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Creative hacks to improve your Instagram Stories

Using only Instagram and native phone apps

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Instagram has become an outlet for a lot of creatives over the years. It’s evolved from a platform where we share mundane photos of food and moods to hyper-curated grids — until Instagram Stories was introduced, that is. If you’re one of those people who barely post anything other than stories, here are some easy and not-so-simple ways on how they can look better so you can tell your stories better:

Use the native camera app

Photos taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10’s wide angle camera, ultra-wide angle camera, and night mode

Most phones released in 2019 now have at least two different cameras — a combination of wide angle and telephoto, or wide angle and ultra-wide angle. Some even have up to three or four in total. Take advantage of these lenses by taking your photos on the native camera app instead of going straight to Instagram. By using an ultra-wide angle lens you can fit more in your shot without walking several steps backwards. If your phone has a built-in night mode, your low light shots will also turn out much better when you take them using the camera app instead of  Instagram’s camera.


“Wrap” your caption around shapes

If your caption is a bit long, get creative by wrapping them around your subject’s shape. If you have a photo of food or coffee for example, you can type the letters one by one around the plate or cup.

Apply your video camera’s built-in filters

Smartphone cameras are getting more and more features each year. On the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 for example, there’s a feature called Live Focus Video where you get a TV glitch filter. This adds a retro, vaporwave aesthetic to your videos without having to install a third party app.

Add doodles

Make your subject pop by doodling around it. You can add dots, lines, hearts, stars, or broken lines around it — whatever you can think of! Doodles can also add a better narrative to your story than captions when Spider-Man appears out of nowhere for instance.

Animate your captions 

By simply adding small GIFs like stars around your caption, or integrating word GIFs into your caption can make it look like it’s animated. If you have a Samsung Galaxy Note 10, you can also get animated handwriting with the S  Pen using the phone’s native editor whether that’s on a photo or a video.

“Mask” your subject 

Another way to make your subject stand out is by “masking” lines or handwriting behind it. Simply write over your subject using any of the pen shapes, then erase parts of the lines or handwriting to make it seem like it appears over and under the subject.

Mix fonts with your handwriting

Instagram’s font selection may be limited but doesn’t mean your imagination should be. Pick any font to write your caption with — ideally anything but Neon — then pick one word to replace with your handwriting. You can also play around with tracking by simply adding spaces in between letters.

The trick in making your Instagram Stories look better is to not overshare and not overdo any of the effects. Just because you can add GIFs doesn’t mean you should plaster the entire screen with them. While it should feel more raw than your posts, be more purposeful in what you share — always try tell a story whether you’re sharing a photo or a video. It’s called Instagram Stories for a reason.

How do you make your Stories different? Share your tips with us in the comments section below.

Apps

Google wants to assists users without depending on the Internet

And Google Pay just got more exciting!

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Google is by definition an “internet” company. Every part of its business depends on connectivity, whether its Google Search or AdSense. The company has penetrated every developed market and now intends to grab the untapped markets of India and other Southeast Asian countries.

Google Assistant

Courtesy: Bhardwaj

At its Google for India 2019 event, the company announced the launch of a special helpline that users can call to have their questions answered. We usually use Google Assitant on the go via any Android phone, but it depends on internet connectivity. How do you reach out to a feature-phone user who barely has a 2G connection?


A 24×7 healpline. Teaming up with Vodafone India, users will be able to dial 000-800-9191-000 and they won’t be charged for the call or the service. Early this year, Google also worked with KaiOS to integrate Google Assistant on entry-level 4G phones like the JioPhone.

Google Assistant was launched in India a couple of years back and Hindi is now the second-largest language globally. You can also switch languages by a simple voice command now.

Google Pay

Courtesy: Bhardwaj

Usually, you can use payment solutions like these in the US via NFC. Your cards are saved on the app and a gentle tap to a PoS machine will initiate the transaction. However, in India the app leverages the countries universal UPI protocol to transfer money. Up till now, you had to add your bank account in the app and scan a QR code to send money.

Google has now announced support for NFC cards. This will make the experience much simpler and streamlined. Though your phone needs to have an NFC reader and only HDFC, Axis, Kotak, and Standard Chartered bank are supported for tokenization at the moment.

The company went on to share a few interesting stats about its position in the country. The app handled 918 million transactions a month in the country.

New AI Lab

Courtesy: Bhardwaj

A new artificial intelligence research lab is being set up in Bengaluru to create India-specific products. Google has tied up with state-run BSNL for expanding Wi-Fi hotspots in villages in Gujarat, Bihar, and Maharashtra. They’ve already deployed more than 5,000 WiFi hotspots in partnership with Indian Railways.

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SIM card vulnerability puts your sensitive information at risk

It’s called the SIMjacker

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SIM cards are very important. However, a new SIM card vulnerability found out by AdaptiveMobile Security might be putting our information at risk. The Simjacker exploit, which was recently found out and still being investigated on, allows malicious hackers to steal sensitive information from your phone through a SIM card.

Mechanism of attack

Infographic explaining the attack using Simjacker vulnerability | Photo by Simjacker.com

How does the Simjacker vulnerability work?


First, a hacker sends a malicious code to your phone through SMS. Then, the malicious code is read directly by your SIM card. The code then causes the [email protected] browser to send sensitive information to an accomplice device through SMS.

According to the report pulished by AdaptiveMobile Security regarding the vulnerability, the [email protected] browser is found on most SIM cards even though its development was abandoned many years ago. [email protected] browser was never updated, so it carries the risk of sending sensitive information to hackers when exploited successfully.

Sensitive information retrieved and transmitted by the [email protected] browser include location and the IMEI of an exploited device. The IMEI is a shorthand for International Mobile Equipment Identity, which is a 15 digit number unique to your smartphone that has some information about your device including its brand and model. As such, hackers can determine your exact location if you have a compromised SIM card, regardless of what device you have.

And the worst part of the attack is that you have no way of knowing that it has already been done since it all happens within the SIM card.

Origin and scope of the attack

The purpose for carrying an attack varies. However, the report traces the origin to an unspecified private company that works with governments to monitor individuals. So, there is a real possibility that it has been used to spy on us. And rightly so, since specific individuals were targeted in a certain country.

The report also warned that over one billion smartphones across all continents could be at risk to the vulnerability — and you could be one of them.

Response to the attack

In response to the discovered vulnerability, industry association SIMalliance has already put up recommendations for network providers to secure their networks. At this point in time, you can’t do anything to secure yourself from the vulnerability, unless you decided to go SIM-free.

But as a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t just give your smartphone number like a free lunch. It also pays to update your smartphone once in a while, since some updates are designed to secure your phone from these kind of vulnerabilities and attacks.

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Apple TV+ launches with ridiculously low pricing

It’ll be free for a year for some users

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Apple has announced that it will begin streaming some of its original content for Apple TV+ starting November 1 for US$ 4.99. The subscription price is extremely affordable and meant to undercut rivals like Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney.

It will additionally be available through tv.apple.com on the web, select 2018, 2019 and newer Samsung smart TVs, and on Amazon Fire TV, LG, Roku, Sony and VIZIO platforms in the future.


Apple TV+ is expected to launch in over 100 countries, with up to six members to share one subscription at no extra cost. To lure more users, purchasing a new iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV in the coming weeks will get you a one year of subscription for free.

The service is launching with a panoply of star-filled titles, including Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon in The Morning Show and Hailee Steinfeld’s drama series Dickinson.

Apple named nine total titles that would be available at launch on Apple TV+. “All of these incredible shows for the price of a single movie rental,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said Tuesday on stage.

Though, critics say Apple’s offering isn’t actually comparable to the competition because they also have tonnes of licensed TV shows and movies. Focusing on original production is just a part of it and brands like Netflix have invested heavily in getting exclusive rights to many blockbuster creations.

Apple TV+ is in-line with the company’s attempt to monetize its virtual offerings. Instead of completely relying on hardware for revenue, Apple is slowly amping up its subscriptions models. Right now, other products include Apple Music, Apple News+, iCloud, and Apple Arcade.

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