Facebook Paper is a social news reader app that lets the users to browser through their News Feed stories, photos, videos and other curated stories.
It is one of the first standalone apps released by Facebook Creative Labs. The Facebook Creative Labs is a special section within Facebook that aims at bringing standalone mobile apps. Facebook Groups is yet another app that is rumored to come soon.
Coming to Facebook Paper, it has a Flipboard-like user interface. It welcomes the user with a Paper feed that has a big photo from a popular story at the top, followed by other stories below.
With Facebook Paper, you can read curated stories from various sections like photography, food, design and more. There are as much as 19 sections that you can browse through.
The main idea behind this app is to bring stories that are great, but not shared by your friends. It’s no longer Facebook anymore with this app, rather a Facebook newspaper, thanks to the Facebook Paper’s news curation algorithm and the human Facebook editors.
The stories from these sections are not personalized though. This means that all the persons would see the same stories all over the world.
The app has been designed to make sharing stories easily with your friends.
Alternative to Facebook native app
The very idea of the Facebook native app is to keep the users engaged with their News Feed stories. With Facebook Paper having this now, and that too with bigger images and a beautiful user interface, people may consider ditching the Facebook native app.
Right now, Facebook Paper doesn’t come with ads, which includes the sponsored stories too. But, it is believed that Facebook will bring ads once people start engaging a lot with this new app.
I don’t write a diary. The closest I have come to writing a diary, is using Path. It’s a mobile-only social network, but I’ve used it as a private place to write.
All this has changed after I’ve tried an app called Day One. The app is so good, that I’m ready to write a diary so that I can actually use the app.
When you launch Day One on your iPhone, you’ll see a giant + icon and a camera icon. Tap the camera icon and you’ll be able to quickly snap a picture and attach it to your diary entry.
You can then attach location, weather and more to your entry, and then start typing text. Day One supports Markdown fine and the sliding bar on top of the keyboard will make it easy to format text using Markdown features.
It even has support for hashtags and Twitter usernames.
Day One has great customisation features built in. The default typeface is Avenir, but you can choose between Futura, Helvetica Neue and many more typefaces. They look gorgeous.
You can also lock the app and make sure it asks a passcode when you open it, for privacy concerns.
It’s amazing how simple the app looks, yet having so many features built in. That’s something which has amazed me.
Day One is actually sold for 2.99$, but it’s temporarily free as part of the App Store fifth anniversary celebrations. So, if you’ve got an iPhone, give Day One a try! I really wish they release an Android app.
Twitter has just sent a minor update to both its iPhone and Android apps showcasing a new Tweet composer.
They have simplified the process of composing a tweet. For example, in the iPhone app, you just get three options – attach location, take a photo or choose a photo. You then get to choose filters for your photos and you’re done.
On iPhone, the Twitter app is much wider now, taking up full space. That can be a considerable improvement for readability. Also, the app notifies you when a friend of you joins Twitter (which is confirmed by checking contacts in your E-mail, I guess).
On the other hand, Twitter for Android now takes full advantage of Android’s powerful notifications system and groups multiple notifications into one. You get to see user’s display picture in the notification itself and they are expandable too.
If there is one problem which is common among all major mobile operating systems, that’s app discovery. Apple’s App Store is relatively better than Play Store and even the Windows Marketplace, but they’re almost on the same floor.
AppGratis was one of those companies which tried to solve this problem with their service. For starters, AppGratis shows off a good paid app everyday, which is free for limited time. It was very popular on iOS, but a few months ago, it got pulled off from the App Store as they violated few of its policies. After a lot of drama took place, AppGratis wrote a blog post officially clearing a lot of confusion among users.
They even have started a petition a month back, which got tremendous response from users. Nevertheless, there’s no signs of Apple bringing back AppGratis to the App Store.
Interestingly, they released their app for Android, a few days back – and it’s pretty good.
While there isn’t anything special about the app on Android, it works. They have posted around 15 app deals, i.e. apps which are free for limited time (a single day, or sometimes even more). Just like the iOS app, you can set AppGratis on Android to notify you every day with an app deal.
All AppGratis recommendations are picked by humans – they are essentially tested and hand picked by their team. This is one of the reasons for why AppGratis is so popular. Though, from what I’ve tried, their Android app recommendations aren’t up to the mark. The apps didn’t seem to be of high quality, but I’m sure the recommendations will get better with time.
While both Android and iOS ship with Calculator apps by default, there are no stock Converter apps. So, you’ve to rely on third party apps. Flib is one such unit converter app, releasing for both iOS and Android.
Flib really stands from the competition with its user interface. The icons look flat and neat and there are neat flipping (that’s why the name ‘Flib’) transitions here and there. Of course, the main focus is still on converting units.
There are a lot units available – starting from area, length, volume to energy, speed, temperature and to even time. If the list is missing the unit you want, you can always mail the app developers for a feature request. It doesn’t convert currency, for example.
Flib is pretty smart too, it shows the most used conversions on the first screen, for easy access. Finally, you can customise the interface too! Basically, you can set your desired colour for the interface.
The app is available for free and can be tried on Android right now. It is also tablet ready.
If you’re an OS X user, you must have tried AirDrop sometime. It’s a feature which lets you share files between Macs, provided they’re on the same Wi-Fi network. Now, though it does work like magic, it’s very limited.
It won’t work with iOS devices at all, for that matter. Instashare tries to fix this.
It brings dead simple file sharing to iOS and Mac devices (Android app soon!). You just open the app on your iOS device, drag the file and boom, it pops up on your Mac (or any other iOS device). It’s that simple. Your devices should be connected either by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
It’s one of those apps which makes you think why this didn’t exist before. You could use iCloud for this, but then you have to wait for it to upload and sync and then download it. Then there is this terrible software called iPhoto which will take forever to actually work.
So, in short, Instashare works like magic and can potentially change your workflow.
The app can be downloaded for free, though there’s a paid ad-free version. A companion Android app (and may be, even Windows) is hopefully in the works.
Whether you like Android or not, you’d definitely agree that Google makes amazing web services – many of which translate into very good mobile apps. Lately, Google has started showing too much love for the iOS platform, so much that it made me think if those iOS apps are actually better than Android apps.
So let’s find out. We’ll compare iPhone and Android versions of Chrome, Gmail, YouTube and more below.
Chrome for Android is actually pretty awesome. But there is one thing which makes it almost unusable, that is performance. I use a Galaxy Nexus which is a previous generation Google device and Chrome sucks on it. Don’t get me wrong, Chrome’s omnibar, tab management, and sync features are awesome.
The app lags and stutters while you scroll, close tabs, heck, even loading a new tab page takes some time.
On iPhone, the situation is a lot better, you will almost never see the app ‘lagging’. Sure, it will load the pages a bit slower because of using UIWebView, but that’s hardly noticeable. It has almost every single feature of Chrome for Android.
Winner: iOS app.
The recent updates to Gmail on iPhone feature a much better interface than the Android version. It looks modern and is much easier to use. For example, you have access to all your labels in the sidebar, there’s pull to refresh and lot more. Gmail on Android looks way too dull, on the other hand.
There’s also a cool feature which lets you scribble and attach the scribbling as a picture, most of the people (including me) will find it useless, but it does work.
On the other hand, the power of Gmail on Android lies in its notifications. First, they’re expandable, so you can get a preview of email right inside the notification shade. Secondly, you can set notifications for specific labels, with different settings for each of them. You can also archive or reply to the mail from the notification itself. All this is possible through the notification system on Android.
Also, attachments are a bliss on Android. Gmail for iOS doesn’t do anything apart from ‘previewing’ attachments.
Ultimately, I guess notifications are much more important than pretty UI, so Android has an upper hand here. More over, there’s a rumor that Gmail on Android is going to get an overhaul with Android 4.3.
Winner: Android app.
Both the Android and iPhone apps are very similar. Both the apps are well designed, but unless you’re obsessed about design like me, you won’t find much difference between both.
Few UI elements like pull to refresh and sliding notifications shade are really detailed in the iPhone app. But on a whole, it’s a tie.
Winner: It’s a tie.
It’s one of those apps Google shipped in urgency during the Apple Maps debacle. They continued the minimal UI philosophy they followed for Gmail and tried to bring the full Android Maps experience to iPhone.
Now, here’s the thing, though Google Maps on iPhone is better than the Android version in terms of UI, it falls apart in features. It completely misses offline maps. Maps on Android let you save specific part of a location or area for offline usage.
Google Maps on Android is also considerably more robust in Navigation, with automatic rerouting, showing alternative routes, more layers etc.
It’s pretty close, but Google Maps on Android does have an advantage over the iPhone app.
Winner: Android app.
YouTube and Google Drive
Both of these apps work well on iOS as well as Android. The Youtube app on iOS has a considerable advantage of saving the video buffer even when you minimize the app.
On Android, if you minimize Youtube while playing a video, all the buffer is lost. This can be really irritating especially on cellular networks.
But in short, both of the apps are pretty close.
Winner: It’s a tie.
One of the most impressive features of Jellybean has been released for iOS recently. You’d expect Google Now to be better on Android as it’s a system app – and that’s true.
Though Google Now on iOS is fast and fluid, it doesn’t send push notifications – which beats the purpose of the app. Also, there’s no ‘quick access’. If you’re on a Nexus device, you can swipe up from home button to quickly launch Google Now. May be that’s too much to expect from an iOS app, but I really love that feature on Android.
Winner: Android app.
It’s clear that Google’s Android apps still are superior to their iOS apps, but – there’s never been a better time for a Google apps user to switch to iOS.
Personally, I can pick up an iPhone today and replace my Galaxy Nexus completely. Also, I’m sure there are many people like me. What about you? We’d like to hear it in the comments.
If you own a iPhone, then you are probably taking a lot of photos. While iPhone does have its built-in features for managing and editing photos, a lot of us like to use apps. Here is a list of free photo editing and management apps for your iPhone.
This app lets you transform your photos by applying cool retro effects to them. Pixlr-o-matic offers a wealth of filters and lighting options in a strip along the bottom as well as a selection of borders. You can either take photos using your device’s camera, or apply the effects to an existing image.
Microsoft’s Photosynth app for iPhone (oddly, it’s not available for Windows Phone 7) lets you create seamless, 360-degree panoramas from multiple photos. Just press ‘start’ and rotate slowly on the spot to capture and stitch together a series of shots. You can add your panoramas to Bing Maps and explore other users’ efforts.
Flock groups together your photos with those of your friends and family to create a shared online album of a particular event. It scans your photos as you take them, and displays them with your Facebook friends’ photos taken at the same time or in the same place, with the same people in them. You can set individual photos to private if you don’t want to share them.
With Pixengo, you can add 30-second voice messages and ambient sounds to your photos to add atmosphere to them and bring them to life. The app works on new photos, as well as old images saved in your gallery. You can share your ‘audio photos’ with friends on Twitter, Facebook and email.
Augmented-reality app Blippar uses your phone’s camera to recognise real-world items such as posters, newspaper adverts and food products. The app then overlays the object with games, videos and web links. Cadbury is currently offering Blippar content via the packaging of its chocolate bars.
Forget messing around with fiddly editing tools; TouchRetouch Free lets you remove unwanted elements from photos using your finger. Just select the item you want to erase and press Go. Usefully, the app includes unlimited Undo actions in case you’ve eradicated something important.
Pic Arts Photo Studio lets you edit individual or multiple photos. You can add stickers, lighting effects and frames, and rotate, crop and resize your photos. Our favourite tool is Color Splash, which turns your picture black and white, then restores colour only to certain parts.
This addictive photo-sharing app, bought by facebook for $1billion, lets you add filter effects and tilt-shift blurs and borders to create unique images from your phone’s camera. You can share the images on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare or by email, and they will also appear on your Instagram account’s news feed, where they can be rated and commented upon.
Dabble turns holiday snaps into postcards that can be pinned via the app to the place the photo was taken, and shared on Facebook by email and by text. You can add messages to your postcards and tag people in them, and see other people’s postcards when you check into a location on the app. When you arrive somewhere, the app will alert you if there is a Dabble photo saved for that location.
Snapseed is also a very popular photo app on iPhone. It is popularly known as the best photo editing app on the iOS ecosystem. Though in the past it was a paid app, it is now free for iPhone users after Google bought it.
There are literally hundreds online apps we enjoy using over time, but in reality we only use a handful of them regularly. For example I give some websites like Opinsy the option to connect to my Twitter and Facebook accounts. This is done by giving the app permission regarding the account. Users can usually review these permission given to apps and revoke them.
The problem for me is that I have to sign-in and check the settings for all the web services I use like Dropbox, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Windows Live ID for managing app permissions on all of them.
I found MyPermissions a very useful tool to clean up the apps I have given permission to connect. The site is actually not very complicated and does not require your ID at all. It simply links to the landing page of app permissions for the popular online websites which are used often to give permissions to apps.
MyPermissions also allows you to use your online profiles to give it permission to actively keep a watch on your app permission. It allows clean-up of permission with a single click and also alerts you to new permissions.
While there’s Instagram for quick photo sharing, there’s isn’t such a product for video sharing. Though YouTube is available on mobiles, the process of uploading videos from the app isn’t streamlined, and hence Google has released YouTube Capture.
The whole point of the app is to shoot videos and share them quickly before the moment is gone, because – you know, life’s fast.
The process is really straight forward – you open the app, shoot a video, after which you add a caption and share it among social networks (here you can actually share it on Facebook and Twitter, not just Google+).
There are few neat features included like video stabilisation which will be really useful for editing shaky videos. There’s also colour correction and ability to add free background music.
Too much iOS love?
One thing which has surprised me a bit is that, Android version of YouTube Capture is yet to come – Google has confirmed that in their blog post. With updated Google search, Gmail, Google Maps and now YouTube Capture, iOS seems to be getting a lot of Google love, lately.