Donald Trump’s New “Truth Social” App Begins With Stumbles, Reaches #1 On Apple Store

Former President Donald Trump’s newest project, Truth Social, launched Monday as he attempts to create a digital space that — along with rivaling other services like Twitter — will allow his supporters to exercise free speech and “let [their] voices be heard.”

The network — owned by Trump Media & Technology Group (TM&TG) — reached #1 on the App Store’s social networking chart on its release day, and has remained in the spot since, beating out apps such as Meta’s Facebook and Messenger. It also hit the top spot on the free apps chart above Tik Tok, HBO Max, Youtube, and “Talking Ben the Dog.”

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However, Truth Social won’t be immediately available for many. The app was offered for download on the store for a limited number of subscribers who preordered. Others were added to a waiting list and will be given access over the next 10 days.

The network isn’t expected to be open for anybody to download and use until a month later, according to the Associated Press. Despite the controlled number of users to start, the app experienced troubles almost immediately, encountering technical issues that shut out subscribers for hours and prevented some from signing on.

Trump’s vision for a social media network launched after his January 2021 ban from Twitter, where he would frequently tweet. While many felt Trump’s — who possessed around 90 million followers — tweets were always contentious, they became increasingly accusative and controversial throughout the 2020 presidential election amid claims of a rigging.

In the days following the Capitol Riots on Jan. 6, Twitter ruled that Trump’s tweets had violated their “Glorification of Violence” policy and permanently banned him, feeling that his intentions were to incite the public during a tense time in the nation. The network based the ruling off a number of factors, from Trump using “American Patriots” as a way of describing his supporters to the former President writing statements that seemed to infer future disorder.

Looking at Truth Social’s layout from previews, you might be getting deja vu. That’s probably because the format of the network is almost identical to Twitter, from the user’s profile to retweet buttons – a design implementation that’s all but intentional given Trump’s continual grievances with the service. Of course, there are a few obvious changes. For example, “Tweets”  and “Retweets” are now changed to “Truths” and “Re-Truths.”

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AP pointed out that Trump, whose Truth followers sits around 120,000, was notably quiet during the debut. A screenshot showed his only message came from last week: “Get Ready! Your favorite President will see you soon!” However, other conservative members like Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers and GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wasted no time promoting Trump’s network.

Investments in TM&TG have seen gigantic hype throughout recent months, with the company being promised $300 million from a publicly traded company that also plans to merge with it, along with pledges from investors of up to $1 billion. However, approval from regulators is needed before TM&TG can access the cash.

Even with the potential fundings and support from party members, it remains to be seen if Truth Social can compete with Twitter and Facebook over the long run. Trump’s actions — such as a third run for Presidency — could certainly aid in beefing up usage.

France Is Testing Digital Covid Travel Certificates For Vaccinated Individuals

France has become the first member state of the European Union to begin testing a digital Covid-19 travel certificate as a part of Europe’s larger plan to allow people to travel between countries more easily once they’re vaccinated.  

The TousAntiCovid app is a part of the nation’s overall contact tracing program, which has recently been updated to store negative Covid-19 test results on travelers’ mobile phones. The app is now being trialed on flights to Corisca and overseas to accommodate for vaccinated individuals as well. 

The trial is being extended from April 29th in order to include vaccination certificates as more citizens receive them. If the trial runs end up being successful, the application could eventually be used for entry into public events like concerts, festivals, and sporting events; officials did mention that the technology would not be used for entry into bars and restaurants. 

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Cedric O, the minister for digital transition discussed how the trial in France will become one part of a larger more standardized system to be used all throughout Europe. Several other EU member states are already in talks with France over expanding the technology to reach more countries. 

The European commissioner for justice, Didier Reynders, said last week he expected “the EU’s digital green certificate to be operational by June 21st because the certificate is an urgent priority for southern European member states whose economies have been devastated by the pandemic.”

The program has not been referred to as a “vaccine passport” so that citizens know its not being created to discriminate against those who haven’t been vaccinated yet, especially since it’s original purpose was to carry negative Covid tests for travelers. 

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Ideally, those who have a certificate of approval will be able to travel without quarantining, and will have proof of vaccination, negative testing, or antibodies all on their phone. Those in France being vaccinated this week, and the weeks after this, will receive a text message or email that will give them access to a state-certified online document that can be downloaded or printed out, or stored in the TousAntiCovid app. 

According to reports “the app will generate a secure QR code containing a range of information including the traveler’s name, the date and type of their test or vaccine, and details of the relevant doctor or laboratory, all of which can be checked against a national database.”

Several EU member states are already working on similar programs for their citizens, which has some experts concerned over how well multiple systems will work together. Data security and privacy is also being viewed as top concern. 

So far every app and digital proof of vaccination/negative Covid tests is in its trial phase, and they will likely continue to advance as vaccinations continue throughout the world.


How Strava Can Motivate You to Work Out

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to commit to a healthier lifestyle, which often includes regular exercise. But though there is strong agreement about the benefits of a physically active lifestyle, it can be difficult to stay motivated, particularly at the start of a new year when it’s cold outside and gyms are crowded. Luckily, there exist a number of smartphone apps that offer a plethora of features designed to motivate you to maintain a regular and consistent workout schedule. One such app, Strava, motivates runners by allowing them to track their activities, check their stats, and compete with others.

Unlike many sports, running is an activity that can easily become dull over time, as the sport is repetitive, simplistic, and can be grueling. However, running is a very effective way to burn calories and maintain cardiovascular fitness, and it requires virtually no equipment save for a pair of running shoes. Running, like most sports, is more exciting when performed alongside others; however, people who are very busy may have difficulty finding a group of people to run with that fits into their schedule. Recently, though, many smartphone apps have been developed that allow people to virtually compete with one another by tracking their pace and mileage via GPS sensors and letting users upload their statistics to the internet and view others’ stats. A large number of apps exist for this purpose, each offering its own unique set of features, but Strava is perhaps the best choice for runners with a competitive mindset.

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Strava, which calls itself the “social network for athletes,” is available on both Android and iOS devices as well as through a web browser at Like competing apps MapMyRun and Runkeeper, Strava uses your phone’s GPS to record and track your workouts, giving you information about your performance after you complete your run. What sets Strava apart is its inclusion of extensive social features, which take the form of challenges, wherein users compete to achieve a goal designed by the app’s developers, and virtual running clubs, where people can make friends, compare their stats, and organize to meet up in real life. Although Strava is free, the company offers a paid membership called Summit, which unlocks advanced features like more detailed analysis, additional training tools, and safety tools that allow users to share their location with trusted contacts during a run.

While most runners are unlikely to pay the necessary $6 a month for a premium membership, the base app still offers a plethora of features to motivate and engage runners. One distinct benefit of the sport of running is that it’s easy to track your progress over time, as using a GPS tracker lets you know whether your performance has improved, even if only by a few seconds per mile. This characteristic of running makes it particularly appealing to people who like to work with numbers or fans of role playing video games, which are based on the concept of slowly improving your character’s stats over time through continued play. In this way, running can provide the same feeling of accomplishment associated with improving a fictional character’s stats in a video game, with the main difference being an improvement in overall health rather than an improvement in a virtual character’s abilities. The gamification elements offered by apps like Strava only make the sport more appealing to these type of gamers, as the app provides users with a rewarding feedback loop by showing them their progress over time and encouraging them to push harder when appropriate.

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Recently, Strava released its “Year in Sport” report, which analyzes all of the data collected by the app over the year and arrives at conclusions about the user base as a whole. The report found that the number of runners who completed a marathon or ultra distance run rose this year compared to last year, with Japan seeing a 23.2 percent boost. It also found that the runners who were the most successful at maintaining their habits were the ones who woke up early to run, and that people are increasingly recording sports other than running, including yoga and weight training, through the app. Given the growing popularity of technologies like smartwatches and virtual exercise classes, these numbers are sure to continue to rise.

Google Android

Google Introduces “Ambient Mode” for Android Devices

Google is known for their constant innovations for their various products, most notably the Android operating system that powers most smartphones. The newest version of Android, Android 10, introduces features like a system-wide dark theme, more sophisticated UI navigation controls, and improved location and privacy tools. While Android 10 continues to roll out to devices from a variety of manufacturers, Google is also looking to improve the Android experience in other ways, most recently in the development of a so-called “Ambient Mode,” which passively displays information on the phone’s display while it is charging and allows the user to interact with the phone in a limited way.

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Google unveiled the feature in a Youtube video which shows Ambient Mode running on a Pixel phone and details the various features of the update. The video describes Ambient Mode as “Android’s proactive Google Assistant,” and Google Product Manager Arvind Chandrababu said that the goal for Ambient Mode is to anticipate users’ needs and allow them to accomplish tasks as quickly as possible. In doing so, Google hopes to move users away from an “app-based” way of doing things, in which users scroll through their list of apps and choose the one that matches what they want to do, to an “intent-based” way of doing things, in which the phone is intelligent enough to adapt to the user’s intent. This is part of Google’s broad philosophy of “ambient computing,” the goal of which is to make the integration of computing into users’ lives as seamless and invisible as possible.

While this philosophy is certainly very ambitious, the announcement of Ambient Mode represents only a small step towards that lofty goal. Though Google has said that Ambient Mode will be available on Android 8.0 and above, the number of devices that are announced to support the feature is limited, including relatively esoteric devices like Sony Xperia phones, Nokia phones, and Xiaomi phones, with no mention of more popular devices like the Samsung Galaxy line of devices or even Google’s own Pixel phones. Additionally, Ambient Mode in its current form is surprisingly limited, as it offers no customization features whatsoever, allowing users to adjust a limited number of quick settings, control compatible smart home devices like lightbulbs and thermostats, and view notifications like weather and calendar alerts. 

While the extent of Google’s control over the smartphone operating system ecosystem is impressive, a number of factors prevent the company from offering the highest-quality products possible. For years, one of Google’s most damaging problems has been the fragmentation of its software lineup. The company has released  — and discontinued — a large number of messaging apps, for instance, and each of these apps is mutually incompatible with others. The problem is made worse by the fact that many smartphone manufacturers build their own messaging apps for their phones; for instance, the Samsung Galaxy s9 comes with an app called “Messages,” which, confusingly, is not the same as the “Messages” app developed by Google.

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For this reason, text messaging on Android phones isn’t nearly as sophisticated or robust as iMessage, the app that comes standard on all iPhones and allows advanced features like read receipts and typing indicators, which are by and large absent on Android. In an attempt to correct this shortcoming, Google has recently announced that it would activate RCS compatibility on its Messages app for all Android phones in certain countries, which enables many of the messaging features that iPhone users have enjoyed for years. However, the problem of app fragmentation remains, as only people who are using an app that incorporates RCS compatibility can use these advanced features. As of now, Ambient Mode seems to be plagued by this same shortcoming, due to the feature’s limited availability and functionality. If the company’s prior conduct is any indication of future events, the likelihood of Ambient Mode being rolled out to most Android devices in a timely fashion seems low, as most Android smartphone owners are still waiting for the latest version of Android and other features to arrive on their devices.

Weight Loss

Struggling to Commit to a Weight Loss Plan? Try Noom

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of living a healthy lifestyle is not choosing the right diet and exercise plan, but holding yourself accountable to practicing healthy habits over time, particularly when doing so is a solo journey. That’s where Noom comes in. Noom is a lifestyle app that is focused on instilling lifelong habits that not only help their users look and feel better, but lower their risk of developing chronic illnesses. The philosophy behind Noom is based on the idea that we all make a significant number of decisions throughout the day that impact our health, and while these individual decisions have little impact, their cumulative effect over time is substantial. As such, Noom is designed to hold you accountable for your daily decisions, subtly encouraging positive choices over negative ones. Also, Noom connects you with a community of users of a similar demographic and with similar lifestyle goals, allowing you to seek advice and receive encouragement along your healthy lifestyle journey.

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Although weight loss is Noom’s primary goal, the app strives to differentiate itself from dieting programs that may lead to fast results but leave people prone to regaining the weight they lost after completing the program. As such, the company advertises its app as “the last weight loss program you’ll ever need.” Upon signing up for Noom, users are presented with a survey that asks about their age, height, weight, and gender, and then the app asks users to enter their goal weight. After being prompted to sign up for the option premium version of the app, users are then taken to the home screen, from which they can enlist in a number of courses specifically designed to instill healthy eating and exercise habits. Noom’s perspective on nutrition is focused on the idea of “calorie density,” as it encourages users to eat low calorie density foods over high calorie density foods. As such, foods like leafy greens are encouraged, as they provide a small number of calories relative to their size. Additionally, the app separates food into three categories: red, yellow, and green, and it encourages users to eat yellow and green foods while avoiding red ones.

The simplicity of the diet and exercise plans included with Noom is part of the company’s efforts to instill lasting habits

One of the benefits of Noom relative to other weight loss apps is that Noom’s approach has been scientifically validated, although the total amount of science conducted on the subject is minimal. In one study, which included 36,000 participants, 80 percent of users who stuck with the app for a median of 267 days reported weight loss which they kept off. In this study, it was found that tracking dinner was the most effective component of the app for encouraging weight loss, and tracking overall calories, activities, and weight also proved to be effective.  Noom also doesn’t denote any particular food as strictly off-limits; while the app will encourage you to seek healthy alternatives to calorie-dense foods, it won’t try to prevent you from eating them, instead rewarding users for consistently and honestly tracking their food intake. 

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If the program seems very simplistic, that’s because it is. The simplicity of the diet and exercise plans included with Noom is part of the company’s efforts to instill lasting habits; the inconvenience of organizing your life around a strict set of dietary guidelines often has the effect of discouraging would-be dieters over time, so the app attempts to streamline the process as much as possible. That being said, some dieticians complain that this simplistic approach goes too far, as certain high calorie density foods, like nuts, olives, and avocados, are both appealing and healthy. Additionally, while the app features courses created by health coaches, many of these individuals are not registered dieticians, and users have complained that the support provided by these coaches is artificial. While the app purports to allow you to speak with a health coach, users have suspected they are instead speaking with a chatbot, as their responses aren’t always helpful. Others have complained that the app’s database of foods is incomplete, and that tracking food over time is, in general, a pain. Nonetheless, if you’re serious about making long-lasting healthy changes to your lifestyle, it doesn’t hurt to give Noom a shot and determine if it’s the right app for you.


Is the Urban Millennial Lifestyle Sustainable?

If you walk into any major urban center in America, you’re bound to find young people glued to their smartphones. But they’re not always just texting or checking up on social media they’re also taking advantage of a wide range of lifestyle apps, which offer everything from ride-sharing services to online shopping to rewards for engaging with local businesses. Most of these apps, which are generally available cheaply or for free, are created by businesses started in Silicon Valley, where implementing a unique idea and cultivating an audience is often considered more important than generating profits. These consumer tech companies are generally funded by wealthy investors looking to capitalize on the explosion of technology present in the everyday lives of millennials, effectively subsidizing the products in question and enabling an artificially low cost for the consumer. But the venture capitalists who make this app-centric lifestyle possible are effectively placing a bet on the long-term financial viability of the innovative businesses they invest in, with potentially disastrous consequences for everyone involved.

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Any number of examples of these apps, produced by businesses that are not currently making a profit and perhaps never will, come to mind. Casper, a mattress company that operates online and ships compressed mattresses directly to customers’ homes, is expected to lose money this year, as are the tremendously popular Uber and Lyft ride-sharing platforms. DoorDash, a service that delivers food from a variety of eateries, is not profitable, and neither is Seated, which gives discounts to restaurant-goers. Perhaps most notably, the platform WeWork, a business that rents out office and living space to small businesses, recently attempted to go public, a disastrous decision that resulted in financial turmoil for the company after potential investors raised concerns about the company’s path to profitability and its’ CEOs questionable antics, which included smoking marijuana on a private jet and serving tequila shots to employees after discussing layoffs. Amidst this controversy, Adam Neumann stepped down from his role of CEO of the company, and WeWork’s future remains unclear.

In general, companies such as these provide non-essential goods and services, offering their customers convenience for an affordable price rather than the necessities of life. This convenience is made possible by technology, as smartphones are always connected to the internet and provide companies with information such as a user’s location and other details that are used in innovative ways. Nevertheless, they are built upon attractive and enticing ideas, which capture the attention of investors who rely upon their trust that the companies’ ingenuity and creativity will eventually lead them to make a profit.

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Ironically, the most popular online businesses tend to be the least profitable, in what is likely to come as a surprise to their millions of daily users. The well-known Blue Apron, for instance, spends roughly $460 to recruit each of their customers, despite making only around $400 on each customer, as they are likely to cancel their subscriptions after only a few months. As a result, investors quickly realized that the meal-kit company had no viable path to profitability, and the company’s valuation dropped by over 95% since they went public. Because Blue Apron refuses to increase the price of their services, they are unable to demonstrate value to investors, leading to serious financial problems for the company. While Blue Apron may be considered an extreme example, the underlying business model, wherein companies supported by venture capitalists reduce their prices in order to generate an audience, is prevalent throughout entire industries.

The artificially low prices of these new businesses perhaps explains the extremely-connected and online relationship millennials have with tech-savvy startups. But, as companies like WeWork and Blue Apron fail spectacularly despite their large audiences, business leaders are starting to take note. One of the solutions to this inherently problematic business model is simply to raise prices for services in an attempt to generate profits for increasingly impatient investors. But competition is fierce, and millennials are a fickle demographic. Companies that raise prices of services, even if just to break even, risk alienating their base of consumers, who may be drawn to particular products or services for their low prices rather than for their practicality. For instance, if a company that lets customers rent bicycles with their phones raises their prices, consumers may realize that it becomes more economically viable for them to simply purchase their own form of transportation. As income inequality rises and wages remain stagnant, particularly among the millennial class of workers, companies are faced with the difficult choice between continuing to operate at a loss by benefiting from increasingly-wary investors, and raising prices for non-essential goods and services that their consumer base may increasingly be unable to afford.

On phone

By Removing Police-Tracking App, Apple Sides with China Over Hong Kong Protestors

On Wednesday, Apple removed an app designed to track police officers called from its App Store in a controversial move that is raising questions about the company’s commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy. was available on the App Store for just days before it was removed on the basis that it violated local laws and enabled protestors to attack the police in Hong Kong. The move came in the wake of intense criticism from state-run Chinese media, as the People’s Daily, a flagship newspaper run by the Chinese Communist Party, accused Apple of helping “rioters.” Apple gave a statement justifying its removal of the app, saying it had been used “to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement.”

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As China forms one of the most important markets for Apple and other technology companies, navigating the politics of the pro-democracy protests which have only intensified over the past several months presents a difficult situation. Companies like Apple generally strive to avoid giving the appearance of supporting or opposing political causes, though the company notes that principles like enabling private communication and protecting the security of their users’ personal data are foundational in the design of their products. However, when operating in countries that impose restrictions on human rights as a matter of law like China, Apple and other companies are often forced to make decisions that have inherently political ramifications as they balance their profit motive against the fundamental rights of their customers. Given the unprecedented intensity of the ongoing Hong Kong protests, the reluctant political involvement of large corporations has perhaps never been as consequential as it is at this juncture.

Other companies have also been drawn into the political minefield that arises when operating in China during the Hong Kong protests. An executive of the Houston Rockets tweeted his support of the protests this week, for instance, leading to an apology by the Rockets and the cancellation of broadcasts of N.B.A. games in China, one of their largest markets. And the video game company Blizzard recently banned a professional gamer who expressed support of democracy in Hong Kong during a company-sponsored livestream, forcing him to forfeit $10,000 in prize money and leading to an outcry from the gaming community and an employee walkout at Blizzard offices. The ban was necessary in order for the company to comply with China’s censorship laws, even though it plainly contradicted the company’s core values. By continuing to operate in China under their strict anti-free-speech laws, companies like Blizzard tacitly support a totalitarian regime, as withdrawing their business in China would put economic and political pressure on the Chinese government to loosen restrictions on free speech.

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Of all the companies affected in this way by the ongoing political turmoil in China, perhaps none have a more direct and significant impact on policy than Apple. As one of the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers which serves more than 243 million customers in China, Apple is uniquely positioned to impact the flow of information within the authoritarian regime, particularly at a moment when that information threatens the very foundation of the country’s rule over its citizens. Though the Chinese internet is heavily censored, with a variety of social media apps banned and replaced by alternatives managed by the government, Apple nevertheless has some degree of leverage in the form of its software offerings to the Chinese people. As such, the backlash against the company for its latest capitulation to the regime is hard for the company’s socially conscious customers around the world to ignore.

However, the Chinese market remains fairly critical to Apple’s success as a whole, as the company exploits cheap labor in the country to manufacture its products at a competitive price and the Chinese consumer base is the company’s second-largest market. Furthermore, Apple has only recently begun to make headway in the country, and its recent success in the stock market has been based on a belief in the success of continued expansion in this market. As such, it’s probably not reasonable to expect that Apple will sacrifice the economic opportunity presented in China by strengthening its support of human rights with its technology, despite the international outcry. That being said, the company’s PR efforts to depict itself as friendly to human rights is likely to ramp up in the coming weeks in response to the public damage to its image caused by its complacency in the ongoing political crisis. 


How to Take Advantage of Smartphones’ “Digital Wellbeing” Tools

It’s no secret that over the past several years, smartphones have taken over nearly every aspect of most of our lives, as we use the versatile devices for everything from communicating with friends to catching up on work emails to consuming entertainment. As smartphone use is on the rise, many are concerned about the negative impact that device addiction may have on our lives, interfering with our engagement with the real world. This concern is shared even by developers of smartphone software, who have introduced tools to allow users to limit their exposure to their devices, which are categorized under the umbrella term “digital wellbeing.” Such tools are available on both Android and iOS devices, and while their presence may not be obvious, digital-wellbeing features are built into the operating systems of many popular smartphones.

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While digital wellbeing features have existed in Android for some time, their functionality has been expanded for Android 10, the latest version of Google’s operating system. While Android 10 is currently only available for Google Pixel devices, the software update should roll out to other smartphones soon, as manufacturers work to optimize the software for their individual devices. Digital Wellbeing is one of Google’s prioritizes for this version of the operating system, and a number of landmark features have been introduced. For instance, users can enable a so-called “Focus mode,” which disables certain apps deemed to be distracting, and users can also set a maximum amount of time they’re allowed to use each app per day. Additionally, Android 10 introduces a “wind down” mode, which is designed to help users fall asleep at the end of the day by switching the screen to a less-engaging grayscale mode and turns on Do Not Disturb. Android 10 users can also view the amount of time they spend using each app in the Settings menu, and see which apps are occupying the most of their time.

iPhone users, too, have access to tools that are meant to improve their relationship with technology. iOS 12 includes a mode called “Screen Time” which, like its Android counterpart, allows users to view statistics about how often and for how long they use particular apps. This mode also allows users to view the number of times they’ve picked up their phone as well as the time of day they’re most frequently active on their devices. Both operating systems allow users to create limits on how long they use their phones, but whereas Android allows users to set limits on an app-by-app basis, iOS users are only able to set limits by category. iPhones running iOS 12 also have a “Bedtime mode” feature, which dims the display of the lock screen at night to prevent your phone from waking you up when it’s on your nightstand.

Both operating systems allow users to create limits on how long they use their phones

In addition to specialized tools built into their operating systems, Google offers advice for how to ensure the way you’re using your devices is healthy and positive. The company has a page inviting users to reflect on their technology habits, encouraging them to “take the first step toward understanding your relationship with tech, and get tips and tools to help your digital well-being.” This page presents visitors with a quiz, asking them questions about their usage of technology and whether it interferes with their other obligations, whether those are related to work, family, or friends. The company recommends users take advantage of the Google Assistant, which allows people to interact with their phone using only their voice, to spend more time away from the device’s screen, and also suggests users customize the notifications they receive on a per-app basis to prevent them from becoming overwhelming.

While it may seem counterintuitive to rely on our phones to provide us with ways to limit our engagement with technology, the integration of smartphones into our daily lives is a fact of living in the modern era. As such, these tools are a welcome addition to the smartphone ecosystem, and as developers continue to compete for our attention with ever-more engaging apps, the prospect of enforcing self-imposed limits on smartphone usage may become increasingly enticing.

On phone

New App, “Inspo Network,” Aims to be the Netflix of Lifestyle Brands

So much of how we see our lives these days is through the lens of our smartphones and the Internet. Social media has revolutionized how we conduct our relationships, and entertainment is forever changed by the advent of streaming media platforms like Youtube and Netflix. And when it comes to shopping, you can find nearly anything on Amazon, and as its supply and delivery network expands, the platform will continue to replace major retail locations as primary shopping destinations. Certainly, the tech industry provides ample opportunities for start-ups who are looking to introduce convenience and efficiency into the way we live our lives. Inspo Network, a Seattle start-up, intends to do just that.

The Inspo Network App, which gets its name from the slang term for an inspirational piece of clothing or other object, is an app available for iOS that partners with brands and content creators to sell clothing, beauty products, fitness products, and more. As the company’s primary revenue stream is in sales, the app essentially functions as a platform for advertising merchandise and streamlining the consumer purchasing experience. The app also allows users to save content for later, and even offers personalized recommendations based on the user’s browsing experience. Currently, the app has an average rating of 4.9/5 stars on the App Store, and user reviews applaud the app for being easy to use and visually appealing.

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The design of the app draws heavily from competing platforms like Instagram and Twitter, and presents users with a row of tabs at the bottom of the screen, offering features like viewing favorited images and discovering new channels. The app groups content into particular subcategories like clean beauty, makeup, and skincare, and is advertised as offering an alternative to “social media clutter” for browsing lifestyle-oriented products. As these products are often associated with celebrities or popular figures on social media, the shopping experience on Inspo Network is tightly integrated with these individuals, who can make money from the app by selling items featured in their content. Because the app functions as a platform for creators to showcase a premium line of products, the quality of the content posted via the app is fairly high across the board, differentiating the app from platforms where just anyone can share pictures and videos.

Though the app is relatively new, it faces fierce competition in the form of Instagram, which has recently rolled out a feature allowing high-profile members to sell products in a similar way. Amazon, too, has competed in this space with the Instagram-like Spark, which presented users with a feed populated with so-called “shoppable images.” What Inspo Network has going for it, then, is its focus on the shopping experience and the elimination of distractions normally associated with social media use, coupled with many of the same popular influencers who can be found on a multitude of platforms. Recently, Inspo Network has raised $3 million from venture capital firm Graycroft, which is on top of the $5.5 million the company raised from PSL ventures when it was founded.


Apps to Organize Your Life

For nearly everybody these days, smartphone addiction is a simple fact of life, as most of us struggle to imagine life without our devices. But while it’s easy to spend hours upon hours staring at our screens, consuming mindless content like Netflix shows and Youtube videos, the potential of our phones to positively impact our daily lives is much greater than that. Thanks to the widespread availability of third-party applications on both iOS and Android devices, there’s no shortage of apps that promise to enhance your lifestyle in any number of ways. But this abundance of apps can make it difficult to determine which are worth downloading and investing time and money into and which are just a waste of time. As such, this article showcases the best and most useful lifestyle apps out there.

Perhaps the most versatile of these apps is IFTTT, which stands for If This Then That and allows you to program your phone to take actions automatically in response to certain events. For example, you can create a program that automatically turns on the Wi-Fi radio on your device when you enter your home and turns it off when you leave, or one that automatically shares social media posts across different platforms. IFTTT is designed to work with a multitude of services and platforms, such as Philips’ Hue lighting system and the Amazon Alexa voice assistant, enabling greater flexibility with respect to how services work together and integrating system not originally designed to be compatible with one another. Using IFTTT, you can create your own “applets,” or download ones shared by the community by taking advantage of a polished and easy-to-use interface. IFTTT is available for iOS, Android, and personal computers, and is free for personal use.

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If you’re a frequent online shopper, you may enjoy the convenience of having packages delivered right to your doorstep but may have some difficulty keeping track of what you’ve ordered and when your products are due to arrive. That’s where Slice comes in. The free app, available for both iOS and Android devices, not only aggregates and tracks your deliveries in real time, but also notifies you when the prices of items you’ve ordered changes or when the products you’ve purchased are recalled. Additionally, the app lets you scan barcodes for items that you’re shipping out to track their delivery progress, and if you link the app to your Amazon account, it will allow you to view detailed stats about the categories you spend money in and how your spending habits change over time.

Live in a city and interested in taking advantage of more public transit options? Citymapper may be the app for you. Available for both major smartphone operating systems, Citymapper integrates all major forms of urban public transport, including walking, cycling, and driving services, to help you determine the best way to get from point A to point B. The free app includes information about subway, bus, and taxi services, including prices and schedules, and combines routes from different modes of transportation to provide the most efficient navigation option. Additionally, Citymapper can send you notifications to let you know of things like changes in prices or schedules, service outages, and traffic information. By taking advantage of Citymapper, you can save time and money and reduce the stress of moving throughout a complex urban environment.

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Finally, potentially the most important lifestyle app on the list is Mint, which helps you track and plan your finances by connecting to your bank account, credit card, and other services. The app keeps a running list of all of your purchases and earnings, and breaks them down into categories to let you know when you’re over or under your monthly budget. Mint automatically checks and updates your credit score at regular intervals, and gives you advice on how to adjust your spending habits to maximize your score. The app also provides offers and recommendations for different credit cards, and helps with making decisions about loans and investments. While some users may be skeptical about sharing their financial data with a third-party, the app, developed by Intuit, who also develops Turbotax, promises to be very secure, and the potential to save money and improve your credit score is likely worth the perceived risk.

It’s impossible to create a fully comprehensive list of useful lifestyle apps in the space of a single article, and as such, there are a countless number of high-quality apps not listed here that are likely worth your time. As such, you should do your own research to determine which apps are best for you. Good resources include the “lifestyle” category of the app store on your smartphone of choice, and be sure to check the user reviews before downloading an app. Additionally, it’s a good idea to use a search engine to look up more detailed and objective information about apps before you download them, as some less-popular apps have potential security risks, particularly when they access sensitive data. Nevertheless, the app ecosystem has never been larger and more diverse, and taking advantage of the resources available to you can improve your life in surprising and unique ways.