Gboard: A Super Smart Upgrade for Your Phone

When you’re on your phone, searching and sending stuff can be challenging. For example, sending directions to the place you’re meeting a friend for lunch involves a lot of frustrating app switching, searching, copy & pasting, more app switching, etc. It’s enough to make many of us give up.

Fortunately, Google has come up with a new keyboard you can add to your iPhone that lets you search and send all kinds of things—restaurant info, flight times, news articles—right from your keyboard.

If you can find it on Google, you can find it with Gboard. The best part is that you can send your results (directions, phone numbers, etc) with a single tap. No muss. No fuss.


Glide Typing

As if that isn’t enough, my favorite Gboard feature is glide typing.  If you’ve never tried this, I think you’ll love it too. It works by letting you simply slide your finger from key to key instead of tapping each one individually—so much easier and faster.


Emojis & GIFs

Emojis and animated GIFs have become quite popular lately and they’re represented here too. Instead of scrolling through a massive library of icons, with Gboard you can just type what you want and Gboard will offer up a few relevant options. Again, so much easier and faster.

You can get Gboard for both iOS and Android.


Intergrating Microsoft Office with Google Chrome

If your preferred web browser is Google Chrome, you probably already know that it integrates pretty seamlessly with other Google tools like Google Docs. But what if you are more of a Microsoft Office user than Google Docs?

Here is a Chrome extension from Microsoft that brings some nice integration with your Office documents.

As you can see, you’ll get one-click access to your Office files, whether they’re on your hard drive or in the cloud.

You can be up and running in now time. Here’s how:

  1.  Grab the Office Online extension from the Chrome Web Store.
  2. Next type chrome://extensions into the address bar and scroll down until you see the listing for Office Online.
    NOTE: You can tie this to your Office 365 account, or if you don’t already have a Office Online/OneDrive account you can create one for free.
  3. If you want to upload documents to OneDrive from your hard drive using drag-and-drop, click the box that says “Allow access to file URLs.”


With this set up, dragging & dropping files into your Chrome browser will automatically upload them to Office Online for easy sharing & collaboration.

Also, when you run across Office document formats on a web page, such as Word documents or Powerpoint presentations, they will automatically open in Office Online instead of requiring you to download them, open the right Office app and then viewing them. PDF files will continue to open in Chrome’s native viewer.

Easier Pit Stops With Google Maps

Do you ever need to make stops along your route for things like gas , food, coffee or restaurants? Of course, you do! Now you can easily search for gas stations, grocery stores, coffee shops, etc in Google Maps  while still in navigation mode, and add them as a detour on the way to your final destination.

To access this new feature make sure you’ve got the latest update, then:

  1. Tap on a magnifying glass icon that appears at the top-right corner of the screen in navigation mode.
  2. From there, a drop-down menu will appear offering several options, including gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, and coffee shops. You can also “search for more places” if you’re looking for other businesses or addresses.

You can also do this with the voice command by tapping on the microphone button.

This may not seem like much, but if you’ve ever actually tried doing this you’ll appreciate how much nicer it is now. Plus, in the next “few weeks” Google says they’ll add the ability to check gas prices at the stations you find along your way.

“Read It Later” Options

How many times a day do you find something online that you don’t have time to read but definitely want to come back to it later? For me, that happens quite often and fortunately,  there are a number of ways  you can keep track of those “Read It Later” items. (And none of them involve sticky notes or ribbons around your finger!)

Here are a few apps that will help you keep track of all those things you can’t get to now, but you want to keep track of for later when you can.

These apps have different features, but in a nutshell they save pages in a central location so you can easily find them later.


This is the one I use, with a simple bookmarklet that lets me save a page with a single click. (Available for Web, Mac, Chrome App, iOS, Android, Kindle)



This one is like creating an online newspaper of things you want to circle back to. (Available for Web, iOS, Android, Kindle)



Readability turns any web page into a clean view for reading now or later on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. You can also follow people to see what they are marking to read later. (Available for Web, iOS, Android with lots of integrations with other apps.)


Evernote Clearly

If you’re already an Evernote user (which we’ve covered before), you might want to check out this one. Clearly makes blog posts, articles and webpages clean and easy to read. You can easily save them to Evernote to read them anytime, anywhere.

Evernote Clearly

Lifehacker Packs: Must Have Apps

It is back to school time and a lot of people are getting ready. Part of that preparation might include setting up a new computer or mobile device. If you’re one of those folks you’ll definitely want to get hooked up with all the ‘must-have’ apps for better productivity, communication, media management, and more. The best way to do that is by checking out the Lifehacker Packs.

Every year, Lifehacker creates a list of their favorite, most essential applications for a variety of platforms including Windows and mobile devices. The best part is that all of these apps are totally free! So you’ll save time and money — and who doesn’t love that?!?

Lifehacker Pack For Windows

You can grab the entire pack as a 1-click installation here.

Lifehacker Pack for Mac

Lifehacker Pack for iPhone

Lifehacker Pack for Android

Lifehacker Pack for iPad

Lifehacker Pack for Android Tablets

Student Editions

If you’re a student or are looking to help one get set up for the school year, you’ll want to check out these student versions.

To check in with their always-updating directory of all the best apps, be sure to bookmark:

Digital Alternatives to Business Cards

Do you have a box of printed business cards sitting around your office? When was the last time you actually used one? Over the years, I’ve had hundreds or thousands of printed cards. 99% of which never saw the light of day.

In today’s digital world, is it time to find a better alternative to paper business cards? I think so.

Here are a few ideas of things you can do with your old business cards.

What isn’t changing is the fact that you still need an easy way to share your contact information with people you meet. Here are two good digital alternatives that will get you and your contact information into the address books or the people you meet. Which is MUCH better than getting your business card into their pocket, right?!?!?

Here are two easy ways to make your move from printed cards to easy, digital information sharing.


HaystackHaystack is super simple to set up and use. The app lets you build your own digital card by entering in your email any other details you want to share, including social network accounts if you want.

Once you’ve added your info, you can easily share your digital card with anyone via SMS text or email. The best part is you don’t have to worry about the person you’re sending it to having the right app on their end. If they don’t have the Haystack app (which they won’t), they’ll be directed to a web page where they can choose to download the card in the correct format for their device.

You can even use Haystack to automatically import the information from all the cards you get by simply taking a picture of them with your smartphone.

Haystack is a free download for both iOS and Android.

Intro (from

Aboutme-IntroAppIntro works very much like Haystack for sharing your information but doesn’t have any way for you to collect the same information from others.  One nice extra is how it ties to your free personal page. Check that out if you don’t already have an online presence (You really should you know!?) Here’s mine.

What about you? Do you still prefer physical cards? Have you found another way you like better? Let us know! I’d love to hear what is working best for you.

#353 iPhone & iPad Shortcuts

Here are a few helpful shortcuts you can use on your iPhone and iPad to work a bit smarter.

1. Skip the periods.  When you are done typing a sentence, double-tap the space bar on the keyboard and it will automatically insert a dot (or period) followed by a space. The next alphabet that you type will be written in uppercase without you having to press the Shift key.

2. Skip apostophes too (most of them anyway) iOS will usually autocorrect most words that contain apostrophes. For example, when typing “can’t” you can just type “cant” and it will autocorrect for you. And when you do need to type an apostrophe, you can press and hold the comma key to get the apostrophe without switching to the numeric keyboard.

3. CAPS Lock Do you ever need to type any words in ALL CAPS? In the default setting, you’ll to have to tap the Shift key after typing every single character or you can “Enable Caps Lock” under Settings –> General –> Keyboard and then double-tap the shift key to turn it into a Caps lock key.  Tap it again to turn it off.

4. Skip the .com While you are entering the URL of a website in the Safari browser, you only have to type the domain name and then press and hold the dot (.) key. It will offer you an option to add popular extensions like .com,  .org or .net to your web address with a tap.

What is your favorite phone or tablet trick?

#343 Offline Google Maps

Google Maps is one of my favorite and most useful apps. The latest update for iOS adds a nice new feature that let’s you save an offline version of a map. (This has been available in the Android version for awhile now.)

To save a map for offline use, zoom in to the area of the map that you want to save. (If you don’t zoom in far enough it won’t work.)  Once you’ve zoomed into an area you want to save for offline use, tap on the search field and type “ok maps.” Then tap the search button on the keyboard to start downloading your offline map.


You’ll then see the Google Maps icon briefly appear onscreen and then at the bottom of the screen a black bar with white text will appear displaying a message that says, “The onscreen map has been cached.”


After the map is cached, you can access it by simply navigating back to that portion of the map at any time. This is a great trick for people with WiFi-only iPads and iPod touches or anytime you do not have an internet connection.

(Note: This version requires iOS version 6)

#327 Office Web Viewer

Office Web Viewer creates links that open Word, PowerPoint or Excel files in a web browser instead of requiring them to be downloaded. It’s easy to turn a download link into an Office Web Viewer link to use online.

Some benefits of the Office Web Viewer include:

  • You don’t need to convert Office files for the web (e.g., PDF, HTML).
  • Anyone can view Office files, even if they don’t have Office.
  • One link will work for computers, tablets, and mobile phones.

How to try it out

To use Office Web Viewer, click this link:

Then copy and paste the document’s URL in the text box. It looks like this:

To make the URL yourself, you can use the link below, where <Document Location> is a URL to the document.<Document Location>

Note: the document must be publicly accessible on the internet.

Here are a few examples of documents in the Office Web Viewer:

If your document is an Office document and is publicly accessible on the internet, then you are good to go.  Office Web Viewer links are a great alternative to download links because you don’t need a special program to view your documents.

#319 Smartphone Home Screen Shortcuts

Do you have a few ‘go to’ websites that you frequently visit on your smart phone? Did you know you can put them right up front on your home screen? Not only can you do just that, you can do it in a matter of seconds.  If not just locate the nearest 10 year old they’ll fix you up! Seriously though, here is how you can bookmarking those sites for quick access from your home screen.

This is similar to bookmarks or favorites on your computer and much faster than fiddling with your mobile browser bookmarks.

1. Go to the website in the Safari browser
2. Tap the Share button at the bottom of the Safari screen for the website you’re on.
3.Tap the icon labeled “Add to Home Screen.”
4.Tap the Add button in the upper right corner.
5.Launch the website from your Home screen by tapping its icon.


Click image for larger version

1. Open the built-in browser app,
2. Press the menu button and choose Bookmarks.
3. Find the bookmark that you’d like to add to your home screen and press down on it until a new menu appears.
4. Tap the “Add shortcut to Home” option to place an icon for the bookmarked page on the home screen.