Category Archives: Apps

Shine: the self-care app that teaches you to ‘hustle more mindfully’

Leaving your scepticism at the door, this digital wellness startup can feel like a personal therapist

For all the things that the millennial generation struggle with (buying a house, cultivating a career, monogamy), self-care seems to be one area where they flourish. So much so that it is said to be a multibillion-dollar industry, and whatever your particular strand of self-care needs, Shine may be the app you have been waiting for. Along with recently landing $5m (£3.5m) of investment, the startup has picked up more than two million users in two years, with people tuning in for affirmations, meditations and salutations.

Its primary focus is a chatbot that dishes out life advice in text messages and then offers guided audio therapies and blog content, depending on your needs. The app has been used in 189 countries, despite the fact that it is only formatted in English. As a millennial snowflake, I tried it for a week to see how I would fare: would it help me “thrive”, as it claimed?

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Source: gadt

Russia blocks millions of IP addresses in battle against Telegram app

Edward Snowden voices support for founder as authorities try to shut down messaging service

Russia’s internet watchdog has blocked an estimated 16m IP addresses in a massive operation against the banned Telegram messaging app that could set a new precedent for Russian online censorship.

Related: Moscow court bans Telegram messaging app

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Source: gadt

Facebook logs texts and calls, users find as they delete accounts

Leaving the social network after Cambridge Analytica scandal, users discover extent of data held

As users continue to delete their Facebook accounts in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, a number are discovering that the social network holds far more data about them than they expected, including complete logs of incoming and outgoing calls and SMS messages.

The #deletefacebook movement took off after the revelations that Facebook had shared with a Cambridge psychologist the personal information of 50 million users, without their explicit consent, which later ended up in the hands of the election consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

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Source: gadt

Meet the tech evangelist who now fears for our mental health

Belinda Parmar was a passionate advocate of the digital revolution – but has started keeping her family’s smartphones and laptops locked away to protect her loved ones. Is she right to be so worried?

In Belinda Parmar’s bedroom there is a wardrobe, and inside that wardrobe there is a safe. Inside that safe is not jewellery or cash or personal documents, but devices: mobile phones, a laptop, an iPod, chargers and remote controls. Seven years ago, Parmar was the high priestess of tech empowerment. Founder of the consultancy Lady Geek, she saw it as her mission both to make tech work better for girls and women and to get more girls and women working for tech. Now she wants to talk about the damage it can cause to our mental health, to family life and to children, including her son Jedd, 11, and daughter Rocca, 10.

Parmar made her living and lived her life through these devices, so what happened to make her lock them up? Why did this tech evangelist lose her faith?

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Source: gadt

My May-Thatcher deepfake won't fool you but its tech may change the world

Yes, my AI face-swap attempts might show how hard it is to make a deepfake – but it’s getting easier every day

MPs from the House of Commons inquiry into fake news were warned last week of a new AI technology that is about to change the world, and not for the better.

“We’re rapidly moving into an era where the Russians, or any other adversary, can create our public figures saying or doing things that are disgraceful or highly corrosive to public trust,” Edward Lucas, the senior vice president of the Centre for European Policy Analysis told MPs. “And we’re not remotely ready for this.”

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Source: gadt

When death pings: Chips with Everything podcast

Would you download an app that sends you a reminder five times a day that you’re going to die? Some people are doing exactly that. This week, Jordan Erica Webber attempts to figure out why we need this kind of app, and why we’re so dependent on apps in general in our day-to-day lives

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It seems as if nowadays we think there is no problem in the world that can’t be fixed with an app. According to Apple, from the launch of the App Store in July 2008 up to June 2017, we’ve downloaded 180bn apps. These range from games to keep your mind active on the morning commute to more niche and bizarre apps.

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Source: gadt

Has dopamine got us hooked on tech?

Silicon Valley is keen to exploit the brain chemical credited with keeping us tapping on apps and social media

In an unprecedented attack of candour, Sean Parker, the 38-year-old founding president of Facebook, recently admitted that the social network was founded not to unite us, but to distract us. “The thought process was: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’” he said at an event in Philadelphia in November. To achieve this goal, Facebook’s architects exploited a “vulnerability in human psychology”, explained Parker, who resigned from the company in 2005. Whenever someone likes or comments on a post or photograph, he said, “we… give you a little dopamine hit”. Facebook is an empire of empires, then, built upon a molecule.

Dopamine, discovered in 1957, is one of 20 or so major neurotransmitters, a fleet of chemicals that, like bicycle couriers weaving through traffic, carry urgent messages between neurons, nerves and other cells in the body. These neurotransmitters ensure our hearts keep beating, our lungs keep breathing and, in dopamine’s case, that we know to get a glass of water when we feel thirsty, or attempt to procreate so that our genes may survive our death.

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Source: gadt

Snapchat redesign is here to stay despite 1.2m signature petition against it

Users rebel against social media app’s new features while celebrities including Kylie Jenner dump platform as it tries to appeal to new users

Snapchat has said its redesign is here to stay, in spite of a petition from more than 1.2 million users begging the company to reconsider and celebrities such as Kylie Jenner abandoning the platform.

“We completely understand the new Snapchat has felt uncomfortable for many,” the company said in response to the petition. However, it added, “this new foundation is just the beginning and we will always listen closely to find new ways to make the service better for everyone”.

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Source: gadt

RaceRunner: can an old-school runner learn to love the smartphone app?

The app offers to ‘gamify running’ by pairing runners to race each other wherever they are in the world. A self-confessed sceptic gives it a go

OK, I’m biased, I won’t lie. I really wasn’t expecting to like RaceRunner. It’s everything I’m not keen on: it’s smartphone-centric, it involves teaming up with unknown “buddies” and it treats the notion of solitude (“Never run alone again”) as some kind of malady.

Here’s the two-line pitch: “We have gamified running, and have made it more stimulating and engaging. How? We pair users up against each other, and through the app they run virtual races in real time, anywhere in the world.”

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Source: gad