Last week was pretty big for apps, and for good reason. So here’s a few of the things I’ve been using as of late, and you should definitely check out.
Fantastical: A beautiful and fast calendar for your iPhone. The Day Ticker focuses on the events that you have scheduled, rather than just looking at the week. You can even switch it to the month view so that it is an iPhone replica of the Mac app, which I also use on a daily basis. The best part of Fantastical is the natural language input, so you can just put in something like “Have lunch with Bob tomorrow at noon,” which the app will then sort out into traditional calendar event input. Creating events has never been easier. Fantastical has earned a spot on my home screen, and for good reason. If you want to learn more about Fantastical, make sure to check out my full in-depth review on AppAdvice.
KitCam: GhostBird Software has done it again. KitCam is a beautiful camera replacement app that allows you to capture both images and video. You can also apply various lenses, films, and frames on your image, and get live previews of them before you shoot. Think of Hipstamatic, but done much better. You can even fully edit your photos in KitCam as well, making it the ultimate photo and video solution for your iPhone.
Timer: A beautifully simple app that provides quick access to timers. Launch the app, find the timer you want, and press it to activate it. You can edit pre-existing timers as well as create your own new ones. It’s beautiful, fast, and simple. There are also new themes, glyphs for labeling your timers, and sounds available through in-app purchases. If you appreciate simplicity and beauty in a practical app, then you will love Timer.
Lovely: Finding apartments is hard, but ugly interfaces makes it even harder. Fortunately, Lovely provides a beautiful interface for finding your next home. Create an account, and you are able to favorite listings and set up alerts for when new listings pop up. You can pan the map around to find available listings, and view full details of the apartment and even contact the landlords about them. Scroll through photos, and filter out results to suit your budget and needs. Apartment hunting has been made easier with this elegant app, and it’s completely free.
So I’ve had my iPhone 5 for an entire weekend, and I figure it’s time to jot down some thoughts. I decided on a black/slate 32GB model, currently on Sprint. While I am not able to enjoy LTE on my iPhone until Sprint rolls out their LTE network in the Los Angeles area (which they claim to launch in October/November), I still like the device.
Profile: The first time I picked up my iPhone 5 from out of the box, I was amazed at how much lighter it is. In fact, for a second I thought, “This feels like a fake iPhone!” Yeah, it’s just that light. Now when I pick up an iPhone 4 or 4S, it really does feel like a brick in comparison. It’s amazing what Apple has done to the overall weight of the device. Even though I have wrapped my iPhone 5 in a case (and many more to come, reviews incoming), it is still incredibly light. It’s just mind-blowing.
Despite it being incredibly light, it’s still built very well. There are no “cheap” materials here, so it definitely doesn’t feel like a plastic Android phone. The guys at Apple really know how to design and engineer their products, which isn’t really found with other companies.
Screen: Apple also made the device taller, with a 4" screen. The width remains the same, which I’m pretty grateful for — otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to use this with one hand at all. At first, I felt a bit weird with the fact that I can no longer just reach my thumb over the screen to reach the back buttons in apps, and corners. However, given the light weight of it, I can quickly move the phone enough to reach the other corner as needed. The taller screen does not bother me as much as it did at first, and that’s mainly because Apple decided to not go wider. It just makes sense — not everyone has giant’s hands, alright?
I have gotten used to the tall screen rather quickly. I appreciate being able to see more tweets in Tweetbot, more emails, more of the conversation in Messages, and more of everything, really. I don’t really like non-iPhone 5 optimized apps, which end up being “letterboxed,” but here’s a bonus of having more space at the top: banner notifications will not interfere with your current app! An unforeseen advantage, I suppose.
Battery: The iPhone 5 is also a lot thinner than its predecessor. Well, maybe not that much, but it is definitely noticeable. It is enough to make a difference when you hold it, at least. The most amazing part is that while the device is thinner, the battery life remains just as good as the 4S — even better, actually. My 4S used to drain rather quickly, though perhaps that was due to the iOS 6 GM that was on it. But with my iPhone 5, it has been lasting me an entire day of being out and about without another charge.
A6: Thanks to the A6 chip, everything is faster and snappier than the 4S. Taking photos is awesome — tap the capture button as fast as you can, and the iPhone 5 will keep up with you. Everything feels more responsive, and games load up quicker. Definitely a big improvement here.
Five rows of apps: I had perfected my 4S home screen, but having an extra row available really changes things. I am now able to have four more incredibly useful apps on my home screen, which means less taps to access them. I’m a bit of a home screen junkie, so I definitely appreciate having the extra space.
iSight Camera: I have not taken a lot of photos as of late, but photos taken with an iPhone 5 definitely look clearer and more natural than those taken with the 4S, even though they are both an 8 megapixel lens. The improved optics in the 5 really make a difference, and it’s quite noticeable, especially if you compare them side-by-side.
Low light images will have the biggest difference. The iPhone 5 takes less grainy photos, and it’s much more clear. Video seems pretty good, and I love the fact that you are now able to take photos while recording video. I know that Apple is not the first to do this, but I like how it’s implemented.
And now the front-facing camera is great! I love not having mugshots that look like they were taken with a feature phone.
Headphone jack: I like it on the bottom. Why? Now, if you have headphones plugged in and are snapping photos, the cord will not interfere with your images. I also slide my phone into my pocket with the screen facing inward, and the top of the phone goes in first. Now I won’t have to fumble around with the cord since it will be near the pocket opening, and my phone will be ready to use in my hand the moment it comes out. It’s just natural.
Lightning: I was definitely surprised at how small this new plug actually is. The photos on the website before it was released made it appear out of proportion — once you see it in person, it is tiny. In fact, I would say that it is no bigger than my pinky finger, and I have pretty small hands. An evolution like this was only natural, and I love the fact that the Lightning cable is now androgynous, so that it can be plugged in both ways. No more fumbling around in the dark trying to figure out which way is the proper way to plug in your iPhone!
The only thing I wish that the Lightning cable did was sync/charge faster — I mean, why name it “Lightning” if the speed is the same as before?
I have already picked up two extra cables for my laptop bag and car, so now I’ll never have to worry about forgetting a cable again. Too bad I will have to carry a separate one now for my iPad.
Black vs White: So I’ve seen both in person now. The black is still sexy, and feels like the iPhone that Batman would use. My favorite part is that it is completely black — there’s no chrome whatsoever. However, I am a bit disappointed that the black one is prone to scratching and nicks rather easily, and the aluminum backing does attract fingerprints and oil smudges. I preferred to not use a case with my black iPhone 5, but I don’t think that is possible. I am hoping that my iPhone 5 won’t see too many dings over time, but I got AppleCare (for the first time ever) just in case.
The white is definitely like a jewel, especially with the chamfered and shining bezel. Some part of me wishes I had gotten white instead, since it doesn’t have the scratching and nicking problem that the black one has, but I still absolutely love the style of the black one this time around. But you still should see them both in person — I wish I could have both, but I’m not made of money.
Letterboxed apps will definitely look better on the black model though, since it blends in with the edges of the glass. You also don’t have to see the extra stuff around the earpiece, which sticks out like a sore thumb on the white model.
Final Thoughts: Even though I had a 4S, I’m very glad I upgraded, and I personally think it is worth it if you have the money for it. It’s actually a bigger change from the 4S than most think, because the extra room on the screen does make a huge difference. And it does so without making the device ridiculous to actually use with one hand, as phones should be used (not a 5" mini tablet).
It seems Apple is doing fine without Steve Jobs for now, though this may be the last thing that Steve touched before he passed away. I will look forward to the next iPhone while enjoying the heck out of this one.
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so I’m going to do a little catch up in this one. This will be a collection of the best apps that I’ve discovered or have been using in the past several weeks. Enjoy!
Drafts for iPad: Drafts is the best app for quickly jotting down text the moment it happens. I have been a user of the iPhone version since it came out, and it’s become one of my favorite apps. The iPad version takes advantage of the larger screen estate and even includes a new keyboard extension that makes it easy to navigate between characters and insert common punctuation marks, including those for Markdown syntax. All of your settings and actions are kept intact between iPhone and iPad thanks to Simperium Sync as well, which works flawlessly. If you write on the iPad at all, make sure to get Drafts for iPad — you won’t regret it. And grab the iPhone version if you haven’t already.
Pronto: This gorgeous and simple app makes it easy to plan upcoming events. Keep items organized in categories, and then create event lists and add to-dos that need to be completed for the event in question. You can even have due dates and times, and create monthly or annually recurring items.
Mixel: Previously thought to be dead, Mixel came back on your iPhone. This app allows you to combine multiple photos into one alluring collage to share with the world. There are six different styles to choose from, each with their own unique layout and filtered look on photos. It’s collages made easy.
Weathercube: This is a unique take on weather. It’s Clear-like interface is pretty intuitive since it relies on swipes and pinching gestures. You can get a six-day, daily, and hourly forecast, and even share your weather with friends on Facebook or Twitter. Pick a color theme that suits your style and listen to the whimsical sound effects that the app will emit when you play around with it. It’s a great UI experiment for weather apps, but can still use a bit of tinkering (current temperature is shown in the Hourly view, not Daily, which is default). It’s a great concept, though.
Bastion: This is my first time playing this fantastic action RPG, and it’s going to be one of the best games you can buy on iOS this year. The gorgeous visuals, amazing soundtrack, captivating story, and excellent reactive narration make for one incredible action RPG that should not be missed. Make sure to grab it today if you want an in-depth gaming experience.
The World Ends With You: Solo Remix: Square Enix has released one of their best games as a port to the iPhone and iPad. Relive the story of Neku and The Reaper’s Game in this unique action RPG that is not like anything you’ve ever played before. Get stunning Retina visuals, stylish hip-hop soundtrack, and a distinctive combat system in this game. The only negative thing about it is the fact that Square Enix made two versions for the iPhone and iPad, with the latter being $19.99 rather than $17.99. It’s a great port of the original DS game, though, and I believe it’s worth every penny.
Super Hexagon: A simple, twitchy game that tests your reflexes. Control a triangle in the center hexagon and move it so that it doesn’t hit an encroaching wall. The action is fast-paced in this game and it will definitely take some practice before you get the hang of things. Test your skills in three difficulty levels, and unlock three more if you can survive through the entire test!
As much as I love my iPhone, I also can’t leave my wallet behind. But it’s just so much of a hassle to keep my wallet separately, because it’s just another thing to worry about. I would love to just remember my bag, keys, and iPhone, without having to think, “Did I get my money?”
Fortunately, there is the CM4 Q Card Case for iPhone 4/4S.
This is a hybrid rubber and premium cloth case that provides fantastic protection to your beloved iPhone. It’s easy to get it on your device too — just push it in to the rubber and make sure that it fits snugly around it. Once it’s on, it just feels right.
The rubbery sides will provide added grip to your iPhone, and the “Natural Throw” buttons helps to provide an organic connection with your volume and power buttons. All of your ports and switches are easily accessible as well, since the case has perfectly sized cutouts for them. The case even provides a rubber lip around the front side of your iPhone so that the front glass will be protected if dropped face-down. The Q features a soft-touch finish so that it is easy to pull the iPhone out of your pocket.
The real magic, though, is the fact that this case provides a premium fabric pocket on the back for you to keep about three cards and some cash. While they recommend only up to three cards, it is actually possible to get about four cards in there, though it will end up being a very tight fit. However, there is a small thumb slot on the side of the pocket, which you can use to push your cards out.
If you use the pocket for more than three cards, then you may end up with a bit of stretching out of the pocket over time. However, it should still be secure enough to hold less than four if this happens.
The only negative thing about the Q Card Case is the fact that all of the colors besides black will be hard to clean if it gets dirty. That’s the only negative, so if that worries you, then you will want to snag up the black color. However, my personal favorite is the Pacific Green.
If you want a case that makes you not need to carry one more thing, then I highly recommend checking out the Q Card Case from CM4. It has become one of my favorite all-in-one wallet solutions for the iPhone 4S.
I will say that Ben Brooks has done a fine job of summing up all of the Twitter news that went down today, so I won’t rehash it too much. You can see his post here.
I loved Twitter since I joined back in 2007. That was when it was a tight community of early adopters and other geeks and nerds. The kind of people I like to talk to.
Then, Ashton Kutcher came in to the picture and started using Twitter. Then celebrities joined, thus pulling in the “average” person to what was once a geeky haven.
Now Twitter is all over the place and they want to focus more on their official apps, which really suck, by the way. I mean, Twitter for Mac hasn’t even been updated since June 2011, and there have been two major OS X releases since then, and even a Retina MacBook Pro. Really, it’s clear where their priorities are.
Third party apps were what started Twitter and got it to where it is now. And today, Twitter showed us that they no longer want these. They will be restricting the amount of users that an app can have (up to 100,000 users, and can’t grow past 200% of that without “permission” from Twitter) and reducing API calls to 60 for each separate action, rather than the 350 total that it is now.
The focus is no longer developers and users, but just getting people to use their shitty apps and web view.
If you are not using Day One yet, you need to do so now.
The update from last week finally added the ability to add photos to your entries. Now it’s not just a text diary, but a place to capture all of your memories, whether they are just you recalling your day, or visual moments you have captured with your camera. It’s perfect. Except for the fact that you can only have one photo per entry. Maybe that’ll change in the future, but I still find it fine for the time being.
Location and weather information is added as well. If you insert a photo from the past, the app will even pull geolocation and time information from the photo and use it for the entry. Nifty!
If you’re still using Foursquare, you can hook up your account in Day One so that the app can automatically check you in when you select a specific place in an entry. It’s pretty nice, so you don’t have to use two apps.
The iCloud and Dropbox sync have become even faster, so all of your precious moments are saved instantly and constantly, so nothing is lost. It’s great. Be aware that you will have to move your library if you are using the Dropbox sync, but there shouldn’t be too many problems.
I’ve been using the app multiple times in a day since the update thanks to the ability to record a moment with just a photo. I’ve done more journaling than I ever have before because of it.
This update is absolutely fantastic. Make sure to check out Day One on your iOS device and Mac right now.