Contributed by Apple user group members from around the world
Getting media onto your iOS devices is straight-forward enough. Especially if you have purchased it through the iTunes store. The complication slips in when you start using other format types. Then you have to convert the file, which would require another application. And finally, load it into your iTunes library and sync with your device.
WALTR looks at a specific problem and solves it. To move content that is in an unsupported format to your iPhone, iPad, or other iOS device you follow these easy steps. 1) Launch WALTR, 2) Connect iOS device to your computer 3) Drag your audio and/or video files on the WALTR app. iTunes needs to be quit when transferring content. WALTR will then convert the content and place it in either the Music or Video application on iOS device.
WALTR supports video formats MKV, AVI, MOV, MP4, and audio files supported are even more extensive. WALTR will convert these audio formats: MP3, FLAC, APE, ALAC, M4R, AAC, AIFF, WAV, WMA,CUE, OGG, WV & TTA.
This app solves the problem of getting different audio formats, such as FLAC, AIFF, and OGG on my iPhone. The interface is clean and the conversions are fast. The only way of getting other formats before this app was doing a conversion, or using a third-party app on the iPhone.
Instacast has been the podcast client of choice for me for close to three years. A matter of fact, I have put off upgrading to the latest version of Instacast for over year.
I knew that Marco Arment, software developer, was creating his own iOS podcast application. Arment is developer of the popular “read it later” service Instapaper. He sold that a few years ago and has been focusing on this new iOS app. The name of the application is Overcast.
Since its release a few weeks ago, it has been the only app I have been listening to my podcasts with. Here are some of my first thoughts on the application and whether it was worth the wait.
The main focus of a podcast client is to make it easy to access all subscriptions and manage accessibility to the episodes. But before you start using the app, you need to pull in your subscriptions from another podcast app. Overcast has the ability to import from another app. In the settings, there is a “Import from Another App”. This is a one step process. Once you take this step, you can begin exploring the features of Overcast.
The design and typography of it is stunning. This doesn’t surprise me since Instapaper had the same attention to detail. There are a few apps that I use where you can tell design was an afterthought in its development. The buttons are readily accessible and easy to navigate to. This is especially the case when you are driving. Scrubbing within the app to jump to a particular place is simple. Dragging on the podcast time indicator you can easily get to a specific position. The precision and accuracy is very smooth. Another design detail that I enjoy is that visual playback of a podcast. Once the podcast is playing, there is a visual audio meter that overlays on top of the podcast artwork. This visual design is seen in both the playlist list and the full podcast view. Exquisite.
I like the playlist feature in Instacast better than that of Overcast. Both apps allow you to create custom playlists allowing you to stack episodes in one continuous feed. Overcast addresses the playlist by having smart playlists settings where you add subscriptions into the feed. For some instances this works for me, but on occasion I want to lump random episodes into a listening queue. From what I can tell, you can edit a playlist to add or subtract from a playlist. I still need to play more with this feature to make a definitive call on its usefulness.
The two best features of Overcast though are Smart Speed and Voice boost. I subscribe to about 30 podcasts and for most of them I am behind. Needless to say that for most of them I play them at 1.5x to double speed. If Overcast didn’t have this feature, I wouldn’t even consider using it. The app has 9 different speed variations ranging between one notch below normal speed to one notch above double speed.
It also has another feature that I have not seen in other podcast apps. The Smart Speed shortens the slight pauses or blank air in the podcast, hence, saving time. The Voice Boost feature is perfect for those times when the recording of the podcast is at a lower level. Or you have background noise, such as, a vacuum and need that extra level. Think of it as that “11” from This is Spinal Tap. You click this feature on and the audio is dynamically elevated louder.
A couple things about these last two effects. You can set the criteria up based on the podcast. So if you have a music podcast where you would never want the speed adjusted, you would turn this off. Finally, these last couple features require an in-app purchase of $4.99. You can test them out in the free version for 5 minutes at a time.
Trying out the app will cost you nothing, but it does come with a few other limitations. Variable playback speed, cellular downloads, and per podcast playback effects settings are not available in the free version. If you are a podcast listener, then this app is worth trying out.
(click on any title below right to view the entire review)
(more reviews are produced every week . . .
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For the last two years, I’ve wanted (but have not been able) to record my iPad or iPhone screen to do training videos without using a video camera to capture it. It also seemed to me that we should be able to live broadcast my video camera to my iPad. And, when will I be able to touch-control my Mac screen (without using a Wacom tablet)? The power of AirPlay has helped to now make all of this possible.
AirPlay wireless streaming (originally called AirTunes 2004-2010) was designed to make it easy to tap into your iTunes library through Apple TV. You just open iTunes on your laptop or Apple portable device, and select Apple TV in the AirPlay menu.
Apple TV gives you a virtually unlimited selection of high-definition movies, TV shows, video, and photos to explore. This wireless digital media receiver can play music from your computer, show photos from your iPhone, even access your media collection stored online in the iCloud, all for only $99.99.
But, if you have an iPad 2, the new iPad or iPhone 4S, you're not just limited to audio. Your device also has AirPlay Mirroring functionality (introduced in 2011 as part of iOS 5) which means you can wirelessly stream what's on its screen to your TV screen through the Apple TV. This concept has been adapted into some really cool apps, four of which I’m describing here.
AirBeam turns your iPhones, iPod touchs or iPads into a realtime audio and video surveillance system. It streams live video and audio from the cameras and microphones of any number of iPhones, iPod touchs or iPads. This universal app is available on the iTunes Store for $3.99.
Air Display can satisfy your wish for an extra display for your Mac (or Windows) computer. You can use your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch as a wireless display, to extend your computer desktop. This program is available at the Mac App Store for $9.99.
Reflection allows you to use AirPlay to mirror your iPhone 4S, iPad 2 or new iPad to any Mac running OS X 10.6+, wirelessly. I can now easily demo iOS apps on any Mac running OS X Lion using AirPlay Mirroring on iOS 5, and record it using QuickTime, ScreenFlow or other screen recorders. A free trial version (fully-function for 10 minutes) is available at www.reflectionapp.com, and the full purchase price is $14.99.
AirParrot will place our Mac's screen on your Apple TV. You can choose the display the AirPlay device will mirror to in order to enjoy your video and audio. A free trial version (fully-function for 10 minutes) is available at www.airparrot.com, and the full purchase price is $9.99.
These are amazing Mac and iOS apps which fully utilize the power of Wi-Fi through Airplay and Apple TV to achieve a new level of productivity. And, they are FUN to boot!
(for the full review, go to applejac.typepad.com)
Do you have an optical scanner? Is it too big to travel with you, but you wish you had a small one? Wouldn’t it be nice to have one that could scan without being attached to a computer? I found the solution at Macworld 2011 to do this and much more.
The IRIScan Anywhere 2 is a stand-alone battery-powered single-sheet scanner that can help to archive and organize your documents, recognize and manage business cards, and save its output to a wide variety of storage options. With a default resolution of 300 or 600dpi, it will save JPEG files to its own 512MB of flash memory, or interfaces with SD, xD, MS, MS Pro, MMC, USB Slave (type-B Mini), and USB Host (Type-A) for USB Flash Drive . . .
Ever have problems getting a reliable cellphone signal? Are you experiencing a lot of dropped calls? That has been my frustrating situation (0 - 2 bars average) for almost a year in my home-office duplex (only two miles from a tower on the ridge, but my place is at the bottom of the valley among the trees). I finally found a better candidate at Macworld 2011 which works with any of my cell signals.
zBoost by Wi-Ex (www.wi-ex.com) is described as the leading provider of consumer cell phone signal boosters for the home and office. They showcased their home and office solutions in San Francisco on January 26, 2011, illustrating their ability to help iPhone, iPad, smartphone, connected devices and mobile phone users with dropped calls and slow data. I was particularly interested in the zBoost-SOHO (small office/home office) and zBoost-METRO (urban single-story unit) . . .
With all the apps and activities that are being conducted on our mobile devices, power consumption is an ever-increasing concern. Do you have to recharge every night, and even sometimes run out during the day? How about when you go on a trip? There are some great solutions now available.
The TekCharge™ MP1860A from Tekkeon, a dual port 1860 mAh power pack with two USB outputs, simultaneously charges and powers my iPad™, iPhone®, iPod® nano or iPod® touch, and a second small portable device. With mobile power at my fingertips, this high-capacity, lightweight battery lets me enjoy hours of extended play time on many of my small portable electronic products.
(also in this review: PowerPak Travel Charger from Technical, Boost Case from HRL Technologies, and TruePower iV Pro from TruePower, Inc.)
As I said before, this Macworld could more appropriately been called “iPadworld” with all of the emphasis on portable Apple devices. The incredible variety of accessories for iPads was stunning, overwhelming and intriguing.
The HandStand from Hub International is another example of the new generation of versatile and useful cases. This iPad case is designed to be an extension of my arm with the flexibility of 360° rotation around my palm. For only $49.99 (https://thehandstand.com), this case feels good, protects well, and is very functional . . . a good buy.
(also in this review: Hand-e-holder from Burns Computer Services)
As I acquire more information and get more involved in this busy world, I need more tools to keep track of my diverse activities. Topical folders and specialized titling have long been my organizational technique, but the volume and scope of my data has exceeded my ability to keep everything straight. In a word, I need help!
A new program from Gravity Applications called Tags had provided me with an innovative way to get back in control of my computer’s contents. This company points out that every day we deal with thousands of documents, emails, photos, contacts, videos, web links and others. The rigid file/folder structure on a computer, designed to mimic the real world physical equivalent, is no longer efficient. While specific applications exist to manage, sort, find and consume specific file types such as iTunes for music, iPhoto for photos, Mail for emails, and Safari for the web, what has been lacking is a comprehensive way to associate different types of files to one another in an intuitive way, without creating duplicates.
We are proud of the fact that, unlike the world of Windows, the Macintosh operating system is devoid of viruses (or, so we believe). This can lead to a false sense of security about which we need to be very careful. It is important that we still protect ourself from a much broader world of intrusion, misrepresentation and invasion.
VirusBarrier X6 is a powerful product that provides comprehensive protection from malware and network threats. It is the only antivirus program for Mac that includes full anti-malware protection together with firewall, network protection, anti-phishing, anti-spyware features and more.
Have you ever wanted to show pictures, or slideshows, or movies to three or four people at once, but your iPhone or iPod screen was just too small? Even the iPad screen can be too small for a group of people. You could hook up to a big digital video projector, but its heavy and bulky, needs to plug into a wall socket, and is time-consuming to setup. On the other hand, with the marvels of today’s technology and miniaturization, wouldn’t it be great if you could just pull a projector out of your pocket, plug and play?
Do you have a Macintosh computer, but need to run a Windows application? Are you a “switcher” from a Windows platform, and still need to run some Windows programs for compatibility? Do you require Windows XP or Windows 7 in order to access network or Internet resources? I have a great solution for you!
I have a small island of Macs at work, in a sea of PCs. It is important that I be able to simultaneously access both environments, and move information effortlessly between them. I started with Parallels Desktop 3 for the Mac several years ago, and have recently updated to Parallels 6, which now has over 80 new and enhanced features beyond its previous edition. This is a reliable and productive tool for my daily use.
Tired of typing? Need a break from the mouse? Want to step away from touching the screen? Yearn to just talk to your computer and have it transcribe every word at normal talking speed? There is a terrific product to give you this freedom.
In April 2010, I did a review of MacSpeech Scribe which, at that time, was the world’s most advanced personal transcription solution for the Macintosh. With the acquisition of MacSpeech by Nuance Communications, Dragon Dictate has now replaced Scribe as the new leader in Mac transcription.
Unlike other Macbook protectors, this case is designed to be left on your computer at all times. Think of it as a sleeve you can use while the computer is still protected. Because it acts as a sleeve, it’s checkpoint friendly and can protect your Macbook on its sometimes perilous trip through airport security. I’m a big fan of cases like this because while some incidents can happen during transit, I often see the worst damage occur during the process of putting a laptop in a case or pulling it out. A hand slips or a zipper you thought was closed wasn’t. Ouch. Codex has Viscotex™ inserts and Terahedron™ inner lining to provide a advanced level of shock protection.