Categories
Gadgets

Instagram Lite reboot squeezes the app into a 2MB package

Facebook is today relaunching Instagram Lite, a stripped-down version of the image-sharing app designed for users in emerging markets. Developed by Facebook’s team in Tel Aviv, the birthplace of Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite, the app’s package size is just 2MB. The team said that the focus, like with the other launches, was on users whose smartphones lack storage capacity, processing power and reliable data. In order to reach that size, the app focuses on images, video and messaging, ditching other features and flourishes that fade into the background on the full-fat version of the app.

Instagram Lite still has the main feed, as well as Stories — the ephemeral messaging feature cribbed from Snapchat — but not IG Live or Shopping. Engineering manager Gal Zellermayer said that, as well as live filters and other AR effects that wouldn’t work on low-power devices, animations have been edited down. He cited the example of the cube animation seen when swiping between different users’ Stories, a very processor and data-intensive transition that didn’t work well on older devices, which has been removed. Zellermayer added that a lot of extra compression work is handled on the server side to relieve the burden off the device itself.

Michelle Lourie, product manager, explained that there were a number of additional UI tweaks to better suit “new digital users.” This included ditching a trash can to represent a delete icon, in favor of an X, which testers found made more sense. In addition, Lourie said that GIFs and Stickers remain part of the app since, unlike AR filters, they were space efficient while remaining fun. Lourie added that the team is currently working on Dark Mode, a feature that users were requesting long before the app was released.

The first version of Instagram Lite was little more than a wrapper around a web app. Facebook shut it down that version in May 2020, and at the time said that it was working on a new version with better on-device support. This new edition has been in testing in several territories already, but is today rolling out to Google Play in 170 countries around the world.

Read more: engadget.com

Categories
Gadgets

Adobe Photoshop is now available natively on M1 Macs

Since ditching Intel's chips for its own, Apple's M1 Macs are getting optimizedapps all the time that tend to perform better than those put through its Rosetta 2 emulator. Today marks another major native release as Photoshop has officially come out of beta packing quicker speeds for many tasks. Adobe says the changes should be immediately noticeable from the time you launch the native app, with the splash screen vanishing in an instant. Overall, the new Mac app can run tasks up to 1.5x faster than previous generation systems. In general, that should apply when opening and saving files, running filters and compute-heavy operations like "content-aware fill" and "select subject."

However, some of Photoshop's latest features have yet to make the jump as Adobe wanted to get the native app out as quickly as possible. So, you'll have to wait for things like "invite to edit cloud documents" and "preset syncing" — or you can switch back to Rosetta 2 emulation if you can make do without them. Adobe has been quick to embrace Apple's latest Macs having previously released its Premiere Pro and Lightroom apps for the new range.

Along with the new M1 app, Adobe is also releasing an update for Photoshop on iPad that packs two new features. They include cloud documents version history, which lets you browse and revert back to older files that were auto-saved in the past 60 days, and the ability to download cloud documents locally so you can work on files offline. The same feature also lets you free up space on your iPad by making a document online only.

In addition, Adobe is adding its "super resolution" feature to the Camera Raw plugin in Photoshop. By tapping into your graphics card, the machine learning-powered software lets you scale up an image without losing out on quality. Super resolution will also be available on Lightroom and Lightroom Classic soon. Adobe has been sprinkling AI-enhanced features throughout Photoshop including a tool that lets you spruce up landscape images, neural filters that mimic art styles and a sky replacement option.

Read more: engadget.com

Categories
Gadgets

TikTok adds new comment controls to discourage bullying

TikTok is introducing new features meant to reduce bullying and harassment on its platform: new comment controls and in-app prompts to discourage nasty comments.

The app is expanding its comment filtering tools to give users the ability to approve all new comments before they can appear underneath their clips. With the change, new comments will be hidden until the account owner approves them. The company notes that it already lets users filter comments based on keywords, but that the new setting provides an additional layer of control.

TikTok's new anti-bullying features give users more control of their comments. TikTok

TikTok is also adding a feature meant to proactively stop bullying before it happens. When it detects that a particular comment may break its rules, the app will prompt users to “reconsider” before posting. The feature is similar to one created by Instagram, which warns users when it detects a potentially rule-breaking remark. Like Instagram, TikTok won’t prevent users from posting the comment in question, but will give them the opportunity to change their words.

TikTok has tightened its rules around bullying in recent months. The company updated its community guidelines in December to add more specifics around its anti-bullying and harassment policies. It’s also working with a group of outside experts who advise the company on content policies and moderation rules.

Read more: engadget.com

Categories
Gadgets

Apple publishes first menstrual symptom data from women’s health study

Back in 2019, Apple teamed up with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for its women's health study. The initiative aims to uncover insights about people's health in relation to menstrual cycle by collecting data through the Research app for the iPhone and Apple Watch. Now, the tech giant has published its first set of data, which came from analyzing the menstrual cycle symptoms tracked by 6,141 out of the first 10,000 participants who enrolled to take part. 

Based on the results, the most common symptom is abdominal cramps reported by 83 percent of the participants. That's followed by bloating and tiredness, reported by 63 percent and 61 percent of the participants, respectively. They also reported acne, headache, mood changes, appetite changes, lower back pain and breast tenderness. 

Meanwhile, the more uncommon symptoms include diarrhea and sleep changes (37 percent each), as well as constipation and nausea (32 percent each). The least tracked symptoms were hot flashes and ovulation pain, which were only reported by 22 percent and 20 percent of the participants, respectively. In addition, Apple and its partners analyzed the reported menstrual symptoms in relation to participants' ages, ethnicities and locations to show similarities and differences across demographics.

AppleApple

The team says it's hoping the study can remove stigma around menstruation and normalize the experience of symptoms so that women, girls and people with menstrual cycles don't get deterred from seeking care for menstrual-related pain. "By building knowledge," the results' announcement reads, "the study is helping to understand factors that make menstruation difficult and isolating for some people. This includes cycle irregularity, extreme pain, or ovarian cysts." Anybody interested in contributing to the study can still do so by downloading the Research app, though they need to be at least 18 years old to participate.

Read more: engadget.com

Categories
Gadgets

Learn Python programming for web apps, data science and more with this $35 training

There’s no shortage of resume-friendly skills out there, but any discerning job hunter knows they can’t learn them all. That’s why you should focus on one or two abilities that deliver the most value. One such talent is Python, a relatively easy-to-learn programming language that happens to be one of the most highly sought-after skills on the job market. And with the 2021 Premium Python Certification Bootcamp Bundle, you’ll find out how to add it to your arsenal.

If you’re just breaking into coding, you’ll be happy to learn that this training bundle is suitable for almost any level of proficiency. The first class is titled “Python for Absolute Beginners & All Ages,” and they mean it. The hands-on lectures — five hours of content in this course alone — take you through all the basics, not just for this language, but compute programming in general, with the intricacies of Python presented as a case study.

Once you progress to the rest of the classes, you’ll dive into more specific Python knowledge that will help you stand out among your peers, like how to create the types of photo filters that are used by Instagram and Snapchat. You’ll also learn how to manage lists, tuples, ranges and dictionaries for use in data science and machine learning, as well as how to use this language for ethical hacking.

Further into the program, you’ll discover how to use a high-level Python web framework known as Django, plus how to automate spreadsheets and other mundane tasks with this language. These courses even cover how to use Python to program video games – which is not only fun, but also one of the most in-demand applications of the skill.

Altogether, this Python bundle offers lifetime access to 41 hours of classes that will open professional doors in programming, data science, machine learning and much more. If you’re looking to broaden your skill set, this $35 deal might just be what you’ve been searching for.

Prices are subject to change.

Engadget is teaming up with StackSocial to bring you deals on the latest headphones, gadgets, tech toys, and tutorials. This post does not constitute editorial endorsement, and we earn a portion of all sales. If you have any questions about the products you see here or previous purchases, please contact StackSocial support here.

Read more: engadget.com

Categories
Gadgets

Peloton Sessions let you schedule smaller classes with friends

Peloton has witnessed a massive uplift during the pandemic as homebound fitness enthusiasts jumped on its bikes and treadmills for their daily exercise fix. Along the way, it has had to address delivery delays, pushed out a cheaper tread and kept the software updates coming. Its latest addition is a fully-fledged version of the fleeting Sessions feature it launched in beta late last year to get you working out with a smaller pool of members. Compared to a cluttered leaderboard of thousands, the bijou live cycling or running classes aim to offer a more refined, intimate experience and could push you to be more physical.

While the beta was built around on-demand classes that refreshed every five minutes, you can now also schedule Sessions from within the Peloton iOS app, including rides and runs that last upwards of 20 minutes. Just pick a class, choose a date and time, and invite friends to join by sharing links to your Session via your fave messaging app or email. Five minutes before your class starts, a notification will pop up on your bike or tread allowing you to join alongside your pals. 

Though it was only around for a couple of weeks, the social option must have been a hit as Peloton is bringing it back for good. Notably, if none of your friends have a Peloton bike or tread, you can still attend the smaller, on-demand Sessions and maybe make some buddies for your own future classes. 

When it first landed, a lot of people wrote off Peloton as a fad for a dedicated, and affluent, fitness fanbase. Having shrugged off that image, with help from the pandemic, it's interesting to see it returning to its roots by giving members the ability to create their own smaller groups, or cults.

Read more: engadget.com

Categories
Gadgets

Apple wants you to ‘follow’ podcasts rather than subscribe

If you notice a change of language the next time you add a series in Apple Podcasts, you won't be alone. Podnews and 9to5Mac report that Apple is changing the option to "subscribe" to a podcast to "follow" as of iOS 14.5 and its iPadOS counterpart While Apple hasn't explained the change (we've asked Apple for comment), it's likely a simple matter of perception. "Subscribe" implies that you're paying a recurring cost, and that might put off new listeners who might not realize most podcasts are free.

Nearly half of people who don't listen to podcasts think it will cost money, Edison Research's Tom Webster found.

Apple isn't first to use "follow" language. Spotify, Amazon and Stitcher already do. However, Apple's move may have a significant impact on podcast uptake. The Podcasts app is one of the most-used podcasts clients on the planet, if partly because it's the default app on iOS. A new turn of phrase could easily change behavior for many people. And remember, the very concept of podcasting is tied to Apple — the name comes from the days when you'd load your iPod with new episodes. This choice of words might have a ripple effect on other podcast apps, even if you're not inclined to use any Apple products.

It might also be a matter of strategic necessity. Rumors have swirled of Apple launching a premium podcast service. If that's the case, the company might need to clearly differentiate between free and paid shows. A seemingly simple change like this could be laying the groundwork for much, much more.

Read more: engadget.com