Author: Jason Lykins

Jason is a Photographer and all around tech guy. Jason is also the owner of Jason Lykins Photography. Follow him on Twitter @JasonLPhoto or on Facebook.

A Digital Take on a Classic Kids Game


When I was a kid I distinctly remember having a game that had a row of "Jack in the boxes" each with a different switch that released the hidden shape or animal to pop up through the trap door. Each of the switches was different. One would be a round button that you pushed, one would be a toggle switch that you flipped, one would be a nut that you turned, etc. My twins even had a variation of this when they were 2 or so and they're only 5. Now we have it on the iPad but only better! Kids Place brings you Peekaboo Pets, an interactive learning tool designed to teach kids animal names, sound and picture correlation.

Just like the traditional game, each animal has a different button that requires a different movement. This does two things. First, it keeps things different for the kids so they don't get bored, and second, it helps with fine motor skills. Whether it's a switch or a button, the movement is never too difficult.

Once the animal is released from the trap door, the sound that it makes is played through the speaker or headphones. Touching the picture below the animal plays the sound again, and if you're kids are like mine, it will play it again, and again, and again… Touching the name of the animal below the switch plays the animal's name. This is my only complaint about the App. It sounds like the narrator sounds to be from England which, makes some of the pronunciations a little "different" than what we are used to.

The Bottom Line

This is a simple App. Sometimes however, the simple Apps are the most effective. This is one of those Apps. It's so simple that it is really, really effective in teaching animal names, pictures, and sounds to toddlers. If you have a toddler, it's a definite must have. This is a universal binary meaning that it will work on both the iPhone and iPad. The layout is exactly the same and I wrote this review kind of late so I didn't have any screen shots to show you.


You can get Peekaboo Pets for the iPad and iPhone from the iTunes store for $1.99 here: iTunes


500px for iPad Has Arrived!


If you're a photographer and you're online you've probably heard about the new photo sharing/social media service 500px. It's touted as the new photo sharing site for professionals and I have to agree. I've been using 500px for a few months now and I have to tell you that I'm hooked. Not only is the quality of the photography better than sites like Flickr and Image bucket, but there is constantly a fresh supply of quality photos on every genre which keeps me inspired. My buddy Scott Kelby did a write up on the site, and how it works a month or so ago which you can find here. I'm not going to repeat Scott's write up and explain how the super advance algorithm keeps the photos fresh and of good quality but if you're interested you should head over and read how it works, it's worth the click. The initial iPad App offering from 500px is a really good one, albeit lacking a few key features that I would like to see added. If you're not already on 500px you can go here to sign up for a free account. Once you do, don't forget to see some of my stuff and follow me here.


This App is made for Viewing

The first thing that you notice when you launch the 500px App is the beautiful way it handles viewing photos from the 500px site. The App presents a beautiful grid layout of the "popular images" (which is selected by default).  Other sections to view include Editors picks (these are the images that the editors have chosen as favorites), Upcoming images (this is pretty self explanatory, these are the images that are moving up in the rankings quickly), Fresh images (these are images that have recently been uploaded), You (these are your images, Friends (again, self explanatory these are your friends images), and favorites (your favorite images).  Each of these sections brings up the images contained within in a grid view both horizontally or vertically (depending on iPad orientation). Double tapping an image brings it full sized on the screen. It also brings up the photographer's name, the image title, and it's rating. It also brings up the number of views, votes, and faves. Also on the full screen view is the ability to favorite, to vote for, and to leave comments on the image.


From the full screen view of any image in any section within the 500px App lies the ability to play a slideshow of every image contained within that collection. You can choose the transition type between images, the slide duration, as well as music for the slideshow.



There are 5 options for sharing images from the 500px App. Natively it supports Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler, and email. The 500px App also allows you to open an image in Safari which in turn allows you to copy the direct link to the photo for use anywhere.


What I'd like to see

Just like any App, there are things that need to be improved upon. 500px is a photo sharing website, however the option to upload images directly from your iPad is curiously missing. This App is designed for image viewing only. The only thing I can guess is that they are trying to restrict the images to better quality and they feel that to keep that quality they need to restrict people to uploading images from their computer instead of their mobile device. I don't know that for sure, but it's just my guess. Hopefully one of their developers will read this review and fill us in on the thought process in the comment section. The other glaring omission that I see in this App is the ability to see the profile of your friend's or all other user's profiles for that matter. On the site each member is given room to tell about themselves, where they're from, what gear they use etc. No where on this App is there the ability to see those things. I would venture to say that it will be added in future updates since this is the first version, but only time will tell.


The Bottom Line

If you love 500px as much as I do, then you have to get this App for your iPad. The ability to view your images on the go, on what many consider to be the best image viewing device in the world makes it well worth the 30 seconds that it takes to download, and the small amount of space that it occupies on your iPad.


Get 500px for the iPad from the iTunes store here: iTunes


A Simple Easy to use Model Release App for Photographers


If you're a photographer, you should use a model release. Done deal. No doubt about it. No question. In the past (before smartphones) I carried a stack of paper model releases with me in my camera bag along with a bunch of pens. Whenever I shot ANY person (I do mean anyone), I would have them, or if they were under 18 their parents, sign a physical model release. This was a pain in the butt, not only to physically carry them, but also to organize and store them. With the invent of the smartphone and later the iPad, the need to keep physical model releases is no more. Up until recently, I was using a release App that was sufficient but also very tedious and had a little "too many" features. I wanted a model release App that was simple, strait to the point, and easy to use. Release Me answers that need better than any other I've found.


Make it Easy

My biggest complaint with many of the other model release Apps has always been that there was so much to fill out on a shoot by shoot basis that it took up way too much time. I shoot primarily people, I shoot in the USA always, I don't have multiple studio names or brands, and I almost always give the model copies of the images for their own portfolios. With previous Apps, I would have to select or enter each of those things above that almost NEVER changed. Release Me has made this process simple. I fill out (before hand) my standard model release, I enter the model's information, take a picture of them, have them digitally sign it, and I'm done. Of course there are more options if you want to exercise them, but they are either not options that are incredibly important for every shoot, or they are options (like emailing the completed release) that can be performed at a later time.  It doesn't get much simpler than this.

I mentioned that the "standard" model release is filled out before hand to save time while you are working with the model. Built right into Release Me is an industry standard model release form. for 99% of the shooters out there, this is all that you need. It covers you, your rights, the model and their rights. It has a place for minors and their parents and is legally binding.  For the other 1% of shooters that require more intense or specific language in their release, there is the option of adding in additional language. this language can be anything you would like, however I would suggest talking to a lawyer before adding anything to any legally binding document.  On the opposite side of this is the strike out feature. If there is language that the subject doesn't feel comfortable with, and you both agree to remove it from the release you can strike it from the document. Once the document is signed by the model, the information contained cannot be altered without a new signature.

See Who Signed and Where You Were

Another helpful feature that Release Me contains is the Map View. This Allows you to either manually enter the location where you photographed the subject, or use the built in Maps App to locate and place a pin where you are shooting. This is a very handy feature, especially if you have a multi-shoot project going on that spans multiple days and locations. The Other useful, and almost required feature is the photo section. Use your device's built in camera to take a photograph of the model that is going to be signing the release. Personally I think this is a required feature for a release App. 

Sign Your Screen

This seems like a "duh" comment or feature, but the ability to sign the screen is so incredibly nice. No more carrying pens. No more physical forms… If you've never used physical forms, I don't know that you can truly grasp how nice of a feature this is. Just suffice to say that it has saved a ton of trees and me from growing grey hair prematurely.

One thing that Terry and I have both found, is that signing the screen with your finger is cumbersome and a little clumsy. We both prefer a stylus designed for use on touchscreens. They can be bought for $15-$30 from many brand name manufacturers such as Targus and Pogo.


Get the Targus stylus from Amazon here for $33.33







Get the Pogo Stylus from Amazon for $10.68 here



The Bottom Line

This is one of, if not the simplest model release Apps that I have used. If you want a no nonsense, easy to use model release App, Release Me is for you. Their motto rings very true "it's better to have one and not need it, than need it and not have one". If you're taking photographs of people, get a release. You never know when that person might become famous, notorious, or otherwise profitable to have photographed.


You can get Release Me for the iPhone from the iTunes Store for $8.99 here:iTunes
You can get Release Me HD for the iPad from the iTunes Store for $8.99 here: iTunes

R.I.P Steve Jobs

(Image courtesy of

We pause today to bring you sad news about, and pay tribute to, the reason that this site exists. By now I'm sure you have heard that yesterday Steve Jobs passed away.  If it had not been for Steve Jobs vision for the iPhone, iTunes, and ultimately Apple the world wouldn't have the iPhone and there would be no Best App Site. Gizmodo has one of the most touching goodbyes that I have ever read. It's definitely worth a read. So I ask that you take a moment to remember Steve Jobs, and the wonderful things he did not only for Apple, but for humanity. You will be missed.


iPhone 4S and what you need to know…

(image courtesy of

Happy iPhone day! Well actually, happy day after iPhone day. By now most of you know that Apple was releasing a new version of the iPhone on October 4th and for those of you who don't, welcome back from under the rock (kidding). So what's new and why do you care? I'll share all of that and more so read on.

Bring On the Power!

There are many, many new features on the new iPhone 4S. Even though the outside looks the same, inside it is a much improved, much more refined, and a whole lot more powerful!

Lets jump right into the most important improvement in my opinion. The dual core A5 processor. This will be the first iPhone with a dual core processor. Also included is 1Gb (up from 512Mb) of ram. These two things coupled with the dual core graphics translate into a much faster, more robust iPhone. Games are going to fly, videos will have a smoother playback, and photo editing possibilities will grow tremendously. It's an exciting time to be both and iPhone user, and an iPhone developer. Along with the other performance improvements, the Addition of the 64Gb model doubles the largest previously available model.


The Good Gets Better

The camera on the iPhone has been, hands down, the most well received and most used of all of the smart phones on the market. With not only the impressive quality of the image files, but also the quality of the Apps available, the iPhone has become the mobile camera of choice for people world wide. Mashable reported recently that the #1 camera used to produce images on Flickr is the iPhone. Apple realizes all of this and has really outdone themselves with the iPhone 4S. It has a completely new 8-megapixel camera taking 3264×2448 pixel pictures. It is supposed to be 30% faster and sports a new backlit image sensor allowing it to take in more light. Along with this is a new f/2.4 lens to go along with the image sensor.


Get It Faster!

Everyone remembers Antennagate. You know hold the iPhone4 just so and watch your bars drop down until you lose signal. Not wanting a repeat of that fiasco, Apple has a new antenna system that not only ensures no signal loss from holding the phone a certain way, but also adds some much needed features. The new antenna system allows the iPhone 4S to switch between two antennas for better sound quality and a much faster download speed. This new system allows for a speed increase double of what it is with the standard iPhone4. Remember that these are theoretical speeds so the actual speed will most likely be much lower. Still, there will be a noticeable speed increase. While this isn't quite 4g speed, it's a whole lot better than standard 3g.


iPhone Gets A Personal Assistant

Named Siri, Apple also released it's new personal voice assistant for the iPhone 4S. Able to understand natural voice commands, Siri is the new voice assistant that allows you to interact with your iPhone on a whole new level. As a demo, Scott Forstall (of Apple) asked Siri "what's the weather like today" to which the iPhone responded with what the weather was like. It's not limited to weather however. Siri is able to transcribe text messages, search Wikipedia, Google Maps, and much more. Siri is referred to as in "beta" however this only means that Apple will continue to add features and languages as they go.


The Bottom Line

I love the new iPhone. Not so much because I have to have the latest and greatest, but because I could really use the increased performance, and better camera. There were some other notable announcements today including iOS 5, iPod Nano, and Cards (not so sure about the usefulness of this last one personally) but the big announcement was the iPhone 4S. So what do you think? Is this enough of an update for you to upgrade from your current phone? Let us know in the comments section.

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