iOS 11.3: Five features worth the upgrade

Today we’re taking a peek at 5 reasons why iPhone and iPad users should update their iOS device to iOS 11.3 immediately. These features range from performance to autocorrect – from the most important features for the average user to features ever-so-slightly less important. No matter how you splice it, the update’s free, and it’s just about Easter weekend, so make an evening of it.

5. Performance Manager Switch

Users can access a new “Battery Health” option to stop the software’s automatic performance throttling to avoid unexpected shutdowns. This is not something I recommend doing, unless you absolutely, positively need your smartphone to run AS FAST as possible. Chances are you’re not one of the very, very few people in this world that need that top performance at all times. If you DO, head to Settings – Battery – Battery Health (Beta).

4. App Review Sorting

For those users that take their app downloading and buying seriously, sorting reviews has arrived. “Four options now allow you to sort the customer reviews on the product pages: the most useful, the most favorable, the most critical or the most recent.” Now we’ll see if people review apps with highest or lowest ratings just to top the list. That’d be not so great.

3. Name and Password Autofill inside apps

Users that don’t just log in to apps using Facebook or Twitter, there’s this. Names and Passwords can be saved to Apple’s memory for the user, then recalled in in-app web views. This applies to webpages that’ve been opened in an app, for example – now they work just like a standard browser like Safari or Chrome for autofilled names and passwords.

2. Your Health Records (Yes, really)

Inside the Health app, users are able to access their health records – just so long as your health system is in the mix. Health Records data is “encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode.” This feature was previously available only to those users that’d joined the Apple Beta Software Program. A full list of institutions that are now part of this Health app initiative can be found below.

1. Autocorrect Capitalization Bug Fix

Autocorrect’s most devious plan for destroying every sentence I type included not just correcting my spelling, but adding a capital letter, too. According to the iOS 11 release notes from Apple: “Fixes a problem that could cause the capitalization of the first letter of some words by the automatic correction feature.” At last!

To update your device, head to Settings and tap General – Software Update – Download and Install. From there you should have to wait a while, tap the update button again, and you’ll be good to go.

 

Original Text ►► iOS 11.3: Five features worth the upgrade

iOS 11.3: Five features worth the upgrade

Today we’re taking a peek at 5 reasons why iPhone and iPad users should update their iOS device to iOS 11.3 immediately. These features range from performance to autocorrect – from the most important features for the average user to features ever-so-slightly less important. No matter how you splice it, the update’s free, and it’s just about Easter weekend, so make an evening of it.

5. Performance Manager Switch

Users can access a new “Battery Health” option to stop the software’s automatic performance throttling to avoid unexpected shutdowns. This is not something I recommend doing, unless you absolutely, positively need your smartphone to run AS FAST as possible. Chances are you’re not one of the very, very few people in this world that need that top performance at all times. If you DO, head to Settings – Battery – Battery Health (Beta).

4. App Review Sorting

For those users that take their app downloading and buying seriously, sorting reviews has arrived. “Four options now allow you to sort the customer reviews on the product pages: the most useful, the most favorable, the most critical or the most recent.” Now we’ll see if people review apps with highest or lowest ratings just to top the list. That’d be not so great.

3. Name and Password Autofill inside apps

Users that don’t just log in to apps using Facebook or Twitter, there’s this. Names and Passwords can be saved to Apple’s memory for the user, then recalled in in-app web views. This applies to webpages that’ve been opened in an app, for example – now they work just like a standard browser like Safari or Chrome for autofilled names and passwords.

2. Your Health Records (Yes, really)

Inside the Health app, users are able to access their health records – just so long as your health system is in the mix. Health Records data is “encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode.” This feature was previously available only to those users that’d joined the Apple Beta Software Program. A full list of institutions that are now part of this Health app initiative can be found below.

1. Autocorrect Capitalization Bug Fix

Autocorrect’s most devious plan for destroying every sentence I type included not just correcting my spelling, but adding a capital letter, too. According to the iOS 11 release notes from Apple: “Fixes a problem that could cause the capitalization of the first letter of some words by the automatic correction feature.” At last!

To update your device, head to Settings and tap General – Software Update – Download and Install. From there you should have to wait a while, tap the update button again, and you’ll be good to go.

 

Original Text ►► iOS 11.3: Five features worth the upgrade

Galaxy S8, Note 8 get GIF support for Always On Display

Samsung’s flagship smartphones have included the Always On Display (AOD) feature for several years now, giving users a way to glance at essential information like notifications, battery level, and the time, by keeping these details constantly displayed even when the device is asleep. Since then, the feature has become more customizable in terms of color and clock style, and even allowing a photo to be shown. But now there’s support for the internet’s favorite media format: the GIF.

While users have been able to choose between preset images or their own photos, the addition of GIFs on the AOD opens the door for displaying animated imagery, not to mention the meme or other humorous clip of the week. The feature comes with a handful of GIFs to use, but can be customized with any stored in the photo library.

The new AOD update is available on the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ and the Note 8, however these devices must be running Android Oreo. Once that’s taken care of, users will want to make sure they’re running AOD version 3.2.26.4 or later for GIF support.

There’s a limit to the length of GIFs that can be shown on the AOD, and to help prevent the feature from being an even bigger battery drain, the images won’t endlessly loop. It will play once when the device is put to sleep, but users can double tap on GIF to get it to play again.

Original Text ►► Galaxy S8, Note 8 get GIF support for Always On Display

Galaxy S8, Note 8 get GIF support for Always On Display

Samsung’s flagship smartphones have included the Always On Display (AOD) feature for several years now, giving users a way to glance at essential information like notifications, battery level, and the time, by keeping these details constantly displayed even when the device is asleep. Since then, the feature has become more customizable in terms of color and clock style, and even allowing a photo to be shown. But now there’s support for the internet’s favorite media format: the GIF.

While users have been able to choose between preset images or their own photos, the addition of GIFs on the AOD opens the door for displaying animated imagery, not to mention the meme or other humorous clip of the week. The feature comes with a handful of GIFs to use, but can be customized with any stored in the photo library.

The new AOD update is available on the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ and the Note 8, however these devices must be running Android Oreo. Once that’s taken care of, users will want to make sure they’re running AOD version 3.2.26.4 or later for GIF support.

There’s a limit to the length of GIFs that can be shown on the AOD, and to help prevent the feature from being an even bigger battery drain, the images won’t endlessly loop. It will play once when the device is put to sleep, but users can double tap on GIF to get it to play again.

Original Text ►► Galaxy S8, Note 8 get GIF support for Always On Display

Google Play Services start blocking uncertified Android devices

The Android platform is open source (though more like open source dump) and there’s no way to close that door anymore. Google, however, has found a way around it through its oh so essential Google Play apps and services. While OEMs had to comply with Google’s rules and certification requirements to officially ship with these, some have found ways around that, usually by side-loading GApps, as the bundle is called, themselves or telling users how to do so. Now it seems that Google is closing the door on that method but users of custom ROMs need not be too worried because Google is surprisingly giving them a special pass.

Google Play Services (sometimes called Google Mobile Services) is one of the more controversial aspects of the Android platform. Very few will deny how these apps and services are critical to providing a full Android experience. Google Play, however, is proprietary and therefore doesn’t ship with the open source Android code (AOSP). No one but Google has the legal right to distribute it and Google has used that to practically keep Android device manufacturers in line. If they want to ship their device with Google Play Services, then they better comply with Google’s rules.

There are always methods to go around this. Some would not ship with Google Play apps at all, like the Amazon Fire tablets or Xiaomi’s phones. Others would tell their users to sideload the package themselves, as is the case with custom ROMs. While the more daring OEMs do ship devices with Google Play already sideloaded for convenience.

Those last two methods might no longer work. There are reports coming in that such uncertified devices won’t be able to log into or sign up for Google apps and services. Sources claim that Google was already testing this for a year now but might finally be pushing the change to all devices via a Google Play update.

This naturally affects custom ROMs but they need not worry. Google actually isn’t completely slamming the door shut. You can register such an uncertified device on your own via a specially-made Device Registration web page. You will need to type in an “Android ID”, which is a long string of letters and numbers that you could get through ADB. Android IDs are also limited to only 100 devices per user and a new ID is generated every time you do a factory reset.

Original Text ►► Google Play Services start blocking uncertified Android devices

Foldable devices: why we’re excited and cautiously optimistic

So everyone’s going into foldable phones, even Apple it seems. But while Apple’s take isn’t due until 2020, or maybe even until much later, the news will undoubtedly make you wonder what the fuss is all about. And if the only examples of foldable phones you’ve seen are the ZTE Axon M and the even older Kyocera Echo, you will definitely be puzzled at the excitement it’s generating. Here are some of the reason why foldable phones and tablets are really the future and why you shouldn’t be holding your breath just yet.

Expanding views, maximizing space

Fold it any other way, foldable phones and tablets is really about the screen real estate. A phone that unfolds into a tablet means you have double the screen space. On the other hand, a phone that folds down to half its size means you need less space to store your phone. Tablets might even be able to fold out into a bigger canvas.

Smartphones have pretty much reach the apex of screen size. Any bigger and they cease to become usable phones. That’s why manufacturers are so obsessed with bezel-less screens, trying to reclaim even the smallest millimeter of space to increase the total screen area without increasing the phone’s size.

Everyone wants larger screens. No one, however wants larger devices. Foldable phones and tablets offer the best of both worlds, presuming they’re done properly.

Conforming to our needs

Smartphones have become so important in our lives that we are more likely to change ourselves to fit the device, be it fashion or habits. We are pretty much at the mercy of what form factors and sizes companies push on us (ironically citing consumer demand) and we move our life around those. But no one size fits all and smartphone size preferences are no different.

Foldable devices would at least give us some reprieve. Of course, we’d still be limited to a few fixed size configurations but, in the future, even those might give way to deformable, not just foldable, devices. Want a bigger screen? Simply unfold your phone rather than having to switch devices. Want to squeeze your device into your slim pocket? Simply fold it up and go. Devices will finally be able to change to fit our needs rather than the other way around.

Pushing boundaries

Foldable devices inspire the imagination and get creative juices flowing not just because of the near-impossibility of the hardware. They also tickle our fancy because of the almost magical things we might be able to do with these kinds of devices. Yes, they will still be touch-driven, maybe even stylus-driven, but they would still go beyond the user interfaces and interactions we currently have. We could have two different screens at the same time, seamlessly interacting with each other. Or have one gigantic screen instead.

That said, we also hit upon one of the big hurdles to this foldable future. The ZTE Axon M comes close to that dream but is tripped up by more than just a thin bezel in the middle. Our software, be it Android or iOS or even Windows, is far from ready for a dual-screen reality. Considering it took almost a decade for mobile platforms to accept go beyond the “one screen per app” model, it might take just as long for them to catch up with this upcoming trend.

Beyond current capabilities

One reason why platform makers aren’t in a rush to prepare software for that future is because they know the hardware isn’t even ready yet. Foldable devices are really pushing everything we know and have, both software and hardware, beyond their limits. Samsung and others have been working for years on foldable displays, and they’re not even close to getting it right.

And the display is just one, but an important, part of the equation. We will eventually reach the point where we’ll have to make other non-rigid components. And then we’ll hit on the most volatile and most explosive of them all: the battery.

Awkward first steps

Foldable devices are coming. They are inevitable though some will come later rather than sooner. The market wants it thought the market isn’t sure it’s ready to pay for it just yet. The first ones, however, will probably be disasters. They’ll be a far cry from the ideal future that manufacturers themselves have tried to paint. Some will be sold, many will be scrapped. Some might even give up. Hopefully they won’t, because foldable really is the future. It’s just a matter of how soon we’re willing to make it happen.

Original Text ►► Foldable devices: why we’re excited and cautiously optimistic