Tag Archives: gets

Messaging app Telegram gets background media downloads, tweaked UI on Android

WhatsApp rival Telegram has updated its Android mobile app to include new features like automatic downloading of media in the background, better handling of downloads that are interrupted part way through and new vibration patterns. Given Telegram’s focus on privacy (it offers features like auto self-destruct for conversations and encrypted chat sessions), there are a few other tweaks, such as an improved blocking UI and the ability to send a message in the background – meaning it will still be delivered, even if you need to force-close the app. Rounding off the changes is the option to delete bygone profile images…

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Foursquare’s Swarm iOS app gets mayor leaderboards for every check-in, easier sharing and more

Foursquare today released an update to its Swarm app for iOS that now shows mayor leaderboards amongst your friends on every check-in. The app also now includes easier sharing to Facebook and Twitter, faster and more accurate check-ins, and photos from venues. Swarm launched in May in an effort by Foursquare to splinter off check-ins into a standalone app and reserve the main Foursquare app for location discovery. The company also moved to distance itself from the gamification features for which it had become known. For instance, mayorships are now competed within circles of friends, rather than service-wide.      …

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Boinx gets in a party mood with PartySnapper Indiegogo campaign

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 3.25.46 AM
Boinx Software is already well known as a publisher of popular photo software like iStopPhoto, iStopMotion, PhotoMagico, and You Gotta See This. But now, it has turned to the Indiegogo crowd funded route to finance development of a crowd-sourced photo album app called PartySnapper. Think of PartySnapper as a social photo wall to which every guest can contribute their own shots to a central collection. PartySnapper has both a photo taking mode for guests and mode for the host. Whenever a guest takes a shot, it’s wirelessly transmitted to the host’s iPad or iPhone and then added to a slideshow that plays…

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Instagram for iOS app gets a slider for its ‘Lux’ enhancement tool

If you’ve tried the Lux filter in the Instagram for iOS app before, you’ll know that its effects can be quite harsh and overbearing. Today, the app has been updated with a custom slider so that you can tweak the intensity of the effect.

That’s pretty much all there is to it. Once you’ve taken a picture or selected a photo from the Camera Roll, you can tap the Lux icon (denoted by a half-filled sun) and then drag the slider as needed. Moving it to the right increases the vibrance and details in the shot, while moving it to the left reverses the effect.

insta1 Instagram for iOS app gets a slider for its Lux enhancement tool

While Instagram is still considered the go-to mobile app for sharing photos, its editing credentials are being challenged by alternatives such as VSCO Cam, EyeEm and Snapseed. The Lux slider is only a small update for the iOS app, but it’s a welcome one nonetheless. We expect it’ll arrive in the Android app soon.

➤ Instagram | App Store

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Moto X now $339 for students, Moto Maker gets college designs with logos and team names for 40 schools

Motorola today announced it is offering yet another discount for the Moto X: students can now grab an off-contract device for just $ 339 (compared to $ 399 off-contract or $ 49 with a new two year contract). Furthermore, the Moto Maker customization tool now has a College Collection design gallery, featuring pre-configured color combinations as well as logos and team names for 40 schools (and counting):

College Collection Moto X now $ 339 for students, Moto Maker gets college designs with logos and team names for 40 schools

It’s worth noting that the logos are courtesy of clear cases by Uncommon and aren’t actually printed onto your phone. If you don’t see your favorite team, you can mix and match with the new color palette to create the combination you want. In fact, Motorola has added nine new back colors and three new accents to its Moto Maker palette just for the occasion.

Motorola College (valid .edu address required for discount)

See also – Motorola slashes Moto X’s wood finishes from $ 100 to $ 25, reveals three new designs coming January 21 and Motorola stops voiding developer device warranties when owners request unlock codes, reinstates old warranties

Image Credit: Remy Gabalda / Getty Images

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Twitter.com gets new search filters for news, videos, and people you follow

187232512 520x245 Twitter.com gets new search filters for news, videos, and people you follow

The Web version of Twitter has new search filters that let you restrict your searches to photos, videos, news, people you follow, and nearby locations.

Screen Shot 2014 01 29 at 10.58.27 AM 730x563 Twitter.com gets new search filters for news, videos, and people you follow

The ability to limit a search to only people you follow is particularly useful, as I often find myself searching my timeline for a tweet I saw earlier.

Twitter revealed the new features today with a tweet, but it’s not clear exactly when the filters began rolling out. Earlier filters let you specify whether you were searching for photos or people.

The official iOS and Android Twitter apps got new search filters last November. Twitter’s Advanced Search feature still exists for those who need the extra search operator functions.

Photo credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

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Obamacare Mental Health Coverage Gets Funding Boost from HHS

obamacare mental healthIn an effort to support the new Obamacare mental health mandates requiring all insurance companies to cover mental healthcare and substance use disorders, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced plans to provide $ 50 million in funding to assist Community Health Centers either establish or expand services for people who struggle with mental illness and/or drug and alcohol abuse issues.

These funds will be used to expand programs in about 200 health centers across the country and will go to cover the costs of hiring more mental health and substance use disorder professionals and to increase the number of services they can offer to people with mental health and substance abuse conditions. Currently, many people have mental health and substance use disorders that respond to treatment but they are not able to access care.

ObamaCare Mental Health Parity

One of the major goals of the Affordable Care Act is to reduce the barriers that can prevent people from getting treatment for mental health issues. Obamacare mental health coverage provisions require insurance companies to cover mental health and substance use disorders in the same way they cover other medical conditions. This is known as parity and the protections afforded to consumers fall under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

Under the Parity Act, which includes details about how Obamacare and mental health conditions relate, people who need services for mental health conditions or substance use disorders will:

  • Pay the same copay and coinsurance as they would for physical health services.
  • Have the same limits on mental health-related inpatient or outpatient visits as are placed on physical health-related inpatient or outpatient visits.
  • Have the same rules for care management of mental health or substance use disorders as they have for physical health conditions.

The main point of the Parity Act is to ensure insurance companies do not place more stringent rules on mental health care conditions than on other medical issues not related to mental health. This was often the case before the Obamcare mental health provisions were passed, making it more expensive and difficult to access mental healthcare benefits. In addition, health insurance companies are now required to disclose how mental health conditions are covered so consumers can compare those benefits with their physical healthcare benefits to make informed decisions.

Approximately 60 million Americans will benefit from this law, with 30.4 million Americans who currently have some mental healthcare benefits getting expanded coverage and 32.1 million Americans who will gain coverage for the first time. It is possible the numbers might be even higher once more people begin to seek treatment for illnesses that have not previously been diagnosed. Moreover, since health insurance companies are no longer able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, consumers will be able to access health care for mental health and substance use disorders that have already been diagnosed but may have not been treated until now.

It is important to note that the Parity Act does not force insurance companies to cover mental health or substance use disorder benefits. Those requirements fall under the Obamacare mental health provisions in the Affordable Care Act. The Parity Act only outlines the coverage requirements if a plan does cover mental health and substance use disorder benefits. Most health insurance plans, though, will cover these benefits beginning in 2014.

2014 Fiscal Year Budget Provisions

With the passage of the 2014 Fiscal Year Budget, Obamacare mental health coverage is affected in several ways:

  • Funds necessary for the timely implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which includes the mandatory coverage of mental health and substance use disorders.
  • Finalized regulations that guarantee mental health conditions will be covered the same as any other illness.
  • A $ 130 million initiative that is aimed at helping teachers identify signs of mental illness in students so they can refer them to Obamacare mental health services. This initiative will also support efforts to improve mental health outcomes for young people and provide funds to train 5,000 additional mental health professionals that will specialize in treating students and young adults.
  • $ 3.8 billion in funds to develop or expand mental health services offered through community-based health centers.
  • Increase incentives for mental health professionals to provide services in communities that are most in need. Obamacare mental health funds have tripled the size of the National Health Service Corps, which offers scholarships and loans to health care professionals who make a commitment to practice in communities that have high incidents of mental health and substance abuse disorders.

To assist consumers with mental health-related issues, the federal government has also launched a new user-friendly website to provide information about mental health conditions and their symptoms, how to get help and how to discuss mental health issues with others. This website is www.mentalhealth.gov and is available now.

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Motivational app Lift gets complete overhaul to help you achieve your goals

 Motivational app Lift gets complete overhaul to help you achieve your goals

Late in 2012, Lift, a Obvious Co. backed company launched a new application with the simple aim to help people achieve their goals. One year on, the company has announced a sizeable update to its platform — Lift 2.0 — which integrates a lot of lessons learnt over that time.

In the update — which is dubbed “Lift 2.0″ — the company has introduced new goal types that allow the user to track goal progress as before but have also added an in-app coach to help motivate them by cheering them on as well as offering tips.

2013 12 22 06.49.46 Motivational app Lift gets complete overhaul to help you achieve your goalsThe three new goal types are health plans (such as starting a new diet), fitness plans (such as learning to run) and guided instruction (such as learning to play guitar). Each comes with a coach that runs the program, helping users stick to their goals.

The company believes that the added motivation of a coach on top of the already active community will truly help users of the app to keep to their goals much easier than they would on their own.

Lift 2.0 also adds finish lines to goals. Rather than leaving goals open ended, all goals in the updated version now have an end date defined so that users have something to shoot for.

The company found that with its first version there was a treadmill effect, which makes sense since goal setters had nothing set in stone to show when they reached a goal. Assumably, this made them less likely to continue attempting it over a longer period of time.

Finally, the update taps into the already extremely active Lift community to add tips and discussion directly to goals. Instead of a standalone activity feed, Lift 2.0 adds discussion directly to goals. This helps users to engage with those that are like minded, encouraging discussion about the goal and ultimately looks to help users complete their goals by connecting them with others who are doing the same challenge.

These changes are big ones for the company; it has had to remove some functionality that was extremely popular in order to emphasise the new goal tracking features. The largest of these is the removal of giving ‘props’ (a simple encouragement, similar to a ‘like’) to strangers which was extremely popular in the previous version of the app.2013 12 22 07.16.30 Motivational app Lift gets complete overhaul to help you achieve your goals

Apparently, when strangers were propping users it was not particularly beneficial for the user and only made a “minimal” impact on the user that was attempting a goal.

Lift CEO, Tony Stubblebine, says that “Every part of [Lift 2.0] has made me more successful” and that despite the app adding finish dates for goals it is still “supportive of long term tracking” too. All of these new features amount to a new program that the company will be running monthly to help users achieve new goals.

The first of these is the Quantified Diet project. In partnership UC Berkeley and Stanford, Lift is “challenging the diet industry’s fuzzy claims about what diets actually work” by conducting an experiment to see which diets are most effective using the app. From Janaury 1, users will be able to sign up and be randomly assigned one of ten diets to try (users can also choose one if they wish) and then will use the app to stick to the diet over 30 days and track progress.

It’s clear that Lift is serious about helping users achieve goals but there’s no indication yet of how it’ll monetize since the app is currently free. Perhaps, eventually these coach driven goals will be in-app purchases for those that want additional motivation. The company is actively experimenting with ways to monetize their service but hasn’t decided on a strategy yet, according to an answer on Quora.

For now, Lift is completely free on the iOS and Android app stores. It takes three weeks to form a new habit, so get started now!

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