Android Hacks

This year we saw some of the most innovative technology since the smartphone became a part of our everyday lives. Between the Apple and Android, it’s tough to say who came out with the biggest updates. Today we are going to focus on one of the most popular new Androids, the Samsung Galaxy S6. When it was released earlier this year, we fell in love with some of its cool upgrades and features. Below we have compiled a few cool hacks, apps and shortcuts to give you the ultimate Android experience.

First we will start off with some apps that will make your everyday life a breeze. It’s getting close to New Years, and if getting your life together is your resolution, pick up an app called “Evernote” in the Google Play store and get your life organized. This app will sync up with all your calendars in your phone, so that everything runs together flawlessly between your smartphone and your desktop. This app allows you to come up with a meeting idea, set a time and then invite people. You can also track your projects from start to finish, and keep track of your goals as you meet them. Evernote is a free app, and has paid options if you want to expand out what you would like to do. This is a great app for work, but you can use it for your everyday life too.

One of our new favorite Android features is the screenshot. Back in the day, this was the Android user’s biggest complaint: the inability to screenshot pictures and text conversations. This is one area that the iPhone dominated; iPhone users have had this ability for years. Now it’s just as easy for Android users, just press the power and volume button down at the same time, and voila: you have a screenshot. You can also download a screenshot app like “Shootme” which takes a screenshot with a just a few shakes of your phone. Easy as pie.

If you are tired of carrying around a garage door opener, there’s an app for that. Snap up the “Garageio” app in the Google Play store, and pretty soon you can open and close your garage door from just about anywhere. This app is great if you are the forgetful type that leaves the house and then spends the rest of the day wondering if you left the garage open. Now you can just check your Garageio app, and it will let you know if the door is open or closed, no matter where you are.

Although the Samsung Galaxy S6 already comes with a sweet 16-megapixel camera, there are some apps that you can download to make your pictures even better. Our favorite is “Camera 360 Ultimate,” which is available in the Google Play store. This app features over 200 filters and tools that allow you to fix your picture flaws and imperfections.

If you are over having to download apps from the Play Store, or sick of having the same apps as everyone else, you always have the option of hacking your own phone.
In the iPhone world this is referred to as “jail-breaking,” and in the Android world this is referred to as “rooting.” Once you have rooted your Android device you will have what is referred to as “superuser” permissions that will allow you complete control over the access to your phone and the applications that you want to use. When you root your phone, you can install some root-only apps that aren’t available in any app store. One reason that Apple is so against jailbreaking is that would mean that you have access to other types of apps that aren’t available for purchase on their app store; therefore they are not receiving the app royalties. Android is an open-source platform, and Google is much more liberal when it comes to their consumers hacking their own phones. Some problems with rooting your phone include not only voiding your warranty but also running into a shady root program that has backdoor loopholes, which allow other hackers into your phone. So you have to be careful which root apps you can trust. On the upside, if you choose to root your phone, you can choose to break free of your phone’s operating system altogether.

While some users were turned off by the Galaxy S6’s similarity to the iPhone6. It didn’t help that they also released the Galaxy S6 Edge, very similar to the iPhone6s and iPhone6s Plus. The physical appearances are not where the similarities end however. Samsung was quick on the heels of Apple’s mobile payment system when they came out with Samsung Pay earlier this year. This means that Samsung users now also have the option of paying quickly at the register by swiping your phone instead of your card. This is not an option that has caught on quite yet, despite how convenient it may be. Do yourself a favor and try it out at one of the thousands of retailers that are participating with Samsung pay. It’s quick to download, and will end up saving you time and hassle. If this catches on, you may not need to carry your credit cards on you anymore.

We are keeping our ear to the ground, as it is anticipated that Samsung will release the Galaxy S7 this January, which is a few months before their typical March release date.

Fresh New Phone Hacks

If you are the type of techie that loves the latest and greatest, chances are that you have either an iPhone6s or a Samsung Galaxy S6 in your pocket. It’s been a big year for smartphones, and there is a lot to catch up on. We took some time to compile some of the biggest hacks for both, if you are an iPhone lover check out our list below. We will post our list for Android aficionados next week!

iPhone 6s

The “live” photo is one of iPhone6s’s most talked about features. The live photo feature captures a few seconds before and after a picture, so your pictures will literally be brought to life with movement. A cool hack for this feature is that live photos can also be used for your home screen, so your wallpaper can be interactive. Just select a live photo for your background and watch as it comes to life.

If you are fan of FaceTime, the iPhone6s just upped their game in a big way. The new 5-megapixel FaceTime HD Camera makes for perfectly clear FaceTime calls. If you are one of those people who are a fan of taking pictures of yourself, otherwise known as a “selfie” – the 5-megapixels will work great for that too, and the retina flash that is included in the self-facing camera will light the area around your face. There is even a built-in photo album devoted for these “selfie” photos. If you really want to up your selfie game, make sure your surrounding lighting is good as well, this way the flash will naturally erase your flaws.

The iPhone’s regular camera is pleasantly clear too, with 12 megapixels this camera takes razor sharp pictures that are easily uploadable. You don’t even have to have Instagram or Facebook open, just simply press on the picture and upload right away from the options below. Quick and easy.

If videos are more your thing, the new iPhone will also let you shoot videos in 4K resolution, which is four times higher than regular HD, and allows you to upload that video to YouTube with a click of a button.

If you catch a bit of a song while you are out on the go, and you want to know who sings it, iPhone6s has you covered. There is no need to have the actual Shazam app open or downloaded, you can just ask Siri, as Shazam is built into the new iPhone6s. As long as there are a few seconds of the song available, just ask Siri “what song is this?” and she will use the app for you to get you song info.

In that same vein, if you are using Apple music, there are a few hacks for that as well. Ask Siri some off the cuff questions, like “play me the #1 song in 1994” and she will bring up a 1994’s chart toppers. Apple music comes with a free two month trial, so far it looks pretty similar to Spotify. If you are into a particular song that you are hearing on Apple music, you can tell Siri that you want to hear other songs like it, and it will pull up similar music a-la Pandora style.

This hack is a little older, but still not well known. If you need to get your phone charged up in a hurry, just simply put it on “Airplane Mode” and it will charge in a jiffy.

If you are in the middle of reading an article, but you don’t have time to finish it, just press firmly on the link and the iPhone will save your space for later by adding it to your reading list.

We will keep you updated with other new iPhone6s hacks as soon as they are discovered, stay tuned!

Yelping South Park

The big question that is looming over the Bay Area today: “Is Yelp suing South Park or not?” If you missed this week’s newest South Park episode, you missed out on some laughs. The episode depicts Cartman and his buddies as going Yelp-crazy, expecting discounted dinners in trade for their reviews. It is basically a really mild episode of South Park until the end, when they compare Yelp reviewers to members of ISIS. In actuality Yelp might have a leg to stand on in the slander department for that type of comparison. But would they really sue over this, and risk looking like they can’t take a joke? South Park has always been controversial, and others in the past that have taken their depictions too seriously have risked looking like they have no sense of humor. NBC broke the story this morning, which made the actual story seem true. The creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker even had a comeback:

“We’ve taken a hard look at the information presented to us, and after reviewing it, we have given Yelp and their lawsuit only one star. Their lawyers delivered us legal documents in a very unprofessional manner; not bothering to smile or even a quick handshake. The writing on the envelope was barely legible and in two different colors. It is our personal opinion that Yelp could do a much better job by not suing us for ten million dollars.”

There was an announcement later in the day that it was not true, and that Yelp thought the episode was funny. So which is it? Can Yelp take a joke or not? I guess we will have to wait and see.

Facebook “Reactions”

Facebook introduced their newest innovation this week, and those who were expecting a “dislike” button were disappointed. Instead Facebook revealed 7 emoji’s spanning different emotions ranging from anger to love. Facebook is calling the emoji’s “reactions,” and considering them an extension of the “like” button. Although the little emoticons are cute, some are questioning what the point of having them as a selectable option might be. These emoji’s would be placed at the end of stories in your news feed, as well as on friend’s statuses.

In reality, if you currently want to leave a comment on a post, you can use an emoji. Right now you would select it from your phone’s keyboard, so having the option of choosing one on the post itself just seems like a lazy man’s shortcut. Would a dislike button be a better option? While these emoticons would allow us to give an emotional response, are little cartoon character faces the best way to go about that? Looks like time will tell. Currently the emoji “reaction” option is still in test phase, with the testing audience set to both Spain and Ireland. As of right now there is no concrete date of when they will be available for use.

Google’s Fiber Takeover

Most of us use Google daily, whether it be looking up information on the browser, translating another language or using their navigation system to get around. Now Google’s next big venture is coating the underground of the United States in fiber cables, eventually offering us all Internet and cable.

Google started their fiber division as a concept back in 2010, and around 2012 they tested this concept in Kansas City. While Google is busy expanding their US fiber optic takeover, many hope that it may be finally hitting the Bay Area soon.

Five years after it’s conception, Google is now starting to push its fiber project, with plans to expand in California’s Silicon Valley, San Diego, San Antonio, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee and parts of North Carolina. Fiber is currently available in Provo Utah, Austin Texas and in Kansas City.

So what’s the big draw to Google Fiber services? One word: Speed. You know that annoying buffering signal you sometimes get when you are streaming Netflix? With Google Fiber this is supposed to be a thing of the past. Google’s fiber touts speeds of 1000 Mbps whereas typical speeds that is currently offered by Internet providers are between 10-50 Mbps. So that is an increased speed of 50-100% faster speeds, depending on what you are currently working with. These speeds also mean downloads averaging about three seconds.

So if and when Google brings fiber to your town, how much money are they asking you to shell out every month? Basic Internet is about $25 per month for 12 months, after that initial year, basic internet is free to Google Fiber subscribers. If you want one step up to the 1000 Mbps Internet, you are looking at about $70 a month with a one year contract. This is a comparable price to what large cable companies like Comcast currently charge for high bandwidth Internet. If you want Internet and cable together, the cost goes up to $130 a month, with 150 HD channels offered. So all in all Google is offering some affordable plans with their super fast Internet. So when might it reach your town?

It was surprising to many that Google chose not to unleash their first round of fiber in the Bay Area as they normally do. One of the reasons for this may be that Google has to go in and rip up a lot of roads in order to install these fiber cables. This task is a lot easier done in areas where roads are already in less than ideal condition, because roads must be ripped up to bury the cables. That means that once the roads are ripped up where cables can be easily buried, then re-paving is easy because it was already needed. In its conception city of Kansas City, Google states that they laid down around 7,000 miles of fiber cables throughout Kansas’ metropolitan area. So slowly but surely Google is making it’s way around the US. In the meantime we will be patiently waiting.

Breaking Up in the Digital Age

Break-ups have always been tough – it’s a tale as old as time – but there is something a little different about breaking up in the digital age. People going through break-ups in present day have it especially hard. Never before have we been able to keep such close tabs on our old flames as we are able to now. You can literally track someone’s steps, all digitally and without detection. There are social media apps galore that will give you the information that you are looking for. If you want to check statuses, new pictures and current moods, Facebook and Twitter are your new best friends. If you ever shared a Netflix account or password, you now know what they are watching, and when. If you want to find out with whom, check out their Instagram page. This is also handy for seeing how they are getting over their recent heartbreak. Maybe they are moping around at home. Or maybe they are out with friends having a blast and meeting new people. How will you know if you don’t look? Maybe your ex is dating again. Maybe they will even pop up on your Tinder app or Plenty of Fish page. If you literally want to find out where they are going, check your Waze GPS. If you ever befriended each other through the app, you can see when they are using it and if they are nearby.

It takes a lot of self-control not to peek every now and then to see what an ex is up to. In reality you are only causing yourself more pain, because nothing burns worse than seeing someone enjoy his or her life, especially without you in it. But yet we all torture ourselves from time to time. It’s natural to be curious, right? For some, self-control is hard, especially when you are heartsick. Luckily there’s an app for that.

The Problem Becomes the Solution

There is an assortment of apps available that are designed to help you get over heartache. There is The Broken Heart Guide: Accepting Breakup Reality & Start a New Life! app, the Heartbroken: A Man’s Guide to Recovery and Healing from the Breakup of a Toxic Relationship app as well the Breakup Text app available in your app store. The latter will construct a break up text for you in the event that you are having trouble coming up with one on your own. If closure is what you are after, but can’t seem to stop stalking, there’s an app for that too. There are a few apps available which will encrypt your ex’s phone number so you are unable to contact them. These will also hide selected social media pages so you are literally unable to look at them. When you come home from a night out trying to drown your sorrows, sometimes calling the source of your heartache seems like a good idea. Shooting a text sounds like an even better idea. That’s where the Ex-Lover Blocker app comes into play. When you pick up your phone and try to call or text your ex, the app will alert three pre-designated friends and inform what you are trying to do. Hopefully your friends will save you some embarrassment and pick up the phone instead to bring you back to reality.

iPhone 6S Highlights

So let’s see if any of our iPhone 6s predictions were true! As we thought, most of the notable changes are subtle upgrades. For starters, it looks like Apple decided to stay with the same dimension options as the 6, but the outer hardware is a little different. The new iPhone 6s will feature a brand new ion-constructed glass front and an aerospace aluminum back. In addition to the silver, gold and graphite that were already offered there is a brand new “rose gold” color that made its debut today.

Technical Specs

As predicted, the new phones will be a little faster, with a better battery life. The camera has also been updated and is now capable of shooting 4k video, and features a 12 megapixel sensor. In perhaps an embarrassing twist, the new iPhone will have a “selfie” option designed for taking pictures of yourself. This feature might speak more about the declining state of our society as a whole rather than Apple trying to keep up with the Joneses, but I digress.

Pricing Options

Per usual, the iPhone 6S will be offered for $199 and the iPhone 6S Plus for $299, both with a two year contract. While we are on the subject, what’s the new “payment program” all about? When you look up iPhone prices online, instead of the traditional costs that are offered, you will see a “$35 per month” in its place. Beware. Whereas previously you would be paying for your phone up front, now Apple has come up with an attractive “payment plan” that will cost you about $35-$45 a month, instead of paying cash up front. This type of plan allows you to upgrade your phone when the upgrade first comes out, which sounds great at first, but nothing is without drawbacks. In order to receive your upgrade, you will be required to turn in your previous phone. You will also be making payments on the price of the phone, which is more than the normal cost of the two-year upgrade pricing. User beware, sometimes this isn’t mentioned when signing up for these “Apple Plans.” You will also be signed up for the Apple Care Warranty, which is an option that the majority of Apple customers wouldn’t choose anyway though.

Final Thoughts

So in a nutshell, if you are looking for the latest and greatest iPhone, put in your order for the 6S. You’ll get a nicer camera, some cool new features and a pretty new color choice. Keep your eyes open when you purchase it though, and be leery when they offer you any type of payment plan. The iPhone 6S will be available beginning September 25th.

iPhone 6s: Last Minute Rumors

Word on the street is that news from Apple regarding the iPhone6S release is scheduled for tomorrow, September 9th in Cupertino, California. Apple hasn’t leaked too many details regarding their newest version of the iPhone, so there are many speculations circulating out there. We are here to try and clear some of that mystery up.

There has been some speculation on what the release date will be, and if history is any indicator, it may very well be tomorrow. Or they may wait till later in the Christmas season, just to throw a wrench in the game.

The Dimensions

We expect the sizing to remain the same. Most consumers seemed pleased with the current sizing options, so it’s doubtful that Apple would play around with that. This was also a huge change with the upgrade from iPhone 5 to iPhone 6, so they will likely keep the same size options until the 7 is released.

The Colors

There have been rumors about a color scheme similar to that of the iPhone 5C which would allow for a less expensive upgrade, as well as colorful options to choose from rather than the standard silver and gold. Rumor has it that pink might be a new option, as well as a retro teal color.

The Performance

Extended battery life and faster speeds are almost a given, as these two upgrades are almost always mimicked with every release. The material of the phone itself might also change, with speculation about a new, stronger aluminum back and a thicker glass on the front.

We will continue to keep our ear to the ground as we wait for the confirmed details tomorrow regarding the next iPhone release. This is also big news for those of you who are still waiting to upgrade your iPhone 5, as a new iPhone version release means earlier models will drop in price. So if you aren’t concerned with having the latest and greatest, this is the time for you to finally upgrade to that iPhone 6.

New Tool from Google Helps You Dodge the Rush

Google quietly announced this summer that they have developed an innovative way to help you avoid standing in long lines for food and coffee. Google now has a hack in their “location card” section of Google maps that will not only give you the hours and description of the restaurant or coffee shop, but it will also tell you what is considered the most “popular time” to go there. During these hours you should avoid your favorite restaurants due to high traffic and long wait times.

Some of this information should be a no-brainer. If it’s Sunday morning, chances are your local breakfast spot is going to be packed. The same goes for Saturdays and holidays. This app will come in handy on those days when your favorite diners get mysteriously busy at random times. Google will track the traffic in and out of restaurants to give you a better idea of breakfast, lunch and dinner rush trends, and on what days they occur and at what times. This way you can plan out your dining and coffee experience, with little wait involved. This is an invaluable tool if you are trying to meet up with friends but are on a time crunch, or if you are on your lunch break and need to get back within the hour.

This feature could really come in handy if you are going on a blind date with someone you met online; you can just find out where you are going and check to see if it’s going to be busy. Looking ahead will allow you to plan on going somewhere else instead and that will cut down on that awkward small talk that occurs when you have a long wait for a table. Instead of specific times, Google provides a moving graph depicting when there is the most foot traffic. You can just glance at the graph and know when to go and when to avoid the place altogether.

Google Expands Scope of Self-Driving Car Project

Google announced this month that they are unleashing a fleet of their self-driving cars in their hometown of Mountain View, California as well as expanding their test runs in the streets of downtown Austin, Texas. Although Google has been coordinating test drives in the area around their headquarters since about 2012, they are now broadening the number of cars that are participating in these test runs. As more and more of the Lexus RX450h SUV self-driving Google cars hit the streets, the controversy surrounding them continues to rise.

Self-driving cars are supposed to be the wave of the future, but there is still an unsettling fear that is associated with them. So far, there have been low accident reports regarding self-driving cars. The few accidents that have occurred have been mostly caused by other drivers, like the two cars that accidentally rear-ended self-driving cars last month. Less than 15 accidents have been reported since the self-driving cars have been unleashed in the streets. Google has promised to release monthly accident reports going forward into the future. In 2013 there were 30,719 fatal car accidents reported in the U.S. caused by human-driven cars, with this data not including non-fatal accidents and fender benders. When more self-driving cars hit the road, we will be able to make better comparisons about the safety of human drivers vs. self-driving cars.

One of the biggest selling points of these self-driving cars is that they will bring the hope of mobility back to those who no longer have it. This means people with vision problems and other physical limitations that keep them from driving may be able to get around again. If these self-driving cars actually make it into our everyday lives, will they cut down on accidental deaths, like the ones that are caused by human error, or accidents caused while driving under the influence? Currently the leading causes of automobile deaths are distracted drivers, drunk drivers and drivers who speed. Will the self-driving car bring an end to all of that?

Another attractive idea surrounding the self-driving car is that we all may be able to travel around while being distracted to our heart’s content. In the future we might be able to text, talk on the phone, eat breakfast, read emails and surf all of our beloved social media sites, all while on the way to work. But what about riding under the influence of alcohol? Will a driver still need to be able to take over if a self-driving car starts malfunctioning? Will there be self-driving cabs in the future that will be able to pick you up from the bar when you have had one too many?

Another question is how self-driving cars will affect traffic. In present day, the single passenger car is the main cause of traffic congestion. Will smaller, single person self-driving cars solve traffic issues, or compound the issue and make it worse?

Although Google cannot guarantee everyone’s absolute safety, they are hoping to at least ease fears that the American public might have when it comes to their self-driving cars. In a society that fears loss of control, there is no wonder the self-driving car can at times be a hard sell. For now, until we have further answers, we can just sit back and watch the progress that is being made in both California and Texas and wait to see what happens next.