appadvice

Latest News or Articles for appadvice Website.

amazon is offering the ue megaboom speaker for $186, a 22 percent discount and the lowest price we’ve ever seen.

the ue megaboom speaker is considered by many to be the best portable wireless speaker you can get. not only can it deliver incredible, 360-degree sound and bass due to its shape, but it also happens to be ipx7 waterproof compliant which means you can take it virtually anywhere and not worry about it getting damaged.

the ue megaboom is so loved that it’s received a 4.3-star rating from over 1,100 reviews. here’s what one reviewer had to say:

blown away!!! to be perfectly honest, i was hesitant about making this purchase. for $299 i gave this a lot of thought but i took the plunge and omgosh, i was blown away by the sound of the ue megaboom. high tones, mid-range, lower tones and the bass…all were outstanding. i played the following songs…immediately: old smokey robinson, the winans (contemporary gospel), michael jackson, drake, reba mcentire, the soundtrack from les miserables, andrea bocelli and then i let it rip with some classic earth wind and fire. i mention the artists to express that the ue megaboom embraces any music genre with great clarity and range. syncing to my iphone took no more than 5 seconds. i also downloaded the megaboom application to my cell phone. i haven’t played with that much yet but the download was easy breezy. i own several speakers which i have pictured to just say that this is not my first day at the bluetooth speaker rodeo :-) all i know is what i like and i don’t think one has to be a musician to know what sounds good. this speaker sounds great to my ears, so all i can to you is…buy this speaker it is expensive but well worth the money. sit back and enjoy what has now become my favorite bluetooth speaker.

many other owners feel the same way, and it’s clear that this isn’t a fluke. people really love this speaker.

other features include alexa support, a 20-hour rechargeable battery, 100-ft bluetooth range, the ability to connect up to 50 ue speakers using the ue app, and much, much more.


Information

rewrite history, relax to the sound of wind, and complete word jumbles with today’s collection of apps and games.

all app prices are subject to change at any time and without notice regardless of stated free duration. price changes are solely under the control of the developers.

universal:

word jam – a fun scramble jumble word game without friends ($2.99 → free, 8.5 mb): unscramble letters to create words in word jam. those who love word puzzles.

word jam is super simple fun. each puzzle consists of four scrambled words. you must drag and drop the letters in each scramble to create a valid word. only when all four words have been unscrambled will you be able to move on to the next puzzle set. that’s all there is to it.

word jam – a fun scramble jumble word game without friends is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4-star rating with a total of 50 ratings.

louvre hd ($1.99 → free, 120.0 mb): a collection of 2,300 of the best works of art stored at the louvre. anyone who can appreciate classic paintings.

the collection can be browsed through and broken down by genre or artist, or you can search for specific paintings. louvre hd allows you to save paintings as favorites, view them in a slideshow, and save high quality versions to your photo library.

louvre hd is available for free for a limited time. it has a 5-star rating with a total of 1094 ratings.

palpic: photo stickers capture special moment ($1.99 → free, 62.8 mb): slap stickers onto your photos with palpic. anyone who frequently shares photos on social media.

you want stickers? palpic has them. a whole lot of them. you’re able to import any photo from your library, crop it down, and apply one of 15 filters. then browse through palpic’s 7,000+ sticker database or search for something specific. stickers can be resized, rotated, and colored. you’re also able to apply text.

palpic: photo stickers capture special moment is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 18 ratings.

fruits mania : elly’s travel ($1.99 → free, 157.7 mb): help elly get fruits for her little brother and sister in fruits mania. gamers who enjoy casual match-three gameplay.

in each level you’re presented with a target number of fruits to collect before you run out of moves. swipe to swap adjacent fruits and create matches of three or more. matches of more than three will create unique boosters, making it easier to gather fruit. the game includes more than 200 colorful puzzles, support for offline play, and bonus for playing everyday.

fruits mania : elly’s travel is available for free today only (02/18). it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 1355 ratings.

windy ~ sleep relax meditate & white noise sounds ($1.99 → free, 90.7 mb): block out the world with the sound of wind with windy. those who have enjoyed any of taptanium’s other relaxation apps like away, sunny, and thunderspace.

windy combines natural wind recordings with stunning artwork to help you sleep, relax, study, or meditate. it utilizes stereoscopic 3-d audio that’s optimized for headphones, so you can drift off into your own little world. the six natural wind recordings can be mixed with rain, river sounds, birds, and crickets. there’s also a whimsical story embedded within the app, allowing you to follow windy on her journey to breathtaking locations.

windy ~ sleep relax meditate & white noise sounds is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 5156 ratings.

ipad:

cradle of rome 2 hd ($4.99 → free, 183.8 mb): rewrite the history of the roman empire in cradle of rome 2. fans of match-three games.

complete levels by breaking all of the marble tablets beneath tiles. earn coins, complete mini-games, and draw blueprints to guide the new world of rome from its cradle to glory. the game includes three modes, more than 100 levels, all kinds of bonuses and trophies to earn, and achievements and leaderboards via game center.

cradle of rome 2 hd is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 993 ratings.

that concludes today’s issue of apps gone free. if you like staying on top of these daily deals, don’t forget to check out our free appsgonefree app. it provides all the deals each day, and even an archive of past deals that are still active.

developers:

if you are a developer who would like to get your app included in our “apps gone free” daily lists, here’s our basic set of rules:

  • it must have at least a three-star average rating at the time it goes free.
  • the app must not have been free numerous times (3+) over the last six months.
  • the free version of your app must not include ads.

to submit an app, simply send a request to [email protected] with the subject “apps gone free.” please include the name of the app, a link to it in the app store, when and for how long you intend to offer the app for free, and anything else you would like to share. we will take it from there.


Information

many apple enthusiasts are faithful to the apple brand and would never buy “fake” apple watch bands. i understand that; apple’s quality is top-notch, and they stand behind their products with excellent customer service. however, i know that some of you do want the apple look, but desire a good quality, lower-priced alternative to apple’s bands. this article is for you.

i’ve seen many articles that compile internet reviews of cheaper copies of apple watch bands, but none in which the writer has tried out all of the bands. since i have been lucky enough to receive a number of bands as a reviewer for appadvice and watchaware, and i bought some myself, i have a lot of bands. i thought i’d put all of my favorite apple copycat bands in one article for readers to peruse.

the sport band

apple’s $49 sport band isn’t all that expensive to begin with, but for people who want a variety of colors to suit their wardrobes, the cost can add up quickly. while the first knock-offs were pretty bad, the sport band copycat market has gotten better in the year since initial release. there are plenty of duds out there, and i’ve bought some, but i’ve also found one that is practically indistinguishable from apple’s sport band.

the lnkoo band on amazon is my favorite of all the sport-style bands i’ve tried. it mimics the smooth, solid feel of apple’s fluoroelastomer band and the subtle grayed lavender shade apple created. it fits into the watch well, and the attachment mechanism has gotten smoother with wear, not rougher as i said i feared in my initial review. it comes in 15 colors, both 38mm and 42mm sizes, and costs just $9.98. one thing to note: this band ships only with the s/m band. if you need the larger band, then keep reading.

another knock-off i like is this one from ebay. it’s thinner and floppier than apple’s, and the colors lack apple’s subtlety, but the quality is good. both s/m and m/l sizes are offered. you can read more about the rest of my sporty band collection here.

classic buckle

i’ve reviewed a few classic-style leather bands, none of which are exact replicas of apple’s $149 classic buckle. here are the closest duplicates in my collection.

the best of the bunch is unsurprisingly the most expensive; quality leather isn’t cheap. lucrin’s apple watch bands are more expensive than apple’s classic buckle. but i love these gorgeous bands and the wide array of colors from which to choose; there are 28 colors and up to four different leather grains. prices start at $166.63.

two far cheaper alternatives that i also like are from makergrafix and jisoncase. the makergrafix leather is a bit stiff, but the band is still attractive and comfortable to wear. what stands out about the makergrafix band is the customization. you can have your band engraved on the inside with the logo or characters of your choice. makergrafix bands are $49.99 and come in black, brown, red, and white.

the jisoncase band was the cheapest i reviewed; it’s soft, comfortable, and it looks good. if you just want a simple knock-off, and you don’t want to spend a lot, this is the one. quality-wise it’s good, except for a missing stitch. one missing stitch can multiply over time. the jisoncase bands come in a few different colors starting at $21.99.

leather loop

i’ve had the opportunity to review two leather loop knock-offs from different companies, and one of them was so bad that i declined to review it. the one i do like is from the bizarrely named ouluoqi.

while apple’s $149 leather loop is constructed from real leather, ouluoqi’s replica is not. still, for so much less money, it’s quite a nice band. it fits beautifully. it’s soft and comfortable to wear. the magnet is strong, and i have experienced no band slippage or false haptic tapping while wearing it.

you’ll know the difference if you compare the ouluoqi and apple band right next to each other, but when it’s on your wrist, very few people will notice the difference. in the comparison photo below, the apple band is the darker band on top.

ouluoqi bands are available in both the 42mm and 38mm size, unlike apple’s. you can purchase them on amazon in red, navy, black, gray, and white for $28.99.

milanese loop

apple’s $149 milanese loop is a popular choice; it’s neutral, a bit dressy, and not terribly expensive. but the knock-offs are far cheaper, and often look just like the original. as far as i can tell from what i’ve read and what i’ve experienced myself, the big drawback to every copy on the market is that the magnet is not shielded as well as it is on apple’s. in other words, your wrist is going to stick to metal objects from time to time. i don’t find it to be a huge issue, but if that’s going to bother you, stick with the real deal.

two separate bands i received from different sellers were unworthy of review, as the adapters did not properly fit the watch or the bands did not lock into place. i won’t review a watch band that i feel endangers the apple watch.

i did receive a third one from amazon seller marge plus, which i like very much. i wear this band frequently, as it’s both comfortable and beautiful. i had planned on recommending it in this article, but when i went to check the links, i found that the seller has removed the item from amazon since i wrote the original review. if it comes back, know that it’s a great option in several colors, starting at just $15.99.

i had the opportunity to review another milanese-style band, this one from moko. the adapters aren’t the smoothest, but they fit securely. i got the band in the shade called colorful, which catches the light and appears different colors at different angles. i love this band. not everyone will want such a rainbow-colored band, but it comes in many shades, including the typical ones. moko’s milanese loop is $19.99 on amazon.

link bracelet

when apple first released the $449 link bracelet, the third-party market was quick to release copies. however, these early replicas were pretty shoddy, by most accounts. unlike apple’s push-button link removal system, you needed a tool and some jewelry repair skills to adjust these link bracelets to fit. many early buyers took their bracelets to a jeweler to have them adjusted to fit. additionally, the clasp was not even close to apple’s elegant butterfly clasp, and it jabbed user’s wrists.

i got in on the so-called “fourth generation” of link bracelet replicas with this band from ouluoqi. this means that i was able to remove the extra links easily with a push-button mechanism just like apple’s. the butterfly clasp operates like the genuine apple one and lays flush against my wrist without poking me.

this link bracelet copy is close to the real deal. it’s a slightly darker shade of silver, as you can see in the photos below that picture the ouluoqi band on the left and apple on the right. the links have tiny gaps between them. as i continued to wear it after writing my initial review, it got more and more comfortable. if you don’t mind the small gaps, this is a worthy substitute for the apple link bracelet. it’s available on amazon in black or silver for the 38mm or 42mm watch.

double tour

when apple and hermès first announced their partnership, the only way you could get an hermès band was to buy the special hermès apple watch. now, you can purchase the genuine hermès bands on their own, including the double tour band for $490.

but well before that, lucrin released its own version of the double tour band. it’s not cheap, of course, and i hesitate to use the word “knock-off” at all. this is a luxurious watch band.

like the classic lucrin band, the double tour comes in 28 colors and up to four different leather grains. unlike some of the far cheaper replicas i’ve read about, lucrin’s double tour band is comfortable to wear and the second wrap has never slipped under the watch on me. once i put it on, it needs no adjustment throughout the day.

i had reviewed the lucrin band before the hermès band was available for purchase on its own. lucrin’s band still ends up being cheaper than the hermès, starting at $244. you get high quality without paying for the hermès name.

conclusion

there are a lot of third-party apple watch bands on the market, with huge variations in quality and price. while there are a lot of shoddy copies, there are also some fabulous bands worth their cost. hopefully this compilation has given you some options to check out.

if you want to check out a larger collection of our favorite apple watch bands, check out our guide on watchaware.


Information

evergrow by imagility s.l. icon

evergrow ($2.99) by imagility s.l. is a physics-based arcade game that is about survival and growth. if you liked games such as tilt to live 2: redonkulous and smash hit, then there’s a good chance that you will enjoy what evergrow brings to the table in terms of gameplay.

life has been pretty hectic for me lately, with a lot going on in the world’s current events as well as my personal life, so i like to take a breather from reality by playing games these days. while i’ve been on my playstation 4 much more lately, i still like to check out what is new in the world of mobile gaming, especially when it comes to my favorite genres. usually i like to relax with a stimulating puzzle game, but every now and then i like to give myself a challenge in the form of a survival arcade game, especially when there are cute things involved. so when i stumbled on evergrow as it is being featured on the app store this week, i knew that this was a game that i had to check out for myself. needless to say, i’m not disappointed with this fantastic gem.

in terms of graphics, evergrow features a wonderfully minimalistic aesthetic that is downright gorgeous. the game consists mostly of basic geometric shapes that are set against a colored background, but thanks to dynamic lighting effects, everything appears with a layer of depth to it because of the shadows and vignette effect around the screen edges. evergrow makes use of a wide color palette that includes darker, more muted tones to bright and vibrant hues that contrast nicely with the dark backgrounds, and the colors you see depend on how far you get in the game.

animations in evergrow are smooth and fluid, so there was zero lag on my iphone 7. and your chromaroid (the cute life form that you grow) has the cutest facial expressions that reflect what is happening in the game — smiles when it grows and sad frowns when it gets hurt. seriously, if you like adorable and endearing characters in games, then evergrow is right up your alley. the game also features a soothing and ambient soundtrack that is immersive and engaging, and the sound effects are delightful. if you have a good pair of earbuds or headphones, then you’ll want to make sure you put them to use when playing this game. imagility may be a new developer on the block, but they hit a home run with evergrow’s visuals and music.

while evergrow is a game about survival, it’s not infinite. instead, it’s level-based with linear progression, so players must go through each stage one-by-one and acquire power-ups and new items in chronological order. the game also has a tutorial that explains the basics of the gameplay well, and new game elements are introduced with a clear and thorough explanation. no matter if you’re a veteran or casual gamer, no one will be lost in evergrow. the game contains 40 stages, and each level has three objectives that you’ll want to strive for if you want to earn three stars (one star for each completed goal). but the main target for the game is to help your chromaroid grow big enough to fill the designated area that is indicated on the screen with the white markings, which expand twice once the previous threshold is reached.

while there is no time limit, the game also throws obstacles at you, such as wrong-colored blocks and even bombs, so you have to watch out for those as they damage your chromaroid. there are also power-up blocks that can help you out as well, and items later on.

the controls in evergrow are as simple and intuitive as they come. while your chromaroid sits in the center of the screen at the start, blocks come in from all sides of the screen. your job is to drag like-colored blocks to your chromaroid (you choose the color of your chromaroid at the start of the game) while flicking away wrong-colored blocks and other dangers, such as the bombs. evergrow prides itself on multitouch, so more than one finger can be used at once to control the movement of blocks on the screen.

evergrow by imagility s.l. screenshot

the game’s physics engine is fairly realistic, so the bouncing effect when blocks are being dragged and reach your chromaroid are fun to watch, plus the stretchy trail that guides the block is a nice touch. different types of power-up blocks are introduced as you go, such as the wildcard block (can be any color), grow block (fills in your chromaroid to help it grow faster), shields, coin magnets, and more. these activate as soon as they snap into place on your chromaroid. if you have an iphone 7 or 7 plus, imagility packed in quite a bit of haptic feedback, which i found to be lovely. there is also full 3d touch support for iphone 6s and 6s plus and later.

eventually, you will obtain the dimensional bucket item, which is a key part of the game. the bucket allows players to store blocks to use later in the game, and you can even purchase power-up blocks in the shop to use in the bucket. there are also upgrades available that you can purchase with the coins that your chromaroid manages to collect while growing and surviving in the game, so it’s important to grab them when you can by having your chromaroid move towards them through the game’s physics engine.

i’m still pretty early on in evergrow, but i have found the game’s original gameplay mechanic to be rather challenging yet fun at the same time. it’s not your typical arcade game, and the chromaroid is just oozing with personality and charm. the minimalist visuals are beautiful, the audio is amazing, and the controls feel natural and are intuitively designed for multitouch screens. while things start out simple enough, the game’s difficultly level gradually picks up as you go, but you’ll never feel overwhelmed because everything is explained along the way. all-in-all, evergrow is a wonderfully cute arcade game that deserves a spot on your ios device.

i highly recommend grabbing evergrow if you’re a fan of cute things and want a fun little arcade game. evergrow is on the app store as a universal download for your iphone and ipad for just $2.99. there are no in-app purchases, and the developers have included a fun imessage sticker pack.


Information

starting next year, youtube ads are set to get much less annoying.

a better experience

in a statement to campaign, google confirmed that 30-second unskippable ads will disappear from the beginning of many videos on the hugely popular service.

google told the site that the decision was made to provide a better experience for viewers:

“as part of that, we’ve decided to stop supporting 30-second unskippable ads as of 2018 and focus instead on formats that work well for both users and advertisers,” said a google spokesman.

unfortunately, advertisers can still make ads shorter than 30 seconds can still be made unstoppable.

at least according to one video expert who spoke to campaign, youtube likely made the change to counter the growing threat from facebook on the video front. the social network will soon make a push into the living room with its own video-focused apple tv app arriving soon.

if you want to completely rid your viewing experience of ads on youtube, you’ll need to pony up for the youtube red subscription service that costs $9.99 per month. new subscribers will receive the first month free.

the youtube app is universal and designed for the iphone/ipod touch, all ipad models, and the apple tv. it can be downloaded now for free.


Information

the milanese loop is considered to be one of the more elegant apple watch bands out there, and today you can get a replica milanese loop for your 38 or 42mm apple watch for as little as $7 when you use a special promo code.

replica milanese loop

first up is the 42mm milanese loop in silver. this brand, penom, is one of the more popular replica band sellers out there, with this particular band having a 4.5-star rating from over 3,000 reviews. it will work on any 42mm apple watch, including the sport and stainless steel versions. it also comes with a one-year warranty.

apple sells this band for $149, but you can get this band for $6 when you use promo code frad7re4 at checkout.

want the same thing above but in 38mm? you got it. just like the 42mm penom replica milanese loop, the 38mm version is just as well built and has a 4.5-star rating from over 1,500 reviews. it will work on any 38mm apple watch regardless of model and it also comes with a one-year warranty.

apple sells this band for $149, but you can get this band for just $6 when you use promo code 9y2a2guo at checkout.


Information

the best bluetooth speakers come in various sizes and price points. some are just about the music, while others like to talk back. here are the ones gearadvice suggests for your home and outdoor use.


Information

jam voice is a small and portable but powerful member of the amazon alexa family. it’s a wi-fi and bluetooth-enabled speaker that features touch-activated alexa voice service. press a button and speak to play music, get weather and traffic information, order items from amazon, and much more.

jam voice portable wi-fi and bluetooth speaker with amazon alexa

jam voice is tiny and lightweight but packs a punch. once you get it set up, it can do some pretty neat things. you get full access to amazon’s alexa voice service, the siri-like voice-activated assistant. you can set up and connect multiple speakers for a surround sound or full home experience. you can also use jam voice as a smart home controller for products from companies such as philips hue, belkin wemo, smartthings, insteon, and wink. unlike the amazon echo, the jam voice is not always on and listening; you do need to press the button.

first, you’ll need to charge it for about 3 hours to get 4 hours of play time. it does come with a charging cable, but not an ac adapter. download the jam wi-fi app get set up. using the app, you can connect the jam voice to your amazon account, or create one here. you’ll also want to download the amazon alexa app to get full use out of the speaker.

with the jam wi-fi app, you can connect the jam voice to your favorite music sources, such as spotify, tunein, iheartradio, tidal, amazon, or your own music library. you can also use the app to control your tunes if you’re not near the speaker.

another neat thing you can do with this app is broadcast to other speakers. record a message within the app and it will play on the speaker. if you have multiple speakers set up throughout the house, your message will play on all of them.

the amazon alexa app shows you the kinds of things you can ask alexa to do. for example, you can ask her to sing you a love song, play a certain kind of music, add items to a shopping list contained within the app, order things from amazon, get local movie listings, general facts, and much more. anything you’ve asked of alexa on the jam voice, you’ll see more details in the app.

i used the jam voice to ask alexa to order me some chocolates. alexa gave me a couple of choices based on popular amazon chocolates and asked if i’d like to purchase them now. later, i went into the amazon alexa app, and those chocolates were listed in the app along with some other options. similarly, more information about other questions i’d asked with the jam voice was there for further perusal.

jam voice plays music beautifully

the jam voice’s sound quality is quite nice. i like that you can pull music from so many different music sources. i don’t own many songs and i don’t subscribe to any music services other than amazon prime, but i’ve been having fun telling alexa to play music for me. i just press the button on top of the the jam voice and tell her to play me 80s music, dance music, adele, or whatever i’m in the mood for. the volume goes pretty high with no noticeable sound distortion.

bottom line

if you’re an amazon prime member and you’ve been thinking about picking up one of amazon’s alexa voice service products, the jam voice is one to consider. while you do have to press a button to activate it, it’s substantially cheaper than the amazon echo or amazon tap. the jam voice is just a little more than the amazon echo dot, which isn’t a speaker itself. the jam voice comes in black for $64.99 or white for $69.99 on amazon.


Information

ride-sharing service uber is growing in popularity. it provides an efficient way for thousands of users each day to get from one place to another. in many locales, uber is at least modestly less expensive than alternatives like taxi services. that convenience and lesser cost may come at a bigger price than you realize, however. over the past few months, it has become increasingly clear that your location privacy is not truly safe with uber.

 

does uber really snoop on your location?

if you’ve ever used uber or even just installed the app, you’ve put yourself on the company’s radar. in late 2016, we learned that uber employees were able to track customers in real-time without their consent. uber employees were claimed to have tracked politicians, celebrities, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, and ex-spouses using the company’s so-called “god view.”

how can uber track its customers that way?

when you first install uber on your iphone, you are prompted to turn on location services for the app. since location services only has two possible settings for an app, always or never, that means the software is technically capable of tracking where you are even when uber is running in the background.

the fine print of uber’s explanation for collecting this data reads:

can i turn that capability off?

if you’re not convinced it’s in your best interests for uber to have access to your location information when you aren’t requesting a ride, you can disable it. simply go to settings > privacy > location services > uber and set allow location access to never.

the drawback to doing this is that the next time you request a ride from uber, the app won’t know where you are. you’ll have to manually type in your address. that seems like a small price to pay to prevent uber from tracking you without your consent.

whither goes our privacy?

even though it’s easy to disable, and uber states in the update notes that “you’ll always be in control over what location information is shared and can adjust this at any time,” why was this allowed to become a problem in the first place? app developers should be more conscientious about our rights to privacy. we decry invasions on our privacy when the government causes them, so you would think there would be more of an outcry when a service makes the same assault. has convenience overwhelmed our desire to maintain some privacy?


Information

amazon is offering the amazing canary all-in-one security camera for just $167, a 40 percent discount and the lowest price we’ve ever seen.

there’s no shortage of internet-connected security cameras, but the canary all-in-one is seriously one of our favorites. not only does it include temperature and air quality sensors, but it also has a super loud 90db alarm just in case you need some extra noise in your house.

you can also set it to automatically record when it detects motion, which is great for those times when you’re away from home. oh, and you get some free cloud dvr space, something that a lot of high-quality security cameras.

it also happens to be a #1 best seller with a 4-star rating from nearly 2,000 reviews. not bad!


take note of everything in your life, play the role of a particle accelerator, and leap across unlimited platforms with today’s collection of apps and games.

all app prices are subject to change at any time and without notice regardless of stated free duration. price changes are solely under the control of the developers.

iphone:

litmus – note this moment ($0.99 → free, 1.6 mb): take note of anything and everything in your life with litmus. those who want to keep a journal.

litmus provides a simple and effective way to note things that matter in your life. when you launch the app you’ll see the current date and time. simply tap to add a new entry. all of your entries will be saved in chronological order. the app also allows you to adjust the font size and time format, and includes a night mode.

litmus – note this moment is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 5 ratings.

universal:

cyclotron ($1.99 → free, 1.7 mb): play the role of a particle accelerator with cyclotron. people of all ages will have a blast playing with these particles.

cyclotron is pure eye candy, making it a great wallpaper creator. just put your fingers to the screen and watch as the lights begin to shine. if you tilt your idevice around, you can get different perspectives on the light show you’ve created. the app includes 10 interaction modes, airplay support, and the ability to snap pictures of your creations.

cyclotron is available for free for a limited time. it has a 3.5-star rating with a total of 668 ratings.

animal pre-k math and early learning games for kids in preschool and kindergarten premium ($3.99 → free, 34.7 mb): a collection of 100 fun and colorful educational games that your kids are sure to enjoy. parents with children ages three to six.

your little ones get to explore the farm with lily and the cute animals. each of the eight sections stars a cute farm animal, and your child must help them complete the task at hand. games range from counting and classifying objects to comparing shapes and naming colors. a professional narrator will guide your child along the way and provide positive reinforcement.

animal pre-k math and early learning games for kids in preschool and kindergarten premium is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 77 ratings.

platforms unlimited ($0.99 → free, 32.4 mb): get ready for the platforming challenge of your life in platforms unlimited. anyone who enjoys one-button gameplay.

tap the screen to get your little blue dude to start sliding across the platform. tap the screen again to perform a short jump, or tap and hold to jump farther. do everything in your power to avoid the red enemies while collecting coins and bonuses to move up the leaderboards. the game includes two modes, procedurally generated levels, loads of missions to complete, and achievements and leaderboards via game center.

platforms unlimited is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 35 ratings.

doubledown slots & casino – free vegas games! ($1.99 → free, 55.7 mb): a fun slots/casino game featuring the real wheel of fortune & double diamond slots! ***today only*** new players will receive 1 million free bonus chips. those who love the excitement of las vegas casinos.

step into the largest free-to-play casino in the entire app store. you’re able to choose from more than 70 authentic slot machines including wheel of fortune, double diamond, golden goddess, davinci diamonds, and more. exclusive machines are frequently added, and you can even play igt slots pulled straight from the casino floors. daily bonuses, free spins, and tournaments allow you to quickly build up your chip stack. video poker, blackjack tables, and roulette tables are also available.

doubledown slots & casino – free vegas games! is available for free today only (02/17). it has a 4-star rating with a total of 96695 ratings.

relicam ($0.99 → free, 22.8 mb): get full control over how you capture your photos and videos with relicam. iphoneographers who want to personalize their photos.

relicam allows you to take the best possible photos. it provides you with manual control over focus, iso, shutter speed, and zoom. slide your finger left or right to adjust each parameter or use the fine tune controls. relicam also provides helpful grid lines when necessary. all captured photos and videos are directly saved to your library.

relicam is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 36 ratings.

that concludes today’s issue of apps gone free. if you like staying on top of these daily deals, don’t forget to check out our free appsgonefree app. it provides all the deals each day, and even an archive of past deals that are still active.

developers:

if you are a developer who would like to get your app included in our “apps gone free” daily lists, here’s our basic set of rules:

  • it must have at least a three-star average rating at the time it goes free.
  • the app must not have been free numerous times (3+) over the last six months.
  • the free version of your app must not include ads.

to submit an app, simply send a request to [email protected] with the subject “apps gone free.” please include the name of the app, a link to it in the app store, when and for how long you intend to offer the app for free, and anything else you would like to share. we will take it from there.


Information

new at&t unlimited data plans have been announced. the news comes after similar plans were introduced by verizon, sprint, and t-mobile in recent weeks.

the new plans, which launch today, feb. 17, start at $100 for a single line. lines no. 2 and no. 3 cost $40 each per month. line no. 4 is free, bringing the price of four lines on one account to $180 per month.

previously, this type of unlimited plan was only available to at&t customers who also subscribed to directv.

with the at&t unlimited plan, you’ll get:

  • unlimited data for all eligible devices on your plan.
  • unlimited talk and text including calls to mexico and canada.
  • talk, text, and use data in canada and mexico when you add the at&t roam north america feature to eligible devices on your at&t unlimited plan for no additional charge.
  • stream saver – allows you to save data by streaming higher definition video at standard definition quality (about 480p).

the fine print

at&t retains the right to throttle data speeds once they hit 22gb in a month during periods of “network congestion.”

 

competition

earlier this week, verizon also introduced new unlimited data plans. while the formula is slightly different, like with at&t, four lines with verizon cost $180 per month.

as we noted last week, sprint offers unlimited data plans with up to five lines for $90 per month. the deal provides data, talk, and text for $50 per month for one line, or $90 per month for two lines. lines three through four are free.

with a t-mobile one plan, taxes and fees are now included in the listed price. you pay $40 per line for up to four lines with autopay.

it will be interesting to see just how long each of these plans stick around. don’t be surprised seeing them go away ahead of apple’s “iphone 8” launch this fall.


Information

according to popular photograph sharing site flickr, the iphone boasts the most popular camera in the world. there’s little doubt that cupertino has put a lot of time and energy into their mobile devices’ cameras. in fact, apple is so proud of their cameras that their retail stores display “shot on iphone” images and the tech giant formed an advertising campaign centered around those photographs. how can you, the common iphone owner, shoot pictures that look as professional as those showcases, though? all it takes is practice, a few tips and tricks, and the right software and accessories. read on to learn how to make your iphone photography look professional.

the first step to excellent iphone photography: know your camera

the first, and most important, tip is to get to know your camera and its capabilities. my colleague aldrin calimlim wrote about the capabilities of the iphone camera, along with some interesting tips to keep in mind. it’s worth a read to get to know your camera better before you dive into the sophisticated tips and strategies i’ll cover here.

get your settings right

the most important first step is to set up your camera to help you as much as it can. if you tap on the settings icon, you’ll find an option for photos & camera. scroll down until you see an option for grid, and enable it. this will overlay a 3×3 grid of squares on your viewfinder, so you can compose your shots according to the “rule of thirds.” the idea here is to compose more balanced and interesting shots by placing the points of interest of your subject in the intersections or along the lines of the grid.

 

next, you’ll want to enable the auto hdr function within the camera app. launch the camera, tap hdr in the top left of the screen, then choose auto. hdr stands for high dynamic range, and uses multiple exposures to get more information in the highlights and shadows of your photograph.

 

with that done, you’ll also want to disable the built-in flash of your iphone. even though it’s advertised as a truetone flash, which balances for skin tones, the iphone led usually causes images to be rather disappointing. it fires when you don’t want it to, it’s weak, and it can cause washed out details due to its placement facing the same direction as your lens. to disable it, open the camera app, tap the lightning-bolt icon, and select off.

you’ll be far more satisfied using an external or natural light source, like a window. if you really need a flash, try this: get a friend to put his or her iphone in flashlight mode, and then shine the light at your subject from a better angle. if you don’t know how to access flashlight mode, just swipe up and select the button for it from the control center.

launch your camera in a hurry

there’s an old adage among photographers that the best camera is the one you have at the ready. capturing a great shot often requires impeccable timing, so you don’t want to be fumbling around with your iphone trying to find the camera app. apple has made this easy for us in ios 10, allowing photographers to launch the camera app directly from the lock screen. all you have to do is swipe to the left, and your camera will be ready to go.

lock focus and adjust exposure

yes, the iphone’s tap to focus feature is great, but it’s not perfect. the device quite often decides to refocus the image after you’ve chosen your subject, so it’s often best to bypass it. tap and hold to lock both focus and exposure, then slide your finger up and down the yellow box to adjust the exposure and get your shot perfect. this is particularly handy when you’re shooting a dark subject or under difficult lighting conditions, like sunset. this technique will require a fair bit of practice, so don’t be afraid to take multiple shots with different exposures and then choose your favorites.

don’t use digital zoom

now that we’ve got our photography settings configured a bit better than they are by default, it’s important to understand the primary limitation of the iphone’s camera. unless you have an iphone 7 plus, you don’t have optical zoom. that means when you pinch to zoom, you’re relying on a digital effect. digital zoom will stretch the pixels, giving your photograph a gradually decreasing quality the more you zoom in. even the iphone 7 plus only offers 2x optical zoom. with this in mind, you should focus your efforts on moving around and getting closer to your subject in order to get them better framed, rather than trying to zoom in.

 

make judicious use of burst mode for action

capturing action or fast-moving targets can be a real challenge, since you don’t want to end up with a blurry photograph. burst mode is quite handy for capturing those difficult-to-time shots. simply press and hold the shutter button, and your iphone will take a rapid succession of photographs. you can then go into your photos and tap to select your favorites. delete the rest, to save space on your iphone.

trigger the shutter properly

are you still shooting your pictures by tapping the shutter button on the screen with your thumb? if so, there’s a better way. a couple of them, actually. first, you can hold your iphone like a traditional point-and-shoot camera, and then use the volume buttons on the side of your handset to trigger the shutter. another option, one that works really well if you’re using a tripod or shooting at an interesting angle, is to use the remote volume buttons on your earphones.

ditch the stock camera app

if you want to take even more control over your iphone photography, you’ll need to ditch the stock camera app. other options include camera+ and obscura camera. some of these apps, like camera+, allow you to manually select a lower iso to reduce noise or adjust your shutter speed to manage the level of blurriness in your shot when the scene is in motion. you can often also adjust the white balance and lock it, allowing you to adjust the exposure value to obtain a darker or lighter shot.

this power comes at a cost, though – you can’t launch third-party camera apps from the lock screen. some do include dashboard widgets to make it quicker to launch the apps, but you’ll still need to unlock your device first.

shoot in raw

if you’ve ever studied photography with digital slr cameras, you probably know about raw mode. when you’re shooting images in raw, you capture a dump of data that your device renders and you can adjust before creating the jpeg images we’re all familiar with. of course, it wasn’t always possible for an iphone to shoot raw, but ios 10 has brought the capability to a select number of iphone devices. if you have an iphone 6s, 6s plus, se, 7, or 7 plus, you’ll be able to shoot raw images. you’ll also need a third-party app like obscura camera or adobe photoshop lightroom to capture images in raw format.

choose the right accessories

finally, you should consider investing in some good photography accessories. a good first choice is a tripod, but after-market lenses also make excellent investments. you can get macro, fisheye, wide, and even telephoto lenses for your iphone. olloclip and moment make excellent lenses, but you’ll still lose some sharpness in your shots if you choose a third-party lens.

practice your hobby and skills

if you’re addicted to snapping photos, you’ve probably already developed some skill in the hobby. keep practicing, follow these tips, and make the right investments in accessories and apps, and you’ll quickly be capturing still images that are worthy of the “shot on iphone” moniker, or maybe even some form of cash compensation for your photographs.

for even more apps that will help you as a photography, check out our collection of the best photo apps for those who love photography.


Information

you carry around an iphone with more storage space than the earliest usb thumb drives offered. heck, even the smallest capacity iphone 7 has more storage capacity than some newer flash drives. still, you dutifully carry that usb storage device in your pocket or on your keychain, because you want to transport files between home and office. wouldn’t it be nice if you could retire that usb flash drive and just use your iphone as an external hard drive? as it turns out, you can do exactly that. let me show you some of the best ways to pull that off.

there’s an app for that

first, there’s the free app file manager. this ios app allows you to manage the files on your device, but it also acts as a virtual usb drive for both the iphone and the ipad. after you’ve installed the app, you can get files into it using itunes > apps > file manager, but there’s a better way. instead, use wi-fi. here’s how that works.

 

from the file manager app, go to settings > upload via wi-fi sync, and you’ll see an ip address. enter that address into a web browser on a computer that’s on the same network as your iphone, and you’ll get an interface that allows you to copy files back and forth. it’s cumbersome, since you have to select and transfer one file at a time, but it works and it’s totally free.

the app itself can read certain files, like those created in microsoft office, apple’s iwork suite, and pdf files, but you can toss any sort of file at all into the app and it will happily store it for you. when you get to the next computer you want to share those files with, all you have to do is get the ip address again, then copy the files off using the same web interface.

of course, there’s another app for that

another ios app choice is files: document & pdf reader. it works in a similar vein to file manager, but with some differences. in addition to being able to transfer files via itunes or a wi-fi network, files: document & pdf reader functions with finder and windows explorer. here’s what you need to do to make that happen.

tap the three dots icon in files: document & pdf reader, then tap remote access. you’ll see a server address to connect to (mine is http://pippin.local or http://192.168.1.9). from the finder, click go > connect to server. enter the address the app provides you, then click connect. you’ll be taken to a panel asking for your username and password; unless you’ve turned on authentication, go ahead and click connect again, and you’ll get a finder window that you can copy files to and from. the drawback with this app is that you are limited to 200mb of file storage unless you unlock the pro version with an in-app purchase.

a more elegant solution, perhaps

this next option doesn’t require you to install any apps to your iphone, and it may very well help you ditch itunes altogether. it’s an amazing piece of software for macos and windows called imazing. with imazing, you can transfer and save your music, messages, files, and data. there’s a simple drag-and-drop interface, with which you can transfer files into the device storage itself or into other apps. when you get to your other computer, you can simply copy those documents from the file storage area to their new home. a single license for imazing is $39.99, or you can get a universal license for two computers for $49.99. the software is available for both macos and windows. this is a great deal, since there’s much more you can do with the software, like transfer your visual voicemail to your computer or archive your text messages.

yes, there are other methods

sure, there are other ways you can pull off using your iphone as an external hard drive. you can transfer files via itunes, for example, or use a product like the sandisk ixpand flash drive. however, itunes has limitations and if you’re carrying around the ixpand, you might as well have a jump drive. the methods i’ve shown you don’t require any extra hardware, and allow you to transfer whatever file types you might need.


Information

the next-generation iphone may say goodbye to the touch id fingerprint scanner. according to a new note from jpmorgan analyst rod hall, via macrumors, the “iphone 8” will feature a 3d laser for some type of facial recognition technology.

face the facts

hall’s information lines up with another recent analyst note that indicated the new iphone will completely remove the home button and touch id sensor and instead provide a “function area.” that will allow the handset to sport an edge-to-edge display with no bezels.

interestingly, hall believes the two other new rumored handsets – the so-called “iphone 7s” and “iphone 7s plus” may also have the same laser scanner.

the laser scanner could eventually be used for some type of ar on the iphone. but the analyst doesn’t expect that until at least 2018:

one obvious and potentially most compelling use would be ar/vr experiences in which the user’s hands and other real world objects are being scanned and integrated into a field of view provided by the iphone mounted into a google daydream-like headset. this would open up many interesting entertainment and gaming experiences not available today and might give apple something extra in an ar/vr accessory compared to google and others.

he also said to expect that apple would eventually provide an api for developers who want to use the scanner. that could allow “everything from determining your shoe size for online orders to helping make sure you are properly fitted on your bike.”

more about the next-generation iphone

if you’re interested in learning more about the next-generation lineup, make sure to visit our “iphone 8” rumor roundup section that will be continuously updated until the handsets are revealed sometime this fall.


Information

where cards fall, a new game from alto’s adventure developer snowman along with the game band, will officially arrive this fall for the iphone, ipad, apple tv, mac, and pc.

build a house of cards

described as a coming of age story, gamers will need to build numerous house of cards using puzzles that will help bring memories of adolescence to life.

without any further ado, here’s the new trailer. the game looks amazing.

alto will return in 2017

and speaking of the intrepid snowboarder, back in december, snowman teased a sequel to alto’s adventure. titled alto’s odyssey, the game is scheduled to hit the app store sometime this year.

there’s not much known about the game except for the title and the beautiful teaser image released on twitter. but we’ll definitely let you know if that changes.

the original alto’s adventure is universal and can be played on the iphone/ipod touch, all ipad models, and even the apple tv.

if you haven’t checked out the beautiful snowboarding game, it can be downloaded now on the app store for $4.99. the beautiful visuals, great music, and challenging gameplay is well worth the cost and still one of the best casual games available for apple devices.


Information

amazon is offering the every-so-popular ue roll 2 speaker for just $69, the lowest price we’ve ever seen.

the ipx7 speaker not only sounds great and can connect to two devices at once, but it can withstand some serious mud and water. in fact, you should seriously check out our review if you haven’t already.

yes, we know it’s only february and summer is still several months away, but if you want an amazing ultra-portable waterproof speaker, this is a heck of a bargain.


facebook has recently announced that businesses in the united states and canada can post their job openings to the social network. job seekers can also easily apply through the ios app or web.

easy for business and job seekers

anyone looking for a job can find the positions on their facebook page or jobs bookmark. on the ios app, select the menu button, tap “jobs,” and then scroll down to see the positions available in your area.

after employers post a position, they’ll be able to track applications and contact applicants through facebook messenger.

when an applicant on the apply now button, they’ll see a form that’s already populated with information from their profile. that can be reviewed and edited before being submitted to the employer.

the facebook app is designed for the iphone/ipod touch and all ipad models. it can be downloaded now on the app store for free.

making the move to the apple tv soon

and facebook has been busy making other news this week as well. at the code media conference, facebook announced that a video-focused apple tv app will be arriving “soon.”

as previously reported, the app will mainly revolve around video and not be another way for users to check their news feed. it will provide recommended videos for users or allow anyone to watch videos they’ve saved later on other devices.

facebook on the apple tv won’t include any ads to start. but don’t expect that to last for long, especially if the app becomes popular.

the main facebook app has also added some new features. unfortunately, as long as your ios device isn’t muted, autoplay videos in the news feed will play with the sound on. the annoying feature can be disabled in the app’s settings.

with a picture-in-picture feature you can watch videos while browsing a news feed. finally, vertical video is rolling out vertical video viewing to all ios users.


Information

in this age of information overload, it’s easy to get confounded by the myriad websites, social media posts, news cycles, movies, tv shows, and whatnot that you get bombarded with day in, day out. as a result, you might sometimes find that your capacity for comprehension has been compromised. and it might just be that your grasp of the matter at hand hinges on your understanding of a word or two. what does, say, myriad mean anyway? or what does getting bombarded entail? fortunately, in this age of information accessibility, it’s also easy to be enlightened about the meaning of words. and if you have an iphone, ipad, or ipod touch, you don’t even have to download an app to be able to define and translate words. you just have to know how to access the all but hidden dictionary feature on your ios device.

set up your preferred dictionaries

a number of dictionaries are actually built into your ios device. you just have to ensure that the dictionaries you need or want have been enabled.

by default, the apple dictionary, which provides definitions and descriptions of terms related to apple’s products and services, and the dictionary for the relevant language based on your region should already be available. if you want to customize which dictionaries you have access to, you can do so by following these steps.

apple’s built-in dictionaries include unilingual ones for getting definitions of words in the same language, and bilingual ones for getting definitions in english of words in another language and vice versa.

the supported unilingual dictionaries include british english, american english, apple dictionary, simplified chinese, traditional chinese, danish, dutch, french, german, hindi, italian, japanese, korean, norwegian, portuguese, russian, spanish, swedish, thai, and turkish.

and the supported bilingual dictionaries include simplified chinese-english, dutch-english, french-english, german-english, italian-english, japanese-english, korean-english, and spanish-english.

define words in a jiffy

the dictionary feature on ios works best with words that you encounter in a webpage, email, note, e-book, document, or anything that has selectable text — practically regardless of the app you’re in.

to define a word on screen, just tap and hold on it to select it and tap look up in the contextual menu. you can also define a phrase or term consisting of more than one word: just tap and hold on one word, drag the cursor to select the other words, and tap look up in the contextual menu. either way, the look up screen will open up with the available definitions, any of which you can tap to read in full.

as you can see, unlike dictionary apps like dictionary.com and merriam-webster, ios’ dictionary feature doesn’t involve a search bar where you can enter the word you want to define. but don’t worry: to define a word that’s not on screen — say, something that you read in a novel or heard from a newscast — you can simply type the word in any text field (as in the messages or notes app), tap and hold to select it, and tap look up to know its meaning.

translate words, pronto

as mentioned, in addition to dictionaries that provide definitions of words in the same language, ios features dictionaries that effectively offer bidirectional translation of words between english and other languages.

for example, if you’ve enabled the spanish-english dictionary, you can select an english word and then tap look up to find out its spanish equivalent. conversely, you can select a spanish word and then look up to view its english translation.

this built-in translation dictionary feature is particularly helpful if you’re learning a language other than english. but it’s admittedly limited in its provisions. for one thing, it supports translation to and from english only. for another, it doesn’t support translation of phrases, let alone entire sentences and paragraphs. so if you’re after multilingual and multi-word translation, you’re better off using an app such as google translate.

just ask siri

the look up feature is not the only way you can get access to ios’ built-in dictionary. another way is by summoning apple’s intelligent virtual assistant, siri. with siri, you’re just a long press of your ios device’s home button away from a dictionary.

to use siri as your personal dictionary, just say “define” or “what is the meaning of” followed by the word in question, e.g. “define myriad” or “what is the meaning of myriad?” siri will then display the dictionary definition. not only that: siri will also read it aloud to you.

but what if the word you wish to be defined sounds exactly like another word? well, in the case of homophones, or words with the same pronunciation but different spellings and meanings (such as pain and pane), siri conveniently includes a “did you mean” section where you can tap the word you mean to be defined in the first place.

of course, speaking your instructions clearly helps siri a lot in coming up with the correct definitions. but in the event that siri mishears your command, you can just tap to edit your transcribed instruction and press done to have siri redo its dictionary lookup.

siri’s dictionary lookup support is useful if you already know the pronunciation of the word you want to define but don’t necessarily know its spelling — just be sure to say the word clearly so that siri might come up with the correct match. however, this feature is available only in the language that is set for siri in settings > siri > language. and since it’s tied with siri, it requires an internet connection — unlike the look up function, which works even when your device is offline provided that dictionaries have been installed.

check your pronunciation

when you use the look up function, the definition provided includes the pronunciation for the word in question. this is helpful if you’re already familiar with the system of phonetic transcription used. but if you want to be sure of a word’s pronunciation, you can have your ios device read it aloud for you.

first, you need to enable the speak selection by following these steps.

with speak selection, you can just tap and hold to select a word and then tap speak in the contextual menu to have the word spoken by your ios device.

and that’s how you can define, translate, and check the pronunciation of words on your iphone, ipad, or ipod touch without having to download a dictionary app, or any other app, for that matter. your ios device already has the tools you need — that is, unless you’re looking for the synonyms and antonyms of words, in which case you’ll be better served by a thesaurus app.

in any case, the look up feature and siri’s dictionary component on ios might just come in handy. if you want to go beyond dictionary definitions, translations, and pronunciations, you can even set look up to include spotlight suggestions from the web, itunes, app store, and other sources by going to settings > general > spotlight search and turning on suggestions in look up.

make sure you’re running the latest version of ios on your iphone, ipad, or ipod touch to access the features discussed in this article.


Information

for many of us, the idea of cord cutting has been on our minds for quite some time. we want to do it, but for a variety of reasons, we can’t. it might because of live sports, or maybe it’s because we just haven’t found the right solution. there are a lot of options out there and unfortunately, there hasn’t been a simple guide that shows us the best way. well, that’s about to change. here’s what we think is the ultimate cord cutting solution with what’s currently available today.

cord cutting with apple tv

before we get started, here are the things you’re going to need:

  1. a 4th generation apple tv
  2. a subscription to slingtv, directv now or playstation vue
  3. an hd antenna
  4. an hdhomerun connect box
  5. the channels app for apple tv

based on my experience, if you have all these pieces, your apple tv can serve as the way you watch tv, period. you won’t need to jump between inputs.

of course, depending on what you want, you may not need some of these things, but if you basically want to get everything you were getting with cable and local tv, this is what you should get.

which apple tv should i get?

i’ve been using the 32gb apple tv since its debut in 2015 without any issues. i’m honestly not sure why one would get the 64gb version, but if you really want more space, go for it. my recommendation is to save the $50 bucks and get yourself the 32gb model.

which cord cutting streaming service should i get?

this is going to depend on what channels you want and if you want features like the ability to sign into apps using your streaming id and password. for example, directv now, so far, has virtually no support for signing into any of the apps on apple tv. this means i have to use the directv now app when i want to watch any of the supported channels. whether this changes in the future is unknown. but for now, that’s how it is.

here are currently the three best options that exist for the apple tv:

  • slingtv – cheapest entry price at $20 for 30+ channels, but little third-party app support and app is ok at best
  • playstation vue – $30 entry point for 40+ channels, with most third-party app support, but ui is ok
  • directv now – $35 entry point for 60+ channels and great app, but no third-party app support

i’m personally a directv now user mostly because i got in on the awesome promotion they had, but if i didn’t i’d be using playstation vue because of its third-party app support.

what do i need an antenna for?

okay, so for most of us, these tv streaming services don’t include local channels, unfortunately. that might not matter much to you, but if you’re big on live sports, then having those local channels is key. a lot of nfl and nba games are on fox, cbs, and abc. that said, if live sports aren’t something you care much for, guess what? you might not need this.

the good news is that hd antennas are relatively cheap. you can get some for as low as $10, but our favorite is a little more.

there are also some folks where no matter what antenna they buy, they simply won’t pick up reception. it may be for a variety of reasons including the placement of their home or how far they are from antenna towers. the only way to know for sure buy an antenna and try it out.

typically, the way an hd antenna works is you twist one end into the coaxial port on the back of your tv and you run a scan to find all the channels available to you. once you’ve done that you can watch live, crystal clear local television for free. the only downside is that you have to switch inputs when you want to do this and you have no tv guide to see what’s coming up next. this is where the hdhomerun comes in.

what's an hdhomerun?

the hdhomerun is a brilliant little device that takes the analog tv signal coming through your antenna and converts it to a digital signal so that you can watch your local channels on your iphone, ipad, mac, and even your apple tv. it’s actually super easy to use. simply plug in your antenna into the hdhomerun and then connect your hdhomerun to the internet. once you’ve done that, you install some software and within seconds you can watch live right on your computer. it works great and i absolutely love it.

but it could be better and that’s where the channels app comes in.

what is channels?

channels is a $25 app that basically takes the hdhomerun and makes the user interface an absolute joy to use. it’s available for the ipad, iphone and yes, the apple tv. this is the magic app that makes it possible for you to only use your apple tv to not only get your streaming tv subscription, but also watch your local channels without having to keep switching inputs.

oh, and it also as an amazing user interface for seeing what shows are on, what’s coming up next.

it doesn’t stop there, either. with channels and the hdhomerun, you can easily pause and play your live local television with ease and soon you’ll be able to dvr it. how awesome is that?

tying it all together

so how do you tie this all together for one seamless great experience?

first, make sure you have everything you need in terms of hardware. those three things are:

  • a 4th generation apple tv
  • an hd antenna
  • an hdhomerun box

next, subscribe to your preferred streaming service, all of which are available on ios and the apple tv:

if you want to be able to watch your local hd channels from your antenna on your apple tv, download the channels app for apple tv.

now that you’ve got everything, screw in your antenna into the hdhomerun box and plug in your ethernet cable into the box as well. follow the simple instructions on setting up your hdhomerun which is provided for you in the box. you might have to fiddle around with where you position your antenna to get the most out of it. i find that if it’s near or close to a window, you’re in good shape.

once you’ve done that, turn on your apple tv, download the streaming cable app you chose (sling, directv now, or playstation vue) and log in.

next, if you haven’t already, download the channels app for apple tv. once you’ve done that, open the app, head over to settings and select scan for channels. from there, the channels app will find all the available channels within the range of your antenna and automatically propagate them in the app.

that’s it! you’ve done it! now you can watch cable tv and live local tv all in hd without ever leaving the apple tv. the best part is now you can watch everything from any device no matter where you are in your house. simply jump into sling, directv now or playstation vue when you want to watch cable and then into channels app when you want to watch live local channels.


Information

manage a racing team, get to the root of twitter, and play with your food with today’s collection of apps and games.

all app prices are subject to change at any time and without notice regardless of stated free duration. price changes are solely under the control of the developers.

universal:

candy blast madness – puzzle game with various candy themes ($1.99 → free, 22.6 mb): match candies like you mean it in candy blast madness. fans of match-three games.

today only: remove ads free of charge! simply tap the “remove ads” button on the main screen and confirm your action.

candy blast madness is pure candy matching insanity. drag your finger over the top of three or more matching candies to connect and remove them from the board. candies must be adjacent to each other in order to be connected. move quickly and create large matches in order to keep the clock from hitting zero. you’re also able to utilize potions in order to free up candies. the game includes five total themes.

candy blast madness – puzzle game with various candy themes is available for free for a limited time. it has a 5-star rating with a total of 14 ratings.

new york travel guide and offline city map ($3.99 → free, 76.7 mb): get the most out of what new york has to offer with this travel guide. locals and tourists.

today only: unlock the new york travel guide free of charge!

put down the huge book guides and pick up your idevice. new york travel guide is here to help you find the best of what the city has to offer. the app provides zoomable regional maps, augmented reality, photos, interactive points of interest, safety tips, budget-based restaurants, and even daily itineraries. everything is available offline, but make sure to download the data before heading out.

new york travel guide and offline city map is available for free for a limited time. it has a 3.5-star rating with a total of 27 ratings.

angry birds pop! – bubble shooter ($1.99 → free, 150.0 mb): bring those piggies crashing to the ground in angry birds pop! fans of bubble shooters, or just those who enjoy a good angry birds game.

stella, red, chuck, bomb, and the rest of the angry birds crew need your help rescuing the hatchlings. the evil piggies have rounded them up into bubbles, and you must pop like you’ve never popped before to release them. trick shots and streaks will activate special pops and unique powers, allowing you to burst everything in sight. the game includes more than 1,000 levels, daily challenges, and facebook integration.

angry birds pop! – bubble shooter is available for free today only (02/16). it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 32626 ratings.

tweetroot for twitter – word clouds from tweets! ($0.99 → free, 5.4 mb): get to the root of twitter by creating visual word clouds with tweetroot. anyone interested in analyzing twitter feeds.

you’re able to analyze three types of twitter feeds with tweetroot. enter any username to create a word cloud from their last 1,000 tweets, or you can view recent tweets mentioning that user. tweetroot also allows you to enter a hashtag and create a word cloud from recent tweets using it. your clouds can be customized in a wide variety of ways including the amount of words included, how they’re organized, the colors and fonts they can take on, and so much more. word clouds can be shared via your favorite social networks.

tweetroot for twitter – word clouds from tweets! is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4-star rating with a total of 26 ratings.

toca kitchen ($2.99 → free, 59.0 mb): your little ones can play with their food with this fun entertainment app from toca boca. children who enjoy exploring freely.

they get to cook for four cute characters, each with their own favorite food. they’re able to grab 12 different items from the fridge and slice, boil, fry, cook, microwave, and mix them together. they can then feed morsels of scrumptious food to their guests and watch how they respond. there’s even a vegetarian mode!

toca kitchen is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4-star rating with a total of 3681 ratings.

motorsport manager ($0.99 → free, 681.3 mb): manage an entire racing team in motorsport manager. sports simulation fans.

in motorsport manager, strategy is key. make the wrong move and your entire team will fail. as the boss, your job is to hire drivers, develop your car, invest in technology, and formulate a pitstop plan. then put your car and driver on the track and watch the race play out in-real time. if you like, you can be even more hands-on during the race by jumping into the strategy screens to react to weather changes, crashes, and safety car periods.

motorsport manager is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 2297 ratings.

that concludes today’s issue of apps gone free. if you like staying on top of these daily deals, don’t forget to check out our free appsgonefree app. it provides all the deals each day, and even an archive of past deals that are still active.

developers:

if you are a developer who would like to get your app included in our “apps gone free” daily lists, here’s our basic set of rules:

  • it must have at least a three-star average rating at the time it goes free.
  • the app must not have been free numerous times (3+) over the last six months.
  • the free version of your app must not include ads.

to submit an app, simply send a request to [email protected] with the subject “apps gone free.” please include the name of the app, a link to it in the app store, when and for how long you intend to offer the app for free, and anything else you would like to share. we will take it from there.


Information

according to popular photograph sharing site flickr, the iphone boasts the most popular camera in the world. there’s little doubt that cupertino has put a lot of time and energy into their mobile devices’ cameras. in fact, apple is so proud of their cameras that their retail stores display “shot on iphone” images and the tech giant formed an advertising campaign centered around those photographs. how can you, the common iphone owner, shoot pictures that look as professional as those showcases, though? all it takes is practice, a few tips and tricks, and the right software and accessories. read on to learn how to make your iphone photos look professional.

the first step to excellent iphone photos – know your camera

the first, and most important, tip is to get to know your camera and its capabilities. my colleague aldrin calimlim wrote about the capabilities of the iphone camera, along with some interesting tips to keep in mind. it’s worth a read to get to know your camera better before you dive into the sophisticated tips and strategies i’ll cover here.

get your settings right

the most important first step is to set up your camera to help you as much as it can. if you tap on the settings icon, you’ll find an option for photos & camera. scroll down until you see an option for grid, and enable it. this will overlay a 3×3 grid of squares on your viewfinder, so you can compose your shots according to the “rule of thirds.” the idea here is to compose more balanced and interesting shots by placing the points of interest of your subject in the intersections or along the lines of the grid.

 

next, you’ll want to enable the auto hdr function within the camera app. launch the camera, tap hdr in the top left of the screen, then choose auto. hdr stands for high dynamic range, and uses multiple exposures to get more information in the highlights and shadows of your photograph.

 

with that done, you’ll also want to disable the built-in flash of your iphone. even though it’s advertised as a truetone flash, which balances for skin tones, the iphone led usually causes images to be rather disappointing. it fires when you don’t want it to, it’s weak, and it can cause washed out details due to its placement facing the same direction as your lens. to disable it, open the camera app, tap the lightning-bolt icon, and select off.

you’ll be far more satisfied using an external or natural light source, like a window. if you really need a flash, try this: get a friend to put his or her iphone in flashlight mode, and then shine the light at your subject from a better angle. if you don’t know how to access flashlight mode, just swipe up and select the button for it from the control center.

launch your camera in a hurry

there’s an old adage among photographers that the best camera is the one you have at the ready. capturing a great shot often requires impeccable timing, so you don’t want to be fumbling around with your iphone trying to find the camera app. apple has made this easy for us in ios 10, allowing photographers to launch the camera app directly from the lock screen. all you have to do is swipe to the left, and your camera will be ready to go.

lock focus and adjust exposure

yes, the iphone’s tap to focus feature is great, but it’s not perfect. the device quite often decides to refocus the image after you’ve chosen your subject, so it’s often best to bypass it. tap and hold to lock both focus and exposure, then slide your finger up and down the yellow box to adjust the exposure and get your shot perfect. this is particularly handy when you’re shooting a dark subject or under difficult lighting conditions, like sunset. this technique will require a fair bit of practice, so don’t be afraid to take multiple shots with different exposures and then choose your favorites.

don’t use digital zoom

now that we’ve got our photography settings configured a bit better than they are by default, it’s important to understand the primary limitation of the iphone’s camera. unless you have an iphone 7 plus, you don’t have optical zoom. that means when you pinch to zoom, you’re relying on a digital effect. digital zoom will stretch the pixels, giving your photograph a gradually decreasing quality the more you zoom in. even the iphone 7 plus only offers 2x optical zoom. with this in mind, you should focus your efforts on moving around and getting closer to your subject in order to get them better framed, rather than trying to zoom in.

 

make judicious use of burst mode for action

capturing action or fast-moving targets can be a real challenge, since you don’t want to end up with a blurry photograph. burst mode is quite handy for capturing those difficult-to-time shots. simply press and hold the shutter button, and your iphone will take a rapid succession of photographs. you can then go into your photos and tap to select your favorites. delete the rest, to save space on your iphone.

trigger the shutter properly

are you still shooting your pictures by tapping the shutter button on the screen with your thumb? if so, there’s a better way. a couple of them, actually. first, you can hold your iphone like a traditional point-and-shoot camera, and then use the volume buttons on the side of your handset to trigger the shutter. another option, one that works really well if you’re using a tripod or shooting at an interesting angle, is to use the remote volume buttons on your earphones.

ditch the stock camera app

if you want to take even more control over your iphone photos, you’ll need to ditch the stock camera app. other options include camera+ and obscura camera. some of these apps, like camera+, allow you to manually select a lower iso to reduce noise or adjust your shutter speed to manage the level of blurriness in your shot when the scene is in motion. you can often also adjust the white balance and lock it, allowing you to adjust the exposure value to obtain a darker or lighter shot.

this power comes at a cost, though – you can’t launch third-party camera apps from the lock screen. some do include dashboard widgets to make it quicker to launch the apps, but you’ll still need to unlock your device first.

shoot in raw

if you’ve ever studied photography with digital slr cameras, you probably know about raw mode. when you’re shooting images in raw, you capture a dump of data that your device renders and you can adjust before creating the jpeg images we’re all familiar with. of course, it wasn’t always possible for an iphone to shoot raw, but ios 10 has brought the capability to a select number of iphone devices. if you have an iphone 6s, 6s plus, se, 7, or 7 plus, you’ll be able to shoot raw images. you’ll also need a third-party app like obscura camera or adobe photoshop lightroom to capture images in raw format.

choose the right accessories

finally, you should consider investing in some good photography accessories. a good first choice is a tripod, but after-market lenses also make excellent investments. you can get macro, fisheye, wide, and even telephoto lenses for your iphone. olloclip and moment make excellent lenses, but you’ll still lose some sharpness in your shots if you choose a third-party lens.

practice your hobby and skills

if you’re addicted to snapping photos, you’ve probably already developed some skill in the hobby. keep practicing, follow these tips, and make the right investments in accessories and apps, and you’ll quickly be capturing still images that are worthy of the “shot on iphone” moniker, or maybe even some form of cash compensation for your photographs.

for even more apps that will help you as a photography, check out our collection of the best photo apps for those who love photography.


Information

san jose, california plays hosts to this year’s wwdc, apple announced this week. meanwhile, we’ve heard more rumors about the next iphone and apple tv.

trending, feb. 12-18, 2017

wwdc 2017 announcement

new apple tv

apple plans on introducing a fifth-generation apple tv later this year. internally codenamed “j105,” the new set-top box “will be capable of streaming ultra-high-definition 4k and more vivid colors,” according to bloomberg.

the critical report said that adding 4k won’t be enough to turn the “gadget into a groundbreaking, iphone-caliber product.”

we would agree.

wwdc 2017 announced

apple’s annual worldwide developers conference (wwdc) will be held the week of june 5 at the mcenery convention center in san jose, california. it’s the first wwdc outside of san francisco in 13 years.

registration for the event will begin march 27.

the iphone “function area”

will the “iphone 8” say goodbye to the touch id/home button and hello to a “function area”? reliable kgi securities analyst ming-chi kuo has recently shared new predictions in a note to investors.

as previously rumored, kuo believes the handset will feature a 5.8-inch oled screen with nearly no bezels. that will enable apple to make the phone the same physical size as the current iphone 7.

taking place of the home button and touch id sensor will be a “function area” that will offer some type of virtual buttons. kuo implies that instead of fingerprint recognition, the “iphone 8” will offer some type of new biometric technology. iris or some other type of facial recognition has previously been rumored for the handset.

other news:

around the app store

new game preview

where cards fall, a new game from alto’s adventure developer snowman along with the game band, will officially arrive this fall for the iphone, ipad, apple tv, mac, and pc.

described as a coming of age story, gamers will need to build numerous house of cards using puzzles that will help bring memories of adolescence to life.

looking for a game you can play right now? this week, christine chan added three new titles to the appadvice app review library, including:

gearadvice

great stuff to buy

have you taken a look at our new gearadvice section? if you haven’t, here’s some of what you missed:

what was your favorite tech story during the past week? leave your comments below.


Information

join little green riding hood on her big adventure, track your weight, and put together orca puzzles with today’s collection of apps and games.

all app prices are subject to change at any time and without notice regardless of stated free duration. price changes are solely under the control of the developers.

iphone:

tower of fortune ($0.99 → free, 12.3 mb): a retro-style rpg with a nifty slot machine mechanic. fans of the rpg genre who also enjoy one-button gameplay.

play as a retired hero who is forced to draw his sword once again when his daughter is taken by an unknown power. spin the wheel to battle opponents, earn gold, and obtain special items. the game includes 39 different enemies, 37 types of equipment, 39 combat quests, 12 tavern quests, and three different endings.

tower of fortune is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 3582 ratings.

change – currency converter | foreign exchange rates ($0.99 → free, 40.8 mb): convert currencies in a snap with change. frequent travelers.

change adds a bit of a style to a normally dull app category. you’re able to choose the currencies you’re converting from and to by swiping across the fields at the top of the screen. as you swipe, you’ll see the conversions instantly performed. you’re also able to reorder, activate, and deactivate currencies by tapping on the “+” button at the bottom of the screen. change includes a total of 85 currencies.

change – currency converter | foreign exchange rates is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4-star rating with a total of 30 ratings.

weight tracker for healthkit ($1.99 → free, 21.2 mb): keep track of your weight with weight tracker. those trying to shed some pounds.

weight tracker makes it easy to record and track your weight. it utilizes healthkit to store information, so you’ll have to grant it access before you can start. then every day that you weigh yourself, you can record the results by spinning a dial. the app is also able to calculate bmi and record body fat percentage. weight tracker includes customizable measurement units, precision levels, themes, and notifications.

weight tracker for healthkit is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4-star rating with a total of 14 ratings.

universal:

orca puzzles for kids jigsaw wonder edition ($2.99 → free, 53.1 mb): put together spectacular nature puzzles in orca puzzles. the whole family.

you won’t be able to resist the wonder of this jigsaw puzzle game. each of the 30 jigsaw puzzles features a breathtaking orca photo to reconstruct. the jigsaw puzzles can be broken up into as few as four pieces and as many as 24. you’re also able to choose whether or not you want a colored background and outline hints. what more could you ask for?

orca puzzles for kids jigsaw wonder edition is available for free for a limited time. it has a 5-star rating with a total of 6 ratings.

green riding hood ($2.99 → free, 213.0 mb): join little green riding hood on her big adventure in this interactive storybook. kids of all ages.

green riding hood provides a fun and positive twist on an old tale. it stars little green riding hood, a girl who loves to plant flowers and grow vegetables, along with her grandmother, the town’s yoga instructor. of course, there’s also a big bad wolf who is out to get everyone, but you’ll have to read the story and follow along with the beautiful animations to find out what happens. green riding hood is narrated by alistair findlay, an acclaimed scottish actor.

green riding hood is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 18 ratings.

that concludes today’s issue of apps gone free. if you like staying on top of these daily deals, don’t forget to check out our free appsgonefree app. it provides all the deals each day, and even an archive of past deals that are still active.

developers:

if you are a developer who would like to get your app included in our “apps gone free” daily lists, here’s our basic set of rules:

  • it must have at least a three-star average rating at the time it goes free.
  • the app must not have been free numerous times (3+) over the last six months.
  • the free version of your app must not include ads.

to submit an app, simply send a request to [email protected] with the subject “apps gone free.” please include the name of the app, a link to it in the app store, when and for how long you intend to offer the app for free, and anything else you would like to share. we will take it from there.


Information

amazon is offering the widely popular brother hl-l2380dw wireless monochrome laser printer for just $99.99, a 32 percent discount.

we love this printer so much, we’ve included it in our list of best airprint printers. not only does it print up to 32 pages per minute, but it also includes a built-in 2.7-inch touchscreen, which makes things like going through settings and selecting documents so much easier.

what’s more is that this includes a decent high-quality color scanner built right in. so if you ever feel the need to duplicate a document or maybe just scan in a photo, you can do that.

with a 4.5-star rating from over 1,200 owners, $99.99 for this printer is an incredible deal.


Information

a new website, creatively named blackairpods.store, is claiming that they can give you black airpods for as little as $99.

for just $99 dollars, you can send in your airpods and within about three days (shipping time not included), the company will have complete what they are calling “a three-phase approach” that “yields a luxurious scratch-resistant finish.”

if you don’t have your own pair of airpods, you can buy a pair of black airpods for $249 directly from them. that’s a $90 premium over the cost of airpods directly from apple.

what makes them scratch resistant is still unknown, and the company isn’t really giving out much information. in fact, we have yet to see an actual pair of black airpods done by this proprietary method, but the website claims that “every pair of customized airpods we produce is hand-finished by a team of skilled artisans in brooklyn, ny.”

of course, the idea of black airpods is incredibly attractive, especially if they can actually hold up to everyday abuse.

if you’re willing to take the risk and see if this process is actually legit, head over to the company’s website here. we’ll keep you updated if we hear anything new.


Information

an apple march event will soon be announced where the company will unveil a new ipad pro lineup and other products, according to macotakara.

according to the reputable japanese website, the new ipad pro lineup will include 7.9-inch, 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch, and 12.9-inch models.

the report also says that the iphone se, first announced in march 2016, will see the addition of a 128gb storage option. apple currently offers the 4-inch smartphone with 16gb and 64gb capabilities.

additionally, mid-cycle, the iphone 7 and iphone 7 plus will gain a red color option, while new bands are coming for apple watch.

back in october, macotakara also reported that apple was planning on unveiling four new ipads in 2017. at the time, they said this would include an all-new 10.9-inch ipad pro, which could replace (or join) the current-generation 9.7-inch model. they also said we’d see a “7.9-inch ipad pro” and second-generation 12.9-inch ipad pro.

the latest report suggests apple has elected to unveil a second-generation 9.7-inch ipad pro model this year, along with a 10.5-inch (not 10.9-inch) model.

with regards to the 10.5-inch ipad pro, macotakara says the tablet will ship bezel-free and without a home button. interestingly, this new tablet will use the same footprint as the 9.7-inch ipad pro, retaining a top bezel for the front-facing facetime camera. the bottom bezel will be reduced in size.

reports from digitimes and kgi securities have suggested similar ipad pro lineup rumors.

last year, apple announced a march 21 event on march 10. assuming that apple sticks with a similar timeframe for this year, we should see an official announcement made in the coming weeks.

you can learn more about this year’s ipads and iphones in our updated roundup reports:

are you looking forward to this year’s ipad event?


Information

amazon is offering the popular cozmo robot for just $177, which is just $3 off its all-time low.

the cozmo robot is perhaps one of those most interesting children’s toys we’ve seen in a while. not only does the cozmo have a mind of its own, but it also gets to know you, which makes its moves ever so curious. in fact, we love the cozmo so much, we’ve included it in our educational toys gift guide.

the cozmo doesn’t just move; he gets curious and explores. he doesn’t just learn; he plots and plans. he doesn’t just see you; he gets to know you.

cozmo’s emotions aren’t random. they’re real and felt by everyone in the room. from curious to clever, persistent to playful, he has a personality and it’s super cool.

want to learn more? check out the video above. if you have kids and you’ve been looking for super super cool, the cozmo ranks up there as one of the best things you can get.


Information

those $130 snapchat spectacles you heard about last fall are getting easier to purchase. you can now buy a pair via the snap online store, although new orders aren’t being delivered for two to four weeks.

available exclusively for the snapchat app, spectacles feature an integrated video camera designed to capture a full day worth of video on a single charge. recordings, called snaps, are limited to 10 seconds each.

with the ability to capture video with an 115-degree field of view, snapchat spectacles use wi-fi or bluetooth to connect to the snapchat app. when recording, light on the exterior of the spectacles illuminate to show others that you are capturing video.

until now, spectacles were only available for purchase through pop-up stores. now, anyone in the united states can buy them online. spectacles are available in black, teal, and coral.

the arrival of online snapchat spectacles orders come just days after snap, inc., snapchat’s parent company, announced plans to go public.

are you planning on buying a pair of spectacles? let us know using the comments below. 


Information

apple will announce the company’s latest iphone lineup in september or october. this year’s offerings are likely to be significant because 2017 is the 10th anniversary of the first iphone, which was launched in june 2007. here are the latest iphone 8 rumors. come back often for updates.

one year, four new iphones?

last updated feb. 20, 2017

for the first time in history, apple could announce four new iphones at the same time.

“iphone 8”

first among these could be a 5.8-inch iphone 8 model featuring an oled display. according to kgi securities analyst ming-chi kuo, this model will include an “active screen area” of between 5.1 and 5.2-inches.

key components, rumors:

parts for the iphone 8 could be manufactured in the united states. apple is said to have bypassed usual supplier foxconn and placed orders for forged stainless steel iphone casings from u.s.-based jabil.

on jan. 18, timothy arcuri of cowen and company told investors that the 5.8-inch oled iphone model could feature a “wraparound” screen design. this display could utilize a “fixed flex” screen.

on feb. 13, the korea herald said that samsung has signed a deal with apple to make 160 million oled panels for the next-generation iphone.

latest iphone 8 mockups:

"iphone 7s" and "iphone 7s plus"

apple typically releases “s” iphone models in odd years. this naming convention should continue with the release of the “iphone 7s” and “iphone 7s plus” in 2017. because of the simultaneous release of the iphone 8, however, these handsets will play a less significant role than past “s” models.

the 4.7-inch iphone 7s and 5.5-inch iphone 7s plus are expected to be very similar to the current-generation models and feature aluminum bodies. the only visible change: apple might introduce a red version to go along with the current space gray, jet black, gold, rose gold, and silver options.

cowen suggested the new 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models could also include oled displays, depending on samsung’s ability to supply the screens to apple. all models could also feature wireless charging.

5-inch 2017 iphone model

in late december 2016, the rumor mill suggested that apple was also prepping a new 5-inch iphone. this handset could have identical specifications to the 2017 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iphones. unlike the other two, however, this model may feature a vertically-designed camera.

back in october 2016, nikkei asian review said a 5-inch iphone for iphone 7 was a possibility.

more iphone 8 rumors/key dates

we’ll be updating this post as we get closer to the 2017 iphone release date(s). each time there’s an update, we’ll let you know on the front page of the site.

key dates:

  • june 5: wwdc 2017 kicks off with introduction of “ios 11.”
  • early september: new iphones announced

 


Information

many apple enthusiasts are faithful to the apple brand and would never buy “fake” apple watch bands. i understand that; apple’s quality is top-notch, and they stand behind their products with excellent customer service. however, i know that some of you do want the apple look, but desire a good quality, lower-priced alternative to apple’s bands. this article is for you.

i’ve seen many articles that compile internet reviews of cheaper copies of apple watch bands, but none in which the writer has tried out all of the bands. since i have been lucky enough to receive a number of bands as a reviewer for appadvice and watchaware, and i bought some myself, i have a lot of bands. i thought i’d put all of my favorite apple copycat bands in one article for readers to peruse.

the sport band

apple’s $49 sport band isn’t all that expensive to begin with, but for people who want a variety of colors to suit their wardrobes, the cost can add up quickly. while the first knock-offs were pretty bad, the sport band copycat market has gotten better in the year since initial release. there are plenty of duds out there, and i’ve bought some, but i’ve also found one that is practically indistinguishable from apple’s sport band.

the lnkoo band on amazon is my favorite of all the sport-style bands i’ve tried. it mimics the smooth, solid feel of apple’s fluoroelastomer band and the subtle grayed lavender shade apple created. it fits into the watch well, and the attachment mechanism has gotten smoother with wear, not rougher as i said i feared in my initial review. it comes in 15 colors, both 38mm and 42mm sizes, and costs just $9.98. one thing to note: this band ships only with the s/m band. if you need the larger band, then keep reading.

another knock-off i like is this one from ebay. it’s thinner and floppier than apple’s, and the colors lack apple’s subtlety, but the quality is good. both s/m and m/l sizes are offered. you can read more about the rest of my sporty band collection here.

classic buckle

i’ve reviewed a few classic-style leather bands, none of which are exact replicas of apple’s $149 classic buckle. here are the closest duplicates in my collection.

the best of the bunch is unsurprisingly the most expensive; quality leather isn’t cheap. lucrin’s apple watch bands are more expensive than apple’s classic buckle. but i love these gorgeous bands and the wide array of colors from which to choose; there are 28 colors and up to four different leather grains. prices start at $166.63.

two far cheaper alternatives that i also like are from makergrafix and jisoncase. the makergrafix leather is a bit stiff, but the band is still attractive and comfortable to wear. what stands out about the makergrafix band is the customization. you can have your band engraved on the inside with the logo or characters of your choice. makergrafix bands are $49.99 and come in black, brown, red, and white.

the jisoncase band was the cheapest i reviewed; it’s soft, comfortable, and it looks good. if you just want a simple knock-off, and you don’t want to spend a lot, this is the one. quality-wise it’s good, except for a missing stitch. one missing stitch can multiply over time. the jisoncase bands come in a few different colors starting at $21.99.

leather loop

i’ve had the opportunity to review two leather loop knock-offs from different companies, and one of them was so bad that i declined to review it. the one i do like is from the bizarrely named ouluoqi.

while apple’s $149 leather loop is constructed from real leather, ouluoqi’s replica is not. still, for so much less money, it’s quite a nice band. it fits beautifully. it’s soft and comfortable to wear. the magnet is strong, and i have experienced no band slippage or false haptic tapping while wearing it.

you’ll know the difference if you compare the ouluoqi and apple band right next to each other, but when it’s on your wrist, very few people will notice the difference. in the comparison photo below, the apple band is the darker band on top.

ouluoqi bands are available in both the 42mm and 38mm size, unlike apple’s. you can purchase them on amazon in red, navy, black, gray, and white for $28.99.

milanese loop

apple’s $149 milanese loop is a popular choice; it’s neutral, a bit dressy, and not terribly expensive. but the knock-offs are far cheaper, and often look just like the original. as far as i can tell from what i’ve read and what i’ve experienced myself, the big drawback to every copy on the market is that the magnet is not shielded as well as it is on apple’s. in other words, your wrist is going to stick to metal objects from time to time. i don’t find it to be a huge issue, but if that’s going to bother you, stick with the real deal.

two separate bands i received from different sellers were unworthy of review, as the adapters did not properly fit the watch or the bands did not lock into place. i won’t review a watch band that i feel endangers the apple watch.

i did receive a third one from amazon seller marge plus, which i like very much. i wear this band frequently, as it’s both comfortable and beautiful. i had planned on recommending it in this article, but when i went to check the links, i found that the seller has removed the item from amazon since i wrote the original review. if it comes back, know that it’s a great option in several colors, starting at just $15.99.

i had the opportunity to review another milanese-style band, this one from moko. the adapters aren’t the smoothest, but they fit securely. i got the band in the shade called colorful, which catches the light and appears different colors at different angles. i love this band. not everyone will want such a rainbow-colored band, but it comes in many shades, including the typical ones. moko’s milanese loop is $19.99 on amazon.

link bracelet

when apple first released the $449 link bracelet, the third-party market was quick to release copies. however, these early replicas were pretty shoddy, by most accounts. unlike apple’s push-button link removal system, you needed a tool and some jewelry repair skills to adjust these link bracelets to fit. many early buyers took their bracelets to a jeweler to have them adjusted to fit. additionally, the clasp was not even close to apple’s elegant butterfly clasp, and it jabbed user’s wrists.

i got in on the so-called “fourth generation” of link bracelet replicas with this band from ouluoqi. this means that i was able to remove the extra links easily with a push-button mechanism just like apple’s. the butterfly clasp operates like the genuine apple one and lays flush against my wrist without poking me.

this link bracelet copy is close to the real deal. it’s a slightly darker shade of silver, as you can see in the photos below that picture the ouluoqi band on the left and apple on the right. the links have tiny gaps between them. as i continued to wear it after writing my initial review, it got more and more comfortable. if you don’t mind the small gaps, this is a worthy substitute for the apple link bracelet. it’s available on amazon in black or silver for the 38mm or 42mm watch.

double tour

when apple and hermès first announced their partnership, the only way you could get an hermès band was to buy the special hermès apple watch. now, you can purchase the genuine hermès bands on their own, including the double tour band for $490.

but well before that, lucrin released its own version of the double tour band. it’s not cheap, of course, and i hesitate to use the word “knock-off” at all. this is a luxurious watch band.

like the classic lucrin band, the double tour comes in 28 colors and up to four different leather grains. unlike some of the far cheaper replicas i’ve read about, lucrin’s double tour band is comfortable to wear and the second wrap has never slipped under the watch on me. once i put it on, it needs no adjustment throughout the day.

i had reviewed the lucrin band before the hermès band was available for purchase on its own. lucrin’s band still ends up being cheaper than the hermès, starting at $244. you get high quality without paying for the hermès name.

conclusion

there are a lot of third-party apple watch bands on the market, with huge variations in quality and price. while there are a lot of shoddy copies, there are also some fabulous bands worth their cost. hopefully this compilation has given you some options to check out.

if you want to check out a larger collection of our favorite apple watch bands, check out our guide on watchaware.


Information

apple’s ios 10.3 continues to march toward a general release. exactly two weeks after the previous version, apple has just released ios 10.3 beta 3 to registered developers. it can be downloaded over-the-air or through apple’s developer center.

find my airpods

the major addition in the update should be music to any airpods owners ears. the find my iphone app has been updated to allow users to track down a lost airpod by reporting each earbuds last known location. if in range, you can also have each earbud play a sound to help locate it, much like numerous bluetooth trackers on the market.

we’ll update you if we find any other notable features.

apple also released the third beta version of watchos 3.2 and tvos 10.2 to developers.

the watch software sports two major new features – theater mode and sirikit.

with theater mode, users can mute the sound on their watch and disable waking the screen when they raise their wrist. they’ll still be able to receive notifications with haptics. those can be viewed by tapping the screen or pressing the digital crown.

sirikit will allow users to accomplish tasks like book a ride, send a message, make a payment, or make other requests to an app. the functionality arrived on the iphone and ipad in ios 10.

all of the software should officially arrive to the public this spring, possibly coinciding with a rumored march apple event that could see a whole new lineup of ipads, a red iphone 7, and more.


Information

go on the hunt for pirate treasure, monitor your data usage, and get a good look at the time with today’s collection of apps and games.

all app prices are subject to change at any time and without notice regardless of stated free duration. price changes are solely under the control of the developers.

iphone:

treasure seekers: visions of gold (full) ($2.99 → free, 143.7 mb): help nelly and her younger brother unravel family secrets in treasure seekers: visions of gold. fans of hidden objects games.

nelly’s grandmother was a pirate who hid her treasure long, long ago. nelly has always dreamed of finding the treasure, so when her parents leave her and her brother at home for the day, she realizes this is her one chance to go on a big adventure. the game includes more than 40 levels in seven locations, 19 puzzles, and game center support.

treasure seekers: visions of gold (full) is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 725 ratings.

universal:

big clock – alarm and weather ($0.99 → free, 11.4 mb): turn your idevice into a bedside alarm clock with big clock. those who keep their idevice nearby at night.

with big clock, there will be no more squinting. no matter if you place your idevice in portrait or landscape orientation, you’ll get to see big clock numbers. the app is also able to display the date if you wish. big clock features a fully customizable alarm clock, allowing you to set music from your library as your alarm, set a time between snooze button hits, and set a maximum number of snooze button hits. a weather widget is available via in-app purchase, but you can give it a one month test run free of charge.

big clock – alarm and weather is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4-star rating with a total of 40 ratings.

aureus ($2.99 → free, 55.2 mb): match elements to produce gold in aureus.it’s ideal for anyone who wants to work on their memorization skills. anyone who wants to work on their memorization skills.

take a good look at the board while it is lit up because the lights will go out! you must then match elements to create electrical currents that will briefly illuminate the board, disintegrate the elements, and turn them into gold. while the board is briefly illuminated from creating a match, you will have another chance at seeing where elements are located and how they’re aligned. if you wind up not getting a good enough look, you can use a hint. the game includes three modes, loads of ways to upgrade your gold producing machine, and achievements and leaderboards via game center.

aureus is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 50 ratings.

databit – monitor internet usage ($1.99 → free, 14.2 mb): avoid nasty overages with databit. anyone with a limited data plan.

start off by entering your data plan limit and billing period. then let databit start monitoring your usage. you’re able to keep tabs on your data usage via the app itself, a widget, or apple watch. databit also allows you to enter current usage to calibrate the app, and it’s able to track lte, 4g, and 3g usage.

databit – monitor internet usage is available for free for a limited time. it has a 5-star rating with a total of 13 ratings.

little food truck ($2.99 → free, 18.2 mb): an interactive entertainment app that allows your child to manage their own little food truck. parents who are in need of a new way to keep their children entertained.

little food truck is certified child friendly. you won’t find any outside links or in-app purchases here. just pure entertainment. your child must choose from four different characters before hitting the streets to dish up tasty treats. when the window opens, it’s time to serve. your child will be tasked with completing orders for picky customers and unlocking new menu items with the money earned. everything from donuts and waffles to chicken wings and hot dogs will need to be served.

little food truck is available for free for a limited time. it has a 5-star rating with a total of 6 ratings.

ipad:

treasure seekers: visions of gold hd (full) ($4.99 → free, 136.3 mb): help nelly and her younger brother unravel family secrets in treasure seekers: visions of gold. fans of hidden objects games.

nelly’s grandmother was a pirate who hid her treasure long, long ago. nelly has always dreamed of finding the treasure, so when her parents leave her and her brother at home for the day, she realizes this is her one chance to go on a big adventure. the game includes more than 40 levels in seven locations, 19 puzzles, and game center support.

treasure seekers: visions of gold hd (full) is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4-star rating with a total of 1598 ratings.

that concludes today’s issue of apps gone free. if you like staying on top of these daily deals, don’t forget to check out our free appsgonefree app. it provides all the deals each day, and even an archive of past deals that are still active.

developers:

if you are a developer who would like to get your app included in our “apps gone free” daily lists, here’s our basic set of rules:

  • it must have at least a three-star average rating at the time it goes free.
  • the app must not have been free numerous times (3+) over the last six months.
  • the free version of your app must not include ads.

to submit an app, simply send a request to [email protected] with the subject “apps gone free.” please include the name of the app, a link to it in the app store, when and for how long you intend to offer the app for free, and anything else you would like to share. we will take it from there.


Information

today, we’re proud to introduce a new part of appadvice that we’re calling gearadvice. what is it exactly? put simply, it’s everything to do with physical hardware and gadgets under one roof.

introducing gearadvice

gearadvice is your one-stop shop for finding four major things as they related to products. those things are:

  1. daily gadget deals
  2. the best gadget
  3. gadget reviews
  4. gadget guides

daily deals

daily deals is pretty straight forward. each day we’ll surface 3-6 great deals that we think, you, our readers would love. some require coupons, others do not. but each one of them is something that we not only like, but we also would recommend to our family and friends. you won’t find us linking to a deal for a crappy product.

to see some of our latest finds, head over to the top section of gearadvice.

gadget reviews

gadget reviews are products that we’ve had the opportunity to play with and offer our honest opinion on. the goal of gadget reviews is to make sure you understand what the value of a particular product is, why it would be of benefit to you and where you can get it. put another way, we want to make sure our gadget reviews are as helpful and informative as possible so you understand why that particular product exists.

the best gadgets

the best gadgets is without question the part of gearadvice that is the most comprehensive. the aim is to deeply research and find out what the best product is for a particular category. these articles will take an immense amount of time to put together, but in the end, will serve as a way for you to know that whatever product we’re recommending is truly the one that we think is the best for the job.

here are a couple we’ve already put together:

gadget guides

our gadgets guides are a curated collection of great products catered towards a particular type of person. looking for the best photography accessories? we’ve got you covered. need to know which are the best accessories for your ipad? no problemo. each of the products in these guides is hand-picked and we’re constantly updating them so be on the lookout for updates.

think of the gadget guides as us taking everything we know as it pertains to a category and collecting them all in one place for you to easily browse. pretty cool, right?

gearadvice giveaway

as part of our “grand opening,” we’re giving away over $3,000 in physical prizes. yes, just like we gave away a pair of airpods, we plan to give away some amazing, truly loved products. here are just a few of the big ticket items you can expect to be given away:

there’s more where that came from in addition to other things such as bags, cables, cases, apple watch bands and more. what do you have to do to be eligible? you’ll find out soon, but the fastest way to find out about these giveaways is to follow @gearadvice on twitter. that’s not only where you’ll find out about these giveaways first, but it’s also where the winners will be announced.


Information

at last count, i’ve amassed more than 35,000 images in my icloud photo library. you name it, i’ve photographed it – holidays, births, babies, parties, jeeps, dogs, and much more. i can bring up all those memories in just a few clicks on my iphone, ipad, and mac.

but i’m actually old enough to remember a time where instead of whipping out an iphone to capture an photo, you could just use a polaroid or other instant camera. after taking the photo, it would quickly print out, and after a bit of shaking, you could marvel at the image.

the $129.99 prynt is looking to bring some of that magical charm to the modern age with an iphone printer that can also act as a case.

anyone with a modern iphone can take advantage of the case. there are three different versions available for the iphone 5/5s/se, iphone 6/6s/7, and iphone 6 plus/6s plus/7 plus. buyers can select from one of four different colors – black, white, blue, and pink.

helping out that retro charm, prynt is shaped to look like an actual camera (remember those?) with a textured grip and power button on the right side. the bottom of the case houses the micro-usb plug that can be used to charge the built-in battery that can be used for up to 20 prints before needing to be recharged.

the 2×3-inch prints exit on the left side while the right side features the button needed to extend the phone adapter.

paper, please

before inserting the phone, you’ll need to make sure that the printer is loaded with paper. prynt includes a starter pack of 10 sheets of paper with the case. you’ll need to flip open the paper hatch and insert the paper.

the special zink paper requires no ink and just needs a single pass on the prynt case. ironically, started out of polaroid itself, the company’s paper is activated by special thermal technology.

prynt says that the zink technology provides long lasting prints that won’t tear or smudge after being printed. and the prints do seem like they will hold up with time.

as a cool bonus, each print can also be turned into a sticker by simply peeling off the adhesive back from each photo. that feature was easily a big hit at my house. my 9-year-old daughter was quickly asking for me to print particular photos so she could use the stickers on her folders and other school accessories.

but there are two significant downsides – print cost and quality. while you can snag a 40-pack or 50-pack of paper from amazon, each print is still a gulp-inducing $.50 each. so printing out photos for the whole family could quickly turn into a costly affair.

one interesting option, if you’re looking to lower that cost, is prynt’s subscription service for paper. every month, you can receive 20 sheets of paper for $7.99. shipping is free, and when you subscribe, the first month’s allotment is free. with that option, each print is $.40 each.

and don’t expect the prints themselves to be anywhere near perfect. in my testing, lighter areas of photos were usually blown out own and darker parts were difficult to see in the final product. there were also a number of areas with somewhat noticeable streaks and other artifacts. for me, that added to the old-school charm of the system itself, but some might not feel that way.

even so, there’s an extra-added augmented reality feature we’ll look at in a bit that more than makes up for that issue.

print time

after downloading the companion app, it’s time to insert an iphone into the adapter and get started. with the built-in lightning plug, there’s no need to use bluetooth or wi-fi. just push the silver power button on the top of the case to connect.

along with being able to import any existing photos from your library, prynt can even be used to snap pictures. just press the silver power button, and the photo will appear in the app ready to edit or print. you can also snap photos with the app even if the case isn’t connected.

the star of the show is easily the ability to embed a short video in each print. when your iphone is plugged into the case, pressing the silver power button will both snap a picture and record a short video. you can also add up to a 10-second video from any photo library.

thanks to a hidden qr code printed on each photo, just head to the scan section of the app. it will automatically read the code and then play the video securely stored in the cloud. as long as you’ve downloaded the app, you can play the video, even if you don’t own the case.

while with a recent app update, users aren’t required to add a video before printing a photo, but it’s definitely the standout feature and something you’ll want to do to show off prynt.

before you actually print, there are a number of different editing options found in the usual photo app. anyone connected in the adobe ecosystem should be glad to know that you can sign in or create an account to sync photo editing supplies to creative cloud. there are a boatload of different filters along with the ability to draw on the image, add text, and even create your own meme.

you can barely tell that a photo is being printed, and it just takes around 30 seconds.

for those less technologically advanced friends and relatives, you can even send a real 4×6 print of any image for free through the old-fashioned postal service. there doesn’t seem to be any limit, and it’s a fun way to share creations.

using as a case

to allow users to actually snap photos while using the case, the top end of your iphone will stick out on the left side. there’s a spot for a wrist strap near the power button, but one isn’t included.

surprisingly, the case itself is lighter than you would think with the complete package – including an iphone – weighs in at around 1 pound.

i wouldn’t exactly think of using prynt as a day-to-day case because of its bulk and the fact that it uses the lightning port on an iphone. but if i was attending an event where i knew printing photos would come in handy, being able to carry a printer/phone combination would definitely be a practical idea.

final thoughts

if you’re looking for a compact, run-of-the-mill photo printer that can produce inkjet quality photos then prynt isn’t for you. but if you like the idea quickly printing out fun keepsakes of special moments – with an awesome twist – the case is something to consider.


Information

the release of “the lego batman movie” marks something of a milestone for siri: apple’s intelligent personal assistant has made its feature-film debut. that’s right. siri has taken on a movie role, and that role is none other than the cheeky computer system used by the title character in the aforementioned 3-d computer-animated superhero comedy film. but siri is actually no stranger to cinema, since it’s long been helping ios device users with movie-related stuff and even offering a movie-related joke or two every now and then. in this article, we’ll highlight a few of the best siri movie easter eggs along with some of the things that you can ask siri to satisfy your film cravings.

lights, camera, information

siri has access to a database of movie information so comprehensive that you can ask it about certain aspects of films, including principal actors, director, plot synopsis, running time, and age rating. consequently, you can ask siri questions like the following:

  • who starred in the perks of being a wallflower?
  • who directed manchester by the sea?
  • what is the movie hidden figures about?
  • how long is rogue one: a star wars story?
  • what is the age rating of sausage party?

actors, directors and more

several of the aforementioned film aspects also count as categories from which you can ask siri for recommendations or suggestions. you can even throw in queries relating to movie genres, production companies, and 3-d releases. here are some things you can ask siri:

  • show me movies starring amy adams
  • movies directed by denis villenueve
  • movies rated pg
  • show me comedy movies
  • show me movies from pixar
  • show me 3-d movies

siri, what’s that movie with …

did you know that you can also ask siri to identify movies that meet certain parameters across different categories? this is especially useful if you’re thinking about that movie where an actor appears with another actor — or even that movie that stars a particular set of actors. try asking siri these:

  • what’s that movie with amy adams and clint eastwood?
  • what’s that movie starring amy adams, christian bale, and jennifer lawrence?
  • movies starring jennifer lawrence and bradley cooper
  • sci-fi movie starring amy adams and directed by denis villeneuve
  • g-rated movies starring seth rogen
  • 3-d movies directed by robert zemeckis

trailers and soundtracks

of course, watching the trailer is still one of the best ways to find out more about a movie. and siri has long been able to help you with that. just tell siri something like, “show me the trailer for gone girl” (or “show me the trailer for gone girl directed by david fincher,” if you want to be more specific), and the trailer will play shortly.

if you’re subscribed to apple music, you can also ask siri to play the score or soundtrack album of a particular movie, e.g. “play the soundtrack of harry potter and the chamber of secrets.”

tip: when the title of a movie you’re asking about is similar to the titles of other movies, siri will show you options and ask you to choose the one you mean. to bypass this, you might want to be more specific with your query in the first place by mentioning the year of release, the actor, or the director.

fresh or rotten?

can’t decide whether to see a particular movie or not? then perhaps you’d like to know what professional critics think about it. in that case, just ask siri something like, “show me the reviews for finding dory,” “how are the ratings for kubo and the two strings?” or “do people like john wick chapter 2?” and siri will serve the movie’s “freshness” percentage along with a sampling of blurbs from the popular movie review aggregation service rotten tomatoes.

tip: ask siri, “can you recommend a movie?” and it will show some films with a perfect rotten tomatoes score of 100 percent.

fantastic films and where to watch them

if a movie you want to watch has been out for quite some time, chances are you can already buy or rent it on itunes. just tell siri something like, “i want to buy revolutionary road on itunes,” or simply ask siri anything that will prompt it to show the info card for the movie you want, and then tap the buy or rent button.

if you’re looking to watch something that’s still fairly new or is otherwise showing in theaters, siri is more than capable of assisting you on that front, with location-based queries such as:

  • find some movie theaters near me
  • what’s playing at the movies tomorrow?
  • what’s playing at arclight hollywood?
  • what movies are playing today?
  • are there any 3-d movies playing around here?
  • where is split playing around here?

ready to get tickets?

so you really want to escape from the real world and into the reel world by spending about a couple of hours in a dark room with a bright wall? well, you can skip the line at the box office and have siri purchase tickets in advance for you instead.

first things first: siri’s movie ticketing feature is powered by fandango and requires the official ios app of the popular movie ticketing company, which you can download from the app store for free.

with the fandango app on your ios device, you can simply say something like, “buy two tickets to see the great wall tonight in la,” “three tickets to see la la land,” or “four tickets to see zootopia at the city theater at 8 p.m.,” and tap to make your selection and complete your booking in the fandango app. you can also initiate movie ticketing by tapping a theater with showtimes in siri’s info card for a movie.

once purchased, your movie tickets will be stored in the wallet app, which you can then open to show your tickets when you arrive at the theater.

and the oscar went to …

siri is also something of an oscars history buff, and you can ask it to list and identify movies that won the major academy award categories of best picture, actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, and director. here are some examples of questions you can ask oscar-loving siri:

  • movies that won best picture
  • movies that won best actor
  • movies that won best actress
  • movies that won best supporting actor
  • movies that won best supporting actress
  • movies that won best director
  • what movie won best picture in 2008?
  • who won best actor in 1936?
  • who won best actress in 1985?
  • who won best supporting actor in 2001?
  • who won best supporting actress in 1999?
  • who won best director in 2014?

note: in response to questions that ask about actors, actresses, and directors, siri identifies only the movies for which they won and not the individuals themselves.

fun with siri at the movies

for several years now, siri has been responding with tongue-in-cheek plot synopses when asked to tell something about certain sci-fi films, including “star wars,” “alien,” “blade runner,” “the terminator,” “the matrix,” “star trek,” and “inception.” just ask siri about any of these movies and prepare for its witty answer.

what’s more, siri has a catalog of comebacks when asked to “open the pod bay doors,” the pivotal command given to and opposed by the sentient computer hal in the classic epic sci-fi film “2001: a space odyssey.”

siri also has a variety of answers to the question, “what do my pets do when i’m not at home?,” which alludes to the animated film “the secret life of pets,” the november 2016 home video release of which marked siri’s first promotional tie-in.

and then there’s “the lego batman movie.” in honor of its feature-film debut, siri has been programmed to respond jokingly to “hey, computer” or “hey, ‘puter,” which is how lego batman (voiced by will arnett) addresses the virtual assistant in the film. siri also has some pretty funny things to say when asked, “hey, ‘puter, are you in the lego batman movie?

we hope you enjoy these siri movie easter eggs and film-related tips and tricks. if you have more to share, please do so in the comments section below.


Information

to celebrate the second birthday of alto’s adventure, developer snowman is giving everyone two great gifts – including a first look at the followup alto’s odyssey.

a new locale

while it was officially announced in late 2016, we’re getting our first look at the gameplay in the teaser trailer. it looks as if alto will be headed to the desert when the game arrives this summer.

to continue the celebration, alto’s adventure is on sale now for $1.99, $3 off its usual price tag through tuesday.

the game is universal and designed for the iphone/ipod touch, all ipad models, and the apple tv. if you haven’t checked it out, now is the time to do it while the game is on sale. the beautiful visuals, great music, and challenging gameplay is well worth the cost and still one of the best casual games available for apple devices.

where cards fall

and snowman is keep busy as it is collaborating with the the game band to produce house of cards.

landing this fall for the iphone, ipad, apple tv, mac, and pc, the game is described as a coming of age story. gamers will need to build numerous house of cards using puzzles that will help bring memories of adolescence to life.

a teaser trailer for that game was released last week.


Information

apple’s ios 10.3 continues to march toward a general release. exactly two weeks after the previous version, apple has just released ios 10.3 beta 3 to registered developers. it can be downloaded over-the-air or through apple’s developer center.

find my airpods

the major addition in the update should be music to any airpods owners ears. the find my iphone app has been updated to allow users to track down a lost airpod by reporting each earbuds last known location.

if in range, you can also have each earbud play a sound to help locate it, much like numerous bluetooth trackers on the market.

an interesting new feature in this beta version is an app compatibility section. found by heading to settings, general, about and then selecting applications. users will be shown any apps that might not be compatible with future version of ios.

a similar dialog box was added by apple in the first beta version of ios 10.3. it appears when the 32-bit apps are opened.

these changes open up the possibility that starting with ios 11, any 32-bit apps will no longer be functional. starting in february 2015, apple required that all submitted apps offer 64-bit support.

new watchos, tvos betas as well

apple also released the third beta version of watchos 3.2 and tvos 10.2 to developers.

the watch software sports two major new features – theater mode and sirikit.

with theater mode, users can mute the sound on their watch and disable waking the screen when they raise their wrist. they’ll still be able to receive notifications with haptics. those can be viewed by tapping the screen or pressing the digital crown.

sirikit will allow users to accomplish tasks like book a ride, send a message, make a payment, or make other requests to an app. the functionality arrived on the iphone and ipad in ios 10.

all of the software should officially arrive to the public this spring, possibly coinciding with a rumored march apple event that could see a whole new lineup of ipads, a red iphone 7, and more.


Information

amazon is offering the ravpower 22000mah external battery for $29.99 as part of its gold box deal of the day. this is a 70 percent discount from its original price and the lowest price ever for this item.

if you’re someone who wants a massive battery to recharge devices such as your iphone and ipad multiple times and you don’t mind the lack of ultra-portability, this external battery charger might be your best bet.

this external battery charger is so powerful it can charge your iphone 7 about 8 times before it needs to juiced back up again. it’s great for the road warrior or someone who plans on being away from a wall charger for a few days. it comes with three usb ports, each capable of putting out 2.4a per port, which means you can effectively charge your devices at full speed.

personally speaking, i think every household should have one of these big battery chargers in case of an emergency. with winter already in full effect, there might be some places where power might go down from time to time. with an external battery charger as large as this one, you won’t have to worry about not having enough power to use your favorite ios devices.


Information

hidden folks by adriaan de jongh icon

hidden folks ($3.99) by adriaan de jongh and sylvian tegroeg is a modern day “where’s waldo?” that is designed for mobile devices. if you love a good hidden object game like where’s my geek?, then you will get a kick out of hidden folks.

as i was growing up, i remember “where’s waldo?” being quite popular, though i didn’t get into it too much. but when i did go through some waldo books at school or even friends’ houses, i did find it pretty fun and enjoyable to scan the pictures in my sometimes futile attempts to find waldo. even if you don’t find him, checking out every inch and detail of a picture is a great way to pass the time and it makes you appreciate things even more. normally i don’t actively look for hidden object video games, but i’ve been hearing a lot of good things about hidden folks over the past few days, so it became something that i knew i had to check out for myself, even though it’s not my usual cup of tea. i’m glad i decided to give it a try, though, because it does not disappoint.

hidden folks has a unique art style that is completely hand drawn and animated, so it looks fantastic and is especially sharp and crisp on retina screens. the cartoonish aesthetic is perfect considering the nature of the game, and the developers and artists made sure to spare no detail, because there are even shadows and other textures that are represented by small black dots. even though the landscapes can be rather small and cramped with a ton of various people and things, there are fine and intricate details woven throughout the image that make it full of life. by default, hidden folks uses a white background with black ink for the drawings, but there are two other color options available through the settings: sepia (beige background and black ink) and night mode (black background and white ink). since the landscapes come to life with bouncy movements from all living creatures that are in the level, all animations in hidden folks are smooth and fluid, so i experienced no lag on my iphone 7. there is even haptic feedback for those who are using an iphone 7 or 7 plus, which is nice to have when you’re scrolling through the things that you must find in the scene. as far as music goes, there isn’t much of a soundtrack in the background, but hidden folks is jam packed with plenty of realistic background noises and the sound effects of things when you interact with them is fun and charming.

like many games before it, hidden folks is level-based and players must progress through the game in a fairly linear fashion. at the moment, there are four different types of environments that you can explore, and each section contains two to five stages of hidden object goodness. from the level select screen, you’re able to see your progress on a stage through the circle that is underneath it — if there’s a lock, it’s currently unaccessible until you meet the requirement threshold, a circle partly filled in means that’s how far you are in that stage, and a completely filled in circle means you’ve cleared that level. for each scene, you’ll have to find a certain number of objects in the environment before the next level becomes accessible to you, but if you’re a completionist, you can go back and find all of the hidden items if you so desire. while some of them are easy to find, others won’t be, and when that happens, it’s best to tap around and interact with everything you can, because some of them are just hiding better than others.

hidden folks by adriaan de jongh screenshot

the controls in hidden folks are pretty straightforward and intuitive, given the type of game that it is. along the bottom is a scrollable ribbon of the objects that you must find in the scene. just swipe your finger left and right along it to see a description of the thing you must find. you can pan around the scene by dragging your finger around the screen, and tapping on the landscape lets you interact with various things, such as cutting through leaves and bushes, opening and slamming doors, and poke different people and animals. once you find a target, it gets highlighted with a circle and tells you the name of what it was, and then it gets checked off from the ribbon. the end of the ribbon informs you of the remaining number of targets you have to find before unlocking the next area, but finding all of the targets on a scene is entirely up to you.

i am taking my time with hidden folks since diving into it this weekend, and as someone who doesn’t normally get into hidden object games, i’ve been thoroughly enjoying it. the hand-drawn visuals are done incredibly well, the sound effects are original, fun, and charming, and the controls are designed for touch screens, making this a perfect modern age “where’s waldo?” kind of game. having the three different color mode options is much appreciated as well, since the default option can be blinding if you’re trying to play before bed. all-in-all, hidden folks is a wonderful hidden object game that is suitable for everyone and worth checking out.

hidden folks is available on the app store as a universal download for your iphone, ipad, and apple tv for just $3.99. there is also an imessage sticker pack that is included with the download.


Information

the upcoming ‘iphone 8’ will feature a “revolutionary” front-facing camera with an infrared module, allowing it to sense the 3d space in front of it, according to kgi analyst ming-chi kuo (via 9to5mac).

according to the analyst, the new components could have many uses, including face recognition, iris recognition, and 3d selfies.

the analyst says the advanced 3d front camera system could be used in new innovative games that can accurately replace a character’s head with that of the user. the combination of front camera and 3d sensor would allow the iphone to generate a 3d selfie which could be used in augmented reality.

last week, jpmorgan analyst rod hall reported that the iphone 8 will feature a 3d laser for some type of facial recognition technology.

as brent dirks reported:

hall’s information lines up with another recent analyst note that indicated the new iphone will completely remove the home button and touch id sensor and instead provide a “function area.” that will allow the handset to sport an edge-to-edge display with no bezels.

apple’s expected to unveil at least three new iphone models in september. the most anticipated of these, the so-called iphone 8, is expected to include a new design with a 5.8-inch oled display. the other two models, the “iphone 7s” and “iphone 7s plus” are expected to retain the look found on the current iphone models.

see our iphone roundup for all the latest rumors on apple’s next handset.


Information

if you’ve been playing it, prepare to spend a lot more time on it. if not, then prepare to meet what might very well be your new favorite time-sinker. i’m referring to mu origin, the popular free-to-play real-time dark-fantasy mobile mmorpg developed by site sponsor webzen, which has just received a huge update that introduces a number of significant features and enhancements.

the latest update to mu origin brings a new title system, which allows you to upgrade your character beyond its limits while the title is equipped. it also includes a new name change system, which lets you set a new name that matches your companion’s or that otherwise suits your guild. there’s also a new story dungeon called treasure cave. and then there’s a new endless tower, which means more floors of monsters for you to conquer.

but those aren’t even the biggest additions to mu origin. on the contrary, the game’s new update also sees the arrival of the server arena, muren’s book, the specialty system, and the guardian soul feature.

the new version of mu origin is available now on the app store.

download it now and log in to get a superior fame badge and other special rewards. beyond those, in celebration of the update, webzen will be hosting various in-game events from today, feb. 21, through tuesday,  feb. 28.


Information

need a gift but don’t want to break the bank? we’ve put together a collection of cool gifts that we would happily recommend to a family member or a friend. every single one of these gifts comes in under $30, which means you can skip the gift card and actually get something cool for once.


Information

are the audeze isine 10 headphones for you?

until recently, planar magnetic headphones have been out of reach for most consumers because of the price. the market is starting to change, however, with companies like boutique audiophile brand audeze now introducing lower-priced products that utilize the technology.

last year, i reviewed the on-ear audeze sine, which i consider one of the best headphones currently on the market. recently, i had the opportunity to try one of audeze’s newest in-ear headphones, the isine 10.

are these exciting new headphones worth the price of admission? it’s time to find out.

audeze's isine10

unlike traditional dynamic headphones, which use moving coil drivers, planar magnetic headphones spread the voice coil over a large area. in the case of the isine 10, the voice coil measures 16 ohms. as a result, these drivers can dissipate heat that would otherwise build up. in doing so, the sound they produce is punchy, dynamic, and detailed.

call me a skeptic, but i didn’t think this technology could work in a little in-ear design. (they weigh just 20 grams without the cables.) and yet it does — more, rather than less.

design

there are lots of beautiful headphones in the world. however, because of the lack of real estate, few of these are of the in-ear variety. when it came to designing its isine lineup, audeze had the additional burden of figuring out a way to hide the miniaturized planar drivers found in each headphone. the result is an oversized, hexagonal design that looks like something out of the aliens or star trek films.

from a design perspective, this look doesn’t work for me, although i understand why it was chosen. after all, hiding those drivers couldn’t have been an easy process.

i’m not crazy about how these things fit in the ears, however. they aren’t very comfortable, although calling them uncomfortable wouldn’t be accurate either. perhaps the best word here would be ordinary. they provide an ordinary fit, and that’s even after trying the many plastic hooks, ear tips, and earlocks that ship with each isine.

(audeze hopes to over custom-fit isine models later this year.)

is this a deal breaker? probably not, especially when you consider that most in-ear monitors are also less than ideal in the comfort department.

sound

the isine 10 headphones shine where it matters the most. from providing deep sub-bass to high-end treble, these headphones offer incredible sounds without noticeable distortion.

to maximize the listening experience, be sure to use the tangle-free cipher lightning cable with your ios device, rather than the standard cord.

with lightning, you aren’t just getting a new way to connect your headphones to a mobile device. you’re also getting 24bit/48khz resolution. better still, the cable includes a high-quality inline amplifier, digital-to-analog converter, and dsp.

looking for more customization? use the free audeze ios app, which features two presets and a 10-band equalizer that changes eq in real time. the two eq presets travel with the cable when switching devices.

extras

besides the many headphone attachments, the isine 10 also ships with a nylon carry case, cipher lightning cable, and standard audio cable. you’ll also receive a 3.5mm stereo plug.

the choice

if you’ve been wanting to try a pair of planar magnetic headphones but didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars, you can’t go wrong with the $399 isine 10. they provide excellent sound in an incredibly small package.

rather experience the technology first with a pair of on-ear headphones? consider the $449 sine, which i continue to recommend.

the isine 10 is available for purchase through the audeze website.

for $599, you can purchase the similar looking isine 20 headphones. this model provides a longer voice coil (24 ohms) and other improvements, offering higher resolution and detail than the isine 10.


Information

count down to the days that matter, exercise your eyeballs, and enjoy a bedtime story with today’s collection of apps and games.

all app prices are subject to change at any time and without notice regardless of stated free duration. price changes are solely under the control of the developers.

iphone:

eyehacks – eye exercises – yoga for eyes ($1.99 → free, 15.5 mb): exercise your eyes with eyehacks. anyone interested in improving their eyesight.

with eyehacks, it only requires 10 to 20 minutes a day to improve your eye health. you’re able to create your own plan by choosing from 12 different eye exercises, determining a duration, and setting a time to be notified. then when the time comes, utilize the guides and perform each exercise to the best of your ability.

eyehacks – eye exercises – yoga for eyes is available for free for a limited time. it has a 5-star rating with a total of 7 ratings.

nighty night! – the bedtime story app for children ($2.99 → free, 417.5 mb): a gorgeous interactive bedtime app for kids. parents who need some assistance getting their children to sleep.

your child is able to put a variety of barnyard animals to bed by switching their lights off one by one. an animation will play for each of the seven interactive animals before their stalls go dark. by the time your child is finished putting all of the animals to bed, they should be ready to doze off themselves. the app includes beautiful 2-d illustrations, melodic lullaby music, and actor alistair findlay as a story narrator.

nighty night! – the bedtime story app for children is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4-star rating with a total of 560 ratings.

universal:

hook – fashion discovery made easier. ($1.99 → free, 66.4 mb): discover, search, and sift through fashion trends with hook. those who simply want to look good.

hook aims to become your search engine for fashion. discovering new trends is as easy as browsing through thoughtfully curated content featuring editorials and links to related products. you’re also able to see what styles are currently trending, view similar styles, and add matches to your wishlist. know what you’re looking for? search by keywords or simply snap a photo of anything that catches your eye and hook will deliver. the app also includes the ability to compare prices for a single product across multiple retailers.

hook – fashion discovery made easier. is available for free today only (02/21). it has a -star rating with a total of ratings.

tesla wars – ii ($0.99 → free, 351.0 mb): the followup to the smash hit tower defense game, tesla wars. those who enjoyed the original but want more firepower.

just like the original, your job is to keep the faceless invaders from reaching your tesla tower. this time, however, bigger and more powerful weapons are at your disposal including six auxiliary turrets. the main tower still is the most powerful, allowing you to strike down your opponents by tapping and holding your finger on them to send off an electric charge. by completing various goals and ensuring no invader reaches your tower, you’ll be rewarded with cash. the cash can be spent on upgrades and special attacks. the game includes a total of 80 levels, and a survival mode.

tesla wars – ii is available for free for a limited time. it has a 3.5-star rating with a total of 66 ratings.

time manager – daily time tracker ($0.99 → free, 17.4 mb): keep track of how much time is spent on daily activities with time manager. students and anyone else interested in how their time is managed.

time manager provides quick access to all of your common tasks. simply create recurring subjects and projects, and when it’s time to work on a task you’re able to categorize it with just a couple of taps. each task must include a start and end time, which allows you to keep track of the time spent. time manager will break down recent trends and present them as graphs. you’re also able to create reports and export them for record keeping.

time manager – daily time tracker is available for free for a limited time. it has a 5-star rating with a total of 8 ratings.

fancydays: light pro – event countdown ($1.99 → free, 63.4 mb): count down to all of the events in your life with fancydays. those who need helpful reminders.

fancydays allows you to create an unlimited number of events to count down to. when adding a new event, you’re able to set the category it belongs to and give it a custom background in order to help tell it apart. each event in your list displays the days remaining until it occurs. you’re able to keep tabs on events through a widget or on your apple watch. the app includes passcode protection, icloud support, 3d touch support, and multiple themes to choose from.

fancydays: light pro – event countdown is available for free for a limited time. it has a 5-star rating with a total of 6 ratings.

that concludes today’s issue of apps gone free. if you like staying on top of these daily deals, don’t forget to check out our free appsgonefree app. it provides all the deals each day, and even an archive of past deals that are still active.

developers:

if you are a developer who would like to get your app included in our “apps gone free” daily lists, here’s our basic set of rules:

  • it must have at least a three-star average rating at the time it goes free.
  • the app must not have been free numerous times (3+) over the last six months.
  • the free version of your app must not include ads.

to submit an app, simply send a request to [email protected] with the subject “apps gone free.” please include the name of the app, a link to it in the app store, when and for how long you intend to offer the app for free, and anything else you would like to share. we will take it from there.


Information

anker is offering a variety of awesome deals on new and existing accessories. from the companies new, 4-inch lightning cables to the ever so popular anker astro e3 10000mah portable battery, there’s basically something for everyone today. just make sure you use the corresponding coupon codes when applicable.

$10 with coupon code: anksb222

$17 with coupon code: spring79

$4 with coupon code: ankpu007

$4 with coupon code: ankpu007

$26 with coupon code: ankpu215

$10 with coupon code: ankpu214


Information

if you’re in the market for a pair of cheap bluetooth headphones, amazon is offering aukey bluetooth headphones for just $10 when you use promo code 3ipbuovk.

while the aukey bluetooth headphones aren’t going to be the best-sounding earbuds in the world, they’ll surely do a good enough job for most people, especially if you don’t consider yourself an audiophile.

what makes these particular headphones such an awesome deal is that they provide good sound, a built-in microphone for taking calls, and up to 4 hours of battery life all while being comfortable. they also have a built-in magnetic clasp which allows each bud to connect to each other, a nice feature to help prevent you from losing them.

while these don’t have the highest rating in the world, a 3.5-star rating is not bad, especially for the price. these are great headphones for people who don’t demand the absolute best and want to save a few bucks.

for just $10 bucks you’ll also get a micro-usb cable to charge your headphones, a set of extra ear-tips in case you lose or need to replace them, and a 24-month warranty. not bad!

interested? follow the link below! just be sure to use the use promo code 3ipbuovk at checkout.


Information

soul knight by zeyang li icon

soul knight (free) by zeyang li is a roguelike dungeon-crawling bullet hell shooter game that is similar to the likes of the binding of isaac, enter the gungeon, and nuclear throne. if you enjoy frantic roguelike shooters like those mentioned titles, then soul knight is definitely one that you must add to your mobile game collection.

over the past few years, roguelike games have gained immense popularity, especially on the mobile game space. for those who aren’t familiar with the genre, roguelikes are usually dungeon-crawler type games that feature procedurally generated levels, turn-based or bullet hell gameplay, and perma-death of your characters if you die, so the next run involves losing your progression and starting over from the beginning. while these types of games are not everyone’s cup of tea, i personally love them because they always bring in a new experience and i love the crazy action that the shooter style games tend to have. when i heard that soul knight had hit the app store after a bit of a delay, i was eager to get my hands on the game since i love roguelike shooters as a way to detox after a long day. i’m so glad that the game has finally arrived, because it’s definitely one of the better roguelike shooters you can grab on the app store.

soul knight features a gorgeous retro and pixelated art style that will make old-school gamers feel right at home. despite the pixelated aesthetic, the game is full of finer details like textures, dynamic lighting, and shadows when they’re necessary. the color palette ranges from dark and gloomy tones in the dungeon rooms to bright and vibrant hues for bullets and character sprites, which are all rendered beautifully. animations in soul knight are incredibly smooth and fluid, so i had no issues with lag on my iphone 7. to top everything off, there is an awesome chiptune soundtrack that will certainly bring a smile to your face as you maneuver your way through stray bullets and lay waste to your foes through a wide arsenal of possible weapons. the sound effects are also delightfully quirky, so i recommend playing this game with the sound on and a good pair of headphones if you can. the developer has knocked it out of the park with soul knight’s visuals and audio.

as with other roguelike bullet hell shooter games, soul knight features randomly generated dungeons that will never be the same thing twice. there are no level select screens and each run has you starting from the beginning, trying to best your own previous record. the goal is to get through each dungeon by clearing out all enemies in each room and reach the portal that takes you to the next level, at which point you can select a random upgrade for your hero. one of the best things about soul knight, though, is that even though it’s a free game, there is no energy system or ads whatsoever, so you can play the game as much as you’d like without any interruptions.

however, before you start a run, you’ll be able to select which hero you want to use from the main room, though only the knight is available at first. to unlock the other characters, you’ll have to accrue enough coins by playing the game, as they all cost a different amount and also have their own unique abilities that can help you out in battle. there are also some characters that can only be unlocked through in-app purchase, such as the vampire and engineer, but considering how good this game is for the mobile platform, i would say that it certainly does not hurt to throw a few bucks to the developer for awesome characters. if you’re curious about what each character’s special skills are, you can tap on them from the main room to view their ability description.

controls in soul knight are simple, straightforward, and intuitive. before you get into the real game, there will also be a brief introductory tutorial that explains the basics to you. essentially there is a virtual joystick in the bottom left corner that you can reposition anywhere on the screen with a tap, and there are three buttons in the bottom right corner: the aim/attack joystick, special skill, and weapon switcher. if you’ve played dual-stick shooter games before, then the two virtual joysticks will feel natural to you. soul knight does include an auto-aim functionality that makes it easier to hit your targets, which is nice.

soul knight by zeyang li screenshot

each character’s special skill can be used with a tap, but then has a cooldown period before it can be used again, which you can see in a glance thanks to the button’s charge gauge. the weapon switcher lets you switch between two weapons, which can be found in chests that you break open and collect while tossing out the previous weapon with the interact button (the aim/attack joystick converts into an action button in certain situations like picking up loot or interacting with npcs). your hero’s stats, such as health and defense, are in the top left corner, so make sure to keep an eye on it if you don’t want to die.

another control option for the game are mfi controllers, if you happen to have one laying around. i did try and use my new gamevice controller with soul knight, but it was not as responsive as i had hoped. i’m not sure if this is just a compatibility issue with the gamevice itself, but your mileage may vary with other mfi game controllers.

as you make your way through the dungeon rooms and dispatch your foes while avoiding their attacks, you’ll be able to find goodies like chests and other breakable objects that may get you more coins. there are also some npc heroes that you can come across, and these guys can be hired to fight alongside you for a price. you can also have a companion pet that accompanies you wherever you go, also helping you take out the baddies.

i’ve only really just started soul knight, but so far i’m loving the game aside from the iffy gamevice controller support i’m experiencing. hopefully the support for gamevice gets optimized in a future update, because this is the type of game i would prefer physical controllers for. anyway, soul knight features awesome pixel art, lovely chiptunes and sound effects, intuitive and responsive touch screen controls, and challenging gameplay. and the fact that it’s a free game with no ads or energy system is pretty rare, so i will surely be purchasing a few extra iap heroes in the near future.

i highly recommend checking out soul knight if you’re looking for a crazy fun roguelike dungeon crawler and bullet hell shooter in one. you can find soul knight on the app store as a universal download for your iphone and ipad for free. there are in-app purchases.


Information

according to a new report from digitimes, shipments of the the “apple watch series 3” will start in the second half of 2017. the new device will also sport a different kind of touchscreen technology.

a different technology

tpk holdings has supplied the touchscreens for the watch since the device hit the market in 2015. starting with series 2, apple moved to touch-on-lens technology. but because of poor yield rates, the company is apparently bowing out for the next watch model.

in its place, apple will reportedly rely on a glass-film solution from either general interface solution or biel crystal manufactory. there’s no word whether changing touchscreen technology will provide any noticeable benefits for users.

not much else is known about the next-generation apple watch. it is expected to feature better battery technology and other internal improvements while not sporting any design changes. other possible additions include an lte chip for cellular connectivity and a microled screen that uses significantly less power.

the device will likely hit shelves sometime this fall. if apple hold to a similar release schedule, the watch could be unveiled along with the “iphone 8.”

at apple’s rumored event next month to unveil a new ipad models, we could see a number of new official watch bandsoptions for all apple watches.


Information

the “iphone 8” wireless charging feature will probably use existing protocols like qi or airfuel. according to a new note from cowen and company anaylst timothy arcuri, seen by appleinsider, the next-generation handset won’t be using the long-range charging technology from energous as previously rumored.

familiar technology

qi wireless charging technology is widespread throughout the industry. both the handset and special charging pad feature a magnetic coil that needs to be aligned to start the process. similar wireless charging is seen on the apple watch.

airfuel is less established and covers both inductive and resonant charging.

arcuri said that there are already a number of wireless chipsets and other technology that support both protocols.

how energous is different

both qi and airfuel require users to place their device on, or near, some type of charging pad that still needs to be plugged in. but the energous technology, wattup, is different and uses rf technology. there are two major parts to the system – a transmitter and receiver.

the receiver would be built into a device. one transmitter could charge up to 12 different devices simultaneously in a 30-foot area.

earlier this year, at ces in las vegas, ceo steve rizzone promised that the company’s technology would ship before the end of this year. he also said the energous would partner with “one of the largest consumer electronic companies in the world.”

in his note, arcuri said that he believes in its current form, energous technology wouldn’t be approved by the fcc.

the “iphone 8” is expected to land this fall and feature a bezel-free screen, new biometric security technology, and more.


Information

apple doesn’t plan on introducing a standalone siri speaker to compete with amazon’s line of echo products and the google home, according to time’s tim bajarin. if this news is correct, it goes against numerous 2016 reports that said the opposite.

according to bajarin, instead of launching a standalone speaker, apple is “more interested in turning siri into an omnipresent ai assistant across devices, rather than designing a single device specifically to serve as a siri machine.” it also wants to turn siri into a control hub for smart home appliances.

bajarin believes siri’ functionality on the apple airpods best highlights apple’s his strategy. he notes, “airpods users can summon siri with a simple double-tap on one of the earbuds. that makes siri even more useful, giving users a hands-free way to get answers to simple questions, navigate, or send text messages.”

back in may, the information reported that apple was hoping to launch an “amazon echo-like device with a speaker and microphone that people can use to turn on music, get news headlines or set a timer.”

two months later, cnet reported that apple’s standalone siri speaker would be “self-aware,” and able to detect the people who are in proximity to the product through the use of on-board cameras equipped with facial recognition software.

bajarin thinks not having a speaker will serve apple better in the long-run:

delivering an ai assistant that’s with you all the time, rather than tethered down to a single device, is a better and more useful solution. while a fixed-point device like the echo clearly has its place, it will be an omnipresent platform that wins the ai wars.

if apple wants to compete with other voice products on the market, including amazon alexa and google home, i believe a standalone siri speaker is necessary. i base this opinion on my experience with both the amazon echo and google home.

both of these devices have done a great job of introducing artificial intelligence to the non-techies of the world. it’s these folks who apple will need to embrace for siri to grow and compete. therefore, any “omnipresent” siri platform should at least offer an optional speaker for home use.

do you think apple should release a standalone siri speaker? leave your comments below. 


Information

because of production problems, apple might not used curved oled “iphone 8” screen. that’s according to new information from research firm trendforce (via appleinsider.)

a storage bump, too

the firm’s check of supply chain sources says that the curved version of the glass has been having issues on two fronts – productions yields and poor results from drop testing.

because of those problems, trendforce believes that the next-generation iphone will offers the same type of glass found on the iphone 7 and iphone 7 plus which is mostly flat except for slightly rounded edges.

the display itself will still sport oled technology, which offers a number of improvements compared to the current lcd models. lining up with previous rumors, the firm says the screen will contain 5.15 inches of usable area and sport improved resolution. apple is also planning to do away with physical buttons and will also offer some other type of biometric security – possibly 3d facial recognition.

another interesting new tidbit from trendforce’s research says that at least for the “iphone 8” apple is planning to do away with the 32gb, low-end model. there will be two different storage options to select from – 64gb or 256gb.

appadvice's rumor roundup

if you’re interested in learning more about the next-generation lineup, make sure to visit our “iphone 8” rumor roundup section that will be continuously updated until the handsets are revealed sometime this fall.


Information

here is a roundup of everything published on gearadvice for february 21, 2017. happy national sticky bun day!

be sure to follow gearadvice on twitter so you can be immediately informed of the best deals of the day as well as be alerted to when we post a new reviewgift guide or best accessory article.

oh, and don’t forget, we’re doing a huge giveaway starting february 27, 2017.

today's deals

reviews

curated guides


Information

an interesting new report from sensor tower looks 2016 app spending by u.s. iphone owners.

games rule, yet again

unsurprisingly, games easily ruled the roost and accounted for 80 percent of app store revenue in the united states. on average, iphone users spent $27 on games, up $2 from 2015.

music was the second most popular category accounting for $3.60 in revenue. that was followed by entertainment, social networking, and then photo and video.

entertainment was the big winner in 2016 with revenue jumping from $1 per user in 2015 to $2.30 in 2016. that’s a jump of 130 percent.

netflix was a signifcant driver in the category jumping in as the popular streaming service contributed more than $58 million of revenue to the category during the fourth quarter of 2016. that’s compared to $7.9 million in the same quarter in 2015.

the average u.s. iphone user downloaded 33 apps in 2016 compared to 35 the previous year.

data was culled from an estimate of 132 million active iphones in the united states in 2016. revenue estimates were from sensor tower’s store intelligence platform.


Information

for those of us who have been into casual games for years, breakout is old hat. even so, brick-breaking fun never gets old, so i love seeing new takes on the classic genre. folks new to mobile gaming can usually catch on pretty quickly with this genre, too, so that’s even more good news for fresh titles in the style of breakout. ketchapp has recently released its own entry into the field, ballz. let’s see how it stacks up against others of its ilk.

free-to-play brick-breaking fun

ketchapp’s ballz is available now on the app store, as a free download. it offers plenty of replay value, as you vie to beat your high score and those of your friends and others in game center. you don’t have to spend anything at all on this game, but you certainly can if that’s your style. like most free games, ballz is supported by banner and video ads, but those are discreet and few and far between. this casual game offers you plenty of fun, whether you want to play for a few minutes or a few hours.

more games to take aim

of course, ballz isn’t the only game that lets you take aim at having some serious fun. for even more games like this, check out trevor sheridan’s best puzzle shooters. you’ll find such favorites as bubble witch 2 saga and inks, among others.


Information

verizon 5g tests begin in 11 cities later this year, according to the no. 1 carrier in the united states. the pilot program begins even before universal 5g specifications have been announced.

though still years away, 5g for customers is taking another step towards an eventual public release. verizon’s “pre-commercial” 5g service begins arriving in 11 markets across the u.s. by mid-2017.

these markets include ann arbor, atlanta, bernardsville, brockton, dallas, denver, houston, miami, sacramento, seattle, and washington, dc.

verizon explains:

this is another important step in commercializing gigabit broadband service to homes and offices via a wireless 5g connection. this implementation of 5g technology leverages the close collaboration with verizon’s 5g technology forum (5gtf) partners.

verizon has yet to comment on what kind of speeds the pilot cities will be experiencing. for now, that’s being debated among verizon 5g technology forum (5gtf) partners including, ericsson, intel, qualcomm technologies, inc., and samsung.

at&t is also working on a 5g framework. it expects 5g technology to deliver speeds between 10 and 100 times faster than today’s average 4g lte connectivity.

in january, both intel and at&t announced plans to bring faster 5g mobile data speeds to consumers in the near future. intel revealed a new 5g modem, which the tech company hopes will drive an accelerated move toward new 5g standards.

at&t, on the other hand, is planning its own roadmap and testing plan for the inevitability of next-generation 5g mobile data, without waiting for a standard at all.

the u.s. federal communications commission (fcc) began working on 5g specifications last year. it expects the first 5g networks to go live in 2020.


Information

we know this sounds weird, but amazon is offering an $8.62 discount on pretty much any purchase of $50 or more, so long as it’s shipped and sold by amazon.com. all you have to do is enter the promo code bigthanks at checktout.

there are a few exclusions though and those things include three things:

  • digital content
  • video games
  • amazon gift cards

other than that, any purchase of $50 or more and you’ll get an $8.62 discount when you use the promo code bigthanks at checkout.

oh, and it’s today only. enjoy!


cupertino’s new “spaceship” campus now has an official name, apple park. the facility opens its doors to employees in april, the company announced on wednesday, feb. 22.

envisioned by steve jobs and designed in collaboration with foster + partners, the new 175-acre campus features a 2.8 million-square-foot main building that’s ring-shaped and clad in the world’s largest panels of curved glass. it will eventually host 12,000 apple employees, who will move in over the next six months.

in honor of the late apple co-founder, the facility’s new theater will be named the steve jobs theater. jobs, who would have turned 62 on feb. 24, died in 2011. when it opens later this year, the 1,000-seat theater will include a 20-foot-tall glass cylinder at its entrance, 165 feet in diameter, which supports a metallic carbon-fiber roof.

according to apple ceo tim cook:

steve’s vision for apple stretched far beyond his time with us. he intended apple park to be the home of innovation for generations to come.

laurene powell jobs notes:

steve was exhilarated, and inspired, by the california landscape, by its light and its expansiveness. it was his favorite setting for thought. apple park captures his spirit uncannily well. he would have flourished, as the people of apple surely will, on this luminously designed campus.

once called apple campus 2, apple park is powered by 100 percent renewable energy. with 17 megawatts of rooftop solar, apple park will run one of the largest on-site solar energy installations in the world.

apple park also features a visitors center with an apple store and cafe open to the public and a 100,000-square-foot fitness center for employees. the facility will offer two miles of walking and running paths for employees, plus an orchard, meadow, and pond.


Information

in a recent article, i gave you 10 great tricks you might not have known about in safari for ios. there are more where that article came from. here are five more safari tips you can use to get the most out of your browser experience.

today's safari tips start with the reader mode

if you want a more pleasant experience reading a web page that’s cluttered and chaotic with images and ads, safari’s reader mode is terrific. this option turns the web page into something that looks like an ebook, with a great interface and plenty of customization options. if a page is compatible with reader mode, you’ll see a message briefly appear letting you know, but you’ll also see a special icon next to the address, one that looks like a paragraph symbol. tap on that icon, and you’ll pop into reader mode.

once you’re in reader mode, it’s easy to customize how the page looks to meet your reading preferences. just tap the aa button on the top right of the screen, and you’ll get a popup window. you can adjust the color scheme and change the font used to display the text from the page. there are several great options for night-time reading, and if you pair this with ios’s night shift mode, you can greatly reduce your eye strain after dark.

paste and go with one tap

sometimes, you’ll copy a link from an email or some other app to the ios clipboard, then paste it into safari. typically, you have to press enter on the iphone’s virtual keyboard after you paste, but there’s a faster way. if you tap and hold in the address bar, instead, you will open up a menu option that says either paste and go or paste and search. this is a real time-saver of a tip, and one that i use quite often.

open or close a tab from afar

quite a few of us have multiple apple devices that we browse from. macs, iphones, and ipads all come with safari, and the beauty of this interoperability is that you can actually access your open tabs from all of your devices quickly and easily. you can even close tabs remotely, by going to the tab switcher, scrolling down until you find icloud tabs, and then clicking or tapping delete. it takes a few seconds to happen, but it’s certainly handy if you accidentally left your bank account web page open on the family imac or ipad.

open a tab you closed recently

did you accidentally close a tab that you want to get back to? that’s simple to do in safari for ios. simply go into the tab switcher again, and tap and hold the plus (+) button. you’ll get a list of recently closed tabs, and then you can choose the one you want to bring back. quick and easy, so don’t worry if you inadvertently swipe away a tab that you still need to access.

make the most of share sheet extensions

finally, this isn’t a safari tip, per se, but a general note regarding making the most of all of the apps you purchase or download. safari for ios doesn’t support browser extensions, but plenty of apps have something plugged into the share sheet that works throughout the mobile operating system. you can do things like save a web page to the notes app, send the page in a text message or email, or many other options. explore what the share extensions have to offer you, and make the most of them.

what other tips and tricks have you found?

i’m sure there are other neat things you can do with safari for ios. what’s your favorite share sheet integration or tip for making the most of this mobile browser? let us know in the comments below.


Information

when ios 10 came out, it brought a pretty big change to how the home button works when your device is sleeping. instead of a simple push of the button waking it up and unlocking the iphone, by default you now have to press the home button a second time to open up your device. this is great on the iphone 7, with raise to wake and the newly designed home button, but not so pleasant for older devices. here’s how to get things back to normal.

the “rest finger to open” option for the home button

tucked away in the ios accessibility options is a new configuration panel – home button. if you open that pane, you’ll see several options. you can adjust the click speed of the button, change how siri or voice control operate, and configure an option called rest finger to open.

if you enable this last option, you’ll be able to open your iphone with touch id the way you could pre-ios 10. just press your finger against the button, instead of having to push it twice. it doesn’t bring back slide to unlock, unfortunately, but it might make things easier for you regardless.

other ios 10 tips and tricks

of course, there are plenty of other tips and tricks for ios 10. check out these articles, and let us know any we’ve missed in the comments.


Information

let’s face it, our iphones keep track of way more information than some of us are comfortable with. the history logs are useful pretty often, though. it’s handy to go back to a website you read earlier in the morning, return a missed call, or keep track of the kind of garbled messages you sent out at 2 o’clock in the morning, either because you were too tired (or too inebriated) to be coherent. even so, you may want to clear this stuff out once in a while. with that in mind, here’s how you can clean up your iphone by clearing history.

 

it’s a phone, so let’s start with call logs

depending on how many phone calls you make and receive, this may be the busiest part of your phone. even if it’s not, you probably want to clean this up once in a while. it’s pretty easy to do, and you can even remove individual numbers from the records. just open the phone app and go to the recents tab. swipe left on an individual call record to delete that one. if you’d rather go full-bore and delete them all, tap edit in the top right corner, and then clear, then clear all recents. if all you want to get rid of are your facetime logs, launch that app and follow these same steps there.

next up, messages

for most of you, the messages app is going to have the most history in it. luckily, it’s just as easy to clear out text and imessages as it is phone records. just launch the messages app, swipe left on a conversation, and use delete to clear out all of the messages with that contact. if you want, you can even delete multiple message threads by tapping edit, selecting the conversations you want to get rid of, and then tapping delete.

let’s say you’re in a particular conversation, and just want to delete individual messages there. if you tap and hold on the message, a menu will appear. tap more and then choose which messages you want to delete. when you’re done, you can tap either delete all in the top left corner, or the trash can icon in the bottom left. if you want to delete images and attachments from a conversation, tap the i button in the top right of the conversation, then scroll down until you see them. tap and hold on an attachment, then hit more and choose the ones you want to trash. once again, the trash can icon on the bottom right will be your friend. i won’t even ask why.

cleaning out your browser history

if you’re like most iphone users, you browse the web extensively in safari for ios. once in a while, you’ll probably want to clean out your safari history, to make things run more quickly (and maybe hide your tracks.) you can do this one web page at a time, or all at once. to get rid of individual entries, go into the bookmarks option, choose the book icon, and then history. swipe left on the history item you want to erase, then tap delete. if you tap clear from the bottom right corner of the history tab, you can delete all cookies and website data from the last hour, the last 24 hours, the last 48 hours, or all of the history. cookies and website data will be deleted from the device, while history is cleared from all icloud devices, including your mac.

if you want to erase your entire safari history, you’ll do that from within the settings app. go to settings, then safari > clear history and website data. bear in mind that if you have multiple ios devices and/or use safari on your mac, this option will clear everything for those browsers, too. from this same pane, you can also set several other privacy and security toggles, like do not track, allowing cookies, checking for fraudulent websites, and checking for apple pay.

nuke and pave everything

of course, you can also decide to start fresh for everything. if you want to completely delete everything from your iphone, that’s easy enough. just go to settings > general > reset and choose from one of these options:

  • reset all settings – this will return your device to factory settings, but leave your data and applications in place.
  • erase all content and settings – choose this for a full factory reset, removing all of your apps, data, and settings. you’ll have to set up your iphone as a new device after this, or restore it from a backup.
  • reset network settings – if you’re having networking problems, this might be your friend. it deletes saved wi-fi networks, custom cellular settings, as well as apn and vpn settings. all of your apps and data remain in place, but you’ll have to reconnect to your wireless networks.
  • reset home screen layout – want your home screen to go back to its original layout? just choose this option, and it will be done.
  • reset location & privacy – this last option resets all of your location and privacy settings to the factory defaults. apps that need access to your camera, contacts, or location information will have to ask for those pemissions all over again.

a fresh, clean ios device

those are some of the best ways you can cull the cruft from your ios device. you’ll have a faster-responding iphone in some cases, or just the peace of mind of knowing you’ve gotten rid of the evidence (on your iphone, at least) of that last party that went all wrong. for more tips and tricks for safari and other iphone apps, check out these our collection of imessage apps, as well as these articles.


Information

because of production problems, apple might not used curved oled “iphone 8” screen. that’s according to new information from research firm trendforce (via appleinsider.)

a storage bump, too

the firm’s check of supply chain sources says that the curved version of the glass has been having issues on two fronts – productions yields and poor results from drop testing.

because of those problems, trendforce believes that the next-generation iphone will offers the same type of glass found on the iphone 7 and iphone 7 plus which is mostly flat except for slightly rounded edges.

the display itself will still sport oled technology, which offers a number of improvements compared to the current lcd models. lining up with previous rumors, the firm says the screen will contain 5.15 inches of usable area and sport improved resolution. apple is also planning to do away with physical buttons and will also offer some other type of biometric security – possibly 3d facial recognition.

another interesting new tidbit from trendforce’s research says that at least for the “iphone 8” apple is planning to do away with the 32gb, low-end model. there will be two different storage options to select from – 64gb or 256gb.

appadvice's rumor roundup

if you’re interested in learning more about the next-generation lineup, make sure to visit our “iphone 8” rumor roundup section that will be continuously updated until the handsets are revealed sometime this fall.


Information

with amazon offering nearly $9 off any product over $50 with promo code bigthanks, we figured we’d highlight some of our favorite products that are at all-time lows when you use it.

just remember, you can only use the promo code once. so choose wisely.

$85 with promo code: bigthanks

$56 with promo code: bigthanks

$76 with promo code: bigthanks

$100 with promo code: bigthanks

$210 with promo code: bigthanks

$141 with promo code: bigthanks


Information

siri, apple’s intelligent personal assistant on ios, is widely known to be capable of carrying out various tasks — from sending texts to making phone calls, from getting directions to playing music, from checking the weather to serving information on movies, from launching apps to setting up reminders, from … well, you get the idea. but what may be little realized is siri’s ability to adjust or otherwise change system settings on iphone, ipad, or ipod touch. and so, with that in mind, we’ve come up with this article to let you know how you can let siri change settings on your ios device and exactly which system settings you can ask siri to change for you.

of course, to let siri change settings on your ios device, you must know how to summon siri in the first place. and to do that, you simply have to press and hold the home button of your iphone, ipad, or ipod touch.

siri is available on iphone 4s or later, ipad pro, ipad air or later, ipad (3rd generation) or later, ipad mini or later, and ipod touch (5th generation or later), and requires an internet connection.

another, perhaps better, way of summoning siri is by using the “hey siri” feature on supported devices, which you can enable by opening the settings app, tapping the siri option, turning on allow “hey siri,” and following the onscreen instructions. after enabling hey siri, you can bring up siri just by saying “hey siri” — no need to press and hold the home button.

hey siri is supported on iphone se, iphone 6s, iphone 6s plus, iphone 7, iphone 7 plus, and ipad pro (9.7-inch) without being plugged into power. it is supported on most other iphone, ipad, and ipod touch models with ios 8 or later, but only while plugged in.

as a rule, after summoning siri, you can have it change a system setting by saying “turn on/turn off,” “enable/disable,” or “activate/deactivate” followed by the name of the setting you want to toggle. in the case of settings with varying magnitude instead of just having an on/off state, you can say “turn up/turn down” or “increase/decrease” followed by the name of the setting.

out of the many system settings for iphone, ipad, or ipod touch, only a few can be changed with siri. if you try to ask siri to change the settings that it’s not allowed or made capable by its programming to alter, it will tell you so one way or another. to take the guesswork out of the proceedings, you can familiarize yourself with the list below for the specific system settings that siri can change for you.

airplane mode

to turn on airplane mode with siri, just say “turn on/enable/activate airplane mode.” siri will then warn you that it may stop working if you turn on airplane mode (since siri requires an internet connection) and ask you if you’re sure. respond with a yes to finish switching to airplane mode. you can continue using siri (and other internet-connected features) even while on airplane mode by turning on wi-fi and connecting to a wi-fi network. you can then ask siri to “turn off/disable/deactivate airplane mode.”

wi-fi

say “turn on/enable/activate wi-fi” to connect to the internet over a wi-fi network. since siri requires an internet connection to begin with, you need to have been connected to a cellular network to turn on wi-fi with siri. say “turn off/disable/deactivate wi-fi” to turn off wi-fi. unlike with airplane mode, though, siri will not warn you that it may stop working if you turn off wi-fi.

bluetooth

say “turn on/enable/activate bluetooth” to turn on bluetooth or “turn off/enable/deactivate bluetooth” to turn it off.

do not disturb

say “turn on/enable/activate do not disturb” to enable do not disturb. when do not disturb is enabled, calls and alerts that arrive while your device is locked will be silenced. say “turn off/disable/deactivate do not disturb” to disable the feature.

night shift

night shift shifts the colors of your device’s display to the warmer end of the color spectrum to help you get a better night’s sleep. to have siri toggle night shift, just say “turn on/enable/activate night shift” or “turn off/disable/deactivate do not disturb.”

brightness

to adjust your device’s display brightness, you can ask siri to “turn up/increase brightness” or “turn down/decrease brightness,” whereupon the screen will be made a bit brighter or a bit darker. you can also ask siri to “set brightness to minimum” or “set brightness to maximum” if you want to make the screen as dark or as bright as it gets.

volume

when you’re playing a song or a video on your device, you can ask siri to adjust the volume for you. just say “turn up/increase volume” or “turn down/decrease volume” to make the audio a bit louder or a bit softer. you can also say “set volume to maximum” to play audio at full loudness or “set volume to minimum” or simply “mute” or “silent” to disable sound altogether.

cellular data

you can toggle cellular data with siri by saying “turn on/enable/activate cellular data” or “turn off/disable/deactivate cellular data.” note, though, that you can enable cellular data with siri only when your device is already connected to wi-fi.

low power mode

if your device is running out of juice, you can turn on low power mode to temporarily disable certain functions and visual effects and thereby reduce power consumption. just ask siri to “turn on/enable/activate low power mode.” you can then ask siri to “turn off/disable/deactivate low power mode,” particularly when your device has been sufficiently recharged.

invert colors

for some visually impaired users, inverting the colors may help make the screen easier to read by effectively increasing the contrast. for example, white text on a black background may prove easier on the eyes than the usual black text on a white background. if you need such a setup, you can turn on invert colors to, well, invert the colors on the screen à la photo negative. just tell siri to “turn on/enable/activate invert colors” or simply say “invert colors.” to revert to the normal color display, say “turn off/disable/deactivate invert colors.”

voiceover

voiceover is an accessibility feature that speaks items on the screen, making it ideal for users with visual impairment. simply say “turn on/enable/activate voiceover” or “turn off/disable/deactivate voiceover” to have siri toggle this feature.

assistivetouch

if you’re having difficulty touching the screen or pressing the hardware buttons of your device, or if you require the use of an adaptive accessory such as a joystick, assistivetouch is for you. assistivetouch provides an interface overlay that lets you simulate a number of gestures and mechanical operations. ask siri to “turn on/enable/activate assistivetouch” and the assistivetouch button, a semitransparent rounded square enclosing several concentric circles, will appear right away. ask siri to “turn off/enable/activate assistivetouch” to make the assistivetouch button disappear.

guided access

guided access helps a user stay focused on the task or app at hand when using an ios device by temporarily restricting the device to a particular app, disabling certain software input systems and hardware buttons, disabling certain areas of the screen, and setting a time limit for the use of the app. it’s specially helpful to users with autism or other attention and sensory disorders (under the guidance of parents, teachers, or therapists), but it can also be used in kiosk or information terminal setups. to turn it on, tell siri to “turn on/enable/activate guided access” or simply say “guided access.” (you need to be inside an app to activate guided access. you also need to set a passcode to enable guided access. siri will lead you to the guided access section in settings if you haven’t set a passcode.) by design, guided access can’t be turned off with siri. it can only be deactivated manually, either by using touch id or by triple-clicking the home button.

in many of the cases above, siri will display a switch for the setting in question, which you can tap to toggle the setting if you change your mind.

you can also ask siri if a certain setting is on or off, e.g. “is cellular data on?”

there are some settings that siri can’t change but you can ask siri about to be provided a button that when tapped leads directly to the relevant section in the settings app. try saying “turn on/turn off” (or variations thereof) followed by any of the following setting names, or just saying any of the following names by itself:

  • wallpaper
  • personal hotspot
  • auto-brightness
  • auto-lock
  • zoom
  • magnifier
  • keyboard clicks
  • lock sound
  • location services
  • siri voice

you can also ask siri to go to a specific section in settings, e.g. “go to mail settings,” “open twitter settings,” “show me siri settings,” or simply “general settings.”

it can be easily argued that having siri change settings on your ios device is counterproductive, especially when settings that can be easily toggled in control center are concerned. but it can also be asserted that having siri change settings is not without its practical applications, particularly when hands-free use or accessibility is called for. i, for one, have made a bedtime habit out of saying “hey siri, turn on do not disturb” when i’m already too sleepy to fumble with my iphone. so knowing that you can let siri change settings on your ios device and knowing which settings those are can come quite in handy.


Information

are you still mourning the loss of futurama since its demise from cable in 2014? thanks to tinyco, who brought you family guy: the quest for stuff, and the animators of the retired television series, you’ll soon be able to get your futurama fix on the iphone and ipad. matt groenig, the creator of futurama and the simpsons, gives the game high praise.

the game that will feed your futurama fix

i love this game because it feels just like futurama. except now you get to jab the characters in the face.

the upcoming ios and android game, futurama: worlds of tomorrow, is being developed by tinyco and fox interactive, featuring original content from groenig, executive producer david x. cohen, and much of the team behind the beloved tv series. the original animators, rough draft studios, are also involved in the project. groenig said, after working on the game and playing it,

cohen also had high praise for the work put into futurama: worlds of tomorrow.

an award-winning partnership

that’s all of the information that we’ve been given about the game itself, but knowing the strong teamwork that went into fox interactive and tinyco’s partnership on family guy: the quest for stuff, the upcoming futurama game is sure to please. family guy: the quest for stuff has attracted tens of millions of players and has won multiple awards.

several ways to tune in for more information

we’ll definitely bring you more details about futurama: worlds of tomorrow as they are revealed, but you can also sign up to be notified of updates. you can follow the game’s facebook page or twitter feed, or sign up at the title’s web page to be notified when it’s released.

in the meantime, check out what we’ve had to say about family guy: the quest for stuff and its apple watch companion.


Information

apple’s built-in mail client is lacking in email features, so many of us are always on the hunt for alternatives. the essentials include a unified inbox, support for the most popular types of email accounts, the ability to undo sent emails, and read receipts. not many clients do this well, but i continue searching for an app that combines all of those features into a clean, easy-to-use interface. newton mail recently came on my radar, so i gave it a spin.

what email features does newton mail provide?

the first thing i wanted to know was how full-featured the newton mail client really was. here are some of the top features included in this app:

  • instant push notifications for all types of email
  • read receipts for every email you send
  • send later for scheduling email delivery when it’s best for you
  • snooze for getting a reminder to follow up on important emails
  • undo send to pull back that email you just fired off by mistake

there are many more features, but that’s a snapshot of what this app offers.

newton for ios, newton for macos

one of the things i really love in a new email client is a macos version of the app. newton offers that, and configuration of the app on a new device is quick and easy. once you’ve configured your email accounts on one device, you get those same accounts enabled everywhere else you use newton mail. every function in the macos version of newton is also available on ios, and vice versa.

the macos version of newton mail isn’t quite perfect, unfortunately. if you right-click the app icon and choose compose while newton is in the background, the new message won’t appear in front of your other windows like you might expect. you have to click on the newton dock icon to get the compose window to show up. the developers assure me that bug is being worked on, but no estimated time to squish it is available yet.

the basics of newton mail for ios

newton mail is available for iphone, ipad, apple watch, and macos. the developers report that a windows client is coming soon. newton mail is subscription-based with a 14-day free trial. after the trial period ends, certain features like push notifications, read receipts, snooze, send later, and others stop functioning. also, the email synchronization period slows down. the current cost for a year of all of those features, across all of the clients, is $49.99 per year. while some may balk at that expense, other services offering read receipts don’t offer as much integration with ios devices and cost much more.


Information

take a whole day’s worth of audio notes, push a little robot around obstacle-filled maps, and duel with your friends with today’s collection of apps and games.

all app prices are subject to change at any time and without notice regardless of stated free duration. price changes are solely under the control of the developers.

universal:

coloring animal zoo touch to color activity coloring book for kids and family preschool ultimate edition ($2.99 → free, 32.4 mb): bring color back into the lives of the zoo animals in this interactive children’s coloring book. parents and teachers who want to develop motor skills.

your child can fill in 10 different scenes just by tapping on the colorless canvases. as your child works their way through each scene, new interactive creatures and items will appear. the app also includes helpful hints, so even young children can join in on the fun.

coloring animal zoo touch to color activity coloring book for kids and family preschool ultimate edition is available for free for a limited time. it has a 3.5-star rating with a total of 27 ratings.

push-bot ($0.99 → free, 32.1 mb): use momentum to get a little robot through each exit in push-bot. anyone who finds testing their patience entertaining.

push-bot is a pretty basic robot. his only means of movement are his two spring loaded appendages. the idea is to tap either side of the screen to extend the appendages and push him through the air towards the exit. it’s a lot easier said than done since you’ll have explosives, chasms, moving objects, and a wide variety of other obstacles standing in your way as you flop around. the game includes two modes, 39 maps, and shareable replays.

push-bot is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 8 ratings.

chain breaker ($0.99 → free, 16.4 mb): break chains and other objects to help a proud knight rescue the magic cow in this endless runner. both fans of high score and physics puzzle games.

the knight will go speeding along on his own, so it’s up to you to ensure the path ahead is safe. platforms and other objects that the knight can safely make it across are suspended by chains and other objects. you’re able to manipulate them with swipes and taps to create new paths. your enemies can also be dispatched or avoided using the same methods. the game includes a variety of power-ups to earn and hidden treasures to discover.

chain breaker is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 76 ratings.

ipad:

audio notebook: all-day sound recorder, widescreen notepad, and color coded note organizer ($4.99 → free, 5.3 mb): this note taking app will help you stay on top of all of your classes and meetings with only your ipad. students and business professionals who have trouble keeping up with discussions while taking notes.

audio notebook is able to capture a whole day’s worth of audio while you take thorough notes. when creating a new note, you’re able to title and color code it. then tap record and start typing. the app features a large, legible font and automatic spellcheck, making it supremely easy to blast out notes. you’re also able to take notes in portrait or landscape orientation. when playing back audio, you’re able to seek and choose various speeds. the app includes unlimited audio recording, customizable categories, the ability to filter notes, and the ability to share notes and recordings via email.

audio notebook: all-day sound recorder, widescreen notepad, and color coded note organizer is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4-star rating with a total of 93 ratings.

samurai duel ($2.99 → free, 19.3 mb): fight with your friends for honor in this intense multiplayer game. anyone who has a friend to duel with locally.

pick a side of the screen and prepare for a duel to the death. a square box below your samurai will fill up with a symbol. the first player to correctly trace the symbol will land a blow to their opponent. you must land three blows to claim victory. the game includes a total of five symbols, or weapons, to master.

samurai duel is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 27 ratings.

that concludes today’s issue of apps gone free. if you like staying on top of these daily deals, don’t forget to check out our free appsgonefree app. it provides all the deals each day, and even an archive of past deals that are still active.

developers:

if you are a developer who would like to get your app included in our “apps gone free” daily lists, here’s our basic set of rules:

  • it must have at least a three-star average rating at the time it goes free.
  • the app must not have been free numerous times (3+) over the last six months.
  • the free version of your app must not include ads.

to submit an app, simply send a request to [email protected] with the subject “apps gone free.” please include the name of the app, a link to it in the app store, when and for how long you intend to offer the app for free, and anything else you would like to share. we will take it from there.


Information

we know this sounds weird, but amazon is offering an $8.62 discount on pretty much any purchase of $50 or more, so long as it’s shipped and sold by amazon.com. all you have to do is enter the promo code bigthanks at checkout.

there are a few exclusions though and those things include three things:

  • digital content
  • video games
  • amazon gift cards

other than that, any purchase of $50 or more and you’ll get an $8.62 discount when you use the promo code bigthanks at checkout.

oh, and it’s today only, so be sure to take advantage before the day is over. perhaps head over to our gift guide section and see if there’s anything you’d like.


t-mobile has just announced it will be the first carrier in the united states to start rolling out lte-u technology to its network starting this spring. the technology can extend the coverage and speed of lte networks.

what is it?

the technology allows lte bandwidth on part of the unlicensed 5ghz spectrum. lte-u uses that spectrum without affecting normal wi-fi devices and constantly seeks the least utilized channels for maximum performance.

if wi-fi demand increases, lte-u throttles down and if wi-fi usage and demand drop, customers can take advantage of that unused spectrum for lte.

could arrive in future iphone, ipad hardware

currently, no iphone or ipad models support lte-u. but now that t-mobile has officially announced its plans to start rolling out the technology, we could see apple add support for the spectrum in future hardware updates.

verizon is also reportedly interested in adding the technology to its network as well.

speaking of verizon, the largest carrier in the united states recently announced that it will start testing the next-generation 5g network in 11 cities starting later this year. some of the cities include ann arbor, michigan, atlanta, bernardsville, new jersey, brockton, massachusetts, dallas, denver, houston, miami, sacramento, seattle, and washington, d.c.

the federal communications commission started crafting 5g specifications last year. it expects the first 5g networks to go live in 2020.


Information

with amazon offering nearly $9 off any product over $50 with promo code bigthanks, we figured we’d highlight some of our favorite products that are at all-time lows when you use it.

just remember, you can only use the promo code once. so choose wisely.

$85 with promo code: bigthanks

$56 with promo code: bigthanks

$76 with promo code: bigthanks

$100 with promo code: bigthanks

$210 with promo code: bigthanks

$141 with promo code: bigthanks

$141 with promo code: bigthanks


Information

siri, apple’s intelligent personal assistant on ios, is widely known to be capable of carrying out various tasks — from sending texts to making phone calls, from getting directions to playing music, from checking the weather to serving information on movies, from launching apps to setting up reminders, from … well, you get the idea. but what may be little realized is siri’s ability to adjust or otherwise change system settings on iphone, ipad, or ipod touch. and so, with that in mind, we’ve come up with this article to let you know how you can let siri change settings on your ios device and exactly which system settings you can ask siri to change for you.

of course, to let siri change settings on your ios device, you must know how to summon siri in the first place. and to do that, you simply have to press and hold the home button of your iphone, ipad, or ipod touch.

siri is available on iphone 4s or later, ipad pro, ipad air or later, ipad (3rd generation) or later, ipad mini or later, and ipod touch (5th generation or later), and requires an internet connection.

another, perhaps better, way of summoning siri is by using the “hey siri” feature on supported devices, which you can enable by opening the settings app, tapping the siri option, turning on allow “hey siri,” and following the onscreen instructions. after enabling hey siri, you can bring up siri just by saying “hey siri” — no need to press and hold the home button.

hey siri is supported on iphone se, iphone 6s, iphone 6s plus, iphone 7, iphone 7 plus, and ipad pro (9.7-inch) without being plugged into power. it is supported on most other iphone, ipad, and ipod touch models with ios 8 or later, but only while plugged in.

as a rule, after summoning siri, you can have it change a system setting by saying “turn on/turn off,” “enable/disable,” or “activate/deactivate” followed by the name of the setting you want to toggle. in the case of settings with varying magnitude instead of just having an on/off state, you can say “turn up/turn down” or “increase/decrease” followed by the name of the setting.

out of the many system settings for iphone, ipad, or ipod touch, only a few can be changed with siri. if you try to ask siri to change the settings that it’s not allowed or made capable by its programming to alter, it will tell you so one way or another. to take the guesswork out of the proceedings, you can familiarize yourself with the list below for the specific system settings that siri can change for you.

airplane mode

to turn on airplane mode with siri, just say “turn on/enable/activate airplane mode.” siri will then warn you that it may stop working if you turn on airplane mode (since siri requires an internet connection) and ask you if you’re sure. respond with a yes to finish switching to airplane mode. you can continue using siri (and other internet-connected features) even while on airplane mode by turning on wi-fi and connecting to a wi-fi network. you can then ask siri to “turn off/disable/deactivate airplane mode.”

wi-fi

say “turn on/enable/activate wi-fi” to connect to the internet over a wi-fi network. since siri requires an internet connection to begin with, you need to have been connected to a cellular network to turn on wi-fi with siri. say “turn off/disable/deactivate wi-fi” to turn off wi-fi. unlike with airplane mode, though, siri will not warn you that it may stop working if you turn off wi-fi.

bluetooth

say “turn on/enable/activate bluetooth” to turn on bluetooth or “turn off/enable/deactivate bluetooth” to turn it off.

do not disturb

say “turn on/enable/activate do not disturb” to enable do not disturb. when do not disturb is enabled, calls and alerts that arrive while your device is locked will be silenced. say “turn off/disable/deactivate do not disturb” to disable the feature.

night shift

night shift shifts the colors of your device’s display to the warmer end of the color spectrum to help you get a better night’s sleep. to have siri toggle night shift, just say “turn on/enable/activate night shift” or “turn off/disable/deactivate do not disturb.”

brightness

to adjust your device’s display brightness, you can ask siri to “turn up/increase brightness,” “turn down/decrease brightness,” or “make the screen brighter/darker,” whereupon the screen will be made a bit brighter or a bit darker. you can also ask siri to “set brightness to minimum” or “set brightness to maximum” if you want to make the screen as dark or as bright as it gets.

volume

when you’re playing a song or a video on your device, you can ask siri to adjust the volume for you. just say “turn up/increase volume,” “turn down/decrease volume,” or “make the volume louder/softer,” to make the audio a bit louder or a bit softer. you can also say “set volume to maximum” to play audio at full loudness or “set volume to minimum” or simply “mute” or “silent” to disable sound altogether.

cellular data

you can toggle cellular data with siri by saying “turn on/enable/activate cellular data” or “turn off/disable/deactivate cellular data.” note, though, that you can enable cellular data with siri only when your device is already connected to wi-fi.

low power mode

if your device is running out of juice, you can turn on low power mode to temporarily disable certain functions and visual effects and thereby reduce power consumption. just ask siri to “turn on/enable/activate low power mode.” you can then ask siri to “turn off/disable/deactivate low power mode,” particularly when your device has been sufficiently recharged.

invert colors

for some visually impaired users, inverting the colors may help make the screen easier to read by effectively increasing the contrast. for example, white text on a black background may prove easier on the eyes than the usual black text on a white background. if you need such a setup, you can turn on invert colors to, well, invert the colors on the screen à la photo negative. just tell siri to “turn on/enable/activate invert colors” or simply say “invert colors.” to revert to the normal color display, say “turn off/disable/deactivate invert colors.”

voiceover

voiceover is an accessibility feature that speaks items on the screen, making it ideal for users with visual impairment. simply say “turn on/enable/activate voiceover” or “turn off/disable/deactivate voiceover” to have siri toggle this feature.

assistivetouch

if you’re having difficulty touching the screen or pressing the hardware buttons of your device, or if you require the use of an adaptive accessory such as a joystick, assistivetouch is for you. assistivetouch provides an interface overlay that lets you simulate a number of gestures and mechanical operations. ask siri to “turn on/enable/activate assistivetouch” and the assistivetouch button, a semitransparent rounded square enclosing several concentric circles, will appear right away. ask siri to “turn off/enable/activate assistivetouch” to make the assistivetouch button disappear.

guided access

guided access helps a user stay focused on the task or app at hand when using an ios device by temporarily restricting the device to a particular app, disabling certain software input systems and hardware buttons, disabling certain areas of the screen, and setting a time limit for the use of the app. it’s specially helpful to users with autism or other attention and sensory disorders (under the guidance of parents, teachers, or therapists), but it can also be used in kiosk or information terminal setups. to turn it on, tell siri to “turn on/enable/activate guided access” or simply say “guided access.” (you need to be inside an app to activate guided access. you also need to set a passcode to enable guided access. siri will lead you to the guided access section in settings if you haven’t set a passcode.) by design, guided access can’t be turned off with siri. it can only be deactivated manually, either by using touch id or by triple-clicking the home button.

in many of the cases above, siri will display a switch for the setting in question, which you can tap to toggle the setting if you change your mind.

you can also ask siri if a certain setting is on or off, e.g. “is cellular data on?”

there are some settings that siri can’t change but you can ask siri about to be provided a button that when tapped leads directly to the relevant section in the settings app. try saying “turn on/turn off” (or variations thereof) followed by any of the following setting names, or just saying any of the following names by itself:

  • wallpaper
  • personal hotspot
  • auto-brightness
  • auto-lock
  • zoom
  • magnifier
  • keyboard clicks
  • lock sound
  • location services
  • siri voice

you can also ask siri to go to a specific section in settings, e.g. “go to mail settings,” “open twitter settings,” “show me siri settings,” or simply “general settings.”

it can be easily argued that having siri change settings on your ios device is counterproductive, especially when settings that can be easily toggled in control center are concerned. but it can also be asserted that having siri change settings is not without its practical applications, particularly when hands-free use or accessibility is called for. i, for one, have made a bedtime habit out of saying “hey siri, turn on do not disturb” when i’m already too sleepy to fumble with my iphone. so knowing that you can let siri change settings on your ios device and knowing which settings those are can come quite in handy.


Information

here is a roundup of everything published on gearadvice for february 22, 2017. happy national margarita day!

be sure to follow gearadvice on twitter so you can be immediately informed of the best deals of the day as well as be alerted to when we post a new reviewgift guide or best accessory article.

today's deals

also, don’t forget, we’re doing a huge giveaway starting february 27, 2017.


the customer asked for additional color options in apple’s airpods, and someone listened. it wasn’t cupertino, though. instead, the popular aftermarket customization service colorware has announced its ability to offer colorized airpods, with 58 different tint options.

 

it wasn’t easy, colorware said

in a twitter announcement made feb. 22, 2017, colorware announced the support for customizing airpods. the company claimed it to be a difficult process, but one it was able to pull off.

specialists in colorizing your gear

whether it’s your apple gear, such as a magic trackpad 2 or even a macbook pro, or a video game console, colorware specializes in adding a splash of color to your life. the company provides customization services for a wide range of products, with tint options that run the entire color spectrum in both solids and metallics.

 

make your airpods your own

when you colorize your apple airpods, you can mix and match colors almost as much as you please. there are 58 different colors available, including solids and metallics. you can choose from either a gloss or a matte finish. what’s more, you can have your left airpod a completely different color from the right. you can even colorize the charging case for your airpods, picking a matching color or one widely different.

expensive customization?

to do a full colorization of your airpods and the charging case, you’ll spend around $319 usd. if you choose not to have the case painted, the cost of your customization will be $289. shipping time is currently advertised as eight to 10 weeks. you’ll pay for shipping, too. for me, the estimated shipping cost was almost $18. of course, the plain white airpods are $159 from apple, and ship in six weeks. if you’re ready to order your own customized airpods, head to colorware’s website and pick your favorite tints.

will you pay for custom-colored airpods?

i don’t imagine many of you are in the camp that absolutely needs or wants airpods that are so unique. will you pay upwards of $300 to have customized airpods shipped to your door? if so, what color options did you pick? let us know in the comments.


Information

the feds can’t unlock iphones in a building in one broad sweep, a court has ruled.

a federal court in illinois has ruled that law enforcement can’t seek mass fingerprint unlocking warrants for smart devices. instead, the government needs to be more specific about the devices and data they request, according to forbes.

 

in what’s being described as a “landmark decision,” the united states district court for the northern district of illinois, has ruled against the government in a child pornography case. law enforcement had requested a search warrant that would have allowed police to walk into a building and unlock all phones inside.

the court said there were privacy implications “for this particular method of using fingerprints of unnamed individuals within a property to force unlock smartphones, in particular apple devices.”

in the decision,  judge m. david weisman writes:

this court agrees that the context in which fingerprints are taken, and not the fingerprints themselves, can raise concerns under the fourth amendment. in the instant case, the government is seeking the authority to seize any individual at the subject premises and force the application of their fingerprints as directed by government agents. based on the facts presented in the application, the court does not believe such fourth amendment intrusions are justified based on the facts articulated.

the court’s decision, which we’re including here, was first uncovered by stanford cryptography fellow riana pfefferkorn:

forbes notes this is the first known case where law enforcement has been prevented from carrying out such broad searches of smart devices.

sounds like the right decision, no? leave your comments below.


Information

if you’re on the hunt for a nice iphone 7 leather case and don’t want to spend nearly $50 on one from apple, this jisoncase is your next best bet.

the jisoncase genuine leather iphone 7 case is a simple case meant to look nearly identical to apple’s popular leather case, which retails for $45. it’s a bargain if you ask me, especially since it feels so close to the real deal.

the bottom is exposed, like apple’s, which means if you drop it on the bottom side, you’ll get some, but not full protection. i understand why this is done, though. making precise holes for speakers in leather is not easy.

the fit and finish are superb. my iphone 7 fits snug and i have no major complaints.

if there’s one thing i don’t like about the case it’s that jisoncase is embossed on the backside. i actually don’t mind that there’s no apple logo, but man, i wish it was just completely flush with no markings on the back whatsoever. still, it doesn’t look bad, i’m just being picky.

the volume buttons are not metal like on the new iphone 7 leather cases. instead, this style is exactly how they were on previous generation leather cases. it’s easy to adjust volume, but they’re not super clicky.

all-in-all i’m very happy with this case. sure, it’s not from apple, but it’s also not $45 + tax. the leather feels great and i’m sure it’s going to wear nicely. it offers great protection and it looks classy, especially with the matte black body.

it also comes in a few other colors which i haven’t tested yet, but they all seem really nice. it’s available for both the iphone 7 and iphone 7 plus.


Information

i’ve loved google’s popular ios keyboard app, gboard, since it first came out. being able to swipe to type and quickly do google searches in emails and text messages has been extremely useful. the only thing the keyboard alternative has been lacking was the ability to perform voice typing tasks. with a recent update to the app, though, you can now do exactly that, and more.

 

go from glide typing to voice typing with one press

with the gboard 1.3, we finally get voice typing support. to activate it, press down on the space bar on the virtual keyboard for a second, and you will be taken to a new window that records your voice and then transcribes it to text. the voice-to-text engine isn't perfect yet (it mistook "with" for "which" for me), but it's sure to improve. google has built intelligent context recognition into the engine, allowing the app to determine what you said based on other words it recognizes. it's definitely on par with apple's voice-to-text, and possibly exceeds it.

to activate the voice typing capability, all you have to do is press the spacebar on the virtual keyboard for a second. your screen will move over to a dictation app, listen for you to speak, and then transcribe your words into text. the engine isn’t perfect yet, but neither is siri or apple’s voice-to-text recognition. even so, it’s pretty good, and might even beat out apple’s own offering.

full support for ios 10 emoji

slowly but surely, gboard is supporting every emoji availble within ios 10. since apple keeps adding new symbols to the collection, google has to update its keyboard to support them all. if you want to clown around, you can do that with the third-party keyboard just as well as you can with the standard ios keyboard.

apple continuously adds new emoji to its already expansive collection, and third-party keyboards have to provide updates to keep up. google has always been on top of this game, and gboard 1.3 brings the latest ios 10 emoji into the fold.

new language support

google has built in new language support to gboard. the third-party keyboard now supports 15 new languages: croatian, czech, danish, dutch, finnish, greek, polish, romanian, swedish, catalan, hungarian, malay, russian, latin american spanish, and turkish. more languages are reported to be coming soon.

google reports that gboard now supports 15 new languages. those include croatian, czech, danish, dutch, finnish, greek, polish, romanian, swedish, catalan, hungarian, malay, russian, latin american spanish, and turkish. the additions should make many non-english speakers happy, and the app reports that even more languages are coming soon.

google doodles

one of google’s funnest features is the doodle, updates to the search giant’s logo whenever there’s a special date like a holiday, event, or famous birthday. gboard 1.3 now supports google doodles. if you see the “g” button animate, tap on it to see that day’s doodle.

a full-featured keyboard alternative

that’s just a snapshot of the things you can do with gboard. of course, you can still send google search results to your contacts, search your address book, get nearby stores and restaurants, and even pull in the latest weather forecast. as long as google keeps updating this keyboard alternative, it’s going to remain one of the most popular choices on the app store.

gboard requires ios 9.0 or later, and is compatible with iphone, ipad, and ipod touch. for even more fun alternatives to the stock ios keyboard, check out robin rhys’s collection of the best sticker and gif keyboard apps.


Information

bluetooth headphones seem to get better with each passing year, thanks to technical and design advances. when looking for a pair of headphones you should consider many factors, including price, size, durability, and, of course, how they sound. here you’ll find a range of best bluetooth headphones at various price points. surely, you’ll be able to find the perfect set for your needs.


Information

rhom bus by creatiu lab icon

rhom bus ($1.99) by creatiu lab is a fantastic new puzzle board game that features cute animals and rhombuses. if you enjoyed titles such as aurora and partyrs, then chances are high that you will like what rhom bus has to offer. it’s from the same developers of the mesh and stubies.

a lot has been going on for me these days, so when i have some downtime i just like to kick back and relax with some video games. while i’ve been on my playstation 4 much more lately, i still like to take a break every now and then with some ios games, especially puzzles. if you’ve followed my work here at appadvice for the past few years, then you’ll know that puzzles are one of my favorite genres because they’re mentally stimulating yet relaxing at the same time, which i truly appreciate. even though it feels like i’ve played every kind of puzzle game there is on the app store sometimes, i’m still always on the lookout for something new. when the news of rhom bus hit my inbox, i knew it was something that i had to check out since i loved the mesh, and needless to say, i’m definitely not disappointed by rhom bus.

visually speaking, rhom bus is downright gorgeous with a minimalistic design that is beautiful to behold. everything is rendered in 2-d with a flat, vector-like aesthetic that looks and feels modern and fresh. despite the flatness, the animals (and even the bus driver, tom) appear realistic and have a ton of fine details, such as their outfits, that breathe personality and charm into them. the color palette in rhom bus ranges from bright and vibrant tones to dark and rich hues for the background and game board, while the animals have realistic colors and shading. all of the animations in rhom bus are smooth and fluid, with seamless transitions between levels. the game also has a rather quirky and whimsical soundtrack that is a delight to listen to, and the sound effects are a fun touch. overall, i would say that creatiu lab has created another masterpiece of a puzzle game on ios, especially for the visual and audio departments.

in typical puzzle game fashion, rhom bus is level-based with different destinations for the driver to take animals to. at the moment, the chapters include the gym, disco, and spa. there are a handful of levels for each destination, since you know, a bus can only fit so many passengers before it’s full. however, once you play through the first seven levels of rhom bus, you’ll unlock the infinite mode, which lets you play until you run out of space on the board, essentially, while trying to rack up a high score. but be warned — the seventh level is rather tricky and a decent challenge before you get to the meat of the game. the objective of the game is simple enough: get the animals on the bus by getting enough tiles on the board to match their name. sometimes though, you’ll need to get multiple letter tiles, as indicated by the number underneath the letters at the top of the screen, and special blocks get introduced as you make progress in the game. don’t worry about being overwhelmed — the game introduces everything with a brief tutorial screen that explains the game mechanics, so you’re never lost or confused. the further along you get in the game though, the longer the names become, making the difficulty level of the game pick up at a gradual pace.

rhom bus by creatiu lab screenshot

controls in rhom bus are pretty straightforward and intuitive, though it will take a bit of practice to master. at the start of a level, there may or may not be some letter tiles already on the board. two tiles appear at a time along the top, and you can slide them left or right to reposition them before dropping them down with a swipe. when two letters connect with each other at their highlighted corners, they will form the next letter in the animal’s name, and you continue this process until you’ve acquired all of the necessary letter tiles to complete the stage. however, sometimes you will have to make adjustments to the board to make the letters connect. you can tap anywhere on the board to rotate all of the current tiles at once, or a tap in one of the four corners of the board itself will spin the board 90 degrees. there is also a “magic tile” power-up that you can use to rotate a single tile on the board, but this can only be used once per level, so make sure to use it wisely. once you have collected all of the necessary tiles (including special ones) for the stage, then that animal is picked up in the bus and you can move on to the next level.

i’ve only been playing rhom bus for a little bit and am still pretty early on in the linear levels, but the infinite mode is definitely the best part of the game. rhom bus features a unique gameplay mechanic that proves to be challenging, fun, and rather addictive. plus the game has a rather endearing aesthetic, delightful music, and intuitive controls that are perfectly optimized for touch screens. i think the only improvement that can be made to the game would be more levels or modes later down the line. still, this is a great release and a must for any puzzle game fan.

rhom bus is available on the app store as a universal download for your iphone and ipad for just $1.99. there are no in-app purchases.


Information

check twitter from your lock screen, work on grammar skills, and get a serious workout with today’s collection of apps and games.

all app prices are subject to change at any time and without notice regardless of stated free duration. price changes are solely under the control of the developers.

universal:

new orleans travel guide & offline city street map ($3.99 → free, 58.3 mb): get the most out of what new orleans has to offer with this travel guide. locals and tourists.

today only: unlock the new orleans travel guide free of charge!

put down the huge book guides and pick up your idevice. new orleans travel guide is here to help you find the best of what the city has to offer. the app provides zoomable regional maps, augmented reality, photos, interactive points of interest, safety tips, budget-based restaurants, and even daily itineraries. everything is available offline, but make sure to download the data before heading out.

new orleans travel guide & offline city street map is available for free for a limited time. it has a 3-star rating with a total of 11 ratings.

tweety pro – show twitter timeline on lock screen ($2.99 → free, 23.7 mb): check twitter from your lock screen with tweety pro. those who want quick updates from twitter.

before you do anything, you’ll have to link your twitter accounts with tweety. you can then customize the widget in order to fit how you use twitter. tweety allows you to adjust which accounts are showing tweets, how often they update, how much information is displayed, and whether or not you want quick actions. tweety is also able to open tweets in safari, the twitter app, tweetbot, or twitterrific.

tweety pro – show twitter timeline on lock screen is available for free for a limited time. it has a 5-star rating with a total of 5 ratings.

ipad:

tabata! hd: 4 minute workout challenge. burn calories faster than ever! ($3.99 → free, 23.0 mb): all it takes is four minutes a day to stay fit with this fitness app. those who want to shed a few pounds without committing a lot of time to it.

tabata! doesn’t take itself too seriously, but you will get a serious workout. you’re provided with a different set of exercises each day. your chosen exercises are laid out in list form, and you can review them to ensure you know how to properly perform them before staring the workout. then follow along with the instructor as you perform each exercise for 20 seconds with 10 second breaks. none of the exercises require equipment, so you can perform them anytime, anywhere. the app also includes the ability to adjust the amount of sets for exercises, and all kinds of achievements to earn.

tabata! hd: 4 minute workout challenge. burn calories faster than ever! is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 14 ratings.

word wonderland (elementary) full ($1.99 → free, 49.9 mb): this educational app from mcgraw-hill allows your child to practice word sorts. students in grades three through six.

a friendly astronaut crab needs help navigating the space station. your child is able to help him by hopping, eating, and shaking their way through word sort challenges including roots, vowels, and inflectional endings. the app includes four difficulty levels, the ability to practice skills separately, and support for multiple profiles.

word wonderland (elementary) full is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4-star rating with a total of 13 ratings.

word wonderland (primary) full ($1.99 → free, 98.1 mb): lead a friendly frog from one end of the pond to the other by sorting words in this educational game. children in grades kindergarten through second.

your child can move the frog by tapping on lily pads. some pads are missing, breaking the frog’s path to freedom, so your child must discover which word belongs in the gap. the game includes three worlds to explore, three skills to practice, three difficulty levels, and support for multiple profiles.

word wonderland (primary) full is available for free for a limited time. it has a 3.5-star rating with a total of 41 ratings.

grammar wonderland (primary) ($2.99 → free, 272.7 mb): another educational app from mcgraw-hill that will help your child work on their grammar skills through interactive games. children in grades kindergarten through second.

they’re able to practice using nouns, verbs, and adjectives by swimming, feeding chameleons, and tossing crackers at parrots. the app includes three worlds to explore with multiple challenges in each, the ability to practice all of the skills separately, four difficulty levels, and support for multiple profiles.

grammar wonderland (primary) is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4-star rating with a total of 31 ratings.

that concludes today’s issue of apps gone free. if you like staying on top of these daily deals, don’t forget to check out our free appsgonefree app. it provides all the deals each day, and even an archive of past deals that are still active.

developers:

if you are a developer who would like to get your app included in our “apps gone free” daily lists, here’s our basic set of rules:

  • it must have at least a three-star average rating at the time it goes free.
  • the app must not have been free numerous times (3+) over the last six months.
  • the free version of your app must not include ads.

to submit an app, simply send a request to [email protected] with the subject “apps gone free.” please include the name of the app, a link to it in the app store, when and for how long you intend to offer the app for free, and anything else you would like to share. we will take it from there.


Information

wireless charging has long been offered on smartphones not owned by apple. however, the technology remains “messy,” at best. because of this, apple is said to have five teams working on the technology ahead of the launch of the next iphone, according to reuters.

these teams are tasked with finding the right solution for iphone, apparently regardless of what other companies have done.

apple recently joined the group backing qi. but there are still at least five different groups working on wireless charging technology within apple, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

as we reported, apple recently joined the wireless power consortium. the consortium serves as the governing body behind the qi charging standard.

the 10th anniversary iphone, which launches this fall, is expected to include a redesign for the first time since 2014. as such, the “iphone 8” or “iphone x” is likely to feature a high-resolution oled display, 3d sensors, and wireless charging.

while new to iphone owners, these features have long been available on competing devices. this hasn’t mattered to iphone owners, many who have waited three years for apple to refresh its flagship device. according to timothy arcuri, an analyst at cowen & co, upwards of 40 percent of iphones on the market are more than two years old, a historical high.

reuters notes that apple’s product strategy for the iphone 8 has less to do with technological innovation than by consumer upgrade cycles and apple’s own business and marketing needs.

as bob o’donnell of technalysis research notes, “when a market gets saturated, the growth is all about refresh. this is exactly what happened to pcs. it’s exactly what happened to tablets. it’s starting to happen to smartphones.”

for more on this year’s iphone lineup, be sure to look at our updated roundup guide. we also have one for the 2017 ipad lineup too.


Information

though rumors about this year’s iphone lineup get most of the headlines, what’s happening with ipad is also important. here are the latest rumors about apple’s new tablet lineup, which could be announced as early as march. come back often for updates.

a very big year

since apple announced the first ipad in 2010, there have been 10 tablet models. in 2017, we could see four new versions released.

ipad pro

the ipad pro line currently features two tablets, a 12.9-inch model, announced in october 2015, and a 9.7-inch version launched in march 2016.

in august 2016, ming-chi kuo with kgi securities noted that apple was prepping three new ipad pro devices for 2017. the analyst said this will include new 9.7-inch, 12.9-inch, and 10.5-inch models.

two months later, makotakara also said that apple was prepping three new “pro” tablets for 2017. at the time, they said this would include an all-new 10.5-inch ipad pro, which could replace (or join) the current-generation 9.7-inch model. alongside, they said we’d see a “7.9-inch ipad pro” and second-generation 12.9-inch ipad pro.

just as we’ve heard that the rumored 5.8-inch “iphone 8” may be the only apple handset in 2017 to receive a new design, so too could the 10.x-inch ipad pro.

again, it’s makotakara with the story.

according to a november report from the japanese website, the new ipad will ship bezel-free and without a home button. interestingly, this new tablet will use the same footprint as the 9.7-inch ipad pro, retaining a top bezel for the front-facing facetime camera. the bottom bezel will be reduced in size, however.

at 7.5mm, a 10.9-inch ipad pro would be slightly thicker than the 9.7-inch ipad pro, although it would feature the same depth as the first ipad air. the 9.7-inch ipad pro has a thickness of 6.1mm.

digitimes sources say the new 10.x-inch tablet will ship with an apple-developed cpu a10x, which will also arrive on the next-generation 12.9-inch ipad pro.

in february, macotakara said the 2017 ipad lineup would include four new ipad pro models, measuring 7.9-, 9.7-, 10.5-, and 12.9-inches.

if correct, this all but confirms that ipad air and ipad mini lineup will eventually be discontinued.

 

time frame

we expect new ipads to arrive in march or april. however, a jan. 19 report suggested the release won’t happen until fall. give inventory levels for the ipad air 2, that rumor probably isn’t correct.

more ipad rumors

we’ll be updating this post as we get closer to the 2017 ipad release date(s). each time there’s an update, will let you know on the front page of the site.


Information

automaker supplier harman recently announced the first successful implementation of wireless carplay. the company only noted that the solution is being deployed on the market for a “luxury german automaker.” more than likely, that refers to bmw as its currently the only automaker that features the technology.

a big improvement

wireless carplay works by using both a bluetooth and wi-fi connection and doesn’t require drivers to connect their iphone to a usb lightning cable. i’ve been using an aftermarket carplay system for more than two years, and having to plug my iphone in is the biggest issue i have with the system.

even though harman didn’t specify if any other carmakers will be using wireless carplay systems, its a good bet that we’ll be seeing a number of new autos with the technology soon. some of harman’s other customers include audi, volkswagen, daimler, and fiat chrysler automobiles.

back at ces in january, alpine unveiled the first wireless carplay aftermarket unit – the $900 ilx-107. it’s scheduled to hit the market sometime before the end of the month.

and apple is continuing to improve the overall carplay experience. starting with ios 10.3, which is currently in beta testing, apple has added a quick app switcher to the left side of the screen. users can easily switch between the music, maps, and phone app at anytime.


Information

earlier this week, we introduce the newest part of appadvice – gearadvice. your one-stop shop for products and accessories it features four major sections: daily gadget deals, the best gadgets, gadget reviews, and gadget guides.

more than $3,000 of products to win

and to celebrate, we’ll start gearadvice’s product giveaways of more than $3,000 in accessories starting monday. here’s just a small taste of what to expect.

there’s more where that came from in addition to other things such as bags, cables, cases, apple watch bands and more. what do you have to do to be eligible? you’ll find out soon, but the fastest way to find out about these giveaways is to follow @gearadvice on twitter. that’s not only where you’ll find out about these giveaways first, but it’s also where the winners will be announced.


Information

amazon is offering a wide variety of ravpower accessories at great prices today. from portable battery chargers to lightning cables, there’s something for everyone.


bluetooth headphones seem to get better with each passing year, thanks to technical and design advances. when looking for a pair of headphones you should consider many factors, including price, size, durability, and, of course, how they sound. here you’ll find a range of best bluetooth headphones at various price points. whether you’re looking for something for casual use or you need something for working out, you’ll be able to find the perfect set for your needs.


Information

wireless charging has long been offered on smartphones not owned by apple. however, the technology remains “messy,” at best. because of this, apple is said to have five teams working on the technology ahead of the launch of the next iphone, according to reuters.

these teams are tasked with finding the right solution for iphone, apparently regardless of what other companies have done.

apple recently joined the group backing qi. but there are still at least five different groups working on wireless charging technology within apple, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

as we reported, apple recently joined the wireless power consortium. the consortium serves as the governing body behind the qi charging standard.

the 10th anniversary iphone, which launches this fall, is expected to include a redesign for the first time since 2014. as such, the “iphone 8” or “iphone x” is likely to feature a high-resolution oled display, 3d sensors, and wireless charging.

while new to iphone owners, these features have long been available on competing devices. this hasn’t mattered to iphone owners, many who have waited three years for apple to refresh its flagship device. according to timothy arcuri, an analyst at cowen & co, upwards of 40 percent of iphones on the market are more than two years old, a historical high.

reuters notes that apple’s product strategy for the iphone 8 has less to do with technological innovation than by consumer upgrade cycles and apple’s own business and marketing needs.

as bob o’donnell of technalysis research notes, “when a market gets saturated, the growth is all about refresh. this is exactly what happened to pcs. it’s exactly what happened to tablets. it’s starting to happen to smartphones.”

for more on this year’s iphone lineup, be sure to look at our updated roundup guide. we also have one for the 2017 ipad lineup too.


Information

the 2017 ipads are likely to be announced in just a few weeks. however, two of the new tablets might not be released until later in the spring, according to digitimes.

the report notes that apple plans on announcing three new ipad pros in march, including an all new 10.5-inch model, plus next-generation versions of the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch ipad pro.

of these, only the 9.7-inch model will arrive in stores soon after the announcement. launches for the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models might be delayed until may or june, “thereby affecting first-quarter sales of supply chain makers.”

there’s no way to verify the validity of this report. recent history, however, suggests it could be. it wasn’t that long ago when apple would announce and release a new product at around the same time. that’s no longer the case.

appl announced the first-generation 12.9-inch ipad pro in september 2015. however, it wasn’t until november when the product was released. before this, the first apple watch was announced in october 2014, although it didn’t launch until the following april.

more recently, though apple announced both the apple airpods and beats x headphones in september 2016, neither arrived until many months later.

finally, it’s also worth noting that digitimes doesn’t mention the arrival of a “7.9-inch ipad pro,” which has also been rumored in recent weeks.

for more on the 2017 ipads, see our special roundup guide.


Information

earlier this week, we introduce the newest part of appadvice – gearadvice. your one-stop shop for products and accessories it features four major sections: daily gadget deals, the best gadgets, gadget reviews, and gadget guides.

more than $3,000 of products to win

and to celebrate, we’ll start gearadvice’s product giveaways of more than $3,000 in accessories starting monday. here’s just a small taste of what to expect.

there’s more where that came from in addition to other things such as bags, cables, cases, apple watch bands and more. what do you have to do to be eligible? you’ll find out soon, but the fastest way to find out about these giveaways is to follow @gearadvice on twitter. that’s not only where you’ll find out about these giveaways first, but it’s also where the winners will be announced.


Information

this is going to sound weird coming from a technology advocate and writer. i think we might have gotten carried away with our iphones and ipads. sure, they make life easier, since we can use them to quickly plan out our days and even learn new skills and hobbies. smartphone technology has even found its way into some of the oldest hobbies and vocations, like hunting for food and just enjoying the great outdoors. but where i think we should draw the line is our kids, teaching them when to disconnect from technology and just enjoy nature for what it is. the truth is, you don’t really need an app to play outside, and we teaching kids the opposite.

 

the predicted rise of ar and outside play

in 2015, dr. yoni freedhoff, a family doctor and assistant professor of family medicine at the university of ottawa, predicted that augmented reality (ar) would help rejuvenate “exer-gaming,” the marriage of exercise and gaming. freedhoff was very enthusiastic about this, and claimed that we needed it to make the outdoors more lucrative and attractive to children.

in another article, freedhoff was even more direct, saying, “kids will play outside again, but not unless we can make outside better.”

technologically tricking kids to play outside

true to dr. freedhoff’s prediction, we set off to “trick” kids into playing outside using ar. there are lots of ways we trick our kids into playing outside, of course. ar is probably the most famous, though, especially since pokémon go hit the app store. arguably the biggest mobile game in history, pokémon go has driven families out in droves to catch the little monsters. this has been a somewhat controversial game, though, with many people throwing caution to the wind and ignoring their surroundings while they tried to collect items and capture pokémon. our own christine chan would probably disagree with me that this revolution is a bad thing, given her own perspective on the crowds joining in friendly banter when searching for pokémons. read on, though, because we’re not done yet.

there are definitely other ways we try to use smartphones to encourage outside play, though. apparently, “smart playgrounds” have become a thing. these outdoor locations feature qr codes on various rides and activity centers. when scanned, the qr codes send parents or kids to web pages and apps that encourage more interactivity. i still struggle to understand why kids would need a qr code to teach them how to enjoy a playground, but maybe that’s where we’ve gone.

the case for disconnecting from technology once in a while

reliance on smartphones for every aspect of our lives, even our play time, isn’t healthy. we’ve all seen the reports of how people are actually less connected now, even though we’re more connected than ever. this contradiction, what the independent calls “the loneliness epidemic,” may actually have as serious an impact on our mortality risk as smoking or obesity. a review of recent research showed the increased likelihood of premature death was 26 percent for reported loneliness, 29 percent for social isolation, and 32 percent for living alone.

encouraging these disconnects from technology

if our children are going to be saved from those statistics, it has to start with us. we have to encourage healthy disconnects from technology once in a while. i’m not suggesting some draconian measure like banning them from using ar or playing pokémon go, but there have to be limits. i’ve watched my own children spend far too much time on their devices, and have begun to put safeguards in place.

set aside times for play and fellowship without the distraction of technology. read an old-fashioned book together, or take a walk in the park with your iphone left behind in the car. nature, and life in general, has plenty to enjoy, so savor it. learn how to play disc golf, for example. there are even still miniature golf courses out there, too, so take advantage of them before they all dry up and float away.

don’t ignore technological advances altogether, mind you. i still use my smartphone for long hikes, as my primary gps unit. i even enjoy ar once in a while. the key is to make sure you take time to connect in person, without a technological crutch. life becomes much more fulfilling and enriching, and i hope that i’m helping to prevent me and my children from being part of the “loneliness epidemic.” no, kids, you really don’t need an app to play outside.


Information

apply an endless amount of filters to photos, receive two inspirational quotes each day, and improve anything about yourself with today’s collection of apps and games.

all app prices are subject to change at any time and without notice regardless of stated free duration. price changes are solely under the control of the developers.

iphone:

quotes – selected wise sayings ($0.99 → free, 56.5 mb): get inspired by daily quotes with quotes. those looking to start their day on the right foot.

quotes delivers wise and motivating quotes twice a day. simply add the widget to your lock screen or install the app on your apple watch. each quote is accompanied by a handpicked image to really drive the point home. quotes and their images can be saved and used however you wish. there’s also an option to create your own images for quotes.

quotes – selected wise sayings is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 6 ratings.

filterloop infinite – instant analog photo effect ($0.99 → free, 41.8 mb): tap to change your photo with filterloop infinite. those who don’t like to mess around.

as its name alludes, filterloop infinite provides an endless source of edits for your photos. just tap to apply a random retro or analog effect. if you don’t like what you see, tap again. you’re able to adjust the intensity of the effect by swiping left and right across the photo.

filterloop infinite – instant analog photo effect is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4-star rating with a total of 34 ratings.

universal:

gardenscapes – new acres ($1.99 → free, 175.2 mb): restore a garden to its former glory in gardenscapes. fans of matching games.

leave the city behind and rebuild your uncle’s once great garden by matching colorful fruits, flowers, seeds, and herbs. swipe to swap tiles and create matches of three or more. larger matches will create special power-ups that’ll help you achieve your goals before running out of moves. if you’re successful, your reward will be new items to decorate your garden. the game includes hundreds of levels, a fun cast of characters, and the ability to become neighbors with your facebook friends.

gardenscapes – new acres is available for free today only (02/24). it has a 4-star rating with a total of 31463 ratings.

mini tank battle – tiny tanks of world war 3 ($1.99 → free, 134.2 mb): save cities from the rebel army in mini tank battle. fans of fast action.

today only: disable ads free of charge! simply tap the “remove ads” button on the launch screen and confirm your action.

welcome to the 22nd century. ww3 has completely changed the landscape, with most countries of the world being wiped out along with almost every ounce of civility. the panzer revolution army has conquered most of the world, and only you can push back with your super tank known as warhammer. move around the battlefields using a joystick and tap to fire at your enemies. you’re able to switch between weapons on the fly, and after each battle you can upgrade your tank to become stronger, faster, and deadlier. the game includes 50 cities to save.

mini tank battle – tiny tanks of world war 3 is available for free for a limited time. it has a 5-star rating with a total of 28 ratings.

sketch me! sketch&cartoon ($1.99 → free, 13.7 mb): turn your photos into drawings, cartoons, or sketches with sketch me. anyone who wants to give their photos a completely different look.

sketch me doesn’t require a lot of tinkering. all you need to do is import a photo from your library or take a new one from within the app. then tap on one of the 19 effects and enjoy the results. if you choose to, you can adjust other parameters like contrast and brightness. sketch me also includes 18 shapes that can be applied in order to show off the distinct effects.

sketch me! sketch&cartoon is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 218 ratings.

perfect me – the best manager self-control and daily tasks. ($1.99 → free, 17.3 mb): improve anything and everything about yourself with perfect me. those who want to push themselves to get something done.

perfect me is all about self improvement. the idea is to create a list of things you want to accomplish each day. your list can be as long or as short as you wish. then choose a convenient time to review your list, and you’ll receive a push notification. go through each item on your list answering if you’ve completed it or not. the app keeps track of how efficient you’ve been through general stat tracking and a calendar.

perfect me – the best manager self-control and daily tasks. is available for free today only (02/24). it has a 4-star rating with a total of 19 ratings.

ipad:

feed-’em fred (the chef of dread) interactive storybook (for ipad) ($0.99 → free, 87.7 mb): feed-‘em fred is a rhyming storybook with a positive message. parents who want to establish good eating habits for their child.

this wacky interactive storybook tells the tale of a boy who just won’t eat his fruits and vegetables. at least not until he meets a chef with a rather horrible recipe book. the rhyming story hums along with professional narration, or your child can read all on their own. all 28 pages are loaded with interactive items to discover and animations to activate.

feed-’em fred (the chef of dread) interactive storybook (for ipad) is available for free for a limited time. it has a 4.5-star rating with a total of 15 ratings.

that concludes today’s issue of apps gone free. if you like staying on top of these daily deals, don’t forget to check out our free appsgonefree app. it provides all the deals each day, and even an archive of past deals that are still active.

developers:

if you are a developer who would like to get your app included in our “apps gone free” daily lists, here’s our basic set of rules:

  • it must have at least a three-star average rating at the time it goes free.
  • the app must not have been free numerous times (3+) over the last six months.
  • the free version of your app must not include ads.

to submit an app, simply send a request to [email protected] with the subject “apps gone free.” please include the name of the app, a link to it in the app store, when and for how long you intend to offer the app for free, and anything else you would like to share. we will take it from there.


Information

the zagg slim book, the ultra-slim tablet keyboard & detachable case is a product worth checking out. i received one in the 9.7-inch ipad pro size for hands-on review, and my colleague bryan wolfe received the 12.9-inch ipad pro version.

the slim book consists of two separate pieces. one piece is a basic case, a shell that fits snugly onto the ipad. it’s specially designed to fit perfectly with the other piece, the bluetooth keyboard. the case slides securely into the keyboard two ways: facing the keyboard, so you can use it like a laptop, or facing away from the keyboard, so you can use the keyboard as a stable base when watching videos.

your viewing angles are unlimited between zero and 135°, like a laptop. whichever way you put the slim book together, you can place it the angle of your choice. zagg claims the battery lasts up to two years with normal usage. i didn’t test it out for two years, but in the three weeks i tested it out daily, i never charged it nor ran out of power.

the keyboard is backlit. you can adjust the backlight through three different brightness levels and seven different colors.

what we liked

bryan and i both liked using the slim book. i found it so laptop-like that my fingers kept trying to locate the trackpad. i had to keep reminding myself that i was using an ipad and could touch the screen. the keyboard looks so much like my macbook’s keyboard, and functionality is much the same.

while i found myself primarily using the case and keyboard attached in the traditional laptop mode, i like having the option to pull them apart and use the ipad handheld in its case. it’s also nice to be able to put the ipad in “backwards” for video-watching or even folding it flat backwards for reading a book. the keyboard has two small tabs which fit into the matching holes in the case.

i am notoriously klutzy, and i dropped my ipad while in the slim book once or twice. while the case did come detached from the keyboard, both the slim book and the ipad came out unscathed.

bryan added, “the 12.9-inch ipad pro is expensive, and it’s important to protect this investment with a cover. though apple’s smart keyboard works beautifully, its casing is flimsy, at best. the zagg case is durable, and i love the keyboard.”

what we didn't like

it would be nice if you could insert the ipad into the keyboard vertically as well as horizontally, but that’s a minor quibble. i’d like to see the use of the smart connector rather than relying on bluetooth, but i believe that’s up to apple to decide who is allowed to use that technology. i’d also like to see this offered in other colors besides black.

the only disadvantage bryan saw was the bulk: “yes, it adds some weight, but it seems worth it.” i also noticed the extra weight it adds, but i think it’s fair given how much-added protection you get.

bottom line

overall, the slim book is an excellent product. if you use your ipad in many situations and typing on the virtual keyboard isn’t ideal, you’ll want to take a look at the slim book. it’s about as close to a laptop as you can get with an ipad and bluetooth keyboard.


Information

5g speed requirements have finally been addressed.

verizon’s doing it; at&t is too. but, there’s just one problem. to date, there hasn’t been an official definition for 4g’s successor, 5g. that’s now changed, according to macworld.

 

on feb. 23, the international telecommunication union (itu) published 13 technical requirements for next-generation networks. the itu is the united nations agency tasked with setting rules for radio spectrum usage and telecommunications interoperability.

for consumers who will eventually be using 5g speed requirements are perhaps most important.

as macworld notes:

among the requirements are peak download speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second and peak upload speeds of up to 10 gbps.

we all know that those “up to” speeds are rarely seen outside the marketing department, so the itu has helpfully set out what we should expect to see in the real world. users should experience typical download speeds of 100 megabits per second, and typical upload speeds of 50 mbps, it said.

earlier this week, verizon announced plans to begin 5g testing in 11 u.s. cities later this year. at the time of the announcement, verizon hadn’t yet commented on what kind of speeds the pilot cities will be experiencing.

at&t is also working on a 5g framework, which it expects to deliver speeds between 10 and 100 times faster than today’s average 4g lte connectivity.

in january, both intel and at&t announced plans to bring faster 5g mobile data speeds to consumers in the near future. intel revealed a new 5g modem, which the tech company hopes will drive an accelerated move toward new 5g standards.

at&t, on the other hand, is planning its own roadmap and testing plan for the inevitability of next-generation 5g mobile data, without waiting for a standard at all.

the u.s. federal communications commission (fcc) began working on 5g specifications last year. like the itu, it expects the first 5g networks to go live in 2020.


Information

amazon is offering the iclever boost strip today for just $16 when you use the promo code ic3a4ups at checkout.

iclever boost

the iclever booststrip is ideal for putting on your desk or your nightstand. it features four usb ports and three power outlets which pretty much means you can charge all of your devices. what’s even cooler is the little groove in the middle that lets you rest your smartphone.

at 1250w, this little strip can charge up all your devices and even power up your computer and monitor.

just be sure to use the promo code ic3a4ups.


Information

arriving just late last month, the great sketchbook app linea has just received a nice update with the move to version 1.0.2.

tilt time

the major addition in the update is tilt support for the apple pencil that can add a new layer to drawings. here’s what users can now accomplish with each tool when tilting the pencil:

  • technical pencil – a smooth, faded stroke along the edge of hard lead
  • art pencil – soft, wide shading that varies with both size settings & pressure
  • pen – flat nib great for hard edges or calligraphic writing
  • marker – wide flat stroke perfect for coloring large areas of the screen
  • eraser – flat oval instead of a round tip for erasing

users can now also move sketches from one project folder to another. you’ll need to long press a drawing on the project view and the select move.

a new sketch can now also be created within a canvas without needing to leave the current drawing. select more actions and then new sketch. the blank canvas is preset with current grid and background settings.

finally, with the new presentation mode, you can show off drawings on the apple tv via airplay or a lightning-to-hdmi adapter. the mode is available to select in the more actions menu.

download now

designed for all models of the ipad, linea can be downloaded now on the app store for $9.99.

even if you’re not a true artist, linea is one of the best sketching apps available, especially if you use the apple pencil.


Information

on what would have been steve jobs’ 62nd birthday, tim cook took to twitter to remember the former apple ceo and co-founder.

remembering steve

the current apple ceo remembered jobs with a great quote. jobs passed away in 2011 after battling pancreatic cancer.

earlier this week, apple announce that its “spaceship” campus, originally envisioned by jobs, now has an official name – apple park. the facility opens its doors to employees in april.

to honor jobs, the facility’s new theater will be officially named the steve jobs theater. opening later in the year, the 1,000-seat theater will include a 20-foot-tall glass cylinder at its entrance, 165 feet in diameter, which supports a metallic carbon-fiber roof.

keeping it simple

and to celebrate the occasion, homage has just introduced a great t-shirt with a famous phrase that appeared on one of apple’s first marketing brochures – “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

the long-sleeve shirt can be purchased now for $38 from the site.


Information

printing on paper might be a dying process, but it’s something that’s still needed at certain times. whether it’s for printing a letter, a photo, or something as simple as a boarding pass, we sometimes need that physical piece of paper to get the job done. some of the most popular printers on the market are those which support apple airprint. we’ve collected the best airprint printers that will allow you to print the documents you want wirelessly with the push of a button.


Information

when apple music first came out, i had high hopes for connect, the social media attachment to the new streaming service. unfortunately, connect just didn’t cut the mustard, and i continued seeking new ways to discover music. recently, a new app has been released, and it seems to be doing everything right. let’s take a look at recordbird.

where apple went wrong

the problem with apple music connect was that it was too dependent on the artists to post regular updates. sure, some did exactly that, but the service quickly fell by the wayside. it didn’t take long for cupertino to realize it had failed once again, demoting the app’s dedicated tab to a section within the “for you” section of apple music.

recordbird - a great way to discover music

recordbird is a music discovery and sharing platform like none other. it brings you a complete feed of every new release you care about, and more. if an artist releases a new youtube video, you’ll get that, too. you get a daily feed of new music, and you can share it via facebook or any other app that supports share sheet extensions. it’s been built around the discovery of new music, so you can open it every day and find something new. once a new album has been dropped, you can tap on a link to buy it, and you can set calendar events to remind you when upcoming releases are available. recordbird works with apple music or spotify, so it can even search your cloud libraries for the artists you love. as if that wasn’t enough, recordbird also suggests new musicians to you, based on the artists you already have in your music library.

start discovering music with recordbird

recordbird is available for free on the app store, with no in-app purchases. it requires ios 8.0 or later, and runs on the iphone, ipad, and ipod touch. it works with both apple music and spotify subscriptions, so you can discover new artists based on your listening habits no matter which source you get your tunes from.


Information

lit the torch by beijing corn network technology co.,ltd. icon

lit the torch ($0.99) by beijing corn network technology co.,ltd. is a unique puzzle platformer with a fun twist that is unlike most you’ve tried so far. if you enjoyed games like badland 2 and le parker: sous chef extraordinaire, then you will like what lit the torch has to offer on the app store.

with so much going on these days, i find my solace in spending time with my boyfriend and playing video games to take my mind off of everything. a lot of my gaming is on the ps4 lately, but every now and then i return to my iphone for gaming, specifically of the puzzle variety. i also grew up with platformers of all kinds, so naturally, when the two genres are combined, i can’t help but have the curiosity to check it out for myself, which is what happened with lit the torch. if you’re looking for a special kind of puzzle platformer to sink your teeth into this weekend, then lit the torch will not disappoint.

visually speaking, lit the torch is downright stunning with a beautiful art style that is incredibly detailed. the game carries a somewhat dark and gloomy aesthetic that is full of soft, muted colors as well as darker and richer hues in the environment. there’s a minimalistic and flat look and feel to everything since it’s all done in 2-d, but the textures and other fine details are all present. the main character, a “night watch,” has a rather cute sprite that reminds me a bit of the protagonist in limbo due to the glowing white eyes, but naturally, the night watch has a bit more life and personality flowing through her. animations in lit the torch are smooth and fluid, though sometimes i felt that the movement of the night watch uphill was a bit slow, which gets annoying. lit the torch also features an ambient and atmospheric soundtrack that is a delight to listen to, so i recommend a good pair of headphones while you play this game. it’s rather soothing, adds to the overall tone of the game, and helps you focus on the puzzles that are at hand. as the developer’s first release on the app store, lit the torch is a nice treat in the visual and audio department for puzzle platformer fans.

as per typical puzzle platformer fare, lit the torch is level-based. at the moment, there are 41 stages that are spread out across six different worlds, so there is plenty of content available for the price. like many other games, players must go through each level in chronological order, so the game is fairly linear in that fact, but the game mechanics can be anything but. as a night watch, the objective is pretty straightforward: light all of the torches with your flaming hair, but things aren’t as easy as they seem. the night watch must get past obtrusive obstacles to reach the altar torches, and use their power to navigate a shattered, alternate timeline in order to get where they need to go.

lit the torch by beijing corn network technology co.,ltd. screenshot

the control scheme in lit the torch is simple and intuitive. in the bottom left corner are two directional buttons for moving left and right. in the bottom right corner are your buttons for jumping and activating the portal, which is your night watch burning a hole through time essentially to view different altar placements in the past. once the portal is activated, you can drag the window around on the screen with your finger to reveal many hidden secrets on the stage that you’ll need to use to achieve your goal. eventually, you’ll also encounter other things, such as switches, that your night watch can interact with just by moving on top of the object.

as i mentioned, the controls are easy enough for anyone to understand, but it does take a few moments to get used to. you’ll have to constantly toggle the portal and move it around to reveal hidden areas that will help you solve the puzzles, and make sure that you don’t lose your place on platforms. but once you get the hang of things, the game is surprisingly satisfying.

i’m still pretty early on in lit the torch, but so far i have enjoyed the game. it’s definitely something that’s different on the app store, which is always refreshing to see these days. the graphics are gorgeous, the music is charming, and the controls are easy enough for anyone to learn on the fly. if you’re a fan of puzzle platformer games in general, then lit the torch is one that you should check out this weekend.

lit the torch is available on the app store as a universal download for just $0.99. there are no in-app purchases.


Information

sling tv is making it more affordable for subscribers to add more channels to their streaming bundles. the company recently announced that both sling blue and sling orange customers can now subscribe to four additional add-on packages – kids extra, news extra, comedy plus extra, and lifestyle plus extra – for just $10 more per month instead of the usual $20 fee.

discount time

combined, those four extra packages provide an additional 38 channels to the base packages and includes notable names like disney jr., mtv, hln, vh1, the hallmark channel, spike and many others.

that’s a great deal and allows subscribers more flexibility, and a lower cost of entry, compared to other live streaming tv services like playstation vue or directv now.

a free starz preview weekend

and as part sling’s second birthday celebration, all subscribers can take advantage of a free preview of premium channel starz through sunday, feb. 26.

there are two major sling orange only allows one device to be viewing content and includes 28 live tv channels including big names like espn, cnn, bbc america, amc, lifetime, tnt, and tbs. you can subscribe after the free trial for $20 per month. if you’re looking to watch more than one stream at a time, the sling blue service offers 44 channels for $25 per month. you can also subscribe to both options to receive all of the available channels.

you can signup for a free, seven-day trial here to check the service out.

sling tv can be viewed on the apple tv, iphone, ipad, and mac. a dvr service is on the map for apple tv users and should arrive after being rolled out to roku and android devices.


Information