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5 Freelancing Tools to Supercharge Your Organization and Productivity



If you’re a freelancer (or even thinking about becoming one), you’re probably aware that it’s a lot of work. The overachieving lifestyle comes with copious responsibilities, grinding administrative tasks, and lots of work — hopefully doing what you love.

Anyone who’s freelanced for more than five minutes knows they can use all the help they can get. The good news is, in the tech-friendly, 21st-century world that we share, there are plenty of freelancing tools available to help.

These equip you and give you the chance to establish a firm foundation so that you can focus on your actual freelancing work as much as possible.

Freelancing Tools to Help You Succeed

Here are a few of the top freelancing tools available.

1. Let Harlow Centralize Your Freelancing Life

Harlow is an online platform that helps freelancers organize work and manage their day-to-day operations. The platform serves as a central hub that brings all of your freelancing activities together in one, easy-to-access place.

Harlow helps with everything from client management to tracking proposals and contracts to invoicing and task management. It gives you a single view of all of your clients and enables you to stay streamlined and focused.

Harlow lives by a clear creed — and one that is desperately needed for most freelancers. In the brand’s own words, everything the Harlow team does is rooted in the fact that “We want to help freelancers organize their day-to-day lives and get paid, so they can focus less on operations and more on what they love to do.”

For the brilliant startup, everything is about boosting productivity and reducing the amount of “busy work” that tends to muck things up and reduce a freelancer’s quality of life.

2. Use Grammarly to Clean Up Your Writing

It doesn’t matter if you’re composing white papers for a tech blog or responding to a dog-walking client via chat. Every freelancer writes. It’s part of what it takes to create a successful business.

If your writing is littered with errors, though, it will hinder rather than help your reputation. After all, it’s challenging to feel confident hiring a contractor when every interaction requires looking past glaring spelling errors and misplaced punctuation.

That’s where Grammarly can be a lifesaver. The writing app is a powerful composition tool. The free version covers all of the basic spell-checking errors — but the paid version goes much further. It can also help with sentence structure, tone, and even checking for plagiarism.

The best part? You can install it on both desktops and mobile devices. This allows it to check everything from Google Docs to emails, text messages, and more.

3. Channel Elite Business Writing With Hemingway App

The other writing tool that we’ll include here is Hemingway App. The modern world struggles with writing in clean, consistent, and clear formats — something that the famous author Ernest Hemingway excelled at doing.

The tool named after the author’s laconic, “to the point” writing style is an excellent way to help those who ramble reign things in. Remember, when you’re contacting a client or emailing your bank, the person on the other end of the line doesn’t want to read a novel. Instead, they want quick messages with the correct details.

Hemingway App makes it possible to reduce your writing without losing the important stuff. You can copy and paste your text into the tool (or compose it right there), switch it to edit mode, and it will instantly analyze the writing. The results will highlight things like:

  • Too-long sentences, which are hard to read.
  • Passive voice, unnecessary in most cases, is a sign of weak writing.
  • Adverbs, which tend to be massively, ridiculously, and excessively overused (see what we did there?)

Hemingway is a free online tool that you will want to bookmark.

4. Give Calendly Control Over Your Schedule

Freelancers live in a remote world. They’re used to responding to messages from a variety of clients for different needs at all hours of the day and night. One minute you might be texting a local client about feedback on a project. The next, you could be emailing another client in Australia about an overdue invoice.

With so much communication going on, you want to have an easy way to schedule meetings. Remember, meetings are already considered big-time wasters in many cases. Even when you have a must-meet occasion, though, the last thing you want to do is spend even more time going back and forth via email about when you can connect.

Calendly takes the headache out of the meeting issue. All that you have to do is set up an account and create the parameters for your meetings. When are you available? How long can you meet? Once the questions are answered, Calendly sets up a personalized calendar.

Share the link and let others book a pre-set time that also works for them. It’s as easy as that and necessary for anyone booking multiple meetings throughout the week.

5. Splash Up Your Presentation With Canva

Back in the day, a business needed a graphic artist to create something visually stunning. That artist often came with powerful illustration tools, like Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

Of course, you can still hire a professional artist if you need something unique. But that takes time — and a lot of money, too.

Instead, you can tap into the power of a tool like Canva to create your own images. It doesn’t matter if you’re making something important, like a logo for your brand or a quick social media post. Canva streamlines the process.

Canva also offers royalty-free images and templates that help direct the creative process. In addition, they can pre-size images for the platform they’re intended for and generally make illustrative art accessible for those without the budget for a full-time artist.

Freelancing is here to stay. Use these freelancing tools above to help you start out on the right foot. That way, when things get busy, you can stay focused on the work that attracted you to the freelancing lifestyle in the first place.

Here’s to a happy, flexible, and organized freelancing career.

Image Credit: Antoni Shkraba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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Doctor Strange 2 Surpasses 800 Million at the Box Office



Image for article titled Doctor Strange 2 Surpasses 800 Million at the Box Office

Image: Marvel Studios

As the weekend winds down, news has come out from The Wrap that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, directed by Sam Raimi, has earned over 800 million dollars officially passing The Batman’s theatrical runs, the last big superhero flick to hit the theaters. Doctor Strange 2 is still a decent chunk of change away from the last Marvel outing–Spider-Man: No Way Home earned 1.89 billion dollars during its release.

The Northman continues to draw audiences, although its release to VOD has made it so that there will likely be little more movement after this weekend. To date the Robert Eggers-directed historical action film earned about 64 million. The film stars Alexander Skarsgård and Anya Taylor-Joy as they attempt to seek revenge and escape the clutches of a dismal fate.

This weekend also saw the first returns for Downton Abbey: A New Era, which brought in 16 million after its opening weekend. Universal Pictures, a specialty production from Universal Studios, released the sequel to 2019’s Downton Abbey, which in turn was a follow-up to the hit television series that ran from 2010 to 2015 and became an international phenomenon. The show follows the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic help across six seasons and fifty-two episodes.

Alex Garland’s horror film of “toxic masculinity,” aptly titled Men, had a solid opening weekend as well (Entertainment Weekly). While 3.3 million might seem modest compared to the big releases, the film is a challenging and divisive watch distributed by the indie darling A24. For a better comparison we can look at the opening numbers for Everything Everywhere All at Once, another A24-distributed film, which netted 3.2 million on its opening weekend.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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Your iPhone Pro Has LiDAR: 7 Cool Things You Can Do With It



Tim Brookes

Some high-end iPhone and iPad models have a LiDAR scanner integrated into the camera module on the back of the device. This effectively gives your device 3D scanning abilities with a few unique and interesting applications.

RELATED: What Is LiDAR, and How Will It Work on the iPhone?

What Does the LiDAR Scanner Do?

LiDAR stands for Light Detection And Ranging, but it may also be commonly referred to as “3D laser scanning” or some variation thereon. The technology works by bouncing light waves at surfaces and measuring the reaction time to determine the shape and distance of objects in the area.

Think of it like RADAR (RAdio Detection And Ranging) but for light waves. Unlike RADAR imaging, LiDAR can provide more detailed and crisper scans with smaller equipment. LiDAR uses signals that work in the nanometer range, whereas RADAR requires the use of antennas that produce radio waves at much lower frequencies.

Coupled with the software on your iPhone, the LiDAR scanner can be used to create 3D representations of objects and their surroundings. To do this you’ll need the appropriate software which you can download from the App Store. Some core iPhone features, like the Camera app, will use LiDAR in other ways.

At present, only the iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro, iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd and 3rd generation), and iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th and 5th generation) are equipped with LiDAR scanners. If you look at the camera array on your device, the LiDAR scanner looks like a small round black circle.

RELATED: How to Use the iPhone Camera App: The Ultimate Guide

Create 3D Scans of Places You Love

Imagine if you had an interactive 3D model of your childhood home or a treehouse you built when you were young. Most of us keep photographs to remind us of places we once lived and loved, but what if instead of flat images we were able to take 3D scans instead?

Well if you have an iPhone or an iPad with a LiDAR scanner on the back, you can do exactly that. Having a 3D space to navigate is a lot more immersive than simply looking at a 2D image. Photographs and videos still have their place, but why not augment your memory bank with something you can experience in three dimensions instead?

This is possible with apps like Polycam, RoomScan LiDAR, and Canvas: Pocket 3D Room Scanner. Most of these apps are free to use, though there are paid upgrades that remove certain restrictions and improve the quality of the scans that you make. You can see LiDAR scanning in action in a YouTube video published by Polycam.

RELATED: How to See 3D Walking Directions in Google Maps

Buying a House? Redecorating? Scan First

Capturing a 3D model of a room or building has some very practical uses. If you’re currently looking to rent or buy a house, taking a scan of the building can help you make up your mind whether or not the place is for you. The process is very similar to taking a walk-through video or series of photographs, both of which are common practices in the real estate world.

Not only is a 3D scan more immersive, but it’s also easier to compare sizes, layout, practical space, and potential for renovation and other major work. We’d recommend taking detailed photos and videos in addition to your scan, which works best with apps like Polycam and RoomScan LiDAR.

If you’re planning major work in a home you already own, a 3D scan can give you a base from which to work in a 3D modeling app like Blender (if you’re comfortable working in such an app). Alternatively, it can provide a nice “before and after” comparison to look back on.

And lastly, selling your house without a real estate agent is surging in popularity. These apps allow you to provide 3D environment scans to potential buyers while still cutting down on expensive agent fees.

RELATED: The Best DIY Home Improvement Apps for iPhone and Android

Create Your Own 3D Assets

Photogrammetry is the act of creating 3D objects from photographic data, and it’s a time-consuming process. While the assets that photogrammetry provides are often highly accurate and detailed, the process of taking an item from a series of photographs to a finished model you can use can take hundreds of hours.

By comparison, a scan made on an iPhone or iPad with an app like Polycam can take a matter of minutes. Scanning an object is a bit like taking a video, and when you’re finished you can export a file that can be used in 3D modeling apps like Blender. Once you’ve tidied up your scan you can import objects into 3D engines like Unity and Unreal.

These engines are used heavily in game development, film, and interactive media. Conor O’Kane is a game developer with a YouTube channel who has not only used this technique but created a tutorial showing how to do this and why small developers might be interested in the process.

Scan and Share Interesting or Cherished Items

Are you a collector? Whatever it is you collect—art, plants, games consoles, or even cars—you might get a kick out of exhibiting it online, in a 3D format. Polycam is perfect for this since it includes built-in model sharing with the rest of the Polycam community, or “polyworld” as the app refers to it.

Some people share ice cream or rock crystals, others share their extensive sneaker collection. Even if you don’t have a LiDAR scanner on your iPhone or iPad, Polycam may still be worth the download just to see what people are scanning and sharing.

It’s like Instagram but for 3D models with an interactive element that other forms of media don’t come close to. It’s easy too, even if you make a bit of a mess while scanning the app has intuitive crop controls that allow you to remove background or surface objects.

Tip: For best results, place your item on a stand, pedestal, or stool before scanning

Take Better Photos in the Dark

Your iPhone and iPad already do this, so you don’t need to activate anything to get the benefit. However, if you’re putting off taking photos in the dark since you don’t trust your device’s autofocus, you might want to reconsider if you have a LiDAR-equipped device.

Since LiDAR is capable of judging distances based on how long it takes the light waves to return to the sensor, autofocus in the dark can be better calculated.

While standard cameras and non-LiDAR equipped models use contrast and phase detection autofocus (what Apple calls “Focus Pixels”) which struggle in low light, your LiDAR-equipped model fares much better. Coupled with Night mode you should be better equipped to take photos in the dark.

Measure More Accurately

You may not have realized this but Apple includes an app called Measure with iOS by default. If you’ve previously discounted and deleted it you can download Measure again for free from the App Store.

The app uses augmented reality to measure real-world distances simply by pointing your phone at a surface. Tap the plus “+” icon to start the measurement and move your device to see it in action.

iPhone Measure app

With a LiDAR scanner, augmented reality is vastly improved on the iPhone and iPad. Measure has gone from being a fun party trick to surprisingly accurate. In our tests, the app was right most of the time, with a margin of error of around 1 cm. This may depend more on how shaky your hands are than anything.

RELATED: How to Measure Distances With Your iPhone

Get More From AR Apps

Measure is just one such AR app that performs better when paired with a LiDAR-equipped iPhone or iPad. Every other AR app can benefit from the sensor, which provides a more stable experience by gauging distance using light rays rather than estimations derived from a “flat” image.

LiDAR really helps to improve the AR experience across the board, like when you’re creating art in apps like World Brush, SketchAR, and Assemblr. Need to provide remote assistance for a real-world problem? Vuforia Chalk allows you to scribble on real-world objects to help relay the point.

Try out various bits of IKEA furniture in your house with IKEA Place, or bring your child’s LEGO sets to life with LEGO Hidden Side, as demonstrated in the above YouTube video published by the Brothers Brick. If you’d rather have a more educational AR experience, Playground AR provides a whole physics sandbox to play around with.

Of course, these experiences are available on just about any recent iPhone, but the experience is considerably more stable with a LiDAR scanner. Find even more apps to enjoy in Review Geek’s roundup of the best AR apps for iPhone and Android.

RELATED: The Best Augmented Reality Apps for iPhone and Android

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Apple’s Mixed Reality Headset Inches Closer to Release




While rumors of Apple’s AR and VR “mixed reality” headset have been floating around for years, it sounds like things are starting to heat up. Last week, Apple reportedly showed its board of directors the next-gen headset, signaling a release could be near.

According to a report from Bloomberg, not only did members of the board get to see and try the new Apple VR headset, but engineers are working hard to develop rOS (Reality OS,) the operating system for the wearable.

The report mentions that seven members of the board, along with CEO Tim Cook, got up close and personal with the new VR headset. However, we’re not sure if it was a complete working prototype or the condition of the unreleased device.

And while there are no mentions or even suggestions that the release date is inching closer, it makes sense given that board members are getting a glance at it. Furthermore, lending credence to the idea, Bloomberg said there’s some precedence here, as the board often sees new devices ahead of announcements.

Does that mean Apple is gearing up to release (or at least start teasing) its upcoming mixed reality headset? We’re not sure. If so, we could see some sort of small teaser at the upcoming Apple WWDC developer conference.

That said, earlier reports from Bloomberg suggested that Apple had to push back its plans and release schedule due to “challenges related to content and overheating,” not to mention some issues with the camera system.

Either way, it certainly looks like Apple’s VR headset ambitions are not only heating up but that the project is inching closer to a release date. Considering Bloomberg said nearly 2,000 employees are working on it, maybe we’ll see it sooner than later.

via iMore

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