The best free focus timers for Mac to work, break, and concentrate

Need a little help managing your time? Try a focus timer. These are the best free focus timer apps for Mac to help you work and break when you should.

Focus Timers for Mac

When you’re hard at work on your Mac, sometimes you forget to take a break. Then there are other times when that’s all you can think about doing. In both cases, a handy focus timer can help.

Set the timer, focus on the job at hand, and take a short break when time is up. This helps you stay focused on what you need to do for a certain amount of time and take that necessary break without forgetting.

Check out these awesome free focus timers for Mac you can snag on the Mac App Store.... Read the rest of this post here


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Coinbase acquires Distributed Systems to build ‘Login with Coinbase’

Coinbase wants to be Facebook Connect for crypto. The blockchain giant plans to develop ‘Login with Coinbase’ or a similar identity platform for decentralized app developers to make it much easier for users to sign up and connect their crypto wallets. To fuel that platform, today Coinbase announced it has acquired Distributed Systems, a startup […]

Coinbase wants to be Facebook Connect for crypto. The blockchain giant plans to develop ‘Login with Coinbase’ or a similar identity platform for decentralized app developers to make it much easier for users to sign up and connect their crypto wallets. To fuel that platform, today Coinbase announced it has acquired Distributed Systems, a startup founded last year that was building identity standard for dApps called the Clear Protocol.

The five-person Distributed Systems team and its technology will join Coinbase. Three of the team members will work with Coinbase’s Toshi decentralized mobile browser team, while CEO Nikhil Srinivasan and one other co-founder are forming the new decentralized identity team that will work on the ‘Login with Coinbase’ product. They’ll be building it atop the “know your customer” anti-money laundering data Coinbase has on its 20 million customers. Srinivasan tells me the goal is to figure out “How can we allow that really rich identity data to enable a new class of applications?”

Distributed Systems had raised a $1.7 million seed round last year led by Floodgate and was considering raising a $4 million to $8 million round this summer. But Srinivasan says “No one really understood what we’re building”, and it wanted a partner with KYC data. It began talking to Coinbase Ventures about an investment, but after they saw Distributed Systems’ progress and vision, “they quickly tried to move to find a way to acquire us.”

Distributed Systems began to hold acquisition talks with multiple major players in the blockchain space, and the CEO tells me it was deciding between going to “Facebook, or Robinhood, or Binance, or Coinbase”, having been in formal talks with at least one of the first three. Coinbase “were able to convince us they were making big bets, weaving identity across their products.” The financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Coinbase’s plan to roll out the ‘Login with Coinbase’ platform is an SDK that others apps could integrate. That mimics the way Facebook colonized the web with its SDK and login buttons that splashed its brand in front of tons of new and existing users. This made turned Facebook into a fundamental identity utility beyond its social network.

Developers eager to improve conversions on their sign up flow could turn to Coinbase instead of requiring users to set up whole new accounts and deal with crypto-specific headaches of complicated keys and procedures for connecting their wallet to make payments. One prominent dApp developer told me yesterday that forcing users to set up the MetaMask browser extension for identity was the part of their signup flow where they’re losing the most people.

This morning Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong confirmed these plans to work on an identity SDK. When Coinbase investor Garry Tan of Initialized Capital wrote that “The main issue preventing dApp adoption is lack of native SDK so you can just download a mobile app and a clean fiat to crypto in one clean UX. Still have to download a browser plugin and transfer Eth to Metamask for now Too much friction”, Armstrong replied “On it :)”

In effect, Coinbase and Distributed Systems could build a safer version of identity than we get offline. As soon as you give your social security number to someone or it gets stolen, it can be used anywhere without your consent and that leads to identity theft. Coinbase wants to build a vision of identity where you can connect to decentralized apps while retaining control. “Decentralized identity will let you prove that you own an identity, or that you have a relationship with the Social Security Administration, without making a copy of that identity” writes Coinbase’s PM for identity. “If you stretch your imagination a little further, you can imagine this applying to your photos, social media posts, and maybe one day your passport too.”

Considering Decentralized Systems and Coinbase are following the Facebook playbook, they may soon have competition from the social network. It’s spun up its own blockchain team and an identity and single sign-on platform for dApps is one of the products I think Facebook is most likely to build. But given Coinbase’s strong reputation in the blockchain industry and its massive head start in terms of registered crypto users, today’s acquisition well positions it to be how we connect our offline identity with the rising decentralized economy.

Android 9 Pie (Go edition) arrives this fall

With Android Pie now available (on a handful of devices, at least), Google’s prepping the launch of its low-powered counterpart. Android 9 Pie (Go edition) — the successor to the more pithily named Android Go — will be hitting arriving on devices this fall. Like Android Oreo (Go Edition), the latest OS is a stripped […]

With Android Pie now available (on a handful of devices, at least), Google’s prepping the launch of its low-powered counterpart. Android 9 Pie (Go edition) — the successor to the more pithily named Android Go — will be hitting arriving on devices this fall.

Like Android Oreo (Go Edition), the latest OS is a stripped down version of its latest full operating system, designed to run on devices with 1GB of RAM. The more modest hardware requirements make it a compelling match for low-cost devices and thus a solid option for developing markets.

Among other things, it will offer faster boot times than standard Android and will free up space on the phone’s storage. There are new security features on board as well, along with a dashboard for monitoring data consumption. There are a number of updates to individual Go apps, too, including the ability to read sites’ content aloud in Google Go and navigation in Maps Go.

According to Google, the Android (Go edition) is currently available on 200 devices in more than 120 countries.

How to send Instagram polls privately via Direct

Instagram lets you ask for a friend’s opinion privately by sending them an interactive poll sicker in a direct message. You can even poll everyone in a big group conversation at once, ere’s how to use polls in Direct.

In addition to polling your Instagram followers by using the poll sticker in a Story, you can also privately send an interactive question to everyone in a big group conversation through Direct.... Read the rest of this post here


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How to use Apple’s Voice Memos app on Mac

Voice Memos, ported from iOS to macOS Mojave, lets you use your Mac to record that important lecture or meeting or sound bites for songs or just about anything that comes into mind. Here’s our detailed guide to making the most of Voice Memos for Mac.

Voice Memos has existed on iPhone since the 2009 iPhone OS 3 software nine years ago. At its annual developer conference in June 2018, Apple announced it would make Voice Memos available for iPad and bring the app to macOS alongside a few other native iOS apps, like Stocks, Home and News.... Read the rest of this post here


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HQ Trivia downloads spiral downward as it hits Apple TV

HQ Trivia’s app store ranking has continued to sink the past three months, but it’s hoping a new version on your television could revitalize growth. HQ today launched an Apple TV app that lets users play the twice-daily live quiz game alongside iOS Android players. “Everything about the game is still the same – same […]

HQ Trivia’s app store ranking has continued to sink the past three months, but it’s hoping a new version on your television could revitalize growth. HQ today launched an Apple TV app that lets users play the twice-daily live quiz game alongside iOS Android players. “Everything about the game is still the same – same questions, same time, same rules” says a spokesperson, except you’ll play with the Apple TV remote instead of their phone’s screen. But that might not be enough to get HQ’s player count rapidly growing again.

According to App Annie’s app store ranking history, on iOS HQ has fallen from the #1 US Trivia game to #10, from the #44 game to #196, and from the #151 overall app to #585. It’s exhibited a similar decline on Android. Analytics firm Sensor Tower estimates HQ has seen 12.5 million lifetime installs by unique users, with abou 68% on iOS. “Installs have been on the decline. For last month, we estimate them with about 560K, which is down from their height of more than two million per month back in February” Sensor Tower’s head of mobile insights Randy Nelson tells TechCrunch.

 

The question is whether this is just a summer lull as people spend time outside and students aren’t locked in the schedule of school, or if HQ is in a downward spiral beyond seasonal fluctuations. But if we zoom out, you can see that HQ has been in dropping down the charts through the school year since peaking in January. At one point it climbed as high as the #3 game and #6 overall app. The app’s record high of concurrent players has also declined from a peak of 2.38 million in late March.

Meanwhile, new clones keep popping up. After the initial wave of Chinese live trivia apps, now US television studios are getting into the mix. This week Fox unveiled ‘FN Genius’ which looks and works almost exactly that same as HQ. One of HQ’s long-time rivals Trivia Crack where users play asynchronously over the course of days, also declined earlier this year but has bucked HQ’s trend and started rising on the App Store charts again. There are also new 1-on-1 trivia games like ProveIt that let players bet real money on whether they can outsmart their opponent.

Fox’s FN Genius. Image via Deadline

With themed games, celebrity hosts, big jackpots like a recent $400,000 prize, and new features like the ability to see friends’ answers, HQ has tried to keep its app novel. But it’s also encountered cheaters and people playing with multiple phones that make normal players feel like they’ll never win. While the live aspect adds urgency, it can also feel interruptive with time as users aren’t always available for its noon and 6pm pacific games. HQ may need to launch a second game app, come up with some new viral hooks, or find ways to revive lapsed players if it’s going to make good on the $15 million its parent company raised in March.

 

MoviePass says those cancellation bugs have been fixed

MoviePass is about to roll out its new subscription plan, which will keep prices at $9.95 while imposing a new limit of three movies per month. But it seems that the transition hasn’t been going entirely smoothly. The Verge reports that several users have complained about previously canceling their plans, only to receive emails from […]

MoviePass is about to roll out its new subscription plan, which will keep prices at $9.95 while imposing a new limit of three movies per month. But it seems that the transition hasn’t been going entirely smoothly.

The Verge reports that several users have complained about previously canceling their plans, only to receive emails from the service suggesting that they were still subscribed.

We reached out to a MoviePass spokesperson, who confirmed that there were “bugs” in the cancellation process, but said they’ve since been fixed:

On Monday, August 13th, we learned that some members encountered difficulty with the cancellation process. We have fixed the bugs that were causing the issue and we have confirmed that none of our members have been opted-in or converted to the new plan without their express permission. In addition, all cancellation requests are being correctly processed and no members were being blocked from canceling their accounts. We apologize for the inconvenience and ask that any impacted members contact customer support via the MoviePass app.

The company also said that all members are being given the option to either opt in to the new plan or cancel their memberships. If someone doesn’t respond by the end of their billing cycle, their subscription will be automatically canceled.

The new plan is part of a broader effort at MoviePass to try to get the company to profitability. In addition to capping monthly tickets, the company is also keeping big releases off the service for the first couple weeks — and apparently, forcing subscribers to choose between only two movies at a given time.

MoviePass says those cancellation bugs have been fixed

MoviePass is about to roll out its new subscription plan, which will keep prices at $9.95 while imposing a new limit of three movies per month. But it seems that the transition hasn’t been going entirely smoothly. The Verge reports that several users have complained about previously canceling their plans, only to receive emails from […]

MoviePass is about to roll out its new subscription plan, which will keep prices at $9.95 while imposing a new limit of three movies per month. But it seems that the transition hasn’t been going entirely smoothly.

The Verge reports that several users have complained about previously canceling their plans, only to receive emails from the service suggesting that they were still subscribed.

We reached out to a MoviePass spokesperson, who confirmed that there were “bugs” in the cancellation process, but said they’ve since been fixed:

On Monday, August 13th, we learned that some members encountered difficulty with the cancellation process. We have fixed the bugs that were causing the issue and we have confirmed that none of our members have been opted-in or converted to the new plan without their express permission. In addition, all cancellation requests are being correctly processed and no members were being blocked from canceling their accounts. We apologize for the inconvenience and ask that any impacted members contact customer support via the MoviePass app.

The company also said that all members are being given the option to either opt in to the new plan or cancel their memberships. If someone doesn’t respond by the end of their billing cycle, their subscription will be automatically canceled.

The new plan is part of a broader effort at MoviePass to try to get the company to profitability. In addition to capping monthly tickets, the company is also keeping big releases off the service for the first couple weeks — and apparently, forcing subscribers to choose between only two movies at a given time.

Trulia crowdsources neighborhood reviews so you won’t regret your move

Trulia, the online real estate site owned by its former rival Zillow, wants to give you a better idea of what a certain neighborhood feels like before you move there. To do this, the company today launched Neighborhoods, a feature that brings together direct reviews and feedback from residents based on the existing What Locals […]

Trulia, the online real estate site owned by its former rival Zillow, wants to give you a better idea of what a certain neighborhood feels like before you move there. To do this, the company today launched Neighborhoods, a feature that brings together direct reviews and feedback from residents based on the existing What Locals Say tool, data and images from Trulia’s own team (including drone shots), as well as more general information about other neighborhood highlights and safety info.

This new feature is now available for 300 neighborhoods in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Austin and Chicago, with 1,100 more planned to go live throughout the rest of 2018. These new neighborhood guides are available in Trulia’s mobile apps and on the web. However, the feature is a bit hidden and will only pop up when you search for a neighborhood in Trulia. I also had no luck bringing it up on the web, but the mobile version is quite nice. It’d be nice to be able to pin a link to a neighborhood guide somewhere in the app, though.

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The overall idea is solid. The neighborhood you buy in matters, after all. Indeed, Trulia says 85 percent of homebuyers say that the neighborhood matters as much to them as the house itself. You’ll still want to spend a bit of time in the neighborhood you are looking at, but tools like this can give you an early feel for what’s right for you. Combined with Trulia’s existing data about things like commute times and local crime, if nothing else, you can at least cross a few areas off your list with this.

“Prior to Trulia Neighborhoods, there wasn’t a resource that showed consumers what life is really like in a neighborhood,” said Tim Correia, senior vice president and general manager at Trulia. “Our research found consumers were determined to find this type of information and even developed a series of hacks to source these valuable insights. It was clear it was time to rebuild the home and neighborhood discovery experience from the ground up and empower consumers with all the information to make the best decision for themselves.”

iOS 12 beta 7 pulled after reports of bugs, crashes

Beta software always presents a risk going in. Companies usually recommend not installing it in primary devices for that very reason. For those who like to live on the edge, however, the latest beta of iOS 12 presented some very real issues. Reports of buggy performance lag, freezes and crashes were pretty widespread for the […]

Beta software always presents a risk going in. Companies usually recommend not installing it in primary devices for that very reason. For those who like to live on the edge, however, the latest beta of iOS 12 presented some very real issues.

Reports of buggy performance lag, freezes and crashes were pretty widespread for the seventh beta of the upcoming mobile operating system, causing some pundits to recommend skipping the install outright.

It’s a marked change over previous builds, which largely seemed to run fairly smoothly. Seems there were enough reports to cause Apple to pull the over the air update, however, less than 24 hours after it first started hitting devices. All of this doubly surprising, given the fact that iOS is likely near final, at this point, with the public version of the software expected to arrive at some point next month (along with, one hopes, some new hardware).

We’ve reached out to Apple to find out when we can expect beta 7 to rise again.