Snapchat Adding New ‘Map Explore’ Feature

Snapchat Adding New ‘Map Explore’ Feature

Snapchat is adding a feature to its app. The new feature being added to Snapchat, called Map Explore, brings an interesting new way to keep up with (and locate) your friends.

The Verge is reporting that Map Explore has now been introduced. Map Explore, according to The Verge, lets users find out where their friends are, see where some breaking news is happening, and more.

Snap Map, the maps feature on Snapchat, was introduced last summer. With Snap Map, people could move around and see Snaps that were being posted in various locations. This included being able to see your friends’ Snaps on the map. Though Snap Map is a popular feature, it’s important to point out that users can choose to hide their location. So if you’re someone with privacy concerns (and who might not have gotten around to noticing Snap Map yet), no worries—location sharing is optional with Snapchat’s map feature.

If you don’t mind sharing your location and checking out where other people are, Map Explore could improve your Snapchat experience. With Map Explore, The Verge explains, you can be alerted to what’s happening on the Snap Map. Snap is quoted as saying that this update was introduced because users previously had to search around to find things. This update will make it easier to find interesting Snaps instead of wondering where to look. Alerts about updates will be based on your friends doing something (posting a Snap or a Story, for instance) with location turned on. After 8 hours of inactivity, their location won’t be shown on the map anymore.

Breaking news and other interesting happenings will also be easier to find. Users will be able to get updates about Our Story content. This means you’ll be able to find out quickly when interesting things are happening anywhere in the world (as long as someone is Snapping it).

The Verge mentions that the new update will be arriving for people through the coming weeks. So if you don’t have the update yet, don’t panic—it will be coming soon.

Keep Up With Astronomical Events

Keep Up With Astronomical Events

The recent ‘super blue blood moon’ was widely talked about and watched by many people. This lunar eclipse was particularly special because of the combination of different qualities. If you happened to miss this particular lunar eclipse, though, don’t worry—there are plenty of cool astronomical events to watch out for.

Some people may not really be aware of how many astronomical events there are each year. Between eclipses, meteor showers, interesting planetary alignments, and all sorts of other nighttime visuals, there’s plenty to watch. Because of this, it can seem difficult to keep up with all the upcoming events. And once you know what’s coming, you might be wondering how to best watch. Thankfully, there are sites and apps ready to help! You can always go the old school route, tech-free, but you can improve your sky-watching experience with the suggestions on this list.

What’s coming

There are plenty of apps and sites you can use to watch for upcoming events. You can typically find the same information through all these options, so it all comes down to personal preference. Check out these sites and apps to see which you like the best!

Apps
American Almanac of Astronomy and Weather—The Almanac (for iOS) lets you check out forecasts for many different things, including astronomical events. You can see upcoming events like eclipses and meteor showers, along with astronomical data.

Sky Events—This app (for Android) lists past and future astronomical events of all sorts. You can look by category, like lunar eclipses and meteor showers, plus you can learn more about the type of event and add events to your Google Calendar, along with other features.

Sites
Nat Geo’s Starstruck—This section on the National Geographic website features detailed and highly informational articles about upcoming astronomical events to watch out for. You can learn about exciting events, including the science behind them, in many cases. And since it’s Nat Geo, you can look at some stunning photos that accompany each article.

The New York Times Calendar—This calendar from NYT shows upcoming events, like meteor showers and eclipses, plus things like space launches. It can be accessed as a website, or you can have the calendar synced to your Google or iOS calendar.

Space.com Skywatching—The Skywatching section on Space.com posts guides to upcoming astronomical events, including lunar events, planetary events, and space launches. Since it’s Space.com, you can also expect to learn more about the science of these events through their articles.

Useful tools

Once you know what’s coming up next, try using one of these apps to figure out exactly where to look and what to look for!

Night Sky—This app (for iOS) can help you learn more about the night sky through an AR experience. You can identify stars, planets, and other objects, so if you’re not sure where to look for a certain event, this app can help you find the way. You can also do things like take “Sky Tours” and, if you have the Premium version, experience the solar system with augmented reality.

Sky Map—This app (for Android) is one of the early apps used for sky watching. Originally called Google Sky Maps, this app is now open-source (hence the name change) and lets you point your phone to find things like planets and constellations. You can even search for objects and let the app direct you to where they are.

SkyView—This app (for Android and iOS) lets you find or identify objects in the sky, like planets and stars. You can also learn about different objects that you look at. And it has night mode filters to make sure your eyes stay adjusted while you’re watching the stars.

How you can watch

Whether you’re stepping outside to watch or too far from the event to spot it, there are a couple sites you can use to make your plans!

Astronomy clubs—Thanks to NASA, you can easily find local astronomy clubs on the web. Their website has a club search that lets you search locations for a club to join. Even if you don’t join a club, knowing which clubs to follow can keep you up-to-date on things like watch parties.

SloohThis site has quite a few fun astronomical offerings. Perhaps most importantly, you can watch live feeds and live events. There are live feeds from a number of different telescopes that you can check out all day, plus if there’s an upcoming event—like an eclipse or comet—you can likely watch a live stream of it. You have to pay to maintain a membership, but you can start a free 30-day trial to check it out!

Plan Your Valentine’s Day Online

Plan Your Valentine’s Day Online

Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, and whether you have a significant other or not, you may still want to make plans. And with so many specific sites and apps out there these days, it’s easier than ever to plan your February 14th by using your internet connection.

The internet can play an important role in how you prepare for any holiday. But with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a good time to think about how you can make the day easier. You may not even know how many helpful apps and sites there are that cater to lovebirds, people who are looking, and people who are single.

If you have a special someone, or if you don’t have a date for the 14th yet (and even if you don’t want one), scroll through for some ways you can improve Valentine’s Day this 2018!

Find a date

There are definitely plenty of dating sites and apps to choose from. You can find more general sites, like most of the ones below, or you can narrow your search to sites that focus on a specific interest. If you don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day and you’d like to, you might find someone who’s looking for a date for the 14th themselves.

  • Match—Match is the popular dating site that’s been around since the 90s. You can join for free, but to really use the site, you’ll need a subscription.
  • Zoosk—Zoosk is another well-known dating site, this one started in the mid-2000s. Like Match, you can join for free, but you’ll need to pay to actually use their services.
  • Tinder—If you want to try a free way to maybe find a Valentine’s Day date, give Tinder a shot. Keep in mind, people using Tinder have a wide variety of agendas, and it’s not like a dating site that has a detailed algorithm for matches.
  • OkCupid—OkCupid has also been hugely popular for years. OkCupid also has a free version, as well as a paid version. With OkCupid, though, you can do more in the free version than other sites.
  • Coffee Meets Bagel—This app is a newer dating option that began in the mid-2010s and has been gaining in popularity. You have suggested matches every afternoon who are chosen through their algorithm.

Plan an outing

If you want to go out this year, you have a few things to consider. Here are just a few ways you can plan your day (or night).

Take a trip—If you’re going out of town, you might want to stay with Airbnb. Or if your plans are slightly more last-minute, give HotelTonight a look.

Find a restaurant—If you want to make a reservation, try the OpenTable app. And of course, the top app for searching for the best restaurant choice is still Yelp.

Look for special events in town—If you want to spend your Valentine’s Day going to an event you’ll both like, find out what’s happening nearby with something like Eventbrite, or search through Events on Facebook.

Stay in

You don’t have to hit the town or take a trip to celebrate. If you do plan a night in, take a look and see if these apps and sites can make it special.

Cook—When you decide to try your hand at cooking a romantic dinner, download a cooking app like BigOven (Android or iOS) or Food Network in the Kitchen (Android or iOS) for a little extra help. Both offer thousands of recipes to choose from.

Order in—Maybe cooking isn’t really your thing. If that’s the case, you can always find food to order with apps like GrubHub and UberEats, both of which let you find what’s nearby and have it delivered to you.

Play music—Playlists and genre stations can help give your night atmosphere. You can always make your own playlist with Spotify or find a themed one, and Pandora has plenty of playlists for different occasions (including Love Songs Radio).

Give something nice

It’s not a requirement to buy something for your Valentine’s Day date, but it can be a nice gesture! If you think your date would like something for the occasion, here are some places you can find something for them without leaving home.

Sweets—Chocolates and other candies are an obvious (and usually well-liked) choice for Valentine’s Day. See’s Candies offers a lot of different options for candy. 1-800-Flowers may have “Flowers” in the name, but they also have a large selection of sweets. And Godiva has many different chocolate options. All of these sites specifically have pages dedicated to Valentine’s Day sweets.

Arrangements—Whether you want flowers or something a little different, an arrangement can be a nice gift. 1-800-Flowers has many, many different options for bouquets and other types of flowers. Shari’s Berries offers many different bouquets that can be paired with their berries (meaning you can order a bouquet with chocolate covered strawberries). ThinkGeek is a little bit different—instead of sending a bouquet of flowers, you might want to send a bouquet of plushies (like a bouquet of plush dragons).

Gifts—If you’re not sure what to get someone for Valentine’s Day, take a look at my list of gift finders! It includes several websites that offer gift suggestions and even let you buy the suggested gifts right there on the site.

Custom Valentine’s Day cards—You can always buy a card at a local store, but if you want something a little more personal, you can make your own card. Canva lets you create a card from scratch or choose from many different templates, and Shutterfly has a large selection of card choices that you can customize with things like text and photos.

Connect long-distance

If your significant other is going to be out-of-town on the 14th, or if your relationship is long-distance, Valentine’s Day may seem like a downer. But there are ways to make the day a little nicer from far away. Below are just a few ways you can make the day more romantic with some helpful apps.

Plan a scavenger hunt—If your partner is away, try planning something fun for them to do anyway. One popular scavenger hunt app, Klikaklu, lets you create your own hunts and then send them to a specific person (or make them public). It’s only available for iOS, but you can try something kind of similar with Seek&Spot, another scavenger hunt app that lets you create your own hunts.

Send poetry—If you’re not a poet yourself, don’t worry. You can find plenty of romantic poems to send on Valentine’s Day. Love Poems is available for Android, and it lets you search, save, and send poems. On iOS, you can try Valentine’s Love Poems for romantic poems you can share.

Keep in touch—If you’re long-distance, make sure you’re staying connected. Couple is an app that can be helpful on Valentine’s Day, since it lets you message each other, and it also has ThumbKiss, which is a feature that makes phones vibrate when both people press their thumbs to same spot on their phones.

Skip romance

There’s been plenty in this article for those who have a date or are looking for one. But being without a romantic date on Valentine’s Day is awesome, too. There are plenty of things to do if you’re single on February 14th. Here are just a couple ideas!

Find a Second Halloween—Some people are skipping Valentine’s Day and celebrating Second Halloween instead. Your town might be throwing a Second Halloween bash—search for “2nd Halloween” or “Second Halloween” on Facebook, narrow your results to “Events,” and see what you find!

Celebrate Galentine’s Day—Galentine’s Day is a popular way for women to celebrate on the 13th without worrying about romance. For many, it replaces Valentine’s Day celebrations. You can plan your own Galentine’s Day by using a site like RSVPify. Or if you’re new to town and looking for friends to invite, you might give Bumble a shot; Bumble is for finding friends, dates, business partners, and more, not just a dating site.

Organize Your Upcoming Events Online

Organize Your Upcoming Events Online

The holidays are creeping closer, and with that in mind, you might be thinking about the events you have to plan. If you’re in charge of the family’s holiday dinner or your friends’ Thanksgiving dinner, or even if you just like to plan special events, internet access can make things really easy.

Even though texting and emailing can make things go more smoothly than they did in the past, it can sometimes seem confusing and tedious keeping track of all the texts you’re getting, keeping up with everyone’s contributions, making note of who’s going and who isn’t, and remembering who you’ve told what.

With some basic websites and apps, you can make putting together your holiday event (or any event) run much more smoothly. Here are just a few ways you can use the internet to reduce stress this holiday season!

Create a private Facebook event

I’m sure you know you can create Facebook events, but honestly, creating a private one can be a huge time saver. Depending on the group you’ll be inviting, every invitee might already be on Facebook. If they are, it makes things pretty easy. You can choose to make your event private so that only you and the people you invite know it exists. People can leave comments, let you know if they’re going, and get all the details in one place. Of course, if any of the invitees aren’t on Facebook or don’t check it regularly, it might not be the best way to go. Also, people can be flaky when it comes to Facebook invites. They’ll often choose “Interested” and never change the status to “Going,” so it can be hard to get a headcount at times. If these aren’t issues you’re worried about encountering, a private Facebook event may take care of most of your needs.

Use the GroupMe app

GroupMe is a super helpful app when you want to communicate with a group. Everyone knows that group texts can be irritating at times, especially if you’re trapped in one you don’t want to be part of. GroupMe lets you create groups made up of people using the GroupMe app or just people with texting capabilities. If you’re in the group, you can remove yourself or turn off notifications, so you won’t feel trapped. You could use GroupMe to invite people to the party, update them on changes, get their ideas, or anything else. It’s a useful way to communicate with a whole group without making them feel stuck in an unwanted group text.

Use Facebook Messenger to poll guests

Facebook Messenger can work pretty well to form group messages as well, but one particularly cool use for it is polling. If you create a group message with the invitees who are on Facebook, you can message a poll through the app and get peoples’ thoughts in a helpful way. You might need to know what time would work best for everyone, or you could be trying to figure out the best venue. Whatever the case may be, it’s a straightforward way to work out the details of your event, particularly if you already have the Messenger app or if you have access on a desktop.

Set up a Google Doc to keep track of info

Google Docs can be a lifesaver when trying to organize something or work together with a group. If you have a Google account, you can create a Google Doc and invite others to collaborate with you by editing the document. This could make things really well-organized for, say, a potluck. People could edit the document by adding their name and what they were bringing. Then every time someone opened the document, they would be able to see what was already covered and use that to figure out what was still needed. With a Google Doc, it takes some of the responsibility of organizing out of the host’s hands.

Use RSVPify to figure out who’s coming

Finding out who’s coming to an event can sometimes be crucially important. Knowing the attendance numbers can change how much food you make, how much seating is needed, etc. As previously mentioned, it can sometimes be hard to get a true headcount on a Facebook event. That could still be an issue everywhere, but it might make things a little easier if you used a service like RSVPify. You can create a free event and send a link to everyone for them to RSVP. This is especially useful if not all of the invitees are active on Facebook. It also might seem a little more official and important than a Facebook invite, so who knows, you might get a more accurate headcount.

Offer a collaborative playlist for wider music selection

Instead of going to the trouble of putting together a playlist yourself, you can make it a group effort. If you want some mood music for your party, like Christmas music, you can create a collaborative playlist on Spotify and invite other Spotify users to add to it. This way you don’t have to focus on coming up with a full playlist, plus your attendees will get a say in what’s being played for everyone. It’s just one small way that a host can make their guests feel like they’re part of the planning process.