Posts Tagged

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It is blatantly apparent that journalism is no longer an exclusive vocation. Anyone can become a respected expert simply by publishing a successful blog, and on-the-ground news gathering is now open to any individual equipped with a smartphone. Even traditional professional media outlets are now moving with the times and embracing the phone; the Chicago Sun-Times recently replaced its entire photography department by making iPhones standard issue among its reporters.

There is a difference, however, between the simplistic recording of current events, and great journalism. Truly to captivate a reader, listener, or viewer, a journalist must tell a story and provide a coherent narrative. In most cases, the ability to do this is not a talent, but rather, a learned skill. How much better, then, would Average Joe’s news gathering be if he were to learn this skill? Significantly so, in all likelihood.

That is the idea behind Storymaker, a new Android offering which aims to educate everyone in the art of capturing and presenting the stories around them. This beta app provides a library of tutorials, and pre-built cookie cutter stories to build your report around. The concept is an interesting one, but can an app really turn us all into high class correspondents? Let’s find out…

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There’s no shortage of camera apps on Android, with multiple options covering almost every niche imaginable. But sometimes one breaks through the noise with impressive filters or awesome features to wow you.

Pencil Camera HD is one such app. Similar to the popular Paper Camera, it applies sketch-like, painting-style, or texture-overlay filters to your photos and videos, to sometimes-incredible results. Let’s take a look.

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Originally an iOS app, Snapseed garnered quite a following for its powerful photo editing capabilities and also won a few “App of the Year” awards from Apple. In September 2012, Google bought Nik Software, the developer company behind the app and a mere three months later, we have an Android version of the app available to us for free. On a side note, Google also made the iOS version of the app free along with the Android release.

But before I delve into this review, let me get one obvious explanation out of the way – Snapseed is not an Instagram competitor from Google. Instagram, if you didn’t know, is a photo sharing app that lets you apply color effects to your photos and share them directly from your mobile devices. It thrives on its social sharing and community feature, while Snapseed does not have any social features of its own. It is also a more extensive photo editing app than a way to apply readymade filters to your photos.

So with that out of the way, let’s dig into what this latest offering from Google that everyone is talking about really is.

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There are countless ways in which you can stay in touch with your partner – SMS, email, Facebook and phone calls – but all of these have their limitations. Text messages are limited to text, social networks are too public and phone calls are not always practical.

Avocado provides couples with a means of staying connected, creating what is essentially a private network that can be used to send messages, photos and share lists. This is a simple but surprisingly versatile app and we take a look to put it through its paces.

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This past week has been an odd one for me: a mixed bag of family time, alone time and some traveling. And as happens every time I’m by myself, I ended up spending a good deal of the alone time checking out new apps from the Play Store. Here’s a quick roundup of the ones that stood out for me and will most probably stay on my phone for a while to come.

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When was the last time you saw a new mobile phone without a camera? Tough one, isn’t it? From a mere gimmick just a few years ago, to a necessarily underpowered addon, to a full-fledged feature, cameras on mobile phones have come a long way. While the iPhone has graduated to become the most used camera amongst Flickr users, every new Android phone that comes out boasts of some new camera technology unique to itself.

Unfortunately, camera apps haven’t really kept in sync with the advances in mobile phone camera technology over the years. So although your phone may be technically capable of a lot of things, the app you use to shoot your photos is most probably showcasing only a fraction of its abilities. And even if it can take advantage of everything available to it, it hides all that control deep within its settings in an attempt to keep the user interface clean and simple to use.

Except for Shot Control, that is.

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Viewing images on Android has historically been an exercise in frustration. I remember being wowed by the 3D scrolling gallery in my first Android 2.3 phone for a long 10 seconds. Took me a day to get fed up and install QuickPic, among other alternatives, just to be able to view my photos without having to take coffee breaks between swipes.

There haven’t been a lot of contenders for the crown of the best gallery app on Android, and Scalado – best known for their “Remove” and “Rewind” technologies for improving your photos post-shoot – have recently entered the arena to take a shot at it (yup, pun intended). Like QuickPic, Scalado Album aims to make the process of browsing and viewing your photos as painless and effective as possible. Here’s a look at how well it does.

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With the cameras on mobile phones getting better by the hour, smartphone users on all mobile OS platforms are spoilt for choice when it comes to photo editing apps. But if you have tried a few, you probably already know that not all of them are worth the precious space on your phone. Even Adobe Photoshop – the king of the hill in the desktop image editing arena and something I was excited to no end to see on Android – has been quite a disappointment as far as editing prowess and flexibility goes.

So when Aviary, Adobe’s counterpart as far as web apps go, decided to come out with an Android version of their photo editor, I knew better than to hike up my expectations.

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We’ve reached a point in the evolution of computing technology where one can’t deny the impact of mobile devices – phones, tablets and everything else to come – in our personal and work lives. For designers, this domain is typically governed by Apple products, be it the Mac desktops and laptops, or the range of iOS devices like iPhones, iPads or even iPod Touches. With the huge surge in adoption of the Android platform though, a lot of designers have also come onboard and are probably wondering how they can use these devices in their work context.

Being a designer myself, I went through that struggle and scoured the Android market to find all the tools I could use and benefit from. And this roundup is a culmination of that search. Let’s take a look then, shall we? (more…)

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