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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Best Buy has cut the MacBook Air's price tag to $800 By Ian Paul

Apple hasn’t updated the MacBook Air since 2015, and many Apple watchers don’t expect to see a refresh of the device. In fact, the 11-inch MacBook Air left the consumer market last October.

Nevertheless, Apple still offers the 13-inch Air as the cheapest MacBook option at $999—and today at Best Buy, you can grab one for $200 cheaper than its sticker price.

This particular Air comes with a 13.3-inch display with 1440x900 resolution, a 1.6 GHz dual-core Intel “Broadwell” Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB onboard storage, SDXC card reader, and a Thunderbolt 2 port. There’s also a MagSafe adapter, two USB 3 ports, and a headphone jack. Best Buy is also throwing in a redemption code for six months of free Kaspersky Internet Security service.
 That last giveaway requires a Best Buy account.

Of course, while this deal is solid (it’s the second-lowest price we’ve seen recently), don’t forget this laptop’s age. Its processor is now two generations behind, and Thunderbolt 2 is also a generation behind current standards—though it’s still a ridiculously fast I/O port. This computer also doesn’t have Apple’s Force Touch trackpad.

However, if buying a new MacBook is a foregone conclusion, then this is the one of the cheapest options around right now.
MacBook Air 13 Apple
Today’s deal: 13-inch MacBook Air with 128GB storage for $800 ] 

Friday, February 17, 2017

How to Make Songs Available Offiline with Apple Music on iPhone by iPhoneLife

Thursday, February 16, 2017

New Google Maps feature means you'll never forget a great location again By Mark Jones,

Don't you just love having friends and family visit from out of town? It's a great time to play tour guide and show them all of the exciting places your city has to offer.

You might also want to take them to your favorite restaurant to share an epic meal. I'm sure you remember how to get there, but what about that amazing Italian restaurant you tried last summer and forgot its name and where it's located? No worries, Google Maps now has you covered.
That's right, there is now a feature on Google Maps that will help you keep track of any location or route that you'd like. You can also create a list of places and share it with friends and family.

How to use the new features on Google Maps

Not only can you share your list of places, you can also subscribe to lists created by other people so you know their favorite locations too. Here is how to get started:
  • Open Google Maps.
  • Find a location on Google Maps that you want on your list.
  • Tap the name of that location.
  • Tap the Save icon under the location's name - Doing this saves the location to one of your pre-set lists. You can name the lists anything you want, such as favorite restaurants or places I want to try.
Once you have a few locations saved, they can be found under Your Places in the menu on the upper-left side of the screen. Just tap the icon of the location and it will show up on Google Maps.
Sharing your lists is easy as well. Simply tap the share button to get a link and you can send the list via text, email, social media or any popular messaging app. The recipient only needs to tap "Follow" on the link you sent to pull up the list whenever they need it.

Lists that you follow are with you wherever you take Google Maps and can be viewed on mobile, desktop computer and even offline. Download offline maps of the area you are traveling to in advance and you will be able to see all the places on the list.

Here is a quick video that shows you how to use the new feature:
Note: If you are reading this article on the App, click here to watch Google's demonstration video.
This new Google Maps feature is available on both iOS and Android. The update has started rolling out and you should see it soon, if not already.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Easiest way to backup your smartphone By Mark Jones,

Our smartphones might be the most important gateway to our digital lives. We store so much important information on these handheld gadgets that the thought of losing them is frightening!

If you're like me, once you enter someone's phone number into your contacts list, it's out of your mind forever. It seems like it would be an impossible task to recover everyone's digits. How scary is that?
Obviously, smartphones aren't just contact directories. We also store precious pictures and videos on them as well as important files.

You never know when you're going to lose your phone, or even worse, have it stolen. That's why it's so critical to back up all of the essential data kept on these amazing gadgets.

With that in mind, we're going to tell you how to back up both Android and Apple phones.

Backing up an Android phone

File transfer app

There are different ways to back up your data from an Android phone. One way is to use a free file transfer app. We recommend using AirMore.
AirMore is a cross-platform tool that allows you to connect your mobile gadget to a PC wirelessly. It frees you from cables and client. The only thing you need to do is open the PC's web browser.
Here are some features you'll find on AirMore:
  • File transfer - Easily transfer data, music, photos and videos between your Android gadget and PC.
  • Manage contacts - You can manage all of your contacts on AirMore Web conveniently, including editing, deleting, transferring and making phone calls.
  • Secure transfer - AirMore makes the transfer between mobile gadgets and the PC more private and secure, as your approval is required for successful connection.
  • File management - You can delete, download and upload the files in your Android phone. Manage apps, documents, music, photos and videos easily.
Click here to see additional AirMore features and get the link to download the app.

Android backup service

You can also use Android Backup Service to back up data connected to one or more of your Google Accounts. If you have to replace your gadget or erase its data, you can restore your information from any Google Account that you backed up.

With Android Backup Service you can back up Google Calendar settings, Wi-Fi networks and passwords, home screen wallpapers, Gmail settings, apps installed through Google Play, display settings and more.

Before you begin, you'll need to add a backup account. Here is how to do that:
  • Open your gadget's Settings app
  • Under "Personal," tap Backup & reset
  • Tap Backup account >> Add account
  • Confirm your gadget's PIN, pattern or password
  • Sign into the account that you want to add
Now you're ready to backup your data. Here are those steps:
  • Open your gadget's Settings app
  • Under "Personal," tap Backup and reset
  • Tap Backup my data and switch it on
Once you use Android Backup Service to backup your phone, the information is available to be restored. All you need to do to get the backed up data onto your new phone is add the Google Account to it. When the Google Account is added to the phone, the backed up data is restored.

Backing up an iPhone


As we mentioned earlier, AirMore is a file transfer app for Android. Apple actually came up with this concept first and implemented it with AirDrop. This is one way to back up important data from your iPhone.
Apple AirDrop is a built-in app that lets you seamlessly move files back and forth between nearby desktop Macs and iOS gadgets like iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. This is a quick and convenient way to transfer files from an iOS gadget to a Mac using a Bluetooth connection.

To enable AirDrop on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, swipe up on the Home screen to access the Control Panel. From here, you can set AirDrop to receive from Contacts Only, Everyone, or turn it Off.

To use AirDrop from a Mac, it is available from the Finder, the Share menu, and in Open and Save windows. When you select AirDrop, your Mac looks for nearby devices that can also use AirDrop. This includes Mac computers with OS X Lion or later installed, and iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 7 or later.

Back up your data in iCloud

An easy way to back up important data from an iPhone is to use iCloud. Here are the steps for using iCloud:
  • Connect to a Wi-Fi network
  • Go to Settings >> iCloud >> Back up
  • Turn on iCloud Backup
  • Tap Back Up Now - After the back up is done, go to
  • Settings >> iCloud >> Storage >> Manage Storage - Do this to make sure the backup was successful
Here are the steps to transfer data from iCloud to your phone:
  • Turn on your new iPhone - A Hello screen should appear.
  • Press the Home button - Follow steps until you see the Wi-Fi screen.
  • Tap a Wi-Fi network to join - Follow steps until you see the Apps & Data screen.
  • Tap Restore from iCloud >> Backup >> Next.
  • Sign into iCloud with your Apple ID and password.
  • When asked, choose a backup. Make sure it's the correct one by checking the date and size of each.
  • If you purchased iTunes or App Store content using multiple Apple IDs, you'll be asked to sign in to each. If you forgot a password, you can skip this step by tapping "Don't have an Apple ID or forgot it."
  • Stay connected and wait for the restore process to finish, then complete the rest of the onscreen setup steps. If possible, keep your gadget connected to Wi-Fi and plugged into power after setup. This allows content like your photos, music, and apps stored in iCloud to automatically download back to your gadget.

Back up your data to iTunes

To back up to iTunes on your computer, first, plug your phone into your computer. Then follow these steps:
  • Open iTunes.
  • Go to Files >> Devices >> Transfer Purchases - This will save any purchases you made directly on your phone.
  • Then go to File >> Devices >> Backup.
  • Select "This computer."
  • Click "Back Up Now."
Here are the steps to transfer data from iTunes to your phone:
  • Turn on your new iPhone - A Hello screen should appear.
  • Press the Home button when you see the Hello screen and follow steps until you see the Apps & Data screen.
  • Tap Restore from iTunes Backup >> Next.
  • Connect your new phone to the computer that you used to back up your previous phone.
  • Open iTunes on your computer and select your device.
  • Select Restore Backup. Then choose a backup. Make sure it's the correct one by looking at the date and size of each.
  • If you need to restore from an encrypted backup, enter your password when asked.
  • Wait for the restore process to finish, then complete the rest of the setup steps on your iOS gadget. If possible, keep your device connected to Wi-Fi and plugged into power after setup. This allows content like your photos, music, and apps stored in iCloud to automatically download back to your gadget.

Android tricks for fantastic photos By Francis Navarro,

How many photos have you taken with just your smartphone? Just think about the countless photos you've taken of your friends, pets, objects and family members. What about those you've taken while traveling to exotic locations and your favorite nearby destinations?

When capturing these cherished memories, of course, you want to get the best shot possible, either for sharing online or saving on your own digital scrapbook. You don't have to be a professional photographer to get the most out of your smartphone's camera. Sometimes, a little bit of tweaking and know-how is all it takes.
Here are some quick and easy tricks for taking better photos with your Android.

Clean your lens

My first tip may sound simple but it could make the difference between a keeper or an image destined to be deleted. Before taking a shot, make sure your phone lens is clean!

Fingerprint smudges, specks of dust and lint can blur your phone's camera lens and ruin an otherwise perfect picture.

Make sure you wipe it down with a piece of cloth before taking a photo. To avoid scratches, the best way to clean a camera lens is with a microfiber cloth. If you're planning on doing extensive photo shoots with your Android smartphone, make sure you have at least one of these cleaning cloths handy.

Choose the best resolution

Next, to maximize your Android smartphone camera's capabilities, try setting the resolution to the highest possible. This ensures that your image will be as sharp as it can be. Maximizing your resolution also means you have more flexibility when it comes to editing the photo, like cropping or zooming, for example.
It's not the same for each Android phone, but to check your camera's resolution, open your camera app and look for its respective "Settings" section, it's usually under "Photo resolution" or "Photo Size."
Note that the higher the resolution, the bigger the photo's file size so plan accordingly. If you're running out of storage space and you don't mind grainy shots, take your resolution down a notch.

Frame your subject properly

Before you take that picture, there are a few composition techniques you can employ to improve your images dramatically.
One is the "Rule of Thirds." This technique breaks down the image into nine quadrants and according to this theory, the best location to put your subjects is along where these quadrants intersect. This creates a balanced, well-organized and more visually appealing photo.
To aid you in adhering to this "Rule of Thirds," you can turn on your camera's gridlines by digging into its settings and turning on "Show grid in viewfinder."

Set your focus point and exposure

With most of our everyday smartphone shots, we usually rely on the available lighting - natural daylight, indoor lighting inside the office, or a dim lampshade in our bedroom, for example. Inadequate lighting and improper focus can cause blurriness, over or under exposure and uneven shots.

One quick way to fix focus and exposure issues is to tap on your viewfinder/screen to select your area or subject of interest. Your camera settings will then automatically adjust its focus and exposure based on that area.

Another feature that can help you resolve exposure issues is High Dynamic Range (HDR). HDR will take photos of different exposures in rapid succession then merges them to create an evenly exposed image.

To enable HDR on your Android phone, look for the HDR option under settings and toggle it on. Some Android phones will have the HDR option instantly accessible next to the Flash setting.

Bonus tip: Although your smartphone's flash can help you in extreme situations, avoid using it since it washes out your image most of the time.

Stabilize your shot

Another trick to achieve better results with your Android smartphone's camera is to stabilize your shot to avoid blur. The best method is to use a tripod but if that's not available, use two hands to operate your phone as much as possible. Also, try leaning on a wall to stabilize your shot even further.

You can also try extending your arms when taking the shot to add more stability. Remember, the less movement you do, the sharper your image will be.

Take multiple shots to choose from

To nail that perfect shot, take as many insurance shots as possible. Try taking shots of your subject in rapid succession and select the best one of the bunch after the fact.

If possible, do burst shots (by holding the shutter button) and sort the pictures out later.

How to see all the companies tracking you on Facebook - and block them By Komando Staff,

Facebook is tracking you seven ways from Sunday, but that should be no surprise if you've been reading for any length of time. In the past, we've talked about stopping Facebook from sharing your information with advertisers, storing your search history, or figuring out your interests to serve you targeted ads.

Today, however, we're going to look at other companies that can see your information on Facebook. You agreed to let them do it without even realizing it, and you might have dozens watching your posts, your profile and more. Let's talk about how to get rid of them and how to keep this from happening again.

How did this happen in the first place?

If you've ever received a request to play that Facebook game your friends are obsessed with, and you decided, "Why not?" and signed up, you let a company track you. When you visit a site and it says "Log in with Facebook," and you do, then you're letting that company track you.

That's right, we're talking about Facebook apps. These third-party apps integrate with your Facebook profile and can ask Facebook for permission to pull various personal data from your work history to timeline posts. Sure you can edit what information they can access, but very few people do.

Even worse, apps your friends install can potentially see some of your information as well. So, we're going to need to fix both of these to stop the tracking.

Review and edit installed apps

To see what apps you've installed over the years, click the down arrow in the upper-right corner and select "Settings." Then click on the "Apps" header in the left column.
You'll see two areas, one for "Logged in with Facebook" and one for "Logged in Anonymously." You'll want to follow the below steps for each section, although anonymous logins don't share nearly as much info with app developers.

Let's look at the "Logged in with Facebook" section. In the example above, it has some game apps installed and it was used to log in to a Skype account. Each of those apps now has ongoing permission to pull information from the account.

As an example, let's take a look at what information Skype can access. Just click the pencil icon next to any of the apps to see and edit the settings.

The first setting lets you set who can see you using the app. It defaults to "Only Me," so it isn't a big deal. Below it, however, is another story.
You can see that Skype pulls your public profile information along with your list of friends, email address, birthday and hometown.

That's really not too bad, but remember that the information is being stored on a third-party server. Not every app developer is going to have Microsoft-level security, and hackers are good at turning tiny pieces of stolen information into big gains.

If you want to keep using the app, you can deselect certain items, such as your email address (as seen below). Be aware that won't remove the information from the app developer's servers, however.
Your public profile also can't be deselected. Edit your public profile to remove information Facebook shouldn't have.

If you don't want the app anymore, you can click the "Remove app" link at the bottom of the page. Just remember that this won't automatically remove your information from the app developer's servers. For that, you'll need to contact the app developer directly. Facebook has a link for more information on this under the "Remove info collected by the app" section.

Turn off apps completely

If you've deleted all the apps, and you're not keen on accidentally installing more in the future, you can turn off the app platform completely. Just note you won't be able to install apps or log in to third-party sites using Facebook until you turn this back on.

To turn off the app platform, go back to the App Settings page. Under "Apps, Websites and Plugins" click the "Edit" button.
At first, this just looks like a way to disable app notifications and invites from other people, which is a big help on its own. However, you'll want to click the "Disable Platform" link in the bottom left corner.
Facebook gives you the standard warning about what disabling the platform does. If you're OK with it, click the "Disable Platform" button. Again, this won't remove information that app developers might have collected about you already.

Stop friends' apps from seeing your info

That's not the end of it, however. Apps can still get your information through your friends. Basically, your friends install apps and those apps often have permission to grab info about you.
To put a stop to this, go back to the App Settings page. Then under "Apps Others Use" click the "Edit" button.
You'll see everything that your friends' apps can potentially see about you. Go through and uncheck every option listed on the page, and then click "Save." Now companies can't track new information about you.

Home Upgrades: Ideas on New Laptops and Better Wi-Fi by Marc Saltzman

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How Verizon's new 'unlimited' plan compares to the competition by Rob Pegoraro

Some five and a half years after killing its unlimited-data plan, Verizon (VZ) is resurrecting the offering, putting the carrier back on an even footing with competitors like AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

The move, announced Sunday, completes a remarkable turnaround for the industry. Back in mid-2012, only Sprint (S) offered a plan with unlimited full-speed data, which, given its horrible network then, wasn’t too appealing anyway. But in August 2012, T-Mobile (TMUS) added an unlimited plan to its stable of offerings. In January, AT&T (T) brought back unlimited data for its subscription-TV customers. And now Big Red has joined the trend.

Here’s how Verizon’s unlimited plan compares to the competition’s.

Prices and prioritization

Verizon’s Unlimited offering can actually be considered “unmetered,” as it does have some limitations. But that’s also the case with the unlimited-data deals from each of the three other nationwide carriers.

And the severity of the restrictions on each so-called unlimited plan often has little do with how much more or less it costs next to competitors’ plans — a lineup in which Sprint is cheapest, followed by T-Mobile, then Verizon and finally AT&T.

Here’s how the plans shake out:
  • AT&T (reserved for DirecTV and U-verse TV subscribers): $100 per month for one line, $40 per month each for the second and third lines. The fourth line is free.
  • Sprint: Sign up now through March 31, 2017 and you’ll pay $50 per month for one line, $40 for the second and nothing for the third and fourth lines through March 31, 2018. After that you’ll pay $60 a month for one line, $40 for a second and $30 each for the third and fourth. If you sign up after March 31, 2017, you’ll pay the standard $60 a month for the first line, $40 for the second  line and $30 each for the third and fourth lines.
  • T-Mobile: $70 per month for one line, $60 for the second line and $20 each for the third and fourth lines.
  • Verizon: $80 per month for one line, $60 for the second, $22 for a third and $18 for a fourth.
The most obvious limit is the point at which your data speeds slow if your carrier’s network becomes congested. This doesn’t mean getting kicked back to 2G speeds — the fallback, unmetered data service AT&T, Sprint and Verizon provide on their limited plans — but could mean slower webpages and poor streaming quality. It’s hard to say how much this could impact you, though, as user reports about the severity of this “deprioritization” have varied widely.

AT&T and Verizon will start to deprioritize your date after you use 22 GB in a month, while Sprint sets its limit at 23 GB. T-Mobile says ranking among the top 3% of its users, which the carrier says equates to burning more than 28 GB a month, will see your data fall to a lower priority level.

Other caveats: hotspots, high-def video

What about using your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, otherwise known as tethering? AT&T’s unlimited plan bans that, while Sprint limits it to 5GB a month. Verizon, meanwhile, includes 10 GB of tethering. As of Monday morning, T-Mobile offered unlimited tethering but at painfully slow 3G speeds; that afternoon, it reversed course and said it would include 10 GB of full-speed tethering starting Feb. 17.

Video also faces limits on most of these plans. While Verizon offers unlimited high-definition video streaming, Sprint and AT&T constrain streaming to 480p resolution, or DVD quality. AT&T lets you opt out of this “Stream Saver” feature to watch movies at a higher resolution. Sprint (which also limits music streaming to 500 kilobits per second and gaming to 2 megabits per second) charges $20 extra per line for an “Unlimited Premium” plan that enables high-definition video and quadruples music and gaming speed limits. 

T-Mobile’s Monday switcheroo also ended the carrier’s policy of limiting streaming video to 480p resolution. You’ll be able to get higher resolution streams starting Feb. 17. If you’re already on the carrier’s T-Mobile One unlimited plan, you’ll also be able to switch to this upgraded version Feb. 17.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere.
View photos
After Verizon announced its new ‘unlimited’ plan, T-Mobile announced updates to its own unlimited plan.
T-Mobile and Verizon also specify that you must enable automatic payments on your account to get the advertised pricing for their plans, while Sprint requires that you use paperless billing. If you’re fond of mailing back a check each month, look elsewhere.

Your alternatives

Whether these mostly-unlimited options work for you depends not on how much data you use, but on how you use it.

How to disable your webcam By Mark Jones,

The fact that we are living in a digital world means now, more than ever, that we really need to take privacy and security seriously.

Almost everything that we use these days can be connected to the internet. Our televisions, lights, washing machines and even refrigerators can be Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices.
These everyday smart appliances connect to the internet to give you more information and control than we could ever have imagined. It's a really handy technology.

Unfortunately, hackers are able to turn IoT devices into botnets to help them with a DDoS attack. DDoS stands for "distributed denial of service," which is a techy way of saying "crashing a system or the whole internet." It works when a targeted website or server is flooded by an overwhelming amount of requests from millions of connected machines in order to bring it down.
Another gadget that cybercriminals can use against you is your webcam. Not only can they be infected with malware allowing them to be controlled as a botnet, but a creeper can also use your own webcam to spy on you.

That's why it's so important that you know how to disable your webcam.

How to keep your webcam private

Webcams are great for video chatting with distant friends or watching your house while you're on vacation. Unfortunately, they're great for hackers too.

Hackers can slip data and finance-stealing viruses onto your computer. Why not a virus that can take control of your webcam?

Even scarier, some webcams don't require any hacking! They broadcast an unsecured signal that anyone can find.

This is actually happening. Listen to our podcast to find out how hackers are watching your every move.

The easiest way to stop people from watching you on your webcam is to cover it with a piece of tape, or sticky-note. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was even spotted using this technique last year.
However, if you don't want to pin all of your hopes of privacy on a piece of tape, there are more thorough ways of disabling webcams. Here are the steps you need to take:

Disabling an integrated webcam in Windows

Whether you are using a laptop or a touch-screen all-in-one desktop PC, it more than likely came with an integrated, or built-in, webcam. Disabling the webcam is pretty simple, just follow these steps:
  • Press Win + R - (The Win button is located on your keyboard and looks like a Window.) Pressing these two buttons at the same time is a shortcut to opening a Run window.
  • Type devmgmt.msc and hit enter or click OK. This opens up a Device Manager pane.
  • Click Imaging devices.
  • Right click on Integrated Webcam - You will see this underneath Imaging devices.
  • Select Disable  
  • Click Yes - A popup menu will open after selecting Disable. This will officially disable the webcam.
Later, if you want to enable the webcam, just go through these same steps and select Enable on the step that you previously selected Disable.

Disabling a webcam connected with USB in Windows

The easiest way to disable a webcam connected with a USB is to unplug it. If you want to disable it the more thorough way, follow these steps:
  • Press Win + R.
  • Type devmgmt.msc and hit enter or click OK. This opens up a Device Manager pane.
  • Click Imaging devices.
  • Right click USB camera (it could say USB webcam).
  • Select Disable.

Disabling a webcam on macOS

Deactivating a webcam on a Mac is a bit more tricky than in Windows. You need to delete a specific file for this.

Warning! If you plan on using the integrated webcam at any point in the future, you need to make a back-up of this file before deleting it. Create a new folder and paste the copied file in it.
Here are the steps to delete the file: Go to Macintosh HD >> System >> Library >> Quicktime. Under Quicktime, you will delete the file called QuickTimeUSBVDCDigitizer.component.

New video messaging app everybody's using, and you should too By Amanda Kooser,

 When someone shouts "Marco," you know to answer with "Polo." But Marco Polo isn't just a children's game or the name of a 13th-century Venetian traveler famous for his explorations in China. It's also a mobile video messaging app that is being downloaded at a rapid rate.

App maker Joya Communications describes Marco Polo as a "video walkie talkie." Another way to view it is as an enhancement and alternative to your usual text messaging routine. It's an easy way to send short videos back and forth with your friends and family.
The interface is friendly and the learning curve is short, so you can see why it's catching on not just with Snapchat-obsessed millennials, but all sorts of smartphone users.

What it's good for

Marco Polo is especially good for short-and-sweet video messages. You're probably not going to use it for a 10-minute tutorial (though you can if you want) on how to make your favorite dinner, but it's ideal for a quick snippet showing the finished product off to your best friend. You can look back at your video conversation history and just tap a thumbnail to re-watch videos that were already recorded and sent back and forth. In that sense, it's much like having a visual version of text messaging.

Get going

After you download Marco Polo, it will walk you through a quick setup process where you verify your phone number, choose a profile photo, and search for friends. It offers to send invitations to your contacts, but be careful about accidentally spamming everyone on your contact list. Either skip this step or carefully select the contacts you want to send invites to. You can always send out individual invitations later on. Marco Polo will automatically pull up the contacts who already use the app, so chances are good you will find someone you know right away.

Chat with the Polo Bot

You could dive right in and send a video message to a friend, or you can hone your skills and practice with the Polo Bot, an automated Marco Polo contact. You can set your phone's camera to selfie-mode or choose to use the forward-facing camera if you don't want your face in the picture. Record a short video by hitting "Start." It will send when you hit "Stop." You can rewatch your recorded videos by touching the thumbnail at the bottom of the screen. Polo Bot will respond back with tips about using the app.

When you've got a feel for how Marco Polo works, then try out sending messages to your friends.

Invite politely

Marco Polo is gaining traction with smartphone users, but not everyone is aware of it. Look for the person-shaped symbol with a plus sign next to it at the top of the app. Open this and you will see a list of "Suggested Friends." This is where you can send out individual invitations to join you on the app. You may also have the option to send invites through Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Gmail or other apps on your phone.

Delete your videos

Marco Polo stores the videos you and your friends create in the cloud, so you're not eating up valuable storage space on your phone. If you don't want a particular video to live on in infamy on Marco Polo, you can choose to delete it by holding down on the thumbnail for that video. This pops up a selection of options, including "Delete this Polo." You can only delete your own videos, but not other people's videos.

Goofy extras

Marco Polo knows how to goof off. Voice filters (touch the icon that looks like a hybrid of a mic and a magic wand) will alter your voice to make it sound like a robot or a strongman, or as if you've just inhaled helium.

There's a text option for typing over your video and a doodle feature for drawing freehand. Access text by tapping the "T" icon and it will open up your keyboard. Type whatever you like. If you type a lot, the text will move off the top of the screen. To make the text disappear entirely, just tap the "T" icon again.

Engage the doodle feature by tapping on the pencil-shaped icon and then just draw on the screen with your finger while you're recording. This can be useful if you want to point something out within the video frame, but you could also give yourself cat ears and just play around. As with the text feature, tapping the doodle icon will then clear the screen.

There's a little bit of Instagram flair here since Marco Polo offers some visual filters. They're fairly rudimentary, but you can choose between Natural, Pop Art, Movie Star, Toon, Sketch, Night Vision, and America (which makes everything red, white and blue). Change filters by swiping your finger across the screen. You can play with filters while recording a video. Just swipe away and choose your favorite special effect.

Marco Polo could end up giving Snapchat some serious competition. The app is available for both Android and iOS devices.

Find it in the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Monday, February 13, 2017

How to find hidden charges on your cellphone bill By Robert Isenberg,

Cellphone bills are pretty annoying, right? Who likes to authorize that payment at the end of the month?

But maybe they're more than annoying. Maybe you're throwing away money on a plan that could be cheaper.
If so, you're not alone: In 2015, ABC reported that the average American spends $1,000 a year on cellphone service, and some researchers estimate that Americans waste $50 billion on minutes and data they never use.

If you're accustomed to a $140 phone bill, you might try some cost-cutting measures, especially if you don't use your phone for anything special, like using Facebook Live repeatedly in the middle of a tundra. Some of these techniques are simple and cooperative, and a sales rep will be happy to help you out. Others are a little more drastic, but they may save you bundles of cash in the end.

Where should you start?

Before you can identify which of these tips (or which combination) will save you the most money, you first need to know what you're currently spending. To do this, you'll need to review your cellphone bill with a fine-toothed comb. And, keep in mind, mobile carriers can sometimes make things confusing. Click here to learn the truth about Verizon Wireless and Sprint's latest cellphone ads.

Every cellular service provider is different, but here are the general areas you should look for:
  • Account summary: Typically, this is where you'll find records of your payment history so you can see how things have changed over time. Are your rates increasing? Go back three to six months to find out.
  • Monthly service charges: To compare plans, you'll need to know this number. This is the cost your mobile service provider charges to connect each line to their network. In your bill, you should see this number itemized for each phone that's connected to your account.
  • Local and extended charges: This area could include charges for overages on minutes used, text messaging, and other limitations that are included in your plan. For example, if you have a plan that only allows 700 minutes per month, and you use 750, you could be charged for that airtime. If you're on a plan that's meeting your needs, ideally, you shouldn't see any charges in this area.
  • Roaming charges: These charges will show up on your bill if you've traveled outside of your local and extended coverage areas, and they can add up quickly. If you're seeing these charges regularly on your bill, then your mobile provider may not offer the best coverage in your area.
  • Other charges and credits: This is a section you should monitor closely at all times. Click here for hidden cellular fees you should watch out for.

How to save:

Now that you understand the key areas of your cellphone bill, it's time to identify areas where you can save money. Here are six ways you can cut costs each month.

1. Join a family plan

These days, millennials tend to join family plans right off the bat. But maybe you've been a lone wolf for a while. You like your provider, you like your phone, but the bills are killing you. Family plans generally allow you to share minutes and data with parents and siblings, which can be very cost-effective, especially if you choose a rollover plan. Although "family plan" is the generic term, you don't necessarily have to be related. You can start a shared plan with a roommate, coworker or significant other.

2. Roll back your service

When we first sign up for a plan, we often overshoot our needs. Why not get the biggest package? Heck, why not get the unlimited plan? We don't necessarily know how much data we use, so we hear "10 GB" and that seems about right. If you're not streaming music or videos, or if you tend to log onto Wi-Fi at home and at work, you may be surprised how little data you use. Most services will let you check your data usage. Pick a typical month, monitor how much you use, and if it's less than you expected, consider switching to a cheaper plan.

Tip within a tip: Have an old cellphone you're not using anymore? Certain older models are actually selling for big cash on eBay. Click here to see which phones can get you top dollar.

3. Look for employee discounts

Some people don't even realize their employers have special deals with service providers. This is especially true among big corporations, but small companies often have partnerships as well. It's worth checking with the administrator if only to get a few bucks knocked off. If you're a little older, don't forget about the senior discount as well.

4. Audit your own account

Signing up for cellphone service can be an exhausting process, and no one expects you to read all of the contract's fine print. That's why you might consider reviewing your account and seeing if you're paying for an add-on you didn't realize you had, and possibly don't even want. The term for this is "cramming," and cellular carriers are notorious for charging extra fees for, say, voicemail. Look over your bill, and even have a sales rep explain what all the costs actually are. You may be able to remove something from your final tab.

Tip within a tip: Don't let your next vacation be ruined by roaming and overage charges. Click here for a traveler's guide to taking your smartphone abroad

5. Switch teams

Big-time carriers will do almost anything to retain their customers, especially if you threaten to go to their competitors. In the past, cellular providers have roped their customers into two-year contracts that instantly renewed, making it difficult and expensive for people to quit. But now that consumers are rejecting those stodgy old contracts, they often have more freedom to try another company. This can work on both ends: Your current provider might offer you an incentive to stay, and another provider might give you a special bonus to join. Either way, the winner should be you.

6. Try a B-list carrier

Years ago, no self-respecting middle-class person would have been caught dead with a Cricket phone. But times have changed. Prepaid and contract-free providers often get great reception and many people like their flexible service. You can avoid credit checks and hefty fees, and you can switch off the service whenever you want. Even big companies like Verizon and AT&T have started their own lines of prepaid service.

6 essential settings to make your iPhone and iPad display easier on the eyes by By Ben Patterson

Nope, you don’t have to settle for itty-bitty text on your iPhone screen, nor must you deal with buttons that don’t look anything like buttons. Once you know which settings to change, you can boost the size of on-screen text on your iPhone or iPad, make words a bit more bold, zoom in with a virtual magnifying glass, warm up—or cool off—Night Shift, and more.

Change text size

You don’t have to squint if the text on your iPhone or iPad is a little too small. There are a couple of ways to boost the size of text on an iOS device.
Make onscreen text bigger—or smaller Ben Patterson
iOS’s Display Zoom feature boosts the size of both icons and text on your iPhone or iPad display.
First, you can use the Text Size setting to boost the font size of onscreen text—or, if you really want, you can make text on your iPhone or iPad look even tinier. Tap Settings > Display & Brightness > Text Size, then drag the slider one way or the other.

If you want to make everything look a bit bigger—icons and buttons included—you can try the Display Zoom setting. Tap Settings > Display & Brightness > Display Zoom, then flick on the switch. Keep in mind that you’ll see less stuff on the screen with the Display Zoom setting enabled, including one fewer row of icons on your home screen. Note that you’ll need to restart your iOS device each time you toggle the setting on and off.

Give text a bold boost

Size matters, sure, but maybe you’d like the text on your iPhone or iPad to look a tad thicker, too. If so, give this setting a try.
Give onscreen text a bold boost Ben Patterson
If the text font on your iPhone or iPad is too slim for your liking, try iOS’s Bold setting.
Tap Settings > Display & Brightness, then toggle on the Bold setting. Once your iPhone or iPad restarts, your iOS system text—everything from icon labels on the home screen to the words in plain-text mail messages—will look thicker and darker.

Zoom in with a virtual magnifying glass

Not to be confused with the Display Zoom setting, the iOS Zoom feature will zoom the entire display on your iPhone or iPad—and with the help of a “windowed” mode, you can drag a virtual magnifying glass around the screen.
Zoom in with a virtual magnifying glass Ben Patterson
The windowed mode for iOS’s Zoom feature puts a virtual magnifying lens on your iPhone or iPad display.
Tap Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom, then toggle on the Zoom setting to enabled iOS’s Zoom mode. Next, double-tap with three fingers to zoom, then double-tap with three fingers and drag up or down to zoom in and out. A simple three-finger double-tap will also zoom all the way out on a zoomed-in screen.
Next, try this: back on the Zoom settings screen, tap Zoom Region, then pick the Window Zoom option. Once you do, the three-finger double-tap will call up a zoomed-in window that looks like a rectangular magnifying glass. You can drag the handle at the bottom of the magnifying lens to move it around the screen, or double-tap the handle and tap Resize Lens to make it bigger or smaller.

Make buttons more obvious

When iOS got its big makeover with the arrival of iOS 6, one of the most confusing changes was the new look for the onscreen buttons, which stripped away everything that made buttons look like buttons. Since then, buttons on the iPhone and iPad are basically just words floating on the screen. If you don’t know intuitively that a word is a button, you could be in for a confounding experience.
Make buttons look a bit more obvious Ben Patterson
The Button Shapes setting will make onscreen buttons look more like actual buttons.
Personally, I prefer to take out the guesswork and make buttons look like buttons again, and there’s an iOS setting that’ll let you do just that.

Tap Settings > General > Accessibility, then toggle on the Button Shapes setting. Once you do, buttons and other tappable elements on the screen will either be underlined or surrounded by a shaded rectangle.

Customize your Night Shift settings

If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, the bright glare of your iPhone’s screen may be to blame—hence Night Shift, the iOS 9.3 feature that shifts your display to warmer, more snooze-friendly colors.
Customize your Ben Patterson
You can set Night Shift to switch on automatically at sundown.
Chances are that if you’re using Night Shift, you’ve got it set to turn on automatically at 10 p.m. and turn back off at 7 a.m. If that default time setting isn’t working for you or your tired eyes, just adjust this setting.

Tap Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift, then tap the times under the Scheduled setting to change when Night Shift turns itself on and off. Better still, you can set Night Shift to switch on automatically at sunset in your location, then go back off at sunrise.

Also on the main Night Shift settings screen you’ll find a color temperature slider. Nudge the slider to the right to warm up the hues of Night Shift, or to the right for a cooler look.

Make the screen stay on longer

Once you stop tapping on your iPhone or iPad, its display will shut off and lock itself after a brief period of time—generally, after a minute or so. That’s a security feature, since a locked device will require your passcode to unlock, which keeps your data safer if you happen to lose your device somewhere public.
Make the screen stay on longer Ben Patterson
Is the display on your iPhone or iPad too eager too lock itself? If so, try tweaking iOS’s “Auto-Lock” setting.
But if it feels like your iOS display is locking itself a bit too quickly, there’s a way to make it stay on a little longer before switching off.

Tap Settings > Display & Brightness > Auto-Lock, then pick a setting—anything from 30 seconds to five minutes. There’s also a “never” setting, but I’d recommend against using it unless your iPhone or iPad never leaves the house.

Keep in mind that if you enable Low Power Mode when your iPhone is running low, your display will dim slightly from its default setting, and lock more quickly than the setting you’ve selected here. (You’re prompted to enable Low Power Mode once at 20 percent battery life remaining, and again at 10 percent, or you can manually switch it on at Settings > Battery.)

This story, "6 essential settings to make your iPhone and iPad display easier on the eyes" was originally published by PCWorld.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Best cell networks revealed - and it's a tie By Mark Jones,

Are you happy with your mobile provider? There are many factors that go into choosing a cellphone carrier: price and the quality of coverage to name a couple.

An important thing to look for when selecting a mobile service provider is the strength and speed of its network. One company in particular has dominated the field for years, but you might be surprised to find out that's no longer the case.
OpenSignal, a company that specializes in wireless coverage mapping, recently released its State of Mobile Networks report. Researchers compared the top four service providers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon in several categories.

Which mobile provider has the fastest network?

OpenSignal found that Verizon and T-Mobile are tied when it comes to overall speed on their 4G networks. T-Mobile took a slight lead over Verizon in 4G speeds six months ago, but Verizon improved its network since then to catch up to a virtual tie.

Overall download speed is the the average download speed users experience throughout all of a provider's networks. This factors in 3G and 4G LTE speeds, along with availability of each network technology. Companies with lower 4G LTE coverage typically have lower overall speeds because its customers spend more time connected to slower 3G networks.

Here are the overall download speed results:
  • T-Mobile - 14.70 Mbps
  • Verizon - 14.63 Mbps
  • AT&T - 11.69 Mbps
  • Sprint - 7.14 Mbps
The following are provider network speeds. This shows the average download speed for each network on a 4G LTE connection:
  • Verizon - 16.89 Mbps
  • T-Mobile - 16.65 Mbps
  • AT&T - 13.86 Mbps
  • Sprint - 8.99 Mbps
In terms of 4G availability, Verizon came out on top. Researchers were able to find a Verizon LTE signal 88.2 percent of the time compared to 86.6 percent of the time on T-Mobile. AT&T followed at 82.2 percent and Sprint came in last at 76.8 percent.

This chart shows OpenSignal's overall network comparison:
Note: If you are reading this article using the App, click here to view this image.
OpenSignal completed this study by collecting data from almost 170,000 users. Click here if you would like to see the study's full results.

As you can see by the chart above, Verizon and T-Mobile lead the way in every category. This can be helpful if you are looking to change providers. You now have more than just price to compare.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

How to Siri to Search for Objects in Photos by iPhoneLife

Pogue’s Basics: How to end a call on your iPhone by David Pogue

This is going to sound insane. But since Apple released iOS 10, a lot of people have asked how to hang up at the end of a call. It’s true: The bright red Hang Up button no longer appears on the call screen!

For a mysterious reason known only to Apple, once you press your Home button for any reason during a call—to wake the phone because it’s gone to sleep, for example, or to open a different app for reference—the red Hang Up button goes away, as shown in the video above.

So here’s the solution: To hang up, press the Sleep button (the off switch on the side or top of the iPhone). That hangs up on the call.

Alternatively, you can tap the person’s name and number at the top to make the red Hang Up button appear—and then tap it.

Now you’re no longer baffled—as much.