Tool Time, The Goods: March–April 2017



How do small, creative brands keep their photography looking fresh on Instagram? More and more, they’re experimenting with mobile photo editing apps. Mextures, an app that lets you layer cool effects over photographs, is a favorite with professional photographers, who dig the subtle, moody filters. The options for creativity are endless—among Mextures’ 150 filters are “analog light leaks” and “dusty vintage film scans.” You can even create and save your own effect “formulas” on the app, to use indefinitely. (Free in the App Store)




There are zillions of smart devices on the market built to collect data on our sporting lives. But sleep—which is arguably more critical than exercise to maintaining good health—often gets short shrift. Enter Ōura, a smart ring developed by Finnish entrepreneurs that’s essentially a tracker for sleep. The data Ōura collects (in concert with its companion mobile app) produces a readiness score that hints at how spry we’re likely to be feeling on any given day.

What we liked: The device’s sleep tracking is top-notch and can lead to more mindful choices, such as curbing evening computer screen time in the interest of an earlier bedtime. Users can track their total sleep time, sleep efficiency, how long it took them to doze off, hours in REM sleep, and even their circadian alignment—how closely their snooze jibed with the planet’s dark/light cycles.

What we didn’t like: The ring—which comes in glossy white and black ceramic zirconia, or a “stealth” matte black ceramic zirconia—is on the bulky side, though overall it’s less obtrusive and easier to wear than most bracelet fitness trackers. But its two- to three-day battery life is decidedly old school.

Best feature: It’s not a bracelet! Or even a cocktail ring! The ura doesn’t pass as a fashion piece and it doesn’t try to—it’s too big and looks vaguely medical. But its design is deeply pragmatic. Once it’s on, it doesn’t slip, slide around, or snag things. It simply does its job—without the drama. ($299 for glossy black or white, $499 for matte black;

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