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16
Dec

Gear VR gets social with Oculus Rooms and Parties


A few months ago at Oculus’ annual developer conference, the company announced a couple of social VR features known simply as Parties and Rooms. Parties is basically built-in voice chat, while Rooms is a virtual hangout space. Today, those features are finally live, at least for the Gear VR; Rift users will have to wait until 2017. Combined, Parties and Rooms are part of Oculus’ continued efforts to prove that virtual reality can be used not just to play games, but also to connect people from around the world.

I had the opportunity to try out both features earlier this week in a short demo in San Francisco. Once I put the headset on and launched into the Oculus Home screen, the Parties interface appeared on the right. It looks very much like any other social chat app; you can see a list of your friends as well as who’s online at the time. You can also see the title of the game they’re playing, if any. To start chatting, tap on the Party tab, choose who you want to add and then hit “Start a Party.” If you’re invited to a party, joining it is also as simple as tapping a button. “Think of it like a phone call,” said Madhu Muthukumar, a product manager for Oculus. Right now you’re only able to chat with up to four people, though Oculus might increase that number in the future.

But while Parties is like making a phone call, Rooms is akin to inviting your buddies over. Once you have your Party all set up, maybe you want to “see” and interact with your friends instead of just hearing their voices. If that’s the case, you can join a Room right from the Parties interface. I was invited to a Room by Mike LeBeau, a product manager for Oculus who was in London at the time. As soon as I accepted, I was transported to a virtual living room of sorts. Before I knew it, I was hanging out with virtual avatars for both LeBeau and Muthukumar, and I, too, was an avatar.

The virtual Room is separated into a few different areas. In one you can change the appearance of your avatars; in another space you can watch videos together; the tabletop area is where you play simple board or card games; and there’s yet another space dedicated to just sitting around and chatting. In front of each avatar is a floating tablet of sorts, which essentially acts as your controls. You can also teleport from one area to another by selecting it with your gaze and tapping the headset’s touchpad.

What I found particularly interesting is that the virtual avatars moved around as they spoke. They would look directly at me as they were speaking to me, and their mouths moved in sync to what they were saying. LeBeau tells me that the avatar movement mimics what you’re doing with your own head, thanks to the accelerometers and gyroscopes in the phone. Similarly, the mouth movement is synced to the sound the software picks up from the microphone. It seems odd to say this, but just those simple head and mouth movements made me feel like we were right there in the room together, even though we were in completely separate locations.

Oculus has experimented with social experiences before, like Oculus Video where you can watch movies together. But Rooms and Parties is the next step. “We want you to feel like being in VR is sort of the same as being in real life,” said Muthukumar. “You can hang out, watch videos together, play games and talk with your friends.” Additionally, if you get tired of the virtual avatars, you can also have the entire Party leap into a multiplayer game together, as long as the title supports it.

Right now, Oculus’ social efforts are completely separate from the social VR experience we saw from Facebook, where you could “travel” to locations together and take virtual selfies with your pals. Still, that’s where Oculus also wants to be. “That’s the aspirational push-the-envelope of VR. It’s what we all hope it can be,” said Muthukumar. “We both [Facebook and Oculus] believe that VR will be best when people connect human experiences.” But in order to get there you have to take baby steps, which is what Rooms and Parties represent.

“It’s cool to ‘meet’ someone who’s literally all the way from somewhere else in the world,” he said. “We’re excited about it. We think there’s some early magic here.”

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16
Dec

Lenovo is bringing Chrome OS to its Yoga Book next year


Lenovo already debuted Android and Windows versions of its Yoga Book and it’s planning to add a Chrome OS option next year. Laptop Magazine reports that the third version of the hybrid gadget that ditched a traditional keyboard in favor of a touch surface for both typing and scribbling was confirmed during an interview with Lenovo vice president Jeff Meredith. Meredith oversees Android and Chrome devices for the company.

Meredith explained that Lenovo has had “a lot of interest” in a Chrome OS version of the Yoga Book. He went on to say that the device could be a solid option for schools due to its rather unique design. And yes, the Chrome model will still support the Yoga Book’s so-called Real Pen stylus. With that accessory, you can write on the pressure sensitive keyboard surface.

There’s no exact timing for a release date, but Meredith did say Lenovo plans to “maintain the three distinctive products throughout this year at least.” Perhaps that means we’ll see that new model soon enough.

Via: The Verge

Source: Laptop Magazine

16
Dec

The best digital photo frames


By Amadou Diallo

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After 18 hours of research and testing, we think the 10-inch Nixplay Seed is the best digital photo frame for most people who want to display pictures uploaded wirelessly from their smartphones, hard drives, or social media and cloud storage accounts. Its superior display and simple setup lift it above the competition, and because you can send photos to the frame via Nixplay’s cloud services, email, or a shared Dropbox folder, if you give one as a gift you can share photos directly to your loved ones’ frames, even if they’re halfway across the world.

How we picked and tested

We brought in eight frames for several days of use in a home environment. Photo: Amadou Diallo

We cut through the clutter of the 1,600 digital photo frames listed on Amazon by limiting contenders according to some key criteria. In a poll of more than 200 Wirecutter readers, two-thirds of respondents said they were interested in frames sized between 8 and 11 inches. On top of that, with even budget compact cameras delivering 20-megapixel images, using a low-resolution frame makes no sense, so we looked for screens with a resolution of at least 1024×768 pixels. And because smartphones (and several stand-alone cameras) capture images in a 4:3 aspect ratio, we ignored frames with 16:9 displays, because they force you to crop those photos or to present them with large black borders on two sides.

Using these criteria we had only 10 frames to consider, eight of which we brought in for testing. Onto each frame, we loaded identical sets of images shot on cameras ranging from smartphones to DSLRs. We compared image quality, functionality, and ease of use while working with the frames for several days in various rooms of our tester’s home.

Our pick

The Nixplay Seed delivers great-looking pictures, offers easy setup, and lets you manage your images efficiently. Photo: Amadou Diallo

After 18 hours of research and testing to figure out which features are essential in a digital photo frame, plus hands-on time with eight contenders in a home environment, we think the Nixplay Seed is the best choice for most people. Its 10-inch display produces pleasing color and contrast in a 4:3 aspect ratio that’s perfect for smartphone photos. Setup is quick and foolproof, and built-in Wi-Fi lets you import photos from your social media, email, or cloud accounts. And a clever cord/stand design lets you position the frame in either portrait or landscape orientation.

We tested the 10-inch version of the Seed (7- and 8-inch models are also available) and found that its IPS display produced pleasingly accurate results along with a wide viewing angle, ensuring that images looked great from every corner of the room. The screen’s 4:3 aspect ratio is a perfect match for smartphone (and Micro Four Thirds) camera sensors, which means your images can display across the entire screen. Sensors in DSLRs and many mirrorless cameras have a slightly different 3:2 aspect ratio, so those images will have a black border along two sides. The mismatch is subtle enough, however, that we think some people won’t even notice it. In any case, this display is a better fit than what you’d get on a frame with a 16:9 aspect ratio. For more on the Seed’s features, check out our full guide.

If you don’t need Wi-Fi

The Nixplay Advance has ports for an SD card, a USB stick, and headphones. Nixplay includes an 8 GB USB stick, shown here. Photo: Amadou Diallo

If you can do without the convenience of wirelessly uploading images, Nixplay’s Nix Advance will save you a significant bit of cash and still provide all of the other benefits of our top pick. You get the same great screen, motion sensor, and remote, along with easy setup and operation. We tested the 10-inch model, but the Advance also comes in 8-, 12-, 15-, and 18-inch versions (the last has a 16:9 aspect ratio).

The lack of Wi-Fi means you’ll be loading images via SD card slot or USB port. The Advance has no built-in storage like our top and budget picks, but Nixplay helpfully includes an 8 GB USB stick to get you going. If you’re a Mac owner, note that you should format SD cards in your camera rather than your computer in order for the Advance to read them, and if you use your own USB stick, it should be in the MS-DOS (FAT) format.

(Potentially) free alternatives

Amazon Fire tablet

The 16:9 aspect ratio of the Amazon Fire is a major mismatch with most photos. Photo: Amadou Diallo

If you own an iOS or Android tablet that isn’t getting much use, you already have a capable digital photo frame if you’re willing to spend some time sorting through slideshow apps and finding an appropriate stand. We set up a new Amazon Fire tablet—one of the least expensive brand-name tablets you can buy—to see how easy it would be to use as a photo frame.

The 16:9 aspect ratio of the Amazon Fire tablet means that none of your photos will fill the frame without significant cropping, instead showing thick black borders on two sides. The Fire also lacks a built-in slideshow function, and Amazon’s app store is much more limited than those of Google and Apple. We tried the Amazon app store’s two most popular slideshow apps, and after an hour—much of it spent spent trying unsuccessfully to connect either of them to Amazon’s Prime Photos cloud storage service—we used a Flickr account and were able to create a basic slideshow. But if you have an old tablet stuffed in a drawer, it’s hard to beat free. And if you want to use a digital photo frame only occasionally, like for family gatherings around the holidays, the Amazon Fire can be an inexpensive way to pull that off.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

16
Dec

Dwarf planet Ceres is ‘oozing’ with water


Scientists already knew via remote observations that Ceres, the dwarf planet (or humongous asteroid if you prefer), has plenty of water in it. The Dawn probe has now revealed that the asteroid is composed of as much as 30 percent water at the poles, explaining its ice volcano and weird bright spots. “It’s just oozing,” Planetary Science Institute’s Thomas Prettyman told Nature, adding that you’d “just swipe and find the ice table” at Ceres’ northern pole.

After entering an orbit around 240 miles above Ceres, Dawn pointed its Gamma Ray and Neutrino Detector (GRaND) instrument at the surface. It was able to glean the water mass by measuring the decay of gamma-rays and neutrons within a few dozen yards of its surface. That gave the team the amount of hydrogen near the surface, from which they deduced the amount of water, present either as ice or locked inside surface minerals.

Overall, Ceres could be 17 to 30 percent water by weight, which is a lot, as the quasi-planet weighs around 1 quintillion (a million trillion, or 1 x 10^18) tons. That makes around 0.2-0.3 quintillion tons of water at the high end of the scale, which is not a lot less than the Earth, relatively speaking. Our planet has about 15 quintillion tons of ocean water, but is over 10 times larger in diameter than Ceres.

Scientists have theorized that liquid water once flowed inside Ceres during the early years of our solar system. Once it got colder, surface ice sublimated (passed straight from a solid to a gas) at the equators of Ceres, either dissipating into space or forming a very thin atmosphere. However, in the colder, high-latitude areas, “water can survive within a meter of the surface over Ceres’ 4.5 billion year lifetime,” according to the paper. As we’ve seen with ice volcanoes, it’s still playing havoc beneath its surface.

Source: Nature

16
Dec

Twitter Testing Out iOS Redesign That Turns ‘Retweet’ Icon Into ‘Sharing’ Button


Twitter has confirmed to TechCrunch that the social network is performing a small scale test for some of its iOS users, changing the popular “retweet” icon into an new “share” button. “Retweet” and “quote tweet” are now simply options to pick from within the “share” menu.

Additionally, the arrow that currently indicates a prompt to reply to a tweet has been overhauled into a small speech bubble icon. The change to the reply button is purely cosmetic and doesn’t functionally alter how the feature works, but the “share” option is introducing a few new choices into the sub-menu.

In addition to the expected “retweet” and “quote tweet” buttons, when users click on “share,” they are discovering new “send by direct message” and “share tweet” options. Currently in the iOS Twitter app, send by direct message is a one-tap option below each tweet represented by a small envelope, which has now been removed.

“Share tweet” lets users spread a tweet to other platforms. In its current state on the iOS app, it can be found by tapping a small, easily missable down arrow in the top right corner of the screen, after clicking on the tweet to expand it and get more information. Both the current and potentially new options bring up Apple’s usual share card.

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In its confirmation to TechCrunch, Twitter said that its purpose for the test is “to see how it changed behavior on the site,” seemingly hoping to make it easier for users to send links to friends and family members with the new share options, boosting engagement in the process.

“We’re testing new icons on Tweets to evaluate how this impacts the way that people use Twitter,” a spokesperson said in an email.

Another reason for the change is rumored to be Twitter’s acquiescence to “more established social media norms” that have been popularized by other social networks, with Twitter hoping that “share” is more recognizable and understandable by new users than Twitter-specific lingo like “retweet.” In the new tests, “retweet” still exists, it’s just buried under a newly named button. So if this part of Twitter’s decision is true, it’s still not clear why “retweet” would exist in any form within the app.

twitter-share-button The new share button includes four options: retweet, quote tweet, send by direct message, and share tweet
This would also fall in line with the company’s decision to change “stars” and “favorites” to “likes” and “hearts,” two terms Facebook users are undoubtedly familiar with at this point. The move to a speech bubble from the curved “reply” arrow might also make it easier for new users to navigate the app, thanks to its similarity to app icons like iMessages. As with the sharing option, this has the potential to boost user engagement, which Twitter has been having trouble with this year.

It’s the same reason Twitter would change the reply arrow to a speech bubble: Twitter is looking for more understandable iconography, and having too many arrows was, again, confusing to anyone less familiar with Twitter beyond very regular, existing users. Having a speech bubble icon may also prove to remind people to react more frequently, boosting engagement — a key metric that Twitter, as an ad-based service, needs to grow (especially since user growth has largely been flat).

The details of how long the test might go on for were left unspecified, but one Twitter insider also mentioned that there are “a bunch” of tests being performed at the company, so it’s impossible to say which change will become a permanent mainstay for its users. Twitter has been rolling out updates to compete with the growing popularity of Snapchat and Instagram, most recently adding in live video to its mobile apps earlier this week.

Tag: Twitter
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16
Dec

OnePlus baffled that Flipkart is discounting the OnePlus 3 — a phone it isn’t authorised to sell


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Flipkart isn’t letting an exclusivity agreement come in the way of a discount.

Since its inception, OnePlus has tied up with Amazon India to be the exclusive retail partner for its phones in the country. That’s the case for the OnePlus 3 as well, but it looks like Amazon’s chief competitor, Flipkart, didn’t get the message. In a banner ad highlighting its upcoming Big Shopping Days, Flipkart is touting a discount of at least ₹8,000 ($120) on the OnePlus 3, bringing the phone to under ₹20,000 ($295). To put things into context, Amazon India is selling the OnePlus 3 for ₹27,999 ($415).

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The discount is certainly enticing, but there’s one catch: Flipkart isn’t authorised to sell the OnePlus 3 in India. The move caught OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei by surprise as well, who called out Flipkart’s co-founder Sachin Bansal on Twitter:

.@_sachinbansal brother, what’s this? We’re exclusive with @amazonIN pic.twitter.com/0QBoyagoXz

— Carl Pei (@getpeid) December 16, 2016

OnePlus India issued the following statement, reiterating its commitment to Amazon:

OnePlus is focused on creating premium flagship smartphones. We have an exclusive partnership with Amazon in India. We advice customers to purchase OnePlus products only through official channels as we cannot guarantee the authenticity of the products sold elsewhere.

OnePlus is absolutely within its rights to deny warranty for units sold via Flipkart. We don’t know why Flipkart thought it was a good move to discount a product that’s exclusive to another retailer, but it’s in very poor taste. It isn’t like OnePlus is looking to expand its presence in India by making its phones available on other e-commerce platforms. The company’s partnership with Amazon India is going really well, with the retailer set to carry the Chinese manufacturer’s phones exclusively for the foreseeable future.

In a recent forum post, Pei said that picking Amazon to be the launch partner was “one of the best things we’ve done:”

The first time Pete and I met with Amit, head of Amazon India, things clicked. We spent the entire meeting talking about culture, the importance of being consumer-centric, as well as how to think long term. If we could align on culture and principles, we figured that details would be easy to take care of. And that’s how things actually unfolded. Working with an exclusive partner is like getting married. When we entered India, every brand was married to a platform. Today, the Amazon OnePlus marriage is the only one that remains in India.

It isn’t hard to see why Flipkart would want to sell the OnePlus 3. The handset is one of the most popular on Amazon, and for under ₹30,000, it is the best phone you can currently buy in the country.

Although Flipkart is the leader in the e-commerce segment, Amazon is closing in on the retailer. Earlier this month, Flipkart’s co-founder Sachin Bansal urged the Indian government to roll out policies to favor “homegrown companies:”

What we need to do is what China did (15 years ago) and tell the world we need your capital, but we don’t need your companies.

That statement is particularly rich coming from Flipkart, a company that is registered in Singapore. That’s before you consider that U.S.-based Tiger Global owns a 30% stake in the retailer. With Amazon heavily investing in the country — to the tune of $3 billion — Flipkart is running out of options, and it looks like will now resort to any measure to get a leg up.

16
Dec

Best Apps of 2016


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Our favorite apps of 2016.

Apps are becoming the glue that connects all of our mobile experiences together. Messaging apps, productivity tools, and mapping utilities come together to make our Android-powered computers worth using. It’s really hard to choose a favorite, but we’ll try.

Andrew Martonik — Pocket Casts

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I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I switch devices far more often than is probably advisable, and that’s why Pocket Casts has been my favorite app of the year. Not only is the app itself sleek, powerful and easy to use, but its cross-device syncing is a total lifesaver.

I use Pocket Casts every single day across various phones, tablets, computers and Google Cast devices, and everything always syncs and works just as you expect. It’s a critical part of my daily routine and one of the apps I always have to have on my devices.

Download Pocket Casts ($3.99)

Daniel Bader — NBA

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NBA isn’t a new app, but in 2016, for the beginning of the new basketball season, it got a serious overhaul, and my goodness is it fantastic. With a League Pass you can watch nearly every game while delving into stats, news, and video clips.

That’s all good, but what’s really great is the live game-watching experience: multiple feeds, player-specific camera angles and, new for this year, a mobile-friendly feed for nearly every game that zooms in on the action so you can get more of it while watching on a phone or tablet. Great stuff, and a must-have for any NBA fan.

Download NBA (free)

Russell Holly — Vysor

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Vysor is, more often than not, the first app I install on a phone nowadays. It saves me from physically jumping between multiple phones when I’m testing features or taking screenshots, and it always works.

Download Vysor (free)

Alex Dobie — Google Photos

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Google Photos ranks as not only my favorite app of the past year, but one of my most-used on whatever happens to be my current phone. It’s ensured the mess of pics I end up taking on Android devices, regular cameras — and even the occasional iOS device — are all sorted and together in one place. On phones with minimal internal storage (cough32GBPixelcough) it’s a great way to make sure your photos don’t eat up too much space, with built-in cloud backup.

Most of all, the best thing about Photos is how easily (and intelligently) it lets you sort through that mess of images, automatically grouping similar faces and intelligently recognizing scenes, locations and objects. (And, thanks to the same AI magic, being smart enough to tell a hamburger from a plain old sandwich.) Throw in occasional gifts like animated GIFs and auto-panoramas from the “Assistant” tab, and you’ve got one hell of an app.

Download Google Photos (free)

Florence Ion — Allo

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Give Allo a chance, won’t you? I still think it’s one of the most compelling app releases of the year, even if it’s not very popular, to say the least. Adding text message integration would be a step in the right direction, but until then, I’ll keep using Allo to chat exclusively with my husband. It’s the one app that lets us both use Google Assistant at the same time and I’m looking forward to how that evolves and manifests when Conversation Actions come into play.

Download Allo (free)

Marc Lagace — Duo

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The arrival of Google’s video calling app Duo came at a time when I was already looking to reconnect with some friends and family living far away. I recommended we skip Skype and try out Duo, and was instantly impressed with how easy and smooth the experience was.

Duo is 1-on-1 video calling done right. Not only is it simple enough for even the most tech-illiterate family members to use, but thanks to Google developing Duo for both Android and iOS devices, there’s no platform lock-in to worry about. I like the “knock knock” function that lets you see who’s calling you before you accept, and I’ve found it to be equally reliable whether I’m at home on Wi-Fi or out and about using data. The lack of a desktop version doesn’t phase me at all, since I always have my phone on me anyways.

Duo is just downright simple and fun to use, and definitely my go-to voice calling app from now on.

Download Duo (Free)

Jen Karner — Ebates

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In the last year I’ve moved from making most of my purchases at brick and mortar locations, to buying most of the things I need online. Between dozens of different stores, I can always find what I’m looking for, but I try to save money wherever I can.

That’s where Ebates comes in. By using the app before I check out at a specific store, I can make myself a little bit of money while buying the things I need to get through each day. Different stores have different deals, but in general I can get at least 1% cashback on my purchases, paid out 4 times over the course of the year. For folks who want to pinch pennies, or are on a tight budget, this is a great way to make back some of the money you have to spend on necessities.

Download: Ebates (free)

Ara Wagoner — Google Play Music

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I’m the girl with the headphones, and more often than not, those headphones are pumping Google Play Music into my soundholes. Does Google Play Music need a total overhaul? Absolutely, and we might be seeing the beginnings of it in recent updates. Does Google Play Music need to abolish the ridiculous deauthorization limit that punishes phone-hoppers, klutzes, and technology reviewers? You bet your sweet music it does! Does it need a dark theme? HELL YEAH!

Is it still my favorite and most-used app? Yep, and I’m gonna keep poking the Feedback button with a stick to show my love and help make the app better. (pokes) But seriously, give me back a freaking dark theme for my midnight dance sessions.

Download Google Play Music (free)

Jerry Hildenbrand — Allo

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I originally only installed Allo so I could play with Assistant. But once I got my family to install it, I’ve found it’s a nice way to talk to the wife and kids. It has the same features that you’ll find in other apps, but it’s really easy to use and Assistant can be pretty handy for things like directions or “Googling” stuff. For people who don’t want to dive into Hangouts and all its settings, Allo is pretty slick.

Download Allo (free)

Harish Jonnalagadda — WhatsApp

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I use WhatsApp extensively. So does my family. And most of my countrymen. The Facebook-owned messaging app is ubiquitous in India, and over the course of the year, it has picked up a lot of new features, notably end-to-end encryption. There’s now a desktop client as well, and WhatsApp now offers voice and video calls, effectively going from a messaging app to an all-in-one communications platform. I tried getting my family to install Duo for video calls, but that fight was lost once WhatsApp picked up the feature.

Download WhatsApp (free)

Your turn!

What are your favorite apps of 2016? Let us know in the comments and we’ll feature them in a future post!

16
Dec

Save $60 on the Sphero BB-8 with Star Wars Force Band!


Right now you can pick up the Sphero BB-8 with Star Wars Force Band for just $140, a savings of $60. The Force Band allows you to control the robot with gestures like Force push and drive instead of breaking out your phone to navigate it around. With the BB-8 you’ll be able to reenact scenes from the movie while it makes authentic sounds, and much more.

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Whether you are a die-hard Star Wars fan, or just like cool gadgets, you’ll want to check this deal out. The $140 price tag is only good for today, December 16, so be sure to act quick if you are interested.

See at Amazon

16
Dec

The best apps for dog owners


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Apps can bring you and your dog closer than ever.

Technology is amazing. And while there is no substitute for spending quality time with your pupper, the right app can help you do more in that time — or, if you’re away, find someone else to do it for you. If you’ve got a dog, these apps may make your life easier and your time with that fluffy friend even better.

Walk for a Dog

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You’re probably aware of the overcrowding issues in animal shelters and pet rescue organizations. With hundreds of animals looking for forever homes, these facilities are often run on shoestring budgets and rely on donations and fundraisers to keep their doors open. While donating might be feasible for some people, you can actually hep out these organizations by doing something as simple as walking your dog, with the Walk for a Dog app.

This app will let you choose from one of more than 6000 facilities, and each time that you open the app and take your pooch for a walk, it will donate money to the charity you’ve chosen. The app operate similar to Charity Miles, and donates a certain amount of money per distance walked. It’s a great way to help out local shelters, and spend some time with your furry best friend in the process.

Download Walk with a Dog (free)

DogVacay

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While you might want to spend as much time with your pet as possible, there are always things that eventually get in the way. From work to a weekend conference trip, there are times when you just can’t bring that fluffy ball of love with you. While there are plenty of great kennels and doggie day care facilities across the U.S and Canada, you might be hoping to find a dog sitter that can provide a more personal experience for your pooch.

That’s where DogVacay comes in. This app connects you to hundreds of pet sitters in your city that will watch your dog for a few hours, or let them stay overnight for a few days. You can have them watch your dog at your own home, or theirs, and you won’t find any kennels with cramped quarters. They even offer dog walking services, or dog taxi services if your schedule makes vet visits difficult. For anyone looking to make sure their dog is well taken care of even when you’re out of town, DogVacay has you covered.

Download DogVacay (free)

Whistle

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Integration between wearable technology and your phone isn’t new, but did you know that there’s a way to track your dog using something like a Fitbit? Whistle offers you wearable tech that attaches to your dog’s collar, that will send you notifications if your dog wanders away from the safe zone.

Whistle requires you to pick up the Whistle GPS collar, which is available for $49.99 on their website. After you’ve got the collar you’ll be able to get live GPS tracking of your dog, along with email and text alerts. If you enter any of your pet’s medications into the app, you’ll also get notifications about when to give them to your pup. For anyone with a dog who has a tendency to wander, or who you want to keep an eye on Whistle is a great way to do it.

Download Whistle (free)

DoggyDatez

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Dogs are primarily pack animals, which means that they really do enjoy playing with other dogs. However finding a good playmate for your dog, or finding people nearby with dogs of their own, can be a pesky process. That’s where DoggyDatez comes in.

It allows you to set an area of 200 metres and will notify you when other users of the app are around. You can also search for other users by dog breed or name. It’s a great way to find new friends for both you and your dog, all without having to spend hours by yourself in the dog park.

Download DoggyDatez (free)

Pet First Aid

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Everyone does their best to make sure that Man’s Best Friend is properly taken care of. There’s vet appointments and medications, sure, but every once in a while your dog will eat something it shouldn’t. While knowing what is dangerous to a human is pretty easy to suss out, doing the same with your dog can be an issue. That’s where Pet First Aid comes in.

The app comes with plenty of options to make sure that even in an emergency your pet is getting the best possible care. You can input your vet’s phone number for those serious emergencies, but the other features can help you out before things get to that point. This includes checking your dog’s health, the best way to deal with small issues, and even lets you program vet appointments into the app. For anyone who wants to make sure that their dog is always getting the best care, Pet First Aid has you covered.

Download Pet First Aid (free)

Your turn

For many people, their dogs are a member of the family. The apps we’ve found here will help to make sure your dog never gets lost, what to do in case of an emergency, find a competent dog sitter and plenty more. Each one has their own strategy on how to make your dogs life as awesome as possible. Did we miss an awesome app? Have you used any of these before? Be sure to drop us a line in the comments and tell us all about it!

16
Dec

South Floridians will soon be able to order McDonalds via UberEATS


Ever wanted a Big Mac without the hassle of leaving the house? Good news! Your dream may soon be a reality.

UBEREats will soon deliver McDonald’s from 200 franchises around Tampa, Miami, and Orlando as part of a pilot program by the fast food chain. Once a customer orders off the menu in the UBEREats app, they can track their order just as they would an approaching Uber ride.

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While a program like this is no guarantee that McDonald’s will expand the program to the rest of us, the test is certainly the first step. And as someone whose college dorm was next door to a McDonald’s in college, this is dangerous power to put at our fingertips…

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