Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Archive for December 21st, 2012

Hipstamatic’s Tintype SnapPak

“docpop” on the Postagram blog:

The Tinto 1884 lens uses facial recognition to recreate a very shallow depth of field unique for each photograph. This is similar in some ways to what some apps do with tilt-shift or radial blur effects, but Hipstamatic’s effect is more customized for faces. Notice, for instance, that it will leave eyes and mouth unaffected, while blurring out the nose and forehead.

Oh, this is clever. Via Rob Sheridan.

Google Designing ‘X Phone’

In 2009, John Gruber wrote:

Don’t aim for the middle of the market. That seems to be what all the other Android manufacturers are doing and it’s the road to NobodyCaresAboutYourPhoneVille. So instead of trying to sell half a million phones to anyone, try to sell half a million phones to a specific target: people in the market for the latest and greatest phone in the world.

Some would argue that the Nexus line was an opportunity to develop this. But the opportunity was squandered with the release of the Nexus 4, the features of which scream “budget phone”.

Three years later, a premium pure Android phone built with the blessing of Google is in development, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Seven months after being acquired by Google for $12.5 billion, Motorola is designing its marquee handset—known internally as the “X phone”—to stand apart from existing phones, though the company is running into some obstacles, these people said. […]

For the X phone, an initiative being led by former Google product manager Lior Ron who specialized in mapping, Motorola wanted top-notch features for the phone’s camera and photo software, such as better color saturation and the ability to take panoramic shots, two people familiar with the situation said.

If they can nail the hardware (and I’m not sure they can), and avoid skinning it in any way, this could be a really great product.

Facebook Takes on Snapchat With New Poke Messaging App

Adi Robertson of The Verge:

The “new Poke experience” will allow messages to be sent between Facebook friends on iPhone only, and messages will expire after 1, 3, 5, or 10 seconds after being opened.

If you didn’t already think Facebook’s “Poke” feature was a sneaky way of getting nudie pics, you will now.

The Best Albums of 2012: Honourable Mentions

  • R.I.P. by Actress. There are so many good tracks on here, but this record feels overlong. It’s pleasing at its best, and frustrating at its worst, but the latter only creeps in after the first ten tracks or so.
  • (III) by Crystal Castles. I was slightly disappointed when this record was not also called “Crystal Castles”, like the two before it. But, where the two that preceded it felt like continuations of each other, this feels like a departure. Half of the tracks on this record are mixed so they sound like you’re listening to them through the outside wall of a club. The other half sound like you’re pressing your ear against the speaker.
  • III – MMXII by Clubroot. Dark, deep, and tense. Truly a record for night owls. A soundtrack to a programmer’s working hours, or a hacking scene in a spy movie.
  • Pink by Four Tet. All of the tracks on this record, save for “Lion” and “Peace for Earth”, have been released prior. That doesn’t mean “Pyramid” gets any less good, though.
  • The Glorious Dead by The Heavy. Modern funk done right. Not a hell of a lot different than 2009’s The House That Dirt Built, but this is the most fun jammed into a 2012 album.
  • An Omen by How to Destroy Angels. The non-Nine Inch Nails-side-project of Trent Reznor, with Atticus Ross and Mariqueen Maandig. Their debut EP had overtones of NIN with female vocals. This EP sounds like a conscious effort to move away from that. “Ice Age” and “The Loop Closes” are highlights, but the latter leaves me longing for more Nails, pronto.
  • Crime by Night Committee. I was saddened by the breakup of Hot Little Rocket, but Night Committee (comprised of half of Rocket, plus an organist/keyboardist) is a great followup act. Jangly distorted guitars, rolling drums, and rock organs. Excellent.
  • Sleeper by Seams. This EP starts with the promising “The Glow”, but tapers slightly with the next two tracks. The six minute closer more than makes up for those, however. Polyrhythmic synths abound.
  • King Animal by Soundgarden. Over fifteen years later, Soundgarden returns with new content that sounds like they never left, which carries implications both good and bad. Good, but not comparable to their greatest work.
  • Trilogy by The Weeknd. I’ve already praised the sexiest three albums of 2011. This year’s re-release contains a few new tracks, and all the rest have been remastered. Does it hold up? Absolutely. A modern classic.
  • Coexist by The xx. Quieter than their breakout debut record. It’s a nice twist, but I can’t help but mourn the loss of some of the tension of their last effort.
  • XXYYXX by XXYYXX. Highlights include the album opener “About You”, and the midpoint “DMT”. Perhaps the most relaxed album of 2012.