Keeper Password Manager Review

Keeper Password Manager Review

Oct 2, 2014

At this point, we hope that the need for a good password manager is akin to common sense. We’re regaled with stories of database intrusions daily; it’s smart to protect one’s self with the basics of password security: using different unique password for different websites. Also, passwords should be changed to new unique ones at regular intervals.

But, if one even has only a dozen websites to log in to every now and then, those passwords start to blend together; that’s where mobile password keepers shine. Keeper Password Manager looks to be another option in this category, and we got to take it for a spin.

First thing to do is to to sign in with a master password. Off the bat, I liked the UI options; who says a productivity app can’t have some personality? It’s possible to change the main color, and while this isn’t life-changing, I feel that one can’t put a price tag on the ability change up looks.keep3

But a UI that can be adjusted visually is still only as good as the overall product; Keeper tends to work because it feels intuitive. Towards the bottom of the main screen, there are navigational buttons here, marking quick-add, sync, settings, help menu and one to re-lock the app with one button press.

Data entry is easy to perform via the “+” icon. One gets to list data by file, and then add name and password. For the latter, I liked the dice roll functionality; when tapped, the software generates a random password for that item. Something that was of special interest to me is the app’s ability to store files and photos; this could come in handy. Additionally, websites can be added and acted upon from within Keeper; the FastFill” option is speedy entry method I enjoyed, as is the share functionality.

The premium add-on allows one to use Keeper’s Cloud Based backup, secure sharing, multi-device sync and a web-based desktop client. Features like auto-locking and multiple wrong password data destroy go hand in hand with the 256-bit AES encryption.

All in all, it’s a robust option, with a lot of functionality, and it easily lends itself to one’s productivity flow. Some might not prefer the premium subscription model, but with a 30 day free trial, there’s no excuse to not give it a try, especially with the cross-platform functionality.

TruGlide Pro Universal Stylus Hardware Review

TruGlide Pro Universal Stylus Hardware Review

Sep 26, 2014

Walk with me…

There was a time the stylus was a sign of having arrived. Why? This was before smartphones, when Palm and WinMo battled to win the PDA market. True capacitive touchscreens as we know them were not on the scene yet, and a good stylus was more important than having fingers.

Then, in 2007, a lot of that changed.

As screens get bigger, brighter and more responsive, styli have made a comeback. As tablets and smartphone (and everything in between) become more comprehensive means of data entry, and creatives use digital tools to output thought, having tools that mimic traditional modes of data entry is especially invaluable. This is where tools like the TruGlide Pro Stylus are potentially worth their weight in gold.

The review unit Lynktec sent us highlights the units design; once removed from the packaging, it was surprising how elegant it feels, more akin to a high end pen than a prototypical stylus. The body is mostly grey, with a black screw-in front and a black clip. The tip is made out of a microfiber (5 mm conductive), with the stylus main body having an aluminum finish. Dimensions-wise, it comes in at 6 ounces and 4.7″ in length. It looks good and feels natural in hand.


The stylus comes ready to use; first, I tried it out as a navigation tool in lieu of my finger. In my experience, it works exceptionally well, and each screen I used it on recognized it with ease. When I used it to for notes, it took some getting used to to write, but I was able to glide in reasonable cursive very quickly. Drawing works too, but I did feel like I’d be better off with the optional digital paintbrush, which can be screwed on.

I did like the fact that the microfiber tips can be replaced and/or swapped out with other ends. I think i would have preferred a more tapered tip, but the stock one is far from shabby.

The extensibility trumps most drawbacks, and the minimalist design works to underscore its effectiveness. It’s an enjoyable extension, and one that practically begs to be utilized.

The TruGlide Pro Stylus can be purchased for $24.99 via the Lynktec website.

Nexus Media Importer Review

Nexus Media Importer Review

Mar 25, 2013

Android is a great OS, and its more open nature than iOS means that it can do a lot of things that are more in the purview of what a traditional computer can do. But if you want to access files from a USB storage device, well too bad! Android doesn’t have default support for that. Enter Nexus Media Importer, an app that can help achieve at least half of the USB drive access solution.

Plug in a low-power USB storage device (only use hard drives if they’re externally-powered_ in to an Android device with USB host capability (likely through a micro-USB to female USB port cable, though some tablet docks have full-size female USB ports), and then open up Nexus Media Importer. The app will show the files that you have on the device, and then it can download them to your Android device, seemingly using a method that involves ‘downloading’ the file just as a web download would work. This can also view photos straight from the USB device. Not sure if you device works? Use the Nexus Photo Viewer which can only view photos, and serves as the glorified demo for the full version of the app.

Now, the app’s grand flaw, as one could possibly assume from the title, is that it is only good for importing files from a USB device, and not so much for exporting them. This may be due to a limitation of non-rooted devices, but still, it takes away a lot of the utility of the app. As a way to do one-way transfers while on the go, like importing large audio or video files from a USB drive, it’s handy. But for sending anything you do back from Android, like taking photos/videos and giving them to someone, well, that’s gonna require a more traditional file transfer method. Also, the app interfered with USB Audio Recorder Pro, which also interacts with USB host devices.

So as such, I find myself curious as to the utility of this. Perhaps for those who need to get photos off of SD cards and don’t have a built-in SD card reader, this may help. Watching videos works as well. But USB file transfer works a lot better as a two-way proposition, and thus this app, while it works, only does so much.

Chameleon Launcher Review

Chameleon Launcher Review

Sep 27, 2012

Finding the right launcher can make all the difference in the world when better productivity is needed. The problem is, most launchers don’t allow for both a cosmetically pleasing look and enhanced productivity. Chameleon Launcher is a new launcher that does both.

The reason Chameleon Launcher is different is because of the layout. When first starting out there’s a blank main screen and three application icons at the bottom. By pressing and holding the screen, a list of the different widgets will appear. Select one of the widgets like Facebook or Twitter for example and a space on the home screen grid will be filled by that which. The widgets take up two spaces but can be resized to take up more or less space.

The widgets can also be a rearranged by pressing and holding the screen. Once the the little gear icon shows up on all of the widgets, drag the widget where it would look better. This is also how to change the settings of the widget or log into the social account being displayed in the widget. The different home screens can be set up so there’s a personal, a work and a weekends setup. Some of the widgets available are the time of day, Facebook, weather, Instagram, Twitter, Gmail and others.

Another widget that’s handy is the RSS feed option. There’s a specific site whose information is important, this widget will keep the up-to-date information on the home screen. Chameleon Launcher is the only launcher to my knowledge that allows the end user to create their own widgets. Use their API to make a widget and make the tablet home screen even more personalized and useful.

Initially at the bottom of the screen, there are three applications in what looks like a dock. To get to the applications, simply press the space off to either side of the applications in the dock or press the icon to the right side that looks like a small grid. All of the applications will pop up. Dragging and dropping the application icon into the dock is all it takes to move the app to the dock.

FreshTasks Series of Apps Aim for Convenience Without Clutter

FreshTasks Series of Apps Aim for Convenience Without Clutter

Sep 18, 2012

FreshTouchscreen has released a series of applications for Android that are designed to be simple, yet useful tools for users to keep with them on their phones.

FreshNotes is a simple note-taking application. Create a note with a title and description, and it will be there for later consumption.

FreshTasks is a simple to-do list, similar to Clear on iOS. This offers a simple checklist of things to do, that can then be checked off as necessary. Google Tasks users can synchronize with the web.

FreshShoppingList is helpful when grocery shopping; add needed items to the list in a selected quantity and mark them off when picked up.

The apps are available in several different permutations. Each app is available as its own independent app on Google Play, in both ad-supported and paid ad-free versions. As well, a comprehensive FreshTasks Complete app is available that puts the features of all three apps in one. This is designed, according to the developers, to be so that people don’t get unnecessary clutter from features they wouldn’t use. FreshTasks Complete is also available in free and paid versions. All the apps are available from Google Play.

SmartShift Lockscreen Review

SmartShift Lockscreen Review

May 30, 2012

Many applications out there help make life easier. The problem is, most applications only serve one function, or can only do more with the help of other applications specifically made to help them. Well, for fans of location-based applications, SmartShift Lockscreen is a must try.

Android devices can use applications like Tasker and Locale to help change settings when certain criteria are met such as arriving at work will silence the ringer and shange your wallpaper to something more work appropriate. Well, SmartShift Lockscreen is a lot like that without being complicated like Tasker.

After the install, hitting the home button will ask what Home Screen Launcher to use. There may be an additional window asking which home application to use. Select SmartShift Lockscreen as the default. Once the default is set, go to SmartShift Lockscreen and open it. There is a tutorial talking about all the cool things it can do and how to make changes to the skins. After the tutorial, SmartShift Lockscreen needs to be started. There is a small on/off button in the top right of the window. Once it is started, situations can be made.

A situation is the specific things changing when other criteria are met. For example, a situation could be the settings for night time when the ringer doesn’t need to be on and the screen can be more dim. Another can be setup for when the device is on a unsecured Wi-Fi while traveling.

There are other settings needed to make SmartShift Lockscreen change automagically. There is a Places tab that can track the GPS location of the device to know when to change the situation. When at home, set up a place marker there. Also set up the office as a Place so SmartShift Lockscreen can change the device settings when it senses that location.

The next way is to use the Planner. This is a calendar to be preloaded with events like work schedules and bed times or typical driving times. Adding these appointments to the Planner will change to the desired situation when the date and time arrive overriding the other settings.

This is one of those applications that are wildly useful after a little bit of setup. Planning the week in advance will mean there will be no need to worry about being “that guy” in the meeting whose phone goes off at the worst time possible.

Save Your Booty App Helps Make Item Cataloguing Easier, with a Pirate Theme

Save Your Booty App Helps Make Item Cataloguing Easier, with a Pirate Theme

Mar 22, 2012

Save Your Booty is a serious app with a somewhat-silly name. It is not a butt-rejuvenation app. Sorry to all the aging curvy mamas out there. No, what this app is designed to do is to catalog items for insurance policies. That’s not the most exciting way to describe an app, but this is an interesting use of technology to help users protect their valuables.

What this app lets users do is to simply scan the UPC of the items in their possession by using their device’s camera by accessing it through Barcode Scanner. Then, the app automatically fills out its sections for Photos, Item Name, Description, Value, and can use GPS to note its location. It’s possible to edit all of these categories, including adding additional timestamped photos.

This then makes it easier to report the items as damaged or stolen, should damage or theft occur. There will be detailed descriptions of the items, with photographs, and GPS-determined location of them. This should increase the likelihood that insurance claims will be successful because of the detailed information that will have been catalogued. Developer App-Order works regularly with governments, so they have experience in making apps for official purposes such as these.

All this information is saved to the web, so in case the phone that catalogued this information gets stolen, that could hypothetically be catalogued and claimed as well. The website doesn’t feature the pirate theme than the app, but this may be to not have it seem illegitimate when users need to use it for serious purposes – or because it’s based off of a similar backend for their more serious applications. Curiously, for an app based on physical security, digital security is not well tended to when registering an account, as it displays the user’s desired password in plain text. This is something that needs to be fixed in an update.

For users looking to take collection cataloguing into the 21st century, this seems like a useful tool. The app is available now for free from Google Play.

AndroXplorer Pro 4 Review

AndroXplorer Pro 4 Review

Feb 16, 2012

AndroXplorer is back with a new version. The 4th version of the file manager is now available on the Android Market. Like many Android file managers, it offers access ot the user’s files on the device, along with access to external SD cards. It can browse through applications on the device, enabling them to be backed up. It can also extract a variety of compressed files, making it a useful tool for those who frequently work with archives.

The latest version has two key benefits. First, there’s root access, for rooted users. When it comes to tinkering, having access to root files from an app the user likes is always an advantage – and having an app the user is familiar with reduces the possibility of making crucial errors! Second, the app supports tablets, which lack a very good file manager so far. The app’s three-window interface with left tabs makes it extremely useful for moving and navigating between multiple directories.

The app can hypothetically detect network servers sharing files via SMB but the automatic search either does not work, as it keeps crashing on my Motorola Xoom running Ice Cream Sandwich, and manually adding servers does not detect any folders. In fact, even the automatic search does not tend to detecct any folders, which is strange. This is a shame because it would serve as a great way to ditch the USB cable when trying to transfer files to and from a computer. There doesn’t appear to be any way to back up an app’s data; apparently we’re all just beholden to Titanium Backup for that. The documentation is very confusing, and makes it hard to see just what can be done with the app.

While the app’s upgrades and interface changes will be good for previous users of AndroXplorer, there’s not much here in this latest version to convince users to ditch their preferred file manager for this, although tablet users don’t really have much choice otherwise.

ViBe Review

ViBe Review

Dec 6, 2011

Some apps remind me of kitchen tools, in that their surprising necessity in life comes only after you have discovered them. For example I wasn’t aware that I needed a mandoline until I bought one and was able to slice mushrooms so thin you can’t even believe. And in the same way, until I downloaded this app I wasn’t aware of how nice it could be to have different vibration tones set for different contacts in my phone.

The designers certainly went out of their way to make this app easy to use. It’s straightforward, intuitive, and very quick to set up. The app immediately opens to a display on your contact list. Long-press on a contact to select it, with the option to select multiple contacts for batch edits. Click OK and you are brought to the different vibration options. In that menu you can tap a vibration option once to experience a sample, or long-press to select it. Your settings are automatically saved, and that’s all there is to it. The app even has a charming pale-blue calico patterned background, not that it needs any window dressings to make it attractive.

I hate to think that I’m easy to impress, but I loved this app almost immediately. The options that come with the app are Knock Knock, Ramp Down (a sort of descending buzz tone), Bee, Heartbeat and Crash. I picked my favourite people, assigned them appropriate tones, and now I know who is texting me before I even have to take my phone out of my bag.

The unavoidable drawback to the app is that there aren’t enough different tones. The app comes with five free tones installed, with the option to buy five more. This is great if you only have ten people in your contact list. I was pleased with the free tones, but felt that in the name of science I should purchase a premium tone. I went with Explosion for my brother’s profile, and found that it is nearly identical to the tone I had already set for him. But I can’t blame the makers too much, there is really only so many different ways for a phone to vibrate distinctively. They’ve done the best that they can.

Beautiful Notes for Honeycomb Review

Beautiful Notes for Honeycomb Review

Nov 3, 2011

If there is one thing better on the Motorola Xoom than the iPad, it’s that typing is much better, especially with sizable thumb keyboards available. However, an app called Notesy has made typing up articles on the iPad much easier than on the Xoom. So, my hunt for good text editors for Android continues with Beautiful Notes. This is a plaintext editor designed for Android tablets that is meant for more advanced plaintext editing than what default Android apps and most apps on the Market provide. Both plaintext notes and to do lists can be made in the app, with the ability to both save locally and to Dropbox. A variety of beautiful backgrounds are available to be displayed,

Automatic Dropbox saving is the key feature of the app. Notes and to do lists can easily be saved to the cloud storage service, so the data can easily be re-accessed if the app needs to be reinstalled, or from any other app that can read the JSON files. The design is very classy, with plenty of beautiful backgrounds available. A “Zen” display mode for just editing documents is also available, with no stray UI elements to distract.

Quite annoyingly, there’s no easy option to export files as a plaintext documents. While the JSON files are easy to extract the text from, it’s just not as convenient. The interface is difficult to figure out at first, as many of the icons are unclear, and there’s an entirely different section of icons for the individual document and for the app itself, though also the theme selection is with the rest of the document-specific options is baffling. There’s no word count tool, no manual save button.

This just isn’t the kind of hybrid of simple text editing with advanced features that I need. As a writer, I want a good app for Android that works like Notesy for iPad. This app and MyNotes Pro have some of what I need, but not everything. Someday…

Catch Notes Review

Catch Notes Review

Sep 15, 2011

Information is constantly flowing all around us, and while many of us don’t always carry a pen and paper, most of us carry a phone everywhere. Equipped with cameras, keyboards and microphones, smart phones are the perfect devices for recording all those bits of important information. But to really take advantage of your phone’s note-taking capabilities, you need an app like Catch Notes.

To the best of my knowledge, there isn’t exactly a shortage of note-taking apps for Android — I’ve somehow managed to accumulate nearly half a dozen of them. Each one works very well, but each one does something just a little better than the others. In the case of Catch Notes, its light footprint allows it to load very quickly, eliminating much of the load time associated with other apps. From there, you can quickly record vital information while it’s still fresh, before you forget precious details. When time is of the essence, you don’t want to be messing around with organizing and categorizing your thoughts before you can get them down on the screen; Catch Notes is ready to go with a blank page in seconds.

Another great thing about Catch Notes is the use of hashtags to organize and filter notes. Just place a hashmark (#) in front of a word anywhere in your note and it becomes a tag accessible from outside the note. It’s much simpler than the system other apps use.

Like other note apps, Catch Notes features uploading to “the cloud.” The web interface at allows you to edit, organize and export notes quickly and easily. With a free account, you get 70MBs/month while a pro account at $5/month, or $45/year, gets you 1GB/month plus PDF and productivity doc support with more features on the horizon.

One problem I had with Catch Notes was when attempting to take a photo note. When you want to take a photo note, the app loads the camera, but doesn’t bring you back into Catch Notes once the photo has been shot. Furthermore, it doesn’t seem to append the photo to the note very reliably. I saw a small, black square on the note, but no photo. I had to manually attach the photo to the note to get it to work correctly. At last, it synced with Catch Notes’ servers and uploaded my picture where I could privately view it online.

The interface is very attractive and easy to navigate. Interacting with your notes, editing and organizing them is a snap. However, some buttons, such as the “Export to external storage” buttons, could have used a more descriptive icon. If you’re used to seeing such icons, you’ll immediately know what they’re for. New users might be more easily confused, however.

It’s important to remember that Catch Notes, as it is currently, isn’t meant to be where you stuff all types of web-related, multimedia content or rich-text based information. It’s just a great way of keeping on top of daily reminders without a lot of extra hassle.

MyNotes Pro Review

MyNotes Pro Review

Aug 3, 2011

For writers like myself, I like to have the ability to write wherever I want, and to then have access to those articles wherever I need to access them. I often find it easier to put the finishing touches on articles from a ‘real’ computer than to try to do them from my tablets, where I often will hook up a USB keyboard to them and type from them. I do so a lot on my iPad with an app called Notesy that syncs up to Dropbox, which makes it easy to write posts on my iPad, then finish them up on my computer if I need to. I’ve been on the lookout for Android apps that will do the same, and after trying out several apps, I might have found my choice: MyNotes.

This app is a simple plaintext editor, that syncs up to Dropbox. Users can log in to Dropbox, and text files are saved to a directory saved in the root of Dropbox called “MyNotes.” Text files can be tagged with certain tags, and can be filtered in the app by those tags. The app is designed for phones, but works perfectly as is on tablets, and notes can be easily synced across different versions of MyNotes. The app just works, and does the exact basics of what I need it to. I’ve typed up several posts on it, on both my phone and tablet. The app also comes with a basic tasks list feature, though these currently are not synchronized to Dropbox.

MyNotes sadly doesn’t have any kind of auto-save feature; this means that for people who swap out of the app often, if it closes in the background without work being manually saved, it will be lost. This has burned me more than one time when I forgot to hit the “Save” button. As well, the app would do well to have a word count feature; this would be a great help for writers like myself who must often write to particular word counts. There’s no way to access notes in an app besides the “MyNotes” directory that the app creates, so documents created outside of a version of MyNotes cannot be edited unless they are saved in the MyNotes folder.

While this app is lacking compared to my preferred iOS solution, at its core it does exactly what I need it to do, and makes my phone and tablet more useful for what I need it to do. That’s all I really need. The app comes in both a free ‘MyNotes’ ad-supported version and a paid ad-free ‘MyNotes Pro’ version.