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WWDC 2019: What I want Apple to add to iOS 13 and the iPad Pro

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Is it possible to leave the Apple ecosystem?
TechRepublic’s Karen Roby asks ZDNet’s Jason Perlow and Jason Cipriani if it’s feasible to happily leave the Apple ecosystem after being invested in their products. Read more: https://zd.net/2XtjT4v

With WWDC (Apple’s annual developer conference) just over a month away, I’ve started thinking about iOS 13. More specifically, the main features I want Apple to bring to the iPhone and — even more so — to the iPad Pro.

Also: Apple opens WWDC registration, conference begins June 3

It’s been far too long since the iPad line has received meaningful software improvements, and it shows. Multitasking feels clunky, mobile Safari is no longer good enough, and Apple’s pitch that an iPad can replace a computer has become tiring.

My wishlist from last year was partially fulfilled with iOS 12, which added parental controls, improved notifications, and iCloud Messages. But Control Center is still in the same spot, and we continue to have to use the same boring app grid. I still want to see these features changed in iOS, but instead of repeating my old requests, I’ve come up with some new ideas.

We have a good idea of features that are rumored to be included iOS 13, thanks to a series of reports from 9to5Mac. With that said, until it’s announced by Apple, nothing is official.

Across all iOS devices

With the iPhone and iPad sharing a core feature set, here are some features I’d love to see on all iOS devices.

VIP contacts for Messages

Apple’s Mail app has a VIP feature that allows you to set up new mail alerts for hand-picked contacts. I use it to eliminate unnecessary notifications, and it works well. Adding a VIP list to the Messages app so that, even when Do Not Disturb is enabled, message alerts from those most important to me will still prompt an alert and go a long way in eliminating unnecessary distractions. 

Also: It was the best of Apple, it was the worst of Apple

Dark mode

According to Google, using a darker interface on our phones not only is easier on our eyes, but it improves battery life. Android Pie has the beginnings of a dark mode, and early Android Q builds have an improved version. However, iOS currently lacks a true dark mode. Third-party apps have taken it upon themselves to implement a darker interface, but support at a system level is needed.

Get rid of the volume overlay

I agree with ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, who questioned why we still have to look at a floating volume display. Come on, Apple! Put a small indicator along the side of the screen, or at the top of the display, when the volume is adjusted.

Adrian has a few more suggestions for iOS, all of which make sense to me. Be sure to check out his post here.

iPad Pro features

When I reviewed the 12.9-inch iPad Pro late last year, I stated it is the best tablet I have ever used, but it’s still stuck in computer limbo. Here are some things I’d love to see Apple do in iOS 13 on the iPad Pro to make it more of a computer.

Better multitasking

The current multitasking system is a chore to use. Yes, using multiple apps in split-screen and slide over makes it possible to use more than one at a time, but it doesn’t go far enough. I want to pin an app to either side of the screen, leaving it open at all times.

According to 9to5Mac, iPad multitasking will gain windowed apps, or cards. The cards can be stacked and moved around, much like windows in a MacOS or Windows 10. I’m not sold on the idea, but then again, I haven’t seen how Apple is going to implement it. The bottom line is: The iPad needs a better way of letting you stay in specific apps while also moving between apps.

Also: Coming to an Apple store near you: The harder sell

Desktop-class Safari

This is by far the biggest change I want to see. Mobile Safari is fine for the smaller screened iPhone, but when I’m using a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, there’s no reason it can’t render the desktop version of a website properly.

Whether it’s a formatting issue or the inability to tap on a button or link, bringing a desktop-class version of Safari to iPad is a key piece to the puzzle for a lot of people who are making the iPad Pro a true computer replacement. Myself included. 

Multiple user accounts

I still think the entire iPad lineup would benefit from multiple account support. Just like a Mac or PC, adding user accounts to the iPad means that households could share the same iPad without forcing everyone to use the same set of apps and settings.

Also: The secret tricks Apple store staff use to push certain products

Mouse support

Mouse support isn’t on my wishlist, but there are rumors that Apple will add mouse support as an accessibility feature. The new feature was first mentioned by MacStories’ Federico Viticci on the Connected podcast.

With proper mouse support — hopefully not limited to USB like Viticci hints at, but with Bluetooth support as well — the iPad will become a more viable option for power and enterprise users, as CNET’s Jason Hiner points out. 

WWDC starts June 3, 2019. Apple’s opening keynote usually walks us through major feature updates for all of its software platforms. Expect to see updates for iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS.

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Buffalo shooter invited others to his private Discord ‘diary’ 30 minutes before attack – TechCrunch

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Discord has provided more insight into how the shooter who opened fire in a Buffalo, New York supermarket over the weekend used its service prior to the tragic act of violence.

The shooter, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, is charged with first degree murder in the mass shooting, which left 10 people dead and three injured. In the month leading up to the attack on the Buffalo Tops grocery store, which he researched and selected in an effort to harm as many Black people as possible, he used Discord to document his plans in extreme detail.

According to Discord, the suspected shooter created a private, invite-only server that he used as a “personal diary chat log.” The server had no other members until 30 minutes before the attack began, when a “small group of people” received an invite and joined.

“Before that, our records indicate no other people saw the diary chat log in this private server,” a Discord spokesperson told TechCrunch. TechCrunch reached out to the company for more details about the server’s activity and insight into how it handles moderation for private servers and messages.

Discord, a text and voice chat app, is best known for its large, public messaging rooms but it also allows users to create private, invite-only servers. In updates to the Discord server, which shares a username with the Twitch channel he used to livestream the shooting, the suspect documented his violent, racist views in depth. He also detailed the logistics of how he would carry out the mass shooting, including the gear he would use, his shopping trips leading up to the shooting and his day-of plans.

While it’s unknown what other Discord servers Gendron was active in, he references his activity on the app in the chat logs. “I didn’t even think until now that the people in my discord groups are probably going to get no knock raided by ATF and FBI agents,” he wrote. While Discord served as a kind of digital journal for the atrocities he would later carry out, he also compiled a nearly 200-page screed about his beliefs, weapons and plan to commit violence in Google Docs.

In early May, he expressed concerns that Google might discover his plan for violence in messages sent on the private Discord server. “Ok I’m a bit stressed that a google worker is going to see my manifesto fuck,” he wrote. “WHY did I write it on google docs I should have had some other solution.” Unfortunately, those concerns were unfounded. After the shooting, Google did remove the document for violating its terms of service.

The suspect, who livestreamed the shooting over Twitch, also spent time on 4chan’s /pol/, an infamous submessage board rife with racism, misogyny and extremism. Unlike mainstream social networks like Discord, 4chan does not do any proactive content moderation and only removes illegal content when required to do so. In Discord chat logs reviewed by TechCrunch the shooter notes that he “only really turned racist” after encountering white supremacist ideas on 4chan.

Five years ago, Discord was implicated in the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, an open gathering of white supremacists and other far-right extremists that ended with one counter-protester dead. The rally’s participants and organizers came together in private Discord servers to plan the day’s events and discuss the logistics of what would take place in Charlottesville. The company responded by cracking down on a number of servers hosting extremism, though maintained that it did not read messages on private servers.

Like Reddit, most of Discord’s hands-on moderation comes from community moderators within its chat rooms. And like most social media companies, Discord relies on a blend of automated content scanning and human moderators. Last year, the company acquired Sentropy, an AI software company that detects and removes online hate and harassment, to bolster those efforts.

In the years following the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Discord successfully sought to distance itself from its association with the far-right extremists and white supremacists who once called the social network home. More recently, Discord has also put some distance between its current brand and its origins as a popular chat app for gamers, reframing itself as an inviting hub for a huge spectrum of thriving online communities.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families,” a Discord spokesperson said of the tragedy in Buffalo, adding that it is assisting law enforcement in the ongoing investigation. “Hate has no place on Discord and we are committed to combating violence and extremism.”

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Twitter rolls out the ability for creators to host Super Follows-only Spaces – TechCrunch

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Twitter has announced that it’s rolling out Super Follows-only Spaces. Creators who offer Super Follows subscriptions can now host Spaces exclusively for their subscribers. The social media giant says this new option will give creators a way to “offer an extra layer of conversation to their biggest supporters.”

Subscribers globally on iOS and Android will be able to join and request to speak in Super Follows-only Spaces, whereas subscribers on Twitter’s web platform can join and listen, but won’t have the option to request to speak. Creators can start a Super Follows-only Space by selecting the “Only Super Followers can join” button when starting a new Space. Users who aren’t Super Following a creator will still see the Space, but won’t be able to access it unless they subscribe.  

It’s worth noting that the new Super Follow-only option for Spaces isn’t the only way for creators to hold exclusive Spaces. For example, Twitter launched its Ticketed Spaces feature last year to allow creators to set a price for users to listen in on a Space. Creators can set their ticket price anywhere between $1 and $999 and can also limit how many tickets are sold.

Super Follows, which was first revealed in February 2021, allows users to subscribe to accounts they like for a monthly subscription fee in exchange for exclusive content. Super Follows is currently in testing with select creators in the United States on iOS. Eligible accounts can set the price for Super Follow subscriptions, with the option of charging $2.99, $4.99 or $9.99 per month.

The launch of Super Follows-only Spaces adds another layer of exclusivity to Super Follows subscriptions. Twitter says it plans to launch more Super Follows features to allow creators to grow their audiences and get closer to their most engaged followers.

Twitter says its research shows that hosting consistent Spaces leads to more follower growth and also gives creators more ways to engage with their followers. The company found that consistently hosting Spaces, around two times per week, leads to a 17% follower growth over a quarter. In addition, the company says creators who host consistent Spaces for a month see a 6-7% growth in followers, and creators who do so for two months see a 10% growth in followers.

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TikTok launches its first creator crediting tool to help video creators cite their inspiration – TechCrunch

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After years of stolen memes and uncredited dance trends, TikTok today is introducing a new feature that it says will be the first iteration of its creator crediting tools that allow creators to directly tag and credit others using a new button during the publishing process. This button lets creators credit all sorts of inspiration for their content, including dances, jokes, viral sounds, and more — and will help TikTok viewers discover the original creators behind the latest trend by tapping on the credit from the video’s caption.

Larger creators lifting ideas from smaller ones is an issue that’s not limited to TikTok. But as one of the largest social apps on the market, particularly among a younger Gen Z to Millennial demographic, how it approaches the issue of creator recognition matters.

To that end, TikTok says it’s now rolling out a new feature that will allow users to add a credit as part of the publishing process on the app.

Image Credits: TikTok

To access the feature, users will tap on a new “video” icon on the posting page after creating or editing their own video. Once on the video page, users will be able to select a video they have liked, favorited, posted, or that had used the same sound.

After this video is selected, the video tag will be added as a mention in the caption.

Those whose videos were tagged by another creator will then be alerted to this via an alert in their TikTok app Inbox.

Image Credits: TikTok

The feature’s launch follows years of controversy over creator credits and attribution on TikTok.

In particular, TikTok had struggled with some of its top stars sourcing new choreography to perform in their dance videos from creators on other, smaller platforms — like the rival short-form video app Dubsmash, later acquired by Reddit. Many of these unknown creators had helped kick off TikTok’s biggest dance trends in years past, like the Renegade, Backpack Kid, or Shiggy. And many were creators of color, who saw their dances go viral after more famous TikTokers would perform their moves without tagging them as the inspiration. This issue came to a head when The New York Times in 2020 reported on the original creator of the Renegade, then a 14-year-old Atlanta teen, Jalaiah Harmon, who hadn’t received credit for her work after TikTok’s largest creator, Charli D’Amelio, performed her dance for her millions of fans, helping her to further grow her already outsized celebrity status.

The following year, a similar controversy made headlines after TikTok star Addison Rae went on “The Tonight Show” where she taught host Jimmy Fallon a number of popular TikTok dances. Meanwhile, the dances’ original creators, many of whom are Black, remained uncredited in the segment. Later, a number of Black creators went on strike as part of a viral campaign to call attention to the issue of creator credits by refusing to choreograph a dance to Megan Thee Stallion’s latest single.

D’Amelio and some other creators have since begun to handwrite dance credits in their video descriptions, often using the shorthand “dc” for dance credit followed by a tag pointing to the username of the creator. A famous Hollywood choreographer, JaQuel Knight, who made history as the first to copyright his work, has also begun helping other dancers on TikTok get credit for their work too, Vice reported in December.

But dances aren’t the only things being stolen on TikTok. Creators have fielded accusations of stealing everything from cheerleading routines to comedy bits to challenge ideas to music or sounds and much more.

 

A TikTok spokesperson acknowledged the problem with credits on the platform, noting that the culture of credit was “critical” for the community and for  TikTok’s future. “Equitable creator amplification is important for creators, especially the BIPOC creator community,” they added.

Image Credits: TikTok

In an announcement, Director of the Creator Community at TikTok, Kudzi Chikumbu introduced the feature and highlighted other efforts the company has made to help better highlight original creator work on its platform.

Chikumbu pointed to TikTok’s Originators series, launched last October, which showcases trend originators through the app’s Discover List feature. TikTok also recently debuted a TikTok Originators monthly social series highlighting Originators on the platform. In addition, the TikTok Creator Portal includes a “Crediting Creators” section that highlights the importance of attributing trend originators for their work. Here, the company lays out best practices for crediting originators and explains how to find the originators if you aren’t sure who had started a trend.

The use of the new crediting tag could help make it easier for creators to cite their inspiration. However, it still relies on user adoption to work. If a creator wants to lift ideas without credit, they could simply not use the feature.

“It’s important to see a culture of credit take shape across the digital landscape and to support underrepresented creators in being properly credited and celebrated for their work,” said Chikumbu. “We’re eager to see how these new creator crediting tools inspire more creativity and encourage trend attribution across the global TikTok community.”

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