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15
Feb

AC editors’ apps of the week: Aftership, Limbo, TurboTax and more


Our weekly app picks

Another Appday Sunday is upon us, and we’re back with more of our favorites to share. This is the place to find great utilities and productivity apps, or entertainment apps and games. We use plenty of apps of all types on our Androids, just like you do.

Give these a look and then take a minute to tell us all about the apps you are using and love so we can give them a try. We all find some of our favorites right in the comments on these posts!

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15
Feb

Fleksy keyboard updated with iCloud Sync, hotkeys and some Valentine’s Day theming


The Fleksy Keyboard team has released an update on Android for the official app, bumping it to version 5.2. This latest release of Fleksy introduces numerous new features, including two extensions. Hotkeys are the ideal solution for things you find yourself typing often (hello, emoji!) and a new color pops wheel lets you really personalise your pops.

As well as the new extensions, the team also introduced iCloud Sync to enable cross-device sync for dictionary words. Also addressed in version 5.2 for iPhone and iPad:

  • The Energy Theme Pack! Breathe more life into your keyboard with these animated themes.
  • Heart Pops! Make your keys pop with hearts with this lovely Extension.
  • Magic Button! Replace the globe with emoji, a comma, or a dismiss keyboard button in settings. Also, long-press the globe button for more options.
  • Case-sensitive layout. Enable this feature in Settings.
  • More keys have been added to landscape orientation on iPhone (portrait for iPad). You can disable this layout in Settings.
  • Fixed a bug where the keyboard keys would be misaligned in some apps.
  • Many other bug fixes and performance improvements.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day tomorrow the team will be handing out a free Valentine’s Day theme to all users. This new theme will be joined by a new Heartpops extension to really get you in the mood for love. Download Fleksy version 5.2 from the App Store.

Source: Fleksy

15
Feb

BlackBerry App Roundup for February 13, 2015


A weekly look at new, exciting, and cool apps to try

Howdy CrackBerry nation! Hope you all have had a fantastic week. Today may be Friday the 13th but that won’t stop us from having some fun now will it? This week we not only saw Amazon and ShopBlackBerry place the BlackBerry Passport on sale for Valentine’s Day, but a new BBM Beta. While you are at it, be sure to take advantage of the ShopCrackBerry’s Valentine’s Day promo and receive 20% off all accessories.

Now on to the more important topic of the day. It is time to bring you this week’s picks for all your passionate BlackBerry addicts out there. You can find each app and game I’ve rustled up for you by clicking through the gallery below. If your favorite did not make the cut this week, remember you can help by offering your suggestions at the end.

Swear By Weather by Francois Lalumiere

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15
Feb

WhatsApp calling features slowly appearing for BlackBerry 10 users


Are you a WhatsApp user who is currently running the beta release from the BlackBerry Beta Zone? If so, you might want to check the app to see if you have some new calling features enabled. Several WhatsApp users in the CrackBerry Forums have now reported the feature, which allows you to call other WhatsApp users through the app using data services, has now appeared randomly and have been testing it out.

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15
Feb

Photos for Mac: One week later


Last Thursday Apple released the first developer beta for their all-new Photos for Mac app. A public beta will follow at some point, and the a public release this spring. In the meantime we’ve published a Photos for Mac FAQ and a Photos for Mac preview. It’s still in beta, so everyone needs to adjust expectations accordingly, but it’s also the future, and potentially one full of promise. So, one week later, we’re following up with a few additional thoughts.

Transitioning from iPhoto and Aperture

Ally: I’ve actually never used Aperture so I did a migration from plain old iPhoto. I’ve always used iPhoto for organizing photos, and Lightroom or Photoshop for everything else. On my iMac, the migration went great and it found my iPhoto library instantly. On my MacBook Air, however, it didn’t find my library and I had to manually navigate to it. Considering it’s the default directory iPhoto creates, not sure why that happened. For now, I’ll just blame it on beta.

Peter: I can only speak to importing from an iPhoto library, but it went pretty effortlessly on my end. Conversion didn’t take terribly long on my 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, and I didn’t get any weird problems or errors — always a welcome circumstance when using beta software.

Rene: I’ve only played around with iPhoto (iPhone) import right now. My main Aperture (DSLR) library is on a Drobo hanging off another Mac, and I’m loathe to do anything with it that involves beta software. The iPhoto import was smooth, however. I chose the library, it processed for a while, and then it was there, ready and fully functional. It’s worked so well I’ve deleted the old iPhoto library on my MacBook Pro and am accessing it now exclusively from Photos. (Yes, it’s backed up!)

Ren: Like my colleagues, my initial import was pretty seamless, with no real issues. I imported a fairly barebones iPhoto library and combined it with my current iCloud Photo Library; I’m waiting for the public beta before I move over my monster iPhoto library on my iMac.

Interface and navigation

Ally: I like the look the Photos app overall and how it’s virtually identical to iOS. My only complaint is that I don’t think tapping the back arrow in the main photos section is a very intuitive way to zoom out and scrub through collections. It just doesn’t translate to me. It makes sense on iOS, but it feels awkward on the iMac. It took me a minute to figure out how to zoom out to larger collections because my brain just didn’t comprehend that navigation. With a trackpad, gestures eliminate some of the button navigation quirkiness. For those using a mouse, though, it’s just kind of awkward.

Peter: If you’re already accustomed to the interface of Photos in iOS, it’ll be a seamless transition to the Mac version. Even if you’re not familiar with Photos in iOS, Mac Photos just makes a lot of sense, keeping thematically with the more austere interface interpretation we’ve seen Apple make with the introduction of Yosemite last fall.

Rene: I really, really like the look of Photos, but then I like the look of both Yosemite and the Photos for iOS 8 app, both of which heavily inform this interface. I did have some concerns that bringing over iOS elements wouldn’t work on the Mac, but I should have had more faith in the designers and engineers — they chose and implemented wisely. The translucency, the vibrancy, the arrangement, the icons and glyphs, all of it works well to provide visual information without getting in the way of visual content. Likewise, the iPhoto-style gestures and keyboard commands make navigating the Photos views as easy as ever.

Ren: I talked about this a lot on the iMore show, but I’m really impressed by the app’s visual simplification. There are still a bunch of the higher-level organization features you know and love from iPhoto and Aperture — including nested folders! Hallelujah! — but they’re hidden in menus for only those that really need those features. I’ll agree with Ally on the back arrow — for those who are used to tapping the Escape key to return from a full-screen photo, you’ll be sadly disappointed.

Performance and editing

Ally: Scrolling through particularly large albums and events causes some stutter for me, even on a tricked-out iMac. However, beta. I’m also talking collections that have thousands of photos in a single album, and I’m an impatient person — so what I expect and what normal people will actually expect may be two different things here. Photographers will have larger libraries and albums, however, and I’m hoping scrolling gets a little less laggy. It’s an issue I’ve always loathed with iPhoto.

I like the editing tools in the new Photos app and I love that they are consistent with iOS. Advanced users and photographers will still use Photoshop, Lightroom, and the like; what is great about these editing tools, however, is that they provide a consistent experience across platforms. For most people in most situations, that makes editing and managing their photos easier than ever, no matter what device they have at their disposal.

Peter: I haven’t imported a particularly huge photo library, so I’ll withhold judgment until I see how Photos handles libraries that are orders of magnitude larger than mine. Having said that, it does handle what I have without any issues, so that’s good.

People who were hoping that Photos was going to fill the gap left by Aperture’s demise are going to be disappointed. Apple clearly isn’t aiming for the pro photo crowd; Apple has to figure they’ve all moved on to other products like Adobe’s Lightroom software at this point. I do wish Apple had left iPhoto more able to integrate with external editors, for those of us who prefer to use Photoshop and other tools to tweak imagery. But the tools that are here are certainly good enough to improve most of the kind of photography I expect Photos users will be doing.

Rene: Performance in iPhotos and Aperture was always a challenge. Big libraries sometimes just didn’t scroll as they should. By contrast, Photos for Mac is lightning fast. Again, I’ve only tested it with a 100GB library, not a 1TB or bigger library, so I can’t comment on scaling, but so far, so great.

Editing is likewise very good. I do miss external editing options, because I’ve lived most of my life in Photoshop, but what tools there are are very good. They’re non-destructive and scale from automatic to manual, from general to precise to suit beginners and enthusiasts a night. Again, that Apple didn’t just port iOS options over, but kept some iPhoto options as well, makes Photos for Mac truly for Mac, and the app is much better for it.

Ren: My test library isn’t gigantic, but it still has a few thousand photos in it — and let me tell you, it’s much speedier than iPhoto’s rendition. What I also appreciate about Photos is it’s speedy across the board — editing adjustments are near-instantaneous, even on an 11-inch MacBook Air. With iPhoto, that process was laborious and frustrating, and made me want to chuck my laptop out a window.

Like everyone before me has said, the Photos app’s editing tools aren’t designed to replace a high-level editor like Photoshop, Pixelmator, or even Lightroom. But they cover a lot of basic and intermediate ground, which should make it a lot easier for the majority of users to quickly make the adjustments that they need.

iCloud Photo Library

Ally: I made a local backup of my entire photo library on my iMac and through a secondary cloud backup service before turning on iCloud Photo Library. And I won’t lie, my palms got a little sweaty. However, I’ve had very little issues with iCloud Photo Library so far, despite its beta status. I wish streaming older photos when you’ve chosen optimized versions was a little smoother and faster, but everything’s a trade-off. Streaming older videos even on a high speed internet connection can be painful, and I’d like to see improvements there. As an experiment, I put the same video in Dropbox, and the difference was huge. iCloud Photo Library took about 25 seconds to buffer while Dropbox took 4 seconds.

I also think more granular control over storing photos is much needed. I don’t want all or nothing. For example, I’d love to be able to physically download my videos album and perhaps a few photos albums. Everything else I’d want to optimize for storage. I’d even be happy with a “per-album” basis, for now.

Ultimately, I’d love iCloud Photo Library to work for photo and video the way iTunes Match does for music. Let me download photo and video on demand, as I want them. I can delete them and send them back to the cloud whenever I want. Just show a small cloud icon next to items that are in the cloud. Anything that doesn’t have a cloud icon, I know it’s using my device’s storage.

Cheaper price points would be nice as well, considering what competitors offer for storage. We have to value convenience in here too, however: Apple is offering a fully integrated solution, not just raw storage like Dropbox and services of the like. And for most people, that higher price may be justified.

Peter: I’d resisted the urge to switch to iCloud Photo Library before Photos for Mac came on the scene, but now that the developer beta is here, I’ve made the switch. It was a bit painful to wait the hours that iCloud needed to upload all my photos, but now that it’s done, it’s doing fine.

iCloud Photo Library won’t be something that gets much use for the millions of users who stick with their free 5 GB iCloud allowance, but if you’re into taking photos and accessing them and editing them from anywhere on any of your devices, it’s worth the storage upgrade.

Rene: Because I take so many screenshots, and rely on My PhotoStream to sync them back to my Mac, I hadn’t wanted to make the change until Photos for Mac landed. Now it has. I haven’t gotten the settings the way I want them yet – or I haven’t gotten the behavior I wanted yet — because so many devices, but I really like the way it’s been designed. It feels like the way photo storage and sync should work, so it all comes down to Apple making it work.

And, yeah, I’d still love for Apple to figure out a way to provide both more free storage, and lower price points for paid storage.

Ren: I agree with pretty much everything my colleagues have said above: Transition to iCloud Photo Library on the Mac has been smooth, it’s really nice to have all those images on the Mac, and boy am I going to run out of space quickly — even on the 500GB plan.

My main concern right now re: iCloud Photo Library is albums: Right now, for me, they’re spotty on syncing between iOS and Mac. (For smart albums, that makes a modicum of sense — iOS just doesn’t have the hooks to support them at present — but I’m really those bugs get ironed out before Photos is officially released later this spring.

Wish-list

Ally: My main feature request is on-demand iTunes Match style downloading and optimizing options, like mentioned above. I’d also like to see support for Photo extensions like Rene mentioned. However, I’m not sure how many Mac apps there are available that would support that right out of the gate, so maybe it’s not where Apple needs to spend energy at right this second. And god yes, duplication detection, please!

Peter: I want Apple to focus on foundational stuff for Photos, making it as bulletproof and painless as possible for iPhoto users to transition to quickly and easily. After some of the growing pains we’ve seen with early Yosemite and iOS 8 releases, I’d be quite happy if stability and security were the only emphases for this build.

Further down the road, I’d like to see Photos add more pro-level editing and cataloging features, to help bridge the gap left with prosumers and full-on digital photo pros who are being abandoned by Apple’s decision to stop selling Aperture.

Rene: I mentioned external editor support already. I don’t expect it for initial release, of course. I’d much rather Apple take its time and absolutely nail the features they’ve already announced. In future versions, however, I’d love to see Photo extensions like on iOS, so developers could plug their filters and actions right in. I also agree with Ren, post-import dupe detection and de-duplication would be supperb.

Ren: There are many things I could request, including some of the aforementioned items, but really I just want to see more clarity from Apple to its users, as the company did for transitions like iWork and Final Cut for OS X. We heard back during Aperture’s demise that photo extensions were a planned feature, but because they don’t appear to be available at launch, it’d be nice to have some sort of timetable for those and other highly-valued missing features — even if it were as vague as “later this year,” I suspect it would ease some of the former Aperture crowd’s anxiety.

Bottom line

Ally: For a beta, the new Photos app is shaping up to be a great photo replacement for iPhoto. Perhaps not Aperture in an editing sense, but those users still have software like Photoshop to fill that gap. Photos for Mac completes the ecosystem I’ve been begging of Apple for years. iCloud Photo Library even lets me free up much needed device storage on my MacBook Air and iOS devices, which is just an added bonus. I’m sure more advanced and granular features will come later.

Rene: After seeing Photos for Mac demonstrated at WWDC 2014, some seven months ago, the beta version isn’t what I expected. It’s more. The transition has been easy enough, at least so far, and the functionality covers a really good range from beginner to intermediate. Pros might still want Lightroom or something similar, but everyone else is going to be happier with Photos than they were with any previous Apple product.

Ren: Photos for Mac won’t be perfect for everyone, and it’s still very much a beta at present. That said, it’s incredibly impressive for where it is in the development cycle. It’s fast, it’s smart, and it has a great foundation from which to build upon. It won’t be enough for professionals, especially at launch, but that’s why dozens of other editing or photo management programs exist. And who knows where Photos can go from launch? Add in a few much-requested features like extensions, and you might see the basic-to-prosumer app get a lot more powerful for prosumers and pros, quickly.

Curious what iMore’s editors think about other products, software, and services down the line? Check out the other posts in our Editors’ Roundtable.

15
Feb

Best Valentine’s Day apps for singles


This upcoming Saturday is one of those greeting-card holidays that single folk don’t particularly find themselves looking forward to, but not to worry: whether your coupled friends all have plans or you’d like to find a date of your own, it’s iMore to the rescue! The App Store is stocked with apps that can help you find something to do on your own this February 14. If you want Valentine’s Day 2015 to be a fun time even without a special someone, these are the best iPhone apps to help you do exactly that!

1. Tinder

For the casual dater

Tinder is one of the most casual and laidback dating apps around. Swipe right if you like someone; left if you don’t. When you have a match, you’ll be able to chat and snap photos. You can even share them with all your matches at once. It’s like the Snapchat of the dating world, and it’s pretty fun.

2. Grindr

For men looking for men

If you’re a gay male, Grindr is the go-to meetup site these days. Whether you’re looking to get to know someone or are just looking to have some fun that doesn’t involve ice cream and Netflix, Grindr may be able to help you out.

3. Grouper

For group dates

Grouper matches your group of friends with another group of friends — 3 on 3, to be specific. So if you have a few other single friends looking for a date or something fun to do this Valentine’s Day, Grouper may be the way to go.

4. OkCupid

For those looking for love

If you’re looking for a little more than a random date or hookup, an OkCupid chat or two may be more your speed. Answer some questions and get matched with people near you that fit your wants. OkCupid caters to both straight and gay matches.

5. Hotel Tonight

For the last minute hookup

Hotel Tonight specializes in offering great deals on last-minute bookings. If you end up needing a special place for an impromptu special someone Saturday night, Hotel Tonight is the app to use for the best last-minute deals on a hotel room.

6. Netflix

For a night at home

If you’d rather pass up on the dating scene altogether, a date with Netflix doesn’t even require that you leave your home. With thousands of shows and movies at your fingertips, there’s no better time to play catch-up than while all your coupled friends are out doing something else.

7. EAT24

For eating in

If a night in with Netflix is calling your name, you’re going to have to eat at some point. EAT24 brings thousands of restaurants in over 1500 cities right to your fingertips. Simply place, order, and you’re done. You can occasionally snag great deals exclusive to EAT24, too.

8. Trivia Crack

For the gamers

If games are your thing, Trivia Crack is the new “it” game on the block, and believe me, it can suck you in for hours at a time. Compete against your other single friends at home, friends who want to be distracted on their Saturday date, or complete strangers to see who’s smarter. However, there is an art form to being a genius, so be sure to check out our tips, tricks, and cheats as well.

9. What apps are you spending Saturday with?

If you’re single, what apps do you plan on using to occupy your time this Saturday?

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15
Feb

How to add someone to a group iMessage thread on iPhone and iPad


iMessage got some new tricks in iOS 8 and one of those is the ability to add new people to an existing iMessage group. That means instead of having to start a brand new conversation, you can just quickly add someone to the existing group chat in just a few taps!

How to add a new person to a group iMessage thread

Before trying to add someone, remember that this works only if all participants in the thread are using iMessage. If the thread shows green bubbles instead of blue, you won’t be able to add additional participants. You also can’t turn an individual message thread into a group thread. It must be an existing group thread with at least 2 members.

And in case you’re wondering, the person added will only see messages from the moment they are added on, meaning they won’t see past messages from that thread.

  1. Launch the Messages app.
  2. Tap on the existing group message thread that you’d like to add someone to.
  3. Tap on Details at the top.
  4. Tap on Add Contact.
  5. Choose the contact you’d like to add (you can add multiple people if you’d like) and tap Done.
  6. The person will be added to the conversation instantly.

15
Feb

Grab screen protectors for your iPhone 6 today while they’re only $4.95!


Shield your iPhone 6’s display from annoying fingerprints and scratches while preventing glare at the same time with these precision cut protectors from Ventev. Including two per package, these custom screen protectors are simple to apply and leave absolutely no sticky residue when removed.

15
Feb

AT&T’s newest data plan offers 7GB for $75


AT&T’s added another tier to their Mobile Share Value data plans: 7GB for $75. Of course, that’s just for the data, but if you’re thinking about grabbing a new smartphone at the same time and go with AT&T‘s Next payment plan option for a new smartphone, they’ll cut the $40 smartphone access charge down to just $15/month.

That equals out to $90/month in service charges for 7GB of data plus unlimited talk and text, plus whatever the payment rate is for the smartphone and Next payment plan you select might be (AT&T offers Next plans that spread the cost of the phone out over 18, 24, or 30 months). AT&T will even let you add up to three new smartphones at the cut-down $15 access fee, so that’s all-in for $120/month.

For comparison’s sake, the $70 6GB plan jumps up to $110 with just one smartphone added at the standard $40 line access rate.

AT&T’s new 7GB plan comes the week after Verizon cut most of their data plans by $10 and added tiers between 10GB and 20GB. Sure, you have to buy a new smartphone (or three) to get the real savings associated with AT&T’s new plans, but it just so happens that we’re likely to see some fancy new flagship smartphones very soon.

Source: AT&T

15
Feb

AT&T’s newest data plan offers 7GB for $75


AT&T’s added another tier to their Mobile Share Value data plans: 7GB for $75. Of course, that’s just for the data, but if you’re thinking about grabbing a new smartphone at the same time and go with AT&T‘s Next payment plan option for a new smartphone, they’ll cut the $40 smartphone access charge down to just $15/month.

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