“Popcorn Buzz, ” a free Android app, lets you talk to 200 friends at once using either your phone’s Wi-Fi or cellular connection. To set it up, you send your friends a link. Or if you’re already using “Line,” an app owned by the same company, you can access your existing friend list.
“Kijini,” expected out in July, is a free app for Android and iPhone that analyzes your personality by listening to your voice. The company is also working on an app that can tell if you have cancer by listening to your voice. They claim their desktop version has been used successfully in clinical trials with 45,000 people over the last 25 years. More info at Kijini.com.
— “Permissions.” One of the scariest things about downloading an app today is having to tap “Accept” to give the app permission over a dozen different areas. That won’t happen with M. The app will only ask permission for something when it needs it.
— “Doze” notices when your phone is at rest and shuts down unnecessary programs running in the background. According to Google, this makes the battery last 50 percent longer before a recharge.
— “Android Pay” is now more like “Apple Pay.” It’s easier to use. After signing up with a credit card, you can buy things by holding your phone against a Near Field Communications sensor, like those at Whole Foods, McDonalds, Macy’s, Subway, Staples, Best Buy, etc.
— “Now on Tap” brings Google searches inside other apps. For example, if someone texts you that they’re looking for “Greater Pewee,” and you wonder if they’re looking for a restroom, hold down the home button and the app will look it up for you. Turns out it’s the name of a bird.
A friend of ours lost all her favorite pages on the web even though she bookmarked them. It happened when her husband restored her computer back to its factory defaults. Sure the computer is fast, but what about all that stuff that took many hours to find?
First off, this should never happen to users of the Google Chrome or Firefox web browsers. Saved bookmarks are stored on their computers, not yours; when you sign in, you’ll see your bookmarks no matter what computer you’re using.
Unfortunately for our buddy in the suburbs, she was using Internet Explorer for her browser, and those bookmarks are now on their way to a distant star. Here’s what to do to prevent that happening to you. Export your bookmarks and save them to a thumb drive or email them to yourself. That way you’ll have them ready to import to a new computer. If you Google the words “export bookmarks,” you’ll find detailed instructions for every browser.
“Twenty-Five Unearthly Places You Won’t Believe Exist,” has some great nature photography. They weren’t unbelievable but they were remarkable.
“Smarter Every Day” is a YouTube channel for practical experiments. In one, a guy changed a bicycle’s handlebars so that steering left made it go right and vice versa. It took him eight months to learn how to ride again. Switching the handlebar directions on a child’s bicycle took the child only two weeks to readjust. Go to YouTube.com and search on “smarter every day.”
Hospitals.OnlyBoth.com compares hospitals across the nation and shows where they could improve. The data comes from the federal government.
We started in the west, where Joy’s mother was admitted for a stroke many years ago. Out of 4,813 hospitals, it had the sixth lowest rating in how long a stroke patient has to wait in the emergency room before being seen by a doctor. Only three percent of stroke patients saw a doctor within 45 minutes, compared to 65 percent on average for all other hospitals.
Next we turned to a Chicago suburban hospital that got the worst rating among 4,813 in the category “serious blood clots forming after surgery.” The national average is 4 percent. This hospital’s rate is 17 percent.
St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester had the seventh highest rate of unplanned readmissions for stroke patients, 17 percent, compared to an average of 14 percent.
The “OnlyBoth” site was built by a company that created Vivisimo.com, one of our favorite search engines from a decade ago; it was acquired by IBM in 2012.
A reader wondered how much data his smart phone would use, with GPS running the whole time, on a road trip to Florida. First the good news: The GPS system doesn’t use data. Now the bad news: Downloading maps does.
One way to avoid data charges is to get a free app called “CoPilot GPS,” which currently has over 14 million users. (We wrote about it once before, but didn’t realize how crucial it was for saving data charges — since we’re on an unlimited data plan, but with very few talk-minutes.) After you install the app, download the region or country you’re interested in. Now you’re ready to see maps and directions offline. You don’t need any cellular or Internet connection to make this work.
The free version shows your car’s progress with a green line on the map. If you go off course, the directions will re-route you. The $10 version of the app gives you voice directions. Tap “Points of Interest” to find restaurants, hotels, and the local attractions. If you need more help to figure it out, go to YouTube.com and search on “How to Use the App Copilot GPS to Avoid Data Charges.”