Snapseed

SnapseedThis is the third post in a short series of Android photo editing and post-processing app reviews.

Snapseed is an interesting piece of software. It is developed by Nik Software, who, since they were founded back in 1995, mostly spent their time developing photographic filters for Adobe PhotoShop. But in 2011, they released Snapseed on the iPad, then a desktop version for Microsoft Windows in 2012 before they were acquired by Google. In late December, Snapseed was also released for Android devices. Many of the features in Snapseed also found their way into Google Plus and Google eventually discontinued the desktop version of the software.

While the other apps I’ve reviewed lately are updated quite frequently by their developers, Snapseed hasn’t seen any updates since October last year, which is pretty lame. There might be many reasons for this, but if I’m to speculate, I would say that Google is probably working on incorporating Snapseed features into their own camera app, Google Camera – or perhaps an advanced version of that app. Until that happens – if it ever does – there’s no reason why you can’t use Snapseed with all of its features (as described by Nik Software on in the Google Play Store) even if its not updated at the moment:

  • Auto Correct – Automatically analyzes your photo and adjusts color and exposure to perfection.
  • Selective Adjust – Make precise selections and enhancements to specific areas of your photos in seconds with Nik Software’s revolutionary U Point technology.
  • Tune Image – Use Ambience to create depth and vibrancy that uniquely adapts to colors and textures. Adjust White Balance, Saturation, Contrast, more.
  • Straighten & Rotate – Rotate 90° and/or straighten photos with simple gesture controls.
  • Crop – Easily crop images to remove distracting parts of your photo with standard aspect ratios, or a free crop.
  • Create enhancements – Black and white, vintage films, drama, grunge, tilt-shift, details, center focus, frames and retrolux.

Like Driving in the Future

Last year, we had to buy a car. After I had managed to avoid having to purchase two tonnes of high speed death for years, I finally caved. After doing a lot of research and test driving, we eventually settled on an estate model from Škoda. Before 2000, Škoda would not even have been an option. The Czech company’s reputation in Western Europe wasn’t the best, but that changed completely after the car manufacturer became a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen. Our decision to go for a Škoda model was based on recommendations from friends, that the particular model we purchased had lots of room for Vilde and everything we need to bring with us – her stroller fits effortlessly in the back – that the emissions are fairly low for that type of car1 and that the pricing was competitive.

While we haven’t covered huge distances with the car yet, we’re pretty pleased with it and I recommend it everywhere I go. The only thing that’s really disappointing is the built in navigation system. Having tested navigation systems in other people’s cars, I didn’t expect much, but the Škoda Amundsen+ really sucks monkey balls. The features and usability isn’t too bad, but the maps are terrible outdated – and maps have to be considered a pretty essential part of a navigation system. On our way to Sweden this summer, the satnav suddenly told us we were driving offroad, but I swear we were still driving on a perfectly paved road. Not only that, the road we were driving on had been there for years, but apparently never made it to the Škoda maps. How hard can it be2?

So instead of crappy, outdated maps, I naturally want to use better and more frequently updated maps. I had an old Galaxy Tab laying around and decided to try to use that and Google Maps or Waze instead of Škoda’s sorry excuse for a navigation system. Plus we get easier access to Spotify in the car, which is a great bonus. Unfortunately, about half the times I connect the Galaxy Tab to the cigarette lighter to charge it, the fuse for the front seat and passenger seat cigarette lighter blows. This pretty much makes using the Galaxy Tab a non-option, but I’ve got a few spare fuses now, so whenever I’m feeling adventures I still charge it.

In the long run, however, my stock of spare fuses will eventually empty and I’m guessing there’s a reason why fuses blow: There’s something not quite right with the Galaxy Tab. Every other device I’ve attached, like my Nexus 5 and Anniken’s iPhone have no quirky effects on the car’s electrical system. In other words, I need another solution to the Škoda Navigation Challenge.

Enter Navdy. It’s like driving in the future.

PhotoDirector – Photo Editor

PhotoDirector - Photo EditorThis is the second post in a short series of Android photo editing and post-processing app reviews.

PhotoDirector – Photo Editor is a product of the Taiwanese company CyberLink, known for software like PowerDVD. The company has been around for a while, with the first version of PowerDVD being released way back in 1998. CyberLink also creates photo editing software and PhotoDirector – Photo Editor is a scaled down Android version of their desktop photo editing software PhotoDirector. Confused about the names yet? I know I am.

Here’s a few of its many features (as listed by CyberLink themselves on Google Play):

  • Quickly Correct White Balance for improved color accuracy
  • Easily Adjust Tone with Brightness, Darkness, Exposure and Contrast sliders
  • Fine tune Saturation for the most vivid image possible
  • Remove unwanted objects from your photo with ease
  • Instantly choose from over 40 Preset Effects including Lomo, Artistic, HDR effects and Vignette, to give your image the mood you desire
  • Easily touch up portraits on the move with the accurate Skin Smoothing tool.
  • Shoot directly into the app with your camera, or edit images from your gallery.- After you have created the image you want with PhotoDirector’s powerful tools, share it right away with your friends, family and followers on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and more.

Compared to Photo Editor (review), the PhotoDirector UI is much simpler. PhotoDirector is not as packed with features as Photo Editor, but it does have the features most of you will need and those work very nice. The removal tool in particular stands out as very well implemented and makes it easy to remove unwanted blemishes from your photos. A good example is the sea picture in the examples below, where I’ve removed the glare from a ceiling lamp in just a few seconds and the end result is excellent.

Podcasting

Oh, no. Relax. I’m not in the process of setting up my own podcast to bother you audibly in addition to through writing. Instead, I thought I’d share a few of the high quality podcasts I’m listening to regularly.

Podcasting in various forms has been around for ages, but arguably didn’t hit mainstream until Apple released a version of their dreaded iTunes application with podcast support in 2005. Apple is also partly responsible for the “podcast” name, which was first mentioned in The Guardian newspaper in a February 2004 article. It is a portmanteau of the words “pod” (from Apple’s iPod) and “broadcast”.

I’ve never been into podcasts big time, partly because I felt I was getting all the information I needed through browsing the internet and partly because I never had the time (or took the time) to listen to them. But when we moved to Nesodden last year, I suddenly found myself commuting for an hour to and from work and decided podcasts could potentially be a nice way to kill some time.

Finding high quality podcasts turned out to be quite the challenge. There is a lot of crap out there. Like with the blogsphere, where it’s very easy for everyone and their mum to set up a blawgh, it’s also very easy to record a podcast and distribute it all over the internet, for instance via iTunes.

With the list below, I hope that I’ve been able to filter out some of the podcast universe’s noise to help you to quickly find a few high quality podcasts – at least if you’re looking for podcasts in the genres of electronic music, tech security and computer games.

Photo Editor

Photo Editor.This is the first post in a short series of Android photo editing and post-processing app reviews.

After reviewing Pixlr Express – photo editing (review), I realized what I was looking for was a photo editing and post-processing app – not just a camera app. While there isn’t as many apps like that compared to camera apps, there’s still a great selection to choose from. Among the most feature rich is an app simply called Photo Editor. There should not be any doubt what this app does.

Photo Editor is the creation of a guy calling himself dev.macgyver, but before you start accusing him of taking The MacGyver‘s name in vain, I can assure you that he is worthy of such an honor: Photo Editor rivals many other (free) desktop utilities when it comes to richness in features and here’s a few highlights:

  • Rotate, crop, resize, frame and clone
  • Curves interface that allows fine-tuning of colors
  • Drawing mode, adding text or images
  • Adjust gamma and brightness
  • Effects like cross process, lomo, sepia
  • Frames like vignette, drop shadow and polaroid
  • Easy rotation, crop or resize of photos
  • Perspective, red-eye, and backlight corrections
  • Easily edit with the touch and pinch-to-zoom interface
  • Save images in JPEG, PNG, GIF and PDF. Flexible control of JPEG quality.
  • Undo and redo
  • PDF creation, webpage capture, compress to ZIP and animated GIFs