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Jan

Best budgeting apps: 7 apps to take control of your finances


Keeping track of finances can be a tricky thing to do, especially if you have more than one account or any kind of credit or store card. Money comes in, money goes out and there is the classic saying, the more you earn the more you spend.

It doesn’t matter if you are always in the red, or if you are someone who doesn’t even know what being in the red is, it is always good to know exactly what you’re spending. These seven apps make it easy to do that.

OnTrees

OnTrees is the budgeting app from MoneySuperMarket and it makes keeping track of your money nice and simple. OnTrees works with major UK banks in order for you to track exactly what is coming in and going out of your current account, savings accounts and credit cards, in one place with one login.

This app sorts your transactions into colourful categories so you can see where you are spending and what you could save on. It also delivers detailed information about your spending habits with charts and icons.

  • OnTrees is available to download for Android and iOS

Mint

Mint comes from Intuit and like OnTrees, it allows you to pull all your accounts and cards into one place by linking everything to the app. You’ll be able to track your spending, create a budget, setup bill reminders and get tips for reducing fees and saving yourself a few pounds.

The app will automatically categorise banking and credit card transactions like OnTrees, and there is a Trends feature that allows you to track credit cards, cash, spending, income and net worth over time, along with the ability to setup financial goals.

  • Mint is available to download for Android and iOS

Wally

Wally allows you to balance your income and expenses by understanding where your money goes. It offers the ability to set both financial goals and budgets, as well as save receipts and export the data you enter into an Excel document.

If you have location services on, Wally will automatically identify and categorise where you are so you just need to enter the amount you spent, while smart notifications remind you of important things like an upcoming payment or an achieved goal. The more you use Wally, the smarter it becomes by adapting to your preferences and offering personalised insights into your finances.

  • Wally is available to download for Android and iOS

Level Money

Level Money is similar to OnTrees and Mint in that it allows you to connect your accounts to the app with over 18,000 US-based financial institutions compatible. It offers access to transactions from all your bank accounts and credit cards once you have linked them up, allowing you to see your combined balance.

You can build a plan that will automatically adjust to your income and bills, receive customised notifications for updates on balance, credits and debits, as well as track your spending habits by merchant and category.

  • Level Money is available to download for Android and iOS

You Need a Budget

You Need a Budget, also known as YNAB, is the companion app of the YNAB for Desktop. The app allows you to enter transactions on the go, as well as check your category balances before making a purchase so you’ll know if you can actually justify what you’re about to buy.

You’ll be able to view previous transactions for all your accounts and for iOS devices, YNAB will cloud sync across all your compatible devices. You will need to install the desktop version for this app to work so that’s worth remembering as while others on this list have desktop platforms, the apps can work independently whereas YNAB won’t.

  • You Need a Budget is available to download for Android and iOS

Goodbudget

Goodbudget was formally called the Easy Envelope Budget Aid and it is based on the envelope budgeting method, just with virtual envelopes as opposed to physical. You can check your envelope balances as well as your bank balances and there is also expense tracking available. 

Everything can be synced across multiple devices including iPhones, other smartphones and the web and you can also share a budget with a spouse, family member or friend. On the web, you’ll also be able to download transactions to Excel, while the app delivers reports to help you modify your budget and see your income versus your spending.

  • Goodbudget is available to download for Android and iOS

Mvelopes

Like Goodbudget, Mvelopes is also based on the envelope budgeting method as you may have gathered from its name. It automatically downloads transactions from accounts you have linked to it and it will categorise your spending, along with plan a budget and track how much money you have remaining for the month.

There is easy access to your budget on the go, as well as the ability to adjust it and this app will capture receipts from your phone and attach them to transactions, as well as offer real time budget updates when you make a purchase. Mvelopes also assigns transactions to expense envelopes and splits transactions into different categories.

  • Mvelopes is available to download for Android and iOS
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1
Jan

Ben Heck’s PlayStation 4 Pro teardown


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It’s time to appraise the decisions Sony made when designing the newest iteration of the PlayStation console. Ben compares the PS4 Pro to the XBox One and the PS4 Slim, and then answers the ultimate question on everyone’s mind: “Why can’t the PlayStation 4 Pro do 4K Blu-ray ?” While taking apart the console, Ben also comes across some curious similarities to the XBox One, making us wonder. Also, why do so many versions of the PlayStation 4 even exist? You’ll have to watch the episode to find out!

What other games system or gadget teardowns would you like to see? Perhaps networking hardware or other consoles? Let the Ben Heck Show team know over on the element14 Community.

1
Jan

Best VR apps for exercise


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It doesn’t have to look like exercise, it can look like fun!

Sometimes you need motivation to work out, and there’s no problem with that. All it takes is a distraction to make exercise feel less like work and more like fun, and VR can be perfect for those distractions. All you really need is an exercise routine you’re comfortable with repeating, and you’re good to go!

We’ve got a couple of ideas for how you can use VR to make that exercise routine either more engaging or less like work. Pick the one that works best for you and give it a shot!

Read more at VR Heads!

1
Jan

Tesla’s new Roadster, and more in the week that was


Has Tesla succeeded in creating a vehicle that reacts faster than its driver? A recently-surfaced dashcam video appears to show Tesla’s autopilot mode predicting an accident moments before it actually happens. It currently takes hours to charge an electric car – but Elon Musk just hinted that Tesla’s next-gen superchargers will be able to juice up an eve in mere seconds. Musk also confirmed plans for a new Tesla Roadster, which is expected to debut in 2019. Uber recently launched a fleet of self-driving cars in California, but the state promptly shut the experiment down. Uber won’t have to look far for a new testing grounds, though – Nevada is welcoming the company’s self-driving taxis.

France just marked a clean energy milestone by opening the world’s first solar road. It’s paved with 2,880 ultra-durable photovoltaic panels, and it stretches for a full kilometer in Tourouvre-au-Perche. In other clean energy news, Panasonic announced plans to invest $256 million in Tesla’s Buffalo solar panel plant. Researchers developed a revolutionary new battery that’s made from a single sheet of paper and powered by bacteria. And the UK is building six massive factories that will produce 25,000 solar-powered prefab houses every year.

Agriculture is an ancient cornerstone of civilization – but several new projects are pushing the practice into the future. MIT is developing high-tech “food computers” that are able to quickly and efficiently grow crops anywhere, while Farm From a Box has launched a solar-powered shipping container packed with everything you need to grow enough food for 150 people (except the plot of land). In other design and technology news, Stanford has created a humanoid robotic diver to explore depths too dangerous for people, and China launched a major space initiative to send a probe to Mars and search for extraterrestrial life. Finally, as we count down the hours to 2017 we’ve rounded up the most viral, shocking and inspiring stories of the year in the fields of design and wearable technology.

1
Jan

Best dieting apps: 8 apps to help you lose weight


January is here which means you’ll probably have started drawing up a long list of New Year’s resolutions that you have every determination of sticking to. There might be a certain place or activity on there, mixed in with a few other things like be nicer or do a good deed a day, but there is usually one that will crop up time and time again – lose weight.

Whether you’re looking to shed the Christmas pounds, or you are just on a mission to eat better this year then here are a few of the best dieting apps to help you.

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a free calorie counting app that features a food database of over 5 million foods. When you first set it up, you’ll need to enter some information about yourself including your date of birth, weight and height, as well as your goal weight and how much you want to lose each week.

The app then creates a custom plan for you, providing you with a calorie goal to work towards, which appears on the top of the diary page where you add your food, exercise and water intake. As you add, you’ll see the food calories being deducted and the exercise calories added so it’s easy to keep track.

MyFitnessPal is great for those who don’t want to pay the monthly fees that services like Weight Watchers and Slimming World charge, but it is also useful for those on diets such as the 5:2 where calorie counting is essential. One of the best things about MyFitnessPal is that it links to a variety of fitness platforms like Withings and Fitbit, allowing you to keep track of your exercise and food in one place.

  • Download for iOS, Android and Windows Phone

Diet Assistant – Weight Loss

Diet Assistant – Weight Loss is another free app that will deliver you a range of meal options to suit the diet you are on, whether it be vegetarian, pescatarian or high-protein, among others.

Like MyFitnessPal, you need to enter some information about yourself, including your target weight, and the Diet Assistant app will then assist you in achieving your goal.

There are dedicated shopping lists per diet plan, nutritional facts, meal and weight entry reminders and a built-in BMI calculator, as well as a weight graph so you can see your progress.

  • Download for iOS and Android

Diet Point – Weight Loss

Diet Point – Weight Loss has over 130 diet plans to take the guesswork out of losing weight. There are dedicated shopping lists for each plan like Diet Assistant, but this app also reminds you when it’s time to eat your next meal.

The app sports more than 500 tips to improve your weight loss plan and it will also provide you with a weight loss estimate for each plan so you’ll be able to pick one that suits your goal.

A BMI calculator is included so you can check how healthy your weight is in relation to your height and there is a weight tracker and monitor on board too.

  • Download for iOS and Android

My Diet Coach

My Diet Coach offers four main features in the free version comprising reminders, motivational photos, perseverance tips and a diet diary, along with three extra features in the pro version including a food craving panic button, a weight chart and a points system.

The diet diary, calorie counter and BMI calculator are more standard features but the My Diet Coach app stands out is for its motivational arguments and guidelines, along with the ability to customise the avatar to look similar to yourself.

You can set reminders so you remember to drink water and prepare vegetables for example, but you can also touch a button with the challenge you are facing and the app will greet you with relevant motivational tips and inspiring pictures.

  • Download for iOS and Android

Nutrino

The Nutrino app claims to answer the ultimate question of what should you eat and rather than just tracking your food, it will answer it based on your medical profile, goals and culinary preferences.

You can get this app to plan your next meal or you can take something off the menu and Nutrino will log it and take it into consideration.

There is a health coach on board to keep you on track and you can also keep up to date with the latest nutritional research through this app. Nutrino will also add meal summaries to the Health App, as well as sync your weight.

  • Download for iOS and Android

The Complete 5:2 Diet

The 5:2 diet suggests that you eat what you like for five days of the week, up to 2000 calories for women and 2500 for men, while for the other two days, women consume just 500 and men consume 600.

There are plenty of apps that relate to this particular diet but the Complete 5:2 Diet app brings you a four-week recipe and exercise plan that will track your calorie intake and work outs.

It features over 140 recipes to try, with a choice of six meal plans for the fasting days and the workout plans link to exercise videos to make sure you are doing things right. Complete 5:2 Diet also has calorie counter, BMI, BMR and target calorie calculators, but it won’t allow you to add your own exercise routine in.

  • Download for iOS and Android

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers has been around for a long time and rather than straight up calorie counting, it uses a point system called PointsPlus to help you lose weight. The app is free but it’s worth knowing you’ll need a subscription to use it which starts at £1.88/week.

Once subscribed, you can track your food, activity and weight through the app or the website and there is a 24/7 chat function to get support from a Weight Watchers coach if you need it. We haven’t tried that feature but we suspect they rarely tell you to eat a Mars bar.

If you’re out for dinner and want to see what the best things to eat on the menu are, there are thousands of restaurants and meals in the database from Zizzis to Wagamama and you’ll also get access to recipes if you’re cooking at home. Weight Watchers will also sync with your Fitbit or Jawbone to deliver activity tracking too.

  • Download for iOS and Android

HealthyOut

For those in the US, HealthyOut allows you to find and order healthy meals from local restaurants in your area using filters such as low calorie, low carb, low fat and high protein to narrow search results.

Great for those with dietary restrictions like gluten or lactose sensitive, or those following specific diets like Paleo or Atkins, this app will help you find restaurants that cater for your needs.

You can filter by cuisine, ingredients and type of dish, plus it will also show you detailed nutrition information for dishes including calories and points.

  • Download for iOS and Android
1
Jan

LG’s next robots include an Echo-like assistant


When LG said it was pouring a ton of effort into robots, it wasn’t kidding. The electronics firm is teasing a whole lineup of robots for CES, including one that could theoretically replace your Echo speaker. The flagship, the Hub Robot (not shown here), will serve as both a personal assistant and a smart home platform. This doesn’t mean that it’ll be the robotic butler of your dreams, but you might not have to walk into a specific room to turn on the lights using your voice.

LG is also interested in taking robots outdoors. One model getting a preview at CES will have “new capabilities” for taking care of your yard, including your garden.

The company isn’t diving deep into features (that’s what its January 4th event is for), but you should expect some common trends. At least some of the bots can steer themselves through “complex environments,” and there will be some Pepper-like robots built to help you at airports and hotels. All told, LG is bent on making robots as much a part of its roster as TVs and washing machines. There’s no guarantee that it’ll succeed, but it’s clearly not content with making the occasional robotic vacuum.

Source: LG Newsroom

1
Jan

New year: Seven tech resolutions to put on your list for 2017


The clock has struck and another year has begun. You have probably made all sorts of resolutions – quit smoking, drink less, go out more, spend less, etc.

While some of those are more manageable than others, we have rounded up seven tech resolutions that should be nice and easy to stick to. These resolutions don’t involve resisting the chocolate or going to the gym five times a week. Instead they should help you get organised and on top of everything right from the beginning of 2017.

Get rid of your unused gadgets

If you have gadgets lying around your office or house, then now is the time to start clearing them out.

Whether it is a stereo system you received a replacement for over Christmas, or an old handset, then get it on eBay, take it to a charity shop or see if a recycling site such as Mazuma Mobile will offer you anything, because chances are your gadget collection is likely to keep growing this year.

Update all your apps

App updates, whether Android, iOS, Blackberry or Windows Phone don’t just appear for the fun of it.

An update will normally bring a fix for a bug, or make the app itself faster, sometimes it will even introduce new features so they are worth doing, and staying on top of – don’t ignore them.

Change your passwords

It’s better to be safe than sorry, and while some accounts require you to change your password regularly, others do not.

To make sure all your details, emails and accounts are safe, it is worth changing your passwords, even it is only adding a different number at the end of your original at the beginning of every year.

Back up computer to an external hard drive

Backing up your laptop or desktop is something you don’t always think to do until you lose everything. Therefore if you have a bit of spare cash, it’s worth buying an external hard drive like Western Digital’s My Passport or one of LaCie’s devices.

Try not to just back it up on New Years day and then leave it for the next 12 months, but that is at least better than not at all.

Sign up to Dropbox

Dropbox is a great way to keep all your files with you so you can access them from whichever device you are working on, whether that be your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop.

It is free to join and you get a little bit of free storage before you have to pay for more, plus you can access your account through the Dropbox website on your browser or the app itself as long as you have an internet connection.

Streamline your social media networks

If you have a number of social media accounts, but only really use one or two, it might be worth deleting the ones you don’t bother with anymore and pay more attention to the ones you do.

You could also go through your friends on Facebook, or the people you follow on Twitter and decide if there are any you can get rid of so you only updates from the people you really want to in 2016.

Manage your phone contacts

The contacts in your phone are another thing that need a tidy up every now and then. A year is a long time, and people change jobs and numbers so it’s worth going through, checking for duplicates, and making sure you have everyone you need saved.

You might as well get rid of the people you haven’t spoken to in the last year too, and make sure you back up your phone so you have the contacts saved on your computer, as well as your photos in case you lose your phone.

1
Jan

Run-DMC sues Amazon, Walmart over online counterfeits


It’s not just tech giants like Apple that are taking online stores to task for allowing counterfeit goods on their virtual shelves. Run-DMC is suing Amazon, Walmart (including Jet.com) and partners for selling bogus shirts, hats and other goods that violate the legendary group’s trademark. The internet retailers are allegedly “trading on the goodwill” of Run-DMC by either allowing third parties to sell counterfeits or, in Amazon’s case, supposedly selling the fakes directly.

We’ve asked Amazon and Walmart for comment and will let you know if they can respond. With that said, there’s no question that stores like Amazon have taken at least some steps to crack down on counterfeits. The concern isn’t really that they’re knowingly profiting from knockoffs — it’s that they might not be doing enough to prevent these frauds from slipping through the cracks. These sorts of lawsuits may become more commonplace if artists and companies feel that their brands aren’t getting adequate protection.

Source: CNET

1
Jan

All New York City underground subway stations now have WiFi


Officials vowed that all of New York City’s underground subway stations would have WiFi by the end of 2016, and they’re meeting that goal… if only at the very last minute. As of New Year’s Eve, every one of the 279 stations now has internet access thanks to Transit Wireless. WiFi is a long time in coming (the first stations went online in 2011), but it’s important if you either have spotty phone reception or a WiFi-only device that would otherwise go dark.

Full cellular coverage will have to wait a while longer — it won’t be ready until sometime in early 2017. And this won’t help you much in the tunnels themselves, where there’s still a real chance that you’ll go offline in between stops. Between this and gigabit WiFi kiosks, though, it’ll be almost trivially easy to get online in NYC.

Source: NY1

1
Jan

Samsung FlexWash + FlexDry Laundry System Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


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This Samsung washer and dryer pair has a secret — small top-load compartments to tackle delicate items.

Samsung

Let’s face it, laundry day just isn’t fun. Fortunately, large appliance manufacturers have been hard at work in 2016 dreaming up new ways to to simplify this otherwise arduous task.

We’ve seen sinks built-into top-load washing machines, front-load trap doors that open midcycle so you can add the lone sock you missed earlier (see video below), and smaller, secondary washers hidden in what looks like a lowly storage pedestal.

But Samsung’s FlexWash + FlexDry Laundry System, announced today, might be the wackiest innovation we’ve seen yet. It’s a side-by-side front-load washer and dryer pair, but both units have a smaller washer or dryer incorporated into the top of the machine, top-load-style.

Here’s an overview:

FlexWash

  • 5-cubic-foot front-loader
  • 1-cubic-foot top-loader

While this concept is somewhat similar to LG’s Twin Wash system, there are a couple of key distinctions. FlexWash is one unit — the main front-load unit and the supplemental top-load unit are integrated into the same appliance body.

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Samsung also claims its FlexWash unit doesn’t require two separate water lines. So instead of having to install a secondary water line (as with Twin Wash), FlexWash has an internal separator that sends the front-load water one direction and the top-load water another direction. That’s huge.

But like LG’s Twin Wash, you can run wash cycles simultaneously and the water isn’t supposed to mix. That way, you don’t combine water that’s washing bright red beach towels with water that’s washing your white undershirts. The general ideal is that you’ll tackle larger, normal loads of laundry in the 5-cubic-foot washer and smaller, delicate items in the 1-cubic-foot washer above.

FlexDry

  • Main dryer has MultiSteam technology
  • Smaller dryer has customizable temperature zones

We’ve never seen a two-in-one dryer unit like FlexDry before. Beside the obvious convenience of being able to dry two loads at one time, it also allows for different types of fabrics to get custom care. The main dryer would likely continue to handle normal loads, as it has a tumble-dry function. The smaller dryer would take on delicate items via a drying-rack-style design and custom temp zones ranging from room temperature to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition to its four-in-one design, the FlexWash + FlexDry Laundry System can be controlled by your phone via the Samsung Smart Home app for Android or iPhone. According to Samsung, you’ll be able to start and stop cycles remotely with the app, as well as monitor the progress of a cycle.

Samsung hasn’t shared pricing or availability for its FlexWash + FlexDry Laundry System just yet, or whether it plans to integrate this new washer and dryer with its own smart home platform, SmartThings. I’ve reached out to Samsung for more details, so check back soon for updates.

Click here to find out what else is happening at CES 2017.

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