AVG Android Social Apps

AVG LogoToday’s Android apps from AVG are aimed at social media users rather than performance junkies whose needs were covered yesterday. AVG has two apps in this space, Image Shrink & Share, and Privacy Fix. Very different apps themselves but both are worth a look..

AVG Image Shrink & Share works on the premise that the average smartphone camera takes photographs which are unnecessarily large for social media purposes. Most people can’t be bothered to downsize the photos and risk incurring bandwidth charges by uploading the large photos anyway. Image Shrink & Share solves this problem by resizing photos on the fly before passing them onto the relevant social networking app. The original photo is not affected and stays on your phone or tablet.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you want to share a photo on Facebook. You review the photo in Gallery or Photos as normal. Hit the share icon and choose AVG Image Shrinker instead of the app you would normally use (it’s on the left in the screen shot which is from the new Photos app which has a different layout and background).

AVG Shrink & Share Apps Onward Sharing Apps

Then you are prompted for the final app that you want to use to post the photo, say, Facebook or Google+. Image Shrink & Share resizes the photo based on your default selection and then passes it on to the social media app (or other app) for comment and posting.

You can setup the default size for each application individually in the Settings menu. If you turn an app off, it doesn’t show in the second list presented by Shrink & Share, so it’s a useful way to declutter your sharing screen as well.

Social Media App wpid-Screenshot_2013-11-11-18-53-01.png

In practice, I found that it worked very well and solves the problem very neatly. Images resized correctly and looked good. If I had one suggestion, it would be to have a native resolution option on the resize settings so that photos can be passed through without alteration. I know that it’s not strictly necessary as I can simply choose to share directly to the app, but it makes the process consistent.

Overall, if you post lots of photographs to social media sites, this is a must-have app. Personally I’ve found it handy for uploading images to WordPress as it has a 2 MB limit on photos, so AVG’s tool gets round that problem for me.

Moving on, AVG PrivacyFix is less about sharing and more about controlling your exposure on Facebook and Google+. It’s a complementary app to the PrivacyFix website which covers LinkedIn too, but the app currently only looks at Facebook and Google+. It’s simply a case of giving the app access to your accounts after which PrivacyFix will make some comments and recommendations.

PrivacyFix Start

Here are the recommendations PrivacyFix gave me for Facebook and Google+.

PrivacyFix Facebook PrivacyFix Google+

You can tap through each and PrivacyFix will give you some information on the impact of changing the option and if you wish to proceed, show you what was done. Here’s some info on turning off Search History and then the output from opting out of ad tracking.

PrivacyFix Implications PrivacyFix Ad Tracking

AVG PrivacyFix is another great app. It’s certainly not one that you are going to use everyday, but it’s definitely worth running every month or so to check that your exposure on social media is at an acceptable level. Clearly you can use the PrivacyFix website to cover LinkedIn, but I hope AVG extend the Android app to cover LinkedIn and perhaps others such as Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, etc. I also think that this would be a great tool for parents to check the privacy settings on their children’s accounts and that’s a feature that AVG ought to promote directly within the app and website.

Both Shrink & Share and PrivacyFix are free apps, so go ahead, download them from Google Play and try them out.

AVG Android Performance Apps

AVGAnti-virus outfit AVG have released a suite of small Android apps which aim to improve the performance of your smartphone or tablet. The free apps Cleaner, TuneUp and Uninstaller all help to keep your device ticking over smoothly. Here’s what each app offers.

AVG Memory & Cache Cleaner – The Cleaner apps cleans out all the cruft and detritus that accumulates on your smartphone or tablet in caches, downloads and histories. Overtime, this material can build-up and have a significant impact on functionality. For example, on my tablet the Play Store sometimes gets stuck and can’t upgrade an app until I clear out its cache and this app sorts it out. The app provides plenty of options to clear out certain sets of information while leaving others intact but the best feature is the Auto Clean which lets the user set how often the Cleaner app removes the rubbish. I have mine set to clear out once a week and I’m regularly seeing 100 MB or over being tidied up.

AVG Cleaner

AVG Battery Saver & TuneUp – This app has four distinct parts, Task Killer, Battery Consumption, Data Usage and Storage Usage, which together are less focussed that the other two apps. However, this doesn’t stop them being useful.

  • Task Killer is self-explanatory and kills user-selected tasks and processes. I think tasks are the same as running apps and processes are equivalent to background processes, but this could be clearer. Helpfully the tasks can be ordered by memory use so you can see which apps are hogging the space.
  • Battery Consumption lets the user setup a power saving mode by turning off various radios and other options. When the battery level reaches this level, the power saving mode is entered automatically.
  • Data Usage does what it says, monitoring the data used by the phone and alerting you when it gets to a predefined level. There are quite a few options around setting volume and reset dates but there doesn’t seem to be any discrimination between 3G and Wifi data which would be a useful enhancement.
  • Finally, Storage Usage shows the apps that use the most storage space with the option to uninstall the worst offenders. There’s an overlap here with the Uninstaller app but it’s no big deal.

AVG TuneUp

AVG Uninstaller – The Uninstaller app doesn’t just uninstall apps, though it seems to do this competently enough. What it does do is present different views of apps on the device so that you can make an informed choice as whether to uninstall an app or not. The four views provided are by usage, by data, by battery and by storage. Personally, I find by usage the most useful as it lets you see the apps that you really never use and aren’t going to miss. There’s a weekly reminder feature which reviews the app usage and recommends apps for uninstallation based on lack of use.

The other Uninstaller views could be useful if you are having a problem, but I already know that Ingress is consuming a large percentage of my battery. The storage view is handy too if you are wondering where your memory has gone but that option didn’t throw up too many surprises for me either.

AVG Uninstall

Overall, these are all handy little apps that are worth the free download. If you’ve already got AVG Antivirus, you’ll find that these apps integrate into the Antivirus app so you can launch Cleaner and Uninstaller from within Antivirus. The Battery Saver and TuneUp app’s functionality is already built-in to the Antivirus app so this app is not required if you have AVG Antivirus.

The only irritating aspect of these apps is the advertising. It’s not that I’m against the advertising per se – the apps are free after all – but it’s that the adverts are for apps that I’ve installed already! AVG, please don’t waste the screen real estate for apps I’ve got, and if you were to introduce paid versions, I’d buy them.

All are available to download from the Play Store. Tomorrow, I’ll be looking at two other AVG apps, Privacy Fix and Image Shrink & Share.

Buffer Got Hacked – Kept Users Informed About it

Buffer logoYou may have noticed some of your Facebook Friends, or the people you follow on Twitter, posting things about weight loss recently. Those particular posts and Tweets had a suspicious link attached to them. What happened? Buffer got hacked (and has since fixed the problem).

Buffer is an app that helps users to share things on social media. You can sign in through your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn account (or via email). According to the Buffer website: “Buffer shares your content at the best possible times throughout the day so that your followers and fans see your updates more often.”

Buffer doesn’t have anything to do with weight loss. Even so, somebody hacked Buffer and used it to spam up Facebook and Twitter with links to some type of weight loss thing. I guess the idea of having those tweets shared “at the best possible times throughout the day” was too tempting to resist.

The really interesting thing in this story is how quickly Buffer took action. Joel Gascoigne, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Buffer posted a blog titled: Buffer has been hacked – here is what’s going on. He made it clear that Buffer was aware of the problem and working on it. It clarifies that Buffer passwords were not affected, and that no billing or payment information was affected or exposed.

The team at Buffer spent the day posting continual updates on their Facebook and Twitter page to keep everyone informed. The blog post explained the best steps affected users should take. As things progressed, the blog was updated with more details, including how to login to Buffer again through Twitter and Facebook (after the problem had been corrected).

The post by Joel Gascoigne says that there will be an in-depth post about what the spammers got access to and what Buffer did to fix it. Part of the philosophy at Buffer is to “Default to Transparency”. I do not use Buffer, but am very impressed with how well Buffer kept its users in the know about what was happening. Good job, Buffer!

RebelMouse Launches its iPhone App

RebelMouse LogoIt was only a matter of time. About a month ago, RebelMouse launched its very first app. It was specifically for Android. At the time of the announcement, I suspected that RebelMouse was also working on the creation of an iOS app.

This time, my suspicions were correct. RebelMouse has now released its iPhone app. You can get it at the App Store for free.

The purpose of the app (either for iPhone or Android) is to make it easier for people who use RebelMouse to post stuff to it while they are away from their desktop computers. It gives you a more convenient way to post directly to your RebelMouse while you are out attending an event. The app is not replacing way you currently use RebelMouse. It just gives you more options on how and when to use it.

What can you do with the RebelMouse iPhone app? You can share or repost your favorite tweets, videos and photos. You can use the app to create a beautiful blog post from any photo, link, or page. The app can also be used to help you find interesting content on RebelMouse that was posted by other RebelMouse users in one stream that is easy to view.

Bribe Your Way to a Date?

carrot app logoHaving trouble getting a date? There’s a new dating app called Carrot that has a unique suggestion of something you could try. Bribe someone to go out with you. I’m not making that up. It literally says “Bribe Your Way to a Date” on the Carrot website.

Carrot is a mobile app that was created by Brandon Wade. He’s the founder of the SeekingArrangement.com website (which clearly is designed for people who want to find a “sugar daddy” or “sugar baby”). It appears that Carrot is using a similar concept.

Basically, it works like this. A guy joins Carrot and searches for a woman whom he wants to date. He then becomes the “Briber” (not kidding, it says that in the FAQ). The woman whom he is trying to get the attention of is now called the “Bribee”. The Briber “should pay for the Bribee’s half of the date activities including their own”.

Supposedly, that’s enough incentive for a woman to decide to go on a date with a guy that she doesn’t have any immediate interest in. (Or, so the Carrot website implies). There are five categories that a bribe can be sorted into: Dining, Entertainment, Gifts, Activities, and Popular (whatever that turns out to be).

Personally, the entire concept sounds rather creepy and sad. It reduces dating into little more than a transaction (that has no emotional content connected to it). Are there really that many single people out there who have flat out given up on finding a person who they truly are interested in (or who honestly does like them)?

RebelMouse Launches Its Android App

RebelMouse LogoRebelMouse has officially launched its Android app. They chose to do this after getting feedback from RebelMouse users who wanted one. RebelMouse says it has noticed a lot of logins from mobile devices. It seems that this is where their inspiration to create an app may have come from.

RebelMouse started as a desktop product and it will continue to be accessible through their website on desktop. The app is not a replacement for the desktop version. Instead, the RebelMouse Android app is intended to allow people to post, curate, and publish content on their RebelMouse site while they are out and away from their computers.

Basically, the app would make it more convenient for RebelMouse users to post photos from an event that they are attending in “real time”. You can connect your RebelMouse to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, Flickr, LinkedIn and more. The app lets you select what to feature from those forms of social media on your RebelMouse page through your smartphone.

You can get the RebelMouse Android App at Google Play. It requires Android 2.3 and up. At this time, there is no RebelMouse app for iOS devices. The Android app is being described as their “first mobile app” which implies that there could be an iOS version appearing in the future.

30/30 Productivity App Review

30/30 If you have seen the movie Up you know that the dogs that are in it are well-disciplined except when they see a squirrel. Unfortunately like a lot of people I have a lot of squirrels in my life: email, Facebook, and Twitter just to name some. I have been trying to become more disciplined and more productive by ignoring the squirrels. One of the applications that I have been using lately to help me in this effort is the 30/30 app by Binary Hammer. If you are familiar with the Pomodoro Technique the 30/30 app is built around this technique.

The 30/30 is a very nicely designed application. There is a time indicator at the top and then below a list of task for the day. Once you finish with a task, there is a sound and then the next task begins. You can schedule your whole day, even when it is time for coffee breaks, social media and email. Each Task is divided into 30 minute sections by default, however you can go into the settings and change the time period for any task. You can also adjust the alert sound and change the icon for each task. You can also set up more than one schedule if you need to. You can also have it show you the duration of each task and the time of day. The 30/30 app also sync with iCloud.

I like the 30/30 app, however I think it works best in conjunction with other apps or methods, like full screen mode. I am also still trying to figure out how to stop it from looping automatically back to the start. The biggest problem with an app like 30/30 is that you must have the discipline to use it. I think that a lot of people download it with good intentions, use it for a short period of time and then stop. If you are disciplined and use it I think that the 30/30 app can boost a person’s productivity. It is a free and available in the iTunes store.

Bartender for the Mac

Below in the first photo you will see how my menu bar usually looks. As you can tell it is getting a little out of control. A lot of what is up there are applications that I use occasionally, and I want them in my menu bar. However I really don’t need to see them, including  default menu applications like the Airport icon, the eject button and the Time Machine indicator. I was looking for an application that could organize my menu items better and I found that application in Bartender. There is a four-week trial period for Bartender, but I suspect if you are like me you will buy it long before the four weeks are up. It cost $19.00 to license Bartender.

Once you install Bartender. It will show up with the preference open and all the apps that are in your menu bar on the left hand side of the box. On the right hand side of the box it will give you three options:

  • nothing Bartender doesn’t do anything (item remains in default menu bar)
  • show in Bartender bar, but not in menu bar
  • completely hide menu bar item

Now you can go through each of your menu items and decide where you want them. When you want to see an item that is in the Bartender bar you can either click on the Bartender icon or if you go into advance options under the Bartender preferences you can create a hot key. You can also create a hot key to show all menu bar items including hidden ones. The default icon for Bartenders is two dots, however you can change to icon by going Preferences and then General. There are some icons available, but you can also use your own image.

Bartender is one of those applications that does one thing and it does it well. It is not available through the Mac app store, you can download the application at the Bartender website. With the four-week trial there is no reason not to try it.

Barnes & Noble Retires Nook Apps for PC and Mac

Barnes & Noble logo Avid readers who have been enjoying the Nook app on their PC or Mac are in for some disappointment. According to The Digital Reader Barnes & Noble has officially ended its support for the Nook app for PC and the Nook app for Mac.

More specifically, this is in regards to the Nook for PC for Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. It also is in regards to at least some Mac versions of the app. The Digital Reader got an email from Barnes & Noble that suggests that people use Nook for Web instead (whether they are on a PC or Mac).

The eBook Reader notes that Nook for Web doesn’t allow you to save the book you are reading offline. You have to go online to access it. Another problem is that not all of the Nook books are available through Nook for Web. Some people are going to lose access to at least some of the Nook books that they had access to through the apps that have now disappeared.

Personally, I am an avid reader. I love to read and I have more books than I have shelf space for. I am one of the people who has a pile of books that I am dying to read… as soon as I get through the ones I bought before them. Despite my love of reading, I’ve never been interested in owning an eBook Reader. To me, paper books are a whole lot safer than digital ones. I won’t lose them if an app disappears.

Twitch Releases App for Xbox 360

TwitchTwitch has announced that they have a brand new app that can be used on your Xbox 360. As you may have guessed, it is called the Twitch App for Xbox 360.

It will allow you to watch (at least some) of the content from Twitch on your big screen TV. This may appeal to Xbox 360 users who would prefer to watch gaming related streaming, shows, and other content on the same big screen that they play games on. Perhaps the intent of this app is so that Twitch can make more of a connection with the users who play games on Xbox 360, and expand their audience. They already have a lot of people using computers to check out Twitch.

The app will have 300 live channels. Users can browse through the directory either by games, featured content, or top channels. The app is Kinect-enabled, so you can use voice or motion commands to tell your Xbox 360 what Twitch channel you want to watch. Right now, the Twitch App for Xbox 360 is available for Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers who live in the United States, only.