Trending March 2024 # 5 Useful Mobile Apps To Help You Deal With Long Layovers # Suggested April 2024 # Top 12 Popular

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A few years back I was flying from New York to Sydney, Australia, with a stop in Los Angeles, California, along the way. Unfortunately, bad weather in New York caused my flight to be delayed for six hours. By the time I landed in Los Angeles, I had missed my connecting flight to Sydney. To make matters worse, the next available flight to Sydney wasn’t for another twenty-four hours. What was shaping up to be a nightmare scenario was made a little more manageable thanks to a few key apps.

1. LoungeBuddy

Airports aren’t the most stimulating places to be. They are often sterile and lack anything to do outside of flipping through magazines at a newsstand. If you fly with any sort of regularity, then you’ve undoubtedly passed by an airport lounge. Sectioned off from the plebeians stuck waiting in uncomfortable chairs surrounded by noise, the airport lounge offers a reprieve: relaxation and privacy. In addition, airport lounges often provide numerous perks like meals, snacks, free Wi-Fi, and in some cases, showers! Compared to the nightmare fuel of a busy airport, lounges are like a little slice of heaven. Many airports have multiple lounges, which makes deciding on which one to visit a guessing game. Fortunately, this is where the Loungebuddy app (iOS) comes in.

LoungeBuddy features details about airport lounges in over 230 airports around the world. It provides information like the cost and amenities available at each lounge. In addition, the app includes reviews from other travelers detailing their experience to help you make a decision. Furthermore, you can book access to a lounge from directly within the app.

2. DayUse/ByHours

If you’ve ever had to suffer through a long layover, you know how mind-numbing it can be. If you can’t sleep well on a plane, there’s a good chance all you want is a few hours of rest before having to slog through another flight. Unfortunately, hotel rooms can be really expensive, especially near airports. You may think your only option is to stretch out across some of those uncomfortable seats by your gate. Luckily, there are two apps that give you a much more comfortable option.

DayUse (Android, iOS) and ByHours (Android, iOS) are two apps that allow users to book hotel rooms by the hour instead of overnight. DayUse claims users can save up to 75% compared to a traditional booking. In addition, DayUse boasts of over 5000 participating hotels in 23 countries. Similarly, ByHours lets users book “microstays” in over 2500 hotels at three-, six- or twelve-hour intervals. Allowing users to book hotel rooms for partial stays can not only refresh a weary traveler but save big money as well.

3. Grab

Flying anywhere means waiting in line. You have to wait in line to check your bags, then in another line to get through security, and yet another line just to board the plane. If you’re flying internationally, then you’re going to have the added pleasure of waiting in line at Customs. Having to wait in any line can exacerbate an already stressful situation, so it can really grind your gears when you have to wait in line for food. Fortunately, with Grab (Android, iOS), you don’t have to.

Grab allows users to browse airport restaurant menus and order straight from the app. Users can place their order for pick up when it’s ready, eliminating waiting in line. Furthermore, Grab offers step-by-step directions to partnered vendors, so if you’re not familiar with the airport, you’ll always be able to find your favorite eatery.

4. Bounce

Layovers don’t have to be a complete waste of time. If you find yourself in a cool city with some time to kill, you might want to leave the confines of the airport and have a look around. However, you don’t want to be lugging your carry-on bags with you as you wander throughout an unfamiliar city. Luckily, with Bounce (Android, iOS) you can safely store your belongings at a number of convenient locations around the city. In addition, the $6-per-day fee won’t break the bank.

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing Bounce is only available within the United States. That being said, Bounce has hundreds of storage locations found in most major cities within the U.S. If you have enough time to get out of the airport and explore, Bounce can help you find a place to store your bags. Furthermore, Bounce is useful even when you’re not traveling. Use it to store your gym bag, work bag, school bag, anything you don’t want to lug around with you all day.

5. MyTSA/MiFlight

Getting through airport security is a bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes you breeze right through without incident, other times it can be incredibly stressful. Long lines and extended waits can potentially result in missed flights. This is especially problematic when trying to make a connecting flight. Fortunately, you can see what the situation is at security and get real-time updates on wait times with two apps.

MyTSA (Android, iOS) is the official app from TSA and provides crowd[sourced security checkpoint wait times, live chat assistance, flight info and permitted items info. Alternatively, MiFlight (iOS) also provides security checkpoint information. Like MyTSA, MiFlight gathers real-time input from other MiFlight users to ensure wait times are accurate.

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5 Useful Tools To Help You Spot Fake News

In March of 2023 a group of MIT data scientists published a study which found that that humans and bots share fake news on Twitter at about the same rate, but the robots aren’t necessarily outsmarting us – we’re just playing along. The study, among other findings, showed that false news spread up to six times more quickly than real news and that it spread to more people: the top 1% of fake news reached 1,000 to 100,000 people, while real news rarely went above 1,000.

If you want to keep your social media profile credible, though, there are some steps you can take to double-check your news.

What is fake news?

So what can you use to detect it?

1. Your lizard-brain

Fake news is designed to trip the switches that control your instinctual “fight-or-flight” responses. If you read a headline or article that is clearly trying to elicit a strong reaction from you, especially if it’s slanted heavily towards one side of a debate, it’s probably fake. For example:

Fake: Social media is destroying truth: MIT scientists find evidence of humans and robots sharing so many lies that you can’t believe anything you read on Twitter! Lizard-people are now the only safe source of news.

2. Practice your fake news identification skills

Your brain is your first line of defense, so if you can get some practice identifying fake news, you’ll be better able to identify it on your own. The best way to learn is to do, and short of starting your own fake news site, these games are the closest you’ll get.

Factitious: a game that presents you with articles that are either real or fake and asks you to choose. It doesn’t take long and gives you good insights into what to look for.

Bad News: a game that puts you in charge of a fake news publication. You will learn about what goes into successful bad news and how people manipulate it for their benefit. It takes ten or fifteen minutes and might leave you wanting to play it again.

Fake It to Make It: This game takes significantly longer than the games above (1+ hours), but it puts you right into the mindset of someone who is manipulating social media purely for profit.

3. BS Detector

This browser extension works on Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Safari, and Edge, and gives you warnings when you are on a page that contains possible fake news. It analyzes the links to check for unreliable sources, then tells you why a particular site was flagged.

4. MediaBiasFactCheck

This Chrome extension is powered by the MediaBiasFactCheck database, and it not only alerts you when you are browsing a fake news site but will clue you into the political biases of legitimate sites as well. Accurate facts do not guarantee truth, after all; different presentations can leave you with very different ideas.

5. Fake News Detector AI

This Chrome extension is actually built on a neural network, using machine learning to predict whether the website you are visiting is spreading fake news or not. It only runs when you ask it to, which some users may appreciate. Not a Chrome user? You can visit the AI’s portal website and manually enter the web address you want to check. It’s last on the list because it’s not all that accurate, though: in my testing it reported RealClearPolitics and The Intercept as fake news — both sites that definitely have some bias, but are not at all fake.

Conclusion: Big tech and truth on the Internet

While ultimately it is up to the user to assess the news they read and make choices about it, some of the larger companies that control your news diet are making efforts to clean things up as well. Facebook, Google, and other tech/media companies are experimenting with ways to de-prioritize or flag possibly untrue content, though none of them has yet implemented such a system.

Algorithm tweaks and other solutions may have had some success, but no matter what the big tech companies do, fake news can never really go away without severely limiting the ability of users to freely express themselves. For the foreseeable future, then, the best strategy is just to rely on your own assessments and research. You don’t need to be a journalist to recognize falsehood – just make sure you look for overly-dramatic language, fact-check articles you aren’t sure about, and if you’re still not sure, just “be sweet, don’t retweet.”

Image credit: Thomas Schultz via Wikimedia

Andrew Braun

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5 Interactive Iphone Apps To Help You Learn Chinese Faster

Learning a new language can be fun and interactive at the same time now that we have tons of platforms to use. You can learn Spanish, Portuguese or Chinese at home, at the beach or while in transit, anytime and anywhere.

Of course, depending on the language difficulty ranking – for example, Arabic, Japanese, Korean and Mandarin/Cantonese Chinese are categorised as “exceptionally difficult” for native English speakers – the students are required to spend more weeks or months (even years) mastering it.

Mandarin is one of the most difficult languages to learn, and if you wish to challenge yourself – to know the basics both in oral and written form – you can use these mobile apps to help you learn the language faster, whether you’re learning it all by yourself or already enrolled in a language program.

1. Brainscape

The freemium app uses flash cards to teach you some of the basic Chinese words, grammar and phrases you need to know “to survive the streets of Beijing or Shanghai.” Brainscape offers other e-learning subjects aside from Chinese language. With the free “Survival Chinese” package, you’ll get four decks with 195 flashcards to drill you at your own pace by rating each flash card from 1 to 5 on how well you know the word(s).

2. Whizz – Learning for Chinese

Whizz teaches you how to read and write Chinese in a systematic way, showing you symbols and characters to remember them right away. The learning method is called “space repetition,” and unlike Brainscape, the app sets a time limit to figure out the word or symbol.

The app shows you nine characters in flashcards, and then you type the English translation in the keyboard. Type faster for a perfect score. So, from reading to learning the system until you unlock the export mode, Whizz will make your Chinese lessons fun, engaging and challenging while on mobile. (Free via App Store)

3. Penyo Pal’s Learn Mandarin Chinese Vocabulary

Here’s another flashcard game to drill your memory with images, pronunciation, and symbols, which is ideal for kids and adults. The animation sets the mood to motivate you. Aside from learning Mandarin, it provides the pinyin, audio and visual presentation to help you memorize the words effectively.

Memorizing the characters can be frustrating because they almost look the same. The app makes it easier for learners to adapt to its method one step at a time. You will definitely love the animations that give you hints whether you’re correct or not. (Okay, now I know “mangguo” and “pingguo” by heart.) (Free via App Store)

4. Chinese Writer

The freemium app teaches you the strokes of each character using a gameplay concept until you master each one and improve the time. The characters fall randomly from the top; you must be quick to draw each one to improve your score. Speed and focus are important in this gameplay, while if five characters reach the bottom, you’re out – a big kaboom flashes in front of your screen.

Wait, there’s more. Chinese Writer allows you to review the characters you already know and the characters you’ve failed to draw many times; the next time you play, it automatically pops them down until you master them. It also shows the pinyin, meaning of the character in English and pronunciation, while allowing you to practice the strokes. The app comes with in-app purchases to unlock other packages and characters, ranging from $0.99 to $9.99. (Free via App Store)

5. Learn Chinese (Mandarin) by MindSnacks

Last but not the least, another animated and educational mobile app from MindSnacks makes your Chinese learning sprint fun using a game. You get a free lesson, and the rest are available as in-app purchases. The “Swell” game teaches you the Chinese numbers from 0 to 20, so you better be fast when you play the game. It shows the character and pinyin, then you have to choose between which of the two is the correct one.

Similar to Whizz and Chinese Writer, you only have a few seconds to figure things out; match the word before the water runs out or your fish dies. The game provides you the right answer as reference. Meanwhile, the “Galactic” game teaches you the tones. It’s using a rote method, so if you’re comfortable with the gameplay, you may purchase the other packs separately, ranging from $4.99 to $17.99. (Free via App Store)

Conclusion

Two of my favorites are the Chinese Writer and Brainscape. While these mobile apps can speed up our Chinese learning sprint, nothing beats real-life experience where we can converse with a native speaker who knows the nooks and crannies of the Chinese grammar, phrases and contexts.

Maria Krisette Capati

Krisette is a technology writer who loves to cover disruptive technologies, trends, and a myriad of rumors and news updates. To satiate the inconsolable longing to feed her gadget addiction, she simply writes and tinker her gadgets for reviews. You may follow her blurbs, too! @krisettecapati

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6 Useful Tips To Help Windows 7 Run Faster

1. Disable Search Indexing

One of the most resource-hungry features of Windows 7 is search indexing, which creates a dictionary for your files, allowing you to perform faster searches. The problem is that, while it’s creating that dictionary, it consumes your hard drive’s read/write speeds significantly, making it difficult to navigate through applications while indexing is taking place. That’s why Microsoft included an option to turn this off.

2. Disable Aero

If your computer gets kind of clunky while playing a movie or has difficulty emulating the graphics when you minimize or open a window, it’s probably time to sacrifice the pretty effects that Windows 7 Aero brings with it and just live with simple bland colors. The interface will function similarly to how Windows 7 Starter does. Removing Aero will give your computer a little more breathing room, especially if the display adapter uses some of the PC’s physical memory to perform.

3. Use MSConfig to Your Advantage!

Although we’ve discussed this before, it never hurts to reiterate that MSConfig is an important tool to help you improve your boot time. There are several services and startup applications that take up tons of resources while Windows boots. For those of you who have to bear a sluggish boot process, this is the tool to use. Here are some services you should consider disabling:

Application Experience

Diagnostic Policy Service

Distributed Link Tracking Client

Offline Files

Portable Device Enumerator Service

Protected Storage

Secondary Logon

TCP/IP NetBIOS Service

Windows Media Center Service Launcher

4. Disable Visual Effects

For many people, Windows works just fine without all the fancy visual hoopla that comes attached to it. Some would even consider it preferable! Visual effects are the kinds of things that make your computer hang when you minimize, maximize, open, and close a window. Windows 7 introduces a whole series of new visual effects that also can make a computer hang when hovering the cursor over an open window’s icon. If you don’t want these things to use up the visual resources on your computer, you can easily disable them.

Disabling the majority of these items will still keep most of the capabilities in Windows without requiring that you sacrifice a certain amount of RAM as a tribute. As a downside, you’ll have a blander look on your computer which might take some getting used to.

5. Use ReadyBoost

Of all the features on Windows 7, ReadyBoost seems to be one that most people are oblivious about. The problem is that it’s also one of the most important features, allowing you to significantly boost your system memory using a USB flash drive. If you have a ReadyBoost-compatible USB drive, you can configure your operating system to use it as a RAM module, effectively increasing the amount of physical memory you have by the amount of memory available on the drive.

Depending on the speed of the drive, and the speed of your USB port, you’ll be able to significantly increase the speed at which Windows interacts because of the sudden spike in the amount of memory available to it. You can run more programs at the same time. This also frees up the hard disk’s virtual memory a bit, since it doesn’t have to store so much data.

6. Get Rid of Features You Don’t Use

Questions?

Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

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How Google’s Experimental Apps Can Help You Fight Digital Addiction

Google is known for constantly bringing new apps to life. Some of them are just useful tools that are aimed at making your digital life easier. Others are more artsy and creative. 

This time Google has released a rather specific batch of new apps. They are experimental and their main focus is on curing your digital addiction. 

Table of Contents

In case you decide to test all of the Google experimental apps yourself after reading about them, make sure to use one of these free tools that reduce digital eye strain. All the extra time spent staring at the glaring screen won’t do any good for your eyes or for your sleep. 

Our Verdict: a top pick if you’re looking to really cure your smartphone addiction.

First up is a productivity app called Morph. Definitely worth a try if you have issues getting distracted with social media and entertainment apps at work.

You can set up multiple versions of your home screen with different sets of apps. Choose carefully though, as during that set time period you won’t be getting notifications from any of the apps that you didn’t select. 

One more pretty cool perk that Morph comes with is connecting to your location. For example, you can set a GPS location for your working out mode and it will automatically turn it on once you get to the gym. 

Our Verdict: the one with the most potential.

Even when you decide to not touch your phone for the next couple of hours, you can be easily tempted by a notification sound. They’re very distracting and play a major part in aiding your digital addiction.

With Post Box, you can turn off instant notifications and set it up to be delivered in batches. You can choose up to four different time slots a day, and your notifications will be delivered all at once. 

One downside is that at the moment you can’t customise the notification delivery times and have to stick with the four options available on the app. 

Post Box can be a good way to keep up with your social life in a more organized manner. If that sounds like something you struggle with, you might also want to try one of the free calendar apps for Android. 

Our Verdict: your perfect “slap on the wrist”. 

Unlock Clock is essentially a live wallpaper that shows you how many times you’ve unlocked your smartphone during the day. After you install it, set it as your wallpaper. Then on your home screen you’ll see a giant number that will remind you just how much you rely on your smartphone for…pretty much everything.

The giant number on your screen can serve as a wake-up call for anyone who is not aware of how much time they spent staring at their phone’s screen. The number resets each day. You can set a goal to minimize your smartphone use and then see how many days it takes you to reach it. 

Use Unlock Clock as a social experiment with friends on a night out. See how many times each of you unlock their gadgets and maybe even turn it into a competition. Let the “loser” pick up the tab in the end of the night. That should teach them! 

Our Verdict: a fun little game to play with friends.

It’s a proven scientific fact that if you want to start training, it works better if you bring a buddy to the gym to train with you (or you can use one of the free fitness apps for motivation). So why not make your friends go through a digital detox with you as well? We Flip will help you make it more fun and maybe even turn it into a competition.

The way the Google experimental app works is, in a group of people you pair your phones together. When you “flip the switch” a new session starts. Then if/when someone unlocks their phone, the session ends and gives you the stats on how you did as a group. 

You can raise the stakes by turning it into a bet – whoever causes the session to end has to buy the next round. Or lose their phone privileges for the night (a hardcore option for the daredevils among us). 

Our Verdict: recommended for fans of the team-building game of the same name. 

Do you know what’s most important to you? While that question is difficult to answer in the perspective of life, it shouldn’t be that hard to choose a handful of apps that you can’t go through the day without. 

In Desert Island, you can select the tools inside your smartphone that are absolutely necessary (like messages, Gmail, camera, etc) while the rest of them will disappear for the next 24 hours. See how long you can stick to the limits you set yourself. Will this turn into a real challenge for you or just be an ordinary day? 

Our Verdict: the strangest wellbeing app yet.

In an attempt to answer the question of how to fight your digital addiction, Google created probably the weirdest wellbeing mobile app yet. Paper Phone suggests you ditch your smartphone altogether for a day. But not quite. 

You can pick options and tools that you’ll need throughout the day – like calendar, maps, or contacts – and then print out what’s going to be your physical paper phone for the day. It comes with instructions on how to fold it and even a credit card slot inside. 

5 Android Apps You Shouldn’T Miss This Week

We took a closer look at Microsoft Launcher 6.0 this week. It’s technically not that new, but the update did bring some changes. For instance, the UI is a little more cohesive than it used to be and the launcher setup is a little more traditional. Additionally, it gives you a second row of apps on the dock instead of the old toggles. In any case, hit the link to see our full impressions.

Google may allow call recording on the stock dialer app soon. The company re-introduced the capacity to call record in Android 10 so this isn’t too far of a stretch. An APK tear down revealed the appropriate code for the feature. Of course, this doesn’t mean the feature is 100% on its way. However, it would be something wildly out of Google’s wheelhouse and it could be fun to see.

Google re-branded its Fast Share feature this week. The feature is now Nearby Sharing, a less catchy and fun name. The feature should compete with Apple’s AirDrop feature and let Android users trade files with one another quickly and easily. The name change was spotted in the latest Google Play Services update from the last week.

Firefox had a bit of a rough week. The developers discovered a zero-day exploit and it was used in some targeted attacks. We highly recommend updating your Firefox right now both on desktop and mobile. The issue is caused by an incorrect alias information in IonMonkey JIT compiler, according to a Chinese research firm. In any case, if you have the latest update, you should be in the clear.

Google had to give up search engine control in the EU after a massive antitrust court case. This week, we saw the options for EU Android users. They include DuckDuckGo, chúng tôi Google Search, Yandex, PrivacyWall, and a few others. Not all search engines are available in all countries, but most of them are available in most. Hit the link to see the whole list!

Color by Number Oil Painting

Warface: Global Oeprations

Price: Free to play

Warface is a mobile version of the popular free to play console and PC shooter. This version is also free to play and not quite as good as the console and PC counterparts. However, it does have its perks. Most of its in-app purchases are for character customizations so the app avoids the pay-to-win aspect. From there, the game has its ups and downs. The graphics are fantastic but the controls are a tad clunky. We’re not fans of the battle pass subscription, but the game has a decent array of weapons and gear. Fans of the mobile FPS genre may like it, but it’s not quite as good as Call of Duty: Mobile.

GitHub

Price: Free

GitHub is a development platform predominately for open source applications. The company had an Android app already. However, this one is brand new and in beta. It works as you would expect. You can browse the site, contribute in your own ways, and otherwise engage with your projects. It has the basics like a clean UI and a dark mode. It’s in beta so it’s still an unfinished product. However, we quite liked it. The app is entirely free to download and use.

TERA Classic

Price: Free to play

TERA Classic is a mobile release of the popular MMORPG. The game includes four classes, mounts, tons of quests, decent graphics, easy enough controls, and more. It plays a lot like most mobile MMORPGs but it does let you do 50 player guild fights and we thought that was kind of cool. This one is also fairly new and the Play Store listing isn’t even in English yet. However, if you can get beyond the language barrier, this one is pretty good. We expect full translations for everything sooner rather than later.

Microsoft Edge

Price: Free

Technically, Microsoft Edge isn’t new. However, Microsoft launched the Chromium version of it across all platforms and so the app is back in beta. This version should sync and work with the desktop version as long as you download the Chromium variant from Microsoft. The mobile browser version looks and feels like Chrome but with a Microsoft spin and that describes the desktop variant as well. I had problems signing into my Microsoft account so I couldn’t test the syncing. However, it is in beta so it’s to be expected.

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