This column was published Dec. 7, 2010, in The Oklahoman. Find it at NewsOK.com.
Everywhere I go, people are enjoying the hundreds, if not thousands, of mobile photo applications, whether they’re using them to take pictures or edit them, or both.
If you have an iPhone, Android-compatible phone, iPad or iPod Touch, there’s probably an app for you to join the craze just in time to create your own Christmas card.
Here are some I like, and I’ll share more in the coming weeks.
Crop for Free (free, Thinking Drone): This app does exactly what it says: It will crop your photo, and you can rotate it to get the image you want out of the one you took.
Photogene: ($1.99, Omer Shoor): I love this one. Sharpen, straighten, crop, blur, add borders, add conversation bubbles with text and more with this all-inclusive app.
Adobe Photoshop Express (free, Adobe Systems): Called PS Express for short, this app is a mobile photo-editing version from the people who have the gold standard photo-editing program, Photoshop. You can make basic edits, add a few additional techniques and share online.
Color Splash: (99 cents, Pocket Pixels): A friend has posted neat photos using this program. It turns your photo into black and white, and then you can choose to add splashes of color back to it. I think I might need the tutorials to figure it out, but they are available, and the effects that I have seen are worth the time.
And when you’re through editing your photos, try uploading them via apps such as Flickr (free, Yahoo), DailyBoothApp (free, DailyBooth) or Instagram (free, Burbn) and sharing them with friends or strangers.
Stay tuned for more to come in this column. While you’re waiting, check out Hipstamatic for taking pictures and SwankoLab for editing them (both $1.99 from Synthetic Infatuation) on your own. These popular apps are among those that let you create some unusual effects.
If you have a favorite photo app, please e-mail the name of it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll check it out. Find more online at blog.newsok.com/get-appy.
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Assistant Features Editor
From the archives
EDITOR’S NOTE: This Get App-y column, the first one, was originally published in The Oklahoman on Feb. 8, 2010. However, I’m still enjoying this game. Read new Get App-y columns on most Tuesdays in print and online at NewsOK.com/life.
Game can be played on iPod with app
By Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Assistant Features Editor
So many apps, so little time. How can you sort through the thousands of apps in the iTunes store for the ones that will make your life easier, more fun, or both?
I’m here to help. Each week, I’ll feature an app or two that I’m enjoying on my iPod Touch.
App of the week: Words With Friends (Newtoy Inc., $2.99 for the ad-free version but free if you can stand the annoying ads. Works with iPhone and iPod touch with a wi-fi connection).
I should call this entry “addiction of the week.” Since I downloaded it last week (February 2010), I’ve been checking my iPod regularly to see which opponent has made a move on “Words With Friends” so I can take my turn at this Scrabble-like game. One day I was more excited than I should have been that I had the tiles to form the word “enzyme” for 123 points. Hopefully, moments such as that will not always be my day’s highlight.
Play this game back and forth like the famous crossword-style board game. Scrabble players, you know the drill: Take turns playing lettered tiles to form words. New words must be formed from existing words. Earn points for the quality of letters played, and double or triple your score for playing tiles on certain squares.
The beauty of this game is you play it on your own timetable with anyone who has an iPod touch or iPhone. You play your tiles and wait for friends (or strangers) to play theirs, a setup that makes it perfect for busy moms and dads who just have pockets of downtime here and there — in the carpool line, at the doctor’s office.
Play one game or many at the same time. Choose your opponent or find a random one. Chat inside each game if you want to get more personal.
For extra help, download a dictionary app such as dictionary.com (free) so you can know instantly what a strange word such as “qi” means when your friend plays it on a triple word square for 33 points.
If you have an app you’d like me to try out, or if you wish you had one that did a particular task, e-mail me at email@example.com.
If you have small children and are interested in classic stories like “Peter Rabbit” or classic illustrations, then you might want to check out Once Upon an App on the iTunes store.
Today only, in honor of Black Friday, Once Upon an App is offering all of its apps FREE to anyone with an iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone. No strings attached.
My children are older now and past the age of the audience for these apps, so I haven’t tried out many of them, but since they’re free for one day – Friday, Nov. 26, you have nothing to lose by checking them out yourself. Here are some of the titles:
“Classic Nursery Rhymes”
“The Tale of Peter Rabbit Special Edition”
“The Nativity, the Story of the Birth of Jesus, and Christmas”
“Piffle’s ABC Book of Funny Animals”
“Learning Colors With Fruits”
“Learning Colors With Vegetables”
Enjoy, and if you hear any more Black Friday app deals, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post a comment below.
There’s no shortage of zombie-related apps available on the iTunes store — at least 180 or so, and many of them want to eat your brains. My favorites are Zombie Farm and Plants vs. Zombies, as I talked about in my Get App-y column today.
To fully enjoy zombies live, you had to have been in New York City today to witness a march of them on the Brooklyn Bridge and in Madison Gardens. These zombies paraded in order to promote Sunday night’s premier of AMC’s new television series, “The Walking Dead.”
But if you weren’t there, and you can’t wait to see the show on Sunday, then check out some of these mobile apps on your iPhone or iPod Touch:
I understand the appeal of this top-rated game with strong graphics, good writing and interesting strategy. Each zombie and each plant have a great story, like this one: “Despite Grave Buster’s fearsome appearance, he wants everyone to know that he loves kittens and spends his off hours volunteering at a local zombie rehabilitation center.” Zombies approach, and you pick the plants that you’re going to need to plant in your garden to defend your home. You have to pick the right combination of plants that shoot zombies, provide sunlight and more to win each level. The more you play, the more types of zombies attack and the more plants you can use to blow them up, shoot them, freeze them or squash them.
• Zombie Farm (free, The PlayForge). Like We Rule and Farmville, you plant crops, earn money and build your farm. The twist is you can also plant different types of zombies and go invading. If you don’t harvest in time, your crops, including the zombies, wither. Although it’s free, you’re going to be tempted to spend real money to buy more brains to be able to do more things, but it’s fun at the free level, too.
• ZombieSmash ($1.99, Gamedoctors): I haven’t tried this one, but creators describe it as “an undead-themed castle defense game for the iPhone and iPod Touch that casts players as Joey, a lone survivor pit against a herd of writhing, unrelenting zombies. To defeat the undead masses, players must use their fingers to flick and smash them until they’re un-undead.” It’s graphics include cartoon blood and gore and “ragdoll physics” and it looks like it has enough to keep you entertained for awhile.
• Vuvuzela vs. Zombies (free, Undergames, also known as Undercoders): You use the South African vuvuzela instrument, complete with the noise that became famous during last summer’s World Cup, to fight the zombies that attack as they march across a soccer field. The vuvzela noise blows off their head with a little cartoon-y blood. Vuvuzelas. Zombies. There’s not much more to say about this cute game that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
• Zombie Duck Hunt (free, W3 Innovations): The ducks (and geese, bats and quail) are the zombies, and you use rifles to shoot them. The idea behind it is more fun than the execution, although there’s enough help built into the app to figure it out if you want to take the time. Plus, you can download it now with a “Halloween edition.”
• Zombie Shock (full app for $1.99, lite version for free, Blue Wind): It looks like this one has the gore that the others are missing. The app tells its story in graphic novel format, and it’s an action-adventure format with zombie chases, weapons and more. I downloaded it but didn’t try it out — it’s a little too serious for me, and I’ve been stuck on Plants vs. Zombies and Zombie Farm.
• Cat-Nabbin’ Zombies (free, IronBright software): The zombies are after your cats in this game, but my finger kept hitting the ads instead of the gun, which got annoying very quickly. But it’s free.
• Zombie Uprising (free, Zimusoft) . This game feels like a developer’s first effort. It’s simple, but the pace is good. See how many days you can survive against the zombie attack before you’re infected. Not bad, but wait to see what this developer comes up with next.
• Angry Zombies ($1.99 with a free lite version, Si-Yeon Kim) In this game, the zombies are killing the humans, which makes me like zombies even less.
There are so many zombie apps in the iTunes store that there’s one bound to appeal to you. But if you really live in a world where these creatures are real, there’s an audio book that you can download for $17.95: “The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead,” by Max Brooks, apparently the son of funnyman Mel Brooks.
And with that, I will bury the zombies for good and hope they don’t come back to haunt me this Halloween.
If you have any favorite zombie or Halloween apps, leave a comment below. Check this blog throughout the week for more of the scary and fun.
~ Lillie-Beth (email@example.com)
News is out today that several of Facebook’s popular applications are sending users’ data to advertisers and Internet tracking companies outside of the social networking site’s boundaries. A capsule of the story is online here, and Facebook is busy responding to the complaints unearthed during an investigation by The Wall Street Journal. The larger story about your online data is from a Journal series called “What They Know,” which features a look how companies are tracking our personal information and what they’re doing with it.
The Journal’s stories looked at the practice of scraping data from online sites, the extensive online tracking going on at children’s sites and the advertising dollars that fuel it, and more. The entire report is worth checking out on the Jounral’s “What They Know” page, complete with stories, photos and videos.
Back to the Facebook debacle, it’s telling what Jim Adler, chief privacy officer of Intelius, Inc., a leading paid people-search website, told The Wall Street Journal reporters in one of the series’ stories, on scraping.
“Social networks are becoming the new public records,” he said.
These stories confirm yet again that none of us can lead a true private life online, even though many of us use Facebook to connect with friends on a personal level. It’s still up to you how much you share, where you click and whether you care that an advertiser knows your likes and dislikes. The online world is fun and vibrant, but it’s good to be reminded to be aware.
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dog gets help singing with LaDiDa mobile app, nominated for Billboard’s Best Music Creation app. Winners posted below video.
In a recent Get App-y column (posted below on this blog), I talked about Billboard’s first-ever mobile app awards. Here are the winners, along with the nominees. Whether they won or not, if you’re into music, check them out, and let me know which ones you like. Winners are in red.
Best Music Engagement App:
Tap Tap Revenge 3
SoundHound Infinity √
Mix Me In2 Taylor Swift
(From Lillie-Beth: All three of these are worth playing around with. SoundHound might be less well known than Shazam, but it does the same thing very well. It’s the one I use. My daughter has also had fun with the Taylor Swift app, too, while my son likes the Tap Tap series, which is like Guitar Hero for the mobile device.)
Best Music Creation App:
(I’m not familiar with the winner MorphWiz or AmpliTude iRig, but LaDiDa comes from a former Oklahoman, who, with her husband, designed an app to make singers of all types sound better.
As for the rest of these apps, I haven’t done much with them — R5 and Bonnaroo are for specific events and/or the music scene in specific cities, and the music streaming apps often require subscription. I have a subscription to Pandora and iTunes and that’s it for now.)
Best Music Streaming App:
Best Touring App:
Live Phish √
Best Artist-based App:
Linkin Park 8-Bit Revolution
I Am T-Pain √
TouchChords: Jimmy Vaughan
Best Branded App:
50s Sound Lab
Let me know if you have any more music apps that you like.
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman (email@example.com)
This Get App-y column originally was published on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010, in The Oklahoman
Get App-y: Enjoy and explore music with apps nominated for Billboard’s mobile awards
By Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Since 1894, Billboard has been delivering music news in the form of popular music charts such as the Top 100 and artist features. It’s fitting that more than 100 years later, the publication (and website) has turned its attention to mobile music applications.
Today, Billboard will announce its first music app awards at its Mobile Entertainment Live!: The Music App Summit in San Francisco. Eighteen innovative apps across most all platforms are nominated in best categories for artist, music streaming, touring, music creation, music engagement and branded music apps.
Whether you’re into singing, playing instruments, categorizing your music or listening to songs, there are thousands of music apps out there to explore. Among the Billboard nominees are music apps for specific bands (Linkin Park, T-Pain, Phish and a guitar tutorial app featuring blues guitar-ist Jimmy Vaughan) or for the music scene and festivals in specific cities.
Two of Billboard’s nominees I have mentioned in Get App-y before:LaDiDa ($2.99, Khush), developed by a former Oklahoman, Prerna Gupta, and her husband, Parag Chordia, is up for best music creation app. It continues to get attention for its ability to take anyone’s singing and make it sound better.SoundHound Infinity ($4.99, Melodis Corp.), nominated for best music engagement app, which “listens” to songs you hear and tells you what they are and who sings them. A nominee that has potential for fun is Mix Me In2 Taylor Swift ($1.99, Fried Green Apps). It is nominated for best music engagement app. If you like the country singer, you’ll enjoy this app. I can see the idea being successful with different artists. Select one of Swift’s songs (the app comes with two), and you can choose how you want to hear it — the original way or with styles such as acoustic, rock, urban, coffee house or piano mixes. Add or subtract instruments to make your own mix, or record your voice and sing along with Swift.
If you own a smart phone, chances are pretty good you’ve downloaded the Pandora Internet music service app onto it. And whether you enjoy the music from your mobile device or on your desktop, you’re in good company with the more than 60 million people who now use the service. I started enjoying it pre-iPod/mp3 music players to find new music I liked and to be able to listen to all kinds of music at once, instead of just what was on the radio.
Founded by Tim Westergren in 2000, the popular service tailors Internet radio stations that you create based on your musical likes and dislikes. It compares those with the 600,000 songs it has analyzed as part of its “Music Genome Project” and generates songs for your station, some familiar and some that are probably new to you.
Now Pandora is offering “genre stations” of songs based on musical genre. You can launch a station by choosing “alternative” or “Christian” or “hip hop” and then narrowing down your interests even more. As you like or dislike songs on these stations, you can keep personalizing the station and let it play in the background while you work.
To get started, go to http://www.pandora.com type in a song or an artist, hit play and your station is off and running, playing familiar artists or ones that Pandora predicts you’ll like based on your choices. If you like a song, tag it with a “thumbs up,” and it will adjust the station accordingly. The same goes for “thumbs down.”
I realize that if you have an iPhone or an Android, or even a desktop computer on which you listen to music, you probably know all this, but it doesn’t hurt to recap. And now that selecting genre is an option, you’re halfway to a robust radio station.
And once you’ve signed up for Pandora, while you’re on the site, you might even learn something else about music, such as what a “g-funk synth line” is in the site’s glossary.
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
You may have read in The Oklahoman today my “Get App-y” column on open source software. If you haven’t, I’ve included it in a separate post, but here is more information about “open source”:
1) Open source software can be better than the original, especially if you’re willng to dig to find out how to use it. Often those who are contributing are enthusiasts who are working on the product because they love it and believe in it. OpenOffice.org was developed specifically to rival Microsoft’s hold on office documents.
2) Open source software is not always free; sometimes developers request donations to help pay for it.
3) A handy link for other open source programs, along with descriptions: <a href=”http://links.episd.org/open-source”>http://links.episd.org/open-source</a>. Also, here’s another: http://sourceforge.net.
4) Look for tips and forums online to help you figure out how to use the software you choose to download.
5) If you have an open source app that you like, please comment below so we can all test it out.