Your creativity is your ability to generate ideas that are novel and useful, whether for business, art, or other areas. However, to implement your creative ideas, you need tools. I use many helpful apps to let my creative ideas materialize.

The criteria for selecting the apps for the following list were simple: I had to have downloaded them in 2016, and used them in more than 50 percent of my creative projects. Some background--I'm a professional speaker. However, I write my own books, and shoot (and edit) my own videos. I use the camera (including video) on an iPhone 6S (the first iPhone to have a 4K resolution video camera), and also use it as an audio recorder. I sometimes use an iPad as a teleprompter.

So, without further ado--the creative apps I used the most in 2016:

1. Kinomatic ($3.99)

The quality of the iPhone 6S camera (and video camera) far surpassed the quality of high-end video cameras available five years ago. It is capable of 4K resolution and high-quality capture. However, the video app that is integrated with iOS is limited in functionality and flexibility--great for the novice, but no so much for the professional videographer. Kinomatic allows you to play with parameters manually. You can focus manually and change exposure time and aperture, and even the white balance to get the optimal image quality. I shot training videos for Walmart using this app.

2. Camera+ ($2.99)

The same applies to still cameras. Camera+ allows you to change parameters manually. If you use a DSLR in Auto mode, you will not need, nor appreciate, the manual flexibility of the Camera+ app. If you take pictures with a DSLR in other than Auto mode, you will appreciate it. I should add that I use clip-on lenses, especially for zooming. I get at least 2x optical zoom (which doesn't come at the expense of image quality) before I start using the built-in digital zoom.

3. Light Meter (Free)

To set parameters for either a camera or a video camera, you need to know the amount of light available in the scene. Photographers typically use light meters that can cost more than $400. But there is an app for that, and it's free.

4. Green Screener ($9.99)

Shooting high-quality green-screen videos or images requires a homogeneous lighting of the green screen. The less uniform the green screen is, the more flexible video or photo editing needs to be, and the less quality you get around the edges of the object you are shooting. I used to change lighting, take a photo, upload it to the computer, and move around it to see how uniform the green color was. This can take precious hours. I wondered if there was an app for that. Sure enough, there was. At $9.99, Green Screener is one of the more expensive apps I have (with the exception of my ballistic calculator, but that's another story). However, it saves hours when you can see, in real time, how homogeneously your green screen is lit. Then the quality of your video or still pictures is very high. I now swear by green screen. I shoot everything in front of a green screen, and replace the background whenever I'd like with whatever I like.

5. Lexar (Free)

I always shoot my videos at 4K resolution (3940 x 2160), even though I produce them in 1080P quality. This allows me to zoom even during production without sacrificing quality. However, a 4K video takes 350MB per minute. A 20-minute video can take 7GB, and an hourlong lecture would take 21GB. That's a lot of storage, and you can't afford to keep it on your phone. I have a 64GB phone, but more than 50 percent is already occupied by apps, music, and content. Lexar (and others) has an external flash drive that connects to the Lightning port on one side, and to a USB port on the other. It's an easy and fast way to remove the content from the phone and transfer it to the computer. While the app is free, the Lexar drive costs $85 (for a 128GB drive, which is what I have).

6. Stanley Level (Free)

Don't you hate it when you take a video (or pictures) and realize that the camera was not completely straight and level? Sure, you can adjust it using your editing software, but then you lose quality around the edges. This simple, free app tells you how level the phone is, before you start shooting.

7. Voice Record (Free)

The voice memo app that comes with the phone is limited in time and functionality. This free app allows you to control your recording and even see the input signal level as you record. I typically use a second iPhone (or iPad) for that purpose. This app has even more functionality (and dual channels) when used on an iPad. It allows easy transfer of the recording even to your Google Drive, over the air.

8. Teleprompter ($11.99)

I don't typically use a teleprompter. I prefer a natural performance. In my opinion, it is better to break the video into multiple 30-second (or so) segments, edited into different parts of the screen, than to try to record the entire video at once. But if you feel strongly about shooting the entire video at once, and you need a teleprompter to stay on topic, then this app works really nicely in conjunction with an iPad teleprompter device (approximately $150). There is a free version of this app that I used for a while, but the abilities to edit and control the screen remotely are valuable enough to justify the $12.

9. Google Drive (Free)

I write books. I just published my fifth one ( Un-Kill Creativity). You never know when inspiration will hit. Actually, you do, because you can control the creative process, but that's beside the point. So I host my manuscripts on Google Drive (and Google Docs), and can access them through any mobile device, from wherever I am. I wrote more than 50 percent of my second and fifth books using a mobile device, away from my main computer--the cloud in all its glory.

10. PopApp (Free)

When it comes to app development, if you follow the Design Thinking creative methodology developed by Ideo, then you know you must prototype and field-test quickly. This past year, I dabbled with developing an app. I will share that in a later article. However, instead of developing the back-end cloud support and database and front-end app design, I used PopApp. I developed screenshots using PowerPoint, captured them as pictures, uploaded them to PopApp, created the "hot areas" and buttons within each screenshot, and demonstrated it to potential users. In minutes, you can develop an app prototype. You are somewhat limited with the functionality of the free version, but I haven't hit those limits yet.

Those were the creativity apps I downloaded and used in 2016. Can't wait to see what 2017 brings.

Published on: Dec 1, 2016
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