Review: Filters, a new photo editor for iPhone with over 800 image effects and a stunning design

Mike Rundle, an independent designer and developer, is today releasing Filters for iPhone ($0.99), a visual effects photo editor. Rundle’s integrated development workflow, both writing the code and designing the interface, shows through in his work. This is how Filters describes itself.

You don’t take photos with Filters. You transform them. Filters has over 800 ways to transform your photographs including fully adjustable authentic vintage film recreations, hand-painted textures, vibrant colored gel overlays, special multi-effect adjustments (Shine, Luna, Color Boost, Intimidate and Smart Fade) as well as standard image adjustment tools like brightness, contrast, color temperature, exposure and more. All features are included with nothing extra to purchase.
The app features over 800 different image effects presented with some of the best UI design I’ve seen. However there’s no getting away from the fact Filters enters a crowded market with stiff competition. It’s interesting to see how Rundle has tried to differentiate his app from the rest. Read on for our full review of the iPhone’s newest image app.

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How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac (Part 1)

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Buying a Mac is designed to be easy. Apple has a handful of different models, each generally available in good, better, and best configurations. You’re supposed to start with the specific Mac model that fits your needs, pick a configuration that has the price and features you want, and walk away happy with your purchase. (Better yet, do your research online and save money after ordering from Amazon, or use the product guides off to the bottom right of this page.)

One thing Apple tends to downplay are tech specs — important numbers and acronyms that nonetheless confuse many people. Look carefully on Apple’s web site and you’ll find that there’s a Tech Specs page for every Mac Apple sells; they’re the keys to making an informed Mac purchase that will be right for your current and future needs. My latest How-To is here to walk you through each of Apple’s specs with clear explanations, so you can understand what you’re about to buy. This Part 1 discusses the “big 5″ Mac specs you need to know about, and Part 2 tackles the rest

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UK government approves free iPad Air 2 for all 650 members of parliament

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The UK government has decided to equip all of its 650 members of parliament with an iPad Air 2, according to a report from The Telegraph citing an official announcement from the House of Commons Commission this week.

While some have been critical of the decision to lock into Apple’s ecosystem, it’s now official with all members set to receive a 16GB WiFi + Cellular iPad Air 2 at a cost of around £200,000 or almost $300,000 US a year: Read more

PSA: Customers can start booking Apple Watch try-on appointments on April 10

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While some had assumed that it would be possible to book an Apple Watch try-on appointment ahead of the April 10th Apple Store preview kickoff, several Apple employees have told 9to5Mac that the booking process will actually begin on the 10th — the same day appointments will commence. Customers will be able to book 15 minute appointments, which are not necessarily required, via the Apple website on a computer or via the Apple Store iOS app. Apple Store employees have been instructed to promote the Apple Store app during in-store purchases leading up to the 10th, which Apple hopes will result in more booked appointments to try on the Apple Watch. Earlier this week, we profiled how Apple Store employees will begin providing customers fashion advice when the Apple Watch launches on April 24th. Thanks, FruitStandCrazy.

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Apple recycled water project for Cupertino & Campus 2 approved amid California drought concerns

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A $17.5 million project led and partly funded by Apple to increase the use of recycled water in Sunnyvale and Cupertino has been approved by city officials.

Mercury News reports that the Santa Clara Valley Water District has given the project the go ahead this week which will see the city of Sunnyvale, Apple and the California Water Service Company work together to lay 13,300 feet of pipeline to bring recycled water into Sunnyvale and Apple’s new campus in Cupertino: Read more

Mini-review: Libre, the ultra-thin & spill-proof iPad keyboard (with a rather less thin case)

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As someone who uses his iPad for email and writing as much as for media consumption, I’m a big fan of physical keyboards. My current favorites are the ClamCase Pro and Brydge, each of which offers a near-Macbook quality moving keyboard.

But if you’ve ever been deterred by the bulk or weight of a full moving keyboard, the Libre – a new iPad Air/2 keyboard case that launched yesterday on Kickstarter – may be worth a look. The keyboard itself is just 5mm thick and weighs only 200g, yet manages to squeeze in a backlight and the ability to switch between up to three devices. I’ve been using a prototype version for the past few days …  Read more

Want to be in the upcoming Steve Jobs movie? Here’s your chance

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The Aaron Sorkin-written Steve Jobs biopic will start playing in theaters in just six months, and there’s a good chance you could actually be in the monumental film that tells the late Apple co-founder’s story. Universal Pictures, the studio ultimately backing the movie after a dance with Sony Pictures, has issued a casting call for extras to be filmed on set in a scene of upcoming movie this weekend… Read more

Apple building funky-looking R&D center in Yokohama, Japan, opening next year

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This render provides our first look at Apple’s plan to build a sizeable new R&D center in Japan. We first heard that Apple would be building a facility “on par with Apple’s biggest R&D centers in Asia” from the Japanese Prime Minister late last year.

Japanese news site NHK reports that the center will be built on the outskirts of Yokohama, the second biggest city in Japan after nearby Tokyo. The city’s mayor announced in a news conference that Apple had purchased the remains of a Panasonic factory on the site, and would be building a 25,000 square meter facility over four floors. The scale of the building would suggest that it could accommodate around several hundred employees, though Apple may of course be allowing for future expansion. Read more

Review: Fantastical 2 for Mac graduates to a full calendar replacement w/ Yosemite widget+extension, much more

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Fantastical’s ability to parse natural language input and create detailed appointment entries on your calendar has always been the primary reason to use it instead of or in addition to Apple’s own Calendar app on the Mac. Apple Calendar has picked up some language parsing smarts in recent updates, too, but it still doesn’t match Fantastical’s control and real-time appointment preview.

Still, I say in addition to because Fantastical for Mac has lived in the menu bar next to your clock, WiFi status, and other utilities where you can quickly access it for reference or adding an appointment from anywhere in the OS. The menu bar app includes a compact month view calendar above a streamlined, scrollable list view of appointments and reminders, but sometimes it’s nice to stretch out and view your schedule in a different context.

So when Fantastical first debuted on iPad almost a year ago putting the efficient list view next to a larger full calendar, I wrote optimistically that “the iPad’s app design could spill over into a future version of the Mac app (maybe as a dock app rather than a menu bar app).”

What Fantastical 2 for Mac actually became is even better: the same menu bar calendar users know and love (but new and improved!), and a full-sized calendar app with an optional dock icon. Both have been designed with the aesthetics of OS X Yosemite in mind and loads of under-the-hood features and improvements including the ability to actually change which calendars you see based on your location. Read more

Apple acquires database software makers FoundationDB to speed up cloud services

FoundationDB

Apple has reportedly acquired database company FoundationDB, according to a new report from TechCrunch. The report cites sources and notes that the company is no longer offering downloads of its main database software product after posting the following notice to its website:

Thank you for your support of FoundationDB over the last five years. We’re grateful to have shared our vision of building the best database software and we strongly value your participation in this community. We have made the decision to evolve our company mission and, as of today, we will no longer offer downloads.

As noted in the report, Apple is likely looking to improve its cloud services with the acquisition: Read more