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How meticulous are you about saving your spare change? This app can help

(TECH NEWS) We all know that keeping track of pennies and nickels can get annoying so Cents has been created to help you save you some time and effort.

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Cents add up

Many people today are pretty careless with their change, often just sort of leaving it about until it somehow disappears. (My theory is that it goes to the same place that at least one sock always seems to go after being put into the dryer.)

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Those who keep some sort of a change bank, however, can likely attest to the value of saving your spare change. You might be surprised at how quickly it seems to add up.

Digital piggy bank

Life happens, as they say, and especially during those times when you’re scraping by on your last dollar, it’s always great to remember you’ve got an extra couple bucks stashed away. There’s a reason Coinstar machines are as prevalent as they are, after all.

For those that may be unaware, app developers and baking institutions have taken note of the value of spare change, in turn creating their own digital piggy banks. The most common shared feature among these apps and programs is the idea of “rounding up” debits.

Essentially, they round up debits to the nearest dollar amount, and place the change in a separate account.

Some, such as apps like Digit and Qapital, place the change into a savings account. Others, such as Acorn, invest the spare change in the stock market. Newest to the bunch is the aptly named app, Cents.

New app on the block

Much like the app Qoins, Cents rounds up the users’ purchases and places the change into an account that is then used to make payments toward the users’ pre-existing debt of choice.

Commenting on the similarities between the two apps, Lead Developer Robert Preston states that the “primary difference is in execution.

“From day one, we’ll support over 10,000 financial institutions that we can connect to and pull your data from including bank accounts, credit cards, student loans, auto loans and mortgages.” Further, he adds that they have “spent a lot of time perfecting the UX/UI of (our) onboarding process to make it smooth and quick to complete.” As such, he hopes that the vast number of institutions they are able to work with, as well as the ease of use and design of the app will give Cents the edge over its competitors.

One caveat

Full disclosure, I cannot vouch for any of that. I have tested neither Cents, nor Qoins. However, I can very much say that the idea has merit. Saving my spare change has saved my bum on several occasions.

And, like many, I am better acquainted with debt than I would like to be.

Pitting one’s spare change against the Hydra-esque monster that is debt may seem like an unfair fight. And, true, you will not pay off your school debts with the spare change saved from debit purchases alone. However, you may be surprised at the comparatively large chunk of debt that may begin to disappear overtime. Who knows- you may find that you are able to pay off that six-year loan in four years. And really, that’s still a completely valid win.

Battle of the apps

Again, I have tested neither of the apps, so I cannot honestly state which one I prefer. However, I can say that while Qoins is currently $1.99/month and Cents is $1/month.

So, if you’re really pinching pennies, there is that piece of information to help you decide.

#Cents

Andrew Clausen is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and when he's not deep diving into technology and business news for you, he is a poet, enjoys rock climbing, monster movies, and spending time with his notoriously naughty cat.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Robert Preston

    May 4, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Thanks for the article Andrew! We’ll drop you a line when you can test it out yourself.

  2. Pingback: Millennial women share about how they spend (and save) money - The American Genius

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Tech News

Brave: A whole new browser with user privacy in mind

(TECH NEWS) Brave is boldly going where most web browsers are not: actually private internet browsing, with slick features in tow.

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You’re probably paranoid about your internet privacy. And if you aren’t: you should be. Hackers can hack your camera, your doorbell and even your lightbulbs without much effort.

And even the most paranoid end users are still painting a picture themselves as a consumer to advertisers. Though it’s through legitimate means (although that fact is iffy according to the EU), it’s still invasive enough to make you want to live off the grid. But these days, that’s almost impossible, considering so much of our modern work and personal lives exist online.

That’s why the newest browser to enter the field is going where no other web browsers have gone before. Brave is the first web browser to offer complete and automatic tracker ad and tracker blocking.

No more will you have to find an Adblocker – one that doesn’t happen to be malware – and install that separately from your browser. Or futz around in settings hoping to configure it correctly to block the cookie tracking in the way you want. Brave starts that way, out of the box. Another bonus? Brave offers private browsing with teeth. For computer based browsing, you can open a private window with Tor to keep your connection completely encrypted and secure.

And if you’ve ever used Chrome, you’ll have a great head start on understanding how to use this browser. Brave runs on Chromium, which is why it’s end-user experience is reminiscent of Chrome. And because it runs on Chromium, it also means it supports most Chrome extensions right out of the gate. (Although, those browser extensions can put your data at risk and counteract some of what Brave is trying to do for you.)

Of course, all talk around privacy and ad blocking in the internet browser community is a hot button item. One perpetual ethical question: is it okay to block ads, especially from publications trying to raise revenue? Brave thinks so. That’s because of one of its features designed to support quality content: the Brave Wallet. Its Patreon meets Ko-Fi. Creators can sign up with the program and users can decide to give tips via cryptocurrency to their creator page, all done through the toolbar. You can also earn cryptocurrency through consuming Brave’s ads and choosing to send that to a trusted creator.

Another question: will people hop on the Brave train now that everyone is getting serious about privacy? Firefox, Safari and Edge are all implementing better privacy features in their current and future updates. What’s going to be the thing that causes people to stick with it?

For this end-user of Brave, one thing that keeps me going so far is being told how effective it is. I’ve only used the browser for two days across all my devices and I’ve blocked over 3,000 different trackers. And there’s a certain amount of trust I’m willing to place with a browser that claims to be hypervigilant about my privacy.

Brave truly is the browser answer in our Brave New World.

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Why building apps without knowing how to code is increasingly common

(TECH NEWS) No-code app building tools are becoming more available to the everyday user, which could lead to more inventive, and original apps.

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“Learn to code” is a common, frustrating refrain often hurled at job-seekers, entrepreneurs, creative professionals, and others. Depending on who’s saying it, the intent could range from well-meaning to willfully hurtful.

It does, in a way, make sense. Computer programming is the foundational language that modern life is built on. And while many people use technology that they don’t understand every day—from microwaves to cars—there’s something a little different about programming. It’s omnipresent for just about anyone, just about everywhere, whether they use it for work or not. And more people use it for work than ever. It’s the single most sought-after skill in the job market.

But “learn to code” isn’t practical for everyone. Not everyone with an app idea has the time to learn how to build an app from scratch, or the money to hire people to do it for them. That’s where the low-code/no-code movement comes in. It’s all about giving the people the tools they need to execute on an idea without having to learn an entire new skill set. When you bake a cake, you probably don’t grind wheat into flour, and when you build an app, you don’t have to start with Python.

No-code isn’t really a new idea.

The fact that computers have menus and icons is the result of early programmers realizing that non-programmers would have to use a computer sometimes. You could look to tools like RPG Maker that let people build their own video games back in 1992. RPG Maker was like a Lego kit for making a video game. And not only is it still going strong, it proved itself prophetic. It turns out that giving people tools and a sand box is a great way to enable creativity.

This has been the long arc of the Internet, too. There was a time when participating in the World Wide Web in a meaningful way meant learning to program. Places like Geocities gave you real estate to set up a website. But you had to build that site yourself. We’ve moved away from that as the Internet commodified. Sites like Facebook and Twitter remove customization in the name of uniformity.

But creative tools persist. Consider “WYSIWYG,” or “What You See Is What You Get” web editors. These are tools like WordPress that reclaimed some of that Internet customization. They give you assets to build a website, and you plug them in where you want.

It’s a middle ground between building from scratch, and having everything handed to you. It’s the sweet spot of accessible creativity. (If you’ve never heard anyone say “WYSIWYG,” that’s probably because these web development tools are so common that they don’t really need a special name anymore.)

Right now, one of the biggest areas of no-code design is in app development. These app dev tools are similar to building a WordPress site. They give you the raw materials, and you customize and assemble them however you want to. Adalo, a no-code platform for building apps, lets your bring assets and ideas to the table, and gives you a framework to organize those ideas into an app.

They aren’t alone. AppOnboard, a no-code software development suite, recently purchased Buildbox, a leading no-code game development platform. Their combined resources represent a stunning library of assets, full of potential.

What does this mean for coders? Probably not much. Specialized skills are still in high demand. But for the rest of us, a slow democratization of development is taking place, and it’s exciting to watch it take shape.

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Pope Francis’ plea to tech giants: Children must be kept safe online

(TECHNOLOGY) Children should be safe online, Pope Francis pleas with tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook to help curb child exploitation

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Whether you’re looking for pornography or not, it seems to be a law of the universe that stumbling across porn on the internet is inevitable. This ease of accessibility is controversial, especially when children are involved.

Recently, Pope Francis weighed in on the debate over regulations, calling tech companies like Apple, Google and Facebook to be held accountable for their protection (or lack thereof) of children from pornography.

Pope Francis argued that companies should prioritize keeping children safe, rather than increasing profits. He referenced studies that show children’s first exposure to porn happens when they are 11, as well as studies that reveal potential risks to children’s emotional and sexual growth when exposed to pornography.

It’s not just children viewing pornography that’s worrying, however. With the explosion of digital messaging, the FBI reports an influx of sexual predators online. Minors are getting groomed and exploited by predators and the availability of child porn on the internet is increasing. Not to mention, with the push for privacy on the internet – such as Facebook’s encrypted messages – it can be difficult to track down sexual predators.

While tech companies might not intend to be involved in child porn, their technology is being used for these purposes anyway. As such, Pope Francis insists these companies should be held accountable. Some suggestions presented at the “Promoting Digital Child Dignity” conference included strengthening artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to safeguard against child pornography and implementing age verification for certain platforms.

Some believe this push for child protection might stem from the Catholic Church’s own troubled history with sexual abuse: over the decades, there have been thousands of cases of child molestation. Pope Francis promised “decisive action,” when he took power in 2013. According to the BBC, this has included releasing a letter condemning clerical sexual abuse and creating a panel to deal with offenses within the church.

Pope Francis’ recent remarks were not the first time he’s suggested technology creators have some hand in protecting children. Rather than simply accuse companies of taking advantage of children, however, Pope Francis extended a plea: “I make an urgent appeal to them to assume their responsibility towards minors, their integrity and their future.”

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