New Apps

OVERSHARING IS CARING
April 13, 2016 12:23 pm

This generation seems to be completely obsessed with themselves. By default, our apps are ready to shamelessly show off the Screenshot_2016-04-13-12-07-19most intimate parts of ourselves, including our bodies. One app in particular though seems to bring a little of the shame and a touch of honesty into our over-shared little world.

Shorts is an app created in order to bring you even closer to your friends, by sharing even more of yourself. The goal of Shorts, according to its creator Paul Davison, is to get people to not share only the parts of them that they want public, but every part of them. Shorts aims to give your online persona a little more modesty. People can now get a look into your entire camera roll.

Now if you’re a reserved, grumpy piece of shit like me (who is kind of over this whole social media crap) you might be thinking, “oh great, another useless app.” If you are thinking that, you are totally right.

Although Shorts differentiates itself by trying to be more transparent, isn’t there enough of you out there already? Be it the glossed up you or not, do you really want more of you out in the internet? Even though it might be a great idea, it isn’t one that will catch on. Those that are private individuals will find it to be invasive, and the less private ones might find it to be damaging. If you are a person who is really into these apps, you probably take into consideration your online persona. Why would you want people seeing the 75 other pictures you took of yourself while trying to choose the “perfect selfie”?

Sometimes I take a look at all of the apps that I have on my phone, and I admittedly get a little overwhelmed. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are these media machines where you give them your precious and valuable time and they offer public scrutiny in return. Now do you really want another one of these? Worst of all, one that has no intention of allowing yourself to look good? I’ll stick with my Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter and Vine thank you very much.

UBER EATS IS HERE
March 22, 2016 6:07 pm

Thank the heavens and nature for granting us opportunities galore to indulge in the the most innovative eats this metropolis has ever seen. Uber Eats has arrived! The ever-popular car service app has launched a new food delivery service, because taking over the world requires going after the hungry and the lazy first. Seamless has got some new competish in these gritty streets of New York (and Los Angeles, Chicago, San Fransisco, Houston and Toronto). Uber is slowly dominating, and I don’t think anyone will fight this one.

Uber Eats has technically been around since April of last year, but inconveniently only available in the afternoon during lunch hours in midtown and with a very small handful of restaurants. This time around however, they’re available from 8am until midnight with a serious list of mouth-watering offerings to choose from including Hill Country Chicken, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Pies ‘N’ Thighs, and the amalgamation of everything we love about America, the sushi burrito.

To add some grill to the flame, for a limited time there is no tip or delivery fee included! Eventually, they will start including a small delivery fee, but until then, I’ll have to pack away my seamless. And although it would be pretty cool to pretend my dinner is being delivered by the mafia while its escorted by the black truck and suited driver that Uber is known for, they boast a speedy delivery (mostly under 30 minutes) thanks to their bike couriers. I have some meals I need to enjoy without moving. Get the app available on iOS and Android here!

Written by Annie Paul 

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OPEN GARDEN: THE INTERNET OF US
March 10, 2016 12:10 pm

The next revolution will not conspire in a dingy tavern. The jury’s out on whether or not the next revolution will be televised. More than likely though, the next mass protest will be orchestrated via text message.

Open Garden is an innovative little tech firm based in San Francisco that are tinkering with our very preconceived notions of the internet.

Their flagship product FireChat is a mobile application that allows you to communicate without access to the internet or a mobile network.

FireChat uses the radio inside your phone to connect directly with adjoining phones within a 210 foot radius, otherwise known as an off-the-grid mesh network. The more devices that are connected to the network, the larger the web gets. This makes it easy to build ad hoc networks to get the buzz going at conventions and music festivals like Burning Man and SXSW. But perhaps where FireChat has the most impact are in isolated areas where internet is limited, such as the tropical paradise of Tahiti, or situations in which conversations are being heavily monitored, such as the pro-democracy protests in Honk Kong.

Open Garden was founded by a group of renegade technologists, and ex-engineers of the file-sharing tool BitTorrent. CEO Micha Benoliel was instrumental in creating telecommunications mainstay Skype. The company has been backed by a handful of high-profile investors, including Mark Cuban. In total their investment capital amounts to over $12.8 million.

So you’re the one at the party that likes to share. You know who you are. Give yourself a pat on the back and keep doing you. Now you can share your internet access with outsiders as well. FireChat lets you dictate how much data you are willing to share, and with whom you are sharing it with.

For the most part accessing this app is fairly simple, just find it at the App Store or Google Play and download.

Next it’s time to create a profile: pick a username, add a photo and a short bio, you know the drill. Don’t fret too much over this step–you have the option of keeping your identity anonymous when you join a network. Once you’re up and running it’s time to join a chatroom. Like Twitter and Instagram, FireChat utilizes hashtags to denote various chatroom categories (#AtypicalBeasts). This also makes it a lot easier to share your chatroom or a chatroom you’re participating in with friends online.

Lastly, a few additional features to keep in mind. You can block nuisances or creeps. You can also disperse photos. You can even send private messages if you don’t want to engage the entire surround community into your conversation. it’s a simple tool with a lot of flexibility.

Open Garden has already inspired a host of new internet services. An emerging market abound with buzz on the blogosphere these days is the so-called Internet of Things, commonplace items like light bulbs and thermostats that will soon be part of our internet ecosystem. These items might run more efficiently and more cost-effectively if they could periodically key into a network emitted from a nearby device rather than have to constantly be connected to WiFi.

Another area of interest are emerging markets, such as Africa. Off-the-grid networks could be particularly useful in markets where cellular coverage and internet access is scarce, or where it might be more economical to share a single cellular service. Open Garden wants to help connect the next 1 billion devices to the internet and are actively seeking partners to help them deploy their FireChat MeshKits.

Open Garden is certainly proving to be a force in the telecommunications game and it seems the possibilities are endless.

SCHOOL IS IN SESSION WITH YOUSICIAN
February 29, 2016 10:50 am

As a person who is not skilled or talented in any way other than writing, (which.. let’s face it.. is not really a talent or skill) I was incredibly pleased when I found out about this app.

Yousician is a new app that acts as your musical instructor. It hears you play a certain song and it will track how close or off you were in relation to said song and even gives you obstacles and different “missions” that will enhance your motivation to learn.

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Since I don’t play any instrument really well, I asked my friend If I could borrow his guitar in order to practice using this app. It was great, Yousician helps even the least knowledgeable like me, it asks for the level of experience that you have and then according to that it teaches either the basics, like tuning a guitar or learning frets or something more advanced.

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Yousician at the moment can help you learn three different instruments. The guitar, ukulele and the piano. The app works great with a few hiccups here and there but nothing that completely derails from the learning experience or from the fun of using the app.

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If I hadn’t sold my guitar for 20 bucks, I would definitely have downloaded this app. How was I supposed to know 3 years ago that this would come into fruition? Well, if you are having a hard time picking up your instrument, know that there is an easy way to learn it all.

THANKS, LIKE A LOCAL
February 18, 2016 5:54 pm

You like to travel, sure, but you ain’t no tourist. You’re here to see the real city, not these smarmy tourist traps featured in your airport brochure. You’re not afraid of the road less traveled. Any city can be paradise if you know what you’re looking for. You do know what you’re looking for, don’t you?

If not, don’t worry, because Like A Local has you covered. The popular travel app has up-to-date recommendations from residents of cities around the globe. And when I say cities, I mean every single city you could possibly want to visit. From Amsterdam all the way down to Zagreb (which, it turns out, is the capital of Croatia), the list is truly staggering. Of course they know the skinny on Paris, Sydney and Rio de Janeiro–I mean who doesn’t, right? But what about Istanbul, Vancouver or Buenos Aires? Local recommendations out the wazoo. Boulder, CO; Phoenix, AZ; or Lafayette, LA? Make domestic travel your bitch. Even if you’re not actually traveling you can still find loads of activities in NYC, LA, DC, Chicago, and a handful of other North American cities. It’s all just a click away.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some examples.

By now you’ve probably heard that New York City has a lot to offer, but God forbid you actually live here to find out for yourself. What does Like A Local recommend? Given my location (off the L train) and time of day (afternoon), they recommend Roberta’s Pizza, The City Reliquary, and Beacon’s Closet (to name a few), three highly regarded Brooklyn establishments. So, pretty legit.

Did I hear somebody ask about Boston? No? Maybe it was just me. Anyways, Like A Local recommends the Arnold Arboretum, the Harpoon Brewery and the Coolidge Corner Theatre (to name a few). All of these places I have been to during my days as a local Bostonian, and all of them are awesome. Good work, Like A Local.

Okay let’s try international. I’ve always wanted to go to Vienna (mostly for the sausages) but I’m sure I wouldn’t know what to do once I got there. Well Like A Local has 130 recommendations grouped into categories like “Guide to Imperial Vienna,” “Most Popular Green Areas” and “Best Nightlife Spots.” Couldn’t be easier! Kind of makes me want to hop a flight there right now…

I won’t, but it’s nice to know that, if I did, I’d have cool things to do once I got there. Thanks, Like A Local (and also the hundreds of helpful foreigners providing insight into their respective cities), for optimizing my next vacation. Looking forward to it!

LET THE SPECTACLE ASTOUND YOU, MSQRD
February 16, 2016 8:20 pm

As an avid user of Snapchat and of their extremely dumb (albeit fun) filters, I was extremely excited when I heard about Masquerade, or MSQRD.

MSQRD joins the plethora of apps like Tumblr and Grindr to cut vowels out of their name in order to shorten them, because in our ADD addled world, we don’t have time to spell out a full word.

MSQRD is an app that uses the face swapping software in order to put more accurate filters that are very entertaining. MSQRD has a filter that allows you to look like Leonardo DiCaprio, and who doesn’t want to look like Leo? The app allows for a better snapchat-ey filter experience. At least that’s what the jargon on their page will make you believe. Whether you do or don’t, the app is entertaining as hell, that is if you can acquire it.

MSQRD like many other apps has excluded me for having an android… I know, I know it is easier to put apps on the app store first. I just don’t think it’s a viable business option. Wait until you can do that on all phones or don’t do it at all.

I know I say that as a bitter android user, but c’mon. IPhones? Why? They all look the same. I was on the subway the other day and a phone rang, it was an IPhone, I know because they all have that same fucking ringtone. I shit you not, about 12 people went crazy rummaging through their oversized coats and bags until one found the ringing phone among the dozen.

Anyway. After ranting among myself and whoever was around to hear that (my cat) I was able to get back on task. The MSQRD app manages to pull off the Snapchat’s filter trick and enhance it by offering you a broader variety with a quality that is unarguably better than Snapchat’s. The app is one which you can find comfort in and use in a very entertaining way. Cara Delevingne has posted several videos on her Instagram using the app herself, so if you have any  question as to the quality of the app, go and check her out.

Download MSQRD at the app store and for all of you Android users like myself, be on the lookout for a Play Store release. We’ll get one soon, hopefuly, if not then we riot.

 

THIRSTIE FOR BOOZE DELIVERY
January 21, 2016 6:11 am

We’ve all been there. Oh shit it’s mom’s birthday! Better get her a bottle of wine. Good thinking, that’s just what she’d want. Or maybe more like we’re already drunk but running low and it’s cold outside.

Well you really should have thought about that before the party, what were you thinking?! Or what about I’ll be late to the train if I stop at the store. Hot damn, you’re shit outta luck! What are you gonna do? If only there were a reliable alcohol delivery service in your area. There are literally billions of reasons–honest, proud reasons–for an alcohol delivery service, why haven’t they figured this out by now?

Well they have and it’s called Thirstie. Thirstie is an alcohol delivery and recommendation service, servicing cities like San Francisco, LA, New York and Miami. Thirstie relies on local distributors to actually deliver the goods, but they maintain strict oversight and consider the user experience paramount. They also produce online, drink-related content and provide reliable recommendations.

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Really ups your small-talk game. I mean, just picture yourself at your office wine and cheese party. You need pairing recommendations to impress your boss, you know how chatty he can get at parties. Tell me more about that gouda! Wow you take the subway too? Please don’t look me in the eyes. Preparation is mandatory. Thirstie’s got your back.

Really though, what else are you gonna do? Alcohol delivery is the future, and without it you’re left with limited options. You could just muster some energy and go drink at a bar, nothing wrong with that. Text your friends, “Waddup broskis, wanna hit up Skinny Jimmy’s? Lookin 2 get tipsy on some whiskey.” I think we all know that’s a no go, bro. Not gonna be one of those nights. Maybe you just give up and decide you’re content to drink the beer your brother brought you two weeks ago that nobody wanted and has been sitting in the back of the fridge ever since. Why do they even make Sam Adams’ Cherry Wheat? It doesn’t make any sense, try not to lose sleep over it.

You already know the solution, and you can download it onto your phone. You can press a few buttons and have high quality alcohol delivered to your doorstep. Holy shit, why haven’t I done this already? I know, right? You said it, buster! Download it now and thank me later.

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QUELL YOUR LIVE MUSIC THIRST WITH QELLO
January 5, 2016 12:26 am

This morning I saw Radiohead live at The Astoria in London. In 1994. I know what you may be thinking. “Well Xavier, you’re only 22 how were you able to see that, also this morning?” And to that I say, “how do you know how old I am, reader?” To which you’ll respond “no seriously dude, stop being a dick.” Qello is a music platform that allows you to watch live shows from a collection of thousands of concerts and music documentaries, that’s how I did it, reader.

The platform, which started in 2010, is great for music fans that want to view their favorite artists’ live shows from the comfort of their own home, or office, or public tiolet. Qello could be viewed from your computer or from its app for both android and apple devices. The platform’s live performances include high quality concerts which are incredibly impressive for some of the older artists. They also have some great documentaries like Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck.

Qello is a great resource for live music. That being said, so is YouTube. Qello does have a very impressive collection but not one that is worth the $7.99 monthly fee. Especially when YouTube has some of this same collection for free. I was able to find Radiohead’s live at The Astoria concert, the same one on Qello, for free on YouTube. Same thing for Amy Winehouse’s Live in London performance.

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The site’s design looks as if it hasn’t been redone since 2010. The video player also looks super outdated. These aren’t completely fatal flaws in a site, but looks are important.

The site doesn’t have every artist because of obvious licensing reasons. You’ll be stuck if you try to look for any Arctic Monkeys, Fiona Apple, Mazzy Star or even The Strokes. These are obviously not the only ones, just the ones I tried to look for.

A lot of contemporary music is missing from their catalogues, which is another one of their big flaws. If you look in their “Spotlight” collection, you’ll see Queen, Elton John and Eric Clapton at the top.

Although I think the site is flawed, it’s still worth a try. It allows for a free week trial, which I signed up for in order to be able to see some of the other content. I’ve fallen in a concert hole; I’ve seen Amy Winehouse, The Doors, The Dresden Dolls, Radiohead and Queen today. This article was supposed to be due hours ago. Hopefully my editor understands, she did assign me this. What did she expect?

So if you’re like me and you’d like to watch some artists that are either dead or haven’t gone on tour in a while, (I’m looking at you Radiohead. Seriously, wtf?!) then check out Qello. Sign up for a free weekly trial. Then try to remember to cancel it. I know I will.

ADVENTURES ON TASTEBUDS
January 4, 2016 10:06 am

It takes a certain type of person to really explore what dating sites have to offer. I call those people masochists. However, there seem to be a lot of people who enjoy the unique abuse of online dating, as there are a never-ending stream of ways to be blown off by the opposite (or same) sex from your computer.

Tastebuds, a dating site launched in 2010, looks to pair singles by taking participants’ “liked” bands from Facebook, Spotify, and Last.fm, and matching users to those with similar tastes. If you’re into music, you’re probably already familiar with it.

I joined Tastebuds about 18 months ago, and promptly forgot about it. Aside from a once-monthly email with matches, I hadn’t had much contact with the site until logging on recently to find about 50 unread messages from other users. I was surprised, as my profile was barely filled out, and my face was only (partially) visible in one of my photos. Scanning through the messages, I realized 99% of them were a result of the “Message Bomb” feature, which allows users to send a single question to 8 of their randomly-selected matches. Who came up with this? No one likes “form” messages. Because these messages are being sent to a random selection of users, the people writing them seem to feel like the messages should be both funny and general; one Message Bomb sent to me asked, “Would you rather be hairy all over or completely bald?” (Hint: I’m already one of those.).

Some cursory Googling also revealed that newer members of Tastebuds are now required to buy a membership or pay a fee just to respond to messages. The prices for membership range from $10 for one month to $30 for six months, and include additional features like removing ads, and the ability to view profiles anonymously. I understand that the company needs to make money, but charging people to respond to messages isn’t the way to do it.

I don’t mean to shit on Tastebuds. I think finding people with similar taste in music is a great idea. You can even set your search parameters to find matches in areas you may be vacationing in, so you have someone to go to shows with. Unfortunately, I think the whole thing is bogged down by questionable user experience and member abuse of the aforementioned features. I’m still going to hang on to my (free) membership – maybe that guy who shares my love of both Hanson and Placebo will finally pop up.

YOUR NEW A.I. ASSISTANT
December 23, 2015 4:21 pm

Artificial Intelligence has come a long way from being just a theme in sci-fi. It has become something that is present in our daily lives. From Microsoft’s Cortana, to Apple’s Siri, artificial intelligence has come into our lives, becoming an essential way to live easier. Way easier.

X.ai is a company that was funded in early 2014 with the thought of using artificial intelligence as a personal assistant. The product that they created was Amy.

Amy is an A.I. made by x.ai that acts as a personal assistant by using data you offer in order to book appointments for you. You start off by emailing x.ai your availability and Amy then keeps that stored for future reference when booking your appointments. Once that is completed, you just simply CC Amy when sending out an email or a reply, where you would have to schedule a meeting, and Amy does the rest. Amy corresponds back and forth with the other person and gives them available times for meetings.

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Amy makes sure that you have a set time and when it is all set and done, sends you an email confirming the date at the end. While this product is made for mostly business types, it is one that is available to anyone. If you want to schedule a dinner date with your friend, you can totally do that with Amy. It might make you look like lazy, but has that ever stopped you from doing something, or nothing, before?

What makes Amy different than most other A.I. is its eerie human likeness. From the testimonials on twitter, it seems that most people find Amy to be a product that is competent and something that they
can rely on. Not as charming as Samantha from Her, not as life threatening as Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Amy is right in the middle of the A.I. spectrum on a zone that Goldy Locks and I would call just right.

While Amy is a great service for the modern businessman, it might not be the case for the everyday lay person. If you are coming in and out of meetings every day and don’t know how to manage your work and home life, then Amy will become a cheap alternative to having an assistant. If you don’t fit the aforementioned type then this product is probably not a practical option. Better to just text your friends back and forth until you find a common open date. If you need a little guidance, a planner might come in handy. Or not. I’ve found out the hard way that when you take out your planner in the middle of a conversation to plan a date, you just get mocked.

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