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All Things Appy: 5 Best Apps to Make the Most of Apple Sensors
December 27, 2013
Your Apple device is full of sensors, including a proximity sensor, an ambient light sensor, an accelerometer, a magnetometer and a gyroscopic sensor. Also included in these devices are radios, which aren't strictly sensors but which include the GPS for location services. In this week's All Things Appy, we take a look at the five best free apps for playing with sensors and sensor-like radios.
A World of Skins Add Beauty to the Joy of ExDialer Pro
December 27, 2013
I was banging my head against the wall the other day because the dialer on my aging Motorola Photon 4G stopped working. Normally what I'd do -- and recommend doing -- is upgrade the OS to a later version while at the same time doing a hard reset on the device. However, you need an unlocked bootloader to do that, and Motorola has locked the bootloader on that model.
Startup Manager Renews Shine on Android's Boot
December 20, 2013
For some inexplicable reason, probably related to egocentric human nature, software developers can't seem to resist designing their programs as if they were default services: always on and ready. If you're familiar with maintaining a PC and like tinkering with programs, you'll know that you need to periodically disable or get rid of accumulating programs that automatically run processes.
All Things Appy: Top 5 Android Apps for Outdoor Adventures
December 20, 2013
Accelerometers, GPS receivers and other sensors in your smartphone let you track your outdoor activities in ways that go beyond just the common map. In this week's All Things Appy, we take a look at the top five free apps for exploring, including options for fine-tuning your GPS, measuring headings and bearings, logging your tracks and reckoning distance.
When Freemium's Good, It's Very Good and When It's Bad, It's Horrid
December 19, 2013
When I read a new report on app store trends for 2013 recently, my most irritating fear was confirmed: The freemium app business model has not only won the app sales model, it has handily crushed the paid app model -- squeezed it down into a tiny sliver of relative revenue. The results are so tilted that even more new apps will apparently be written entirely with the freemium model in mind.
DaisyDisk Helps Keep Your Hard Drive Fresh
December 17, 2013
Since the dawn of personal computing, managing storage has been a persistent challenge. Certainly the pressure has eased up on the desktop with the proliferation of 1 TB hard drives, but for laptops and lightweight notebooks, the struggle continues. One of the problems with grappling with all the data on a hard drive is transparency. Eyeballing thousands of file names in the Finder is both tiresome and inefficient.
'Anchorman' Scotchy Toss App Might Be Better After a Shot or 2
December 16, 2013
One of the best side effects of Apple's app ecosystem is spinoffs -- in addition to great games and apps for most everything imaginable, successful franchises can create apps to keep stoking the adoration of fans. If you haven't noticed the invasion of Duck Dynasty-branded merchandise in department stores everywhere, you might have stumbled upon the surprisingly delightful Battle of the Beards app.
All Things Appy: 5 Best Chrome Apps for Book Lovers
December 13, 2013
Books in a multimedia environment bring certain advantages not available on paper alone or via classic audiobooks. Among those advantages are audio accompaniment for text and cloud syncing of notes and highlights. Add to that the lower distribution costs of multimedia over paper and the browser becomes a good tool for books. You don't need an e-reader or a tablet.
Remote Video Security Is Mydlink+'s Weak Link
December 13, 2013
As a smartphone app reviewer, I often like to include a bit of explanation for why I choose to review the apps that I do. It adds a bit of human interest, and can make for a more enjoyable read. This week, the story is especially exciting. This is a review of D-Link's Mydlink+ remote security camera Android app add-on, and I can explain the reason for the review in one word: goats.
Instagram Hitches Wagon to Private Messaging
December 12, 2013
Instagram has dipped its toes into private-photo and video messaging waters. Instagram Direct allows the community's more than 150 million monthly active users to send photos and videos within a group. The process of sending a private message works just like posting a photo or video publicly: Take a new photo or upload an existing one, slap on a filter and effects, and add a caption and tags.
Free Mobile Streaming Hits the Spotify
December 12, 2013
Spotify announced Wednesday that it is offering a new free mobile streaming option to listeners, a move that could help it compete in the evolving digital entertainment space. Mobile users previously were limited to the Spotify Premium plan, which provides streaming access on phones or tablets for $9.99 per month. Spotify also announced the addition of Led Zeppelin to its content lineup.
Viber Out Aims to Out-Do Skype in International Calling Game
December 11, 2013
Viber on Monday launched v4.1 of its eponymous VoIP chat application. It includes Viber Out, a feature that lets users call anyone mobile phones or landlines anywhere. Calls to other Viber users are free; otherwise, a fee is assessed. The company also unveiled additions to its line of stickers. Viber, which has 200 million or so users, is targeting Skype, which is aiming for 1 billion.
Turn Your World Into Vibrant Comic Life
December 10, 2013
Comic Life's latest incarnation has some really useful new additions: a script editor, new filters, a background knockout feature and some new fill options. With great new features, though, come greater complexity and greater demands on screen real estate, which can make the software more difficult to use for newbies and challenging to manage on Macs with smaller screens.
Tweetbot 3 Makes Your Twitter Timeline a Thing of Beauty
December 09, 2013
Let's get this clear up front: I am not a Twitter expert. I've used multiple accounts for different purposes; I enjoy following a few personalities; I like searching through Twitter. Until now, I've rarely bothered to tweet or mess with Twitter on my iPhone or iPad, preferring to use the standard browser-based method on my Mac. I know I'm missing out, though.
Apple's iBeacon to Follow iPhone-Toting Customers Around Stores
December 06, 2013
Apple has taken a step toward a more interactive shopping experience, activating iOS 7's iBeacon technology at its 254 U.S. retail outlets. It was to start providing information about in-store products and services directly to customers' iPhones, based on their location within the store, on Friday. The iBeacon technology allows Apple to target iPhones within a centimeter.
If You're Jonesing for a 2nd Screen, Air Display Is a Nifty Fix
December 06, 2013
I was intrigued when I came across Air Display, an Android app that lets you use your tablet as a second screen. Second PC displays definitely boost work productivity. I've been using two displays for years, keeping my email client open all the time on the left screen -- a laptop display -- and work-work on the right screen. I'm able to monitor incoming junk mail without having to stop working.
How to Manage Your Android Device From Your PC
December 04, 2013
Despite the ever-increasing sizes of mobile-device screens -- many smartphones are now close to or even more than 5 inches -- it's still a pokey and fiddly affair to configure them -- or even look at them, for that matter. Stabbing around those minuscule on-screen keyboards can be a tedious affair. However, there are PC-based solutions out there.
Salesforce.com Drops $1M to Make Hackathon Results Fair
December 03, 2013
Salesforce.com has taken an interesting step in stemming the fallout from its recent hackathon by deciding to award a second prize of $1 million to another team of developers. At the Dreamforce software conference last month, Salesforce.com held a Salesforce1 Hackathon, in which more than 4,500 developers were encouraged to build apps using the company's customer relationship management platform.
Microsoft Sets a New Threshold for Windows Development
December 03, 2013
Microsoft's OS updates planned for 2015 reportedly have been code-named "Threshold." They involve the addition of a set of common elements -- high-value activities such as Microsoft Office, possibly the coming "Remix" digital storytelling app, Bing, Intune and Workplace -- to Xbox One, Windows and Windows Phone. The commonality of the updates "makes a lot of sense," said analyst Wes Miller.
Mailplane Gives Gmail a Nice Lift
December 03, 2013
Gmail may not be the prettiest email program in the world. Yahoo Mail is easier on the eye. Microsoft's Outlook online has a clean and modern appeal. Nevertheless, many of us use Gmail -- warts and all -- so any app that adds utility to the Google offering can be worthwhile. Mailplane has been around for six years, but its developers have given it a makeover in this latest edition.

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