A new lifestyle-inspired iOS wallpaper app, Paper’d, is available Monday, offering free, professionally designed wallpapers based on everything from pop culture to worldwide travel.

The app was created by two best friends Jamie Varon and Nicole Antoinette. You may remember Varon from 2009 when she created the website TwitterShouldHireMe.com. The site got a ton of attention, which ultimately led her to create the high-end boutique web design company Shatterboxx in April of that year.

A few months after creating Shatterboxx she stumbled upon now business-partner Antoinette’s blog, reached out to her on Twitter, and the two became friends. Fast forward to December 2009, the Twitter buddies finally met in San Francisco, decided to move in together 24 hours later, and within a few weeks Antoinette became the other half of the Shatterboxx team.

Shatterboxx has done design work for a number of popular blogs including TheBloggess and Rocket Shoes, but this is its first introduction into the app world.

“I always wanted to change the wallpaper on my phone. I would look all over the Internet for options, and they were all on websites. That’s so inefficient,” Varon told Mashable. She found that most wallpaper options were also just curated pictures from the web. “None of it meets the quality of what I’d want to put on my phone,” she said.

The project started out as creating wallpapers for her personal use that she would also share with friends. When her friends started emailing her asking for new wallpapers, Varon realized that there might be a larger market for the designs.

 

Paper’d was created by two best friends Jamie Varon and Nicole Antoinette.

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“People don’t need this app, but it will be super fun to have,” says Varon. “We’re passionate about design, and these are things people will look at and say ‘That’s cool!’”

Paper’d offers 200 free, hand-designed wallpapers, as well as around 260 additional images that are part of locked collections priced between $0.99 to $1.99 a piece. Each wallpaper comes with a lock screen image as well as a complementing home screen image. Images –including those that are part of locked collections — can be previewed on your iPhone before you download, and you can choose to download just one wallpaper or an entire collection to your Camera Roll at once.

Varon anticipates adding at least one new collection of wallpapers to the app each week, potentially more or less over time depending on demand.

Curious how two people could go from Twitter friends to launching an app together? Check out the infographic below for more on Varon and Antoinette’s story.

More About: apps, iphone, trending, Twitter

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There are Twitter users that have 25,000 followers, but they follow 24,870. Do they have true influence or does the person that has 5000 followers and follows 230 people have more influence? There are a lot of people out there are “teaching” others how to use Twitter and they brag about their Twitter followers, but […]

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1. Hands

Pinterest via Edris Kim.

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If you’re like us, you’re obsessed with Pinterest. You get excited when you find pictures you love and pin them to your online bulletin boards with a sense of pride that they are yours.

With so many photos on the two-year-old social scrapbooking site — and countless more added each day — it’s common for some to only get a handful of re-pins. Meanwhile, other images pick up so much popularity that they go virtually viral, getting pinned from one board to the next.

SEE ALSO: 7 Tips for Planning a Wedding on Pinterest | Pinterest Becomes Top Traffic Driver for Retailers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Here are 15 of some of the most popular pictures on Pinterest — all of which have raked in more than 15,000 re-pins each.

Are any of these pictures on your boards? If not, go ahead and pin them, or leave some suggestions in the comments about your favorite pins.

More About: Facebook, Photos, pinterest, Social Media, trending, Twitter

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1. Join

If you haven’t already, sign up for a Pinterest account. There’s a waiting list to join now — talk about exclusivity — but you can beat the system by having an existing Pinterest member send you a request. If you don’t know anyone on Pinterest, some have had success by finding members via Twitter and asking for invitations that way.

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If you’re planning a wedding and knee-deep in collecting ideas for the perfect dress, hairstyle and invitations, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with Pinterest.

The two-year-old social bookmarking site — which allows users to collect and share things they like on the Internet — is becoming a hotbed for the wedding industry. Not only are Pinterest users adding images to their virtual pinboards for inspiration to help plan their big day, but some are collecting ideas for the future and aren’t even engaged.

Either way, Pinterest is an easy way to make planning a wedding more manageable. It’s like ripping the pages out of wedding magazines and taping them to your bulletin board — but digitally. Even better, each picture is typically linked to a site where you can buy the styles you want, learn DIY crafting tips and become informed about the latest trends. Friends and other Pinterest followers can also leave comments and feedback to make the whole planning process more interactive.

SEE ALSO: Pinterest: 13 Tips and Tricks for Cutting Edge Users

To make the most of the site, here are simple and effective ways to use Pinterest for wedding planning — from which boards to create and who to follow to leveraging your findings while shopping in stores.

Are you planning a wedding via Pinterest? Let us know your tips in the comments below.

More About: Facebook, pinterest, Social Media, Twitter

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Pinspire vs. Pinterest

It doesn’t get more blatant than this. Pinspire is pretty much a pixel-for-pixel Pinterest clone, created by the serial digital ripoff artists at Rocket Internet. It’s a bit obscene just how much of a copycat Pinspire is — from concept to functionality to the cursive-style logo. Will it be as lucrative for the Rocket’s Sawmer Brothers as their other projects, an eBay clone they sold to the real auction site for $50 million or the European deals site that Groupon gobbled up? Or will someone finally serve them with a cease-and-desist letter? If that happens, someone please pin it.

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In the world of social media, discovering that worthwhile original idea for your app or website is by far the hardest thing to get right. It’s so hard, in fact — and the field so potentially lucrative — that many parties who jump into the field tend not to bother. Why should you create something original when there are so many successful sites and services that you can just rip off?

At least that appears to be the thinking behind many Internet companies whose concepts, web design or apps appear to owe a lot to other, more successful forebears. Once you start looking, it’s not hard to find digital ripoffs. At best, they’re quirky homages inspired by a successful digital brand. At worst, they’re ersatz imitators looking to cash in on someone else’s idea — just a step or two above malware.

Perhaps that’s a little harsh. After all, the humor writer Josh Billings once said, “About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment.” If you substitute “web designer” for “writer,” he may have been talking about the state of digital design today. After all, it would be impossible to find a design that isn’t at least a little derivative.

SEE ALSO: Top 5 Web Design Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Still, there’s a difference between borrowing some core design ideas and wholesale imitating. In social media, where the essential premise of connecting and sharing with your friends provides a basic architecture, perhaps the line between the two is blurrier than in other fields. After all, Facebook was called a MySpace clone, which was called a Friendster clone before that. But they are (and were) nothing like each other.

While building on existing concepts will always be part of design, so too will mimics, where the cloning is so pervasive and total that the site is nothing more than a copy of the original, merely slipped into a different skin. Here are the 10 most flagrant design ripoffs in social media today, at least to Mashable‘s eye.

More About: BlinkList, Copycats, delicious, DianDian, digg, DZone, Facebook, foursquare, Funded By Me, hacker news, heello, instagram, kickstarter, picplz, Pinspire, pinterest, reddit, scvngr, Social Media, trending, tumblr, Twitter, web design, yammer

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The following infographic is by Dan Zarrella of HubSpot. This IG a lot of great recommendations if you are looking to increase your clicks on Twitter. I especially liked the suggestions on using words correctly and the use of action words. I guess I will be tweeting more on the weekends too. To find out […]

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Twitter announced this week that is has been hacked by more than 100 coders and developers … from Twitter.

But don’t go cancelling your account. This is all part of Twitter’s official 2012 Hack Week, a week-long event where employees from across the company are given time away from their desks to hack Twitter, coming up with new tools, ideas and designs to make the Twitter experience even better.

“Hack Week is one of the ways we actively promote innovation through experimentation around the company,” the company wrote in a blog post. “This week, a wide range of folks here are taking time away from their day-to-day work to collaborate and develop ideas that they are passionate about.”

Twitter employees have formed nearly 100 teams to build Twitter-related projects. Some will tackle ease-of-use, some will be just for fun and some will be completely off the wall. Twitter has given its “hackers” little direction, allowing them to freely create and iterate.

More and more companies are realizing the power of crowdsourcing — asking your audience to help you make important brand and business decisions. It may seem risky to ask a mass of anonymous strangers what to do with your money and identity, but the practice has payed off in dividends when done right.

Mountain Dew asked its audience to help it pick a new soda flavor and that campaign, called DEWmocracy, created fan engagement, brand loyalty and improved the bond between consumer and brand.

Companies are starting to realize that that same bond is also necessary with their employees, and what better way to show faith in your staff than to let their talent shine unfettered? Twitter’s Hack Week does just that. Stay tuned for more information. Mashable will follow up with any cool — or possibly permanent — hacks that pop up.

Do you wish your company would give you a hack week or is it just wasted time? Sound off in the comments.




twitter hack week image

Image courtesy of Flickr, dbrulz123 and Twitter

More About: crowdsourcing, hacking, Social Media, Twitter

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A team of engineers, drawn from Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, have rebuilt Google to “focus on the user” and re-jigger Google’s recent Search Plus Your World changes, which put results for Google+ pages above sometimes more relevant pages like those on other social networks.

“We created a tool that uses Google’s own relevance measure—the ranking of their organic search results—to determine what social content should appear in the areas where Google+ results are currently hardcoded,” the site explaining the proof of concept says.

The project, called Focus on the User, compares Google’s new search results to those that would be, the engineers say, more relevant. One example shows Google’s results for a search for “movies” — it pulls up links to Google+ pages for actors, IMDb and movies, even if those Google+ pages are used less often than the actors’ Twitter accounts or IMDb’s Facebook page.




Here’s how the tool, which is also offered as a bookmarklet, works:

“If Google decides that it’s relevant to surface Google+ page as a result in any of the areas where Google+ content is hardcoded, the tool searches Google for the name of the Google+ page. Then, the tool identifies the social profiles within the first ten pages of Google results (top 100 results). The ones Google ranks highest — whether they are from Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Quora, Tumblr, Foursquare, Crunchbase, FriendFeed, Stack Overflow, Github or Google+ — replace the previous results that could only be from Google+.”

We already knew Twitter was unhappy with Google’s Search Plus Your World changes. Since engineers from Facebook and other social sites also contributed to it (Facebook confirms engineers from Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and other social networking companies did, indeed, contribute to the project), we now have an idea of at least what their architects think of Google’s update.

Check out the video above to learn more. And tell us in the comments, what do you think of this new tool? Would you rather turn up Google results like this?

[via Business Insider]

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, gmutlu

More About: Facebook, Google, mashable video, trending, Twitter

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Technology has come to the aid of those born without green thumbs. SparkFun’s Botanicalls Kit lets your plants tell you when they’re thirsty.

The petal-shaped chip connects to your house plant and tweets you as soon as the moisture drops. The kit consists of an Arduino microcontroller, an ethernet module and two probes that insert into soil to detect water levels. The DIY Botanicalls Kit comes with 15 small parts, plus a dozen smaller wires and hooks.

This kit truly is DIY — you’ll need a soldering iron, solder, needle nose pliers, ethernet cable, small snips, flat-head screwdriver, masking tape and a lot of patience to put this project together.

SparkFun’s Botanicalls Kit is pre-programmed, but you can customize your own Twitter reminders. The project was developed by Kate Hartman, Kati London and Rob Faludi. There are a total of 12 of these contraptions available now. At $99.95 per unit, each purchase will fund further research and development for the product.

See the video above for more details about the project. Tell us in comments whether you would be interested in something like this for your home.

Image courtesy of Sparkfun.com, Botanicalls Kit

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A company has found a way to incorporate smells into the Internet. Imagine, your significant other mentions you on Twitter and magically you smell his/her perfume. If someone tags you in a Facebook video, the scent of buttered popcorn or fruit fills the room. Olly makes an Internet with smell possible.

Olly — a web-connected smelly robot — created by London and New York-based company called Mint Foundry will give all your online notifications a scent. The creators figured since the web incorporates sight and sound, it’s time to experience it in a different way.

Olly would scent anything from a tweet on Twitter, Like on Instagram, to a photo tag on Facebook.

As seen in the video, Olly is a compact white box that has a removable space in the back that can be filled with any scent you desire. The company suggests essential oils, fruit, perfume, cologne or a drop of gin. They can be stacked, so you can give all your online accounts a different smell.

The process would involve downloading an application, signing in with a username and password into the Olly app and having the physical Olly reader.

Olly is not available for purchase yet. The company is working to garner backers for the project.

Would you want to experience the web with smell? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

More About: Facebook, Gadgets, mashable video, Robot, Social Media, Twitter

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