Think Outside the Emoji Box

I've written before about how the Emoji keyboard comes standard and FREE with any iDevice. You should never buy an Emoji app. They are unnecessary because you can enable the keyboard by adding it as a language in the Settings app.

Just go to General, Keyboards, Keyboards, and Add New Keyboard. Then, choose Emoji as the language. Then, you are able to access your Emoji keyboard by pressing the world button next to the space bar on your keyboard.

Emoji labels

I use Emoji to name my folders.

But, this post is about how you can use Emoji in rather unstandard ways. Emoji can be used far more than most people use them.

Instead of just using them to send in texts and emails, I also use them as labels for my folders instead of using words. This helps me to be able to know what is in a folder visually instead of labeling them with words.

For instance, weather is indicated with the umbrella Emoji.

I do the same thing on my iPhone. I even use the same Emoji to represent the same types of apps on each device so that I can quickly find what I am looking for. I know. It's a little anal retentive.

Emoji decoration

I also use them to liven up my Listary app. I love Listary, but it looks a bit plain, and when you have a lot of lists, like I do, they all tend to run together.

So, to make the lists distinguishable from each other, I give them each an Emoji to label them. I also use Emoji to separate the types of lists I use. I use patterns mostly. Repeating the same Emoji over and over to make a line is a good way to make a pattern.

They can even be used to make art in this way.

For instance, I use the air blowing and stars repetitively to separate my Daily lists from my Eventually lists. And, I use many Emoji that represent to me the things I write about for my blog to separate Eventually lists from lists concerning my blog (pictured).

Once I decorated Listary, I fell in love with the app once again. It just helps me to immediately locate what I am looking for and makes the whole app prettier.

So, when you're thinking about using Emoji, don't limit yourself to using them to describe how you're feeling in a text. Emoji can be used in so many different ways.

And, for god's sake, don't buy an Emoji keyboard app!

That's it for me today. Until later, …

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Roundup: Let’s Take a Look at the Stylus

Styluses?

My stylus collection under review.

I'm taking a break from app reviews today to take a closer look at something that can help you use some of your apps. The stylus. I know I've been taking a lot of breaks in general lately, but it's been doctor's orders and I do apologize. That aside, let's get started looking at the best stylus to use for each situation.

Using a stylus is really personal preference. It also depends on what you are doing. Sometimes using a stylus is great for just flicking around pages and scrolling on the Internet. Sometimes using a stylus is the best option for writing handwritten notes in certain apps. And, sometimes using a stylus can help you create beautiful art.

This was supposed to be a top 5 stylus roundup, as you can see in the picture above. However, the Acar stylus does not appear to be for sale anywhere right now. These things do come and go, and apparently the Acar went.

So, here is my roundup of 4 of my favorite stylus'.

Maglus stylus

The Maglus comes with a lot of accessories.

The Maglus just came in the mail today, but it is becoming a fast friend. It is The Verge's top pick of all stylus' in their updated roundup.

The Maglus has a very unique shape which could make it difficult for some people to hold. But, if you hold a pen in the “normal” way, The Verge says you will be able to use the Maglus with no problem. I don't hold a pen in the “normal” way, and I still have no problem using the flat-sided Maglus.

The Maglus comes in a tube wrapped in a microfiber cloth that you can use to clean your iPad's screen. It also comes with 1 replacement tip in a handy metal keychain container that is easy to keep around for when it is needed.

Maglus stylus on my iPad

Two of the flat sides have rubber on them, making it easy to grip the Maglus. Hidden inside the rubber sides are strong magnets that allow you to place your Maglus stylus on your iPad's frame (front, back, on top of a smartcover, wherever) and it sticks like glue, as you can see in the picture above. Careful where you store the Maglus, though. The magnets could wipe your credit cards or screw up other things, like hard drives.

The reason The Verge picked the Maglus as top all-around best stylus is for its ultra sensitive and accurate rubber tip. It is very precise, making it great for writing, but not so great for art.

Buying the Maglus is a little difficult. It is not available through Amazon. The Maglus developers, Applydea, do have a website and store where you can purchase the Maglus stylus. You can use PayPal to purchase the stylus through their store or use a credit card. The price is in Euros, but it equals out to about $30 with delivery.

The Maglus is a solid and practical stylus. It feels well made and well worth the price.

Bamboo Solo

The Bamboo Solo is now available in many colors.

My next favorite stylus is the Bamboo Solo. This was The Verge's top pick last year in their roundup and it still holds up as one of their favorites.

I bought the Bamboo when it first arrived on the scene and was only available in black. It now comes in many colors and their are other styles of the Bamboo as well.

At just under $30, the Bamboo Solo, made by Wacom, is another pricey stylus, but it is well worth it. It has one of the smallest tips on available and the tip is replaceable. I just bought 4 replacement tips on Amazon for $1 a piece. The Bamboo Solo itself is also available to buy through Amazon.com. The link takes you to the black Bamboo Solo. To find other colors, just search Amazon for “Bamboo stylus.”

Wow, in adding that link to Amazon, I just saw that it is on sale through Amazon for only $17. What a deal!

The small, accurate tip is the killer feature on the Bamboo Solo. I like that everything is removeable. You can even take off the clip at the top. And, it feels substantial in your hand. The tip is mushier than the Maglus, which makes it better for painting and other artistic endeavors.

Kuel H10

This tiny stylus is great for surfing pages.

My next favorite stylus has to be the Kuel H10. It has gone through some changes since I first started buying this series. The first Kuel was slick sided and just different. The current Kuel H10 is the same size as the original, but the sides are made of something rougher that makes it easier to grip this little stylus.

The Kuel H10 has a lot of amazing features. It has the absolute smallest tip available on any stylus. It also has a top that you can use to cover up the tip when you're not using it, making it easy to throw in a pocket or a purse and not worry about ruining the tip. The top does have a loop on it that you can use to tie it to something as well. I looped it through my old Saddleback leather case, which kept it handy at all times.

The last new and pretty cool feature on the Kuel H10 is that the end of it is retractable, making it longer than it used to be if you want to hold it like a regular pen.

The Kuel H10 is available through Amazon.com for about $13, making it a great buy. The link takes you to the black Kuel H10, but it is available in many other colors.

The Kuel H10 is small, but it has an amazingly accurate and precise tip. It is also cheaper than all of the other stylus' in this roundup, but it feels solid and well made.

TruGlide stylus

The TruGlide has a really unique tip.

The last stylus I will recommend today is the TruGlide. The TruGlide sets itself apart from the pack with its very unique tip. It looks liked metal, but it is really a soft microfiber.

The microfiber tip lets you really glide across the screen with absolutely no resistance and no halting or catching that some rubber tips can cause. This makes the TruGlide perfect for surfing through pages and the Internet and also for playing games.

The TruGlide is smaller, a little longer than the Kuel H10, and has no retractable parts to make it longer. But, I have absolutely no problem holding it in my hand (albeit, I have very small hands). It also has an attachment at the end that lets you plug it into the headphone jack so that you can easily keep track of it.

How to hold short stylus'

As a tip for holding these smaller stylus', I hold them inside my hand rather than holding them like a pen. I don't know if this will work for you, but I thought I would let you know so you can try it out.

The smaller stylus' are also great if you want to use a stylus on your iPhone. The smaller tips make them a solid alternative. If you have gloves on in the winter, a stylus can really come in handy.

The TruGlide stylus is available for purchase through Amazon.com for about $16, making another great buy. This link takes you to the brushed metal TruGlide, but it is available in other colors if you search.

I haven't had the TruGlide for long, but I love the soft tip and the way that it truly glides across the screen with no resistance and no effort.

That's it for me today. Until later, …

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Big Fish Holds “Spooky” Sale Until Sunday

I reported around midnight that Big Fish Games had reduced the price of almost all iPad games to $2.99 and almost all iPhone games to 99 cents. Well, I just got an email from Big Fish, finally, and they're calling it their Spooky Sale, and it will be going on until Sunday. There are about 100 games total on sale right now.

To find some good games to download, check out the links below:

Not on this list, because I hadn't gotten around to reviewing them yet, are Otherworld: Spring of Shadows Collector's Edition (HD version for iPad) and Mystery Trackers: Black Isle Collector's Edition HD. They are both definitely worth a download. I will review them both very soon!

Happy Big Fish Hunting! Go spend some money!

That's it for me today. Until later, …

Big Fish Games Holds Flash Sale

It looks to me like Big Fish Games is holding some kind of Flash sale. All iPad games appear to be $2.99 and most iPhone games appear to be 99 cents. Not sure the reason for the sale and will bring you more information as I get it! Happy Buying!

P.S. The Room is currently on sale for $1.99, as well. Read my review here.

Roundup Review: Oct. 23 Apple iPad Announcements

Apple announcement

This is what Apple said before the October 23 announcement.

I apologize for my absence yesterday. One understanding reader who commented pegged it. Life, sometimes it gets in the way.

I'm going to briefly go over what Apple announced yesterday. For the sake of brevity, I will be sticking to the iPad announcements and not the Mac announcements.

Everyone expected before the event that the new iPad mini would be unveiled, and a few other things, like the Mac updates, were also not a surprise. Apple teased us that they had “a little more to show,” as seen in the ad above. Boy, did they!

The iPad mini

The iPad mini was no surprise.

The iPad mini was revealed, as expected. The 7.9-inch screen will have a 1,024 x 768 display, an A5 CPU, and optional LTE starting at $329. The price didn't please many commenters in threads I read yesterday. Many consider it too high for a non-Retina display. The A5 CPU is what would upset me more.

The mini will be available in mid-November and Sprint has been added as a carrier for LTE service. Pre-orders begin October 26.

The bigger news to me was the “refreshing” of the 6-month-old 3rd generation iPad. Apple is calling it a 4th generation iPad (iPad 4). It will have the new Lightening connector seen on the iPhone 5, a new A6X CPU, and FaceTime HD camera. The new chip will provide for much faster wifi and running of apps.

What is funny to me is that you will still be able to buy an iPad 2 in stores, but the 3rd generation iPad will be like it never existed. They will not be available new in traditional stores. What is not so funny to me (because I own a 3rd gen) is that the quad-core graphics card and A6X chip will provide double the performance of what I currently have. But, what can you do?

If you bought a 3rd generation iPad in the past 30 days, Apple is offering a trade-in for the new 4th generation iPad. You better hurry though. You only have 30 days to act.

The 4th generation iPad will be priced the same as the 3rd generation and will be available November 2.

That's it for me today. Until later, …

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Psychology Behind Being Social

I'm kind of taking it easy tonight (if you count doing schoolwork easy), because tomorrow, I will be live blogging the Apple announcement, which is expected to be the unveiling of the iPad mini. The announcement begins at noon central time (10 am pacific time). I may start a little early since I have not said much about the rumors floating about.

I'll start a page and just keep updating you with bullet points about what is being said, right here at iosaffairs.com.

But, to give you a little entertainment tonight, I found this very interesting infographic on Tumblr about the psychology behind using social networking. While you're at it, be sure to “like” the new iOS Affairs Facebook page, which will keep you informed on little announcements (like this one) that don't make it into a full blog.

Psychology of Social Networking

Pulled from Tumblr

Jixi Pix Releases Another Winner: Portrait Painter

I may have mentioned in the past what a fan I am of Jixi Pix. Well, this week they released another in their line of absolutely fabulous apps. It’s called Portrait Painter (HD version for iPad; iPhone version; $3.99 for each version), and it rocks!

All of Jixi’s apps make photos into amazing works of art. But, some of the apps don’t play as well with photos of people. Portrait Painter is made to work well with all photos of people.

Portrait Painter HD

Portrait Painter makes people pictures pop.

There are 2 main categories in Portrait Painter: Portrait Paint (classic-style brushes in original colors) and Bright & Colorful (modern-style brushes with new palettes). You can either get a photo from your Photo Library or take a new picture and crop it to your liking to get started.

The photo above is in Portrait Paint style. It uses classic brush styling and uses the natural color palette that is already in your photo. To compare the original photo with your new painting, just hit the button that says “Original” in the upper, right corner. But, of course, this is Jixi Pix. If you’re unhappy with any aspect of the painting, it can be altered in the adjustment settings.

Portrait Painter HD

Adjustments are a breeze in Portrait Painter.

For the Portrait Paint Style, the brush style, vibrancy, color enhancement, stroke length, smoothness of the skin, and bristle strength are all on sliders allowing for full control over each and every aspect. Even adjusting the sliders just a bit can make a huge difference in the way the painting looks.

You can also choose the canvas style. Choose between a traditional canvas look and linen. That, too, is on a slider to adjust the strength of how much the chosen canvas shows through.

Portrait Painter HD

Bright & Colorful settings replace the natural palette with new colors.

For me, the fun reallly begins when you move into the Bright & Colorful side of things. There are 14 presets in Bright & Colorful, just like on the Portrait Paint side. Each preset gives you a unique and wonderful palette to compliment your photo. This is really where you get to play, though. You can use the presets, which have predefined settings and a set palette.

Portrait Painter HD

Adjusting in Bright & Colorful is loads of fun!

Or, you can make adjustments. I think I’ve established which I prefer to do. All of the same adjustments that are available on the Portrait Paint side are available in Bright & Colorful, too. But, there is also the palette that you can adjust.

There are 6 colors in each palette and you can replace each and every one of them by clicking on them and choosing a new color from a color grid. Or, you can just hit “Randomize Colors” to get an entirely new palette. Don’t be afraid to use the same exact color in more than 1 spot. Play around. Have fun.

Portrait Painter HD

Loads of ways to share your final work of art.

The rest of the settings should look familiar to any Jixi Pix user. Just click “Share” to find get to all the settings, and to email, Tweet, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, print, or just save your photo. You can also find more information about Jixi Pix here, sign up for their newsletter, follow them on Facebook, and see information on other apps by Jixi.

Let me not forget to mention that the famous randomize dice appear in the upper, right side of the screen. If you’re feeling a bit lazy and experimental, just keep clicking the dice until your find a style that you like. The randomize dice randomize all the adjustment settings.

That’s it for me today. Until later, …

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Keep it Clean

This is a good reminder as we enter the cold and flu season. I personally use a microfiber cloth for cleaning glasses to clean my devices, and the spray for glasses is pretty good too I think. It's kind of gross to think your device has more germs than a toliet seat though!

Tech Germs

3rd Drawn Game Released by Big Fish Games

Drawn 3

This prequel to the Drawn series looks to be a winner.

I haven’t really begun to play this game yet, but I thought all you Big Fish fans would want to know that another sequel to the Drawn series has arrived in the App Store.

Drawn: Trail of Shadows Collector’s Edition HD is only available for the iPad. The story is set as a prequel to Drawn – The Painted Tower HD and Drawn: Dark Flight HD, which have both been temporarily put on sale for $1.99 for the full game.

I’ll be sure to let you know how it plays in a review. Knowing how good the first 2 games were, I have no doubt that Drawn: Trail of Shadows will be equally as good.

As an aside, Big Fish Games has introduced special introductory pricing on new releases. I was able to get the Shattered Minds sequel for only $3.99 and games that are usually $6.99 are usually reduced to $4.99. It depends on the game, but they are definitely rewarding customers who buy early. Their competitor, G5 Entertainment, has been doing this for some time. So, I applaud Big Fish’s move to do the same thing.

That’s it for me today. Until later, …