Saturday, February 21, 2009

AT&T 4G Network By 2011?

iPhone Freak is reporting that AT&T plans to roll out its 4G network in two years.  I'm not sure if the 3G speed/dropped calls problem is still prevalent after what Apple and AT&T has been doing, but it seems that we are moving very quickly to yet another system that could cause future problems.  On the other hand, 4G is about 15 times faster than 3G.  Here in Honolulu, I have never had problems with the 3G network so I can really recommend the iPhone to people here.

I'm sure Sprint's decision to go 4G first has something to do with this.  And perhaps, AT&T isn't crazy about streaming video on 3G but would be more willing to do that on the 4G network.  I'm not sure if Apple will keep the iPhone exclusive to AT&T, but I wouldn't be surprised if a 4G iPhone also comes out in 2011.  Just something to think about when (and if) a new iPhone comes out this summer.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Marvel Motion Comics Coming To iPhone

If you're a fan of comics, like me, but do not have any desire to go out and buy comics then Marvel's new Motion Comics could be for you!
Marvel Motion Comics is a new way to enjoy your favorite superheroes on your iPhone and iPod Touch.  The comic characters literally come alive with simple motion and actors providing their voices.  The motion comic I will definitely get is "The Astonishing X-Men."  I'm not sure how much it will be priced but I'm hoping it will not be more than $5.

Here's a sample of a motion comic:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday's FREE iPhone Apps

i Love Katamari Lite [iTunes link] - This is the free version of the fun game by Namco. I was hesitant to buy the full game at $7.99 but I really had a lot of fun playing the free one.  Basically you have to roll a ball and pick up items.  As you get bigger, you can pick up BIGGER items.  I'm now considering buying the full game - perhaps at a sale price. At Bat Lite [iTunes link] - For those who have never used the At Bat app from the last baseball season, here's your chance to see all of the features first-hand for FREE.  This app will provide everything the paid app eventually will for the regular season.  It will have stats for the World Baseball Classic and for some Spring Training games.  If you are a die-hard fan of one or more teams, At Bat is a must-have.  I'm going to buy it again.

UPDATE:  For those who want to know how much At Bat is going to cost here's a guess:  last year's app cost $4.99 when I bought it on July 10th (yes, a day before the iPhone 3G was released).  That gave me scores for the last 2.5 months of the season.  I hope the price will be $4.99.  But at the same time, I could see the price being DOUBLE that.  $9.99 isn't unheard of for an app.  As the season goes on, the price point will get lower because there will be less games to cover.

gNotes [iTunes link] - Now that my iPhone is synced with Google Calendar and Contacts, syncing up with Google Notebook would also be useful.  gNotes does exactly that.  The app is free for a limited time.  Performance is wonderful! Syncing is instantaneous.  I'll need to use this a little more to give a more balanced review.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gambling Regulators Worried About Card-Counting App

Nevada gambling regulators are warning casinos about a card-counting app for the iPhone and iPod Touch that can, according to an Associated Press report, "illegally help players beat the house in blackjack."
Card counting is not illegal but using a device to count cards is.  It's also interesting to point out that one of the members of the Nevada Gaming Control Board says that there hasn't been any reports of the program being used in Nevada.  So, I suppose this warning is preemptive?  I wonder which app got them worried?

Card Counter [iTunes link] teaches you how to count cards and its current description on iTunes almost takes credit for scaring the Nevada Gaming Control Board!  Card Counting Practice [iTunes link]  also teaches a card-counting technique.

But, the real culprit could be A Blackjack Card Counter [iTunes link].  It even has an "As Seen On CNN" banner.  For most part though, all of these apps have a warning that using the app in a casino is illegal.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday's Free iPhone Apps

ICQ [iTunes link] - The grandfather of all instant messaging clients now has an iPhone app.  I used to have an ICQ number way back.  But since I haven't used it, it looks like they erased it.  Well, I can still use my AIM account with this app.  But, really, until push notifications come out or Apple decides to allow one program to run in the background all instant messaging apps, with the possible exceptions of BeejiveIM and Palringo, are fairly useless.  But, it doesn't hurt to get ready before Apple makes that announcement.

TapeMe Voice Recorder with File Transfer [iTunes link] - You should grab voice recorder apps while they are free.  They usually don't stay free for very long.  This one is very simple.  It was easy to record my voice and the clarity was good.  If you have  a Mac with Wi-Fi, you can wirelessly transfer your audio to your computer (after downloading their client for your desktop).  Having a Windows client would make this app much better.

FedEx Mobile For iPhone [iTunes link] - If you use FedEx a lot and you already have a login with its website, then this app is for you.  You can track your packages the iPhone when you're on the go.  Remember, this app requires a login so register beforehand.  While this is not useful for me right now, I can see this being used for business.  And any app that makes the iPhone a better business phone is great in my book.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

FREE iPhone Apps For HIM & HER!

Give the gift of an iPhone app on this Valentine's Day and there's an app for HIM and HER and both are FREE for a limited time!

For HIM -  iCatchall Tools: 9+ Apps In One [iTunes link] - Right now,
 there's 10 functions with this app, some more useful than others.  If you don't already own a file storage app, the one in this app will probably suffice.  It is not as good as DataCase or Air Sharing, but it's a steal if you can get this app for free.  Landscape mode is not supported in the file storage utility.  There's also a level (okay), Rock/Paper/Scisscors game (okay), flashlight
 (why did people pay for this?), ruler (both inches and centimeters), hourglass timer (which you already had with your iPhone clock), personal massager (okay), tip calculator (a barebones one) and the ridiculous "Remember 1 Thing" utility.  If you paid for a bunch of these apps already, I don't think this app will replace all of them.  But, if you want these functions and don't have it already this app is a great way to save space on your home page.

For HER - Soldes Lite [iTunes link] -  Here's a great
 app for that woman who loves to shop.  Soles Lite will help you to calculate multiple sale items so you can figure out how much you want to spend.  The Lite version can do up to three calculations.  You might want to pony up $.99 for the full version [iTunes link] if you need more than three.  I'm not a big shopper but I've been waiting for an app like this.  For the woman who loves her iPhone and shopping, I'm sure she'll like this app in addition to flowers and chocolates.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Two New Streaming Video iPhone Apps

I found a couple of really cool apps today.  Both stream video without any additional hardware, unlike Orblive or the upcoming SlingPlayer.

Live Events [iTunes link]- Orb has outdone itself by providing a free streaming video app.  If you've read this blog before you know I'm a fan of Orblive - an iPhone app that lets me watch live television on my iPhone.  Well, the Live Events app is mainly just for live events.  When there are no live events planned, you can check out some streaming webcams.  In fact, it has the webcam for the Duke Kahanamoku statue right here in Waikiki!
You can view the streams with EDGE, 3G and Wi-Fi.
Although the webcams are filed under Wi-Fi, you can still check them out when you're on 3G.  Very good free app.  This is what the Ustream iPhone App should have been.

TVUPlayer [iTunes link] - The TVU Networks has come out with its own iPhone app called TVU Player.  Compared with Orblive, this app is not quite ready for primetime.  Many times the audio is not synched and the video is just bad.  It also only works with Wi-Fi.  I'm giving it somewhat of a pass though because there's no hardware encoding, unlike Orblive.  Plus, it's free.  I think with a little tweaking I think this could really be a very GOOD app that many people will want to download. Also, I've tried out quite a bit of channels.  You can actually watch more channels than listed in the iTunes description.  I'll wait and see if this app gets an upgrade before deleting it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

iPhone Upgrades/Downgrades This Summer?

The Silicon Alley Insider is quoting some note written by an analyst saying that the new iPhones coming out this summer will be an upgrade AND a downgrade.

First of all, the $99 iPhone we've been hearing about - it seems like it will be a reality especially in this down economy.  Thankfully, though, it won't be in the form of the bogus iPhone Nano.  The iPhone Lite (which is what I'm calling it) will be the exact same size as the 3G with the same multi-touch capabilities.  However, it is not expected to have GPS or 3G capabilities.  The storage size may also be limited to 8GB.    The camera could also be less than 2MP (which would be surprising to me).  And finally, the data plan might be cut in half to $15/month and would probably have some kind of data cap.

On the flip side, the iPhone upgrade, which I'm going to call the iPhone Pro, is expected to come in 16GB and 32GB models in a similar $199/$299 price range the current 3G has.  The screen resolution might be upgraded from 480 x 320 to 720 x 480.  The camera should better than the current 2MP and should be able to shoot video.  If the megapixels are indeed upgraded it should also come with autofocus and a flash.  Speaking of flash, with Adobe Flash on the way for the iPhone the list of must-haves could be whittled way down with this new iPhone model.  Cut & paste, push notifications and stereo Bluetooth could all be implemented through software.

Now, if the iPhone Pro satisfies my list of must-haves the question is - will I shell out another $299 for a new iPhone?  All of those new features are very nice but I'm doing fine right now without them.  I think what could be the tipping point for me is if the new iPhone sports a new chip that would give it better graphics and animation, and therefore, better games.

Until an official announcement, however, all of this is really just speculation.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Taking The Google Sync Plunge On My iPhone

Although I always wanted push functions on my iPhone, I never wanted to pay the $99/year for MobileMe.  Plus, my main e-mail address is on Gmail and I don't want to change at this point.

So, it was to my great surprise that Google Sync is now available for the iPhone.  It syncs my contacts and calendars WIRELESSLY between Google and my iPhone.  Eventually, Gmail will be added to the sync and I will be able to get Gmail pushed to my iPhone.

Here's a video of what Google Sync does:

I was a little bit wary of taking the Google Sync plunge, especially since setting it up will ERASE all of the contacts on your iPhone!  But after making the switch, all you have to do is follow a few simple steps here: Google SyncBeta for your iPhone

After backing up your contacts in Google and setting up your iPhone to sync with Google, it's a good idea to go through your contacts because it will be messed up.  I decided to merge the contacts on my iPhone with the contacts in Google.  In Google, your contacts are separated into at least two different groups: "All Contacts" and "Your Contacts."  "Your Contacts" are synced to your iPhone and "All Contacts" is not.  So, you might have to move some contacts to the group that syncs with your iPhone.  I also have had to manually merge a bunch of contacts so that the e-mail addresses and mobile phone numbers are now in one contact space.  Also, if you're missing a contact on your iPhone, check your "All Contacts" list.  I had to move some of them.

I have to admit that it was a fairly painless process.  And I can't wait until Gmail supports push.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday iPhone App Roundup

SpaceX [iTunes link] - If you like vertical space shoot'em ups, you have to get SpaceX which is FREE for a limited time.  You can move up/down & left/right in the entire 2D space and it autoshoots for you. What's cool are the weapons you can buy as you level up.  It's the most fun on a shoot'em up game since Space Deadbeef.

Killer Pool Lite [iTunes link] - Killer Pool gets the lite treatment with a free version of its game.  It's a very good pool game.  But, it doesn't encourage me to delete Vegas Pool Sharks Lite.  Still a worthwhile download if only to try it.

DeloriCam [iTunes link] - While it has a name and logo that is reminiscent of the movie "Back To The Future," it has a very practical use.   It takes a picture 5 frames from the past and 5 frames into the future.  Then, you select the least blurry picture to save.  While that is really cool, it also plays an animation of the 10 frames and gives us a preview of how well an iPhone video camera app could work.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday iPhone Game Roundup

Days Of Thunder [iTunes link] - Talk about a strange movie license.  I thought "School of Rock" was a dated movie license.  "Days of Thunder" is from the 1980s!  When Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were still together!  Anyway, this stock car racing/smash'em up is available for $.99 for a limited time.  I'm planning a video review for this game and so far it's worth the buck.  I'm not sure if it's worth its $4.99 regular price.

Rolando Lite [iTunes link] - If you never had a chance to check out the Rolando universe, here's your free chance to do it.  It's very cute and if you like platform games you might want to put down $5.99 for the full game.

Time Crisis Strike [iTunes link] - The first-person shooter franchise "Time Crisis" is now on the iPhone with "Time Crisis Strike."  The initial reviews seem positive and the controls seem to be as good as "Brothers In Arms," it seems to suffer from the same drawback as "Silent Hill" - the entire game is too short.  The size of Time Crisis is 23.4MB compared with 81.6MB for Brothers In Arms.  $5.99.  I'll wait for a price drop.

Here's a video of the iPhone version of "Time Crisis Strike":

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Two FREE iPhone Games To Download

Here's a couple of FREE iPhone games you should check out:

LightBike Free [iTunes link] - This is a cool TRON-inspired game.  You control your lightbike by tapping on the screen.  The control is not very responsive but after a while you get the hang of it.  The full paid game is $.99.

Touch Physics Lite [iTunes link] - A game in the vein of Crayon Physics Deluxe.  It is very challenging and I have yet to finish all 6 levels.  I suppose there will be a paid version of Touch Physics in the future.

Sunday, February 1, 2009 At Bat 2009

It's a fact. No other professional sports league in the world supports the iPhone like Major League Baseball. The NFL has an exclusive agreement with Sprint and could care less about the iPhone. Apparently, the iPhone isn't a priority with the NBA and NHL - leagues that really need some fan support right now.  And, so far, there's no official apps from the PGA, LPGA, FIFA, NCAA, or NASCAR.

Meanwhile, MLB is about to come out with its latest app called MLB At Bat 2009.  The only downside to this app is that it is based on a subscription - the app only lasts for a season and the subsequent offseason.  Still, for a guy like me who's a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and live in the middle of the Pacific, it's an invaluable tool.  I noticed last season, the app cost around $7 to $8. If you bought it in the middle of the season, it would be literally half the price.  I think that's fair.

In addition to all the previous features of the app, this year's new feature is live game AUDIO. Amazing.  You can download the offseason version of the MLB At Bat [iTunes link] app for FREE.

If you've never tried MLB At Bat before, here's a quick commercial of its features: