TIME Gadgets

8 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Do with Your Smartphone

I use my smartphone every day, often in the first few minutes I wake up. It’s not because I’m addicted (ok, maybe I am a little bit addicted) – it’s because my phone is so darn useful. It tells me the weather. It helps me avoid and navigate around traffic jams. It helps me keep in touch with my friends.

Of course, you probably know all about that stuff. But your smartphone can do some pretty unusual things that you’ve probably never even considered. Here are some of the most amazing, out-there tasks your smartphone can help you conquer.

Diagnose a leaky window

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FLIR

As a homeowner in the oft-frosty Northeast, I know how important it is to have tightly sealed windows in the wintertime. Finding leaky windows doesn’t just make my home more comfortable; it saves money on my electric bills.

How can you find these energy-wasting areas of your home? Simple: Turn your phone into a thermal imaging camera with the FLIR ONE add on. It fits onto your phone much like a Mophie Juice Pack does, and translates thermal energy into color images. It’ll show you where cold air is seeping into your house, where pipes need better insulation and even help locate overloaded circuits.

The FLIR ONE Personal Thermal Imager is compatible with both the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. It’s available for purchase directly from FLIR.com for $349.

Measure your heart health

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AliveCor

You don’t need to take a trip to an expensive hospital lab to get a detailed look at your heart health – there’s a smartphone app (and device) for that.

The AliveCor Heart Monitor rests on your chest or finger, converting electrical impulses from your body into a printable ECG graph. The included AliveECG app helps you understand if your ECG is normal, or if you have an issue you should consult a professional about. The device is no substitute for an expertly trained doctor, but if you’re concerned about your heart health, it makes a great supplement.

The AliveCor Heart Monitor is available as a stand-alone device or with a case for the iPhone 5/5S. Both are available for order at store.alivecor.com for $199.

Prevent drunk driving

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BACtrack

Imagine you’re at a house party with a couple close friends. You’ve all shared a glass or two of wine. You feel like you’re probably O.K. to drive, but it’d be far more responsible to know for sure.

That’s where the new Bluetooth BACtrack Vio Smartphone Breathlyzer comes in. The compact keychain device measures the alcohol present on your breath in just five seconds, wirelessly sending your BAC reading to your iOS or Android smartphone. An included app will predict how long it’ll take for your levels to return to 0%, helping you plan whether to call a cab or just “wait it out.”

The BACtrack Vio is available directly from BACtrack and at Amazon.com for just $49.99.

Watch over-the-air TV

Belkin

You may already know that your smartphone can connect to streaming video services like Hulu, allowing you to catch your favorite TV shows on the go. But did you know there’s a way to watch your favorite shows live, over-the-air? It’s possible with the Belkin Dyle.

The Dyle is a small antenna device that connects directly to your older iPhone or iPad’s charger port to receive over-the-air digital signals. It’s a great way to catch coverage of the big game while you’re sitting in the stands, pass time while riding the commuter rail or keep the kids busy in the car. Of course, for the device to work, you’ll need to be close to a major metropolitan area to pick up a quality signal.

The 30-pin Belkin Dyle is compatible with the iPhone 4/4S, iPad, iPad 2 and 3rd generation iPad. You can buy yours direct from Belkin or on Amazon.com for $29.99.

Measure your muscles

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Skulpt

As any health expert will tell you, your bathroom scale isn’t the best way to measure progress at the gym. Muscle weighs more than fat, so gaining the occasional pound or two can be a very good thing.

The Skulpt Aim helps you get a better handle on your fitness by tracking your body fat percentage and the muscle fiber size instead of your weight. It uses small electrodes to measure individual muscle groups and areas and relays the info to your phone, giving you an overall picture of where you’re making progress and where you’re not. The device even comes with an app that recommends exercises that are best for your body’s unique composition.

The Skulpt Aim works with both Android and iOS devices and is expected to start shipping in fall 2014. You can preorder yours at skulpt.me for $169.99, which includes free shipping.

Figure out why your check engine light is on

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Automatic

I own an older Honda Civic. It’s a great, reliable car. But now that it’s been in service for nearly a decade, seeing the check engine light come on is a fairly regular occurrence.

The good news: You and I don’t need to take our cars to an expensive mechanic just to get that light diagnosed – we can do it ourselves using our smartphones and a device like Automatic. It connects directly to your car’s onboard computer, turning check engine events into push alerts to your iOS and Android phone. If it’s a minor issue, you may be able to fix it and clear the light yourself, saving a trip to the shop.

Automatic also tracks your driving, giving you feedback on your acceleration and breaking habits that can help improve your gas mileage. It can even alert emergency authorities in case of a disabling crash.

Automatic is compatible with most gasoline cars sold in the U.S. since 1996. You can purchase the device directly from Amazon for $79.99.

Improve your basketball skills

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94Fifty

Are you looking to take your son or daughter’s basketball game to the next level? You could clear out the spare bedroom and spend some serious cash on a live-in NCAA-quality basketball coach. Or, you could save the six-figure expense and get a similar coaching experience from a smart basketball like the 94Fifty.

The 94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball is a regulation size and weight ball that contains a tiny Bluetooth sensor that measures spin and bounce. It connects wirelessly to iOS and Android phones to offer real-time feedback during the included training exercises, helping to improve skills in the moment. It’s like having a real basketball coach with you at all times, even when you’re just shooting a few layups in the driveway.

The 94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball is available in both men’s and women’s sizes on Amazon.com for $249.95.

Catch fish

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Friday Lab

Normally, a family camping trip would be a reason to leave the smartphone behind so you can better enjoy the great outdoors. But let’s face it, this is 2014. Modern technology can make everything better – even your time away from it on the lake.

How? Check out the Deeper Fish Finder. The small, spherical device works as a fish-finding sonar in both salt and fresh water, helping you locate fish up to 120 feet under the surface. You simply attach it to a fishing line and cast it where you want to fish – it’ll turn on automatically upon hitting the water. Deeper works with most modern iOS and Android devices, but we recommend pairing it with a waterproof phone or tablet like the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the Sony Xperia Z2.

The Deeper Portable Fish Finder is available for purchase on Amazon.com for $243.43.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Software

5 Cheap Must-Have Apps for Back to School

+ READ ARTICLE

Ready for the school year to begin? Once you’ve picked out a tablet or laptop for your student, it’s time to grab the software that will make it the most useful. We’ve found the best cheap apps and programs to help kids study, work more efficiently and keep up with their assignments.

YouCam Snap

Pictures of whiteboards, projector slides and book pages are great for notes. However, the camera apps that come with them can’t always handle these tasks well, especially if it’s not possible to take pictures head on.

YouCam Snap solves this problem. It can straighten out the curve of book pages, whiteboard text taken at an angle, and even correct the brightness and contrast to capture usable images of bright projector screens in a dark room. And the ability to output the captures as PDFs that can be annotated and shared is a big plus.

Price: Free at iTunes and Google Play

iStudiez Pro

A digital student planner can be just as useful as its paper counterpart, especially if it syncs data across devices. iStudiez helps students keep track of class schedules and manage homework assignments, including pop-up notifications around due dates. Students can even keep track of their grades.

Price: $9.99 at the Mac App Store and $2.99 at iTunes

Looking for an Android alternative? Check out Class Buddy Student Planner for $1.99 on Google Play

Zotero

Zotero makes it easy to collect and organize information on the web as source material for research papers. When the software is installed, it detects usable content pulled up on your computer—text, images, video files, screen shots of web pages or documents, like PDF files—and gives the option to save with one click.

All of the text is searchable and tags can be assigned to each piece of content for easy organization. Once it’s paper-writing time, Zotero will create accurate citations for each item.

There are two versions of Zotero: a Firefox add-on that works across operating systems, and a standalone download for PC and Mac that plugs in to browsers. There are also plugins for MS Word and LibreOffice to make citing easier. All for free.

Price: Free at zotero.org

LibreOffice

If you want a full-featured free office suite, LibreOffice is the best choice. It can do everything that Word, Excel, and PowerPoint can do (except a very few functions only business/power users need) and can save to all the Microsoft Office file types as well as export to PDF.

The only things missing from the suite are Outlook and OneNote equivalents. If desktop email is a must-have, Thunderbird works well and has a great associated calendar app called Lightning. For notes, I suggest Evernote.

Price: Free for Windows and Mac at libreoffice.org

Looking for a good (free) mobile office suite? Check out WPS Office on Google Play and iTunes.

ezPDF Reader

PDFs are one of the most common file types students will encounter, and having an app that can read and edit them is a must. With ezPDF, students can add highlights, notes as comments, scribbles and written annotations, plus add, crop, rotate and delete pages.

Price: $2.99 on iTunes and Google Play, Free for Windows 8 at unidocs.com

Bonus: Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium Edition

Dragon NaturallySpeaking is not inexpensive, but it’s so useful for students that it’s worth the price.

Why? The top-notch voice recognition engine is able to easily to distinguish a voice from background noise, which makes it possible to get transcriptions of lectures. All a student needs is a good recording device or a smartphone with an external mic.

Price: $199 at nuance.com

This article was written by K.T. Bradford and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME How-To

3 Apps That Actually Pay You Money

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Fronto

“Earn extra money simply by doing the things you do every day!”

Let’s be honest: You have good reason to be skeptical of “free money” claims. But there really are a small handful of legitimate advertising-powered smartphone apps that offer you money in exchange for being able to advertise to you.

That’s right, the following three apps won’t save you money — they’ll actually pay you money. None of them will make you a millionaire, but they could put an extra $20 or more in your pocket each and every month. And that’s not too bad just for playing around with your smartphone, right?

Fronto

Would you subject yourself to extra advertising if it meant more money in your pocket? If the concept seems appealing to you, check out the Android app Fronto.

Fronto works by placing ads and curated links to content on your smartphone’s lock screen. Every time you interact with this content, you earn points. Unlock your phone while an advertisement is being shown, for example, and you might earn 20 points. Download an app that Fronto suggests for you, and you might earn 100 or more. Fronto also doles out points for referring friends.

Points do take a while to accumulate, especially if you don’t take Fronto up on any of its special offers. But that’s okay – here, it’s worth the effort. Every 25,000 points can be exchanged for $10 in cold, hard cash, payable directly to your PayPal account.

You can download the free Fronto app on Google Play.

Perk

Want to take your earnings beyond the lock screen? Then check out Perk, a series of apps, browsers, search tools and more that converts virtually everything you do on your phone into points, redeemable for cash.

There are a lot of different apps in the Perk universe: Perk Shopping, Perk Search, Perk Screen, Perk Browser, Perk TV and Perk Pop Quiz. Each offers a function along with a small reward for using it. Search using Perk and you’ll get a few points. Watch an ad on Perk TV and you’ll get a few more. Buy something on 1-800-Flowers and other similar retailers via the Perk Shopping app and you’ll earn a ton.

Like with Fronto, Perk points can be redeemed for cash via PayPal. You’ll get the most bang for your points by redeeming them for gift cards instead. Minimum payouts with Perk are $5.

You can find out more about and download the Perk family of apps at Perk.com.

Shopkick

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Shopkick

Walking around your local mall may be a good way to get a little extra exercise, but it can also be a way to get a little bit of extra money, too. That’s the idea behind Shopkick, an app that rewards you simply for visiting stores.

When you open the Shopkick app at your local mall (or really, whenever), you can see a list of nearby stores that are willing to offer you “kicks” (points) just for walking through the doors. Most of the stores tempting you with points are the type you might walk into anyway, like Walmart, Macy’s, Target or Crate & Barrel. Once you’re in the store, the app might offer you a few challenges (e.g., find and scan a certain item) to earn bonus points. You can even link a credit card to the app to earn points for completing a purchase in-store.

You can rack up enough points to get a reward in a single trip, given the right mall. The minimum reward with Shopkick is a $2 Target gift card, yours for redeeming just 500 points.

You can get the free Shopkick app for iOS via the Apple App Store and for Android via Google Play.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME How-To

Here Are Some Apps to Keep Your Family Organized

Appointments, medications, game schedules, chores — to make a household run smoothly, you need a safe place to store and share information. That’s where apps come in handy.

I found apps that fit every family from traditional nuclear families — parents and kids living under one roof — to grown children taking care of parents to divorced parents with joint custody to people who want to track their pet’s care. Plus, there are specialized apps for playdates, carpooling and chores. Check out my picks below.

For families with young children

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Cozi

Cozi

Cozi lets you keep everyone’s calendar in one place. Each family member is assigned a color, so it’s easy to see who’s busy and who’s free at a glance. And you can make appointments for anyone in your family and sync appointments with Outlook. There’s a very robust reminder system, with the ability to send text and email reminders, as well as a weekly digest. In addition to calendaring, you can share shopping lists and to-do lists with family members, plan meals and create a family journal, which everyone can contribute to.

For $29.99 per year, Cozi Gold members get an ad-free experience, shared contacts, calendar change notifications and a birthday tracker, among other features. The subscription is good for the whole family.

Price: Free at iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Appstore and Windows Store (for Windows Tablets and PCs)

AboutOne

AboutOne knows that there’s a lot more to keeping your family organized than keeping a family calendar. The service goes beyond, with easy ways to store medical information and your home inventory, share pictures, notes and videos and save important documents — receipts, college applications and family-member care sheets. And, you can manage everything with the AboutOne app on your iOS, Android, Windows Phone or Windows 8 device.

The basic service is free and comes with 1GB of document storage, room for six family members and contacts and emergency management. For $5 per month you get 5GB of data, 10 family members and, when available, a family calendar that syncs with popular calendar programs.

Price: Free at iTunes, Google Play and Windows Phone app store

Two Happy Homes

Managing the lives of busy children between two homes can be challenging. But Two Happy Homes makes it a little easier with a communication and organization service built specifically for co-parenting. Parents keep a joint calendar and contact list, can send private notes and share medical information, documents and pictures. There’s even a place to track and pay expenses online.

The basic service is free and includes the calendar, notes, expense tracking and 10 contacts and documents. For $14.98 per month, you get unlimited documents and contacts, plus medical information sharing and payment of expenses through PayPal.

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Carpool Kids

Carpool Kids

Coordinating carpools can be stressful, but Carpool Kids makes it easy. Set up one-time or recurring events, assign a driver and add kids to the car. If there are changes, updates can by pushed to everyone through the app or email. If you want to set up more than one carpool at a time, there’s a $4.99 yearly subscription fee.

Price: Free in iTunes or on Carpool-Kids.com

InstantPlaydates

Who’s free to go to the park right now or meet at the museum on Saturday? InstantPlaydates lets you easily schedule playdates with your Facebook friends. When you’re heading to the park, you broadcast your availability and how long you’ll be there. Or, you can check to see who’s currently available.

Price: Free at iTunes or on InstantPlaydates.com

You Rule Chores

You Rule Chores ($3.99 on iTunes) makes it easy to set up a chores and rewards list. Throughout the day, kids can check off their chores and earn coins to gain rewards. Kids can choose from a great selection of avatars and level them up with new powers and gadgets as they complete chores. A quick glance at the opening screen of the app shows how many chores are left for each child, making it into a competition to see who gets them all done first. A good choice for Android is iRewardChart ($3.99 on Google Play and iTunes), which has a similar chore and rewards system, but no fun characters or weekly competition.

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CareZone

For adult children taking care of parents

When parents need the help of their adult children, caretaking can become a family affair. CareZone helps ease the way with a free service that lets family members share care. The CareZone Senior app has a journal to record what’s going on, notes for day-to-day communication, a place to store important documents and a shared to-do list. Medication dosages, doctor’s visits and prescriptions can be easily tracked. And, there’s one shared contact list and calendar. Better yet, everything can be tracked on your smartphone.

Price: Free at iTunes and Google Play

For pet parents

Keeping on top of feeding, grooming, exercise and medical care of a pet requires organization. Pet Master Pro keeps you organized with easy tracking features for medications, vaccinations, insurance and even microchip information — invaluable in any emergency situation. In addition, you can manage appointments with the groomer or dog walker.

Price: $2.99 at iTunes or $4.99 at Google Play.

This article was written by Suzanne Kantra and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME How-To

The Best Photo-Sharing Sites

Digital cameras and smartphones mean that most of us have a ton of photos scattered everywhere, from phones and computer hard drives to Facebook and Instagram profiles.

But what happens when you switch phones, upgrade computers or simply want to search all your photos at once?

Uploading pictures to a photo sharing site is a simple way to answer all those questions—and the services offer lots of other benefits, as well. You can organize large photo collections, make it easier for friends and family to contribute to shared albums and ensure your pictures stay with you no matter which device they came from.

There are four main criteria to think about when picking the best site for your needs:

1. Cost of storage. First you need to figure out how much memory you’ll need. This is largely determined by where most of your pictures come from. Smartphone photos can range from 500KB to 2MB in size, while photos from point-and-shoot cameras are usually 1-5MB, depending on the megapixel count of the camera. Choose lower storage limits at first; you can always pay for more when you need it.

2. Automatic photo sync. If you take a lot of photos, a service that syncs images automatically via a smartphone app or folder on your desktop can take out the hassle out of backing up.

3. Privacy. Do you want complete control over who can see your pictures? Family albums, for instance, might benefit from a site that keep albums password protected.

4. Full-size upload and download. If you want to back up a collection or print your photos, find a service that allows full-resolution uploads and downloads. Some services downsize photos for quicker uploads.

Below are our favorite sites and their best features. Let us know what you think – and what you use – in the comments.

Photobucket: Great for Editing

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Photobucket

If your smartphone doesn’t offer much in the way of touch-up tools – or if you’re transferring pics from a digital camera – you may want to check out photo services with basic editing tools built in. Stalwart photo-sharing site Photobucket offers an intuitive image editor with simple features, such as red-eye removal, sharpening and cropping. You can also add splashes of color to a black and white photo, try out vintage-style filters and draw or write on pictures.

You can upload photos from Facebook, your computer, or other websites. You can also create shared albums where friends can contribute photos, video and text of their own. Albums can be posted to Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Photobucket has a large community of users who post pictures to a public photo feed with tons of interest tags and trending topics, so it’s also a good option if you want your albums to reach more than friends and family.

The site also has its own photo-printing service to reproduce images for framed prints, canvas wraps, photo books and even blankets and shower curtains.

Cost of storage: 2GB free, with an additional 8GB if you use the Photobucket app; prices range from 20GB for $2.99/month ($29.99/year) up to 500GB for $39.99/month ($399.99 a year)
Automatic photo sync? Yes, with desktop computer and iPhone/Android apps
Do you need an account to view photos? No
Privacy control: You can add a password to albums or choose to make them visible only to you
Full-size uploads/downloads? Yes

Flickr: Great for Large Photo Collections

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Flickr

The grandaddy of photo-sharing sites, Flickr offers 1TB of storage for free (which can hold some 2 million photos) with no limit on picture resolution. Users can also upload 1080p high-definition video clips up to three minutes long.

Users can organize pictures into collections and sub-collections, with options to tag keywords and people either individually or in batches of photos. You can search your library by keyword or people tags and sort by dates that pictures were posted or taken—a godsend when a lifetime’s worth of photos start to stack up.

Flickr displays photos in a minimalist grid with a slideshow option. The site also offers the same beginner-friendly image editor as Photobucket, with Instagram-style color filters, cutesy effects like frames and stickers and basic editing tools, such as contrast, saturation and focus tweaks.

You can upload photos via email, the website, or directly from the Flickr smartphone app and share albums on Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter. Avid photographers will have a huge audience in the Flickr community, who post 3000 photos every minute on average.

Cost of storage: Free, with 1TB of storage and displayed ads; $49.99 a year for ad-free version
Automatic photo sync? Yes, through the Flickr smartphone app for iPhone and Android
Do you need an account to view photos? No
Privacy control: You can choose the audience for every photo as friends, family, public or only you (adding contacts allows you to set them as friends or family)
Full-size uploads/downloads? Yes

Yogile: Great for Collaborative Sharing

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Yogile

If you’re hosting an event where many people will be taking photos, such as a wedding, Yogile is a simple way to create a shared gallery where everyone can upload their photos without the need to sign up for an account. Once you create the gallery, attendees have two upload options: Upload images directly to a custom URL or reply to a Yogile-generated email with photos attached. You are given a link where attendees can go to upload or email their own photos.

This no-frills service has no editing options except for changing captions and photographer credits. You can sort photos by date or by contributor and anyone with access to the album can download full-size images. A slideshow option is a neat way to watch the story of the event unfold, as each photographer’s pictures intermix into the correct chronological order.

Cost of storage: $44.95 per year for unlimited uploads; free for 100MB worth of uploads a month, but albums automatically delete after 14 days
Automatic photo sync? No
Do you need an account to view photos? No
Privacy control: You can add a password to your gallery.
Full-size uploads/downloads? Yes

500px: Great for Discovery

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500px

This sleekly designed site is all about its striking photography. You’ll find no family pics or collections of vacation snaps on 500px; instead there are highly edited shots of landscapes, animals and beautiful people, displayed in a minimal, endlessly-flowing grid.

You can upload pictures from your computer or import them from Dropbox, Facebook, Instagram and more. You can add keyword tags to make your photos easier to find.

Once you pick a couple categories you’re interested in, say People or Macro, 500px will try to match you with other users whose tastes match yours. When you start following particular categories and photographers, your homepage (called “Flow”) will display pictures that your contacts have liked or commented on. You can also browse through dozens of themes, including Abstract, Street or Journalism.

For pro users, premium accounts come with a portfolio website. 500px also offers the chance to buy – or sell – photos as wall art or stock photography.

Cost of storage: Free for 20 uploads a week; plans from $2.08/month allow unlimited uploads and the ability to organize photos into sets
Automatic photo sync? No
Do you need an account to view photos? No
Privacy control: You can upload pictures privately so that only you see them; otherwise they are publicly visible by default.
Full-size uploads/downloads? Yes

Shutterfly: Great for Photo Products

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Shutterfly

Shutterfly offers a creative range of photo gifts, including metal prints, wooden wall art and battery cases for smartphones. There’s also the usual lineup of personalized stationary, crockery, blankets and cushions, as well as kiddy-oriented products like lunch bags, puzzles and books customized with your little one’s face throughout their pages.

Even if you don’t purchase any photo prints, Shutterfly is a good option for collating your photo collection online, as it offers unlimited storage with no restrictions on the size of photos uploaded and the ability to import pictures directly from Facebook, Instagram, iPhoto, Google+ Photos and Adobe Photoshop. You can also send pictures through iPad, iPhone or Android apps.

Once pictures are uploaded, you can send a link to the gallery via email or Facebook for friends to view. Anyone who can view your album can also order prints of the pictures in it. For collaborative albums, you can create a “Share” micro-site for group members to upload photos and share calendars, messages and polls.

Cost of storage: Free, with unlimited storage; signing up gets you 50 free prints
Automatic sync? No
Do you need an account to view photos? No
Privacy control: Albums are private by default and Share sites are limited to their members.
Full-size uploads/downloads? Yes

ThisLife: Great for Collating Diverse Sets of Photos

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ThisLife

If your pictures are scattered throughout the Internet, photo aggregator ThisLife can import and organize them. The service links with Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, Picasa and SmugMug to pull in all your photos and sort them by date and place. You can upload full resolution pictures directly from your computer and premium accounts support high-definition video, as well.

Photos are privately displayed in a timeline and can be further organized by category and people tags. You can also search by information in the image metadata (the camera used to snap the photo), its original source and the keywords associated with it (Instagram hashtags).

You can also organize pics into “Story” galleries that you can then share via email. Since the service is owned by Shutterfly, you can also create prints and other photo gifts of your pictures.

Cost of storage: Free up to 2,500 photos; $59/year for 25,000 photos; $139/year for 100,000 photos
Automatic photo sync? Yes, through a desktop folder or the Instagram app
Do you need an account to view photos? No
Privacy control: Only friends with the link to the gallery can view it; however there’s no password protection
Full-size uploads/downloads? Yes

Google+ Photos: Great for Slideshows

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Google+

A lot of photo-sharing sites offer a slideshow feature, but Google+ Photos throws in some unique auto-create options for photos taken with an iPhone or Android phone.

If you turn on auto back up and location history in the Google+ app, Google will collate a “Story” slideshow based on pictures snapped while you’re away from your usual haunts—that is, when it thinks you’re on vacation.

If you take a set of similar photos—say, on burst mode—the Auto Awesome feature turns the images into a mini-animation, viewable from the website or app. If you’re on an Android phone (OS version 4.3 or newer), there’s an additional Movie feature that can stitch together a movie from photos and videos you select.

You can also upload photos from your smartphone or computer and manually create albums. Photos can be as public or private as you want; users of the Google+ social network can set which Circles can view the photos, or simply email friends a link to the gallery. The photo viewer offers sharing and editing options, as well as a slideshow view.

Cost of storage: Free for unlimited photos at Google’s downsized “standard” size, which is sufficient for web sharing, or 15GB of full-size pictures (storage shared with Google Drive and Gmail accounts); from $1.99/month for 100GB, up to $299.99/month for 30TB
Automatic photo sync? Yes, option to sync to a private album via a desktop folder and iPhone/Android apps
Do you need an account to view photos? No
Privacy control: You can set the audience for the photo album and prevent others from sharing the album.
Full-size uploads/downloads? Yes, but full-resolution photos count against storage limit

Zenfolio: Great for Professionals

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Zenfolio

Built to host portfolios rather than photo feeds, Zenfolio offers sleek homepage layouts to show off your best images and a blog where you can easily upload photos and videos as you go.

There’s no limit on the size or number of photos you can upload, so it’s a good tool to store ultra-high resolution images taken with a DSLR.

You can sort photos into galleries that have searchable descriptions and category and keyword tags. Photos can be viewed as an elegant slideshow in which you control the background music and the player’s speed and transitions.

Zenfolio supports plug-ins to transfer pictures from professional photo-management software, such as Adobe Lightroom and Aperture. For pros who want to sell their prints, there’s the option to build in a shopping cart, as well guestbook and contact pages.

Cost of storage: $30/year for 2GB of storage, plus an additional 1GB for every year you hold an account; $60/year for unlimited storage; from $140/year to add selling features
Automatic photo sync? No
Do you need an account to view photos? No
Privacy control: You can add a password to a gallery to keep it private
Full-size uploads/downloads? Yes

Facebook: Great for Social Sharing

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Facebook

If you simply want your photos stored where it’s easy for friends to see them and share them with other friends, then Facebook might the best place to upload your camera work. You get unlimited uploads, a high likelihood that the person you want to tag is also on the network (something that the fuller-featured, lesser-used Google+ cannot claim) and a simple interface for liking and commenting on photos.

You can send individual pictures by private message, or share a particular photo publicly on a friend’s wall. Each album also has the option to be turned into a shared album, allowing multiple friends to add to the gallery.

The downside, as with all things Facebook, is that it isn’t possible to be truly private. Even if your album visibility is set to friends-only, photos tagged with friends’ names are still viewable to all their friends (unless they’ve set their privacy so that no one can see their photos), which could be a turnoff if you’re looking to share family albums.

Uploaded photos are limited to 2048 pixels wide, so high-resolution pictures off a camera will be downsized and therefore less suitable for printing.

Cost of storage: Free, with unlimited uploads
Automatic photo sync? Yes, option to sync privately from smartphone apps, then you choose which ones to share
Do you need an account to view photos? Yes
Privacy control: At your most private settings, friends of anyone tagged in a photo will be able to see that photo.
Full-size uploads/downloads? No

This article was written by Natasha Stokes and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Innovation

Ultra High-Resolution Satellite to Snap Better Photos for Maps

worldview-3 satellite sensor
The WorldView-3 satellite sensor will launch August 13 to capture high-resolution photos DigitalGlobe

The sensor can capture features as small as roughly a foot in size

One of my favorite features of Google Maps (aside from the killer turn-by-turn directions with lane assist) are the included satellite images. It’s both fun and useful to see the world from a bird’s eye view. The only downside: old government restrictions on just how good those satellite photos could be added unnecessary pixelation and blurring.

But as technology has changed and improved, so too have the rules. In June, the feds updated their satellite privacy requirements to allow for far more detailed aerial photos. On August 13, DigitalGlobe will launch its WorldView-3 Satellite Sensor to take full advantage, allowing the company to capture features as small as 31 centimeters (just over 12 inches).

The new satellite will be capable of collecting “key features such as manholes and mailboxes,” the company explains.

The WorldView-3 will bring higher resolution satellite photos to Google and Microsoft, both of whom rely on DigitalGlobe for images. Best of all, it shouldn’t take long to see those new images – according to DigitalGlobe, the new satellite is capable of capturing 680,000 square kilometers of photos per day. That would allow the satellite to capture detailed shots of the entire United States in just over two weeks.

To learn more about the next-gen WorldView-3 satellite and the technology behind it, you can visit the Satellite Image Corporation website.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Gadgets

The 4 Naggiest Products Ever…and Why You Want Them

Somewhere around my son’s 14th birthday, I grew weary of “gently reminding” him to stop wolfing down his food and to clean up his room. Of course he called these gentle reminders nagging, and we both came to realize it wasn’t a good thing. So how do you help someone who needs some coaching or gentle reminders to get out and exercise, sit up straight or quit a bad habit? We’ve found some gadgets and apps to help with that.

New devices equipped with Bluetooth Low Energy, which have enough battery power to run for days, alert you to your stats and behavior patterns. From eating to quitting smoking to practicing good posture, there’s a device to remind you of your good intentions — and unlike your parents, spouse or friends, if they start nagging too much, you can always turn them off.

Lumo Lift Posture Sensor

lumo lift
Lumo BodyTech

When I was growing up, my grandmother always reminded me to sit up straight. I straightened my back whenever the words came out of her mouth, whether I was standing up or sitting on the couch.

Lumo Lift is a wearable device that looks like a lapel pin with a magnetic clasp. The built-in sensor buzzes or vibrates to let you know when you’re slouching, gently nudging you to regain proper form. The vibration frequency can be adjusted to your preference.

If you need a visual reminder of how your posture can slip during the day, prop up your mobile device on your desk and watch the app react to your movements. As your body slouches, the stick figure on the screen slouches as well. As you straighten your back and open your shoulders, the figure does too — while displaying a happy face.

Like other fitness devices, Lumo Lift can track your daily activity to see if you’re reaching your goals. Aside from reminding you throughout the day, the app lets you see how much time you spend sitting, what distance you walked or how many calories you burned. Battery life is about five days. Lumo Body Tech calls this positive reinforcement throughout the day; I say it acts just like my grandma.

Price: $99 by preorder at Lumobodytech.com

June Sun Exposure Tracker

june
Netatmo

The beautiful, jewelry-like June bracelet from Netatmo measures how long you’ve been in the sun and, just like your mom, reminds you to reapply sunscreen. The sensor in the bracelet tracks UV intensity, sending it wirelessly to a mobile app. You tell the iOS app a little about you: whether you’re fair skinned and what color hair and eyes you have. Based on the local UV index, it calculates your maximum suggested daily sun exposure (which is likely a lot lower than you might think it should be).

If you’ve had too much sun and need to take action, the June will alert you to the need to put on a hat or sunglasses, or just move to a shadier spot. The sensor, made to look like a diamond that glistens in the sun, is available in platinum, gold and gunmetal. You can wear it as a bracelet or a brooch. Netatmo says the battery should last for about a month before needing a charge.

The downside of June is that while it’s splash- and sweat-resistant, it’s not water-resistant, so you need to take it off before you go for a swim — and if it’s tucked into your beach bag while you’re in the water, it’s not gauging your exposure to the sun. While it may not keep you from getting burned, the app is likely to help you become more aware of the damage the sun does to your skin.

Price: $99 at Netatmo.com

HAPIfork Food Consumption Pacer

hapifork
Hapilabs

The HAPIfork is a connected smart fork that lets you know when you’re eating too quickly. Just as your mother repeatedly reminded you that eating too quickly will give you an upset stomach, the HAPIfork measures the time between bites and then vibrates to let you know when you’re eating too quickly. The data collected from the fork is sent wirelessly to an app to track your progress.

Using the iOS or Android app, you can see how many bites (“fork servings”) you take per minute. And HAPIfork wants to be part of your overall healthier lifestyle, not just a nag at the dinner table. There’s a coaching program available with tips and advice to guide you through smarter eating, along with suggested meal plans.

You would think the HAPIfork is dishwasher safe. After all, you eat with it; you’ll want to wash it afterwards. Alas, only the tines and handle are waterproof, which means you need to remove the electronics from the fork before placing it in the dishwasher. HAPIfork says you can wash the entire fork under a faucet by hand.

Add to that the need to keep the fork with you at all times for tracking to be effective, and I’m not sure this one will take a bite out of my poor eating habits.

HAPIfork claims a two-week battery life.

Price: $99 at Hapi.com or Amazon

Quitbit Smoking Tracker

quitbit
Quitbit

If you hear “you really should quit smoking” a lot from a parent, child or spouse, it may be time to fire up the Quitbit. Currently available for preorder, the Quitbit is a battery-powered lighter that measures how often you light a cigarette. That’s right, it counts your smokes. But unlike a nagging spouse, it wirelessly tracks your smoking habits so you can see in real time how long it’s been since your last cigarette. The idea is to help you meet your goals and keep you motivated.

There’s a tiny digital screen on the lighter that tells you how many cigarettes you’ve gone through as well as how long it’s been since your last smoke. The iOS or Android app displays your smoking history and lets you set rules for when the lighter can be used. For instance, you can program it to only light a certain number of times a day or to hold off for two minutes after an initial attempt.

The Quitbit battery lasts for about a week or 100 lights, depending on how much you smoke. Quitbit says it’s received 55,000 preorders and expects to ship the items in December 2014, just in time for New Year’s resolutions.

Price: $150 for pre-order at Quitbitlighter.com

This article was written by Andrea Smith and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME privacy

How to Take Control of Your Personal Data

privacy
Getty Images

Just how much data is there about you online?

Before you answer that, think about the slew of social media networks, retailers, insurance providers, fitness tracking services and other digital services you’ve interacted with in your lifetime.

Companies mine the tracks we leave as we browse the Internet, then sell the data to targeted marketing firms and customers. The digital data marketing industry, including companies generating revenue from online ads and selling user data, was worth $62 billion in 2012, according to a 2013 study by the Data-Driven Marketing Institute.

Yet you and I, the users who actually create this data, have little to no control over what it’s used for. Having control over our data means being able to view it in its entirety whenever we want (instead of having to file a formal request with an energy provider, for instance) and to decide if, when and how companies may use it.

“The mere fact that the data is in the cloud puts it at least one or two steps from you having control,” says Lee Tien, senior staff attorney of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights organization. “If you lose access to the Internet, you lose access to your data.” Ideally, Tien says, you would possess a complete copy of your data from all the services you use, downloaded to your computer — and in a perfect world, you’re the only who would have it.

New services are getting on board with that idea. From a vault for your most sensitive documents to a private browser that could one day allow you to sell your data yourself, the services below can help you reclaim control over your digital self.

Your personal encrypted cloud service

Personal is a highly encrypted cloud storage service where users are the only ones with the key necessary to decrypt their data. You can manually upload documents as well as email passwords, account numbers and addresses. Partner service Fillit can automatically save data fields to your cloud. For example, if you’re shopping for car insurance, once you fill out one application, Fillit can auto-populate others.

A link between Personal and the Department of Education allows you to import all data fields from your FAFSA application and National Student Loan records. You can also import data from Facebook and LinkedIn. In the future, says Personal’s chief policy officer Josh Galper, federal health records will also be available for import, letting you manage and share your medical history with doctors or insurance providers as you see fit.

If you want to share data with a trusted friend (for example, so that your spouse can fill in a mortgage application), you can send a key to decrypt and download a particular piece of info from your vault. You can also delete your account at any time, wiping out your virtual vault but keeping everything you’d downloaded.

Personal doesn’t store your log-in details, and since each vault is encrypted, the company itself cannot view the stored data. However, the weak link in the security chain could be devastating if broken. A Personal password that gets hacked due to lax personal security or the theft of a device that’s still logged in could give thieves access to — well, everything, ever.

Price: $29.99/year or $2.99/month with a 30-day free trial

Download social media posts to one secure location

SocialSafe saves a copy of all your social media posts and photos to a local hard drive. Currently supporting seven networks, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it’s searchable across all accounts for specific content such as particular friends or posts about an event. Analytics tools let you see highlights such as most popular photos and which days you’ve posted the most, over any period from a day to lifetime.

Founder Julian Ranger says that the company has no access to user data at all. “We have no servers, no central database that could be a target of a hack,” he says. Instead, users download the SocialSafe software, which connects with each account to directly download your data.

SocialSafe will become even more useful as other types of providers join its ranks. Ranger says that integration with fitness, financial and retail outlets is in the pipeline, and the coming months will see the inclusion of location check-ins, Spotify listening habits and data on the so-called quantified self (diet, fitness and sleep habits). This will allow you to obtain copies of data that’s hitherto been disparately held, and, as Ranger says, gain insight into your own behavior.

Price: $6.99/year (four linked accounts) to $27.99/year (20 linked accounts) with a 30-day free trial

Centralize your bills safely

Bill fetcher FileThis, which will be out of beta testing this year and is expected to support 1,000 services by 2015, connects with utility and financial providers to import bills and statements to your local hard drive or a cloud service like uber-secure service Personal. FileThis supports major banks, Paypal, Verizon, American Express and many energy and water companies.

Once you’ve fetched the documents you need, FileThis can recognize fields (dates, keywords and account numbers) and file various types of statements for easy searching. For example, a National Grid statement would be put in a Utilities folder, then tagged with keywords such as “Gas & Electric” and “Invoice.”

Because FileThis uses bank-level encryption standards and encrypts your log-in details as soon as they’re entered, linking accounts by giving FileThis usernames and passwords should be as secure as online banking. Documents aren’t stored on its servers but simply pass through, encrypted, so hacker breaches should not give access to your data.

Price: Free when linked to six accounts; $2/month or $20/year for up to 12 accounts; or $5/month or $50/year for up to 30 accounts

Collect and protect your browser history

The Meeco browser takes privacy one step further: It stores and encrypts your search history and so-called rich personal data (such as location, age or other info mined by website cookies) in a personal cloud, much like Personal’s model, so that data brokers can’t sell or use the data for advertising. Instead, what you do on the Internet is visible only to you. The idea is that eventually, you can allow particular companies access to particular data about you in exchange for monetary compensation.

The Meeco browser also keeps your web surfing more private by breaking down your history into individual sessions, making it much harder for websites to know who you are and where you’ve been.

Price: Free, currently in beta testing at meeco.me

Download your medical and utility records

In 2010, the U.S. government launched the Blue Button initiative to allow individuals (initially veterans) to download healthcare records. Now many more providers, including labs and pharmacies, allow patients to download medical histories and share them with hospitals, doctors and health insurance companies.

Green Button is the project’s equivalent for energy companies. At the time of posting, 67 energy companies covering 43 million households were participating, allowing customers to download their usage history.

Seeing profit in privacy

What happens if a company’s servers are hacked or a visionary startup that puts privacy first gets bought, as WhatsApp and Instagram were, by a tech giant with a more lax view on user data?

“If the encryption technology is perfectly implemented, then a data breach would be less of an issue — and even if the company is sold, its new owner should still not be able to access user data,” says EFF’s Tien. “But if tech isn’t guaranteed, then what matters is what the terms and conditions say.”

Still, there’s plenty of incentive for companies to get it right. Personal, SocialSafe and Meeco are capitalizing on today’s high concern about online privacy. In the wake of unfolding revelations of mass surveillance, privacy breaches and data losses, companies that don’t respect privacy wind up with a bad rep and lose customers.

Take Personal: The bulk of its revenue is intended to come from companies, such as the businesses that pay for information on users who auto-fill online forms using the service. The for-pay model seems to assuage customers’ privacy concerns. “[In its early stages], people wanted to pay to subscribe to the service, so that they know they’re not the product,” says Personal’s Galper.

At the end of the day, as EFF’s Tien says, “Everything is all about economics.” If a company can turn a profit by tapping into a burgeoning need for privacy, it’s more likely to release a privacy-friendly product. And as Americans grow savvier about online privacy, so will the demand for services whose business models respect user data — and our right to its control.

This article was written by Natasha Stokes and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME wireless carriers

The Best Family Smartphone Plan

Family Plans
Stephen Simpson / Getty Images

If you’re paying a large cellphone bill for a large family, then you’ve no doubt noticed all the ads on TV and the Internet about the latest, greatest “family plan” offering huge discounts for families of four or more. Every carrier has a family plan, and yes, some of them are solid deals.

But as you can imagine, there’s fine print to every deal. Joining a family plan is harder than it sounds, and you might need to put up a lot of cash up front first. Here are all the details on each of the major carriers’ family plans, fine print included.

Verizon

Verizon’s most affordable family plan is called MORE Everything with Edge. It offers a family of four unlimited talk, unlimited text and 10GB of data for $160 ($15 per line x 4 + $100 data access). That price doesn’t include fees, taxes and data surcharges, which could add another $10 to $20 to your bill per month.

There’s a catch, however: Verizon’s Edge plans require you to surrender your two-year phone subsidies. If you’re a current Verizon customer, you can join an Edge plan with your own phone when your current contracts expire. But you’ll have to pay full price for phones from that day forward.

AT&T

AT&T’s most affordable family smartphone plan is called Mobile Share Value. Like Verizon’s plan above, it also offers unlimited talk, unlimited text and 10GB of data for $160 ($15 per line x 4 + $100 data access). Fees, taxes and data surcharges are extra.

AT&T’s Mobile Share Value plan has the same limitations that Verizon Edge plans do: You need to surrender your two-year phone subsidies. If you don’t already have AT&T compatible phones, you’ll need to buy the four at full price.

Sprint

The pricing of Sprint’s Unlimited Framily Plans is a bit complicated, as your price per line decreases as you add new ones. For a family of four, Sprint’s Framily plan offers unlimited talk and unlimited text, but just 1GB of high-speed data per line, for $160 total ($40 per line x 4). Larger families save more – the cost drops by $5 per line with each additional line until you hit $175 for a “framily” of seven ($25 per line x 7). Fees and taxes are extra, but there are no data overage charges. Sprint throttles your speed when you hit your max, instead.

Sprint no longer offers contracts, so the only concern with switching is obtaining the four or more Sprint-compatible phones you’d need.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile’s new family plan, which became available July 30, is called T-Mobile Simple Choice. It offers unlimited talk, unlimited text and 10GB of data (2.5GB per line) for a total of $100. With T-Mobile, the first line you activate costs $50/month, the second $30/month and then $10/month for each line thereafter. Fees and taxes are extra, but there are no data overage charges. Like Sprint, however, T-Mobile throttles.

T-Mobile no longer offer contracts, either. You can purchase new phones at full price, or make a down payment and have the remaining cost added to your monthly bill in equal monthly payments.

Which family plan is best?

If you look simply at the raw plan numbers, T-Mobile has the best deal for a family of four. Plus, T-Mobile is willing to pay your current carrier’s early termination fees, But making the switch to the carrier isn’t necessarily a slam-dunk for your family. You’ll have to pay for new phones to join if your current phones aren’t compatible with the T-Mobile network. If they aren’t compatible, check the trade-in value of your phones to see if you can get enough cash to cover enough of the cost of the great low-cost Android devices currently available.

Or maybe skip the family plan entirely…

Alternatively, you may decide that it’s in your family’s best interest to skip these family plans entirely. They’re cheaper mainly because you need to give up your lucrative new phone subsidies to join them. If you’re a current Verizon or AT&T customer who enjoys cutting-edge phones like the rumored iPhone 6, it may be in your best interest to avoid having to pay for several $650+ devices up front.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME How-To

5 Cash-Saving Tech Tools

Saving money is gratifying—plain and simple. And technology can make lining your pockets even easier.

These five apps and websites help you put more dollars where they belong: in your wallet or bank account.

Find the Best Price: InvisibleHand

invisible hand
Invisible Hand

This free browser extension for Firefox, Chrome and Safari tells you if the flight, hotel, rental car or product you’re looking at is available for less money on another site. When the tool finds a cheaper deal, it shows you a narrow yellow band at the top of the screen with a drop-down list of competing prices.

For instance, in this screenshot from Amazon, InvisibleHand found the same new TV on eBay for less money—and with free shipping. The service also includes a feature that will alert you to any available coupons for wherever you happen to be shopping.

Also appreciated: You’ll never see InvisibleHand unless it’s working.

Price: Free at getinvisiblehand.com

Save On In-Home Health Care: CareLinx

carelinx
CareLinx

Hiring in-home care for a loved one can be expensive, so this online marketplace promises to save families up to 50% over traditional agencies. It connects you directly with nursing assistants, medical assistants, nurses and the like.

The service charges a 15% fee, which covers the cost of time tracking, secure online ACH payment processing, payroll tax services and a dedicated family advisor that helps families navigate the process of hiring a caregiver. The company also runs background checks on caregivers and provides professional liability insurance that covers property damage and injuries.

Price: Hourly wages plus a 15% service fee; available at carelinx.com

Get Free Off-Airport Parking: FlightCar

If you live in Los Angeles, Boston, or San Francisco, the FlightCar service will let you park for free in a special lot—and earn you some extra cash while you’re away.

FlightCar rents out your car to other vetted FlightCar members while you’re away. Your take is anywhere from $0.05 to $0.40 per mile, depending on the make and year of your car and how many miles a renter drives it. Included with the service: A free car wash, $1 million in insurance, and a black-car chauffeur to the airport.

If you’re traveling to any other FlightCar city, a web app will text you information about nearby cars available for rental. The service will be expanding to Seattle next, with other cities to follow.

Price: Free, with the opportunity to make money while you travel; available at flightcar.com

Get Free Stuff: Yerdle

yerdle
Yerdle

This iOS app and website is a store where people barter for free stuff using virtual currency. If you have stuff lying around the house that you don’t use or no longer enjoy, you can offer it on the site for a certain number of “credits”—everyone gets 250 to start. A coffee mug typically goes for around 25 credits, while a Patagonia jacket might run around 650.

It’s similar to eBay in that you can set it up as an auction or set a price for buyers to “get it now.” Once someone accepts your offer, Yerdle sets you up with a UPS label. Credits will appear in your account as soon as you drop the package off at a UPS store. Shipping payments are facilitated through Amazon Payments.

Price: Free, except for shipping in the event you can’t do local pickup.

Reduce Your Interest Rates: Credit Karma

People with high credit scores get lower interest rates on their loans and credit cards, but boosting your score takes time and know-how. Credit Karma is a free web-based service that gives you insight into your TransUnion credit score, the factors that affect it and tips on how to improve it.

If you have a low score, for example, it will suggest products that can help raise your score, such as low-limit credit cards that will increase your limit as a reward for a good payment history. You can also connect your bank and credit card accounts to track your spending.

The platform includes several helpful calculators, such as one to help you determine if you can afford a home and one that figures out how long it will take to repay a debt. Companion apps are available for iOS and Android.

Price: Free at creditkarma.com

This article was written by Christina DesMarais and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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