Entries in Apps (25)


5 Grocery Shopping Apps That Can Save You Time and Money

Jupiterimages/Pixland/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The editors of Consumer Reports’ ShopSmart magazine took the time to test and try different programs and separated the good from the bad.

"Download a few convenient apps that can help you save big on the things you need the most," advised editor-in-chief Lisa Lee Freeman.

Here are some favorites from the magazine's recommendations:

1. ZipList
A startling number of people still don't make a list before they shop, even though study after study shows it saves you money by helping avoid impulse buys. This Apple and Android app creates a master list of groceries you buy over and over again, so you only have to do it once. It even organizes the list according to the aisle-by-aisle layout of participating stores.

2. Weekly Ads & Sales
Planning your menus around what's on sale in the supermarket circulars is another huge money saver, but some people can't stand all that paper pushing. This Apple app puts those circulars in electronic form. ShopSmart liked that it covers big grocery chains like Safeway and Kroger but also specialty chains like Old Navy and Best Buy.

3. Grocery iQ
Ever get that sinking feeling at checkout when the clerk asks if you have any coupons and --doh!-- you wonder if there are any good ones for the items you just loaded on the belt? This Android and Apple app finds coupons for the things on your list. ShopSmart found it works best for repeat purchases that you tend to buy every week.

4. SavingStar
Are you a guerilla grocery shopper who hunts down the very best deals at multiple markets? This app, which works on Apple, Android and Blackberry allows you to register all your loyalty cards. You're then given exclusive offers, such as $5 off of $30 spent on Charmin, Gilette or Ivory products. ShopSmart liked what's called the "One or Many" feature which lets you buy items over multiple trips to hit the quantities required for maximum savings.

5. Cellfire
Here's an app that sort of idiot-proofs your grocery shopping, even if you have no list, no circulars and no plan. Sign up via Apple, Android or Blackberry and it zings coupons directly to your loyalty cards. When you scan your card or put in your phone number at checkout, relevant coupons are waiting. There's also a store alert feature which can remind you about available coupons as you walk into the store!

To see more recommended supermarket shopping and coupon apps, check out the September 2013 issue of ShopSmart magazine, available now.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Apple Fires Manager over Troubled Maps App 

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- Apple has been firing top executives, and now another manager is out at Apple.

Richard Williamson, who was tasked with overseeing Apple's mobile mapping service, was fired shortly before Thanksgiving, the New York Times reports.
Even Apple admits its mapping software leaves something to be desired, and has told users to go elsewhere to find directions.  

Apple knew it had problems after it tried to replace Google Maps with its own on the iPhone and iPad, but its own app had streets mislabeled, images missing, and roads where, in real life, there are none.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


At Movies, CineMode App Makes It Pay to Be Polite and Stop Texting

Ryan McVay/Photodisc(NEW YORK) -- “Shh!”

“Put your phone away. ”

“Excuse me, can you please turn off your phone?”

We’ve all done it once, twice, a hundred times before. You’re sitting in a dark movie theater when, minutes before the film begins, you have a sudden urge to check your phone, update your Facebook status, or text your friend in the lobby to get you a large popcorn with extra butter.

It’s a growing issue at theaters across the nation — movie goers texting during a movie.

Now, a smartphone app is enticing repeat theater texters by offering a reward for switching their phones to vibrate.

CineMark, a major operator of movie theaters, is launching a feature on its app called CineMode.  It encourages movie lovers to stop clicking “Send” in a movie theater by rewarding them with digital coupons directly to their smartphone.

The app is available for download on iPhones and Android smartphones.

After smartphone users download the app, they will be asked to launch CineMode. A brief message will flash on the theater’s screen just before the movie begins. If CineMode is in full use, the screen on your smart phone will dim instantly and customers will be prompted to turn the phone’s volume to vibrate mode.

If moviegoers remain in CineMode for the entire length of the film, they will earn a digital coupon through the app. Users can find their coupons in the ‘Rewards’ section.

Each time moviegoers watch a movie at a CineMark theater, they’ll earn rewards while being courteous to those around them. It’s a win-win.

“At Cinemark, our number one priority is the comfort of our guests,” said James Meredith, Cinemark’s Vice President of Marketing & Communications in a press statement. “It is important to develop tools that maximize and preserve the movie-going experience. For a while, our customers have asked us to design an alternative and creative solution that addresses texting and cell phone issues in our auditoriums.”

According to a recent Pew Research study, 85 percent of U.S. adults own a cellphone. Of those, 53 percent own smartphones.

Of those 53 percent, a whopping 96 percent send text messages. Just how many of those are texting inside a movie theater is tough to say.

Regardless, this new app proves it pays to be courteous.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Twitter Adds Email Sharing; Facebook Adds Share Button to Apps

Twitter(NEW YORK) -- It’s all about sharing -- at least if you’re a heavy Twitter or Facebook user it is. On Thursday, the two social media companies rolled out some new features that will make sharing your favorite posts with others a bit easier.

Sometimes you just want to share a tweet -- and not through Twitter. The microblogging service is making it easier to share your favorite tweets via email starting very soon by adding an email feature to its website interface that will make it easier to share a tweet via that older form of electronic communication.

“You can email a Tweet to anyone, whether they use Twitter or not, right from your Twitter stream or from the details view of any Tweet,” Twitter’s Stefan Filip said in a blog post Thursday evening. The new feature, which will be rolling out over the next few weeks, will be listed under the “More” icon next to the reply, retweet, and favorite buttons on the site. Twitter also announced that it’s improving search — you will now see more photos and video when you search — and its Android and iPhone apps will have a feature that lets you see more of a tweet on the screen.

But Facebook isn’t sitting still either. Facebook Thursday added the Share button from its Web interface to its iPhone and Android apps and its mobile website. You will be able to share others’ updates with your own friends and also add a comment. The update also lets you put emotions and emoji in messages. The updates for the apps are available right now.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Instagram CEO: Sandy Our Most Documented Event Ever

Andres Betancur/ABC News(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The smartphone photo sharing app Instagram was an instant hit when it debuted in 2010. Now, two years later, the app has quickly become the most popular way that phone users share pictures, and may soon become the most popular means to share photos in any way.

When superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast last week, many people reached for their phones to document the aftermath. Most of them, it seems, used Instagram to snap the photo.

“Sandy was a really interesting event for us,” Systrom said at the Nov. 5 GigaOM conference in San Francisco. “Sandy was the single largest event captured on Instagram — and the largest event captured on cellphones ever.”

According to Systrom, nearly one million Instagram photos were uploaded with the hashtag #Sandy.

That means Instagram is much more than just a way to show off to your friends. Users, Systrom says, are now updating their accounts to document important events like Sandy in what amounts to participation in the event. Instead of passive documentation, Instagram users are communicating with photos and making their Instagram experience more than just about consumption.

That conversation with photos is also about to get even easier, as the smartphone-based app expands onto the Web. The company, which was purchased by Facebook in the spring of 2012 for nearly $1 billion, is rolling out Instagram profiles, complete with user bios and photo streams of recent uploads.

According to a post on the Instagram blog, Web profiles will be rolled out “over the next few days” in a move that is sure to open the platform up to even more users.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Microsoft Windows Phone 8: New Features and Apps Announced

Microsoft(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Even as Hurricane Sandy pounded the Eastern Seaboard, drowning out a lot of other news, Microsoft took the stage Monday afternoon in San Francisco to show off its Windows Phone 8 operating system, which the company will release on new phones this month and next.

While Microsoft had previously detailed some of the new features in the software -- and Nokia, HTC and Samsung have announced new phones --Joe Belfiore, the manager of the Windows Phone Program, announced some unseen features, and took shots at the competition, during the hour-long presentation.

"Apple did announce a fifth row of icons, but we wanted to come at it from a different point of view. We decided not to use the tired old metaphor," Belfiore said. "We put people at the center of the experience. Not icons for apps, not focus on speeds and feeds like Android and the iPhone do, respectively."

Microsoft Windows Phone operating system has always been built on the idea of "live tiles." The tiles or apps on the home screen refresh with new information on their own; you don't have to tap the app to see if the temperature outside has changed. You can also customize it with tiles of your favorite people and contacts.

Now, with Windows Phone 8, you can see some of that information on your Lock Screen. "It will automatically surface photos and notifications and content from your favorite apps," Belfiore said.

Microsoft has worked with Facebook to create a new app for Windows Phone 8 to surface Facebook updates on the lock screen. There will also be a new Twitter app that will function similarly.

Another new feature is focused on saving you money and data. It's called Data Sense, and Microsoft says it will compress data sent over the wireless network, so that you pay for fewer megabytes. The feature provides a snapshot of your data usage and also helps you find nearby Wi-Fi hotspots so you can switch off of the mobile network. Because of the feature, Belfiore said that you can get 40 percent more web browsing than other phones.

Then there's the Kids Corner, which lets you lock down parts of the phone when you hand the device over to a young one dying to play "Angry Birds" or "Fruit Ninja." You can determine what apps you'd like your child to have access to and configure it so they can't get into your email or Twitter account. Actress and model Jessica Alba, who also has a one-year-old daughter, spoke at the event about being a recent Windows Phone convert.

"I really like the Kids Corner. I can go right to the curated apps and videos that I want my daughter to have. That's really key. Prior to this phone, if my daughter was going to go on my phone, there was a strong chance she was going to be able to go on my Facebook or Twitter and post whatever she wanted," Alba told ABC News in a phone interview. Alba says she gave up her iPhone for Windows Phone two months ago.

But all the new features won't solve the major issue that's been facing Microsoft's phone platform: application selection. Many application developers first build for iPhone and the iPad, then Android and then Windows Phone.

Belfiore spent a good amount of time talking about the new and major apps coming to the platform, including UrbanSpoon and Temple Run. There are also new Facebook, Skype, and Twitter apps.

Even industry analysts were impressed by the showing. "Microsoft made a good case about how Windows Phone is different, a case they've made for two years but today is the first time they've articulated why different might be better," Michael Gartenberg, Gartner Research Director, told ABC News. "The lack of overall applications will still remain an issue but with many of the popular apps now or soon available Windows Phone 8 will appeal to many consumers if Microsoft can effectively tell them the story."

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who made an appearance at the end of the presentation, said that the momentum for the platform is at its strongest point ever.

"Our hardware partners are all in. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are all in, plus hundreds of mobile operators around the world are all in. Developers are all in, filling the Windows Phone Store with applications."

The first Windows 8 phones will go on sale as early as this coming weekend. Verizon will carry the HTC 8X, Lumia 922 and Samsung ATIV Odyssey phone. AT&T will carry the Lumia 920. T-Mobile will get the HTC 8X ($149.99) and Lumia 820 ($99.99) on Nov. 14. All the phones will be available at Microsoft's stores as well; there are 65 stores nationwide now.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New App Will Expand Your Presidential Trivia Knowledge

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  Want to bone up on your presidential trivia ahead of November’s election? There’s an app for that!

The Disney American Presidents: Unofficial Oval Office Scrapbook app, released in early October, gives users the chance to flip through a digital scrapbook in order to learn about the lives and times of our 44 U.S. presidents. (Disney is also the parent company of ABC News.)

Andrew Sugerman, executive vice president of Disney Publishing Worldwide, says the app, born out of The American Presidents DVD series and mapped to national social studies curricula for grades 3 through 8, is a way to bring the use of digital and mobile devices together with education, especially as children are learning about the elections.

However, it’s not for children only. There are adult sensibilities here too. One of the contributors to the app, Chris Regan, is a comedian who used to write for the Daily Show.

The app costs $3.99 and is available for the iPad.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Google Adds 250,000 Miles of Street View as Apple Tries to Improve

Google(NEW YORK) -- While Apple is apologizing for its new Maps app and trying to mend the glitches, Google is trying to stomp it into the ground.

For those who haven't been following the mobile maps war between the two tech giants: Apple's new maps app in iOS 6, which was released in September, replaced Google Maps for the iPhone and iPad. It was quickly criticized by many users for its lack of certain features -- but more so for mistaken locations and jumbled images.

Thursday Google announced that it is releasing the biggest update ever to its Street View feature, which gives users a view of what places actually look like from cars dispatched by Google to photograph everything they pass. The company has doubled the number of images in Street View images, adding 250,000 miles of road from around the world.

Listed on Google's blog are places where they have added more Street View coverage. Some are in the U.S., but most are abroad, in places like South Africa, Denmark, Japan and Spain.

Google has even added places like the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taiwan and Stanley Park in Vancouver.

"Street View, as you know, is a useful resource when you're planning a route or looking for a destination, but it can also magically transport you to some of the world's picturesque and culturally significant landmarks," Ulf Spitzer, the Street View program manager, wrote.

Apple's new Maps app has been criticized for lacking anything like Street View, which is very helpful when you want to see a place without going there. While Google offers its Maps service via its mobile website for the iPhone, which includes Street View, it doesn't yet offer a full mobile app in Apple's App Store.

Two weeks ago Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, apologized for the glitches in the new maps app. Apple also directed people to Google's Maps and provided instructions on how to create a shortcut to the Google Maps website on the iPhone or iPad home screen. Apple has been releasing updates to its offering, which fix glitches like distorted landmarks.

"Apple should have kept our maps," Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman, said Wednesday night at the 92nd Street Y in New York. "The fact of the matter is they decided a long time ago to do its own maps … What Apple has learned is that maps are really hard."

Interviewer Walt Mossberg asked if Google would release a dedicated app for the iPhone. "I don't want to pre-announce products," Schmidt answered.

Google has been rumored to be planning an app for the iPhone before the end of the year, though Schmidt did say that it all would depend on Apple's approval of it.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Google Makes Voter Registration Easy with TurboVote Partnership

Google(NEW YORK) -- The 2012 election and convention tech tools keep on coming.

On Tuesday Google announced the launch of its Online Voter Guide, a portal that allows Google users to register to vote easily. In addition to its YouTube Elections Hub and its Google Politics & Elections site, this page will provide easy access to TurboVote, which lets you register to vote, vote by mail, and sign up for emails and texts about the upcoming election. TurboVote breaks voter registration down into a few clickable steps.

“To make it easy to navigate the rules and deadlines about registering to vote and how to vote by mail, we put together an online voter guide. We’ve also added a special section to make it easier for military and overseas voters to find information about their different rules and deadlines,” Google’s Eric Hysen wrote on the company’s blog.  Google and YouTube will be streaming the conventions and debates at its Election Hub Channel.

The 2012 conventions are expected to be the most connected political events in U.S. history. A number of apps have been released around the events and both campaigns have been extremely active on social media outlets, like Facebook and Twitter.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Facebook's iPad and iPhone App Just Got Faster

Facebook 5.0 for iOS brings speed enhancements and a new design. (Facebook)(NEW YORK) -- If you're an iPhone or iPad owner and a heavy Facebook user, you know the Facebook app has been slow. It can take time to get to a friend's profile, see updates on your newsfeed, see comments and photos. You get used to tapping your fingers.

But on Thursday Facebook has changed that. It's released Facebook 5.0 for iOS, which promises to be twice as fast as the previous version. Facebook says it will be faster to launch, faster when scrolling through the newsfeed and opening photos.

"We've rebuilt the app from the ground up, so now the app opens much faster and your news feed and notifications load right when you open Facebook," Facebook Product Manager, Mick Johnson, wrote in a blog on Facebook Thursday. Johnson told ABC News that it took the team nine months to rewrite the entire code to make it feel like a native iOS app.

Facebook has also addressed the photo loading issue directly. Photos, it promises, will pop right up, and you can close them by swiping downward now.

In March, 488 million Facebook users (out of a total of 955 million) accessed the service via mobile apps. But Facebook has taken a lot of criticism surrounding its mobile performance. On the company's first earnings call last month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised improvements to Facebook's mobile apps.

Zuckerberg denied reports of a "Facebook phone." "There are a lot of things you can build in other operating systems as well that aren't really taking, that aren't really like building out a whole phone, which wouldn't make much sense for us to do," he said. Facebook will be integrated into Apple's iOS 6 operating system, which will launch this fall.

The next app to tackle will be the Android app. Johnson wouldn't comment on unreleased products, but did say, "you can reasonably expect we could do similar things on Android."

Facebook 5.0 is now available in the Apple App Store.

Coypright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio