The best mobile apps for holiday shopping

Holiday giftsCreative Commons License Dr. Wendy Longo via Compfight

Christmas is quickly approaching, but there’s still time left to do a little last minute shopping and find that perfect gift for everyone on your list. Mobile apps can help us save time and money, so check out our list of top picks to help you with your holiday shopping.

Making your gift lists – One of the first steps of holiday shopping is making a list of everyone that you want to give a gift to. Mobile apps can help you manage all your lists and gather ideas of possible gifts.

Google Keep – Quickly capture what’s on your mind and make a simple list of your gifts or holiday to-dos. Keep lets you track your notes, add reminders, and cross off tasks when you complete them.

Springpad – This app is similar to Keep, but it provides some more advanced features to manage your lists and collections. Multiple users can collaborate on a single notebook, so you can share your shopping list with a family member or friend.

Pinterest – Another popular app to collect things from around the web and share them with others. Pinterest is also a great source to find inspiration for gift ideas if you need help coming up with the right gift.

Shopping with the tap of your finger - Most big box retailers now have their own native apps, so check your device’s app store to see what is available. Retail branded apps let you shop from home, check prices in store, and browse weekly specials.

Walmart – Save time and order items online for in-store pickup, browse weekly circular ads, check store inventories, and scan product barcodes for additional information.

Target – Shop Target from home, browse the weekly ad, create a shopping list, and use the barcode scanner to check prices and get product reviews.

Best Buy – Locate your nearest store, access your Best Buy account, find in-store clearance and open-box items, earn bonus points for checking in, and check to see if you cell phone is eligible for an upgrade.

Finding the best prices – Some retailers price match online stores, so shop around to find the best price on items. You might discover that certain items are much cheaper online, while others might be marked below online prices.

Amazon – Scan any product barcode to access hundreds of product reviews and see the best prices. Amazon lets you purchase items directly in their app and then track them to your doorstep.

eBay – If you can’t find the gift you want in stock anywhere, there is a good chance that eBay might have it available. You might end up paying a higher price, but it could be the only option to get a special gift in time for the holidays.

ShopSavvy – Search for any product and get a list of local retail stores that have that item in stock. ShopSavvy can also inform you if a local retailer will match the price of another store.

Keep track of your packages

FedEx, UPS, and USPS all have native apps that let you track shipments for your online orders. It’s also a great way to keep track of gifts that you mail to friends. FedEx and UPS even allow you to schedule when packages are delivered.

Avoid rush hour traffic

Waze – There are many navigation apps, but Waze is the best at avoiding heavy traffic. Search for any location and it will show you the quickest way to get there while avoiding construction and other road hazards.

If you do plan to shop online, be sure to check out our 5 Security Tips for Online Shopping before you decide to check out.

How to protect your devices with guest mode

toddler using smartphoneCreative Commons License jenny downing via Compfight

January 28th is National Data Privacy Day, a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the importance of taking steps to protect the privacy of your personal and financial data. In the week leading up to Data Privacy Day we’ll be focusing on the best methods to protect your personal data from harm.

No matter what precautions you personally take with your computing devices, you can still be vulnerable if you allow others to use them. A family member or friend can often be your weakest security link, so it’s important to use caution when lending a device to another. Most operating systems provide some type of guest mode or restricted profile that prevents users from installing or removing apps, so it’s important to make sure this extra layer of protection is enabled. Each operating system handles guest profiles a little differently, so use this post as guide to help you get started.

Windows 7/8

1. Click the Start button, type guest and click Turn guest account on or off

2. Click the Guest account icon

3. Click Turn On to enable the guest account

After the Guest account is enabled, you simply need to log off or switch users to enter the Guest mode.

Windows Phone

Microsoft has yet to implement a guest mode on Windows Phone, but they do have a feature called Kids Corner, where your child can play with the games, apps, music, and videos you add there, and can’t get to the rest of your stuff.

Chrome OS

Google’s Chrome OS has guest mode built in and it’s relatively easy to enable.

1. Sign in to the Chromebook with the account that has been designated as the owner

2. Click the status area in the lower-right corner, where your account picture appears

3. Select Settings and find the “Users” section

4. Click Manage other users

5. Use the “Enable guest browsing” checkbox to control the feature


Several device manufacturers have added some type of guest mode to their custom software, but Android still does not have an official guest mode. Google added the ability to have multiple accounts with the introduction of Android 4.2, so you could create a secondary account for others to use, but this is currently only available on tablets.

1. Open up the Settings application

2. Scroll down the Settings menu and click on Users

3. Click on Add user or profile

4. Click add User to create a second user account


5. Click Restricted profile to create an account that lets you toggle which apps the user has access to

Keep in mind that each user has their own space which they can customize with their own apps, wallpapers, and so on. Users can also adjust universal tablet settings like Wi-Fi, which affect everyone.

Mac OS X

1. Go to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Accounts

2. Click the small lock icon in the bottom-left corner of the System Preferences window

3. Select Guest Account in the sidebar and check the box labeled Allow guests to log into this computer

Apple reminds you that logging in to the guest account does not require a password. Users cannot log in to the guest account remotely. When a guest user logs out, all information and files in the guest account’s home folder are deleted.


As of the latest iOS 7, Apple still does not support any type of guest mode for iPhones or iPads. Several recently discovered patents suggest that Apple might add these types of features in a future release, but there is no telling when that might happen. If you would like to try locking your iOS device with a single app, then give Guided Access a look.

Are you concerned about protecting your children while they use mobile devices? Check out Family Guardian to make sure your kids have fun and stay safe on their smartphones.

5 Cyber security tips for Cyber Monday

cyber-monday-600 Holiday shoppers can find some great deals on Black Friday, but an increasing number of consumers are buying their Christmas gifts online on Cyber Monday to avoid all the crowds and long lines. Last year the total sales for Cyber Monday increased 17% year over year, and even more shoppers are projected to buy online this year. If you plan to shop online today, or this holiday season, be sure to follow these important tips to stay safe online. 1. Update your browser and operating system: It’s important to make sure you have the latest software updates for your web browser and operating system. Software companies routinely release updates that include important security patches, so double check to make sure your browser and operating system are up to date. 2. Stick to well-known online retailers:  Protect yourself from fraud and scams by shopping with big retailers that you trust such as Amazon, Walmart, or Best Buy. If you find a deal that is too good to be true from an unfamiliar retailer, make sure the company is legit before you place an order. 3. Only shop on secure sites: When you are ready to review your shopping cart and check out make sure the site is secure. Look at the site URL to make sure it starts with “https” rather than “http.” The “S” stands for secure and it lets you know your transaction data is encrypted. Most browsers will display a lock icon or change the color of the URL when you visit a secure site, so be on the lookout. 4. Use a credit card for online payments: Most credit card companies offer some type of purchase protection in case you need to dispute any charges. Some debit cards with some banks don’t offer the same type of protection, so check out with a credit card when possible. 5. Print or save your receipts:  It is important to save a copy of your online transactions so you can monitor your credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions. Did you purchase or receive a new smartphone this holiday season? Make sure your mobile device is protected with NQ Mobile Security.