Time to wake up with these apps

Can’t wake up on time to exercise or get to work? Here are some apps that don’t stop ringing till you are up and about

A million ways to read

Share your book, read an unlimited number of them or just pay for one chapter. E-book publishing is becoming flexible in a bid to suit individual needs

Continue reading “A million ways to read”

Going digital for love

Come 14 February, these apps may be able to help men and women find a date, while offering women some sense of privacy and security

A new crop of dating apps is building in features that are women-friendly and hopes to protect them from fakes, trolls and potential harassment. Some offer only friends of friends as possible date options, most try to protect the identity of women. Here are a few that could help both men and women find a date this Valentine’s Day.


An Indian app, Woo claims to understand middle-class sensibilities, and places itself between a matchmaking and dating app. It says it wants to build an “exclusive community for educated, single professionals looking for meaningful relationships”. Once you’ve filled in the information for your profile, the algorithms automatically screen everything, from gender to relationship status and professional information, going through the user’s social networks, to try and identify dubious profiles. “We reject about 30% sign-ups because they aren’t in the right age group, or don’t have a profile photograph, or clash with their Facebook relationship status,” says Gurgaon-based Sumesh Menon, CEO and co-founder of U2opia Mobile, the developers of the app. Adding your LinkedIn profile gets you extra brownie points. Once you’re in, Woo automatically matches you with people you’re likely to click with, using the swipe “yes” or “no” feature. Other than this, it also allows you to record a 7-second audio pitch called Voice Intro for your possible mate. The app was launched in July and updated in January.

Free for a trial period, with in-app purchases, on iOS and Google Play, starting from Rs.250. www.getwoo.at


Geolocation apps are best avoided if you fear stalkers. Indian-made TrulyMadly tries to ensure the profiles are authentic and only singles (checked by screening their Facebook profiles) make it to the app. In case someone tries to create a fake Facebook profile (required for sign-on), the algorithms in the dating app also check the profile to see how old it is, how many friends you have, your activity or news feed. Other security measures include asking for ID proof, checking online social profiles like LinkedIn and phone number verification. “Each of this increases your trust score,” says Delhi-based Sachin Bhatia, CEO, TrulyMadly. “Once you’re in, we do compatibility quizzes to ensure that people get relevant matches,” he says. The profile includes your profession, educational background and interests. You can swipe to show interest or reject. The app was launched in August.

Free on Android. App for iOS and Windows Phone to be launched by March. www.trulymadly.com


Chat, deliver statuses, scroll through people in your area and find the ones you like. With this app, women can request a one-way video chat with a man, where her camera is off, to try and assess if he is genuine. Women can also use audio verification to speak to a potential date without disclosing their private number. “In Thrill (app), women have the power,” says Delhi-based Josh Israel, co-founder of Thrill. The Mumbai-based People Group, which owns the online matrimonial portal Shaadi.com, has recently bought a 25% stake in the company. “They can chat with anyone whereas guys can only express interest,” says Israel. Next on their list is video verification. The app was last updated in January.

Free on Android and iOS. www.thrillapp.com


This one lets Facebook be your gatekeeper. It only shows up profiles of friends and friends of friends on your wall, so you hopefully stay away from the creeps. It also pulls in all the public information from a person’s Facebook profile—education, occupation and profile picture—so you can take a quick decision. “You are two times likely to like someone you’re socially connected to, you’ll feel more comfortable, and it’s the best way to meet common friends,” says Samir Kapadia…..

….Read the complete list over at Livemint.com


Meeting cheat-sheet: Apps to help take notes

Too lazy to take notes in a meeting? Switch on these apps and let your mind wander

If you feel it’s becoming more and more difficult to focus on that presentation and somebody might notice, press a button and rest. One of these apps will do the recording for you.


If you want an app with a simple design that is clutter-free and lets you do that one thing well, head to Dictadroid. It turns your Android device into a dictation machine. You can quietly let it work to record, take dictation and notes during a PowerPoint-heavy meeting. The app has the ability to record in the background or even while the screen is off. It automatically detects voice, gives you uninterrupted recording, and adds the date and time to the filename. Dictadroid.com; available on Google Play for $2.99 (around Rs.180)

The Sound Recorder

Meant for Windows Phones, this app can record in both stereo and mono modes. You can set it to skip the silences while recording, pause and then resume and copy the files into either the media library of your phone or upload to SkyDrive. The app works even when the screen is locked and indicates what decibel level it’s recording on, so that the audio is clear. If your battery is running out, the app automatically saves the recording done till then, before the phone shuts down. Windows Phone Store; free

Parrot Voice Recorder Pro

BlackBerry 10 users can opt for the Parrot voice recorder to record audio. The app is designed to record audio tracks and allows you to stop, pause or restart. You can also copy, modify or share your tracks through BlackBerry Messenger, email, Bluetooth, near field communication (NFC) and more. You can insert notes, photographs, contacts and GPS locations into the app, while the recording is happening. The Pro version ($2.99) gives you the ability to record phone calls, add password protection for recordings to protect your track lists, and import tracks into the app to manage them. BlackBerry 10; free
First published on livemint.com. Read the complete article here: http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/lzRmY4KD2utI8dveqZAZoJ/Meeting-cheatsheet.html?utm_source=copy

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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

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


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


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


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.


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

Shield your Android

Is your ‘droid’ device protected against increasingly devious virus attacks? If not, here are some life-savers



Of all the new threats against mobile operating systems in the second half of 2013, 97% were targeted against Android, according to the “Threat Report” released by security research firm F Secure Labs in March. It doesn’t end there. According to the report, India tops the list in reporting Android malware.

Given that 93% of Indian mobile Internet users are on Android, according to research firm International Data Corp., that’s not surprising. “Android is the most popular and widely used operating system worldwide, with over a million new devices being activated every day,” says Ritesh Chopra, country manager (India) at software security firm Symantec Corp. “When it (Android) gave smartphone users more freedom to install software from outside their official marketplace, it also opened the doors to malware authors, who have spent years honing their techniques,” he adds.

In a February report, Symantec stated that on an average, 272 new malware variants and five new malware families targeting Android were discovered every month in 2013. “These threats can steal your personal and financial information, track you, send premium-rate SMS messages, and display intrusive adware,” says Chopra.

Android has been designed with multilayered security to anticipate and tackle malware attacks on it as well as attacks on third-party apps in its official marketplace. But what Google didn’t anticipate was the illegitimate marketplaces on the Internet.

“Today, it’s Android’s compromised versions of legitimate apps that have become a problem,” says Sriram Raghavan, security and forensics consultant, Secure Cyber Space, a firm that helps businesses secure their Web presence. These versions are available on unregulated third-party Android marketplaces, or free versions of paid apps that can be downloaded from anywhere and installed. They work exactly like the paid app but with a slight difference; they have an innocuous additional code inserted in them, a malware. Raghavan believes security apps might offer at best limited protection.

Once the malware is inside your system, it can do anything, from getting access to voicemail, call logs, notifications, user passwords for apps, or even sending SMSes. “You can update your software but some malwares are smart and update with the operating system,” says New Delhi-based cyber security expert Dominic K. The best protection against malware is to disable apps downloaded from unknown or unauthenticated sources.

“Trust only the Google play app store or the device manufacturer’s online store,” says Raghavan. Also, never connect to open or unknown Wi-Fi networks and remember to install an authenticated remote wipe or lock app in the unlikely event that the device is stolen or lost. Plus, always lock your screen when the device is inactive. And of course, choose one of the apps we list here to better protect your device.

McAfee Antivirus and Security

Other than scanning the apps you install and checking your phone constantly for malware, the 4.0 version of McAfee updated in March, can wipe off your data and restore it from a backup if the phone is stolen.

Read more at: http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/3iY6fBN4guORlkzJ6LETnI/Shield-your-Android.html?utm_source=copy

Manage the cloud

Finding it difficult to remember if your presentation was uploaded on Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive? Here are apps to consolidate your free cloud storage

Our lives are scattered in the cloud, distributed across online storage accounts. A few gigabytes on Dropbox, a few more on Microsoft’s OneDrive and a few gigs on Google Drive and Apple’s iCloud. One can manage three, two, or even four, but with new services offering 50 GB free for data storing online (see “More than 10 GB”), it is becoming difficult to remember what is stored where, and almost impossible to use what you’ve uploaded. Which is where you can opt for one of these consolidation services. These let you search, view, edit and transfer data from one cloud service to another seamlessly, through a Web or mobile app. Time to live in the cloud!


Want to move your files from one storage space to another? That’s where Mover comes in. The app lets you copy, merge and transfer files between each cloud storage service you use, easily. The transfer from one cloud to another is especially pain-free and fast, working in the background and sending you an email once it’s done. So if you’ve heard the bad news that the free storage service you have been using forever is shutting down, like Ubuntu One, use Mover to shift the data stored there to a new cloud storage service. Mover.io. Available on desktop. Personal plans from $15, or around Rs.900, a month allow five scheduled moves. Free for one move.


Jared Preston, co-owner of cloudGOO, decided to work on an aggregating cloud service after he found that he and his friends and colleagues in Seattle, US, were struggling to consolidate and aggregate their storage space online. CloudGOO launched its Android version in March, following it up with an iOS version launch in April. The app supports Google Drive, SkyDrive, Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox, SugarSync and iCloud (on iPhone) and the service offers just a basic view-only platform, something Preston hopes to change with updates. But there are some cool features that make the app worthwhile, including the fact that you can ask cloudGOO to automatically upload your pictures, videos and documents from your device to the cloud. It’s smart enough to see which of your cloud storage platforms has the space and upload the content there.


Launched in January 2012, Otixo is an old horse still going strong. Aimed at small businesses and collaboration on the cloud without boundaries, the app offers strong features for personal use, including collating all your files in the cloud, transferring files from one cloud to another with a simple drag-and-drop, and creating projects called “Spaces” to collaborate, share files and folders across any cloud. Headquartered in Boulder, US, the service supports a whopping 29 platforms in its ecosystem, including online storage services, social networks like Facebook and document-management platforms like Alfresco.
First published in livemint.com. Read the complete article here.