12/20/13 4:00pm

Okay, okay. You don’t care anymore. But, that’s your fault. When Siri first appeared on your phone, she was a delightful sideshow act that you and your friends bullied into responding to dirty jokes. In private, on your couch, you may have tried a few things, asking questions here and there, hoping for thrilling answers. The truth is, Siri isn’t that thrilling, but she can be useful—you just need to know how she works, thinks, feels…

The real question is: Why use Siri at all? The quick answer: Typing on a phone is terrible, terrible! With gloves all the rage this season, it’s time to give Siri a second chance. (more…)

12/13/13 1:30pm
There's so much more to SoundClound than scratch demos from unknown artists. Photo: SoundCloud

There’s so much more to SoundClound than scratch demos from unknown artists. Photo: SoundCloud

SoundCloud sees north of 250 million unique visitors a month. That’s a lot… I think. (After a million, numbers start to lose their meaning for me.) Only a little more than 14 million of those unique visitors come from the U.S. OK, that’s a big number, too, but it should be higher. When I conducted an informal poll consisting of five people–some my closest friends and others smartphone-holding strangers on the street–none used SoundCloud. Here are four reasons you should rectify that right now.

I like music, but I don’t like paying for it.
Sure, Pandora, iTunes Radio, Spotify Radio and Rdio are great, free options for listening to tunes, but SoundCloud allows you to curate your own playlists–a feature you have to pay for from other services. The problem is SoundCloud’s song selection isn’t as deep as the paid version these other services provide, but that’s actually a good thing. At its heart, SoundCloud is a promotional tool, where new artists, weirdoes and more can share their creations with people of the internet.

In your heart, you miss curating your music collection.
In SoundCloud’s case, free doesn’t mean free of hard work. A solid SoundCloud account requires a bunch of clicks, hours wasted reading music reviews and even more time going down various rabbit holes. SoundCloud’s unique music-listening experience requires more than selecting an artist and building a station around them or loading up a shared playlist, but you like music and liking music isn’t passive. (more…)

12/06/13 3:44pm

According to Apple, 74% of iOS devices are now running iOS 7. According to conversations I’ve been eavesdropping on, at least 50% of you haven’t turned off all the superfluous, battery-draining features that came along with the update. So, here’s how to get more battery life out of your new gizmo.

Turn these off now:

last ios7 2Parallax
This feature is not to be confused with the 1974 thriller The Parallax View starring Warren Beatty (Where are you Warren!?). Not only is Parallax draining your battery, it may be, if you’re the kind of person who has to avoid merry-go-rounds, making you sick. The feature, though it makes your phone kind of trippy in the way it brings depth to objects, is utilizing gyroscopes, accelerometers and helicopters to make you “ooh” and “ah.” Truth is most see battery life as a far more important feature. So, you’ll need to make sure “Reduce Motion” is “On” to turn off Parallax.

Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion (more…)

11/22/13 3:00pm
With the introduction of an iPad version of its popular book reader app, Oyster is now more than a companion for commuters. Photo: Oyster

With the introduction of an iPad version of its popular book reader app, Oyster is now more than a companion for commuters. Photo: Oyster

When we rounded up a list of helpful transportation apps earlier this fall, we threw in Oyster as an added bonus. The new app, which gives subscribers access to over 100,000 book titles for a $10 per month subscription fee–like a literary version of Spotify or Netflix–has a clean, simple design that’s easy to navigate, and the ability to exponentially expanded user’s private libraries instantaneously. You can search for books by categories, authors, titles or keywords. There are reader recommendations, and access is unlimited.

Conceptually, I thought it was ingenious at the time, but it came with a major caveat–it was only available for iPhones. The experience of reading on such a small screen only compounded my motion sickness on morning commutes and killed my battery life; this made word that the company was introducing an iPad app late last month even bigger news than the startups initial launch in a lot ways. It positions Oyster less as a travel-companion app and more as a legitimate competitor for other e-book platforms like Amazon’s Kindle series, which until now required the use of an app to access through Apple products. It could potentially make the use of such applications obsolete for Apple users, as the monthly costs associated with Oyster are comparable to buying an e-book every month (and getting 100,000 times more titles to choose from).

There is still no version of the app for Android users, but Oyster is offering everyone a free month’s trial to check it out themselves either online or through its apps, just in time for the holidays.

10/25/13 2:00pm
If you thought Flickr was just for photographers, think again–here's how to work the system to your advantage and save space on your smartphone at the same time. Photo: Flickr

If you thought Flickr was just for photographers, think again–here’s how to work the system to your advantage and save space on your smartphone at the same time. Photo: Flickr

Early adopter or not, you’ve probably had your smartphone for a little while. Chances are you’re going to have it, or something like it, for the foreseeable future, which means pictures are going to start piling up. Flickr, though it may not be as cool as a 3D scanner, is going to be more useful.

If you, like me, are too lazy to back your phone up to a computer, services like iCloud and Dropbox work great as backup plans. I, however, finally went over my free 5 GB of iCloud storage and coughed up $20 a year for an additional 10 GB–It was easy. I was lazy–and now, boy do I feel dumb.

Flickr’s update for iOS 7 now offers auto-uploading—iCloud’s best feature. Take a picture with your iPhone’s camera, and Flickr will upload it to your account automagically—in full resolution. Don’t worry about internet stalkers, uploads are set to private by default. The best part: Flickr provides 1 TB of free storage. For those keeping track, that’s 1,000 GB, and it’ll free up you iCloud storage for important stuff like restoring your phone.

How to set it up:

1. After you download the app and open it up, you’ll need to turn on Auto Upload. Tap the blue and pink dot in the bottom right hand corner and find Auto Upload.

2. Pretty. Now tap “Turn ON Auto Upload.”

3. Flip the switch to green. If you get nervous about data usage, select Wi-Fi Only.

Your photos will thank you.