Quick Bytes

Edition: October 2012 - Vol 20 Number 10
Article#: 4085
Author: Repertoire

Phone home

An alternative to Skype, Paltalk’s latest version of Firetalk – Firetalk version 1.4 – enables users to place free (no contract) calls and send free text messages to many places worldwide. Signing up for the free VoIP application requires an email address and various service enhancements. Version 1.4 features include:

• Sign up with one’s telephone number or email address.

• No registration or contract commitment required.

• No need to change mobile plan.

• Favorites tab available to keep track of people most frequently called.

• Improved network detection for Firetalk-to-Firetalk calls.

• Enhanced display of calling credits.

• Contact photo is shown on incoming call screen.

• Various system improvements.

Access the free application at www.firetalk.com

One voice, 23 languages

Pinch Multimedia, the team behind the Converter! app, has announced the release of TalkTapp for iPhone, an app that allows users to post messages in 23 languages on social networks using their voice. Users speak to the phone, and then see the content of their spoken message appear in an Apple-like dialogue bubble. The message can then be posted on Twitter and Facebook via a single button tap. TalkTapp can also be used to send an SMS or email without having to leave the app. And, users can attach and modify pictures, much as they would with Facebook or Instagram. Future versions of the app are expected to include popular social networks, social feeds and more. The app will be available at a discounted price of 99 cents for a limited time, according to the company.

Cloudy with a chance of rain

Belo Corp. has announced the release of its new app, WeatherCaster for iPad. The app, which offers an enhanced weather forecast experience through more than ten layers of nationwide weather data and forecasting features, is the product of a collaboration between Belo and digital product strategy and development company, Smashing Ideas. WeatherCaster provides weather alerts, animated radars and interactive maps – all in high definition – and is supplemented with forecasts, news and video from Belo’s local stations. The free app also enables users to collect, post and share their favorite weather photos and videos in a social community setting. WeatherCaster can be found at http://www.weathercasterapp.com or downloaded directly from the iTunes store.

Book club

Audiobooks.com members can now take advantage of free Apple and Android apps. Available at Apple’s App Store for iPhones, iPod Touch and iPads, or at Google Play for Android devices, the apps enable customers to download or stream audio books to their mobile devices via wi-fi or cellular networks, as well as save books to their personal reading list. The Audiobooks.com library contains 10,000-plus best sellers and new releases.

Do you really know your iPhone?

Technology can be invaluable – if one knows how to use it to full capacity. Following are 10 tips for getting the most from one’s iPhone, as reported in the Wall Street Journal.

• Directly access apps. Most people program their iPhone to show some pop-up notifications. Sometimes they show up on the home screen with a Facebook notification; sometimes in a text message when the phone is locked and the screen is asleep. To open these messages, one needn’t swipe to unlock the phone before opening the app. As long as the device isn’t protected by a four-digit security code, the user can swipe from left to right on the notification to open the app in which the message appears. If the user does have a code, he or she will be prompted to enter it after swiping the notification.

• Tap to scroll up. Rather than scrolling up, up, up to get back to the top of a page, users can tap once on the status bar – where the time and battery life are displayed at the top edge of the iPhone or iPad screen – and jump right to the top. This works for websites, email, contacts and many other apps.

• Keyboard shortcuts. Tapping on a glass keyboard has its downsides, but a few shortcuts could ease the experience. Tap and hold the “Compose new message” button in mail to automatically bring up all saved email drafts. And rather than switching first to the number keyboard, then back to the letter keyboard, tap and hold the “123” key and drag it to a number to select it. Upon lifting one’s finger from the number, the letter keyboard will appear again. When entering an email address, hold down the period key to see other address endings. To see the split keyboard when the regular keyboard is in use, the user can spread both thumbs from the center of the keyboard out.

• Speed from app to app. There are shortcuts for jumping around apps without going to the home screen. Double tapping the home button reveals a pop-up tray of apps. The user can swipe to the left to scroll through them, and then select one. On the iPad, one can do this by placing four fingers on the screen and swiping all of them up at once.

• Take screenshots. To save an image, press the home button and the on/off button (top right edge) simultaneously to take a screenshot of whatever you see on the device. All screenshots are stored in “camera roll,” along with personal photos, and can be shared via e-mail or social networks.

• Swipe to search. One way to find apps on an iPhone or iPad is to swipe left-to-right from the home screen. This reveals a search box in which one can type the name of any app. This search also locates contacts, emails, calendar items, texts and more.

• Read websites more easily. Rather than struggling to read overcrowded Web pages on the iPhone or iPad screen, the user can tap the reader button, found in the URL bar at the top of a Web page, to see a clearer text version of the page. This view hides advertisements, as well. (not applicable for all websites.)

• A smarter camera (iPhone). The phone’s volume up (+) button doubles as a shutter button whenever the camera app is opened.

• Digital picture frame (iPad). The iPad can work as a digital picture frame for a photo slide show by tapping the picture frame icon, which appears to the right of the slide-to-unlock bar on the lock screen.

• Mute or screen lock (iPad). The same button that locks the screen in portrait or landscape mode can double as a mute button. Or the iPad can be muted by pulling up the multitask bar by double tapping home, and then then swiping left-to-right to see a mute.

More tips are available at www.apple.com/iphone/tips.