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.
Windows 10 users may have just gotten the Spring update, but Microsoft is already talking about some of their upcoming plans. Microsoft has now announced they want to make taking screenshots easier and more intuitive.
In the past, users could open the Snipping tool and screenshot certain areas of their screen, then make some slight modifications before saving the image.
In a blog post, Microsoft outlined their plans for taking screenshots. In the future, Windows 10 users will be able to use a keyboard shortcut to open up a “snipping toolbar.” This snipping toolbar will let you screenshot whatever area of the screen you choose. The screenshot will then be saved to your clipboard so you can do whatever you’d like with it. The shortcut is WIN + Shift + S, but you’ll also have other options, including changing your settings to make the Print Screen button open the snipping toolbar.
The new snipping options will also integrate better with Screen Sketch. According to their blog post, Screen Sketch is now becoming its own separate app. With Screen Sketch, you can annotate your screen using a customizable pen, eraser, ruler, and more, then save your annotated image and share it. With the new snipping setup, you’ll be given the option to go straight to Screen Sketch to make your annotations.
These changes are just a few Microsoft is introducing in their Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 17661. The preview build is only available to select people, including certain Windows Insiders. It’s unclear when the updates will come for everyone and what the changes will actually look like by then. But it is promising that Microsoft is specifically focusing on making their screenshot capabilities easier to use.
If you use Windows 10, you can now find iTunes in the Microsoft Store.
According to Ars Technica, iTunes is now available to Windows 10 users in the Microsoft Store. Ars Technica notes that bringing iTunes to the Microsoft Store was actually supposed to happen by the end of 2017, making its addition now a bit late. But it seems to be a welcome addition.
The program still works the same way as iTunes does if you download it straight from Apple, says Ars Technica, but they also note downloading from the Microsoft Store has some advantages. In particular, you won’t get prompts asking you to download other Apple products, plus it won’t install things that run in the background (which can seriously bog down a computer).
iTunes was previously available for Windows and MacOS. This means it was likely already accessible to many people who can find it in the Microsoft Store now. But there were also some people who now have access who didn’t before: those using Windows 10 S devices. Windows 10 S devices can only install programs from the Microsoft Store, so these users can now download iTunes. This is useful since iTunes is still a hugely popular service. It’s not just a music service, either; you can download music, movies, shows, podcasts, and more.
The Microsoft Store previously already offered other popular music programs. You could already find the streaming services Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, SiriusXM, TuneIn, and more. So if you’re simply interested in streaming and you have an account with any of these services, the addition of iTunes may not excite you much.
But if you specifically enjoy iTunes and like having a way to organize your media and access more than just music, this new platform may be good news for you. You can find iTunes in the Microsoft Store right now.
Gmail users on desktops and mobile devices are going to spot some major changes to the popular email service.
Gmail has now been updated to include some interesting (and welcome) new features. NBC News reports that there are a number of changes in the update. Though it doesn’t look all that different, there are some great new features.
Disappearing messages are one notable new feature. Gmail users can set their messages to disappear in whatever time frame they choose. And they can also decide to essentially “un-send” an email after already sending it to someone else (even if the other person isn’t using Gmail).
NBC News also reports that there’s a new “nudge” feature that reminds you about emails. Gmail will learn to recognize which emails are most pressing, then make them show at the top of your inbox to suggest you respond.
There are also other little additions, like the ability to get a reminder to reply to an email (using the new “snooze” feature) and “smart replies” that suggest what you might want to respond to a message with.
You can get this updated version of Gmail by clicking the settings button above and to the right of your inbox, then choosing “Try the new Gmail.” Once you click to switch over, you get the opportunity to choose a layout (including one that will look almost exactly the same as the one you’re used to). You might notice bigger, clearer fonts and more rounded buttons instead of quite a few links. You’ll also spot the sidebar on the right side that has a calendar, note keeper, list of tasks, and a plus sign that once clicked on lets you choose other tools to keep handy on your screen.
You’ll also soon spot one specific new feature from this update if you use Gmail on an Android device. Android Police reports that the new snooze feature is also rolling out Android users. Like the desktop version, you can snooze emails and get reminders to check back in on them later.
Look for the option to try the new Gmail on desktop now, and look out for the snooze feature on Android as it continues to roll out.
If you’re a Prime subscriber, take note: your yearly cost will soon go up.
Amazon’s new price jump for their Prime service isn’t particularly small, either: an annual subscription is soon going to be $119 instead of the current $99, says Variety. That’s $20 more than before, which is about a 20% increase.
Amazon Prime has a large number of subscribers. Digital Trends reported earlier this month that Amazon had revealed how many people subscribed to the service. At the time, it was reported that there were over a hundred million subscribers across the world.
Prime likely draws in so many people because it has features that appeal to many different interests. With Prime, you can get free two-day shipping on all Prime-eligible offers. You can also watch a great deal of TV shows and movies for free. This includes some Prime-exclusive shows, like their popular shows Sneaky Pete and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. You can also stream music and rent e-books. Plus you have access to things like Prime Pantry (where you can have household items and groceries sent to you), Amazon Fresh (grocery delivery in select areas), and photo storage in the cloud.
It’s unclear if Prime’s price hike will cause some subscribers to skip renewing in the future. It is a significant price increase, but Prime membership can also become embedded in peoples’ lives because of how many different things are offered.
If you’re considering subscribing for the first time, you have until May 11 to sign up at the current $99 fee, says Variety. They also explain that for current subscribers, rates won’t increase until June 16. So if you’re trying to decide whether to renew your membership or create a new one, you still have a little bit of time to decide before the price jumps.
Alexa has gotten an interesting new addition, and in the near future the smart assistant may also be able to continue a discussion without using a wake word.
To correspond with what’s known as ‘Alien Day,’ Alexa has a new skill called Offworld Colony Simulator. According to Fortune, you can use the skill on all devices that have Alexa. The skill is a game that’s similar to roleplaying games and that uses voice prompts and responses to challenge you to get away from a Xenomorph. There have been other voice-based RPGs available on Alexa (like The Magic Door). This one, though, is for sci-fi and Alien lovers.
There’s also news that Alexa may soon gain some more useful abilities. TechCrunch reports that Alexa users will be able to talk with Alexa more naturally and have Alexa remember certain things they choose.
Currently, when you want to use Alexa, you have to use a wake word (like “Alexa” or “Echo”). But in the future, Alexa will not always need you to use the wake word when you’re asking follow-up questions. So if you ask a question and then need more information, you won’t have to wake Alexa up all over again and form a complete new question. This will make conversations with Alexa flow more smoothly and be a little easier to manage.
As TechCrunch notes, you’ll also be able to ask Alexa to remember things. You can ask her to remember peoples’ birthdays or other important pieces of information. Then you’ll be able to ask her about that information in the future and retrieve it easily.
All of this is meant to give Alexa a more expansive and useful memory. It will make her more personal to each user’s account and it will make conversations with her feel a step closer to a conversation with a human (though, of course, we’re not fully there yet).
Offworld Colony Simulator is available to play now, while Alexa’s new memory updates are coming soon (TechCrunch says there’s not yet a launch date).
In recent weeks, some people have begun to question how much they use Facebook. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many have felt a little uneasy about how much information Facebook obtains.
It’s important to note, though, that many (probably most) other social media platforms are gathering a fair amount of your data. They may handle it differently, but there is likely quite a bit of your information stored when you use any social media platforms at all.
Still, you might be wondering if there are other ways to enjoy using social media without actually using Facebook. Facebook is one of the most popular, active, and widely used social media sites out there, and it might seem like your only option. But there are other platforms that you might like just as much (or more).
If you’re thinking about leaving Facebook, or if you enjoy Facebook but want even more ways to stay connected, here are just some of the other social media platforms you can give a try!
Instagram is, of course, a hugely popular app that focuses on images. You can use it to keep up with your friends’ lives through photos and videos. It also has built-in messaging, so you can share things directly with other people and discuss them privately. You won’t necessarily be getting the same insight into your friends’ thoughts, and it currently doesn’t let you share other peoples’ content, but it’s still a good way to keep in contact with your favorite people.
Pinterest is still typically for inspiration and DIY ideas. But you and your friends can share content together and keep in touch through your different boards. This platform is certainly less focused on updates about peoples’ daily lives, so don’t rely on it for that. But you can at least see what your friends are interested in.
Reddit isn’t really a social media platform. But you can follow friends on the service, and if you actually are looking to drop Facebook, Reddit can help replace your need for a stream of interesting content and news shared by groups and people you subscribe to.
Snapchat is another photo- and image-based way to keep connected to friends and family. It’s likely that most of the people you’re close with already use Snapchat. You can follow them through their Stories, have private chats with them, communicate through short video clips, and more. You can’t easily share other peoples’ content or write medium to long text images, but you can still communicate pretty well with this app.
Tumblr lets you set up your own blog and then create your own posts or share posts from others. You can add others and gain subscribers. Tumblr is often seen as being primarily used by a younger crowd, but there’s certainly a space for everyone. It’s also pretty hugely driven by fandoms (many people on Tumblr use their accounts to post primarily about shows, movies, and other things they’re fans of). It’s not quite as focused on simply keeping up with a friend’s daily life. But if you want to keep up with your friends’ interests and make new friends based on things you both enjoy, Tumblr might be for you.
Twitter is a nice way to keep up with others using smaller text snippets. Though it’s grown most popular for its use in getting news out quickly, you can also form your circle of friends and keep up with each other via tweets. You can retweet, which adds another level of personality to someone’s feed, and now that tweets can be longer than before, it’s easier to write more detailed, lengthy updates.
For some people, there’s so much to do in a day that it’s hard to keep up with everything. By the end of the day, you might not be sure what you even did over the past 12 hours. Or you might not be incredibly busy, but you just don’t remember to stop and think about specific aspects of your life.
If this is the case for you, you might benefit from an app like the ones in this article. There’s an app for nearly everything, and of course there are apps that can track most areas of your daily life.
Why track your day?
You might have realized you want to keep up with what you’re eating, or maybe it dawned on you that you’re not sure when you last spent time with your friends without looking at your phone. Maybe you’ve been forgetting to budget for travel expenses or grocery costs. Whatever it may be, there’s a way to track it.
Tracking certain parts of your day can make it much easier to evaluate what you’ve been doing. It can make it possible to understand certain issues in your life, and it can show you things you’ve been doing well (and things you didn’t know you needed to improve on). If you don’t know what to fix, then you won’t know how to fix it. By tracking how much you exercise, how much time you spend on your tablet, or how big your environmental footprint is, then you’ll have a starting point for change.
What can you track?
Here are just some ways you can track your personal life. There are apps listed for each area. Of course, these are just some of the apps you might want to try. The app store on your phone will likely have even more to choose from. So if one of these doesn’t appeal to you, take a look around to see if there are other options that fit you better.
Track your food
There are many different apps you can use to track your food throughout the day. Most of them will let you set goals (like how many calories you can have, how much sugar you can consume, etc.) You can often set a weight goal, as well, and get food intake suggestions. Here are a few apps to try:
- Your device’s built-in app: Depending on which phone you have, you might already have a food tracker on your device. For instance, there’s Samsung Health, which offers quite a few health tracking features.
- MyFitnessPal (Android & iOS): MyFitnessPal is an app from Under Armour. It lets you track your food intake, find out nutritional facts, add your own recipes, find food from restaurants, scan barcodes to look up products, and more.
- Lose It! (Android & iOS): Lose It! is specifically designed for weight loss, but you can of course just use it to track what you eat. You can use it to set and meet goals. It lets you input and track your eating every day, take part in challenges, plan meals, and more.
Track your exercise
If you’re not sure you’re exercising enough, you can always try keeping track of your fitness regimen. You can log how long you’re exercising, what kinds of exercises you’re doing, and more. Most apps will give you an idea of how many calories you may have burned during the day, as well. Here are a couple apps to check out:
- Your device’s built-in app: Like above, some phones have a built-in health app that offers useful features. Using Samsung Health as an example again, you can choose from different exercises (like push ups and jumping jacks), then log how long you did them.
- JEFIT (Android & iOS): With JEFIT, you can track your training and your progress, as well as set and meet goals. Along with all the instructional features and its social aspect, you can log your workouts in the app.
- HeavySet (iOS): With this app, you can track your weightlifting and other equally intense workouts. It’s specifically designed for logging exercise. It also tells you when you set personal bests and lets you look back on past time periods to see trends.
Track your gas costs
If you commute to work, like to go on road trips, or are just worried about the current cost of gas, then you can try tracking your transportation costs. Gas prices have been soaring, and it could be a good time to figure out just how much you’re spending. You may make decent money at your job, but if you commute to work, your gas costs might make a huge dent. Or you might have gone on a trip but then forgotten to calculate how much you spent fueling up. Here are a couple apps that can help you keep a log of how much you’re spending at the gas pumps.
- Fuelio (Android): With this app, you can track basically everything related to your auto costs. You can track how much you’ve spent filling up your tank, how many miles you’ve put on your car, how much you’ve spent servicing your car, and more.
- Fuel (iOS): Fuel, like Fuelio, lets you log how much you spend at the gas pumps. It also lets you input other car expenses, include more than one car, and look at clear charts showing your spending.
Track daily costs
If you find yourself running low on money before each paycheck, it might be useful to start figuring out where most of your money is going. Using an app, you can track how much you’re spending on your shopping trips, then look for any trends, places you can cut back, or things you can actually spend more on. These are just a couple of your options:
- Wally Lite (iOS): With this app, you can scan receipts, manually input spending, set a budget, and track where you’ve been spending your money.
- Mint: Mint is a popular multi-purpose finance service. It can help you track your bills, set a budget, and get a visual of your spending, along with many other features.
Track environmental impact
There are many things we do every day that can be wasteful or otherwise bad for the environment. With an app, we can remind ourselves to make environmentally-conscious decisions. We can also see a visual representation of the environmentally sound things we did that day, as well as learn about other little things we could be doing better. Here are a couple apps that can help:
- JouleBug (Android & iOS): With JouleBug, you’re inspired to take note of what you do every day to try to be a little more green. The app offers suggestions on how to be more environmentally friendly, then gives you points and achievements when you actually do Earth-friendly things. Your points are a great indication of how environmentally sound you’re being each week.
- Oroeco (Android & iOS): Oroeco is an app that encourages you to be environmentally friendly and then rewards you when you make an effort to do so. You can earn rewards when you do green things, and you’re given suggestions for ways to be kinder to the environment.
Track your mood
Keeping up with how you feel throughout a day can be difficult. You might not even know when you’re in a bad mood or if you’re experiencing mood swings. Keeping an eye on your mood can give you an indication of what the underlying causes might be (whether it’s something as basic as stress or something more serious). The following apps can help you track your mood throughout each day:
- Realife Change (iOS): This app is a motivational app that offers a “virtual coach.” You can track your moods and various different emotions and thoughts throughout your day, then receive advice based on what you logged. You can also track your moods using hashtags.
- iMoodJournal (Android & iOS): iMoodJournal lets you log your moods throughout the day (including hashtags), then look back at charts showing your trends. You can even include extras (like photos), and you can track other things, like energy level and stress.
Track screen time
If you’re like most people with access to tech, you probably spend a lot of your day looking at a screen. Phones, computers, tablets, TVs—there are screens everywhere. Some screen time is unavoidable, and realistically, it would be difficult to cut it out completely. But it is possible to learn how much time you’re really spending on it and then set goals to cut back. These are just two of the apps that you can try:
- Moment (iOS): Moment is an app for iOS users who want to know how much time they’re spending on their iOS devices. It tracks screen time automatically. You can then see how much you’ve used all your devices (and you can include your family’s devices, too) and set daily limits.
- AntiSocial (Android): This app runs in the background of your device and then provides reports on how much screen time you’ve used. You can use it to set limits and block access to certain apps, as well.
Have plans to travel? If you’re like a lot of other people, you might be headed on vacation this summer. Or you could have business trips planned. Whatever the case may be, traveling can be fun. But it can also have its own stresses and issues. Whether you’re driving a car or heading to an airport, it can sometimes seem tricky making it to a destination.
Thankfully, there’s some great technology available to make trips a little easier. You might need something to keep kids distracted during family trips, something to help you find your destination more smoothly, or something to give you peace of mind while your home is empty. All of these worries and more can be taken care of with some devices you’ve already heard of (and perhaps some you haven’t).
Tech For Traveling
Don’t lose your stuff
Want to keep track of your luggage or other important items? Tile is one way to do that. Luggage can sometimes get lost. And while you’re away from home, being in unfamiliar places can make it easier to lose things like your keys or your wallet.
With Tile, you can easily track important items, whether it be a suitcase or your rental car keys. All you have to do is attach Tile to whatever you want to keep track of, then use Tile’s app if you need to locate the item. There’s the Tile Slim, which is a thin version of the device that isn’t too bulky in a wallet. There’s the Tile Mate, which has a small hole in the corner so you can attach it to anything, like purses, backpacks, keys, and more. These two are most likely to be helpful during your travels. There’s even an accessory for the Tile Slim that is specifically made for traveling: the Tile Slim Luggage Tag.
There’s also the Tile Sport, which could come in handy if you’re going on a trip that might get a little rough (like if you’re camping, hiking, biking, or doing things outdoors). And there’s the Tile Style, which adds some extra flair to the device for a more fun appearance.
Prices vary for each Tile device, and there are also combo packs. You can buy 4-packs or 8-packs to pay a little less for each device, or you can mix it up and buy the different devices separately.
Keep your passengers entertained
If you’re traveling with impatient kids or adults who aren’t fans of road trips, keeping them distracted can be a great way to eliminate some stress. The answer is simple: bring a tablet. Using phones can be a drain on the battery and run the risk of not having enough battery life if your car breaks down. And using a tablet can seem like a special treat if your kids don’t already use them regularly (if they do, I’m sure you already know how entertaining they can be).
Even if you don’t already have one, buying one for your trip doesn’t have to be expensive. There are pricey options out there, but it can be as easy as buying a Kindle Fire for just $49.99 (and sometimes for less during a promotion). You can easily set up a kid-friendly account and choose which apps they can use. This should make it easier to pass the time.
A tablet can also be a useful way to save space. If you like to read during your relaxing vacations, you don’t have to pack any bulky books—you can just read them on your tablet.
Find your destination with no problem
We all know about apps like Google Maps and Waze. You likely use Google Maps to find your way on a regular basis. But for some, this isn’t the most convenient way to travel. If you’re traveling alone, or if you are particularly uncomfortable driving on busy interstates, through tricky areas, or at night, having a GPS system in your car might work a lot better than having to look at your phone while on the road.
Navdy is one way you can integrate navigation into your vehicle. Information is projected onto your windshield with a transparent display, so you don’t have to look down at a phone. It also dims or brightens appropriately. It uses Google Maps, so that will be familiar to you, and you can also set up a dashboard that shows things like how much gas you have left.
If you can’t quite afford a system like that at the moment, you can also consider Garmin. Garmin offers many different GPS systems, some for less than a hundred dollars. Their website lists their many different products, and you can also find them on Amazon.
Track down your car
You might be worried you’ll forget where you parked at the airport. Or you might be parking on unfamiliar streets in a city away from home. You can take a picture of your surroundings, but that isn’t always enough to find your way back where you started.
Fortunately, there are many apps that you can use to track down your car when you’re ready to leave. The simplest solution? Drop a pin on Google Maps and save your location. By placing a pin at your current location before leaving your car and then saving it to your places, you can easily make your way back.
There are other options if you don’t use Google Maps or want a more streamlined way to get back to your vehicle. Find My Car is a well-known app that saves the GPS location of your car and navigates you back to it later. You can find it on iOS and on Android. There’s also ParkMe, which can not only help you find your car, it can also help you figure out where to park in the first place.
Keep your home safe while you’re gone
If you’ll be away from home for a while and there won’t be anyone staying behind to house sit, there are ways to make yourself feel less worried about your empty home. With smart devices, you can keep watch on your home and make it look as though it’s not actually empty.
Smart security systems are also great for peace of mind. There are a lot of options out there, so of course, research carefully before investing in a system. With these systems, you can typically set motion alerts so you get a notification if the camera catches movement. You can also usually check in on a live feed. Nest offers some popular devices, as well as Frontpoint and Canary. Just make sure you know what the initial installation cost is as well as how much it will cost every month.
If you’re building your collection of cool devices, or if you have some specific tech you’re looking to purchase, it’s important to get the best prices. Different sites are often running their own promotions, and sometimes major manufacturers themselves will offer limited time deals.
Keeping up with all of these sales might seem tricky, but there are actually a number of sites you can use to keep track of current tech deals. Here are just a few you can bookmark and head back to every day!
The Tom’s Guide website features many different pages with how tos and product suggestions. Their Best Tech Deals page (currently titled “Best Tech Deals of 2018”) is updated every day with a collection of great deals. They mention some of the overall best deals, then show deals based on different categories, like laptops and smart watches. Since it’s updated so regularly, you can be sure you’re not wasting your time looking over deals that have already expired.
PC Mag is a hugely popular site that features news, how tos, and perhaps most importantly, detailed product reviews. They’re well-respected when it comes to their reviews. Their Best Deals Today page is, of course, updated daily. There are several categories, including laptops and gaming. The page is arranged in a slightly overwhelming way, with quite a lot of information, but the information is all useful and relevant, making it easier to spot which deals are the right fit for you.
CNET is another very popular site that’s well-known for its product reviews. They’re also popular for their news articles. On their Deals & Promotions page, they might offer over a thousand different suggestions for current deals. You can click the check boxes on the side of the page to narrow down what you’re looking for, including things like tablets and televisions.
Amazon’s Deals page is not quite the same as the others. Instead of linking to various different outlets (like Walmart, Newegg, etc.), you’ll obviously only see deals for products you can purchase on Amazon. This means it’s not really an aggregator like the other sites and you might miss some good deals that aren’t available on Amazon. However, if you prefer to purchase using Amazon Prime, or if you want to find more than you might spot on the other sites, Amazon’s Deals in Electronics can offer some good buys. You can see currently available deals, and you can even see which deals are coming soon. And they show deals on Amazon devices (like the Echo Dot), so it’s a good place to check if you’re in the market for a new smart speaker or tablet.
Interested in more ways to save money on Amazon and maybe even get free stuff? Check out The Babble Out and see if their program might be a good fit for you!