Vanguard V

☀☀☀ In the third-person VR game Vanguard V, you control an astronaut in a spacesuit and a robot companion. Learning time: less than five minutes. You move your headset to control the gameplay. The point of view switches to first-person sporadically, changing perspectives between the astronaut and the robot companion. Most of the game consists of dodging debris and meteors and protecting the “heat shield.” Vanguard V is fun, but don’t use a headset without a strap; there’s a lot of head motion involved. Its journalistic value is minimal: you can learn how to use a headset. — Garrison Murphy

VR Stories

☀☀ USA Today’s VR Stories needs improvement. Its interface is difficult to navigate. Users can’t maneuver through the app while the phone is in the virtual reality goggles, which made using it a hassle. It falls short in its goal of integrating users into news stories. Some of the “videos” on the app were not videos at all, but lower quality 360 pictures. Most of the app’s videos left something to be desired in overall experience. The app has potential for immersing users into stories but has not yet reached the quality of other VR apps out there. — Carly Henry

Ascape Virtual Travel & Tours

☀☀☀ Ascape Virtual Travel & Tours is an app that allows users to travel to different areas all around the globe. It features a variety of videos from popular sites in San Francisco to Reindeer Racing in Norway, to Carnival in Rio. It is very simple to maneuver through the different categories on the app to find the video you want to view. You must download each individual video, which only takes a few seconds but takes up storage space on your phone. Overall, I think this is a well put together VR app that is satisfying for entertainment purposes. — Ashley Altmann


☀☀☀☀ Your internet browser can be drowned with tabs. Instapaper has found a way to keep them at a minimum. The tool allows you to save articles and videos for later viewing. The Sweet Setup called Instapaper their favorite read later service because it eliminates aimless web searching. It’s available with a Google Chrome extension on your laptop or a mobile app on the App store or Google Play. The app is free and has no space limitations, which is great for journalists who need to keep information in a central spot. Ben Jacobs

☀☀☀☀ Instapaper lets you read online articles, offline. Click on web pages you would like to save. Highlight and comment on articles. Select text to be played back with the app’s text-to-speech feature. All notes automatically sync to a user’s mobile devices and to Version 7.3 updates include a newly-free premium version and a corresponding Apple Watch app. Instapaper is ad-free. It operates in 14 languages. Journalists doing quick research can find articles now and save them to refer to later. — Kyle Dowd

☀☀☀☀ ☀  I downloaded this app for keeps right away! It helps journalists (or anyone) stay on top of the news. You can save articles from social media or the web that you find interesting but do not have time to read. The app then stores them for you to read whenever you may want. This app makes articles easy to read with a simple design and easy to use font. This app could be used daily and you can save as many stories as you like. — Alexis Berdine

☀☀☀☀ Instapaper allows users to archive online articles for later reading. The app is also available on the desktop. Your account can be shared between multiple devices and platforms. When on mobile, the user can save an article to Instapaper by selecting it under the share feature that is incorporated into most browser apps. The app also has its own browsing feature that features apps the “editor” picks. One can also highlight text in the app and have text played back using a text-to-speech feature. A journalist could use this to consume and archive other media more easily. — Garrison Murphy


☀☀☀☀☀ This app manages all of your social media accounts. From one place, you can to stay up to date with sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, Tumblr and LinkedIn. Imagine how convenient that would be. You can be notified about “life events” such as anniversaries, birthdays and weddings and from people in your network. Journalists can manage many social media accounts at once to promote their stories everywhere with just one post. —Alexis Berdine


☀☀☀☀☀ inVR for “Google Cardboard VR. Google provides a tutorial for beginners showing how to use goggles to see 360-video. That unlocks a variety of virtual reality experiences and a sense of where this new technology could go. Journalists in the future could use this technology; VR can place the viewer in the scene of a news event, allowing for a personal, empathetic experience and greater understanding. The only drawback: the app is not available for older iPhones. — Alexis Berdine

Seeing Innovation in a New, Better Way for Journalists, Educators

This is the first of three blog posts on innovation by Eric Newton, innovation chief of Cronkite News at Arizona State University.

In a popular television commercial, Jeffrey Tambor plays a corporate boss sitting in suit and tie at the end of the long conference table. He wants big ideas. But his staff got drunk the night before. They have nothing. At least they brought breakfast. “Bagels?” asks Tambor. “Peel and eat shrimp!” they reply, dumping a bucket of ice and prawns on the polished conference table.

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Innovation at Cronkite News: Long Live the Experiment!

This is the second of three blog posts on innovation by Eric Newton, innovation chief of Cronkite News at Arizona State University.

By experimenting with new approaches at Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, we identify innovations that improve both journalism and education. This is Dean Chris Callahan’s big idea: We hope to create the world’s first fully developed “teaching hospital” of journalism education, an immersive learning experience that develops new approaches while also teaching best practices.

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Google Consumer Surveys

☀☀☀ Google Surveys helps businesses reach their customers. Surveys features customizable survey questions that can filter by gender, age and geographic location. In a pay-as-you-go system, Surveys starts at roughly 10-30 cents per completed response. Making questions on Surveys is easy once started but navigating the online overview is confusing. I was unable to find a way to publish results, which journalists doing opinion polls would want. Google Surveys is not available as an app but the tool is mobile friendly. — Olivia Davila

☀☀☀☀☀ Google News Lab brings you Google Surveys — a tool to create surveys from valid samples. Google identifies the survey group based on search history, social media demographics and screening questions. You decide what (brief) questions to ask the group. The results come in about a week. They’re displayed as graphs, charts and tables in an interactive interface. The findings can be shared on social media or exported as raw data. This helpful tool is a quick do-it-yourself survey machine for journalists. In one measure of 2012 presidential polling, Nate Silver rated these surveys second out of dozens of contenders. The only downside: its cost. The bill is 10 cents to $3.50 for each person who answers. But if the estimated bill is too much, you can just hit cancel. — Kate Peifer

Google My Maps

☀☀☀☀☀ For a digital journalist, mapping tools are essential. Google My Maps is one of the best tools for this type of work — simple to learn, powerful and free. Using Google means almost any location is already located in the app. The only downside to the app is the learning curve, which, for anything more complex than a simple map with pins, takes time to overcome. Google, however, provides tutorials for this. For whenever a journalist needs to show a location or multiple points in an area, this is the quickest and easiest option.  — Chris McCrory

☀☀☀☀ Google My Maps helps first-time mapmakers create basic maps from a simple spreadsheet to share or embed on a web site. It took me 30 minutes to create a map, not 10 as the Google News Lab lesson said. The two-minute video was confusing. The directions didn’t match the interface exactly. The video lesson says no programming is required, but that’s also not quite right, since you have to paste and tweak a few lines of source code. Still, it’s worth a try: good journalistic uses are easy to see. Without a simple “locator map,” many readers could not locate Kyrgyzstan, Vanuatu or other lesser-known countries. News happens there, too. — Eric Newton