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July 7th, 2017

Yik Yak's final days

tech, yik yak, app
source: The Daily Dot

The anonymous chat app Yik Yak accounced Friday that the company will be closing its services for good.

At its peak, the app was valued at $400 million and reached into the top 10 most downloaded apps in 2014, the year of its release. Yik Yak was able to gain a large following of users usually in the high schooler range.

After its heyday, the app began seeing a decline is users and a rise in anonymous bullying and harassment, adding to controversy about its use around schools and subsequently caused it to be banned in some areas.

As Yik Yak continued to collapse, in December 2016 the company had laid off 60% of their employees. The app kept obtaining bad revivews in the app store, where at the time of the lay offs, dropped below the top 1,500 most downloaded apps.

As the app comes to a close, there is not much to say about what is next for company as a whole, but some of their engineers will be joining the tech giant Square in their Atlanta office.

In their final announcement, the company states that they will be "tinkering around with what’s ahead for our brand, our technology, and ourselves."

Update, 3:00 p.m. Saturday 8th: The Yik Yak blog is now down.

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June 29th, 2017

10 years of iPhone

tech, apple, iphone

Today marks the 10th anniversary of Apple's iPhone. The iPhone has gained 2 inches in screen real estate from its initial release and more than doubled it's talk time in the latest iteration. While the first iPhone had a whopping 4- or 8-gigabyte storage options (later the next year adding a 16-gigabyte options), now customers can choose between 32-, 128-, and 256-gigabytes.

Going from a single-core 412 MHz processor to a quad-core 2.3 GHz process and from 128 MB of onboard RAM to 3 GB, the iPhone has greatly increased its speed in the last 10 years. With the first iPhone selling around 6.1 million units over its lifetime, the iPhone 7/7 Plus has sold over 78.3 million and counting.

Getting the grainy yet acceptable photographs from the first iPhone is overshadowed by the iPhone 7 Plus' 3 cameras set up. Now boasting a dual 12-MP rear camera (with an f/1.8 aperture and one telephoto with a f/2.8 aperture) and a 7 MP front-facing camera. The first iteration of iPhone came in one look, now the latest generation coming in 5 bold colors.

The iPhone has seen many changes over its lifetime and can be seen as one of the best-selling smartphones on the market. As Apple innovate to stay in the race with the ever growing popular Samsung Galaxy phones, they need to pull something big off to make a splash.

What's Next

Though nothing is concrete yet, the 'iPhone 8' leaks seem to paint a very pretty picture of what we might see in the near future. Yesterday OnLeaks and Tiger Mobile released a video showing what they believe to be the next iPhone to be released. The video shows many of the previously leaked features and design.

source: OnLeaks and Tiger Mobile

The main complaint that is seen throughout the iPhone blogosphere with all the leaks is that the camera bump is still present, with some even saying that the latest OnLeaks/Tiger Mobile leaks would be a perfect iPhone if it wasn't for the bump.

Apple has also made some interesting patents in the recent months. Some of these patents include wireless charging of the iPhone through cases using millimeter wave technology 1, optical 3D mapping that is generated by the surface of an object (i.e. hologram technology) 2, virtual 3D UI that focuses on the position of the user's eyes to make for better viewing angles 3, Siri-to-Siri communication 4, and many more.

Apple is hard at work on creating the next big breakthrough on what is possible with technology, and though we are a few months away from learning the actual design and specs of the 'iPhone 8', these leaks are promising. Through all the success of the iPhone from generation to generation and each coming evolution, it's exciting to see what Apple has in store for the next 10 years.

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June 21st, 2017

Snap Map: Snapchat's new location sharing feature

tech, snapchat, apps
(source: snapchat.com)

Today Snapchat released what they are calling, Snap Map. This feature will allow users to share their location with other users that opted into sharing their location. Once the user gives the go-ahead for this feature when pinching two fingers (as if to zoom out) on the camera view, users will be greeted with this new feature and shown their Bitmoji on a map in their actual location.

Users will have the ability to opt out of this if they decide they do not want to share their location with their friends, this is called Ghost Mode, or anyone can select which of their friends can view this. Snapchat notes that users location is only updated when the app is opened, meaning there will be no background updates or tracking.



After a few hours of having your location shown to friends, it will disappear. Snap Map also shows anyone's location that is contributing to the "Our Story" feature. A spokesperson told The Verge, “These Snaps are sorted using advanced machine learning techniques that aim to surface interesting Snaps that are also safe and fun for our community.”

Snap Map is being rolled out to users soon on iOS and Android. Other new updates to Snapchat is the new tools, AR lenses, unlimited snap timer, and looping videos. Updates are rolling out quicker due to the ever growing battle between Instagram and Snapchat to become the best photo sharing application. Who will win?


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June 5th, 2017

WWDC 2017 Summary

tech, apple, news

It is that time a year again when Apple hosts their all-eyes-on-me event, WWDC. With hopes of a new iPhone and a fully redesigned iOS, here is what made talks at the Keynote.

macOS High Sierra (10.13)

(source: Apple.com)

Though not many physical changes to the OS, High Sierra brings a lot of new features under the hood. Since 1998, Macs have been using the HFS+ file system to store and organize files and documents. Last year's WWDC Apple announced a new system called, who'd have guessed, Apple File System (APFS). This year, it comes to macOS.

APFS makes the move to an advanced 64-bit architecture, bring better security with built-in encryption and as Apple VP Craig Federighi demoed at the Keynote, will cut down heavily on copying times.

The Photos app is one of the most used Apple apps on the Mac, but with High Sierra, we gain a whole new level of editing. Some of these features that will change this application for the better are new built-in tools, such as curves, color dropper, and new filters, smarter organization, and adds a new Memories category.

iOS 11

(source: Macrumors.com)

This new version of iOS includes a large number of improved and new features. With new improvements to Siri and Messages, here's what we learned.

First of all, Control Center was completely redesigned. You now have a single page of toggles that when 3D Touched let you do certain tasks. 3D Touch on the flashlight icon and you are given 4 different, easily useable lighting modes, 3D Touch on the Music player and you get a bigger, better view of what is play.

On top of the usual Control Center functions, you can now add many others such as an AppleTv Remote, a toggle for Low Power Mode, a built-in screen recorder, and much more.

The Lock Screen and Notification Center are combined now. When swiping down into the Notification Center it will bring you to what looks like the Lock Screen with missed notifications. Swiping down farther, you can view the rest of your notifications.

(source: Apple.com)

Next up, Siri. She (and her male counterpart) gained a more natural sounding voice. With changes in emphasis, pitch, and tempo, Siri now has a very 'lifelike' sound to her. Along with a new voice, she can translate a few languages, French, Chinese, German, Italian, and Spanish, and assumed, more to come soon.

Additionally, Siri uses on-device learning to enhance user experiences and suggestions in other applications such as Safar, Mail, and Messages.

Messages gained a bit of a redesign in terms of the app drawer which makes it easier to send stickers and to access messaging apps. It also now has person-to-person payments with Apple Pay and two new full screen text effects, Spotlight and Echo.

A new feature called Do Not Disturb While Drive will help you pay attention to the road. When enabled will mute all incoming notifications and will auto-reply to people to let them know you are driving.

Speaking of driving, Apple Maps can now show you indoor maps of certain malls and airports around the world and will now give you lane guidance features.

In Apple Music, users can create a playlist that friends can access and add their own music to without stopping what's currently playing and ruining a parties vibe.

Some smaller updates that still deserve recognition are Live Photos gain new options to Loop, Bounce, and Long Exposure. When taking a photo in iOS 11, the new High-Efficiency Image File Format will help cut down on the image size to save space. The new AirPlay2 gives the ability to have multi-room audio. Apple also released ARKit SDK, which will help developers create better AR experiences, games, and applications. AirPod users can now change the double tap feature to allow them to go forward or backwards a track. And there is even a "secret" Dark Mode hidden in the Accessibility settings.

On top of all that, the iPad gets its own additional features. This includes a new customizable Dock where frequently used apps and even documents can live. iPad users can swipe up from the bottom while in any application and get the Dock to show.

Multi-tasking is even better on iOS 11, with better Spilt View and Slide Over functions and the new App Switcher makes it so you can quickly view everything you have up. With the ability to drag-and-drop between apps, this will surely boost productivity on the iPad.

With Apple Pencil, you can now tap on the Lock Screen and instantly create a new drawing or idea in the Notes app.

With new features added to Messages, tons of new customizable areas, and the bold look to the App Store, iOS 11 shows that small changes to design and bolder fonts can change the look and feel of how the whole OS.

watchOS 4

(source: Apple.com)

With a new OS version comes a new set of watch faces. The Siri gives you a personalized suggestion based information that helps you stay on time and productive throughout the day. The Kaleidoscope face gives a trippy effect when you rotate the Digital Crown, and there are three new Toy Story faces, Woody, Jessie, and Buzz Lightyear.

The Activity and Workout apps gained the ability to notify you if you are close to achieving your goal for the day and a new ability to use NFC tags on gym equipment to maximize your workout.

The Music app and the dock interface have both been redesigned, and there is a new News app for watchOS.

tvOS 11

(source: Gizbot.com)

Thought this version of tvOS is not as glamor as the other Apple OS', it still comes with a few nice features.

In tvOS 10, Apple introduced a new Dark Mode that will help dim some of the bright light that comes from a television at night time, in tvOS 11 there is a new option that will allow users to have it automated based on location.

Home Screen Sync seemed to be taken away in tvOS 10, but in this update is brought back. Home Screen Syn gives the user the ability to have the home screen layout sync in iCloud.

Just like its iOS counterpart, tvOS will receive AirPlay2 and its multi-room audio. AirPlay also gains a change in Access Control settings where the user may give permission to anyone in range of the TV or just users on the Wi-Fi. Along with this, it gives the security feature to pick between making other users sign in with no passcode, a one-time passcode, or always have the user use passcode.

HomePod and iMac Pro

Apple also announced some hardware both to be shipped in December.

The first of which they hope to take on Amazon's Echo and Sonos. This $349 speaker, smart-home controller is called the HomePod. It uses spacial awareness to maximize sound quality in a room and also has a built-in Siri "Musicologist" that can tell you what song is playing and to turn on your lights. HomePod can also be used as an anchor for home automation while you are out of the house.

The other hardware, when spec'ed out, is a gnarly 18-core processor, 5K displayed, 16GB of VRAM, 4TB for SSD storage, and 128GB of data corruption-protecting ECC RAM called the iMac Pro. Also featuring 10Gb Ethernet, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, and keeps the SD card slot. Apple states this is not only the most powerful iMac ever made, it is the most powerful MAC every made, even outranking the Mac Pros.

The iMac Pro is scheduled to ship in December starting at $4,999.

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February 14th, 2017Written for: The Ball State Daily

Why the iPhone 8 may cost more than $1000

tech, apple, iphone

Apple is a company that likes to price their devices relatively high. With some people posting concerns about the new Macbook Pro prices, the rumors of the max out spec’d upcoming iPhone 8 will be over $1000. This will be Apple’s 10th-anniversary iPhone and the successor to the iPhone 7 Plus, which when spec’d out was roughly over $950.

According to Fast Company, changing to an OLED display will most likely double the screen costs from the current LCD display. On top of that, they expect the iPhone 8 to include a “bigger battery” and some incorporation of “3D-sensing technology”.

Our source says Apple has been working with Lumentum on 3D-sensing technology for the new high-end phone. … It could be used to recognize the user’s face for authentication. It could also be used in the camera to provide better image resolution.
According to MacWorld, other new features that may come with this device could be a curved display, similar to the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, wireless charging, and the possibly of three different models, with them stating that “one model will sport a 5.5-inch OLED screen and a dual camera. One will have a 5.5-inch LCD screen, also with a dual camera. The third will be a 4.7-inch iPhone with an LCD screen and a single camera system.”

Last November, Apple released the Apple Watch 2. With many improvements over its successor, they added a variation with a white ceramic finish. Some rumors claim that this may come to the new iPhone. Cult Of Mac explaining why a ceramic iPhone may be in the works saying that the coating will yield fewer scratches will help disperse heat better and will give a new set of colors to pick from.

The iPhone 8 is expected to be announced fall of 2017. As it gets closer to the drop date, more and more rumors will continue to come out. With the possible high price tag, Apple may see a drop in sales, but if rumors are true, the new features may bring on new customers.

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June 13th, 2016

WWDC 2016 Summary

tech, apple, news

Today, Apple hosted their annual WWDC conference. With talks of new OS versions, Siri improvements, and even new iPhone and Macbook hardware, here are some of the major key announcments that were made.

macOS Sierra (10.12)

(source: Apple.com)

As they drop the “X” for a much more elegant “mac”, quite a bit was updated for this iteration of macOS.

Continuity was key for a lot of the updates, with Auto Unlock, which gives you the ability to unlock your Macbook automatically with your Apple Watch, and Universal Clipboard, where you can now copy from iPhone and it will be pastable on your Macbook.

iCloud added cross platform desktop and there is now a feature called Optimize Storage where they put old files into the cloud or even deleting unused files.

Siri is also being added to macOS. You can now search files, photos, web, and even have Siri play a song for you through Apple Music.

Some smaller updates were to Apple Pay where you can now authenticate purchase through Touch ID on your iPhone or Apple Watch on your Macbook, a new tab features with apps, and Picture-in-picture.

iOS 10

iOS 10 (source: Apple.com)

Next to macOS, iOS is the big talk tonight with some major updates and changes to things like Siri, Maps, and Messages.

The first big change you’d notice when opening iOS 10 is when you lift the iPhone up, it wakes up. Raise To Wake helps with being able to see your notifications before the “Touch-ID-acted-too-fast-to-read-notification” problem people were once having. Along with that, notifications and almost all of the lock screen has been redesigned. Notifications are in little bubbles and you can interact with them via 3D Touch. When you slide from the right you will see Widgets, that were once in the Today view in the notification bar, and sliding left will bring up the camera. Now to unlock your phone you push the home button.

Both Siri and Maps developer kits were released which will bring new 3rd party functionality to both. Photos added some new features such as facial/object recognition and a new Memory tab where you can see old trips, dates, and people you have photos of. The Phone app will now have voicemail transcripts and caller ID to not answer those pesky spam calls.

Maps, Music, and News have all been redesigned. With Maps having better proactive search and navigation features with traffic on route and the ability to show you how long a stop at McDonald’s will add on to your daily commute. Music adding Lyrics and new discovery and daily curated playlists and News having Breaking new notifications and you can now subscribe to your favorite news organizations, such as the New York Times.

By far the biggest update was to Messages. Adding things like Rich Links, where they show photos and previews from the links, new bubble effects, where you can send cute messages with “invisible ink” or send a LOUD text with bigger font, and adding a lot of new features to Emojis. Apple made a big deal about how they are now 3 times larger for some reason and showed predictive Emojis and “Emoji-fy” which was when you click on the Emoji keyboard and it highlights words that can be used in place of Emojis. Other features are Handwritten messages and iMessage apps, which are pretty much what Facebook Messenger has been added as of late.

watchOS 3

watchOS 3 (source: Apple.com)

After a year of being out, Apple was able to figure out what they did good and bad with this wearable. With the version 3 coming out, Apple is able to fix a lot of the annoyances and make the Apple Watch much more streamline.

Most changes were to the functionality or adding new watch faces, but one of the most needed changes was to the speed. Apple has now made the Apple Watch preform 7 times faster.

Some changes to the layout of the watch screen is with Control Center, just like it’s older iOS brother, swiping up from the bottom you get a settings panel that was once hidden in the card feed before. They also added a Dock. This is replacing the quick contact button, below the digital crown, with a new live app preview page where you can see your favorite apps.

Apple added a feature called Scribble. This is a much needed way to respond to others on your Apple Watch. An area pops up where you can draw each letter to spell out words.

SOS was announced and can help save lives. This adds ability to call for help if something is wrong. This can be used when you hold down the power button and the SOS button will be there. Once pressed your Apple Watch will call 911 straight from your watch (either through wifi or cellular network), send locations to your emergency contacts and also will show your medical ID.

Other notable changes were new Watch faces; Minnie Mouse, Activity will show you your activity on the face, Numeral is a very clean a minimalistic face, and now you can swipe on the watch faces to change between each face you have. There was also changes to the Fitness app. They added Activity Sharing so you can share your stats with your friends to see who is keeping with their daily fitness goals. Apple also added the new Breathe app that helps lead you through deep breaking exercises.

tvOS 10

tvOS 10 (source: Apple.com)

Improvements come in the form of new addons with tvOS 10. Adding new apps, Siri functionality, and Dark Mode.

Some of the new apps that will be making an appearance soon are Sling, Fox Sports Go, Molotov, Photos and some games like NBA 2K, Minecraft, and Sketch Party. Something else we see coming is an updated Remote app for iOS. This app will basically do everything the Siri Remote does (even use the accelerometer to play games) but on your iPhone and oh, you can use the iOS keyboard to put in text.

Siri will be improved as well. Bring voice search for YouTube and topic search where you can now say things like “Find me new videos by Casey Neistat.” or “Find me superhero movies from 2002.”

Other notable add-ons are Single Sign ON, where you sign in once to your service provider and not need to sign in again into each app, and Dark Mode, where you will no longer damage your eyes by the bright white background at 4 in the morning when you’re binging on Netflix.

(source: Apple.com)

With everything that has been announced today, I have to say; I’m pleased. I believe there is tons of great new improvements and redesigns that could make the user experience much better.

Now all that we have to do is wait for the new hardware to be announced.

*fingers crossed*
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