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.
As we approach the end of May, a lot of people are looking ahead to their summer vacation. If you're planning to visit a national park, you'll want to download Chimani National Parks (free), which has information and news about the nation's 394 National Parks System locations. The app includes details on all national parks, monuments, memorials, seashores, recreational areas, sites, battlefields, historical parks, and parkways. It also gives you access to the news provided by the National Park Traveler website.
I haven't yet tried Infinite Walls (free), but it seems like a great idea. The app lets you search Google Images for photos of subjects that interest you. The app automatically resizes the files for use as wallpapers on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, automatically detecting which device you're using. In-app purchases let you add more features, such as a vault where you can store images and have access to them without an Internet connection.
The makers of SoundHound have just released Hound (free), which lets you do a search just by speaking the song name, artist, or band. The app then gives you access to song previews, lyrics, album art, videos, artist bios, album info, tour dates, and more.
Opera Mini Web browser (free) was hugely popular right from its first launch. And now a new version has just been released that supports both iPad models as well as the retina display on the iPhone 4. Like many people, I prefer alternates to Safari mainly because of their superior implementation of tabbed browsing. Opera Mini not only offers that but is also notable because it greatly speeds browsing — as much as 6 times faster.
In an earlier post, I pointed you to Catalog Spree, an attractive app with about a dozen catalogs from major vendors. And now comes Catalogue by The Find (free), with over 40 catalogs — Williams-Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, Sephora, Nordstrom, Saks, eBags, Sundance, Uggs, and many more.
Apps that assist you with parking seem to be a perfect application for the iPhone. You'll never again need to be concerned about remembering where you parked your car. Parkbud ($1.99) lets you easily set a timer and an alert so that you don't get fined for overtime parking. It also lets you set your location and guides you back to your car. It includes a feature that lets you find nearby parking garages. Other features include a notepad in case you want to make a note regarding parking restrictions, etc., and a camera function for taking a photo of your location.
Apple has purchased the iCloud domain name, and rumors have been hot that they'll reveal their new service at WWDC early next month. They've negotiated deals with the four major music labels, and it appears that iCloud will be a giant jukebox in the sky — any song you want, whenever you want it. One goal is the convenience of having all of your music available from any of your computers or devices without having to sync. You can read more in the New York Times.
Just launched yesterday, the free video app Plizy, bills itself as a combination of Flipboard and Pandora. It offers channels of video and uses an intelligence engine to generate videos based on your interests.
Soonr announced today the first cloud service with integrated editing for the iPad via their Soonr - Workplace app (free). Of course, there are other options, such as using an app such as Office2 to directly edit Microsoft Office documents stored in Dropbox. But Soonr goes much further. You can store, share, access, and sync files, as well as edit Microsoft Office files both online and offline from within the Soonr app.
I like to gather novel uses of the iPhone and recently did an article for the magazine on a couple dozen apps that let you use the camera for doing things other than taking pictures or videos. Now I'm starting to be fascinated by the various ways the motion sensor can be used. A new app called Move'n Call ($1.99) lets you make a call with just a wave of your hand. As the video shows, first you train your iPhone to recognize a gesture and then you associate that gesture with a contact. Then to call the person, you simply make that gesture and your iPhone dials the contact.