Better Alternatives To Your Phone’s Lousy Default Apps

SwiftKey (free, iOS and Android)

14 Better Alternatives To Your Phone's Lousy Default Apps

Type without lifting a finger. It’s perfect for times when you’re clinging onto the bus for dear life in one hand and texting with the other.

The app also learns how you type and makes creepily accurate autocorrect suggestions based off of that information. An optional feature called SwiftKey Cloud analyzes your writing style from social media accounts like Facebook and Evernote.

Sleep Cycle ($1, iOS and Android)

The app uses your phone’s accelerometer to detect movement while you sleep. Sleep Cycle can then determine when you’re in a deep or light sleep state. It’ll ring in the “lightest” part of your sleep phase, so you feel awake and refreshed in the morning.

Not a morning person? Need something more intense? Try Spin Me ($2, iOS and Android), an app that will continue to ring until you get up and spin your phone around twice.

Captio ($2)

 Type something up and with one tap, the app lets you send an email to yourself. It’s quick, efficient, and especially useful if you spend all of your time on email anyway.

Wunderlist (free, iOS and Android)

This app is a must if you cohabitate. Wunderlist is available as a mobile app, desktop app, and extension. Lists are synced across all of your devices, and if you share a list with say, a significant other, your collaborative list updates in real time too.

If you want something simpler, try the very beautiful and gesture-friendly Clear ($5, iOS).

Sunrise (free, iOS and Android)

Sunrise (free, iOS and Android)

Sync your Google Calendar, iCloud, or Exchange info with the most beautiful calendar experience around. The desktop version of Sunrise is just as nifty. Being able to set multiple reminders for one event is great for forgetful folk. I personally like the built-in weather forecasts.

PhotoMath (free, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone)

14 Better Alternatives To Your Phone's Lousy Default Apps

It reads and solves mathematical equations using your phone’s camera. THIS IS THE FUTURE.

Camera Plus With Airsnap ($2, iOS)

Camera Plus With Airsnap ($2, iOS)

Between filters, different focus modes, and a private folder that locks photos away from public view, this app has all kinds of bells and whistles.

But the killer feature is Airsnap, which enables another iOS device (like your iPad) to trigger the camera shutter on your iPhone (or vice versa). Very selfie friendly.

If you’re more of a video person, Hyperlapse (free, iOS) by Instagram is your best bet. Shoot clear, stable, cinematic mini movies that can be turned into timelapses of varying speeds.

Waze (free, iOS and Android)


Google Maps

Bike Maps by Maplet

For driving, opt for Google-owned Waze, which uses data from other drivers to make sure you avoid heavy traffic areas. User-reported police alerts help drivers slow down in speed trap areas.

Google Maps, duh! (free, iOS and Android) — The best biking and public transit directions around.

Bike Maps by Maplets ($1, iOS) — If you’re a cycling urban warrior, this app has high-resolution elevation maps for most metropolitan areas. Color-coded streets help bikers avoid those steep hills! Maps can also be downloaded and navigated offline.

Overcast (free but $4 for premium, iOS)

Fuel your Serial addiction with this clutter-free podcast manager. The free version gives listeners everything they need — playlists, podcast search, seek controls — but the premium version unlocks a treasure trove of interesting features like a sleep timer and Smart Speed, which dynamically shortens silences in talk shows.

VSCO Cam (free, iOS and Android)

Even professional photographers love this app because photos come out looking art gallery-ready every time. Carefully crafted filters that can be adjusted with precision and VSCO’s robust editing tools will score you those double taps.

DarkSky ($4, iOS)

DarkSky ($4, iOS)

Because weather patterns change so frequently, daily forecasts aren’t enough. This app offers minute-by-minute information. It knows how long you have until it starts pouring or snowing next.

Word Lens (free, iOS and Android)

Word Lens (free, iOS and Android)

It translates Russian, Portuguese, German, Italian, French, and Spanish signs IN REAL TIME using your phone’s camera. Pure wizardry.

UPDATE: Google acquired the company that made Word Lens, and its technology is now a part of Google Translate.

Cord (free, iOS and Android coming soon)

OK, JK. Nothing can replace your phone app. But Cord’s Snapchat-style press-and-record app just for audio might be the best new thing. Faster than a phone call or a text for sure.

Humin (free, iOS and Android)

Humin is a more intelligent address book. Search contacts by when you met them, by where they work, who they’re friends with, or where you met them. It also merges duplicates and can ask contacts to update their info on your behalf.

‘Hey Siri’ in iOS 8.3 allows for automatic speakerphone calls

Apple has made a small, but helpful, change in the way that iOS 8.3 can make phone calls via Siri. With the launch of iOS 8.0 last fall, Apple added a feature to Siri that allows users to activate the service hands-free by saying the phrase “Hey Siri” if the phone is plugged into power. However, if a user asked Siri to make a phone call via the “Hey Siri” hands-free command, the call would strangely not automatically transfer to speakerphone. Based on our tests, this will change in iOS 8.3. As can be seen in the screenshots above, if a user asks Siri to make a phone call through speakerphone, the call will actually be made on speaker phone…

In addition to this enhancement, iOS 8.3 will bring support for several new Siri languages, a new set of more diverse Emojis, improved login for Google accounts, and support for wireless CarPlay. Apple is also working on an iOS 8.4 update that include the company’s upcoming new streaming music service and iOS 9, which will include a focus on bug fixes and performance improvements. Apple has not announced when iOS 8.3 will ship, but it has recently gone into Public Beta.


Report: In June, Apple will Debut New Apple TV with App Store and Siri

Report: Apple Debuting New Apple TV with App Store and Siri in June

(Illustration by Yahoo Tech)

All of the pieces are falling into place for an overhauled Apple TV, and we may just see one come June. According to BuzzFeed News, Apple is planning to debut a revamped Apple TV at its World Wide Developers Conference. The new box will reportedly support third-party apps, voice control with Siri, and presumably the internet-TV service that The Wall Street Journal described earlier this week. BuzzFeed says that the new device will likely include more storage and a version of Apple’s latest mobile chip, the A8.

Apple’s more serious entrance into the living room has been long awaited. And, really, it’s about time. The Apple TV has been a nice but overly simple box for most of its lifespan. The addition of an App Store, which BuzzFeed says will be included, would make it dramatically more capable and interesting, allowing apps and games to take over an entire TV. If Apple’s long-rumored internet-TV service makes an appearance as well, the Apple TV would quickly become a major play for the living room. BuzzFeed reports that the Apple TV will include basic home automation features, too, however some are already built into the model that’s shipping today. Apple recently reduced the price of that model to $69.


St. Patrick’s Day – Free App Giveaway! (Limited Time)

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, which means you need to find more ways to get in the spirit of the holiday. Instead of simply just going to a bar and drinking green beer, maybe you could also play and enjoy Lep’s World 3.

Lep’s World 3: The platformer sequel that’s like Super Mario with leprechauns

Lep’s World 3
(4.5 stars with 2040 Ratings)
Universal App
$0.99 Free for a limited time

Lep’s World 3 is a platform game that is sort of like Super Mario, but with leprechauns and Irish details. You’ll run, jump, smash, and blow your way through and over a number of obstacles and enemy types, all while on your mission to retrieve your gold and rescue your friends from the evil trolls. The game comes with 120 levels of nonstop action, all filled with gorgeous elements designed to create an engaging environment that keeps you finding new things around every corner.

There are 18 items and abilities you can acquire, each one focused on helping you in specific situations. Even further, there are 4 different playable characters, rankings to see which of you and your friends is the best, and intuitive controls. Download Lep’s World 3, get your friends to do the same, and party on St. Patrick’s Day a little differently.

[ Gone Free ] Lep’s World 3: The platformer sequel that’s like Super Mario with leprechauns


Lep’s World 3
(4.5 stars with 2040 Ratings)
Universal App
$0.99 Free for a limited time

Lep’s World 3 is a platform game that is sort of like Super Mario, but with leprechauns and Irish details. You’ll run, jump, smash, and blow your way through and over a number of obstacles and enemy types, all while on your mission to retrieve your gold and rescue your friends from the evil trolls. The game comes with 120 levels of nonstop action, all filled with gorgeous elements designed to create an engaging environment that keeps you finding new things around every corner.

There are 18 items and abilities you can acquire, each one focused on helping you in specific situations. Even further, there are 4 different playable characters, rankings to see which of you and your friends is the best, and intuitive controls. Download Lep’s World 3, get your friends to do the same, and party on St. Patrick’s Day a little differently.

App Screenshots

Microsoft’s Cortana is coming to iOS and Android

Microsoft is planning to bring its Cortana digital assistant to iOS and Android as a standalone app. While the software maker has previously confirmed Cortana would come to additional operating systems, Reuters reports that the standalone app will be available on phones and tablets running iOS and Android. Microsoft is currently building Cortana into Windows 10, which is set to debut later this year, and it’s likely that the digital assistant will make its way on to Android and iOS alongside its PC expansion.

Microsoft is working on a new version of Cortana for later this year

In an interview with Reuters, Microsoft’s Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research, reveals that the company is planning a bigger roll out of Cortana later this year. “This kind of technology, which can read and understand email, will play a central role in the next roll out of Cortana, which we are working on now for the fall time frame,” says Horvitz. Microsoft is currently developing a more advanced version of Cortana, codenamed project Einstein, that pulls data from artificial intelligence. While there’s not many details on Einstein from Reuters’ report, it appears to be an effort to improve the awareness of Cortana and its ability to automate even more tasks.

Microsoft’s move to bring Cortana to iOS and Android won’t surprise many. The software maker has consistently shown that it’s willing to bring its best Windows features to rival platforms in an overall effort to improve its services and apps. While Cortana is a standout feature for Windows Phone, and soon Windows 10, the small amount of consumers using it won’t help Microsoft’s goal of improving its digital assistant with machine learning techniques and bringing its services and apps to all smartphone and tablet owners. It’s a natural part of Microsoft’s continued transformation to return to its software roots with its apps and services running on every device.

Apple Releases iOS 8.1.3, It Fixes Several Bugs

Apple AAPL +0.65% has officially released iOS 8.1.3. The update can be downloaded by going to Settings > General > Software Update. You can also download and install the update through iTunes by plugging in your iPhone to your Mac or PC. The iOS 8.1.3 update contains bug fixes, stability enhancements and performance improvements. The download size of iOS 8.1.3 is 246MB.

What are some of the specific changes? The updates include:
1.) The amount of storage required to perform a software update has been reduced.
2.) An issue that prevented some users from entering their Apple ID password for Messages and FaceTime has been fixed.
3.) iOS 8.1.3 addresses an issue that caused Spotlight to stop displaying app results.
4.) The iPad issue which prevented multitasking gestures from working has been fixed.
5.) There are new configuration options for education standardized testing.

Unfortunately, Apple iOS 8.1.3 does not fix the “GMT bug.” The GMT bug causes appointments created in one time zone on an iOS device to incorrectly show another timezone due to server syncing issues. The appointments with the GMT bugs likely originated from Google GOOGL -0.82% Calendar or Microsoft MSFT -0.12% Exchange.

Apple launched iOS 8 in September when the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus was announced. Apple Pay support was added about a month later. There were a few bugs when iOS 8 launched so Apple quickly launched iOS 8.1.1 in November and iOS 8.1.2 in December. iOS 8.1.1 added improved performance for the iPhone 4s and the iPad 2. And iOS 8.1.2 contained other bug fixes, including issues that affected ringtones.

ios 8.1.3

Later this year Apple will release iOS 8.2, which will enable the iPhone and Apple Watch to communicate with each other. Test builds of WatchKit have already been sent to developers for building Apple Watch apps. The Apple Health app will also have improved descriptions when iOS 8.2 is released. 

Apple has also released several other software updates for its other products recently. Apple TV has received a new “120 Sports” channel and OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 has been released for Mac devices. 120 Sports is a service that updates daily with over 10 hours of free content from the MLB, NBA, NHL, PGA, NCAA and NASCAR.

Have you downloaded iOS 8.1.3? Let us know what you think of the changes in the comments section below.

Amit Chowdhry Contributor

5 Free Apps For The Selfie Photo Fan

f there is one thing about the Internet that remains constant, it’s that there is always a trend, a fad, going on. Whether it’s the latest meme, or filtering your photographs through various Instagram-like filters, there’s always something happening, which either annoys you or amuses you. So where do you stand on the latest fad? That would be the selfie.

Yes, the selfie. God’s gift to all vain and self-absorbed people everywhere. There’s nothing wrong with making the odd snap here and there, but some people take it to extreme levels. And Justin Bieber loves it, which definitely makes it worse! Ellen did it at the Oscars though which was kind of cool.

If you count yourself as a selfie junkie, here are 5 apps which will help you enjoy your hobby.


When you view a photo, do you ever wonder what is on the other side? If you do, Frontback exists to give you a glimpse behind, and in front, of the camera.

I managed to get a rather handsome Scottish fellow to pose for me, to test the app. It worked flawlessly, as the app just walked me through the stages. A must for any selfie fan.

Download: iTunes (Free) | Android (Free)


Once you’ve taken the selfie, do you instantly whoosh it off to Instagram, Flickr, or Facebook? Don’t be silly! No, first we need to get rid of the pimples, remove the second chin, and the third eye…and the hair has to change colour. Blonde is so…yesterday.

This is why Perfect365 belongs on your phone. Once you have snapped your selfie, you can run the picture through Perfect365 and get a “magazine-worthy digital makeover” (their words).

Download: iTunes Link (Free) | Android (Free)


If you fancy something different, then why not make a caricature selfie? This is when you make a funny image of yourself, based on a photo you take with the app, or that you upload.

Here’s me. They are all GIF images so prepare to see yourself dancing around. It’s worth a few laughs at least.

Download: iTunes (Free) | Android  (Free)


Shots is actually a fledgling social network on the rise, a kind of rival to Instagram, except this one is dedicated to selfies. This is the one that Justin Bieber endorsed, in case there are any Bieberites (or whatever you call yourselves) are out there reading this.

You can contact the person who made the selfie, via the app. But what is nice about Shots is that it doesn’t have a public commenting feature, in order to stop cyber-bullying.

Download: iTunes (Free) | Android (Free)

Selfie Cam App

This one is only for iOS, and allows you to use iOS7 face detection technology to take your selfie. Just smile at the camera and the picture is taken. Or use your thumb to rotate a rotary dial to snap a picture, which may be more comfortable for some.

Plus there arealso the usual stickers that all selfies need. You can export the finished photos to Instagram, and you can share to Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp.

Download: iTunes (Free)

So there you go, 5 apps for selfie lovers the world over. Do you count yourself as a selfie fanatic? If so, what apps do you use, and why do you do it?

The 25 Apps You Must Download First on Your Hot New iPhone

The 25 Apps You Must Download First on Your Hot New iPhone

The 25 Apps You Must Download First on Your Hot New iPhone

So, some superstar family member or significant other gifted you an iPhone for the holidays, huh? Congrats!

Now it’s time to download some great new apps. Here are the ones recommended by Yahoo Tech:

1. Facebook: The social networking app for posts, pokes, and polemics is a great time-waster.

Facebook logo


2. Twitter: 140-character bursts of knowledge, humor, news, and more. “Never be bored again,” as Twitter once put it.


3. Instagram: A photo-sharing app that’s all about filters. Filters and puppies. And coffee.


4. Google Maps: Apple’s Maps, though improved a bit this year, is still — how do we say? — in development. Stick with Google’s trusty app instead.

Google Maps logo


5. Seamless/GrubHub: These apps take the “call-in” part out of getting great eats delivered to your home.


6. Amazon Kindle: Bring your Kindle ebook collection to your iPhone by simply installing this app and signing in.


7. YouTube: The most popular video site on the planet. Download this app to your iPhone and never miss out on the latest and greatest music video or cute animal clip.


8. Vine: Addictive looping six-second videos. Funny, cute stuff.

Vine logo


9. Evernote: Create, save, and sync notes across all your mobile and desktop devices with the Evernote iPhone app.


10. Venmo: A cool, easy, and social way to send money to online friends. Essential for splitting the bill.


11. Gmail: These days, if you have a pulse, you have a Gmail account. And now, with the improvements Google has brought to its iOS Gmail app, iPhone owners can finally enjoy the full Google mail experience the same way Android phone people always have.

Gmail logo


12. Facebook Messenger: Facebook has made it necessary to download a second app for sending and reading private Facebook messages on your phone. So you might as well just download it.


13. Hyperlapse: From the makers of Instagram, this app is probably the best mobile tool for easily creating professional-looking time-lapse videos.

Hyperlapse logo


14. Spotify: The iPhone app for the best streaming music service around is a must. Stream virtually any song you can think of (aside from anything in the Taylor Swift discography) while you’re on the move.

Spotify logo


15. Feedly: Use this gorgeous RSS reader app to catch up on all your news in one place.


16. Heads Up! You may recognize this Password-like game from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, but the iPhone/iPad app version topped the App Store’s 2014 “Top Paid Apps” list, too.

Heads Up game


17. Chrome: Google’s Web browser is preferred by some over the iPhone’s default, Safari. The mobile version will sync with all your Chrome desktop browsing history and bookmarks, too.


18. Yelp: Read and post ratings on this wildly popular business-rating service while on the go.

Yelp logo


19. Foursquare/Swarm: These apps connect you to Foursquare’s popular social “check-in” service. Its new Swarm breakout makes it easier to see what your friends are up to.


20. Google Hangouts: Google’s Hangouts lets iPhone owners text, send pictures, and video chat across other computer and mobile device platforms, and without a carrier texting plan.

Google Hangouts logo


21. WhatsApp: WhatsApp has more users around the world than any other mobile texting app. Join the largest instant messaging party on the planet!


22. 2048: Drive yourself mad with this incredibly popular puzzle game. (We promise it’s a good time.)


23. Snapchat: The most popular way to send sneaky messages on iPhone, Snapchat is a staple. Get silly or get scandalous; just download this app.

Snapchat logo


24. CamScanner: Pack that bulky, power-wasting scanner away and import documents painlessly using just this app and your iPhone’s camera.


25. RunKeeper: Strap your iPhone on and track all your walking, jogging or biking miles. Compare workouts with friends right from the app, too.

RunKeeper logo


Why WireLurker, the iPhone’s Most Advanced Malware Ever, Shouldn’t Terrify You

Why WireLurker, the iPhone’s Most Advanced Malware Ever, Shouldn’t Terrify You

You may have heard that a new strain of malware called WireLurker has attacked Apple’s OS X operating system for Mac and iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad. You might have also heard that it’s incredibly dangerous and that you should be very, very scared.

But the truth is, the malware itself has already been addressed and subdued by Apple. It also was never that big of a threat to most people, despite what you may have read elsewhere. The real issue, according to Palo Alto Networks, the security company that found the malware, is how it infected your iPhone, and what that could mean for future attacks.

Members of Palo Alto Network’s Unit 42 uncovered WireLurker earlier this week. This piece of malware, which may have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, required you to take very specific actions for it to get onto your iPhone.

First of all, you had to go to a third-party Chinese OS X app store called the Maiyadi App Store — a dangerous Web store known to host pirated and infected OS X software. You then had to ignore a host of warnings from OS X asking whether you really wanted to run software from an unknown developer or source.

Those steps alone mean that the vast majority of OS X and iPhone owners were safe from WireLurker from the start. You’re probably not downloading too much software from third-party Chinese app stores. (And if you are: Stop it.)

Even if you are frequenting the Maiyadi App Store, it would take another step for this malware to get onto your iPhone: You would have had to plug your phone into your infected Mac via USB. WireLurker would then jump to your iPhone and start mining data.

What the ultimate purpose of the malware was has yet to be uncovered. But, needless to say, only a small minority of people were ever in danger of seeing their devices infected by WireLurker.

The thing that makes WireLurker a problem, and the reason it deserves so much attention, is that it was able to impact iPhones that weren’t “jailbroken.”

Jailbreaking an iPhone basically gives a person the ability to install and run apps and extensions that Apple’s iOS normally doesn’t allow for a variety of reasons, including security. Jailbreaking is also popular for those who want to use a device on their local carrier, which may or may not support Apple devices.

Jailbreaking is capable of enabling a lot of cool stuff on your phone that Apple otherwise blocks. The problem with jailbreaking an iPhone is that, if you’re not careful, it can put your phone at risk of being infected by malware or other malicious software.

Malware on jailbroken iPhones, in other words, isn’t new. WireLurker, however, managed to infect iPhones that hadn’t been jailbroken. It did so by exploiting enterprise provisions within Apple’s iOS, which are normally used by businesses to create custom apps for their employees.

That’s the reason WireLurker is dangerous. It’s not some super piece of malware that will destroy your iPhone, as it’s been made out to be. The scary thing is the means by which it was able to install itself on non-jailbroken iPhones.

According to Palo Alto Networks, WireLurker is only the third piece of malware that’s managed to infect non-jailbroken iPhones. What’s more, this is one of the first instances of malicious software being able to jump to non-jailbroken iPhones via a USB connection.

In other words, this likely won’t be the last type of malware that attacks iPhones in such a way. Where the next attack will come from is one of those pesky known unknowns.

So how do you keep your iPhone safe from such an attack? Just follow the usual rules for device safety. Don’t download software from places you don’t know you can trust, install an antivirus suite on your Mac, keep your Mac and iPhone up to date, and don’t jailbreak your iPhone if you aren’t sure how to avoid malware. If you do all that, you’re likely safe.

Now stop panicking and get back to taking selfies, or playing Flappy Crush Saga, or whatever it is you kids do.

Source: Follow Daniel on Twitter at @DanielHowley


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