iOS

Apple slapped with $6.6M fine in Australia over bricked devices

Posted by | Apple, apple inc, Australia, consumer rights, Error 53, Gadgets, iOS, iPad, iPhone, lawsuit, Mobile, operating system | No Comments

Apple has been fined AUS$9M (~$6.6M) by a court in Australia following a legal challenge by a consumer rights group related to the company’s response after iOS updates bricked devices that had been repaired by third parties.

The Australian Competitor and Consumer Commission (ACCC) invested a series of complaints relating to an error (‘error 53’) which disabled some iPhones and iPads after owners downloaded an update to Apple’s iOS operating system.

The ACCC says Apple admitted that, between February 2015 and February 2016 — via the Apple US’ website, Apple Australia’s staff in-store and customer service phone calls — it had informed at least 275 Australian customers affected by error 53 that they were no longer eligible for a remedy if their device had been repaired by a third party.

Image credit: 70023venus2009 via Flickr under license CC BY-ND 2.0

The court judged Apple’s action to have breached the Australian consumer law.

“If a product is faulty, customers are legally entitled to a repair or a replacement under the Australian Consumer Law, and sometimes even a refund. Apple’s representations led customers to believe they’d be denied a remedy for their faulty device because they used a third party repairer,” said ACCC commissioner Sarah Court in a statement.

“The Court declared the mere fact that an iPhone or iPad had been repaired by someone other than Apple did not, and could not, result in the consumer guarantees ceasing to apply, or the consumer’s right to a remedy being extinguished.”

The ACCC notes that after it notified Apple about its investigation, the company implemented an outreach program to compensate individual consumers whose devices were made inoperable by error 53. It says this outreach program was extended to approximately 5,000 consumers.

It also says Apple Australia offered a court enforceable undertaking to improve staff training, audit information about warranties and Australian Consumer Law on its website, and improve its systems and procedures to ensure future compliance with the law.

The ACCC further notes that a concern addressed by the undertaking is that Apple was allegedly providing refurbished goods as replacements, after supplying a good which suffered a major failure — saying Apple has committed to provide new replacements in those circumstances if the consumer requests one.

“If people buy an iPhone or iPad from Apple and it suffers a major failure, they are entitled to a refund. If customers would prefer a replacement, they are entitled to a new device as opposed to refurbished, if one is available,” said Court.

The court also held the Apple parent company, Apple US, responsible for the conduct of its Australian subsidiary. “Global companies must ensure their returns policies are compliant with the Australian Consumer Law, or they will face ACCC action,” added Court.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on the court decision and will update this post with any response.

A company spokeswoman told Reuters it had had “very productive conversations with the ACCC about this” but declined to comment further on the court finding.

More recently, Apple found itself in hot water with consumer groups around the world over its use of a power management feature that throttled performance on older iPhones to avoid unexpected battery shutdowns.

The company apologized in December for not being more transparent about the feature, and later said it would add a control allowing consumers to turn it off if they did not want their device’s performance to be impacted.

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Google brings offline neural machine translations for 59 languages to its Translate app

Posted by | Android, Apps, artificial intelligence, deep learning, Google, Google Translate, iOS, Languages, Mobile, mobile app, Translation | No Comments

Currently, when the Google Translate apps for iOS and Android has access to the internet, its translations are far superior to those it produces when it’s offline. That’s because the offline translations are phrase-based, meaning they use an older machine translation technique than the machine learning-powered systems in the cloud that the app has access to when it’s online. But that’s changing today. Google is now rolling out offline Neural Machine Translation (NMT) support for 59 languages in the Translate apps.

Today, only a small number of users will see the updated offline translations, but it will roll out to all users within the next few weeks.

The list of supported languages consists of a wide range of languages. Because I don’t want to play favorites, here is the full list: Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Belarusian, Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujarati, Haitian, Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Jannada, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Marathi, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese and Welsh.

In the past, running these deep learning models on a mobile device wasn’t really an option since mobile phones didn’t have the right hardware to efficiently run them. Now, thanks to both advances in hardware and software, that’s less of an issue and Google, Microsoft and others have also found ways to compress these models to a manageable size. In Google’s case, that’s about 30 to 40 megabytes per language.

It’s worth noting that Microsoft also announced a similar feature for its Translator app earlier this year. It uses a very similar technique, but for the time being, it only supports about a dozen languages.

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Apple introduces the AI phone

Posted by | AI, Apple, artificial intelligence, iOS, iOS 12, iOS at WWDC 2018, Mobile, siri, wwdc, WWDC 2018 | No Comments

At Apple’s WWDC 2018 — an event some said would be boring this year with its software-only focus and lack of new MacBooks and iPads — the company announced what may be its most important operating system update to date with the introduction of iOS 12. Through a series of Siri enhancements and features, Apple is turning its iPhone into a highly personalized device, powered by its Siri AI.

This “new AI iPhone” — which, to be clear, is your same ol’ iPhone running a new mobile OS — will understand where you are, what you’re doing and what you need to know right then and there.

The question now is will users embrace the usefulness of Siri’s forthcoming smarts, or will they find its sudden insights creepy and invasive?

Siri Suggestions

After the installation of iOS 12, Siri’s Suggestions will be everywhere.

In the same place on the iPhone Search screen where you today see those Siri suggested apps to launch, you’ll begin to see other things Siri thinks you may need to know, too.

For example, Siri may suggest that you:

  • Call your grandma for her birthday.
  • Tell someone you’re running late to the meeting via a text.
  • Start your workout playlist because you’re at the gym.
  • Turn your phone to Do Not Disturb at the movies.

And so on.

These will be useful in some cases, and perhaps annoying in others. (It would be great if you could swipe on the suggestions to further train the system to not show certain ones again. After all, not all your contacts deserve a birthday phone call.)

Siri Suggestions will also appear on the Lock Screen when it thinks it can help you perform an action of some kind. For example, placing your morning coffee order — something you regularly do around a particular time of day — or launching your preferred workout app, because you’ve arrived at the gym.

These suggestions even show up on Apple Watch’s Siri watch face screen.

Apple says the relevance of its suggestions will improve over time, based on how you engage.

If you don’t take an action by tapping on these items, they’ll move down on the watch face’s list of suggestions, for instance.

AI-powered workflows

These improvements to Siri would have been enough for iOS 12, but Apple went even further.

The company also showed off a new app called Siri Shortcuts.

The app is based on technology Apple acquired from Workflow, a clever — if somewhat advanced — task automation app that allows iOS users to combine actions into routines that can be launched with just a tap. Now, thanks to the Siri Shortcuts app, those routines can be launched by voice.

Onstage at the developer event, the app was demoed by Kim Beverett from the Siri Shortcuts team, who showed off a “heading home” shortcut she had built.

When she tells Siri she’s “heading home,” her iPhone simultaneously launched directions for her commute in Apple Maps, set her home thermostat to 70 degrees, turned on her fan, messaged an ETA to her roommate and launched her favorite NPR station.

That’s arguably very cool — and it got a big cheer from the technically minded developer crowd — but it’s most certainly a power user feature. Launching an app to build custom workflows is not something everyday iPhone users will do right off the bat — or in some cases, ever.

Developers to push users to Siri

But even if users hide away this new app in their Apple “junk” folder, or toggle off all the Siri Suggestions in Settings, they won’t be able to entirely escape Siri’s presence in iOS 12 and going forward.

That’s because Apple also launched new developer tools that will allow app creators to build directly into their own apps integrations with Siri.

Developers will update their apps’ code so that every time a user takes a particular action — for example, placing their coffee order, streaming a favorite podcast, starting their evening jog with a running app or anything else — the app will let Siri know. Over time, Siri will learn users’ routines — like, on many weekday mornings, around 8 to 8:30 AM, the user places a particular coffee order through a coffee shop app’s order ahead system.

These will inform those Siri Suggestions that appear all over your iPhone, but developers will also be able to just directly prod the user to add this routine to Siri right in their own apps.

In your favorite apps, you’ll start seeing an “Add to Siri” link or button in various places — like when you perform a particular action — such as looking for your keys in Tile’s app, viewing travel plans in Kayak, ordering groceries with Instacart and so on.

Many people will probably tap this button out of curiosity — after all, most don’t watch and rewatch the WWDC keynote like the tech crowd does.

The “Add to Siri” screen will then pop up, offering a suggestion of voice prompt that can be used as your personalized phase for talking to Siri about this task.

In the coffee ordering example, you might be prompted to try the phrase “coffee time.” In the Kayak example, it could be “travel plans.”

You record this phrase with the big, red record button at the bottom of the screen. When finished, you have a custom Siri shortcut.

You don’t have to use the suggested phrase the developer has written. The screen explains you can make up your own phrase instead.

In addition to being able to “use” apps via Siri voice commands, Siri can also talk back after the initial request.

It can confirm your request has been acted upon — for example, Siri may respond, “OK. Ordering. Your coffee will be ready in 5 minutes,” after you said “Coffee time” or whatever your trigger phrase was.

Or it can tell you if something didn’t work — maybe the restaurant is out of a food item on the order you placed — and help you figure out what to do next (like continue your order in the iOS app).

It can even introduce some personality as it responds. In the demo, Tile’s app jokes back that it hopes your missing keys aren’t “under a couch cushion.”

There are a number of things you could do beyond these limited examples — the App Store has more than 2 million apps whose developers can hook into Siri.

And you don’t have to ask Siri only on your phone — you can talk to Siri on your Apple Watch and HomePod, too.

Yes, this will all rely on developer adoption, but it seems Apple has figured out how to give developers a nudge.

Siri Suggestions are the new Notifications

You see, as Siri’s smart suggestions spin up, traditional notifications will wind down.

In iOS 12, Siri will take note of your behavior around notifications, and then push you to turn off those with which you don’t engage, or move them into a new silent mode Apple calls “Delivered Quietly.” This middle ground for notifications will allow apps to send their updates to the Notification Center, but not the Lock Screen. They also can’t buzz your phone or wrist.

At the same time, iOS 12’s new set of digital well-being features will hide notifications from users at particular times — like when you’ve enabled Do Not Disturb at Bedtime, for example. This mode will not allow notifications to display when you check your phone at night or first thing upon waking.

Combined, these changes will encourage more developers to adopt the Siri integrations, because they’ll be losing a touchpoint with their users as their ability to grab attention through notifications fades.

Machine learning in photos

AI will further infiltrate other parts of the iPhone, too, in iOS 12.

A new “For You” tab in the Photos app will prompt users to share photos taken with other people, thanks to facial recognition and machine learning.  And those people, upon receiving your photos, will then be prompted to share their own back with you.

The tab will also pull out your best photos and feature them, and prompt you to try different lighting and photo effects. A smart search feature will make suggestions and allow you to pull up photos from specific places or events.

Smart or creepy?

Overall, iOS 12’s AI-powered features will make Apple’s devices more personalized to you, but they could also rub some people the wrong way.

Maybe people won’t want their habits noticed by their iPhone, and will find Siri prompts annoying — or, at worst, creepy, because they don’t understand how Siri knows these things about them.

Apple is banking hard on the fact that it’s earned users’ trust through its stance on data privacy over the years.

And while not everyone knows that Siri is does a lot of its processing on your device, not in the cloud, many do seem to understand that Apple doesn’t sell user data to advertisers to make money.

That could help sell this new “AI phone” concept to consumers, and pave the way for more advancements later on.

But on the flip side, if Siri Suggestions become overbearing or get things wrong too often, it could lead users to just switch them off entirely through iOS Settings. And with that, Apple’s big chance to dominate in the AI-powered device market, too.

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Apple is releasing iOS 11.4 with support for Messages in iCloud, AirPlay 2 and more

Posted by | AirPlay, Apple, HomePod, imessage, iOS, messages, Mobile | No Comments

Apple this afternoon will officially release the latest version of its iOS software for your iPhone and iPad, iOS 11.4, which at last adds support for Messages in iCloud, along with other new features, including most notably, AirPlay 2 and an update that allows two HomePod speakers to work together as a stereo pair.

Messages in iCloud was first announced a year ago at WWDC 2017 as a way of keeping conversations up-to-date across all your Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac. Its introduction means you’ll now be able to access your entire Messages history when you set up a new Apple device, and, when you delete a message from one device, that change syncs to all your devices.

In addition to the benefit of being able to access your entire conversation history, Messages in iCloud will be especially helpful to those who tend to save their all their conversations, but have a device without a lot of storage.

Typically, this has led to those conversations taking up a sizable amount of space – sometimes even gigabytes of storage, thanks to all the photos and attachments that are shared across iMessage these days. With Messages in iCloud, however, everything – including attachments – are stored in iCloud, which frees up local storage space for other things – like music downloads, videos, podcasts, books and apps, for example.

The messages are also end-to-end encrypted for security purposes. They’re protected with a key derived from information unique to the device, combined with the device passcode – which only the device owner should know. That means no one else could access or read the data.

The Messages in iCloud feature had first appeared in early betas of iOS 11 last summer, but was later pulled before the iOS public release. It later popped up again in the iOS 11.3 beta, but it was unclear when Apple would launch it, given that it had been left out of earlier iOS releases, despite all the beta testing.

Today, the feature will roll out to all users, via iOS 11.4.

Also new in iOS 11.4 are features focused on media and entertainment, including the launch of AirPlay 2 and support stereo pair for HomePod.

AirPlay 2 allows you to stream your music or podcasts in your home to different devices, all in-sync. You can play music in any room from any room, move music from one room to another, or play the same song everywhere using an iOS device, HomePod, Apple TV, or by asking Siri. For example, you could say, “Hey Siri, play jazz in the kitchen,” while continuing to have different music played in another room. You can also adjust the volume across all devices (“Hey Siri, turn the volume up everyone”), or play or stop music across devices. 

A number of speaker manufacturers are already committing to support AirPlay 2, including Bang & Olufsen, Bluesound, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Denon, Libratone, Marantz, Marshall, Naim, Pioneer and Sonos.

The previously announced support for HomePod stereo pairs, meanwhile, lets you add a second HomePod to a room and create a stereo pair which play left and right channel content separately. The HomePod devices will automatically detect and balance with each other, and detect their place in the room in order to offer a better sound.

Apple has been positioning its speaker to better compete with more high-end audio systems, like Sonos or Bose. Stereo pair support will allow it to better compete on that front, but device sales could be held back by those who prefer Amazon’s Alexa assistant, which ships on the Sonos One, to Apple’s Siri.

HomePod is also arriving in new markets beyond the U.S., U.K. and Australia with a June 18 launch in Canada, France and Germany.

Calendar support is also arriving for HomePod with iOS 11.4, along with the usual bug fixes and performance tweaks. However, calendar support won’t arrive in Canada, France and Germany until later in the year.

You can check for the iOS update from the Settings app, under “General –> Software Update.” HomePod owners can update from the Home app. The update is expected to arrive at 10 AM PT.

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Apple’s App Store redesign improved app discovery, report finds

Posted by | app discovery, app-store, Apple, Apps, developers, iOS, iOS apps, Mobile, sensor tower | No Comments

When Apple introduced its completely redesigned App Store last fall, one of its goals was to improve app discovery by placing a larger emphasis on editorial content – including things like “app of the day” picks, lists, how-to’s and even interviews with app developers, among other things. Now, a new study from Sensor Tower reveals those changes appear to have been working.

According to Sensor Tower’s findings, more apps are being discovered by way of browsing the App Store following the redesign launched in September.

Before, browse-driven downloads accounted for around 10 percent of all downloads. With the new App Store, they’ve grown to more than 15 percent. And that increase has held steady into 2018, even as the initial excitement around the App Store revamp has worn off.

Despite the growth in app discovery by browsing, searching for app by typing keywords into the search box is still, by far, the primary way consumers are finding and downloading new apps. Today, search accounts for 65 percent of downloads – well ahead of browse, referrals, or other methods.

Sensor Tower based its findings on data collected on app downloads between May 2017 and April 2018, it says.

The report also delved into the differences between how consumers discover apps and games.

As it turns out, browsing plays a much more significant role in game discovery than it does for non-game apps. Only 56 percent of game downloads came from search, compared with 69 percent for non-games. Meanwhile, browse contributed to 24 percent of game downloads, compared to just 9 percent of non-game downloads.

What this seems to indicate is that iOS users are turning to the App Store and its editorial recommendations in greater numbers to learn about what new game to try next. Plus, the fact that games can now include a video preview, and labels like “Editor’s Choice” are better highlighted in the new App Store also likely help people get a better sense of which ones to install, as they browse.

Sensor Tower’s findings about game downloads line up with research released last month where it found that games that were featured as the “Game of the Day” could see their downloads increase by 802 percent, compared to the week prior to being featured. Apps, by comparison, saw boosts of 685 percent.

The new report’s findings are good news for Apple which had a sizable challenge to tackle with its App Store redesign. Its app marketplace had grown almost over-crowded over the years. And even after the big app cleanup, it still stands at over 2 million apps. Finding a way to better introduce favorites and newcomers to iOS users at this scale was a tall order, but the growth in apps discovered by way of browsing indicates Apple has seen some success on this front. 

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iOS will soon disable USB connection if left locked for a week

Posted by | Apple, Gadgets, iOS, iPhone, law enforcement, Mobile, privacy, Security | No Comments

In a move seemingly designed specifically to frustrate law enforcement, Apple is adding a security feature to iOS that totally disables data being sent over USB if the device isn’t unlocked for a period of 7 days. This spoils many methods for exploiting that connection to coax information out of the device without the user’s consent.

The feature, called USB Restricted Mode, was first noticed by Elcomsoft researchers looking through the iOS 11.4 code. It disables USB data (it will still charge) if the phone is left locked for a week, re-enabling it if it’s unlocked normally.

Normally when an iPhone is plugged into another device, whether it’s the owner’s computer or another, there is an interchange of data where the phone and computer figure out if they recognize each other, if they’re authorized to send or back up data, and so on. This connection can be taken advantage of if the computer being connected to is attempting to break into the phone.

USB Restricted Mode is likely a response to the fact that iPhones seized by law enforcement or by malicious actors like thieves essentially will sit and wait patiently for this kind of software exploit to be applied to them. If an officer collects a phone during a case, but there are no known ways to force open the version of iOS it’s running, no problem: just stick it in evidence and wait until some security contractor sells the department a 0-day.

But what if, a week after that phone was taken, it shut down its own Lightning port’s ability to send or receive data or even recognize it’s connected to a computer? That would prevent the law from ever having the opportunity to attempt to break into the device unless they move with a quickness.

On the other hand, had its owner simply left the phone at home while on vacation, they could pick it up, put in their PIN and it’s like nothing ever happened. Like the very best security measures, adversaries will curse its name while users may not even know it exists. Really, this is one of those security features that seems obvious in retrospect and I would not be surprised if other phone makers copy it in short order.

Had this feature been in place a couple of years ago, it would have prevented that entire drama with the FBI. It milked its ongoing inability to access a target phone for months, reportedly concealing its own capabilities all the while, likely to make it a political issue and manipulate lawmakers into compelling Apple to help. That kind of grandstanding doesn’t work so well on a seven-day deadline.

It’s not a perfect solution, of course, but there are no perfect solutions in security. This may simply force all iPhone-related investigations to get high priority in courts, so that existing exploits can be applied legally within the seven-day limit (and, presumably, every few days thereafter). All the same, it should be a powerful barrier against the kind of eventual, potential access through undocumented exploits from third parties that seems to threaten even the latest models and OS versions.

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Leaked iPhone pics show glass back and headphone jack

Posted by | Apple, apple inc, Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, computing, electronics, Gadgets, iOS, iPad, iPhone, iphone 5s, major, technology, wireless earbuds | No Comments

The headphone jack could still have a future in an iPhone. These leaked pics show an iPhone SE 2 with a glass back and headphone jack. Like the current iPhone SE, the design seems to be a take on the classic iPhone 5. I dig it.

The leak also states the upcoming device sports wireless charging, which puts it in line with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

Rumors have long stated that Apple was working on an updated iPhone SE. The original was released in March 16 and updated a year later with improved specs. With a 4-inch screen, the iPhone SE is the smallest iPhone Apple offers and also the cheapest.

WWDC in early June is the next major Apple event and could play host for the launch of this phone. Last month, around the iPhone SE’s birthday, Apple held a special event in a Chicago school to launch an education-focused iPad. It’s logical that Apple pushed the launch of this new iPhone SE to WWDC to give the iPad event breathing room.

While Apple cut the headphone jack from its flagship devices, the SE looks to retain the connection. It makes sense. The low-cost iPhone is key for Apple in growing markets across the world where the last two models helped grow iOS’s market penetration. This is Apple’s low-cost offering and thus suggests Apple doesn’t expect buyers to also spring for its wireless earbuds.

If released at WWDC or later in the year, the iPhone SE looks to serve consumers who enjoy smaller phones with headphone jacks. That’s me.

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Apple releases iOS 11.3 with new Animojis

Posted by | Apple, Apps, Gadgets, iOS, ios 11.3, Mobile | No Comments

Apple just released an iOS update for your iPhone and iPad. 11.3 introduces a ton of bug fixes but also a bunch of new features. If you forgot about Animjois, today is your lucky day as Apple is adding four new Animojis — a dragon, a bear, a lion and a skull.

But that’s not all. Apple already shared a preview of iOS 11.3 a couple of months ago. There’s a big ARKit update to ARKit 1.5. It can recognize more objects and surfaces.

And iOS 11.3 is also the battery update we’ve all been waiting for. There’s some new info in the settings about the status of your battery. It tells you the overall capacity and if it’s time to change your battery.

You can also choose to disable Apple’s controversial decision to throttle performance with old batteries. Apple says it’s a beta feature for now.

Apple is also introducing a new feature in the Health app. You can now centralize all your health records in the app. It’s only limited to a handful of clinics for now.

Apple is adding customer support conversations to Messages. You can initiate a conversation with a business to order something, book a table and more. Discover, Hilton, Lowe’s and Wells Fargo are already on board. Health Records and Business Chats are only available in the U.S. as a beta for now.

You’ll also see a new privacy icon across the operating system. A new website to export all your data is coming in May as well. Apple needs to add those features to comply with GDPR.

Finally, Apple Music is getting a new video clips section, the App Store Updates tab now shows you the size of each update and more tiny little things. And if you care about security, it’s always a good thing to update to the latest version of iOS. Unfortunately, iOS 11.3 still doesn’t include iMessage in iCloud.

Back up your iPhone or iPad to iCloud or your computer using iTunes before updating. You can then head over to the Settings app, then ‘General’, then ‘Software Update’. macOS, watchOS and tvOS updates are also available today.

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Google Play audiobooks get Smart Resume, bookmarks and Assistant routines support

Posted by | Android, Apps, audiobooks, Google, Google Play, iOS, Mobile | No Comments

Google Play Audiobooks is getting a major update today that adds a number of new features to the service that were sorely missing when it launched earlier this year. None of these are groundbreaking, but they’ll help Google reach feature parity with some of its competitors while injecting a bit of its proprietary smarts into the process, too.

Maybe the most useful new feature in today’s release is Smart Resume. Instead of picking up in the middle of a sentence or even word when your audiobook playback gets interrupted (maybe by Google Maps giving you directions or a friendly passerby who is asking for directions while you are clearly listening to an audiobook). Depending on the length of the interruption, this new feature will smartly rewind to the beginning of the word or sentence to help you stay in the flow.

Also new in this update are the ability to set bookmarks so you can easily go back to your favorite part of a book and the ability to speed up the audio — or slow it down so you can really savor your favorite passage in Ulysses. Both of these features were definitely missing in the first release.

If you’re a regular Google Assistant user and are already making use of the recently launched Routines feature, you’ll be happy to hear that you can now choose to continue your audiobooks when you wake up or start your commute.

And if you have family that’s spread around the world, you’ll be happy to hear that support for Google’s Family Library, which allows you to share Google Play purchases like apps, games, movies, e-books and audiobooks, is now rolling out in 13 new countries: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Chile, Mexico, Japan (audiobooks only) and South Africa.

All of these new features are now available on iOS and Android.

 

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Hide 3D paintings anywhere with AR app Artopia

Posted by | Android, Apps, Art, augmented reality, iOS, Mobile | No Comments

Public places may soon be filled with secret pieces of art unlocked by looking through the lens of AR, if Artopia’s cheerily creative app catches on. It essentially lets you geocache your 3D scribbles so anyone else can find, appreciate and share them.

Artopia, currently in beta for Android and iOS, is a straightforward combination of AR painting and real-world discovery. You make your art by selecting brushes, colors and so on and moving your phone as you would the brush. Grab objects and move them around, attach them, etc.

When you’re done, save it and its precise location is saved to Artopia’s service. Now anyone passing by will be able to see it (a map shows nearby creations) and who made it, give it a like and maybe draw some complementary work nearby.

It’s simple (in concept, not in execution), but also a thoroughly pleasant and natural combo. Of course, there also will be a report button in case someone draws a fence of phalluses around your house (for example), and the usual caveats of crowd-sourced content and moderation apply.

Artopia was created by Kuwaiti developer Omar Khalil, so the density of art might be a bit higher around the American University of Kuwait. But if this sounds like something you’re into, apply to get into the beta and start filling the parks and streets around your neighborhood with color and shape.

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