China based Meike wants a shot at your iPhone

It has become apparent these days that all people want is to add on lenses to iPhones. Why iPhones? Why not Android devices?

The problem lies with perception.

iPhones are premium items. Meaning people who buy them are either rich or have plenty of extra cash to double down on a seemingly average spec device.

So you have a add on lenses from a slew of manufacturers including Zeiss of Germany. And from China, you have another player who wants to jump in from Meike.

Now, Meike isn’t a global brand and they are selling an iPhone housing that takes advantage of external lenses. Zoom, wide angle and macro are the flavors you can doubld down on but beyond that, it isn’t much different than the rest of the offerings.

Sorry but there are no example photos to show from the site so you don’t know the sort of quality you are getting by buying this. At least Zeiss optical has proven images but for this add on lens from Meike, d’uh.

Meanwhile, LG and Huawei have jumped into the dual lens camera bandwagon. Would this be enough? Only time will tell.

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Is Rufus the Future of Wearables?

 

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Yes you can strap a 4 inch iPhone onto your wrist and do the same thing but the apps would not be convenient.

This is why Rufus was invented. Now he Rufus Cuff isn’t a spectacular device. you could of course strap any 4 inch Android to your wrist and get it working the way you see below without any problem.

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The whole idea behind the Rufus Cuff was for the industrial workforce to stay in touch but only through WIFI. The industrial version also comes with a bar code scanner that is connected via bluetooth to the Cuff, though I am not sure if the extra step is worth the trouble since battery life is limited to one day of use. It would have been more useful if the device used eInk screens since we don’t need full color applications for industrial use.

Consumer Version is a Dud

The consumer version is basically the same. And there are no external storage offered via microSD. So this means you have to ante up to the 64GB storage if you want to stream music or movies.

The other downside is that it hasn’t got any cell reception. It is just WIFI enabled.

And to throw a spanner in the works, there is no heart rate monitor. So its usefulness as a health tracker is severely restricted.

GPS is only useful if you have downloaded stored maps and you can’t access online mapping unless you have a WIFI enabled mobile router from the likes of Huawei.

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In spite of all this, the Rufus is working in the right direction for a wearable device, with the Apple Watch looking more like an expensive toy than an accessory.

I am sure the Chinese will figure this one out and slap on a low power screen, calling and messaging option via a proper mobile network and add both a front and rear facing camera in a package that runs stock Android.

The Chinese have already done this with a slew of watches made in China that does all of the above but battery life is really the main challenge. The technology for the Rufus is already available and it is just a matter of shrinking the chip sets to make the whole package wearable.

Specifications

TI CORTEX A9 PROCESSOR

BLUETOOTH 4.0

3.2 INCH TFT CAPACITIVE TOUCHSCREEN

9-AXIS ACCEL/GYRO/COMPASS

SPEAKER

MICROPHONE

FRONT-FACING VIDEO CAMERA

VIBRATION ALERT

16/32/64GB STORAGE

1175 MAH BATTERY

LED ALERTS & FLASH

ANDROID KIT KAT

MULTIPLE LANGUAGE SUPPORT

WI-FI 802.11 B/G/N

Walk the Talk. Ripple Buds for mobile phones.

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When it comes to receiving calls, even on Skype or BBM, you’d need to have to talk to your phone, which apparently isn’t the best way to communicate when out and about with the noise.

Ambient noise or sounds will interfere with your speech and this is probably one reason people turn to Bluetooth hands free headsets which unfortunately don’t perform any better.

One of the problems is that certain frequencies can still be heard in noise cancellation bluetooth hands free sets so it is not fool proof unless you switch to a throat mic.

The benefits are you get crisp clarity while looking like a super duper secret agent.

The downside is that there are some messy wires to deal with.

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FBI style throat microphone for mobile

 

Now for many of you, I am sure you remember Agent Smith form the Matrix movies. He wears a throat microphone most commonly associated with FBI agents and this is where you get a chance to see it work.

The throat mic picks up your voice via a pair of sound transducers place around your throat.

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It is still being used by Spec Ops, Secret Service and in law enforcement. Many are not aware that this old style technology is probably the best way to communicate when connected to your mobile device. And you can buy these off cheap on eBay or Amazon.

The throat mic has been around for a very long time, invented by an American pilot, it was made famous by the Tiger Tank crews of World War 2. The German tank commander wore one just to communicate with team mates and one to one with other tank commanders.

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wunderbar, now i can hear myself talk…

The clarity can’t be beat as it does not pick up noise from the outside so if you want to be heard clearly, there is no beat this simple and trusted technology.

There are several types of throat mics in the market and the new generation ones puts a microphone in your ear canal, because your voice carries over to your ear canal, why not put one in there as well. This is where Ripple aims to make the difference.

There are several types of Bluetooth hands free that does a similar job but Ripple claims to beat them at their own game…and price.

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Ripple will work with any smartphone. To use you just need to pair it.

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The Ripple buds come with their own charging case where you can charge these earbuds while not in use. What’s more, it has stereo capability if you have two working at the same time.

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Ripple buds have been funded at Kickstarter and should be available for release world wide in May or June of 2016.

 

 

Movi Camera for Live Streaming

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There are truck loads of cameras to use with your mobile. For those who like to live stream, there is Periscope and GoPro 4, which allows you to show a POV scene or your talking head. But things are going to change if you have a two person set up when Movi or Mevo camera becomes available.

This rebranded camera is going to cost you 400 but you can get it for preorder at 300.

What is this contraption?

It is a mobile portable studio.

To use this camera, you need to have the Livestream App. But Facebook will be utilizing this same purpose built camera for its Facebook Live streaming platform. To use it with FB Live, you need to be some sort of celebrity at least for the time being.

For those already going live with LiveStream, you are in luck.

Mobile Studio Cam

This is a clip taken from Mevo to show how it all works.

 

 

iWatches are not Practical…yet!

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So you were the one of the first 2.8 million buyers of the Apple Watch? Well hold on to them, they could be worth a lot of money on eBay in 20 years time.

One of the problems with wearables is this, it’s just not practical or worth any money as a used product once you want to sell it. What’s more, there are so many other alternative brands to come out from the likes of Pebble which are more useful but less connected. And this is inherently the problem. Having a connected watch also means it drains battery. Battery technology hasn’t advanced much since the last decade and what’s more, none of the Smart watches from iOS or Android has proven to be a runaway hit. It is essentially, a gadget for gadget freaks.

I have had two experiences, one with a Fitbit clone called the X6 Vidonn and the other is a Pebble Classic watch that cost only 99 bucks.

I must admit that I love the concept of the smartwatch as it would prove useful for a person like me. I have this habit of tucking my phone in my pocket and not hear notifications or calls when I am up and about. So if I had a companion smartwatch, that would make life so much easier. Personally, the Tag Huer Smart watches are the only ones which seem to have outclassed the likes of the Apple Watch but with an even more premium pricing of US$1,500. So all a sudden, if you want something more premium, the Tag makes perfect sense.

But there are others who just want a smart watch for the heck of it. We want to use technology for all that is worth and there is nothing wrong with spending US$360 for one. Problem it, would be practical?

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Here are some of the problems to consider in the long run.

#1 Battery Life Sucks

Ok, maybe this applies more to the Apple Watch than Android wearables but still, the battery life isn’t going last you more than a few days. The usage is dependent on your mobile device. If it is left silent without any notifications, maybe you could extend its life a little longer. Having to charge your Watch at the end of the day…every day or every few days, might sound like a plan but trust me, you’d rather swap out a battery than having to charge it. Wall hugging is a reality if you have to charge your watch once every two days. So imagine if you happen to use that watch a wee bit too often in a day and you’d be screaming for a wall plug in a supermarket.

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#2 You can’t use the Wearable without a Mobile Device

Yep. It’s not a stand alone device. If you think you can find more use for it when you forget to take your iPhone or Android device with you, good luck to you. It might be able to show you the time and day but beyond that, I beg to differ. There are of course China made smartwatches that are completely stand alone. This means you can insert a SIM card into and receive calls, however most of them make use of the older 2G networks for data, which are low drain on the battery, so 3G or 4G is probably pushing your luck a bit when it comes to battery life.

For the rest of us eying the Moto 360 and Apple Watch, these watches have to be connected all the time to be useful.

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#3 Connection issues are the Norm

After you pair your mobile device to your Wearable Watch, don’t expect it to have constant connection. Bluetooth, WIFI and your own inborn talent for telepathy…. these all have connection failures from time to time. Some have less problems, others have more and signal interference is the main cause of it all. So if your watch suddenly stops working because of a broken connection with your mobile device….it’s actually quite normal.

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#4 You can’t make calls like Dick Tracey

This is another reality about watch wearables, you can’t make calls even with a wearable type app. The problem is that speaking to your watch in public will make you look like an idiot. It’s not cool. Instead you have notifications for your watch wearables that appear if someone calls or text. This is probably a better option, as you may not want to whip out your phone to find out that your boss is calling to check on you! But talking to him through the watch? Meh…..

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#5 You can’t play Games on it unless it’s a Flappy Bird

The lack of screen real estate is the problem. If you have big fingers, how the heck are you going to see anything you are moving on screen? Gaming is also big battery drainer. So if you want your Android watch or Apple watch last 12 hours, staying away from gaming is the best policy.

We are also led to believe that since the smart watch has a touch screen, we should be able to key in text messages. Well that’s a long shot unless you were born with stylus like fingers. Text typing on a touch screen watch face is folklore.

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Practical Value versus Technology

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Frankly, to address the issue of connection failure, battery life and gaming…you need a bigger watch. Yep. A super sized device for your wrist. Until we can build super small devices and nuclear powered watch batteries, there is no chance in hell you would find a wearable watch practical enough for every day use. Much of the connection problems is due to battery power conservation. To transmit data wirelessly from your iPhone to your Watch requires a battery big enough to power the circuits. By having circuits which frugal power users will only guarantee you one thing, usability failure.

The idea now is to pack a bigger battery, making the watch a much bigger item on your watch. Would that look cool? I’m not sure but if you have large arms and a big body build, you might get away from it. For the skinnies, a fat watch on your arm isn’t cool.

The magic number in terms of price is still missing. I think the real world possibilities will start with a 99 bucks wearable and not something that cost more than 200 dollars.

Something has to give. If you want an attractive watch, you probably have to give up on practicality. If you want something practical, be prepared to have a battery pack strapped to your shoulders. Now that sounds like a new Kickstarter project which you can look into.

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Mobile Photography Hot Tips: How to Dump that DSLR for a Smartphone Camera?

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Smartphones. They are everywhere. And you can even shoot pictures for microstock agencies right from your mobile! The phenomenal technology that goes into smartphones has made it the go to device for all your pictures moments.

However, for DSLR and DCC camera users, the transition might be a little more disturbing to adapt to as the smartphone camera operates more like a neutered digital compact camera. Many have even heard of the virtues of Smarphone photography that mirrors the capability and even exceeds traditional compact cameras with the use of an app. Here are some tips to transition smoothly from DSLR to Smartphone shooting.

Why no buttons for manual controls?

Android smartphones actually do have manual controls but it comes via a mobile app, you can do this via a playstore app but don’t expect it to be at the same level as a DCC or DSLR. You might be able to choose a variable shutter speed for those action shots with it but much of what it does is still very hardware dependent. For example, shooting at the highest or lowest shutter speed depends on your smartphone camera’s capability. Some devices offer only 1/15 sec of exposure while others can do 1 second. It’s not perfect for low light but tell me, how often do you even shoot in low light unless you were born a vampire and love hanging out only at night?

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Next beef is….few, if any would be insane enough to shoot fast action sports with a mobile device but for slower exposures, it should be possible, except that the sensor can’t possibly hold up to that found on a DSLR. But in daylight, who gives a damn? Even in some low light situations, the HDR+ mode on some smarpthones such as the Nexus 6 uses computational algorithms to get better exposure so turning to manual controls is starting to sound pretty dated.

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Selfie Sticks can be used with Camera Remote

10341774-1Every wondered what to do with your Android Watch…besides telling time? Well you can use that with your Selfie sticked Android device for a better view. Yes, there is an App for Android wear that lets you pair your Android watch to your Andriod Smartphone for use on a selfie stick. Now, we all know that selfie sticks are made for selfies but do you know that you can also use it to aim from a higher angle? Trying doing that with you DSLR!

For this trick, you need to have Android wear paired as a controller and display screen for your mobile device. Once you get the angle you want which you can view on your watch, just hit the shutter button on your Android Watch app and you have your picture.

DNG files from your Android

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DNG support is available for devices running Android Lollipop however to use it, you need to have an app. One of the problems is that DNG support was included in an API which was not widely used by device manufacturers for fear that it would stuff up your SD card or internal storage for photos. Think about it. If you have a 16 megapixel camera, a DNG file could be as much as 16MB…so unless you want it, you have to get an app for it.

DNG is far more versatile for now. Google Photos allows you to upload directly to the Cloud as long as it is below 16MB in file size…for free.

No Aperture settings so there is No Bokeh?

This is true. The majority of smartphones do not have aperture controls. So if you suddenly went manual, to obtain Bokeh blurs, you’d be disappointed. But that’s not to say it is impossible. Devices running Android Lollipop 5.0 have access to Google’s Camera App that gives you Bokeh effects.

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Bokeh as rendered on Google Camera App

GPS lets you record metadata into Photos

Mid to high end DSLRs from Nikon, Sony and Canon have built in GPS capability for location tracking but for smartphones, this comes ready built and available with a flick of a switch. For Android devices, you only need to switch this on in your settings menu for GPS to track and embed the location meta data for all your images.

367659129_3e288b81f2There is no need to buy a third party device like the Sony thingy you see here. Geo location can also be enabled with the help of an app on your smartphone should you happen to use a dated DSLR—GPS metadata has to be paired with a desktop app to sync the data. Yes, there is an app for that but these days, why bother when you can shoot directly from your smart mobile device?

Digital Zooming =  Cropping your Photo

These days, who needs a bigger optical zoom when you have the ability to crop an image for composition sake? Imagine this for a moment. The new Galaxy Note 5 has a 16 megapixel sensor, which gives you TWICE the image of that from an iPhone 6 which has 8 megapixels, so even if you crop your Galaxy Note 5 image in half, you still have a 8 megapixel picture! Cropping your photo is like telephoto zooming except that the more you zoom in, the resulting image would be smaller.

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So if you have a Sony Xperia or Panasonic CM1 with a 20 megapixel sensor as your picture canvas, why bother with a telephoto lens? This image capture logic was put to good use with Nokia’s 1020 and 808 smartphones which has 40 megapixel cameras.

Sell what you Shoot instantly!

Say you have a great picture moment and what to sell it online as oppose to attracting Facebook envy when you put it up for all to see, well you can do it directly with apps such as EyeEm, 500ppx, Clashshot, etc, etc. Your device could earn you decent beer money if you are up and about as the Microstock business has all but decimated the stock image library business.

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People want to buy cheap photos, and not pay royalties and where possible, thereby putting professional photographers out of business. There is no business like the stock image business if you want to tip your toes into these waters so why keep those great photo moments when you can sell them with an app.

Postproduction work can be done on your Smartphone

With a DSLR, you have to lug around a computer to do any serious post production enhancements or for that matter, use a tablet computer. But all this don’t make cents when you are not shooting for money. Those casual photos can be easily edited on the fly with a free app like Snapseed on iOS or Android and posted online. When you travel, the extra space you save in baggage handling would be a God send without that Notebook computer!

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Original JPG image from compact digital camera

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Captured on a Digital camera and later edited on AfterFocus Pro and Snapseed.

Why Casual Shooters are Dumping their DSLRs

Casual shooters, you belong to a different class of picture creators. You don’t shoot professionally as quitting your day job just to become a photographer is like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. So why not shoot on the side and sell what you have when there is a market for it? It’s like being a home gardener, when you have more than you need, why not sell those to earn some extra cash?

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First, thinking that you can earn a decent income just by doing what you enjoy doing is a dangerous sport. Those who do are the handful who have built a pool of savings to do what they please in the world so going out to just shoot beautiful pictures is more of a hobby.

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Captured and edited entirely on Android Smartphone

People like Tom Anderson formerly of Myspace and Trey Ratcliff of stuckincustoms.com are exceptions rather than the rule. To make money from photography, you’d need to built up your own fan base and in the process go on lectures and speaking engagements. Selling prints and licensing isn’t a big deal if your name isn’t out there for the world to notice. There rest of the professionals you see in this world who call themselves photographers are an old breed of craftsmen, they make or stage photos for commercial benefit.

Mobile photography frees ourselves from the traditional constraints of photography while allowing ourselves to indulge in our past time whenever and wherever we want.

However there is no curing the gear envy that people have from holding a large camera. If you want to shoot pictures with a hefty DSLR, it better be for professional reasons. Casual shooters who have far less demand on digital imaging would do no wrong to dump that DSLR in this day and age because carrying one can be a real bitch.

Mobile Apps that help you make Money

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So you got yourself a rather expensive mobile toy and besides Facebook, you really are just wasting time on it playing games and taking photos. But do you know that you can make some beer money for yourself while at it? The technology is here and it’s up to you to get the ball rolling.

Here are some of the possibilities listed below.

Broadcast your gameplay on Twitch and YouTube

These are just two of the most popular channels to make money that has taken the world by storm. Gaming is a big market and there are so called pro gamers who spend all their time making videos online for their gameplay as a guide for newbies on YouTube. Think of PewDiePie, who started recording his gameplay and posting it to YouTube, he’s now elevated himself to the status of Internet Celebrity with his whimsical channel on cold hard Swedish humor. How could a country that gave us Abba in the 70s produce such talent is beyond me. maybe it has to do with their fermented herring, Surstromming? Which enjoys the status of being the most horrible tasting food next to Icelandic fermented shark meat. PewDiePie makes an average of US$4 million a year from this alone!

Twitch is a gaming only site where you can post your gameplay and commentary. It is the biggest ass kicker for online game voyeurism but the Twitch App for mobile does not allow you to stream your gameplay to the channel for this you need to get a little smarter by recording your gameplay and streaming it later on a PC.

samsunggamerplusSamsung’s GameRecorder+ is the only one that works best for game recording and unfortunately available only on their Galaxy App store. For iOS, you need to find a screen recorder….and there isn’t any. Apple thinks its wrong to let an app record what you are doing onscreen. Go figure. The only way to do a recording of your gameplay is to broadcast it via a third party hardware accessory needed for video output. Need I say more?

For Android, many of the available apps for screen recording require your device be jailbroken, but those running Lollipop will be spared this messy step. Samsung’s Galaxy GameRecorder+ is the only one that allows you to record this seamlessly while also recording your narrative live from the front facing camera. Neat!

Get Famous on YouNow

Not recommended for introverts, ISIL guerrilla recruiters or Dems and GOP candidates, YouNow is an entertainment channel that rivals that of Periscope and Meerkat on Twitter. It regularly pulls in US$1 million in revenue every month with top YouNow celebs earning US$10,000 a month.

YouNowThe YouNow mobile app allows  you to broadcast live from your mobile device so the only thing you need to fret about is the mobile data bandwidth. The mobile app is a self contained broadcast channel so you can’t include pre-recorded streams.

Aside from this one restriction, everything is live. Yep. Talk, play, do that juggling act or say stupid jokes. If an Arab working in a convenience store can be an online celebrity on YouNow, why can’t you?

Make that Photo Pay for itself

So you like photography? Great. Where do you start to make some beer money from what you do? The iPhone camera is great while the Galaxy S6 is even better. Pictures you take can be enhanced anyway you like and once you have a great photo, why not see if you can sell it or enter it in a photo challenge?

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Scoopshot is one that you can make some money out of your mobile photography pictures. Just submit a photo to their task challenges and get paid between US$10 to US$50 per photo.

How it works is simple. Photo Buyers with a budget will send out regional or global photo challenges with the winners getting their photos bought for the stated reward. Each is different and you can enter as many as you like as long as the photo is captured according to the buyer’s brief…that’s on how it should taken, and if faces of models can be seen or not seen.

FOAP is for selling Brand related Photos

Available for both iOS and Android, FOAP operates in a similar manner to Scoopshot but the key difference is that its photo contest challenges are sponsored by brands. They pay more too of course and FOAP has been winning hearts of those who love to drink. There are tonnes of food and lifestyle contest that must feature the brand owners products in your photo shots and many of them involving having fun or just foodie with drinks shots. Rewards vary, some offering as little as US$100 or up to thousands if a car brand is involved.

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Snapwire is for anyone looking for crowd sourced Images

Snapwire is an app designed for just about anyone who is on the look out for unique photos to buy. These days, buying a royalty image can be a real pain as you have to spend countless hours doing it. So why not get someone to shoot it for you instead?

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Rewards vary but it can range from anything from US$50 to US$800. So if the US dollar is king in your country, you may find it very worthwhile to shoot images for these request. Some request are pretty mundane others are plain simple. The challenge is to submit an image that will sell.

There are clear guidelines on what is needed in the brief and you are also told if a model release is required. More often than not, these request are far less sticky compared to submitting to microstock image agencies so even if you are just practicing your photography with an iPhone, you can still submit your worst shots and see how that fares.

Are there any other Ways of Making Money with your Mobile?

It depends on you really because if you don’t mind mining for Bitcoin, there is an app for that too. But let’s be clear, Bitcoin mining isn’t made for mobile. It is getting harder and harder to keep the blockchain going and for your efforts, you are only earning a handful of bit cents. That to me makes no sense to me.

Other methods are all indirect, and doesn’t give you an end result. There are no mobile video only microstock agency as yet making them on a mobile app is still a long way off. Video editing tools are relatively hum drum on mobile devices and unless you get a hardware bump upwards, shooting them and editing them to acceptable quality on mobile is way off.

If you cite apps like Uber, HomeAway, Flipkey and Airbnb, those require you to have a home or a car and unless you have that, you can’t partake in the business.

Vayable is an app for Tourist guide wannabes. Available only on iOS, it looks for guides in cities or places which you have insider knowledge over. If you qualify as one, you may just get hired for the day. The problem with this sort of services is that you need to verify yourself as a local guide with video post and presentations using a desktop computer. The mobile app, like Airbnb, is only used to market your services.

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Demotix is a news portal that shouts out loud on citizen journalism but having your news featured and bought is a tough call for one simple reason, you have to capture pictures on your phone camera and file the whole story with it. Both iOS and Android apps are supported. Unless you live in a place that is far from traditional news centers, your chances of being featured will be better. Most of the news happening now is already being captured by paid journalist and unless it is in a war zone, where news agencies are loath to send their own paid interns, then you might have a shot at getting your news sold.

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Crowd sourcing is a big part of this equation these days. To be part of a Lyft or Airbnb experience, you need to have something to offer. So do your homework before you sign up.

Camera Phones or Lens Cameras?

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This is not a weapon. It’s a smartphone with a lens camera!

So photography is going mobile, and what’s your weapon of choice? We all know that the mobile phone’s camera is just too small to support quality imaging in low light, so what’s your plan? Since Christmas is round the corner would you want a DSLR, or would you consider something simpler, like maybe a lens camera? The Lens Camera, a camera system pioneered by Sony with its QX series didn’t quite shine as brightly as people thought. But the concept was a hit and there are so many pretenders from China emulating the lens camera that sells for as little as 100 bucks online. However if you want the real deal here are three to consider.

DxO One

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DXO One Taking a cue from the Olympus Air, the DxO One is the lens camera that is built especially for the iPhone as it uses a dedicated lightning connector to bridge its control and imaging capabilities. The cost of DxO One cost in the ballpark of US$600. Sensor size is as small as the Nikon System 1, probably smaller is good but not the sensor. With 20 megapixels at your disposal, the iPhone 6s won’t be a competitor. DxO captures both RAW and JPGs so it will be a useful fit. Unfortunately it does not support 4K video capture.

Aside from this, connectivity is only through the lighting port for iPhones only. Sounds like a dumb idea but hey, Android devices are already hitting the 16-20 megapixel output mark and the only brand that needs a camera upgrade comes from Apple.

Olympus Air Lens Camera

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Retailing in the ball park of about US$400 with a 14-42 kit lens, this baby is really a m4/3 camera that takes in any m4/3 lens. That means the sensor size of this baby is 16 megapixels but with a much larger sensor than that found on the DxO.

By now, you’d realize that there is a heck of a lot of great lenses on the Olympus Air since it shares the same mount as the ones used by its mirrorless cousins. You have a wide choice of lens, including pancake type fixed lenses so there is no mistaking the quality you’d be getting from it.

The m4/3 platform has a lot of supporters, including lens mounts to use Leica lenses. So if you have an M mount lense, just get an adaptor for the m4/3 and you’re ready to go.

The downside is that video capture is restricted to 1080p so it’s no big deal here. Works for both iOS and Android.

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Sony was the pioneer but sine the Q1, they have asserted that what you need is really an E-mount camera lens that will take in all of Sony’s NEX camera lenses. Sensor size is APS-C, so this is one big baby with 1080p video capture. The lenses are not as compact of small as m4/3 but big sensors need big lenses. Again, you can buy lens mount adaptors to fit Leica M lenses if you so desire so this won’t pose a huge problem should you want a jump in imaging quality. This QX1 cost in the ballpark of US$550.

Photography is Mobile

In the age of the budget airline, you are encouraged to travel light. Gone are the days where you pack a whole bag of lenses along with the DSLR with a tripod in tow. Having a modular lens camera is really the way forward as you only need a small bag to contain three lenses along with a Gorrilapod tripod for those low light moments.

Image quality is subjective as it really depends on you, the user. If you are happy with the quality after checking out those images posted up on Flickr, then you’d be quite satisfied with the money you are parting with.

Video capture is still stuck in the 1080p era but that’s not a bad thing is it? Those wanting 4K output would be better off shooting with the Galaxy S6 stock camera…instead of a lens camera.

The lens camera is centered around still photography and for those looking for something affordable without compromising their E mount, M mount or m4/3 mounted lenses, your choices are all here.

The Lens Camera habitually co-exist with your mobile device, without it, photography would be meaningless as you can’t perform image compositions. This is probably one gadget that will grow in years to come as people ditch their hefty DSLRs for something smaller to carry about.

Digital imaging and digital photography will in time get even cheaper and those with their foot in the door with a Lens Camera will be ahead of those without a similar product.

SnapSeed adds DNG RAW file support with Android Caveats

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Apple’s iPhone may have fallen off a cliff recently with their new iPhone 6S camera but to add insult to injury, it still hasn’t figured out if DNG file support is warranted even though Snapseed is already supporting it natively on Android.

Now let’s not blame Tim Cook for this oversight, after all, the iPhone isn’t a serious mobile camera to begin with as it is used for casual shooters and will continue to appeal to casual shooters. Neither is he to blame for the fall from grace from the DxO lab ratings for the iPhone 6S as doing so, would mean you’re accusing him of first degree murder for running over a cat.

The iPhone, like the cat, will spring up once again thanks to its many lives so don’t go pronouncing its doom as yet. Sure it’s got a measly 12 magepixels but hey, the once mighty Nikon D700 also had a 12 megapixel sensor so don’t knock it.

So I digress, let’s get back to Snapseed support for DNG files. Yes, it is finally here but no, it’s not as easy as you think.

Snapseed Caveats Explained

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Snapseed is awesome. When Nik Software first released it, Mac and iOS users paid good money to get its tools on the desktop as well as on mobile. Google then bought it out. Apple users around the world cursed Tim Cook on why he didn’t see that opportunity first, well you can’t blame him. He was focused on getting profits and not on making users happy. Can you blame him?

After it was acquired, Google made some changes, including releasing it for free as an app for mobile and killing the Mac desktop version.

When Google announced that it was going to support DNG file formats, everyone went WTF?

DNG files are massive. They can easily be 20mb a piece or more.

Now for casual photographers who shoot selfies and post to Instagram and Facebook, there is nothing to worry about since there is no need for DNG as part of your digital imaging workflow.

DNG was a file format invented by Adobe that has gone open to allow some form of portability of RAW format image files to exist indefinitely. One of the problems of native RAW files taken from cameras is that it is proprietary. Once support for that particular format goes defunct, there is no way to open that file in eternity. So Adobe figured that if you convert the native RAW format to a DNG Raw format, with all the data intact, you could allow that file to exist forever.

To date, very few mobile devices shoot with DNG in mind. Android has one paid app, Camera FV-5, which allows you to shoot and save in DNG format. The Leica M9 shoots in DNG too but not a whole lot of other cameras do. One reason is that converting native Raw files to DNG takes some heavy lifting on DSLRs and it is ill advised.

So getting back to the Mobile camera of choice, why would you want to shoot in DNG?

For one, DNG format these days are as good as having a second back up camera to your DSLR if you’re a pro. The merits of having a good RAW file should your DSLR suddenly found its way into a Craiglist advertisement as a stolen artifact is a good reason to have a backup camera as a sound investment.

Think about it, if you had a backup photo residing on your mobile device capture with a 16 megapixel sensor, it could save your day. Unfortunately, there are some caveats to using RAW editing on Snapseed which has yet to be sorted out.

DNG will not load from Gallery App

If you had DNG files stored on your phone, the only way to retrieve it is through a file manager. For Galaxy Note users, please do not rely on My Files app that comes with your mobile device won’t recognize DNG as well. What you need is a third party File Manager from the Playstore such as File Manager HD, which is free to use.

With the file manager, you go to your desired folder with the DNG files and get that to open in Snapseed.

You can also use this method to open files in the cloud to Snapseed. For example if you had a folder on Dropbox where you store all your DNG files, you can the mobile app for Dropbox to open the file in Snapseed.

DNG is still not a recognized format for External Cameras

Besides the Leica M9, and probably a few of the other Leica cameras that has since arrived in stores, you need to be able to convert those native RAW files from Olympus, Nikon and Canon all on your own and store them in a place where you can reach them. Cloud storage is probably the best way to do this but I hate to think what would happen to your mobile broadband bandwidth once you start pulling down 40mb files from the cloud to edit on your Android device.

For me, I have a dedicated folder in the cloud where I processed these native RAW files into DNG format. This means that should a client suddenly need a file and want to pay for it, you could of course download it, process it the way they want and send the file to them.

DNG isn’t perfect, at least for now but it sure gets the work done. For the rest of you who are already shooting DNG on mobile, Snapseed is a god sent.

Which Messenger are you using?

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Do people still use IM or internet messaging? Apparently they do.

I know text messages (SMS) is dead but try telling that to Twitter. The original idea was that you could talk to just anyone like in a text message by mentioning the @person handle. But before all this, let’s not forget the Hotmail, Yahoo, ICQ and even Skype for that matter. Those were the pioneers. I remember using ICQ fondly, where you could search out names of people and see if they were involved in the same IM platform.

Then came the mobile revolution, which ICQ, Y messenger and Microsoft Live transitioned itself to as well, having a GPRS connection on your smartphone was all that you needed. Everything else was optional.

With 3G, suddenly video calls were possible. That sort of changed the landscape once and for all. So what’s your messaging choice if you wanna hop on.

Viber Versus Whatsapp

Two are similar, both are Jewish founded but one of them got bought out for billions while the other got bought out for a measly 900 million. The problem I have with my messaging train of thought is this, I don’t want to pay to use your app and if you don’t have a commercial model to sustain yourself. You are not going to last. Viber only has just over 200 million active users, while Whatsapp has 700 million.

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You download Whatsapp for free for the first year and have to ante up to pay to continue, at US$1 buck. Their motto is to stay free of advertising and promotions, and that is a huge problem because this business model isn’t going to earn your keep. When Facebook bought them out for a reported US$19 billion, versus US$900 million paid for Viber. You sort of knew that Facebook isn’t going to gain any further traction since they too have a messenger that rivals it. It was as if Facebook was called in to rescue Whatsapp before it went thermo nuclear. Both Viber and Whatsapp have similar functions (only the latter does not do commercial deals) so as long as Viber is commercialises enough to sustain its own operating expenses, it will continue. Whatsapp does not commercialise its own channels so that is a dead end as long as it sticks to its motto….”no ads, no games, no gimmicks’. Let’s see how long that holds out.

Facebook Messenger Versus Google Hangouts

This is actually the battle of the titans in the making. I remember that at one time, both apps were fighting to usurp your Text Messaging functions. Both wanted to dominate but in the end, it was up to Google Hangouts that won, allowing users to choose its app without intruding. Facebook Messenger gave up on fighting Google and came out with their own Unique Selling Point.

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Facebook Messenger was given a leash to capture non-FB users using a direct sign up with phone number method. This was introduced in North America and global release is gradual and subject to their fine tuning.

Google on the other hand has video conferencing or recorded video streams which you can broadcast and save to YouTube. It proved to be a hit for those wanting to connect live with an audience, something that both Periscope and Meerkat was hoping to jump on as well.

KakaoTalk Versus Line

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Twins that were separated by birth, Kakao and Line were Korean inventions which didn’t seem too different. Both sold you tonnes of stickers, both had chats and social profiles, and both are openly commercial about monetizing its services to brands.

Line is apparently more popular in Japan, while Kakao makes more money through games, adverts, and you guessed it, stickers.

In 2015, Line claims about 400 active users while Kakao has 145 million active users. So it really depends on where you stand because if you have more friends in Asia, then both Line and Kakao would seem like a good bet.

WeChat versus BBM

WeChat currently claims over 450 million active users while Blackberry’s Messenger has roughly 100 million but BBM has been around way longer than WeChat.

BBM was one of the reasons why people signed on with Blackberry. It was instant messaging done securely. That line has changed after Blackberry’s popularity fell from grace. And it’s not as secure as you think as recently in Brazil, a corruption scandal used BBM messages as evidence against those charged in court. This means crooks and terrorist aren’t safe from using this platform.

WeChat is very similar to both Line and Kakao Talk and in some ways even BBM. You have moments in WeChat that is social, just like what you find in both Line and Kakao talk, then you have groups/channels which is used by brands to reach out to customers. BBM on the other hand uses stickers and advertising to earn revenue. BBM also has voice calling over data with fellow users just like WeChat.

What sets them apart is that WeChat has more features, including the Walkie Talkie Push to talk which uses lower data bandwidth and a user discover tool based on location. This is called ‘People Nearby’ where you chat up strangers and ask them out for a date. It uses your location to probe the region for users of up to over 1km away. The other feature is the drift the bottle, where you can cast a voice message into the open waters of the Internet and see who reads it or responds to you.

The NEXT Wave is Here

For me, its always been the commercial viability of that particular platform. If it is going to be around for long, it better monetize itself as I surely will not foot the bill. Getting adverts on your app is just like getting SMS spam in the old days. I lived with it so no problem.

The second criteria is family and friends who are online. If they are on a handful of them, then use the common denominator. For me, it’s not about how many users the network has but more on the quality of that network.

There was a time Whatsapp was so bad in its quality, failing to deliver messages and not telling you, I gave up on it. BBM was an old favourite. The user experience is great even after the material design update but BBM is probably one of the most reliable so far. BBM pioneered the ‘delivered’ and ‘read’ status to each message. This is important as it tells you the person has read it.

Facebook Messenger and Hangouts are always there on my phone. I don’t use Facebook app as it is a storage space hog. WeChat is a huge success in Asia and so is Line, so those two are always there. The last IM for old time sake is Skype. Yes, Skype started with both voice and IM services before it was sold off from one owner to the next like some cheap furniture. Skype sort of lost its luster over the years but I find it useful for face to face video conference.

Apple’s Facetime has been a deplorable service since it started. It was created with the same mindset as BBM was in the 1990s. It never really improved and no one I know who uses an iPhone uses that anymore. iMessage is forced upon you by Apple but I clearly do not see it as a popular place to exchange greetings. So what is the next wave in social and instant messaging? Look no further than below:-

Telegram

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An app designed with Snapchat disappearing message capabilities, Telegram is a simple to use, no hassle and is rolled out to both desktop and mobile use. So far, its clean interface has won users over and it has an open API for developers to craft and graft features onto it.

Wire

Graphics, sounds and pictures are the highlight features of this app. Wire is visual and what’s more, you can write on the screen and doodle a message to send over to your contacts on Wire. This app is truly visual and even has a desktop version.

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MimeChat

UK startup Mimechat is one weird and fun messaging app where you use an Avatar to display your emotions to the people you are chatting. You can key in text messages and instead of using emoji, you get to use an Avatar which you can design from the ground up to represent you.

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These avatars can then animate themselves to display pleasure, displeasure, sadness or anything that is on your mind. The catch? Some of the animated sequences cost money to buy but once you buy them, you can use it forever.