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Apple’s Home app takes a step back in iOS 13

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Apple is upgrading HomeKit this fall with new features like Secure Video and expanded automation, but it’s not all good news for Apple’s smart home framework. The Home app where users manage the smart home experience makes one design choice that is likely meant to make it more approachable. In practice, the change degrades the experience for a whole category of HomeKit products.

Difficulty managing the Home app at a glance when more than a few accessories are added has been a common complaint about the app’s design from the start. In iOS 13, Apple appears to be addressing this feedback with a change to how individual products with multiple accessories are presented.

In iOS 12, each accessory is presented as its own tile even if it’s part of a single product. This can result in a single HomeKit product populating the Home app with a half dozen tiles.

Apple’s Home app treats products with multiple accessories different in iOS 13. One product is one tile even if it includes two or more accessories. Fewer tiles means more usable at a glance, right?

Not so fast. Here’s where it becomes a step back for products like this. The awesome Eve Degree sensor is a single HomeKit product that measures both temperature and humidity. Summer can be brutal on the Mississippi Gulf Coast where I live, so I really like knowing exactly how hot and how humid it is at my front door.

That information is glanceable in iOS 12 where each measurement is presented as its own sensor accessory:

This is how iOS 13 presents the same accessory:

You can still expand the tile to show more information — in this case any information — but the tile for this accessory includes no updatable information.

Here’s another example using the indoor Eve Room product. This is iOS 12:

And this is the new approach starting with iOS 13:

Again, any useful information has been grouped into a single tile with no sensor data. Glanceable data is gone, requiring an interaction to actually see what those sensors are presenting:

While the change is disappointing for sensors, it’s downright confusing for other types of HomeKit products that include more than one accessory.

For example, the useful VOCOlinc Flowerbud diffuser and mood lamp is a single product with two very different HomeKit accessories. iOS 12 lets you easily view the status and control each accessory with individual tiles:

Here’s that same product squeezed into a single tile in iOS 13:

I realize the examples are becoming exhausting, but that just illustrates the disappointing experience in iOS 13’s Home app. This change even affects HomeKit power strips like VOCOlinc PM2E which can include plugs, lights, and fans as assigned by the user in the Home app.

iOS 12:

And iOS 13:

The worst example is saved for last: HomeKit camera sensors. The Arlo Baby Cam is primarily used as a video camera with sound input and output. A firmware update to the camera later added support for five additional accessories using the product’s built-in sensors.

Five more sensors is an awesome improvement to an already great HomeKit product — at least in iOS 12:

If you want to read the same sensor data in iOS 13, simply tap on the camera tile, view the live video feed, find the button for other accessories in that room, then bam, you’ve managed to do something that was zero steps in iOS 12.

Glanceable information isn’t the only benefit lost. Discoverability is a casualty too.

This design choice isn’t just a glitchy software bug found in a beta version of Apple’s software. It’s an intentional design change that required developing for this update. It hasn’t improved as the rest of the operating system has started to stabilize; it’s only grown worse.

Why did Apple make this change? The idea is logical. One product should have one tile that can be expanded to show every included accessory. It reduces the tile count and clears up which accessories belong to which products in your home.

The current answer being tested in each iOS 13 beta so far doesn’t appear to be the correct solution however. Glanceable information is removed and very different types of accessories are squeezed together.

Apple’s Home app already has a solution to the too-many-tiles problem. Users have control over which tiles appear on the Favorites section of the Home app. You can show as many or as few as you choose.

Accessories are only unpacked when you view a specific room, and even then you only see which accessories are located in that room. iOS 13 even improves this by moving bridges that offer no data or control to a different part of the Home app.

The Home app also has a mechanism for grouping accessories — if you choose — which is useful for turning multiple bulbs into a single lamp. iOS 13 could learn from that approach with a toggle to unpack accessories grouped under a single tile. The default can be bad as long as there’s a logical way out.

Source: https://9to5mac.com/2019/08/20/homekit-ios-13/

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Gmail’s dark mode is rolling out to Android phones. Turn it on now

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With Android 10Google lets you apply a systemwide dark theme across its new mobile Android OS, and you can easily turn it on in individual Google apps on your phone as well, from Calculator and Calendar to YouTube. But Google doesn’t let you apply it everywhere, and a few popular apps — including Chrome — lack a dark-mode setting. Gmail has been one of them, but it’s no longer a holdout, as Google has started to roll out a dark-mode setting for Gmail on Android 10. Google is pushing the update out slowly, so it’s not available to everyone yet.

Dark mode is increasingly in demand. Before Android took it on, the popularity of dark modes for apps was already growing, for Facebook Messenger and the Slack and Reddit apps, for example. And Apple’s also following the dark mode trend, as iPhones and iPads ($249 at Walmart) will also get a dark theme with the release of iOS 13 this month.

The new version of Apple’s mobile operating system will apply the theme broadly, from wallpaper, widgets and notifications to Calendar and Messages.

With dark mode, you can conserve a bit of battery life and your phone’s screen will be easier on your eyes at night. Google first added dark mode to an Android Pie update earlier this year, but the theme didn’t show up everywhere. In Android 10, dark mode is much more widespread, and apps that use the default system theme will automatically adopt the new dark mode when you turn it on, inverting dark and light colors. 

Not all of Google’s apps use the system default theme automatically. Along with Gmail, you’ll need to turn on dark mode in Calendar, for example, and YouTube. Here’s how to turn it on in Gmail on Android 10.

Turn on the Gmail dark mode setting in Android 10

gmaildarkmode
In Android 10, you can now apply a dark theme to Gmail.Google. Screenshot Clifford Colby/CNET

While many of Google’s Android apps will adopt a dark theme when you turn it on in overall settings, you need to flip it on separately in Gmail.

1. In the Gmail app on your phone, tap the hamburger menu in the top left.

2. Scroll to the bottom of the list, and tap Settings.

3. Tap General Settings.

4. At the top of the list, tap Theme.

5. Tap Dark or, if you’ve already set the dark theme as your system default, tap System. default.

Set dark theme as the system default in Android 10

For those apps that automatically adopt the default system, here’s how to turn on the dark theme.

1. In Settings, tap Display.

2. Near the bottom of the list of settings, toggle on Dark theme.

You can do more with Gmail than just change how it looks, of course. You can keep spammers from tracking you, for example, and unsend messages to avoid regret.

Source: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/gmails-dark-mode-is-rolling-out-to-android-phones-turn-it-on-now/

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Instagram’s Reportedly Working on a New Tool Which Replicates TikTok’s Key Features

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There’s one thing that you can be absolutely certain of with every new social media trend these days – replication.

Any time you see a new tool, a new app, a new trending function, you can bet that other platforms will seek to copy it, in an effort to maximize their own potential, for one, but also, to limit the impact of the competition. If you can get all the latest features and tools in the app/s you already know and love, there’s no need to download and check out any others, right?

Evidently that theory works, at least to some degree, as this week, reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong has found that Instagram is once again replicating a competitors’ features, this time with TikTok in the firing line.

Instagram 'Clips' example

As explained by Wong, Instagram is working on a new, TikTok like tool called ‘Clips’:

“Just like TikTok, “Clips” allows users to record segments of videos into a single video Story. Just like TikTok, users can overlay music on clips. Just like TikTok, users can adjust the speed and timer of each video clips.”

So, just as it’s done with Snapchat’s Stories, AR masks, YouTubeHousepartySquad and a range of other apps and functions, Facebook, through Instagram, is looking to add in yet another similar function in order to fend off competition, and keep its 2.7 billion active users (across its “family of apps”) from straying to these shiny new offerings.

The strategy does make a lot of sense. TikTok has been steadily rising over the last year, and now claims to have more than 500 million active users, though that figure hasn’t been officially updated for some time. There have also been some questions over the app’s capacity to retain its users, with “a significant majority” of new users said to be abandoning the app within 30 days of downloading, and reverting back to the platforms on which they already have established friend networks.        

That’s where Facebook, in this case through Instagram, wins out. While new apps are able to gather attention, Instagram has over a billion users, and is available in regions where many other apps have yet to launch. By releasing copycat features, Facebook can stifle new app growth, often beating them to market in these new areas, despite its version being a copy, and maximizing their use on the platforms which users are already familiar.

Stopping users from even downloading these new apps is a key first step, so if Facebook can copy the same tools and keep users engaged, and in-app, they’ve already won a significant part of the battle.

As such, it’s no surprise to see Instagram looking to copy TikTok, or any new app and tool. It may seem a little cheap, a little tacky even to be so blatantly copying your competition. But it clearly works. Snapchat’s growth has stagnated since Instagram stole Stories, while Houseparty was sold to Epic. You may not like how Facebook goes about squeezing out smaller challengers. But it works.

But will it work for TikTok?

As noted, there are already questions about TikTok’s long term viability, and the company has been secretive about its ongoing engagement stats. That would likely suggest that there is some truth to the aforementioned issues with user retention – and if people can create TikTok style clips within Instagram instead…

Replication seems like a questionable tactic, but Facebook’s dominance continues to expand.  There’s no word, at this stage, on an official rollout of this new Instagram option. 

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WhatsApp: Hackers on the prowl, protect yourself

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Users are being urged to update their WhatsApp smartphone apps immediately because of a security bug that allows hackers to take over your phone by simply calling it, whether or not you answer.
These hackers could get hold of all your personal information.
They act on your integrity and sometimes send out pornographic posts and inciteful posts, as if you sent them!
They will change your phone number to theirs and replace you in whatever chat group you belong to.
For instance, Mr. Lucas Ajanaku, whose phone was hacked yesterday narrates his ordeal, “I received a call from a number about 6.50pm in the thick of production. The caller introduced himself as one naval captain. The person that came to my mind was one Capt. Olayiwola of NIMASA. We belong to the same WhatsApp group with Dele Adesina, Femi Falana (SAN) and many others from my town in Ekiti.
“He started by saying he noticed I don’t usually contribute on ‘our platform’ and I told him he was right because I am a very busy person. I told him my wife was also on the platform and draws my attention to important developments there.
“Then he broke the ice: there’s a group programme that’s coming up by 10pm, he would want me to be part of it. I asked, what programme, and he said it’s going to be beneficial for me because experts will share their success tips and offer advice on the need to have multiple income streams. I told him I don’t have the time as I would be tied to production but he said I could hook up any time I was free. My phone beeped and he told me he had sent a code for me to be part of the programme. I checked the code and he demanded to know the four-digit stuff, which I read out to him.
“He already knew my name since that preceded the conversation. A few minutes afterwards, a message came from WhatsApp that I had exited the app. I was asked to verify. Instead of verifying, I restarted my phone in the hope that it would cancel out the tech reaction. But the verification request popped up again. I drew the attention of my guy in the ICT department to it. He encouraged me to do the verification.
“At speed of lightning, these scam messages started rolling in like a dammed river losing its fetters. Before I could say Jack, people that knew me and what I stood for started calling, wondering why such messages should emanate from me.”
In order to prevent such things from happening to you, do the following immediately:
•Go to the bottom right hand side of your WhatsApp main page
•Select Settings
•Click on Account
•Click on Two-step verification
•Enter PIN (Choose a six-digit PIN you will remember)
•Confirm your PIN
•Input your email address
(Use a valid email address)
•Confirm your email
•Save your selections
With the above precaution, if someone wants to change your settings, WhatsApp will ask them for the two-step verification and without it the account won’t open.

Source: https://www.sunnewsonline.com/whatsapp-hackers-on-the-prowl-protect-yourself/

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