PicLab HD: Spice Up Your iPhone Photos

hd-iconLike many photographers, I’ve spent countless hours experimenting with a seemingly endless stream of photo apps for iPhone. While Photoshop is great for hardcore RAW editing on a desktop, sometimes you need a quick and simple solution for editing photos on the go. The latest addition to my mobile photo arsenal is a beautiful little tool called PicLab HD.

PicLab HD is a powerful design studio that enhances your photos with a plethora of effects and overlays. Just import a photo from your photo library and browse through the extensive catalog of filters, moods, stickers, and overlays. You can also perform basic adjustments such as contrast, brightness, saturation, and blur.

The cool thing that sets PicLab HD apart from other photo editors is its wide variety of text and artwork overlays, all created by professional designers. You can customize the size and color of the overlays to create the perfect addition to any picture. The $1.99 app includes several collections of these stickers, and you can purchase additional packages for $0.99 each, or purchase the entire catalog of artwork for $2.99.THIS TO THISThe free version of PicLab doesn’t include as many features as PicLab HD, but it’s a good place to start experimenting with what the PicLab ecosystem has to offer. You can upgrade from within the free app to access the features of the HD version, or download PicLab HD directly for $1.99 in the App Store. If you’re a serious photographer/designer/artist/enthusiast, I recommend making the plunge and buying PicLab HD– it’s most definitely worth it!

The Future of Mobile Computing

Mobile devices, specifically large screen smartphones, have made significant inroads into the computing spaces traditionally held by full-sized desktop and laptop computers. This incursion can best be measured by personal usage shifts.

In my own case, I find myself making much less use of my laptop and desktop machines, with my large screen smartphone making up the majority of my usage. At this point, if it were possible I would shift all of my computing usage to my smartphone, but unfortunately I find that the lack of quality software, and not the hardware, is preventing me from making the full shift.

The high end smartphone hardware of today compares quite favorably to traditional desktop and laptop hardware. If I could only run desktop class software applications on my smartphone, I could pretty ditch my traditional machines to an even greater degree than I already have.

The large screen high end smartphone hardware is closer than ever to hitting a peak, where performance improvements are incremental. From my point of view, the only way my phone could be made even more useful would be the addition of genuine desktop class software applications that would allow me to do real work and truly take advantage of the heavy duty hardware that is built in to a very compact package.

The software we’ve had to this point is at best dumbed-down and lacks capability. Apps such as Garage Band and iMovie on iOS and most of their counterparts on Andriod in the Google Play Store are toy apps aimed at seemingly air headed casual users. For example, where is the ability to import from and export to wider varieties of audio and video file types?

I want a real video editor that would allow me to attach my phone to a large screen monitor, keyboard and mouse and do intense video editing. Ditto with a real sound editor that would run on my phone that would be similar to the depth of an application such as Adobe Audition.

Who will develop these more capable smartphone applications? That remains to be seen. At this point the only real differentiators for hardware platforms lies in better software applications.

I personally am willing to pay for desktop class applications that will run on mobile computing platforms. Unfortunately so far they don’t seem to exist.

Instagram Gets Revamped Explore & Search Features

Lainstagram1st week Instagram released a major update to its mobile apps, most notably including a revamped “Explore” page and streamlined search functionality. The Explore tab will bring up trending topics and hashtags in real-time. Users will also find curated photo collections, such as Ancient Ruins, Glimmeinstagram7ring Islands, and Extreme Athletes.

In addition, search will now bring up the most relevant posts for a search term, rather thaninstagram6 displaying all posts with that tag. This will make it easier to find the most relevant, interesting content without having to comb through dozens of irrelevant images.

 

 

Instagram 7.0 is available now for iOS and Android. The update is currently only available for US users, with an international release coming soon.

3 Queens Launched Mobile Game at E3

Creeping With the CrudashiansThere’s been a ton of news that came out of E3, especially from the bigger, well known, companies. So, you might have missed hearing about a fun mobile game that was created by a small company called 3 Queens. It is an all-woman owned gaming development and publishing company that is based in South Carolina.

The first mobile game from 3 Queens is called Creeping with the Crudashians. It is intended to be a parody of “America’s reality TV royal family” – the Kardashians (and their show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”. ) The game is also a critique of celebrity vanity in general.

Creeping with the Crudashians is a Match 3 game that is available for both iOS and Android users. Give 3 Queens your email, and get on their list, if you want to know exactly when the game launches. I’ve subscribed, in part because I like to support women who are in the gaming industry, and also because I’m so very tired of all the “news” about whatever the Kardashians are doing. I think I’m really going to enjoy this game!

The game includes characters that resemble the Kardashians. There’s Cym, Crusty, Crassy, Crawly, Crewelina, and more. The concept of the game is to poke fun at the major milestones and events of the Crudashians based on their career timeline. To win a level, players must match tiles to increase their fame, break sex tapes, etc., with an overall goal to gain the ever elusive talent.

The in-game currencies are Fame, and Talent. The game does allow for micro-transactions. You can purchase Fame, but you can’t buy Talent. Fame, however, is abundant in the game and the default reward for anything a player does. The official public launch of Creeping with the Crudashians is this July. It will be available on both the iTunes and Play! stores.

Previous to creating this game, the 3 Queens (Cara Florence, Nicole Young, and Maureen Coffey-Edri) created an app called WeConsent2 It is an affirmative consent application “designed to protect you and your partner before passion”.

Ford Announces First Apps Compatible with AppLink for SYNC 3

Ford LogoFord was the first to bring voice control to in-vehicle apps when AppLink launched for the first generation of SYNC in 2010. The voice control, of course, makes it safer for drivers to select apps while they are driving. Now, Ford is announcing the first smartphone apps to be compatible with AppLink for SYNC 3.

The integration of voice control to in-vehicle apps has been improved with SYNC 3, delivering an experience that is faster, more responsive, and user friendly. AppLink discovers compatible apps on your smartphone and projects their information, including unique graphics and branding on the touch screen display in your vehicle. There are three apps that Ford is highlighting that are compatible with AppLink.

The first one is Spotify, which delivers over 30 million songs at the touch of a button and the sound of your voice. In Ford and Lincoln models equipped with SYNC 3, users can control the Spotify App running on their Apple or Android smartphones from the driver’s seat using voice control. Using Ford AppLink, Spotify Premium, and Free subscribers can choose their playlists synced across any device, toggle shuffle, save tracks to their music collection, and much more, all hands-free. Users also have access to playlist, album artwork, and track information in rich full color display on the SYNC 3 touch screen.

Pandora is also being highlighted. With Pandora on SYNC 3, great music discovery is effortless and personalized. Pandora’s team of over 30 music analysts examines 400 attributes in each song to find the perfect track for you and your journey. Customize your stations even further by thumbing up and thumbing down directly from the dashboard of your Ford vehicle.

The third app being highlighted is Glympse, the pioneer in time-based, temporary location sharing. Users can simply share their current location and estimated time of arrival. Using SYNC 3’s touchscreen interface, drivers can easily send, add time or expire an existing Glympse, and receive a push notification when a sent Glympse has been viewed, which keeps the driver’s eyes on the road.

The all-new SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system debuts this summer in North America on the 2016 Ford Escape and Fiesta. Pandora, Spotify, and Glympse are among the first apps to take advantage of the new capabilities of SYNC 3; additional AppLink-enabled apps will continue to roll out as SYNC 3 becomes available this summer.

Skeegle is a Personal Broadcasting Service

Skeegle logoSkeegle is an app that allows people to share live moments with their close contacts. It functions in a way that is similar to Meerkat or Periscope. The difference is that Skeegle is more private. Users have a lot of control over who is allowed to view what they broadcast.

The Skeegle app is free to download and use. That being said, Skeegle points out on their website that there could be costs associated with whatever data plan you have. It also says:

By default, your content is hosted free for one month. Since Skeegle is currently in beta version, we are not charging for extended hosting of your video beyond one month. When Skeegle will move away from beta, we will introduce a paid hosting option that you can choose to use for content that you want to keep longer than one month. Any content that you publish before we introduce this change will be exempt from this charging structure.

The Skeegle app has three main functions. Broadcast is the live streaming function. Replay is your personal program guide that contains all of your Skeegle videos. Circles refers to the way you create and manage your contact groups.

Right now, you can only set up a Skeegle account and broadcast if you live in the UK. The app is backed by EE and they are supporting it to help show the capabilities of 4G. The app is available in both the Android and Apple stores right now.

You must sign up using your Facebook account and will be asked to add your phone number. You will end up with a Facebook Circle that is composed of your Facebook friends who are currently using Skeegle.

It is possible to personalize that group by adding and removing friends from that circle. When you select Facebook as an audience for your livestream, Skeegle will post a link to your live stream on your Facebook wall. That link will only be visible to the Facebook friends who have a Skeegle account and who are in your Facebook circle. The friends that are available at that moment can watch your live streaming.

Blade: The Uber of Helicopters

Blade phone app for Business NO CREDIT

Blade phone app for Business NO CREDIT

Life is hard all over. It seems like every time you really need a chopper to fly you from your Manhattan luxury apartment to the Hamptons, there’s never one around!

Well no worry no more! A new company called Blade is here to help.

Blade bills itself as a sort of “Uber for helicopters” allowing riders to book short flights between Manhattan and the Hamptons, among other nearby cities.

According to the Business Insider, it’ll run you about $575 a seat to get to the Hamptons.

Go grab your Blade app and get flying.

App Review: aTimeLogger 2 for iOS

aTimeLogger2 logoAs a freelancer, time tracking is essential to the work I do. I’m always looking for ways to improve that tracking, so I’ve been trying out different apps lately to help with the task. One of this apps is called aTimeLogger 2. There are some previous versions of aTimeLogger for other platforms. But aTimeLogger 2 is only currently available for iOS and I’ve used it exclusively on my iPad Mini. The app sells for $2.99 in the App Store but I was able to pick it up for free during a special promotional period.

aTimeLogger 2 is pretty straight forward when adding a task. The app opens with a screen that allows you to select from different task categories. aTimeLogger 2 is designed to keep track of EVERYTHING you might do in the course of a day; working, eating, exercising, sleeping, etc. I’m only interested in using the app for work projects, so I selected the Work option from the menu below.

aTimeLogger2 screen

This automatically added a new task at the top of the screen with a new timer that had already started rolling.

aTimeLogger2 screen

 

Tapping the task takes me to a screen that allows me to add some details to the task. The “Type” section was already set to Work, as I selected that on the previous screen. If I wanted to change it to something else, I could do that here. The “My plan” feature has something to do with combining different tasks into a plan. This feature seemed confusing and since I really didn’t need it, I didn’t try to figure it out. I did however use the “Comment” field as a way to give my tasks unique names that made them easier to identify.

aTimeLogger2 screen

This screen also keeps track of any time I’ve added to the task so far and it also has a delete button for removing the task completely from the app.

Tapping the Save button in the upper right-hand corner took me back to the main aTimeLogger 2 screen. I added an additional task just to show that the app allows you to keep track of multiple projects at the same time.

aTimeLogger2 screen

Note: While you can keep track of multiple tasks as shown above, aTimeLogger 2 can only one run timer at a time. I think this is by design, since the app breaks everything down into task categories and the assumption is you probably won’t be doing more than one task at a time.

From here, you can pause tasks and restart them again as needed. This is crucial for the type of work I do, as projects are not always done in a single block of time or on a single day. This is really all I used the app for, and for the most part, it did this well. However, I did notice sometimes that the timer would jump ahead in time when adding details to the Comment fields of tasks. It was easy enough to fix this when it was caught right away. But it was confusing at first, as I noticed some tasks had already logged more minutes (sometimes even hours) than I could’ve possibly used since adding the task to aTimeLogger 2. Once I figured out it was doing this, I just had to tap on the timer and reset it with the “Now” button. Fortunately, this problem only seemed to appear when initially setting up a task. This problem never arose when adding more time to an existing task.

At the end of a tracking period, aTimeLogger 2 will allow you to export all of your tracking data to a CSV or HTML file. Again, all I wanted the app to do was track my time in the Work category. But because it’s designed to track all of your time, there’s no way to remove that pesky “Other” category from the export results.

aTimeLogger2 screen

aTimeLogger 2 has settings and feature beyond what I used it for. For example, you can connect it to Twitter if you’d like the app to tweet when you’ve started/completed a task. You can also change the theme of the app if you’d like it to look different from the default layout (which was perfectly fine for me).

I used aTimeLogger 2 for one month’s worth of task tracking. And while the app is OK, I have trouble recommending it, mainly due to the timer issue I mentioned above. But, if you don’t mind a little babysitting when you first add tasks to the app, or if you’re super interested in timing EVERYTHING you do in the course of a day, aTimeLogger 2 might work well for you.

Line 6 brings Amplifi Remote app to Apple Watch

Line 6 logoLine 6 is a musical instrument and audio equipment manufacturer that’s been a real industry innovator for nearly two decades. I bought my first Line 6 guitar amp back in 2001 and have been hooked on the company’s products ever since. At this point, it’d be a neck-and-neck battle between Line 6 and Apple as far as which company has made a bigger dent in my overall net worth.

One thing that Line 6 has done recently that’s really intriguing is the development of “remote” apps that work wirelessly with its various products. The first of these connected-app lines is the Amplifi guitar amp/smart speaker system.  Amplifi was designed to bridge the gap between practicing at home and jamming with other musicians. At home, the Amplifi could be used as a speaker for entertainment systems. At the rehearsal space, Amplifi also works as a full-power electric guitar amp.

Amplifi is also the first Line 6 product to use a remote app to control different features of the device. The app originally launched for Android and iOS, running both on iPhone and iPad. Now, Line 6 has brought its Amplifi Remote app to Apple Watch:

The new AMPLIFi Remote v2.11 update enables guitar players to control and access guitar tones via Apple Watch. Guitarists can now access tones, control levels, search the Line 6 Tone Cloud, and use the tuner, right from their wrist. AMPLIFi Remote works with the entire AMPLIFi family, and provides guitarists with unprecedented control over every aspect of their guitar tone and effects.

Amplifi Remote features such as Tuner, MyTones and master/instrument level controls will be accessibly directly on the Apple Watch version of the app. Users will also be able to do a “dictation search” of Line 6’s Tone Cloud service, which will allow them to use vocal requests to search thru guitar tones saved to Line 6’s cloud service. Tones can then be quickly loaded onto an Amplifi device for immediate use.

It’s great to see Line 6’s continued development of things like the Amplifi Remote App. The company has also started rolling out other products that work with similar apps. I’m definitely excited to see what else Line 6 comes up with this year.

IFTTT Brings Apps to iPad and Apple Watch

IFTTT logoIf This Then That, better known as IFTTT, is a popular service that ties a plethora of online apps. services and devices together to perform specific tasks. For example, you could create an IFTTT “recipe” (the term that IFTTT uses for actions created thru the service) to automatically save your Instagram photos to Dropbox. IFTTT can also be used to work with things like smart sensors, home automation systems and more.

The IFTTT interface itself is accessed mostly thru the company’s website. There, you can search for recipes created by IFTTT staff and users. Once you find a recipe you’d like to try, just add it to your own IFTTT account where you can then configure the recipe to specifically work with your own user accounts across whatever services are referenced in the recipe. Along with that interface, IFTTT also offers its own apps that work in complementary ways to IFTTT’s core functionality:

  • Do Button: This app gives you a simple one-button interface to trigger the recipes that you’ve made thru IFTTT.
  • Do Camera: Create a “personalized” camera that will automatically share your photos with services like Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote and more.
  • Do Note: Use this app like a “digital notepad.” Make a quick note and then use IFTTT recipes to share it with Evernote, Google Calendar and more.

All of these apps were originally available for iPhone only. But IFTTT recently brought all of these apps to iPad and Apple Watch. The company is touting this move as “small, medium and large” versions of its apps for the different devices. Now it’s easier than ever to access and activate your IFTTT recipes.

I’ll admit, I’m still kind of an IFTTT newbie. But with the ease of use provided by these new apps, I’m definitely going to be looking into using the service more.