AutoStitch – My New Favorite iPhone Panorama App

Back in November of 2008, I wrote up a quick review of two iPhone panorama stitching applications – Panorama vs. Pano. Shortly after that review, Panorama changed it’s interface, but it has remained my panorama app of choice. Until tonight.

Enter AutoStitch for iPhone.

AutoStitch appears to be based on the same core technology as my favorite desktop stitching application, Calico. It was almost two years ago to the day that I found a Mac application using the AutoStitch technology and AutoStitch for iPhone is a great way to celebrate that anniversary.

Unlike either Panorama or Pano, you can simply point Autostitch to photos you’ve already taken and it will automatically analyze the images to create the best panorama possible from them. This DRAMATICALLY reduces the time it takes to capture a panoramic image. There is no need to worry about accurate alignment. For the sample image below, I took 15 photos in quick succession. I only almost no care in making sure there was consistent overlap. Those photos were automatically saved to my iPhone photo album.

After launching Autostitch, you simply select the photos you want it to stitch together. AutoStitch has a “tutorial” on their site, but it’s not needed. Point it at your photos and let it rip. AutoStitch analyzed the photos and created a panorama from the images in short order.

Here are some screen captures from the process:

Select Your Photos img_0005

Here is the resulting image. (Click to view larger)

AutoStitch Example 1

And here is the cropped version. (Click to enlarge)

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It just doesn’t get any simpler than this. And don’t worry that your panoramic image doesn’t look very clear on your iPhone. When you get it to your computer you’ll find a nice surprise. As the AutoStich FAQ explains, “The iPhone Photos app limits the resolution at which it displays images. As it limits display resolution to a maximum in each image dimension, the display resolution can seem particularly low for long and narrow images.”

I’m going to have some fun with this app!

UPDATE: Here is a sample AutoStitch for iPhone photo set on Flickr. To demonstrate ease of use, took the 14 photos in 48 seconds.

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Twootball Falls Short Of Goal Line

When I saw the description for the Twootball iPhone App, a smile came to my face.

Twootball has one simple function – display a live stream twitter conversation about NFL teams, organized around the games for that week. The idea of sitting in front of an upcoming playoff game and easily meeting new people via conversations about the action on screen seemed like a no-brainer to me. So, even though I don’t usually interface with technology on Sundays, I downloaded the free app and waited to give it a whirl.

Selecting which game I wanted to have a conversation around was simple.

twootball-1 twootball-2

On first glance, it delivered just what I was hoping for. Unfortunately, the moment I went to reply to one of the tweets in the stream, I was disappointed. Nothing happened. I touched my finger to the screen several times. I expected a window to open giving me the ability to reply to the sender, or retweet their comment. Instead, nothing happened. I even restarted the app to make sure it hadn’t frozen in some way. No luck.

Without the ability to reply or retweet, Twootball becomes somewhat pointless. Especially since I can enter hashtags into Summizer, or even create a special football page on Tweetgrid, that would allow me to do exactly that with minimal effort. I was surprised to find that even on the Twootball.com website, replies and retweets are not possible. This seems like basic functionality to me.

I love the concept of Twootball, and the interface is nice, but I don’t want to simply watch a stream of comments. I want an easy way to engage in a conversation. In that regard, Twootball fumbles the ball.

Tweetie – My New Favorite iPhone Twitter App

I hate saying the name, but I love using Tweetie. Tweetie is a recent addition to the slew of Twitter applications available on the iPhone.

I’ve tried every Twitter application on the iPhone, including the favorites Twinkle, Twitterific, and Twittelator. I’ve even tried Tweetsville, TwitterFon and GPSTwit and fired off photos with Twitfire. But in the end, I always ended up coming back to Hahlo, a web-based Twitter client built specifically for the iPhone.

Why? Simplicity and the ability to separate “replies” from “direct messages.” I wish it were more complicated than that. It’s not. I don’t want my direct messages mixed in with my replies and I certainly don’t want them mixed into my friend stream, indicated only by color. I want to choose easily whether to reply in public or private and I want to be certain that choice is honored. Hahlo did all of that for me. Tweetsville does it as well, but doesn’t allow me to access replies on the main screen. And… the one feature that was missing from Hahlo, was the ability to retweet, to easily repost something interesting.

Tweetie gives me all of that and more.

It is has now replaced Hahlo on my main iPhone toolbar. Tweetie allows me to set up multiple Twitter accounts, as you can see below. That’s helpful. My only “complaint” is that they’ve gone overboard on the text bubbles. I’d like to see more tweets on screen at one time and the graphics are taking up too much space.

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That said, the fact that “Tweets,” “Replies,” and “Messages” are easily accessef from the main menu was the first clue that I was going to like this app. And when I choose to reply, the option buttons are large and easy to hit accurately. I can’t tell you how frustrating the small icons on most of the iPhone apps are to hit accurately.

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The ability to copy and paste links was an unexpected bonus! When you access a link in a tweet, it opens inside the Tweetie browser.

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The icon on the lower left then gives you the ability to either open the link in Safari or “post the link,” which copies a shortened URL into a new tweet. Sweet.

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Ahh, but there’s more. Easy access to Twitter Search features and trends. And a quick way to search for tweets directed at me, but not directly at me, via the “Search @ResPres” button.

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In addition, Tweetie allows me to save drafts and easily follow and favorite right from the app. Simply put, this is finally a Twitter iPhone App I can recommend. Now, if only Twitter would take the limits off the API. The reason I keep resorting to Search.Twitter.com, even on the iPhone, is this:

But I know it’s not Tweetie’s fault. So, my first click is on Tweetie now. If that fails, then my saved Twitter Search icons are my fallback plan. :)

iPhone Weather Apps

I guess you could say that I have turned into quite the iPhone app junkie lately. It’s almost a daily ritual to check what new apps have been published on the

iTunes App Store.  One of my interests is weather, and while Apple’s Weather application has a simple interface, it only provides current and forecasted temperatures.  Because one of my other hobbies is flying radio controlled gliders, I am also interested in wind forecasts.

MyWeather Mobile not only provides temperature forecast information, but it also provides temperature and wind speed forecast graphs that are easy to read.  The $9.99 price tag makes it one of the more expensive apps I’ve purchased, but it’s interface is easy to navigate and uncluttered.

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The Weather Channel also published an iPhone application earlier this month and while it contains much of the same information available in MyWeather Mobile, it  displays it in tabular form instead of a graph.  The hourly forecast screen shows the next 12 hours of temperature, precipitation, and wind and the 36-hour forecast screen shows summarized information for each day rather than each hour.  The Weather Channel iPhone application is currently free.

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I should point out that both apps will use your GPS location to show weather information for your current location in addition to the cities you manually add.

Wireless Mac Control Using An iPhone

I‘m writing this post on my Mac Pwerbook. That’s not news. I do it all the time. But since I injured my shoulder yesterday and can’t effectively use a keyboard or mouse, i’m controlling my Powerbook with my iPhone.

I’m usung Air Mouse, the clear winner in my quick search for an option that would allow me to work using my right index finger. It beat out Snatch. And it’s wasn’t even a close competition.

Snatch

While the Snatch touchpad is larger and allows for multi-touch control, it has several problems. First, the multi-touch is finicky. It performs only ome of the time, which forces you to switch to the scrolling control screen to scroll inside windows. Second, the mouse position control is not accurate. a lot of time is spent getting the mouse to the correct position on the screen. And third, the keyboard is hidden away on yet another screen. Snatch simply requires too much effort. The two main control screens are shown below.

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Air Mouse

In stark contrast, Air Mouse places most of the controls you need on one screen (see below). Two buttons, a scroll wheel, track pad and keyboard are all on screen at the same time. It is all I needed to type this post, and upload photos.

The cursor control is extremely accurate and responsive. And it acts as you would expect it to. Taps and double taps on the track pad respond just like the Powerbook trackpad. And the secondary control screen gives me access to my programmed mouse options.

After one evening of use, i’m now comfortably conrolling every aspect of this process with my right arm pinned against my chest, leaning back comfortably and without moving my shoulder at all. Air Mouse allows me to work. I would have been severely limited without it!