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Apple focuses on speed and functionality rather than big features on iOS 12

That doesn’t mean there are no fun new features to play with, though

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We were already expecting Apple to unveil the latest version of their mobile operating system simply called iOS 12 at WWDC 2018. The rumors surrounding its new features were pretty quiet, so we didn’t really know what to look forward to.

As it turned out, Apple didn’t focus on making big changes to iOS, but instead made sure that it’ll work smoothly even on older iPhones and iPads. Although, that doesn’t mean there are no new features to be excited about.

iOS 12 may not have the grand change iOS 7 had years ago, but the new update does include some significant additions and improvements like Screen Time, Memoji, Group FaceTime, and grouped notifications.

Screen Time

This is similar to what Google introduced in Android P. Apple wants their uses to have a healthier balance with gadgets and life, so the Screen Time feature in iOS 12 will make sure you’ll get that. It details how much time you’re spending on your device and apps. It can break down app usage by category and also track which one is constantly bugging you with notifications.

You’ll be able to set limits for each app if they become too addictive. A “time’s up” message will display if your allotted time is over, but you can always ask for more if you still want to continue. Parental controls are also integrated in the app, giving parents great control over how often kids stare at their device’s screen.

Memoji and new Animoji

Memoji is probably the most popular of the announcements today. If Animoji lets us become our favorite emoji, Memoji will let you create a personalized character that you can animate. It’s pretty much like Samsung’s AR Emoji, but improved in a lot of aspects. Memoji let’s you have your own appearance, choose skin color, hairstyle, and accessories.

Animoji is not forgotten with a new roster of characters including a ghost, koala, tiger, and a tyrannosaurus rex (or simply T-Rex). Not only that, Animoji now has the ability to detect your tongue. If you stick it out, Animoji will be able to mimic that.

Group FaceTime

Apple’s built-in video chat app will soon be able to let friends have a video conference with up to 32 people. Like other popular video conferencing apps, group FaceTime sessions will have dynamic video windows that get larger when the user in that window is speaking. You might say it’s a boring update, but hold your horses.

If you don’t feel like showing your face in the call or wanna stir up some fun, you’ll be able to use Animoji and your Memoji character during calls. I can already imagine having a lively video conference even during work meetings.

Grouped notifications

At last! Grouped notifications is a long overdue fix to iOS’ messy notifications. In iOS 12, you’ll now be able to interact with or dismiss multiple notifications from the same app at once — just like how Android has been doing it for years. Aside from this, there are also new tweaks like individual setup of “Quiet” app notifications that will show up on your lock screen or not make a sound at all.

Better AR and a new Measure app

In iOS 12, augmented reality is still a focus feature. A more powerful AR experience is coming our way on Apple’s mobile devices along with a new Measure app. As the name suggests, the app is for measuring objects or distances around you. It’s practically an AR ruler similar to other third-party apps, but now made by Apple.

All about performance

As mentioned earlier, Apple is working to make iOS feel smoother and faster especially on older devices. Based on their test on a four-year-old iPhone 6, these are what they found about iOS 12’s performance: Apps launch 40 percent faster, the system keyboard shows up 50 percent faster, and the camera launches 70 percent faster.

“For iOS 12, we are doubling down on performance.” — Craig Federighi, Senior VP of Software Engineering for Apple

Apple focuses on what’s in the core to make sure the new update will not slow down older devices. This is probably to address the battery issues and intentional slow down fiasco. iOS 12 will be available for download later this year, but you can join the beta program to get ahead of everyone else. All devices running iOS 11 are eligible to get iOS 12 — nice!

Apps

TechDen helps create better and healthier screen habits

Time to pull ourselves away from those addictive screens

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I think it’s pretty safe to say that a lot of us spend a majority of our time staring at a screen. This is all fine and dandy, technology is awesome, but we also have to admit that our devices have changed how we interact IRL. The founders of TechDen has thought of a way to pull us away from our screens and back into the real world.

TechDen merges software and hardware to create a system that can help build healthier screen habits. The Den lets you charge and store up to two devices, and manage multiple ones. The accompanying app lets you create “sessions” of specific time periods with their own duration based on people’s schedules, as well as schedules to remotely lock and unlock the doors of The Den.

You receive notifications when devices are removed as well as time usage, and in the family setting, this system creates opportunities for collaboration — you can talk to your kids about the session schedules, and even utilize these sessions as incentives.

TechDen is marketed towards families to encourage more real-world interaction with an “out of sight, out of mind” point of view. Really though, this tech would be very helpful for anyone who wants to build a healthy relationship with their devices for themselves.

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Spotlight: What’s new with Free on Spotify?

All these new features!

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Time to rejoice, music lovers! Last April, Spotify quietly announced the new and improved Free on Spotify, and today, we got up close and personal with all the new things the app can now do.

The streaming company’s Free on Spotify redesign will make for a better listening experience for all free users. How, you may ask? Well, it all boils down to five new key features.

Pick your favorites

Spotify’s taste onboarding allows you to pick five (or more) of your favorite artists and this will set the stage for your Spotify experience — a home screen and music discovery experience tailored to your choices will await.

Pick and play… list

15 playlists will automatically be curated based on your music preferences for your listening pleasure. These playlists are different for each individual person, and they update depending on your interactions. Talk about personalized listening!

When you decide to make your own playlists, you’ll also get suggestions based on your artist choice and even playlist title.

What you want, when you want

Previously only available to Premium users, Free users now have unlimited skips — yes, you heard right! The caveat: The feature is only available for those 15 curated playlists, which isn’t half bad as those are catered to your personal taste.

All ❤️s

Actions on specific songs will help you create a better experience on the Spotify app. Hitting ❤️ on a song means it will go to Your Favorites, a playlist that’s found on your home screen.

You can also “unlike” songs which removes said offending song from future playlists. Don’t worry though, this is reversible — simply searching for the song and tapping ❤️ will undo the action.

Optimize your data

For the data-conscious, there’s now a data saving mode! This isn’t turned on by default but all you need to do is head to settings and activate it.

Happy listening!

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SafeDate gives you ease of mind going into a date

This app lets your friends keep tabs on you

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In 2005, Emma Sayle started Killing Kittens, best known for its extravagant sex parties. It aims to enable women to explore their sexuality in an open and safe space. Since it started, KK has had an incredibly strict code of conduct for their parties to ensure that women feel “empowered, safe, and confident.” Members are vetted before being admitted and there is a rule wherein only the women can approach men.

Last July, she launched the SafeDate app which puts a modern twist to what girls have been doing for years. This app lets you input information for your dates, including a profile for the person you’re going out with. You then designate a “safe friend” to whom you will have to check in with at a time which you set. If you don’t check in by the time you set, your friend will be notified and given the details of your date, and it would be up to them to decide what to do next.

Sayle told Wired that we can’t stop bad things from happening, nor can we tell people what to do. But if someone seeing the SafeDate logo makes them think twice, and women feel safer knowing that someone they trust is keeping an eye out for them, it’s a step in the right direction. We definitely couldn’t agree more!

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