Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Amazon scores with new app Windowshop but faces ire of Kindle fans

I’m a big fan of Amazon. Actually bought 1000% more e-books from the Kindle store compared to the anaemic shelves of the Ibook store. Price-wise, Amazon has also consistently been cheaper than all the other major e-book retailers. As far as my experience goes, their Kindle app on the Ipad and Iphone has also been relatively bug free and very user-friendly.

So it was a major coup again for Amazon to introduce a new and free app Windowshop for the Ipad that IMHO sets the standards in terms of what a shopping app should be: full of pictures, fast-loading, fast-scrolling, great pricing and a meaningful variety of merchandise.

Don’t get me wrong, Zappos has got a great new shopping app too (But surprisingly, they are so low-key about their app that I struggle to find any mention of it on the Zappos website). And out of preference, I shop at Amazon far too often compared to the others e-retailers. Even in Asia and Singapore, inclusive of freight, Amazon still remains competitive in certain sales categories, such as Blu-ray discs.

But where Amazon might have gone wrong is to seemingly ignore the growing numbers of Kindle fans who are complaining that e-book prices have gone out of whack – some Kindle titles have reportedly exceeded the prices of paperbacks or hardbacks that are on sale. Since last year, a small group of Kindle followers have started what is known as the 9 99 boycott. By placing such tags on e-books that exceed the price of US$9.99, this group wants to draw attention to the uncompetitive pricing of e-books. Some go so far as to say that this is a betrayal by Amazon since e-books incur almost zero marginal costs, and most Kindle fans expect e-books to bring the prices of readership down, given that unlike print, it is extremely inconvenient to share e-books.

So I hope apps for the Iphone and Ipad stay sane (I’m still waiting for Apple to offer Keynotes, Pages and Numbers for a bundle price of $9.99)...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Update Top 10 App List (Oct 2010)

I've updated my Top 10 Ipad app list:

Updated on 20 Oct 2010
1. Cut The Ropes HD
2. Kindle HD
3. Stanza (for reading .cbr files, that's comics!)
4. W.TV HD (free movies - IT'S FOR REAL!)
5. AppsFire
6. Scrabble
7. Skype (Much faster than having to take out and boot up the laptop)
8. Perfect Browser (for tabbed & private browsing)
9. Pleco (chinese dictionary)
10. Labyrinth 2/Medieval

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cut The Rope: The Game App that will dominate 2010

In my Iphone Life blog entry, I mentioned how I was pretty shocked that no one has yet blogged about the latest game app Cut The Rope that has taken hold of my kids for the past few days and globally, has ‘sold 1 million apps in 10 days’. Or maybe folks are just too busy ‘cutting those ropes’ to care :)

I haven’t been very excited about iphone/ipad game apps in a while because I usually don’t care to pay more than $0.99 for a game (I bought Civ Rev, Air Attack and Angry Birds for $0.99) and many games involve far too much time and effort after the initial buzz(Kingdoms at War), or don’t seem to be going anywhere when you get the hang of it (lvl 33 in Godfinger All Stars, what next?).

However, little known Russian app developer, Zeptolab managed to come up with an arcade IQ test type of a puzzle that has hit the sweet spot of Iphone/Ipad gaming: attractive pricing ($0.99 iphone, $1.99 ipad), quick learning curve, simple premise (get the candy to the frog), and yet provide sufficient challenge through ingenuous and well-thought out levels. The graphics are well drawn, and every level is brilliantly designed. The game progressively involves more variety and challenge, but the objective always remains the same – acrobatic manoeuvres in order to get a piece of candy from start to finish.
There’s a little something for everyone in this game, since it is a little bit of an IQ test, but sometimes you need quick reflexes, but always never too difficult to deter anyone since you can always choose to progress to the next level without having to achieve maximum points. There’s a lite version that you can try but if you choose to buy, don’t tear your hair out when you realise that you will need to start all over from the beginning :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Several (actually, 2) ways to go online with my Wifi-only Ipad

Owning a wifi-only Ipad means that it's a constant adventure for me to explore new ways of going online when I'm not at home. One method that I've been successful with is to install and use this nifty free beta software from Connectify ( Basically, what it does is to convert your wi-fi capable desktop/laptop into a wireless access point. So if you happen to be on a business trip in a hotel that only has an ethernet access point in your room, you can tap that internet connection for your Ipad (or even your Iphone in order to save on expensive 3G data roaming charges). The catch is that the software only works with the Windows 7 OS and I suspect hardware compatibility will have to be checked out (but hey, it's free!)

I had to jump through some hoops to get Connectify to work on my corporate laptop because I didn't have full administrator rights but there were workarounds (in my case, installing the software with help from the IT department).

The second method which I haven't tried, but many folks have had success with, is to use the Huawei E5830 mi-fi router. This Huawei mi-fi router works like a mobile wi-fi access point and since it runs on its own rechargeable battery, allows for true portability. It is small enough to sit in your shirt pocket and allow several wi-fi devices to share one mobile broadband connection. It's something that I've been meaning to purchase but I'm still waiting for prices to drop further. It's currently priced at about S$160 (~US$130) and it would be fantastic for me since I have an unlimited free data plan for my mobile broadband usb stick that should be usable if I transfer the simcard to the mi-fi router.

The lengths people will go for free wifi access...(Oh why didn't I get a 3G Ipad???)

The Huawei E5830 mifi

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Iphone Life blog

I received a pretty nifty email today from a representative of Iphone Life. They've agreed to try me out as one of their bloggers on their fantastic Iphone Life online magazine. I've been following news and reviews from their site for some time now and thought it could be useful for someone (c'est moi!) to offer an asian perspective on the eccentricities of owning an Iphone/Ipad in Singapore. It's made my day cos I think the whole point of blogging is to get your message out there and i think Iphone Life is going to be one of those platforms.

Check out my Iphone Life blog entries here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Why I might get an Android Tablet (even though I have an Ipad)

Watching Flash videos is a big deal for me. Most folks won't understand why but for me, it sucks to not be able to watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert from my Ipad. I'm even considering signing on to PlayOn Premium to be able to catch Comedy Central from Singapore without having to boot up my desktop/laptop etc etc. Which brings me to the main point about having an Ipad.

For busy parents with 2 young kids, it is a necessity to be able to surf the net in 3 seconds (from the time you realise you have a 5 minute 'alone-time'), then get called away for 2 hours because of an 'emergency', and then return to continue surfing where you left off, possibly in a different room, because you will have to attend to some other pressing need of the screaming nature in about 15 minutes' time.

It's not complicated..

Update: You need to keep your desktop switched on in order to run the PlayOn app on the Ipad/Iphone (which I haven't managed to succeed yet at getting the router to work with the PlayOn port forwarding settings)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Finally an Ipad competitor from Samsung

Finally Samsung has developed an Android based 7" tablet called Galaxy Tab. It's smaller than the Ipad and comes with a USB port and front-rear cameras. Hmmmm i might just get it and pass my Ipad to my kids!

Check out a picture of the Galaxy Tab and the original link here from