Category: News

The 9 Most Useful iPhone/iPad Links of the Week

1. The New Launch Center Pro App, Explained (Video)

There’s been much ado about the new Launch Center Pro app ($2.99), too bad it’s hard to understand just what exactly the app does or how you’ll benefit. App Advice’s lovable pixie Robin Rhys put together this nice video showing some nice examples of how to set it up and use it to save yourself some time (in a nutshell, it saves you lots of taps over time). I’m still not sure I’m sold, but it does seem like something Apple should build into the iPhone.

Here’s Robin’s tutorial video:

2. How to Properly Clean Your iPhone/iPad

Allyson Kazmucha of iMore tells you how to properly clean the screen, reiterating Apple’s own advice in saying to use a microfiber cloth or other gentle, non-abrasive material in order to protect the oleophobic coating. Never spray liquids directly onto the iPhone itself, and avoid liquids with ammonia, alcohol, or bleach.

3. The Best Browsers for the iPhone and iPad

Thorin Klosowski of LifeHacker compares 4 browser apps: Safari, Chrome, Dolphin, and Atomic. Safari wins by default (pun intended), but Thorin’s surprise pick is Atomic, which is by the far the most powerful browser app with the most options (even though it’s a little on the ugly side.) Atomic has Ad block, Dropbox support, ability to download files, easy switching to private browsing, etc. Atomic comes in a free version and a $1 verison.

4. Cool New App: Weather Neue, a Free, Minimalist Weather App

There have been a lot of interesting weather apps the past few weeks. This week’s is a free one. Aldrin Calimlim over at AppAdvice takes a brief look at Weather Neue (free), a minimalist weather app that I think would look great running on an old iPhone doubling as a desktop clock. Last week, there was the beautiful WTHR app ($0.99), similar in its stark beauty.

5. Waze Is Blowing Up!

Waze (free) is a great little app, and I’m so glad to hear it’s becoming more popular (it’s grown from 10 million to 20 million users in 6 months!) and thus more useful. It’s a free navigation and traffic app that relies on its users to supply useful info like traffic jams, speed cams, etc. It even recently added user-reported gas prices and gas discounts. Even Apple has taken notice, as it’s reportedly using some of Waze’s data in its upcoming Maps app refresh. Such a fun little app, just remember to keep your eyes on the road.

6. Five iPhone Apps for Better Photos and Video

Nina Frazier of Mashable has some good suggestions for iPhone camera apps. I admit sticking to the plain old Camera app when I really should teach myself to use one of these more powerful alternatives.

7. Free App Alert! 30/30, a Productivity App

30/30 (free) is a cool timer/productivity app with an incredibly easy-to-use interface. With a few taps, set up a list of timers like works like this: work 30 minutes, take a break for 10, back to work for 15, then yoga for 20. The app will alert you for each step and keep you on track. Perfect for anyone who tends to get lost in activities when they really should take a break. There are many alternative uses I can think of for the app, too, like using the multiple timers for cooking.

8. Pandora Is No Longer an Eyesore

Pandora has always been an eyesore in both its web and app versions. The most recent update brought a fresh new look and these changes:

• Visual refresh and design enhancements
• Full lyrics for the songs we play
• Artist biographies
• Detailed track features from the Music Genome Project
• Song history: rate, bookmark, or buy previously played tracks
• Explicit lyrics controls
• Start a new station directly from the Now Playing screen
• Simplified sign-in and registration screens
• Reduced battery usage

9. Check Out These Great New Free iPhone/iPad Games

With free iOS games being taken to the next level in quality, Nintendo’s Game Boy franchise really is dead. Check out the list below of recent new free games in the App Store. They are all freemium, but you don’t have to spend any money to play. The two new Temple Run clones are even better than the original (see the last 2 games on the list). Freemium maybe can’t support epic console-quality games, but it sure works for mobile.

The 12 Most Useful iPhone/iPad Links of the Week

1. You Can Now Buy a Virgin Mobile Prepaid iPhone

Virgin Mobile joins Cricket in selling a prepaid iPhone. Virgin is the better deal, with cheaper plans and a better network, according to USA Today’s Rob Pegoraro. Prepaid carriers don’t require a credit check to buy the iPhone like Verizon and AT&T, so it opens things up for more customers. The Virgin iPhone is available direct from Virgin’s website and at Best Buy and Radioshack. Virgin is also opening 10 retail stores in Chicago to get back into the cell phone huckstering business.

2. The Top 10 Airline Apps

Brian Kelly at the awesome The Points Guy blog (a blog about stretching credit card reward points for super-cheap travel) lists and briefly reviews his top 10 apps from airlines. JetBlue’s app is his #1 because it offers a ton of features, including notifications for flight times, TV and radio schedules for in-flight entertainment, and just about everything else you’d want from an airline app. If you’re going to do some air travel soon, this is a good list to read through to get an idea of features. Also, can I plug our 50 Best Travel Apps list? Thank you.

3. Review: WTHR, a Beautiful New Weather App

Chris Herbert of MacStories likes the cool new WTHR ($0.99) app. The app offers a 7-day forecast and only two interface buttons to tap. Minimalist design geeks rejoice, even a sunny day can now be viewed in a Dieter Rams esque, stark, bleak but beautiful, function-as-form design aesthetic.

4. Griffin Introduces Kiosk for iPad

The Griffin Kiosk ($199, $299) is a new way to put the iPad on display in public. Businesses and marketers will likely love this, more so when Guided Access from iOS 6 arrives. The Griffin Kiosk locks down the iPad. You can even bolt the Kiosk to the floor or table. And a built-in power cord means the iPad won’t run out of juice.

5. Review: Wahoo Bluetooth 4.0 Heart Rate Sensor

If you’re a serious runner/athlete/nerd, you might want to check out the new Bluetooth 4.0 Wahoo Heart Rate monitor. I reviewed a Wahoo Heart Rate sensor for iPhone last year and thought it was pretty cool. This new Bluetooth 4.0 version uses less power but it’s only compatible with the iPhone 4S or newer devices. Nick Guy of iLounge says he couldn’t get it to work with the popular Runkeeper app (which it’s supposed to), but I’m sure that will be fixed pronto.

6. Review of Apple’s New PodCast App

Allyson Kazmucha of iMore says to ignore Apple’s new Podcasts app and instead use Instacast ($1.99) or other podcast-management apps (I personally prefer Stitcher Radio, a podcast management app that is free). Kazmucha rightly complains that Podcast doesn’t sync your subscriptions between your iPhone and iPad even though Apple is spending billions on iCloud. What’s up with that, Apple? Instacast offers synching and notifications for when new podcast episodes appear, and they don’t even have a $100 billion sitting in the bank.

7. Updated Gmail App Gets Notifications, Permanent Login, and Send From Alternate Email Address Features

The recent update to the official Google Gmail app (download) has it creeping closer to becoming a real alternative to the iPhone’s Mail app (the last feature lacking is support for multiple accounts). But if you only have one email and its Gmail, this app is could replace Mail. The latest update adds support for iOS notifications for when you receive an email (banners, alerts and lock screen options). They also made said notifications appear faster (they say 5 times faster, whatever that means). They also fixed the login so that you stay logged in until you sign out (this was the really annoying part about the app and why I didn’t use it).

8. Review: Martha Stewart Craft Studio app

Lisa Caplan of Appoliscious says to hurry up and grab the Martha Stewart CraftStudio iPad app (download) while it’s still free (regular $4.99). You can make really good-looking greeting cards, invitations and scrapbook pages digitally, and print them out via the Snapfish printing service if you so desire.

9. Johnny Carson: King of Late Night Documentary free to watch in PBS iPad app

John Gruber of Daring Fireball recommends people watch the new documentary Johnny Carson: King of Late Night, which is $9.99 in iTunes but free for a limited in the PBS for iPad app (free). It can be found in American Masters in the app. Man, I love the PBS app, I mentioned it in my recent list of Apps that Stream Free TV Shows and Movies. It’s amazing how much great free content is out there if you don’t insist in watching the latest and greatest thing. Anyway, Johnny Carson is great, and I’m just old enough to have watched him as a kid. Best late-night talk-show host ever. Easily the most likable.

10. Review: Spotify vs Pandora

Spotify now mimics Pandora by offering free personalized radio stations where you can like or dislike songs and the app learns your musical tastes. So should you switch from Pandora? Of course not. Michael Gowan of TechHive compares and contrasts both apps and decides that Pandora wins easily. I agree, Pandora’s interface is singularly designed for this purpose. The Spotify app buries its radio functionality. Still, if you already subscribe to Spotify, the radio stations are a great music-discovery tool.

11. New York Times Subscribers Can Now Read Using Flipboard

Is this a hint at the future of newspapers? Will general all-purpose reading apps like Flipboard become the Comcasts and Time Warners of print media? Pay $20 a month and get all the newspapers and magazines in the US! I’m in.

12. Free Stereophile iPad App Recommends High-End Audio Equipment

Mel Martin of TUAW points to a new app frm Stereophile (download). I guess Stereophile is some kind of bible for audiophiles. The app lists and rates 700 pieces of stereo equipment and links to reviews. The design of the app is not so great (no landscape view, for example), but it has great information, for free. Man, I love information.

4 Reasons Why I Sadly Won’t Be Using the Chrome Browser App on the iPhone/iPad

I love and use the desktop computer version of the Google Chrome browser on a daily basis, so I was really excited to see the iPhone/iPad version appear in the App Store. The Google Chrome app (free) is currently #1 in downloads and averages 4.5 stars in user reviews. But like so many alternative iOS browsers before it, I’ve quickly abandoned it, and no matter how longingly I stare at Chrome’s universal search/address bar, I just can’t come to love the Chrome app. Here are the four main reasons why:

1. No Reader button. If I’m reading an article on the web nowadays, I’m tapping Safari’s Reader button to optimize the page for reading on the iPhone/iPad. Sadly, there is nothing like the Reader feature for Chrome. Double tap to zoom? Reverse pinch? Never again!

2. Links from apps won’t open in the Chrome app. It’s not Chrome’s fault, but Apple has crossed its arms and won’t let any other browser be the default. So any web link inside an app that gives you the option to “launch in browser” will always launch Safari, not Chrome. This makes bookmarking and other personal link management a chore. What am I supposed to do, switch between Safari and Chrome each time I want to bookmark something? Ain’t gonna happen, friends.

3. Web clips on the iPhone’s home screen won’t open in Chrome. I’ve got a few websites bookmarked to my home screen, like And I use the iPhone’s Spotlight search to quickly launch those websites. But where do they launch? In Safari.

4. It’s slower. Chrome renders javascript slower because Apple won’t let other apps access its special Nitro Javascript engine, the fastest gun in the West when it comes to loading javascript, partner. On a desktop computer, I wouldn’t care so much, but on a smartphone, speed matters.

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:

10 Most Useful iPhone/iPad Links of the Week

1. The Pros and Cons of Buying a Prepaid iPhone

Thinking about a prepaid iPhone? Brad Spirrison of Appolicious says while the price is right (as long as you don’t mind a higher upfront cost), Cricket and Virgin’s networks are generally inferior to the majors like AT&T and Verizon, so do your homework first. In fact, in some cities like Chicago, Cricket won’t even offer a prepaid iPhone because their network runs on a different frequency (however, an iPhone on Cricket can work in Chicago via roaming, but it costs Cricket too much to allow it for too long).

2. Cricket Now Selling the iPhone 4 and 4S

Did we mention that Cricket has actually started selling the iPhone now? Forget about contracts. But as mentioned, the worry is, does their network cover your city?

3. It Costs $1.36 to Charge an iPad a Year. The iPhone, $0.38

Here’s another reason to turn off your PC and relax on the couch with your iPad. The Associated Press’s Jonathan Fahey points out that a cup of Starbucks coffee costs more than it does to run an iPad for a year. A PC costs $28.21 in energy a year. A refrigerator $65.72. The iPhone only costs $0.38. The numbers seem a bit low to me, but who am I to question the great Associated Press!

4. How to Change Your Apple ID Email Address

The New York Times’ J.D. Biersdorfer explains that Apple recommends you use an email address you actually use for your Apple ID account. Why? Not only so they can send you those annoying iTunes promo emails but also important stuff like App Store receipts. You’ll want to know if someone is buying stuff using your account.

5. Advanced iPhone Camera Exposure and Focus Tips

The iPhone 4 and 4S are serious cameras, and you can do some serious photography with them. Justin Balog of the iDownloadBlog take a look at advanced photography techniques using the Camera+ and Camera Awesome apps. Both apps provide extensive control of iPhone’s exposure and focus. You know what they say, the best camera is the one you have on you.

6. 4 RSS Reader Apps Reviewed: Reeder, Mr. Reader, Reader X, And Newsify

The Reeder app is my favorite RSS reader for iPhone and iPad, but Christine Chan of AppAdvice has at least one surprising piece of advice, she says Mr. Reader works better on the iPad (but Reeder is best on the iPhone). Will I change my favorite iPad RSS reader. Stay tuned.

7. Review: iHealth Blood Pressure Dock

Rob LeFebre over at 148Apps “reviews” the iHealth, an iPhone dock that comes with a blood pressure cuff and free app. The iHealth makes it easy for anyone to keep track of their blood pressure. You can even track multiple family members. LeFebre gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars (although he’s pretty scarce on details and doesn’t post real photos, which makes me wonder…). A $99.95 device.

8. Review of Timer: an App to Time Multiple Things At Once, and to Remember Your Previous Timers

Timer is an intriguing, if simple, app that has 12 buttons that start/stop 12 different timers, which can run down simultaneously. If you’re a chef doing a balancing act in the kitchen, this app could come in handy. The app also remembers your timers, so you don’t have to set them each time. TUAW’s Richard Gaywood does a brief review.

9. Gruber Recommends Dark Sky Weather App

John Gruber of Daring Fireball explains, in his usual succinct manner, why he can recommend Dark Sky, an app that will alert you when it’s about to start raining.

10. Pinball Arcade, a Good Free Pinball Game, Appears in the App Store

I’m a fan of iOS pinball apps, and another good free one has appeared in the App Store. Pinball Arcade comes with one free table, Tales of the Arabian Nights.

Cool Video: 100 Reasons to Jailbreak Your iPhone

We don’t talk about jailbreaking much on this site, but the above video is a good primer on some of the more interesting things that can be done with a jailbroken iPhone. Jailbreaking your iPhone is legal, and it’s easy to do, but it can be a pain to maintain over time. Plus, if something goes wrong with your jailbroken iPhone, Apple can refuse to fix it.

As for this video, what’s with the random girl in her underwear at the end?

Chicago Sun-Times Reviews Wireless iPad Keyboards

Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun Times recently published a nice roundup of recommended wireless keyboards for the iPad. Although he breaks his recommendations down into some pretty vague categories (see below), his top recommendation seems to be the Apple Wireless Keyboard, which I also reviewed for this site and can recommend. The Amazon Basics keyboard is also interesting as a cheaper clone of the Apple Wireless, in case you wanted to save $30.

Ihnatko’s list:


Why AppleCare+ for iPad May Be Worth Buying

I recently wrote an article about why AppleCare+ for iPhone isn’t worth buying, basically because repair costs aren’t that much more expensive without it than with it. But now, Apple has introduced AppleCare+ for iPad, and while I still feel the same about the iPhone version, AppleCare+ for iPad could be worth buying.

The Basics of AppleCare+ for iPad

AppleCare+ for iPad costs the same as the iPhone version ($99) and offers basically the same terms: a two-year warranty (the iPad by default comes with a 1-year warranty), coverage for accidental damage that includes a $49 fee to fix each time for up to two times, and free technical phone support.

So if the terms are similar, why is the iPad version of AppleCare+ worth it where the iPhone version isn’t? Because a broken iPad will cost you a lot more to fix without AppleCare+ than a broken iPhone, especially if you purchase one of the more expensive iPad models. What are the costs to fix a broken iPad? Read on.

What It Costs to Fix the iPad Out of Warranty

Below are the non-warranty costs to fix the iPad 1 and iPad 2 from Apple’s own website (Apple hasn’t updated the charts to take into account the 3rd-gen iPad yet, but costs will likely to be the same).


iPad Wi-Fi
iPad 2 Wi-Fi
Out-of-Warranty Service Fee
16GB $269
32GB $299
64GB $349
iPad Wi-Fi + 3G
iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G
Out-of-Warranty Service Fee
16GB $319
32GB $369
64GB $419

When you compare the $269 non-warranty cost to fix the cheapest iPad (16GB version) to AppleCare+’s $99 + $49 pricetag, AppleCare+ supplies a savings of $121. It goes up to $271 in savings for the most-expensive iPad. And that’s only if you break the iPad once (AppleCare+ covers you for up to two accidental damage repairs). Break it twice, and it’s a savings of $341 to fix the cheapest iPad.

So, Is It Worth It?

The gamble of AppleCare+ is that of any insurance: you may never break your iPad and you’re still out the initial $99 cost. And $99 is still a lot of money to most people. But seeing as the iPad is a mobile device, the chances of breaking it are much more than, say, a home computer or HDTV, but maybe less than an iPhone. It may all come down to how you plan to use the iPad. Are your small children going to be playing with it? Is it never going to leave your home?

Me? I’m buying it for my $829 64 GB iPad 3, But I am a heavy iPad user who travels with it.


  • According to the official legal terms, AppleCare+ for iPad doesn’t cover theft, loss, fire, earthquake, cosmetic damages like scratches and dents that don’t affect the iPad’s functionality, or abuse (so talk nice to your iPad).
  • AppleCare+ for iPad doesn’t cover damage that occurs before you buy AppleCare+, so make sure you tell them the damage occurred after (but don’t lie, never lie).
  • You must purchase AppleCare+ for iPad within 30 days of your iPad purchase.
  • If you don’t live near an Apple Store, Apple will pay for the shipping to mail in the iPad for service.
  • AppleCare+ for iPad also covers repair or replacement coverage for an Apple Time Capsule or Airport device. Why? I have no idea. You just have to have purchased the device within two years of the iPad.
  • While the cost to fix an iPad off-warranty ranges from $269-$419, the iPhone 4S costs only $199 to fix out of warranty, and older iPhones even less, only $149. If you have AppleCare+ for iPhone, it’s $149 to fix a broken iPhone 4S, saving you only $49. Not much of a savings.

*Updated 3-14-2012 to fix factual error about when you must purchase AppleCare+ for iPad. Previously the articled claimed you could wait up to a year, but Apple’s page says it must be within 30 days.

Review: Agenda Is a Nice Replacement for the iPhone’s Calendar App

It wasn’t until I tried the Agenda ($0.99) calendar app that I realized the iPhone’s default Calendar app is kind of annoying to use, especially when it comes to its interface. Where Calendar forces the user to tap tiny buttons to move through dates, Agenda relies on finger swipes, which prove less frustrating for navigation through small or large amounts of time within the calendar. With Agenda, all it takes is one swipe to move between various calendar views (6 months, 1 month, 7 days, 1 day), where with Calendar it takes several button taps.

Another advantage of using Agenda is that it lets you infinitely scroll through your weekly calendar with a swipe of your finger. In the weekly calendar view, you can swipe up or down to infinitely scroll through the days. While it may not seem like a big deal, when comparing Agenda’s easy scrolling to Calendar’s tapping a touchscreen button a few dozens times, Agenda just provides a more pleasant experience.

Agenda has all the functionality of the default Calendar app; in fact, the screen for adding an event looks exactly the same, with all the same options like alerts for events and invitees for meetings, etc. So there’s not much of a learning curve to switching over to the app. I don’t do anything fancy with my iPhone calendar like creating multi-invite meetings, but Agenda does have those advanced features, including the ability to SMS or email all invitees to a meeting and inserting links to Google Maps in events.

Overall, I found that Agenda, with its swipe-based interface, is just a much smoother experience than the iPhone’s default Calendar app, which relies more on touchscreen buttons. And that’s why I’ve switched away from Calendar and replaced its icon in the coveted spot of my iPhone’s first homescreen with Agenda.

iPhone Tips: How to Block SMS Text Message Spam

Text-message spam is not only annoying, it can hurt you in the wallet when each message costs you money. With the help of wireless carriers though, there are a few ways for iPhone users to combat SMS text-message spam.

Text Message Spam Comes Mostly From…Email?!

A little-known fact is that every cell-phone number is also an email address (example, And most, but not all, text-message spam comes from email spammers simply guessing your cell phone’s email address and sending email spam (which shows up as a text message). So how do you prevent that from happening? Most major carriers let you block text messages sent from an email address (see the next section).

Harder to block is spam sent from another telephone number. You can combat spam from telephone numbers by forwarding the spam to the carrier (see the How to Stop Spam Sent From Telephone Numbers section below).

How to Turn Off Text-Message Spam From Email Addresses

AT&T Wireless, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint all let customers turn off text-messages sent from email addresses. Below are instructions, in a nut shell, for each.

AT&T Wireless:

1. Go to
2. Register your cell phone.
3. Choose Blocking Options.
4. Select Block all text messages sent to you as email.
5. Save your options.

You can also choose to block all messages sent to your email address, period. Simply choose Block from the drop-down menu.

Official SMS text-message spam instructions for AT&T Wireless can be found here.

Verizon Wireless:

1. Log in (or register) at
2. Under Plan, select Block Calls & Messages.
3. Click on the Internet Spam Blocking tab.
4. Choose Block All Text Messages from Email and Block All Text Messages from the Internet.


1. Create a text message.
2. Type in: block email.
3. Send it to short code 9999.

Official instructions for Sprint can be found here.

How to Stop Spam Sent From Telephone Numbers

More tricky to stop is spam sent from other telephone numbers. All the major carriers in the US (AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint) let you forward the spam to 7726 (short code for SPAM on your phone’s keyboard). By doing this, you won’t have to pay for the spam text message. It also helps carriers block spam coming from those numbers. After you forward the spam, the carrier will text you again asking for the phone number it came from. To find that number on your iPhone, simply tap on the blue and white circle on the right side of the spam text message to view the number it came from.

To forward a text message on the iPhone, tap Edit in the top right corner, select the message by tapping the circle on the lefthand side, then tap Forward. If the spam came from a telephone number, they will ask you to reply with that number (at no cost to you).

Tip: To make it easier to forward spam, create a contact on the iPhone, give it the phone number 7726, and name it Spam. Next time you want to forward spam to your carrier, you won’t have to remember the number, just SPAM!


  • Not all text messages sent via email are bad or spam. For example, Google Maps lets you send a URL link to a set of directions via text message. If you block all text messages from email, you also won’t receive these messages either.
  • Both AT&T and Verizon let you create new “alias” email addresses for your cell phone to help fool spammers. For example, you can create a new email address, like, and have text messages sent to that instead.
  • Text message spam cost consumers over $300 million in fees a year, according to some studies.