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Cut The Cord: Wireless Portable Batteries That Charge By Touch

Portable batteries are a utility we hope ultimately becomes obsolete. But, for the time being, they’re pretty crucial when we need extra juice, and enable us to do a lot of things that weren’t possible before.

But beyond saving us when we’re in a power pinch, portable batteries are becoming gadgets in their own right–going wireless. Meaning: you don’t need any cables or cords in order to use it.

What’s so cool about a wireless portable battery?

No more cord clutter

These wireless-charging portable batteries mean that you no longer need to carry a lightning cable to charge your iPhone, and a Micro USB cable to charge the portable battery.

Freedom from outlets
– Wireless chargers are neat, but they still need to be plugged into an outlet to get power. These wireless portable batteries mean you can truly charge your phone anywhere.

Meta charging

A wireless portable battery can also be recharged wirelessly. Instead of needing to plug the battery into an outlet to recharge, you can place it on a wireless charging pad.

Multiple charging options

Perhaps the best thing about these new portable batteries is that you can still charge with a cable if you want. Wireless portable batteries are not getting rid of their ports, they’re just adding the wireless charging capability into the mix. They’re becoming super batteries.

It’s not all rainbows and ponies, but don’t worry

Consider these things.

Added size and weight

Right now, wireless portable batteries tend to be a little thicker and heavier than non-wireless batteries because of the extra hardware required inside.

No stow-and-go

With a charging cable, you can tether your phone to the battery and drop it in a purse or backpack. Not so with wireless portable batteries. The phone will slide around and not stay planted on the induction charging point.

Slower charging

Wireless charging can be slower than charging with a cable. iPhones can currently only charge up to 7.5W, which makes it just a tad faster than charging with the (minimum) 5W plug that comes with the phone.

But don’t let these minor sticking points deter you. Wireless portable batteries are still far more useful and interesting than non-wireless ones.

 

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These Frustrating iPhone Experiences Are Being Improved With iOS 12

ios

There are some huge improvements coming to iOS 12, when it’s released in the the fall,  like FaceTime getting 32 people group calling. But it’s not just the big and new things you should be excited for though.

There are minor improvements that will address huge pain points.

Grouped notifications

Instead of dozens of text messages mixed with a dozen Facebook notifications, notifications on the lock screen will be grouped by category and app, which should make it much easier to take in after being gone for a bit.

Photos inside iMessage

Photos will become more integrated into Messages. So you’ll get suggestions to share photos based on who you’re messaging with, what you’re talking about, and where you’ve taken photos together.

2FA codes auto populated

If you have 2factor authentication turned on for different websites, like Amazon, you’ll typically receive a code over text message to verify yourself. In iOS 12, the system will automatically detect this and copy the code so you don’t have to switch to the messages app. Just paste the code.

Alternative Face ID

In iOS 12 you’ll be able to set up an alternate face for Face ID. This means if you wear a mask for work or have a head dressings part of the time, the system will be able to authenticate based on multiple appearances.

Notifications delivered quietly

When a notification arrives on your lock screen, you’ll be able to 3D Touch (press hard on it) to see additional options. One of which is to have these notifications delivered silently to Notification Center. You won’t be interrupted, but still receive the notifications.

New Apple Music artist profiles

It’s a small tweak, for sure, but artist profiles in Apple Music will gain a play button so you can quickly start playing songs from an artist. When someone tells you to listen to a band, now you’ll have a place to start. Just press play.

Siri with food knowledge

Siri will now know about food and be able to tap into the USDA database, to find these about calories, vitamins, and how healthy a food is overall.

English thesaurus added

iOS has had a built in dictionary for a long long time, but it’s getting a thesaurus. Highlight a word, nearly anywhere on your phone and get synonyms and related concepts for words.

Longer Animoji

In iOS 11, Animoji clips could be 10 seconds. Now you can record clips of up to 30 seconds and send those as a video to other people.

Multiple keyword search in Photos

Searching photos is tough, but it should get a least a little easier with the ability to combine keywords in searches, like “surfing” and “vacation,” for even better results. The system is automatically detecting items in the photos, so there’s no additional work for you.

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5 Totally Unexpected Ways To Use A Portable Battery

Usually when people think of a portable battery (also called power bank) they think about charging phones. That’s great, but portable batteries are compatible with nearly any device that uses USB for power.

If you don’t own a portable battery yet, it essentially moves the wall outlet into your pocket or bag and enables more things not possible before.

Electrify your couch

Getting comfy on a couch typically requires being too far from an outlet to plug in and watch TV at the same time. Take a portable battery and stick it between your couch cushions to enable a completely charged Saturday of binge watching.

Pedal power

Have you ever noticed the bike icon on Google Maps while your getting driving directions? There’s more ways to get somewhere besides driving and walking. If you do spend a few hours riding a bike with GPS navigation on (and probably playing music too) you’ll want to be plugged in.

Strap a portable battery to your bike frame and make sure your phone is full when you reach your destination.

Gaming the gaming headphones

Wireless headphones let you sit comfortably on the couch while playing Xbox or PlayStation, but, unfortunately, most don’t have great battery life. Don’t wait for them to die before charging. Connect a portable battery and you can sit where you like, for as long as you want.

Separately (but still on video games), Nintendo’s Switch console uses USB Type-C for power, and hooking it up to a portable battery will keep it going for more than the few hours delivered by its internal battery.

Don’t let the music stop

When you go camping, hit the beach all day, or spend a weekend in your own backyard, you can easily extend the life of your Bluetooth speaker by adding a portable battery.

Sit anywhere at Starbucks

Did you know that if your laptop has a USB Type-C port you can most likely charge your laptop from a portable battery? There are a few requirements to consider, but carrying a portable battery for your laptop instead of needing to be parked in that one seat in Starbucks can be a lifesaver (or work-saver).

If your laptop doesn’t have USB Type-C, there are also a few portable batteries which will have an AC plug for more general use like this one from Jackery. Warning: these batteries with AC outlets aren’t cheap.

If you’re unsure of the different USB connectors and cable types, check out our super simple guide.

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6 Apps That Solve Your Small But Super Annoying Problems

Ever have a small, but important need and wish there was an app to address it without a bunch of extra bells and whistles? Here are 6 single purpose, dead simple apps that address those small but super annoying issues.

Shades: Selfie reflections in your sunglasses be gone

The problem: taking a sun glasses selfie without a reflection. Shades removes the reflection and all is right again. This is a single function app, with no tricks, just super useful.

Dreams: Mobile TV for the easily bored

The problem: TV on my phone quickly. Dreams is trying out Snapchat with a new vision of mobile TV. Open the app, and swipe through the “channels.” Some of the channels even include just clouds floating by with music. But maybe this is what you need to fill six minutes of your day.

Sticky: Auto crop people in photos

The problem: how do I crop the background out of this picture and keep the people? Sticky uses AI to automatically crop people from the picture they are in. You don’t have to do anything. You can then add a solid colored background or delete the background completely. Hint: this is great for creating GIFs  and stickers.

Fast: Check your internet connection speed

The problem: web pages or videos are loading slow and you don’t know why. Fast will tell you what speed the cell or Wi-Fi connection is coming to your device.  Simple as that. It’s an app and a website.

Tailor: Stitch mobile screenshots together

The problem: taking a screenshot of a long page on your phone. Tailor takes a bunch of screenshots and will stitch them together automatically using, of course, AI, to figure where they line up.

Background: New wallpaper for your phone

The problem: the wallpaper on your phone gets stale. Background is an app full of wallpapers for your phone. No ads, no pop ups, no annoying junk. If you want to save one, hold on the picture and it saves to your photo library. If you want to search or bookmark favorites, you can upgrade to the paid version, otherwise it’s a curated flow of nice looking photos to choose from.

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All The Things Apple Just Announced At WWDC 2018

wwdc 2018

Apple just announced a bunch of new software features for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and the Mac. There was no new iPads or laptops, just a bunch of coming software features. While there was quite a few items Apple talked about, a lot of it can be skipped over. Here’s what you need-to-know, along with all the rest if you’re curious.

Here’s what’s new and cool

iOS 12

  • Group FaceTime – talk and see to up to 32 people in a single group video call, working across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. You can also put a live-moving emoji over your face during the video call.
  • Siri Shortcuts app – a new way to easily automate multiple tasks. For example, you can say “heading home,” and it will pull up directions, send a ETA text message to someone, play a radio station, and turn on a Homekit connected fan or home device, all with a single voice phrase.
  • Animoji/Memojitongue’s will be detected in Animoji, so it will track more of your face. Plus, there will be new Memoji which you can make personalized emoji that track your face–think Bitmoji from Apple.

 

Apple Watch

  • Walkie-Talkie app – connect with a specific person, tap and hold to talk, let go and the audio message is sent to them. It’s a mix of audio and text messaging, made super quick directly from the watch.

Apple TV

  • Screensavers – although minor, aerial screensavers have long been a loved part of Apple TV. They soon will gain titles so you know the location, and there will be photos taken directly from the International Space Station. 

Mac computers

  • macOS Mojave – there will be a dark mode which will ight mode

Here’s what’s boring

As a quick disclaimer, these things may still be neat, useful, or crucially important for cool things in the future, but as of right now, we’re counting them as snoozers compared to the other announcements.

iOS 12

  • Photos improvements – new search suggestions, a new For You section with smarter recommendations for sharing, as well as surfacing old photos. 
  • Siri improvements  – new shortcuts with quick actions to Siri, from your custom phrases.
  • Updated old apps – Apple News refreshed, Stocks refreshed, Voice Memos coming to iPad, and iBooks becoming Books with both audio books and ebooks.
  • Do Not Disturb improvements – it can be turned on based on location or calendar event so your phone will be muted just during a meeting.
  • App limits – set a usage limit for a certain app and then once the limit is reached, it deters you from using the app.
  • ARKit 2.0 – more ways to use augmented reality, like being able to see the same thing through your phone that other people see through theirs.
  • Performance – iOS 12 will focus on making older phones and iPads feel faster and work better.

Apple Watch

  • Workouts – more functionality for workouts, including tracking Yoga.
  • Better notification – enhanced notifications, including web content formatted for your wrist.

Apple TV

  • *crickets* – there wasn’t a whole lot new here…. Did we mention screensavers?

Mac computers

  • Camera continuity – just like you can click over to bring up web pages or messages on your Mac that you’re currently browsing on your phone, you’ll be able to use your phone’s camera to instantly capture photos for your computer–like adding photos to a presentation, for example.
  • iPhone and iPad apps coming to the Mac in 2019 – this was a sneak peek, but developers will be able to more easily bring their phone apps to macOS, which means you’ll have more app choices in the next few years.
  • New apps – Apple News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home, are all coming to the Mac

When is this stuff coming?

Most of these new features will be coming in the fall when iOS and macOS are released to the pubic. In a few months you’ll be able to take advantage of all these things mentioned here.

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The Latest Apple Rumors And What New Things You Can Expect From WWDC

apple wwdc

Here comes Apple season. Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is approaching on June 4th and news from the company will soon dominate the internet.

Why should you care? It’s here that Apple lays out its software plans for the coming year, meaning: we find out about all new features that your current phone will gain in the near future.

But it’s not just fancy new software, Apple has announced new hardware products in the past, and could this year as well. What will we see announced on June 4th? Here are our best predictions…

Likely

  • iOS 12 – There will be a new operating system for iPhones and iPads announced. The focus of this release is thought to be mostly bug fixes–said in a fun marketing way of course. (But that’s big, people don’t like glitches and stuff not working.)

    So far, a lot of the features will revolve around augmented reality, digital wellness, and group FaceTime calls. The latest reports indicate that FaceTime and Face ID will gain new horizontal orientations.

    Google targeted digital wellness at its conference in May and introduced things like App Timer, Wind Down, and an enhanced usage dashboard.
  • AirPods and AirPower – AirPods are everywhere. People love them. A new wireless charging case was teased alongside the AirPower charging mat in 2017, but we still haven’t seen either of those items in the last nine months. We have to see these at WWDC, right?
  • Apple Watch – There’s a new Apple Watch coming this year, the question is whether its in June or later in the fall. Almost certainly, though, we’ll see new software and features for the watch. There’s nearly 100% chance that those new features focus around health and fitness, which is great, but can we get some new watch faces too?

Possible

  • HomePod – The HomePod is fresh off its February launch, so it’s almost impossible that we see a new speaker, but, hopefully, we see new features and capabilities which would show that Apple is serious about competing with Amazon’s Echo. “Hey Siri, can you add add calendar events from HomePod yet?”
  • New Laptops – The latest iterations of Apple’s MacBook Pros have been the best selling, but have not been the best received. There’s a (presumably small) group of people not happy with the build quality of the latest keyboard version. It’s very likely we see a new generation of MacBook Pro laptops make a debut and iterate on the keyboard quality and feel–in addition to general computer speed increases.

No Way

Whenever we do hear, though, it will be exciting. Just imagine being able to use your iPhone apps (appropriately sized and nice looking) on your Mac.

Even if all these items get announced at WWDC, does that make a satisfying keynote event? Are there any other wildcard announcements? The only other plausible thing is brand new, bezel-less, iPhone X-like, iPad Pros, but most likely we won’t see those until the fall.

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If You’re Addicted To Your Phone, Try This Gray Hack

gray phone face

You’re addicted to your phone and want to to do something about it, but are still having a hard time disconnecting. Well, there might be a way to trick yourself into not overusing your phone on a daily basis.

The hack is to turn your phone grayscale, and it works simply because it makes your phone less appealing.

According to the New York Times, app makers are actually working with companies to scan “electrical activity of the brain while a consumer is interacting with a phone, such as texting and scrolling Facebook.”

They know that using certain colors can help draw you to tap on their app over a different one, and your attention is extremely valuable to them.

Turning your phone gray effectively makes scrolling through Instagram about as visually appealing as scrolling through your work email.

gray home

Going gray will be a punch to the eyes

When I first said goodbye to color and enabled grayscale, my first reaction was: Wow, this is surprisingly relaxing. It’s awesome to see an iPhone X with bright, vivid colors, but, on the flip side, grey tones can be very calming and pleasant on the eyes.

Additionally, the playing field is leveled. Each of the apps on your homescreen is now equal to the one next to it. In that way, it’s a bit jarring that no one app is luring your eyes more than another.

After activating grayscale, I was constantly reminded that I was using my phone. I felt a lot less compelled to aimlessly browse and poke around with the dull shades, versus a bright and stimulating array of color.

gray map

As relaxing and interesting as the phone is to look at through grayscale eyes, I think it’d take a very long time ignore the lack of color.

Interestingly, Google just announced its focus on digital wellness, which included a bunch of uses of gray to help people disconnect easier. One it will be implementing is  Wind Down which fades your phone screen from color to gray once it reaches a preset bedtime.

I have a feeling we’ll begin to see a new, obvious trend in how companies use color, or a lack thereof; and how they acknowledge the importance of being able to disconnect.

What to give gray a go?

Here’s how:

Settings app > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Color Filters > toggle Color Filters on > select Grayscale from the list underneath

(Should you have a visual disability, this may also serve as a reminder that selecting between the available color filters may help you see your phone better in general.)

Note: this feature is just a filter for what you’re seeing. It does not affect how the phone normally behaves. For example, if you take a send a picture, it’s still taken in color. If you take a screenshot, it’s still in color. You’re not forcing others to live the grayscale lifestyle too.

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9 Hidden iPhone Settings That Will Change Everything

control center iphone

Want to blow your mind? Open the settings app on your iPhone and be amazed at what helpful features are hiding there that could change how you use your phone every day.

Type better one handed

You can make the keyboard slide over to the left or right hand side of your screen which makes it easier to use with one hand.

Settings->General->Keyboard->One Handed Keyboard

You can also long press on the emoji icon anywhere the keyboard comes up and select the keyboard screen location.

Access more apps from the lock screen

On iOS 11 (the newest version) you can customize which icons and shortcuts you see on Control Center (the screen with brightness and calculator).

Settings->Control Center->Customize Controls

You can make shortcuts to a bunch of fun things, including screen recording.

See your notifications from across the room

Want your phone to light up each time you get a message or notification so you’ll have a visual cue for new notification? This works great at loud venues, but isn’t so bright that it’s annoying at home.

Settings->General->Accessibility->Hearing section->LED Flash for Alerts

Clear out old junk

Even if you’re not stressed over space on your phone, you may want to get rid of large and forgotten pictures, videos, or gifs piling up in your messages.

Settings->General->iPhone Storage->Review Large Attachments

You can also see these under the details of individual messages, but checking this from the settings pools all the attachments together for an easier view.

Know your phone’s battery health

If you think you’re battery isn’t lasting as long as it used to – especially if your phone is more than 2 years old – you can check that. You can also see if your phone is slowing down to keep your battery from shutting off your phone. More battery info available in our other posts.

Settings->Battery->Battery Health (Beta)

Find old passwords

When you enter a password on a website and Safari asks if you want to save it, there’s actually a place they are going. Next time you need to find a password that you haven’t used in a while, check here.

Settings->Accounts & Passwords->App & Website Passwords

Let people know you’ve seen their message

text message

Turn on read receipts so people can see if you’ve read your messages.

Settings->Messages-> Send Read Receipts

You can turn it on individually, for a few significant others you’d never ghost. This isn’t about people ignoring you, but it’s nice to know whether they’re busy and just haven’t seen the message yet.

I mean, it’d be nice to know whether your spouse saw the text about needing deli meat from the grocery store and realize you should give them a call before it’s too late.

On a specific message tap the circled i in the top right corner and then turn on read receipts. (Tell the other person to turn this on for you if you want to see too!)

Locate your parked car

apple parked car

You can turn on and off whether Apple Maps automatically drops a pin on the location of where you parked your car so you can find it later. This is for all the Apple Maps users out there.

Settings->Maps->Show Parked Location

Keep the camera on the last used mode

The default action for the camera app is to go back to “photo” next time you use it (after a few minutes). You can change that so it always opens with the last mode you used, i.e. panorama, video, square, etc…

Settings->Camera->Preserve Settings->Camera Mode

You can also have it default to your last used lighting and filter options under the same settings menu.

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The Best Podcast App Includes This One Amazing Feature

podcast app

There are a dozen decent apps that you can use to listen to podcasts across Android and iOS; but they’ve become so similar that the biggest difference is how they look.

Podcast apps like Castro and Apple’s default podcast app are fine and provide plenty of functionality, but, after venturing out and trying some new ones, I found it nearly impossible to switch away from the podcast app Overcast, for one simple reason:

Overcast includes a feature called Smart Speed.

overcast podcast app

Smart Speed shortens the silence gaps between people speaking and helps you get through podcast episodes quicker, without having to listen to the whole thing at an unnatural speed.

Typically, if you want to listen to something faster, you play the whole thing at 1.25x or 1.5x the original speed. Speeding the whole thing up doesn’t sound great and can make listening harder. Dynamically shortening the silence between talking, moves things along without making people sound funny.

Smart Speed sounds neat, but is making the short time between people speaking really saving that much time? Yes. After two years, Smart Speed has trimmed 77 hours off the podcasts I’ve listened to inside Overcast.

Put another way, I’ve saved more than 3 days of listening time.

smart speed overcast

In addition to Smart Speed, another feature called Smart Resume now intelligently resumes playing a few seconds earlier than when the episode was paused or stopped (without starting in the middle of a word). A less significant feature, but equally as nice to have.

Overall, Overcast is a fantastic podcast playing app and well worth trying out–especially because it’s the only app to have a Smart Speed type of feature. It’s available for iPhones and iPads in the App Store.