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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.

A new email app has launched today aiming to make email a more tolerable experience. Inbox Cube's main focus is on attachments - and making the experience of handling them much nicer... but can it make old fashioned email a more pleasant, modern, experience?

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Email has been around for 20 years now, and compared to some of the other communication tools we have at our disposal, like Skype and Facebook, it looks a little old - I mean, you can't use it to video chat, and there's no native support for Bitstrips? If email was a person, it'd be an 80 year old cotton-loom enthusiast with some not entirely politically correct views with regard to immigration. Not really the sort of person you want to leave in charge of anything.

It does have one thing going for it though - universality. Unlike the closed and corporate-controlled modern systems we use, email has no single owner who can decide what is allowed - and even more crucially: everyone uses it. Whilst you don't need to be on Twitter, and you can (just about) get away with not having a Facebook account - if you're going to exist on the internet, you need an email address.

So can anything be done to make email's user experience any better? Are there any apps that can make the experience better?

Gmail

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Perhaps the first big leap in making email tolerable was the launch of Gmail in 2004 (though it only became widely available in 2007) - which introduced things we now take for granted like threaded conversations, so your emails would not be a great big list but would have some semblance of order.

A few years later Google released a Gmail app - which was especially welcomed by iPhone users, who previously had been forced to use Apple's hideous built-in mail app. One thing that the Gmail app did nicely - and beware, I'm about to praise Google+ - is draw in wider metadata, such as profile pictures - to make your email listing make more sense.

Mailbox

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Last year there was another revolution in mobile at least email - at least according to our survey (me). Mailbox takes your Gmail account and makes it useful by helping you achieve the elusive goal of "Inbox Zero". To do this it combines some super-easy swipe gestures (swipe right a bit archive, all the way to delete), with some powerful ("hide this until later") functionality. If you swipe left, you can choose to hide an email until you really do need to deal with it - telling it to come back on Monday, at the weekend, on a given date, in a month, and so on.

And here's the weird thing: out of sight, out of mind really does work - when you hit zero, even if it an illusion, it feels incredibly liberating!

Inbox Cube

Finally, what about this new kid on the block? Inbox Cube is a new app for managing your email that is all about attachments. With a few taps you can browse through photo attachments like a slideshow, and you can sort your emails by attachment - with previews to scroll through so you can find exactly what you're looking for.

Add in some powerful functionality to go back to the email the attachment is from, and you're looking at a tool that has made your inbox not a jungle of information, but an organised filing cabinet. Yet this might sound more boring than a jungle, but at least you'll be able to find that damn photo at last.

Here's the video they've released showing off the features of the new app:

The Future

So what is the future of email? Clearly augmenting the basic function has been done before - but I wonder if we'll move towards a situation like we've seen with SMS text messages, where apps like Google Hangouts and iOS Messages have attempted to subvert the original system - sending direct, richer content, messages without going through the original email system at all?

Don't email us with your thoughts... post them in the comments below!

Top 10 Free Christmas Apps for Android

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Yesterday we covered iOS apps, but today is the turn of Android - as Christmas hurtles towards us, what can you do on your phone to make the mood a little more seasonal? Here's our pick of ten free Christmas apps for Android.

10 Christmas apps to enhance the festive season

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Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat... so you should probably think about getting it a Nike Fuelband or a Fitbit for Christmas. But even if you can't, technology can still enhance the festive season thanks to the power of apps. Here's our pick of ten of the best.

5 Things iPhone should steal from Windows Phone

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Let's face it - when it comes to mobile there's only two major players. Apple's iOS and Google's Android together dominate the phone market - and anyone who wants to pretend that Windows phone or even old man Blackberry stand a chance are either deluded or working for those companies respective PR departments. But that doesn't that they never have any good ideas.

Whilst I'd hesitate to recommend switching to Windows Mobile for the time being, due to a chronic lack of apps (see here to read me banging on about ecosystems), the Windows 8 mobile operating system does have some good idea. So here's some ideas I'd like to see iOS pinch - so that they can be used by everyone, and not just the contrarian in the room with his weird phone.

Hang_With.jpg.jpgMedl Mobile, an American software firm, today announced the release of Hang W/ 2.0, a noteworthy update that sports a host of new features - including the ability to stream live video from mobile to Facebook.

Thanks to this update, users of the iOS app will be able to stream live video from Hang w/ to their Facebook wall, allowing their friends to join in the fun and share the video.

Other features include: improved video and audio quality; hashtags to allow for custom content channels and deeper Twitter integration; 3, 6 and 9 minute broadcasting options; simplified archives for easier access; as well as a new robust moderation/monitoring platform.

"The mobile social market is growing rapidly," said Andrew Maltin, CEO. "Live streaming represents an entirely new category and we have our eyes set on being the category innovator and the market leader. Hang w/ 2.0 is our second major step in that direction."

The updated version of the application is now available to download for free from the Apple App Store, with an Android version currently in development.

Sky have today announced the addition of fourteen more entertainment channels to it's Sky Go mobile TV service. The app, which is available to Sky customers so they can watch TV live or on-demand on their phones now sports a total of 57 channels - 40 entertainment channels, 6 sports, and 11 movie channels.

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Additions include the ironically named TLC ("The Learning Channel") which shows the likes of Beauty and the Geek Australia (really, guys?), and the "History" channel, which astonishingly, seems to have become even worse than when I last watched it a few years ago, when it was basically wall-to-wall documentaries about conspiracy theories.

But Gold is being added too, so hey, at least you won't be lacking Only Fools & Horses on your mobile device.

The full list of new channels is as follows: MTV, Comedy Central, Gold, Watch, Dave, Alibi, Nat Geo, Nat Geo Wild, Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, History, Good Food and Eden.

These join a lineup that includes other familiar Sky names, including Sky 1, Sky Atlantic, Film4, Sky Living and many more.

Sky Go is available on a number of platforms - from mobile, and tablet, to Xbox 360 and your trusty old laptop.

Tado Heating App Review - a warm reception!

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Whilst we've got used to upgrading our phones, computers and games consoles every couple of years, one piece of tech that always remains the same is the thermostat. I mean, why would you need to change it? Thermostats are boring, right?

Not any more - the Tado Heating App has just launched in the UK and it looks set to make your life a whole lot better.

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What Tado does is hook up your heating to your home internet connection - enabling you to control it using an app. But it does so much more too. No more freezing cold mornings, no more uncomfortable nights when you forget to turn the temperature down before you went to bed - and no more staring with bewilderment at that weird dial on the boiler to figure out how to make it switch on at the right time.

The Hardware and Installation

Tado has been around for a couple of years in Germany, but the latest version launching here is newly redesigned for the UK market. Inside the box there's a few different components: the Tado thermostat itself, a separate temperature monitor and a receiver unit that plugs into one of the wired ethernet slots on your home router (it doesn't use your normal wifi).

Obviously the biggest challenge is going to be installing it. Originally, the plan was for Tado owners to install it themselves - apparently 95% of owners in Germany were able to do it singlehandedly. The Tado people tell me though that they've changed their plans for the UK, and will be offering professional installation to buyers - apparently thermostats over here operate on a much higher voltage, thus increasing the risk of death if someone like me starts poking around with a screwdriver.

Once the difficult bit at the wall has been installed (probably by an electrician) setup is nice and easy. Simply login to the Tado website with the username and password provided in the box, plug the receiver unit into your router and it'll call home and guide you through the setup process.

What's really nice about what you get in the box is that they've thought of everything. Not only do you get provided with a current-detecting screwdriver (in case you do want to have a go yourself), but you even get tab stickers to label the wires in the wall with - so if you move house and want to take your Tado with you, you can put your old thermostat back on the wall with ease. The separate temperature monitor is a good idea too. The thermostat box does contain a temperature gauge in it - though obviously if your thermostat is right above your radiator then this isn't terribly useful. So you can put this extra device somewhere more representative of your overall room temperature.

What the Tado uses this for is for automating the temperature - switching the boiler off if your house is already warm, rather than pumping more heat in. Which is great for use in summer, or if you have, say, a fireplace that can heat the room but not talk to the boiler. (They haven't invented wifi log fire places yet, alas).

The App

tadoapp.pngSo that's how it's put together - but how does it actually work? When you've downloaded and installed the app on your iPhone or Android smartphone, you start by setting your optimal temperatures for daytime and night - and the hours in which you sleep. This means that without you having to do anything, Tado will know to let you sleep at a cool 16 degrees, before heating things up so you can eat breakfast at a toasty 22 celsius.

"But my boring thermostat can already do that", I hear you cry. But this is where things only get started.

Not only does Tado have the real time feedback of a temperature gauge in the device figuring out how warm it actually is, and not just what it should be - but thanks to the power of the internet, it knows what the weather is going to be like too. So if it's already going to be warm and sunny out, it won't waste energy on your boiler - but will let the sun do all of the hard work instead.

Even cooler than this (umm, pun not intended) is that because the app is running on your phone, you can enable presence detection. This means that Tado will know if your home or not - and if you're not it can turn the heat down to save both money and the environment. It's even clever enough to figure out when you're heading home and switch things up before you even step in the front door. And don't worry if you have multiple people in the house - simply install the app on everyone's phone and the Tado will make sure they don't freeze to death.

There's also controls to easily toggle manual mode, and you can even switch everything off for when you go on holiday - with the Tado keeping things at 5 degrees, so your pipes won't freeze.

It even gives you a breakdown of projected costs and savings on your heating bills. And you can even see your usage as some nice graphs. Great!

The app is super slick, works great, but isn't 100% perfect though. I found rather quickly that I had to switch the presence detection mode off as it was draining my iPhone 4S (the GPS arrow symbol never quite switched off fully). But I'm optimistic a fix to this can be found. What's absolutely crucial to remember is that a minor niggle like this can be amended through an update to the app - which is easy for Tado to do. The hard bit - connecting the thermostat to the internet - has already been done, and never needs to be messed with again.

The Verdict

So is it worth getting a Tado? Interestingly in the UK they're selling it in two ways: You can buy the kit outright for £249, or rent the kit from them for £6/month - with a "guaranteed £10/month savings" on bills. So confident are Tado that they'll even give you a refund if you're not getting these savings after a year.

Usually the price comparison is going to be with other devices - a normal thermostat is around £20... but... you've already got a thermostat. Is it really worth replacing?

I've give an emphatic yes. Not only is Tado a thoroughly accomplished product for something so new, but if you're anything like me then your mind is filling with possibilities. I'm personally hoping that they link up Tado with Ifttt.com - the enables you to cleverly link different services (eg, "if someone tags me on Facebook, download the photo to my Dropbox). Imagine if it'd be possible to hook up your Tado with your Belkin Wemo Motion Detector (also supported by Ifttt) - and use that to trigger the presence detection? Imagine if it could hook up with your Google Calendar, so could figure out exactly where you'll be and whether your house needs heating!

Thanks to Tado, thermostats have just got a whole lot smarter - and the possibilities are only just starting to heat up!

ps4-app.jpgVery excited about the launch of Sony's PlayStation 4 later this month? Well you can whet your appetite a little by downloading Sony's new PlayStation app for iOS and Android which has just the respective app stores.

The exciting part is that the new PS4 enables second screen content so you will be able to interact with the game through your mobile. This might be a game map or some extra control options - it is obviously down to the developers. You can also use the app to buy games which will then be ported to your console.

The app also has PSN chat as well as and you can use the app to control the console which is every useful for things like harnessing your phone's keyboard rather than the one on the controller.

The app is very similar on both iOS and Android and is designed to have the look and feel of the new console.

Netflix have announced a major update to pretty much all of their TV apps - bringing new visuals and details, as well as improved recommendations and device-specific functionality.

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The first thing you'll notice in the update is the improved visuals. More space on the screen has been devoted to descriptions, and it will also display relevant graphics rather than just the "DVD cover" image. If you want to browse to a specific episode of a TV show, then there's now full screen listings - with specific relevant imagery for each episode. There's also updates to the "post-play" screen that appears when the credits roll and have further viewing recommendations. Nothing revolutionary - but certainly a nice addition.

Perhaps more crucial is the roll-out in support for Netflix profiles across all devices - so that different members of the family can watch whatever they want on their tablet, but then continue on watching on the TV. There's also support across all of the updated platforms for the kids-specific section, which was previously only available in a couple of places. Again - great for families.

Recommendations have also improved - apparently it will explain why a certain title is being recommended to you - whether it's because you watched certain other films, or because your Facebook friend watched it, and so on.

Interesting too is the device-specific upgrades. Kinect owners will be pleased to hear that the Xbox 360 app will now support voice commands - and there's also support for "pointers", on the various smart TVs that support them.

The update will be coming to Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Roku 3, and "new and future" Blu-Ray Players and Smart TVs. Apparently an update for Roku 2 will also receive an update early next year.

Have you ever collapsed into bed after a long day, ready to fall asleep as soon as you hit the pillow... only to realise that - damnit - you've left that lamp on downstairs? I'm not sure this even qualifies as a #firstworldproblem, so much as it is a #sheerlazinessfrustration - but it's a frustration nonetheless!

You may remember our feature on making your home smarter a week or so ago. We tried to list some of the ways that household gadgets are now beginning to connect up to the internet - but there was one gap. What about electrical plugs?

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Luckily Belkin have stepped in and have, umm, plugged that gap. WeMo is a range of devices that all connect to your wifi network - enabling you to control them with your phone.

At the moment they have two devices available. The Wemo Switch sits in between your plug socket and something you want to plug into it (say, a lamp), and the Wemo Motion Sensor plugs into another socket and can be used to control the switch.

Setting Up

Setup is super easy - and literally takes seconds. First thing you need to do is download the Wemo App to your smartphone (iPhone or Android - sadly there's no iPad support yet, but the iPhone app will work on the iPad jumbo-sized).

Next, simply plug the Wemo device into a socket and then use your phone to connect to the wifi network that it generates. Head back into the Wemo app and it'll detect the new device and let you name it ("Living Room Lamp") - and even add a photo of the device, and then it's just a case of selecting your actual wifi network from the list and giving it your passcode, and then you're done!

What's really nice is that if you set up a second device on the same app, you won't have to re-enter your Wifi password for the second device, as it will remember. Which sounds trivial but is a blessed relief when your wifi password is a long string of letters and numbers, and being read off of the tiny text on the back of a router!

Features

The Wemo app is where all of the magic happens. The main screen on the app is simply a list of your devices with a big on/off switch so you've got a quick and easy way of toggling devices (for when you're lying in bed and want to switch the lights off).

You can also set up more complex behaviours though. For example, you can setup rules to toggle things on a timer - so automatically switch on your lights when you wake up, and switch them off again when you go to bed. Wemo is even clever enough to toggle stuff based on the timing of sunrise and sunset - adjusting automatically throughout the year.

Here's where you can also make use of the motion sensor. The sensor plug itself has a lead on it that connects to a small dongle (about two thirds the size of an egg, for lack of a better reference point) - so you don't have to make sure your plug socket is uncovered. This sensor can then be mounted where convenient to point at the room.

It's then possible to create rules that involve the motion sensor - so switch on a lamp if it can detect someone is in the room, and switch it off after 15 minutes of inactivity - that sort of thing. It's super easy to do - and very clever too.

What's cool is that once setup, you don't just have to be at home to use the app - you can trigger switches remotely with it connected when connected via 3G. This means we're now living in a world when you could conceivably switch on your toaster in London all the way from New Zealand. (Though this might also risk burning down your house).

There's an added security benefit for motion detection too - you can simply use it to sense when people are in the room. So Wemo can notify you if any burglars have got in - or perhaps more usefully, whether your kids have got home from school or not yet.

Ifttt Integration

My favourite thing about Wemo is that it integrates with Ifttt. For those unaware, Ifttt is a clever service that enables you to hook up lots of different web services you may use. So, for example, you can automatically download photos of you tagged on Facebook to your Dropbox - or have it text you if it's going to rain.

What Wemo does is open it up to even more possibilities. For example - you can trigger your switches on and off by sending an email, or even a tweet containing a certain hashtag. You can also work it in reverse - so if your motion sensor picks something up, it could trigger an entry into a Google Drive spreadsheet (I wonder if you could set the sensor up to point at the catflap?). Whilst none of this seems immediately useful - this is definitely an exciting possibility to the future, and it's only a matter of time before there's some cool Ifttt recipes to use with Wemo.

Coming Soon

This isn't all we've got for Wemo. Next year Belkin plan to launch the Wemo light switch in Europe. It's been out in America for a while, but apparently there's a trickiness in adapting the switches for the various European voltage standards before it can be released over here.

The light switch is what it sounds like - same technology, but for the lights in the ceiling and not just stuff plugged in at the wall. We hope to give this a try when it's possible to do so too.

The Verdict

We're now living in a world where your plugs can have IP addresses - and this is no bad thing. The Wemo Switch can make the most menial tasks easier - and could potentially be energy saving too (how many more people would turn everything off properly at night if it was a single button press away?).

Crucially the price-point is moderately attractive - at £39.99 for a plug it's not going to break the bank. So it's definitely recommended - especially if you want your home to be a little more space-age!

6 techie ways to avoid the next big storm!

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Last night the country was ravaged by the storm nicknamed St Jude. Trees were downed, garden furniture was wobbled and it was really rather windy and horrible out. So what can you to make sure you avoid the bad weather? Here's five techie suggestions.

itunesradio.jpgSome interesting rumours from Bloomberg this morning. It claims that Apple is set to bring its iTunes Radio service to the Uk (and Australia and New Zealand) in early 2014.

As you may remember iTunes Radio is a service that is integrated into iTunes and iOS7 software - if you are in the uS - which basically analyses your music tastes and then rustles up some tunes it thinks you will like.

The service is quite customisable too, so you can set it to just play stuff you know, or instead focus on discovering new music. You can personalise it more too by pressing the incorporated Play More Like This or Never Play This Song tabs.There are also some existing radio stations thrown in and the service is free and supported by ads.

Apple does need to get a move on as iTunes Radio already has plenty of rivals in the UK including Spotify which celebrated its fifth birthday yesterday. Another rival, Pandora, is also expected to launch over here in the spring too.

If you want a bit of a comparison between the services and to work out whether you are going to benefit from iTunes Radio click here.

Spin_Gathering_2_iPad.jpgThese days it takes quite a lot to get me excited about an iOS app. However I can realy see the potential of Spin a brand new app for both iPad and iPhone that has launched this week. It is an app that might just take video communication via phones and tablets to a new level.

On one level it is a video chatting app that enables the user to chat to a group of people. The difference between Spin and say Skype is that the unlike other video-chatting apps such as Skype, is that Spin presents each person in the conversation in a square which can be moved around the screen. It works superbly on the iPad, less well on the titchy screen of the iPhone. However the smart bit is that it lets the users do so much more such as sharing video or image content.

In this way Spin lets you easily access Facebook and Flickr photos or YouTube videos which you can then shares with up to nine other people. So for example you could share holiday snaps with you entire family or share your latest music video with a posse of your fans.

There's also some interactivity options too so you can throw paper aeroplanes at people or send them visual messages.

The company is also taking the high ground in terms of quality claiming its HD visuals and 44kHz audio are superior to its rivals.

The platforms works seamlessly on the iPad but does highlight the limitations of the small screen of the iPhone. Hopefully an Android version is imminent so we can see how it works on the Galaxy Note and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra.

It is available for free from here, but sadly only if you have access to the US app store.

Facebook launches iOS app update

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Downloaded iOS 7 to your iPhone yet? If so then check out Facebook which has just launched an iOS app update.

The revamped app, called Facebook 6.5, includes a new menu at the bottom of the app which Facebook says makes it easier to navigate. You can switch from News Feed to your friend requests, Messages or Notifications by tapping along the bottom of the screen.

The More tab" on the bottom right also offer access to options like Timeline, groups, events and more.

backtrack-breathalyser.jpgNeed to know how much alcohol is in your body after a bit of drinking session? Well there's an app that's admittedly paired with a device for that. Firefox has unveiled the BACtrack iPhone Breathalyser . which it claims is the first Blood Alcohol Content trackers that works with a mobile phone. It basically measures how inebriated our area from a single breath and then via Bluetooth sends the details to your IPhone or iPad.

So why do you need this? Well if you are driving anywhere you really ought not to go near the sauce, but I guess if you want to monitor your alcohol consumption and the impact that it is having on your body then this is a useful system. The app apparently not only gives you an insight into your alcohol levels it stores your readings allowing you to track you BAC levels over time and to view your habits throughout one particular night, or the past few weeks.

You can also let the world know you have been drinking via Facebook and Twitter, updates that I assume your boss will find fascinating should you be drinking on a 'school night'

It is yours for £150 from here.

samsung-galaxy-gear-smartwatch2.jpgIf you were intrigued by the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch but a bit disappointed that it only worked with one phone - the Note 3 - and not the S4 you splashed the cash on a few months back, we may have some good news.

Cnet is reporting that a Korean news site Daum is suggesting that version two of the phone is in the pipeline and will arrive next year. And among the many enhancements are that it will work with a wider range of phones. The site says that the second iteration of the watch could be unveiled at CES in January

This is not an especially surprising move. It was massively important for Samsung to get there first with the smartwatch ahead of Apple. However by limiting its distribution Samsung could gauge reaction to the watch's launch as well buy a bit of development time before it made the device more widely available.

It is clear that the Gear is nowhere near the finished product. It might have some interesting and innovative features such as the apps and the camera, but I wonder if the Gear is really just a prototype to establish the market sector with the more finished device following next year.

Samsung might also look at the price too. Samsung, like Apple, is keen to lock consumers into sticking with its mobiles and if you buy a watch that works with a certain brand's phone then you are likely to stay with that brand when it comes to an upgrade. So maybe Samsung will reduce that rather aggressive $300 price too.

Here's why the smartwatch battle is so important to both Samsung and Apple.

baby-apps-main.jpgGillian who writes A Baby on Board, a blog all about London life as a new mum, shares her five favourite iPhone apps that might prove lifesavers to parents of young children

Congratulations, you're going to be a parent! The good news for modern mums and dads is that there are mobile apps to cover every conceivable stage of the childhood journey: from fertility calendars through to baby monitors and school activity planners. And while they can't get up in the middle of the night for you to change a nappy, apps can be helpful, entertaining and just really useful when you have a baby.

So what are the best iPhone phone apps for parents? Here's our top five:

YouTube - free
It seems like a simple option, but YouTube is an absolute parenting savour. You can guarantee that you will be able to find clips of most children's cartoons and programmes that will keep them entertained on long car journeys or when they wake up for the day at 5am. As well as the usual kids TV suspects, there's also a whole host of weirdness that little ones seem to love: from Kinder Surprise opening clips, to the annoyingly catchy Gummi Bear song, and Susan Boyle's first TV audition (my daughter's interesting current favourite).

The Wonder Weeks - £1.49
Not a fan of parenting books in general, and run screaming at the mere mention of Gina Ford? Well, The Wonder Weeks app might be for you. It's a baby development calendar that is
is almost spookily accurate at predicting which weeks your baby is likely to be upset, along with some gentle suggestions as to how you can help them. The app is the handy form of the bestselling book, and includes a progress chart that will tell you at a glance if your child is under a dark cloud (bad) or a sun (good!). No naughty steps are involved.

GoBaby London - £1.49
Described as a 'map app for parents on the go' GoBaby helps London mums and dads find the nearest accessible tube stops and friendly baby-change facilities. Designed and developed by a new mum after she found it difficult to get around the city with a pram, the app lists over 1,000 places including cafes, restaurants, libraries, museums and shops to help you find the nearest baby changing places when you're out and about. There's also a comprehensive guide to step-free London transport stations as well as live transport updates, to help make your journey as tear-free as it can be when you have a baby on board.

BBC iPlayer - free
Parents, what are the chances that you'll actually get to sit down to watch TV in the evening, exactly when you want to? In all probability you will plan to watch a programme, then the baby will wake up and you will miss it. The mobile version of BBC's iPlayer means you will be able to play TV catch-up, in your own time. wherever you are - in bed, walking round the house, or trapped on the sofa under a sleeping child.

Twitter - free
Again, a simple and seemingly obvious app suggestion. But parenting can be confusing, amusingly frustrating, and at times, lonely. And Twitter is a fantastic source of advice, solace and entertainment. It's a simple and instant way of reaching out and talking to other parents, asking for opinions and first-hand recommendations on everything from nappy cream to the best white noise app. If you're up in the night at 2am you can guarantee that someone else will be too, and right there to chat to.

What's been your must-have parenting app? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Here's a highly useful bit of the web that has been surfacing a lot on social media recently so I thought it was worth another plug. It seems that those smart people at WMFU station - it is apparently a radio station in New York - have been messing around with Pink Floyd's seminal Dark Side of the Moon album and stripped it down to some of its core parts.

So if you are a but musically minded and fancy mixing a few things together you can create your own slice of Dark Side-esque space rock using say the pedal guitar from Eclipse alongside the bits of speech that pepper the album. You'll probably end up with 'Ok Computer.'*

Give it a try...

It is here.

* Just kidding Radiohead fans

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