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Tech review: Use these apps to improve your writing

The dictionary.com app offers definitions, synonyms, antonyms and

The dictionary.com app offers definitions, synonyms, antonyms and more. Credit: Newsday/Dictionary.com

A quote often attributed to the satirist Dorothy Parker says, “I hate writing, but I love having written.” With everyone doing some sort of writing daily, whether for work, pleasure or just posting on social media, these apps can help you get from writing to having written with fewer mistakes.

Grammarly Keyboard

(iOS, Android; free)

Grammarly is used by millions of Windows and Mac users worldwide to check their writing for spelling errors and improper grammar. Grammarly Keyboard, the mobile offshoot of the desktop version, keeps an eye on your writing no matter which app you are using — whether it is Facebook, your text messenger or a word processor. Grammarly offers corrections as you type and suggestions for better usage.

Dictionary.com

(iOS, Android; free)

That heavy dog-eared dictionary of years gone by is now a lighter-than-air mobile app. Like print dictionaries, Dictionary.com offers millions of definitions, synonyms and antonyms. But unlike print dictionaries, it has audio pronunciations for many words. Because it is continually updated, you will never be at a loss for words — even if the word is something new like “binge-watch” or “cryptocurrency.”

Quip

(iOS, Android; free)

The stereotype of the writer who works alone until the job is finished is shattered in the business world. This app’s best attribute for writers is its collaboration feature. In an office setting, you can get early feedback before your work moves up the corporate food chain, where sloppy mistakes can kill a project or a career. You can export your work in a variety of formats, including PDF and Microsoft Word files.  

iA Writer

(iOS, $8.99; Android; free)

Many writers’ work will never see the printed page, yet it might be read by millions. If you are writing for the internet, you might be responsible for coding your copy so it appears with proper headings, bold and italic text, blockquotes and more. iA Writer makes this easy. You will have to be familiar with Markdown language syntax, which transforms your copy into coded internet text. iA Writer includes a useful Markdown guide.

Instagram unveils antibullying feature

Instagram has added a new antibullying feature it calls Restrict. Comments from anyone you put on your Restrict list won’t appear on your Instagram page although they will be visible to the poster so he or she will not know they have been restricted. You can still see the comment, and if you approve it, the comment will then appear on your Instagram page.

— PETER KING

Thumbs up

Are you all thumbs when it comes to typing on your smartphones? Good job! A study by Aalto University in Finland and University of Cambridge in Britain found that using both thumbs to type is “significantly faster than using one thumb or index finger.” Overall, people can type about 70 percent as fast on a smartphone compared with a full physical keyboard, the study found.

— PETER KING

Voting systems get Windows 7 reprieve

Windows 7 reaches “end of life” on Jan. 14, meaning Microsoft will stop providing free patches to fix software vulnerabilities. But Microsoft will offer free security updates through the 2020 election for federally certified voting systems still running Windows 7 software. The vast majority of 10,000 election jurisdictions in the United States use Windows 7 or older operating systems to create ballots, program voting machines and tally votes.

— AP

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