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18 Highlights from WWDC 2018 Keynote

The biggest announcements from Apple’s major developer show

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Today’s two and a half hour long Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote was jam packed with announcements that give us a taste of what using an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, or Mac will be like in the year to come.

Here are all the highlights condensed into 18 bitesized bits.

1. New Animoji can do more

Apple adds four new Animoji characters to iOS 12: ghost, koala, tiger, and T-rex. But the fun doesn’t stop there, all 20 Animoji can now detect winks and tongue movement, so if you stick out your tongue, your Animoji will do so too!

2. Me, me, MeMoji

If that’s not enough, you can also turn yourself into your own Animoji character. They call it MeMoji, and from what we’ve seen, it’s much better than Samsung’s own AR Emoji attempt on the Galaxy S9. You get plenty of customization options to ensure that it creates a close cartoony match.

3. Shortcut me Siri!

Siri may not necessarily be getting smarter, but is definitely getting more useful. With something called Siri shortcuts, you can create your own voice commands for Siri to carry out tasks. For example, you can say, “I’m coming home” and Siri will then proceed to turn on your air conditioning at home, turn on navigation, and launch Audible so you can listen to a book on the commute home.

4. FaceTime Calls, the more the merrier

Ever wished you could group FaceTime? On iOS 12, you’ll be able to do just that, from two people all the way up to 32. When several people are on a call, the interface looks rather quirky, with several floating boxes with faces. When someone speaks, his or her box becomes the biggest one on the screen. Of course, all your friends will need to own an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to join in on the fun.

5. Google Maps on CarPlay

If Apple Maps is not your navigation app of choice, that’s okay. CarPlay now supports third-party apps like Google Maps and Waze.

6. More or less screen time?

Looks like the effort to strike a balance between using our devices and enjoying the real world is an industry shift. After Google talked about Digital Wellbeing features in Android P at Google I/O last month, Apple is doing the same here at WWDC with what it calls ScreenTime.

Activity Reports lets you monitor how much time you spend on apps, and then sets limits if you feel like you’re on Instagram too much, for example. It’ll warn you as you get close to the allowed time, and when your time is up, it locks you out. You have full control and can get back in with a few clicks but the added steps is supposed to help you learn the discipline of stepping away form big attention-sucking black holes.

The feature isn’t just for adults, but also a great way for parents to understand where their children spend the most time. The app lets parents monitor their children’s app usage, and gives them the ability to assigning limits also.

New Do Not Disturb features also help get notifications under control and out of the way.

7. LEGO like never before

Apple’s been working on developments to its augmented reality platform and to showcase this, they are shipping an app called Measure that can measure objects in the real world. There’s also a new LEGO app that lets you play with physical sets and merge them with digital sets and characters. And finally, there’s a game called Swift Shot, the first multiplayer AR game of its kind.

8. Walkie Talkie

Apple Watch gets a whole bunch of updates including a new WalkieTalkie app.

9. Wear it with Pride

As a bonus, Apple is bringing back the Pride watch band with an updated design. This new limited edition strap is available starting today and it matches the Pride watch face that just rolled out to celebrate Pride month.

10. WebKit Integration

Apple Watch gets WebKit integration, meaning you can now read full emails and web pages from your watch.

11. Surround me with sound

Apple TV 4K now supports Dolby Atmos (apart from Dolby Vision) so you get can get surround sound audio in your home with supported sound bars. Existing content will be updated and you get free updates for movies you already own.

12. Breathtaking views from outer space

Jen Folse shows new tvOS 12 aerial screensaver features on Apple TV 4K, including aerials shot from space by NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station. | Apple Newsroom

Apple TV owners have become fond of aerial flyovers over scenic spots. Have you ever wondered where those places were? I have, and now with a short press on your remote, you can find out. There are also new aerials featuring the earth shot from the international Space Station. Stunning!

13. The next version of macOS will be called…

The cat’s out of the bag, and nope it’s not a cat. The next version of macOS will be called Mojave, named after the Mojave Desert in California.

14. A taste of the dark side

To give the new operating system a fresh look, macOS Mojave will come with an optional, high-contrast dark mode that should make it easier to focus on your content.

15. De-clutter your desktop

If you’re like me and have a desktop that’s peppered with icons everywhere, you’ll like a new feature called Stacks, that as its name implies stacks similar apps on top of each other on the home screen. You can sort by file type, date, or tags you assign. Speaking of desktop, there’s a new Mojave Desert wallpaper that changes to match the time of day.

16. No, you can’t Facebook

Privacy is a big issue in today’s world and in a subtle jab at Facebook, Apple says macOS will shut down apps and services that track your activity. Safari will now alert users for their permission whenever Facebook attempts to track a user’s online activity.

17. iOS apps on macOS

Many have asked if Apple was merging iOS and macOS at some point, and the answer is a resounding No. But it is working on helping developers bring iOS apps to the Mac starting with their own apps, News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home.

18. Redesigned App Store

Speaking of apps, there’s a redesigned Mac App Store that’s aimed at making it easier to find new apps. The new desktop App Store will follow the lead of the new iOS App Store, with editorial content that will highlight the best apps the store has to offer, like Microsoft Office 365 which is coming to the App Store real soon.

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Airbnb sets aside $250 million for hosts affected due to cancellations

Protecting the hosts, the real assets

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Airbnb announced it has set aside US$ 250 million to help hosts recoup some of the income they lost as a result of the company’s Coronavirus policy, which lets travelers cancel trips and get a full refund.

The hosts weren’t particularly elevated with the idea of full refunds and sought to social media to show their disappointment and frustration. Many relied on business from Airbnb as their primary source of income and were now suddenly running out of cash flow.

While Airbnb’s decision greatly helped the guests (their users), it put all the financial burden on the hosts. Many have posted videos explaining how the company’s decision has been one-sided and the hosts are the only assets Airbnb has.

The company usually gets a 12 percent cut from the amount guests pay. But when guests cancel, the company refunds those fees to them. Ultimately, about 88 percent of the returned amount to travelers comes out of the hosts’ pockets.

As the world economy faces plunging stock markets and unprecedented unemployment claims, short-term rental hosts are assessing their own sudden loss of revenue. To help them recover and get through these tough times. Airbnb has set aside $250 million and its spokesperson said the company expects that sum will be enough to cover any losses that are made.

There’s no doubt that every industry across the world has taken a hit due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. But, the travel industry is has come to a sudden halt worldwide. With countries blocking off their border for foreigners, travelers or backpackers are non-existent right now. The aviation industry alone is bound to receive a humungous $50 billion bailout package from the U.S. government.

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Zoom, Skype now used for virtual drinking parties

Yep, it’s a thing now

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The ongoing spread of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted to lots of people staying at home. To pass time, some are resorting to binge-watching Netflix episodes or reading free e-books. However, some people are doing something different: virtual drinking parties.

Since most people in the world are using video conferencing apps nowadays, some have thought of a fun way to pass time while on self-quarantine. In some parts of the world, people are using WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, and HouseParty to hold virtual drinking parties. As a matter of fact, some hangout spots are hosting their own virtual beer-drinking sessions.

Some people are even holding virtual drinking sessions for coffee. An ecology and biology professor have resorted to using Microsoft Teams to catch up with her colleagues over a cup of coffee.

To beat the boredom brought about by having to stay indoors, people are holding virtual parties that enable them to connect with one another. Virtual drinking parties just takes it to another level.

SEE ALSO:
Quarantined man asks neighbor on a date through a drone, posts video on TikTok
WhatsApp usage rises significantly due to Coronavirus

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WhatsApp usage rises significantly due to Coronavirus

Everyone’s busy chatting

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As the Coronavirus pandemic wraps the world, WhatsApp has seen a 40 percent increase in usage, according to a study by Kantar, a data and consulting company. WhatsApp is the social media app experiencing the greatest gains in usage as people look to stay connected.

The Facebook-owned instant messaging app is people’s go-to option in many markets, India being the largest. The country is on complete lockdown for 21 days, that’s until April 15. While everyone stays indoors and practices social distancing, the only way to communicate is through the internet. Naturally, WhatsApp has seen the highest surge since it’s used by literally everyone in the country with a smartphone.

WhatsApp usage increased to 27 percent during the early stage of the pandemic. This rose to 41 percent during the mid-phase and then shot to 51 percent in the late phase. Keep in mind, these are global figures, not just a particular market. The report doesn’t provide region-wise numbers but highlights that Spain witnessed an unprecedented rise of 76 percent.

Further, the report mentioned that WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram saw an over 40 percent increase in their usage from users below the age of 35. It’s evident that the younger generation is more tech-savvy and habituated to social media. When there’s no option to venture out, the internet is their comfort zone.

The report also highlighted that these apps were surely the preferred means of communication but not in providing trustworthy news. WhatsApp is infamous for being the top medium to spread misinformation. The Government of India has launched a mass-scale advertising campaign to educate citizens about spreading forwarded messages responsibly.

Workplace-messaging service Slack also disclosed it had added paying 7,000 customers between February 1 and March 17. The same day, Microsoft said its rival Microsoft Team service had gained 12 million active daily users in seven days.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also created a chatbot with whom users can message and gain verified information about Coronavirus and other help related material.

Similarly, video streaming services have also experienced a massive surge in usage. This prompted them to reduce default video streaming quality to ensure too much bandwidth isn’t consumed. Higher bandwidth usage would mean more stress on a telecom carrier’s infrastructure, leading to slower transfer speeds and high latency.

SEE ALSO: How to disinfect your tech from the coronavirus | Coronavirus porn is trending on Pornhub | Here’s how Facebook is trying to fight coronavirus


As general rules, the CDC or The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed these to help with preventing the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stay home when sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Frequently wash hands with soap and water
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces

Coronavirus: Where to donate

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