Tag Archives: Tech Insider

The creator of Android has finally unveiled his new phone

essential phone andy rubin

The creator of Android has finally unveiled the new smartphone he has been working on.

On Tuesday, Andy Rubin unveiled the first smartphone from Essential, his new company, after months of teasing.

It’s an Android device that packs some interesting features, and is clearly intended to go head-to-head with the top smartphones from Apple and Samsung.

The first thing you notice in photos of the high-end PH-1 device is the screen: It takes up almost the entire front face, so close to the edge it even curves around the selfie camera.

Another notable feature: It’s modular. It has magnetic connectors on the back of the device, which lets you attach accessories, including a 360-degree camera that can be ordered alongside the main phone.

Speaking of ordering — it costs $749 to reserve it, unlocked and with 128GB of internal storage, along with the 360-degree camera. For just the phone, it’ll cost $699. But unfortunately for international customers, it’s only available in the US to begin with.

essential andy rubin

Along with that 128GB of internal storage, it packs 4GB of RAM, and a Qualcomm 835 processor. 

It’s casing is titanium and ceramic, and it comes in four colours — “Black Moon” (glossy black), “Stellar Grey” (matte dark grey), “Pure White” (glossy white), and “Ocean Depths” (a glossy green with bronze sides). 

The screen is a hefty 5.7-inches — even larger than the 5.5-inch screen on the iPhone 7 Plus, but the relative lack of bezels on it means it has a smaller footprint than you’d expect. The rear camera is 13MP, while the front-facing selfie camera is 8MP. Both shoot 4K video.

essential andy rubin

All in all, this is definitely a premium device, and an interesting one at that — intended to go after the high-end customers who typically buy the likes of Samsung and Apple devices. (It even compares itself to them directly when showing how its titanium body can withstand a drop test.) The big question is whether it can manage it. 

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NOW WATCH: 16 keyboard shortcuts only Mac power users know about

Microsoft Office 2010
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Google DeepMind shifting its focus from board games to scientific breakthroughs (GOOG)

Demis Hassabis DeepMind

DeepMind — an artificial intelligence (AI) lab acquired by Google for £400 million in January 2014 — is growing up.

The research company announced over the weekend that one of its most celebrated research teams will stop focusing on board games and instead start putting their efforts into developing general algorithms that scientists can use to help solve real world problems.

These include:

  • finding new cures for diseases
  • dramatically reducing energy consumption
  • or inventing revolutionary new materials

These new algorithms have the potential to provide Google parent company Alphabet with new revenue sources. Until now, DeepMind has been given the freedom to pursue its research without having to focus on revenues. 

DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis and lead AlphaGo programmer David Silver wrote in a coauthored blog post: “If AI systems prove they are able to unearth significant new knowledge and strategies in these domains too, the breakthroughs could be truly remarkable. We can’t wait to see what comes next.”

The AlphaGo team is home to some of DeepMind’s most impressive computer scientists and several of them have worked on papers that have made the front cover of Nature, an academic journal held in high regard by scientists worldwide.

DeepMind already has teams working on healthcare and energy so it’s likely that the AlphaGo researchers will simply start working more closely with the existing units.

The AlphaGo AI became famous last year after beating world champion Lee Sedol 4-1 in a five game match. AlphaGo beat its second world champion in China last week at the Future of Go Summit in Wuzhen, thrashing Ke Jie 3-0.

Chinese Go player Ke Jie puts a stone against Google's artificial intelligence program AlphaGo during their first match at the Future of Go Summit in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

“This week’s series of thrilling games with the world’s best players, in the country where Go originated, has been the highest possible pinnacle for AlphaGo as a competitive program,” wrote Hassabis and Silver. “For that reason, the Future of Go Summit is our final match event with AlphaGo.”

DeepMind plans to publish publish a final academic paper later this year that will detail the improvements it made to the algorithms’ efficiency and potential to be generalised across a broader set of problems.

Hassabis and Silver added: “We have been humbled by the Go community’s reaction to AlphaGo, and the way professional and amateur players have embraced its insights about this ancient game. We plan to bring that same excitement and insight to a range of new fields, and try to address some of the most important and urgent scientific challenges of our time. We hope that the story of AlphaGo is just the beginning.”

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NOW WATCH: Here’s why Steve Wozniak used to wait in line overnight for new Apple products

Microsoft Office 2010
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Apple is stepping up its war to steal Android customers (AAPL, GOOG)

apple android advert photos google iphone

Apple is trying to steal away Google’s customers.

The tech company has launched a new campaign aimed at trying to persuade people using an Android phone to give it up and buy an iPhone.

It’s reminiscent of Apple’s iconic ad campaign mocking the performance of Microsoft’s Windows compared to Macs — but this time round, it’s Google in the crosshairs.

On Monday, Apple released three new adverts on YouTube, on the back of five last week. (We saw them first on 9to5Mac.) They’re short — around 15 seconds a pop — and each focus on a single issue — security, or performance, speed, or transferring photos. The overriding message each time is the same: You get a better experience on an iPhone, and it’s easy to switch platforms. (You can watch them below.)

They won’t run on television, but appear well-suited as pre-roll ads to pop up before videos on YouTube and other social media sites.

Apple has also got another weapon in this attack. On May 22, it launched a dedicated website that aims to persuade people to switch — Apple.com/switch. It answers questions they might have — “Will it be easy to switch to iPhone?”, or “Will iPhone be easy to use?” — and finishes with a link to buy an iPhone.

“There’s no need to save your stuff elsewhere before switching from Android,” Apple tells the potential customers. “Just download the Move to iOS app from the Google Play Store and it securely transfers your content for you. That means things like your photos, videos, contacts, calendars, mail accounts, message history, and free apps — including Google Apps. And you can trade in your old smartphone, if eligible, for credit toward your new iPhone.”

iphone 7 plus rose gold hand fingerprintApple has just three apps in the Google Play Store for Android apps: Apple Music, a Beats Pill app to go with its speaker of the same name, and an app that moves users’ data across to iOS. It launched in 2015, and even suggests that users recycle their old Android phone at an Apple Store once they’re done switching.

If you’re wondering why Apple is so aggressively going after its competitors’ user-base — it’s because it needs to. As major smartphone markets mature, attracting “switchers” is increasingly important for Apple in order or to grow. CEO Tim Cook frequently now brings it up on quarterly earnings calls with investors as evidence of how well the company is doing.

“We saw the largest absolute number of switchers outside of greater China that we’ve ever seen in the same period,” Cook recently said, according to MacRumors.

Here’s the recent advert promoting the security features of the iPhone:

And here’s one emphasising how easy it is to transfer your contacts:

This one, called “Smooth,” promotes the performance of the iPhone:

Another draws attention to Apple’s focus on privacy:

You can watch the rest over on Apple’s YouTube channel »

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NOW WATCH: Chinese inventors show off the gladiator robot they want to use to challenge the US’ ‘Megabot’

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NPM 5 reworks the cache for speed, but could break existing apps

NPM, the popular JavaScript package manager, is being upgraded for better performance.

Expected to be released tomorrow, NPM Version 5.0 is two to six times faster than NPM 4, said Kat Marchan, a member of the NPM team. Other improvements include better defaults, simplified options, and better error messages.

NPM’s cache has been rewritten for speed. It also is fault-tolerant and supports concurrent access. Corrupted cache entries are automatically removed and refetched. Also, an NPM cache verify command performs garbage collection to reduce disk usage and provide integrity verification.

For reliability, NPM Version 5.0 offers better disk and network fault tolerance, an automatic offline mode, and automatic corruption recovery. New installer features include a standardized lock file for cross-package manager compatibility with package-lock.json as well as a new format and semantics for shrinkwrap.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

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Computex 2017: ASUS unveils new ROG Zephyrus for gaming, powered by Windows 10

ASUS ROG

The ROG Zephyrus delivers next-generation gaming experience for the enthusiast gamer. Built with Windows 10, these devices arrive equipped with the Xbox app and Direct X12, can take advantage of Xbox Play Anywhere and have Cortana* – your digital personal assistant who can help you complete tasks, set reminders and more – and comprehensive security with Windows Defender built-in.

Powered by the latest Intel Core i7 processor, the ROG Zephyrus gives you the gaming performance you need while also providing portability.  It also has the highest NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics (GTX 1080) for supreme visuals and is VR Ready.

The ROG Zephyrus has enhanced keyboard features with a new type of trackpad located to the right of the keyboard for ideal gaming usage that doubles as a numeric keypad.  The keyboard also has a new feature called ROG Aura that lets you customize dynamic light effects on the WASD and QWER key groups as well as the entire keyboard for customized gaming. It features ultra-slim and portable design at 0.7 inches thick and 4.85 lbs, and has special hinge design that increases air flow to cool and stable gaming marathon sessions.

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus features Sonic Studio II, an audio suite that offers 6 audio controls: Reverb, Bass Boost, Equalizer, Voice Clarity, Smart EQ (Smart Volume) and Surround.  Surround is dedicated for 2-channel headset and offers one of the best virtual surround technologies for gaming.

To learn more about everything ASUS ROG announced today, head to asus.com!

*Cortana available in select markets

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Computex 2017: Dell debuts new Inspiron AIOs and VR gaming desktop with Windows 10

Available starting today on Dell.com and at retailers in China including JD.com, and worldwide in the coming weeks, Dell’s new lineup includes the Inspiron 27 7000 AIO, the Inspiron 24 5000 AIO and the new Inspiron Gaming Desktop — the first gaming desktop to join Dell’s expanding Inspiron Gaming line-up.

Built with Windows 10, these devices arrive equipped with the Xbox app and Direct X12, and can take advantage of Xbox Play Anywhere and have your personal digital assistant Cortana* and comprehensive security with Windows Defender built-in. Let’s take a closer look at these devices:

Inspiron Gaming doubles down with first-ever gaming desktop  

Dell announced today its first-ever Inspiron Gaming desktop with Windows 10, built for gamers seeking a competitive advantage at an affordable price. The new Inspiron Gaming desktop sports the latest AMD multicore Ryzen processors featuring SenseMI, which optimizes power consumption, task routing and clock speeds to deliver exceptional responsiveness and performance whether it’s gaming, Virtual Reality or streaming.

Features of the Inspiron Gaming Desktop include:

  • Gaming-focused design touches with functional venting, thermally-optimized airflow routing, available Polar Blue LED Illumination, and easy component access
  • Power supply options up to 850 watts for supporting dual discrete graphics
  • Ready for VR configurations that support HTC and Oculus
  • High-performance discrete graphics card options including NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1060 and AMD Radeon RX580 Up to 32GB DDR4 memory
  • Advanced cooling options and Waves MaxxAudio® Pro with Performance 7.1 Channel HD audio
  • SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C™ port and up to six SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports total
  • A wide selection of high-capacity hard drives with responsive SSD and dual-drive options plus up to five bays for future storage upgrades.

Pricing and availability: Available beginning today in China on Dell.com and at select retailers and worldwide in the coming weeks starting at $599.99.

INSPIRON 27 7000 AIO with Windows 10

Designed from the ground-up as a VR and entertainment system for the home, the Inspiron 27 7000 AIO brings beauty to every single inch of the screen. Its virtually borderless InfinityEdge, 27” IPS display, with resolutions up to 4K UHD, and performance grade audio deliver an amazing visual and audio computing experience. This device ships with the best of Windows 10 – including Windows Hello with one-look login and Cortana with far-field speech recognition – as well as USB Type-C 3.1 and Dual Drive options with SSD storage. It offers the latest multi-core Ryzen AMD processors and AMD Radeon RX500 Series graphics, giving it the performance to power virtual reality, multimedia content and everything in between.

Pricing and availability: Available beginning today in China on Dell.com and at select retailers and worldwide in the coming weeks starting at $999.99.

INSPIRON 24 5000 AIO with Windows 10

The new Inspiron 24 5000 AIO is engineered for video streaming and multimedia experiences with the new SmartByte technology that helps prevent buffering when streaming content. The software detects critical network streams and prioritizes video ahead of less urgent network traffic, so videos and movies run without interruption.

With a 24” InfinityEdge IPS FHD touch display, the latest 7th Gen AMD processors and AMD Radeon RX560 graphics, this new AIO delivers powerful performance and high-graphics fidelity. It features a beautiful white, sleek design and optional articulating stand making it the ideal PC for the home or dorm. It is also equipped with Windows Hello for logging in quickly and securely, Cortana with far-field speech recognition, USB Type-C 3.1 and Dual Drive options with SSD storage.

Pricing and availability: Available beginning today in China on Dell.com and at select retailers and worldwide in the coming weeks starting at $699.99.

For more about everything announced today, head over to Dell.com!

*Cortana available in select markets

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Step aboard the USS Kearsarge, the US Navy workhorse that takes Marines into battle

USS Kearsarge amphibious assault ship US Navy

In US Navy history, just four ships have borne the name Kearsarge.

The first, a Civil War sloop, sank the CSS Alabama off the coast of France in 1864.

The next one, a battleship, sailed around the world with Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet.

The third, an aircraft carrier, recovered astronauts from the sea during Project Mercury, the US’s first human-spaceflight program.

The current USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship that docked in New York City for Fleet Week, has a lower profile, but it is no less essential to the fleet.

“We have a very special mission as opposed to your other ships of the Navy,” Lt. J.G. Christian Sedarski, a deck-division officer on the Kearsarge, told Business Insider. “We are strictly landing and bringing back Marines from the beach.”

“So the way I like to explain it is, we are a glorified hotel with a F-150 flatbed,” he added.

It also has extensive medical facilities, capable of taking in wounded troops as well as survivors of natural disasters. Its ability to hold 600 patients makes it second to only the Navy’s ready-reserve hospital ships in medical capacity.

In a display of its versatility, the Kearsarge deployed to provide flood relief in Pakistan in August 2010, steaming west six months later to support operations in Libya as part of Task Force Odyssey Dawn.

Below, you can take a tour of Kearsarge and get an up-close look at a ship that ferries Marines and their gear into battle around the world.

SEE ALSO: The Air Force put on a show of force with the A-10, and a day later it got taken off the chopping block

The Kearsarge stretches 844 feet from bow to stern with a 27-foot draft. Fully loaded, it displaces 44,000 tons and can push through the water at over 24 knots.

Deck-edge elevators, like the one seen here, lift the Kearsarge’s contingent of aircraft to the flight deck, where three cargo elevators lift supplies to meet them.

The ship rises 186 feet from waterline to top of mast. It sails with over 1,100 officers and crew and can carry about 2,000 Marines and their gear.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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The 21 best science movies and shows streaming on Netflix that will make you smarter

Michael Pollan cooked

Sometimes, the best way to spend a long weekend or a hot summer day is to curl up on the couch and enjoy a film.

If you’re looking for something entertaining and beautiful that’ll also make you knowledgeable, there’s an incredible variety of science- and nature-focused documentaries and TV episodes streaming on Netflix right now.

You can find compelling documentaries that’ll captivate you with the beauty of the planet, you can delve into the details of how food arrives on your plate, or you can explore the mysterious and alien world that exists in oceans around the globe.

But there’s a downside to all of that choice: It’s a lot to choose from. So to make it easier, we’ve asked our colleagues to pick out some of their favorites from the Netflix documentary selection.

Here are our favorites, listed in no particular order:

Films come and go from Netflix every month, but as of the date of publication, all these films should be available on Netflix.

SEE ALSO: 24 health ‘facts’ that are actually wrong

“Cooked” (2016)

What it’s about: Journalist and food expert Michael Pollan explores the evolutionary history of food and its preparation in this four-part docuseries through the lens of the four essential elements — fire, water, air, and earth. 

Why you should see it: Americans as a whole are cooking less, relying more on unhealthy, processed, and expensive and prepared foods. Pollan aims to bring viewers back to the kitchen by forging a meaningful connection to food and the joys of preparation. [Click to watch]

“Blackfish” (2013)

What it’s about: This film highlights abuses in the sea park industry through the tale of Tilikum, an orca in captivity at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. Tilikum has killed or been involved in the deaths of three people while living in the park. 

Why you should see it: This documentary opens your eyes to the troubles of keeping wild animals in captivity through shocking footage and emotional interviews, highlighting potential issues of animal cruelty and abuse when using highly intelligent animals as entertainment. Sea parks make billions of dollars off of keeping animals captive, often at the expense of the health and well-being of its animals. This documentary played a huge role in convincing SeaWorld to stop their theatrical “Shamu” killer whale shows. [Click to watch]

“Particle Fever” (2013)

What it’s about: This documentary follows six scientists as they prepare for one of the biggest and most expensive experiments in history: recreating conditions from the Big Bang with the launch of the Large Hadron Collider in Europe. Their aim is to unravel the mysteries of the universe and the origins of matter.

Why you should see it: Physics is often considered a forbiddingly dense subject, but ‘Particle Fever’ gives you a window into physics without breaking your brain. It documents the discovery of the famous Higgs boson particle that many physicists think holds the key to understanding the universe. Instead of getting bogged down with the complexities of particle physics, the film focuses more on the human drama of the discovery, and how it could change our understanding of the world around us. [Click to watch]

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Tesla’s former Autopilot head is launching a self-driving-car company — and it could have a big advantage

chris Urmson

It’s not particularly shocking to see a new startup pop up at this point in the lucrative race to develop self-driving-car tech.

But it is noteworthy to see one that boasts the star engineers behind Google’s and Tesla’s respective projects as its leaders.

Aurora Innovation is a new startup led by Chris Urmson, the former head of Google’s autonomous car team, and Sterling Anderson, the former director of Tesla Autopilot. Drew Bagnell, Uber’s former autonomy and perception lead, has also joined Aurora as CTO.

Aurora plans to develop the hardware, software, and data services necessary to build an autonomous driving platform — a similar approach to Uber and Waymo, the self-driving venture spun out of Google’s parent company.

Aurora plans to work directly with Tier 1 suppliers to design the best sensors to feed the algorithms that will create the car brain. That involves taking on tech giants when it comes to designing complex hardware like lidar, a key sensor that helps vehicles detect objects, which has become the focal point of a lawsuit between Uber and Waymo.

Aurora is still in early stages, however, and is currently hiring and collecting data with an Audi Q7.

aurora innovation audi q7

At first glance, Aurora seems to be taking the same tactic as most self-driving startups in Silicon Valley.

Automakers have spent millions on relatively unknown ventures as part of an effort to bulk up on artificial intelligence experts. The practice gives engineers the cash cushion to pursue their ideas while carmakers secure the talent necessary to compete with Tesla and Waymo on software.

But Anderson told Business Insider that Aurora is not another Cruise Automation, a driverless car startup snatched by GM for $581 million.

“We’re not for sale,” Anderson said. “We intend to enable the entire industry and we wouldn’t be able to do that if we were owned by a single OEM.”

Aurora plans to work directly with automakers through non-exclusive partnerships, Anderson said.

Aurora was officially formed in January and was operating in stealth mode until a Tesla lawsuit broke news of the venture’s existence. The lawsuit, which alleged Anderson had poached Tesla employees to work at Aurora, was settled in April.

The startup has $6.5 million so far to work with through self-funding and a small financing round. The company plans to launch a Series A at some point this year.

The self-driving-car space is getting crowded as more startups, like AutoX, jump into the ring to build a solution for automakers that desperately need the software talent.

“I think right now the industry is kind of prickly. I think there’s a lot of anxiety right now,” Anderson said.

Although some loose alliances have been formed, like Fiat Chrysler’s work with Waymo, several automakers are still looking to align with Silicon Valley to ramp up their internal autonomous driving efforts. Ford expressed such an interest when it named Jim Hackett, the executive that had been overseeing its self-driving-car efforts, as CEO of the entire company.

“Those who build cars will continue to build cars for a long time. I don’t see that changing,” Anderson said. “At the same time, expertise in software development and self-driving [is] one place where folks like our team are uniquely qualified.”

Correction: Aurora is interested in designing complex sensor systems like lidar and radar.

SEE ALSO: Panasonic is making a massive bet on electric cars — here’s why the US CEO says it’s a ‘slam dunk’ investment

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NOW WATCH: Elon Musk just revealed the final details of Tesla’s Solar Roof — here’s everything you need to know

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Apple can make the iPhone easier to use with a simple fix in iOS 11

Apple iOS control centerApple is likely to unveil the next iteration of iOS soon. That means it’s “wish list” season, a time for iPhone owners to compile all the things they’d like to see on their devices. (And then whine about if they don’t arrive.)

For me, there’s one Android-esque bit I’ve wanted since iOS 8, but remains absent today: a customizable Control Center.

For the most part, the Control Center — the little settings menu you swipe up from the bottom of the display — is a good thing. It makes it very easy to access commonly used functions; three or four button presses become a swipe and a tap. This is something any OS that sells itself on “simplicity” should strive to do.

Apple made the whole thing better-looking and more functional with iOS 10, but also a bit more complicated. One panel became three: one to toggle quick settings like WiFi and Bluetooth, one for music and media playback controls, and one with controls for smart home devices that work with Apple’s HomeKit platform.

Apple also added 3D Touch tricks for a few quick settings. Holding down on the camera icon, for instance, lets you choose if you want to launch the camera app in selfie mode, video mode, or slow-motion video mode.

Those are useful enough (though they don’t apply to everything), but the decision to put media controls in a separate window slowed that process down, and the redesign gave some icons more space than they’re worth. 

This ties into the Control Center’s big problem: its lack of user control.

As it stands now, the functions you can access are limited to the handful Apple chooses itself. Some of these are expendable. I’ll run through what’s there now to give you an idea:

  • Airplane mode: There’s only one instance in which I use Airplane mode, and that’s on an actual airplane. Otherwise, low-power mode would be useful more often.
  • WiFi: Essential.
  • Bluetooth: Ditto. Apple going all-in on wireless headphones only reinforces that.  
  • Do Not Disturb: There are certain situations where it’s crucial for some. Personally, nobody is calling at 1AM, and vibrate is enough, so I typically pass. 
  • Orientation lock: If anything, this is an annoyance if you watch videos regularly. I’ve read enough articles in bed to know it’s a pain when the whole screen flips, but that’s about it. 
  • Flashlight: Sure, why not.img_2400
  • Timer: A shortcut to the alarm clock would make more sense. 
  • Night Shift: It’s surprisingly effective — or at least it feels like it is — but it doesn’t need a spot. 
  • Calculator: It’s good when your receipt doesn’t have suggested tip amounts already, but there are plenty of times when people aren’t in a rush to crunch numbers. 
  • Camera: No complaints.
  • Brightness slider: Auto-brightness can make it a little redundant, but that can be finicky, so it’s fine. The problem is that trying to swipe at it now inadvertently brings you to the media controls panel half the time.
  • AirDrop: Not the best if you use a Windows laptop or Android tablet. 
  • AirPlay: I prefer Roku. Plenty others prefer Amazon or Android.
  • Music playback controls: For sure. Nobody wants to go in and out of Spotify every three minutes. I don’t mind it having its own space, either; the iOS 10 overhaul made it much more robust and spaced out. I’d just like the option to make it the first window I see when music is playing.
  • Home controls: Great if you have a Apple-friendly smart home, thankfully stays out of the way if you don’t.

The point here is that everyone has their preferences. I try to keep my LTE data off when I don’t need it, for instance. But I also have friends who use iMessage. When I’m out, I usually wind up going against my inclinations, because I don’t want to go through the hassle of unlocking the phone and repeatedly tapping through settings menus to get a text. This is annoying, and it happens too often. With Android, it doesn’t.

iphone 7It’s a similar deal if you want to turn on VPN, location data, low-power mode, personal hotspot, and so on. Giving the option to swap these in, or at least to expand the number of toggles there now, or even just to rearrange the existing settings, would seem to be a simple fix.

Adding shortcuts to third-party apps would be even better, though that could open up issues in design (since Apple would need developers to make custom icons) and security (since you may be able to access personal data from the lock screen). Adding shortcuts to Apple’s own apps would at least be a halfway solution. 

Is all of this a bit nitpicky? Sure. Would that make it any less useful? Nope. There are many other things it’d be good for Apple to address with the next iOS — multi-user support, a better Siri, the ability to make non-Apple apps your defaults, a dark mode (!) — but I’ll be happy so long as I don’t have to look at the timer icon again.

SEE ALSO: RANKED: The best iOS keyboards

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NOW WATCH: Here’s why Steve Wozniak used to wait in line overnight for new Apple products

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