Apps

Google Installs App without Asking on some User Phones

Massachusetts

Episode 1806

Up in Massachusetts, users of Android phones discovered this week that Google had installed the Massachusetts State app without their knowledge or permission. The app is designed to provide citizens with the latest Covid-19 information, as well as a QR code if you have been vaccinated. Leo says it's not a good thing to force an app, and how easy would it be to forge a QR code anyway? People have always sought to "game" the system, and it's even more so in the age of the Internet.

What Software Can I Use to Publish a Book?

Affinity Publisher

Episode 1793

Eva from Cortland, NY

Eva is doing a publishing project, but her computer is 12 years old. So she's looking for user-friendly design software. Leo says that Serif is a solid company that used to make desktop publishing software and now have a low-cost app called Affinity Publisher.  It's $25. Leo uses Affinity Photo, and he likes it. So Publisher may be a good one to look into, and they have a 90 day try before you buy.

Why Am I Not Getting Notifications From My Alarm Motion Security App?

Zigbee Monitor Sensor

Episode 1787

Brian from Mission Viejo, CA

Brian has had an issue with an alarm system for two years that drives him nuts. They are supposed to get push notifications in the app, but often they don't. Or one person gets them, and one doesn't. Leo says that iOS can be very aggressive at shutting down background apps. Notifications can also be dialed up and down with sensitivity to not get a notification every 10 seconds when the wind blows. So it could be dialed down too far. If you haven't visited the app in a while, it may just be shut off. Or the company's servers may be down. There's a lot of points of failure there. 

How Can I Get Tornado Warnings on My Phone?

Tornado Spy

Episode 1787

Stacey from Michigan

Stacey got tired of missing tornado warnings. She had a tornado rip through her front yard! So she got an emergency radio that she can tune into the NOAA weather channel. She also uses an app called Tornado Spy, which uses crowdsourcing to advise of tornado activity in your area.  

Stacey also started a podcast on Origami. It's called The Origami Show. And she wants a recommendation on a good mic. Leo says that Stacey's best bet is the Audio Technica AT2020 USB+. It's $150. 

Is Accessibility Really Part of Technology Design or an Afterthought?

iPhone iPad Accessibility

Episode 1784

Julian from Los Angeles, CA

Julian Vargas of TechJV is our resident accessibility expert, and he's calling in to comment on the caller in hour one who doesn't like touchscreen monitors because they don't really help the blind. Julian says that's doesn't mean they shouldn't exist or any other technology. The more technology advances, the more accessibility can be built into it. But it must be part of the design so those who are blind can still take advantage of technology advancements. The iPhone is a perfect example. Julian says that Google Lens is a great app for making your Android devices more accessible.

How Can I Keep Track of My Bank Activity in Quicken?

Quicken

Episode 1783

Stan from Whitter, CA

Stan wants to know if Quicken can download his bank data to keep track of his accounts. Leo says that Quicken bought MINT for that purpose, and it uses the same backend for the data as the banks do. So it works seamlessly and is very good for keeping track of your expenses and finances without tedious manual data entry. Quicken also has an app called Simplify: it's $3 a month when bought annually. The Wirecutter seems to like it. 

Why can't I install iOS apps from third party stores?

iOS 14

Episode 1775

Frank from San Francisco, CA

Frank has an iPhone, and he doesn't like the restrictions that come with it, which prevents him from getting apps from somewhere other than Apple's app store. Leo says you can jailbreak it and then do it, but then you lose all the protection. Android, by contrast, lets you choose to bypass the Google Play store in the settings and sideload apps downloaded directly from the developer.