Blog Archives

NetNewsWire 2.0 Better Integrates Google Reader with Your iPhone [Downloads]

iPhone/iPod touch: Ever since the FeedDemon/ NetNewsWire RSS readers announced exclusive Google Reader syncing, we’ve been waiting for that anywhere-you-go goodness to arrive on iPhones. Now it has, and NetNewsWire 2.0 is almost certainly better than Google Reader’s mobile site.

To be fair, Google Reader’s mobile view is still a great option for Android, Palm Pre, and other non-iPhone browsers that want a look at what’s new in their RSS collections. But the NetNewsWire app doesn’t require a new browser window, won’t lose your place if you venture off to read a link, stores items for offline reading, and offers some great navigation and sharing options, while all the time syncing what you read and star back to your Reader account. Of course, if you’re using another reader for your feed needs, NetNewsWire can easily work from your OPML file (assuming you’re okay with creating a Google account for backup syncing).

Want to post an item to Twitter, save it for later text-only reading in Instapaper, or simply jump to the next unread item in a full item view? NetNewsWire has you covered. Are you an overwhelmed blog editor who, on a frantic Monday morning, only needs to see items from the last 24 hours? Yeah, that’s in there as well. You can customize which feeds are shown or hidden on NetNewsWire’s home page, collapse folders and categories with a single click, and star items from a convenient button that doesn’t require your finger to tap around the very tiny space between a star icon and your left screen edge. The only thing missing is Reader’s Share/Like/comment tools, but it’s our guess that it’s a small subset of users who really need those from a mobile device.

NetNewsWire offers a free download with (not too annoying) ads for iPhones and iPod touch models running at least 3.0 firmware, or a $1.99 version with no advertising.

NetNewsWire 2.0 (free) [Direct iTunes Store link via Just Another iPhone Blog]

GPush Brings Push Notification to Gmail Users on the iPhone [Downloads]

iPhone only: Last month we showed your how to set up push Gmail on your iPhone in OS X or Windows, but if you didn’t like running your PC all the time to get your notifications, GPush can help.

GPush is a newly approved iPhone application that, very simply, adds Gmail push notifications to your iPhone. (If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of push notifications, GPush notifies you the instant you receive a new email rather than after your Mail application checks for new email [or pulls].) To use it, just fire up the app and give it your Gmail username and password (your login credentials are encrypted with SSL and sent securely to Google). After that, you’ll get push notification (complete with the From and Subject fields) any time you get a new message in Gmail. GPush allows you to toggle sounds, alerts, and badge notifications, so you can determine what level of alert you want.

The catch: GPush will set you back $1 at the App Store (for now, at least—it goes up to $2 eventually). Still, a one-time price of $1 isn't bad for the potential time- and battery-saving advantages of push Gmail on your phone.

Update: Readers are having mixed results with the app, and the makers of the application are aware of the problem and working on a solution. It’s still working fine for us, but your mileage may vary.

GPush [iTunes App Store]

CourseSmart Puts Textbooks on Your iPhone [Downloads]

iPhone/iPod touch: You may be doing your best to get your textbooks for free, but for those times you’re thinking about buying, consider CourseSmart, a new iPhone application that puts textbooks in your pocket.

CourseSmart the-mobile-app is the baby of CourseSmart the-web-site, which sells digital versions of over 7,000 textbooks from most of the leading textbook publishers. When you buy a book from CourseSmart, you also get access to it (for free) on the CourseSmart iPhone app.

And while your iPhone screen certainly isn’t the best place to pore over hundreds of pages of your bio textbook, it’s probably not a bad tool for a little last-minute cramming or studying on-the-go. CourseSmart is freeware, iPhone and iPod touch only.

CourseSmart [iTunes App Store via PC World]

Bank Lets Customers Deposit Checks by Taking Pics with an iPhone [Downloads]

iPhone only: As irrelevant as online banking and ATMs makes the physical bank for a lot of your banking needs, most of us still need to head to our local bank whenever it’s time to cash a check. The New York Times reports that a bank called USAA doesn’t think that should be necessary, and is introducing a new feature to their iPhone application sometime this week that will allow customers to deposit checks by simply snapping a picture of both sides of the check.

After that, you just submit the photos and void the check in your hand. The deposit to your account is instant. Talk about a dream come true. The only reason this editor ever ends up in a bank is to deposit the occasional check; if this sort of functionality were to spread to more banks, it could save all kinds of time for folks.

Send Photos in Full Resolution from Your iPhone [IPhone Tip]

Even though your iPhone snaps pictures at pretty decent resolutions (2048×1536 from the 3GS, 1600×1200 on previous iPhone versions), your device automatically resizes photos to a measly 800×600 when you go to email them. Here’s how to fix that.

The resized pictures may be enough under certain circumstances, but if you want your pics to make it through your email in their full glory, it’s a simple matter of copy and paste.

As weblog Geek stuff points out, the resizing only happens when you share photos from your photo library via your iPhone's traditional Share button—which imports the resized pictures into an empty email. Instead of taking that route, either tap and hold on a single picture and then tap copy or select multiple pictures in album view and tap the Copy button at the bottom of your screen. Then head back to the home screen, fire up Mail, compose a new email, and paste the photos into the new message. Rather than the smaller, resized pictures, you’ll get the full resolution versions. Good to know!

Gmail Growl 1.5 Improves Push Notifications for iPhone with Prowl [Downloads]

Windows only: Remember Prowl, the iPhone application that helps you set up push Gmail notifications (and other desktop notifications) with your iPhone? When we first covered it, it was still a little Mac-centric; now it’s Windows-friendlier than ever.

Gmail Growl is a free application that monitors your Gmail account for new messages and displays desktop notifications whenever you get a new message. Now with Prowl support, Gmail Growl will also forward said alerts as push notifications to your iPhone. All you need to do is:

1) Download and install Growl for Windows if you haven’t already.
2) Download and install Gmail Growl 1.5.
3) Sign up for a Prowl account here if you haven’t already.
4) Enter your Prowl username and password into Growl for Windows.
5) Give Gmail Growl your Gmail login info and set it to run with Windows.
6) Enjoy your push notifications.

According to the download page, Gmail Growl 1.5 uses IMAP IDLE to keep an eye on your new Gmail messages, which provides near-instantaneous alerts of new messages—meaning Prowl's push notifications via Gmail Growl should be about as close to true push as you can get with Gmail on the iPhone right now.

Gmail Growl is freeware, Windows only. Prowl, on the other hand, will set you back $3 on the iTunes App Store.

Set Up “Push” Gmail on Your iPhone [Hack Attack]

Despite iPhone 3.0‘s push notifications and previously mentioned Google Sync's contacts and calendars syncing chops, push Gmail still hasn't come to the iPhone. But with the Prowl iPhone application, you can now push Gmail notifications—and then some—to your iPhone.

What Prowl Does

The $3 Prowl iPhone application [iTunes App Store Link] works in conjunction with Growl, the universal notification application for Macs, to push desktop notifications to your iPhone. (The current release of Growl for Windows doesn't yet work with Prowl, but the latest unreleased version supposedly already does—meaning Windows users should be able to do this once Growl for Windows updates.)

How It Works

The image associated with this post is best viewed using a browser.Whenever an application sends a notification to Growl, Growl sends that notification to Prowl's servers, which in turn sends a push notification to your iPhone. So, for example, if you've got Growl set up to display new Gmail notifications (details below), Prowl can push those same notifications to your iPhone. The cool part about Prowl is that it doesn't just work with Gmail—it works with anything that Growl does.

NOTE: What you’ll get after following these instructions isn’t true push email, but it’s a pretty solid approximation. In fact, in order for it to work consistently, you’ll need to have an always-on computer to push your Growl notifications to your iPhone. But until something better comes along, it’s a pretty strong alternative.

Set Up Prowl with Growl

If you haven’t already, go download and install Growl (it will install as a new preference pane in the System Preferences of your Mac).

Next, head over to the Prowl web site and register for an account (Prowl doesn’t even require an email address). Once registered, download the Prowl plug-in for Growl, unzip it, and double-click the Prowl.growlView file to install the Prowl plug-in to Growl.

Once you've done that, you're ready to set up Prowl on your computer. Fire up the Growl preference pane (System Preference -> Growl), then click on the Display Options tab. Select Prowl in the Display Styles list on the left, then enter the Prowl username and password you registered with and click Verify to make sure Growl can properly talk to Prowl's servers. (If everything's copacetic, you'll see a green checkmark next to the Password field.) If you want to use Prowl as the default for Growl (meaning you want the majority of your Growl notifications pushed to your iPhone), you can also set Prowl as the default from the Default Style drop-down.

When you set Prowl as your display notification type, you still get to choose what your Growl notifications will look like—you just do so through this Prowl display options menu. Make sure you've ticked the checkbox labeled Display notifications using style, then select the style you prefer (I'm a smoke person). You can also adjust what kind of Growl notifications Prowl will forward and when—for example, I've set Growl to only send notifications to Prowl when the priority is at least High, and I only send notifications when my computer has been idle for more than 5 minutes (presumably you don't need push notifications if you're already sitting at your computer).

If you’ve already downloaded Prowl to your iPhone (and choked on the $3 price tag—yeah, we're cheap) and logged into your Prowl account from your device, any new Growl notifications with Prowl set as the display type will push those notifications to your iPhone. Pretty cool, huh? That can potentially include anything from your IM client to your iTunes notifier and, yes, Gmail. Of course, Gmail requires a little more set up.

Set Up Gmail Notifier with Growl and Prowl

In order to get Gmail playing nice with Growl, you’ve got a few more steps to go. First, you need to download and install the Google Notifier for Mac—the official Gmail and Google Calendar notifier from Google. Next, download the Google+Growl plug-in for Google Notifier, unzip it, and install the Google+Growl Utility to your Applications folder. When you run it, this little utility keeps its eye on the Google Notifier and pushes any new email updates (and event alerts, if you wish) to Growl… which, if set up with Prowl, pushes the alert to your iPhone.

To make sure Google+Growl is set to work with Prowl, open up Growl one more time, click the Applications tab, and double-click on Google+Growl. Make sure Prowl is set as the default display style, then click the Notifications tab. On this tab, you’ll see a notifications drop-down with New Event and New Gmail selections. Make sure that both are set with Prowl as the display style. (If, like me, you’re setting Prowl only to push high priority Growl notifications, make sure you set the priority to High as well.

Keep in mind that you need to keep Google+Growl running in the background for the whole system to work, too. It all sounds fairly convoluted for something that should be so simple, but once you’ve got it set up, you shouldn’t have to do any fiddling after that

A year or so ago I was using a third-party background app (required jailbreak) called iMapIDLE that simulated push for Gmail, and while it looks like something similar is undergoing review for the App Store, the Prowl approach seems like another very solid one. It doesn’t require you to hand over any usernames or passwords to a third party, since the notifications are all coming from your computer, and it can work with all sorts of notifications that Growl already supports (imagine getting a notification that your BitTorrent client just finished downloading that movie while you’re picking up dinner, for example).

As I said above, Windows support for using Prowl in conjunction with Growl for Windows isn't quite there, but it should be very soon, making this a pretty solid solution for rolling notifications for just about anything from your desktop—and that, we like very much.

Got something clever you’d like to use Prowl for aside from Gmail push notifications? Have another, better method you’re already using? Let’s hear it in the comments.

iPhone 3.0 Unlocking Tool Arrives via Ultrasn0w [Downloads]

Mac OS X only: If you’re running a 2G or 3G iPhone with the 3.0 firmware, your (unofficial) carrier options just opened up a bit, as the Dev Team has delivered Ultrasn0w 3.0 for full unlocking.

Downloading and installing the unlocking tool requires that you have jailbroken your phone with PwnageTool, which means that, at the moment, it's only available for Mac OS X users with 2G or 3G iPhones, and not the new 3GS—though the Team is working on both Windows tools and 3GS access. Still, if you've been intrigued at the idea of switching away from AT&T for another GSM carrier, now you can do so with a 3.0 phone.

Found success with unlocking your iPhone in the past? Wondering who in their right mind would go through this just to pay one exorbitant data plan over another? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

Ultra’s Now! [Dev-Team Blog via Gizmodo]

iPhone 3.0 Jailbreak Available via PwnageTool, QuickPwn to Follow [Downloads]

Mac OS X only: The iPhone Dev Team has already released the iPhone 3.0-jailbreaking Pwnage Tool for Mac OS X (just two days after the iPhone 3.0 release), with QuickPwn for Windows and OS X soon to follow. There are a few catches, though.

This current jailbreak has its peculiarities (it doesn’t currently work with 2G iPod touches or the iPhone 3GS), so before you go straight to the download and jailbreak, be sure to read up on the full blog post from the Dev Team. The real question at this point: The better the iPhone 3.0 software gets (and this really is the best it’s been yet), the less reason many people have to jailbreak (unlocking for other carriers is another story). Is a jailbreak still worth it to you? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

trois, drei, ???, három! [Dev-Team Blog via TUAW and Gizmodo]

Hands On with iPhone 3.0’s Best New Features [Screenshot Tour]

The iPhone 3.0 software update hit servers a few hours ago, and we spent our afternoon playing with every new feature we could find. Step inside for a look at our favorite new iPhone 3.0 features.

The Goods

  • Spotlight Search: Possibly the best feature from a productivity standpoint, just press the Home button from the Home screen (specifically the first page of your Home screen) to bring up a quick search box that searches across the breadth of your iPhone. That includes contacts, bookmarks, music, applications, notes, calendar, and even email messages. Incidentally, you can also now switch the double-click Home button behavior to launch Spotlight (or the Camera). If you don't want an item indexed or you want to change the result order, just head to Settings -> General -> Home and tweak the the Search Results (this is also where you change the double-click behavior).
  • Copy and Paste This one wins the award for the longest-time-coming iPhone feature. Just double-tap or tap-and-hold a bit of text to bring up your copy context menu, adjust the start and end points of the text you want to cut or copy, then tap the Copy/Cut button to finish the job. When you’re ready to paste, just double-tap again in an input field. If you changed your mind about a paste or cut, you can also shake to undo.
  • Camera/Photos tweaks: Your Camera and Photo apps both saw some minor but cool feature updates. Pictured, you’ll see that the Camera app now sports a tiny thumbnail of the last picture you took that, when tapped, takes you to your Camera Roll. When you’re sending, copying, or deleting photos from your iPhone, you can now select multiple photos at a time (handy for iPhone reviewers emailing images to themselves).
  • Messages (aka the old SMS app) Well, this will be cool, as soon as AT&T gets it together. Right now, if you're an AT&T user, it's exactly the same as it was. When MMS is available, it'll be capable of sending vCards, pictures, audio files, and Google Maps locations—all of which would be great.
  • Form AutoFill in Safari If you’re anything like this editor, you spend a lot of your time on the iPhone in Safari. I even use Gmail via Safari rather than Mail. Sure I’m always checking that Remember Me box when I log into web sites, but now I can simply hit the AutoFill button and be done with it. It’s a security concern, to be sure, but it’s also extremely convenient.
  • Open Link Options: Anyone who’s gotten used tabbed browsing on the desktop probably feels a little suffocated by the lack of options for opening links on the iPhone. That’s all gotten a bit better with the improved Open link options in the new and improved Safari. Just tap and hold a link for a convenient pop-up that allows you to choose where you want to open the link (and lets you copy it for pasting elsewhere).
  • Search in Mail Like I said, I still do most of my iPhone emailing with Gmail in Safari, but if you use Mail regularly, the new search option, complete with filters, is gangbusters.
  • Shake to Shuffle on iPod: This novel feature has mostly just been weird in my tests. I feel like I have to shake awfully violently for it to work, and it just seems like way more effort than it’s worth.
  • Push Notification: We haven’t seen a lot of applications that already support background push notifications, but you can expect to hear a lot more about this feature as more and more apps integrate them. Right now we’re told that Tap Tap Revenge, the AP Mobile app, and a few others are already working with push. I’ve tried a few but haven’t received any push notifications yet.
  • Voice Memos App: At this point voice recording applications are a dime a dozen in the App Store, but it’s still great to see a really nice one come with iPhone 3.0 out of the box.
  • Landscape on Everything: Okay, not everything, but you now get landscape mode in Messages (SMS), Mail, Stocks, Contacts (strangely, though, just in the Contacts app and not in the Contacts section of the Phone app), and Notes. Big improvement.

Other Things to Note

The big iPhone 3.0 feature that we still can't try out here in the U.S. is data tethering, which, unfortunately, is still in the works with AT&T and will likely cost much more than it's worth.

How Do You Like It?

If, like us, you've spent your afternoon getting to know the ins and outs of the new iPhone 3.0 update, let's hear how you like it so far—and what features stand out to you—in the comments. For a more extensive look at some of the finer additions—like stereo bluetooth—check out our siblings-in-gadgetry Gizmodo’s review.

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