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.

NEXUS 6 or iPhone 6+?

Motorola Nexus 6 Blade Runner

For the longest time, I have always suspected that Google harboured a secret love relationship with anything robotic and hence they doubled down on Android as an operating system. In Geek speak, what could be closer to the future than the sci-fi fantasy Blade Runner? In the movie, the test product of the Tyrell Corp goes rogue. It had cutting edge technology to boot too. The product was a Nexus 6 replicant (which Deckard is long suspected to be one as well) So does the Nexus 6 live up to that expectation?

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In smart phones, it was the Apple iPhone that broke new ground or did it? Wasn’t the User Interface eerily similar to the Palm Pilot? The only difference was that you only needed to stab the iPhone screen with your finger instead of a stylus. So let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that Steve Jobs was a genius. Nor can Tim Cook be responsible for the success of the iDevices.The cunning marketing ploys by Apple has of course played to the dark side, encouraging you to ante up on Hardware that at best, is only useful for them to make even more money out of you.

NEXUS 6 Versus iPhone 6+

Big screen devices dominate. No point giving credit to Apple when Jobs himself hated that. He was in denial that a bigger iPhone screen is what people wanted. Today we have the iPhone 6+, a huge…almost iPad Mini like device which kicks butt. Or so it seems.

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Apple Pay is No Ace

Cash is king. No doubt about it and Apple Pay offers American societies to pay via NFC terminals—which a merchant must invest in. Can you use this outside of the US? Apparently not. NFC capabilities are nothing new of course but presently, using this is locked into Apple. It does nothing for you if you live outside of the US. Apple Pay is touted as a secure service, but for the average user who doesn’t need to go to get his daily highs on Starbucks, Apple Pay is a only useful for those who want cashless POS.

Fingerprint Sensor Saves your Ass

A good way to lock in your product and get another layer of security authentication. Is this big deal? Apparent so if you happen to work for some secret intelligence agency or have your credit card hijacked by crooks with the regularity of your own bowel movement. Fingerprint sensors are the way forward if you are prone to such unfortunate incidents. But the hardware has to be written off anyway once you lose your device.

Health Apps

An apt reminder to the majority of Americans who are overweight—you may view this as Tim Cook’s legacy to get you into shape. This applies to the rich Chinese too who love spoon feeding their overweight children until adult age.  If you love the way you are without having to go to the Gym. Health apps can be a waste of time and an insult to your self belief. However if you are fat, overweight and hate yourself for it, then maybe the iPhone will do you some good.

iOS 8 versus Lollipop

For iOS nothing has really changed since Steve passed on. Is there a new way to notify you? Sure. But that’s a Cydia clone. For the longest time, iOS was trying to compete with Cydia Jailbreaks that offer so much more than the stock standard version from Apple. Free apps are the draw of any OS. Both have a suite, Apple has given Pages for free for work use while Google as Docs Apps.

Lollipop seems like a good step forward but remember this is Google. They basically auction you as a piece of data for advertisers to buy into. Do I have a preference for either? Sorry not really. Both have their caveats.

Fast Charging

Nexus 6 wins this one. I need fast charging. Nexus gives you 6 hours of use with just 15 mins of charging. iPhone will not give you fast charging. Furthermore, Nexus 6 supports Qi Charging, which is a wireless charging method reviewed here some time back. I am not totally sold on Qi charging as it is more convenient. Nexus 6 fast charging is via cable use only.

Big Screen Display

To an ant, this is IMAX cinema. For the rest of us, screen density is what determines the quality. That said Nexus 6 has a way better screen than the dated retina technology hogged by Apple. Nexus 6 pixel density is higher than the iPhone so let’s leave it at that. No more BS on retina display from Apple.

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Apple is offering you what they gave people back on the iPhone 5S. It’s a decent camera and it is by no means innovative. The problem I have with the stock camera app is the limited capture options. You may have 240fps slo-mo video in 720p but the Nexus has 4K video in 30fps viewable on that UHD widescreen TV you just bought home. What’s more, Google’s new HDR+ feature on the stock camera app rocks! It kicks Apple ass anytime! So what all this means is that you are not getting a better camera app on iOS.

Conclusion by Images

When the iPhone first came out, it was sold based on a unique user experience. This is no longer true since Google released Android. The idea that something like the iPhone 6 is cutting edge is probably true if you live on a desert island surrounded by Elvis impersonators.

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For the rest of us. we are proud that Motorola (Lenovo) has given life to a product worthy of the Nexus 6 namesake. That’s all we were asking for. Hardware innovation. Apple has failed to deliver that. It’s ok. I can live with it. As for firmware innovation, how far has it gone? If it made a goose step, would that count as a leap?

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Apple creeps up on the Galaxy Note

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Steve jobs was adamant. Before he died, he had said that no one would buy a bigger screen smart phone. But before he passed on, he was involved in two contradictory products, a bigger iPhone and a smaller iPad. He never lived to see that come to fruition. His padawan underling, Tim Cook, broke ranks and made the iPhone bigger, so much bigger that Steve would be tossing in his grave if he ever found out.

Needless to say, the new iPhone 6 Plus will be a hit for those who were waiting for more. The new iPhones will make billions for Apple and the chief reason is this. The iPhone is no longer a consumer product. It is a fashion statement. Take a look at the prices below for the new iPhones without contract and you’ll get what I mean. All prices are quoted is USD.

  • iPhone 6 (16GB): $649
  • iPhone 6 (64GB): $749
  • iPhone 6 (128GB): $849
  • iPhone 6 Plus (16GB): $749
  • iPhone 6 Plus (64GB): $849
  • iPhone 6 Plus (128GB): $949

Price Factor for Success

Let’s examine what you get from it all. Chief among them is the fingerprint scanner, Health Kit integration, Apple Pay and OIS camera stabilisation either digital or optical for the new iPhones. The camera stays the same, some may be disappointed by this but truth be told, Apple fan boys will buy into this regardless. Mobile photographers will no doubt be disappointed as the flock in droves to Nokia’s 1020 64GB shooter which offers the purest photography experience. Mobile Videographers on the other hand have already defected to Samsung Galaxy Note 4 thanks in part to its 4K video capture. Artist who like to draw in freehand have already doubled down on the Galaxy Note, so that leaves the rest of you out there sitting on the fence, undecided.

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Chart is from Android Authority

There is no mention of RAM by Apple during the launch, which of course is a good thing for Apple because you won’t know when it fails and run out of memory so you end up blaming the app developers instead for creating something buggy. Apple will be blameless for this, even though they set the highest parameters for apps that go through their store, the onus is on you when you download and run them.

Battery life will vary, and is said to be between 20 to 30 percent for the 6 and 6 Plus models over the older 5S model. This doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be wall hugging from time to time. The main problem as always the display. Bigger screens need more power.

Going Big Against the Galaxy Note 4

Presently, there is no comparison. The IPS displays from Apple cannot match the pixel resolution of the Galaxy Note 4 and it shows. To think that this is going to change the game would be a mistake. Apple’s 5.5 inch screen is rated average and is nothing to shout about.

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Chart from Android Authority

In terms of display real estate. The Galaxy Note’s 5.7 inch might be a tad too big, while the 5.5 inch screen is more ideal as it is still pocketable for the bigger folks. To be honest, screen density is subjective. If you suffer from any vision problems, no amount of pixel is going save you. The only benefit is of course the large text that appears on screen, which is a boon to the old.

Screen density is most noticeable in movie playback. The details on the screen will be sheer joy to your eyes.

Why the Apple iPhone will be a success

The majority of us are only looking for a device that meets our requirement and sometimes a bigger screen will just do it. Apple lost a huge market to Android because of this and technically speaking, there is no real advantage between both the platforms. You have all your productivity software given to you free to meet all your office requirement. Facebook app works out of the box for both, and so does Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, Foursquares, and Twitter.

Beyond this, it’s just your learning curve. Trusted that Apple’s iPhone is designed to be more fool proof than fool hardy, those who have been dissatisfied with the complexities of the Android platform can now safely move back to the iOS sphere where it is no longer saddled with a smaller display screen.

For the rest of us who have migrated over to Android, there is no real reason to go back. And that’s the way it will always be.

GN4: Let the Big Screen Battle Begin

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With the iPhone 6 looming on the horizon, Samsung’s other flagship product, the Galaxy Note, needs to claw itself above the competition. The much rumored 5.5 inch display of the premium iPhone 6 will be keenly watched by Samsung as they have seen their other flagship product, the Galaxy S, being savaged by Chinese competitors.

Samsung’s own Galaxy Note 4 isn’t going to die standing and as a way to fight back, it has delivered two products, namely the Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy Note Edge. The Edge is a strange device, like an infinity pool with a curved drop off, the screen’s cutting edge is revealed, though you can’t really slice bread with it.

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Galaxy Note Edge

The build quality has improved, but sadly, I have no idea why they did this as it will only make it more expensive for the consumer upgrading from a previous version. The body frame is now made of aluminum. D’huh!

With the exception of women with handbags, men often carry their phones with a jacket or a cover installed, so you never get to see the plastic frame of previous generations. Why has Samsung pandered to the ivory tower? I really do not know. The issue of a metal frame is really a non issue. Who the hell cares if it has a plastic frame given it’s shock absorption capability? Aluminum frames will just bend out of shape the moment you drop them and with the added weight, gravity will not be kind to it.

Display Stays the Same

Yup, it has a 5.7-inch Quad HD resolution of 2,560 by 1,440, matching that of the LG G3. With a 515 ppi pixel density, this is something that the iPhone 6 will have a tough time with as long as it sticks to retina displays. Such densities on a LCD screen makes it cool for 4K video. Watching movies would be a boon except that it won’t hold up to endless hours thanks in part to the paltry battery 3220 mAh. Then again compared to the iPhone users, they are wall huggers. GN users can still move about with a spare battery in their pocket, just swap it out and you’re good for another 12 hours. The new iPhone 6 will have a bigger battery but that is not going to save you from hugging walls. You do need a battery pack booster and I am sure you will find the space in your tight fitting jeans for it. 

Camera has been Improved

Following in the footsteps of Apple, there is a finger print sensor but Samsung has also thrown in a UV sensor for those Dark Ops moments. Not sure if you can sense fake dollar bills but if you can’t, I hope the UV sensor will do the trick. The included heart rate monitor would only be useful before you actually commit to buying this device, not after. Nor are there any claims to having your heart rate reading splashed on Twitter but I suppose some  brilliant soul would come up with an app for that.

The Galaxy Note 4’s camera has also been updated, and now features a 16-megapixel shooter with Smart Optical Image Stabilization, putting it right on par with the Samsung Galaxy S5. A 3.7-megapixel camera can be found up front for camera whoring and those thinking of posting nude pictures of themselves will be thrilled to know that you can now do so in full HD. 

Video killed the Radio Star

Today it is Ultra-HD Video (UHD) and if you happen to be in one of Samsung’s showrooms, they would have a Ultra-HD TV set for all to see. The resolution is lovely but the Galaxy Note 3 didn’t quite measure up to expectations previously and Samsung will have another go at it with a larger 16 megapixel sensor. 4K video takes your breath away but you need to have a huge TV screen to enjoy it. Think 52 inch and you’ll get my idea. 

This is where Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 will shine. The video can be recorded in 4K and stored on microSD. If you run out of space, just flip it open and drop in a new 64GB microSD card and carry on. No problem. Try that with the freaking iPhone and you will know how frustrating it is.

4K video capture will be limited to 30fps. With post processing to 24fps, you get a cinema like experience from the video. Low light capture is rumored and with the help of optical stabilization, video footage on the Galaxy Note 4 can’t be beaten by iOS. What’s more, the iPhone 6 hasn’t been rumored to support 4K video capture. If that happens for real. Great. If not, well you have been warned.

More Storage for the Masses

Depending on how you feel about adding microSD storage, this time round Samsung has made it a 32GB work horse with 3GB of RAM and microSD card storage. That’s ample compared to the current 1GB RAM of the iPhone 5s…and with no external storage, you’re better off not recording any video while on holiday. Apple might increase the RAM size to 2GB for the iPhone 6 but that’s still 2GB short of what a 64bit processor is capable of.

Historically speaking, Apple is fond of selling you a Ford Mustang with skinny wheels and rims. The power is under the hood but you can’t fully use it.

The Cost of Technology

The chief reason why a price wasn’t announced at press time is that Samsung wants to know how much the iPhone 6 would cost and make a decision on it thereafter. It is a fact that the iPhone 6 will cost more, it’s just a matter of how much more and for that, how much would you pay for a premium Android device.

Both the iPhone 6 and GN 4 isn’t going to be cheaper. So if you are thinking that technology will get cheaper in time is probably quite misleading for brand name devices. Both the iPhone and GN are flagship devices and even when sales are falling world wide, the thrust of the matter is to make those who can afford it pay more.

With that said, I don’t think I will be upgrading to one too soon unless Santa sends me one before Christmas.

 

 

 

 

Did KitKat decimated Apple’s hold on Mobile Photography?

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I have for the longest time felt that the Instagramers of our generation really had it good on iOS until it made its appearance on Android a few years back. Even then, Android ICS and JellyBean could not match the technical capabilities as there were hundreds of photography apps compared to a few that really stood out. iOS 8 has unwrapped two new features, namely selective focus and exposure and time lapse video. Ho-hum. I think I felt asleep waiting for that one to happen.

By the time KitKat arrived, things started to change. Apple’s iOS camera capabilities were finally dethroned. It has taken more than fives years for Android to catch up with Apple’s strangle hold on mobile photography.

Sure, there are premium type features found on the Windows Nokia Lumia 1020 phone that beats them both down but the performance of the camera is a one off and is not found in all Lumia products. For Apple at least, you could download an photography app that will run across all devices on iOS 7. Google has done the same for KitKat in the form of the Google Camera App.

Now Google’s Camera app isn’t new. It is a standard feature found on all Android KitKat releases but it has some rather fussy requirements, like maybe a gyro sensor for Panorama mode and at least 1GB of RAM free (which means you technically need 2GB of RAM onboard) for Lens Blur Bokeh. But it will work on devices running KitKat in the same way iOS8 camera capabilities will do on required hardware.

Apple hasn’t really upgraded its camera features. It has in iOS7 given new meaning to the term ‘idiot proof’ with a slew of visible selections, like crop size, video and photo mode, HDR. On the iOS store, there are several apps that makes the camera do more, like Time Lapse photography, Panorama and manual controls for advanced mobile photographers—so what was unveiled for iOS 8 isn’t ground breaking. To really know the difference, you need to go down to your respective appstores and see what those apps can do for you in respect to what the standard iOS or Android app is capable of.

Immersive Bubble Photography

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Google’s Android already could do panorama for some time now. Its only weakness was in producing bubble photos whereas iOS had two, Bubbli (now owned by Yahoo) and Microsoft’s Photosynth. With KitKat, Google introduced Photosphere to counter any iOS offering—with hardware demands found only in midrange and premium Android models. The Apple iPhone no longer owns this space. Trusted that Bubbli is now owned by Yahoo, future updates could tie it to yahoo’s Flickr cloud storage—similar to what Microsoft has done with Photosynth. Google on the other hand has countered this with Photosphere that has become a standard feature for KitKat. Anyone running the latest Android will be able to download and use Photosphere—and share it on Picasa, Drive or G+. Where is Apple in all this? I frankly do not know.

High Dynamic Range Photography

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Done to death in the past, there are numerous HDR capable camera apps offering true HDR capabilities (captured with either two or three frames). Apple’s own HDR takes only two frames and merges the two frames into one. True HDR processing is omitted from the Google Camera App for good reason—it is not effective. Whereas for faux-HDR, where a tone mapped image is generated from one still frame is catered for by several apps found on both the Google Play and Apple Appstore. I won’t go into detail on this one but to say that it doesn’t really work that well for multiple exposures. Apple’s iOS camera API only allows for a fixed 1 sec maximum exposure in low ISO. So unless it is incredibly bright and contrasty, you won’t claw much dynamic range back from the rendered JPG files. The same goes for Android. Shutter speeds are capped to prevent you from getting a 1 sec exposure. True HDR for now remains to be elusive on both platforms.

3D Parallax Photography

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The third dimension is often the most rewarding and for this, I think that iOS could do no more than to thank the guys at Seene.co for this feature. It takes a huge chunk of RAM to do something this spectacular on iOS7 and I think Apple should snap up the company before anyone else does. However Google isn’t far behind, you can upload a picture shot on KitKat enabled Google Camera app (with depth information) and have that processed at depthy—a third party site that renders those 3D parallax photos.

Volumetric-Stereo

Seene on the other hand uses WebGL for rendering the 3D parallax photos with some constraints. The problem now is to transition to a sharable image like what Seene has done. Google’s KitKat camera app already captures depth information but it hasn’t gotten round to processing them onboard a device. Apple on the other hand has no such capability. The iOS camera app is totally devoid of features such as Volumentric Stereo processing for images.

 

Bokeh Lens Blur

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Left is the depth map, the right is the static picture. Combined, they allow users to specify the amount of blur they want from their photos

One of the often lamented feature that was missing on mobile photography is the ability to render a shallow depth of field on a image. Lens Blur is effectively an after effects filter applied on to a photo and for this, many apps can be found with this one feature alone on the iOS store. The problem with this feature is that it is often faked to the point of no return.

The KitKat Camera app has detailed depth information which is used to render the blur,

Having played around with numerous apps that offer this feature (including TADAA SLR on iOS) I found it less than satisfactory in application and in use for generating depth or focus blur. Google’s Camera app triumphs over iOS 7’s camera feature in this one area which I think will be addressed in the coming iOS8 update.  If it doesn’t. Apple risk losing more ground to Android.

Camera Battle Rages On

The struggle right now is two folds. To make a better camera (read idiot proof) or to create a new line of features that maxes out the potential or the mobile operating system? The camera battle is now in Google’s court. Apple has so far invested heavily on hardware performances but that hasn’t translated to giving more features to the user. Google on the other hand has made it so rudimentary that the future updates will carry  endless options for photography that is missing from professional cameras. Will these forks converge into a better camera experience? Or will there be another technology in waiting that allows Apple to claw back it’s lost pride?

We only need to wait for an answer as Android, iOS and to some extent Microsoft Windows have savaged the traditional camera markets to the point where overall sales of digital cameras have fallen. People want more from their cameras and this is one thing that straight up digital cameras cannot offer. After all, the best camera to shoot with is the one you have with you by your side…always.

 

Photosphere on Android: No Root Required

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One of the most exciting thing to come out of Android in the 4.3 update was Photosphere, a bubble photo capture feature found on Nexus devices but Google unfortunately did not make that available to all as it was included as a native camera app. So if you have updated to 4.3, chances are that you’ll still be missing this feature unless you got yourself a stock standard Android update like those found on Nexus and Motorola phones.

Photosphere APKs to the Rescue

The folks at XDA released an APK file for users to download and install the Google Nexus camera app and you can find them here.

But a word of warning. It doesn’t actually work on all devices running Android 4.3. Part of the problem is probably the hardware. The Galaxy Note 2 did allow me to run the app but the images shot on it were far from stellar. The overlapping images didn’t stitch well and the whole bubble image turned out to be more of a psychedelic attempt at feeding LSD directly into your brain. You can view my failed attempt here.

Shooting a bubble is relatively easy. It can take anywhere from 3 to 5 mins to complete the photography cycle before you can stitch it all together.

The APK file is actually a Gallery and Camera app, the camera’s bubble capture capability is buried under this APK. Samsung has its own dedicated camera app in Android 4.3 that doesn’t support Photosphere so you need to remind yourself to launch the Google Gallery or Camera app instead of your usual device camera app to capture and view bubble photos.

Photo Bubbles are Hip

Well, Instagram is so old school so why not get some new school shooting with Bubble photos? Allow me to give you an idea what Photosphere is to Google.

  • It is to be used alongside Streetview, where places prove inaccessible to their cars.
  • Photosphere can be shared on G+
  • On mobile, Photosphere can only be viewed in real-time using the Maps application or Web browser.

Both iOS and Windows Mobile have competing Bubble type photography features but on unfortunately on iOS, it is not native. Apple couldn’t care two hoots about Bubble photos but a few Apps that support the iPhone, including Microsoft’s Photosynth.

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Google Maps and Photo Bombing Opportunities

In recent past, Photosphere was the domain of the DSLR. You needed one of those to shoot the photos and put them together. However with the new mobile capability on Google approved devices, ANYONE can shoot a photo bubble, upload it and have that seen all over the world. For advertising mileage, there isn’t anything better! People who contribute to Photosphere can effectively Photo Bomb the image with banners and advertisements before uploading those to Google maps.

Hardware Compatibility Issues

Right now, Google hasn’t got any plans to make Photosphere a standalone app, but it might do so if it wants more people to contribute to the platform. The chief reason for this omission so far has to be hardware issues. Dual core devices with 1GB of RAM won’t cut it. Shooting photo bubbles and stitching them together is a RAM intensive operation. There is also the question of accelerometer compatibility as this is used heavily when all the photos are being put together.

Photosphere

For now, you can download the Google approved Gallery APK with Photosphere and try it on your device. It might not work but if it does, then it is good to go. Google has released a slew of APIs to support Photosphere for use on websites and blogs so you won’t be seeing the last of this for a very long time.

Make your Day with Memes

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Memes. I have had a love hate relationship with them from day one. Hated the loud, badass, vulgar and stupid ones that are very American in culture. Memes are often created with pop culture icons from Hollywood, using stolen pictures from the Internet.

On the flip side, the Memes also gave birth to the Insta-Text, where words and pictures mix together in a seemingly fertile jelly of self expression. These memes are then posted on Instagram, the Polaroid snapshot of today — emblazoned with words of wisdom and cliched quotes. There is nothing risque about them, something which we all seem to associate with the memes of today.

Memematics on your Mobile

This is actually a spin-off topic while researching for my other blog, techmystique hosted on WordPress. It was a study on how people could generate content and in the process create content that was worth passing around.

Having assessed the apps on both the Appstore and Playstore, I have listed down some of the stuff you an get online that works out for both iOS and Android. There are basically two types of photo editing apps, one type is for beautifying your photos by allowing you edit and add filters to change the exposure while another type works by adding layered text onto the image.

Memes are created using the latter, and to make it more user friendly, these apps are built with a variety of graphics and font add-ons.

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Rhonna Design and Over

My personal fav has to be Rhonna Design App, which of course is only available on iOS and recently on Android. On the iPhone, it’s a pain when are born with big fingers. For this, the Hobbit wins hands down. Stabbing at the small screen is a tough task, much tougher than trying to destroy the Ring by tossing it into a Mordor volcano.

screen568x568Rhonna creates beautiful design motifs that is included in the app but there are extra font packs and graphics available via a in-app purchase method. The Android version is just catching up and has yet to allow full screen editing.

Each font/graphic pack can be purchased separately from Rhonna’s in-app purchase feature and these are priced at US$0.99 a pop. Good to go once you have the graphic pack or font of your choice. The downside of Rhonna’s app is that it is not free. Nor is there a free version for you to play with before buying it.

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Over app on the other hand uses similar Jedi mind tricks to get you to buy their graphics and font packs but at least they allow you to edit and save your stuff in a rectangular format. Over still has much refining to do as it’s quite limited in terms of choices.

Both Over and Rhonna Design apps allow you to download your own font, OTF or TFF types only, to your iDevice but you need to upload them to Dropbox or Box storage and open them within the app when prompted to do so. Android users probably have it easier by using iFont app but using it within the app is still a bit of a mystery for now. Over is currently only available on iOS.

Overly, PicLab & InsPhoto for Android

To be fair, Rhonna Design’s App is probably the best on offer for mobile but it does not support importing of graphics from custom sources; for this you need Photofy.

Photofy, available to both Android and iOS is the closest thing so far to being able to give you beautiful graphics and buying the unlock version allows you to import up to 24 custom designs of your own creation. The downside of Photofy is that it crops to a square format and is very rigid in its approach to adding elements on screen. For Android users, you probably need to use Rhonna Design and Photofy at the same time to create something really unique with a corporate logo.

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Photofy is a good app, but there just “so-so” when it comes to features and capability. There are loads of free content like mottos, quotes and cute text options. The sheer number of optional insta-text is what makes it super unique and the best choice for those with a wild imagination. Photofy is promising a new revised cropping tool for the app in future updates.

The editing options are less than satisfying. For one, you can’t add more than two elements and there is no avenue to import third party fonts for use within the app.

For corporate use,  Photofy is the best choice. Companies who use Instagram will find the freedom to import their own logos most useful. On the other hand, I don’t like the one line text caption that you are allowed to use for any of your images, furthermore, there is no way to skip the customary requirement for a graphic image added to your photo in the first instance.

In its own way, the app is pretty rigid in its approach. PicLab, which is also found on the Android platform doesn’t quite cut it as all it does is add text over your image.

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There are a few others that do exactly what PicLab does, so I won’t mention them here as they are not game changers. InsPhoto is similar in that respect. You can add text and enhance the image with a variety of settings but you can’t add graphic layers to it.

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Overly, which is still in Beta is not a clone of the Over app on iOS. I won’t add anything here on Overly as it has yet to make a proper debut and even if you take it for a spin, you’d get the idea that the app still needs a fair amount of work to be really useful.

Photo App Conclusions

Not all photo apps are made the same. There are so many free ones these days that we often cloud our home screens with them. Bear in mind that many are not suitable for meme making. Those with more complex editing options have a much steeper learning curve but you’ll get use to it soon enough. These apps work by adding layer upon layer of graphics over your original photo, decorating it before finally flattening the image as a JPG. Not many apps can do that but such editing options adds to the complexity. Therein lies the attraction, it becomes a blank canvas where your creativity is set free to make a simple picture more attractive. So prepare to amaze your friends with those one of a kind Memes from yours truly.

iOS versus Android: Christmas Shopping List

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Truth be told, I have never given up on my past times, some of which can only be found on iOS. For the most part, Android for me is more of a productivity tool. It connects and entertains but it has its weaknesses. In the coming Christmas season, you’d be wondering which platform you should get onto. Eric Schmidt of Google may have penned out this thoughts on how an iPhone user should switch to Android but technically speaking, that’s like ignoring the real issue at hand, that is…you gotta have some pretty good software to cater to different folks. Here’s a run down on what you should be buying this Christmas based on the strength of the apps found on both platforms.

Music Making

Hands down. iOS wins. Garageband in particular is fab, so are those DJ mixing apps and drumming, loop and any music generating apps. Best to get an iPad to do that. The iPhone is far too small to use as a music productivity tool. The iPad be it the mini, or the Air will be the darling of the music industry this Christmas. Android plain suxs on this. There is nothing on the playstore that can even come close to Garageband, let alone exceed it.

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Games

Again, hands down, iOS wins. There are more paying customers on iOS than on Android and that’s the reason why game developers cannot ignore the iOS platform when releasing games. Android may have a larger user base but there are problems in getting games to play on different devices made by a variety of manufacturers. iPads are the best for gaming. iPhone is just too MEH….

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Mobile Photography

Sorry but Android takes this one. Forget the Nokia 1020 for a moment and think about the apps available on Android only. They kick iOS ass. Apps like Cameringo and native Android apps found on the Sony, HTC and Samsung can double down and win this race without bating an eyelid. A long time ago that Android camera apps were lacking, these days, it shines brighter than the star that Steve Jobs sits on. Cameringo alone puts all the other filter based iOS apps to shame. Forget the Hipstamatic app from iOS. It’s rubbish. And what about Photosphere? You can’t have that for free on iOS while it’s a standard feature on all Android 4.2 devices. The Google app lets you upload 360 pano bubbles to Google Maps, which is free for all to view.

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Work Productivity

So you want to do some serious work, encode files, upload to cloud and save files on flash drives? You can’t beat Android. iOS may have pioneered the mobile office suite but its iWork modules with new hardware running on iOS 7. Google already gives out its own Quickoffice for this and it’s not restricted by hardware. What’s more Android devices support read and write to flash drives using a OTG cable. Plug and Play. For iOS, you gotta be psychic to beam a file onto a flash drive. Bluetooth? Have you seen an iOS device send a Microsoft file to an Android device? How about NFC and WifiDirect? Does iOS have these under their belt? Both iOS and Android have productivity tools to do your work but it’s iOS that needs a data line to be of any use.

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Drawing and Art

As much as I love the Galaxy Note series with their pressure sensitive stylus, iOS wins hands down when it comes to drawing and exporting your art in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). Exporting a drawing in JPEG or any type of rasterized image is plain silly. People should be able to edit a drawing without compromising on the quality or the brush strokes. SVG allows you to do this as the data is vector encoded. Android’s support for these type of file is very poor at the moment. iOS wins hands down.

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Entertainment and Video

Android is the clear winner and by a mile. There are numerous apps that lets you consume video like never before. For Samsung devices, they have an All Share feature which can beam content to your set top box via Wifi. Third party apps are also available for you to do this. Connecting a DNLA device isn’t a problem on Android but it is a huge problem for iOS. Apple wants you to stream stuff through their Apple TV box. Making iPads or iPhone DLNA compatible for video is ritual suicide. Third party apps on iOS can support streaming of music but not Video. Streaming of music or video on Android is a no brainer. It just rocks.

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Buying Guide

You get what you pay for. Apple’s tablets and iPhone is on the highest end of the retail chain but price alone should not dictate your choices. Both devices have their strong and weak points when it comes to apps. You have to pay for apps, not expect them to be made free but there are times when the free apps alone will do fine.

For any internet device, there are two schools of users. Those who use their devices to maximize their creativity and productivity, and those who just consume digital media.

Consuming is easy. These are the same folks who use social media, play games with friends, read the news, read books and magazines. For this, any device be it from iOS or Android will do the trick.

Those of you who are more productive —who want to take pictures and have control over their captured parameters, make and create music, draw or take work along with them, will need something more. So choose wisely this Christmas and you’ll be duly rewarded.

Sell your Smartphone Photos on FOAP

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If you had the chance to clean out your old photos from your Android device, you might be wondering if any of it would be good enough for people to buy. Sure, you might post it up to Facebook or G+ but that said, it’s not going to make you a cent.

So how much are your photos worth if you do sell them? That’s rather subjective. Alamy, which sells stock photos will take your mobile photos but only for news related photos. So if you happen to see Godzilla come on land one fine day at the beach, well your photo will be worth something.

FOAP will take ANY of your photos, price it as a stock image at US$10 a pop and give you 50 percent of the proceeds from each sale. The only thing stopping your photos from getting on the retail shelves are the community reviewers who look at the photos and rate them. You need to get an average 2.6 star rating from five reviews to qualify.

What’s the Catch?

There is one. Your mobile photos should be at least 900 pixels on the shortest end to qualify for upload and all the uploading must be done from your mobile device.

This means, you get to shoot and upload as you go and that’s a very interesting proposition. The Android app itself does everything and you input the tags, GPS location and title of your photo. Once you put it up for review, would-be sellers will be asked to rate it. You’d be asked to do the same for five other photos. Once you complete this, then you are free to get back to your Angry Birds game.

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The webstore on the other hand is purely for retail purposes. Mobile device photographers are not allowed in and have no way of getting in to upload your photos because FOAP doesn’t want you to. They want your mobile photos so you do everything from the mobile app available for iOS and Android. Even payment (cashing out your earnings) is managed from the mobile app.

Royalty Free, the Bane of Cheap Photos?

Five bucks is not much and FOAP’s licensing covers both print and web use. An eight megapixel photo is probably good enough to use for print and even with the best pixel scaling software, you could stretch that a bit to about three times. FOAP licensing doesn’t cover image editing so people who buy these photos have the right to chop it up and create multimillion dollar branding with it.

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FOAP’s target buyers are brands that need cheap photos. We all know how cheap these brands are in America and this will sit well with them. Photos can be used in social media and branding with impunity or those cheap memes that get floated onto your FB timeline. Corporate America isn’t interested in paying top dollar for photos so why not give them some cheap alternatives?

Pro Photogs reading this could well declare Jihad against the likes of FOAP as the sully the good name of licensed images but hey, that’s life. Royalty free is here to stay and there is no stopping them.

What are the Security Issues?

Yes, with no way to get back to your earnings except from the app, you don’t exist outside of the mobile internet world. This means if you lost your phone or tablet, you can only reactivate your account via a new device. Anything else, you need to contact their support unit directly. This also means that all your photos on your device could be stolen and uploaded by the culprit under his name.

There is also the fear of stolen images ending up in some other conniving image thief. All they have to do is steal your flickr photos or device images, get them onto a device storage like a microSD card and then uploaded to FOAP as their own via the FOAP app. Then again if all you ever shot was your pet cat, I don’t think you’d be earning a pretty penny from them.

FOAP takes a hands off approach to copyright theft and if you have any grounds to chase them for copyright, then you could take it down using a DMCA complaint. It is a scorched earth policy you have to take if you want to put up photos for sale.

Should I, or Shouldn’t I?

If you shot solely on your iPhone or Android device, chances are you might have shot something that is worth something to someone. Large stock agencies on the other hand rarely pay attention to mobile stock images as their quality is suspect but not for the guys at FOAP. They think it is good enough and they might just be right.

So instead of relegating your mobile device photos to a wall post on Facebook, why not make some beer money for yourself? It is certainly worth a shot.

Microstock Agency Makes Android Debut

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It’s been a while but  Microstock library 123RF.com has taken almost forever just to make an Android app for RF photo submissions and it just made it to the Playstore. For some years, 123RF had an iOS app, called 123RF OTG which gives you the freedom to submit photos shot on the iPhone but it never did bother with Android community until now.

For the record, Microstock libraries are niche type operations and offer extended licensing. What is this licensing all about? Think of it as having pawned your crown jewels before ever having a chance to use them—with the business model similar to that of the oldest profession in the world.

How does it Work?

First, you have to submit a photo that is shot on a a 5 megapixel mobile device camera, have that vetted by their own team of photo editors before being approved for sale on the site. Now sale is misleading as they count towards downloads instead of image sale. What you get is 30 percent if you make it pass their censors and more if you happen to contribute more regularly.

Unlike FOAP that specialises in Editorial images, 123RF has commercial potential as they accept images with models and sell them with verified model releases. If it was at a specific location, you also need a property release, like if you posed a model next to the MI5 Building in London or the CIA headquarters in Langley, USA. Failure to do so could land you in a jail with the keys thrown away for good measure.

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The vetting process should take a few days, depending on how free they are to look at your badly mauled Instagram inspired pictures. Once it is up, you also need to send in your complete verified details as photographer and owner of the images you have submitted. This way, no one will claim that you lifted their pictures off Flickr for misrepresentation.

At the moment, 123RF also accepts news pictures and video feeds as well but that’s another story. You cannot be shooting a video and posting it to them via this app they have created. They take any 1080p video feed so you can try to shoot something with your smartphone and see if that sells. Uploading on the other hand has to be done via a web browser.

Benefits of Signing Up

There is one benefit, that is 123RF has specially created contest submissions you can take part in just to spice things up on your mobile. The contest will have different themes and you can submit any photos that fits into that category and win yourself US$300 bucks. That’s a pretty good deal compared to the returns you get from your images to the stock agency.

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The other benefit is that the contributor account you have with them also qualifies you to submit artworks, audio and video files. This is pretty interesting as you can record unique soundbites and have them submitted as well.

Before we jump the gun, the smartphone app only allows you to submit photos and not anything else. All other submissions have to be done via their web browser.

Dude, Show me the Money!

To be frank, it is not very lucrative for the smartphone photographer to indulge his or her passion in microstock photography. 123RF works on a per-download basis so you don’t get paid on per use. They use a popularity system and pay 30 percent on that but it can go as high as 60 percent. If you have more downloads from that image, you score more on their scale. They don’t even have a published rate that speaks in layman terms! All the earnings information is available to you only if you didn’t fail maths in school. Beyond that, you can only hope that they are not out to bamboozled you out of your day to day earnings. Cashing out can be done via Skrill or Paypal. Minimum is US$50 bucks so to make that cut, you should have at least 500 image downloads. You do earn more for other submissions like artworks, eps vectors, audio and video. Smartphone Images are unfortunately categorised as cannon fodder. Works shot on a DSLR is more highly rated and if suitable for print, you can earn far more.

123RF transitions to this mode of payment only recently. Just to make it cheaper for publishers and image buyers. They even have a weird Creative Commons giveaway, where you give up all rights to the photos for free to use. These gimmicky approach is to attract would be image buyers to sign up but I think it’s a waste of effort. It will no doubt attract the free loading content thieves who ply the Flickr route.

Whatever you do, don’t quit your day job just to live the life of a pro-stock photographer. The commission you earn isn’t going to help you pay that mortgage but it could pay for the tent you had in mind for camping out in the woods.