Apps

Apple acquires the popular weather app, Dark Sky

Will iOS users see improvement in the Weather app?

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Aside from pushing its hardware front and center, Apple is also busy expanding its ecosystem. Over the years, Apple has acquired smaller companies to improve its software offerings. Today, the company acquires Dark Sky, a popular weather app with millions of users.

In a blog post by Dark Sky, the company announced its acquisition by Apple. There will be no changes to the iOS app after Apple takes over. However, Android users are not so lucky, since the app won’t be available to download on Play Store starting today. The app won’t function beyond July 21, and premium users will receive a refund for any existing subscriptions.

Meanwhile, Dark Sky’s website will close by July 21. App developers are also affected by the acquisition as APIs will only work until 2021.

Apple’s acquisition of Dark Sky will further expand its growing portfolio of services. It is also a sign that the company is doing something new to its aging Weather app. Perhaps, Apple might introduce new powerful features in the app and give it a fresh coat of paint. A subscription plan for weather forecasts may also be in the cards, considering the company’s push for subscription-based services.

SEE ALSO: Apple is no longer a trillion-dollar company

Apps

Google adds Safe Folder to Files app

For more privacy and security

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Have you ever had to lend your phone to a friend or family member for a quick minute, only to realize that — intentionally or not — they have started browsing on your phone. Smartphones are personal devices, and thus, might contain files that you don’t exactly want other people seeing. This is the situation that Google is trying to address with the Safe Folder.

Safe Folder is a secure 4-digit PIN-encrypted folder. It helps users store important documents, images, videos and audio files securely. This helps in keeping their personal files safe from being accessed by someone else.

The folder won’t allow users to take screenshots or screen recordings of its contents. It’s also locked as soon as users switch away from the app.  This means no content is accessible in the background and the PIN is required upon re-entry to the Files app.

Google didn’t just come up with this out of the blue. They conducted research and found that in certain countries — especially those with limited smartphone access — device sharing is a common occurrence.

Asked if this is a feature that can be extended to apps installed on the phone too, the Google representatives discussing the Safe Folder feature said they understand the need but can’t speak to any implementation or development of such.

That said, this is still a welcome addition for anyone who has ever encountered this scenario.

SEE ALSO: Nearby Share which is ‘Google’s AirDrop’ now rolling out

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Nearby Share which is ‘Google’s AirDrop’ now rolling out

Now supporting Pixel and Samsung phones

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After a long time in development, Google’s Nearby Share feature is now available on some Pixel and Samsung phones. The file-sharing feature enables direct transfer of files locally, improving speed as well as ease-of-use.

Apple’s iOS and macOS have a feature called AirDrop for a very long time now. Using local WiFi protocol, any large file can be swiftly transferred within the ecosystem. Android users have long been asking for a similar feature and it’s now available on a few phones.

If you want to share a file, just tap share, and wait for the nearby device to show-up. Select the device and the file will be off within a few seconds. This eliminates the need to upload the file on a cloud and later download it on another device. Bluetooth connection is radically slower than WiFi protocol and hence cannot be used for larger files.

The concept is on the same lines as third-party apps like Xender or Me Share. But, with a direct app from Google, Nearby Share can become a deeply rooted part of the operating system, much like the Play Store.

The receiving device will always have the option to “accept” or “decline” the file, so files are never transferred without explicit confirmation. However, the best part about Nearby Share is its cross-platform compatibility. It’ll work with Chromebooks, Windows, and Chrome browser. iOS support isn’t mentioned yet.

Nearby Share leverages Bluetooth and location, along with WebRTC, or peer-to-peer WiFi sharing. Lastly, the feature is backed by Google Play Services, so Huawei phones will again miss out on a simple app.

Although, Chinese tech giants like OPPO, vivo, Xiaomi, realme, and more have created a consortium that shall support a similar file sharing app seamlessly across all their devices. Google is quite late to the game and these Android phone makers were kind of tired of waiting.

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Firefox for Android about to become faster, sleeker

Expect big changes in version 70

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One of the main Android browsers out there is Mozilla Firefox. For a long time though, Firefox for Android remains largely unchanged. Also, some people complained about performance issues compared to other browsers. That is set to change, however, as a new version of the browser land on these coming months.

This new version is actually in development by Mozilla for a long time now. Internally referred to as “Fenix”, the upcoming Firefox version is actually rebuilt from the ground up. As such, the Firefox browser that most people are using now is actually a legacy browser. Mozilla stopped the development of this legacy browser until versions 68-69 but continued issuing minor updates along the way.

Version 70 marks the new browser that will slowly roll out in the coming months. This new version is focused on speed and simplicity. One of the biggest changes is the location of the navigation bar. Users will now find it on the bottom along with the menu button, making navigation much easier with one hand. Plus, Firefox is introducing a new “Collections” feature which is basically a list of your favorite sites.

Also new is support for dark mode, and enhanced tracking protection. The latter is a feature that Mozilla has been pushing to its users across its desktop and mobile users.

Firefox is also getting a much-needed performance and speed boost with the latest version. Mozilla reworked the Gecko engine that powers this browser. Developers put an optimized version of the Gecko engine — GeckoView — inside. Aside from a revamped UI and faster browser engine, Firefox promises support for add-ons. For now, however, users can only install a limited number of add-ons.

Coming sooner than later

Mozilla has already begun the process of updating existing Firefox users to the new browser last February. For users to receive the update, they have to be on Firefox 59 or higher. Plus, they should be running Android 5 Lollipop or higher. They must also have automatic updates enabled.

Eligible users don’t have to do anything to upgrade to the latest Firefox. Mozilla will handle the update process for them. Most browser data from the legacy browser will also be migrated to the new one. These browsing data include history, bookmarks, cookies, default search engine, add-ons, and more.

Meanwhile, ineligible users won’t receive the new browser. Mozilla is devoting its development resources to the new browser, so there won’t be any more updates to the legacy browser after 2020. Users who upgraded to the new browser can’t downgrade too.

Indeed, the beloved Firefox browser had come a long way. Recent developments to the browser mean that Firefox users can expect more on months and years to come.

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