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5
Dec

GIF research from Tenor suggests we had a pretty bad 2017


When it comes to telling a story, we can depend on GIFs to do a good job. Alas, the story of 2017 isn’t a particularly fun one, at least not according to GIF research conducted by Tenor, the GIF keyboard that launched back in 2014. The platform now sees around 9 billion GIF searches every month, and sadly, it appears that many of these searches in 2017 weren’t for the happiest of topics.

While 2016 was widely panned as the worst year ever, what with numerous beloved celebrity deaths, polarizing political happenings, a slew of crimes, and bad weather, 2017 managed to top it all — at least according to GIFs and their senders. Tenor’s large-scale emotional trends for 2017 groups certain emotions into clusters. The company then compared these clusters across different years. For example, the sadness emotion included searches like “crying,” “waah,” “sob,” and “tears.” These clustered emotions were then taken as negative or positive, and data was compared between 2016 and 2017.

It’s not the most scientific of studies, and Tenor knows it.

“2017 was much more negative year overall, but interestingly, searches for “laughing” nearly doubled since 2016,” according to the company. “Even though we categorized ‘laughing’ as a positive emotion, laughing is not always used in a strictly ‘happy’ way, and the top GIFs of the year reflect this. The Shaq GIF could easily be used in a ‘laughing at the ridiculousness of everything’ manner. Because of this, 2017 might have been emotionally worse than this data indicates.”

Tenor found that negative emotions sent via GIF increased by 31 percent, while positive emotions decreased by 18 percent. In a rather interesting decision, Tenor only decided upon one neutral emotion — “drunk.” Apparently, folks searched for that particular emotion 39 percent more in 2017 than in 2016. Take that as you will.

The “Umm confused/”Guy blinking” GIF took top honors as Tenor’s Gif of the Year, because it is the most shared GIF of 2017 on Tenor’s platform. A crying baby was the second most popular GIF of the year, again, not a particularly ringing endorsement of 2017.

The good news, of course, is that 2017 is quickly drawing to a close, and we’re certainly hoping the GIFs sent throughout the rest of the year are a bit more reflective of the cheery holiday spirit. If not, here’s to a happier 2018 — please be better.

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5
Dec

The Coros Omni smart helmet makes cycling while listening to tunes safer


In 2016, Coros Wearables successfully launched the Linx smart helmet, bringing a number of technologies that help cyclists to stay safer on the road. Chief among the innovations was bone conduction audio, which allows riders to listen to music, take phone calls, and receive navigation cues without having to wear earbuds. This not only helps riders to stay more aware of the environment around them but allows them to continue to focus on the road, too. Now, the company is ready to release its follow-up product, which takes the existing formula and improves on it in some key ways.

On Monday, December 4, the new Coros Omni smart helmet launched on Indiegogo and brings an updated design along with it. The helmet is lighter and more streamlined than the Linx and offers 18 airflow vents to help keep the rider more comfortable. The Omni also comes with a detachable visor that makes it suitable for both road cycling and mountain biking, and it features LED lighting along the sides and back that can be adjusted for improved visibility on rides during the day or at night.

Like its predecessor, the Omni also includes bone conduction audio technology that allows the wearer to safely listen to music, make phone calls, communicate with other riders, or receive directions without the need to wear headphones. This feature works surprisingly well, offering solid sound quality while still allowing the rider to hear all of the environmental sounds around him or her, too. An included remote control attaches to the handlebars, providing the ability to adjust volume, skip tracks, pause playback, or take calls without ever taking your hands off the handlebars.

As with any helmet, safety is the main concern, and Coros hasn’t let riders down in that area either. In addition to preventing head injuries in the event of a crash, the Omni’s LED lights provide enhanced visibility too. The smart helmet is even equipped with a special sensor that can detect a crash and automatically send a text to the rider’s emergency contact number sharing their location.

Coros added basic ride analytics to the Omni as well, giving it the ability to track distance, speed, and time. That data is compiled in a special app developed specifically for the helmet, although the information can also be shared with fitness apps like Strava or Map My Ride. The Omni app, which will be released for iOS and Android, also allows users to create custom routes, set up voice navigation, examine their GPS data, and more.

With the launch of the Indiegogo campaign, Coros is hoping to raise $50,000 to get the Omni into production. If successful, the devices hope to begin shipping in February and reach retail outlets sometime in the first quarter. The helmet is expected to sell for $200, although early-bird supporters can pre-order one for as little as $99. Find out more on the Omni’s official Indiegogo page.

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5
Dec

You can now import your contacts from Instagram to Facebook Messenger


Instagram has been part of the Facebook family since 2012, and these days, they’re looking closer than ever. Just a couple months after Instagram gave users across the U.S. the option of posting Stories directly to Facebook, it’s introducing another deep integration with its parent company. As originally reported by TechCrunch, the social media sites have started to test a tool that would allow users to bring their Instagram contacts to Facebook Messenger.

It’s a completely optional feature, but if you find that the bulk of your contacts are on the photo-sharing platform, and would rather move some of those conversations onto a less visual platform, you have an easier way of doing so.

Syncing your Instagram and Messenger accounts is now a breeze. If you navigate over to the People tab of your Messenger app, you’ll now find a new option labeled “Connect to Instagram.” As the name suggests, clicking on this button will allow you to add your Instagram contacts to the list of folks you can message via Facebook’s stand-alone chat app. And if you’re brand new to Messenger, you can bring aboard a whole lot of friend right from the get-go by importing Instagram contacts in the Messenger sign-up process.

But wait, you say. Doesn’t this open up the possibility of random Instagram users spamming me on Messenger? Not so much — at least, not in theory. Only mutual-follow Instagram contacts will be imported to Messenger, so just because someone follows you doesn’t mean that he or she will be able to reach you on Messenger. Even so, you may want to be careful about who you follow back — you may not want to be overly kind if it means opening up your Messenger inbox to all sorts of folks.

The rationale for this new integration may involve the burgeoning popularity of Instagram Messaging. As TechCrunch noted, 375 million users took to Instagram Direct as of this April. But seeing as Instagram is still primarily a one-way platform, it makes sense for the app to look for ways for users to continue their interactions elsewhere (on another Facebook-owned platform).

There’s no formal announcement about the feature as of yet, and it looks like the integration is still in its initial test stages.

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5
Dec

Run your way to better health with the 10 best running apps


Running is one of the best ways to keep yourself in shape, and in good health. One of the most difficult things is to stay motivated and engaged so that you can accomplish your fitness goals, whatever they may be, and not quit or lose your motivation. Luckily, technology can be a great tool to engage you more and keep you on track.

Here, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best running apps available for Android and iOS. They offer GPS tracking, the ability to share stats with friends, and even the option to challenge friends to competitions. A lot of these running apps are fully compatible with the Apple Watch and Android Wear, too. So, let’s dust off our running shoes and put on our best looking pair of shorts. It’s time to run our way to better health.

Exercise is just one piece of the puzzle to stay in good health. Check out our picks for the best fitness apps for the iPhone or your Android device, and apps that will help you stay healthy all year round.

Strava

This is a fun running app that makes it feel as if you were playing a game with your friends. It offers GPS tracking, but also allows you to see a feed of your friend’s activities when you can challenge them. You’ll also be able to see how you stack up against your friends, set goals, see leaderboards, and join monthly challenges. You can also share your activities via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This app is compatible with the Apple Watch.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Runtastic

Doctors recommend you should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. This makes Runtastic the perfect app for those who like listening to audiobooks or podcasts while exercising. “Story Running” allows you to download stories for $1, and each track is about 40 minutes, so it’s perfectly timed for a good workout. The app is also optimized for both Android Wear and the Apple Watch.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Runkeeper

Runkeeper is another great running app, one that boasts a user community of more than 50 million runners. Staying motivated is very important, and Runkeeper takes a very social approach to its feature set. It allows you to stay inspired and motivates you with rewards, along with a host of sharing features. It has Apple Watch, iTunes, and Spotify integration, and will work with other health apps such as Fitbit and MyFitnessPal.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Map My Run

Map My Run has built a member community of more than 40 million people, mostly because it’s a great running app. There’s a “Routes” feature that allows you to find nearby places near to run, as well as tools for saving and sharing them with your friends. The app can also automatically track your runs, and you can sync your data with devices from Garmin, Fitbit, Jawbone, and Under Amour. Map My Run is available for both Android Wear and the Apple Watch, too.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Nike+ Run Club

Nike+ Run Club is a running app that takes an adaptive approach to your training. Based on your goals and fitness level, it will adapt the training to better suit your progress. Not only does the app help you stay motivated by integrating with social apps like Facebook, but it will also allow you to send a “shoutout” to a friend to help them stay motivated. This app is available for Apple Watch as well.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Endomondo

This is a great, GPS-enabled app that allows you to track running, walking, biking, and a slew of other sports. Your data is sent to http://www.endomondo.com so that you can analyze all your stats and progress. Friendly competition with others in the community is also encouraged. While the baseline app is free, you can go with a Premium option. With a Premium subscription, you’ll be able to enjoy the app without ads and make use of weather information and other added perks. You’ll also have access to more detailed statistics, including calories burned per month, running distance by year, and other useful metrics. This app is compatible with Apple Watch.

Download now for:

Android iOS

RunGo

RunGo is the best app to use if you want to run and discover new places. With its voice turn-by-turn navigation, you can select more than 100,000 routes around the world, or build your own. The app tells you with clear instructions where to turn, even if you’ve gone off course. You can use it offline, and it is fully compatible with the Apple Watch. It also takes advantage of ARKit for iOS 11 and integrates Augmented Reality by pressing the AR button. Monthly subscriptions cost $2 while a yearly subscription will cost you $10.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Couch to 5K ($3)

This running app dares to make a promise. Couch to 5k asks you to spend 20 or 30 minutes training, three times a week and promises that in nine weeks you’ll be ready to finish your first 5k race (3.1 miles). A one-time purchase of $3 allows you to choose between four virtual coaches. It also has GPS support, an in-app music player, and offers you the ability to share your workouts on Facebook. This app is compatible with Apple Watch.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Wahoo

Wahoo Fitness’ main attraction is its robust compatibility, which allows it to integrate with more than 50 third-party apps and 240 individual products. It allows you to upload your workouts to a host of top-tier training websites, too, including MapMyFitness.com, Nike+.com, Strava.com, MyFitnessPal, and several others. You’ll also be able to use this app with heart rate sensors, bike speed sensors, and even some specialized gym equipment.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Zombies, Run!

One of the most different kinds of fitness apps available, Zombies, Run!, turns your workouts into a real-life adventure. It’s a running game that casts you as the hero in a zombie adventure story, one where you must race to save your life and the lives of others. The first four missions are free, but, after that, you’ll need to unlock new stories on a weekly basis. You can also unlock more than 240 missions, however, if you upgrade to a Pro membership. If you want to work out while having fun, this is certainly the way to go. This app is compatible with Apple Watch.

Download now for:

Android iOS

If you want to read more about how tech and health are getting more integrated, read our picks for the best fitness trackers and how Fitness AR uses ARKit augmented reality to share your workouts.

Update: We’ve added some useful links to some great related articles, and also added the RunGo app.

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5
Dec

Keep your Instagram Stories around for longer with 2 new features


Ephemerality may have been all the rage when Snapchat first hung its hat on the notion of disappearing pictures, but these days, it seems like memories that last are back in vogue. Here to make that happen are two new tools from Instagram that promise to help you “hold onto your favorite moments … and share them in ways that help you express yourself.” First up is Stories Highlights, a new profile section that allows Instagram users to group stories in a highlights reel, and feature them front and center. Then, there is the new Stories Archive, which will automatically save your previously disappearing recordings into a private collection for you to easily relive (and perhaps feature) them.

“Over the past year, Instagram Stories has become a key part of how you express yourself — but there has not been an easy way to keep your stories around for more than 24 hours,” the platform noted in a blog post. “Now you can more fully express your identity by grouping stories you’ve shared into highlights and featuring them on your profile.”

To create a Story Highlight, tap the “New” circle located at the far left of your profile below your biography. Then, you will be able to select any story from your archive, select a cover image for the highlight, and name it. That highlight will then appear to other users as a circle on your profile that can be viewed as a stand-alone story upon a tap. And unlike Stories, which disappear after 24 hours, Highlights stay on your profile until you decide otherwise. Plus, there is no limit to the number of Stories you can highlight (though you may want to exercise some self-control).

When you tire of a certain Story, you only need to tap and hold the highlight to edit or remove it from your profile.

And to ensure that you always have a repository of Stories to choose from, Instagram is also automatically saving all that footage to a personal archive when they expire. To access those older Stories, tap the Archive icon on your profile, where you will find old Stories appear in a grid format, with the most recent videos at the bottom. The first Story from each day will have a date indicator so that you don’t get lost in all your memories. You can always choose to turn off auto-archiving at any time in your profile settings.

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5
Dec

Backside iMac storage is more functional (and artistic) than you’d think


Baxters are innovative Apple iMacs storage solutions that help you free up even more desk space with artistic shelving, thereby expanding the concept of the space-saving all-in-one PC. Available now on Kickstarter with a starting price of $45 for the finished version, you can get yourself a handy place to store everything from your phone to your external hard drive, all within easy reach.

While many desktops and monitors might end up with their backs against the wall, that’s not the case for all. For those who’s backside faces outward into a room, there’s some additional functionality — and aesthetic enjoyment — to be had. Baxters, produced by Understands, are an attempt to leverage both of those with a shelving unit with a printed finish or custom artwork.

The campaign offers a number of different options, with $2 pledges letting those with laser cutters or CNC machines cut their own Baxter using the design files. Meanwhile, $20 gets you the plain-wood DIY kit that you build yourself, while $45 gives you a Baxter shelf with a metallic finish. A wood veneer can be had for $55, while $65 gets you the full, custom-artwork option.

There are also different options for shelving, from a single large one to multiple smaller shelves, which can be used for storing plants, mounting external hard drives, managing cables (you could always use a “puck”) or holding headphones and other accessories.

You don’t have to use it all as a shelf though. The “Art Baxter” is designed to turn the rear of your iMac (whether you have a 5K display or not) into a true work of art, with a printed picture of your choice. While the family photos seem a little redundant to us — if it’s on the back of your monitor, you can’t see it — some of the more artistic slants seem like a nice way to brighten up an office.

All Baxter designs can fit 21.5 to 27-inch and earlier iMacs and are made from cross-laminated birch for strength and stability, without being too weighty. They don’t need any tools to fit or adjust either, they just slot into place.

All designs are currently slated to begin shipping in January 2018, though as with all Kickstarter campaigns we must remind you that there is no guarantee. While the short time between the campaign and shipping seems promising, it may also be ambitious, so be aware that you aren’t buying a product from a store, but pledging to receive something at some point in the future.

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5
Dec

BLU finally addresses Life One X2 bug that locks users out of the phone


A fix is here, but the damage is already done.

Exactly a week ago on November 28, some individuals started to complain about a pretty nasty bug that was affecting the BLU Life One X2. After downloading and installing a software update for the phone, users reported being met with a new screen asking for a password they didn’t have. In other words, they were completely locked out of their device.

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People began to discover that factory resetting the phone helped get past the screen, and while this did work for some, the real horror is that BLU took six whole days to actually address what was going on.

BLU sent out two messages on its official Twitter account on December 4, and they read as follows:

Urgent: Life One X2 Lock Software Fix! 1/1 If your Life One X2 was updated & experienced an issue with a password lock, send us an email at escalations@bluproducts.com.

— BLU Products (@BLU_Products) December 4, 2017

Urgent: Life One X2 Lock Software Fix! 2/2 We will provide you with the software update that resolves the issue and grants you access to your device.Note: This fix is only for users which haven’t yet done a Factory Reset or exceeded the amount of pin attempts.

— BLU Products (@BLU_Products) December 4, 2017

One user that spoke with BLU has since shared a link to the .zip file that supposedly fixes the issue, but it’s not entirely clear how it’s supposed to be used. Our guess is that it needs to be flashed to the Life One X2 since there’s no way to get past the password screen and to the OS itself, but since BLU hasn’t made instructions for using the file public, we’d advise contacting the company directly and following its directions to ensure you don’t screw up your phone even more.

It’s certainly relieving that owners of a Life One X2 now have a way to actually use their phone once again, but if you ask me, being radio silent for almost a whole week with something like this is unacceptable.

Some users can’t access their BLU Life One X2 after latest software update

5
Dec

YouTube wants to have 10,000 humans reviewing videos on its site by 2018


Big changes are on the way to keep content creators and advertisers as happy as can be.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the past few months, chances are you’ve heard a thing or two about YouTube’s “Adpocalypse.” In YouTube’s constant fight to remove extremist and exploitive videos from its site with machine learning, content creators of all size are being hit with demonetized video after demonetized video in cases where they shouldn’t be.

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YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki recently published a blog post talking about what the company is doing to address videos that need to be addressed and leaving innocent ones alone, and a big part of Wojcicki’s message has to do with human moderators.

There’s no shortage of horror stories from creators who have been mistakenly hit with YouTube’s machine learning system, and Wojcicki says that the YouTube team has manually reviewed more than two million videos since this past June to help the system become smarter and smarter. In an effort to expand this even more –

We will continue the significant growth of our teams into next year, with the goal of bringing the total number of people across Google working to address content that might violate our policies to over 10,000 in 2018.

Also, to help increase transparency between YouTube and its many creators –

In 2018 we will be creating a regular report where we will provide more aggregate data about the flags we receive and the actions we take to remove videos and comments that violate our content policies. We are looking into developing additional tools to help bring even more transparency around flagged content.

Lastly, Wojcicki says YouTube will be taking “a new approach to advertising” in which there are advertiser-friendly put in place in regards to what videos are suitable for ads and increasing the number of human advertisement reviewers so that ads on running on the right videos and removed from ones that aren’t advertiser friendly. According to Wojcicki, YouTube will be talking with creators and advertisers over the coming weeks about these changes.

Stories are coming to YouTube as part of expanded Community feature

5
Dec

If you love Action Launcher, you should check out the Supporter Program


action-launcher-become-supporter-2017.jp

Good apps take time to develop, and good developers deserve to have that time rewarded.

Apps are continually being developed, yet most apps you only pay for once. For instance, I paid for Nova Launcher Prime back in 2012 and it continues be the best quarter I ever spent. But developing an app for years and years — especially a launcher as ever-evolving and responsive as Action Launcher — is a full time job, and its developer deserves a proper wage for their efforts.

Cue the Supporter program, and why you should fully support it.

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Action Launcher is a wonderful launcher that is turning 5 later this year. Three years ago in 2014, developer Chris Lacy completely rewrote his launcher, and decided to published his overhaul as a new app, Action Launcher 3. The newly redesigned and re-optimized launcher included a new in-app purchase to unlock the Pro features again, while those who had previously purchased Action Launcher Pro would retain those Pro benefits on the old Action Launcher 2.

You can imagine what happened next.

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Many users thought that they should receive the Pro benefits of Action Launcher’s continued development forever. They believed that purchasing an app was like purchasing a game for their console or a program for their computer, that you purchased a copy and could enjoy it for as long as you desired. However, there’s an important distinction to be made between these kinds of content. If you buy a game for a console, that software is by-and-large a finished product. There may be some updates pushed to help improve gameplay dynamics or fix bugs, but the core game has been completed. Future content is an extra purchase, such as in a DLC or loot box characters.

Mobile apps are unfinished products. Apps have to be continually improved and adapted, as users’ tastes change, as system requirements change, and as Android’s new versions bring new features to implement and new standards to conform to. Action Launcher has changed so much, even in just the last year. It returned to its original name, it gained a cornucopia of features from Android Oreo, and it finally added long-desired transparency to many of the launcher’s elements through Quicktheme.

action-launcher-quickpage-sorcerer.jpg?i At long last, transparency!

Action Launcher is constantly being developed and refined, and while Action Launcher Plus is still a one-time purchase, Chris Lacy has added the Supporter program for users who understand the value of his hard work and wish to reward it. The Supporter program is a subscription, allowing you to contribute on a monthly basis to Action Launcher’s continued progress. For less than a cup of coffee a month, you can help support one of the best launchers on the market, and if you enjoy Action Launcher’s many features, you should consider becoming a Supporter.

We should support app developers, especially ones who touch our daily lives as launchers do. Be an everyday hero and be an Action Launcher Supporter.

5
Dec

Get a highly-rated Tenergy Syma quadcopter for only $19 at Amazon


Friendly flying.

Amazon has the Tenergy Syma X20 Mini Headless Quadcopter RC Drone on sale for $18.83 when you apply coupon code E28IURBJ during checkout.

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This item has 4.5 out of 5 stars from 62 customer reviews and normally sells for $30. Today’s deal brings the product down to a historic low price.

This mini quadcopter has an ultra-portable design and it features auto-hovering, meaning it will suspend in midair even if you let go of the controls. The one-key stunt moves are sure to impress and make your experience even more fun. This is perfect for beginners and will make a great gift. It charges via microUSB too so extra charging cables are easy to find.

See at Amazon

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