5 Great Free iOS Apps

Modern mobile platforms have changed the way many look at mobile computing. Your social interaction, finances, planning, time management, and entertainment can travel with you in your pocket instead of forcing you to use a bulkier notebook computer. To date, the iOS platform has brought millions of users to this environment previously dominated by pricey PDAs and business-class smartphones.

Below is a quick list of five apps for iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) that have become a big part of my daily routine.

Pandora Radio
Everyone has their own taste in music, and in the past we used to rely on local radio stations to hear something new. With the growing popularity of the Internet, music took on a new form and online radio stations began bringing new sounds to people all over the world. Even with this fantastic leap forward, the music you heard was typically limited by the disk jockey’s selection and personal preferences. This is where streaming music services like Pandora come in.

Pandora uses an algorithm to match your personal musical taste to a specific style. It learns what you like and what you don’t through a Digg-like up or down system allowing you to tell it when you like a particular song or don’t care much for it. You can also tell it the name of an artist or song and it will find similar matches and work from there.

With their iOS app, you’re able to take this customized music stream on the road with you and enjoy it wherever you are as if you were listening to a purchased song collection of your very own. If you really like a particular track, you can purchase it with a click.

TweetDeck
Being able to manage one social network account is easy, two is more difficult, three is a big hassle. TweetDeck allows its users to manage multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts in a format that’s a little easier than having to switch between multiple programs.

While TweetDeck, in my opinion, certainly isn’t the best Facebook client, it does a good job of keeping the news feed in order. Being able to post to Twitter and Facebook simultaneously without having to use apps that can send updates meant for a single network to both accidentally is another big plus of the program.

WordPress
Managing your blog from the road can be a real pain if you have to drag the notebook out, find a Wi-Fi signal, and make sure you have an outlet nearby because your notebook is constantly running low on power. One solid solution to this for me has been the WordPress app. It allows me to moderate comments, edit old posts, create new ones, change publishing options, and view articles on the fly.

In some ways, this app on the iPad is easier to manage and use than the WordPress administrative dashboard you log in to from a desktop or notebook PC.

Wikipanion
Out of all the reference apps currently installed on my iPad, none has had more impact on how I do quick checks than Wikipanion. Wikipedia is a giant source of information and having an app optimized to present its information on a mobile platform is incredibly useful.

Dropbox
This app is a quick way to get to your files from the road when you’re away from your system and need to check something on the go. The free 2GB of storage Dropbox offers customers allows you to sync your photos, documents, and other important files in the cloud as well as on your local drive. Using this app, you are able to access all of these files from your iOS device without having to open a laptop, remote in to your home machine, or bother with maintaining a home server.

I’ve used this app on numerous occasions to transfer a file from a private folder on Dropbox to a public one allowing me to download the file from a machine I didn’t trust with the password to the entire account. Once the file was downloaded to the machine, I got back on my iPad and moved the file back to its original place secured on the Dropbox server.

While these are my top 5 free iOS apps, they may not be everyone’s favorite. It comes down to the individual and what they want to get out of their mobile experience. Comments are more than welcome.

What are your favorite free iOS apps?

Twitter To Offer ‘List’ Allowing The Sharing Of Groups

Over at Twitter their blog states they they are in the process of offering a feature call ‘List’ for all account users. The new feature will allow users to share groups with other Twitter users. According to the blog article it also states that:

Lists are public by default (but can be made private) and the lists you’ve created are linked from your profile. Other Twitter users can then subscribe to your lists. This means lists have the potential to be an important new discovery mechanism for great tweets and accounts.

We started working on this feature because of the frequent requests we received from people who were looking for a better way to organize information on Twitter. Of course, that means not just twitter.com—the Platform team will follow up in a few days with information on the Lists API. This will allow developers to add support for Lists into your favorite Twitter apps.

We’re just doing limited testing for now. But once we’ve tested the feature out a bit, we’ll launch it for all accounts!

Is this a feature that you will be using? Let us know what you think and share your thoughts.

Comments welcome.

Twitter Blog

Create Drop-Down Lists In Excel

Similar to the functionality in Access, Excel lets you control entries by forcing users to select a value from a preconfigured list. By creating a drop-down arrow list, users must select from one of the possible options. If someone tries to enter in something else, Excel rejects the entry.

You use the Data Validation feature in Excel to create a drop-down list. Your first step in setting up a drop-down list is to create the list of options. With an Excel spreadsheet open, click cell A1 and type in the first list option. You can create the list in a single row or single column. For example, click cell A2, and enter in the second list option. Continue to enter in each list option.

With the list options entered into the cells, select the cell that will contain the drop-down list. Click the Data menu and click the Validation option. Click the drop-down arrow under Allow and select the List option. Click the Source control and highlight the cells that contain the list options.

Next, verify that the In-Cell Dropdown option is selected. If this option is not selected, the drop-down list won’t appear, but users will still be forced to enter one of the list values.

Finally, click OK to close the Data Validation window. The cell will now contain a drop-down arrow that, when clicked, presents the list options.

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FTC Wants Auto Warranty ‘Robo-Calls’ To Stop

I guess I have been fortunate to have not received any of the ‘robo-calls’ soliciting car warranty extensions, but some of my neighbors have been victimized. A few weeks ago I was speaking to one neighbor who stated he had received a dozen calls or so about his vehicle warranty ending. It now appears that over one billion of the calls have been made throughout the country. Even if you are on the do not call list, it seems that the list is being ignored.

According to an article about the calls, the FTC is taking action by suing the offending companies. The article states that:

The FTC named Voice Touch Inc. and Transcontinental Warranty Inc., which it called the telemarketer and promoter of the scheme, respectively, in the lawsuits. The agency is seeking injunctions forcing them to return allegedly ill-gotten gains.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz called it “one of the most aggressive” telemarketing schemes the agency has ever seen.

“I’m not sure which is worse, the abusive telemarketing tactics of these companies, or the way they try to deceive people once they get them on the phone,” Leibowitz said. “Either way, we intend to shut them down.”

It took some heavy sleuthing to determine what companies were responsible since they made “extraordinary” efforts to conceal their identities by masking their true phone numbers, he said. Such concealment by telemarketers is illegal, as is refusal to promptly identify themselves to consumers.

If a consumer received such a call about his car warranty, “there’s a very real chance that these guys did it,”

The telemarketers are misrepresenting service contracts — which consumers have to pay for — as warranties, which are included in the price of buying a vehicle, the FTC says.

“Out of warranty? You are still eligible to reactivate warranty coverage. This is the final call before we close the file.” The recording typically gives the caller an option to stop receiving calls, but they continue to come even if consumers opt out.

“This is where you’re told to push No. 1 to speak to a representative, or push No. 2 to be removed from the list. I’ve pushed that No. 2 button so many times from their calls, I’ve broken two phones!” said Craig Michie of Las Vegas.

If you have been a victim of these illegals phone calls the FTC recommends the following action:

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

I hope this information helps those who have been victimized by this illegal activity.

Comments welcome.

Silicon Valley acticle.

FTC article.

Onzilist

For some reason, human beings are obsessed with lists. We like to have things ranked and displayed for our reading pleasure. Just look at Digg. Some of the most popular submissions are lists, and it doesn’t mater if they’re detailing the best of something, the worst of something, or anything else for that matter. If we see a list, we’ll read it even if we don’t care about the subject. Instead of just reading lists, you can also create and rank them over at Onzilist.

Usually lists focus on the top ten items, but Onzilist gives you eleven entries for any given topic. Apparently that extra one really makes a difference. Who knew? Anyway, you’ll find a number of lists that have already been created, and you can rank them however you’d like. By enabling people to reorder lists that have already been created, Onzilist can show us a global average of the data instead of just one person’s viewpoint of how the list should be organized. This is helpful for research because the way other people rank certain lists may surprise you.

Angie's List – Major Cities Only

I spotted a TV advertisement this AM over on CNN for a site called Angie’s List. I did a Google and found the site. The site is basically designed to alert potential customers on which companies they should use for standard home repairs and which companies they should avoid. Kind of like a BBB but rated by clients of various companies.

There was only one minor issue. This is a fairly new service and currently only incorporates 124 major cities. Unfortunately where I live was not covered which surprised me since we are an area they covers a population of about 225,000 folks. But if your city is covered I would recommend a look-see and see what you think. Currently there is a free trial offer for one year. After which this appears to turn into a paid service.

On their web site they stated:

What is Angie’s List?
Angie’s List is where you’ll find thousands of unbiased reports and reviews about service companies in your area. Our members share their experiences with each other so that you can choose the service company that’s right for your job the first time around.

Is there an Angie?

Of course there’s a real Angie. Angie Hicks founded the List in 1995 with 1000 members in Columbus, Ohio. Since then our modest list of homeowners has spread into 124 cities with over 600,000 members. While Angie remains the keeper of the List, our members are the ones who submit reports to build the List and keep it current. As Chief Marketing Officer, Angie now focuses on promoting the company, opening new markets and assuring that all of the reports are up-to-date and helpful. She is a mother of 3 and lives a very busy and happy life with her husband in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Take a look and see what you think.

Comments welcome.

Check out Angie’s Site here

[tags]angie’s, list, home, repairs, owners, help, recommendation, [/tags].

WhatALi.st

We all have our own personal lists that refer to things we like the most, things we hate the most, and so on. Without even realizing it, you constantly create lists in your mind as you go about your day. For example, if someone asks you what your favorite bands or movies are, you’d probably at least have a basic list formulated in your mind even if you’ve never specifically thought about your answers to questions such as these. WhatALi.st is a social list service that will enable you to share your lists with others and see how they respond to them.

All registered users can create new lists, and even if you’re just browsing a list created by another user, you can still add items to it and vote on the way in which the order of the items should be. WhatALi.st really isn’t about what one particular person thinks but instead reflects the view of the community as a whole. You may start a specific list with a certain viewpoint, but the direction in which it heads next is anybody’s guess.

[tags]WhatALi.st, List, Bands, Movies, Community[/tags]