Apps

Canva Pro review: More than just a design platform

The perfect blend between design, collaboration, and stock library

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Creating good designs can be intimidating when you’re not a designer. And finding a designer that will execute your vision within your budget, it’s like winning the lottery; the chances are slim.

Thanks to the rapid growth of technology, Canva appeared with a solution: Quality designs made accessible. Hopefully, good designs won’t be daunting to create anymore. But before we tackle designs, let’s get a refresher on what Canva is all about.

Canva: What can it do?

Canva is a design platform accessible through the web, which allows non-designers to create quick designs quickly. It can do what most designers create in Adobe products easily, but with limitations. For instance, you can do the usual basic photo editing like a cropping system, and applying filters and adjustments.

And when you register, you’re automatically signed to the Free Plan. No purchase required. But if you want to expand the possibilities of creation using Canva, then there’s Canva Pro — which is the whole point of this story.

Made on Canva Pro / GADGETMATCH

So, what are you paying for with Canva Pro?

It’s 2021, and by now, you know most free applications, software, and the like always have a premium subscription plan. They host a plethora of features — most of which are something you’d like to have. That’s the case for Canva Pro.

It’s the premium plan that provides premium content such as photos, templates, illustrative elements along with advanced features that help small businesses, startups, and freelancers thrive.

I’ve had the free plan for a while until I got my hands on Pro version. As a designer, I really don’t need it. But using it made me realize the value Canva really brings.

But first, what can you do with Canva Pro?

A lot. I’m not kidding when I say you can do a lot with Canva Pro. It’s like those limited content suddenly opened up a treasure box full of gems and gold that you can benefit from.

For instance, your access to Canva’s usual content expands through its unlimited, licensed resources. Emphasis on licensed — they’re work that you can use not just for personal purposes, but also for commercial projects. You can choose from an array of content: Over 400,000 templates, more than 75 million photos, videos, and elements consisting of pre-made graphics and illustrations, along with over 3000 fonts. All of which can be downloaded at the quality you prefer.

Made on Canva Pro / GADGETMATCH

You can also utilize perks such as unlimited folders, a hundred gig of cloud storage to store all your designs sans souci, and priority support in case you have troubles using the platform.

Other things you thought you can only do with expensive creative software from certain brands are also available in Canva Pro. I was able to remove the background easily, animate and resize their elements without loss of quality no matter what resolution is, and save transparent images — which made my life handling the news desk a lot easier.

On certain days that I don’t have the time to come up with an accompanying image for breaking news and other urgent stories, I used Canva Pro’s resources so I can create a design within minutes.

Here are some of my works that used Canva Pro whether via the platform or using their resources:

A novice’s tool for content planning

As someone working in a start-up company, I’ve been wearing many hats. My daily grind involves managing multiple platforms, arranging campaigns, and building content while creating digital communication materials in written and visual forms.

The content planner in Canva Pro is quite helpful especially when you’re planning content around your schedule, and you aim for it to look coherent and aesthetically pleasing using your designs made from *drum roll* Canva.

Made on Canva Pro / GADGETMATCH

However, it’s been ages since I started this line of work and I already established my own tools and system; I don’t plan on changing what’s already working. So, no. I’m not going to use the content planner.

But from what I can see, it’s a godsend for those starting with social media management. Especially entrepreneurs flying solo. After all, you can get a preview and even use Canva as a third-party scheduler, so you can publish your content at a specific time.

An easy system between teams

On top of that, I’m also fulfilling the role of Associate Creative Director, leading the team when it comes to branding and visual guidelines. There are only a few designers onboard, and most of them are focused on videos and animations. To make life easier, I created a system for writers and other non-designers.

Made on Canva Pro via Smart Mockups / GADGETMATCH

This is where Canva Pro proved to be helpful, and I wish I met them earlier. It lets you share your designs as templates, and it can be navigated and edited easily by non-designers. For years, I spent a lot of time building templates that would make it easy for our writers and account managers.

I remember coming up with a template design meant to be used for proposals and reports, and I had to create mock designs while also designing an editable presentation on Google Slides. Having the Brand Kit Pro made it easy to create essential visual materials while sticking to your brand’s guidelines, themes, and aesthetic. Plus, you can make it coherent and get it adjusted in real-time.

But more than just the design capabilities, Canva Pro helps create a system for easier workflow between teams. You can create a team in Canva and invite your actual teammates using their Canva account, and get the same premium plan you have. With it, you can design and plan things together using the online whiteboard.

Think: Google Suites but a whiteboard for brainstorming and ideation purposes.

How much are you really saving?

Let’s do a little bit of math here. Canva Pro offers cloud storage, unlimited licensed stock content, a third-party scheduler, and an engineered platform so you can design real-time — all in one premium plan.

On the other hand, you can use separate platforms for everything you need, but all of it comes with respective pricing plans. For instance, subscription plans for cloud storage can be an extra 100GB for Google or 1TB on Microsoft’s OneDrive. You can also use Adobe Stock for royalty-free and licensed premium content, which can set you back for PhP 1,495.00/mo for 10 credits or for PhP 9,970.00/mo for up to 750 credits.

Made on Canva Pro / GADGETMATCH

There’s also dedicated design software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, both of which come with their own price unless you can get a bundled offer for two. For real-time collaboration, Google Suites might be free but a professional platform like Slack also comes with a cost. Even third-party schedulers utilize subscription plans as payment for using their services that make your life convenient.

In essence, you are saving so much by just using Canva Pro. Of course, it will still all depend on your workflow and the money you can shell out. But if you have a limited budget, Canva Pro already sounds like a good deal.

Who will benefit the most?

As a designer, I have received prejudice and judgment from fellow designers who take so much pride in their work. But Canva has real value for designers leading a small team (such as my case) or solopreneurs (solo entrepreneurs), small businesses, startups, and freelancers.

Made on Canva Pro / GADGETMATCH

Limited manpower with a leading designer can help create editable templates that don’t require extensive, technical knowledge of Adobe or other creative software products. Solopreneurs, small businesses, and startups can create designs without outsourcing to designers especially for quick, easily digestible content used on social media.

Freelance creatives can also utilize various resources from Canva Pro to ensure a smooth workflow and faster turnaround. Clients will worry less when it comes to copyrighted materials due to the licensed content applicable for commercial use.

Does this affect the design and creative industry?

Frankly, it’s a game-changer. But the insecurity from fellow designers isn’t needed; they’re not going to be replaced. It’s like fearing that one day, a machine will take over your work. Then, you’ll have no other skill set to offer to live and survive.

Honestly, those are only based on fiction. Design is evolving rapidly, and there are new problems emerging that require quick yet creative solution — and Canva provides it.

Made on Canva Pro / GADGETMATCH

In this ever-growing age of technology, designers are still welcome and needed. Brands and companies will still need designers to do in-depth, studied content that went through different stages of conceptualization. The world will still need creatives to lead a group of non-designers to be self-sufficient. Even though they learn how to create a design, they will still need to follow a foundation and guideline that only designers know based on their theoretical backgrounds and experience.

Moreover, Canva hires actual creatives to create commercial resources. The company creates actual jobs. If a designer is worried about competing with Canva, it’s about time to level up the services they can offer. You can’t be doing the same thing forever.

Is Canva Pro worth it?

Yes. I’d give you a thousand yes. That is if it really suits what you need. Because for me, even as a designer myself, I believe that Canva Pro is worth it. It’s more than just a design platform with a licensed stock library; it’s also a real-time collaboration tool that makes our lives and jobs easier when working remotely. Truly, a solution to a modern-age problem that we faced when the global pandemic started.

Made on Canva Pro / GADGETMATCH

So if you’re still wondering whether you should get it, ask yourself: Do you really need what Canva Pro has to offer? If some part of you said yes, then it’s a resounding yes.

To know more about Canva Pro, visit this link.

Apps

Ultrahuman: The essential app to get you through quarantine

Getting through isolation days through workout and meditation

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Taking care of our physical and mental health is very much important now more than ever. With everything that has been going on in the world, it’s not surprising that people are taking extra steps to advocate and practice self-care.

One way to do this is by adding good habits everyday and being disciplined to sustain these habits.

With self-care as one of their ultimate goals this year, Martynne and MJ decided to try Ultrahuman: an all-in-one fitness app that includes all the good habits they are currently incorporating in their lives — from workout to meditation.

For a few weeks, they put the app to a test and this is their verdict:

Meditation

Martynne: I am a huge advocate of meditation and it has been a life-changing practice for me, as someone who finds a hard time focusing and being in the present.

Ultrahuman has a wide range of course options that can match a specific mood or emotion. One of my personal favorites is the Managing Anger course, which helped me take a step back, consolidate my feelings and give compassion to myself throughout the process.

The Singles option with one-time meditation tracks helped me become more mindful and grounded whenever I feel overwhelmed in the middle of a workday. The productivity course, on the other hand, kept my eyes glued to my laptop screen until I finished what I needed to do.

The only thing I didn’t like about it, though, is the visuals seem basic to me, and the “dark” interface is much more fitting for the workout option.

Workout

MJ: When gyms are closed and home workouts aren’t fun anymore, how do you remain committed to your fitness goals? That’s what Ultrahuman did: Filling the gap by providing fun workouts and challenges that you can do in a span of weeks. It’s similar to how Nike Training Club presents their videos albeit more personalized.

The Ultrahuman app comes with guided videos from renowned trainers, and watching their instructions during your exercises felt like having a live session with a personal trainer. Unlike most fitness apps that offer video-on-demand workouts, Ultrahuman remembers that we are all beginners, offering a collection of videos through challenges that suit different levels.

After living a sedentary lifestyle, I knew I have to ease up when working out again. The app did wonders in helping me stay active by gradually increasing the difficulty of my challenges, without straining my body or having myself complain about how difficult a certain workout routine is.

Sleep

Martynne: There was an instance that I had a bad case of insomnia and I needed something to put me to sleep.

I tried listening to Ultrahuman’s Bedtime Stories and it reminded me of the sleep podcasts I used to listen to on Spotify.

The voices are relaxing, and the stories come with meditation and sound effects, but I realized I can be impatient with slow stories. I resorted to the app’s soundscapes and brain music, and they helped a lot to relax my brain and finally shut my eyes off.

I don’t exactly know what’s the science behind brain music, but they really work sometimes.

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You can now buy and sell bitcoin, ethereum within the Venmo app

You can’t pay with crypto though

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Cryptocurrencies are the most trending topic right now, and everyone wants to be a part of it. Well, PayPal-owned peer-to-peer money transfer app Venmo has rolled out a new platform that’ll let users directly buy or sell the cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin, within the app.

With more than 70 million active users, the app serves as a perfect destination for more users. They can hold a stake in cryptocurrency starting with as little as US$ 1. They can also share their acquisition of digital currency on their feeds.

According to the payments company, more than 30 percent of Venmo customers have already started purchasing cryptocurrency or equities. And 20 percent of those customers started doing so during the pandemic.

The Venmo app is straightforward to use, and everyone is habituated with it. Hence, it is easier for folks to get on board the cryptocurrency train without worrying about complex tools.

The announcement did not say anything about paying for goods or services with cryptocurrency, but that ability could come to Venmo later. Customers will choose between four types of cryptocurrency — Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash.

PayPal recently announced it would let users pay for goods at checkout using cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile, Tesla said it would accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. With wider acceptance on mainstream services, cryptocurrencies are become easier to grab for everyone.

Venmo is rolling the new crypto features gradually, starting today. They should be available to all customers “within the next few weeks.”

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Spotify will now let you download music on your desktop

You can finally play songs while working offline

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One of the biggest updates to arrives for premium members on Spotify is the ability to download music on your laptop or computer. While this has always been a must-have feature on mobile phones, it wasn’t extended to a full-fledged PC.

Music streaming has taken over the world, and Spotify is leading the market. Streaming lets you listen to anything within a tap, so you never have to download songs via pirated sites or torrents. But the biggest problem with Spotify was — you can’t download songs for offline playback on your computer.

The hurdle is now gone, and you’ll never have to think of piracy or a legal alternative anytime soon. Just fire up Spotify’s free desktop app, and you’re good to go. Similar to the mobile UI, you can choose to keep an album or playlist offline. It’ll download all the tracks and be ready for you whenever you need them.

While this may seem like a minor addition that should’ve been implemented long ago, it technically isn’t. Only the desktop app supports it, and you can’t access it via the website player.

Spotify redesign

Spotify is also rolling out a redesign for the web and desktop app that looks similar to the mobile app. The move was aimed to improve the app’s navigation, add new features, and make the experience uniform across platforms or devices.

The old search bar is now relocated and toned down visually and sits in the left menu section. The “Made For You,” “Daily Mix,” and more playlists now sit within your library section. The Recently Played tab showed playback history up to three months ago.

If you’re a playlist fanatic, there’s now an option to add a description, upload your own images, and drag-drop apps within existing playlists. The new update is aimed at improving your discoverability, in turn offering more opportunities to curators. The hybrid manul-AI setup gets perfectly tuned to understand your taste and offer the most relevant curations.

Read Also: Spotify launches Car Thing, a voice-controlled music player for cars

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