am impressed with version 2.0, presentation is good, content is great, overall... 2.0 is a worthy upgrade.

Things I look for in a News Application:
  • Search.
  • Ability to Save articles.
  • Ability to share articles.
  • Local news stories.
  • Rating and viewing of popular articles.
  • Readability - font customization, landscape viewing.

AP News has all of the above... the things I would like to see in version 2.1:

  • Tilt scroll
  • Options for dark background/light text.
  • Landscape viewing across all screens.
Below is a listing of the new features as listed on the AP blog

AP Mobile v2.0 Features include:

  • Front Page, a simple way for you to choose your news.
  • Choose Your News. Customize the application by switching on and off categories that interest you.
  • Customize the number of stories that are shown on the Front Page.
  • Select your region for region-specific news.
  • Added localization for French and Spanish.
  • Added current weather and five day forecast.
  • You can now choose which local papers show up in your weather tab.
  • Changed application icon.
  • Increased content (Health, Science, Press Releases).
  • Control the size of the font you use to read stories.
  • Read stories vertically or horizontally.
  • Send to AP allows you to send breaking stories directly to AP from your phone.
  • Send stories directly to Twitter and Facebook.
  • Fixed photo viewer. Photos can now be stretched fullscreen.
  • Improved rating UI
  • Read more than 10 stories in feeds.
  • Major increases to stability.
  • Fixing many small bugs.

Note of Caution from AP:

Please note: some users are experiencing difficulties updating their application to 2.0. This happens on first running the application as the application registers with our back-end servers. If this happens to you, we suggest you delete the application and when you have a strong WIFI signal re-downloading the application and running it again.

Link to a Review on TUAW A fairly critical review of AP News 2.0.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The iPhone & Politics!

Visible Vote Mobile (free) is a polling application that gives you insight to how your legislators are voting on bills. You start by entering your email, zip code and state, the application identifies your Senators and Congress person(s), then you "vote now" by basically reading through the unanswered issues - simplified versions of complex bills that are topical in nature, such as the "Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights", vote yes or no. A vote summary screen provides a "percent agree" with your specific legislators.
From within Visible Vote Mobile you can send an email to your legislators choosing one specifically or multiple. The makers of Visible Vote claim to send a weekly synopsis of the information they have collected from their users to the legislators.
In addition to the iPhone application there is also a Visible Vote application for Facebook.
Personally, I find the iPhone application adequate, the "Issues" are summarized accurately for the lay person, if you require more information, jump on the internet and dig into the proposed bill. One thing I have found, the bills of today are so broad, voting yes or no is difficult as you are often conflicting with prior votes.
Overall, Visible Vote keeps you informed of important legislation, gives you insight into how your legislators are voting and gives you a preliminary tool to take part in the democratic process. Not a bad start!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The 2.0 Parade Marches On...

The release of the All Things Digital iPhone (ATD) application carried with it some important news for NetNewsWire (NNW) users. Apparently the ATD application leverages the framework from the forthcoming NetNewsWire 2.0 iPhone application. Brent Simmons is the brains behind NNW, here is a tweet from him (5/18/09): "All Things Digital app released: Built on our iPhone media app framework: also the basis for NetNewsWire/iPhone 2.0." Simmons also tweeted "Created Twitter accounts for NetNewsWire: @nnw_iPhone and @nnw_Mac. Can’t do support via Twitter, but can provide news." Prepping for a new release?
Thus.. it looks like a 2.0 release for NNW-iPhone is imminent. Great news for all of us that have been using NNW since day one as our RSS reader of choice.

Monday, May 18, 2009

All Things D - iPhone Application

Several weeks ago the Wall Street Journal iPhone application was launched, providing free access to what is normally paid content on the WSJ website. One of the kudos for the WSJ iPhone application is that it included content from the All Things Digital website. Now you have another outlet on your iPhone for the content of the All things Digital website, as WSJ released the All Things Digital (ATD) iPhone application (Free).
At first glance, the content appears to be the same, although broken down by author in the ATD application (I suspect that ATD has greater depth of content), Walt even has his own icon, as does BoonTown and John & Peter on the main page. More... includes the following subheadings.. Search, Voices, Video, Digital Daily, MediaMemo, Personal Technology, The Mossberg Solution, Mossberg's Mailbox, Mossberg, Photos, and D5-D7 conference entries.
Only time and exploration of this brand new application will tell if it is worthy of a separate icon on the "News homescreen" - in addition to the WSJ application, space is getting tight! According to the launch article, the new ATD application was developed by the folks at Newsgator and the application integrates with Twitter and Facebook.
Initial usage shows that the videos play over 3G network and seem to be centric around the D conference, as do the photos. There is in-application advertising, a lower third overlay that shows for a few seconds when opening an article, then slides away. The ATD application supports landscape viewing and provides for customization of the main menu bar.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Trails for iPhone... FTW!

I have been using Trails for iPhone since version 1.0, but recently gave Motion-X GPS and Ascent Mobile a trial run for tracking walks/hikes.
I use the Ascent desktop software, thus it seemed like a natural fit to use the recently released Ascent mobile application, but this version is just too new and as a tracking application it has too many features missing, such as the ability to pause while recording a track. You must stop recording and then launch a new track with Ascent Mobile, this is a deal breaker.
Motion-X GPS does not offer the GPS accuracy obtained with Trails, launch time is a bit slower and GPS acquisition lags behind Trails. Also, Motion-X GPS does not have the tracking configuration features offered by Trails, such as specific settings for hiking, Jogging, cycling and car.
Bottom line, I returned to Trails, the new version 2.0 adds map caching for offline map usage (no data connection required), topographic maps and landscape graphing. The track summary page has been redone and gets an A+ for display and usability! Use of Trails is straight forward, swipe to pause, swipe again to re-start. The perfect iPhone Pedometer!
My workflow:
1. Record activity with Trails for iPhone.
2. Email GPX file to self.
3. Drop GPX file in Ascent for Mac, for reporting and analysis.
4. I can then sync activities back to Ascent Mobile on the iphone, allowing me to carry around my activity diary!
Thus, Trails is my acquisition device and Ascent is my reporting application. The best of both worlds!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Back to Twitterific

After a couple of months of using Tweetie on the iPhone, I am back in the familiar confines of Twitterific, Twitterific 2.0 specifically. While I enjoyed the trending and search features of Tweetie (both are now available with Twitterific 2.0), I never really got comfortable with Tweetie for viewing posts. My biggest issue was the need to flick-scroll to the bottom of the screen and try to remember which tweet I left off at. Twitterific 2.0, as well as earlier versions, load the new tweets above the tweet you left off at - which is displayed front and center... you just pick up where you left off at. For me.. this is the key feature to any Twitter client!
Twitterific 2.0 FTW! Highly recommended.. There are many reviews on the web going into details of all the new functions.. if you are on the fence, I recommend reading a couple. Bottom line, for $3.99 the Pro version of Twitterific is a steal!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Creating Music on Your iPhone

A hobby of mine is creating music on Apple products, Logic, Ableton Live & Garageband on the Mac and now leveraging the many Touch OS applications on my iPhone & iPod Touch.

Touching briefly on a few of the better applications available:

  • Beatmaker - think of this as a loop/beat version of Garageband.

  • - a full featured soft synth that has a link with Beatmaker, allowing you to use content you created in Noise as loops in Beatmaker.

  • BassLine, iSyn & Technobox are all variations of a synth & sequencer. iSyn is a lot of fun.

  • iDrum, MegaSynth, Jasuto, NlogSynth are all virtual instruments.

If you are musically inclined, or just like to noodle around there are alot of great options.

A good blog to add to your RSS feed if you are interested in music creation applications for the iPhone/Touch is: Palm Sounds.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wundermap! An Interactive Weather Touch Map

For your very own Interactive Weather Touch Map... go to: using Safari, this will take you to the Weather Underground's iPhone optimized website. Search for the location you are seeking weather information for, then scroll down to the button: "View Full Screen WunderMap".

A new browser window will open with a radar weather map that takes full advantage of your iPhone's Touch OS. You can scroll around the map by dragging with your finger, use the pinch gesture to zoom in or out and rotate your iPhone for landscape viewing. This is the best implementation of a radar weathermap I have seen so far. You can bookmark the map to your bookmark list or to a home screen, the weather map will update when you launch it.

You also have the option of displaying Satellite VIS (cloud cover) or Satellite IR4 (detects clouds day & night) maps as well.

While this is a webapp, it outshines the mapping capability of any of the native iPhone weather applications.. or at least the ones that I have used. After checking this out, you may find yourself bookmarking the icon to your home screen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bento! Apple's Personal Database Comes to the iPhone!

And it syncs with the desktop version of Bento.

Bento for iPhone ($4.99) is now available on the App store. Bento for iPhone comes with 25 ready to use templates, supports 15 different field types and integrates with the other iPhone applications such as Contacts, Safari, Mail and Maps. As mentioned above, Bento for iPhone syncs with Bento 2.04 for the Mac.
I think this is great news and look forward to exploring the power of this new application. Without reading too much into this release, I hope that this is a sign that Apple is working on porting some of their OS X applications for the iPhone. I know I have been waiting on iWork for iPhone and Garageband/Logic for iPhone.
More details as I explore Bento for iPhone.

Monday, May 4, 2009

EA's Tiger Woods Golf and Myst released for the iPhone

Over the weekend two of the gaming big boys were released for the iPhone. EA's Tiger Woods golf ($9.99) weighs in at 160 mb. Graphics and game play are excellent. If you are a fan of the Tiger Woods golf series, this is a great way to carry it in your pocket.
Myst is 700+mb and requires 1-1.5 gb of free space to install. Sounds impressive!
This week:
Waiting on Twitterific 2.0 to be approved and Instapaper 2.0.
It should be a good week!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Quickoffice Suite for iPhone

From reading the reviews that are beginning to show up on iPhone blogs, a couple questions have been answered:
  1. Quicksheets does NOT have cut, copy & paste.
  2. A new point release update has added email functionality.
  3. The update did not address the auto-correct oversight.

Quickword is now available as a stand alone application, priced at $12.99.

I have waited this long for an office suite on the iPhone, I think I will wait awhile longer to see what Dataviz has to offer with Documents To Go for iPhone, when I was a Palm user, DTG was my office suite of choice.