Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Computer Industry is stuck in the 1950s

This article is popular on Medium. I wanted to share this with you on Best Camera.




Rob Adamson

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Apple Restricts Templated Apps for Good or Bad?

  • App Store Review Guidelines for 2018


  • 4.2.6 Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected unless they are submitted directly by the provider of the app’s content. These services should not submit apps on behalf of their clients and should offer tools that let their clients create customized, innovative apps that provide unique customer experiences. Another acceptable option for template providers is to create a single binary to host all client content in an aggregated or “picker” model, for example as a restaurant finder app with separate customized entries or pages for each client restaurant, or as an event app with separate entries for each client event.
At first, all Templated Apps were completely banned. But now, as long as the owner of the App submits the App themselves to the App Store, Apple will accept them. 

This seemed unfair. It felt like eliminating social media websites or something. But in retrospect, this current policy seems to make sense. Websites are not installed. When a user installs an App, they traditionally want to know who owns the App. They expect to know who created the App and who is responsible.

This new policy has no impact on third-party Software Development Kits (SDKs). And third Party Web Services (APIs) are not targeted by Apple. That would be weird because the backbone of Apple's entire global industry is based on the building blocks of SDKs and APIs. 

Also, cross-platform environments like React Native appear safe for now. 

Let us know your thoughts on this policy from Apple. There is definitely food for thought here. 


Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Magic of Detectng Fonts



Let’s look a three Apps for discovering fonts used in Web Pages, Mobile Apps and even in the real world.  *Important, for significant projects be sure you have the appropriate licenses. 



WhatFont is a free App (IOS Only) for discovering the font used on a web page right from your mobile device.

Install WhatFont App from here.

Ok, so why would you want this App? If you develop software or design web pages, this App is valuable. Once you spot fonts on a web page, you can use them in your own designs. Once you know the name of the typeface, you are able to search and license the fonts. This App only works in Safari. No real magic here.



WhatTheFont from MyFonts is free (IOS Only). This App uses your camera or photos and scans for fonts using advanced image recognition. Like magic, this App works on everything from web pages and mobile app interfaces to real-world snapshots.

WhatTheFont finds the closest matches from their own database. From there you can purchase the MyFonts directly from within the App. They also have a forum that you can use to submit fonts that are not recognized.


Adobe Capture from Adobe is free (IOS and Android). Like WhatTheFont from MyFonts, this App also uses the camera to scan for fonts. Besides fonts, it scans for colors, brushes, patterns and more.

Adobe calls the fonts discovery feature Type. This App looks for matching fonts in Adobe's Typekit library where you can purchase directly from the App.





Because all three of these Apps are free,  you could use them all (at least on IOS). You can also compare prices between MyFonts and Adobe for fonts you love and discover.













Thursday, August 23, 2018

App Design Matters


There are over 2 million IOS Apps and 3.8 million Android Apps to choose from. So an excellent App design is critical. 

It only takes 3 taps for a User to delete your App. That happens if the User gets frustrated or has no emotional connection to the App. The bottom line is that users fall for an App because of the design and how easy it is to use. Features and proper coding alone will not sell an App.

Today just a few developers are able to crank out remarkable Apps. But the key for developers is to think like designers. Programmers are famous for brushing aside Design. They care about the beauty of their code and the number of their features. 

Color is critical. Developers need to stop and think like Designers. Designers think about colors and typography. They learn about the emotions of colors.

Josef Albers, a famous painter, and educator came from the German Bauhaus. He wrote Interaction of Color in 1963. This writing has remained the Art Design Bible for designers; a terrific resource. And there is an Interaction of Color app that teaches this stuff. Developers should play with this App and learn to think like a designer. 
The next fundamental of design is typography. How do you select the best fonts for both form and function? How do you choose fonts that work together? The right fonts will make your App or website attractive, easy to read and functional. 



Color Mood

Red sells energy, intensity, love. 








Yellow sells joy, happiness, and intellect. This is an attention-grabbing color. This is a good color for App screenshots in the App stores.


Green sells safety, food, and growth. Use these colors in food and health Apps. 



Blue sells stability, serenity, and trust. Medical Apps use Blue. So to make your App more trustworthy use Blue



Purple sells feminity, royalty and wealth. Money Apps use this color.


To combine colors, grab a color wheel. With the color wheel, you can select adjacent colors that are harmonious or opposite colors that are complimentary. Color wheels are also useful for picking split colors and triadic colors (not a fan). Monochromatic colors are also in use today. All these schemes are possible with a color palette. 

But an even easier approach is to use a coolors.co that builds color schemes based on a primary color. Browse for the scheme that makes the most sense for your App.  Use colors that look and feel good together. Hunt for the best or popular schemes that might work for your App. Another useful website is ColorHunt

One of the most popular color palettes in modern Apps can be found on FlatUIColors. You would be surprised how many Apps use the FlatUIColors.



Typography

With so many fonts, how do you pick the right fonts for your App? Does it matter?



The two most important families of fonts are the Serif and Sans Serif. The image below shows the difference. Serif is an older font and has small feet. They were derived from stone carvings. Sans Serif is better for modern and contemporary. 



Serif fonts are organized into Oldy Style, Transitional, Modern, Slab Serif, Script, and Decorative. 




Slab Serif was developed for newspaper printing because of the poor quality of the old paper. 

Sans Serif fonts

These are the more modern fonts and they are also divided into categories.

News Gothic, Grotesque, Helvetica, Neo-Grotesque, Arial, Humanist and Geometric. 


So why does all this matter? It's about the styling, but it is also about the readability. So let's get to the meat.

The common rules of fonts. 

1. Sarif Heading Fonts with Sans Serif Body Fonts make a good design. You can also go the other way around and still be ok. Just don't combine a Serif Heading with a Serif Body or a Sans Serif Heading with a Sans Serif Body. This is a poor design. 

2. Too many fonts are bad. Try not to exceed three fonts on a page. 

3. Just like colors, fonts sell a mood. So do not mix together different typeface moods. It is confusing to the brain. Keep the fonts that are displayed together in the same time era. 

4. Use font weight (like bold) for contrast. But don't clutter with multiple weights. 

5. Never use these fonts: Comic Sans, Viner, Kristen, Papyrus, Curlz. 

Like colors, there are tools to help you select fonts. Grab WhatFont for Chrome or Firefox. This little browser extension or the App version will let you find out about the fonts you see on web pages. So if you see a website with a beautiful look and easy to read fonts, use WhatFont to find out what those great fonts are. Then use them in your own App or Web. 

A great website that has free fonts for commercial use is Font Squirrel

Another tool for grabbing and testing fonts in your Apps is Sky Fonts. This lets you test drive fronts from many font repositories such as Google, Fonts.Com, Monotype, and MyFonts. 

Thanks for reading. 

Best Camera Apps does not sponsor or derive revenue from any products reviewed or mentioned. 









Saturday, August 18, 2018

MacOS Mojave at a Glance


I just installed MacOS 10.14 Mojave Beta for it's better GPU support.  I was surprised to find some excellent built-in utilities, features, and new Apps.

If you use utilities like FlexyGlass, you will be pleasantly surprised. Here's a list of my favorite discoveries so far.

1. Dark Mode. 
This is probably a knock-off of Windows-10, but I like it because it's just easier to find stuff. Affected areas are window borders, finder, Calendar, Messages, Safari and other Apps written by Apple. Developers will be releasing Apps with this new display feature.

To use Mojave dark mode head to System Preferences -> General and then at the top you will see the Light and Dark options.



2. New Screen Capture
Cmd/Shift/5 brings up a new capture feature that is loaded with options. This screen capture is intuitive. It is similar to the capture on IOS. You will love this. I grabbed the screen above with this new feature.

3. Stacks
My desktop was a cluttered mess. Not anymore. Just right click on your desktop and select Use Stacks. Finally, all your icons are organized. I was happy with the default, but play with this feature. There is organizing by Last Modified, Date Added, Date Modified, Date Created and Tags. Here's a snapshot of my new desktop. I'm running Turicreate at the moment but notice how clean my desktop is. My wife would be proud of me.


4. Improved Finder
There's a new Preview pane that displays all the relevant file information. Within the finder, now you can crop and rotate images. You are even able to generate a PDF file. 

5. Improved Safari Privacy
I notice the App popped up a confirmation box when some social trackers come along. According to the docs, it also prevents tracking you based on your tech footprint. 

6. IOS Apps running on MacOS.
Now, this is intriguing. Apparently, there is a framework for developers to convert their IOS apps to Mac Apps. Apple's own Voice Recorder and News Apps are converts. 

Someone at Best Camera will write an entire article on this new devloper framework for the new MacOS.

Thanks for reading. I hope this helps you get started with Mojave. 



Wednesday, August 15, 2018

React Native at a Glance

I’ve been looking at React Native as a tool for cross-platform mobile app development.


Reactive Native is supported by Facebook. It’s written in Objective-C from Apple.  You code RN in Javascript and JSX. The cool thing about RN is that your Apps are true Native, not web apps or hybrids. It compiles to Native code on both IOS and Android.

My conclusion is that React Native is a pretty good way to have one UI of views and elements that work the same on both IOS and Android. If your App is limited to basic functionality and you have RN components that do what you want, then RN is a good solution. And if your App uses APIs that build server-side content, then take a serious look at RN because it is strong on HTTP and Javascript CRUD.

Let’s dig a little deeper. I’m working at an App that does image AI recognition and style transfers. React Native does not have support for these new technologies on either the Android or IOS side.

But it is possible to build your own Swift and Java Components for React Native. Here's the gotcha. The Swift component will not run on Android, and the Java component will not run on IOS. So you are back to platform-dependent development where RN is lacking.

It is also possible to integrate RN modules into existing Swift and Java Native Apps. That's correct. You can add common RN Views to your existing IOS and Android Apps.

So when deciding on React Native, you need to ask yourself these questions:

1) Should my App start as a React Native App or a Native App?
2) Is React a good time saver for the common UI that I need?
3) How much platform-dependent module code do I need to write for IOS and equivalent Android?

Conclusion:

If you are writing an App without too much high tech platform dependencies, then React Native should work. Or if your App uses a lot of back-end APIs that do most of the work, then RN could be a great solution. But if you have a complex App that uses a ton of non-RN supported code, then you are probably better off building two versions of your App, IOS and Android Native.

by Rob Adamson
Contributing Editor

Monday, August 13, 2018

Making Stuff

While working at Los Alamos on the secret Manhattan Project, Richard Feynman was earning just $380 a month. This was half what he needed to cover his living expenses and his wife’s medical needs. On weekends, Feynman drove to Albuquerque to see his ailing wife in a car borrowed from his friend Klaus Fuchs. 


When asked who at Los Alamos was most likely to be a spy, Fuchs speculated that Feynman, with his safe cracking and frequent trips to Albuquerque, was the culprit. Fuchs later confessed to being a spy for the Soviet Union in 1950. Some speculate that Feynman caught him. I agree. 

But many in the FBI kept records on Feynman. They believed he was a communist spy. 

Feynman could explain complex issues with the gift of metaphors. He eventually became a teacher.  Perhaps the best physics teacher ever. 

On politics Feynman once wrote to his wife “Nobody has ever figured out the cause of government stupidity—and until they do (and find the cure), all ideal plans will fall into quicksand.

As American politicians turn back toward fossil fuels and away from solar, I’m pretty sure I know what Richard Feynman would think. “It isn’t the stuff, but the power to make the stuff, that is important. But I realize now that these people were not in science; they didn’t understand it. They didn’t understand technology."

Here's a good read recommended by Best Camera 

Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman



by Rob Adamson
contributing editor

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Inherit the Wind


So you think the Earth is real? The real question is which of us are players, and which of us is code? This is an excellent video if you dare watch. If you want to inherit the wind.

We finally have the theory of everything. There is no Fermi Paradox if we live in a world of alien creation, but what if we are living in an ancestral simulation created by our future selves?

With billions or unknown numbers of simulations, a sci-fi novel about a real base civilization would require imagination. How did they survive? What is their physics? I’m writing about a base as a sequel to Rainhut. Rainhut was about us living in a simulation. I believe a base must have created a form of quantum computer and then hit singularity before destroying themselves. I'm curious to know where the first came from and how they did it, how they built the first simulation.

Are there endless worlds for the makers to explore? Is there a Gateless Gate, a Mumonkan? 

Is it possible that Simulation Theory will someday be taught in school like evolution is today? 







by Rob Adamson 
contributing editor

Monday, July 23, 2018

Entirely New Art Form

The picture on the right was hanging on my wall. I trained it as a style transfer model and then applied the model to the picture of my daughter on the left. The model was built with TuriCreate and I wrote the software in Swift with CoreML.



Best Camera has asked me to review several Apps that use machine learning and style transfers for this new art form. Some are very creative.

Here is a link to an article I wrote for Apple about TuriCreate.  


Rob Adamson



AI Creative

So you think Artificial Intelligence is incapable of creativity and that it will destroy the Earth? Well, at least we won't be destroyed creatively. On the other hand, what if AI understood the futility of Nuclear Weapons and helped humans evolve? What if it helped us to fly beyond our small rock?



At IBM they are on a quest for AI Creativity.


This movie trailer was created with AI




Sunday, July 8, 2018

Marco Polo

My daughter introduced me to the Marco Polo video walkie talkie App. It’s hillarious. This is a non-interactive video messaging solution.



Marco Polo makes it easy to send selfie video messages. Use it anytime. Make a quick video short. Your recipient contact receives a notification once you’ve started recording your message, They are able to watch you live or watch later.

The App has video filters to make you look cool and voice alteration for funny voice response. I find myself using the helium voice because it makes my kids laugh. To change the video filter, swipe left and right on the screen.

I find this App more convenient than FaceTime. You don’t need direct contact and if you don’t like your message, just redo it. And sometimes it’s easier and faster to send a quick video instead of typing on your mobile. 

Best Camera recommends trying this App

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

About Wattpad by Rob Adamson




Checkout Wattpad. I post articles occasionally here on Best Camera along with other writers, photographers, and coders. I thought it would be fun to tell you about Wattpad. This is a site where writers publish chapters of their books as they finish them. They receive feedback from other writers and readers.

This service is pretty slick. And they have a companion App.

Download the Wattpad App Here

If you are working on a new book or just want to read free stories from creative writers, check out this site.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Apple's New AR Measure Tool

If you write a generic App, you run the risk of Apple or Google competing with you. But if you can take your App and include unique features, you might be Ok. Camera Apps are a good example. Apple and Google have their own default Camera Apps. But there are many Camera Apps that are both better and different. Apple did take the flashlight App idea, and they took the Bump phones together for file sharing idea. Those Apps are now toast.

So the trick is to create an App that is both universal and also unique enough that it would make no sense for Apple or Google to compete with you. These giants will not change their entire business model to compete with a unique App that is not a common tool. Famous last words.

Let's look at Augmented Reality. Currently, 7% of all AR Apps are length measuring Apps. This is according to Sensor Tower, an analytics outfit. We have all these measuring Apps because every tutorial on AR coding includes a measuring example. There's over 2 million downloads of 80 or so measuring Apps.

This brings us to Apple Measure, the new standard in AR measuring. There are competitors like AR MeasureKit. But those could soon become obsolete. So what is so great about Apple Measure? It helps you accurately measure objects or walls and it is free. But it's not available until IOS 12. 







Thursday, June 28, 2018

Tesla the Radio Astronomer

The greatest human inventor in the history of the Earth believed that humans would someday make contact with other worlds. Tesla did not believe that we are alone in the universe. His answer to the Fermi Paradox would have been that we simply have not found them yet. We need better instruments.

He believed that his radio cameras might have picked up signals from other worlds.



If true, Tesla wins the award for the Best Camera App ever. 

Imagine Earth without Tesla’s inventions. His alternating current. Even today, as we move away from burning fossil fuels, our entire future depends on Tesla. Was he in contact Aliens. Did we receive a gift from the stars?




Wednesday, June 27, 2018

MondlyAR


MondlyAR is a fascinating new language learning App that uses speech recognition with AR. It’s designed to supplement your learning experience with interaction from a virtual learning assistant. 




The VR assistant is a character named Mondly, a virtual teacher. She will show you objects, characters, dogs, cats and even planets in your real world. Mondly is an advanced sci-fi language learning experience.

Computerized AR components help you learn words and phrases. It’s remarkable. You get personal conversation and interaction with Mondly, and she has her own speech recognition technology.

Imagine your own AI tutor magically conjuring a bulldog on the street as you walk. Then it teaches you how to pronounce bouledogue in French. It’s fun and it works. A retention guru.








AR Reviews - HP Reveal (formerly Aurasma)


Augmented Reality has endless possibilities. This technology is no longer just for movies. So here at Best Camera, we will spend the next month reviewing the Best AR Apps for 2018.

HP Reveal lets you interact with the world in AR ways, but it also lets you share your Augmented Reality experience. Reveal lets you animate and use interactive digital content on images and videos in physical locations. 

It’s addictive. Switch between reality and the animated world. There’s a step by step wizard to help you create what the developers call Auras for sharing.



Record yourself a video or edit a photo. But then with HP Reveal add 3D characters. Have fun sharing your own creations. And now with HP behind the App, you can print photos, posters, birthday cards and more.


The Reveal mobile app is available on iOS and Android.






Monday, June 25, 2018

Favorite Photographer


My favorite photographer just sent me these photos



Her website is nataliegildersleeve.com

Her Instagram is @nataliegildersleeve


"We return to these pictures, over and over again, because there’s something precious we want to remember...

There — in that look between smiles!
And there — in the ease after the pose.

Often, it’s the fleeting moments between our ideas of how we’re supposed to look or act that we most want to remember."

Natalie Gildersleeve





Saturday, June 23, 2018

Not From Earth

Where Is Everbody?


Most people are familiar with Fermi's Paradox. As the story goes, Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, famous for creating the first nuclear reactor, asked a simple question at a casual lunch in 1950. "Where's Everybody?" That simple question has had extraterrestrial researchers scratching their heads in the decades since.

The numbers don't lie. We are alone in the universe, and yet that is impossible. So let's play a game. Pretend that we are not alone, but compared to most advanced civilizations, we are far behind, millions of years behind. And the reason we can't see all the action is that we are isolated. There is a veil surrounding the Earth. The galaxy wants us to catch up, become civilized and then we are welcome. 

If this is true, then there is a good chance that aliens walk among us. Perhaps there are hybrid humans as well. They could be our guides or simply observers. 

Now let's suppose Artificial Intelligence was able to unmask the veil, or at least help us spot those Aliens among us with advanced machine learning and image recognition. 

This brings us to the Not From Earth mobile App. This App works with Watson and the latest Apple technologies such as CoreML to let us spot those outsiders with our cell phone cameras. Just point and click, and artificial intelligence provides a probability of the subject being Human or Alien. 

Behind the scenes, this App is complicated. But the result is fascinating. It uses Watson, CoreML, Augmented Reality, Visual Recognition, Machine Learning and more. 

We have an advance beta copy of the App. It is scheduled for release in Aug 2018

Here are some of the features we have identified:

1. Use your Camera or Photo Gallary to hunt for aliens. 
2. The App does a pretty good job of identifying all objects, such as Labrador retrievers. So something pretty heavy is going on with this App.  
3. The App only accepts individual profiles. If two people are in the image, it tells you it needs one face only. 
4. It thinks Octopus are a form of alien visitors. Not sure why, but hundreds of scientists believe this could be true based on DNA testing. 
5. There is a video mode that uses augmented reality. You move the camera around and if it spots a face, it will categorize the person as human or alien. 
6. There is an exposure feature that attempts to unmask the Alien with trained style transfer effects. 
7. There is a share feature for posting the results to Facebook or Twitter or just Messaging or emailing the results. 

Does Best Camera believe there are Aliens on Earth? We just review Apps and technology. But the App is kind of addicting and fun. It's a game. Some people are calling it a Pick-Up App because it's so easy to get people's attention. "Are you from Earth?" That alone is a conversation starter and you follow up with the App. 

Follow Best Camera for immediate notification when Not From Earth is available. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Prisma Style Transfers



According to their website, the Prisma App has been installed over 100 million times. This App converts your photos into artwork using styles of famous artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, Levitan, as well as world famous ornaments and patterns. 

They use neural networks and artificial intelligence for creating timeless art from your own photos. I must admit that's pretty cool. But how do they do it? How do they create and release these image effects? And how do they make them work with any image?

My first hint was when they said they use artificial intelligence. Apple loves Prisma. They named Prisma the iPhone 2016 App of the year. And now Apple has released CoreML technology for working for both image recognition as well as image style transfers. CoreML uses this same kind of trained models for image recognition and image to art.  They call this machine learning. 

So where do these models come from? They have to be trained. You can just buy Prisma, but if you are into coding, you need to get your hands on transfer style models. There are technologies like Tensor Flow that can help. There's been a lot of progress in this area lately thanks to graphics processing units (GPUs). This has led to Deep Learning and the complex multi-level neural networks for creating models.

But there are two kinds of models. Those for image recognition and those for image style transfers. It is the style transfers that are used by Apps like Prisma. In order to create style transfer model, an artist or developer needs a style image and a content image. An example of a style image is the famous painting by Vincent van Gogh shown below. A content image is any image you want to start with. Once the model is created, users can transfer the style of any other image, not just the content image.



If you are working with IOS, you will need to convert the model to CoreML. There are various tools for doing this. The bottom line is that creative artists are able to use tools and existing art to create transfer models that are able to change the style of images into a form of art. The new art is similar to the style image used to create the model. What fun! 

I will be reviewing other Apps using AI models for image recognition and style transfer in future reviews. In the mean time, grab Prisma and have some fun. 



Friday, June 15, 2018

The Artificial Intelligence Myth


It makes sense. Are we overusing the name Artificial Intelligence for marketing?





Monday, June 11, 2018

kauai Adventure

I'm back with new blog ideas. I was in Kauai doing research if you can believe that.







Thursday, May 10, 2018

If it works, it works

The funny thing about programming is that if it works, it works and the debate is over. It doesn't matter how smart they are when they tell you it won't work. If it works, it works. But then they will ask if it's scaleable. 






Saturday, May 5, 2018

Best Advice for Programmers Ever. The Dangerous Truth!

I love this article. It is the best advice for skilled programmers I have read in along time. The article makes a great point. It's worth reading

The fantastic truth is that code has become a Sanskrit like language



Saturday, April 21, 2018

No nonsense Free Audio Playback of any Kindle or IBook



"I recently purchased a Kindle book and noticed that Audible offered a free audio version. But eventually I discovered it was not free and they had me signed up for a subscription. You know, those sneaky little leaks that gradually drain your bank account when you are not watching. Buyer Beware!"

I hijacked this article from here: Free Audio Playback of any Kindle or iBook

Here's a quick guide to enabling free, no subscription playback with page turning.

Open Settings and General->Accessibility->Speech->Speak Screen  then Enable Speak Screen. Below on the same screen, you are able to select from voices.  Then use a two finger swipe down from the top within your Kindle or iBook App.




Thursday, April 19, 2018

IBM Watson Loves Apple to the CoreML

ET vs AI
We would love to review this App on Best Camera. 

Here is a good article for anyone interested in Artificial Intelligence, Aliens from other worlds, and fast Image Recognition. Will they provide the code for this App? I read in the article that they are planning to make the entire project open source on GitHub. That would be a great learning tool. And if they submit to the App Store, a good way to get a bunch of installs.

Here is a link for Part 2 of the Article. It looks like there are three parts.

Part 2 - Coding with Watson SDK and CoreML

There's kind of TOC in each article. I would recommend starting with Part 1, or just jump right to he coding with part 2.

Part 1 — Setting up Image Recognition Models in Watson Studio

What's great about this article is the in depth description of how to use some cool technology created with by an IBM/Apple partnership. This is a good read.

Quoting from the article:
The engineers at IBM and Apple have formed an exciting AI joint venture. This article will explain how these two giants have made your life, as a developer, easier and more productive.
The combo of Watson and CoreML has everything from friendly online model training tools to fast onboard image classification. It’s got the stuff we want.