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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

Google rolls out Dark mode to G Suite apps on Android

A feature meant for Android Q

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Image credit: Google

With Android Q‘s release already on the horizon, Google has started making changes to its core apps to support it. One of its anticipated features is the system-wide Dark Theme. Thankfully, even Google’s first-party apps will have their own Dark mode.

In a blog post, Google announced the rollout of Dark mode for two of its Android apps: Calendar and Keep. Basically, the brightly made Calendar and Keep apps will now be friendlier to use in dim environments with less strain to the eyes.


To activate the Dark mode for Google Calendar, just head over to Settings > General > Theme, and select Dark mode. On Google Keep, simply go to the app’s Settings menu and select Enable Dark Mode.

Dark mode for Calendar is only supported on devices running Android 7 Nougat and higher, while Keep’s Dark mode will work on older phones running Android 5 Lollipop and newer.

Those who have Android Q Beta with Dark Theme activated will have Dark mode for both Calendar and Keep apps turned on by default.

The update will be rolled out to compatible Android devices over the course of 15 days, according to Google.

SEE ALSO: Latest Android Q Beta is now available on Pixel phones and 15 other devices

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Minecraft Earth is like Pokémon Go but with building blocks

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In a move that makes loads of sense, Minecraft is coming to mobile though an augmented reality app similar to Pokémon Go.

It’s called Minecraft Earth and it’s arriving later this year with a beta phase happening during summer. The developers offered this trailer, but it does little to explain how the system would work.


Check it out:

The official website’s FAQ section, however, delves into more of the info we actually care about.

For one, it’ll be free to play and will include several of Minecraft‘s traditional features including world building and discovering/fighting mobs.

Concerning regional availability, the developers aren’t confirming these details just yet. If it’s anything like the issues Niantic experienced with Pokémon Go before, chances are this rollout will be gradual, too.

Finally, for the “Will Minecraft Earth have loot boxes?” question, the website has a definite “No” to answer that.

Minecraft Earth will be available on both Android and iOS. Fingers crossed that there’ll be no delays. 🤞

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The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World through augmented reality

A new way to experience Lady Liberty on your iPhone

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The quintessential American landmark, the Statue of Liberty is a shining beacon that enlightens the world. Despite today’s polarizing times, she has become a true symbol of liberty throughout the years, not just for Americans but for citizens of the world.

Today on the same island where she is perched, the new Statue of Liberty Museum opens its doors to the millions of tourists that come to see her each year. But in recognition that not everyone can visit, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation is also unveiling an AR app for your iPhone. Anyone, anywhere, can experience the statue’s grandeur.


A grand view of Libertas’ torch

On her right, the Statue of Liberty holds up a torch which symbolizes enlightenment and the path to liberty. Though visitors could originally climb up and experience the statue from the torch, it has been closed off to the public since 1916. The Statue of Liberty app will allow us to once again enjoy the breathtaking cityscape from this vantage point from sunrise to sunset.

The makings of the statue

Designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi with the framework by Gustave Eiffel, the Statue of Liberty is an engineering marvel. 125 tons of steel and 31 tons of copper comprise the statue which used to glisten like a penny. The current patina green coating comes from copper oxidizing.

See everything with your own eyes via the Statue of Liberty AR app: how the color changed, how the insides were built, and even a life-sized model for scale.

A look throughout the years

Strategically built at the “gateway to America”, the Statue of Liberty has born witness to a significant chunk of New York’s history. On the app you can look through her eyes in an almost 180-degree field of view and watch the changing of the times from 1886 to the present day. Watch the Manhattan skyline rise and fall including that poignant moment from 2001. It’s all there, 200 years of change and progression from the viewpoint of Lady Liberty.

The hows and the whys

The creation of the Statue of Liberty was no easy feat. A private venture that maximized crowdfunding efforts not just from the elite, the statue is truly an icon that each American can call their own. Exclusive content on the app tells us the story in detail and narrates the journey from inception, to France, and finally to America.

If you can, you should also check out the 3-part short film at the new museum’s Immersive Theater. One will surely walk away with a better appreciation for Lady Liberty and all she stands for.

Raising the Torch, a limited-series podcast narrated by Diane von Furstenberg, is also now available for your listening pleasure. The saga tells the Statue of Liberty’s history, continuing story, and evolving significance.

You can download the app on the App Store here.

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