Online shopping gets a crowdsourced twist with Svpply, a Boston-based startup that describes itself as "a growing community of people discovering the products they love." Design-savvy founders Ben Pieratt, Eric Jacobsen, and Zach Klein imagined an online store whose inventory could change depending on the friends and favorite stores of its visitors. The resulting social shopping hub is like Twitter with pictures. Register (it's free) to keep track of the things you want to buy or just compile and browse a personal feed of products from across the Web, based on the people and stores you find interesting.
That row of design annuals on your bookshelf may be a thing of the past. This week, the Society of Publication Designers released its first iPad app, SPD 45, a digital companion to its hardcover annual. Designed by Josh Klenert and developed by Balance Software, the app ($19.99 at the iTunes Store) showcases the best in editorial design, photography, and illustration in print and digital, as chosen by SPD's jury of visual journalism pros. Klenert describes it as the "director's cut" of the annual, with more work, expanded examples from the winners, and oodles of search and filter options.
David Hockney may be best known for his splashy paintings and distinctive portraits, but the artist has also dabbled in photographic collages and, more recently, iPhone drawings. Bring a bit of his aesthetic to your favorite pictures with the Hockneyizer, an online tool from Big Huge Labs that transforms a single digital image into a Hockney-style photocollage. Simply upload your photo (try a portrait or panorama), decide whether the resulting collage should have Polaroid-style frames, and select a background color. Those using the tool with Flickr can include photo tags on the frames or add image credits, although Hockney tended to let his collages and composite Polaroids speak for themselves.
Lest your sleek electronic devices feel left out of the Earth-saving action, there is Treemail, an app that brings tree carving -- beloved by hobos and lovesick teenagers alike -- into the digital age. Created by the crafty types at Country Living for use on the iPhone or iPad, Treemail (99 cents at Apple's App Store) allows users to "carve" messages of their choice on a virtual tree. Choose among seven tree barks, from American Elm and Sycamore to Magnolia and Palm, adjust the virtual knife to your preferred thickness, and carve away. Don't worry about mistakes: unlike in the real world, unwanted carvings vanish with a click of the eraser.
Depending on who you ask, the new photo app Color is life-changing, inspiring, frustrating or downright creepy. Founded by tech entrepreneur Bill Nguyen, who lined up $41 million in funding for the venture before you can say "Cheese," Color is not intended for solo use. The idea is for a bunch of people to simultaneously use their smartphones to capture photos, videos, and conversations into a group album -- all without the bother of attaching, uploading, or even identifying people as friends. Think of it as a visual social network, created by algorithms that take into account things like where individual users go, how much time they spend there, and what they're taking photos of. Ready to Color your world? Nguyen suggests downloading the app with a friend beside you. "Everything you see that they capture on their camera you'll have on your camera," he says. "It's a completely surreal experience."
First came Groupon, offering up daily deals on everything from laser hair removal to Matthew McConaughey vehicles. Now comes the deluge of similar sites trying to cash in on the group purchasing model for a more targeted audience. Among the newest players is MightyDeals, which is focused on creative professionals and operated by the team behind the blog Webdesigner Depot. Recent offers have included discounts from our favorite purveyor of business cards (MOO), a couple of new fonts by Giuseppe Salerno, and more Web icons than anyone could possibly need. Each deal is available for a limited time, so act fast.