This is it – the end of our strange and wonderful shopping journey for the year. We know it can be tough to know what to get for someone for the holidays – anyone, really, regardless of how well you know them. We’d like to think that these shopping guides have been of some help. Even if you didn’t go after anything on these lists there’s the chance that something sparked an idea, which resulted in a successful gift. At least that’s what we’d like to think.
Today’s guide is for the intense “power users” you may know. Business folks, diehard Apple fans – anyone who tends to push their device’s battery to the limits every day, mostly. If you’re looking for something to make their trips easier, help out at the office, or even just keep their iPad running for a few more hours, check out our list below for some ideas.
iKit NuCharge Battery Case for iPhone 5
The iKit NuCharge Battery Case ($89 – iPhone) is a compact, lightweight case that allows users to charge their phone on-the-go. It’s pretty much perfect for commuters, travelers, and anyone who spends large chunks of time away from their charger, really. It’s a great way to keep a phone working so no important calls are missed, or even allowing for enough time to watch Home Alone while waiting at the airport. [Our Review]
The NuCharge case is a great all-around piece of hardware to have, but it pairs particularly well with essential work-related apps like Triage ($0.99 – iPhone), Appoint ($3.99 – iPhone), and Reeder 2 ($4.99 – Universal). You won’t have to worry about running out of juice while answering important emails, last-minute changes to an itinerary, and keeping up on feeds.
ZaggKeys Cover for iPad Mini
If you’ve got an iPad Mini and plan to use it for anything other than basic web browsing, email reading, and gaming, then you’ll probably want to check out the ZaggKeys Cover for iPad Mini ($99 – iPad Mini). It’s well-built, has a sturdy hinge, is slim enough to be conveniently portable, allows users to place their iPad in backwards (i.e. they can use the iPad without awkwardly leaving the keyboard open or separating it entirely), and the keys are backlit. Kind of a no-brainer for any iPad Mini owner, really. [Our Review]
With a fancy iPad Mini keyboard like this, why not consider a writing app or two? Write for iPad ($1.99 – iPad) is a good coice for someone looking to write just about anything on the go, while Infinite PDF ($9.99 – iPad) offers up an extensive suite of PDF managing tools. It’s a combination that’s handy for presentations, setting up book layouts, and so on.
Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover
The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover ($99 – iPad) is one iPad keyboard that I’m particularly fond of. It offers some decent screen protection, pops on and off easily but is also strong enough not to accidentally fall off on its own, and makes for an incredibly sturdy stand. This is another one that’s idea for anyone who does a lot of writing for any reason, as well as for those who like to give presentations with their iPad [Our Review]
With those two factors in mind (presentations and writing), why not think about OmniPlan 2 for iPad ($59.99 – iPad) or Air Display 2 ($9.99 – iPad) as a digital pack-in with your gift? OmniPlan is ideal for organizing large projects and managing teams down to their smallest details. Air Display, on the other hand, would go incredibly well with the Ultrathin’s functionality as a stand and allow the user to turn their iPad into a second computer monitor.
Dodocase Folio for iPad
Let’s take a step back from all the super-intense stuff for a moment and appreciate the Dodocase Folio for iPad ($124 – iPad). It’s a very sturdy, functional, and elegant case that would look great on any professional’s iPad. It includes large pockets on the inside flap for notes and such, a little spot along the fold for a pen or stylus, and has this marvelous “old book” appearance when closed. It makes the iPad a bit more bulky, but it’s still ideal for anyone who prefers to stay organized (and look good while doing it!). [Our Review]
SanDisk Wireless Media Drives
The SanDisk Wireless Media Drives ($50 to $100 – iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch) serve as an ideal alternative to cloud storage. They vary in price and available storage space, but any of them can be useful in a variety of situations. Loading up a bunch of movies to stream to an iOS device later (thus sparing the device’s own storage space) is only one example. The drives also allow users to upload their own media files from their device – so tons of photos from a family trip, video from an on-location film shoot, and more can all be transferred with little effort or fuss. [Our Review]
You might want to consider including It’s Playing Pro ($4.99 – Universal) with one of those drives, as according to our own Jeff Scott it’s actually a much better app to use for streaming video playback than the suggested official SanDisk app. Say&Go ($0.99 – iPhone) is another good fit, since users would be able to record all the voice memos and notes they could stand without worrying about using up their device’s storage. Photo apps such as FancyCam ($1.99 – iPhone) are also a great fit due to the photo/storage combo.
NeatConnect Cloud Scanner
Whether working from home in a personal office or on a trip with a portable one, the NeatConnect Cloud Scanner ($499 – iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch) is definitely something to consider. This wireless document scanner doesn’t require the use of a computer of any kind. Instead, it can scan and upload documents (saved as PDF, JPG, and more) directly to cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive. This means it would be a snap for someone to scan a few receipts to load onto their iPhone for expense tracking, or important paperwork that they’d be able to transfer to their iPad and fiddle with. Greyscale, color, black and white, or two-sided – it makes no difference to this scanner. [Our Review]
So why not include something like Polaris Office ($0.99 – Universal) with it? This mini office-on-the-go app even supports Dropbox file transfers, so it’d be a snap to upload documents with the NeatConnect and then download them straight to Polaris Office. PDF Expert 5 ($9.99 – iPad) is another great fit, what with it being newly redesigned for iOS 7 and receiving a sizable amount of new features – namely the Review mode that allows users to edit and make notes on PDF files.
Dropcam Pro ($199 – iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch) isn’t about productivity, but about peace of mind. The camera connects to a home network and can be accessed through an iOD device in order to watch the house while on a trip, keep an eye on the kids or pets from work, and plenty of other scenarios. Setup is easy, video streams can be kept private or shared with specific individuals (or made entirely public if one so chooses), and the app even knows to turn the camera off once the user comes home. Of course you’ll also want to grab the free official Dropcam app to go with it. [Our Review]
Feel free to peruse our Editor’s Choice selections for more top-rated office/travel/business-friendly app ideas.
The NeatConnect is a huge evolutionary jump for Neat. It adds many awesome features and scanning options to their current scanner line and even cuts the cords. Perfect for iPad and iPhone use as it doesn’t require the use of any desktop software. The NeatConnect can send documents directly to cloud services which can then be used from iOS apps. It’s quick, easy to use, and honestly pretty cool.
The NeatConnect can be set up from the iPhone shaped screen on the front of the device. User credentials can be input directly into the device for the services used. In addition, document can be scanned and immediately emailed from the device by putting in a email address as the destination.
I’m really impressed with the NeatConnect, even at it’s $499 price. Neat has done a great job of delivering the options people want (and need) these days. The cloud options cover just about everything anyone could want. And no subscription fees make this a truly honest product. A great buy and will be available this October.
Take a look at the overview video below for a great intro to the NeatConnect scanner.
Every week, the 148Apps reviewers comb through the vast numbers of new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.
Fantasy based card games are very much an acquired taste. Some have been drawn to the genre since grade school, while others join later in life, but one thing remains the same: Magic the Gathering is by far the most popular example of the genre. On the heels of last year’s Magic 2013, it would only make sense for Wizards of the Coast to follow up their smash hit, for a new year. Can Magic 2014 manage to meet the same bar of excellence raised by the original installment, or is this essentially a glorified re-skin? Fans of last year’s Magic installment have a very similar experience awaiting them when opening Magic 2014. Most of the game’s core interface has remained fairly unchanged, but it really was never broken to begin with, so there was no need for a fix. Newcomers and veterans alike will find more than enough card based shenanigans to keep them busy for countless rounds. –Blake Grundman
The App Store is loaded with many apps that scan documents, but most of them seem to take an eternity to process files. Additionally, they aren’t always accurate. I’ve scanned business cards and manuals, only to go back and enter additional information in manually. There’s a new app that promises users that they will no longer have to wait and it boasts that it can produce PDF documents from any photo at a very high speed and at the highest image enhancement quality. It’s easy to get started with JetScanner as a quick start guide helps users learn the ropes. There are two ways to create documents. Users can either tap the camera icon or tap the album icon. Once a document is created, users can make adjustments by tapping on the wizard icon to adjust the smart crop or edit additional processing options like adjusting color, making the image black and white or quickly reverting back to the original. Additionally, users can tap the information button in the upper right corner to change the paper size of the PDF. –Angela LaFollette
Cling Thing starts off with some great, but little, moments. They feel fleeting. However, then another great little moment appears and another and another. Eventually, these seemingly small yet neat tricks cling together to form a superb whole. In Cling Thing, players guide wacky Madballs-esque creatures to the end of each stage by using their slimy, stretchy, sticky tendrils to move around. The action resembles World of Goo but with just one ball to manage instead of dozens. Those two games also share a similar creative drive to get the most out of their deceptively simple yet deep mechanics. Early levels are pretty straightforward where all the creatures have to do is slime-swing to the end of the stage Spider-Man style. However, later stages introduce doors that need keys, blocks that need moving, wheels that need to be spun, and underwater areas with new physics that need new approaches. –Jordan Minor
Other 148Apps Network Sites
If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:
Talking ABC… is a delightful alphabet app which includes charming and impressive claymation animals that will engage adults and children alike. I do love this kind of animation, so I was eager to see the claymation included within, and I can say that these bright and quirky animal creatures do not disappoint, as an estimated 770 pounds of clay was used to create the animals and letters – impressive to say the least. As one may expect, there is a main section of this app which includes 26 letters, each with its own corresponding animal seen to the left of the screen. –Amy Solomon
Pango Imaginary Car is an app that allows children to create cars and other vehicles by combining various parts together. I enjoy this app. It is a concept that is not exactly unique, yet this is an app that is of very high quality and utterly appealing. The first thing one will notice when opening this app is color. A bright, sophisticated lime-green color makes up the background of the center screen where one builds his creation, dragging vehicle elements from the tabs seen left of the page. Eight tabs are included, with details that will create the body of the car, such as the front ends of a few differently shaped cars, trucks and a train as well as basic shapes that can be used to create a larger vehicle as well. –Amy Solomon
Most endless runners inspired by Temple Run take the standard behind-the-back perspective. Sure, Pitfall had a more dynamic camera angle, but that’s the exception. Cubed Rally Redline steps things up and does it from an isometric perspective, similar to developer Jared Bailey’s original version of Cubed Rally Racer that Android gamers sadly don’t have. However, where the game also differs from most 3D endless runners is in the number of lanes: there’s five to deal with here. Good luck. –Carter Dotson
Bombcats Special Edition is Radiangames’ entry into the casual physics-puzzler genre after an assortment of action-oriented titles and block-based puzzle games, and it stands out as a fun and addictive title. The gameplay can be best described as a hybrid between Angry Birds and iBlast Moki. The goal is to free all the bombkittens from their electric cages by launching the bombcats around the levels, eventually using their ability to “tele-splode” (so they don’t actually die) to free them from the cages. However, there’s a fuse on the bombcats, so getting them from point A to point B in a timely fashion is key! –Carter Dotson
Spelling Monster is a gift from heaven to parents with kids in the early school years. it incorporates several learning tools and exercises into the gameplay, which is wrapped in the pleasing veneer of an Android game. The main menu breaks the game into an adjustable word list and a bunch of mini games. The word list allows for the addition of just about any words, which is great for accounting for, say, vocabulary or multiple kids of different abilities using the app. The game list had five different games: Letter Pop, Missing Letter, Letter Catch, Word Traffic and Word Jumble. –Tre Lawrence
Back in January at Macworld Expo we saw the first demo of Neat Cloud and Neat Mobile. Neat have been around for years providing hardware and software that allows archiving and then searching of scanned documents of various kinds. They produce two different scanners and desktop software to help you get documents into your database. The Neat Cloud update brings that database into the cloud and allows scanning and searching from the iPhone and iPad.
Not only can you use your iPhone and iPad to search your Neat data in the cloud while on the go, you can also use these devices to get items into the system. Utilizing the camera on the iPhone is a great way to get business cards, receipts, and other items onto your Neat Cloud while away from home. Take a look at the video from Neat below for more on the Neat system.
We got a few days to try out Neat Cloud, Neat Mobile, and one of the Neat Desk scanners. Here are some initial thoughts.
The Neat scanner is easy to set up. Just install the software and then plug in the power and the USB cable. Throw in a bunch go papers into one of the three custom guides in the scanner — one for documents, one for receipts, and one for business cards — and away you go. The scanning happens just about as fast as you can throw documents at it. Once documents are in they will be recognized and OCR’ed to get the data from them. From there they reside in your inbox in Neat for you to give them a check and file them in a folder that works for you.
You can also use the Neat mobile app to scan documents into your Neat database. In that case the document is sent to the cloud to be recognized and OCR applied. It is then send back down to your mobile device and to your Neat desktop inbox for sorting.
While the Neat Scanner works well if you have stacks of documents to scan in, in quick testing we found the iPhone camera to be produce quicker and higher resolution scans of most one and two page items. Both seem to have their place — the scanner for stacks of documents and the camera for single items and when you are on the go.
Both the scanner and your iPhone captures will not only keep the original images of your document, business cards, receipts, etc., the system will also apply Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on them. The OCR will, if the document type is set right, also grab relevent data from your scans. For example the purchase total and credit card used for a receipt or contact details from a business card. You can then use that data to updated your contacts or use the receipt data at tax time.
All visible text in the document is converted to text for the database too. Because of this you will also be able to search not only metadata about the documents scanned, but also the full content as well. Great for instances where you are looking for documents about a particular subject, but can’t remember more.
In quick testing of the OCR capabilities, everything seemed to work well with just a few recognition mistakes. In most cases the mistake was minor — but some of the more difficult business cards I threw at it did cause it to return oddly converted text. Unfortunately no OCR system is complete scan and forget, they all need to be fine tuned.
Neat Cloud comes at an additional cost over the Neat scanner and software. A personal account costs $5.99/month but you’ll need the Home & Office account at $14.99/month to use the mobile app. The Home & Office account does have the additional bonus of supporting two users, great for a household. In addition there is a higher level, the Business account that allows access by up to 5 users for $24.99/month.
Neat Mobile and Neat Cloud are available immediately. The link to the mobile app is below. To sign up for a Neat Cloud account, head to the Neat Cloud site.
Scanner Pro 4, released in April of this year by developer Readdle, just got an update to version 4.1. Scanner Pro 4 brought a newly re-designed interface to the iPhone, as the app became a Universal binary, able to be used on any iOS device.
Today, Readdle touts iCloud integration as the next big feature to hit its document scanning app. iCloud auto sync allows any document that is scanned via the iPhone or iPad to be available on any other iCloud enabled device, all automatically and such. No more emailing documents from one device to the next, beaming, or copying to Dropbox, though those options and more are still supported.
Scanner Pro 4.1 also includes an updated iPhone interface, making it look and work more like the recently redesigned iPad UI.
Since launching in 2009, Readdle boasts that Scanner Pro has over 350 000 users using Scanner Pro regularly to scan documents, receipts and whiteboards, so you know it’s a fairly good app. If those numbers don’t sway you, our own reviewer called this one a best in class scanner, awarding it four stars in his review.
A little over two years ago, Jason Fanguy wrote up a review of Scanner Pro, a portable scanner app by Readdle (also known for other popular file management and productivity apps like Printer Pro and ReaddleDocs).
Many updates ago, when Scanner Pro was on version 1.2.5, Jason described the app as “best in class,” the interface as “refreshingly clean,” and was amazed by the clarity of the text-heavy documents he scanned. Now, many updates later, Readdle has released the 4.0 version of powerful Scanner Pro. This update focused on making Scanner Pro the best scanner app for the iPad.
Since the new iPad boasts such a powerful camera, it’s become the ideal device for an app like Scanner Pro. It’s now a universal app. But the iPad version isn’t just a scaled up version with better graphics. The app has been completely redesigned with the iPad in mind. Other important new features include faster image processing, folders to organize scans, and a search by name or date option.
Three major updates later, Scanner Pro is the same price ($6.99) as it was when Jason reviewed it two years ago.
It’s been done with with many iOS devices before. In public, no less. Pretty much everyone has done it, but there’s no shame in it. I am, of course, referring to using an iPhone/Pad’s wifi (or 3G) capabilities to look up an item’s price online while still in the store. Maybe it’s to check for a better price or even to see if it can be “flipped” for a decent profit, but no matter the reason people do it all the time. Now TechCruch has pointed out a new app that makes the process super easy.
Amazon Student, along with a few other Amazon apps, enables users to do all that and more. A quick scan of a barcode is all it takes, really. The idea is that it makes looking for a good price on textbooks easy, but it works on just about everything sold en-masse in a retail environment. The big difference here is that it also allows users to scan their own items to sell on Amazon if they’re eligible for trade-in. Just scan it, and if it’s a “yes” then Amazon will pay for shipping and send out a gift card.
Posted May 18th, 2011 by Gianna LaPin Our Rating: :: IT'S A KEEPER
Book Crawler aims to put a virtual card catalog in your pocket -- whether it’s for books you own, books you’ve read, books you lent out, or all three – and does so with some mighty powerful tagging and sorting features.
Business card scanning software is nothing new in the App Store. There are plenty of apps that take data from a picture of a business card, but none that get the data right every time. Sometimes shadows get in the way, or the app thinks that the name Chris looks like Cheryl, and boy is that annoying.
TechCrunch talked about how CardMunch does things a bit differently, adding a human element to the card scan. Like other card scanning apps, it still captures the card image with your iPhone’s camera, but then the picture is sent off to the CardMunch office where real humans extrapolate the data. Real humans that guarantee 100% accuracy! Once it’s done, the data is sent directly to your Address Book or to the CardMunch app itself if you don’t want to clutter your contacts.
The service does cost $0.25 per card, but if you have to scan 400 cards, CardMunch claims that you will save an average of 23 hours of data entry time. Seems worth it to me. Try the app out for free and get 5 free card scans with your “purchase”.
Creaceed, since its release of Prizmo for the Mac, has been apparently inundated with requests for an iPhone version. Well now the requests have been granted, and the iPhone version of Prizmo is almost ready.
Prizmo, for those who have never heard of it, is an OCR solution previously relegated to only the Mac. It basically can take any picture and find the text in it, and then make it fully searchable on the computer. The functionality doesn’t end with document “scanning”, it also can correct lens distortion, perspective on any old picture, and even page curl.
The iPhone version of Prizmo will be looking to do many of the same things, with some of the key features being: picture straightening, white picker, crop and rotation, state-of-the-art OCR in several languages, and some unidentified “unique features”.
There’s no word on the exact Prismo launch date, but I’d be looking for it in the App Store shortly.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted June 13th, 2010 by Jason Fanguy Our Rating: :: VERY USEFUL
Not your typical scanning app, Smart Scanner allows users to scan printed information, such as magazine articles, emails, book pages, etc. in real time and use its OCR features to send scanned information via email, store it within the app for future reference, make a phone call or open a URL, by simply touching the appropriate link on the resulting scan's screen. While the app is not perfect, it's as close as you can get.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted April 8th, 2010 by Jason Fanguy Our Rating: :: BARE BONES READER
WorldCard Mobile is a barebones business card reader who’s data recognition capabilities left me disappointed and frustrated. Scan results were inconsistent and the application’s refusal to bring me back to the main screen reveal much work needs to be done before WorlCard Mobile is worth its asking price.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted April 8th, 2010 by Jason Fanguy Our Rating: :: VIABLE CONTENDER
ScanBizCards is rich in features and, while it's data recognition is inconsistent, its impressive array of features/options offers solace to users who don’t mind encountering “hiccups” in what should be an autonomous process.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted April 8th, 2010 by Jason Fanguy Our Rating: :: BEST IN CLASS
Business Card Reader is a solid, reliable, visually aesthetic business card reader that performs as advertised, with minimal effort on the user’s part. Of the business card readers I've tested thus far, Business Card Reader performed the best.
Wunder Radio is an internet radio application that gives live feeds from thousands of stations across the world. Whatever you're in the mood for - you'll find it in here. From the Bahamas to Poland, United States to United Arab Emirates .. there's no shortage of choice.
6 Wunderkinder’s To-Do List and Task app, Wunderlist, now supports Dropbox. To synch your Dropbox files to Wunderlist, just tap the paperclip icon in the Detail View, select Dropbox, and choose your file. With Wunderlist you can Assign, Comment, and prioritize your Dropbox files and they automatically update across all your systems. You can pick […]