Apps

5 tricks to help you sleep better at night

Technology can make it better

Photo by Kate Stone Matheson

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Most of the time, I find myself struggling to fall asleep even when I’m exhausted. This proves to be problematic especially when it interferes with my work, by being late in meetings and important presentations. Lack of a good night’s rest could also make an impact on the quality of your output.

Since I’ve been doing my research and tested them for weeks now, I can finally say I found a different way to shift my lifestyle so I can sleep better at night. I’m not going to say it will be 100% effective for everyone, but it’s worth a try.

Use a wearable with advanced sleep features

Wearables have come a long way from being just an accessory to a reliable health companion. Apple Watch has saved lives, Fitbit helps predict a flu outbreak and help you sleep better.

Photo by MJ Jucutan

Fitbit’s latest wearable — the Versa 2 — has advanced sleep features to help you sleep better at night. There are Sleep Stages to track your different sleep stages — light sleep, deep sleep, and REM; Sleep Score which provides insights and analysis on your sleep quality; and Sleep Mode which disables your screen display and keeps your notifications on silent to give you uninterrupted sleep.

Adjust your smartphone’s exposure

If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, your smartphone might be the reason why. Smartphones emit blue light that made it difficult for our eyes to fall asleep. To combat this effect, we need to increase bright light exposure and reduce blue light exposure.

Photo by MJ Jucutan

This can be done through your smartphone’s display settings. Some smartphones let you adjust the white balance, color mode, and temperature. Others have specific modes to help you sleep by filtering out blue light.

Fix your bed and bedroom environment

Some people sleep better in hotels, mostly because of the comfortable experience when it comes to bed and the room’s temperature. Sleeping is difficult if it’s hot, adjust your temperatures accordingly. Additionally, improving your bed quality such as getting new bedding, a comfortable mattress, and fluffy pillows can enhance the quality of your sleep.

Photo by Christopher Jolly

On certain occasions, I’ve experienced lower-back pain due to my mattress and an extreme abundance of pillows. Of course, this is purely subjective, as everything will be based on your preference. But if you can upgrade your bed, then do it for the sake of a good night’s sleep.

Relax and clear your mind

Another thing that you can do is to try out a relaxation technique that works for you. Clear your mind by listening to relaxing music, reading a book (that’s not a thriller), meditating, or doing yoga.

Photo by Aaron Burden

If these don’t work for you at all, try taking a hot, relaxing bath or shower. I find it easier to fall asleep faster and deeper whenever I cleanse myself and my thoughts in the shower.

Use a sleeping app

I used to listen to music at night as I overthink my regrets, mistakes, wrong decisions and scenarios with my crushes until I fall asleep. However, that used to keep me up until 4 o’clock in the morning so I don’t recommend doing that. In my quest to sleeping better, I found an app that helps.

Photo by The Harmony Project

The Harmony Project is an app providing computer-generated music that you can rate if it helped you sleep better. Through artificial intelligence and user feedback, the app will determine which sound helped users sleep better, combining highly rated tracks to produce an even better track that will help us fall asleep faster.

The app recently launched last August after several beta testing and continues to be an evolving system. Take part in studying and developing the fastest way to better sleep. Download the app on the App Store and Play Store.

SEE MORE: SleepPhones lets you comfortably listen to music in bed

Apps

4K streaming could be cheaper soon

Thanks to the H.266 format

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Watching 4K videos on YouTube or Netflix is taxing on mobile data, consuming about a gigabyte or more. But a new compression method could change 4K streaming soon.

Developed by Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, the H.266 / Versatile Video Coding format aims to bring a more efficient way of compressing and streaming videos digitally. This new standard is meant to replace two existing standards — the H.264/AVC and H.265 HEVC.

Compared to the two, H.266 can transmit 4K videos at a much lower file size. The institute says H.266 can transmit a 10-minute UHD video at only 5GB of data.

This is almost 50 percent more efficient than the most advanced video format in the market, H.265 HEVC. Right now, HEVC requires 10GB of data to transmit the same 10-minute UHD video. As such, consumers can expect cheaper 4K streams with the H.266 format.

For example, a 25-minute 4K video that clocks in at 4GB can be streamed at a much lower 2GB with the new format. This will drastically reduce data and bandwidth consumption for consumers and companies.

The new video format also tries to solve the patent royalty system that has long plagued H.264 and H.265. Right now, companies have to deal with the messy system of paying licenses and royalties just to include these formats to their apps and websites. H.266 does away with these licenses, promising a better deal than the old formats.

Support and availability

As of right now, support for H.266 is being worked on both the software and hardware level. According to the institute that developed the format, Media Coding Industry Format is working on chip designs that support the new format on a hardware level.

Meanwhile, the institute is working on an encoder and decoder software which will be released this autumn.

It is worth noting, however, that H.266/VVC is not the only format that promises to improve 4K streaming on devices. Most tech companies today are adopting AV1 alongside VP9. These two formats are developed by separate organizations.

Right now, these formats — along with the H.266 — promise a better way of streaming 4K that will ultimately benefit everyone.

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Google removes 25 apps for secretly stealing your data

The apps were downloaded more than 2 million times

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Google has removed 25 apps from its Play Store for slyly collecting your data in the background. The apps were collectively downloaded more than 2.3 million times before the company clamped down.

According to French cybersecurity firm Evina, the malicious apps were developed by the same threat group. They seemed to offer different functionalities but were fundamentally designed to phish data.

The apps disguised themselves as step counters, image editors, video editors, wallpaper apps, flashlight applications, file managers, and mobile games. While offering some functionality on the front, the end-goal was always to collect user data.

Basically, what these sinister apps do is steal Facebook user’s credentials if they regularly open the account on their phone. The phishing app would overlay a web browser window on top of the official Facebook app and load a fake Facebook login page. You’d assume you’re logging in to your account, but in reality, you just handed over your username and password.

Image by Evina

Evina discovered the flaw in these apps and contacted Google for further action at the end of May. Once the company’s findings were verified, the apps were kicked from the Play Store. Google not only removed the apps from the Play Store but also disabled them on users’ smartphones and informs them via the Play Protect feature.

In recent times, users are increasingly aware of phishing and data collection since social platforms like TikTok have also been caught red-handed. Apple has emphasized its focus on privacy and announced a host of new features to protect the user via iOS 14. Even Xiaomi has added a range of new methods to protect the user in MIUI 12.

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Google, Facebook, Twitter resist China’s attempt to censor Hong Kong

China is trying to curb free speech

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Google, Facebook, and Twitter have temporarily stopped processing government requests for user data in Hong Kong. A new security law went into effect on July 1 and Google immediately paused processing requests.

Even WhatsApp has stopped processing further requests. The controversial law is seen as an attempt by China to curb free speech in the former British colony.

Pro-democracy protestors are worried the new law will be used to censor the internet. Twitter cited “grave concerns” about the law”s implications.

This is seen as China’s broader plan to establish its supremacy and expand its ideology. The new law includes the ability to ask publishers to remove information deemed as a threat to national security. Refusal to enact the request could result in a fine or jail time.

Tech companies work in tandem with local law enforcement agencies to moderate content on their platforms. With the new law, processing Hong Kong government’s request would indirectly mean handing over user data and endangering pro-democracy protestors.

In simpler terms, you could be jailed for a social media post that says anything against the administration.

Citizens are actively switching to messaging apps like Signal that provide end-to-end encryption. This helps in masking your identity to a great extent.

Previously, when the internet was shut down to curb protests, citizens used offline messaging apps like Bridgefy and FireChat to spread the world and coordinate protest efforts.

Mainland China has a firewalled internet that is highly censored and constantly surveilled. The irony is, ByteDance’s TikTok isn’t available in China while the rest of the world can freely use it.

TikTok has also officially announced it will be exiting Hong Kong within a few days. But this move is seen as a smokescreen to avoid its Chinese origin.

SEE ALSO: 6 tips to make your phone more private and secure

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