Archive for the ‘iphone’ Tag

No Siri? No problem! Dragon Go! Review   2 comments

I have an iPhone 4 and did not upgrade to the iPhone 4S with Siri because I was hoping that the new iPad would come with the personal assistant.  Unfortunately, Apple chose not to install Siri on its latest version of the iPad, perhaps to force others like me to go ahead and upgrade our iPhones if we want to get Siri.  In any case, since the iPhone 5 is rumored to come out in the Fall, I now plan to wait until then to upgrade my iPhone.  In the meantime, I started researching what alternatives there were to Siri that I could use on my iPhone 4, and I came across Dragon Go!

Dragon Go! is a free app that is developed by Nuance Communications.  There are iOS and Android versions of the app.  To use Dragon Go! just tap the record button on the screen and ask away.  For example, you can ask it “What is the weather like today around here?” and it will connect you to Accuweather and will show you the weather in your area.  It will use you phone’s GPS to determine your location.  If you ask “What is the capital of Switzerland?” it will connect you to Ask.com and will give you the answer (Bern, in case you were wondering).  Once you get your answer, Dragon Go! allows you to share it on Facebook, Twitter, or by email.

Below is a list of some of the sites and services that Dragon Go! connects with.  You can see them on the Dragon Carousel, so you can also swipe directly to the site that you want to interact with.

1. Ask.com

2. Wolfram Alpha

3. Yahoo! Answers

4. Answers.com

5. YouTube

6. Twitter

7. Wikipedia

8. Google

9. Open Table

10. Yelp

11. Netflix

12. Fandango

13. IMDB

14. Hulu+

15. Live Nation

16. Milo

17. CNN

18. Spotify

19. Pandora

20. Amazon

Watch how it works in the video review below:

Posted April 1, 2012 by deboraplehn in Apps

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Interview: Drew Smith, developer of MPEP Plus iPad App   Leave a comment

I recently interviewed Drew Smith, the developer of the MPEP Plus iPad App.  He had sent me a free copy of the app to try out, and I decided that rather than write a review, it would be interesting to interview him to find out about how he decided to become an app developer while still in law school.

1.  How did you come up with the idea for your MPEP Plus iPad App?

My firm does a good amount of international work through foreign agents, and I initially planned to make a database of global patent laws and procedures.  My thinking was that it’d be extremely useful to have quick access to, say, rules on novelty in Brazil, without having to search the web and click through a lot of clutter.  But while simple to code, the app became a little problematic, interestingly enough, because of IP issues.  Many foreign governments hold copyrights on their government works.  I found a good number of English translations of foreign-language laws, but many of those were the result of someone’s creative translation.  After a while, my app was so gutted of information that it was essentially just the sites of USPTO and WIPO, with poor auto-translations of a handful of government works.  I refocused the app to only provide the MPEP and supporting materials.  The “PLUS” was my personal joke about my app being better–as if the MPEP, the bible of the industry, is somehow inadequate!

2.  There are already other MPEP apps on the market–how is yours different?

After I released the first version of this app, I looked to see what had already been done.  Surprisingly, there are very few apps that focus on the MPEP, despite the fact that every patent attorney and agent uses it.  I wanted to incorporate things that make the iPad fun, such as touch gestures, animation, and vibrant colors.  I like to think that the use of public-domain patent drawings add a touch of humor, and that the patent-retrieval system is an intersting twist on just punching in a number.  If you’re going to make a program for such a powerful platform, why subject users to page after page of black text?

3.  You are a patent agent and are about to be admitted to the NY bar, right?  How did you become interested in becoming an app developer?

Yes, I’m an agent for about one more week, until I’m sworn in as an attorney.  I’ve always liked programming, probably because it’s in my blood.  My dad got his undergraduate degree in applied math, which was computer programming when computers were the size of a small car.  Later, in the mid-1980s, he was one of the first attorneys to use a computer in his law practice, then started his own software company in the 90s, and put out his own iPad app, Form 14, in January.  (It calculated child support using Missouri guidelines.)  I took a programming class in college, but didn’t consider it as a career.  Later, as an engineer, I modified pieces of software that were in place at the time.  I dabbled in coding a game for the XBox but never made anything worth releasing.  When I started in patent law, I realized that I needed something to distinguish myself as a patent professional.  There will always be people with better degrees, or better grades, so why would a client pick me?  So I’d say I got into iOS programming half for my own enjoyment, and half to show a subset of potential clients that I can handle at least some of their inventive subject matter.

4.  Do you have any advice for others who are interested in developing their own apps?

I’d say dream big, but start small.  My first app, Dial-a-Patent, was a slightly tweaked calculator from the first tutorial of Paul Hegarty’s iOS development class on iTunes U.  I wanted to do amazing things, but I had to keep it in perspective.  Also, I’d estimate that learning Objective-C and Xcode took me around fifty hours.  That’s just time spent running through tutorials and reading about syntax!   That being said, if a person is dedicated enough, once they get past the initial learning curve, integrating functionality is not nearly as daunting.  If a person has capital but not time, there are lots of talented programmers out there who would make an app for cheap.

5.  Are you currently working on new apps?  Any hints?

Since I’ve started developing, I’ve had people approach me with a few non-legal ideas, almost all of which incorporate the  most interesting features of iOS: animation, facial recognition, photo integration, geolocation, 3D modeling, RSS feeds, and so on.  Unfortunately, because they are for other people or entities, I can’t really discuss them.  I’ve considered doing apps for other areas of law, or law students, but don’t have a “hook,” like patent illustration, just yet.  The next thing that I’ll release will probably be a patent form app.  It would be useful if you need to fill out an IDS, or declaration, and don’t have your computer in front of you.  In addition, there will be a couple of other features that I hope will utilize the benefits of the hardware.

6.  What are your favorite apps for (a) work and (b) play?

I  don’t use too many apps at work, other than my own!  But I can say that Penultimate and iAnnotate PDF really helped when I was studying for the patent bar.  For fun, the app I’ve used most, hands down, is Hipstamatic.  I play a good number of games on the subway, like NBA 2K12 and Final Fantasy Tactics.  And apps like HBO Go and Netflix provide a good dose of entertainment at the end of the day.

Where’s the (Smartphone) Fire? Amazon Smartphone Rumors.   Leave a comment

With the success of the Amazon Fire tablet, it was only a matter of time until Amazon smartphone rumors started popping up.  This week, Citigroup’s analyst Mark Mahaney reported that Amazon is planning a smartphone of its own, to compete with other popular smartphones like the iPhone.  Here are the latest Amazon smartphone rumors:

1.  Price:  Amazon’s upcoming smartphone is rumored to cost in the range of $150-170, which is considerably cheaper than the latest iPhone.

2.  Release date:  Citigroup’s Mark Mahaney reported that Amazon is set to release its new smartphone in the fourth quarter of 2012, just in time for the next holiday season.

3.  Processor:  the smartphone is rumored to come with a Texas Instruments OMAP 4 processor.

4.  Developer:  Amazon is going to partner with Foxconn International Holdings Ltd. to develop the device, but Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry will probably make the device and its components.

5.  Palm:  Amazon is rumored to be in talks to buy Palm, leading to rumors that a new Amazon smartphone might run on Palm’s OS or derivatives of it.

Would you be tempted to buy an Amazon smartphone?  As of yet there are very little rumors about what the phone’s actual capabilities would be and how seriously it could really compete with the iPhone and other smartphones out there.  I guess we’ll just have to hold our breaths and wait out the fire.

Posted November 20, 2011 by deboraplehn in Amazon

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iPhone 4S New Features   Leave a comment

After months of speculation, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the new iPhone 4S model on Tuesday, and it will be available on October 14 (preorders started on October 7). It seems like we will have to wait a bit longer for the much anticipated iPhone 5.

So what exactly is does the iPhone 4S have that the current iPhone 4 doesn’t? I decided to make a list:

1. Camera: The iPhone 4S has an 8 megapixel camera, instead of the 5 megapixel camera of the iPhone 4. The new camera is built around a backside-illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor.

2. Video: the new iPhone can record 1080p HD video.

3. Processor: The new iPhone uses the same processor as the iPad 2–the dual-core 1GHz A5 chip. It will thus be twice as fast as the iPhone 4 and will offer graphics performance that is seven times faster.

4. Operating system: The iPhone 4S has the iOS 5 operating system with iCloud.

5. Siri: As mentioned in my earlier post, the new iPhone has a built-in Siri personal assistant, which is highlighted in the video below.  Edited to add:  Since Apple bought Siri and announced Siri as part of the new iPhone 4S, it is no longer available in the App store as a standalone app.  You need to buy the new iPhone 4S to have it.  If you already downloaded the Siri app, it will only work until October 15.  After that, you will need an iPhone 4S to have access to Siri.

Many people are disappointed that the iPhone 4S looks just like the iPhone 4, with the same shell, and the same screen size. Hopefully, the iPhone 5 will be a complete redesign that will fuel people’s imaginations and will cement Apple as the visionary technology company that it was under the helm of Steve Jobs.

Posted October 9, 2011 by deboraplehn in Apple, iPhone

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A free personal assistant for the rest of us: Siri app   1 comment

Who hasn’t dreamed of having their own personal assistant, the way celebrities do?  Someone to make appointments for you, call your favorite restaurant to make a reservation, order you a taxi etc?  It turns out, there’s an app for that, and it’s called Siri.  Siri was developed through SRI International’s CALO artificial intelligence project to design a “personal assistant that learns.”    It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, right?  Apple was so impressed with the technology that it purchased Siri, and there are rumors that the Siri personal assistant will become integrated in future iOS versions, so that there will no longer be the need to download the app to have access to your own personal assistant.  It is rumored that the iPhone 5 will have this feature, called the “Assistant.”  Luckily, for now the app is still available for free in the iPhone app store for those of us who have earlier iPhones.  There is unfortunately no iPad app yet, although one is rumored to be in the works.

To use Siri, you must enable GPS location and tell Siri (optional) where you live and work so that it can find places close to either location.  You may either type in your requests, or speak them.  Some examples of what Siri does:

1.  Make restaurant reservations, through partnerships with Open Table.  You can ask it “find a Chinese restaurant near work” and it will give you list of options.  You can then decide if you want to make a reservation or if you want to call the restaurant.

2. Order a taxi for you, through Taxi Magic.

3.  Siri partners with Rotten tomatoes, for movie reviews, and with Yelp for reviews of just about any business.

4.  You can ask Siri “When is Josh Groban playing Madison Square Garden” and it will not only tell you, it will give you several options for purchasing tickets, such as StubHub.  I must admit, I tried this myself, just to see if it worked.

5.  Siri will also tell you the weather and provide recommendations on how to dress!  This is thanks to a partnership with Weather Bug.

6.  Give you updates on your flight’s status through a partnership with Flight Stats.

7.  Email yourself reminders of things to do, such as buy flowers for Mom on Mother’s Day!

It will be exciting to see how this technology develops, especially if it becomes an integral part of the iPhone’s operating system.  It will certainly reduce time browsing the web, since it is easier simply to give Siri a voice command and the app does it all for you.  Highly recommended!

Posted September 18, 2011 by deboraplehn in Apps

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How to remember your passwords and keep them safe–eWallet   2 comments

If you’re anything like me you have tens of passwords and userids to remember and have trouble keeping track of them all.  I used to try to use the same password for every website, but then some websites started requiring a number, or two numbers, or the use of a special character, or the use of a capital letter in the password, and it became impossible to remember them all.  I therefore decided to buy an app to help me keep track of my passwords and login information.  I decided on eWallet after reading some positive reviews.

eWallet has iPhone, iPad and android apps, as well as versions for the PC and Mac.  I first downloaded the iPad app which costs  $9.99, and the iPhone app automatically downloaded to my iPhone without any extra charge.  Unfortunately, I had to pay another $19.99 to download the version for my PC.  It is not absolutely necessary to have it on your PC, since, as I will explain, it is possible to synch directly between the iPhone and the iPad, but I thought it was safer to have all my information stored securely on my PC as well as on my mobile devices.  eWallet uses secure 256-bit AES encryption to protect your information.

Synching between devices is not as seamless as I had hoped.  Both the iPhone and the iPad apps synch with the PC, but it is not done automatically as with cloud-based apps like Evernote.  Instead, you have to open eWallet on both your PC and your mobile device.  When you hit the “synch” button, the mobile device will give you an access code that you have to type into your PC eWallet program for the synching to begin.  You can then synch in the same fashion between the PC and your second mobile device.  There is also a way to synch directly between the iPhone and the iPad.  Let’s say you have all your information stored on your iPad.  You can then hit “backup” and eWallet will ask you for an email to which to send a file containing all your backed up information.  You can then open this email on your iPhone and click “open in eWallet.”  This will automatically save all your information on your iPhone.  Not as easy as one would hope, but it works!  Hopefully, Ilium, the makers of eWallet, will upgrade the app so that it supports automatic cloud-based synching like Evernote does.

eWallet stores all your information in the form of “cards” which look like credit cards.  Every card has space for saving userids, passwords, emails, urls etc.  There are several templates, and you can also customize cards to suit your needs.  eWallet has a feature called Auto Pass which automatically enters your passwords for you when you visit a website.  It also has a feature called Smart Copy which allows you to easily copy the information on a card and paste it into a website or email.  At present, you can print out all your cards at once, but you cannot print out only one card at a time.  This is something Ilium states on their website that they are working on.

All in all, I recommend buying this app, despite the cumbersome synching.  I think it does all that it promises to do, and has made my life easier.  Hopefully, future upgrades will take care of the features which still need improving.  Do any of you recommend any other apps for storing passwords etc.? If so, please let me know in the comments section.  Thanks!

Posted August 14, 2011 by deboraplehn in Apps

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Evernote wants to be a 100 year company   Leave a comment

Since I got my iPad, and started trying out different apps, Evernote has become my favorite app.  At first I was a bit skeptical to even try it… Did I really need an app to take down notes when I could just as easily use the “Notes” application on my iPad or iPhone? The answer is YES.  As I discussed in an earlier post, Evernote does much more than mere note-taking, and it allows you to synch your notes, pdfs and files among different devices through cloud computing.

One example of a new Evernote application that does not involve mere note-taking, is Evernote Peek, which is great for students as an alternative to old-style flashcards:


But now that there are so many other note-taking apps out there, how does Evernote plan to stay competitive and relevant?  Evernote hopes to answer that question at its first Evernote Trunk Conference for developers that will be held in San Francisco on August 18, 2011.  Evernote’s goal is to become a productivity platform, and to provide services that will enhance the user’s experience beyond mere note-taking and memory storage.  This is how Evernote plans to use the recent $50 million in funds it recently obtained, and become a 100 year company.

Posted July 24, 2011 by deboraplehn in Apps, Uncategorized

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5 iPad 2 Plus Rumors   Leave a comment

Everything seems to be growing by increments these days.  First you have Google, then you get Google Plus.  Now, Apple has joined the game with rumors that the next iPad will not be the iPad 3 but rather the” iPad 2 Plus.”
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Here is a compilation of the rumors that are floating about regarding the iPad 2 Plus:
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1. Release date.  According to recent rumors, the iPad 2 Plus will be released in the third or fourth quarter of 2011.  This means that the release date of the iPad 3 will probably be pushed back until 2012.
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2. HD screen.  The iPad 2 Plus is rumored to have the HD retina screen that was rumored to come with the iPad 3.
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3. New supplier.  Apple is rumored to have obtained a new supplier for the iPad 2 Plus in addition to current supplier Foxconn Electronics.  Taiwan-based Quanta Computer and Pegatron Technology are being indicated as the potential contenders for the possible orders.  Insiders say that Pegatron is the likely winner because it already has reportedly received orders for the iPhone 5.
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4. Geared for pro users.  The focus of the iPad 2 Plus will reportedly be pro users who will most be attracted by the HD display.
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5.  Pro apps.  Another rumor is that the iPad 2 Plus will be accompanied by pro versions of popular photo and video apps like aperture and final cut.

Posted July 11, 2011 by deboraplehn in Apple, iPad

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5 iPhone 5 Rumors   Leave a comment

In my last post I talked about rumors surrounding the upcoming iPad 3.  There are just as many rumors flying around regarding the iPhone 5.  Here are just some of them:

1.  Better camera.  The iPhone 5 is rumored to have an 8 megapixel camera.  The iPhone 4 comes equipped with only a 5 megapixel camera, so this is quite an improvement.

2.  Slimmer and lighter.  Apple is rumored to continue trying to make its products sleeker and lighter, and the iPhone 5 is no exception.  There are rumors of a complete redesign.

3.  Aluminum backing.  The iPhone 5 is rumored to come with aluminum backing, instead of the glass backing and the exterior antenna of the iPhone 4.  This may be a way of avoiding the well-publicized problems that the iPhone 4 had with reception due to its exterior antenna.

4.  No Home button.  Steve Jobs reportedly never wanted the iPhone to have any physical buttons, and his dream is rumored to have come true for the iPhone 5, which will reportedly lack a Home button.

5.  Qualcomm’s wireless chips.  The iPhone 5 is rumored to come equipped with Qualcomm’s wireless chips rather than with the current Infineon chips that most versions of the iPhone 4 are provided with.  A version of the iPhone 4 that is carried by Verizon currently uses Qualcomm’s wireless chips.

Whatever the new iPhone 5 looks like, Apple hopes to ship 25 million units by the end of the year.  The launch may occur as early as in September, and as late as in 2012.  Are you planning on getting the new iPhone 5 when it goes on sale?

Posted July 7, 2011 by deboraplehn in Apple, iPhone

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4 iPad 3 Rumors   2 comments

As the proud owner of a first-generation iPad, I am really looking forward to what Apple has in store for us with the iPad 3 when it hits stores possibly as early as October or sometime early next year. Here are some rumors that have been floating around the web.

1. Retina display. A very exciting rumor is that the new iPad 3 will have a retina display screen like that of the iPhone 4.  A retina display has twice the resolution of an iPad or iPad 2 screen.  This rumor originated with the discovery that some iPad apps included images that were sized to work with a 1536 x 2048 retina display.

2. 3D display.  Even more exciting is the rumor that the next iPad will allow users to watch videos in 3D.  Evidence for this includes the filing by Apple of several patents for a 3D display.  With the advent of the Nintendo 3DS, an iPad with a 3D display seems very likely, if not now, then soon.

3. Flash camera.  Another rumor is that the iPad 3 will have a flash camera much like that of the iPhone 4.  Even  less need to carry around a separate camera!

4.  Lower price.  The iPad now has more competition than when it first launched.  Consumers have other tablet options, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the new HP TouchPad.  There is therefore a rumor that Apple will lower iPad prices when the iPad 3 launches.

Whether any of these rumors turn out to be true or not, one thing is sure…I will probably be first in line to get the iPad 3 when it comes out!

Posted July 4, 2011 by deboraplehn in Apple, iPad

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