LodgeNet Mobile turns your iPhone into a hotel TV remote

Those traveling with an iOS device, take note: LodgeNet Mobile (free, universal) lets you use your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch as a remote control for hotel TVs. The app’s developers, LodgeNet Interactive Corporation, claim that the app is compatible with TVs in “hundreds of thousands” of US hotel rooms, including those from Hilton, Starwood, Marriott, Hyatt, Omni Hotels and many more.

Not only does it control the TV (on/off, volume, channel selection), LodgeNet Moble will let you view in-room movie listings, order movies and other video-on-demand features and even find local events and restaurants. That’s great for when you’re traveling with your iPhone or iPad, and super for people who don’t like to handle hotel remote controls (you know who you are).

I haven’t used it, but the apps’ got a four-star rating across 64 reviews on the App Store right now. Since it’s free, there’s nothing to lose by trying it out.

[Via USA Today Travel]

Chicken Out! is a fun puzzle game for iPhone

Big thanks to Podotree‘s Chicken Out! for iPhone and iPod touch (free) for sponsoring the site this week. I love puzzle games and Chicken Out! had me playing all weekend. Its good looks and simple gameplay make it one of those games you pull out when you’ve got some time to kill.

A Fun Puzzler

You’re presented with a grid and two chickens. Your job is to eliminate all but one by sliding them into each other. Chickens can only side left-to-right and top-to-bottom (no diagonal slides allowed). Plus, each chicken can only be moved once.

The first few rounds are simple but eventually the number of chickens increases and careful planning is required. Play long enough and unlock special chickens like the wrestler who hurls chickens and lands a square ahead of the others. Each has a signature move that clears out the chickens but also adds a unique challenge. Get really good an unlock arcade mode, bombs and more.

Game Center, Sharing

Each of the game’s ten levels features many puzzles to beat, so there’s a good amount of play time available. Game Center is supported, as well as bragging via Facebook and Twitter. For the price of free, you can’t go wrong.

Go Get It!

Download a Chicken Out! and have fun. 1 Just don’t blame me if you find yourself humming the song. Click below for more screenshots.

Here’s how you can become a sponsor.

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  1. Plus, your patronage helps keep the pirate ship afloat.

iPhone lock screen is “terrible” now

Jonathan S. Geller overreacts at Boy Genius Report:

“Apple, your new lock screen is terrible. It’s great that you want to make the camera even more accessible in iOS 5.1 since a lot of people didn’t know the double-tap trick, but you’ve compromised the usability of something as simple and vital as unlocking a phone. You have altered the iconic slide-to-unlock layout, and there’s no option to disable the new camera shortcut on the lock screen. Visually, an off-center slide-to-unlock mechanism isn’t appealing at all. It’s too narrow for the space and I’ve tapped the camera button by mistake more than a few times trying to unlock the phone.”

I like the ever-present camera button and I’m yet to tap it accidentally. Perhaps we Jonathan and I swipe differently. I agree that there should be an option to disable it, but calling the unlock mechanism “iconic” is a bit much.

Update: Reader Christian notes that Jonathan might have trouble with the placement of the camera button if he’s left-handed. Good point.


Phraseology is a compelling text editor for iPad (Update)

There are many text editors available for the iPad, and I feel compelled to try a lot of them. This week I’ve been using Phraseology  ($3.99) by Agile Tortoise, which I like a lot. Two features make it stand out: the Inspector and the Arrange Menu.

Phraseology also features several export options and a unique set of accessory keys on the keyboard. The more I dove into what this app could do, the more I liked it. Simple typing is only the beginning; this is one informative text editor. Here’s my look at Phraseology for iPad.

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New Monopoly uses iPhone-readable debit cards instead of cash

Hasbro’s Monopoly line of board games keeps expanding like hotels on Boardwalk. You can buy themed editions, variations for kids and even “Scrantonopoly,” which features landmarks from my beloved Scranton, Pa. Now Hasbro has announced Monopoly zAPPed, which swaps paper money for debit cards that can be read by iOS devices.

The cards are coated with a special “conductive paint” developed by Volumique (NFC or RFID are not used). Once the companion app is installed on the iPhone or iPod touch, each card is “tapped” against the device to register the transaction and free players from the burden of simple arithmetic. Progress!

Expect Monopoly zAPPed to hit stores this fall for $25 (the iOS app will be free).

Alerts make the iPhone “worse” than BlackBerry

Jonathan Geller explains “why the iPhone is worse than a BlackBerry” at BGR:

“I need more control over my alerts…I really wish Apple would…allow users to set custom alert settings for different things. For instance, I’d love it if I could have different profile modes with settings for vibrate, ring, volume and ringtone much like how RIM’s BlackBerry phones have worked for ages.

Apple could totally take this one step further and allow location-based profiles for alerts, system settings, and more. When I get home, I want Bluetooth to turn off automatically, and I want my alert profile to change, for instance.”

That sounds good. Ryan Cash suggested something similar after “Patron X’s” iPhone interrupted a performance of the New York Philharmonic in January. Perhaps Apple will look into it.

But to say that inferior custom alert options alone make the iPhone “worse than BlackBerry” is ridiculous.

iPhone Notification Center wish list (Update)

I love iOS 5’s Notification Center. As I said in this week’s episode of Enough, it was one of my favorite new technologies of 2011. There’s still room for improvement, though, and I’ve listed my Notification Center wish list here. I’ve got no idea how to implement these things, but that’s up to Apple’s developers to figure out. Hop to it, folks.

Timer. The timer should appear in the Notification Center. I often set a timer with Siri while I’m cooking. Siri’s timer looks great, but as soon as you put it away, it’s gone. I keep the clock on the third screen, so it takes some hunting to get to. If it can’t go in the Notification Center, I’d like to ask Siri, “How much time is left on that timer?” 1

Larger “Clear” buttons. They’re way too small and I almost never hit them on the first try. Even better, let me swipe to remove notifications, as I can with email messages.

Wi-Fi/Bluetooth toggle. As the settings I change most often, I’d like quick access right in the Notification Center. Swipe on, swipe off.

Favorite contacts widget. I’d love for a widget that notices my favorite contacts and lists them for one-tap call placement from within the Notification Center.

I’ve got one more request but fortunately Rene Ritchie has offered a nice fix. Sometimes I get a banner notification just as I need to tap a button in the scene’s upper right-hand corner. Rather than wait for it to roll out of the way 2, I can quickly flick it away. Thanks, Rene.

  1. Chris Rawson points out that you can ask Siri, ” Show me the timer” or “How’s the timer doing?”.
  2. I know,God forbid I have to wait a whole 2-3 seconds for something to happen.