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

There are so many different photo and video apps available for mobile devices that it can to tough to keep up with them, but Fyuse is one that caught my interest pretty quickly. Fyuse is one of the recent apps to take advantage of the built-in cameras on iOS and Android devices to allow users to create media that is a cross between a 3D image and a video. The end result is a unique sort of image that is fun to create and a great way to record an event or location.

Once you have downloaded the app, you have the option to create an account or login via Facebook or Twitter. After you are logged into the app, you can check out content created by other users, either through the homepage, which offers featured images, or by searching through images created with the app using hashtags or usernames. Both of these are nice resources for seeing what you can do with the app and offer inspiration for new users. You can also connect with users through the app or by finding friends from your Facebook or Twitter accounts.

All of these features are just the background for the true purpose of the app, which is capturing the details of the world around you. Creating an image requires you to press and hold the recording button to reveal four arrows, up, down, left, and right. You must carefully select which direction you will move your device because you can only move in a single direction while creating an image. While still holding the button, you then move slowly around the object or view that you want to record. This step requires a bit of a delicate and steady hand to ensure that you get a smooth image, but it isn’t much more difficult than recording a clear video with your device. When you are done, you simply release the button and tap the image in the lower right hand corner of your screen to preview your Fyuse image.

This is a fun new option for creating dynamic images and I think it is one that will be enjoyable for all ages. It is definitely worth checking out. You can see it in action in the video below.

Title:  Kong
Cost:  Free
Platform:  iOS and Android

Kong iconWhen stories about Kong, a social media app devoted to selfie GIFs, started popping up in my news feed, I had some questions. Mostly of the "why?" and "really?" variety. I couldn't see how a network of moving selfies could possibly be interesting or worthwhile. But I'm here to tell you I was wrong. This thing is super fun.

Set up an account and you're introduced to the app through your home page, which starts as a grid of brightly colored boxes that are empty except for the top left square -- a live feed from your front-facing camera (the only camera Kong allows you to use at this time.) The other boxes will eventually fill up with the feeds of friends you add through your phone's contact lists or by following other users.

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Title: Pursuit of Light
Cost: $1.99
Platform: iOS 7 or later

pursuit of light logoPursuit of Light is a game in which players have to move through a set of challenges in order to help the main character reach the light. The challenges get harder as the game play progresses and as higher levels are reached more trouble-shooting and critical thinking skills are required. The video below provides a brief overview of how the game works.


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Green Screen logoName: Green Screen by Do Ink
Platform: iOS, compatible with iPad
Cost: $2.99

While digital media labs complete with green screens, cameras, computers and software may be out of reach for many libraries, creating composite photos and videos with your teens doesn't have to be. I set out a few weeks ago to find a free or low-cost green screen option and have been fortunate. After testing several chroma key apps, Green Screen by Do Ink is the one I keep coming back to for flexibility and user friendliness. I had begun by looking for free apps, and quickly discovered that I could either pay up front for green screen capabilities, or download free apps that include "in-app purchases." In-app purchases meant paying to unlock the chroma key tool or to get rid of an obtrusive watermark that rendered the free version essentially useless. I also discovered in one case that the developers' definition of green screen did not match my own (it was basically a $4.99 masking tool, something that comes included in many photo editing apps). With no advertisements or watermarks, Green Screen's $2.99 cost is worthwhile.
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Storycorps LogoName: StoryCorps.me
Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: Free

Several years ago, YALSA Blog covered the original StoryCorps app, but recently StoryCorps released a new app that offers some great new features. The app allows you to create an account, but you can also proceed without an account if you would prefer. Once you make that decision, you can get started with your first oral history right away.

When you get started with your first interview, you can opt to either start recording right away or prepare your interview questions in advance. If you pick the option to prepare your interview first, you are offered several tips on best practices for conducting this time of interview. These are very approachable for those who are new to interviewing and cover the basic protocols that should be followed in a way that lets novices feel like experts very quickly. You are then prompted with the three preparatory steps for the interview: customizing a question list, selecting who you will interview, and setting the length of your interview. Read More →

Name:  Opinion
Platform:  iOS
Cost:  Free

ICON_OpinionWith shows like Serial and Welcome to Night Vale, podcasts continue to gain popularity with teens and those of us who work with them, but the options for creating our own podcasts require more time and technical wizardry than some of us possess. Opinion is the app that will eliminate any remaining excuses to jump into the fray.

Two screens and three buttons are just about all it takes to record your podcast.  Hit the red button at the top of the home screen to record audio, which shows up as a vertical sound wave that stops when you hit the button a second time.  Tap on the sound chunk you just created and you're taken to the second screen where you can check the flow of your sound bites, edit out the dead air and exorbitant "um"s with the touch of the scissors icon, or get rid of an unsuccessful segment by selecting the trash bin.

Opinion Screens

A trip back to the home page allows you to add music and sound effects from your device's library, rearrange any of your sound wave segments, and export your finished product to SoundCloud, email, or text message.

While Opinion may not be a professional-grade recording platform -- there are no options to layer audio or work on more than one project at a time, and you're stuck with a 10-minute recording limit until you pay $3.99 for an upgrade -- it is fast, free, and so easy to use it's sure to inspire the podcast fans in your midst to become podcast producers.

Have a suggestion for App of the Week? Let us know. And find more great Apps in the YALSA Blog's App of the Week Archive.

Trivia Crack LogoName: Trivia Crack
Platform: iOS, Android, Windows phone, and Facebook
Cost: Free

As apps have proliferated, so have the games that are available for mobile devices. It can be hard to sift through all of the available game apps to find those that set themselves apart, but recently I found one that I think is among the best of the trivia games available for mobile devices. Called Trivia Crack, this app combines an ability to compete against both friends and strangers with crowdsourced questions and cute graphics. Taken together, this translates into a fun game that will keep you playing for hours.

Trivia Crack makes use of many features that will be familiar to players of other games. In some ways, it is like Trivial Pursuit since it involves building up a collection of characters that represent the six different topic areas: Entertainment, Art, Sports, History, Science, and Geography. Like many mobile games, it also includes the option to choose to either play a game against a randomly assigned stranger or to search for friends to play against. The option to chat (and trash talk) with your opponent via the messaging feature is built into each round. Also like many mobile games, Trivia Crack features achievements that can be shared on social media, a shop where players can purchase tools that give them various advantages (with prices that range from $0.99 to $99.99), and rankings for those playing with enough other players. As a nice added feature, Trivia Crack also includes a “Question Factory” that allows players to create, rate, and translate questions that make up the backbone of the game. If a player’s question is ultimately approved and used, the player receives credit on the question screen, which can be a nice perk.

Trivia Crack QuestionTrivia Crack Question Factory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game play itself is much like standard trivia games. Users tap on a spinner to randomize the topic that they are assigned and must then answer a question in that topic area. The spinner also includes a wild card slot with a crown on it. If a user hits that option, they are given a chance to either answer a question to win one of the topic area characters (which serve a purpose similar to the pie pieces in Trivial Pursuit) or to challenge their opponent in a bid to steal one of their characters. To win a challenge, players are asked to answer several questions and their opponent is then given a chance to answer the same questions. Whoever comes up with more correct answers wins.

Trivia Crack is a fun and slightly addictive mobile trivia game. Because it is available for so many different platforms, it is a great option for groups of friends who use different types of devices. If you are a fan of trivia, it is a great (and free!) option.

Have a suggestion for App of the Week? Let us know. And find more great Apps in the YALSA Blog's App of the Week Archive.

Space Age LogoName: Space Age: A Cosmic Adventure
Price: $3.99
Platform: iOS

Combining 8-bit-style graphics and a mysterious foreign planet, Space Age by Big Bucket offers players an opportunity to explore a new world while trying to solve puzzles and find a way home. Set in 1976, the game follows a small band of interplanetary explorers who are exploring Kepler-16. On the planet, they find a variety of alien life forms, including plants and insects, but no intelligent life. Or so they assume. Navigate a map to accomplish missions, move back in time to learn more about how the characters came to be on Kepler-16, and try to solve the mysteries of this alien environment.

This game gives you control over a variety of characters and an opportunity to explore a planet with only small segments of the landscape revealed at a time. The game alternates between exploration, puzzles, and characters’ interactions, which can range from fighting to conversing. The levels vary significantly so that some are easy to complete and others are more challenging, which I found made the game more engaging and kept it from being too short. Though I played Space Age on an iPad, it is also available for iPhones and I think that it would translate well to the smaller screen, though the images are more impressive when larger.

Space Age will appeal to video gamers who fondly recall 8-bit arcade games from their childhood, but it will also appeal to teens and tweens who like games that bring together appealing artwork and compelling storytelling to create an immersive experience. The puzzles will challenge even those who play a lot of mobile games, though the app remains approachable for those who are not dedicated gamers. Unlike many mobile games, I feel that Space Age manages to carefully walk this line between “serious” and “casual” gamers, in a way that I think will make this a popular game. If all of this intrigues you, you can learn more about the game by watching the trailer below.

Have a suggestion for App of the Week? Let us know. And find more great Apps in the YALSA Blog's App of the Week Archive.

Name: Adventure Time Game Wizard
Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: $4.99    atgw3

Fans of Cartoon Network's Adventure Time series can choose any number of games from just about any app store in order to continue their adventures in the Land of Ooo, but the show's latest app, Game Wizard, gives players the power to design levels of game play as well.

At it's core, Game Wizard is a typical 2D sidescroller game that follows favorite characters from the show as they collect coins, battle villains with their awesome swordplay, and jump from level to level.

atgw1

 

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True Legends LogoName: True Legends
Price: Free
Platform: iOS

True Legends is a very interesting and, fortunately, free app that I can best describe as a combination of a short story and an animated short. The app first asks users whether they would like to use the app in Hebrew or English. Once you have made a language selection, you are presented with an opening screen that looks very much like the front cover of a book with credits for the writer (Alex Epstein) and the illustrator (Tsach Weinberg).

At this point, the app also demonstrates the swiping motion that is required to advance through the story. Rather than turning pages, users swipe as if zooming in to trigger motion and animations throughout the story. Sometimes these animations are, in fact, zooming in to see details, but they also include movement and scenery changes. While there is only one path through the story, this does add an interactive quality to the app and makes for an impressive user experience. The soft and meditative music that plays throughout also adds an immersive quality to the app.

True Legends Screenshot

The story, and therefore the app, are quite brief, but the beauty of the artwork and the haunting and fable-like nature of the story makes up for that, at least for me. In the end, I think this app is an interesting example of how the app format can allow artists to change the way that they present stories and artwork and it is an example of the types of innovations that we will hopefully see more of in the future. Especially given the fact that it is free, I think this is a great app to load on library iPads for demonstration purposes or to show to those who are disappointed that ebooks are so frequently simply text presented on an electronic device.

Have a suggestion for App of the Week? Let us know. And find more great Apps in the YALSA Blog's App of the Week Archive.