App time! Rounding up two new mobile and desktop apps

Adding music to videos and enhancing older photos has never been more fun

PhotoLemur screen grab
Keith Shaw / Network World

The main goal of the column has always focused on gizmos and gadgets, but on occasion I still discover some non-gizmo goodies – aka software or apps. So here are two quick apps that have spent some time on my phone and computer:

Moodelizer: If you’ve always wanted to add a soundtrack to your mobile phone videos, but didn’t want to take the time to grab some royalty-free music and open up a video editor after the fact, Moodelizer should help. Think of this app like an Instagram filter, but for audio. The app provides you with a selection of audio clips, with names like “Arcade, Sitcom, Horror, Bride, Cartoon, etc.” A box that takes up the majority of the screen lets you film from either of the phone’s camera (rear camera or ‘selfie’ camera). When you choose your audio style, a button inside the box lets you choose different zones within the camera frame – when you move around, you get a different sound as part of the “soundtrack”. You can rehearse what you want to do, or you can tap a button and start recording.

The hardest part is figuring out what exactly to shoot in this manner. If you don’t have a lot of audio already in your clip (like you’re on a mountain and shooting the vista, or if you’re shooting your child’s gymnastic routine), then adding a soundtrack makes sense. If you’re filming an interview or something where your subject needs to talk, it’s a bit trickier. But if you’re stuck for ideas, just give the app to your kids or just start filming them, they’ll give you some other inspiration. Here's a quick one that I recorded in the office:

One quick warning – you can hear the audio while you’re recording, and so can all of the subjects you’re filming. If you’re filming your boss during a company meeting and using the cartoon category, he might notice.

Once you’re done with the clip, you can share on social media, save it to your camera roll or send anywhere on the planet. The app’s maker says that it hopes to provide a way for you to add the soundtrack clips to videos you’ve already shot – hopefully that will come in an update, as well as a way to get additional categories/sounds/music.

Photolemur: This isn’t a mobile app, but rather an app for either your Mac or Windows computer that can automatically analyze and enhance your photos. It’s not a full-fledged photo editor like Adobe Photoshop, but rather a quick and easy way to take photos that might not be 100% perfect and make them look better.

All you need to do is drag-and-drop photos into the app from your computer, or you can click the “Import” button and choose photos that way. Once in the app, the Photolemur goes to work, applying a bunch of different enhancement/touch-up features to create the best possible photo for you. Using artificial intelligence algorithms, the app performs color recovery, exposure compensation, noise reduction, sky enhancement, tint perfection, natural light correction, face retouching and horizon realignment, to name a few.

In my experiments with a bunch of different photos, the app definitely made the photos appear to look better – overall I think they looked brighter and the colors looked less muted. It’s definitely cool to use these on older images that may have been taken with an earlier model smartphone or other digital camera. Here are some examples of photos I enhanced with PhotoLemur:

Photolemur before after photo app Keith Shaw Keith Shaw / Network World
Sunset photo before image Photlemur software Keith Shaw / Network World

Image taken with an iPhone, before the applied effects of the Photolemur enhancement app.

Sunset photo after Photolemur effect Keith Shaw / Network World

Image after the effects of Photolemur photo enhancement app.

Photolemur software before after shot Keith Shaw / Network World

Older photos seem to benefit from the Photolemur enhancement features, such as this image taken from the mid-2000s on an older iPhone.

It’s also interesting that the app does this as a service – regular plans cost $6 per month (you pay for a full year in advance). If you have a LOT of photos that are old that could use quick and automatic retouching, it might be worth a look, especially if you’re not that skilled in photo editing software.

Bonus! The company is offering a special 20% discount for readers of this article – add the code “NWW20” to receive the discount if you buy a plan before April 30, 2017.

Grades: 4.5 stars (out of five) for each app!

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