Monday, August 3, 2015

Apps and Gadgets to Make your Photos look Great!

Yesterday, I took a photo of what I thought to be a beautiful scene where the sun was setting behind an island in Fort Pond Bay, New York. My phone and I obviously have a different view of beauty because what my eye perceived as an array of bright golds, deep reds, and sky blues, my phone mistook for dull colors with a too bright sun blowing out the middle of the picture. 

Fortunately, here at Car-tel Communications we are phone camera fanatics. We've tried all sorts of apps and gadgets to turn our blurry dull photos into the phone camera equivalent of a Van Gogh. Below you will find exactly what you need to not only edit your pictures, but also order photo-prints from your phone, take 3D photos, and create seamless panoramas.


Available: iOS, Android & Windows

Description: Photosynth is an app that allows you to create a full photo 360 experience and share with others. You are able to create albums, follow other Photosynth users, and are able to comment, like and share others photos.  See the world through others eyes. 

How to get started: First download the app from the app store. Once Photosynth is downloaded open the app and login with your Microsoft account. If you don’t have one you are able to create on directly through the app, you then verify the account via email. Once the account has been created and verified you are ready to create a username, be creative the world can see this! You’re then ready to begin to capture the world around you and share it for everyone else to see.

User Experience: 4.5 / 5

This app earned the 4.5 because of its simplicity and what you’re able to view. The set up took five minutes and I was able to immediately start taking photos. The app layout is easy to navigate and there are a good amount of search results that appear when you search for a specific type of photo. The only downfall is the app isn’t used by any of my friends so I am viewing photos strictly from other Photosynth users.

Best Features:

  • Allows you to have a different view. Normally when you are looking at pictures you are able to see just the photo this app allows you to feel like you’re standing in the middle of the street or landscape of the photo
  • Ease of use: taking the photos couldn’t be easier the camera aligns itself so you don’t miss any section of the photo and automatically combines the photos and is ready to be shared immediately


Available: iOS & Android

Description: Magisto is an app that allows you to select photos and video clips from your album and play them to music. The app then creates the video you then have the ability to share the video with through social media, email, text message or on your time line. Magisto also gives you the ability to record a video directly through the app. You are also able to explore other Magisto user video to get inspired to create more of your own.

How to get started: Download the app from the app store. Once downloaded open up the app and create a login you can use an existing login, Facebook or an email address. Once the account is created you simply give the app access to your album and select the photos you want to see in your new Magisto video.

User Experience: 3.5 / 5

I gave Magisto a 3.5 for a few reasons. First I love the creativity that that app offers. It allows you to make videos that are special to you and allows you to share them with others. The ease of the app is great selecting the photos and the music. I would however recommend you try the full version of the app. This allows you more storage space for your videos and allows you to make longer videos rather than the clips that you make with the free version. It can get a little expensive if you aren’t a frequent user at $4.99 a month or $19.99 a year.

Best Features:

  • With a premium subscription ($4.99 a month or $19.99 a year) you can create longer movies, have unlimited cloud storage for all of your movies, and upload up to 30 clips & pictures for your movies.
  • Creates the montage in time with the music and allows videos to play.


Available: Android & iOS

Description: Shutterfly is an app that allows you to order photo-prints, mountable photos, photo-mugs, and more all from the photos you have on your phone. It’s simple and easy to use, ordering is a breeze and prices are cheap.

How to get Started: Download the app from the app-store, open it and allow it a few seconds to access the pictures stored in your phone. After that, simply explore the app to find the perfect photo-gift.

User Experience: 5/5

This app is awesome for those of us who don’t remember anyone’s birthday until the week of. You can quickly find old photos on your phone and order a personalized gift in no time. Shutterfly offers everything from personalized phone and laptop cases to keychains, photo-coasters, and ceramic ornaments.

Best Features:

  • Easy and simple to use
  • Order photos directly from your phone or laptop
  • Large variety of gift options
Available: Android & iOS

Description: Diptic is a photo collage app. It allows you to stitch photos together into murals that you can then post to social media.  

How to get started: First download Diptic from the Google Play or iOS App Store. Open the app and select a collage layout you would like to use. With that selected, you can tap each window to add a photo from your camera roll. Then, adjust the width, angle, and pattern of borders between the images, save, and upoad!

User Experience: 5/5

           Diptic is about as close to flawless a collage app as you can find. Its interface is simple, but deep. Its menus are very easy to understand. And it maintains the resolution of your photos when you save them.

Best Features:

  • Easily create collages to upload to almost any social media platform directly.
  • Choose your resolution to save your collage with.
  • Automatically creates a square collage for instagram.
Available: Android & iOS

Description: Vsco Cam is a camera replacement app. It allows users to take photos while manipulating a variety of variables during shooting, as well as edit photos afterward using the simple interface. 

How to get started: First download VSCO Cam from the App Store. Open the app and allow access to your Camera and Camera Roll. Once you have taken a photo, you can choose to edit it further, or upload it to almost any social media platform.

User Experience: 4/5

          I give this app a 4/5 because it offers an heretofore unseen level of customization and control over your iPhone’s camera. The point loss, however comes from the sometimes obtuse interface, especially to those who have never worked with or edited photos.

Best Features:

  • Adjust where your camera focuses and automatically draws exposure value independent of one another.
  • Use Various filters and editing techniques to customize your image and ready it for social media.

Apps for your Outdoor Life!

We all have been there. You're hiking along, enjoying a beautiful trail when suddenly the trail splits in two different directions. Somehow, you are blanking whether your friend's mother's brother told you to go left or right at the third fork in the trail. One way leads back to civilization, while the other almost certainly leads to impending doom.

Don't worry, we've been there too and found the best apps to get you down the right trail and back to that half melted power bar in the trunk of your car. Whether your trails are out in the boonies, or in famous national parks, here are the best apps we found:

AllTrails - Hiking & Biking
Available: iOS & Android 

Description: Browse through guides for 50,000 trails across North America complete with photos, reviews, and tracks for outdoor activities including everything from hiking and mountain biking to fly-fishing and snowshoeing.

How to get started: First download the app from the app store. Once Alltrails is downloaded open the app and login to your account. If you don’t have one you are able to create on directly through the app, or with your facebook. Once the account has been created search a city or state for local area! It will give you the level for the trail along with user reviews Get directions to the site and start recording. 

User Experience: 4 / 5
This app earned the 4 because of its simplicity and what you’re able to view. If your planning a trip you can look ahead of time at that area. The app layout is easy to navigate and there are a good amount of search results.. The only downfall is the the app no longer tell you if other people are on the trail. Also there are a few places im aware of that do not show up. 

Best Features:
  • You can save trails
  • See pictures of the trails
  • Get reviews of trails
  • Track yourself 

Hiking Tracker Pro
Available:  Android
Description: Hiking Tracker Pro provides you a simple and easy tool to track (record) your hiking trails (routes) and share with your friends. Unlike other similar Apps in Google Play, Hiking Tracker Pro does not require internet data access for most of the functions (except Hiking Trail Map ) as you may not be able to access internet during hiking.

During hiking, you only need to turn on the GPS function of your phone, and you can enjoy tracking and recording your hiking trail details (GPS information) with Hiking Tracker Pro. After hiking, when you can access internet data, you can open the online hiking trail map to view and save a map image. After that, you can view the offline map image any time.

How to get started: Download the app from the app store and start tracking .

User Experience: 5 / 5
Simple and easy to use. Go for a hike and simply start tracking. I like this app because I can keep track of hikes I’ve done, share the map image with friends, and print the map image and add it to a scrapbook.

Best Features:
  • Record Hiking Trail Details
  • Elevation Charts
  • Share Elevation Chart and Hiking Trail Maps with friends 

Available: Android & iOS
Description: Browse over 400 national parks, monuments, seashores, historic sites and more.

Getting Started: Download from the app store and find the national park you are planning on visiting. Once found, hit "Install Detailed Guide." This button will take you back to the app store where you will download a packet specific to that national park. The packet will include maps, trails, and a plethora of other options including nearby restaurants and water fill stations.

Rating: 4.3 out of 5
It’s a great app to plan an adventure to some of the coolest places. You can search by destination type and each destination has a ton of educational information. I was very impressed with the amount of pictures and updates in the app.

Best Features:
  • Digital Passport
  • Earn badges by visiting different locations
  • Destinations are split into categories.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Applications for Outdoor Living

The sales and marketing team at Car-Tel Communications are coming together to bring you applications that will benefit and enhance the usage of your phone to make sure you get the most out of it. We asked our guys who are interested in camping and outdoor living to write up their favorite apps and tell us why they love them so much. We're thrilled that these guys let us use them as guinea pigs and go first in our blog writing challenge. Check our what Ryan, Joel and Nicole all have to say when it comes to their favorite camping app! For more information on apps visit the store nearest you and our application experts will help you make that most out of your phone! Our website has a complete listing of locations!

The KOA app is the novice campers’ guide to success. It is an app that aggregates a list of campsites that you can visit. Using the GPS on your device, you’re able to view many different camp sites based on their distance from you. As you sift through each camp site, there is a brief overview about the location and what closely surrounds it. You can get driving directions, a campground site map, a list of amenities, photos, a list of different campground activities, and local attractions. There are plenty of links providing additional information beyond what is listed within the app.
I found the driving directions to particularly helpful when trying to find which entrance I should use to get to my particular campsite. Having access to the map of the entire campsite was also very convenient for the same reason. We were at large park, so making our way to and from the onsite supply shop was made easier with the included map.
Admittedly, my fiance wasn't quite as excited to spend her time in the great outdoors as I was but I was able to ease her apprehension with the list of amenities within walking distance to us. KOA showed us where Wi-Fi was available, that there was a heated pool, and even a Starbucks! (Okay. so we admittedly weren't exactly roughing it, but again, I’m a novice.) The list of available amenities was also helpful when deciding what we needed to bring with us- there’s nothing like getting into the woods and realizing you didn't bring the essentials! The app also provides you with pictures of the site and its surrounding areas, so it’s nice to see that you’re not going anywhere that looks like an old horror movie set.
Some members of your group may have a hard time just enjoying nature as it is, and that’s okay! The list of activities around the campground can give you a great idea of what you can do, and without the schedule of campground activities, we would have missed some really fun stuff. I found a place nearby using the local attractions link that did gemstone panning, something my Grandfather used to take us to do when we were kids. It was great to be able to do that again!
All said, our first camping adventure of the season would have been a lot different without the KOA app. It made the most stressful parts about camping effortless. I highly recommend this app to anyone who’s thinking about “roughing it” this summer (or just looking for a great day outdoors!)
Get this app here!

                                  Honorary Mention Apps from our team!
The Ultimate Survival Manual app is much more than just tips and tricks to stay safe in the wilderness. This app teaches you the basics of surviving up to the advanced. The app is free with ads or you can pay 1.99 for the ad free version. There are almost 30 categories within the app that teaches you everything from ropes and knots to what is and is not poisonous. Anyone who is planning to take a trip into the wild should absolutely read through this and save the guides to their phone. I feel like Bear Grylls is with me when I’m out in the forest and have the ultimate survival manual at my fingertips! Highly recommend for all of the adventurers and anyone who wants to know how to survive!
Get this app here!

Sometimes it's hard to figure out what to cook in the outdoors. So I came across this called Camping Recipes, app and many more like it that give you simple, easy recipes. If you’re like me I don't want to spend hours cooking things when I could be playing games or running around catching lightening bugs with my nieces and nephews. This app makes things simple! It also allows you to create a shopping list of things you will need in order to prepare the meal. One of the best features of this particular app is that you can download the recipes offline, just in case you are in an area where service is an issue. Check out the "Antiguan Charcoal Baked Bananas" recipe, it's my favorite so far!  Get this app here!