eBay today announced a new update for its iOS and Android apps, aimed at further simplifying the item listing process. The headlining feature of the update is a new barcode scanner, allowing sellers to quickly scan the box of an item (if they still have it), select a condition, and click "list your item."
The barcode scanner will automatically populate the listing with all of the requisite details (images, description, suggested starting price), and the process can be finished "within seconds," according to eBay. If you don't have the item barcode you can still search for it by typing in a description, which should populate the listing at around the same rate as the barcode scanner.
eBay's announcement states the streamlined update is aimed at new sellers who aren't yet familiar with the service's in-depth listing options.
“At eBay, we’re dedicated to delivering a seamless and efficient selling experience for both first-time and seasoned sellers alike,” says Kelly Vincent, eBay’s VP of Consumer Selling Product & Engineering.
“This latest update continues to leverage eBay’s structured data, which helps catalogue the 1.1+ billion items on the platform, to instantaneously populate product details, pricing and shipping information in the listing flow. Not only does the catalogue facilitate a superior listing experience, it enables buyers to easily find the great deals offered by our sellers. This is one of many enhancements we’ll be making this year. We’ll continue to leverage structured data and new technology developments to help our sellers ‘get it sold.’”
Late last year eBay updated its search function with the ability for users to find items on its marketplace by taking pictures. Using computer vision technology powered by AI, Image Search lets buyers snap a picture or upload one from their iOS device's Camera Roll to find similar results based on their image.
More recently in 2018, eBay announced major changes that will be coming to its online marketplace regarding how buyers and sellers exchange money. The company's three-year plan is to phase out its partnership with PayPal and eventually make Amsterdam-based payments company Adyen its "primary partner for payments processing globally."
Verizon today announced the evolution of its existing "FamilyBase" parental controls product into "Smart Family," a redesigned app that lets parents track screen time, set content filters, monitor whereabouts, and more.
With the Verizon Smart Family app, parents can instantly pause the internet to manage their kids' screen time, check the battery status of their phone, and look at a summary of their text and call activity. Usage limits can be set by reducing access to texts, calls, and data, and what the parent deems inappropriate can be blocked with content filters for websites and apps.
There is also a location tracking feature with alerts that push to the parent's smartphone, notifying them when their kid arrives or leaves a specified location.
“Being a parent in today’s digital world can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be,” said Susie Fernandes, senior product manager at Verizon. “We created Verizon Smart Family to give parents the tools they need to help them raise tech savvy kids with a healthy and responsible approach to screen time and content viewing.”
Verizon Smart Family is available to download for free [Direct Link], but eventually requires a monthly subscription to access its features. The two subscription tiers include an entry level $4.99/month option that lacks location tracking and alerts, and a $9.99/month Premium plan with all features included (a 30 day free trial is available for Premium as well).
Smartphone over-use has become an increasingly debated topic in the past few months, with Apple investors urging the company to do more to protect its younger users from device addiction. Soon after, Apple said that new and "robust" parental controls would be coming, and such features are now rumored to be one of the major updates to iOS 12 this fall.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has touched upon the topic as well, discussing in an interview earlier this year how he has "put some boundaries" on his nephew's smartphone use. He continued: "There are some things that I won't allow; I don't want them on a social network."
Sleep Cycle, a popular and highly downloaded alarm clock and sleep tracking app available for the iPhone, today announced a new Apple Watch app that introduces more features for an even better waking up experience. With the Sleep Cycle for Apple Watch, Sleep Cycle users can enable "snore stopper" and silent wake up options.
Sleep Cycle uses "sound analysis technology" to detect when someone is snoring, subtly alerting them with a silent vibration sent to the Apple Watch for a more restful night of sleep. The company says that this will "not cause you to wake up," but instead simply encourage you to change position and stop snoring.
Additionally, the app has a silent wake up function that taps you with haptics to wake you from sleep and avoid disturbing anyone else nearby. Sleep Cycle will also continuously track your heart rate average, providing data that you can revisit when you wake up.
Available from today, Sleep Cycle’s Apple Watch app release features a snore stopper, a welcomed added feature. In addition to the snore tracker, already available in the existing Sleep Cycle alarm clock app using patented sound analysis technology. Snoring is more likely to occur in certain positions. For example, sleeping on your back can cause your tongue and soft palate to collapse to the back of your mouth.
The Sleep Cycle snore stopper uses the silent haptics function of the Apple Watch to gently nudge your wrist when it detects snoring. The alert will not cause you to wake up. But it will have you change position without knowing it and stop snoring. Much like the old trick of sewing tennis balls onto the back of your pajama shirt. No more snore means better quality sleep – for both the snorer and to the delight of potential roommates.
Sleep Cycle on iPhone also uses the same sound analysis technology that tracks snoring to detect movement in an effort to distinguish different sleep phases and provide information on sleep length and quality. This information, which can be viewed on either iPhone or Apple Watch, is used to determine the best time to wake a sleeping person up in the morning, with the aim of cutting down on grogginess by waking people up during the lightest sleep phase.
Sleep Cycle on Apple Watch follows a few sleep tracking apps that have been popular on the App Store, including Sleep++ (which updated recently with automatic sleep tracking), Pillow, and AutoSleep. For Sleep Cycle, the app is free to download and has a collection of features for free, while other features can be added on with a "premium" subscription at $29.99/year.
Beddit is another well-known sleep monitor app, which was acquired by Apple about a year ago. Beddit's sleep tracking data is accumulated using a thin, flexible sensor -- sold for $149.95 on Apple.com -- that provides detailed sleep analysis in areas like respiration, temperature, movement, snoring, and more. Apple's acquisition of Beddit hinted at potential implementation of similar sleep tracking technology in a future Apple Watch, but as of yet the company has not launched a wearable device with built-in sleep analysis features.
Sleep Cycle is available to download for free on the App Store [Direct Link].
Anyone who uses Apple Pay to checkout in the McDonald's iOS app on a Friday in April will have the opportunity to get free Medium fries with their order. The offer for a free side of fries is Apple's latest promotion for Apple Pay, and customers have two more Fridays to take advantage of it: April 20 and April 27.
The McDonald's promotion is valid only with a minimum $1 purchase (excluding tax), is available to each user once per week, and can only be used with Mobile Order & Pay at participating McDonald's. With this feature, customers can place their order in the McDonald's app, pay using Apple Pay during checkout, and then head to their local McDonald's to pick up their food.
The promotional email also touts Apple Pay's support in other fast food restaurants, including KFC, Pizza Hut, and Subway. Within apps, Apple reminds users that they can order ahead in Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, and Jimmy John's. Lastly, the company mentions Apple Pay Cash as a way for users to split lunch orders with friends.
Optimized for mobile, the trailers ape the look of Snapchat and Instagram Stories, appearing as circular icons on the app's main screen and playing back in a vertical format on iPhones. Netflix offered its rationale for the feature in a blog post on its website:
Today, we are excited to introduce mobile previews (launching today on iOS and coming soon to Android) to the mobile experience. Mobile previews present members with a fun, simple, and easy way to learn about all the new content on Netflix -- and find something great to watch even faster.
Years of testing has made it clear that video previews help our members browse less and discover new content more quickly. With the launch of mobile previews, we are bringing a video browse experience to your mobile phone in a fun and mobile-optimized way.
While watching a trailer, users can tap to play the content being previewed, get more information on it, or add it to their Watch Later list. Tapping the video or swiping across it also skips to another trailer without having to return to the main screen.
The company introduced video previews to its TV and web interface last year, but Netflix says around a fifth of all viewing occurs on mobile devices, which is why previews will be a permanent feature of the app going forward. Currently in the list are 75 custom-crop previews for both original and licensed content, with Netflix expected to add more in future.
Netflix exceeded Wall Street expectations this week by adding 7.4 million new subscribers between January and March, giving it a total of 125 million paying subscribers worldwide – far more than Amazon and Hulu.
The service is now available in 190 countries, and users of the streaming service can expect a crop of new television shows from around the world to debut this year, including a six-part British series called The English Game, a look into the invention of football, written by the creator of Downton Abbey. Netflix says several newly announced movies will also be added in 2018, along with new seasons of existing series, such as Glow.
A new version of Drafts, the simple note-taking app from Agile Tortoise, was released today. Drafts 5 stays faithful to its predecessor's primary goal of allowing users to quickly jot down text, thoughts, ideas, and notes, and builds on these functions by introducing a ground-up rewrite of the app with a raft of new features and customization options.
Agile Tortoise has opted to release Drafts 5 as a standalone app, which means it doesn't replace Drafts 4, but installs alongside it, allowing users to migrate previous drafts, actions and keyboard customizations from the earlier app.
Once they've done that, long-time users will find a raft of new interface theming options, like the ability to switch between light and dark modes, and granular control of a host of draft appearance settings in the new editor. These include the ability to adjust margins, line height, line numbering, auto-correct, smart quotes/dashes, and more.
Drafts 5 also introduces new organization options with multiple tags, which can be used to filter the draft list and queries for all inbox, archived, and flagged drafts. A new Focus mode disables the automatic creation of new drafts after a specific time period, allowing users to continue adding to drafts long after they were first created. Siri integration is another new addition in this version, so users can add a note to Drafts by just using their voice.
Elsewhere, there's enhanced support for inline syntax highlighting for several different types of markup, interactive to-dos, drag and drop support, multiple extended keyboards for grouping actions into categories, a new Action Directory, and automated backup. Small changes have also been made to improve the Apple Watch complication of Drafts 5, which allows dictation and note-taking from the wrist, as well as flagging and tagging of drafts.
The comprehensive list of changes and improvements can be found on the GetDrafts.com website. Drafts for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch is a free download on the App Store [Direct Link], while Drafts Pro is a universal subscription ($20 per year / $2 per month) that unlocks more features. These include themes, custom icons, editing of actions, saving workspaces and more. According to the developer, Draft 4 will continue to be supported and available, so users can choose to migrate to Drafts 5 if and when they feel they are ready.
3D Touch is a feature that's been around since the 2015 release of the iPhone 6s, and it's become an integral gesture system on all of Apple's latest iPhones.
Though it's been around for a while, there are several hidden and less obvious 3D Touch gestures that you may have forgotten or might not be aware of, especially if you don't use the feature often. In our most recent YouTube video and in the guide below, we've highlighted some of the most useful and lesser known 3D Touch gestures.
Whenever you're typing something using the default iOS keyboard on the iPhone, if you 3D Touch, the keyboard turns blank and morphs into a trackpad that allows you to quickly move the cursor on the screen through the text you've written.
This is a useful gesture that allows you to make quick edits without having to reach up and tap the display.
If you hold the cursor over a word for a short length of time, you can also use it to select text for deleting multiple words, copying and pasting, formatting, and other purposes.
You can use this cursor gesture in Mail, Notes, Messages, and more on 3D Touch-enabled devices running iOS 11.
In Control Center on devices running iOS 11, you can 3D Touch on almost all of the included icons to get additional control options and shortcut access.
Some of the available options are listed below:
Wi-Fi - 3D Touch the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth box to get additional options for AirDrop and Personal Hotspot.
Music - 3D Touch for additional Music control options both for the iPhone and for connected devices that include HomePod and Apple TV.
Brightness - 3D Touch the brightness control to see a larger slider and to access options for Night Shift and True Tone.
Volume - 3D Touch to see a larger slider.
Flashlight - 3D Touch to change the brightness of the rear flash, aka the "Flashlight." There are four brightness levels.
Timer - 3D Touch to choose a timer length using a built-in slider bar.
Calculator - 3D Touch to copy your last result.
Camera - 3D Touch to access quick options for taking a selfie, recording a video, recording a Slo-mo video, or taking a portrait.
Home - 3D Touch to access controls for your favorite scenes and accessories.
Screen Recording - 3D Touch for options that include screen recording to camera roll or Facebook, turning the microphone on and off, and starting a recording.
Wallet - 3D Touch for a shortcut to your default credit or debit card and an option to access your last transaction.
Notes - 3D Touch to access shortcuts to create a new note, a new checklist, a new photo, or a new sketch.
Remote - 3D Touch for a full Apple TV Remote interface.
Prioritizing App Downloads
When you're downloading a bunch of updates from the App Store, if you 3D Touch on an app that's pending, you can force it to download first. This is useful if you're stuck with an app that's loading but need to access it quickly.
You can also cancel downloads and pause downloads with this feature.
Bonus: In the App Store itself, if you 3D Touch on the icon, you can update all of your apps with a quick tap that doesn't require actually opening up the App Store app and navigating to the Updates tab. There are also shortcuts for accessing your purchased apps, redeeming a gift card or promo code, and conducting a search. Note: The "Update All" icon doesn't seem to appear reliably at all times, which may be due to a bug.
Previewing, Sharing, and Saving Photos
In the Photos app, if you 3D Touch on a thumbnail, you can see a preview of the image without needing to tap to open it, which is known as a Peek and Pop gesture. Swipe up after the initial 3D Touch to get access to options to copy a photo, share a photo, favorite a photo, or show additional photos from the same day.
You can use this same gesture in Safari and other apps that have images, such as Messages, Mail, and Apple News. For example, 3D Touch on an image in Safari, swipe upward, and you'll see options to save the image to your camera roll or copy it. Make sure to 3D Touch and then immediately swipe, because if you continue to hold down it will initiate a full "pop" gesture which eliminates the quick save option.
Bonus: 3D Touch on the Photos app icon to get access some fun and useful shortcuts to your most recent photos, your favorite photos, photos from one year ago, or a search interface.
Third-Party App Shortcuts
Apple made 3D Touch available to third-party developers, and there are now hundreds of popular apps that have incorporated it, offering up new options on compatible iPhones.
3D Touch, for example, enables pressure sensitive drawing and writing in note taking and sketching apps, and it's even been incorporated as a control method in some games. Blackbox, Asphalt 8: Airborne, and BADLAND 2 are all examples of games that incorporate 3D Touch in some way.
On a more basic level, most apps have Home screen shortcuts accessible using 3D Touch. Instagram, for example, lets you access the camera, create a new post, view activity, or switch accounts using 3D Touch options, while Facebook has shortcuts for things like scanning a QR code, searching, or writing a post.
Many apps also support 3D Touch gestures in app. For example, within Instagram or Facebook, 3D Touch on a thumbnail or a link for a preview of the content. These kind of Peek and Pop gestures have been built into quite a few third-party apps for a consistent usage experience on devices that support 3D Touch.
3D Touch-Compatible Devices
3D Touch continues to be a feature that's limited to the iPhone, and it's enabled through a built-in Taptic engine included in every generation since the iPhone 6s. 3D Touch is available on the following iPhones:
iPhone 6s Plus
iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 8 Plus
3D Touch can do a whole lot more than what's included in this guide, and the best way to discover everything is liberal use of the feature. 3D Touch on third-party app icons to see what shortcuts are available, 3D Touch within apps to see if there are built-in 3D Touch gestures, and give it a try in all of Apple's apps, most of which have been built with 3D Touch integration.
Use 3D Touch in apps Messages, Safari, and Mail on links and photos to preview content with Peek and Pop or to find new sharing options, and 3D Touch on notifications to get more information.
Have a favorite 3D Touch gesture that we didn't cover in the guide? Let us know in the comments.
Apple today released a new update for Safari Technology Preview, the experimental browser Apple first introduced more than two years ago in March of 2016. Apple designed the Safari Technology Preview to test features that may be introduced into future release versions of Safari.
Safari Technology Preview release 54 includes bug fixes and feature improvements for Clipboard API, Beacon API, Web API, WebRTC, and Web Inspector.
Apple's aim with Safari Technology Preview is to gather feedback from developers and users on its browser development process. Safari Technology Preview can run side-by-side with the existing Safari browser and while designed for developers, it does not require a developer account to download.
When Apple first announced its ARKit developer platform, one of the examples it gave was an image that showed someone playing Dejarik, a holographic board game from the Star Wars universe. The game has been available in an augmented reality experience on the iOS "Star Wars: Jedi Challenges" app [Direct Link], but it required pieces of hardware -- namely the Lenovo Mirage AR headset -- that currently costs $149.99.
This week Disney updated the Jedi Challenges app with ARKit support, removing the requirement of a Lenovo Mirage AR headset and letting anyone with an iPhone or iPad running iOS 11 play Dejarik Holochess for free (via Gizmodo UK). ARKit users are able to access the full Holochess game mode, with 18 levels taking place across six planets and including eight unlockable creatures with unique abilities. Lenovo says that Holochess mode includes around two to three hours of gameplay.
Star Wars: Jedi Challenges adds ARKit compatibility with this update. Users with an Apple device running iOS 11 can now experience the magic of augmented reality directly from their mobile device. Access the full Holochess game mode from Star Wars: Jedi Challenges including 18 levels across 6 planets and 8 unlockable creatures with unique special abilities.
Last month, Sensor Tower reported that iPhone and iPad owners worldwide have downloaded more than 13 million ARKit-only apps since the platform launched in September 2017. Games remain the dominant category for ARKit-only apps -- defined as "expressly using" Apple's framework, unlike Jedi Challenges -- having grown from representing 35 percent of downloads one month after iOS 11's launch, to 47 percent today.
Back in January, Apptopia claimed that developer use of ARKit had slowed down since it debuted in September, with growth steadily declining since the official launch. Apptopia's numbers suggested that 300 ARKit-related apps launched in September, around 200 came out in October, and 156 were released in November. The number climbed above 160 for December, but developers are said to still be figuring out the best use cases for augmented reality in general, with many ARKit-enabled apps designated as either games with AR modes attached onto them, entertainment and photo apps, or utilities.
Although ARKit has removed the need for a headset in Holochess mode, anyone who wants to partake in Star Wars: Jedi Challenge's Lightsaber Battles and Strategic Combat games will still need the Mirage headset. While Jedi Challenges is also available for Android smartphones, support for Google's ARCore has not yet been announced.
Just under two years after launching on the iOS App Store, Opera this week announced that its free "Opera VPN" app will be permanently discontinued as of April 30, 2018. Opera's virtual private network app masks the user's true IP address and allows them to bypass firewalls, block tracking cookies, change their virtual location to unlock geo-specific content, and more.
At the end of April, the app will be shuttered on both the iOS and Android App Stores, but the company noted that it aims to "make sure your privacy is still looked after" following Opera VPN's discontinuation. This mainly refers to users who were paying for Opera Gold on mobile, which introduced a Tracker Blocker, 10 additional regions, increased speeds, and dedicated customer support for $29.99/year.
These subscribers will have the option to redeem a free one year subscription to SurfEasy's Ultra VPN and migrate all of their data from Opera to SurfEasy, a company that Opera acquired in 2016. Even those who don't have an Opera Gold plan will have the chance to obtain an 80 percent discount on SurfEasy's entry level Total VPN tier. In terms of pricing, SurfEasy's Ultra plan is currently priced at $6.49/month and the Total plan is $3.99/month.
This is a free upgrade for Opera Gold users, as SurfEasy Ultra offers unlimited usage on up to five devices, access to 28 regions and a strict no-log policy. SurfEasy is also available on more platforms, currently supporting Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Amazon devices. Users will be able to enjoy world-class customer support, too. Opera Gold users will be able to migrate within the latest version of the Opera VPN iOS app.
In regards to the closure, Opera said: "All of us here at Opera VPN (including Olaf) are sincerely grateful for all your support over the last couple of years, and we're sorry for any inconvenience this may cause." Opera will still have its main web browser available for Mac users, including a built-in ad blocker and VPN.
Apple Music has seen a consistent rise in subscriber numbers over the past year, with the streaming music service's fastest growth yet -- hitting 40 million subscribers -- coming just this month. According to Macquarie Capital analyst Ben Schachter, Apple Music will keep up its progress and average 40 percent growth each year over the next three years (via The Wall Street Journal).
Schachter explains that while Apple Music will continue to be a solid performer for Apple, music streaming royalties will prevent it from becoming Apple's most profitable service.
The rub, of course, is that music streaming isn’t a terribly profitable business, due mostly to the royalties streamers must pay to labels and artists. Mr. Schachter estimates that Apple Music commands a gross margin of around 15%. That is actually lower than the 24% that Spotify projects for this year. But even if Apple’s margins in music equaled that of its rival, they remain well below what the company makes by selling apps made by other developers. Mr. Schachter estimates that the latter commands gross margins of about 90%.
In other words, while music may be a key component to Apple’s growth, apps are far more vital to the company’s healthy bottom line. When it comes to services, Apple needs to get its playlist mix just right.
Still, the analyst's projections mark Apple Music as the "fastest-growing" service in Apple's services segment, which includes platforms like iTunes, the App Store, iCloud, Apple Pay, and AppleCare. In the company's upcoming quarterly earnings report on May 1, total services revenue is predicted to hit $8.3 billion for the second fiscal quarter, up 18 percent year-on-year. In the first fiscal quarter of 2018 Apple's services saw revenue of $8.5 billion, up 18 percent from 2017 and setting an all-time quarterly revenue record.
Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said earlier this year that Apple's services category will be the company's main revenue driver over the next five years. While iPhones will make up 22 percent of revenue growth through 2023, Huberty predicted that services will contribute more than 50 percent of Apple's total revenue growth over the same time period.
For Apple Music, the service's growth is believed to soon eclipse Spotify within the United States in terms of paid subscribers. A report from February said Apple Music was growing at a pace of about 5 percent monthly (which would total a faster annual growth than Schachter's prediction), compared to Spotify's 2 percent clip. According to these growth rates, Apple Music is expected to surpass Spotify in paid U.S. subscribers as soon as this summer. Spotify last updated its paid subscriber count in December 2017, marking 71 million users.
Facebook this week shared a blog post explaining "new privacy experiences" that will be available on the social network, in compliance with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), coming into effect on May 25. Facebook originally detailed part of its plan for GDPR-related privacy features back in January, and is now following through in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The rollout will begin in Europe this week, but the company described the update as being "for everyone on Facebook," and it'll begin expanding worldwide "on a slightly later schedule." In the new blog post, Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan explained that users will be asked to make choices about multiple aspects of the social network from now on, including ads, profile data, and face recognition.
As soon as GDPR was finalized, we realized it was an opportunity to invest even more heavily in privacy. We not only want to comply with the law, but also go beyond our obligations to build new and improved privacy experiences for everyone on Facebook. We’ve brought together hundreds of employees across product, engineering, legal, policy, design and research teams. We’ve also sought input from people outside Facebook with different perspectives on privacy, including people who use our services, regulators and government officials, privacy experts, and designers.
Facebook will ask its users to review information about advertising based on partner data, such as websites and apps that use business tools like the Like button. They will be able to decide if they want Facebook to use data from partners to show them these type of ads or not.
For profile information, users that have opted into sharing political, religious, and relationship information will be asked whether to continue sharing this data, and if they want Facebook to use it. The update will make it easier to delete these personal tidbits from profiles as well.
Face recognition has been on Facebook in most parts of the world for about six years, allowing the service to detect when other profiles might be trying to use someone's profile image, among other features. Egan said that specifically in the EU and Canada, face recognition will return but be defaulted to an off state, and users will have the choice to turn it on. For everyone on Facebook, Egan explained that this feature is still "entirely optional" no matter where the user is located.
This week's blog post explained that these requests -- including an updated terms of service and data policy -- will have specific details relevant only to people in the EU, although "the substance" of the policy remains the same globally. As the update launches around the world, the company will "present the information in the ways that make the most sense for other regions."
Otherwise, Facebook users will also start to see new Settings and Privacy shortcuts around the world this week, allowing them to more easily check their data, delete it, or easily download and export it. The social network is also focusing on protecting teenagers with multiple GDPR compliant features that will be launching worldwide. These include limited advertising, disabling face recognition, defaulting audience options for posts to friends only, and more.
MacRumors attracts a broad audience
of both consumers and professionals interested in
the latest technologies and products. We also boast an active community focused on
purchasing decisions and technical aspects of the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac platforms.