Categories
Apps Reviews

Givit Video Editor App Review

This is the 200th article I have written on Technology Bloggers! I really enjoy writing for the blog and value the community. :-)

Technology Bloggers top smartphone app reviewers are without a doubt, Steve and Ron. In the past I have attempted app reviews myself, however I have never reviewed just a single application in one post. What better time to try something new then than in post 200!

I’m playing it safe with my first app review, and choosing an app that has already been reviewed by TechCrunch, and written about on the The Wall Street Journal’s website. The app is called Givit Video Editor, and is available for all iDevices.

What is Givit?

So what exactly is Givit Video Editor? Well in the words of (the apps creators) Vmix Media:

“Givit is a free, fun and simple app to quickly make and share great videos on iPhone.”

As I am sure you know, Instagram is a photo sharing application, which lets you share photos you take, pretty much instantly, to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Givit offers a similar service, but for video.

Sharing

One of the key features of the app is its sociability. The app interoperates ‘one-click’ sharing to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as email compatibility, so you can privately email clips. You can also upload your videos to the Givit cloud, where you get 5GB of free storage.

Share videos iPhone application
A screenshot of the Givit sharing screen.

The latest version of the app (3.2.0) enables you to find and invite your Facebook friends, so you can see which of them are sharing their videos, and post your clips to your stream.

Features

The app is a clever video editor, which lets you mash different clips together, so you can chip and chop the best bits of clips and the stitch them together to make great montages.

The app is also compatible with live editing, so you can modify clips as you are filming, adding effects and music wherever you choose.

Cost

One of the best things about the app is that it is completely free! With the Standard Account (as I mentioned earlier) you get 5GB of permanent free storage; so long as you use it once every 3 months. 5GB is enough room to store around 30 minutes of uncompressed HD video; Givit probably have some clever compression going on, so I would imagine you get a bit more that 30 minutes.

Half an hour is all I think I need, as the clips I want to share are only usually a minute or two long, however if you are a budding videographer and need more space you can buy a Premium Account, which costs $29.99 a year, for an extra 100GB of storage.

So far, reviews of the app seem positive. The apps official iTunes rating is currently 4 stars in the UK store and 3.5 in the US store. Coverage on sites like Macworld, CNET and the above mentioned TechCrunch indicate the growing popularity of the service.

Interested in getting the app? Click here to download the Givit from iTunes.

Shoot, edit, share and store – that’s Givit!

Categories
Apps Reviews Smartphones

There’s an app for that

On June the 26th 2007, smartphones didn’t exist. Mobile phones, and computers were two very different things. A day later (27/06/2007) Apple launched the iPhone.

You could argue that there were ‘smartphones’ pre-iPhone, but many in the technology industry view the iPhone as the tipping point and birth-date of the modern smartphone – no inverted commas.

With the launch of the iPhone, came the launch of apps. A few years later along came tablets – and what would a tablet be without apps?

In this post I want to explore some of those apps. Not the apps like Angry Birds, Rayman Jungle Run, Skype and Fruit Ninja though, they are what you expect from applications – games and communication. In this post I am going to explore some of the more innovative uses for apps.

Mirror

Ever desperately needed a mirror just when there are none in sight? Mirror by mmapps mobile, is a free app for Android which turns your phone into a usable mirror! The app even lets you zoom in and out and freeze the mirror, something that no mirror I have ever used does.

The app is available in many different languages, and similar apps are available for iDevices, however mmapps mobile don’t make an ‘i’ version.

Square Wallet

Square Wallet is an application which lets you fully embrace mobile payment. With Square Wallet, you can link your credit card to your phone, and then, in a surprisingly large number of retailers, pay for goods, using your phone! The app also lets you track transactions, so you can keep track of what you are buying.

Square Wallet is available for iDevices with iOS 5.0 or later, and Androids via Google Play.

Inflora Flower App

Interflora smartphone appTen years ago, who would have thought that you could be out and about, and on a device which fits in your hand, and order a bouquet of flowers? Probably not many people!

The flower delivery company Interflora has an app where you can do just that. Naturally its called Interflora, and can be download for free for iDevices – any iPod, iPhone or iPad with iOS 3.0 or later. Interflora is also available to download for Android devices. The app gives you access to a wide range of flowers, information (such as delivery details and a description) and prices; you can even order your gift using the app!

Zite Personalised Magazine

If you like to keep up to date with the latest news, and you like the news your way, then Zite is the perfect app for you.

Zite trawls through your Facebook and Twitter feeds to work out what you like to read. The application then created you your very own personalised magazine to read, and the more you use it, the cleverer it gets, and the more tailored your content become – to a point where it should only be displaying content you really want to read.

Zite is available for free for all iDevices with iOS 6.0 or later, although the developers state that is is specifically designed for the iPhone, as opposed to tablets. Zite is also available on Android.

Flow Powered

Flow Powered - NutellaAmazon have recently released an augmented reality app called Flow Power, which can identify millions of real life products (using your phones camera), and can then tell you more information about them.

The app ‘knows’ thousands of books, games and CDs, and is able to tell you about almost anything, if you scan the barcode.

Be it a novel, or a box of chocolates, the app can tell you how much it costs and what other people think of it – pretty clever huh?

Flow Powered is available for Android via Google Play and iOS 4.2 and more recent iDevices through iTunes.

It seems like there is an app for almost everything these days, be it an app to help you apply make-up, order flowers or tell you the price of a video game. There’s an app for that!

Smartphones really are smart.

Categories
Series Technology

Day to day use of my Remote Heating Control system

This is the fifth in a series of articles in which I am exploring Remote Heating Control – a technology of the future. Learn more about this series by reading the introductory article, called stepping into the future of smarter living.

Well Autumn really has begun, it’s now mid-October and the days are starting to get shorter. Trees are starting to drop their now golden brown leaves and there is a chill in the air that hasn’t been there since last winter.

Now that it is Autumn it is getting much colder, and this means that my heating is now really important to me. It’s that time of year when I want to stay warm, but at the same time am conscious to save energy.

Controlling My Heating Via Smartphone

I have recently bought a Samsung Galaxy S III, a smartphone powered by Google’s Android operating system. This means that I am now able to test out the Remote Heating Control app. British Gas have made an app for both Androids and iDevices, as I have an Android powered Samsung, I will be talking about the Android app.

The application is available for download from Apple’s App Store and from Google play, and is called myHome – after the online portal that you log into to control your heating.

The app is free to download, however (as you would expect) you need to have Remote Heating Control technology in your home for it to be of any use. You need internet access to be able to use the app, as it has to connect to the myHome portal in order to fetch real time data and store any changes you make; however that shouldn’t really be an issue though, as most smartphones now come Wi-Fi enabled and have optional 3G/4G. A smartphone isn’t really that smart without the internet!

Installing The myHome App

I was pleasantly surprised by how fast I was able to install and log into the app. I clicked on the Google play icon on my handset, I then searched for ‘myhome’ and third on the list was the app I wanted. I clicked on the app and pressed install and within seconds it had installed. I then ran the app, and it brought up a login screen, very similar to the one that can be seen if you log in to myHome on your PC.

British Gas myHome
British Gas’s myHome log in screen

After I logged in I was presented with a very similar screen to the one I see when I am online. I was able to control the temperature of my heating right this moment. As you can see, I was at work at the time, so the temperature in the house wasn’t set very high, however it had been on earlier in the morning, so the house was still relatively warm.

A screenshot of the myHome dashboard
A screenshot I took of the myHome dashboard once I had logged in to the Android app.

The heating status was set to Auto, as it was following the schedule. It was really easy to change the temperature, which I did by moving the sliding on the right up and down with my finger.

If you click on the thermometer at the top you get a temperature summary – showing you the temperature in your house and outside.

I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t edit my heating schedule via my Samsung, however I suppose the settings could get a little fiddly on the smaller screen.

If I want to change the schedule, the easiest way is online. That said, it is really easy to change the immediate temperature via smartphone. I am happy with the app, it loads very fast and is well designed. The layout is clean, and easy to use.

Other Features Of The myHome Portal

In previous article I have discussed some of the main features of the myHome online portal, such as being able to see your heating status and the temperature, and being able to set up a schedule for your heating, however there are some other features which are of use.

Under the ACCOUNT heading you are able to change details like your name and email, along with your PIN (the code you have to text when you want to change your heating via SMS) and alerts. I have the system set to alert me via email in the case of a failure of any of the technology and also it will contact me with any warnings that may be relevant, like to let me know the battery on my smart linked thermostat is running low.

As I mentioned in a previous article, it isn’t ideal that my thermostat now needs a battery, that said, it has been running for around 3 months now, and still has 5/5 bars of battery, and if it does start to run low, I will be told in advance of the batteries dying.

If you click on the DEVICES heading, you will be taken to a page displaying all the devices that are currently in your system. On this page I can see my wireless hub and smart linked thermostat. Both are reading status ‘All ok‘ and have full battery and signal strength. My wireless hub is plugged into the mains, to the battery should always read full on that, as the power is mains supply.

Finally, if you click on the HELP heading, you are taken to a screen where there are various guides to help you use the software. If you ever get stuck you can either call British Gas, send them an email, or consult one of their PDF help guides. There is also a link to the app download pages on this page.

British Gas myHome Help and Advice page screenshot
A screenshot of the Help and Advice page in the myHome online portal.

That’s about it for this week.

In two weeks time I will publish the sixth and final article in the series. It will summarise and conclude what I have learnt and shared with you over the last five articles, and I will also give my verdict as to whether the system met my expectations, and whether it is really a technology of the future. See you on the 2nd of November!

Categories
Apps Reviews

Improve your device speed with Super Speed for Android

If you are an Android user, sometimes you may be frustrated with the low performance of the device. Especially when you are loaded with lots of apps and media files in your Android mobile, the chance for reduced efficiency goes high. Super Speed is an Android app that helps you right on this situation!

As many other apps in the store, Super Speed may not have the best of screens and features visually visible outside. The app shines where your device is in trouble with loaded cache memory and slow performance. It almost works on the background and keeps your device as a real “smart”phone.

SuperSpeed android app

The first tap on the app takes you to the one and only screen where two buttons are shown to activate the app working and deactivate it. If you activate Super Speed, you will be notified with a simple pop-up message followed by the confirmation. As said, you may not see any further graphics or performance charts from the app, but it should be working behind making your Android device faster!

Once you activate the app, you can simply tap on your home screen to add the Super Speed widget. I am sure there will not be any differences on your devices for the initial few hours, but the app started showing some good results after few hours. The only let down is there are no measuring arrangements on how the device improvements are working!

SuperSpeed app options

There should be some screens that show the memory usage, processor speed and active applications, etc. Some of the competitors of Super Speed clearly showing these features, only the improvements in the speed or memory won’t work in big time! This is a downside for the app, but the effectiveness in the output is highly appreciable!

Super Speed is a paid app available on the Google Play Store for $0.99. It runs on Android mobiles and Tablets with OS version 2.1 and up.

Categories
Apps Reviews

PDF Reader Pro App Review

PDF is the most common file format used to share and publish documents. That’s why people always look out for apps that can help them handle PDFs on the go.

PDF Reader Pro lets users download, edit and email PDFs right from their iOS devices. Although a little complicated at first, this tool really is indispensable if you need a reliable way to help you keep on top of your workload.

This app is optimized for use on the iPad but works just as well on the iPhone even if the buttons are a little small.  The file structure is well laid out, organized and easy to navigate. The search facility is fast and comprehensive – looking into all folders inside the app and not just the folder you are in at the time.

A screenshot of PDF Reader Pro for iPhone and iPad You are able to download single page, as well as full PDF documents, via the in-app browser. It has a scan facility that uses the iOS device’s camera to take pictures of text or pictures and convert them into PDFs. This scan mode is fast and the text is clear and crisp. It also has editing functions to change colors, sharpness, brightness etc. and is something that really adds to the usability of the app.

Once you have scanned or downloaded a PDF, you are able to use a freehand tool to highlight, annotate, mark or just add a personal touch. This is where the bigger screen of the iPad would really help as it can be tricky if you do on the small screen of the iPhone or iPod Touch.

PDF Reader Pro browser downloadThe zip function helps in condensing the size of file; therefore ensuring no extra space is used when saving the documents. Not just able to export, but the app can also import already taken photos from your Photo Albums. The private folder has the option of password protection to ensure security when you are carrying around sensitive information.

As I said PDF Reader Pro has a lot of features. However, the price of this app is slightly on the higher side set at USD 5.99. I think the developer should find a right strategy in terms of pricing to make this app even more successful.

All in all, PDF Reader Pro can help users one who needs quick, on the go, access to a reliable PDF reader, viewer and editor. It is compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad and requires iOS 4.2 or later.

Categories
Apps Reviews

iPhotoCap App Review

I want to preface this review by saying that I have been creating memes for years on my computer, and just now started looking into going mobile with it. The iPhotoCap application came up as one of the captioning tools, so I decided to download it.

After downloading a score of applications that make you put captions exactly where they tell them to, it is extremely refreshing to have an application that gives some kind of freedom to put captions where you want, on any image that you have currently, can take or can download. I had originally just been looking for a meme editor, but after finding this I can think of more useful ways to use a captioning tool for creative and thoughtful messages.

Now before, I send off a picture of me giving a goofy face, I make sure that I accompany it with an equally ridiculous caption.

iPhotoCap - Let's Wok N Woll

Something doesn’t have to be complicated to be good. So many times I have come across applications that you need to study and dissect for hours before being able to do the basic functions that it has to offer.

The iPhotoCap is comparatively easy-to-use. It does all the heavy lifting so you can do all the fun creative work. Social sharing has become a basic feature for these kind of apps and iPhotoCap too has the ability to share your works via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Instagram.

It also allows you to email and text your newly captioned images for anyone you know to enjoy (or in my case, they are annoyed at 3am when they receive a message of the worst face I can make with a crazy caption).

iPhotoCap App

I did download this program with the intent of making memes out of it to post onto memebase.com, so I would definitely like to see some kind of ability to integrate to websites or something of that nature.

I have already sent it over to everyone I know using an iOS device and hope to find a similar app for Android so that I can get that on my tablet. Without a doubt, iPhotoCap deserves a try if you want to create creative captions for any of your images.

Categories
Apps

Weight loss apps

I understand that app reviews are usually Ron‘s territory, however I thought that as it is anew year I should try some thing new. What better to write about than something which is currently very topical: New Year’s resolutions!

As we enter 2012, it is predicted that the majority of resolutions made will focus on either loosing weight or quitting smoking. Therefore to try and help people stay on track to keep their resolution, I am going to review some weight loss apps.

Here we go then, a review of 2 really useful weight loss applications!

Lose It! iPhone and Android Weight Loss App

The first weight loss app is called ‘Lose It!’ and is available the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android smartphones. Lose It! is free, so it costs nothing to download, which is always a bonus 🙂

The app lets you set goals, and then through daily calorie rationing, helps you work towards achieving them.

The app comes hand in hand with a site called Loseit.com which if you create an account, can help you track the food you are eating, and the exercise you are doing, calculating what you need to do to achieve your goals!

If you sign up for an account (which by the way is free) you can also see how your friends are doing, meaning that it could be very helpful if you are a bit of a competitive person!

A LoseIt! account home screen
An example of what the LoseIt! account home login screen looks like

Now the big question, does it actually work? Well, over 95% of users who used the app for 4 weeks lost weight, so it would seem that this is a weight loss app that works!

Give this app a go, it is free, and from the reviews I have read, it works! You can find in the Android Market and iTunes.

Nike Training Club iPhone Weight Loss App

The next app is called Nike Training Club, and is primarily aimed at women, although reading reviews about it and reading up about the app myself, there is nothing really to stop men using it too.

Nike Training Club App Screenshot
A screenshot of the apps interface

Like LoseIt! the Nike Training Club app is free to download, but is only available on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, not Android.

Nike’s app focuses mainly on the exercise part of weight loss, rather than the food you eat. What the app basically does is provide you with your own personal trainer from your phone, iPod or tablet.

The app has 130 different exercises/drills that you can do, and it times you whilst you are doing your workout. You can track your overall training time, and the more you train, the more rewards you can get, which can help motivate you to keep going!

The feedback is again very good, many people are saying that because of the fantastic guidance from professional athletes that the app can gives you access to, there really is no need to hire a personal trainer.

Download the app via iTunes for free and get your workout going 🙂

So, what do you think of the apps, are they useful and do they help you keep your New Year’s resolution?

Categories
Internet Technology

Understanding iCloud

The latest release in the cloud computing world, and the replacement for Apple’s old MobileMe service is Apple iCloud. The new software is designed to work seamlessly between various apple hardware such as iPods, Apple laptops and desktops, and the iPad. There are several applications available with the iCloud software, ranging from ‘Find my Device’, which allows an internet connected device such as the iPhone to be remotely tracked, to Photo Stream, which makes ‘streamed’ photos available on any connected device.

The first, Find My Device, was initially a MobileMe application, which has been migrated to the iCloud software package. Using the service, a user can view the rough location of their device over-layed on a scalable map of the area, as well as a circle indicating the margin of error on the tracking. Along with remote tracking, the program also allows the user to change the password, display a message on the device, or play a sound (even if it is set to silent). A final feature of the program makes use of the cloud storage technology and allows the user to temporarily delete the contents of the device, storing them to the cloud server until told to return to their original location.

Computing from the cloud
Not quite cloud computing!

Photo Stream directly utilizes the cloud storage technology to share pictures between devices. When a picture is taken from an iphone with Photo Stream enabled, the picture will automatically be uploaded to the cloud server, where it will be available to any of the user’s other Photo Stream enabled machines. According to Apple, the service will soon be integrated with their Apple TV box, which would allow users to view any pictures in icloud on TVs connected to Apple TV.

While only currently available in the US, iTunes Match is one of the most popular uses for the virtual computing abilities of the iCloud software. iTunes Match allows users to ‘scan’ their music in any compatible device (even if the music is not purchased from iTunes), and upload it to the iCloud virtual servers, ready to be downloaded to any of the user’s other Apple products in a DRM free format.

‘Back To My Mac’ and iOS Backup are two more erstwhile MobileMe program migrated to the iCloud package. The first is essentially a remote access program, allowing the user to remotely log into any device with the same Apple ID and the program active. The second is a backup program, which allows the user to back up the data and settings on their device to the virtual servers, and restore the device or access the data remotely as needed.

While the iCloud software is very slim as far as system resources, it requires a fairly current OS to run properly. Creating an account requires iOS 5 or later, or for desktops, OSX Lion. For PCs, Windows Vista or later is required to properly sync. iCloud can also sync to Outlook 7 or later for calendars and contact info.

The cost of the iCloud software varies with the amount of services the user chooses to sign up for. Data storage starts at 5 gigabytes free, and added storage can be purchased in increments of ten gigabytes, for $20 per ten gigabytes per year. At the moment, the maximum storage amount available is 50 gigabytes, however Apple has said it is possible for that to go up in the future. Apart from storage costs, the iTunes Match service is a yearly fee of $25.

With the iCloud software, Apple has taken full advantage of the evolving cloud storage technology to bring a wide variety of programs to Apple users, and an increased connectivity between Apple hardware.

Categories
Apps Reviews

With F.A.M.P. store asset details in your iPhone

The need for managing details about one’s assets, valuables or important documents in a quick, streamlined manner is something that is required today. A few people of the extremely wealthy group, have that luxury of deputing their own wealth managers, while some take their own approach to have the time to handle it. If you are like me and tech savvy, well then you can get a little bit of help from ‘F.A.M.P – Archive Assets’ iPhone app.

F.A.M.P. (Find and Archive My Property) helps users record and store information about their valuable assets to keep track of them. This app is pretty simple to use, to be honest – just take a snapshot of your assets and label it accordingly that you may remember for future reference. Users can also edit the archived details and also have an option to export them to their emails accounts as PDF files, pretty cool. There is also an archive calendar that one can use to sift through information in a periodical manner. In short, the F.A.M.P. iPhone app, offers a simple method to organize, label and store information about one’s assets for future reference.

FAMP iPhone appThis app is somewhat unique, I searched the app store for a similar app but did not find one. The concept of the app is clear and the interface is easy and intuitive to use. No fancy gimmicks and this shows that the developer has tried to keep things simple.

Even though the app is simple to use usability wise, the interface is a blast from the past. The developer needs to address it and I would personally prefer a web 2.0 style interface with a quality and clean design.

Moreover, the app also needs clear set of instructions in its ‘Help’ section for users to easily get a grasp of things. There is also a game within the app called ‘HOT and COLD’ and this too needs clear instructions as I had a hard time to learn how its played. It turns out to be a ‘identity’ game that one plays with his family / friends by guessing what the asset is about. Not sure if this is my cup of tea, but try out yourself to find out.

Another feature I would like the developer look in to is security, which I assume they have overlooked. What happens if my iPhone is lost? Will the data be secure? Are there any means to password protect the details? This is a serious feature that needs to be addressed and I would like the developer to have this solved in the near future.

F.A.M.P. is available for US $1.99 at the App Store and this app is compatible with the iPhone and iPad running iOS 3.0 or later. Have a play with it and share our experience via the comments section.

Categories
Internet News Technology

See Anyone You Know? Face Recognition Comes Of Age

The National Academy of Sciences are about to publish an article in their proceedings entitled ‘Privacy In The Age Of Augmented Reality’, co-authored by Alessandro Acquisiti, Ralph Gross and Fred Stuzman. It is about developments in face recognition software.
How 2D facial scanners record identitiesTo use the authors’ words the document

“investigate(s) the feasibility of combining publicly available Web 2.0 data with off-the-shelf face recognition software for the purpose of large-scale, automated individual re-identification.”

They are also working on an app that can do it all from your phone! See the FAQ section here for more information. The article reports a series of experiments conducted over the last year or so during which the researchers try to identify a person from their photo using an over the counter face recognition software using information that is freely available over the internet.

The results are interesting. The experiments are as follows:
Students walking through the university campus were asked if their photo could be taken and to complete a questionnaire. As they were answering the questions the computation task was carried out, looking for a picture match on Facebook and requiring only seconds. In this case more than 30% of the students were immediately traced.

Because the faces were the same but the photos taken from different angles, humans had to decide which of the possible matches were the most appropriate, but that is not always the case. Some photos are replicated and therefore the computer can give a 100% guarantee that the match is correct.

For example in another experiment the researchers used an online dating agency that provided anonymous photos. In this case they could match names to the photos in about 10% of cases. In several cases the same photo had been used on different sites.

In a third experiment the knowledge gained was used to search for further private information, all freely available on the web, such as details of sexual preference, date and place of birth and this information even allowed them to generate the first five figures of the individual’s US social security number.

So it seems that we can draw a simple conclusion here, either now or in the very near future, as these technologies are improved and made freely available, anybody will be able to recognize anybody they see on the street, identify them through an app in their telephone, and find out about their interests and other personal information, if they have ever posted (or had posted for them) a photo of themselves on the internet.

For more information, please read my face recognition article on the Bassetti Foundation website.