Google Makes Major Changes to Gmail

Google Makes Major Changes to Gmail

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.

Track Your Day with Apps

Track Your Day with Apps

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.

Google, Apple, Samsung Updating Smart Health Products

Google, Apple, Samsung Updating Smart Health Products

Health is an important topic, including in the world of tech. There are many different smart devices and services that can help you track and improve your health. If you use some of them (or are planning to), it’s important to keep track of updates to your options.

Over the past week, news has come out about updates for Google’s Wear OS, Apple’s Health app, and Samsung’s Gear S2. Read on to learn more about what’s changing!

Google’s Wear OS updating, will extend life of battery

Wear OS by Google, previously known as Android Wear, is getting some updates soon. Google’s Developers Blog has posted their developer preview and outlined some upcoming changes to their Wear OS, specifically previewing it on their Huawei Watch 2.

One major part of the preview is its emphasis on extending battery life. Three of the five points on their outline focus on updates that will “improve power.” Specifically, certain features will be limited or turned off to make batteries last longer. According to the blog post, background apps will only be able to run if the watch is currently charging. If the watch is off the body for a long enough time, the watch will also disable services like WiFi and Bluetooth. And in the future, when Bluetooth is disabled, the watch won’t connect to WiFi automatically.

All of these features are intended to make the watch need to be charged less often. They also note other changes, including a darker theme to make the watch easier to look at quickly.

Apple Health app adding access to some medical records

Apple’s Health Records is making it a little more convenient to see some medical records from an iPhone. Apple has posted a blog detailing the new feature added to Apple Health. If you use Apple Health and are a patient at one of the health services connected to the feature, you can see some of your medical history. Not only can you see your records, you can even get an alert if or when the information is changed or added to. For those worried about privacy, don’t get too worried. Apple is stressing in their blog that the information is encrypted. You’ll also need to use your passcode to see the data. The blog post also lists some of the health systems that currently support Apple Health Records.

Samsung’s Gear S2 updated with more health features

Samsung’s years-old smartwatch is getting an update. The Verge reports that many new changes have come with the update, including some new features for fitness and health. One new health-oriented feature is the ability to set a routine. You can then get alerts that encourage you to stay active. You can also track things like your exercise, calorie intake, and heart rate. These are just a few of the changes included in the update.

Barnes & Noble’s New Book Recommendation App

Barnes & Noble’s New Book Recommendation App

Bookworms rejoice! Barnes and Noble, the popular bookseller, has released a new app for finding new book recommendations and connecting with other readers.

Barnes and Noble’s new app is called Browsery, and it’s intended to help readers discover books to read in a more personal way than some other apps. The bookseller is calling the app “[t]he first app that talks about books the way you do.”

Instead of adding books to a shelf and having other titles automatically suggested to you based on algorithms, users of the Browsery app will join a community of readers. When you use the app, you can ask specific questions looking for recommendations. Then the other people using the app can offer book recommendations. Once a recommendation has been posted, others can say whether they agree with the recommendation, making it easier to verify that a book really does fit the criteria. You can also, of course, offer recommendations to other users yourself. You can talk about the recommendations and even follow them. And as you use the app, you create a list of books you’ve read, helping you keep track of what you’ve found through the app so far.

This is a fairly different concept when compared to other bookshelf-building apps. Other apps typically let you do more to build a shelf of all the books you’ve owned and read (which Browsery doesn’t particularly focus on), but they also aren’t usually built around getting personalized suggestions. They often just suggest books based on what you’ve already read.

Barnes and Noble actually lists some examples of questions people might ask when looking for recommendations. Recommendation requests can center on pretty much anything you’d like. You might ask for a favorite children’s book on a particular topic, a book everyone should read before they die, a book that foreshadowed modern times, or anything else that piques your interest.

Browsery is now available on Android and iOS. Head over to the Barnes and Noble website to find out more.

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

Hello, and welcome to the newest Tech Spotlight! This week, I’m continuing to highlight some of the tech that’s caught my eye and raised my interest. Like every week, the items I’ve found are cool, fun, incredibly useful, or all of the above.

The items I’ve found this week are an Echo Dot accessory, a TV touchscreen projector, and a solar light. Take a look at what I’ve found, then head on over to Amazon to take a closer look and add them to your cart!

The Spot by Dot Genie

The Spot is an accessory you’ll want if you have an Echo Dot or one of more than half a dozen other small speakers. This accessory allows you to keep your speaker at the ready while mounting it out of the way.

The Spot is a speaker holder that mounts your speaker using your outlet. You place your speaker in the holder, which holds it in with small tabs, then plug it into a wall outlet through the mount’s designated spot. This allows you to have your speaker mounted on the wall instead of taking up space on the countertop or desk. They’ve also designed the mount to prevent sound from being muffled.

This accessory also helps eliminate some clutter. You use your speaker’s plug, but the Spot comes with its own shorter cord that connects to the plug and makes things less messy. This accessory can plug into vertical or horizontal plugs. It’s also designed to avoid blocking the outlet above it, so it only takes up one space.

Speakers like the Echo Dot are small and convenient, but they can be even more convenient with an accessory like the Spot. It comes in five different colors, so check it out and choose the colors you need for each room!

Touchjet WAVE Android Tablet Virtual Touchscreen TV System Projector

This is a product you’ll want if you work with others in meetings, run a classroom, or want to use a smart device with the whole family. The Touchjet WAVE can turn your flat screen TV or monitor into a giant touchscreen device.

The WAVE attaches to the top of any flat screen TV or monitor (up to 65”) and projects a touchscreen down onto it. It uses the Android operating system, and it comes preinstalled with some apps already, including some games and a Chrome browser. You can then add more apps that you want.

This device works well in many different situations. It allows people to work together—everyone can easily touch the screen, unlike using a regular tablet. Using the accompanying app, everyone can share what they’re looking at on their devices. And it can be fun for a family, because you can all play games together on the large touchscreen. It also makes it easier to stream your shows, because you can add your favorite streaming apps to the WAVE instead of having to use a separate device.

Whether it’s at home, at the office, or in a classroom, the WAVE can be a fun or incredibly useful addition. Learn more about how it works, then add it to your cart!

Sun King Pico Portable Solar Lantern

This small lamp makes it possible to stay well-lit in the outdoors or at home without any plugs or batteries. The Portable Solar Lantern is a small solar-powered lantern with a sturdy stand.

The lantern is a small, round, yellow lamp that comes with a detachable base. It’s solar-powered, with its charging area located on the back of the lamp. You can leave the lamp on the base to charge it, or you can detach the lamp and easily set it in any windowsill to let it charge while you’re not using it.

The lamp is convenient in many ways. You can get up to 70 hours of use from the lamp with a full charge. It also has three brightness settings—low, normal, and turbo. It’s light, weighing only 150 grams (which, for comparison, is just slightly heavier than a baseball). And it’s water resistant and durable, so you don’t have to worry about breaking it during a camping trip.

Even if you’re not on-the-go or in the great outdoors, this solar lantern is a small battery- and cord-free way to add some light to your home. Head over to Amazon to take a closer look!

Switch Things Up with a Keyboard App

Switch Things Up with a Keyboard App

If you’re using a smartphone, chances are you’re using the keyboard that came pre-installed. And depending on the phone, you might like it just fine.

But if you don’t like your keyboard, or if you think it could be better, you have options. Here are just some of the most popular and well-received keyboard apps you can try!

ai.type Keyboard

This keyboard is designed to offer lots of fun functions. You can change the layout of the keyboard, as well as its color, font, and more. It offers hundreds of emojis. It also has things like swipe capability, text prediction, autocorrect, voice narration, and even autosuggested emojis.
Cost: Free (with ads)
Available for: Android & iOS

Chrooma

This keyboard is meant to be smart and quick instead of bogging down your phone. You can change the color and personalize it in other ways, as well. It has predictive text, swipe capabilities, one hand mode, night mode, and more. It also has fun features, like a GIF search and emoji suggestion.
Cost: Free (with ads)
Available for: Android

Fleksy

This keyboard is a fun and colorful option. It proclaims itself the “fastest keyboard in the world.” It offers a customizable keyboard, easy gesture control, text prediction, and more. It lets you add extensions, like the GIF, Number Row, and Stickers extensions, and there are three keyboard sizes to choose from.
Cost: Free (premium features at a cost)
Available for: Android & iOS

Gboard

This keyboard from Google is a clean and fast keyboard choice. You can text using your voice, swipe (using their “glide typing”), share content from Google searches, translate, and use gestures. It also lets you search and use emojis and GIFs.
Cost: Free
Available for: Android & iOS

Minuum

This keyboard calls itself “the little keyboard for big fingers.” It’s designed to be a small keyboard that takes up less space without being difficult to use. It offers what it refers to as “sloppy typing,” meaning you can type quickly while it figures out what you’re trying to write. You can change the keyboard layout, get word predictions, search for definitions, gesture, get suggested emojis, use voice typing, and more.
Cost: $3.99 (free version offers limited features)
Available for: Android & iOS

SwiftKey

This keyboard focuses on its ability to learn your patterns and give better suggestions the longer you use it. It has autocorrect, predicted words, themes and customizable keyboards, swipe capabilities, an emoji keyboard, suggested emojis, and more. It can even learn your style better by accessing your previous texts and accounts.
Cost: Free
Available for: Android & iOS 

Swype

This keyboard is one of the most popular swipe-based keyboards. Swype gets better at understanding how you communicate the more you use it, and using your account, you don’t have to start over again if you switch to a new device. You can customize the keyboard, including its layout and design. The keyboard also offers swipe capabilities, predictive text, voice to text, gestures, and more.
Cost: $.99
Available for: Android & iOS

Typany

This keyboard is your brightly colored and fun keyboard alternative. You can create your own themes, make your own emojis, share drawings, use themes, and more. It has features like autocorrect and keyboard personalization, as well as voice to text. They also have what they call “text bang,” which lets you easily edit what you’ve typed. There’s even an emoji keyboard, including text-based emoticons.
Cost: Free (with ads)
Available for: Android & iOS

Android Oreo Update Paused

Android Oreo Update Paused

Android’s newest update, Android 8.0 (a.k.a. Oreo), has stopped after unexpected issues occurred with some users.

The highly anticipated update began rolling out to Samsung S8 devices last week, says The Verge, but it’s now been halted. The update was stopped as it was causing some users’ phones to reboot unexpectedly. Specifically, some S8 and S8 Plus owners were reporting that the update caused their phones to reboot at random.

Android 8.0—Oreo—is bringing many new features to Android users. Android’s website details some of the features to expect from the release that has been rolling out. It notes some phones will start two times faster, and they’ll use power better because 8.0 reduces background app usage. It’s also adding an autofill feature, offering picture-in-picture (so you can use more than one app at a time), changing some aspects of how apps work, releasing redesigned emojis (with more than 60 new ones), adding accessibility updates, and more.

Last year, CNET outlined some of the Android Oreo features they were most excited about. This included the new autofill feature and the picture in picture feature. They also pointed out how useful the app changes will be. They mentioned the new notification channels that will be available in apps that update for Oreo, as well as the notification dots that will appear on apps.

The Verge points out that the update wasn’t rolling out worldwide yet, so the sudden halt to Oreo’s release doesn’t impact as many people as it could. However, those who did already get the update before it was stopped are now using an OS that is not as ready for release as Samsung thought. The Verge’s article quotes Samsung as saying they’re working to get the improved version of Oreo out to users “as quickly as possible,” so hopefully users won’t have to wait too long.

For even more about Android Oreo, check out the Android website or read Android Authority’s review from last year.

Google Home and Chromecast Devices Caused Wi-Fi Issues

Google Home and Chromecast Devices Caused Wi-Fi Issues

If you use Google Home or Chromecast, you may have been experiencing issues with your wi-fi because of it.

People were initially reporting problems several days ago when owners of the Google Home Max and the TP-Link Archer C7 router were dealing with their wi-fi crashing while their Google Home Max was in use. TP-Link fixed the problem, according to Gizmodo, but it quickly became clear that the problem wasn’t just with Google Home Max or the Archer C7 router. People using other devices, like Chromecast, were experiencing the issue as well.

The issue, as Gizmodo explains, is that when these Google devices were woken, they were sending packets of data that sometimes made the routers crash. The amount of data sent at one time grew the longer the Google device was inactive before being turned back on.

Google addressed the issue through a Google Home Help post, explaining what was happening. People using an Android device and a device like Chromecast or Google Home on the same wi-fi network were affected by the wi-fi crash issue. This is because the issue was with the Cast software specifically on Android devices, not with the Google Home Max or TP-Link routers as it previously had seemed.

Google noted they would be releasing a fix for the problem right away. An update was scheduled for Google Play services on the 18th of this month. According to Android Police, a beta update has now started rolling out. At this point, the article mentions, some users are saying the update has fixed the issue, while others are still not seeing any improvement even after updating.

If you want to try the beta update, you can do so by becoming a tester. Or if you’d rather wait for an update to the public version of Google Play services, Google has suggested that anyone having the wi-fi crash issue should restart their Android device and then make sure their router is up to date.

Keep Up to Date with a Calendar App

Keep Up to Date with a Calendar App

If you have events or reminders to keep track of, you probably make good use of calendars. And since you likely have a mobile device, it’s safe to assume you take advantage of your phone’s or tablet’s calendar. Thankfully, tablets and phones typically come with some kind of calendar app preinstalled, but what if something better is available?

The calendar app you need will very likely depend on what you’re primarily going to use it for and what works best for reminding you of your schedule. Some people remember to check their calendar every day, some remember what day an event is but can’t remember the details, some need loud and persistent reminders. Because of all this, your day to day life can be made a little easier with the right app.

The most important things to look for when choosing an app are that it has what you specifically need, doesn’t take up more space than you can reasonably offer, and comes from a reputable developer. With that in mind, here are just some of the cool and useful calendar apps waiting to be downloaded.

aCalendar

This calendar app is available for free in the Play store. Some of its main features include the ability to show different views (day, week, month, year, agenda, etc.), customize colors, connect with Google Calendar, place widgets, see moon phases, and share events. These are all available in the free version of the app. There are many more features in the paid version.

Awesome Calendar

This calendar app is available for $9.99 in the App Store. This app can sync with the other calendars available for iOS. Some main features include the ability to set custom alarms, add stickers and notes, see your calendar in different views, include photos, show the weather, share information, and customize the appearance.

Business Calendar 2

This calendar app is available for free in the Play store. Business Calendar 2 is not just for business! Some of its main features center on being able to set up events and tasks, look at multiple different views, sync with other calendars, use voice input, and place widgets. You also have multiple options for your different calendar views. Especially cool is the heat map that shows your free and busy days. These are just some of the features from this free app.

CloudCal

This calendar app is available for free in the Play store. This app is a colorful and fun calendar option. Some of its main features include syncing with other calendars, multiple calendar views, plenty of reminder options, themes, and widgets. Most importantly, it has Magic Circles, which is a feature that gives you a visual of when you’re free or busy.

Cozi

This calendar app is available for free in the Play store or in the App Store. This app is specifically meant to help families stay on top of events and agendas. Some of its features are the shared calendar, color-coding, automated agenda emails, shopping & to-do lists, a family journal, and widgets.

DigiCal

This calendar app is available for free in the Play store. Some of the biggest features of this app are the multiple agenda views, widgets, weather forecasts, themes and customizable colors, and location search. These are all in the free version. The paid version has even more features, plus you can also pay a fee to add premium calendars that add events to your calendar for you (for things like sports and holidays).

Fantastical 2

This calendar app is available for $2.99 in the App Store. Just some of this app’s features include the ability to use “natural language” when entering events, customize reminders and alerts, view maps, and share events. This app prides itself on being visually pleasing, as well as working in an intuitive and natural way.

My Study Life

This calendar app is available for free in the Play store and in the App Store. This app is primarily focused on helping students stay organized. Some of its main features are its ability to save information to the cloud, keep up with homework, remember your class schedule, and get notifications about things like due dates and class times.