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If you've been lucky enough to avoid finding out what a "smize" is up until now, then let us enlighten you, it's a smile with your eyes. So not a cheesy, happy smile that a hot supermodel would ever be seen dead doing (eww, gross), just a subtle smile that leaves your mouth emotionless but your eyes full of pretty and uh.. smile. What? Did you expect it to actually make sense? Oh silly rabbit.

It's something Tyra Banks says a LOT on America's Next Top Model and she seems to think it's a surefire way of separating regular looking girls from super hot supermodel types.

If you thought avoiding all terrible reality TV shows would mean you'd never come across crap like this, then think again. Tyra Banks and her team have decided that the smize is something that they could totally make a tonne of money from, so they've released an app that uses facial manipulation technology in order to take any boring photo with regular, unattractive expressions and turn them into awesome, beautiful smizes. Or something like that.

Well, you can give yourself huge tits, make yourself look fat, see what you look like when you're old and turn your face into a zombie, so why wouldn't you expect to make your eyes look more attractive and just like Tyra's?

According to Tyra women contact her all the time and ask her if they're "smizing" (anyone else really sick of this non-word already?), so this way she can educate the masses and make sure we're all doing it right and look the best we possibly can when we're taking photos for our Linkedin and online dating profiles. Phew, I was just about to take a realistic photo of my actual face, but whatever you say Banksy.

We get it, it's all tongue-in-cheek and Tara fanatics will love it, we probably shouldn't take it so seriously and all that usual stuff we're told when we question how ridiculous and pointless an app is. After all, the way Tyra has made a fortune from her own brand is pretty admirable and no matter how ridiculous Smize Yourself! may seem to me and you, we'd bet some of our relatives on the fact that tonnes of men and women are now sat gurning at their phones trying to create that perfect Tyra smize. Good luck.

Unfortunately for UK readers, Smize Yourself! is only available to those in the US at the moment (iTunes $1.99), so we'll have to stay unattractive and unloved until it's available on this side of the pond.

[Via Mashable]

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Blue Badge Style is an online lifestyle guide for the less able and it's just launched a mobile app too, allowing users to find the coolest venues when they're out and about.

Many venues across London claim to be suitable for those with mobility issues, but when it comes to it there's just one small ramp outside that's a bit rubbish and very little inside to make getting around easy or even possible sometimes. Well Blue Badge Style aims to identify places near you, whether they're restaurants, shops or bars and uses a tick rating system, which grades each place on style, accessibility and special facilities.

Fiona Jarvis, the Founder of Blue Badge Style, has been in a wheelchair for nearly 20 and developed the site and app because she was frustrated with being surprised by the lack of services at different venues:

"Mobility, or the lack of it, doesn't mean that I've lost my sense of style, but I do want to know what to expect before I arrive at a venue. The Blue Badge Style app means that people with limited mobility and equally importantly, their friends, don't have to be surprised or embarrassed by a lack of accessibility or facilities at a cool venue. It's freedom shared!"

At the moment the app covers a selected number of European cities and London, given that recent stats show up to 300,000 people in the capital have mobility issues. The team behind Blue Badge Style are kind to bring together a community of like-minded people for whom style and disability are not mutually exclusive and go on to encourage them to rate their favourite restaurants, bars, shops, cafes, theatres and everything else using the app.

Blue Badge Style is available from iTunes and Google Play for free.

There are all kinds of pros to living in the UK over the US, like free healthcare, pubs and slighty less rampant mass consumerism (thanks to expat @teriTECHno for some of her top picks), but when it comes to apps we're really missing out on some gems over on this side of the pond.

Here are five apps that we're sad aren't available in the UK (yet), feel free to add the ones you wish were available in your country in the comments below.

Thanks to Twitter friends @sheesidd, @AndrewAllsopp and @TeriTECHno for helping with this list.

ip4-v25-splash-appxpert-02.jpgSponsored post

If you fancy yourself as a bit of an app expert and end up downloading everything shiny and new like a little mobile magpie, then AppXpert has been made specially for you because it rewards you with cash for every new app you test out.

Once you've downloaded the app you're greeted by your own personal dashboard full of app "investigations" to complete.

You then trial these new apps, take them for a test drive and answer a series of questions about your experience, turning you into a proper app detective and earning you 20p each time in the process.

Of course there's a limited number of investigations, but turn on push notifications and you'll get a personal update every time a new one appears for you to try out.

AppXpert is the latest in a string of interesting apps that offer users a cash incentive for getting involved, whether its downloading photos with Foap, attending the gym with Gym Pact or becoming a mystery shopper with Roamler.

concept-appxpert.jpgMaybe it's a testament to just how broke we all are right now, but it's a trend that looks like it's here to stay and given how dependent we all are on our mobiles it requires very little effort to get involved.

AppXpert is available for iOS devices from iTunes for free.

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instagram-cat-1.jpegMore than a quarter of posing, hipster, smartphone-owning Britons Instagram the photos they share online without fail, according to new research.

The study, commissioned by MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, about attitudes to Instagram and mobile photography found that 24% of Brits with smartphones said all of the photos they take are cropped, turned into a silly little square, edited and then added to Instagram shortly after.

A whopping 96% said they share all of their photos online in some shape or form and when asked how many photos they roughly share a quarter remained faithful to Instagram, 39% said they turn to the app to share "some" of their snaps and the rest use other apps or don't share things at all. Bah, what anti-social losers.

It's always a big topic for debate and discussion among geeky photo app types about what you should and shouldn't be Instagramming. I recently realised that most of my photos are of nights out, food or just my stupid big face. According to the research, 57% were similar and admitted to taking photos of their food, 49% snapped their friends a lot and 44% of the more arty, hipster types said they take photos of the cool buildings and locations they visit.

However, despite our love for Instagramming everything we eat, see and do, more than 46% of those polled also admitted to finding it really annoying when others share too many photos.

Instagram's new profile pages and bolstered web presence is only set to make it more popular in the future. As much as some have whined about the fact they liked the photo service to be mobile only, we've seen just as many who've said they see the benefits of it more and more now that it can be accessed so easily online.

Related: Instagram introduces new Facebook-like web profiles for snap happy users

The study by MyVoucherCodes.co.uk polled 1,978 people from across the UK.


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In super creepy news today, if you're feeling a little bit lonely or unloved there's now an iPhone app that will act as your own virtual friend and relentless stalker, so you don't have to go out and have tiring real-life relationships or pay for affection from random strangers.

The app called Watching Cute Girl features a smiling woman who will look at you, take photos of you without warning and say one of 180 pre-recorded things an obsessive girlfriend would scream while smelling a lock of your hair and bathing in your aftershave, like "Good morning, I came to watch you" and "Good evening. Have you already eaten?"

According to Kotaku, the app has been created by a comedian, so we shouldn't be taking it too seriously. Tell that to the 4,382,398 lonely guys who are staring at (or you know, other things) the Watching Cute Girl girl right now.

The app is available on iTunes in selected countries for ¥ 85, which is a small price to pay for a fake stalker, right?

[Via Kotaku]

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Not content with taking over our mobile lives one rubbish, retro snapshot at a time, super popular photo app Instagram won't just occupy a special place in our phones for much longer, as it's bolstering its web presence and launching shiny new profiles online for its users.

Earlier in the year Instagram allowed users to share single photos via the web, which sparked rumours that it wouldn't be too long until the team unveiled online profiles crammed full of dreamy snaps to go with them. Well it seems the wait is over and two years after the app first launched a post on the official Instagram blog yesterday revealed that web profiles would be gradually rolled out to users over the next week.

As you'd expect, the web profiles feature all of your recent Instagram photos, your username, profile photo and bio. But it's not just about displaying your beautiful creations (LOLZ), the new souped up Instagram web presence means you can now follow users, comment, like and edit your profile all from the same dashboard.

As you can see from the screenshot above there's a huge focus on all of your images and it all looks a bit eerily like a Facebook timeline, but that's hardly surprising given the social network's acquisition of Instagram. We're not sure whether this could point to further integration between the two entities in future, but the web profiles could certainly be the first step to a more joined up approach or on the other hand they may just be a way of further differentiating between the two, only time will tell.

To see your fancy new web profile then visit instagram.com/[yourusername], but don't worry if you're just served up a lame holding page, none of Shiny HQ's have made the leap online quite yet...

Let us know in the comments below whether you're happy Instagram has ventured into the big, wide world of the web or would have preferred your favourite photo app to stay just that, an app.

[Via Instagram Image via @mycookingdiary]

twitter-instagram-rivals.jpgIt seems like every photo app and every social network has, at some time or another, tried to "take on" Instagram and give the super popular retro app some stiff competition. Well now it's Twitter's turn, because according to a report in the New York Times this weekend, the micro-blogging platform is set to add photo filters to its current offering. But will anyone really bypass their favourite app in favour of Twitter?

According to the report, Twitter will start adding photo filters to its current mobile app, allowing users to upload their snaps straight to the social network without the need to tweak them elsewhere.

It's still early days and nothing has been confirmed by the social network yet, but the NY Times claims to have spoken to a number of insiders.

Facebook was rumoured to be creating an Instagram competitor at one point, but instead bought up the app and then created its own-branded Camera photo app, which certainly made us all sit up and take notice of its efforts, but proved a bit of a disappointment and hasn't replaced our Insta-love.

[Via The New York Times]

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The world (OK, OK geeky online app world) is up in arms about a new sleazy app called Badabing!, which trawls through your friends' Facebook photos and then brings up only the most nakey and revealing shots.

You simply log-in, hook up the app to your Facebook account and select which friends you'd like to stalk... Oh we mean search for.

Many websites and even UK tabloids have been up in arms about the app, calling it disgusting, depraved and even comparing it to the recent Creepshots Reddit scandal, but in fact it's completely different.

If you don't want weirdos stalking photos of you in that itsy bitsy bikini, don't upload it to Facebook and don't have weirdos as friends. It's really not rocket science.

Of course we're not praising the app or its scumbag developers, but we also think the online reaction has been a little bit (read:ridiculously) over the top considering these are photos we've all uploaded ourselves at some point or another. It's not great tools are being introduced to allow pervy people to become even more pervy, but take a bit of responsibility for your own actions for a change, yeah?

UPDATE: Judging from the reviews on iTunes there's not much to worry about anyway, as the app is pretty rubbish at the one thing it claims to do, finding bikini shots.

Badabing! is available from iTunes for £1.49.

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Today the east coast of the US braces itself for what the media is calling a "superstorm", as Hurricane Sandy joins forces with other weather systems. As we're not very knowledgeable about meteorology we'll leave the commentary to those in the know and just bring you Instacane, a simple website that serves up Instagram photos about Hurricane Sandy.

Of course you can just monitor the hashtag on your own from the app itself or another third party web viewing app, but the website is a simple way to keep track of what's happening and just goes to show what an important sharing, reporting and curating tool Instagram really is. And how on the ball Instagram developers are...

Related: Worldcam: View Instagram snaps from all over the globe

[Via Jezebel]

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We've all done it. You're sat in the cinema watching that film you've been waiting to see for months and think you can run to the toilet super quick without missing the best bits. Then you return and two people have been killed, there's a weird talking dog running the show and one guy's an alien. FFS.

Well next time you take a trip to the movies fear not, the RunPee app is here to allow you to run, pee and return to the film without missing the vital bits. Tap into the film you're going to see (nothing too arty, obscure or exclusive though) and the app will serve up a few options for optimum toilet time.

You don't have to have your phone out waiting for the notification, it'll cause a vibration at the beginning and end of the "pee window", so you know when to get going and when it's too late.

Once you're back RunPee will still give you a brief synopsis detailing what you've missed and also tells you whether there are any extra scenes after the credits that are worth sticking around for too.

OK so some people won't need it and others will think it's just a bit stupid, but if you're a movie fan and enjoy attending the cinema a lot you may find it really useful and worth the 69p it costs to download it.

RunPee is available from iTunes for 69p.

[Via Mashable]

So you either updated to iOS 6 or you bought an iPhone 5 and then WHAT'S THIS!? A DIFFERENT MAP APP?! Let's all cry and get mad and throw our phones at the floor. Wahh :(:(:(:(.

We get it, you're all sick of Apple Maps, you think the navigation sucks and you want to moan and rant about it. STILL. But come on guys, let's accept the fact maps aren't served up to us in quite the same way as before and either get on with it or look for some alternatives.

It's nearly that time of year again boys and girls, we hope you're all ready to carve out pumpkins, go trick or treating and scare the living daylights out of your friends and family this Halloween.

If you're a big fan of photo apps or tweaking your images online you'll be happy to know there are plenty of apps that have been specially designed to add zombie features, scary eyes and lots of fake blood to different faces and places. However, in our round-up we've also included some of our favourite sites and apps, which have some great tools to make your photos look spooky, scary and eerie quite unintentionally too.

Related: Shiny Shiny's ultimate guide to girl geek Halloween costumes

It's been ready to launch to the public for some time now, but this summer Lift, a highly anticipated "habit forming" app came to iOS devices. If you feel you've heard of Lift before but you're not sure how, why or where, then it's probably been on your radar because it's backed by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone.

However, is the productivity and life hacking app really all it's cracked up to be?

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No matter how virtuous you may feel, the truth is we all have many bad habits we'd love to kick to the crub (eating badly, smoking, etc) and some brilliant ideas for tasks we'd love to replace them with (running more, taking vitamins, etc). However, it can be pretty much impossible to stop doing bad things and adopt new habits, even though you may be totally aware they're taking up too much time, damaging your health and making you miserable.

Well that's the basic idea behind Lift, an app specially created to help people become more aware of what they're doing and develop better habits and daily routines:

"We're defined by routine behaviors that, whether good or bad, we perform near unconsciously throughout our days and weeks. To improve these behaviors -- and therefore ourselves -- we must make them conscious again.

"Lift is a simple yet powerful way to achieve this consciousness through daily habit tracking."

To get started you download the Lift app and create an account (it takes seconds, honest). You're then prompted to "Add Habit" and can pick from a list of good habits others have decided to try and adopt or add your own. On the list already we have a real mix of tasks and activities, such as "Exercise", "Eat Fruit" and "Blog More."

Once you've either added your own habit or picked one from the list it gets added to the app and you can immediately start tracking it. Now you can tap open the app and almost "check-in" to the habit (like you do with the likes of Foursquare and Facebook) to show that you've completed it for today and even add a note to keep track of how easy/hard it was to complete. The point of the app is that you're consciously thinking about the habits you need to change, mix up or include into your routine and you're then given a super easy way to track them.

As you check-in to more and more habits (you can technically add as many as you like, but we'd recommend adding now more than three to begin with) you can see a little bar chart, which tracks your progress and serves up a personal report for each habit you're trying to incorporate into your life.

As we've seen from pretty much every health, fitness and wellbeing app out there, Lift also has a strong community element, so when you first sign up you'll be asked to sync it up to your Twitter account and you can then see how your friends and contacts are doing too.

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Interestingly, Lift isn't as game-centric as other apps we've seen that aim to change your life through simple steps, but maybe that's a good thing, we can't be the only ones who are finding the leaderboards and badges mechanic just a little bit stale...

The beauty of Lift is that it's so easy to use, add in a confusing user interface or too many questions at the start and there's no way users will keep coming back for more everyday. Of course there has to be a certain amount of personal motivation and determination to get the results you want, because at the end of the day you can't expect too much from an app, it's not going to knock that cupcake out of your hand or give you a yoga lesson.

However, if you're looking to be a little more aware and disciplined then Lift could well be the perfect companion to help you change your habits and become a bit better at life.

Lift is available from iTunes now for free.

[Via Connected Health]

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There are so many photo apps on the market at the moment that even we've lost sight of those that are good, those that are bad, those that have great filters and those that have the coolest effects, which is probably why we've been so loyal to Instagram recently.

So we were really excited to hear about One Memento, which on the surface looks like every other app out there, but is pretty unique in that you can only share just one photo. Yep that's right, ONE.

The whole idea behind One Memento is that instead of sharing tonnes of meaningless photos you should choose just the one that REALLY means something to you, which is both sweet and weird at the same time.

To get started with One Memento you download the application and connect it up to either your Facebook or Twitter account. You then either take a new photo or pick one from your library and can crop it and add a filter to it as well. The filters look rather vintage, but aren't the best we've come across. Once you've made changes to your photo you can submit it and have two hours in which to add a new one if you're not happy.

Your photo will then be saved to the One Memento library, which only houses 250,000 in total (we were number 2745) forever as part of the photography experiment created by the Robot Corp team.

After adding our photo and scrolling through a lot of the other contributions, it's clear that in order to appreciate One Memento you need to not view it as a photo app at all but an exploration of memorable moments.

Although we're not entirely sure the app will catch on and attract 250,000 submissions anytime soon, we certainly think it's an interesting concept given that we're so used to over-sharing everything we do, see and eat with the likes of Instagram.

Visit One Memento for more information or download the app for free from iTunes.

instagram-twitter copy.jpgSo it's official (at least in the US), we now like taking photos and filtering the bejeezus out of them more than we like tweeting mundane stuff about our breakfasts and offices.

Research from ComScore shows that Instagram has more than 7.3 million daily users in the US compared to Twitter's mere 6.9 million.

It's not just the amount of users that are greater either, according to Fast Company obsessive Instagrammers spend a lot more time looking at photos than Twitter users spend scrolling through tweet after tweet after tweet.

After we did some research (OK, so we had a quick discussion in the office) we've decided that Instagram isn't entirely separate from Twitter, because we send most of our snaps there too. Instead it seems like different activities and different times of the day dictate which we prefer, so for instance I tweet much more during the day at work but rarely tweet at the weekend and instead spam everyone with my rubbish Instagram shots. How do you use yours guys? Do you prefer one over the other or like a child with newly divorced parents you struggle to choose one or the other?


[Via Fast Company]

In a bid to prove just how much better Google's mapping services are compared to Apple's, the company has decided to say "Pfft, maps of the land? We now own the sea bitchez. Yeah, THE ACTUAL OCEAN. SO THERE."

Google's popular street view service is no longer constrained to actual streets, but now delves down into the depths of the sea to bring us some incredible panoramic shots from six locations around the globe, including The Great Barrier Reef, the Apo Islands in the Philippines and Hawaii's Hanauma Bay.

On the Official Google Blog Brian McClendon, the VP of Google Maps and Earth, wrote:

"Today we're adding the very first underwater panoramic images to Google Maps, the next step in our quest to provide people with the most comprehensive, accurate and usable map of the world.

"Now, anyone can become the next virtual Jacques Cousteau and dive with sea turtles, fish and manta rays in Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii."

To get such spectacular images Google has teamed up with The Catlin Seaview Survey, a scientific study of reefs and underwater treasures caught on an SVII underwater camera.

Check out the Complete Underwater Collection now, but don't blame us if you spend the rest of the afternoon virtually swimming along The Great Barrier Reef.

Related: Google Maps lets you visit landmarks from the comfort of your home

[Via Google]

foursquare-app-screenshot.jpgThe nature of location tracking service Foursquare has always invited criticism that it's solely designed for stalkers or sad people to keep tabs on their friends and family.

Well now it seems it'll become even more of a haven for creepy behaviour given that it's just introduced a new "always on" notifications option, which allows users to get constant updates about where their contacts are. All. The. Time.

There have always been options to receive alerts when your friends are nearby or pottering through the same city, but "always on" sends out notifications each and every time one of their contacts checks-in, even if they're on the other side of the world.

Of course we shouldn't make fun of the new crazy stalker feature too much, it could certainly have some benefits, such as alerting loved ones that you're safe if you're travelling without having to text or call them. However we think it's highly likely it'll just make Foursquare users really trim down their contacts.

[Via Venture Beat]

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A new app has been developed by Canadian charity METRAC (Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children) to empower women to respond to situations of sexual harassment wherever they are.

You simply select who it is that's harassing you, where you are and the app will serve up random suggestions about what to do and how to respond.

So for instance, if it's a co-worker and you're at work, Not Your Baby suggests:

"Report the harassment to a supervisor, human resources or union."

And if it's a random stranger in the street, the app tells you to:

"Make a phone call even if there's no one on the other end"

The advice changes each time and some seem sensible and logical, whereas others feature specific put downs to say to gross weirdos who hit on you in awkward situations. There's also a section for you to add in your own suggestions and more information for those experiencing specific problems.

We love the idea behind the app and we ALWAYS love the idea of putting leery scumbags in their place when they approach us in the street. But we don't love the idea of being all on our own and taking out our shiny, expensive smartphones in order to figure out how we should respond to someone who's clearly a little bit nuts. It just seems a bit, well, stupid.

However, we imagine the app hasn't been designed for people to follow religiously, but it's certainly an interesting way to raise awareness about the problem of street harassment, which far too many of us don't talk about enough.

Not Your Baby is available from iTunes for free.

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We've written about photo printing and cool-book-making service Keepsy a few times in the past for our "awesome things you can do with your Instagram snaps" round-ups and it's a firm favourite in a sea of similar offerings.

Well now this week Keepsy differentiates itself from the competition that little bit more, because it's launched an iPhone application, complete with new sharing and printing options, as well as a whole host of other features.

The first cool feature of the Keepsy app is it sifts through all of the photos in your camera roll and then divides them into different sets based on where and when they were taken. So for instance, I have two albums called "Bethnal Green" but one is from Field Day Festival last year and the other is from a night out in Hoxton a few weeks ago, so I was pretty impressed with the way everything had been organised automatically.

Once you've browsed through your sets to check they all make sense and added in any rogue photos that didn't appear (all of ours were neat and tidy, so we didn't need to bother), you can share them to your social networks or scroll through options to have them printed with Keepsy's book services.

However, the app isn't just about sharing, using and creating new things from your photos, there are also a number of photography tips and photo projects to get you capturing more adventurous images too.

Obviously the app is geared up to get you to buy Keepsy's stuff and we can't guarantee you'll ditch your current photo sharing and organising apps in favour, but it's a cool app wrapped up in a great user experience and because it comes with sharing options and photo tips too it doesn't seem "salesy" at all.

Available from iTunes for free.

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