Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Skype on iPhone

I was one of countless people who downloaded the new Skype app for my iPhone today. The timing was perfect as I had a Skype call scheduled with one of our authors in the U.K. I spent about 45 minutes on the call with her and it was a terrific experience.

I've been using Skype for a few months now and there's sometimes an awkward delay between speaking and hearing. I didn't encounter any of that today. In fact, the call was probably more clear than the ones I typically make via AT&T's regular network on the iPhone. Go figure.

I really liked it that we were able to use Skype's IM feature while on the call. Our author was able to send me a review and a link in the middle of the call, which was very helpful for the discussion.

I guess the only drawback I see with the Skype app is the fact that you can only make calls when connected via wifi, not 3G. I work out of my home though, so it's very convenient for me to turn on and off wifi as needed; it's mostly off because it's such a battery drain, btw. It's also nice to know that I won't be tethered to my computer when I have to call my daughter in Spain or on any other Skype calls going forward. Highly recommended, especially since the app is free!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

ESPN...and Sports Apps in General

I admit it. I'm an ESPN addict. That's why when I search for ESPN in the App Store I always end up discouraged. They offer a couple of gaming apps but that's about it. ESPN has always been the leader in rich sports content, so why isn't there an app to showcase it on the iPhone?! Done properly, it's one of the few apps I'd be willing to pay for...

And speaking of sports apps... I'm not finding any that really wow me. I've downloaded Fox Sports, MLB's At Bat Lite and NCAABBNow (for the tournament), but I wouldn't say any of them are "must-have." In fact, the NCAABBNow one is just plain awful; do they ever update scores on it?! I see MLB one is free for preseason and then you have to pay for the pitch-by-pitch data during the regular season..that seems reasonable, assuming they don't gouge me on the price. Being such a baseball fanatic I'm sure I'll wind up paying whatever they ask me to though.

In the mean time, I sure hope ESPN gets their act together and develops a killer app. They're missing a huge opportunity.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Amazon Kindle iPhone App: First Thoughts

I'm a Kindle 1 owner and was curious to see how Amazon planned to extend their platform to the iPhone. I installed the free Kindle iPhone app earlier this week and have been using it pretty much every day since.

The good news is that the app lets you sync your books with your Kindle, not just the book content itself but where you are in each one. I mention "book" a couple of times in that sentence because it's important to note that you won't get access to anything other than books through this service, which is disappointing. I subscribe to The New York Times and New Yorker magazine on my Kindle but I can't place that content on my iPhone. Yes, I know you can use the NYT's free iPhone app, but it's not the same; you have to download each article separately, which is extremely inconvenient when flying at 30K feet!

I was partway through a Stephen King book of short stories on my Kindle and I pulled it over to my iPhone. The app asked me if I'd like to jump to where I left off on my Kindle, which I did. I read a couple of stories and put it away for the night. When I went to that book on my Kindle it asked me if I'd like to jump to where I left off on my iPhone. Again, I said yes and the Kindle took me to my iPhone stopping point. Very nice.

The beauty of this is that I'll now always have all my Kindle books with me (since my iPhone is always with me). But what about those magazines? And how about all the other documents I email my Kindle account so that they're available on my device? If Amazon were smart they'd open up a service where you can keep all your documents in their cloud and access them on your Kindle or your Kindle iPhone app. I'd pay for that feature!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What's The Fastest Growing Category in the iPhone App Store?...

You probably guessed "games", and while that's still the largest category, it's not the fastest growing one. Be sure to read this excellent analysis on the state of the iPhone App Store market by Ben Lorica. It's full of very interesting stats and trends.