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It's been another great year for innovative new apps arriving on Android and IOS and we hope this trend will continue throughout 2017. It's true that there is an app out there for just about anything and even though some are truly more useful that others we have selected a range of the latest and upcoming Android apps for you to enjoy.


FINGERPRINT GESTURES
The good thing about a free app is that whilst it might not end up being exactly what you initially imagined it to be you will always have the ability to give it a try first. Thankfully Fingerprint Gestures is exactly that kind of app and even though it has a few teething problems on certain devices it can allow you to take better control of various smartphone-related tasks.


PHOTOSCAN
This useful little Google app gives you the chance to scan your existing physical photographs and turn it into a digital alternative. As you enter the scan process you can select a number of options that will allow you to edit or enhance the original photo as you see fit. It's pretty simple to use and fantastically helpful if you have stacks and stacks of old photos lying around.


IQ WARS
Quiz lovers will certainly get a kick out of this new generation IQ, trivia and quiz app. It's filled with challenging quizzes and various live tournaments and even gives registered players the chance to win actual prizes. You can compete alongside other players in realtime and it's a great opportunity to show off your general knowledge skills to friends and family.


LEARN HOW TO DRAW
We do love an app that has a title which pretty much explains exactly what it does, at least that way if you're an avid app fan that collects and stores apps all over the place you'll be able to quickly discover what it's used for. This cool app features a whole host of various lessons ranging in levels of difficulty in order to help improve your drawing skills. Each tutorial featured on the app was created especially by well known Irish comic book artist Will Sliney, and there's plenty to pick from.


TRANSFERGO
There are plenty of money-sharing apps out there but TransferGo works a little differently and is ideal for those looking to make international payments or money transfer. No doubt at some point you have probably been stung by an unexpected banking fee relating to either sending or receiving international funds in various currencies. TransferGo eliminates these extortionate rates providing a quick and easy to use service that will let you transfer money across Europe for a mere fraction of the price. As smartphones continue the march of money evolution, this app is a must!


PYRO!
Pyro isn't exactly one of the most practical or useful apps currently around but it strangely satisfying. This augmented reality-based app gives Android owners the chance to watch just about anything around them burn, all virtually of course. Just point your phone's camera at the place, item or person you'd like to see set in flames and start drawing in the burning flames with your finger. 


Image credit: pixabay.com


They say it's not the camera that makes a good photograph-it's the photographer. If you've got some skills when it comes to taking a photo, you'll be able to produce some truly amazing shots with any type of camera.


Even if you were to use the camera on your humble smartphone, you would still get good results.


Cameras on smartphones-particularly the Android smartphones-get better with every new model. Because of this, it really isn't all that difficult to produce some great photos. But while a smartphone camera's capabilities are sufficient enough for your photography needs, having a few extra tools and gadgets at your disposal certainly wouldn't hurt.


Here are a few apps and accessories for your Android smartphone that can help improve your photography:


1. Camera Zoom FX



If you want a camera and photo editing app that gives you a suite of professional features along with some awesome effects and filters for your next Instagram selfie, then this app is for you. A heavy favorite among Android users, this app gets you pretty close to having a smartphone that can work like a DSLR, thanks to powerful features such as full manual controls; RAW capture on supported devices; the option to adjust your ISO, exposure, shutter speed, and focus distance; powerful HD post-processing; and more.


2. Ztylus RV-1 Revolver Lens Attachment and Case



Image Source: Adorama

With DSLR cameras, it's important to use the right lens for your needs-the kit lens can only take you so far. Interchangeable lenses play a crucial role in achieving your desired shot, especially if you're trying to shoot close-ups with very fine detail (macro) or a panoramic landscape shot (wide-angle).


The same principle applies to your smartphone. If you want to achieve better results and get more variety out of your smartphone camera, using attachable lenses is the way to go. For Android phones, the Ztyler RV-1 revolver lens is a great, inexpensive option, as it gives you three lenses in one: a wide angle, a super macro, and an extreme fisheye. It also comes with a polarizer for when you're shooting outdoors in sunny weather.


3. Manual Camera



If you want a simple, no-frills app that offers impressive, full manual camera controls, this is the app for you. It has no cutesy effects, no artsy filters, and none of the other fun add-on features from other camera apps on the market. It simply allows you to take full advantage of Android Lollipop's Camera2 API.


With this app, you'll be able to manually adjust your shutter speed, ISO, white balance, focus distance, and exposure compensation. It also allows you to shoot in RAW format, which is preferred by photographers to make post-processing much easier.



Make sure to run the compatibility test first to see if it will work for you and your device.


4. Snap Camera HDR



Whether you are a professional photographer or a casual user, Snap Camera HD is an extremely useful app for creating great images and videos. In addition to the usual manual controls and the RAW support, it also offers 4K video recording, HDR mode, fast picture mode, and miscellaneous (but pretty useful) features such as the ability to use your phone's Torch mode while recording video in low-light situations.


5. FLY-X3 Plus 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer




Image Source: Adorama


When you're shooting with a smartphone, you're not exactly going to be carrying a tripod everywhere you go. The better solution, therefore, is to use a handheld gimbal stabilizer. This simple, portable, and highly useful device uses a motorized 3-axis powered gimbal to eliminate camera shake and give you the smoothest, most stable video footage and images. This is perfect for action shots or for images that require slower shutter speeds.


6. DSLR Camera Pro



Just as the name suggests, the DSLR Camera Pro is an app that lets you turn your smartphone into a DSLR-or as close as it can get to a DSLR, anyway. Just like Manual Camera, this app keeps it fairly simple by doing away with fancy filters, frames, stickers, and other extra camera effects. It just sticks to manual camera settings. The features include a moveable viewfinder, live histogram, exposure compensation, light metering mode, ISO and white balance adjustment, and more.


7. Luxi Light Meter




Image Source: Extrasensory Devices


Luxi is a great addition to your photography tools and accessories because it turns your smartphone into a professional-quality light meter. Much like the integrated light meter in a DSLR camera, Luxi will help you determine the optimal manual settings to achieve the perfect exposure for your images.


With this device, you take most of the guesswork out of adjusting your smartphone camera's manual settings.


8. Pocket Spotlight



Image Source: Photojojo


When it comes to photography, lighting is key. But what happens when the lighting is virtually nonexistent?


Instead of using your phone's built-in flash to add some light to your images, use an external lighting device like Photojojo's Pocket Spotlight.


Compatible with both iPhone and Android smartphones, this portable device is a continuous light source that plugs into your phone's headphone jack. It produces beautifully even, soft light in three modes: full strength, half strength, and strobe-tastic.


Apart from these apps and accessories, there are many other ways to make the best out of your smartphone's camera. Give them a try and experiment with various apps and add-on accessories to see which ones work best for you and your phone when it comes to creating amazing, professional-quality images!



No-one buys physical music anymore; gone are the days of queuing up outside HMV to get your hands on that freshly released CD. Thankfully, music streaming services have completely changed the way we consume music, and they've changed it for the better. For access to millions of songs on demand, for the price of a single CD each month, there's no wonder it's where the future of music is heading.


Spotify launched back in 2008; it was the first time that you could stream music as opposed to downloading it on this scale. With Spotify, you have access to (almost) any song or artist that your ears desire - including that obscure band you went to see in the back room of a pub last week. Spotify offers both free and paid for subscriptions (although most of the sought-after features are only available on the paid plan) and with 40 million paid subscribers and a further 55 million free subscribers, it is truly the market leader.


"Spotify HQ" (CC BY 2.0) by Sorosh


For seven years, Spotify ruled the roost. In 2015, however, our favourite tech brand wanted in on the action; Apple Music was born. Since its launch, Apple Music has gained 16 million paid subscribers. There's no free subscription available, just a three-month free trial for all users. You might think that this would mean that Spotify has the edge, but Apple Music has soared in its first year, proving to be a true competitor.


"Apple" (CC BY 2.0) by DeclanTM


With two top-notch music streaming services out there, how do you go about working out which one to go for?


How to Pay


You can pay for Spotify via credit or debit card with an online gift card, or add the payment to your monthly phone bill. Apple Music links to your iTunes account so you can pay the same way you do for apps: via credit, debit card, monthly phone bill, online gift cards, or store credit.


Both services offer a wide range of payment options, and if you fancy saving a bit of money, you can actually get your hands on discounted online gift cards for both Spotify and Apple Music. Who doesn't love a bargain?


(Un)available Music


Despite boasting over 30 million tracks, the major albums not available on Spotify are Taylor Swift's 1989, Kanye West's Life of Pablo, Adele's 25, Jay Z's The Blueprint, and even Prince's Purple Rain.


Don't expect to get Apple Music and be able to listen to The Beatles or Prince anytime soon (where can we actually listen to Prince?!). Apple Music does take the lead here though, as most of the music not available isn't on Spotify either.


On The Go Listening


We're always on the go and the last thing we want is to drain our precious data. Both Spotify and Apple Music have mobile apps that allow you to download playlists to listen to offline.


Both services do technically allow you to integrate your own library. Although Spotify's process is a tedious desktop based one whereas Apple Music should integrate with your iTunes library automatically. There are still a couple of known bugs with the integration, but it looks like Apple are in the process of ironing out the creases.

via GIPHY


There are pros and cons for each of the services. Spotify is still the market leader with the number of subscribers and the number of tracks available, but Apple Music is creeping its way up the ladder, getting the big artists on board and pushing the boundaries of online streaming.




"Taking a photo of Christmas tree" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Takashi(aes256)


We can all be guilty of getting into the Christmas spirit a little early. Festive marketing - which usually begins in November - can be a little bit infectious. But Selfridges in London took the cake for overexcitement this year, opening the doors of their Christmas shop on the first day of August - the peak of British summertime.


For regular folk, Christmas usually begins in mid-November, ahead of the last (or second-to-last) wage of the year. You know, the point when questions about trees, markets, presents, John Lewis adverts and Coca-Cola trucks become unavoidable. We're almost at that point once again, so here are a few mobile apps to get you in the mood for Santa's arrival.


NORAD Tracks Santa (iOS, Android)


NORAD, otherwise known as the North American Aerospace Defense Command, is arguably the last organisation on Earth you'd expect to run a regular Santa-tracking service over the festive period. However, the event has been a fixture of Christmas in the States since 1955, when a child tried to call Santa and ended up speaking to Colonel Harry Shoup instead.

'NORAD Tracks Santa' has made the leap from helpline service to a Google Maps-style website over the last few decades. But most modern users will experience Santa's journey on Android or iOS in 2016. The event is incredibly popular, with volunteers fielding 117,000 phone calls from children and nearly 20million people following Santa via the app or website in 2013.


The Elf Adventure Christmas Story (iOS, Android)


Many of the most popular Android and iOS games out there have Christmas themes, such as Doodle Jump Christmas Special or A Christmas Carol by Bitcasino, a slots-style game available here. However, some festive titles are just palette swaps of an original, sticking a woolly hat on a protagonist or swapping a palm tree for a fir tree.

One for the kids, the Elf Adventure Christmas Story is a 24-episode saga and digital advent calendar that revolves around a quest to awaken a sleepy frost giant before Christmas. It's nothing too taxing - each day requires the completion of a task like cleaning a window or putting biscuits in an oven - but it's a fun distraction before school for the little ones.


Secret Santa Tombola (iOS)


Whether it's a pair of socks or a sew-your-own plush cactus, Secret Santa has always been a celebration of the cheapest and weirdest presents on the market. With office-based versions of the game, the likelihood is that you won't know anything about the person you're buying a present for. So why not leave it up to fate?


Secret Santa Tombola is an app with the uncreative and just plain lazy in mind. All you have to do is specify whether the recipient is male or female, set a budget, and choose the type of gift you'd like to see as a suggestion (cute, funny, or cheeky). It's the mobile equivalent of closing your eyes and choosing something at random from the Argos catalogue.


So, there you go; three apps to make Christmas a little easier and a lot more exciting. A good month before Santa pulls on his boots.




To be honest, there are plenty of app tools in the Google Play Store that are extremely useful, but if we had to choose just three for our smartphone, these would be them.


Google Translate (Free)



Google Translate is one of the best things to ever happen to the internet as it almost closes the communication gap completely in between people from different regions of the world. It has support for 103 languages at present, with many more about to be added. The app even supports offline translations for up to 52 languages and includes a conversation mode, so that you can translate while communicating with a person who is speaking in another language! There's also Optical Character Recognition embedded in the app now.


Smart Tools ($2.99)



Smart Tools is a handy little application which includes multiple rulers, a compass, torchlight, measurement tools, unit converter, vibrometer and a mirror. It's almost everything you may need for daily tasks, tucked into one app for easy access.


ParcelTrack ($2.99)



Being an online shopper myself, I really appreciate how easy it is to keep track of all my shipments via this one app. Put in the tracking number and the courier service's name to keep yourself informed about the whereabouts of all your shipments, complete with alerts and timely updates. If you are a seller who ships merchandise to your customers on a regular basis, you will appreciate ParcelTrack even more.

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