In my Tech Lab Plus column for today. Check out the $15,000 wrist computer than syncs with your smartphone; a handy way to stream Internet audio from your phone through your car speakers; and a remarkable new app that'll keep drivers from hitting the car ahead of you.
The new Lumia 710 phone from Nokia and T-Mobile is lightning-fast and dirt-cheap. It may also represent Microsoft Corp.'s best hope of gaining a foothold in the US market with its excellent but unpopular Windows Phone 7 software.
Join Weight Watchers--there's a monthly subscription fee--and you can now get an app for Androids and iPhones that will let you check the calorie count and nutrition info on many food items by simply scanning the barcode on the package. Pretty cool.
Think your smartphone or tablet can tell if you've had one too many? I doubt it, and so do the folks at computer security software maker Webroot. But that didn't stop them from whipping up an amusing little app that'll delight your friends at upcoming holiday parties. The Sobriety Test app, available for iOS and Android devices, features a bunch of silly puzzles and games which supposedly measure your ability to hold your liquor. There's also a prudent legal disclaimer warning that the Sobriety Test is really nothing of the sort--just a bit of silly fun.
Hip Hip Hooray!
Google does NOTHING to vet the safety of the apps in its Android Market, with the result that a growing number of Android devices are getting infected with malware. This is ridiculous. Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry--they all check their apps before offering them to consumers. Only Google doesn't. And it's going to bite them one of these days. Just you wait.
Here's my take on the two latest tablets--Amazon.com's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet.
Not exactly. The cool personal assistant software in Apple's iPhone 4S hasn't been perfectly duplicated by Android software developers. But they're getting close.
The giant online retailer's new iPhone app uses augmented reality to scan your surroundings, identify items you can buy on Amazon, and offering to sell them to you.
Is there no escape?
Wow. That didn't take long. Iris, a new app for Android, works a lot like the much-vaunted Siri feature of the new iPhone 4S. Yes, it's much slower, but consider it was hacked together in just a few days. You couldn't ask for a more impressive demonstration of the power of open-source software development. A bunch of volunteers have matched many of the capabilities of Apple's software, in a matter of days.
Nothing like having your favorite team win--and then taunting fans of the defeated foe. It's unsportsmanlike, but kinda fun. And now, sure enough, there's an app for it. PlayUp is a free iPhone social app for sports lovers, with listings of upcoming games in a variety of sports--baseball, American football, soccer, even cricket. You can log onto chatrooms devoted to thousands of sporting matches happening all over the world. There you can peck out text messages mocking your rivals or bemoaning the performance of your favorites. It's a great idea for fans who can't resist rubbing it in.
The popular sports news website Bleacher Report offers you a way to stay informed wherever you are. Their Team Stream app, available for Android or Apple devices, will deliver a steady flow of news about the teams of your choice. It's handy, and it's free.
It's been all Apple all the time in the tech universe these last few days. Meanwhile, don't look now, but Microsoft's latest upgrade to its Windows Phone 7 operating system has made an already-good product downright fantastic.
This site claims to make it easy. No idea whether this is on the level or not...try at your own risk.
If you've got an Android phone on the AT&T wireless network, this new app will help you identify nearby free Wi-Fi hotspots that could take the load off your phone's 3G network and maybe save you some money. Besides, it's just plain cool.
Hard to believe that the hugely popular online photo service has only just released an Android app. But then, Flickr is owned by Yahoo, a famously slow-moving outfit. Ah well. Better late than never.
Let it go, Red Sox fans. Forget about baseball and move on. It's football season, and time for tailgate parties. Also, time for the new sport of competitive tailgating. Here's a new iPhone app to let tailgaters slug it out in the name of total stadium parking lot supremacy.
Microsoft's upgraded version of its Windows Phone 7 operating system has been unleashed. Here's an early peek.
There is now. A nice new Android app called HealthTap lets users obtain free medical advice from real physicians. Check it out.
Yes, that's what I said. This delightfully silly space combat videogame is free for the taking for all you Android lovers Just click here...for free!
Worried about the school-bus-sized satellite hurtling down from orbit? Keep up with the latest news on smartphone apps from NASA. News updates, videos, a Twitter feed...it's all here. And it's free for iPhone, iPad or Android users.
I suspect most of us aren't. What do you think?
LocalHero is a social networking app that assists you in finding help from friends and neighbors. Good idea.
Lots of people have fallen in love with their iPads. The new online dating app from the relationship website eHarmony might let users fall in love on their iPads.
Hate your alarm clock? Well, if you use the iPhone as an alarm, here's an app that lets you express your rage. It also makes sure you're awake, since you can only turn off the alarm by violently shaking the phone. That oughta work...
A new Android app from Sprint prevents phoning while driving, by locking the phone when it detects that the user is in a moving car. The service costs $2 a month, and a BlackBerry version is pending
Point Inside releases a cool new Android app that'll show you nearby shopping opportunities, complete with coupons.
Passengers on Southwest Airlines will soon get videos beamed straight to their smartphones or tablets via Wi-Fi. Offerings to include the Three Stooges. Now we're talking!
Here's my review of the new Vinci tablet computer for children. Not bad, but way too expensive. Might as well get an iPad...
Since Google doesn't test Android apps for malware, Android owners might want to hook up a good antivirus app. This page at Android Market provides an array of options.
Looking for a doctor? Look at your smartphone. ZocDoc, a smart new app for iPhone or Android lets you set up appointments with local physicians. Just put in the name of your medical insurance plan, and the kind of treatment you need. ZocDoc uses the phone's GPS system to calculate your location, and then point you to the nearest doctors. It'll even show you whether they've got an open space on their daily schedule. Somebody should have thought of this a long time ago...
A new app for iPhones, iPads and Androids feeds the latest arts coverage from the New Yorker straight to your mobile device.
Misplace your phone, and you can usually find it by listening to the ringtone. But what it you left it in vibrate mode? Here's a badly needed Android app that solves your little problem, by letting you remotely reactivate your phone's ringer. Smart. Very smart.
There isn't an iPhone app to let you cancel bad TV shows. But here's one that claims it can predict which TV shows are doomed.
A new iPhone app brings the battle alive. A tempting treat for history buffs, and it's free.
Tekken Bowl features the hard-hitting boxers from the venerable fighting game. Only this time they're taking their skills to the bowling lanes. It's family-friendly and it's free for iPad and iPhone.
A new free iPhone app takes speech recognition to a new level. Dragon Go, from Burlington-based Nuance, makes it easy to search a host of Internet data sources--not just Google--by speaking into your iPhone. Want to see videos of the space shuttle launch, for instance? Just ask for them. This is one nice app.
A new extension for the Chrome browser automatically deletes any mention of you-know-who from any Web page which talks about the Yankee legend. Can't stand Derek? Maybe you need a different browser...
...ask Dolce & Gabbana. The renowned Italian fashion company has a new iPhone app with instructions and video tutorials on how to behave like the perfect gentleman in any situation. If only that insufferable bounder Roderick Spode could be persuaded to download it...
Yes, the new Microsoft browser is very, very good. But so is the new Firefox, and in many ways Google's Chrome browser sets the pace.
With a faster processor but a lousy camera, I'd call it a wash.
Two smartphone apps for video chatting leave me cold. They can't match Apple's FaceTime for the iPhone 4
Motorola's tablet computer is here, and while it won't be an iPad-killer, it definitely kills.
A new Android app makes it easy to videotape police officers in action, and upload the video anonymously to the Web. Hey, cops are public servants. Shouldn't their activities be shown to the public?
...to liking the new Roman Catholic confession app for the iPhone. No, you can't get absolution from sin merely by using the phone. It's actually a handy and well-designed aid to the sacrament. I was brought up Catholic, but currently hang with the Baptists. Still, I plan on using this app again, as a handy guide to the strait and narrow path.
A software upgrade adds new features to the bestselling e-reader. Share your book notes and highlights with the world, and enjoy the new look of electronic newspapers and magazines. Check out a free preview here.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab is a capable rival to Apple's iPad. But its high price and lack of good apps ensure that it won't cost Steve Jobs any lost sleep.
The new RockMelt browser is suddenly getting a lot of buzz, all of it deserved. Based on Google's open-source Chromium browser technology, RockMelt adds in some welcome social-networking integration. Instantly see which of your Facebook friends are online--their thumbnails appear on RockMelt's left edge. On the right edge, click handy icons to instantly see your latest Twitter and Facebook status updates. And the clever new web search function unfurls its results in a mini-window that doesn't interfere with the page you're already reading.
RockMelt is available for Windows and Mac computers under a closed beta. Ask very nicely and they might let you have a peek.
Location-based services like Foursquare really aren't too popular, according to this report. Sure, all the cool kids like to talk about "checking in" and becoming the "mayor" of this nightclub or that coffee shop. But most folks don't see the point. I used Foursquare myself for several months but have lately wiped it from my BlackBerry without regret. Does me no good that I can see, so why bother? Besides, why should I report my movements to Foursquare? Go hire a private eye if you're that interested, but you'll get no help from me.
Pay online bills with your phone, if you're an AT&T Wireless customer. This might be a big deal, especially if it transitions to brick-and-mortar retail. Our phones could become alternative credit cards.
Just touch the screen to call for help. That's the idea of a new emergency rescue app called Forsse. You pay $14.95 a month to install it on your phone--just Android for now, but versions are being prepared for the iPhone and for BlackBerries. One touch activates the app. Another touch triggers an alert to a remote monitoring station that uses GPS to figure out your location and send help. The service also starts recording any audio coming over your phone. I haven't tried Forsse yet, but it sounds like it could come in mighty handy.
Texting while driving is now illegal in Massachusetts, and in most other states too. So...what's a driver to do? Turn off the phone, or put it out of reach. Or check out some of these clever apps...
I've been sending and receiving a lot of cellphone text messages lately, mainly to myself. Call it research.
The new Massachusetts ban on texting while driving may save lives, although I have my doubts. But it certainly provides an economic stimulus for makers of cellphone software and accessories that are designed to keep our eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
Some software apps block the use of your phone while driving. Others let you keep right on texting, by reading the messages out loud and even letting you reply by talking rather than clicking.FULL ENTRY
Nine years on, Apple keeps finding ways to improve on the iPod. Check out the company's latest offerings...
Do your digital pictures need digital frames? Darned If I can see the point of it, but a guy named Eli Wilner is hot on the idea. Mind you, he's prejudiced--Wilner is a major producer of real-world picture frames, some of which carry six-figure price tags. Yeah, I don't get that either.
Anyway, Wilner is now selling an iPhone/iPad app that'll let you drape a stylish frame around your digital snapshots and share them with friends and family. I tried the $1.99 iPhone app and...it works. Definitely. I know a picture frame when I see one, and sure enough, the pictures on my iPhone were well and truly framed. Yes sirree.
Still dunno why I'd want them to be, but that's just me.
For $4.99 you can get the iPad version, with really big frames. Each app lets you choose from 100 different frame styles.
Wilner is convinced he's onto something. He's so eager to get the word out that his company sent me an iPhone, just to try the frame program. I remain unconvinced. Nice iPhone, though.
A new Nike app for the iPhone generates a Google Maps display of the route you follow during your daily run. Nice way to see where you've been going.
With Hurricane Earl bearing down, you've probably stocked up on canned goods and bottled water. Now all you need are a few good smartphone apps. If you've got an iPhone, Android or BlackBerry, you can download a host of inexpensive programs that can help you stay safe. I haven't had a chance to try them all, but here are a few that could come in handy.
Apple iPhones and Android phones come with basic weather apps that deliver bare-bones forecasts. But you can install additional apps that provide more detail. The Weather Channel, the popular cable TV network, offers a good free app for iPhones, BlackBerries and Androids. Weather Underground's Who Is Hot? is an even more comprehensive app for the iPhone, while Android users should check out MyWeather. Both these apps are free.
For more specific alerts, consider the aptly-named iPhone app Hurricane. This $1.99 software displays the storm's latest wind speeds, barometric pressures, and features updated radar maps along with predictions of the storm's likely path.
Your smartphone's a valuable tool if you're caught up in the storm.. Apps like Disaster Readiness 2011 for the iPhone or First Aid for the Android contain detailed information on treating injuries and documenting property damage for your insurance company. First Aid is free; Disaster Readiness 2011 costs $1.99.
For the BlackBerry, there's USBMIS Mobile First Aid and CPR, developed with help from the American College of Emergency Physicians. This app costs $2.99 and is also available for the iPhone. Look for it in the BlackBerry App Store.
Most of the newest smartphones can double as flashlights in an emergency, thanks to light-emitting diodes mounted next to their built-in cameras. These LEDs are intended for flash photography, but can be programmed to issue a steady beam of light. Of course, this drains the battery, so use this feature sparingly.
You'll need to install a flashlight app; there are plenty to choose from at the Apple and Android online app stores. Some are free, while others can cost a buck or so. Flashlight apps are also available for BlackBerry phones, but you can get by without one. If your BlackBerry has a built-in video camera, just turn it on, and then hit the spacebar on the phone's keyboard to turn on the light. But this method turns on the video camera as well as the light, speeding the drain on your battery. Instead, you can purchase an app that will only turn on the light.
Don't have an LED light on your phone? There are apps that make the phone's screen emit a brilliant glow; some of these are free.
As Hurricane Earl bears down, consider stocking up on weather-related smartphone apps. Here's a mess of links for the iPhone. I can't find a similar list for Androids, but you can visit the Android Market with your phone and search under "weather."
Want to turn your iPhone into Capt. Kirk's communicator? Here you go.
That's what Flipboard gives you--a digital publication cobbled together from your own Facebook and Twitter data feeds, rich with graphics and full of the stuff that interests you. Here's my take on one of the most innovative iPad apps yet.
Right in the palm of your hand, thanks to this nice little Android app. FlightView lets you look up your airplane by flight number and find out its current status. Your mom flying in from Dubuque? You can see her plane's actual departure time, its speed and altitude, and a map showing its present position in the sky. You can even put in a city pair--say, Boston-Chicago, to see all commercial flights between the two cities, and their current status.
The free version has some small but annoying ads; for $1, you can get FlightView ad-free. Either way, it's a nice tool for the frequent flyer.
Some just aren't worth the bother, according to a rather good piece from Network World. For instance, you don't need a special app to turn the flash of your BlackBerry into an emergency flashlight. There's a built-in feature that'll take care of it. Read the whole thing for more useful tips.
For $10 a month, Hulu Plus will pump dozens of your favorite shows right into your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Here's my take on it.
It seems like practically every show on National Public Radio has its own iPhone app, not to mention the excellent NPR app for the iPad that'll link you to all this excellent content. But if you're particularly addicted to Boston public radio, check out the new app for the local NPR outlet, WBUR. You can listen in to the live broadcast stream, of course. But you can also read news headlines and get a program schedule. There's a nice little "assignments" feature where the 'BUR folk ask for public feedback on stories they're presently working. Want to contribute? Just use your iPhone to ping them back. And of course, this being a public radio operation, there's an icon you can tap if you'd like to make a donation.
Find the free WBUR app at the iTunes Store. And click here for a vast selection of other public radio apps.
Some apps let you do it, but their accuracy and ease of use leave something to be desired, as I discovered firsthand.
After an hour of using the new iPhone iOS 4 operating system, I'm quite impressed. Yep, it multitasks. I've been reading the New York Times on my Opera browser and popping open Google Maps, all while listening to film scores on Pandora. I can just hop from one app to another, using a very clever window that shows recently used or running apps, which appears at the bottom of the screen when you tap the home button twice. We also get folders. Press and hold one icon and then drag it atop another similar icon. For instance, drag one of your iPhone games onto another. Up pops a window suggesting that you call the new folder Games. It now appears as an icon with tiny little mini-icons set inside it. Very handy, and a good way to regain control of screen real estate.
These are just first impressions, but very positive ones. Steve Jobs said that Apple didn't want the iPhone to do multitasking till it could be done right. I think Apple's come through.
Funny thing about Wikipedia, the Internet's giant user-created encyclopedia. it's so small. It seems to contain summaries of all the world's knowledge. Yet it really takes up remarkably little space in digital terms--about six gigabytes. Heck, you can fit that much data on a smartphone these days.
And here's an app to let you do it. AllOfWiki Offline is a $10 app for iPhones and iPads that does something very simple and powerful. It downloads all the text content of Wikipedia, and stores it in your device's memory. Now it doesn't matter if you can't score a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. You've always got Wikipedia, as well as an nice-looking interface for quickly looking up information on pretty much anything.
On the downside, updates--available on a monthly basis--are $1 apiece. If you're a hardcore user you'll probably want those updates, and so the price of the app soon gets a bit steep. And with Wi-Fi connections so widely available--Starbucks Wi-Fi service goes free-of-charge starting next month, this is an app you can easily live without.
Still, it's kind of cool to tote around this much knowledge in your pocket.
Perhaps you envy people with those cool push-to-talk phones--the kind that let you instantly speak to someone else on the network without having to dial the number. Well, a new app called Push2Talk lets you do the same thing with higher-end BlackBerries, like the Bold, Storm and Curve. Got a friend with one of these phones? Each of you can buy the app for $4.99. Install it, then swap the PIN numbers of your BlackBerries, just as you would to use the BlackBerry instant messaging network. Now you can instantly send shout-outs to the other person by highlighting his name in the Push2Talk app, and pushing a button on the left edge of the phone. Hitting the button records your voice message. Release it, and the recording is sent to the other phone, arriving about two seconds later.
The software has an annoying way of cutting off the last second or so of your voice message. It helps to hold the button for a second longer after you're done speaking. Still, they need to fix this irritating problem.
Push2Talk only works with BlackBerries; each phone must have the app installed, and users must share their PINs with each other. But that makes the software quite useful for those with lots of BlackBerry-toting friends and colleagues. Lots of businesses, including the Globe, issue BlackBerries to dozens or hundreds of workers. For these companies, Push2Talk could be a worthwhile investment.
Symantec offers up an anti-malware app for Android, to protect the phones from malicious software. As Android apps don't have to go through Apple's tough approval process, I suppose the risk is greater. But is there really much of a threat from toxic Android apps? I plan to learn more from the Symantec folks first chance I get.
UPDATE: I spoke with Dan Nadir, director of product management at Symantec. Nadir admits that apart from a few lab experiments, there are no examples of malware attacking Android phones. But he said that Symantec wants to be ready for anything. Besides, the program, called Norton Security for Android, also allows the user to remotely lock a lost phone, or wipe all its data in case it's been stolen. You can also program it to block unwanted calls from certain numbers.
I tested the block feature on my borrowed HTC EVO 4G. The instructions were a little confusing, but the software worked as advertised. By texting a command from my BlackBerry to the EVO, I locked the Android phone and couldn't use it again until I entered the unlock code.
A beta version of Norton Security for Android is available now from the Market app on any Android phone. It's free for the moment; Symantec hasn't decided how much to charge for the finished version.
Here's a nice little news reader from France, for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Stories are arranged in a mindmap-style configuration, making it easy to read about the same event in dozens of major newspapers. Each news page is displayed in Apple's cool Cover Flow feature, the way an iPod shows off album cover art. Touch the newspaper of your choice, and it enlarges into a full-screen browser page. leNewz is marred by an odd litlle control bar that appears at the bottom of the screen, and obstructs your view of news pages. Otherwise, this handy little program is an excellent way to quickly get a broad perspective on the day's major news stories. Not quite magnifique, but mighty close.
I try to wear comfy shoes during my rare trips to shopping malls; just finding the right shop often requires a good hike, made more strenuous by the difficulty in figuring out where you're going. The mall developers never put up enough maps to suit me; I suspect they want us wandering around aimlessly, in hopes we'll be suckered into a few more impulse purchases.
Well, here's a smarter impulse for Android and iPhone users. Before heading to the mall, download Point Inside, a handy free app that puts the mall map in your pocket. Point Inside uses the phone's GPS feature to identify nearby malls. Tap the icons, and you'll see a map showing the location of every store in the mall. Many stores will have built-in links that provide the shop's phone number and a link to its website.
Point Inside features maps for hundreds of malls throughout the US, and also features maps of major airports. You may still have to walk quite a bit, but at least you'll know where you're heading.
In a world of tweets and Facebook fluff, who reads poetry any more? Perhaps we would, if we carried a worthy assortment in our pockets. And you can, thanks to a new app from Poetry, a Chicago-based literary magazine that's been publishing the world's leading poets for just under 100 years.
The new Poetry app for the iPhone is free. it features 1,400 pieces. There are contemporary works, as well as classics by famed poets like Wordsworth and Frost. But you don't sort them by author. Instead, you pick a general topic, like "work," "love" or "nature," and you're given an assortment of relevant poems. You can also sort poems by mood. Still upset about the Boston Bruins' playoff defeat? Find solace in poems about disappointment, frustration or grief.
Not sure what kind of poem you want? Press the spin icon, and you get a lovely whirling screen effect, reminiscent of a Vegas slot machine, followed by a randomly-chosen group of poems. See something you'd like to share with friends? The app offers built-in links to Twitter and Facebook, so you can impress your online pals with your good taste. This cool little app is a real literary icon.
I know it's considered a classic, but I think the 1983 film Scarface is one of the worst movies of its era, and the film that marks the terminal decline of Al Pacino's acting career. So I wasn't particularly inclined to enjoy Scarface: Last Stand, an iPhone game that celebrates that film's idiotic, blood-saturated conclusion. Still, it was free for one day only--yesterday to you luckless latecomers--so I couldn't resist downloading it and taking it for a spin.
I've given it 15 minutes. Maybe it gets better with age, but so far, Scarface: Last Stand serves up gory, pointless tedium. Basically, the rival drug gang breaks into the mansion, they shoot at you and you shoot back. At its normal price of $7, I'd say keep your money. But then I felt the same way about the movie, which remains popular over a quarter century after its release. So what do I know?
I didn't much care for Foursquare at first blush. This article makes me think I should give it another shot...
Earlier this year, Carbonite issued an iPhone app, and it's pretty sweet. Customers can log in to view their files, and send them to others as e-mail attachments. It even let me play some of my backed-up audio files through the iPhone's speakers, though I don't think this feature supports all audio formats.
Recently, Carbonite announced a BlackBerry app as well. Here's the web page for it. But I'm danged if I can find the app here. Too bad; I'm looking forward to trying it.
Too bad there's no Live Mesh for the iPhone or iPad. Then again, there's Dropbox, a program that does much the same thing, and offers a free iPhone-iPad app. The free version of Dropbox stores just 2 gigs of data; for more storage, you've got to pay monthly fees. In addition, the Dropbox app doesn't copy all your stuff to the iPhone. Instead, it lets you view all your "boxed" files, and download particularly important ones. If you juggle lots of files, the Dropbox app is surely worth a download.
Which might be why I did pretty well with Eat This, Not That, the iPhone game. It's based on the series of books that helps you lose weight, not by giving up junk food, but by making slightly better junk food choices. For instance, the Burger King Whopper with cheese has 300 more calories and nearly twice the fat of the McDonald's Quarter Pounder with cheese. I kinda guessed that, which is why I haven't had a Whopper in years, but occasionally chow down on a Quarter Pounder--without cheese, by the way.
So I scored pretty high on this iPhone guessing game, where you're shown side-by-side images of popular food items, and asked to pick the healthier one. I guessed right about 70 percent of the time.
Eat This, Not That doesn't exactly offer edge-of-the-seat excitement. But it's a handy little training tool for dietary sanity, and it's free for the taking at Apple's App Store.
But now Untravel Media, a Boston company that creates digital walking tours of the city, is retelling the story the 21st century way--via the iPhone. Walking Cinema: Murder on Beacon Hill is an iPhone app that uses GPS mapping technology and embedded video to create a chilling and informative account of the horror. For $4.99 you can settle into a comfy chair and enjoy the grim saga, or you can stroll the streets of Boston, while the app guides you to key locations like the victim's former home, or the site where a curious janitor found his remains.
Over 160 years later, this nasty little murder still has plenty of grisly appeal, especially when presented in such a clever and original way.
Still, it's easy to see why Apple was willing to allow an alternative browser on the iPhone. Apple's own Safari browser is darn good, and can cope with the competition.
I've mainly used Opera Mini on the BlackBerry, where it competes against that smartphone's decidedly inferior browser. Once you try Opera on the BlackBerry, you never want to go back. The iPhone version is quite good as well. I especially like the way it can display all your open browser windows at the bottom of your current window. Still, it's not overwhelmingly better than Safari, and most users will probably stick with Apple's browser.
The iPad was released last weekend to much fanfare, but the device will only go so far as its apps will take it, according to the Globe's Hiawatha Bray.
Bray gives his take on a few of the apps that were released for the launch of the iPad in his Tech Lab column in Today's Globe.
In the video below, he has a look at a couple of e-reader apps - Amazon's Kindle app and Apple's own iBook software - as well as a few other apps that caught his eye.