Monday, September 27, 2010


Every night I end the day by heading to the App Store on my iPad and using the Release Date option to scroll through all the new apps that were released that day.  (Yes, I lead a fairly dull life.)  Weekdays typically have the largest number of new apps, but even on a big day there are only a few dozen new ones to scan.

Surely there's a better way to see what new apps have been released, right?  I haven't found one, but at least AppAdvice helps me find the diamonds in the rough.  This $1.99 app has a nifty interface that starts by loading a couple of screen's worth of news.  The news isn't just limited to apps though; you'll find tidbits on everything related to the iPad.  Touch one of the article summaries to see the full story.  Once you get to the bottom of the second screenful of summaries the app loads more news; on and on it goes, with a seemingly endless list of interesting stories to read.  My favorite feature is AppFresh Daily, a summary of "the very best apps from the last 24 hours."

There's also iPhone version of the AppAdvice app and your $1.99 buys both.  While the iPad's user interface it nice, the iPhone app interface is even better.  The developers did a terrific job making use of all the available screen space.  For some reason the iPhone app has more features than the iPad one.  For example, the AppMovers option lets you see which apps are gaining momentum on the iPhone, but there's no equivalent option in the iPad app.  I'm hoping these iPhone features are added to the iPad app soon, but even without them this one is a must-have.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I ditched my trusty old notebook shortly after I bought my iPad.  It's one less thing to lug around and the Penultimate app is a great replacement.  When a friend of mine told me the Noterize app is even better I didn't hesitate spending the three bucks to check it out.  What I'm finding though is that I really need both apps.

Noterize is great at a lot of things.  You can write on a document (better with a stylus than your fingertip), highlight portions of it and even drop in the digital equivalent of a PostIt note.  The killer feature for me though is the audio recording capability Noterize supports.  If you're in a classroom, business meeting or any other place you'd like to record the audio, just click the microphone icon and relax.  I've been wondering when the iPad will offer Livescribe Smartpen functionality and Noterize is about as close as it gets (so far).  The key Livescribe feature that has yet to be replicated is OCR, or the ability to convert your written words to machine-readable ones.

Noterize is also able to import PDFs and PowerPoint slides.  I love this because it lets me mark up documents and send them to others for review.  I put Noterize to the test right away by reviewing and annotating a 40-page research report I received at work.  It was a great experience as I was able to put all my notes right in the PDF and then email it to a colleague.  The process was a bit quirky and Noterize isn't totally bug-free.  It looks like it's possible to press "send" when emailing a doc before the doc is actually loaded and ready.  I've run into this problem a couple of times now and it's pretty frustrating; just be sure an image of the document is displayed in the email message body before you try to send it.  (Note to Noterize: Hey guys, how about simply graying out the "send" button till the doc is loaded?!)

The other beef I have with Noterize is that it doesn't feel as responsive with a stylus as Penultimate does.  Maybe it's all in my head but I find it easier to take handwritten notes with a stylus in Penultimate than in Noterize.  And don't believe what either of these apps tell you about "Palm Protect", or the ability to prevent your palm from making stray marks on the document, as Noterize refers to it.  They're both far from perfect here and I often find myself erasing unintended palm marks.

For the time being, Noterize will be my document mark-up tool of choice but Penultimate remains my notebook replacement.

P.S. -- I'm still puzzled why Livescribe continues sitting on the sidelines.  Someone will eventually add OCR functionality to one of these apps and Livescribe will watch tablets eat their core business.  Just because they ignore the business opportunity doesn't mean everyone else will!

Monday, September 13, 2010

CBS Sports Pro Football App

I'm a big sports fan and am always on the lookout for the latest sports-related apps.  MLB's AtBat was a favorite of mine on the iPhone and the iPad version has gotten better throughout the season.  I use it each week to check scores and periodically watch a simulated game while I'm doing something else.

The NFL generally gets high marks with fans but don't look to them for a great mobile app.  If you want something like AtBat for the NFL your best bet is the CBS Sports Pro Football app.  It's got everything the pro football junkie needs.  Besides a league-wide scoreboard you can get all the details on any game in progress or completed.  Previews are also offered for upcoming games.  And if you're into fantasy football and happen to use the service, you'll find links for your account in this app as well.

Sometimes it's the little things that make the difference though.  For example, I missed the Steelers-Falcons game but was able to catch a summary of it via the CBS app.  I was curious about the scoring drives so all I had to do was pick a quarter and then touch one of the on-screen arrows representing team drives in that quarter.  The app displayed a nice summary of what happened on that particular drive, so my questions were quickly answered (Go Steelers!).  Then there's the RapidReports crawler at the bottom of the screen.  It lets me do something I've always wanted the ability to do with crawlers on my TV: rewind or speed them up.

Photos and videos are hard to find in this one.  I assume that's because the NFL is working on it's own app with more functionality.  It's amazing they didn't release one before the season kicked off, but for the time being CBS is offering a terrific alternative...and it's free!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Sometimes a name truly says it all.  That's the case with the Top100Apps iPad app.  I'm constantly searching the App Store for new iPad apps but I'm also interested in what's hot.  If you're looking at individual categories you can use the iPad's App Store app but it only shows 10 entries at a time in the Top Charts view.  I'm easily annoyed having to press the "Show More" button 10 times to see the top 100.

That's where Top100Apps comes in.  It's a freebie that downloads summary info for the top 100 apps overall or any genre, same as what you see in the App Store app.  But rather than having to download information on each batch of 10 separately, Top100Apps shows them all at once.  So I'm quickly able to see what the top 100 apps are in the Books or Sports genres, for example.  You can quickly flip from Paid to Free apps and I've found that each new selection (e.g., going from one genre to another or switching between Paid and Free) takes 5 seconds or less, considerably faster than App Store access for the top 100.  App Store links are built in, of course, so you're just a click or two away from from viewing an entry in Top100Apps to downloading it.

As useful as this one is, it could very easily be made redundant by the App Store app itself.  If Apple ever adds a setting to let you change between "show 10 apps", "show 20 apps", etc., all the way up to "show 100 apps" in their lists there would be no need for Top100Apps.  In the mean time though I'm sure I'll continue using it regularly.