App of the Week: iOS 11 Preview

 

By Dave Smith of Business Insider

13 things everyone is going to love about iOS 11

 

Apple’s newest operating system for iPhones and iPads, iOS 11, finally launches this month. We’ll learn the official release date for iOS 11 at Apple’s big event on September 12; Apple calls its newest iOS “a giant step for iPhone” and “a monumental leap for iPad.”

Here are 13 things everyone will love in the next big iPhone and iPad update:

1. Live Photos will be much better.

Now you can make your live photos into GIFs, which you can make bounce back and forth. Also, you can finally choose which still frame of the Live Photo is the main image, making it easier to find the perfect moment to share on social media.

2. You’ll be able to store way more photos and videos on your phone.

Apple is changing the compression formats in iOS 11, which will allow you to store more photos and videos on your phone. Apple says you’ll be able to save twice as many photos and videos on your device than in iOS 10.

3. The App Store is getting a much-needed face-lift.

Apple is finally bringing the design language it established for newer apps like Music and News to the App Store itself.

Not only did Apple make the App Store look cleaner, with better, bolder text, it also changed its organization. Now everyone will have a personalized “Today” tab to highlight unique apps and games.
And speaking of games, Apple has finally dedicated a full tab of the App Store to games, making new or notable ones much easier to find.

4. The Messages app is getting cleaned up.

 

It felt like mayhem when Apple added the app drawer to its Messages app. Suddenly, you could add stickers and GIFs and all sorts of buttons and visuals to your messages, but all the new options weren’t easy to find and were somewhat overwhelming. Apple redesigned the app drawer in Messages for iOS 11, making it much easier to browse all the various stickers and emojis at your disposal.

5. Siri sounds more natural and can translate for you.

 

Apple says Siri is going to get much more advanced through machine learning and artificial intelligence — it’s unclear whether these changes would make Siri better to use, but at the very least, Apple has made Siri sound a bit less robotic and more natural, a bit like Amazon’s Alexa assistant.

And Apple is also testing a cool translation feature for Siri, where if you ask the assistant to say a certain phrase in a different language, like Chinese or Italian, it will speak on your behalf in the desired language.

6. The iPhone keyboard is getting smarter.

 

A signature feature of Google Now is finally coming to the iOS ecosystem: When you type in iOS 11, the keyboard will suggest words you may have recently viewed on your phone — from your Messages app, for example, or Safari. So when your friend texts you the name of a restaurant, it may be one of the first suggestions when you start searching for that restaurant on the web.
Also, you’ll be able to use the keyboard with one hand — just hold the emoji key and select one-handed typing to move all the keys closer to your thumb.

7. Apple is finally letting you manage your Control Center.

The Control Center was perhaps the most useful feature of iOS 7, released in 2013. By swiping up from the bottom of your screen, you could access a variety of shortcuts and buttons. Four years later, you’ll finally be able to choose what those shortcuts and buttons are.

8. Notifications are getting simplified.

 

In iOS 11, all your notifications — both recent and missed — are in one place, with no separate tabs. Just pull down from the top of the screen to see everything at once.

9. There’s a new feature that could actually save your life.

 

Distracted driving is a real, deadly problem. Apple has added a clever feature that triggers Do Not Disturb mode when the iPhone is in the car to hide notifications for texts, calls, and other apps while you’re driving. The feature can even notify people that you’re driving and will contact them soon.

10. Apple Maps are better, indoors and out.

 

Apple is adding indoor maps for hundreds of airports and shopping centers around the world, making it much easier to navigate your local mall.
And speaking of navigation, Apple has finally added lane guidance to Apple Maps for more precise turn-by-turn directions.

11. Setting up a new iPhone or iPad is much easier.

 

If you just bought a new iPhone or iPad, you can hold it close to an iOS device you already own to magically import all your settings, preferences and iCloud Keychain passwords. It helps you start using that brand-new device much more quickly than before.

12. The volume box is moving out of your way.

 

When you change the volume on your iPhone or iPad, a translucent box pops up in the middle of the screen. It’s a bit annoying, so Apple is redesigning the volume box in iOS

Here’s how it’ll look:

 

13. You can instantly share Wi-Fi passwords.

 

Soon, you’ll no longer need to save your Wi-Fi password on a wrinkled piece of paper in a drawer somewhere. In iOS 11, if you need a Wi-Fi password for a given network, just find someone who is already using it and hold your device near theirs to transfer the password instantly.

What new feature are you looking forward to the most in iOS 11? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to: Link Your Calendar with Alexa

 

 

by DAN MOREN of Tom’s Guide

Having Alexa read you your upcoming appointments is one of the best uses of a virtual assistant. It saves you from having to go to your computer or pull out your phone to check what’s going on for the day or add a new event. Alexa supports Google Calendar, Apple Calendar,  and Microsoft calendars via Outlook.com and Office 365. Here’s how to link them.

1. Open the Alexa app on your phone.

 

2. Tap the Menu button in the top left corner.

 

3. Tap Settings.

 

4. Scroll down to find Calendar and select it.

 

5. Tap the calendar system you want to link; for this example, we’ll use Google Calendar.

 

6. On the following screen, which includes your name, tap “Link your Google calendar account.”

7. When prompted, choose the appropriate Google account. You may need to enter your username and password.

 

8. The following screen tells you what abilities you’re granting Alexa; in this case, managing your calendars. Tap Allow.

 

9. Tap Done.

 

10. Choose which calendars you want Alexa to have access to by tapping the checkbox beside their names. When you’re finished, tap the Back arrow in the top left.

 

11. In the middle of the screen, you can choose to which calendar new events will be added. Tap the name of the calendar that Alexa has chosen to change it.

 

12. You’re all set! Now, you can add a new event to your calendar by saying “Alexa, add dinner to my calendar for 6pm today” or, for a more interactive approach, “Alexa, add an event to my calendar.”

App of the Week – Things 3

Things 3 task manager launches with beautiful new design and all-new features

By Zac Hall of 9to5Mac

Cultured Code is launching all new versions of its Things task management software for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. Things 3 includes a beautiful new design with charming interactions across each version and powerful new features for organizing tasks and scheduling assignments.

Cultured Code highlights several tent pole changes in the new version including a totally redesigned interface and new interactions across each version, a new Today and This Evening feature for planning your day, support for headings and checklists on entries, time-based reminders for the first time, and both slim-mode and multiple window support on the Mac.

There’s even what Cultured Code calls the Magic Plus Button which lets you intuitively insert created tasks inline with your existing task lists in a very realistic way. Cultured Code also highlights desktop class list editing from iOS with the ability to manipulate and sort text entries as if they were physical objects. Check out the video at the bottom to see it all in action.

HERE’S HOW THINGS WORKS
If you’re new to Things, this is the basic workflow:

1. Collect Your Thoughts Get things off your mind quickly with Things’ action extension – it lets you create to-dos from other apps. Or just talk to Siri on any device! “Remind me to…”

2. Get Organized Create a project for each of your goals, then add the steps to reach them. For clarity, add structure with headings. Then group your projects by areas of responsibility, such as “Family”, “Work”, or “Health”. Review these regularly to stay on top of things.

3. Plan Your Time See your calendar events alongside your to-dos and plan your time effectively. Create repeating to-dos for things you do every few days, weeks, or months – Things will remind you on the right day.

4. Make the Most of Your Day Every morning, grab a coffee and prepare your list for “Today”: review previously planned to-dos and make quick decisions on what to tackle. Pick some more steps from your projects and then get going. The Today list is the only place you’ll need to look for the rest of the day.

5. Customize Your Workflow Use tags to categorize your to-dos or add context. For example, tag places like “Office” or “Home”, or tag all your “Errands”, or everything you’re working on with “Kate”. You can easily find everything you’ve tagged via filtering or search.

Things 3 is the first paid update to the task manager since Things 2 launched in 2012 and carries the same price of $49.99 for Mac (free trial at culturedcode.com/things), $19.99 for iPad, and $9.99 for iPhone + Apple Watch for all customers. To mark the launch and help existing customers upgrade for less, Cultured Code is discounting Things 3 for each platform by 20% through May 25.

If you’re looking for a powerful task manager with fine-tuned design, Things 3 is an easy recommendation. As a Things 2 customer for years, I’ve used the platform as a Reminders and Notes upgrade (and Reminders integration works with Siri) and I love the new look, interactions, and features of Things 3.

 

Check out Things 3 in action below:

Download Things 3 foriPhone & Apple Watch
Download Things 3 for iPad
Download Things 3 for Mac

What is your favorite Task Management App? Let us know in the comments below!

How to: post Google Photo’s awesome animations to Instagram.

 

By Raymond Wong of Mashable


If you use Google Photos, you know the service is so much more than just the best way to store and back up all your photos and videos into the cloud.
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Using advanced machine learning, Google Photos can intelligently identify people, places, and things — and it’s all easily searchable. One of the cooler things in Google Photos is the Assistant (not to be confused with Google’s other Assistant on Android and Google Home).

In the Google Photos app on iOS and Android, the Assistant is a card-based panel that does three things:

1 Shows you the status of your backup.
2 Automatically creates “movies” based on related video clips.
3 Creates “animations” using batches of bursted photos. (You can also create your own animations by manually selecting between 2-50 photos, but the end result is the same — you still get a GIF file.)

I’m constantly amazed by how great the automatically generated animations are, and it sure beats using a separate app like Burstio to convert your burst photos into a video or a GIF.

There’s just one little thing: While you can download and share the animated GIFs online to Twitter, Giphy or wherever using a computer, sharing GIFs natively to Instagram is still impossible without first converting the file into a video.
Here’s how to do that quickly and easily:

For iOS

On iOS, you’ll need to use another app like GifLab (free) to convert the GIF into a video. To find your animations, type “animations” into the Photos search bar in the iOS or Android app. Then, select your animation. (These are animations you’ve saved. Animations that Google Photos created but you didn’t save within 30 days of their creation will not appear and are lost forever, so save them when they’re created.)

Tap the “•••” located in the upper right corner and then tap “Download” to save the GIF. Then, open up GifLab and do the following:
Step 1: Open GifLab and select “GIF to Instagram.”
Step 2: Select your GIF and adjust the playback speed.
Step 3: Tap “Save and share on Instagram.”

For Android

On Android, things are even easier and you can share GIFs directly from Google Photos to Instagram, as the app automatically converts the GIF into a video, no extra app required.

Select your Google Photos animation GIF as outlined above and then tap the share icon in the lower left. Select Instagram as the app (obviously, have it installed and logged in) to share the GIF. Once the GIF’s been auto converted into a video, you’ll be taken Instagram where you can select a filter and add a caption.

Do you use Google’s Photos? Tell us what you think of it in the comments below!

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