Tag Archives: app

Touché Brings Touch Bar to Any Mac



Touche LogoMuch has been said about the new Touch Bar feature on the latest version of Apple’s flagship laptop, the MacBook Pro. Some see Touch Bar as a cool new feature, with unlimited potential for different uses. Others look at Touch Bar as a gimmicky afterthought. Just a new shiny thing in a parade of new shiny Apple things that doesn’t add much in the way of true functionality to the MacBook Pro. The debate is sure to rage on for months (if not years) to come.

Regardless of how anyone feels about Touch Bar, the feature is only available on new MacBook Pros. Apple hasn’t said publicly if Touch Bar, or similar technology, will be added to other Macs in the future. If you’re intrigued by Touch Bar but don’t have the scratch to go out and purchase a new MacBook Pro, you might want to check out a new app from Red Sweater called Touché. The app can add Touch Bar-like functionality to any Mac by providing a graphical representation on screen of the commands assigned to the function keys of a Mac’s active application. (This mimics Touch Bar somewhat, as Touch Bar replaces the function keys on the new MacBook Pro entirely.)

Touche Bar

Touché is a free download and carries these requirements:

Touché requires macOS 10.12.1 or later, but there’s a catch! You must have the very latest 10.12.1, with system support for the Touch Bar. If your 10.12.1 version is specifically 16B2657, you’re good to go. If not, you can update to the required version here. You can confirm you are running 16B2657 specifically, by clicking the version number in the About this Mac panel.

If you’re curious about the Touch Bar experience but don’t have access to a new MacBook Pro, give Touché a try!


Zappar Brings the Page to Life at WTS



Zappar LogoReturning to my interviews from this year’s Gadget Show Live and the Wearable Technology Show, I’m with Jeremy from Zappar. Their two dimensional Zapcodes generate a three dimensional augmented reality, bringing the printed page alive within the Zappar app.

ZapcodeA Zapcode is a printed symbol like the one on the right, which has 4 billion different combinations. It’s recognised by the Zappar app (available for Apple and Android) using the smartphone or tablet’s camera and then overlays animations and other content onto the real-world as seen through the camera. For example, a flat architect’s drawing shows a 3D model in the Zappar world or a comic book about planets whizzes with rockets and spinning worlds. Very cool.

Here’s what a Zappar augmented book looks like – the printed page is on the left with the app view on the right.

Zappar Sun Zappar AR Sun

Here’s a quick demo of a building.

Zappar’s client list is impressive featuring brands like Asda, Coca-Cola, BBC Radio 1 and Mothercare. There are plenty of demo Zaps on the Zappar website, so download the app and try them out. The app works fine with computer screens so there’s no need to print anything out – just point the camera at the monitor.

 


Free Peer-To-Peer Payments With the New Tilt App



Tilt logoI used the crowdfunding platform Tilt a few times back when it was called Crowdtilt. My overall experience with Tilt was good, as I was able to successfully fund a couple of small campaigns. Since then, Tilt has expanded beyond just crowdfunding campaigns into event ticketing and peer-to-peer payments. All of these new features are front and center in the new Tilt 3.0 app.

Tilt 3.0’s peer-to-peer payment system is probably the most handy feature of the app:

In 2-3 taps, easily pay or request money from friends and family! It’s perfect for drinks, bills, ride-sharing, and more. Plus, it’s completely FREE to use.

The app also has a request money feature for those times when your friends conveniently “forget” about how they said they’d help cover the cost of last night’s outing:

Front the cost of dinner? Request money from as many friends as you want. Everyone can see who has and hasn’t paid, which adds visibility so you can spend less time playing debt collector.

Since many users have employed Tilt to fund large events, it made perfect sense for the new app to include ticketing and event management features:

Attendees are automatically issued tickets that are easily accessible from their email, the Tilt mobile app or a unique link to a mobile web view. Each ticket comes with a unique QR code and can only be used once after being scanned by your team. Tickets can also easily be transferred to others.

Tilt 3.0 is a free download from the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store.


Evernote Making Changes to Free Tier and Payment Plans



Evernote logoPopular productivity and note-taking/sharing app Evernote announced it will be making changes to the different tiers the company has offered to its users. The biggest changes will impact those who use Evernote’s free Basic tier. The company has also said it will be raising prices for its two paid tiers for new subscribers, but won’t be raising rates on existing customers right away.

Changes to Evernote’s Basic (free) tier:

On Basic, you can access notes on up to two devices, such as a computer and phone, two computers, or a phone and a tablet, as well as on the web, so you can continue to take your notes with you throughout your day. Passcode lock on the mobile app, formerly a paid feature, is now available on Basic as well.

Previous to this update, Evernote Basic users could access their notes on more than two devices, so this could be an impactful change for many users.

Evernote’s middle tier, Evernote Plus, will now be priced at $3.99/month or $34.99/year:

To stay in sync across all your devices, consider Evernote Plus. You’ll also enjoy the ability to take notebooks offline on a mobile device, so your notes will be with you wherever you go, even when there’s no Internet connection. You can forward emails into Evernote and keep them alongside related notes, complete with attachments, and 1 GB of upload space each month means you can keep all your projects together.

Evernote’s top tier, Evernote Premium, will now cost $7.99/month or $69.99/year:

Get the full power of Evernote with Evernote Premium, a set of tools designed to help you go paperless and take ideas into action across all your devices. Find text buried inside Office docs. Annotate PDFs. Discover connections between notes, turn business cards into phone contacts, or present your work with one click. Premium includes 10 GB of monthly upload space, and you have all the benefits of Plus and Basic, too.

The post that documents the changes to Evernote’s plans states that the company is making these changes to help enhance and improve its services. Evernote has become a valuable tool for a lot of people, and I’m sure many will continue to use it, despite these changes. But the limitations put on the Basic account may find some free-tier users looking for alternatives.


LetGo Buys Wallapop, Consolidates Online Classifieds Apps



LetGoPosting classified ads can be an annoying but unavoidable aspect of modern life. It used to be, the only way to get a classified ad out into the world was to call up your local newspaper or other circular and pay an inflated rate for a few lines of text, followed by a phone number. This process has improved somewhat in the digital age. Sites like Craigslist make it relatively easy to post classified ads. But there may still be some room to improve the classified ad experience.

Earlier this year, I downloaded a free classified-ad app for iOS called Wallapop. The app was easy to use, allowing me to quickly take photos and post descriptions of items I wanted to sell. By default, Wallapop would make my ads available to other local Wallapop users. But my ads could also be found by out-of-area users as well. I managed a few successful sales thanks to Wallapop’s built-in “bargaining” tools that allowed me to get firm commitments from prospective buyers. And while I didn’t buy anything thru Wallapop, I did enjoy browsing its local ads to see what others were listing for sale.

I received an e-mail last week notifying me that Wallapop was becoming LetGo. This is apparently the result of Wallapop being bought out by LetGo. As part of the deal, the new combined company will raise over $100 million from existing investors. Wallapop’s assets will be completely absorbed by LetGo.

I haven’t tried selling anything thru the new LetGo app yet. But I have registered an account and spent some time browsing ads on the service. It’s very similar to Wallapop in overall design. I’m sure most users won’t be too confused by the change. However, it will be necessary to delete the existing Wallapop app and install the new LetGo app on all devices that were previously used with Wallapop. Wallapop has been sending friendly reminder notifications about this for days.


Hack May Have Allowed Pizza Buyers to Eat For Free



Dominos Pizza logoIf there’s one connection that was inevitable to happen it would be the joy of home-delivered pizza being paired with the convenience that only the internet can provide. First, it became possible to order pizza direct from a restaurant’s website without having to even place a phone call. And now it’s even easier to purchase a pie online using mobile apps on a smartphone or tablet. While pizza makers have been quick to embrace new technologies, Dominos Pizza might be a little gun shy to jump on the next bandwagon.

Earlier this week, a UK security consultant named Paul Price blogged about an order he’d place with Domino’s using the pizza chain’s Android app. Price was curious to understand more about how the app worked. Using the skills he’d developed as a consultant, he was able to access the app’s source code and watch what it did while processing his order. He was surprised to find that the app was actually handling his payment locally, on his device, as opposed to sending the information to the Domino’s server. By implementing a relatively simple hack, Price was able to circumvent the payment system by sending a signal back to the Domino’s site indicating that his order was paid for when in fact, no payment information was given.

This effectively gave Price the ability to order potentially unlimited amounts of pizza for free! Price contacted the store he’d ordered from and they confirmed that his pizza was baking and would soon be on its way. But honesty got the best of the man, and when his pizza arrived, he informed the delivery driver of the hack, and he paid in cash for the total cost of the order.

Domino’s has since closed the hole in its app that allowed for this exploit. But it did so quite some time after Price alerted the restaurant to his findings. There’s no telling how many others might’ve also discovered the hack and enjoyed free pizzas because of it.


Feverprints App Hopes to Provide Better Understanding of Body Temperatures



Feverprints logoMedical science has long accepted that 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is the average body temperature for human beings. This standard is often used to determine if a patient’s body temperature is too high or too low. But not everyone’s body temperature is the same. This can cause problems when physicians are trying to treat their patients. Boston Childrens Hospital is hoping to gain some real insight into the world’s average body temperatures with its new Feverprints mobile app.

Feverprints is pretty straightforward. Upon installation and acceptance of the app’s terms and conditions, the app will then send a notification every time it wants you to take your temperature. This can be done the old-fashioned way with a standard thermometer or with a wireless smart thermometer paired with the user’s mobile device. Feverprints then collects individual users’ information and anonymously aggregates it along with other Feverprints reporters. Along with body temperature, the Feverprints app may also collect data on your movement, physical condition, and medication usage, depending on how much you’d like to share with the app.

Feverprints is currently available as a free download from the iOS App Store. There’s no mention of porting the app to other platforms at this time.

 


Latitude Tour App at CES



Latitude Tour AppScott Ertz interviews Brody Horton of Latitude Tours. Latitude Tours is an app available for both Android and iOS that currently offers audio tours for New York, London and Paris.

The example given is that you arrive as a tourist in Paris. Once you are ready to take audio tours in Paris, you pay $15 dollars which gives you 24 hours’ worth of access to all of the Paris audio tour content.

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App Review: Thyme for iOS



Thyme logoCooking meals at home used to be a way of life for most Americans. But over time, we’ve become more accustomed to dining out or ordering in. Having food prepared outside of the home is nice, but that food is often more expensive and less healthy than home-cooked fair. And for those of us who are trying to rely less on carryout and more on our own kitchens, there are a variety of apps that aid in the process. One such app is called Thyme and I’ve been using it for awhile.

Thyme bills itself as “the smart kitchen timer app.” And that’s a pretty accurate description. The app is very straightforward and dead simple to use. Upon loading, Thyme gives you a familiar-looking graphic that mirrors the layout of a typical stove, with four circles on top that represent burners and one larger circle at the bottom that represents an oven.

Thyme app

Thyme suggests that you “tap a plate” to set a timer. Doing so brings up a screen that allows you to set that specific timer. Pick the time you need by dragging a finger around the edge of the timer circle.

Thyme app

Thyme begins counting down on that specific timer. Repeat the process for as many other items as you need to time. Here’s what Thyme looks like when one burner and the oven are being timed simultaneously:

Thyme app

When a timer is completed, Thyme will send a push notification including an audible alarm sound. If you have the app open when a timer expires, it looks like this:

Thyme app

Keep in mind that if you have your iOS device’s volume turned off, you won’t hear the alarm when it sounds. So, make sure the device hasn’t been switched to silent before starting a timer.

Thyme isn’t packed with features but it’s a fine little app for what it does. Thyme is available for $0.99 on the App Store but it does occasionally turn up as a free download. Check this app out if you’re in need of a comprehensive kitchen timer.


App Review: aTimeLogger 2 for iOS



aTimeLogger2 logoAs a freelancer, time tracking is essential to the work I do. I’m always looking for ways to improve that tracking, so I’ve been trying out different apps lately to help with the task. One of this apps is called aTimeLogger 2. There are some previous versions of aTimeLogger for other platforms. But aTimeLogger 2 is only currently available for iOS and I’ve used it exclusively on my iPad Mini. The app sells for $2.99 in the App Store but I was able to pick it up for free during a special promotional period.

aTimeLogger 2 is pretty straight forward when adding a task. The app opens with a screen that allows you to select from different task categories. aTimeLogger 2 is designed to keep track of EVERYTHING you might do in the course of a day; working, eating, exercising, sleeping, etc. I’m only interested in using the app for work projects, so I selected the Work option from the menu below.

aTimeLogger2 screen

This automatically added a new task at the top of the screen with a new timer that had already started rolling.

aTimeLogger2 screen

 

Tapping the task takes me to a screen that allows me to add some details to the task. The “Type” section was already set to Work, as I selected that on the previous screen. If I wanted to change it to something else, I could do that here. The “My plan” feature has something to do with combining different tasks into a plan. This feature seemed confusing and since I really didn’t need it, I didn’t try to figure it out. I did however use the “Comment” field as a way to give my tasks unique names that made them easier to identify.

aTimeLogger2 screen

This screen also keeps track of any time I’ve added to the task so far and it also has a delete button for removing the task completely from the app.

Tapping the Save button in the upper right-hand corner took me back to the main aTimeLogger 2 screen. I added an additional task just to show that the app allows you to keep track of multiple projects at the same time.

aTimeLogger2 screen

Note: While you can keep track of multiple tasks as shown above, aTimeLogger 2 can only one run timer at a time. I think this is by design, since the app breaks everything down into task categories and the assumption is you probably won’t be doing more than one task at a time.

From here, you can pause tasks and restart them again as needed. This is crucial for the type of work I do, as projects are not always done in a single block of time or on a single day. This is really all I used the app for, and for the most part, it did this well. However, I did notice sometimes that the timer would jump ahead in time when adding details to the Comment fields of tasks. It was easy enough to fix this when it was caught right away. But it was confusing at first, as I noticed some tasks had already logged more minutes (sometimes even hours) than I could’ve possibly used since adding the task to aTimeLogger 2. Once I figured out it was doing this, I just had to tap on the timer and reset it with the “Now” button. Fortunately, this problem only seemed to appear when initially setting up a task. This problem never arose when adding more time to an existing task.

At the end of a tracking period, aTimeLogger 2 will allow you to export all of your tracking data to a CSV or HTML file. Again, all I wanted the app to do was track my time in the Work category. But because it’s designed to track all of your time, there’s no way to remove that pesky “Other” category from the export results.

aTimeLogger2 screen

aTimeLogger 2 has settings and feature beyond what I used it for. For example, you can connect it to Twitter if you’d like the app to tweet when you’ve started/completed a task. You can also change the theme of the app if you’d like it to look different from the default layout (which was perfectly fine for me).

I used aTimeLogger 2 for one month’s worth of task tracking. And while the app is OK, I have trouble recommending it, mainly due to the timer issue I mentioned above. But, if you don’t mind a little babysitting when you first add tasks to the app, or if you’re super interested in timing EVERYTHING you do in the course of a day, aTimeLogger 2 might work well for you.