22 Nov

Home screen apps

Homescreen
Homescreen

My android screenshot: The apps I use most

Take a look at your home screen and check out the app shortcuts you have on there. Are they your favourites/most used? I tend to update mine regularly, and switch them around to fit in with whatever wallpaper I happen to have that month.

MyFitnessPal during a health kick, Candy Crush Saga (see app review) during a particularly slow week, but there are a few that stick.

Facebook being one of them. Everybody has Facebook on their phone. How would you ever know how great your old schoolmate’s life is now without it? Check out this great list of statuses everybody writes and everybody hates on Mashable.

Twitter is another of those stay-forever apps. There is a lot of great content linked on Twitter, even if you have to sift through all the rubbish first. I’ve found some great resources on Twitter that would never be on the top pages of a Google search. Although there isn’t a better starting point than Google, which is why that stays on my home screen too.

How did people survive pre-search-engine? I remember a time, back when I was a very young girl, when I would ask my mum the spelling or definition of a new word and we would run off to the bookshelf and look it up in a dictionary. Now, anything you want to know, Google it. The internet: simultaneously making knowledge more accessible and people more lazy. Don’t even get me started on txt spk.

The BBC News app is a regular. I like to keep up-to-date with current affairs. I like to know what’s going on in the world, and the app is brilliantly simple to use.

As for Instagram, I’ve rather lost interest in it lately. This one might not last much longer on the list of usuals. It is primarily pictures of people’s dinners, people on exercise machines, posing in bathroom mirrors and “look at my new lipstick/dog/sofa”. All stuff that is interesting to the person taking the photograph, and of little/no interest to anyone else. There’s a great list on Buzzfeed illustrated by artist Joanna Zhou about the types of Instagram photos.

I also keep O2 Priority Moments on there, not because I use it a lot but just to remind me to check it. I would hate to think I was missing out on a free coffee. It takes a ridiculous amount of time to load though, and sometimes I lose interest before I’ve even made it past the loading screen.

What apps do you keep on your home screen? What is your favourite? Leave your comments below.

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20 Nov

I hate love hate Candy Crush

I’ve been addicted to this app, Candy Crush Saga, since its 2012 release. Originally a Facebook game, it is theraputic as well as frustrating. King has done a good job of keeping me hooked, but I hate it too. I’ve spent too long shuffling little sweetie icons around my phone but somehow I can’t stop!

Candy Crush Saga for Android Screenshot

Candy Crush Saga screenshot

I only have two rules.

  1. Never ever post anything to Facebook (a great way to annoy your buddies).
  2. Never pay for any upgrades. I say this because where is the fun and sense of triumph in just paying your way through the game? It’s possible, no matter how many weeks/months it takes to complete that one level… and a lot of people have been caught out spending a little here and there, to find they end up with a bill that could have paid for their groceries that month.

I would advise not to even download this app unless you spend most of your days looking for things to fill your time with. I wish I hadn’t. I’m now stuck in an endless cycle of brightly coloured sweets. At the time of writing, I’m on level 320 and I would hate to find out how much time I’ve spent on the thing. It’s brilliant though. It’s so addictive and it is cleverly designed to give you a little victory just at the moment you are about to give up. The little animations in-between games are delightful and the whole app looks and works fabulously.

Try it, or don’t, but I can’t be held responsible for any time lost by downloading this app.

Someone actually made these. Stud earrings available from beadhappy08 on Etsy.co.uk

Someone actually made these. Candy Crush stud earrings available from beadhappy08 on Etsy.co.uk

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11 Nov

Bitten by the Bitstrips bug

Bitstrips example

Bitstrips exampleThe recently trending app Bitstrips definitely fits into the apps for fun category, for a while, and I would recommend a little play around with it just to make your daily Facebook statuses a little less dull. Until everyone has gotten bored of you posting whimsical cartoons about your life and have started posting statuses asking you to stop.

After opening up the app for the first time, you’re required to make an avatar for yourself, and possibly for your loved ones if you wish them to ‘feature’ in your scenes. There’s a fair bit of choice, and you can get your avatar to look somewhat like yourself, which is part of the fun really. Think Sims in cartoon form. And with a lot less control past this stage.

You will then get presented with a series of cartoon images featuring your avatar and, if you chose this option, your co-star. You can edit them by adding speech-bubbles and changing the humorous captions. Then you can share them in a number of different ways (20 times a day if you want to annoy a colleague you dislike).

I would recommend an ‘install’ on the basis that it gives some short-term pleasure. Just, please, don’t get carried away with this one.

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05 Nov

Draw by your finger shapes art: App review

SC20131104-234425
Mobile Plasma has released this app for drawing with your finger. It is a good idea, with a terrible execution. I created one image that looked… interesting and that was it. The app is very limited, and the advertising is ridiculous, bordering on the unbearable.

It has received an average of 3.4 stars on Google Play – which I think is rather generous really.

This isn’t one for artists. It keeps you amused for almost 10 seconds. A quick uninstall leaves me peacefully ad-free and all the happier for it.

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02 Oct

My recent and long-awaited leap into “Mac land”

I have always been a Windows gal. Until very recently, I just didn’t fuss over Apple like the rest of the world, it seems. I have owned the same iPod for years. It was definitely one of the first generations. Despite the masses going crazy for the next model, I held onto my clunky, old 30Gb video iPod because it still functioned. It did have a tendency to switch itself off regularly, and had trouble turning back on, but sometimes it still played music if it was in a good mood.

It was only a few months ago, when there was absolutely no signs of life even after charging for what felt like an eternity, I invested in another. Shuffle, this time – cheap and cheerful and perfect for the gym, I find.

My phone is Android. I have a Samsung Galaxy S2, which I guess is now considered old and out-of-date too, although I am reluctant to upgrade just yet, as if even after two years I haven’t quite finished with this one. Sure, the battery doesn’t last as long as it used to (a daily charge is now a necessity) and every now and then it freezes as if I’ve asked too much of its ageing processor.

Apple vs Android

For someone who loves technology, I am rather reluctant to give up my old equipment in favour of new devices with even more pixels and automatic functions. Maybe because my old phone, that I have spent so many hours browsing on, playing games on (damn you, Candy Crush) and maybe the odd minute actually talking on has become so much a part of my life. It’s funny how leaving my phone at home for just a day feels like I’ve left behind a limb. I’ve become quite attached.

So there was an event that caused me to invest in a Macbook. My laptop battery needed replacing, it became too cluttered and hideous and mistreated by me to even know where to start. It was a horrible thing. I can see that now, now that I have my Macbook to console me on it’s sudden death. I had no choice but to let it go.

What really made me decide to go Apple though, apart from peering over jealously at my husband’s Macbook every day, and pretending I didn’t want to touch it, was beginning a Digital Media degree. I’ve been waiting to return to university, and now is the right time to invest in some tech capable of me throwing a lot at it and not crumbling under the pressure. My Macbook Pro is perfect for my use, and what’s more, it’s so pretty I want to die. Using it feels nice. For someone committing to spending a huge amount of time in front of a screen, it might as well be a lovely screen that you enjoy looking at.

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