Tag: iOS

Senators want to know if Apple fought back on China’s VPN ban

Apple CEO Tim Cook wasn't pleased about pulling VPN software from the company's App Store in China, but this July, it happened anyway. As a result, many users who once counted on such software to dodge the country's Great Firewall were left to their own devices (and we've explored the situation at length here). Now, senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have called on Cook in a letter to explain in detail how that process went down, out of concern that Apple is "enabling the Chinese government's censorship and surveillance of the internet."

The letter (which can be read in full here) poses 10 questions to the Apple CEO. It asks (among other things) whether Apple formally commented on the Chinese government's Cybersecurity Law when it was presented as a first draft, whether Chinese authorities requested Apple removed the VPN apps, whether Apple has made any attempt to reintroduce said apps, and how many apps were removed in total. (A report from the BBC when the apps first disappeared put the count at around 60.)

Apple hasn't issued an official statement on the matter yet, and our request for comment was met with a transcript of Cook's statement on the issue during the company's August 1st earnings call. The thrust of that statement can be summed up in one line: "We would obviously rather not remove the apps, but like we do in other countries, we follow the law wherever we do business."

In other words, Apple complied with the (arguably abhorrent) policy of another country because it makes a lot of money there. That's not likely to change anytime soon, either. The Greater China region (which also includes Hong Kong and Taiwan) has been known to make or break quarterly earnings reports, and mainland China's middle class is only continuing to grow in size and importance. According to a report from The Economist Intelligence Unit last year, nearly 35 percent of the country is expected full under the "upper middle-income" and "high income" umbrellas by 2030 -- that works out to around 480 million people, essentially all of whom will need smartphones.

Cook hopes that these restrictions will be eased over time, but yeah, of course Apple aligned itself with Beijing on this one. The cash incentives here are no joke. The real ammunition that senators Cruz and Leahy have seized on is that Apple seems to embody two reputations that often seem antithetical to each other: that of a shrewd corporate tactician, and that of a principled company willing to take a stand on the important issues of the day. The former has stowed over $230 billion in what The Telegraph calls "offshore subsidiaries" in hopes that it'll one day be able to bring it back to the US without paying an obscene tax bill. The latter is centered around a CEO that won a Free Expression award earlier this year, who said in his acceptance that Apple "defends [the freedom of expression] by enabling people around the world to speak up."

We'll monitor the situation and update this story if Apple explicitly responds to the letter.


Facebook Messenger lets you send cash to friends with PayPal

Messenger started making it easier to pay your friends for dinner back in 2015 when it introduced the option to transfer money in-app with a credit or debit card. If PayPal has always been more convenient, though, you'll love this collaboration: Facebook and the payment service have teamed up to give you a new way to split the bill. You can access the feature the same way you'd pay with a card. Simply tap the blue plus icon and then tap the green Payments button to bring up the two existing options.

If you'd previously set up the feature to pay using your card, just tap the Change button and choose Paypal to connect your account with Messenger. The feature is now live on iOS and will soon be available on Android. Unfortunately, you can only use it if you're in the US -- everyone else will just have to find other ways to spend their PayPal balance.


Gmail on iOS trials third-party email accounts

One of the worst things about Gmail for iOS is that unlike its Android counterpart, it doesn't support third-party accounts. If you also use Outlook or other providers for any reason, you'll still have to depend on one of its rival apps. Now, it looks like Google is at least thinking of letting you use the app for all your email needs -- it's now accepting applications for beta testers willing to brave crashes and bugs for the chance to add their non-Gmail accounts to their Gmail app.

To be able to join, you'll have to already be using the Gmail app, have a non-Gmail address to add and have iOS 10 or later installed on your phone. Take note that Google has to share whatever info you give it with Apple, since this is a TestFlight program. You can sign up through the beta testing page Google set up for the feature: if you get accepted, you'll receive instructions from Apple on how to proceed. There's no telling when and whether the feature will ever be widely available, so this could be your only chance to take it for a spin.

Source: Google


AI-powered app finds and locks away your racy photos

Hiding racy photos on your phone can be a tedious, manual affair. Depending on the app, you need to first select all the pics you want to move, move them and then delete them from your original cameral roll. That's not to mention making sure they didn't go to any automatic cloud backup locations like iCloud or Google Photos. A new app, Nude, aims to make the process a lot easier by scanning your photos for nudes, putting them in a private vault, deleting them from your camera roll and then erasing them from iCloud. All of this analysis is done on your iPhone, too, so no sensitive information hits the cloud.

Fully named Nude: The Sexiest App Ever, the app uses either a PIN or Touch ID to secure your photos, as well as an integrated camera to take them in the app itself. You can view your naughty photos and video in Nude, too, and the app keeps track of any attempts to get into your photo vault. The iTunes description says you can protect copies of your driver's licence, ID, and credit cards, though it doesn't mention if the built-in AI will detect these in the same way as, say, those naked photos.

Private, on-device analysis is only available with iOS 11, though; users of iOS 10 and under will have their photos categorized by Amazon's cloud-based Rekognition tech, so be wary. Nude is free to download but will run you $1 for a monthly subscription and $10 for an annual one. The app is only on iOS for now, though an Android version is in the works, according to The Verge.

Via: The Verge

Source: Nude App/iTunes


German soccer team puts players on your iPhone for AR selfies

Sports teams and broadcasters have been going all-in on high-tech initiatives lately. The NFL was an early adopter, with AR features appearing on Fox Sports broadcasts. The NBA just released an augmented reality mobile hoops game, Samsung has put MLB and the UFC on its Gear VR and ESPN is streaming X Games content to VR headsets as well. German soccer team, FC Bayern Munich, is taking its first AR steps, too, with a new feature in its iOS app that brings team captain Manuel Neuer or forward Arjen Robben into your iPhone for celebrity selfies.

You can choose which of the three "strips" Robben wears in the app, and you can personalize the back of the jersey for your screenshot photos, too. You can also buy player jerseys from within the app, if that's your thing. "This augmented reality feature offers fans a playful, unique and immersive opportunity to get closer to the team they love whether they are based in Munich, New York or Mexico," said FC Bayern Munich's Stefan Mennerich in a statement. "It is important to us that we continue to offer these innovative experiences, not only to ensure that we are connecting with our family of fans on all levels but also to continue advancing digital technology used in the sport sector."

The iOS app is free for download; simply tap over to the "AR Arena" to check out the player selfie feature. You'll need iOS 11 and an iPhone with an A9 or A10 processor, according to the developer.

Source: FC Bayern/iTunes


Google Photos can pick your pet out of a furry lineup

Google Photos has long been adept at recognizing animals in a generic sense. But let's be honest: the real reason you're digging through photos is to find shots of your specific pets when they were little balls of fur. Accordingly, Google has made those pet searches much easier. Photos is now smart enough to recognize individual and dogs, placing their shots alongside people. You can name pets, too, so you can look for Chairman Meow or Rover instead of typing in generic "cat" and "dog" queries.

This isn't perfect. Google was quick to acknowledge to BuzzFeed that Photos might get confused if you have different pets from a similar breed, so don't expect it to tell the difference between your golden retrievers. Nonetheless, it's a welcome addition -- it beats having to scroll through page after page of unrelated images just to find that one omgsocute snapshot you want to share with your friends.

Via: BuzzFeed News

Source: Google


NBA’s first AR game lets you pop-a-shot with your iPhone

The NBA's already cranked up its virtual reality output, and now it's taking baby steps into augmented reality too. The league's new iPhone game lets you play virtual pop-a-shot outdoors, which is as straightforward as it sounds. Just download the "NBA AR" app, point your phone at a chosen spot, and start shooting hoops on a virtual backboard and court. You'll have to frantically flick your iPhone, though, as there's a 30-second time limit on each round. When you're done, you can share your high score on social media, iMessage, and email -- and check how you stack up on the in-game leaderboard. NBA AR is available for free right now on the App Store.

The game relies on Apple's ARKit AR platform, restricting it to newer iPhone models (including the 6S and beyond) running on iOS 11. The NBA is the latest big name to try out Apple's tech, which Tim Cook claims will one day be as essential to brands as a website. The likes of Ikea and Edmunds have taken the bait, both releasing AR lifestyle apps aimed at shoppers. But, everyone else (it seems) is busy chasing the breakout success of Pokémon Go. According to recent data from Sensor Tower, games are by far the largest category of all ARKit apps on the App Store. So, don't be surprised if the NBA's small-scale release, which it touts as the first AR game by a US sports league, is followed by plenty others.


Google Assistant can finally control Chromecast from your phone

Google's Assistant app is capable of lots of things, but before today, controlling a cast session by voice wasn't really possible. Android Police reports that now the mobile app can do so, and you can even specify which Chromecast in your house is the target. Adjusting the volume, skipping or repeating tracks and tasking Assistant to play Urfaust's latest on your Chromecast Audio while you beam a Minecraft video to the kids' room all can be done with a simple voice command now -- and all without a Google Home. On our iPhone with the Assistant app it worked as you'd expect, but Android Police says its devices weren't working just yet; the publication received tips from readers about the functionality prior. Are you having any luck? Let us know in the comments.

Source: Android Police


Privacy-focused Telegram can share your location in real time

Telegram is big on privacy, but that doesn't mean you always want to keep things hush-hush -- in fact, you may want to reveal exactly what you're up to. Appropriately, the company just updated its Android and iOS apps with an option for live location sharing. Turn it on and everyone in a chat can see where you are in real time for as little as 15 minutes or as long as 8 hours. As you might imagine, that could be more than a little helpful if you're meeting up with someone or want to know when your friends get home.

The Telegram team is also improving things for music fans and polyglots. The in-app media player has received an overhaul that includes better support for playing music files like MP3s. Also, language support in the interface is much better this time around, including timely support for Russian as well as French, Ukranian, Indonesian and Malay. Persian is also coming, Telegram says. In that sense, the biggest news surrounding Telegram may simply be that it'll feel more at home for more people.

Source: App Store, Google Play, Telegram


Snapchat just made tagging places a lot more useful

More and more places are getting their own Snapchat location filters, but what good are they? Well, now they link to further information about where your pals are sending evaporating updates from. The ephemeral photo app is calling them Context Cards. The video filled with very attractive twentysomethings below shows restaurant reviews from TripAdvisor, how much it'll take to get to a destination either in your own car or via Lyft or Uber and will add your location to a map, Foursquare style. It looks like you can even make hotel reservations without leaving Snapchat, too -- all based on the location filter you pick.

Additionally, you can link with OpenTable to book a restaurant reservation, and there will be more location-based stories and snaps listed as well. While the app started out as a way for sending risky photos, Context Cards are the latest step into turning Snapchat into a full-blown social network. It's only a matter of time before Instagram tries something similar.

Source: Snapchat (YouTube)