There you are in a strange town, like Chicago - or Brno. How do you get around? There's always a taxi, of course. But public transportation is not only cheaper, it often gives you a much better sense of the city and its people. Armed with Métro, you'll always be prepared to get around a new city.
Métro is an amazing accomplishment, a free guide to public transport systems - subway, bus, tram, elevated, suburban systems, ferries, etc, etc--in some 400 cities worldwide. It runs on your PDA (Palm or PocketPC) or your Smartphone and is updated frequently so you can always keep track of station closings and construction annoyances.
The Palm version, which I've been using for years, provides station searches, a station list for each line, hours of operation, places of interest and tourism info, color coding, a contacts list keyed to the proper station for each, and even a choice of routes (fastest or fewest connections).
Last week I bought the new version of iLife ($79) for Mac. It contains iPhoto '09, iMovie '09, GarageBand '09 and iWeb '09. All of these are great pieces of software, but I'm going to focus on iPhoto '09 today.
iPhoto is basically a photo album for Mac users. It stores photos and organizes them for you into albums which you can name according to whatever designation you want. It's a pretty handy program, though as a recent Windows convert I was a bit nervous at first that I couldn't easily find out where exactly on my computer the photos were being stored. Once I gave in and trusted my computer to keep my photos safe, I enjoyed using the program.
But the new version? Wow! I love it. I bought it after learning that it would have a face recognition feature, and it did not disappoint.
Like to catch big air? Then you'll like the new HangTimer app for iPhone, which measures your, um, hang time. As the site says:
HangTimer uses the iPhone's accelerometer and some hairy math to determine the split second you become airborne. The HangTimer works on kickers drops even rollercoaster’s!
As an extra bonus for iPhone 3G users, Hangtimer uses the phone's built in GPS to find your exact position for every jump and plots it using Google Maps. The GPS also enables the HangTimer application to display the user's speed as he or she cruises along and how fast they are going when they take flight. All this information is saved for display on a "sweet graph" that allows them to later check out their entire run and see where they caught the biggest air and fastest speed. In other words, earn bragging rights.
Created for both versions of the iPhone and iPod touch, it also keeps a record of the user's 10 best jumps. Through partnership with Snowcountry (the largest ski resort database in the world),it can also automatically locate your ski resort and download trail maps, lift status and snow reports – all through one application.
$9.99 at the Apple App store.
It's a wired world, but not always as wired as we'd like it to be. There are lots of potential arid zones - the subway, deep in a building, or out there in the wireless countryside. That can be a problem for iPhone users. And it's even more of a problem for fans of the iPod Touch. Without a wireless connection, Touch users are literally out of Touch.
Unless, that is, you partake of a growing number of iPhone and Touch apps that can be used offline. Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb has a useful list of seven apps that are the Apples of her i, including Evernote, the Stanza e-book reader, even RSS readers. And the Comments list several more.
The first partnership for gaming company Aspyr (known in our house for the Sims) and Kaplan, the established test prep expert, is really a no-brainer - adapting test preparation material into a collection of fun interactive games.
futureU consists of six distinctive mini-games, divided into three main categories: math, reading and writing. Designed as a complement to traditional SAT study methods from the Kaplan curriculum, it also includes a section called "Test Skills" that teaches the vital test-taking and time management skills necessary for taking the big exam. Some kids just don't test well, which is where the SATs fall apart in my opinion.
iTalk, you talk, we all talk, but now you can record it all on your iPhone, iPhone 3G, and 2nd generation iPod touch. The new Griffin iTalk app turns your iPhone or iPod touch into a compact recording unit. With the two-part download, users can create high-quality recordings, and then transfer the recordings to a Mac or PC.
Pros: Easy user interface and controls, the ability to pause and resume, simple to drag and drop file transfers wirelessly to your computer. Recordings are saved as high-quality AIFF files, playable in iTunes and most other media players. Cons: None.
Download the free app at iTalkSync. Right now, it only works for Mac OS X 10.4 or later, but Griffin promises a PC version soon.
You're a rabid BlackBerry user and have one - or more! - ideas for making your constant companion even better. Or maybe you've had a supersmart smartphone inspiration.
So where do you go from here? Hop over to the BlackBerry Partners Fund, which supplies venture capital for mobile applications. Its new Jump Start initiative will provide up to $250,000 "to bring new and innovative ideas into the development process faster allowing entrepreneurs to focus on building great smartphone applications instead of raising seed capital."
I've just updated my iPhone 3G with the just-released free upgrade to firmware 2.1 and while the interface looks the same, no cosmetic changes, there have definitely been some improvements in performance. Backing up the phone is much, much quicker, I have two additional bars of reception, and the battery life is supposedly much improved as well. That we'll have to see, but just the reception boost alone is enough to warrant doing the update. A listing of the fixes:
- Improved call reception and fewer dropped calls.
- Better battery life
- Faster and more reliable email fetching
- Improved SMS performance
- Fewer crashes and freezes in 3rd party apps
- Faster installation of 3rd party apps
- Faster backup of iPhone when syncing
Also: Genius, the playlist creator, is included and creates on the fly playlists from music that's on your iPhone. Pick a song, hit Genius, and you'll get a playlist of songs that Genius thinks will sound good together. So far, so good. Works quickly and is fun, especially if you don't have a lot of playlists and resort to using "shuffle" mode most of the time.
I've never had 3G reception in my home, and now I get two solid bars. Yay! Wait, wait, make that three bars! No, two. Uh oh, just one. Well anyway, I've never seen the 3G signal at all before in this location, so the reception is much improved, I think.
No apparent upgrade in the Maps app, but there are still rumors that full function turn-by-turn navigation is possible, either through a future upgrade or through a 3rd party app like Telenav.
If you've had any issues with bugs or slowdowns, run, don't walk to iTunes to the upgrade. Just hook up your iPhone, open iTunes, and hit "check for upgrade." It's a fairly large download, over 200 MB, so it might take a while and make sure you let iTunes do a backup before upgrading so you don't lose any settings or data.
Almost all I've heard and read about since the launch of a certain new, improved iPhone last week is applications - the popularity of the new apps store, the best free apps... it's been, quite frankly, apps up to my ass. But I'm not easily impressed. There's only so long I can be enthralled by Tetris or Scrabble on my phone (and that's quite a long time, but we all get bored eventually).
What I'm really interested in knowing about are honest-to-goodness useful applications that could actually make my life easier (my imaginary life, where I own an iPhone 3G, that is).
And Jott is one of the few apps to actually get me interested.
Oh, why the heck not?
Hello Kitty, entrepreneurial feline that she is, has already slapped her face, stamped her paw, and dipped her tail into every other product in the world. It was really only a matter of time before she went to computer medical school and emerged, stethoscope in tow, with her degree in anti-viral studies.
The anti-virus software is only available in China at the moment, but that doesn't sadden me at all. Hello Kitty is a fictional kitten, for heaven's sake! What's she going to do, apply bow-bedecked bandages to my laptop's boo-boos?
Via Shiny Shiny.