GIFs are a fun part of online communication. Whether shared through a text message or on your Tumblr, GIFs can help to share your emotional state or just make the reader laugh. But, most GIF fans just find their GIFs online, they don’t create them. Giphy Cam is an app that can change all of that. From the team at Giphy, a platform for finding and sharing GIFs, this iOS app uses your device’s camera to let you create your own GIFs. Read More →
Cost: Free, with $ 1 in-app purchase to remove ads and maintain aspect ratio
Sometimes an app is so simple, but works so well, it's hard to imagine how you would get along without it. For me, one of those is Crop by Green Mango Systems.
Whether it's focusing on the content of a screen-captured Instagram post or creating a quick thumbnail for an avatar, there are many occasions when you'll want to remove the bulk of an image or rotate it on the fly. You simply select the image, use the eight points of the image canvas to determine the size you want, and you can keep finessing things until you hit "Save." And unlike the crop option within the iOS photo roll, Crop saves your creation as a new file, so you don't loose the original.
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Platform: iOS (Android coming soon)
Cost: Free with paid versions with extra features for schools, businesses, and personal use
Padlet is a web-based tool that's been available for a few years. Recently an iPad app launched which makes it easy for libraries working with and for teens to use the tool in a variety of ways.
As with the web-based tool, the Padlet app is a good way to create walls of content. The content might be a curated list of resources - including audio, video, websites, Google Docs, images, and more - that a teen is going to use in a presentation. It, might be a wall where teens brainstorm together and collaborate on ideas for a new project. Or, it could be a place where library staff working with and for teens collect resources of interest to help them provide high-quality service to the age group.
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Title: Status Board
Platform: iOS 8.4 or later
Cost: Free with in-app purchases available
Status Board is an app that's been around for a few years but I just learned about it recently. I think it has some interesting possible uses for teens putting together infographic like presentations and for library staff and educators who work with adolescents.
The idea behind Status Board is to create Boards that aggregate information with a particular focus. It's possible to create Boards that show personal information such as email, weather, calendar, RSS feeds, etc. However, that's not really so unique as it's possible to create similar kinds of screens of aggregated information with other tools.
What does make Status Board potentially useful for those working for and with teens, is the ability to create Boards that show data on a particular topic. The data can be integrated with text and web-based content to provide opportunities to display from where information was gathered, as well as the data/information itself. The images below show the two-types of boards that I created as examples.
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It's more than a high-tech Viewmaster. Google Cardboard that takes advantage of the gyroscope in your phone to replicate 365 degree, stereoscopic viewing. Cardboard itself is an app which helps you get started, calibrate your device, and learn to manipulate the navigation and controls. A whole stable of apps and games build upon the Cardboard concept, but the populist VR trend is so new that the content is very uneven. Even in Google's demo, the international capitals captured through Street View pale next to the underwater landscape of the Great Barrier Reef.
Google Cardboard is truly low-barrier. It works as well with Android as with iOS, so more students can use it, manufactured Cardboard cases are inexpensive and you can download a kit to create your own headset.
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I’m always on the look out for fun new games whether they are for my computer or my mobile device, so when I ran across Let’s Go Rocket I was quick to check it out. This free iOS game is very simple. You are given a rocket and you have to navigate it through a series of obstacles. You can vary the speed of your rocket by either touching it to speed up or letting go of it to slow it down. Sounds simple, right? However, there are a lot of additional details that make this game quite complicated. First, you have to ensure that your rocket moves fast enough that it doesn’t drift off of the bottom of your screen. If it does, you lose. Moreover, you can’t move side to side at all, so avoiding obstacles is not as easy as it might first seem. And, there are a lot of different types of obstacles that will keep you on your toes. Along the way, you also encounter gems to gather and aliens to pick up along the way. To add to the fun, you can choose which rocket you would like to use when you first start the game and there are options to buy or unlock other rockets as you go along.
Though Let’s Go Rocket is fairly simple, I have found it very enjoyable and almost frustratingly difficult. Even when I know exactly what my objective is, the app manages to make achieving it difficult with the sensitivity of the controls and the limited range of motion for the rocket. The app indicates your best result on the screen as a sort of “finish line” that you can cross, which is a nice way to keep track of your progress and motivate yourself to keep pushing further. The artwork in the app is very cute featuring not only an array of rockets, but also adorable aliens and great backgrounds that make the game very engaging.
Let’s Go Rocket is a good combination of simple controls, fun artwork and difficult gameplay elements. This makes it a nice option for both those who like casual games and those who want a bit more difficulty in their games. Though the app does include additional features that can be purchased, it can be played without these add-ons, meaning that it is a nice free option to recommend to teens at your library.
Ever wish you were a cartoonist? The Halftone apps let you realize that aspiration easily enough. Named after the printing process for rendering images through gradients of black and white or color, these apps is easy to use and produce amazing effects.
You begin by importing a picture or using your camera. You can choose different caption styles, speech bubbles (which can be layered) as well as a series of classic "stamps" to simulate action. Fonts include a range of easily legible comic-based styles, with three sizes. The whole set-up means you can create something worthy of the funny pages in mere seconds.
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Lenka is an interesting photography app for those who want to create artistic photos with their mobile devices. The unique feature of this app is that it only offers the ability to take black and white photos. While this might seem like a limitation when compared to other photography apps on the market, in the end, it is what makes the app stand out.
Created by a photographer, Lenka clearly focuses on allowing anyone to take a beautiful black and white photo. Though it offers only a limited number of options, they are nice features that make sense for the purpose of creating artistic photos. For example, rather than offering a standard flash option, Lenka only offers the option to turn your device’s light on or off so that you have continual illumination if you opt to use the light rather than a flash. The other options that you can customize for you photos are the exposure level, contrast, and ‘temperature’ or tint of the photo. Each of these options is controlled by a slider that allows you to exercise a fairly subtle level of control over these levels. While the app autofocuses photos for you, it also includes a manual focus slider for users who want to exert more control over the focus of their images. Finally, another feature that demonstrates the level of thought put into this app is the option to take photo either by tapping a circle on the screen as is so frequently the case for smartphone apps or by pressing the device’s sound buttons. While this may seem like a minor feature, it is a nice alternative that can make it easier and more comfortable to take high quality photos. Finished photos are added to your Gallery within the app and can be edited by cropping, resizing, or rotating them and then shared to Instagram or exported to email, SMS, or Twitter.
Lenka is a great option for photography fans. It offers limited but excellent options that will make even newbies feel like accomplished photographers. I think this is a great app to recommend to teens who are interested in photography and want to add an artistic look to their smartphone photos. Playing around with the settings is a lot of fun and can create impressive final results.
Title: Last Voyage
Cost: $1.99; currently on sale for $0.99
Platform: iOS 7.0 or later
Last Voyage, by Semidome Inc., is an abstract puzzle game inspired by science fiction movies. It features hypnotic, minimalist graphics that often consist of simple geometric shapes; but also more cinematic scenes that pay homage to icons like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Black, white, and red are the dominant colors throughout, with occasional surprise appearances by blue and green. The pulsing, 40-minute original soundtrack adds immensely to the experience.
Told in five chapters that can be played individually, or moved through in order, it has been compared to other cinematic games such as Monument Valley and Lost Sounds. While Last Voyage doesn't present a traditional narrative, the idea that you are embarking on a mind-bending journey through the depths of space is strong and ever-present. Each player is free to imagine their own reason for the journey, and their own interpretation for each chapter.
From WordLens (now part of Google Translate) to Invisibility 3D, apps which use the camera as an input tool to harness machine intelligence always interest me. When one such app, PhotoMath hit the top of the download charts last year, there was some minor outcry among educators. Would students use the app to cheat? But while the PhotoMath app reads and solves mathematical problems by using the camera of your phone and tablet in real time, it is far from the scourge of math teachers. Like Wolfram Alpha, it is a nice tool to have on hand when you can't remember enough math to help students with their work.
Within the app with an active camera, you can manipulate the size of the datawell to pick up the whole of more complicated questions, and the app solves advanced math problems including quadratic equations and inequalities. The app goes beyond solutions, anticipating the admonition to "show your work." A red button opens the step-by-step process for doing just that. Read More →