I’m the kind of person who my entire family comes to with any tech or game related question. For my soon-to-be career in the IT world, I’ve probably already heard every silly computer related question I can think of; such as my parent’s worrying I deleted all of their email in their Yahoo! email account when I reformatted their computer to my uncle calling me to tell me how this site he saw on an infomercial cleaned up his PC. Every facepalm, of course to those in the know, was from lack of knowledge of computers and technology.
So when it came to my grandmother – who is old, fragile, and not in the greatest of health – needing an upgrade from her ancient Mac Book this year, I candidly suggested she go to an iPad instead of a new computer. “Why?” my family asked, “How can a tablet replace a computer?” To which I gave them a brief summary of all the reasons I could come up with to justify the purchase of a $500 tablet versus a $1200 MacBook. The iPad’s size, weight, cost, and usability were all crucial to my argument for the iPad versus another laptop.
Me with my grandmother at my wedding in 2010.
Eventually I won out in this discussion, thus beginning a sort of experiment to see if my dad’s mother could adopt to a mobile touch screen device. To many in our age group, the idea that someone may have trouble with an iPad sounds almost absurd. But keep in mind this was part of a family that I had to verbally instruct over the phone as to how to launch Skype on their MacBook.
The first baby steps of this experiment were to introduce her to popular apps, such as the iPad email interface, Safari, and Facebook. Facebook took great strides in 2013 to make their mobile app to have nearly all the functionality of the browser based version. I was even able to help her figure out how to hide the posts from a distant relative who’d post quite frequently about Justin Bieber and how much she’d spent on clothes. My grandma is cool like that.
Next up was showing her various forms of entertainment on the device. Now again, this amazing lady still owns two SD TV’s, so an iPad with it’s Retina display is by far the best visually striking screen in her house. I showed her various video apps; such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and even lesser known ones such as VUDU. Because I also deal with iOS games on a consistent basis, I introduced some simple but really fun games I thought she might be interested in trying. Two of them, which appeared to catch on with her, were games I considered to be some of the best but most overlooked games of 2013: 4 Thrones and FlowDoku.
There have been a couple of challenges in this adventure however, as anyone going from the familiar to the unknown can be a little daunted. My grandmother had issues figuring out her email, having been used to browser based clients. However, I was able to introduce her to the wide array of Google apps available on iOS, merging the Google and Apple worlds into one. She found the Google Mail client pretty useful for her needs, as well as Google Drive, so I could send her stuff such as wedding photos from the event that occurred some 3 years ago. Additionally, I was able to set her up with Skype on iOS so she could watch my sister’s wedding, as well as the TED Talks app so she could see the various topics discussed.
There was also a little trouble getting my elderly grandmother adept at using the on-screen keyboard. Luckily the keyboard on an iPad is relatively big with easy to read buttons, especially in comparison to any Android device. It also responds perfectly to touch, with little to no issues responding appropriately. Once she learned to adapt to using a touch screen to not only replace the mouse but the physical keyboard as well, things seemed to go much easier.
The farm I spent a lot of time on as a kid at my grand parents.
My grandmother means the world to me, and it’s absolutely devastating knowing she is nearing her final days on this Earth. But the notion that I could help simplify her life a little bit makes me feel a tad better. From helping her get a device that her frail body will be able to manage to setting her up with and showing her how to use some apps that were similar to what she was using on a MacBook, I feel as though my grandma has a great computing device, an awesome means of communicating with the outside world, and something that will help improve her life overall; regardless of how long or short that may be. Technology has many uses beyond business, entertainment, or whatever else. Sometimes it’s just as simple as using it to aid the ones you love.
Posted by Andrew Stevens on October 8th, 2013 iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
9 to 5 Mac reports that Skype has received a fresh and cleaner feel for iOS 7, along with additional improvements and fixes. The new user interface is designed for iOS 7, though is still compatible with iOS 5 and 6. The update also adds voice over improvements for group chats and the announcement of a sender’s name when messaging.
Over one million apps have made their way onto the App Store during its five years of existence. A million. That’s a pretty miraculous number when you think about it. However it’s not the amount of apps we have to pick from that I find so fascinating, but rather just how much things have changed since 2008. Pickings were comparatively slim at first, and many developers were just starting to dip a toe in the waters of Apple’s new smartphone.
On top of that, the technology itself has changed tremendously in a relatively small amount of time. It makes me wonder if anyone from 2008 would even recognize current iOS devices, and by extension the App Store. Would a newer Apple initiate have any idea what they were looking at if they somehow managed to take a trip to five years ago? I think it warrants a look at how the hardware, the App Store, and the apps contained within it have evolved.
2008 – The Beginning of the Beginning
The App Store’s first year was a rough but promising one. The iPhone 3G rolled out to coincide with Apple’s new software venue and the original iPhone was still viable. The iPod touch was also present and accounted for, while the second generation appeared closer to the end of the year. Even at this point many developers were eager to push these early iOS devices to their limits, to make them more than just a phone or an .mp3 player with a fancy screen.
Handy apps like Pandora Radio, Last.FM, Facebook, and Yelp were to be expected, but that didn’t make them any less impressive to have on a handheld platform. Others such as the intuitive personal organizer Evernote, the eerily accurate song-identifying app Shazam, eWallet’s convenient and secure account password management, and MLB At Bat with its extensive baseball coverage further capitalized on the particulars of the hardware and its general portability. Of course there were also some pretty unnecessary options out there, too. Flashlight kind of served a purpose but was also fairly pointless. It wasn’t as bad as stuff like More Cowbell!, though.
At the same time, the games available on the App Store were beginning to show people that “mobile” didn’t have to equal “mediocre.” Sure there were a few simple ports of the odd classic such as Ms. PAC-MAN, Vay, and Scrabble, but there were also some impressive iOS renditions of popular console games like Super Monkey Ball coming out. Potential mobile gamers also had a few really special titles such as Galcon and Fieldrunners to tide them over. When all was said and done there were over 7,500 apps on the App Store by the end of the year, with more being added every day.
2009 – Moving Right Along
The following year saw even more impressive releases as Apple’s digital marketplace began to expand. The second generation of iPod Touch was the bright and shiny new toy at the time, but it was followed shortly by the iPhone 3GS in June while the latest and greatest third generation Touch closed out the year in September. It all meant better processors, better CPUs, more advanced operating systems, and so on. All stuff that developers needed to acclimate to, but also stuff that meant they could push their boundaries even further. There was no loss of steam when it came to content, either: the App Store finished off 2009 with well over 100,000 apps available.
Many of the basic smartphone necessities were covered, but there was room for so much more. Especially while the technology was improving. Plenty of people used their iPhones as phones, sure, but with the addition of Skype they were able to enjoy the added functionality of instant messaging and voice chat without cutting into their data plans (so long as a wifi connection was present). Big companies were really starting to take notice as well. That same year Starbucks and many other big businesses threw their virtual hats into the ring with their own apps designed to make life a little bit easier for their iOS-using customers. Practicality was also becoming an even bigger focus. The Kindle app gave iOS users a practical e-reading option, and Dropbox was there being Dropbox. By which I mean “an awesome and super-convenient way to transfer files between multiple platforms.” And this same level of refinement could be seen creeping into the games as well.
So many of the App Store’s most notable games and franchises came out around this time. It was almost a mobile rennaisence of a sort. This was the year Real Racing first blew mobile gamers’ minds, even causing some of them to question the legitimacy of in-game video footage until they were able to see the finished product for themselves. Zenonia was just a fledgling action RPG at the time, and while a lot of people liked it I doubt they knew just how many sequels it would spawn. The same goes for Pocket God, although with updates rather than multiple releases. Flight Control began to eat away at peoples’ free time, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump hit it big (like, super big), and Myst and The Sims 3 further displayed the potential for major releases on mobile platforms. Oh, and Canabalt almost single-handedly invented and popularized a genre.
Posted by Rob LeFebvre on November 13th, 2012 iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Skype, that venerable internet audio, video and text chat app that began life as a way to dial real phones from your computer, has updated its software to better support the screen size of the iPhone 5. Hooray!
What’s New in Version 4.1.2
-Support for iPhone 5 display.
The iPad has been out for almost 15 months, and has proven to be extremely popular. However, some notable services have yet to release their apps on the iPad, even to this day. Skype has been one of these notable services, with only an iPhone/iPod touch-optimized app. While it works fine on the iPad for calling, and the experience with using multitasking is virtually the same, text chatting suffers in particular with using the app on the iPad. This particular aspect of Skype usage has been possible only through third party instant messaging apps.
However, it appears as if Skype has inadvertently revealed that their absence on the iPad is about to come to an end. Skype posted a video to YouTube of their iPad app, which was then made private, but not before someone made a screen recording of the video. The video demonstration in particular shows off the video calling features of the app between two people, with the ability to switch between front and rear cameras mid-call like FaceTime. As well, there’s the ability to do text chats mid-call via a pop-up display, view a list of recent chats on a sidebar, and view contacts by picture, similar to viewing photos in Photos.app.
As well, TUAW was able to speak with Rick Osterloh, Skype’s Vice President of Consumer and Product Design, who confirmed the authenticity of the video and upcoming release of the app. The reason why an iPad app is finally coming is because of the iPad 2′s cameras and video calling abilities; they were fine with having just the iPhone app running on iPad on the iPad before. With the impending release of this Skype app, this should hopefully motivate other popular services to start releasing iPad apps. Facebook, the world turns its lonely eyes to you!
If there is one thing that the rapid expansion of social networking has left in disarray, it has to be instant messaging services. Using myself as a horrible example of this phenomenon, I have accounts through MSN, AIM, Yahoo, Facebook, Google Talk, and even Skype. To make matters even more confusing, I have have some instances of several different sign-on names per service, as I attempt to segregate work and personal contacts. Simply put, managing my social life has become nothing short of a nightmare.
Now try to wrap your brain around trying to operate a different application for each service that holds your digital identity. Needless to say, something has to give. That is why the new iPad release of IMO Instant Messenger was just what the doctor ordered. Offering the ability to unite all of your messaging accounts and their management under a single application, suddenly makes keeping your life straight a bit more feasible. Take at look at some of the awesome features that they are bragging about:
Use of existing IM account logins, so no need to create a new account
Your IM accounts can be Linked so you can login to all accounts at once
Searchable chat history: search your past conversations on both our website and the app
Flag your buddies as favorites so you can easily find them at the top of your buddy list
Push notifications sent for 72 hours after you close the app
Buddy icons that can optionally be displayed on the buddy list
Links sent by your buddies open in our app instead of Safari
The option to save passwords for quick sign-in without linking accounts
Just to prove that they are not just tooting their own horns, the team over at IMO.im has whipped up a trailer to help fill you in on using the application effectively. Check it out below:
So they have manage to finally create the app that can help keep my life straight, while not breaking the bank in the process. That’s right folks, the software will cost you absolutely nothing! If you have an iPad and an instant messenger account of any variety, this should be an instant download. Don’t worry, we will be in the queue right behind you!
I was up fairly late last night watching an old episode of Law and Order SVU when one of those Apple spoof commercials from T-Mobile came on. In it, the too-cool-for-himself guy with the excessively yellow-orange hair, the Apple guy, was talking to his family via Facetime when he walked out of his Wi-Fi bubble. As you’d expect, he garbles and gadooks into what is assumed is a “lost connection” image while the half pretty, half odd looking Anne Hathaway knockoff explains that the T-Mobile MyTouch 4G can do video chats from anywhere with its mythical 4G network speed.
Skype then (covertly) launched their 3.0 update which allows for video chats over 3G. I was saying “a-ha!” when Mariska Hargitay was busting some young punk for kidnapping a girl after a party. I’m pretty sure she died, Ice T will sort out the mess I’m sure.
So yes, the iPhone now has the almighty capability of making video chats over its regular network, but the feature sucks up a whopping 3.4 MB/sec. It allows you to talk to your other Skype wielding buddies on any sort of device, and even works in portrait and landscape. Best of all, it runs fairly smooth even if both users are stuck on a 3G network, although nothing, not even Santa Clause, can make 3G work smoothly in certain areas.
With a feature as amazing as this, it comes as a shock that Skype didn’t publicize the launch more. The 3.0 launch could’ve been a big deal, like Super Bowl ad big, had they put some thought into marketing the update. Instead, the update released in the middle of the night, to no fanfare, while I was sitting up in bed watching Law and Order. Silly Skype. Maybe they were too upset about China’s ruling to make the service illegal in their closed off country to remember about this massive update.
Happy video chatting! Be sure to watch that data usage though, the gigabytes will fly by if you don’t watch out.
Note: The youtube video below is about as strange as it gets. Something tells me that Skype wants their service to be the next Chatroulette… if you get my drift.
The App Hall of Fame (the original App Hall of Fame, not the Apple knock off) is an independent initiative launched by 148Apps that includes selection committee members from over 40 web and print publications.
Our goal is to archive the very best mobile apps by honoring only 12 applications per month. To be eligible, applications must be available for download from the App Store for at least 6 months. Applications are nominated and voted on monthly by the selection committee with the applications that get the most votes being inducted into the hall of fame.
We want you to join in on the celebration. We’ll be giving away copies of the newly inducted applications to subscribers of our mailing list later this week. Subscribe now for a chance to win.
As the year winds down and we look ahead to the next decade it’s time for all those wonderful end-of-year lists we all get so excited about. Today we have some exciting news, as Apple has detailed all the top paid and free apps for the iPhone and iPad, as well as the top grossing apps on each platform. Here’s the full rundown, for your edification.
Journalists are prone to hyperbole, but this title is almost euphemistic. SHAPE Services, creator of the popular IM+ client, are continuing to roll out feature after feature for their mass-market social networking application.
IM+ current supports Google Talk, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN / Live, AIM (Mac users think iChat), ICQ, MySpace, Facebook, Jabber, Twitter and Skype chat. Outside of the seemingly endless list of clients, the application also provides an equally long list of push notification options, including e-mail arrival notifications from popular clients such as Hotmail, Yahoo! and Google Mail.
In addition to the application being universally built for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, IM+ also features an in-built browser for those who don’t have the ability to multitask – a welcome addition for iPhone 3G and iPod Touch users who are unable to avail of Apple’s much-awaited feature.
The latest update – 4.3 – brings with it a number of new themes and wallpapers, high resolution graphics for iPhone 4 users and VoiceOver support, allowing for speech recognition to be enabled. This last feature will set users back 99c a month.
There’s no doubt that SHAPE Services developers are trying to appeal to everyone. From customizable sounds and animated emoticons to geo-location support and retina display graphics, IM+ is becoming the client of choice for social networking users. It remains one of the top grossing applications for Social Networking – not bad at all for a $9.99 application with almost 4 000 competitors. And to top it all off, there’s a free version too.
Fring, for those not aware, is a free communications hub on the iPhone. In it, you can make and receive free phone calls, send free IM’s, and chat with other social networking groups such as Twitter, AIM, Skype, and Google Talk. Obviously the tech is neat on its own, having everything in one spot, but the “free” part is the kicker.
The latest version of Fring, 220.127.116.11 (couldn’t they just make it 4.0?) adds a few essential touches to make it the communications app for iPhone 4. Now, with the addition of the front facing camera, you can video chat with your buddies for free, as long as they use Fring or Skype, and are on WiFi or 3G. Also, with iOS4 and its multitasking capability, you can leave Fring running in the background so people can actually call you for free, even when you’re not in the app. Instead of using it as a gimmick app, or even just a cheaper way to make calls, you can now completely do away with your extra ATT minutes and just use Fring. Too bad we can’t just drop the call plan altogether…
Last but not least… well maybe it is least… is the new ability to merge all of your social network streams into one. Instead of having to search all over the place, you can check your Twitter, Facebook, call updates, and IM’s in the same spot.
Go now, download the update or pick up Fring for free. Your phone bill will thank you.