The paradox of dictionaries has always been: how do you look up a word if you don't know how to spell it? My students with dyslexia had an especially difficult time with this. And now the solution is at hand — and free. The most powerful voice recognition technology, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, has now been added to the free Merriam-Webster Dictionary app. You can look up a word simply by saying it. Hurray!
I'm not quite sure what to think about Wikileaks and their release of government documents. I can see a certain merit in the arguments relating to transparency. But on the other hand, it just seems like some things need to be kept private, and that the careless release of documents can endanger lives and diplomacy. No doubt things will become more clear as we move deeper into the era of a worldwide network and sharing of information. If you're eager to see government secrets via your iOS device, the new Wikileaks App ($1.99) is now available.
An eye-opening article in the Wall Street Journal details the extent and kind of information that your apps collect about you and share with advertisers. In their tests of 50 different iPhone apps, they found that Pandora, for example, sent age, gender, location, and phone identifiers to various ad networks. It's a bit scary. According to the article, Apple says that they review apps to make sure that you're asked your permission before certain kinds of information, such as your location, is shared. But the WSJ found that this policy is skirted, and that the game Pumpkin Maker, for example, sends information about your location to an ad network.
The paid version of PocketCloud has been among the top-grossing apps in the App Store. And now a free version of PocketCloud is available that lets you access your Mac or PC remotely. The video shows how it works. The paid version adds a few features, such as a file browser.
The Daily App Dream website is popular with gamers — because you can get paid games for free. Each day they make three paid games available. Now there's a free Daily App Dream app that gives you access to new free apps every day. Also, if you're interested in apps that have just become free, check out iOSnoops, which posts updates several times a day about newly free apps. They also have good articles.
End-of-the-year lists help to increase your app literacy. If you keep seeing some of the same apps on the lists, then these apps probably deserve a spot on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Time magazine offers their top 10 iPhone apps from 2010. Many of my favorites are here, such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Dragon Dictation.
This is a video of a live performance of the North Point iBand performing Christmas carols exclusively using various apps on the iPad, plus an iPhone. The sound is delightful — and amazing what they're able to do. This website lists the apps used.
A friend of mine has developed an app that I hope I never have to use: SpeechMaker. Seriously, I used to sort of enjoy giving public talks, especially in the early days of the Internet, when I was an evangelist for this new medium. Had I an occasion to give a talk today, I'd consider using SpeechMaker ($11.99). It sounds like an ideal tool. It gives you what you need to create, practice, hear, and give speeches. It comes with some famous speeches built in, including some with audio. The app lets you record and archive your speeches.
Apple now has a selection of refurbished iPads available, with the low-end model selling for $429, and the 64GB iPad WiFi going for $599 — which is $100 off the regular price. You can read more on Yahoo News. Act fast, as some of these are marked as being available for a limited time.