Some of Microsoft’s best apps are, remarkably, made for Apple devices and it seems that the company has come up tops again with its latest endeavour.
Microsoft Pix is a camera app for the iPhone which the company claims will take the editing our of pictures.
The idea being that it will intelligently analyse the scene it sees and make all the adjustments before you’ve even pressed the shutter button.
As such it has almost no buttons, simply the shutter button, a video button and then the option to force the flash on or off.
According to Microsoft the app’s skill comes courtesy of the artificial intelligence that was used to help build it.
While you might wave some of their bravado aside as nothing more than marketing speak there are some genuinely cool features included. For starter the camera knows if what you’re taking is a picture full of movement and so will automatically capture the picture and then turn it into a short looping video which can be shared.
The app also has a rather neat stabilisation effect for video-recording which was stolen from Microsoft’s own Hyperlapse app.
That means you should be able to get beautifully smooth video no whether you’re paddling across a lake or hurtling down a rapids.
That are some downsides however. It can’t take 4K video at 60fps, instead opting for Full-HD at 30fps. It also can’t take panoramas, or slow-motion video so for either of those you’ll need to resort back to Apple’s own camera app.
If a no-nonsense point-and-shoot camera app that does all the heavy-lifting sounds like your cup of tea though then you can download the app now from Apple’s App Store.
Writing is the purest form of creation; using the written word combined to lay the foundations for a picture that the reader will then render in their imagination. In todays world of instant gratification and short attention spans the environment for writing is hard to come by. WriteRoom then is your incubator
, it's your virtual room which takes away every digital distraction and replaces it with a simple, blank canvas. From there you're free to write, ramble and rant to your heart's content. There's a reason that writers use this app, and that's because it only has one agenda: to remove all others.
is the place to go if you're stuck for ideas. With over 35 million members and more than 75 million uploads it's the place to share your stories and read other people's. Get feedback on your work, try out ideas or just browse through the enormous library of writing that's freely available.
The modern composer is no longer constrained to the manuscript paper of old. Lead mountains of notations are now replaced with digital swipes while brief flashes of inspiration can be turned into whole albums thanks to the power of apps. Leading this musical charge is Propellorhead's superb Figure app
. Its minimalist and blocky layout may seem simplistic but devote more than an afternoon and you'll soon realise that this is in fact industry-leading software masterfully condensed into mobile form. Pair it up with the company's companion app Take
which allows you to record snippets of sound and voice and you'll have a song ready to share on Soundcloud in days, not weeks.
22Tracks originally started as a website but thankfully it quickly became clear that people wanted to listen on the go. This is the ultimate app for finding music loved by the industry. Each playlist is just 22 tracks in length. Pick one of four cities and then dive into each genre, curated by an industry-leading artist or producer. A true hidden gem in the gigantic Apple App Store.
If there's one thing we've noticed over the months it's that Instagram has lost its way. The photographer is no longer at the centre of his work, instead it is about seeking approval. Talking to professional photographers however it became clear that an alternative was hiding in the wings, slowly amassing followers. This alternative is called VSCO Cam
. Be warned, its beautiful design is not for the feint hearted but check out the tutorials here
, spend a week using it and you'll soon start taking pictures for your own pleasure, not for the adoration of others. Journal your work into short picture-led blog posts then share them, or alternatively, just leave them for the community to discover.
Pencil by FiftyThree
is the iPad stylus you've been waiting for. The fact that Apple still hasn't made one for iPad yet is something of a minor travesty but for those who want to draw, design and generally get creative this is the closest thing you can get. While it doesn't have the precision of Adobe or Wacom's rival products it's the easiest and most enjoyable to use. It's also beautifully made with a real wood body and surprisingly precise nib.
Behance is the place to go for all things visual. Whether you're looking for inspiration on drawing or want to share some of your finest works it's Adobe's community of artists. Free to join and hard to leave you'll be glad you swapped Facebook for this mosaic of art and photography.
Rosetta Stone might be the industry standard but it can't be with you everywhere. Duolingo can
. It doesn't know what stubborn means so when it bugs you with alerts telling you to keep learning you feel far less inclined to throw the offending article out the nearest window. Learning a language is hard. It's hard and it requires patience, absolute devotion and the kind of attitude that doesn't object to spending hours listening to Italian radio shows. What you get in return though is priceless. You will have become the true renaissance hero.