Trending December 2023 # 5 Macgyver Hacks You Should Try At Home—And 2 You Really Shouldn’t # Suggested January 2024 # Top 15 Popular

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Television shows are full of badass secret agents. But only one of them has infiltrated the Oxford English Dictionary. The eponymous hero of MacGyver became a verb thanks to his penchant for building improvised solutions using only the materials at hand. He’s been inspiring makers and DIYers ever since—and now that the show is back on the air, they, in turn, are inspiring him.

“That character was so unique to the landscape because he wasn’t somebody who needed a gun or conventional tools. He was a cerebral hero who made things up as he went along,” says Peter Lenkov, the creator and executive producer of the new, rebooted MacGyver. “That was the fun of the original show, watching him build things.”

The first iteration of the series, which ran from 1985 to 1992, does differ from the reboot. Lenkov explains that, instead of flying solo, the protagonist—originally portrayed by Richard Dean Anderson and currently by Lucas Till—now works as part of a team. “There’s more of a family vibe,” he says, “more people he bounces off of.” But MacGyver himself is still the same smart, improvisational tinkerer.

And the team aims to make his exploits as plausible as possible. To that end, Lenkov and the show’s writers work with technical consultant Rhett Allain, who’s also a physics professor, blogger, and author. “I take the ideas that the writers come up with and I check the plausibility of them,” Allain explains. “It doesn’t have to be 100 percent accurate—I look at the science behind it and see if that actually could happen. Then I’ll go through the technical aspects of how you would actually have to do these things.”

For example, Allain has written in detail about how a body bag filled with fire-extinguisher foam could, technically, cushion MacGyver as he falls out of a fourth-story window. But he notes that the feat would require precise timing and a decent amount of luck. Also you should never ever ever ever ever try it yourself.

When the writers come up with a hack that wouldn’t quite work, Allain also suggests alternatives. Take the night-vision goggles that the team wanted MacGyver to build in episode 3. “They were going to color glasses red and blue, and then that would make him be able to see infrared light, Allain says. “But they just confused the idea of 3-D glasses with infrared vision.”

Some of the show’s inspirations come from writing MacGyver into an impossible situation and then brainstorming how he’d escape. Other projects are mined from the Internet. “I am a big fan of the maker movement, and I draw on maker projects for ideas too,” he says. “If I see something cool, I’ll put it in little lists. In case it’s related to a future MacGyver episode, I’ll have that ready.”

The show may draw on DIYers, but it goes both ways, with tinkerers imitating the hacks they see on the show. We asked Lenkov to find a few of MacGyver’s projects that would work well enough for amateurs to recreate. Some of these are safe enough to build at home. Others could cause death, destruction, dismemberment, etc, if done incorrectly. Unless you’re actually a secret agent, those are the ones you should avoid.

Laser microphone

Want to spy on your neighbors from outside? In a similar situation, MacGyver rigs up a distant laser microphone. When a conversation goes on inside a room, it creates vibrations in the air—vibrations that carry to the glass of a window. All a would-be eavesdropper need do is point a laser at the window, aiming the beam so that it bounces off the glass and returns to hit a light-sensitive photocell. The photocell can detect fluctuations in the laser beam—and if you wire that photocell to a speaker, it will translate the window’s vibrations back into sound waves. In the show, MacGyver harvests a laser from a CD player and a photocell from a solar light. The laser must be very steady, so he uses chewing gum to stick it to the side of a car. These are the basic ingredients of a laser microphone. His rough-and-ready methods, however, wouldn’t create a very sensitive device. “You can make ones like that yourself,” Allain says, but “the components are a little more difficult.” In real life, you’d want to add an audio amplifier into the mix. For more detailed instructions, check out the DIY laser spy project designed by Lucid Science.

Fire starter

As any Boy Scout knows, building a fire from scratch is harder than it looks, especially if you’re dealing with damp wood. When he crash-lands in the woods, MacGyver’s solution is as simple as it is effective: add pine sap. The goo that oozes out of pine bark is highly flammable. So Mac slices sap from a tree trunk, sprinkles it over his kindling, and kindles a fire. “That one works just fine,” Allain says. For more details, check out Mother Earth News, which recommends that you build a cone of wood, stuff globs of sap into the center of the cone, and then light it. You can also slice sappy “pitch wood” into thin sticks with fuzzy slivers sticking out the sides and use those as fire starters. Just remember that playing with fire can be dangerous—use too much sap, and your flame might roar out of control.

Soda bottle gas mask

In the show’s third episode, MacGyver cooks up some chemical fumes to knock out his enemies, while protecting his own lungs with a gas mask made from a soda bottle. He cuts the bottle to fit his own face, holding it on and sealing it against his skin with the inner tubes from a bicycle wheel. This leaves a small opening through which to breathe—which Mac stuffs with wet newspaper. “The basic idea is to use wet paper as a filter,” Allain explains. “The rest of the mask is to make sure the air goes through the paper. It would work for some smoke, but it wouldn’t work for all gases.” So if you build your own soda bottle mask, don’t expect it to protect you from, say, tear gas or pepper spray. For more details, check out this version of the project from Instructables user frenzy, pictured above.

DIY eye in the sky

A birds-eye view of the ground lets you size up a situation and attack your enemies effectively. Without a satellite or drone to provide this context, MacGyver rigs up a rudimentary hot-air balloon. First, he uses a wire hanger to suspend an aluminum-foil platform from a dry cleaning bag. Below the platform, he attaches a cell phone that live-streams video of the ground below, and on top, he places a can of Sterno. When he lights the flame, the bag fills with hot air and starts floating, letting the phone serve as an airborne surveillance camera. There’s just one problem. Hot air, while it will indeed rise higher than cold air, cannot carry much weight—a cell phone and a can of fuel would drag it to the ground. “That’s one of those where conceptually it’s a valid idea,” Allain notes, “but in practice it would be stretching it.” Instead of Mac’s design, try building the fire balloon created by Popular Science contributor William Gurstelle and pictured in the above photo. It too involves a dry cleaning bag filled with hot air, but heats the air with a light dab of jellied alcohol instead of a can of Sterno. Just remember to follow the safety precautions Gurstelle suggests, and tether your fire-bearing balloon to the ground.

Leyden jar battery

When our precious phone batteries start dying, most people get desperate. In one episode of MacGyver, the stranded hero gets desperate enough to wander into a lightning storm. The goal: charge up a Leyden jar. “The Leyden jar is a really great piece of technology,” Allain explains. The device was one of the earliest ways scientists studied electricity—you can see the one 18th-century Italian scientist Luigi Galvani used above. “It’s a capacitor, but a lot bigger than the kind that you would see in a radio or electronics kit. One side is metal, the other is a conductor like salt water. You can put a charge into one end, and it stores it.” To rig up a Leyden jar in the wilderness, MacGyver fills a plastic water bottle with stream water salted with hickory roots. For the electrodes, he wraps handcuffs around the outside of the bottle and jabs a broken piece of metal from a downed helicopter into the water. When he takes the jar into that lightning storm, it charges up with the static electricity in the air. Then he uses the jar to charge his phone. Leyden jars can be dangerous—if you build one that’s too big, the electric shock it discharges can be strong enough to cause injury or death—but with safety precautions, you can absolutely build a Leyden jar at home. Some DIY versions even use salt water like MacGyver’s Leyden jar. Just don’t put yourself at risk of electrocution to charge it up.

Car battery arc welder

Here is where the DIY starts getting a little too dangerous to try at home. In the show’s second episode, MacGyver connects a car battery to two quarters via jumper cables. When the coins touch, electrical current passes between them, creating a super-hot arc that Mac uses to cut through a metal door. As Popular Science has documented, you can indeed turn a car battery into an arc welder capable of melting steel and fusing metal. You can see contributor Chris Hackett using this project above. But unless you know what you’re doing, you can burn yourself, electrocute yourself, and cause everything from house fires to gruesome injuries to death. So this is one of those projects that we recommend you avoid.

Thermite lance

MacGyver doesn’t need a car battery to defy steel. Stuck on a runaway train, he decides to sever the metal that connects the engine to the rest of the cars. To do so, he packs magnesium and rust shavings into a long metal rod and lights it with a road flare. Thermite burns at up to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, so this improvised thermite lance could get hot enough to slice through not only steel, but concrete and other materials as well. Thermite can be useful—workers use it to weld railroad ties—but it isn’t a project for amateurs. “Thermite’s a dangerous but simple thing to build,” Allain says. “It gets so damn hot—if you have a container it will melt through your container. It makes a lot of sparks, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could melt through yourself.” So you should skip this one as well.

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Instagram Story Hacks: 30 Tricks And Features You Should Know

These Instagram Story hacks will save you time and make you the best storyteller in town (no pun intended).

You’ve probably already pored over our Must-Try Instagram Hacks. (It’s a fun beach read, I totally get it!) Now, it’s time to master the fine art of the Instagram Story.

It’s just basic math: If a picture is worth a thousand words, an Instagram Story post must be worth a million, right?

And these Instagram Story hacks will make you the best Story-teller in town.

Get your free pack of 72 customizable Instagram Stories templates now. Save time and look professional while promoting your brand in style.

Top Instagram Story hacks for 2023

Some might say there are almost too many features.

General Instagram Story hacks

1. Create a patterned backdrop for sharing a feed post

Is adding a custom backdrop necessary when you share a feed post on your Story? Goodness, no. But like wearing lipstick to a Zoom meeting, sometimes it’s just nice to add some pizazz to something routine.

How to do it:

Find the feed post that you’d like to share and screenshot it, cropping so it’s just the post.

Stretch the feed post to fill the whole screen—this seems wild, I know, but this will make the final post into a tappable link to the original post.

Next, open your camera roll and add in the background pattern of your choice.

Then, paste in the cropped screenshot of your post on top and arrange or resize as you’d like.

Upload the whole thing.

2. Fill the background with a solid color

The default gradient backgrounds are nice and all, but sometimes, you’ve got something to say that can only be framed by a wall of blinding chartreuse.

How to do it:

Tap the draw icon.

Select a color from the palette (tip: swipe right to see additional color options, or press and hold down on any particular color to open up a rainbow gradient of choices).

Once you’ve chosen a color, press anywhere on the image or text part of the screen and hold two or three seconds to fill

3. Uncover even more colors! More!

You’re greedy, but we’re not judging. You actually have access to every color of the rainbow and then some with Instagram Stories. Find your specific brand hues, or get funky with a questionable shade of puce.

How to do it:

Open Instagram Stories and select the brush tool.

Tap and hold any of the default color circles. This will open a color slider.

Explore the slider to find the custom color of your dreams!

Alternatively, drop an image into your Story and use the eyedropper tool to grab the exact matching shade.

4. Use a green screen in your Instagram Story

Green screen technology has been a gamechanger for social media. You can be anywhere and everywhere. Including the moon. Especially the moon.

How to do it:

Scroll right through the filters at the bottom of the screen to get to the magnifying glass; tap to search.

Search “green screen” and select Instagram’s green screen filter.

Tap Add media to choose your background video or photo from your phone’s image gallery.

Take a picture or make a video in front of this fake backdrop.

Instagram’s teleport feature is also fun — it uses the greenscreen backdrop, but the backdrop only appears when you move your device so you can create a fun reveal effect. (You’re in your bedroom… and then you’re on tour with Destiny’s Child! Yowza!)

5. Share with a select group of VIPs

Now that your boss and your Uncle Steve and your strata council president are all following you on Insta, the pressure to be a professional employee/niece/neighbor can really put a damper on your best, stupidest Instagram thoughts.

Instagram’s Close Friends feature is a chance to share more intimate, exclusive content to a select group (sorry, Uncle Steve!). For businesses, maybe it’s a way to offer some special treatment to members or VIPs (which, again, probably does not include Uncle Steve).

How to do it:

Select Close Friends.

Now, when you go to post a Story, the option to share to Close Friends will be at the bottom of the screen next to Your Story.

Source: Instagram

We know Stories are supposed to be a spontaneous medium. But are you really at your desk or on your phone all day? No! You’re living life so that you have something to make Instagram Stories about.

You actually can’t schedule Stories directly in the Instagram app… but you very much can schedule them with Hootsuite.

How to do it: Check out our step-by-step guide to scheduling your Stories with the Hootsuite schedule.

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7. Add a layer of translucent color to a video or photo

Maybe you see life through rose-colored glasses, and want other people to, too. No sweat: just use this quick trick for colorizing your images or videos.

How to do it:

Upload or shoot your video or photo.

Tap the marker icon on the top of the screen.

Select the highlighter icon at the top of the screen.

Choose your preferred color from the bottom of the screen.

Tap and hold the photo until a layer of translucent color appears over top.

8. Post multiple Stories at once

It can take some time to properly prepare, edit or curate a multi-part Story, as any social media savant knows. But maybe you don’t want to leave your followers hanging as you search out the perfect background color or combination of stickers for Part 2 of your series on your local boat show. The solution is to prep multiple Story posts to all post at once (in the order you choose, of course) using Instagram’s Multi-capture tool.

How to do it:

Open Instagram Stories and scroll down to find the Multi-capture tool (a circle surrounded by another circle made of dashes).

Take a photo (note: you can’t upload pics or create video in this mode). You’ll see your snap added to a little circle in the bottom left-hand corner or the bottom of the screen.

Take up to 9 additional photos, for a total of 10. Each will be the foundation of a separate Story post.

When you’re done, tap on the little circle icon (in the left-hand corner, if you’re using a filter, or at the bottom of the screen if not) to move to the editing screen.

Here, you can take your sweet time adding text, stickers, music, or effects to each photo.

Ready to post? Tap Next.

9. Add music to your Instagram Story

Your Story needs a soundtrack! Needs it.

How to do it:

Record your video, take your picture or upload your content.

On the edit screen, tap the music note icon on the top of the screen.

Select your song.

On the editing screen, you have a few options to customize how the music is presented or visualized:

On the bottom, scroll between options to showcase the lyrics or the album cover.

At the top of the screen, tap the color wheel to change the color of any text.

Tap the number in a circle to adjust the duration of the clip.

At the very bottom of the screen, scroll to select the portion of the song you’d like to play.

Instagram Story photo hacks

10. Create “progression” posts that build on an image

Build the drama over several Story posts, by adding new elements to the same base image. Oooh, the suspense!

How to do it:

Craft a Story post as usual with video, photos, text, stickers or drawings.

Next, start a new Story.

Select Create, then go to your camera roll and select that first Story you’ve saved.

Now, you can seamlessly build on top of that first Story with additional elements.

Save this new creation to your camera roll.

Repeat as necessary.

11. Create a “revealing” Story series

Uncover a mystery image with the help of the eraser tool. This next hack involves skills from trick #3 and #7, above. Hope you’ve done your homework because this is absolutely a test.

How to do it:

Add an image in create mode.

Now fill the screen with color (see trick #3!).

Select the eraser tool.

Erase a bit of the color layer to reveal a small sliver of your image underneath.

Hit the save button to download this to your camera roll… but do not upload it yet.

Uncover some more of the image by continuing to erase the color layer, hitting the save button at various stages to capture the reveal step-by-step.

When you’re done collecting all of these images, start a fresh Story post and upload that very first image.

Post the next saved images one by one so that followers will see the image being uncovered in stages.

12. Create cool effects with the eraser tool

A few strategic swipes of the eraser can create the illusion of photo and other elements merging into one. Harmonious! Inspiring! Is this… art?

How to do it:

Open the photo you’d like to use.

Use the marker tool (we like neon) to create a visual element that overlaps the central object of your photo.

Now, use the eraser tool to erase any marker bits that overlap with the main photo object. It’ll look like the drawn bits are weaving around it. An optical illusion!

13. Compose a multi-image Story

The more images, the merrier! Use the paste tool to throw as many photos into a Story as you’d like. Who would dare stop you?!

How to do it:

Open your camera roll and select a photo.

Repeat to pile on the pics.

14. Use Instagram’s photobooth feature

You’re a model, baby! Instagram’s new Photobooth feature will take four snaps in a row, which you can then showcase in a variety of dynamic formats. (There are a lot of flashing camera bulbs, we’ll warn you right now.)

How to do it:

Open Instagram Stories and scroll down to find the Photobooth tool (an icon that looks like a pile of photos).

Choose a filter if you’d like, and then hit the shutter button. You’ll get a 3-2-1 countdown for each of four shots.

15. Create Boomerangs from your live photos

Did you snap a moment with your iPhone that you want to relive again — and then relive again backwards? And then forwards? And then backwards again?

If you’ve taken the photo as a Live photo, it’s possible. (If you’re not sure how to take a Live photo in the first place, just open your camera app and tap on the concentric circles at the top!)

How to do it:

Open Instagram Stories and swipe up to view your photo gallery.

Pick a live photo from your camera roll.

Hold down on the photo until the word “Boomerang” appears.

Instagram Story text hacks

16. Hide hashtags and @mentions

Preserve your aesthetic vision by tucking unlighting hashtags or tags out of sight. It’s the digital equivalent of hiding your electrical cords behind your mid-century-modern desk before Architectural Digest comes a-knockin’.

How to do it:

Method 1

Type out your hashtags and mentions.

Hit the stickers button and select your camera roll.

Add an image from your camera roll, which will be placed on top of your hashtags to obscure them.

Resize your image to fill the screen: the hashtags are technically there for Instagram to read, but human eyes won’t be able to see!

Method 2

If you start off creating a post with an image, add a text box on top and type your hashtags and mentions.

Tap the eyedropper icon.

Tap a spot on the photo to change the text to that same color and blend in.

Resize the text box if necessary.

17. Express yourself with even more fonts

The standard Instagram Story fonts are just the tip of the typographic iceberg.

If the in-app typewriter or Comic Sans-knockoff lettering isn’t doing it for you, find something more exciting to paste in.

How to do it:

Head to the Instagram Fonts Generator website on desktop or mobile.

Type in your message and hit enter to see your font options.

Copy the message and paste into the Instagram Story text box.

Pro tip: If you have a branded font, add your text right to an image with Photoshop, Over, or another image editing app, and then upload to Stories from there.

18. Layer text to add a shadow effect

For text that pops, try this double-up trick.

How to do it:

Type out your text, then select all and copy.

Start a new text box and paste in that text.

Shift that text ever so slightly and layer underneath the original text so it looks like a shadow effect.

19. Change text alignment in seconds

Put your Tinder skills to good use here: a quick swipe of the text will spice things up and shift things left, right, or back to center in a snap.

How to do it: As you’re typing, quickly swipe to the left or right to realign.

Instagram sticker hacks

20. Turn your Story into a shopping spree

If you’ve got an Instagram Shop, you can tag your one product in each Instagram Story with a product sticker.

How to do it:

Build your Instagram Story and tap the sticker icon.

Select Product.

Choose the item from your product catalog.

Customize the product sticker to suit your brand.

Source: Instagram

21. Change the color of a question sticker

To color coordinate or not to color coordinate? This is the question… or rather, a question about what to do with your question sticker.

How to do it:

Tap the sticker icon and select Question.

Type out your question and then tap the rainbow wheel at the top of the screen.

Continue to tap until the question sticker is the color of your choosing.

22. Access more gifs than ever

If there’s such a thing as too many gifs, we don’t want to hear it.

While Insta’s search allows you to peruse Giphy’s library, using the Giphy app itself allows you to create albums of your favorites for easy access—and you can share right from Giphy.

How to do it:

Open the Giphy app and find the gif you want.

Select the Instagram icon and then choose Share to Stories.

OR select Copy GIF and then paste into your Story.

Pro tip: If you have your own homemade gifs that you’d like to share on Insta Stories, save them to your camera roll and just copy and paste directly into a Story.

23. Create a Grid of Photos

Instagram Stories’ built-in layout tool feature is the perfect way to share multiple images in a variety of neatly organized grids, formatted to the specific dimensions of Stories. Because sometimes you just can’t choose which picture of your sushi dinner is the cutest, we get it!

How to do it:

On the left-hand side of the screen, scroll to find the Layout tool a square with disecting lines).

Your screen will now be divided into quadrants. Add a photo to the first square by swiping up to select one from your gallery, or use the camera to take a new picture.

Repeat for each quadrant.

Alternatively, switch up the layout by tapping the Change grid icon on the left-hand side of the screen.

Instagram Story video hacks

24. Answer questions on a Live Story

Answering your followers’ questions on an Instagram Live Story is like a fun interrogation you’re doing to yourself. (Need some help getting started with Instagram Live? Check out our step-by-step guide here.)

How to do it:

Once you’ve gone live, tap the question-mark icon at the bottom of the screen.

Tap the question you’d like to answer, and it will appear on your Live screen as you broadcast.

Questions will be greyed out once they’ve been selected so that you don’t pick the same one more than once.

25. Pin a sticker to your video

This is one of the oldest Instagram Story tricks in the book, but we’re not too big to admit that the mechanics of it have stumped us for years. If you, too, have been longing to pin a sticker, emoji, gif, or text to a specific moment or motion in a video, here’s the breakdown.

Pro tip: not sure which emoji to use in your Story? Try our free emoji translator.

How to do it:

This is essential: film the video within the Instagram Story. You can’t upload a video for this trick! We’ve tried! We’ve failed!

Add a sticker (or text, etc) to the Story.

Tap and hold that sticker.

Use the slider to scroll to the right point in your video.

Tap Pin.

26. Make your own Instagram filter

You don’t need to be a programmer to create your own custom filter to use or share with the world. Spark AR Studio has a ton of tutorials and simple step-by-step tools to help you put your stamp on the world (and, more specifically, your followers’ faces).

How to do it: Get the full guide to making your own Instagram AR filters here.

Source: Spark AR Studio

27. Save your fave filters

You want to have your Elf Ears filter at your fingertips, we get it. Thankfully, there’s a way to build an easy access library of your favorite effects.

How to do it:

Open up your Instagram Stories camera.

Swipe through the filters at the bottom of the screen until you get to the end .

Tap the icon of a magnifying glass that says Browse Effects.

Next time you open your camera, that effect will be available to select.

28. Use video as an animated background

How to do it:

Record a video or swipe up to choose one from your photo gallery.

Open up the sticker menu.

Select the photo sticker.

Choose the photo from your photo gallery.

This’ll layer on top of the video: move the photo or resize to your heart’s delight!

29. Share your Reels to your Stories

Locate your favourite Reel and tap the airplane icon to send it to your Story, so you can impress even more ‘Grammers with your Celine Dion lip syncs.

The bad news is that Instagram Reels get cut off after 15 seconds, but if you want to learn how to share a full 60-second Instagram Reel to your Story, we’ve got a hack for you! Just watch this video:

30. Use templates and design tools to make your Stories pop

Sure, a great chef can prepare a delicious meal with just a knife and a pan… but a kitchen full of tools will make creating a gourmet experience that much easier.

Likewise, branching out from the basic elements of Instagram Stories and incorporating external design and editing apps into your creative process will open up a whole new world of possibilities.

Is this a good metaphor, or am I just hungry? Download some apps and we’ll check in after lunch.

How to do it:

Try some of these fun Instagram Story Apps to take your images and videos to the next level.

Download these 20 free Instagram Stories templates and make ‘em your own.

Of course, no amount of hacks (or tips, or tricks, or gadgets or gizmos aplenty) can compare with good ol’ fashioned quality content. But we’ve got you covered there too: here are 20 creative Instagram Story ideas here to kick off some inspiration.

Manage your Instagram presence alongside your other social channels and save time using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish posts and Stories, edit images, and measure performance. Try it free today.

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5 Of The Best Camera Apps For Android You Should Try

Some of us are content to stick with whatever stock app is thrown at us with our given Android device, and there’s no question that the default offerings from the Android big boys like Samsung, HTC and Google itself are top-shelf stuff.

1. Paper Camera

With a Google rating of 4.5, Paper Camera is the peoples’ choice for the title of “Best Camera App on Android.” Of course, different strokes for different folks, different apps for different chaps, etc., but with the lovely, versatile sketch-style filters you can play with in Paper Camera, it’s easily the most fun camera app out there.

The filters available here are different than those you’ll find anywhere else, creating a natural, sketchbook feel to your photos through filters like comic book, cartoon, sketch, and (my personal fave) neon. It may not be as feature-rich as other apps, but you won’t care because the results of using this really are special.

Price: $2.49

2. Cymera

No list of the best Android camera apps would be complete without Cymera. Apart from the wealth of editing options included in this app, you get automatic face recognition as well as a choice of fifteen unique watermark designs for your photos. There is a built-in “smart” gallery which can categorize your photos based on location, or you can group all your selfies together. Sharing your shots with friends is as easy as it gets with built-in sharing options for Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and more.

Price: FREE

3. Manual Camera

As a result, you get a range of features such as manual shutter speed, manual ISO, manual exposure compensation, the ability to save images in lossless RAW format for further processing and much more. If complete control over every detail of your photos appeals to you, Manual Camera should be your next purchase.

Price: $2.99

4. Camera Zoom FX

With over 5 million users, Camera Zoom FX is another great alternative to the stock Android camera. It sports a busy interface with buttons at the top and bottom of the app which link to a host of features and settings. It supports an array of filters that you can apply to your photos, and if those aren’t enough you can download additional ones from the Play Store. You can also perform other editing actions such as cropping, rotating, flipping, adding frames or creating collages from within the app, as can also shoot videos.

Price: Free / $2.99

5. Open Camera

Ever heard of Open Camera? It has a lot of notable features and is the best open-source camera option on Android. Thanks to its open-source nature, it’s constantly being updated by its tireless community. Onboard, you have face detection, auto-level, touch to focus and auto repeat mode. Everything on it is highly customizable, too – from the look of the grid overlay to the volume keys which you can reassign to all manner of camera functions. Isn’t open-source wonderful?

Price: Free


With this fine bunch to choose from, every kind of smartphone-happy snapper should find something that’s right for them. Did your favorite camera app for Android make our illustrious list? If not, let us know what it is and what makes it so special. Who knows, it might just make the list one day.

Robert Zak

Content Manager at Make Tech Easier. Enjoys Android, Windows, and tinkering with retro console emulation to breaking point.

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15 Useful Android Widgets You Should Try

Widgets not only add an aesthetic appeal to your Android smartphone’s home screen, they also make your device more functional by providing some features that allow you to make use of certain apps without even opening them. What’s really great is that you can find widgets that span across a variety of use cases, which means that there’s one (if not many) for everyone. So, if you’ve been looking for some decent Android widgets to spruce up your device’s home screen and use your Android smartphone more efficiently, then check out this list of 15 useful Android widgets that you should try.

Useful Android Widgets You Should Try in 2023

1. KWGT Kustom Widget Maker

Starting off at the top of our list is KWGT, a custom widget maker which allows you to make your own Android widgets that you can place on your home screen. The app offers a bunch of included presets, with the Play Store filled with even more presets created by other developers that you can use. The app allows you to completely tinker with the widget design, which means that even if you’re using one of the available presets, you can completely make it your own.

Download KWGT Kustom Widget Maker (Free, in-app purhcases)

2. Google Calendar

Next up is the Google Calendar widget, another useful widget that you can use to stay abreast with your schedule by taking a glance at your phone’s home screen. In order to access the widgets, you’ll need to install the Google Calendar app, after which two new widgets will be added to the widget menu.

As mentioned, the app offers two different widgets, both of which can really come in handy depending on the way you keep a track of your schedule. While one widget shows your schedule for the week, the other gives you an overview of your schedule for a month. The most handy part about using these widgets is that you can easily add to your schedule by just tapping on the date within the widget, eliminating the need to first open up the app and then scroll to the specific date. If you don’t

3. 1Weather

Having a weather widget can also be very useful as it allows you to get a brief overview of the weather forecast with just a glance. 1Weather is a great weather forecast app that comes with 12 widgets of different sizes that not only tells you the temperature but also provides information like the wind speed, humidity and the chances of rainfall. The Android widgets included with the 1Weather follow a variety of different design choices, which means that you’ll easily be able to find one that goes well with your setup.

The app has a tiny 1×1 widget, which is quite minimal and just tells you the temperature along with an icon denoting the cloud cover, along with a large 4×3 widget that displays the time, temperature, location, date, humidity, wind speed and chances of rainfall. The larger widget even has a Google Search bar built in, which means that you can remove the stock search bar and give your setup a cleaner, more homogenous look.

Download 1Weather (Free, in-app purchases)

4. Todoist

The larger widgets allows you to completely customize the view and segregate all the tasks at hand based on your schedule, offering a lot of useful information on the home screen. The smaller widget, on the other hand, is just a 1×1 icon that lets you quickly add a new task to your to-do list, without requiring you to open up that app.

Download Todoist (Free, in-app purchases)

5. Calendar Widget by Home Agenda

Download Calendar Widget by Home Agenda (Free, $1.99)

6. At a Glance Widget by Google

Since the launch of the Pixel lineup, Google has been adding many exclusive features to its software and apps. But sometimes those features make way to a larger segment of Android devices. ‘At a Glance’ widget is one such feature that was introduced with Pixel Launcher, but now has been baked into the Google app. As a result, now you can use this minimal weather and calendar widget on any Android device. The best part is that it supports almost all the launchers out there. With this widget, you can readily access the Calendar and real-time weather information on your home screen.

7. ColorNote

Remember sticky notes from earlier Windows days? Well, you can get a similar feature on your Android device too with ColorNote. It allows you to create notes and you can set them on your Android screen using colorful widgets. It works exactly like the Windows Sticky Notes and I am happy that you can organize and edit the notes on the fly. The best part about ColorNote is its resizable widget which is completely free, unlike other apps. It basically means that you can display more content on your home screen in a scrollable interface. Apart from that, you can also sync your notes online and the notes are encrypted before uploading to the server. All in all, ColorNote is a useful Android widget and you can use it in place of Google Keep.

Download ColorNote (Free)

8. Month Calendar + Stuff

If you want a calendar widget that is minimal, has tons of themes including dark mode then I would highly recommend Month Calendar. Along with that, my next pick would be the Stuff widget for quickly creating to-do lists and notes. I prefer the combination of Month Calendar and Stuff because of how well they sync together— both in terms of looks and features. In one screen, both the widgets accompany each other and bring all your events, schedules, notes, and reminders. Further, Month Calendar has both schedule and month view whereas Stuff has the ability to add tasks quickly in one-tap. I would say if you looking for an integrated solution for calendar and to-do widgets then Month Calendar and Stuff are your best options.

Download Month Calendar (Free, Offers in-app purchases)

Download Stuff (Free, Offers in-app purchases)

9. Digitox

Digitox is one of the essential Android apps that you must use to track and understand your smartphone usage. It offers an Android widget where you can readily monitor how long you have been using your phone, how many times you unlocked the device, and how many notifications you received in a day. This will give important insight into your smartphone addiction behavior and may help you cut down phone usage. The widget sits on the home screen and you can tap the refresh button to pull updated data, in case it doesn’t auto-refresh in the background. Keeping all points in mind, if you want to limit your smartphone addiction, consider using the Digitox widget.

Download Digitox (Free, Offers in-app purchases)

10. AirVisual

With rising air pollution all around the world, it has become necessary to keep a tab on air quality around you to lead a healthy life. In addition to weather widgets, now it’s time to include AQI widgets also on your home screen. And for that, the AirVisual app offers the best widget for monitoring the real-time AQI of any location. I personally use this widget to track the quality of air with all the details including pollutants level, amount of PM2.5 particles, and more. AirVisual collates the data from institutes of local governments all around the world. And where the data is unavailable from a primary source, it calculates the AQI by modeling the satellite data. To sum up, AirVisual offers the best widget for tracking AQI and you should definitely use it.

Download AirVisual (Free)

11. Google Maps

The app even has widgets which allow you to quickly share your location with friends and ask a friend to share their location with you. Even though the app doesn’t include any full fledged widgets, the widget shortcuts are really useful and I’ve used them quite frequently to check the traffic on my way back home and to share my location with friends. And if you are using Google Maps, you should also check out our article on best Google Maps tips to get the most out of the service.

Download Google Maps (Free)

12. Google Keep

Google’s popular note taking app – Keep – also has a couple of really useful widgets that you should use on your Android device. The app features a simple shortcuts widget, which displays five shortcuts that will allow you to add a new note, a new list, a new voice note, a new handwritten note and a picture.

The second widget, apart from featuring the aforementioned shortcut, also displays some of your recent notes, depending on how you resize it. As you can see from the image above, the widget displays two of my most recent notes, which means that you won’t be forgetting anything important if you have it right on the home screen.

Download Google Keep (Free)


IFTTT is a great automation app that lets you create applets that can do a predefined action with a single tap or when a particular parameter is true. The app, in itself, is quite handy as it lets you automate a number of mundane everyday tasks like switching on the WiFi when you get to work and it also features a couple of widgets that allow you to trigger a predefined task by tapping on a button on the home screen.

Download IFTTT (Free, in-app purchases)

14. Simple Text Widget

Typography fans will really appreciate the Simple Text Widget, a widget creator like KWGT which lets you create your own Android widgets to place on your home screen. What’s unique about the widgets created by the Simple Text Widget app is that, as you might have guessed already, the widgets are all text.

You can customize the text completely to your liking and go for a look that complements your home screen setup. The Android widgets can be customized to do practically everything from creating shortcuts for apps to telling the weather or time. You should definitely check out the Simple Text Widget if you’re gunning for a minimal home screen setup on your device.

15. Clip Stack

Clip Stack a nifty clipboard manager app for Android which allows you to manage all that things you copy to the clipboard in one place. The app features a very handy widget that displays the most recent text copied to the clipboard and features a shortcut that allows you to create a new clip.

What’s really great about Clip Stack is that it can remember unlimited amounts of text copied to the clipboard, which can even be recovered after rebooting the device. I personally use the Clip Stack widget to keep a record of things that I wish to read later (I know there are other more user friendly ways to read things later) or to save phone numbers or other contact information which I don’t have the time or patience to copy down.

Download Clip Stack (Free, in-app purchases)

Bonus: Beebom

If you’re already using the Beebom app, I strongly urge you to try out the new widget by adding it to your home screen. Not only is it a great way to keep up with the latest tech news, it also gets rid of the hassle of opening the app again and again to find the latest headlines, which is quite convenient.

Download Beebom (Free)

Try Out These Android Widgets Right Now

10 Best Nordvpn Alternatives You Should Try

While NordVPN remains a popular VPN service, last year, Techcrunch reported that NordVPN was hacked in March 2023, following which, the popular VPN company came forward and confirmed the breach. According to NordVPN, the breach was only limited to one server in Finland. However, since they kept it quiet for so long, I don’t know if we should implicitly trust them. Whatever be the truth, you as a consumer should be wary of data breaches that can potentially expose your online identity. So, if you have been a NordVPN user, you should move to a secure VPN that offers the highest level of security with no compromise on user data. In this article, I have shared the 10 best NordVPN alternatives which are known for their reliability and ironclad security protocols. So let’s go ahead and explore the list in detail.

Best NordVPN Alternatives in 2023

Here, I have mentioned 10 VPNs like NordVPN which offer exceptional protection and various safeguards to your data. For example, I have given preference to those VPNs which offer various security protocols, out-of-the-box encryption, no jurisdiction over your data, a healthy number of servers, and more. Having said that, you will still get fast internet speed similar to NordVPN so don’t worry about that. Now without further delay, let’s jump right in.

1. Private Internet Access (PIA)

Visit Website (Starts at $3.33/month with the yearly plan)

2. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a premium VPN which beats NordVPN in every aspect right from security to coverage of countries. It has more than 3000 servers in 94 countries (NordVPN has 5000+ servers but available only in 59 countries) all across the globe and the company is steadily expanding its reach. In terms of security, ExpressVPN also uses the highest standard OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec security protocols so that is great. On top of it, you also get AES 256-bit encryption and Automatic Kill Switch to halt your internet traffic in case the VPN disconnects abruptly. The best thing about ExpressVPN is that its headquarter is based in the British Virgin Islands so it’s out of the US or any other country’s reach. If you want a NordVPN alternative and don’t mind paying a premium to safeguard your privacy then ExpressVPN is a solid choice.

Visit Website (Starts at $8.32/month with the yearly plan)

3. Mullvad

Mullvad is among the first VPN providers to implement Wireguard protocol in their servers and that makes it the best VPN out there. You can easily replace NordVPN with Mullvad and I am sure you will see a huge leap in both speed and internet security. For what it’s worth, Mullvad has 409 servers in 39 countries.

Visit Website (Starts at $5/month)

4. TunnelBear

TunnelBear is my personal favorite because it offers reliable service and does not log your internet activity even under the free plan. You get 500MB of free data every month which is not enough I know, but you can upgrade to the paid plan and enjoy all the perks without any limitation. The monthly plan is cheaper than NordVPN and the service has adequate servers across 22 countries. Granted, its coverage is not as huge as NordVPN, but if you are based out of the covered countries, TunnelBear is a much better proposition than NordVPN. You get 256-bit AES encryption and OpenVPN security protocol. I would say, just try out TunnelBear under the free plan and if it makes sense to you, go for the premium plan.

Visit Website (Free, Starts at $4.99/month with the yearly plan)

5. CyberGhost

CyberGhost is another prominent VPN that truly rivals NordVPN in terms of servers and country coverage. It has got more than 5200 servers spread across 61 countries around the world. That is more than NordVPN’s 5000 servers and that is simply great. You can also share your VPN network with 7 other devices without any limitation on speed. Apart from that, CyberGhost is based in Romania which follows EU privacy laws but rejects the data retention policy. All it means is that your data will not be retained for future compliance by any regulation or government. Further, on the security front, you get OpenVPN, L2TP-IPsec and PPTP protocols with Automatic Kill Switch and 256-bit encryption. Considering all the points, CyberGhost seems to be among the best alternatives to NordVPN and you can surely give it a try.

Visit Website (Starts at $5.95/month with the yearly plan)

6. PureVPN

Apart from that, PureVPN has support for six different security protocols but comes with IPSec as the default one. For many users, it may not be the best security protocol, but you can manually set up OpenVPN or any other security configuration as you desire. Also, the VPN is equipped with an automatic kill switch so that is great. To conclude, if you are looking for a NordVPN alternative that can cover maximum cities around the world then PureVPN is a solid choice.

Visit Website (Starts at $5.81/month with the yearly plan)

7. Surfshark

Surfshark is a relatively new VPN that is quite popular among the Redditors because of affordable pricing and iron-clad security. It’s headquartered in the British Virgin Islands so your data is safe from any government’s outreach. Apart from that, Surfshark has 1040+ servers in more than 61 countries which is quite good. As for the security, it deploys two major protocols: OpenVPN (UDP and TCP) and IKEv2 with AES-256 encryption on top of it. Not to mention, the VPN comes with a kill switch similar to NordVPN which stops all the network activity in case the VPN disconnects abruptly. It helps you in protecting your IP address and online identity. All in all, Surfshark is a strong contender in the VPN race and can be a great alternative to NordVPN.

Visit Website (Starts at $1.99/month with the 24-months plan)

8. IPVanish

If you were using NordVPN for torrenting or P2P traffic then IPVanish is the perfect replacement you can opt for. It has more than 1400 anonymous servers spanned across 60 countries which offer excellent performance and without any downtime. On the security side of the thing, IPVanish has implemented 256-bit encryption and you can choose your protocol of choice from IKEv2, OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), L2TP, and PPTP. I would say go with OpenVPN protocol for maximum protection and performance. Further, this VPN allows network tunneling on 10 devices which can be very helpful if you have a family and want to share your private connection. Strictly put, IPVanish is a great VPN and a suitable alternative to NordVPN if you are from the US or Canada.

Visit Website (Starts at $6.49/month with the yearly plan)

9. ProtonVPN

Visit Website (Free, Starts at $4/month with the yearly plan)

10. Windscribe

Windscribe is among the best freemium VPNs which offer 10GB of free data for a month. However, I would recommend you to go with the paid plan for better online protection and no logging of your internet traffic. In terms of coverage, it’s not as large as NordVPN, but offers its servers in more than 60 countries around the globe and promises no downtime. The VPN also supports multiple security protocols such as OpenVPN, IKEv2, and SOCKS. You can further set up the VPN based on your security preference. You also get AES-256 encryption with the IKEv2 security protocol. To sum up, Windscribe is a worthy alternative to NordVPN and you can opt for it, but make sure to try the free plan before you make a jump.

Pick the Best NordVPN Alternative and Protect Your Online Identity

So that was our list of 10 best NordVPN alternatives which offer a great degree of security with a similar level of performance. NordVPN has a large number of servers across the world so we have tried to include VPNs which can match up with its performance and reliability. In terms of security too, we have chosen VPNs that come with OpenVPN and other high-end security protocols. Anyway, that is all from us. If you are a NordVPN user, you should switch to a suitable VPN from the list for better privacy.

Should You Buy The Oneplus 2?

Reasons to buy the OnePlus 2

Future proofed

Yes, “2023 flagship killer” should probably be taken as a marketing slogan and nothing more. In the fast paced race of mobile industry, no device can claim supremacy for more than a few weeks, never mind a year. That said, the OnePlus 2 strives to deliver on its promise of being a flagship killer, by offering a blend of the flagship specs from this year’s handsets combined with projected requirements of a flagship in a year’s time with an eye on the overall price.

In-part due to its affordable price tag and in part due to the specs including the RAM, fingerprint sensor, camera and dual SIM, the OnePlus 2 specs should, on paper, at least be good enough to challenge flagships from this year and next, at all but the top price bracket.

Value for money

On paper, the OnePlus 2 is equal to many devices – and better than a lot of others – but what really sets it apart is its price tag; other devices offering similar specifications retail in excess of $550 but the OnePlus 2 retails a lot lower at $389 for the higher-specced 64GB model (and even lower at $329 for the lesser-spec 16GB model).

Comparing the specs on paper is certainly one consideration but the actual experience also has to deliver. The $300 to $500 price bracket is becoming one of the most fiercely contested amongst OEMs and the OnePlus 2 will likely compete against devices that feature many of the similar specs.

ZTE Axon vs OnePlus 2 vs Moto X Style: value for money, redefined


For a lot of consumers, the little considerations may be the difference when choosing a handset, and while the OnePlus 2 certainly has a lot going for it, there are a few little things that could let the handset down.

Reasons NOT to buy the OnePlus 2

OnePlus has prided itself on offering flagship specs on its smartphones and while the OnePlus 2 does this mostly, there are a couple of features that have been omitted from the handset. The 3300 mAh battery is certainly large enough for most usage but as it’s non-removable, so you can’t swap it out when your battery does get low.

For other handsets like the Galaxy S6, this is not so much of an issue as that handset has both wireless and quick charging, but these are two features that are missing from the OnePlus 2. Wireless charging is a feature that is a nice-to-have but Quick Charge 2.0 is definitely a must-have feature and as the OnePlus 2 doesn’t have it, it means it’s likely to take several hours to charge to full (as opposed to other Quick Charge handsets that can charge half the battery in just half an hour).

A crucial feature that’s also been omitted from the OnePlus 2 is NFC (Near Field Communications) and while OnePlus claim it left the feature out as it’s not used that often, we’re entering an era where mobile payments are becoming mainstream. The lack of NFC means you won’t be able to pay for items using your phone and it also means you won’t be able to use NFC for accessories and cross-device communication, which are both likely to become popular features in the ecosystem over the next 18 months.

The invite system

The one thing that sets OnePlus apart from the competition is the (dreaded) invite system. To manage its inventory, the company issues invites to purchase the handset (and then allows people who have bought it to also share invites) and while they have promised a much larger launch inventory, actual availability could be an issue.

The other thing that could hamper the OnePlus 2 is its release date; the handset launches on August 13th and with availability likely to be significantly less than the demand, you might find yourself turning to other handsets. For example, the Galaxy Note 5 should be announced the same day before hitting the market a few days later on August 21st and offer similar specs (with a heftier price tag) while IFA at the beginning of September should herald other devices that vie for your money.

Support: Is there any?

One reason many customers opt not to buy a handset from a start-up (can we still call them that?) like OnePlus is the question of support and the OnePlus One doesn’t leave us with any confidence. OnePlus’ first handset failed on the support front and quality assurance fronts with numerous reports of DOA (defective/dead on arrival) devices and a lack of communication from the Chinese manufacturer.

For the OnePlus 2, it’s unclear how the company aims to improve this, especially as it seems to predominantly operate out of an Asian base (although it does have warehousing and admin functions in Europe). For customers in the USA and Europe, support (or the lack of it) could be a reason to skip the OnePlus 2 and opt for a handset with better support, should you need it.

So should you buy the OnePlus 2?

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