Tech review: Apps to help you catch Z's

AT&T launches push-to-talk service for the iPhone.

AT&T launches push-to-talk service for the iPhone. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

After spending hours a day pressing, swiping, emailing, chatting and gaming, many smartphone users are overstimulated at bedtime. Add in the stressful situations of a typical day, and a good night's sleep can be a pipe dream. These apps are designed to help you get some shut-eye after a day fending off angry birds or angry bosses.

White Noise(iOS, Android, $1.99)

If your sleep is disturbed by barking dogs, noisy neighbors or things that go bump in the night, this app won't shut them up, but it may shut them out. Along with several "white noises" -- all-frequency sounds that mask other sounds and noises -- it has soothing selections such as ocean waves, thunderstorms and, for those who find housework relaxing, a clothes dryer and a vacuum cleaner. Free "lite" versions with fewer sounds are available.


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Breathe2Relax(iOS, Android; free)

Annoyed, infuriated and jumpy after a hard day? This stress-management tool was developed by the Department of Defense for military personnel. The app offers several lessons in diaphragmatic breathing. The technique has been shown to reduce anxiety and anger, two emotions that make it difficult getting to sleep and staying asleep.

Pzizz(iOS, $5.99; Android, $9.99)

This app plays a soundtrack of relaxing sound effects, calming "binaural" beating tones and music while a soothing voice helps you get your mind and body ready for sleep. The soundtrack is random: The developer says there are 100 billion possible combinations. There is a $1.99 "lite" version for iOS, but the more expensive Android app offers neither a lite version nor a free trial period. If it doesn't help you get to sleep, you could lose more sleep over how much you paid.

SleepBot(iOS, Android; free)

Helping you get a good night's sleep tonight is not the main goal of this app. Helping you figure out why you had a bad night's sleep last night is its mission. SleepBot tracks your movements and records your sounds during the night. Next morning, check the graphs to see when you were tossing and turning and match it with your sounds at the time for clues. Make sure to keep your charger attached or the app may drain your battery overnight.

 

Tech Bytes

 

 

Tumblr issues security fix

 

Tumblr has urged users of its iPhone and iPad apps to install a "very important" security update because of an issue that could cause passwords on the blogging and social network to be stolen. Tumblr, recently acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion, also recommended that iPhone and iPad users change their passwords on Tumblr and "anywhere else you may have been using the same password." -- Peter King

 

PCWorld goes digital-only

 

PCWorld, the groundbreaking computer magazine that debuted 30 years ago, will no longer produce a print edition. Publisher IDG said PCWorld will now appear only in digital versions. The August issue, on newsstands now, will be PCWorld's last print edition. PCWorld said print subscribers will have to activate a digital subscription on the magazine's website to get the electronic edition. -- Peter King

 

Microsoft cuts Surface prices

 

Microsoft has cut the price of its Surface RT tablet by $150 as the device struggles to lure customers. The least-expensive Surface RT model now costs $349, down from $499. A Surface with a keyboard that doubles as a cover is now $449, reduced from $599. Surface, Microsoft's first-ever computer, has been largely shunned by consumers since its debut in October. -- Bloomberg News

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