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.

What’s New With YouTube TV & YouTube Kids

What’s New With YouTube TV & YouTube Kids

YouTube showed up in the news this week for a couple different reasons, both of them revolving around their additional services. YouTube TV has received an update that makes it more accessible, while it’s been reported YouTube Kids will become a little more trustworthy in the future.

YouTube TV will now be able to be watched in the Firefox browser, says TechCrunch. It was previously only available for Chrome users, keeping things in the Google family. But as promised, it’s begun to expand. Firefox is a massively popular browser, so it should make things a little easier for some people.

YouTube TV, which I wrote about last year, is a live TV service with a monthly fee. The service is $40 a month and offers more than 50 networks for live streaming. It can be used by multiple people with their own DVRs, and recordings are stored in their unlimited cloud storage, so you don’t have to worry about flipping through other peoples’ recordings or running out of space. Now that YouTube TV is available on Firefox, we’ll see how long it takes to reach other popular browsers.

Meanwhile, BuzzFeed News is reporting that, according to their source, YouTube Kids will be coming out with a different version of their app that may ease parents’ concerns about what their kids are watching. YouTube Kids uses algorithms to decide what shows up for kids to watch, and it has famously accidentally showed children videos that were upsetting to parents. BuzzFeed News specifically mentions conspiracy videos that have been appearing on YouTube Kids, even flat earth videos, as well as videos with age-inappropriate content.

The new app (which wouldn’t replace the current app but would simply be a new option) would only include videos from sources that were approved by YouTube, BuzzFeed News says. This would add a human element to the decision-making process. Parents would be able to feel a little more comfortable with their kids using the app—they wouldn’t have to worry about the algorithm missing something.

BuzzFeed News also mentions their source said this new app could be released within weeks, though it hasn’t been confirmed by YouTube yet.

Virtual Reality in 2018

Virtual Reality in 2018

Over the past several years, it’s unlikely that you’ve missed all the buzz over virtual reality headsets. Virtual reality (VR) headsets became highly sought after and hugely popular. Over time, some headsets became affordable for more people, while more VR content was released.

In recent months, a lot of the fuss over VR has died down. It seems as though people simply aren’t talking about it as much as they once were. It feels a bit like the novelty has worn off for some.

But even if VR isn’t hyped as often as it was not too long ago, it’s still making advancements, and it has a lot to offer. Less than a week ago, Qualcomm announced their newest VR headset. And near the end of last year, Oculus Go was announced, a different kind of headset that could be coming very soon.

Since we’re still early in the new year, now is a good time to take a look at what you can find in the world of VR in 2018. Read on for some basics, some tech options, and plenty of fun suggestions!

What is VR?

When I talk about VR in this article, I’m talking about the current VR technology accessed through the use of a VR headset. While wearing a headset, wearers are given the impression they are in another world. Users can turn around and see content in every direction, including above and below them.

Some people find the difference between VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) a little confusing. With virtual reality, you’re immersed in a completely separate world. You interact with content that is not connected to your own real-world visuals.

With augmented reality, on the other hand, objects are placed in your actual surroundings. You can look at something that is actually right in front of you, and augmented reality will work within those visuals to add content into what you’re really seeing. (Pokemon Go is an example of AR—when you used your camera to capture what you were really seeing while catching Pokemon, you were using AR.)

Since virtual reality doesn’t include visuals from your real surroundings, it offers something much more clearly separated from your real life.

VR headsets

VR headsets let wearers enter a different world. After placing a device in the headset (or plugging a tethered headset into a computer or gaming console), the headset is worn to fill a person’s vision with whatever content they choose.

Many headsets were very expensive when VR was first popular. They were sometimes fairly basic, as well. Over time, more headsets came out that were inexpensive, and other headsets added more features.

Keep in mind that if you buy a cheaper headset, you’re likely not getting as nice of features as you might with a pricier option. Cheaper options also might not be as comfortable or durable.

Here are just a few of the headsets you can consider when deciding whether to enjoy VR.

Budget headsets:

Popular (pricier) headsets:

What can VR be used for?

VR isn’t just for playing games (though VR gaming is great)! VR can be fun in a lot of different ways. Here are some ways to use VR, including for education and entertainment (and yes, that includes gaming).

Education
With VR, there are opportunities for learning. There are plenty of apps that offer educational experiences. Depending on which device you’re using, you might be able to learn a wide variety of things!

Practice public speakingVirtualSpeech lets you work on your communication skills in private. You can learn how to become a better communicator, plus you can practice by being placed in different surroundings. For instance, you can give a presentation standing on a stage in front of a virtual crowd.

Look through the human brain or look around StonehengeUnimersiv offers many different educational apps, including more than just a tour of the brain or Stonehenge. You can also do things like check out ancient Rome and the International Space Station.

Learn a new language—With an app like House of Languages, you can learn another language in a different way. You can learn English, German, or Spanish while actually looking at the objects that correspond to the words you’re learning and playing minigames.

Go inside the human bodyThe Body VR is one app that lets you learn about what goes on in the human body. You can learn about things like blood cells and viruses.

Make your way through the solar systemTitans of Space is just one app that teaches about the solar system. You can move through space, checking out planets and certain stars, all while learning facts about what you’re seeing.

Surround yourself with Discovery content—You can view VR content from Discovery, which lets you see places all across the world, check out different cultures, and experience special events.

Entertainment
There’s more entertainment to be found than just VR games. There are a lot of fun things to do in VR!

Watch 360-degree videos—If you access YouTube through your VR headset, you can search for tons of 360-degree videos. You can find videos that let you experience what it’s like to swim with dolphins, jump out of a plane, or follow along with a fictional story.

Binge Netflix in a quiet, stylish homeNetflix’s VR app lets you appear to watch your shows and movies on a huge screen. You’re set in a comfortable-looking home with the large TV in front of you.

Watch a movie on the big screen—Many devices offer their own apps for movie-watching. With some devices, you can use Virtual Desktop to use your own computer in VR. This means you can watch all your movies from your computer.

Surf the web—Whichever device you’re using, you can likely access a web browser. This means you can fill your vision with a browser and check out all of your usual sites. For instance, Samsung Internet is available on some devices.

Play around on Facebook—With Facebook 360, you can check out tons of VR content on Facebook.

Virtual tourism
VR has made it possible for people to travel places they might never have been able to go otherwise. With VR, people who have limited mobility or who just can’t afford to take a trip can get a sense of what some locations look like in person. Depending on which device you have, you might have different options for your virtual tourism needs. Search for VR experiences that offer high-quality video tours or look for apps that make use of Google’s Street View.

Visit some amazing placesJaunt VR offers VR videos of some specific locations. These videos are often documentary-style, and you’re given a chance to learn and walk through some interesting places.

Go anywhere you want and walk the streets—Some apps, like Viso Places, give you a chance to go basically anywhere and look around. Viso Places uses Google Street View, so you can search for a location and magically transport yourself there. You can even use this app to go inside some museums.

(Check out my article with the 7 places you should check out as a virtual tourist!)

Gaming
Though gaming isn’t all VR is good for, it is just a lot of fun in virtual reality. Here are just a few of the well-received or newer games you might try!

Chronos—An RPG that takes users on a hero’s quest to fight evil. ($39.99)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR—Players can enjoy Skyrim’s huge world in virtual reality. ($41.99 to $59.99)
Fallout 4 VR—The hugely popular Fallout 4 is available in virtual reality, so you can explore the post-apocalyptic world like you’re really there. ($59.99)
Job Simulator—A popular, lighthearted game that has players “job” like humans used to do before robots took over for them. ($19.99)
KIN—A puzzle platformer set on another planet. ($9.99)
Minecraft—Everyone’s favorite sandbox game, but in virtual reality. (Free to $6.99)
The Playroom VR—This game is free for PS VR users, and it’s a fun, bright collection of multiplayer games. (Free)
Rez Infinite—A VR version of this popular game that lets users experience the fast-moving and visually appealing action game in a new way. ($24.99)
Smash Hit—Smash objects as you move through a different dimension. ($2.99)
Vacation Simulator—An upcoming game from the people who created Job Simulator!

YouTube TV & YouTube Go Expand Services

YouTube TV & YouTube Go Expand Services

YouTube services can now reach more people and more devices with the expansion of YouTube TV and YouTube Go.

YouTube TV’s live streaming service is now available for use on Apple TV devices and Roku devices, according to The Verge. As pointed out by Business Insider, these releases came just before the Superbowl, a major TV event. Now many more people will be able to easily access YouTube TV on their devices.

YouTube TV is YouTube’s live television service that officially launched in a number of cities last year. Since its initial launch, it’s become available in a fairly long list of cities. It offers live TV from over 40 networks, DVR (with the ability to record more than one thing at a time), multiple accounts (so everyone can have their own favorites and recordings), no contract, and unlimited cloud storage space for recordings. It’s $35 a month, with a few additional channels (including Showtime) available for an extra monthly fee.

Before its release on Apple TV and Roku devices, it was previously reported that the service had brought in 300,000 people so far (this was in January of this year).

As this news broke, more news about YouTube was released. YouTube Go will soon be available in more than a hundred countries. The app is specifically designed to bring access to YouTube videos in places where connections may be limited and phone capabilities may not be as advanced.

According to its Google Play product description, YouTube Go lets you download videos to watch offline, share them (without using data), preview videos, control how much data you use, and avoid bogging down your phone by making the app size small (around 9 MB). It’s also meant to work on older phones, unlike many apps now that are designed specifically for newer updates.

The app was originally only released in India, says TechCrunch, but now it will be rolled out to over 130 countries. According to Variety, those countries include Afghanistan, Brazil, and Mexico, just to name a few. It’s also important to note that there are not any plans to bring YouTube Go to Western countries like the US.

YouTube No Longer Available on Fire TV

YouTube No Longer Available on Fire TV

If you use Fire TV, you may have noticed you no longer have access to YouTube. The Verge reports that YouTube has now been deactivated on the device.

Fire TV is Amazon’s streaming device offering. It’s a small device that plugs into a TV and allows users to stream channels or use apps and Alexa skills. With a separate Alexa device or with the voice remote, users can control their TV by voice. Back in July, Business Insider noted that Amazon Fire TV had 35.8 million monthly users. Now all of those users will have to use a browser to watch YouTube on their TVs.

The removal of YouTube from Fire TV stems from an issue going all the way back to September. At that point, Google suddenly took YouTube off of Amazon’s Echo Show device. After the removal, Google said that they had never fully worked out the pairing before YouTube was made available on the Echo Show. Google said the version of YouTube on the Show created “a broken user experience,” likely referring to the fact that many key features were missing in this version of YouTube. Eventually, YouTube reappeared on the device.

Then earlier this month, Google pulled YouTube from the Echo Show once again. TechCrunch reports that Google didn’t know YouTube was being reactivated on the device. Google wasn’t involved in the process of creating this version of the YouTube app either, and they say it violates their Terms of Service. Once they pulled it from the Echo Show, they announced they would be removing it from Fire TV, as well. The original claim was that it would be removed on January 1st, 2018.

Instead, it was pulled on December 28th, days before it was meant to be removed. The Verge notes that we don’t yet know who took it down early. In any case, Fire TV users hoping for one last hurrah with the voice-controlled version of YouTube have now missed their shot. There don’t seem to be any current plans for reactivating YouTube on Amazon’s devices.

Getting Ready for the New Year

Getting Ready for the New Year

With 2017 wrapping up and 2018 quickly approaching, it might be difficult to keep up with everything. There are the holidays to get through, and with the new year, there might be some expectations or plans to keep up with. If you’re feeling a little unprepared for 2017 to come to a close, here are just some ways you can get ready, as well as some ideas for taking care of yourself!

Use an app for your resolution(s) or goals

Do you have a special New Year’s resolution? Many people come up with resolutions to better themselves or do something specific. Many people also forget about their resolutions not too far into 2018. The good news is, you can use the internet to focus on keeping your resolutions!

Even if you don’t have a resolution, you might have decided on some goals to meet over the course of the year. Here are some apps that can help!

Coach.me is an app that helps users form new habits. If you’ve set a goal to work on your diet, be more productive, or otherwise change your habits, Coach.me can help. It’s available for Android, iOS, and the web. You get access to “coaches” who help you stay on track and work to meet your goals.

GoalsOnTrack is software that helps you set and meet goals, change habits, and complete tasks. You can set goals with milestones and actual achievable end results, then follow your progress. Your habits can be linked to certain goals, as well. There’s even a vision board so you can practice visualization. This software works for Android, iOS, and the web.

irunurun is another goal-setting app that focuses on setting attainable goals and staying accountable for your progress. Your goals can be given a certain weight or value depending on how important it is. You can score points and look at your progress. You are also held accountable by being on a team—others can see your progress, which makes reaching your goals a little more competitive, as well. irunurun is available for iOS and the web.

Way of Life is a good option if you’re into visuals. You can set goals and work on your habits, then look at a visual representation of your progress. There are bar charts and pie charts, plus a scoreboard. There are also many other features that help you keep up with your goals and habits. Way of Life is available for Android and iOS.

Use websites or apps for your New Year’s Eve party

Planning a New Year’s Eve party? Don’t stress. There are quite a few ways you can use the internet to easily plan your party.

Use countdown videos

If you don’t like (or don’t have access) to the typical live countdown on New Year’s Eve, you have options online! YouTube has plenty of NYE countdowns available. For instance, you might like to simply play the London Fireworks published by BBC or the Sydney Fireworks from ABC TV. There are also countdown videos with interesting effects, like this countdown video by Mandy Mathy. You can almost certainly find one that suits your party’s style.

Use a Spotify playlist

Don’t worry about music for your party! Spotify users have already made playlists for New Year’s Eve. Searching through them, you can find one that you think your guests will like. There’s the “Ultimate Party Playlist” or the “2018 New Year’s Eve NYE Party Playlist.” Or you could get a playlist started and let your friends add to it as the party gets closer.

Make planning simpler

Check out my article called “Organize Your Upcoming Events Online” for ways you can use the internet while planning your NYE shindig!

Know your resources for stress and other concerns

Many people struggle with things like stress and depression around the New Year. The holidays can be a stressful time, and they can be difficult for some. The best thing you can do for yourself is see a health professional so you can talk through your concerns. However, in the meantime, here are some apps or websites you might check out for self-care during the New Year:

College isn’t just for trust fund kids: free online courses offered by leading universities

College isn’t just for trust fund kids: free online courses offered by leading universities

I used to think higher education was only for geniuses or people with lots of money. I was working two jobs and barely getting by, and if someone hadn’t helped me figure out how to make use of the educational resources at my disposal, I would still be living paycheck to paycheck rather than building a career.

The truth is, it is easier than ever to get educated, and cheaper too. There are loads of resources at your fingertips if you know how to find them. But for many people, that is the sticking point: you have to know what you have access to in order to get an education, but if you aren’t in the educational system, chances are high that you don’t know what you have access to.

Of course, not all knowledge comes with a degree, and not all degrees come with all that much knowledge. There are plenty of degreed and degree-less options and plenty of jobs that value demonstration of skill above a degree. Depending on your goals and interests, a combination of the two is likely the best bet for most people.

Almost all degree courses cost money, but not all degrees guarantee a well-paying job, or even any job, while there are plenty of self-taught people working for leading companies all over the world.

You can take classes online, now more than ever. Most colleges in the U.S. recognize the value and convenience of the virtual classroom to teachers and students, although few offer full degrees online. Some classes lend themselves to a digital platform (like computer sciences) while others are more difficult, though not impossible. I took Spanish 101 online using video chatting software (like Skype) to communicate with my teacher and classmates, and it was difficult, though not impossible.

YouTube is the only thing that got me through a college algebra class with a bad teacher. Math is not my strongest suite (which is why I am an English major!), but I found a wealth of tutors on YouTube teaching everything I needed to know. I found one who explained things in a way that made sense to me and then watched whichever of his videos corresponded with what I was learning. I also found YouTube tutors for Spanish and learning Adobe Photoshop. The best part is that if they are moving too fast for you to follow along, you can pause or rewind the video.

  • Crash Course is a channel owned and operated by John and Hank Green (the Vlogbrothers) and a team of experts, aimed at providing an easy-to-follow and entertaining overview of topics like world history, biology, physics, literature, and more.
  • Sci Show is another channel by the same people focused on topics in science.

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) are courses offered online (mostly for free) through some of the best universities, like Stanford, Harvard, MIT, John Hopkins, and University of Michigan. Some offer a certification at the end of their courses—which, while it isn’t a degree, is at least something tangible to show your hard work. But a few do also offer actual college credit, which can be transferred to the school of your choice.

You can learn about data science, robotics, programming, business, social sciences, take foreign language classes, and more.

  • Coursera also offers four Masters Programs entirely online for a fee and intends to add 15 to 20 new degree programs by 2019.
  • edX is very similar to Coursera, so if you can’t find what you are looking for on one site, check the other.
  • Udacity is partnered with Google, Amazon, IBM and other leading tech companies to offer—surprise—training in the cutting edge technology of tomorrow. If you want to program websites, work on self-driving cars, develop artificial intelligence, or work with virtual reality, this may be the site for you. Some courses are free, some cost money. But all promise to set you up with real-world skills you can use to get into a career.
  • Kadenze is focused on the arts, giving students a footing in the software they need to create music, art, and design projects. It also allows students to access many of their resources for free, but a $10/month membership fee unlocks all the features of an actual online learning experience, as well as all the classes and a certificate of completion. That’s the cost of a Netflix membership!

 

ListenYo is the YouTube streaming service you’ve been looking for

ListenYo is the YouTube streaming service you’ve been looking for

YouTube users have been dreaming of this type of service for years, and with YouTube red a lot of those users were happy. But many of us just couldn’t bring ourselves to pay the monthly fee when comparing the service to other streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. ListenYo provides a web based YouTube streaming platform that lets you load the audio without the video, something that saves mobile users a ton of data and lets you listen with your phone screen off!

From their site:

ListenYo was created for one purpose – to allow mobile users to “listen” to YouTube, without loading video content.

This means:

  • Quick access to all YouTube videos in audio format
  • Up to 4 times less internet data, while keeping the same audio quality
  • Browse other apps while listening or turn off your screen, significantly reducing your mobile battery usage
  • Auto-play, repeat and all that jazz…

You can browse the entire YouTube library straight from the ListenYo site, and once you find the song or video you’re interested in hearing just click on it and the site converts your video into a streaming audio file. There’s virtually no waiting time for the conversion, assuming you have a decent connection, and in a second your “video” is playing right in your browser. You still get the related videos in a list below your streaming content just like you would on the actual YouTube site, and you can even go through the related videos and select the one you want to play next.

You can listen to videos without an account, but the site is run completely on donations so there are a few places where they ask you to consider making a contribution. There’s no obligation and there doesn’t seem to be any interruption in your listening by the company, their requests for donations are strictly in text form on the site.

Is it everything you’ve been looking for in a YouTube audio streaming experience? Maybe not, there are plenty of features from YouTube that don’t carry over to the ListenYo site, but for mobile users looking for a way to stream their favorite songs and other audio from YouTube without blowing through their data this is an amazing (and free!) product.

Check it out at Listenyo.com

Youtube unveils live TV service for cord cutters

Youtube unveils live TV service for cord cutters

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s  YouTube will launch a live TV service featuring U.S. broadcast networks and cable channels to attract young fans of online videos to a pay television package, YouTube executives said on Tuesday.

The new offering, called YouTube TV, will compete with other services fighting to attract mobile-loving younger audiences who dropped pricier, traditional cable and satellite packages or never signed up in the first place.

YouTube TV will be delivered over the internet and debut in the coming months at a cost of $35 a month for six accounts, YouTube Chief Executive Susan Wojcicki told reporters at an event in Los Angeles.

YouTube TV subscribers will be able to watch original programming that appears on YouTube Red, a subscription service that includes movies and shows starring popular YouTube video creators.

The development of the live TV package is an attempt to sell a new service to viewers hooked on YouTube’s free videos.

“Millennials love great TV content, but what we’ve seen is they don’t want to watch it in the traditional setting,” Wojcicki said.

YouTube TV will feature Walt Disney Co’s ABC, CBS Corp’s CBS, 21st Century Fox’s Fox and Comcast Corp’s (CMCSA.O) NBC plus cable channels including ESPN, USA and FX. It will launch initially in select U.S. markets.

The offering will compete with services such as Dish Network Corp’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Sony Corp’s PlayStation Vue. Those packages sell for roughly $20 to $65 a month. Hulu also is developing a live TV service.

All of the live digital services provide TV networks an avenue to make up for their loss of customers to “cord cutting,” or the dropping of pay TV. Channel owners say they earn as much or more for each subscriber on a live digital service as they do through cable or satellite packages.

YouTube executives said they aimed to make the YouTube TV app easy to use across mobile devices, desktop computers or an Internet-connected televisions. Users will be able to record programming on a cloud DVR and watch it for up to nine months. Engineers also are incorporating technology from Google, such as the ability to voice search TV shows through a Google Home device.

“Even though we are in this golden age of content, the current TV age isn’t doing it justice,” said Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer. “We feel we are in a great position to reinvent the way TV works.”

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles and Julia Love in San Francisco; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Andrew Hay)