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How a dev who couldn’t code built one of world’s hottest photo apps

Merek Davis, gets mexturized. Photo: Merek Davis

Merek Davis gets mexturized. Photo: Merek Davis

Merek Davis is not a coder. The developer never even made an app before 2013. Yet on his first iOS at-bat, he hit an App Store grand slam with Mextures, his photo-editing app that quickly became one of the top photo apps of the year.

Mextures is like Photoshop for your iPhone, only easier to use. The app’s editing tools and formulas let you tweak and re-tweak pics, adding light leaks, textures and color gradients that can turn even your crappiest pics into something majestic.

It’s a bona fide hit, with some of the most-followed names on Instagram using Davis’ creation. But it almost never happened.

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Why iPad art is more than a passing fad — though you soon might smell it

Early doodles on the iPad looked a lot like this generation’s Etch-a-Sketch.

But in just a few years, after celebrated artists such as David Hockney have shown their iPad works in galleries, Apple’s revolutionary device has come into its own as a canvas.

The eclectic group of works above are finalists in the second annual Mobile Digital Art Exhibition (aka MDAC Summit 2014), an upcoming art-packed weekend of workshops and a celebration of digital art in Palo Alto, a stone’s throw from Apple headquarters. Take a gander and vote on them by July 31 for the People’s Choice Award.

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Siri’s new partner, a selfie toaster and the rest of this week’s hottest news

Long-time rivals Apple and IBM partnered up this week to work together on enterprise software, but what does this mean for Siri? If Apple’s trusty voice assistant gets together with IBM’s extremely intelligent A.I. Watson, it could be a beautiful “relationship.”

Watch today’s Cult of Mac news roundup to hear all the latest news and rumors about this potential Apple-IBM hookup, possible trouble in the iPhone 6 sapphire glass pipeline, a toaster that burns your selfies into bread and the rest of the week’s biggest stories.

Subscribe to Cult of Mac TV on YouTube to catch all our latest videos.

iPhone or Canon? A veteran photographer debates digital versus analog

During his 25-year career as a photographer, Dan Marcolina has captured moments of everyday despair and delight, from beaches and backyards to bus stations and wedding celebrations.

His work exhibits the ease of an inside joke or a knowing wink; the images are visual juxtapositions that live up to a high point of praise from Richard Avedon, who once commented that Marcolina makes images that aren’t “trying to be beautiful.”

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Rumor Report: What to expect from the Apple iWatch

While the iPhone 6 has sparked tons of speculation in the tech world, rumors regarding the alleged Apple smartwatch have as well. All the gossip and leaks about the long-rumored device, popularly referred to as the “iWatch,” have created big expectations for the company to meet.

In today’s video we take a look at all the rumors and get a good feeling of what an iWatch might look like when it’s revealed (possibly this October). If the reports are true, you’ll enjoy more than the average smartwatch as you track blood pressure, hold FaceTime calls and more, all on an amazing device that redefines wrist wear.

Subscribe to Cult of Mac TV on YouTube to catch all our latest videos.

New frontier for the sharing economy: attics and basements

 Jonathan Gillon, Co-Founder/CEO, of Roost

Jonathan Gillon, co-founder and CEO of Roost, wants to help you stash your stuff. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — The latest innovation of the so-called sharing economy seems perfect for this city’s hypercompetitive rental market, where tiny apartments go for outrageous sums and space is at a premium.

Sort of like Airbnb for storage, new startup Roost connects people who need to stow some stuff — furniture, boxes of books, whatever — with individuals with room to spare in an attic or garage.

The company was founded by Jon Gillon, who came up with the idea after his older brother moved here from Texas with a Subaru full of stuff.

“We improvised,” Gillon told Cult of Mac. “I made room in my apartment in exchange for drinks and dinner. When his place was ready we were like, ‘This is a great idea.’ The light bulb went on.”

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Cryptic Twitter account sparks hunt for hidden Bitcoin

sfhiddenbitcoin

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a new kind of gold hidden in the hills of this city: A mysterious Twitter account is leading locals on a treasure hunt for Bitcoin.

The folks behind @SFHiddenBitcoin, which has been active since July 1, are hot on the heels of @HiddenCash, the Twitter account that made news doling out the dough of a real estate mogul.

While judges debate whether Bitcoin is money and crashing economies around the globe fear the virtual currency’s wake, it’s the coin of the realm in certain circles here. If you can handle being a “cyphervegan,” you can basically already live on Bitcoin.

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Man, I frikkin’ love this versatile folding bike by Brompton

Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Brompton’s not a new bike. It’s not even new to me. But it is the best folding bike around, and it will change how you travel long distances, too. I’ve had mine ever since I recovered enough from a broken leg (busted playing bike polo) to hobble up to the local bike shop and order one. That was a few years ago, and since then the bike has come with me to three different continents, traveling on planes, trains, trams, automobiles and buses.

You can even ride it to the airport and pack it up when you get there.

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7 tips for making your live demo not suck

Myles Weissleder Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Myles Weissleder of SF New Tech. Portrait: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — Myles Weissleder has witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to startup demos.

The former VP of public affairs at Meetup.com presides over SF New Tech, a showcase for disruptive hopefuls that he’s run for more than eight years. Over 750 companies including SkyBox, Twilio, Prezi, Flipboard and Twitter have come to his networking mixer to demo before a live audience in a trendy SOMA club.

In San Francisco’s competitive startup environment, you can demo your game-changing idea (or Pet Rock app) every night of the week, but SF New Tech is one of the longest-running and largest showcases. Wannapreneurs face a few hundred audience members — many of them from influential companies like Apple or venture capital firms like CMEA capital — where the mingling is fueled by drinks and tacos.

During a recent demo night, Cult of Mac sat down with the indefatigable Weissleder, who is as at home on the stage with a mic as he is hobnobbing at the bar, to get his top tips on how not to bomb when you take the stage with your great idea, hoping to find cash and connect with influencers.

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Bringing imaginary cities to life with the iPad

Watkins holds a fingerpainting titled It's a long way up featured at an exhibit in Verona, Italy.

iPad artist Matthew Watkins holds a finger painting titled It’s a long way up, which is featured in an exhibit in Verona, Italy.

Matthew Watkins has brought iPad finger paintings into the real world in more formats than any other artist we know.

His digital artwork has made the leap into the tangible on carpets, cars, plexiglass and the more usual prints, videos, books and live installations at fashion shows and art events. Watkins, who lives in Southern Italy — by way of Manchester, England, and a childhood spent in Toronto — uses his personal peregrinations as a source of inspiration for his ongoing series on imaginary cities, which hovers between utopia and dystopia.

“I’m drawn to urban decay and architectural artifacts,” Watkins says of the works that were on display in a recent exhibit at Verona’s Palazzo Gran Guardia. “I’ve drawn buildings and cities since I was a child. As a teenager I would draw my own imaginary worlds. I still do.”

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