2013: A Year in Review

Tracy:

We all get excited when we see that our Annual Report is available on the Dashboard. With fireworks & all!

Did you know that WordPress itself gets the same kind of Annual Review each year? Take a look at some amazing numbers & outcomes (which you helped them to achieve).

The stat monkeys really did an outstanding job with this one! There are no fireworks, but what could have been a boring list of numbers & comparisons is actually a beautifully laid out report that is overflowing with bright colors & dynamic design.

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

With 2013 behind us, we can now take a look at our community’s incredible accomplishments over the past year. Here’s the year that was on WordPress.com.

13,704,819 new blogs in 2013

That’s a 36% increase from 2012, during which you created 10 million new blogs.

489,281,136 posts in 2013

That’s 12 times the number of books in the Library of Congress!

667,675,929 comments in 2013

That’s an average of 21 comments per second for the entire year.

comments since you’ve been
on this page.

95,424,985 likes in 2013

That’s almost 38,000 times the number of stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The most popular topics in 2013

You’ve written about thousands of topics in 2013. Here are the top ten:

  1. Photography328,763 posts
  2. Video289,493 posts
  3. Politics282,893 posts
  4. Music282,434 posts
  5. Life280,219 posts
  6. News259,493 posts
  7. Art240,367 posts
  8. Love168,657 posts
  9. Humor155,213 posts
  10. Food105,528…

View original 320 more words

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, …

 

Highlights & Detours From My App Store Download Spree

App Store spree

‘Mama Said There’d Be Months Like This’

Sorry I’ve been MIA. Hopefully you caught my last post from June that explained that I have been very sick. I am feeling much, much better now! Thanks to all my loyal readers for your patience & concern.

I’m back now, though, & I hope that will continue to be true for the foreseeable future.

I am WAY behind in answering emails. If you’ve emailed me & I haven’t responded yet, I apologize. I am trying to get caught up in that area & I promise I will respond as soon as possible.

I wrote about half of the following post almost 2 months ago. I finished it up today. I hope it still flows together nicely & makes sense. It’s awfully long, but it has a ton of tiny tips, reviews, & iOS info that may be helpful to almost any user. & yes, these are mini-reviews. If you’re a regular reader, you know how long a normal review of 1 app is when written by me!

Lastly, I will be doing an iOS 7 info & rumor roundup as soon as I can get caught up on what’s going on in the iOS news world. As with everything else, I’m a little behind on what’s what there.

Okay, on with the show!

App Store spree

Every App But the Kitchen Sink

To distract myself, I often do “research” in the App Store. By research, I mean that I get a random idea of an app or category of apps that I am interested in or absolutely need, & then I spend hours in the App Store chasing down exactly what that is.

While looking for the exact right app, I also download everything else that looks interesting. I often get sidetracked by interesting apps & end up doing another line of research that can then spiral into another line of research & so on.

It may sound like a mess, but I am extremely methodical in my searching.

App Store spree

Lack of ‘Order & Organization’

By the time I’m done, I find myself with pages of apps (like the 6 you see in photos above & below this section from my most recent research spree) on both of my iDevices that I’ll need to test. I am very strict with my organization on my devices. Until I know how an app works, it does not go into 1 of my neatly organized & Emoji titled folders.

These free-range apps remain uncategorized until I get to them to test them & make sure I know how they work.

I had to make an exception about folders on my iPhone this time, because I literally ran out of pages to put apps on.

Tip: You only get 10 pages, plus the home page to put apps on. So, I put all the apps I downloaded over the past few days into folders on 1 page to wait for testing (see bottom photo below). I am not yet sure how or if this will change with iOS 7, since you will be able to put pages of apps inside each folder.

App Store spree

App Store spree

In the Cloud

My most recent research phase began about about 4 days ago & ended yesterday (UPDATE: this all took place in June). It began with a search for cloud storage for my 14,000 photos currently busting the seams of the memory capacity of my iPhone & iPad.

Researching cloud storage (I already have Dropbox, Box, & MegaCloud, plus Apple’s iCloud), I really was looking for something that could hold all the photos I have & will have, with background uploading, & easy access to the photos to use them for projects, if I needed to.

& of course, it has have an app & be iOS friendly.

One of the solutions I am considering is Flickr’s new terabyte of space that they offer all users. (UPDATE: I signed up for Flickr, but I’ve decided it’s not really a “storage” place for me. I feel pressure to share photos that I upload, although it is not a rule, & so I tend not to load to many photos. At least as of yet.)

Top 20 Finds

I’ll let you know which cloud storage solution I’m trying out in just a minute. In fact, I’ll give you a run-down of 20 apps that really caught my eye during this 3-day research extravaganza.

All 20 apps were chosen because of their innovativeness in doing something I hadn’t seen before in any other app, or because of the flawless way they executed a task that may not be original, but that felt that way with these apps.

A Few Detours

Whenever you search for anything big in the App Store (or Google, or anywhere), you always end up with strange things that don’t seem to belong to the search criteria you’ve entered. I don’t know about you. Maybe you just skip over those things & ignore them. I just physically can’t make myself ignore them.

Flickr apps in the App Store

I’m sure I found a thing or 2 among the cloud storage apps that interested me, but it was when I was searching Flickr apps (3rd-party ones, like in the photo above) that I started to find strange & wonderful apps I had never seen or heard of but that instantly caught my attention.

Next, I chased greeting card makers. I thought I already owned all of them.

But, the thing about the App Store is that you can own every app in a category. But, wait 5 minutes & you’ll be shocked at how many new apps pop up in that category.

Somehow, I followed Facebook apps out of the greeting card area. I remember searching for an iPad Facebook app a few years ago when I 1st got my iPad.

My how things have changed! There are some absolutely outstanding 3rd-party Facebook apps that do just about everything, & many things you’d never even think of (at least not until I tell you about them).

There were some other narrow roads & blind alleys I followed that didn’t lead anywhere exciting, but I still managed to find apps there, too.

By the numbers

I ended up with 84 new iPad apps to try & an astounding 168 new iPhone apps! That’s 252 apps in 3 days, but that number doesn’t include the games I routinely search for on a daily basis & apps I found in AppShopper Social.

What’s funny is that of the 252 apps I downloaded (only a fraction of which will survive testing), I only actually paid for a handful of them, & probably spent about $10.

I got lucky with many of them, & many of them are lite versions. So, once I test them, I could end up spending more through upgrading the apps I like.

The actual number of apps I downloaded over that 3-day period is probably closer to 300. Even for me, that’s a lot, & it is going to take me a LONG while to get caught up again with all of those apps just waiting to be tested. On an average day, I download anywhere from 10 to 30 apps. However, “average” days are sporadic where apps are concerned.

But, that’s just the way the ebb & flow of my iDevice life goes. I own close to 6,000 iOS apps currently.

I almost consistently have 1,000+ apps on each device, & I try to know what each of them does. However, I routinely have to cull out apps I’m not really using to make way for new apps or to get my memory back up to a respectable level.

Well, I’ve rambled on long enough about this (& I hope you found some of it interesting!).

So, let’s take a look at the Top 20 apps I found on my App Store adventure.

The Top 20 App Finds: Mini-Reviews

I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly use any of the following apps to the extent I would if I were writing a real review. I may write full reviews on some of them in the future.

What I really want to point out today are the features that make these apps unique & why they stand out from the crowd.

Without further ado & in no particular order …

myshoebox

MyShoebox – Photo Backup and Cloud Storage (universal, FREE, subscription offered)

I found the perfect solution for my photo woes when I discovered MyShoebox. The app is highly rated & has been talked up by almost every major news source.

MyShoebox offers unlimited photo storage for FREE, but the photos are only saved at screen resolution, which is not so good & can’t be used if you want to have them printed in the future or do anything else with them. If you want your photos saved at full/original resolution, it only costs $5 a month. That’s it!

MyShoebox has almost everything I am looking for in a cloud storage service.

I don’t need to save documents (or, if I do, I can use Dropbox, etc.). I just have photos, which is what MyShoebox specializes in.

The only thing I wanted that MyShoebox is lacking is background uploading. Also, the wonderful general interface of the app does not work in landscape mode :( But, other than those 2 things, MyShoebox is absolutely perfect. I plan on writing a very respectful letter to the developer requesting my 2 desires.

UPDATE: I contacted the MyShoebox developers & their speedy response informed me that they have many things planned for the future of the app that are very exciting!

The universal app for MyShoebox is awesome. It’s not just a window to the cloud where your photos are stored; it is a fun way to look through your photos & learn more about them.

In the photo above, you can see that MyShoebox analyzes your photos & then tells you the most popular cities you took them in, the most common time of day & day of the week, the most common camera you used, & so on. Or, you can look at a timeline of your photos that begins with a Remember When section. You can also start a photo gallery to share with others (they don’t have to have MyShoebox to see the photos, either).

So, I’m going to try MyShoebox out & my hopes are high that it will be all good. I don’t have to worry about running out of GBs. I don’t have to traipse from cloud storage provider to cloud storage provider to find all of my photos stashed piecemeal in the cloud. And, I can finally delete some of the photos I don’t use as much off my devices & gain some much-needed memory & iCloud space.

UPDATE: I have been using MyShoebox now for a few months & I totally love it! It’s exactly what I needed & is so reasonably priced. The app makes it extremely easy to find your photos, share them, redownload them & anything else you may need.

photo album for Facebook

Photo Album for Facebook (universal, $2.99; FREE version here)

There is also an iPhone-only version for $1.99, but if you have an iPad, that version seems silly.

I haven’t had much of a chance to play with this book, but I did already upgrade from the FREE version.

It is a unique way to look at Facebook photos with a vintage feel that can be adjusted using different backgrounds, colors, photo mattes & such.

But, the really cool thing about this Photo Album is that you can choose to look at all the photos currently in your news feed (or jump back years & years to see what was in your news feed long ago). You can also choose to show only your own photos & albums or to show only 1 friend’s photos or a group of friends photos.

You can also sort photos out by tags, but I’m not sure how that works yet.

With real page-flip technology, Photo Album for Facebook is just the best way to look at Facebook photos. Oh, & you can even leave “likes” & comments on photos from within the app. There are a ton of Facebook photo album organizers, but this 1 is the best I have seen or tried & it’s also the least amount of work for you to do. It’s all done for you & it’s done perfectly.

Try the FREE version, but I almost guarantee you’ll switch to the paid version.

printicular

Printicular (universal, FREE)

I knew you could send your iOS Camera Roll photos to Walgreens to get prints using the Walgreens app, but I had no idea that Walgreens also accepted photos from so many other digital sources & that there is an app that lets you browse & select photos to be printed from all those sources.

In the past few years, I transitioned into a fully digital girl. I prefer looking at my photos digitally in cool app formats & virtual collage/scrapbooks. I like knowing my photos won’t get ruined or age & being able to make art out of the same photo over & over & over.

But, I wasn’t always a digital girl.

I used to be the girl who saved up all her money to get tons & tons of rolls of film developed. & I have to admit, if Walgreens makes it this easy to get prints from all the places I’ve stashed photos (which is every place on that list in the photo above), I may just have to get some of them made real.

I wonder if they can ship them to your house, too? That’d make this all perfect!

feed pro

FEED PRO FOR FACEBOOK + CHAT & PHOTO STUDIO (iPhone only, FREE)

Despite the name only including Facebook and Facebook Chat, FEED PRO also incorporates Twitter into its gesture-driven, minimalistic app. The app is FREE, & I haven’t seen any ads yet. It is not iPhone 5 friendly, but I can look past that (I think).

There’s a handy button in the corner that lets you to add content of any kind to Facebook or Twitter with little fuss. A cool & uncommon feature I have yet to try out is the full-featured photo editor.

UPDATE: I heartily apologize, but when I was checking to make sure links work, I discovered that this app is no longer available to U.S. App Store customers!

pop-up album

Pop-up Album (universal, FREE with in-app purchases)

Anyone who finds traditional photo albums boring & scrapbooks too flat is definitely in for a treat with Pop-up Album. This FREE-to-try app ($1.99 in-app purchase for additional content) lets you create as many pop-up photo/text/fun cut-out books as you want & the app lines them up on a bookshelf.

Almost everything can be modified in Pop-up Album, from the cover of the book to the background behind the book to the material of the pages themselves. And, everything you add to the book is 3D pop-up, even the text.

Placing items is intuitive & when you’re done, you can turn on a slide-show feature to watch your creations pop up & fold down as the pages turn, all hands-free.

The book itself can be turned & looked at from almost every angle. This is a lot of fun to play with.

My 1 BIG Wish for Pop-up Album is additional fonts for the pop-up text you add. Right now, there is only 1 font :(

300+ handmade cards

300+ Handmade Cards HD (iPad; iPhone version here; $1.99 each)

There are FREE lite versions of this app, but I didn’t include them because they literally let you look at 1 card & 1 card only, which is ridiculous & useless.

However, if you buy the full app & get a good look at all of the cards, you’ll be charmed.

The whole app looks kid-drawn & is set up like a school room. You can choose crayon-drawn cards in 16 categories to send via email or Facebook.

This is a simple app. There are no adjustments to be made on the cards. You just pick a picture card you like & send it off. You can add the cards you like best to the Favorites section & you can watch all the cards in a slide-show.

300+ is a really cute app! I think people who just want a card to send with no extra work will absolutely love this app, because there is just nothing else you can do with it. The crayon-drawn art is what really sets 300+ apart from the pack.

UPDATE: My face is red! This has never happened to me before, but when checking links, I also found that this app is no longer offered in the U.S. App Store.

cards HD for ipad

cards HD ipad

Lifelike Cards HD Free for iPad (iPad only, FREE; pro version here, $3.99)

Now, this app is absolutely going to WOW you! Lifelike Cards HD has thousands of gorgeous images from Flickr organized into every category imaginable & arranged on a realistic-looking 3D rotating card rack. It even squeaks as you turn it around in a circle!

The FREE version of Lifelike Cards HD (it just says Cards HD in the App Store) lets you browse cards for the current holiday (which is still Father’s Day, right now).

No matter the holiday or reason for needing a card, the full version of Lifelike Cards HD has you covered.

You can browse cards by category, occasion, & place (there are more than 100 cities). Each time you change the category with the drop-down lists at the top (top photo), the 3D rack fills up with new cards. Spin it, scroll down the rack, & browse until you find the perfect card.

When you find a card you like, you can choose to to just save the photo or email it to someone, or you can make it into a postcard or greeting card to be personalized & digitally sent to whomever you choose (bottom photo above). The options for personalizing the card are astonishing.

You can change the color of the background & accents, change the style of the accents, make the font bigger or smaller, change the color of the ink, & pick from a long list of original & realistic-looking handwriting fonts. With these fonts, the completed card looks just like you wrote it all by hand.

Hit send & you can email it, Tweet it, post it to Facebook, or print it out with an AirPrint-enabled printer.

I’d LOVE to see this app team up with a company like Sincerely, so you could send these cards for real.

draw it on Facebook

Draw It On Facebook (universal, FREE)

You don’t need to have a great deal of skill at drawing or painting to create original statuses to share using Draw It On Facebook. This FREE, ad-free app gives you plenty of help so you can surprise your friends, even if all you can draw are stick figures.

If you press the button that looks like a stack of photos, you will discover a ton of backgrounds, outlines, & accents that you can use to color around, paint, or write a message on.

Get creative & you’ll have an awesome, original Facebook status in no time.

The palette spins to give you a choice of colors & tools to draw/paint with. Press the f button when you’re ready to post & you can post it with no comment or add a comment to explain yourself. You can also choose where to share it & tag friends.

A few things I’d like to see improved in this app: a more mature & refined user interface that doesn’t look like a kid’s coloring app; a color-picker that doesn’t limit you to a few choices on a spinner; & at least 1 more tool to let you handwrite or draw thinner lines.

The interface for picking a background/accent needs to be overhauled, too. Right now, you have as much luck finding things by randomly pressing buttons as you do trying to systematically look through all the options.

But, even with the problems, you won’t find another app like Draw It in the App Store currently. It’s a ton of fun & will surprise your Facebook friends.

funny status updater

Funny Status Updater (universal, FREE)

There are a zillion apps available in the App Store to provide you with a funny/clever/unusual/wise/etc. Facebook status’ to use. This app isn’t like all the others.

Funny Status Updater is a Mad Libs-style status creator. You can choose a category (or press random), but after that, you’re flying blind.

There are no lists of statuses to comb through. You just get a page that asks you for a few words. Once you fill in the blanks with the verb/adjective/person/noun/etc. that are asked for, you press Done & like magic, up pops your status, ready to be posted.

The funniest status I’ve created so far is a quote: “platypus is fleeting, but omelet is forever.” — Napoleon

You don’t have to publish every status you create. Just like Mad Libs, some results are hilarious, while others fall flat.

SOS one click

SOS One Click (iPhone only, FREE with in-app purchases)

A mini-detour in my research took me to a group of safety apps where I indulged my raging paranoia (& accidentally dialed 911 while testing an app).

My favorite of the safety bunch is definitely SOS One Click, a new app that was released in April. You set up One Click by entering your personal information, trusted contacts (can be imported from Contacts), types of emergency situations you may encounter, emergency telephone numbers & emergency messages for different situations.

To add more than 1 trusted contact, you must upgrade through an in-app purchase of 99 cents.

If an emergency strikes, you’ll be prepared.

All you have to do is open the app & press Text and/or Email to send the appropriate emergency message. With the message, your location via a map link & address is sent to your trusted contacts. All of this only takes 1 or 2 button pushes.

If you’ve signed into Facebook, Twitter, or Sina Weibo, you can also press Share so that your emergency message & location are sent to your social network friends.

Press Call to dial 911 or any other emergency number you’ve selected. (It immediately dials, so don’t press it unless you really need to call them!)

The only thing missing from One Click is an alarm to surprise attackers & attract help from nearby people.

iSocialize+

iSocialize+ (iPhone only, 99 cents; FREE version here)

iSocialize+ is a powerhouse app. There’s no way I could even begin to cover everything it does in a few short paragraphs. But, I’ll try :)

What iSocialize+ does:

  • combines full apps for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, & Google+, with the ability to update your status on all 4 networks with 1 tap.
  • includes ability to search YouTube, find images via keywords, search animated emoticons, add frames & effects to your photos, filter your voice, play your music, find famous quotes, search database of jokes & fun facts, read the news, get birthday reminders for your friends, send virtual gifts, & print & ship real postcards.

iSocialize+ has the content & abilities equivalent to 16 different apps all from 1 central control station. You don’t have to check 4 different apps to know what’s going on with your social networks, & you don’t have to buy single apps to get great content to share on those networks. It’s all available right inside iSocialize+.

iUploader

iUploader (iPhone only, FREE)

This is another app that does the work of many apps all from 1 location. iUploader can shoot, edit, & share as many photos & videos as you want on Facebook (walls, albums, & pages), Twitter, Tumblr, & email all at once.

Take photos or select photos from your Camera Roll & share as many as you want all at once with each of the networks you select.

You can even create albums, add comments, & tag friends before you upload the photos. iUploader can do all of the uploading in the background while you move on to other things. If enabled, iUploader will send you a notification when all of your photos are done uploading.

UPDATE: I just noticed that the developer has discontinued support of this app in favor of a newer app that I like much less. This does not mean that iUploader will not work. It just means that it will no longer get updates or receive support for problems you may encounter.

Flickr Studio (iPad only, $2.99)

This is not a new app to me. In fact, I discovered that I already owned it during this search extravaganza, which was great. There is no offical Flickr app for the iPad like there is for the iPhone, which means if you want to manage your Flickr account & upload photos on the iPad, you need a 3rd-party app. Flickr Studio is by far the best that I found & has very high user ratings in the App Store, as well.

Flickr Studio lets you browse Flickr for interesting photos in many different ways. But, the thing that sets it apart from the rest is the studio section that lets you manage your Flickr account & upload photos, among other things.

Also, Flickr Studio not only lets you batch upload (in the background while the app is closed, no less), but it also lets you batch edit cutlines & add tags to each photo, in addition to providing basic photo editing capabilities. This is really the standout feature I was looking for in a Flickr app for the iPad & it even exceeds the abilities of the official iPhone Flickr app.

Voice Dictation (universal, 99 cents)

If you’re using a newer device & a newer iOS, you may find all these voice dictation apps a bit unnecessary. After all, every screen that has text input also has that little microphone key next to the spacebar that lets you enter text with your voice anyway, right?

This is true, but Voice Dictation by Smart Loft is a very simple, eminently usable app that you may find helpful to use as a message-sharing control center.

With this 1 app, you can decide if you want to send a message by text, email, post to Facebook, or Tweet. The bonus for me is that it reminds me to use my voice in the 1st place. I don’t know how many times I’ve sent a text or email only to realize I could’ve used the voice key, but forgot. When you open an app like this, it’s hard to forget what your intentions are.

There are few controls to this app. Simply choose how you want to send your message, who you want to send it to, & press the button to start dictating. The app has incredible recognition & lets you use the keyboard to make any corrections, if they are necessary. Plus, you can switch the input language among quite a selection of languages.

Voice for Facebook (iPhone, FREE)

I don’t make a habit of reviewing apps I haven’t used, so I feel a little stupid about doing this, but here I go. I downloaded the Voice for Facebook app because it sounds very unique & more than a little awesome. Its ratings are almost 5-star in the App Store. But (and here’s where I feel stupid), I haven’t been able to accomplish what should be a simple task: signing up for the FREE service.

The app (NOT iPhone 5 friendly, which I hate) has quite a bit to fill out when you 1st open it up, but that’s not where the sign-up ends. I tried hitting the Speak tab in the app & it connected me to the service, which didn’t recognize my phone number, so it sent me a text to register. I tried to use the link in the text, but that took me nowhere useful. So, I went directly to the developer website & filled out the little form you see in the photo above. But, when I hit the link to connect Facebook with the service, Safari seemed to have a seizure.

Anyway, I’ll continue to work on it & I’ll contact the developers, but I wanted to include the app because it is very cool.

Voice for Facebook lets you connect via a phone call to your Facebook account, through which you can then listen to your News Feed, update your status by voice (it posts a link to your voice recording, not a dictation of what you said), & you can even like posts by others & leave voice recorded comments!

Due to the extreme coolness of the app & the fact that I may just be mucking up the sign-up, I still encourage you to try Voice for Facebook. It’s FREE, so what can it hurt? And, if you figure out how to sign up, you can teach me what I’m doing wrong :)

BunnyFacebook (iPhone, FREE)

This is an app that may only appeal to a certain part of the population (or a certain part of each of us that may be better kept hidden), but it is very different, & I couldn’t help but include it in my list of App Store finds.

Bunny Facebook is an app that brings the BUNNY BURNit platform found online to your iPhone. What it does is let you post a status to Facebook with a self-destruct button, so to speak. You just write what you want to write & add a photo, if you choose. Then, you set the message to “volatile” & adjust the volatility timing (when it will be deleted). Said status posts to your profile via BunnyFacebook & then auto-deletes when the volatility timing is up. You can set the timing as low as 1 minute.

I’ll let you use your imagination (be nice!) as to how this app could be used in funny ways.

There is a Pro version called Bunny Pro (for Facebook) that is ad-free & has optional auto-tagging. Auto-tagging removes app-added message which tells how many minutes until your status will be auto-deleted from Facebook.

Cardstore Greeting Cards (iPhone, FREE)

This little app may look familiar if you’re a user of the app justWink Greeting Cards. This is because both apps are by American Greetings (a company that is definitely beating the pants off its competitors in the cool app-building department).

justWink is filled with quirky, humorous cards with a twist; Cardstore is its straight-forward & often heart-warming cousin. Just like justWink, you can open any card & view every side of it by swiping & tapping through it. You’ll find the same system for adding your own typed message & hand-written signature inside the card, plus the ability to add a photo on the inside of the cover of the card.

And, just like justWink, you can send a real, printed copy of the card via snail mail for about $3.50, postage included. The only unfortunate part of this app is that it does NOT allow you to email the card to someone for FREE instead. To send a card, all you have to do is set up an account 1st (just a username & password).

If you don’t have time to make it to the store for a birthday card or you just want to save yourself the trip, Cardstore (& justWink) are great ways to send cards for any occasion. They are just as economical, as well, when you consider the amount you spend on a card, plus postage (plus driving time & gas).

Flower Garden – Grow Flowers and Send Bouquets (universal, $2.99; FREE version here)

If you’re looking for both a relaxing game & an alternative to the standard email greeting cards, you should definitely try Flower Garden (check out the FREE version 1st with its more limited types of included seeds & gardens).

There are a lot of apps that let you simulate growing everything from crops to flowers, but very few have found a way to let you use what you’ve produced virtually.

Flower Garden lets you grow flowers (a limited amount of seed types at 1st, increasing in variety as you “play”) & when they’re finished growing, you can cut them, arrange them in bouquets, & send the virtual bouquets to friends & family via email.

There are a lot of things I could tell you about how you grow the flowers, the different gardens you can grow them in, & how you get seed varieties, but that’ll take a full review. You’re all very clever though. I’m sure you’ll figure out how to use everything if you’re motivated.

SociaLink for Facebook and LinkedIn (iPhone, FREE)

If you’re an active social media user (& who isn’t these days?), you’ve probably met someone & either thought, “I wish I knew how to find them on …” or you’ve looked for them on Facebook or whatever & couldn’t find them because they have a common spelling to their name or you wrote down the spelling wrong or whatever.

SociaLink helps rid you of that problem. Now, when you meet someone whom you wish to connect with on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr, you can instantly find them via Bluetooth (if they have SociaLink) & send friend requests or follow them.

It’s akin to exchanging social business cards. If they don’t have the app, you can share all of your social media profile links, along with a link to SociaLink, via email. It’s like having an unlimited supply of social media business cards with up-to-date info on each of your social media profiles at your disposal.

secure.me for Facebook (iPhone, FREE)

You’re may be thinking, “not Another Facebook app,” but I assure you that this 1 is worth it (but, I guess I think that of all the ones I featured, though, huh?). This app is less about Facebook, though, & more about your security both on Facebook & in using apps.

What secure.me does is scan all the apps you have connected to your Facebook account (both apps you use on Facebook & apps on your device that connect to Facebook for various reasons). It then tells you the reputation of the app based on a number of factors.

It lets you know which apps have access to personal data & what actions each app can perform. It’ll even tell you if the app has sent requests or invites to your friends.

secure.me also scans your friend’s profiles to see how many have secure networks & how many do not (only 11 of more than 300 friends are secure according to my personal scan).

The app also helps you be secure before you connect by letting you search for apps by name so you can see what their reputation is before you use them. If they have a poor reputation, secure.me tells you exactly why that is & how many reports have been made.

The End (almost)

Well, that’s it for my arrival back at iOS Affairs. Hopefully this lengthy read doesn’t sway you from meeting me back here tomorrow for another look at another app.

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

Another 6 iOS Games You Should Play

Tracy:

I'm reblogging this useful & funny iOS game review both because of my writing absence (have you noticed?) & because Hedge (the writer) is one of my favorite bloggers at Funk's House of Geekery.

His taste in games may vary a bit from mine at times, but he is an excellent writer (he actually knows how to use commas correctly. oops my copy editor genes are showing) & he reviews games from almost every genre.

His knowledge of gaming history is extensive & I often have know idea what he is referring to, but I trust that he knows that from which he speaks.

So, enjoy this review of 6 iOS games you should give a try. I'm going to play Paper Monsters right now.

Originally posted on Funk's House of Geekery:

by Hedge

iOS. It’s becoming more of a legitimate gaming platform by the day. Since the last article of this nature got such a welcome response, I’ve been thinking of, and listing up, games ever since although honestly I’ve been playing so much Prison Architect that everything else in my life has come second place. Sorry family, friends and employment.

But recently I’ve been exploring the platform again. More specifically, this past weekend where I found myself in the Perth Apple store, leeching their wifi to finish the download of KOTOR – more on that soon.

So here, for your perusal, are six more iOS games you should give a shot. Maybe not as obscure as the previous list, nor as long, but still a really good collection no matter what kind of games you enjoy.

Carcassonne

By The Coding Monkeys

Available for iPad/iPhone

Played on iPad

Slowly conquering the world one little blue guy at a time.

I’ve recently, partly…

View original 1,555 more words

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

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, … 

Guest Post: iOS 7: Skeuomorphic Designs That May Disappear

Hello readers, Tracy here. I wanted to introduce this last guest post, because, well, it will be the last guest post for a long, long while (sorry about the scads of email I need to return to people who really deserved to know this 1st). Don’t get me wrong. It’s a wonderful post full of a lot of insight (even if I did have to look up the word skeuomorphic, which, in design speak, means imitating features of 1 object when designing a different object).

However, I’ve just gotten overwhelmed at the guest post submissions I’ve received & decided that it is better to just say no to all than to be unfair or to drive myself crazier than I already am. So, enjoy this wonderful analysis of what could lie ahead for us when we get a peek at iOS 7, because after this, you’re just stuck with me again :)

Now, on with the show …


Say what you want about the faux wood-grain effect in the iBook app, I quite enjoy it. This is just one of many apps that JonyIve may be getting rid of in the release of iOS 7. The concept of the new operating system is rumored to be a reflection of JonyIve’s simplistic designs of the past. Although iOS does need an overhaul in order to stay competitive against the likes of Windows and Android, does it really need to lose the flare and luster that many of us enjoy?


iMovie
1. iMovie - The iMovie app looks like the front of a movie theater that you may see passing by on the street. Just looking at the screen makes me feel like I need to buy some popcorn. Although many are eagerly waiting simplistic design for the app, it’s going to be hard for me to say goodbye. The wrecking ball is swaying into the theater and paving the way for “innovation” once again. As long as Apple doesn’t put up a Starbucks in its place, I suppose I can live with the change.


Newsstand
2. Newsstand - The only thing I would personally change on the Newsstand feature is perhaps adding those metal revolving devices that hold magazine that you can spin. Aside from that, I like the aesthetics of the wood-grain shelves holding the magazines that interest me the most. I suppose after this new roll-out, I’ll be left with just touching an icon that represents the magazine title.


Game Center
3. Game Center - The Game Center look and feel is perhaps one of the only things I would change in iOS. However, I wouldn’t get rid of the skeumorphic process altogether. Maybe Apple could beef it up a bit as not everyone realizes what a card table may look like. I suppose moving game icons into their own area like Android has is the way of the future? Almost feels like Apple plans on alienating the ones who bought into iOS because it was so flashy.


Podcasts
4. Podcasts - The tape real has always been one of my favorite uses on iOS. I suppose that is showing my age since I know what one of these devices is. However, shouldn’t we teach our children where technology originated from as part of our culture? I suppose the Podcasts app could look better and be designed for this generation, but don’t do away with the graphical flare entirely.


Page turning
5. Page Turning - As I love to read books, this is a graphical enhancement I hope remains, but I doubt it will. The visual of the page turning within the iDevice keeps us grounded as to where books originated from without the use of digital download. It’s an elegant flow of motion that many may take for granted. However, it is one of those features that makes iOS what it is and is not reminiscent of other devices.


Notes
6. Notes - This is another aesthetic enhancement that many think we can do without. Of course we can deal with it, but then it wouldn’t be the iOS Notes that I like to use. If I wanted a plain white surface to type my notes on, I’d load up Notepad on my PC. Even the sticky-pad may be on the chopping block – although I still use the real-life versions regularly. How much more creativity needs to be erased in order to provide a stable system environment?


Contacts
7. Contacts - I remember having a book of all my contacts in alphabetical order with tabs declaring what part of the alphabet each page pertained to. I suppose I just have to realize that today’s culture would rather have the chrome and creative-less face to apps and functions. Am I too old for artistic modification of technology? Are there really that many people in the world who would prefer not having the flash and individuality that Apple has provided me throughout the years?

8. Flattened Look - Many are drawn to the appeal of Windows 8 because of its ease of use and flattened look. Personally, I think it looks a bit bland and faceless. Differentiating colored boxes to represent the most common elements for you to click on makes the OS look like someone failed in designing new icons and graphics. I will never own a device that looks like something that should be in my child’s toy-box. When did we become a society of bland aesthetics and void of artistic expression? 

Simplistic. I suppose it could be a term that is used along side of innovation, but I’d rather see the effects-driven look and feel remain in iOS. One of the most attractive points to owning any iDevice is the creativity surrounding such apps and features. What should be an integrated feature is the ability to customize those apps and areas. Apple could give people ability to stick with tradition or move ahead with bland. Regardless of the appearance changes of iOS, a new version needs to be rolled out soon in order to encourage future sales. I just hope it is akin to functionality while keeping some of the graphical enhancements I’ve grown to love.

Author Bio:

Ken Myers is the founder of  http://www.longhornleads.com/ & has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to themHe doesn’t try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.

Guest Post: Top 5 Apps to Help You Produce Music

Producing quality music tracks was once a matter of learning complex theory and spending a significant amount of capital on the right equipment. Today, almost anyone can make music affordably and relatively simply. With the release of devices like the iPad, budding music makers have a variety of apps they can use to produce their own music. Here are five of the best apps for producing your own tracks.


1. GarageBand ($4.99)

GarageBand turns your iPad into alternative instruments, such as the keyboard, the drums, and various string instruments. It allows you to add in your own vocals and convert the results into a ringtone for only $4.99. It doesn’t have anything more than basic music editing capabilities, but it is easy to export a track into a dedicated music editor. Whilst the choice of instruments limits music makers to certain types of music, it’s a very good replication of the real thing.


2. Impaktor ($2.99)

One of the most innovative musical apps in the App Store, Impaktor is a fully-fledged drum synth. Using iOS multi-touch technology, Impaktor uses tapping on surfaces in order to register kicks, snares and hi-hats

Watch a video of the app here. 

Using your devices microphone the app allows you to play on whatever surface your iPad or iPhone is currently sitting on. This is a universal app, which means one price to pay to make complex loops and patterns on all of your devices.


3. SunVox ($5.99)

SunVox is a $5.99 professional music-making app allowing the composition of music, any time, any place. Immediately, the user is confronted by a complicated looking interface offering sequencers and synthesis tools. The output is of a high quality and it works with the iPad, Mac, and Android devices. Whilst it’s ideal for the professional, novices may find it painful while getting acquainted with some of the complicated colour coded buttons on the main interface.


4. Addictive Synth ($3.99)


Addictive Synth offer exactly what you would expect from a synth app; however, with itsimplistic design and GUI a novice user can really pick up and play with this app. There are still the normal knobs to twist and buttons to push, but it wouldn’t be much of a synth app if there weren’t. Addictive Synth comes with a few very strong features not least a powerfu larpeggiator and a spectral noise generator.

One of the great features of the app is the stock sounds with which to create your captivating melodies and bass grooves. Overall it’s a great app with a great friendly user interface.


5. AKAI iMPC ($4.99)


This retro throwback to the iconic Akai MPC range is a music geek’s dream. It’s really great to see the new retro designs for iOS apps. This iPad-only app is the closest you’ll get tuning a real-life MPC without spending hundreds of pounds.

While the app is an impressive replica of the Akai MPC range it quite difficult to do complex samples mainly due to the iPad’s size (it would be a good idea to secure your iPad down before use), however the nostalgic value you get with this app makes up for it. The sampling interface is really nice and clear just like the legendary MPC workflowThis is one of the best apps in the store for sheer entertainment value.


Overall, these five apps offer something different for the music maker. Some choose to focus on just a few types of instrument or music, whereas others offer a comprehensive studio. Deciding on the right app is a matter of determining one’s own personal requirements. 


Mark works as a music sample producer at Dance Midi Samples. After producing many music sample packs, Mark now shares his years of experience with others through guides and tutorials while offering free midi samples for the next generation of producers.

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:

Contaqs Is the Contacts Manager You’ve Been Looking For

Contaqs

I spent a great deal of time recently looking for a contacts manager. I have close to 150 contacts & I just wanted a better way to organize them, search them, & use them than Apple’s Contacts app. 

There are a ton of contacts managers & many of them are FREE or have FREE versions to try before you buy. Many of them integrate social functions like adding recent Facebook updates or Tweets, but I decided this was not a feature I needed. I think I may have downloaded just about all of the available FREE apps & a few paid ones to boot. 

Well, I finally hit the jackpot with Contaqs – the Contact Manager. It has absolutely everything I was looking for & more that I didn’t know I wanted until I got it. 

There is no FREE version of Contaqs to try, so I just had to take a leap & hope that Contaqs was a good app. My leap paid off in a big way. 

ContaqsContaqs

Contaqs is a universal app (photos above show main view on iPad & iPhone). There are very few contacts managers that are universal, so this is really quite a bonus feature for Contaqs. 

There are so many features packed into this “enhanched address book” that it is hard to know where to start. 

Let’s start with searching, which is the 1st thing you do when you open your Contacts app anyway. 

The list view (photos above) is quite beautiful & elegant, especially compared to the bare bones Apple Contacts list view. Contacts are displayed on mini-profile cards with their photo in a little circle & their main information available right on the card. 

If you’re just looking for a phone number or email address, you don’t even have to open the profile to find it in Contaqs. It’s right there on the mini-profile. 

Contaqs

Searching for someone in Contaqs is super easy. Just click the 3 lines in the top, left corner to open up the options menu.

From this menu, you can do just about everything. For searching, you can always just type the name into the search bar at the top of just about any screen & find the person easily. But, if you can’t happen to remember the name of the person you’re searching for, you’re in luck. 

There are also about a billion ways to search for people without knowing exactly who you’re looking for. Contaqs calls these Smart Lists & there are many of them. 

You can search for people using everything from family relationship & nickname to city & zip code. You can also search for all the contacts you have that have a birthday in their profile or all the contacts that don’t have an email or address listed, etc. You can even search for all the people who don’t have images in their profile. 

Contaqs puts badges after all the “without” Smart Lists, so you know exactly how many people you’re sorting through before you choose that list. 

Contaqs

One thing the iPhone version has that the iPad version is missing (at least I can’t find it) is a filter available from the main view of the contacts. 

The filter is located under the 3 lines that opens the options menu. When you press it, you get a list like the 1 in the photo. You can sort your contacts by everything from first & last name to company & city, plus many more. 

This filter then reorders your contacts list according to the filter you chose. 

The other thing the iPhone version has that the iPad does not makes a lot of sense. It has a Keypad accessible through the options menu. This allows you to directly dial your iPhone & make a call without leaving the app. 

I think my only wish for Contaqs is that when you finish making a call, texting someone, or sending an email, you would be returned to the place you were at in the app. I noticed this feature in 1 or 2 of the other apps I tested & I really liked it, but you can’t have everything. I’ll take Contaqs lovely user interface & seamless contacts management over my little wish any day. 

Contaqs

One last way to find people is by location. You can either search for all the contacts you have that are nearby (which brings up a map with the contacts listed to the left) or you can just bring up a map with pins on it locating all the contacts you have that have an address (photo above). 

Just click on any pin to see who the person is & click on the blue arrow to got to their profile information. You can even search for a specific person in the search bar, as long as that person has an address listed in their profile. 

ContaqsContaqs

Now that you’re done searching & have found the person you’re looking for, let’s look at how you can interact with the mini-profiles. 

When you’re just in the list view of contacts, the quickest way to get ahold of somebody is by swiping right on their little profile. This will open up an elegant little menu (left photo) that gives you the options of calling them, emailing them, & texting them. 

When you tap 1 of those options, you are taken to the appropriate Apple app that does that function (Phone, Email, Messages). Calls are made immediately. No dialing necessary. Texts & emails are started with that person’s information entered (if they have more than 1 way to contact them by a certain method, a pop-up of those options will come up for you to choose which 1 you want). 

You can also swipe to the left on the little profiles in list view. This brings up 2 options (right photo). The top option will create an email with that person’s contact information in a convenient card format ready to send to whomever. The bottom option lets you edit that person’s profile information. 

ContaqsContaqs

If you’d rather just view a person’s entire profile, just tap on their name in the list view to bring it up. 

The profiles have a cool little feature that lets you see the entire photo of the person instead of just the little circle. Just grab the circle & pull down to make the photo above it grow larger (left photo). 

Another neat feature available in the profile view is a button to add the person to your home screen. Pressing it brings up a web page in Safari with a square photo icon & the person’s name. From there, you just follow the directions to add the button to your iDevice’s home screen. 

That means that you then don’t even have to open Contaqs to contact that person. You just press the icon on your home screen to call the person & it also opens that person’s profile in Contaqs. 

You can also edit a person’s profile from the profile view. Just click the pencil to start editing (right photo). This brings up all the fields that are available in Apple’s Contacts app & lets you add a photo if you have 1. 

Contaqs

There are 3 main ways to view your contacts in Contaqs. Just open the options menu to choose whether to view your Favorites, all your Contacts, or Groups of contacts. There are badges next to each 1 to tell you how many people or groups are in each view. 

ContaqsContaqs

Putting people into groups is very easy. You can press & hold on a contact in the list view & just drag them up to a group (left photo), if you have groups already made. You can also drag them to the delete button to get rid of them. 

Additionally, you can press the pencil in the list view & tap the circle next to each name you want to put in a group. Then, you just press the word Contacts at the top of the screen to bring up a menu that lets you add the selected people to a group, to Favorites, or just contact those people using email or text (right photo). You can also Copy the selected people & Send their information to others via email.

If you need to create groups from scratch, just go to the Groups view from the options menu & choose Add Group at thee bottom of the screen. Creating groups is great if you frequently need to contact a group of people all at once or for finding people quickly based on group affiliation. 

Contaqs

Oh no! I forgot to tell you how to add a new contact. I guess that’s a pretty basic thing you’ll need to do. 

Creating a new contact is as simple as pressing the + button in the top, right corner of almost any screen. You can also open the options menu & choose New Contact right at the top of the list. Then, just enter the information & click the checkmark to finish. 

Contaqs

There are 3 more features in Contaqs that are both essential & cool. 

Near the bottom of the options menu you’ll find the selection to Backup your contacts list. Backing up your contacts list is relatively quick & creates a file that you can email to yourself as an attachment & save somewhere in case you ever lose your iDevice or for some other reason lose your contacts. 

Below the Backup option is an option to Remove Duplicates. This cool feature scans your contact list & alerts you to any duplicates that exist. You can then choose what you want to delete. 

Contaqs

The last feature is just plain cool & quite a bonus feature for a contacts manager.

Contaqs has several ways to keep track of the birthdays of your contacts. You can see all the birthdays you have added to your contacts in list form by selecting Birthdays in the options menu. You can also just view Upcoming Birthdays to see birthdays that are happening soon.

But, the best way to view birthdays in Contaqs is using the Birthday Calendar (photo above). You can flip through the months & see everyone who has a birthday in a given month. Click on the day that has a picture on it & the contact information for that person pops up under the calendar. It’s really very cool!

Contaqs

The very last selection in the options menu is Settings. The Settings menu has loads of useful things you can set for your preferences for Contaqs. 

The 1st thing in Settings is Accounts. This shows you which accounts you have linked to your contacts (like iCloud or Exchange). You can choose to have Contaqs show all the contacts in every account or just the contacts in a certain account. 

Secondly, you can choose which of the 3 main views Contaqs opens to: Favorites, Groups, or Contact list. On the iPhone, you can also choose to have the app open to the Keypad, instead. 

Under My Contact, you can choose which contact is yours by selecting from the list under Set My Contact. 

Turn on the Birthday Reminder to have Contaqs alert you when a contact’s birthday is nearing. Once you turn it on, you can choose the reminder time, day, & sound of the alert tone. 

Deleting the cache can really save you some space in the memory footprint of the app. 

Under the Support section, you’ll find frequently asked questions, what’s new in the most recent update, a walkthrough for the app (which I guess you don’t need now), & a link to send suggestions to the developer. 

Phew! That was quite the walkthrough! If there’s a feature I missed telling you about in Contaqs, I just won’t believe it. 

It was a long, hard search to find a contacts manager that met all of my expectations, but Contaqs made it all worth it. Contaqs is beautiful to look at, easy to use, & has features that make keeping in touch with your family & friends fun. Take the leap & try Contaqs today. 

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