Last month was pretty much full of exciting apps and VR! We looked at the following: an app to keep track of your mileage so that you always know what to claim, a power thesaurus that ensures you are never lost for words, a sat nav reflector and exciting news from Microsoft in the world of VR!
MileIQ is an app that can be downloaded to your smartphone. The purpose of the app is to track your mileage so that you can have a complete record of all your tax deductible and reimbursable mileage. The way this works is that the app runs in the background as your drive with smart drive detection. You can add your vehicles, locations and purposes so that it is tailored to you. An accurate record of your mileage is stored securely. The in-app reports give you snapshots of information, however you also will have access to a full web-based dashboard where you can see a full breakdown. Another feature of the app is that you can classify your drive. You swipe left on the screen to define that the drive is a personal one and then you swipe right on the screen to define that the drive is for business purposes. You can download this app form the App Store and Google Play today for free.
If you are a writer then you it’s likely you already know about this tool. Power Thesaurus is a website where you can type in a word and you will receive a set of results. You can choose between Synonyms, Antonyms, Broader terms, Narrower terms and Related terms. These will then be ranked in order of popularity. An example would be searching the term ‘Happy’ you then will see a list of 1.5K synonyms with the top rated being ‘Joyful’. You can also now get Google Chrome extension for Power Thesaurus. You will get a button on your toolbar that allows you to search and view synonyms, antonyms etc. You can also select a word and right-click it to open Power Thesaurus.
One of our team members recently discovered something called Hudway Glass. It is a mount with a little glass screen that flips up in front of your windscreen. You then lay your phone on the mount and the reflection from your phone will show on the glass screen. For this to work you will need to download the two Hudway apps. You have an app that will show your speed and another app that acts just like a sat nav . This will work with any phone and will work in day and night. The great thing about this rather than just using your phone as your sat nav, you get a 20% larger screen reflected, making it a lot easier to see. The see-through glass screen does not alter your view so you can always have your eyes on all parts of the road.
Microsoft have recently announced that they will be soon releasing their new set of motion controllers that can be bought as a bundle with the Microsoft VR headset. These should be available to purchase as a bundle by the end of this year with prices starting at $400. The reference design features ‘inside-out tracking’. This means that there will be no need for external sensors unlike the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. The sensors for the controllers will be within the headset. There is LED lights at one end of the controllers for tracking as well as a round track pad, menu button and analog stick. On the body of the controller is a side grip trigger and a Windows button. At only 350g in weight, they are one of the lightest headsets in comparison to the top of the range ones right now.
Our pick of last months top gadgets and apps includes Microsoft Office 365 Home edition, a website that is a virtual boot sale and an app that can help you save battery on your phone!
Microsoft Office 365 Home is a subscription plan for the whole family. You get fully installed versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook. These can be installed on up to 5 Pc’s or 5 Macs. You can also download the apps on 5 tablets and 5 mobile phones. Also included in this subscription is a free 1TB of cloud storage. If you purchase this on Amazon now you can be looking to pay £55 for a year subscription, which is a great price! If you want to try it out first, you can get a 1 month free trial here.
Shpock is an app that is essentially an online boot sale. Shpock is actually short for “Shop in your Pocket”. It works a bit like eBay, however it is slightly easier and and quicker to use. You can create a listing for a product you would like to sell, add an image, title, description, price and location and then your listing is instantly uploaded. Potential buyers can ask you questions and send private payments very easily. You can also share your listing to social media with integrated social buttons. Shpock is available online or alternatively, you can download the app on any Android device, iPhone or iPad.
If you find your phone constantly running out of battery then this is probably the app for you. Battery Doctor, like a real doctor aims to extend the life of something. It is essentially an app with a dashboard that shows you how much battery you have left. However it does a little bit more than just this. You are able to see how much time, right down to the minutes of battery life you have. You can see which apps are using up the most battery in the background and receive many tips on ways you can boost your battery life. You are also provided with the exact amount of time that your phone will take to charge. All these helpful tips and tricks will enable your phone battery life to last just that bit logger. This free app can be downloaded onto your iPhone or Android device.
Our pick of this month’s best gadgets includes the latest from Microsoft, Amazon and more. Our team has taken a look at what new developments have taken their fancy throughout this past month, read on to find out more!
So, you may have seen the Microsoft event the other day which showcased their updated and brand new products. The product that really caught the eye of our team was the Microsoft Surface Studio. The Surface Studio turns your desk into a studio. The Surface Studio has been designed for the creative process. With the thinnest monitor ever at 12.5mm, 10 point multi-touch and 28″ PixelSense display, you really do get the highest of the range. With a smarter display, you can rest your hand on the screen as you write! There are over a billion different colours. 32GB of RAM, 270W of integrated computer power and an Quad-Core Intel i7 Processor brings the Surface Studio to life.
The Surface Studio has a zero-gravity hinge that will move the display effortlessly and can be done with one hand. This enables the computer to turn from a desktop computer into a studio computer. The Surface pen which goes hand-in-hand with the Surface Studio, now has real-time writing so it feels just like pen to paper. This new updated surface pen will also work with the Surface Book and Surface Pros. A new tool that Microsoft have released alongside the Surface Studio is the Surface Dial. The Dial will sit on the screen and once pressed will display a radial menu of tools, supporting your workflow. The Surface Studio really is very impressive. It is available for pre-order now with prices starting at £2,999.
The Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker and it is controllable by your own voice. This is done through a connection to the Alexa Voice Service. You are able to play music, provide the news, sports scores, information and much more. If you are an Amazon Prime member you will even be able to ask the Alexa Voice Service to order products. The Echo has a total of seven microphones and has a perfectly tuned speaker which enables it to fill a room with a full 360 degree immersive sound. The Amazon Echo also has beam-forming technology which means it can hear your voice in noisy environments and from across the room.
The Amazon Echo will provide hands-free control for Amazon Music, Spotify, Prime Music, TuneIn and of course you can stream via a tablet, iTunes, YouTube etc. When you want to use Echo you should awake it with the word ‘Alexa’ – this will make the Echo light up and respond to you. The Alexa Voice Service is updated straight through the cloud and it is always learning in order to add new functionality and skills. For instance, Alexa can order a takeaway from JustEat, order a ride from Uber, check train times from the National Rail and so much more. This can be done through the Alexa app.
The Amazon Echo seems to be getting better and better! It can even control your smart home. You can switch the lights on and off, change the temperature in the room via the thermostat, turn the TV off and the same for other switches. It is priced at £149.99 and as a high-end speaker and an assistant – that’s not bad at all!
Headspace is an app that is your own personal trainer for your mind. It focus primarily on meditation, and although meditation may not be for everyone, they have plenty of topics for everyone. You will find topics on how to quit smoking, how to pass your driving test and how to reduce stress. Meditation has been shown to have a myriad of benefits and this is what Headspaces promotes. Meditation is said to make you focus, increase your creativity, relieve anxiety and lessen your stress.
You can sign up for free for the 10 day trial. This is 10 days worth of 10 minute medication sessions. You get progress stats, a mobile app and a buddy feature included. You can then choose to follow on from this to unlock more topics. This is an app for iOS and Andorid.
Although this is not new, it is very popular! The Amazon Fire Stick connects your HDTV to online entertainment. You can enjoy this Amazon Fire Stick whether you are a Prime member or not. The Fire Stick combines all your favourite subscriptions and streaming services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Video, Music, Photos, Games and much more. If you are a Prime member, you can gain access to Prime Video which includes thousands of videos and TV episodes at no additional cost.
If you download the Amazon FireTV app, you will be able to speak into in order to control your TV. For example if you say ‘Forest Gump’ into the app, Fire Stick will find this film for you. Another great benefit of the Amazon Fire Stick is that it is portable. If you are changing rooms in the house, going to or from University or out in a different city for work – you can watch your favourite TV instantly. Along with all of this you get cinematic surround sound, a dual-core processor enabling it to be very fast and an introductory credit of £2.00 to spend on movies in the Amazon Video Store. You can purchase the Amazon Fire TV Stick for £33.20.
Did you know that October is Cyber Security Month? European Cyber Security Month (ECSM) is a European campaign that aims to raise awareness of cyber security. This takes place every October. It provides up to date data security information and this is done through best practices and education.
Cyber-crime has grown at a tremendous rate, and is now larger than any other crime. As a small to medium size business, you may be under a higher risk of being targeted. This is because your data will be easier to access as opposed to larger, well-known companies. However, any company of any size could come under threat. So, we are going to look at the best practices of cyber security and how you can use it in your business or your own personal devices, to ensure the highest level of protection.
Your first best practice should be to ensure that all of your passwords are secure and cannot be breached easily. You should use a different password for each website. If you want to know the real risk of reusing passwords, here is an in-depth article which explains the dangers. Use a strong mix of numbers and letters within your password. You can create passwords easily with a password generator. To keep track of all your passwords, you should download a password manager.
Along with a secure password, you should use 2-factor authentication where possible. This is a second method of confirming you are you when logging in. This could be done through a code that is sent to your mobile, this is then entered on the website.
You should always be careful when clicking on any e-mail attachments. If it looks suspicious or unexpected, don’t click. Take OpenDNS’s phishing quiz to see if you can tell the difference between a fake or a real email.
You should update all of your apps and programs such as Java, PDF, Flash etc. as well as your operating system, when notified too. However, do read all of the notes of these updates carefully and do not update anything that may look suspicious to you.
When downloading apps onto your phone, be careful of all the permissions that the app is requesting. For example, a weather app should not be requesting permission for your photos. Following on from this you should visit your privacy settings within your mobile and social media to ensure you are not over allowing access to your personal information.
When you’re either downloading from a website or purchasing something which requires your card or personal details, make sure this is a secure website. The way to do this is to ensure that at the beginning of the URL it has ‘https://’ rather than ‘http://’. You may also see a small padlock icon and/or the URL bar may be green. Take a look at Coretek’s website below to see what a safe URL looks like.
You should make sure that you download an anti-virus solution. There are many to choose from and if you cannot afford to buy a license, you can find plenty of free ones (although these are likely to not be as good as a paid service). Alongside your traditional anti-virus solution, you should also run a dedicated anti-malware. This adds more layers of security.
You should back up all of your devices; phone, laptops, desktop computers etc. The reasoning for this is in case of cyber-crime on your devices, you will have backups of everything and will be able to retrieve all your files.
In the case of cyber security within your company, you should educate your employees. They should know how to keep their company cyber-crime free. One way to do this could be to set up a list of your cyber security policies and have this up around your offices. Or hold meetings and workshops to remind and teach these to your employees.
This month has been full of Drones, Virtual Reality and Design. Our team has taken a look at what new developments have taken their fancy throughout this past month, read on to find out more!
Drones are always an exciting thing within the tech world. But this DJI Mavic seems to come out just on top. The DJI Mavic is a small drone that turns the sky into a creative canvas. Although this drone is small, it is very powerful. It can help you capture every aerial moment that you wish. The reason as to why the DJI Mavic is one of the most highly rated drone sis because of its compact size that hides a high degree of complexity and due to its 24 high-performance computing cores. Along with all this you will also get a 4K camera, 5 vision sensors and new transmission system with a 7km range. The DJI Mavic drone has so many exciting features, but to name a few:
So, as you can see there are so many incredible features within the DJI Mavic and its no wonder that this is one of our top tech developments this month!
This app is favoured due to its ability to turn anyone into an artist! Prisma will transform any of your images into a work of art. This is done through the style of famous artists, some of these being Picasso and Munk. With more than 30 styles available, you are sure to get some mind-blowing results. It is very easy to convert your images to a piece of artwork. You simply choose which filter you would like, and you’re done. However, you can also do some extra things such as change the style and filter strength and provide ‘cool colour’ for the image. This app is downloadable on any Apple device. if you want to download it on an android you need to ensure that it is above 4.0+ version of Android. Download this app and see why we think it’s so great!
Have you ever been lead in bed browsing on your laptop and wondering why you still aren’t tired? Well, this could be caused by something called blue light. Blue light tricks our brain into thinking its still the middle of the day, this makes it harder to fall asleep. This program called F.lux is essentially going to help you sleep. F.lux makes the colour of your computer screen adapt to the time of the day. It will become warmer at night and light sunlight throughout the day. F.lux will make your computer screen look like the room you are in. So when the sun sets, it will make your computer look like your indoor lights. You can even tell f.lux what kind of lighting you have in your house and whereabouts you live. From then on f.lux will do the work for you, automatically.
So if you cannot sleep at night, try downloading f.lux and see if that helps!
I’m sure by now you have heard of Virtual Reality. Well, this is the next step within the VR world – a VR Educational platform! This educational platform enables you to become a better communicator through a series of interactive VR lessons. Included in this platform is real-time lectures who are run by top coaches. You also get the ability to practise solo. Take part is group lessons and educational meet ups. You create your own avatar and this will represent you within the virtual classrooms. The provided environments in this VR platform are designed for you to work on your speech, work on group projects or meet up with friends. All this within 20 different environments.
There are 8 targeted lessons within this first ever educational VR course. These lessons are designed to give the users the tools they need to succeed when speaking within a group of people. Learn confidence and presentation, different types of speech and tips on organisation. The course spans over 3 weeks with 3 lessons, a 15-minute lecture and 10 minutes of group work a week. There is also a version for use within an organisation. You can get Speech Centre at the Gear Store for Oculus or visit their website to find out more!
We will be back the same time next month with more tech developments for you! In the meantime, follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to see what’s new!
Office Lens was released in April of last year. It is a fantastic app that can turn your phone into a portable scanner!
The way that Office Lens works is very clever. You simply take images of your notes, a whiteboard, a receipt, business cards and more. These pictures can be taken at different angles, Office Lens will still be able to grab all the information. Office Lens recognises the corners of the image and will then enhance and crop the image, then it will clean it up. This enables you to read these notes with ease.
The really great thing about Office Lens, is that you can convert these physical documents into Word Documents, PowerPoint Presentations and PDF’s! So you are able to continuously work on these scans. You can even upload your scans to OneNote or OneDrive. If you scan a business card the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) will create a contact in your phone and will automatically fill out the name, number, email address and address fields.
Customers love this app with 5* reviews on the app store!
Following on from our successful event at Microsoft HQ, we visited Cowplain School so they could receive their prize from being the runners up on the day!
The theme for the Microsoft event was ‘Office 365 in Education’, so we decided to develop and expand on this topic in order to enhance the students knowledge on what really is Office 365.
The day consisted of two 2 hour sessions with the year 7 pupils at Cowplain School. We begun the day with a presentation that outlined what Office 365 is and how to sign up. We then touched on each of the Office 365 apps and how they can be used in education. The last app of the presentation was Sway, this is wen we introduced the days activity. The pupils were tasked with creating a Sway on their school, to be showcased at the upcoming open evening for new potential year 7 students.
The students separated off into 3 IT suites and begun the activity. The students currently have experience with Google Drive but wanted to learn more about Office 365 in order to begin using it at home and at school. So this was a totally new experience for all of the students. What followed was an array of collaborative, exciting sways that outlined why they enjoy their school. Throughout this activity we took into account how the students were working and how they were using the Office 365 app.
We gathered back in the gym at the end of each session to have a roundup of the days activities. We then announced a group from each class who really impressed us with their work. Each group was awarded with an Amazon voucher to use at their pleasure.
This day enabled us to teach many students about the wonders of Office 365 and how each of the apps can help within their education. It also meant the students were able develop within an app they had never even heard of before! Overall, a successful day!
Windows 10 is the newest operating system to come from Microsoft. Windows 10 has been rolled out as a free download and is available to all those who currently use Windows 7, 8.0 and 8.1. To learn more about Windows 10 and its newest features take a look here.
Today, we want to look at how to utilise Windows 10 to its fullest advantage through the very best Windows 10 apps. Here are some of Windows 10 very best free apps.
This app has been optimised for touch devices within the update of windows 10. With Dropbox, you can take your videos, photos and documents anywhere you would like on any device. With Dropbox you have 2GB of free space on registration. Download Dropbox for Windows 10. Also, find out how to sync DropBox in Windows 10.
Fresh Paint is a free app that enables you to create high quality paintings. A multitude of tools are available on the app such as pencils, pens, paints etc. You can even blend and mix different coloured paints in order to create your desired colour. This app is ideal for a touch screen device with a stylus. You can choose a quick dry option and the paint will be dried quickly and be ready to upload and share. Download Fresh paint for Windows 10.
OneNote is your digital notebook. You can create notes, ideas, lesson plans and more. You can use One Note as your personal organiser. OneNote can also be used for teamwork as you are able to share your notebooks with colleagues/friends/family. You can edit notes together. All noted are automatically saved. Download One Note for Windows 10.
With Adobe Photoshop Express, you can have on-the-go editing. Download this app on your windows tablets and phones. You have access to basic editing tools such as remove red eye, flip image, crop, colour management etc. Additional editing packs are available if you sign in with an Adobe ID. Download Adobe Photoshop Express on Windows 10 and take your images to the next level.
Network Speed Test measures your network connectivity, network delay, download speed and upload speed. This app will also tell you which activities you may be able to once it knows how strong your connectivity is. These activities include things such as streaming videos or video calls. You also can see any of your performance history. To start analysing your Network Speed connectivity download Network Speed Test for Windows 10.
Wunderlist is the ideas to-do list app. You can make notes and lists on anything from a planned holiday to a grocery list. You can access this app from any of your devices. You can share your lists with your colleagues, family and friends. Other features include being able to attach PDFs and presentations along with setting reminders and categorising lists into folders. Organise your workload by downloading Wunderlist for free on Windows 10.
VLC is a media player that will play most multimedia files as well as network streaming protocols, discs and devices. VLC also supports subtitles, multi-track audio and speed control. VLC is capabale of being used without having to install any addictions codecs. Stream your favourite films by downloading VLC for Windows 10.
O2 and the NSPCC have joined together to create something magnificent. They have launched an app that has been made for parents to keep their children safe online.
It is very difficult to keep up to date on all the new social media networks and apps that your children are using. That is why NSPCC and O2 have put together a guide for parents on the latest social networking apps.
Net Aware is a guide for the social network’s that your children may be using. NSPCC and O2 worked with over 500 parents and 1,725 young people in order to review which social network sites were being used by children. The Net Aware guide has been specified for parents of children aged 8-12 years.
Each social media app that has been reviewed has its own individual guide. The guide consists of multiple sections on what parents need to know about these social apps. Included in the guide is what people are saying about each social media app, what the correct age is and whether the content is suitable for the age range of 8-12 years. Each guide also has some advice on how to approach your child to talk about these issues surrounding social media.
Net Aware was originally launched in January of 2015 and has now had a re-launch in order to include the latest social apps! Coming soon will be the Net Aware App which will be available to download from Google Play or iTunes.
Take a look at the guide here – http://www.net-aware.org.uk/
We have previously looked at the best apps for on an iPad, now let’s look at the very best Windows apps!
Duolingo – Learn a multitude of languages through Duolingo. Bite-sized lessons which award you for answering correctly and will take away lives for answering incorrectly, along with daily goals. Some of the languages include French, Spanish, Italian, English and many more. Duolingo has been named ‘PC Magazine’s Editor’s choice for Language Learning’. – FREE
Free Books – This app consists of many, many books. The app is free to download with 4,727 books. Books includes favourites such as Alice in Wonderland, Shakespeare and many more classics. – FREE
Fresh Paint – Easily turn your photos into amazing paintings. You are able to mix colours, work with different textures and mediums such as watercolours, oils and more. Import your images and create your own masterpieces. This app is particularly good on the Surface Pro. Receive one pack for free, then add additional packs for an extra cost. – FREE
LearnEnglish Grammar – Improve your English grammar through activities that ‘help you learn and understand the core elements of English’. Choose from four levels to enhance your abilities. There are over 1000 questions per level. You get 3 sample packs to begin with, then you purchase the following packs.
Lets Spell – Practice your spelling! The words range from 3 to 6 letters in length and you have 5 difficulty levels to choose from. When a word is spelt correctly, you are rewarded with 3 free coins which are used to purchase gifts at the ‘prize room’. – FREE
Math Tutor Pro – This is an app that explores basic math operations. It is designed to help students enhance their fluency in Maths through simple yet effective questions. They will be tested on addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, shapes and much more. There are different levels which the students will progress towards. –FREE
Shared Whiteboard – Project your whiteboard to computers anywhere. Join the shared whiteboard session through a QR Code. This app is great for sharing the lesson with the class. It also automatically saves all of your work for you. A great collaborative tool for in the classroom. – FREE
3D Brain – This 3D brain can be rotated to see all angles and parts. It consists of 24 interactive structures and each structure contains information on ‘associated functions, disorders, brain damage, case studies’ and more. – FREE
Why not take a look at the best Windows tablets to use these apps on!