Currency – A precisely designed currency converter app for iPhone

Currency - A precisely designed currency converter app for iPhone

Currency - A precisely designed currency converter app for iPhone

Converting currency in foreign countries can be tricky and frustrating. Conversion rates can shift quickly, it can be embarrassing figuring out numbers in your head, and you don’t want to get fleeced by a local merchant who can tell you’re not certain. Well, Alex Penny and Matt Davenport may have come up with the best solution for these dilemmas.

They’ve created a brand new app called Currency for iOS which quickly converts over 160 different currencies. Currency converting apps are far from new, but up until now I’ve never seen one as polished as this. Everything has been considered: the fonts, the color scheme, the custom flag icons (inspired by nautical flags) and most important in my mind, the touch gestures. You enter a value, check the conversion rate, and when you’re done, you can swipe the numbers to the right which feels like you’re smashing them into a wall, which is how you clear the field. And if you didn’t mean to erase the value you simply swipe the field to the left and “resurrect” it. Effects like this just make the overall experience that much more enjoyable and Alex and Matt have nailed it. Watch the video below and you’ll totally see what I mean.

If you travel frequently (or are simply going on vacation abroad) and give a damn what your apps look and feel like, Currency is probably for you. You can get in the App Store by clicking here.

April 16, 2013 / By

SOLAR App Giveaway

SOLAR App for iPhone

The awesome folks at SOLAR, my personal go-to app for weather, have given me some promotional codes to give away to 5 clever readers. If you’re unfamiliar with SOLAR I suggest you check it out through that link and watch their ad. On a side note, I’m not being paid for this, I really do use the app, and I thought it would be cool to give readers something for free. Cool?

To win a promo code you need to tell me what your favorite kind of weather is and why. The more clever and funny your why answer is the better chance you have of winning. You can tell me in two different ways:

1) Tweet your reason with the hashtag #tfibSOLAR.
2) Write on the TFIB Facebook post by clicking here.

Here are the winners:

“I love waking up to fog on spring camping trips on the AT. Makes it looks like a scene from a horror film.” – Jordy Tropp

“I love the crisp, cool air of the ozarks in the fall, with a fog rising from the shade of the valleys like steam from my cup of coffee. Being from Louisiana, where the fall is hot as hell and twice as humid, I only discovered this pleasure as a man well into my twenties.” – Rob Moffett

“Not too fucking hot, not too fucking freezing. Plz gimme app” – Bárbara Astrini-Currie

February 28, 2013 / By

The Mailbox App: Hype doesn’t help me manage my inbox more effectively

Mailbox App - All hype?

There’s a brand new nightclub in town, you’ve heard rave reviews, but the line to get in stretches around the block and it seems like you have no chance of getting in. This is the best way I can describe what’s currently happening with the new app simply titled Mailbox. In an effort to build “a buzz” and “go viral” they’ve brought the skeumorphic concept of waiting in line to the digital front. And it’s slightly obnoxious.

Continue reading this post…

February 8, 2013 / By

Zonebox: A smart way to focus on your work

Zonebox: A smart way to focus on your work

Zonebox: A smart way to focus on your work

Having a full-time job and running a design blog at the same time can be difficult, and a lot of time distractions are the biggest hinderance to productivity. Lately I’ve been using this helpful little app called Zonebox, which as you can imagine helps you zone in on the work you need to be doing.

The interface is simple and easy. You add a task and then click Zone In. From there you can add or subtract time as needed. What’s really helpful though is that when you minimize the app you get a subtle purple line at the bottom which slowly fills up as your allotted time passes. I’ve found that it helps me keep track of just how much time is passing by as I complete tasks and focus on what I’m doing. If I know I have 15 minutes to write a blog post I should probably stop scrolling around on Designspiration.

Best of all it’s free so there’s really nothing to lose. You can download it here and try it for your self.

February 4, 2013 / By

Vine – A New Mobile App That Let’s You Create Short Looping Videos

Vine - A Video Sharing App

Earlier this morning Twitter launched a new app called Vine, which in my opinion is Twitter’s response to Instagram. Instead of photos though, they allow you to capture snippets of video, making these short looping videos that you can share with the world (or just your friends). Here’s a succinct description from the Twitter blog.

Today, we’re introducing Vine: a mobile service that lets you capture and share short looping videos. Like Tweets, the brevity of videos on Vine (6 seconds or less) inspires creativity. Now that you can easily capture motion and sound, we look forward to seeing what you create.

I can say that I’ve made one Vine so far (you can see it here), and that it was super easy. The UI is intuitive, you simply hold to record, and then keep going until the max time is reached. Pretty easy. The finish screen feels exactly like Instagram, which is slightly funny to me but also kind of a rip-off. It’ll be interesting to see if this catches on, there’s really no way to know. I’m going to try and continue using it for the next week. It’s certainly a concept that’s been around for a while, but I don’t know if it’s been this easy to use before. Time will tell!

January 24, 2013 / By

Are Ads Coming To Instagram? Maybe.

Instagram Ads

My buddy Jon sent me this article from Business Insider stating that ads are coming to Instagram, but I’m still not sure I agree. Here’s what ad sales chief Carolyn Everson said about the issue.

BI: Will you put ads in Instagram?

CE: Eventually we’ll figure out a way to monetize Instagram.

BI: How far are you away from figuring that out?

CE: Well, Instagram continues to grow incredibly fast and we’re still a very small team when you think about the amount of people they are reaching. There are many brands that use Instagram right now to try to get a feel for how to engage with their followers. We will definitely be figuring out a monetization strategy. When that will happen, I can’t comment, but it’s going to happen.

This to me doesn’t sound exactly like “ads” per se, but trying to come up with interesting ways of monetizing Instagram streams. Notice she mentions in particular that many brands use Instagram. Here’s a couple of ideas that I think they could go with.

Sponsored Photos
Taking a page from Twitter, you’d see a photo from Target or Red Bull in your stream, even if you don’t follow them. They get their brand in front of you, pushing an even or promotion.

Brand Filters
You’re scrolling through filters when suddenly come across a Gucci filter, which makes your photos golden and shining, or Mountain Dew which makes your photos dark and gritty with a hint of green.

Popular Page Gets Sponsored
We all know the Popular page of Intagram is a wasteland of tween self portraits, sparkly nails, cat photos, and of course, One Direction photos that were taken from the Internet. Would anyone even care if this entire section was sponsored? At least the photos could be better looking.

Would I be happy about any of these? Nope. But I think it’s interesting to think of what they might be thinking. I’m personally split over the idea of ads in Instagram. Half of me wants to say “Fuck them!” they can’t put ads in, how dare they! THe other half of me says “Well they have to make a profit somehow.” For the last couple years this service has been completely free. Running a business and not making any money is pretty stupid. Either way it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

December 13, 2012 / By

Instagram Profiles – The First Good Digital Scrapbook

Instagram Profiles - The First Good Digital Scrapbook

The other day I was trying to think up a tweet that would best sum up my feelings about Instagram. Unfortunately 140 characters just wasn’t enough for the ideas I had in my head, so I figured I’d write in a bit more depth, especially with the arrival of the new Instagram profiles.

It’s hard to believe that Instagram is only 2 years old. It’s occurred to me that your Instagram feed is a digital scrapbook that can be shared with others. Having the ability to look back through a collection of photos brings back memories for yourself and informs other people of what your life is like, whether they know you or not. Surprisingly there’s never been a service that’s been able to hit the nail on the head quite like this.

I think there might be two reasons for this: Social and Filters. The social part of the equation instills a sense of obligation. Most people aren’t going to post a ton of shitty snapshots onto their Instagram like they might on their Facebook. The filters part is a step in the upload process that makes you stop and consider if what you’re about to upload is worth a damn. This ties back into the idea of social obligations. In the end you have people sharing less mundane photos in order to produce a semblance of what they feel their life is.

With the release of Instagram profiles you can now share your feed with anyone. You can see mine above or click here to view it on the web. I think this is extremely helpful when it comes to people like my mom, who may not want to actively take photos on Instagram. This gives her a peek into what I’m doing, just like a scrapbook might.

The design is clean and straightforward, with a bit of interactivity in the hero area where the images fade in and out. I do think it’s weird that the area at the top is your most recent photos, especially when you scroll down and see them again. Wouldn’t it be better to have randomized photo in the hero area? The idea of seeing an old photo I’d taken would be great. I’m also not sure why they put divider lines between each row, it’s not like these are collected any other way than chronologically.

Overall I think the Instagram team really nailed he profiles and I’m looking forward to seeing how they evolve in time. Hopefully Facebook stays out of the mix.

November 8, 2012 / By

Solar: A perfect weather app for visually oriented people

Solar: A perfect weather app for visually oriented people

Solar: A perfect weather app for visually oriented people

For the last couple weeks I’ve been using this new weather app called Solar from Hollr, Inc. As weather apps go, I have to say that this might be the perfect weather app for me.

Solar is a hyper-sensorial, interactive display of the day’s weather, rendered in dazzling, Rothko-esque colorscapes. A graphicist’s dream. No vector polygons, no dew point calibration and it won’t remind you to wear a jacket. It is, very simply, an exquisitely designed weather forecast app – a modern accessory for the aesthetically-inspired, new-fashioned adventurer.

Ok, that’s kind of a fluffy, hype-driven PR snippet, but it’s mostly true. What you get with Solar is what I’m guessing most people really are looking for in a weather app. You’ve got the time, the date, the conditions, your temperature and location, just so you know it’s accurate. All of this info is laid out in white over a beautiful gradient which does different things. Today in Los Angeles it’s really sun, so the gradient is pulsing sun rays. For rain and other weather conditions the app responds appropriately, rain drops and lightning flashes in full effect.

They’ve also created a really unique gesture, where you drag your finger up towards the top of your screen and you’ll start to get a 24 hour forecast, minute by minute, hour by hour. It’s such a brilliant way of communicating the data on a touch screen, I’m sure the feature will be copied soon enough. Trust me on this one, ditch your overly complicated weather app and grab Solar.

July 30, 2012 / By