App of the Week: FridgePoems by Color Monkey

Title: FridgePoems by Color Monkey
Platform: iOS
Cost: Free (for basic vocabulary set)

It’s National Poetry Month, and there’s no easier way to promote the creation of verse poetry than setting up a public access tablet with this fun app.


When you launch the app, you get a “working” space with a handful of words, but you can zoom out to see more. Dragging the word boxes with your fingertips allows you to reorder things to create your verse.

Writers are not strictly limited to the words on screen. You can draw for new words or invest in themed WordPacks ($1 each for hipster tragic, redneck, hip hop, etc. or $3 for all of them). The provision of verb endings and plurals can add some variety as well.
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App of the Week: Storehouse

storehouse logoTitle: Storehouse
Cost: Free
Platform: iOS

Storify is one of my favorite tools on the web – the app is a little glitchy – for taking content (images, videos, Tweets, etc.) and putting them together into a story. Storehouse takes a similar approach and gives users the chance to combine text with images and video in order to create a tale about a topic of interest.

For teens the Storehouse app is a great way for them to take those images and videos that they take on a device that’s in their pocket or under their arm, and turn them into something that helps to tell about their lives, places they’ve been, events they’ve participated in, and so on. It’s a great tool for giving teens the chance to go beyond the image to the story behind the image.

The app is pretty simple to use. The first step is to tap on the + icon on the top right. That opens up the screen for adding images and videos that are either stored in your iPad photo library or in Dropbox or on Instagram. (Teens will have to connect your Dropbox and Instagram accounts to Storehouse if they are going to import photos from those services.)
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App of the Week: Path on

Path on LogoTitle: Path on
Cost: $1.99
Platform: iOS

If you like to take pictures with your iOS device or know teens who do, you will definitely want to check out Path on. At first glance it may just seem like another photo captioning tool, but what sets Path on apart from other apps that allow you to add text to your images is that it gives you complete control over where you place your text. From a simple caption at the bottom of a page to a curved caption that follows the mountain at the back of your picture to a complicated pattern of words that fit into the spaces around your subject, this app makes it easy to achieve impressive text effects.

When you first open the Path on app, you have the option to tour their gallery on Instagram, or start creating your own images using those already saved on your device or by taking a new picture. Selected images can then be cropped and, as a nice added feature, the app even includes automatic tools to crop an image to fit the standard size on Instagram or for Facebook cover images or profile images as well as most of the standard image sizes you would find in photography. After the image is cropped, you can select how you would like the text to appear on the image. The app includes automatic options to write text in a square, circle, spiral or standard paragraph format and you can also unlock an automatic heart shape by liking the app on Facebook. But, what really sets this app apart is the option to instead draw your own path onto your image. To do this, you simply select the draw option and then trace the desired path or paths on your image. You can have non-continuous paths and the app will ensure that the text follows the exact order in which you drew each line, giving you an impressive amount of control over the entire process. For more detailed paths, you can also zoom in and out on the image. There are also options to undo your most recent drawing or to clear the entire image. All of these tools make it fairly simple to create a complicated path for your text very quickly.

Once you have selected a path or drawn the desired path for your text on the image, you can type your text and then edit it to make sure it exactly matches your vision. Text can be typed in any of hundreds of fonts or, if you would prefer, you can even opt to mix up to five different fonts on a single image. You also have control over the color of the text, the size, the letter spacing, the shadows and can easily change the layout of the text with the tap of a button. You can also edit the image itself with the built in cropping tool, images filters and other effects. Once you are happy with your creation, you can save it to your device, email it to anyone or share it on Instagram, Facebook, Flickr or Twitter all from within the app. Path on is a very fun option for image captioning and is well worth checking out if you frequently create and share images on your iPhone.

For more app recommendations visit the YALSA App of the Week Archive. If you have an app you think we should review, let us know!

App of the Week: 123D Sculpt

123d sculpt iconTitle: 123D Sculpt
Platform: iOS, iPad
Cost: Free with paid upgrades




Ever want to try 3D modeling? Ever think about how much 3D modeling could be like playing with clay?  I did not equate the two things until I tried this app. 123D Sculpt gives you base shapes to start with and allows you to manipulate them with various tools, add color and texture, and share them in through photos or videos.

App developer, Autodesk, offers a video demo of the app, tips, and a gallery of people’s projects on the 123D Sculpt website. They also offer a lineup of other apps to experiment more with 3D modeling, some of which you can try on the site.

When you open 123D Sculpt, you can choose from a variety of base shapes to start with: a face, a human form, a dog, a cube, a car, an airplane, to name a few. Once you choose a shape, you can manipulate it using various tools.  In the video demo, and in searching images created with 123D Sculpt, it looks easy to change the base shapes into detailed creations. After a bit of experimentation, the learning curve seems steeper. Practice is required to get the “clay” to behave the way you want it to. Continue reading

App of the Week: QuizUp

imagesTitle: Quizup
Cost: Free (with in-app purchases available)
Platform: iOS and Android

Is Quizup the latest app-craze to take over your teen area?  Available initially only for iOS, this addictive trivia game was released for Android platforms just this month.  With over 10 million iOS users already, the game is well on its way to over 1 million Android signups just 10 days after its platform release.  In February, Quizup CEO Thor Fridriksson told Adweek that on average, users spend 30 minutes per day on the app’s trivia challenges.  So take a breath and get ready to plunge headlong into the world of Quizup!

With Quizup, players pit their wits against friends and strangers alike in real-time, intense, timed trivia challenges on hundreds of topics.  With over 220,000 questions, and more added all the time, it is a hard game to get tired of.  To start players sign up either through Facebook or an email address.  If a teen chooses to use their Facebook account (which most of the teens I know do), the app will connect them with Facebook friends that also have the game. (The app will also notify players when Facebook friends sign up.) Privacy issues when using a Facebook account of course abound so library staff should encourage teens to think carefully when choosing this option.  Players teens connect with in the game will see a teen Facebook profile picture and cover photo as well as being able to send messages through the app.
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App of the Week: Waterlogue

Title: Waterlogue
Cost: $2.99
Platform: iOS only

Instagram forever changed the mobile digital photography landscape, but for those who want to get a little more artistic with their camera snaps, the Waterlogue app, which offers a single version for both iPhone and iPads, offers a foolproof way to convert the photographic into the painterly.

Waterlogue provides a dozen options for rendering your photographs into lovely watercolors, from the draftsmanlike to the abstract. You can manipulate the sharpness of each image after the filter is overlaid.

Not only does the app allow you to output frame-worthy personal momentos, but it offers countless options for inventive library signage and brochures — and, as the Waterlogue FAQ states, if you own the image, you are free to do what you want with the watercolor produced, including commercial applications.
Painted in Waterlogue
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App of the Week: ComiXology

ComiXologyLogoTitle: ComiXology
Cost: Free
Platforms: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows 8

As someone who generally prefers to read a physical copy of a book or comic rather than using an e-reader, I admit I was slow to warm to reading comics on my e-reader. But, as this winter has stretched on with one snow storm after the next, the convenience of being able to download comics, at least occasionally, rather than venturing out to buy them in the cold tempted me to give ComiXology another try. The app is designed to connect both longtime comic fans and those who are new to the genre with their favorite comics and graphic novels. When you first open the app, you are taken to a homepage that highlights featured comics, but you can also sort through the vast library of available comics by categories such as newest, most popular, specific creators, publishers or genre. The “staff picks” section highlights some of the best options, according to the ComiXology staff, usually starting with issue #1. For those who prefer graphic novels, the app includes a good selection of those as well. There is also a special page for series that brings together all of the books in a series in order, which can be particularly helpful for those who need a little help knowing where to dive into their reading. If you are looking for a specific comic or artist there is also a search feature that works pretty well when searching for comics you already know about, but only if you spell the title or author’s name correctly.


ComiXology on iPad

Entries for each comic include a picture of the cover, information about its release date, authors, and length, both an age rating and a popularity rating and three example pages of the comic so you can evaluate the art style. From this entry, you can either purchase the comic, add an alert for it or share it with friends via social media or email. While the underlying app itself is free, you will have to pay for most of the comics that you want to read. However, a selection of free comics is always available for readers interested in giving something new a try and there are frequent deals such as “Marvel Mondays” where popular comics are offered at a discount. Payment is tied to your Apple account, so you pay the same way you would for an app and can apply iTunes gift cards to your ComiXology purchases. One thing to keep in mind when recommending this app to teens is that it will warn you when you download the app that some of the comics contain adult content. This is certainly not true of all of the comics and users can opt to only purchase non-adult content, but it is something to be aware of if you are recommending it to teens or their parents. It is also worth noting that each comic is given an age rating, which makes it easy to limit your purchases to content you are comfortable with.

ComiXology on a Smartphone

Smartphone view

Once you have purchased comics, you can either set up a subscription, which will automatically pay for new issues of a series when they are released so they are ready for download as soon as they are added to ComiXology’s library, or you can purchase each issue individually. Purchased apps download fairly quickly and I have been happy with the clarity and quality of the images and text in the app. Once you have purchased a comic on one device you can automatically share it with any other device that is tied to the same ComiXology account, so you can seamlessly read on any device. Navigating through a comic is the same as navigating through an ebook if you are reading on a tablet or other device with a large screen, but if you are reading on a smartphone, ComiXology defaults to their proprietary GuidedView feature, which allows you to navigate through a comic panel by panel as your eyes would move through a full page of a comic. You can also zoom in on specific panels to see more detail. This makes it much more comfortable to read comics on even a small iPhone screen. The app is available for iOS, Android, Kindle and Windows devices and there is also a browser-based version of the store. Whether you are already fan of comics or you are interested in getting more into reading them, ComiXology can be a great option when you aren’t near a comic book shop.

For more app recommendations visit the YALSA App of the Week Archive. If you have an app you think we should review, let us know!

App of the Week: Notegraphy

Notegraphy LogoTitle: Notegraphy
Platform: iOS (with Android coming soon)
Cost: Free

Design and typography fans will be happy to know that there is a new tool that allows you to share text and makes use of well-styled typefaces and fun design elements. Notegraphy is designed to be a way to share text in a more attractive format than most social networks allow.

Using Notegraphy is as simple as typing your text into the service. Notes can be any length. Once you have finished your note, you can style it using one of over 30 different styles that have been created by a variety of artists and designers. Most of the options offer multiple color schemes for further customization. Once you are happy with your design, you can add a title and tags and then publish it, either on Notegraphy alone or also directly onto other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. And Evernote users will be pleased to know that you can share it directly with your Evernote account as well. Published notes can either be private or public and can allow or disallow comments. Each user has their own dedicated URL where their gallery is displayed, and you can choose to follow other Notegraphy users or favorite specific notes, which makes Notegraphy its own standalone social network for these sorts of designed texts.

NotegraphyScreenshotNotegraphy is a great tool for making better looking text posts online. It is currently still in beta and there are a few features I hope that they will add in the future, such as Pinterest integration and the ability to export or print notes more easily, but for now it is an interesting new design app. It is a great tool for those who frequently share text online, but it could also be used to encourage teens at your library to share their favorite passages from books or to share quotations across your library’s social media accounts. Check it out to see if it works for you.

For more app recommendations visit the YALSA App of the Week Archive. If you have an app you think we should review, let us know!

App of the Week: Cycloramic

Title: Cycloramic
Cost: $1.99
Platform: iOS 6 or later

manga box logoIf you watch Shark Tank you may have seen the Cycloramic app featured and actually funded by the sharks. If you don’t watch Shark Tank you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about. Either way Cycloramic is an interesting app that is sure to be of interest to teens and adults. The idea is to make it easy to take panoramic images. Sure, there are other apps that make it possible to take panoramas, but here’s the difference between those and Cycloramic, the app uses the iPhones features to take the panorama image in a hands-free mode.

The video clip below shows the pitch by the Cycloramic developer on Shark Tank and you can see how the app works.

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