Apple unveiled a range of India-specific features in iOS 13 at WWDC this week as it begins to adapt its software for the world’s second largest internet market. But if you want to see how far an international service can be customized for the Indian market, look to Google Maps.
The app, which is used by hundreds of millions of people in India, today introduced three new capabilities: the ability to check live status of trains, bus travel times in 10 of India’s largest cities, and mixed-mode commute suggestions that combine auto-rickshaw and public transport.
For live status of trains, the company says it worked with Sigmoid Labs, a local startup it acquired last year. Sigmoid Labs maintains an app called ‘Where is My Train’ that offer similar functionalities — and that continues to exist as a standalone app.
The update means Google Maps users in India can now find all the suitable trains between two destinations and check their whereabouts from within the app. Each day, more than eight million people in India hop on a train to move between and through towns and cities to get to work.
For bus travel times, a feature Google is introducing for the first time in any market, the company says it is relying on a combination of its live traffic data and public bus schedules to calculate delays and provide accurate travel times. It is available in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow, Chennai, Mysore, Coimbatore, and Surat.
The mixed-mode commute looks at journeys that combine travel in both an auto-rickshaw and public transport. So, for example, if you take an auto-rickshaw to get to a bus stand, and then board a bus from there as is common across many cities.
Google says Maps app can now suggest users when taking multiple commutes is a viable option and estimate how much time the journey would take. The app will also be able to suggest when a user should make the switch from one mode of transportation to another. This feature is initially limited to Android users who are located in Delhi and Bangalore, but Google said it will be extended to more cities soon.
In recent months, Google has added a number of features to Google Maps in India, some of which are available in other markets, too. Those additions include the ability to report traffic congestion and accidents, and, most recently, support for auto-rickshaw travel. The app also allows users to share their live location with friends and family. Late last year, the company inked a deal with ticket booking platform Redbus to add inter-city bus transportation information.
Google remains aggressively committed to India, a market where it is estimated to have more than 300 million users. The company has used the country as the testbed for many of its services including YouTube Go and Google Station.
That’s helped Google surge in terms of usage. That, combined with the dominant of Android as an operating system, has led to an anti-trust probe on Google’s influence in the nation.
Garmin Venu 2 smartwatch is the do-all fitness tracker
The Garmin Venu 2 smartwatch will cost you approximately $400 – let’s talk about why. The Garmin Venu 2 does everything the original Venu does, but ALSO adds an array of new features. This watch works with GPS (and GLONASS, GALILEO), heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, ambient light sensor, pulse ox blood oxygen saturation monitor, and a battery time of up to 10 days in smartwatch mode. It has a touchscreen, color display, and is able to connect to Android and iOS devices.
In addition to the features included in the original Venu, this device is available in two distinct sizes and multiple colors. This version has “enhanced battery life” with both rapid recharging and a battery saver mode – which for the Venu 2 means it’ll have up to 11 days of up-time, and the 2S rings in at 10 days (both in smartwatch mode).
This series also has new HIIT workouts with on-screen animations, as well as activity profiles for HIIT, hiking, bouldering, and indoor climbing. Venu 2 works with Health Snapshot to record and share health stats, and has a “Fitness age” system.
With the fitness age system, the watch “estimates the body’s age” given activity, resting heart rate, chronological age, and either body fat percentage (if you’ve got a Garmin Index scale) or BMI. The Venu 2 also adds new sleep score and insights with Firtbeat Analytics. Below you’ll see a presentation video from Garmin about this new Garmin Venu 2 series.
The Garmin Venu 2 has a 45mm watch case and a 22mm band. The Garmin Venu 2S has a 40mm watch case and an 18mm band. The bands work with “industry-standard quick release” silicone band connections, and the watch has a stainless steel bezel.
The display is an AMOLED touchscreen panel protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 3. If you’re looking at the Venu 2S, you’ll have a 1.1-inch diameter display with 360 x 360 pixels. The Venu 2 has a 1.3-inch diameter display with 416 x 416 pixels. Both have 5 ATM water ratings, meaning they’re able to withstand pressure equivalent to a depth of 50 meters. That means you’ll be protected against splashes, showers, diving, snorkeling, swimming, and your basic rain and snow.
Both the Garmin Venu 2 and Garmin Venu 2S will cost you approximately $400 USD. These watches were made available for purchase through Garmin (dot com) starting this week.
iOS 15 features could include Apple’s big notification upgrade
Apple’s iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, its upcoming major software refreshes for iPhone and iPad, will include a significant rework of how notifications are handled, according to a new report, potentially addressing a growing criticism of alert overload on mobile devices. The two new OSes – one designed for phones, the other for tablets, after Apple opted to cleft development in two – are expected to be previewed at WWDC 2021, the company’s annual developer event in early June.
Notifications and the Lock Screen in general has increasingly become a point of contention for iOS and iPadOS users. In the early days of the iPhone platform, Apple’s treatment of each notification as a separate block made sense; more recently, however, with a dramatic uptick in the number of apps and services wanting to push out their respective alerts to users, the Lock Screen has arguably become unruly and it’s easy to potentially miss a notification.
Apple has finessed the UI over the years, including grouping notifications by app, and there are settings which can control whether software can show a full notification or a more fleeting one. All the same, chatter of a revamp has been around for some time, and it seems iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 will be when it lands.
Users will be able to set different notification preferences, based on their current status, sources tell Bloomberg. That could include whether their iPhone or iPad makes a noise. Unlike the current, fairly blunt “Do Not Disturb” or driving modes – the latter which can automatically activate when the iPhone is in CarPlay mode in a vehicle – there’ll be multiple settings supposedly accessed via a new menu.
For example, users could set that they’re working, sleeping, driving, or a custom category – such as exercising – with a different set of notification preferences for each. That menu will be accessible from the new Lock Screen as well as in the Control Center. Automatic message replies, as are currently supported in driving mode, will also be supported for each status.
For iPadOS 15 specifically, there’ll be new Home Screen options. The widgets that Apple added to iOS 14 last year, which can be intermingled with regular icons on the Home Screen, will be expanded to iPadOS 15 it’s suggested. Currently, iPad widgets are corralled into a separate pane.
Both iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 will also expand Apple’s focus on privacy, the sources say. There’ll be a new menu which lists all of the personal data being collected and shared by apps, in part of an attempt to make more clear what information may be gathered in the background. It follows new rules Apple has applied to developers around disclosing data sharing policies and more.
Finally, there are said to be changes afoot to iMessage, Apple’s messaging platform. Though possibly not arriving in time for WWDC 2021, the updates are believed to be with a mind to making iMessage more of a social network than it is now, though exactly how that would operate is unclear at this stage.
WWDC 2021 kicks off on June 7, and – like last year – will be held entirely online rather than as an in-person event. Registration is open now, and unlike in previous years will be free and uncapped in number to developers.
AppleCare+ plans can now be extended for longer than 36 months
Anytime someone buys a new Apple product such as an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Mac, they often buy the AppleCare+ extended warranty. That warranty covers the devices for all manner of accidental breakage and other issues. Apple recently announced that in Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US, owners who originally purchased AppleCare+ can renew their coverage for longer than was previously allowed.
Users are required to purchase their new coverage within 30 days of the date of their original coverage ending. Users who pay monthly or annually for AppleCare+ don’t need to take any action to renew their plans. Plan coverage can be continued beyond 24 or 36 months on a monthly or annual basis until the user cancels the coverage.
Apple does note that users who choose to continue their coverage will be subject to the current AppleCare+ terms and conditions. Buyers in China who purchased 24 months of coverage upfront will be able to continue coverage on an annual basis when their 24-month initial period is over. Those who paid annually will renew annually each year until they cancel.
Users in China can renew within 30 days of the end date of their current coverage. The coverage end date can be found in “settings – general – about” where they can tap the AppleCare+ Coverage Available option and follow instructions to register. Users can follow the “settings – general – about” path and then tap the name of their AppleCare plan to see when their coverage expires.
Coverage can also be verified on the mysupport.apple.com website. Expiration dates are also noted in the Proof of Coverage or Plan Confirmation message sent when the AppleCare+ plan was initially purchased. Apple outlined the steps on its support page with an updated document published on April 20.
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