Apple has officially released the iOS 13.5 update due to the corona crisis. This includes, for example, the interface required for tracing apps. Tracing apps, which could be used to monitor possible chains of Covid-19 infection, are considered to be an effective means of preventing the virus from spreading further in the corona crisis. So far, the publication of such an app, the use of which is also advocated by Health Minister Jens Spahn, has failed due to a missing interface in the mobile operating systems of Google and Apple. The iPhone company has now finished the Contact Tracing API – and is distributing the corresponding update. iOS 13.5 and iPadOS 13.5 ready After the Golden Master version of the update iOS 5.13, in which the API is included only on Monday released for developers was, it is now officially rolled out. The same goes for iPadOS 13.5. In addition to the API, Apple also delivers new features for Face ID and Facetime with iOS 13.5 – also due to the corona crisis. In iOS 13.5 you can find the new Covid-19 contact protocol option in the settings under data protection and there under health. The function is deactivated by default, it can only be activated if an authorized app is activated for it. Apple explains how it works In the accompanying statement from Apple it says that the iPhone uses Bluetooth and sends randomly generated IDs in the vicinity. The device also collects the same ID from devices of other users. This allows you to anonymously see which user was in contact with whom. The ID should be automatically deleted after 14 days. How the ID is evaluated and the notification in the event of a corona infection is in the hands of the national tracing apps. In addition to the interface, Apple also brings an already announced Face ID function for mask wearers with iOS 13.5. In this case, the switch to entering the passcode should take place faster than before. This also applies to applications such as the App Store, which rely on authentication via Face ID. Another innovation concerns Facetime calls in conference mode. Here, the size of the video images is no longer automatically changed when a participant speaks. In addition, minor bugs, such as in the mail app on the iPad, have been eliminated.
Google has released Android Studio 4.0. The new version of the most important tool for Android developers brings a whole host of new features that make app design easier. Google usually presents new versions of its Android development environment for Google I / O, the important developer conference of the Californian group. Since there will be no I / O this year due to the corona pandemic , Google has decided to publish the update almost silently. The Android Studio 4.0 is here. (Screenshot: t3n) Android Studio 4.0 strengthens design skills But that has it all. Unlike last year’s version 3.5 , which, under the influence of Project Marble, experienced stability improvements and bug fixes, Android Studio 4.0 brings a variety of new and, above all, useful functions. Android Studio 4.0 now supports the design of apps better than before. The new Motion Editor enables complex animations to be created using click and drag, i.e. in a visual way. Previously, animations were only possible by manually editing the underlying XML files. The Motion Editor is a quantum leap there. With the improved Layout Inspector, designs can be debugged in real time. The use should be more intuitive than before. With the layout validation a tool is available that enables developers to compare and optimize their user interfaces across different screen resolutions. ARCore, Google’s 3D implementation with augmented reality, is also supported, so that the development of AR applications is also easier. Visual design with the layout editor. (Screenshot: t3n) The updated text editor supports syntax highlighting, code completion and error checking in Proguard rules files. In addition, Android Studio 4.0 now includes live templates for Kotlin classes. Significant improvements under the hood Google has also made significant changes under the hood. Android Studio 4.0 should lead to optimized, smaller apps. The APK editor allows you to look into the APK and make optimizations, even if the specific APK was not created with Android Studio. Google has updated the IntelliJ platform to version 2019.3, which, among other things, should lead to better performance. The build analyzer is intended to accelerate the build process and point out any weaknesses. Google gives a complete overview of all new and improved features on the project page for Android Studio 4.0 . Developers experience compatibility issues On the project page you can download Android Studio 4.0 for the operating systems Windows, macOS, Linux and Chrome OS. If you have already installed a previous version, you can also initiate the update process within the application. First developers criticize that not all Kotlin, Flutter and Dart plugins work with the new version. Before an update, you should check whether this can be relevant to your projects.
The Photoshop Camera smartphone app for iOS and Android, announced last November, is now available. Adobe’s Marketing is positioning the free camera app functionally as an alternative to the main camera. Photoactive social media enthusiasts should be interested in the latest app from Adobe . With Photoshop Camera * , which the image processing specialist makes available for both Android and iOS, Adobe joins the various providers of photo apps with live filters and effects. Photoshop Camera relies on Sensei AI for live filter effects Photoshop Camera is an app that – like many others – can apply live filters and effects to existing photos in your gallery. It is also possible to select the effects before pressing the shutter release and see the potential end result through the viewfinder. This can potentially save Instagramers time. It may also help with the choice of perspective if the final effect filter can be assessed well in advance. Photoshop Camera in action. (Image: Adobe) According to Adobe, Photoshop Camera uses the in-house AI Sensei to sensibly place the live effects or to improve the recordings in general. Contrary to what the advertising suggests, the effects are not automatically applied to images, for example in the style of an intelligent automatic. Rather, the live filters and effects sit in a classic row under the shutter button and wait to be selected by the user. Adobe calls the effect filters lenses. In principle, anyone can develop such lenses. To get started, Adobe developed some weird effects in collaboration with artist Billie Eilish. There are also effects with more or less descriptive names such as portrait, pop art, spectrum, food, landscape, blue sky or daydream, each of which comes in several variants. The stock of so-called lenses is expected to increase week by week. Photoshop Camera in action. (Image: Adobe) First tests: The oho effect does not occur, but the app is always useful In the first attempts we were able to find that the AI can actually produce good results with the live application of the supplied effects. You can fine-tune the respective lenses by individually improving the determining parameters such as exposure, shadows, sharpness of detail. Unfortunately, Photoshop Camera only offers a very imprecise scale that is controlled by swiping across the entire screen and hardly allows filigree gradations. In the end, Photoshop Camera is just one effect filter app among many – there are dozens of similar apps, especially for iOS. Advantages of Adobe’s app are that it is free and does not have any major weaknesses compared to the competition. You need an Adobe ID to use it. But it’s free. App free of charge, CC storage space can be purchased optionally The pictures will be saved in your photo gallery on the device. If you want, you can rent 20 gigabytes of storage space in the Creative Cloud via in-app purchase. That costs 1.99 euros a month. If you want to use the free Google Photos to back up the photos from Photoshop Camera, you have to remember to add the folder of the same name in the settings for backup and sync. Small downer for Android users: the app does not work with all smartphones. Therefore, you may not find them in the Play Store from your devices. From our test pool, for example, the Xiaomi devices and the pixels from Google refuse to work. Oneplus smartphones, on the other hand, find the app.
The popular cloud storage service Dropbox is further diversifying its offering. In the future, the service will save passwords and the data in the most important folders on your computers at no additional cost. We already reported in this post that Dropbox is working on a solution for password management . An invitation-only app called Dropbox Passwords was discovered in Google’s Play Store. This should secure existing passwords and generate secure new ones. There was no official statement. Dropbox expands its offering to include password management, data vaults and computer backups It is now clear that Dropbox will actually take the next step towards a full office solution. For its “Dropbox Plus” offer, the provider is introducing the “Dropbox Passwords” password manager. It is also available as a separate app for mobile devices and is intended to keep the passwords, which are saved with zero-knowledge encryption , synchronized across all devices. Manage passwords. (Image: Dropbox) In addition, users receive a specially protected area, the so-called data safe. Here they should be able to file important documents such as birth certificates or the like carefree. The data safe is additionally protected with a six-digit PIN. Users can grant third parties access to the data safe. Data vault. (Image: Dropbox) In addition, Dropbox wants to save your personal standard folders desktop, documents and downloads in the cloud in the future. Up until now, backing up folders outside the Dropbox directory was only possible with tricks. Dropbox describes this function as “Secure your PC”. Computer backup. (Screenshot: t3n) All of the features mentioned are currently still in beta status and are included in the “Dropbox Plus” tariff. Computer backup is also available in the Basic and Professional tariffs. The rollout for all users can take a few weeks. We were already able to use the backup in the editorial office. The Passwords smartphone app is still available as invite-only in the Play Store. Integration of electronic signatures and app centers for professional users For professional Dropbox use in distributed teams, Dropbox integrates the electronic signature solution from Hellosign into its own cloud. The aim is to enable a digital signature workflow that can take place entirely within the Dropbox environment. Important contracts could be created, drawn and saved without leaving the Dropbox environment. The Hellosign integration is announced as generally available in July 2020. The app center. (Image: Dropbox) The App Center is another new solution for distributed teams. Dropbox wants to bring together all the tools that can be integrated into its own solution, such as Slack or Zoom. You can then easily link your own Dropbox to these services using the new app center. Before it is generally available, Dropbox wants to test the App Center extensively with a group of beta users and a limited number of linkable services. Dropbox Family: Up to 6 people with shared and separate storage areas Family. (Image: Dropbox) For home users, Dropbox will be launching a family account in the coming weeks and months. This should bring drop boxes for up to six people, some of which can be used personally, some shared. For example, the common area could be used to share family photos or other common documents. Dropbox Family should be billed uniformly. The provider has not yet announced prices.
Together with the software company Parallels, Google brings native Microsoft Office and other Windows legacy applications to Chromebooks. First, companies should benefit from the partnership. Android apps have been installed on Chromebooks for years, and Linux apps on some devices . Windows applications could only be executed via emulation. According to Google, that will change in the course of September and make Chromebooks more attractive for some companies. According to Google, Windows apps for Chromebooks are due to Corona So far, Microsoft’s Office applications can be used on Chromebooks via Android apps, web applications such as Microsoft 365 or alternatives from competitors such as Google Docs in the browser or Libre Office as a Linux application. With Parallels, a full office suite for Windows is coming to Chromebooks this fall. According to Google, Parallels Desktop is natively integrated with Chrome OS. This is intended to improve performance and enable the offline use of Windows applications on Chromebooks. As the reason for the timing of the announcement, Google cites the corona crisis, which accelerates working in the home office so much that the time is ripe. In the USA, due to the corona situation, a 109 percent year-on-year growth in sales was achieved in the first quarter of 2020, according to Google . In the enterprise sector, the increase was around 155 percent. Chromebooks with Windows Apps – More Than Office Applications? Through the integration of Parallels into Chrome OS, other Windows applications should find their way into Google’s operating system in addition to Microsoft’s Office suite. Neither Google nor Parallels mention many details about the implementation, but Google promises to provide more information in the coming months. It can be assumed that Google will bring Parallels Desktop to Chrome OS devices for private customers after the launch in Enterprise Chromebooks .
Does a lot help a lot? No, at least not in app development. Because software doesn’t always have to be complex to offer a good user experience. AI and machine learning are two omnipresent buzzwords. In many places people are looking for more or less meaningful application possibilities or at least talk about where potential lies dormant. But how necessary is artificial intelligence when it comes to a good user experience with apps , really? How do apps actually work? In order to answer this question, it is helpful to look behind the facade of the front end, i.e. the user interface. Apps are actually data collecting machines that fill a database – but nothing more: every click and every input is a specific command that, regardless of whether it is a mobile game or an app for language learning, is in the background in a record is transformed. As long as this data is not processed further, nothing happens to it. So that something can emerge from this, they have to be processed according to a certain logic, for example counted. This is the prerequisite for being able to set different parts of the database in relation to one another, i.e. an algorithm is created that works according to the if / then principle, for example. Specifically: When the app is opened for the first time, information A appears; if the app has already been opened five times, information B. So, based on the existing logic, firmly defined rules apply. The complexity can be increased here at will, with various dependencies and conditions, and possibly even continuously expanded to include feedback in the form of additional data. The crucial point at this point is that any processing of the available data by the algorithms must always be specified by a person and programmed accordingly in the system. Each individual usage path must have been thought out and created in advance. So far, so understandable. If we now talk about AI and machine learning in the next step, then it is about the system working with the available data and the specified algorithms and independently recognizing patterns within the results that were not specified by humans. Through appropriate training, the algorithm must learn which patterns it should look for. That’s the stuff scifi scripts are made of. For something like this to work, you need sufficient data, technical knowledge, training and tests – in short: a lot of resources. If they are actually available, wonderful application scenarios can arise. For example, in digital image recognition, in which the software recognizes better and better over time what is shown; this is particularly useful in e-commerce. AI is also used in machine manufacturing, for example in the area of predictive maintenance, in order to prevent wear and tear on machines before an expensive breakdown occurs. If the resources required for the complex programming are not available, this results in a not fully developed solution, which in the worst case even has errors that lead to problems in operation. Programming without the use of AI is of course not child’s play either. The height of fall is higher due to the increased effort. What is this excursion into the basics of app programming? It shows that it is not necessary to use high-end technology everywhere in order to offer a good user experience. There is also “interaction” without AI! To the outside world, and above all to the untrained eye, an app can appear to be intelligent, to learn over time or to interact with users. Most of the time this is not the case! A little clearer: If a lifestyle app is opened early in the morning, a “Good morning!” Appears and a message that a walk would be a good way to wake up. If the advice is not adopted, it disappears at a certain point. It is the same when an app is designed for progress, as is the case with fitness apps or programs for learning a language. If the app is not used for a certain period of time, the goals will be adjusted because your fitness level or vocabulary may have changed. In these two examples, the user gets the impression of an interaction because the app “reacts” to the individual use. However, the functionality is not based on any artificial intelligence, but on the in-depth knowledge of the app developers about the needs of the users and the correspondingly created and simple time- or count-based algorithms. It makes sense to combine your own ideas from the development team with user feedback. In addition to explicit evaluations made in an app, feedback also means activity or inactivity in some areas of the app. This allows the user interest to be derived very precisely. So: to quickly test prototypes (for example in A / B tests), to improve them, and then to roll out the new functions widely. The result is an app that incorporates the needs of the user and – if desired – also includes interactive and responsive elements. This should show that a good user experience is not created solely by the technology used, but rather by making the best possible use of the resources available. Balance between the possible and the sensible When developing apps, it is always about finding a balance between technical finesse and user wishes. It can certainly make sense to adapt and implement new technologies in order not to lose touch with developments. The top priority should then always be the noticeable benefit for the user. From a purely technical point of view, for example, it is possible to map loyalty points via the blockchain. But is that noticeably easier for users in daily handling and does it improve the user experience positively? Of course it depends on the specifics, but probably not. Instead of a technical sophistication that could not be implemented perfectly due to insufficient resources and then possibly not work properly, one should rather fall back on technically less complex, but functioning and well-developed systematics. Then apps that are “only” based on the natural intelligence of the developer teams can offer an outstanding user experience.
Google has given its photo management app a redesign. Like Google Maps recently, the new version of Google Photos has received a new logo in addition to new functions. Five years after announcing Google Photos, the search engine giant is giving its popular image service a major update. According to the company, the focus of the new version is on new functions that should help to relive personal memories. According to Google, Google Photos is used by a billion people every month Google Photos Update: New look for old photos According to Google , the refreshed look of the image management tool provides new possibilities for app navigation on iOS and Android. The redesign makes it possible, among other things, to better highlight one’s own favorite pictures from the past, explains the company. The new app for the two major mobile platforms finally brings a long-desired function with a map view, with which photos and videos can be explored according to their locations. The new version of the Photos app is divided into three tabs – Photos, Search and Library. The search is at the center of the new application, according to Google. In the Photos tab , all photos and videos are displayed, but they are now presented in larger thumbnails with less white space. Videos are automatically played according to Google. At the top there is also a larger “memory carousel”. As photo libraries continue to grow, a search function becomes more and more important. Therefore, Google puts the search more in the foreground in order to enable quick access to the “most important people, places and things”. There is also a new interactive map view. Google Photos app with a new map view. (Image: Google) The most important contact points for the photo library are collected in the new Library tab. This includes albums, favorites, a recycle bin, as well as the archive and more, according to Google. If you are in the USA, the EU or Canada, you also have access to the print store, where you can have photo books and more printed. The Google Photos app comes with a pimped up reminders function. (Image: Google) Since Google is a big fan of messaging apps – such a function is even built into Maps – the company is also building one in its photo app. A tap on the speech bubble in the upper area of the app opens a list of released photos including all conversations that may have been held about them. The new Google Photos logo The new Google Photos logo. (GIF: Google) To illustrate the further development of the service, Google has also refreshed the logo. Originally, the Google Photos app icon was supposed to be modeled on a pinwheel as a reference to childhood and nostalgia. With the redesign, it was refreshed and simplified, explains the company. The familiar shape of the wind turbine should be retained. According to Google, the new version of the Google Photos app will be released for Android and iOS in the course of next week.
Alexa should soon be able to control Android and iOS apps. This could eliminate a major disadvantage of the Alexa app for smartphones. Amazon is working on a new feature for Alexa that can control iOS and Android apps. Users could then use the voice assistant, for example, to start a recording on Tiktok or to have the route of an Uber vehicle ordered by voice command shown on the display. According to Amazon, the respective developers do not have to make any major changes to the apps controlled by Alexa, provided the respective function is already available via deep links. Currently, however, the function called Alexa for Apps is still in a preview phase. If you want to develop Alexa skills with which your own app can be controlled, you have to apply to participate in the program on the Alexa for Apps website . Users either need the Alexa app on their smartphone or Alexa-enabled peripheral devices such as Amazon’s Echo Bud headphones. But it remains to be seen how many app developers will actually use the function. After all, Android and iOS already have voice assistants integrated into the operating systems. Alexa should become a better conversationalist As part of the Alexa Live virtual developer conference, Amazon presented a number of other functions . With Alexa Conversations , which is currently in beta, Amazon has introduced a new AI-supported dialog manager. It should be used to create skills that are capable of much more natural conversations. With the Alexa Web API for Games, in turn, HTML-based games can be built for Alexa devices with screens. The Skill Resumption function is intended to ensure that skills can continue to run in the background. In this way, users can always return to this skill without having to restart it.
Microsoft has released a family safety app for iOS and Android. Parents can use the app to restrict and monitor their children’s digital media consumption on smartphones, Windows computers and Xbox consoles. With Family Safety, Microsoft has released an alternative to Google’s Family Link for Android and iOS. The Microsoft app gives parents the opportunity to monitor their children’s digital media consumption and, if necessary, limit it. The whole thing is cross-platform and therefore works not only on the two smartphone operating systems, but also on Windows computers and the game consoles of the Xbox series. However, the features are limited under iOS. The Family Safety app allows parents, for example, to block websites and search terms. This is currently only possible in the Edge browser on Windows, Android and Xbox. Apps can also be blocked for use, but Apple’s operating system remains unaffected here as well. Conveniently, parents can also set upper limits for the use of individual apps via the app. There is also the possibility that children can request purchases from their parents in the Microsoft and Xbox stores. Only after your OK does the purchase take effect and the deposited payment method is charged. Family Safety: Parents get device usage statistics The Family Safety app * should enable parents to see how often their children have used the various devices linked to the app. There is also an evaluation of the apps and games used. The most frequently visited websites are also evaluated. Microsoft promotes the function as a discussion basis for appropriate online use. Microsoft’s family app also allows the location of family members to be viewed on a map. In addition, individual locations such as your own home can be saved there. For example, parents should be able to see at a glance whether their children are back from school or friends.