Kindle App for iPad Gets an Update

The latest update for the Kindle App for iPad has a few new awesome features. I previously wrote about the Kindle app here.

This App just keeps getting better and better. (For new readers: You do NOT need to own a Kindle to use the Kindle App on your iPad or iPhone. You can read books, get samples, and enjoy Kindle-goodness without owning a Kindle.)

Among the new features in this latest update:

* Adjustable margins for the iPad

It is always a good thing when given options for our reading experience. Some folks might prefer wider margins with large fonts while others may prefer lots of text on the page with minimal margins. Every new option to tweak is greatly appreciated.

* Improved Brightness Control

Some adjustments to this control have made the slider more responsive and the fonts clearer.

* Rapid Highlights

In my opinion this is the most awesome update. To highlight, just run your finger over the selected passage. Poof! Text highlighted!

Text before highlighting:

Just run your finger across the text to highlight:

Touch the highlighted text and a menu will pop up allowing you to Save it, Share it or Delete it:

Easy-breezy!

The Kindle App is FREE in the iTunes store.

How to Send a Photo with a Text Message on Your iPhone: (part of the) Very Beginner Series

* Occasional posts will contain how-tos and/or hints for VERY new users of iPads, iPhones or Kindles. All new users welcome! Non-tech speak, not terribly detailed, just basic device-enhancing goodness. All part of this Very Beginner Series.

Please share with any beginners (Mom? Dad? Grandma?) in your life. *

If you have been enjoying sending text messages with your new iPhone, you’ll find that you will enjoy it even more when you occasionally add a picture to your message. Sometimes you want to share whatever it is you are looking at, and adding a picture to your message is the perfect way to do that, instantly. If you email the photo, it might not get looked at for a while. But when the picture travels with the message, poof! your recipient gets the photo and the message at the same time.

Here is how you do it:

Open your “messages” app, represented by the green speech-bubble icon.

Choose your recipient, and get ready to compose your message.

You can type your text either before or after you select your picture. For the sake of this demonstration, we’ll type our message after we add the photo.

Tap on the little camera icon next to the message box.

A menu will pop up and ask you if you would like to use an existing photo or take a new one. If you choose to take a new one, the camera app will open so that you can take a picture. For our purpose, we are going to choose an existing picture.

Select “Choose Existing”.

This will open ‘photos’. Navigate to the photo that you want to send. (Your most recent picture will appear at the end of the photo roll.) You will see “Cancel” “Preview” and “Chooose” at the bottom of this picture. Tap on “Choose”.

Once you select it, your photo will appear in the text box window.

Just add your text and hit “send” …… swoosh!

What Game Can You Play in 15 Seconds (or less) on Your iPad or iPhone?

Sometimes you just have a few moments. You have your iPhone or your iPad in your hands, but for whatever reason this is not the time to sink into the black hole of some all-absorbing role-playing game. Even Angry Birds would be a bad “few moments” choice (only one more pig to slam, but you have to stop, NOW. uh, oh)

This “few moments” scenerio happens to us all, and UConnect is a super puzzle game to fill that time.

So simple, yet so puzzle-satisfying.

You are presented with one screen with a collection of lines, forming a shape. Your job: run your finger over all the lines (each and every one) without lifting your finger off the screen.

That’s all there is. It doesn’t take a lot of time (unless you get totally stumped). It takes some thought, but not terribly much, so it’s easy to pick up and do on the fly, in between the real life-tasks.

When you run your finger successfully, the puzzle morphs into the next one. A counter on the bottom right of the screen shows you how many you have completed. It remembers where you left off, so if you do 12 puzzles, the next time you open it, you will be set up with puzzle number 13. If you really get stuck, there are hints.

There are over 1000 puzzles, so this will keep your “moments” filled for a long, long time.

UConnect for both iPhone and iPad is 99 cents
A lite version is also available for free

Your Email Signature, How to Choose It and Change It

photo credit: Dunechaser via photo pin cc

When you send an email from your device, it has a little “stamped” message at the bottom of your text, either “sent from my iPhone” or “sent from my iPad”. If you are a relatively new user, you may have wondered if you can change this message.

Yes, you can change this stamp, customizing it however you would like…. or choose to have no message at all.

But before you change it, you might want to give it a little thought. To my surprise, a bit of googling told me that there are some people who consider it rude to leave that default “sent from my iPhone” on their messages. I truly can’t understand why. I’ve left it on mine, just so that if I send an email from my phone, the recipient will understand why it is short or abrupt or loaded with typos. However, I only send personal emails.

Professional signatures must include contact information. A good list of what to include can be found here.

Personal signatures vary from the simple “regards” to comedy (“sent from my Atari 2600”) to inspirational quotes or lines from literature.

One note: If you are a “future rock star”, be sure to update that signature before you start inquiring for professional positions!

A point to be made here is that no matter what you use, it seems like someone will find fault with it. (Even whether or not to include an email address in a business signature has elicited much debate).

So the best advice comes from Indiana Jones: Choose Wisely.

These directions are the same for both the iPad and the iPhone.

Here is how you make a change: Go to your settings and select “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”. Then tap “Signature”.

You will now see a text box, with the current message in it. Replace it with your name, or whatever else you would like to appear at the bottom of every email that you send.

Once you have made your changes (you can just make it blank), you are done. There is no “save” button, it just works.

To go back, touch the “Mail, Contacts..” arrow at the TOP of your screen, and this will take you back to Settings. Give your Home Button a push, and you are back to a screen full of your icons.

All done. The next email you send will contain your new signature.

Reading eBooks: Kindle, iPad or iPhone? Why Not All Three?

photo credit: TheeErin via photo pin cc


According to Pew Research, one-fifth of American adults report that they have read an ebook in the last year. If you include content like magazines, journals or news reports, the number goes MUCH higher.

And people are doing all this reading across many devices. They are devouring the content being delivered by smartphones, tablets, computers, dedicated e-readers. There are now four times more people reading ebooks on any day than there were as recently as two years ago.

I owned my Kindle long before I had an iPad, or even an iPhone. I didn’t know if I’d enjoy reading ebooks, but once I experienced the ease of use, the portability, the luxury of adjusting font size, in addition to extra perks like an in-book dictionary and the ability to grab a book in seconds….. I’ve never looked back.

I read on my Kindle, on my iPad, and on my iPhone. It’s awesome to be able to pick up any device and just continue reading from wherever I left off on one of the other devices.

The Kindle is just perfect for reading outside. Bright sunlight only makes the e-ink look sharper. I also prefer it for bedtime reading over the backlit screen of the iPad. I use a booklight from M-Edge, attached to the cover so it is always handy. (Rumor is that the next Kindle will have a soft glow light built in.) Reading in bed with the Kindle is so much easier than fighting to balance an open book as I comfortably lay wedged between the pillows. The Kindle is also my preferred reader for the bathtub. A ziplock bag keeps it dry. (The ziplock bag is also great for protecting the Kindle at the beach or pool.) Smaller, cheaper and lighter than an iPad, it is great for travel.

The iPad as an ebook reader is equally awesome, although in different circumstances. While it is not good for outside (the sunlight washes out the screen), the iPad is an outstanding reading device for a treadmill, for example. With its lit screen and adjustable font sizes, it is just perfect to use while burning some calories. The iPad is also the absolute best source for the new enhanced books. These books are interactive. They might have a musical background, embedded videos, charts, easter eggs, etc. Described as elaborate “pop-up” books, two great examples (FREE until June 22) are A Christmas Carol and Dracula. A wonderful review of both of these enhanced ebooks is available here. Personally, I prefer to get lost in the content of a book, and so I’m still not too sure what I think about enhanced books, but my mind is wide open. A biography of a historical person, for example, filled with actual news footage of events or videos of the person in action … well, wow. The most wonderful use for enhanced books might be for textbooks. Imagine the possibilites! The WSJ has a few things to says about enhanced books here.

The iPhone is small for reading, sure, but there are many circumstances where I find myself waiting, and it is delightful to be able to spend those few minutes reading. In a doctor’s office, in a parked car, or even before the start of a movie. My phone is handy. A tap on my Kindle app, and whatever book I am reading pops right up on whatever page I left it (no matter what device).

I am reading more than I ever read before (and I read a lot before!)

MUCH more about ebooks to come. Stay tuned to learn how to share a reading account and build a library with your friends and family.

How to Preview Email on Your iPhone or iPad


When you bought your iPhone and/or iPad, the preview setting for your email was pre-set at 2. This means that before you open your individual emails on either device, you see not only the heading of the mail, but also the first two lines of text.

You probably haven’t given this much thought. But consider your needs…. perhaps you want more privacy for your email? Then you can set it so that no lines preview at all. Or perhaps you get a lot of email, and you would like more lines for the preview. If you set it so that more lines are visible, you can decide with a glance if you want to open a particular email, or just delete it.

You can set these preview lines anywhere from 0 to 5. Out-of-the-box is set at 2, so if you haven’t changed it, your device is currently set at 2.

Here is how to change it. Directions are the same for both the iPhone and the iPad:

Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars

Now select “Preview”

You will be shown a screen with the choices: None, 1 Line, 2 Lines, 3 Lines, 4 Lines, 5 Lines.

Select the number of lines you would like to see, and you’re done.

Return to your Mail, to see if you like your new choice.

***Addendum: An extra bonus for setting your email preview choice to ZERO…… many more emails show up on the first screen. Thanks to my daughter-in-law, Carmen, for this great point!

How to Gift an App from Your iPhone, iPad, or Computer

photo credit: jgarber via photo pin cc

Sometimes you want to give a little something, and a favorite app might just be the perfect choice. Or maybe you are simply so excited about your new discovery that you want to bestow it upon several of your nearest and dearest.

With a few quick taps, the deed will be done.

You can do this directly from your computer, your iPhone, or your iPad. All three allow you to email your gift app, and the computer route (via iTunes) also allows you the option to print.

Here is how you “gift” an app:

From your computer:

Open iTunes. Navigate to the app that you would like to purchase as a gift. Look over to the left of the screen. Notice that directly underneath the icon, you see the price along with the words “buy app”. Now look just to the right of that price bar. There is another tiny piece of a bar with a down arrow on it. Click on that down arrow and you will get a drop down menu for several actions, including purchasing the app as a gift. Follow the prompts and you will be given the choice to email your gift or to print it out.

From your iPad:

Navigate to the App Store, and to the app that you would like to purchase as a gift. Look up at the upper right hand corner of the screen. There you will see the words “Gift This App” along with several other options. Select “Gift This App” and you will be asked to sign into your iTunes account. Follow the prompts to email your gift.

From your iPhone:

Navigate to the App Store, and to the app that you would like to purchase as a gift. Now scroll all the way down to the bottom of the screen, and you will see a white box with the words “Gift This App”. Select “Gift This App” and you will be asked to sign into your iTunes account. Follow the prompts to email your gift.

The first time I did this, I was surprised to learn that iTunes credit cannot be used to purchase gifts. But other than that little “oh” moment, the rest of the process was flawless.

One cautionary point to remember before gifting an app: be sure that your recipient’s device is capable of using the app that you send. Some apps can’t run on an iPhone 3GS, for example, or on a newer phone that is not up-to-date with it’s software.

Return to the Top with a Tap (without scrolling) on Your iPad or iPhone


I have a LOT of photos on my iPhone and iPad, and when I’m all the way down at the bottom of the photo roll, it is very handy to give a single tap and be whisked up to the top of the page. This also works in Safari, and even more handy, in Mail.

To try this, let’s go to Safari and open a website with a long page like Amazon. Once you are on the Amazon website, scroll all the way on down to the bottom of the page.

Now for the tricky part: Although all we need is a single tap in the right place to zoom to the top, the problem is FINDING that right place. So let’s find it: At the very top of your iPad and your iPhone is a black bar with the wireless/3G indicator on the left, and the battery indicator on the right. In my experience, the best way to do this is to touch the black bar just beside the battery indicator on the top right, OR just beside the wireless/3G indicator on the left. Tap either spot and you will make the page scoot from the bottom right up to the top.

Practice. Do it a few times on a webpage, and on your Photo Roll. When you try it in Mail on the iPad, I’d suggest tapping the black bar just above the word “Inbox”.

A Map App for Fun and Fitness: Map Draw for the iPad

 

If I had to whittle my apps down to just a few, Map Draw would definitely be on my “must keep” list.

I think this is an awesome app.  I use it to check out distances all the time. Any Boomer will remember that on the back page of a big paper atlas, there was always a chart that allowed you to check the mileage between cities. Well, with this app, checking mileage between cities is just the start. The real fun is all the OTHER ways to check mileage. Want to know how far it is from your house to the grocery store? Want to know the shortest route home from work? Want to know exactly how far you are walking/running when you zig zag through your neighborhood? Is the restaurant close enough from your hotel to walk there? You can do all that, and once you start using it, you will find many more routes to measure.

It is very easy to use. Just open the app, and zoom in to the area that you would like to measure. The app allows you to zoom right down to street level very quickly …… anyplace in the world.  Once you have your starting spot visible, just touch the screen. Then touch any other spot and the app will show you a line and measure the distance. You can continue tapping to add a zig this way and a turn that way, until your total trip is measured. I was surprised to learn that one of my “short cuts” home, wasn’t that short at all. (I changed my route!)

There are some more bells and whistles to this app, but just the distance-tapping alone makes Map Draw well worth the $2.99.

A Simple Reminder: 2 Days

I know, I know.   The iPhone and the iPad now come with a native reminder application.    It’s pretty good and has some bells and whistles.  So why look further?

Well,  I don’t want bells and whistles for my “go-to” reminder app.    I want SIMPLE.  MINIMALIST.   BASIC.    This app does exactly that.   So very simple.

Two days only.  Just 2 days.   Type in a task and it appears.   Just touch a task to delete.

Simple.  Basic.  Quick.  I love it. 2 Days.

Their website is here.

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