Every second Monday in February, British Columbians celebrate Family Day. A relatively recent addition to the province’s list of statutory holidays, Family Day was created to give people a dedicated day off to spend with their loved ones.
In many ways, technology hinders us from spending “quality time” with family and friends. It seems that wherever we go, people are more focused on their mobile devices than each other. It’s therefore not surprising that spending quality time with someone – whether to romp outdoors, share a meal or just hang out – is usually synonymous with turning off, or least ignoring one’s iPhone and computer for the duration. That said, there are some ways in which technology can help bring families together.
One of the biggest hurdles to families spending quality time together is actually finding the time to do so. Between school, sports, appointments, volunteering, hobbies and work, modern families are perpetually on the go. For busy lives like this, family time-management apps can help.
The primary purpose of these apps is to keep track of each family member’s schedule and merge them into a comprehensive calendar. But they can also remind us to schedule time for family activities and help identify when to slot this in. Furthermore, shared to-do lists and other tools can make everyone more efficient, leading to more free time for family-focused fun.
Praised by Parents, Working Mother and the Wall Street Journal, COZI is a front-runner in family organizer apps. The basic app is free, but COZI is also available in a paid version. (The main draw of the paid version is its lack of ads, which restrict the viewing space on your screen.)
Sadly, we don’t all have the luxury of living near those to whom we are related. Thankfully, there are apps that can connect you to face-to-screen with Granny and cousin Bob whether they live in Ireland or Timbuktu.
Using your device’s front facing camera, video calling apps allow you to see the person with whom you are conversing and vice versa. Your choice of apps is dictated by the brands of the devices you are both using. Whatever app you use, it’s best be connected to Wifi during the call if possible since videos require lots of data.
On Apple products, Facetime is the go-to app for video chats. It comes pre-installed on newer-model iPhones and iPods, but must be enabled with an Apple ID during the initial device set-up or at a later date under Settings. There are two ways to use FaceTime. The first option is to initiate a regular phone call, then activate FaceTime to add the video component. Option two is to just make a FaceTime Audio call. A benefit of the second method is that it connects callers through Apple’s servers instead of eating up cell phone minutes.
FaceTime is Apple-compatible only. If the person you wish to call has an Android- or Windows-based device, you’ll need to use something else. Skype and WhatsApp are popular alternatives. They are both free and easy to set-up. Thanks for reading! That’s it from this weeks Simply Blog, we wish you all a happy Family Day!
Straight off the bat, one of the great things about ToDoist is that it works across a wide gambit of platforms and devices. From the desktop (Windows and MacOS) to iOS devices (iPhone/iPad/Apple Watch) to web browsers (Safari/Firefox/Chrome), you can use the app wherever you need it and, for the most part, it looks and acts the same across them. You can even use it with smart home assistants like Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem. In short: it can work wherever you work from.
But with Carrot Rewards, you have a tool that’ll help promote more activity in your life in a more manageable way with the ability to gain rewards for reaching your goals. This app is rather unique in the sea of health apps, even in the free apps department. Carrot Rewards is a partnership between the Ministry of Health, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the BC Healthy Living Alliance, and Social Change Rewards, along with NGO partners: YMCA Canada, Heart & Stroke Foundation, and the Canadian Diabetes Association. At the moment, it is only available to residents of British Columbia, Newfoundland, and Ontario but the plan is to have it be available to all Canadians.
The aim of the app is to help Canadians be better educated and create healthy and manageable changes in their health, both physical and mental, while offering meaningful incentives. You heard me! Along with pairing up with multiple organizations, Carrot Rewards offers its users point rewards to programs such as SCENE points, Aeroplan Miles, Petro-Points, or More Rewards. You can only have one reward program linked to your account, but it is better than having to sign up for yet ANOTHER loyalty reward system.
You get the points/rewards by not just completing your challenges but also by filling out surveys.
Now I picked SCENE as it is a better option for me in earning free movie passes in my area, but in the end, the choice is ultimately up to you. Usually the surveys will give you 5 to 20 points at a time, but at the end of the last year I did complete one worth 200 points! That’s all for this week’s app review, good luck with getting organized this year and stay tuned for more great app suggestions!
By Barry DonnellyWith all the different devices available it is hard to decide which one is best for you. I won’t be covering that in this article but what I would like to share with you is my experience so far with the supporting smartphone app. I have just recently upgraded from a Fitbit Flex to a Flex 2. I have used my first Fitbit Flex on and off for the past 3 years. I have enjoyed using it but there have been times when using it has felt more like a chore. However that has changed very recently and I have started to enjoy my Fitbit again, the primary reason for this is the Fitbit App.
By Barry DonnellyThe holiday season is in full swing and we have had lots of snow and ice to add to the festive atmosphere. Last week we suggested some gift ideas which would be perfect for your family and friends. We did promise some more suggestions and here are our tops picks for this week.
By Barry DonnellyThanksgiving can evoke many different thoughts for people. Some think about the food preparation (turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce), the great dinner table debates or the leftovers, while others dread the thought of spending time with their in-laws or finding ways to keep the children occupied. I am sure that you could add much more! The great thing about Thanksgiving is that it allows us to take a step back and enjoy time with family and friends. Sometimes spending the entire day with your family can be difficult and stressful, especially when everybody has their eyes on their phone, tablet, or computer. So here are a few ways in which technology can bring the family together and provide hours of entertainment.
Fun Fact: There are approximately over one million selfies taken every day and the country that loves selfies the most is Australia followed by the US in second and Canada in third.No doubt you and many of your family members will participate in taking selfies at the dinner table and at various other stages over Thanksgiving weekend. There are quite a number of apps availble that will enhance your selfie-taking abilities so rather than go through a number of them, I will tell you about my favourite.
This is one of the most popular apps that can help you get creative with your selfies. There are over 60 million daily users of Snapchat in Canada and the US alone. Here are some examples of what we created in the office this week. There are lots of cool filters that you can use and one which is very popular is the Face Swap option. See if you can spot a certain Mr.Tim Cook?There are so many more creative ways to edit your selfies:
A great way to share all your Thanksgiving memories with family and friends is to set up iCloud Photo Sharing. This is a fantastic way to share your memories and it also stops you from having to pass your iPhone or iPad around the dinner table for everybody to take a look.Go to the Photos App on your Apple device, if you are using an iOS device follow these steps:
This is a perfect game to play right before dinner. It will get ignite the competitive streak in any family member. Perhaps you could get some practice in by challeging online opponents or playing the virtual player. This is will get you warmed up and ready to become Thanksgiving Day Champion all before dinner has started.
Moving up the strategy ladder and you can get involved in Checkers. Again there are single or dual player capabilities. There are 5 levels of difficulty and it even allows you to listen to your own music while playing. Perhaps you could find out the type of music that your family members dislike and use this as a distraction when challenging them!
I don’t think Thanksgiving would be complete without a game of charades. Spilt the family down the middle and get guessing. With over 45 themed decks to choose from and with no player limit this is the ultimate family challenge which can be played across iPad, iPhone and iPod touch devices. Choose from movies, science, television, music plus many more. Just tilt your device to draw a card and tilt up to pass. There are many versions on the App Store so select one that you prefer.
This game for those of you who need to unwind in the evening when everybody has left and you finally sit down to relax. This is a typical arcade game in that you it will take some time to adjust to the controls but once you figure it out your real journey begins. This game offers some incredibly intense moments, some fiercely competitive opponents and it rewards progress with increased levels of skill. You have a number of game options, Career Mode, Exhibition mode, 2 Player mode and Daily Challenge. I would advise to start with Career mode right away and get warmed up because you may not be going to sleep. You can gain coins when you win you matches or complete daily challenges. You will spend them quite quickly when entering career events so I would suggest playing as normal and determine if you like the gameplay and setup. If you are happy with this, purchase the VIP package in the game and it will remove the ads, double your XP in career and also mean you don’t need to spend coins when entering Career events.Simply Computing cannot be held responsible for any disagreements or family feuds which may be caused from downloading and playing the apps mentioned above. 😉
By Alex Smiciklas
These of course are mountains. And if you’re a BC resident, you’re used to seeing a lot of them. It can be difficult enough determining Cypress from Grouse, let alone bickering over the dozens of peaks nestled away from the coast. PeakFinder solves this, so that you never have to question another mountain range again. This Earth spanning app was first created in 2010 for the nature lover and to pique interest in exploring the great outdoors, all the way from Mount Seymour to Mount Everest.
If you’re in the city, up a mountain, or just about anywhere, you can use the PeakFinder app to find the name, height and location of just about any peak in the world. With a simple black and white interface, the app moves panoramically with you which means all you have to do is point your phone towards an unknown peak, and click. The app is also customizable with a changing elevation option for narrowing your choices to lower or higher mountains, as well as a binocular setting which zooms in to find more surrounding peaks blind to the untrained eye.
Even if this app can’t help you find your way through a forest, it does run offline anywhere in the world. So if you’re thousands of feet up in the air with no cell service, you can still use the app to identify the peaks below you. Make sure to check out PeakFinder this Canada Day, it makes for a great outdoor accessory with just about any adventure.