Category Archives: iPad Apps

Office for iPad Needs To Improve File Caching

Word for iPad

Microsoft is updating their Office apps on iOS at a pretty blistering rate, with a major update every one or two months, but it’s still lacking one basic feature for me: easier local storage.

Having Microsoft Excel on my iPad has been immensely useful, but it’s highly dependent on having a good internet connection when I want to access my files. I keep my work files on my office-supplied OneDrive for Business account, and accessing a large PowerPoint file can take upwards of a minute at times. Other times the download can simply stall on me, leaving me without all of the numbers I’m supposed to talk about at my meeting.

What I’d want here would be a quick way to star or earmark files for quick local caching so that, as long as I haven’t made any changes to the file, I can open the iPad up at any time and just re-open said file. What the iOS Office apps seem to do, however, is simply re-download the files every single time I want to access them, regardless of whether or not there were changes since I last loaded them. I do have the option of duplicating the file and saving a local copy to my iPad, but that copy won’t automatically sync any changes to my work PC, so it’s not really a workable solution.

I’d love to see a solution in the next few months that adds a switch to quickly cache a file as local (like Google’s Docs/Sheets/Slides apps) so that I can work on spotty Wi-Fi, but still enjoy the benefits of file syncing on OneDrive.

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MLB At Bat iPad App Updated for Opening Day

MLB At Bat iPad app

MLB At Bat, the official Major League Baseball app for iPad and iOS, has been updated right on time for Opening Day of the 2015 season.

The app was updated to Version 8.1.1 yesterday and is looking great and all set with previews of tonight’s opening matchup of the Cardinals vs the Cubs and all the rest of the slate for tomorrow’s games too.

Here’s the change list for the 8.1.1 update:

• General Performance Improvements
Version 8.0.0
• Apple Watch: Introducing support for At Bat on Apple Watch, beginning April 24, 2015, to get live scores, statistics, pitch tracking, player cards, notifications and news
• Pre-Game Lineup (iPhone)
• Up-to-the-moment game analysis feed with play tracking data, game tweets and inline video highlights (iPhone, requires Premium subscription)
• General Performance Improvements

And here’s an App Store link for MLB At Bat; it’s a free app with subscription options starting at $2.99 per month, and a universal app designed for both iPad and iPhone.

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Soulver for iPad: The Notepad I Wish I’d Had In Math Class

I can’t believe I haven’t actually written about Soulver for iPad yet, seeing as I’ve been using it on a daily basis for the past four or five months. Soulver is a great little calculations notebook for the iPad. At first glance it can look like a plain text editor, but do not be fooled — it’s got delicious math geekiness embedded between its lines.

Soulver makes it easy to handle calculations like:

  • 5 + 5
  • 10 x 2
  • 30 * (550/132)

You enter the numbers on the left side, answers appear on the right.

You can also use more natural language to calculate solutions. So instead of calculating a tip by typing “85 x 1.15”, you can also type “15% of 85” to reach the same conclusion. Or you can use Soulver to convert things like “8 oz in lbs”.

My favourite use case harnesses Soulver’s ability to refer to previous calculations and use them as variables. For example, if the first row in Soulver is “47 x 13”, I could refer to its product (611) on any other line in any other equation I create. I can also name particular lines, so I can refer to Line 1 simply as “Warehouses”. From that point onwards, any time I type out “warehouses”, Soulver substitutes that word for the number 611.

If that sounds confusing, here’s what it looks like within the app:

I use Soulver as an everday calculator, but also as a daily budget calculator. I use Next to track everyday expenses, so that app provides me a total of how much I’ve spent this month. I then plug my regular bills and income as different lines into Soulver, which ultimately provides me with a snapshot of my current budget for the month.

Of course, there are many other ways you could take advantage of the app. That’s the really fantastic thing about Soulver, and why it feels like such an easy recommendation for anyone who regularly deals with numbers on a daily basis.

Here’s an App Store link for Soulver; it’s priced at $4.99 for the Universal app, and there’s also a Mac version available.

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Pixelbite Reckless Racing bundle for iPad


If you like casual/arcade racing games for the iPad like I do, the Reckless Racing titles might be familiar to you. Pixelmate, the makers of the Reckless Racing series is offering all five of their racing games as a $4.99 bundle in the App Store right now, a $7.99 value. Best of all, if you already own one of the titles, you get a credit for it. For example, I already have Reckless Getaway on my iPad so the bundle is $3.99 for me.

Here’s a link to the Reckless Racing Bundle. Look for a comprehensive review of Reckless Racing 1-3 on iPad Insight in the near future.

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Calcbot 2.0 for iPad


Calcbot used to be my favourite calculator app before I discovered other innovative calculator alternatives like Soulver and Tydlig. However, when I saw on Twitter that Calcbot 2.0 had been released, I did have to give the app another look.

One of the easiest changes to spot in Calcbot 2.0 is its iOS 8 compatible design. Textures are much more abstract now, but the colour scheme is still delightful and brighter than ever before. The buttons are still as gigantic as before, which makes them very easy to tap if you like to use your iPad in lieu of one of those enormous physical calculators for quick calculations. I also really like the live history that’s displayed along the top of the screen, which makes it very easy to recall previous calculations, or summon the product of an earlier calculation and use it in your current one.

The visual update makes a lot of sense, and in truth, it’s been quite a while coming. However, the other change to Calcbot is that it now encapsulates one of Tapbots’ other apps, Convertbot, as an in-app purchase. Swiping left within Calcbot reveals the Convertbot interface, which makes it easy to quickly conduct various imperial, metric, and currency conversions in real time.

The $2 in-app purchase also adds an extra theme and an unlimited calculation history, but the integrated conversion feature is really the main draw.

Here’s an App Store link for Calcbot ; it’s a free download with an In-App purchase option to add another theme, unlimited calculation history, and the extra Convertbot features for another $1.99.

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Dropbox for iPad Gets A Share Extension


Dropbox for iOS was updated today with one killer new feature: a native share extension. This means that any app that brings up the iOS 8 share dialogue can save files directly to Dropbox, without any extra sign-ins or app permissions.

I tried a quick test from the Photos app earlier and I’m quite impressed by how powerful the extension is. Not only can you choose where to save a file, but you can also rename the file before you upload it to Dropbox. The only caveat is the extension doesn’t seem to work for batch uploading, so you’ll still have to enter the Dropbox app to upload more than one photo at a time. That’s not a big deal to me, though, and this update already makes it a lot easier to share files from Mail or Evernote and send them straight into Dropbox for long term storage. It’s taking a little while, but the iOS 8 share APIs are slowly bearing fruit!

My big wish at this point is easier access to the files I choose to store in iCloud. The document handler is an OK start, but I want to select multiple files and download them to my iPad all at once — and that just isn’t possible yet.

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Notes Plus for iPad Giveaway: 5 Free Codes to Be Won


You may remember last year I wrote a post about the excellent note taking app Notes Plus. My opinion was that it was a really well thought out app with plenty of options and excellent handwriting recognition, which at the time was an in-app purchase. You can read the full review here, and you can read my 3 way handwriting recognition app shootout here, in which Notes Plus came out as clear winner.

The developers have released a new version of the app with the headline feature being that handwriting recognition is no longer an in-app purchase, which is great news if you want to find a pretty accurate handwriting recognition app. The developers have also kindly given our readers 5 promo codes for Notes Plus which you can get by being one of the first 5 people to reply to this post in answer to this question:

What is the productivity app that you simply could not do without on your iPad? (mine would have to be Google Drive I think).

Your reply needs to have a valid email address, or I won’t be able to send the code to you and the contest will close on Sunday February 15 at 3:00 US Central.

In the meantime, here’s an App Store link for Notes Plus; it’s priced at $9.99.

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Using Drafts for iPad As An Action Inbox


Using Drafts for iPad As An Action Inbox

Drafts 4 is great for keeping notes and sending them elsewhere, but without the proper settings in place, it can be very easy to compile a very large list of notes that haven’t been processed. I’m currently trying a different way of organizing my tasks in a paper notebook with the Bullet Journal system, but I still want to be use my iPad as an information capturing device as well.

So my current approach is to use the Drafts badge as an inbox for items that still need to be actioned in some way. Any time I see a badge in Drafts, I’ll take a moment to action the items within the app and get that badge down to zero. After activating the badge option this morning I realized I had 39 notes just sitting in the inbox. Some of these were small notes to myself about items I was interested in, some were mini journal entries that I had forgotten to send to Day One, and some were work notes I was supposed to save to my Evernote work notebook.

I used the new multi-selection capability, added in the most recent update, to delete all of the outdated information in that list. I then used custom actions to send the other notes into Evernote and Day One, and since I set Drafts to auto-archive any notes I’ve taken an action on, my inbox was a little cleaner with every note I processed. Going forward, I plan to use my notebook as the hub for my tasks, but Drafts will remain my tool for capturing thoughts as they pop up.

I’m liking this setup right now. Drafts feels like a great bridge between digital and analog note taking, and its inbox badge feels like the perfect solution for reminding me to act on my quick digital scribbles.

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Awesome Little Features: Touch Preview in Spotify for iPad


I like Quick Look on OS X a lot. All you have to do is select something in Finder (the file browser), tap the space bar, and a small window opens up to show you a preview of the file. Text and .doc files show with some formatting, images get larger, and songs will start to play. Quick look is awesome.

Spotify has recently adapted this kind of thinking and brought their own version of quick look, called Touch Preview, to their music app. If you’re curious about an artist, you can tap and hold on their name to activate the preview. The entire interface takes on a soft blur effect, and thumbnails for different songs will pop up. Holding your finger down on a thumbnail will start playback almost immediately, and sliding your finger along the screen switches between songs. It’s a very pleasant and intuitive music browsing experience that works on albums, artists, playlists, and even single songs.

I’m really surprised by how well Touch Preview works. I’m not in love with Spotify’s UI as a whole — it can be a little unintuitive when it comes to social integration and notifications — but this is a really brilliant feature. It’s practical, works without cluttering up the UI, and it’s genuinely fun to use. Kudos!

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Khan Academy for iPad Updated: Brings 150K Learning Exercises & More

Khan Academy iPad app

The wonderful Khan Academy iPad app has been updated this week, to Version 2.0.

This is a major update for an already superb educational app. It brings access to everything that’s available at Khan Academy online – including some 150,000 learning exercises as well as personalized recommendations.

Khan Academy is a great educational tool for all ages; the iPad version has always been a great app – and now it’s even better.

Here’s an App Store link for Khan Academy – it’s still a free app, and also a universal app designed for use on both iPad and iPhone.

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How to watch Super Bowl XLIX on your iPad for free


In less than two weeks now, on February 1st, the greatest show on earth will be plastered across the majority of TV sets in America and around the world.  This year, NBC has the honor of broadcasting the gala event.  As part of their TV Everywhere content promotion of Super Stream Sunday, NBC is offering 11 hours of free online programming.  The day’s events will include Super Bowl Sunday pre and post-game shows, the Super Bowl itself, and the half-time show featuring Katy Perry.  In addition they will also include a feature presentation of The Blacklist.

All this programming will be offered free of charge.  Users will able view all the Super Bowl content offered without even having to create a username or password.  The streamed content will be available on iPads (tablets) and via desktop computers.  However, mobile users on carriers other than Verizon will have to pay to watch the Super Bowl on their phones due to an exclusive deal.

The NBC Sports Live Extra app is available for the iPad in the App Store for free!


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