Happy New Year From iOS Affairs: Here’s What’s Coming in 2014

Hello iOS Affairs readers! I actually thought there would be no one left reading the blog after all the time I was away recovering, but I recently started looking at the blog visitor numbers again, and I was very wrong. In fact, on an average day, iOS Affairs still gets 200-300 visitors! I'm absolutely amazed!

You can check out the end-of-the-year stats in a fun WordPress-created report (put together by stat monkeys!) & you'll see that about 95,000 people read iOS Affairs in 2013!

But, this post isn't about last year. It's not a review, it's not another apology for being away so long (although I did miss you all), & it's not another false start at returning the blog to an active status (barring some huge catastrophe like flying monkeys taking over the world, of course).

What this post IS about is what's coming up in 2014.

New, Newish, & Just a New Look for 2014

  • An overflowing list of cool reviews of new apps & some very cool apps you may have missed last year while I was away (Did everyone see Frax HD? How about Poshlight or Springle or …? Okay, I'm going to force myself to stop now!)
  • Some new blog features & special types of posts (still being finalized, so you'll have to wait for more on this).
  • More posts featuring how-to's, apps for specific people/professions/hobbies/etc., analytic/news posts to help you make decisions when buying new toys, apps, & accessories, pro/con posts on using new iOS 7 features or buying new devices, & the list goes on & on.
  • A look back at past posts including much-needed updates to key posts for apps like Instagram & Camera+ by Tap Tap Tap, just to name 2.
  • Posts with insight from the people who make all these apps possible – the developers. I want to talk to some of the great developers I've been able to get to know while writing iOS Affairs & I want to share some of their valuable advice, knowledge, & tips with you.
  • Reviews of some new products like fiftythree's fabulous new Pencil stylus that goes perfectly with their Paper iPad app, but can be used anywhere you usually use a stylus. Other products include the iPad Air; I know it's a little late, but it'll have my personal how-to's & tips that you won't find anywhere else. And, we'll see what else comes out this year. As a unrestrained early adopter, you can bet I'll have whatever it is as soon as possible.
  • And of course, new roundups of Big Fish Games! They've put out some incredible games for iOS in the past year & I will tell you which ones are worth playing & which ones you should skip. My pie in the sky plan is to eventually provide you with a list of every single Big Fish Game available for iOS with mini-reviews & links. That will take a bit of time, though.

All of this & much, much more will be coming to you very soon. I have a few ducks I need to make stay in a row before I can start writing again on a daily basis (those crazy ducks simply won't stay where I put them!).

My Word (I Pinky Swear)

I promise (within reason) that this is not another false start. I've wanted to start writing again for some time, but I didn't want to keep coming back, realizing I'm still too sick, rinse & repeat. So, I waited. I waited & waited & waited (I HATE waiting) until I felt healthy enough on a daily basis for a long enough time that I could be sure that I am up to the job of consistently bringing you important readers the news & reviews you're looking for.

What I Learned While Away

While I was waiting, I was too sick to do much. But, being sick couldn't keep me from my iDevices. Most of the time, it was all I was capable of doing. The upside is that I have SO much to tell you!

I started making a list of projects I did over the past 7 months, research I did in the App Store, little known apps I managed to find in dark, hidden corners, cool ways to save & actually make money using your iOS device, amazing gifts to give no matter what your price range, new social media groups/apps that have popped up (especially with a focus on photography), etc., etc., etc.

I read articles & magazines that gave me insight & ideas that I want to share with you, played with more apps than you can conceive of (I passed the 7,000 mark for apps I own!), found better ways to do many everyday chores using my iOS devices, & truly became an iDevice-only user when the only computer I had access to decided to die.

I have so much to say, so much to share, so much I want to show you, but I'm going to say goodnight now before this gets too long even by my standards. I'll leave you with some highlights from the list of more than 100 items I made of experiences I've had in the past 7 months in the iOS arena that led to ideas for posts.

I'm sure some of these will change a bit, some will combine with others, & some just won't work out like I planned, but this will give you an idea of what you have to look forward to.

Overly Long List of Upcoming Post Ideas

  • Doing Christmas iOS Style & Giving Gifts Digitally
  • How to Set Up Multiple Devices Within Families So Everyone Has Their Own iCloud Account, But Apps Are Shared
  • Is the 128GB iPad Worth It? Can iOS Handle That Much Data?
  • Explaining the App World to Complete Novices
  • Setting Up a Private Social Media Circle for Families/Groups of Friends: Which Apps Work Best?
  • Making Apps: Even Kids Can Do It With Newer Teaching Apps Available
  • Problem With an App You Just Bought? The Best Way to Resove It Isn't a Complaint in the App Store, It's Talking to the Developer: Here's How
  • How Do I Own 7,000 Apps? I'm Far From Rich, but I Know Where & When to Look for Paid App Sales
  • Banking on iOS: Is it Safe?
  • Are Game Reviews Rigged? Here's What I Learned
  • Justifying the Price of More Expensive Apps
  • Why AppleCare+ is an Absolute Must & the ABC's of AppleCare
  • New Arrivals on the Hidden Object Game Scene
  • How to Live Without a Computer
  • Social Apps for Photographers
  • Could iOS Gaming Ever Replace Consoles?
  • Why So Many Developers Choose to Make Apps for iOS First or Only Make Apps for iOS (It's Not About Money Really)
  • I Crossed the 2,000 Apps on 1 Device Mark & My iPhone Got Very Angry
  • Everything You Need to Know to Use Shared Photostreams
  • Why Your Mobile Phone Company is NOT the Place to Go for Device Problems
  • 2-Step Verification is Becoming Quite Popular: How it Works & When You Should Use It
  • Angry Your Favorite App Was Replaced With a Newer Version Instead of an Update After iOS 7? Here's Why It Happened
  • iOS 7: “Change for Change's Sake” or “Change or Perish”?
  • Why the Original iPad is Becoming Obsolete & Why I Think That Will Happen Faster for the iPad 2
  • How to Tell if an App is Abandoned & Why/When You Should Avoid Abandoned Apps
  • Is Apple Really That Expensive or Is It Just an Image?
  • How to Get the Do Not Disturb Feature to Really Not Disturb You (But Still Let the People You Want Get Through)
  • Has the iPad Finally Lost It's Entertainment Device Only Image?
  • Where to Find Cell Usage Data in iOS 7 & Other Apps You Can Stop Buying Because Your iOS Does That Now (plus, How to Save Data by Shutting Off Specific Apps)
  • The New Generation of Bluetooth Stylus'
  • The Best non-Safari Ways to Search the Internet
  • What Is That List of Apps at the Bottom of the Settings App For?
  • How Augmented Reality Is Going to Change What You See
  • iBook Alternatives: They Keep Making More!
  • Learning to Read Faster Using Cool New Apps
  • What's So Different About iOS 7 Wallpaper? (plus, a list of new key words & their definitions)
  • Best Dictionary/Thesaurus Apps & Why They Need to Do More Than Give Word Definitions Anymore (plus, a how-to on setting up the integrated iOS dictionary, in case you don't know it exists)
  • Everything I Learned During the iOS 7 Update Process (Possible Fix for Hung Up Update!) & You Won't Believe How Much Faster Restoring 64GB Via the iPad Air Is!
  • Train Your Brain, Improve Your Memory & Focus Using the Best Puzzle Apps & Other Assorted Helper Apps
  • Mood-Measuring & Tracking Apps; I've Tried Almost All of Them – Here Are the Best of Them
  • I Made My 1st Kickstarter Purchase: How It Works & Is It Worth It?
  • Device Peripherals: I Finally Found a Decent 3rd-Party Lightning Cord. Plus, Cases, External Battery Sources, Camera Adapters (and Why They Aren't Needed), Other Cords, etc.
  • Is a Quad-core Device Really Better?
  • Biggest Innovations of 2013 & What May Be Coming Next
  • Does Anyone Actually Know What's “Best” for Batteries? Truth, Fiction, & Who Knows
  • Paid vs Free: Does It Change How We Behave? A Look at the Paid, Free, Freemium Choices Developers Make
  • When Reading Reviews Is Worth It, When It's Not, & How to Know the Difference (plus, How to Be a Discerning Reader)

Well, I guess I decided to give you a little more than a peek! You know me though – I'm wordy & always write too long. That's what you like about me though, right?

Tell Me Your Ideas & What You Think of My Ideas, Please!

Let me know what you think of the list & other plans I have for iOS Affairs. Tell me what you want to see 1st or what you're not interested in seeing at all. Send me an email with any other ideas you might want to see instead or in addition.

I'm so glad to be back & to be able to write to all of you. It's been far too long!

Who, What, When, Tumblr?

I don't have an exact date for when iOS Affairs will return officially. It will be within the month. When I know the date, I will send a Tweet (follow @iosaffairs on Twitter) & put it on Facebook (like IOS Affairs Facebook Page). I'm looking into how to to short notes using the current design of this blog. Hopefully I'll find a way to place a note on the website, as well.

Did you know there is a Tumblr Edition of iOS Affairs? It is mostly the same posts you read here on the WordPress website, but I often publish extras on the Tumblr edition (things that won't fit or will be too long, extra infographics that may be off-topic, Instagram photos from the iOS Affairs Instagram account, & other tidbits & fun things).

I haven't said this for such a long time, but:

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

 

iOS eCookbook App ‘Mind Watering’ Will Have Your Mouth Watering

mind watering

I’m not the 1 who does the cooking in my family. I used to cook, though, & can fully appreciate how easy the iPad app Mind Watering makes it look, with step-by-step instructions, to create amazing meals that can easily be classified as food porn due to the presentation of the dishes alone. 

Tip: Mind Watering, which usually costs $4.99, is on sale for FREE until Wednesday. If you want to check out this inimitable app, grab it in the App Store NOW! It’s a big app with lots to download, but totally worth it for what it can give you or even just to browse.

mind watering

The stunning photos of each creation in Mind Watering, combined with the choice of dishes featured, make the Mind Watering eCookbook app food porn all on its own. Mind Watering is an outstanding eCookbook app with some absolutely amazing dishes to choose from that will have you drooling before you can say Vanilla Lavendar Creme Brûle (featured in the photo above from Mind Watering).  

However, Mind Watering is more than just a basic eCookbook. It includes visuals with absolutely everything, innovative ways to show you how to complete just 1 step in their step-by-step instructions, subtle video that shows you how some of the food looks as it is being prepared or as it cooks, & it is fully gesture-driven. 

Tip: Make sure to check out all of the photos I couldn’t fit into this review. They will be displayed in a gallery at the end of this post in all their beauty. 

Let’s dive right in & take a look at what makes Mind Watering 1 of the best examples of an eCookbook app available for iOS. 

mind watering

Upon opening the app, you are presented with a cover that says Look & Cook, which is a phrase that holds real meaning in Mind Watering. If you swipe to the right, you can read about the 2 chefs who are the minds behind Mind Watering. 

Swipe to the left from the cover when you’re ready to begin & you’ll be greeted with a black screen with red writing that introduces the 1st chapter or collection of recipes: Everyday. These are recipes that were chosen for people who need to make a quick dinner that is also unique & delicious. You can see some of the recipes from that chapter along the bottom of the photo above. 

Tip: The left/right scrolling bar (in the photo above) at the bottom of the black screen won’t be there automatically. Just pull up from the bottom of the screen to access this feature that acts both as a table of contents & a speedy navigator through the whole book. 

mind watering

Just like the recipes in the rest of the book, the recipes chosen for Everyday are not the same one’s that you’d find in your average cookbook. Especially a cookbook on quick dinners. Nothing is made in a crockpot & everything is extraordinary, in the true sense of that word (strange & wonderful). 

On the black page, you can tap the centered + button to see an overview of all the recipes in the Everyday collection (photo above). The red title-text of the recipe is also a link to jump right to that recipe. When you choose another chapter, using the scrollable bar I mentioned above the photo in the “tip,” you can also press the + button for an overview of that collection of recipes. 

Before you stop reading & decide that this app is filled with strange things you’d never eat, I ask you to give the app a try. Sure, I’m a foodie & I’ll try just about any food. The more different, the better. If you’re not a foodie, though, I guarantee that you will still get something out of Mind Watering. 

Even if you can’t find 1 recipe you’d like to try (which I find hard to believe), Mind Watering is filled with tips for cooking, step-by-step directions on how to do everything (some steps have steps), & it is simply beautiful. That alone should be enough for a download. Beautiful food, even if we won’t cook it ourselves, can inspire us to stretch our food boundaries the way beautiful art inspires our lives. So, read on.

mind watering

Using the scrollable bar I told you about (in the last “tip,” before I started ranting about giving things a try), just swipe your way through the whole listing of what’s included (50+ recipes) or select a chapter by tapping a word above to jump right to that section in the scroll-bar. Find something you want to take a look at? Tap it & an image will pop up before your very eyes. 

What you will see is a full-screen presentation of the finished & divine-looking recipe (even more divine on a Retina screen iPad). 

Not what you’re looking for? You can either open the bottom scroller up again, or you can just start swiping right & left to flip through the book of title images that are just like the 1 in the photo above. 

Exactly what you’re looking for? Then, tap the circular Look & Cook button in the lower, right-hand corner to enter the exciting & interactive world of that recipe. 

mind watering

mind watering

The world of each recipe begins with the Look part of Look & Cook. The 1st image you’ll see is a bird’s eye view of a table covered in all the ingredients to make that recipe (photos above). Who knew a collection of ingredients arranged in such ways could be so artful. 

In the bottom, left of the tabletop image is a little box that gives you some useful information about that recipe. It tells you how many people it will serve, how much time it will take to prepare, & how much time it will take to cook. That way you know before you dive in if this recipe is even going to work for you.

Tip: If at any time in either the Look or Cook section of a recipe you’d like to get out of it & look for something else, just tap the Back arrow in the upper, left corner of the screen.

mind watering

mind watering

For some recipes, the tabletop is the only Look image. Other recipes include more images of the finished products (check out the Truffles, seriously). Some recipes pair a glimpse at part of the finished product with cooking tips or a quote (top photo), & others have just a page of text to give you information you need to know before you start cooking. 

You can just keep swiping left through the Look section until you come upon the Cook section or you can tap the word Cook in the top, right corner of the screen. That will take you directly to the 1st page of the Cook section, which starts with the recipe page. 

mind watering

The recipe page (example in photo above) is what you’d expect, although it’s minimalistic use of color & the clean fonts make even this look just perfect. I love how they made the text part of the page resemble the shape an old-fashioned recipe card. They made good use of the framing around the recipe card to give you navigational control & to always remind you of the name of what you’re cooking. 

Tip: Don’t worry overly much about reading the whole recipe. Make sure you have all the ingredients. The rest of the pages in the Cook section will walk you through all of it. 

From the recipe page, you can email the recipe to someone either from the top, left corner, or the bottom, right corner where it is accompanied by social networks Facebook & Twitter for more ways to share what you’re cooking or ogling. 

You can also turn on the voice activation from this page, or any of the Cook pages. Just tap it & from then on, you can turn the pages to go through each step in the recipe just by giving voice commands. You say “Next” to go to the next page & “Back” to go to the previous page. This gives you total hands-free control of the app so you don’t need to worry about getting your iPad dirty while you’re cooking. 

You can alternatively navigate to the rest of the steps in the Cook section either by swiping left or by tapping the number of the step at the very bottom of the card. 

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

However you navigated, here’s what comes next. Each of the numbered steps is on a page of its own with a photo that illustrates what that step looks like. There are 3 other types of illustrative devices used often to better help you understand what you should be doing & what it should look like. 

  • Video photos (top photo): Some photos will have a little video camera in the top, right corner. There’s nothing you have to push to watch. It just means that that photo is on a video loop. It will show you, in the top photo’s example, what your rising bread looks like as it’s baking, so you know just how brown it should be when it’s time to take it out. There are several examples of this throughout the recipes.
  • Grouped photos (middle photo): Photos are sometimes grouped together to further break down a task that you do in 1 step. They are numbered to let you know what you should do 1st, 2nd, etc. Again, this shows you exactly what you should be doing, which is useful with complicated techniques or tasks you have never done before. 
  • Stacked photos (bottom photo): This time there is also more than 1 photo being used to illustrate a broken down task, but with this example, the photos are all as large as the 1 you 1st see. To see the next step illustrated, you must press the next letter on the photo. This is useful when small, grouped photos might be too small, but when a task really needs to be broken done illustratively. 

There may be other examples that I missed because I didn’t look at absolutely every recipe, but these 3 seemed to be the most common tools used. 

mind watering

A note for people who find the text too small to read: If you just tap anywhere on the text in 1 of the steps, you will then see a page like the 1 in the photo above. The picture gets smaller & the text gets bigger making it easier to read. To go back to the bigger picture option, just tap the photo. 

Do you notice the oddly raised look to the time measurement for how long something should bake in the instructions above? I did too. And, you know me. If there’s a button, I will push it. 

mind watering

When you press a number that is an increment of time, a timer pops up (photo above). This handy integrated feature lets you set a timer for the length given in the recipe, start it, & then you can take your iPad with you while you take a well-deserved break. That way, you never have to worry about not hearing the oven timer, because the timer has come with you in the form of your easy to tote iPad. 

I think that concludes our tour of Mind Watering. Hope you enjoyed the ride & are planning to visit on your own. With the feature-set included in this app, you’d be silly not to try it all out on your own. 

Whether you are a foodie like me who will try any of these recipes, or a reluctant trier of new things who could use some inspiration, or just a food porn enjoyer, Mind Watering is an app to meet all of those needs. 

The flawless development of every feature in the app make using Mind Watering a delight to use & never a frustration. The intuitive gesture-based navigation will get you where you want to go in no time & also no frustration. And, the gorgeous, mouth-watering photos on almost every page of Mind Watering is the icing on the torte (cake sounded too mundane after looking at this app). 

If those 3 reasons alone are not enough to get you racing to the App Store to download Mind Watering, I don’t know what else to say. You’ve got me at a loss for words, which you know never happens. 

With that, I end. Oh, but stay tuned after my sign-off for the gallery of photos I couldn’t fit into today’s review. 

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

Mind Watering Gallery

mind watering

Let’s start with the overviews of each collection/chapter. 

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

Now, Just Random Yummy Photos

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

mind watering

Ultimate Guide to Memorial Day Weekend iOS App Sales

I’ve been kind of hibernating for a few days, so I thought it only fair that upon my return I bring you something amazing. I’ve prepared a list of Memorial Day weekend app sales to end all lists. It’s your ultimate guide to all the best apps on sale. Not just games. This list has everything!

What makes this list better than most holiday app lists? I own almost every app on the list & do mini-reviews of each app. This is not just a list of the usual big-ticket games, this list includes apps I guarantee you will not find on most other lists. Even the games I pick are not the usual. Well, check it out & see.

Some of these apps don’t explicitly say that they are on sale for Memorial Day, so don’t get mad at me if they’ve gone up in price again by Monday. I’m just going to show you the best FREE & reduced price apps available today that look like they will be available all weekend. But, I’m not psychic

Games

World Conqueror 2

One of the only FREE games I could find that I could actually recommend is World Conqueror 2 (universal). There are scattered listings of FREE games for this weekend, but to be honest, most games are just reduced price. Most are discounted to 99 cents, which is actually a really good deal when you consider that many of them normally cost anywhere between $5-$10. Don’t be disappointed though! Check out some fabulous FREE apps in non-game categories. 

W.E.L.D.E.R.

W.E.L.D.E.R. (universal): This very popular & highly rated word game was an App Store New & Noteworthy app when it was 1st released. Usually $2.99, W.E.L.D.E.R. takes classic word-building & adds wackiness & fun. You can play solo or against your Game Center friends & random opponents.

99-cent Deals

EA games

All EA Games: As usual for a holiday weekend, almost all EA (Entertainment Arts) games have been reduced to 99 cents. Titles range from the likes of Max and the Magic Marker (iPad version) to The Sims 3 (iPhone only) You can browse all of the EA games by searching the App Store for “EA games” or “Entertainment Arts games.” Either works & will bring up a listing of all of this developer’s games.

Gameloft games

All Gameloft Games: Another developer who’s put all of their titles on sale this weekend is Gameloft. These games usually run you about $6.99, so 99 cents is a pretty good deal. A good example of a Gameloft game is Wild Blood (universal). The fact that most Gameloft games are universal (unlike most EA games) makes them an even better deal. 

Playdek games

All Playdek Games: Although they have a smaller library of games, don’t count Playdek out. Most of their games tend more toward the board game genre, but I love board games. Check out the highly rated Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer (universal) for an exciting magic-like card game, or Fluxx (universal) for a game the whole family will love trying to figure out. 

Shiny The Firefly

Shiny The Firefly (universal): I haven’t played Shiny, but it is rated very highly & is on my AppShopper Social wish list. It is a platformer that may look like it is only for children, but I think it may appeal to everyone. Shiny usually costs $2.99. 

Jacob Jones

Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery: Episode 1 (universal): This game aimed at children, but yet again appealing to everyone, was in the App Store’s New & Noteworthy category just last week. Usually priced at $2.99, it has been discounted for a limited time. I was really excited to see this on the list of sale apps, except for the fact that I bought it last week at the normal price :( Oh well!

Penumbear

Penumbear (universal): I haven’t bought this platformer yet, but it looks absolutely amazing! Usually $1.99, Penumbear gets almost 5 stars from critics & App Store reviewers alike. The twist in this game is that you can only walk on the line between shadow & light. Luckily, your best friend is a firefly who can turn lights on & off. There are more than 100 levels of puzzles based on this premise, plus lots of extra things to find & bosses to fight as you help Penumbear escape a creepy castle. 

Everything Else

Photography – FREE Apps

InstaDaily

InstaDaily (iPhone only): Usually $2.99, I picked this little app up yesterday for FREE. This is 1 of the apps that I’m not sure why it’s on sale, so it may not last all weekend. InstaDaily lets you add a magazine-like feel to your photos. You can take them with the frame showing while you shoot, or you can import photos & see what works with what. It’s pretty cool looking!

TypoPic

TypoPic – Text 3D Rotation (iPhone only): This very cool app (usually 99 cents) is new to the App Store this week, but already it’s 1 of my very favorite text on photos app (& I have a zillion of them). What makes TypoPic stand out from the crowd is the fact that you can not only adjust type in about a million ways (expect a full review coming soon), but you can also rotate the text in any direction so that it looks 3D. & it actually works! It looks just amazing. 

Albu

Albu – Beautiful Photo Manager (iPhone only): Albu is an app that organizes all of the photos in your Photo app on its own. All you have to do is enjoy your photos in neat albums that usually make sense. You don’t have to do anything but open the app. Usually 99 cents. 

PhotoCal with Event

PhotoCal with Event (universal): Usually $2.99, PhotoCal is a great way to organize & view your photos. The app arranges all of your photos by date & even lets you view it all in a calendar-like view where you can see a sampling of what you took a month at a time. 

Text On Pics PRO

Text On Pics PRO (universal):  Another app where you can add text on top of photos, but this 1 has an astounding 180 fonts & is universal. Other than that, this is your standard app for doing this kind of task. But, it’s FREE! Download it & judge for yourself. What do you have to lose?

Strut Type

Strut Type (universal): This very cool camera/photo editing app just got even better, which is what they’re celebrating. Not so much about Memorial Day. It’s still a good time to pick up Strut Type for FREE. Strut Type transforms your photos into vintage, old-fashioned black & white photos. That may sound pretty limited, but there are actually 94 editing designs & with other factors added in, there are 500 possible combinations for diverse results. 

Photography – Discounted Apps

All JixiPix Apps: As you know if you read iOS Affairs, JixiPix is 1 of my very favorite developers because they make the very best photo editing apps. & this weekend, all JixiPix apps are only 99 cents! Yay! My favorite of the Jixi bunch is definitely PhotoArtistaHD – Haiku (iPad version), which is in the photo above. Haiku is a mix of watercolor, India ink & handmade papers. Other Jixi apps include Pop Dot Comics (iPhone version, although all are on sale), Grungetastic HD (iPad version) & Portrait Painter HD (iPad version). I have reviewed absolutely every Jixi app. You can find reviews of all the specific apps listed above here & here & here

ToonCamera

ToonCamera (universal): I know that a cartoon effect is included in just a ton of camera & editing apps, but ToonCamera just does this 1 thing, so they do it really well. Much better than some effect that you add on & can’t even edit with a cheap camera app. Usually $1.99, ToonCamera is on sale for 99 cents, and is also universal. You can take photos & video with many variations of cool cartoon styling with your iPhone or iPad.

Lifestyle Apps – FREE

Shatoetry
Shatoetry (iPhone only): This is a really funny app! What Shatoetry is about is writing poems (Shatisms) using words the app gives you (& they update the word list a lot). What makes it funny is that all the poems are read aloud when you’re done by William Shatner. For real. I’m not making it up. He recorded each word that you use & the app strings all the words together. Each word & even spaces can be emphasized with intuitive gestures. You can even save the voice recording as video & share it. Usually 99 cents. 

Cardio Buddy

Cardio Buddy – Touchless Camera Heart Rate Monitor (iPhone only): I’ve been using Cardio Buddy for some time now & it’s incredibly accurate as compared to what my heart rate is at the doctor’s. The algorithm that measures your heart rate just by looking at your face was developed by researchers at Berkeley & Stanford. It measures color variations in your face that are imperceptible to the eye. Plus, it will impress your friends. Usually $1.99. 

Smart Alarm Clock

Smart Alarm Clock for iPad: This app isn’t just an alarm clock. It also says (I own this app, but haven’t used it yet) that it tracks your sleep cycles & wakes you up at the best possible time based on when your body is coming out of deep R.E.M. sleep & going into a lighter sleep. Usually 99 cents (most apps that do this cost much more). 

Lifestyle Apps – Discounted

Social Diary

Social Diary – Automated Journal (iPad only): The name of this app is much longer because it actually includes all the social media the app supports. I shortened it, because that’s insane. Social Diary itself, though, is a cool concept & really neat to use. It imports all of your Facebook posts, Tweets, Instagram photos, & lets you choose which ones you want to write about more in your diary. All currently for 99 cents!

Sky Guide

Sky Guide: View Stars Night or Day (universal): I’m not that into astronomy (although I seem to own all the major apps), but Sky Guide really wowed me this week. It is in the App Store’s New & Noteworthy right now, so I can’t say what it usually costs, but the developer’s say the 99 cent price will double eventually. Still, that is not bad for an app of this kind. What’s so special about it? It uses actual photos of the sky, not simulated points of light, so it feels more real. Plus, the info that is written on everything is in-depth & not from Wikipedia. There is music that changes based on the size & temperature of the star you’re looking at. I could go on, but this is supposed to be brief. 

ScrapBook

ScrapBook – Tell Your Story (iPad only): This is an app I’m planning on picking up today. It looks really amazing & has everything you need to make great digital scrapbooks. You can include photos, text, maps, voice recordings, & there are a lot of ways to lay everything out in many cool themes. ScrapBook is by Left Coast Logic, a developer who has put all of there apps on sale this weekend. Most are quite expensive & are really more productivity apps, like calendars, but they are extremely innovative & worth a look. Usually $4.99, ScrapBook is on sale for $2.99.

Writing & Productivity Apps – FREE

Goodo Cal (iPhone only): Usually $3.99, this uniquely named calendar app is FREE right now. It is a very clean looking, non-traditional calendar (which I downloaded but haven’t gotten to yet). It may look minimalistic (which is the point), but it says it has many integrated functions, including Stream View, fast event creation, & ability to sync with Google Calendar. 

Getodo

Getodo – To-do Lists for Your Circles (iPhone only): I just downloaded this really amazing looking to-do list (to-do lists & to-do list apps are an obsession of mine). Getodo promotes itself as helping people who may be procrastinators or who feel inefficient. It helps these people by breaking down tasks into smaller, more do-able bits (I may need to try this). What attracted me, of course, are the beautiful themes & design. They really need to spell-check their app description, though. Usually 99 cents. 

Timer+ Touch

Timer+ Touch HD (iPad only): This is a neat app despite the fact that I think the app icon is really a turn-off & the claim that it is 1 of a kind because it is touch-enabled is stupid. However, if you have an iPad & need a timer, this is a really good 1 that you set just by swiping around the circle. Easy as can be & that’s about it. Usually 99 cents. 

Writing & Productivity Apps -Discounted 

TaskPaper

TaskPaper – Simple To-do Lists (universal): Usually $4.99, TaskPaper is on sale for $1.99. This 1 is on my wish list, but it looks really great & is very highly rated. The goal of TaskPaper is to feel just like you’re using a sheet of paper. It syncs with Dropbox to make sure you don’t lose all your precious info. 

TextGrabber

TextGrabber + Translator (iPhone only): This incredibly useful & accurate app grabs & translates words in anything you can photograph. You can even import existing photos that include words. Usually $9.99, TextGrabber is on sale for $4.99. When I say it grabs the text, I mean that it copies the words & changes them into editable text on your iPhone that can also be translated into a lot of different languages within the same app. 

Pencilicious

Pencilicious *Plus: Note taking, sketching, and drawing (iPad only): This is my go-to scratch-pad when I need to take notes quickly & I want to feel like I’m using a sheet of paper. The hand-writing is out of this world! The only thing Pencilicious is missing is the ability to use it in landscape mode. Other than that, this is a great app for taking notes by hand & I can see how it would be an awesome sketching app. Usually $2.99, it is on sale for $1.99. 

Songwriter's Pad

Songwriter’s Pad (iPad only): I saw this app, which is made by the same developers as Poet’s Pad (on my biggest wish list), & I had to share. Songwriter’s is usually $9.99, but this weekend it’s on sale for $1.99. For that price, you get a place to write lyrics with an integrated rhyming dictionary, dictionary & thesaurus. There is also a place to note chords with the lyrics & even a record function so you can sing or hum or whatever when the mood strikes you. Now, if only Poet’s Pad would go on sale this much!

That’s it for the list right now. I may update over the weekend if I see anything exceptional. Have a great holiday & thanks for reading my very long list!

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

Wow! VideoFilters Is Camera+ For Videos

VideoFilters

A universal app released in the App Store yesterday called VideoFilters has absolutely amazed me with a set of features similar to Camera+. Except, as the name suggests, it’s for videos. 

VideoFilters has attributes that will make both pros & amateurs alike very happy. 

  • Amateurs are going to LOVE the 100 real-time filters you use while you’re shooting, the ability to import videos you’ve already taken with other cameras & being able to snap still photos while you’re shooting a video. 
  • Pros will like the fact that with VideoFilters they can adjust the frames per second (FPS), shoot with STEREO Audio & do some actual editing (contrast, saturation, gamma & brightness). 

What I loved is how easy VideoFilters was to figure out. It literally took me all of 10 minutes to be ready to write this review. 

I was a little disappointed at 1st by the fact that the filters are not quite as dramatic as say the filters in Camera+, but that disappointment was soon replaced with awe at just how many features the developers were able to fit into 1 app without making it feel cluttered or confusing. 

There is no tutorial, but it isn’t needed anyway. 

VideoFilters

I also realized that, although I’d like to see some more dramatic filters in the future, the filters that exist are actually quite good. You can see a complete listing of all 100 filters in the app description in the App Store. 

What really made me realize how impressive the filters are is rapidly switching between filters & no filter by tapping the on/off button in the very corner on the bottom left.  

VideoFilters

To choose a filter, you just tap the line along the bottom (which it says). You can browse the filters divided into 14 categories as little photos or tiled for easier viewing (photo above). 

And, you won’t see a stock photo as you’re looking through the filters. You’ll see whatever your device’s camera is pointed at, or if you’ve imported a video, you’ll see whatever image the video is paused on. That means, you’ll see how the filter is reacting with your environment & your actual video. 

I really liked that 1 of the groupings of filters is made to address common issues people have with their videos or environments like: 

  • Clarity to crisp up fuzzy photos
  • Fluorescent for videos shot under this type of light
  • Cloudy & Shade for shooting while it’s, well, you can figure this 1 out
  • Flash to add light to dark photos 
  • & several more 

VideoFilters

Another nifty feature I discovered how to access by accident. I had skipped the instructions for this in the app description (oops). 

If you do a long tap on the screen & then slide up/down, you get to the pop-up menu (photo above) to adjust the saturation, contrast, gamma & brightness. Then, you slide left/right to increase/decrease the amount. It works just like Snapseed, so you should have no difficulty doing it. 

Minor editing of those features really changes the filters, too.

VideoFilters

I am definitely in the amateur photographer category, so I really appreciate some of the features like the smooth zoom buttons, the grid overlay & being able to take a photo while I’m shooting a video. 

  • The smooth zoom buttons (the +/- above & below the zoom bar) slowly & steadily zooms in or out. I can never do that without jerking around like I’m having a seizure, so this is highly appreciated. 
  • Grid overlay (read why this is a useful tool here) is turned on & off in the settings menu (the gear in the upper, left corner). 
  • All you have to do to take an HD-quality photo while shooting a video is tap the camera button to the right of the record button. This only shows while you’re shooting (duh). When you’re not, it’s the render button to finish & save your video.  

For the pros out there, the settings menu is where you’ll probably head to 1st. That’s where you can adjust the FPS, aspect ratio, sound quality & other things I don’t understand much (although I’m happy to see there is a stabilize button there). 

You can adjust the speed of the video right from the shooting screen. 

With the speed settings button in the upper, right corner, you can do slow motion & fast motion videos. I haven’t tried this yet, but it looks easy & sounds like it could be fun to play with. 

I did import a video from my Camera Roll with the + button that is right next to the record button. VideoFilters didn’t make me search through all my photos for the videos either. It quickly found all my videos & only showed me those to choose from. Importing & working with the video worked like a charm, too!

The other features I couldn’t cram into this review but that should be mentioned include:

  • You can take videos in either portrait or landscape mode!
  • Layer filters by adding additional filters after a video is done. 
  • Use the front or back camera!
  • Manually set the exposure, focus & white balance with a triple-tap. 
  • Pause while shooting video & then start right back up again. 

I wanted to mention again that all this video goodness is universal. That means that you can enjoy VideoFilters using your iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch! The price is just $3.99. 

So, go check it out!

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

Instagram on the iPad: Gramatica Rocks the Gallery

Instagram is iconic to the iPhone, but sometimes iPad users want a little more space to browse photos. You get used to more space when using the iPad. You come to expect it.

Gramatica

The app we’re going to look at is famous enough in its own right, having garnered rave reviews from all of the top review sites. It’s called Gramatica for Instagram. Although Gramatica is a universal app (you can use it on the iPhone, too), we’re going to look at how it works mostly on the iPad, today.

Gramatica calls itself an Instagram gallery app in part because of the art gallery-like way photos are presented & in part because it is not Instagram. You can’t shoot & upload photos using Gramatica. For that, you’ll have to go back to Instagram. 

Gramatica

What Gramatica does do, though, is amazing. For the most part, everything in Gramatica is gesture controlled. Like a photo? Tap it twice to heart it. Want to see who else likes it? Tap the heart & the photos slides away to reveal the list of people who have liked it (photo above). Want to see the comments on a photo? Tap the comment bubble & the photo slides away revealing the comments & gives you space to leave a comment of your own. Tap a city or address to have the photo reveal a map locating where it was taken. 

Just tap the arrow to slide the photo back over the photo when you’re done. & if you want to see the photo bigger, just tap it once for an up-close look at it & even pinch to zoom in on it. All of this is done without leaving the photo gallery!

Gramatica is just a streamlined, stunning way to look at Instagram photos on the iPad (or iPhone). 

Gramatica

One of the coolest things about Gramatica is the fact that you can curate the photos you look at using filtering. You can choose tags that you don’t want to see in your feed or searches, hide photos, & hide users so that when you’re trying to look at beautiful photos, you aren’t interrupted with things you don’t want to see. 

You can flip the filter on & off by tapping the blue funnel-looking icon in the lower, left corner. Tap the gear icon to change your filter options & manage your filters. This is where you would come to change, add to, or delete some of your filters. 

Gramatica

Another cool feature in Gramatica is the ability to make simple lists of users & hashtags. Instead of searching for the same hashtag every single time you want to look at photos in that topic, just open up the list you’ve created & click the hashtag instead, which will take you straight there. 

To create a list, just search for the hashtag or user you want & choose the “Add tag to list” button to open up a pop-up window. In the pop-up, you can give that tag a name of your own & choose whether you just want it to search your own feed or if you want it to search within another tag or just leave it alone to have it find all photos with that tag. 

Gramatica

You can also get to the same pop-up box/list creator by clicking the list icon along the left side of the screen (under the home icon). When you click on the icon, you are give the choice of seeing your photos, photos you’ve liked, & if you’ve created some lists, they will be listed there, too. 

To create a new list this way, just click the + button & you’re good to go. 

The list icon is where you go back to when you want to go to your list again. Just press the name of your list & off you go. 

Gramatica

Other cool features of Gramatica include:

  • The ability to quickly switch between multiple accounts. 
  • Use the Last Viewed Photo Indicator to quickly see where you left off last time you used Gramatica. 
  • Use the Unread Comments Indicator to find new comments on comments strings you are following. 
  • Tap on URLs & follow where they go. 
  • Use iCloud to sync all your filters, lists, & indicators between devices. 

Just a note. You MUST have an Instagram account to use Gramatica! This is not an app for viewing Instagram that can be used by anyone. It is for Instagram users only! Please don’t download it & rate it badly because you didn’t read this.

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

Related Link on iOS Affairs:

Mosaic Creator Only Way To Go Mosaic

Mosaic Creator

Close-up shows all the photos that make up this fox.

I see just a ton of apps in the App Store for creating mosaics out of your photos. Most are just pieces of crap (excuse my language). But, they are.

Most mosaic creators use stock photos or just colored tiles to create really bad mosaics of a photo of your choice.

Mosaic Creator is not like that. You won't get that from the reviews of this app, which are very poor. But, when I want to create an amazing mosaic (a real one, made up of all my photos), Mosaic Creator is the only way I do it.

Mosaic Creator

Set the tile size with a slider.

I've used Mosaic Creator with both my iPad's (1 & 3) & with both my iPhone's (4 & 5). I've NEVER had any crashing issues despite the fact that the app warns that it is an issue if you have too many photos or you try to create too detailed a mosaic. I always create the most detailed mosaic & use all my photos (about 5,000).

When you open the app, the instructions for use are right there. No guessing on how to use this app! You can open the Options menu up to set a few preferences & choose how big or small you want your tiles to be using a slider. The smaller the tiles, the smaller the tiles.

You can also choose whether the app adapts colors to make the main photo look more realistic (which means your little tile photos will be toned a certain color, but it makes the overall effect better). There are also options to let the app use photos multiple times & to prioritize high-contrast areas. Play around & see what you like best.

Mosaic Creator

Choosing your photos ...

There is a little trick with Mosaic Creator. If you just choose a photo and click Start, the app often tells you that you have not chosen any photos as a source (the Tiles), even though every album can be selected. I just go through my albums in the Photo Library section & unclick most of them, unclick the Camera Roll & click it again. This seems to work to make the app recognize that I have selected photos as a source for the big photo that I choose.

You cannot select individual pictures to use as tiles, but you could make an album of the photos you want to use & then just choose that album as the source of the tiles.

The next task is to select which photo you want made into a mosaic. Just click the Photo button to see your Photo Library & choose which photo you want. Then, click Start.

Mosaic Creator

Watch Mosaic Creator in action.

You can then close the app & let everything happen in the background. Mosaic Creator will notify you when your mosaic is done. It can take a few minutes if you choose small tiles &/or if you choose a lot of photos as source tiles.

But, I think you're missing a lot of the fun if you close the app during the process. Half the fun is watching your image materialize before your eyes. Each & every tile that makes up the big photo in the mosaic is a little piece of your Photo Library. A little piece of your life.

Mosaic Creator

The final outcome ...

When Mosaic Creator's done, you get a really cool image made up of all the pieces of your life that you selected from your Photo Library. You can zoom in on the image & see each & every little photo that is making up the whole image (like in the very top photo of this post).

I think there's a metaphor in there, but it's very early & I can't quite grasp it :)

Mosaic Creator is a great example of learning how to read App Store reviews. Sometimes they can be very helpful & warn you away from a bad app. But, sometimes they are just full of people who can't figure out how to use the app or don't know how to use their device. Mosaic Creator reviewers, I think, are for the most part in the latter category.

Learning to read App Store reviews is an art, not a science.

So, if you want to create a mosaic, you can trust Mosaic Creator to make you a memorable one that will stand the tests of time.

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

3 Camera Apps That Will Drive Boredom Away

3D Photo play

3D Photo helps me imitate a Picasso painting.

Playing with 3 apps

The day is starting out dull and drizzling after a night full of thunderstorms. That has made me a little stir crazy and bored, so I turned to 3 camera apps I often turn to when I’m feeling this way: Kaleidomatic, KaleidaCam, and 3D Photo.

All 3 apps are primarily cameras, not editors, and are mostly for the iPhone. Kaleidomatic is universal, so you can use it on your iPad, too. And, all 3 cost less than $2. Not a bad price for driving the dull away.

The focus of all 3 apps, for me, is Play (with a capital p). The only thing serious about these apps is the art that you can create if you let yourself really play and experiment.

Finally, all 3 are well thought of by other reviewers, and 2 of them by App Store reviewers, as well. The only dissent comes from App Store reviewers of 3D Photo. The bad reviews seem to be a mix of people experiencing crashing (which in my long run using 3D Photo, has never happened) and people who don’t understand the point of the app. I’ll be nice and just ignore them.

So, let’s take a walk through these 3 lovely apps and see if we can’t drive away the morning doldrums.

Kaleidomatic

Kaleidomatic

Paintings on wall behind me.

Kaleidomatic can take photos with both the front and rear-facing cameras. It reads what it is seeing through the lens and turns it into something hypnotic: an interactive kaleidoscope with many options to change 1 look into anything.

When you open the app, the camera pops on and immediately starts turning what it sees into a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns, literally.

Along the bottom of the app is the viewfinder. Whatever you see in the viewfinder is what is being turned into kaleido-art.

The viewfinder is also how you switch between the front and rear cameras. Just swipe across the viewfinder to switch between each camera.

The last thing the viewfinder does is pause what is happening on the screen. If you see a pattern that you just love and want to work with in the editing phase or save as it is, tap the eye on the viewfinder to close it and thus stop the app from interpreting anymore outside data.

If you need any tips or instructions, pull up further on the viewfinder to get a set of swipe-able instructions throughout the app.

Kaleidomatic

Another view of the paintings and a light.

That doesn’t mean the fun has ended, though.

Even while paused, you can still switch the form the kaleidoscope is taking by picking a new choice on the wheel under the viewfinder. There are 12 kaleidoscope patterns to choose from, like Star, Butterfly, Meadow, and Honeycomb.

Also while paused (or while running), you can use the pinch gesture to change the look of what you are seeing. Use 2 fingers to make the pattern bigger or smaller or rotate it. Using 2 fingers to rotate the image really can change it tremendously!

Use 1 finger to slide the pattern around so you can see the whole thing, and use 1 finger to stop it in place by pressing down.

You can also bring a photo you’ve already taken into the app using the arrow button on the far left. Once you bring a photo in, you can switch between all 12 kaleidoscope patterns and use the 2-finger rotating to stir things up.

Once you have an image you’re happy with, press the arrow button on the far right to go to the editing stage (which you can skip and just save what you have). There is no camera shutter button in Kaleidomatic.

Kaleidomatic

Kaleidomatic also features 20 different filters that can take your image from pale to crazy to on acid (according to the filter names).

You also can change your image from full screen to square (good for exporting to Instagram) or tiled (excellent for producing high-res images and patterns for printing).

Stuck on anything at this stage? The in-app help pages continue here. Just pull up on the bottom bar and the help screen emerges with useful tips.

When you’re done editing, tap the arrow at the far right to go to the saving/sharing screen, where you can share your image on multiple social networks, and by email, text, etc.

If you just want to quickly save your image, hold down on the far right arrow for a few seconds, and instead of going to the save/share screen, the app will save your image to the Camera Roll instead.

KaleidaCam

KaleidaCam

My living room.

KaleidaCam is both different and similar to Kaleidomatic. The similarities obviously come from the fact that both cameras simulate interactive kaleidoscopes. And, both apps are capable of turning the everyday into extraordinary art.

The user interface in KaleidaCam is totally different. It looks much more like a camera the average user might have experience with.

Along the bottom of the screen is the big camera shutter button to take a photo. To the left is the gallery of photos you’ve already taken. To the right is the button that pops up the styles you can use for your kaleidoscope.

Along the top of the screen, there is a switch to go between a full screen image and a square image (from left), buttons to switch between taking a live photo and pulling in a photo from your Photos app, the button to turn the camera around to face you, and the settings button.

KaleidaCam

Picture of Jasper and his toy.

There are 4 styles you can use to change the look of your image in KaleidaCam, with another 2 available for an in-app purchase of 99 cents. Each style is further adjustable using the slider above it. The slider effectively adds additional mirrors to make the design more complex.

You can use the 2 finger pinch gesture to make a design bigger or smaller and 1 finger to move it around and turn it, but the effects are not as pronounced as they are in Kaleidomatic. It is actually easier to get cool reactions in KaleidaCam using just 1 finger, though.

Make sure you set up in the settings section what you want to happen when you click the shutter button. You can choose to have photos just remain in the app until you save them or share them, or you can have them save immediately to the Camera Roll (or both).

There is no editing feature in KaleidaCam, the fun just keeps going as you snap pictures and make alterations.

Obviously, I feel the need to have both kaleidoscope camera apps. Which should you buy?

The choice is ultimately yours. Weigh the features against each other, and see which is most important to you. If you want a classic-looking camera, KaleidaCam may be your app. But, in my opinion, you get more bang (features) for your buck with Kaleidomatic. It is also universal and a dollar cheaper.

3D Photo

3D Photo

Now, we turn our attention to a different type of app, but 1 no less capable of boggling the brain and making unique art that the developers call “digital cubism.”

3D Photo really hates being dull. That’s why they give you 15 different cubist templates to take dull and ordinary, and throw it away.

Lots of folk agree with the 3D Photo take on things. The app has been listed as 1 of Apple’s New & Noteworthy in Photography, and has been praised highly by the likes of Gizmodo, among others.

What makes it so special is that it breaks away from the traditional canvas on which a photo sits, and has replaced it with a diverse set of templates that are tactile and transcendent.

Plus, 3D Photo is dead easy to use. Just open the app, point, and flick through the 15 templates using the arrows along the sides of the app. If you want to take a photo of yourself, just flip the camera around and see you cubed.

Each template can be manipulated even more before you snap a photo. You can twist it and turn it until you find an angle that is screaming for a photo to be taken. That’s when you snap a shot.

3D Photo

Of course, you can also bring a photo into the app and apply it to the templates in the same way. Just click the arrow in the bottom, right of the screen and select Choose from Photo Album.

All of your shots are saved to the app’s 3D Gallery (bottom, left), where you can further manipulate and arrange an image for a whole new look. You can also have photos saved immediately to your Camera Roll through the settings (lower, right arrow).

Not every photo is going to work out using 3D Photo. It may not be the app you want to take your family photos with (or it may?). But, that’s where the fun is. That’s where experimentation and risk take hold. And ultimately, that’s where you’re going to get some of your best shots.

The only thing I’d like to see changed in 3D Photo is an update to make it fit the iPhone 5 screen. It’s a shame that it hasn’t been done yet.

At 99 cents, 3D Photo is a steal and should be an app every iPhoneographer has in their arsenal, if only to freshen up their skills when they’re feeling bored and stale.

I don’t know about you, but I feel those dark doldrums leaving now.

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

Pinterest Making Changes

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Pinterest (read my Gallery+ review, Bazaart review, and Pinterest infographics here and here). Apparently, Pinterest is making some changes to both the look and content of their site.

One thing that is changing is that you can no longer use links in descriptions for pins. Read about more of the changes in this infographic I found on Tumblr.

Pinterest

Your Instagram Filter Choices Say A Lot About You!

This infographic purports to tell you who you are based on what filter you use, among other things. I am personally amazed that almost half of all Instagram users don't use any filter at all (which still says something). I find it impossible not to use a filter.

How about you? Which filter do you use most on Instagram? Do you think the descriptions about you are accurate?

Realistic-Looking Frames Highlight of Pic Kick Pro – Crazy Collage for iOS

Pic Kick Pro

Our latest MobiTog EOS in work framed by Pick Kick Pro.

Pic Kick Pro – Crazy Collage Maker & Photo Editor may be a really long name for an app, but if you’re nostalgic for real-world looking frames, look no further. Pic Kick Pro is a universal, FREE app with more than 100 frames (in-app purchase needed) modeled after your favorite frames from real life and many from your imagination. And, new frames are added often.

This is not like any other framing/collage app you’ve seen for iOS. These frames are simply too realistic to be believed. Let’s take a look.

Pic Kick Pro

When you open Pic Kick, you are left with a blank slate and 5 icons. To begin, start with the camera button in the middle.

This little button is hiding a LOT of power. It is not only how you bring in photos from your Photos app, Facebook, and Flickr, or take a new photo, it is also how you change the background for the entire collage and add text to your work.

Pic Kick Pro

There are more than 100 backgrounds to choose from (photo at right), and you can make any photo that you bring in to the app into the background by tapping the photo 2 times quickly until a pop-up menu lets you choose to Set as Background.

That means the photo will take up the entire space though, and not always proportionally.

The app comes with a good amount of FREE backgrounds, the rest are unlocked for 99 cents in-app. These are high-quality backgrounds in a high-quality app. Rest assured, they are worth it.

Backgrounds range from simple colors or textured paper to 3D rooms, including an art gallery that you can use to hang pictures on virtual walls.

Pic Kick Pro

After you choose a backdrop, you can bring in photos using the same middle, camera button. Choose from your Photos app, Facebook photos, and Flickr account to bring a photo in, or shoot a new photo with the in-app camera.

Double-tapping on a photo brings up that pop-up menu again that lets you delete the photo, crop it within the app, set it as the background, or open it in the Photo Editor, which is run on Aviary (I discussed Aviary here).

You can adjust the size of a photo using pinch gestures. Use 2 fingers to stretch the photo bigger or shrink it smaller. Use 1 finger to move the photo around until you place it. The only thing missing for me is the option to lock a photo into place.

If you forget anything about manipulating a photo or anything else, just click the paperclip button and instructions will pop up.

Pic Kick Pro

Choose from more than 100 frames and growing.

The most important feature of Pic Kick Pro is adding frames. The frame button is 2nd from the left. It looks like a pile of photos.

There are more than 100 frames, with more being added frequently. Many frames come with the FREE app. The rest are accessed via a 99 cent in-app purchase that is definitely worth it if you like the app.

Pic Kick Pro features frames unlike any other I have seen in the App Store. Many look like real frames that you would buy at a craft store and hang on your walls at home. There are also unique frames that are shaped like flowers and frames that are themed. If you can imagine a frame, Pic Kick Pro probably has it.

Pic Kick Pro

Double-tapping a frame brings up a pop-up menu that allows you to delete the frame or lock it into place. Pressing and holding on a frame moves it back and forth from front layer to back layer, which is useful for bringing a frame to the front of a photo.

I have used Pic Kick Pro to frame 1 photo, and then I crop it out in another app so that it stands alone with just a frame on it. And, I have used the app to make collages with many photos and many frames.

Pic Kick Pro

Using a combination of the wonderful backgrounds, your photos, the divine frames, and adding text (at right) gives Pic Kick Pro full collage-making capabilities. (To add text, you just click the camera button again and choose Add Text to get the pop-up menu in the photo).

The only things I’d like to see added to Pic Kick Pro are landscape support on the iPad version of the app and the ability to snap frames and pictures to some sort of line to make them line up straight.

Pic Kick Pro

The last 2 buttons in Pic Kick Pro let you save your collage to the app to work on again later (far left button) and save the collage to your Photos app or share it (far right button).

You can share your collage with or without the background, which is handy when you just want to throw a frame on a photo and share it without making a collage. I wish this option were available for saving, as well. However, the high resolution saving options more than make up for this oversight.

I haven’t heard much from others about Pic Kick Pro, which is unfortunate because it is an outstanding app!

If you want unique and realistic frames on rich and vibrant backgrounds with about a million other options to make your photos stand out, Pic Kick Pro is definitely the way to go.

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