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Last month, I was loafing round the house with my phone wondering how cold it was outside. Being the ridiculously technology-glued person I am, I started searching for a weather station that integrates with the Web, tablets, and smartphones. Obviously, stepping into the sun was out of the question, because I’m a vampire — they’re real! After a few clicks, I found the Netatmo, a very slick looking solution to checking the weather when you’re not in a walking mood.

The very idea of this may sound ridiculous, I know. However, there is a purpose for everything and I decided to give Netatmo a try. After all, Wired and Time wouldn’t feature it unless there is something more than the basic weather station. Or so I thought. (more…)

There was a time, in a previous life, when I was able to run an hour daily without breaking a sweat. Then I injured my foot, couldn’t exercise for a year, got lazy and gained weight, until I was eventually unable to walk for more than 10 minutes without complaining of fatigue. I’ve been trying however, for the past 10 months, to find the glory of old. I started with swimming regularly, then added walking, hiking and eventually decided to ease back into running.

I had heard of the Couch to 5K program — commonly referred to as C25K — and figured it would be the perfect way to go back to my runner routine. I looked on the Play Store for C25K apps, found many that seemed way too complicated or expensive for the purpose, then I landed on C25K Trainer. It is the most simplistic app you can find but it is essentially all you really need if you want to start running.

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Modern calendar apps have two serious problems: they’re ugly, and they’re hard to use. I like Google Calendar as much as the next guy, but I’m always on the lookout for an experience that could be better — and by all accounts, I think Google Calendar could be better than it is. But there aren’t a lot of popular alternatives on the Play Store, and even fewer that people say you *have* to try out before making a decision.

That’s what makes Cal by Any.do interesting. It marries a well-designed calendar with the simplicity of Any.do, and it does it with aplomb. Although it’s been available for iPhone for a long time, Cal finally saw its release on Android recently with a few new features of its own — some of which are Android-exclusive, for now. Let’s dig in and find out whether or not this ecosystem is worth getting into.

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The personalization of news is a nice idea. It should strip out unrequired stories, leaving behind only those pieces of writing that excite, educate or entertain — AppStorm posts, for instance.

But in my experience, most tailored news apps tend to be a bit…meh. They certainly filter, but rarely with the desired result. Some try to sort stories by keyword — always an inaccurate, spam-ridden approach — while others simply provide broad brushstroke subjects, gathering plenty of content you would otherwise avoid.

So, I’m interested to see how Material, an app which claims to deliver news that is tailored to each user, copes with this challenge. The product of an accomplished developer (Inq), Material has recently been updated with a sleek new design and a batch of new features; critically, though, can it deliver a great mix of content?

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Books are amazing. They can thrill, sadden, educate, inspire and amuse with only the words they hold. For bookworms like me, the introduction of e-reading only further broadened the opportunities to be captivated by prose, particularly given the considerable selection of public domain titles which are freely available to download.

There are quite a few apps which provide access to these ebooks, as well as offering the option to sync your reading progress between multiple devices — Kobo and Amazon’s Kindle being the most prominent examples to be found in the Play Store. Over on iOS, though, another e-reading app has been making all the waves.

It goes by the name of Readmill, and it has already gained a cult following. Now, it has landed on Android – but does it have enough to push aside more familiar Play Store offerings?

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Over the past two years, I have transformed into an online shopper. Not only did I discover that some eBay vendors deliver to Lebanon — where I currently live — but I also came across Borderlinx and their shipping services, and I fell for the excitement of Indiegogo and Kickstarter product backing.

As my habits changed, I tried manually tracking my payments and shipments, but I soon had to give up as it was too much work. I eventually resorted to simply hoping I wasn’t paying a lot instead of using personal finance apps, and relied on good ol’ Google Now to track some of my shipments while manually checking the ones that Now didn’t smartly detect.

But I was recently introduced to Slice, an app which sole purpose is to simplify the life of people like me, who shop online quite frequently. Not only does it keep track of how much I’m spending online and organize my purchases by type and vendor, it also notifies me when any of my purchases is shipping and lets me track its progress. The app also just got updated with a fresh tablet-optimized interface, making it my ultimate shopping companion.

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Breaking news is, perhaps, the foremost staple of connected computing, mobile or otherwise. If our interconnectedness isn’t for receiving the latest, then what is it for? Pretty much every smartphone owner has some method or other of staying up to date, whether by app, by browser, or by Twitter.

Given how much time we spend away from our desktops, however, it seems strange that news is produced in a format that is specifically designed for the large screen. At best, mobile users get a simplified design, but that doesn’t change the underlying content, which is often far too in-depth to provide an on-the-go summary of events.

The creators of Circa realized this. They realized it at least 12 months ago, in fact, and their app has been serving the folks on iOS with human-edited news, broken down into bite-sized chunks, ever since. Now, Circa’s flavour of précis-based reporting has arrived on Android – but can such simplified reporting really quench our thirst for news?

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Diary writing is an art of self-documentation that is virtually as old as writing itself. It is also a dying art. A respectable population of journal-keepers there may still be, but aside from these committed wordsmiths, society at large is simply not finding the time to keep a log. That’s a shame.

It also seems like an unnecessary chore. The huge quantity of digital data we produce on a daily basis, if collated, could provide a fairly accurate picture of our by-the-minute activities. Such an idea may seem somewhat futuristic, but this is the ambition which drove development company Dexetra to create the life-logging app, Friday. But this six-man team wanted to go beyond a simplistic journal; Binil Anthony, co-founder and CMO of Dexetra, outlined the vision to me — “to find info of an externality, we have Google and a lot of other search engines. But how do we search for things in our personal lives?”

A good question. With Friday, Dexetra intended to capture much of the data generated in daily phone use and combine it with the natural language processing engine found in their first app, Iris, in order to create a voice-searchable personal database. An incredible concept, for sure, but has it worked?

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The idea of looking after yourself is no longer an activity restricted to a reliance on common sense. Where professional sport led, the rest of us followed, and today, personal well-being is a science. The volume of personal data that we can capture, and the depth in which we can analyze it, have provided new insights into how we should be eating, drinking, sleeping, living and exercising.

The mainstream cultural acceptance of fitness-related data logging can really only be attributed to the sporting world’s superbrands. Nike+ and Adidas’ miCoach, for some time, have dominated the market, and have been pushed by their respective parent companies at every opportunity. As the fitness app market has matured, however, numerous apps from infinitely smaller development teams have become some of the most popular offerings in the genre.

One iOS product which falls into this category is Moves. It’s an app which can best be described as a smart pedometer, and its simplicity and high quality design have won it a significant fan base over on the Apple-flavoured side of mobile computing. But now, Moves is making an entry into the Google Play store, and I got the chance to play with the pre-release version. Here’s how I got on…

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I’m really addicted to RSS. I don’t know how to explain it without sounding like the biggest loser of all time, but the only real way to say it is to tell you that Google Reader’s death was almost a traumatic experience for me. I made the switch over to Feed Wrangler, a paid subscription service with a couple of unique ideas of its own, because I felt a paid service offered more long-term stability and I wouldn’t have to stress out ever again — although, admittedly, I consider trying out Feedbin on occasion to see what that’s like.

But even the best subscription service in the world fails if it doesn’t have an amazing app to go with it, especially since that’s what I was used to with Google Reader. Feed Wrangler got a lot of great support from developers straight out of the gate, including Press on Android. I think Press is one of the most sublime experiences you’ll find in Google Play, and it’s worth every penny. If you don’t have it yet, you need to read the rest of this review.

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