App of the Week: Loop

Title:  Loop
Cost:  $0.99
Platform:  iOS

As a teen, most of my notebooks were full of stick-figure flip animations performing stunts on the page edges.   Loop is the digital equivalent of those over-doodled notebooks, allowing users to create hand-drawn, animated loops that can be exported as GIFs.

The app’s interface gives much of its screen space to a whiteboard-like drawing area with a grid of tools permanently situated at the lower edge.

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App of the Week: OKDOTHIS

OKDOTHIS LogoApp: OKDOTHIS
Cost: Free
Platform: iOS

The new photography app OKDOTHIS aims to be a different sort of image app. By its own terms it is “a Community that encourages growth and inspires us all to DO more” rather than a simple app. To emphasize that idea of community, the first step after you create an account in the app is to add friends. You can choose to find these friends through your device’s contacts, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram or you can instead search for people or accept some of the suggestions provided by the app.

Finding People ScreenshotOnce you have completed that step (or opted out of it), you are thrown right into the app. You will see a screen that says “Try this DO,” which offers a task posted by another user to inspire a specific type of photo. For example, as you can see below, the first suggested activity that I saw was to take a picture of my shoes. At this point, you can either scroll through photos taken by other users or click on the “Do This” button to take your own picture. When completing suggested tasks, you also have the option to use a photo that is already in your device’s image library.
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App of the Week: Pocket Avatar

Pocket AvatarApp: Pocket Avatar
Cost: Free
Platform: Android and iOS

Although Intel might not seem like a company that is focused on fun and entertaining apps, they recently released an iOS app that could change this perception. Pocket Avatar detects a user’s facial expressions and maps them onto a personalized avatar.

Getting started with Pocket Avatar requires that you create an account, but once you have, the process of making your video avatar is fairly easy. You can choose from a wide variety of characters, including over twenty that are free. The paid characters are generally $.99 and include pop culture icons such as a Care Bear and Lego Movie characters. Once you have selected and downloaded your chosen avatar, you can start recording. Pocket Avatar can record from either camera on your iPhone, making it simple to create an avatar for yourself or for a friend. Before you start recording, you will have to line up the face to be recorded in a field on your screen. You can then record up to 15 seconds of both video and audio. Rather than recording your actual face and voice, Pocket Avatar maps the expressions you make onto your selected avatar and masks your voice by making it deeper. Once you have finished recording, you can opt to either eliminate the sound completely or swap to a high-pitched version of your voice. At this point, you can also change the avatar to any other character in the app.
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App of the Week: Cargo-Bot

Title: Cargo-Bot
Platforms: iOS
Cost: Free

cargo-bot logo Learning to code is a big topic of conversation these days with a lot of discussion about the importance of teaching young people coding and programming skills. Why is this such a big topic of conversation? Because when anyone learns to code/program they have the chance to spend time critically thinking, problem solving, and troubleshooting. All important skills to have in the 21st century.

Acquiring these skills is definitely a part of Cargo-Bot, an app that uses game-play to teach the ideas behind coding and programming. Playing Cargo-Bot requires programming each game in order to achieve a a particular goal. All goals require moving boxes of cargo across or down the screen. And, while the first goals are pretty simple it doesn’t take too long for the game to become more complex and require that players think about not just left, right, up, and down but the order of those moves, looping moves, and specifying when and when not to actually make a move.
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App of the Week: Wattpad

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 2.30.06 PM
Title: Wattpad
Platforms: iOS and Android, also web-based
Cost: Free

This spring, a student asked me if I knew about After, the One Direction fanfic “everyone was reading on Wattpad.” Then I saw Clive Thompson looking for people who were publishing on Wattpad… and I fell into the rabbit hole that is the reading/writing/commenting site.

After had already landed author Anna Todd a three-book deal, but that wasn’t the only interesting thing about Wattpad.
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Probably not surprisingly based on its fanfiction roots, YA is especially strong on Wattpad. The influences are somewhat predictable. One young writer named daven whose “story” (as all narratives as labeled) December I particularly liked, had a profile pic featuring her with Rainbow Rowell.
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App of the Week: Train that Brain with Lumosity

App: Lumosity Mobile
Cost: Free with subscription available
Platform: iOS 5.1 or later

Lumosity Mobile logoEver think that your brain needs an extra boost? Maybe you took a recent vocabulary test and realized your focus was lacking; maybe you would like to improve your attention. The brain training app recently released by Lumos Labs, Inc. can help you to achieve this.

Before beginning, you must first set up an account through Lumosity. During this account setup, you will be asked what certain areas you would like to improve: multitasking abilities? Better memory? Based on your answers the app will create a “brain workout” for you—one that you can specifically coordinate to your schedule. For example, if you only have spare time on the weekends, you can make your Lumosity app brain training schedule fit your weekend schedule. After the account setup, you can manage your brain workout schedule in the main menu under “Reminders.” You can set the days of the week and even the time for when you would like to train your brain.
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App of the Week: Moju

Moju LogoTitle: Moju
Platform: iOS
Cost: Free

The best apps for mobile devices are generally those that take advantage of the features inherent in smartphones and tablets. Often this leads to apps that integrate with your device’s camera or accelerometer/gyroscope, but in the case of Moju, the app takes advantage of both to create a unique animation for images. By combining up to 24 separate photos, Moju creates images that change as you turn your iPhone to create the effect of an animation. Continue reading

App of the Week: Two Dots

Title: Two Dots
Platform: iOS 6.1 or later
Cost: Free (with in-app purchases)

Just about a year ago I reviewed the addictive and fun game, Dots. Now there’s a sequel, Two Dots, and it’s just as addictive and just as fun. But, you don’t have to take my word for it.


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App of the Week: Plain Text 2

Title: Plain Text 2
Platform: iOS
Cost: Free

plain text 2

When my school adopted iPads for AP and pre-AP students, one roadblock some students encountered involved working away from wireless networks. I showed some how to set up individual Google docs for offline access, but sometimes students wanted to begin typing an assignment and hadn’t created or adjusted a doc so they could access it at home. Plain Text 2 provides an excellent word processing platform for those instances, and it’s clean interface has made it a go-to for writing many documents.

If you’re thinking Notepad, the text isn’t THAT plain. Fonts include Helvetica, Courier, and Times New Roman, and you can adjust the font between 10 and 24 points…the only down-side is that whatever you specify is set for the document, so you can’t alternate fonts or sizes. You can also double-space, much to the delight of my students working on English papers, and there is a running word count and Flesch-Kincade Grade Level and Readability Scores (under the “info” option). An extended keyboard provides convenient access to the most commonly used symbols without toggling.

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App of the Week: Flipagram

Flipagram LogoTitle: Flipagram
Cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android

Flipagram is a fun app for creating slideshows from your images. It allows you to combine photos on your device with those from Facebook and Instagram. Once you have selected your desired images, you can crop them by tapping them or reorder them by dragging and dropping them on the screen. Images can also be automatically arranged in chronological order or in a random order. Continue reading