I read a report not too long ago claiming that buying Lego and keeping it mint in box was a better investment than buying gold. While I'm sure that's an exaggeration, it got me thinking about Lego and its value. Good Lego sets never really decline in value, and once Lego stops selling a particular set, it skyrockets in value. Take the Death Star for instance. It's not been out of production for that long and there are already people asking for £200 more than the original retail price. It makes you wonder, doesn't it?
Then again, it all rests on you being able to resist opening up the box and playing with it. I certainly couldn't manage that. What I can manage, however, is to deliver you some fine new apps.
Android: Stop swipin! (Free)
We've all met that person. The one who decides that being handed your phone to look at a single images gives them the right to go flicking through your photo album and the rest of your phone. You know the type. There are plenty of apps that try and prevent them from getting very far, and Stop swipin! is probably the most ingenious one I've seen.
Essentially it lets you create your own photo album that happens to be a lockscreen of sorts. It's also incredibly simple. You open up the app and choose photos from the phone, your SD card, and Google Drive accounts. This creates a custom album that you can save or open up into a slideshow. It doesn't sound all that exciting, but that slideshow can only be closed in a very specific way. That means whoever you hand your phone to can't swipe through to images you don't want them to see, and they can't close the images without holding the back and recent apps buttons at the same time.
The downside here is that the app does flash up a little pop up telling you how to close the slideshow if you attempt to hit either the back or recent apps buttons. So it's hardly a foolproof way to stopping the nosey bastards of the world getting through your phone. Still, it's an obstacle that will make it much more difficult for them to overstep the boundary.
You should also try:
SKRWT: An image editing app that has more than just the basics like colour correction. SkRWT designed to offer high-end lens-correction and high-end editing features. [£0.67]
Music for Moods: Tired of not having the right tunes to match your current mindset? Using your phone's camera, Music for Moods will identify how you're feeling and offer up some appropriate music. [£2.38]
Learn Python Programming: Want to learn the Python programming language? This app makes it easy, with video tutorials, projects, programmes, interviews, and more. [Free]
iPhone: Adobe Voice (Free)
Let's be honest, unless you're one of a very select few then your voice is boring. Nobody wants to hear you drone on about all sorts of nonsense that your brain comes up with. Let's out an end to that, and make listening to you a little bit more interesting (and appealing) using Adobe Voice.
The best way to describe Adobe Voice is that it's a presentation app, similar to the likes of Powerpoint but focused on audible words rather than on-screen text. You record clips of yourself, and then craft slides that focus around each individual clip and add some visual appeal or context to what you're saying. Once complete, those slides come together as a slideshow/video complete with a soundtrack.
It's a fairly simple process, and the app walks you through every step from beginning to end. It comes with a selection of Clipart-esque images, stock music, and backgrounds, but you can always substitute those for the stuff you have on your phone anyway.
You should also try:
Tripnary: A handy little app designed to help you pick the location of your next holiday, based on the budget you have available. [Free]
Caffeine: We all love our does of liquid energy, but have you ever wondered how much you're actually consuming? Caffeine tracks it all for you. [£0.79]
Once: A dating app that only gives you a single match each day, handpicked rather than relying on algorithms. [Free - with subscription]
iPad: GIF Keyboard (Free)
There are times when we can't express how we're feeling with plain old text. Using a variety of smiley faces doesn't really work either, especially given how different phones use different designs that are every so slightly different. Those are the times where we need reaction GIFs, and GIF Keyboard places an entire database of useful reactions at your disposal.
It's worth mentioning that this is a keyboard, so opening the app itself only gives you a sample of what the app is capable of. Not that the set up is particularly complex anyway. As you might imagine, GIF Keyboard itself is accessed through the standard iOS keyboard by holding down on the little globe in the bottom right hand corner, and that's where the magic happens.
Never again will you have to dredge through the depths of imgur, tumblr, Reddit, and Google Images in order to find the right GIF for your reaction. Any reaction GIF worth a damn is here, in an easy to search hashtag-organised format. You know how you're feeling, so all you need to do is search for the appropriate tag, and scroll through the GIFs on offer until you find something you like. It really is that simple.
GIF Keyboard also has a 'favourite' folder, so you can keep track of all the best reactions you find. It also keeps track of the GIFs you used recently, should you ever need them again quickly, and it even notifies you when more GIFs are available. Oh, and of course should you find anything that isn't included you can add to the app as well.
You should also try:
Music Memos: A new app designed to be the middle point between Garage Band and Apple's memo app, letting musicians capture and organise new musical ideas easily and quickly. [Free]
Windows Mobile: Tweakcolor (Free - with in-app purchase)
Image editing apps are a dime a dozen these days, whether they're big and extensive like Photoshop and Pixelmator or just simple things that add filters into the mix. Tweakcolor is sort of in the middle of those two categories. It's not so basic that a single tap of the button a single change, but it's not too complex and doesn't have a billion intimidating features to use.
It's a little bit like a colouring book, to be honest. You pull an image in from elsewhere on your phone, and you get to 'colour' in areas in a new colour from a pre-determined palette. That's the bulk of it anyway. You choose the size of the 'brush' and when you tap somewhere on the screen it will change to the new colour. It's important to remember that this isn't like MS Paint, and adding the new colour won't ruin any of the details of the original image. It just changes the tint while keeping the original image intact. Since most of the images are converted into greyscale when you import them (don't worry, you can change them back), it means that by colouring the image you're replacing the shades of grey with a totally different colour.
That's not all there is to it, however. You also get to fiddle with settings like contrast, balance, gamma, and others to apply some bizarre effects to your final image. Anyone who ever bothered to fiddle with the image settings in Microsoft Picture Manager will know the kinds of things I mean.
You should also try:
Hear it First: This isn't a translation app, but if you already know what a word or phrase in a foreign language looks like on paper then you can use this to to hear exactly how it's pronounced. [Free]
Playcast: (Update) The app that lets you cast media content to all your streaming devices and consoles just got an update. It's now got Miracast support and the option to pull in media from a number of different cloud storage services. [£3.09]