Monday, December 17, 2012

Timer+ (free, paid options)

If you've ever used a kitchen timer which can time more than one event simultaneously, you know what Timer+ does.

iOS has a built-in countdown timer, but if you need to time more than one event concurrently, this is a fine solution.

I started using this while digitizing hundreds of videotapes, to alert me that I should check on the progress of two or three concurrent transfers. You can name alarms, and the sounds can be individually set. You can pause and cancel any running timers, and see all the timers at once.

The free version is adequate for me. Paid features add sounds ($0.99) and eliminate the advertising banner ($1.99).

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Flipboard (free)

If you're a user of social networking sites like facebook or Twitter, you should take a look at Flipboard (free), especially on an iPad.

Here's the one-liner: It makes your facebook wall look like a magazine. You have to see it.


Category: Text, Productivity

($4.99) - GoodReader has been my primary choice for a PDF reader since first owning an iPod touch six years ago. I have to say that GoodReader isn't the friendliest app to use. It's dense and complicated - perfect for the geeky me, and perhaps too fussy for someone who "just wants something to work." 

The best parts about GoodReader:
  • You can rename and organize files in folders. I have a lot of PDFs, and inevitably their names as downloaded are something like "100_es-us_ug206_112.pdf," so making it something like "Sony 100ES User Guide" is a necessity for later reference.
  • You can download files from within GoodReader, and if you open a PDF file from a Web browser or email app on your iOS device, you can tap "Open In..." and direct your device to open the PDF file in GoodReader.
  • GoodReader can open and view many kinds of text, html, Microsoft Office and media (images, audio, video) files. 
  • Annotation of files.
Worst parts:
  • Complex, cluttered interface.
  • Manual screen rotation only, and in only TWO possible orientations (landscape mode with the Home button on the RIGHT - I'd like it the Home button on the left, where I hold the phone).
(NOTE: Apple's own free iBooks app make a fine alternative PDF reader for users for whom GoodReader sounds too complex.)

Skype (free)

Skype is a very mature audio- and video-chat client for iOS devices. If you don't have a video camera, you can use it to talk to another Skype user for free. I've used it because Apple's own FaceTime didn't originally support video chats without a WiFi connection (and still won't in many configurations of phone and carrier ). Quality of the video is pretty remarkable, and fairly robust. I've once had a two-hour video chat with a friend while driving down the highway with the camera pointed out the windshield so they could watch my progress from 3,000 miles away, and we only lost the connection twice.

At least as important, Skype is cross-platform. You can text-, audio- and video-chat with users on other mobile platforms, desktop computers, and even embedded systems some televisions.