Friday, July 31, 2009

Tip Calculators

There have been plenty of tip applications developed for the Android, Blackberry and iPhone/iTouch. About half of these apps are free and most of the rest are just a couple of bucks. I read the introductions to most I could find and downloaded over a dozen of those that I liked best. All the apps has some similarities, such as figuring out what tip to leave, and then the main differences were either appearance or the ability to provide advanced tipping options, such as splitting between any number of guests and excluding the tax from the tip calculation.

The most notable difference with a paid app is that there are no ads being displayed. Personally these don't bother me, but if I really do like the app I almost think of it as an honesty thing to pay for it. Maybe we should look at it as a tip... speaking of which...

After much playing with the different tip applications on my iPhone I did find two that I preferred most, and they are both free! (with options for a better paid version of course). iHandy Tip Calculator, by iHandySoft Inc, is very easy to use. It has a nice simple display where you tap from 1 to 5 people to divide the bill. If you have more than five people paying there is a scroll wheel that goes up to 30. Next you can click between 1 to 5 stars for levels of service which is a simple way to tip from 5% up to 25%. For those that really want to tip a specific amount, such as 18%, there is a another scroll wheel that goes from 0% to 50% tip.

This iPhone app also has options to select a different currency, rounding, tip on tax and sound. There is also a shake option which clears the previous entry. I like the app because it is easy to read, easy to use, and even if you've had a couple glasses of wine, you can still work out the tip and split it any way you need to.

Tip Calculator Pro, by Value Prime, is another easy to use tip application but uses sliders to adjust bill splitting and tip %. I like this display as it shows just the number information required. I really don't need to see a picture of a dinner or dessert while figuring out the bill after I've just finished eating.

Both of these neatly displayed iPhone apps do what you want you want them to do - work out what tip to leave. And they do it for free. That's the best tip yet!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

GolfCard for iPhone

GolfCard is a great iPhone application for anyone that has an iPhone and likes to golf. This app records scores for all players, has a range finder with maps for over 25,000 courses worldwide, and keeps statistics with a calculated handicap.

Range Finder feature (for iPhone 3G and 3GS)
-Up to 10 markers per hole
-4 Satellite viewing modes (Here, Tee, Fairway and Green)
-A table view mode if no satellite images available
-Easily see distance ball was hit
-Use AppSafe to mark the course if not already done
-See distance to any point from current location

After you've played a round of golf, you can upload your scores to OobGolf and email your fantastic scores to jealous friends. You can do all of this with your iPhone before you even step off the 18th Green, then go have a beer!

This iPhone app can also help you book tee times, find courses with google maps, and logs previous games played to update stats. You can even run side games such as best ball. Senygma, the maker of this app, has also launched the GolfCard for the Google Android

A very nice and professionally done application for serious and casual golfers. A great way to enhance your golfing experience with some fancy technology - definitely Kicks Butt!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

iPhone language translator

iDict is a free dictionary and web page translator application for the iPhone and iPod. With the 3GS or 3.0 OS you can now copy and paste text into the translator, or just type in a single word or phrase and the app will give you the translation in the language you select.

Using two scroll wheels, which are common on iPhone applications, you choose the language to start with and the language you wish to translate to. There is a flip button to quickly reverse the two preferences if you are doing many translations between two languages. This iPhone app also keeps a history of translations for quick reference.

Easy to use scroll wheels to translate between popular languages

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Save $$$ on gas!

Does it bug you to fill up your vehicle with gas then see you could have saved a few dollars by going elsewhere? We complain when we see the same price everywhere (essentially price fixing) but we complain even more when one place rips us off more than everywhere else rips us off.

Cheap Gas is a free iPhone application that finds the cheapest gasoline near you. The app has been around for almost a year and it is a bit like a fine wine because it gets better with time - the more people that use it on a regular basis, the more up-to-date the data is.

Using the built-in GPS on your iPhone this app finds the gas stations nearest to you and displays them according to lowest price or distance from your location. It is easy to toggle between either display. If using an iPod Touch, you must enter a postal code. Select the location on your iPhone and you get a map and route displaying how to get there. If you have a local gas station that isn't already listed, you can add the details and it will be there.

This iPhone application works by having the users update the site when they see a good gas price. A quick check of my city and I find numerous locations which are last updated about three hours ago. An extra two minutes of driving and I can save $2.50 on a full tank.

The maker of this iPhone application, David Hinson, also has a few other apps. Maybe I will try out his Mood Ring application for the iPhone. With all the money I hope to save using his Cheap Gas application, I'm likely to be in a good mood!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Password Safe

It is absurd how many passwords we have these days. Email accounts, computers, bank accounts, credit card pin numbers, cell phones, voicemail, facebook, myspace, etc... Sometimes I worry that I will forget an important password just when I really need it. I already get some of them mixed up because they are all different. Apparently it is safer to forget just one at a time than all of them at once.

I found an free iPhone application that is great for holding your passwords. It is very easy to use and once you enter your... um... password, you get access to all the ones you locked away safely. This iPhone application, the Keeper, is described as a password and Data Vault. And it is just that! You can store your codes, secrets, passwords or whatever you like on your iPhone or iPod Touch. There is even a self destruct feature should you use the incorrect code too many times in a row. What a great little iPhone application to help us stay organized in a world that isn't!

Callpod, the maker of this iPhone app, also has a paid advanced version for synching with your PC.

Fake Caller

Have you ever had a long boring conversation where you wished for an interruption, a bad date you wish you could get out of, or an uncomfortable situation where a call on your cell phone would be a welcome surprise? Last April a company called Hot Potato launched an iPhone application that can help you out of these kinds of situations.

Fake Caller is a fantastic application that lets you set a timer or specific time for your iPhone to ring as if receiving a real call from a real person in your contact list, except there is nobody there when you answer. This way you can be as long as you want, and be as creative as you need to be to make up any excuse to get away from whatever, or whoever, you need to get away from.

This iPhone app lets you use fake a call anytime you need it. You could also receive many fake calls on your iPhone to impress somebody with how many friends you have, or impress a date by ignoring all those fake calls to focus on them only. Sales people can impress potential customers with how much business they get. Maybe Apple is calling about a new iPhone program you are creating for them? There are endless possibilities with this application on your iPhone.

Just 99 cents for the premium addition, or free for the basic version, this application is fun, simple and it works!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

News for nerds

When I see what iPhone applications people have downloaded, there always appears to be a theme unique to that individual. My kids like to download game applications (duh) and my wife likes cooking and medical applications. My brother likes applications related to Apple computers and accessories, mortgage tables and Real Estate. A friend's new iPhone 3GS has applications about Social Networking, Audi, Porsche, BMW, Hugo Boss, Rolex and Movado. Can you spot the trends?

Apart from iPhone applications that I've downloaded to write about, the apps that I have for my own entertainment are mostly... well... the news! Yes, I am an iPhone news nerd. I have about a dozen different news applications on my iPhone. A few are actually local iPhone applications written for my neighborhood that allow me to keep in touch with my local community. Of course I also need an application that has the news written in the city newspapers, of which there are three. On a national level I also have two applications that cover events mostly about the country. Almost done... but yes I do have more. I enjoy a worldly news perspective which is why I turn to the BBC News - my top choice, which also happens to be free.

On the fun side I enjoy the Nasa News Reader application for the iPhone, which keeps me up to date with space related news and how that might play into my day. I'm still undecided on whether to spend the 99 cents and get the Soap Opera News!

Attention shoppers!

Have you ever counted how many cards you carry in your purse or wallet? I bet it's many! I carry some membership cards that I might only use a couple of times a year. The iPhone (as well the Android, Blackberry and Pre) have helped us replace carrying books and other tools by keeping sophisticated applications on our mobile device. Now there is an iPhone application that might help slim down the number of reward and club cards you carry.

CardStar is a free iPhone application that is a personal card manager. Using an advanced barcode display system, retailers using handheld scanner guns can retrieve your information from scanning your iPhone. Whether shopping at the pharmacy, renting a movie, getting pet food or going to the gym, you will love be able to access your reward and membership cards from your iPhone.

Mesa Dynamics, the maker of this iPhone application, is also working on making the application for the Google Android and Research in Motion's Blackberry.

Cardstar has over 200 merchants listed already and has grown very quickly since it's introduction in mid May. This is an environmentally friendly iPhone application that will makes life just a bit easier, and that seriously kicks butt!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

iFood for thought

It surprises me how much mobile devices, like the Android, Blackberry, iPhone and Palm Pre have become such a routine part of people's lives. More than that, the applications associated with them have almost become necessities of life. Most surprisingly is the whole social aspect to cell phones. Loading mobile pictures to social networking sites like facebook, myspace and twitter is common practice. The latest use of a great application is Urbanspoon dining.

Urbanspoon is a fantastic new iPhone application that is free. It has been described as a slot machine for choosing a restaurant. For starters, the application uses the GPS built into your iPhone to determine your location. Give your iPhone a gentle shake and the application selects a location relatively close by, a type of food and a price range in three wheels that spin like a slot machine. You can lock any of the three specific preferences and shake the iPhone to make a random selection based on the variables you have locked. For instance you can choose a specific area in your neighbourhood, Italian food and a $$$ price range and it will choose from those.

After the iPhone application shows you a restaurant you can select it and get the phone number and map. It even has a selection for reviews and whether you like it or don't like it. It will show you how many people have voted on that location and what percentage liked it. Check out their website for more info.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Unit Conversion

Units is a great little iPhone application for converting many different types of units of measurement. For example, when you select the Area conversion you can enter a distance in miles and it will show you the equivalent value in nautical miles, yards, feet, inches, kilometers and meters. With this free iPhone application can convert temperature, weight, power, volume, volumetric flow, data storage (kilobytes), lengths, area and much more. It also has a built in ruler showing centimeters and inches down each side of your iPhone device.

The maker of this iPhone application, The Mac Box, is based in the UK. They have over a dozen other applications also, half of which appear to be UK content. This iPhone application allows you to quickly find conversion answers you might be looking for!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dr. iPhone

Did you know that an adult body has 206 bones? I say "adult" because infants have up to 350 bones, and many of them fuse together as they grow. Half the bones are located in our hands and feet. How many bones can you identify? With the help of a new iPhone application, Speed Bones MD, you can now become an expert at naming and locating bones in both skeletal systems - the axial skeleton (trunk of the body) and the appendicular skeleton (limbs).

For just 99 cents, much less than a Medical Degree, Speed Bones is a fantastic game that contains dozens of images and helps you learn as you play. Play this game on your iPhone or iPod Touch and compare your score with friends. The maker of this game has also made Speed Muscles MD and Speed Angiology MD. Having all three is a nice little medical package contained on your iPhone. Check out the Apple app store or Benoit Essiambre's blog for more info.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Air Traffic Control app

Have you got the appetite for this iPhone application?

Air Traffic Controller 4.0
is an exciting app that gets more challenging with each level. There are departures that you must direct to the correct destination, arriving aircraft that you line up with the runway and overflight aircraft that must direct to the correct place on your iPhone screen. You can adjust their routes and speeds, but not the altitudes. While you are busy doing all this you can't let any aircraft get too close to any other aircraft. Your iPhone has never been under greater pressure before!

This iPhone app starts off pretty easy and gets busier as you go. There are even night and bad weather levels too. Try out the free lite version at iTunes first if the thought of controlling the friendly skies makes you queasy. The maker of this game, Lunagames, has done a good job of making an iPhone application that is simple to use but has enough graphics that it looks good too. They specialize in interactive mobile content and have made applications for the Android, Blackberry and iPhone.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Astronomy Application for iPhone

Planets is a free application that shows you what planets are visible, based on your location and time of day. Obviously when it’s light outside most won’t be visible but it does show where the Sun is, which most of us should be able to figure out. At night your iPhone becomes a planet finder. You can quickly find out how long each planet is visible and where to look in the sky to find it. When you click on Earth it shows what part is in darkness and what park is in light. You can also view and manipulate the other terrestrial planets; Mercury, Venus and Mars, and the gas giants; Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Pluto doesn’t make the cut anymore, but just for fun, our little cousin the Moon is also included.

Just click on a planet and there is a wealth of information available such as distance from the Sun, Mass, Orbital Period, Number of Moons, Atmosphere and much more. You can even zoom into any planet on your iPhone or check out the backside of the moon. This great application provides a nice combination of entertainment and information. You can check out a few other projects made by Dana Peters and QContinuum Freeware. Enjoy!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wiki iPhone app

For those with a quest for more information, useful or otherwise, Wikipanion is another free app the gives you access to Wikipedia. It’s like having an encyclopedia in your pocket – but less painful.

Like most free applications there is a bigger brother version, the Wikipanion Plus. A little more expensive that most apps but this full version keeps track of entries that can be stored for easy browsing. There is an update for 3.0 with extra features that is pending Apple approval. Check out Robert Chin for more information on this great iPhone application.

Quest for knowledge

Human beings basically haven’t evolved much in the last 20,000 years but we have learned how to arm ourselves with knowledge at an ever-increasing rate. My iPhone, the 3GS, has 64 times the memory of my first computer, is much faster and in practical terms has an unlimited number of functions and applications. Even if I don’t hold a massive database of information in my cranium I know how to get it, and a mobile device has oodles of information literally at your fingertips.

All The Countries if a free iPhone application that gives you plenty of information on every country: population, area, leader, capital, languages, religions, holidays and a great economic summary are just a few of the many things you can access. The application is easy to use and each country name is displayed with the national flag. A quick tap and you can see your chosen country on the world map. The pro version All The Countries Pro ($0.99) also shows detailed information about geography, government and history. This little app kicks world butt!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Gas mileage and calories!

We seem to have gone away from the days of seeking greater HP from our vehicles, and pursuing faster 0-60 times, in favor of getting the greatest distance per tank of fuel. Whether driving a sports car, hybrid or a typical family van, many people calculate how to achieve the best mileage. Some people use paper, calculators, spreadsheets and newer cars even do this automatically. Now there is an iPhone app that can do this and more!

The Gas Cubby is a nifty little application that tracks gas mileage and vehicle maintenance. It will even remind you when to change your oil, which is a big improvement over that little plastic sticker reminder that most of you have at the top left corner of your windshield. Gas Cubby even allows you to customize other service reminders. The app it optimized for the iPhone and supports International units that can be shown in may different formats: MPG (US, Canada, and UK), L/100km, gal/100mi, km/L, km/g and mi/L. You can even enter multiple vehicles in the same application.

Gas Cubby shows you what mileage you are getting in an easy to read graph

The maker of Gas Cubby, AppCubby, has a few other similar apps that might also be worth checking out. The Trip Cubby is designed specifically to track mileage for tax deductions or reimbursement. It provides an easy-to-use format of tracking business vehicle expenses while on the go. The Health Cubby is a social fitness motivator. It lets you sync with other users and friends to provide a little competition, while keeping personal information, like weight, secret. Like the first application, you get charts to view your progress.

These are the kind of iPhone applications that are easy to use and practical... and definitely Kick Butt!