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If you still haven't clicked with a to-do list app and just know that having one by your side will make you 985835 times more productive, then we might have just the solution: UpWord Notes.

The to-do list app that launched late last month is very similar to another of our favourites, Clear, but it's not as sparse with a bunch of added features that we now just can't live without, including reminders, favourite tasks, text customisation, link mode and much much more.

The way it IS the same as Clear is the bit we like the best: intuitive gestures that allow you to move between folders and lists with ease. UpWord is just more beefed up, and we hate to say it Clear, but more realistic for those with multiple day-to-day tasks that can't just be reduced down into a few neat lists.

At the moment UpWord Notes is only 69p in the app store, so get it fast as it's usually double the price.

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Gone are the days of cuddling up with your favourite novel and slowly immersing yourself in the beautiful prose, it's 2014 and no one has time for that. Enter Spritz a new kind of speed reading app that could help you read 1,000 words a minute (the gif above shows 500 wpm) and most novels in well under an hour and a half.

There are already a few speed-reading apps on the market, but Spritz (which has allegedly been in "stealth mode" for three years - whatever that means) takes all of the top theories about how to enable us to read faster and crams them into one package.

According to the Huffington Post, Spritz will be launched on the Samsung Galaxy S5 handset and Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 smartwatch. However, the company plans on licensing out its technology to all kinds of software developers, ebook manufacturers and possibly wearables too.

Images via HuffPo via Imgur.

evernote-handwriting-big.jpgEvernote's Android app is already pretty awesome, allowing users to integrate text, to-do lists, photos and more seamlessly into their notes. In a blog post today the team explains that with its latest update it wants "to extend the Evernote experience" even more and it believes the best way to do that is with a neat handwriting feature.

Users just need to tap the paperclip icon and choose a thickness and colour to scrawl their notes with. They then tap the drawing to revert back to text mode.

Like the screenshot to the left, users will be able to add handwriting sections into their notes alongside text and images too - the chemistry class example is a pretty good way of illustrating the need to move back and forth between the different kinds of notes.

Get the Evernote app (or just update it) from Google Play.

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Today WeTransfer has launched an app for iOS, allowing iPhone and iPad users to share 10GB of files from their devices via 3G or a WiFi connection.

Once you've downloaded the app the process is really simple, just tap the photos or videos you'd like to send, add in a friend's email address and then wait as WeTransfer does the rest.

The app can work via both 3G and WiFi and it doesn't matter if you have to move between the two for one transfer - it'll handle it seamlessly.

The app itself is free, but WeTransfer Plus users can pay a $10 a month premium to access files in the company's own cloud.

You can download the WeTransfer iOS app from the app store here.

guilty-pledgers-app.jpgThis week Spotify has unveiled the Guilty Pledgers app, a service that allows music fans to donate money to their favourite charity in exchange for adding their guilty pleasure tune to a party playlist.

The idea behind the app (that works from within Spotify's desktop app) is that Spotify users will sign up to throw a Guilty Pledgers house party that syncs up with their Facebook account. The guests they invite can then add songs to the party playlist, donating to a charity through Just Giving each time they do.

Andy Whitlock, Guilty Pledgers co-founder, said: "We wanted to make fundraising as feel-good as possible. And what could feel better than partying to your absolute favourite tunes without your friends being able to judge you?"


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Launched today, SquareOne is another mail app that's here to save the day and clear up all of your mess.

The iPhone app is solely compatible with Gmail and works by getting you to divide your emails up into groups. It helps you out with some suggestions to start, but then you can reposition and rename them as much as you like. As you can see from the example above, groups like VIPS, Friends and Team are presented in a simple grid-like format. Once you receive an email, you can then swipe it to add it into a certain group and in future all emails from that person will be sent there automatically. You can also manage which push notifications you get from certain groups, which is a nice touch.

Everything else SquareOne does looks good but is pretty standard for a mail app, it's the sorting that it prides itself on. For some people this may work well and could ensure they're more productive if they assign a time each day to tackle certain emails from certain group. However, now Gmail has its own super organised Categories functionality, SquareOne may need to add in something else to make it really useful to the time-saving, life-hacking crowd.

You can download SquareOne from the app store here.

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In the same way Medium is particularly appealing for those already using Twitter, Postach.io is a simple blogging platform that's specially designed to link up with Evernote.

Although Postach.io is still in beta, this week the service has rolled out a premium tier for its users, which works out at $5 a month or $50 a year. This will enable Evernote lovers to have more than one site, password protect their blogs and add multiple users who can all contribute - features that really open up doors for how Postach.io could be used in the future.

The site works by writing your posts directly up to Evernote where you can then label them in certain ways to determine how they'll look on your site and when they'll be published.

With the premium features added this week it looks like Postach.io is keen to take on larger blogging platforms given it also has Disqus integration, Google Analytics features, custom domain names and social sharing built-in.

For those in need of a super simple blogging platform that's about your content as apposed to fancy themes then look no further. Of course, it's particularly useful for those already using Evernote 24/7 too who also want to somewhere to house their thoughts, but don't want to put too much effort into all the old school blogging stuff - like agonising over themes, blog rolls and colour schemes.

youview-big.jpgEveryday there are so many new videos that "OMG YOU'VE JUST GOT TO SEE!!!", to the point that it can be hard to keep up with them as well as eat, do work, function like a human, etc.

Well a new update to the ShowYou video app means you'll be able to keep abreast of the latest videos without having to hunt them down and watch them throughout the day.

The iPad app collects together all of the top videos that are being shared across your social networks and serves them up to you like your own personal TV channel (but with many more cats, obviously) that starts playing as soon as you open it up.

With online video consumption sky-rocketing at the moment, any way to sort through the noise will undoubtedly prove to be popular - even if it means you have to unfriend some annoying baby video spammers.

ShowYou is available from iTunes.

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After Facebook bought up Whatsapp a few weeks ago, and allegedly offered more than Google for the teen-friendly messaging service, many started wondering what the search giant's next move would be and today it seems clear: turn its Hangouts app into Whatsapp. Simple.

The latest update to its iOS app welcomes a tonne of new features similar to other messaging apps, including not at all irritating stickers, Vine-like 10 second video messaging that plays on a loop to your mates and location sharing.

Although some of these features were already available on the Android version of the app, Hangouts on both Android and iOS now look very different and much more Whatsapp-like.

zippy-app-screenshot.jpgMany of us are pretty obsessed with to-do lists, whether that means writing them, making them look pretty or finding an app to collate lots together for us - actually getting the tasks done is a totally different matter.

On the surface Zippy is just another slick and intuitive to-do list app, but its insights feature analyses your to-do list habits and tells you where you can make improvements. Whether that's spending too much time on admin, jumping around tasks too much, or, the one we think we'll all be guilty of: procrastinating all the time.

There's certainly a danger with these kinds of apps and services that you'll spend so much time trying to make yourself more productive that you'll get nothing done, but Zippy is useful if you're not sure where your time is getting sucked away to and want a simple way of finding out.

Zippy is available from iTunes for 69p.

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Mobile messaging is becoming more and more popular each day, so you know what that means? More messages! Well yeah, but also, more SELFIES.

Call them silly, call them pointless, call them vain, but there's been a lot of discussion over the past year or so about selfies, our selfie-snapping habits, why we take them in the first place and the psychology behind them.

Now a new data project called SelfiExploratory is here to delve deeper into the selfie phenomenon than ever before.

Developed over at SelfiCity, the project claims to use a range of "theoretic, artistic and quantitative methods" to analyse our selfies. These findings are then presented as fancy data visualisations, which you can then divide up and view by all kinds of factors, like held tilt amount, smile, location and gender.

And what interesting things can you learn from the data? Well, it depends how much time you have on your hands, but interestingly we take selfies less than we think, only around 5% of images from each city were selfies, and women are more keen on snapping their faces than men, especially in Moscow where women take 4.6 times more than the dudes.

At the moment the data is only tracked from Bangkok, Berlin, Moscow, New York and Sao Paulo, but if you're interested in finding out more about our fascination with the selfie then it's well worth a visit on your lunch break.

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We all know we should be working out more, but with busy schedules, hangovers and the lame weather it can be really hard to get out there and get moving.

According to research last year, which was explored in more depth by the NY Times, we should stop trying to crowbar lengthy workouts into our days and instead treat our bodies to short blasts of high intensity exercise - 7 minutes of the sweaty stuff to be exact.

Sure it might just be the latest fad in a long line of fitness crazes, but the exercises included in the 7 Minute Workout all get different parts of the body moving and leave your heart pumping as if you've just come back from a pretty intense run.

There are a number of different apps on the market to introduce you to the 7 Minute Workout (not to mention some great YouTube videos), but our favourite is from Quick Fit.

It's been available since January, but it's the only one out of a tonne of health and fitness apps that we've actually kept using here at Shiny Shiny.

The app takes you through all 12 exercises of the 7 Minute Workout giving you 30 seconds for each with a 10 second break in between. The voice commands are simple and ensure your form is spot on, but they're not at all patronising like some other workout apps on the market.

HD videos accompany each workout so you can check you're doing the exercises right. You can also try and keep up with the number of reps the little dude does each round too, but don't worry if you can't - it's much better to start off slow and ensure your form is perfect before you try and smash through 297385 reps in 30 seconds anyway.

There's a performance tracking section within the app that keeps track of your workouts and your progress and once you've done a fair few you can unlock a special workout dedicated just to your abs.

Brought to you by the team behind the great-looking Wake alarm, the app is really intuitive, just tap to pause and swipe between screens. There's no unnecessary clutter, it's just focused on ensuring you're doing the right workouts in the right amount of time.

Of course you could just learn the workouts yourself and grab a timer, but with the app it's all just much simpler, which means it's much more likely you'll keep it up.

7 Minute Workout - Quick Fit is available from iTunes for 69p.

photofy-app-shot.jpgGone are the days of adding just one simple filter to our Instagram snaps before we upload them for the rest of the world to view and like (or judge and troll depending on who follows you).

Now there are a range of different apps to visit before we make our final tweaks with Instagram. MoreBeaute is a personal favourite of mine for evening out skin tone and making you look a helluva lot more attractive than you actually are, Piction is my go-to for text additions and Aviary is my favourite for basic adjustments and even more filter options.

Well now new app Photofy is competing to be a staple in your app collection, because it manages to combine a lot of different features into one slick and colourful package.

The iOS app allows you to take a new photo or use an old one in your library to get started. You're then taken to a page to resize and rotate your image before you begin.

Once you're done spinning and cropping you're greeted with an eyegasm of random text additions, frames, stickers and graphics - I downloaded the app around Valentine's Day, so there were a tonne of sickly sweet messages to begin with, but you can choose from a range of options, like "Arts & Crafts" to "Fitness" that add all kinds of different overlays to your images.

If you finally manage to decide on just one, you can then resize the image, choose a filter or even change the pre-selected text too, giving you a lot of freedom over exactly how your image looks.

The app doesn't just lend itself to making your photos better before sharing on Instagram, but some of the beautiful typography and motivational mantras really lend Photofy to be a favourite amongst Pinterest lovers too.

iOS users can get their hands on Photofy for free now from the iTunes store.

The Winter Olympics are well underway in Sochi - and it's even a time for non-sports fans to get engrossed the action. It's all very exciting watching humans take on the snow and ice in a variety of different ways - but how can you keep track? And crucially, how can you figure out what on earth is going on? Here's our top 5 apps to help you keep track of the Sochi Olympics.

In what seems an increasingly common occurrence, recently a controversial game appeared on the iOS and Android app stores - to the swift disapproval of many people. In this case, it was a game called Plastic Surgery for Barbie, aimed at kids who want to play at... plastic surgery.

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Needless to say - it was a fairly abhorrent premise to the majority of people, especially as it was targeted at children. Sensing the tide of public opinion, both Apple and Google have pulled the app down before it boiled over into a fully blown shitstorm. Mattel, who make the Barbie toys have also distanced themselves - pointing out it isn't an officially licensed game.

What's interesting about this - other than the horrifying look into what our culture expects of women now - is the speed at which this happened - and that it was up to Google and Apple to police the limits on what was allowed to appear. Does the fact that the two corporations are the gatekeepers create any interesting free speech issues?

Let's leave aside the copyright thing - if Mattel had complained about their trademark being infringed, the app would have been (rightly) pulled for those reasons. But they only found out about it after it caused controversy - so clearly the app was only pulled on "OMG isn't this horrible?" grounds.

The context for this is interesting too. The internet has long been viewed as a place where absolute freedom of expression is possible - with no censors. If you like, you can create a website featuring nothing but swastikas, racism and Nickelback - no one can stop you. But the increasing shift to mobile changes this dynamic somewhat.

Though our phones and tablets still have web browsers, that can access all of the internet, nobody really likes using them if there is an app available. That's how people like consuming content now - not least because it gives a richer and slicker user experience.

The trouble is that unlike the web, to get an app you have to go through Apple or Google's store. That means that before your content can be accessed in this way, your work has to be appraised and approved by these gatekeepers. Which is a bit weird, isn't it?

It's like we've outsourced our decisions on what is suitable for us to access to this third party. And whilst we might all agree about a plastic surgery game aimed at kids... what if it was something more controversial? What if Apple decided to ban the Labour Party app because they wanted to tax big corporations more? Or what if Google decided to ban all Christian apps because they don't like what the Bible says?

These scenarios are perhaps pretty unlikely - but Apple have acted in their corporate interest before. In 2011, they banned a game called Phone Story, that satirised how iPhones are made - highlighting poorly paid Chinese workers and environmental problems and so on. You'd have to struggle to agree that this isn't an abuse of power - and a censoring of free speech.

Apple and Google aren't the only threats to the online free speech we're used to. With the move towards social media, we're outsourcing large chunks of our communications to the likes of Facebook and Twitter - who set the rules on what you can and can't say on those platforms. Remember the last time you called someone on your landline and a BT operative cut in half way through and told you off for swearing? Exactly.

And here's the kicker: we can't really opt out. Sure, you can make the abstract argument that we could all use the postal service, or different digital services to communicate. But if you live in the real world you'll realise that you need to use a smartphone to exist in the modern world - and if you increasingly need to be on social media in order to stay in touch with your friends and colleagues.

So maybe it is time to ask - who put Apple, Google and the other corporations in charge? Why do they get to decide what we can and can't access? It's a tricky dilemma and one we're going to see increasingly in the future.

It's Friday - and in the immortal words of Rebecca Black, you've gotta get down on Friday. But what is there to do? Even if you live in London, the largest city in Europe and one of the most vibrant and dynamic cities in the world, figuring out what to do can often be a frustrating experience. So here's our top 5 digital picks on how to figure out what to do.

Like a jockey at the car show, 1990s internet behemoth Yahoo (of "your mum's email address" fame) had been left twisting in the wind since the rise of Google, but their new CEO Marissa Mayer is doing her best to inject some life into the company. At CES she has announced a number of interesting new things. Read on to find out more.

Yahoo News Digest

Remember the old days, when you couldn't get the news all of the time and had to wait until the TV showed a short bulletin in the morning or evening? Mayer does, and wants to recreate the feeling of frustratingly not knowing what is going on with this new app.

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The idea is that you'll get a twice daily news "bulletin" with updates - once in the morning, and once in the evening, with a summary of the latest stories. Apparently this will be driven by both an algorithm picking the most important things - but there will also be editorial oversight.

What is quite interesting about the app is that it is driven by Yahoo's "Summly" which generates summaries of news from longer stories - given you a cut down explanation of what you need to know. Interestingly too, it will split content into different components, and each story will show an icon to indicate whether there are images, videos or infographics related to the story, and so on.

Whilst it seems like an interesting idea - and I can imagine that there is a place for this sort of news round-up, it does seem odd that the app would artificially punish you for wanting more news quickly - check out this screenshot of the app counting down until the next bulletin is available... wouldn't you just fire up Google News if you wanted the latest in the meantime?

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Acquisition of Aviate

Yahoo have also announced that they've acquired the Android app Aviate, which we featured only a couple of weeks ago. What Aviate does is replace your Android homescreen, and instead of displaying the same apps all of the time, will change depending on the context. In the morning it might give you the latest news (say, the Yahoo News Digest app), and the weather - and then when it detects you're in the car, will show an icon to launch Google Maps. At work, it might prioritise LinkedIn, and when you get home maybe some Netflix.

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It's very clever - and a smart acquisition by Yahoo. Not only does it give them more of a foothold on mobile, but it also means that they will "own" something that will be front-and-centre on peoples phones. And it might even be useful too!

Tumblr Sponsored Posts

Finally something inevitable, by which Tumblr users may dread. Yahoo have announced plans to start selling "sponsored posts" on Tumblr. We expect they'll work in a similar way to Twitter - occasionally appearing on your timeline when you browse, and to be fair - it means that Tumblr might actually make some money for Yahoo, so they can keep it going. So expect to see all sorts of well-known brands posting animated gifs and selfies soon.

Back in the olden days, people used to have their calendars not on their smartphone, but on their wall. No - not their Facebook wall - I'm talking about that "meatspace" structure made of bricks in your kitchen. Though not much is known about this strange phenomenon, anthropologists now believe that these physical calendars used to be part of a ritual where in the new year the old calendar is thrown out in favour of a new one - with a huge decision needing to be made about whether the new year was going to be photos of cats, or photos of dogs.

Luckily our society has moved beyond this now - but there is still a choice to be made... on which calendar app to use. Everyone who has used iOS7 knows the default calendar is terrible... so here's four alternatives and a very useful addendum.

It's 2014! Which is exciting, but it also means that the Christmas period is officially over - and so there's no excuse for just sitting on the sofa watching TV. It might also be a good time to get fit - so here's our top five Android fitness apps.

Tinted photo enthusiasts Instagram have today added another string to the popular app's bow - by adding a feature they're calling "Instagram Direct", or private messaging to you and me.

The new feature is exactly what it sounds like - if you take a picture that you'd like to share with only specific individuals or groups of up to 15 people, then you can shoot it or import it as you would with normal Instagram uploads, but then choose who to send the photo to specifically. I don't know about you but I'm 100% sure this will only be used for completely above-board and family-friendly purposes.

Once a photo has been sent, the comments area beneath also becomes like a chat window with push messaging - clearly Instagram have been spooked by the success of Snapchat. Another interesting feature was how it chooses who can send you messages - in order for someone to be able to send a photo, you must be following them (like how Twitter decide DM permissions). Apparently though if you message someone and they don't follow you, you're not just told to go away, like with Twitter, but your message goes into a "Pending Requests" list for the receiver to enable you to send messages.

In a press conference from New York, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom showed it off what a sent Direct message looks like - it turns out that it's a great means of passive-aggressively nagging your partner to buy some dog food:

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And here's how it's supposed to work in full. Here's the selection screen for choosing who to send a picture to:

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Here's the listing of all of your recent Direct messages:

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Here's what a direct request looks like:

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And of course, here's what an actual direct conversation looks like. What's interesting is that your friend's profile picture isn't entirely lit up until they're seen the photo (in which case a green tick appears). If they like the photo - a little red heart icon will be added.
So this seems pretty cool - and is a nice extra for big-time Instagram users.

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The updated app will be available on both the iPhone and Android app stores from today.

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