Monday, August 31, 2009

Green Charging your iPhone

Did you know that the average mobile phone consumes 2.8 KW of electricity per year? Since iPhones and Blackberry's are running so many applications and functions, they are charged more often than the regular old cell phone, typically every 24 to 48 hours. I'm sure the Palm Pre and mobile platforms with the Android OS will be very similar. Unless you live in a city with abundant hydropower, electricity will be one of the main contributing causes of greenhouse gas emissions... and it is expensive!

Do you ever plug in your iPhone, or any battery powered device for that matter, and let it charge all night so it has a full charge when you leave for work in the morning? Doing this is basically overcharging the battery and wasting electricity. At least the new iPhone 3GS has the built in display showing battery percentage, which is much improved over the application designed to do that for the 3G, which doesn't show it.

Impetus Technologies has designed a new iPhone app that might just save you some money on your electricity bill and help the environment along the way. Green Charging alerts the user (with sound effects and vibration) when the iPhone's battery is fully charged. As a bonus, the application also shows battery status, stand-by time and talk-time, in percent. The 99 cents it costs to buy this app will definitely pay for itself many times over the life of the phone.

This might sound too basic but another tip is to turn your mobile device off occasionally. I have a friend who had his phone for over a month and kept it on the whole time. He charged it at night while the phone was still on. When the iPhone's battery finally died one day, he couldn't remember how to turn it back on after he had it on the charger.

Crazy Choppers for iPhone

Here is an insanely fun and addictive 3D game for your iPhone or iPod touch. Crazy Choppers lets you shoot at enemy vehicles, tanks and aircraft simply by tapping the touchscreen of your mobile phone. Tilt your iPhone to control the direction and movements of the chopper.

This great iPhone application has 20 different levels of play and 5 unique environments. Whether you choose the desert or the North Pole, you are guaranteed to have fun with this little app. Sit back, relax and enjoy some crazy chopper flying with your iPhone in the comfort of your lazy-boy in the living room.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

TomTom for iPhone

In a new city and don't know where the nearest Starbucks is? With the search function in the iPhone's map it is easy to find where to go, how far away it is and how long it will take to get there whether you walk or drive. The biggest drawback has been trying view the map on the iPhone while driving. Well now there is a great application to solve that. The TomTom application is now available at the iTunes store. Downloaded to an iPhone 3G (with 3.0 OS) or 3GS, this is a turn-by-turn navigation system that gives you visual and voice commands while you concentrate on driving.
The TomTom app uses something called IQ Routes which give you the smartest route for a particular time of day. Sometimes the shortest route is not always the fastest or most efficient. Using the Tap and go feature you can search the points from A to B and view different routes available. Like most modern apps, by turning the iPhone sideways you get a landscape view of the route.

This great app has a few other nifty features such as:
-map route to an entry in your iPhone contact list
-finding a restaurant, with contact info to make reservation
-ability to select alternate routes due to traffic changes
-day and night mode
-option to change voice
-save and clear routes

The TomTom contains maps of the US and Canada, and displays distances in either Miles or Kilometers. At $100 it is one of the more expensive iPhone apps, but compared to purchasing a comparable GPS system, the price is right. For getting through traffic and finding your way around an unfamiliar city, this app definitely Kicks Butt!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Let's Golf - for iPhone

I've never been a very good golfer, but I enjoy the sport immensely. If I'm not embarrassing myself, I'm sure to be frustrating my friends who push the limits of their patience waiting for me to finish a hole. I believe in using every tool available to help my game, which is why I did a blog article a month ago about a great iPhone application that might help my golf game.

If you've read any of my previous blogs, which I'm sure you all have, you already know that I enjoy combining useful iPhone apps with outdoor activities. Nature and technology coming together to make the most of an experience! I also enjoy a few well made games that simulate an activity, which brings me to Let's Golf. This is a fun iPhone app that is available at the iTunes store for only $2. Somewhat more affordable that a round of golf at a real course.

This app is designed in 3D which gives you a fantastic view of the ball as you drive it 194 yards towards the green. There are four courses of play and you get to choose between four different players, each with unique abilities. There is also a multiplayer mode available when your iPhone is connected to a WiFi network.

The maker of this cool app, Gameloft, has other mobile games available on smartphones and mobile devices. Check out what they have for the Blackberry, iPhone, iPod touch, Windows Mobile and the Android operating system. Now I need to go practice as my kids are already better than me at playing this great app.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

iPhone to the test!

I would never intentionally damage my iPhone, especially considering the expense of replacing it if I did. I had an opportunity to take it with me on an extreme trail biking adventure and it did very well thank you! Since I was the passenger on the drive to the mountain (beautiful Silver Star in Vernon, British Columbia) I played with a few of the navigation applications relevant to hiking and sports. For starters I wanted to know what the elevations were at the top and bottom of the run. Since we wouldn't be taking the great-circle-route down the hillside, I was curious what distance we covered and what our average and top speeds were.

I had no prior experience hurling myself down a hillside littered with jumps, bumps, creeks, logs and extra features designed specifically to cause me what the waiver form described as "gross bodily harm, dismemberment and certain death!" They also mentioned damage to personal property, which I think means my iPhone 3GS would likely be shattered into a billion pieces. Hmm, more pieces than applications... that is an Apple first!

It took about half an hour to put on all the protective gear which included full face helmet, knee and leg pads, and elbow and arm pads. I passed on the chest protector but wished they'd offered some form of under-the-belt protection. My handy-dandy goes anywhere-I-go iPhone accompanied me in it's rubber case that it lives anyways as I'm a complete klutz. When I saw the 5 foot drop off the ramp that starts the course, I completely forgot to check elevations, set my GPS track or utilize any of the other half dozen apps I had planned to use. I wish I had worn my heart rate monitor, and could find an app that uses bluetooth to keep a record my heart rate, as I'm sure my iPhone would have been buzzing with activity. One feature that does work well is playing music with a good set of earphones and having the ability to answer the cell phone while mid-air off a jump that seems to land you deep in the forest.

As much as I like to think that we can take our mobile devices everywhere with us and do just about anything with them, the reality is that some activities are best done the old fashioned way. And yes, my iPhone survived many jumps and a few crashes without a hiccup or mark. I on the other hand, had many scratches, scrapes, bruises, and a sprained thumb and wrist. By the way, the fastest speed I achieved was at the end of the day when I noticed a bear about 20 feet away!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Make great drinks with iPhone app!

Have you ever noticed the most popular person at a good party is the one who knows how to make all the fancy drinks, what to call them, and uses all the cool words like Dash and Aperitif? Well now you can be that cool person, iPhone in hand and people by your side.

Here is a great iPhone application for people who like fancy drinks but, like me, have no idea how to make them or what they are called. Mixology is described as the "ultimate drink recipe and bartending guide," and I believe it! The great app lets you search all drinks or search by category. You can even browse by ingredient if you have a bottle of something neat looking but have no idea what to add to it. There is a section to save your favorites which I imagine could become quite extensive after a while. This excellent app even helps you find the closest liquor store using the GPS feature of your iPhone. I did some testing of this feature on my 3GS and it worked extremely well - too well in fact!

Another cool feature of this great app is the Liquor Cabinet, where you keep an inventory of what you've got hidden under the bed... I mean in the liquor cabinet. There is also a random drink selector which looks similar to the Urbanspoon concept. Lastly, the app has a bartending guide that covers everything from appropriate glassware to bartending tips & tricks. It even gives you the proper terminology to use so you will sound like you know what you're doing.

The free app has small ads, but iTunes sells the full version without ads for just 99 cents. This fantastic app is another great tool available to you wherever you go. You just need to carry your iPhone with you, and why wouldn't you?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Flight & Hotel Search for iPhone

Kayak for the iPhone and iPod touch, connects to the best travel search engine in the world. This app lets you quickly find the best prices on airfares and hotels with your mobile device. You have the option of booking online or, using the iPhone, calling the airline or hotel directly if you need to reach a representative directly.

As you would find with the Kayak website, you can search many airline's websites at once, then choose the once that fits your price and time choice. Then it's a matter of easily booking the hotel.

Unlike some other travel applications available at the iTunes store, this iphone app is free! In a world of doing things on the fly, great apps like this make our busy and complicated lives a little easier.

Nil Points

Have you ever wanted to be a tennis star? Or, are you too lazy to get your butt off the couch, so much so that you your couch has what an author friend of mine calls an "ass groove"? Well now you can combine both of these things with an iPhone application called Real Tennis 2009.

This excellent app lets you play against the best tennis players using your iPhone or iPod touch. Using the accelerometer, tilt and gravity functions of your Apple device, you intuitively serve the ball to your opponent. Use the multiplayer mode to test your skill against friends. There are 7 stadiums of play, on three different surfaces.

I found it took a few rounds of play on my iPhone to get the hang of serving and hitting, but it quickly became a very easy and addictive game. The graphics and sounds of this app further enhance the whole experience. Now I just need to learn the scoring system of tennis. When you start at zero, why do they call it Love?
"oh dear Love, you have nil points!"

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Attack of the Android

Apple is a large successful company - you've probably heard of it! I think it's safe to say that for the last year or more, Apple's iPhone has kicked the rest of the mobile phone market squarely in the gut, sending them searching for barf bags as customers abandon older, less useful systems. Before Apple, Research in Motion's Blackberry seemed to have a lead on the smartphone industry, and they still carry an enormous amount of the market. So who is going to be next, or will Apple's iPhone dominate for the foreseeable future?

My best guess is that there is one player out there who will give RIM and Apple a run for their collective money. GOOGLE! Quite uniquely, Google will compete with the Blackberry and iPhone, and to a lesser extent Palm, Nokia, Samsung and Sony products, by offering not a mobile phone, but an advanced mobile Operating System. The OS in question is called Android!

Android is Google's reply to Apple's introduction of the iPhone, but done in a very different way. While Apple controls the design of the hardware (iPhone) and it's applications , Google has an open source license for it's Android OS. This means that mobile device makers have free range to make a device with whatever range of features they choose to make. Also, the OS allows third party applications, leaving developers more creativity. The open source infrastructure allows users to easily use customizable online services. They can even change their home-screen setup.

Google has included some great applications for starters on it's Android OS, such as Google maps with panoramic street views, photo, video, music, and viewing capability of PDFs, and Microsoft's word and excel files. The homepage has a google search field, accessible from any app being used. Some clever iPhone apps have this feature also.

It might take a while for mobile device makers and developers to get close to catching up with the iPhone and Blackberry, but you can expect Google, with their money, experience and existing network, to place Android as a major player sooner than later. It looks like the Android OS is going to kick some serious butt!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

iPhone app for the great outdoors

I love the outdoors but I'm not much of a hiker. One of my biggest fears, apart from coming across a bear, would be getting lost. With an application called GPS Kit, I could now venture out into nature with little fear of losing my way. This iPhone app has full-featured maps with caching, real-time GPS readouts, and track & waypoint recording and sharing capabilities. You can view your track, heading and waypoints on street, topographical and satellite maps. This app also allows you to measure the distances easily with your finger on the iPhone.

I've played with a huge number of GPS applications designed mostly for the iPhone, and this is by far the best app I have seen for a true outdoors person. On your iPhone you can personalize the app dashboard to see the data of your choice and in what units you want to see it. You can view your moving time, stopped time and average speed. The app also has an advanced compass that works if you have the iPhone 3GS.

Now if someone could just make an iPhone application that was an electronic bear repellant, I'd be all set to go!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Expensive apps

There is no lack of free or cheap applications available for today's smart phones, the Android, Blackberry and iPhone. In fact, many of the apps that I've blogged about have been free or just 99 cents. What did surprise me is how expensive some of the apps can be.

The iTunes store has plenty of medical applications that run between $20 to $100. There are also some expensive apps for financial planning, mortgage calculations, banking, and programs a broker could use.

The most expensive iPhone app available at iTunes right now is called iRA Pro, which sells for $899.99. It's a mobile video surveillance command centre for your iPhone or iPod touch.

The second most expensive app, $449.99, is a financial management software program called MyAccounts ToGo. Next is an automotive repair software app for just $349.99 called PDR Quote.

At one time Apple's iTunes store carried an app called I Am Rich, which didn't do anything, except charge $999.99 for the little icon. This allowed rich (or stupid) people to show their friends they could blow a grand for an iPhone app that did nothing. Funny enough, the most expensive Google Android application ever is very similar, but for the bargain price of $200. You get a blue glowing diamond shaped image. I won't be buying it so I can't tell you much more about I Am Richer for the Android.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Top Paid iPhone Apps

I just did an article about the top free iPhone apps available at the iTunes store for your iPhone or iPod touch. Now for you big spenders, here is a quick preview of the top paid iPhone apps. Again, this is what you get as the top apps from Apple's iTunes store, not my choices!

#1 is Civilization Revolution, where you are a leader from the dawn of man to the modern age! This top app lets you wage war against history's greatest leaders, inspire your nation and build the world's most powerful empire! You start by choosing from 16 civilizations throughout history and lead them to victory... all on your iPhone or iPod touch. For $9.99, this latest offering in the legendary award winning Sid Meier's Civilization series of strategy games is sure to please!

#2 is Moto X Mayhem, and the title describes it well. You drive a motorbike through 7 challenging levels. When I say "drive" I actually mean you climb near vertical hills and then basically drive off a cliff and hope you land on a downslope. This app lets you control the brakes and gas, and lean the biker forward and back to negotiate some wild terrain. I especially like the graphics and noises when the biker crashes. This best app kicks butt and is a bargain for just 99 cents.

#3 is Cartoon Wars also for 99 cents. Although fighting and war games really aren't my genre, this app is highly rated by those that buy it. The graphics appear quite good and there are plenty of different variables to entertain even a serious gamer. This top app is compatible with both iPhone and iPod touch.

It will be interesting to watch these current top apps from the iTunes store and see how they compare to new hot apps and the long running most popular apps. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Top free iPhone apps

A quick search of Apple's iTunes store for the top free apps and I am presented a list applications, most of which I've never heard of. iTunes isn't showing me a list of the all-time most highly downloaded apps, but what's hot right now. That is why this list of top apps is always changing!

Here is a quick description of Apple's top three iPhone apps on iTunes (say that quickly 3 times).

#1 is 20Q Mind Reader. Apparently it can probe deep into your mind and challenge your skills to see if you can outsmart the system in 20Q! This best app claims to be able to read your mind. Digital Chocolate, the maker of this top iPhone app, has over 20 different applications available at the iTunes store.

#2 is Doodle Buddy, which I consider to be the best of the three. I guess they forgot to ask me what the world's best app is. The 2nd top app lets you finger paint with your iPhone. This fantastic app lets you draw on pictures you've taken, such as drawing on a friend's face. You also have the option of drawing with said friend (who also has an iPhone), drop in small preloaded pictures, and just shake the iPhone to clear the work you've done. I like the sound effects that accompany the work in progress.

#3 is Stand O' Food. Basically, you just make hamburgers! I don't get it! If I eat a greasy fast food burger I feel sick. The last thing I want to do is cook bacon and slap together burgers as fast as I can on my iPhone before the patrons leave in a huff! But apparently this is the #3 free top app right now.

I think G5 Entertainment has better iPhone and PC games. It's not their fault that customers are stupid!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

i Jiggles

I am usually most interested in iPhone applications that can be used as a reference or tool. Sometimes I even like a game if it is well thought out and displayed nicely. What I didn't expect was an app that made me laugh. iJiggles did just that!

What this app does is jiggle or smear a picture. You can put halos around the eyes and make them wobble around on your iPhone. Or give somebody droopy ears or a nose like Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Pink Panther). Some people (men) might even imagine putting two halos on a picture of a woman's chest area and then move their iPhone around and watch them jiggle! Did I mention you can adjust the size of the Jiggly bits too? You can also alter the shape of a building, car, house, anything you choose to take a picture of.

Above is an example of what you can do with a tall structure. I looked at some other examples of what can be done but decided against using those as I want to keep this blog child friendly. Select a picture from the library on your iPhone or take a new picture and you can adjust three variables: springy, size and inflate.

OK, it's a silly app and maybe a waste of your otherwise productive time. But it's a huge amount of fun and worth a few chuckles for just 99 cents! So go ahead and iJiggle some people.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Google Earth for iPhone

Google has dominated much of the web and PC world for years, and more recently, introduced their own smart phone (the Android). As well as making applications for this incredible mobile device, Google has developed some of the best iPhone apps available.

I've used Google Earth on my Mac since introduced, but I just downloaded it to my iPhone and it's awesome. When I opened the application it found my location with the GPS feature. By my best calculation, it missed my location by 12 feet. I was surprised how clearly I could see after zooming in quite close.

A few cool features are the search option, the Panoramio layer and geo-located photos. There is a history for a quick find of previous searches which can also be erased. You can even view geo-located Wikipedia articles. The BEST feature on this Google iPhone app (sounds odd putting those together) is the Tilt option. Just tilt your iPhone to adjust your view to see mountainous terrain. This app takes full advantage of the GPS, gravity meter and 3 accelerometers built into the iPhone to give you a fantastic view of the high-resolution imagery Google has in the desktop version.

Google Earth works on the iPhone (2.0 or later) and the iPod touch and is a free application that Kicks Butt!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


One of the recent iPhone applications that I have downloaded is WunderRadio. It plays thousands of streaming internet radio stations and other audio streams. Here are some of the things you can listen to with this app on your cell phone.

-local radio stations based on your GPS location
-select any station by city location
-choose music, sports, news, traffic, talk shows
-weather radio (underground weather)
-current affairs and international news
-fire, police and ambulance scanners
-live air traffic control frequencies
-railroad information

You can build a list of favorite stations and shows on your iPhone and even play back a missed broadcast. WunderRadio is available on the Blackberry, iPhone, iPod Touch, Windows Mobile (6.0 and newer), and soon on the Google Android. It can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

At $6.99, it might sound a little pricy for an app, but considering that it turns your mobile device into an almost unlimited broadcasting station, it's a kick butt bargain!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Flight Control - Peer to Peer Game

One of the improvements with the iPhone 3.0 OS I wrote about in mid June was the ability to run peer-to-peer games. These next generation games and applications allow multiple iPhone users to connect wirelessly. Usually all that is required is to turn on Bluetooth (Settings = General = Bluetooth = On) and you are all set to go.

One of the more popular games found at the iTunes store is Flight Control. It might not be the most realistic game but it gives you the opportunity to play Air Traffic Controller on your iPhone and iPod touch. If you have a 3GS, 3G with 3.0 downloaded, or a 2nd generation iPod touch, you can take advantage of the built-in multi-player mode of this exciting app.

With 3 different airfields and 9 aircraft types, you can see what it's like to work the most stressful job in the world. Play with a friend and you can pass aircraft back and forth to each other. Keep as many aircraft as you can if you like the pressure of pushing tin, or if you get too busy just hand off a bunch of aircraft to the other guy and see if he sinks or swims. Either way it's a fun app with plenty of options that you can now play with a friend who also has an iPhone or iPod touch.

Firemint has done extremely well with this 99 cent app and I'm sure they will have great successes with their other iPhone apps and PC games too.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Facebook for iPhone

An iPhone application I find myself using more and more these days is Facebook. I'm not a social networking addict, but I do like to check up on friends and see what they are doing throughout the day. By selecting the Facebook icon on my iPhone, it quickly brings up the page and I see the latest notifications, messages and and news feeds. Because it's on my own cell phone, I don't worry about logging off, like I do on a work PC.

Social networking websites have become a way of life. A norm if I may. Facebook, Myspace, Classmates, Bebo, Twitter... they have all become a forum through which we communicate. As an example, I got stuck in an elevator the other day (only for a few minutes) and afterwards people asked what I did. Oddly enough the first thing I did was update my Facebook status explaining that I was stuck in an elevator at floor 3 1/2. You see I had my iPhone out anyway checking the weather forecast for the weekend and so... it just seemed like the prudent thing to do!

Using this iPhone app I quickly find out what I want and end up spending less time on the actual Facebook site. I'm not sure this is how they would want the app being used but it works for me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Kick the "Butt" with this iPhone app

I'm not a smoker but I found an iPhone app that might just help some people quit smoking. It's free so there is nothing to lose, and much to be gained. For starters, if most smokers quit, they would save enough money to pay for all their iPhone expenses and download a huge number of quality paid apps from the iTunes store. Not to mention a healthier and longer life!

GottaKickit (GKI) helps people transition to a new life as a non-smoker. Following the program of controlled smoking, your cigarette cravings will gradually dissipate until you walk away from them as a non-smoker, or ex-smoker as most never-smoker types like to call it. The iphone app does have some flexibility in case you can't get a break at an exact moment, but to truly reap the benefits of the program they suggest sticking as closely as possible to the plan.

The app looks simple enough to set-up and follow. They give you an estimate of a day they call "2C" which is when you reach 2 cigarettes a day. A milestone as you are so close then to giving up completely.

You can review your smoking habits and see the progress you have make.
This iPhone app literally does KICK BUTT!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Word Scramble for iPhone

I've always enjoyed playing with words and playing with the letters in words. There are plenty of good online games but I've found a word app that is good on the iPhone. Word Scramble gives you a bunch of mixed up letters in a chart and you try to make as many words as possible in a given amount of time. You simply touch the letters on the screen and make words from letters that are contiguous to each other - that is they touch.

You can play the app game as a solo player, against another player using the same device (taking turns) or online against unknown people. You can even invite friends to play. The game even keeps track of you best score. It's similar to Scrabble, Wurdle, Textwist, WordFu and Word Twist, but all done up nicely in an app that plays on your iPhone or iPod Touch.

The app is made by Zynga which has plenty of games and applications.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Movie iPhone app

OK, this app for the iPhone has been around for about a year but I only just downloaded and gave it a try this weekend. I must admit I didn't think I'd be very impressed with the app, but Flixster turned out to be awesome! I was expecting something corny, like some sort of iFart, iBurp, i-don't know... that sort of crap! I am impressed though.

First off, I don't go to many movies so for me to go online and somehow find the previews, then find a site with the theaters and times... well it would take me a while. This app made it to easy though. First I checked a few previews on my iPhone, then checked out where and where it was playing. It was quick! Using the iPhone's GPS it gave me a list of locations close by, and by selecting the address I can view it on the map feature.

The Flixster maker, has also made the app for the new Android. Now If they could just make an app made popcorn too, I'd be completely set for the evening!