Category: iPad App Reviews

Review: McTube Pro, an App for Downloading YouTube Videos for Offline Viewing on the iPhone & iPad

McTube Pro YouTube client for iPhone and iPad icon

*UPDATE 5-15-2013* The video-caching feature of this app seemed too good to be true, and it was. The latest version of McTube Pro removes the cache video feature in McTube Pro per a request from Google. If you haven’t updated yet to the newer (less useful) version, you may want to back up your current version of the app (instructions) in case you accidentally update it in the future and want to revert back to the old version. If you did accidentally update, you may consider restoring your iPhone from a recent backup (just remember you’ll lose all changes on your iPhone since you made that backup).

McTube Pro’s ($1.99) killer feature is that it lets you save your favorite YouTube videos to your iPhone and iPad for offline playback. That’s right, saved YouTube videos can be played back without an Internet connection. And in HD, too, if you’d like. While McTube Pro can be used with any type of YouTube video, it really shines for music. Read on for my full review to find out why.

McTube Birthday Song Offline Viewing

Downloading Videos. McTube distinguishes itself from other YouTube viewing apps by allowing you to store YouTube videos for later playback. McTube avoids saying it “downloads” videos because that would violate YouTube’s terms. Instead, it “caches” them. When you find a video you like, you simply tap the Cache button, and the video downloads, whoops, I mean caches, in the background. Cached videos are stored in the Local folder for later playback.

Review Summary

McTube Pro

Price: $1.99

‘s Rating:
★★★★★ (3 stars out of 5)

Review Summary: McTube works well for storing your favorite YouTube videos and as a way to collect free music from YouTube. But the app is rough around the edges, lacking a way to organize videos and a way to control audio outside of the app. Still, it’s the best YouTube downloader among the several I tried out.

Videos Can’t Be Moved Out of the App. Unfortunately, videos stored in the app stay in the app—they can’t be downloaded to your computer. Allowing you to do this would be against YouTube’s terms, and would likely lead to the app’s YouTube access being revoked. But apparently allowing you to “cache” them is fine. That’s the power of semantics.

Best for Music. YouTube has quickly become the place to find and listen to music on the web. Just about everything is on there, for free. McTube Pro not only lets you save these videos, it has a special MP3 mode where you can listen to the audio-only portion of your saved videos, as if they were mp3s in the iPhone’s Music app.

But that’s not to say McTube Pro is a particularly good music player. It’s not. McTube’s biggest flaw as a music player is that music control functionality (play, pause, forward, back) only works inside the app. You can’t use the iPhone’s lock screen controls to, say, pause a song, and you can’t you use the headphone dongle controls either. You must use the app. Hopefully this will be fixed in a future version. MP3 mode also lets you create playlists, although the interface is crude and clunky.

Mp3 mode in McTube iPhone App

MP3 Mode lets you listen to audio-only portion of videos.

No Folders or Organization Tools. Another big annoyance with the app is that there is no way to organize your saved videos—there are no folders or playlists (except for MP3 mode). Videos just sit there in a big long list in the order you downloaded them. This gets annoying once your library grows.

Offline Cached Videos in McTube

Cached videos in McTube for offline viewing.

Access to Your YouTube Account. You can log in to your YouTube account inside the app and get access to all your Subscriptions, Favorites, Playlists, etc. This is a nice feature if you’ve already done some work collecting your favorite videos. You could simply go through your lists and download them to the iDevice.

Video Review:

Pro vs Free Version. There is also a free version of McTube that only lets you store 5 videos and has advertisements. I recommend checking it out first. The Pro version ($1.99) removes the storage limit and the advertisements.

Settings in McTube

Settings in McTube Pro.

HD and Auto Caching. The app has two useful option in its settings. The first is the ability to turn on HD streaming. If you’ve got good download speeds and lots of storage on your iPhone, I recommend taking advantage of HD video, as the audio quality is so much better. The Auto Cache setting, when turned on, automatically saves every video you watch using the app. It’s a nice time-saving feature—if you’ve got a lot of free memory. The Region setting lets you set a country (Argentina, Italy, etc) as your base for content filtering purposes.

AirPlay. The app also supports AirPlay. Combine this with HD downloads and an AppleTV, and you can put together a pretty sweet music-video party.


McTube Pro’s key feature is its ability to store YouTube videos on your iPhone/iPad for offline viewing later. In this area, it works as advertised. You can even save HD videos. The app also has a special “MP3 Mode” that lets you listen to the audio-only portion of videos, making this a good way to collect free music. But this app is rough around the edges. There are no tools to organize offline videos, and the iPhone’s audio controls (play/pause/forward) don’t work outside of the app. Despite it limitations, I can highly recommend this app for its main purpose: caching YouTube videos for offline viewing. It’s also a great way to collect free music.

The 2 Killer Features of the Mr. Reader App That Made Me Switch From Reeder (Video)

I wasn’t looking for a new RSS reader for the iPad. But when Christine Chan over at App Advice, in her an awesome RSS-reader app roundup, recommended Mr. Reader ($3.99) as her top choice for iPad, and when I saw all the 5-star reviews it had in the App Store, I decided to give it a chance.

Mr. Reader is more complicated than my previous favorite RSS reader app, Reeder, and I like my apps simple. But digging into the app’s settings and customizations, I was blown away by all the features, some of which I didn’t even know I needed. The video below shows off 2 features that were the dealbreakers for me, but keep in mind there are dozens more that make Mr. Reader the best RSS reader for iPad:

The 2 Killer Features:

1. An Incredibly Clever and Simple Interface for Moving From Article to Article. Mr. Reader has an ingenious interface for navigating from article to article. It really must be seen (or used) to be understood (see the video above), but basically it involves sliding your finger from the edge of the iPad inward, which makes several buttons appear. To navigate to the next article, you simply lift your finger of the screen. If you want to go back to the previous article, slide your finger to the up-arrow button. To close the current view, slide your finger down to the X. It’s incredibly intuitive, easy, and addictive—I find myself trying to do the same motion in other apps as well. It’s also a much better interface than other RSS apps I’ve tried, which all rely on tapping tiny buttons or making dramatic full-screen swipes to move from article to article.

2. The Ability to Turn Partial Feeds Into Full Feeds. Partial RSS feeds are annoying. You only get a headline and maybe a sentence or two. Mr. Reader has a feature where you can lock a feed into a full-feed view. It does this by automatically loading the link of the feed into an in-app web browser or a service like Readability or Instapaper, all of which will show the full article. Never again will you have to suffer the tease that is a partial RSS feed.

Weekly iPad/iPhone App Provides Sales Circulars for All the Major Stores

One of the reasons people still buy a Sunday newspaper is for the huge pile of weekly store circulars that come with it. Weekly for iPad (and iPhone) by Twicular gives you access to those circulars for over 100,000 stores with no need to toss them out when you’re finished. It’s a pretty sweet app that can save a lot of hassle.

I’ve been trying it out that past few weeks, and can report that Weekly had the updated weekly circulars for every store located near me, even my grocery store. Kohl’s, Target, K-Mart, Home Depot, Jewel (my grocery), etc, were all there. Another thing that impressed me is that app sometimes had multiple circulars that appeared in different local newspapers for the same week, but which had different info and formatting. The circulars also downloaded fairly quickly.

You can zoom in and out of the ads. The image resolution is fine for reading, but of course, the more you zoom in the blurrier they get (the text is still readable though). If you want to clarify the information for a product, you can tap on it and a pop-up will appear providing more data. It’s clear that the developers are working with a service that scans the circulars and adds info for the pop-ups.

The other great feature is that the app lets you use GPS to locate all the stores near you, so you don’t have to enter in an address, etc. You can save products as a shopping list and then email that shopping list to yourself to remember what to buy in the stores.

My only complaint about Weekly is that it doesn’t save the ads for offline viewing (although you can save specific items in the ads for offline viewing). But for the ads themselves, you have to download them each time you want to view them. Hopefully they’ll add offline viewing as a feature in the future.

As mentioned, they support over 100,000 stores, but here’s a list of a few stores from the app description: Macy’s, JCPenney, Best Buy, Sears, Kohl’s, Jo-Ann Stores, Dillard’s, Old Navy, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Pet Smart, Sports Authority, Staples, Aaron’s, Lowe’s, ACE Hardware, True Value Hardware, Home Depot, GNC, Wal-Mart, Target, CVS/pharmacy, Walgreens, Family Dollar, RadioShack, Save-A-Lot, Kmart, RiteAid, Aldi, Office Depot, Michaels, SAFEWAY, OfficeMax, Albertson’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Big 5 Sporting Goods etc.

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Review: Instapaper for iPhone and iPad

Instapaper ($4.99) is one of my most-used apps for the iPhone and iPad, but it’s more than just an app—it’s a free web service that lets you quickly and easily save interesting articles for reading later by clicking a bookmarklet in your web browser. Instapaper strips away ads and presents the content back to you in a minimalistic format, available for offline reading. In a world where online ads are getting more annoying and intrusive, Instapaper is the TiVO for the web, giving control back to the user over web content.

Saving Articles for Later

The primary way to save articles to Instapaper is via something called a bookmarklet—a fancy bookmark that performs a function when clicked. Setting up the bookmarklet takes 2 seconds, just go to this page and drag the Instapaper bookmarklet into your browser’s bookmarks. When you come across an interesting article you want to read later, click the bookmarklet, and the article is added to your Instapaper account.

Instapaper also works with over 130 iOS apps as well as Google Reader and NetNewsWire, letting you add content to your account using those services Also available from Instapaper is a special email address that allows you to forward email to your Instapaper account for offline reading.

Besides the iPhone and iPad, Instapaper also works on the Amazon Kindle as well as having its own website where you can access and edit content.

iPhone and iPad Apps

The Instapaper app is a universal app, so buy it once and it’ll work on both your iPhone and iPad. You’ll also need to sign up for a free account. While Instapaper is a good iPhone app, it excels on the iPad, mostly due to the iPad’s bigger screen and more comfortable reading experience.
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Review: The Daily, iPad Newspaper, Good and Getting Better

Convincing someone to pay for news these days is a tough sell. Especially on the iPad where, via apps and a web browser, you can get an infinite, free supply of it. The Daily is the latest experiment by big media (and it doesn’t get any bigger than Rupert Murdoch) to get people to pay for their news. It’s a subscription-based, 7-days-a-week newspaper built from the ground up for the iPad that will cost $0.99 a week, or $39.99 a year for access.

Does The Daily warrant opening up your wallet? It’s getting there, and every day seems to get better. Much of the content is exclusive and original. Some of it is even useful (the apps section, the occasional fitness article). The graphic design and interactive features are attractive and cutting edge. The full-screen photos can be stunning. But The Daily also needs work in some crucial areas. There are the usual technical glitches (some people report repeated crashes—we always recommend restarting your iPad to fix app crashes). The content takes a while to load (a minute or more depending on your connection). The subject matter is a bit narrow for a general-topic newspaper (where are yesterday’s box scores? And no business news?). And some features needlessly complicate the app (the carousel, and a brief video introduction to every issue). But overall, The Daily is an attractive, informative, cutting-edge daily that provides at least a half hour’s worth of professional, magazine-quality content every day. There needs to be some fine-tuning, but the larger picture is that $39.99 a year for what is really a daily magazine is quite a bargain, considering what people pay for only 12 issues of other magazines a year.

The Good.

The photography is stunning. The developers recognize that the iPad excels at displaying photos—there’s something about the picture-frame shape, bright screen, and handheld intimacy that makes the iPad the best photo viewer I’ve experienced. And they exploit it. Turn the iPad on its side and you can swipe through photos full screen (although this feature can be confusing, as the occasional text ends up in the mix). Turning back to portrait lets you return to normal reading mode. There are top-notch stunning photos too—just check out the ones coming out of Egypt right now.
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