vulture bytes

Vulture Bytes: Apps for Beginner D.J.’s and Perfect Panorama Photos

Vulture Bytes is coming to you this week from 38,000 feet off the ground, where both of our seatmates are on their iDevices, distracting themselves from the reality that they’re moving hundreds of miles an hour inside of a giant metal tube. As always, we have five distractions of our own to offer: a photo app that makes everything look good and wide, an app that gives you all the news about bands you actually listen to, a D.J. app for beginners, a free copy of Shazam, and a way to make sure you never hear Kim Kardashian speak ever again.

Pretty soon it’s going to be inexcusable to take boring photos. Every week it seems there’s a new photo app that radically changes the way we think about what our smartphones — and, better yet, we — can do. The latest: Pano, an app for Android that lets you stitch together as many as sixteen photos into one really amazing panoramic picture. Supposedly it works really well (Vulture Bytes isn’t an Android user), detecting and erasing something that’s on the border of one shot but not the other, which is where these panoramic shots can often get amateur. There’s an iPhone version, too, but Gizmodo reports that for now it’s using an older version of the software that doesn’t piece together the pictures nearly as well. So, you Android people: go climb a mountain, take a stunning 360 picture of a sunset, and mail it to Vulture Bytes? Make us snobby iPhone users jealous.PRICE: $2
If you go to the Future of Journalism conferences that Vulture Bytes often finds itself in, you’ll hear a lot about the future of curated news. The optimists will tell you that in the future/present, everyone will want to read news because it will be curated to our exact desires. Facebook will know that we share things about Breaking Bad, so it will be sure to surface any link one of our friends shares about the show. The pessimists will tell you that that kind of curation actually prevents people from getting the news that they want, since they don’t know what they want until they discover it. Vulture Bytes, by nature a crochety Luddite, has always fancied itself belonging to the latter cabal. But then we saw Bandito, an ingenious little app from Public Radio Exchange that scans your own music library to bring you news about the artists in it. It’s a better RSS feed than you could ever hope to put together yourself. It’ll do an even better job at giving you the news you want to read than Vulture does. And that’s saying something.PRICE: Free
MiniMash is what would happen if Playskool made a D.J. app. It looks like it was designed in 1982, with an uneven font, graphics that would make the original Nintendo look good, and an interface that’s far simpler than even analog D.J. decks. But hiding behind the simple front is a pretty robust D.J. app for beginners, a program that’ll help you build an intuition about which songs work well together and which don’t match up. After you install it, MiniMash analyzes your music library to gather the speed of each song’s beat and help you blend them the right way. You can crossfade, loop, set tempo, and a bunch of other things budding D.J.’s will want to mess around with. When you perfect your mix, record it, upload it, and brag about it until your friends tell you to get a new hobby.PRICE: $2
Next time you’re at Starbucks, order your Americano with a Shazam on the side. Starbucks has started to give away apps the way it gives away music. “Pick of the Week” app cards are probably hanging out somewhere near your barista, and this week they’re giving away Shazam Encore, the name-that-tune app that was one of the first things on the iPhone that really made people say “wow.” Starbucks won’t say whether the promotion is going to extend beyond Shazam, whether it’s replaced the company’s free music program, or how the apps get selected. But for now, who cares! It’s free! (Besides it furthering your connection to a place where you spend $20 a week on caffeine and/or $50 a month trying to get coffee stains out of your clothes.)PRICE: Usually Shazam Encore costs $6; depending on your coffee order, the Starbucks promo will cost you less than that.
Vulture Bytes: Apps for Beginner D.J.’s and Perfect Panorama Photos