[APP REVIEW] SnapSeed makes photo editing a snap!

If you downloaded the Apple 12 Apps of Christmas, then you’ve been lucky enough to have your phone stocked with some great apps, games and music (One Direction, swoon!). But for me, one app really stood out. Not being much of a gamer, Snapseed was my by far favourite, and an absolute gem in the app store crowd. This handy photo editing app allows you to edit images into any style you like, bringing amateur photography to a whole new level, which Instagram can’t even touch.

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Vodafone Blue, is really a bit Blue…

Vodafone have recently released their new Vodafone Blue handset here in Ireland, specifically for all the Facebook nuts out there, as their own answer to HTC’s Facebook handset being run exclusively on O2. One landed on my desk a few weeks ago, so I decided to play around with it.

 

First impressions are a bit reminiscent of a BlackBerry from maybe 3 years ago, there’s a lot of buttons laid out across the handset with a sizable enough screen for the handset’s size in standard QWERTY, with the addition of the Facebook button along the bottom. The menu buttons along the top are a little more confusing, besides the standard call answer and drop buttons, there’s a touch-joystick in the middle which takes a little getting used to when you’re used to gesture based touch screens, there’s also two buttons to either side, which although are not labeled are menu option buttons.

Vodafone

Vodafone 555 Blue Facebook Phone

Running on a custom OS, it’s not too bad, and certainly has enough features for the basic end user. With Facebook instantly accessible and a mediocre camera for updates on the move. Other than that it’s almost indistinguishable from any other Nokia handset for example, while this isn’t exactly a bad thing, it’s not something to go shouting about. I can see where the market for the handset it, for young people who don’t have the finances or the inclination to get a full fledged smartphones but want to keep in touch and use the social benefits which one can give.

 

One major problem, which I had with the handset, was, typing. The buttons are far too small, and for some reason typing ‘c’ also gives me an ‘e’ which I still cannot understand, it might be a handset setting, but why such would exist is beyond understanding. The OS is also clunky, with a poor response from the joystick it was tedious finding my way around. Perhaps it might be easier if I hadn’t come from using an iPhone or Android, but it was a bit of a pain.

 

Overall, the idea is good, but the handset feels like something, which would have been released to the low end of the Market maybe 5 years ago. You could do much worse than this handset, while I did have a lot of trouble with it, the OS felt simple enough and reliable. Perhaps Vodafone should leave Facebook phones to the guys over at HTC, but if you’re looking for a phone to give you on the go Facebook access, you may as well fork out, or wait until Christmas for an iPhone, or the excellent HTC Sensation, you’d get faster, more intuitive access with less hassle and a bettered camera.

 

The Vodafone Blue Facebook phone is currently not available in stores, but you can register your interest on their Facebook page.

Twitter to be set aflutter…

Twitter, the self-professed ‘pulse of the planet’ is set to make big changes over the coming weeks.

Alex Payne, an engineer at Twitter earlier posted the following tweet;

“If you had some of the nifty site features that we Twitter employees have, you might not want to use a desktop client. (You will soon.)”

This comment straight from the company’s mouth, has gotten some third party developers worried. While most users still access tweets and update through the website itself, a large number of tweeters use programs such as Tweetdeck and Twitterfox on their computers, and apps such as Twitterific or Echofon on their smart phones, which are often packed with useful features to tailor the social networking service to their separate platforms.

It’s tough to see what more the popular micro-blogging site can add without risking losing its image as a slimmed down, basic site which has a news-feed and update box and cluttering our interfaces like some other sites. It will be interesting to see what’s added, with some suggesting the possibility of inbuilt geo-location (featured on a lot of third party apps), redesign for the allowance of twitter ads, which are being introduced in the upcoming months – helping to get the site some

iPhone app for twitter

Could we be seeing this in the app store? Is it a feature to look forward to?!

Twitter might also be working on an app of its own, after hiring some UI guru’s straight from Linkedin, who were largely responsible for the social networking site’s app for both the iPhone and other mobile platforms.

It will be interesting to see how Twitter will integrate some of their new features which might be popping along. The site recently got it’s fingers burned after introducing their ‘Retweet’ function which fell foul of users who preferred to use the term ‘RT’.

Many commentators have suggested that this is because users prefer to see Twitter as an entity separate of any corporations, where the people themselves make the site rather than the functions.

We’ll have to wait and see for the upcoming months to reveal what Twitter have up their sleeves, and if we’ll even like it.

Psst, Buzz? Buzz off!

Google Buzz has been getting people talking, and tweeting about what we’re all supposed to do with it; delete it, or keep it? So far the new service which aims to threaten the livelihood of both Facebook and Twitter has been met with mostly negative reviews with people reaching for the disable button, and unsure responses in the form of waiting to see.

buzz google

Not quite as popular as Buzz Lightyear, but Google Buzz might be just as stellar

Straight off a person can see the usefulness of having their emails, Twitter and Facebook all in the one place, in one tab without leaving. The convenience in an ever more microscopic world is brilliant, but Google have forgotten something; I don’t want my inbox anywhere near my friends.

For most people their inbox is a semi-sacred ground, being filled mostly with auto-mails from magazines, websites, mail exchanged with work colleagues or friends, handy links people might think of and send, planning going out etc. What happens when it all gets slightly mixed up with “oh hey, I’m making toast!” ?

Twitter and Facebook are for friends who we like to keep up-to-date with, but might not always chat to regularly, websites for updates on products or queries, newspapers for news, or even just for exchanging our own news with a wider audience. There is a sense that Facebook and Twitter are, public – like our front gardens; the entire world can see them and chat to us at the end of the driveway, but the inbox is the house front door, we don’t let the milkman in for telly and tea!

The inbox is a private retreat for what we might not want others to see, both for work, and play. Yes, I know, Buzz in a different tab and has very little interaction with your inbox – but at the same time, it’s a mental barrier for most people, and I don’t know about many other people but most of my emails are once off affairs to strangers or people I barely know, besides I wouldn’t have nearly the same amount of contacts as on Twitter or Facebook.

To top it all off; years and years of hair pulling, annoyance and money have been spent ridding our emails of spam, only for Google to let it all back in through the back door? Hmmm…

Google has previously attempted to jump on board the social media bandwagon, with Orkut, which failed to make big splashes in the wider online world, but is still one of the highest ranking sites out there, with over 100 million users (it’s big in India). I can’t help but wonder if Google missed the boat with this one, and was beaten to the post by Twitter.

google buzz logo

We'll be seeing this just below the 'inbox' button, but do we want to?

Even though I’m mostly negative about Buzz and the idea of Buzz, I can see the potential. The issues Google needs to overcome are convincing people to open their front door, not long after we hear of Gmail accounts being hacked, and a general distrust of the company from the public stemming from their seemingly endless power as a search monopoly.

As with Wave, it might just be a case of five years too soon, who knows.