Reading Material: Can in-app sales and the iPad save publishing?

Apple tablet concept.There’s a good read up on Wired’s Gadget Lab about Apple’s recent removal of in-app purchase restrictions for free iPhone apps. The article suggests that the move, when implemented with the Apple tablet, could be the defib the publishing industry needs.

There are already a couple apps out there using this model, though they weren’t free to begin with. The McSweeney’s app, for instance, allowed you to purchase six months of content on installation. From there it was a subscription service for more of the premium goods. Wired thinks newspapers and magazines could use this model to differentiate premium quality content from the everyday stuff like blogs and user content.

The key to the publishing transformation, though, is the Apple tablet. For my part, I really don’t like to read content exclusively on my iPhone. I love the flexibility to do so as I please, but having content limited to just that little screen is exactly the reason I’ve avoided the McSweeney’s app. It’s just too small to use for all of my daily reading. A tablet would change that, offering the real estate necessary to make daily reading an enjoyable experience.

For more on Apple’s plan to pluck a struggling industry from the brink, check out the original post at Wired.

  

Tap Dat App – AT&T myWireless Mobile

at&t mywireless appAT&T’s free myWireless Mobile app has been out for quite a while now so if you live in the US and don’t have it already, you should. This app is a simple way to view just about everything related your wireless account as well as add features to your plan and monitor your usage. It’s quite convenient and in my opinion, should have been available since the iPhone was first released.

So, from the home page, you can click Bill & Pay, Usage, or Features. Under Bill & Pay, you can view your last payment, payment date, current balance and due date, as well as bring up PDF copy of your current bill. Pretty handy to have that all in one place. AT&T also gives you the option to make a payment from this screen as well. It was nice of AT&T to give us the ability to pay the bill from this app because we all want to make sure AT&T gets their money on time.

The Usage section is just what you’d expect. You are able to view Anytime, Night/Weekend, Mobile to Mobile, and Rollover Minutes used from the main screen. A nice addition for those of us on family plans is that you can also see all this information per individual. This would be convenient for parents as well as nosey husbands or wives. Also available in Usage is your data used which includes messaging as well as internet.

Finally, the Features section is a way to upgrade your plan. AT&T wanted to make sure anyone, anywhere with and iPhone and this app can always add more features to their plan. Not paying enough for your iPhone plan yet? Well go ahead and add Roadside Assistance or maybe VoiceDial for Postpaid. In all seriousness though, if you are traveling abroad it is easy to use this app to add Expanded Internation Roaming or 20 MB Data Global Add-On without having to call customer service.

So there you have it, AT&T myWireless Mobile app for the iPhone. It’s free and convenient so I recommend downloading it.

  

App Watch: Cardstar Manages Multiple Memberships

Mesa Dynamics' Cardstar.You’ve got your insurance card, your grocery card, your other insurance card, your gym card, your library card, your bulk-supplier-of-choice card…that’s a lot of cards, and there are plenty of other memberships I’ve not even mentioned. Luckily, the clever folks at Mesa Dynamics have programmed an iPhone app to handle all that crap.

The app, called Cardstar, comes pre-programmed with some 130 merchants and retailers across the US, Canada, and the UK. An app is only as good as its ability to be tailored to personal needs, and luckily Cardstar delivers. The app allows you to add any card that may not already be in the database.

Even though Cardstar isn’t a particularly new app, I thought I’d post since it’s running right now for free, as opposed to the normal $.99.

  

Tap Dat App – TripIt

TripItIf you travel… ever… you need TripIt. TripIt is amazing. It’s a free app for your iPhone that keeps all of the information for your upcoming travel itineraries organized and easily accessible from your iPhone. The description says it all:

Use your iPhone to access your TripIt itineraries whether you’re online, offline or in airplane mode.

TripIt is the best way to organize and share your travel plans. Forward your travel confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com, and TripIt automatically creates a master itinerary for your trip, with detailed information about flights, hotels, rental cars and much more. It also includes maps, driving directions and local weather.

I use TripIt all the time. And it’s so easy. Here’s an example of how sweet it is. I booked a flight in June for a 10 day trip and forwarded the itinerary to plans@tripit.com. Immediately the trip showed up on my phone and on the website. Great, right? Well, I actually didn’t book our rental car at the time. We weren’t sure of the details on that yet so we decided to wait. Well, a couple weeks later, we reserved the rental car. I again forwarded the itinerary to the email address. This time I was worried. I thought that I’d have to do some fancy finagling to join the two trips together so I wouldn’t be going back and forth between one trip and the other to keep track of my stuff. To my surprise however, TripIt automatically noticed the car rental was for the same dates and same airport codes as my previous trip and then joined them together. Sweet!

So now, every time I travel, I have my flights, car rental, and hotel information in one place. I also get driving directions and flight status with just a tap on the phone. Pretty much everything you need to get from point A to point B is right there in your hands without digging through emails and printing out a bunch of stuff.

Go ahead and download the free TripIt app and sign up for an account online. You’ll be glad you did when you take your next trip.

  

Top 3 – Apps Released This Week for the iPhone

Skype iPhone App

It’s time to break through the clutter and get down to business. This weekly post is going to list not the top 10, or the top 5, but the top 3 of anything gadget related. Why the top 3? Because anything more would be watered down.

So without further ado, here are the top 3 Apps released for the iPhone this week.

3. DIRECTV

With the free DIRECTV app you can connect to your home DVR and set it to record something now or in the future. With just a few taps you can search the program guide for movies and shows that are coming up then set any DVR in your home to record it. You can also set it to record Pay Per View content so you can watch it when you get home. Very cool stuff.

2. MLB.com At Bat 2009

MLB.com At Bat Lite is great. With it you can get pitch by pitch coverage of live games and keep up on box scores. You can get play-by-play and video highlights shortly after a play is complete. Upgrade to MLB.com At Bat 2009 and you will get all that plus live Gameday Audio broadcasts for every regular season and postseason game. You can even choose between listening to the home team’s broadcast or the away team’s broadcast. $9.99 is a small price to pay for a season’s worth of MLB audio at your fingertips.

1. Skype

Skype has finally landed on the iPhone. This app gives you the ability to call any of your Skype contacts for free. Anytime you’re connected via WiFi you have the ability to bring up Skype, search and call your contacts, and most importantly, save your precious minutes. If you’re not connected to WiFi, you can still bring up your contact list and instant message anyone else who is online. So make sure you download the free Skype app for your iPhone; because there is nothing better than calling your friends and family for free.