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Five Awesome Photos Apps for Your Phone

Five Awesome Photo Apps for Your Phone

Five Awesome Photos Apps for Your PhoneIt seems that wherever you go, people are using their phones as cameras more and more. New phones have amazing cameras as part of their hardware package, whether you carry an iPhone, and phone with the Android operating system, or the new Windows 8 operating system. Cameras in our phones have even generated a new industry as hardware add ons are designed to give us different lenses, , microphones, and cases. But the place most people need to start to generate terrific photos is by choosing apps for their phone’s cameras. Here are five great options that can increase your creativity even if you’re just getting started.

Instagram – Available for both iPhone and Android, Instagram allows you to take existing photos, do simple scene editing, and then share them to a large social network to share. You can even modify the photos in your existing gallery or camera roll for sharing after the fact if you prefer to keep your location more private.  The app is free , easy to use , and creates great online engagement.



Cinemagram – A more sophisticated App, Cinemagram allows you to animate small sections of your photos to make captivating visual art. More complex than still photos, and not quite video, these pictures occupy their own interesting space in online photo sharing. You take short videos and then animate only a section of them for some pretty interesting results.


Flickr – This photo communities apps for sharing and exploring their huge online network is worth mentioning because of the way it allows you to share your photos – and frankly, after memorializing a moment in time for ourselves, sharing is the second largest reason for taking photos. Easily browse through the huge number of photos from others, or just view your own online images simply and swiftly.


Camera+ Possibly one of the most versatile photo capture and editing software, by using Camera+ you can easily shoot, crop, adjust light after the fact, or use the auto focus or auto-exposure features to adjust light and focus easily during the photo taking process. This is simply what your camera app should have been in the first place. You can immediately share to Facebook, Twitter and other networks.   For only $ .99 this may be the best camera app around.


Paper Camera , $1.99 for Android, and a mere $.99 for iOs phones, is a fun application that allows you to add realtime cartoon and painting effects to your photos. I love using this to make special use copies of existing photo s, though the app will allow you to take photos as well, creating interesting photo and video effects.Like Camera+ and Instagram, social sharing is a simple task.


Photosynth as a mobile app is for iOs phones or phones using Windows 7.5 or above. Taking overlapping shots, you can create terrific panoramas stitching series of photos together to , in the words of the site, “Capture strange incidents at local businesses, incredible vertical drops in the Norwegian fjords, or whatever places or events inspire you.” The desktop version of the app will also allow you to generate 3D images, using “synths” or overlapping photos.


Hopefully you will find as much enjoyment and utility as I have from these apps. These and other Apps are making our phone cameras the “go to” for vacations and special events in our lives. I hope you’ll feel free to share your favorite photo apps in the comments below.

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6 Apps to Make Your Smartphone Smarter

With just about every businessperson and teenager sporting a shiny new smartphone, the big question seems to be how useful your apps make your phone. Here are 6 all star apps for the Android and the iPhone to make your smartphone more than just another pretty face.

1. Android users can get over their “Bump” envy at last, Bump, originally an ios app was made to simplify the transfer of addres information between smart phones, With so many ways for us all to connect, just getting a phone number hasn’t been enough for a while. No android users can join their iPhone friends in transferring photos, contacts and apps by simply bumping phones together. Sporting a new design, bump now has the ability to share as many photos as desired, sync devices and find out what mutual friends you have. Working across operating systems, it just makes the distinction between android and iphone users a little less confusing

2. Note taking apps are very useful, and Catch Notes is an android and ios app that lets you capture and share photos, voice memos, maps and reminders, using a cloud based auto-sync approach similar to evernote. You can also creat collections that can be stored or shared for collaboration. You can also email notes and scan product barcodes to capture gift ideas. Provided as a freemium model, like so many other apps, there are aditional features available in the paid version

3. Having mentioned Evernote, I would be remiss if I didn’t add it to the list of must haves. Available for both the Android and ios operating systems, Evernote allows you to keep your phone, your tablet, and your computer synchronized with photos, web clippings, audio notes, and text, allowing you to Geo-Tag as you add data, and organize them into useful notebooks to use and share. I have evernote on every device I own, and I keep finding more and more ways to use it in my business and personal life. A real must have, and I even use the paid version for myself :)

4.Lemon is an ios app that makes it easy to track expanses by using your phones camera to scan an unlimited number of receipts. It provides the ability to assign labels and categories for different types of spending, allows you to create spending summary reports, export receipt scans, store receipts with encryption, and provide you with merchant data as well.

5.Wikitude allows users to find points of interest around them by using Augmented Reality technology. It allows you to simply hold your phone up and use the camera as a viewing device to see restaurants, ATMs, events, and user reviews. With more than 150 million pointd of interest and content prvided by over 2,500 providers, the tool is useful for travelers, or even consumers entering new neighborhoods in their own cities. Search abilities ad coupons just make the app even better

6. Teambox HD is a free ios based collaboration app that allows you to avoid emailing back and forth when you’re working on a project with others. Install the app on all of your team’s ios based smartphones, and you can establish sharing and cloud sync settings using Google docs and calendar as well as other services. Using Google Docs and Calendar will allow your Android toting friends easy access to your data until the Android version comes out

According to eMarketer 44% of all cell phone users carry smartphones today, and by 2014 that number will increase to almost 53%. every phone, no matter what the OS, relies upon the user to determine what apps will increase its functionality. I hope that you have found at least one or two new ones here. What apps work best for you?

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Getting Into Focus

flowers in focus

Flowers in Focus

Remember the old days when we used cameras with film?

Taking pictures was simple, but a little cumbersome. We need to make sure we had the right film for our camera, we needed to have someone else develop the film ( unless we were really hardcore and had our own dark room) and were often disappointed in the quality of then pictures when We got them back because they were under or over exposed, out of focus, or poorly framed. Of course Polaroid cameras gave us instant photos, but the film was really expensive, and after one hour film development became common, our wait time was minimized, but there was always the fear of that Robin Williams-type stalker guy looking at your private pictures.

Now it seems like we’ve had the benefit of digital cameras forever. We don’t often think about how the digital camera has changed our lives. We take huge amounts of photos, never worrying about the amount of or type of film we have with us ( of course we have memory card limitations but they are really not the same problem). We see our mistakes right away so we can take an extra shot when we make a mistake. We perform miracles in post editing, adjusting light levels,color saturation, cropping, reversing,resizing, and adding special effects.

The introduction of photo sharing sites like Flickr, Picasa ( now Google Photos) and Snapfish allowed us to share our photos immediately with family and friends all over the world. By the time we started sharing photos on Social networks, we were completely blasé about sharing.

The provision of camera phones made cameras positively ubiquitous. Now we had still and video cameras that were constantly in our pockets, and upload our pictures to file sharing platforms like Twitpics, Facebook, MySpace and Google + instantaneously. It seems like things just couldnt get any better. And yet it seems that they can, and perhaps just did.
Lytro, a startup company located in silicon valley is introducing something called a light field camera that captures color,intensity and the direction of individual light rays to allow you to adjust the focus of camera after you take a picture. These interactive pictures on Lytro’s site  demonstrate just what that means in terms of enhanced creativity. The concept is mind boggling.( I assume you took minute to go play with the interactive photo and found it as incredible as I did- if you didn’t , go ahead and do it now, I’ll wait.).

Now it doesn’t matter where we choose to focus. We’ll be able to shoot now and focus later., making our photos as artistic as we want, or making choices about what we want to emphasize when we’re working on the photos well after we shot them.   Like the introduction of the digital camera, this technology may well change the way we take and use our photos for a long time to come.

The manufacturers also claim that the camera will work in low light situations without a flash, and create 3D photos with a single lens, pretty impressive claims. The price of the camera has not yet been announced, but it it is priced competitively, and is portable enough to compete with existing pocket cameras or DSLRs, it could send revolutionize photography yet again. I know I’m just waiting for the price to see how soon I’ll be able to own one. What about you?

(UPDATE 10/21/2011) Lytro has finally released their new camera. With a price point of $399, and only two buttons to push (power and shutter) the Lytro looks to be the simplest camera made since George Kodak came out with his box camera and the motto “You push the button and leave the rest to us!”

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Time to put your phone in the cloud?

Photo: Jesse Kruger (Flickr)

I have several office locations that were impacted this past weekend by Hurricane Irene’s tour of the East Coast. While I am spending today sorting out and cleaning up, I am also thinking about some long-term structural goals – namely whether it is time to give up on location-based telephone services completely.

To put things in perspective, I have two offices that are within about 10 minutes of each other. One of them is part of our cloud-based phone system pilot while the other is not. Both lost power Saturday in a wide-scale outage related to Hurricane Irene. When I called our cloud-based office, things were just fine….in the other office I got a fast busy signal. While I know cell phones have made office numbers less critical, they are still a key component of having an office and everyone seems happier when they work correctly.

For those of you who may not be familiar, cloud based phone systems allow you to forward your calls to a server in another part of the country/world, where they are sent through an automated attendant and then routed (per your pre-defined rules) to another phone back on Terra-firma. More importantly, they provide you a web-based control panel where you can change those rules when life situations make it impossible for you to work normally – like when a hurricane rams into your hometown. You can program the phone to ring one number – or two – and can change which one(s) with the click of a mouse.

You may already be familiar with the single-user services such as Google Voice or Skype where you get a number and control how it rings or forwards. I have those too – but I have learned that they are not robust enough when you are trying to manage a larger operation. In some instances, bigger really is better.

Our firm uses a service called RingCentral, but that is just one of many firms that use the same technology. Within the system I can create virtual “extensions” for each of our users that mirror the extension numbers they have on their desk and then create rules for how to handle each call to that new virtual number. In some cases, the call just rings right to the same desk extension it always did – with no change at all – but those instances are rare. Usually what I find is that our users (especially our salespeople) want their extensions to ring to their cell phone numbers so they can have the capability to answer them wherever they may be.

Users can also log in and make their extension ring right to voicemail – a great feature when they are on vacation or when important family time preempts business calls. In these cases the voice mail messages (the recording, not a transcription) are emailed to the user within minutes of the call. Even if you are working right at your desk, an email record of the messages you need to save/reply is a valuable tool. Some of the services let you receive faxes on your extension as well – which may be a big help if you are already paying for a service like EFax or MyFax.

And finally, there is a tool that works best on weekends like these. With our virtual phone system I can log in and change the main company greeting from anywhere; so that people in other parts of the country remember we are dealing with a hurricane and may respond a little slower than normal. Never hurts to be prepared.

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Chrome Alone?

Right after Google’s I/O conference in May I took a second to discuss the new “Chromebook” personal computing device. If you still have not seen one, here is a quick video introducing it to you. I ended that post with “stay-tuned” because there wasn’t much information available at the time.

Following the June launch of the first ChromeBooks Walt Mossberg of WSJ did his review. There is a text version and a painfully-long video version. In both instances he offers that cloud computing is going to be a key component of personal productivity in the future, but that today’s ChromeBooks are just too limited to be worth even the small investment.

That wasn’t enough to deter me, however, so I created an experiment for myself to see if I could live “Chrome Alone”. I swore off every other program on my computer and went solo with my browser – just as if I owned the new ChromeBook I have been considering. What I learned at the end of the day was that, sadly, Mossberg may be right.

The first “oops” moment came early in the experiment when the .docx attachment sent to my Gmail opened in my resident copy of Microsoft Word. My ChromeBook wouldn’t have that (because it won’t have “software” on the machine), but of course it would have access to Google Docs and would have just defaulted there to open the file. That’s why I can’t call that one a fail…just an oops.

Things got worse when I went to open my Instant Messenger. I have been with for a while now because I like how their desktop app launches from the taskbar, stays open and floats over the other work I am doing during the day. In my Chrome-only world it seems I don’t have that luxury – the Trillian “app” available from the Chrome store just takes me to the Trillian web based chat and opens it in another tab. Not a major inconvenience, but having to watch the tab to see if someone is trying to engage you in conversation is a bit cumbersome when I am managing a few other applications at once (although I did start to rely on the audio cues more than I do on the desktop version).

Later I went to do my online banking. That experiment did not go as well but I’ll take most of the blame. I am embarrassed to admit that I still use Microsoft Money – and of course since MS quit supporting the product two years ago there is definitely not a cloud-based version. While the interaction with my bank went smoothly, when it came time to download and reconcile my statement I knew (although I did it anyway) that my ChromeBook would not be able to play along. That said, I know there are great cloud based programs out there now – Quickbooks and just to name two – that would have allowed me to work it out online although I would have had to save the download file from the bank to a USB drive instead of the desktop.

Printing wasn’t so bad because I had done the work ahead of time to configure Google Cloud Print on some of the office computers. Had I not done that work beforehand, however, I would have found my ChromeBook unable to put anything to paper. Certainly something to be considered if you are generating a large quantity of paper.

There were other software run-ins that caused me angst, but many of them are industry-specific so I won’t spend a lot of time with them here. One important word of caution for the Realtor community though…ZipForms does not currently run in Google Chrome.

Alas, the thing that ended my quest for a ChromeBook was the one thing I totally took for granted….wireless internet. I have a cellular modem in my notebook so I rarely worry about wifi – and for this experiment I decided not to worry too much about it either because I knew I could easily team my ChromeBook up with a cellular signal when I needed to get online. But then I went to write this post….and couldn’t get to Google Docs because I didn’t have a cellular signal. So because I am already past deadline I am writing it in Microsoft Word….the one housed on my hard drive….on the computer with no access to the cloud. So much for that “Chrome Alone” pledge. Hopefully if I stand out in the driveway I’ll be able to get this posted online.

So I am still debating whether ChromeBook is for me. I think there is a blogging rule somewhere that says you can’t end two posts with the same “stay tuned” cliché, so I will open it up to all of you to offer your thoughts – and I’ll decide from there.

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