Gadgets

The Best Apps for Managing Your Inbox

Keeping up with your email can be a real pain. Not only do most of us complain about being buried in messages, we might have several inboxes — one for work, one for personal communications and (if you’re smart) a separate account you use to sign up for services that later will spam you with ads, deals and newsletters. Sure, the mail app on your smartphone or tablet works fine, but plenty of third-party apps can make handling email easier. Here are two of the best ones. myMail The Best Email App for Android: myMail Instead of forcing you to access your various email accounts in separate apps such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook or the email app that came loaded on your device, myMail lets you aggregate everything in one place. The app’s clean interface shows circular avatars to the left of the messages in your inbox that include the sender’s photo, first letter of his or her name or the company logo. The thing I appreciate most about myMail is how easy it is to use. When you swipe left on any message in your inbox queue, a ribbon appears that lets you tap once to mark a message read or unread, move it to a folder, mark it as spam, delete it or mark a message to find it more easily. You can also swipe the entire list of messages in a particular inbox to the right in order to access a dashboard showing you which account you’re in, the folders and subfolders in each and your personal settings. You can add a custom signature to your outgoing messages, adjust what times of the day you want to receive notifications, and turn on a novel feature that lets you “Hide the Sender” and “Hide the Subject” so that other people can’t see who’s emailing you if you leave your device lying around. You can choose to download attachments automatically or select them manually if you want to save on data use. Overall, myMail is a simple app if you have more than one

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MAKE IT REAL: Hack Auto-Pauses Netflix When You Fall Asleep

Take it from me: You haven’t lived until you’ve woken up in a cold sweat, tablet haphazardly balanced on your doughy, middle-aged gut, your entire episode of SpongeBob SquarePants having run its course. Did SpongeBob finally get his drivers license?!!! You’ll never know. You fell asleep. Sure, you could replay the episode and scrub back up to the point where you fell asleep, but this is the United States of America. None of us have time for that. Relief may be in sight, however: Netflix held itself a little hackathon, and one of the ingenious hacks to come out of the 24-hour key-clacking jamboree involved a wearable Fitbit device capable of detecting when a user had fallen asleep. With its motion-sensing capabilities tied into Netflix’s playback controls, it could then pause the movie. When the user went to play the movie back later, an option appeared for resuming the stream at the point he or she nodded off. Here’s a quick video demo: Now, don’t get too excited. Even though this was a Netflix-backed hackathon, Netflix says that’s no guarantee we’ll ever see such a feature implemented. And it’d be interested to know how sensitive the Fitbit feedback is for a setup like this: A lot of people could be mistaken for asleep (or dead) during a long enough SpongeBob binge, right? If we have to periodically lift an arm ever so slightly in order to register motion, all bets are off. Awesome Netflix-Fitbit Hack Detects When You’ve Fallen Asleep, Auto-Pauses Your Movie [TechCrunch]

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Quick Tech Trick: Use the iPhone’s Built-in Flashlight Feature

This might be the easiest trick yet. Watch the above video to see how it’s done. More Quick Tech Tricks: How to Search a Specific Site with Google How to Hide Facebook Posts from Certain People How to Unsend Email with Gmail How to Charge Your Phone Faster All Quick Tech Tricks

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If the Price of Windows Plunges, Blame Chromebooks

Tom Warren of The Verge has a fascinating scoop: Microsoft is experimenting with a version of Windows 8.1, bundled with various Microsoft services, which it would call “Windows 8.1 with Bing” and offer for little or no money: We’re told that Microsoft is aiming to position Windows 8.1 with Bing as a free or low-cost upgrade for Windows 7 users. Any upgrade offers will be focused on boosting the number of people using Windows 8.1. This Bing-powered version of Windows 8.1 may also be offered to PC makers as part of recent license cuts for devices under $250. It’s not clear how committed Microsoft is to these plans, but the experiment is part of a number of initiatives designed to push and monetize Microsoft’s cloud services and apps. Microsoft is increasingly betting on Bing as a platform it can monetize in the future. Microsoft is also considering low-cost or free versions of Windows Phone, and the company is working towards merging its Windows RT and Windows Phone software into a single version designed for ARM-based chipsets. It’s hard to ponder this news without thinking of the fact that web-centric laptops based on Google’s Chromebook platform often sell for about $200-$250, while it’s tough to find much in the way of Windows notebooks for less than around $300-$350. The license fee for Windows accounts for a fair chunk of that difference; Chromebooks, by contrast, are as cheap as they are in part because Google doesn’t charge for Chrome OS. Which it can do because of all the ad-subsidized Google services Chromebook owners use. So a bargain-basement version of Windows tied into Microsoft services with a price point of $250 or less sounds like an answer to Chromebooks. And even more than Microsoft’s “Scroogled” campaign against Chromebooks, that suggests that Microsoft is concerned about cheap Chromebooks chipping away at the market for not-quite-as-cheap Windows laptops.

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Apple’s iOS in the Car Is Arriving, and It’s Called CarPlay

At last June’s WWDC keynote, Apple unveiled a bunch of stuff — including a sleeper sort of product it called iOS in the Car. The idea was to let auto makers give their vehicles the ability to serve as a second screen for a driver’s iPhone, with bigger-screen versions of apps such as Music and Maps and voice control provided by Siri. Now iOS in the Car is ready to hit the road. Confirming a story reported last week by the Financial Times, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are at the Geneva International Motor Show announcing that they’re rolling out the feature — which is now called CarPlay — in new vehicles this year. If you aren’t planning to buy a Ferrari, a Mercedes or a Volvo anytime soon, you might still be able to put CarPlay on your shopping list next time you get new wheels: BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota and others are also planning to support it in future models. (MORE: Volvo Shows Off the Apple CarPlay iPhone Interface) With all due respect to the automotive industry, which has made a lot of progress in the last few years modernizing its entertainment and information systems, its standards of interface polish still don’t come anywhere near Apple-like levels. So it’s good news that Apple itself is building a car-friendly interface. Unlike a smartwatch or a TV, it may not count as the all-new product category that people are sitting around waiting for Apple to enter, but it’s closer than anything else Apple has done in the Tim Cook era. CarPlay: The best iPhone experience on four wheels [Apple.com]

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