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Friday app roundup: GIFs and animation

Welcome to the weekend fellow Vancouverites. If you don’t have anything to keep you entertained this weekend, don’t worry, we have just the thing for you.

This week’s app roundup includes: a classic Nintendo game remade for mobile; an app to help you bring your drawings to life; an app to help teachers keep parents up-to-date on their kid’s classroom progress; and an app to help you create your own GIFs.

App: Super Mario RunSuper Mario Run universal app

OS: Android, iOS

What is it? Not only does Super Mario Run bring the classic Nintendo game to your mobile. It also lets you create your own levels. You can try a couple levels for free, but really you’re going to want to go ahead and purchase the whole game. So run along and rescure the fair Princess Peach from Bowser’s castle.

Best review quote: new kind of Mario game that you can play with one hand. You control Mario by tapping as he constantly runs forward. You time your taps to pull off stylish jumps, midair spins, and wall jumps to gather coins and reach the goal! Super Mario Run can be downloaded for free and after you purchase the game, you will be able to play all the modes with no additional payment required. – Android and Me

Get it now: for your Android or for your iPhone/iPad.

App: Animation Desk ClassicAnimation Desk Classic iOS app

OS: iOS

What is it? iPads have long been touted as excellent ways to produce digital art. Animation Desk Classic takes it one step further and allows you to animate your creations. You can even add your own music to your hand drawn creations. It may not be quite at the professional level, but it is still a handy tool for budding artists.

Best review quote:  Animation Desk Classic lets you create hand-drawn animations. You can choose your frame rate, apply a dynamic background, add music or sound effects, and insert pictures or shapes. You will also enjoy being part of Anizone, which is a YouTube platform for Animation Desk Users to explore and share their creations. Note that some features may require a subscription. App Advice

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad.

App: Class DojoClass Dojo universal app

OS: iOS, Android

What is it? ClassDojo is an app for teachers designed to make it easier to communicate a student’s progress to their parents. As an educator you can share a variety of activities like videos of achievements and photos with parents, so they can see just how their child is doing. You can also set up a portfolio for each kid where they can keep a record of what assignments they’re working on and which ones they’ve completed.

Best review quote: Class Dojo is an app for educators that will transform the way parents and teachers interact. With this app, teachers will be able to contact parents from right within the classroom, sharing photos and videos of achievements, fun activities the kids are doing that day, and important announcements about events and projects. Another awesome feature is that each child has their own schoolwork portfolio where they can add what they are working on and have completed, and their parents have access to this portfolio so that they can stay up to date on exactly what their kids are learning. Not only does Class Dojo bring another element of fun into the classroom and a new way for teachers to connect with parents, but it also allows parents with even the busiest of schedules to keep up with what their children are learning about in school. – TalkAndroid

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad or for your Android.

App: GIF Me!GIF Me! universal app

OS: iOS, Android

What is it? Why take a boring photo when you can create your own animated GIF? This app lets you create your own GIFs or even short videos, without having to upgrade to a newer smartphone. It’s a simple way to add more life to your photos. You can even add filters to your creations. This app makes creating and sharing GIFs a breeze.

Best review quote: Gif Me! is the best way to create and share short video in animated GIF or MP4. It’s easy: capture a small moment with your built-in camera, and share it on social networks. You can apply an image filter, too. – DigitalTrends

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad or for your Android.

Sources: Android and MeApp AdviceTalkAndroidDigitalTrends

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Use these tricks to get more out Slack

Slack is an excellent tool for both work communication and totally ignoring the work you’re supposed to be doing. So you should know these tips to allow yourself to do more with it.slack chat app logo

For instance, did you know that you can customize your emojis on Slack? You can and here’s how open up the main Slack menu on the web and choosing Customize (please note: the options you see here will vary depending on how your team’s account has been set up). You can add customized loading messages from here too.

From that point you just need to add a picture of the emoji you want to add and a shortcut name for it. Keep in mind that any emoji you add will be available to all your team members.

Next up, you need to know how to take advantage of Slack’s inherent searchablity.  To improve your searches, you can use operators to narrow down your searches in Slack (very helpful for those busier channels). For example, type has:star inside the search box to look for all starred messages or try from:username to look for messages from a certain person.

If you need to see all the search operators at your disposal, just type + into the search box, then you can see all the specifications you can add to your search like specific dates and messages with links in them.

Also, if your team’s Slack channel is any good, you probably get too many notifications from the app. Notifications are essentially useless, if your phone is busy buzzing with a new notifications every couple of minutes. So you probably need the ability to ignore Slack notifcations at least some of the time.

When Slack’s Do Not Disturb mode is activated, you won’t get any sounds or notifications on any of your devices, and your co-workers will see a little sleeping symbol at the side of your name.

So click the bell icon (top left) to choose a time duration, or click on Do Not Disturb schedule and you can have it turn on automatically—very useful if you’re in a different time zone to everyone else. You can also activate Do Not Disturb by typing /dnd followed by a time period into the Slack chat field.

You should also know you can set up reminders within the Slack app. Head into your direct message conversation with Slackbot, type /remind into the chat field and then leave some reminder text and a time. You’ll see a confirmation message on screen.

You can also leave reminders for other people and specific channels (just type /remind on its own to see various ways in which you can leave messages). If you want to see all of the reminders that are currently active, type /remind list into the chat field (you can delete them from here too).

Hope this helps you improve your Slack experience.

Sources: FieldGuide

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Friday app roundup: language learning, fake friends and calorie counting

Welcome to the weekend, one that *fingers crossed* includes no filthy, white snow whatsoever. We’re here to discuss our four favourite apps that we’ve seen this week and would recommend to you our readers. We’ve got a little bit of something on this list for everyone.

This week’s app roundup includes: a popular computer language learning program in app form; an intelligent automatic photo editing tool; a fake friend in chatbot form; and a quick and easy way to count your calories.

App: Rosetta StoneRosetta Stone universal app

OS: iOS, Android

What is it? If Duolingo, isn’t your thing for language learning, feel free to try Rosetta Stone. That’s right it’s not just an ancient program you can order from your copy of National Geographic that will arrive on a disk. It can teach you one of 24 languages through hardcore immersion. It even has an offline version, so you can take it off-roading to the country of your choice.

Best review quote: If you have a Rosetta Stone subscription, you can navigate to the menu within the app and select “Extended Learning.” There you’ll find the new tools. Phrasebook provides you with all the need-to-know phrases, like greetings, navigation questions, and more. It’s a nice thing to have on hand if you’re learning a language while you travel. The Audio Companion feature has a library of audio lessons you can listen to you while you drive, cook, or do anything that requires your hands. The lessons can all be downloaded for offline use.

Lastly, the Stories tool lets you read and record stories in the language you’re learning, then get feedback on your pronunciation from Rosetta Stone’s advanced speech-recognition engine that samples your voice with 16,000 data points per second. – Lifehacker

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad or for your Android.

App: MendrMendr iOS app

OS: iOS

What is it? Mendr is photo-editing for people who don’t want to edit their photos themselves. Just submit the photo you want to improve and the app does the editing for you. It’s like a photo-editing is a take out restuarant instead of a meal you make yourself. It’s an image editing app that does the heavy lifting for you, it makes the decisions and then shows you the best possible edited version of the pic you submitted.

Best review quote: Mendr is great for people who are not adept at or have no access to Photoshop, but need professional edits for photos and can spare some bucks to have someone else do the job. Want to remove a photobomber from your otherwise lovely family photo? Need to swap out the background of your kid’s pic? Want to add a friend to a photo taken when she wasn’t around? Need to make promotional images look more enticing for your business? All that and more you can let the pros do for you with Mendr. – AppAdvice

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad.

App: ReplikaReplika iOS app

OS: iOS

What is it? This not at all creepy app, is the best AI friend that you create that learns from interacting with you. It’s kind of like a personal chatbot that masquerades as a human person that is your friend. So if you’re so lonely that you a made up robo-buddy sounds like a reasonable alternative to a live human friend-thing. Just give it a name and start chatting with the false personality that will soon become your bestie. The only downfall of this app is that app’s can’t physically hug you. (Also, don’t let this sympathetic chatbot replace your living, breathing friends.)

Best review quote: Can an app be your friend? The makers of Replika (free, iPhone) think so, promising that Replika’s artificial intelligence “loves you and cares for you.” It asks questions about your preferences, helps you “discover your personality” and “takes friendship to the next level.” Helpful? Or creepy? – MacWorld

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad.

App: Calorie Mama AICalorie Mama AI universal app

OS: iOS, Android

What is it? Calorie counting is a necessary part of dieting, but it’s not easy. This app takes the guesswork out of calorie counting. Just take a picture of your meal and the app will figure out what you’re eating and how many calories it thinks you’ll be ingesting per serving. That’s a pretty powerful tool to put at your fingertips, making it so much easier to try to eat healthy.

Best review quote: Aim the iPhone camera at your meal, take a picture, and the app A) figures out what you’re eating, then B) tells you how many calories you’re consuming per serving. It can recognize fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains, as well as complex dishes. – MacWorld

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad or for your Android.

Sources: LifehackerAppAdvice, MacWorld

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Friday app roundup: Controlling web content and console games

Finally, it’s Friday and finally, the snow seems to be behind us. Even if you do intend to spend all weekend basking in the sun’s warm glow, you try these new apps. This week’s app roundup has everything you need to perform useful tasks or just stave off boredom.

Our top four app picks include: an app to add parental controls to your Nintendo Switch; an RPG set in a unique, exotic locale; an app to speed up Safari by banishing ads and trackers; and a fiendishly difficult, stickman-starring, platformer.

App: Nintendo Switch Parental ControlsNintendo Switch Parental Controls universal app

OS: iOS, Android

What is it? If you’ve picked up the new Nintendo Switch for your kids, this is the app you need. It’s free to download and it enables you to set up a variety of different kinds of parental controls up on your Nintendo Switch. Once it’s been set up on the Nintendo Switch, you can control it all from an app on your phone. You can set up restrictions that limit how much time your kid spends playing each day. Also, you can even make the Nintendo Switch unplayable past a certain time of day, to force your little gamers to get some shut eye. It even goes further allowing you to place limits on the ability to post screenshots to social media or restrict the ability to send or receive messages from any Nintendo Switch user. It’s just a great tool for parents to have!

Best review quote: Nintendo’s basic parental controls include three basic settings. You can set a time limit for how long your child can play Switch every day; you can set a content rating restriction if you don’t want your child playing games above a particular age rating; and you can set a pin to bypass the first two options. Gameplay and content restriction settings offer several extra features if you want to be more detailed, but the initial setup will walk you through basic time and content options. As soon as you save these options, the restrictions are immediately enabled on the Switch as long as it is connected to Wi-Fi. – Android Central

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad or for your Android.

App: RPG Djinn CasterRPG Djinn Caster iOS app

OS: iOS

What is it? This is an RPG set in a fantastical, middle-eastern-like desert setting, where your humble character Elmir is handed a mysterious dagger by a dying man on the run from the army. The dagger holds a secret, within it resides a powerful, ancient Djinn. As Elmir you must battle the creeping doom of an ancient evil. Fair word of warning though, this game does use on-screen analog sticks, but they are very responsive, so that’s a plus. The developer also notes, that it’s possible to play the whole thing without using in-game transactions. It still costs $6.99, though.

Best review quote: Djinn Caster takes place in a setting that isn’t super typical of most RPGs (especially previous Kemco titles), and it’s a breath of fresh air. You’re thrust into a middle-eastern-like desert setting that’s entirely reminiscent of Aladdin, with all the sandstorms, Sultans, and scimitars to boot!

While this may seem like a minor detail, I was very pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t another action RPG that’s set in some ancient, lush Final Fantasy-esque world that has every type of climate you can imagine. We’ve seen far too many of those, that any deviation is welcome. – iMore

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad.

App: Content Control+Content Control+ iOS app

OS: iOS

What is it?  Simply put, this is the app for you if you’re tired of ads disrupting your surfing in the Safari app.  People who’ve used it are often shocked at how fast their iPhone or iPad’s Safari app becomes once it’s been enabled. It turns out blocking ads and content trackers ends up not only speeding up browsing, but also lowering data use and extending battery life.

Best review quote: Tired of wasting data, speed, and battery life on unwanted content? Then install and enable Content Blocker+ today. The process is really simple. Just launch the Settings app, tap on Safari, tap on Content Blockers, and then enable Content Blocker+. There’s nothing left for you to do but enjoy the Web as it was intended. It just works. – AppAdvice

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad.

App: Collect or DieCollect or Die universal app

OS: iOS, Android

What is it? This is a brutally difficult, retro platformer, designed as a cruel science experiment at a run down science centre. You must help your crudely drawn stickman collect every coin in each test chamber, avoiding the traps or watch him die. The game’s designer has added a special note to the description of the game that assures us that, “every death is unique with some unexpected and hilarious results.” Be warned the game is entirely tilt controlled and very addictive.

Best review quote: While its ultra-hard masochistic approach to level design wasn’t particularly innovative, Super Smith Bros’ daring approach to make the game entirely tilt controlled gave Collect or Die a whole new level of challenge that drew parallels to many of the earlier titles on the App Store. – TouchArcade

Get it now: for your iPhone/iPad or for your Android.

Sources: Android CentraliMoreAppAdviceTouchArcade

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