Google Chrome Explodes On To iOS, Puts Desktop Experience In Your Pocket

Google Chrome Explodes On To iOS, Puts Desktop Experience In Your Pocket | 40Tech

If you hadn’t already heard, Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad was released this week — and it promptly became the #1 free app on the app store. This is something that we’ve been waiting for with baited breath, and something that I, personally, was never sure would happen properly due to the rivalry between Apple and Google.

Have no doubt, though, it’s here — and it takes the best of Google Chrome’s desktop browser and jams it neatly and prettily into your pocket.

Google Chrome for iPhone | 40TechGoogle Chrome for iPad | 40Tech

One of the best features of Google Chrome for iOS is the integration of Chrome’s sync technology. If you have ever wanted the ability to open up any device — iPhone, iPad, Android, any computer that you’ve signed in to Google Chrome on — and pick up browsing from where you left off (again, on any of them), then you have reason enough to love Chrome for iOS app as the final piece in that puzzle.

It syncs your browsing history, open tabs, omnibar searches (yep, all that omnibar instant search power is in there, too), passwords, bookmarks, etc., etc., etc. Chrome was always great for being able to hop from computer to computer, but now you can hop from computer to computer to mobile and back again — and seamlessly, at that.

Chrome for iOS | Request Desktop Site | 40TechChrome for iOS | Bookmark Sync | 40TechGoogle Chrome for iOS | Sync Across All DevicesGoogle Chrome iPad App | 40Tech

That’s just the tip of it, though. Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad is blazingly fast, has an intuitive interface, and comes with niceties like easy, swipe-based tab switching, tracking of recently closed and most-visited web pages, voice-based search capability (Google’s not Siri’s),  search within web pages, and the ability to request a switch to desktop mode for entire sites at the touch of a button.

Google Chrome for iOS also includes Incognito Mode, and allows you to have as many open tabs in the browser as you damned well please. Chrome for iPhone is beautifully designed and extremely intuitive, and Chrome for iPad is the closest thing to a desktop browser that you will find on any tablet.

Chrome iPhone App | Omnibox Search | 40TechChrome iPhone App | Drag To Open, Close Tabs | 40TechChrome iOS App | Swipe to Change Tabs | 40TechChrome iOS App | Sign in to Sync | 40TechGoogle Chrome for iPhone, Google Chrome for iPad | Incognito Mode | 40TechChrome iPhone App | Collapse, Expand, Swipe Tabs | 40TechGoogle Chrome iOS App Settings | 40TechGoogle Chrome iPad App | Drag Tabs, Scroll Tabs | 40Tech

As with anything, though, Chrome for iOS is not perfect. There is no read later functionality, which you may miss if you love it in Safari, and heartbreakingly, there is a fairly consistent lag issue. Don’t get me wrong… when it works, it’s stupidly fast — but there are times, especially on pages with Javascript, that you will be typing or touching a button and nothing will happen for a few seconds. This can be an extreme pain in the ass, and may even be a deal-breaker for some. There may not even be much Google can do about it, because it could be related to Apple not giving other browsers on iOS access to their Nitro Javascript engine.

If you can get past the occasional (if persistent) few seconds of waiting, though, Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad could be your go-to web browser replacement for mobile Safari (it’s certainly more stable than Safari for iPad). The possibilities excite me to no end. I’m thinking some version of Chrome extensions would be a logical next step! Either way, Chrome for iOS gives me yet another reason to jailbreak my iPhone and iPad: to cull Safari out of default browser status, once and for all.

Get Google Chrome for iOS (iOS 4.3+)

Hotspot Shield VPN Officially on iOS — Secure Browsing, Bandwidth Compression, Access Blocked Sites/Services

Hotspot Shield Now Officially on iOS -- Say Hello to HTTPS, Bandwidth Compression, Out-of-US Netflix, Pandora | 40Tech

When we first told you about Hotspot Shield, it was to use the free Virtual Private Network to bypass blocked media, as well as increase your browsing security. Over a year later, we posted a tutorial on how to use the VPN to watch US Netflix outside of United States, using your iOS devices. Unfortunately, the Hotspot Shield sign up process for iOS was broken soonafter, and their customer service team didn’t have a lot to say about it. Now we know why: Anchorfree, the creators of Hotspot Shield have released an iPhone app that makes all of the steps go away, and even solves a few of the problems.

The new Hotspot Shield app will have you up and running with a couple of touches, installing two VPN configurations on your iPhone or iPad. The second one is for manual use — you turn it on when you need it, and leave it off when you don’t. The default configuration, though, is Always On, which handily accomplishes two things: it allows you to automatically have the VPN’s data compression and additional security in place whether you are on WiFi or mobile broadband, and it also fixes potential annoyances by automatically re-establishing the VPN’s connection when it drops (which is still a regular occurrence).

In testing, I found that the VPN is more stable on iOS than it was previously, and that using it was practically painless. I also discovered, very quickly, that the free-ness of Hotspot Shield — at least for mobile — is a thing of the past. In comparison to other VPNs, though, especially services that are as effective, the price is still more than worthwhile. You can use the VPN free for a week, after that, it’ll cost you $0.99/month or $9.99/year. You can also use a purchase code the app provides you to activate up to five personal devices that are connected to the same iTunes account. If the incredibly attractive price is to much for you, and you already have an old Hotspot Shield VPN installed on your iOS device, it should still work, at least for now — mine does, anyway.

Hotspot Shield VPN for iOS, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch | 40TechHotspot Shield VPN App for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch | 40TechHotspot Shield VPN App for iOS | 40Tech

Some other fun features of the app are the abilities to track your bandwidth savings and to control your compression level. You can turn it off completely for WiFi, or turn it up to maximum to save bandwidth on images and the like. This will downgrade image quality, of course, but how much is your data worth to you?

All in all, I recommend it to pretty much everyone on iOS with even a passing interest in security (or in using Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, etc., outside of the US). You can never be too careful with your data, and HotSpot Shield does a decent job of protecting you. According to ReadWriteWeb, it was even used during the revolutions of the Arab Spring to allow “users to skirt detection of officials that may have been monitoring mobile internet activity.” Handy, that…

If you do decide to use Hotspot Shield for iOS, do keep a couple of things in mind:

  1. The terms of service are very explicit about the VPN being for personal use only. Don’t use it for business or they may cut you off.
  2. Using a VPN to access a US-only service outside of the US may be considered breach of that service’s terms of use. You may want to double-check that before going ahead to make sure you don’t have any issues — especially if you pay for said service.

What do you think of Hotspot Shield for iOS? Do you plan to use it to increase your browsing security? Let us know in the comments!

Get 50GB in Your Box.net Account Just for Logging In to the Mobile App

Get 50GB in Your Box.net Account Just for Logging in to the Mobile App | 40Tech

We give cloud storage a lot of love here. And why not? Having access to, and the ability to share, your files wherever you are is peachy keen — and convenient too. It’s a competitive world, though, and the main contenders — Dropbox, Box.net, and SugarSync — have been battling it out via pricing, free storage offerings, and promotions to ensure they get a solid chunk of the target market that is you. The latest play has come from Box.net — and it’s a doozie: 50GB of free storage just for logging in to their iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch app.

Before you ask, there’s no catch. You don’t have to sell the idea to your friends, you don’t have to buy anything after so many days of use, and you don’t have to give them your first-born child. All you have to do is log in and the 50GB is yours! The promotion started October 12th, 2011 and runs until December 2nd, 2011 (50 days). Just make sure you have the most recent version of the iOS app, and away you go.

For those who take advantage of the promotion, Box.net has also increased the maximum file-size upload to 100MB — it’s usually 25MB for free accounts. That doesn’t beat out Dropbox, for me, but there’s a lot you can do with 50GB of 100MB files, and Box has cool collaboration features that most of the competitor services don’t match. The only other thing to watch for is the 10GB bandwidth limit.

If you’re already paying for an account with Box.net, don’t fret. You can get the 50GB, too, if you downgrade to a free account. You lose out on the more advanced security and collaboration features and the like, as well as your 1GB+ upload limit, but you will still be able to share your files quickly and easily.

If you’re on Android, you might be feeling a bit of “What the hell! Can I haz…???” For Android users in general, at the moment it appears you’re out of luck. However, if you have a Sony Tablet S — which uses Android — there’s a similar promotion running. BlackBerry Playbook and HP TouchPad users are on as well. But don’t get too upset, Android Army (or those with other devices), according to the Box.net blog, they have some more promotions up their sleeves just for you guys.

What will you do with your 50GB of free storage?

Evernote for iOS Update Brings Rich Text Support, Shared Notebooks, and Other Goodies

Evernote for iOS Update Brings Rich Text Support, Shared Notebooks, and Other Goodies | 40Tech

Last week, when it was still August (where the hell did the summer go?), Evernote released the mother of all iOS updates. There was a lot to it — a cool redesign, a lock feature for premium users — but the big deal was the inclusion of a rich text editor and the ability to access notes in shared notebooks.

The new features aren’t as robust as the desktop version of Evernote, of course, but are nonetheless dripping with the sort of awesome that makes you want to find your Irish roots and dance a merry jig.

Here are the highlights:

Rich Text Editor

The new editor allows for basic bold, italics, underline, bullets and the like, as well as strike-through, header text, highlighting and linking. You can also edit notes that were already created with rich text, which is great, but don’t think the append prompt is gone for good. If the note has too much fancy in it, even the new editor may not like it. There is a new option, though, that saves at least a bit of headache: the ability to simplify the formatting to be workable in the iOS apps. This way, you only lose some of the formatting, instead of everything.

Evernote for iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) Now Has a Rich Text Editor | From Evernote Blog

Note: Checkboxes are still not able to be created in Evernote for iOS. You can check them, but not make them.

 

Shared Notebooks

Tired of not being able to access a note or notebook that someone shared with you? Now that Evernote has added shared notebooks into iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, you can breathe easy. Note that I said access, however. You can only read them, not create new ones. Yet.

 

Another handy feature is the new ability to search within notes. Want to find a word or turn of phrase from your note? Now you can, quickly and easily. It’s no desktop search, but it’s definitely a good start.

This is only the tip of the update-iceberg. There’s a lot more going on under the hood and in the form of a new look and feel for Evernote’s iOS apps. If you haven’t updated yet, you should. Get the full list of new features here.

New Evenrote Design for iPad | From Evernote Blog

Thoughts on Evernote’s new iOS features? Head down to the comments!

How to Watch US Netflix on Your iPad/iPhone When Outside of the US

How to Watch US Netflix on Your iPad/iPhone When Outside of the US | 40Tech

If you have Netflix, you have the ability to stream a wide array of movies and television shows for less than $10 per month. The digital streaming library isn’t as impressive as their mail-out catalogue, but any way you look at it, that’s a pretty decent price for what you get. And what you get is a lot. Old shows, new shows, crazy amounts of anime, and even some favourites like Glee, the now (sadly) cancelled Stargate Universe, and 2009’s Star Trek movie are on there. Unless you live in or visit a country other than the United States, of course.

If you do happen to be on the other side of that imaginary border line, however, and you have an iOS device, you can use a VPN to access the US Netflix streaming library — and you can do it without spending a dime if you use Hotspot Shield.

Note: Please note that, while this is a fun workaround, and can be useful in certain situations, the inability to access Netflix or any other media site mentioned in this post outside of the United States is due to international licensing agreements. These sites and services may prohibit broadcasting or accessing certain content from outside of the United States in their terms of use. As such, this post’s workaround is used solely at the device owner’s and account holder’s own risk and is for educational purposes only.

UPDATE: Hotspot Shield’s iOS configuration page is currently down. I’ll keep checking to see if and when it comes back up and will update you here. You could also try other VPN options, such as Witopia, but that one comes with a $40/year price tag.

UPDATE 2: I’ve been in touch with Anchorfree support (they are the purveyors of Hotspot Shield), and have been told that they are working on the issue. Apparently, they are re-launching the iPhone version of the VPN. I will update again when I know more.

UPDATE 3: The iOS app for Hotspot Shield is officially here! Check this post for more info.

We’ve talked about Hotspot Shield before, and even though the free version forces ads down your throat, it’s pretty handy when you want to access Hulu, Pandora, or US-only website content from across the border. It’s also handy for surfing securely at public WiFi locations, and all of the other fancy things you can do with a VPN.

So why bother with an additional post just for Netflix? Because Netflix isn’t a US-only site, but it does have US-only content. This content is accessible depending on where you are, as I found out by accident when visiting a friend in Washington state a couple weeks ago. I pulled out the iPad for my kid, loaded up Netflix to keep her busy, and was immediately boggled by the amount of new content I found staring back at me. I was hoping that we Canadians had suddenly gotten a slew of new titles, but was sadly disappointed when I returned home that evening.

Out of curiosity, I tried out Netflix on my laptop with Hotspot Shield enabled. That didn’t work. Generally (unless launched via the Chrome app, oddly enough) Netflix thought that I was trying to access the US site with a Canadian account. No dice, there. Then I remembered that Hotspot Shield was also configured on my iPad… and I was pleasantly surprised that it worked!

Here’s how you can try it out

Go to the iPhone configuration page on Hotspot Shield’s website, and follow the instructions there. You’ll want to be on a separate device for this, for simplicity’s sake.

Basically, they will have you turn off your iPad’s (or iPhone’s) WiFi, and then head to Settings > General > Network > VPN > Add VPN Configuration. From there, you do the following:

  • Select the IPSec tab/pane
  • In Description, type HotspotShield
  • In the Server field, type 68.68.107.101
  • Go back to the website and click the “Get Account ID” button
  • Type the code that the button generated into the Account field
  • Type the same code into the Password field
  • Make sure that Use Certificate is set to OFF
  • In Group Name, type hss
  • In Secret, type hss
  • SAVE and then turn your WiFi back on

Hotspot Shield iPhone Configuration

Once you are set up, turn on the VPN. I’ve noticed that, if you try and turn it on from the iPad’s Settings dashboard, it will fail to connect. No idea why that is, but, if you turn it on from the Settings > General > Network > VPN switch, it connects just fine. Once the VPN says it’s connected, load up Netflix and watch in wonder as the app believes that you are in the United States and loads up the US Netflix library!

Things to note

  • The VPN will slow you down a little bit, but not enough to affect video playback. Netflix technology is very good at figuring out how to play videos optimally, even at slower speeds.
  • The VPN will disconnect periodically. This is annoying, but if you are already playing a video it will not affect it. The movie or TV show will play through to the end unless you pause it and let the iPad time out. If you find that you are having difficulty launching a show, check to see if the little VPN icon is in the upper left corner of the iPad’s notification bar. If it is, then you may need to restart the app. If it isn’t, then head back into the VPN settings and turn it on again. You may want to close Netflix out completely, first to make sure that the VPN takes with the app (double-tap the iPad’s hardware button to see the running/recently running programs, press and hold Netflix till it shakes and gets an X in the corner, then tap the X to close it).

There you have it! Access to US Netflix on your iPad whether you have a non-US account, or just happen to be visiting another country. It is important to note that this trick may only last until Netflix figures a way to block it out, but HotSpot Shield is versatile. They have managed to get people back into Hulu every time they’ve been locked out so far, so it will probably be the same with Netflix.

Thoughts?

App of the Week: Atomic Web Browser [iOS]

App of the Week : Atomic Web Browser | 40Tech

Mobile Safari has it’s good points, but there are several places where it leaves a lot to be desired. There are speed issues when loading, the lack of any real multitasking (resulting in windows constantly reloading when you exit the app and return), no background tab or window loading, etc., etc., etc. To compound these issues, the last few iPad versions of Safari (including the current one) are unstable at the best of times, their regular crashes making browsing a chore.

There are several Safari alternatives for iOS, all if them trying to overcome the shortcomings of the stock iPhone and iPad browser. The best of the lot, however, considering features, usability, and price, is Atomic Web Browser.

Atomic Web Browser has been around since December of 2009 and while it has floated back and forth between $0.99 and $1.99, it has held steady at $0.99 for nearly a year. It also has a Lite version which has nearly all of the same features, but for $0.99, getting niceties like the ability to set a homepage isn’t a bad deal. Anyone who’s read my work on 40Tech before knows that’s high praise, too. It takes a lot to get me to shell out money if I don’t have to, and I’ve found it to be completely worth my while so far.

Features

It used to be that Atomic and other mobile Safari alternatives were sought after for real tabbed browsing and the ability to switch User Agents and view mobile pages as if they were served on a full-sized computer. Those are minor features these days, and Atomic has become useful for so much more. Here are the highlights (go here for the full list):

  • Load tabs in background
  • True multitasking
  • Add JavaScript as bookmarks
  • Share links on Facebook and Twitter
  • Configurable swipe and tap gestures
  • Save pages for offline viewing
  • Download manager with Dropbox, iTunes and email support
  • Import/Export bookmarks
  • Jump to top/bottom of web pages
  • Change and lock font-size for specific sites
  • Full-screen browsing with configurable buttons
  • Launch homepage, last session, or last viewed
  • Bookmarklet that sends pages to Atomic Web Browser from Safari

There are a ton of other features as well, such as setting the colour of the browser, ad block, private mode, air print, web compression (for faster browsing), search engine plugins, on-page search, view page source code, and more.

Atomic Web Browser Background Tabs Atomic Web Browser Download ManagerAtomic Web Browser Action ButtonsAtomic Web Browser Options

There are a few other browsers that compare with Atomic, the closest in both price and features being Mercury Browser, which I have been using on my iPhone for the past while. Mercury Browser is almost identical in features and has a few interesting possibilities like a library of common bookmarklets that can be installed (which is a bit buggy), a bookmarks springboard, and speed-dial-like dashboard for your favourite sites.

Mercury Browser’s extra features are great, and combine well with an interesting and pretty interface to make for fantastic browser, but I find that Atomic is easier to navigate. The Atomic Web Browser’s look and feel is more minimalist and straightforward in its approach, and for me — and more importantly, my wife — that translates into a better overall experience. Both have free and very functional Lite versions, though, so you should give them a try to see what suits you better.

Your turn:

What’s your favourite browser for iOS?

App of the Week: Planets, Free Stargazing App for iPhone, iPad [iOS]

40Tech App of the Week: Stargazing App Planets for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch

When I was a kid, I was an astronomy nut. I was in love with the planets, the stars, nebulae, constellations, you name it. I read everything I could get my hands on. I even did a science project presentation in grade five (I think) on black holes. Somehow or other, though, as I grew older and the whirlwind of life, family and general stuff caught me up, I lost a lot of what I knew and never found the time to pick it up again. What bothered me especially was that I couldn’t identify more than four or five constellations any more — and that’s the sort of fun star gazing that I really wanted to share with my little girl.

Belatedly, it hit me: I own a GPS-capable, compass-packing smartphone. Somebody must have created a stargazing app for the iPhone and/or iPad. There’s an app for everything, or some other such marketing phrase, right? Of course, it turned out that there were several apps of varying costs and degrees of complexity — and the one that struck the balance with me was simple, free app (with over 5 million downloads) called Planets.

Planets doesn’t compare to the feature-sets of some of the paid apps like Starwalk for iPad, but it isn’t bogged down by complications either. It’s a straightforward 2D or 3D view of the heavens, augmented by some location-based gyroscope action. This is especially useful in the 3D view, as it allows you to get a look at the constellations and planets as you turn and point your iPhone or iPad. The 2D view provides a some useful information at a touch, such as rising and setting times of planets, the sun, and the like, but it’s the 3D virtual planetarium that gets me.

Constellations on the iPhone with Planets for iPhone, iPad | 40TechView planets, stars on the iPhone with Planets for iPhone, iPad | 40TechPlanet rise, sunrise, visibility of planets with the naked eye on iPhone, iPad | 40Tech

While Planets for iPhone and iPad could benefit from providing more information about specific stars and planets, and I wouldn’t mind a bit of interactivity and a photo of a nebula or two, I love the fact that me and my kid can quickly identify artwork in the sky and can even see where things should be if there wasn’t so much light pollution or the sometimes perpetual cloud cover we get on the Northwest coast – or if pesky things like daylight hours or the plane of the Earth get in the way. I also like that the Planets app actually tells you where the planets of our solar system happen to be hanging out, and at what times they might be visible to the naked eye. I found Saturn outside my door the other day. I’ve always loved Saturn. It’s pretty.

Photo May 18, 5 30 06 PMPhoto May 18, 5 30 59 PMPhoto May 18, 5 31 31 PMPhoto May 18, 5 32 11 PMPhoto May 18, 5 32 30 PMPhoto May 18, 5 33 03 PM

If the regular planetarium view doesn’t cut it for you, Planets also has several other views that make the sky look impressively colourful, including X-ray, Radio, Infrared, Microwave and Hydrogen-a. There are also some twirling shots of the planets in the globe section, but that part of the Planets app definitely needs more information and other bells and whistles to be interesting. Still, for a free app, it’s a great little stargazing assistant, and one that I get regular use out of.

You can pick up Planets for free at the iTunes App Store.

What’s your favourite stargazing app for your mobile device?

Word Lens: Real Time Language Translation (iOS)

Word Lens: Real Time Language Translation | 40Tech

File this under very cool and potentially useful. Word Lens is the kind of app you will want to have on you when travelling, or when presented with text in a language you don’t understand that you just have to know the translation of. I say “will want” because, so far, it only works with Spanish and English, so it is useless for your other translation needs. It’s still awesome, though — the bees knees, even.

All this iOS app needs is a device with a camera, and — with no network required — it will translate the text that the camera sees, in real time. It works surprisingly well, too! I think that, next to (prepare for Star Trek reference) a Universal Translator, this is best thing to happen to translation software in a while. Maybe Google will buy them and offer the tech for free some day soon. For now, however, even though the app looks free, it will actually cost you $10 per language set. That means that you need to spend $10 to get it to translate Spanish to English and another $10 for the vice versa. For what it does, though, and especially as it adds in more languages, Word Lens might actually be worth it.

Check out the video below:

YouTube Preview Image

Word Lens is a Mind-Blowing App that Translates Any Text Your Camera Can See On the Fly [Lifehacker]

How to Search By Tag in Evernote for iPhone

How to Search By Tag in Evernote for iPhone | 40Tech

For long-time Evernote for iPhone users, searching your notes by tag is probably not an issue. However, the email I received last night from one of our own Grown-up Geeks made me realize that new users to the iPhone version of Evernote might be in for a bit of frustration. In light of this, I decided to put together a quick how-to post based on the email response I sent our reader. Check it out below.

In order to browse by tag in Evernote for iPhone, you just need to follow these steps:

Open Evernote and tap Notes from the bottom menu

IMG_1751


Tap the search bar up top (where it says Search Notes)

IMG_1752


As the search bar is activated, it will expand and just below it you see “Advanced search” — tap that

IMG_1753


In the next screen, you will see the Tags button — tap it

Note: You can add several other search filters from this screen, as well!

IMG_1754


Tap the tag you want to sort by

Once selected the tag will have a checkmark. To search within multiple tag, select more than one.

IMG_1755 IMG_1756


Tap “Advanced” in the top left corner, to go back to the advanced menu

You will be able to see a list of the tags and other search criteria you chose here.

IMG_1757


Tap “Notes” in the top left corner, to go back to the notes list

Your notes will now be sorted by the selected tags — to get back to general note view, tap the “All notes” button.

IMG_1758


Hopefully, this post will help some iPhone Evernote newbies out. If you’re reading this and it seems too convoluted to you — and you haven’t bought an iPhone yet — you might want to consider Evernote for Android. The new version puts tags right upfront – and there are a few other Android-only features that kick the iPhone’s Evernote squarely in the pants.

Evernote 2.0 for Android Screenshot

Have other Evernote questions? Post them in the comments, and we’ll do our best to answer them.