My most used iPhone and iPad Apps in 2013

December 31, 2013

Ok, it’s the end of another year (wow, 2013 went by fast!), so it’s time for another look at what apps I actually used during the year. There are a ton of apps available and new ones are coming out all the time. Honestly I think I have app exhaustion. I just upgraded my iPhone and during the upgrade I took advantage of it to not bring all the apps I had before over to the new phone. Simplify my life a little.

I won’t say these are the best apps or even the coolest apps out there, but they are the apps I use almost everyday. For the iPhone:

  • Evernote – Still my number one app. Evernote is a note taking app that sync’s notes between my laptop, iPhone and iPad. If you do not have it go get it now.
  • Google Search – love the voice search mode, much better than Siri
  • Googe Maps – was using the mobile browser version, but now they have a nice app
  • Google Authenticator – please tell me you have 2-factor security turned on for your gmail
  • Google Chrome – much better browser and it links up to my browser on my laptop
  • Waze – free navigation tool, but I can say on my last few trips during the holidays Waze had issues connecting to it’s routing server so I ended up just using Google Maps. I missed out on the police notifications, but at least Google Maps worked.
  • TripIt – can’t be beat when traveling
  • Kindle – don’t like reading on my phone, but works great on my iPad
  • Dropbox – online storage
  • Box – online storage
  • Skype – I have a remote team so Skype is essential for communication. With DC traffic I end up running late sometimes so I can just open up Skype and dial in (hands free of course) to the Skype call from my phone. I have learned it is better to have someone else start the call when I do this, just in case I drop the call.
  • Keynote, Pages, and Numbers – I hate working on my iPhone, but I can and have in a pinch. Keynote, Pages and Numbers work well and I love them on my iPad and MacBook Pro.
  • Twitter – cause sometimes you just have to share and Facebook keeps changing their privacy policies (I do not even have the Facebook app on my phone).
  • Reminders and Calendar – these are the applications that are native to iOS. I was using apps for this functionality, but Apple has caught up and the native apps they provide more than meet my needs now.
  • Rdio – I have all my music in the cloud (Amazon, Google and iTunes Match) but I still find Rdio handy for music I don’t own and I have been using it more than the iOS Music app lately.

And here are the apps I find I use the most on my iPad at work:

  • Keynote – Apple’s version of PowerPoint
  • Numbers – Apple’s version of Excel
  • Pages – Apple’s version of Word
  • Evernote – note taking app that sync’s notes between my laptop, iPhone and iPad. Again, go get it now if you don’t have it!
  • Skype – IM and web calls
  • Adobe Connect, joinme, and Fuze – online meetings for when we need to screen share
  • Google Search – love the voice search mode, much better than Siri
  • Google Chrome – much better browser and it links up to my browser on my laptop
  • Kindle – I love the feel of a real book, but this way I always have my ebooks with me
  • Dropbox – online storage
  • Box – online storage
  • Feedly – news reader
  • BBC News – for news of course

And on my Mac I find I use:

  • Evernote – sync’s note between all my laptops, my iPad, and iPhone (also works with droid)
  • Google Chrome – best browser out there still
  • Caffeine – let’s me turn off the auto sleep mode when I am giving a presentation
  • Window Tidy – allows me to have screens side by side in an easy quick way. Honestly I haven’t used it much this year…
  • Pocket – allows me to save articles I find to read later
  • Skype – with our distributed team at work we are on Skype all day every day for IM and calls
  • Box and Dropbox – again
  • ClamXav – antivirus for Mac
  • And I find I am actually using the native iOS Calendar and Reminder apps on my MacBook Pro now.
  • Oh, you are using Grab (in the utilities folder under applications)for capturing screen shots, right?

If the apps I use aren’t what you are looking for you can find the Apple Design Award winners from WWDC2013 at https://developer.apple.com/wwdc/events/awards/ (and I agree Letterpress is addictive).  And Apple has their best of 2013 up on the iTunes store now.

Hope the list is helpful. Happy New Year!


iPad is one of the safest computing devices you can use

July 4, 2013

I haven’t addressed this since 2010 so it is worth repeating again.  The iPad is one of the safest computing devices you can use, probably more secure than your PC, but you have to set it up properly.

First, the biggest security risk probably is physically losing the device. iPads are a great size and easy to carry everywhere, which also makes them easy to leave behind or forget. Luckily for us Apple gave us “Find My iPad.”  Under Settings-> iCloud->turn on Find My iPad.  You also have to have location services turned on, so go to Settings->Privacy-> then turn on Find My iPad (while you are there check to see what other apps are using location services).  And of course you have to have an iCloud account.  You should also enable Remote Wiping, which allows you to delete the data on a lost iPad (as long as it can connect to the Internet). But again to do this you will need an iCloud account which is configured in Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> iCloud.  This service also allows you to remotely send a signal to the device to play a sound and/or to display your phone number and a message that the device is lost and ask the person that finds it to call you.  And if all that fails, to wipe the device. It’s a great service!  Find my iPad is actually misnamed, because the same service works on iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, iMacs, basically all your Apple devices.

Also, all iPads ship with hardware encryption built-in, but you need to enable it. The simplest way to do that is to set a passcode on your iPad. As soon as you do, your data will be automatically encrypted. To enable a passcode, go to Settings -> General -> Passcode Lock and then enter a four-digit code twice. If you’d like to be extra-safe, on that same page, you can turn the Simple Passcode option to off then you can then use longer codes. You should also set Require Passcode for no more than 5 minutes and turn Erase Data on.  And please turn on Auto-Lock!

Note: if you have small kids that play with your iPad, you may not want to turn on Erase Data.  Erase Data will erase all the data on your iPad if the wrong passcode is entered 10 times. Something a little one just might do.

You can find more information at:

http://www.apple.com/ipad/business/it-center/security.html

and

http://images.apple.com/ipad/business/docs/iOS_6_Security_Sep12.pdf

 

And if you use wifi hotspots like those you find at Starbucks, McDonald’s, or at hotels / airports please use a personal VPN!

https://www.witopia.net/support/why/
http://netsecurity.about.com/od/perimetersecurity/a/Why-You-Need-A-Personal-Vpn-Service.htm

I personally like https://www.witopia.net  and the price point is good.  But you can find other options at:  http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/readerpicks/tp/The-Best-VPN-Service-Providers.htm

On my iPhone I have done all the above (again, please at least turn on a passcode and auto-lock) plus I have also turned OFF “Siri” and “Reply with Message” under “Allow Access When Locked” on my iPhone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links:

https://yourcto.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/security-on-your-ipad/

http://www.apple.com/ipad/business/it-center/security.html

http://images.apple.com/ipad/business/docs/iOS_6_Security_Sep12.pdf

https://www.witopia.net/support/why/

http://netsecurity.about.com/od/perimetersecurity/a/Why-You-Need-A-Personal-Vpn-Service.htm

http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/readerpicks/tp/The-Best-VPN-Service-Providers.htm


Are you a VIP or a Favorite?

June 14, 2013

Why does Apple make it so hard to quite my phone? I was getting tried of my iPhone chirping and beeping so I turned off sounds. Well the phone still vibrates. All the time. It vibrates for phone calls, ok it’s a phone so guess it should. Vibrates for text messages, again it’s a phone. Vibrates for each email. Vibrates for calendar alerts. Vibrates for weather. Vibrates for news. It doesn’t stop! I was in a meeting today and thought, oh, I’ll just turn it face down. And of course nothing happened, it still vibrated. I love my iPhone (and iOS). I love Apple in general. Apple normally just gets it right. How could they not have a “silence when turned upside down” option? Didn’t I have that with my Droid years ago? Well anyway, they don’t (there is a hack out there, but that is another post).

So, how can I limit the annoying buzzing and vibrating on my iPhone? Well first, under Settings Apple gives us a Do Not Disturb option. I had it set up to silence alerts late at night, but it was also a quick way to silence all those disrupting alerts during the meeting. Glad I found it after the “hey, I’ll just turn my phone face side down” didn’t work.

Tonight I started playing with the Notifications section under Settings. Apple gives you quite a bit of control. First I found that under the Do Not Disturb option under Notifications in Settings you can over write the Do Not Disturb silencing for your favorite contacts. How do you set up your favorites you ask? Well that is pretty easy. Just go to your contacts, select the contact you want to add to your favorites scroll down and click on Add to Favorites and add the phone number of the person you want to favorite. Not too bad. And now if my Mom calls in the middle of the night her call will still go through. One thing to note: the order you select your favorites is the order they will show up in your favorites list in the Phone app.

So, you would think since this is Apple once you have your favorites set up you could use that setting for email too right? No. Not that easy. To control notifications in the Mail app you can over ride the settings for each email account for VIPs. Not favorites, VIPs. Really? VIPs? Ok, fine, so how do you set VIPs? That’s not as simple; it’s not hard, but not obvious either. You would think you would set VIPs in your Contacts, right? That’s how you set up Favorites, so it would be similar, right? No, you would be wrong. Nothing like that. You actually have to go to your Mail app to set up your VIPs. Go to the Mail app, select an email from the person you want to make a VIP, click on the name, scroll down and select Add to VIP. Now you can set up your phone to alert when you get an email from a VIP, but silence for anyone else.

So by using Do Not Disturb and setting up my Favorites and VIPs I can turn off most alerts so I have less disruptions during meetings, but the important calls and messages still get through.


Traveling to Canada and getting real tired of the phone fees!

June 3, 2013

So, I love my job.  No really.  I LOVE MY JOB.  One of the perks of my job is I get to (ok, sometimes have to – it is a job after all) travel.  I like a little travel now and then.  I go to some cool places; Austin, Boston, Seattle, LA, and even Newport Beach was ok.  And I have been going to Toronto quite a bit lately now.  It’s a nice city. I always have a good time there, but I am scared to death to turn my phone on.  I hear the horror stories of people making a few calls and ending up with $200+ phone bills. Or forgetting to turn off cellular and getting a $4,000 bill for data.   So the last couple of times I’ve traveled to Toronto I call Verizon ahead of time and turn on the international plan so Canada is covered, but I am getting really tired of the fees Verizon Wireless charges for traveling outside of the US.  This last trip I didn’t even use my phone at all except when I was on wifi and the fee was still $25.

So, I am looking at my alternatives.  Even though we are trading partners and some people say Canada is the 51st State up north, I can not find a US cell provider that offers reasonable coverage and rates in the US and Canada.  So do I buy a cheap unlocked phone and buy a SIM card when I am up there next?  I did that years ago with an old iPhone 3. I just read about Truphone’s Tru SIM international cards, but it’s pretty easy and probably cheaper to just buy a cheap SIM card once I get to where I am going.

Some guys that use to work for me bought an unlocked mifi in Singapore and then got a local SIM card so they could not only get their phones on wifi, but it also worked for their laptops.  And my iPad doesn’t get cellular service while I am in Canada either, so maybe that would be nice. Seems easier than the phone, but I foresee technical issues.

Honestly, I am getting tired of paying my standard Verizon Wireless bill here in the US and then also paying $20 a month for my iPad.  So is there an alternative mifi I can use in the US and in Canada (even better if it works in Europe too)?  I have looked at Karma and FreedomPop.  I love Karma’s pay for what you use model.  And they both seem very reasonable (much much cheaper than Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or T-mobile) and both have pretty good coverage in the DC area.  But neither work very well in Maine (or any other less populated area) and neither has coverage at all anywhere in Canada (or Europe).  So I do not see that route fixing my entire problem, at least until they expand their coverage significantly.

It won’t help me in the States, but if I plan ahead I could rent a XCom Global International mifi Hotspot.  But at almost $18 a day (plus you pay for shipping) that will quickly turn out to be more than I have been paying Verizon Wireless.

So, I am looking at Boingo.  Boingo looks like a win win – 1) it solves my $20 per month iPad fee from Verizon and 2) I’d be able to get online while in Toronto (and they say most of Europe too).  And I’d save money!  For Boingo’s mobile only plan, it’s just $8 a month for two devices.   From looking at their map they seem to have decent coverage in the DC area.  And I checked Austin, Boston, LA, and Seattle seem to have good coverage too.  And it looks like they have saturated the area around the University of Toronto, so I’d get excellent coverage there too.  Anyone have any hands-on experience with Boingo?  Should I ditch my iPad’s Verizon wireless plan and go Boingo instead?  It looks like I’d still get coverage here in DC and everywhere else I travel (including Toronto) and save $12 a month to boot.   I’d love to hear from people subscribing (or that use to subscribe) to Boingo about their experience.


Amazon Cloud Player vs. Google Music vs. iTunes Match

January 11, 2013

Recently I was looking at the cloud based music storage services offered by Google, Apple, and Amazon. They all have cloud based music storage offerings finally. Google’s offering is free, but limited to 20,000 songs. Apple Match is $24.99 a year, but allows you to store 25,000 songs (unlimited songs that are purchased through the iTunes store) and, of course, it works seamlessly with iTunes.  And Amazon’s offer is also $24.99 a year but allows you to store up to an incredible 250,000 songs!

Google Music

  • First, it’s free!
  • 20,000 songs, which should be plenty for 95% of the people out there
  • Google has an app that automatically scans your iTunes and matches what is already on Google Match and then uploads what isn’t already there
  • On the Mac and PC you can download music from Google Match to your device
  • Google also brings over playlists and ratings
  • And of course Google has made it easy to share music via Google +
  • Songs purchased in Google Play are automatically uploaded to the cloud
  • Google has an app for Android, but there isn’t an app for iOS (iPhone or iPads) devices (but you can access it from Safari and use the “add to home screen” option)

Apple iTunes Match

  • $24.99 a year
  • 25,000 songs (unlimited songs that are purchased through the iTunes store)
  • Allows you to download songs to your device
  • Match only uploads the songs that iTunes can’t match to what Apple already has in the cloud.  Much faster then uploading your entire library.
  • Seamless with iTunes
  • Matched songs are upgraded to 256 kbps AAC DRM free

Amazon Cloud Player

  • 250 songs are free, or
  • 250,000 songs for $24.99 per year (10x more than the other offers)
  • US only right now
  • Amazon provides an export app that uploads MP3 songs and albums to the Amazon Cloud Player
  • The songs that Amazon can match are upgraded to 256 kbps, even those purchased in the past
  • MP3’s bought on Amazon are automatically uploaded to the Amazon Cloud Player and don’t count towards the limit
  • And now Amazon offers AutoRip – when you buy CDs with the AutoRip designation from Amazon they immediately give you MP3s automatically in the Amazon Cloud Player for no extra cost. You can start listening right away, you don’t have to wait for the CD to arrive and rip it yourself.
  • Amazon Cloud Player works everywhere!  As they say “on the web, Kindle Fire, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Android devices, Sonos, and Roku”

So I was thinking through how to decide which to go with and a couple of thoughts came to me:

  • If you have an Android smart phone and have less then 20,000 songs in your library then it’s a no brainer, go with Google Music! And did I mention it’s free!
  • If you have an iPhone and use a Mac (and use iTunes) and have less then 25,000 songs in your library then again, it’s kind of a no brainer to go with iTunes Match.
  • But, if you have more then 25,000 songs and live in the US, then you have to look at Amazon Cloud Player

I personally ended up going with Amazon Cloud Player for the capacity. Also, I rarely buy music from iTunes, it’s normally the most expensive. And Google Music isn’t even a thought when I am looking to buy an album.  Amazon has a huge library and runs specials and discounts all the time. The other selling point was I can get to my music from all my devices.

Links:
music.google.com
www.amazon.com/cloudplayer
www.apple.com/itunes/itunes-match/


My most used iPhone and iPad Apps in 2012

December 30, 2012

I won’t say these are the best apps or even the coolest apps out there, but they are the apps I use almost everyday. I have bought many apps that just didn’t pan out for one reason or the other, but here are the ones I find I actually use. For the iPhone:

  • Evernote – note taking app that sync’s notes between my laptop, iPhone and iPad
  • OmniFocus – awesome todo list app that sync’s with my Mac, iPhone and iPad
  • Google Search – love the voice search mode, much better than Siri
  • Googe Maps – was using the mobile browser version, but now they have a nice app
  • Google Authenticator – please tell me you have 2-factor security turned on for your gmail
  • Google Chrome – much better browser and it links up to my browser on my laptop
  • Waze – wish I had found this earlier – awesome navigation tool and it’s free!
  • TripIt – can’t be beat when traveling
  • Pocket – syncs up all the reading I should be doing between my Mac, iPhone and iPad
  • Kindle – don’t like reading on my phone, but works great on my iPad
  • Dropbox – online storage
  • Box – online storage
  • Just downloaded Dragon so I can’t say much about it yet…

And here are the apps I find I use the most on my iPad at work:

  • Keynote – Apple’s version of PowerPoint
  • Numbers – Apple’s version of Excel
  • Pages – Apple’s version of Word
  • Mindjet – best mind mapping app I have found so far and I have tried a few now and it syncs back to my Mac
  • Evernote – note taking app that sync’s notes between my laptop, iPhone and iPad
  • OmniFocus – awesome todo list app that sync’s with my Mac
  • Skype – IM and web calls
  • Adobe Connect – online meetings (we use adobe connect at work for our online meetings often when we need to screen share)
  • Google Search – love the voice search mode, much better than Siri
  • Google Chrome – much better browser and it links up to my browser on my laptop
  • Kindle – I love the feel of a real book, but this way I always have my ebooks with me
  • Dropbox – online storage
  • Box – online storage

And on my Mac I find I use:

  • Evernote – sync’s note between all my laptops, my iPad, and iPhone (also works with droid)
  • Mindjet – again the best mind mapping software I have found so far
  • Caffeine – let’s me turn off the auto sleep mode when I am giving a presentation
  • Window Tidy – allows me to have screens side by side in an easy quick way
  • Pocket – allows me to save articles I find to read later
  • Skype – with our distributed team at work we are on Skype all day every day for IM and calls
  • ClamXav – antivirus for Mac

Hope the list is helpful. Happy New Year!


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