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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.

Apps

TikTok officially launches a dislike button

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Months ago, TikTok started experimenting with a dislike button for the platform’s comments. Much like other platforms, the company is creating a way to promote healthier discourse. However, the experiment never had a launch date all those months ago. Finally, after months in development, TikTok is finally ready to launch the dislike button.

Through the platform’s official Twitter account, TikTok is releasing the dislike button. This time, the platform has explained how the feature will work.

As detailed before, users will not see how many dislikes a comment has. Users will only have access to the button itself to dislike and retract dislikes. Only TikTok itself can see the number of dislikes. The platform will then use the information to filer through potential hate speech and harassment that they might have missed the first go-around.

By hiding the number of dislikes, TikTok hopes that users will not be tempted to abuse the dislike button to brigade against just simply unpopular opinions.

While moderation will help the platform with a persistent problem in social media, the company does have other issues. One current problem — that has plagued the platform for years now — is the issue of China’s potential access to data from users in other countries.

SEE ALSO: TikTok is experimenting with a dislike button for comments

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Instagram can soon detect nude photos in your DMs

Currently testing

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One of the constant risks of online communication is the unexpected and unsolicited appearance of an unsightly growth emanating from a stranger’s pants. Unfortunately, not a lot of platforms offer anything preventative, outside of just blocking the offender. Testing a new tool, Instagram is finally implementing a way to automatically detect and block nudity from your DMs.

The upcoming feature was first spotted by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi on Twitter. According to early screenshots, Instagram will hide any suspected nude photos behind a prompt. Users can then choose to access the photo despite the warning. Notably, users can turn this feature off entirely.

Shortly after the leak, Meta confirmed the feature’s development through a statement issued to The Verge. While the feature is still in development, Instagram is still working on ways to protect both the sender’s identity and the recipient’s privacy.

Though the screenshots look conclusive, the feature has yet to reveal how the app can detect genitalia. A portion of the warning says that “technology on your device” is responsible. If the feature is indeed using native technology, Instagram has some work to do to assure users that it can’t store or see anyone’s nude photos.

SEE ALSO: Instagram bans Pornhub

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Spotify adds over 300,000 audiobooks to library

Available for purchase and offline listening

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After a massive push into the world of podcasts, it’s only natural that Spotify would soon look at audiobooks with a hungry eye. In the United States, the streaming platform has added a huge helping of audiobooks available for purchase.

It’s been a long time coming, too. Last year, the platform added a variety of books from the public domain for free. Narrated by famous actors like Forest Whitaker and Hilary Swank, the content came to every user, free or paying.

Now, Spotify is adding over 300,000 titles to its library. Starting today, users in the United States will have access to a dedicated section for the format. Interested users will then be led to an external link where they can purchase the book for themselves.

For consumption, Spotify will enable users to save their audiobook for offline listening. It will also allow users to control the speed of the book’s playback.

Prior to the addition, Spotify already had a niche community for audiobook lovers. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find readings of popular titles outside of the platform’s public domain offerings. You might find them lurking as albums or as podcasts. Now, however, it’s official. If you want an actual audiobook to listen to, you can choose to skip over a subscription to other audiobook platforms like Audible.

Besides audiobooks, the platform has also expanded into other services related to audio entertainment. One recent example sees Spotify selling tickets to live events directly from the service.

SEE ALSO: Spotify is now adding free audiobooks

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