Archived posts: iPhone


Over the weekend we had a bit of a play with the new iPhone photo sharing app Rando, produced by digital design studio Ustwo as an exercise in “just fucking doing it” – getting something up and running in super quick time.

The app is a stripped back from of photosharing – when you take a shot, it is automatically cropped within a circle. You can’t edit your shot, can’t add any filters, can’t name it nor tag it. You can’t like anyone elses shots, can’t follow any users, can’t set up a profile.

If you’re happy with the picture you’ve taken, you upload it, and it is sent at random to one other user of the app. They aren’t told any information about you or the image, other than being shown roughly where it was taken (so they’ll know which city you’re in, but nothing more).

Once you’ve sent a shot, you are sent a shot from someone else in return – you give and you receive.

It’s a peculiar experience, and initially at least, oddly addictive. You keep hoping that the next shot that loads up will be something unexpected, or beautiful, or funny. Or a glimpse into a life entirely different from your own. And there’s a vague feeling that you should try to make your own shots as interesting as possible. Give something good and karma dictates that you’ll get something good in return.

From a creative point of view, the circular format is really refreshing, forcing you to depart from standard rectangular compositions.

Interestingly, given the voyeuristic / exhibitionist format, it so far doesn’t seem to have descended into an endless stream of porn. Perhaps the folks at ustwo are just policing it carefully for now.

Anyway. Sort of pointless. Sort of fun.

Flickr’s new iPhone App

Well, it’s been a longtime coming, but Flickr have finally pulled a decent iPhone app out of the bag, and it’s looking Instagram square in the face.

It combines Flickr’s great sharing & viewing functionality with a fairly solid camera application (following hot on Twitter’s heels, using the SDK from the folks at Aviary).

It shoots at full iPhone size (2448 x 3264 pixels on the iPhone 5’s main camera, above; 960 x 1280 pixels on the front facing camera, below).

Before you take the shot, you can take a light reading from one place, and focus on another (drag your fingers apart on your phone’s screen to do that), set a background grid to straighten your shot, and zoom in (though that’s an artificial zoom, you’re really just cropping into the pixels).

Once you’ve taken your shot, before it’s saved, the app lets you play around with some admittedly rather arbitrarily named filters, as well as make various adjustments: cropping, brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness. You can also add some very basic text, do some basic drawing, add brightness and fix blemishes. All of that while keeping the image at full size (though you can set it to be smaller in the settings if you want).

Once you’re done editing, you upload the image (it only saves to the camera roll at this point, which speeds things up, but can lead to you thinking you’ve saved a shot that you haven’t).

You can upload directly to Flickr of course, with all your tags in place, and send it to all the Groups and Sets you fancy at the same time. Rather neatly, at the same time as it loads to Flickr, you can send the image to Twitter (works well on the native app, but not at all on a third party app like TweetDeck) and Facebook (the images are hi-res, and dumped into a Flickr Photos album on your page).

Once you’ve finished shooting, you can do all the browsing you’d expect too – that’s Alistair’s Signs and lettering set below.

Good work Flickr.

Dickens Dark London

You’d be hard pressed not to have noticed it, but this year is the 200 year anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birthday. The Museum of London is hosting a major exhibition about his life, and to coincide with that, they’ve created a rather delicious iPhone & iPad app called Dickens Dark London.

The app is an interactive graphic novel, illustrated by the frankly brilliant David Foldvari, and based on Dickens’ Sketches by Boz. It will run to five issues (just the first one is available so far), each one centred on a different location. As well as Foldvari’s stunning images, the app includes excerpts from the sketches, read in gravelly tones by the actor Mark Strong; as well as a map that shows story locations on a map from 1862, which overlays the standard Google Maps.

The first issue (available free) is set in Covent Garden’s Seven Dials – here are a few of the pages:

Simply stunning.

Ace Jet 170 on pigeons, planes, and asterisks in the sky

~ While Alistair is away cycling the length of Great Britain, we’ve invited twenty disgustingly talented people to each write a post for our blog. Today’s post is from the inimitable Richard Weston, the man behind the brilliant Ace Jet 170 blog. ~

207. That’s how many people know I am crazy about Instagram at the moment. Naturally nosey, it fits me like the proverbial hand attire. Spare moments, and some that aren’t actually spare, are spent peering into places I should probably not peer for potential Insta-fodder. Down darkened allies, over rooftops, into murky rivers. So far, it hasn’t got me into trouble.

On the surface Instagram looks like a gimmicky, fake retro photo filtering application. Masking, as it does, bloody awful photos in old-style falseness. You probably know of it, even if you don’t use it. Because I use it frequently, every day, I find it hard to imagine you aren’t at least aware of it and its auto-counterfeitery.

Perhaps you’re like I used to be. At first, I was repelled by Instagram’s faux photo styling. There’s no craft in it. You point, you click, you pick a filter. But hang on. Your crap photo, surprisingly, looks better. It really does. Often, not just better; more than better.

But the reality is, Instagram is much more than a tricksy little app for polishing your photographic turds. Photo sharing is ace. Arguably way more fun, certainly more intimate, than Twitter; it is the natural successor to moment-sharing-as-text. Especially for snoopers.

So we can show people what we’re seeing. We can show off a bit (hey, look where I am! / look what I’ve got!). And we can collect instances because we can feed them, effortlessly, straight into Flickr or Facebook. Or even into more purpose-built diarising apps like Momento.

And like the way Twitter can make you think more about the words you use and can act as a channel for those thoughts you have that are of no real value to anyone, Instagram can encourage you to look around more and snap the things you would ordinarily smile at and forget. Like the flock of pigeons that circle overhead, the planes that fly over our studio, and the asterisks in the sky.


~ Alistair is raising money for Cancer Research UK during his ride – please wander over to his Just Giving page and donate a little cash. ~

Wallpapering your iPhone

The new iPhone 4 has a lush high resolution screen which is 640 x 960 pixels, so we figured the time was right to create a few new wallpapers to add to the existing set we created for the iPhone 3. These ones are designed for the Lock Screen, rather than as background images for the Home Screen. If we get a bit of time, we’ll add a few more in the coming weeks… And in the meantime, check out Poolga for many more (you can specify which model you’re looking for at the top of the screen).

Guardian iPhone app



Well, this is just a whole bag of good. The Guardian have launched an app for the iPhone, and it feels like a real step towards those personalised newspapers futurologists have always dreamed about.

The app costs £2.39 to buy, launches fairly speedily, and lets you tailor the bits of the paper / site you want to read. The home page opens with a Latest section, which shows your choice of up to six filtered areas (we've chosen Top Stories, Culture, Features, Technology, UK News and Film – you select them using the settings icon at the top right of the screen) and a Trending section (as per Twitter). 

There's a shortcut menu at the bottom of the screen, which you can also personalise. The Favourites page (below, far left) lets you choose more sections to keep an eye on, and you can add in your favourite columnists too. 

Following the Art & Design section (below) as an example, you jump through to a page showing Editors Picks, Galleries, Features, Popular, and Audio (they've not got video on the app yet). Clicking on an individual story takes you through to its page, which is set at a fairly comfortable text size (you can increase it and decrease it if you're wildly long or short sighted), though the leading is perhaps just a tad tight? You can bookmark the story, and email it / facebook it using the Send icon at the bottom left of the page. You can also download content to read later on the tube / plane / beach.  


There are areas they've not included in this 1.0 version, including hyperlinks, commenting and video; and it's iPhone only for the time being, though they're working on rolling it out to other mobile operating systems. It's also UK only for now, apparently due to some complex EU tax rules. Check out the full FAQs.

We're loving it – total future goodness. Pick it up from iTunes.

(And heck, while you're there, check out the Google search app – the voice activated search function is super shiny.)

Drop Caps


Ah, now this is just type geekery gone bonkers.

Kern is the new iPhone game from FORMation, who are an "alliance of independent creators" based in Texas.

The game involves moving a letter along a base line so that it's in exactly the right spot to fit into the word that's dropping down onto it from above. And that's pretty much it. But it's been designed by Jason Franzen with a typographer's keen attention to detail, and it only costs 59p, so even if you only play it a few times (most likely in the pub when you're trying to outgeek some other type nut), it's hardly breaking the bank.

Ridiculous yet essential.

Thanks to Catherine Dixon for the heads up.

iPhone camera app goodness


So, for most designers, the iPhone is the mobile of choice. But for most of those designers, the phone's camera is, well, rubbish: just 2 megapixels, and a cruddy lens to boot.

But, help has arrived in the form of a couple of deeply tasty downloadable apps that let you process your shots on the phone. We've secured the services of two 'resting' members of top pop combo Gorillaz (2D and Murdoc) to demonstrate those apps.

First up is 2D and the delicious QuadCamera from Art&Mobile. This application lets you fire off a salvo of shots, just like you might with a Lomo Super Sampler toy camera. Utterly brilliant. You can adjust how fast they shoot; which layout they come in (a rectangle of four, four in a row, a rectangle of eight, or eight in a row); and whether they're colour or greyscale.


We've pushed the colour/contrast on the shots above (using Photoshop), but even without doing that, they look great.

Fantastically, once you've got them on your computer, you can download the free QuadAnimator application to create gif animations of your shots. Eat your heart out Michel Gondry. Can't wait to see the first promo shot like this…


Next up is Nevercenter's CameraBag app, which lets you apply some groovy filters to your shots, re-creating a whole variety of retro styles like Holga, Fisheye, and Lomo. (We're guessing there's some kind of copyright reason for them renaming Holga to Helga and Lomo to Lolo). It's still a bit buggy, but generally does great stuff. Here's a selection of shots of Murdoc using some of our favourites.

First up, the original shot:

Now, the Instant (Polaroid) version:


And the 1962 version:

And the Lolo version:

And finally, the Helga:


Lush eh? Check out the full size shots over at Alistair's iPhone Flickr set.

Thanks to 2D and Murdoc.
Clothing: Models' own
Styling, hair and makeup: Jamie Hewlett



The rather tasty little iPhone application FontShuffle has just hit town, courtesy of the folks at FontShop.

The app lets you browse through a selection of Font categories (sans serif, serif, slab serif, script, blackletter and display), and then to pick from a list of relevant sub-categories (so serif would take you to grotesque, humanist, geometric, gothic, decorative and hybrid), and then to a list of six of FontShop's available faces. Then, and this is oddly fun*, if you want to see a further six faces, you give the iPhone (or iTouch) a shake, and a new set pop up.

Select one of the typefaces and you'll get The Quick Brown Fox text in that face, swivel the screen to the landscape mode and you'll get the glyph chart.

This is the first version of the app, and at the moment it's just a friendly little marketing tool for FontShop, without any hugely practical uses. But they're promising to add more faces, and more functionality, so it could go somewhere very interesting. 

Cheers to Caspian for the heads up.

*If, like us, you don't get out much.

iPhone Wallpaper goodness


If you've got an iPhone (and if you're a designer, there's a 74.3% probability that you do have one), you'll be wanting it to look super lovely at all times. So how about some tasty'n'free wallpaper for it?

We've been playing around creating a series of wallpapers of our own (that's a few of them shown above), and you can check out the full collection on our Flickr set.

You might also want to take a look at the lovely Poolga site, which collects wallpapers from designers and illustrators all over the world for your viewing and downloading pleasure.

And the ever brilliant type and image library Veer have got a fine collection too.

We're guessing there must be stacks more out there, so if you know of any, or have some killer ones of your own, drop us a link in the comments.

Sharing is good.