So Many Apps So Little Time

Screenshot_2012-11-12-10-04-04Not long ago I made the switch from Blackberry to Android. Many of my cohorts and students wondered why, as a professional photographer, I didn’t go Apple and get an iPhone. But anyone who knows me knows that I am always one who crunches the numbers and weighs the costs with the benefits. The cost of a new iPhone vs. a comparable Android phone that does a great deal more is amazing. I switched to a Verizon Droid Razr that has a mini HDMI port that can attach to a computer, TV or projector so I can use my phone instead of investing in a tablet. It also has software that will access the files on my home computer and all of the apps so far are available from the Google Play store for free. Some of the apps I have been playing with lately are photo related and some are not. My favorites I have been using for some time  include the audible.com app which allows me to listen to audio books on the go. I also like to read instead of listen so I have both the Kindle and the Barnes and Noble apps because I have books from both. I have electronic photography magazine subscriptions through the Zinio app which allows me to read the text or scroll through it as a real magazine.
As for the photo apps, there are several. The camera that is installed with the phone is one that also includes an editor which works well. I can add fill light, adjust the highlights, shadows or auto fix. The FX  adds effects much like the Instagram filters that include cross-processing, posterize, lomo and others. Other features include red-eye, straighten,  sharpen, etc.

So, why would I look for more? Some phones may not have such a powerful editor or may need a bit of help. Aviary is an editor that has a bit more along with the usual editing modes, it has a backlit enhance; you can add frames, stickers and text; you can whiten areas (i.e.teeth or selective highlights); and a blemish brush.

PhotoGrid collage using a template, borders and text.

PhotoGrid collage using a template, borders and text.

Sometimes you may want to publish multiple photos in a fun collage but what to do? There are two options I like for Android- PhotoGrid or PicCollage.  PicCollage allows you to use photos from your camera, Facebook, and the web. You can change the background and add stickers and text. When you are finished you can save it and share it. PhotoGrid is a bit more versatile but it only allows you to pick from the photos you can access on your phone’s card or internal storage. You don’t have to hunt for the folders, however it finds them for you automatically. It allows you to use a multitude of predesigned templates- horizontal, vertical, square and panoramic. you can also create free form collages. It also has a Sketch Guru that turns your photos into sketches.

Collage made using PicCollage

Collage made using PicCollage- free form collage using photos, fun stickers, text and background papers.

There are other apps that have made it onto my phone for photographic uses, but the ones that were soon deleted include TwitPic, Color, Instagram, and RAW. The first two apps are applications used for posting to social networking sites. I don’t go around posting alot of photos to my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Twitter is not really a site made for photos but Facebook is and my accounts are joined so when I post to one it posts to the other. So if you are looking for an app that does that sort of thing you might consider linking your accounts and using Color (for Facebook). You can control to which album it uploads and never have to worry about clean-up later on your Facebook profile. RAW is an app that allows you to view RAW photo files on your phone. Sounds nice but I really didn’t use it much so it was soon deleted. As for Instagram, I liked the fun filters that it offered but the hubbub with their user agreement didn’t sit well with me. For that matter neither did the copyright infrigement of a Hatian photographer who posted photos of the earthquake aftermath via Twitpic three years ago this month.

Social Media agreements makes me leery! Watermarking content for upload is important. In Photoshop I use Digimarc, an unseen watermark that keeps my content safe and trackable. I can’t wait for a Digimarc app for embedding watermarks on the fly but there is one for reading them. Digimarc Discover allows you to read watermarks in print media, songs in music, scan barcodes and QR codes all on your smartphone. Check out how Sports Illustrated used it in their Swimsuit Edition:

Another app I use frequently is the Eye-Fi app. It allows me to upload my photos to my Flickr account when I am not near my home network. I have blogged about the Eye-Fi card previously and am using it frequently to tether between my camera and my laptop even when there is no local network. The Eye-Fi Mobile/Pro creates a network when none is available to allow you to view your images on locations via your laptop, send them to your phone and backup to Flickr or instant sharing to Facebook.

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