Archive for month: May 2018

YouTube Can Encourage You to Take a Break

YouTube Can Encourage You to Take a Break

Do you watch a lot of YouTube? If you have a lot of subscriptions or find yourself going down a rabbit hole on a regular basis, you may be spending more time on the service than you really should. YouTube will now make it possible for you to limit yourself and take breaks from streaming videos through their service.

YouTube is now introducing their feature that will encourage watchers to “take a break,” says Android Authority. The newly updated version of YouTube is adding settings that let users customize how long they watch. In the “General” section of the YouTube app’s settings, users who have updated the app will find an option called “Remind me to take a break.” Using this setting will prompt YouTube to send out reminders after a certain length of time. These reminders can be dismissed and won’t actually lock watchers out of the app. But they will let people get an idea of how long they’ve been watching and then choose to pause for a while.

With this setting, users can decide how long they can watch before being prompted to stop streaming. There are six options to choose from, including “Never” as the shortest time and “”Every 180 minutes” as the longer time. There are also more moderate options like “Every 60 minutes.” If you’re really wanting to cut back on your watching, you can even pick “Every 15 minutes,” though I don’t know many people who can really stop themselves after just 15 minutes.

There are plenty of really great videos and channels on YouTube, and of course it’s not necessary to stop watching altogether. But some people can find it hard to stop bingeing videos, which means it can be really helpful to get some reminders to stop wasting so much time. Since they’re just reminders and they don’t actually lock the app, the main concern is that YouTube binge watchers will simply get in the habit of dismissing the notification periodically. But there are other apps that can do this if necessary, and YouTube’s approach will be a much gentler one for those who just need a little bit of a push.

The update is being rolled out now, according to Android Authority. Look for this new feature in your app’s settings after you’ve updated.

Find Comic Books Online

Find Comic Books Online

There’s been even more hype in recent months with all the superhero films and TV shows that have come out recently. Marvel in particular has had some huge movies come out, bringing even more interest in their character. With the release of the newest Avengers film, Infinity War, many have wondered about the original storyline from the comics that the film was based on. Even if you’re not a fan of Marvel or DC, there are tons of other comics out there, too.

If you’re wanting to catch up on some older comics or start keeping up with new ones, there are some easy ways to do so online. Most of these options cost money, while others can be free (or at least offer a free trial). Happy reading!

Marvel Unlimited

This service from Marvel lets you read digital versions of their tens of thousands of comics. You can read as many comics as you’d like while you’re subscribed. You can read on their website or on their Marvel Unlimited app. You can also get some special features if you get an annual subscription or the annual plus subscription (like discounts on purchases and cool free items). With the app, you can download comics to read offline, so you don’t have to worry about having a consistent internet connection. The monthly service is $9.99 a month, while the annual subscriptions are $69 and $99.

Dark Horse Digital

This service lets you read digital versions of Dark Horse comics (like Hellboy and The Legend of Korra). They do have some free comics available to read, including comics from Free Comic Book Day. Other comics are available for individual purchase and can range in cost (many are only $1.99).

Comixology

Comixology offers digital comics and is a part of Amazon. The app has a lot of great features, including their “guided view” that lets you tap on the screen to move from panel to panel. You can buy individual comics, buy a whole series, and even subscribe to a series. There are tens of thousands of comics available, including popular titles like Justice League, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Star Wars, and Old Man Logan. There are even some free comics available to browse.

Digital Comic Museum

If you’re interested in old comics, you’ll like the Digital Comic Museum. This website compiles old comics that are now in the public domain. They’re all free to read, and though you won’t find some of the more popular and modern titles, you can find some fun reads. You can find some old Daredevil comics, as well as Sherlock Holmes and Billy the Kid.

DC Digital Comics

Of course, you can also find DC comics in digital form. The DC Digital Comics website and app lets you purchase individual comics. Many range from $1.99 to $3.99. There are even some free comics available, some of which are from Free Comic Book Day. You can find pretty much all the DC titles you’d expect here!

Your local library

Looking for free comics? If you have a library account, you can probably read some digital comics for free. Many libraries now use services like Hoopla and OverDrive. And yes, there are some comics available to borrow. You can find a wide variety of Marvel and DC titles, as well as many others. So if you’re looking for an easy, free way to casually catch up on comics, check out your local library’s website to see if they use these digital services.

Microsoft Replacing Some Surface Pro 4s

Microsoft Replacing Some Surface Pro 4s

Microsoft has now announced their plan to take care of screen flicker issues with the Surface Pro 4. According to a recent article on Microsoft’s Support site, they will be replacing many of their Surface Pro 4s that have the screen flicker issue.

According to their post, Microsoft has noted that a “small percentage” of their Surface Pro 4s have a problem with the screen flickering. Customers have been posting about the issue in Microsoft’s Support section for months. Back in February, The Verge wrote about how some customers were putting their devices in the freezer so they might stop the screen flickering problem (an issue that was referred to by some as “Flickergate”). In The Verge’s article, they noted that at that time, flickering issues had been going on for at least a year, and hundreds of people had been dealing with the issue.

Now Microsoft is doing something about it. Surface Pro 4 owners who go through the replacement process within three years of buying the device can now get a full replacement for free. They do note that the device must be fully updated (to make sure the screen flickering actually does still occur) and that if the device has been damaged through other means (like having someone else try to work on the device) it won’t be eligible.

But if a customer has the screen flicker issue on their Surface Pro 4, they can contact Microsoft, get verification that they’re eligible, send the device back, and get a refurbished device within around a week after Microsoft has received the damaged one.

They also note that if a customer has “already paid an out-of-warranty fee” to take care of this specific issue, the customer can get a refund for the repair. This means people who didn’t wait around for this replacement program won’t be out a lot of extra money that other people didn’t have to pay.

If you have a Surface Pro 4 that’s been plagued with the screen flickering problem, take a look at Microsoft’s article and start taking the first steps toward replacement.

Another Snapchat Redesign is Coming

Another Snapchat Redesign is Coming

If you use Snapchat but have been frustrated with it recently, there’s some good news. Snapchat is getting a redesign…again.

You may remember how Snapchat released their new redesign in some areas back in January. When it was first released, it was only in some countries, like the UK, and the change immediately caused an uproar. Users began pleading with Snapchat to let them revert back to the old system. And once it rolled out in the US, even more people began venting their frustration, which lead to Snapchat making it clear the redesign was here to stay.

The main problem stemmed from the way Stories were suddenly mixed in with messages. It made the design cluttered and unnecessarily difficult to navigate for many users. People wanted their Stories and messages to be laid out in a more organized way (they were separate from each other before the redesign).

Now, according to The Verge, some users are getting a new version rolled out to them that should address some of the concerns. The new update is currently rolling out to many iOS users, The Verge reports. In the new update, Stories and messages will go back to chronological order, and the Stories will be on the right side of the app once again.

This should hopefully eliminate some of the complaints that have been pouring in for months. Of course, Snapchat has already had to deal with months of mockery and frustration. Social media has been filled with memes and jokes at Snapchat’s expense after their poorly-received redesign, and users were likely not happy with Snapchat’s response saying that they would be keeping the new version despite the users’ anger.

The Verge notes that the newest update is currently coming for many people on iOS, but it’s not currently clear when Android users can expect the change.

Instagram Adds New Polling Feature with Emoji

Instagram Adds New Polling Feature with Emoji

Instagram is adding another fun feature that can connect friends and start conversations. They already had a polling feature, but they are now adding a new type of polling that works differently and uses emoji.

Emoji Slider is the new feature coming to Instagram, says Mashable. There was already a polling sticker on Instagram. However, that sticker simply let users type a question and let people respond with “yes” or “no.” This new Emoji Slider polling sticker works differently and allows for different responses.

According to Mashable, the Emoji Slider is also a sticker added to Stories. However, it gives a range of response options. When you add the sticker, you can add your own question. But instead of a yes or no question, the questions will typically start with “how,” like “How much did you love Infinity War?” or “How much do you like the new gelato place downtown?” After this, you pick which emoji you want to use on the slider. There are a lot of emoji to choose from, not just a handful of basic ones. Others will then be able to move an emoji along a slider to give their response. After responding, like with the other polling sticker, they can see how the responses are currently totaling up.

This makes polling on Instagram much more intuitive and fun. Only being able to answer “yes” or “no” was very constraining and didn’t allow for any nuance or gray area. Plus it will be fun to be able to ask questions in a different way and make the visuals more enjoyable.

Mashable notes that the Emoji Slider is available with Instagram’s version 44 update. And unlike many updates that roll out slowly to either iOS or Android users, it’s currently available to most people. To see if you have the feature, update Instagram now. If you have it, simply create a new Story, tap the Stickers button, and add the Emoji Slider from there.

10 Apps & Sites For Easily Earning Rewards

10 Apps & Sites For Easily Earning Rewards

The internet has made it easier to make money selling your stuff, but you may not know all the other ways you can earn rewards (including money) without selling a thing.

Not long ago, I wrote an article all about how to sell your items online. Now it’s time to talk about the many different ways you can earn money, gift cards, and items through different apps and websites.

There are a lot of different apps and sites that ask you to take certain actions to earn points or build up a cash total. In this article, let’s take a look at some of the most well-known, established, and tested ways you can earn rewards with just a little effort.

What can you earn?

Depending on the app or site that you use, there are many different things you can earn. Some services let you use your accumulated points to choose from certain branded items. Others might have you use your points to get discounts and promo codes. Many let you choose gift cards and, in some cases, actual money.

What do you have to do?

Different apps and sites ask for different actions. With some rewards services, you’re asked to watch or interact with sponsored content or surveys. You might need to exercise to earn your points, or you could get your rewards by getting rebates on purchases you were already going to make anyway.

What should you watch out for?

The idea of earning rewards for things you either already do or things that are relatively simple is very appealing. Because of this, there are some services that may very well be scams, as well as ones that just don’t work as well as they claim they will.

Before you start using a rewards app or site—including the ones listed in this article—look a little closer at it to make sure it’s actually as good as it appears. Consider doing some of the following things:

  • Make sure to read the reviews on an app’s page so you get an idea of how satisfied other users are
  • Check to see how many downloads an app has (too few might mean it hasn’t been well-tested yet)
  • Do a web search with a phrase like “is [this app] legit” or “is [this app] a scam” and look for credible sites discussing the service
  • Read the app’s or site’s fine print to make sure there are no catches
  • Look at the service’s app or site to make sure it looks professional and well-maintained

Remember: never give your personal information (like your bank information) to a service without researching it first to make sure it’s safe and secure!

At the time of writing this article, all of these apps and sites appear to be legitimate, but some formerly popular apps (like the now-deleted Pact app) have later been found to be untrustworthy. It’s important to check for the most recent reviews and news.

10 apps & sites you can download and visit now

Now that we’ve discussed how some rewards services might work, what you can get from them, and how to look out for scams, let’s look at some apps and sites you can try! These are just ten rewards apps and sites that can earn you money, items, and other rewards.

Achievement

Achievement is an app that rewards you with money for doing things that manage or improve your health. It uses monetary rewards to encourage you to keep track of your eating habits, walk more, get more sleep, and other various health-related activities. You simply connect one of the health apps you already use (like Samsung Health, Fitbit, or Garmin), then build up your points for your activity. 10,000 points can be redeemed for $10, and you can earn as much money as you want, with no maximum. Once you can redeem your points for money, they’ll be sent to you using PayPal or a direct deposit to a bank account.

AppTrailers

This app rewards you with points for watching trailers. The trailers are for other apps, as well as other entertainment videos. You can also earn points by doing quizzes and playing trivia games. Once you have enough points built up, you can redeem them for gift cards or money sent through PayPal. They offer gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, and iTunes.

Charity Miles

This app is different from most of the other apps on the list. If you enjoy helping good causes, you can use this app to earn rewards in the form of donations to the charity of your choice. If you already donate to the cause, you can give even more using this app, or you can use it as the sole means of donating. With Charity Miles, you earn money for a charity by running, walking, or biking. After opening the app and starting to track your distance, with each mile you complete, you add more money for your charity. There are many different charities to choose from, including well-known ones like Habitat for Humanity, American Diabetes Association, ASPCA, and World Wildlife Fund.

Ebates

Ebates is a well-known rebate service that pays you back for some of the purchases you make. If you’re already planning on purchasing something, this is a way to get some money back. When you buy from different stores online through Ebates, you can earn money. You can search through Ebates for certain stores, certain items, and more. There are also some rebate offers that are in-store only. Once you find something you want, you can see how much of a rebate you’ll get. After your order is verified, you can get your money through a check or by PayPal payment.

Google Opinion Rewards

This app from Google offers small amount of money for taking surveys. As soon as there’s an available survey, you’ll be notified. There are all kinds of different surveys you might take. You can earn as much as a dollar for a survey, though most of them seem to be closer to ten cents each. If you use the app with Google Play, your money is given to you as Google Play credit, while iOS app users have their money transferred with PayPal.

Ibotta

Ibotta is a rebate app that can be used to earn real money or gift cards. If you shop at any of the stores they have listed, you may be able to accumulate a high enough balance to get real rebates. You can use the app to get rebates on items you’re already buying, or you can use it as a way to find out about more products you want to try. You can find available grocery stores that you can add to your favorites, then look through the categories to find items you’re interested in. To add some products to your list, you might have to watch a short ad or answer a poll. After you’ve bought some items currently available in the Ibotta app, you use your receipt to add your rebates to your account. Once you have $20 racked up, you can have the money transferred to you in several different ways, including PayPal and Venmo. Or you can get gift cards to places like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Walmart.

iPoll

iPoll offers rewards for performing activities like reviewing products, visiting certain stores, and more. All of their activities are typically based around learning your opinions on certain brands and products. Some of these activities could include recording a video or taking photos. Once you’ve performed an activity, you can earn rewards like money transferred through PayPal, gift cards, and entry into a cash drawing.

Swagbucks

Swagbucks rewards its users for doing a number of different things. Swagbucks users earn rewards for taking surveys, watching videos, searching online, playing games, and buying certain items for a rebate. Once you have enough points, you can either have the money transferred via PayPal, or you can get a gift card. Gift cards are available for many different outlets, including Walmart, Amazon, and Bath & Body Works.

Sweatcoin

This app hopes to encourage people to exercise more by offering rewards. The app acts as a step counter. The more you walk, the more “Sweatcoins” you earn. You can then use these Sweatcoins to purchase rewards. Rewards include actual products (like Apple products), as well as services (like exercise classes) and events. You can even choose to donate your Sweatcoins to a charity.

Walk for a Dog

Walk for a Dog by Wooftrax is another app that gives a different kind of reward: the knowledge that you’ve helped an animal-based organization. This app doesn’t specifically give you a reward, instead letting you donate money to your favorite organization that helps animals. Whenever you walk your dog, you simply use the app to track how much you walk. This builds up activity for the organization you’ve chosen. After a certain period, all the funds raised are given to the organizations people chose. If you don’t have a dog, you can walk a shelter dog or a friend’s dog. Or since the app simply follows you as you move, you can walk without a dog (though walking with a dog is much more fun).

Hulu & Spotify Reveal How Many People Pay to Subscribe

Hulu & Spotify Reveal How Many People Pay to Subscribe

Hulu and Spotify, streaming services that have begun offering bundles of their two services, have both revealed how many subscribers they have.

Hulu, the popular video streaming service, announced on Wednesday that they had more than 20 million subscribers, according to CNN Money. These numbers aren’t as high as Netflix’s, as CNN Money notes that Netflix has about 55 million subscribers in the United States. But the numbers still suggest Hulu is a decent competitor when it comes to the video streaming game.

They could also potentially gain more subscribers, as well, as some announced changes certainly seem enticing. Hulu, like Netflix, already has some of their own original programming (like the popular Handmaid’s Tale). Until now, though, Netflix offered something Hulu didn’t: offline watching. Hulu now plans to make content available to download and watch offline, says CNN Money. The content would still play with ads, but an internet connection wouldn’t be necessary.

Spotify announced their own numbers on Thursday. Spotify is a popular music streaming service that offers paid and free accounts. According to TechSpot, Spotify now has 75 million paid subscribers to their service, and the number of people who use the service every month is also huge: 170 million. And as TechSpot also mentions, Spotify’s 75 million paid subscribers is far above Apple Music’s 40 million. This only further cements Spotify as the major competitor in the music streaming arena.

Hulu and Spotify both offer their own separate subscriptions, but over the past months they’ve begun offering bundles, as well. Last year they began offering a student plan that bundled the two services for only $4.99 a month. And just last month, a bundle was announced for everyone else that would offer both services for just $12.99, which is higher than the student price but still a significantly less expensive option.

Alexa Skills Can Now Make Money

Alexa Skills Can Now Make Money

Developers of Alexa skills now have a way to make money off their offerings.

Alexa skills can now include money-making features, according to The Verge. If you use Alexa skills, you have probably noticed they’re all free. This is a refreshing change of pace from other services, like app stores on phones that can offer apps for large amounts of money. With Alexa’s available skills, you never have to worry about whether a skill you’ve found is going to end up costing you.

But now the developers of these skills do have some small ways to make money. The Verge notes that now skills can offer one in-skill purchase. This means they can have extra content or special features available for a cost. This can be a one-time fee or a subscription that continues. Compared to many apps, having one in-skill purchase is still a nice change of pace, since so many apps lock feature after feature behind a pay wall.

Developers can also now allow users of their skills to buy items. With Alexa, users could already use their voices to buy products from Amazon. But now they’ll be able to ask to buy things within other skills. This new feature will make use of Amazon Pay, letting developers offer a way to order through the skill. The Verge mentions that TGI Fridays and 1-800-Flowers are already making use of this new feature. With these skills, you can now directly place orders for the companies’ products.

While the skills themselves are still free (and there seem to be no plans to change this in the near future), adding a way for developers to make money through in-skill purchases and the use of Amazon Pay could end up being a big change. It could make Alexa skills seem more appealing to other developers who have yet to bring their ideas to the Alexa skill format. It may also make ordering items from companies other than Amazon much easier. Keep watch on Alexa’s skills to see which ones begin making use of these new capabilities.

Some Autoplay Videos Now Blocked in Chrome

Some Autoplay Videos Now Blocked in Chrome

Chrome has been making changes to how ads are displayed in the browser for some time now. In the most recent update of Google’s browser, some autoplay videos will now be blocked, while others will be allowed automatically.

In a blog post, Google outlines how the new autoplay video update works. Now Chrome will learn your preferences when it comes to videos that autoplay with sound. Using your browsing history, Chrome will start enabling or disabling autoplay videos with sound. If you typically choose to play videos on certain websites, Chrome will allow autoplay videos to run with sound. If you typically don’t watch the videos on a site, Chrome will start disabling their autoplay videos with sound.

Even if you don’t have a browsing history, the blog post says, certain sites will have their autoplay videos enabled or disabled as you start building your history. Whichever sites have the most people clicking to play videos with sound will automatically be enabled for you until the browser learns that you don’t want videos played on those sites.

This update comes after Google has already implemented many other ways to avoid certain ads and mute sites that autoplay ads with sound. In February, Chrome’s ad blocking system went live. Their ad blocking is meant to start automatically blocking certain ads that don’t meet their standards. And in January, Chrome introduced a way to permanently mute sites instead of just temporarily muting them while the tab was open.

All of these changes mean Chrome should soon become the browser to use if you specifically want to avoid annoying ads and autoplay videos (especially if you don’t want to deal with browser add-ons). In their blog post, Google notes that their new autoplay video blocking system will block “about half” of the autoplay videos that users want to avoid. Though not a full block of autoplay videos, it should cut down significantly on the annoyance of sound suddenly blasting from your device.