And — who, really, could possibly forget? — an Apple Watch hand washing feature.
You heard that right: no longer will you have to sing Happy Birthday or other equally irritating songs (though that decision rests with you) to protect yourself from filth and coronavirus. Instead, your fancy Apple wearable will do the dirty work.
Well, okay, it’s not going to actually wash your hands for you, but it is going to automatically give you a countdown while you do the deed.
And yes, you read that right, automatically.
Your Apple Watch will use motion sensing and sound to recognize when you’re washing your hands, meaning you don’t have to turn the feature on.
The company used machine learning to understand the common movements of hand washing. When this is recognized, the Apple Watch will listen out for the telltale signs of running water and the squishy squelches of soap being squeezed between your fingers.
At that point, a 20-second timer starts — something that’ll look like this:
Throughout the Apple Watch hand washing process, you’ll also receive haptic notifications (in other words, little taps on your wrist), as well a sound somewhere between a drip and bubble popping as each second passes.
And if you stop washing your hands before the 20 seconds are up? First off, ew. Secondly, you’ll get a notification to keep on washing.
There are some other cool aspects of the Apple Watch hand washing feature. It’ll sync with Apple’s Health app, meaning you’ll be able to track your hand washing times and frequency. Another interesting feature is that the Apple Watch will remind you to wash your hands when you’ve returned home.
On the privacy front, none of the sounds used to start the Apple Watch hand washing function will be recorded — which should help ease the mind of many.
Yeah, you could argue that the this feature is a little nanny-ing — and you wouldn’t be wrong — but you can always take the damn thing off. And me? Anything that makes washing my hands more fun is fine and dandy.
Bring on watchOS 7.
Xbox App May Come to Smart TVs in the Next 12 Months: Phil Spencer
Xbox app may come to smart TVs in 2021, head of Xbox Phil Spencer shared during an interview with The Verge. Microsoft is working on bringing its game streaming service — xCloud — to mobile phones and it seems like the company already has plans on implementing something similar with smart TVs. While Spencer did not share exact details about the app, Xbox chief last month hinted that the company could be working on TV streaming sticks for its xCloud gaming services.
Phil Spencer spoke with The Verge about the new Xbox consoles and the future of gaming, and shared that an Xbox app or something on those lines will make its way to smart TVs in the next 12 months. “I think you’re going to see that in the next 12 months. I don’t think anything is going to stop us from doing that,” the report quoted Spencer as saying.
Looking back at CRT TVs that project an image on the back of a piece of glass, Spencer mentioned that TVs nowadays are like game consoles stuffed behind a screen with “an app platform and a Bluetooth stack and a streaming capability”.
According to Spencer, watching Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and other streaming services is one of the primary things that users do on their consoles. Talking about changes in technology, the head of Xbox said, “I think you’re absolutely right, there will be winners and losers and things that evolve and get combined together. What I’m saying is the amount of compute capability in my home has increased with the number of streaming signals that have come in, not decreased. I think gaming will be one of those things as well”.
Back in October, Microsoft hinted at TV streaming sticks for its xCloud gaming services. At the time, Spencer stated that there may be low-price hardware in the Xbox ecosystem, referring to devices that can just plug into a TV and run games via xCloud.
Microsoft is working on bringing a stable version of its xCloud game streaming service to mobile devices. As of now, it is available in beta on Android with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and brings over 100 games to a mobile device.
Facebook and Instagram are getting Vanish Mode in chats
Ten days ago WhatsApp got Disappearing Messages and now the other two apps with messaging abilities in the Facebook family are adopting it. Both Messenger and Instagram will get Vanish Mode which will delete messages upon closing the conversation window.
Vanish Mode is activated with a swipe from the bottom of the chat. Once a message is sent, it will stay on the screen until it is turned off or the app is switched. Of course, you can always screenshot the message before it disappears.
The new feature will work both in group chats and personal conversations. While they are instantly disappearing, Facebook revealed conversations can be reported, meaning they will remain in the system for up to 14 days, so they are not instantly deleted.
Such features aren’t entirely new in the Facebook universe – there still is “Secret Conversation” for Messenger but it is rather tedious to set up and use and nobody has the time for that. Instagram also has something of a disappearing feature – currently, photos can be sent and set up to disappear once seen but nothing on messages unless you Unsend them.
Kuo: New iPhone SE unlikely to be announced in the first half of 2021
Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is out with a new investor note today in which he says that Apple is unlikely to release a new version of the iPhone SE until the second half of 2021 at the earliest. This comes as the iPhone SE introduced in April continues to sell well and as Apple focuses on the iPhone 12 lineup.
Today’s investor note from Kuo focuses primarily on the prospects of Apple supplier Genius Electronic Optical. The company is said to be relying on a new iPhone SE during the first half of 2021 to boost its growth, but Kuo says we shouldn’t expect such an announcement.
This would seemingly mean that, if an updated version of the iPhone SE is coming at all in 2021, we shouldn’t expect to see it until the second half of the year. Kuo has previously reported that a 5.5-inch version of the new iPhone SE would come in the second half of 2021 at the earliest as well.
Kuo also says in today’s research that the iPhone 13 is on track to be released during the second half of next year. This comes after a previous report from Kuo suggested that Apple has several improvements in store for the iPhone 13 camera.
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