Category Archives: iOS

InvoiceNinja Launches Native iPhone App



InvoiceNinja LogoAs a freelance human, I have to track my own time when working on projects for clients. This is crucial if I want to get paid for the work I’ve done (and I definitely do want to get paid). I’ve explored a number of different systems for doing this. And while I have yet to find one that I absolutely love, the one I’ve been using recently (and like for the most part) is InvoiceNinja. It’s an open source platform for freelancers to track projects and generate invoices for clients. I’ve been accessing InvoiceNinja using a web browser on my Mac, as that’s really the only InvoiceNinja interface that’s been available. But that changed recently when InvoiceNinja announced the release of a native iPhone app.

InvoiceNinja’s iPhone app gives users access to all of the platform’s features, including time tracking, invoicing, and more. Having the ability to use the app on the go should make it easier for freelancers who often work at remote locations where they may not have access to a computer. The InvoiceNinja service itself works on a freemium model, with a basic free tier along with paid options for premium features. The new iPhone app is a free download from the App Store. InvoiceNinja has stated that the company is working on developing a native Android app. No ETA yet as to when the Android version will be released.


Super Mario Run is Coming to iOS Devices



super-mario-run-for-iosNintendo has announced that Super Mario Run is coming to iPhone and iPad. It is the first Mario game to be released on iOS. The game will be free to download, and is scheduled for release in December of 2016.

Super Mario Run is being described as “a new kind of Mario game that you can play with one hand.” Hold your iPhone or iPad in one hand, and tap the screen with your other hand. In short, they are making it clear that you won’t need a controller to play this Mario game.

In this game, Mario constantly moves forward through the courses while you use a variety of jumps to navigate. Mario will behave differently depending on the timing of your taps, so it’s up to you to show off particularly smooth moves, gather coins, and reach the goal.

Nintendo says the game has three different modes. The first mode is a challenge course for players to complete while gathering coins. The second mode lets players challenge the play data of other players to show who “can beat a course with the most style to impress Toads into joining you.” The third mode lets players create their own Mushroom Kingdom, using the coins and Toads collected in the first to game modes.

The is no information about when, or if, Super Mario Run will be released for Android. Based on the comments I’ve seen on Twitter, there are some people who are really upset about that.

Super Mario Run is free to download, and some content will be available for free. Additional content will be available for purchase.


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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Motus Baseball Performance Tracker at CES



Motus LogoThe availability of detailed performance information for sportsmen and women is one of the big changes in recent years. From tennis to basketball, there’s almost certainly a smart device for the sport. Motus specialise in tracking baseball players, both pitchers and batters, with a new smart sensor. Todd and Marlo find out what it takes to knock one out of the park from Jason Lamendola of Motus.

Motus clip and sensorFor Motus, the new sensor that comes as part of MotusBASEBALL is a great improvement over the previous generation as it’s not only smaller with a longer battery life, but it now provides data whether the player is at the mound or the plate. The only difference is that pitchers wear a compression sleeve on their arm with the sensor fitting in a small pocket, whereas the sensor fits on the back of a batting glove.

With regards to reviewing the performance stats, there’s an app for that. In fact there’s two, one for batting (Motus Batting) and one for pitching (Motus Throw), though it seems the apps are only available for iOS. The apps provide a wealth of stats in real-time, allowing coaches to identify problems and avoid injury as it happens.

MotusBASEBALL with the new sensor is expected soon and the Motus site says “early February”. Once on sale, it will be priced at US$149 which is very affordable for coaches and keen players.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com and Marlo Anderson rounds up the latest technology news at The Tech Ranch.

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Bevel 3D Smartphone Camera Attachment at CES 2016



c2c19d4a2dcda42f24831c2918091871_originalMatter and Form is bringing their newest smartphone photography accessory– the Bevel 3D camera attachment– to CES 2016.

While most other 3D attachments merely create a 3-dimensional illusion by enhancing the depth of a photograph without actually creating a usable file, Bevel allows you to capture real 3D photographs using any smartphone or tablet.

Bevel works by plugging in to your phone or tablet and capturing a panoramic view of the person, place, or object you want to photograph. Bevel’s eye-safe laser light and your device’s camera work in tandem to scan the object and create a stunning 3D image that you can use in countless ways. You can even use Bevel for 3D printing!

Bevel comes in multiple color options (white, orange, green, blue, and black) and is compatible with both IOS and Android smartphones and tablets. It’s currently available for pre-order for $79 here, and is scheduled to begin shipping in early 2016.

Bevel will be at CES 2016  at LVCC, South Hall 2- 26530 in the Augmented Reality Marketplace.

 


Surface Pro 3 Update



SurfaceIt’s been going on about three months since buying a Surface Pro 3 tablet with a 256 gigabyte SSD, an I-5 processor, and Windows 10 preinstalled, so I figure it’s time for a bit of an update.

Since getting the device, there has been one major Windows 10 update, along with countless small spyware and virus updates for Windows Defender, which is built in to Windows 10.

So far, between the hardware and the operating system, there have been zero hiccups. Windows 10 has been absolutely rock solid. I am still really enjoying the Windows 10 experience. The one area lacking with the Windows 10 tablet experience has been the lack tablet mode apps from the Windows App Store. Many types of apps are just non-existent, or as in the case of the Windows Facebook app, are barely adequate but obviously lacking in up-to-date Facebook features present in the Android and iOS counterpart apps. I am willing to overlook this poor Windows app experience because I can easily just go to the various websites and get the full website experience if I need to. Also, my Galaxy Note 4 phone is where I end up running most of the standard apps anyway, so when it comes right down to it I don’t need them on a large-screen tablet device anyway.

I also purchased the older generation Microsoft Keyboard. Additionally for a paltry $15.99 I purchased the Fintie Surface Pro 3 Case Folio Slim-fit Leather Stand Cover with Stylus Holder from Amazon. The version I got was navy blue, but it comes in a very wide variety of colors and print designs. Fintie also sells an updated version of the case for the Surface Pro 4 for $13.99. Both products are highly rated. The case does an excellent job of protecting the unit and gives me a very secure loop along the top of the screen to insert the Microsoft Pen stylus that came packaged with the unit.

Of course the big advantage of the Surface Pro line is that it packs a full, powerful PC into a thin tablet form factor combined with an amazing high-resolution screen.

I spend weeks at a time traveling and living in a very compact area. The less bulky stuff I can carry with me, the better. The Surface Pro 3 completely covers my mobile computing needs. I was able to delete an entire laptop bag from the stuff I carry around with me, which included an old white plastic MacBook and an old Asus netbook.

I still listen to a number of popular Apple-centric podcasts, and I am beginning to hear the frustrations I suffered with for at least the past year when I was trying to decide what to do in order to update my computing hardware. I thought about newer MacBooks, but because they forced newer versions of OS/X, they wouldn’t run the aging media creation software I wanted to run. The iPad experience is great for media consumption, but is absolutely painful for even the most minimal productivity tasks including writing articles and media creation.

The Surface Pro 3 has solved my problem. I am confident to travel just with it, since it is more than capable of handling all the tasks I need it to handle. I feel a bit sorry for the people who are trapped in the Apple-only mentality. Fortunately, even though I bought my fair share of Apple products in the past 10 years, I wasn’t trapped and could easily switch back to Windows once Microsoft corrected its terrible operating system mistakes (namely Vista and Windows 8) with the release of Windows 10.

I hear people use the phrase “living in the future.” For me, the future is here and I am already enjoying it as never before. I have a super-high-quality, unbelievably fast touchscreen tablet that also happens to be a full PC that can handle everything I throw at it.


The Mobile App Gap



The history of mobile applications dates back to simple games such as Snake, Pong, Tetris, and Tic-Tac-Toe included with candy bar phones.

As phones became “smarter,” Windows Mobile phones of the mid-2000’s and others included the ability to install third-party software, both paid and free.

Next came the era of the high noise level platform app stores that we know and love/hate today. There are tons of both free and paid apps. Some apps are useful to accomplish very specific, pointed tasks with high efficiency. Others apps are arguably less than useless. The good and the bad, the useful and the useless are packaged together in a cacophony of brightly-colored graphics and flowery sales language, all on equal footing and demanding attention. App discovery is often painful, unpleasant and risks device app bloat.

Mobile device ownership and management requires a learning curve. In phase one, the mobile device novice is at high risk of downloading seemingly every app encountered, while actually making use of very little of that which has been installed.

Phase two of the learning curve is typically marked by out of storage memory errors.

Phase three requires the user to decide which useless apps should be deleted so that the mobile device can continue to be updated and/or functional. When deleting apps, there is a tendency for the user to hang on to installed apps if there’s even the most remote of chances that the user might conceivably use the app.

The key test to determine whether a particular app should simply be deleted is to ask yourself whether or not you would reinstall it after a factory reset.

It should be noted that apps that the user has paid for will tend to have a higher psychological value placed on them, regardless of whether they are actually useful or not.

In this noisy mobile app jungle, where crap is right alongside cream, people are trying to squeeze the most out of their mobile devices, to extract the maximum productivity.

Mobile devices make great content consumption devices. Proof is all around us. At any given moment when people are around, how many of those people are absorbed with their mobile devices?

As mobile devices become ever more powerful, the next step in the evolution of the mobile device usage learning curve is revolving around increasing demand to accomplish real-world productivity tasks. While some productivity tasks can be accomplished, others are difficult or impossible – not because of computing power limitations – after all, today’s mobile devices often have quite powerful processors – no, because of software limitations.

Mobile device operating systems have grown larger and more sophisticated along with the more powerful processors. However, there is a problem plaguing both iOS and Android in the form of an app gap. Apps are wannabe pretenders when it comes to genuine software sophistication. No mobile device apps can compare on equal footing with desktop computer software. Both major platforms – iOS and Android – suffer from this problem.

There is nothing stopping software vendors from developing highly sophisticated mobile software, other than the fact that it’s typically just not worth it. For whatever reason, mobile device owners have a pervasive “it has to be free or very low cost” mentality. We are willing to spend upwards of a thousand dollars or even more for a high end mobile device, but balk at the idea of having to pay more than a few dollars for single apps.

If you have ever tried to push a mobile device to better take advantage of its powerful processing capabilities, you quickly run into a problem. Go beyond a certain level of task sophistication, and the apps typically fall flat very quickly. The ultimate test for mobile apps is to take a mobile device and plug it in to a 1080p or higher monitor. Attach a keyboard and if it’s an Android device, attach a mouse or trackpad. Try to use the mobile device and the installed apps like you would a full computer. For example, try to push the experience to its limits by editing a long, complex video and see how well it goes. The mobile software will play back high resolution videos without any trouble at all, but try to do something really productive and things quickly fall apart. The problem isn’t the processor, but the software.

The mobile app gap situation doesn’t look as if it will improve anytime soon. In the meantime, as mobile device owners and users there are a lot of questions we should be asking ourselves.

How much are you willing to pay for mobile device apps? What has been your experience? Have you ever paid for an app and then realized later that it was a waste of money? What is the most you have ever paid for a mobile app and why?

Why are people willing to pay sometimes hundreds of dollars for sophisticated commercial desktop class software without batting an eye, yet close their wallets when it comes to paid apps for mobile devices? Do people perceive mobile devices to have as big of a potential payoff as a desktop or laptop? If mobile computing devices don’t have the same payoff potential as a desktop or laptop, then why not? What is the difference between the two systems? What can be done to increase the potential payoff value of mobile computing devices?