Apple adds wizard, dinosaur and mermaid emoji in iOS 11.1

Hundreds more emoji are coming to your iPhone soon. Apple says it’s adding “more emotive smiley faces” as well as gender-neutral icons, more food and (importantly) mythical creatures — in time for Halloween, we hope. The series is coming to iPhone and iPad with iOS 11.1, which will launch next week, early, for developers and public beta testers. If the emoji additions sound familiar, that’s because Apple had teased these back in July. It appears the company is going beyond the 56 Unicode consortium-approved emoji, but that’s likely explained by skin color and hair variants — we haven’t glimpsed the entire set yet. But now that there’s a gyoza emoji, all is well.

Of course, for those waiting around for those animated emoji, you’ve still got some time on your hands: the iPhone X isn’t out until November.

Source: Apple

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Apple adds a mail-in option to its iPhone Upgrade Program

Apple is adding a mail-in option to its iPhone Upgrade Program, making it easier to ditch your suddenly-outdated iPhone 7 Plus after tomorrow’s 10th-anniversary iPhone showcase. First spotted by techdude13 on the MacRumors forums, the page for Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program now lists mail-in trade-in kits as an option. If you decide to have a new iPhone shipped directly to your door, Apple will also send along a package with a pre-paid shipping label so you can return that old hunk of junk.

That’s right, this eliminates the need to actually visit an Apple Store to upgrade your iPhone.

The new program should be a relief for plenty of Upgrade Program customers. Previously, anyone looking to get the latest model had to schedule an appointment at an Apple Store — where stock had a habit of quickly running out.

Apple unveiled the iPhone Upgrade Program in 2015, allowing customers to purchase the latest iPhone every year directly from the mothership, without going through their individual carriers.

The iPhone turns 10 in 2017, and this week we took a trip down memory lane to dissect the specs of each model. Tomorrow, Apple is expected to reveal the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X.

Follow all the latest news from Apple’s iPhone event here!

Source: Apple

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Facebook adds a link to Trending News in the app’s main menu

The redesigned Trending Topics section of Facebook is now called Trending News and the updates to this feature — which were announced in May — are now available to most US users on both iOS and Android devices. For iPhone users, Trending News also has its own direct link in the Facebook app’s main navigation menu — a feature that’s in testing for Android, according to TechCrunch.

In May, Facebook announced an overhaul of its Trending Topics feature, which it was beginning to roll out to iPhone users. With that update, clicking a topic would bring you to a carousel of publications that had written about that particular subject rather that just one news source. In a statement, Facebook said, “By making it easier to see what other news outlets are saying about each topic, we hope that people will feel more informed about the news in their region.” And the update was meant to get around the news “filter bubble” effect wherein feeds are sometimes limited in scope due to having Facebook friends that all have similar interests.

Along with the news source carousel, Trending News also features actual headlines rather than just a topic — which was hinted at in the May announcement, but not described in detail. With the headlines come a photo, the name of the outlet that published the headline and how many other sources have written on the subject. Each story is also ranked. For example, while writing this, the 17th headline in my Trending News section was this article of ours and the tab noted that 26 other sources had written on the topic.

The revamped Trending section is now available for most US Facebook users on mobile and the direct navigational tab should be coming to Android users sometime soon.

Source: TechCrunch

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Popular iOS notes app Bear adds sketching (and stickers)

Bear, a fast, lightweight and lovely note-taking app for iOS and the Mac, has been building a following over the past year or so. The app’s excellent design, small but essential feature set and steady stream of updates have made it worth its subscription cost ($ 14.99 per year or $ 1.49 per month, though you can get most of its features for free). Today, a pretty major update is rolling out to the iOS app: Bear now supports sketching. In keeping with Bear’s focus on essentials, the sketching feature includes two different brushes, each with three different widths and a variety of colors.

You can use your finger or a stylus, including the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro, and drawings sync across your iPhone, iPad and Mac provided you’re a subscriber. But you can only create and edit drawings on the iPhone or iPad; on the Mac you can just view your scribbles. Those images live as attachments to text notes just like any other picture you bring into Bear.

Another iOS-only feature is stickers for iMessage, because why not? As you might expect, they encompass a cute bear doing a variety of cute things. The last little update pertains to the app’s visual themes — now, when you change the app’s theme, it’ll also change the home screen icon on your phone or the dock icon on your Mac. But the main attraction is obviously sketching. While I don’t want Bear’s developers to add too many features and make the app into a bloated monster, pretty much every notes app out there (including Apple’s Notes app) supports drawing to some extent. Having it in Bear just makes good sense.

Source: Bear Writer

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Twitter adds all 69 new emoji to its arsenal

Twitter has stepped up its emoji game in a big way. The social network is one of the first platforms to make all 69 Emoji 5.0 icons available to its users, and they include a few new flags, a woman with headscarf, persons with gray hair, the starstruck and the mind blown smiley. Before you fire up your Twitter app to check them, though, take note that there’s a chance you might end up disappointed. The new icons aren’t available on Tweetdeck, the iOS, Mac and the Android Nougat apps just yet, since they still haven’t implemented the Emoji 5.0 standard.

Twitter designer Bryan Haggerty says Apple will likely add support for the new emojis on iOS 11, while Tweetdeck will add them “soon.” For now, you’ll see empty blocks when you try to view the 5.0 icons on those platforms. If you want to use them yourself, though, all you have to do is open Twitter on a browser to emoji-bomb your followers.

Via: 9to5mac

Source: Bryan Haggerty

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Google adds voice typing, Doodles and more emoji to Gboard on iOS

Google’s powerful Gboard app might now be on Android, but it’s the iPhone version that is receiving most of the updates. As part of its most recent overhaul, the search giant has extended support to 15 new countries*, and also added a number of new features that make it easier to say what you have to say.

As of now, users have access to all of the latest emoji in iOS 10. If you don’t remember, one of the most useful Gboard features is the ability to search and find the perfect emoji, allowing you to decorate texts and emails without scrolling through endless lists of icons.

By incorporating search into its keyboard, you don’t need to visit Google.com to find what you’re after and share it. Keeping with this theme, the app now also hosts Google Doodles, notifying you of new additions via the animated “G” button. If it’s moving, hit the icon and Gboard will display more information about the Doodle on that particular day.

Perhaps the most useful feature is voice support. Like the native keyboard, all you need to do is press the microphone and talk. If you’ve used Google’s voice services before, you’ll know that they are pretty reliable, so it might come in handy when you have your hands full or need your eyes fixed on something more important.


*Supported languages include: Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Polish, Romanian, Swedish, Catalan, Hungarian, Malay, Russian, Latin American Spanish and Turkish. They can be selected by opening the Gboard app and choosing “Languages”, then “Add Language.”

Via: Google Blog

Source: gBoard (App Store)

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VSCO adds full RAW photo support to its iPhone app

VSCO, smartphone photographers’ image tweaking app of choice, is letting iOS users tap into all the original image data captured on iPhone 6’s and up. Alongside a host of new community features, it’s offering full RAW image support on capture, importing and editing. This means photo editors will be able to access a wider range of colors and tones that are sometimes lost due to compression on typical JPEG photos. RAW support will even work on your must-share DSLR images too.

The update is also the culmination of the VSCO team’s efforts to better showcase its community and editorial team content. This includes a machine-learning engine that surfaces related images of what it spots in images. There’s also a new search and a discovery section specifically for notable community posts.

VSCO has introduced a new (invite-only, subscription-based) membership at an early-access price of $ 20 per year. This will give users monthly updates and early access to filter presets, particularly VSCO’s new Film X interactive presets. These tap into SENS, its new imaging engine, and attempt to offer, according to VSCO CEO and founder Joel Flory: “a physical model of film and not just a static preset.” New presets currently include the Fuji Pro 400H, and Kodak Portra 160 and 400. According to the team, they’ve tried to create a physical mode of film — and that also includes real-time shaders that you can tweak during live capture.

If you’re willing to subscribe, you’ll net the entire preset library (over 100 of those), which total around $ 200 if purchased through the app. RAW support, at least, comes for free in the new update available now. Oh and for that invite-only membership? Add your name to the waitlist here, and get ready to feel exclusive.

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Google adds a food delivery shortcut to Maps for iOS

Not content with a simple navigation app, Google has updated Maps for iOS with a handy food delivery shortcut. So when you tap on a nearby restaurant, perhaps to see its opening times, you’ll soon see a button titled “Place an Order.” Tapping this will give you a few different options (these will vary depending on your country and the business in question) such as Grubhub, Seamless and Eat 24 in the US. Select your preferred service and you’ll be thrown across to the relevant iPhone app. It’s a small addition, sure, but one that could make ordering dinner just a little faster at night.

Via: Mac Rumors

Source: Google Maps (iOS)

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Apple releases iOS 10.1, adds Portrait mode to the iPhone 7 Plus

The Portrait mode for Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus has been in the works for months, and now it’s ready for the masses… sort of. People with the 7 Plus who are running beta software have been able to shoot photos full of artificial bokeh for over a month now, but Apple just pushed out its iOS 10.1 update, which means Portrait mode is here (along with a bunch of bugfixes and support for transit directions in Japan).

Now, here’s the thing: Even though you don’t need to be enrolled in the iOS beta program to use the feature anymore, the feature itself still isn’t completely done. Once the update is installed, the camera app asks if you’d like to “try the beta” when you swipe into the new Portrait position.

Our professional recommendation? Dive right in. Portrait mode might not be completely complete, but it’s still capable of producing seriously nice headshots. In case you missed it the first time around, the feature uses the iPhone 7 Plus’s two cameras in tandem; the primary 12-megapixel sensor captures the image as normal, but the second, wide-angle sensor is used to determine how far away the subject is.

All of that data gets mashed up into a nine-layer depth map, providing the context needed to artfully blur out backgrounds while keeping faces and subjects closer to the phone remain crisp and intact. Apple’s goal was to build a dead-simple photography experience that yields pictures that look like they were shot on expensive SLR cameras, and for the most part, Apple did an impressive job.

This photo represents well the sort of quality you can expect out of Portrait mode. The focus stays locked on the face and hands, and the windows in the background are blurred pretty dramatically. Thanks to that nine-layer depth map, you can see areas where blurring is very subtle, like the top of the subject’s head and the bottom of her scarf.

You don’t need to take photos of people to get some mileage out of Portrait mode either. Have cats prancing around? Or a sweet new mug you need to share? In my experience, as long as you’re within proper range (the app tells you when you are) and there’s enough contrast between the foreground and background, you’ll get that pleasant background blurring.

It’s when you’re in well-lit environments with lots of similar colors that Portrait mode seems to have trouble — that’s often when you’ll see edges blurred when they shouldn’t be. Just check out this photo of a cactus precariously perched on a railing. The camera didn’t have trouble differentiating between the cool blue of the pot and the trees in the background, but it obviously had some difficulty telling where the cactus ended and the trees began.

These disappointments are rare, though, and will probably become less frequent as people continue to put Portrait mode through its paces. Most of the big problems have been solved — now Apple has to focus on the fine-tuning (which is obviously easier said than done). At this point, Portrait mode is still imperfect, but there’s nonetheless a lot to like about it, starting with how simple it is to use. It’s fast, it’s impressive and it’s only going to get better with time. Interested in taking it for a spin? Jump into your iPhone 7 Plus’s settings and hit that software update button. It’ll show up sooner or later.

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Dropbox for iOS lets you sign PDFs, adds iMessage app

Dropbox isn’t a company that makes flashy, high-profile changes to its products. Instead, they’re all about refinement, making small changes over time that end up making things faster and easier for customers. That’s happening today with the Dropbox iOS app: the company is rolling out five new features, with another important one, iPad split-screen multitasking, coming soon. None of the new features are groundbreaking on their own, but they take advantage of some new iOS 10 features and add up to a Dropbox experience that makes it easier for the company’s customers to Get Things Done.

First up is the ability to add your signature to PDFs stored in Dropbox — you can drop a text field anywhere in a document that you want to type in, and you can also open up a window to trace your signature on your device’s touchscreen. Much like the document scanning feature Dropbox added in June, this isn’t something you’ll use every day, but it could be a lifesaver when you need it. It’s certainly a lot easier than printing out, signing, scanning and then emailing a document like a lease or school permission slip. I’ve done that dance far too often lately and would be happy to try Dropbox’s workflow.

The next set of new features relies on iOS 10’s new capabilities. You can now share files through iMessage — the app shows up in the iMessage app area, and tapping it brings up a list of your most recent files. When you send them through iMessage, the recipient will get a little preview of the document. That’s an improvement on how things worked before; you could send files through iMessage by using the share panel inside the Dropbox app, but the recipient would only get an unwieldy link, with no info on what the file they were going to receive was.

Dropbox’s “today” screen widget is also more useful now. Instead of just showing a list of your recently edited files, there are three shortcuts that let you scan a document, upload a photo or create a new Microsoft Office file. The scanner shortcut seems particularly useful; a swipe and a tap will let you capture that receipt you need for expenses before you forget about it and lose it forever.

There’s also a new version control feature for mobile: if you’re in a shared file, you’ll receive a little notification if someone else has made changes to the document. You can then just tap to refresh and see what’s changed. Given that staying in sync across shared documents remains one of the trickiest things to do, this is a most welcome change — although we don’t imagine that most people do so much work on their phones that they’ll need to be alerted of changes in real time. It’s still helpful for those doing a lot of work on their mobile devices, though.

The last few updates are for the iPad. If you’re watching a video stored in your Dropbox, you can now view it in the picture-in-picture mode Apple added to iOS 9 last year. The other, more useful update is “coming soon” — that’s full split-screen support. That’s one of the most important things a good iPad app can offer at this point, and it’s a little surprising that it took Dropbox a year to get there. But if you have documents stored in Dropbox that you want to keep an eye on while writing or browsing the web or doing anything else, this feature will finally make that possible.

Matt Pan from Dropbox told me that these features were the latest efforts to both bring the full desktop functionality of the program to mobile as well as continue the company’s mission to offer its tools to users inside software they’re already using. That latter case is what Dropbox is doing with iMessage and what it has already done with Microsoft Office. Not everyone will automatically find a use for each new tool — but if you use Dropbox, probably at least one of these new features will be handy, and it’s entirely possible you’ll find a few others come in handy down the line. The update rolls out for iPhone and iPad today, and split-screen view on the iPad will arrive “in the coming weeks.”

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