Flipboard 2.0 For iOS Brings Custom Magazines, Read Later And More

Flipboard is an extremely popular news reading app for smartphones and tablets running on the iOS and Android Operating Systems. Flipboard was originally designed for the iPad, which was later updated to add support for the iPhone and iPod Touch followed by Android smartphones and tablets. Flipboard is one of those apps which I’ve been using almost everyday on my iPad.

Flipboard recently released the version 2.0 of this amazing app. The new Flipboard allows you to collect and save articles, photos, audio and video by organizing them into beautiful magazines. You heard it right! Now you can even create you own digital magazines on Flipboard. These magazines can be made public to share them with the Flipboard community or you can choose to make your magazines private.


What’s new in Flipboard 2.0?

  • You can now collect and save content into your own magazines, tap the new “+” button to get started.
  • Your magazines are public, but can be made private (viewable only to you).
  • Use the new bookmarklet to add items to your magazines from your browser.
  • Get Flipboard notifications when people like, comment or subscribe to your magazines.
  • Easily email or share magazines to Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc.
  • Personalized recommendations for more to add to your Flipboard.
  • Search is now front and center on your Flipboard, with new and improved results.
  • Faster page-loading and faster flipping performance.

Flipboard 2.0 has also introduced a new commenting system which allows you to comments on articles and even use @mentions to interact with other Flipboard users. Apart from that, Flipboard also brings new “Flip It” bookmarklet which lets you flip the current page on Flipboard. This update is currently available only for iPad and iPhone users. Android users might have to wait for few weeks before getting their hands-on these amazing new features.

Scribble Press Review

Scribble Press is an iPad app that lets you create and illustrate stories and share them with others. It is an award winning app and I can see why. There’s a lot of fun to be had by both young and old. If you’re a parent, teacher, or homeschooling, this is a must-have app for iPad.

Scribble Press Screen
Start Screen for Scribble Press

Inspiring the Story Teller

I installed Scribble Press on my iPad recently and was amazed how quickly my seven year old picked up on how to use it. It took her about 5 minutes to figure out how to start using the built-in story templates and create her first story. That’s when I knew this FREE app had a lot to offer. Scribble Press is really about empowering the creative mind and giving them all the tools needed to create a story from start to finish. For the beginner, there are story templates that your children can pick from, such as “My Babysitter Is a Zombie”. The story pages are outlined in advance. All the child has to do is fill in some of the blanks with names and such. It doesn’t take long however, for your child to graduate from the templates to creating full-blown stories of their own. The other day my daughter read me a story she created that literally made me laugh out loud. How cool is that?!?

Illustrating Made Easy

The illustrating tools are incredible in Scribble Press. Your child can go to the marker wall, pictured below, and choose from an enormous amount of brilliant colors and different types of media. They can use markers, crayons, stamps, and much more. Not only can your child tell a story, but they can express their inner artist. If you’re a teacher, or homeschooling, I could see this being a great tool for inter-discipline teaching by combining language arts and visual art concepts. You might even use this app for team building by having one child write the story and another child illustrate the story.

Illustration Tools
Illustration Tools

The newest version of Scribble Press also lets you create graphics without having to write a story. This is pretty nice because, as you can see in the first picture above, there is a little shopping cart where you can purchase a hard copy book as well as, other nifty products with your illustrations on them.

Pros: Scribble Press makes story creation fun. The newest version allows multiple account creation on one iPad so you can set up separate profiles for multiple people. The story templates are there to inspire the young writer, but it is advanced enough to let them create stories from scratch. There are lots of illustrating tools and they can share their work with parental approval.

Cons: At the moment I don’t really have any to report. This is simply one of the best apps I have seen. Some may view the fact that additional templates cost money as a negative, but they’re not that expensive.

Scribble Press, in my opinion, is a 5 star program, and I would recommend it as an educational tool for anyone trying to teach children to write. Quite frankly, it’s fun for adults too. For more information, visit their page in the iTunes store at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scribble-press/id487300076?mt=8.

Review: Boxfish for iPad

Mobile apps have unquestionably made our lives easier and better. From helping us with discovering a new song to new things to do, there’s always an app for that. Meet Boxfish, a new app that highlights what’s actually happening right now on TV by analyzing hundreds of TV channels in real time. Boxfish wants to be the information engine for TV, letting viewers easily discover what’s hot, and also easily alerting them of when topics of interest come up.

How does it work? Boxfish gathers the closed captions from 3,600 cable and local broadcast stations all over the U.S. and indexes and analyses all the data in real time. CEO and founder Eoin Downling gave me a demo of how it works at the Boxfish HQ and I was simply blown away by the technology they are using. The result is presented as a constantly updating stream of trends and topics. Boxfish presents topics from sports, news, business, and celebrity gossip by default as a part of its live feed. Users also have the option to “favorite” their topics. They can also see what’s trending. The app can also be customized to be synced with a TiVo or a DirecTV set-top box. However, there’s no easy way of filtering out channels that a subscriber does not have access to.

I have been playing around with Boxfish for sometime now, and it is the most intriguing app that I have used in the past month. The app can be found overwhelming sometimes, but it is a great app that let’s TV watchers catch up on popular topics. Overall, the idea is very unique and Boxfish is a must have for TV lovers. It is like Twitter for TV. The application is a free download via the App Store [Download Link] and I’m told an iPhone app is on its way.

Boxfish was founded in 2010 in London, and the founders moved to the Bay Area in 2011. The company has raised a $3 million Series A round, which was led by Naya Ventures and T-Venture.

It’s Shark Week on Discovery Channel!

It’s hard to believe, but Discovery Channel is celebrating 25 years of Shark Week! All of Discovery’s programming is turned on its head as their prime time slots swallowed whole by these fearsome creatures of the deep. In a press release, Discovery promises their viewers “eight all-new shark-filled specials that get you so close to the action, if you were any closer you’d be bait!” Now that is close my friends!

Shiyam ElkCloner via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to know everything you could possibly imagine about sharks, then Shark Week is for you. Discovery has a website dedicated to Shark Week at http://www.sharkweek.com. There is a ton of trivia, videos, show previews, games, and lots of teeth! Embedded below, you can see a preview of tonight’s episode called “Sharkzilla”.

[Video Link]

If TV isn’t enough for you, fear not, Discovery has you covered. You can download the “Discovery Channel HD” app that let’s you in on all the action via your iPad. It is available in iTunes via this link. When you download this app, iPad users will have exclusive access to “Shark Week Plus”, an interactive second screen experience, synchronized to select shows from Shark Week’s 25th Anniversary! You can also play along with your Facebook friends while you’re watching Shark Week with Shark Week Bingo. Pictured below, you can pick which episode you are watching and you can click on game pieces as you see them come across your TV screen.

Shark Week Bingo

Somewhere in all the horror, fun and games, and the sheer amazement of Shark Week; hopefully, the most important message comes across. Sharks are extremely misunderstood and are suffering from both natural and man-made stressors that threaten their very existence. Perhaps the most important aspect of Discovery’s website is the link where you can support shark conservation efforts. For more information, visit https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/239-sharks-in-danger-of-extinction.

Review: Readdle’s PDF Expert

iOS’s iBooks comes with a built-in PDF viewer which does the basics, but what if the user wanted to do more than just view a PDF on their iPad? Well, now there’s a fantastic iPad app for that! The entire app is well thought out, feature rich, and offers a clean and easy to use user interface.

Let’s start off by talking about the app as just a standalone PDF reader. Since the app is feature rich, it offers much more functionality than the built-in PDF reader into iBooks. Readdle’s PDF Expert’s navigation options are much better, including a search for text feature. The search option is something iBooks lacks in my opinion. Also, the app supports chapter lists, bookmarks, and a page scroll feature at the bottom which allows you to quickly browse to a specific page, or skip pages.

PDF Expert for iPad

PDF Expert for iPad 2

The best part about this app is all the multiple notation options and the variety with which you can edit the text. You can freehand highlight text, but you also have the option of selecting block of text to highlight them the color of your choice as well. In addition, you can underline the text, strike-through, or even copy selected text.

Now you might be wondering how you can share and manage the PDFs you edit between a PC/Mac and iPad. Luckily, the app offers support for iDisk, Drobox, Google Docs, and many other services. There’s also an option to share via USB & iTunes File Sharing. Readdle also offer its own online storage, and your “free” account is included in the purchase of your app.

In the end I would suggest, if you are looking for a feature rich PDF viewer app for the iPad, then consider purchasing this app. Compared to other PDF readers at the same price, PDF Expert definitely wins hands down. You can download PDF Expert from the App Store for $9.99.

iPad App Store Hits 3 Billion Downloads

App Store logo

The growth of Apple’s iPad has been mind blowing in all areas. In fact, when it first launched, it was  considered  to be a failure, but now the iPad has become a PC replacement for many. Apple’s iPad sales have not only been amazing, but App Store growth has been too.

Now ABI Research, a research firm, has announced in a press release that 3 billion applications have been downloaded since the iPad first launched in 2010. In addition, the iPad represents nearly a fifth of all cumulative iOS downloads, despite the fact that it debuted nearly three years after the iPhone, and two years after the iOS App Store opened. Also, it is  estimated  that 120,000 applications have been created specifically for the iPad  available on the App Store as of the third quarter of 2011. That number sounds consistent with news that appeared last June after the number of applications on the App Store passed 100,000. ABI’s data does not include iPhone applications, which can also be run from the iPad but do not take advantage of the iPad’s larger screen.

In the end, Android and Android tablets are still “winning” though. Yay, oh wait…

Amazon Brings Christmas Wish Lists to Kindle Fire and iPad

Amazon.com has announced Amazon Santa, a free app for Kindle Fire and iPad that makes it fun and easy for children and their parents to create holiday wish lists to share with friends, family, and maybe Santa Claus.


The app provides a visual creation experience to browse and search more than five-hundred thousand kid-friendly items. Kids and their parents can explore by a product category or type a search to find the perfect gift with just the tap of a finger. Parents can review or edit the list as needed, and share the same with the child’s family and friends to help them with their holiday shopping. While the app makes it fun, easy, and intuitive for kids to figure out exactly what they want, it would help parents to spend quality time with their kids to bring in the holidays.

“Sometimes Santa can use help sorting out what gifts to give everyone and this new app makes it easy and fun for kids to create their perfect Wish List.”

– Sam Hall, Director, Amazon Mobile.

The Amazon Santa app is available for free from the Amazon Appstore or from iTunes. Download: iPad | Kindle Fire

Logitech Introduces Harmony Link App for Ipad

Yesterday, in a blog post by  Ashish Arora, Vice President and General Manager, Digital Home Group, Logitech introduced the Harmony Link and the Harmony Link App. The Harmony Link is a device that allows you to remotely control up to eight devices in your home. It is a sleek looking device with a slim profile. You can see a picture of it compared to the iPad and iPhone below.

Harmony Link
Photo Courtesy of Logitech Blog

The most impressive addition, however, is the Harmony Link App. The app is free to download and works seamlessly with the Harmony Link device. It basically turns your iPad into the coolest remote control ever! The app is available for the iPod Touch, the iPhone, and Android devices too. However, there are features that will only work on the iPad. One of the coolest features is the ability to get in-app TV listings. Pictured below, you can see what the TV listings look like in the app.

TV Listings
Courtesy of Logitech Blog

With a swipe of a finger, you can navigate through TV listings on your iPad. Want to see a show you like? Just tap the picture and the app will tune your TV to the show that you want to watch. You will also notice, in the picture above, an “Activities” menu. Here is a list of one-touch commands that will automatically power on the devices that you need in order to perform the activities.

Setup is easy. You connect Harmony Link to your wi-fi network and then tell it what devices you have. The device comes ready to control 5,000+ devices. It has the ability to learn commands from other remotes. It also comes with a “Mini Blaster” accessory, which allows you to connect to devices that might be hidden from view.

I have to admit, the gadget geek in me loves this new offering. It has a nice design and appears to be easy to use. It will be interesting to see how well the device works.  The Harmony Link device is set to hit the shelves in October. You can pre-order the device  here.

What do you think? Is this an app you would like to have for your iPad? Personally, I can’t wait until they come up with an app that feeds the dog. ;)



Google Releases Google Catalogs for iPad

Google is continuing to release new projects aimed at the mobile market. They previously released Google Shopper which helps users find local deals and online prices for popular products. Now, they have brought the experience of catalog shopping to the iPad. Their newest product is called Google Catalogs, and it’s exactly what it sounds like it is.

This app brings digital versions of many popular catalogs to tablets. They cover the categories including fashion and apparel, beauty, jewelry, home, kids and gifts. They have hooked up with many top brands including Crate and Barrel, L.L. Bean, Lands’ End, Macy’s, and Sephora.

These digital versions bring a number of unique features to catalog shoppings. You gain the ability to zoom, tap on tags to get more information, or even look at cool pictures or videos. You can then look up products in nearby stores or find it to purchase it online. You can then share your favorite products and catalogs with your friends via email.

Another really cool feature of Google Catalogs is the ability to create your own catalog to share. You can collect your favorite products and pages from various catalogs and compile them into one set. Then, you can send that catalog to family or friends. I see this being a great way to establish a  gift list for loved ones to shop from.

If you want to check out Google Catalogs, it is available for the iPad now. Google promises that an Android version of the application is coming soon. Check it out and let us know what you think. Leave us a comment to have your voice heard.

5 Must Have Back to School iPad Apps for 2011

That time of year is here once again. Summer is coming to an end, students are gathering their supplies, and classes will soon be in session once again. I know that many students, like myself, are getting iPads to use in class. I have been searching all summer for the apps that I think every student needs to have on their Apple tablet.

Now, before we get to the list, lets talk about iPads as education tools. For me, the iPad serves a handful of different purposes in my educational adventure. The first major use is as a textbook replacement. I hated having to carry heavy books around all the time, and bought an iPad to replace those. The benefits include having a light alternative, being able to save money by buying e-books, and still having full color diagrams. That brings me to my first pick.

1. Kno Textbooks (Free)

When I first started looking for textbook apps on the iPad, there weren’t that many options. I originally found CourseSmart, which is nice but doesn’t allow you to buy books in side the app, and Inkling, which doesn’t have a great selection of books. Then, I tried an app called Kno Textbooks.

Kno is a start-up company that originally started out making an education specific tablet. After determining the they couldn’t manage that project, the refocused on creating a great textbook app for the iPad. I can say that they have succeeded. They have a great selection, and in-app store, and a nice notation system.

The only feature I can’t seem to find is highlighting within the ebooks, but I can live without that. My one real gripe with Kno is that their entire collection of books is not available for purchase inside the app. however, you can access them all on the iPad, as well as in your browser and even on Facebook.

Alternatives: CourseSmart (Free), Inkling (Free)

When I originally got my iPad, I didn’t think I would be able to take notes with it. My original thinking was that I would try to type on the on-screen keyboard into something like Evernote. I quickly decided that was a horrid idea, but that I still wanted to try taking notes on my iPad. So i bought myself a $10 stylus on Amazon and gave it a shot. That brings me to my second must have app.

2. Noteshelf ($4.99)

I have bought more handwriting/note taking apps than almost anything else on my iPad. I tried most of the major players, including Notes Plus and Penultimate. While some had features I liked (voice recording in Notes Plus), none of them were exactly perfect. However, I have settled on one, and that app is Noteshelf.

Noteshelf has a number of nice features that make note taking in lectures very easy. They have one of the best zoom features, which allows you to more easily write in an organized manner. They also offer the ability to group notebooks, export to many services (including Evernote and Dropbox), and many customization apps.

My only real issue with Noteshelf is that it doesn’t do voice recordings. However, I always export my notes to Evernote so that I can read them on any machine, and that wouldn’t save the recording. in order to record a lecture, I use AudioMemos ($0.99) which records in the background. I then upload them to Dropbox for later listening.

Alternatives: Penultimate ($1.99), Notes Plus ($4.99)

The next use I have for my iPad is as a quick reference tool kit. I have multiple apps that are specific to my studies, like nutrition disorder charts and vitamin synthesis tables. Overall, the iPad serves this purpose very well. However, it is lacking a native calculator app. That’s why my next must have is a calculator for the iPad.

3. Calculator for iPad (Free)

Calculators are something that you don’t think about much outside of the world of academia. if I have to do any simple math while on my MacBook Pro, I simply do it in the Spotlight bar. However, I don’t carry this machine to class. If I need to do some short math while working in a class, I turn to Calculator for iPad.

Now, this calculator app is not very advanced. It offers enough scientific calculator functions for me to be satisfied. Most of the math I do is simple algebra type stuff, with the occasional constant substitution. I have seen more advanced calculators in the App Store, but I don’t need anything better than what Calculator offers.

I’m not sure what to offer as an alternative to Calculator for iPad. If all you need is a basic/scientific calculator, then go with it. If you need something better, you will probably buy a real calculator. Either way, you would be happy getting the free version of this app.

As far as I know, almost every student these days are forced into using PDFs. Despite being one of the most insecure file formats currently on the market, many educational institutions force us to use them. When they do, I like to have the ability to annotate them on my iPad, and that’s what my next app does.

4. PDF-Notes (Free)

Annotating PDFs is probably one of the best things about owning an iPad. Many of my professors release notes and outlines in PDF format, and it’s very helpful to be able to mark those up on the fly. I have found what I consider to be one of the best apps for that, and its made even better by having a free version.

PDF-Notes is my app of choice for annotating PDFs. It offers a great set of features including highlighting, writing handwritten and typed notes, and even PDF management. It offers a great zoom feature that makes it easier to handwrite notes on PDF documents. You also get the ability to export the annotated documents to Dropbox, email, or even other apps.

My only complaint with the free version of PDF-Notes is the ads. However, those are there so that the developer makes some money for their work. There is a pay version available, but it costs a whole 10 bucks. I’m not sure I’ll buy it any time soon.

Alternatives: iAnnotate PDF ($9.99)

Now that you have all this information, from your notes to your prepped PDFs, you need to think about syncing it all with your computer. For most students, the iPad is not a replacement for a traditional computer. It makes a great supplementary tool, but needs to synced with your real machine. For that, I recommend this last app.

5. Evernote/Dropbox (Free)

That’s right, my last pick is actually two different apps. If you use all the apps I have listed, you will need to make use of both Dropbox and Evernote. You can sync your notes to Evernote or Dropbox from within Noteshelf, save your recordings to Dropbox, and even export your PDFs to either service.

I can’t imagine being a student without Evernote and Dropbox. It has eliminated my need to carry a flash drive with me all the time. It also helps me keep track of all my notes and documents for my courses. They have revolutionized my education, and they both have fantastic (and free) iPad apps.

If you are already a user of both of these services, then you have no reason not to grab these iPad apps. They give you all the features you could want, including fantastic mobile control. I highly recommend these apps. Seriously. Go get them.

Download and Get Ready To Learn

So there you have it. 5 apps that every student needs before they get into their classes this fall. They are all incredibly useful, and none of them are super expensive. If you are carrying Apple’s tablet to classes this year, make sure you have these installed.

A note on surviving in education: All work and no play makes sure you will fail. Use that iPad to relax as well. Watch some movies on it, read via the Kindle app, or play some games. Even download a nice Facebook app and talk to your friend. I promise you will regret it if you don’t.

I also know that these are not all the apps a student needs. The App Store is full of more specific research apps that students will find useful. My wife has many engineering calculators and charts on her iPad, and I keep mine full of nutrition information. Search around and find some apps that will be great for you.

What apps did I miss on my list? What kind of app do you think every student with an iPad needs? Let me know you suggestions and thoughts by leaving a comment below. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.