iNews Review

iPhone 4 Owners Surveyed, iPod touch Turns into a Phone, BlackBerry Torch Takes on iPhone, and More

This Week's iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Apple TV News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.08.09

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review, and general Mac news is in Mac News Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

BlackBerry News & Opinion

Apps & Services

Accessories

Protection

iPod Deals

These price trackers are updated every month.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

What iPhone 4 Owners Really Think About Their iPhones

PR: The iPhone 4 launched in late June and was initially heralded as one of the most successful product releases in Apple's history. But within days the firestorm over reception and antenna issues unleashed an exceptional degree of critical commentary.

Despite this controversy, one of the biggest unknowns has been what actual iPhone 4 owners really think about their new smart phones. To find out, a July ChangeWave survey has taken an in-depth look at the reactions and opinions of 213 iPhone 4 owners.

Survey findings include:

  • New owner satisfaction ratings
  • Key likes and dislikes
  • Impact of the iPhone 4 antenna issue and reaction to Apple's solution
  • Comparison of iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS dropped call rates

Below is a brief look at two key findings. For a more in-depth look at the latest ChangeWave Apple iPhone 4 findings, follow the link at the end of this news brief.

Customer Satisfaction: iPhone 4 vs. iPhone 3GS

iPhone 4 vs. 3GS satisfaction ratings

The initial satisfaction ratings for the iPhone 4 show a high degree of customer approval with 72% of owners saying they're Very Satisfied and 21% Somewhat Satisfied with their new phone.

iPhone 4 likes

But despite these good scores, the initial iPhone 4 ratings aren't quite as extraordinary as the early iPhone 3GS satisfaction numbers seen in our August 2009 survey. Here's a comparison of the two iPhone models in terms of customer satisfaction.

iPhone 4 dislikes

The Issue of Dropped Calls

Percentage of dropped calls, Verizon vs. ATTHistorically, our ChangeWave surveys have focused on the issue of dropped calls exclusively among wireless service providers. The belief has been that differences in dropped call rates are largely the result of differences between wireless provider networks.

But in the current survey, we've taken a close-up look at the dropped call rating among iPhone 4 owners and compared it to the dropped call rating for iPhone 3GS owners from a June 2010 ChangeWave survey.

We believe a fair and accurate comparison is possible here because both groups of owners primarily use AT&T as their service provider. In other words, we're able to factor out differences between the two groups that could be due to different provider networks.

Dropped calls: iPhone 4 vs. 3GS

Here are the results:


In a surprising finding, iPhone 4 owners reported a better dropped call rating (5.2%) than their 3GS counterparts (6.3%).

In other words, despite the hoopla surrounding the antenna issue, in actuality iPhone 4 owners report experiencing slightly fewer dropped calls on the average than do iPhone 3GS owners.

Summary. Despite the waves of controversy that surrounded the iPhone 4 within days of its launch, the latest Apple release is outperforming almost every other smart phone in the industry in terms of overall customer satisfaction and meeting owners expectations.

Moreover in reality, iPhone 4 owners report experiencing fewer dropped calls than do iPhone 3GS owners.

That said, while the iPhone 4 has been very well received, its owner ratings aren't as high as the numbers we saw at a similar point in time for the 3GS launch.

This is likely attributable to the fact that one-in-five iPhone 4 owners appear to have been at least somewhat negatively affected by the phone's reception and antenna issues and the ensuing drumbeat of controversy.

iPod touch Becomes a Real Phone Using Yosion's Apple Peel 520

Engadget's Richard Lai says:

"Oh sure, VoIP on the iPod touch is hardly breaking news these days, but what if you could actually slap on a regular SIM card and make calls on said device? That's what Yosion's appropriately named Apple Peel 520 claims to do...."

ZTE Peel 3200 Transforms iPod touch into a Sprint Phone

Gizmodo's Kyle VanHemert says:

"The FCC just posted documents for a curious Sprint-branded case called the ZTE Peel 3200, packing its own battery and EV-DO connectivity as well as mobile hotspot capabilities. It might be for heroically transforming your iPod touch into a phone...."

Repair Your iPhone Screen on the Cheap

LifeHacker's Jason Fitzpatrick says:

"Don't shell out a pile of cash to get your iPhone screen repaired. Make's detailed guide will help you replace the screen on your iPhone 3G on the cheap and with little fuss.

"Earlier this year we shared how a 10 year old boy repaired his dad's iPhone for $22. If you read over the instructions there and wished for a more text-heavy and detailed guide on what screw goes where and what cable attaches back to what, Make magazine has just the guide you're looking for...."

5 Features the Next iPad Must Have

Commenting on TechCrunch's Matt Burns' Did the iPad Preemptively Kill the US Tablet Market?, Seeking Alpha's Elliot Turner says he's loved Apple for quite some time as both an electronic innovator and a stock. He had been eagerly anticipating the iPad's release, which happened to coincide with the untimely death of his well-worn iBook, relating how in anticipation of the iPad's release he bought bought a Western Digital My Book World 2 TB wireless external hard drive to use as his future data storage hub, noting that he had expected a device that could function as a computer itself - that could do everything that his erstwhile iBook could do. But when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad in January, Turner was immediately disappointed. The iPad didn't cut it for him (as it likewise didn't for your humble editor - cm), and presumably hordes of other folks who had been hoping for something more than an upsized iPod touch.

Turner allows that while many consumers obviously do not share our disappointment, that doesn't change the fact that there are five things the next generation iPad must have in order to snag him as an eager buyer:

5. Open Source software
4. A swappable battery
3. Scalable hardware (that is, upgrades and expansion)
2. USB ports
1. Ability to function independently of a computer

What's the likelihood of Apple fulfilling those aspirations? Not very high, your editor suspects.

'The iPad Is No Laptop'

abc.net.au's Alan Kohler, publisher of the Business Spectator and the Eureka Report, says he's tried to use an iPad as a laptop, giving it two "long, frustrating months," but he's had enough, and he finally broke down and bought a new MacBook Pro. "Oh the bliss on Sunday," Kohler rhapsodizes.

Kohler says he's now an expert on the iPad's limitations, which include it only being able to open one application at a time, lack of Flash support rendering many websites terra incognita, lack of a good word processor, and is clunky and limited typing without a keyboard dock. Kohler notes that the iPad is built for media consumption, not media creation - basically a big iPhone without the phone - great for watching videos, good for reading books, as long as the light conditions are right, but the touchscreen means it's covered in fingerprints all the time.

The iPad Rules: Apple Tablet Dos and Don'ts

T3 Magazine has posted some dos and don'ts to help you get the most out of your iPad:

  1. Do wipe the screen
  2. Don't take it to bed
  3. Do invest in Bluetooth audio
  4. Don't put it on a dining table
  5. Do check your history
  6. Don't put it in a case
  7. Do read on it, not about it
  8. Don't overuse the accelerometer
  9. Do upgrade to iOS 4 (when launched)
  10. Don't pretend it's a massive phone

BlackBerry News & Opinion

How BlackBerry Became Teens' Smartphone of Choice

The Guardian's Megan Smith says that the BlackBerry has become the number one smartphone with British teens thanks primarily to boosting its youth appeal through its free messaging service and lower overall costs, noting that a BlackBerry costs £25 a month with free Internet and free texts, while iPhone users pay £30 a month plus up to £300 for the handset. She also cites BlackBerry's messenger service, which allows you to instantly send a free message to your friends.

BlackBerry Torch 9800 Features Touchscreen, Keyboard, and New BlackBerry 6 OS

BlackBerry Torch 9800PR: Joining forces to offer the first smartphone to feature the highly anticipated BlackBerry 6 operating system exclusively on the nation's fastest mobile broadband network, AT&T and Research In Motion (RIM) introduce the new BlackBerry Torch 9800 smartphone. Adept for socially connected consumers and packed with the tools business customers love, the new handset is the first smartphone to combine a BlackBerry keyboard with a full touch screen experience. Whether users choose to type out messages on the capacitive touch screen or easy-to-use BlackBerry keyboard, browse the Internet using pinch to zoom, or fluidly navigate with the optical trackpad, the BlackBerry Torch allows them to communicate any way they want.

"We were the first to launch the BlackBerry solution in 1999 and have a rich history of innovation and collaboration with Research In Motion," says Ralph de la Vega, president and chief executive officer, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "The two companies that brought the first BlackBerry smartphones to market have teamed up again with the new BlackBerry Torch, creating a true generational shift in hardware and operating system for this enormously popular service."

"This is one of the most significant launches in RIM's history and we are proud to introduce the new BlackBerry Torch and BlackBerry 6 together with AT&T," said Mike Lazaridis, president and co-CEO, Research In Motion. "With a new user interface, new browser and new handset design, the highly anticipated BlackBerry Torch and BlackBerry 6 deliver integrated and uncompromising capabilities for consumers and business professionals that preserve the industry-leading strengths of the BlackBerry platform while adding exciting new dimensions."

BlackBerry 6

The BlackBerry Torch is the first BlackBerry smartphone to launch with BlackBerry 6, a new operating system that retains the familiar and trusted features that distinguish the BlackBerry brand while delivering a fresh, approachable and engaging experience that's powerful and easy to use.

BlackBerry Torch 9800BlackBerry 6 features a redesigned interface that seamlessly works with the touch screen and trackpad, includes expanded messaging capabilities with intuitive features to simplify the management of social networking and RSS feeds (Social Feeds), and provides integrated access to the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and various instant messaging applications available on the BlackBerry Torch smartphone. Its enhanced multimedia experience rivals the best in the industry and includes a dedicated YouTube app and Podcasts app.

BlackBerry 6 also integrates a new and rich WebKit-based browser on BlackBerry Torch that renders HTML web pages (as well as HTML email) quickly and beautifully for a great browsing experience. It features tabs for accessing multiple sites simultaneously, pinch to zoom for easy navigation and an auto-wrap text zoom feature that can intelligently wrap text in a column while maintaining the placement of a page's key elements (simply double-tap on the BlackBerry Torch).

Universal search, always accessible from the Home Screen, allows users to search through email, messages, contacts, music, videos and more on the smartphone, as well as extend search to the Internet or to discover applications on BlackBerry App World™.

Advanced Messaging

Messaging has always been a core element of the BlackBerry smartphone experience and the BlackBerry Torch smartphone expands on RIM's popular messaging solutions with the support of AT&T's advanced messaging features for SMS and MMS. RIM's new Text Messages application is especially exciting for users who communicate most via SMS and MMS, providing support for AT&T's next-generation messaging experience, which includes group messaging with "reply all" functionality for up to 10 contacts. And for the first time, AT&T's platform includes a new Locations feature.

Locations lets users easily search for points of interest, businesses, and even the user's own location, and insert this information directly into a message, all without leaving the messaging application. Using group messaging and locations together, users can arrange to meet a group of friends easily by sending one message to all of them, discussing together where to meet and then sending a map all in one threaded conversation. AT&T designed the service based on research that revealed customers want features that help facilitate social planning, improved message organization and location sharing.

Apps at Your Fingertips

After powering up the BlackBerry Torch smartphone for the first time, users will notice a set of preloaded icons which allow them to download and immediately begin using a variety of rich entertainment and social networking applications to access Bloomberg, ESPN, The Weather Channel and Slacker Radio content in addition to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and more. Also available is AT&T's Web Video Search, a unique new app that searches video content from over 70 major Internet video websites.

In addition to searching the Internet for video, the BlackBerry Torch smartphone also features more multimedia apps that let users download TV shows and watch live TV, as well as create video content and upload it to YouTube. The new Podcasts application makes it easy for users to find and manage audio and video podcasts.

Another application that puts a key function of a phone at your fingertips is Visual Voicemail, which benefits customers by allowing them to select the voicemails they want to hear first.

The BlackBerry Torch 9800 is also the first BlackBerry smartphone to include BlackBerry App World preinstalled, supporting carrier billing through AT&T, making it easier for customers to discover and purchase applications.

BlackBerry Torch Smartphone Features

  • Elegant styling, measuring approx. 4.4" (5.8" open) x 2.4" x .57" and weighing 5.68 ounces
  • 3.2" 360 x 480 capacitive touch screen display
  • 35 key full QWERTY backlit slide-out keyboard, designed to feel optimally balanced when opened for typing
  • Optical trackpad that makes navigation fast and smooth
  • Powerful 624 MHz processor with 512 MB Flash memory
  • 4 GB built-in memory storage plus a microSD/SDHD memory card slot that supports up to 32 GB cards; a 4 GB card is included giving users 8 GB of storage out-of-the-box
  • 5 MP camera with flash, continuous auto focus, image stabilization, scene modes, geo-tagging and zoom, as well as video recording at up to 640x480 resolution
  • Built-in GPS for location-based applications and geo-tagging
  • WiFi (802.11 b/g/n); qualifying smartphone customers can enjoy seamless connectivity to over 20,000 AT&T WiFi hotspots at no additional cost
  • 3.5mm stereo headset jack
  • Premium phone features, including voice activated dialing, speakerphone and Bluetooth (2.1) with support for handsfree headsets, stereo headsets, car kits (including systems that support the Bluetooth Message Access Profile standard) and other Bluetooth accessories
  • New BlackBerry Desktop Software 6 with integrated media sync for easily syncing music, photos and videos.2 It also includes WiFi Music Sync, a unique feature that allows users to view their entire iTunes or Windows Media Player music libraries from their BlackBerry smartphone, create and edit playlists as well as select music for download. When in range of their home WiFi network (or via USB), the changes are synced with iTunes or Windows Media Player and the songs are automatically downloaded to the smartphone
  • Tri-band HSDPA (3G) and quad-band EDGE support for the option of voice service in more than 220 countries, data service in more than 195 countries and 3G connectivity in more than 125 countries, including Japan and South Korea
  • Removable, rechargeable 1300 mAh battery that provides approximately 5.8 hours of talk time on 3G networks or 30 hours of audio playback or 6 hours of video playback

The BlackBerry Torch 9800 smartphone will be available only for AT&T customers on August 12 in AT&T company owned retail stores and online at www.att.com/blackberrytorch , as well as Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Radio Shack stores.

The BlackBerry Torch 9800 will be available for $199.99 with 2-year service agreement on a qualifying rate plan and smartphone data plan required. New smartphone customers may choose from two AT&T monthly data plan options, $15 for 200 MB of wireless data or $25 for 2 GB. Enterprise and small business customers should contact their account representative for pricing details.

RIM Planning Tablet for November to Take on iPad

Bloomberg's Hugo Miller reports:

"Research In Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, plans to introduce a tablet computer in November to compete with Apple Inc.'s iPad, according to two people familiar with the company's plans.

"The device will have roughly the same dimensions as the iPad, which has a 9.7-inch diagonal screen [and] will include WiFi and Bluetooth wireless technology that will allow people to connect to the Internet through their BlackBerry smartphones...."

BlackPad: RIM's Answer to the iPad

The Register's Cade Metz reports:

"BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is preparing to launch an iPad competitor in November, and it will be called the BlackPad, according to a report citing two people familiar with the company's plans.

"Bloomberg reports that the RIM tablet will have roughly the same dimensions as the iPad, offer WiFi and Bluetooth, and give you the option of tapping the interwebs through the company's BlackBerry handsets."

RIM to Counter iPad with BlackPad in November

AppleInsider's Slash Lane reports:

"BlackBerry maker Research in Motion plans to enter the touchscreen tablet market and compete with Apple's iPad this November, when it will release the 'BlackPad.' . . . RIM already acquired the blackpad.com domain name this month."

"The hardware is said to sport a 9.7-inch screen, identical to the iPad's dimensions, will also be priced similarly to Apple's touchscreen tablet...."

RIM Rumored to Be Building Its Own iPad-like Tablet

The Mac Observer's Jeff Gamet reports that "anonymous insider sources" claim BlackBerry maker RIM is working on its own tablet device designed to compete with the iPad. The new tablet computer, possibly called the BlackPad, is rumored to be projected for November launch with a 9.7" display, WiFi, Bluetooth, and a similar form factor to the iPad. It will even fall in the same price range as the iPad, but with a full slate of BlackBerry smartphone connectivity.

Apps & Services

Clearwire Introduces iSpot, Nation's First Dedicated 4G Support for iOS Devices

PR: Clearwire Corporation, operator of what it claims to be the largest 4G network in the country, has announced the introduction of the Clear iSpot, a personal hotspot with dedicated support for Apple's line of mobile devices, including the iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone.1 The iSpot brings the speed and mobility of true mobile broadband to a user base primed for the rich online experience of 4G.

Clear iSpot for iOS devices"With the iSpot, Apple customers don't have to sort through confusing service plans with overage fees, nor do they have to worry about how much data they're using," says Thomas Enraght-Moony, senior vice president of marketing at Clearwire. "Instead, with Clear, customers can run all of their Apple mobile devices at true broadband speeds for a single, simple monthly fee."

The iSpot is Clear's first 4G personal mobile hotspot made exclusively for Apple mobile products, including iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch devices. iSpot users can share 4G speed with up to eight WiFi-enabled Apple mobile devices simultaneously. The Clear iSpot's ergonomic design and white casing were specifically designed to complement the iconic image of Apple products.

Using Clear super fast mobile Internet service, Apple's iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone can access a rich mobile broadband experience with average mobile download speeds of 3 to 6 Mbps with bursts over 10 Mbps.2 For example, using the Clear iSpot an iPad user can stream unlimited movies or television shows via the Netflix app from home, work or on the go, while an iPod user can stream Pandora music or live sports play-by-play on the commute home.

The iSpot expands the Clear line of personal mobile hotspots, which includes the Clear Spot 4G and Clear Spot 4G+. With personal mobile hotspots, Clear provides thousands of WiFi enabled devices, from laptops to netbooks to personal gaming devices the ability to access super fast mobile Internet service anywhere in Clear coverage.

The iSpot is available nationwide from clear.com now and available in Clear retail stores and authorized dealers beginning August 10. The iSpot has an MSRP of $99.99,3 and users can enjoy unlimited 4G data usage for an initial low monthly service offering of $253 without a required term contract.

You can also follow The Clear Blog.

  1. Apple does not endorse Clearwire products or services and is not affiliated with Clearwire.
  2. Clear performance claim is based on average download user speeds achieved during tests performed by Clear on the Clear commercial network, vs. other national wireless carriers recently published, download speed information. Actual Clear network performance may vary and is not guaranteed. Unlimited plans subject to Clear's Acceptable Use Policy, posted at http://clear.com/legal/aup
  3. Plus taxes.

Editor's note: Clear has just introduced coverage in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and its coverage map includes LEM headquarters. As tired as we are of wrestling with Comcast's broadband and as disappointed as we are that AT&T U-verse doesn't quite reach us, we're seriously contemplating switching to Clear's Home Internet plan ($40 per month plus an $85 WiMAX modem, 6 Mbps downloads, 1 Mbps uploads, and unlimited data usage). dk

Don't Get Your Oil Changed Until You Get This App

PR: Do you own a car and an iPhone and looking for the best place to service your car? Oil Change the iPhone app is now available on the iTunes store, it locates fast lube shops, dealer service departments an independent auto repair shops by location and price and allows shops to post deals, offers and incentives in real time. This could be the most exciting thing to happen to the fast lube industry in decades.

Oil Change iPhone appmyBeepBeep Media has released Oil Change for the iPhone, iPod and iPad. Oil Change is the world's first mobile oil change and car care services marketplace. Oil Change the iPhone app is available for immediate download as a free app on the Apple iTunes store now.

The app lists national and regional fast lube chains, dealership service departments to the independent repair shops, Oil Change the iPhone app will locate the user automatically then sort shops by distance, price, deals offered and help consumers find the type of shop that fits their vehicle maintenance needs. The app allows access to real time deals exclusively found on the app. Shops can list other services like car washes, brakes, tires and radiator flushes offered right from the iPhone app. Shops can sign up by going to mybeepbeep.com and start posting deals for free for a limited time.

myBeepBeep Media has been inundated with calls from shop owners and Marketing Managers around the US and Canada asking to sign up to be included on the app. Currently in negotiations with most of the national and regional chains as well as hundreds of Dealerships and independents, "there is so much excitement, It feels like my band is getting signed" says Founder and CEO Scott McHugh, "one manager said that this is the most exciting thing to happen to the Fast lube industry in decades". "With my background in the Automotive industry, everyone asks me where to go to get their car fixed so, I created a tool to help the good shops connect with customers and customers easily find good shops. The goal has always been to create a partnership with the industry and serve the customer".

Currently on the app, top rated shops list great deals including an oil change at Phil Smart Mercedes-Benz in Seattle for 60% off. Vallejo, CA, Avery Greene Honda posted a deal for $10 off and in Dallas, TX, City-Garage had a deal offered for $29 originally $39. There can be thousands of offers from shops going on simultaneously and this actually makes finding an oil change fun. The consumer can find great deals all over the country from Fast lube stores to Dealers service departments to mom and pop shops. The old days of a lube tech standing by the street in front of a shop waving a sign that reads "$5 off right now" may be over thanks to the Oil Change app.

Oil Change app features:

  • Free: Oil Change is an iPhone that is free to download!
  • Find Top Notch Shops: Map you area shops and locate them automatically
  • Save Money: List shops by Price and Distance; services and qualifications, see instant coupons, deals and incentives from your favorite shop on your phone in real time!
  • Convenience :Make a list of your favorite top rated Oil change shops and quickly shop without calling or driving around
  • Contact Your Favorite Shop Easily: Call them with one simple TAP, no more looking for their phone number or guessing if they can fit you in

Download it yourself at the Apple iTunes Store or mybeepbeep.com

Packing Pro Featured in Travel + Leisure's Top Travel Apps for 2010

PR: Packing Pro has been chosen as one of the Top Travel Apps for 2010, as determined by American Express' influential Travel + Leisure magazine. This is, in fact, the second year in a row that Packing Pro has been chosen by Travel Leisure, and the latest in a string of recognitions and glowing reviews for this top-ranking, feature-rich personal packing assistant.

Packing Pro has been a top-ranking travel app in the U.S. iTunes App Store for more than a year, peaking at #6 in the Travel section (and #2 in Australia and #4 in Canada). Packing Pro has also been spotlight demoed in Apple's summer 2009 Travel Guide and recognized by National Geographic & American Express as one of the best travel apps for the iPhone, as well as earning glowing reviews on 148Apps, iLounge & TUAW.

Packing ProPacking Pro is more than just a digital packing list. It's more like a personal packing assistant that is always by your side. It features an extensive, customizable catalog, several handy sample lists that can be used as templates, and unlimited, 100% customizable packing lists. A host of special functions include:

  • Multi-item selection for speedy list building
  • Collapsible categories with running item tallies
  • Numerous packing list sorting & display options
  • Weight and value totals
  • Send to email
  • Import / export to other Packing apps and devices
  • Recovery of deleted lists and categories
  • Extensive in-app instructions and feedback options

Besides the core functions listed above (which are also present in the basic Packing app), Packing Pro also gives its users complete control over the look and feel of the app (themes, layout, font, colors), twice as many sample lists, a double-sized Master Catalog, and an Expert packing list that can "automajically" help you create a customized list. Recently added features include a 60% larger master catalog (now with over 800 items), a powerful Smart Search tool, and full landscape orientation and keyboard support. These three features help improve the ease and efficiency of packing list creation and management by reducing the need and the difficulty of typing on such a small device.

This wealth of features and functionality has earned Packing Pro a placement in Travel + Leisure's top travel apps for two years running. Come and check it out for yourself, while there's still a bit of summer left.

Device Requirements:

  • iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
  • Requires iPhone OS 2.1 or later
  • 4.1

Packing Pro 4.1 is available for purchase worldwide on the iPhone App Store at a 25% reduced price of only $2.99 , or the equivalent in local currency. The basic version (Packing) sells for 99¢, 50% off its full price. App Store promo codes are also available upon request for press (U.S. App Store accounts only).

Video Demo: http://www.quinnscape.com/PackingPro-videodemo.asp

Gardener's Buddy for iPad: Map and Record Plantings Using 7 Layers

PR: Oakville Stamping & Bending, Ltd. introduces Gardener's Buddy 1.0, their plant mapping and recording app for iPad. Starting with a user created sketch or map which is uploaded into the iPad, the app allows the gardener to create graphical overlays indicating plant types, locations and complete annotated details. The app generates and saves 25 maps, and the gardener uses one per month to record new plantings. There are seven layers with icons denoting: trees, bushes, bulbs, perennials, annuals, herbs, and vegetables.

When first starting to use Gardener's Buddy, the user must create a sketch or map of their garden, save it as a JPEG, and then use the File Sharing function in iTunes to upload it into the app. With the base layer in place, 25 monthly maps are generated and saved, each with seven planting layers for use on top of the base. New plantings may be added as many times per month as desired, and all records can be emailed or synced with a computer database at any time. The app is always up to date, automatically creating a new map each month and deleting the oldest record. If a map sketch is not available, uploading a blank JPEG will result in a book type garden diary.

Gardener's BuddyGardener's Buddy launches in portrait mode to display a scrolling list of months, starting with the coming month and going back an additional 24. An icon view of the base layer accompanies each listing, along with month and year, and whether any garden data has been recorded. The app can accommodate multiple users by tapping a green Change User button on the top right. Tapping on any month brings up the base layer of the garden map, plus any of seven different colored icon layers indicating the kinds of plants added that month (trees, bushes, bulbs, perennials, annuals, herbs, and vegetables) and their location.

Feature Highlights:

  • Gardener's Buddy - the map-based iPad iDiary for the gardening enthusiast
  • Upload your own garden jpeg for base map
  • Toggle function to select Planting Marker type for trees, bushes, bulbs, perennials, annuals, herbs, and vegetables
  • Plant a Marker by tapping on the screen map in the desired location and filling out window that pops up with name and description
  • Make a complete record of every planting
  • Accommodates multiple users
  • Easy export of planting using email or file syncing
  • Identify, document, and maintain every plant using monthly maps

The Review button on the lower right of the map view allows the user to highlight each icon sequentially, revealing its name tag. Tapping on a Planting Marker already entered activates a pop up text window and keyboard. In addition to the Name, the text window has a Description field that allows the user to enter as much detailed information regarding the plant as desired. This annotating feature can be used to record and save relevant information that was included with the plant when purchased, plus notes, etc. In this way the gardener can easily visualize their garden as a whole, by plant type, or by date of planting. Gardener's Buddy is a convenient, portable application which enables the user to plan, plant, document, and maintain their own garden.

"Gardener's Buddy is designed to remove all the memory frustration from gardening," commented designer and garden enthusiast Chris McLeod. "Identifying and maintaining every plant in your garden is simplified using this well designed app for iPad."

Device Requirements:

  • iPad compatible
  • iOS 3.2 or later
  • 1.0 MB

Gardener's Buddy 1.0 is 99¢ and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Lifestyle category. Review copies are available upon request.

myPhoneDesktop: Seamlessly Integrates iPhone with User's Desktop

PR: Announcing that jProductivity LLC, the developer of myPhoneDesktop, has just released the latest update for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users. myPhoneDesktop 1.4.1 puts an end to all of the fumbling with tiny iDevice touchpads and lets users return to the comfort of their computer keyboards to type the way nature intended. By using Push Notifications, myPhoneDesktop 1.4.1 sends any amount of text, long URLs, images, and more from the users Mac, Windows, or Linux based computer in mere seconds.

Here are some of the features that make this the most powerful app of its kind:

  • Now supports iOS 4
  • Works over 3G or WiFi
  • Uses Push Notifications to simplify workflow
  • Call any telephone number from any application or Web browser
  • Import Contacts form Apple's Address Book or Microsoft Outlook
  • Autocomplete and Quick Dial for Phone Numbers
  • Open complicated URL with Map location or route on your iPhone in seconds
  • Open supported document URLs in Mobile Stanza
  • Send data by e-mail
  • Send your notes or any amount of text to your device in seconds
  • Save Images or Photos to your iPhone from any application or Web browser
  • Use the free Desktop client (Mac OS X, Windows, Linux) or Web Client
  • Handy global keyboard shortcuts and automatic content type recognition
  • Plugins for popular applications like LaunchBar or Apple Address Book
  • Bookmarklet to send any content from any Webpage to your iPhone
  • New "Clear Data" button in each View

Users can now compose SMS or emails on their computer, and use the free desktop or web client to push the text directly to their iPhone without ever touching the device's cumbersome touchpad. They can also copy notes, text from Word documents, even entire web pages, and send them to their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch instead of tediously inputting one character at a time.

myPhoneDesktop 1.4.1 also give users the option of pushing this information to their device to be viewed, or sending it straight to the clipboard to be pasted elsewhere. Images can also be sent to be viewed in the device's photo app, or saved directly to the photo roll. Instead of typing long url's for maps and driving directions into their device, users can type or copy them on their desktop. When they push the url to their iDevice, it automatically opens the map so they can be on their way to their destination within seconds.

Device Requirements:

  • iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
  • Requires iPhone iOS 3.0 or later (iOS 4.0 Tested)
  • 0.9 MB

myPhoneDesktop 1.4.1 is $4.99 and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Productivity, Utility category. Promo codes are available for qualified reviewers. Please specify the website or blog you represent when making your request. To learn more about myPhoneDesktop 1.4.1, or other apps by jProductivity LLC, just visit their website.

USAA Redefines Car Buying with Auto Circle, Also Launches Home Circle to Help Members Find a Home

PR: Buying a car? USAA has an app for that.

Or, you can use Auto Circle on your iPhone to get the USAA price on a new car or compare insurance costs for different makes and models so you can make a fully informed purchasing decision. That's the power of Auto Circle.

Auto CircleFrom the industry leader that created Deposit@Mobile, USAA is making its members lives even easier by providing the first comprehensive mobile service that offers the ability to find, finance and insure a new vehicle via an iPhone. The program Auto Circle from USAA gives members everything they need to purchase a vehicle through one source via their iPhone, as well as online at autocircle.com.

In addition, USAA is launching Home Circle, a program that gives members the tools and services needed to find, purchase, rent and insure a home through one website homecircle.com. Some features of the service also are available via USAA's top-rated iPhone app, providing a robust home-search functionality along with personalization tools to make the search and buying processes easier.

USAA, a fully integrated financial services provider that focuses on serving the military and their families, launched both programs today on behalf of its 7.7 million members and more than 60 million consumers eligible for USAA membership.

Auto CircleGiven the unique challenges faced by the active military community, such as the need to purchase a vehicle while a spouse is deployed and moving more often than the U.S. population, USAA created Auto Circle and Home Circle to help members with these major purchases, while making the experiences more convenient and less stressful.

Auto Circle and Home Circle help us facilitate the financial security of our members by giving them a one-stop resource for their cars and homes, which are two of the largest financial decisions they make, said Wayne Peacock, executive vice president of member experience for USAA. Since our membership is highly mobile, we made these services mobile too, so members are empowered even while at the dealership or searching for a new place to live.

What Is Auto Circle?

Auto Circle from USAA is a program that puts USAA members in the driver's seat by making every step of the purchase process transparent through upfront access to information on vehicle pricing, financing and insurance costs. Members save an average of $4,508 off MSRP2 for new cars through its car-buying service, in addition to exclusive USAA member discounts on select GM and Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

"Auto Circle gives you the ability to walk into a dealership with confidence, whether you're there for a test drive or to pick up the keys to your new car," said Stuart Parker, president of the property and casualty group at USAA. Or, you can use Auto Circle on your iPhone to get the USAA price on a new car or compare insurance costs for different makes and models so you can make a fully informed purchasing decision. That's the power of Auto Circle.

The Auto Circle Experience:

  • Find a new or used vehicle via consolidated research from recognized resources at autocircle.com. These include newcartestdrive.com, Kelley Blue Book and TrueCarSM.com, which provides comprehensive pricing reports showing what others are paying in your area and how the USAA no-haggle price compares. New cars also can be found via the iPhone app. At autocircle.com, members also can access social tools that provide member ratings and reviews that allow them to obtain feedback on their planned purchase from friends via Facebook.
  • Save with the Lowest Price Guarantee on new vehicles at the more than 3,000 USAA certified dealerships via the iPhone app and autocircle.com. Members also have a Buy with Confidence guarantee that they will pay below Kelley Blue Book value on eligible used vehicles.

Finance with USAA Bank auto loans. Members can apply for new car financing and receive the convenience of dealer electronic funds transfer all from their iPhone. Members also can secure a competitive loan for a used car at autocircle.com.

  • Insure with USAA. Members who switch to USAA save $461 a year on average.* At launch, existing USAA auto policyholders can obtain insurance quotes and update insurance coverage via the iPhone.

In addition, USAA created the patent-pending USAA Preferred™ program, a new vehicle rating system that gives consumers a better way to determine value as they shop for vehicles. USAA designates certain vehicles based on safety, reliability, Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price, fuel economy, insurance costs and depreciation to help consumers make informed purchase decisions. On autocircle.com, USAA Preferred vehicles will receive a seal to indicate that they have been deemed as a good value by USAA.

USAA commissioned a survey to gain more insight into how consumers feel about the car-buying process.

Auto Circle™ Survey Findings:

  • Most consumers find car buying exciting (73%), time consuming (72%) and rewarding (70%), but one-third also find it frustrating (37%), confusing (30%) and intimidating (29%).
  • Nearly one-third (29%) of consumers are exhausted after buying a car.
  • More than half (52%) of consumers feel they paid too much for a car.
  • Most (75%) consumers think negotiating the final price/payment is stressful, and few (3%) enjoy negotiating.
  • More than one in 10 (14%) consumers prefer to have someone negotiate for them.
  • Two in five (19%) military spouses say the hardest part of buying/leasing a car without a spouse present is negotiating a good price.

What Is Home Circle?

Home CircleHome Circle from USAA is a program designed to meet the needs of USAA members, many of whom are military families who transfer frequently to unfamiliar cities. Through homecircle.com, members can conveniently search for homes for sale or rent and get connected to a knowledgeable local real estate agent. When they find their next home, Home Circle helps members apply for a mortgage and get insurance from one source.

The Home Circle Experience:

Search nationwide MLS listings of homes for sale, plus a robust listing of rental properties, including apartments. The service also enables the user to search by city, ZIP code, military base or neighborhood and obtain information on area schools, crime rates and nearby amenities such as shops and restaurants.

Personalize the home-buying or renting process by saving favorite listings, searches and neighborhoods. In addition, map out the proximity, along with driving directions, of homes to work, school and other areas of interest. Members also can use their iPhone to take photos, add personal captions and upload them to their saved listings all to help members remember the exact details of the homes they visited.

Save with MoversAdvantage, a unique real estate program that provides members with a local USAA MoversAdvantage Preferred Real Estate Agent, a USAA Real Estate Coordinator and, in most states, a cash bonus of up to $3,100 for buying and selling a home within the program.

Think of Home Circle as an all-access pass for our members. Through this program they can now tap into the same comprehensive listing information available to real estate agents, said David Bohne, president of banking services at USAA Bank. By combining that with the in-depth search functionality, mobile capabilities and the ability to finance and insure with one provider, we're helping members have a better home-buying or renting experience.

Members can access these services at autocircle.com, homecircle.com, or by downloading the free USAA Mobile App by visiting the Apple App Store.

* Average annual savings based on countrywide survey of new customers from 10/1/08 to 09/30/09, who reported their prior insurers' premiums when they switched to USAA. Savings do not apply in MA.

Accessories

FridgePad, the iPad Fridge Mount

FridgePadPR: Features

  • Fast and easy iPad clip in and removal
  • iPad securely and snuggly held
  • Allows hands free use of the iPad
  • Full access to all ports and buttons
  • Magnetically attaches without any tools
  • Large powerful magnet to eliminate any movement
  • Works in both portrait and landscape mode
  • Can be easily removed and repositioned
  • Does not mark or damage your fridge or iPad
  • Designed to enhance your kitchen and home
  • Future proof design
  • Patent Pending design
  • Cast & machined from high quality aluminium
  • Finished in luxurious anodised silver

But why would I want one...

  • Provides a great location in the centre of your home for everyone to use the iPad.
  • No more hunting around to find where you last put your iPad.
  • Great convenient location for reading cookery books, watching live TV or videos.
  • Check the news, travel and weather whilst you have breakfast.
  • Perfect location for quick and simple email checking and Internet browsing.
  • Puts the iPad in a perfect position for listening to music whilst cooking or eating.
  • Gets your iPad away from kitchen mess and grime.
  • Provides a quick and simple storage location and keeps your iPad out of harms way (pets, children).

Colours & Finish

  • FridgePad is finished in high quality anodised silver to match your Apple iPad.
  • Custom powder coated painted finishes will be coming soon in Cream, White and Black, to match the most popular designer fridges.

FridgePad will be available through Amazon.com. Sales and shipping should start Autumn 2010.

The FridgePad is manufactured from high quality aluminum and plastics and will be finished in numerous colours to match your iPad or your designer fridge. The FridgePad is designed to enhance the look and feel of your kitchen and home and not to look out of place.

The FridgePad will mount to any fridge door that is made of steel. The fridge door also requires a flat section that is at least 21cm x 16cm in size. The majority of fridges can easily accommodate these requirements but a very small number of fridges have a continuously curved door, so please check before purchase.

The FridgePad has been designed to be future proof with replaceable corner clips. If and when Apple change the design of the iPad then you will be able to purchase new corner clips to accommodate new iPad shape.

The magnet will not damage your iPad electronics or battery. Your iPad is held securely in plastic retention clips which ensure that it does not come in contact with metal parts and does not get damaged or scratched. The magnet will not delete or wipe data off the iPad's solid state memory. Solid state memory is not affected by magnets, unlike hard drive units and floppy disks. Nor does the magnet have an affect on the wireless/WiFi or 3G signal. The only effect that you will see on your iPad is that the inbuilt compass will not be very accurate and will report an error. This is simply because the earth's magnetic field it is trying to detect is being disrupted by the FridgePad's magnet. This will not damage the iPad's compass.

The FridgePad will not damage your fridge. It is held onto your fridge with a very large rubber magnet, and this also ensures that no metal comes in contact with your fridge.

Accessories coming soon...

  • Power block charger
  • Table top stand
  • Kitchen cupboard door mount

Projected MSRP - $76

Logitech's Rechargeable Speaker Dock for the iPod/iPhone Has Bold Sound, 8-Hour Battery

PR: Logitech has unveiled the Logitech Rechargeable Speaker S715i, a portable speaker dock for iPod and iPhone that delivers bold sound you can carry around. Featuring eight custom-designed speaker drivers and an eight-hour rechargeable battery, the newest Logitech speaker looks like a beauty and sounds like a beast.

Logitech Rechargeable Speaker S715i"With this system, we set out to deliver our next generation in sound quality for a speaker dock for the iPod," says Mark Schneider, vice president and general manager of Logitech's audio business unit. "The new Rechargeable Speaker S715i offers eight drivers - twice that of our previous speaker docks - and includes a rechargeable battery so you can take your tunes with you. So go ahead, lose yourself in your music - and never worry about disposable batteries again."

To bring your music to life, the Logitech Rechargeable Speaker S715i delivers crisp audio thanks to two three-inch laser-tuned neodymium drivers for a rich mid range, two half-inch neodymium tweeters for crisp high notes and four two-inch passive radiators for deep bass. The result is rich, balanced audio in a compact design for iPod and iPhone.

The Logitech Rechargeable Speaker S715i comes with a wireless remote control to give you command over functions such as power, volume, play, pause, shuffle, skip and repeat from up to 30 feet (10 meters) away. For your convenience, you can take the dock with you in the included travel case that also has space for the power adapter and remote.

You know that the Logitech S715i will work with your iPod or iPhone since the speaker is certified through the Made for iPod and iPhone programs. In addition, the speaker's innovative dock design works with any iPhone or iPod with a Universal Dock Connector no trays necessary.

The Logitech Rechargeable Speaker S715i is expected to be available in the US and Europe in August for a suggested retail price of $149.99.

Protection

Caze Zero 5, World's Thinnest Case for iPhone 4

PR: Caze announces the Zero 5 case for iPhone 4. The Zero 5 (0.5mm) iPhone 4 case is sleek, slim, and form-fitting; you will not even know that it is on. It features a 0.5mm thinness and is made of lightweight, ultra strong, and durable Grilamid® TR-90 material. It protects the sides of the iPhone by protruding slightly above the front screen and can address the antenna concern. The back of the case has a precise cutout for the iPhone's camera and flash. To ensure your iPhone receives 360° protection, front and back films are provided.

Caze Zero 5 case for iPhone 4Searching for a case that would protect your iPhone 4 and would retain its slim form and sleek appearance? That's what Caze Zero 5 (0.5mm) iPhone 4 Case does. As the name implies, Zero 5 (0.5mm) is very slim and only has 0.5mm wall thickness. As it's so thin, you would barely notice its presence. It is made of Grilamid TR-90 which is a plastic polymer commonly used in the creation of sport and other impact-resistant eyewear frames. TR-90-made products are lightweight, remarkably tough, highly flexible, shatterproof and highly resistant to UV damage. Besides its super slim body that measures only 0.5mm in thickness, Zero 5 is durable and offers comprehensive protection to your iPhone. It has complete access to all the main ports and buttons of your device. Charging has also never been easy since you do not have to remove the case.

Zero 5 (0.5mm) is a bit raised to protect your screen from further scratches when laid on a flat surface. To ensure all-around protection, the package comes with a free screen protection kit (front & back films) for added shield.

If you want to preserve the original look of your iPhone 4, you can order now at their official website. Colors obtainable for now are clear and grey. Aside from the almost unnoticeable case, you will get a clear protector at the front and back, a microfiber cloth, and a wallet size iPhone stand.

Hard Candy Cases' iPhone 4 Photo Flash Contest: Prizes Include iTunes Gift Cards and Hard Candy Products

Hard Candy Cases for iPhone 4PR: While some early to market iPhone 4 case manufacturers pushed out products with design flaws - overly small Flash Camera cut-outs that resulted in washed-out photos - Hard Candy Cases engineered shells were made to work with the iPhone 4's newest feature. To celebrate the great designs and new iPhone 4 camera function, the Apple-centric case company announced today a photo contest which will be open to iPhone 4 users in the US.

Hard Candy Cases for iPhone 4"We wanted to celebrate the new Flash Camera function on the iPhone 4 by showcasing great photos taken with it, and thought what better way to reward great photos than with iTunes bucks and a shiny, new case," says Tim Hickman, CEO of Hard Candy Cases.

"And, as an avid iPhone user myself, I have been taking clear photos to upload to my Facebook and blog, with my Hard Candy Cases Bubble Slider firmly protecting my new gadget."

The contest, which calls for initial photo entries on Monday, July 26, will be open to amateurs and professionals who use their new iPhone 4 for photo taking. The grand prize winner will be awarded an Apple iTunes gift card for $250 and five Hard Candy Case iPhone 4 products of their choice. Additionally, five first place entrants will win one Hard Candy Cases iPhone 4 shell of their choice from each designer line (total of five cases).

Hard Candy Cases for iPhone 4The judging panel will be comprised of Hard Candy Cases executives and creative professionals, with the winning photographs to be announced on the website in September. Photos must be submitted through hardcandycases.com (link below), with a deadline date of August 31.

Photos must be taken with the new iPhone 4 and fit within the following themes:

  • Candy photos
  • Fashion photos
  • Flash photos (utilizing the iPhone 4's latest feature)

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