Category Archives: application

ArtRage Touch



artrage4-logoThe Surface Pro 3 I purchased a few weeks ago came with the bundled Microsoft Pen, which is a fancy name for a stylus. At first I didn’t make much use of the stylus, but after a while I decided it was time to experiment with it and see what it could do. Unlike the fat stylus’s for sale that will work on any capacitive touchscreen, the Microsoft Pen will work only with Surface devices and offers extreme precision.

The Surface Pro 3 with preinstalled Windows 10 comes with a program called Fresh Paint, and I played around with that for a while. Then I started looking in the Windows App Store and found ArtRage Touch which sells for $9.99. I was already familiar with the iOS version of ArtRage on my iPad, so after playing with the trial version in short order I ended up buying the full version.

ArtRage Touch has a very similar interface across all versions. There are full desktop versions of ArtRage for both Windows and Mac, as well as iOS and Android versions.

ArtRage Touch for Windows is similar to the iOS version, but perhaps somewhat abandoned. The most notable shortcoming is with the lack of much ability to save creations. While it is possible to save creations to the standard ArtRage PTG file format, there are apparently zero non-ArtRage applications that can open these files. If you do a direct share to Facebook, ArtRage Touch simply shares a screen capture including the ArtRage interface. I found an acceptable work-around by “printing” the file I want to a PDF format file, making sure that I have the paper size adjusted to landscape and to “print” the entire image to a single page. Then, I open the just-exported PDF file in Adobe Photoshop Elements and export the image as a standard JPG file. This lack of the ability to export directly to JPG is a major shortcoming, so would-be buyers beware.

The ArtRage website itself doesn’t even list ArtRage Touch as a version for sale, though they still sell ArtRage Touch in the Windows App Store.

If I ever were to become a more serious artist, I would consider buying the full version of ArtRage 4 for desktop machines, which sells on their website for $49.90.

Setting aside the problem of how to share creations with ArtRage Touch, it is a lot of fun to play with digital draw and paint tools. Digital versions of various paints, airbrush tools, pencils and papers can create extremely realistic effects with no wasted paper or messy, expensive paint supplies to futz around with.

On larger touch screens, “digital gloves” are available that allow the side of the drawing hand to be rested directly on the screen without interacting, though obviously many other types of open-finger gloves or even a piece of cloth would likely have the same effect of preventing capacitive contact with skin. The Surface Pro 3 has excellent palm rejection with native apps such as OneNote and others, but even so the appropriate digital gloves would seem to be a no-fuss solution with larger-screen devices. It is very tiring to try to hold and use a stylus on a large touchscreen device without anything to rest the side of your hand against.

Every version of ArtRage includes the ability to pre-load another image, typically a photograph, that allows a “trace” layer(s) to be placed on top. Thus, it is possible to accurately trace out the lines of an image and then paint it afterwards, which can result in some interesting, and sometimes hilarious images.

There are also many serious video producers on YouTube that lay out extremely good “learn to draw” lessons that can teach you how to draw if you follow along.

Once purchased, ArtRage Touch can be installed on up to 10 Windows devices.


Neko Atsume is Now in English



Neko Atsume gameNeko Atsume: Kitty Collector is an adorable game where players collect cats. The incredibly cute artwork caught my attention right away. A recent update allows players to toggle between Japanese and English in the game.

The adorable artwork was what first attracted me to this game. All of the text in the game was written in Japanese, and this left me guessing about how to navigate through the menus and what the different items were called. Although most of the game is fairly intuitive, there were times when I needed to search online for an explanation about things.

Neko Atsume in English

The recent update of Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector allows players who use iOS devices to toggle between Japanese and English. Suddenly, I could read the names of the gifts that some of the cats have given me. I discovered that some of the mats were actually heating pads. Some of the item descriptions are amusing. At this time, the update that enabled English is only available on iOS.

This cute collector game is extremely simple to play. Fill the food dish and put some toys, beds, or other items into the space. Random cats will come and visit (until the food runs out). Check in periodically and you might find a cat taking a nap or playing with a toy that you left out for them. If the food runs out, you won’t get any more cats until you fill the dish again. Unlike other pet related games, the cats don’t die if the food runs out. (They just stop visiting you for a while).

The overall goal seems to be encourage all of the different cats to visit. There is an album that shows players information about the different cats that have appeared, and the kinds of things they like to play with. Some cats will decide to become your friend and bring you a special gift.

Cats that visit will “pay” you in fish. Those that were especially happy will “pay” you with golden sardines. These are the two currencies in the game. Eventually, you will collect enough to buy more stuff for your cats to use. This game is appropriate for kids to play, and they can use the in-game currency to shop in the store for more stuff. Parents should be aware that the purchase of additional golden sardines costs real-world money.


Apple has Approved the Hinder App



Hinder appHinder is an app that was created by Lizz Winstead. As you might know, she is a co-creator of the Daily Show. She’s also a writer, producer, comic, and part of Lady Parts Justice, which is a group of comedians who use comedy and satire to bring attention to legislation regarding women’s access to birth control and abortion.

The Hinder app could be described as a form of political satire. It functions similarly to Tinder, but instead of showing you people whom you might want to date, it shows you politicians. You can see a photo of the politician and a quote that he or she actually said about women, women’s health care, and issues relating to equality.

In addition to a photo and a quote, Hinder gives you more information about the politician who is on the screen. If you think that politician is a horrible person, and you want to warn your friends about him or her, you can. Swipe left, and Hinder will let you share that information with your friends on Facebook or Twitter.

What if you happen to agree with the politician’s viewpoints (and/or actions), and want to share that with your friends? Swipe right, and you can share that information with your friends after you make a donation to Lady Parts Justice.

Like Tinder, Hinder can show you politicians who are “in your area”. Pick the state that you live in, and you can see politicians, (and judges) from that state.

Hinder is an iOS app. Earlier today, Huffington Post reported that Apple had blocked Hinder from the iTunes store. Apple felt that the content violated Rule 14 of its app review guidelines, which bans apps that are “defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited, or likely to place the targeted individual or group in harms way.” This rule is lifted for “professional political satirists and humorists”.

Clearly, Lizz Winstead fits that description. There was a social media push to convince Apple to reconsider. Within nine hours, Apple chose to approve Hinder. You can get the app from iTunes or the Lady Parts Justice website.


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.