Factor reviews: Microsoft’s mobile apps for grads

With 2014 university graduates now released into the professional world, Microsoft has developed a line of apps to help ease their transition. We reviewed them on the Nokia Lumia 925, a sleek smartphone that operates on Windows.

JobLens

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This app helps grads on their job hunt by connecting to contacts through LinkedIn and Facebook.

The highlight of the app is an augmented reality feature that allows you to see available jobs around you using your phone’s camera. Move your phone screen around and you can see the general direction of the companies that are hiring, listed with their distance from your location and the position they are looking to fill.

I found the augmented reality feature rather unnecessary and difficult to navigate, preferring the display that showed available jobs on a map, so I could get a better idea of a company’s exact location and nearby landmarks.

The app also allows you to create a resume, though it seems impractical to type out your entire resume on your phone rather than a full keyboard.

Looking for jobs through an app is certainly useful, but augmented reality just seems to be a distraction to the job search, especially for grads that have no time to waste as they start to pay off student loans.

CityLens

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CityLens gives you a comprehensive look at everything there is to do in your city of choice. From reviews and locations of restaurants to event and venue listings for daytime and nightlife activities, CityLens is extremely useful for grads who want to stay busy as they transition into working life.

In fact, this app would be useful to just about anyone who travels. It provides transportation information to make sure users always know how to find venues, as well as accommodation listings with reviews from TripAdvisor for people trying to find a place to stay.

The augmented reality feature is better served on CityLens than its job search counterpart, since people are more likely to look for nearby restaurants than careers in the spur of the moment.

This is a quality app for anyone who lives in a city or is looking to visit one, and it would definitely help grads find something fun to do on a night out.

Waze

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Traffic can be a pain, especially if you are heading to your first day at a new job. Waze is a handy app that gives full traffic reports, complete with the direction of the traffic, the cause and the average speed.

It gives moods and locations of other Waze users and allows you to report the traffic around you both actively and passively through your phone’s location services.

The app also contains a navigation system so you can figure out the best route to avoid heavy traffic.

Generally, it seems quite helpful, but it appeared that very few users were reporting information around me.

Waze would be more effective if more people used it, so I recommend downloading it and taking advantage of its features.

Overall

Other apps in the grad collection include Travel, Real Estate Search, LinkedIn, and the particularly fun-to-use notepad OneNote.

I found the apps for grads mostly user-friendy, but to be honest, there are some things you just shouldn’t do on a phone. It’s much easier to plan a vacation, look for a house or a job on a laptop than a tiny phone screen.

So if you want to browse these apps to find your perfect career, you should probably expect a little augmented reality-induced frustration.

Factor’s verdict:

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3/5: USEFUL BUT NOT ESSENTIAL


Featured image courtesy of 1000 Words / Shutterstock.com


Factor reviews: Withings Pulse O2

Fitness and health trackers often claim to be able to help you improve your life, but many fail to provide adequate tools to allow you to make changes.

The Withings Pulse O2 – from here on known just as Pulse – is not one of these fitness trackers.

It collects so much data about your life that it is possible to see what you are doing down to each half an hour of the day and night.

The Pulse isn’t just an activity tracker that records your steps and sleep. It also keeps note of elevation, distance, calories, your pulse and blood oxygen saturation.

And thanks to the screen on the front, you’re easily able to see your progress and how you are doing whenever you want.

The added bonus of the screen is the clock that is included. Just by looking at the time on the Pulse you see how many steps you have completed each day and how close you are to your goal.

Checking the time also subconsciously makes you think about your stats and your health, ensuring you don’t forget about the tracker.

To wear on the wrist the Pulse, which retails at €119.95, is comfortable and has 10 options for size.

The belt clip, which comes with the Pulse, is strong and will not fall off your waist even if you are running. You don’t have to tell it you are going for a run as it will recognise you are moving more intensely.

When it is worn on the wrist it is probably the closet device that doesn’t show notifications to a smart watch.

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The Pulse is a fantastic piece of wearable technology for those who are very health conscious, or want to be.

The range of tracking options it provides is well above many of its competitors, and they are all displayed in easy-to-interpret graphs on the mobile app or the web.

The web version has a fantastic view of your activity, broken down by each half hour of the day and night. It allows you to see the times you are most active and also when you sleep the deepest.

This view lets the user see how many steps they have taken at every point of the day and it is easy to pick up the times when you aren’t moving around enough.

It also excels in the level of detail you are given. When you have been in bed you are told how long it took you to get to sleep. When you have been active it is possible to learn not only how long you were active for but whether the activity was soft, moderate or intense.

For those who are concerned about their general health, the ability to take your heart rate gives a great insight into what times of the day are your most and least active.

The mobile app also can send you reminders about when to go to bed, weigh yourself, not to skip breakfast and many more.

The reminders are meant to help you improve aspects of your life by creating new habits – much like other purpose-built apps such as Lift.

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One thing that I would like to improve about the Pulse is its water resistance. While being able to operate fine when caught in the rain it cannot be worn in the shower or swimming – which means it is easy to forget to put on again.

Surprisingly, the battery life of the Pulse is better than some of the other fitness trackers that don’t have screens.

On one charge the Pulse lasted almost an entire seven days before it started to warn that it had fewer than 20% of its battery remaining.

In terms of aesthetics, some people have recoiled when they’ve seen the Pulse on my wrist and others think it is an impressive device, which blends in as a watch.

When combined with other products from Withings, such as smart scales and blood pressure monitors, the Pulse will become an even more powerful tool for you to keep track of your health.

For those who really want to make themselves healthier using technology as an aid, the Withings Pulse 02 holds the key to obtaining data about yourself.

Factor’s verdict:

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5/5: MUST-HAVE PURCHASE


Images courtesy of Withings