Apps

Don’t use Google Allo if you care about your online privacy

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Shortly after Google released its new messaging app Allo, public reception has been generally positive for its features, but not so much for online privacy. Just ask Edward Snowden.

The NSA whistleblower warned people on Twitter not to download the app:

His concerns are totally valid. You see, what Allo specializes in is reading your messages using its artificial intelligence to dish out automatic replies for your conversations. This also helps Allo answer questions you ask its chatbot, such as what the weather situation will be the next day or where the nearest Starbucks is.

Ironically, it was Google who publicly admitted Allo’s greatest flaw. Just as users thought their messages sent through the app’s non-Incognito Mode were safe from other eyes, the search giant recently stated that there’s no encryption preventing Google from reading your every move.

This goes against what Google claimed the app would do back when it was first announced months ago at its I/O developer conference. In this case, the company will store your messages for its records until you manually delete them, and you must use Incognito Mode to remain anonymous in the servers (similar to Google Chrome’s private browser hiding history in your own computer).

Google claims that is needed merely to assist Allo’s Assistant feature; what it really does is allow government authorities to extract and read the contents of your inbox whenever they feel like it. This is a far cry from the privacy other chat apps have been implementing the past year.

Losing one messaging service shouldn’t bother you. We still have Viber, WhatsApp, WeChat, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, KakaoTalk, LINE, and heck, even Google’s other chat system Hangouts. When it comes down to it, you’re going to use whatever your family and friends are obsessing over, anyway.

If you really must use the new trendy messaging app, there’s nothing stopping you from downloading it on the official app stores of either iOS or Android. The interface is as attractive as Google’s other material design software, and doodling over images never gets old.

[irp posts=”4893″ name=”Apple can share your iMessage contacts with authorities”]

Source: The Verge

Apps

5 apps that help you save money while traveling

Perfect for the budget traveler

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They say travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. This is definitely true. While it can give you priceless moments and unforgettable experiences, we have to admit that it often comes with a pretty steep price. We can’t put a price tag on expanding your horizons, but we can definitely help you make it a little less expensive.

I started young with traveling and my years of experience has led me to some hacks that can keep you from extra expenses. Today, I’ll be sharing with you my nine favorite apps that I use to make sure I don’t overspend and even save a pretty penny while I’m exploring a place far from home.

Skiplagged

I truly believe that booking the most convenient flights while staying within your budget should be an Olympic sport. There are so many factors to consider — from someone’s schedule, the comfort that you get, down to the layovers. I use a lot of apps for this to check for the best rates. There’s Kayak and Skyscanner which I’m sure you already know about. And then, there’s Skiplagged. This app finds hidden-city tickets and can give you even more savings if you’re only looking for a short-haul flight.

What it actually does is it books you a cheaper, long-haul flight with a layover at your actual destination. Then, you simply skip the rest of the trip, exiting at the airport of your layover. In fact, the app is so good, it was sued by some airlines.

Tip: When using flight price comparison apps, always turn on the option to “watch” a flight you’re interested in and turn on notifications on your phone to get an alert right away. Sometimes, the prices can drop and you’d want to be the first person to grab that seat.

N26

This is an online banking app that has saved my wallet one too many times while traveling. Some cities can be quite notorious for their money changers that charge commission so high, it feels like legal robbery. N26 lets me withdraw my money for free in most cities and has one of the best exchange rates out there. I have control over my money on my phone and I can also stay on top of my purchases since I get notifications for each transaction. They also make shopping fun and an absolute breeze since they give you a free Mastercard that comes in a nifty, clear design.

One thing to take note of is that this bank doesn’t have a physical branch. You apply for an account online via video chat and you’ll need your passport to prove your identity. To put money in your account, you can transfer funds from your other bank accounts. For cash deposits, you can go to their partner establishments (they’re usually supermarkets or drugstores) to put your money in.

Tip: When swiping any card while traveling, always pay in the local currency. You only go through the conversion once, saving you money.

XE

We’re often told to stop converting currencies in our heads when traveling since it hinders the fun. Well, sometimes, it’s essential to do so. For this, I use XE which gives me up-to-date rates and in more than one currency at that.

Tip: Traveling to more than one country during your trip and eyeing that really cute top from & Other Stories? Price tags in EU countries often have the prices for Euro and countries that have their own currency, making it easier for you to see whether buying that top in Berlin is cheaper compared to buying it in Copenhagen or Stockholm. Save the currencies you’ll be using throughout the trip to make comparison a whole lot easier.

Trail Wallet

Expenses during your travels can creep up at you, especially while you’re enjoying a new place. From dining out to entrance fees for museums and major attractions, small expenses can accumulate rather quickly. This is why I set a daily budget every time I’m traveling. Sticking to it might be a more difficult task if I didn’t have Trail Wallet installed on my iPhone. It’s an oldie but definitely a goodie. I just set a daily budget and enter my expenses on the app. I can classify them by category (accommodation, food, etc.) and even add notes on them should I need to. It also allows me to set my home currency and that of the place I am traveling to so I know how much I’m actually spending. After a trip, it gives me — with colored graphs to boot — a comprehensive view of my spending, making it easier to plan for next time.

Tip: Enter your expenses as you go so you don’t forget to do it later on!

Yelp

Another app that’s been around for ages but has proven that it can stand the test of time. If you’re someone like me who takes food seriously, then you’d want to eat at places that are worth your money and the calories. Yelp helps you find a restaurant that has the food you’re craving and is within your budget. Using the map function and veering away from areas that are touristy, while taking reviews and prices into consideration, can even bring you to some hidden gems that are only popular among locals. Want more savings? Download apps like OpenTable and TheFork. Not only can you make your table reservations through these apps, you can also get discounts when you dine at certain times.

Tip: Different city, different dining discount app. While OpenTable and TheFork are popular in more than one city, some countries prefer their localized version. It’s best to research in advance which dining app is the best at your destination to maximize your discount potential.

So that’s it for my money-saving, travel apps! Do you have any recommendations for me too? Would love to learn about the ones that you use in the comments section below!

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Google admits Material Design’s biggest flaw

Introduces Dark Mode to repair it

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Eons ago, Google first introduced Android’s ubiquitous Material Design. The flat design emphasized the beauty of minimalism. Since then, the design philosophy has found its way into every smartphone in existence today. The industry hasn’t developed an upending alternative yet. Material Design is just that good.

However, a conclusive series of tests finally finds the Achilles’ heel in Material Design’s adamantium armor. More surprisingly, this barrage of counterarguments comes straight from the horse’s mouth: Google.

Presented at 2018’s Android Dev Summit, Google explains the link between screen brightness and battery management. To no one’s surprise, the company states that more intense brightness settings lead to a larger draw on battery life. Of course, before laying down the hammer, Google adds that their phones’ night mode dramatically reduces brightness a lot more than Apple’s iPhones’ night mode. It’s a small pat on the back before laying down the real tests.

Image source: Google

After this brief introduction on brightness, Google goes into a discussion on color. Also, unsurprisingly, a white-filled screen takes a bigger toll on battery life than any other color on OLED displays. With a hint of shame, Google admits a crucial error. When Material Design started, the company pushed other developers to implement white as the default color. In fact, the design’s baseline theme uses a lot of pure white. Even worse, Google introduced more white in a recent update.

Image source: Google

As a means of reparation, Google has introduced a more effective Dark Mode. Compared to regular settings, the new mode measures a gargantuan improvement on brightness and, consequently, battery life. On 100 percent brightness settings, the dark mode tops at only 96mA. For comparison, the regular mode tops at 239mA. That’s a 60 percent reduction.

With the introduction, Google will hopefully roll out the new mode to more apps as time goes by. As of now, the company successfully proves that the new feature is more than just a cosmetic decision.

SEE ALSO: Android announces support for Foldables, a new smartphone form factor

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YouTube could finally come to the Nintendo Switch

And possibly other video streaming apps as well

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The Nintendo Switch did not come with video streaming services upon its initial launch in March 2017. It was only until November later the same year when Hulu announced its availability for Switch users. Other video streaming services only looked at their Switch plans as opportunities, but there are users who are seeing something on the Nintendo website that could change that.

Some users, when scrolling through Nintendo’s website, are seeing the YouTube app as a suggested download for the Switch. French Twitter account NintendHome sent out a tweet, noting that the app will be available for download on Thursday, November 8. For others, the suggested app appears under the “You might also like…” heading, also with a release date. Clicking on the suggested app, however, does not show any product information, but its mere presence alone indicates its arrival on the Switch.

On the other hand, YouTube may not be the only video streaming service coming to the Switch. It was announced earlier this year that Netflix executives are considering bringing their service to Switch users. However, there are no concrete plans just yet. Another streaming service, Niconico is only available for Switch users in Japan. If YouTube follows through and eventually releases an app for the Switch, it could open more opportunities for other streaming apps to follow suit.

Both Nintendo and YouTube have yet to give comments on this information, nor an official announcement. Hopefully, within the next few days, things will eventually clear up on YouTube for the Nintendo Switch.

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