It's that time of year again — time to give the government its due. And Tax Answers, a free app from H&R Block just released this week, is here to help you. I'm astonished, actually, at what it offers. It's not simply an app with a ton of information and tips. Rather, it connects you to H&R Block tax experts who are available to answer your questions — also free. The app connects you to the Get It Right(SM) Community which is manned by 1,000 H&R Block tax professionals ready to share their expertise.
MailTones at $2.99 is a bit pricey, but it's a great idea and may suit a particular need you have. It lets you assign different sounds to different e-mail senders and uses the iPhone's push notification to alert you when you receive important e-mails. This is apparently the only app that offers this function. And in their just-released update they've added a feature popular with IT managers: messages to their pagers can be forwarded to their iPhones and use a unique sound to alert them that they have a support call that needs attention. And if they're sleeping when that alert comes through?
New today in the App Store is Nature Images, a free collection of 108 closeup nature photos for use as wallpapers for your iPhone or iPod touch. The press release says that these images have long been available on other platforms and are among the most popular wallpapers in the world. Once you select an image is selected, you tap a button to save it to your photo album. Then, as you likely know, you can use the Photos application to set it as a wallpaper (the app includes simple instructions).
Even though you have Voice Memo on your iPhone you might also be interested in the free Pocket Dictate, which lets you make recordings and then tap the send button to e-mail it to your typist from within the app. You can also send it via ftp. The app automatically compresses the WAV file. There are other useful controls, too, including the ability to overwrite and insert. A voice activation feature lets you set it so that it only records when you're speaking. And while it's designed to emulate — and replace — a dictaphone, obviously it could be used for other purposes, such as interviews.
Coinciding with CES, Beckett Media announced the availability of Guide to Phone Apps magazine, which covers three platforms: iPhone, Blackberry, and Android. The press release describes it as, "the #1 source for all your iPhone and BlackBerry app news and reviews." I beg to differ, of course. The first issue is 100 pages, like our own magazine, and covers apps in a variety of categories, including games, travel, social networking, utilities, and more.
Following the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the TidBITS website gave the "most insane technology" award to Parrot AR Drone, a hovercraft that you control with your iPhone or iPod touch and that has an onboard camera. It was demoed at CES but isn't expected to be available until the end of this year. The video makes it look like great fun.
The free ICE App is one that everyone should have — and hopefully no one will need to use. The idea is simple: everyone is supposed to have an ICE contact in their phone, "ICE" standing for "in case of emergency." ICE App suggests that you put its icon in the upper right-hand corner of the main screen. The app lets you enter four categories of info: who you are, your emergency contacts, medical info, and allergies.
Zinio is a leader in electronic versions of major national magazines, with their editions including our very own iPhone Life magazine (4 issues for $10). Zinio does a good job of digitally replicating the experience of reading a print magazine. And now they have a Zinio Magazine Reader out for the iPhone. You need to be a Zinio subscriber, or you can purchase single issues or subscription via the app.