The Punkt MP02 inches closer to what a minimalist phone ought to be

There’s an empty space in my heart for a minimalist phone with only the most basic functions. Bad for my heart, but good for a handful of companies putting out devices aiming to fill it. Punkt’s latest, the MP02, goes a little ways to making the device I desire, but it isn’t quite there yet. Punkt’s first device included just texting and calling, which would likely have worked as intended if not for the inconvenient choice to have it connect only to 2G networks. These networks are being shut down and replaced all over the world, so you would have ended up with a phone that was even more limited than you expected. The MP02 is the sequel, and it adds a couple useful features. It runs on 4G LTE networks, which should keep it connected for years to come, and it has gained both threaded texting (rather than
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Kayak’s new AR feature will tell you if your carry-on bag fits the overhead bin

Popular travel app Kayak has put augmented reality to clever use with a new feature that lets you measure the size of your carry-on bag using just your smartphone. Its updated iOS app now takes advantage of Apple’s ARKit technology to introduce a new Bag Measurement tool that will help you calculate your bag’s size so you can find out if it fits in the overhead bin – you know, before your trip. The tool is handy because the dimensions of permitted carry-on luggage can differ from airline to airline, Kayak explains, so it’s not as simple these days to figure out if your bag will fit. In the new Kayak iOS app, you can access the measurement tool through the Flight Search feature. The app will first prompt you to scan the floor in order to calibrate the measurements. You then move your phone around the bag to
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Answering its critics, Google loosens reins on AMP project

Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, has been a controversial project since its debut. The need for the framework has been clear: the payloads of mobile pages can be just insane, what with layers and layers of images, Javascript, ad networks, and more slowing down page rendering time and costing users serious bandwidth on metered plans. Yet, the framework has been aggressively foisted on the community by Google, which has backed the project not just with technical talent, but also by making algorithmic changes to its search results that have essentially mandated that pages comply with the AMP project’s terms — or else lose their ranking on mobile searches. Even more controversially, as part of making pages faster, the AMP project uses caches of pages on CDNs — which are hosted by Google (and also Cloudflare now). That meant that Google’s search results would direct a user
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YouTube to shut down standalone Gaming app, as gaming gets a new home on YouTube

YouTube will no longer maintain a separate app targeting gaming and live game streaming, the company announced today. The YouTube Gaming app, which first arrived in 2015, will be sunset sometime next spring as its host of features make their way over to YouTube’s main site. Over the years, the YouTube Gaming app has been a place where YouTube experimented with features catering to game creators and viewers who like to watch live and recorded esports. Here, it tested things like Game Pages to make games more discoverable, Super Chat, and Channel Memberships – features which the Amazon-owned game streaming site Twitch had also popularized among the game community. Some of YouTube Gaming’s features became so well-received that the company brought them to YouTube. For example, this June YouTube introduced channel memberships to its main site. And before that, it had brought Super Chat – a way for creators
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Instagram will promote mid-term voting with stickers, registration info

Facebook is getting ready to purposefully influence the U.S. mid-term elections after spending two years trying to safeguard against foreign interference. Instagram plans to run ads in Stories and feed powered by TurboVote that will target all US users over 18 and point them towards information on how to get properly registered and abide by voting rules. Then when election day arrives, users will be able to add an “I Voted” sticker to their photos and videos that link to voting info like which polling place to go to. Combined, these efforts could boost voter turnout, especially amongst Instagram’s core audience of millenials. If one political party’s base skews younger, they could receive an advantage. “Ahead of National Voter Registration Day, we are helping our community register to vote and get to the polls on November 6th” Instagram writes. “From today, Instagram will connect US voters with the information
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Google’s parental control software Family Link expands to teens

Google’s parental control software for mobile devices, Family Link, will now help parents of teenagers, too. The company announced this morning the addition of new features aimed at parents of children over the age of 13. Perhaps the most controversial choice Google has made with this expansion is that teens can choose to turn off supervision via the software. While this does send an alert to parents, it’s a decidedly odd choice. After all, if parents are planning on controlling smartphone use through Family Link – which lets them do things like manage and track screen time, view the location of the device, or control which apps are able to be installed, for example – it seems that parent and child would have already had a conversation about the topic. And while it’s a nice gesture to ask teens to give consent to monitoring, it’s a hollow one –
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Daily Burn plans a new line of fitness apps, starting with HIIT Workouts

Daily Burn, the online fitness brand owned by IAC, launched a new iPhone app today devoted to the popular workout style known as HIIT (high-intensity interval training). Daily Burn already offers a general training app, but the company says it’s planning a whole series of vertical workout apps, starting with HIIT Workouts. They are “bringing personalized workout training to every member tailored to their interests.” If you’re wondering exactly what HIIT is, the individual exercises may be familiar, but as a Daily Burn article puts it, it’s all combined into “quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods.” There’s no shortage of HIIT workout apps, or HIIT workouts in broader fitness apps (for example, I’ve tried out several through my Fitbit Coach subscription). But Daily Burn points to the combination of guided video workouts (so you’re less likely to mess things
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Instagram Shopping gets personalized Explore channel, Stories tags

Instagram is embracing its true identity as a mail-order catalog. The question will be how much power merchants will give Instagram after seeing what its parent Facebook did to news outlets that relied on it. In a move that could pit it against Pinterest and Wish, Instagram is launching Shopping features across its app to let people discover and consider possible purchases before clicking through to check out on the merchant’s website. Today, Instagram Explore is getting a personalized Shopping channel of items it thinks you’ll want most. And it’s expanding its Shopping tags for Instagram Stories to all viewers worldwide after a limited test in June, and it’s allowing brands in 46 countries to add the shopping bag icon to Stories that users can click through to buy what they saw. Instagram clearly wants to graduate from where people get ideas for things to purchase to being
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Five security settings in iOS 12 you should change right now

iOS 12, Apple’s latest mobile software for iPhone and iPad, is finally out. The new software packs in a bunch of new security and privacy features you’ve probably already heard about. Here’s what you need to do to take advantage of the new settings and lock down your device.

1. Turn on USB Restricted Mode to make hacking more difficult

This difficult-to-find new feature prevents any accessories from connecting to your device — like USB cables and headphones — when your iPhone or iPad has been locked for more than an hour. That prevents police and hackers alike from using tools to bypass your lock screen passcode and get your data. Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode and type in your passcode. Then, scroll down and ensure that USB Accessories are not permitted on the lock screen, so make sure the setting is Off.

2. Make sure automatic
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You can try Siri Shortcuts today in these iOS 12-ready apps

With today’s release of iOS 12, Apple is also rolling out a new feature called Siri Shortcuts, which allows users to create their own voice commands to take actions in apps. For example, you could create a shortcuts for ordering your morning coffee, playing your favorite music, getting your daily schedule, and much more. In preparation for the iOS 12 launch, a number of app developers have already added support for Siri Shortcuts – sometimes even through a dedicated button in their app – in order to help nudge users towards adoption. You can configure Siri Shortcuts in iOS Settings or create more complex voice commands using Apple’s new Shortcuts app, also out today. But these are things that will appeal more to power users – at least for the time being. Mainstream users, meanwhile, will likely come across Siri Shortcuts for the first time when using their favorite
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11 neat hidden features in iOS 12

iOS 12 is finally here. And the update is packed with many improvements. In particular, Apple has tucked away many little features that you won’t see right away. If you want to impress all your friends with your mad iOS skills, here is a list of some of these features. I also wrote a review of iOS 12 if you want to learn more about all the changes coming with iOS 12.

#1: Is it a phone? Is it a trackpad?

Many people don’t know about this superpower, but you can move around an email or text message by turning your phone into a trackpad. On previous versions of iOS, you had to use 3D Touch. It is now much easier to access as you just needs to tap and hold on the space bar of the keyboard. Goodbye, Gboard!

#2: Second Face ID

RIP, Touch ID. But Face
😎
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iOS 12 makes your phone faster than ever

iOS 12 could be summed up in one feature: speed. The rest is just a footnote, especially when you compare iOS 12 to iOS 11. You may remember that iOS 11 was filled with many new features, especially on the iPad. But it was also the buggiest release to date. Even the Calculator app wasn’t working properly. And let’s not forget about messages arriving out of order or your keyboard replacing the letter “it” with “I.T”. Like many of you, I’ve been using a beta version of iOS 12 for the past few weeks. Even though it was just a beta, iOS 12 is by far the fastest version of iOS of all time. And Apple just released iOS 12.0 today. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s new in iOS 12.

Low level

If you are reading this article on an iPhone or iPad, chances are you’re
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iOS 12 is now available to download

Apple has just released the final version of iOS 12. This update is all about making your phone work better — and there are also a bunch of new features. The update is currently rolling out and is available both over-the-air in the Settings app, and by plugging your device into iTunes for a wired update. Many people try to download these major updates at the same time. Apple usually implements a queue system to ensure speedy downloads once you’re at the front of the queue. iOS 12 is compatible with any device that can run iOS 11 — the iPhone 5s and later, the iPad mini 2 and later, the iPad Air and later as well as the most recent iPod touch. But first, backup your device. Make sure your iCloud backup is up to date by opening the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad and tapping on
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Natural Cycles contraception app told to clarify pregnancy risks

A multi-month investigation by Sweden’s Medical Products Agency into a number of unwanted pregnancies among users of ‘digital contraception’ app Natural Cycles has been closed after the startup agreed to clarify the risk of the product failing. But, on the self-reported data front, the agency said it was satisfied the number of unwanted pregnancies is in line with Natural Cycles’ own clinical evaluations which are included in the certification documentation for the product. In its marketing and on its website Natural Cycles describes the app-based system as “93% effective under typical use” — a finding that’s based on a clinical study it conducted of more than 22,000 of its users. The investigation by Sweden’s MPA began around eight months ago, after a number of users in Natural Cycle’s home market had reported unwanted pregnancies to a local hospital — which then reported the app to the regulator. The Natural Cycles
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Uber fires up its own traffic estimates to fuel demand beyond cars

If the whole map is red and it’s a short ride, maybe you’d prefer taking an Uber JUMP Bike instead of an UberX. Or at least if you do end up stuck bumper-to-bumper, the warning could make you less likely to get mad mid-ride and take it out on the driver’s rating. This week TechCrunch spotted Uber overlaying blue, yellow, and red traffic condition bars on your route map before you hail. Responding to TechCrunch’s inquiry, Uber confirmed that traffic estimates have been quietly testing for riders on Android over the past few months and the pilot program recently expanded to a subset of iOS users. It’s already live for all drivers. The congestion indicators are based on Uber’s own traffic information pulled from its historic trip data about 10 billion rides plus real-time data from its drivers’ phones, rather than estimates from Google that already power Uber’s maps. If traffic
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The iPhone SE was the best phone Apple ever made, and now it’s dead

I only wanted one thing out of 2018’s iPhone event: a new iPhone SE. In failing to provide it Apple seems to have quietly put the model out to pasture — and for this I curse them eternally. Because it was the best phone the company ever made. If you were one of the many who passed over the SE back in 2015, when it made its debut, that’s understandable. The iPhone 6S was the latest and greatest, and of course fixed a few of the problems Apple had kindly introduced with the entirely new design of the 6. But for me the SE was a perfect match. See, I’ve always loved the iPhone design that began with the 4. That storied phone is perhaps best remembered for being left in a bar ahead of release and leaked by Gizmodo — which is too bad, because for once the product
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The iPhone XR shows Apple admitting 3D Touch is a failure

Remember 3D Touch? Unless you’re a power iOS user you probably don’t. Or, well, you’d rather not. It’s been clear for some time now that the technology Apple lauded at its 2015 unveiling as the “next generation of multi-touch” most certainly wasn’t. For the mainstream iPhone user it’s just that annoying thing that gets in the way of what you’re actually trying to do. What Apple actually made with 3D Touch is the keyboard shortcut of multi-touch. Aka a secret weapon for nerds only. Pro geeks might be endlessly delighted about being able to learn the secrets of its hidden depths, and shave all-important microseconds off of their highly nuanced workflows. But everyone else ignores it. Or at least tries to ignore it — until, in the middle of trying to do something important they accidentally trigger it and get confused and annoyed about what their phone
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Facebook rolls out photo/video fact checking so partners can train its AI

Sometimes fake news lives inside of Facebook as photos and videos designed to propel misinformation campaigns, instead of off-site on news articles that can generate their own ad revenue. To combat these politically rather than financially-motivated meddlers, Facebook has to be able to detect fake news inside of images and the audio that accompanies video clips. Today its expanding its photo and video fact checking program from four countries to all 23 of its fact-checking partners in 17 countries. “Many of our third-party fact-checking partners have expertise evaluating photos and videos and are trained in visual verification techniques, such as reverse image searching and analyzing image metadata, like when and where the photo or video was taken” says Facebook product manager Antonia Woodford. “As we get more ratings from fact-checkers on photos and videos, we will be able to improve the accuracy of our machine learning model.” The goal
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Snapchat enlists 20 partners to curate Our Stories from submissions

Themed collections of user generated content chosen by news publishers for viewing on and off Snapchat are the teen social network’s next great hope for relevance. Today Snap launches Curated Our Stories with the help of 20 partners like CNN, Cosmopolitan, Lad Bible, and NowThis. Instead of sifting through and selecting submissions to Our Story all by itself around events, holidays, and fads, these publishers can create slideshows of Snaps about whatever they want. They’ll both be featured in Snapchat Discover that sees 75 million Our Stories viewers per month, but also on the publishers’ own properties thanks to Snap’s embeds that have been underused since their January launch.
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