Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

Continuing on from Part 1 of the iOS Replacement Apps blog, here are some of the next apps which could replace the stock apps on your iPhone to make your life easier and maybe even a little more fun!

 

Apple: Safari

Non Apple: Opera – Free

Now, let me first say, there is not a lot wrong with Apple’s offering, Safari is a great browser but sometimes we get bored and just want those added features. Opera includes all the standards, tabbed browsing, bookmarking and of course the “find in page” option, but also has some added features like share options to easily share with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Google + and of course email.

One of the best features is the in-built data usage tracker, which can show you how long you have spent off of WiFi which could become particularly helpful while on holiday on those expensive roaming charges.

This app is a step up from Apple’s offering, but you may also want to take a look at the competition in the form of Google Chrome which is also a great alternative.

 

Apple: Camera

Non Apple: Camera+ – 69p

Camera + is an immense app which will change the way you take photos with the iPhone. Not only can you take photos with it, but also edit them after. While taking a photo, you can edit the exposure and focus in real-time. You also have a variation of shooting modes (Burst, stabilised and even timer) and the unique ability to have the iPhone’s light on continuously to take a picture so that you can see what you are doing in low light conditions.

Editing shots are easy, but you can also import into Lightbox for even more possibilities with the choice of automatic sync available. From the app, you can transform your pictures with almost professional tools, allowing many possible Effects, brushing and layering at your fingertips. The app also allows you to share with the likes of Facebook and Twitter direct from the app after editing and is now available on the iPad.

 

Apple: iBooks

Non Apple: Kindle – Free

iBooks I think has a nice feel to the app, but some of you may not like the life-like design that Apple opt for. The only problem I see with this app, is those of you who like to purchase books and build up a huge collection are going to be stuck with Apple’s collection and of course staying with iOS from now on. Kindle changes that, you can buy books through the Kindle store which offers over 1.5million titles including books, magazines, newspapers and PDF’s.

The attraction for me is that you can pick the book up from the very page you left on in any device across iOS, Kindle devices, PC/Mac and Android meaning you are not stuck with iOS for the rest of your life. Some of the newspapers available are the The Spectator, The Daily Mail and The Guardian and the best features include dictionary look-up, search inside the book and the ability to change font, size and margins.

A great all-rounder which is free and solves a lot of issues.

 

Apple: Music

Non Apple: Groove 2 – £1.49

Once again the stock music app from Apple does the job, but it does have some short comings. Along with being a little bit boring and no major changes in the app being done in the last few years, one of the things that really gets to me is the creation of playlists. Going through my huge music collection to add songs to my newest playlist, I would like to be able to briefly hear the song I am about to choose (just like you can in the iTunes store before purchasing) but Apple have missed this.

Groove 2 is a great app which studies your listening habits and creates a wide variety of instant mixes like your own personal DJ. They claim that you will never have to create playlists again.

Winning quite a few awards, this app has some cool features. When you are in the car, you can use smart gestures to control volume, playback and get new mixes while keeping your eyes firmly on the road. It can also create playlists for you with a touch of a button which before BBQs and parties can be a valuable tool to save time.

You will not regret upgrading to Groove 2, if you are serious about your music, this is the app for you.

Apple Apps

 

 

 

 

The big question on everyone’s lips at the moment with Apple is “What next?” for the giant whose share price has fallen from grace in the last few months. The company issued a record $17bn of bonds yesterday to raise money for future ventures even though it has a mammoth cash pile that the likes of Cyprus would be jealous of. The problem is the money can’t be moved back to the US due to the serious amount of tax that they will incur in doing so, as most is held overseas.

At first glance it looks worrying, but I really don’t think they have anything to worry about. After the high-profile bodge-job they made with the new maps and the subsequent firings at the company to repair the damage, the company is left with trying to fix the issue and coming out with new ideas and products to sustain their reign at the top.

Apple have begun creeping into the car market, with signings like Ferrari and Bentley using the personal assistant Siri to aid driving assistance. According to multiple sources close to the project, Apple plan to move aggressively into the in-car integration space within 2013. As more and more companies offer accessories for the car, Apple have moved away from creating accessories trying to cash into their products doing it natively, slowly removing market share from everyone else. The company has always been concerned with 2nd rate accessories being used with their products they have concentrated so much to perfect.

Apple is apparently working with car makers to update car centre consoles to work with iOS devices. The iPhone could be plugged into a car using a redesigned version of Apple Maps which would appear on the car’s built-in display in a mirror format. The benefit with this is that user will always have access to updated maps controlled by Apple and the millions of developers who could create apps for it using API’s and external info. Currently, the best offerings are from companies like Dension, which are good, but still a little limited due to the car manufacturers not properly teaming up with them. The big problem with the stock systems that come from the car manufacturers is the fact they are poorly updated and limited. Our state of the art cars, too frequently have not caught up with the advancements in tech, so mostly disappoint when you use the control system.

Apple announced at WWDC that it is working with car makers on the Eyes-Free Siri system, including BMW, Toyota, Audio, Honda, and Land Rover. It is likely that Apple is talking to the car makers to take advantage of the new Maps which they will hopefully release in June along with Siri’s car-integrated offerings.

One of the most interesting moves at Apple is the fact that the meticulous product visionary Jonathan Ive is now heading up software. He has already promised to make a complete overhaul of the look and design of iOS which some would say is overdue. The company is rumoured to be trying to finish iOS7 for June’s preview at WWDC, but no release date has been set as yet.

Apple seems to have always had an interest in the car market, with Eddie Cue now sitting on the Ferrari board of directors and Steve Jobs reportedly wanted to take on Detroit with a car design of his own….imagine that, the iCar!

This will be a very interesting sector for Apple to get into as there is so much scope for improvement and not forgetting the famous Apple-esque refinement that some of the luxury brands are missing.

BMW

 

Sony has just unveiled a compact camera that is jam-packed full of features, tightly fitted in its light and small body. The features include a 20.4-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor and a whopping 30x optical zoom. The camera weighs 9.6-ounces, and measures 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.2-inches.

The HX50V with its old-school design is far from old with its rich list of tech. The HX50V has built-in Wi-Fi which when used through the Sony PlayMemories mobile app can work as a remote control and aid wireless transfer of images.

The camera does not forget its roots, still keeping the multi-interface shoe which allows you to add an external mic or flash to take your photography to the next level, but also includes an in-built flash. It keeps the multi-functional dial found on the more professional DSLR which just feels good and allows for connection of a remote shutter controller for those who do not want to use the available app to control it.

Along with all the hardware, Sony have ensured that the camera has the optical SteadyShot system which can only be a good thing when taking pictures on such a good camera. It also records Full High Definition video smoothly and has the normal image filters which we now find on most photographic devices. The unit has a decent maximum ISO sensitivity of 3200.

Altogether, this is a well-rounded camera and keeps Sony up there with the titans. It almost feels like it is a super camera disguised as an older Clark Kent to fool everyone.

It’s out in May this year, but Sony have not unveiled UK prices as yet. Our stateside cousins will be shelling out a cool $450.

Sony HX50V

Sony HX50V

 

Not all of us can afford to drive the kind of cars that have tech built into the dash, but now Parrot want everyone to be able to have access to it.

Bring on the Asteroid Smart, this Android powered, double-din, clever little unit will provide most cars with the ability to be connected and of course give you the kind of tech normally found in luxury motors.

The unit comes with Wi-Fi in-built, 4 x USB slots, Bluetooth, 6.7” capacitive touchscreen display, SD slot and is camera ready. You can download apps from the Asteroid Marketplace to allow you to have internet radio, music on demand and even driver assistance, so all units are customisable to the owner.

The Asteroid Smart can connect via Wi-Fi, USB 3/4g dongle or even connected via compatible smartphone to pull the data it needs to keep you informed. This can be used to access weather reports, emails, internet pages etc. It is also packing a GPS sensor which when combined with the choice of navigational apps will keep you on the right path.

Music can be played from a connected USB or SD card and has the ability to play directly from your iPod/iPhone via cable or using A2DP over Bluetooth direct from your iPhone. The most exciting part is the ability to download the likes of Spotify to potentially give you a huge database to choose from.

This unit is an outstanding piece of kit for any car and will catapult your vehicle into the 21st century, but one issue that we have to mention, is that although the unit has a partial detachable faceplate, will this deter thieves from breaking into your car as they see the beautiful screen proudly displayed?

This point aside, at about £475 this device is not cheap, but we believe you get what you pay for and Parrot have certainly given us everything!

Asteroid Smart

Think how much you’d lose if your Mac was stolen? Photos, work, contacts, memories – the list is endless.” is the statement made by the creators of Hidden, a seriously cool Mac protection app.

We all hate the idea of our MacBooks being stolen, shelling out lots of cash for the portal to our digital lives, just for some idiot to take it away from us.

Hidden is a clever little app that does exactly that, stays hidden in the background, updates itself and sits ready for when it is activated. Once turned on, access can be gained from the web and you can now track your MacBook and see exactly what the thief is doing with your system.

The app will also take pictures of the thief and upload them to your account, so not only can you give the authorities the location of your device, but now also the identity of the person.

Hidden starts at $15 per year for 1 device and includes theft recovery assistance, automatic updates and instant tracking. After the recent well publicised recovery of some MacBooks with this type of app (one even turning up in Iran) we think this is a small price to pay.

hidden