Your Smartphone Cameras Still Can’t Do Everything

We’ve Come a Long Way But Your iPhone Still Takes Subpar Pictures

Most Americans have smartphones by now. Whether it’s an iPhone or an Android, smartphones are pretty much essential to surviving in 2017. Battery life, operating system, durability, screen size, and ease of use are just a few things we look for when deciding what phone to get. Another major and sometimes crucial aspect of purchasing a smartphone is the camera.

The most widely used camera is an iPhone. Androids aren’t too far behind either. It goes without saying that smartphone photography is insanely popular and has definitely impacted traditional photography. iPhones and Android smartphones often take pictures that are as good if not better than pictures taken with DSLRs. Still, many users have probably noticed some flaws and drawbacks when it comes to the camera built into their phone.

Unfortunately, our phones still lack the ability to take certain photos. Here are just a few areas in which are phones still struggle to take good photos.

Product Photography, Studio Shots

No matter how hard you try to model for Instagram, your iPhone just won’t deliver the shots you’re looking for. Albeit, smartphone cameras are much better at product photography and studio shots than ever before, they still leave a lot to be desired. Why can’t you take stunning shots that belong in catalogs? Why can’t you take professional looking modeling shots?

Product Photography and Studio Photography is especially difficult

This is definitely changing, just look at the iPhone X. For now, however, smartphone cameras like to center-weigh almost all photos. Selective focus is also pretty much non-existent. You basically can’t create a studio atmosphere when your camera weighs all things equally and fails to drain out backgrounds or the foreground. This is why many smartphones struggle to deliver quality product photography or studio shots.

Low-Light Photography

I’m sure we’ve all struggled to get good pictures of a skyline at night or pictures with friends outside of a concert venue in the middle of the night. No matter how much we try, our phones fail to take clear and focused low-light photos. Most low-light photos appear noisy and fail to capture detail. Again, this is changing but we’re still a long way from major change.

Smartphone cameras aren’t sensitive and complex enough to capture the amount of light required to take a good low-light photo. Additionally, some features such as stabilization and night-mode actually do more harm than good causing the photo to appear especially grainy or noisy.

No Control Over The Shutter Speed or Aperture

This is one reason you can’t get studio quality shots or capture low-light photography, you don’t have access to the most important settings, including shutter speed and aperture. Again, smartphone cameras have lacked the complexity required to control these settings. Apple has been especially guilty when it comes to restricting what users can do with the built-in camera.

This is also changing but much slower than other issues. Some users might not want to have to alter settings after every shot keeping phone manufactures on the fence about making the built-in camera more complex.

Innovation Spotlight: Custom Coffee Sleeves

Coffee, a staple in the American diet and routine.  Our lives revolve around coffee–or so the memes say.  “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my morning coffee”, reads a popular tagline plastered on corny merchandise at gift shops across America. Regardless on where you stand on coffee in popular culture, coffee is indeed a staple in the US.  It’s available pretty much everywhere you look.  From waiting rooms to the break room, coffee pots are an integral part of American life.  Coffee’s also been a consistent beverage rarely undergoing a new and improved recipe phase or brand overhaul.  For much of coffee’s history, it was espresso or drip brewed coffee. Only recently has coffee seen flavors and new brewing methods.  However, it’s not just the way in which coffee is brewed or crafted that’s changing.  The way in which we sell, package, and market coffee’s also changed.

Take a look at your coffee sleeve next time you go to a university cafe or local hangout, it might just have a custom printed coffee sleeve.  See how one St. Louis-based company, Sleeve-A-Message is changing the way in which even the smallest cafes are marketing their coffee.



Since Starbuck’s rise to power in the 90s, the coffee sleeve has remained consistent in that it was simply a way to avoid burning your hands as you carried hot coffee.  Sure, there was branding on the side of the sleeve but the branding mimicked what was directly under the sleeve.  Additionally, some coffee chains and even local cafes came under fire for offering sleeves.  Sleeves had been constructed out of heavy cardboard and plastics meaning that both the production and disposal of the sleeves put stress on the environment.  Some smaller cafes opted not to supply them due to cost concerns.  Sleeve-A-Message, a St. Louis-based startup, is changing the sleeve (and the coaster).

Custom Coffee Sleeves: Variable Printing and Sustainable

Sleeve-A-Message offers customers small or large batch sleeve printing.  This means that coffee sleeves are affordable regardless of how many a customer desires.  It also means that even non-commercial consumers could purchase custom coffee sleeves without having to purchase thousands.  However, it’s the variable printing that really differentiates Sleeve-A-Message from the competition.  Variable printing allows customers to include a variety of designs and messages unique to a certain promotion or season.  Younger coffee drinkers are extremely into customized and personalized service making variable printing important.  Variable printing also gives a coffee drinker something to share on social media.

Additionally, Sleeve-A-Message features sleeves printed with a water-based ink.  The water-based ink and post-consumer cardboard allow for the product to be produced and recycled without harm to the environment.  Sleeve-A-Message also participates in a program so that for every 7,000 sleeves printed, one tree will be planted in an urban neighborhood.

Sleeve-A-Message allows for even the smallest coffee shops to show off their creativity.  Sleeve-A-Message features both custom printed coffee sleeves as well as custom printed coasters suiting both commercial and non-commercial needs.

Learn more: Sleeve-A-Message Business Spotlight

These Roofs Are Fighting Climate Change

White Roofs Are Combating Climate Change, Here’s How

Climate change is a major issue impacting the lives of billions of individuals.  People across the globe are seeing the effects of climate change.  From famine to floods, climate change is the result of normal climate patterns worsened by human activity and inactivity.  Activities that have fueled climate change include the burning of fossil fuels and discharge of waste into waterways.  The inactions that have added to climate change include failing to conserve resources and address local sources of pollution.  We know climate change is an issue and we know we are to blame.  What next?

You might think there’s little you can do, however, there’s one simple fix that will drastically reduce temperatures not only globally but locally too.  White roofs are just what you might think they are.  They are roofs that are white.  White roofs are growing in popularity, not just because they’ve been proven to aid in the fight against climate change but also because they reduce energy costs.  Here’s how.


A White Roof
A White Roof

White roofs originally began to show up on structures with flat roofs.  Flat roofs are much easier to update and are often found on commercial structures.  White roofs were introduced as a way to reduce energy costs.  White roofs are able to reduce energy costs by reflecting the sun’s rays.  Lighter colors reflect most of the sun’s rays or energy back out into the atmosphere while darker colors absorb those rays and generate heat at the surface.  By painting a roof white, the sun’s energy isn’t absorbed by the structure’s roof and therefore, doesn’t generate heat.  This allowed businesses to cool their buildings more efficiently.

A flat roof painted white to reflect the sun's energy
A flat roof painted white to reflect the sun’s energy

However, white roofs aren’t just a great way to save money.  Reflecting the sun’s energy back into space and away from the lower levels of the atmosphere, work wonders on temperature both at the surface and globally.

When the sun’s energy is trapped beneath the lower and middle levels of the atmosphere, temperatures not only increase near the Earth’s surface but also globally.  That heat contributes to the overall rise in temperature.  Rising temperatures are one of the major factors that influence climate change.  By reflecting the sun’s energy away from the surface and back out into space and the upper levels of the atmosphere, higher temperatures can be avoided.

White roofs are quickly gaining in popularity especially among economically and environmentally conscious businesses.  However, it’s not too far off in the future that white roofs will likely be widely available.  If you’re looking to go a step further, why not invest in a green roof?

Top 3 Car Sharing Apps

The Top 3 Car Sharing Apps to Sign-Up For

We’ve all heard of ridesharing apps.  These apps, primarily Uber and Lyft, allow users to ride in other user’s cars for a fee.  They’ve revolutionized the way in which we travel, however, there’s a new wave of transportation applications on the way.

Car sharing is a fairly new concept of renting shared vehicles.  These vehicles can either be owned by the ride sharing company, a rental car group, or private individual.  They’re typically easier and more convenient than traditional rental car companies.  More importantly, they’re cheaper and better suited to regular use.  Overall, car sharing is a great way to save on transportation if you live in a major urban area.  To save you some time and effort, we’ve compiled the top three car sharing apps around.


The Top 3 Car Sharing Apps of 2017
The Top 3 Car Sharing Apps of 2017

#3 Turo

Turo is the odd one out in this list because the service doesn’t feature a monthly or annual membership.  Turo also doesn’t feature any fleet or shared vehicle services.  Turo is as basic as it gets, allowing users to rent out their cars for a little or as long as they choose.

Insurance is provided by a third-party group and users pick the maximum amount of miles a day renters are allowed to put on their vehicles without being charged by the mile.  Prices vary directly with location and vehicle type.  A Prius in Kansas City might go for $30 a day while a Tesla in Los Angeles might go for $400 a day.  Turo offers a lot of flexibility.

Unlike the other applications and services on this list, Turo doesn’t partner with businesses or schools.  Additionally, renters under 30 are penalized for their age.  Overall, the app is a great alternative to traditional car rental groups.

| Membership: No | Price: Varies | Partnerships: No |

Link: Turo Car Rental

#3 Turo
#3 Turo

#2 Enterprise Car Share

Enterprise is known for its traditional car rental service.  Enterprise Holdings consists of Enterprise Car Rental, National Car Rental, and Alamo Car Rental.  However, Enterprise is no stranger to venturing off into other areas of the transportation sector.

Enterprise Car Share is a car share program that offers monthly and annual subscriptions to its fleet of vehicles.  These vehicles include Prius’, Malibus, and Volts.  Users are required to sign-up for a membership.  However, a membership gives users access to free fuel and insurance.  Enterprises entry level membership charges by the mile while higher tier memberships allow users to drive up to 200 miles a day free of charge.

Enterprise Car Share has numerous partnerships with businesses, residential developments, and schools.  The service is available throughout the United States in most major metropolitan areas.

| Membership: Required | Price: Application Fee + Annual Fee | Partnerships: Yes |

Link: Enterprise Car Share

#2 Enterprise Car Share
#2 Enterprise Car Share

#1 ZipCar

ZipCar is by far the most refined car sharing service.  ZipCar is much like Enterprise Car Share, however, ZipCar is less expensive and more flexible.  Like Enterprise Car Share, ZipCar offers insurance and fuel with most memberships.  All ZipCar vehicles are fleet vehicles and are maintained by ZipCar.

ZipCar allows college students to waive not only the application fee but often times the annual fee as well.  Users are charged both hourly and by the mile after 200 miles.

| Membership: Required | Price: Application Fee + Annual Fee | Partnerships: Yes |

Link: ZipCar Car Sharing

#1 ZipCar Car Sharing
#1 ZipCar Car Sharing

 

Apple Reveals iOS 11 at its WWDC, New Hardware

Apple held its annual WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) yesterday in San Jose, California.  Though the iPhone 8 didn’t make an appearance, the event and the subsequent announcements of new hardware and software blew up on Facebook and Twitter.  This year’s WWDC introduced developers and consumers to Apple’s take on the smart speaker and virtual/augmented reality.  Overall, the event had somewhat of a “catch-up” vibe as most of Apple’s cutting-edge announcements were carbon copies of announcements made by Google, Samsung, and Amazon.  Still, Apple’s high-quality and beautifully crafted hardware and software are hard to beat and this year’s WWDC only confirmed this.

Among the various hardware and software unveilings and reveals was iOS 11.  iOS 11, Apple’s mobile operating system will be available to consumers later this year and follows the popular iOS 10 update.  There’s a lot to love, however, some feature like always, are completely useless.  Additionally, Apple unveiled it’s new iPad Pro lineup, new Apple Watches, and a $5,000 iMac Pro.  Here are a few highlights worth noting.

iOS 11 Unpacked

  • What is it: Apple’s newest successor to their mobile operating system.  iOS 11 will replace iOS 10.  iOS 10 received overwhelmingly popular feedback from consumers.
  • When will it be released: According to Apple, “this fall.”

iOS 11 is slated to bring a variety of new features to Apple’s mobile platforms.  One major update will come to Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant.  The voice assistant will receive a new voice and be able to do more than with previous versions of the program.  Additionally, new professional features will be added to the camera application.  Augmented reality (AR) functionality will also be added.  To top off the update, a new app store will be available.