Friday, 16 March 2018

New Apple Headphones Coming Soon?

This week for Appy Friday, we are giving you a rundown of the new rumours on suspected upcoming products from Apple. The predicted over-the-ear headphones and AirPods 2 are the two main rumours for this year’s releases from Apple in terms of accessories, so we’ll be giving you all you need to know on these and when to expect them.

There are reports that Apple has been working on an over-the-ear headphone which is set to be released at the end of 2018, just in time for Christmas. However, it’s predicted these headphones won’t come cheap. With AirPods already costing £159 these headphones will likely be more than that.

The rumoured headphones are said to be wireless and noise cancelling much like various Beats models. The design of these headphones is unknown as of yet, however, there are lots of discussions on whether they will take the same design as the Beats headphones, or will they have a complete redesign to match the newer Apple releases.

Another rumoured Apple product is the AirPods 2, these AirPods have a suspected release date of either Spring 2018 or at WWDC in June 2018.

The AirPods 2 are rumoured to have a ‘Hey Siri’ feature in which you can activate Siri through them by simply saying that phrase. Another predicted feature of the new earphones is that they with be noise cancelling like the rumoured over-the-ear headphones. As well as these features they are assumed to work with the upcoming release of Apple’s own wireless charging pad. Also, there is a prediction for the third generation of AirPods to be water resistant in the future.

The AirPods 2 are likely to cost a similar amount the original AirPods but they could be slightly more pricey with the additional new features added.

So, that’s this week’s Appy Friday. Personally, I am most excited about the over-the-ears headphones and hope they go with a new design rather than the Beats designs. Let us know what you think to these releases and what you’re most looking forward to.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Top 5 Gadgets To Try In 2018!

This week for Appy Friday, we are going to give you the top 5 gadgets you should try this year. There are a range of different pieces of tech on this list from phones to TV’s. So if you’re looking to invest in a new bit of tech this year then why not try one of these.

The S9 and S9+ aren’t too different from the S8 devices, the only key difference being the improvement in the camera, so if you’re interested in a phone with a great camera then this is the device for you. However, if an excellent camera doesn’t really bother you then maybe just try the Samsung S8 or S8+ for the other great features of this Samsung phone.

This TV from Philips is a great gadget for 2018 with its unique Ambilight technology that makes the screen feel much wider. As well as this the edges of the TV are lined with small LED’s that emit vivid colours which are said to make an extension of what's happening on screen by subtly illuminating the surrounding area of the TV giving a relaxing glow.

If you’re looking for a great all-around portable speaker, then maybe give this one a try. These aren’t the cheapest speakers on the market as they start at £99 and go up from there. However, this is a great speaker if you’re in the market for a high-quality portable speaker. Also, the speaker has heavy bass levels and is completely waterproof so you can literally take it anywhere.

Nuraphones are very clever headphones, they adjust to your hearing by learning and adapting to your hearing, making them great for your hearing health. The headphones learn about your hearing by measuring your hearing in 60 seconds, by monitoring otoacoustic emissions and uses this information to mould the sound to your match your hearing. It all sounds very scientific!

The Fitbit Ionic is the strongest smartwatch from Fitbit and anyone who loves health and fitness is guaranteed to love this new smartwatch. The new Fitbit has the ability to track any workout with ease, and all these abilities of the smartwatch are encased in a stylish but comfortable design.

So, that's this week’s Appy Friday. Hopefully, we have given you some inspiration for some new bits of tech you may want to get your hands on this year. Let us know if you have already bought any of these or you’re planning on buying any of them!

Friday, 2 March 2018

Smartphone News From This Week's MWC (Mobile World Congress)

For this week's Appy Friday, we are breaking down all the news from Mobile World Congress (MWC) and just letting you know the most important new releases

Samsung announced the new S9 and S9+ although we all had a pretty good idea that this was going to be the case. The new S9 and S9+ biggest change from the S8 is that it now has a variable aperture which allows the camera to take in much more light when it’s dark. This means you can now take great pictures even when it’s dark. Another way that the camera allows you to take high-quality photos in the dark, is that it now takes 12 images per shot to combine them all together to reduce noise in images. Samsung predicts that the new camera will cut out background fuzz by 30%. Other than the updated camera not much else has changed, the screen is the same size as the S8’s as well as the battery life. A couple of other changes that don’t revolve around the camera are that the speaker is said to be 40% louder than on previous models, and the fingerprint sensor has been moved to just beneath the camera bump. Another announcement from Samsung is the Bixby smart-speaker, which is set to compete with the Apple HomePod and will be released in the second half of 2018.

Nokia is recreating the Nokia 8110 which was originally released in 1996. However, this new model has a curvy design with a sliding bottom section. As well as announcing this reboot, Nokia also announced the new Nokia 8 Sirocco. This is completely at the other end of the spectrum to the 8110. This high-end phone has face unlocking, and a 2K 5.5 inch P-OLED screen with a 6GB of RAM. Another Nokia release from the MWC is the new Nokia 7 Plus. This device has a 6-inch HD screen and has a rear camera with dual sensors to improve photography in low lighting and zoomed images. Nokia also announced an updated Nokia 6 with a new battery that can go from 0%-50% charge in just 30 minutes. Finally, the last thing Nokia announced was the Nokia 1. This is on the lower end of the all the new releases from them as it is expected to cost around £79 in the UK. It has a smallish 4.5 inch 720p screen with a plastic back.

At this MWC Huawei did not announce a new smartphones but did announce the MateBook X Pro and a few new tablets. Their new laptop MateBook X Pro is a 14-inch notebook which has a 3k screen, the camera in the notebook is hidden away in the top of the keyboard which can be shown by the press of a key. The MateBook X Pro also has an Intel Core i7 processor with up to 16GB of RAM. When it comes to the three tablets Huawei have announced, two of which are versions of the MediaPad M5, which has both an 8.4-inch version and a 10.8-inch version. The third tablet being the MediaPad M5 Pro which only comes in the 10.8-inch version. All these new devices have eight core processors which run Android 8, the larger options of these devices have four built-in speakers for the surround sound feel. Also to go with the M5 Pro, they announced the M-Pen with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity.

The Lenovo Chromebooks have been made to be more durable and able to cope with those accidental drops and spills. One of the Lenovo Chromebooks lets you take notes using a regular pencil on the screen, and the other Chromebook has a lag-free stylus. The most expensive of the Chromebooks is only around £253 and is, therefore, a cheap alternative to a traditional laptop.

Sony announced the updated versions of the previous Xperia XZ1 and Xperia XZ1 compact. Imaginatively called the Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact. Both of these updates come with a whole new design. The blocky shape has been replaced with curved edges, and the XZ2 has a new all-glass back on top of a metallic colour. The XZ2 compact has a matte finish in a variety of colours. The new devices have the same 19-megapixel rear camera, however, the XZ2 has a 5.7-inch HD screen and the compact has a 5-inch screen.

So, there are our more important announcements from MWC 2018. There are so many exciting releases on their way this year to get ready for. Let us know what your favourite product from MWC was and which things you’ll be buying!

Friday, 23 February 2018

How To Amp Up Your Phone Photography!

This week for Appy Friday we are teaching you how to amp up your photography when using your phone. Whether you’re trying to get the perfect Instagram image, or just making memories there’s something in here for everyone. From clip-on lenses to give you higher quality images, to simple photo editing apps to help assist you in enhancing your images.

Clip-on lenses
The first way to improve your phone photography is by using clip-on lenses to transform the look and quality of your images. These clip-on lenses range in price massively for £5-£85 so it all depends on how much you are willing to spend on these accessories, for example, one of the cheaper clip-on lenses is the Magniband macro lens for the majority of smartphones which can be bought for just £5.62. A more expensive alternative is the Olloclip 4-in-1 lens for iPhones 4-6s plus. However, this lens is £69.95 but the price reflects the quality of the product and this lens has 4 different capabilities.

The lighting is vital for making your photography good when using a phone to capture images. The best lighting for photography on a phone is soft natural lighting. If the image you wish to take is in the dark, then rather than using your phones flash to take the image, use a torch. Either from another phone or a physical torch so that the focal point of the image is photographed in a much nicer way and isn’t too harsh or sharp.

Use the rule of thirds
When creating the set up for your images, try and use the rule of thirds so that you have a better composition for your images. When the rule of thirds isn’t possible try and use symmetry to create the best looking images when using your phone. More information about the rule of thirds can be seen here.

Don’t zoom. Crop afterwards
When photographing something far away, don’t use your zoom as it makes the image quality much poorer. So, when taking an image of a landmark, for example, it may be slightly far away so just take the image from where you are with a good composition. Then, later on, put the image in an editing suite to crop the image to ensure it’s still of the highest quality.

Photo editing apps
There are many photo editing apps available in the app store. One of my personal favourites for filters is VSCO. Some other great photo editing apps are Google Snapseed, Adobe Photoshop Lightspeed and Adobe Photoshop fix. So once you’ve got your perfect image, you can give it some touch ups to enhance your photos.

So, there are our top tips to help you take incredible images without having to carry around a big bulky camera and associated kit. Personally, I love using a clip-on lens and VSCO to take and edit all my photos, so that they are the best they possibly can be. Let us know if you either try some of these tricks or have some more of your own.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Top 5 Motivational Apps!

This week we’re giving you our top 5 motivational apps to help get you through this year and be as successful as possible. There are a range of different motivational apps that will help you in all aspects of life to keep you motivated in your day to day tasks, and to keep you motivated to stay on top of your fitness regime.

Way Of Life
Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: FREE
The Way Of Life app is very helpful for either getting rid of a bad habit or making a good new habit. Way of Life uses colour coded systems to track your daily routines. The app also gives you reminders to ensure that you break the bad habits and continue with the good habits. Also within the app, there is a diary feature so that you can write down what triggered the bad habit.

Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: FREE
The iWish app helps you to achieve life goals, there are 1200 inspiring ideas built into the app if you don’t have many goals of your own, but want something to aim for. Once you have set out what your goals are, you can keep track of how you’re doing with those goals.  You can also add in all the accomplishments you’ve made towards your long-term goal. The app also features areas to add in to do lists, priorities, and reminders to help you stay on track.

Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: FREE
This app is great for motivating yourself to go out and get walking with the added element of competition to help motivate you. The app allows you to compete with your friends and be the one with the highest amount of steps, which will help to motivate you if you’re a highly competitive person.

Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: £1.46
The Wonderful Day app is great for helping you add your goals and activities that you want to work on over the following weeks and months. You can also choose what days you want to work on your activity. For example, you can add an activity like ‘go for a run’ every day as a daily reminder or ‘volunteer work’ as a reminder once a week. Then at 8am every morning the app will remind you of the tasks you have to do that day.

Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: FREE
The app is great personal coaching app. Within the app, there are 3 main features. The first is that you coach yourself to track your progress and get rewards for it. The second is when you take part in community coaching; Where the community will help to answer your questions and you can take part in that community to help better yourself. The third and final feature is that you can hire a private coach to personally help you, however those prices start at £14.99.

So, there we have our top 5 motivational apps to help you throughout the year and stay on top of your goals and aspirations. My personal favourite one of these is the Way Of Life app, this app is so great at helping you crack all those bad habits and stay on top of new habits. Let us know what apps you use to help keep you motivated and on top of your goals.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Apple HomePod - All You Need To Know!

Apple has finally entered the smart speaker industry and is releasing it’s very own ‘HomePod’. So, this week we’re giving you a rundown on everything you need to know about Apples smart speaker with its release date being today. This rundown will give you all the information you need from the prices to what the specs of the device are.

Release Date
The Apple HomePod was available for pre-order from Friday 26th of January and is actually released on the Friday 9th February (yes, today!). The HomePod will be available first in the US, UK and Australia with France and Germany getting it in spring.

The HomePod will be on sale for £319 in the UK and $349 in the US. You will be able to buy the HomePod from Apple’s online store as well as their high street stores. Also, the new Apple HomePod can be purchased from places such as John Lewis and other Apple stockists.

With the new Apple HomePod being so expensive in comparison to other smart speakers on the market today, for example, the one smart speaker seen as most similar to this one is the Amazon Echo which is priced at £149.99 with the smaller Echo Dot selling for £49.99.

P.S. If you're interested, read our MD, Richard Eaton's initial review of the Amazon Echo on his personal blog here

What To Expect From The Apple HomePod?

The Apple HomePod is mainly a music speaker, with high-quality audio that is comparable to the Sonos wireless speakers. However, since this comparison was made between the HomePod and Sonos wireless speakers, Sonos have announced they are in the process of creating their own smart speaker. The HomePod has the ability to still hear your voice over the top of loud music that is playing from the speaker, but not only does it respond to sound but also touch. Various tap sequences instruct the HomePod to do various different things like pause, play, skip or activate Siri. The HomePod not only has high-quality audio but also answers all your questions with Siri and sends messages and makes calls.

The HomePod has an A8 chip which allows spacial awareness capabilities so that the HomePod is able to analyse the room which gives it the ability to provide the best audio for its surroundings. Apple has said that the HomePod brings together Apple Music and Siri in order to learn your music taste. The HomePod has a very simplistic minimalistic design as it is covered in a seamless mesh fabric, it comes in two different colours white and space grey and is only 18 centimetres tall.

So, there’s everything you need to know. Personally, I think the HomePod is a good investment if you enjoy playing high-quality music throughout your house. However, if you’re just looking for a smart speaker which you can ask questions and get the answers quickly then I think there are better, cheaper alternatives for that use. Let us know what you think about this new release from Apple and whether or not you’ll be buying one.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Top 5 Health And Fitness Apps!

For this weeks Appy Friday, we’re giving you our top 5 health and fitness apps to help you reach your health and fitness goals. There are a range of different apps here which are suited to a range of different people and their needs, from healthy eating apps to apps to help you with your workouts, whether that’s in a gym or from the comfort of your own home.

Cost: FREE
Platform: iOS, Android
This app helps you to track your calories and everything you eat without it being a massive hassle as they have more than 3 million branded food products included. As well as this, it allows you to keep on top of a healthy diet with a lot more ease. There are
 also sections in which you can track your weight weekly.

Nike Training Club
Cost: FREE
Platform: iOS, Android
The Nike Training Club is a great app which is preloaded with a range of workouts that have different ranges of ability while also targetting specific areas of the body. As well as this, if you workout on the Nike Training Club app from a range of 15 minutes- 45 minutes, it will unlock different recipes, regimes and fitness tips to help enhance your health and fitness journey.

Pocket Yoga
Cost: £1.99
Platform: iOS, Android
This Pocket Yoga app helps you to build up your strengths in yoga without having to face an actual yoga class. This yoga app uses visual and audio guidance to help you through the 27 routines built into the app with different difficulties so there is something for everyone's abilities. As well as this there are over 200 positions which the app will guide you through.

Strava Cycling
Cost: FREE
Platform: iOS, Android
This app is a GPS for your cycling journeys and it allows you to track not only your speed but also the distance and elevation. Another that this app is good for is analysing your overall performance and you can also engage with friends by riding with friends in order to unlock achievements.

Cost: FREE
Platform: iOS, Android
This app is quite unique in that it puts your money at stake by allowing users to add a financial incentive to their dieting. The DietBet app allows users to buy into a ‘money pot’ along with many other people, then when they hit their weight loss targets then they share the winnings. The money that could be won isn’t massively life-changing, however, it is still an incentive.

So, there are the top 5 health fitness apps we think can help you. The one that I personally use regularly is the MyFitnessPal app and the Nike Training Club app as they are easy to follow and stick to. Especially with the push notifications form MyFitnessPal alerting you to add in your meals of that day. Don’t forget to let us know what your favourite app is and whether or not you’re going to try one of these apps!

Friday, 26 January 2018

Is The Future Of Charging Wireless?

Since all the new releases in 2017 of new devices that can be wirelessly charged there have been an increase in charging mats to make charging your devices easier and quicker. There’s a range of different companies which have come out with various different versions of their own charging mats.

One of the charging mats on the market is the Mophie wireless charging base, this charging mat is one that was released in conjunction with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X release meaning it’s perfectly suited to the new iPhones and it retails for £54.95 which can be found on both the Apple and Amazon website. This charging mat has one downfall though as it doesn’t allow you to charge multiple devices on this mat so that can be somewhat irritating if you have multiple devices to charge up at the same time.

Another charging mat available is the Ikea NORDMÄRKE triple wireless charging pad, this charging pad can be very useful as it allows you to charge up to 4 devices at the same time. Another good thing about this charging pad is that it's £60 and therefore quite reasonable with its ability to charge 4 of your devices. There is one downfall to this charging pad and this is that with it being so large to charge 4 devices means it’s quite large and not very portable.

If you’re looking into getting a wireless charging mat then why not try the Samsung multi-wireless charging tray, this charging mat allows you to charge up to 3 devices. The Samsung charging tray retails for £51 from the Samsung website. This charging mat has a very simplistic but stylish design and has an LED charging light to make it easy to use and suit your room with its minimalistic design.

One to watch out for is the Apple AirPower charging mat which is due to be released at some point this year it’s designed specifically for the iPhone 8 and iPhone X without there needing to be a wireless charging case on the device for it to actually charge. The AirPower charging mat also allows you to charge multiple devices at the same time and has a sleek, minimalistic design to suit anywhere you put it. The Apple AirPower charging mats are also compatible with the airpods case, Apple Watch and iPhone 8, iPhone 8+ and iPhone X, however, they have not yet released a price of how much their charging mat will retail for.

So there’s a rundown of the latest updates on wireless charger mats on the market and they could be the future of all charging. Although these charging mats are very appealing some have their downfalls of not being a fast charging product however they are still very useful for day to day use. Let us know if you use a charging mat and if you do which one do you use?


Friday, 19 January 2018

Top 5 Planning Apps!

This week we're giving you our top 5 apps to help you plan your day, time or road trips as a start to help you improve in 2018. There are various different apps to help you in different areas of planning your day so why not try out a few and see how they work for you.
Platform: iOS
Cost: £1.99
The Streets app is great for navigating your way around a new city or just when you get a bit lost. The app links up with Google street view except it works a lot quicker and smoother so that you don't miss a turn. This app also works on iPad Pro and Apple Watch where they show 360° images of various different streets.

Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: FREE
The If This Then That app allows you to automate things like if you are emailed contact information then you can set it to automatically save this information to your notes or contacts whichever you choose. Not only can the app do this but it can also connect to the Internet of Things which therefore allows the person to turn lights on and off at specific times. This app is great for helping you keep in control of your contacts so that you can build your list of contacts without forgetting anyone.

Platform: Android
Cost: FREE
DashClock is a great widget for Android devices it simply allows the user to place things on their home screens such as weather, appointments or anything they would find useful to help plan their day. Also, another good thing about this app is that the user does not need to login to see the information that they want to see, however a downfall of this app is that it is only available on Android devices.

Platform: Android and iOS
Cost: FREE
Piktochart is a really handy app which helps to make producing infographics or presentations 10 times easier to create. This app allows you to create work while on the go and even if you're not the most creative person, the app does all the work for you. The app is built with many templates for infographics, posts, presentations and reports so there's plenty to choose from.

Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: FREE
The Waze app is one of the best navigation apps out there, it gives you alerts on any traffic, police or hazards on your route. As well as this the app instantly re-routes around traffic so that you can save your time and plan your day without traffic ruining your commutes. Waze will also find you the cheapest fuel on your route and gives you an arrival time based on the live traffic.

So, there are our top 5 planning apps. My favourite personally is the Waze app it's so helpful for avoiding traffic and incidents that may have happened on your journey so it's very useful for getting to your destinations on time if you have to be somewhere for a specific time. Let us know if you use any of these apps and enjoy them or if there are apps that you find helpful for planning your day?

Friday, 12 January 2018

Top 5 Organisational Apps!

This week we're giving you a rundown of our top 5 apps to help you stay organised in the new year. Why not start the year as you mean to go on and try some of these organisational based apps to help you stay on top of everything this year.

Platform: iOS
Cost: £9.99
Things is a great app to help you manage your time and is a great all rounder app. It covers all things organisational that you could imagine, although the price reflects that. The Things app includes lots of features such as the ability to talk to Siri and add reminders that allows you to get things off your mind quickly. As well as this you can create projects for each of your goals which give you more structure and clarity to view all your current goals. Your calendar events can also be incorporated into the app also which allows you to plan your time in relation to your to-do lists, goals and your current workflow for what you need to get done.

Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: Free
Evernote allows you to collect, write and capture ideas or things you need to jot down to get out of your mind but not forget about. This app gives you various note-taking format options such as sketches, text, audio, PDFs, video, web clippings, photos and many more. You can also utilise your phone's camera with this app as you can scan and digitalize images. Evernote also lets you sync up with all your other devices so you never miss anything and keep everything secure with a password. Using Evernote, you can also create checklists and reminders to keep you on track with all your tasks, along with many other business orientated abilities that Evernote has.

Google Drive
Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: Free
With Google Drive, you can easily save all your documents and view other documents, PDF's, videos and photos. Not only can you save files for your own use but it also makes sharing files with other people very easy. The Google Drive app is a great one for backing up all your documents and sending them to colleagues or friends.

Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: Free
The LastPass app is great for keeping all your passwords secure so that you can sign into everything with touch ID. LastPass allows you to set one strong password to allow you stay in control of all your different variations of passwords to various different websites and apps. There are also management features to store usernames and passwords.

Be Focused Timer
Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: Free
The Be Focused app allows you to manage your tasks, track your progress throughout the day and use the fast goal tracking tools. You can also maximise your productivity by altering the work interval. whether that's with shorter breaks or longer breaks. This app allows you to figure out how you work best which then allows you to get as much work done as possible so you can stay on top of tasks.

So there are our top 5 organisational apps, there are a range of different types of organisational apps that you could benefit from. However, my personal favourite that I use daily is Evernote, it's a great all rounder app and even better it's free! So why not try it out! Let us know what apps you use to help you stay organised?

Friday, 5 January 2018

Top 5 Productivity Apps for 2018!

For the first Appy Friday of the year we thought we'd start by maybe targeting your new year's resolution of being more productive if that's your aim for 2018. We've put together a list of our top 5 apps which will help you to improve your productivity throughout the year. All the apps have something unique and could just help you spend less time getting distracted.

Platform: iOS
Cost: FREE
Hours Time Tracking is a great app which allows you to stay on track with your timing to ensure you stay productive. The app allows you to set various timers/ reminders; and start, stop and switch between them all. You can set the reminders to nag you to start different tasks at the right time so you aren't spending too long on distractions. You can also track your time by clients, projects and tasks, so it may be a good one to try out to improve your productivity.

Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: FREE
Momentum is a very simple yet effective app for habit tracking that will help you reach your goals. You can use this app through all your tablets, smartwatches and phones, meaning that you can track your habits through all your devices. Also, the app allows you to be flexible in that you can set weekly or daily targets.

Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: FREE
Pocket is great for removing any possible distractions of interesting articles. Pocket app allows you to save those articles for later so you can read them when you've finished your tasks for the day. Not only can you save articles within the app for use offline, but it also recommends more articles that the app thinks you may enjoy. 

Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: FREE
This app eliminates all those times you need to send yourself a link to your phone, as you just press the push button on the app to send the link directly to your phone. You can also do this with files and documents so that it removes the time it takes faffing around send links to yourself via emails and waiting for them to come through. Not only that, you can you send these links and files to other contacts too.

Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: FREE
Scanbot is great at eliminating all the time spent messing with printers and scanners as it lets you scan documents and QR codes. The documents you scan can then be turned into high-quality PDFs or JPG's easily. You can then send the files you create via email, iCloud, Dropbox, Evernote and other cloud services. Not only this, but the app allows you to enhance your scans; For example, you can apply colour, grayscale or black and white filters.

So, there are our top 5 productivity apps to help you improve your workflow and the amount of work you complete in a day. For me, the most useful app out of these is Scanbot as it helps to reduce the time you spend messing with printers and scanners which therefore helps you to get through these tasks a lot quicker. Let us know what apps you enjoy using to help you improve your productivity?