The Wyze camera feels like a scam. While companies like Nest and Amazon sell indoor cameras that cost anywhere from $120 to $200 or more, Wyze Labs is selling its camera for $20 (plus $6 shipping). This seems ludicrous. I was suspicious when I tried out the cameras, but if there’s a major downside, I’m struggling to see it.
Before we get to my experience, let’s get the obvious question out of the way: How can this camera be so cheap? For starters, Wyze Labs licenses the hardware from a Chinese manufacturer for dirt cheap. All Wyze adds is the app (which we’ll come back to later). The service costs are also extremely low. Out of the box, the Wyze camera can detect motion and save 12-second clips using Amazon Web Services, but that’s it. If you want continuous recording, you’ll need to supply your own Micro SD card. Unfortunately, there’s no option to record or automatically backup footage to, say, Dropbox or your own networked storage. On the other hand, that’s one less location you have to secure to keep your footage away from prying eyes.
Combine that minimal feature set and production cost with a thin margin (which Wyze hopes to make up for in high volume) and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a cheap camera that’s surprisingly not crap. Depending on how much you trust smaller manufacturers, it may even be the best choice for monitoring your home.
The Hardware May Be Inexpensive, But It’s Not Cheap
Compared to something like a smartphone, a home security camera doesn’t need much when it comes to hardware design. It doesn’t need to “feel good in the hand” or even look that attractive. It just needs to mount easily and point in a certain direction. On those points, the Wyze Cam excels. The camera’s base is magnetic so you can attach it to a metal surface with absolutely no setup whatsoever. To test it while I was out of town for CES, for example, I attached one camera to the side of my fridge. This gave me an excellent look of the kitchen and nearby office without having to drill holes or set up mounting plates.
If you don’t happen to have a convenient metal surface near where you’d like to mount the camera, it also comes with a sticky pad and a metal plate. Just stick the plate where you want and turn any spot in your house into a magnetic surface to mount your camera. Normally we’d be wary of a stick-on solution, but the camera is so light that it holds remarkably well.
The base of the camera is where the real magic happens on the hardware. With two joints and a rotating plate on the bottom, you can point the camera in nearly any direction. This simple design gives the camera a degree of flexibility that competing cameras can’t always match—and when they can, it’s not as flexible or doesn’t have the same range of motion. For a $20 camera, it has an impressively simple yet powerful design.
The Wyze App Gives More Expensive Competitors a Run For Their Money
Even if Wyze sold its app as a software suite for $20 without including a camera, it still might just be worth it. You can use the two-way microphone to speak through your camera and hear responses. Unlike other cameras, this is true two-way audio, not a walkie-talkie type solution where you have to take turns. You can also save photos or record your own clips (which will be stored on the AWS servers if you don’t have a Micro SD card) in an album.
With a Micro SD card inserted, you can record as much footage as your card can handle. A timeline in Playback mode lets you scroll back and forth through your footage to find the moment you want to see. You can also see a time lapse of all the footage you’ve recorded if you want to get the gist of what happened without watching it in real time.
Wyze also offers several smart features. It can detect motion or sound to save clips (though this can be turned off if you don’t want your footage stored on third-party servers) and creates a timeline of each event. This lets you easily see at a glance whenever something happened inside your home. You can narrow motion detection to certain hours of the day as well, if you’d rather only monitor for action at night. It can also detect smoke or CO2 alarms by recognizing the sound (no smart alarms required) and let you know immediately when something’s happening at your home.
The app interface isn’t always the easiest to use (it would be nice to be able to resize the history timeline for scrolling back through long security footage, for example), but for the included software with a $20 camera, it’s hard to be unimpressed.
Wyze Stores Very Little Data, and Encrypts It All
My biggest question with a $20 camera right off the bat is “What is it doing with my data?” For the most part, the answer to that question is that it doesn’t really collect much data at all. Unlike Nest or Amazon, there’s no option to continuously record video on third-party servers. If you want to store your camera feed indefinitely, you’ll need to supply your own Micro SD card. Your storage will then be limited to whatever fits on that card (with the oldest data being continuously deleted to make room for new footage).
What if you don’t install an SD card? In that case you have the optional ability to record twelve second clips whenever your camera detects motion. According to Waze, these clips use end-to-end encryption, so an attacker that intercepts the footage (or finds it stored on AWS) wouldn’t be able to see it anyway. Clips are also deleted after 14 days unless you save them, so there’s not a huge backlog of footage to pull from. If you’re still not comfortable with that, you can turn off motion detection and no footage will ever be recorded. Again, unless you supply your own Micro SD card.
Finally, there’s live streaming. If you open the app on your phone, you can get a live view of your camera’s feed whether you’re recording or not. According to a Wyze rep on Reddit, the streaming service is provided to Wyze by a company called ThroughTek. The video feed is encrypted so anyone snooping on your video stream won’t be able to see your video, and Wyze has even taken extra steps to make sure that video traffic is only routed through North American servers.
That’s not to say Wyze is without security concerns. Most glaringly, there is no two-factor authentication on your Wyze account. In a world where companies get hacked regularly, this should be mandatory for everyone, but especially an account with a direct video feed inside your home. It’s not quite enough to nix our recommendation (especially since the product is only a few months old), but it’s the kind of thing that needs to be at the top of Wyze’s priority list to fix.
Placing an internet-connected camera inside your home is always going to be a risk. Whether you feel comfortable trusting a company like Wyze is going to come down to personal preference. Personally, the local storage and option to turn off motion detected clips were enough to make me comfortable leaving two cameras trained on my apartment for a week. However, the lack of two-factor authentication on my Wyze account would give me pause if it’s not added before too long.
Wyze Camera Review: The Cheapest Home Security System You’ll Ever FindFor the price, though, you’re making very few sacrifices. Competitors like Nest and Amazon have a more robust feature set, but not by much. They also require ongoing subscriptions for some of their best features, which makes the higher price point for their cameras that much less palatable. If you want to monitor your home for dirt cheap, and you can bring yourself to trust a relatively new company, the Wyze camera might be perfect for you.
Who would have thought, back in October 2010, that Instagram would become the platform that completely changed the way we socialize, shop and interact in 2019. And this is true for both personal accounts and brands.
Now, more than ever before, Instagram is an integral resource to many influencers and businesses. It has the ability to spread a wide reach and influence billions. On top of that, eCommerce business owners are able to unleash the potential of their goods through new features that were announced at Facebook’s F8 conference earlier in May 2019.
In order to make sure you’re up-to-date with the trendiest platform, here are eight new Instagram features to watch out for in 2019.
01. Shoppable tags
This update is mainly geared towards social media influencers (both micro and macro). Known by Instagram as ‘Creators,’ these influencers are used by brands to promote either products or services. Now, these Creators are able to a linked ‘tag’ a product or brand within their post. Thus, by simply tapping on the tag (that displays the name and the price of the article), viewers are redirected to the product’s or service’s page within the brand’s website.
This feature enables a smoother process for browsers to discover what brands or influencers have on offer, along with a better optimization of the conversion process for the announcers.
02. Shop within Instagram
Instagram is perfect for displaying and talking about products or services. But when it comes down to actually closing the circle and buying whatever is being advertised, users have to eventually leave the app to complete the process. Well, not anymore.
Starting with a few selected accounts, Instagram has now released an in-app checkout feature. Previously, influencers had no real way of directly selling to their followers. They could talk about a product in the description of a post and prompt visitors to either click the link in their bio or swipe up on Instagram Stories. This new Instagram feature is a game-changer for influencers. Not only can they show off the brands they represent, but they can also act as a salesperson and drive purchases directly within Instagram.
03. Sharing feed posts in Stories
The platform has (finally) found a solution to sharing content from feed posts into Stories. This is excellent news for brands and small businesses. Imagine you’re an eCommerce store owner selling sunglasses. A customer has bought your glasses and posted a picture of themselves wearing your latest summer accessory. In the description they give a quick word of praise about your brand and tag you in the post. Now, you as the eCom store owner, can utilize this valuable UGC (user-generated content) and directly share that post to your Instagram Stories.
Here’s how to share a feed post to your Stories:
Tap the airplane button below the post (like you would if you wanted to send the post via DM).
Select the ‘Create a story with the post’ option.
Tap it to see the feed post as a sticker with a customized background color that matches the original post. You can then add more features or text to the post if you wish.
All posts that are shared via Stories include a link back to the original post and also state the poster’s name. It’s a great way to show off your clients and further spread the word about your booming business.
04. Interactive stickers in Stories
Users can now add quiz stickers in their Stories. This allows them to ask a question and give multiple choice answers to the viewers. Game players will be able to see if they are wrong or right and brands will be able to see responses in real time.
This feature is an excellent way to interact with your visitors as well as promote your service or product. Questions can be easy and fun or something brand specific. Let’s say you’re a skin care brand – you can ask which ingredient is best for anti-aging. After you reveal the answer, continue with the same train of thought by explaining the formula and showing off your products that include that specific ingredient.
05. New camera design
The selfie-era is here to stay. How do we know this? By Instagram’s upgraded camera design called ‘Create Mode.’ The new camera includes a semicircular mode switcher that makes it easy to find and use the fun filters we all know and love. The main idea behind this update is to make it easier for users to share content without the need for a photo or video. Following the theme of interactivity, users can also add text, stickers and questions to their front facing camera creation.
06. Donation sticker
Considering the amount of people who use Instagram, it’s no surprise that crowdfunding has made its way into the social channel. With the donation sticker feature, you can now raise money for nonprofits straight from within the app.
To get started:
Open up ‘Stories’.
Take or select a picture from your camera roll.
From the stickers selection, choose ‘Donation.’
You can customize the sticker using Instagram Stories’ creative tools.
After it’s live, you can swipe up to see the total amount of people that have donated. Important to note: 100% of the money you raise will go directly to the nonprofit of your choice.
07. Creator profile
In the same way that Facebook released a Facebook business page option, Instagram is now following suite. Insta’s version will be referred to as a ‘Creator profile.’ It’s an influencer’s dream as the profile will give businesses access to an array of insights and in-depth analytics. Some of these include: engagement stats, knowing when your audience is online, and detailed demographic information.
The creator profile also enables businesses or influencers to have access to specific data which shows who followed or unfollowed them as a result of their shared content. The specialized profile allows for DM (direct message) filtering options. Now, creators can rank messages in order of relevance (messages from family, friends or other brands). More control comes with being able to set your preferred method of contact – that could be email, text, call or DM.
However, much like the coveted ‘swipe up’ feature, the creator profile is said to be reserved for accounts with a following of 10K or more.
08. Hiding ‘like’ count
In an effort for influencers and creators to combat a ‘pressurized environment’ according to Adam Mosseri of Facebook, Instagram is testing out the notion of doing away with showing how many ‘likes’ a picture has. The owner of the image will have a total number, but browsers will only be able to see a list of who has liked the image.
The ‘hiding’ of comments seems to be a way to make Instagram a more authentic place where users can connect to their followers without the added pressure of competitiveness. For now, the feature is still in the trial phase. It will be interesting to see how people feel about not being able to ‘judge’ an image based on its ‘like’ success.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are one of the most helpful parts of your business. Being able to keep track of your customers, lead generation, contact history, and so much more is essential to running an efficient business. Especially an online one. However, you might not want to use an external platform like HubSpot or ZoHo. If you want to keep things in your own WordPress dashboard, there are a number of options that you can choose from that will keep the money flowing and the customers happy.
1. vCita CRM and Lead Management
We have covered vCita plugins before, and they are pretty impressive. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that their CRM plugin would be, too. A part of their small business management suite, the CRM tools full-featured and robust, letting you take payments, put the onus of starting a conversation on the clients, messaging with them after that, and setting up meetings easily and fluidly, all while tracking their journeys through the process so they can be funneled to the right person on your team.
vCita doesn’t make the simplest software out there, so you may have to put in some time learning how things work and getting the details sorted, but when you do, your WP back-end will be connected to an incredibly powerful platform that won’t disappoint.
WP-CRM is exactly what it sounds like: a CRM for WordPress. Well-named, right? As the plugin page says, “your WP control panel can effectively be used to manage all your customers, vendors, partners, affiliates, etc.” By utilizing the base WordPress user system, the CRM plugin lets you take information that you likely already have and make better use of it than you can by default. You can manage correspondence and messaging, add labels and attributes to them so that you can filter results and find who you need quickly, and much more. If the free plugin on the WP.org repository isn’t enough for you, there are add-ons that you can purchase to expand the functionality of the CRM in your dashboard. And if there’s something you’d like in the system that hasn’t been added, there’s an open GitHub repo. That way, you can contribute to the project yourself.
At their core, Customer Relation Management systems are really fancy contact forms and email systems. They keep track of who you’ve talked to, when, and the general history of their communications with you. UpiCRM takes that base and runs with it. Because there are roughly 14 gazillion contact forms on the WP.org repo, Upi lets them do the heavy lifting. By integrating with pretty much all the major players (“WPforms, Contact Form7, Contact Form 7 DB, Gravity Form, Ninja Forms, CalderaForms, Cforms” and more according to the plugin page), Upi is free to work on the CRM features that matter the most to you: the relationship and lead generation. Honestly, UpiCRM is one of the most fleshed-out CRMs you can have in your WP dashboard. You have analytics, user funneling, hierarchies, tracking, external lead aggregation. As well as team set-up and collaboration, customer lifecycle, and more. And did we mention it’s free? Well, it is. There are zero reasons not to give it a shot now.
Perfex is a premium CRM that comes in at $59 on CodeCanyon. Don’t let that sway you, though. Because in this instance, you certainly do get what you pay for. Invoicing is one of the major highlights of the software, and on top of that, there’s a ticketing system where you can track support issues as well as customer inquiries and communications. Like external CRMs like HubSpot, Perfex can track time so you can bill effectively, track your leads and import them from different places, as well as annotate them and create team-based proposals so you know what stage of the process everyone is on with everything. Surveys, goal tracking, and even internal messaging/memos/announcements can keep your team in-the-know. Additionally, Perfex uses custom fields for the customer data and leads, so you likely already know how to work with these from the moment you install it. With reports and user/staff privileges, if you want an affordable CRM that can compete with the Big Names, check out Perfex.
WP ERP isn’t just a CRM. It’s a full business manager that just happens to include CRM as a core part. The plugin page for WP ERP says the plugin comes with three core parts : HR Management, CRM, and Accounting — with Project Management available through a secondary plugin. If this sounds too good to be true for a free plugin on the WP repository…it is. In the free version of the WP ERP CRM (how’s that for an acronym?), you get contact management and filtering, schedules for users and clients and staff, reports, and various contact groups and life stages of their relationship with you. For some users, those are the major points of why they need a CRM. In the premium versions, of which there are 5 tiers, you can get HubSpot, MailChimp, Salesforce, and WooCommerce syncing, integration with Gravity Forms as well as extras like SMS messaging to customers and clients and so on.
The pricing isn’t absurd, though, because the tiers run from $149 to $1199 per year, and those are very competitive withother CRM platforms. The major elements missing from the free plan for most folks will be external syncing and email campaigns, but if you handle that outside of WP, you will find a lot to love here.
Photoshop has been out on the market for a long time and there isn’t a designer who hasn’t heard about it. That’s a fact. Professionals use it to edit everything, from photos, movies, to anything graphic design related. Undoubtedly, Photoshop is a leader among the editing tools, and rightly so. The multitude of features and options it comes with make it a software for the advanced. Unfortunately, its complexity can be an impossible labyrinth for some, an unpenetrable mystery. For this very reason, we decided to make all your lives easier by putting together a handy list of the best Photoshop alternatives.
We know the hassle that Photoshop comes with, and we know the price. Not only does it need hundreds of hours of practice until you get familiarized with it, but it can also be quite costly for designers at the beginning of their career. Our goal on Webdesignledger is to make designers’ work as enjoyable as possible through accessible resources. Today’s blog post is for those who have been looking for Photoshop alternatives that are easier to use and more affordable. Check these out and choose your favorite:
The reasons we love this tool are quite numerous. We’ll start with our favorite: it’s free. Don’t we all like free quality products? Krita is Photoshop’s younger sister, they look and feel very similar. It’s feature-rich and highly recommended by the people online. We recommend you all to use Krita as a Photoshop alternative because:
it has a ton of cool effects
it offers a multitude of templates on different subjects
you can use it on tablets
Unfortunately, Krita doesn’t keep the history of your edits, nor does it have a camera RAW filter. But these little negatives don’t matter so much when all the other features complement each other so well.
One of the downsides of Photoshop is that you need room for it. You may have to delete stuff on your computer in order to install it. This is where Sumpaint comes into action. This amazing alternative is an online tool which means you can keep everything on your laptop in place. Sumopaint is on our list today because:
it’s super easy to use
it has plenty of features
it offers support for layers and blending modes
Edit on the go with your tablet or smartphone with this amazing Photoshop alternative. Multi Layer beats all the other phone tools with its richness of features. Believe it or not, the app offers grit support and even support for blending and layers. Being a free tool, they have to financially support the app through ads which will pop up at times. But even so, we love it for:
its simple utilization
its curve editing feature
its multitude of options
Unlike Krita which doesn’t feature a history toolbar, GIMP does! It is also free and that always makes us happy. Plus, what if I told you that it’s able to do almost everything that Photoshop can, sometimes even better? No wonder people recommend it so much online as a Photoshop alternative. It’s easy to work with and we wouldn’t trade it for Photoshop as:
it offers layers support and blending modes
it features a history toolbar
it supports image slicing and Rulers and Guides
We dare to say that Affinity Photo is better than Photoshop. First, let’s start with the price. Compared to Photoshop, Affinity Photo is so much cheaper! With a one-off payment, you are good to go. Its creators openly affirmed that the aspects Photoshop lacks in, they’ve got it covered. Affinity Photo is among the best on the market, and this is why:
it’s much faster than Photoshop
crashes less than Photoshop
features unlimited undos
This list could not exist without Sketch. The tool is as feature rich as flexible. Although it is a paid software, you get a ton for the price. And that’s due to the numerous community-created plugins you can access anytime to extend its functionality. The only downside to Sketch is its limited platform availability. Unless you are a Mac user you can’t enjoy this amazing tool. But even so, we applaud it for:
its infinite zooming
the ability to build a new graphic with the vector and pencil tool
including color picker, layers, gradients, and style presets
This app is for free. You’ll want to know this little detail when I tell you that it comes with more than 600 effects. Pixlr is that app that you must have on downloaded on your phone for quick edits that actually look good. Crop, resize, whiten teeth if needed, it’s all possible with Pixlr. We added the app to our list due to:
its availability on iOS and Android
the 600 effects, overlays, and borders
Aviary specializes in basic editing and it does it in style. It’s a super tool for editing images into memes and not only. It’s easy to use, yet full of features. You can edit small details such as blemishes, add stickers, and change the depth of focus. Aviary can be accessed both online and on phones. We mostly like that:
it’s free and the online editor is add free
it comes with a wide range of tools
it’s easy to use
Which Photoshop alternative do you use? We would love to know your recommended tools and what makes them special in the comment section below. Also, stay up to date with the latest news and trends in design by visiting us daily. We strive to bring the best and most useful content and would appreciate if you liked, shared, and subscribe to our blog.
If you’re the kind of Photoshop user who primarily opens the software to resize and crop images, you might never touch the Brush tool. However, if you’re in Photoshop day-in and day-out, Brushes are likely to be your best friend. Having as many options as possible will undoubtedly make your life a little better. And if those options are free, then maybe it will be a lot better.
While many brushes emulate real-world artists’ tools, not every single one does so. Dispersion is a free Photoshop brush that gives you the unique effect of shattering (or dispersing) parts of your work. Doing an effect like this by hand would be incredibly time-consuming. But with Dispersion, a few clicks and strokes…and you’re good to go. This particular set comes with 20 high-resolution brushes for pretty much anything that you could want to do with it.
It may have been given a bad rap in pop culture lately because of its overuse in some movies, but lens flare is an effectthat can really take a design to the next level. Using it sparingly and effectively in your designs can give a feeling of peace and calm or even of adventure and excitement just by placing a single flare in a work. Don’t overdo it with this set of 20 high-res brushes, and your work will undoubtedly impress your clients.
Superheroes are everywhere these days, and at some point, a client is going to want a comic- or superhero-themed design. You might as well prepare yourself for that by downloading this 15-brush set, aptly called Comic. There is no way that having this set of brushes won’t save you time and effort.
The creative nerds over at Creative Nerds have put together some delightfully pretty spray paint-themed free Photoshop brushes for you to download. This one does cost you an email address to unlock the freeness, but it’s worth it. While PS does come with some spray brushes, they can be pretty limited. The nerds have done a great job of letting your brush strokes more realistically splatter the digital canvas with the speckles that give real spray paint its allure.
If spray painting isn’t your style, but you really like that abstract look, maybe the Watercolor Splatters 32-brush set will work for you. Even in more specific and detailed work, you can use a splatter brush for accent and distressing.
Stone 4 is actually full of 15 free Photoshop brushes. Instead of having to deal with masks and layers to achieve a stone-like finish, wouldn’t you just prefer to press B and pick a brush to do it for you? We certainly would. In terms of a time-saving brush that will certainly improve your quality-of-life, Stone 4 doesn’t disappoint. While some brushes and styles go in and out of trend, having a solid, stone brush that you can turn to never goes out of style. Clients will always need this kind of look to emphasize professional power and authority, so grab these 15 and help empower them. There is also a Stone 1-3, too. Stone 3 is extra pretty, too.
Much like Dispersion at the top of the list, Shattered gives you a fantastic effect that can improve your quality of life and give clients a unique design in much less time than hand-creating every shard. While we generally see this kind of effect in logos and advertising, there are a lot of uses for it in web design that can create some unique page transitions and effects. And at least with this broken glass, you don’t have to worry about cutting your fingers.
Smoke is one of those elements that you can use in pretty much any design for any reason, and it would fit. So grabbing Smoke Brushes is a no-brainer, we think. Whether you’re enhancing the mystique of an evening’s photoshoot, giving website users a tour of mystery, or adding wispy whimsy to lettering or illustration, this set of free Photoshop brushes will be right at home in any designer’s toolbox.
Retro technology is everywhere right now. What is old is new again, and what is new again at this moment is ’80s-style technology. And while for its day, the tech was amazing, we’ve come to associate the occasional fuzzy screen and flicker or glitch with the time period as well. Because it’s so trendy and popular, keeping a few brushes to emulate the glitches of decades past would not be a bad idea. In fact, it would be a good one. Additionally, this isn’t the only set of Glitch brushes available. As you scroll down the page for this particular set, you will find over a dozen variants in the series to create whatever kind of computer problems or corruption your clients might need.
In life, glitter can be a pain. While it’s gorgeous and adds sparkle to literally anything, that sparkle is sometimes hardimpossible to get rid of. Not true in the digital realm, where you can add as much glitter to your designs as you or your clients want. This is the one time that it’s okay to glitterbomb someone or something. There’s no clean up required, and there won’t be any tiny pieces stuck to places you don’t want. With these fabulous free Photoshop brushes, any design you create will shine as bright as you can imagine.