New Tech Toys for your Blog or Browser and iPhone

Some new products were announced recently that bloggers and gadget-geeks will want to check out. The first is from Apture and the second is from Instagram.

For Your Blog or Browser

Apture has been around for a while. It is an in-page search technology that lets you highlight a word on a web page and get search results about the highlighted selection.

There is a Firefox Apture plugin that enables you to use Apture anywhere on any page you see in Firefox. Here’s how it looks. I highlighted the word Gawker in a BlogHer page I was reading in Firefox.


I clicked Learn More and this window appeared.


If you follow any of the links, they are shown in a window over your current page, which you read and close without ever leaving the page you are on. No more opening a special tab for a Google search when you have this installed in your browser.

Apture made news when it announced it will be used inside a publishing tool called Scribd. This is not Apture’s first partnership. It’s already in use in places like The Reader’s Digest and The Wall Street Journal. Scribd specializes in what it calls social publishing. Just about any kind of document you can think of can be published there by members. Once published, documents can be read on the web, in a mobile device or an e-reader. Documents published by Scribd can be shared on Facebook or Twitter or embedded in a blog page.

Here’s part of Apture’s announcement:

Apture Highlights will be integrated across, the largest online social reading and publishing site in the world. This will empower readers to explore multimedia about what they are reading by simply highlighting text – creating a new kind of enhanced multi-media reading experience in documents, made possible by Scribd’s unique HTML5 technology.

Scobleizer called the teaming up of Apture and Scribd the beginning of a “more usable web.”

You can install an Apture plugin in your WordPress blog, so that your readers can find relevant content without ever leaving your page no matter whether they have the Firefox addon or not. With the Apture plugin installed in WordPress, there are two new buttons added to your editing window. One for making hyperlinks and other for embedding content. Apture searches for references, video, images, audio, maps, news, people or other content that can be added to your post.

Kim Pearson used embedded video in Remembering Paul Robeson. She used Apture to embed documents in Distributed Expertise in Enhancing Computing Education With Connections to the Arts. You can see a couple of images of gadgets I found with the Apture plug in for WordPress on Web Teacher. With Apture, you are able to embed interesting content in your site to keep people around longer.

One thing to look out for: if you install the Firefox extension, the WordPress plug in may not work right. This is temporary. I had a problem with the plugin and wrote to Apture support, who answered almost immediately (wow!) and told me to disable the Firefox extension for a few days until they fix the bug.

For Your iPhone

The new toy for your phone is Instagram. It’s a free app that makes publishing the photos from your iPhone easier.

Before Instagram, to send a photo from my phone I had to take the photo and then open some other app like Twitter to post it where I wanted it. With Instagram, as soon as I take a photo with the app, it shoots out to either Facebook, Twitter or Flickr – or all three at once – depending on how I set it up.

Here’s how Instagram does a tweet. The image is sent to an Instagram page.

That Instagram image becomes part of a rotating display of images rather like what you see on Flickr when you click the explore button. It is public to everyone. Naturally, you can set up a list of people whose images you want to watch on Instagram; a friends list, if you will.

If you send it to Flickr, the image becomes one more item in your Flickr stream, not an image on the Instagram site. With Facebook, the image goes into your photos there.

More Resources

Cross-posted at BlogHer.