Trending February 2024 # Tweetbot For Iphone Makes Twitter Fun Again # Suggested March 2024 # Top 10 Popular

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The folks at Tapbots have done it again. Tweetbot is a new Twitter client for the iPhone that’s made quite a splash. Not many apps can be described as “joyful UI design” or “an excellent innovator of the Twitter platform.” Some would say the app even “feels like a privilege” to use.

Tweetbot may very well be the app that gives the official Twitter client a run for its money. Let’s take a look…

Overview

Innovation has always been difficult for third party Twitter apps. Ever since Twitter purchased Tweetie and created the official Twitter app, most third party clients were sent back to square one. Clients like Twitterrific have managed to compete with Twitter’s official app, but most can’t deliver an appealing enough package to tempt users away from the familiar.

Tweetbot isn’t the Tapbots team’s first rodeo. They’ve already made very successful apps like Pastebot (one of my favorites), Calcbot (the best Calculator replacement on the iPhone), Convertbot, and Weightbot. Mark Jardine and Paul Haddad know how to make sexy software. Tweetbot spent many months in secret beta testing, and version 1.0 is a rock solid release.

Design and Layout

If you’ve used other apps from Tapbots, you’ll recognize the robot feel and industrial style of Tweetbot. Overall, the app uses mechanic animations and squared designs to convey the Tapbots charm. After using Tweetbot, you should notice an even starker contrast with the organic design of the official Twitter client.

The Timeline view in Tweetbot is what you would expect, but Tapbots has done something interesting with the ability to make a Twitter list your main Timeline. Tapping the word “Timeline” will bring up a settings panel to switch your Timeline view to any list associated with your Twitter account.

The second major difference in Tweetbot is the action drawer. When you tap on a tweet, you are greeted with a drop-down panel and a list of options, such as, Reply, Retweet, Favorite, Detail View, etc. The official Twitter client uses a left-to-right swipe for the same type of option panel, so it’s interesting to see Tapbots trying something different.

The implementation of swipe gestures in the timeline allows for two very appealing enhancements. Swiping from left to right reveals Conversation view, which is a great and easy way to see the history of a conversation. Right-to-left reveals a new feature from Tapbots called Related. This window uses a special algorithm to show related tweets. After testing Related out, you’ll notice that its results are really hit or miss.

The profile view in Tweetbot is nice. It’s got all of the options and features you would expect, with some great attention to detail. I like how you can see when you joined Twitter and your Twitter user number.

The “Pull to Refresh” design in Tweetbot is a nice take on the existing interface in the official Twitter client. It makes loading new tweets fun.

Features and Options

Tweetbot has plenty of stuff to look at in Settings. As was previously mentioned, you can tweak the app’s sounds. You can also change things like display font size and set options for triple tap (mine is set to trigger a reply window).

The Post in Background feature in Tweetbot is really nice if you want the app to upload your tweets in the background. If you tweet with photos or video, it could take a while to actually upload your tweet to Twitter (depending on your connection). Post in Background will publish your tweet in the background and give you a nice notification inside your Timeline upon completion. If Tweetbot can’t publish the tweet for some reason, it will automatically save it your list of drafts.

The Services panel in Tweetbot has a host of options for image uploading, URL shortening, etc. My favorite aspect of this area is the ability to use CloudApp.

Tweetbot handles multiple Twitter accounts very nicely. And each account has its own customizable settings.

Back in the Timeline, you’ll notice that there are 5 different items by default for Timeline, Mentions, DMs, Favorites and Search. You can actually edit the last two icons and change them to List view and Retweets. Tapbots does something clever here by allowing you access to 4 icons with two tabs.

The Compose window is cleverly designed, and the location features are particularly well done. You have all of the expected options to upload media from your camera roll, take a picture in-app, or view your drafts.

Here’s what some of the options are like for interacting with tweets in the Timeline:

The ability to translate tweets is particularly nice if you follow certain accounts that tweet in another language. The translation tool itself works very well and hasn’t produced a bad result on me once.

There’s one last feature in Tweetbot that stands out. If you don’t check Twitter for a few hours, hundreds and hundreds of tweets can fill your Timeline. The older tweets usually don’t show up because they exceed Twitter’s API limit (For me, on an average day, tweets get lost if they’re published more than 40 minutes from when I last checked.) Since I like to read all of the tweets in my Timeline, I usually end up going to the Twitter desktop app or website to see the tweets I missed on the iPhone.

Tweetbot allows you to see the tweets that get lost in the API time limit gap. Instead of bringing you to the bottom of the Timeline without the option to load any farther, Tweetbot presents you with a visual gap in the Timeline that can be filled by tapping the blue “+” icon. That feature alone is absolutely brilliant.

Because of that ability in Tweetbot, I can now catch up on the older tweets that I’ve missed throughout the day. Tweetbot has made my Twitter experience on the iPhone much more efficient.

Cons

Although Tweetbot is about as good as it gets, it’s still not perfect. The biggest lacking feature for Tweetbot is native push notifications. Tweetbot can work with Boxcar in a roundabout way to provide a push service, but an app of this caliber should have its own push backend. Landscape view also needs to be added to put the finishing touch on this almost perfect app.

Tapbots is aware of these issues, and they’re hard at work to make Tweetbot even better in the next major update,

“Before you instantly dismiss Tweetbot from having every single feature on the planet, keep in mind that this is version 1.0. We have a big list of features that just didn’t make the first release. Some take longer than others or are just not as important. The bottom line is, we had to ship at some point. We felt Tweetbot in its current state made a good 1.0 and we decided to ship now instead of 2-3 months later. So please be patient with us as we continue to make Tweetbot a better client. Landscape support for composing, viewing images, websites, and videos is coming. We are also looking into our options for native push notifications. We’ve got a big list.”

It’s encouraging to hear that Tweetbot will continue to be improved.

Conclusion

Tweetbot is one of the best Twitter apps that the App Store has to offer, and it’s been out for less than a week! The design is gorgeous, the features impressive, and the user experience is pleasant. Tapbots has a hit on their hands.

It will be interesting to see how Tweetbot disrupts the third party Twitter client market. I know a lot of people are still stuck on older clients like Echofon, and there are still some good competitors out there like Twitterrific and TweetDeck.

I previously used the iPhone to check Twitter when I needed to, now, with Tweetbot, I check Twitter when I want to. Tweetbot makes Twitter on the iPhone fun again.

I can’t recommend Tweetbot highly enough to anyone that uses Twitter and has an iPhone. It’s sexy. It’s new. It’s Tweetbot. And it’s available for $1.99 in the App Store.

What do you think of Tweetbot? Has it convinced you to stop using the official Twitter client? What’s your Twitter app of choice?

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Essential Skeleton Makes Learning Human Anatomy Fun

When I was in high school, one of my biology finals included memorizing every bone in the hand. That is, all of the carpals, metacarpals, and phalanxes of both hands and every digit. Of course, today there is no way I remember that information. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I remembered more than I thought when I downloaded Essential Skeleton.

Essential Skeleton is an educational app for the iPad from 3D4Medical. The company uses a proprietary graphics engine to create lifelike digital reproductions of medical models. The skeleton in this app is fully three-dimensional, making it better than a real-life model because you don’t have to store it in your closet with your other secrets and you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it (my puns just keep getting better, don’t they?)…

Design

The most attractive and interesting part of this app is its design. The skeletal model is rendered in 3-D, making it possible for you to view every single bone, from the femur to an individual tooth, at every angle. You can also zoom in for extreme close-ups of textures and imperfections. The skeleton itself is set over a black background. You can change the background to solid white, but black makes the tiny bone segments stand out more.

You can pinch to zoom in or out and drag two fingers across the screen to move around. If you want to rotate the skeleton or a selected bone, drag one finger across the screen.

There are a couple of easy-to-use controls on the left side of the screen to help you navigate the system. The user interface is intuitive and the features are easy to find. You are getting a lot of information fed to you with each bone, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming.

The only complaint I have is that the text is fairly small and there is no way to increase the size. While it keeps things looking tidy, it is a bit hard on the eyes.

App Use

When you first open the app, you can watch a video tutorial. I recommend skipping it. For the most part, you are told how to pinch-to-zoom and tap things. This app is easy to explore and you won’t get off track too much if you accidentally tap something you didn’t mean to. Here’s a hint; tap the “Home” or “Reset” icon if you get stuck.

Start exploring by zooming in and tapping on bones. The segment you select will turn green and the bone’s name will appear with a couple of controls. You can hide the selected bone, hide all other bones except the selected one, fade the bone, or fade all others except the selected one. You can also hear an audio sample of the proper pronunciation of each bone.

If you tap the “i” icon, some additional information will appear in a floating pop up window. For example, select the Frontal Bone and tap the “i.” The pop up window will include six different pictures of the bone, plus a paragraph describing its location and relation to the rest of the skeleton.

You can also select sections of the skeleton to view instead of trying to work with the entire system. For example, if you only want to see the skull, tap the book icon on the left side of the screen. Select “Skull” from the list and you will be able to see the entire skull without having to see the rest of the Axial skeleton.

If you think you have learned all there is to know about a section of the skeleton, or maybe even the entire skeletal system, you can quiz yourself. In the quiz section, you will be asked to identify certain bones, just like you would on for a biology final.

There is an annotation feature that allows users to write on the screen with a virtual pen. However, the annotated image must be exported immediately. There is no way to save it within the app for future reference.

You can share images of each bone through email, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also save the image to your device’s photo library.

Value

I expected an app of this caliber to hog up massive amounts of space on my iPad and take an unreasonably long time to download, but it didn’t. It is 89.5MB and only took a few minutes to download. So, at the price of free, you aren’t even wasting any of your time or storage space on this app.

It comes with a plethora of interesting information about the human skeleton and makes it very easy to see every part of every bone in its entirety. If I had this app when I was in high school, I might be a scientist today instead of an app reviewer.

Conclusion

If you have any interest at all in the skeletal system and own an iPad (second generation or above), download this free app right now. There is also a “Pro” version called Skeleton System Pro III for $14.99, which includes a lot of awesome features. Essential Skeleton is a work of art in itself and is a great asset to anyone studying the bones of the human body in a rudimentary capacity.

Salesflare Makes Crm Work For You

Most small businesses we talk to are having these exact same issues. While CRM companies promised them huge benefits that would come from using their software, these benefits have almost never been realized. “If only the sales team would use and keep using the CRM properly,” it would all come true — but we all know by now that this will never happen.

Too much work, too little gain

All the CRM software we tried seemed to come with the built-in expectation that we would input every single bit of data we encountered and document our every move while interacting with customers. An expectation we didn’t feel we could keep up with.

We also noticed that most of the data we had to track in the CRM was already available, spread out across other systems: There were contacts and emails in our mailboxes, email signatures with contact data, publicly available info on social media, company info in company databases, meetings in our calendars, calls on our phones. Copying all that info over manually seemed like a huge waste of time.

That was the spark for Salesflare.

How Salesflare works to automate CRM

Salesflare is the only CRM we know of that is built from the ground up to be an automated CRM that fills out itself.

And if you’re using a Samsung phone as well, you’re in for a treat: Unlike most other CRMs, who offer a simplified version of their software on the phone, our mobile app brings 100 percent of the functionality to your Samsung phone. It can even synchronize your call history into the CRM automatically!

Some of its other most popular features are the visual drag-and-drop pipelines, automated follow-up reminders, business card scanner, out-of-the-box (yet customizable) dashboards and relationship insights.

Easy to set up, easy to use and easy to keep using

According to reviewers on G2, the world’s leading B2B software review site, Salesflare is the No. 1 easiest-to-implement and No. 2 easiest-to-use CRM software of the 670+ listed.

On average, it takes teams three days to go live with Salesflare, compared to almost two months with competing CRMs.

This is a direct result of the fact that the team has not only worked to build the world’s most automated CRM, but that they have also invested a lot of time and effort to make sure everybody can easily use and keep using it.

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People using Salesflare tell us they better follow up their customers (with less effort), build better customer relationships and make significantly more sales. Teams also report higher levels of transparency, accountability and collaboration.

Getting started with Salesflare

To start using Salesflare, simply connect your mailbox and start tracking customers.

If you need any assistance with setting up sales pipelines, adding custom fields, integrating Salesflare with other tools or importing data, the team is always there to help.

Salesflare offers live chat and email support, live demos and assistance via Zoom, regular live webinars, an extensive knowledge base, a comprehensive set of tutorial videos, as well as an interactive setup guide.

This easy and automated CRM with stellar support might very well be the first one not to hold you back from achieving your business goals.

Steve Baltodano of Grupo Obvio concurs: “It’s the first time my sales team said ‘I love the CRM’ — something I had never heard before. I now have a CRM that does not add more work to my plate. This is what every other CRM should aspire to be. Adoption and ease of use are through the roof. Everyone was fully using it within a day and no longer than 20 minutes of training was needed.”

Discover more essential apps to empower your growing business — and explore exclusive business pricing, financing and trade-in options and other deals on everything from phones and tablets to monitors and memory.

Fun With Silhouettes In Photoshop

Fun With Silhouettes In Photoshop

Written by Steve Patterson.

In this Photoshop tutorial, we’re going to have some fun with silhouettes. By that, I mean we’ll first create a basic silhouette using a technique that will give us the freedom to resize the silhouette as needed without any loss of image quality, and then we’ll see how to fill the silhouette with a fun background to create interesting designs!

I’ll be creating a couple of silhouettes for this tutorial. First, I’ll use the boy from this photo:

The first silhouette will be created from this photo.

I’ll also create a silhouette from the girl in this photo:

The second silhouette will be created from this photo.

I’ll be filling both silhouettes with a background, and I’ll be using the background we created in our recent Classic Starburst Background tutorial:

The “starburst” background created in a recent tutorial.

Of course, you can use whichever background you like. If you’re creating this starburst background from our tutorial, you’ll want to make sure you flatten the starburst image when you’re done by going up to the Layer menu at the top of the screen and choosing Flatten Image so that the starburst image is on a single Background layer, which will make things easier later on. As I said though, feel free to use whichever background image you want.

Here’s the final effect we’ll be working towards:

The final silhouette effect.

Before we get started, I should mention that we’ll be using Photoshop’s Pen Tool to create our silhouettes, as opposed to something more basic like the Lasso Tool. There’s a couple of reasons why. First, getting professional quality selections with the Lasso Tool is next to impossible, and silhouettes created with the Lasso Tool generally look sloppy and amateurish. The Pen Tool gives us all the precision we need to create great looking shapes.

The second reason for choosing the Pen Tool is that it allows us to create vector-based shapes which are resolution-independent, meaning we can resize them as needed without any loss in image quality. The Lasso Tool, on the other hand, creates pixel-based selections which are not resize-friendly. They tend to lose image quality after being resized, especially if you need to make them larger. So, for great looking silhouettes that won’t lose image quality no matter what size we make them, we need the Pen Tool!

Having said that, if you’re not familiar with how to use the Pen Tool in Photoshop, be sure to check out our Making Selections With The Pen Tool tutorial first, where you’ll find everything you need to know to get up and running with what is, without question, the single best selection tool in all of Photoshop.

This tutorial is from our Photo Effects series. Let’s get started!

Step 1:

Select The Pen Tool

Open the first image that you want to create a silhouette from (in my case, it’s the photo of the boy) and select the Pen Tool from Photoshop’s Tools palette:

Select the Pen Tool.

You can also select the Pen Tool by pressing the letter P on your keyboard.

Step 2: Select The “Shape Layers” Option In The Options Bar

Select the Shape Layers option from the Options Bar.

Step 3: Reset Your Foreground And Background Colors If Needed

As I mentioned, we’ll be filling our silhouette with a background image, but let’s first create a more traditional black-filled silhouette. For that, we’ll need our Foreground color set to black, which happens to be its default color (white is the default color for the Background color). If your Foreground color is already set to black, you can skip this step. If it’s not, you can easily reset the Foreground and Background colors by pressing the letter D on your keyboard. If you look at your Foreground and Background color swatches near the bottom of the Tools palette, you’ll see that black is now the Foreground color (the left swatch) and white is now the Background color (the right swatch):

Reset the Foreground and Background colors if needed.

Step 4: Draw An Outline Around The Person In The Photo

With the Pen Tool in hand, the Shape Layers option selected in the Options Bar and your Foreground color set to black, begin drawing an outline around the person in your photo, adding anchor points and moving direction handles as needed. Again, be sure to read through our Making Selections With The Pen Tool tutorial first if you need help using the Pen Tool.

You’ll quickly notice a bit of a problem as you work your way around the person. Since we’re drawing a shape, Photoshop is filling the area inside the outline with black as you create it, which in itself is not a problem except that it tends to block your view of what you’re doing. Here we can see that I’ve started drawing an outline around the boy’s head, but the solid black is completely blocking him from view as I work my way around him:

The solid black fill is blocking the boy from view.

To get around this little problem, all we need to do is temporarily lower the opacity of our shape layer. If we look in our Layers palette, we can see that we now have two layers. Our photo is on the Background layer, and the shape we’re drawing with the Pen Tool is on the shape layer, named “Shape 1”, directly above it. The shape layer is currently selected (we know this because it’s highlighted in blue), so go up to the Opacity option in the top right corner of the Layers palette and lower the opacity down to around 40% or so:

Lower the opacity of the shape layer in the Layers palette.

With the opacity of the shape lowered, we can now see through the solid black fill, which makes it much easier to see what we’re doing:

The boy is now visible through the solid black fill.

Continue drawing your outline around the person with the Pen Tool. When you’re done, go back to the Opacity option in the Layers palette and raise the opacity back to 100%. Here’s my completed shape around the boy, filled with solid black. I now have my first silhouette:

The first silhouette is now complete.

Step 5:

Create A New Blank Photoshop Document

Choose whatever size you need for your document. For this tutorial, I’ll create a 6×6 inch document and I’ll set the Resolution to 300 pixels per inch, which is a standard resolution for professional quality printing. Make sure you choose White as your document’s Background Contents:

Create a new blank Photoshop document.

The new Photoshop document filled with white.

Step 6: Drag The Shape Layer Into The New Document

Release your mouse button and your black-filled silhouette will appear inside the new document:

The silhouette now appears inside the new document.

You can close out of the original photo’s document window at this point, since we no longer need it. And now, if we look in the Layers palette once again, we can see that our shape layer has in fact been copied over to the new document and is sitting directly above the white-filled Background layer:

The Layers palette showing the shape layer now inside the new document.

Step 7: Resize And Reposition The Silhouette With Free Transform

Here, I’ve made my silhouette larger and moved it into the top left corner of the document:

Resize the silhouette and reposition it as needed with Free Transform.

Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) when you’re done to accept the transformation and exit out of the Free Transform command.

Step 8: Add Additional Silhouettes To The Document (Optional)

that I want to add to my design, so I’ll open up my second photo, which is the image of the girl:

Open your second image (optional).

Using the same steps as before, I’ll select the Pen Tool from the Tools palette and draw an outline around the girl, lowering the opacity of the shape layer in the Layers palette to around 40% so I can see what I’m doing as I make my way around her:

Drawing a shape outline around the girl with the Pen Tool.

When I’m done, I’ll raise the opacity of the shape layer back to a full 100%. Here’s my image with the silhouette of the girl now complete:

The second silhouette is now complete.

Dragging the second silhouette into the main Silhouettes document.

With my second silhouette now inside the main document, I’ll close out of the girl’s photo since I no longer need to have it open. If we look in my “Silhouettes” document now, we can see that the girl’s silhouette has been added:

Both silhouettes now appear inside the main “Silhouettes” document.

Just as I did before with the first silhouette, I’ll press Ctrl+T (Win) / Command+T (Mac) to bring up Photoshop’s Free Transform box and handles around my new silhouette and I’ll drag out any of the corner handles to resize it, holding Shift as I drag to constrain the proportions of the shape and holding Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) as well to force the shape to resize from its center. I’ll also drag the shape down towards the bottom right corner of the document while I’m at it:

Using Free Transform to resize and reposition the second silhouette.

I’ll press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) when I’m done to accept the transformation and exit out of the Free Transform command.

If I look in my Layers palette, I can see that I now have two shape layers sitting above the white-filled Background layer. The boy’s silhouette is on the bottom shape layer and the girl’s is on the top one:

Photoshop’s Layers palette now shows two shape layers above the Background layer.

Renaming the shape layers in the layers palette to avoid confusion.

Step 9:

Open The Image You Want To Fill The Silhouettes With

Let’s make our silhouettes look a bit more interesting by filling them with a fun background image rather than leaving them filled with solid black. Open the image you want to fill your silhouettes with. As I mentioned at the beginning of this tutorial, I’ll use the starburst background we created in our recent Classic Starburst Background tutorial:

Open the image you want to fill your silhouettes with.

Step 10: Drag The Image Into The Silhouettes Document

Drag the Background layer from your background image into the Silhouettes document.

Release your mouse button and the background image appears in front of the silhouettes in the “Silhouettes” document:

The background image now appears inside the Silhouettes document.

You can close out of the background image once you’ve dragged it into the “Silhouettes” document. If we look in the Layers palette, we can see that the background image now appears on a layer named “Layer 1” above the other layers in the document:

The background image appears on its own layer in the Layers palette above the other layers.

The reason why the image appeared above the other layers is because Photoshop automatically placed it directly above the layer that was currently selected. In my case, I had the “Girl” layer selected, so Photoshop placed the background image directly above it. If the “Boy” layer had been selected, Photoshop would have placed the background image between the “Boy” and “Girl” layers.

Step 11: Create A Clipping Mask

At the moment, the starburst image (or whatever image you’re using) is blocking both of my silhouettes from view. Obviously, that’s not what I want. What I want is for the starburst to appear inside one of my silhouettes. For that, we need to create a clipping mask, which will “clip” the starburst image to whatever is on the layer directly below it. In my case, the girl’s silhouette is directly below it, so when I create the clipping mask, the only part of the starburst image that will remain visible is the area that falls within the silhouette. This will create the illusion that the silhouette is filled with the starburst pattern.

To create the clipping mask, make sure you have “Layer 1” selected in the Layers palette, then go up to the Layer menu at the top of the screen and choose Create Clipping Mask:

Select “Create Clipping Mask” from the Layer menu.

With the clipping mask created, the starburst image becomes clipped to the silhouette directly below it, making it appear as though the silhouette is being filled by the starburst:

The starburst image is now clipped to the girl’s silhouette.

Step 12: Resize and Reposition The Background Image If Needed With Free Transform

Use Free Transform to resize, rotate and move the image inside the silhouette as needed.

Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) when you’re done to accept the transformation and exit out of the Free Transform command. We now have our first background image-filled silhouette:

The background image now appears the way we want it inside the first silhouette.

Step 13:

Duplicate The Background Image And Move It Above The Second Silhouette

Hold down Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) and drag “Layer 1” down between the two shape layers.

Release your mouse button when the black line appears. A copy of “Layer 1” now appears in the Layers palette directly between the two shape layers:

The Layers palette showing a copy of “Layer 1” between the two shape layers.

If we look in the document window, we can see that the background image is now once again blocking part of the design from view:

The copy of the background image is now blocking part of the main image from view.

Step 14: Create A Clipping Mask

We need to clip the copy of our background image to the second silhouette so that it appears inside the silhouette, just as we did a moment ago with the first silhouette. Go up to the Layer menu at the top of the screen and choose Create Clipping Mask:

Select “Create Clipping Mask” from the Layer menu.

This clips the copy of the background image to the second silhouette, making it appear as though the background image is inside the silhouette:

The copy of the background image is now clipped to the second silhouette.

Step 15: Resize And Reposition The Background Image With Free Transform

Press Ctrl+T (Win) / Command+T (Mac) to bring up Photoshop’s Free Transform box and handles around the background image inside the silhouette, then resize, rotate and/or move it into place as needed:

Use Free Transform to resize the image inside the silhouette and move it into place.

Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) when you’re done to exit out of the Free Transform command.

Step 16: Add A Stroke To The Silhouettes

Select Stroke from the bottom of the list:

Select “Stroke” from the list of layer styles.

Sampling the orange color from the starburst background inside the boy’s silhouette.

The orange stroke has been applied to the first silhouette.

To quickly apply the stroke to the second silhouette, go up to the Layer menu at the top of the screen, choose Layer Style, and then choose Copy Layer Style:

And just like that, the stroke is now applied to the second silhouette as well:

The stroke has now been applied to both silhouettes.

I’m going to finish up my design by adding a few scattered stars around the silhouettes. I’ll do that next.

Step 17:

Create A New Layer Group

Enter a name for your new layer group in the dialog box.

A new layer group named “Stars” has been added in the Layers palette.

Step 18: Select The Custom Shape Tool

Select the Custom Shape Tool.

Step 19: Load The “Shapes” Custom Shape Set

Select the “Shapes” custom shape set from the menu.

Selecting the “5-point star frame” shape.

Sampling the orange color from the starburst background.

Step 20: Drag Out The First Star Shape

Drag out your first star shape.

Step 21: Rotate The Star With Free Transform

Use Free Transform to rotate the star shape.

Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) when you’re done to accept the rotation and exit out of the Free Transform command.

Step 22: Add Additional Star Shapes

Add additional star shapes by repeating the last couple of steps. First, drag out the shape, then rotate the shape if needed with Free Transform. Here’s my image after adding a few more stars:

Add more stars to the design, rotating them as needed.

Step 23: Select the “5 Point Star” Shape

Add more stars to the design, rotating them as needed.

Step 24: Add More Stars

With the “5 Point Star” shape selected, follow the same steps to add more stars, first dragging them out and then rotating them with the Free Transform command. If we look in our Layers palette now, we can see all of the shape layers we’ve added, each one containing one of the star shapes. Notice how they all appear inside the “Stars” layer group:

All of the stars appear in the Layers palette inside the “Stars” layer group.

And here’s my final silhouette design after adding a few more stars using the “5 Point Star” shape:

The final silhouette design.

And there we have it! That’s how to create fun, interesting designs with images and silhouettes in Photoshop! Visit our Photo Effects section for more Photoshop effects tutorials!

Best Apps For Young Kids To Foster Fun And Creative Learning

Just like adults, it can be easy for kiddos to get sucked into passively watching videos on iPad or TV. But what about more engaging digital experiences that encourage creative and fun learning? Follow along for a look at some of the best apps for young kids.

Balancing kids’ screen time can be challenging. As the parent of two young boys, I know how addictive YouTube Kids and other similar passively-watched videos can be. There’s certainly a lot of great video content like that available, but I think it’s important to make an effort to keep things balanced.

For my wife and I, finding engaging, fun apps that naturally encourage creativity and active participation has been super helpful.

Best apps for young kids

This amazing app for kids launched two years ago and has seen constant updates and improvements since. After starting with 6 great toys that encourage open-ended play, exploration, and self-led learning, Pok Pok now features 15 unique toys.

The app has won an Apple Design Award, Editors’ Choice Award, and earned many more accolades.

Designed for kids ages 2-7

No winning or losing

No adult help required

Wonderful variety of experiences

My family has been a paying customer of Pok Pok since it launched and my boys both love it and have learned and grown so much with it. Check out more details in my original review along with all the updates released since.

Pok Pok Playroom is available from the App Store with a free 7-day trial then goes from $6.99/month or $45.99/year.

LEGO Duplo World combines a variety of great learning experiences into one app.

You’ve got the creative and exploratory nature of LEGO but in digital form that can help with fine motor skills

Collaborative aspects

Sorting and numbers, reasoning, and problem-solving

Imaginary play as well as real-world skills like practicing when to cross streets, how to wash hands, and much more

Made for 2-5-year-olds (but may be fun for kids older than that)

LEGO Duplo World is a little pricier than some apps out there, but in our experience, it’s totally worth it. It’s a free download to try out and you can unlock parts or all of the app starting from $5.

Speaking of LEGO, if you haven’t checked out the LEGO Building Instructions app, it’s a really neat experience.

For many of the newer LEGO sets, the app features 3D instructions that are a lot of fun. My son has a blast doing free-play with LEGO, but the 3D instructions are also great when there’s something specific he wants to build.

The 3D nature is really helpful for spatial reasoning skills.

You can use the 3D instructions even if you didn’t buy a specific set and want to use with the Lego you already have (note: not all instructions are available in 3D)

LEGO Building Instruction is a free download from the App Store.

If you’re looking for a fun way to help your young child learn the alphabet/phonics, read, and write, Duolingo ABC is a phenomenal app.

Designed by literacy and early-education experts to develop children’s skills in phonics, sight words, reading comprehension, more.

Works offline

Free app and ad-free!

You can get Duolingo ABC for iPhone and iPad for free on the App Store.

This has become a go-to for many parents, teachers, and libraries with a massive 10,000+ educational and interactive activities in over 850 lessons.

Focus areas: reading, math, science, art and colors, music

Designed for kids ages 2-8

4.5-star average rating on over 700,000 reviews

Can use the app and the web

Free for 30 days to see if you like it

You can download ABCmouse for free from the App Store and start a 30-day trial and then it runs $12.99/month.

If you want to introduce your kids to coding, Apple’s Swift Playgrounds is a great place to start.

Totally free

Designed with an “interactive puzzle” approach

Apple mentions ages 12+ but kids younger than that may enjoy it as well

Here’s how Apple describes Swift Playgrounds:

Swift Playgrounds is a revolutionary app that makes it fun to learn and experiment with code. You solve interactive puzzles in the guided “Learn to Code” lessons to master the basics of coding, or experiment with a wide range of challenges that let you explore many unique coding experiences.

Swift Playgrounds is free download from the App Store.

This is a really fun app for curious kids. BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. feature animated short videos that do a great job explaining various concepts across science, reading, math, social studies, art and tech, and more.

Great app to explore and find answers to questions

Humorous and fun characters

Includes movies, quizzes, and other educational activities

This app offers 10 fun, educational activities aimed at kids from 2 to 7 years old. Another neat aspect of downloading Lil Artist is the app is made by Arima, an Apple WWDC Scholar, and her brother Aman who have a passion for education.

Lil Artist activities include:

Coloring

Sight words

Puzzles

Math games

Letter tracing

Doodle

Shape Match

Memory game

Stories

Music

Lil Artist is a free download from the App Store for iPhone and iPad with a $9.99 one-time purchase to unlock all of the app’s content.

If you’re ready to invest a bit more money than the apps above and think your kids would enjoy an augmented reality approach, Osmo is a really neat experience.

Variety of sets available with focuses on math, phonics/reading, drawing, creativity, communication, spacial reasoning, coding, and more

Options for kids ages 3-10+

Highly rated: most Osmo kits have 4.7-star average rating or higher on Amazon

Read more about Osmo in our reviews here:

More

Additional great apps to check out for your young kiddo include:

Best apps for young kids wrap-up

Among all of the options above ranging from totally free to paid, hopefully you’ve found something new to try out to encourage some intentional screen time focused on engaging learning with your kid.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Nfts Are Crashing (Again). Here’s Why.

The NFT space isn’t what it used to be. This has become painfully obvious to those within Web3 over the past few months. From controversial memecoin escapades to overwhelming regulatory initiatives, the magic of the metaverse has been palpably waning throughout 2023.

As it stands, the current state of the non-fungible ecosystem is a far cry from the market highs that helped kick off the year. Yet, this round of “NFTs are crashing” feels different than times past. With this bout, the causation behind NFTs slowing down feels more nuanced. Rather than fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) leading the market down, there could be something more at play.

NFTs by the numbers

Although community sentiment is difficult to measure quantitatively, market health can usually be gauged by the charts. These looked good at the beginning of the year, with NFT sales up 43 percent. This was a welcome change from the bear market that enveloped the majority of 2023.

Yet, in recent months it’s become clear that the success we witnessed in Q1 has not continued. Thus far in 2023, the majority of NFT sales volume has been generated on Blur (more on that later). And while volume was up in a big way during the winter, after peaking in February, both volume and trades dropped and dwindled throughout the spring.

It initially didn’t seem all bad, though, because, at the start of the sunny season (June), the NFT market witnessed a slight uptick in activity. But upon further inspection, it became clear that this uptick might not necessarily be indicative of a positive trend but rather a variety of issues currently unfolding across a range of prominent blue-check projects.

Bored Apes and Azuki

Most notably, the Bored Ape Yacht Club and Azuki — which have each respectively become the center of attention at some point in 2023 — have been feeling the heat. Although, over the past few months, the majority of NFT sales volume has come from these two projects, this latest round of trading seems oddly decoupled from the rest of the NFT ecosystem.

That’s because instead of demand fueling trading and resulting in floor prices rising, as we’ve seen time and time again with the launch of secondary collections, current trading seems to be the result of floor prices dropping and traders subsequently looking to cash in on a good deal.

While this isn’t uncommon in Web3, especially as Blur continues to dominate the market, it’s odd for such an event to happen to BAYC. As a silo within the NFT space, BAYC (and CryptoPunks, for that matter) has anecdotally existed in a world of its own, unwavering in the face of speculation and regulation. But recently, this has changed.

In the case of BAYC, floor prices have been steadily dropping. At the time of writing, the collection floor sat around 30 ETH (about $57,000). Notably, this is the lowest we’ve seen Apes fall since 2023. A similar narrative is playing out with Azuki, with the brand’s core collection having hit a floor of just under 7 ETH ($13,000).

Although there are a number of reasons this price action may be happening, many holders and enthusiasts have pointed to dilutions and fragmentation as the root cause. More specifically, BAYC holders have felt disenfranchised by Otherside and HV-MTL, effectively splitting the Yuga NFT ecosystem. Similarly, Azuki enthusiasts were thrown into a tizzy in light of the brand’s recent controversial expansion, Azuki Elementals.

Of course, there are still considerations to be made regarding the effect that BAYC and Azuki are having on the market. For one, holders from blue chip collections such as these have actually remained rather steadfast. Yet, while HODLers be HODLing, price is (and historically has been) determined by incremental buyers and sellers. Long story short, if there are no new buyers, there is often a slow bleed downwards.

Large-Cap index down 23% since June 23 (the day of the Azuki Vegas event), despite the 9% rally since Monday. chúng tôi chúng tôi (@punk9059) July 5, 2023

Furthermore, while Bored Apes and Azuki NFTs waning undoubtedly affects the NFT ecosystem at large, they aren’t the sole catalysts for NFTs going down. Azuki Elementals did serve to remove somewhere around $38 million from the ecosystem, which means even whales are likely being conservative with their purchases currently.

The Blur effect

Another probable candidate partially responsible for this latest crash isn’t collectors but rather the platforms and marketplaces they operate within. When once OpenSea was the dominant force in the greater NFT market, Blur has unequivocally taken over as the major breadwinner of the non-fungible ecosystem. Of course, the path to Blur’s prominence wasn’t devoid of controversy, and even now, the greater NFT community speculates about how the platform’s infrastructure might push NFT collection prices down.

The most major point of contention concerning Blur comes from its native token, $BLUR. Through several airdrops, the token sought to reward platform loyalty and user engagement — a system we’ve seen used many times over with governance and community tokens ($RARI, $LOOKS).

However, the $BLUR token rewards (paired with a royalty-free marketplace) is a major draw for high-profile collectors. While Blur’s aforementioned monopoly on NFT sales volume is undoubtedly impressive, it’s recently come to light that a handful of prominent traders might be using the platform’s incentivization system to wield an influence over NFT prices. 

Now, Web3 observers are wondering if the marketplace’s successes didn’t come without a potentially larger cost to the broader NFT ecosystem. In response, some have even taken the stance that Blur’s popularity as an opportunity for token farming might have the power to tank the NFT market altogether.

A holistic view of the blockchain

Specific cases like BAYC, Azuki, and Blur aside, though, there’s more to be said about the NFT macroclimate as a contributing factor to the current downward trend we’re seeing within the NFT market itself. And surely top of mind for most within the blockchain industry is that ETH is pumping, and the government is watching.

At this current stage of maturation in Web3, the unpredictable price action of crypto paired with mounting regulation of the crypto and NFT space have added a palpable layer of uncertainty to the future of the blockchain industry. These factors, above many others, are surely influencing buyer behavior and contributing to market fluctuations.

Specifically, in the case of ETH, significant price action often poses a threat to the price of NFTs. As ETH rises, many traders opt to take profits or, at the very least, reconfigure their portfolios to use ETH as a safe haven for market volatility. In other cases, collectors might attempt to offload some NFTs at floor prices or seek out major sale opportunities (like a sub-30 ETH Ape), further influencing the market.

Of course, it truly is anyone’s guess where the NFT space will be even a year from now. But with market factors in mind, creators, collectors, and builders alike would do well to be mindful of the changing NFT landscape and remember why the creators of culture began flocking to the blockchain in the first place.

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