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Entries in apps (13)

Creative Kids? Griffin Has Your iPad Covered

Kids are naturally curious and the iPad is a big attraction for them as we know from first-hand experience. However, it is a bit scary for the iPad owning adult to hand their beloved (and expensive) iPad over to sticky little hands.

Griffin want to help you out with this quandary whilst providing something fun and engaging for creative kids with their LightBoard iPad Case. This case is part protective cover, part art stand, and is a unique approach to involving younger iPad users in educational and creative activities using the device.

The LightBoard uses appealing colours in its 'shatter-resistant polycarbonate shell', which includes a cover to protect the iPad screen and a specially designed pocket into which you can slide a piece of paper for kids to draw on.

Griffin have also developed an iPad app to go with this case called LightBoard Trace, a free download in the app store. When you place a piece of paper into the pocket on top of the case, the LightBoard Trace app will display line drawings which can be seen through the paper.

Kids can then trace the drawings using the provided washable felt-tip marker. There are also games and animations using words and letters that teach the child to write their own name and phone number.

We think this is a brilliant and inventive way to involve children in using the iPad creatively with a nice educational slant and this idea really impressed us. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Filterstorm for iPad Gets an Overhaul with Version 2

We wrote about the first version of Filterstorm back in April this year when it was originally released by developer and photographer Tai Shimizu. Version 2 is actually a major upgrade that originally started out as Filterstorm 1.5, but as you will see, much has changed, including major UI updates.

However, despite all the hard work that has gone into the development of this app, the good news is that this is a free upgrade if you have already purchased Filterstorm.

For anyone not familiar with the first version of Filterstorm, here is a description of what it does from the website:

Filterstorm was designed from the ground up to meet your mobile photo editing needs. Filterstorm contains a suite of powerful tools including curves manipulation, color correction abilities, noise reduction, unsharp masking, and black and white conversion fine-tuning. It also includes powerful masking tools, giving you the ability to apply any of the available filters by brush, color range, and gradient, as well as to the entire image.

So What's New

As we said, Version 2 is a big update, and a lot of new functionality has been added. The key features of Filterstorm 2 are:

  • Adjust brush size, softness, and opacity
  • Email images
  • Post images via FTP
  • Save edits as automations to apply to other images
  • Export images up to 3072x2048px
  • Curves
  • Brightness
  • Contrast
  • Color balance
  • Saturation
  • Text tool
  • Black and white fine-tuning
  • 10-step Visual History
  • Cropping, with the ability to specify aspect ratio
  • Scaling
  • Rotation and Image Straightening
  • Sharpen
  • Tone map (Simulated HDR)
  • Blur
  • Noise Reduction
  • Clone Tool
  • IPTC tags available for E-mail and FTP 

A Few Highlights

User Interface Changes

filterstorm-preview-snow-leopard-6.jpg

With Version 2 Tai has brought in a new UI that changes the way the app looks considerably.  The main controls are now on the left of the screen, rather than in a strip across the top, and they reside in a collapsible pane that can be minimised to just a toolbar with a few icons down the left of the screen.

The advantage of this interface change is that previously Filterstorm used drop down or pop out menus which hovered over the image and could obscure the parts you wanted to affect, whereas now the bar can be collapsed whenever you need to see the whole image and whilst making adjustments, much like Aperture and Lightroom do in fullscreen mode on the desktop.

If you want to see the whole photo you can also resize it onscreen so that it fits in the space beside the drawer on the left and you will see Tai do this in the video below.

IPTC Fields

Another major addition is support for IPTC fields.  These stay with the image on email or FTP export but, due to the limitations that Apple have placed on system access (which we mentioned here), information entered into IPTC fields cannot be saved back to your Photo Library with the original image.  

In any case, being able to complete at least some of the key IPTC fields is going to be useful or some, especially when uploading or sharing photos whilst on the move and away from your main desktop photo management software.  The IPTC fields included in Filterstorm 2 are:

  • Caption
  • Headline
  • Title (byline)
  • Keywords
  • Instructions
  • Subject
  • Category
  • Supplemental Category
  • Author
  • Creator
  • Source
  • Provider
  • City
  • State
  • Country
  • Job Title
  • Job ID
  • Copyright
  • Date/Time

Automations

Basically, Automations are Macros, and two are included with the app, Enhance and Vintage.  This is a really nice addition that allows you to tweak an image or apply some standard adjustments to it and then save that set of adjustments for use on other images.  

Let's say, for example, you find that you are always applying a certain amount of sharpness, saturation, brightness, etc. on each image from a certain camera, you can save this as a 'preset' like Automation.  

But Automations can also be used for applying often used text, for example a watermark, as Tai demonstrates in the tutorial video on his site.

Conclusions

Filterstorm 2 goes beyond the basic edits which many other photo editing apps offer on the iPad, it is an ambitious app which really pushes the hardware capabilities of the iPad's first incarnation, but it is currently the closest thing we have seen to a 'proper' photo editing app on the platform.

Realistically, the iPad as it is at the moment, will not be the platform that you do any heavy photo editing on. But if you are away from your main machine, or just can't be bothered to fire up and wait for your desktop machine, Filterstorm 2 is one of the most comprehensive options for editing photos on the iPad at the moment.

Filterstorm 2 is a free upgrade for those who have already bought the app, and for a limited time it is only £1.79 ($2.99).  At that price, and with the number of features included, we think it is a definite purchase. Take the time to dive deep into the interface and learn what it can do and we are sure you will be impressed with the results.

To find out more and see what Filterstorm 2 is capable of, please watch the video below, and if you try the app out, let us know what you think in the comments below.

Friday Fun: "Eye of the Tiger" - Made on an iPad

You may have seen this already, but we loved this and wanted to share it with you.  Jordan Hollender (Flash only portfolio site), a New York based commercial photographer and all-round creative artist, has produced this humorous video to accompany Scott Harris' cover of 'Eye of the Tiger'.  It was created as part of a promotional exercise for commercial production company Zbabam Productions (another Flash based portfolio site).

Of note for us though is that all of the music was created using iPad music apps, and then the video was shot with Canon DSLRs (a 5D Mk II and 7D) over a couple of days and edited in Apple's Final Cut Pro. 

We have been banging the drum (pun intended) for music creation on the iPad since we started this blog, and here is another fine and fun example of what can be accomplished with a few apps and a very healthy dose of creativity.

What do you think?

HD Video Frame Grabber for your iPad

A couple of days ago we posted about how great the new iPhone 4's HD footage looked on the iPad screen.  If you wanted to show someone else how good the video looks or grab a frame from that great looking video you could try waiting until just before the right moment, press the Home and Power buttons at the same time, switch to the Photos app and check the frame grab to see if you were fortunate enough to capture the moment you were after.  If not, you have to switch back to the video start playing it again, wait for the right moment... and so on.

Or, you could spend £1.79 (or $2.99) on VideoPix for iPad [iTunes link] from See It With Us.  This app is an iPad specific version of the previously released iPhone app.  (Non-DRM) Videos on your iPad can be played back as slowly as 1 frame per second, giving you absolute control over the image that you then capture.  The app keeps recent frame captures in its own library and you can email up to 20 frames in one go for sharing purposes.

Once you have grabbed your frame you can then crop the image and add a few basic effects, i.e. Black & White and Sepia.

Source videos can be those already on your iPad (i.e. synced from iTunes), as long as they are not DRM'd, you can transfer video over Wi-Fi from another device, or alternatively import video via the Apple Camera Connection Kit.

720p is the recommended maximum resolution for this app, they don't recommend 1080p video due to concerns over slow performance, so if you do try this on your iPad let us know how it goes.

There are a number of uses for this kind of app such as grabbing frames from movies for your own personal uses (like wallpapers), the company cites the example of golfers wanting to analyse a video of their swing frame by frame to spot the point at which they wobble, etc. but really it is useful to us to grab a screencap from a video to illustrate a blog post or to play back a video in slow motion to see the detail captured in our HD footage.

If you have any questions about what you can do with this app and your iPad there is a very useful FAQ on the See It With Us website so take a look, and if you get this app and find it useful we would like to hear how you have used it. Let us know in the comments below.

The video below shows the iPhone app in use, but it gives a good idea of how the app works:

 

Tapped-in look at Creative drawing apps for Kids

Along with some of the stellar drawing and painting apps for more serious artistic endeavours which we have covered here previously, there is a healthy stream of creative iPad apps specifically for children to engage with, and some of them look great.

If you are brave enough to let sticky little fingers touch your iPad, then Fox News' Tapped-in team have a nice little round-up of four drawing/colouring apps for kids in the video below.

There is a new episode of the Tapped-in podcast every few days, some iPad app and some are iPhone app focussed but the episodes are only ever a few minutes long so it worth a watch usually.  You can subscribe to the video podcast here or on YouTube here.

 

Filterstorm updated & iPad video demo

A few days ago we wrote about the Photo editing apps hitting the iPad store, and one of the apps we were really keen to see in action was Filterstorm.  Early indications were that the iPad hardware wasn't quite up to the challenge of editing larger files, e.g. 5MP JPEGs.  But developer and photographer Tai Shimuzu has been working hard on improving things and has now got an update in the app store, which he says improves performance, but by downsizing the photo.  And it is still free.

More interestingly for us, he has posted a video tutorial on the Filterstorm site of him actually editing a photo and completing the process, from selecting the photo in Filterstorm through to the final version.

It is really interesting to see the enhancements that Filterstorm can apply to a photo. Watching Tai specify the curve adjustment and then selectively brushing it on to the photo reminds us of the same process in Lightroom or Aperture, and the results are impressive. The app still looks a little bit slow, but until we see it for real, operating on our own photos, we cannot say if that is just because of the video, the app itself or the iPad struggling to keep up.

We are sure Tai is continuing to improve the app and optimise it further, but if you are curious to see the iPad in action editing photos for real, check out the video below.

Apple Changes Categorisation of Apps in iTunes for iPad

If you are running iTunes 9.1 on your Mac, have a look at your apps section.  Has it changed?  We have just noticed that our apps section when viewed as a grid is now split into three areas:

  • iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad apps (we are guessing these are 'Universal' apps
  • iPhone and iPod Touch apps (non-iPad apps?)
  • iPad apps (designed for the iPad only - if you have any downloaded)

This is interesting because it is really not clear which apps are iPad only or Universal in the App Store in our opinion.  Although this categorisation will only show on apps you have on your computer, it is at least a start to making sense of the (in our case) hundreds of apps kicking about on our hard drives for testing purposes, or just in case we need them some day.

iPad Photo editing apps hit the App Store

In the last few days a number of photo editing apps have gone live in the app store ready for the iPad launch.  You are not going to be editing your RAW files yet on the iPad, it doesn't seem to have the processing power for that at the moment, although we would like to see just how slow it is as processing RAW files.

But if you have JPEG files in your iPhoto library, or presumably on a camera/SD card although we haven't confirmed this yet, then you can have a go at editing them on your brand spanking new iPad.  Here are a couple of notable mentions.

 

Filterstorm

Filterstorm screenie.jpg

 

The best looking app and the one that got us most excited is Filterstorm.  The interface looks really nice and the app is FREE for a limited time after launch day tomorrow, so if you are getting an iPad, go and get it now and let us know what you think.  The app takes the approach of having three Image Editing modes: 1) affecting the whole image, 2) brushing on colour and effects to selected areas, or 3) applying filters to a specific colour range.

The ability to use an adjustment brush on your photos, much like you can in Aperture or Lightroom, really appeals to us and makes this app stand out from some of the others. Do check out the Filterstorm site and have a look at the screenshots.  The developer, himself an accomplished photographer, is honest about why he is giving the app away for free, basically because there are some features that he has not had time to put in, such as image rotate and cloning/healing tools, and he has not tested how fast it runs on a real iPad!  There is a work-through tutorial on the developer's site too, which helps you see in practical terms how useful this app will be. 

 

Photogene

photogene screenie.jpg

 

Photogene is an app we have been using on the iPhone for a while, and which now has its own iPad optimised version out in the app store for £3.49.  In our opinion the iPhone version of this app is quite powerful but the interface and interaction is not as well refined as some apps.  When you get used to the interface for the app though, and discover where all the key tools are hidden, it provides a lot of useful features.  Nothing out of the ordinary really, but it is good to see Photogene on the app store and being developed for the iPad platform.

 

Camera Bag

Camera Bag iPad.jpg

 

Another little heart flutter came upon us when we saw that Nevercenter had announced a version of their wonderful retro-filter app Camera Bag for the iPad.  It is a firm favourite of ours on the iPhone, but it has always felt a little cramped at that screen size, so we are salivating over seeing this running at fullscreen on our iPads, and at a special launch price of £1.79, we think it is a bargain.

New for the iPad are interface optimisations and increased resolution, but also a new 'Vary' feature, which allows personalisation, maybe a little randomisation, of the filter effect that you have chosen, to give individual results for your images.

We can't wait to try it.

Over to you

If you have tried any of these apps on your iPad and can tell us how well they run, or you have used another photo editing app that you think we should be looking at, please let us know in the comments.

Gizmodo - iPad mockups we want for real

For the last few days Gizmodo have been running a competition asking readers to submit their mock-ups and ideas for apps they want to see on the iPad.  Today they posted the winners and included a gallery of all the notable entries, all 53 of them.  Some of the entries are a bit borderline humour/offensive (you have been warned) but there are some really good ones too.

Interestingly, a few of them echo our wishlist in our recent five part series on the apps we want to see on the iPad (which ended today), including the GarageBand app, the sort of iMovie app, the Sketchbook app and a Photoshop app. An honourable mention goes to the DSLR remote control/Live View app for Photographers too.  Who knows, perhaps we will see some of these for real soon?

Do check these out though, there are certainly some talented Photoshop users out there!

Developing for the iPad? Omnigraffle Stencils for Free

We're not sure why, but this makes us want to develop an app for the iPad just so we can play with these stencils in Omnigraffle.  iA (InformationArchitects) are giving them away free in a bundle that you can use to mock up designs for apps on the iPad.  As an added bonus, "the text is fully editable on the lists, title bars, buttons, and scroll wheels", so you can overlay your own text on those elements, nice.  Check out the site and download the set here.