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Media

I’ve written on AppStorm before about how much I love Pinboard, a bookmarking service that allows you to privately collect and tag webpages for easy access later. Pinboard is one of those services that sounds completely ridiculous — until you try it. It’s a great service, and its developer, Maciej Ceglowski, is truly dedicated to improving it and keeping it consistently up.

As many people know, the service can also operate as a great Read Later service. You can mark webpages as unread. Pinboard tags them as such, and you can catch up later on the Web or with your favourite Pinboard app of choice. Until recently, there weren’t any apps designed to make Pinboard a true Read Later service in the same vein as Instapaper. With Paperback, we finally have a Pinboard Read Later client focused purely on the reading experience.

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Consider broadband’s contribution to music. Without it, we’d all be stuck in our pre-Napster bubbles, unable to hear any harmonies on demand other than those we owned; no wonder music TV shows did so well back then. Without broadband, “iTunes” would just be a weird way of describing your CD collection. And without broadband, we’d still be sharing our playlists on tape. Nowadays, we can access virtually any piece of music ever recorded, and instantaneously share our latest audio discoveries with our friends. Thank you, broadband.

However, despite being spoilt for listening choice, we now have 2013 problems to deal with. Streamed music is a highly fragmented marketplace, and if you are trying to build a cloud-based library, it is unlikely that every track you’ll ever want will be on Spotify, or Rdio, alone. As a result, playing your internet-derived library may require a haphazard tour around the likes of YouTube and SoundCloud, just to get the sounds you’re after. That’s just silly.

The makers of the beta, music curation platform, Cumulus.fm, want to make the musical site-hopping game a thing of the past. But is a slick, cross-service, music library really achievable?

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As a longtime user and huge fan of Rdio, I was thrilled to hear about its new free service to combat iTunes Radio and Pandora (along with many other services). But I had a lot of questions about the new service, and nobody was answering them for me in a clear or concise way.

A lot of us at AppStorm are fans of the service too, so pitching the idea seemed natural. For us, Rdio is a way we find new music all the time. Understanding how it works for new users with an unpaid subscription is important to us, because we really want our friends on the service. (Say what you will, but I think its social features are top-notch.) Read on to find out what you need to know about Rdio’s free subscription tier.

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In the digital lives of today, chronology is everything. Our experiences are mapped out via timelines, and every turn of events is a narrative without a beginning or an end. This is a change of culture which has mostly been brought about by the concurrent social and mobile revolutions. Together, they have supplied us with the platforms and the technologies to make both real-time updates, and later access to them, a reality.

This functionality, of course, opens up the possibility of constructing compelling stories from real-life events. Sadly, the selection of elegant, reader-friendly tools with which we can deliver our reports is painfully limited. Social networks are nothing better than pragmatic, and the structure of a blog is not inherently suited to multimedia.

Hence, I’m very interested in trying Line. It is a new platform dedicated entirely to the creation of multimedia-rich timelines, and their subsequent presentation in a beautifully minimal, Medium-like design. But can it really provide the format that digital storytelling has been crying out for?

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One of the great things that the web has brought us is the ability to find and create content for people to read. With blog services, magazine curation, and other social media apps, the web has given the average person the ability to create something of quality, using just the web. Before, you had to work for a company that would provide you with the tools to create good quality on the web or really know how to use the web tools, whereas now, just about anyone can do this.

Take for example Flipboard, who has come on to become a solid application for both reading and now curating content for others. When they first started out, they came onto the scene with a solid iPad app to consume your RSS feeds and other news that you wanted to know about. Slowly over time, they opened up a new side of their business by not only letting the average user consume content, but gave them the ability to curate it as well.

Now, they have opened this up even further to expand to the web, which has now created an application that can be used by many more people. Let’s take a look at Flipboard for the Web and see how this can be used in a variety of different ways.

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Six months ago, Instagram was valued at $1 Billion when they were bought out by Facebook, an amount thought absurd by most. Shortly thereafter came huge changes to their Terms of Service, explicitly stating that they could store and sell any photos uploaded to the site. Users were angry – and rightly so.

The online stock photography market is worth $5 billion each year – and commission photography worth $12 billion. So I guess you can see why Facebook and Instagram wanted to cash in, especially as neither had decent revenue streams. They’ve since changed their terms of service back, for the most part, but the reputation damage was already done.

Now, a new kid on the block is becoming more and more popular – EyeEm. It’s a German “visual search engine” and social network for photographs. The new contender is far from ready for prime-time, and is much smaller than the mighty dominant Facebook. But on the Internet, it’s users’ clicks that matter, and they’re flocking to the new service. Could it be the next Instagram?

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Music may have been around since the dawn of time, when our ancestors were banging sticks together, but it took Napster breaking all of the rules to make music big on the internet. Since then, services have been appearing left and right, all promising to give you the moon…or at least any song you wish to hear. The RIAA may not yet be fully comfortable with all of this, but technology moves forward and the recording industry, despite its best efforts, cannot stop the future from happening.

But, along the way, we’ve lost a lot of the freedom in finding new music, and somehow YouTube — a video site — has become the best place to find music for free. There’s tons of great music focused services today, from Pandora and Google Play All Access to Xbox Music and iTunes, but none are free. Even the old fashioned radio was better than this, if you simply wanted to find new music for free.

That’s exactly why you need to check out Earbits.

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RSS seems to be a seriously hot technology again. In recent weeks, there has been an extraordinary deluge of apps being released in response to Google Reader’s shutdown. Some of these are trying to tempt prospective users by offering innovative extra features, but many are happy to provide a clone-like experience. There are, however, some apps which have built on Reader’s foundations, but have added their own refinement, particularly in the direction of minimalist design, Digg and AOL being prime examples.

A new invite beta service named MnmlRdr, which has somewhat stayed under the radar thus far, is a promising new entry in this last category. I’m trying to find out whether it is an undiscovered gem, or whether it should be left in the shade. (more…)

Since Google Reader saw its end last week, many of us have been searching for a new reader application. The nice part about this is that it has given us the chance to find something that could be better than Google Reader. Not only that, but it has made developers create some great Reader applications. Although I have settled on using Feedly myself, I found another interesting app that does things a little different than most of the replacements that are out there. I was able to take Newsle out for a test spin to see how it would work for me and I was very intrigued by it and how it worked.

Newsle takes a somewhat different approach to reading news in that it doesn’t use your RSS feeds to get articles to read. Instead it relies on your friends and other important figures to give you the news. It took me a little getting used to, but I can see how it could possibly meet a need for people. Let’s take a look at it more to see if could possibly work for you.

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Advertising on the web isn’t the domain of the biggest players anymore — it’s now the place the rest of us advertise stuff as well. With the web making it easy to let other people know about events, things you want to sell, as well as other ways to advertise whatever it may be, there are a handful of different web apps that can be used for these purposes. You have sites like Evite, Facebook, Craigslist, and more that make it really easy for you to advertise whatever you want, whenever you want. Their purpose is to make it simple for you to get your message out to the world, but the area where they tend to lack is the design of your advertisement. Either you have no control over it or there are no options for you to design your own advertisement to attract more people.

That is why a web app that I am reviewing today caught my attention when I came across their site. I was actually looking for a fun way to advertise our 4th of July BBQ that we are having. I immediately went to Facebook, then I stopped myself, and thought that there had to be a better way to do this. So I was able to put Smore through its paces and found it a lot of fun to use.

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