Apps

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.

Apps

WhatsApp delays roll-out of new privacy policy until May

Signal and Telegram are trending instead

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Photo by Dimitri Karastelev on Unsplash

WhatsApp rolled out a new privacy policy that clearly specifies how the instant messaging app will leverage your data for monetization. But the new privacy policy is on hold.

WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, has announced that it will delay enforcing its new privacy terms from February 8 to May 15. In the blog post, the company says that none of its privacy-focused features are changing.

“We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15,” the statement said.

It faced massive backlash as users are worried about their personal data. When the privacy policy changes went public last week, the response from the public was downright brutal. Alternative apps like Telegram and Signal started trending worldwide as users started joining it in hopes of ditching WhatsApp.

Even though WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, Facebook will still fetch some crucial information like your transactions, location, and other behavioral data from linked Instagram profile. And, we all know Facebook has a nasty reputation as far as personal data management is concerned. What makes it even more outrageous is that the policy is leave or take, and there’s no third option.

In the wording used, WhatsApp says the new privacy policy will change how it partners with Facebook to “offer integrations” and that businesses can use Facebook services to manage WhatsApp chats. It said that hat all private messages between friends and family members will remain end-to-end encrypted.

According to a CNBC report, India’s technology ministry also asked WhatsApp to withdraw planned changes to its privacy policy that has drawn widespread backlash.

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Ultrahuman is an all-in-one fitness app

Workout, meditate and sleep soundly

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Staying physically and mentally fit is extra challenging during a pandemic, but it’s become essential now more than ever. Ultrahuman is a fitness app launched that offers a very convenient platform that targets the three main health points: physical exercise, meditation and sleep. It helps you stay fit from the moment you wake up until you go to bed!

This newest app, which debuted on CES 2021, features different content per category. It includes home workouts and yoga programs from world-class athletes and professional trainers to focus on your physical strength. You can choose from various workouts — from running and yoga to weightlifting and HIIT. The app is designed for all fitness levels.

With the app’s biofeedback technology, you can also track your heart rate and calories burned in real-time.

There’s also content focusing on mindfulness, including guided meditations, bedtime stories, calming meditation music, nature and sleep sounds, breathing exercises, among others. Manage stress and anxiety better by improving your mental health and sleeping patterns with the help of this series.

You can also listen to “brain music”, a section where you can find songs curated by “neuro-musicians” that aids focus, sleep and productivity.

Ultrahuman also partnered with UCLA, Mindsize, and Unified Mindfulness to bring the best of mind science and technology together.

The app is available on iOS and Android, and is already rolled out across 50+ countries globally. It’s been recognized by Apple as one of the top apps they love. Apple Watch users can also integrate their app to track their health progress real-time.

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Prepare your meals through your phone, fridge using Samsung SmartThings

The kitchen, simplified

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With everything going on in the world, it’s no surprise that people are spending more time in the kitchen and looking out for new recipes.

The good news? Samsung has just the thing to get it sorted quickly and easily. They’re bringing in Family Hub features into mobile users through the SmartThings app.

Samsung’s SmartThings Cooking service helps bring all of your Samsung kitchen appliances together. How? It lets you search, plan, purchase, and meal prep seamlessly through your phone or fridge through the SmartThings app.

On top of that, it recommends customized recipes based on your taste and preferences while considering ingredients available to you. You can scroll through recipe collections when you’re undecided or quickly zero-in on meals that suit your cravings.

SmartThings Cooking, powered by Whisk, is accessible through Samsung’s SmartThings. If you’ve got the Family Hub in your smart kitchen arsenal, there’s no need to fret.

The fridge keeps tabs of what you have and don’t, adding missing ingredients directly to your online grocery cart for at-home deliveries. Not to mention, you can shop through Walmart, Kroger, Instacart, and Amazon Fresh, using the Whisk network.

With SmartThings added to the Family Hub smart fridge, you get to enjoy all the cool features and more! You get to access your other smart kitchen gadgets through widgets on the screen, prioritize most used apps, and feature family photos, notes, and recipes.

And, if cooking is what you’re worried about, Samsung has you covered for even that. SmartThings guides you through easy cooking steps and lets you control cooking modes, temperatures, and time settings with one touch. Leaving you with little room for error.

So, with all that in mind, was it really a surprise to see Samsung’s Family Hub win its sixth consecutive CES Innovation Award this year? For us, not quite.

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