Tagged: app

Word Lens can translate anything your iPhone can see

Word Lens translates text in real-time using your iPhone's camera. (Click for larger image)Augmented Reality (AR) is the term used to describe apps that layer new information on top of what your phone’s camera lens is currently showing you. Examples include Layar, which pulls information from Google and other sources to help you identify shops, restaurants, museums etc – pretty much anything you could find in the Yellow Pages and shows it to you while you scan the area around you with your smartphone. Others like THQ’s Falcon Gunner, simply use it as an amusing way to change the gameplay, allowing TIE-fighters to swing out from behind your couch or a nearby building.

Today, a colleague drew my attention to what I think is the most amazing use of AR to-date. Quest Visual’s Word Lens is an app that will translate any text that you can squeeze into the frame of your iPhone’s camera lens and it does so in real time, and most impressively, it does it by completely replacing the text that you’re capturing with matching translated text. The effect is nothing short of stunning, taking an already pretty magical device like the iPhone and elevating it into the realm of Harry Potter-style magic.

Best of all, the app is completely self-contained. There’s no network component to the translation – it would work even if you disabled Wi-Fi and 3G.

Now here’s my confession: I haven’t actually ponied up the $4.99 fee that you need to pay once you download the free app in order to activate either the English to Spanish or Spanish to English options (yes, you pay for each one) largely because I don’t have a need for those right now, but if their demo video on YouTube is any indication of how well it works, I will be grabbing it for sure before our next Mexican vacation.

There’s not a lot of information on Quest Visual’s website other than a few FAQ’s, so here’s the YouTube…

Not too late to make this a gift for the traveler on your list.

Facebook iPhone app update trashes album uploads

The home screen of Facebook's latest iPhone app. Where's the camera? Click to enlarge.

The home screen of Facebook's latest iPhone app. Where's the camera? Click to enlarge.

I admit, in the grand scheme of things, this is a trivial issue – a minor bump in the road and I should probably just stop writing and enjoy my Friday.

But I can’t.

As a new iPhone 4 user, and as someone who has recently decided to upload a photo a day to his Facebook account, I’m irked. Here’s the problem: it seems that the new version of Facebook for the iPhone has a bug. It no longer lets you decide where you want to upload your photos to – such as a specific album. Instead, your photos all go to the “Mobile Uploads” album whether you like it or not. Moreover, adding photos is now a buried feature instead of being available straight from the homepage of the app.

I’ve found a few other people who are frustrated as well, and one of them suggested that deleting and reinstalling the app would bring back the album upload. No such luck.

I can’t imagine why Facebook would want to take such a big step back with their app, especially given their increasing focus on the mobile world.

Here’s hoping they come to their senses and fix this bug… I have Movember photos that I want to share… but not with the whole world ;-)

Bell TV launches remote PVR programming

Bell-TV-remote-PVRGood news for PVR addicts who find themselves away from home when they suddenly realize there isn’t enough room on their hard drive to record that show coming on in a few hours. Bell TV has launched a remote PVR management system that can be accessed online via a web browser or via a compatible smartphone.

Here’s how it works:

  • You need to have either the 9242 or 9241 Bell PVR Plus receivers (with or without an external HD)
  • You must have broadband internet access (min. of 256kbps)
  • You need to be able to connect your PVR via an ethernet cable to your home router or…
  • you can buy a HomePlug adapter (known as a Home Connect Kit) from a Bell World Store, or online at Bell.ca for about $50

To access your PVR from the web, you need to log into your online account at http://www.bell.ca/recordnow.

samsung-omnia-2If you want to use your smartphone, you’ll need the corresponding app.

For BlackBerry models 8830, 8330, 8530, 9630, 9000 & 9700 or the Samsung Omnia 2, you can download the app OTA (over the air) by pointing your mobile browser to www.bell.ca/rpvr
(BlackBerry owners – check your home screen, you may already have the Remote PVR icon there)

There is an app coming soon to the iTunes App Store for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, but in the meantime, you should be able to just use the built-in Safari browser. The same goes for the Palm Pre – just use your browser and head over to http://www.bell.ca/recordnow.

Once you’ve got it all set up, you should be able to manage the entire contents of your PVR, including deleting recorded events, scheduling new events, check remaining disk space, adjust the priority of recordings and manage any conflicts.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • The remote PVR system will not work with “PVR-ready” systems like the 6141, in other words, you must have one of the receivers that already has PVR functionality “out of the box”
  • When connecting the 9242 or 9241 receivers via the Home Connect¬†(HomePlug) kit, you only need one side of the typical two-sided HomePlug system, because these receivers already have HomePlug chips embedded – but you will need to ensure they are plugged directly into an AC wall socket and not a power bar or other surge-supressing equipment (these devices interfere with the HomePlug signal)
  • If you have an external hard drive connected to your PVR for additional recording space, you can see the recordings that you have on it, but you cannot manage them remotely

Disclosure: Sync blog is owned and operated by Bell Canada

Rumour: Slacker Radio coming to Canada?

slacker-in-canadaIt’s always a little dangerous to speculate on the meaning of media-teaser emails, especially in advance of the biggest tech show on earth (CES), but I’m going to go out on a limb here and tell you I think that Slacker Radio will be available to Canadians shortly.

Admittedly I have very little on which to base this rumour, except for an email I received today from Slacker’s PR agency FortyThree PR:

Hi Simon,


I wanted to contact you regarding a pre-briefing with Slacker during CES. Slacker, one of the top personal radio offerings for iPhone, Blackberry and Android (as well as Macs and PCs) with millions of listeners, will be making a major expansion outside of the U.S. that would be interesting to your Canadian audience. Some recent coverage of Slacker is below.

In addition to the expansion, Slacker also has many major, first-in-the-industry developments coming in January 2010.

That’s all she wrote.

So, is this a thinly-veiled confirmation that Slacker is Canada-bound? Or just a tease regarding international expansion, but not necessarily to Canada? Kindle fans, does this sound familiar?

If this pans out, you read it here first. If not, well, I’ll be as disappointed as the rest of you.