smartphone apps

Pokemon Go Is Catching Us All — In Unexpected Ways

Jul 11, 2016

It's been an eventful weekend for Pokémon trainers — even without Team Rocket around.

After being released Wednesday, the mobile app Pokémon Go is currently the top-downloaded free app, and the top grossing app, in both the Apple and Android stores.

Thanks to the rise of food delivery services like Grubhub and Eat24, it's getting easier to order meals online.

The Challenge Of Taking Health Apps Beyond The Well-Heeled

Jun 23, 2016

When you hear the phrase "digital health," you might think about a Fitbit, the healthy eating app on your smartphone, or maybe a new way to email the doctor.

But Fitbits aren't particularly useful if you're homeless, and the nutrition app won't mean much to someone who struggles to pay for groceries. Same for emailing your doctor if you don't have a doctor or reliable Internet access.

Using A Smartphone In Bed Made Women Momentarily Blind

Jun 22, 2016

A 22-year-old woman in England thought she was going blind in one eye. She could always see fine out of her left eye. But on some nights, the right eye failed her. All she could see out of it were vague shapes in the room.

At first, it happened about two or three times a week. Then it started happening every night.

When she went to the doctor, her vision appeared normal. So did brain scans. But it was a disturbing trend.

I'm hanging out with my 4-year-old daughter in the early evening, trying to keep her entertained and pull dinner together, when my phone buzzes.

Normally I'd feel guilty for checking it immediately, and distracted even if I didn't. But this time it's not a Twitter mention or an email from my editor. It's a timely suggestion from an app called Muse.

Here's what it says: "Try playing 'Simon Says' with L, using directional words like: behind, around, between. (ex. 'Simon Says stand between the chairs.')"

The camera on your smartphone is powerful. You use it to record your baby's first steps. Take a panorama shot or selfies at the Taj Mahal. Every day, we're finding new uses.

And recently, a startup in Silicon Valley realized: That camera on the phone could be used by people who are blind, to get help seeing remotely. The company Be My Eyes has created a novel kind of volunteer opportunity on the Internet.

Blake Atkins gets a lot of texts from his mother when he's at school. But unlike most teenagers, this 16-year-old doesn't seem to mind.

That's because four years ago, Atkins was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. And now, his mother, Lori, has a way to find out and let him know when his blood sugar levels are out of the normal range.

"I do like that my mom can look at my numbers," says Blake, from San Carlos, Calif. "It keeps me sane. It helps keep her sane."

Finding someone to spend your life with can be hard under any circumstances, but young observant Muslims will tell you that here in the U.S., it's doubly so. They have to navigate strict Islamic dating rules while interacting with the opposite gender in a Westernized world. Now, a handful of young Muslims think that a new app called Ishqr provides a partial solution.

Our Ideas series is exploring how innovation happens in education.

As one of the biggest, most successful tech companies, Google can hire pretty much anyone it wants.

Accordingly, the company tends to favor Ph.D.s from Stanford and MIT. But, it has just partnered with a for-profit company called General Assembly to offer a series of short, noncredit courses for people who want to learn how to build applications for Android, Google's mobile platform. Short, as in just 12 weeks from novice to employable.

A city is easier to live in when it's easy to get around. But getting around is hard in many cities, especially for people who rely on public transit.

Take buses, for example. They may not run when you need them. They might take too long. Or they might not even get to your neighborhood at all.

Transit operators, city officials and people in the federal government all hope that big data will help them change public transportation to get transit where it will be most used.

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