Apple’s iPhone sports a revolutionary Visual Voicemail system, but the messages you receive are still stuck on your phone. With a cheap accessory and some free software, however, you can move them over to your Mac.
Every now and then a gem of a voicemail might find its way to your cell phone. It could be a drunken friend rambling about nonsense or perhaps something more sentimental. Whatever it may be, wouldn’t it be great if you could save and archive that audio on your computer to keep forever? You can! In fact, you can capture any sound coming out of your phone, including music, videos, etc.
Before we get started, there are a couple of things you’ll need to get the job done. First is a 3.5mm audio extension cable (available for less than $10 on Amazon.com). One end of this cable will plug into your iPhone’s headphone jack and the other will go in your Mac’s audio-in jack. The second thing is a free audio recording/editing program to install on your Mac. I’m a big fan of Audacity because it’s stable and easy to use, even for beginners. With those two requirements out of the way, we’re ready to go!
- Since we’re recording audio from an outside source, we have to change the Mac’s sound input setting. Open up System Preferences and navigate to the Sound pane.
- Click on the Input tab and choose Line In from the list of devices. Make sure the Input Volume slider is all the way to the right.
- Go to Voicemail on your iPhone and get ready to select the message you want to capture.
- Back on your Mac, launch Audacity (or another similar program of your choice) and press the red Record button at the top.
- As quickly as possible, start playing the voicemail on the iPhone.
- You won’t hear anything since the sound is being piped into your Mac, but you should start seeing wavy audio signals in Audacity. When these stop and you see nothing but a straight horizontal line, you can press Audacity’s Stop button.
- Play back the message in Audacity to make sure everything worked as it should and then go to File > Export as WAV to save the file on your hard drive. Keep in mind it may take a few attempts to get the volume levels right at first.
Depending on your particular skill level, you may or may not be interested in more advanced methods of carrying out this process. I kept the tutorial basic for the sake of simplicity, but you could certainly go beyond what’s been written here.
For example, Rogue Amoeba Software offers a free Mac utility called LineIn which enables you to actually listen to your audio source (the iPhone) as it plays the voicemail through the computer. This is certainly a step up from watching sound waves moving on the screen. Additionally, you could download a program called Switch to convert your audio file into a number of formats once it’s been saved. Then you could even add voicemail messages to your iTunes library and sync them back to your iPhone for unrestricted listening.
With the Sticky Notes app, you can set yourself a reminder or leave a friendly message and see it every time you wake your iPhone or iPod touch— without needing to unlock it.
I’m the first to admit how unbelievably forgetful I am. No matter how hard I try, things just have a way of leaving my mind 5 minutes after I think of them. Of course, I’m not the only one with this problem — you may even suffer from it occasionally too. If that’s the case and you happen to be the proud owner of an iPhone or iPod touch, Sticky Notes from Air-O-Matic may be one of the most useful apps you’ll ever find.
Available from the App Store for $1.99, Sticky Notes is a tool that lets you create short notes to yourself and then saves them as your iPhone’s wallpaper. Unlike other programs (including Apple’s own Notes app), you don’t even have to unlock your iPhone to see what you wrote. Just wake the device and there it will be for quick & easy viewing.
Creating a note in Sticky Notes is extremely simple. Tap the plus (+) button in the upper-left corner and start typing your message. It can be anything from a quick shopping list to an important birthday reminder. To give users some opportunity for customization, the developer has integrated functions which change the note’s background color, font, and text size. The options are limited, but they’re fairly unimportant compared to the content of the note itself. Multiple notes can be created and stored in Sticky Notes for later editing, but only one can be set as the wallpaper at a time.
While the first half of the process is pretty much as effortless as anything can get, the second half involves a little more work on the user’s part. Since Apple does not allow 3rd party applications to change the device’s wallpaper directly, Sticky Notes merely saves an image of your note in the Camera Roll. This means you have to go into your phone’s Photos section, find the image Sticky Notes created, and set it as wallpaper manually. It’s not a time-consuming task, but it is nonetheless a minor inconvenience which can be annoying. However, as previously mentioned, this is an Apple-imposed limitation and it doesn’t take away from the overall value of the app to those who need it.
Wrapping things up, Sticky Notes is built on a fantastic idea and the execution is well done considering the roadblocks thrown out by Apple’s SDK. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to even look at the built-in Notes app when I’ve left messages for myself. With the Sticky Notes approach, however, reminders are right in front of my eyes every time I turn my iPod touch on. If you’re the forgetful kind, you won’t regret spending $1.99 for this handy app on the App Store. In fact, you’ll probably even find it to be a bargain after using it a few times and seeing how functional it is in everyday life.
Sticky Notes Wrap-Up
- Shows convenient notes & reminders on the iPhone’s wake up screen without the need to unlock
- The repetition of seeing notes every time the phone is turned on helps to remember them
- Ability to change note’s color, font, and text size
- Intuitive and visually appealing interface
- Apple does not allow setting the wallpaper directly from 3rd party apps
The free Concert Vault application from Apple’s App Store opens your iPhone or iPod touch up a whole slew of music beyond what’s already in your iTunes library. Be prepared for rare live performances galore spanning the past half-century.
Every once in a while there’s an iPhone application you can’t help but become obsessed with. Concert Vault, developed by Wolfgang’s Vault, is one such example. I’ve actually had it installed for quite some time but only recently really explored what it has to offer. Now that I have, I can’t stop. You’ll likely have the same experience depending on your musical preferences. A large portion of their catalog comes from the 1970s and 1980s, but many date right up to today as well. With thousands of quality live recordings from almost 1300 artists, you’re bound to find more than a few gems.
Concert Vault is free to download from the App Store and requires registration on the developer’s website (also free) before gaining access to their extensive archives. The good thing about this is you can actually stream music from a web browser on a Mac or PC as well as your iPhone or iPod touch. No matter what device you happen to be using, Concert Vault keeps on giving.
The application itself is very well done. It has a familiar iPhone OS interface and browsing their concerts almost feels like looking at your own iTunes library. Features such as custom playlists, favorites, and Vault Radio add even more value to the overall experience. Discovering new music is easy as well, with a search function, a new releases section, and a list of the most-played performances among all members.
As far as downsides, there isn’t much to complain about. What’s there mostly works great and the selection of free music really overshadows any minor quibbles I might have. Certain things are out of the developer’s hands such as flaky internet connections which might affect streaming playback. The same thing goes for how users must stay in the Concert Vault application in order to keep the music playing. That, of course, is a limitation Apple imposes to maintain system stability and battery life. The only thing I would really like to see is the ability to move the playhead and skip to certain points during a track. As it stands right now you must listen to the entire track from the beginning or move to the next one.
No doubt about it, music lovers will drool over Concert Vault for iPhone. Their vast collection of live recordings from the past 50 years will satisfy your guilty pleasures (Huey Lewis and the News, anyone?) and popular favorites like the Rolling Stones, U2, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, plus many more. Download Concert Vault from the App Store and register at Wolfgang’s Vault’s website (both for free) to start enjoying the wide variety of tunes.
Concert Vault Wrap-Up
- Streams music for free over WiFi, 3G, and EDGE
- Huge, diverse library of live concert performances
- Simple, appealing user interface
- Registration allows users access to music on Mac & PC via developer’s website
- Playlists & favorites sync to user’s account over internet
- Streaming occasionally hiccups depending on internet connection
- No way to move the playhead to different points during a track
When your Mac isn’t behaving as it should, there are a series of keyboard shortcuts you can use during startup to help diagnose the issue. Be prepared at all times with Startup Shortcuts for iPhone and iPod touch — a reference guide for troubleshooting your Mac.
Even though Apple’s App Store is filled with games and random nicknacks, those aren’t the categories that always excite me. Instead, my favorite types of apps are the ones that make the Mac experience better. There’s something about utilizing the power of one Apple device to improve another that just gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. If you feel the same way, you might want to take a look at Startup Shortcuts ($0.99) from developer Eric Barbosa.
Startup Shortcuts is the kind of iPhone app you won’t realize you need until it’s too late. In fact, if you never even launch it once after you first buy it, that might be a good thing. The reason is because Startup Shortcuts is a Mac troubleshooting tool meant for resolving common problems users might face.
For example, did you know resetting the SMC on a MacBook could fix issues involving LCD backlighting, sleeping & waking, trackpad input, and more? Hard core users surely know what steps to take to invoke this process, but most new or casual Mac users are probably not aware of how to go about figuring out the problem. That’s how always having Startup Shortcuts a few taps away might save the day.
The app’s main menu is a simple list of procedures which can be carried out on a Mac with painless keyboard shortcuts. Tapping on one of them will take you to another screen showing the required keystrokes and important information about what kind of scenarios it could be used for. If Startup Shortcuts sounds extremely basic, that’s because it is. No frills and no gags. Just the information you need to get your Mac up and running again.
As I mentioned before, this iPhone app may only appeal to Mac users who don’t have this group of problem-solving techniques memorized like it was their own name. I wouldn’t go so far as to say power users wouldn’t find it useful at all. It really comes down to how good your memory is. Mine, for instance, is horrendous. Using another computer or even your iPhone’s web browser to frantically look for help in a Mac emergency is an option, of course. Personally, I would rather have peace of mind for 99 cents than waste precious time and energy searching online. Check out Startup Shortcuts from the App Store for yourself and give it a shot. You never know when its convenience might come in handy.
Startup Shortcuts Wrap-Up
- Easy to navigate menus
- Extremely convenient to have when Mac issues arise
- Offers a good variety of the most important shortcuts
- Includes helpful descriptions about each process to guide the user
- Interface is bland and almost too simple
Almost like a Swiss army knife of sorts for the iPhone and iPod touch, iCatchall offers a solid mix of 16+ worthwhile utilities and pointless distractions in one app. At a low price of 99 cents, it’s a package deal that’s hard to beat.
There is a ridiculous number of applications filling up Apple’s App Store (over 20,000 and counting), many of which don’t do a heck of a lot on their own. And yet people continue to buy and download them individually, one at a time. For example, on your iPhone you may have a tip calculator, flashlight, ruler, fart noises, and more all taking up icon space on your home screens. Wouldn’t it be great if all of these tiny single-function apps were combined to create one super multi-function app? That’s what the folks at Headlight Software were thinking when they developed iCatchall for iPhone and iPod touch. It packs a whopping 16+ tools and time-wasters all together for just $0.99 on the App Store.
Now, while iCatchall was built to do a lot of stuff at once, the question is does it do any of it well? Yes and no. Some of its best features (which I’ll get to soon) are worth way more than 99 cents alone, but there are far more misses than hits when you look at the overall package. Nonetheless, there’s so much here that even just a few high points are enough to make this app worth checking out.
In my view, the reason any iPhone or iPod touch user must have iCatchall is the File Storage feature. Unlike other iPods which have Disk Mode, Apple’s Multi-Touch devices lack the ability to store files in their memory like a USB flash drive. To get around this limitation, iCatchall utilizes a wireless network connection to view & transfer files between Macs, PCs, and other iPhones. No software or setup is required; all that matters is they are connected to the same WiFi network.
Simply launching a web browser and typing in the provided IP address opens up a page for downloading and uploading a wide variety of file types to and from the iPhone. Once they’re on the phone, files can be organized by folder, renamed, and deleted right from iCatchall. It’s a practical implementation and a very user-friendly utility.
Aside from File Storage there are also a few other nifty mini apps built into iCatchall. Tools like Tip Calculator, Measure, Level, and Flashlight (which can display a variety of colors) work well and can certainly prove helpful in real-life situations. I must admit even the seemingly pointless Tap Counter entertained me for a while as my fingers raced wildly on the screen to see how fast I could go. As for the other Fun Stuff and Sound Effects, there’s really not much worth mentioning. They might be interesting the first time, but the novelty wears off rather quickly. The developers seem to have recognized this and even created a separate version of the program called iCatchall Tools (also for 99 cents on the App Store), which strips out the nonsense and just gives you the good stuff.
Although it’s not anywhere near perfect, there’s no arguing the pure value offered by iCatchall. At a small cost of $0.99 there’s no reason not to give it a shot, if only for File Storage and some of the other handy tools. The developers promise to continue integrating even more useful features into the all-in-one application as well, so it should only get better with time. You can purchase iCatchall directly from the App Store or check out Headlight Software’s website for more information. There’s even an iPhone parody commercial to show off the software’s features on YouTube.
- Incredible value considering most other apps do far less for more money
- Saves home screen icon space
- Simple and organized user interface
- Easy to use File Storage over wireless network
- Good collection of features that will come in handy when needed
- Occasionally encounters minor interface bugs/glitches
- Half of the 16+ included apps are mostly filler
You may not realize it, but some of your Mac’s valuable disk space might be eaten up by caches and old files created by that iPod/iPhone of yours. No problem — it’s very likely you’ll be able to easily free up a gigabyte of space or more!
Just about 200 million iPods have been sold since the iconic device’s unveiling in October 2001, with another 17 million iPhones since June 2007. That’s a massive number of potential stuffed Mac hard drives. How are they related? In order to keep things running smoothly, iTunes generates a series of caches and backups which reside on your Mac. These generally make syncs with iPods & iPhones quicker and help set things straight if a factory restore needs to be done. In real life use, however, they’re not really needed and can unnecessarily take up a good chunk of disk space.
There are three main areas where you can clear out the clutter brought on by your iPod or iPhone — photo caches, software updates, and mobile applications. Here’s what you need to know to do the deed:
iPod Photo Cache
If you’ve ever synced photos from your computer to your iPod/iPhone, there’s a good chance you’ve got some space to be recovered. Deleting the iPod Photo Cache folder is all there is to it. Depending on your photo management software of choice (iPhoto, Aperture, etc.), the location of this folder may vary. Instead of giving you a bunch of different scenarios, the easiest way to go about this is searching with Spotlight.
- Open a new Finder window and type “iPod Photo Cache” in the search box.
- As shown in the screenshot below, a few settings need to be changed. Select the File Name option, press the + button on the right, select “System files” from the first drop-down menu, and select “include” from the second menu.
- In the search results, you should see at least one iPod Photo Cache folder. To see how much disk space it’s taking up, select the folder and press Command+I on your keyboard. Mine, for example, was 183MB.
- To delete the folder, select and drag it to the Trash. Don’t worry about screwing anything up too badly — the caches were only meant to be temporary and can be recreated by iTunes if necessary. You won’t lose any of your photos.
iPod Software Updates
Apple regularly issues software updates for their products to increase reliability and add new features. Each time one of these updates is installed, though, your Mac’s hard drive takes the hit. Most shuffle, nano, or classic owners won’t be affected too much by this, but iPod touch and iPhone firmware updates add up quick considering they’re about 250MB each.
To track down these mammoths, navigate to [User] > Library > iTunes > iPod Software Updates. Notice in my screenshot above that I have almost 2GB worth of firmware installers for my 1st generation iPod touch and even some ancient updates for the 5th generation iPod I sold over a year and a half ago! There’s no reason for all of these files to still be here, so out they go. You can select the entire contents of the iPod Software Updates folder and Trash it. If you ever need to restore your iPod or iPhone back to factory settings, iTunes will automatically download the latest version.
The final (and admittedly least effective) step towards cleaning up your Mac’s hard drive is deleting old versions of iPhone applications downloaded from the App Store. When iTunes installs application updates from developers, both the new and outdated versions remain on your computer. Since they’re so small to begin with in most cases, the only time old apps will really eat up space is if you’ve got a ton of applications installed. Nonetheless, it’s good to be aware of what’s going on in case you go app crazy.
All of your iPod touch and iPhone apps are stored in a folder called Mobile Applications, located at [User] > Music > iTunes. The list of files you see here each represent a specific version of the software you’ve downloaded. When you see an application name more than once (for example, “Now Playing” is listed three times above), you can select and delete all but the most recent one. You can determine the newest version by the numbers in the filename (“Now Playing.ipa” vs. “Now Playing 1.ipa” vs. “Now Playing 3.1.ipa”) or looking at the Date Modified column in Finder.
If you’re away from your Mac, that iPhone or iPod touch in your pocket can serve as a gateway to your system’s desktop with RemoteTap.
Whether you’re connected to your own local wireless network or away from home (using WiFi, 3G, or EDGE), ReadPixel’s RemoteTap ($6.99 from the App Store) puts total control of your Mac right at your fingertips. With the combination of a fair price and some killer features, I’ve found it to be an incredibly useful tool. And while being able to remotely access your Mac using one of Apple’s popular Multi-Touch devices isn’t necessarily exclusive to RemoteTap, it sure offers the best value vs. performance.
Where RemoteTap differs from other VNC remote applications found on the App Store is its reliance on a free downloadable System Preferences pane for Mac OS X. Instead of using Apple’s built-in VNC server, RemoteTap’s preference pane places all the pressure on your Mac when it comes to scaling its high resolution screen down to fit the iPhone’s 3.5″ display. This reduces the amount of bandwidth needed to operate smoothly and it greatly enhances overall responsiveness. Additional features like remote wake and remote sleep are also made possible through this preference pane.
Once the RemoteTap preference pane has been downloaded and installed on your Mac, you’ll be ready to run the app from your iPhone or iPod touch for the first time. Press the plus (+) button in the upper-right corner of the screen and you’ll be given the opportunity to automatically scan the network for your Mac. Usually the program can find your Mac immediately, but I did have trouble getting it to find anything on my first attempt. Restarting your iPhone should easily resolve that.
When the Mac of your choice is found, you’ll need to enter the password you set in the computer’s RemoteTap preference pane. At this point the initial setup is complete you’re one tap away from seeing your Mac’s entire desktop! RemoteTap offers quite a bit of flexibility which makes it easier to see and interact with your Mac, despite the iPhone’s small screen. You can turn the device sideways to get a landscape view, zoom using the familiar pinching gesture, and pan around by sliding your finger across the screen.
A few features that are exclusive to RemoteTap (to the best of my knowledge) are autofocus, magnifying glass, and application control view. Autofocus is a huge time saver because it automatically zooms to fit the active window, thereby reducing the amount of scrolling needed to navigate around the screen. The magnifying glass, a helpful tool for precisely positioning the mouse cursor, is activated by touching and holding the screen for a second or so. It even lets you select text! (Copy and paste, anyone?) The final major feature I’d like to mention is application control view. As you can imagine, opening, minimizing, and quitting Mac applications might get cumbersome on the iPhone’s display. RemoteTap solves this usability issue by including a menu that lists all of your programs — sorted by those that are currently running, placed in your Dock, or in your Applications folder. It’s an exceptionally smart idea that gives RemoteTap a huge advantage over its App Store competitors.
Although it’s just about impossible to name everything RemoteTap can do in this review, there are a handful of things worth mentioning if you’re on the fence about trying it out. If you’re a power user with multiple high resolution displays connected to your Mac, RemoteTap has you covered. It supports screens up to 2560×1600 pixels and two or more displays. Frequent presenters may be interested in the integrated laser pointer — a red dot that can be moved around on the remote Mac’s desktop. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend RemoteTap as a presentation tool like I do for Air Mouse, but the laser pointer is an enticing feature. Finally, users who require additional functionality can find instructions on how to access their Macs from outside their local network and how to set up a secure connection through VPN at ReadPixel’s website.
Despite the lengthy review, the bottom line is that RemoteTap is the best Mac remote access tool available for the iPhone and iPod touch so far. The price is right, the setup is easy, and the features are plentiful. Those are three characteristics that matter most when judging any application and RemoteTap takes care of them all. Take a look at ReadPixel’s website for more information or purchase RemoteTap directly from the App Store for $6.99.
- Automatic router configuration makes setup a breeze
- Supports accessing multiple Macs (although not at the same time)
- Innovative autofocus, magnifying glass, & application control view
- Fully featured on-screen keyboard with preview typing
- Scales the screen size right on the Mac to reduce bandwidth usage
- Remote wake and sleep functions
- Zooming is awkwardly anchored at top-left corner instead of center between pinched fingers
- Preference pane installation is required on each remote Mac (a minor nitpick since the benefits outweigh the negative)
The latest version of Air Mouse, a utility that turns your iPhone or iPod touch into a wireless remote for your computer, brings the usefulness of Apple’s Multi-Touch devices to a whole new level.
It has taken a few months to get there, but the number of truly useful and revolutionary iPhone applications on the App Store is starting to take off. From the ones I have tried so far, RPA Technology‘s Air Mouse ($5.99) ranks near the top of the list. I was simply blown away by the functionality packed into this seemingly tiny app. What exactly does it do? Surprisingly, a heck of a lot.
For starters, it’s a wireless mouse and keyboard for your Mac or Windows PC. Taking advantage of the iPhone’s touchscreen and accelerometer, Air Mouse provides a number of options for controlling your computer whether you’re right in front of it or across the room. It’s especially handy when making presentations, operating home entertainment systems, or just lounging around away from your desk for a while. There are other apps out there that claim to do the same kinds of things, but the difference is that Air Mouse actually works — and pretty darn well.
After purchasing Air Mouse from the App Store, you will be required to download their free server client (available for Mac or Windows) to install on your computer. It’s a quick install with almost zero manual configuration needed, aside from minor sensitivity adjustments. Once this is set up, you’re all set to launch the Air Mouse app on your iPhone or iPod touch and start having fun.
The first way to use Air Mouse to control your computer is with the accelerometer-based air mouse mode. As you hold your iPhone in front of you and move it through the air, the cursor on your computer moves along with it. This is an excellent way to demonstrate the motion-sensing capabilities of the iPhone, but I think most people will have a very hard time getting used to it. The mouse’s behavior can become erratic and confusing at times, but that’s not where the application’s real strength is anyway. It’s all in the touch.
By pressing the button in the upper-right corner of the screen, a more traditional trackpad mode is revealed. Suddenly your iPhone can become a surprisingly accurate wireless MacBook trackpad, with the added benefit of an on-screen keyboard. Don’t want the keyboard? No biggie — shake your phone up or down to show/hide it from view. In addition, a scroll pad and Multi-Touch gestures such as two-finger scrolling and right-clicking are included as well. And yet, there’s more! Turning the iPhone on its side will bring a more practical widescreen trackpad with extra room for your fingers to roam.
I have really only scratched the surface of some of the more advanced settings and features provided by Air Mouse, but hopefully this serves as a good introduction to what it can do. In future software updates I’d like to see the developers expand the Multi-Touch trackpad gestures even further to support rotating, pinching, etc. Nonetheless, Air Mouse is a solid app and I’ve become so comfortable using it that I typed this entire article on a MacBook Pro using my iPod touch from 6-8 feet away (on a 32″ LCD TV). While it is obviously not meant to be a full-time mouse and keyboard replacement, I wanted to see if it could realistically be done without too many hiccups. And I can confidently say that Air Mouse will almost always be up to the task whenever you may need it.
Check out the Air Mouse website for more information (including a highly recommended video demo) or purchase directly from the App Store for $5.99.
Air Mouse Wrap-Up
- Stable overall with a well-designed interface
- Server client is easy to setup & customize with sensitivity settings
- Exceptional Multi-Touch trackpad mode with landscape orientation
- Modifier keys and programmable hotkeys
- Dedicated keys for media playback and web browsing
- Works with both Macs and PCs
- Motion-sensing air mouse mode can be difficult to grasp at first
- Mouse movements get sluggish close to the edges of the computer screen
If you like to take snapshots on your iPhone’s built-in camera, Pano is a fun and useful application that seamlessly stitches a series of photos together into a single wide panoramic image.
Have you ever wanted to take a photo of a large setting (perhaps a wide-ranging outdoor landscape) and not been able to capture the entire scene in one frame? It’s frustrating to have to change location and potentially ruin the great view from your original position. Specialized equipment or software are normally required to achieve this kind of functionality without moving yourself back, but it is now available for just a few dollars on Apple’s App Store. With Pano ($2.99) from Debacle Software, you can turn your iPhone into a panoramic camera with ease.
Right off the bat it’s easy to tell the application’s interface is well-polished, intuitive, and simple to use. The first step towards creating a panoramic photo on your iPhone is to take your initial leftmost shot. Merely press the green Camera button and Pano will display & ask you to confirm that you’re satisfied with the image before moving on. If it’s good, you will be instructed to turn slightly right and frame your second shot. Pano’s developers smartly integrated a valuable feature which shows a translucent overlay of your previous photo’s edge, helping you line up elements in the next image. It truly does not get any more straightforward than that and it’s the perfect implementation of such a concept.
As of version 2.0 of the software, Pano allows users to take up to six consecutive photos before merging them into one large image up to 3600×600 pixels in size. Of course, you can choose to stop early at two, three, four, or five pictures if you’d like. In this particular case Pano’s simplicity may actually hurt it — at least initially. Having only two elements to interact with (the green Camera button and the black Cancel button) means options like switching to Portrait mode or merging photos immediately are a little hard to find at first. While the word “Cancel” might be a bit misleading, rest assured the photos you’ve already taken won’t be discarded without you explicitly doing so. Once the pictures have been merged, the final panorama will automatically be placed in the iPhone’s camera roll where it can be viewed, emailed, or synced back to a computer.
Now, the most important part of evaluating any piece of software is figuring out if the intended results are actually attainable. While other panoramic photo applications for the iPhone are hit or miss and clunky to use, I have consistently had good luck creating excellent panoramas with Pano. It’s not perfect every time, but its powerful image blending and color correction capabilities do a great job. The overlapping transitions between each photo are often difficult to notice, which means you can expect a higher quality image overall. It’s even more impressive when you consider that all of this is being done on a device as small and convenient to use as the iPhone. For more information, check out Debacle Software’s website or purchase Pano directly from the App Store for $2.99.
- Wide panoramic photos on your iPhone
- Stable and intuitive to use
- Extremely simple and polished user interface
- Translucent overlay to help line up each shot
- Portrait or Landscape mode
- Excellent image stitching quality
- Scales down iPhone camera’s native image resolution
- Limited to six photos (full 360 degree panoramas would be a killer feature)
- Somewhat misleading Cancel button to reach menu items
The iPhone and iPod touch are revolutionary devices which can perform a seemingly unlimited amount of tasks, but some new users may not be aware they can do even more to improve their overall user experience.
With the iPhone selling like hotcakes all across the world, millions of people are becoming familiar with and learning just how powerful Apple’s Multi-Touch platform really is. While this comprehensive list of tips and lesser known features may not appeal to the die-hard Apple fans who are on the cutting-edge of every move the company makes, new and casual users should find at least a few gems they weren’t aware of before. If you have a helpful hint for the iPhone or iPod touch that isn’t listed here, post a comment to share it with us!
1.) Save images in Safari and Mail
If you come across an image you like and want to keep while browsing the web or viewing email, simply tap and hold it for a few seconds. A menu will appear with the option to save it to your camera roll in the Photos section.
Save images in Safari and Mail
2.) Web Clips
Similar to what you can do on a Mac with Dashboard, Safari on the iPhone & iPod touch lets you add a web page to your home screen. When viewing a web page, press the + button on the bottom of the screen to bring up the following options: Add Bookmark, Add to Home Screen, and Mail Link to this Page. When you select the 2nd button, it will remember your exact position on the page and automatically generate a thumbnail icon that appears on your home screen.
3.) Don’t discriminate web extensions
When typing a web address in Safari, the keyboard features a .com button so you don’t have to type it out character-by-character. But what if the site you want to go to doesn’t end with .com? By holding the .com button down, it will expand to show .net, .edu, and .org buttons. Keep your finger on the screen and slide to the desired extension, and release.
Don’t discriminate web extensions
4.) Quickly switch between keyboards
The great thing about a completely touch screen keyboard is that its content can change based on the requirements of the current application. When you press the @123 key to access characters such as numbers, the ampersand, the question mark, etc. it stays on this secondary keyboard until you press the ABC key to go back. If you only need to insert one of these characters, eliminate that extra keystroke by pressing and holding the @123 key and sliding your finger across the screen to the desired key. When you let go the normal keyboard layout will return.
One of the coolest new features of the 2.0 software update is the ability to take screenshots of whatever you’re doing on your iPhone or iPod touch. To do so, press the Sleep and Home buttons at the same time and a white flash will display on the screen. To view your screenshots, go to the camera roll in the Photos applications.
6.) Save battery life
If you find yourself fighting to conserve battery life, one easy way to cut down on power usage is to decrease your email fetch time. Go to Settings > Fetch New Data and choose the time interval of your choice: every 15 minutes, 30 minutes, hour, or manually. Experiment with these settings and see which one offers the best performance for you.
Save battery life
7.) Move or remove icons on the home screen
You can organize the icons on your home screen(s) however you like, including moving them to and from the dock. Tap and hold any icon until they all begin to wiggle in place. To move an icon, tap, hold, and drag it to the desired location. If you’d like to remove an application altogether, press the little X attached to its icon (note this will only work for downloaded apps, not Apple’s built-in apps).
8.) Keyboard shortcuts
In Settings > General > Keyboard you can enable a number of keyboard shortcuts to make typing a little easier. You can turn on Auto-Capitalization (takes effect when starting a new sentence), Caps Lock (double tap the Shift button on the keyboard and it will turn blue), and “.” Shortcut (double tap the space bar or press the space bar once with two fingers).
9.) iPod music controls
Even though both the iPhone and iPod touch are multi-use devices with a growing number of functions, they are first and foremost still members of the iPod family. Pressing the Home button twice, regardless of what application you’re using or if the device is locked, will bring up iPod music controls so you can conveniently pause, skip songs, or adjust the volume.
iPod music controls
10.) Go straight to the top
If you’re in an application that requires you to scroll a lot (like a long web page in Safari), it can be tiresome to make your way back to the top. That is, unless you give a quick tap to the status bar (where the clock and battery indicator are). This will automatically bring you right back to the top of whatever screen you’re on.
11.) Force quit a frozen app
Occasionally an application unexpectedly freezes up and does not respond to any of your input. You can usually force quit to resolve this issue this by pressing and holding the Home button for 6-7 seconds.
12.) Wipe it clean
I had a friend whose iPod touch would not sync with iTunes and then received an error when a restore was attempted. These problems are often caused by corrupt data and content on the device. We were able to resolve the issue by going to Settings > General > Erase All Content & Settings. Be aware this will wipe out all of your content and settings, essentially forcing you to start from scratch.
13.) Two finger scroll
When you’re viewing a frame or large text box on a web page in Safari, you might notice that scrolling with your finger moves the entire page, not the content within that frame or box. To avoid this, use two fingers to scroll within the box and the containing page will stay stationary.
14.) Preview links
In Mail and Safari you can get some information about where a link will take you before you actually click on it. Just press and hold the link and a balloon with pop up telling you the exact URL it targets.
15.) Save emails as drafts
It’s not exactly obvious how to save emails as drafts on the iPhone and iPod touch because there isn’t really a clear option to do it. Instead, when you’re composing a message you need to press the Cancel button and then you’re given the option to save it.
Save emails as drafts
16.) Sleep after specified amount of time
The Clock application on the iPhone and iPod touch is surprisingly versatile, offering a World Clock, Stopwatch, Alarm, and Timer. One of the interesting things the Timer can do is put your device to sleep after a specified amount of time by going to the “When Timer Ends” field and choosing Sleep. This is great if you listen to music at night as you doze off.
Sleep after specified amount of time
17.) Swipe to delete videos and emails
When viewing your lists of Mail and Videos, you can delete items individually by sliding your finger across it (left or right), which causes a Delete button will appear. Especially in the case of deleting videos, this can help conserve space and will not permanently remove it from your iTunes library (unless it is a rented movie).
Swipe to delete videos and emails
18.) Call forwarding made easy
You can set your iPhone to forward calls to another phone by going to Settings > Phone > Call Forwarding and entering the desired phone number (with area code).
19.) Hide yourself from caller ID
If you don’t want to allow your phone number and name to appear on other peoples’ caller ID when you call them, simply go to Settings > Phone > Show My Caller ID on your iPhone and switch it off.
20.) Scientific calculator
A scientific calculator with more advanced functions is available on the iPhone and iPod touch by opening Calculator and turning your screen sideways.
21.) Move the text insertion point
While typing you may realize you made a typo and need to go back to fix it. No problem! Press your finger to the screen and drag it to the character you want to change. A magnifying glass will appear to help you see exactly where the cursor is and will disappear when you release your finger.
Move the text insertion point
22.) Enable parental controls
Parents who want to keep their young technology users from doing anything potentially questionable can turn on Parental Controls by going to Settings > General > Enable Restrictions and choosing which functions to not allow, such as listening to explicit music, browsing YouTube, and more. You will need to set a special passcode, making it impossible to get around the restrictions unless the passcode is entered.
Enable parental controls
23.) Tap to navigate home screens
In addition to swiping left or right to navigate between multiple home screens, you can also tap the lower corners of the screen’s black background (right above the Dock) once to move to the next or previous home screen.
24.) Swipe to navigate your music
While a song is playing in iPod mode, swipe your finger to the right over the album cover art to go back to your most recent song list (album tracks, playlist, etc.). This saves time if you’re multi-tasking and not able to precisely hit the Back arrow button.
25.) Avoid cancelled syncs
If you’re syncing the iPhone with your computer, the sync could be cancelled midway through if you receive a phone call. To avoid this big time waster, temporarily put the phone in Airplane mode (by going to Settings) before you sync and then change it back to normal when you’re done.
26.) Correct the auto-correct
Every once in a while the auto-correct software, which fixes commonly made spelling errors, gets confused and wants to fix something that’s not actually wrong. If you come across this often, you can teach the auto-correct to learn the word you’re trying to type by tapping the X that appears next to the suggested correction. It may take a few attempts, but it will eventually learn over time.
27.) Unplug to pause music playback
If you unplug your headphones while listening to a song, the iPod will automatically pause playback.
28.) Decline a call
Most iPhone users know they can silence a call by pressing the Sleep or Volume buttons once, but you can also decline a call and send it directly to voicemail by pressing the Sleep button twice.