TouchMyApps » Ted Kao http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:22:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.5 Mint.com Personal Finance – The easiest way to manage finances on your iPhone http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/03/15/mint-com-personal-finance-the-easiest-way-to-manage-finances-on-your-iphone/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/03/15/mint-com-personal-finance-the-easiest-way-to-manage-finances-on-your-iphone/#comments Tue, 15 Mar 2011 14:16:11 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=49594 Mint.com is a (free) web-based financial management tool for users to manage all their finances in one place. It is one of the easiest applications to use within the sector and also the one that I trust for our family finances.  I’ve had experience using Quicken, Money, and Excel to manage our money, and while these … Read more]]>

Mint.com is a (free) web-based financial management tool for users to manage all their finances in one place. It is one of the easiest applications to use within the sector and also the one that I trust for our family finances.  I’ve had experience using Quicken, Money, and Excel to manage our money, and while these tools can be very powerful and are highly customizable, they don’t compare favorably to Mint.com when it comes to getting a full picture of your finances with maximum ease.

How Mint.com works both within the website and the accompanying iPhone app is the user first sets up an account using an email address and password.  Do make sure you use a complex, hard to guess password since it will have a TON of personal financial data that I’m sure you’ll not want unauthorized users to get their hands on. On the iPhone, you should also set-up a pass code, since anyone with access to your iPhone will otherwise be able to open up the app. When a user account has been established, you can simply add financial accounts by logging into your various financial institutions (banks, brokerages, credit cards, etc) and grabbing your account activity. Each time you log into Mint.com via either the website or the app, your financial data will get updated. It’s that simple.

The moment you get the data into the app, you can change how the specific transactions are coded.  There are approximately 20 categories of transactions and each have sub-categories, so you can set-up how you want to do the reporting. You can also create more categories or sub-categories if you wish.  Mint.com will automatically assign a transaction type to each transaction that is downloaded. However, I have found this to be wrong about 40% of the time. It would indeed be splendid if Mint is smart enough to “remember” a specific category I assign a particular item/purchase (say a restaurant I frequent), just so I don’t have to manually do it every time. Once a month, I spend about 30 minutes going through my transactions and re-assigning the wrong or “uncategorized” ones.

Once you’re comfortable with how your transactions are categorized, you can set-up budgets for each of your major categories. My suggestion is to keep it simple and only monitor categories that you truly care about. If you really want to see how much you spend on candy bars each month, you can split up each transaction into small chucks, but I certainly don’t care down to this level of detail. At the end of each month, I’ll review my budget to actually see how we did and I’ll track it against previous months. If needed, I’ll update the budget to something more realistic or I can think about ways to cut back in certain areas.  Additionally, if I’m spending more on say shopping this month than my trending has been for the past 3 months, I will get alerts on my iPhone.

There are also several features that are available (though I don’t make use of), like actively monitoring trends across multiple months. Mint.com also allows users to set-up goals such as paying off debt, buying a home or saving for retirement that can be tracked via the website.

One of my favorite views from my iPhone is simply the front end login page. It displays an overview of my cash balance, budget performance, cash flow, alerts, and my investments. When I’m on the go, all I need to do is open up the app, let it sync for about a minute, and get a 100% up-to-date view of my financial picture.

The reason why I didn’t really differentiate between the app and the website is that 95% of what I can do on the web, I can also perform within the app. The only items that I don’t think is available are the ability to set-up new accounts and new transaction categories. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same set of features.

Mint.com has been designed from the ground up to be as user friendly as possible. The financial tool focuses on usability and improved visibility into the user’s finances without being the bloat-ware that Quicken and Money have become. Both the website and iPhone app are super easy to use and the feature set is just right for people who want to monitor and track their finances without spending too much fiddling with the software.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Mint.com Personal Finance Developer: Mint.com
Reviewed Ver: 1.9.34 Min OS Req:
Price: Free App Size: 9.22MB
  • Most user friendly financial management software out there
  • iPhone replicates nearly all of the functionality of the website.
  • Let’s you manage your finances in minutes each month
  • It’s Free!!
  • Doesn’t remember how the user codes transaction to category assignments each month
  • Doesn’t pull in details of check-based transactions
  • iPhone app only provides for pass code based security, which isn’t as secure

appstoreicon

Read more]]>
http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/03/15/mint-com-personal-finance-the-easiest-way-to-manage-finances-on-your-iphone/feed/ 1
Camera+ in Review – Replacing your iPhone Camera App http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/02/28/camera-in-review-replacing-your-iphone-camera-app/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/02/28/camera-in-review-replacing-your-iphone-camera-app/#comments Mon, 28 Feb 2011 18:12:40 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=48714 Camera+ v2.0, released in December 2010, is the top selling iPhone photo app for a reason. Developer tap tap tap has built a fantastic app that is well designed with some easy to use workflow that enhances the user’s i-photography experience. The highest praise I can give Camera+ is that it has become my go … Read more]]>

Camera+ v2.0, released in December 2010, is the top selling iPhone photo app for a reason. Developer tap tap tap has built a fantastic app that is well designed with some easy to use workflow that enhances the user’s i-photography experience. The highest praise I can give Camera+ is that it has become my go to app for taking pictures.

The basic functionality of the app allows the user to take a photo, either directly via the app or from the Photo library, and edit it in 50+ different ways. The editing options are defined across 5 different categories.

Even with all of these editing functions, one of my favorite features is the ability to process the photo in the background while opening up the camera for the next shot. As with anyone with young children will tell you, using the iPhone camera can often be frustrating when attempting to capture several quick shots of those impromptu moments. This one feature alone would have been enough to justify the price tag. A second great feature is the “save all” button that will take all of the photos in Camera+ and save them to your photo library for export to iPhoto the next time you you sync to your computer.

My favorite editing category is Scenes, which contains effects such as adding Flash, Shade, and Sunset. There are a total of 15 effects to choose from and they are perfect for improving the quality of your photos when you don’t have perfect lighting conditions. I’ve found that using the Portrait and Sunset effects will add richness and warmth to my photos and this combo is one I rely on more often than not.

The Adjust function will not only rotate the photo but will also flip the image both horizontally and vertically. Personally, I didn’t find much use for it, but I’m sure there are users out there who’ll appreciate having this ability at their finger tips.

The Crop category will give you the opportunity to crop your pictures using either a free form approach or using the Camera+ default crop types.  This is great for when you want to either cut out something from a photo or prepare your photo to print. For example, we print lots of 4×6 photos and Camera+ can crop your photo to this size automatically. This certainly makes the workflow much easier for printing purposes.

FX Effects adds special effects to your photos – sort of like Hipstamatic – and offers 36 different options. This includes the I ♥ Analog FX Pack ($0.99 in-app purchase) that features 9 filmic FXs, giving your photos more retro flair. iPhone users who love and are accustomed to Hipstamatic can get some similar effects here (without the tiny view finder that Hipstamatic uses).

The Borders category offers 18 different types of frames that can be applied to your pictures. I’ve not used this feature a ton but it would be useful for when you want to print a photo with various border effects.

All of the features that I’ve described above can also be combined together. For example, the above photo with the Film border has the Sunset Scene effect and has been cropped to a wide angle 16×9 image.

Camera+ 2.1 isn’t just another photography app with a bunch of random features thrown in; it is truly a wonderful photo workflow app that can be used to take photos, edit photos, and share your work with friends and family. It is extremely well executed and should be on the first page of every iPhone, which is the biggest complement I can pay to this app. Also, if you’re an app developer (or an aspiring one), the tap tap tap blog is AWESOME – they are open with their lessons learned and are very transparent about their business.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Camera+​ Developer: tap tap tap
Reviewed Ver: 2.1 Min OS Req: 3.1
Price: $0.99 App Size: Size: 17.3 MB
  • Super easy workflow
  • Great value for the cost
  • Stabilization feature
  • Touch Exposure & Focus control
  • Numerous FX effects
  • Improves on the iPhone’s standard camera
  • Please add a video editor too?
  • When selecting existing photos from photo library, only shows the smaller images so its sometimes harder to pick the right picture to edit.

appstoreicon

Read more]]>
http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/02/28/camera-in-review-replacing-your-iphone-camera-app/feed/ 3
Awesome Note (+Todo) for iPhone in Review – Awesomeness in a box http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/01/27/awesome-note-for-iphone-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/01/27/awesome-note-for-iphone-in-review/#comments Thu, 27 Jan 2011 18:21:58 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=47207 Awesome Note was released in September 2009 by mobile app developer BRID Works (if your playing at home, BRID stands for Brilliant Ideas). They compete in the very busy category of note taking apps but they do have a good one on their hands, as evidenced by its selection into Apple’s App Store Hall of Fame. … Read more]]>

Awesome Note was released in September 2009 by mobile app developer BRID Works (if your playing at home, BRID stands for Brilliant Ideas). They compete in the very busy category of note taking apps but they do have a good one on their hands, as evidenced by its selection into Apple’s App Store Hall of Fame. Over my time as an iDevice user, I’ve used Evernote, Corkulous, PlainText NotePad Pro, Manage, and Note Recorder. But from my experience, Awesome Note definitely is the one that I use everyday.

There are 3 different versions of Awesome Note on the App Store: Awesome Note Lite, Awesome Note for iPhone/iPod Touch ($3.99) and Awesome Note for iPad ($4.99). The free lite version provides full functionality, but it only allows you to enter up to 10 notes, which is good enough for a test drive. This was the one I started with before deciding to pick up the full app. I actually only have the iPhone version, as I never pay a second time for the exact same app for the iPad. As an app developer myself, I feel that if someone buys a version of my iPhone app and I release the same app for the iPad, it really should be a free (universal) upgrade as there isn’t more functionality, just a larger screen.

There are many features available to the user on Awesome Note. At its heart, this great looking note app can perform all the basic features of note taking, such as categorization, to do lists, basic notes and calendar functions. Awesome Note also provides its users the ability to share notes via Bluetooth, backup to a desktop via wifi, link photos and map locations, provides push notification, email notes, and allow passcode locks for specific categories.

I generally use the app as a to do list, perform basic note taking, and set-up calendar reminders. The first thing that I did was set-up folders for what I needed to do most. I’ve got folders for our corporate needs, marketing, app development, app evaluation, etc.  I put my notes, to do lists, and calendar events around each of these topics. This keeps me organized and allows me to prioritize my various to do lists within a category.

For note taking, I love using the quick memo feature. When I’m at conferences or in meetings, it provides me with the ability to type in text or use the drawing feature to create super quick notes that I can revisit later. I can then save the post it as a note and then move it to a category later.

The feature that I use the most is the To Do list. I’ll set-up To Do list items within the various folders and then assign due dates on them, which effectively prioritizes my To Do list based on when items are due. I find this feature to be really useful in keeping me on track.

The last feature that is fairly new to Awesome Note and one I like is the Backup/Restore over Wifi. How it works is you select Backup from the settings menu and it will use your Wifi network to create a mini webpage. You then use the browser on your computer to type in the IP address of the backup file to download it. It is essentially the reverse for restoring the backup. While it does work (and it’s certainly nice to have as a feature), it is somewhat clunky as it’s a multi-step process.

Overall, Awesome Note is a well executed app. The interface and themes are some of the best for note taking apps for the iPhone. Note to mention that BRID continues to keep extending functionality via updates and takes user feedback into consideration for future development. While I continue to try out new productivity tools such as Priority Matrix and others, I do find myself coming back to Awesome Note time and time again for the simple fact that it’s a good product. Hopefully, the developers will continue to enhance the app with improved backup and recovery processes, automatic syncing between various installs of Awesome Note (iPhone to iPad), syncing notes and calendars with multiple users, and integration with various calendaring applications such as Outlook, iCal, and Google Calendar.

So if you’re still searching for a note app that can do so much more than just take notes, I highly recommend you give Awesome Note a go. At the very least, pick up the free lite version and see for yourself why it’s been one of the most popular in the genre for the iPhone.

grab

App Summary
Title: Awesome Note
Awesome Note for iPad
Developer: BRID
Reviewed Ver: 4.9.1 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $3.99/$4.99 App Size: Size: 22.0 MB
  • Easy to use
  • Nice visuals
  • Plenty of features
  • Developer listens to customer feedback
  • Doesn’t crash and is very stable
  • Clunky backup and recovery process
  • Can’t automatically sync between various installs of the apps
  • Must purchase separate iPhone and iPad versions
  • Fairly expensive in this category of applications

appstoreicon

Read more]]>
http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/01/27/awesome-note-for-iphone-in-review/feed/ 2
Cozi Family Organizer in Review – Get “cozi” with your family http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/01/25/cozi-family-organizer-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/01/25/cozi-family-organizer-in-review/#comments Tue, 25 Jan 2011 16:12:44 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=46841 Cozi started out in 2005 as a really great website that helped families organize their day via online calendars, todo lists and other handy tools. They’ve now moved into the mobile app space and have released both a free and paid version.  The free app has ads and the premium version (no ads) currently sells for … Read more]]>

Cozi started out in 2005 as a really great website that helped families organize their day via online calendars, todo lists and other handy tools. They’ve now moved into the mobile app space and have released both a free and paid version.  The free app has ads and the premium version (no ads) currently sells for $5.99. Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at Cozi Family Organizer Premium, the very app I rely on to manage a busy family schedule.

The first thing that the user will need to do is set-up a free account via the Cozi website. Once you’ve set one up, your other family members must also do the same in order to have access to both the website and the mobile app. In my case, my wife and I both signed up to get things rolling. Once completed, you can go ahead and download the app and log into your account. From our experience, we found ourselves using the Cozi app way more than the actual website.

There are really 4 features to the app that are shared by the family members: Family Calendar, To Do Lists, Shopping Lists, and Family Journal. Each of these functions are divided into tabs at the bottom of the app.

The Calendar allows users to put various events and reminders for family related events. For us, that meant doctors visits, dinner plans, birthday parties, and evening networking events. This way, we can be in-sync when we are evaluating our calendars. You can also add into the calendar some additional notes and information in terms of who will be attending, as well as set reminders for the specific event.

The To Do lists function provides users a way to share their “honey do” lists. We’ve set-up one for shared, one for myself, and one for my wife. Its basic list management feature will sync across each of the family member’s accounts and the list can be exported to an email to share with others. Once a task is completed, the user can either cross off the task or simply delete the specific to do item.

The Shopping list function is essentially the same thing as the To Do one, and you still have the ability to share your lists within the app and via email. The primary difference is that the user can set-up different stores such as Groceries, Costco, Target, or whatever category you wish to create for your shopping needs.

The Journal feature is a super simple way to document a specific event, tag it, and record its date. This seems to be a pretty useful feature but both my wife and I maintain our own blogs, so its not something that we would use otherwise. Just think of it as a version of the Momento (Diary/Journal) app that is targeted for families.

Overall, this is one of my favorite apps on my iPhone and I’ve got about 150 apps on it at the moment. It has helped my wife and I keep track of our busy schedules along with the schedules of our two kids. We rely on the To Do and Shopping lists every week and this definitely has reduced the, “oh, I forgot” factor. At $5.99, it may be a bit steep for some (I picked it up for $2.99 sometime ago), but if you don’t mind the ads, you can always try out the Free ad-supported version first to see if Cozi works for your family.

grab

App Summary
Title: Cozi Family Organizer Premium Developer: Cozi
Reviewed Ver: 3.1.2 Min OS Req: iOS 3.1 or later
Price: $5.99 App Size: 2.80MB
  • Simple to use
  • Seemly syncing
  • No crashing!
  • Great tool to help families stay on top of busy schedule
  • Price is bit on the high end for this category of apps
  • You need to sign up on the website before you can use the app

appstoreicon

Read more]]>
http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/01/25/cozi-family-organizer-in-review/feed/ 0
Dropbox is my friend http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/01/17/dropbox-is-my-friend/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/01/17/dropbox-is-my-friend/#comments Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:13:36 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=46407 Dropbox is awesome.  Go and get it, especially if you work with teams that must share files on a regular basis. Our app development team works from Montana, Sunnyvale, San Francisco, Woodside, and Palo Alto on a day to day basis, so its critical that we have some way to share the work that we … Read more]]>

Dropbox is awesome.  Go and get it, especially if you work with teams that must share files on a regular basis. Our app development team works from Montana, Sunnyvale, San Francisco, Woodside, and Palo Alto on a day to day basis, so its critical that we have some way to share the work that we do.  We tried a number of different web applications, and by far, Dropbox works the best.

What is Dropbox? It is essentially a web application that allows users to sync specific folders and files on their desktop to the internet.  Dropbox gives you 2GB of storage space for free and you can get 250MB of additional space for every new account that you refer to others.  Once you sign-up for Dropbox, you install a very small application that runs in the background of your desktop or laptop (essentially any computer you may work from). A new folder called Dropbox will also be installed and any folders or files that you drag into this newly designated folder will get synced to the internet.  The entire process is painless and takes about 5 minutes.

Once set-up and you’ve added files, you can log into your account through any Windows, Mac, and Linux computer via a web browser and you’ll have instant access to your files!  You can also share specific folders with different people on your team and anytime they update a file, the updates will automatically be synced back to your Dropbox account. As such, every file will always be up-to-date.  I just love the share feature as you can decide to share only specific content on a need to know basis. Another awesome feature is the ability to recover previous versions of your files (great for times when you’ve accidentally deleted something). Dropbox essentially keeps snapshots of all the saved changes in your Dropbox folder over the last 30 days. Oh, and they use very high level encryption technology to ensure maximum protection of all your files. Just be sure to use a strong password to manage your data.

For iOS users like most of you out there, there is also a universal iPhone/iPad app that you can use to access your files. It’s pretty neat to pull out my iPad during a presentation and be able to access and view nearly any of my documents.  Thus far, I’ve been able to open word, excel, PDF, and Powerpoint files.  I’ve tried OmniGraffle but unfortunately, that isn’t supported as of yet.

Here are the various files and documents that are viewable on Dropbox using the iPhone and iPad apps:

  • Images (.jpg, .tiff, .gif)
  • Music (.mp3, .aiff, .m4a, .wav)
  • Movies (.mov, .mp4, .m4v)
  • Microsoft Word documents (.doc, .docx)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint presentations (.ppt, .pptx)
  • Microsoft Excel spreadsheets (.xls, .xlsx)
  • Adobe PDF (.pdf)
  • Keynote presentations (.key)
  • Pages documents (.pages)
  • Numbers spreadsheets (.numbers)
  • Web pages (.htm, .html)
  • Text and rich-text files (.txt, .rtf, and many more)

Ease of use, accessible, version control, and security features makes Dropbox a winning productive tool in my book.  Whether it’s for sharing files with friends, family or colleagues in the work place, or simply to backup your data online, Dropbox really does simplify the entire process. It has certainly helped our team work more effectively and I’m certain that it can help you as well.

To get started, sign up here for a free Dropbox account (free up to 2GB, with paid subscription available for 50 and 100GB). Then, be sure to download the App for your iDevice. And of course, feel free to let us know how Dropbox has worked for you so far.

Read more]]>
http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/01/17/dropbox-is-my-friend/feed/ 3