This week, I’m reviewing this very stylish, but not very functionable, Retro Camera Case from Freshfiber. It’s a quirky way to dress up your iPhone and give it some of the same mechanical functions as an old school camera, but it’s really not too practical when it comes to actually protecting your iPhone. Read on.
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I generally tend to gravitate towards these kinds of cases because they’re just so cool looking in the press pictures. But I know how everyone feels about their iPhone and this is not a case I would recommend if you’re prone to dropping your phone. The nylon material is flexible and can handle a few falls, but there are too many moving parts on this case for it to be practical. Moving parts, you ask? Well…
The Retro Camera Case features a sliding door for your iPhone lens and a rotating fake “adjustable zoom” lens, but it’s all for gimmicks. Unlike a majority of Android phones on the market, the iPhone’s lens is protected by a layer of glass so there’s no real practicality behind a lens cover. It’s all for the fun of it. And as I’ve reiterated in the last two paragraphs or so (and the last sentence), this case is just so very fun.
In fact, you could easily hook up a camera strap to the loops on each side and wear it around your neck like a real iPhone photographer. At least the front part of your iPhone is protected by the fabric on your stomach, presuming you’re wearing a shirt that day.
The case actually clamps on to the iPhone rather strongly, though that camera strap loop prevents it from being docked with the case on. The Retro Camera Case also takes some effort to put on and take off, and the resistance is inconvenient when just want to bump some jams on your iPhone stereo. That does mean that it’s really got a hold on your device, though, which bodes well for a case that’s supposed to be protective.
The bottom line. The Retro Camera Case is cute for hipsters and their friends to play with, but if you’re looking for something stylish and protective, there are other options out there. 3/5, €39,95/~$52 USD
Launch Dine-o-Matic, and you’re asked to tell it your favorite restaurants (or let the handy GPS feature help you quickly locate them). When you’re done, or anytime thereafter, tap the plate to get your pick and watch Dine-o-Matic spin up it’s FTL (food type locator) and jumps you right to a random selection. Then you can call to make a reservation, get directions, or just grab your wallet and head out to eat. That’s it. That’s all. You’re good to go.
If you want to constrain your choices, you can choose the dollar range — between $ cheap and $$$ pricy, or any combination of those — right below the spinner.
Once you get your pick you can call or get directions, via the Maps app, with just a tap. If you later want to edit your restaurant list, or add more restaurants, that’s just a tap away as well. If a restaurant closes or falls out of your favor, you can swipe-to-delete it and remove it from the list.
Unfortunately, because Maps pulls its data from Google, you’re constrained by the quality of Google’s results in your areas. That could be great, or it could be less than great. Mine were mixed. You can, however, easily edit restaurant data and even categorize your favorite places. (If only Google were that smart!)
Dine-o-Matic comes from the Icon Factory, the brilliant minds behind apps like Twitterrific, Frenzic, and Ramp Champ to name but a few. Dine-o-Matic exemplifies the style and simplicity that are Icon Factory trademarks, but it takes both to the extreme.
Originally a Mac OS X Dashboard widget, Dine-o-Matic works as an iPhone app but it’s so simple, so single purpose, that it really re-opens the debate for widgets in iOS. Apple has added them to Siri and Notification Center but so far third-party apps can’t hook into them, unless you’re jailbroken.
That’s a pity. Something like Dine-o-Matic would feel right at home there. Just pull down the Notification Center shade, or swipe to a widget screen, and get your pick.
Dine-o-Matic is a gorgeously rendered, frustration-saving app with a simple goal — to randomly pick for you a place for you to eat from among your favorite restaurants. If you’ve ever had knock-down, drag-out fight — or the opposite, a passive-aggressive, responsibility-abdicating argument — with your friends, family, and loved ones over where to eat — and I have — letting a machine decide can be a welcome alternative. Heck, even if you’re just too tired or indecisive to choose a place to grab some takeout, letting Dine-o-Matic do it is a godsend.
Note: Due to an editorial error an incomplete version of this review was briefly published earlier today. We apologize and regret any inconvenience this may have caused the Icon Factory or the readers.
Still waiting for a swanky new Mac to call your very own? You may have a bit of a wait ahead of you, judging from a new report claiming that Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors will be delayed until “after June.”
MacRumors is reporting that Intel has begun notifying its partners of a delay in “mass availability” of the forthcoming Ivy Bridge processor, which is believed to be what Apple will use in this year’s Mac systems, replacing last year’s Sandy Bridge architecture, which Intel apparently has in abundance.
“Intel recently notified its partners about plans to postpone mass shipments of its upcoming Ivy Bridge processors,” a report from DigiTimes reveals. “Despite that the company will still announce the new products and ship a small volume of the processors in early April, mass shipments are not expected to occur until after June, according to sources from notebook players.”
While its possible that Apple could have already snapped up the “small volume” of processors being shipped in early April, the rumored MacBook Pro redesign that’s pegged for early this year would likely ship in larger quantities, especially if the high-end notebook slims down like the MacBook Air, as widely anticipated.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
If you have been waiting for Apple to release a version of iMessage for Mac then that day has just become a lot closer. After the release of the beta of OS X Mountain Lion earlier today, Apple has followed it up with the release of a beta version of its new Mac Messages app. Messages, which will replace the current iChat app, brings all of the great features of iMessage to your Mac while keeping many that made iChat great as well.
Messages for Mac works just like it does on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, running iOS 5. You can send and receive unlimited messages across all of your supported Apple devices. All of your devices will receive the same messages, and copies of messages that you have sent from other devices, so all of your chat messages are in the same place and in-sync, no matter which device you have in your hand at the time. You can start an iMessage conversation on your Mac, continue it on your iPad then finish it on your iPhone or iPod touch while on the go.
Just like the iOS 5 version of iMessage, Messages also lets you send photos, videos, file attachments, contacts, locations and even start a FaceTime call right from the app. Messages also supports a host of other chat services like AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk and Jabber. The Messages app is available today as a public beta so anyone with a Mac running Lion 10.7.3 can give it a whirl.
Many of us no doubt still recall that first dazzling sensation of identifying a song at a coffee shop or on the radio with Shazam — it felt like magic, or at least the closest an iOS app can come to that. All props due to that innovative leader, which still leads in the market in terms of name recognition, as it’s now being used for marketing purposes via commercial jingles and the like.
But in terms of helpful features and speed of use, it’s hard not to shine a spotlight on SoundHound as the best in the genre. Like Shazam, SoundHound can “listen” to a song over the air and in most cases identify it correctly, but this alternative option can do it in as few as four seconds, saving you precious moments of staring at a screen while the app considers the options.
Still, our favorite function of SoundHound is its exclusive ability to recognize songs that you hum or sing. Got a song stuck in your head and can’t place the artist or title? Sing it to SoundHound and see what pops up. It’s not as effective as trying to ID the actual studio recording, but the sheer fact that it can do it at all is downright impressive, and it’s better than searching for snippets of lyrics online.
SoundHound is also deeply integrated with other music services, letting you quickly access songs and ringtones via iTunes, launch a Pandora station based on the artist in question, look up tour dates and lyrics, and check out the most popular bands and tracks. It’s a music discovery service in more ways than one! The universal app is available in an ad-supported free version, as well as SoundHound ∞, a $6.99 premium version with additional features.
The Best is a new weekly column in which we spotlight the most helpful or impressive iOS app to fit a certain need, whether it’s a part of your day-to-day life or just something cool that might come in handy down the line.
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Simply tap the large orange button to start the process. You can capture audio playing from a speaker or in a public place, or even sing or hum into your phone to try and identify a song.
The longer you sing or play the music, the better shot SoundHound will have at correctly locating the song in question. But you can ID tracks in as little as four seconds.
Once the song is located, SoundHound will give you a variety of options, from streaming a sample to buying the song, playing a Pandora station, or watching YouTube clips. And if you have the song on your device already, you can easily play it from there.
Scrolling lyrics keep up with the song, letting you learn the words as you listen without any manual input.
On iPad, the listening feature is permanently docked in landscape view, making it easier to ID several songs at once and read all about them.
Charts on both iPad and iPhone detail the hottest and most popular tracks, but also let you scope out the next big thing: songs that SoundCloud users are hyped on, but traditional radio hasn’t grabbed onto quite yet.
PolyMagic is a fantastic little iPhone and iPad app that lets you create interesting collages of photos. Most similar apps only allow rectangular frames around each photo, but PolyMagic is filled with frames that are shaped like polygons, making your collages truly unique.
Creating a collage is very a simple and intuitive task. After choosing your photos, just grab a vertex and slide it around to the location you think looks best. PolyMagic has 66 layouts that the creators believe to be aesthetically pleasing, but they also allow you to adjust them how you want.
With apps like Instagram, square cropping has become very popular and many collage apps only offer squared. PolyMagic, however, offers 6 different ratios and will let you drag the boarders into any dimensions you wish. The most recent update of PolyMagic also introduced some basic photo editing features into the app. Now you can make edits such as enhance, effects, saturation, brightness, contrast, text, and drawing.
Once your done with your collage, you can easily and quickly export directly into Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumbler.
Selecting good photos that compliment each other for collages is already a challenge, and PolyMagic has made this creative element even more challenging — but if you do it right, you can obtain some wonderfully artistic results.
PolyMagic is free for a very limited time, so make sure you grab it before the sale ends! After you do, head on over to our Photography forum and show off your great collages!
You’ve got to hand it to Apple: They may not move quickly when a storm rolls into their domain, but when they do finally speak up, it’s decisive and gets the job done. Today it’s the drama surrounding contacts privacy, sparked by the Path app last week, which Apple plans to fix at the operating system level with a forthcoming update. But who can get excited about that when we’ve got a new Smurfs app, am I right? Read on to find out the rest of the day’s news for Wednesday, February 15, 2012.
Just about everyone has chimed in on the subject of Path and contacts privacy, with some corners of the tech journalism world even turning the debate into a frat boy-style food fight between themselves. One entity we haven’t heard from is Apple, the company whose App Store made it possible for Path to gobble up users’ contact data without permission in the first place. That changed today, with AllThingsD reporting that Apple agrees that the privacy gaffe is serious, and intends to do something about it. “Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines*,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD. “We’re working to make this even better for our customers, and as we have done with location services, any app wishing to access contact data will require explicit user approval in a future software release.” As it turns out, Apple’s response comes right on the heels of a formal inquiry by Congress on the subject — talk about dodging a bullet in Cupertino!
Who’s ready to Smurf it up? Those loveable little blue boys (and one girl!) are back, courtesy of zuuka’s iStoryTime division. The Smurfs Classic Series brings the original storybooks into the digital realm, optimized for iOS with animation, sound effects and the ability for the reader to record their own voice for personalized narration. “Now that the classics are available, parents from around the world can enjoy sharing the stories they loved growing up with their children from the convenience of their iPad, iPhone or iPod touch,” said Woody Sears, founder of zuuka. The free universal app includes the first tale, “The Giant Smurf,” which means that, before you know it, you’ll be dropping $2.99 via in-app purchase to enjoy each of the other classic tales on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. The Smurfs Classic Series is available now from the App Store and is compatible with all devices running iOS 4.2 or later.
Well, that was quick! After announcing on Monday that Apple was voluntarily subjecting its Chinese manufacturing plants to inspection by the Fair Labor Association, the FLA is already chiming in with an initial “all clear” at the first one, Foxconn. According to Reuters, the FLA found that working conditions there “are far better than those at garment factories or other facilities elsewhere in the country,” despite a rash of worker suicides and plant explosions. “The facilities are first-class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm,” noted FLA president Auret van Heerden, who also suggested that “boredom and alienation” could have contributed to the aforementioned worker suicides. “I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory,” he said. “So the problems are not the intensity and burnout and pressure-cooker environment you have in a garment factory. . It’s more a function of monotony, of boredom, of alienation perhaps.” Around 30 FLA staff members are currently inspecting two Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengu, where each plant staffs around 100,000 workers. The inspections will eventually expand to other Apple suppliers, including Quanta Computer Inc., Pegatron Corp. and Wintek Corp in the weeks to come.
Research in Motion could certainly use some good news these days, and finally, this week they’re getting some. According to AppleInsider, the company’s much-maligned BlackBerry PlayBook tablet has finally captured a 15 percent share of the market, reducing the iPad’s to a mere 68 percent. In what alternate universe is this occurring? Why, RIM’s home turf: Canada! The figures come courtesy of Toronto-based market research firm Solutions Research Group, who notes in The Globe and Mail that the PlayBook increased its share of the tablet market in Canada by 10 percent thanks to steep discounts on the beleaguered hardware. Android tablets are also credited with eroding some of Apple’s lead up north with the iPad, which has dropped from 86 percent to 68 percent since last fall. The data comes from a survey of 1,000 Canadians, many of whom are undoubtedly waiting anxiously for that PlayBook 2.0 software update so they can finally email their American friends from the tablet rather than having to tether it to their BlackBerry each time.
AdAge is reporting that Apple “is once again slashing the minimum amount it charges advertisers to run a campaign on its iAd mobile ad system and boosting the amount it pays mobile app developers.” After launching with a $1 million buy-in price in 2010 which quickly dropped to $500,000 and then $300,000, “advertisers will now have to spend just $100,000 for Apple mobile campaigns running in iPhone and iPad apps.” App developers will also get a bigger slice of the pie, with 70 percent of ad revenues for iAds included in their app versus the previous 60 percent. So what’s to blame for the changes, two years after iAd was launched to great fanfare? “Apple has been losing share in the mobile-ad market,” the report reveals, “threatening the business and app developers’ ability to make money from advertising.” Google is still the king when it comes to mobile ads with a 24 percent share of the $630 million market over the last year, up from 19 percent the previous year. Apple’s share declined from 19 percent in 2010 to only 15 percent today — not really a surprise, considering the insane number of Android smartphones worldwide.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
It has been a busy week thus far for Apple news and we’ve managed to post a lot of stuff up for you all. If you happened to miss out on anything, be sure to get yourself caught up. Once you’re done that, if you’re still looking for more iOS goodness then check out the iMore forums. You can register now to get started today and while you’re at it, check out some of the threads below:
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