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What’s a Zubat? Pokemon Go, how to play

Confused by the Pokemon Go mania sweeping the world?

You’re not alone.

For those who don’t know the difference between a Squirtle and a Zubat, here’s a look at the game, how to play it and some of the problems it’s causing.

WHAT IS IT AND HOW DO I GET IN ON IT?

Pokemon Go is a free game app that you can download for your iOS or Android smartphone. The game asks players to wander their real-world neighborhoods on the hunt for the animated monsters made famous years ago by cartoons, video games and trading cards. Players build their collections, make their Pokemon more powerful and do battle with those held by other players.

Set up is relatively quick. You customize your avatar – choosing the color of its hair and style of clothing – then set off on your adventures. Fans like how it takes gaming into the streets and gets people walking around outside instead of sitting in front of a console system hooked up to a TV.

Part of the setup process also involves signing into the app with a Google account, at least unless you have an existing account with the Pokemon site’s own “training club .” (It’s rationing out new signups.) The Google sign in process prompted a backlash over privacy concerns, but we’ll get to that later.

SO, IN A NUTSHELL, HOW DO I PLAY?

The app displays your avatar amid a grid of streets and other bits of geography, such as rivers and parks. It’s like a bare-bones version of Google Maps with a pretty sky above it. You can see in all directions by spinning your character around.

But it takes a little getting used to. The streets don’t have names on them, making it tough to determine which way you need to walk until you actually start moving. (A compass icon points north, if you find that helpful.)

Look around and you’ll see floating light-blue blocks that signify “Pokestops,” landmarks that could be anything from the entrance to a park to fancy stonework on a building. Tagging these spots with your phone earns you “Pokeballs,” which you can use to throw at, and ultimately collect, Pokemon, along with other items.

The actual Pokemon — there are 128 initially listed in your profile’s “Pokedex” — also appear on your grid from time to time. Tapping on them brings them up on your screen, allowing you to fling your Pokeballs at them. The idea is to bop them on the head and capture them inside the ball.

Fair warning, some Pokemon are easier to hit than others. Some can escape from Pokeballs, forcing you to re-capture them.

HOW DOES AUGMENTED REALITY FIT IN?

The app makes it look like the Pokemon are right in front of you by using your phone’s camera to capture an image of the street and display the Pokemon on top of it. This has resulted in some pretty funny pictures on social media.

But the augmented reality feature also makes it tougher to hit the Pokemon, because you have to point the phone at the beast’s supposed location. Turning the feature off by flipping the switch in the top right-hand corner of the screen puts Pokemon right in the middle of the screen, making them easier targets.

SOUNDS LIKE FUN. WHAT’S THE BIG PROBLEM?

While it’s great that people are out walking and exploring, a lot of them are also walking — often the busy streets of big cities like New York — with their heads down and eyes glued to the screens.

This has prompted worries about people walking into traffic, trespassing onto private property or finding themselves in unsafe situations. Many players are children, raising the anxiety level.

Some real-world locations aren’t so keen on attracting players, either.

Operators of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland have asked that their site be removed from the game, saying that playing it at the former Nazi German death camp would be “disrespectful.” The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Arlington National Cemetery have also asked visitors to refrain from playing.

IS THE APP ACTUALLY READING MY GMAIL?

No. Well, at least, not anymore.

When it first launched, the app asked users who signed in with Google for access to their accounts, but didn’t specify that it was asking for access to their entire account including their Gmail, Google documents, Google search history and maps.

The backlash was a strong one. Niantic, the game’s developer, said Monday that it never intended to request such sweeping data access and hadn’t collected information beyond the user’s ID and email address. And on Tuesday, it issued an update that pared back the authorization in the Google sign in to just that data.

Review: Better photos, animated shots in new iPhones

Photography gets even better with Apple’s new iPhones.

Although the iPhone is already among the best smartphones for everyday shots, images from previous iPhones haven’t been as sharp as what rival cameras produce. The new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus models address that, with 50 percent more detail, while introducing animation for still images and brighter low-light selfies.

Screens remain at 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches diagonally, but they have new technology offering shortcuts to frequent tasks.

The iPhone 6s starts at $200 with a two-year contract in the U.S., and $649 without. The Plus costs $100 more. Both models started shipping Friday in the U.S., China, Japan, the U.K. and several other markets. Last year’s models are now $100 cheaper than the new ones.

You might not need a 6s if you just got a new phone last year, but go for the 6s over the 6 if you’re ready to upgrade from an older model. After testing both new models for nearly two weeks, I find the price difference worth it.

CAMERAS GET BETTER

At 12 megapixels, instead of 8 megapixels, the new cameras produce sharper photos. The difference is particularly noticeable when cropping or enlarging photos for printing. Samsung’s high-end phones are at 16 megapixels, but their images are wider. If you chop off the sides to match the iPhone’s 4-by-3 ratio, resolution is about the same. More important is getting your shot in focus, and the automatic focus on both cameras is good.

Other improvements in the iPhone’s camera result in better contrast and less distortion than before. Trees look greener and buildings browner in several test shots. Samsung’s phones have also been good at contrast, but colors are sometimes off. Orange construction barriers look red using Samsung’s Galaxy S6 phone, while a greenish statue came out grey. The iPhones reproduce colors more accurately.

For video, the iPhone catches up with several Android phones and can now record at Ultra HD, also known as 4K. There aren’t many 4K displays available yet, so this is mostly about recording memories for tomorrow’s screens. But the new phones do let you zoom in during playback, so you can see some of that 4K detail today. The Plus model also has better anti-shake technology, so scenes don’t look as though you’re on a boat.

Still images on the front camera improve to 5 megapixels, from 1.2 megapixels, matching Samsung’s phones. Better yet, the new iPhone’s screen functions as a flash so faces come out when snapping selfies in bars and other low-light settings. This is rare in smartphones.

ANIMATED PHOTOS

When you open the camera app, the phone continually records video in the background. Snap a shot, and the phone saves some of that video leading to that shot, plus some afterward — three seconds in all. Now, that photo comes to life when you view it. Apple calls this “Live Photos.” Just tap and hold the screen to see the three-second animation. Share it with other iPhones, the Apple Watch and Mac computers — and soon, through Facebook.

HTC’s One camera had a similar feature, but you have to know about it and turn that on. With iPhones, it’s on by default. It takes practice and requires about double the storage of a regular photo. But it’s worth it _ especially for parents and pet owners. Imagine taking a shot of your kid blowing out birthday candles, then tapping the screen to see it in action.

A NEW TOUCH SCREEN

The iPhone’s screen is now three-dimensional, as the phone responds differently to light, medium and hard touches.

A light touch does what the phone does today. You can open an app or move a cursor when typing.

Press a bit harder on an app icon to access a contextual menu, similar to right-clicking the mouse on Windows computers. Do this with the camera app to quickly take a selfie or record video. Normally, you have to open the camera first, then choose what you want to do.

Inside apps, this medium touch opens a preview, such as a map when you click on an address in a message. Lift your finger, and you’re back to the message. But press even harder to launch the Maps app. In some apps, options slide up from the bottom with a medium touch.

This feature, called 3D Touch, takes getting used to. Out of habit, I still open apps the regular way, even though 3D Touch is quicker. But it could one day be as useful as the fingerprint reader on phones. Now that I am used to that, I rarely enter passcodes anymore.

WHAT ELSE?

The new iPhones are stronger and faster. Inside, the chips are laid out differently to improve battery performance and let you activate the Siri voice assistant simply by saying, “Hey, Siri.” In the past, the phone had to be plugged in for that.

Storage remains at 16 gigabytes for starters, 64 gigabytes for $100 more and 128 gigabytes for $200 over the base model. With Live Photos and 4K videos, your phone will fill up even more quickly, even with better compression to compensate for the higher resolution and animation. Many rival smartphones, including Samsung’s, start at 32 gigabytes. Apple believes most entry-level consumers should be fine with 16 gigabytes, as that’s still enough for a few thousand shots.

That might be so, but if you plan to take lots of photos and video, consider springing for at least 64 gigabytes.

Tech Tips: Stuff you didn’t know you could do on Facebook

Did you know you can add a pronunciation guide to your name on Facebook?

Overlay colorful text on the photos you post?

How about mark the end of a relationship without your 500 closest friends getting notified?

Many of these tips and tricks aren’t well known, even to veterans of the 1.5 billion-strong people-connector and time-waster.

Facebook is constantly updating its service, adding new features or tweaking old ones. A lot can slip through the cracks even if you are scrolling through your friends’ updates several times a day.

Here are a few ways to enhance your Facebook experience:

HOW DO YOU SAY THAT?

More than 83 percent of Facebook’s users are outside of the U.S. and Canada, and they use over 80 languages to communicate with friends and family. That’s a lot of people, and a lot of different ways to say your name. To add a pronunciation guide, go to the “about” section of your profile and click on “details about you,” (called “more about you” on mobile) then “name pronunciation.” Here, Facebook will offer suggestions for your first and last name that you can listen to before selecting. If none work, you can also type in your own phonetic pronouncer.

ONE-TIME PASSWORD

Logging in from a public computer? If you don’t feel comfortable typing in your password on a shared machine that might have malicious software, Facebook lets you request a temporary one by texting “otp” to 32665. You’ll get an eight-character passcode that works for the next 20 minutes and cannot be reused.

UNSUBSCRIBE

Anyone who’s commented on a popular Facebook post, or belongs to a particularly chatty group, knows that those notifications telling you that “Jane Doe and 4 others also commented on a post” can get a bit annoying.

You can turn off notifications for individual posts by clicking on the globe icon on the top right corner of your Web browser, then on the “X” next to the individual notification. You can also change your notification settings here to get fewer or more of them for each group that you belong to.

To do this on mobile, click to view the original post, then click the down arrow in the top right corner of the post. You’ll see an option to “turn off notifications.”

KEEP IT ON THE DOWN-LOW

Announcing engagements and marriages on Facebook is fun. Post and watch the likes and congrats roll in. Bask in the love and glory. Fast-forward a few years for some couples, and the glory fades, not to mention the love and marriage. In this case, you might not want to announce the irreversible breakdown to 450 of your closest friends.

Thankfully, you can still mark the end of a relationship without notifying everyone. Go to your profile and click on the “about” section, then “family and relationships on the left.” Under relationship, you’ll see a gray icon that probably says “friends,” or maybe “public.” Change it to “only me.” Then change your relationship status. After a while, you can change it back if you wish. Your hundreds of acquaintances will be none the wiser, unless they are stalking your profile to see if you are single.

PICTURE PERFECT

Thanks to a popular but little-known new feature, Facebook lets you spruce up the photos you post by adding text and quirky stickers, such as drawings of scuba gear, sunglasses or a corn dog. This tool is available on iPhones and is coming soon to Android devices. To use it, choose a photo to upload and click the magic wand icon. Here, you’ll find text overlay options as well as the same stickers you can use in other parts of Facebook.

Many of these tips and tricks aren’t well known, even to veterans of the 1.5 billion-strong people-connector and time-waster.

Facebook is constantly updating its service, adding new features or tweaking old ones. A lot can slip through the cracks even if you are scrolling through your friends’ updates several times a day.

SECURITY

Another recent addition to Facebook’s trove of tools is a “security checkup” that guides users through a checklist aimed at making their account more secure. This includes logging out of Facebook on Web browsers and apps they are not using, and receiving alerts when someone tries to log in to their account from an unfamiliar device or browser. To use it, go to https://www.facebook.com/help/securitycheckup on your computer _ this feature is not yet available on the mobile app.

Got more tips to share? Find WiG on Facebook and share there.

Highlights from the Mobile World Congress electronics show

Apple was highlighting the capabilities of its iPhone cameras with a gallery of photos taken by its users around the world at an electronics show in Madrid.

Apple’s campaign comes as Samsung unveiled new phones with improved photo-taking capabilities. The two companies have been fierce rivals, and one research firm said that Apple bested Samsung as the world’s top smartphone maker in the last three months of 2014.

Apple Inc. wasn’t at the Mobile World Congress show this week, but is making its presence felt, as new phones are inevitably compared with iPhones. Apple has its own event Monday in San Francisco, where it’s expected to reveal more details about its upcoming smartwatch.

Here’s a look at some of the developments at and beyond Mobile World Congress, which ended on March 5:

Apple is turning over a large portion of its home page, along with billboard and print ads in dozens of cities, to photos from its “Shot on iPhone 6” campaign. The company collected photos from 77 users around the world by combing through Flickr, Instagram and other sites (and getting permissions from the photographers). Apple is featuring 57 photos and three videos from those users at http://apple.com/worldgallery . The rest are on print ads.

Apple is seeking to show that people can take quality images with iPhones, without needing to buy and carry a stand-alone camera. The photo captions describe what makes each image stand out and present tips and information on any apps and accessories used.

The campaign launched just as Samsung Electronics Co. announced its new Galaxy S6 phones, which promise improved focus, low-light capabilities and color adjustments to account for ambient light.

***

Before iPhones came around, there was the BlackBerry. But iPhones — and later, Android phones — showed people that smartphones can do much more than email and calls. BlackBerry was late in modernizing its operating system to offer those capabilities.

At the show, BlackBerry CEO John Chen reiterated the company’s “philosophical” shift away from merely making devices to becoming a leader in software, especially for businesses and even rivals such as Samsung.

Nonetheless, BlackBerry said it may launch four new smartphones over the coming year, including the BlackBerry Leap, a “low-to-mid” market phone that will go on sale in Europe in April. Although the Leap has a touch-screen keyboard, BlackBerry’s head of devices, Ron Louks, told The Associated Press that BlackBerry remains committed to making models with its signature physical keyboards.

***

The head of the Federal Communications Commission is taking the defense of new Internet regulations on the road. During a keynote, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said “there needs to be a referee” for the Internet.

The FCC’s vote last week approved “net neutrality” rules that prevent Internet providers such as Comcast and Verizon from slowing or blocking Web traffic or from creating Internet fast lanes that content providers such as Netflix must pay for. Broadband providers and Republicans have been critical of the new rules, and the FCC’s decision is expected to trigger industry lawsuits that could take years to resolve.

Wheeler did not specifically address the political aspect of the decision, but said “the people against it spawned all kinds of imaginary horribles. This is no more regulating the Internet than the First Amendment regulates free speech in our country.”

Help for the partisan shopper searching for presents

Some, after a long and bruising election cycle, may want to escape politics and settle in for a long winter’s nap. But for those who want to infuse their holiday cheer with a dose of partisanship or progressive spirit, WiG recommends:

• BuyPartisan is an app that helps conscientious consumers make purchases, with some thought to the politics behind the goodies. After downloading and installing on a smartphone, use the app to scan a barcode on a possible purchase. The scan, using data from the Center for Responsive Politics, Sunlight Foundation and Institute for State Money in Politics, shows how employees and executives donated to political parties.

• Buycott, another barcode scanner app, can be used to trace products up the corporate ladder to their biggest parent company and provide details of political leanings and contributions.

• Buying for Equality from the Human Rights Campaign was updated in September and utilizes a hefty database that provides solid information about which companies are best on LGBT workplace issues.

• 2nd Vote is an app that identifies businesses by how well they adhere to top conservative values. Flip the script: Avoid 2nd Vote’s favorites and support the lowest-scoring (aka liberal and progressive) businesses.

• 2A is an app that uses GPS and a smartphone’s location to identify nearby businesses that are “2nd Amendment friendly” and encourage patrons to carry weapons. Download it to know where to avoid.

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Email  editors about this story, or with a story idea.

Facebook app sends self-destructing photos, messages

Facebook is taking another stab at ephemeral mobile messaging with an app called Slingshot.

The app is designed to appeal to fans of Snapchat and other messaging apps that let people send self-destructing messages to friends.

Slingshot draws inevitable comparisons to Snapchat. Facebook even tried to buy Snapchat’s maker – for $3 billion, according to published reports. But there are some key differences between the two.

– AVAILABILITY:

Facebook began making Slingshot available on June 17 to U.S. users, though the company accidentally released it last week in Apple’s app store, giving some vigilant Facebook watchers an early glimpse before the app was removed from the store. Slingshot works with both Apple and Android devices. A Facebook account isn’t required.

– HOW IT WORKS:

After downloading, you can sign up either with a Facebook account or your mobile phone number. You add contacts based on your Facebook friends and phone contacts.

Opening the app takes you to its camera, which has a “shoot” button for taking a snapshot and a “selfie” button for, you guessed it, a selfie. After taking a photo, you can type a message of up to 140 characters on it, or draw a picture. You can then send it to some or all of your Slingshot contacts.

– UNLIKE SNAPCHAT:

On Snapchat, people can see a photo sent to them by tapping on it and holding their finger down until it disappears, always within a few seconds. On Slingshot, you can see a message only if you send one back. Until you do, you’ll only see a pixelated preview of what’s in store. Facebook product designer Joey Flynn says this gives it a “reciprocal, kind of community feel.”

Unlike with Snapchat, there is no time limit on when a message disappears. Once you are done looking at it, you can flick it off to the side and it self-destructs, much the same way you’d reject a potential mate on Tinder’s dating app.

Slingshot also allows reaction shots. This splits your screen in half and lets you snap a photo to return to the sender. In this case, the recipient won’t have to send back a message to view your response.

– SECOND TAKE:

Facebook had a previous Snapchat-like app called Poke, but it never caught on.

Slingshot is the second app to come out of Facebook’s Creative Labs, an internal project designed to develop separate apps in a startup-like environment.

The first app from the lab was Paper, a social news reader that came out in February. The effort comes as Facebook seeks to broaden its reach beyond its 1.28 billion users by splintering off some of its functions to separate apps – and creating stand-alone apps for entirely new features and audiences.

Ten people have been working on Slingshot since January. It grew out of a December hackathon at Facebook where people were trying to figure out out “new ways of sharing,” Flynn says.

Flynn says he thought of his two brothers, both of whom are “non-technical, they don’t live in San Francisco.” The three communicate on iMessage, the iPhone’s built in-messaging system, and Flynn would often send photos and messages to his brothers to no response other than a “seen” receipt. Slingshot, he says, is intended to make sharing stuff more reciprocal.

– THE PROSPECTS:

Even Facebook acknowledges that its Creative Labs apps are starting small and might not reach an audience that Facebook itself reaches. The idea is to offer something for everyone.

But with a plethora of social sharing apps out there, Slingshot faces fiery competition – not just from Snapchat but also Instagram, which Facebook owns, and WhatsApp, which Facebook is buying for $19 billion. The challenge will be to show how it’s different.

Smartphone apps remind patients to take meds

Medicine only helps if you take it properly. And adhering to an exact schedule of what to take, and when, can be challenging for patients who are forgetful or need to take several medications.

Doctors warn about the consequences and urge patients to use various techniques, such as using divided pill boxes or putting their pill bottles beside their toothbrush as a reminder to take their morning and bedtime medicines.

Still, only about half of patients take medication as prescribed, resulting in unnecessary hospital admissions and ER visits that cost the U.S. health care system an estimated $290 billion a year.

To help combat the problem, many doctors are trying a more high-tech approach: They’re recommending smartphone apps that send reminders to patients to take their medications and record when they take each one.

“I think it’s going to become pretty standard” for doctors to recommend them, said Dr. Michael A. Weber, a cardiologist at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Weber began recommending apps to patients a few months ago and already has seen better lab results from a few using them.

“Some people say, `That’s a great idea,'” Weber said. “Even ones who claim they’re conscientious, like the reminders.”

He said the apps are particularly helpful for patients with symptomless conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Those patients are less likely to regularly take their medications than someone with pain or an infection.

“I don’t think they’re going to change the world,” Weber said, though he recognizes benefit of apps. Even so, he said smartphone apps won’t do much to help people who simply don’t like taking medicine, fear side effects or can’t afford their prescriptions.

It’s too soon to tell how well the apps keep patients compliant or how long they keep using them.

Darrell West, director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the independent public policy group Brookings Institution, said some doctors have reported better medication adherence, but there haven’t been large scale studies on the effectiveness of such apps.

The apps began appearing a few years ago and now there are dozens.

Available functions include providing more detailed information on the patient’s medication and illness, prompts to refill prescriptions, email alerts about possible drug interactions, doctor locators and more.

Some have symptom checkers, and one called iPharmacy can identify pills when patients enter their shape, color and imprinted text. Others are just for women on birth control pills or patches (myPill) or patients with complex chronic diseases, such as cancer (CareZone Cancer), diabetes (Diabetes Pacer, which also tracks blood sugar and exercise) or HIV (My Health Matters, from drugmaker Merck & Co.). For those patients, getting off schedule or ignoring symptoms can have particularly serious consequences.

Still more apps take distinct approaches. For instance, Mango Health lets users earn points for complying with their medication schedule. Those points can be turned into gift cards or charitable donations.

CEO and founder Jason Oberfest, formerly head of game platforms at MySpace, said Mango Health partners with doctors and health insurers who are recommending its app to patients and customers.

The app, featured in Apple’s iTunes store, gives a history showing users daily results and point total, plus graphs comparing an individual’s adherence to other app users.

According to the company, 46 percent of its monthly visitors use the app daily and 60 percent are still using it after four months. For widely used classes of drugs for depression, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, the company claims at least 80 percent of its users take their meds as prescribed. That’s compared to 59 percent or less in independent studies of overall patient adherence for those drug classes.

“We’ve heard from people using the application as old as their mid-’70s and older,” Oberfest said, but it’s especially popular with the 35-to-55 age group, people familiar with video games.

Here are some tips for choosing an app:

-Check whether it’s available for your smartphone’s operating system. Some are only available for one system or haven’t been updated for the latest phones.

-Ask your doctor’s opinion. Some may not be up on the different apps but have staff members who can help patients pick and install apps.

-Start with one of the many free or low-cost apps. Search your app store for “medication reminder.”

-Think about what you’ll really use. If you only want reminders to take your pills, that’s all you need. If you’re taking multiple drugs or change medications often, you might prefer an app with information on your condition, drug interactions and other details.

-To protect your privacy, pick one with password protection.

-If your life is hectic, consider one with a snooze function.

Got digital spare change? Starbucks to allow digital tipping with app

Starbucks will soon let customers leave tips with its mobile payment app, which raises the question – how often do people tip their baristas?

The coffee chain says the mobile tipping option, which it announced more than a year ago, will be available on its updated app for iPhones starting March 19. The rollout comes as the company’s app has surged in popularity, with roughly one out of every 10 purchases now made with a mobile device.

After paying with the app, Starbucks says customers will be able to leave a tip of 50 cents, $1 or $2 anytime within two hours of the transaction. The tipping option will only be available at the 7,000 of the roughly 11,000 Starbucks locations in the U.S. that are owned by the company.

The move puts a spotlight on what can be a sensitive topic for customers, workers and even Starbucks, which has faced lawsuits over how it divvies up the contents of tip jars among workers. Some customers are happy to tip for friendly service, knowing that baristas don’t earn that much. Others say that they already fork over enough money and shouldn’t be made to feel like they should throw money into a tip jar as well.

Zee Lemke, who has worked as a Starbucks barista in Wisconsin for more than three years, said most customers nevertheless leave a tip of some sort. She said tips generally add between $1.50 and $2 to her hourly pay of $9.05. But she noted that there’s no rule on how much baristas can expect to earn from tips.

“It varies a lot from store to store, even in the same city,” Lemke said. At the drive-thru location where she works, for instance, she said tips go down when it’s cold out and people are less likely to reach out and put money in the tip box that hangs off a ledge.

Lemke, 30, said mobile tipping has the potential to boost the amount she earns. Still, she doesn’t like the idea of employers relying on tips to compensate workers.

“It’s a way of claiming workers make more than you’re paying them,” she said.

Starbucks, meanwhile, has been pushing to get people to sign up for its mobile app and rewards program, which helps boost the number of times people are likely to visit its stores. The Seattle-based company says the addition of the mobile tipping option is a response to demand from customers, many of who no longer carry around much cash.

“We asked our customers what they thought would be easiest and best,” Adam Brotman, chief digital officer for Starbucks, said in a phone interview. There are no plans to bring the mobile tipping option to stores licensed to other operators, however.

Exactly how Starbucks divides up the tip jars varies. Shannon Liss Riordan, an attorney who represented baristas in lawsuits saying shift supervisors shouldn’t share in tips, said the cash is typically distributed on a weekly basis.

“They keep it in a safe and dole it out to employees … based on the number of hours worked,” she said.

As for the tips earned through mobile payments, Starbucks said they’ll be paid out to workers in cash in line with however they receive their regular tips.

App vs. apathy: Guides to help consumers in the market

Interested in checking out a list of retailers and manufacturers to see which are naughty and which are nice? WiG tested a number of free smartphone apps that guide shoppers to the businesses that support their causes. Several we like:

• The Human Rights Campaign’s Buying for Workplace Equality App rates brands, products and businesses on LGBT issues, specifically workplace issues such as non-discrimination policies, domestic partner benefits and employee affinity groups. The guide contains ratings from “Apparel and Accessories” to “Travel and Leisure.” The companies with the best LGBT records receive the highest scores out of 100. Example rating: Converse, 100; Nike, 100; Adidas, 15.

• 2nd Vote is an app launched at the right-wing Values Voter Summit to help conservatives buy their tea from businesses with similar politics. If you can get past the idea that you’re signing up — you’ll need a username and password — for a Values Voter tool, you can effectively use 2nd Vote to support businesses that support progressive causes — including marriage equality and choice. Just look for the lowest scoring business, brand or product and be sure to “vote” in the app to endorse your favorites. Example rating: Chick-fil-A, 8, actively conservative; Arby’s, 5.7, passively liberal; Ben & Jerry’s, 2, actively liberal.

• GoodGuide helps consumers buy products and support companies rated for impact on health, society and the environment. There’s a barcode scanner in the app, a search option to find a range of goods ranked from zero to 10 and a shopping list. Example rating: Green and Blacks Almond Chocolate Bar, 7.4; Terry’s Dark Chocolate Orange, 3.6; Ferrara Imported Belgian Milk Chocolate Bars, 2.7.

— L.N.

It is LGBT History Month. There’s an app for that!

In celebration of LGBT History Month in October, the free mobile app Quist has updated a keyword search feature to sort the 800 LGBTQ historical events in the app’s database.

Quist also has teamed up with the It Gets Better Project for history month.

“Our projects are very aligned in trying to bring a message of hope to LGBT youth with a 21st-century approach,” said Brett Peters at the It Gets Better Project. “We’re big fans of the Quist app and are excited to share these stories to our followers.” The It Gets Better Project’s social media channels will be sharing two to three historical facts per week from Quist throughout LGBT History Month.”

“The community’s response to Quist has been tremendous,” said Sarah Prager, 27, Quist’s founder and director. “There was clearly a need for such a resource about LGBTQ history because the app has already been downloaded 13,000 times in 80 countries in our first nine weeks.”

Quist’s mission, according to a news release, is “to educate the world about the roots of the LGBTQ community, make LGBTQ history more engaging and relevant, let LGBTQ youth know that others have shared their struggle, and promote organizations that make LGBTQ history today and every day.”

The app is free for iOS and Android.