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MailTab Displaying Email

AOTD : MailTab – lightweight desktop Gmail app (osx)

Mailtab is a nice small application for the Macintosh which is almost essential for any Gmail user who likes to check their email all the time.

Sitting nicely on your menu bar MailTab shows you when you have new e-mail in your account without having to rely on you checking your browser every time you want to see if you have mail. It also provides system notifications via growl and plays a nice little ditty when ever you do have new mail.

Continue reading → AOTD : MailTab – lightweight desktop Gmail app (osx)

Onavo for iPhone, a real money saving app?

Here in the UK we live in the land of the Unlimited*. The asterix being all important as nothing is really unlimited, just fair and never really telling you how much you can use till mobile operators feel like charging you.

So when I heard about Onavo and it’s data shrinking abilities, I jumped at the chance to take it for a test spin for a few weeks.

The premise is very much like the Opera web browser application in many ways. In Opera, data is compressed by their servers before being sent to your phone. In short going through a clever proxy that compresses images just a little more than normal, doing funky things with CSS and generally doing a LOT to reduce data usage. Great for browsing when on a 3g signal and even makes using Edge more bearable, almost zippy in fact. The only downside is that Opera does all it’s clever stuff for Opera only and no other applications.

Onavo does this for all data and all apps by simply setting up an APN (access point name ) that uses your data plan. The idea being that when you are out and about you simply get more from your data. That’s the idea in theory. I did find a a flaw that I will go into later. The APN is fully signed and secure but is located in the USA. This does add to latency issues.

The app has one button, on or off, keeping things simple. Onavo knows when you are using a wifi network and doesn’t run when in that mode. During my testing period in areas where even getting an Edge signal is problematic Onavao had to be turned off as it was timing out all over the place. This is more than likely due to a combination of the Edge signal and the proxy being based over the seas which is going to have an impact on all data services.

With a full 3G signal all works as advertised. Websites are compressed along with most other data types like [pullquote_right]there are no savings when using Onavo whilst watching streaming video or on Wifi.[/pullquote_right]facebook, twitter and emails.  For those watching the Gadget Show on Channel 5 (here in the uk) there are no savings when using Onavo whilst watching streaming video or on Wifi.  All data savings show up in the application with a nice little graph and report to tell you what apps are sucking your precious data and just how much Onavo has compressed them. Again all very impressive.

Now I don’t imagine my data usage to be that out of the reach of most iPhone users, push email, gmail on the move, maps, facebook, twitter and a few other oddities now and again, each of them gave me a saving which was excellent BUT here comes the crunch.

At one point Onavo had used 300k of data but had only saved me 128k of data negating any savings it had made with other applications.  Also the Gadget Show had it wrong about compressing data for live video streams

The Onavo app was using just as much data as it was saving in my testing times, well if not all the data certainly a good chuck of it, making this feel a little well, pointless. At one point Onavo had used 300k of data but had only saved me 128k of data. Ok so there is a data saving for sure and the idea is nice but there’s just a certain niggly little feeling I have that my data is going through a proxy in the US so I would of liked to have seen more about data privacy on their site. (update there is a full data statement on their website and it’s bloody scarey to read) These days we have just come to accept that our data and browsing processes are subject to scrutiny. Take a look at the Kindle Fire’s Silk browser for one.

Privacy Concerns.

Taking a look at the Terms and Conditions (I did warn you earlier it’s scary reading) At least they are upfront about Collecting Personally Identifiable Information. Onavo stores and processes the information through a third party’s hosting services in the USA. I wonder why the vagueness of the hosts servers and information, what protection do we have especially with hacking being prevalent as it is.

In short if you read their terms and conditions there is a LOT of data gathering go about and they can and will keep some aspects of your data INDEFINITELY. Go look it up yourself if you don’t believe me..

Back to the app. I’m hoping that I can get to an area that has proper 3g signal for some more thorough testing shortly . The times that the airwaves bless me with 3g (no it;s not antenna-gate) there is a definitely a lag between using data services with the app running using my default APN, in this case orange.

I love the idea of this app and should I go abroad where every single minuscule byte of data can lead you to a re mortgage faster than you can update your face book, I’ll definitely consider using this if I can’t find a wifi point for day to day usage, Opera serves me well enough right now.

At the moment I’d like to be convinced but slow response times and an overly generous privacy page means this app will be up for review again.

A copy of this review has been sent to Onavo and hopefully, we may get a response?!?

20111216 022526 Onavo for iPhone, a real money saving app?


However you look at it that’s some pretty impressive savings there by Opera.  This is about a weeks casual browsing.  Ok, so granted, Onvavo will compress more data but the Gadget Show got it wrong.Onavo will NOT compress data such as streaming video.

badge appstore lrg Onavo for iPhone, a real money saving app? Onavo Count – Available in the App Store

AOTD : Speedball 2 Evolution for iPhone

Ahh Speedball 2 on the Amiga, those were the days(tm) when gaming was simple and now thinking about it, isn’t it a touch ironic that gamplay has gone from the bazillion controller combinations over the years, back to simple iOS play controls.

speedball2 AOTD : Speedball 2 Evolution for iPhone

Anyway’s Speedball 2 on the Amiga was ace.   No other word for it.  Simple gameplay along with the sampled “Ice Cream” made it another instant Bitmap Brothers Classic.  So when I heard that it was coming back in the form of an iOS device, I closed my eyes very tightly and prayed very, VERY hard, hoping that this wouldnt be a hash up.  The news is good and I’m happy to report this is a great conversion.

Continue reading → AOTD : Speedball 2 Evolution for iPhone

Microsoft PhotoSynth for iPhone

This is one of those fun apps that you look to get real world usage from.  Photosynth is a way of taking many photos to create a stitched together in a full 360-degree panorama.

The nice thing about Photosynth pictures is that they don’t just produce a horizontal strip, but they also stitch vertically, giving the full sensation of standing at a particular spot. The app includes geotagging, so you can effectively add Google Street View-style points anywhere you want. On top of being shareable on Bing Maps in that format, you can also share the photos on Facebook.

Photosynth has been used on the web for awhile now in some pretty interesting ways. Their engine has chewed through a bunch of community photos, found the common elements, and identified where the picture was shot. When you take popular subjects like the Notre Dame Cathedral, this can effectively provide a full 3D tour of a subject built using stitched photos

AOTD : NewsRack iPhone Rss Reader

NewsRack is a full-featured RSS reader for iPhone and iPad with an intuitive interface. Skim over the latest headlines on a beautiful rack of newspapers (only iPhone/iPod touch) or use the powerful classic interface to read and organize feeds.

One feature that sets this apart is it’s ability to synch up with your google reader account to the point of synching what’s been read and what hasn’t.


NewsRack is Available in the Apple Store

AOTD : Zapd Helps You Create Attractive Web Sites with Your iPhone

mzl.funppdgm.320x480 75 AOTD : Zapd Helps You Create Attractive Web Sites with Your iPhoneZapd is a really neat iOS app that lets you create a web site directly from your iPhone or iPod touch. While their claim that you can do it in 60 seconds probably is a little bit of an exaggeration, it’s definitely a remarkably fast process and you’ll be able to put up a web site in a few minutes.

For example, I created this web site using content I created with my phone and content already on it. It’s neat because you have plenty of themes to choose from and you can edit the entire site directly from your phone, but the types of content you can add is similar to what you’d find with something like Tumblr. It would be really nice if it was capable of some serious editing. Maybe that’s a version that would work better on the iPad. Nonetheless, Zapd is a good app for getting a personal site up quickly in just a few minutes for a grand total of $0.

Zapd is available right now, for iPhone and iPod touch (as well as iPad in non-native mode), in the iTunes App Store. It is a completely free app.