Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.
Translate Now! is a new free app that uses Google Translate to let you do translations between 36 languages. You can easily paste text into the translation window and copy the translation text to the clipboard. Plus, you can e-mail translated text from within the application. The application automatically increases the text size for languages such as Hindi or Japanese. It works with iPhone 3.0 software and requires an Internet connection. Also available is Free Translator, which also uses Google Translate and which is ad-supported.
You probably have people who are hard to buy for and could use a bit of inspiration for ideas. Try 2,100 Gift Ideas ($1.99). It offers gift ideas from hundreds of online stores. The gifts range from electronics and jewelry to things you might not even have known existed. You can choose gifts from various categories, such as Mom, Dad, Kids, Him, Her. Plus, you can sort by price so that you only see suggestions in a particular price range. You give your iPhone a shake, and it then starts serving up gift ideas.
[Edited this 12/9/09 to reflect the app's new name.]
I badly want Waze to be a success because the idea is just so perfect: a free navigation app that integrates user-generated traffic information. So, you're stuck in traffic someplace, you whip our your iPhone, and let the world know that they ought to take a different route if they're traveling the same road that you are. It's a wonderful example of crowdsourcing. The trick is to get lots of people to use it. And increasingly people are. But if you live someplace where there's not much coverage, the app has less value than other places where it's really caught on.
Apple has recently added a new listing in the App Store called Top Grossing apps. It appears in the right margin under the listings of Paid Apps and Free Apps. Simply put, the top grossing apps are the ones that are making the most money — an indication of how much they're valued. If somebody's willing to plunk down $9.99 for Call of Duty, the current top-grossing app, it must be pretty good. If you look at the ratings for the top apps in this category, they're typically very high.
RedLaser ($1.99) is currently one of the top-selling apps, and for good reason: It's a great aid to shopping. The concept is very simple — the app uses your iPhone's camera to scan a barcode, and then the app does an online product search to find the lowest price among hundreds of thousands of retailers. Maybe you're in a mall and you scan an item and find that a different store in the same mall has it for a lower price. Features include the ability to limit your search to lower prices in nearby stores, e-mail a results list, e-mail a barcode, and a favorites feature for keeping a wish list of products.
If you're hitting the stores on Black Friday but are in need of gift ideas, you might try the free Hey Santa app, which has over 2,000 gift suggestions based on your budget and the recipient's taste and age. There are 15 different combined settings for gift suggestions. Also check out Christmas Gifts List ($0.99), which no only helps you manage your list but also has a built-in budgeting feature.
Earlier this month there were news reports about a worm that was capable of infecting jailbroken iPhones, but the affect it had on an iPhone was relatively benign. However, a report yesterday on CNet said that a new worm is out and about in a number or countries and that it's capable of stealing data from your iPhone and putting your phone under the control of a bot. As you may know, a jailbroken iPhone is one that has been reconfigured so that it can work with services other than AT&T. So if you haven't messed with your iPhone in this regard, you don't have anything to worry about.
There's an app for everything, including Thanksgiving. MacWorld reviews eight of the apps, ranging from recipes to a TurkeyTimer. Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes ($1.99) gets the highest rating — four mice on a five-mouse scale. Each of the 60 recipes includes a picture of the dish, description, list of ingredients, and steps for preparing. You can mark favorites, and automatically generate a shopping list.
It's amazing to think that there's an app devoted to a specific shopping day — November 27, the Friday after Thanksgiving. In fact, there are a number of them. TGI Black Friday is a free app that gives you access to over 8,000 Black Friday deals from all the major retailers — before they come out in newspapers. You can browse the deals, search for specific items, create a shopping list within the app of those that you want to focus on, compare prices to confirm you're getting the best deals, and more. You can view deals by store or category, and also view the most popular deals.