Category: iPad Apps

Amazon’s Netflix Competitor Hits App Store, But Without AirPlay Streaming

Amazon Instant Video iPad App Icon

The Amazon Instant Video for iPad app is now available in the App Store as a free download. Amazon’s relatively unknown Instant Video service is essentially a Netflix clone with around 18,000 titles available for streaming compared with Netflix’s estimated 30,00-45,000. You can also download and watch movies in the app you bought from Amazon’s digital catalog, which is much larger at around 120,000 titles.

Amazon Instant Video is included with a $79/year Amazon Prime membership. A Prime membership includes free 2-day shipping on eligible items and unlimited ebook borrowing (again, only on eligible books).

Amazon’s Instant Video is actually a bit cheaper than Netflix, as it works out to about $6.67 a month compared to Netflix’s $8 a month. It also has some content not on Netflix, like Mission: Impossible III and Mean Girls.

Alas, the app has no support for AirPlay, despite the fact that an AirPlay button appears when playing video. So there’s no watching on your big-screen TV via AppleTV. But with Hulu Plus recently showing up on the AppleTV, could Instant Video be right around the corner, too? Here’s hoping.

A screenshot of Instant Video’s most-popular movies is below. The list is usually a good source of movies not available on Netflix.

Amazon Instant Video popular movies

The 5 Best iPad Newstand Magazines With Free Subscriptions

Most of the magazines available in Apple’s Newstand app cost money (in some cases, a lot of money) for subscriptions. However, there are a handful of Newstand magazines that offer everything for free. Below is a list of what I consider to be the top 5 6 free Newstand magazine apps for iPad. For a complete list, check out our forum post.

1. Sporting News

One of my biggest complaints about the App Store is that there aren’t many great sports news apps. That’s why I love the Sporting News iPad magazine (free). It doesn’t offer automatic downloads, but it is available for a daily manual download that’s entirely free. Once downloaded, the issue can be read offline. Sporting News features big full-spread photos and pulls in the articles from AOL’s Sporting News website reformatted in a professional magazine manner (think Flipboard except with more color). If you do read it offline, some of ads and video are missing, so it’s best experienced with an Internet connection, but it’s not required.

Each issue of Sporting News is usually around 100mb, but you can’t store back issues, so there’s no worry about it taking up too much memory. Hey, it’s completely free!

iPad only.

2. Engadget Distro

Distro iPad Magazine App

Engadget Distro (free) is a weekly magazine that features the best writing from Engadget from the past week reformatted into a slick magazine format. It reads just as well as any print tech magazine, so it goes to show the quality of writing being done online these days. The magazine has Retina-friendly graphics for the new iPad. Every issue is completely free, but unfortunately there is no subscription/automatic download, so you manually have to open the app and download each issue one by one. Memory usage is about 100MB for each issue.

iPad Only.

3. Dash Recipes

Dash Recipes (free) is filled with beautiful food photography and accompanying recipes, and it offers free subscriptions delivered once a month. The magazine’s content reminds me of those coffee-table recipe books you used to see in Borders for like $6.99, meaning it’s heavy on the beautiful photos and light on content (mostly photos and recipes with some videos thrown in). But the photography is second to none and looks great on Retina screen.

Dash Recipes is great for collecting recipe ideas and making my mouth water with top-notch food photography.

iPad only.


TRVL (free) is a travel magazine that is also one of the most popular Newstand apps. Each issue focuses on a destination, so older issues are just as relevant as new. Currently there are 63 issues available for download for free (the Afghanistan issue is the only one that costs money, at $1.99). TRVL is filled with beautiful photos from travel locations around the world (try viewing in landscape to get the stunning full-screen view). The magazine also features travel stories and advice, but the strengths are the photography. I found TRVL is very useful for collecting ideas for vacations.

With TRVL, you have to download each issue one-by-one. There is an option to subscribe for $0.99 a month, which presumably supplies automatic downloads for each issue. The size of each issue is around 150MB. The developers recently updated the last 20 issues to be Retina-screen compatible.

iPad only.

5. GameQ

GameQ (free) is probably the best looking of all the magazines listed here. It’s a gaming magazine from Gamefly, the Netflix-like game subscription service. There is currently only one issue available, but it’s pretty sweet graphics wise. The content is a bit like most print gaming magazines in that it’s very advertorial in style, meaning it’s more about hyping the game than it is about reviewing games. Still, I enjoyed flipping through, seeing the latest games and what they look like. All gaming consoles/platforms are covered, even iOS. And it looks great on a Retina screen. File sizes are huge, however. The new issue is 485MB in size.

iPad only.

6. Huffington Post

Huffington (link) started out as a paid-subscription magazine but has recently gone free. The magazine is essentially a collection of the best longer-form content from the Huffington Post website from the past week reworked into a slick magazine format. You can subscribe and receive automatic downloads every week in Newstand. Each issues weighs in around 200 MB. If a political bias bothers you, Huffington is somewhat of the liberal persuasion, like a counterpoint to the conservative The Daily iPad magazine.

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.

11 Things You Can Do With Apple’s New Podcasts App You Couldn’t Before

The best thing about Apple’s new Podcasts app (free) is that it adds functionality to the iPhone that wasn’t there before. Managing podcasts was one of the last few things you still needed iTunes running on a computer to do. But no longer. Here are 11 things the Podcasts app lets you do on the iPhone and iPad that you couldn’t before.

1. Subscribe to podcasts on the iPhone/iPad

Previously you could browse, stream, and even download podcasts on the iPhone, but you couldn’t subscribe to a podcast. That had to be done using iTunes on a computer. But subscriptions can now be established on the iPhone. Subscribing, however, doesn’t mean your podcasts automatically download. That is a separate function you can also set up in the new app (see the next item in this list). Subscribing simply means the podcast will appear in your list of podcasts for quick and easy access, sort of like the Favorites feature in the iPhone’s Phone app.

2. Set up automatic podcast downloads on the iPhone/iPad

When a new episode of a podcast becomes available, it will automatically download in the background the next time you plug in your iPhone/iPad for charging.

3. View all your podcasts in an easy-to-browse tile view

The Podcasts app introduces a beautiful tile view that displays all your podcasts by album art. There is also a button to switch to a list view that not only lists all your podcasts, but displays the number of unplayed episodes for each podcast next to the name.

4. View a single chronological list of unplayed podcast episodes on the iPhone/iPad

This is one of my favorite new features. Going for a 5-hour drive and want to catch up on all your unlistened-to podcasts? Simple navigate to this list and hit the play button. Your unplayed podcasts will play one after another. Pressing the skip button skips to the next one.

5. Skip ahead 30 seconds to avoid commercials

Most podcasts these days rely on hosts reciting product pitches (“sign up for Audible and get a free audiobook!”) to pay the bills. Well, Podcasts’ new 30 seconds skip-ahead button is out to destroy that revenue model, muhaha! OK, it likely won’t do that no more than TiVO destroyed television commercials, but still, this is a nice feature for when those commercials become annoying or go on too long.

6. Skip backward 10 seconds

Previously, you could only skip backwards 30 seconds in podcasts. The Podcasts app changes that to 10 seconds. Which is better? I like 10 seconds because I usually tap this button to re-listen to something someone said a few seconds ago, not 30 seconds ago.

7. Play video podcasts at 1.5x, 2.0x, and 0.5x speeds

Previously, video podcasts had one viewing speed. Now, there are 4. That’s even 1 more than audio podcasts get (0.5x, 1x, 2x). I wouldn’t mind seeing that 1.5x speed for audio podcasts as well.

8. Set how many podcast episodes the iPhone/iPad keeps at a time

You likely don’t want an old podcast episode from 2009 taking up space on your iPhone. Podcasts lets you determine how many episodes are stored before they are automatically deleted.

9. Share a link to a podcast via Twitter or Text Message (and soon Facebook)

Previously you could share a link to a podcast only by email using the Music app. Now you can tweet your favorite podcasts using the Podcasts app. And I’m sure Facebook will appear with iOS 6.

10. Browse top podcasts with a swipe of your finger

The Podcasts app introduces a slick (but currently slow and buggy) radio-dial interface to browse the top podcasts in various categories. It’s cool looking but I have problems with it every time I use it. If you want to enjoy this app, I suggest avoiding using this feature.

11. Set a sleep timer for podcasts without using the Clock app

The iPhone has always had a sleep timer buried in the Clock app, but now you no longer have to leave the app you’re in to set it. The Podcasts app’s sleep timer can be found in the the new retro reel-to-reel tape player view. To access it, swipe up on the album art while playing a podcast, the reel-to-reel tape player will appear along with a sleep timer button.

Apple Releases Podcast App Into App Store

Apple has released an app called Podcasts (free) into the App Store that is basically a standalone app for podcasts in iTunes. It’s been rumored that Apple will be breaking up the many-headed monster that is iTunes into smaller apps, and this seems like an early indication of that happening.

With the app, you can stream and/or subscribe to podcasts, and browse around using top lists and categories. There is also a cool radio-like feature where you swipe your finger across a simulated radio dial (which looks really cool, great design) to listen to the top podcasts for a variety of categories. The categories of podcasts (tech, video games, automotive, etc) serve as the “radio stations.” Another cool feature is that subscribed podcasts automatically download when they become available, essentially removing the need for iTunes desktop software for downloading podcasts. < Podcasts is a universal app for iPhone and iPad.

App Description:

Podcasts app is the easiest way to discover, subscribe to and play your favorite podcasts on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Explore hundreds of thousands of free audio and video podcasts from the Podcasts Catalog, and play the most popular podcasts, organized for you by topic, with the all-new Top Stations feature.


• Enjoy all of your audio and video podcasts in a single app
• Explore hundreds of thousands of podcasts including shows in over 40 languages
• Try the innovative new Top Stations feature to find new podcast series in a variety of topics, including arts, business, comedy, music, news, sports, and more.
• Browse by Audio or Video podcasts, or see what’s most popular in Top Charts
• Tap subscribe for your favorites and automatically receive new episodes for free as they become available
• Stream episodes or download to listen while offline
• Skip forward and back using simple playback controls
• Turn on Sleep Timer to automatically stop playing a podcast while listening in bed
• Share your favorite episodes with friends using Twitter, Messages and Mail
• Optionally sync your favorite episodes from iTunes on your Mac or PC
• Sync your episode playback for seamless transition between devices

Image Gallery:

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.

Image Gallery:

iPhone and iPad Apps That Stream Free Movies and TV Shows

There’s a growing trend of people who are canceling cable TV and instead going with free over-the-air “antenna” TV. Maybe that’s why there is also a growing number of iOS apps that provide free full movies and TV shows in the App Store. Check out a list of some of the better ones below.


Crackle is probably the premiere app when it comes to the quality of free movies and tv shows it provides. All movies and shows are free and uncut, although you do have to watch the occassional commercial. But hey, the content is free! The content changes every once in a while, but here’s a sample of what’s available right now:

  • Talladega Nights.
  • Panic Room.
  • Starship Troopers.
  • Resident Evil.
  • Baby Boy.
  • Deuce Bigalow: Eruopean Gigaloo.
  • Seinfeld.
  • And hundreds more.

Crackle is a universal app for iPhone and iPad.


Popcornflix specializes in free movies. Hundreds of free movies, in fact. The service has some good gems in there, but there’s also some straight-to-DVD stuff. Here’s a sample of what’s available on the service right now:

  • Descent
  • Easy
  • Biggie and Tupac
  • Dead Tone
  • Lymelife
  • Battle in Seattle
  • American Affair
  • And hundreds more.

Popcornflix is a universal app for iPhone and iPad.


The NBC app offers full episodes of a limited number of shows. Besides full episodes, the app offers NBC’s schedule, games, and other stuff, but really, we only care about the free TV. Currently available content looks like this:

  • America’s Got Talent
  • Tonight Show with Jay Leno
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
  • Days of Our Lives
  • Love in the Wild
  • Saving Hope

NBC is a universal app for iPhone and iPad.

The CW Network

The CW Network iPad app screenshot

The CW Network provides you free full-length episodes, and there’s a lot of content in the app. You get the 5 latest episodes of everyone primetime show on the CW. Way to go C dub. The app streams shows like the Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, 90210, Hart of Dixie, America’s Next Top Model, and more.


The PBS app (iPhone, iPad) makes a lot of PBS’s best content available for streaming for free. The only problem I have with the app is it’s hard to find all the full-length content (you have to dig too deep into the app to find it). Here’s a sample of what’s currently available:

  • Frontline
  • NOVA
  • Nature
  • Antiques Roadshow
  • PBS Newshour
  • Zen (Masterpiece Theater)
  • And more.

NBC Nightly News

NBC Nightly News offers full episodes of, what else, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (and others). You can also watch individual news segments and skip what doesn’t interest you. I use this one a lot if I need to catch up on the news.

NBC Nightly News is a universal app for iPhone and iPad.

Bloomberg TV+ for iPad

Bloomberg TV+ is a rare app in that it lets you watch the live broadcast of Bloomberg TV, a financial news network like CNBC. You can also access Bloomberg shows on-demand, like:

  • Bloomberg Rewind
  • Risk Takers
  • Bloomberg West
  • and more.

Bloomberg TV+ is iPad only.

WATCH Disney Channel

WATCH Disney Channel is one of those apps that requires you to log in to your cable provider (Comcast) to get the full content, but the app does offer several free full episodes of some of your favorite Disney Channel shows without signing in. There’s enough free content to keep your kids quiet for a few hours anyways. The available content rotates, but currently available are:

  • Jessie
  • Austin & Ally
  • Good Luck Charlie
  • Phineas and Ferb
  • Fish Hooks
  • Shake It Up

WATCH Disney Channel is a universal app for iPhone and iPad. There are also similar apps for Disney’s other sister channels as well.

NFB Films for iPad

NFB Films for iPad features over 2,000(!) free films, shows, and shorts. The content is all Canadian films you’ve (might) never heard of, but still, look around, there are some good documentaries and cartoon shorts for kids.

  • Cry of the Wild
  • Sexy Inc. Our Children Under Influence
  • Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows
  • William Shatner Sings O Canada
  • and tons more.

ABC Family

The ABC Family app lets you watch recent full episodes of ABC Family originals. The app even saves your place when you stop watching a video so you can start where you left off. Content rotates, but currently available are episodes for:

  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager
  • Bunheads
  • Jane By Design
  • Pretty Little Liars
  • Switched at Birth
  • Baby Daddy
  • and more.

ABC Family is a universal app for the iPhone and iPad.

Google Catalogs for iPad Is the Best Catalog App So Far

Google Catalogs

Google Catalogs for iPad (free) isn’t perfect, but it’s the best catalog app I’ve seen yet. The major problem so far for publishers trying to bring print content to the iPad has been horrible download times. The large file sizes required for sharp readable print and high-res images makes it tough to get them down to a more manageable level. I’m not sure how Google did it, but Google Catalogs just a great job at straddling the line between image resolution and manageable file sizes—although you’ll still have to wait a minute or two for each catalog to download.

And unlike some other poorly designed catalog apps, Google Catalogs feels like flipping through each store’s print catalog, as opposed to navigating through an online store.

There are catalogs from several dozen stores available, including:

  • Urban Outfitters
  • J Crew
  • Patagonia
  • Macy’s
  • Eddie Bauer

Another neat feature is that the app organizes the catalogs by date. Want to find the latest fall fashions? Just browse the August catalogs. The sheer number of catalogs allows you to power through dozens of stores—you’ll get an idea of what’s hip and trendy in no time. The app also adds graphical links to the individual products that you can tap on and navigate to an online store where you can buy it.

The app is not without issues though. I frequently experienced crashes, even after restarting my iPad. Hopefully Google will get these bugs ironed out in the next update.

IKEA Catalog Gets Its Own Free iPad App

IKEA iPad app

If those old paper IKEA catalogs are starting to pile up, you might want to give the IKEA Catalog for iPad app (free) a try. This app is not to be confused with the previous IKEA app that worked on both the iPhone and iPad—this one is designed specifically for the iPad.

The app has some cool features like being able to swipe down on those infamous IKEA interior-decoration photos to view individual items listed one-by-one along with their prices.

But there are some negatives too. Like most iPad magazines, the file size for each catalog is huge. The recent 2011 catalog is 480 MB in size. Expect to wait a while to download the catalog. Another problem is that the images sometimes take a few seconds to render, so you can’t quickly flip through the catalog at lightning speed. This problem is somewhat alleviated by the fact you can bring up a thumbnail gallery at the bottom of the app to scan through the catalog pages.

The IKEA Catalog for iPad is a free download from the iTunes App Store.

Star Trekkies Finally Get Their Official iPad PADD App

The writers of Star Trek knew the iPad was coming long ago, maybe even before it was a twinkle in Steve Job’s eye. Any Trekker worth his weight in salt can tell you it’s called a PADD (Personal Access Display Device), and it doesn’t run iOS, it runs the LCARS operating system.

Star Trek PADD ($4.99) is an official Star Trek app from CBS that turns the 21st-century iPad into 24th-century tech. Sort of. The app provides access to the official online encyclopedia of Star Trek info wrapped in the LCARS graphical wrapper. Want to know all of Seven of Nine‘s measurements? It’s an app for that.

Check out the crazy video promo for a taste:

Probably the coolest thing about the app is its sound effects, with authentic computer noises and voice from the show. The app also offers direct access to the official Star Trek Facebook fan page and Twitter feeds. And all it costs is $4.99 worth of gold-pressed latinum. I know I’ll be using it while streaming old STNG episodes over Netflix.

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