apps

Today we review something you probably already use: Gmail, but in a specific context. Let me explain.

I have active Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook accounts as well as three IMAP accounts from my start-ups. If you’re an entrepreneur, you probably have a similar set-up. I used Outlook to manage all these inboxes.

The problem was that spam became uncontrollable, specifically for my three IMAP accounts and for Yahoo. I tried putting spam assassins on the server level; local filters on the local level; all for naught. I continued to get abused by Viagra pills, Nigerian despots, lonely women and all the other clever variations spammers use. It was overwhelming.

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Windows Phone users often look to iOS and Android owners with envy when this or that app isn’t yet available for Microsoft’s platform. How often does the reverse happen, when iOS and Android users wish there’s something on Windows Phone that’s not available on their own?

Office Lens is a new app from Microsoft that I wish was on Android and iOS. Or the Windows app store  where I can use it for my Surface Pro 3.

Office Lens is a cool app where you snap a photo of something, and the app then automatically converts it into an editable Office document. How amazing is that right?

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I’ve only recently discovered this, but it’s already one of my most favorite things on the phone: it’s the Freakonomics Radio podcast and it’s awesome.

The podcast is by the same group behind the Freakonomics book, and the show is in the same vein. It tries to answer questions like “Why do restaurants give free bread?” and “Are people who tithe to church happier?” with data, research, economic theory and guests who specialize in the subject.

The show is produced — it’s not a bunch of guys riffing off their thoughts — and it’s not only educational, it’s downright entertaining. I can’t recommend it enough.

I’ve tried podcasts before and never found them compelling enough to make part of my routine. Freakonomics is the first.

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The creator behind the enormous hit Flappy Bird recently released its spiritual successor, Swing Copters. So how’s it doing? Apparently, very well on iOS, currently ranking #2 overall on the US app store. Surprisingly, it’s not faring as well on Android, at #299 overall and actually a decline from a peak of #176 on the US Google play store.

Is this another sign iPhone users are more clued in? Or are there simply better alternatives on the Google play store? Given the enormous attention Flappy Bird and the mainstream press coverage Swing Copters both received, I would guess the former.

So is the game any good? Swing Copters retains a lot of Flappy Bird’s charm, the only question is whether you still find a game like Flappy Bird charming.

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A couple days ago, we referenced a comScore study on mobile apps. Since then, more articles about its findings are surfacing. Quartz has an overview of the top 25 most used apps by US consumers. Highlights:

  • Facebook is unsurprisingly the #1 most used app
  • Pandora is surprisingly #5…no Spotify
  • Google is the top mobile app publisher
  • Facebook Messenger is the top messaging app, ahead of Snapchat, Skype and Kik…no Whatsapp, no Google Hangouts
  • No games made the overall top 25

The study also breaks down popularity by age segment, which The Atlantic graciously provided. Highlights:

  • Facebook, Youtube and Pandora are universally popular
  • The younger, the more popular is Instagram
  • Older folk use Facebook Messenger more than Snapchat or Kik
  • Email didn’t make the top 10 for 18-24 year olds

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Facebook is in the press lately because the company is forcing users to communicate with friends through a separate Messenger app instead of the main Facebook app. The former is #1 on the app store but people are rebelling by slamming it with 1-star reviews. Privacy is also a common rallying cry, the accusation being that the app is too aggressive with permissions.

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Nobody likes to be forced to do anything, so it’s not surprising to see people react negatively. Many are still wary about online privacy, even as it is an increasingly illusory concept.

We think those knee jerk reactions are overblown. Facebook Messenger is a decent product and it’s no more aggressive in its privacy policies as other messaging apps.

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I purchased the Chromecast eons ago, partly out of curiosity and partly because the price was low enough to be an impulse buy.  I haven’t used it much as my PC is directly connected to my big screen TV so the Chromecast’s raison d’etre doesn’t apply in my case.

Recently, I discovered a killer app for the Chromecast – all you hardcore people probably know about this already; I was late to the party because of the iPhone 5S – and it changes everything for the dongle.

It’s called Popcorn Time for Android.

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