Ok, folks. As of right now, it’s easy to jailbreak your phone. Just update to iOS 4.3.3 via iTunes then go to jailbreakme.com. Done? Good.

(Jailbreaking is reversible and basically legal. And what jailbreaking basically does is install an ‘alternate’ app store named Cydia that’s full of thousands of apps, tweaks, and themes that Apple would not have approved.)

Here’s a list of apps I bought and/or downloaded from the Cydia app that makes my iPhone 4 MUCH more deaf-friendly:

Vibrafications – set up custom vibrations for different actions (SMS versus mail versus Twitter / Facebook notifications). Vibrations can be of different patterns and lengths. You can even set up custom vibrations for different people!

3G Unrestrictor – make it possible to use FaceTime and several VRS apps over 3G, not just wifi. Came in handy when I needed to call AAA for service.

Notified Pro and Notification GriP – set up “quiet” notifications on the top or bottom of the screen and which does not interrupt your work or play. No more intrusive iPhone notifications in a box in the middle of your screen. So many freaking options to customize these whichever way you want!! A definite MUST-have for me. More on this on a later blog post. (EDIT: I use the PushMail app – from the regular app store – to send me push notifications whenever I get new email. Similarly, I use the free Boxcar app to send me Twitter notifications.)

LockInfo – extensively customize the lock screen to show a variety of information. I have this set to dim after 5 minutes and to display emails, SMS messages, and notifications. So that means I can just glance at my iPhone at least once every 5 minutes to see if I have new messages instead of having to frigging turn it on and checking different apps. LockInfo comes with numerous plug-ins as well to display even more info – calendar, Twitter, to-dos, etc.

BiteSMS – send and receive SMS messages in a small window on your screen from inside any app or the lockscreen. No need to switch to the Messaging app. Wish there was something like this for mail messages!

These are just a handful of handy jailbreak apps I use to make the iPhone a vastly better experience for me as a deaf person. I know – iOS 5, announced for release this fall – does nearly all these (except for BiteSMS). Where do you think Apple got its ideas?

In addition to these, I use quite a few more jailbreak apps to improve the overall experience, like SBsettings (quick access to common Settings), Snappy (quick photo-taking), MyWiFi (ahem, using my iPhone as a wifi router for laptops or iPads when on the road), InfiniDock (having more than just 4 apps on my dock bar), FolderCloser (close a folder upon launching an app), and many more.

Go forth and jailbreak!

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(Last edited 4/25/11 at 8pm)

Want dinner, but don’t want to get in line? Don’t even want to leave home?

There’s an app for that. Nay, more than one app!

A growing number of iPhone / iPad apps allows you to order your next meal for delivery or pick-up. I’m gonna try to list the better-known ones here. Let me know in the comments if I miss any, and I’ll add to this list (and ok, I’ll give you credit).

Here goes!

California Pizza Kitchen

Pickup only (altho they’d deliver to your car)

Yummy BBQ pizza. Customize your toppings. Tap-tap convenience. Pickup (or even delivery to your car). Nuff said?

Carrabba’s Italian Grill

Pickup only (including carside delivery)

With this app, you can order and customize a heaping dish of pasta / salad goodness. Yummo!

Chipotle

Pickup Only (but pay via app)

You can completely customize your next Chipotle burrito and pay for it via this app. See that long line of hungry customers? Laugh at them as you make a bee-line to the front of the line and pick up your order!

Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches

Delivery / Pickup

This chain of sub shops is fast-growing and prides itself on using fresh food in its yummy subs. And you can have these subs delivered to your home or office. #winning!

Outback Steakhouse

Pickup only

With this app, you can order your favorite heaping goodness and then have them deliver – well, only as far as your car while you’re in their parking lot. Still, yum.

Papa John’s

Delivery only

This handy app lets you tweak and top off your pizza to your heart’s desire. And you get to pay via this app too. Unlike Pizza Hut, no account is needed beforehand. Nifty.

Pizza Hut

Delivery only

With the Pizza Hut app, you can completely customize your pizza – from the crust to the toppings. You can even do half-pizza toppings. I’m hungry already!

Honorable Mentions:

Although these apps aren’t of specific restaurants that do delivery or pick-up, they nonetheless deserve a special place on this list.


GrubHub

This fantastic Grubhub app will tell you all restaurants that deliver in your area, and will even order delivery for you online if available for that restaurant. Grubhub only serves select cities – dang.

Peapod

Get grocery delivery straight to your door from the Giant food store in your area. Schedule regular deliveries of grocery items, and easily add or subtract items from your list. But that means you gotta cook.

SeamlessWeb Food Delivery

Like GrubHub, this service tells you which local businesses can do delivery — and orders for you when available. Also like GrubHub, this is only available in select cities. Double darn dang. (Added 4/25/11)

Starbucks Mobile Card

With the Starbucks Mobile Card app, you can link your Starbucks gift card account to your iPhone and then pay for your order at the cash register using only your iPhone. Very nice feature! Just make sure you still have a dollar bill or some change for the tip jar …

Perhaps you’re trying to keep track of those complicated coffee orders. Or you’re trying to remember your kids’ different Happy Meal preferences (seemingly depending on the time of the day or even the moon’s stage). Or sometimes, like me, you just need to write down your order.

This is where the iPhone Sorenson BuzzCards app becomes really, really handy.

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With this app, you can easily type and save your order. The words are easy for the cashier to read (even from the car in a drive-thru!), and the font size automatically increases or decreases to take up all available screen real estate.

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You can give titles and even categories to your orders for later reuse. Easy to use the same orders over and over again (or even do minor tweaks each time):

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You can even flirt from across the room using the BuzzCards app!

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Oh yeah, it’s hard to beat the price: free.

My only beef: Comic Sans font. C’mon, how can anyone take you seriously!?

UPDATE:  Here’s one for my favorite toy store.

To Dash or To Splash?

August 18, 2010

For the heck of it, I took this photo:

Nothing special, right? Well, I decoded to use the free Dash of Color app from the iPhone app store to touch it up and make it a bit more special:

Nice dash of color, eh? Unfortunately, I had a difficult time staying within the lines – I felt like my four-year-old daughter! I couldn’t pan or zoom for more fine editing. And when I saved the finished picture, the quality noticeably depreciated – the previous, ah, masterpiece was now an unappealing blur.  Plus, it’s a lot smaller. I couldn’t tell if the female pedestrian on the right was coming or going.

So I shelled out two smackeroos for the ColorSplash app. After viewing the several built-in introductionary (is that a word?) videos via the app, I was able to quickly zoom in and color (easily within the lines!) to get this:

ColorSplash’s picture is obviously a LOT better in quality. Details aren’t blurred like in Dash of Color’s picture. And I was able to do the coloring a lot quicker in ColorSplash – well, once I viewed the videos from within the app.

My advice? Shell out the two dollars and get ColorSplash.

Side note: there’s a beautiful finger in ColorSplash’s tutorial videos. My nail-bitten, cuticle-mauled finger could never be in a tutorial video.

iSuccumbed

August 12, 2010

Yes, I succumbed. Or more accurately, iSuccumbed.

I’ve been a loyal Palm fanboy for more than a decade. I’ve had a series of Palm devices, including the Palm VII, several Treos, and finally the Palm Pre. I’ve touted Palm for years and even converted numerous (but not countless, I admit) folks to the Palm mentality.

When the iPhone was released several years ago, I was quick to disparage it. It lacked a physical keyboard. It didn’t sport a visual notifications that would linger after the screen shuts off. Its vibrate alert was dweeby. Its push email, other than for its own me.com emails, is half-hearted. Apple is resistant to hacky-innovation. Heck, at that time, the iPhone didn’t even have copy-and-paste.

So, as millions upon millions of iPhones were sold in its various incarnations, I continued to resist its siren song. I fought the lemming lure and stayed steadfast to Palm (now HP/Palm) and its wonderful WebOS devices.

And yet, earlier this week, I succumbed.

I ordered an iPhone 4, and it’ll arrive soon. I cannot wait.

So why did I succumb? Two words: FaceTime and Apps. (Ok, so that’s three words – but somehow “and” just doesn’t count.)

FaceTime

Using FaceTime, two iPhone 4 users can hold a two-way videophone conversation. FaceTime also takes advantage of several iPhone 4 features: a camera in the front, and another in the back. And FaceTime makes it possible for the user to “flip” the view from front to back without having to flip the camera – a very useful feature.

Videoconferencing via a smartphone ain’t new. Not much innovation there. Yet, Apple is able to come up with hardware that works well and sell enough units that they become part of the mainstream. And because of the sheer number of devices with these features, developers and businesses take heed and develop nearly countless (ok, over 200,000) related apps.

Take, for example, ZVRS – a video relay interpreting service for people who are deaf or hard of hearing or have communication disabilities. ZVRS partnered with Apple and built an app in which iPhone users can make “phone calls” while communicating via sign language through ZRS’s interpreters. Niiiiiiiiiice.

ZVRS iPhone app

The iPhone hardware and its associated (and massive) ecosystem are the two main reasons why iSuccumbed after so long. At this time, Palm simply does not have the numbers (both smartphones and apps) to keep me. I’m certain that with HP’s recent acquisition, Palm will release new hardware – but it has waited too long, and I am moving on.

Don’t get me wrong. WebOS, I firmly believe, is still superior to iOS. I particularly love how WebOS multitasks (and the fact that it has multitasked from day one). I adore the gesture areas outside the screen on the Pre and Pixi! Yet the numbers and new hardware simply aren’t there (yet?).

No, wait. I’m at least giving the iPhone a 30-day trial period to see if I truly like it (and AT&T) enough to abandon Palm altogether.

Stay iTuned.

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