These new accessories certainly caught my attention when I received a press release a number of days ago. They're made out of bamboo: cases for the iPhone and iPad, as well as earbuds. And for a desktop computer, there's a bamboo keyboard and mouse. Not only is it attractive, but they say it's better for the environment. Read more on Vivitar's site. These bamboo accessories are expected to be available the beginning of April from a variety of vendors. The earbuds will be priced at $19.99 and the cases at $29.99.
Speed.Dial ($0.99) is a simple app that lets you add contacts to your home screen. It puts an app-like icon on your home screen that includes the contact's picture and name. If you want to call the person, you just tap the icon. The app makes it quick and simple to add a contact.
I've been using alternate browsers for some time, mainly because I wasn't at all satisfied with Safari's tabbed browsing. I've used iCab quite a bit on my iPad, and like it a lot. I've also been using a preview copy of 360 Web Browser ($0.99), with version 3.0 finally being released in the App Store yesterday. This version is optimized for the iPad.
Most people are honest, at least here in rural Iowa. I know that if I lost my iPhone, they'd likely try to return it. But I've often wondered how easy it would be for them to contact me if they did find it, especially if they weren't familiar with the iPhone. One solution is to put your contact information on the lock-screen of your device, so that it's readily available if someone should find your iOS device. A free app, Take Me Home, lets you easily do this. The free version is fully functional, and comes with an attractive home screen.
Last week Google released a new version of Google Search (free). This is a great app, with voice search and the Google Goggles feature that lets you search by taking a picture. The update has implemented a new interface that's pretty cool. If you swipe right in the search results, you'll get a menu along the left (as in the image) that lets you refine your search. Check out this video demo on PocketNow.
A lot of rumors are floating around regarding the iPhone 5. Most say that it will have roughly the same form factor, but that the screen will fill the entire width of the face of the device, that the back will be aluminum again, and that it'll have the same A5 dual core processor as the new iPad 2.
I can't believe I missed the release of Google Translate (free) last month. Or maybe I assumed it was just another app for text translation. But it is so much cooler than that. It can also do speech recognition, such that you canspeak the phrase or sentences that you want translated, and it will speak back to you the phrase or sentences in the target language. It's fun to play with. When you speak the text, it shows on-screen what it thought you said as well as a text translation. Then if you tap the speaker icon, it speaks the text.
I want one, of course. I called the Apple Store in Des Moines yesterday to see if they had any iPad 2s in stock. They said that they had a small number come in that morning — but that there were 100 people waiting in line when they opened the store. Those new iPads sold out fast. If, like me, you're in the market for one, it's a challenge to decide between AT&T and Verizon data plans, other things being equal. And also to decide whether the cheapest route, if you have both an iPhone and and iPad, is to pay the additional $20 /month for the Personal Hotspot feature on your iPhone rather than signing up for an iPad data plan. Two great articles help you sort this out.