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Finding bargains and splitting lanes: iPhone apps of the week

Since the launch of iOS 4.3, several iPhone users have complained their batteries are draining much faster. I haven't personally noticed a difference, but for those of you who have, you'll happy to know that iOS 4.3.1 unexpectedly launched today. (It was rumored earlier this week that it might launch in two weeks).

Though there aren't many details about the release besides minor security and maintenance updates, it is likely that this early launch for the iOS means that Apple is trying to smooth out the bugs and hopefully take care of battery drain quickly.

Please let us know in the comments if you've experienced issues with iOS 4.3 and whether you noticed a difference in this latest update.

This week's apps include a well-designed barcode scanner and a game that challenges you to race through traffic on a motorcycle.… Read more

Change your screen and battle on Europa: iPhone apps of the week

Maggie Reardon wrote a post today on her Signal Strength blog about AT&T beginning to crack down on customers using the iPhone's tethering capabilities without paying for the service. Apparently the company has begun sending out e-mails and text messages to the offending customers inviting them to sign up with its tethering plan--$45/month for what it calls a "DataPro" 4GB service.

I haven't used this feature at all yet on my iPhone and I probably never will at $45 a month. But this story also brings up the old "Unlimited Data" plan argument. I think I was grandfathered in with an Unlimited Data plan (which frustratingly doesn't include texts for no reason I can understand accept that AT&T is nickel-and-diming us to death), but as you can see, my "unlimited" plan has very clear limits when it comes to tethering (and texting!). I don't know about you, but last I checked, unlimited meant without limits. Also, if the connection is going through my iPhone to my laptop, how is that any different than simply using the same connection on my iPhone without a laptop? It's the same connection, right? If not, is it really a $45-per-month difference? Somehow I doubt it.

Anyway, I just thought I would (vent) put it out there and see what readers think about the new tethering features, the pricing, and the highly limited "unlimited data" plans. Let me know what you think in the comments.

This week's apps include a unique background image collection app, and a combination first-person shooter and role-playing game that's set on Europa, the ice-covered moon of Jupiter.… Read more

March Madness On Demand offers free live feeds

March Madness On Demand offers free live feeds

Today's the day, sports fans. The NCAA men's basketball tournament slams into high gear, with 16 second-round games kicking off at noon ET--and 16 more lined up for tomorrow. Our nation's productivity is about to take a two-week nosedive.

This probably won't help, but I don't care: NCAA March Madness On Demand for iOS streams every single game, live, free of charge. That's a pretty nice change over last year, when you had to pay 10 bucks for it.

The app works on iPhones, iPods, and iPads (sorry, Android users), and can stream over … Read more

Access your media files anywhere with Libox

Access your media files anywhere with Libox

As evidenced by the introduction of Unifi at CES 2011, there's a move to provide cloud storage services that focus specifically on media files. Of course, the problem one runs into with these types of files is that they tend to be a lot larger than things like documents, spreadsheets, and presentations--downright huge, in the case of video. A new software and service called Libox is aiming to tackle that problem.

Like Unifi, Libox serves to aggregate your media files from various drives and devices (though at this time, it doesn't bring in content you may have stored … Read more

Apple gifting $10,000 for its 10 billionth App Store download

Apple gifting $10,000 for its 10 billionth App Store download

Less than 3 years after its celebrated opening, despite pointed punditry and challenging growing pains, Apple's App Store is about to claim 10 billion App downloads. To celebrate, as they did when iTunes reached 10 billion downloads, Apple is giving away a $10,000 iTunes gift card to the person that purchases the 10 billionth download.

"As of today, nearly 10 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store worldwide. Which is almost as amazing as the apps themselves. So we want to say thanks. Download the 10 billionth app, and you could win a $10,000 … Read more

Live Nation for iOS: Buy concert tix on the iPhone

Live Nation for iOS: Buy concert tix on the iPhone

Suppose you just found out Brendan Benson is playing in your town (he's in L.A. tomorrow, FYI). You don't have to run scrambling to the nearest computer to buy tickets; just fire up the new Live Nation app. With it you can find concerts in your area and buy tickets on the spot.

If your first reaction is to leave a comment telling me how much you despise Live Nation (and, by proxy, Ticketmaster), go right ahead. In fact, I'll start: If I want to pay a lot of ridiculous fees on top of already overpriced tickets, I'll just book some air travel, thank you.

But, hey, it is what it is. If you love live music, you rarely have a choice but to use Live Nation/Ticketmaster--so you might as well get some convenience out of the deal. (Say, maybe this is what all those "convenience" charges are for!)

It's a good app, letting you browse by concert or venue (both based on your location). You can search for artists or choose to see all the shows for a particular day.… Read more

Bargain-hunt with Window Shopper browser add-on

Bargain-hunt with Window Shopper browser add-on

Like it or not, the holiday shopping season is upon us. Luckily for those of us who dread the thought of wandering through crowded malls and department stores with Christmas music assaulting our ears at every turn, this nifty little tool called the Internet is here to help save our sanity. Still, scouring dozens of Web sites for the very best deal on that perfect gift is exhausting on a whole 'nother level. To that end, Superfish--a visual search engine developer that just raised $4 million in funding--has created a nifty app called Window Shopper.

Window Shopper is a … Read more

Blow away asteroids and play as a giant worm: iPhone apps of the week

Blow away asteroids and play as a giant worm: iPhone apps of the week

Hey, iPhone gamers, I received a press release just yesterday that plenty will be excited about: Real Racing 2 is coming soon for the iPhone. As one of my favorite games for 2009, the original Real Racing might be the best in its class for graphics, gameplay, and realism (as the name suggests) among auto-racing games on the iPhone.

Though there is no information beyond the announcement (here is Firemint's cryptic info page), I'm personally hoping for new tracks, new cars, and maybe even an accelerometer-based motorcycle racing mode. I admit that last wish is probably far-fetched, but it never hurts to dream, right? It almost seems impossible to improve upon the original, so I'm excited to see what Firemint will add in the sequel.

Though I can only guess at a release date, the timing of this press release seems to suggest that we could have this product on our iPhones in time for the gift-giving season. I'm crossing my fingers!

This week's apps are both arcade games: an advanced Astroids-like title and a game where you play as a man-eating giant worm.… Read more

First look: Apple iLife '11

First look: Apple iLife '11

Editors' note: We will continue to update this article as new information becomes available from Apple.

Today in Cupertino, Calif., Apple announced a major update to its multimedia management suite. The hope for iLife '11 is that it will provide a compelling reason for customers to choose Apple computers over hardware running Windows during the upcoming holiday buying season. Current Mac users can upgrade to the new iLife for $49 starting today.

iPhoto '11: The first feature for iPhoto mentioned this morning is the enhancement for full-screen modes, showing not only photos and editing possibilities, but also the ability to scroll through albums. Full-screen modes really immerse you in your photos, and have become a much desired component for many programs, including Web browsing as shown in the new "Reader" feature in Safari as well as document-composing in Word and Pages, along with e-book readers.

In addition to full-screen features, iPhoto is now more integrated with online services such as Facebook and Flickr, and will dynamically grab photos from these online accounts to show in iPhoto albums and galleries. Oddly, there was no mention of MobileMe support, but we can expect that MobileMe members will be able to access their galleries in iPhoto at least the same way as they currently do.

For those who miss Apple's iCards, the new iPhoto will have options to print photos on letterpress cards. It's not really an iCards replacement, but gives a real card people can hold in their hands, which from some perspectives is preferable.

The last new feature of iPhoto is a major enhancement to photo book creation. The books are a lot more customizable, and can be quickly formed and populated from any album. As expected with an update, there are also new themes and options for customizing layouts implemented into this feature.

iMovie '11: Apple's main goal with the latest version of iMovie is to make it even easier to use than before. For one, the app will offer news and sports themes. Also, the audio-editing bar is now highlighted to make it stand out more in project mode. Changes to the audio fade-in are visible as you edit, and there are also new audio effects, such as robot and Darth Vader. Additionally, the program offers automatic titling, which will add text such as "instant replay" to specifically selected scenes.… Read more

Camera app snaps photos while recording video

Camera app snaps photos while recording video

You know the drill: you're recording some video of the kids doing something cute, when suddenly you realize you're about to miss a snapshot-worthy moment.

Alas, Apple's Camera app locks you into one mode or the other--you can't take a photo at the same time you're shooting video.

Camera Duo can. This 99-cent video recorder includes a button that instantly captures a photo while you're recording.

This is pretty cool, though you'll have to live with a few limitations. First, photo resolution is limited to the maximum resolution of the video recorder: 1,… Read more