Snapseed Makes HDR Easy

It isn’t going to satisfy ‘proper’ photographers or HDR proponents we realise, but the latest version of Snapseed (now offered for Free under Google’s ownership) has a new tool in its arsenal, known as HDR Scape.  

Now iOS photographers can have a stab at HDR photography whilst editing their photos in one of our favourite iOS Photography apps. 

Grey card test

To show just how powerful this new tool is we took out our iPad 3 on a very dull and grey November day here on the South Coast of the UK, and we grabbed one of the dullest photos we could, without giving it too much thought.

Live demo

Then we brought that photo into Snapseed on the same iPad and ran it through the HDR Scape tool to see what happened, recording it as a little screencast for you at the same time.

Whilst the results are far from great, we think it is pretty amazing what Snapseed was able to pull out of this dull, flat iPad photo and the potential is clear.  Check out the video and let us know if you have achieved any results with the HDR Scape tool in Snapseed that you would like to share with us (links to any examples would be nice too).

Is the iRig BlueBoard the One We've Been Waiting For?

After being announced back in January at NAMM by IK Multimedia, the iRig BlueBoard was released a few weeks ago and we think this is probably the solution guitarists have been waiting for.   

For a long time we have been extolling the iOS Amp Simulation apps as a viable, more portable, alternative for gigging/recording musicians and we think iRig's BlueBoard takes a big leap closer to that reality (and it also works with your Mac!).

Switching it up (and down)

One of the most essential requirements of any guitarist's pedal board is the ability to switch effects on-the-fly and, to be honest, this was the least practical element of using a touch device in a live situation.  

Changing effects just before a solo in a darkened room was a hit-and-miss affair at best, especially when trying to quickly switch from a rhythm to a solo sound.

We haven't been able to try it ourselves yet, but we are hopeful that the BlueBoard, as seen in the video above, will enable us to do this with any MIDI compatible iPad app, including GarageBand, AmpKit, JamUp as well as all of IK's own apps.  

Likes and dislikes

We like the small and portable sizing that makes it likely to slip into a cables bag. The adjustable backlit pedals are going to be really useful in a live situation and we are fond of the blue too.

If we were being picky, the pedals themselves look a bit small, especially if you tend to wear clodhopper boots on stage.  We would have liked twice as many footswitches really (e.g. one row to switch Banks and another row for the effects switching) but the BlueBoard may have been less portable with 8.  

As it is, with some forethought into the patch setup and ordering of the Banks plus the use of one or two external expression pedals, e.g. a Wah, this will suit most guitarists.

Bluetooth 4.0 is supposed to be more efficient but we are not sure how long a set of 4 AAAs are going to last, although they should see you through at least a few gigs if not several more.

What do you think?

Are you a guitarist or other musician looking to use Amp Sims or iPad Instrument apps live?  Would you use the iRig BlueBoard in your live or studio performances?  Let us know in the comments what you think.

Apple's iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 launch event to be streamed live!

We have a suspicion there's going to be lot's of new toys (hardware and software) for creative iPad owners to play with after tonight's show. Be sure to tune-in

New iPads are a given, but we are also expecting updated iLife apps, plus some kind of iPad cover which could be a bit special given that Apple alluded to it in the teaser invite.

Apple TV fans will be hoping for a serious update to the Apple TV software and perhaps new hardware. A full blown App Store of its own plus game controller support would open up a brand new market for Apple and please many iOS gamers.

Only a few hours until we find out!

'After Dark (Original Club Mix)' by Sensadark, using iPolysix to great effect

This is just such a great sound! Some really impressive work here, especially from around 4:20. Catch all of Sensadark's work over at SoundCloud.

KORG produce a great range of iPad apps, iPolysix is one of its best.

Further Reading: Tune-in Tuesday

'Drew Barrymore' by David Chong

We've featured David's work before, but this is just perfect. Such great use of colour!

Thoughts on iPad 5 and iPad mini 2

We are just one week away from finding out what Apple will do to persuade current iPad owners to upgrade. Here's a look at what to expect.

iPad mini 2

For iPad mini owners that answer is pretty simple, a Retina display.

Many prefer the more manageable size and weight of the mini, but there's no denying that the full sized iPad has a far superior display. It's not yet clear if it's Apple's intent to quadruple the pixel count of the mini's display, hence making it a Retina display, but we certainly hope it does. Going back to a standard display after spending many months with a high DPI display is quite jarring.

If the new iPad mini gets a Retina display it's mostly certainly going to need to move to the A6X chipset. We don't want a repeat of the iPad 3 problems with its underpowered GPU.

iPad 5

We have already mentioned that we expect the new iPad to include a slightly faster version of its new A7 chipset, but it seems likely that it will also include a fingerprint scanner and a more capable main camera module. The iPad 4 is still a powerhouse, so the move to the A7 chipset may not seem like much of an upgrade, however we would contend that readers of this website may well be the ones that benefit most from just such an upgrade.

There are a whole host of apps that could do with a two times speed increase. In fact any application that handles large quantities of photo, video or audio data will be much more usable running on Apple's new 64-bit chipset. Imagine rendering an iMovie project in full 1080p in less that half realtime, that and much more will be possible with the A7X. Apple is calling the A7 chipset 'desktop class' silicon. It most certainly doesn't belong to the desktop class of 2013, but it's right up there with the best of 2009. Not bad for something with a 10 hour battery life and measuring just a few millimetres thick.

Can Apple improve the quality of the screen without increasing the resolution? Yes, we are expecting a slightly brighter, more vibrant display. No extra pixels though, perhaps they'll make an appearance on larger iPad Pro?

Thinking beyond technical specifications, a slimmer, lighter iPad would be most welcome. A 10% weight decrease would be handy, we think Apple will deliver on that front.

Twin speakers to provide some kind of stereo separation would be nice, but not essential. The same can be said of the camera. The current 5MP camera does a sterling job, but if Apple can upgrade it to match that of the iPhone 5s we certainly won't be complaining.

What would you like to see in the new iPad and iPad mini? Let us know in a comment below.

Angry Birds Go! Mario Kart for iOS?

Rovio just released the first gameplay trailer of it's upcoming kart racer Angry Birds Go!. It looks like a great combination of Mario Kart, Diddy Kong Racing and Wacky Races, which is no bad thing. It's got the usual power-ups and kart customisations that one would expect from a Mario Kart clone, plus all the great characterisation of the Angry Birds franchise. Look out for Angry Birds Go! on December 11th.

Frax HD, a journey into the beauty of mathematics

Not only is Frax HD a beautiful app for studying the majestic world of fractals, but it can be used to create artwork, or at least serve as inspiration for artwork. We think you'll enjoy finding just the scene with Frax HD.
It's also worth noting that the promotional video is top notch, a work of art in its own right.
App Store Link: Frax HD

'I've just seen a face' by Susan Murtaugh

Being the huge Susan Murtaugh fans that we are, we just couldn't resist featuring this fruity creation. There are 11 in the series so far, be sure to check Susan's Flickr stream to feast your eyes on the other faces.

Further Reading: The art of Susan Murtaugh

'Lily' and 'Grumpy Cat' by Olechka

More superb iPad paintings from Olechka! You'll be pleased to know that you can now pruchase a variety of products featuring Olga's artwork on Society6. We really love this range of iPad cases.

Further Reading: Olechka

'It's an Elephant, Man' by David Hall

Another artist that has added a live painting video to the iPad Creative Flickr group. We love your work, man!

Note: Flickr's video player uses Flash, hence the reason why we didn't embed it here.

'Aug 17' by Andrey Malikh

We've been huge fans of Andrey's work for quite some time. His clever use of broad strokes plus exquisite detail is just so appealing!

Further reading: Andrey Malikh 

'Feathers' by Chris Padgett

You'll have to forgive us for living under a rock for the last few months, but somehow we've managed to miss both the wonderful artwork of Chris Padgett and the rather impressive Percolator app.

It's worth following the link for the full resolution image.

'Winter Night' by Nikolai Lockertsen

Just stunning! 

Nikolai is probably the most telanted artist on the iPad scene right now. What's more, Nikolai often provides videos of his paintings. There's so much to learn here!

Further reading: Nikolai Lockertsen

'Still life with Japanese trawler' by Matthew Watkins

Once again Matthew Watkins demonstrates his impressive imagination and understanding of scale with this atmospheric iPad painting. The blockbuster Pacific Rim came to mind. Thanks for sharing this beautiful Procreate artwork on our iPad Creative Flickr group Matthew.

Further reading: iPad paintings

Great use of colour by Dave Kuhn

A great use of Procreate too!

Further reading: Procreate

PSA: Don't Update to iOS 7 if you use Audio Apps

The Audiobus team have just written out to their registered users with a caution about upgrading to iOS 7 if you rely on audio apps.

They say:

"iOS 7 audio is not ready. There are a wide variety of bugs that are causing performance problems, crashes and other problems in a large number of music apps."

We have heard several reports that iOS 7 isn't really ready for general release, but this is the first specific warning we have seen for content creators,

The Audiobus team go on to say in their email:

"...until we see a few point releases for the OS, we strongly urge you to stick with iOS 6."

We just wanted you to be aware of this warning before the imminent release of iOS 7.

It may be wise to leave the update for a while and see what issues are reported once it has been tested more widely.

Video: Think an iPad can't be used as a Live Guitar Amp? Think Again!


We have mentioned before the potential for your iPad to replace those hefty and bulky guitar amps you have to carry around with you to gigs as a guitarist.  Actual documented examples are less common than we would like, but here's one.

In the video above Gene Baker is using the brilliant JamUp Pro (or XT) app by Positive Grid as his 'Amp' (read our in-depth review for more on JamUp).  He is switching effects/rigs using JamUp's integration with the Bluetooth AirTurn pedal, allowing for live use as a virtual pedalboard.

Although the sound quality of the video isn't that great, guitarists will be listening out for the solo in Mean Gene Band's cover of the Aerosmith classic 'Walk this way' and we think it definitely passes muster.

What do you think?

Two important features of the iPad 5 confirmed

So the rumours were true and the leaks confirmed, the iPhone 5c and 5s are a colourful iPhone and a faster iPhone with a fingerprint sensor. There were a couple of surprises and these have a bearing on the next iPad, almost certainly to be launched next month.

A7, the new 64bit chipset

Driving the new iPhone 5s is the A7, a powerful 64bit chipset with twice the general computing and graphics power of the previous A6 chipset. It seems certain that the iPad 5 will get an enhanced version of the A7, most likely called the A7X. It's likely that the A7X CPU will run at a higher clockrate and the GPU will likely be significantly more powerful than what is used in the A7. The full sized iPad has many more pixels to push around than the iPhone, so a more powerful GPU is a given if Apple want to avoid a disparity in performance across this new generation of iOS devices.

Free iWork and iLife apps

Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iPhoto and iMovie will be supplied free of charge with anyone purchasing a new iOS device. This is significant as these are all content creation apps. By giving these apps away free Apple is increasing the value of its devices. We think many new iPad owners will be amazed at what the iWork and iLife apps are capable of.

What are you expecting from the next iPad, have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments section.

Great Music Made on an iPad

Sadly, we get far less time than we would like to sample all of the fantastic and interesting sounds that people share with us in our SoundCloud group.  But even a quick dip into the pool of creativity in this group can reveal some gems.

Here are a couple of iOS made tracks taken from the most recent submissions to the group, please give them a listen (and check out the rest of the group).  Be sure to let them and us know what you think:

Hard to believe this last one was all done on an iPad, brilliant production and fantastic guitar work!