Thursday, April 17, 2014

[App Review] Google Camera

Are you on an Android 4.4 or higher based device and find the camera lacking in features? Do you want to take Photosphere or Lens Blur pictures just like the Nexus 5? Then check out the official Google Camera app.

The camera app from Google can be downloaded directly from Google Play as an official Google app but currently requires Android 4.4 (KitKat) or higher. While the camera, video, and panorama modes are standard, the app introduces two features otherwise not available.

The first is Photosphere. This lets the user take highly immersive pictures in 360 degress. It can be thought of as a panorama on top of a panorama as far as size and scope. To take a Photosphere, the user needs to center the viewfinder into the dots which takes individual pictures. When the checkbox in selected, the Photosphere is processed and is ready to share.

The second feature if Lens Blur. What this feature does is focus on an object or person in the viewfinder and blur the background for additional foreground focus. Lens Blur achieves this by taking the initial picture and the user moving the phone vertically or horizontally depending on the direction the phone is angled. If the user moves too fast or the foreground object is no longer centered the app will let the user know. Processing works similarl to Photosphere and will show up in the Gallery when ready.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

[App Review] Mailbox

If you ever wanted an e-mail app that works to remind you rather than have a multitude of apps to provide the same experience, then Mailbox may be the app for you. The app is developed by the creators of Dropbox and provides the functionality for iOS and Android. The interface is built around swyping to organize and get through e-mails. Short swyping right for example archives emails while long swyping right will delete the email. Swyping left will allow users to setup a reminder for that email later among various other reminders types.

The UI looks like a mix between iOS 7 and Android's HoloUI which gives it a very light look and feel. If Gmail is used, the app supports Gmail aliases to send and receive emails which can be added via settings. The app is very light on resources as well so performance should not be a factor along with nice transitions to make the app feel very much at home on Android.