Houseparty App ~ Video Chat With up to 8 People!

I have been disappointed over the recent years with how little my teens communicate with their friends in a manner that does not involve texting. Nobody actually calls each other any more. Just as our mothers and grandmothers before us, I began to accept the changing times. The tide has turned though with the entrance of a video chat App. Its name is Houseparty, and it’s more than welcome on our devices!

Houseparty App

The appeal of Houseparty is that you can video chat with up to 8 people at a time. Now my teens are having ‘face to face’ conversations. Sometimes they have a bunch of friends on there just doing homework together, other times they are all chatting to make a decision on a weekend outing, and quite frankly most of the time they are just checking in on each other with short quick hangouts. Of course, they added the App to my phone and created my own account, because they are always trying to keep their mama hip. The problem that arose for me though, is that when adding friends for me to ‘party’ with, absolutely no one in my contacts has this App. That, my friends, is why I am sharing this with you. We once again have an App taking the teenage world by storm that adults don’t know about!

Apps for Video Chatting

I love the subtle red solo cup.

I see this App being incredibly fun and useful for my various groups of friends from near and far, as well as for family visits with international relatives. With its ability to include up to 8 people at a time though, Houseparty is actually a strong business tool as well.

fun facts

Lori in the House!

As soon as you open the App you will be shown your previous activity and you are then greeted with an added bonus…a fun fact! Also, upon entering the App your friends will get a pop-up notification on their phone letting them know that you are there. “Lori’s in the house!” They can then choose to go join you.

Houseparty App

A Party of Three (blurry action screen shot!)

As friends or co-workers join you in the house, the screen will continue to split. This gives me a chuckle every time as it reminds me of the Brady Bunch opening! If you notice the red banner at the bottom, it says that the room has been locked. This function closes the chat and no one else will be notified or allowed to enter. You activate the locking feature by clicking on the 3 dots you see in the bottom left corner of the photo above. This is needed, as everyone in your Houseparty contacts will get notified every time you enter the App. I would suggest you create a separate account for business and personal contacts. It is possible to turn off notifications though in your settings.

Houseparty Feedback

If you ever have any trouble or would like to give feedback simply shake your phone and select a prompt.

That’s the main tour of the house! It’s very user friendly and simple to navigate. I hope it brings you some great ‘face to face’ interactions.

Prisma: Turning Photos Into Works of Art

Transforming a Photo with Prisma

Prisma-ing a photo of Alouette Lake.

If you have found yourself looking at all the artistic images that your friends have been sharing on social media the past few months and find yourself wishing you had such artistic talents too, I will let you in on a little secret … most of the beautiful artistic images circulating social media have been created with the aid of a mobile app, Prisma. Translation: you too can create some of these incredible works of art without attending art school.

Basically Prisma is a mobile app that provides filters to transform your photographs into works of art using the styles of famous artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Levitan, as well as world famous ornaments and patterns.

To use Prisma on your photos, once you’ve downloaded the app to your smartphone, simply open the app and select a photo from your camera roll or take a new photo, and then tap the different filters and watch each one transform your photo into a different work of art.

Take for example the preceding image that Lori took at Alouette Lake, by playing with it in Prisma, I transformed it into the following works of art …

Dream Filter

Prisma Dream Filter of Alouette Lake

Waves Filter

Prisma Waves Filter of Alouette Lake

Paper Art Filter

Prisma Paper Art Filter of Alouette Lake

Coloured Sky Filter

Prisma Coloured Sky Filter of Alouette Lake

Prisma Tips and Tricks

Prisma also allows you to manipulate the intensity of the filters by running your finger left (to increase the filter’s intensity) or right (to decrease the filter’s intensity).

Altering Prisma filter intensity.

If you want to see your original photo next to your new Prisma artwork, swipe downward with your finger on the image. Swiping back upwards with your finger on the image will restore just the Prisma artwork.

Prisma Side by Side Images

By clicking on the cog icon in the top corner, you can enable or disable Prisma to ‘save your original photos’ (those you take while using the app), ‘save your Prisma artwork automatically’, and ‘turn on/off the Prisma watermarks’ on your Prisma artwork.

Prisma Settings

You can also save your Prisma artwork right after creating it, by clicking on the downward arrow icon underneath the artwork after you create it, and/or share it directly to Instagram and/or Facebook by clicking on the Instagram and/or Facebook icons underneath your Prisma artwork.

Saved!

Finally, if you wish to share the image elsewhere – to dropbox, via email, to Google+ or Twitter … etc – simply click on the upward arrow icon underneath your Prisma artwork.

Prisma Sharing

Have fun creating … err … Prisma-ing!

 

Quizlet ~ A Handy Study Tool

I’m past the point in parenting where I need to search and find tools to help my kids with their studying. They find innovative ways to help themselves! When I saw my daughter on her phone, I’m pretty sure I said something to the effect of, “Hey Missy! Shouldn’t you be studying?!” To which she gave me the stink eye and replied, “I am!” She has been preparing for her tests using an App called Quizlet.

Within Quizlet, you can create your own flashcards and then use them in a variety of ways to practice. I think this could be a great tool for any of us taking professional development courses.

digital flashcards

You can create your own flashcards by entering the terms and definitions you are trying to study.

Once your flashcards are made you can study them in a variety of ways, but another great feature of this App is being able to search general topics and study off of flashcards and study sets other users have made.

Quizlet

If, for example, you search ‘Computers’, you will find a list of already made study cards to choose from.

 

ready made flashcards

Once you select a set of terms to learn you have the option to read through them all and learn the concepts. You can then practice in the variety of ways shown on the top tabs. These same methods are available to you within your own study sets that you create.

 

study tools

This is an example of one of the study games where you need to click on matching squares.

You can use the test mode as many times as you like until you feel confident. I regularly see my daughter running through terms on her phone in the backseat of the car on the way to school. You have the option to join the App as a teacher where you could create your own study sets for students of yours to use. They have even launched an interactive feature called Quizlet Live! This has been a great study tool in our house so I wanted to pass it along to you. No intentions of putting the cue card people out of business! If you have other go-to tools we’d love to hear about them as well.

Instacollage : Apps My Kids Use

Instead of sharing a whole album of photos, I’ve noticed that my kids compile their favourite shots from an event and share them as just one photo collage.  It’s something they’re always excited to do when we get home.  They sit on the couch and go through all the pics we took, then go about creating their work of art.  I actually like this process because, rather than mindlessly uploading everything all at once to an album, they spend a long time reminiscing about the day and then enjoy a period of creativity.  The App they have come to love for this is Instacollage.

This is a free App, which actually provides a lot of options within it.  You start by selecting the layout you want to use.  This works best if you’ve already decided on how many photos you will be using.  There are standard straight line options, as well as many other interesting shape combinations.

This is only a small sampling of options.  If you swipe to the right while on this screen (which you can do several times), you will have even more to choose from.

This is only a small sampling of options. If you swipe to the right while on this screen (which you can do several times), you will have even more to choose from.

Once you’ve chosen the layout the fun begins! You upload your chosen photos either one at a time or all at once.  You can resize them and move them around.  You can play around with background colours and add text or special effects! You pretty much have the option to change the colour of everything.

 This is the beginning of a collage I'm thinking about making to showcase all the meals I've cooked with pumpkin so far this year!

This is the beginning of a collage I’m thinking about making to showcase all the meals I’ve cooked with pumpkin so far this year!

Adding the finishing touches is the best part.  There are multiple frames to outline your collage and the kids love the ‘stick’ feature which allows you to place fun and quirky stickers anywhere you like. Decision making has never really been my thing, so I spent quite a long time creating my first Instacollage!

Here it is! My first one made with guidance from the kids using shots from our garden! I love the white picket fence.

Here it is! My first one made with guidance from the kids using shots from our garden! I love the white picket fence.

Within the App you have the option to share your collage directly to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, your camera roll, email, and Flickr.

That’s the inside teen scoop from my house to yours!

Do you have a different collage app that you like to use? We’d love to hear about it, and what you like about it!

Video Star : Apps My Kids Use

This is the first post of a new monthly series on Apps My Kids Use, keeping a tune to what’s keep our kids amused in our mobile world.

I will sometimes see my kids using a new App that I have never heard of and the next thing you know, all of their friends are using it and soon after the app becomes a big deal and a household name.  My kids are currently in high school, by the way, for a bit of age context here.  Later we shall get Erica adding to this column with apps that her much younger nieces and nephews use.  Some Apps ignite a strong addiction while others are over and done with and deleted quickly.  One App that has been used consistently in our house for over a year now is Video Star.  It has become a means of creating memories of family vacations and momentous outings, not to mention the great babysitting tool it has been for them to entertain kids!

Video Star

Within the Video Star App you create a music video.  You select a song from your own iTunes account, select a special effect to use for your scene, record a little action and stop when you are done.  When you are ready to record your next scene the App will automatically continue where you left off in the song.  This is amazing, because it allows you to film at different locations, even days apart and not have to do any editing!

Here’s a video that I made for Erica on the occasion of her birthday.  In her honour I was as silly as I could be!

You can see how this would be perfect for travel, as you can take a short clip of each place you go and end up with a music video showcasing memories from your whole vacation.  I feel you could even take this App into the business world. For example, if you are working on a film, TV, or theatrical show, you could use Video Star to get some fun behind the scenes clips to share with everyone at the end of the show.  You could certainly prepare some fun material for presentations, and get students up and active during workshops.

The only downfall with Video Star is that for sharing purposes you need to upload it to YouTube in order to maintain the digital quality.  Sharing with others via email or messaging sends a very grainy low quality version.  I hope you give yourself permission to have some fun and maybe capture a video to paste a smile on the face of your family, friends or staff this Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, or other winter holiday! As Erica will tell you, it makes the perfect gift!