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When Freemium's Good, It's Very Good and When It's Bad, It's Horrid
December 19, 2013
When I read a new report on app store trends for 2013 recently, my most irritating fear was confirmed: The freemium app business model has not only won the app sales model, it has handily crushed the paid app model -- squeezed it down into a tiny sliver of relative revenue. The results are so tilted that even more new apps will apparently be written entirely with the freemium model in mind.
'Anchorman' Scotchy Toss App Might Be Better After a Shot or 2
December 16, 2013
One of the best side effects of Apple's app ecosystem is spinoffs -- in addition to great games and apps for most everything imaginable, successful franchises can create apps to keep stoking the adoration of fans. If you haven't noticed the invasion of Duck Dynasty-branded merchandise in department stores everywhere, you might have stumbled upon the surprisingly delightful Battle of the Beards app.
Instagram Hitches Wagon to Private Messaging
December 12, 2013
Instagram has dipped its toes into private-photo and video messaging waters. Instagram Direct allows the community's more than 150 million monthly active users to send photos and videos within a group. The process of sending a private message works just like posting a photo or video publicly: Take a new photo or upload an existing one, slap on a filter and effects, and add a caption and tags.
Free Mobile Streaming Hits the Spotify
December 12, 2013
Spotify announced Wednesday that it is offering a new free mobile streaming option to listeners, a move that could help it compete in the evolving digital entertainment space. Mobile users previously were limited to the Spotify Premium plan, which provides streaming access on phones or tablets for $9.99 per month. Spotify also announced the addition of Led Zeppelin to its content lineup.
Hour of Code Aims to Take the Mystery Out of Computer Science
December 10, 2013
More than 5 million students in 167 countries are getting at least one hour of computer coding instruction this week as part of Code.org's Hour of Code initiative, an event designed to promote computer science in educational curricula worldwide. Code.org is providing educators with the resources they need to give students an introductory computer science lesson.
Turn Your World Into Vibrant Comic Life
December 10, 2013
Comic Life's latest incarnation has some really useful new additions: a script editor, new filters, a background knockout feature and some new fill options. With great new features, though, come greater complexity and greater demands on screen real estate, which can make the software more difficult to use for newbies and challenging to manage on Macs with smaller screens.
Tweetbot 3 Makes Your Twitter Timeline a Thing of Beauty
December 09, 2013
Let's get this clear up front: I am not a Twitter expert. I've used multiple accounts for different purposes; I enjoy following a few personalities; I like searching through Twitter. Until now, I've rarely bothered to tweet or mess with Twitter on my iPhone or iPad, preferring to use the standard browser-based method on my Mac. I know I'm missing out, though.
Apple's iBeacon to Follow iPhone-Toting Customers Around Stores
December 06, 2013
Apple has taken a step toward a more interactive shopping experience, activating iOS 7's iBeacon technology at its 254 U.S. retail outlets. It was to start providing information about in-store products and services directly to customers' iPhones, based on their location within the store, on Friday. The iBeacon technology allows Apple to target iPhones within a centimeter.
Mailplane Gives Gmail a Nice Lift
December 03, 2013
Gmail may not be the prettiest email program in the world. Yahoo Mail is easier on the eye. Microsoft's Outlook online has a clean and modern appeal. Nevertheless, many of us use Gmail -- warts and all -- so any app that adds utility to the Google offering can be worthwhile. Mailplane has been around for six years, but its developers have given it a makeover in this latest edition.
Zamurai Whiteboard App Makes Brainstorming a Breeze
December 02, 2013
If you've spent a good portion of your life sitting around a table with colleagues who need to plan and strategize, then you've likely used old-school markers to jot notes on sheets of white paper -- or on dry-erase whiteboards. There is a better way. Enter Zamurai Mobile Whiteboard for iOS, a well-designed app that lets you drag and drop handy and commonly used icons onto your whiteboard.
Clumsy Ninja May Tug Your Heartstrings
November 25, 2013
NaturalMotion first wowed Apple fans at last year's September Apple event with a tantalizing demo of a new game, Clumsy Ninja, which was teased to hit iOS sometime during the 2012 holiday season. Santa came and went, and no little kids played Clumsy Ninja. And then boom, Apple reveals Clumsy Ninja as an Editor's Choice app in the iTunes App Store with, get this, a video trailer.
Macy's Dips Toes in Brave New Marketing World
November 22, 2013
Blaring bargain news over PA systems may become a thing of the past if a pilot project launched Thursday by Macy's and Shopkick catches on with the brick-and-mortar set. The companies are conducting the experiments in Macy's San Francisco and New York City stores. The pilot feeds deal and discount information to shoppers as they roam through a store.
FiftyThree's iPad Pencil Makes Artistic Point
November 20, 2013
FiftyThree, which has earned kudos in the iPad community for its critically acclaimed art app Paper, has moved into the hardware business with a new stylus called "Pencil." The stylus, which looks like a carpenter's pencil, comes in two versions: a graphite offering for $49.95 and a walnut one for $59.95. "Its balance is beautiful," said Mobile Art Academy Education Director Caroline Mustard.
Baseball Simulation App Hits One Out of the Park
November 19, 2013
With the Major League Baseball season over, some fans of the American national pastime have started to suffer from withdrawal symptoms. Others are hashing over the past season and mulling the next in Hot Stove Leagues. Out Of The Park baseball should bring a smile to both these groups of diamond followers. The baseball simulation game lets a baseball fan experience the game from outside the lines.
Apple Sheds Maps Humiliation and Gets the Last Laugh
November 14, 2013
Apple angered millions of iPhone users -- and baffled millions more -- when it ditched the generally functional built-in Google-based Maps app in favor of its own. That was last year, when it introduced iOS 6. Howls of anger rocketed across the Web, and fanboys of other platforms -- including some Apple enthusiasts -- started tracking Apple Maps fails.
Duck Dynasty: Battle of the Beards: Redneckify Yourself
November 11, 2013
Duck Dynasty is an American reality television series on A&E featuring a band of redneck family men who sport ratty beards. They became wealthy by making the popular duck call, Duck Commander, and the reality show itself? It's a wild phenomenon -- the fourth season premiere snagged a whopping 11.8 million viewers. When I saw that the show had a No. 1 paid app game, I had to take a closer look.
iPhone App Points Non-Guzzlers to Alt Fuel Fill 'Er Ups
November 08, 2013
The Department of Energy has developed an iPhone app designed to help drivers locate the nearest alternative fuel stations. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory unveiled the iPhone app Thursday. Users can choose the alternative fuel they need -- electricity, natural gas, biodiesel, E85, propane or hydrogen -- and the app will display the 20 closest stations within a 30-mile radius.
Prophets of Doom Prod Apple to Reveal Its True Self
November 07, 2013
Apple has delivered a delightful mix of products and profits this year, all the while facing skepticism from various quarters over its strategies, plans and abilities to take over the world -- especially the part with low-end, cheap markets. Apple also has been caught up in the scrutiny of tech companies that work with various law enforcement agencies to turn over customer data.
Stop Motion Studio Brings Out the LEGO Moviemaking Geek in All of Us
November 04, 2013
Stop Motion Studio is an app that lets you take photos and string them together to create a stop-motion video. It's super easy, and the results are naturally sort of dorky in an undeniably fun way. The app is free, but before I pulled the trigger on the in-app extras, I saw Stop Motion Studio Pro for $4.99. I promptly deleted the free version and bought the paid Pro version.
Security Flaw Found in 'Staggering Number' of iOS Apps
October 31, 2013
A flaw found in a "staggering number" of apps for the iPhone and iPad could be exploited to send malicious information to the gadgets, researchers at Skycure reported Tuesday. The vulnerability allows enterprising hackers to redirect an app's communication with its appointed server to one operated by nefarious parties. The flaw could affect other mobile platforms too.
New Disney Kids' Show to Get 1st Run on Tablets
October 30, 2013
Disney is giving one of its new children's shows a home on mobile devices before it broadcasts the program via its TV networks. Sheriff Callie's Wild West, the first Western for 2-to-7-year-olds, according to the company, will make its debut on Disney's Watch Disney Junior App on Nov. 24. It will also be available online to viewers who subscribe to certain TV providers' services.
Making Short Spark Videos Is No Fuss, No Muss
October 28, 2013
Yet another video camera app? What gives? Can it really be that cool? To find out what Spark Camera brings to the world, I bought it -- and I was pleasantly surprised. First, the interface is super simple, clean and effective. To start recording, you just put any finger or thumb on the screen and hello, you're recording. Take your finger off the screen, and you stop recording.

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