What is your favourite app?

As of today, there are 96929 iPad apps available in the AppStore, as well as 350,000 for the iPhone. That’s a lot of apps to sort through.

Current top paid app is Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, and the top free app is Mr Giggle HD Lite .

The Good Weekend last week published their pick of the top 100 apps, and their list is now available online.

Let us know about any apps you think that they overlooked in the comments.


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Would you like to make free calls from your iPhone?

There are a number of apps that allow VOIP calls from an iPhone. Today, Robyn showed me Viber.

VOIP stands for Voice over IP. It is the protocol used to transmit voice over the Internet – the most famous implementation of which is Skype.

Are VOIP calls free?

If you are calling from one VOIP user to another, a la Skype, then there is no charge for that call, apart from the usual data charges associated with using the Internet.

Therefore the best time to use VOIP is when you have a Wifi connection, particularly is someone else is paying for it. You may be able to log on to a free wireless network, such as at McDonalds and other cafes. Sydney Airport now has free Wireless Internet, as does some Sydney Public Transport. If you have a Wifi connection at home, you will be paying some charge for the data you use. You will usually have spare capacity in your broadband ‘cap’, which then makes the marginal cost of VOIP free. 

Generally, the cost of the internet data will be less than the cost of a regular phone call.

You can make a VOIP call from your iPhone without a Wifi connection, in which case you will be using some of your 3G data allowance. For many of us, there is plenty of spare capacity before we reach the ‘cap’. However, the amount of data you use is something to keep an eye on. 

If you have a free WiFi connection, using VOIP while overseas is fantastic. However, don’t use VOIP overseas through a roaming 3G connection – data charges can be astronomical.

There are a number of competing VOIP networks with iPhone apps.

I looked at Facetime, Skype, Truphone and Viber today. 

VOIP is most effective when you call someone else who uses the same VOIP network – So Skype to Skype, for example. Truphone and Skype both allow you to make cheap calls to normal landlines or mobile phones, using a PrePaid model. You need to have credit in your Truphone or Skype account to enable this.



Facetime comes pre-installed on iPhone4 and iPad2, and is not available for iPhone 3GS and iPad. It is also available on an iMac or MacBook.

On an iPhone, users are identified by the phone number. On an iPad or Mac, by their email address.

It is available over WiFi only – and will not work if either user is on 3G.

Incoming calls will ‘ring’ even if the Facetime app is not running.

In the limited circumstances when you and the person you wish to video call are both using an iPhone4, iPad2 or Mac, and are within a WiFi network, Facetime is effective and easy to use.



Skype is the market leader in VOIP, and is available on the iPhone and iPad, as well as for Mac and Windows desktops and laptops. Skype allows conference calls and video calls, and works over WiFi and 3G. You can make ‘SkypeOut’ calls to normal landlines or mobile phones if you have prepaid some Skype credit. These calls are very cheap, particularly when calling from overseas.

Skype users have to register a username and password to be part of the Skype system.

On the iPhone, incoming calls will ‘ring’ only if Skype is running in the background ie the user will have had to have opened the Skype app each time they turn their phone on.



Viber is a relative new comer to the field, and is iPhone only.

It is very easy to set up – users are identified by their mobile phone numbers, and on first using the network are sent a ‘one time’ security code via SMS.

The Viber App emulates the usual iPhone app almost exactly. It is clearly indicated if someone in your contact list is also on the Viber network. 

Viber works over WiFi and 3G. I have found the quality of sound on the calls to be very good.

Incoming calls to a Viber user will ‘ring’ even in the app is not running in the background. That is a very significant advantage.


Truphone, like Skype, is available on most phones and desktop systems. Like Skype, you can use it to make cheap calls to landline and normal mobile phones.

To receive an incoming call on the iPhone, the app has to be open and running in the foreground! This is a show-stopper for incoming free VOIP calls.


I think Facetime, Skype and Viber all have a place on your iPhone. To a very large extent, it depends on what your contacts are also using.

Viber is particularly good for iPhone to iPhone calls, when both caller and recipient have installed the app – it is very easy to set up and use.

I keep credit in my SkypeOut account, and use Skype when away for long distance calls to normal phones,and for Video calls back home when not on a WiFi network

FaceTime is good for video calls when on WiFi.



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“Dad, have you got any money?”

Do you sometimes feel like a walking ATM?


When I was a fresher at college, I shared ‘goober corridor’ with Mick and Matt. (named after those two, not me, obviously). Mick  found it very convenient to use Matt’s toothpaste, and after a few weeks became very skilled at milking the last little bit out of the tube. As this became harder and harder, he complained bitterly about Goober Matt’s slackness in not buying more.

Little did he know that while the empty ‘Goober toothpaste’ sat prominently on the sink, Matt had a fresh tube hidden behind the textbook “Introduction to Agricultural Science”, where there was no chance Mick would ever look.

Perhaps, in the delivery suite, all new dad’s should be supplied with a special ‘Goober wallet’ that they can demonstrate is empty of cash, and a second real wallet, full of money, that always remains a secret.


Alternatively, they could be supplied with the iPhone App ‘The Bank of Dad’, which makes it simple to keep track of the ‘loans’ we provide to our children. It also has the facility to enter repayments or even deposits in advance, although I think the developers have wasted screen real estate in providing this.

Bank Of Dad - Jebudas Communications, Inc.     Bank of Dad is a free app.Bank Of Dad – App Store Link

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Richard Glover dreams about a ‘new’ technological breakthrough.

“The player costs a couple of dollars, and runs for months on a single penlight battery. It’s small enough to slip into your pocket. A wide variety of content is constantly streamed via a wireless connection, with users able to change content by twiddling a small dial on the side of the receiver. Most amazing of all, the content is always up to date, as it is broadcast “live” in “real time” without any need for the users to refresh the content held in their player. Best of all, people are able to experience the same programs simultaneously, building a sense of community and shared debate.

More phenomenal still, the technology is interactive, with users able to themselves appear live through a process known as “talkback” or “phone-in” radio.

Wow! What an advance on dreary old moribund podcasting……. We could call it radio”

From “They’ve reinvented the wheel – and now (gasp) it’s got corners“.

Do you sometimes pull up at your destination, but remain sitting in the car waiting for an interesting interview on the radio to finish? To find out the answer to the quiz question? To hear the end of the news? To see if the Waratahs will finally score that try? To check the weather forecast?

I love podcasting, but as Glover says, sometimes only the radio will cut it.

TuneIn Radio gives your iPhone or iPad the ability to play live radio. It does not have an FM receiver – rather it picks up (via 3G or wifi) the live internet stream that most stations provide. You can search for stations from all over the world – Local ABC and Radio National and Grandstand are as far as I have looked.

A 3G connection provides more than adequate bandwidth –  but be careful if you have a very limited download allowance. The application allows you to pause the program you are listening to, and even rewind and replay the broadcast.

And you’ll be able to get out of the car without missing any action.

TuneIn Radio - Synsion Radio TechnologiesTuneIn Radio – Synsion Radio Technologies



What I Learnt On 4th May in other years

4th May 2012 A Love of LearningA Love of Learning
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Which product is Lady Macbeth most in need of?

Which species of bird would be most likely to attack a pig, a la Angry Birds?

If Elizabeth Taylor wanted to be buried next to her husbands, how many pieces would she have to be cut into?

You Don’t Know Jack is a quiz game with attitude.

YDKJ has had numerous incarnations on different platforms since it was first released on PC by Jellyvision in 1995. The game imitates a fictional TV game show – and in art imitating life eventually spawned a real show in 2010.

You Don’t Know Jack was released for iPhone and iPad this week.


Expect to cop plenty from quizmaster Cookie Masterton – you need to be very fast and very smart in this game where  ‘High Culture and Pop Culture collide’. As Jellyvision say on their website

“… one at Jellyvision at the time actually liked trivia games, we tried to figure out how to make trivia questions fun and engaging to us. When we realized that it was possible to ask about both Shakespeare and Scooby Doo in the same question, YOU DON’T KNOW JACK was born.”

Some of the questions in the current edition are too American for us, but it is still possible to have a shot at most. It’s a lot of fun.

There is a lite version available for iPhone or iPad if you want to try before you buy. The full version on iPhone is $3.99 and on iPad is $5.99

See if you can beat my top score of $22,606 – otherwise, I’m afraid to say that you don’t know jack!


What I Learnt On 17th April in other years

17th April 2012 Caine is my new heroCaine is my new hero
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