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Top-honors apps at Google conference

Woebot was named Standout Well-Being App at Google

Woebot was named Standout Well-Being App at Google I/O.  Credit: Woebot Labs

Google I/O, the tech giant’s annual developers’ conference, was held last week. As part of the event, the best mobile apps and games in various categories were chosen. Here’s a look at four apps that took home top honors. Next week, a look at the best games from Google I/O.


(iOS, Android; free)

Woebot bills itself as “your self-care expert,” and the judges agreed, naming it Standout Well-Being App. Woebot is for the times when you are feeling, well, woeful, and it helps you brighten your mode and cope with stressful situations with uplifting messages, insight and advice. The judges honored Woebot for “empowering people to live the best version of their lives.”


(iOS, Android; free)

Named Best Breakthrough App, Slowly brings the age-old practice of finding and communicating with pen pals to the digital age. The app is aptly amed: The goal of Slowly is not to fire off instant messages but to send long-form letters that you write. The app will send your letter, but like an old-fashioned mailed letter, it will take time to reach your recipient — which adds to the charm of the app.


(iOS, Android; free)

Remember when an entire family gathered in the living room to watch TV together? Unfortunately, most people don’t. Neverthink won’t bring your immediate family together, but it will give you a feeling of community as it recommends videos that other people are watching on the internet. You can discuss the videos with others around the globe. Named Best Living Room Experience, Neverthink “brings people together,” Google said. 

Envision AI

(iOS, Android; free)

This innovative app is focused on helping the visually impaired. Envision AI will process images on a smartphone and using artificial intelligence will “speak” what it sees to the user. It could be as wide-ranging as a beautiful scene from nature or as practical as a menu in a restaurant or a sign at a bus stop or train station. Google named the app Best Accessibility Experience, noting its mission to “serve people with disabilities or special needs.”

Internet crime soaring

The number of internet crime reports is growing — and so is the damage. The FBI says it logged 351,937 complaints in 2018, up from 301,580 in 2017. But the monetary losses nearly doubled, from $1.4 billion to $2.7 billion. Among the most costly crimes were investment frauds and dating scams. The FBI said people 50 and older were the most likely victims of internet crimes.


Sitting ducks

Sedentary behavior is growing, but couch potatoes aren’t fully to blame. Research published in JAMA shows Americans spend more hours a day sitting than they did 15 years ago. The number of hours spent watching TV has remained constant -- the additional time is spent sitting in front of a computer. Sitting too long has been linked to numerous health issues, including cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


Amazon-branded goods are “flops”

Amazon has been pushing its own private-label products, including batteries, baby wipes and jeans. But most Amazon-branded goods are flops. Research firm Marketplace Pulse found that shoppers aren’t more inclined to buy Amazon brands even when the company elevates them in search results. The study suggests narratives about Amazon’s market power are overblown, despite the company capturing 52 percent of all online spending.

-- Bloomberg News


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