Categories
News

The 10 Best Apps for Discovering Events Happening Around You

Festivals, concerts, sports, and other events happen everywhere, all the time. No matter which you prefer or even if you enjoy all of them, how do you know what’s going on and when? One of the best ways to find out is with your mobile device.

Whether you’re sitting on the couch looking for something to do or are already out and deciding where to go after dinner, these are the best free mobile apps to find events in your area.

1. Eventbrite

Eventbrite is one of the greatest event apps for finding local happenings of all kinds. Music festivals, craft shows, and even bar crawls are right at your fingertips.

Enable access to your location to see what’s happening around you, or search by city. The app then gives you dates, times, locations, maps, and similar events. You can also check ticket prices and order those that are available.

You can browse events by category or search for something specific. Plus, you can share happenings with your friends or save your favorites with a free account. Eventbrite has it all, but there are plenty of Eventbrite alternatives if you’d like something different.

Download: Eventbrite for Android | iOS (Free)

2. All Events in City

True to its name, you can also find events in your area with All Events in City. From sports and art to workshops and seminars, you can find just the right occasion for you.

Pop in your city to begin and then browse the events listed by category. You can tap to see all events within a category, like Entertainment or Upcoming. Then, narrow your results by subcategories such as Concerts or Comedy.

All Events in City gives you the dates, times, and locations as well as descriptions, maps, and ticket links. What’s great about this app is the ability to mark if you are attending, contact the organizer, add it to your calendar, and share it with friends—all from one spot.

Download: All Events in City for Android | iOS (Free)

3. Unation

Unation lets you discover events or search for them easily. Set up a free account and then browse by location. You can narrow down your options with filters for staff picks, recently added, interests, location, date, or creator.

So if you are looking only for fashion, family, or fitness events, you can tap to find those quickly. Then review the dates, times, locations, descriptions, and see who else is attending from the user group. You can mark if you plan to go, which makes getting together with friends who also use Unation easy.

If an event requires tickets, you can check prices and proceed with ordering right from the app. Unation is a good tool for planning outings with others.

Download: Unation for Android | iOS (Free)

4. 10times

For fairs, expos, trade shows, farmers’ markets, and other enjoyable events, 10times is a solid events app. It may not be as fancy as some others, but it gives you the details you need for nearby happenings.

Set up a free account, select your interests, and then see what events are taking place. The tabs let you review upcoming, nearby, or trending options. The app shows all details for dates, times, descriptions, and the organizer’s information.

You can set up reminders, invite others, and mark if you plan to attend. 10times offers a bit extra because you can also use it to find businesses in your area. This makes the app a useful all-purpose option.

Download: 10times for Android | iOS (Free)

5. Ticketmaster

Maybe the types of events you like are a bit bigger than local art shows or business workshops. For sporting, theater, and live music events, Ticketmaster is well-known. Find your events, purchase your tickets, and you’re on your way to a fun-filled day or evening.

You can look for events based on your location or enter a city name. Then browse by popular, nearby, this weekend, or upcoming events.

If you use Ticketmaster online, you can log into your account in the app. Get event details with dates, times, locations, accessibility, parking, and a map. Then check out seating for the venue, ticket prices, and make a purchase if you’re ready to go.

Download: Ticketmaster for Android | iOS (Free)

6. Meetup

Since its founding way back in 2002, Meetup has grown to become one of the most popular events apps available.

The brand inadvertently found itself in the middle of the 2019 WeWork storm, following the real estate company’s 2017 buyout. However, in March 2020 it changed hands again and its long-term future appears secure.

The app focuses on local in-person meetups and events. More than 225,000 meetup groups around the world use the app to list local events in 130 countries.

Download: Meetup for Android | iOS (Free)

7. LikeALocal

One of the hardest times to find something to do nearby is when you’re in a foreign country. And because time is typically limited when you’re abroad, you don’t want to waste time visiting museums, restaurants, and other attractions that aren’t up to scratch.

That’s where LikeALocal is useful. All the recommendations and events listed in the app are vetted by someone who lives in the area. It helps you to avoid tourist traps and gimmicks, letting you see the real face of the city you’re visiting instead.

The standout feature is the smart stream. It’s a real-time feed of open attractions and events happening nearby. You can download all the content for offline reading to save your data while you’re roaming.

Sadly, the app is only available on iOS.

Download: LikeALocal for iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

8. Facebook

We’ve all heard the stories of Facebook events getting wildly out of control, with thousands of people turning up to birthday parties and the like. Those stories alone are a testament to Facebook’s ability to find events in your town.

Even if you’re not an active Facebook user, remember that hundreds of restaurants, businesses, and activity groups in your area do maintain an active profile. It’s even fairly common to see them offering discounts and promotions to people who reference a particular post. And with maps, attendee lists, and event management tools, Facebook is a surprisingly holistic event app.

Disclaimer: MakeUseOf does not condone crashing birthday parties unannounced!

Download: Facebook for Android | iOS (Free)

9. StubHub

If you like the idea of larger events and ticket purchasing all in one app, but want a Ticketmaster alternative, try StubHub. It lets you explore what’s going on by location or category like sports, theater, or music.

Similar to Ticketmaster, you can see all event details, check the seating map, view ticket prices, and make a purchase. If you sign in or sign up for a free account, you can use the price alert feature.

You may not find smaller events like festivals or parades, but if you would rather go big, the app is worth checking out.

Download: StubHub for Android | iOS (Free)

10. Vivid Seats

Vivid Seats is another app for finding local events with ticket purchasing. Select a city and state from the list, view suggested events nearby, and then buy tickets.

Like Ticketmaster and StubHub, the events you see in Vivid Seats are on a large scale. So for concerts, sports, and theater, it’s a nice option.

You can filter results you see by event type, category, dates, or date range. While Vivid Seats doesn’t have quite as many event details as the others, it’s still worth checking out.

A pair of features that stand out are Scan Your Music and Connect to Spotify, which provide help in finding events. If you want to see when one of your favorite artists will be in town, this is an awesome way to find out.

Download: Vivid Seats for Android | iOS (Free)

Get Ready, Get Set, Go Out!

Whether for business or pleasure, large or small, these mobile apps for events can help you find fun goings-on in your area.

For something a bit more focused, check out the best restaurant picker apps to help you decide where to eat. You can also find plenty to do online when you’re bored if going out isn’t in the cards for now.

Read the full article: The 10 Best Apps for Discovering Events Happening Around You

Categories
News

How to Add Borders to Photos: 10 Easy Methods

There are countless ways to add borders to photos. From online tools, to mobile apps, to desktop programs, there’s something to suit everyone.

You can opt for something as simple as surrounding your image with a plain white border, you can create a diptych or collage using multiple photos, or you can get creative with your frames, adding color, patterns, stickers, and more.

These apps and sites can be used to up your photo styling, especially if you plan on sharing your images online using photo-sharing apps like Instagram. So, here are some easy ways to add a border to a photo…

Web Apps That Add Borders to Photos

If you don’t want to install software on your computer or smartphone, there are several solid free photo frames and borders available through these sites. And you can also upgrade to a paid account to access more features and designs.

1. Canva

canva frames

Canva is your one-stop shop for online design, but there’s no reason you can’t use it for something as simple as adding a border or frame to your photo.

To use the service, you’ll have to sign up for a free account.

After you begin a new design, click Elements > Frames to get started. With Canva, you’ll have to select your frame before adding your image.

The frames on offer include borderless collages (perfect for Instagram), frames that make liberal use of color blocking, spliced images, Polaroid frames, and more.

There are plenty of free frames to choose from, but Canva also offers additional paid frames or frames only available for premium users.

With some frames (like the Polaroid frame for example) you would want to download it as a PNG with a transparent background to get the full effect, but that requires a paid account.

2. BeFunky

befunky screenshot

BeFunky’s Photo Editor includes a way to add frames to your photos—and you don’t need to sign up to use it. There’s a small selection of free frames (one per category), but upgrading for around $5/month gets you a lot more options.

When you first load BeFunky, select Photo Editor. You can then upload your image, and click on Frames in the menu. BeFunky has a selection of frames including ArtDeco, Rustic, and Lace. And its “Instant” category offers users an easy way to create a digital Polaroid design.

3. Pizap

pizap screenshot

Pizap can be used to add frames to photos and create collages. You can test the feature before signing up, but in order to save your images, you’ll have to create a free account.

To add a border to your image, click the Edit a Photo button on the homepage. The Borders option has over 13 categories, most of which are themed for special occasions like Christmas, Halloween, and birthdays. Each of the categories have free options you can use, along with designs reserved for premium users.

The designs available through Pizap are a little louder and more colorful than other options on this list, and are definitely as kitschy as they come. At the same time, if you’re looking for a simple, online method for adding a white border to your photo, Pizap is your best bet.

Mobile Apps That Add Borders to Photos

If you’re adding frames to photos you’ve taken on your phone, and plan on sharing them on mobile-friendly platforms, then you might as well add frames to them using one of these mobile apps.

There are plenty of border and frame apps available on the App Store and Google Play catering to a variety of tastes. And these are just a few that we’ve found offer unique designs or decent free options.

4. InFrame (Android and iOS)

InFrame is a simple app that has various image customization options, but its main focus is providing funky and varied frames.

When you open the app, you will see a grid gallery of all the images on your phone. Tap All Photos at the bottom to switch to a specific gallery, if necessary. When you find the image you want to add a border to, tap it. You can select up to nine photos if you want to arrange them in a collage.

With an image chosen, you can then scroll through the various frame options at the top. When you select one, you can then edit the image further, like changing the colors on the frame or adding effects and stickers.

When you’ve finished editing, tap Done in the top-right and the image will save to your gallery so that you can share it directly to other apps.

Download: InFrame for Android | iOS (Free)

5. April (Android and iOS)

April is a quirky little app with two annoying factors to bear in mind if you’re an Android user: it will constantly ask to use your location data which is totally unnecessary, and if you don’t grant it access, it will ask you every time you open the app.

The app can also be a bit of a battery drain because it runs in the background, so you’ll need to manually kill the process every time you finish using the app.

That said, it has some unique and creative frames, with endless free options based on how many photos you want to use.

You can choose between “Layout” for basic frames or “Poster” for more elaborate options. Within “Poster”, you’ll find different options based on category (Decoration, Food, Daily) and how many photos you’ve chosen to use.

April can also be a one-stop shop for all your mobile photo editing needs with some really solid filters, editable text, and stickers.

When you apply a preset frame, April may also apply a filter, but you can remove that manually if you prefer to simply add the frame.

Download: April for Android | iOS (Free)

6. Instasize (Android and iOS)

Instasize has lots of great frames to add to your pictures, perfect for sharing on social media. With the app open, tap the plus icon at the bottom. You must then select where your image is stored (for example, Cloud or Camera).

Once you have selected the image, use the bar at the bottom to scroll across and tap the frame icon (second from right). Select a frame theme, like oil or water, and you can then choose a specific frame within that. Some frame themes are only available with a paid subscription, but you can get a free trial if you really want to use them.

With a specific frame design selected, use the bar above to adjust the size of the frame. When you’re happy with the edits, tap the share icon to send the image directly to social apps or save it to your gallery.

Download: Instasize for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

7. ShakeItPhoto (iOS)

ShakeItPhoto is an iOS app that does just one thing and it does it really well—it adds a Polaroid frame to your photo along with a vintage effect.

So if all you’re looking for is an easy way to add a Polaroid frame to your iOS photos, you really don’t need to look any further than this app.

You can take the photo directly within ShakeItPhoto, or pull a photo from your camera roll.

Download: ShakeItPhoto for iOS (Free)

Desktop Apps That Add Borders to Photos

Finally, there are a couple of desktop apps that can also get the job done.

8. Photoshop

photoshop clipping mask

Photoshop boasts a ton of features, just one of which is the option to add a frame to any photo. And if you already have access to Adobe Creative Cloud, using Photoshop gives you complete control over the final product.

You can go as simple as adding a white border to your photo using Photoshop, or you can add a pattern, change the shape, and more. The only limit is your own creativity.

A handy trick when it comes to creating borders with Photoshop is to use the Clipping Mask feature:

  1. After you’ve designed your frame, add a box or rectangle indicating exactly where the photo is going to go.
  2. Add the photo as an additional layer in your design.
  3. With the photo layer above the shape where you want your photo to go, right click the image layer and select Create Clipping Mask.
  4. Once you’ve done this the image will be confined to the rectangle or shape you clipped it to. You can move the image within the confines of that shape using the Move (keyboard shortcut V) tool.
  5. You can resize it by selecting the Rectangle Marquee tool (keyboard shortcut M), right-clicking the image and selecting Free Transform. Hold down the Shift button and using the mouse, grab one of the corners of the image and drag to resize.

You can use this method to add textures and patterns to your frames as well, because it ensures that your additions are limited to the shape you’ve created.

For those of you who don’t want to shell out money for Creative Cloud, GIMP offers similar features to Photoshop and is also worth exploring.

9. Microsoft Paint

Adding an image border in Paint

If all you want is a simple color border and you have a Windows computer, Paint will do a perfectly fine job.

Open your picture in Paint. In the top toolbar, within the Shapes section, click the rectangle. You can then click and drag around the outside of your picture to create the border.

If you want to customize it a bit, use the Outline dropdown to switch between options like Solid color and Felt tip. Also, the Size dropdown will alter the thickness, while the Colors section lets you alter the color of the border.

10. Microsoft Word

add frame word

If all else fails, Microsoft Office products alone can be used to add a basic frame or border to your image. Microsoft Word’s basic image editing features include the ability to add a frame to an image. Similar features can be found in PowerPoint and even Excel.

After you’ve inserted your image into the Word document, right-click it and select Format Picture. In the menu that opens you have several options including adding a variety of drop shadows, a reflection of your image, and an outer glow.

If you want a simple frame, click the “Fill” icon (bucket) and select Line > Solid Line. You can change the color, type of line, width, and more.

From Simple Photo Borders to Vintage Frames

From adding simple white borders, to making your photos look like Polaroids, there’s plenty you can do either with the photography features built into your devices or with an app or two.

And now that your photos are looking good, you’re likely eager to show them off to the world. Thankfully, you don’t have to set up a website from scratch. Instead, you can use one of these Squarespace templates to showcase your photos and art.

Read the full article: How to Add Borders to Photos: 10 Easy Methods

Categories
News

The 5 Best Investment Apps for First-Time Beginners

Thanks to the growth of the web, it’s easier than ever to open an investment or trading account. The last couple of years have also seen several firms reduce their trading commissions to zero, meaning it’s also cheaper for beginners to buy stocks and funds than at any point in history.

If you’re new to the stock market, it’s hard to know where to begin. Here are some of the best stock and investment apps for beginners.

1. Robinhood

When Robinhood launched in 2013, its decision to target millennials with commission-free trading irrevocably changed the market. In 2019, many of the world’s most well-known brokers, including TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, and E-Trade, finally followed suit. Today, millennials, often unfamiliar with the stock market, account for more than 80 percent of Robinhood users.

The service—which is probably the best stock app for beginners—lets you invest in equities, options, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies without paying a fee for each trade. If you pay $5/month, you can trade on margin. Remember, if you use leverage, you are taking a loan from your broker. Thus, beginners should not use this form of investment.

Robinhood has some drawbacks, however. It lacks the in-depth technical and fundamental analysis tools that you’d find on a more traditional broker’s platform. The company has also earned criticism for its practice of “payment for order flow.” Robinhood was selling real-time trading data to four large market makers and thus failed in its regulatory obligation to ensure the highest-quality trades for its users. FINRA fined Robinhood $1.25 million over the issue.

At the time of writing, Robinhood is only available in the US and UK.

Download: Robinhood for Android | iOS (Free)

2. Betterment

Robinhood leaves you to your own devices when selecting your investments, but beginners might feel uncomfortable with that level of responsibility. If you’d like to access the benefits of investing without worrying about choosing your specific holdings, Betterment is a great option.

The company uses a robo-advisor model. When you create your account, you tell it about your preferred level of risk, investment objectives, time frames, and other pertinent information. Betterment will then automatically create your portfolio.

Betterment creates all its portfolios using global stock and bond ETFs; you won’t find any commodities or other volatile assets available. The ETFs include popular Boglehead passive investment funds such as Vanguard’s Total Stock Market (VTI) and FTSE Developed Markets (VEA). A selection of bond ETFs are also available, such as the popular high-yield corporate bond fund, HYLB.

You can use Betterment to open regular taxable investment accounts, IRAs, 401Ks, and even checking accounts.

The app is only available to residents of the United States. The service has an annual fee of 0.25 percent of your account balance, which is $25 for every $10,000 invested. If you want on-demand access to Betterment’s team of CFP professionals, you can opt to pay 0.4 percent instead.

Download: Betterment for Android | iOS (Free)

3. WealthFront

WealthFront uses the same business model as Betterment; it’s an investing app for total beginners. You answer some questions about your goals, and the app advises you about your ideal investment portfolio.

Like Betterment, your scope of possible securities is limited compared to Robinhood. The company maintains a list of nine primary ETFs across a selection of asset classes. Currently, the funds include the S&P 500-focused VTI, Vanguard’s VNQ real estate fund, and Barclays’ BND for US government bonds.

WeathFront costs 0.25 percent of your balance per year, charged monthly. You will also be exposed to the ETFs’ expense ratios, which are all under 0.15 percent.

Download: WealthFront for Android | iOS (Free)

4. Firstrade

You might be a beginner today, but if you’re serious about your financial future, you need to get your head around the ways markets work. It’s the key to clearing your debt and building your wealth in later life.

Unfortunately, hands-off investment apps like Betterment and WealthFront won’t teach you anything. Meanwhile, services such as Robinhood are so thin on research tools that you won’t be able to learn much, even if you want to.

If you’re looking for a little more from your investment app, we recommend Firstrade. The company accepts customers from around the world and offers commission-free trading on stocks, options, and mutual funds.

Firstrade offers considerably more investment vehicles than the other apps here. There are more than 11,000 funds, a huge number of ETFs, and some fixed income products. On the downside, you can only trade securities listed on US exchanges; companies on the London Stock Exchange and Tokyo Stock Exchange are out of reach. Cryptocurrencies are also unavailable.

From a learning standpoint, Firstrade is excellent. The app offers free access to Morningstar’s stock reports and daily market analysis, Briefing.com’s newsletters, and Benzinga. There’s even an extensive in-house library of video training content that’ll teach you the basics of investing, plus an impressive amount of text-based content.

There is no minimum deposit required to open an account.

Download: Firstrade for Android | iOS (Free)

5. TD Ameritrade

No one wants to go through the tedious process of opening financial accounts unnecessarily. That’s why choosing the right account depends heavily on your goals. If you’re an investment beginner today, yet are interesting in learning and hope to become an experienced trader one day, you should consider opening an account with TD Ameritrade.

At face value, the web app and mobile app are both easy to use. However, once you gain some knowledge, you can start using the award-winning Think or Swim platform. Widely regarded as the best trading and research platform, it has vast amounts of data and charts for every stock and economic indicator you can imagine. It’s not suitable for beginners, though.

Your journey to gaining more experience will be sped up by TD Ameritrade’s impressive library of learning resources. There are hundreds of hours of video content, tests, guides, and much more. Again, TD Ameritrade is one of the leading brokers in this area.

The company offers taxable investment accounts, IRAs, 401Ks, and education saving accounts. Accounts are available to people from any country. Once you open an account, you’ll have access to commission-free trades, a vast number of stocks and ETFs, futures, options, Forex, margin trading, cash accounts, and more. A TD Ameritrade back crypto exchange—called ErisX—is due to come launch in the coming months.

Download: TD Ameritrade for Android | iOS (Free)

What About Beanstox?

A lot of people are interested in making Beanstox vs. Robinhood comparisons. However, this is not a fair contrast Beanstox has been through several incarnations (it was once a self-directed investment app) and is currently a robo-advisor.

The fact the app has switched focus immediately makes us cautious. We’re also not convinced Beanstox is safe if you have more than $25,000 in your account. In the company’s fee structure, it says the following:

“In the future, Beanstox may charge an annual fee of 0.25% on the net market value of Client Account balances of $25,000.”

Lastly, Beanstox’s website is lacking information; we struggled to find information on the underlying funds and ETFs that the app invests your capital into.

While we haven’t done a formal Beanstox review, we don’t think it’s one of the best investing apps for beginners.

Proceed With Caution When Investing

Remember, if you use any of the apps we’ve listed, your money is at risk. Investments in securities can go both up and down in value. You should never invest more than you can afford to lose, and if you’re unsure how to proceed, seek professional financial advice.

If you’d like to stay on top of market news to give yourself a better chance of successful investments, check out the best financial websites. It might also be worth honing your skills before using real money by playing a stock market game.

Read the full article: The 5 Best Investment Apps for First-Time Beginners

Categories
News

How to Text From Your Computer: 10 Apps to View and Send Text Messages

Despite the convenience of instant messaging, SMS still plays an important role for automated alerts and messaging people with older phones. If you use SMS often, you might want to check your text messages online so you can respond faster with your computer keyboard.

As it turns out, there are many ways you can view and send text messages from the comfort of your computer. Here are the best apps for checking your SMS messages on a computer. Note that all of these solutions are for Android only, unless otherwise specified.

1. iMessage (iOS, Mac)

imessage stickers

iPhone users only have one real option for viewing texts on a computer. Apple doesn’t allow alternative SMS clients, so you have to use the built-in Messages app. While there are a few downsides to it, the default messaging and SMS app does come with plenty of great features. One of those is cloud sync, which allows you to read or reply to SMS messages using your Mac’s native Messages app.

If you’re already using the Messages app but are unable to view the conversations from a Mac, you’ll have to enable iCloud Sync on your phone. To do that, go into Settings > [Your name] > iCloud and turn on Messages.

Sadly, Windows users with an iPhone don’t have any official option for checking their iOS texts. We’ll look at a workaround option below.

2. Google Voice (Web)

Google Voice

Google Voice users can view their messages through the official web app. You can compose new messages, and it even supports media previews. On the same page, you also have access to your Google Voice phone logs, voicemail, and more.

To use it, all you need to do is head over to the Google Voice website on your computer, sign in with your account, and you’re all set. If you don’t use Google Voice yet, you can get a number for free.

Unlike most other solutions on the list, Google Voice’s web app doesn’t require a constant phone connection, since all your conversations are stored on Google’s servers. Unfortunately, Google Voice is limited to the US for now.

Visit: Google Voice (Free)

3. Android Messages

Google’s default SMS app on stock Android, Android Messages, has a web client as well. It features a Material Design theme and a familiar two-column layout, with support for individual and group conversations.

In addition, you can enable dark mode from its settings. There’s an option for receiving notifications in your browser too.

To get started, open the Android Messages website. Once there, fire up the Messages app on your phone and under the three-dot menu, tap Messages for web. Follow the steps to scan the code and you should be online in a few seconds.

In case you’d like to install Android Messages and don’t have a compatible Android phone, try sideloading the latest APK file.

Download: Android Messages | Android Messages APK (Free)

4. Pushbullet

Apart from letting you quickly share files and mirror notifications from your phone to a PC, Pushbullet also has a dedicated SMS tab. You’ll find all your existing conversations there, and can view or reply with both text and media. It also supports starting new conversations.

If you didn’t enable SMS mirroring during Pushbullet’s setup process, launch the app on your phone. Then, swipe out from the left edge to reveal the navigation drawer and choose SMS. Enable SMS sync and you’ll be asked to grant the necessary permissions. Once that’s over, you should all set.

On your computer, there are multiple ways you can view your messages. You can download the desktop apps or browser extensions, or sign in at the Pushbullet website. Note that you’re limited to 100 messages per month unless you pay for Pushbullet’s Pro plan.

Download: Pushbullet for Android | Desktop (Free, subscription available)

5. Pulse SMS

Pulse is a third-party SMS client that offers lots of advanced features. This includes a wide range of themes to choose from, password protection, message scheduling, previews for web links, a ton of nifty shortcuts, and of course, the ability to get your texts on your computer. The Pulse web app functions a lot like Android Messages and comes with a modern, clean aesthetic.

However, these supplementary features are not free. For syncing your SMS conversations across devices, Pulse charges a monthly fee of $1, or $6 for a year. Alternatively, you can pay a one-time fee of $11 for lifetime access.

Download: Pulse SMS for Android | Web (Free, subscription available)

6. MightyText

If you’re looking for a comprehensive platform to use SMS on your computer, particularly for business purposes, try MightyText. Along with letting you text from your PC, MightyText has several extra utilities like an SMS scheduler, a multi-window mode where you can attend to numerous chats at once, and more.

MightyText can do a lot of what Pushbullet offers, including notification mirroring. Because the free version has a monthly cap for how many SMS messages you can send, you have to purchase the subscription for unlimited access. It’s available as a web app and an extension for nearly all browsers.

Download: MightyText for Android | Desktop (Free, subscription available)

7. AirDroid

airdroid access phone from computer

We’ve looked at AirDroid before, as it’s one of the best ways to access your Android phone from a computer. In addition to checking and sending texts, you can access photos, videos, and music, move files, and much more.

To get started with AirDroid, install the app on your Android device. Once it’s ready, go to web.airdroid.com on your computer and you’ll see a QR code. Tap the Scan icon at the top of the screen on your phone and scan the QR code to connect the two.

From there, just click the Messages icon in AirDroid to start managing your text messages. The free version has some limitations, but it’s fine for basic use. And while AirDroid offers an iOS version, it doesn’t let you access text messages.

Download: AirDroid for Android | AirDroid Web (Free, subscription available)

8. Your Phone (Windows 10)

Microsoft has updated Windows 10 to include a feature called Your Phone. This makes it easy to manage certain aspects of your device right from your computer, including text messages.

To set up Your Phone, first install the app on your Android device. Open it, then you’ll need to sign in with your Microsoft account and give it permissions to manage content. On your computer, go to Settings > Phone. Click Add a phone to open the Your Phone app and walk through the steps of signing in on your PC.

As long as you’re signed in on both devices and have them on the same network, you can use Your Phone to send messages, view photos, and even make calls. Unlike other offerings, it doesn’t have any limitations or a paid subscription. And like AirDroid, Your Phone also works on iOS, but it can’t sync text messages on that platform.

Download: Your Phone Companion for Android | Your Phone for Windows 10 (Free)

9. Email to SMS Extension (Google Chrome)

We’ve looked at all sorts of solutions for accessing your own text messages on your computer. For something a little different, check out a Chrome extension called Send Your Email to SMS.

This extension adds a simple Mobile button when you’re composing a new message in Gmail. Click it, then enter the phone numbers you want to send the email to. This will send the recipient(s) a copy of your email via text message.

It’s useful if you’re contacting someone who rarely checks their email, or if you work in Gmail all day and don’t want to open a separate app to send SMS reminders.

Note that this extension only works for numbers in the US and Canada.

Download: Send Your Email to SMS for Chrome (Free)

10. Screen Mirroring (All)

Screen Mirroring iPhone LonelyScreen

If none of the above work for your needs, you can always try the somewhat-clumsy solution of screen mirroring. This allows you to replicate your phone’s entire display on your computer and interact with it just like you were using it. Of course, this means you can view your texts on your computer by opening your SMS app.

There are many screen mirroring apps available, depending on what platforms you use. Some are free with limitations, while others are paid. To get started, see how to mirror your Android screen to a computer or how to mirror your iPhone or iPad on a Windows PC.

Now You Can Text From Your PC Easily

The majority of the apps we discussed are for Android users, since Apple doesn’t allow third-party SMS clients on iOS. But no matter whether you use SMS all the time or only once in a while, there’s an app here that lets you access your texts on your PC.

If this wasn’t quite what you were looking for, check out some free web services that let you send texts from another number. And see how you can put SMS to better use with these cool services.

Read the full article: How to Text From Your Computer: 10 Apps to View and Send Text Messages

Categories
News

The 10 Best iPhone Apps to Learn Sign Language

Sign language is one of the most widespread forms of communication on the planet. Knowing a form of it, such as American Sign Language (ASL), is a useful skill for even those who don’t rely on it. If you have a family member or friend who is deaf or hard of hearing, learning even a few words of sign language can be helpful.

There are many resources for those who want to learn how to sign, such as YouTube and Lifeprint. But you can also pick from a wide variety of iOS apps that help you learn anywhere.

Though sign language is not universal, the market for apps is heavily skewed towards ASL. Here are the best sign language apps to learn ASL on your iPhone or iPad.

Keep in mind that sign language is very complicated and operates with different syntax than oral languages. If at all possible, practice the language with someone who signs fluently, and allow these iOS apps to supplement your education. This will help you learn the language through immersion.

1. The ASL App

Best for: Understanding more complex interactions in ASL.

If you’re looking for a Duolingo-like experience, check out The ASL App. One of the best features is that it often shows two ASL speakers interacting to simulate a true conversation. In each video, you can drag your finger across the screen to control the speed. There’s also a slow-motion option.

You can even save specific signs to a Favorites folder for quick access. While the app offers a number of different learning modules for free, you can unlock the entire app with an in-app purchase.

Download: The ASL App (Free, in-app purchases available)

2. SignSchool

Best for: Strengthening your ASL vocabulary.

SignSchool is a great-all around ASL app and offers a number of solid features. One of the best is SignBuilder, which shows random signs so you can improve vocabulary comprehension. There are hundreds of different categories and thousands of signs to choose from. To test your knowledge, there is a multiple-choice game to help review categories.

An ASL Sign of the Day offers a new sign to learn daily; you can get a notification when the new word is available to view.

Download: SignSchool (Free)

3. ASL American Sign Language

Best for: Learning the ASL alphabet and numbers 1-100.

While this app features commonly used phrases in conversation and vocabulary, it’s also a great place to learn the basics. You can learn the complete alphabet and numbers 1-100.

To help test what you’ve learned, there’s also a picture-matching game for both letters and numbers.

Download: ASL American Sign Language (Free, in-app purchase available)

4. Signily

Signily App Composing

Best for: Language immersion via the keyboard.

If you really want to immerse yourself in ASL, a great option is Signily. The add-on keyboard shows you the sign for each letter.

It’s not the most intuitive way of learning how to sign, since it can rob you of the chance to learn word-specific signs instead of fingerspelling. But the big advantage is that all of the signs are laid out in familiar patterns and go back to regular letters with one touch. Switching between the two should make it easier to memorize the individual letters.

Download: Signily ($0.99)

5. ASL Dictionary

Best for: All-purpose reference.

ASL Dictionary is a straightforward and helpful way to learn the language. It has a dictionary of words and phrases that you can sign. When you tap an entry, you’ll see a video clip of the sign in question.

While it doesn’t teach about grammar or sentence structure, ASL Dictionary does a great job at being a quick and easy reference. There is also a quiz mode that tests you based on the videos.

As a nice touch, you can view all the content and videos without an internet connection.

Download: ASL Dictionary ($4.99)

6. Marlee Signs

Best for: Basic visual learning.

Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin headlines this app. She signs out the ASL alphabet along with phrases like “Hello,” “Excuse me,” and “I am deaf.” It’s a great choice for anyone starting out who wants to learn the basics from an experienced teacher.

Matlin signs very slowly, but the app allows you to play the short educational GIFs back even more slowly, which is useful for less-dexterous students and inexperienced beginners.

Download: Marlee Signs (Free, in-app purchases available)

7. ASL With Care Bears

Best for: Teaching children ASL basics.

As it’s clearly made for kids, ASL with Care Bears is a great way to get younger learners interested in learning the language. There are more than 400 different signs of popular phrases and more kid-suitable topics. Living up to its name, kids can also learn the name of all the Care Bears in ASL.

Two bundles come free with the app, while a substantial amount of extra content is unlockable with a single in-app purchase.

Download: ASL with Care Bears (Free, in-app purchase available)

8. ASL Study

Best for: Anyone looking to learn conversational sentences and common words.

The ASL Study app will help you learn 450 daily life conversational sentences and more than 8,500 common words in sign language.

Words and sentences are grouped into different packs covering specific topics. You can bookmark signs to go back and practice later. There is also a test feature where you take a quiz to see how well you’re doing.

With in-app purchases, you can unlock additional study packs or all the words in the app.

Download: ASL Study (Free, in-app purchases available)

9. ASL Translator

Best for: Automatically translating words into ASL.

Using the ASL Translator app, you can translate more than 30,000 different words into sign language in real-time. Just make sure to have an internet connection. You can type up to 50 words at one time and see the ASL on screen.

The app also teaches you how to sign more than 110 ASL phrases.

Download: ASL Translator ($4.99)

10. MaxASL

MaxASL Rdading
Best for: Helping young children and parents learn basic ASL words.

MaxASL helps parents bring ASL knowledge to younger children—infants to age five. Each story offers two different modes. Parents and kids can watch the story in sign language or hear it read out loud. After reading the story, head to the vocabulary section to learn more sign language about each word.

With a monthly subscription, you can unlock all of the stories, download them to watch offline, and more.

Download: MaxASL (Free, subscription available)

The Best Apps to Learn ASL

Learning any new language, including ASL, isn’t easy. But hopefully these iPhone and iPad apps can help guide you on a successful journey.

Don’t forget that your iOS device can help you learn more languages than just ASL. Make sure to take a look at other apps that can help you learn a foreign language.

Read the full article: The 10 Best iPhone Apps to Learn Sign Language

Categories
News

Alternatives to Duolingo: The Best Free Language Learning Apps

The language learning app Duolingo has become one of the most trusted sources for people to improve their language skills. With lessons in over 20 languages through short games and challenges, Duolingo has something to offer to all ages and language ability levels.

But it isn’t the right solution for everyone—and that’s okay! There are plenty of other completely free language learning apps out there for you to try.

So, here are the best free alternatives to Duolingo.

Why Use a Free Duolingo Alternative?

Let’s start with why you might want to use a Duolingo alternative.

Duolingo is completely free, which is amazing. Although the company experimented with using in-app purchases, such as the poorly received health bar and gems, these are now long gone. The introduction of these pay-to-progress restrictions saw many users leave Duolingo.

Now the intrusive payments are gone, why would you use a Duolingo alternative?

For one, the depth of the Duolingo courses. Duolingo claims that “34 hours of Duolingo are equivalent to a full university semester of language education,” complete with a supporting study [PDF].

The suggestion implies that Duolingo is more effective than a college language course, which would cost more, take longer, and require you to relocate.

Retired language professor Steven Sacco put the theory to the test.

Sacco studied Swedish on the Duolingo app for 300 hours (most introductory Swedish college courses require around 150 hours coursework, so he doubled that), and then took UCLA’s Elementary Swedish final exam. What happened?

Despite the 300 hours study, despite Sacco’s history of immersion with language and linguistics, he took home an F.

This is one of the main criticisms of Duolingo. It presents itself as a way of learning a language when it is a tool you should use as part of a wider learning experience.

I’m not knocking Duolingo. I use it myself. But it isn’t the only free language learning tool available.

1. Online Communities

One of the best ways to learn a new language is to surround yourself with other people who have similar goals. Online communities of language learners are fantastic resources to learn tips and tricks about effective language learning, practice speaking with native speakers, and find out about other great learning opportunities online and offline.

Fluent in 3 Months

This very active forum offers language learners a place to practice their writing skills in any language they choose, connect with language partners, post information about their language learning journey, and learn from the success of others.

/r/LanguageLearning

Like most communities on Reddit, this subreddit is a mishmash of topics and discussions. Many posts recommend resources for continued language learning, share personal accomplishments, or pose questions to the almost 100,000 community members.

The Polyglot Club

This free language exchange community focuses on getting language off of the page and into the conversation. The site offers opportunities for video chatting or in-person meetups, as well as free lessons and corrections by native speakers.

2. Rhino Spike

rhino spike language learning

If you have difficulty “hearing” the native language as you read it, this site can be a lifesaver. You can use the recordings that are already online to hear how different accents sound in your target language while reading the accompanying transcription. You can also submit your own texts for native speakers to read and record your own voice for others seeking help.

3. Mango Languages

If you do want a game-style online language learning platform, consider Mango Languages. This program is available for free through many library systems and offers language learning opportunities for over 70 languages.

The program is intuitive to use and prioritizes culturally and conversationally relevant language skills. Furthermore, Mango recognizes that you cannot make it to the library every day. Once you begin a course, you can use your library login with the Mango Languages iOS and Android apps. That way, you can continue learning at home.

4. The Yojik Website

While this site isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing option on this list, it’s hard to beat the quality of its resources. Courses in the public domain intended for training the Foreign Service Institute, the Defence Language Institute, and the Peace Corps offer PDF instructional guides in numerous languages and dialects.

estonian peace corps

With some digging, you can also access multiple audio files and training materials.

5. Memrise

Duolingo falls short in a few areas. Luckily, you can use Memrise alongside Duolingo to give your language learning a greater sphere. Guiding you through individual words and phrases using a flashcard-like system, Memrise can help expand your vocabulary alongside other language learning opportunities.

Many users say that Memrise helps you to learn and speak the language like native speakers and locals, which differs from Duolingo’s formulaic approach.

The Memrise UI is easy to navigate, and you’ll find an extensive range of languages and courses ready to learn.

6. Podcasts

If you like to learn on the go, or simply auditory learning, you should check out language learning podcasts. As you might expect, the world of podcasting has some brilliant resources for learning a new language. Here are three language learning podcasts to get you going.

Innovative Language 101 Series

Starting to learn a new language? You should check out the Innovative Language 101 Series of podcasts. The series features a comprehensive list of languages, with each podcast providing an overview of the language, learning tips, and more.

Coffee Break Languages

Coffee Break Languages aims to teach you a new language in your coffee break. Listen to a new podcast for your language each day, and you’ll learn a new word, phrase, or otherwise. The beauty of the Coffee Break Languages podcast is the length. It is short, to the point, and really does only last the length of a coffee break.

News in Slow

Linguistica 360’s News in Slow series is a great take on contextual language learning. Instead of listening to a new phrase on repeat, News in Slow talks through daily news events in Spanish, French, Italian, or German.

The idea is that you can relate to the news stories, so you’ll create a stronger connection to the language being spoken.

7. YouTube

No matter what combination of online and offline language learning resources you use, YouTube should your #1 choice. You can learn almost anything on YouTube, and a new language is no exception.

Nowhere else online do you have so much access to native speakers talking about any subject imaginable. Whether you choose to watch specific language learning videos, news, or television shows, YouTube makes it easy to practice your new language.

8. HelloTalk

Many say the best and quickest method to learn a new language is immersion. Heading to the nearest country that speaks the language you want to learn isn’t always possible. In that case, the next best thing is talking to native speakers of the language directly.

The HelloTalk app connects you to people all around the world that speak the language you want to learn. The idea is that you teach each other your native languages, helping build comprehension one conversation at a time.

With over 18 million users and over 150 languages catered for, you’ll find someone to help you learn a new language.

Should You Use a Paid Language Learning Service Instead?

The language learning resources above are all free. Some of them also offer a paid service, but you see that you can learn a substantial amount without ever dipping into your pocket.

Still, paid language learning services exist for a reason. If they didn’t provide an excellent service that also comes with results, they wouldn’t survive.

Julie Hansen, US CEO of Babbel (one of the most trusted paid language learning services currently available online) states that:

“Language apps on the surface might look similar, but they are not. Babbel teaches genuinely useful content that can be applied in real-life scenarios . . . When you consider that other language apps teach you how to say useless sentences such as ‘the penguin drinks milk,’ it is clear that Babbel is the most effective app for learning a new language in a meaningful way. None of our content is machine-generated or user-generated, with all of Babbel’s courses being created by a team of more than 150 linguists and teachers, and tailored to each combination.”

If you are a serious language learner with financial resources in place, there are a lot of great reasons to invest your money in authentic language learning experiences, whether through an app, a university course, or an immersion experience.

But for casual language learners or those without extra income, there are a lot of great options available.

Which Is the Best Duolingo Alternative?

Looking for a Duolingo alternative is perhaps not the best approach to learning a language. Sure, this article is all about the best free Duolingo alternatives. There is plenty of them, too.

But you should consider Duolingo as one aspect of your free language learning path, rather than as the focal point. For example, here are a bunch more Duolingo alternatives you can use in your language learning quest.

If you’re looking to learn more, you should check out the best mobile apps for learning and improving your English.

Image Credit: gpointstudio/Depositphotos

Read the full article: Alternatives to Duolingo: The Best Free Language Learning Apps

Categories
News

The 8 Best Music Making Apps for Your iPhone and iPad

It’s easier than ever to create music on your iPhone, even if you don’t have a musical background. You don’t need to know how to read music, play an instrument, or even understand musical concepts like chords and scales.

There are apps for every skill level, every budget, and (virtually) every genre of music you wish to create. Try your hand at shiny pop songs, complex breakcore, or even string-heavy cinematic scores.

We won’t focus on individual instruments here, but rather all-in-one workstations, playthings, and musical tools.

1. GarageBand

GarageBand for iPhone

Before you start scouring the App Store, turn to one of the best music making apps for iPhone and iPad that you also get for free: Apple’s own GarageBand. The Mac version has been used by artists like Rihanna, Justice, and Oasis as part of their creative process. It’s now available for free, in the palm of your hand, and makes great use of the touchscreen.

The app includes a great range of virtual instruments. You’ll find everything from drums and drum machines to stringed instruments like violins, virtual pianos, and keyboards. It even has virtual amplifiers for use with real guitars. With these tools and the sequencer, you can create songs that sound great in very little time. This may just be the best DAW for iPad, and it’s free to boot.

GarageBand for iOS Sound Library

Then there’s Apple’s library of royalty-free samples, available to use however you see fit. You can fuse these with your own creations, record a rough vocal mix with your iPhone’s microphone, and create demos or even whole songs using just your phone. Learn how to use GarageBand with our step-by-step guide.

Download: GarageBand (Free)

2. Auxy

While many apps try to rewrite the rules when it comes to creating beats and loops, Auxy only tries to simplify the process. The result is a free app that’s approachable, while offering serious power to those who know how to use it.

Use the piano roll editor to write looping melodies and bass lines, and create intricate drum patterns using preset or custom drum instruments. You can then arrange your patterns in scenes to create finished productions. Share them to SoundCloud, or export as uncompressed WAVs for further tweaking in your desktop digital audio workstation (DAW).

Auxy is free to download, with a $4.99 monthly subscription to unlock additional instruments, thousands of samples, and the ability to import your own sounds. There’s more than enough here to keep you happy for a few weeks before you open your wallet.

Download: Auxy (Free, subscription available)

3. Figure

Some music maker apps aim to provide every possible feature. Figure takes another approach, aiming to be a simple musical plaything that can get you surprisingly good results. Limitations and constraints can help make you more creative—Figure is the proof.

You get one drum machine, one lead synth, and one bass synth. There are a multitude of instruments for each element, which you can mix and match. Record synth parts by tapping, holding, and swiping the XY pads. Adjust the range of the scale, change the key, and fine-tune the sound till you’re happy.

For a while, it appeared that Figure had disappeared into the ether. Fortunately, the developer Reason (formerly known as Propellerhead) acquired the app in 2019, once again making it available completely free of charge.

Download: Figure (Free)

4. KORG Gadget

KORG’s lineup of iOS apps is almost as impressive as its range of hardware instruments. Gadget is a fully fledged audio workstation, featuring lead and bass synthesizers, analog and sample-based drum machines, and a sampler for recording external sound. The app was previously iPad-only, but now works flawlessly on the smaller iPhone screen too.

The app includes a powerful sequencer to tie all your gadgets together, with full automation and MIDI support. There’s also a built-in community, allowing you to share your creations and listen to what others have made for inspiration.

KORG Gadget is a full-featured iPhone and iPad musical workstation, and it’s not cheap. Fortunately there’s a light version to sample before you buy, though it limits you to three gadgets over three tracks. Advanced features like MIDI export, exporting to Ableton, Audiobus support, and more are disabled until you upgrade.

Download: KORG Gadget Le (Free) | KORG Gadget ($39.99, in-app purchases available)

5. iMPC Pro 2

Akai’s MPC line of hardware samplers has been a major part of the music industry since the 1980s. Hardware like the MPC60, MPC2000, and MPC3000 has been at the heart of countless songs you probably know and love. Akai Professional’s iMPC Pro 2 all but transforms your iPhone or iPad into one of these samplers.

If you’re interested in iPad music production, iMPC Pro 2 may just be your new best friend. Not only is the software loaded with sample packs, but additional free sample packs are available as well. You can also record, chop, and edit your own samples using the iPad’s built-in mic or even an iOS-compatible audio interface.

The software is primarily built for iPad. A separate app is available for iPhone, with a lower price tag that reflects its somewhat reduced usability. You can still get great results—it’s just not as easy to use as the iPad version.

Download: iMPC Pro 2 ($24.99) | iMPC Pro 2 for iPhone ($8.99)

6. KORG iKaossilator

Just like Figure, iKaossilator is a musical tool that breaks down the boundaries. It’s based on KORG’s pricey Kaossilator hardware, which uses an XY touchpad to manipulate the 150 built-in sounds in order to create weird and wonderful pieces of music.

The provides you with five channels of sound, which you can toggle at will. You can then take these channels, remix them across your projects, and control your loops in real time. iKaossilator is as much of a performance tool as it is a creative one.

It’s likely most valuable when generating ideas, rather than creating finished productions. It’s possible to export your creations or upload them directly to SoundCloud if you’re into that.

Download: iKaossilator ($19.99, in-app purchase available)

7. Cubasis

Most of these apps focus on making their own sounds, which is great. That said, you may be more interested in recording music on your iPad or iPhone. To make the most of these you’ll need a USB audio interface and a way to hook it up to your iPad.

Once you’ve put in the setup time, you’ll find Cubasis is one of the best DAWs for iPad music production. Cubasis is based on Steinberg’s Cubase software, so you benefit from the years of development Steinberg has put into Cubase. Despite this, the most recent version was rewritten from the ground up, adding new features like group tracks and other features you may recognize from Cubase on your Mac or PC.

Originally iPad-only, Cubasis now works on both the iPad and iPhone. Even better, the app is Universal, so you don’t need to buy separate versions for each device.

Download: Cubasis ($49.99, in-app purchases available)

8. AudioBus

AudioBus isn’t a music making app, but it’s instrumental in many productions. The app allows you to route audio from one source to another, so you can take the output from a synthesizer or drum machine, add effects with an audio processor, then record it in your workstation.

AudioBus 2 is the cheaper, more linear version, but it hasn’t seen an update since 2017. Meanwhile, AudioBus 3 is currently maintained and does everything AudioBus 2 does. It has more options for routing multiple apps, plus full support for MIDI.

Many apps on this list, like GarageBand, KORG Gadget, and Cubasis already support AudioBus. Check out the full list of AudioBus-compatible apps on the AudioBus website.

Download: AudioBus ($9.99, in-app purchase available)

Get Started Making Music on iPhone

This is a small sample of the huge number of apps that let you use your mobile device to create music. If you want to dive into more specific niches, there are plenty. You’ll find a world of dedicated synthesizers, drum machines, and other single-instrument apps available for iOS.

Want to take your music production up a notch? Check out the best DAWs for Mac or the best DAW software on Windows to make music on your computer.

Read the full article: The 8 Best Music Making Apps for Your iPhone and iPad

Categories
News

The 8 Best Board Game Apps for iPhone Users

Do you remember what it was like before the internet existed? We used to have to read newspapers to find out about current affairs, use landline telephones to chat with our friends, and go to physical shops to buy stuff. We also had to play board games to entertain ourselves.

Thankfully, those sepia-toned childhood memories of beating your granddad at Monopoly can be recreated on your smartphone. Granted, you won’t get the satisfaction of seeing your sister throw the board across the room when she loses, but the digital experience is still an enjoyable one.

So, with that in mind, here are the best board game apps you can play on your phone…

1. Monopoly

Monopoly is the king of classic board games. It was invented way back in 1903 as a way to demonstrate the shortfalls of an economy that was dominated by monopolies and has since gone on to sell more than 250 million sets. The aim of the game is to drive your opponents into bankruptcy.

All parts of the game are faithfully recreated in this version of the board game for your phone, including the famous playing pieces, the bank, and the ability to auction your properties.

There are three different levels of difficulty, and the game rules can be customized to match the way you’re used to playing the physical version of the game. Multiplayer support is available, but you and your fellow players will all need to have the game installed.

Download: Monopoly for Android | iOS ($4)

2. Connect 4

Seven columns, six rows, and a requirement to get four of your discs in a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal row. Sounds simple, right? Actually, it’s surprisingly complex—there are 4 trillion ways to fill a board and 2 trillion ways to get four-in-a-row.

While it’s true that Connect 4 was “solved” years ago (just make sure you go first and play in the center column), it can still provide hours of fun and frustration in equal measure.

There are no official versions of the game on either Android or iOS. Instead, you can choose from numerous free options. The Android version with the best rating is called Four in a Row. It lets you play on either a 2D or 3D board, has 10 levels of computer difficulty, and supports multiple disc colors. The best iOS version is Connect 4. It has three levels of difficulty and supports multiplayer.

Download: Four in a Row for Android (Free)

Download: Connect 4 for iOS (Free)

3. The Game of Life

Surprisingly, the roots of The Game of Life are even older than those of Monopoly. The original version was designed in 1860, with the modern game being released in 1960 to commemorate the original’s 100-year anniversary. Today, we think it makes for one of the best board game apps for your phone.

The game takes the player on a journey from college graduation to retirement, with events such as kids, jobs, mortgages, and marriage all featuring prominently. The winner is the person who has the most money at the end.

An official version of the game is available on Android and iOS. Features include the ability to play with friends, animated tokens, 3D landscapes, and a “life journal” to track your game. The iOS version will also let you pair music from your iTunes account with in-game events.

Download: Game of Life for Android | iOS ($3)

4. Scrabble

Another classic board game, another EA release. Although “Words with Friends” became popular upon its release, for that really nostalgic classic board game feeling you really need the original Scrabble.

Scrabble was first realized in the 1930s and became instantly popular as a thinking person’s game. The objective is to use your titles to make a word on the board—the more complicated your word and the more multiplier squares it intersects, the more points you score.

The game is available on both Android and iOS. It has an in-game dictionary to help you maximize your scoring, a teacher mode which will retrospectively show you what your best available word was for each turn, the ability to challenge your friends via Facebook, and a speed mode for faster games.

Download: Scrabble for Android | iOS (Free)

5. Ludo (AKA Parcheesi)

Ludo is derived from a 6th Century Indian game called “Pachisi”, though the simpler modern version first hit the shelves in 1896. American readers may know it by the brand name “Parcheesi”.

It supports up to four players, with the aim of the game being to get your four pawns from your nest to the central space before your opponents.

The best Ludo app—Ludo King— is available on both Android and iOS. The game offers local and remote multiplayer, an offline mode, and different board themes. Other games like Ludo King include Ludo Club and Ludo Online.

Download: Ludo King for Android | iOS (Free)

6. Snakes and Ladders (AKA Chutes and Ladders)

Like Ludo, this game also originated in India. The world knows it as Snakes and Ladders, but in the US the snakes were replaced by chutes in 1943 after Milton Bradley discovered American school children reacted badly to them.

Whatever you call it, it’s a game you almost certainly played as a kid. There are 100 numbered squares, with the game’s sole objective being to get from square 1 to square 100 before anyone else. However, your progress is either aided or hindered by the presence of ladders and snakes/chutes.

The game is available on Android and iOS. Features include a multiplayer mode, offline mode, and an arcade-style “Survival Mode” for extra fun.

Download: Snake and Ladders for Android | iOS (Free)

7. Backgammon

backgammon android

How classic do you want your board games to be?! Backgammon is one of the oldest games in the world—its history can be traced back more than 5,000 years to the early Mesopotamian civilizations.

The aim of the game is to remove all of your own checkers off the board before your opponent using a combination of strategy and luck. Given that the board is naturally a rectangle, the dimensions make it one of the best board game apps for tablets such as the iPad.

Numerous versions of the game are available for both the Android and iOS platforms. We’ve linked our favorite edition for each operating system below.

Download: Backgammon Free for Android (Free)

Download: Backgammon for iOS (Free)

8. Risk

Risk is a great game, but it has one massive annoyance—the number of pieces on the board. If there are a lot of players it’s all too easy to accidentally knock pieces into different territories, especially in the early game.

The mobile version of the game has no such issues. Tiny playing pieces aside, the rest of the game is faithfully recreated. It includes different game modes, customizable rules, an in-depth tutorial, and game stats. You’ll also find plenty of DLC such as new maps and scenarios.

The basic game, which only includes the classic Risk game mode, is available on both Android and iOS.

Download: Risk for Android | iOS (Free)

What Are Your Favorite Board Game Apps?

What did we miss? There are so many classic board games out there it’s impossible to cover all of the ones you can now play on your phone. Have you found a great mobile version of Battleships? Cluedo? Or Pictionary? If so, we would love to hear your recommendations in the comments below.

And if you’d like to learn more about playing board games, check out our articles listing the best sites to play board games online and the best ways to play board games with friends.

Read the full article: The 8 Best Board Game Apps for iPhone Users

Categories
News

The 5 Best Gratitude Journal Apps for iPhone Users

Keeping a gratitude journal can result in higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. Those are values we can all be grateful for.

Traditionally, gratitude journals are kept using pen and paper notebooks. However, there are also several well-crafted digital gratitude journals for iOS. These allow you to cultivate a habit of recording what you’re most thankful for in life.

Here are the best gratitude journal apps for iPhone and iPad.

1. Grateful

Grateful is a terrific gratitude journal option with features that let you truly make it your own. You’ll start each entry with prompts like “what are you grateful for?” and “what made you laugh?” today. This is a helpful way to begin journaling if you’re new to it.

Grateful’s standout features:

  • Set reminders to write an entry each day.
  • Customize the entry prompts from built-in options or create your own.
  • Add notes, include photos, and use tags for all entries.
  • Sort entries by date, tag, prompt, or random.

With an intuitive and attractive interface, customizable features, and helpful prompts, Grateful is a really solid journaling app for iPhone and iPad. You can try Grateful for free with 15 journal entries and if you like it, check out the subscription plan. Among other perks, this lets you back up your journal to cloud storage.

Download: Grateful (Free, subscription available)

2. Gratitude Happiness Journal

Another excellent iPhone app in this sphere is Gratitude Happiness Journal. Similar to Grateful, you can use prompts for helping sparking your entry for the day. You can also write a letter of gratitude or simply jot down what you’re thankful for. It’s all up to you!

Gratitude Happiness Journal’s best features:

  • Tap to write in your Journal, type a daily Affirmation, or receive a Daily Zen quote that you can share.
  • Set reminders for your journal entries, affirmations, and daily quotes.
  • Use a passcode lock to make sure your thoughts remain private.
  • Add a pastel color to your journal entry and include a photo.

Gratitude Happiness Journal gives you a day or month view of your journal. Plus, you can see how consistently you journal with writing streaks. The app provides most of its features for free, which is awesome. But if you’d like to add a search function, export options, or the ability to add more than one photo to an entry, look into the subscription plan.

Download: Gratitude Happiness Journal (Free, subscription available)

3. Reflectly

Reflectly is a neat gratitude journal that walks you through sharing how you feel. This is a great way to get started if you’re new to journaling. Start by rating your day, move onto your main activity, and then finish with how you felt throughout your day. Reflectly calls your entries “stories.”

Reflectly’s top features:

  • Follow the helpful questions to create your stories.
  • Edit your stories, add notes, and include photos.
  • Sort and filter your stores by date range, activity, or feeling.
  • Create six stories to unlock your writing stats.

With Reflectly, you get a gorgeous interface that you can customize with your favorite color, reminders for morning and evening, and a passcode lock to keep your feelings to yourself. If you’re interested in additional features like unlimited text, new daily questions, and personalized insights, take a look at the subscription plan.

Download: Reflectly (Free, subscription available)

4. 365 Gratitude Journal

With the 365 Gratitude Journal app, you get more than a simple journal. You’ll read inspiring quotes and stories, get help from the happiness coach Joy, can share with a community, and capture quick moments with the Gratitude Jar.

365 Gratitude Journal’s prominent features:

  • Add your mood for the day, read an inspirational story, and follow the prompt to express your thoughts.
  • Fill your Gratitude Jar by entering moments as they happen.
  • Join the Gratitude Game to earn points, win medallions, and unlock rewards.
  • Set up daily reminders, create a passcode, and take an assessment to learn more about yourself.

If you’re looking for a gratitude journal that goes beyond just daily entries, 365 Gratitude Journal is the app for you. To access the library of meditations, sync with your other devices, unlock Coach Joy, and more, you’ll need to subscribe.

Download: 365 Gratitude Journal (Free, subscription available)

5. Happyfeed

Another gratitude app for iPhone and iPad to look at is Happyfeed. This journal lets you add up to three entries per day and can give you a hint for something to write about if needed. Plus, you can add an emoji to sum up the mood for your day.

Happyfeed’s major features:

  • Add photos and locations to your entries to remember what makes you grateful.
  • Look back at your entries, edit them, and share them with others if you like.
  • Set daily reminders to keep up with your journaling.
  • Create a private group, called a Pod, to share your progress and chosen moments.

Happyfeed makes keeping a gratitude journal easy with a simplistic interface, the ability to add photos of what you’re grateful for, and a quick way to view your past entries. Happyfeed is free, with a subscription option available to get the in-app calendar, use offline mode, create more entries per day, and more.

Download: Happyfeed (Free, subscription available)

The Benefits of a Gratitude Journal App

Even as we weather the rainy days and storms in our life, keeping a gratitude journal can help remind us to focus more on the sunshine days and lemonade moments. It can also help reduce depression, daily stress, and encourage a sense of empathy for others.

If you want to try something different, check out some tools for bullet journals, as well as these journal apps for boosting mental health.

Read the full article: The 5 Best Gratitude Journal Apps for iPhone Users

Categories
News

7 Fun Mobile Games Which Let You Explore the World

These days, it’s safe to say that most of us are craving some escapism. Whether you’re trapped indoors, seeking adventure, or simply desperate to go travelling, one of the best methods to explore the world is through gaming.

With that in mind, here are some fun mobile games which let you explore the world, hunt for clues, and/or traverse an alien landscape. They’re all available for Android and iOS, and many of them are completely free to play too.

1. Seashine

It’s dark. It’s mysterious. It feels like a cross between Finding Nemo and a horror flick.

In the world of Seashine, you play a lonely little jellyfish searching for your way out of a massive underwater cave. The goal? To get out of this cave before your light vanishes. If you linger for too long, you’ll get eaten by one of the bigger fish.

Don’t let the foreboding premise of this game scare you off. Seashine is really simple to play, and the fact that you’re allowed to explore a dark, fantastical world full of deep-sea, bioluminescent creatures can actually be really calming.

While you can make in-app purchases to complete the levels quicker, Seashine works just fine as a “freebie,” too.

Download: Seashine for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

2. Feist

Do you want to play mobile games that are equal parts creepy, cute, and beautiful? Feist is an action-adventure side-scroller with animation so smooth your character moves across the screen like water.

Featuring dark fairytale undertones and delicate sound design, Feist is set in a mystical, twilight forest. You play a tiny, fur-covered creature who needs to make its way through this forest in order to save its mate. While doing so, you must avoid the more dangerous creatures that lurk in the gloom.

With pared-down controls consisting of forward, back, and jump actions, Feist is super easy to play with almost no learning curve. It’s perfect for anyone who wants an activity they can just dive right into.

Download: Feist for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

3. Mars: Mars

While Mars: Mars is not as exploration-focused as some of the other games on this list, the gameplay itself is so compelling we’re still including it. We feel it’s a great tool that will help you find ways to escape.

A free-to-play side-scroller, the objective of Mars: Mars is dead simple:

  • When a manned space mission puts an astronaut on Mars, it’s up to you, the player, to guide this astronaut across the Martian landscape.
  • You do so by jumping from platform to platform using a jetpack.
  • If you don’t land on a platform, your astronaut explodes.

The controls for this game are very user-friendly—left tap for left booster, right tap for right. As you traverse each level, you’re also expected to collect “coins.”

Once you have enough coins, MarsCorp sends you a new astronaut with a new skill set. You can also acquire extra content through in-app purchases.

Overall, this game is great if you’re looking for something to mindlessly play late at night.

Download: Mars: Mars for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

4. OPUS: Rocket of Whispers

Looking for mobile games to play that are overwhelmingly story-based? Check out OPUS: Rocket of Whispers, a narrative about hope and perseverance in the face of civilizational decline.

While the subject matter might be too heavy for some—it deals with the after-effects of a pandemic—we think it still deserves a mention. Following a pair of characters about 30 years after a devastating viral outbreak, the player guides their journey as they search for pieces of a broken rocket. The aim? To help the souls of the dead reach the stars via this rocket.

Best of all, you can play the game in Regular or Story Mode. The latter letting you focus exclusively on the game’s complex narrative.

NB: While OPUS is officially labeled “free with in-app purchases,” and this is technically true, you will have to buy the full game in order to play past the first “arc.”

Download: OPUS: Rocket of Whispers for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

5. The Trail

Are you looking for vast, open-world mobile RPG games that let you explore? Do you want the ability to create a custom character, craft supplies, hunt for animals, trade objects, build a house, and interact with other players?

Then you absolutely need to check out The Trail; one of the best free-to-play games on this list.

Taking place in a vast, unspoiled wilderness that looks similar to the American west, you play a pioneer who has just landed, seeking to make a name for yourself. Once you disembark, you must make your way to Eden Falls, where you start your new life.

While the controls for this game are not as intuitive as some of the other games on this list, once you grasp them, operating The Trail becomes a breeze. The ads are also so minimal and unobtrusive that it almost feels like you’re playing paid content.

If you’re looking for other crafting games, and The Trail doesn’t do it for you, you can also check out our list of the best farming games for Android and iOS.

Download: The Trail for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

6. Pavilion: Touch Edition

Looking for exquisite, beautifully animated exploration games that force you to use your mind in order to advance? Then you need to try Pavilion: Touch Edition, which bills itself as a puzzle-adventure.

While Pavilion is a paid game, we definitely think it’s worth the nominal cost to buy it. The goal of Pavilion is to move a small, animated character through a series of mazes. Through these mazes, you’ll explore hidden passageways, wander past crumbling staircases, and venture into abandoned temples.

You’ll also open up drawers, step on rune stones, ring bells, and turn off lights in order to achieve your goals.

While we love this game, we don’t recommend playing it late at night, especially if you’re just looking for something simple to help you relax. You’ll need to think critically about these puzzles and not mindlessly mash buttons in order to advance through the maze.

Download: Pavilion: Touch Edition for Android | iOS ($3.99)

7. Samorost 3

Last but not least is Samorost 3. Possibly our favorite game on the list. Utterly whimsical, completely escapist, and gorgeously animated, Samorost 3 is a puzzle-based adventure game. It comes across as a mix between a Studio Ghibli movie and Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal.

In the game, you play a gnome who travels through the vastness of space in order to discover its “mysterious origins.” You do this by using a flute to speak to the creatures around you, and by exploring every nook and cranny within the game in order to locate hidden objects.

There are multiple alien worlds you can explore, and the game itself is very much a tap-and-click adventure, where you must intuitively grasp the controls in order to find clues on how to progress.

While Samorost 3 is a paid game, like Pavilion, we think it’s well worth the price.

Download: Samorost 3 for Android | iOS ($4.99)

Explore the World While Stuck At Home

While you may be stuck indoors for the time being, or lack access to a games console or PC, you can still escape into the wider world using your phone and these mobile exploration games.

And if you’re looking for other fun mobile apps to keep you entertained, check out the best virtual pet  games for your mobile.

Read the full article: 7 Fun Mobile Games Which Let You Explore the World