Author: Shaila Lias

Important Update: Graduation and Things

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Hi all. I am writing this from the library, where I will be spending much of the next week and a half. It is time for finals. It also happens to be my last set of exams because I am graduating soon. *jumps with joy* Because of that I will unfortunately not be writing about any new apps until afterwards. Then I will be back with plenty of updates. Thanks for reading. I can’t wait to review many more free apps. Stay tuned!

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Flickr Update Mimics Instagram on iOS and Android

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Flickr users already taking advantage of the free terabyte of storage, are in for another treat. Flickr has just released an entire revamp of their iOS and Android apps. The interface feels reminiscent of Instagram, but still retains its own unique feel. It makes browsing and adding photos an easy task. Swiping between each view feels snappy, adding photos is easy and there are plenty of filters to choose from. Here is the full list of new features:

– Capture everything: Take stunning photos and videos. We make it easy.
– Save it all: All your pictures in one place. Take them everywhere.
– Advanced editing: Gorgeous filters. Powerful editing tools. All for free.

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Download on Play Store | App Store

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Klout rebrands itself with iOS 7 update

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Most people only think of Klout when referring to their Klout score. For those not familiar, it is a service that gives you a score based on how influential you are at using social media. While this was how the company made a name for themselves, Klout is now trying to rebrand itself into a social media scheduling tool.

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In the iOS app, you can now create your own updates or choose articles from your selected topics to share. You can also edit your favorite topics from within the app. There are an enormous number of topics, so whatever your speciality is, you will likely find it.

After creating content, you can view what you have scheduled. This is where Klout is trying to expand its capabilities. In doing so, it has become a great competitor to Buffer. One of my complaints about Buffer was that you cannot personalize recommended content, and this is really where Klout shines now.

Unfortunately, Klout is widely associated with being for your Klout score, and this is no longer a large part of the app. You can view your score, but you can no longer see your history. I wish they had expanded it, so you can see more data, rather than less. Ideally, Klout should use its strengths and add to them. Instead they merely replaced their previous strength with a new one.

Bottom Line

Klout for iOS 7 is no longer about your score, but excels in helping you find unique content to schedule and share.

Download Klout

Note: Android app coming soon.

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Buffer Updated for iOS 7

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While Android users were busy today with the Mailbox release, iOS users had their own app to get excited about. Buffer just received a much needed facelift for iOS 7. The app is a refreshing change with several new features:

  • – Added content suggestions & contributions
  • – Updated schedule editor
  • – Invite team members from iPhone
  • – Re-buffer available from analytics view

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The new compose screen is now very similar to that of the web app. You are given options to compose a new message or choose from the suggestions. Unfortunately, both the website and app do not off specialized suggestions. They feel useless when they are not a topic I specialize in. I wish I had the option to choose from a selection of topics.

That aside, Buffer now looks like it belongs in iOS 7 and no longer feels dated. You can easily compose messages or view analytics for previous messages. Editing your posting schedule is also a breeze.

Download Buffer

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Mailbox App is finally available for Android

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Today Dropbox (finally) released Mailbox for Android. It has grown wildly popular on iOS for making inbox-zero easy to achieve.

“We redesigned the inbox to make email light, fast, and mobile-friendly. Quickly swipe messages to your archive or trash and scan entire conversations in a chat-like view. It’s a whole new inbox.”

Design

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Mailbox for Android looks nearly identically to its iOS counterpart, which is a good thing. The app is easy to navigate and, though it was first created for iOS, it feels at home on Android. The design is a bright white, like many apps, so be aware that it does not yet have a night-view.

Features

After first downloading, the app presents you with a tutorial on how to use the app’s gestures to easily delete email, add as a to-do,put in a list or remind you later. To use these, you just long or short swipe to the right or left.

Mailbox_Android_swipe_archive

You can access the emails you saved by swiping from the left. At this menu, you can view your inbox (Mailbox), emails scheduled for later, your lists and your archive. You can also search your entire inbox.

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One of my complaints, which is also a problem in the iOS version, is that you cannot view all of your labels from Gmail. This is because Mailbox is designed merely to reach inbox-zero, but it would be nice to be able to view all of my emails in the app, easily.

With Mailbox for Android, a new feature, not yet available for iOS was introduced. The app will learn which types of emails you often swipe to delete or archive, and it will be able to offer suggestions for action when you open the app.

Usability

The app crashed twice while I was trying to add my email accounts, but I haven’t had any problems since. I am pleased with the fluidity of the app. The gestures work smoothly, just like in the iOS version. For the app’s first version, it works surprisingly well.

Bottom Line

While currently only available for Gmail and iCloud users, Mailbox offers a well-designed alternative to the standard Gmail app on Android.

Download on the Play Store

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Mou is a Mac Markdown Editor for Web Developers

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Description

Mou is called “The missing Markdown editor for web developers.”

Mou_App

I wouldn’t call myself a web developer, but I do enjoy writing in Markdown and always love a good lightweight program. Mou is just that.

Design

The interface is fairly simplistic. You can choose to write with just the editor panel open or both the editor and preview panel. The word count can also be shown. Several themes are included. They can be edited and you can add easily add new themes. These all support adequate syntax highlighting.

Markdown Features

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Back when I first downloaded Mou, a few months ago, I wasn’t very familiar with Markdown. I understood the idea behind it, but wasn’t sure how to write it. Mou helps with this. In the menus, each style is listed. You can also stick to the shortcuts you are probably already familiar with (CMD-B for **bold**, CMD-I for *italics*). By using keyboard shortcuts Mou inserts asterics for markdown, but also supports __underscores__.

My favorite feature is that I can easily copy the Markdown to HTML and paste into WordPress. No need to export, the text just copies to your clipboard. It is ridiculously convenient.

Bottom Line

Mou is a lightweight markdown editor that gets out of your way, so you can write.

Download Mou for Mac

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Create Beautiful, Shareable Slideshows with Haiku Deck

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Description

“Presentations That Inspire. Meet Haiku Deck, a completely new kind of presentation software. We make telling your story simple, beautiful, and fun.”

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Haiku Deck, a web app still in beta, gives users another option for creating presentations. It tries to keep things minimal, with few, but attractive design options available.

Design

Haiku Deck couldn’t be more user-friendly. They really do stick to the idea of keeping things simple and beautiful. Usually I like options, but it is less of an issue when the few choices I do have are good ones. The creation screen is very easy to understand.

introscreen

When you create an account, you are presented with a quick description of each tool and that’s really all you need to get started. While I certainly wouldn’t have minded more font choices, I was still left pleased as far as design goes.

Features

Haiku Deck tries to stay away from feature-overload, instead offering the minimum you need to create good-looking slideshows. At the creation screen you can choose from four different types of slides and one of the several layout types for available for each of them.

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The image tab allows you to search for a photo to be displayed as the slide’s background. You can also use the photo tab to add charts or a solid background. Being able to search within Haiku Deck for photos is convenient, but I had trouble finding just what I was looking for. It is not clear which search engine they are using. I tried searching for weeping angels and expected to see several stills from Doctor Who but I was underwhelmed by the options.

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At this screen you can also add notes to your slides. If you make your slideshow public, these notes are also public, so that is something to keep in mind.

When you have completed your slideshow, you can easily share it on any social network or embed it on a webpage, like the one below. You have the choice to make your presentation private, public or viewable only to those with the link. Presentations, called “decks”, are saved as you go, so returning to your main page allows you to see all of the decks you have worked on.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

You can also browse through many of the public decks on the Haiku Deck homepage. Haiku Deck can also be accessed through the iPad app.

Bottom Line

Haiku Deck is a simple web app that, while still in beta, performs flawlessly. If you do not need an extensive feature-set and just what to make sharable, visually appealing presentations, you should certainly give Haiku Deck a shot.

Visit Haiku Deck

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Google Drive Now Features Add-Ons

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Just last week, Google released a huge update to Google Drive: Add-Ons. When you access a document or spreadsheet in Google Drive, you can now take advantage of this new feature. By clicking the add-on menu, you can choose from gallery.

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There aren’t a large amount of choices available like you would find in the Chrome Web Store for browser extensions, but the choices will surely grow quickly. Here are some of the best add-ons available right now:

Google Docs

Easy Bib

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Instead of going to their website and exporting or copying and pasting your works cited, you can now search for your sources right from Google Docs. After you have collected them, you just click add to document and Easy Bib creates your works cited for you. I tried searching for several books and journals that I have used for research previously. It found my books easily, but I wasn’t able to find all of the journal articles that I needed. This is available for MLA, APA and Chicago Style, so if you use one of those you are in luck, but the rest of you will still have to look for another option.

Thesaurus

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Also useful for writing papers is the Thesaurus add-on. Oftentimes, I can’t quite think of the right word, so I either open the dictionary app on my Mac or go to dictionary.com. Thesaurus eliminates this lengthy process by having the option available within Google Drive. By highlighting a word and clicking Thesaurus from the add-on menu, you will see a list of synonyms pop up.

Lucid Chart

LucidChart

The last add-on for Google Docs that I looked at was Lucid Chart. It is the only one of these add-ons that still forces you to leave Google Docs to do your work. What I liked about the others is that it prevented me from having to leave the document I was working on. The Lucid Chart add-on gives you access to any charts you created on lucidchart.com and lets you add them into your document. You can continue to make edits at Lucid Chart and easily update the chart in your document, but you still have to do all of the editing outside Google Docs. If you use Google Docs and Lucid Chart a lot, this could be quite useful.

Translate

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The Translate add-on uses Google Translate to translate your entire document within Google Docs. You just select the text and click translate. A window pops up to the right with the translation, which is currently only available for English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish.

Google Sheets

Supermetrics

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This is easily the add-on I was most impressed with. It allows you to link the sheet to your Google Analytics, Twitter, Facebook, Adwords, Bing Ads or Youtube account and pull data from it. You can then select the time period and metric you want to look at and it will appear in the sheet. If you use a spreadsheet to analyze your social media accounts, you need this add-on.

Delete Blank Rows

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This is a very simple add-on. It only does one thing, but is immensely useful. You can highlight the entire document or a section of rows and click delete. The add-on will then delete all of the blank rows in that section. It is very useful to have around, rather than deleting several rows manually.

Messenger

Messenger

Messenger allows you to place a chat box on the right side of your document. This is useful for if you do a lot of work collaborating with others. Instead of having to use the built-in comments system or email back and forth, you can keep track of changes, comments and general discussion in one place, right next to your document. It is available for both Google Docs and Google Sheets, but you have to add it to each of them separately.

Bottom Line

The new addition of Add-Ons in Google Drive makes it an even more useful for individuals and groups to work on their documents. They allow you streamline your work by spending more time inside your document instead of having to use multiple websites or tools.

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Phlo Lets You Search Any Site From Your Desktop

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Description

“”Type once, search everywhere.”

search engines

Phlo is a search box on your Mac’s desktop. It has been recently updated and is now free. It comes with the ability to search over 30 popular sites.

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Inky Tries to Fix Your Inbox and Show You What is Relevant

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Description

“Inky, An App for All Your Email. Smart Views, Unified Inbox, Relevance Sorting, Cloud Enabled, and More!”

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Inky tries to solve the problem of email being “broken” by modernizing the way we look at email through unique sorting methods. It is available on both Windows and Mac.

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