Digital Culture

The 12 best apps for Christmas – from what to cook to tracking Santa

It’s that time of year again, when the days are shorter, mince pies are back on the shelves and Mariah Carey is always playing somewhere. As plans for office Christmas parties and family gatherings are made, here are some apps that might come in handy for the holiday season.


(Android/iOS, free)

Office Secret Santas can be a hassle to organise, especially with many of us working remotely now. Elfster helps you manage your gift exchanges by letting you create a group, invite friends and

Dan Gardner wanted to know when to go to the loo during films – so he built an app

Created out of personal necessity by North Carolina-based developer Dan Gardner during a near three-and-a-half-hour King Kong screening, RunPee is an app that tells film audiences the best times to nip to the loo.

Where did the idea come from?

By the end of Peter Jackson’s 201-minute King Kong in 2005, I was in agony because I needed the loo. As we were leaving, I wanted to tell the people in the line to see the next show about the scene with giant bugs in the middle of the movie – perfect for

The 20 apps to make your summer go smoothly

While July may have been a little grey, we’re still in for some warm days this summer. There are trips to take and barbecues to attend, and no matter who’s joining us on these outings, our smartphones surely will. So here are some apps to help you make the best of the season.

Whether you’re trying to find your tent in a sea of identical blue and green at a festival (as I did at Glastonbury) or trying to figure out the best time to run to the loo during a Barbenheimer marathon, these apps might

'Auntie Network': The Reddit group helping women get abortions in the US

Following news that the US could potentially overturn the legal right to abortion, people started organising protests.

Meanwhile, a different kind of organising was taking place on Reddit.

Posts with titles like ‘Oregon Auntie ready to help’, ‘AL Auntie stepping up’, ‘Librarian in Massachusetts Ready to Help’ started popping up on the subreddit r/auntienetwork soon after the news broke.

The group, created in 2019 as a ‘place to help anyone who has a uterus’, is dedicated to providing informat

I tried BeReal, the Instagram alternative, and I don't see the hype

BeReal is the new social media app that’s taken the the world by storm, currently occupying the number one spot on Apple’s ‘Top Free Apps’ in the UK.

The app even made an appearance on Elon Musk’s tweet complaining that Donald Trump’s Truth Social was overtaking Twitter and TikTok on the App Store.

BeReal claims to be ‘Not another social network’ by discouraging filters and capturing life as it is.

Everyday at a different time, BeReal simultaneously notifies its users to capture and share a p

Locked down Shanghai residents turn to WeChat groups for food

WeChat groups are becoming lifelines for desperate residents stuck in China’s strictly locked down areas.

The Chinese government has struggled to evenly distribute essentials to its 26 million confined residents.

In response to the social media pleas for food and medicines, people have taken matters into their own hands with residents acting as intermediaries and sourcing essential supplies for their communities.

‘On the building’s WeChat group, someone would share a post saying “Hey, we are

The metaverse is not designed for women

In December 2021, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, launched Horizon Worlds, a free virtual reality (VR) space where you could play games and socialise with people’s virtual avatars.

It was the dawn of the ‘metaverse’. Just days after its launch, Nina Jane Patel, a psychotherapist and researcher reported being sexually assaulted there.

‘Within 60 seconds of joining — I was verbally and sexually harassed — 3 – 4 male avatars, with male voices, essentially, virtually gang raped my avatar and took

How women are feeling the full force of the Indian government's crackdown on dissent

On 13 February 2021, Disha Ravi, a 22-year-old climate activist was arrested by the Indian police. Her alleged crime? Editing a Google Doc ‘toolkit’ containing information on how to support the ongoing farmers’ protests in India. Toolkits are standard advocacy material used to coordinate protests and educate people about a movement. But in this instance, the Delhi Police named Ravi as a “key conspirator” alongside climate activist Greta Thunberg


Museum of the Future: Inside 'the world's most beautiful building'

Beautiful buildings have always been built for a purpose: to mark an event, house powerful institutions or make a statement. Behind the beautiful buildings of Dubai, the statement seems to be ‘because we can’.

What started off in 1999 with the Burj Al Arab, a sailboat shaped symbol to put Dubai on world travellers’ wish lists has worked very well for the country. The United Arab Emirates saw a tourism revenue of £28 billion in 2019, up from £15 billion the previous year.

At a modest 77 metres,

A Moroccan getaway should be on every birthday bucket list – here's why

Some people like their birthdays to be quiet affairs – not me. So, jetting off to the enchanting city of Marrakech was a birthday wish come true.

Just under four hours on a flight from London will get you to Morocco’s ‘Red City’, and I was glad to swap the grey English skies for blue.

At the heart of the ancient city is the buzzing Medina, a UNESCO World Heritage site, surrounded by centuries-old city walls. It’s within these walls that our airport pick-up took us to IZZA, a cosy but opulent a

Etihad's A380 superjumbos are back in the air – here's what to expect

After a two-year hiatus, UAE’s Etihad Airways is bringing back its Airbus A380 and was invited on the inaugural flight from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi.

In 2020, the airline retired its entire A380 fleet due to the impact of Covid on air travel demand.

Now, as post-pandemic travel resumes, the first of the airline’s four Airbus A380s has returned to the sky on the popular Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow route.

And, as demand for travel surges over the UK’s wet summer, the aircraft a

Forget honeymooning couples, solo travellers can enjoy all-inclusive trips too

When I think of all-inclusive resorts, families, honeymooning couples and hen dos instantly come to mind — but I was pleasantly surprised to find it was the perfect getaway as a solo female traveller, too.

While you wait for that Hinge romance to blossom into something half-decent to test out the waters of travel, the stars and your friends’ schedules never seem to align for that dream vacation.

Despite Instagram telling us to chase #wanderlust, travelling alone can be intimidating for a lot o


What Bridgerton gets wrong about Indian culture

The new season of dropped over the weekend and, as expected, Indians around the world were giddy with excitement. Rightly so, as we get one of the best representations of Indians in Western media, and in a Regency-era romantic drama at that.

The does a lot of things right when it comes to South Asian representation – but it also has some culturally iffy moments, which have made Indians do a double-take.

We're introduced to the gorgeous Miss Kate (Simone Ashley) and Edwina Sharma (Charithra Cha

Why does the white boy always get the girl in Netflix rom-coms?

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Kissing Booth are two of Netflix’s most popular young adult franchises, having already spawned multiple sequels (the third instalments are slated for the near future). As with the majority of American high school movies, both are replete with mean girls, bad boys, misfit best friends, clandestine romances and college applications – and both revolve around typical teen girls who have a crush on the school heartthrob, who happens to be out of her league an

‘This is a great time for women in cinema’

A year after tying the knot and a host of releases lined up, Samantha Akkineni has us believing that an actress can really have it all.

In a chat with MetroPlus , she talks about her upcoming films, women, and choosing scripts.

U Turnis the remake of the successful Kannada film. You were very intent on making this happen. Why is that?

I believed that it needed a larger audience. And since I’ve always been in touch with director Pawan Kumar from the time he made Lucia , it was about time we wo


Chat with Vishal Shah, Meta’s VP of Metaverse

Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse has become a thing of memes and parodies but the billionaire remains unfazed by the criticism.

To say the metaverse has had some bad press lately would be an understatement.

‘Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse vision is over’, ‘How Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse gamble backfired’, ‘Skepticism, confusion, frustration: Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse struggles’ are some of the headlines on the subject.

Either the ego of a billionaire doesn’t bruise easy or maybe he’s in too

Apple goes big on accessibility with new features that give you a voice

Apple’s new range of accessibility features announced at this year’s WWDC highlights its commitment to staying on course to be inclusive. caught up with Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s senior director of accessibility and policy, to talk about the tech giant’s approach to accessibility and the new features coming this autumn.

Until now, Apple’s accessibility efforts revolved around four main pillars: vision, hearing, physical motor, and cognitive. This year, they are introducing a fifth

Spotify DJ: Meet the voice behind the AI

Spotify jumped on the AI bandwagon this year with a new music personalisation feature called ‘DJ’ that started rolling out to Premium users across the UK and Ireland last week.

I used it and loved it. So, I caught up with the voice behind the AI — Xavier ‘X’ Jernigan.

When you click on the DJ button, it’s X’s voice that you hear. So, if you’re using Spotify in the UK, you might have heard him already. X tells me his experience of having Spotify’s AI voice modelled on him.

How does it feel to


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