Tag: Instapaper »
The App Store turns five this week, and we'll be taking a long look back at this disruptive force in the way we use our mobile devices. Back in 2008, when the App Store launched, we had no idea how far it would come in such a short time, but hindsight is a good thing.
During that time, there have been a ton of apps that changed and improved the state of the art. Here, then, are ten that we think really matter, apps that had an effect on our lives, even now. Apps that changed the landscape of what we expected from a mobile device, and gave us new ways of interacting, sharing, and understanding our world.
The grandaddy of social image sharing, Instagram created, with an ease of use and pretty image filters, a whole new social network based on images. In an era of Facebook (who eventually bought the service) and Twitter, that was no small feat.
While derided as a possible porn-chat app, Snapchat took a single idea and refined it to a razor's edge: take a picture, caption it, and share with your friends. Then, zen-like, that picture disappears. The hidden potential in this app caught on with young and old alike, changing the way we communicated with pictures. Without an archive, Snapchat lets users freely share what they might not otherwise.
Here's an app that allows anyone on any platform to exchange messages with anyone else on any other platform. In a world where you're just as likely to have friends using Android or Blackberry as iOS, this was a revelation. Many other apps tried something similar, but Whatsapp has the userbase and an easy to use, intuitive app that brought it to the forefront. Now we can stay in touch with all our friends and family, regardless of platform, for free.
The photographer's photography app, Camera+ fairly invented iPhoneography, letting iPhone users capture and edit better photos than the built in app with ease. Since its launch, the app has kept pace with upgrades in technology and the camera lenses in each iteration of iPhone, empowering real photographers and talented amateurs alike. Heck, they even pioneered using the volume button as a shutter release, until Apple shut that down, only to use it in the built-in Camera app.
Before Google Drive, before iCloud, there was Dropbox, a service that mirrors your documents across computers with a simple, unified login. The Dropbox app on the iPhone took the same, intuitive simplicity and allowed us all to access and edit the same documents on the go as easily as doing so on our Macs and PCs.
Take notes, save pictures, record audio, bookmark websites. Do this on any device you own: Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, Android. Evernote has become the de facto standard for network-connected note taking, and much more. You can use this app to write a shopping list on your computer, and then pull it up on your iPhone while at the store. You can collaborate with others on documents, sharing notes and notebooks with ease.
Ever been in the car when a song comes up on the radio and you just can't remember the artist that performed it? Hold your iPhone up, launch Shazam, and let the app magically recognize the music, returning the artist name, album, and easy-purchase buttons for the iTunes store. Newer features include movie preview recognition with links to more information, and television ads that, when recognized, provide links to vendor websites. It's magical technology at its best.
Marco Arment created Instapaper as a basic web app, single handedly creating the "read it later" market that many other apps now compete for. Arment started the service in 2008, built the iPhone app himself, and saw the service grow far beyond his initial vision. He's subsequently sold the app to another company, who promise to maintain and improve it as we continue forward.
Waze was one of the first social mapping and traffic app, allowing users to share road conditions with each other while on the go. It may be one of the most unappreciated apps on this list, but it continues to serve a loyal and vocal user base, providing real-time help from users to help us all plan the best route possible.
The check-in craze started here, with Foursquare. Becoming the mayor of a location, along with various gamification features, provided a stickiness not seen before the apps release. Even with privacy concerns dogging its every step, Foursquare has managed to remain in the public imagination as the way to let our friends know where we are at any given time.
RSS is great, as are Twitter and Facebook feeds. But what we really want is a place to see all of those things at once, published in a slick, easy to use layout. Enter Flipboard, still the best darn social news reader around. It makes the various web sites and social feeds we all rely on much prettier and interesting to look at, letting us keep up to date without having to dip into several different apps to do so.
Founded as a streaming internet radio service on the web, Pandora made the transition to iOS brilliantly, becoming a force to reckon with in the competitive streaming music market, as well as a household name known by one and all. While other services continue to chip away at the venerable service, offering on-demand music access, Pandora continues to be the music access app of choice on iOS devices everywhere.
Can't decide where to eat? Shake your iPhone and Urbanspoon will randomly choose a restaurant nearby that matches your criteria of price, cuisine, and distance. Released in August of 2008, Urbanspoon was the first app on the App Store to combine GPS location data with a database of local dining and drinking establishments, creating a loyal community that reviewed meals, restaurants, and service for other users.
It looks like Apple has been furiously working behind the scenes the last couple of days, responding to the problem some app updates were having, which was later shown to be an issue with Apple's FairPlay DRM and specific app updates.
Apple said that it has fixed the problem. “We had a temporary issue that began yesterday with a server that generated DRM code for some apps being downloaded,” Apple said, in a statement to All Things D.
The fix, at the time, was to have users with an affected app to re-download it from the App Store.
Today, it seems as if some updates are fixing themselves, whether users have updated or not. Our own inestimable Jeff Scott said that this morning, "I had an update to Instapaper that when installed fixed the broken app, with no need to re-install." Good news, then for app developers and app consumers.
In another rare move, Apple flexed some editorial muscles this morning, hiding any one-star apps that resulted from the DRM snafu.
As of this morning, it appears Apple has indeed removed negative reviews from apps affected by the bug. Apps like Instapaper, GoodReader, and The Early Edition are showing no reviews for the latest versions available, which are the ones that were crashing earlier in the week. We haven’t checked on every single app that was affected, but it is safe to assume at this point Apple will remove all reviews (not just negative ones) from any app that received a corrupted update.
Cult of Mac weighed in with its own thoughts on the mechanics of this move, pointing out that "Apple didn’t actually delete the reviews, though. Instead, what they did was force all of the affected apps to trigger a new “app update” on users’ devices, then moved the old 'Current Version' reviews to 'All Versions.'"
All in all, a good day for consumers and developers alike. For Apple? Maybe not so much, though they do get kudos for being so quick with a fix.
Marco Arment, the developer of Instapaper, noticed a curious thing last night - Instapaper was crashing on launch after an update from the App Store.
"Last night, within minutes of Apple approving the Instapaper 4.2.3 update," he said on his blog, "I was deluged by support email and Twitter messages from customers saying that it crashed immediately on launch, even with a clean install."
Even though Apple had reviewed the update, and it must have worked for them, every clean installed copy Arment downloaded and installed exhibited this behavior. Instapaper wasn't the only app, either.
Here's what he says is typical of such behavior:
Characterizations of this issue:
- The app crashes immediately on launch, every time, even after a delete and reinstall as long as the corrupt file is being served by the App Store.
- It doesn’t even show the Default.png before crashing. Just a split-second of a partial fade to black, then back to Springboard.
- It may only affect customers in some regions.
- If updating from iTunes, some customers might get a dialog citing error 8324 or 8326.
- Mac apps might show this dialog:
“[App] is damaged and can’t be opened. Delete [App] and download it again from the App Store.”
The console might show: AppleFairplayTextCrypterSession::fairplayOpen() failed, error -42110
Obviously, this is a fairly serious issue, and - according to Arment - has already been fixed by Apple. If you have similar issues with some updated apps today, Ament says, "The only fix for people with bad copies, once good copies are being served again by the App Store, is to delete and reinstall the app."
In addition, he warns app developers against releasing non-critical app updated for the next couple of days to be sure the issue is resolved.
More as the story updates - stay tuned.
Source: Marco Ament
This week at 148Apps.com, we checked out the long-awaited release of Readability, via a quick overview and full review from Lisa Caplan. Caplan writes, "The app provides the same service and merges seamlessly with the web versions. Users open to a blank page with just a menu. Filling the app is the the reader’s job. Users can search the web or enter an URL manually. The app pulls the article, pretties it up, and places a lead-in on the home screen.
I found it faster to just surf on my Mac adding articles that appealed as I found them, but how one fills the app is a small matter. What Readability does with the content is the cool bit. I tested the universal build on an iPad and it works wonderfully in both orientations. In landscape the articles fill the main pane and a well-designed and unobtrusive sidebar has the menu. In portrait the sidebar is a tiny top bar."
Meanwhile, our sister site Giggleapps.com dug deep into the garden of apps and came up with a review of The Giant Turnip: A Kidztory Classic Animated Interactive Storybook. Reviewer Amy Solomon says, "As always, the look of this app is delightful, with wonderful colors and textures and fun use of music incorporated into a style utterly recognizable as a Kidztory storybook. I appreciate the warm browns and green shades seen in the land where the turnip is planted, along with the noticeable brush strokes for a lovely effect. Possibly more so than other apps from this series, nothing is flat-looking within this app as every animal or other detail has its own imperfect texture that layered together on the page really brings a richness to this story that adults may enjoy even more than their children."
Finally, 148Apps.biz updated GameSpy's progress on its GameSpy Open platform. Brad Hilderbrand writes, "Today GameSpy announced that there are over 600 titles in development for its year-old GameSpy Open platform. The stable of upcoming titles includes games like Warm Gun, Skullgirls and more, with a total of 1200 developers hard at work on new projects."
The old week is done. Bring on the new week, with the promise of the iPad 3 just around the corner. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter or Like us on Facebook to keep abreast of the latest reviews, news items and contests right when they happen. See you next week!
Part One: 16 - 25
Pocket Informant - While iCal is nice, sometimes we need a more robust solution - hopefully one that works seamlessly with Google calendar. This is that app. While there's no universal app yet, we find this one to be compelling enough on either device type.
American Presidents for iPad - With over 300 gorgeous vintage images and photographs, this is an educational app for everyone. There are biographies of every US president, a historical timeline, and detailed quizzes on the text itself. Presidential history never looked so good.
Camera+ - This one gets a lot of play on our personal iPhones, bringing a ton of extra funtionality we really wish the native Camera app had, including multi touch exposure adjustment, grid line compotition help, and loads of effects and post-processing abilities. Also, it's super easy to share to a ton of different services, not just the default Apple ones.
1Password - Seriously, we have a ton of passwords out there. Some we use a lot, and remember, while others, well, not so much. We're guessing you do, too. Enter 1Password, the super vault of all those pesky passwords that we can't seem to keep track of any more. There's a version for iPhone only, iPad only, and a universal version.
Sketchbook Mobile - Feeling creative? Artsy, even? Want to doodle a little while you wait for your constantly late friend to show up to the cafe? Pull out that iPhone and sketch a little, why don't you? The smaller version of this app (there's also a pro version available for iPads) packs quite a punch in a tiny little package, including multitouch navigation, up to 6 layers per image file, and 10 levels of undo and redo.
Band of the Day - We're huge music fans, so finding this app was a happy day indeed. Selected as App of the Year runner up in Apple's own Rewind section, BotD updates us daily with free songs, reviews, bios, charts, sharing, videos and the like. It's also, you know, free, which earns it some points, though we'd gladly pasy some money for this level of awesome.
Jamie's Recipes - Jamie Oliver is a chef for the everyman and everywoman. Each of the included 12 free recipes is easy to make and the food is approachable by a wide range of palates. Many more recipes can be downloaded as in-app purchases, each with its own theme, making this recipe app well worth a look.
Instapaper - Here's the original and still the best too-long-didn't-read-but-want-to-read-it-later app out there. Instapaper lets users save web pages for later offline perusal with a simple browser extension and a mobile device. We're also still happy this is a one-person operation, showing us all that independent development is still a thriving industry. If you don't have this app yet, you should.
Shop Savvy - Here's a simple idea, well-implemented, made possible by that powerful networked computing device with a camera you have sitting in your pocket. Scan a bar code at any store, and Shop Savvy will find it online as well as locally, telling you if there are less expensive options out there for you. This is a daily must have app, even when it's NOT the holiday season.
Localscope - This app uses the geo-tagged info from local search engines, social networks and media sharing services to connect you to the people and places around you. Walk around the places you frequent and try this one out - you'll be amazed at how fun and informative it can be.
We hope you've enjoyed the best apps of 2011. Come back on Friday to see our top five favorite apps and games of 2011.
Instapaper is one of those 'can't live without' kind of apps. Considered one of the best apps out there, one of the first inductees in our App Hall of Fame, Instapaper is the app to buy for those users who want to save articles for offline reading. It's especially fortunate that regular support for the app is still there with the latest update (4.0) providing almost as big a list of changes as 3.0 did earlier this year.
Creator of Instapaper, Marco Arment has listed the full array within the update but here are the highlights.
Most pivotal for iPad owners is the complete overhaul of the iPad browsing interface for the app. Instapaper users can now enjoy a much more touch-friendly grid interface which promises to be easier and more attractive to look at. iPhone users get to enjoy a restyled and unified appearance that's easy to use.
Other aesthestic changes are afoot with the reading screen no longer showing the top status bar by default amongst other things. Articles from many sites now display the site title, author name and published date were available.
True hardware brightness control is now possible thanks to iOS5, immediately protecting sensitive eyes when reading at night.
Selecting text and tapping define now enables users to look up terms in Wikipedia at the touch of a button and happily residing alongside the offline dictionary.
Articles can now be multi-selected, making archiving, deleting or moving to folders enmasse quick and easy.
Adding some social features to the mix, users can now view, via the Friends panel, all links posted to their Facebook news feed, Twitter timeline or Tumblr Dashboard.
The biggest change of all, however, is the new search feature available as part of a $1/month subscription service. Called Search Subscription, it adds server-side searching of the full contents of every article users have ever saved. It's understandably powerful stuff and makes Instapaper even more useful than before.
Check out the full list of changes on Marco Arment's site.
Spool is a service that is hoping to bring the best of "read it later" services like Instapaper and Read It Later, and will apply it to other forms of media as well.It's also attempting to do more by being designed for offline use as well.
The first use of Spool is that it serves as a service to read items at a later date, presenting items in an easy-to-read format. This is similar to Instapaper on iOS, only that this is a cross-platform service. There's a browser extension for all the major web browsers. After installing the extension, the link is saved to the user's spool. Then, the user can load up a mobile app, currently available for Android and iOS, and read the content that was saved. New content can be spooled from the app as well, by either searching or visiting a URL directly from within the app.
Now, this gets to the other part of Spool's usefulness; Spool can be used to save videos for offline watching. By loading up the app once an item has been spooled, the site and video is loaded into local memory. This includes Flash videos; the Spool servers can record Flash video and convert them to a format that's viewable on mobile, and able to be watched offline. Videos from Adult Swim and Dailymotion work well with the service. MLB.com doesn't seem to work with Spool's video conversion properly. YouTube videos can't be saved for offline access at this time.
The ability to watch and view offline is a huge part of Spool's utility; by preloading content, this makes it useful for watching videos in places where internet service may be less than ideal or even nonexistent; this is perfect for cell phone users on limited data plans or iPod touch owners. Download videos and content when on wifi, and then watch them whereever. The app is not necessarily optimized for tablets yet.
This app is especially interesting for iOS users looking to easily watch Flash videos on their phone or iPod, and for Android users looking for a service similar to Instapaper for their phones. Spool is free to use, but is currently only available as invite only by registering at Spool's website.
It's hard to keep up with the multitude of e-readers on the market these days. With the public eye squarely on Amazon and Apple's own book system, the smaller players are doing their best to keep up with the Jones'. Obviously these companies are going to have a hard time beating out the downloadable content of Amazon, but Kobo aims at getting people to use their app to help them read the web.
With an e-reader of their own on sale for $149, Kobo isn't exactly the smallest of the Amazon challengers. Their app seems to be doing fairly well, and has some cool features that are unique to the platform, such as its innovative social reading platform. Called "Reading Life," iPad users can now view statistics about their user preferences and even earn achievements for their reading prowess.
The newest feature in their standard app is its integration with Instapaper, which allows users to read long form web text, save text for later viewing, and allows users to sync their Instapaper text instantly to their other iOS devices.
“People are constantly discovering a wide variety of great information on the web, but they don’t always have the time to read everything that they come across,” said Mike Serbinis, Kobo CEO. “With Kobo’s integration with Instapaper, readers can clip, save, and read this content anytime, anyplace they choose using the Kobo eReading application for iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.”
Kobo currently has over 2.2 million e-books in its library, from free classics to New York Times bestsellers, and has a subscription plan that offers acces to many of the most popular newspapers and magazines. Their system is all cloud based and uses open standards, so choosing Kobo allows users to build their libraries without getting stuck on a particular platform. The app is free too, so give it a try. You may just like it.
The next time you hear of a cool app and jump straight on to the App Store to get it, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for and check where it’s coming from.
That’s the advice of Marco Arment, developer of Instapaper for iPhone and iPad.
Writing on his personal blog, Marco notes the staggering number of applications playing on the name of successful apps or using similar keywords in order to con unwitting App Store customers into buying them.
Popular bird-launching game, Angry Birds, is one such successful application plagued by a host of pretenders that are found when searching the App Store for its title. Of the top ten search results, only four apps appear legitimate with the actual Angry Birds game and its Lite version making up two of these. Six of the top ten search results are made up of cheat apps and walkthroughs.
ESCAPP’s Angry Birds Cheats, for example, appears in the top five searches and uses a lookalike icon. At $0.99 (the same price as the full Angry Birds app) the application’s description reads “Wonderful and addictive cheats. Accept No Imitations”.
That should be no imitations other than the imitation of affiliation with an actual application and/or developer.
We’ve not downloaded Angry Birds Cheats, but with 432 one star reviews out of 487 and reviews entitled “Absolute Rubbish!!” and “Waste of time money and effort” we’re willing to gamble our reputation on this being a pretty poor app. Add to this that the developer, ESCAPP, doesn’t have a working website but a GoDaddy holding page instead, and the fraud is complete.
InTekOne, LLC is another app publisher working in a similar way but this time using a modified version of the Angry Birds icon for its Angry Birds Walkthrough app. Once again, its site does not appear when clicked in iTunes and it’s left up to the poor developer, who was presumably commissioned to create the app, to shoulder the blame.
Chillingo, the publisher of Angry Birds, is equally unhappy with these apps: "We are going to send a formal copyright infringement request to Apple about these apps soon," said Joe Wee, Director of Chillingo.
Chillingo prefers to reward loyal gamers with hints and tips at no cost by providing walkthrough trailers on its Developers’ YouTube channels. That way, they get free, valid information directly from the source. Angry Birds' developer Rovio provides official suggestions for Angry Birds here
So what can you do to avoid inadvertently downloading fake apps or “squatters” who use successful apps as a marketing tool? Unfortunately, not a lot. Of course, you’re free to contact Apple and let them know your thoughts and Marco Arment also lists ways developers can protect their intellectual property from such apps on his site here.
For the average consumer, however, it appears that vigilance is your only weapon. Find out the name of the developer, check their website and, most importantly, read the app’s reviews for consumer feedback before buying.
Neither ESCAPP nor InTekOne, LLC have responded to our contact regarding their applications at time of writing.
[ via Marco.org ]