Finding Your Next Fitness App

Finding Your Next Fitness App

With the holiday season upon us, we tend to start thinking about how our waistlines have a nasty habit this time of year of expanding as this year comes to a close and the new one begins. Fear those Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas cookies no more- we’ve found fitness apps that will help you stay active and healthy this holiday season so you can start your new year off on the right foot.

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How To: Deal With a Missing Phone

How To: Deal With a Missing Phone

Showed-Us-What-Do-When-You-Lose-Your-Cell-PhoneYou’ve checked your pockets, the car, retraced your steps twice – but it seems your phone is missing. Cue the panic that sets in once we realize our partner in crime is gone. It’s hard not to imagine some stranger holding your beloved, trying to gain access to your accounts, and invading your personal space.

However, if you know some simple tricks and steps to recovering lost phones or even remotely wiping your device, you may be better off than most in the unfortunate event of a missing phone*.

If you haven’t read our tips to prevent the ultimate aggravation of not being at all prepared in the event your phone is lost/stolen* go back and read our article here.

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Loss and Damage for Your Phone 101

Loss and Damage for Your Phone 101

Your phone is with you at all times, until one time, it’s not. That’s when you realize that you are never prepared for this to happen. Panic sets in.

This is easily preventable – not losing your phone, but retaining control over finding it. There’s also ways to prevent hundreds of dollars from going missing from your wallet anytime your phone takes an unsupervised swim, or a drink from the toilet. You’ll thank ‘past you’ who was wise enough to purchase a warranty when it costs you hundreds less to replace your phone after an accident.

Here are a couple tips to help make sure you’re saved from the headache that comes with a lost or damaged phone.

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Mobile Buy Guide: October 2015

Mobile Buy Guide: October 2015

We’re on the cusp of the holiday season and as per usual, huge phone launches have occurred. We have complied a list of some of the latest and greatest phones from our two big powerhouses: Apple and Android. Below we go over some specs of each of the phones and how much bang for your buck you’ll  be getting this season when you’re on the market for a new device.

Apple

In true Apple fashion, they had an entire circus of media around the unveiling of the latest iPhone.  As a recommendation, if you’re in the market for a new iPhone it’s best to now buy either the 6s or 6s Plus in order to stay ahead of Apple’s obsolescent curve that they are notorious for.  Buying the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus isn’t the best decision, especially when it seems that the latest iOS 9 software launch runs a lot better on the newest iPhone and not so great on older models (Surprising? I think not.) Oh and you can also get the phone in pink, er, we mean “Rose Gold”.

iPhone 6s

The biggest feature release that sets the iPhone 6s apart from the iPhone6, is the 3D Touch feature. To those who have an AUntitled-2pple Watch, which comes with ForceTouch, 3D Touch is the same idea just on a phone scale. It stands to note that not a lot of apps have created a compliance with this feature, so you’ll really only see the benefit right now of this feature on Apple designed apps (like Mail, Calendar, etc.). You are also able to “peek” at different apps which changes the whole feel of Apple’s stagnant home page. Additionally, they put a lot of time into the cameras, giving the rear and front facing camera a huge face lift with the ability to take “selfie panoramas”, shoot 4K video recordings, and Live Photos (which mean the photo will actually capture all those in between snapping the photo moments, creating the future of picture taking). The features are cool updates from the iPhone 6, but the price tag remains on the high end.

iPhone 6s Plus

Identical in features, besides the obviously larger screen, the iPhone 6s Plus is for those who love to have phablets. If you’re into the larger screen for everything from reading emails to streaming videos, and a longer battery life, you may want to consider checking out the bigger brother to the iPhone 6s. This phone, as the iPhone 6 Plus did, is competing with other competitive phablets like the Galaxy Note 5. Just be prepared to also drop a pretty penny on this device- the price increasing as your memory needs increase.

Depending on your personal preferences, you have four financial options to consider when upgrading:

  • You can buy upfront
  • You can buy on a contract with a carrier
  • Carriers are now offering payment plans
  • Apple is also offering payment plans (with interest and Apple Care+)

Android

This time around, we split Android into different categories: phablets, smaller phones, budget, and inexpensive. The great thing about Android is that there is a phone out there for everyone’s different needs and preferences for what they want in a phone. The Google event on the 29th of September garned a lot of buzz, due to Google announcing not one, but two, new Nexus phones.

PhabletsGalaxy-Note5_left-with-spen_Black-Sapphire

Galaxy Note 5

We talked about the Galaxy Note Edge in our last buy guide, but the Samsung’s Galaxy Note in general remains a pioneer in the field of phablets. In the Galaxy Note 5 though, Samsung has removed the Micro SD slot, instead replacing their textured back with a glass backing, more aligned with their Galaxy S6 phones. This updated version of the phone is also not as wide, so that makes it a lot easier for those of us with smaller hands to access more features on the screen with one hand. Still coming with a stylus, this phablet will be the best all-around on the go business phone, as you can do just about everything on the device.

Nexus 6P

Powerful camera to capture all moments in life regardless of the lighting, HD screen resolution, aluminum frame to ease the weight of the device, and a fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone for increased security- this latest phone from Google is available for pre-order. The battery is said to last longer than its predecessors, thanks in part to the slightly smaller screen and being launched with Android Marshmallow. The price is a bit on the high side, starting at $499 for the 32GB model. However, if you do pre-order, you’ll receive a $50 gift card to the Google Play store, which isn’t a bad deal.

Smaller Phones:

Galaxy S6 Edge

The Galaxy S6 Edge has maintained it’s popularity and stood it’s ground in the fight to compete with Apple. As we mentioned in our last buy guide, the Edge has a fantastic rear and front facing camera that were better than the iPhone 6, but fall just short of the iPhone 6s.nexus 5x

Nexus 5X

Here’s the alternative to paying the extra dollars for the Nexus 6P and a smaller size. The Nexus 5X boosts top of the line performance and speed, for a reasonable price tag. They also didn’t skimp on the camera, which performs well in low light conditions and the launch time of the camera is faster, in order to allow you to capture every little moment. And guess what- the Nexus 5X shoots 4K video, just like our pals over at Apple. Fingerprint scanner, Android Marshmallow, also offering a pre-order deal of a $50 Google Play giftcard- the Nexus 5X gets it all. Plus, the phone starts at a mere $379.

Moto X Pure Edition

Moto_X_Style_Black_Front_Back

Camera, camera, camera. Users of Motorola’s previous generations complained about poor camera quality in low light and Motorola responded by greatly improving the camera on their latest release- the Moto X Pure Edition. Running a more pure Android interface, the latest phone is also still just as customizable as the Moto X (2014) edition. The screen has a sharp pixel density which means you’re getting incredibly clear and vibrant images which makes it great for streaming videos and viewing photos. Great news for those who love Micro SD cards- this latest edition comes with a port to expand that memory with a Micro SD card, which is fantastic considering the highest storage you can buy with the phone, is only up to 64 GB. If you’ve used Motorola phones in the past and liked them, you’re sure to love their latest update.

Budget:

Moto G

If you’re saving for a big purchase but need to have a reliable phone, this budget phone is for you. We detailed this crazy deal of a phone on our last buy guide, but here are the highlights you need to know about this steal of a phone: runs Lollipop, has a bright focused screen, and great speakers; the latest 2015 model is now available and includes updates on the speed, camera, and added battery capacity. The phone also includes a Micro SD card slot (memory lovers rejoice!) so that you never have to fear running out of memory on your phone. Remember, all of this, for under $200.

Inexpensive:

Moto-E-(2nd-GenMoto E

For only $119.00 starting, you get an LTE capable, all day battery lasting, and Micro SD storage phone. This inexpensive steal from Motorola is perfect for those who travel overseas a lot, for those who want to get their pre-teen or teen their first smart phone, or to introduce anyone for their first time to the joys of having a smartphone. The benefit with such an inexpensive price tag but the ability to do with this phone what many others can do with theirs, is that losing the phone isn’t the end of the world. Or if you have a habit of letting your phone swim unsupervised- because you can always replace it for the price of a grocery shopping trip at Whole Foods would cost you.

 

 

Carriers

As always, check out our post on carriers to learn more about which one is best for you and your lifestyle.

App Review: Today’s Favorite Music Apps

App Review: Today’s Favorite Music Apps

Spotify

spotify

A personal favorite, Spotify offers two levels of service: Free and Premium. Premium is $10 a month (unless you’re currently enrolled in higher education, you get the service 50% off see details here), and includes the best features Spotify has to offer. In Premium you can save playlists, shuffle them, download the playlists or just certain songs to be available offline, so if you’re ever not in service you can still access your tunes. Premium also allows you to access Spotify on your phone and for this reason alone you should consider upgrading from free. In the free version of the app, you can access Spotify from your phone and you can create playlists- but you can’t shuffle through songs or make the song available offline. Additionally you can’t play whatever song you want on demand, you’ll just be at the mercy of the AI software. Spotify also just recently announced it is expanding its features on the mobile device. These features include: streaming TV shows and original video content, podcasts and radio shows, discovery tools, and a jogging buddy. Whew- and all for still their set premium price a month. Spotify is on its way to becoming a fully loaded app, but keep in mind it’s only being released for iOS at first, so if you have an Android your release date is TBD. On the home screen of the app, you can browse other user playlists and can also view and listen to Spotify created playlists. Connecting with your friends is easier too- just simply locate their profiles and you can follow any playlist they create and be up to date with whatever they’re adding and removing from their list. Although Spotify has come under recent fire from notable celebs like Taylor Swift for not paying artists enough, as long as you’re not bummed about not listening to “Shake It Off”, Spotify remains a dominant music service.

*Bonus! Google announced that Spotify will be available for streaming for their new Audio Chromecast, coming soon.

 

Pros: Spotify is expanding and including video and TV/ low price/ fully loaded running section

Cons: The latest and greatest is only available for iOS/ free version isn’t all that great- so you’ll definitely be paying to access all the best features/ in recent months lots of popular artists have left the streaming service

 

$9.99/month

$4.99/month (For College Students)

 

 

Play Music (Google)

google play music logo

As Google already owns almost all of my information, it only seems fitting that I have myself used Play Music for my musical needs. One of the greatest things Google Play offers is that they circulate free albums for download from time to time on their site. These aren’t incredibly old, outdated albums either- in recent weeks available for download have been the full Sia album, Jason Derulo album, and the Cole Swindle album. As the holidays approach, Google will release holiday albums for free that you can download right into your library. Like Spotify, Play Music also features “Mood” Playlists (like for “Driving”, “Cleaning the House”). Additionally they also give you recommended radios based off artists you listen to frequently, or an “I’m Feeling Lucky” Station that just pulls from your favorite artists from different genres. Depending on how many songs you have in your repertoire, Google lets you store up to 50,000 songs for free which includes uploading music to the cloud and transferring files to a specific device (like from computer to phone).You can also upload your files onto Play Music, so that you can have access to your own musical library in the Google Play App, wherever you are. If you subscribe to Play Music you get your first 30 days free, then $9.99/month afterwards. Subscribing entitles you to ad-free listening and unlimited skips- so you can imagine what non-subscription subjects you to (Say hello to only 6 skips per HOUR and tons of ads). Play Music rivals Spotify’s prices, but they have some of the artists that recently left Spotify.

*Bonus: Google announced at their Sept. 29th event that they will be releasing a Family Plan later this year, which allows up to 6 profiles to be created on one plan, for only $14.99/month

 

Pros: Free (surprise) album downloads/ great mood playlists/ all artists are on Google/ store 50,000 songs for free/ upload your own music into the Google Play Music/ works great with Droids and Apple products

Cons: Non subscriptions features are bad, meaning they’re going to get you to pay for the service.

 

$9.99/month

 

 

Prime Music (Amazon)

prime music logo

Prime Music boasts an impressive sized library, over a million songs, from all the top artists (including Taylor Swift) that can be listened to ad-free with unlimited skips. If you already have been buying your songs through Amazon (MP3’s and CD’s), your music is already in the Amazon library, so Prime Music will make the most sense for you. Prime Music also has Prime created playlists for any mood or any day of the week. Utilizing personalization, the more you listen the more personalized stations will become for you since you can “thumbs up” songs you like and “thumbs down” songs you don’t (Hmm, sounds a little bit like our friend Pandora doesn’t it?). Bonus! Prime Music is included with your Prime membership, which is good because we all know those memberships are not cheap. However, if you’re a student and you have a Student Prime Membership, then this is the best built in music service for you. Like Spotify, there is a download option in which you can download songs from Prime Music onto your mobile device so if you ever don’t have an internet connection, like when you fly or are driving out in the middle of nowhere, you can listen to the music in your catalog.

Pros: Included in your Prime Membership/ no ads/ stations that personalize over time to your taste

Cons: You have to have a Prime Membership in order to enjoy this “Free” perk. But Prime Memberships are cool too though, right? It personalizes your stations and musical preferences like Pandora, but for a lot more.

 

$99.99/year

$49.99/year (For College Students)

 

 

Apple Music

apple-music-logo

Ah, Apple Music. Starting off you get a free 3 MONTH trial membership, which beats out every other music app we’ve discussed thus far. Apple also takes care to mention that you can experience all the glory that is Apple Music across all different platforms (meaning it works on PC and Droids, not just Apple products). When your trial is over and you have to pay, Apple offers Individual and Family- Individual means you get access to the entire Apple Music library, recommendations for songs and artists you may like, the newest music, and unlimited skips on their radio stations. For Family, where up to 6 people can enjoy the unlimited access to Apple Music on their own devices, is great for the monthly price but this feature really only works seamlessly with Apple products, and not so seamlessly if someone has a different non-Apple device. So what do you miss out on if you don’t pay? Unlimited listening, being able to add Apple Music content to your library, being able to save for offline listening, and the expert music recommendations. Basically, you don’t get any of the cool features and you’re subjected to hours or advertisements interjected throughout your listening.

 

Pros: 3 month free trial- enough said. Family is a great deal for the price for 6 users to share Apple Music content and perks.

Cons: Family doesn’t make sense if you’re not all Apple users/ really only prefers Apple users, Droids will struggle with this music app

 

Individual: $9.99/month

Family: $14.99/month

 

 

Pandora

pandora

Pandora is definitely one of the more grandfathered in streaming services out there. Personalization is at the heart of Pandora’s radio platform but like many other streaming services, there are two hierarchies in the Pandora world. Known for its thumbs, you can thumb up or a down a song and now you can even go back through your session history to give a track you may have missed a thumb up or down. With their “Add Variety” feature, you can add other artists or songs to stations you’re listening to and even now rename the stations. You can even tell Pandora when you’re tired of listening to a track they seem to play all too often on your station. In their settings you can create Alarm Clocks and Sleep Timers so that you can wake up and fall asleep to your favorite songs. Another favorite feature is the “Shuffle Stations”, in which you can select several stations and command Pandora to shuffle through them, giving you the ultimate variety.  Pandora One is the name of their paid service, the higher tier, the no ad version. More skips, no ads, fewer time outs with Pandora asking if you’re still listening- for dirt cheap.

Pros: It’s cheap! The free version is pretty great as well, so you can get away with never paying.

Cons: You can’t make playlists or make songs available offline, so Pandora listening is limited to Internet connection locations only. Also, just like the radio, you’re subject to randomization.

 

$4.99/month OR $54.89/year*

*(The year rate saves you $0.42/month)

 

 

So which one is the best?

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Depends.

Overall, your preference for the music app you choose to use largely revolves around what you specifically value. For those looking for more user control, Spotify may be more for you. But if you’re a student who already uses Amazon Prime, Prime Music is free so it’s budget friendly if you’re already an Amazon junkie. Apple Music offers a 3 month free trial which makes it a great option for those who are indecisive. In any case, it’s good to do your research on the different apps that are out there for music before you commit yourself to a monthly membership with any of the services mentioned above.  Consider factors like what specific features are you getting if you pay, how much do you value those features, and how much of a deal breaker are the cons of each app. From there you can make a better decision and ultimately pick the best music app for your lifestyle.