App Watch: iPad messaging, speedy news reading and reinvented music albums


App Watch: July 29, 2014

We've got lots of creative apps in the hopper this week, from the comic-book-artist-friendly Procreate 2.1 to the art-sharing app August. There's also stuff for metadata-hungry photographers, as well as a note-card app for screenwriters. Get to work.

Procreate 2.1

Procreate, already my favorite painting app on the iPad, just got a huge update. A few highlights are the new color wheel for selecting shades, with pinch-to-zoom for even more accurate picking; ColorDrop, which auto-fills color areas for you; and a new Reference Layer, which lets you designate a layer as a kind of template for filling other layers. Thus, you can make a color-fill layer under your line art, still using that line art as the reference for the fills. I love Procreate, and it keeps on getting better. $6

Together for iOS

Together for iOS syncs with the venerable OS X version, giving an Evernote-like everything-bucket that you can use and access anywhere. Create text files, add photos and import documents from other apps, then tag them and let them sync with the Mac version (and other iOS versions) over iCloud. iCloud sync means you’ll need the Mac App Store version of Together to make it work. It looks fantastic, and way easier to use than Evernote. The only problem is that it can’t search inside any of your documents. $10

Telegram HD

Slick, secure and open messaging app Telegram has just been updated with a native iPad version. The already-impressive app now brings GIF support, broadcast lists and an iPad-friendly interface, along with the same great cross-platform access, letting you read your messages anywhere, even on the Web. Free


PhotoMeta shows you everything about your photos that the iOS photos app doesn’t. You can view all EXIF data, from shutter speed and aperture to the direction you were facing when you took the shot. You can even browse photos from your Dropbox, and this latest update to the app lets you view the focus points your camera used. $3


Summbot summarizes the news for quick reading. That is, it takes a link as input, parses the page and gives you a processed summary, a short version. I can think of a few sites I’d like to try this on. The problem is that you need to paste a link into the app for every page, easily wasting any time you might save from reading the condensed view. With any luck, this will be turned into a fuller-featured app in a later version. $1


Matter is a 3-D version of Pixite’s other amazing photo apps. Instead of adding stripes and patterns to your pictures like LoryStripes or Tangent, Matter adds 3-D objects to your 2–D photos. You can even animate them, and the objects reflect the lighting around them. I don’t often add strips and patterns to my photos, but when I want to, I reach for the Pixite folder on my iPad or iPhone. $2


Celtx Cards

If you’re already in the (minimum $10-per-month) world of Celtx screenwriting apps, you’ll want to take a look at the new Celtx Cards, an ultra-simple index card app for the iPhone and iPad. Each card gets a title, a big text field and tags. You can color code the cards, and drag to rearrange them. And – if you have a Celtx account – you can sync them with your other Celtx apps. Seeing as sync is the biggest hurdle for all other index card apps I’ve tried, the fact that this integrates closely with other apps is a huge selling point. Free


August is a new kind of social network, kind of a hyper-focused Tumblr or an Instagram without the cute cats. With added music and film. The idea is that artists posts their photos, music and videos to their August streams, and followers can either save that stuff to their own streams or share to other places (Twitter and Facebook etc.) Thus you might follow someone who has great taste, but produces nothing of their own. The service is currently accepting requests for invites.


Islander is Norwegian musician Jarle Bernhoft’s new take on the music album for 2014. The app contains 48K 24-bit versions of the tracks, but that’s not all. You can also interact with the music using a virtual mixing console, and even add your own percussion. This combines with liner notes and all the other ephemera a music nerd could want. Plus, if every musician goes in this direction, you will have the added problem of finding an album on your iPad – just like finding a vinyl record in a stack on the floor. It’s so damn authentic. $20

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


The iPad is a powerful machine for art.

Check out the 10 finalists in the 2014 Mobile Arts and Creativity Summit and vote for your favorite.

The Old Fox

Jaime Sanjuan Ocabo made this piece with Procreate.

Flowers Dancing in Sunlight

By Linda Pahl, created with My Brushes and Percolator apps.

Golden Ratio

Deborah McMillion used Sketchbook Pro to create this work.

The Birth of the Universe

By Anton Muraviev using app Paper FiftyThree.

Fishin' for Trouble

This scene by Wayman Stairs was made with the Snapseed, Alien Sky and Lens Light apps.

Eagle Eye

This was made with Procreate by Andrew Frey.


Strength Of A Man

Dion Pollard created this work with app Artrage.

Cubitt (2014)

Created by Roz Hall using Fresh Paint.

Sydney Town Hall

By Nori Tominaga, created with the Brushes app.

Lil' Hoot

Jeff Hebert made this with Sketchbook Pro.

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.

Five Apps To Take Your iPad Art From Boring To Beautiful



If your iPad doodles are a little primitive, there are a few apps that can get you canvasing the art greats from Caravaggio to Picasso and creating some deft original strokes of your own.

So says Sumit Vishwakarma in a talk for Macworld/iWorld 2013, adding that if you’re willing to forgo one cinnamon latte at Starbuck’s, that money spent in apps will take your work to the next level.

Vishwakarma is an iPad art advocate whose work has been featured at the first Mobile Art Festival in Los Angeles, the Apple flagship store in San Francisco, and the Mobile Creativity & Innovation Symposium. He also teaches free workshops to promote iPad art and animation to kids, teens and adults.

Here are his top picks:

HEX3’s JaJa Is The Sonic Stylus Doctor Who Would Use [Review]



HEX3's JaJa is one of the first pressure-sensitive styluses on the market, and it is also the most unique. Instead of using low-power Bluetooth 4 to talk to your iPad, it uses high-frequency sound. This not only lets it work with the iPad 1 (or any capacitive-screened device whether iOS or Android), but means that the battery lasts for weeks.

I have been testing one out for a month or so now, and some big apps have now added support. So how does it do?