All Posts By Lisa Caplan
The iPad’s form has been seducing digital artists and those who love to doodle since its launch. It’s also the ideal size for taking hand-written notes. There are dozens of apps that create rich drawing or writing environments, but until recently input devices have been limited. Fingers just won’t do when precision is needed so artists and copious note takers usually rely on capacitive styluses which simulate the feeling of a pen, but are limited by the touchscreen interface. They aren’t sensitive to pressure, they offer no control over line thickness, and holding one comfortably tends to leave palm marks on the virtual page. Ten One Design offers one solution with their Bluetooth 4.0 Pogo Connect stylus. It doesn’t get everything right, but it’s a solid start in a promising direction.
At 5.1″ (130mm) with a price tag of $80, the Pogo Connect sports a stylish silver barrel with a rubber tip at one end and decorative cap at the other. There is a single button on the side and a LED light. It uses one AAA battery and because it’s Bluetooth 4.0 that battery will last a long time. A little wider than a regular stylus, the pen lacks heft, but it fits comfortably in the hand and has good balance. The tip is the same thick dark rubber that one finds on traditional styluses and is magnetic for easy replacement. Ten One promises new tip designs in the future.
Pogo Connect doesn’t pair with the iPad in the usual way a Bluetooth device would. To assist in getting everything set up correctly, users can download the free Pogo Connect app to link the stylus and then each of the 19 compatible apps – up from the original 13 – goes its own way. Some apps like Procreate just find the pen, while others like Noteshelf require users to poke around in the settings. It’s easy.
Because the stylus uses Bluetooth 4.0 it is only compatible with 3rd and 4th gen iPads and the iPad mini. Ten One offers iPad 2 owners a less-than-elegant work-around: there is a Pogo Bridge app that connects to the iPhone 4S or 5 and then sends the signal to the iPad 2, but at present only one app – Procreate – has incorporated the feature.
One of the more glaring flaws when I first tested the Connect back in December was that it didn’t prevent palm marks, but recent updates have improved that functionality. How well it works seems to depend more upon the app than the stylus.
And what about pressure sensitivity? That’s the key selling point, but it’s very hit or miss. Some apps respond to pressure by varying line thickness, others opacity, and none respond to a light touch despite claims that the proprietary Crescendo Sensor technology requires “0 grams of activation force.” That said, the Connect outperforms captive models. It’s not transformative, but with the right app and practice, sketching feels more holistic.
There are a couple of neat features worth mentioning: the Pogo Connect app has a pen locator, the button on the stylus works as an undo command, and the LED light indicates the active ink color. Still, while somewhat more intuitive than capitative models, the Pogo Connect needs a lot of tweaking before it warrants the hefty price tag, much less turns the iPad into a device that can compete with a dedicated graphics tablet.
A full list of compatible apps can be found here on the Ten One Design site.
Released: 2012-10-02 :: Category: Productivity
Kids get excited about holidays long before they happen. And no holiday is more geared towards kids than Halloween. In keeping with October’s spooky spirit we’ve rounded up our favorite four apps, new and classic, to keep sugar-buzz-ready kids happy and maybe save mom and dad from a few “how much longer’s?”
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
From Loud Crow Interactive comes the follow-up to last Christmas season’s smash digital book, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Borrowing the same general design, they bring another timeless Peanuts classic TV special to iOS- It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Narrated again by Peter Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown, kids can wait along with Linus for The Great Pumpkin or go trick-or-treating with Charlie Brown, Lucy and the rest of the gang all with digitally remastered drawings. Along with a retelling of the story and some sing-a-long sections there are also avatars, mini-games and lots of touch points. The only thing parents should note is that there are in-app purchases for coins, needed to unlock all the features. This may seem worrisome with little fingers, but don’t forget you can turn off in-app purchases in your iOS Settings.
Released: 2012-10-11 :: Category: Books
LEGO® Halloween Creationary
Not a building game, but rather a “build-and-guess” board game this LEGO-branded title is ideal for younger kids who enjoy seek-and-finds with spooky twists. A roll of the magic dice determines the category: Creatures, Places, Things and Costumes and then the game starts assembling an item in that category. Kids try to guess the halloween-themed object against the clock.
Released: 2011-10-17 :: Category: Games
ClickySticky Halloween Sticker Book
Part sticker book, part Colorforms, kids can move and reuse the dozens of Halloween-themed virtual stickers on four thematic backdrops: Haunted Mansion – Trick or Treat, Candy Bag, Costume Dress-up and Jack-o-Lantern Creator to make sticker pages that tell stories and are infinitely reusable. This app, like the rest of the ClickSticky series, has a simple and responsive interface that appeals to young children, but remains engaging to my son for a third season owing to his ever-expanding imagination and the free-form play.
Released: 2011-10-06 :: Category: Education
Plants vs Zombies
This title is not precisely Halloween-themed but remains a perennial iOS favorite year after year with a perfectly seasonal cast. PvZ is a castle defender, meaning zombies attack a home base, in this case an actual home, and its up to players to place plants, which serve as all kinds of crazy weapons, to keep the undead marauders from making it across the backyard. The iPhone version is a bare-bones iteration of the hit PC/Mac game from PopCap while the iPad version gets continual updates to include features gamers love like the Zen Garden and Vasebreaker Mode. The best thing about the title is kids as young as five or six can grasp the concept but it’s appeal is ageless. And these zombies are definietly rated G for goofy, not gory.
Released: 2010-04-01 :: Category: Games
EMI Records offers jazz aficionados and newcomers to the genre a tour of Blue Note Records classic catalog. It's cool, man... but it's only free to browse. You'll have to spend real dough to chill with full tracks.
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While sordid and illicit motives spring to mind when we think of reasons for having a burner cell, the truth is there are dozens of legitimate uses for hiding your iPhone’s real number. Case in point, we all deal with tons of developers and publishers here and sometimes they want to actually speak – like on a telephone, rather than email, IM, Skype, or FaceTime. It’s also useful to have a dedicated and private number if you are hosting a public event, selling something, or meeting people on the Internet. Whatever your motivation. Burner – Disposable Phone Numbers offers a paid service for iPhone owners that replicates the toss-away cellular phones made famous in every gangster movie and crime TV show of the past several decades.
The app has a one time purchase price, and then you buy burners using credits purchased in-app, the virtual equivalent of disposal cell phones. They add a layer of privacy to your call, displaying whatever caller ID name you want and a useable phone number on the other end. Burners work for texts too. A one-week mini burner good for 20 calls and 60 texts costs $1.99 while $4.99 will get you two months with 75 voice and 225 texts. There are also extension packs and you can add as many burners as you need. If you do online dating, you might want one for that, while you might want another to manage a craigslist help-wanted post.
Once a number is gone, it stays gone, leaving no traces back to you. Just play nice – the possibilities for mayhem-making with this app are endless.
Released: 2012-04-01 :: Category: Utilities
While many parents are at least a little bit happy to have kids returning to school, a new school year also means new volunteer jobs for parents and volunteer coordination from the schools themselves. A new iPad app, Clipboard by VolunteerSpot, offers PTA members, coaches, fundraisers and class moms and dads a way to keep track of their obligations to their local schools.
The idea behind the app is to skip the sign-up sheets and mass emails in favour of directly accessing the necessary sign up information and then to let parents communicate efficiently with the right people to get the job done, be it planning a homecoming celebration or spending time as a classroom aide.
VolunteerSpot boasts that their coordination tools, which are primarily located on their website, “boost administrative and management efficiencies by up to 85 percent and increase parent participation by 20 percent.” If you or your school use the service or the app, we’d love to know what you think in the comments.
Yawns, as we all know, are contagious. But getting a round of them going for preschoolers at bedtime or nap time isn’t easy. Dr. Seuss and Oceanhouse Media, the iOS publishers of his catalog, have something that might help make little ones sleepy, and certainly will entertain them, while teaching them pre-reading skills on the side.
Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book tracks a single yawn that spreads to “Seussian” characters ninety-nine zillion, nine trillion and three times over. Now that should be enough to get even the most stubborn child’s lids drooping a little.
Like all digital children’s books in the Ohm Books catalog, the app is universal and focuses its attention where Mr. Geisel would want it – on the story. The artwork is the original, of course, and there are very few features distracting or detracting from it. What digital goodies there are focus on pre-reading skills like word-object association. There are three reading modes from fully automated and professionally narrated, to read-alone with tappable words to learn how to pronounce them with a minimum of frustration.
Steve Jobs was often quoted as saying “the best camera is the one you have with you.” Certainly with the last product launched under his eye, the iPhone 4S, that’s true. The advanced optics continue to hold up in test after test against even the most photo-centric smartphones out there. Coupled with the seemingly endless supply of quality camera replacement and photo editing apps iPhone photography has officially crossed the line, in the right hands, from casual snapping to art.There’s even a term used to denote the particular looks achieved with all models of iPhone: iPhoneography. Now comes an art show that turns its lens on the best of the best.
The LA Mobile Arts Festival, which takes place between August 18-25 in Santa Monica, California is hosting a week-long display of what they describe as: “art originated through the lens of an iPhone and celebrating what become [sic] known as iPhoneongraphy. Much more than citizen photography, iPhoneography is true and real art.” If you live in Southern California or will be there later this month be sure to check it out
If watching the Olympics with young children and all their questions has been driving you a little crazy there’s an app featuring Channel 5/Nickelodeon’s British small screen and small people mega-star Peppa Pig available in most Commonwealth App Stores to the rescue. Peppa Pig’s Sports Day should distract budding fans, but keep them on topic. Regrettably it’s not currently available in North America
The universal app is more like Peppa’s color war than Peppa’s Olympics with its blend of sporting, crafting and even cooking mini games, but the six diversions along with bonus sports-themed digital sticker book pack in a lot of play time.
The activities include Olympic favorites cycling, and long jump along with an obstacle course, tug of war challenge, ice cream shop and Rosetta design shop giving little fingers lots to explore. The app is presently only in the UK New Zealand and Australian App Stores, and we hope to see it on this side of The Pond soon too.
We love The New Yorker. The magazine’s off-beat takes on news of the week by world class writers, the erudite critics, the infusion of short fiction and poetry coupled with charming cartoons, cover art and a complete list of everything cultural happening in Manhattan gives it relevancy and something we seldom get to talk about – re-read value. For iOS and print subscribers yesterday brought great news, The New Yorker updated their app to make it universal, with a new for-iPhone interface. If you haven’t read the magazine before now’s the time. This week’s issue is free on all iOS devices.
The new UI is nothing short of amazing. Using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite magic they have a an iPhone iteration that downloads in seconds and is only 27MB compared with the 183MB the same issue takes up on iPad. As far as we can tell, no content has been omitted or truncated. Other iPhone-only perks, which we hope to see on iPad soon too, include easy sharing of what seems to be all the articles and definitely all the cartoons. We expected readability issues for our, um, how to put this, senior (citizen) writers, but remarkably the text appears slightly larger than on iPad and is extremely clear.
We hope, along with a similar update for iPad readers, Conde Nast continues to bring its magazines in on this deal with Adobe. If this first iPhone New Yorker issue is any indication it’s a match made in digital publishing heaven.
If you are among the ever-growing number of digital comic and graphic novel enthusiasts, there’s a new free magazine on Newsstand called INIFNITY that’s worth checking out. Designed for the iPad, it has the look and feel of any glossy digital bi-monthly without an overload of interactive features. There’s Twitter integration and audio commentary, but the magazine maintains an old-school feel with its attention focused on comic books and related genres.
The new iPad offering is actually a reinvention of a small comic fanzine that bears the same name which popped onto the scene in the 1980s. During its run it had a knack for finding stars on the rise, and the new iteration plans to do the same while also offering news and interviews with today’s big players.
The launch issue has tons of news and mini reviews, quotes from famous grapic novelists like Art Speiglman of Maus fame and features an interview PJ Holden about his commando-themed comics being banned by Apple, along with a preview of his latest, Murderdrome. There is also a one-on-one with David Lloyd on his graphic novel Kickback, a look at the art of Simon Russell and capsule reviews for several iOS titles.