Monday, September 28, 2009

2 Billion App Downloads

Apple announced today that more than two Billion (2,000,000,000) applications have been downloaded from its app store. That is one heck of a big number. There are now over 85,000 applications available on the iTunes store. Apple has more than 50 Million (50,000,000) iPhone and iPod touch customers worldwide. The iPhone is now available in 77 countries with some recent huge market entries just announced!

Another incredible fact about the number of downloads is the speed at which downloads are increasing. Apple's app store had half a billion, that's 500 Million, downloads in the last quarter alone. It will eventually slow but at this point sales are going ballistic.

What surprised me about the big 2 Billion number is the yawing and lack of incredibleness reported about it! I was thinking last week about Apple's great success recently, and more specifically how great the iPhone has been for them. It got me thinking... "what's next?" I wonder this because there are some other very serious players out there making moves and unless Apple has another big hit in the next year or two, they too could end up a thing of the past. RIM learned a hard lesson about being late with the Blackberry Storm and bringing out a device that doesn't compete well with the iPhone. Will Apple get taken down a peg or two by Google or Microsoft?

It's going to be interesting to watch in the next year or two!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Would you Survive?

Would you survive without your iphone? How about if you were stranded on a deserted island? There is a new game on the iTunes store that quizzes you so see how you could survive is stranded. Using this app you can find out if you would be able to rough it out until help arrives to save you, or if you would perish the first day.

Would You Survive? is a free iPhone application that will probably teach you a few tricks about survival, whether you are truly stuck on Gilligan's Island or just in everyday life.

Here is an example of the types of questions you will be asked!

Play this app with your iPhone or iPod touch. Chances are you would be more likely to survive if you had your iPhone with you on a deserted island. Apart from being able to call for help and know your exact position, you could look up the answers to the question that could save your life!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

App Store Resource Center

To help developers with creating apps for their iTunes store, Apple now has an App Store Resource Center. This shows new would-be developers the process and documentation required to launch an application on the iTunes store for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

At first glance this looks like a huge improvement. Even for those who are familiar with Cocoa Touch and the programming, Apple has some long and arduous processes before an application can reach the iTunes store. I guess what I thought it was, and what I hoped it would be, would be an truly easier process. I think the resource center is great but it doesn't really make the process any easier.

For a Kick Butt company with some Kick Butt application on a Kick Butt device... I was somewhat disappointed. I'd give Apple a C+ on this one!

I like this funny flow chart of how Apple decides on apps!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

iPhone Skyscrapers

I really enjoy finding new and interesting iPhone apps. Skyscrapers was just released about a week ago on the iTunes store. It is a puzzle game where the goal is to build skyscrapers.

In this iPhone app you build skyscrapers from the bottom up as the floors slide across the screen. The more successful you are making the buildings taller, the more difficult it becomes as the new floors arrive faster. Once you complete a building it stays in your "cityscape view" that lets you see the city you are building.

It's hard to tell whether this app will be a big success or a total dud. Only time will tell!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

iPhone Mouse & Remote

I'm often surprised at some of the nifty applications that come up for the iPhone and many of the things you can do with it. Usually it involves a utility or game app that can be played on your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Air Mouse Pro is a cool app that transforms your iPhone into a wireless remote for your computer. Using the built in accelerometer in the Apple device, you can move the iPhone like a mouse and use many of the control functions presented on the screen.

Here is a list of some of the features:
- Accelerometer based mouse
- Trackpad (full screen vertical and landscape modes)
- Media keys & Web keys
- Application notifications - Remote keyboard with modifier, function and arrow keys
- Programable hotkeys (can be set to run a program or keyboard combination)
- Scroll pad
- Multitouch gestures (scroll & right click)
- Password protection
- Custom sensitivity settings
- Foreign language keyboards
- Supports Bonjour or static IP
- No screen size limitation. Works with multiple monitors.

This is a great app for just $2.99, especially for people like me who forget to pack their mouse in the computer back. I NEVER forget to take my iPhone though because it... Kicks Butt!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Canadian iTunes store all about Skype!

It looks like a bug with the release of iPhone OS 3.1 because when I search the categories section of the Canadian iTunes store, I get nothing but the Skype icon instead of the categories. If I click on the icons they all go to the same games section.

Since it's been that way since the beginning of the weekend i figure there must be an explanation. Here is my top ten reasons why it's doing this:

10. Skype has bought Apple
9. Steve Jobs just discovered Skype
8. Skype is paying Apple huge advertising $
7. Apple forgot to pay one of their key employees
6. Bin Laden is up to his tricks again
5. it's just me and no-one else knows what I'm talking about
4. Someone watched Linsey Lohen on iTunes and fried the whole system
3. George Bush is doing it - still pushing the conspiracies!
2. Apple kissed Skype and they liked it
1.. Just blame Bill Gates

I like the Skype app, but I want to see all the other categories still too! let's hope they work through the top reasons and find the solution soon so we can get back to reviewing some Kick Butt iphone applications.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Swiss army knife of iPhone Applications

Like most people, I enjoy playing the occasional game on my iPhone or the peace and quiet it gives me while the kids play on it during the drive to school. Often I find a game that I will play almost daily and then either delete the app completely or move it to the last page where it will stay until I need more space. Kind of like piling up dirty laundry I guess.

Sometimes I come across an iPhone app that is something I might not use on a regular basis but I will likely keep for the life of the cell phone - this is usually a utility or tool type of application. AppBox Pro looks like an application that might meet become both of these. This fantastic iphone app lets you choose what you see at start-up. The app includes 18 configurable different apps all in one package. Some of these you might have and some you might not. For 99 cents it's a good deal.

Here's what you get:
> Battery Life
> Clinometer(Inclinometer) - Surface/Bubble Level
> Currency Converter - 195 Currencies
> Date Calculator
> Days Until(Countdown)
> Flashlight(Torch)
> Holidays - 83 Countries
> Loan Calculator
> Periodic Calculator
> Price Grab
> Random Number
> Ruler
> Sale Price
> System Info
> Tip Calculator
> Translator
> Unit Converter - 17 Categories, 357 Units
> Web Apps Links

The battery app-within-an-app is far more advanced that the basic percentage indicator now available on the 3GS.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Apples to Oranges

I can just picture the irony if a company like Microsoft designed a phone & OS and called it all the Orange. We could truly compare Apples to Oranges!

There has been so much talk (arguing) recently about who's better, faster and more equipped... you get the point! The fact is, Apple's iPhone has a tremendous lead at the moment with it's huge number of applications. They are at the height of their growth curve. RIM might have more Blackberry devices on the market than Apple has iPhones, but we all know who the popular girl at school is right now. I love to love my iPhone and praise it whenever I can, but deep down I know there are other options plowing there way to a purchase near you in the not-so-distant future.

The Palm Pre and the Android OS are two that stand out in my mind as leading contenders that will become a rather large thorn in the Butt for Apple. Even though Google's introduction of the Android OS didn't fire on all cylinders as some might have expected, it is different enough from Apple (open source license vs not) that those who feel fed up with the iPhone and application limitations will feel very comfortable with Android.The smartphone industry is interesting indeed. It's the new Coke vs Pepsi, McDonalds vs BurgerKing, or VHS vs Beta (for those who are old enough to know what I'm talking about). Seeing two guys discussing the merits of why they selected the mobile device they did is the only time you will ever hear them argue that "mine is smaller than yours!"

iPhone 3.1 OS - an overview!

Apple has just released the OS 3.1 software update for the iPhone. Here is an overview of the great new features that are free from Apple.

Genius Recommendations for Apps
will recommend apps to you that you might like based on what apps you have already downloaded. Assuming you will continue to download similar apps, this will let you quickly find more of what you already like.

Genius Mixes lets iTunes create music mixes automatically based on what you have in your library. Similar to the Apps, it uses the logic that you will like more of what already like.

Download Ringtones Wirelessly from the iTunes store. There are thousands to choose from.

Organize Apps in iTunes easily and quickly on your computer. You can drag apps onto virtual screens on your computer and then sync with your iPhone. Much easier than doing this manually with the iPhone.

iPhone OS 3.1 also includes these features and updates:
-Improved syncing for music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and photos1
-iTunes U content organization1
-Redeem iTunes Gift Cards, codes, and certificates in the App Store
-Display available iTunes account credits in the App Store and iTunes Store
-Save video from Mail and MMS into Camera Roll
-Option to "Save as new clip" when trimming a video on iPhone 3GS
-Better iPhone 3G Wi-Fi performance when Bluetooth is turned onRemotely lock iPhone with a passcode via MobileMe
-Use Voice Control on iPhone 3GS with Bluetooth headsets
-Paste phone numbers into the keypad
-Option to use Home button to turn on accessibility features on iPhone 3GS
-Warn when visiting fraudulent websites in Safari (anti-phishing)
-Improved Exchange calendar syncing and invitation handling
-Fixes issue that cause some app icons to display incorrectly

Although the software update doesn't include any MAJOR changes or enhancements, what apple has offered is welcome, and let's not forget, it's also free!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Parachute Panic Lite

I must admit sometimes I enjoy a simple and somewhat mindless game that gives me a quick break from reality. Parachute Panic Lite is such a game. It is a free iPhone application available at the iTunes store.

The basic strategy of this fun game is to land a bunch of parachutists onto passing boats. An airplane flies by and drops one or more people who mustn't be very smart. Not the sharpest knives in the drawer. A few sandwiches short of a picnic... I think you get the idea. Not sure why someone would jump from a perfectly good airplane, but in this game they do. Your job is to open their parachute (some open automatically, some don't) and land them on a boat. With a swipe of your finger you can create wind bursts to move the free-fallers as need to make the landing.

There are a few dangers such as helicopters with big blades (ouch), UFO's, sharks and thunder clouds. The graphics are fairly simple but easy to see and the sounds effects are good!

If you enjoy this free Lite version, for just 99 cents you can get the full version. Just don't forget to open the parachute.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

MobileMe update with 3.1 OS

With Apple just releasing 3.1 OS for the iPhone, there are a number of new features we are bound to be talking about in the next couple of days - more info later!

One enhancement to the MobileMe Find my iPhone, is the ability to remotely set a four-digit passcode lock. This would obviously be the first step, before using the feature where you wipe the lost iPhone clean of all stored information.

Skype available on iPhone

We've all heard of the Skype software program allowing us to connect with people using your computer. Now you can download the Skype iPhone Application from Apple's iTunes store for free.

Connected to a WiFi zone, this app let's you make free calls and send instant messages to anyone else on Skype. You can call non-Skype users abroad at low rates. If you have a mobile data connection (Edge or 3G) you can send instant messages only.

Like the desktop software version of Skype, you an see when your contacts are online and available. Since the app is essentially a dumbed down version, there is no video capability. This wouldn't work well anyways as the camera and screen are on opposite sides of the iPhone.

Skype also has a Skype To Go number that you can read more about here.

As well as launching this app for the iPhone/iPod Touch and Windows Mobile phones, there is a Skype Lite version for the Android, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG and Motorola products too.

I think they've done a Kick Butt job of making it easy to keep in touch when on the go!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Flickr for iPhone

Yahoo has finally released Flickr as an iPhone / iPod Touch application. This allows you to share your photos and view your friend's photos from you phone, anywhere you are.

As well as shooting, uploading and sharing photos and videos, the app lets you geo-tag and add them to a set. You and your friends can then view the photos by set or tag.

I had recently written a blog article about MobileMe (iDisk) and it's capability to store photos on the 20GB space provided, but Flickr makes a great alternative to those who do not require, or wish to pay, for the MobileMe membership.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mobile Me - Part 4 (Find my iPhone)

I have several friends who have lost their iPhones, or had then stolen from them. MobileMe has a great feature that allows you to find your iPhone from any computer. It shows the approximate location on a map to easily "remember" if you've left it at the office, the gym or at the kid's school.

There is also the capability to send a message to your phone for the finder to read. Type something like "honey I left my phone in your car, I'll get it from you at lunch." Or maybe "Please call me at ### if you find my phone - reward offered!" You can even play a sound on the iPhone to override the silent setting if you've lost it in the laundry and you can't find it by simply phoning it. I can see this feature being very helpful.

As a last resort, with MobileMe you can also erase all the data you've loaded on your iPhone remotely. If you have important messages, email, contacts or photos that are personal in nature, and you've lost your iPhone, you can wipe these with the option to restore with MobileMe if you find your iPhone later.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

iFitness for iPhone

It is generally accepted that going to the gym, running or any form of exercise if good for your health. Doing the running is easy. Put on some runners and away you go. I learned that when I was three. What I find difficult is going to the gym. I can get all ready, wear all the right work-out clothing, take a water bottle, have some music and... when I get to the gym I look at all the equipment and I don't have a clue where to start.

One answer is to hire a personal trainer, which ultimately (and expensively) is probably the best thing to do. I've been looking at an iPhone application recently which is far more affordable and might be the answer for people like me who don't know where to start. The app has been around for a while but it is constantly being updated on iTunes.

iFitness is a great app for only $2. It has an exercise database loaded with real pictures and videos which give instructions on how to perform a workout. There are also drawings showing the muscles used in certain exercises. The app lets you design a custom workout and track your progress.

There are plenty of workout/exercise applications out there but so far I'm most impressed with this one. It is well rated by it's users and a majority of the reviews are very positive. The fact that is has been quickly updated when a bug has been found is also very impressive. The real pictures of people doing the exercises is much better than the stick drawings I've seen on many others.

This great iPhone app will definitely help you Kick Butt, starting with your own!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mobile Me - Part Three (iDisk)

If you are already a MobileMe user, you can now download iDisk to your iPhone for free. iDisk lets you store, access, and share files online. With 20GB of space in your MobileMe membership, large files are not a problem. You can access iDisk from any web browser, Mac, PC, iPhone or iPod Touch.

There is a public folder included with iDisk allowing you to share files. This is a great way to send pictures and files that would otherwise be too large for email. You simply upload what you want to share, choose the contact(s) to share with, and iDisk sends them an email with a link to download. You can select a password for enhanced security and even set the number of days you wish the download link to be available. Now you don't have an excuse for not sending the parents pictures of their grandkids!

With the latest MobileMe iPhone application, you can now view Microsoft Office and iWork documents, and PDF's anytime you carry your iPhone/iPod with you. This is a great tool for personal use and work. You never know when you might need access to a large file with little notice. Now with MobileMe and your iphone this will never be a problem. You will literally have access at your fingertips!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Geared for iPhone

Do you enjoy puzzles and mind teasers? Maybe you were a Tetris fanatic as a kid? There is a new iPhone application called Geared. This new innovative puzzle lets you place gears in between one moving and one stationary gear, with the goal being to make them all turn. You just need to place the correct sizes in such ways that they all connect. There is an infinite number of choices you can make to reach success.

I found the app frustrating at first because I wasn't very good at it. I'm sure the kids will teach me later. If found after about 5 or 10 minutes I got the hang of what they were after. There are 80 levels offered in this app which range from the absurdly easy to what I'm quite convinced is impossible to achieve, at least for me. There are sounds effects as you play, or you have the option to listen to your own music while you rack your brain trying to figure out the more challenging levels. I'm thinking... ACDC!

This app is more addictive than I thought it would be and now that I've put it down, I can still see gears turning everywhere I look. Maybe this is a sign of a successful app that you can get at iTunes for just 99 cents.

Mobile Me - Part Two (some basics)

In my last blog article I suggested getting Mobile Me from the free 60 day trial offered by Apple. There are a lot of different features with Mobile Me and in this section I will discuss some of the basics: Calendar, Contacts, Gallery and Mail.


The biggest advantage about the calendar feature of Mobile Me is the online ability to sync all of your devices together. You almost need to look at them as if you have one calendar and you view it with your PC, MAC, iPhone or iPod Touch. In reality each device has it's own calendar and they simply sync wirelessly. No messy docking required. Unless you have another calendar system that you are comfortable with, this is worth looking at. My one caution would be for any out of country syncing. The data roaming could become expensive.


Similarly to the calendar feature, Mobile Me lets you keep your contacts all synced together. There were initially a number of bad reviews about email addresses being dropped completely or entered multiple times. This isn't a strong point for the system but rather a convenience if you don't already have something you use. Again, if traveling abroad, a likely time when you would need to enter new contacts, keep in mind the data charges.


This feature of Mobile Me I really like. You can add photos from your computer, or taken with your iPhone, and place them in an online album that you can view privately or share with family and friends. Your invited guests can even contribute to the album. The slideshow feature is very well done. One downside is that you choose to make each album private or public, not each picture. So you may have to do a little juggling of pictures into different albums if you don't want to share them all. From an expensive program, I think this is kind of messy! Another option might be Flickr, which does this very well!


There isn't anything too dramatic about the mail feature of Mobile Me but it does push to your iPhone which is nice. You are allowed 5 email aliases and you get 20GB of storage, which is something your grandkids will enjoy reading to their grandkids. It's plenty. I have difficulty suggesting this over what you can already get elsewhere for free. For instance Gmail gives you 7GB (still plenty) and offers up to 5 external POP accounts, whereas Mobile Me mail is a single external POP. I like being able to read email from my multiple addresses and reply or send from the email address of my choice!

As I said at the beginning, I consider these to be the basics of what Mobile Me offers. There isn't anything here that you can't already get for free. This just comes in a nice little package. If you were new to computers or starting over, I might suggest going this route!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mobile Me - Part One

Mobile Me lets you get synced anywhere you are. It pushes email, contacts and calendar events to all your devices, and it does this over the air. No docking is required to keep your iPhone and Mac or PC in sync as it is done with push technology.

Mobile me also lets you add photos taken from your iPhone to your own web gallery. Again, everything will sync.

Here is a short video tutorial showing some basics.

Stay tuned for some detailed articles where we break down the specifics of what you can do to get the most out of Mobile Me. In the meantime, sign up here for a free 60 day trial.

iPhone Curling

Maybe it's just me but some sports hardly seem to qualify as a sport. Soccer is a sport, hockey is a sport and skiing is a sport too. Curling??? I just don't know. I'm not sure it takes great endurance or peak physical shape to be good at the sport. Basically you have to have good hand-eye coordination, not mind being cold, have lots of patience and be a coffee drinker. Did I miss anything?

For those that enjoy the "sport" there is an iPhone application available at iTunes for $3 called Age of Curling. It uses realtime 3D graphics, which means it looks great. Using your iPhone or iPod touch you can throw, curl and sweep the stone and be the best in the world... of iPhone curling at least! This app lets you play against the computer or another player. It even has some realistic collision sounds when the stones hit.

Thankfully, we are a long way off from iPhone gaming become an Olympic event! But if you enjoy Curling and would like a simple game for the iPhone, this might be good for you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Back to school math App

With the start of school many kids are struggling to remember some of the basics that two months off has let them forget, albeit temporarily. As parents, there isn't too much we can do to improve their performance quickly in any subject... except perhaps math. Math is one area where even some quick practice can help a child recall what they forgot from last year. For years I've used flash-cards for the kids to review addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Good-bye land of the lost, and welcome to the land of having a smart phone! I've been playing with two great iPhone applications that both help kids with math. It takes me all of 8 minutes to drive the kids to school. This is also a perfect amount of time for my daughter to play with my iPhone (which she loves to do) and practice math (which she DOESN"T love to do) at the same time. In fact, she even thinks it's a game! PERFECT!!!!

MathSmart:First Grade is designed as a fun math learning tool for the first grader. It has 60 difficulty levels and adjusts the level according to where the student is. This means that the question MathSmart asks is dependent on how the student performs. This 99 cent app covers counting to 100, counting in 10's, skip counting (2.5,10), finding missing numbers, and comparing numbers to determine if they are <, > or = to each other. It also covers addition, subtraction, and some advanced math. It is compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch.

Another great application for practicing math is Math Drills Lite. This free app covers addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. It lets you practice each one separately or mixed. Included with sound effects and nice colors, this graphic rich app is easy to read. The display let's you review questions or do a timed drill. This app even shows you how to reach the correct answer by way of a bar graph which is easy for kids to understand. Try out this free app and if you like it you can purchase the full version that allows multiple players, has 12 different themes, has the ability to set the number of problems and does Smart Drills (which places emphasis on problems answered incorrectly or slowly).

So the next time you are waiting somewhere or driving a short distance, let your child have some fun and improve their math at the same time. These great iPhone apps are much better than flash cards. Just ask a kid!