Mobile apps to help whereever you are
When I was young, all I needed to know was "never accept candy from strangers." Today, that seems to be the least of our worries. Fortunately, the tools we have available to protect ourselves and the ones we love are more powerful…and more mobile than ever before.
Stay on top of your to-do list with these apps
When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone at MacWorld on January 9, 2007, he referred to it as an iPod, a phone, and an Internet mobile communicator in one device, but the launch of the App Store expanded that three-in-one concept. Now you can use the iPhone to track the news, sports, and weather; quickly locate restaurants, movies, public bathrooms, even your friends; play games, listen to music, or watch videos. In addition, a number of apps enhance its capabilities as a productivity tool.
I recently had the chance to chat with Zvika Ashkenazi, the CEO of MobileAppLoader.com and I was able to learn some very interesting things about his company, the services it provides and I also learned how to track App Store sales.
Zvika sent me a graphic detailing January 2010 metrics for DIY iPhone apps. According to the graphic, MobileAppLoader was responsible for creating 436 apps for their customers which include realtors, auto dealers, restaurants, and hotels to name just a few categories.
As you know from my previous posts here, a number of companies have launched in the last year or so to help people and businesses create their own applications, not just for iPhones, but also for other platforms like Android and Windows Mobile. Previously, this sort of service was unheard of. If one wanted software developed, it could get pretty pricey. For large corporations, this was considered 'the cost of business', but for individuals and smaller companies, personalized or customized software was often out of reach.
Now, some people themselves are talented programmers themselves and can make their own apps. Some companies have developers on staff, while some companies can afford to hire an outside developer for a specific project - at a cost of $5,000 to $25,000 - to develop an application from scratch, that kind of budget is out of the reach for many people. Of course, one can get it for less, but even so, a ball-park bargain-basement sort of figure is still around $2,500. And most aren't looking to create super-sophisticated software, and don't really need to consider spending that sort of money anyway.
At the present time, MobileAppLoader claims that they are the #1 Do-It-Yourself iPhone App company. These stats do not include companies which build apps from RSS feeds or companies with less than 30 apps. Zvika explained that he generated this information by typing the name of the developer into iTunes. Now that I know how to do this, I anticipate hours of fun
Since MobileAppLoader doesn't build their apps via RSS feeds, I was curious as to their process. It's done by what Zvika described as a unique "App in a Snap" Wizard. A user signs up for an account on their site, and selects their business category. Then they chose a design from Iron, Bronze, Silver and Gold offerings and upload four images and type in certain details (contact info, URLs, feeds, text, etc...) and finally hits 'submit'. Behind the scenes, the content is then converted to a native iPhone app using objective-C using the Apple X-code development tool, and that process is then followed by a a quick quality assurance to make sure everything is working properly before the app is sent to Apple for review.
Apps built from RSS feeds can be very handy, but MobileAppLoader is very proud of the real-time interactivity of the apps they build using this method. For example, they've built a number of apps for towing companies and the apps include the ability to tell the towing company where you've broken down, show them a picture of your car and ask them to come and get you. So the app makes use of notifications, GPS and the camera. And that's just one example. Auto dealer apps include the ability of the dealer to notify a customer of their next service appointment. Prices start at $59.99 for setup and $4.99 a month.
I like the idea of App Genie ($0.99), which is sort of a Swiss Army Knife of apps. It includes many of the most common tools you might need on your iPhone: tip calculator, currency converter, unit converter, weather, translator, battery level, barcode scanner, GPS locator, and many more. One app replaces many — a handy tool that you'll call upon often.
We travel around the world a lot, and with time zone shifts and exhaustive days a good alarm clock is a critical accessory to have. Due to baggage space restrictions, we have had to carry as many "Swiss Army knife" (multi-function) devices as possible. The iPhone has become our electronic Swiss Army knife, providing a traveler's delight of functionality from Alarm Clock to fight tracking to tide charting.
I've seen a number of posts around lamenting that various iPhone Alarm Clock applications can only play canned sounds or iPod tunes, but not Ringtones for an alarm sound (Although I've got to admit I can't imagine why anyone would want to think their phone was ringing at 6:00AM!?).
Actually, if your Alarm Ap supports iPod tune playing for alarm sounds, then, as they say, "You're in fat city".
To use a Ringtone for a
Forget cloud-computing, configure your own. If you need secure access to your files (from anywhere in the world), you might want to check out the myDitto solution From Dane-Elec. There's an iPhone app for it as well, and I'll get to the details of that in a minute, but essentially it's a storage unit (above left) that provides secure access to your files, and all you need is an iPhone (with the myDitto app), or a USB key (from a computer).
Melatonin is an alarm clock app for the iPhone, but unlike other alarm clocks, this one is peaceful and almost hypnotic!
An adorable yellow bird sits on a rock in a sunlight yard. When you’re ready to go to sleep, you tap the bird, and night begins to fall. The little bird says “Goodnight” and proceeds to twitter gently as the sun slowly goes down and the stars begin to twinkle. You can set how long you want sunset to last or skip this altogether.
The appearance of Dragon Dictation, which lets you speak into your phone to enter text, caused quite a stir, especially given that it's being made available initially for free. You can read Ken Burkhalter's blog post that gives a helpful review. However, note that Dragon Search is also available, and also free. It lets you do voice searches rather than having to tap in your search terms.
We've covered the $1.99 RedLaser app a couple times already in this blog. It's a barcode reader that lets you scan the barcode of a product you want to buy and then searches for stores that have a lower price. ShopSavvy is another such app, and it's free. It currently only works with iPhone 3.1 or higher. It was first available for the Android platform, and got a lot of attention. The iPhone version was released last month. Many of the reviews say it doesn't work as well as RedLaser, but some say that it works well if you follow the tips.