For Apple fans around the world, this week is about as close to an international holiday as a non-religious event can get. The fun starts this Wednesday, September 19, as the latest iteration of the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad operating system, iOS 6, is made available for public download. As with each previous release of the OS, iOS 6 promises many new features and one interesting omission. I have had the chance to load the Gold Master of iOS 6, which is pretty much the final version of the operating system released to developers, on my iPhone 4 and have been playing with it for the past few days, so I can give you an idea of what to expect when you pull the trigger and upgrade your iDevice in the near future.
When the iPhone first came out, the functionality of the Calendar app was limited. You could track your calendar on the iPhone, but, since the iPhone couldn’t sync with an Exchange calendar at the time and, even if it could, Google wouldn’t release Google Exchange Sync for two more years, you could not sync your iPhone calendars over the air. Your only option was to plug your iPhone into your PC and sync with a desktop application like Outlook. Much has changed since then. Now you can not only sync your calendar wirelessly, you can do so with multiple calendars, whether they are with your work’s Exchange calendar, with MobileMe (now iCloud), or with Google. Still, there’s some room for improvement. For example, you can only look at your calendar in Portrait mode, not Landscape (this may change in iOS5). You also only have three calendar views in the default app. Fortunately, there are many iOS apps out there which can turn you calendar into the full fledged powerhouse that you need to keep organized. I’ve reviewed three of the best, although, in my opinion, one stands out above the others.
My wife and I both consider the French Open to be our least favorite of the tennis Grand Slam events. Personally, I have to say the same for the iOS app. While the mobile apps for the Grand Slam events of the tennis world are designed by IBM, the French Open app, sponsored by European wireless carrier Orange, has a completely different feel than the apps for the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. Unfortunately, those differences result in an app which comes up short compared to it’s siblings.
I don’t normally follow the NCAA tournament outside of the championship game, but this app makes it hard not to. The NCAA has released their own official March Madness app for iOS and it is chock full of awesomeness. If you own an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, you could conceivably follow the entire tournament from your device. Even the casual college basketball fan will find this app useful.
The app is very informative, as one would expect from the NCAA. you get a full bracket of matchups, including seedings, game times, and TV channels for each game. When you first set up the app, in fact, you also choose who your cable provider is so you can see what channel number to turn to for each game. There is also the option for taking part in the CBSsports.com Bracket Challenge, although that was closed before I could join. If you already signed up, you can log into your account and see how your bracket is doing.
In the past, when I focused on iOS apps which added Outlook functionality to my iPhone, the one area I neglected to cover was that of note taking. The iPhone and iPod Touch both are able to sync with your notes in Outlook when you plug the device into your PC and perform an iTunes sync. My overarching goal, however, is to cut the cable, regardless of what device I’m using. While using the iPhone, I came across a free service called Evernote which fulfilled this goal while also adding functionality which Outlook notes just don’t do. Now that I’m working with both iOS and Android devices, it is definitely time to take a close look at the Evernote service and the corresponding mobile apps which sync with Evernote.
First, let’s look at the Evernote website, which can be found at http://www.evernote.com/. The site serves as a central repository for information. The premise is simple – Anytime you need to make note of something, whether it be text, audio, or visual, you create a note in your Evernote account and put the information there. With these notes stored in the cloud, you can access them from any computer with a web browser and an Internet connection, which is pretty much any computer on the planet you’ll touch. The free account has a set amount of monthly usage, based on the size of your notes, but I’ve yet to get anywhere near the maximum data cap for a month. You can also download and install a desktop app for your PC which gives you instant access to your notes as well as the ability to format them much like you would a Word doc.
Recently, Winter Guard International released their own iOS app, joining the ranks of Drum Corps International, Drum Corps Europe, the Blue Devils, and the Phantom Regiment as marching arts organizations with apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch. While there are some similarities between this and the other apps, the WGI app has a couple unique features which have potential to cross over to some or all of the other apps.
The primary purpose of the WGI app is to inform and market the activity. As a result, most of the app is focused on delivering information. The app features sections focused on upcoming events, the latest news, scores (currently empty), and WGI’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. Tapping on an item in a section brings up more information on that item. For example, tapping on an event brings up the scheduled participants, location, seating diagrams, and how to buy tickets. Navigation is straightforward and simple.
Picture this scenario – You’re at a client’s office. You’ve given them a document such as a purchase authorization form to sign. You need to get the signed form back to your office, but you won’t be back for a couple days and your office doesn’t have a fax machine. You could take a picture of the document with your smartphone and send it via email, but image files tend to be large and could potentially be blocked by your office’s email system based on size limits. Even if you can email the image file, the size of the file is not very conducive to storage, especially as more and more documents are stored this way. You need to make a PDF of the document, which you could do if you could scan the document. Unfortunately, your phone doesn’t have that ability…UNTIL NOW!!!