Photo Infinity Essentialz brings adjustable filters to iOS photography

IMG_2436Photo Infinity Essentialz is a new iOS app from iSalam. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store in a limited form, with additional in-app purchases required to unlock its full functionality.

Photo Infinity Essentialz is a simple photo editing tool that allows users to import images from a variety of different sources and then process them with a selection of adjustable filters. Photos may be imported from the device’s photo library, Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, Google Images or via Bluetooth, or they may be taken then and there with the device’s camera. Once an image has been loaded, a single filter may be applied before sharing to Picasa, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, the camera roll, Bluetooth or email. In order to apply more than one filter at a time (or share to Facebook, oddly) in-app purchases are required.

Applying a filter is a simple matter of selecting it from a bar at the top of the screen to apply it, then sliding your finger up and down on the screen to adjust how powerful the effect is. There are a variety of filters available, including a selection of basic adjustments (brightness, contrast, hue, saturation and sharpness), cross-processing, embossing and “artistic” effects such as blur, oil paint, dithering, halftones and pixellation. There are also a series of “one time” non-adjustable effects including adding watermarks, equalizing, finding edges, inverting the colors or despeckling the image.

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Watch an event unfold live with Spontly

mzl.ndyvnnnq.320x480-75Spontly is a new iOS app from the company of the same name. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, with no additional in-app purchases.

Spontly is a location-aware mobile social app that allows users to “check in” to events and then post photos and messages to that event’s dedicated feed. In this way, it can be used both by people at the event to interact with one another and perhaps see who else is present, and for those who missed out to see some pictures and thoughts from the event. It can also be used by event organizers to help promote their event, to post details that attendees might have missed, and also to get some real-time feedback on how the event is going.

Spontly requires a Facebook account to use, which will probably make it unpopular in territories where App Store reviewers have historically been resistant to Facebook-only social apps such as the U.K. The app does not use anything more than the user’s basic information and their birthdate, however, and as with other Facebook apps it is up-front about the permissions it requires. It would, however, perhaps be to the app’s benefit for the developer to provide a non-Facebook option not only for those who do not wish to connect their social presence to unfamiliar apps, but also for those who do not have a Facebook account at all.

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Add a splash of color with PhotoSplash

IMG_2406PhotoSplash, also known variously as “PhotoEffect” and “A+ Insta Photo Splash FX HD – Splurge Foto B&M Effect Editor para Tumblr,FB” [sic] is a new iOS app from independent developer Yang Wei. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and largely serves as a promotional tool for this similar paid app by Tao Lin. It’s currently listed in the “New” section of the App Store’s Photo & Video category.

PhotoSplash is a simple app designed for creating “color splash” effects — the simple but striking effect where an image is first converted to grayscale and then individual details returned to full color to guide the eye into focusing on them. PhotoSplash allows users to apply the effect to either images from their device’s photo library or pictures they take using the camera function in the app.

After loading an image, it is automatically converted to grayscale. At this point, the user may use their finger to “paint” the areas they would like the color splash effect to be applied. The size of the brush used when painting can be adjusted using an option at the bottom of the screen, but no indication is given of where the brush’s boundaries are while painting, which can lead to inaccurate application of the effect. To make matters worse, there does not appear to be an eraser function, so if the user makes a mistake they have no choice but to reload the image and start again from scratch.

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Search with your camera with CamFind

photo (9)CamFind is a new iOS app from Image Searcher. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and does not carry any additional in-app purchases.

CamFind is a simple tool that allows users to search for things online using their device’s camera. The app makes use of various forms of image recognition technology to determine what is in the photograph, and then presents the user with a variety of information pulled from various sources online. This ranges from prices to images to relevant local businesses (via Yelp) and finally a simple online search for the item in question. The app is also capable of reading QR codes to go directly to linked websites, reading barcodes to carry out Red Laser-style price comparisons, and translating text into various languages. The app also features a text-to-speech facility which reads out the name of whatever has been photographed.

Using the app is a simple case of snapping a photo using the simplified camera interface and then waiting for the app to perform its function. When tested in a local coffee shop, the app successfully recognized a generic cardboard coffee cup, the name of the establishment printed on a napkin, a can of apple juice, the logo on my laptop computer (plus the fact it was a laptop computer, not a desktop), a Windows 7 logo and various QR/barcodes. Searching took a few seconds on Wi-Fi and noticeably longer over 3G. The app also had a heavy impact on battery life, particularly when used over 3G, since it was actively using both location services and the cellular data connection to retrieve information.

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Show your skills with Showboatr

IMG_2409Showboatr is a new iOS app from Nyquist Design. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, with no additional in-app purchases.

Showboatr is a video-centric social network, but rather than simply allowing users to freely share videos, it instead focuses on various “challenges,” many of which are clearly designed to be both amusing and impressive. A typical challenge tasks users with anything from tearing an apple in half to licking a frozen object and getting their tongue stuck, and demands that they prove they at least attempted the challenge with a video. Other users who then watch the video can vote on whether or not they believe the person in the video “nailed” or “failed” the challenge.

The Showboatr app is split into a few distinct components. Users must sign in to the app first of all, either using a proprietary Showboatr account or Facebook, and are then immediately taken to the Challenges page, which is further subdivided into three categories. The “Collections” tab groups together various related challenges such as all the tasks that involve fruit, or scenes inspired by movies, or dance-related challenges; the “Staff Picks” tab includes the favorite challenges of the Showboatr team; and the “Popular” tab displays those challenges that have seen the most activity. In all cases, tapping on a challenge takes you to a page of information about it, where the description can be read, other users’ videos can be viewed and voted on, or the challenge attempted. Users may also challenge specific friends using either Facebook or email — in the former case, the challenge may be issued as a public post if desired.

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Find an answer with Deciderr

IMG_2390Deciderr is a new iOS app from Decision Network, Inc. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store with no additional in-app purchases.

Deciderr is a mobile-social network designed to help people make decisions and solicit feedback by allowing them to pose “yes/no” questions to the community. You can also answer questions posed by other users and engage in discussions through the comments.

Deciderr requires an account to use. Initial account setup can be done using Facebook or Twitter, but the user must still provide their desired username, birthdate and bio manually when signing up.

Once into the service proper, the app’s main screen is split into five main components. The “World” tab allows users to browse questions submitted from all Deciderr users, regardless of whether or not they are following them. The “People” tab is a feed of just people the user has specifically chosen to follow. The “Feed” tab provides notifications of activity on questions, including answers and comments. The “Profile” tab displays a summary of the user’s questions and those in which they have been “tagged” with a Twitter-style @username. Finally, the button to actually ask a question is prominently displayed in the lower middle of the screen.

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Trim down your social media feeds with Slim

photo (8)Slim is a new iOS app from Slim Labs, Inc. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, with no additional in-app purchases. It’s currently highlighted in the “New” section of the store’s Productivity category. A Web-based version is also available, and a native Android version is set to follow soon.

Slim is a social media app that aims to allow users to trim all the irrelevant, useless content out of their various feeds in order to focus on the important updates. At present, the service only supports Facebook and LinkedIn accounts — a Facebook account is required to sign in at all, so those who only use LinkedIn are out of luck — but support for Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Salesforce and Yammer are apparently set for implementation in a future update.

Rather than taking a feed-based approach as with most social media apps, Slim displays a single update at a time and allows users to “swipe” between them. Users may mark the updates they would like to see more or fewer of by using some Last.fm-style “star” and “reject” buttons — from these, Slim apparently learns the user’s preferences and displays more relevant content over time, but it’s clear that there’s already some fairly heavy-duty filtering going on as soon as the app starts, as the vast majority of posts from my Facebook friends were nowhere to be seen. It would perhaps be better for the feed to start from an unfiltered view and allow the user to whittle it down to what they want rather than starting from an already heavily-sanitized position.

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Make music from anything with Yellofier

Yellofier is a new iOS app from Swiss electronic band Yello. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, with no additional in-app purchases.

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Yellofier is an app designed to allow users to create “glitchy” electronic music using any sounds they like — and to make the music creation process extremely simple and straighforward, even for those who have not used music creation software before. It succeeds admirably in that goal, allowing for the quick and easy creation of some convincing-sounding electronic music, and then for those creations to be shared with the world via various means.

Using Yellofier involves several steps. Firstly, the recorder part of the app allows the user to record any sound they please. This will then be automatically “sliced” into eight pieces, each of which is color-coded. The exact size and length of these slices may be manually adjusted if desired or if the automatic slicing does not work well, but generally speaking for rhythmic sounds, the app does a good job of determining sensible points to cut the complete sound into smaller samples.

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Play, Live, Act Now with friends in P.L.A.N.

mzl.zipaibgc.320x480-75P.L.A.N. (short for Play, Live, Act Now) is a new iOS app from Pocket Media Private Limited. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store and carries no additional in-app purchases.

P.L.A.N. is the latest addition to the currently-fashionable crop of apps that allow users to attempt to organize their social lives. P.L.A.N. markets itself as a 21st century solution to the problem of plans changing at short notice — instead of phoning or texting around everyone to update arrangements, the theory goes, P.L.A.N. allows for a centralized means of keeping everyone abreast of plans and notified of any important changes.

Using P.L.A.N. requires Facebook as it uses this as a reliable means of assembling a friends list. Not everyone involved in making arrangements has to be a P.L.A.N. user, however — the service features Web-based functionality to allow non-users of the app to respond to invitations, but groups of friends will probably find it most efficient if everyone is making use of it..

Creating a new event is a simple matter of tapping the “New” button in the corner of the screen and filling in the relevant details: what you want to do, where you want to do it, when you want to do it and the friends you want to invite. Underneath that are two optional sections that allow you to customize what other attendees are allowed to “suggest” to the plan — changing the activity, location, time, date and inviting friends — as well as a deadline to RSVP, a minimum number of attendees and/or a maximum number of attendees.

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Explore the social Web with Rockmelt’s new look

IMG_2417Rockmelt is an iOS app from the company of the same name. It’s recently launched its third major revision, and is currently highlighted in the New & Noteworthy section of the App Store front page. It’s a free download.

Rockmelt has been through a few changes over the years. Originally taking the form of a Chromium-based Web browser for computers with a strong focus on social network integration, it has since evolved into a content discovery platform accessible through any browser. The Web-based component of Rockmelt’s service is currently invite-only, but the iOS app is available for anyone to sign into and use.

Upon starting Rockmelt for the first time, you’re prompted to provide at least five areas of interest that you would like to see in your “home stream.” The topics on offer are fairly diverse, but the requirement to choose at least five is odd — some users may only be interested in content from two or three of the available “channels” and yet are forced into picking several more. Presumably this is to allow users to expose themselves to a wider variety of available content, but it still seems a little unnecessary.

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