Apps

Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter announce major updates

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It’s a big day for smartphone users as Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter roll out major updates to their iOS and Android apps.

60-second videos on Instagram will be available on iOS starting today, the photo-sharing app said in its blog post. This comes more than a month after it announced the expansion of video ads from 30 seconds to a full minute, giving advertisers more flexibility in time for Super Bowl 50.

Instagram first introduced videos in June 2013, which have only been limited to 15 seconds until today. The amount of time people spend watching videos on the app increased by more than 40% in the last 6 months, says the announcement.

Roll out for Android will be available in the coming months.

Snapchat expands Chat with features that best emulate face-to-face conversations like video and audio calls.

Previously, users can only video chat when both parties have each other’s Chat page open. With Chat 2.0, you can start a video chat with any of your friends, whether they are online or offline. Your friend can choose to ignore your video chat, watch, or join you the same way a video call works. You can also now send messages simultaneously during video chats.

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If video calling is not for you, audio calls are also now available and will work the same way as video chatting. Chat 2.0 also added GIF-like video notes that appear as round thumbnails and audio notes, much like voice messages, that you can leave for your friend to see or listen to when he comes online.

Or maybe stickers can say it best for you? Snapchat also introduces virtual stickers to its chat just like the ones offered by messaging apps LINE, Viber, and Messenger. Typing keywords like ‘love’ will search the Snapchat trove for matching stickers you can use. While searching is more convenient, switching from one sticker pack to another needs more effort – you’ll have to scroll down endlessly to find the sticker you’re looking for.

Snapchat also introduces Auto-Advance Stories. Watching your friends stories is now made easier, with each one loading automatically right after the other. This eliminates having to swipe down to exit and selecting another story to watch.

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Twitter makes images more accessible for the visually impaired by adding alternative text or alt text.

An add description button will appear on each photo you add to a tweet, allowing for up to 420 characters that should help describe and convey the same information as the image.

Adding alt text for images is the first principle of web accessibility according to WebAIM. It essentially replaces images for people with visual disabilities, so they can have access to them through screen readers or braille displays.

To enable this feature, go to your iOS or Android app’s accessibility settings.

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Apps

How to make your crush view your Instagram Story

Three easy steps to get that validation

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Catching up with friends entails a discussion about your love life. Being single for a long time, a friend asked if I were dating someone new. I responded gleefully, “no, I’m not dating anyone but I have a new crush I met at an event.”

Giggly about my newfound love interest, my friend advised me how to tease my crush. However, it’ll only work if we’re following each other on Instagram. To see if my friend’s strategy works, we used our own accounts and to my surprise, we succeeded.

While it may yield different results, here are three easy steps you can do to make your crush view your Instagram story.

Step 1: Post a story you want your crush to see

Uploading a story feels like a small window to our lives. Make sure the photo you upload is something that you want your crush to see. It’s like making an impression, and you only have one shot if he/she ever sees your story. I posted my gym photos and pizza stories — something that both my crush and I enjoy.

Step 2: Edit your story settings

Here’s the not-so-tricky part! We’re calling it the hide-unhide strategy. When your story is uploaded, immediately adjust your story settings and hide your story from your crush. Save it, and then change the story settings again to unhide the story. This strategy beats Instagram’s algorithm and pushes your story to one of the first stories he/she can view.

Step 3: Enjoy the validation

As long as you and your crush follow each other on Instagram and regularly use the app, then it’s guaranteed that he/she will view your story. Enjoy the frickin’ validation. I’ve been doing it for almost a month now, and I always giggle whenever I see my crush’s name.

There are times that the strategy won’t push you to the first story he/she can view. For some reason, my friend tried hiding and unhiding her story to me, and she only ended up being second on the queue. Instagram still prioritizes the accounts you engage with the most through reacts and direct messages. However, being at the first five ensures you have a shot at making an impression that lasts.

Now, hurry and make your crush view your story. It won’t be long before Instagram’s algorithm changes again!

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3 fitness apps for people who travel a lot

No excuses!

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Traveling makes sticking to a workout routine difficult; but in an era with apps that cater to just about everyone’s needs, it’s now easier to achieve your fitness goals.

If you’re committed to making health and fitness a priority this year or simply feel bad about not having a go-to workout, here are three apps that can help no matter how busy you are, wherever in the world you may be:

FlexIt

Work out whenever your schedule allows it, wherever you may be — sans the contract. That’s the idea behind FlexIt, a pay-by-the-minute app that gives you access to thousands of gyms.

You simply scan a QR code at the front desk before and after a workout so you only pay for the time you spend at the gym. The app also lets you see which gyms offer the best per-minute rate in your area, and which times are off peak hours so you can get an even better deal.

FlexIt is currently available across the US, and will soon be expanding to Canada, Europe, and Australia.

ClassPass

Finding a workout that you enjoy can be daunting. With ClassPass, you get to try different physical activities for as little as US$ 19 per month. It’s also perfect for people who get bored with sticking to just one type of workout.

With the app, you can search classes offered by the different gyms around you. Whether it’s indoor cycling, yoga, HIIT, or boxing — booking a class that you feel like taking that day is one tap away. Can’t find a gym in your area? A ClassPass membership also gives you access to on-demand workout videos.

ClassPass is available across the North America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania although monthly subscriptions vary per country.

J&J Official 7 Minute Workout

If time constraints and the lack of gyms in the area are what’s stopping you, try J&J Official 7 Minute Workout app. It’s completely free and it gives you access to a virtual coach and a video library of workouts that you can do in 7 minutes.

If you have a little bit more time to spare, there’s a Smart Workout mode that creates a variety of workouts based on your fitness and motivation level.

The best part is none of the workouts require weights or machines, just your own body weight, making it easier to get your heart pumping whether you’re in an airport lounge or an Airbnb.

Committing to a one-year gym membership can be too much — not just for people who travel a lot like me, but also for beginners. These three apps don’t require contracts, but a self-commitment to make working out not just a New Year’s resolution but also a lifetime habit. With everything accessible with a few taps on your smartphone, there are just simply no excuses.

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Lazada lets you send donations for Taal Volcano victims

All through their app

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Not sure how you can help victims of the Taal Volcano eruption? Lazada has a way, all through their app.

In partnership with Caritas Manila and Pedigree Philippines, people can donate through the Lazada app starting at PhP 50.

Here’s how:

Step 1: Open the Lazada app and click “Load, Bills, & ECoupon”

Step 2: Click “Donation” from the categories

Step 3: Choose either Caritas Manila for monetary donation vouchers or Pedigree for pet meals

Step 4: Select your desired amount of donation

Step 5: Click “But Now” and donate

Caritas Manila is a humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Catholic Church in the Philippines. They are donating supplies such as food, clean water, sleeping Mats, hygiene supplies, face masks, and more.

Meanwhile, Pedigree is calling for pet food donations where proceeds will be donated to PETA Asia, an Asia-based animal rights group, to help feed stray animals stranded from the evacuation.

Taal Volcano erupted on January 12, 2020. It caused ash to spew in various provinces and areas including Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and Central Luzon. Locations near the volcano have declared a state of calamity.

The Philippine organization tasked in monitoring volcanic activity has raised the Alert Level 4 on Taal Volcano indicating that a very dangerous eruption could happen any time.

You may download the Lazada app on The App Store or on the Google Play Store.

SEE ALSO: Google launches crisis map for Taal Volcano victims

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