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Twittelator Pro 3.6

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It seems to be a day for downloading upgrades and seeing how Twitter clients are progressing. Twittelator Pro 3.0 was the first Twitter client to take advantage of the features of OS 3.0 and the iPhone 3GS when they were introduced last year. It was ready on launch to upload audio and video. I bought it at that point, and it was an eye-opening experience. I thought Tweetie was everything a Twitter client could be…Twittelator soon showed me a whole new range of possibilities…bookmarks, lists, saved tweets and sets of tweets, in-line image thumbs in list view, intelligent tweet counts in all views, etc, etc.: Twittelator Pro was so feature rich that it made using any lesser client seem like a huge step backward. Goodbye Tweetie. (see my first Twittelator Pro review.)

Only the advent of SimplyTweet, which had a similar feature set, a simpler UI (at least in my eyes), and PUSH! took me away from Twittelator.

Still I download every Twittelator Pro upgrade just to see how it is developing. Today version 3.6 appeared in the App Store, with one feature that I just had to try right away: TextExpander support. I have become addicted to TE in SimplyTweet, and I am of the opinion that every text based iPhone app should feature integration. It is hard to imagine how useful it is until the the 6th time you begin a tweet with “Just in case you missed it:”. Setting a TE snippet to “jicumi” allows you to type just that: “jicumi” and have it magically expanded into the whole phrase, including the “:”. I use it all the time.

With the exception of Push, Twittelator Pro has done an excellent job of keeping up with new features of the OS and Twitter. This version does both traditional Retweets (with the possibility of comments) and the new Twitter native Retweet. And Twitter native lists have replaced the custom lists in previous versions of Twittelator. The advantage of using the Twitter native lists is, of course, portability. Any app that uses Twitter native lists, including the Twitter web interface itself, can use the same lists you create on Twitter, or in another client that integrates the list features. When you switch clients, for whatever reason, you do not lose your lists. Of course there is a price. Twitter lists only collect direct tweets from users. They do not collect replies. Most custom lists in the clients that implemented them collected both. You can’t have everything.

Twittelator Pro does continue to provide an interesting an unique feature called Bookmarks. This allows you to add a user to a list you can later access from the More menu to call up all that user’s tweets with a single touch.

Another of the can haves of Twittelator is  geotagging. It supports native Twitter geo tags and does an excellent job with a built-in map view for Nearby search, which is fully integrated with an intelligent list view as well. It is one of the best Nearby search implementations I have yet seen.

Version 3.6 also includes what the creator is calling an in-line browser. Of course every Twitter client that I know of uses the OS browser calls and interface to provide a way to view links within the app. Twittelator just provides a view where you can enter your own url or go to the Google page.

When you add all these new features, and more that I have not mentioned, introduced since version 3.0, Twittelator remains one of the richest Twitter experiences on any platform.

But no push. Twittelator relies on Boxcar. I downloaded Boxcar again today and set it up for Twittelator. Nah! Not the same as the native Push integration offered by Twitbit, Echofon, TwitBird, and SimplyTweet. Not at all! Sorry. No.

Then too, Twittelator has a UI that, honestly, takes some getting used to. Considering the popularity of the app, lots of people must get used to it…but it is very different from the majority of Twitter clients…and very different, in fact, from the emerging standard interface conventions among all iPhone apps. You won’t see any swipes or tap for pop-up action menus here.

For instance, here is a screen shot of the list view, with little arrows and explanations of the controls.

TwLControls

Nothing wrong with that. Everything you might want to do is there…even if it is not obvious to the new user.

But it is different. In every other Twitter client I have tested on the iPhone, tapping the tweet in the list view opens the tweet in tweet view. Tapping the tweet does nothing in Twittelator. You have to tap the user name to open tweet view. In other apps tapping the avatar initiates a reply. In Twittelator it opens the profile of the user, and gives you your only access to @users within the tweet. It also allows you to do a Reply All. To initiate a normal reply (without opening the tweet view), you have to tap the time stamp…unless the tweet is itself a reply, in which case the time stamp will be in a speech bubble, and tapping it will open conversation view for the reply (leaving you without any way to directly initiate a reply of your own until you get to the conversation view).

If there are links, or #hastags in the tweet you have to  tap the attachment icon to access them. That produces a menu of the possible links for you to choose from. That is the only way to open links or #hashtags, since once you figure out how to open the tweet view, unlike every other Twitter client on the iPhone, the links are just text…most Twitter clients require you to open tweet view before the links go live. In Twittelator you can not open a link from tweet view. Links are never live. Different. Of course, the image thumbnail right in the list view is a nice touch. Contrary to all expectation, it is live: Tapping the thumbnail opens the image viewer directly.

Here, in the screen shots, you see the pop-up menu that tapping the attachment icon opens for choosing which of the possible links you you want to activate, and the tweet view with no active links at all. As you can see, a wide range of options for action on the tweet are provided. Retweet can be set to auto choose conventional (RT or Via with comment) or Twitter native retweet, to do one or the other, or to always give you a choice. The one that is missing here is quote or repost tweet, and, unlike some other clients that have a one tap copy the whole tweet, you have to use the OS selection handles and pop-up to copy the tweet for inclusion in a new tweet.

I am not making a better/worse argument here: just pointing out that Twittelator’s UI is different, and non-standard in many ways. Cryptic. It does everything you need it to do, but it takes some time to find out how to do any given thing…and some effort to remember. (There is a fairly trough instruction manual on-line and accessible from within the app). It is easy for those already in the know. Not so much for new users. You may love it and think that all Twitter clients should work this way.

I could get used to it. And the rich feature set of Twittelator makes it worthwhile. As you would expect, the longer I live with the app, the more normal it seems. But honestly, there are a growing number of clients which have all the power features of Twittelator Pro, plus a less cryptic UI , and even fully integrated push.

Still for all that, Twittelator Pro may be just your cup of Twitter Tea. It still offers features no other client offers, and has just about every feature anyone else provides. If only it did native push. I am using it as my default client, at least until SimplyTweet implements the latest Twitter native features (lists and retweet).

For more info on Twittelator go to the Stone Design web site. Or to the App Store: Twittelator Pro.

 

 

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Written by singraham

January 9, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Photogene

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photo Everyone pretty much agrees that the iPhone camera, at least through the 3G, was a pretty poor excuse for a camera…and, of course, being the iPhone, that gave rise to a large number of apps for that. One class aimed primarily at overcoming user error…most obviously the inability to hold the iPhone straight or still enough to take a decent picture. Another class attempted to disguise the poor image quality by dressing the pics up with fancy filters and frames and effects…turning a poor image into questionable art. A final class actually attempted to do something about the poor image quality by providing basic editing tools to crop, straighten, adjust exposure, sharpness, color balance, etc.

My favorite of the editing class has always been Photogene. With a recent update to version 2.5 Photogene has, imho, pulled well ahead of the pack.

It always got the basic job done. Now it does it with panache. It always got the job done. Now it does it faster. And, with this version, Photogene moves beyond emailing the pic to contacts: you can now simply and elegantly post direct to Twitter and Facebook from within the app.

(There is also a Photogene specific gallery accessible from the splash page when you open Photogene. You can register for the Hall of Fame and add your images for other Photogene users to enjoy (and to vote on).)

You can take a pic from within the app, or work on one from your Photo Library.

The editing tools are impressive:

  • crop
  • rotate/straighten
  • filter: sharpen/blur, but also Pencil, B&W, Posterize, Sepia, Nightvision, and Heatmap (for a nod to the questionable art class)
  • Levels, Exposure, Saturation, Color temperature, and RGB sliders
  • Cartoon cutouts
  • Frames and effects: a good selection of attractive frame presets, custom, background color, a mirror effect, and vignette.

A simple enumeration of the features like that does not convey the power of the app. You have to take a pic with the phone, and then edit it in Photogene to understand how well designed and how able this little app is. Unless I am pressed for time, I always shot from with Photogene, because I know that I am going to want to sharpen and adjust exposure on just about every pic I take. Photogene makes it easy and does it quickly. And now that it posts directly to Twitter and Facebook…which represents the majority of my iPhone camera usage, it has become even more attractive.

The screen shots below are pretty much self-explanatory and include the features I use the most.

Photogene will not completely overcome the limitations of the iPhone camera, but judicious use of its set of editing tools will make every iPhone photo better, and make the iPhone a viable tool, at least for social network imaging.  What more could you ask?…oh…well, yes, there is already mention of a real 5mp camera in the iPhone 4G…but even so, Apple would have to show more understanding of the way folks use a camera phone than they have so far, or we just have the same image quality at higher pixel count. I have a feeling Photogene will survive Apple’s best attempts at a better camera. And by then we will undoubtedly be at version 3.0 and who know what power will be packed into Photogene by then!

Written by singraham

December 31, 2009 at 5:33 am

iBird apps updated to 1.8.3: the best gets better.

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If you have followed my reviews of birding apps for the iPhone, you know that in my opinion iBird Explorer is, hands down, the best of the lot.

And that is saying a lot.

To  quote myself, “iBird provides quick easy access to a what amounts to a whole library of birding resouces, right in the palm of your hand, as well as a complete set of audio recordings, and more images, including both detailed paintings and photographs, than you could look at in several years.” And the user experience is excellent as well. iBird is a true iPhone app and makes excellent use of the UI to provide that quick easy access.

Version 1.8.3, now appearing in the App Store, adds a number of useful enhancements and refinements, and bunch of new content.

I am quoting from the iBird release on the subject, with my own comments added.

New Features

1.     Shaking the device picks a random bird and plays its song. Shake twice to do it again. Word is, many users are finding this feature a good way of learning bird songs…which just might be an unforeseen benefit.

2.     Family sort on Browse page now has switch: Taxonomic / Alphabetic. An excellent compromise between the needs of the beginner and the birding purist!

3.     Multiple vocalizations for certain bird species. We currently only have these birds set up: American Robin, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, but more are coming. More will be added soon. More are needed, especially as the competition, notably Audubon Birds, features a much stronger sound library.

4.     Registration. Register iBird and we’ll send you a coupon for a free 6-month subscription to the WhatBird.com Make-a-Guide, a cool web based system, which lets you design and build custom field guides. You can see more about it here:

http://www.whatbird.com/registration/mag/make-a-guide.aspx

Fairly unobtrusive and useful to some.

5.     14 new search attributes plus all attributes are grouped in related areas. Welcome additions to the search criteria, but the best new feature is the rearrangement and grouping of the criteria in what now seems to be to be a much more logical scheme. Makes specifying a search much easier and the whole search function more useful.

6.     Includes new search by patterns.

7.     Includes new search by weight, length and wingspan. Sliders make setting the limits easy (and even a little fun!)

8.     Number of birds in each state has been increased significantly. (See table below). Do see the table. Impressive work on an already extensive database of state records!

9.     The switch for Color (ANY and ALL) has been simplified to an ON OFF switch.

10.  The Taxonomic sort switch has been simplified to an ON OFF switch. Simplicity is always good when it does not sacrifice functionality. These changes are for the good.

11.  There is a new Compare iBird Apps menu item in the More screen.

Besides the added bird sounds, over 200 additional images have been added.

In addition there are several bug fixes.

_____________________________________________________

All of which clearly keeps iBird Explorer on the top of the short list of birding apps on the iPhone. It is a great app, but more than that, it reflects a great attitude on the part of its developers. They seem genuinely motivated to produce the best birding app possible, and they put a lot of effort into keeping iBird the best. Many of the refinements offered since the app appeared are totally unneeded…if your only criteria is financial success. The app would sell just as well without them. If, no the other hand, your motivation is excellence and the most excellent user experience possible, then you develop, and continue to refine, an app of iBird’s obvious quality!

New Features of iBird 1.8.3

1. Shake opens a random species page and plays its song. 2. Switch changes Family sort from alphabetic to taxonomic. 3. Multiple vocalizations for species. Explains what each song means.

4. Register iBird and receive a free subscription to the Make-a-Guide. Build custom PDF books with just the birds you want – great for classes, vacations, etc. Three formats for books.

5. Search attributes are now grouped by similar characteristics.

6. New search by breast, belly and back pattern.

7. Search by length, weight and wingspan. Provides an amazing wealth of information about how birds compare by these attributes.

8. The default mode is ANY color matches (OR), the switch turns on ALL colors need to be true to match (AND 9. The default mode for sorting is alphabetic, the switch turns on the Taxonomic mode. 10. The item Compare Bird Apps opens a table on the web server where you can see how the iPhone bird apps stand up.

Written by singraham

December 6, 2009 at 5:48 am

CoPilot Live 8 Updated

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CoPilot 096

CoPilot Live 8

[Please see the updated take on Nav apps here to see why my opinion on CoPilot has changed.]

Just a quick note to say that CoPilot just released an update that, most noticeably, adds iPod controls within the app.

They are also saying improved GPS performance…but I never noticed any lack in that area in the previous version.

One thing I did note is that computer text to speech voice now says three tents of a mile instead of point three miles…the point often got swallowed in the previous version. It is now crystal clear.

The iPod controls are handy…but they promise auto-muting during voice instructions in the next update. That will actually make it work.

It is good to see that the CoPilot folks are keeping up their end. They are certainly on track to be the last paid alternative navigation app standing when Google Navigation blows everything else off the iPhone. After all, a few of us will still want on device maps…especially if Apple sticks with AT&T. CoPilot, on the basis of cost and a growing feature set, is the navigation app to own.

For the full review see CoPilot Live 8.

Written by singraham

November 4, 2009 at 7:48 pm