I've been looking at the wide range of speech recognition apps for an article I'm working on for the magazine. Bing (free) is one that I haven't yet mentioned. As you likely know, Bing is Microsoft's powerful search engine. Microsoft calls it a “decision engine” that you can use to find information, restaurants and other businesses, images, show times, travel deals, flight information, weather forecasts, and walking or driving directions.
The free Dictionary.com app has nearly 1 million words and definitions, and it can be used offline. Like the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (also free), it now also lets you simply speak the word that you want to look up. It's powered by Nuance's highly accurate speech recognition technology. To use the speech feature, you'll need to have an Internet connection.
Vimeo has long been a top site for sharing videos, and was one of the first to offer a lot of high-definition content. Two days ago Vimeo launched their Vimeo app that includes much of the functionality of the website, such that you can use your iPhone to upload, manage, edit, and view video. The app lets you capture video, combine and edit clips, and add transitions, titles, and special effects. You can add music and recordings, and set the volume level.
I had the opportunity to see a demo of Phatware's Writepad at Macworld and was very impressed. It lets you simply write on the screen using your finger or a stylus pen rather than using the onscreen keyboard, and translates your writing into typed characters. You can then edit that text — copy, paste, insert characters, etc. — via simple gestures. The app has a ton of features, such as shorthand, which lets you enter just two characters to evoke frequently used words or phrases.
Infinite Skills Video Based Software Training is a free app for the iPad that gives you access to over 250 short videos that help you learn software such as Adobe Creative Suite 5, Microsoft Office, and AutoCAD. Each video is a few minutes long and shows you how to accomplish a specific task, such as correcting color casts in PhotoShop. The app requires an Internet connection, either WiFi or 3G.
These new accessories certainly caught my attention when I received a press release a number of days ago. They're made out of bamboo: cases for the iPhone and iPad, as well as earbuds. And for a desktop computer, there's a bamboo keyboard and mouse. Not only is it attractive, but they say it's better for the environment. Read more on Vivitar's site. These bamboo accessories are expected to be available the beginning of April from a variety of vendors. The earbuds will be priced at $19.99 and the cases at $29.99.
Speed.Dial ($0.99) is a simple app that lets you add contacts to your home screen. It puts an app-like icon on your home screen that includes the contact's picture and name. If you want to call the person, you just tap the icon. The app makes it quick and simple to add a contact.
I've been using alternate browsers for some time, mainly because I wasn't at all satisfied with Safari's tabbed browsing. I've used iCab quite a bit on my iPad, and like it a lot. I've also been using a preview copy of 360 Web Browser ($0.99), with version 3.0 finally being released in the App Store yesterday. This version is optimized for the iPad.
Most people are honest, at least here in rural Iowa. I know that if I lost my iPhone, they'd likely try to return it. But I've often wondered how easy it would be for them to contact me if they did find it, especially if they weren't familiar with the iPhone. One solution is to put your contact information on the lock-screen of your device, so that it's readily available if someone should find your iOS device. A free app, Take Me Home, lets you easily do this. The free version is fully functional, and comes with an attractive home screen.