Mar 22

Air Display Getting a Retina UpdateOf all the apps on my iPad 2, the one I was probably most looking forward to trying on the new iPad was Air Display.  This iOS utility from Avatron allows you to use the iPad (or iPhone, iPod touch if you’ve got a magnifying glass handy) as a second display for your Windows PC or Mac. On the iPad 2, that was all well and good – I’d use it for a PDF viewer or for iTunes to cut down on my primary monitor’s clutter – but with the iPad 3’s 2048×1536 resolution… the app’s utility seemed like it would, well, quadruple. 

But last Friday, iPad launch day, there was no Air Display update.  There wasn’t one Monday or Tuesday.  Yesterday I found out why.

According to a post on the company’s blog, they got to work immediately on a Retina-friendly version of Air Display when the iPad 3 was announced, but after testing the update on an actual 3rd Gen iPad last week, the results were disappointing.  They continued their work and now an update is currently under Apple review and should be available in the coming days.

You can still use the current version of Air Display on the new iPad, you’ll just get a lower resolution that’s not particularly pretty.  Still, if using your iPad as a second display sounds good to you, give it a try (you can read my initial review of Air Display here, which I will update once the new version goes live).  Avatron promises improved performance on older iPads with the upcoming update, too.

M. Nichols, Products Editor

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Sep 10

The Colorado MountainsOn a recent trip to Colorado, there were times I wanted to know exactly how high I was (how high as in feet above sea level, of course), and I knew this information was available on any device with a GPS receiver – like my iPhone 4.  But try as I might, I couldn’t find altitude data in any of the iPhone’s built-in apps.

So, while taking in a particularly breathtaking vista in central Colorado on U.S. 24, I visited the App Store and downloaded myAltitude, the first free altitude iOS title I came across.  And it was well worth the time it took to download with an EDGE data connection.

myAltitude is a free app from DJM Development [View in iTunes, App Store] that uses available GPS data to display current altitude.  Of course, you’ll need an iOS device with a GPS chip for the app to work – any iPhone but the original model, or an iPad / iPad 2 with 3G. While the app doesn’t guarantee exact elevation accuracy, it kindly provides you with a margin of error so that you can rest a little easier. 

The results were fast, and even displayed with no  data connection (a frequent occurrence in the Colorado Rockies).  I also took to grabbing screenshots of the app after shooting photos from a single location so that I would know the elevation at which the photos were taken when I reviewed them later (NOTE: if your location services are turned on for the Camera app, altitude information is stored in the photos’ metadata, but it’s more of a pain to view.)

So, if you’re going anywhere with your iPhone or 3G-enabled iPad and will want to know the elevation, grab myAltitude.  It’s a free and simple way to transform your iPhone into an altimeter. 

If you’re looking for a bit more geo-data, take a look at another DJM app, myCoordinates Pro.

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Aug 04

Vonage Time to Call iPhone App

Vonage has released a new VoIP app that allows iPhone users – even those without Vonage accounts – to make international calls over Wi-Fi or 3G. The app, Vonage Time to Call [App Store Link], allows 15 minute calls to 100 countries for $1.99 or less, and to another 90 nations at costs between $2.99 and $9.99 per quarter hour, depending on the country.  Charges are billed to your iTunes account.

As inexpensive as this might seem at first glance, however, the application may or may not be your best international VoIP option.  For example:

If you use Time to Call to phone someone in Germany, you’ll pay $1.99 per 15 minutes, whether you’re calling a mobile or landline phone.  A Skype credit call to a German T-Mobile or Vodafone mobile number can cost as much as $0.29 per minute, or $4.35 for a 15 minute chat, in which case the Vonage app is a bargain.  But calls to a landline phone in Germany on Skype are only $0.02 per minute, which would set you back only 30 cents for a 15 minute mini-gab-fest. 

And there are other iPhone VoIP solutions to consider as well.

So you’ll have to do a bit of research to find out which solution will save you the most. Vonage has posted a web tool to find the cost of calls to available countries, and you can visit Skype or other VoIP web sites for their international rates.

For a limited time, Vonage is offering a free 15 minute call to one of 100 countries using Time to Call.   The app is free.

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Jul 14

dragongo_ss1Nuance Communications – the company behind Dragon NaturallySpeaking – has released several popular voice-centric iOS apps since late 2009.  These applications have been praised for their performance in voice-to-text tasks, and for good reason; but the company’s latest iPhone app, Dragon Go!, may be their best yet.

Dragon Go! [App Store Link] is the replacement for a previous Nuance app called Dragon Search, and if you used that older search app, you’ll quickly recognize the inspiration for Go!.  Simply put, the app allows you to speak a term, iPhone 4 Cases for example, and get results from select sites, all without leaving the application. This search term gave me quick access to Amazon.com and eBay results for iPhone 4 cases, general Google search results, YouTube videos, and related tweets, among others.

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Oct 06

Air Display for the iPad, iPhone Air Display [iTunes Link] was one of the first apps that allowed the iPad to act as a second monitor for your desktop or laptop computer.  One problem, however, was that the app only worked with Mac OS systems; Windows users were out of luck and had to look elsewhere.

But Air Display has just been updated, and now includes compatibility with Windows XP (32-bit only), Windows Vista and Windows 7.  Windows users must install a new software utility that makes the whole thing possible, which is a free download for owners of Air Display.

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