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Money4Machines Blog

  • Modern day Santa’s Little Helpers – Best Christmas Apps 2015

    Christmas can be an overwhelming time… an endless list of Christmas Apppresents to buy, Christmas cards to send, outfits for Christmas parties to find and on top of that you’ve got the office Secret Santa for that guy you’ve spoken to twice – it’s not easy.

    But as always good old technology is here to make things easier for you and you can now install Santa’s little helpers on to your phone. Here are the best apps you can download to make your Christmas a little easier… Christmas Countdown

    Whilst slightly obvious - an essential part of the Christmas season is knowing when Christmas is. Sounds pretty straightforward, but every year I get to the 3rd week in December and suddenly I’m horrified at how soon Christmas is and complete panic descends. So if you’re consistently disorganised like me, this Christmas Countdown app is the perfect solution – you can set the countdown as your screensaver so your impending last minute panic is impossible to avoid. Complete with interactive day count that when you tap the screen the days transform into a firework of embers – this app is super Christmassy and completely free!

    Christmas Gift List

    This free app is perfect for keeping on top of your Christmas present list! Start by creating different profiles for the people you need to buy for, select a budget for each person and start logging in different ideas for gifts you’d like to get! The Christmas Gift List app monitors all your gift buying duties from gifts bought, budget spent, budget left, as well as the number of presents you have left to wrap. Say goodbye to the awkward moment when you forget to buy a family member a present – you’ll have everyone’s presents organised and ready to go with this app!

    Elf Yourself

    The best part of Christmas will always be the merriment, and you don’t get apps much merrier than the Elf Yourself app! As you would expect, the app places selected faces on to the bodies of little dancing elves – the results do not disappoint. Spread some Christmas joy with this app by transforming your family and friends into the freshest elf dance crew in town. This free app is available to download on IOS as well as Android.

    Christmas Music

    The final app to complete your Christmas is the Christmas Music app available for free on IOS. Create the perfect Christmas atmosphere with some traditional Christmas tunes such as Jingle Bells, Silent Night and Winter Wonderland. The songs are covered by independent musicians so they are completely free and legal to play.

    So there you have a few little helpful additions to your phone that can make your Christmas run a little smoother and ensure you have a very Merry Christmas!

  • Apple Music Review – Music streaming service or life-time commitment to Apple?

    As a self-confessed music addict, word of Apple Music’s three-apple-musicmonth free trial certainly perked my ears up. Thirty minutes in to my membership I was downloading my 6th album and deliberating over which songs from Destiny’s Child’s Greatest Hits I wanted to download – just because I could! Apple Music is like winning the lottery for a music lover, you suddenly have access to the majority of the iTunes library and for £9.99 a month that is an absolute steal.

    Apple Music allows you to elevate your existing library to the cloud and then add songs to your hearts content – there is however a 100,000-song limit, which would actually be a huge achievement. Upon joining the service you are asked to select a number of your favourite artists to give the app an idea of your musical preferences. The more you download and stream, the better Apple Music can select your new favourite songs and make recommended playlists in the ‘For You’ section. This is a feature I’ve actually really enjoyed as well as the ‘New’ section that presents the highlights of brand new music as well as artists to watch.

    For the first few weeks I was smitten with Apple Music, downloading every album and song I’d ever been tempted to buy but had been too tight to splash out on. Then as it inevitably always does, the honeymoon period gradually started to wear off and I slowly began to realise by joining Apple Music I’d essentially married Apple…

    The first issue I had with Apple Music was the fact it made my fully functioning iPod Touch completely redundant. I’d had my iPod for verging on three years and (despite my shocking track record of breaking iPods) it worked perfectly! But simply because it’s a 4th generation iPod Apple have deemed it too old for the IOS 9.0 update - and consequently I can’t have Apple Music on it. This immediately rang alarm bells. If my current iPod isn’t good enough for Apple Music what’s there to stop Apple from cutting off later generation Apple devices from future IOS updates- does this mean I will forever be buying brand new Apple products just to keep my Apple Music library?

    In November Apple Music finally released the app for Android devices (putting the final nail in the coffin for my iPod touch) and things were looking up as I could instantly access my entire iTunes library. But then came the Android issues… for some reason the app repeatedly paused songs even when you’re not using the phone (not ideal when you’re driving) and weirdly began streaming different versions of songs I’d downloaded prior to joining Apple Music. Again, not exactly ideal!

    All in all I’m undecided on Apple Music. I definitely think it is worth the money – the average price of an album on iTunes is around £9.99, so if you download an album a month you’ve already broken even. My main concern with Apple Music is whether my subscription to the service will result in a lifetime commitment to Apple products – simply to keep up to date with the latest software that Apple Music runs by. However, I think it’s something worth the risk and I’m going to cast my fear of commitment to the side and embrace the world of Apple Music…

  • TGI Black Friday


    Our friends across the pond have Black-Friday1produced many wonderful things…  Leonardo DiCaprio, overpowering enthusiasm, Beyonce and the guy you know is bad for you but can’t help but go back to – Ronald McDonald. Now America’s latest export comes in the form of shopping extravaganza Black Friday.

    Whilst sounding a tad ominous Black Friday is actually the day after Thanksgiving when most major retailers spark the Christmas shopping season with a bang - offering extended opening hours and sizeable discounts! Here in Britain we’ve slowly been introducing the concept to our stores over the last five years after Amazon trialled the idea in 2010. Retailers such as John Lewis, ASDA, Tesco’s and even British Airways have jumped on the bandwagon since and this is year we’re set for another big day of discounts.

    Getting in on the act this year we have John Lewis, Amazon, Currys, Tesco and Carphone Warehouse amongst others offering promotional sales for the day. Now if you’re already aware that Christmas is coming around quick and fancy nipping that shopping list in the bud Black Friday is the perfect opportunity!

    Santa obviously needs his little helpers so to guide you through the chaos of Black Friday there are a couple of apps that can help shine the divine shopping light.

    The ‘Hot UK Deals’ app gives you access to the freshest deals, voucher codes, freebies and savings across a number of sites in the UK. You can scroll through different categories such as mobiles, gaming and computers or if you know what you’re after just use the search tool to pin point your perfect deal.

    Additionally, there are several apps available on both and Android and IOS purely dedicated to finding the best Black Friday deals- Amazon themselves have their own app for the occasion.

    So if you’re brave enough to face the shops on Friday the 27th November make sure you’re prepared for battle. Alternatively if you’d prefer to fight behind the comfort of a screen make sure you enlist an app to do the hard work for you!

  • 5 Tips for Achieving the Perfect Fireworks Picture on your Phone

    Have you ever found yourself wasting the entirety of a Fireworks display desperately attempting to take one good photo on your phone?

    Well say goodbye to the days of having hundreds of blurry indistinguishable blobs of colour on your screen - we’ve got a few tips to help you achieve the perfect firework picture this year.

    1/ Get Steady… There’s only so much Auto-Focus can do if you’re flailing around like you’re on a boat in a hurricane. Find yourself a good spot where you can lean on something/someone - or if you’re truly dedicated to the shot use a tripod.

    2/ Turn the Flash Off Although flash is the obvious choice for a night time shot in this case it will only light up the objects closest to you… the people you’re stood behind. So not only will it ruin your firework picture but you might also get a few dodgy looks from the people in front of you!

    3/ Don’t use digital zoom Even though those fireworks appear to be miles and miles away using the phone’s digital zoom too much will only pixelate the image and result in another blurry firework picture. Keep digital zoom to a minimal and crop the image afterwards!

    4/ Turn down the ISO Using a high ISO is usually ideal for taking pictures in the dark as it increases the camera’s sensitivity to light. However, as fireworks are so bright it can result in overexposure and noise in the image. So by turning off Auto ISO and setting to ISO 100 or lower you’ll achieve a crisper image.

    5/ Let your phone do the hard work If you still don’t trust yourself to get the perfect picture don’t stress - Android phones have their own Fireworks setting so all you have to do is stand and point!

    Now you can proudly take to Instagram and Facebook to show off your expert photography this Fireworks season!

  • Round the world in 60 seconds!

    It’s that time of year again, winter is nearly upon us.

    It's cold, wetGoogle Cardboard and dark, and as you're sitting at your desk you can’t help but dream of the Carribean, the Maldives, Bali… anywhere other than the office.

    Well it’s a great time to be alive… the wonders of Technology have found a way to literally place the world in the palm of your hand/in your face with Google’s virtual reality version of Streetview.

    Google has now made the popular Street View app available to view on its budget Virtual Reality offering - Google Cardboard. Take a trip to the Grand Canyon, spot elephants in Kenya, even swim with sea lions off the Galapagos islands (technology is ridiculous)… the world is your oyster!

    Granted you won’t actually be on the beach and you won’t actually feel the warmth, but, with the right attitude, it might provide you with some light relief from the drab English winter.

    To sweeten the deal - this gift of virtual teleportation could be yours for absolutely nothing! I say could as you’ll need to have your own neodymium ring magnet (what?), perfectly shaped lens that have 45mm focal distance (who doesn’t?), as well as an extraordinary skill to cut cardboard with exact precision, but, the option is there! Google offer a free download of instructions to build your own cardboard goggles, or, if you’re not feeling the DIY route, you can buy a pre-made one from around £20.

    Also available on Google Cardboard… rather randomly you can experience Sir Paul McCartney perform ‘Live and Let Die’ in 360 degrees, take a roller coaster ride round the planets on the VR Cosmic Roller Coaster, or even travel back in time for a stroll with the Dinosaurs with Jurassic VR.

    Still in its early days, the concept of Virtual Reality might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there is certainly a lot of potential for it to grow and develop into the next generation for gaming and apps.

  • Penny Pinching for Smart Phone Users


    Being back at school and university, everyone knows how hard it is Penny Pinchingto budget yourself appropriately. Especially when challenged with being a fresher in a new town and dare we say it… Christmas approaching! Here is an introduction to some of the best apps to assist even the most frugal fresher pinch pennies at the start of a new term.

    My Superlist This app is available on iPhone. This app helps you to track down deals on your food shop whether you’re out and about or shopping online, simply type in your shopping list and this app will tell you where you can find what you are after for the cheapest price. This app even allows you to claim cash back on certain items which means even more savings!

    The Voucher Cloud This app is free and available on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. The name speaks for itself with this extremely useful and easy to use app generates voucher codes for a wide range of items.

    Mint Available on iPhone and Android and completely free. This app keeps track of every transaction that you make from your account. You can log activity from all of your accounts including savings and checking accounts. Mint also keeps track of your spending patterns and generates a budget for the user. Another feature which is available to iPad users is visual representation of spending habits which is presented in graph form, so you can keep complete track of where every penny you spend is going.

    ATM hunter Free to use and available on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. We’ve all been in that situation where you are on a day/night out and you cannot find a cashpoint! This free to use app helps you locate the nearest cash point to you, which can be incredibly useful for fresher’s in a new town. This app also allows you to search for cash points that are specific to your bank or free to use cash points to help you avoid those pesky charges.

    These are just a few of the apps out there to help out those people looking to save money and track their spending! These apps should help you organise your expenses and finances to help you get through your time at university without any unwanted money dramas.

  • Back to School: Educational Apps and Tools

    Technology has not only become very important in everyday life, butBlog Picture in the last few years the use of technology has become more common and is very steadily becoming the norm and an expected tool in both in class and outside learning.  With the ever expanding and growth of downloadable apps and learning tools and it can be hard to decipher which apps are the ones for you – What educational value can they provide while still being fun?

    With the days of starring at a black board with the teacher writing endless notes seemingly at an end here is a look at some of the top rated apps to assist in learning

    Khan Academy: With a catalogue of over 3,000 videos and a vast array of topics ranging from Maths to history Khan Academy seems to have the ability to teach you anything.

    Star walk for the iPad: Star walk is an interactive educational app, which allows you to take advantage of a clear evening, by learning about astronomy.  Simply point your iPad at the desired area and Star walk will tell you what you are looking at. This app can also contains functions such as: satellite tracking, stargazing calendar planning and the ability to be connected to a bigger screen.

    As we all know revision is a very important tool when it comes to making sure you get the grades you have been working hard for all year. There is an abundance of apps that can aid you with revision. The ‘Revision guide – Ultimate revision tool!” is among the most highly rated revision applications. It can help you revise through the whole sphere of subjects and can assist you through all levels - from GCSE’s to University. It has over 1 million revision notes and flashcards and you can store the notes relevant to at the time in your own folder.

    Remember there are hundreds of great apps available to help you both learn and revise through the year and stressful exam periods. Technology is a great tool for educational and fun learning. These are just a couple we have come across – Happy Learning!

  • iPHONE 6s, 6s PLUS OR 6c AND 7?


    Over the past few months there has been plenty of speculation and leaked information about the latest addition to the Apple line of smartphones.

    What will the highly anticipated phone be called? It is expected that Apple will stick to the current naming convention, suggesting the new models will be called the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, however the difficulty of getting your tongue around iPhone 6s Plus has led to speculation that Apple are going to scrap this naming convention and dub the new model iPhone 7. These, like many other details remain to be confirmed, we will have to wait and see!

    Naming aside there are expected to be a number of additional feature and hardware changes made to the new model which may come as a surprise to some. New colours such as “Rose Gold”  may become available - with more questions being asked about the possibility of an iPhone 6c. We have also come across rumours suggesting Apple may be adopting the same 700 aluminium series they have used in the Apple Watch in an attempt to make the new models more durable and less susceptible to bending. Rumour has it that the new iPhone will have a faster processor, an additional 2 GB RAM and improved camera and video recording capabilities.

    The question is whether the cost of this will be pushed onto the buyer, or will Apple absorb this cost? Rumours aside, like you we are eagerly anticipating the latest addition to the Apple family - with plans to unveil the new iPhones on the 7th of September- we hope it meets our expectations.

  • Trade in your old phone but not your Identity!

    So you have decided you want to trade in your old mobile phone but you are worried about the data you are leaving behind. How can you quickly delete your identity from your old phone?

    Firstly you might have concerns about losing your old photos and videos stored on your phone. Fear not- There are a number of options on offer to make sure you don’t lose those treasured memories, with iCloud, Google Drive, One Drive and Dropbox being some of the most popular. Simply find the solution that works best for you.

    With your phone safely backed up it’s time to consider your e-mail and social media accounts you have saved onto your phone. Removing your personal information, especially passwords is so important, not only will you struggle to find a recycling company that will accept your device with such information or enabled passcodes in place - you don’t want this information falling into the wrong hands.

    It doesn't take much for a fraudster to get hold of enough information to steal your identity - accessing your personal information, obtaining credit and other benefits using your name. Access to a social media account or e-mails could provide a fraudster with an avenue to access this information.

    There is one more step which will help protect you and your identity. Perform a factory reset on your phone, this will ensure your phone is cleared of any personal data and personal settings you may have applied. Still feeling a bit uneasy after the factory reset? Simply go back into your phone and double check all your information is removed to put your mind at ease before sending your device off to be recycled. Your phone should now appear as it did when you first purchased it.

    Reset and ready to recycle - Send your phone in, rest easy and wait for the payment to be made. Put the money towards a newer phone? Or a nice relaxing summer get away? It is up to you!

    Get Paid, Upgrade with reliable electronics recycling!

  • The eternal struggle to charge our phones

    Image c/o Getty Image c/o Getty

    One of our editors took a Nokia 106 handset away for two weeks of snowboarding. Granted, he didn't leave it turned on the entire time, but he only had to charge it ONCE.

    Let that sink in. One time. One single overnight charge to keep it going.

    Try that business with a smartphone and see where it gets you.

    Most of us see that precious juice ebbing from our handsets around late afternoon. So, what can we do? For one, you can check out of Twitter feed for links to heaps of advice on how to save charge on your smartphone. Secondly, take a look at a few of the more novel ideas the tech world is looking at to help us keep our smartlives turned on!

    Converting telephone boxes to superheats charging stations Using lightning. Yes. Lightning. Adapting cooking stoves to also charge devices. Creating some way to use the power of walking to charge your smartphone. Using sweat (we're not that clear on this one.....) For more on this story, head to BBC Tech.


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