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Favorite Four Apps For Independence Day

Posted by Lisa Caplan on July 4th, 2012

It’s July 4th, so we hope most Americans are out celebrating and reading this on an iPhone or iPad or between activities. But if you are still looking for apps to help make the day even better, we’ve rounded up four of our favorties that commemorate everything from US History to the traditional BBQ for you here.

Weber's On The Grill

An instant classic last year, this grill guide from the masters at Webers has become an iOS standard for the BBQ set. They've added 27 new recipes since July 4th 2011, which makes around 300 total - 40 just for marinades and rubs. There are tutorial videos, tips on cuts of beef, and even a section to take notes. The app also makes creating last minute shopping lists a breeze.

This American Life

The popular public radio show has an app that features podcasts. It's not easy to describe the content, it's a grab bag of people, places, historical tidbits put together expertly to create an immersive listening experience, perfect for setting the tone on your way to the beach or the fireworks. The app has easily searchable shows dating back to 1995, making it something of a living, speaking American history museum. Look for easy social network sharing for those stories that inspire your patriotism.


What's the 4th of July without a few drinks? All-American beer is in most coolers, but if you're looking for cocktails (easily turned into mocktails for those driving or little drinkers) you can spend hours searching online or just grab iBartender. It's something of an App Store classic with recipes, shopping lists and pictures that will make you want to start the party early, and it was just updated to support the new iPad's retina display along with new drinks to keep things fresh.

Presidents vs Aliens

Kids are an important part of Independence Day celebrations, and while it's great for them to be excited about picnics, swimming pools and amusement parks, somewhere between those activities and the fireworks, you probably want them to know a little about what they are celebrating. President vs Aliens is more than just a US history app, it's a silly Executive Branch showdown with E.T.s that will capture imaginations and have grown-ups wanting to take a turn. Kids won't notice they are learning, and you'll have more time to relax while waiting for the big light shows to start.

Favorite Four iPhone Photo Apps for Vacationers

Posted by Lisa Caplan on June 6th, 2012

Summer is here and more people are taking to the skies, roads and rails to travel than at any other time of year. It's great to bring a proper DSLR camera along for professional quality photos, but they are bulky and not always the best options when you are on the move. And, with the iPhone 4S, it's no longer necessary to bring along a standard point-and-click digital camera at all. Whether your iPhone has the latest optics or not, there are tons of apps that make taking, enhancing and sharing vacation pics easier and more fun. This week we look at our four favorites.

Simply HDR

HDR, when speaking of photography, stands for High Dynamic Range and there are many apps that achieve a full range of tones, lighting and detail by superimposing different photos of the same composition onto one another and manually or semi-automatically adjusting them to achieve rich realistic end results. The photos can be beautiful, but most apps require at least some degree of knowledge about HDR to function well. Simply HDR, however, takes both the mystery and layering away. With a single image and some behind the scene magic, photos come out looking lush with no effort. That said, the app does come with a slider for smoothing and several HDR effects including black and white.

360 Panorama 

If you are vacationing anyplace with a killer view - skyline or landscape - a panoramic image allows you to capture a much wider view than traditional photography. As always there are many apps for that, but for ease of use and great results 360 Panorama remains our choice. This universal app allows you to take individual photos and patch them together seamlessly to create stunning vistas. The app uses the iPhone's gyroscope to enable a full 360 degree view and stitches the images with amazing speed.


Group and family vacations call for group and family shots. But trying to get a photo on the fly where everyone looks good is next to impossible. Someone is always looking away, blinking, or making a funny face. GroupShot solves this problem by letting you import several snaps of the same group in the same setting - you really want to snap the base images quickly so everyone stays aligned - and then with the simplest gestures you can swap out funny faces from one photo and replace them with a better facial expression from other images.

The same developers also make  make StillShot, another great tool for travellers, specifically those who shoot more video than they take photos, but still want to have an album to browse through later. All this app does is capture frames from video and convert them to stills, but it does so with remarkable ease and great looking results.

Facebook Camera

Facebook is still the most popular photo sharing venue, and they recently released a dedicated camera app that puts all your friends' photos in an easy-to-navigate stream and let's you share yours. The app has a few fun Instagram-like effects, and pictures can be cropped or rotated, but what makes Facebook Camera shine is speed. Uploading pictures to Facebook is not only faster than with third party apps, it even beats uploading to Facebook directly by several seconds. Vacation time is precious time, and this app will help you keep your eyes on the view, not on your iPhone screen.