Archive for May, 2010

May 28th, 2010 at 2:14 PM EST | by inu846W

We’re on vacation until next Wednesday. Join us again then for the latest in iPad news.

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May 26th, 2010 at 2:38 PM EST | by inu846W

A tale of two iPad weather apps

Since Apple stripped the iPhone weather app from the iPad, it left the door open for 3rd parties to do their thing. They’ve done just that, and I’d like to spotlight two apps that come at weather from very different places.

We’ve looked briefly at both these apps. Our Victor Agreda Jr. used and liked WeatherBug Elite, and Erica Sadun took a quick look at Weather HD in April.

Let’s start with WeatherBug Elite for iPad and look more closely. The app is free, and has a compelling display on the iPad screen. It is the more conventional app of the two, with radar and cloud cover overlays, animation, severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service, Extended 7 day and hourly forecasts, and webcams for most locations that show you a semi-live view of the current weather. You can save multiple locations, and get to them with a tap. As I do a lot of landscape photography, I really appreciate the infrared and visible satellite maps, that show you cloud cover down to the street level. The app works in portrait or landscape mode, and it can cache weather data for off-line viewing. I think this app is for serious weather consumers, and I have found it reliable and up to date. There are also versions for Windows and Macs, and an iPhone version. Strangely, the iPhone version sells for $0.99, while the iPad version is free. You can also get a free version for the iPhone, but it has ads.

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May 26th, 2010 at 10:44 AM EST | by inu846W

Jailbreak Your iPad!The iPad has recently been jailbroken. Even if you’ve held off jailbreaking your other iPhone OS devices, the iPad’s substantially faster hardware and difficult-to-define "3rd device" role make the best case yet for jailbreaking. A user- and developer-updated compatibility list will help you see what’s safe to install on your iPad, and I’ll list my favorite apps and extensions for your freshly jailbroken device.

Apple’s App Store has become notorious for its restrictive and often arbitrary decisions about what does and doesn’t make it into the store. We’ve seen many pieces of quality software get denied or kicked out of the App Store, sometimes for unclear or unknown reasons.

Many of these, however, have subsequently made their way into Cydia, the jailbroken app installer (note that the App Store works just fine on jailbroken devices, too). GV Mobile, a great interface for Google Voice, Dashboard, a clone of Mac OS X’s Dashboard for iPad, and Wifi Sync, a paid application for performing iTunes syncs over Wi-Fi, are just a few examples. And there are plenty more programs and extensions that are available in Cydia that have never even been submitted to the App Store.

Besides these examples of nixed software, the world of jailbreaking also offers a multitude of tweaks that aren’t available to the user on a normal iDevice, like changing system sounds or interface elements. While a much higher proportion of the software available through Cydia is free compared to what you’ll find on the App Store, it does also contain paid software.

The iPad: What’s Changed?

The single-button installation screen for the Spirit jailbreak for iPad.

Many people express concern about jailbreaking their iPhones because they don’t want to sacrifice stability or speed on their phones. While the vast majority of jailbreak software is perfectly stable, it’s true that this software doesn’t go through the same level of grueling testing to which Apple subjects software that makes it into the App Store. And software that lets you run 3rd-party programs in the background, otherwise change the interface, and so forth, can have effects on your device’s performance, so I can understand why some people are reticent about this.

However, the iPad’s processor and memory are substantially more powerful than that of the current iPhones and iPod Touches. Its hardware makes it much better suited to effective multitasking, and its role in most peoples’ workflow makes a good for jailbreaking, both because jailbreaking makes it more useful, and because it simply won’t be used the same way as your phone.

If jailbreaking means accepting a slightly lower standard of stability (which is debatable to begin with), it just isn’t as crucial as on your phone. After all, the iPad is a device begging to be treated more like a computer than a phone, and jailbreaking makes that much more possible than Apple’s approved software possibly can.

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May 26th, 2010 at 10:33 AM EST | by inu846W

If you’ve already got an iPhone and you’re thinking about whether or not to get the iPad with 3G, you may want to consider tethering your current phone instead. Apple’s iPad with 3G option is an extra $130 plus a monthly service fee, costs you may be able to apply toward a larger internal hard drive capacity or a fancy case, if you’re willing to do a little extra work to get 3G on your iPad.

(Credit: Apple, Inc.)

Now, before you get started, you will need to know that there are a few downsides to enabling your iPhone to tether your existing 3G service. First, you will need to be sure that your existing 3G plan has unlimited data included in your monthly bill. Heavy iPad usage will likely result in large amounts of online data being used, especially if you are streaming video, so check your service contract to ensure you won’t go over any data limits you may have.

iPhone plans do have unlimited data, but AT&T reserves the right to stop service if they feel too much data is being used. Of course, you will also need to have your phone available any time you need 3G service on your iPad, so take that in to account when deciding whether or not to do this. You will also have to jailbreak your iPhone and the overall speed of 3G service may be diminished.

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May 26th, 2010 at 7:56 AM EST | by inu846W

Wired has launched their first iPad app version of their digital magazine. Wired has been one of the publications that has long been exploring the possibility of a digital distribution on Apple’s iPad — even before the iPad was ever officially acknowledged. They had worked extensively with Adobe at the time who had been promoting their digital publishing system.

The final product may have seen some delays, however. Due to Apple’s strong stance against 3rd party cross compilers, Conde Nast and Adobe reportedly had to go back to the drawing board to rewrite the original Flash-based app into Objective C.

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May 26th, 2010 at 7:15 AM EST | by inu846W

EA Mobile’s Travis Boatman had a chat with Mobile Entertainment recently, and he says that the iPad is going like gangbusters for the mobile games company. “We’re really pleased with the results so far,” he told ME. “It has a lot of the characteristics of the type of device that plays well with our gameplay.” Boatman said the digital distribution model available in the App Store has helped, but what’s really impressed EA about the iPad is how immersive it is compared to the iPhone.

As compared to the iPhone’s bite-sized experiences while out and about, this is a device where you can actually sit down and play for a while. “It’s more deliberate, and people expect more of a deliberate, immersive experience,” Boatman told the site.

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