App Reviews: Facebook Camera, Health & Safety Watch, Kingdom of Plants

Facebook has released their own version of Instagram. On this week’s Moore In the Morning on Newstalk1010, we’ll ponder why Facebook would copy the idea from a company they’ve just bought. I’ll also review a new app that will tell you which restaurants have passed their health inspections and I’ll take John Moore for an interactive tour of the world’s largest collection of living plants.


Facebook Camera



This is Facebook’s version of the popular photo-sharing app Instagram. Popular because of how easy it is to select a photograph, give it a stylish look, and share it on your profile. We might accuse Facebook of stealing the concept, but they recently bought Instagram for $1 billion, so appear to be stealing from themselves.

You can take a photo or choose one from your camera roll. You can crop or rotate it and then add one of several filters to give it style before uploading it directly to your profile. Each time you open the app it loads all the photos from your friends’ accounts, complete with comments and likes.

Instagram offers its own trendy community, supporting both Android and iPhone, and all the makor popular networks including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Fouresquare.  Facebook Camera is simply a Facebook tool that makes it easy to tag your photos and lets you upload them a group post instead of forcing you to give each picture its own separate post. It’s this last trick that makes it handy to use.


Health & Safety Watch



From health advisories and product recalls to climate warnings and inspection notices for local restaurants, the Health & Safety Watch app aims to keep you aware of potential issues as they are released by government agencies. There are more than 1,000 notices sent out in Canada each year and not all of them make it into the local news. This app organizes them into seven categories for easy browsing, letting you explore product notices on health, food, or consumer goods while also keeping up to date on potential outbreaks or issues effecting local land and water.

Thankfully it’s not all bad news. There’s a good mix of safety tips and common sense relating to popular tasks such as barbecuing, boating, sun-bathing, or maintaining water wells.

For those in Toronto the restaurant guide is of particular use. It will search your area using GPS and pull up the health inspection notices for all the restaurants nearby, letting you know if they have recently passed inspection and how often their kitchens are placed under scrutiny.


Kingdom of Plants with David Attenborough



Once again acclaimed naturalist David Attenborough combines his insightful commentary with the stunning work of cinematographers to deliver rare glimpses into nature’s most extraordinary work. The journey this time is into the world’s largest collection of living plants at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew in London.

Large, 360 degree panoramas let you explore Kew’s many glass houses and fields while fullscreen photo galleries showcase a diversity of plant life that includes exotic flowers, meat-eating monsters, and plants so old that they were alive during the American Revolution.

The touchscreen is combined with time-lapse photography to let you open and close blooms with just a swipe of your finger while Attenborough manages to offer sights never seen by the public including the world of a night-flowering cactus and a look into the Millennium Seed Vaults.

The app is intended to be a companion to the television documentary Kingdom of Plants, and while I’m sure it will eventually be available in Canada on DVD, you’ll find 45 minutes of the documentary included here. Thanks to your iPad, you won’t have to wait.

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