iPhone virus protection mask can't shield you from ridicule

When friends and family ask me to show them a useful application on the iPhone or iPod Touch, I have no trouble pulling up four or five that convince them it's a solid platform. "A Virus Protection Mask" is not one of those apps. This 99 cent gem (which usually costs $2.99) simulates a protective face mask...for your phone.

There are a dozen mask colors to pick from, all of which sport the same design, and do not actually protect you or your phone from anything. Especially a "you paid for that?"

Related: … Read more

Use the iPhone on Verizon

Many people have complained lately about AT&T's network problems. My solution to spotty 3G data coverage: switch to Verizon.

Here's how.

The Verizon MiFi is a cigarette pack size portable access point. It takes the cellular data from Verizon and rebroadcasts it as Wi-Fi. There's also a version for Sprint's data network, if that works better in your area.

The MiFi is smaller than an iPhone. And of course, this trick will work for any phone that has Wi-Fi. Although it might not make much sense if you were using a Verizon or Sprint phone.

Turn on the MiFi and make sure it's running.

Go to your phone and connect to the MiFi's Wi-Fi access point.

Now you have Verizon's data network behind your phone.

And this means a couple things. For one, I get much better data coverage in my area with Verizon. For instance, AT&T's 3G network craps out about halfway across the Bay Bridge, cutting off my Pandora, or Twitter or whatever else I'm using. The Verizon data network stays connected all the way across.

Another happy accident of using the system this way is you get around data network restrictions.… Read more

Use your Palm Pre and iPhone in the shower

Those who become excessively intimate, or even fall in love, with their favorite gadgets, need help.

You know who you are. You clutch your iPhone as you sit at a bar. You turn your Palm Pre over in your palm as if it were a stress reliever. You wish you could take your gadget into the shower, just for security.

Thankfully, some sensitive soul at a company called Two Eggplants has come up with an ingenious way for you to commune with your digital lifeblood, even as you are scrubbing up for the day. For a mere $7.99, you … Read more

Why does this e-book cost $14?!

Dear e-book publishers: stop gouging us.

Look, I'm your biggest fan. I've been reading digitally distributed fiction and non-fiction since the early days of the PalmPilot.

The most frequently used apps on my iPhone, bar none, are Kindle, eReader, and Stanza.

But I'm getting increasingly frustrated with e-book prices, which rarely represent a savings over their print (aka dead-tree) counterparts.

Case in point: I just read a glowing review of Jonathan Tropper's "This is Where I Leave You." I'm sold; I want it. But something's amiss here: Amazon's hardcover price is $15.57, while the Kindle edition sells for $14.01.

Now, I understand books cost money. There's editing, publishing, and distribution. Paper, ink, trucks, gasoline. Storage, shipping, shelf space, sales staff. And the countless people involved in all those transactions.

E-books, on the other hand, consume zero trees. They weigh nothing, occupy no physical space, and don't get shipped in the traditional sense. Middlemen are few and far between. So you're left with, what, editing costs and the pittance you pay the authors?

Explain to me, then, why the e-book edition of "This is Where I Leave You" sells for $14.01. The $.01 suggests there must be some calculation at work, some formula you use to determine that Kindle and iPhone owners get to save all of a buck-fifty-six when they read green.… Read more

An Outbox for your mobile Gmail

For the duration of its existence until now, the offline experience on Gmail.com from your iPhone or Android phone has been a unidirectional activity: you could compose outgoing mail, but not view it before it sent.

No longer. Introduced on Thursday, Outbox is a new Gmail.com feature for Android and iPhone users. It provides mobile Web users a way to view the queue of outgoing messages that Google will ship out once the cell phone gets back into a coverage zone.

We tested Outbox by opening Gmail from the browser and then switching the phone to airplane mode. … Read more

iLuv USB charger juices up 3 gadgets at once

As owners of the iPhone are wont to (correctly) point out, their uber-handheld obviates the need to carry a separate phone, media player, and game device. But there are plenty of us who still need to tote an employer-issued BlackBerry, prefer a plain old iPod, or just can't bear a coast-to-coast flight without a DS or PSP. For that multidevice crowd, the new iLuv iAD117 USB wall charger is an inviting choice. It crowds three USB charging ports into one compact wall wart, and offers foldable power prongs for easy travel.

The triple-ported iAD117 beats similar offerings from Belkin … Read more

ReMail brings full-text e-mail search to the iPhone

I'm a heavy e-mailer on my iPhone, and one of the things that really bugs me about the built-in mail client is that it falls just short of being ready for business use. For instance, it lacks the option to flag messages, have different signatures for different accounts, or simply turn on and off an out-of-office auto-responder. But what really irks me on a daily basis is the search tool that got added in OS 3.0. Don't get me wrong, this was a really important thing to add--but there's a big problem with it: it's … Read more

iPhone OS 3.0 users plagued by missing photos

The iPhone OS 3.0 Camera Roll is running out of film for some iPhone users. A handful of photographers on Apple's discussion board are reporting that pictures taken with the iPhone camera and screen captures are disappearing from the iPhone's onboard photo library.

The bug, according to these reports, occurs when the photo names generated by the iPhone reach IMG_10000.xxx or higher, where the xxx represents either a JPG for photos, PNG for screen snapshots, or MOV for videos. Once you've reached this 10,000 mark milestone in your iPhone photography career, the Mobile Photos app no longer displays additional media files. Luckily, however, the photos are still there--they simply don't display on the phone.

Some users found help using the Phoneview utility from Ecamm on their Macs--the free demo version worked long enough to uncover the missing photos. PC users may be able to find their shots via iPhone Browser.… Read more

Five heavily discounted iPhone games

Nothing beats a good iPhone game when you've got five minutes to kill (or pummel, as it were).

Much as I love freebies, sometimes you have to pony up to get the games you want. Fortunately, even the top titles occasionally go on sale, as with these five gems:

Fist of Fury Boxing: Normally $4.99, this Nintendo 64-style slugfest is on sale for just 99 cents. Galaga Remix: Includes both the original arcade classic and the amped-up "remix" version, which features power-ups, boss fights, and the like. It's on sale for $2.99, normally $5.… Read more

HanDBase puts database in hand, on iPhone

HanDBase, from DDH Software, is an easy-to-use relational database system ported from Palm OS to the iPhone. (HanDBase sells for $9.99 from iTunes.) The application ships with a starter gallery of databases that include a checkbook, customer list, shopping list, movie list, password keeper, and billing log. If none of the included databases meet your needs, you can create your own or access more than 2,000 database templates to find one that satisfies you--all databases are free to download.

Create your own customized database

My IT career started as a software developer and database designer, I've been exposed to a variety of databases running on different platforms. HanDBase is the first I've used on a handheld device, and it works better than I expected, even on the iPhone's small screen.

To give HanDBase a workout, I launched the app on my iPhone 3GS and started developing a database template for testing various platforms and development tools. … Read more