New Apps

WALKFORADOG IS AS EASY AS ITS NAME
October 14, 2016 9:51 am

Having to trudge through the overpopulated, polluted-as-all-hell maze that is New York City every day can be dispiriting. Shoulders are bumped, footwear gets dirty, and faith in humanity is questioned. Perhaps the one glimmer of hope most people here get all day is the moment a cute dog waltzes past them with a big smile on its face and no worries whatsoever.

Dogs have no idea that we’re all prisoners to capitalism, nor do they complain about being surrounded by concrete and steel barriers that are illegal for them to pee on. They’re just happy to be outside! It’s fresh air time. Dogs are the living embodiment of optimism and being able to see them throughout the day helps me treat others slightly better than I normally would have. Thank you, dogs. You inspire me to be a slightly less terrible person.

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More than anything, I want to show my appreciation for dogs and help out the ones not lucky enough to have a home yet. But because life, especially in the city, is just an endless cycle of work and commute, there isn’t much time to do that. This is why I got so excited when I heard about the app WalkForADog.

From a functionality standpoint, WalkForADog couldn’t be simpler. All you have to do is set up an account, select an animal shelter you want to raise money for, keep the app open, and then walk. The more you walk, the more money you raise for that shelter. That’s it. Seriously, it’s the easiest thing in the world. Why aren’t you doing this.

You see? I shouldn’t have to persuade you any longer. Just download the app and start helping out some dogs in need. They already do so much for us!! It couldn’t be any easier and there is nothing stopping you from trying it out.

iOS 10: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE USELESS
October 4, 2016 5:52 pm

The craze of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus a few weeks ago and the flood of memes about it having no headphone jack is basically all everyone was talking about in September. Surprisingly though, iOS 10 seems to be where the actual rich changes are in Apple’s products. iOS 10 is good, a nice upgrade for those who are obsessed with more flash and less function. There is a huge amount updated, and I won’t go through all  of it, but here are my impressions of having it so far.

THE GOOD:

It is fun. It is entertaining. Siri is smarter and opens programs for you or just does what you ask with certain apps, like finding you directions to the closest gas station. The iMessanger has been greatly overhauled, almost too much for my blood. Maybe it is my age, but I don’t need ALL these features. You can draw with cool effects, send messages that slam into the conversation and search all sorts of gifs to send friends. Don’t get me wrong, I love all these things, but it getting to be too much. Like how often am I going to honestly send a neon drawn picture with kissy lips appearing all over it? The change in shape and design of alert banners seemed odd and unnecessary at first, but I’ve gotten used to them, they just hover for too long in my opinion. One of the best, and my favorite, things is that I can finally delete a lot of iPhone permanent apps that weren’t previously aloud to be deleted, so I am very happy about that. Also the quick menu that you get from the bottom is a little weird, but not terrible, the fact that you can swipe to media that is being played and change it there is pretty cool, but still slightly cumbersome.

 

THE BAD:

It is getting messy. I had to download ANOTHER app called Home which I automatically put into my group of dumb apps that I don’t need and just take up space. The messenger keyboard will sometimes get stuck sideways making me have to restart the app just to fix it so I can type. When I double click the home button, the app will shift sideways and I can’t select, scroll or close them, and so I have to lock my phone and unlock it to  get it to function correctly again.

 

THE USELESS:

Like I was saying in the “Good” section, the messenger is getting too cluttered, and has too much different functions that I am never going to use on a daily basis. The forced install app Home, which connects itself to you home system of light, TV or other electronics), seems cool, but if you don’t have everything already set up and have Apps or remotes for those things, you won’t ever need it. I guess it can be helpful because who really wants to get up to turn off lights with a light switch anymore? That was so last millennium (heavy sarcasm).  The new left swipe list of new and alerts looks unorganized and pointless to have, just like before, but now it is slightly different and I have no desire to learn how to use it effectively.

 

All in all getting the update isn’t that bad, it just has so much hullabaloo and so many bugs that it is kind of annoying. It is fun for sure, it really is, but it feels like a stupid app you download for fun because your friends did, but unfortunately it is permanently here and essential to the future function of you Apple device. I hope for some good updates and cleaning of iOS 10, because it does have the potential to be something great.

VIBBLE: SMALL START WITH GREAT POTENTIAL
September 28, 2016 11:18 am

Vibble, for all intensive purposes, is your personal mix board. With transitions, samples, and faders, Vibble gives you the sense of being a DJ while cutting out the complications. It is stylistic, easy and fun to play with, a for sure download for someone who asks always wants the AUX cord in the car. However, the app is pretty minimal and would need a lot of updates and expansions to amount to something of real substance.

The App runs with Sound Cloud. You can search Sound Cloud through this app very smoothly and very fast and add the song you want to a simple playlist. You can play a number of different samples right over the tracks adding air horns, drum beats, and vinyl scratches to whatever you like on Sound Cloud.

I love Sound Cloud as much as the next person, but the fact that this app only uses Sound Cloud is pretty limiting. Even artists like Flume or Porter Robinson which have a strong presence there, don’t show up with any music inside the app. So unless you know a whole mess of small time artists off the top of your head, it’ll be difficult finding anything worth mixing and fooling with. I’m not a pro with this app either, so I might be missing how to use certain parts like saving music playlists or bookmarking artists, but as of now I haven’t found a way to retain any mixes or set-lists that I’ve made.

With all this said, it doesn’t mean the app is great in concept. The accessible fading and samples are refreshing, the design of the app is bright and fun, and the potential for greatness is there. I can’t wait to see this app a couple of months from now, it’ll be the new way to listen to your Sound Cloud favorites.

 

GOOGLE MAPS UPDATE TAKES YOU EVERYWHERE AND MORE
September 20, 2016 9:51 am

Google is everywhere. Google is the titan of the internet that can basically do anything, between Gmail, Drive, Chrome and Chromebooks, most of the world depends on it for day to day life. As this king of the interwebs, updates happen all the time, often with fun, great additions.

Google Maps is my favorite map app and I use it all the time. As soon as Google Maps came out years ago, I started using it leaving Mapquest in the dust. I use it all the time, going to various places everyday and I don’t know how I would get around without this app. But my issues were having to figure out the fastest route to all the places at home on my computer and I could never do it on the fly while out and about. So get ready everyone, Google Maps has brought multiple locations to shift around and plan out on the road.

The app itself and the update is as simple and as wonderful as always, but the new addition of multiple locations is practically perfect. Adding in the second and third places is just as easy as entering the first locations. For now you can add at least nine extra locations while organizing them any way that you need, having a grand total of ten locations not including your point of origin. That’s pretty impressive especially because of the perfectly smooth and fluid running of the app with all these other things it has to worry about. Moving around the addresses and switching and searching different places around is very easy and even searching for restaurants or gas stations nearby and adding them into your complex trip is also just as easy.

It is a great update and I’m very happy this finally made it too the app. I’ve been waiting a long time and now it makes my life way easier. Check it out and start planning some road trips!

A PLAYSTATION 4 EXTRAVAGANZA: THE SLIM AND THE PRO
September 9, 2016 1:02 pm

Time has moved pretty quickly since the release of the Playstation 4 in 2013. But this week two new Playstation 4 models have been announced named the Playstation 4 Slim and Playstation 4 Pro.

I won’t go into the long debate of whether we need these upgrades now, but it has been three years into the life span of the PS4 and a normal consoles gets to 10 years of age before becoming obsolete. With that said, a slimmer cheaper model was bound to happen, easier for the consumer to use and take care of, cheaper and yet still perform just as well as previous models. Go here for a specs comparison of the three different models, the original, the Pro and the Slim.

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Original ————- Slim ————- Pro

The real intrigue from this week’s announcements is in the Playstation 4 Pro. This is a powerful machine that rivals gaming PCs and yet comes at a very competitive price while including a handful of features. The Pro will not only play games at a much smoother rate and performance level, it will be capable of streaming HDR and 4K capable content. If you don’t know what those are, check out a quick explanation of HDR and 4K to catch up on the latest tech.

Netflix has announced that it will have over 600 hours of 4K content, and now you will have somewhere to watch it, if you also have a compatible TV of course.

Certain games will also be HDR and 4K ready down the road, including Spider Man, Watch Dogs 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Battlefield 1, and Final Fantasy XV.

Do you think we need all this upgrading for a gaming system that still does its job fine? Are you planning on upgrading to a fast and more powerful PS4 Pro?

Here is what I would suggest. If you are a casual player, get the PS4 Slim, you have absolutely no need for the Pro now or the near future. If you love playing games and want the baddest/strong console available, buy the PS4 Pro ONLY IF you have a 4K and or HDR TV, otherwise it won’t really be any different. I am happy to see these two be announced, they are great additions to the Sony Playstation family, but they might have jumped the gun a little because the general public is still not at that level of high definition and need for speed.

The Playstation 4 Slim will be available on the 15th of this month for $299 and the Playstation 4 Pro will be available a little later this year on November 10th for $399.

iPHONE 7 AND iPHONE 7 PLUS SWOOP IN WITH A LOAD OF NEW SPECS
September 7, 2016 6:35 pm

 

It’s that time of the year again, time for Apple to find a new way to take millions of dollars from the world. The iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus were announced and everyone is ready to throw these new products in the toilet. No, not because they are terrible, but with a list of new specs and upgrades, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus can brave even the roughest of storms.

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The newest and most important updates for both of them are as follows:

1) Water Resistant! If you leave it in a fish tank for a few days, I don’t think it will work but it can withstand a drop in the wiz-palace, the pool or a very rainy day.

2) The new Home Button will no longer be a click or touch base, but a hard touch to better distinguish between brushing over it and actually pressing it.

3) No Headphone Jack! This is a double edged sword. It promotes bluetooth use which is nice…sometimes. New AirPods wirless head phones will be coming in late October, but for now you’ll be using standard Bluetooth or an adapter for the lighting charge port that will allow you to plug in normal headphones.

4) A 12 Mega-Pixel Camera is pretty big to fit on a cell phone, but they do it somehow. Easily beats all other cameras on previous iPhones.

5) The new Black design will be the new fancy color only available for the 128G and 256G models while the other colors upon release will be Rose-Gold, Gold, Silver and Matte Black.

6) The New A10 processor will make your iPhone 5 look like it was from the 90’s.

7) Not an exclusive to the iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, iOS 10 will be arriving the 13th, so be prepared for a big update for all your other devices.

 

There are a vast amount of other upgrades in it that you can check out here. The iPhone 7 Plus will have a long lasting battery, larger screen and include a second out facing camera that will allow 2x analog zoom (which actually seems pretty awesome).

The iPhone 7 will be priced at $649 with 32G, $749 with 128G, and $849 with 256G of storage. The iPhone 7 Plus is obviously at a higher price because of the extra things: $769 with 32G, $869 with 128G, and $969 with 256G.

Pre-Orders will be available on the 9th and it will be released on the 16th of this month. Are you willing to shell out close to a thousand dollars for the newest, biggest and baddest iPhone? Will you turn in your old one and upgrade it that you’ll still have some money for food and rent this month? Let us know what you’ll be doing at @ATYPICALSOUNDS on Twitter.

KEEP YOUR INTAGRAM PHOTOS WITH CHATBOOKS
September 2, 2016 10:50 am

A taste of nostalgia seems to be something that everyone loves. It is why we spend so much money on instant cameras, typewriters and record players. We all love the feel and the look of the analog, there is just something about the digital that loses the panache of things. This is exactly what Chatbooks is about.

Chatbooks tries to capture the magic of the photo album, in an era where the concept seems archaic. The way they revitalize this idea is in an ingenious manner. Chatbooks uses its app to link up with your Instagram or your Facebook account. After it is linked up, it gives you the option to scroll through your photos and find the ones that you want to add to your photo book.

The service is a simple one but it is one that has real potential. Many of us feel that even though our photos are up on a social media platform, that there is something about them that is just not as special. It might be that they are not physically there, not tangible objects that we can see with our eyes and touch.

When the inevitable zombie/ecorp/mayan/skynet apocalypse happens and the machines attack, you’ll be happy to know that you can still look at those memories of you, your friends and family. The product is one that will attract people of all ages, it provides you with a great idea for a gift, for anyone and at $8 per album, why wouldn’t you?

HUMMINGBAD MALWARE COULD BE A GATEWAY FOR ADDITIONAL ROOTKITS
August 12, 2016 9:12 am

There has been a lot of buzz in the tech community recently about a particularly bad piece of Android malware called HummingBad. The malware infects Android phones when users accidentally download a malicious third-party app, or opt for an unverifiable download on a website which comes loaded with the HummingBad package.

Once HummingBad has infected the device, it establishes a persistent rootkit and takes over its native functions.  According to Check Point, an I.T. security company, once HummingBad has infected a device it can install fraudulent apps and even generate false revenue by tricking users into clicking fake ads and links. Check Point estimated that HummingBad was able to yield cyber-criminals nearly $300,000 a month, through this process of click fraud.

The group effectively controls an arsenal of over 85 million mobile devices around the world. – Check Point

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These types of click fraud campaigns are common, although often not as financially successful, and can present real issues when it comes to security. Rootkits are packets of malware that establish themselves at the core of the device, or “root,” and they are dangerous because they often hide their existence by maintaining the appearance of something that is not harmful. 

Many people whose devices have been infected with this type of malware are entirely unaware that they are being victimized by a cyber-attack, while at the same time their information is being stolen and sold to the highest bidder.

According to Check Point, the dangers of these types of malware go beyond individual users. Malware packages like HummingBad could be used to target government agencies and businesses. 

Emboldened by financial and technological independence, [cybercriminals’] skillsets will advance putting end users, enterprises, and government agencies at risk. – Check Point

According to Check Point, this malware attack was part of an elaborate scheme by the Chinese Yingmob, in which the malware was sending notifications to the Umeng tracking and analytics service.  Devices have been infected world-wide, with the primary number of infected users in China.

Malware attacks like this that rely on click fraud and that are money-generating are certainly dangerous, but what is perhaps even more frightening is the potential that these rootkits, and the access to your device, has the potential to be sold.  We are entering a time when access to certain peoples’ or companies’ device root is a highly valued black-market commodity.

“Check Point believes this dangerous trend will escalate as other groups learn from Yingmob and find new ways to achieve the independence they need to launch larger and more sophisticated attack campaigns in the future.” – Check Point

Regardless, taking the necessary precautions to ensure that a device does not become infected with malicious malware in the first place is the best step towards protection. Stay away from unverified third party apps, and make sure you know the source of files that you are downloading.

ON THE EVIE OF TECHNOLOGY
August 10, 2016 9:56 am

As organizers go, there are many ineffective ones out in the market. Some do too much, some not enough. Evie does something magnificent. Evie is able to find the middle ground of an app that helps you manage your phone, without overwhelming you.

Evie acts as an organizer of sorts, that completely does away with your home’s set up. It gives you option to find things in an easier and more orchestrated fashion.

While we are all used to the template of having all of your apps in your home screen, Evie allows you to remove all that clutter, while making the search for your top apps easy.

 

Evie’s initial function clears out the home screen while teaching you that by swiping down, a screen showing a search bar will open up. The search bar can be used in the same way that a computer’s search function works.

If that is too easy, by swiping right on your phone, a tab will open from the left side of the screen, that has all of your apps and widgets in alphabetical order. A more convenient way to look for apps, at least for me.

Now you are thinking, why would I download an app that completely will redo everything that I have already taught myself? An app that will reteach me to use my phone? Get it because it is something new, it is something that I am sure your friends don’t have. Just because we all have the same phone, it doesn’t mean that we can’t use them differently, does it? Give it a try and it could become your new best friend.

MESSAGE SAFELY WITH SESAME
August 3, 2016 9:48 am

In a post by Edward Snowden, privacy can mean the world to some people. I don’t know about you, but between the regular run of the mill paranoia and the media hyped overplayed Orwellian way in which the government seems to have control over our information, I am honestly a bit scared.

A bit. Not too much. That’s probably because things are so bad that I might’ve just gotten used to it.

Regardless, privacy is a big concern to a lot of people nowadays. It is something that companies try their hardest to maintain. The Apple vs. FBI case earlier this year goes to show the extent to which a company will stand their ground in order to keep some sense of reliability with their customers. If privacy is your worry, check out Sesame.

Sesame is an encrypted messaging app. While Messenger from apple is very good as is, it is not enough sometimes. The paranoid tin hat wearing version of me never thinks general encryption is enough. I have to stop watching Mr. Robot.

Sesame works just as you would think, they promote your right to “own all of your data and messages.” The app is great, you can customize little things, you can change who can and cannot save your messages, it has end to end security encryption so that both users are protected, a feature that Facebook JUST added that we talked about earlier this week.

It also has one of the best features that I have ever seen on any app, ever. The “unsend” button. No matter how far back you send a message, you can unsend it. Fantastic isn’t it? It’s everyone’s dream button. How many times have you sent something and you wish you hadn’t. Let Sesame make that dream a reality, and in doing so, save you from getting in a lot of trouble.

The app is only available for from the App Store for now, but if you are lucky enough to have an iPhone, make sure to keep your information protected from the government fat cats and the oligarchs trying to destroy our society. As of the time of this post, it has been taken down an you can sign up to be put on a wait list for it here.