Tag: Camera »
We've been anxiously awaiting the release of the new Sony QX line of lens-style cameras: those super high quality lens systems that attach to the back of an iPhone and communicate with the phone via a Sony app. We had a few minutes to go hands-on with the QX-100 high-end lens yesterday, and here's what we saw. More on the QX cameras.
While not in the perfect setting, we did a few side-by-side tests with the QX-100 ($499) lens against the stock camera in the iPhone 5S. Here are the sample shots and a few notes for each. These images are not modified other than whatever the individual cameras do by default and for size/cropping for use here.
This first shot is a bit of a torture shot for any camera. Bright colors, bright sun, dark shadows, natural and artificial light all in one. In this one both cameras do a good job, but the nod goes to the Sony QX-100 for better representation of the colors in both the light and dark areas. Also a better job of keeping the highlights from blowing out and the darks from disappearing.
In this shot, both cameras do a great job. While the Sony has a richer color saturation - perhaps too saturated - both are quite good. One plus for the Sony: notice that the background is blurred nicely vs the flatter image from the iPhone.
In all, the real let down was the software. And the good thing about that is that it can be updated. Hopefully it will be. Image size is also an issue. The iPhone 5s takes images natively at 8MP while the Sony QX-100 was only sending 1.5MP images to the camera. It is capable, with an micro-SD card installed, to take up to 20MP images, but I was unable to test that.
The price is another thing to think of. The QX-100 is $500. While saving a couple hundred over the same featured RX-100 camera, it might be worth the extra just to be able to use the camera by itself. Without further testing I can't really be sure if the camera is worth the $500 over the camera built into the iPhone. We hope to have a full review for you later this year as the lenses become more readily available.
Camera+ has been the go-to camera replacement app since its release. This new version brings it up to date with iOS 7 and also includes features like manual exposure compensation, square cropping, and AirDrop support.
Shutterbugs rejoice! Procam has just received a temporary price drop to $0.99, and a fairly significant update!
Amidst all the typical bug fixes and performance enhancements, the app now also sports a real-time fully manual camera for iPhone 5/iPod Touch 5th Gen users. We're talking exposure, saturation, white balance, and all that good stuff. The Time Lapse Mode has also been tweaked so it runs smoother and allows you to embed soundtracks. Burst Mode has also been adjusted so that it captures images faster and produces sharper pictures. And even more updates are planned for the future, naturally.
There are two lens camera attachments making their way to iOS as Sony plans to release the DSC-QX10 and the DSC QX100. Both attachments come with a built-in sensor, Bionz processor, NFC, and an SD card slot and both will magnetically attach to your iOS device, reports Techno Buffalo. There is no announcement on the release or pricing of both camera lenses, but we do know that the QX100 features a 10x zoom and 1/2.3 inch 18-megapixel CMOS sensor, which sounds lovely.
I must say that I'm very intrigued by these lenses!
Over one million apps have made their way onto the App Store during its five years of existence. A million. That's a pretty miraculous number when you think about it. However it's not the amount of apps we have to pick from that I find so fascinating, but rather just how much things have changed since 2008. Pickings were comparatively slim at first, and many developers were just starting to dip a toe in the waters of Apple's new smartphone.
On top of that, the technology itself has changed tremendously in a relatively small amount of time. It makes me wonder if anyone from 2008 would even recognize current iOS devices, and by extension the App Store. Would a newer Apple initiate have any idea what they were looking at if they somehow managed to take a trip to five years ago? I think it warrants a look at how the hardware, the App Store, and the apps contained within it have evolved.
2008 - The Beginning of the Beginning
The App Store's first year was a rough but promising one. The iPhone 3G rolled out to coincide with Apple’s new software venue and the original iPhone was still viable. The iPod touch was also present and accounted for, while the second generation appeared closer to the end of the year. Even at this point many developers were eager to push these early iOS devices to their limits, to make them more than just a phone or an .mp3 player with a fancy screen.
Handy apps like Pandora Radio, Last.FM, Facebook, and Yelp were to be expected, but that didn't make them any less impressive to have on a handheld platform. Others such as the intuitive personal organizer Evernote, the eerily accurate song-identifying app Shazam, eWallet’s convenient and secure account password management, and MLB At Bat with its extensive baseball coverage further capitalized on the particulars of the hardware and its general portability. Of course there were also some pretty unnecessary options out there, too. Flashlight kind of served a purpose but was also fairly pointless. It wasn't as bad as stuff like More Cowbell!, though.
At the same time, the games available on the App Store were beginning to show people that "mobile" didn't have to equal "mediocre." Sure there were a few simple ports of the odd classic such as Ms. PAC-MAN, Vay, and Scrabble, but there were also some impressive iOS renditions of popular console games like Super Monkey Ball coming out. Potential mobile gamers also had a few really special titles such as Galcon and Fieldrunners to tide them over. When all was said and done there were over 7,500 apps on the App Store by the end of the year, with more being added every day.
2009 - Moving Right Along
The following year saw even more impressive releases as Apple's digital marketplace began to expand. The second generation of iPod Touch was the bright and shiny new toy at the time, but it was followed shortly by the iPhone 3GS in June while the latest and greatest third generation Touch closed out the year in September. It all meant better processors, better CPUs, more advanced operating systems, and so on. All stuff that developers needed to acclimate to, but also stuff that meant they could push their boundaries even further. There was no loss of steam when it came to content, either: the App Store finished off 2009 with well over 100,000 apps available.
Many of the basic smartphone necessities were covered, but there was room for so much more. Especially while the technology was improving. Plenty of people used their iPhones as phones, sure, but with the addition of Skype they were able to enjoy the added functionality of instant messaging and voice chat without cutting into their data plans (so long as a wifi connection was present). Big companies were really starting to take notice as well. That same year Starbucks and many other big businesses threw their virtual hats into the ring with their own apps designed to make life a little bit easier for their iOS-using customers. Practicality was also becoming an even bigger focus. The Kindle app gave iOS users a practical e-reading option, and Dropbox was there being Dropbox. By which I mean "an awesome and super-convenient way to transfer files between multiple platforms." And this same level of refinement could be seen creeping into the games as well.
So many of the App Store's most notable games and franchises came out around this time. It was almost a mobile rennaisence of a sort. This was the year Real Racing first blew mobile gamers' minds, even causing some of them to question the legitimacy of in-game video footage until they were able to see the finished product for themselves. Zenonia was just a fledgling action RPG at the time, and while a lot of people liked it I doubt they knew just how many sequels it would spawn. The same goes for Pocket God, although with updates rather than multiple releases. Flight Control began to eat away at peoples' free time, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump hit it big (like, super big), and Myst and The Sims 3 further displayed the potential for major releases on mobile platforms. Oh, and Canabalt almost single-handedly invented and popularized a genre.
Hey, there are over a billion apps out there, you know? There are only a few featured each week by the App Store, only a tiny fraction make the top paid and free charts, and fewer still are included in Apple's Essentials collections.
What that means is that there are a ton of great apps and games out there that just don't get discovered. Let's remedy that, at least a little bit, with our choices for ten of the most underrated apps on the App Store.
Bird Zapper - Here's one of the more ridiculous match-three offerings out there, with a solidly pleasant presentations, control set, and game mechanics. If you're up for some wacky bird torture and like the zen-like state of mindful repetition, this one's for you.
Epic Win - You know what's boring? To-Do lists. Even worse? Completing them. Chores suck, but Epic Win turns them into a game, offering you experience points and level ups to keep you interested and motivated. I still rock this app on my iPhone.
Hard Lines - Take two time-honored video game genres, the dual stick arcade shooter and Snake, and mash them up. You'll get something like Hard Lines, one of the stickier games out there, one in which the resulting app is greater than the sum of its parts.
The Blocks Cometh - This retro-flavored platformer/jumper should have made a longer lasting splash, what with its look, sound, and solid controls. Regardless, it's a game that you should grab for your iOS device right now; it's that good.
Match Panic - Originally titled Critter Panic, this match three game has it all: pixelly artwork, retro chiptune soundtrack, and the addictive nature of time-based pattern matching. Get ready to bliss out with your iPhone and a set of headphones when you play this fantastic game.
Mint - Honestly, I don't know how I lived or did taxes before Mint, the mobile app version of the award-winning financial web service. I find it surprising, though, how few people know of the service or the app. I'm here to right that wrong, now, by recommending you give it a try.
CardMunch - This LinkedIn-sponsored business card scanning app is probably the best of the ones I've used, but I doubt you've even heard of it. Eclipsed by apps like Evernote Hello, CardMunch seems to do a better job recognizing funky card designs. It also connects right to LinkedIn, which makes a lot of sense for those of us that rely on that for business contacts.
Camera+ - Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time replacing Apple's built-in apps with third-party ones. Part of it is the inability to set other apps as default, and part of it is that Apple's apps work well, and simply. Camera+ is one of the exceptions, as it does so much more to take iPhone photography to the next level. Seriously, get this app.
Knights of Pen & Paper - If you're a closet Dungeons & Dragons fan, you'll already warm to the alliterative title of this smart, tongue-in-cheek homage to fantasy role playing of the analog sort. My kids and I pass the iPad back and forth with this game all the time, even to this day.
Rdio - Poor Rdio, it never gets much love. When I see streaming music mentioned in any type of press, it's always Pandora and Spotify that are mentioned. Rdio is a brilliant internet radio platform, organized more by album for us older music lovers. It's got a great catalog of both popular and more indie music, and just gets better each day. Give it a try for free and see if it works for your brain.
The App Store turns five this week, and we'll be taking a long look back at this disruptive force in the way we use our mobile devices. Back in 2008, when the App Store launched, we had no idea how far it would come in such a short time, but hindsight is a good thing.
During that time, there have been a ton of apps that changed and improved the state of the art. Here, then, are ten that we think really matter, apps that had an effect on our lives, even now. Apps that changed the landscape of what we expected from a mobile device, and gave us new ways of interacting, sharing, and understanding our world.
The grandaddy of social image sharing, Instagram created, with an ease of use and pretty image filters, a whole new social network based on images. In an era of Facebook (who eventually bought the service) and Twitter, that was no small feat.
While derided as a possible porn-chat app, Snapchat took a single idea and refined it to a razor's edge: take a picture, caption it, and share with your friends. Then, zen-like, that picture disappears. The hidden potential in this app caught on with young and old alike, changing the way we communicated with pictures. Without an archive, Snapchat lets users freely share what they might not otherwise.
Here's an app that allows anyone on any platform to exchange messages with anyone else on any other platform. In a world where you're just as likely to have friends using Android or Blackberry as iOS, this was a revelation. Many other apps tried something similar, but Whatsapp has the userbase and an easy to use, intuitive app that brought it to the forefront. Now we can stay in touch with all our friends and family, regardless of platform, for free.
The photographer's photography app, Camera+ fairly invented iPhoneography, letting iPhone users capture and edit better photos than the built in app with ease. Since its launch, the app has kept pace with upgrades in technology and the camera lenses in each iteration of iPhone, empowering real photographers and talented amateurs alike. Heck, they even pioneered using the volume button as a shutter release, until Apple shut that down, only to use it in the built-in Camera app.
Before Google Drive, before iCloud, there was Dropbox, a service that mirrors your documents across computers with a simple, unified login. The Dropbox app on the iPhone took the same, intuitive simplicity and allowed us all to access and edit the same documents on the go as easily as doing so on our Macs and PCs.
Take notes, save pictures, record audio, bookmark websites. Do this on any device you own: Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, Android. Evernote has become the de facto standard for network-connected note taking, and much more. You can use this app to write a shopping list on your computer, and then pull it up on your iPhone while at the store. You can collaborate with others on documents, sharing notes and notebooks with ease.
Ever been in the car when a song comes up on the radio and you just can't remember the artist that performed it? Hold your iPhone up, launch Shazam, and let the app magically recognize the music, returning the artist name, album, and easy-purchase buttons for the iTunes store. Newer features include movie preview recognition with links to more information, and television ads that, when recognized, provide links to vendor websites. It's magical technology at its best.
Marco Arment created Instapaper as a basic web app, single handedly creating the "read it later" market that many other apps now compete for. Arment started the service in 2008, built the iPhone app himself, and saw the service grow far beyond his initial vision. He's subsequently sold the app to another company, who promise to maintain and improve it as we continue forward.
Waze was one of the first social mapping and traffic app, allowing users to share road conditions with each other while on the go. It may be one of the most unappreciated apps on this list, but it continues to serve a loyal and vocal user base, providing real-time help from users to help us all plan the best route possible.
The check-in craze started here, with Foursquare. Becoming the mayor of a location, along with various gamification features, provided a stickiness not seen before the apps release. Even with privacy concerns dogging its every step, Foursquare has managed to remain in the public imagination as the way to let our friends know where we are at any given time.
RSS is great, as are Twitter and Facebook feeds. But what we really want is a place to see all of those things at once, published in a slick, easy to use layout. Enter Flipboard, still the best darn social news reader around. It makes the various web sites and social feeds we all rely on much prettier and interesting to look at, letting us keep up to date without having to dip into several different apps to do so.
Founded as a streaming internet radio service on the web, Pandora made the transition to iOS brilliantly, becoming a force to reckon with in the competitive streaming music market, as well as a household name known by one and all. While other services continue to chip away at the venerable service, offering on-demand music access, Pandora continues to be the music access app of choice on iOS devices everywhere.
Can't decide where to eat? Shake your iPhone and Urbanspoon will randomly choose a restaurant nearby that matches your criteria of price, cuisine, and distance. Released in August of 2008, Urbanspoon was the first app on the App Store to combine GPS location data with a database of local dining and drinking establishments, creating a loyal community that reviewed meals, restaurants, and service for other users.
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Every week, the 148Apps reviewers comb through the vast numbers of new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we've been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.
We also went deep in our coverage of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, with a review, strategy guides, and a Commander's diary. Be sure to check that all out.
The original X-Com: UFO Defense has been one of my all time favorite games for almost 20 years. There’s something about the combination of naming soldiers after friends and family members, carefully trying to manage finances and tech trees, and the tense search for hostile aliens in unfamiliar terrain that still excites me to this day. So when it was announced that Firaxis, the developers behind the latest entries in the Civilization series, were going to release a modern update of the 1994 classic I was both supremely excited and ridiculously nervous. Of course I was worried about XCOM: Enemy Unknown for nothing. It turned out to be a fantastic re-imagining of my favorite strategy game that trimmed away a lot of the unnecessary fat and added a few more contemporary elements to create an incredibly compelling experience. Then it was announced that Firaxis and 2K China were going to take that same experience and somehow cram it on to iOS devices. Again I found myself excited and worried at the same time. And again I was worried for nothing. --Rob Rich
Disney’s Where’s My Water series has been both a success both financially as well as creatively, with its original incarnation bringing unique physics gameplay and an original character to the table. Now, Disney has expanded the series in part by integrating their known characters into the gameplay. The problem has been that they just haven’t fit all that well: Perry from Phineas & Ferb in Where’s My Perry felt like Disney just slapping a character into the formula, and to me at least, it fell flat. So now, we have Where’s My Mickey, which ramps up the character integration from “secondary character on a Disney Channel animated series” to“ the very face of Disney.” Thankfully, the Disney folks decided that with their superstar, they had to bring their A-game to Where’s My Mickey and by gosh golly, they nailed it. --Carter Dotson
It’s quite difficult to fault Videon. It’s a video recording app that offers mostly everything anyone could want from such a tool. Something that’s bound to be welcomed amongst those planning on recording plenty of videos this summer. Aligning towards many different needs, users can go straight into recording something or choose to change some settings around first. The former is ideal for when the opportunity arises, such as when a child or pet is doing something cute. The latter is great, when planning ahead. --Jennifer Allen
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Mini-U: Zoo Abracadabra for iPad is a charmingly different puzzle app that kids and their parents will both enjoy. This app includes a circus theme where animals create towers holding each other up, creating wondrous shadow-animal shapes. Children are then asked to choose what animal is making up this grand tower from the animal tiles one can select, seen at the bottom of the screen. There are three different levels of difficulty within this app that include an increase in the number both of the animal tiles to choose from as well as the number of the animals balancing together, creating most interesting shapes. --Amy Solomon
My family and I are always excited when a new role-playing app becomes available as these types of apps allow children to imagine themselves performing various occupations as well as to engage in pretend play, making these apps favorites in our house. This new app, Dr. Panda Handyman, is such an app, as children work alongside Dr. Panda helping to fix damaged objects of animal friends and neighbors seen within five separate scenes. I enjoy how the different animal connected to each scene may vary as do some of the details found in these scenes. It makes me smile to see some old faces from other apps such as the polar bears or elephants or monkeys, as well as new characters to meet along the way. --Amy Solomon
Little Nick is a running game game that is based on the popular Nicolas TV and books character. It’s a running game, and the abbreviated top-down view is quite reminiscent of endless runners like Temple Run. In this adventure, we ditch jungle temples and crazed monkey-ish beasts for somewhat suburban streets and Mr Goodman in pursuit. And, we get a bike! For background, Nick is framed for the dastardly destruction of a window, and takes off out the property gates on his two-wheeler to escape the vengeful Goodman after him. But these city streets are littered with obstacles, making escape especially hard. The graphics were more than decent, with good animations. --Tre Lawrence