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iPad/iPhone apps review

I’ve been using iPad and iPhone fore some time now and would like to share some of my experience with different apps. The apps reviewed may not be the best app for it’s use but it’s the best alternative I’ve found out there, and I use more apps than I’ve listed in this post.

Social Apps

Since I use Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live and LinkedIn to keep in contact with professionals as well as personal friends, I needed apps to use this service in a more streamlined fashion than the web. I tried out several apps for this purpose, some bundle-apps and some only for one of the services, but ended up using the following apps.

Other apps I’ve tried and chosen not to use include IM+, Twitter, owalla, MyPad and WordPress. I’m still trying to find a useful blog tool which supports rich-text formatting for viewing and editing.

But, why is the support for Microsoft’s online services so f#%"&! bad? I use both Live Messanger, Live SkyDrive, Live Hotmail and Live Office but these services are not supported by most apps. This goes for WordPress (and other blog services) as well. Why – I wonder!

Twitterific (Twitter)
It’s a simple app which does the work and I think it’s quite easy to use. It’s stable and fairly fast. Compared to other Twitter apps I think this one is the best becase of the features and the ease of use. It’s an alternative front-end for Twitter – nothing more and nothing less.

The app is available for both iPhone and iPad and is free to use!

Friendly (Facebook)
Since Facebook hasn’t made their own iPad app, I had to choose from different alternatives. I didn’t really like any of them, but Friendly seems to be the best of the bad. The app is quite slow and somewhat unstable. Lots of features are missing and in many cases you’re bounced of the actual web site inside the app.

The app is only available for iPad but it’s free to use with adds. An add-free version is available for purchase for about 1$.

Skype for iPhone
This app is made by Skype for use with Skype and does the job as expected. It has lots of features which may be a bit confusing. I don’t use the app a lot, but in some cases it’s very nice to be able to make a long distance phone or video call with the use of Internet as the carrier absolutely free.

The app is free and only for iPhone.

HootSuite (Social Bundle)
HootSuite supports both Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and is the only bundle I think is worth giving a thought. It’s fairly easy to use and quite fast.

The app is available for iPad and iPhone and is free.

FlipBoard (Social Bundle)
This is primarily a tool for reading, but it’s great for that purpuse. RSS-feeds, Facebook and Twitter are formatted as a newspaper, which makes it very user friendly and ease to read. The app is fairly fast and very easy to use. However, it is somewhat unstable which is quite annoying when you read a story.

The app is only available for iPad and is free!

Productivity and business tools

SharePlus
This is a great app. The purpose of the app is to be a front-end to SharePoint with both online and syncronized offline access. An integrated viewer will display close to any format document and if you have other apps installed for editing, you may use these to edit documents in a library. Since it syncronizes content from SharePoint sites (not only documents, but list contents as well) it may be used as a base of document storage and document transport. For me this is a far better file management tool than iFiles, DropBox and similar services.

The app is for both iPad and iPhone and there is a free edition with some limitations. The Pro edition is add free and includes the syncronization feature. The Pro edition costs about 15$.

Remote Desktop – RDP
Most remote desktop apps require an online account at the service provider who made the app. This was one of the few RDP clients I found which could be used regardless of service provider. It’s a clean RDP client to use with Windows 7. For commercial use with Windows Terminal Server I suggest a more robust RDP business client.

The app is made for both iPhone and iPad and costs about 7$.

Citrix Receiver
Citrix Receiver is an terminal client to use with Citrix servers. It’s more or less straight forward to use and is fairly stable.

The app is only available for iPad but is free.

Utilities

AppBox Pro
The AppBox is a must for iPhone. It’s a collection of tools you just can’t live without and even if it’s not written for iPad, it’s quite useful on that device too. The collection of tools include a secure e-wallet, alarm clock with music play, currency converter, flashlight, ruler, translator, unit converter, battery life, system status and much more.

The app is only made for iPhone but works fine on iPad as well. The Lite edition is free and the Pro edition costs about 3$.

Calculator (HD)
There are tons of calculator apps for both iPad and iPhone and they are more or less good apps. I’ve tried about a handfull and ended up with the "Calculator for iPad Free" made by the International Travel Weather Calculator Association.

The app is only for iPad and is free!

SPB Wallet
SPB Software has been in the mobile apps industry since the early beginning. Their initial focus was on Windows-based devices but because of the hype for Apple devices they now deliver several apps for iPhone. Since I’ve used SPB Wallet as my e-wallet for quite some time it felt like the right choice. I don’t think it’s the best tool for iPhones, but I didn’t want to convert all the content I had in my exsisting wallets. It’s possible to syncronize wallets between devices with either a G-mail account (unstable) or with Apple’s Bonjour.

The app is only for iPhone but works fine on iPad as well. However, it costs about 10$.

Penultimate
This is most likely the best handwriting app for iPad. Personally I find it hard to use my finger as a writing tool and would really like to be able to use a stylus or similar pointing device. However, that doesn’t work very well. Besides that the app is great. It’s stable and quick (which is a must for this kind of app!) and very easy to use.

The app is only for iPad and costs about 2$.

DropBox
Actually I don’t like DropBox, but if you need a file syncronization service and don’t mind that all your data is lost in the cloud, this is the most popular tool. You will need a DropBox account to use the app, even if it’s possible to access any WebDAV service. Personally I prefer SharePlus to syncronize files to my iPad and iPhone, but this requires the use of SharePoint at the back-end. I also use Live SkyDrive, but has yet been able to find an app I can use to syncronize files.

The app is free and available for both iPhone and iPad.

Games and entertainment

Media Player
The iPad is the best media player device but for some strange reason there is no good media player apps out there. The popular VLC player and VLC streamer works fine if you have a networked computer with the helper app. If you want to view a movie on the plane, just forget it. I also tried the "Movie Player" (priced at 3$), but it has some lagging and syncronization issues. It’s not too stable and not too fast, but otherwise the app is quite good. Now I’m trying out the "Buzz player" which supports both local files, network files and streams via AirPlay.

All the players may be used with both iPad and iPhone. None of them are free, but the price range is only 2-6$.

World Series of Poker Hold’em
There’s a lot of poker games available for iPhone and iPad. Personally I’ve found most poker apps to be boring and not realistic. The UIs is often slugish and not very user friendly. However, the World Series of Poker Hold’em is great. I’ve used it on Windows Mobile before and was happy to see it on iPhone. The graphic’s great and it’s fast to use even if the loading is slow.

The app is made for iPhone and iPad and the pro edition costs only 1$!

Mummys Treasure
This is a fun puzzle type game with about 20 hours of game time. It has very nice graphics and makes your brain work together with a touch of frustration.

The app is only for iPad and costs only 1$.

Last Temple
This is also a kind of puzzle game with nice graphics. It’s stable and quite fast and has lots of game time. I’d suggest about 40-50 hours of great puzzle fun. Some levels and special quests are quite hard, so if you want the "Gold level" you will have to make an effort.

The app is only for iPad and priced at 1$.

LUDO board game
If you ever want to be social with you iPad, this is the thing. The board game Ludo is an ancient board game for 2, 3 og 4 players. This app is a great implementation of the game and may be played on a single device.

The app is only for iPad and it’s free!

Other/miscellaneous

PayPal
PayPal has made an iPhone app to administer your personal PayPal account. It’s not a great app, but if you use PayPal it’s a must.

The app is made for iPhone but may be used on iPad. The app is free.

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Pads and Tabs

November 18, 2010 4 comments

The new market hype seems to be tabs and tabs, or tablets if you like. But for some mysterious reason it seems to me like the different devices are evaluated based on complete different perspectives and in most cases the wrong ones.

Because of this I want to tell you my story and what I concluded on.

Requirements

First of all lets take a look at what I need and how I would like to use my device. In general I want a business tool which is easier to use and take along compared to the traditional laptop, which means support for features and functionality like:

  • I want to have an intelligent synchronized copy of documents I need to take with me. Manual copy is not an option.
  • I want to comment on documents I read or review directly in the document in a reasonably easy fashion.
  • I want to connect to my corporate network to interact and collaborate with people I work with and use web based application and services in an adequate secure fashion.
  • I want to surf the web and use intelligent and advanced features such as Silverlight, Flash and Java based applications.
  • I want to take notes when I’m in a meeting or get one of my fantastic ideas, but I don’t need to be able to write huge documents and reports.
  • I want to use e-mail and IM from my corporate network in an easy and efficient manor. Maybe even communicate with my personal contacts through public IM and social services.
  • I want a small and handy device which is quick and responsive and has enough power to last an entire workday without recharging.
  • I want to be able to use my device as a media player and be able to watch streaming video from my partners, TV and corporate internal streams.
  • I want my device to be online 24×7 without much interaction from me. Support for wireless LAN and high speed mobile internet access is a minimum requirement.

Research & Review

Based on the requirements I’ve done lots of research and tried out different devices. In general it seems like all the major vendors are focused on creating the most hip device and not the most useful device. I’ve checked out Apples iPad, the Samsung Galaxy tab (which use Android as OS), Amazon’s e-book reader and HPs brand new tablet PC running Windows 7.

The Amazon Kindle is more or less a pure e-book reader and is very good at that, but you can’t use it for anything else. Therefore it excluded it self. The next generation Kindle will be based on Android and have more or less the same features as any other Android based device.

The iPad and Android based devices are neat, but don’t have the business features I would expect from a device like this. None of them are very good as an input device. Apple states that hand writing recognition is something they will never support, and a stylus will never be included with the iPad. Android will on the other hand support hand writing in the next major release of the OS, but they can’t or won’t say when the next release will be available. Since Microsoft have had this since the first Windows tablet edition, they are miles ahead compared to the other two.

As a media device and surf-board all devices are fairly good. There are some limitation, but most web based applications work fine. Well, except for Silverlight apps, which only Windows 7 supports. Since the Windows based tablets are the only “fully qualified” PCs, it’s possible to install any browser, add-on or application you want to use.

Synchronization is yet another feature only Windows based devices support. With both iPads and Android based devices you will have to manually copy content, either from an offline media or from the corporate or open network. Since Apple has decided not to support standard I/O interfaces such as USB and different Flash memory cards, it may be quite complicated to add content to the iPad. However, Apple states that the iPad 2.0 will support standard interfaces.

Centralized management of things like apps deployment, antivirus, security, backup, inventory and so forth is probably something your IT staff and security officer will require if you want to use your device with business content and as a business tool. The ability to remote wipe the device in case you loose it is probably an absolute requirement for a business with some security restrictions. Apple will support some kind of centralized management in their next major release but Android has not stated anything with regards to future support for centralized management. Since a Windows based tablet PC is just like any other Windows based computer, it’s possible to use any mobile device management software to administer and control the device.

Conclusion

All in all, the only device which is even close to meet my requirements is a Windows 7 based tablet PC. Yes, it’s slower, heavier and doesn’t have the best battery capacity, but I can use it as the tool I need. I can even leave my laptop at my desk when I go to meetings.

If you are looking for a “surf-board” kind of device and only want to surf the web and READ documents, choose the iPad or an Android based device. But if you’re looking for a useful tool and not just a hipped up gadget, you have to choose a Windows based device. At least for now.

Until “the rest of the world” realize the importance of synchronized content, integrated services and centralized management it seems to me like Microsoft don’t have any actual competition, at least not in the business market.

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