So we’re all rocking iOS 8 now—or, at least those of us who live bravely are—so the majority of this week’s apps are ones that take advantage of the new iOS 8 features. Highlights this week include another third party keyboard and a calculator that lives in Notification Center.
Swiftkey: Keyboard – iOS
SwiftKey is one of a number of replacement keyboards for iOS 8, and it has two standout features: predictive text (which offers word suggestions based on your typing) and the ability to swipe letters on the keyboard in lieu of typing. The swipe-to-type feature, which SwiftKey calls “Flow,” is similar to what you’ll find on the Swype keyboard, but the predictive text feature is unique to SwiftKey.
What may make people a bit hesitant about Swiftkey is that its predictive text feature requires Internet access in order to work. Other keyboards seem to be able to do this without the cloud access, but the cloud access does seem to give the app a quicker learning curve. Also, iOS doesn’t let you use third party keyboards to enter passwords, so major privacy concerns are not an issue.
Swiftkey is available for the iPad and the iPhone, but switching between the character and number keyboards often crashes on my iPad, so I would skip that iteration altogether. (The iPad version also lacks the swipe typing, so it’s not getting you much anyway.)
What’s Good: Good interface, learns your words quickly.
What Sucks: Bugs on the iPad, requires Internet access and a SwiftKey account.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for quicker input, but don’t mind the cloud account and data sharing, pick up SwiftKey for free on the App Store.
You’re Getting Old – Web
Facebook has made it pretty much effortless for even casual friends to remember your birthday. If you’re looking for something more than a casual “Happy Birthday,” though, check out You’re Getting Old. You can see the facts about your own age, as well as some trivia about events occurring in your lifetime.
You can also set this up for your friend, using their Birthday and name, since the app gives you a unique link you can share with them. The app doesn’t force you to sign in with Facebook or any other social networking account, and you can just use the web link to share the information.
What’s Good: Adds a nice touch to Birthday wishes, doesn’t require social network credentials to share.
What Sucks: It’s not a site you have cause to go to all the time, so you’re going to have to remember.
Buy it?: If you’re looking to add a nice touch to your Facebook or Twitter Birthday greeting, check out You’re Getting Old.
PCalc – iOS
PCalc started on the Mac, but it gained a lot of fame as an iOS app since it’s way more flexible than the bundled iOS calculator. With iOS 8, PCalc comes with a Notification Center widget that can save you a lot of time when you need to carry out quick calculations.
The best part? Even if you get the free version of the app, you get the notification center widget, which can effectively replace iOS’s built-in calculator completely. You’ll still need to open PCalc to use any of the more advanced features, but for any quick calculations, you won’t even have to unlock your phone anymore.
What’s Good: New notification center widget is handy.
What Sucks: Nothing—this is a utility app that does everything well.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for a quick calculator on iOS, check out PCalc. You can get the lite version for free (which lets you unlock advanced features via in-app purchases) or the full version for $9.99 on the App Store.
Awesome Screenshot – iOS
You don’t have to be an app reviewer to want to take iOS screenshots. iOS’s screenshot feature is fairly rudimentary, allowing you to only capture stills of the entire screen—you can’t capture just a portion of the screen, for example, or carry out any other more advanced screen capture tasks. Awesome Screenshot, a $4.99 purchase on the App Store, tries to improve upon the traditional screenshot feature, but unfortunately, it misses the mark.
Installing itself as a system extension, Awesome Screenshot’s best use is taking screenshots of entire webpages, not just what’s visible. There are plenty of cases where that’s a useful feature, but you have to be patient as many sites will load slowly. Also, any active areas of the page are going to render as blank in the screenshot. The app also provides rudimentary editing and drawing tools, similar to Evernote’s Skitch app: It’s a neat idea, but one that is just frustratingly below its potential.
What’s Good: Great way to capture whole webpages on iOS.
What Sucks: Performance issues, not able to catch dynamic content on pages.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for a way to get screenshot of entire pages, but don’t mind the issues, check out Awesome Screenshot.