The 5 Best Features Coming To Apple’s iOS5

At Apple’s semi-recent keynote event, Steve Jobs announced a slew of new software and features that would be gracing his beloved ecosystem of Apple-powered devices. Most importantly, he outlined what we could expect from Mac OS X Lion, and the much-anticipated iOS 5. The latter software update comes with a ton of improvements that touch upon almost every major gripe that users have had with the iOS over the last year.

Here we have highlighted what we think are the most exciting features coming this fall with the public release of iOS 5.

Notification Center

It’s been a long time coming, but Apple has finally come to their senses and taken the axe to their ridiculously annoying pop-up system for notifications. Just think, you will no longer be interrupted during literally every task you can perform on your phone with the absurd choice to either deal with it now or banish the notification to cyberspace because there was no other option.

Instead, you’ve got a neat and clean place to hold all those notifications you build up in a day. Swipe down from the top of your screen and the Notification Center will slide down as well displaying a categorized list of all the notifications requiring your attention. Plus, you’ll be able to see what notifications await you from your lock screen, along with information gathered by the Stocks and Weather apps on your iDevice.

Wireless Sync + Updates

USB cords are a thing of the past (except for charging your device, that still needs a wire). But as far as updates and syncing are concerned, you can put those cords to rest. Starting this fall, when iOS 5 is due for a public release, Apple’s devices will be usable out of the box, doing away with the need to first plug in your device, update software, and sync all your media.

Software updates will now be done over the air, like virtually every other smartphone on the market. Syncing will be equally wireless and your device will perform a full sync with your PC every time you plug it into a wall outlet. A huge benefit of this is that all of your Apple-powered devices can now easily stay synchronized, sporting the same media and apps so there is nothing missing for your next road trip.

iMessage

If you’ve already been using WhatsApp Messenger, iMessage won’t change your life too much. iMessage follows the same formula laid down by WhatsApp and is basically Apple’s response to the consistently popular BlackBerry Messaging system (BBM). You’ll be able to avoid text messaging charges by using the service, and allows you to see when messages are both delivered successfully and when they are read by the intended recipient.

Naturally, with Apple’s new wireless sync features, you will be able to continue your conversations on any of your devices. Since this was BlackBerry’s only claim to fame with younger generations, it can’t mean good things for their company.

Twitter Integration

The ability for smartphones to integrate seamlessly with various social media platforms is currently a work in progress, but more and more mobile operating systems are embracing the idea and doing it well, like Windows Phone 7 did with Facebook. It looks like Apple aims to achieve the same success with their inclusion of Twitter in the core of their OS. Besides a dedicated contact field for Twitter usernames, iOS 5 will feature automatic Twitter sharing from the Camera, YouTube, Maps, and Safari apps. It seems like they really thought this inclusion through and it will add a lot of functionality to the platform.

Mobile Safari Update

A big new feature in Safari is the addition of “Safari Reader”, which will reformat webpages (removing ads and moving text, etc) in order to make the page more readable and “mobile-friendly”. Reading List is another new feature, essentially a built-in Instapaper, and lets you save webpages and make them available to read offline across all of your devices.

Tabbed browsing has also been introduced in iOS 5 and it is exactly what it sounds like. Tabs line up underneath the address bar and represent each open web page you have running at that time. In addition to this, Apple has promised “lightning fast” page switching, although we aren’t totally sure how fast that will be in terms of concrete numbers, but we do know that lightning is pretty dang fast.

Which of these features excites you most? Any other features from Apple you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments section below!

Midweek Fun! Test Your Puzzle Mettle In ‘The Heist’ For iOS

What could possibly be better than buying a single high quality puzzle game for just $0.99? If you answered, “two high quality puzzle games for just $0.99,” you are in luck. However, there is a small catch.

The good folks over at MacHeist have partnered with iOS developer tap tap tap to bring us The Heist. At first glance it appears to be your average puzzle game (which, let’s be honest, are a dime a dozen in the App Store), but lurking just under the surface is something more. If you manage to slog your way through enough puzzles, you can unlock a code to download another game, available for free on PC and Mac.

Thankfully, The Heist itself is a decent enough puzzle game that unlocking enough puzzles to get the free game isn’t a chore. In the game you’ll be playing through variations of four standard puzzle types.

First up is your standard block slider puzzle. Here the goal is to move the wooden blocks in such a way that the contraption in the middle is able to exit through the little hatch on the right side of the screen.

Next up is an interesting take on Sudoku. Instead of numbers you’re given hieroglyph-like pictures to put on the playing board. Only one of each hieroglyph may be in a single row or column, and each hieroglyph must be grouped with others of the same color.

Third you’ll find my personal favorite of the bunch, a sokoban-style sliding block puzzle. The goal here is to move a series of blocks onto an equal number of ‘final’ squares. The catch is that you’re only able to move the blocks by pushing them from behind. Pulling from the front isn’t allowed.

Up last is another sliding block puzzle you’ll probably recognize from your youth. You’re presented with a square grid with one of the interior squares missing. By manipulating the interior squares you need to connect the circles on the edge using wires of the same color as the circles.

As you continue to beat puzzles, more puzzles of increasing difficulty get unlocked. The puzzles near the end can get fiendishly difficult, but thankfully you don’t have to beat them all to unlock the second game (which is a very good thing, because I’m absolutely awful at the last type of sliding block puzzle).

So what is the unlockable game? I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that it’s worth more than the $0.99 you’ll pay for The Heist, and it’s available on Steam (which means you’ll need a Steam account to redeem it).

The Heist can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store.

Let Your iPhone Organize Your Life with NoteTask and SimpleNote

Yep, this is called productivity

Staying organized can be tough. Between paper notes, calendars, and technology, it can get pretty complicated to keep daily tasks in the forefront of one’s priorities. Heck, sometimes a person even needs to organize their organization methods just to keep their wits in place.

Now how can Techerator aid you in this prioritizing predicament? First off, I recommend getting a SimpleNote account, a free cloud-based space where you can sync and update any note created on a device. From Windows to Mac to Android to iPhone/iPad/iPod, any note changed or created on these devices becomes automatically updated and stored.

Fortunately for us, there are plenty of applications to help us sync these SimpleNote notes and better our lives. So let us take a look at a nice iOS application (an alternative to the official SimpleNote application we previously covered): NoteTask.

NoteTask, available in the Apple App Store, is an interesting meld. Not only does it allow your SimpleNote notes be downloaded, uploaded, and updated, but it has a special feature that allows notes to be changed into task-like to do lists.

Note + Task = NoteTask

As you can see, every time a hyphen is used in a note, NoteTask automatically makes a nice box to check off. If a colon is used, an entirely different section is created in the note for more tasks to be added in. Pretty cool, eh? Futhermore, stickers can be used to tag and sort notes in the main application screen and an underscore before the first words can be used to hide notes.

NoteTask works on all Apple devices running iOS 4.0 or greater, and a free, lite version of the application is available for download. Otherwise, for $2.99, all these things and more can be yours.

Get those prioritizing shoes on, Apple users. NoteTask is here to help.

Mobile Game Review: NBA Jam For iOS

Boomshakalaka!

Having grown up in the ’90s, NBA Jam: Tournament Edition is one of the many games I look back on fondly. Before the release of Goldeneye, NBA Jam is what my friends and I would play nonstop. Packed with outrageous dunks, an over-enthusiastic announcer, and violent gameplay that only vaguely follows the rules of basketball, NBA Jam single-handedly created a new genre of sports games that is still mimicked to this day.

Late last year, the NBA Jam franchise was revived by EA Sports with a new game releasing on the Wii, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3, and just a few weeks ago, a trimmed down version of the game was released on the iTunes App Store. Does it live up to the NBA Jam legacy?

Like all good arcade games, the basics of the game are incredibly simple and easy to pick up. At its core, you’re playing a 2-on-2 game of basketball, but the traditional elements of basketball are nowhere to be found. There’s no such thing as double dribbling, fouling is encouraged, and every player (even Steve Nash) has the ability to jump dozens of feet in the air to perform awe-inspiring dunks. If a player manages to make three baskets in a row, he’s designated ‘on fire’ (denoted by the ball literally being on fire when he touches it) and given unlimited turbo, even more ridiculous dunking abilities, better jump shots, and  the ability to goaltend at will.

For a mobile game, NBA Jam offers a substantial amount of gameplay. It has the standard quick play option if you want to just pick a team and start playing, but you’ll also find a familiar (if you’ve played previous games in the series) campaign mode, where you pick a team and play successive games against every other team in the league until you’ve beaten them all. Like most modern games, NBA Jam also comes with the requisite achievements, giving any achievement hoarders out there something to work for.

Unlocking achievements also unlocks extras such as cheats, different ball skins, and, most importantly, classic players. Not all of your favorite NBA legends will make an appearance, but there’s bound to be at least a few you’ll want to unlock.

Noticeably absent, however, is any form of multiplayer. Part of the fun of NBA Jam is playing with your friends, and, unfortunately, that’s not possible at this time. We can only hope that it’s patched in at a later date.

As in most console-to-mobile ports, NBA Jam features the dreaded on-screen control pad. Controls make or break a game on a touch-only platform, and I’ve given up on plenty of games because of shoddy controls. Thankfully, NBA Jam doesn’t fall into that category. Part of this is due to the control simplicity. With only three buttons to manage (turbo, pass, and shoot) plus the onscreen analog stick, your fingers don’t get lost.

Of course, without any tactile feedback, it is possible for your fingers to start to wander. Also, since some screen real estate is necessarily taken away to make room for the controls, it’s possible to run into instances where the game action takes place right under your fingers, making it difficult to see what’s going on. These issues can be overlooked, however, as they don’t crop up frequently enough to mar the experience.

Graphically, NBA Jam is simple but adequate. The low-poly bodies are topped by heads with unnaturally high-resolution scans of the players’ faces pasted on. The heads don’t really rotate in any natural way, so it’s not uncommon to see Exorcist-like moments where a player’s head appears to be facing backwards. Somehow, though, it all manages to fit into the NBA Jam style.

In true NBA Jam form, codes can be entered to play as hidden (mostly political) characters. Old favorites like Bill and Hilary Clinton are joined by newcomers Barack Obama, Al Gore, Sarah Palin, and more. How can you not enjoy a game that lets you dunk on Sarah Palin?

NBA Jam for iOS is a return to the series’ roots, which is where I feel it’s strongest. Classic, accessible gameplay makes NBA Jam a must buy for old fans of the series and newcomers alike. Lack of any sort of multiplayer is a bummer, but you’ll still find plenty to enjoy. NBA Jam is available for download in the iTunes App Store now for $4.99.

iPhone 4: Coming to Verizon on February 10

Promo Image/Apple.com

After years of wanting and months of speculations, the iPhone is finally coming to the Verizon network. I honestly never thought this would happen!

Announcement

A press conference was held this morning in New York City. At the press conference, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam and Apple COO Tim Cook, along with Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead made the big announcement. Apple CEO Steve Jobs was not in attendance, or at least not on stage.

Via press conference this morning, Verizon officially announced that the iPhone 4 will be available from Verizon on February 10 – less than a month away – with pre-sale starting for current Verizon customers on February 3. Those not currently on the Verizon network must unfortunately wait until the 10th to get the phone, with no pre-sale.

Pricing

The Verizon iPhone 4 will be available in two sizes: 16GB and 32GB. With a new two-year contract, the 16GB iPhone 4 will be $199, and the 32GB iPhone 4 will come in just a hundred dollars more at $299.

Network

Unfortunately, the iPhone 4 on the Verizon network seems to lack some of the features that are currently on the AT&T network. Since the phone is a Verizon 3G phone (EV-DO), the phone won’t support 4G data nor will it support GSM roaming. In order to support the 4G network, the phone would have had to have a new design. With the phone having been in testing for over a year, Verizon didn’t want to make their customers wait even longer because of redesign. So, basically, the phone won’t work globally.

Another feature that the Verizon network doesn’t support, which could be a deal breaker, is that you can’t surf the web and talk on the phone at the same time. Besides the difference among the networks, it seems from the press conference that the Verizon’s iPhone 4 will be unchanged from the iPhone 4 on the AT&T network.

Software

One of the biggest software changes is the addition of a 5 user Wi-Fi hotspot – something that is found on the Android phones.  For those who aren’t familiar with the technology, it allows your phone to tether to more than one computer. The phone on the AT&T network still is only able to tether to one computer. In essence, the Verizon phone will be able to share its 3G connection with up to five other Wi-Fi devices. That feature, however, will most likely have an additional monthly cost.

Physical Device

The Verizon iPhone 4 looks very similar to its AT&T counterpart. One of the most surprising things to me is that Verizon’s branding is nowhere to be found on the phone. Another slight change, which really isn’t all that noticeable, is a small bump near the volume buttons.  This is due to the extra antenna that was added to the phone for Verizon’s network. The Verizon phone has four antennas, while the AT&T phone has three.

Conclusion

Will you be jumping on the Verizon bandwagon to get the iPhone 4, or switching from your current device if you’re already on the Verizon network? I’m thinking about it, but with so many great Android phones on the market now (and the promise of greater ones) – I don’t really see the point. I think the iPhone craze is starting to fade.

I will be interested to see just how many people leave AT&T for Verizon. My bet: a lot of people!

Leave me a comment below, telling me what you think about Verizon finally getting the iPhone and if you’re going to be one of those people in line on Feb 10.

Apple/Verizon iPhone 4 Press Release

“Catch” the New Way to Organize Notes with Smartphones and Browsers

We’ve all done it; emailed yourself a note or reminder while at work or on the go, then weeding through your bursting inbox trying to find it. There is the option of a mailbox search with keywords, but it’s pretty much a bust if you can’t find something in 10 seconds.

Catch Notes

With the birth of the smartphone, this act of note-taking has become even worse, as using the inbox search option on your phone is more painful than admitting to liking a certain teen idol with a prepubescent voice and hippie hair.

Have no fear.  You can keep your idol obsession in the closet and manage to stay organized quickly, securely, and all in one place, no matter where you go.

Enter Catch Notes.

Catch Notes is the quintessential note keeper of the universe, and there are several ways to input a note (or an infinite number of ‘em). From basic browser to mobile input, and even an option to email notes to your Catch account for later, this application goes above and beyond the old fashion pen and paper method, syncing your notes and account to any device of your choosing and making it available 24/7.

Available for Android, iPhone and iPad, this free (yes, FREE!) application not only keeps notes, it gives you the option to share those notes (in text or link) through several different methods:  email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter or any application on Android that accepts shared content.

Catch Notes mobile app.

Don’t have a smartphone? Catch Notes also has browser extensions available for IE8, Firefox and Chrome, so now you can “bookmark” your favorite Techerator articles in Catch Notes and have them all in one place versus having to add them to your “Favorites” and sort it out from there.  And for added security, Catch Notes gives you the option to set a four-digit login PIN to keep your notes secret and safe in case anyone tries to light-finger your precious cargo.

There are other note taking applications out there, like Evernote and Springpad, but if you want something light, quick, and easy to use, Catch Notes is your best bet.  Of course, it’s all preference. As an aspiring novelist (but current spotty blogger) I use Catch Notes to “write down” my story ideas. Not only can I write it down, but I can also attach photos, just in case I find something that inspires a project or a piece. The downside is that it only allows one photo per note.

On the brighter side, though, if you have an existing Google or Facebook account you can simply use it to login to Catch Notes versus creating another account you may not use if you find Catch Notes isn’t for you.

Previous logo: 3banana

Lastly, I can’t help but be bummed out that Catch decided to change its name a few months ago (September to be exact). Formerly known as “3banana,” complete with a Chiquita label, the company decided on a name change to better fit its mission and embody the functions of the app. Its current icon?  A simple orange box with a white “C.” Simple and easy, just like Catch Notes.

For more information on Catch Notes, visit their website or their blog to see what progress this app is making. It’s a great way to stay in the loop on upgrades and new features.

Techerator Holiday Gift Guide: Gamer’s Edition

The holidays are right around the corner, and if you’re anything like me you haven’t even thought about starting to shop for gifts. In the past this situation might have ended with you in tears at the mall, desperately fighting against throngs of soccer moms and biting children, hoping to grab the last of whatever this year’s best seller ends up being in the final days leading to Christmas.

This year, however, with our series of gift guides and the convenience of online shopping, you can buy gifts for everyone on your list in between matches of Call of Duty.

Gamers can be a tricky bunch to buy for. Taste in games varies wildly, and if you’re unlucky you might accidentally buy Kinect Sports for someone who was hoping to play Fallout on Christmas morning. Talk about embarrassing.

Thankfully, some games have near universal appeal, that any gamer would be happy to find in his or her stocking. I’m here to tell you about these games, one for each of the major systems available today.

PC – Minecraft

Do you have someone on your list who likes Legos? Of course you do, everyone likes Legos. It should then follow naturally that everyone likes Minecraft.

Minecraft has been around for a while now, but this past summer it saw an explosion in popularity, and it seemed like every PC gaming website on the planet was giving their take on the indie sensation. All this attention didn’t come without a reason, and Mincraft – though it’s still in the alpha stage of development – manages to live up to the lofty expectations set by its success.

In its current form Minecraft is a pure sandbox style game. There are no goals to accomplish except those set by yourself, and you can do anything you want, whenever and wherever you want. All the geometry in the game (including your character) is based around the simple Lego-style block, which can be combined with other blocks of different types to form new objects. Punch a tree for long enough and a block of wood will fall out. Combine two blocks of wood and you get a stick. Combine that stick with blocks of coal that can be mined, and you end up with a torch that can light your path.

Blocks of material can also be moved around to create structures in the game world. This comes in handy, as you can build yourself a house to protect you from the monsters that come out during the game’s nighttime.

On top of how fun and engaging Minecraft can be, until it’s final release the game can be bought at a discount. That means you can afford to buy yourself a copy as well!

Try building THAT with your Legos.

Xbox 360 – Fable III

Peter Molyneux, the mind behind the Fable series, is a bit of a controversial figure in the world of gaming. He’s the man responsible for some of the greatest games in the history of the PC, including Dungeon Keeper, Theme Park, Magic Carpet, and Black & White. More recently, however, he has a habit of making claims that his games cannot possibly deliver on (see his Wikipedia entry for more information).

Thankfully, Fable III manages to live up to most of the hype and offer an enjoyable gaming experience. If you played Fable II, you should feel right at home as you’ll be slinging the same spells at the same Balverines, working to level up your melee, ranged, and magical arsenals.

On top of the familiar gameplay, your character now also has to deal with the day to day management of a kingdom, with your decisions influencing the direction the game takes. Heavily tax your citizens and let criminals wander freely and the world responds by becoming visibly poorer. Take the opposite strategy and watch as your kingdom flourishes.

Fable III isn’t without its flaws, but is absolutely bursting with charm that makes it impossible to not enjoy, making it an excellent holiday gift for that gamer on your list.

Playstation 3 – Gran Turismo 5

Ok, I lied a little bit earlier. Gran Turismo 5 might not have universal appeal, but to the right person it might be just what they’re hoping for, and it’s definitely going to be a big seller this holiday season. Does the person you’re shopping for make their own motor noises while cruising around town in their purple Dodge Stratus? Get them Gran Turismo 5 and they’ll love you for life.

Any car/driving/racing enthusiast will find plenty to do in Gran Turismo 5. The fifth iteration (obviously) of the critically acclaimed driving simulation series Gran Turismo, GT5 is a game that’s been in the making for six long years. It boasts a roster of over 1000 cars (though some are more detailed than others), and you’ll be doing everything from go-kart racing at 75 MPH, to learning about NASCAR from Jeff Gordon, to, of course, lots of racing in cars you’ll never be able to afford on real world tracks you’ll never visit.

Gran Turismo 5 certainly isn’t perfect, but it still manages to succeed on a level never before seen in a racing simulator. If you want to know what went on during those six years of development, hop into your favorite supercar and take it for a spin around Nürburgring. As you open up the throttle on the track’s long straightaway, taking in the beautiful scenery, the roar of the engine loud in your ears, you’ll know you’re playing something special. Or at least whoever you buy it for will.

Yes, it's that pretty

Wii – Goldeneye

Ah, the memories. Four kids huddled around a tiny TV. Each looking at their quarter of the screen, pretending not to look at anyone else’s. Ripping each other apart with RCP-90s and blowing each other to bits with the dreaded proximity mine. That one kid who always (annoyingly) picked Oddjob. If you played video games in the ’90s, you know exactly what I’m talking about: Goldeneye. The name alone brings back waves of nostalgia.

Unlike Perfect Dark for the Xbox 360, Goldeneye for the Wii isn’t a direct port of the N64 classic. Instead, it’s more of a re-imagining. Throughout the game you’ll see some familiar areas, but there’s plenty of new ground to cover and people to shoot. Additionally, Pierce Brosnan’s visage has been replaced by the most recent actor to play James Bond, Daniel Craig.

Multiplayer can be enjoyed by up to four people on one console, split-screen style, or you can opt to take the more modern approach and play with up to seven other people online. All your favorite classic characters make an appearance (yes, even Oddjob), and even the one-shot-one-kill Golden Gun returns to wreak havoc. Any classic gamer on your list lucky enough to get it will certainly enjoy Goldeneye.

Nintendo DS – Super Scribblenauts

Before its release, the original Scribblenauts was set to be quite possibly the greatest game of all time (I might be exaggerating slightly). It allowed you to think of nearly any object, type it out, and watch it appear before your eyes. Particularly tough enemy got you down? Instantiate a time machine, take it back to the past, and ride back to the present on a freaking dinosaur and eat the problem away. Or just summon Cthulu and watch as one of the Great Old Ones demolishes your opposition. Only your imagination (and the game’s nearly bottomless dictionary) stood in the way of solving all the puzzles the game had to offer.

Unfortunately, infuriating controls and some lame levels marred an otherwise enjoyable experience. This year, Scribblenauts is back, bigger and better than ever.

Super Scribblenauts manages to solve most of the problems of the first game. The annoying touch-based only controls of the previous installment can now be replaced by more precise d-pad controls if you wish, and the level design is much improved. Additionally, adjectives can now be attached to objects you summon. Why wield a simple sword when you can instead brandish a much more intimidating flaming sword? Almost anyone can find joy in playing Super Scribblenauts, making it a perfect gift.

Sony PSP – God of War: Ghost of Sparta

The God of War franchise is known for its stellar gameplay and polished gaming experience, and this excellence carries over to its latest mini form, Ghost of Sparta.

Just like in past incarnations of God of War, you play as the demigod Kratos, and like usual you’re mad as hell.  Thankfully there are legions of mythical creatures just waiting for you to hack and slash them to bits and release some of your anger.

And boy is that hacking and slashing pretty. Somehow God of War‘s developers have managed to cram the graphical quality of a PS2 game into the aging hardware of the PSP. Ghost of Sparta is one of the must-have games for Sony’s portable console, so it’s a safe purchase for that special someone on your list.

And now for a bonus stocking stuffer idea:

Xbox 360/PS3/Wii Online Points Card, or iTunes Gift Card

If you’re having a tough time deciding what to get, take the easy way out and buy the gaming equivalent of a gift card. All three of the major consoles have an online service where plenty of downloadable games are available for purchase, so they’re bound to find something they like.

While iTunes might be most recognized for its music store, there are also plenty of games available. If your giftee owns an iPod Touch or iPhone, an iTunes gift card makes a great gift idea.

That’s it from me. If you have additional suggestions for good gifts for gamers, feel free to leave them in the comments section found below!

Image credit: wlodi

Keep Your Roster Up-To-Date with the Yahoo! Fantasy Football App

Here I am in class, when I realize that the Minnesota Vikings have a bye week this week. Normally this wouldn’t bother me much (I’m a Packers fan), but I happen to be lucky enough to have Adrian Pederson on my fantasy football team. So, all of a sudden the bye week is a huge deal.

But alas! I am 1 hour into a 3 hour class, and let’s face it – I have no chance of remembering to change my roster when I finish class.  I could jot down a reminder in SimpleNote, or I could pull up Yahoo! Fantasy ’10 for iPhone/iPod Touch (or Android) and swap him for Justin Forsette (he’s about to run all over St. Louis) right on the spot.

Yahoo Fantasy '10 search feature makes it easy to find available players

As I log in to make the covert roster swap, I see a big red “Roster Alert” button. I’ve never seen one of these before so I push the big red button. Turns out my kickers spot is empty (dropped Garret Heartly) so I make that switch as well.

Roster Alerts tell you if you have an empty starting slot

All of this was very convenient, but this wasn’t why I picked up the app. The main reason I got this app was for live score updates without having to sit in front of a computer all Sunday. I’ve tried to do this on a few separate weekends and so far have had no luck -the app seems to work fine until the games start and then becomes incredibly slow. It has gotten better week by week, and there has been an update since my last attempt so hopefully this gets resolved soon.


Live updated scores for each player, when it works...

This app is fairly simple and useful. Obviously it only does you any good if you have a fantasy football league on Yahoo. It allows you to view all the match-ups going on that week. The app also allows you to read any recent news happening with your players, although it would be nice if you could get alerts for injuries and other news.

If you are in a Yahoo Fantasy League and you have an iOS or Android device, give this a look. It’s good for quick (or last minute) roster changes and can help you keep tabs on how your team is doing on Sundays. If they work out the bugs, that is.

Review: Netflix for iPhone and iPod Touch

So I’m sitting at work, enjoying my 150th consecutive minute of Warren Miller films on Netflix when my iPod pauses the movie to tell me I have 20% battery life left.

One worry I had when I downloaded the free Netflix app for iPhone and iPod Touch was what the battery life was going to be like, so I charged up my iPod Touch and started playing movies until it wouldn’t let me play anymore. I was fairly surprised that I got through about two whole movies before it died on me (this was on WiFi). I’m not sure how much streaming the movies through 3G will affect battery life.

The Netflix app for iPhone/iPod Touch lets you browse and search for movies, unlike the Netflix app for Xbox 360 that only lets you browse certain movies and your Instant Queue. It also syncs the progress of the movies you’ve watched so far, so if you are in the middle of streaming a movie on your computer at home and have to take off you can start right where you left off with your iPhone.

The Netflix app has live search updates, although they take awhile to load

One nuisance is that while your iPod or iPhone won’t go into sleep mode when you’re watching a movie, it will automatically sleep if you pause it. This can get annoying because if I pause just to answer a quick phone call, my iPod has already gone to sleep by the time I return. Upon waking it up, I first have to wait for it to reconnect to wireless, and the app is prone to crashes while reloading. This causes me to have to relaunch the app and wait for the movie to load again.  After leaving for just 3 or so minutes, it can take me almost 5 minutes to start watching the movie again. This obviously isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever had happen to me, it does get annoying after a while.

Something that I noticed was missing from the app was a way to edit your DVD queue. I know the main focus of this app is to watch movies on your iPod/iPhone, but an option to add movies to and edit your DVD queue would be useful as well.

Performance-wise, the app runs a little slow and browsing through lists can get a little jittery and delayed, but is perfectly usable. The fact that I’m using a Gen 1 iPod Touch probably contributes to this slow behavior.

When I scroll up and down to browse through movies there is a slight lag

A little snag a few of you may run into is the maximum players allowed to run off a Netflix account. I have a mulit-disk plan so I can stream movies to six different players. I believe that if you have the basic single disk Netflix plan it will only allow you to activate one player. Using the Netflix app will count your iPhone/iPod as an activated player. So, if you have a single disk plan you might have to continually deactivate your iPhone/iPod as a player if you use streaming on a different device like a game console or computer.

Can anyone guess the movie?

All in all, I’m pleased with this app. Other than a few minor performance issues that could probably be attributed to my Gen 1 iPod Touch,the Netflix app has been a nice way to burn time when I’m on the go for 15 minutes here and there like between (or during) classes.

Create and Sync Notes on your Desktop, Phone, and the Web with Simplenote

Ever have an idea that you’re sure is going to make you rich, only to have forgotten it by the time you get home? Or how about the time you spent all week making a list of things you need the next time you go shopping, only to forget where you put it when the time finally came?  With Simplenote for iPhone (and other iOS devices like the iPod Touch), that’s all in the past.

Simplenote is a simple text editing service that allows you create, save, and view text notes.  The service can be accessed in a variety of different ways. The easiest way is to simply set up an account online and use the browser text editor. There is also a desktop application that you can download. This application saves your notes to your computer with the option to sync to your online account, which can be useful if you are in an area without WiFi.

The Simplenote app for iPhone and iPod Touch allows you to write and read notes on the go while syncing to your online account. (I’m actually writing this review with my iPod touch.)

Simplenote for iPhone and iPod Touch make it easy to add notes on the go.

A new feature to Simplenote is the addition of tags – these allow you to set one or more tags to each note. These tags can aid in searching for specific notes. Also, it’s now possible to look through older versions of notes you’ve created.

Tags can be useful when searching through lots of notes.

I have been looking to a program/app like Simplenote for quite some time. The whole interface is simple and fast, but it comes with a compromise: you won’t find auto formatting or spell check here. Simplenote probably wouldn’t be the best thing to write your next big novel on, but it works great for quickly jotting down information for use at a later time.