Google Maps: Awesome App for Bus Transit Routes

I’ve always used Google Maps for navigation in the car, but now that I’ve moved to Los Angeles, I am using it for a different purpose: bus maps.

Because I wasn’t much of a bus rider before, I never paid much attention to the Bus mode on Google Maps.

Now that I’m car-less in L.A., the Bus feature on Google Maps for iPhone is a crucial tool that I rely heavily on to get around.

By simply touching the Bus icon at the top of the map when you look up directions, you bring up the suggested transit route, with information on the bus number and scheduled arrival time.

What’s more, touching the clock in the upper right hand corner will bring up a list of the upcoming bus arrivals, so that you may choose to plan a later trip.

Once you arrive, Maps will give you walking directions (if applicable) to arrive at your destination.

Highly recommended for transit-riding iPhone owners.

Would be nice to have maps for the metro rail line, though…

Onavo Data Shrinking App May Pose Privacy Concerns

Onavo Privacy

Yesterday TechCrunch author Roi Carthy hailed a new app that he claims is a “must-have” for every iPhone data user: Onavo, a data shrinking app for iOS. But the obvious potential privacy issues with Onavo went right over his head.

Carthy goes so far as to suggest Onavo is “the very first app one should install” on an iPhone because of its remarkable ability to shrink your data and save you money on your wireless data bill.

But is there a catch to using Onavo? Yes.

Onavo Privacy

While Onavo’s ability to shrink your data is certainly impressive, remember that if something is too good to be true, it probably is, and Onavo is no exception.

Onavo iPhone Data Shrinking App

While Onavo does a fantastic job of shrinking your data — my own tests showed that Onavo reduced my data usage as much as 75 percent in some apps — it comes at a cost.

There is no monetary cost to using Onavo, as it is currently free, but you use Onavo at the expense of your privacy. To use Onavo requires you to route all of your data and personal information through a proxy so that it can be compressed.

Are you prepared to trust that Onavo, a previously unheard-of company, will handle all of the information you manage on your iPhone — your mail, your passwords, your credit card numbers — in a secure and responsible manner?

Although Onavo states in its privacy policy that it “will not store any content that you upload or download, such as message text, filled-in forms, and data that a website retrieved,” there nevertheless remain privacy concerns with Onavo.

Onavo still reserves the right to use certain “data in a manner that is attributable to you for a period of 6 months and will anonymize the data thereafter.” And they “may also share personally identifiable information with companies or organizations connected, or affiliated with Onavo, such as subsidiaries, sister-companies and parent companies.”

Given the recent outrage over Apple’s use of location data, you would expect iPhone users to be similarly concerned about sharing so much of their personal information with a small, relatively unknown company like Onavo.

Are you willing to trust Onavo with all of your important data?

Update May 1, 2011: Dvir Reznik, head of marketing at Onavo, replies in the comments: “We take our user’s privacy very seriously and store only the bare minimum necessary to support the service – all aggregated and anonymized. This is so that the app can report your savings, app usage, etc. We do not store any content such as messages, passwords, etc. Additionally, any sensitive content that is encrypted (HTTPS) can not and will not be processed by Onavo.”

Quotebook iPhone App Review [App Giveaway]

Want to win a copy of Quotebook? Post your favorite motivational quote on my Facebook post HERE to be entered into a drawing for a Promo Code ($2 value).

Quotebook iPhone App Review

Quotebook for iPhone ($2 as of this writing) is a cool little app that grabbed my attention because it serves a good purpose for me as a lover of inspirational quotes.

Every now and then I come across a quote that I want to remember, and what do I do? Usually I paste the quotation into a note in my iPhone. The result is that over several months I accumulate many different notes with quotes in them. Sure, I could paste all my favorite quotes into one single note, but this is not ideal since I have such a mess of other notes in my Notes app — shopping lists, account numbers, and other random things I’d like to remember — and no good way of organizing them.

Quotebook is an app that is intended solely for storing and organizing your favorite quotes in one place. Maybe you read a quote on a poster somewhere that you like. Put it in your Quotebook. Maybe you are reading a book and you want to jot down several excerpts. Put them in your Quotebook and note the Source (i.e. the name of your book).

Entering a Quote

To enter a quote into your Quotebook, simply hit the “+” sign in the app and paste your quote in the textfield. You can also set an Author, Source, Rating, and one or more Tags.

Browsing Your Quotes

What makes Quotebook great is that you can filter your quotes by any one of the aforementioned categories, as described below.

By Quote

This page displays a list of all of your quotes. In the settings, you can choose whether to display your quotes from newest to oldest or vice versa.

Quotebook Quotes

By Author

You can display your quotes alphabetically by author. What is really neat about this feature is that you can tap on an author and Quotebook will bring up the Wikipedia entry for that author, if one exists. It will even pull up other quotes from this author from Wikiquote.

Quotebook Authors

By Source

You can display your quotes by source, which is a great feature if you have entered many quotes from a specific source into your Quotebook. Then you can browse all the quotes that you enjoyed from a particular book, or newspaper article, etc.

Quotebook Sources

By Tag

You can also categorize and sort your quotes by Tag.

Quotebook Tags

Suggested Improvements

I think Quotebook is a fantastic, minimalistic app that serves a focused purpose that will appeal to people who love quotes. However, if the developer would like to really soup up this app, I think it would be great to have the ability to add photos to the app as well as audio.

So if, for example, you see a billboard that’s really funny, you can snap a photo of it and add it to the Quotebook. Or if you want to simply say a quote out loud and record it instead of typing it out, you could do that as well.

How to Win a Copy of Quotebook

Matt, the developer of Quotebook, has kindly offered to give away a Promo Code to one lucky reader of To enter the drawing to win a copy of Quotebook ($2 value), all you have to do is post your favorite inspirational quote as a comment on my Quotebook Facebook post HERE and I will send the winner a message with the promo code by the evening of Thursday, April 28.

WordPress for iPhone: How to Blog While On-the-Go

WordPress iPhone

I thought I’d take a second to sing the praises of an app that I find indispensable as a blogger and web publisher: WordPress for iPhone.

WordPress is the content management system that runs It is a phenomenal open-source and easy-to-use software that anyone can use to publish a blog.

The WordPress app is the perfect counterpart to the WordPress web app. The iPhone app lets you post blog updates, upload photos & videos, and manage comments.

Since this blog gets a steady stream of comments daily, the WordPress iPhone app is vital for me to keep up with comment moderation throughout the day. It also works well for writing and posting articles.

Whenever you’ve got time to kill — in a doctor’s office waiting room, sitting on the bus, or waiting for your kids to finish soccer practice — the WordPress app can help you be productive by writing and publishing your blog posts on the go.

Pair the WordPress iPhone app with some photo editing apps, an FTP app (for uploading files to your site directory) and your favorite social media apps and you’ve got yourself a full-on mobile publishing suite.

Watch Seinfeld on iPhone via Crackle

As a huge Seinfeld fan, I am excited about the news that Seinfeld is now on iPhone via Sony’s Crackle app, which is available free in the App Store. The Crackle app lets you stream multiple television shows, one of which is Seinfeld.

Seinfeld iPhone

Currently, Crackle has ten Seinfeld episodes from several seasons. All the episodes are free to stream:

  1. The Chinese Restaurant
  2. The Bubble Boy
  3. The Pick
  4. The Junior Mint
  5. The Puffy Shirt
  6. The Marine Biologist
  7. The Hamptons
  8. The Soup Nazi
  9. The Bizarro Jerry
  10. The Yada Yada

Like most free TV streaming services, Crackle is ad-supported. Each episode begins with a 15-second commercial followed by a few 15 to 30-second ads throughout the episode.

Of all the shows on Crackle, Seinfeld is in my opinion the only one worth watching, though I’m not much of a TV watcher. The other shows are The Jackie Chan Adventures, Why it Crackles, The Killing, Kidnapped, The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, Married With Children, Jailbait, News Radio, The Tick, Starsky and Hutch, Roughnecks, 10 Items or Less, Samurai X, Charlie’s Angels, Held Up, Backwash, and Hot Hot Los Angeles.

Crackle also lets you watch a handful of movies, the most notable of which include Reign Over Me, Big Daddy, Ghostbusters and The Da Vinci Code.

Are you excited about Seinfeld on iPhone? Are there any other television streaming apps for iPhone that you would recommend?

iPhone Facial Recognition App: Would You Opt In?

iPhone facial recognition

Google is reportedly working on a facial recognition app that would let you snap a photo of someone with your iPhone or other smartphone and identify them — including their name, phone number, email address and other personal information. While Google says they will not debut a facial recognition app until acceptable privacy controls are in place, the technology is cause for concern nevertheless.

Google says it will require users to opt in before their photos can be identified by the facial recognition app, but can we trust the search engine giant to protect our privacy? Not according to Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., who warns that our privacy rights “are being Facebooked, spammed and texted down to nothing.”

… in the face of concerns about intrusion, security and privacy, Google says, in effect: Trust us. Which raises an obvious question: Why? – Leonard Pitts, Jr. in Privacy: There’s no app for that

I, too, worry about the privacy issues that an iPhone facial recognition app would pose. Do we want to live in a world where there is no longer a need to introduce ourselves, because the people we encounter have already identified us with a smartphone app?

The advent of iPhone facial recognition technology may be closer than we think. Apple’s iPhoto already has a Faces feature that is fairly skilled at identifying friends in your photo albums, and the App Store has several iPhone apps with rudimentary facial recognition capabilities.

What do you think? Would an iPhone facial recognition app creep you out? Or is this a useful application of technology? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments.