Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Read It Later is now Pocket, a gorgeous and free app for cleaner reading on Android

Read It Later is now Pocket, a gorgeous and free app for cleaner reading on Android:

After serving as a non-essential-content stripper for the past five years, Read It Later is no more. Don’t worry, it’s just the name being dumped; the 4.5 million users who turn to the service formerly known as Read It Later will still be able to bookmark mobile-friendly articles under the rebranded and completely redesigned ‘Pocket.’

Pocket represents more than just a name change – it’s also a change of focus. The company revealed last month that a huge portion of the items it marked were for people saving video links, so the name just didn’t fit. Pocket now makes it clearer that you can save articles, photos, and videos to view or read later, and do so in a format that is minimal in its design. Users can place a bookmarklet to their desktop computer and instantly add articles or videos to their list, or save content directly from their phone using the Android share function.

The minimalism extendeds to the Pocket Android app, which works well on both phones and tablets. The app follows the Holo ICS conventions but throws in some light silver and white elements that users will appreciate. Only the text and images posted in an article are saved in Pocket, so readers get only the important bits. Like Readability, he app doesn’t always pull in full-size images, but tapping on it will zoom in on a thumbnail (not full-size images). A navigation bar at the bottom can mark an item as read, star it, change text size or font, increase brightness, or switch between day and night modes. The top navigation bar can refresh an article or toggle between minimal and web views.

Viewing photos and videos are handled through an internal media player. Vimeo and YouTube were the only services that I tested and both played without issue. That’s just one of the many things Pocket does right, as the app does a exemplary job of letting users manage the content they bookmark. The app can add tags to articles, photos, or videos for filtering and organization purposes, and users can search or look only at specific media types.

Pocket is available now in Google Play. Android 2.2 or higher is required to use the free app.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

SD card turns digital cameras into Instagram machines

SD card turns digital cameras into Instagram machines:

Smartphones are proving to be more popular than standalone cameras when it comes to photos but one company continues to buck the trend. On Wednesday, Eye-Fi released a memory card for digital cameras that directly uploads pictures over Wi-Fi or transfers them to a nearby smartphone or tablet. In theory, the $79 Eye-Fi Mobile X2 can be used to get images from a point-and-shoot or DLSR to Instagram, Facebook, TwitPic or any number of other photo sharing sites.

This can be handy for those that do carry a traditional digital camera but still have the desire to share great shots on photo sites. There are new cameras available with Wi-Fi on them, but the sharing functionality is limited to whatever sites the camera manufacturer enabled in the software. By sending images to a phone or tablet with Direct Mode, which the company debuted last year, pictures can be edited easier and shared with any site or social network through a mobile app.

The Mobile X2 is actually an extension of Eye-Fi’s new product line. It joins the $49 Connect X2 and $99 Pro X2. All three memory cards offer the Direct View functionality. With it, photos can be sent directly to an iPhone, iPad or Android device running Eye-Fi’s free mobile client. This eliminates the need to carry a USB cable or Apple Camera Connector Kit for image transfers.

The main difference between cards is in the storage capacity and file format support. The Connect X2 is limited to 4 GB of memory and doesn’t support RAW image files; the new Mobile X2 has the same file limitation but doubles the available memory. Eye-Fi’s Pro X2 has 8 GB of storage, but does support the larger RAW file format; essentially an unprocessed image directly from the camera sensor.

The storage for all three cards can be limiting, but the ability to wirelessly offload images with 802.11n Wi-Fi to a device with additional memory can offset that. And removing the need to carry cables for image transfer is a plus. Eye-Fi says the Direct Mode for the new Mobile X2 will be available in the coming weeks, although the actual SD card with integrated Wi-Fi is available now.