Apps

I hope you will find these app reviews helpful. Apps now form an integral part of our daily life, there are literally thousands of apps to choose from and more apps are being introduced and devised on a daily basis. So, how can you identify the best apps and how do you know which app to download and/or buy?

On Muff and teacake I will regularly be reviewing those apps which I have found most useful and which now form part of my life on a regular basis. Many of them are free and cost nothing to use!

The apps I review have to pass some tough criteria. They have to have some relevance to me as a working mum, so they will have to meet the criteria of making life easier for me as a mum, or to help me with my home decor, freelance writing and photography projects. Every so often an app comes along which just happens to be fun too!

Why I’m Using Instagram Stories

I have long been a fan of Instagram, but as a person who doesn’t necessarily like change, I was somewhat sceptical about Instagram Stories. I’ve never been a fan of SnapChat – apparently the closest thing to Instagram stories online…

Why I’m Using Instagram Stories

Having said that I have been pleasantly surprised by the enjoyment to be had from viewing and uploading these stories. It can be a bit of a challenge, there is something much more spontaneous about a story. It is less ‘polished’ and pre-planned, more instant and informal! I am still trying to work out how to approach stories, and how to use them to compliment my normal Instagram feed and grow my following. However, here are a few initial thoughts…

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Instagram Stories allow users to create a ‘story’ of images and videos that is automatically deleted after 24 hours. You have the option to draw on photos and videos, and add text and filters. The basic concept is to document and share pictures and videos of your daily life (usually uneventful, hence why being deleted after 24 hours isn’t a problem) without clogging up your main Instagram feed.

To view someone else’s story, just click on their profile photo, and their story will appear, showing all the stories they’ve posted in the last 24hrs. Stories are shown in chronological order from oldest to newest. You can’t like a story, or place a comment on it but if you want to comment on something you see, you can tap and send a private message to that person on Instagram Direct. As with SnapChat, you can tap to move forwards to the next story or swipe back to move to someone else’s story.

Instagram Stories for Small Businesses

This is a new way for users to post content on Instagram. For example, you can post about limited edition offers, products or services as your story disappears after 24 hours. Instagram stories also provides opportunities to post behind the scenes content at events, run takeovers or partnerships with influencers, communicate more informally and quickly on a 1:1 basis by running live, real time and completely up-to-date content.

It also provides a clever opportunity to ‘beat’ Instagram’s new Facebook style algorithm which upset so many users, helping your images and videos to be viewed instantly and chronologically!

I’m hoping to get to the point where I post at least one photo and one story per day! What’s your story? Are you using Instagram Stories? I’d love to hear from you!

Please do connect with me on my Instagram feed, I’m looking forward to seeing your stories!

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Adobe Photoshop Express App

Today I thought I’d continue my series of posts on some of the more useful apps which I use on a regular basis. Today it’s something totally different from a colouring app as I return to my love of all things photography related!

As someone who takes photos daily (mostly on my iPhone) I’m always on the lookout for photo editing apps, but most of the ones I come across appear to be very similar. Adobe Photoshop Express is a little different, and has rapidly become one of my favourite photo editing apps!

Adobe Photoshop Express App

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Photo editing made easy!

 

Here are my favourite features of the app:

  • Edit photos quickly with crop, straighten, rotate, flip, adjust colour, and remove red eye and pet eye.
  • Adjust hue, brightness, white balance, and more with easy slider controls which enable you to edit carefully and subtly according to your own preferences.
  • Post photos directly to favourite social sites like Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.
  • Email and SMS text your photos to family and friends
  • Take pictures directly from the app.
  • View photos at their sharpest and most vibrant thanks to support for iPad with Retina display.
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Magic!

 

For me Adobe Photoshop Express has undoubtedly the best noise reduction and sharpening tools I’ve come across, for every image you edit you are automatically zoomed in to enable you to see the difference to your photos as you edit them.

Here’s one of my iPhone photos, edited in Adobe Photoshop Express!

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A pop of colour and sharpness!

 

Happy editing!

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Enchanted Forest Colouring App

Today I’m thrilled to write my second post in a new series of posts on some of my favourite apps. I tend to be quite selective about the apps I use, as I really don’t want to load too many onto my phone and then forget to use them! However, every so often I find a new app which I love and so I thought I’d share one or two of them with you each month! Last month it was the LikeThat Garden app, and this month it’s the Enchanted Forest app.

Enchanted Forest Colouring App

Enchanted Forest is an online colouring book for adults, and is designed for both iPhone and iPad. The app is free, and there are lots of plant, flower and secret garden pictures and colours to choose from. Whilst some would argue that an app is no substitute for a real colouring book, I really did find it very therapeutic!

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Enchanted Forest App

 

Colouring books for adults are making a huge comeback and psychologists tell us that these beautiful books are great because when we focus on colouring it calms our minds, takes the focus away from our worries, and at the same time stimulates motor skills, senses and creativity.

If the app doesn’t have quite the same effect on you as colouring a real book does, then I recommend this truly beautiful Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book, (see link below) it’s an astonishing book and would make a great gift!

Whether you use the Enchanted Forest colouring app or a colouring book, happy colouring!

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LikeThat Garden App

Today I’m thrilled to launch a new series of posts on some of my favourite apps. I tend to be quite selective about the apps I use, as I really don’t want to load too many onto my phone and then forget to use them! However, every so often I find a new app which I love and so I thought I’d share one or two of them with you each month! This month it’s the LikeThat Garden app.

LikeThat Garden App

As you know, I love flowers and photographing them is my passion! They often fill my Instagram feed and I recently wrote a post about how to photograph them to their best advantage. I enjoy growing flowers in my garden, it’s lovely to be able to wander outside, pick some and bring them into the house to enjoy and use for my photography.

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Identify unknown flowers instantly!

 

I am working hard on a cut flower garden for the summer and enjoy wandering around garden centres and parks and open spaces for ideas and inspiration. Garden centres are great for finding and being able to identify new plants, but what do you do if you’re out and suddenly see something in a park, garden or public place with no helpful label to identify it?

The LikeThat Garden App is just perfect! Simply take a photo of the flower or plant, upload it to the app and wait a few seconds for it to identify and name your flower – perfect! It really does work well provided you have taken a clear photo, and you are then instantly able to identify your flower via high resolution photos and detailed species name and descriptions. I have tried and tested the app several times and the results have been impressive!

I can’t wait to do some flower spotting this spring and summer and I’d love to hear from you if you use or have been using the LikeThat Garden App!

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