Must-Know Google Pixel 2 Features

Most gadget experts and stores that sell cell-phone units recommend the Google Pixel 2. Along with its plus-size version, the Pixel XL 2, these Google devices are considered to be the best smartphones available today. The Google Pixel 2 is an excellent addition to the current lineup of Android-powered phones as it provides a variety of impressive features and remarkable hardware.

If you already own a Pixel 2 or are planning to get one, here are a handful of its underrated features and some helpful tricks to ensure you make the best use of the smartphone.

Calibrate the “At a Glance” Widget

The Galaxy Pixel 2 has an exclusive feature called At a Glance. It’s a widget located on the top-right part of the phone’s home screen. It shows a variety of information such as weather details, traffic updates, and calendar appointments. The widget offers customization options, albeit only a couple, so you can personalize it to your liking. To do so:

  • Choose a blank part on your phone’s home screen.
  • Long press it until the Home Settings and At a Glance option pop up.
  • Configure the settings for calendar events and other details according to your preferences.
  • Save your customized content.

For the time being, the option to reposition the widget is still unavailable, unless you install a different launcher.

Activate the Split Screen

Much like any other Android smartphone, the Galaxy Pixel 2 virtually enables you to do your own thing. You can customize the settings to your specifications. You can load as many apps as you want. You can even run multiple apps simultaneously. Pixel 2 users, in particular, can activate split-screen view to start multitasking. To power up this feature:

  • Launch the Recents key. It’s the square key located at the bottom-right side of the navigation bar.
  • Double tap the key to roll out the last two apps you’ve used.
  • Long press the icon until the screen horizontally splits into two. The top part will launch the most recent app you’ve opened. You can choose another app for the bottom part of the split screen. It must be noted, though, that the app you choose should already be running in the background.
  • Long press the icon again to return to full screen.

Not all apps work on split screen but plenty enough do, and the feature makes multitasking so much easier.

Customize the Display Mode

Both the Galaxy Pixel 2 and 2 XL offer several unique display modes that enable users to personalize the on-screen colors of their smartphone. If you prefer a different display mode other than the preset OLED screen, there are more options available. To personalize your display mode:

  • Launch the phone’s Settings.
  • Tap Display.
  • Choose Advanced to show more options.
  • Tap Colors. You’ll get three color choices: Natural, Boosted, and Saturated. Natural is the default color scheme. Boosted is sRGB with added 10% saturation. Saturated has the most intense color scheme.
  • Choose the display mode you want and then click Save.


For die-hard Android users, the Galaxy Pixel 2 is an excellent choice if they need a phone upgrade. Since it’s powered by Google, it features many of the search engine’s notable tech innovations. For iPhone users switching to a Google phone for the first time, the Pixel 2 is both a perfect introduction to Android and a worthy investment.

Alienware Advanced Gaming Mouse AW558 Review

Dell has joined the gaming peripherals market with the launch of four Alienware peripherals: two keyboards and two mice. For many tech experts and retailers that sell laptop gaming accessories, these peripherals make sense. Alienware is mainly a gaming brand. When a gamer buys a new Alienware system, it’s only logical to purchase the brand’s peripherals to match the system. Thus far, the four new gaming gizmos are well-received by the market. But the Alienware Advanced Gaming Mouse AW5588, in particular, is getting a lot of positive feedback.  

The Advanced and the Elite

The two Alienware mice are the Advanced Gaming Mouse or AW558 and the Elite Gaming Mouse or AW958. The AW558 features the PixArt PMW3325 while the AW958 comes with the PWM3360. The two mice are supported by the Alienware Control Center. Both also have programmable buttons and use the RGB AlienFX Lighting. Each has nine buttons. Apart from the standard left click, right click, scroll wheel, two left-side navigation buttons, and DPI switch, three thumb buttons are also available.

These Alienware mice are almost identical, but one is pricier and has additional features. The AW558 costs $39.99 while the AW958 is sold for $74.99. The added feature of the latter is swappable side panels so gamers can customize the grip to their liking. The Elite model also has detachable weights to calibrate the mouse’s weight based on the gamer’s preference. The two gaming mice also enable players to toggle through DPI settings. For the Advanced Gaming Mouse, it’s three steps on-the-fly. For the Elite Gaming Mouse, it’s five steps on-the-fly.

Is the AW558 Enough for Serious Gamers?

The Advanced Gaming Mouse is a budget-friendly accessory that offers more than just basic mouse features.


This advanced gaming gizmo is made by Alienware, one of the most trusted manufacturers in the gaming market. The AW558 features a noteworthy design that helps gamers immerse in their virtual combat. It’s the perfect mouse for new players and amateur gamers. It’s also a good back-up accessory for serious gamers.


The AW558 delivers instant response and sharp sensitivity control. Its maximum DPI is 500 with three on-the-fly settings so gamers can switch actions in seconds. It also boasts a decent optical sensor.


This sturdy gaming mouse is specifically designed to withstand countless virtual fights without wearing down or inducing pain or discomfort. It has an extended grip that provides thumb support. It also features high-capacity Omron switches to ensure efficient functionality as much as 10 million clicks.

Tied up with Dell’s RGB Lighting

The AW558 complements the AlienFX, Dell’s own version of an RGB lighting system. The AlienFX provides a more in-depth gaming experience, thanks to its striking lighting effects. Both Alienware mice can be customized using the Alienware Control Center.


For serious and professional gamers, the features and functions of Alienware’s Advanced Gaming Mouse AW558 are fairly standard. But overall, it’s easy to use and fast enough to sustain a competitive game, making it a decent choice for new game enthusiasts and amateur players.

What to Expect from the Samsung S9

Among all the gadgets that vigorously sell, cell-phone units seem to have the fastest turnover. People buy phones, easily grow tired of them, and immediately exchange them for newer models. And the manufacturers sure don’t get tired of releasing new ones every season.

Samsung is one of the top companies that deliver smartphones of great quality. They go head to head with Apple and release units that are on par with iPhones.

Next month, the Samsung S9 will finally be launched, and a lot of avid users cannot wait to see it. What can we expect from it? What innovative features will it offer this time?

The Samsung S9 Specs

The official launch is still a month away, but people have already been raving about Samsung S9. Apparently, the specs and features will no longer come as a surprise. Thanks to online gossip, we already know what we’re looking forward to.

The handset will be powered by the Samsung Exynos CPU. It is expected to have a 5.8–6.1-inch QHD and Super AMOLED curve display. Moreover, it has a 4GB–6GB RAM and a 64GB storage that expands up to 400GB with a microSD card.

Like the most recent S-series phones, S9 can support an LTE connection with speeds up to 1.2Gbps. The batteries are at 3,000–3,500 mAh and can support wireless charging.

Other extra features include a fingerprint scanner at the back and an iris scanner in front. It also has a dual vertical rear camera and an 8MP front-facing camera.

The handset also has stereo speakers and a smart Bixby AI assistant. It is expected to be water- and dust-resistant as well. And although its design hasn’t been officially made public yet, it is said to come in titanium gray, lilac purple, coral blue, and midnight black colors.

More Info on Samsung S9

Samsung will go live with the launch on February 25 through their Unpacked app. Consequently, the fans are dying to see if all the details in the rumors are true. There have been leaks saying that pre-orders have already started for the Galaxy S9 and S9+ specifically.

But some say that pre-orders for S9 will start just a few days following the launch, perhaps by the 1st of March.

Many are curious to know how much it’s going to cost them to purchase this highly innovative phone. Reports reveal that the price will start at around a whopping $1,100.

This is a hundred dollars more expensive than the Samsung S8. And as for the S9+, the price is expected to start at around $1,225.

Meanwhile, a lot of people have been raving about a tweet from Roland Quandt containing images of the S9 that looked official. The fans have gotten even more excited since these are the clearest photos of the phone that have been published so far.

Indeed, much is expected of the Samsung S9 after the successful release of its predecessors in the S-series. We definitely hope it will be worth all the wait.

2018 MSI Gaming Laptop Releases

While 2017 ushered in more Virtual Reality headsets and drones, it looks like 2018 is going to be quite an exciting year for pro gaming. Groundbreaking advances in gaming technology were unveiled at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which was held last month in Las Vegas. MSI, for instance, had quite the line-up. Here are two of the best of their up-and-coming gaming laptops:

 GE63 Raider RGB Edition

Since its debut, the GE series has remained an all-time favorite of gaming enthusiasts. The GE63 Raider has been out for some time now; however, MSI is launching an RGB Edition, which is slated for release quite soon.


MSI has taken functional lighting to a whole new level with this one. The latest addition to the series is equipped with an RGB-lit back panel and keyboard that can display over 24 million colors across its 12 zones. That includes the USB port. But aside from it looking cool, there’s a functional aspect to these RGB lights. Gamers can set the lights as indicators for in-game statistics, notifications, etc.


Details remain scarce. Though the laptop is going to be powered by an Intel Core i7 CPU, MSI has not announced its generation. Additionally, it might come with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or 1070 graphics, and at least 32 GB of RAM.

Price and Release Date

As of this writing, MSI has not revealed pricing details of the GE63 RGB Edition nor have they announced a specific release date. But the laptop is expected to come out sometime in the second quarter of the year.

 GT75VR Titan Pro

MSI broke new grounds with their latest premium gaming laptop, the GT75VR, which comes with massive improvements to its design as well as performance. Above all else, this is MSI’s first virtual reality-ready gaming laptop.


With its backlight control, gamers are able to customize each key according to their liking. Let’s face it — looks can be just as important as performance. On the other hand, there’s more to the SteelSeries Rapid Mechanical RGB Keyboard than its backlight. The keyboard boasts a total travel distance of 3 millimeters and only 1.5 millimeters of actuation. Last but not the least, the design features an elevated palm rest, providing gamers with better ergonomics and comfort, perfect for a long gaming binge.


The GT75VR is the epitome of high level gaming. It is the first gaming laptop to be equipped with NVIDIA’s next generation GeForce GTX 1080 GPU, which provides desktop-level performance. With these GPUs, enthusiasts should also be able to enjoy an exceptional VR experience. Though an optional feature, enthusiasts can enjoy the GT75VR in Full HD with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time.

Price and Release Date

MSI has yet to set a date or a price for the GT75VR.

With two impressive laptops on the way, there’s no point in holding off on replacing your gear. Now is the time to get rid of or sell used laptop units and buy yourself a faster and more powerful one.




How to Recycle an Old Laptop

Out with the old, in with the new. This mantra especially applies to technology today. Innovations here and there change rapidly and a lot of old stuff are being disposed and forgotten.

You buy one laptop model and use it for a few years (hopefully), and then you find yourself upgrading to another one. So what happens to the old one?

Before finally throwing your old laptop away, consider recycling it. Yes, you read that right. You can recycle an old laptop too.

This article will tell you some steps you can perform so that you don’t immediately put your pre-loved computer to waste.

Cleaning Your Hard Drive

But wait! Before you dissect and recycle your laptop, be sure to wipe out your hard drive. This helps maintain privacy and security.

You would never want to deal with someone else stealing your private information or even your photos and videos. Identity theft is a huge issue today, so save yourself the hassle by making sure your files are completely deleted.

FYI, when your files are in the trash bin, that doesn’t mean they are completely deleted. If you don’t know how to do this, you can go to your manufacturer’s service centers and have them wipe out your drive for you.

Putting Your Hardware to Good Use

Even when your laptop is already too obsolete in terms of systems and processor, you can still make use of its hardware. Creativity is the key here. Think of as much ways as you can to reuse the parts and convert them into something that’s also useful.

You can put out the parts and put together a home file server, for instance. A file server doesn’t have to have high-end parts anyway– only basic and functional parts. You can use this as storage for numerous files and data.

If only selected parts of the laptop remain working, you can find each one its own purpose and do conversion. For instance, the internal hard drive can be converted to an external one. You can seek help from a tech expert or find a tutorial to do this.

Put out the most random parts too and practice your DIY skills. Perhaps you can reuse the cooling fans, the circuit boards, even the monitor frames as art pieces. After all, junk art is a thing nowadays.

Donating Instead of Throwing

If your laptop is still functional, why not share it to an institution that needs it? There are tons of organizations and schools out there that have no budget for computers.

Perhaps they can just have your laptop refurbished a little so they can use it. Letting somebody else benefit from it is still better than just throwing it.

You should seriously consider recycling your laptop, not only to get your money’s worth, but to help the environment too. There have been reports that found too much electronic waste in garbage disposals. This is really hazardous and this can be detrimental to us in the future.





Phone Releases to Watch Out for in 2018

The year 2018 will be a good year for retailers who sell cell-phones. Gartner, a research company, projected a 2% increase in smartphone sales this year compared to 2017.

This is not just good news for business-minded people. The arrival of better, high-quality phones also means a lot for other consumers. Many people today do not only use their smartphone to connect with loved ones and friends. Some also use it for business purposes. If you are planning to treat yourself to a new unit this year, here are some phone releases you should watch out for:

 Nokia 9

Nokia made a huge comeback last year as they finally launched Android handsets. Last September, they released their flagship phone Nokia 8. It looks elegant with its impressive QHD display, but tech experts claimed there is nothing so unique about it.

Rumor has it that the Nokia 9 will be waterproof. The rear cameras, according to the news, will have a wide-angle and a zoom function. With the arrival of Nokia 9, many consumers will surely be happy because the phone’s target market includes people looking for budget high-quality phones.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung’s upcoming flagship phone is expected to come out during the last quarter of 2018 because the company is still addressing some durability issues.

For now, we can hear a lot of rumors about the features of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. It is believed that Note 9 will retain the Note 8’s infinity display screen, fingerprint scanner, and front-facing camera. Furthermore, news surfaced that Note 9 will be lighter compared to its predecessor.

iPhone X Plus

It may be too early to talk about the next iPhone because iPhone X just came out three months ago. The iPhone X is Apple’s most revolutionary phone to date. It ditched the home button and uses facial recognition, which is more secure than fingerprint locks according to Apple.

The iPhone X already has cool features, so what else should we expect with iPhone X Plus? Believe it or not, the company is about to launch four more new smartphones this autumn so we are looking forward to that!

Huawei P20

This coming March 27, Huawei will unveil the P20 in Paris. What keeps the Huawei P20 interesting is the three cameras on the back. Recently, the Chinese smartphone maker only used dual cameras for their units so this one will be something new for Huawei consumers.

New BlackBerry

The company announced during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018 that they will produce two new handsets this year. So far, we heard that one of the new upcoming BBs will be a successor to the KEYone. The phone, which was first released in April 2017, boasts a good battery life and accurate keyboard. The only problem is its small screen, since a majority of consumers today prefer a big smartphone. Will BlackBerry release a bigger KEYone? We will soon find out!

Which among these phones are you looking forward to see? Hopefully, with the arrival of these new flagship phones from these giant smartphone brands, we will also see better apps.

7 Apps and Items that Consume Too Much Storage Space

It’s almost always the case when you get a new smartphone: you’d think you have an abundance of storage space. You may also think you can never fill up the huge space. After all, you only take a few photos and play a couple of games. But just after several months, you have a full phone and zero clue why.

If that scenario sounds familiar, it’s time to weed out the apps and data that eat too much of your phone’s storage space. For Android devices, the Storage pane can display exactly what consumes too much space on your phone or tablet. You may also manually check each app to see how much space they take up.

To start clearing out space, take note of the following apps and items that you can undoubtedly delete without regrets.

All Your SMS, App Messages, and Group Chats

It’s okay to save and store important messages and memorable conversations. But it’s an altogether different thing to save every single message you have from every person you’ve chatted with. It’s more than likely you don’t need to save text messages dated years ago. You don’t have to keep random ads like data freebies or buy and sell tablet promos. Check all your messages across all platforms – SMS, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, etc. – and delete the conversations you don’t particularly need.

Duplicate Photos

It has become the norm these days to take countless photos (or selfies) to get that “perfect shot” for Instagram. If that’s your deal, it’s all good. But once you have your perfect shot, make sure to delete the other 50 imperfect photos so you can save storage space.


Much like duplicate photos, screenshots also take a lot of digital space. If you’re fond of taking screenshots for your DIY projects, make sure to delete the photos once they’ve served their purpose. If the screenshots are for work, send and save the files on the cloud after taking the photos. This way, you can delete them right away.

Apps that You Never (or Rarely) Use

Go through your apps to see which ones you never (or rarely) use. At times, you get excited about free apps that you just start to download everything that catches your fancy. But it’s unlikely that you often use the free apps you’ve installed on your phone. To free up some space, uninstall the apps that you never (or rarely) use. They just take up precious digital space. Worse, they can slow down your device.

Videos (of anything)

Videos take up a great deal of storage space. If you have a newborn child, a pet, or a toddler, it’s almost impossible not to record every little thing they do. Again, that’s alright. But every now and then, move the videos to your cloud storage to free up space on your smartphone.

Cached Data

The longer you use your phone, the more data you store in its cache. And at times, some cache data are just junk. Make sure to delete the junk routinely to prevent consuming too much space.

Instagram Photos

Instagram provides a handy feature where you can save both the original picture and the photo posted on the app. It’s less likely that you need two copies of the same picture. Tweak the app setting to disable saving both photos.

Don’t let yourself miss out on what’s important just because you don’t have enough storage space left to save anything else. Regularly check on the items listed above and don’t be afraid to let go of what’s unimportant.


6 Gadgets, Tech and Services that Met Their Demise in 2017

Much like with living things, a life cycle also happens to technology. Every year, there are services and gadgets that are discontinued to make way for better tech and devices.  In 2017, we lost a number of once-renowned services and gizmos that have lost their “mojo” some time ago.

Here’s a list of the noteworthy tech and gadgets that expired last year.


Windows Vista

After a decade since its launch, Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows Vista. On April 11, the giant software company discontinued what is arguably the most disparaged version of One Microsoft, and for good reasons. Before its death, the system hasn’t been updated for the longest time, which means there are also no security updates.


iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle

After making the iPod Classic obsolete three years ago, Apple terminated two more iPods from its product lineup last July. The iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle are now considered archaic. The last remaining iPod device is the Touch version, which is more than just a standalone media player.


AOL Instant Messenger

One of the most prominent fixtures during the start of the Internet era is AOL Instant Messenger.  After a hard-fought battle to stay afloat, AOL Instant Messenger permanently logged off in 2017. With its demise is the termination of its buddy lists, fun blooping noises, and away messages.

Some blamed the death of AOL Instant Messenger on the cultural shift that happened when social networks began popping up here and there. With social platforms like Facebook and modern messaging apps like WhatsApp, AOL had a hard time coping with the change they bring.  

Also, on the same day that their instant messenger expired, AOL deactivated their forums on CompuServe.


Amazon Underground

Just after a couple of years of offering freebies like in-game materials and apps compatible with Android, Amazon threw in the towel on its Underground software. Though Amazon continues to run its own app store for Android programs, the company has deemphasized it as merely an alternative to Google Play. And without the appeal of freebies, users have little to no more need for a third-party app source.

Google Talk

After a 12-year run, GChat is out. The messenger service of Gmail, formally referred to as Google Talk, bade goodbye last June. Discontinuing GChat is a step forward for the giant tech company in streamlining its extensive messenger app lineup.  



Delicious, better known as, is a Web 2.0 icon. It enabled users to save and share website bookmarks online. In 2005, Yahoo acquired the site and planned to officially close it in 2010 as part of the company’s purging of mediocre products. But Delicious was passed around more than once. With each new operator comes the intent to remodel the site. Alas, no one did know how to do it. As a final push, its rival, Pinboard, bought the site for next to nothing. The company promptly set the once popular website to read-only mode.


Which of these obsolete services and gadgets will you miss the most?

5 Practical Ways to Use Your Old Tablet

When you plan on buying a new tablet, what will you do with your old device? You have a number of choices available. If you’re feeling generous, you may give the tablet away to a loved one. Alternatively, you can donate the gadget to the local nursing home or recreation center. If the tablet is damaged, you may return it to the manufacturer for them to properly recycle or refurbish the unit. If it’s still worth something, you can even sell your old device.

Repurposing your old tablet to give it a brand-new purpose is perhaps the most practical thing to do. Here are some tips to look into:


Streaming Media Machine

Your old iPad or Android tablet can be converted into a streaming video and music device. Most streaming services for iOS and Android are compatible with virtually any brand of tablet. Hook up the old device to a Hi-Fi stereo or a Bluetooth speaker to make it even better. For music streaming, you can connect it to Spotify or Pandora. For convenient Netflix streaming, pair the tablet with a Chromecast.


Home Security

An alternate way to reuse your old tablet is to transform it into a camera that you can access from just about anywhere. Specifically, you can turn your old tablet into a home security camera. You just need a couple of apps for this to work. If your old tablet is pretty sophisticated on its own, you may even link it to other gizmos to establish motion alerts.

This is a good, practical tip if you have pets at home that you want to monitor throughout the day.


Smart Remote Control

Turn your old tablet into a smart remote control to make many of your web-based activities easy and convenient. Even if you don’t own a specialized smart remote control, most smart televisions and standalone devices such as Android TV, Fire TV, and Apple TV provide remote applications for handheld devices. Use the apps to convert your old tablet to a working smart remote control. This can help you to better streamline your web-based programs, streaming services, and user interfaces.


(Another) Desktop Monitor

If you want a dual-screen desktop, save money and use your old tablet. Again, there are several apps that can turn your tablet into a computer monitor either through a USB connection or via Wi-Fi.  In particular, Apple tablets have a better external display, so iPads would really work well as another desktop monitor.



Let’s assume your old tablet is almost on its death bed. You can still repurpose it before it finally retires by giving it a lightweight job. The best you can do in this scenario is to use it as an e-Reader.  Reading apps like Amazon and Kobo can give you access to its vast library. If you already have eBooks on your computer, you can easily transfer them into your old tablet. If you already own an e-Reader, you can sync the eBooks between the two gadgets. You can leave one at home and have the other one with you when you’re traveling.

Don’t just throw away your old tablet even when you have a new one. By repurposing it, your old gadget can still serve you well.

4 Gadget Trends for 2018

It seems like every year, there are brand new gadgets and gizmos that take things to the next level. The technology available right now is so much more than what we had a couple of years ago. And its progress is expanding all the time. So, as 2018 is just a few days away, let’s see what gadget trends we can expect to wow us even more.


Mainstream Virtual Reality

Unlike other smart technologies, virtual reality (VR) had a rather slow start. The buzz began with basic VR headsets. They weren’t as prevalent as other gizmos. The older VR headsets needed extra accessories that were also pretty expensive. Also, users were required to have technical knowledge to make them work.

But thanks to the steady VR developments made this year, 2018 will be all about taking VR mainstream. A good sign of this prediction is the launch of the Facebook Oculus Rift. The site’s VR feature is created using ‘outside-in’ tracking techniques that boost accuracy.

Advanced Security Devices

2017 was all about smart devices. Now, 2018 will be about using those smart devices in many incredible ways. One of these amazing methods is keeping homes secure. There will be an influx of gadgets that provide homeowners more control over the security of their homes.

These days, video doorbells are becoming the norm. This smart security device gives people the ability to see who’s at the door even if they’re not physically at home. It’s expected that more and smarter improvements will emerge next year, most of which will improve the technology of existing security devices like the incorporation of mobile apps and cloud backups.

Wearable Gizmos

Wearable devices have been around for quite some time now. The likes of pedometers are used by consumers worldwide. By 2018, experts anticipate superior options for wearable gadgets. Wearable pollution trackers, for instance, are developed to monitor the air quality that surrounds people.

The demand for breathalyzer wristbands will also increase next year. This wearable gizmo enables users to check their blood alcohol content. The wristband detects chemicals through the sweat on the skin. Even fitness trackers will be upgraded in 2018. Fitness tracking rings are expected to sell like pancakes since they have the same capabilities as wristbands, but in a much smaller package.

Internet of Things

The notion of “Internet of Things” has considerably grown over the years. The concept refers to a network of devices, gadgets, software, and connectivity that helps improve the life of its user. 2018 will undoubtedly see an evolution and expansion of gadgets that can be linked to one another. That means the connection will go beyond mobile phones and computers.

Smart devices will soon launch long drawn-out ideas such as smart locks for the home. The increase in linked devices will guarantee that the Internet of Things will be easier, faster and more accessible to all. The interconnection of web-based elements is a trend that has been discussed for some years now, but 2018 will be the year for its absolute growth and progression.


So, which 2018 gadget trend are you excited about?

Tips to Optimize Instagram Stories

Social media has made it possible for everyone to document their everyday lives. What gastronomic delight you’ve eaten, what weird coffee concoction you had, what #OOTD you wore to an event, what books you can’t wait to read, and anything and everything in between.  These are the typical content of Instagram Stories – seconds-long tidbits shared on the app just for 24 hours.

If you’re a business or a brand, the list of reasons to use Instagram Stories is never-ending. Done correctly, this Instagram feature can boost brand engagement. Above all, the number of people you’re able to reach is much greater than on Snapchat, Instagram’s toughest competition.

Now, you may know the basics of Instagram Stories, but there are a few not-so-hidden tools that you can use to make your photos and videos more fun and engaging. Here’s one that is the most effective for business and personal brands:


Once you have a picture or a video ready, jazz it up with fun Instagram stickers. To access the variety of online decals available, tap the sticker icon seen in the upper right-hand corner of your mobile screen. Alternatively, you can just swipe up from the bottom of your screen.

Size: Add the sticker to your story. Pinch it to increase or decrease its size. To change its position, either tap or drag the online decal around the frame.

Variety: Instagram offers unique stickers all the time. They even release special ones relevant to an event, a celebration or a season. Just check the option before you share your story to see if there’s a timely sticker you can use.

Location: You can boost engagement using stickers by adding your location. Type in wherever you are. If you’re in a big city or a famous landmark, there’s a good chance that you can get a special geographic sticker of your location. Once your viewers tap your location sticker, they’ll be presented with photos and Stories from other Instagram users that have used the same geo-sticker.

Hashtag: This works pretty much the same as the location sticker. To make it work, choose the hashtag decal and simply type in the tag you want to use.

Poll: A poll sticker is great for business purposes or just for fun. Instagram Stories offers a two-option sticker poll. You can customize the possible replies if you don’t want to use the standard “yes or no” answer.


A Bonus…

To make your Stories more interesting, use Snapchat filters.

From the now infamous dog face to the vomiting rainbow, filters on Snapchat have become a well-loved means to engage with your followers. Instagram, unfortunately, doesn’t offer the same filter variety and creativity.  A clever trick to fix this problem is to take a Snap of yourself using a fun Snapchat filter. Save the Snap to your camera roll. Open your Instagram Stories and access your funny Snap. You can add stickers to make it livelier and more engaging.


For stronger brand recall, share several Instagram Stories throughout the day.

Gadget Gift Ideas for Foodies

A coffee lover. A budding cook. A chocoholic. A proficient gourmand. A seasoned chef. There is a neat gadget out there that is perfectly tailored to the needs and palates of these foodies. Here’s a list of some of the best gizmos designed for food lovers and rulers of the kitchen.

Auto-Measure Spice Carousel

Fiddling around for a quarter of a teaspoon of dried oregano can get annoying very fast. Estimating is a big no-no, too. The perfect solution for accurate spice measuring is the Auto-Measure Spice Carousel. With it, cooks and foodies don’t have to dig into the cabinet drawers for little measuring spoons. The cool gizmo features 12 of the most used spices. It also has a dial that releases spices in quarter-of-a-teaspoon batches.

Prep Pad

Prepping food, especially for busy health buffs, is an important step that can’t be missed. It can also be time-consuming, especially with the manual calculation of nutrients. It gets harder when the fresh foods don’t have a label. The Prep Pad cuts all these steps in half. Foodies can get the nutritional data for raw foods, even if they don’t come with labels. The gadget connects wirelessly to any Apple unit. Upon connection, it’ll show all the nutrition facts depending on the food’s weight. The info will appear on the Countertop app available on the Apple Store. The best benefit of the Prep Pad is its ability to sync with Jawbone UP. It can monitor the user’s daily activity and suggest the best post-workout meals.

Electric Salt and Pepper Mills

For fancy foodies who love freshly-cracked pepper on their food, the Electric Salt and Pepper Mills will be a definite hit. The dual gadget is a high-tech version of the typical salt and pepper dispenser. They have sensors that instantly trigger the blades when the mills are flipped over. The blades automatically stop whirling once they’re in an upright position.

Mr. Coffee 10-Cup Smart Optimal Brew

For coffee lovers who are lazy to get out of bed or have hectic mornings, Mr. Coffee 10-Cup Smart Optimal Brew is the perfect foodie present. It readies the morning coffee without the drinker getting out of bed. Using the WeMo app, the user can set a timetable for the much-needed caffeine fix. This schedule can be changed at the eleventh hour or turned off remotely.

Digital Measuring Cup

This kitchen gadget may look like a standard measuring cup, but it’s nothing common or ordinary. The Digital Measuring Cup is loaded with fantastic digital features. It makes cooking and baking faster, easier, and more fun. The usual measurable ingredients like oil, flour, milk, sugar, and water have their own weight setting. The digital cup has a built-in conversion unit. And as a bonus, it also doubles as a weighing scale for meat.


For home cooks and professional chefs who have busy schedules, Plated is a godsend. It is a subscription service that delivers fresh ingredients anywhere. It also provides gourmet recipes that can be made using the distributed ingredients. Best of all, the fresh foods are individually packed and portioned according to the given recipes


Shop for these kitchen gizmos and online services for your foodie loved ones. And perhaps, you’ll get a free meal out of ‘em!

How is Facebook Local Different from Foursquare?

Facebook has a quest to be the one-stop source for anything and everything. That’s evident with its new app, Facebook Local. The app delivers an impressive push into helping people find things to do, places to go, and services to try, all of which are based on the recommendations of others.  

Sounds familiar? It should be since it’s basically an app that merges the primary services of Yelp and Foursquare. But since it’s Facebook, the social media giant, Facebook Local has its own twist.


What Makes Local Different from Yelp and Foursquare?

Facebook Local is a refurbished variation of Facebook Events. Its goal is to assist people in finding and locating nearby activities and services to try. Its other goal is to make Facebook a much more visible and usable player in the local search.

Using the app, users can look for places such as cafes, theaters, restaurants, and gyms. They can also search for events like concerts and festivals. Facebook Local requires users to log in using their Facebook accounts. As such, it can use locations that a user’s friends have liked or events they’ve RSVPed to using the site.

Activities and locations are searchable in three ways: by name, by category, or by browsing the site listings. The categories include food, drinks, fitness, movies, music, and health. Results are sorted by popularity, distance, relevance, and rating. Keywords can also be used for easy look-up. Choosing a location displays its operating hours, address, as well as Facebook rating. Users can even get directions using a third-party map, view the event, or look at the place’s website or Facebook Page.

When people install the app on their phone, they can accept or decline Facebook’s request to track their locations. Also, they can set up a city as their preferred search recommendation, even if they don’t live there.

The home tab of Facebook Local also features places and events broken down into three subcategories: For You, Events, and Guides. “For You” provides services and activities trending in the neighborhood. It also shows the events that Facebook friends have RSVPed to. “Events” details local activities and functions arranged by day in chronological order. “Guides” divides activities and events by interest such as arts, culture, music, games, and fundraisers.


Facebook Gains through Facebook Local

Facebook hasn’t released any information yet if Facebook Local will soon feature ads. As such, it’s still ambiguous how the app can specifically contribute to the company’s ROI. But, its indirect benefits are more obvious.

Regardless if the users allow the app to track their location or not, they still must set an area when using the app. This helps Facebook measure people’s interests in that particular location. Choosing specific places further indicates interest. This is particularly true if users take action, like calling a restaurant or getting directions.

And even if users don’t give the app authorization to track their locations, they could have previously allowed Facebook to do so. The social media giant has empowered brands to retarget the users that have RSVPed to their activities or stopped at their physical stores. Facebook, at some point, can retarget Facebook Local users to benefit the site’s ecosystem.

The Best Gadget Stories of 2017

The year has brought us cutting-edge gadgets and sophisticated social platforms. It seemed like a new flagship phone had to be reviewed every other week. And there’s a never-ending cycle of new gadgets and gizmos.

Here is our short list of the best gadget stories of 2017.

Apple AirPods

Technically, AirPods launched in 2016. However, it was almost the end of December when they were made available to the public. Even then, it was hard to buy a pair. So, in a way, AirPods are 2017 babies. And they were worth the wait. Some tech experts say that Apple’s latest ear accessory is the best output the company has launched in a long time.

Think of the AirPods as the upgraded version of the EarPods, but without the wires. They basically have the same functions and properties. Although with the AirPods, the controls are tapped onscreen rather than through the wired remote. That being said, the absence of the wires plus the extra sensors on the AirPods made a massive difference. Obviously, you no longer have to deal with the tangles. But more importantly, there is no more reverberating noise in your ears.

Nintendo Switch

There’s a long list of Nintendo controllers and they’ve always been unexpected, but in a good way. What users can expect is that they are all manufactured to make the games even better. But through the Nintendo Switch, the video game company showed the value of “teamwork” between hardware and software. The company’s hardware generally differentiates itself from the competition through its awesome controllers.

The Nintendo Switch is basically a multi-touch screen, much like a smartphone. It has easy-to-detach controllers on both ends. To make a standalone wireless controller, the Switch’s controllers are separated and recombined using a plastic handle. The screen is put on a dock connected to a monitor. Think of it as a home gaming console and a Game Boy rolled into one.

Amazon Echo Show

Alexa is phenomenal. Amazon’s smart assistant is functional, fun, and clever enough to work on both simple and complex tasks at home. In fact, it’s pretty great as a voice assistant. But incorporating a 7-inch screen to it makes a huge difference. With Amazon Echo Show, you get visual feedback based on your commands. You also can do other new things, like monitor security cams and make video calls. It has features that are accessible with just a simple voice command for everyone in the household.

eSight 3

In this era of web-connected gadgets, it’s great to find devices that provide solutions to problems of a higher order. For instance, the eSight 3 is an over-eye visor. This nifty gadget helps legally blind people get around. It uses a special combination of a high-def camera and a video display. eSight 3 provides a live feed on OLED displays positioned in front of the eyes of the wearer. The gizmo is compact and doesn’t need the use of hands. More importantly, it can do pretty much everything a blind person needs – from reading to providing directions.


What about you? What are your favorite 2017 gadgets?

Hidden Features of iOS 11 You May Not Know

You don’t need an iPhone 8 or an iPhone X to enjoy the newly released Apple features. You simply need to upgrade your operating system to iOS 11 to get in on a lot of fresh updates and extravaganza. Apple’s latest OS has visible upgraded features, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Here are some exciting features you may not know about after downloading the operating system on your smartphone.

FaceTime Upgraded

When you take a screenshot while doing FaceTime with your loved ones, the image will be cleaner and clearer than before.  These high-quality screenshots are due to the new operating system’s built-in feature. Try it out by pressing the shutter button on your phone. iOS 11 will use the other person’s phone camera to take a Live Photo shot. Just make sure the other party is also using a device that runs the new system.

Drag and Drop

The new drag and drop feature stands out on iPads, but it’s functional on iPhones, too.  To make this work, enable both the Notes and Camera apps on your device.

DND for Driving

Apple is trying its best to lessen or completely wipe out distracted driving. The new iOS can detect if you’re in a moving car. If you want, you can also enable the “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature automatically.

Optimize Storage Space

Regardless of how big or new your iPhone is, its storage will be a concern sooner or later. With iOS, it’s more of the latter thanks to its new space-saving suggestions. There are three options available: offload unused apps, auto delete old conversations, and review large attachments. The recommended storage options offer to wipe out old data for extra space. They are also tailored to your needs. Each one will inform you the exact storage space you’ll be able to get back.

Screenshot Annotation

Now you can promptly annotate screenshots before sharing them with other people. Unlike before, you no longer need the help of a third-party app to accomplish this task. After taking a screenshot, click its thumbnail and start to annotate it. You may delete the file using the same interface immediately or after a while.

Socialized Apple Music

In its latest attempt to be an all-around, social-oriented service provider, iOS 11 has made changes to Apple Music profiles. Upon launching Apple Music after the update, the app will walk you through the process of creating your profile and privacy configurations. Later on, you can find your profile and settings in the “For You” tab on your profile image.

Type and Translations via Siri

For the very first time, you may now engage with Siri without saying anything. iOS 11’s “type to Siri” feature enables you to key in your questions for your IA assistant. Another Siri upgrade available are the Siri translations. As the name suggests, Siri can now translate foreign words real-time. This is a helpful tool, especially when you’re traveling.

Though most of the new features of iOS 11 are geared toward iPad users, it comes with different fun and unique features for iPhone users too.