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27
Aug

YouTube Updates Smartphone Apps With ‘Time Watched’ Digital Health Tool


YouTube is the latest app to gain a new “digital wellbeing” section in its iOS and Android apps, allowing you to see how much time you’ve spent watching YouTube recently. Google announced at I/O in May that it would be introducing a “Time watched” section in YouTube, and today the rollout has begun.

Once you update YouTube on iOS to version 13.33, open the app and tap your profile picture in the top right corner, then tap “Time watched.” The main stats area shows how much of YouTube you have watched today, yesterday, the past week, and on average per day. This history is based on your personal YouTube history across YouTube products except YouTube Music.

Below this section are tools to manage your time on YouTube, including a setting that will remind you to take a break. If you toggle this on, you can customize the reminder frequency to enable the notification to appear every 2 hours of YouTube you watch, for example, and can increase that cap to as much as 23 hours and 55 minutes.

Outside of “Time watched,” there’s a new notification area in the settings tab of YouTube as well. Tap your profile icon, settings, and then scroll down to notifications. In here, you can enable a “scheduled digest” of your notifications, which will bundle all of your YouTube push notifications into a single notification each day, at your own preferred time.

To further lessen the amount of time you spend browsing YouTube, the company will let you disable notification sounds and vibrations completely during any hours you specify, a feature that can also be found in settings. YouTube says that it is “dedicated to making sure that you have the information you need to better understand how you use YouTube and develop your own sense of digital wellbeing.”

Digital health tools have become immensely popular over the past few months, with Apple launching its own system-wide iOS “Screen Time” features in iOS 12 this fall. More recently, individual apps have taken to introducing their own tools, including Facebook and Instagram.

Tag: YouTube
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27
Aug

Barclays: All 2019 iPhones May Lack 3D Touch, New AirPods and Lower-Priced HomePod to Launch Next Year


Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis and his associates traveled across Asia last week to meet with companies within Apple’s supply chain. Today, they shared new predictions based on the information they gathered.

Highlights from their research note to investors, obtained by MacRumors:

  • Barclays says it’s “widely understood” that 3D Touch will be removed from iPhones with OLED displays in 2019—aka the third-generation iPhone X and second-generation “iPhone X Plus.” However, they caution that the plans aren’t finalized yet, so they could change.

Earlier this year, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said 3D Touch won’t be a feature on the rumored 6.1-inch iPhone with an LCD, part of the upcoming 2018 lineup. So, by the sound of it, 3D Touch won’t be a feature on any 2019 iPhones, assuming Apple sticks with the same three models expected in 2018.

While the lack of 3D Touch on the 6.1-inch iPhone would make sense, given expectations that it will essentially be a budget iPhone X, it’s not entirely clear why it may be removed from the more expensive OLED models next year. As a somewhat hidden feature, perhaps Apple no longer finds it essential.

  • “AirPod 2” will launch in the fourth quarter of 2019. Meanwhile, an optional wireless charging case for the original AirPods, and Apple’s new AirPower charging mat, will be available this September.

This prediction is rather confusing, as back in February, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said Apple will release new AirPods with a new wireless chip and “Hey Siri” support as early as this year. Gurman also said a subsequent pair of AirPods with water resistance would be released as early as next year.

One possibility is that Apple will add “Hey Siri” support to the existing AirPods this fall by way of a software update, without a new wireless chip, but it’s unclear if the current W1 chip can support the feature. In that case, Apple might elect to continue referring to them as first-generation AirPods.

In that scenario, the “AirPods 2” that Barclays is referring to could be the water-resistant pair that Gurman also believes could launch in 2019. However, this is admittedly a bit of a stretch, so it remains to be seen.

  • Barclays expects the launch of a “cheaper HomePod in 2019,” with “broader appeal.” The analysts say HomePod sales continue to “underwhelm,” with less than five million sold since it launched in January.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, along with some Chinese publications, have also claimed that Apple has considered a lower-priced HomePod. One rumor suggested that it could be a Siri-enabled Beats speaker priced around $149 to $199.

  • Barclays says it “does see the potential for the new iPhones to support pen input,” without naming the Apple Pencil specifically.

Taiwanese research firm TrendForce predicted that the higher-end 2018 iPhones will be compatible with the Apple Pencil.

Related Roundups: HomePod, 2018 iPhones, AirPodsTags: Barclays, 3D Touch, Apple PencilBuyer’s Guide: HomePod (Buy Now), AirPods (Caution)
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27
Aug

Latest Apple Music Android Beta Includes Support for Android Auto Platform


Apple appears to be testing integration of Apple Music with Android Auto, according to a report today by Android Police. Discovered in the the most recent beta version of Apple Music on Android, Apple’s streaming music app includes support for the Android Auto platform.

With this support, Android smartphone owners can control playback of Apple Music songs directly from the infotainment center in their vehicle. Similar to CarPlay, Android Auto encourages drivers to focus less on their smartphones while in a vehicle, bringing numerous features from the handheld device onto a touchscreen placed in the dashboard.

The Apple Music version 2.6.0 beta on Android also includes numerous other features that have arrived to Apple Music users on iOS: lyric searches, updated artist pages, Friends Mix, and various performance improvements and big fixes.

Android Auto is an alternative to Apple’s CarPlay, both offering customers in each ecosystem a way to easily get directions, make phone calls, check text messages, talk to voice assistants, and more.

Tags: Android Auto, Apple Music
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27
Aug

Kuo: No Apple Pencil Support for 2018 iPhones, Upcoming 6.1-Inch Model to Be Slightly Delayed


Apple’s upcoming 2018 iPhone models will not support the Apple Pencil because it does not offer a “good user experience,” according to respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who shared the information in a note sent out to investors.

Kuo believes that Apple will announce the three new iPhones expected in 2018 during the week of September 9, which is in line with other rumors that have pointed towards a September 12 unveil date, a September 14 pre-order date, and a September 21 launch date.

The 5.8 and 6.5-inch OLED iPhones will be available in September, says Kuo, but the 6.1-inch model, which has reportedly been plagued by production issues, will be available “slightly later due to its production schedule.”

Kuo expects both the 6.1 and 6.5-inch iPhone models to offer both single and dual-SIM versions, with the dual-SIM models to be available in specific markets like China. Kuo’s information is in line with details shared by Bloomberg this morning.


The 5.8-inch iPhone will not offer dual-SIM support, but Kuo says it could include an e-SIM as well as single-SIM functionality. Kuo is not certain, however, if the e-SIM will be activated.

According to a chart shared by Kuo listing prospective specs for the three new devices, the 6.5-inch iPhone is expected to include a 2-cell 3,300 to 3,400 mAh battery, while the 5.8-inch model will offer a 2-cell 2,700 to 2,800 mAh battery, and the 6.1-inch LCD model will offer a 1-cell 2,600 to 2,700 mAh battery.

Kuo believes the 6.5-inch iPhone will have a resolution of 2688 x 1242, with the 5.8-inch model continuing to offer a resolution of 2436 x 1125. The 6.1-inch model, meanwhile, is expected to have a resolution of 1792 x 828.

As past rumors have suggested, the two higher-end iPhones will offer dual-lens cameras, while the 6.1-inch model will offer a single lens camera. Both the OLED models will also offer 4GB RAM and a maximum of 512GB of storage, while the 6.1-inch model will cap out at 256GB of storage and 3GB RAM.

The 6.1-inch model will also be limited to a 2X2 MIMO modem while the two OLED devices will get faster 4×4 MIMO modems, but it will be available in a wider array of colors. Kuo has previously said that he expects the 6.1-inch iPhone to be available in red, blue, orange, gray, and white, while the 5.8 and 6.5-inch iPhone models will be available in three colors, presumably silver, space gray, and gold.

All three models, including the lower-cost 6.1-inch iPhone, are expected to include support for the new A12 chip, as the 6.1-inch iPhone is meant to be a followup to the iPhone 8. Apple’s iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X all use the A11 chip.

Kuo expects the new 6.1-inch LCD model to account for 50 to 55 percent and 65 to 70 percent of new iPhone models’ total shipments in the second half of 2018 and the first half of 2019, respectively.

The new 6.1-inch iPhone will “increase replacement demands” compared to iPhone X and iPhone 8 because of its price tag, which Kuo expects to be between $600 and $699. As he has said in the past, Kuo believes Apple will price the 5.8-inch OLED iPhone at $800 to $899 and the 6.5-inch OLED iPhone at $900 to $999.
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27
Aug

Apple Seeds Ninth Beta of macOS Mojave to Developers


Apple today seeded the ninth beta of an upcoming macOS Mojave update to developers for testing purposes, one week after releasing the eighth beta and more than two months after introducing the software at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

macOS Mojave introduces a new method of installing software updates, so after you’ve installed the initial beta using the appropriate profile from the Developer Center, additional betas can be downloaded through opening up System Preferences and choosing the “Software Update” icon.

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Apple’s macOS Mojave update introduces a systemwide Dark Mode, with Mojave users able to choose between a light theme or the new dark theme, which changes the color of the dock, menu bar, apps, and other elements. Dark Mode is accompanied by Dynamic Desktops, aka wallpapers that subtly change throughout the day. Additional wallpapers were introduced in the fourth and fifth betas.

Stacks, a new desktop organization system, keeps all of your desktop files neat and organized, while Finder has been enhanced with a Gallery View, a Sidebar, a revamped Quick Look option and Quick Actions, so you can do more in the Finder window than ever before.

Screenshots can now be edited using Markup tools and a new management options that also allow for easy screen recording, while Continuity camera, a new feature, allows you to import photos and document scans directly from an iPhone or iPad to the Mac.


The Apple News, Stocks, Home, and Voice Memos apps have been ported from iOS to macOS as part of a multiyear project Apple is working on to make it easier to bring iOS apps to Macs, and Apple has introduced several new privacy protections to keep your data safer than ever.

Apple is also making it harder for websites to track you with a range of new Safari tools, and it’s also easier to make and store secure, hard-to-guess passwords for each and every website.

Apple has added an entirely revamped Mac App Store to macOS Mojave that makes it easier to discover apps with a featured section and specific categories for games, creative apps, productivity apps, apps for developers, and more.


macOS Mojave was initially supposed to include a Group FaceTime feature that includes support for chatting with up to 32 people at one time, but it was removed in macOS Mojave beta 7 and the feature won’t be available until later in the year.

macOS Mojave is available to developers and public beta testers to work out bugs and other issues ahead of an upcoming fall public release.

Related Roundup: macOS Mojave
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27
Aug

Ninth Beta of tvOS 12 Now Available for Registered Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]


Apple today seeded the ninth beta of a new tvOS 12 operating system to developers for testing purposes, one week after releasing the eighth beta and more than two months after introducing the new software at the 2018 Worldwide Developers Conference.

Designed for the fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV, the tvOS 12 developer beta can be downloaded onto the Apple TV using a profile that’s installed through the Xcode software. Subsequent betas can be downloaded via the software update mechanism on the Apple TV.

tvOS 12 introduces support for Dolby Atmos sound, which was activated in the second beta. Apple says that when tvOS 12 launches this fall, iTunes will be home to the largest collection of Dolby Atmos-supported movies.

Customers that have previously purchased movies that gain Dolby Atmos support will see free upgrades to their titles, much like the rollout of 4K support.

Building on single sign-on, a new zero sign-on feature will further simplify the cable authentication process. With zero sign-on, the Apple TV can detect a user’s broadband network and automatically sign them into supported apps they receive through their accompanying cable subscription.

Zero sign-on will be available for Charter Communications customers this fall and will expand to additional cable providers in the future.

Aerial screensavers now include location information and there are new screensavers captured in collaboration with the International Space Station.


Other improvements tvOS-related improvements include AutoFill passwords from iPhone, an Apple TV Remote automatically added to Control Center on the iPhone or iPad, and Apple TV support on Home control systems like Control4, Crestron, and Savant.

tvOS 12 is available for developers and public beta testers to work out bugs and other issues ahead of a fall public launch.

Update: Apple has also made a new public beta of tvOS 12 available to public beta testers.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12Buyer’s Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)
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27
Aug

Apple Seeds Eleventh Beta of iOS 12 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]


Apple today seeded the eleventh beta of an upcoming iOS 12 update to developers for testing purposes, just a few days after seeding the tenth beta and more than two months after introducing the new software at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

Registered developers can download the new iOS 12 beta from Apple’s Developer Center or over-the-air after installing the proper certificate.

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iOS 12 brings several major new features, with Apple revamping the operating system from top to bottom to make iPhones and iPads, especially the older models, faster and more responsive.

On the iPhone X, there are new Animoji characters along with “Memoji,” which are customizable, personalized, humanoid Animoji that can be used both in Messages and in FaceTime, and there are new camera effects in both of those apps.

Apple originally planned to introduce Group FaceTime support in iOS 12, but the feature was removed in iOS 12 beta 7 and will not be reintroduced until later this fall in a future update to iOS 12.

Siri is smarter in iOS 12 with a new Shortcuts feature that lets you create multi-step customized automations using first and third-party apps that can be activated with Siri voice commands. Shortcuts can be created through the Shortcuts app, available as a beta from Apple’s Developer Center.

Apple built comprehensive time management and monitoring tools into iOS 12 with Screen Time, allowing you to keep track of how much time you’re spending in apps on your iPhone and iPad. App limits can help you cut back on iOS device usage, and robust parental controls are included for families.


Updated Do Not Disturb options make activating Do Not Disturb more intuitive and simple, and a new Do Not Disturb at Bedtime feature cuts down on nighttime distractions and sleep interruptions.


Grouped Notifications make incoming notifications easier to view and manage, while a new Instant Tuning feature lets you tweak your notification settings right on the Lock screen on a notification-by-notification basis.


Apple News has a new Browse feature, the Stocks app has been redesigned and brought to the iPad, iBooks has been overhauled with a new look and a new name — Apple Books — and Voice Memos has been revamped with iCloud support and an iPad app.

ARKit 2.0 introduces new capabilities like shared experiences that let two people see the same AR environment on separate devices, and persistence, which allows AR experiences to be saved across multiple sessions. There’s also a new Apple-built Measure app for measuring objects using AR capabilities.

iOS 12 includes a revamped and rebuilt Maps app that uses a new Apple-designed Maps engine that will display foliage, pools, buildings, pedestrian pathways, and other map elements more accurately. The new Maps also includes significant improvements to traffic, real-time road conditions, construction, and more, plus it will enable Apple to push out changes and fixes more quickly.


The updated Maps app is available in the Northern California area during beta testing. After iOS 12 launches, Apple will continue rolling out the new maps to additional U.S. locations

New betas of upcoming operating system updates always introduce tweaked features and new functionality, and we’ll be outlining what’s new in the seventh beta below. We also rounded up all of the changes that were introduced in the previous betas: beta 2 and beta 3, beta 4, beta 5, beta 6, and beta 7.

Later betas have had fewer changes because we’re approaching the end of the beta testing period, with a public launch for iOS 12 planned for September alongside new iPhones.

Update: Apple has also made a new public beta of iOS 12 available to public beta testers.

Related Roundup: iOS 12
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27
Aug

‘Waterworld’ no longer seems sci-fi, so an artist designed your future gills



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Blistering heat. Flooded streets. Preoccupied politicians and corporations more concerned with profit than protecting the planet. Earth’s future looks pretty bleak.

There are ways to mitigate the most devastating effects of climate change — clean energy offers alternatives to fossil fuels and science may help us help us save some species — but the fact is Earth will change and we’ll have to adapt along with it.

That realization sparked an innovative — if a bit dystopian — project by Jun Kamei, a materials scientist and student at the Royal College of Arts in London. After learning about studies showing how sea level rise could flood many coastal cities and displace billions of people across the globe by 2100, Kamei began to wonder what our future would look like — and what humans would look like in the future.

“What kind of products would humans start to design to adapt our aquatic future?”

He envisioned a scenario in which coastal megacities “like New York, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, and Hong Kong become semi-submerged,” he tells Digital Trends. “I was interested about what kind of new products human would start to design to adapt to this kind of future.”

In the tradition of biomimetic design, Kamei began to conceptualize a garment that could let people adapt to a more aquatic lifestyle. He studied air-breathing insects that survive underwater by using a reservoir of air trapped beneath their exoskeleton, which acts as a sort of gill and barrier between the insect and the water, allowing oxygen molecules to seep in.

Running with this idea, Kamei created Amphibio: a 3D-printed garment designed to capture air and replenish oxygen, while dissipating carbon dioxide underwater.

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The garment is comprised of three parts: the gills, which are worn around the chest like a vest, the mask, and a tube to connect the two. Think of it as a mix between free diving and scuba diving, with some futuristic flair for good measure.

Made out of a porous and hydrophobic material, the gills are aesthetically striking, like scaled armor. Kamei wasn’t willing to divulge much about the material itself (he recently filed a patent for it) but in a short video he demonstrates how the gill is capable of extracting low levels of oxygen from water. Kamei doesn’t yet have a working prototype for the mask but offered a glimpse at what it might look.

“Artistically, I like it. Scientifically, I’m very dubious.”

The garment’s scaled form serves a function. By corrugating the material, Kamei increases the Amphibio’s surface area and allows more oxygen to seep through. That’s pivotal — humans breathe a lot oxygen. In fact, our appetite for oxygen is so voracious, Joseph Bonaventura, a professor of marine science and conservation at Duke University, thinks the Amphibio is a bit out of its depths.

“We burn basically 500 liters of oxygen per day on average,” he says. “That’s eleven-thousand liters of air per day. That’s a huge amount.” Surface water contains about ten milliliters of oxygen per liter, meaning the Amphibio would need to extract oxygen from some 50,000 liters of water at 100 percent efficiency to sustain a breathing human.

Bonaventura has, as they say, done the math. In the 70s he invented the Hemosponge: an artificial gill technology funded by the Office of Naval Research and DARPA. He admires Kamei’s aesthetic but isn’t convinced from a technical standpoint.

“Artistically, I like it,” Bonaventura says. “Scientifically, I’m very dubious.”

Kamei recognizes the challenges with the device. For one thing, the current prototype doesn’t pull nearly enough oxygen from water to sustain living, breathing human being. In the device’s concept photos, the Amphibio has a surface area of about 43 square feet. Kamei thinks the final design would require something around 344 square feet — that’s more surface area than two average-sized bedrooms! He may be able to implement more ridges to increase its square footage, but that would likely result in relatively restrictive, full-body suit.

Regardless, Kamei thinks Amphibio remains “in the realm of the ‘not impossible.’” Whether or not the gills work, it’s a conceptually interesting project that delves into solutions for surviving in a crucial potential future of our planet.

Today, billions of people rely on oceans as their primary source of food. But few civilizations have turned to truly aquatic lifestyles. It’s not unlikely that climate change will continue to spiral out of control, and in that semi-submerged future our dependence on the ocean’s bounty will only grow even greater. The “underwater world would become a new urban environment,” thinks Kamei, so why not take advantage of it?

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  • The UN and Yale unite to build a ‘smart’ tiny house for the future



27
Aug

Asus Zenfone 5Z tips and tricks


The Asus Zenfone 5Z packs plenty of tempting features into an enticingly affordable package, but some of its capabilities are less than obvious. The Zen UI (user interface) that sits atop Android isn’t always the most intuitive, so we’ve drafted this guide to help you to unlock its best secrets. These are our top Asus Zenfone 5Z tips and tricks.

Before we get started, you should consider grabbing yourself some protection – check out the best Asus Zenfone 5Z cases for suggestions.

How to hide the notch

We’re not big fans of the notch trend, but the extra real estate can prove handy for connectivity icons and battery status. If it really bugs you, Asus has included the option to hide it, rendering the notch black so it doesn’t stand out as much, though it does still house the same icons.

To turn it off, go to Settings > Display and toggle Hide notch on. Sadly, it doesn’t do anything to fix the crammed-together time and battery icon at the top right.

How to customize your home screen

You can tap and hold on any empty portion of home screen to access the customization options, just like with any other Android device, but Asus gives you a lot of options to play with. In addition to Wallpapers and Widgets, you can tap Edit Home Screen to change things like Icon alignment and Scroll effects.

There’s also a Preferences option that enables you to configure AppLock, Hide apps, and tweak more settings in the Home screen option. We always toggle off Add icon to home screen, but there are lots of other options in there.

How to take a screenshot

If you want to capture an error or a high score in a game, you can snap a screenshot in the usual Android way: Press and hold the Power and Volume down keys at the same time.

Asus has also included a second option in Settings > Advanced > Screenshot that lets you tap and hold the Recent apps key to capture your screen. You can also turn off the accompanying sound and notification in here if you want to and switch between JPEG and PNG file formats.

How to use Twin Apps

If you have a couple of accounts for the same app, like maybe a personal Facebook or Twitter account and a work one, then Asus allows you to open both at the same time with Twin Apps. You’ll find it in Settings > Advanced and it supports Facebook, LinkedIn, Messenger, Play Games, Twitter, and YouTube.

How to use A.I. features

Asus has packed plenty of A.I. smarts into the Zenfone 5Z, but not all of it is switched on by default. Dip into Settings > Advanced > A.I. features and you’ll find a list with toggles. You can tap on each option to learn more about what it does. Our favorite is the A.I. charging option, which is designed to learn how you like to charge your phone and top it off at the optimal time for battery health. That means it might charge slowly overnight and only hit maximum just before your usual wakeup time, but charge at full speed when you plug in for a top-up during the day.

How to use ZeniMoji

If you like the idea of being a cute owl or cat, or perhaps a cartoonish person, then you might want to play around with ZeniMoji. It’s the Asus answer to Apple’s Animoji or Samsung’s AR Emoji, but you may be wondering how to find it. Open the Selfie Master app in the app drawer and you’ll see the ZeniMoji option at the bottom right.

You can select your character along the bottom and record videos or use it in an app. Facebook Messenger is the default but tap the three dots at the top right and you can hit Select app and switch to Google Duo. The ZeniMoji icon should also pop up during video calls and livestreams, but you can tweak things in Settings > Advanced > ZeniMoji.

Asus also gives you the option to apply a beauty filter in real time for video streaming or video calls. It’s called BeautyLive and it’s also in the Selfie Master app and in Settings > Advanced.

How to use hardware keys for the camera

If you open the camera app and tap the gear icon to access the settings, then you can scroll down to find two handy options: Set volume key as with Shutter or Zoom as the options, and Instant Camera, which lets you double click the volume key to launch the camera.

How to use the fingerprint sensor to check notifications

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This is a handy option if you only have one free hand. Go to Settings > Advanced > Fingerprint gesture and toggle it on and you can swipe down with your finger on the fingerprint sensor to pull down the notification shade and see your latest notifications. You can also swipe down again to expand your quick settings or swipe up to close it.

How to use gestures

The Asus ZenUI has support for all sorts of gestures such as double tapping the screen to turn it on and off, placing the phone facedown to mute it, and drawing different letters on the screen to launch different apps. You’ll find all these options buried in Settings > Advanced > ZenMotion.

If you scroll down to the letter gestures, which work on a dark screen to quick-launch apps, you can toggle them on and off individually, but you can also tap to change the apps that get launched by each letter.

How to schedule the blue light filter

Too much blue light at bedtime can make it more difficult to fall asleep, so if you like to browse in bed, you should turn on the blue light filter. There’s a quick setting toggle for it in the notification shade, but we prefer to schedule it to turn on and off automatically. To find it, go to Settings > Display and scroll down to the bottom to tap on Splendid.

You can tweak the Blue light filter with a slider and you can toggle on Turn on as scheduled, then tap on it to specify hours or set it to come on at sunset.

How to tailor the audio

Our last tip is about taking full advantage of the audio in the Zenfone 5Z. If you look in Settings > Sound & vibration and scroll to the bottom, you’ll find AudioWizard. You can switch between profiles for Rock and Pop, but you can also select Custom and then tap in the middle to create your own equalizer settings. There’s an option to Play music preview, but be warned that it plays a rather cheesy song about Asus.

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  • Key settings you need to change on your brand-new Galaxy Note 9
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  • Asus Zenfone 5Z review
  • Galaxy S7 tips and tricks
  • How to use Android 9.0 Pie’s gesture navigation, and how to turn it off



27
Aug

New Android Messages update adds Dark Mode and Material Design 2


The newest update for Android Messages is bringing Google’s new Material Design 2, as well as a long-awaited Dark Mode.

Following the release of Android 9.0 Pie‘s all-new look for the Android ecosphere, Google has been updating its Android system apps, with Google Contacts and Google Phone receiving updates to bring them into line with Material Design 2. Judging by this update, Android Messages is the next to get the upgrade to Google’s new style.

The changes are mostly in line with what we’ve come to expect from Material Design 2. The big old blue border is out, and the whole app’s background is now just plain white. Contact icons have changed slightly, too; the bold colors of old are out, replaced with softer, pastel colors. It’s a change that makes the app slightly more modern, and slightly easier on the eye. One exception, though, is that the white is eye-blindly bright, and it’s likely for that reason that Google has also included a Dark Mode that changes the overall color scheme to black. You’ll be able to trigger Dark Mode from the right-hand context menu.

Aside from the changes in color palette, the differences are fairly subtle — but look close and you’ll find them. On the main window you’ll now find the dates of sent text messages on the right of the screen, rather than below the contact’s name. The “+” button to start a conversation has been changed to “Start chat” and has been painted in a lighter shade of blue — to match the pastel colors, no doubt. Finally, the color of replies within conversations has been inverted. Your texts will now be in light blue, with your recipient’s texts in white — an inversion of the older version.

Keen eyes have noticed that these particular features have been appearing and disappearing from the Android Messages app throughout August, so there’s no guarantee that these are here to stay — yet. But they’re definitely on the way, and we can likely expect them soon, even if they don’t stick this time.

If you want to try out these changes for yourself, you don’t have to wait for the update to appear on the Google Play Store. All you have to do is download and install the right APK file for your phone, force-close your Messages app, and reopen.

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  • Android 9.0 Pie: Everything you need to know
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