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.
Apple has posted their annual iTunes Rewind, which reports the most popular downloads across all of their product categories, including iPhone and iPad apps. For both the iPhone and iPad you can see the overall top apps of the year — free and paid and top grossing — as well as the top apps in all of the App Store categories. The Hot Trends page covers other categories, such as augmented reality, children, personal training, zombies, and more. This is an incredible resource.
The iPad has been characterized as a device that's more for consuming media than for productivity. Yet there are a lot of people out there who are intent on using it as a computer. And there are an increasing number of productivity apps. Macworld has a great comparative review of office apps for the iPad.
A post on DigiTimes says that the iPad 2 will begin shipping from the manufacturer in February and will go on sale in April. Of course, no word from Apple. CNET says that analysts are speculating that it will have a front-facing camera and will be dual mode — that is, will work with both CDMA and GSM networks. That's something I'd like to see.
Google today launched their new Google ebookstore and Google Books app (free). They say that the store has over 400,000 books available for purchase and over 2 million free ebooks. As is typical, the app lets you change the font and search inside the book. It also has night-reading mode and offline reading mode. Your books are stored in the cloud. Read more about the using the iOS app on their website.
The iPhone now has a bulit-in tethering option — that is, using your iPhone's data connection to give your laptop computer or other device access to the Internet. But that Internet connection can only be shared with one device via a USB connection. No WiFi option. Until now. The Nexaira Business Class II is a wireless router that gets its Internet connection from your iPhone and shares it via WiFi to other devices. It's not cheap, at $189.99, and it's not as portable as the MiFi.
You need to calibrate this so that it's accurate, so I haven't taken the time to try it. But they claim that you can actually use your iPhone as a thermometer. You can see a video of the process of calibrating the Thermos app ($1.99), and then see it actually measure the temperature, on YouTube.
This is a cool new idea. GPSNotifier for iPhone 4 ($1.99) sounds an alarm when you're in a specified location. It's an alarm based not on time but on where you are. Want to remember to pick up a specific item next time you're near a Walmart store? Set an alarm. Although a great concept, one limitation of the app is its granularity: it's limited by the number of cell phone towers in your area, such that you might only be able to specify that you're within one mile or more of the location you have in mind. Still, it could be quite useful.