There are few feelings that will make a person’s heart drop quicker than the dreaded swipe of the credit card that is met with a message of “Declined.” If you’re used to managing your budget the traditional way, you no doubt have a filing cabinet full of unorganized bank statements, pre-approved loan offers, and receipts that you can’t recall why you saved. (Did you really need to make a whole “Bagels” folder for that one time you bought a single bagel?)
While there are a plethora of financial management tools available for your iOS device, no one has yet to come close to the Mint.com Personal Finance app. The main purpose of the app is simple: Make managing your money easy. It does that by offering up an unprecedented list of features to take control of your budget.
Mint.com’s app is the most reliable app on the market, trusted by nearly every financial institution imaginable. You can sync up your savings, checking, credit, PayPal, and most other accounts where you may keep assets — though you’ll have to enter the emergency fund shoebox you keep under the mattress manually. With the constantly updating list of transactions, you’ll know exactly where your finances stand at all times.
The most powerful tools in this Swiss Army knife of an app are the budget planning and monitoring abilities. Mint will automatically organize all spending into a multitude of categories, making it easy to see where cutbacks can take place and savings can be found. Goals can also be set for that added bit of motivation to avoid short term spending (e.g.: buying novelty socks) and look ahead to the future (e.g.: opening your own novelty sock store).
The best part of the entire Mint experience? It’s all completely free. Download it for the iPhone or the iPad and start getting your finances in order.
The Best is a 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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The second the Mint.com app is open, you’ll immediately be greeted with your current financial standings.
Every recorded transaction is automatically organized by category, giving a complete breakdown of all spending done across the board.
If you’d like to see how you’re progressing in your spending habits, the Spending Over Time view gives a great look at habits over time and periods when money has historically been tight.
It’s hard to save money when not enough is coming in, and the Net Income view gives a great look at how your spending habits compare to your earnings.
The Budget overview shows what you’ve set for goals and how you’re progressing toward meeting them.
Take a closer look at every category so you can see exactly where you’ve been sinking your money and what it has cost you.
Ringtonium is the best app for creating custom ringtones — and alert tones — on your iPhone. While record labels are happy to resell you ringtones for the same tracks you’ve already bought — often at the same or even higher prices than the full song — if you don’t mind a few quick steps, you can save some money and get exactly the ringtone you want, exactly the way you want it.
Although there are plenty of ringtone creation apps available in the App Store to do just that, none of them are a well rounded or useful as Ringtonium. The user-interface is extremely easy to use and builds on some of the unique syncing abilities available in iTunes, along with a number of outside apps like SoundCloud, and of course social network sharing.
Upon launching the app you’ll be asked to choose between an existing track from the iPod music library, or creating your own track by using the iPhone’s built-in microphone. Once you’ve got a track to work with, you can then jump into the mix and get into the details with a fine-tuned audio scrubber for selecting your start and stop times. If you need even more control over your start/stop times, Ringtonium offers a dial with the ability to drill down to milliseconds for absolute precision.
If you chose to record from the microphone, the quality is remarkably high and distortion free, even at higher input volumes. That’s surprising and very welcome.
Ringtonium also has an included FX panel where you can add fade in and fade out, adjust the pitch or reverse the audio, and add flange or echo effects. The quality of the included effects are top-notch and Ringtonium lets you go for the longest ringtone duration Apple allows — something most other ringtone apps haven’t caught onto yet.
Ringtonium is simple and easy to use, and best of all saves you money by letting you use your already purchased songs as ringtones. If you’ve been looking for the best ringtone app for your iPhone, look no further than Ringtonium — it’s the best option currently available and excels in every area.
Digital cameras recognize faces as an arrangement of shapes, and they use this to select the best focus and exposure settings for the picture, on the assumption that any faces will be the most important part of the image. Only a few cameras take the next step, which is to try to distinguish one individual from another on the basis of their facial features, but this is the basis of iPhoto’s Faces system.
It works in two stages. First, it scans your photos to see which, if any, have faces in them. It then attempts to group faces by likeness, and match any new faces to those you’ve already identified.
It doesn’t get it right every time, and you have to train it by manually identifying or confirming the identity of your subjects. But it does learn, so that the more you train it, the better it gets at recognizing particular people. Of course, you might go along quite happily without using this Faces feature at all. If you’ve got a library of thousands of photos, the prospect of trawling through them all looking for and identifying every single individual is daunting.
But you don’t have to look for faces throughout your whole library. You can look for specific individuals and ignore the rest. You could even create smaller libraries for this job. Our walkthrough shows one instance where this works very well. It’s a library consisting of old photos scanned in then imported into iPhoto. What iPhoto can do is bring together pictures of people who may appear in dozens of unrelated prints taken over a period of many years. It can also help you identify people based on who they’re with, or by the context they appear in. You can see connections that you wouldn’t spot simply by leafing through prints.
What can be confusing about Faces is that there are different ways to identify and confirm them: from the Faces corkboard via the Find Faces button; by double-clicking a face on the corkboard and checking to see if iPhoto has found additional photos where they might appear; or by opening a photo, displaying the Info panel and seeing who’s been recognized. Each has its pros and cons, but they’re all just different ways of doing the same thing, and it really doesn’t matter which you use.
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Scanning for Faces
When you import photos, iPhoto scans them for faces. This happens in the background, and might only take a minute or so. If you’re upgrading an old library, though, or creating a new one from scratch, this scanning process could take some time.
If you’re using Faces for the first time, clicking Faces in the source panel displays the faces iPhoto has found in sets of three. Click below each one and type in a name, then click the Show More Faces button bottom right to see the next three.
As soon as you start identifying faces, iPhoto displays them on the “corkboard”. This is what you’ll see when you click Faces in the source panel. Now you can click the Find Faces button on the bottom toolbar to go back to the previous screen and carry on identifying faces.
Photos of One Person
Alternatively, say you want to find more photos of a particular person. If you double-click on their face on the corkboard, iPhoto displays thumbnails of pictures where you’ve so far identified them. But it tries to identify other photos it thinks they might be in too.
Photos or Faces
There’s a switch at the top right marked Photos/Faces. Use this to display only faces of the people you’re identifying (see the previous screenshot) or the entire photo they appear in. Click the Confirm Additional Faces button, bottom right, if needed.
Confirm More Faces
iPhoto will display thumbnails of all the other instances where it thinks that person appears. Click on a face to confirm it, and option-click if it’s not the face of that person. You may need to go through this a few times as iPhoto expands the list of possible matches.
Checking Faces in Photos
Now for the third way of adding names to faces; this can be useful with group shots – who else is in the shot can often tell you who the person is. Open the photo as normal and open the Info panel. Recognized faces will then be identified, with their names underneath.
Adding New Faces
You can enter names directly in the boxes below and, if a face hasn’t been identified at all, click the Add a face button in the Info panel, and drag the marquee over the face; resize it by dragging on the corner handles. Now you can type in the appropriate name.
Sometimes iPhoto sees faces where there aren’t any. We don’t know what it saw under this deckchair (creepy!), but it’s certainly not human. If this happens, just click the close box (the cross in a circle) at the top left of the face marquee.
Sure iPhones and iPads are made by Apple, but many if not most iOS users are also Windows users, and just today Microsoft has made their next-generation operating system available for test driving via the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
It’s Windows reimagined and reinvented from a solid core of Windows 7 speed and reliability. It’s an all-new touch interface. It’s a new Windows for new devices. And it’s your chance to be one of the first to try it out.
That all-new touch interface is Metro, brought over from Windows Phone 7 and designed to make everything from ultralight slates to full on desktops are easy and fun to use as Microsoft’s mobile offerings have become.
Microsoft has a lot of good information — and tons of videos — up on their Windows 8 Consumer Preview website, including how to get started, rundowns of all the key features including apps, web, and the cloud, as well as an FAQ to help you out.
Windows 8 will also work on tablets, and on the same ARM-based chipsets that other mobile devices do, meaning it finally lets Microsoft field a true competitor to the iPad. Given Windows’ massive install base, especially in enterprise, that could prove interesting. More interesting, however, is the clearly consumer-centric — it’s right there in the name — focus of this preview. Microsoft is bringing the fight for mainstream computing right to Apple. And they’re doing it with style.
How well do Metro and multitouch translate to the PC? Can mobile and desktop, finger and mouse pointer, really live together with no compromises at all? If you’ve got a spare box or room for another virtual machine, get the Consumer Preview, give it a spin, and let us know.
(Also let us know how iTunes works, or doesn’t work, and how happy you are iOS has gone PC free!)
Download: Windows 8 Consumer Preview
While dirt on a Mac could add character, it could also be a detriment to how your machine performs, especially if the dust and grime starts to seep into your inner components. That’s why it’s important to do a little spring cleaning for your Mac. Here’s all you need to create your own arsenal of cleaning products to keep things looking like new.
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Use compressed air to blow the dust out of your computer. It will keep your iMac or Mac Pro running smoothly and at the right temperature.
Use a product like this Endust cleaning spray to add an anti-static and anti-dust coat to your computer, keyboard, and mouse.
Have a lot of dust buildup? Consider a computer vacuum to really eliminate the dirt.
A computer brush is really handy for getting in between keyboard keys, and for getting the dirt of your Mac’s internal parts. A toothbrush works for this, too.
There are a variety of LCD cleaning sprays to keep your iMac, MacBook, or Thunderbolt Display looking sharp. Alcohol and water aren’t good for screens, so opt for an LCD specific solution.
Use a lint free micro-fiber cloth to wipe things down.
Alcohol wipes are great for disinfecting and cleaning the grime off your keyboard, since alcohol dries so quickly.
If you’re looking for a wipe to quickly clean your screen, opt for an electronic specific non-alcohol formulation.
Q-tips are the best for getting into the tiny crevices of your keyboard. Dip them lightly in alcohol for extra cleaning power.
Use an anti-static cloth to safely wipe off the parts inside your Mac.
The ATF (US department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) is ditching its deployment of BlackBerry smartphones in favor of a majority of iPhones. This is another high profile organisation that has decided that the BlackBerry does not offer them the ease of use or the functionality that the iPhone and other smartphones can offer.
The big changeover is expected to take place next month and will involve the replacement of a whopping 2,400 BlackBerry devices with iPhones. The iPhones will be assigned to special agents that work in the field. The ATF is currently changing its mobile infrastructure before ordering the new iPhones.
“We’re going to delete the BlackBerry from the mix,” Rick Holgate, ATF’s chief information officer, said in an interview. “The government has been very comfortable with the BlackBerry model for 10 years,” he said. “Now we’re looking to move beyond that.” The company’s BlackBerry — with its secure email and back-end infrastructure — has dominated federal agencies for years. Holgate said keeping BlackBerry infrastructure in place when the agency is clearly shifting away from the device doesn’t make economic sense. Functionality, however, was the main decision behind the shift to the iPhone, he said. “Video streaming, GPS capability, capabilities, the camera … a variety of things,” Holgate said. “Yes, these things exist on BlackBerrys, but in terms of ease of use and adaptability of the devices, the iPhones are the more functional and compelling use case.”
The ATF will continue the BlackBerry replacement program with a mixture of other smartphones for its remaining 1400 employees. It is also running a pilot scheme involving the use of 200 iPads that is due to end soon.
Well, well, well… what have we here? An invitation to a special Apple media event in San Francisco next Wednesday, March 7 at 10am PST. Sounds to us like a new iPad is incoming, although there are also plenty of rumors about a third-generation Apple TV (not the kind with a display, mind you). But hey, maybe we’ll get some improvements to iTunes Match as well, judging from this “adaptive streaming” report below. Here’s a look at the rest of the day’s tech news for Tuesday, February 28, 2012.
Just prior to today’s official announcement from Apple about the March 7 media event, CNBC stepped in a big pile by tweeting an alert claiming that a “quad-core iPad 3 with 4G LTE” would be “unveiled in New York next week.” According to MacRumors, the Twitter moment set off a firestorm of debate over its dubious source (later revealed to be an iMore.com report from two weeks ago), even backtracking at one point by claiming that an “unspecified” Apple event would take place in New York City next week. Within an hour, Apple issued invitations for the real event, which takes place next Wednesday, March 7 at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco — all the way across the country. Better luck next time, CNBC…
It’s nice to see that Apple isn’t sitting still as the king of the digital music heap with iTunes. According to a new report from The Guardian, the company is hard at work on “a new audio file format that will offer ‘adaptive streaming’ to provide high or low-quality files to users of its iCloud service.” The idea is that users who wish to download music to their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad will get the full, high-quality source material, but Apple could also offer a second, lower resolution version for those who prefer to stream — a key feature of subscription services like Spotify that’s currently missing from the $24.99 per year iTunes Match, with the exception of the Mac and Apple TV. “A source with inside knowledge of the process says Apple has asked a London studio to prepare audio files for a new streaming format that will adapt to bandwidth or hardware capabilities,” the report reveals. “It is unclear whether the files will convert to the smaller types such as AAC in real time, or if Apple will convert the master file to several different types upon submission to iTunes.” As usual, Apple remains mum on the possibility, but with iTunes currently encouraging labels to submit higher quality 24-bit, 96KHz master files, it would seem to be just a matter of time before it becomes reality.
Are you an iPhone user grandfathered into an unlimited data plan who’s suffering through ATT’s attempts to throttle your data speeds? According to MacTech, you may have a small claims case against the carrier that could net you upwards of $850, the sum recently awarded to an iPhone user in Southern California after taking ATT to court. Of course, with our society already so litigious, it would seem ill-advised to take this approach — but after all, ATT started it by not living up to their promise. MacTech outlines the five steps you’ll need to follow, which includes finding out where to file in the first place, thoroughly reading your contract, being able to prove you have an unlimited data plan, having an amount in mind for damages and of course, being prepared and polite. The bottom line is, ATT users have rights, and sometimes big companies need to remember that. Be sure to hit the link to read the entire story before blindly heading down to the courthouse to file your small claims action!
Patently Apple is reporting that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has published 24 patents today which have been granted to Apple Inc. The first of these “highlights three out of five important Multi-Touch patent wins,” which cover multitouch auto scanning (for “disabling components of a touch-panel device during periods of inactivity to conserve power”), multipoint touchscreens (encapsulating 21 patents dating back to 2004) and Apple’s 3D curved substrate lamination process used for the Magic Mouse. “No matter how you slice it, it’s a huge day for Apple on the Multi-touch patent front,” the website proclaims. Today’s patent victories also include 8,125,455 and 8,125,464 which cover “Full scale calibration measurement for multi-touch surfaces” — less sexy than the others, to be sure, but definitely additional ammunition in Apple’s arsenal nonetheless.
The Loop is reporting that Marvel Digital Media Group has announced the availability of 80 graphic novels through Apple’s iBookstore. Titles are sorted by popular characters such as The Avengers, Captain America, Spider-Man, X-Men and The Hulk, and all of the titles can be read on an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. “Marvel is taking the world of comics by storm and releasing a massive selection of our best and brightest graphic novels on the iBookstore,” announced Peter Phillips, Senior Vice President General Manager, Marvel Digital Media Group. “For the first time ever, fans will be able to easily find and enjoy all of their favorite heroes including The Avengers, Spider-Man and The X-Men on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch — one of the best digital platforms for reading comics and graphic novels.” The publisher also continues to offer many of these titles through its own Marvel app as well.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
Marvel comics has just pushed out a large set of their collected editions to Apple’s iBookstore. The contents is what you’re typically find in their softcover trade paperback editions, and mostly more recent fare, but there’s some great stuff included.
Pricing is decent, between $6.99 for shorter volumes and $16.99 for classic Masterworks. No sign of larger collections (for example, Joss Whedon’s phenomenal X-Men run is offered only as Vol 1. of 4 right now, not the entire 25 issue set that was in hardcover), nor the amazing Omnibuses. But one step at a time, right?
80 volumes are available at launch, and Marvel says there are more to come, so we have a lot to look forward to. If you’re not sold on the digital format, you can even test drive a free copy of Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers Vol. 1 — for a limited time — to see how you like it.
If you’re into Marvel and use iBooks, I heartily recommend Astonishing X-Men by Whedon, Eternals and 1602 by Gaiman, Planet Hulk, Iron Man: Extremis by Ellis, Thor by JMS, Runaways, and Wolverine Enemy of the State and Old Man Logan by Millar. If you have any favorites, add them in the comments below.
Full press release below.
Today, Marvel has entered a bold new era in digital comics. For the first time ever, classic stories—from the first appearance of the Avengers to the “death” of Captain America—will now be available for purchase on Apple’s iBookstore.
With an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, Marvel fans across the world can now purchase over 80 graphic novels with fan-favorite characters like Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Wolverine, Spider-Man and more by launching the iBooks app or going to www.itunes.com/marvelgraphicnovels.
Marvel Graphic Novels on Apple’s iBookstore
The following is a complete list of available graphic novels at launch:
- Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks Vol. 1
- Astonishing X-Men Vol.1: Gifted
- Avengers Assemble Vol. 1
- Avengers Forever
- Avengers Masterworks Vol.1
- Avengers: Disassembled
- Avengers: Kree /Skrull War
- Avengers: Under Siege
- Avengers/X-Men: Utopia
- Captain America: The Death of Captain America Vol.1 – Death of the Dream
- Captain America: Winter Soldier Vol.1
- Captain America: Winter Soldier Vol.2
- Castle: Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm
- Civil War
- Dark Avengers Vol.1: Assemble
- Dark Tower: Gunslinger Born
- Deadpool Vol.1: Secret Invasion
- Earth X
- Ender’s Game: Battle School
- Ender’s Game: Command School
- Ender’s Shadow: Battle School
- Ender’s Shadow: Command School
- Eternals by Neil Gaiman
- Fallen Son: Death of Captain America
- Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Vol.1
- Ghost Rider Vol. 1: Vicious Cycle
- House of M
- Hulk Vol. 1: Red Hulk
- Hulk: Planet Hulk
- Infinity Gauntlet
- Invincible Iron Man Vol. 1: Five Nightmares
- Iron Man: Extremis
- John Carter: A Princess of Mars
- John Carter: World of Mars
- Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman
- Marvel Zombies
- Mighty Avengers Vol.1: The Ultron Initiative
- New Avengers Vol. 1: Breakout
- New Avengers Vol. 2: The Sentry
- New Avengers Vol. 3: Secrets and Lies
- New Avengers Vol. 4: The Collective
- New Avengers Vol. 5: Civil War
- Pride and Prejudice
- Runaways Vol. 1: Pride and Joy
- Secret Invasion
- Secret War
- Secret Wars
- Spider-Man: Big Time
- Spider-Man: Blue
- Spider-Man: Brand New Day Vol.1
- Spider-Man: Brand New Day Vol.2
- Spider-Man: Brand New Day Vol.3
- Spider-Man: Crime and Punisher
- Spider-Man: Kraven’s First Hunt
- Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage
- Spider-Man: New Ways to Die
- Thor by J. Michael Straczynski Vol. 1
- Ultimate Spider-Man Vol.1: Power and Responsibility
- Ultimate Spider-Man Vol.2: Learning Curve
- Ultimate Spider-Man Vol.3: Double Trouble
- Ultimate Spider-Man Vol.4: Legacy
- Ultimate Spider-Man Vol.5: Public Scrutiny
- Ultimate Spider-Man Vol.6: Venom
- Ultimate Spider-Man Vol.7: Irresponsible
- Ultimate Spider-Man Vol.8: Cats and Kings
- Ultimate X-Men Vol. 1: The Tomorrow People
- Ultimates Vol.1: Super-Human
- Ultimates Vol.2: Homeland Security
- Venom vs. Carnage
- Wolverine: Enemy of the State
- Wolverine: Old Man Logan
- Wolverine: Weapon X Vol.1: Adamantium Men
- Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- World War Hulk
- X-Force Vol. 1: Angels and Demons
- X-Men: Messiah Complex
- X-Men: Phoenix Endsong
- X-Men: Second Coming
And that’s just for starters. Each week, more graphic novels will be added to the expanding Marvel IBookstore library, bringing to your iPad, IPhone, or iPod Touch a truly unique digital comic book reading experience that customers will never forget.
But don’t take our word for it. For a limited time, customers can read the first full issue of New Avengers Vol. 1: Breakout at the iBookstore…free of charge. For experienced comic book readers or casual fans alike, there’s something for everyone: action (X-Men: Messiah Complex), suspense (Secret Invasion), mysteries (Castle: Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm), literary adaptations (Pride Prejudice), children’s tales (Wonderful Wizard of Oz) and more!