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Here’s everything new on iOS 14

Widgets, Siri Translate, better iMessage

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Apple kicked-off WWDC 2020 by introducing a slew of new features on iOS 14. The running joke while these were being announced is that, if you’re also familiar with Android, none of these will seem new.

For the most part, it’s true. But if you’re an iPhone/Apple lifer, here’s what you can look forward to.

App Library and Widgets

Apple notes how people just kind of forget the rest of the apps you have on your iPhone when they’re beyond your second screen. They’re addressing this by introducing the App Library.

It acts like a drawer for your apps that instantly organizes them in folders. The library will also have a search bar at the top so you can quickly look for and pull up the app you need.

Compact calls, Picture in picture

When you get a call, what typically happens is the call notification just takes over your entire phone. Apple will do away with that on the iOS 14.

Any native Apple app call (plus some third party apps at launch) will now instead appear as a hovering notification at the top of your screen. This way, it’s less in your face and won’t interrupt whatever you were doing on your iPhone. The same treatment is done when using Siri.

You also now get Picture in picture or PiP. This means you can keep a video playing while browsing other apps. You can resize the floating screen of the video and move it wherever you want on the screen.

App Clips

App Clips is like running a specific feature of an app when you need it. The idea is that the iPhone will automatically identify the app and detect the feature you need. This means you won’t need to have the app downloaded just to use one of its specific functions.

Improved iMessage

iMessage is getting a bunch of new features. You’ll be able to pin conversations to the top of your messages list. Managin group chats is made better with in-line replies.

Memoji is also getting a bunch of new customization options including a mask. A great way to remind people that we need to wear them if and when we step out of our homes.

Cycling route, Guides in Maps

Apple Maps continues to add more helpful features. People who ride bicycles will find this update particularly useful. Cycling directions will now be available on Maps. It takes into account elevation, how busy a street is, and whether there are stairs along the route.

Guides, meanwhile, is exactly what you think it is. It gives you recommendations on places to go, restaurants to eat at, and help you locate popular attractions at the place you’re exploring. Truly helpful!

Privacy, Siri Translate

You now have a more robust privacy control on iOS 14. All apps will now be required to obtain user permission before tracking. You’ll also know what kind of tracking each app is doing. For instance, if an app has access to your phone’s mic and camera, this information will be displayed right away.

It’s a huge step towards better privacy and security which has been a hot topic in recent years.

Siri Translate is supposed to be your easy access to translating conversations. At launch, it will support 11 languages.

Other features include more granular controls on the Home app, Spatial Audio on the Air Pods Pro, Digital car keys and plenty of improvements to Safari, Health, and Weather apps.

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US wants to secure itself from Chinese companies, apps via a Clean Network

An American internet firewall?

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ByteDance-owned TikTok is the hottest topic in the news right now due to its Chinese roots. The US wants to distance itself from these Chinese companies and apps to ensure there are no data backdoors or infiltrations. It intends to do so with a new concept dubbed Clean Network.

The US wants to establish a clear line that ensures data of American citizens doesn’t land in Chinese hands. President Trump has already threatened to ban TikTok and ByteDance is scrambling to find a taker for its US, New Zealand, Canada, and Australian services.

“With parent companies based in China, apps like TikTok, WeChat, and others are significant threats to personal data of American citizens, not to mention tools for the Chinese Communist Party content censorship,” Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said. He added that apps from China threaten privacy and spread malware, propaganda, and disinformation.

The Clean Network will ensure there are no Chinese components or devices in the telecom network. Similarly, the US will try to prevent China from accessing raw data from submarine cables that power the internet. For cloud setups, it’ll ensure that data of American citizens are saved on local infrastructure, avoiding Chinese players like Alibaba Cloud.

Telecom giant Huawei has been under the scanner since last year and the recent developments are definitely not in its favor. The Chinese phone maker is barred from using Google Mobile Services on Android, derailing its dominance on the global stage. With the ongoing hostility, other countries like India have also taken a hard stance against Chinese companies.

The US is also lobbying its strategic allies to ditch Chinese equipment citing security and privacy concerns. Practically, Huawei is the most hit in terms of revenue lost, followed by other companies like ZTE. While ByteDance can save some of its investment in TikTok thanks to a possible takeover by Microsoft, Huawei has no such cushion available.

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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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