All posts filed under “Lifestyle

Depicting things that have an impact culturally.

comment 0

Hipstamatic’s TinType app puts photos in gritty 1800s style

Few categories of apps are as congested as photography.  Our smart phones have become the go to camera of choice for many, while filters have allowed us all to pretend like we actually take good pictures. When I purchased my first iPhone the second app I downloaded was Hipstamatic (the first was Tweetie; the best twitter app of all time, ALL TIME!). I wasn’t alone in this, Hipstamatic has been a force in mobile photography for a while and when they release a new product there is a large amount of buzz that follows it.

That leads us to TinType. After spending a few minutes playing with the app I found myself nostalgic for the gritty photos of the 1800’s and power they convey. What the folks over at Hipstamatic get right here is the intrigue of remixing the past with the present. Although you can take pictures of whatever you want; the app is, at its core — a selfie app. But what sets it apart is how beautiful those selfies come out.

After snapping your pic (come on, we all know its going to be a selfie) you are greeted with the choice of monochrome or color. Both are gritty, grungey and feel distant, as if you’re being swept into the past. Next to the color choices is the choice of using a farm or not. Now I am not a huge fan of frames, but I found myself liking the framing in TinType. The next step is adjusting the grain in the picture via a slider. After you get the grain just right there is a setting  specifically for faces in the form of making your eyes pop or not. The last step is to decide how much depth of field goodness you want.

The biggest issue I found with TinType was that it couldn’t find my eyes behind my glasses. I wear my glasses all the time so this kind of infringes on my TinType selfie game. First world problem, right? The lack of crop, zoom, and the ability to adjust focus using the apps camera are also minor annoyances. After taking a few pictures with the app I forgot about those usually normal features because the pictures, simply put, look really stinking cool .

Sharing to all the major social sites is also included because, whats the point of a selfie if you can’t show it to everyone.

TinType is $0.99 in the iOS App Store.

comment 0

Google’s new Inbox is what Gmail should’ve been all along

Email has become a permanent fixture in our daily lives. Even though it is far from perfect it is powerful, useful and commonly accepted as thee go to way to share info.

In a world where everyone has a smart phone the battle for your inbox is now all about how you access it on the go and as it stands now we have two contenders duking it out for all your email needs. Those two players come to us from Google and Dropbox and you probably know both. Mailbox, the scrappy up and comer and Gmail, the email we all use (seriously, if you aren’t using Gmail for your personal email conquests, then you really need to re-evaluate your life ;) ).

The stand alone Gmail has always been close to being great, but yet far from perfect. Yesterday it finally got some help in the form of a new product known as “Inbox”. Inbox is everything that Gmail would’ve been years ago but can only be fully realized because of the break through other apps have made (of course, I am talking about Mailbox). Inbox understands email in a way that is so stupid it is brilliant. Our inboxes aren’t spaces to mush together as many letters but rather a to-do list, that if we are perfectly honest about, is constantly overpowering us.

Google’s minimalistic approach to design looks amazing and the top of your inbox is transformed into an actual to-do list is brilliant. Inbox does a lot of things right but is left lacking in the fact that you still need another app to truly process your email. By allowing you to snooze emails you can spend more time dealing with what you want instead of dreading how to respond. The group sorting is smart and the idea of bundling different types of emails just plain works.

Now to compare it to Mailbox. Mailbox is the first app that has made inbox zero possible for email junkies like me. By implementing a system of swipes to quickly archive, delete, snooze or move to a folder Mailbox has revolutionized the way an inbox flows and Google’s Inbox has noticed. In fact, they noticed so much they did the timeless “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery” move by borrowing the idea.

Mailbox also allows the user to decide which emails they just don’t care about and automatically moves them to the folder of the user’s choice. Even though there isn’t much to the design to rave about it doesn’t matter because you won’t be inside the app for very long.

Google Inbox is nice but it isn’t Mailbox. In some ways I wish I would have never started using Mailbox because it ruins every other email option I try. Seeing as both are free I highly recommend you try both but maybe with one catch, try Inbox first. After Mailbox you might never want to go back.

comment 0

Squawkin app is a fresh take on secured social networking

Social networking and instant messaging apps are nothing new to the mobile climate. Something inside us yearns to communicate, and yet we all want different ways to do it. Not long ago it was all based on aesthetics but that has gradually shifted to privacy.

The recently released Squawking app takes that wish for security and the need to communicate to the next level. Using a hand-built network, the service provides flexibility and control the likes of which have never been seen before. Information the user chooses to delete doesn’t just disappear from the users device but also Squawkins servers. The feel of the app isn’t new and that is a good thing. Anyone who has used Kik, WhatsApp or even Facebook Messenger should feel right at home. Content ranges from text to video to audio and it all just works.

An interesting feature to Squawkin is the Crowds messaging. The idea of group messaging isn’t new and to be honest usually poorly done. Crowds is different, it is more of a small social network than a group chat. The admin for the group can quickly add or delete members without jeopardizing the thread. Another nice touch is the ability to add someone simply by name or username, no cumbersome friends lists or tiring searches. This feature is a certain hit for families, clubs or businesses. Another nice touch is the ability to message all, some or one of your groups at once.

Visually, the app isn’t anything special. It is however easy to navigate and feel at home in. While I see it hard to replace many of the messaging apps that have been on user’s home screens for years, there is still a market for Squawkin and those who adopt it won’t be disappointed. Oh yeah, its FREE so you have nothing to lose.

iTunes | Android 

comment 0

Google reveals the Nexus 6 — A 6-inch phone running Android Lollipop!

Today Google finally pleased all the smartphone lovers out there by revealing its latest Nexus handset, the Nexus 6. The six represents the screen size of the device as it is officially listed to have a 5.96″ HD display that’s larger than both the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus.

I love the aesthetics, but this thing is insanely huge!

Other techie specs include a Snapdragon 805 processor, a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front camera, a 3220 mAh battery, and two front-facing speakers. It also will come in a 32 or 64GB option with blue or white.

The Nexus 6 will be available to preorder on October 29th, and it’ll be available in stores beginning in November. You’ll be able to buy it unlocked for $649 or on a monthly contract, with the usual cellular provides such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

comment 0

BeerTab for iOS is the perfect app for craft beer snobs

Recently I started using DayOne, the uber popular diary/journal app to keep track of movies I’ve watched, books I’ve read, and beers I have enjoyed. Being a huge craft beer guy I love being able to discuss the beverages I have enjoyed and I also like to keep a running track of earlier brews for future comparisons. Thing is, DayOne isn’t built for just that and as easy as it is to search through hashtags I am a lazy heathen and I just want my beer all up in my face.

When I stumbled across BeerTab for iOS I quickly realized that my prayers were answered. BeerTab is, for all intents and purposes, the DayOne of beer apps. Where apps like BeerHunt and Untappd have gone the social route BeerTab has chosen to make the app about you. No bloated timelines. No Gamifying. Just you and your beer. Salute.

On first launch of the app I was blown away by how clean the design is. Apps like this show why Apple went the way it did with the design overhaul of iOS 7.  The clean design is welcoming and almost invites you to explore all sections of the application. One of my favorite features upon first launch were the themes. Straight up, the “Boston Brew” theme is incredible and something I will enjoy when I watch the Sox drinking a Sam Adams (try the Utopia if you can find it, it is life changing).

The core concept here is that you don’t need a social network to enjoy a good beer or to rate it. The input, rating and storing of your beer info in BeerTab is stunning. What shocked me about inputting beers was how many options I had. You can input it all manually,  search by name or scan the beers barcode. Another thing that really stuck out to me was how many beers were in the database, a nice touch for us craft beer snobs. Once you input your beer you can choose to add a picture and then get to rating.  As you slide the “appearance”, “taste” and “aroma” sliders over the overall rating goes up or down.

Honestly, if this was all this app did I would be very happy. Lucky for us there is more though. Once you enter the killer new IPA you and your hipster posse have enjoyed you have to share it with the world, right? BeerTab has you covered. Sharing your beer doesn’t lead to some cheesy app page but rather a unique web site with all the info you entered about said beer.  Also, you can change how the beers you have entered are sorted and searched.

If you enjoy a good beer and want to keep a running tab (see what I did there?) of the beers you drink this is the app for you. BeerTab is currently $1.99 in the iTunes App Store and worth every penny, even if it means you get one less PBR.

comment 1

Swingnow suite of apps helps maximize your workflow

As more of my daily life revolves around the data stored in my iPhone, I am constantly looking for tools to enhance my day-to-day grind.  I have settled on the amazing simple and powerful Mailbox for my email, Fantastical for my calendar, and shockingly the default contacts app for my contact needs. Each of these three components play an important part in my daily, weekly and monthly planning.


What if all three of these apps could be connected? iOS and Android have tried but the default calendar and email apps for almost every operating system suck. Yup, I said it, they flat-out suck. This is where Swingnow steps in. In releasing three separate but integrated apps they help to connect your world and data in a way never fully visualized before.

Swingmail, the companies email app is anchored in the idea of being focused on the past. Email is, for all intents and purposes, communication that is constantly in the past. By putting email in its place and taking it a week at a time more time is freed up for living in the now. The layout of the app is absolutely gorgeous and its minimal style gets out the way of usage. The app is simple but not in a way that diminishes power.

Swingbook is phase two in the master plan. Your contact book is important even if you don’t open it daily like you do a calendar or email client.  I find myself opening Swingbook often as it is no longer just a list of contacts but rather a running log of the people I have communicated with recently. Having the option of opening an app, that just like Swingmail, is esthetically pleasing is always a bonus. Knowing that I can quickly text, email or call the people I am working with in some capacity is also another nice touch.

Sadly, I don’t know if we are ready for that kind of work flow. I like my chaos and I prefer to manage it and not conquer it.

The last part is Swingcal. Swingcal’s focus is on eliminating clutter to allow for focus. This app maybe too minimalistic for most though. Being connected to the other apps gives it a good backbone but the lack of information presented left me wanting more. I live in my calendar and I want the things that Fantastical does so well available.

The Swingnow suite of apps is refreshing. If you want a way to maximize your workflow and aren’t already set on a certain email or calendar app this is for you. It’s also free so even if you are like me and swear by an email or calendar client it doesn’t hurt to give it look over.  The power of the Swingnow suite is as promised, it consolidates, filters and ranks the things that you need in each app when you open them. Sadly, I don’t know if we are ready for that kind of work flow. I like my chaos and I prefer to manage it and not conquer it.

The apps are beautiful, the apps have potential and even if you don’t want to change how you do things they definitely call for a look.

You can download all three apps here: