Friday, May 31, 2013

Advanced Cartoon Filters

An upcoming version of Afterlens has some very advanced effects. But they are only for the IPhone 5S because of the intense processing required.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Getting Creative

Bill Gates says the key to success is to not mow your own lawn. But what is the point in success if you are too flabby to enjoy it? But he is a big fan of Da Vinci. And that is probably what made Gates great.  Let's see what made Da Vinci so creative.

1. Insatiable curiosity.
2. Willing to learn from mistakes.
3. Tune in to your senses. For example watch the sunset or study the flight of a pair of birds.
4. Embrace mystery, paradox, indeterminate meaning.
5. Find the balance between logic and art. That requires imagination.
6. Cultivate fitness and poise. Yoga is great for this.
7. Understand that all things are connected. Learn to look for that and use it.
9. "Study the science of art" as Da Vinci described it. Do you know what that means?
10. Finally, and this is very important. "Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.” So learn to think for yourself. Shield yourself from propaganda because it will interfere with your creativity. 

Now to apply. Not so easy, but doable. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Is it possible for anyone to compete with Instagram?

Has anyone even tried? Let's look at how Instagram works to see what the developers at Zazado need to do. They are just now building up their photo sharing website.

1. To use the camera app, you must first signup and login to Instagram. However, the Instagram camera itself is not that great.

(conclusion) Build a better Camera App and let people use it without first logging in. Only require login to post photos on

2. The Instagram Profile is set to Public by default. This means anyone can search/explore for your photos. But they only show you your photos and the people you are following unless you use their Explore feature to explore other users that are public. When you are private, people have to get your permission to follow you. I like that.

(conclusion) Respect privacy. Make the users profile Private by default but let them change to public. Basically the reverse of Instagram. Show a users photos and their followers the way Instagram does. Implement a Followers feature similar to Instagram.

3. Instagram has an explore feature but it's kind of difficult to find someone without knowing their userid. But I like the way you can explore and then start following people if you like them or their photos.

(conclusion) Provide an explore feature similar to Instagram for finding people to follow, but provide better search tools.

4. Square Photos on Instagram are kind of their trademark. This is consistent but gets old after a while and limits your Camera App to an almost toy like status.

(conclusion) Provide a square mode feature in the Zazado camera. Show square thumbs in the online gallery and have a normal and square viewing mode for individual photos. 

5. Photo Effects are also a well know selling point for Instagram. But their effects are not live and they are not all that cool.

(conclusion) Provide both live filters and photo editing effects in the Zazado camera app. Also include a full featured photo editor so people don't need to jump out of the app.

6. Instagram will send push notifications to someone when someone likes or comments on one of your photos, when someone mentions you in a comment or when your photo makes the Popular page.

(conclusion) Definitely implement a push feature with these option, but also let a user request push notifications from people they are following. Provide more push options. 

7. There is no way to upload and save original photos without being turned into square photos with reduced quality. Now that is a deficit on Instagram.

(conslusion) Enable uploading of original photos,  kind of like a shoe box online. Also provide a print service for those HQ originals.

8. There are no great slideshow players on Instagram. No cool way to group an event of photos.

(conslusion) Provide some cool players and even let users promote their own causes with their own choice of badges on the players.

9. Instagram has likes and comments, kind of like Facebook. This seems to be a popular feature.

(conclusion) Implement likes and comments on Zazado.

10. Instagram has a photo map feature, but it's kind of clumsy.

(conclusion) Fully evaluate the photo map feature on Instagram and improve upon it on Zazado.

11. The Instagram Gallery is very primitive. There is no multi-select for example.

(conclusion) Follow the lead of better and more advanced photo galleries and include multi-select for things like deleting photos.

12. On Instagram, you can share photos to other sites like facebook. But their camera app only shares links to photos first uploaded to their site.

(conclusion) Provide great social sharing feature for the photos posted on Zazado. But also enable sharing, and emailing of actual photos from within the Camera app. Also provide a way to get the actual url of a photo posted on Zazado.

13. There is no Video on Instagram currently.

(conclusion) At a minimum enable taking videos from the Zazado app and a way to post them on Youtube.

14. Instagram provides limited access to the phones photo gallery. They do not provide mulit-select or editing of photos taken with other apps, just a simple square crop feature.

(conclusion) Provide a robust gallery and photo editing feature for all photos on the phone. People should not have to jump around to different cameras or editing apps. Keep them happy in Zazado.

15. Instagram has a most popular photos and people can receive push notifications of those photos. This is a good idea.

(conclusion) Definitely have most popular photos on Zazado, but provide more options for push notifications. 

16. Like Pinterest? Well what I like is how you can pin or post your favorite links in one place or board. Now that seems like a great idea for a photo sharing site.

(conclusion) Provide users with a way to post there photos and their friend's photos on a wall that can be shared as one link. Not just any wall, this has to have some cool factors along with being easy and convenient.

17. Lets not forget Twitter. After all they tried to buy Instagram. Ok, so posting a link to a photo seems like a good idea and pretty obvious. But why did Twitter buy Vine? Because Vine takes short videos (six seconds) in kind of a cool way, lets you upload them and optionally post a link to the vid on Twitter.

(conclusion) Get creative! Include video recording in the Zazado Camera app. Then get really creative and support live video filters. Next let users create Vine like short clips that can be made with live filters. Let them post them to Zazado and share the link on Twitter. If still filters "like" made Instagram, as their tech guys explain. Then, hey, live Vine type clips with filters should "like" make Zazado. Sorry for poking fun at the Instagram folks. In truth they are, like, brilliant. But so were the folks at Visicalc. They owned the spreadsheet space. Remember Dan Bricklin? He invented the spreadsheet.  Remember Lotus 123? Here's a tough one. Remember Hardrunner? Hardruner helped Lotus beat Visacalc and got stepped on by Lotus. Always better to own the space if you want to remain in control of your own destiny.

18. I just received a Shutterfly Photo Book from my daughter. It was a beautiful book. A treasure.

(conclusion) Enable uploading of original photos to Zazado. Save a copy of the originals without down sizing. Then provide a Shutterfly like Photo Book maker on Zazado.

19. Social networking online from sites like facebook is on the decline, but media sharing is on the rise. Also OTT is surpassing SMS for mobile messaging.

(conclusion) Don't try to compete with Facebook. That is a bad idea for several reasons that I don't need to go into. Make media sharing on mobile a priority. Use the big three. SMS, Push, OTT. Learn, understand and implement OTT.

Do these things and it may be possible to compete with Instagram.  Hey, at least it could be an adventure trying. If I ran the Zazado I know just what I'd do.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Better to develop for Apple or Android?

Having built both an Android Camera App (Say Cheese) and now an IPhone Camera App (Zazado), I am familiar with the pros and cons of both platforms. Google support for Android developers is almost non-existent. No phone support and very limited and specific email support. I've have a broken link to the "Visit Developer's Website" in Google Play for six months now. It's just a simple field in the developer console where you enter metadata but I have no way of reporting this problem. No idea why Google has such bad support for their developers.

Apple, on the other hand, is tough. They have high standards and getting approved for new apps and updates is difficult and time consuming. But they do communicate with their developers. And because there are fewer Apple devices, developing on the IOS platform is much cheaper and easier to test.

But on the other hand, Android is more open. Adding voice recognition to Say Cheese for example took some clever programming, but I was not restricted. Apple keeps that feature to themselves for now at least. So Apple is more of a sandbox environment. But I would recommend starting any mobile development first on IOS.

I guess the trick is to just muddle through all the deficits of each platform in your effort to produce great apps. Don't expect to find the perfect development environment on either platform.

Now look at this Google Stack Overflow issue. Google uses Stack Overflow for some of their developer tech support. No idea why a so called third party is necessary. So I opened this question, and they closed the issue. Then I posted the question again directly from a Google Play link. Closed again by Stack Overflow. Getting developer tech support from Google is a mystery. And it's not like Say Cheese is some unknown app. Notice it is in the 100 to 500 thousand installs category and growing. If I find a great way to get developer help from Google I will definitely post it here on this blog. 

Google Developer Question