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Love GIF? Try these free applications on your phone.

GIFs make for the funnies and interactive modes of communication in the millennial world. GIFs are now integrated on frequently used messaging apps and keyboards. It’s quite easy to search for GIFs and share them online. However, these in-built features do not let you create Gifs.

If you’re looking for GIF-making apps, then take a look at these. These apps are available for both iOS and Android devices.

Giphy Cam

Giphy Cam comes from the biggest GIF search engine online, GIPHY. This app is available for both iOS and Android platforms. Giphy Cam lets you take videos in looping mode or a continuous one for a long Gif. Giphy Cam comes with loads of stickers and filters to choose from.

These effects are also very millennial-approved and blend well with what’s trending on the internet. In addition to filters and stickers, you can choose among clay faces, accessories, hands, magic wand and overlays. Giphy Cam will surely keep you busy scrolling through multiple editing tools and items.

Download: iOSAndroid

PicsArt Gif & Sticker Maker

This app is available only for iOS users and is my personal favorite. It has a very simple and easy-to-use UI. Gifs Art lets you capture images in burst mode, and set the speed limit for your GIF. There are effects you can apply to your Gif like fade, noir.

You can also add animated stickers and text to your Gifs. Another feature which is pretty interesting in Gifs Art is ‘Masks’. These are something like moving filters which add something like special effects to your Gifs. Apart from saving the file in Gif format, you can also save it as a live image on your iPhone.

Download: iOS

Gif Lab

If you’re looking for a straightforward no-nonsense GIF-making app on App Store, it’s Gif Lab. Here, you can capture images in frames or import one from your smartphone. The only tools for editing available on Gif Lab include stickers and text. Unlike Gifs Art, stickers on Gif Lab are quite simple like a hat, mustache, and glasses. You have options to save the file as Gif or video, and share it on social platforms.

Download: iOS

GIF maker, video to GIF, GIF editor

Among the dozens apps, you’ll find on Play Store with the same one, this one does a decent job at creating Gifs. There are basic editing tools such as trim, adjust, reverse, and more. GIF maker also lets you add filters, frames to your videos. In addition to adding stickers and text, you can also draw on your video and make it in a meme format.

Download: Android

Gif Me! Camera

Gif Me! The Camera is one of the most popular Gif making apps on Play Store with over a million download. Similar to other apps, Gif Me! Camera lets you edit videos by changing the speed, keeping it backward and in loop. You can also delete frames from your GIF video that you don’t require. Additional tools include adding frames, stickers, filters, and text to your GIFs.

Download: Android

Source: This article was published hindustantimes.com By Marcia Sekhose

Published in Others

Your iPhone may be an Apple product, but it can still run your favorite Google and Microsoft apps.

Just because you prefer the curved aesthetics of the iPhone doesn't mean you want to buy entirely into the Apple software ecosystem. After all, Google and Microsoft make iOS apps that are just as good as Apple's defaults. Although some apps require a few extra steps to replace the built-in versions, you can make the switch relatively easily, especially if you already use Google or Microsoft for your email and other cloud services.

Here, we'll guide you through the apps you need for the swap and how to download them. While you can always switch back to the Apple versions, you may find that you don't want to.

Switch to Microsoft

If your computer runs Windows, you own a Surface laptop or tablet, or you simply like Microsoft products, you'll probably enjoy the company's iOS apps. Instead of using the default versions of iPhone's email, cloud storage, and other services, here's how to replace them with Microsoft apps.

Email, calendar, and contacts

Start with your email client: You'll need to download Outlook for iOS. On top of email, it handles your calendars and contacts, and it can work with both Microsoft and non-Microsoft (like, say, Apple) user accounts. To import any emails, calendars, or contacts into the app, tap the menu button on the top left, then the settings button (the cog icon), and choose Add account.

Calls and messaging

Skype for iOS can take care of all your video calling, voice calling, and messaging needs. However, Apple's mobile platform won't allow any app to take over SMS duties, so you're stuck with its Messages app. Still, the newly-revamped Skype app has a clean look and a comprehensive set of features that includes group chats and group video calls. Your only problem might be getting your friends to use it.

Cloud storage

You can also replace Apple's cloud-storage program iCloud with Microsoft's OneDrive. When you install the app for iOS, it will sync files between your phone and any computer, Windows or macOS, that has the OneDrive desktop client installed. OneDrive also backs up all the photos and videos on your phone, although you do have to pay for storage space if you've got a lot of files. Prices start at $2 a month.

AI assistant

As with Messages, you can't completely replace the iPhone's default digital assistant: When you press and hold the Home button, Siri is the AI that will launch. However, you can install Cortana for iOS and launch it manually, then direct all your queries to Microsoft's app instead of Apple's. You can also sync any reminders and notes you've made in Cortana for Windows or Android over to your iPhone.

Office suite

For your work needs, you'll need to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Swap Apple's free Pages, Numbers, and KeyNote apps for, respectively, Microsoft's free WordExcel, and PowerPoint apps.

If you've already created documents in the Apple apps, you'll need to convert them to a format that Microsoft's versions can understand. To do so, open a file, then tap the menu button (three dots on the top right), choose Export, and pick the Microsoft format. You can also choose how to export the file, either sending it via email or saving it to the iPhone's local storage.

Web browser

If you install the Microsoft Edge web browser on your iPhone, you'll be able to sync bookmarks, passwords, browsing history, and more with an Edge browser you use on a Windows PC. Unfortunately, Apple doesn't let any browser oust Safari as the default one on iOS. So when you tap on links in other apps, such as Facebook, they'll automatically open in Safari instead of Edge.

Your iPhone should be fairly well Microsoft-ized by now, but for the finishing touch, install Bing Search and Feed, which acts as a stripped-down web browser. Now that Microsoft Edge is available for iOS, Bing isn't quite as useful (we prefer Edge). But you can still use Microsoft's search engine to look for websites, images, news, and more. The app also includes a basic map-search feature, though Microsoft doesn't offer a dedicated mapping app for iOS.

Switch to Google

If you've decided to take the Google route rather than the Microsoft one, start with its signature feature: the Google search app. In addition to searching the internet and Google Maps, it provides a feed of news and other information that Google curates based on your previous activity, such as your Chrome browsing history. For a more natural, conversational approach to Google search, install the Google Assistant as well.

Email, calendar, and contacts

Next, install Gmail for iOS or Google's other email app, Inbox, which provides more automation and smart features. You can pick up your Gmail activity right where you left off on any of your other devices. Alternatively, connect Gmail to your Apple email address: Tap the menu button (the three lines on the top left), then your username, then Manage accounts, then Add account, and finally choose iCloudfrom the list.

You can also use your Gmail account to log into Google Calendar for iOS. The slick and easy-to-use calendar app is just as good on iPhones as it is on the web and everywhere else. It will, of course, sync all your Google events and appointments, and you can add your Apple calendars as well. To do so, tap the menu button (the three lines on the top left), pick Settings, tap Manage accounts, and turn the iCloudtoggle switch to on.

Calls and messaging

Again, Apple won't let you replace Messages as the default SMS app. But you can still manually use Google apps for the same purposes. Try Allo for text-based messaging, Duo for video calling, and Hangouts for messaging, phone calls, and video chats. While Hangouts remains the most comprehensive option, Google continues to add new features to Allo and Duo, so keep an eye on those apps as well.

Cloud storage

To back up your data, look no further than Google Drive, which will sync all your files with computers, other mobile devices, and your Google cloud locker. Drive also lets you save your Apple contacts to your Google account, even though Google doesn't offer a dedicated app for contacts: Open the menu (three lines on the top left), tap the cog icon, and hit Backup.

For larger files, specifically your iPhone photos and videos, Google Photos makes backing up a breeze. When you first install the app, it'll ask if you want to back up photos and videos. Say yes, and as long as you don't mind that it resizes your files (down to 16 megapixels for images and 1080p for videos), you can store an unlimited number of pictures and clips for free. If you want to keep your files at their original resolution, you can pay Google for extra space in the cloud, which starts at prices of $2 a month.

Office suite

Google has its own office apps for iOS, in the form of DocsSheets, and Slides. They interface seamlessly with the web versions, so you can keep creating and editing from anywhere.

If you've already created documents in the equivalent iOS apps, you may need to reformat them in order to open them with Google's apps. Launch the appropriate Apple app—Pages, Sheets, or Keynote—and then open the file you want to transfer. Next, tap the menu button (three dots on the top right), choose Export, and select the Google format option. Once you've exported the file, the appropriate Google app will be able to open it up.

Web browser

As mentioned previously, you can't completely replace Safari as the default browser on iOS. But you can still download Google Chrome for iOS and launch it manually when you want to explore the internet. Sign into the web browser with your Google account (it should prompt you to do so when you first open the app), and Chrome will carry over all of your bookmarks, passwords, browsing history, and other data from your computer. Even if most links will open in Safari by default, you can at least make sure Gmail links open in Chrome: Open Gmail, choosing Settings from the left-hand menu, then selecting Google apps, followed by Chrome.

Maps

Google offers some types of iOS apps that Microsoft doesn't. For example, you can rely on Google Maps to get from A to B quickly and safely and find places of note nearby. If you use the app online or on an Android device, you know you'll also get features such as live traffic updates and a list of favorite "starred" locations. If you need live directions, try it in full-screen turn-by-turn navigation mode.

Music and video players

Finally, there's Google Play Music and Google Play Movies & TV, which can effectively replace everything that iTunes and Apple Music usually do on an iPhone. They let you stream music, films, and television shows and even download content for offline access. What you can't do is purchase new content right from iOS, so if you're buying or renting something new, you need to pay up on a computer or other device before the content shows up on your iPhone.

Source: This article was published popsci.com By David Nield

Published in How to

Imagine you went to a networking event last night and met a potential business partner. You're all set to send a pleasant follow-up note but realize you've forgotten the one thing you need–their email address.

While you can find most people on various social networks–from professional ones like LinkedIn to personal ones like Facebook–email still reigns supreme as the preferred method of getting in touch. Email's more personal and professional at the same time, and your contact is all-but guaranteed to have an email address, as there are 2.9 billion email addresses in the world.

Contacting people over social media has more hurdles than sending a simple email. You might have to pay to send a LinkedIn message, or the person might not accept Direct Messages on Twitter from strangers. It's worth the trouble to just email instead.

Finding email addresses isn't always easy, though. Most people are protective of their email address, for good reason: We all hate spam. With a little investigative work, though, you can find almost anyone's email address. Here's how.

Start with Quick Email Searches

Google search for email
A Google search might be all you need to find an email

The first place you should look for email addresses is the “About” page of their company’s website. You might find anything from a brief bio to detailed contact info for every team member. Dig around a bit, and you might find email addresses in unexpected places. For instance, on Zapier's About page, you'll find team members' contact information by hovering over their photos.

Personal websites are another great place to check. If you can find a personal blog or landing page for that contact, you'll likely find an email address on their Contact page. At least, it's worth checking.

Google can help out, by finding other personal sites or the email address itself. There’s a chance your prospect's email address is listed somewhere online, so just search for their first and last name along with the word and email perhaps their company name. Google will find anywhere this combination appears.

If you can find your prospect's social media account, check their profile for contact information. Users sometimes list this information on LinkedIn or Twitter, often with a space between their email address and the domain. On Twitter, for example, use the search from operator to find an email address (e.g., email from:dannyaway).

Twitter email search

Alternately, use 3rd party Twitter search app SnapBird. It can search through all of the Tweets from your feed or followers; just enter a keyword such as “email” and the user’s name, and it’ll do the rest.

LinkedIn is also worth exploring for email addresses. It lets you export contacts and their email addresses if they’re available on their profiles, for an easy way to find addresses of anyone you're already connected with. You can also use a tool such as Lusha to find contact information for people on LinkedIn, including their corporate email address, personal email address, and phone number.

Then, there are also several “people search” websites that can be helpful, including SpokeoPeopleSmart, and Pipl. Some sites are free to use (including Pipl), while you'll need a paid subscription to unlock most people search sites' full features.

When all else fails, you can try guessing. Seriously. If you can find the naming convention the company uses perhaps from another employee at that firm (in some cases, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), you can try that format with your prospect's name and wait to see if the email bounces back. Guessing might not be efficient, but it could work.

Try an Email-Finding App

If you’ve completed your web and social media search and still can’t find a trusted email address, it’s time to use a tool designed for this email search. Fortunately, there are lots of apps just for this.

Just enter your prospect’s name along with their company name, and you’ll receive either the app’s best guess or a list of viable options. Here are the best options:

Email Generator

Email Generator

Part of your initial email search may involve entering various name and company domain combinations into Google. This is not only time consuming, but it can be frustrating considering the various combinations that can exist. That’s where Email Generator comes in. It generates over 50 popular email combinations for that name for you in seconds just from their name and company domain.

As an added bonus, Email Generator will also give you potential email variations for popular email services like Gmail and Outlook. If you’re confident that you’ve found the correct email address, consider installing Email Generator’s email tracking software, MailTrack.io, which will let you know when your email recipient opens it.

Price: Free

Mail Tester

Mail Tester

Once you've found a potential email address, use Mail Tester to see if the email address is valid. It can't tell you if that's the real email for the person you want, but it can confirm whether or not that email address exists on that domain name.

If the email address is valid, Mail Tester shows the server info it found. If it’s unable to confirm the accuracy of an email address, it will display a message stating that the company’s server doesn’t allow email verification.

Keep in mind, even if the app can’t confirm whether an email address is accurate, that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with the email address. Sometimes it comes down to whether or not a company’s server will allow Mail Tester to connect to it and provide users with valid information. The only way to be 100% certain is to send an email to the address and see if you receive a bounce-back notification stating that the email address doesn’t exist.

Price: Free

BuzzStream

BuzzStream

BuzzStream is another fantastic app to use to boost your email search. It can find contact information (including social network profiles) for “influencers”, people who are active on social media and blogs. Once you've gotten in touch with an influencer, it will save those messages, and let you share them with your team to easily follow up.

When you need to find email addresses, simply add in the company URL and the app will display both employee email addresses and the company’s Twitter handle. If the app can’t find the email address of a specific person, it will provide you with the about and contact pages of the company as a starting point. Or, use its free email research tool to get auto-generated Google Search links that'll help you find their email address.

Price: Free 14-day trial; from $24/month for one user

Voila Norbert

Voila Norbert

Voila, Norbert is one of the simplest ways to find an email address. Just enter the first and last name of anyone you’re trying to find, along with the company’s domain name. It'll then ping the domain to show any addresses it finds that might match the name, along with reviews from users to show if the address is actually valid or not.

It works surprisingly well for finding company addresses. Keep in mind that some companies strive to keep the email addresses of their employees private, though, so if Voila Norbert isn’t given access it lets you know.

Price: Free for searching up to 50 email addresses; plans from $49/month

Voila, Norbert Zapier integrations coming soon!

Email Hunter

Email Hunter

Email Hunter lets you find email addresses right from its homepage. Just enter the company domain name into the search field, click search, and the app will find all of the publicly available email addresses for that company domain.

It also shows the number of sources found online for each email address, to add to the verification and validity of each one. That makes it an even better bet for finding email addresses that actually work.

Price: Free for searching up to 150 email addresses per month; plans from $49/month

See Email Hunter integrations on Zapier

Conspire

Conspire

Conspire is a little different from the other apps on this list. Rather than solely providing emails, it operates on the “six degrees of separation” theory. Like the game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," where you try to figure out how a person would be connected to Kevin Bacon or some other celebrity, Conspire assumes you might know someone who knows someone who knows your prospective contact.

If you’d like to meet a new potential client through the people you already know, the app will show you the best possible path—based on people in your network—to reach out through. You can then connect with folks just outside of your network even if you haven’t met them by mentioning your mutual contacts.

Conspire uses data from your linked Gmail account to get a sense of your current network. It then scores each relationship to give an idea of how “strong” the connection is, using the To, From, CC, Subject and Date fields of your emails—along with your frequency of communication—to determine connection strength. This data determines how you and your contacts communicate.

Price: Free

Find an Email with a Browser Extension

Another handy way to find email addresses is with a browser extension—many of which work right inside your Gmail inbox. With just a couple of clicks, you can quickly look up an email address without opening a new app or webpage.

Rapportive (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer)

Rapportive gif

Rapportive puts contact info discovery right inside Gmail. It can be used in conjunction with an app such as Email Generator. Simply enter a few email variations into the “Send To” field when composing an email in Gmail. Hover over each email address and Rapportive will show as much profile information as possible.

For example, with a real email, Rapportive can show you the contact’s full name, profile pic, company name and location, and links to websites (both personal and professional) and social networks. That's enough to be confident that you’ve found the right email address. Or, if it doesn't find any info, you'll see a grey block which means you'll need to keep searching for the right address.

And, when you're reading emails, Rapportive will show that same contact info in the right sidebar for a simple way to learn more about your contacts.

Price: Free

Clearbit (Chrome)

Clearbit

Similar to Rapportive, this Chrome extension integrates with Gmail. However, instead of checking variations of an email address, Clearbit quickly finds email addresses from its database, along with other company and personal data. Just enter a company's name, select the correct one, then filter through the contacts it finds there.

Then, when you receive an email, Clearbit can also give you extra info about each email—something extra helpful when trying to remember how you met a contact.

Price: Free for up to 50 searches per month

See Clearbit integrations on Zapier

Datanyze Insider (Chrome and Firefox)

Datanyze Insider can find any email address with just the first and last name of the contact—no need to enter a company domain name.

To use the extension, highlight the contact’s name as it appears online (for example, in LinkedIn or the company’s about page), right click, choose “Datanyze Insider” and click “Find email”. Datanyze Insider will then ping email addresses that are most likely to be valid (based on name and company domain variations) and display the ones that appear to be valid. It also provides a percentage for how confident it is that it found the correct email address.

Price: Free

Ninja Outreach (Chrome)

Ninja Outreach searches a company's website for any mention of a contact's name that you highlight on the web page. If it doesn’t find a match, the extension will check its own database for a match. Ninja Outreach will also give you links to the prospect’s social networks, location address, and more.

Price: Free without signup to search for addresses; register for a Ninja Outreach account to get full features including contact form autofill, web app templates, and enhanced website information

Find That Lead (Chrome)

Find That Lead adds an icon next to people's names on web pages you visit, such as LinkedIn. Click the icon and the resulting pop-up menu will display the person's company name and email address. If the search isn’t successful, the plugin will display the best result it was able to find, along with a percentage score of how certain it is that the email address is accurate. It can also work with a tool such as Rapportive if you need added certainty before sending an email.

Price: Free for up to 10 emails per week; from $15/month for additional searches

LeadFuze (Chrome)

LeadFuze helps you build a relevant contact list. It does the tedious work for you of finding email addresses, social network profiles, and prospect details such as titles and company names for an entire list of contacts. Once you have a list you’re happy with, you can set up targeted emails and subsequent follow-up emails. To be sure you have the correct email addresses, LeadFuze includes reports to see whether your email has been viewed.

Price: Free for up to 20 leads; plans from $150/user/month

Source: This article was published zapier.com By Milveen Eke-Allen

Published in How to

Google has created a new search engine called Poly, which is designed for finding 3D objects to use in apps with virtual and augmented reality capabilities.

If you’re developing for AR and VR, you need 3D objects in your apps— full stop. Now you can build on others’ work with 3D objects discovered in Poly.

Poly is integrated with Google’s Tilt Brush and Blocks tools, and allows for direct uploads of OBJ files.

”Whether you’re creating an intense space walk in VR or a serene garden of AR flowers, you’ll find the ingredients you need in Poly.”

Poly contains thousands of models to discover, which are absolutely free to use. Objects found in Poly can be modified by the end-user, or used as-is.

‘Liking’ an object will allow you to import it into either the Tilt Brush or Blocks tools, where you can then “remix” it and build upon it.

While Poly has been designed for developers, anyone can use it to view 3D objects in their mobile or desktop browser.

The 3D objects can also be downloaded as animated GIFs, which do nothing more than spin in circles.

Another thing you can do with these objects is view them in VR with Cardboard or Daydream View.

One thing Poly cannot do, which perhaps maybe it should, is utilize AR technology to place an object in the room with you.

Maybe that’s something that will be added in the future. AR and VR are still in their infancy, so Poly will likely evolve over time as the technology matures.

Source: This article was published searchenginejournal.com By Matt Southern

Published in Search Engine

Searches for events will now surface a list of activities that include location and date details.

Google announced a new search feature today that will make it easier to find events.

Google app and mobile web searches for events will now surface a listing of activities pulled from Eventbrite, Meetup and other sites across the web.

Google product manager Nishant Ranka writes:

To try it, type in a quick search like, “jazz concerts in Austin,” or “art events this weekend” on your phone. With a single tap, you’ll see at-a-glance details about various options, like the event title, date and time, and location. You can tap “more events” to see additional options. Once you find one that’s up your alley, tap it to find more details or buy tickets directly from the website.

Rolled out today in the US, Google shared the following image highlighting how its latest search feature works:

Event results include filters that let you drill down by dates or look for specific events happening “today,” “tomorrow” or “next week.”

Google provided the following link to its developer guidelines for creators so that they can make sure their event listings show up in within the new search feature: Google Search Events guide.

Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Amy Gesenhues

Published in Search Engine
  • Halide is a new camera app developed by former Twitter and Apple employees.
  • It's super easy to use but adds advanced camera functions.
  • It costs $2.99 and is available for the iPhone now.

Earlier this week, a former Twitter employee and former Apple designer joined forces to release a new camera app called Halide. It's loaded with functions that both advanced and casual photographers will love.

The gist of Halide is simple. It's not about applying filters or anything like that to your photos. Instead, it just provides really easy gesture-based functions that can help you take better pictures.

Halide is $2.99 and is available from iTunes now. Here's a look at what it can do, in case you're a little wary of spending that much on a new app.

This is the main Halide screen you see when you open the app.

CNBC Tech: Halide

Todd Haselton | CNBC


Slide your finger along the focus dial to bring near or far objects out of focus manually.

CNBC Tech: Halide 2

Todd Haselton | CNBC


Tap this small button in the corner to apply a red hue to objects when they're in focus. This is on more advanced cameras, and it works really well here!

CNBC Tech: Halide 3

Todd Haselton | CNBC


Slide your thumb up and down on the screen to adjust the exposure. Slide up to increase it (brighten), or down to decrease the exposure (darken.)

Handout: halide

Halide


There are plenty of other options, too, like the ability to snap raw photos, add your GPS location, overlay the app with a grid for better positioning and more.I don't typically use advanced camera apps because they tend to have too many unnecessary features, but Halide is really easy to use.

Source: This article was published on cnbc.com by Todd Haselton

Published in Others

If you have lots of pages of apps on your iPhone, it can be a pain to move them around. But we have an easy solution.

Rearranging apps on your iPhone and iPad is pretty easy, but moving them across screens can be a little more frustrating. There's an easy trick that solves this: use the dock.

Published in Others

At Google’s developer jamboree, Google I/O, last week the search giant paraded a host of big name case studies and compelling stats to herald its success with two initiatives to make the mobile web better and faster: Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).

Progressive Web Apps are a Google innovation designed to combine the best features of mobile apps and the mobile web: speed, app-like interaction, offline usage, and no need to download anything.

Google spotlighted this relatively new web product at last year’s Google I/O, where the Washington Post showed off a newly-built Progressive Web App to enhance its mobile experience.

Whether companies believe in or plan to adopt Progressive Web Apps, the initiative (along with AMP) has done a fantastic job of highlighting a) the importance of making websites and apps lean and mean so they perform better on mobile and b) how ridiculously bloated, slow and inefficient websites and apps have become.

PWA and AMP are not the only answers to mobile bloat, but being led and backed by Google, they bring the potential for 1) broad adoption, 2) lots of resources, and 3) favorable treatment from Android, Chrome and Google Search.

What’s so great about Progressive Web Apps?

PWAs bring native app-like functions and features to websites. They should (depending on the quality of the build) work on all smart devices, adapting the performance to the ability of the device, browser and connection.

The key features that get people excited about PWAs are:

  • The ability to send push notifications
  • Option to save to the device (home screen and – now – app launcher), so it loads even faster next time
  • Ability to work offline (when there is no internet connection)
  • Make payments. One of the most significant PWA announcements at Google I/O was that PWAs can now integrate with native/web payment apps, to allow one tap payment with the users preferred provider, including Android Pay, Samsung Pay, Alipay and PayPal
  • Closer integration with device functions and native apps.

The margin of what native apps can do compared with a web-based app (N.B. PWAs do not have a monopoly over mobile web apps) is disappearing rapidly.

The last year has seen a remarkable 215 new APIs, allowing web apps to access even more of the native phone features and apps, announced Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, VP, product management at Google, in his Mobile Web State of Union keynote.

He pointed out that you could even build a web-based virtual reality (VR) app (if you wanted to), citing Within and Sketchfab, which showcase creations from developers around the world.

Who ate all the pies?

But the most compelling thing about Progressive Web Apps is their download size, compared with iOS apps and Android apps. Check out the size comparisons in the image below for two case studies featured at Google I/O: Twitter Lite and Ola Cabs (the biggest cab service in India, delivering 1 million rides per day).

  • Size of Twitter’s Android app 23MB+; iOS app 100MB+; Twitter Lite PWA 0.6MB.
  • Size of OLA Cabs Android app 60MB; iOS app 100MB; PWA 0.2MB.

Why does size matter? Performance on the web is all about speed. The smaller the size the quicker the download. Think SUV versus Grand Prix motorbike in rush hour traffic.

Image: Who ate all the pies? Size of Twitter’s Android app 23MB+; iOS app 100MB+; PWA 0.6MB. Size of OLA Cabs Android app 60MB; iOS app 100MB; PWA 0.2MB.

Interestingly, Twitter markets the PWA as Twitter Lite particularly targeted at people in tier two markets where connections may be inferior, data more expensive and smartphones less advanced; while Ola Cabs markets the PWA at second or third tier cites where there are similar issues with connections and smartphones.

This (cleverly) helps to position the PWA as non-competitive to their native apps.

Which companies have launched Progressive Web Apps?

A growing number of big name brands (see image below) have launched PWAs. These include:

  • Travel companies: Expedia, Trivago, Tui, AirFrance, Wego
  • Publishers: Forbes, Infobae, Washington Post, FT, Guardian, Independent, Weather Company
  • E-commerce companies: Fandango, Rakuten, Alibaba, Lancôme, Flipkart
  • Formerly native app-only companies: Lyft, Ola Cabs.

Map shows companies that have launched progressive web apps, including Expedia, Trivago, Tui, AirFrance, Wego, Forbes, Infobae, Washington Post, FT, Guardian, Independent, Weather Company, Fandango, Rakuten, Alibaba, Lancôme, Flipkart, Lyft and Ola Cabs.

At I/O, Google trumpeted the achievements of a number of companies, inviting several to share their experiences with the audiences – only the good stuff, clearly.

1. Faster speeds; higher engagement

m.Forbes.com has seen user engagement double since launch of its PWA in March (according to Google).

For the inside track see this Forbes article. The publisher claims its pages load in 0.8 seconds on a mobile device. The publisher was aiming for a Snapchat or Instagram-like experience with streams of related content along with app-like features such as gesture-based navigation.

In this video case study, embedded below, created for I/O, Forbes claims to have achieved a 43% increase in sessions per user and 20% increase in ad viewability.

{youtube}JmC0xkCMFCE{/youtube}

The Ola Cabs PWA takes 1-3 seconds to load on the first visit – depending on the network, “including low 3G” Dipika Kapadia, head of consumer web products at Ola, told I/O attendees. On subsequent visits it takes less than a second as it only needs to download the real-time information, including cab availability.

Ola achieves this partly due to its size: the app is just 0.5MB of which only 0.2MB is application data. As it downloads it prioritizes essential information, while other assets download in the background.

2. Consumers readily download PWAs to their home screens

When mobile visitors are using the mobile app, they receive a prompt to save it to the home screen, so it loads faster next time. It does this by caching all the static parts of the site, so next time it only needs to fetch what has changed.

Twitter Lite, as Patrick Traughber, product manager atTwitter, told the Google I/O crowd, sees 1 million daily visits from the homepage icon.

Since launch of the Progressive Web App, in April 2017, Twitter has seen a 65% increase in pages per session and 75% increase in tweets.

3. Notifications

The ability to send notifications to mobile users to encourage them back to the app, used to be one of the big advantages of native apps over mobile web. No longer.

Notifying users about recent activity is very important to Twitter, said Traughber. And Twitter is taking full advantage of this capability, sending 10 million push notifications each day.

For the inside track on Twitter’s PWA, see this article.

4. Winning back customers that have deleted your native app

App-only companies face the challenge that users only download and retain a limited number of apps on their smartphone and will uninstall those that aren’t used as regularly as others, thus once deleted, it’s over.

Thus it is an eye-opener that 20% of Ola PWA bookings come from users who have previously uninstalled the native app.

See Google’s case study on Ola’s PWA.

5. PWAs appeal to iOS users

Compared with other mobile browsers such as Chrome, Edge, Opera and Samsung, the default browser on Apple devices, Safari, can be slower when it comes to adopting advancements in mobile web. This means Safari users won’t experience some of the more advanced features of PWAs, yet.

Despite this, brands are seeing improved mobile engagement after launching a PWA. Lancôme Paris has seen session length improve by 53% among iOS users, according to this case study of the Lancôme PWA, cited at Google I/O.

6. Conversions

According to Wego’s video case study, embedded below, created for I/O, the Singapore-based travel service has combined both PWA and AMP to achieve a load time for new users is 1.6 seconds and 1 second for returning customers. This has helped to increase site visits by 26%, reduce bounce rates by 20% and increase conversions by 95%, since launch.

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If you need more impressive stats to make the case for a web app, visit Cloud Four’s new PWA Stats.

Source: This article was published searchenginewatch.com By Andy Favell

Published in Search Engine

Credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty

The Google Play app store holds about 250 Android apps that provide access to virtual private network (VPN) services.

The bad news? Many of these VPN apps could actually be sabotaging your security and privacy. A recent study by U.S. and Australian researchers found that many Android VPN apps were potentially malicious, let third parties spy on "secure" transmissions, tracked users or just plain didn't work.

It might be easy to disregard all VPN apps as too risky. But would that be a fair assessment? A number of free VPN apps are offered by reputable antivirus companies and desktop VPN providers, although most of those have some level of paid service. With that in mind, are free VPN apps worth the potential security risks?

It depends, said Joe Carson, chief security scientist with Thycotic, an information-security provider based in Washington, D.C.

"VPNs are safer than doing nothing," Carson said. But he added that if you are downloading an Android app, you have to do your homework.

That includes investigating the origin of the VPN app — you probably want to skip any from China, Russia or other countries with a dubious security history, Carson said — and sticking with vendors you are familiar with and trust.

Nothing is ever really free

However, Ryan O'Leary, vice president of the Threat Research Center at WhiteHat Security in Santa Clara, California, is more skeptical.

"I don't think VPN apps are secure, especially free ones," O'Leary said. "The lower the cost of the app, the greater the chance they have security problems."

App developers want to make money, he said, but on a VPN app, you can't really be sure how that's happening.

"At best," O'Leary said, "they are using ads to earn income. At worst, they are selling your private information."

"The lower the cost of the app, the greater the chance they have security problems." -- Ryan O'Leary, Threat Research Center at WhiteHat Security

In fact, he said, "free" should be a red flag when it comes to VPN apps. Unscrupulous app developers may utilize users as end points or for extra bandwidth to support other customers.

"It's expensive to run a VPN," O'Leary said. "There's a good chance that someone else is using your connection."

The most serious risk of free VPN apps is that you may lose control of your data. A VPN service is supposed to encrypt your data stream from your device all the way to the service's servers, from where it enters the open internet. But a shady or poorly configured service could compromise your traffic, either by design or by accident, or could even piggyback on your encrypted connection for nefarious purposes.

"Your data could be intercepted or decrypted," said Mat Gangwer, chief technology officer with Rook Security in Indianapolis. "Bad guys could be using your connection for shady activities or to cover their tracks."

How to pick a VPN app

Are free VPN apps worth that risk? The experts agree: No, unless you are confident the free app is extremely trustworthy.

If you can find a paid VPN app, or one that has in-app purchases for higher levels of service, consider that option instead. We recently reviewed several VPN apps and services, and the paid IPVanish ($10 per month or $78 yearly) took the top spot. The runner-up option, Avast Secureline VPN, is also paid at $59.99 per year.

Paid doesn't guarantee secure, but even partially paid apps are often more protective of your data and give more software updates.

Better yet, stick with apps made by well-known desktop VPN service providers or antivirus software makers. All will include in-app purchases, or some other kind of paid subscription, to use the higher tiers of service, but many will give you a certain amount of free VPN usage per month.

"Bad guys could be using your connection for shady activities or to cover their tracks." -- Mat Gangwer, chief technology officer with Rook Security

Reputable partly free VPN services include Avast's SecureLine VPN and Avira's Phantom VPN There's also F-Secure's Freedome VPN; it costs $6 per month to use, but was singled out as being especially trustworthy by the authors of the VPN-app research paper we mentioned earlier.

However, if you still want to use a completely free VPN app, do your research, the experts advised. Investigate the vendor's reputation, and see where it is located. Question the permissions requested by the app – for example, would a VPN app really need permission to access your phone number or text messages? Read user reviews, especially the less-than-stellar ones, to find out which problems and concerns other users had.

"When done correctly, VPNs are a good option," said O'Leary. "But never forget that, in the end, you get what you pay for."

Source: This article was published on tomsguide.com by SUE MARQUETTE POREMBA


Published in Internet Privacy

In the show Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson says that there were more atoms in the tip of your pinkie finger than all the stars in the sky. The number of apps in Google Play hasn't risen quite that high, but it's still an awful lot. More than one mind, let alone one phone, could comprehend. I've spent many hours refining that unmanageable mass of apps to come up with the 100 Best Android apps, but for some that's still too many, so I've whittled the list to the just the most essential.

What's Here

Simply put, this list doesn't have everything. It doesn't even begin to touch the swirling, cosmic majesty and near infinite variety of the Google Play store. What it does cover are the apps that you should install on your Android phone or tablet as soon as it comes out of the box. With these ten apps installed, you should be able to tackle just about anything.

But these ten are just the beginning. Evernote is an enormously versatile tool, but maybe you find that it's not meeting your needs for to-do lists and you want to move to a refined organizational app like Any.do. Or maybe after reading tons of comics in Comixology, you're curious to read the massive backlog of Marvel available with Marvel Unlimited.

This list of apps is a starting point, or a baseline, that I think any Android user should consider. From there, you'll want to customize and fine-tune the list to your own most-essentials apps, of course.

How I Choose Apps

When I'm not divining the 10 best Android apps, I'm usually testing Android security apps. When I'm finished, I typically wipe the phone in preparation for the next review. That means I spend more time with fresh, empty phones than the average Android user. It also means that I have to fill that phone back up with essential apps.

My first thought goes to what apps are necessary to get work done—so I turn to Google Drive and LastPass. I also need to write quick notes and manage my email, and I need a keyboard app that helps me do that, which leads me to SwiftKey.

Next I think about what kinds of apps are popular, and how I can fill those categories. Instagram, for example, is a great app for creating miniature masterpieces out of your cell phone pictures. But there are lots of other apps that provide far more options and opportunities for expression, such as PicsArt Photo Studio. There are also innumerable apps to entertain your ears, but only a few that offer powerful management tools and clever playlists, and that's where Slacker Radio comes in.

What's Missing

First, there are no games. I hear you moan, but 10 slots is simply not enough to even scratch the surface of Android games. There are simply too many of too great a variety. If you want games (and I know you do), you should read our slightly longer guide to the 15 Best Android Games. That'll take care of all your thumb-twiddling, screen-swiping needs.

Second, there are only a few Google apps on here. It's really easy to just default to them since many are, well, default on Android devices. Regarding the Google apps that did make the list, I've carefully balanced their utility against that of competitors in the space to make sure they really are the best. For example, Google Drive doubles as an excellent mobile office suite.

Finally, even though I don't eat or drink anymore, I'm only human, and that means I am weak and fallible. If I've left out a critical tool that you use every day, let me know in the comments below.

This is just the tip of the Android iceberg here at PCMag. You'll find many, many more excellent apps in our 100 Best Android Apps, and we have many more roundups where that came from. Consider the best apps to replace text messaging or everything you need to know about digital comics. We're all about apps, you see. This list will get you started, but our other reviews and roundups can take you much deeper into the galaxy of Android apps.

Comics

Comics
 
Free
Are you tired of schlepping all the way to the comic book store? Heck, is there even a comic book store in your town anymore? Comics, the excellent app from digital comics groundbreakers Comixology, is both storefront and long box. You can browse the seemingly endless lists of titles, and then buy new books with a tap. It's wonderfully easy! Depending on the state of your wallet, it may even be a bit too easy.


Evernote

Evernote
 
Free with premium plans billed monthly
Evernote is your digital multi-tool. It's a great list keeper, note taker, voice recorder, to-do manager, and Web clipper. It's so open and powerful that it can be overwhelming at first, but you'll quickly find smart ways to use it. My favorite feature is optical character recognition (OCR), which makes text in photos searchable. Next time you get handed a business card, just snap a picture.

Be sure to read our organization expert Jill Duffy's advice on how to use Evernote better.


Feedly

Feedly
 
Free
Google Reader was the best thing to happen to the Internet since sliced blogs, but it has passed on to the big Google graveyard in the sky. If reading news and blog posts on your Android is your jam, you need Feedly. It's a versatile platform, but what I like about it is that you can do all your reading in a single app. If you're looking for something a bit more stylish, try the magazine-style Flipboard. And if you're still mourning the end of RSS as we know it, we may be able to help you find a replacement for Google Reader.


Google Drive

Google Drive
 
Free with additional costs for increased storage
Google Drive is a great cloud storage service, but it does double duty as an excellent mobile office suite. With Drive, you can access your important files from anywhere; create new spreadsheet, text, and presentation documents; and collaborate with other people, all from your Android device. It might not replace your desktop office utilities, but it comes darn close.


Inbox by Gmail

Inbox by Gmail

Free
I long ago realized that email is the worst thing on the planet, and have waited patiently for everyone else to get the memo. Thankfully, there's been a renaissance of email and Google Inbox is among the best options for Android. Instead of ignoring messages (as I used to do), Inbox lets you quickly manage your inbox. Its best feature are groups called bundles, which put all your finance, shopping, and low priority mail in their proper places.

Please note that our review is of the iPhone version, which is nearly identical to the Android app.


LastPass

LastPass
 
Free; $12 annually for the Premium version
Everyone knows they should be using a complex, unique password for each and every website and application. Oh, you didn't? Thankfully, there are password managers like LastPass. With a password manager, you let the app generate unique, complex passwords for each site or app that requires one. When you need to log in, LastPass can fill in the correct information, even into other apps. A new feature lets you safely bequeath your passwords to a trusted person in the event of your demise.

Though the app and service are free, using it on more than one type of device costs $12 per year, or $1 per month. Trust me, it's well worth the price of admission.


PicsArt Photo Studio

PicsArt Photo Studio
 
Free
When you think of mobile image editing, you probably think of a certain Facebook-owned property modeled after old timey cameras. I'm talking about Instagram, in case you couldn't tell. But where Instagram ends, PicsArt Photo Studio begins, bringing not just filters but many more powerful tools. And if you're already a fan of Insta, you can share your PicsArt creations there to the envy of all your followers.


Pocket Casts

Pocket Casts
 
$3.99 Podcast fans, rejoice. Your frustrations have been heard and your prayers have been answered. "I bring you good tidings for an, excellent podcast app has been created: Pocket Casts. With this app, you can manage all your favorite podcasts and even sync them between devices. And it was good.


Slacker Radio

Slacker Radio
 
Free with paid, ad-free plans
There are many, many ways to get music onto your phone, but we like Slacker Radio best. This service has a huge library of songs, but it also stands out for its excellent curated playlists and wide variety of streaming content. There's a little bit of something for everyone in here, but check out Spotify if you must have on-demand Led Zeppelin.


SwiftKey Keyboard

SwiftKey Keyboard
 
Free
Are you still tapping your thumbs against the screen like some kind of rube? Get with the times, grandpa, and let the words flow. With SwiftKey, you can drag you thumb or finger from letter to letter on the screen to create words, and predictive text makes shooting off short messages even faster. Since the rise of Google Keyboard and competition from the original gesture keyboard app Swype, SwiftKey has stayed ahead by packing in lots of excellent extras. You'll wonder how you ever got by without it.


Source: This article was published on me.pcmag.com

Published in Others
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