Report a bribe or file an RTI – All through your phone

If you wish to be involved with the process of your government, as any citizen should, you do not necessarily need to wait for the UMANG app. There are already many apps that allow you to ask questions, offer suggestions and get involved in government initiatives. Till the government comes out with UMANG, we suggest a few other apps you can try.

Participate in policymaking

Are you very vocal about government policies? If yes, head to MyGov (free on Google Play, Mygov.in), an online portal of the Union government where different departments seek suggestions and advice. Over the last year, the site saw discussion on ideas such as simultaneous elections and open data use licence and invited suggestions on a draft policy note on value capture finance. It also allows you to take part in logo-making and design competitions. If you want the Prime Minister to talk about an issue on his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ show, you can give your ideas on this site. So just log in and air your ideas.

Since its launch, the app has seen more than 500,000 downloads, though it is a bit slow to load and hasn’t been updated since 2015. The website offers the best experience.

File an RTI

Continue reading “Report a bribe or file an RTI – All through your phone”

Make time travel with time-lapse video apps

A sunset crunched in 3 seconds. A party shortened to a few minutes. Time-lapse videos used to be a pain to shoot but now with smarter apps they’re as simple as, well, taking a selfie. Here are a few apps to turn you into a video pro.

Hyperlapse

If you’re an Instagram workhorse, Hyperlapse is the app for you to capture a speedball video. The app smoothens hand-held videos using a fantastic image-stabilization software that uses data from your phone’s gyroscope to measure and remove frames that are shaky. Run, walk, jump, fall, drive and take a video and get a cinematic feel without lugging around a selfie stick or a tripod. All you need to do is hold the phone camera up, shoot a video, choose how fast you want it to go (it can speed up your videos up to 12 times)and upload. The only downside of the app is that it is available only on iPhones.

Free on iPhone and iPad. Hyperlapse.instagram.com

Microsoft Hyperlapse

One of the few apps to create timelapse on Windows Phone, the Microsoft Hyperlapse Mobile comes with a simple, easy-to-use interface. It offers 32x speed, so you can crunch hours of videos into a few minutes. And you’re not limited to just the app. You can import any video, taken anywhere and speedball them up. What we also loved is that it can record 1080p videos. That’s pro- quality video for free and just right to be seen on the biggest screen in your home. This app can also stabilize videos, though that happens only if you choose 1x speed.

Free on Windows Phone and Android. Research.microsoft.com

Framelapse

Build by Noida-based computer engineer Nishant Singh as part of his project in the last year of his B.Tech course, the app comes loaded with features to take a hyper video. You can adjust the frame interval, speed, zoom, autofocus, adjust white balance, choose the front or back camera, set video resolution and take a video in landscape or portrait. You can also set up a video duration to stop recording automatically. So just place it in a corner of a party and let it do all the work while you mingle. The Pro version, which costs $2.99 (around Rs204), has added advance functions like sleep mode that reduces battery drain while recording and customization of the length of the video, exposure and frame interval.

Free on Android. Neximolabs.com


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Apps for the last minute parties

New Year’s Eve brings with it stress. And last-minute parties to arrange. So we’ve put together a list of apps and sites you can use to get everything you need to prep for a party at the last minute, from venue to balloons. Sorry, last we checked, ordering an elephant and booze is still illegal in this country.

Invite the gang

What’s a party without an invitation? Forget the humdrum Google Hangouts, Facebook events or WhatsApp groups and create a proper invitation. Continue reading “Apps for the last minute parties”

Virtual assistants, on your phone

Your smartphone can now act as your butler. Here are some virtual assistants you can download to make life easier

What’s your social media type?

Just about everyone is hooked to social media. Every morning, we check notifications, read suggestions from friends, chat with some and comment on people’s travels. If you can’t help but log into your Facebook timeline while in the loo, or can’t wait to click group selfies and post them when out with friends, here’s a profile test for you—identify your personality type.

STAT-KEEPER

The GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, pedometer, barometer and various other sensors in smartphones were created just for you. You have a Fitbit or a smartwatch and a gazillion apps which auto-post on your timeline. They tell others what speed you’re running at, which restaurant you’re exiting, what you are listening to now, even how many times your toilet was flushed today. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but someone must surely be thinking on those lines.

Food for thought: In a paper published in the Optics Expressjournal in June, German researchers displayed a sensor system for smartphones with potential for use in biomolecular tests—monitoring diabetes, for example. What’s more, your smartphone might soon be able to analyse your sweat and blood to provide more statistics. Can’t wait to get your hands on that one, can you?

THE RABID RANTER

You love to rant, on the weather, on how someone has got it completely wrong, on how you would love to see people think before they speak, on the politics of someone else, or even on things that the government is doing. You love writing in CAPITAL letters, sometimes getting the spelling wrong (who cares about editing when one’s so angry), and usually follow all the celebrities on Facebook and Twitter, spending a copious amount of time correcting them.

Food for thought: If you’re mirthfully grinning at this type, here’s something to worry about: According to a study published in the Personality And Individual Differencesjournal in September, you have the classic symptoms of a Dark Tetrad (no, not Darth Vader). You are an explosive cocktail of Machiavellianism, psychopathy and a classic Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.

PHOTO-HOLIC

You travel everywhere with your smartphone, clicking the lunch you’re having, clicking friends at a pub even before you say hello. In fact, even if you were at a beautiful beach, you’d be mentally thinking of ways to capture and post it perfectly first. You also like to take pictures of your cat, sofa, the street, the car…and take time to add filters, crop, add mood before posting the photograph. You’re mostly found on Instagram and sometimes on Facebook.

Food for thought: Enhance your gadget with nifty accessories. Try Olloclip (Olloclip.com, $70-80; Rs.4,400-5,200) for zoom, or a Joby Gorillapod (Rs.1,450 onwards; Joby.com) to add stability to those pictures. If you’d like to outsource to a bot, get Moment Case (Momentlens.co/case), a smartphone cover ($69.99 onwards) with a lens, which automatically takes pictures through the Moment app. Happy clicking.

QUIET LURKER

You don’t post. You don’t “like”, comment or retweet. You’re the quiet one, scrolling through the timelines, people’s pictures and posts, your social presence barely visible. On Twitter, you’re listening to the people you follow, observing rather than posting anything.

According to a survey published in April 2013 by First Direct, a telephone- and Internet-based bank in the UK, there’s a whopping 45% of you on Facebook, watching what others are saying and rarely participating. Oh, and you call yourself “observers”.

Food for thought: It’s hard, but try to participate and interact online. You might find a sudden inexplicable increase in the number of offline friends.

YOU KNOW WHO?

You thrive on anonymity. You like to have various personalities on social networks, constantly use fake names and give out little or no information about yourself. It might be paranoia about your privacy that makes you do this or simply the fact that you like hiding behind a mask and peering into others’ lives. Your online personality might be completely different from who you are in real life. You’re found mostly in forums and on Twitter.

Food for thought: Shift to Whispero (Whispero.com), an app that lets you stay in touch without exchanging any personal information.

HYPER-SHARER

You are the ultimate knowledge-seeker, going through the timelines and Webs looking for good, edible, sensible information to share with your fellow social hogs. You have various RSS feeds that come to your phone, news and social apps and give you the latest in your field, and on people that you follow online. You see, like, share, retweet anything that comes your way. You are also a slacktivist, sharing posts of missing children, funds needed for the sick, petitions, etc. Many a time, you download something from Reddit and share it across your Facebook and Twitter timelines.

Food for thought: Tried Glean (Get-glean.com) yet? Built especially for Android devices, Glean offers interest-based news from over 15,000 sites. Use it and it’ll learn what you like to read and give you your favourites and trends in a single feed.

BABY-PHOTO GENERATOR

Most of your posts feature your child doing something. You can’t help but post pictures of your child making a putty face, smiling, frowning, doing the Dubsmash, with cake all over the face, giggling, looking all so cute. You love to post constantly on Facebook and in your family WhatsApp groups, with a singular comment on what the child did today and what your response was. You’re not alone.

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How to stay safe online

In the first week of June, Bengaluru-based make-up artist Dipthi Aashok opened a video link on Facebook, “What my sex”, that a friend had posted on her timeline. Before she knew it, the video had been posted on her friends’ timelines. “I was shocked,” says the 37-year-old, “the video didn’t even open and I was getting angry messages from my friends on what kind of stuff I’d posted on their timeline.”

She didn’t even realize that her Facebook account had been hacked. Aashok was a victim of phishing.

Phishing and spamming are both malicious activities. Phishing’s main task is to steal a person’s sensitive data (such as password, account login authentication, etc.), while spamming is designed to entice a user to fall for a trap (such as the “Mr XYZ has left you a will, please share your bank account details” routine) or just bombard you with offers.

According to software security firm Symantec Corp’s “Internet Security Threat Report 2014”, India’s growing social media population provides a ready base for cyber criminals, making it the second most targeted country in the world for social media scams. “People voluntarily and unwittingly share enticing videos, stories, pictures and offers in order to gain access to a sensational video or enter a lottery, without realizing that these could include links to malicious or affiliate sites,” says Ritesh Chopra, country manager (India), Norton by Symantec.

“Fake notifications from Facebook and other social networks, the promise of explicit photographs attached to messages, Valentine’s Day discounts, news about Ukraine, a health scare, the spammers try it all to get you to click,” says Altaf Halde, managing director (South Asia), Kaspersky Lab, a software security group with a presence in 200 countries. Once you do click, the malware enters your computer or phone, and either steals all your document files, encrypting them, or tries to multiply by making copies of itself and sending it to all your contacts. According to Kaspersky Lab’s May report, “IT Threat Evolution Report For Q1 Of 2015”, which analysed the spam and phishing threats landscape, India ranked among the top 10 spam-recipient countries. The list includes Russia, Uzbekistan, Germany and the UK. Continue reading “How to stay safe online”

How to click the right panoramas

Can’t fit everything in one photograph? These apps can help you click some good-looking panoramas

 

Many smartphone cameras come with the ability to take decent panorama shots, but usually some or the other element is missing. For one, you can’t put the phone in auto-mode to take a panoramic selfie, which is the thing to do while clicking yourself. And though you might take that mind-blowing panorama, you can’t really share it with your friends, for when it uploads on any social media site, it will show as a tiny, thin strip in a single photo-frame.

If you are keen on shooting panoramas on your phone and in editing and showcasing them, as well as sharing them from within the app, consider these options.

Twister

Updated this month, Twister enables you to capture, manage, edit and share panoramas, photographs and videos. The app auto- corrects the fuzziness that can sometimes be seen in panoramas and helps you take the perfect landscape picture. It also comes with an interesting feature of auto-rotating the phone when it’s kept upright on a flat surface by activating the phone’s vibration, eventually capturing the panoramas around it. This is something very few apps currently offer. You can also take panorama selfies with friends and family and walk around people or objects to take their image from all angles. Once done, the panoramas can be shared on social networks or with friends and family via a link to a Web gallery and an embedded Flash player. Give it voice commands and it will hear, or pause a video recording and resume again.

The app is available for iOS. It is expected to be launched for Android and Windows Marketplace in a few months.

www.gettwister.com; $0.99 (around Rs.60) for iOS

Photaf Panorama

Photaf Panorama uses an image-stitching algorithm which utilizes the phone’s compass to show the panorama post clicking—move your phone around to see the complete panorama image. The Pro version, which is ad-free, lets users set the clicked panorama as wallpaper, and capture a panorama in high-definition mode. Updated in April, the app has been downloaded over six million times on Google Play. Once you have clicked a panorama, you can share it directly on Facebook or export it to the phone’s gallery folder. There is also the option of uploading to Photaf’s flash-based website to dynamically move the panorama sideways for better viewing, somewhat like the way Google Street View worked.

www.photaf.com; basic version, free, and Pro version, for Android, Rs.235

AutoStitch Panorama

Clicked a series of photographs and now want a service to stitch them together for you in a single panorama? Head to AutoStitch Panorama. The app works by stitching together a random collection of images, automatically finding matches using a preset algorithm, created by developers at the UK’s University of Bath. It aligns all the pieces of the puzzle and puts them together to show the complete picture in any arrangement you want: vertical, horizontal or mixed. Its Pro version can click full-resolution camera images of up to 20 megapixels and uses advanced blending modes for seamless panoramas….

First published in livemint.com. Read the complete article here.
http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/FZ4Gdwic3oEMTFqo1rVoUN/The-whole-wide-picture.html?utm_source=copy

 

Holidays can be a breeze

Do you break into a sweat at the thought of drawing up travel itineraries? Turn to these vacation-planner apps

It’s always the same story. Holidays should help you relax but sometimes organizing the minutest detail can be a nightmare. Tickets, hotels, what to do once there, what not to do, how to reach from point A to point B without getting lost, how to communicate—all these elements can turn trip planning into a headache. We suggest you outsource your holiday troubles to these helpful assistants and relax.

Kamino

If you’re heading to the US this summer, don’t forget to pack in Kamino, a nifty app meant for people who love to hike and walk. The crowdsourced app has information on walks and hikes from bloggers, experts and locals of a particular city. Perfect for that authentic local experience in the city. “The idea is for users to discover and truly appreciate the culture and uniqueness of a city whether they are locals or tourists,’” says US-based Louis P. Huynh, co-founder and president, in an email. Each hike comes complete with a GPS-enabled map and includes personalized recommendations. Right now the hikes listed are limited to cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco, but more are getting added as the community increases worldwide—from London, Paris and Florence to Cape Town, Hanoi and Taipei.

gokamino.com; free on iTunes. The app is expected to be launched soon on Android.

Holidayen

Hate deciding where to go, what to do there, and how much it will cost you? Let Holidayen do the job for you. Created by three graduates from the Indian Institute of Technology, the app acts like a personal travel agent, lets you choose destinations and then plans what you should do once there, and where you should stay. You can customize the options and even book the things you would like to do from within the app. The database is curated, so you might not get all the choices, but the good thing is that if you have figured out an itinerary you like on the app, you can download it and keep it on your phone to access it offline. “Planning a trip is a cumbersome process, taking up to several days of online research, reading guides and asking several people,” says Utkala Mohanty, co-founder, Holidayen. “This app makes trip planning a breeze, where the user can plan a trip in seconds, while completely customizing it to her preferences.”

Holidayen.com; $0.99 (around Rs.60) on Google play. The app is expected to be launched soon on iOS.

Trip38

Primarily meant as a travel assistant for business travellers, Trip38 helps you manage your itinerary. It does this by collating all your travel information and emails in one place, giving you updates through alerts, notifying you of when to check in, doling out details of baggage allowance, flight timings and the terminal….

First published at Livemint.com. Read complete article here: http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/NNkS8xpWYiTow136V1VRiM/Holidays-can-be-a-breeze.html?utm_source=copy

Build apps, the budget-friendly way

You don’t need to be a coding champion. With a little perseverance and the right tools, you can create an app sitting at home—these five options will help

GoodBarber

If you want great design templates for your app, head to GoodBarber. The platform has a strong focus on app design and offers more than 50 colourful, highly customizable design templates to get you started. Its newer platform, Salvador, gives you six browsing modes to choose from. You can also add new content (articles, videos and photographs) from your GoodBarder app without needing an external source.
Platforms: iPhone, Android, HTML5
Price: Free 30-day trial; starting from €16 (around Rs.1,300) a month
www.goodbarber.com

Conduit Mobile (COMO)

To open up a small online shopping app for your business, Conduit Mobile is the best option. The app builder offers business-specific designs and a simple drag-and-drop interface. For example, there are special templates for restaurants through which they can offer discounts, list menus prettily and link up their social networks. The app’s e-commerce partnerships include Shopify, Etsy, eBay, etc.
Platforms: iPhone, Android and HTML5. It is expected soon on Windows Phone.
Price: Starting from $33 (around Rs.1,980) a month
www.como.com

ShoutEm

ShoutEm’s interface offers customization options and integration with existing Web sources like WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud. The monetization options include e-commerce, in-app subscriptions, deals and coupons, and support for all major advertisement networks, like Google AdWords, etc.
Platforms: iOS, Android, HTML5
Price: Starting from $19 a month
www.shoutem.com

AppMakr

Features in AppMakr include push notifications, HTML5 functionality, high-resolution photo galleries, navigation control, even monetization. The builder also helps you publish a test app to see how it will look in a user’s phone before publishing it to the app store. And it will give a rating to the app so that you know whether it’s likely to get rejected during Apple’s review process. Platforms: iPhone, Android, HTML5
Price: Free, with advertisements; starting from $1 a month for an advertisement-free version
www.appmakr.com

GameSalad

GameSalad makes it possible to build a game with a simple drag-and-drop interface. It takes a while to understand the software, features and game elements, but once you’ve done that, the tool is quite easy.

First published in Livemint.com. Read the complete article, here: http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/hTOEy5P35BTjADFSvF85iJ/Build-apps-the-budgetfriendly-way.html?utm_source=copy

Putting a stop to mobile addiction

Can’t help pressing the mobile screen button every few seconds? Here are apps that will track your mobile use and help reduce phone dependency

 

In May, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (Nimhans) opened a first-of-its-kind clinic in the country—a centre to treat teenagers’ obsession with social networking, instant chatting apps, texting and mobile games. In other words, addiction to mobile phones.

Though there have not been any formal studies on how addicted we are to the little black device in our hands, most of us show symptoms of what some psychologists cautiously call mobile-phone overuse—checking the phone every few minutes, fidgeting with it in public spaces and parties, and becoming impatient or worried if we’ve left it at home. Don’t believe it? These apps will help you understand how addicted you are to your phone.

My Mobile Day

Süleyman Kuzula, a 26-year-old Turkish engineer based in Germany, created My Mobile Day because he felt that people, especially children, were on the way to becoming “mobile phone zombies”. “My app can help people organize their mobile phone and control their own behaviour of mobile use,” says Kuzula.

BreakFree

Created by Mumbai- based app development company Mobifolio in January, BreakFree is the brainchild of Mrigaen Kapadia and his wife Nupur Kapadia. They realized that both of them, as well as their family and friends, were hooked to their smartphones. “We thought it would be nice to have something on the phone which could monitor how addicted you are to your phone and show the facts to you, and so BreakFree was born,” says Kapadia. BreakFree scores you on addiction, letting you track the time you spend on the phone and compete with friends and family to reduce phone dependency.

Read more at: http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/DsW0zuTzCeCSmaY9ypENCN/Putting-a-stop-to-mobile-addiction.html?utm_source=copy