Apple just released iOS 14, with some major updates to home screen organization, plus all kinds of improvements to Messages, Siri, and more.
Changes to widgets are the newest and easiest way to customize the home screen in ways that were previously exclusive to Android users. They can be different sizes and pinned to the home screen for easy access.
The new customizations were immediately well-received by iPhone users. Some apps allow further customization of different widgets, and they've immediately shot up in popularity.
The top three free apps in the App Store are all widget editors, even beating out popular social video app TikTok. Soon after iOS 14 was available to all users, videos quickly popped up showing people how to make their screens "aesthetic."
Changing your home screen with widgets is relatively simple. Here's how to do it.
To start, hold down a long press anywhere on the home screen until all the apps start bouncing slightly.
Tap the plus button in the upper left-hand corner.
This will bring up a screen with widget options based on Apple and third-party apps on the phone that have widgets.
Several built-in apps come with widget options, like Music, Clock, and Weather.
Selecting the batteries option, for example, brings up a sample of what the widget would look like in small, medium, or large. Scroll between the options, and if one looks good tap "Add Widget."
I added the medium-size battery widget, so I can quickly check out the levels of my phone and AirPods while I work.
The other way to add widgets is through a third-party app like WidgetSmith, now the top free app in the App Store. WidgetSmith's options encompass basics like calendar, health, and weather, although some require a premium version of the app.
WidgetSmith has far more customization options than native Apple widgets. In both, you can select which size you prefer.
WidgetSmith also allows users to choose from different types of displays and fonts.
With text and background color options too, there are hundreds of potential combinations.
Adding widgets from WidgetSmith works exactly the same as adding others. Long press, tap the plus button and then select the widget creation.
You aren't stuck with the first widgets you add, either. To edit or remove them, just treat them like an app with a long press.
Of course, half the point of customizing the home screen is to show it off.
Apple just released iOS 14, with some major updates like home screen widgets and Siri, along with dozens of more minor adjustments. The beta version was released back in July, so many have had a few months to get acquainted with the new software. Some updates, like changing the default browser and email app, have been anticipated by iPhone owners for years.
Every year with the new version of iOS, some of the coolest features debuted at WWDC end up being mostly inconsequential, at least to me, while other minor ones make daily tasks easier. After only a few days, I'm already a fan of changes Messages, while the new App Library didn't seem like anything special.
The many small new features in Messages add up to one of the most useful updates in iOS14 for me, because it's probably the app I use the most throughout the day.
Pinning conversations is a minor change, but it's also super helpful to easily reach the people and group chats I return to the most.
Pinning a conversation puts it at the top of the Messages app. For me, making the photo larger rather than the text makes it easy to quickly find my important conversations.
Messages got some other common sense updates, like tagging people in a group message, and threading messages.
To start a thread, just hold down on a message and the "reply" option will pop up.
Then you can view just the thread, which can be helpful in a fast moving group chat.
Threading and tagging people seems so obvious, I have to wonder why Apple did not implement them earlier, like many other messaging apps have. Still, I'm glad they're here, and they make handling the multiple group chats I use to stay in touch with friends and family that much easier.
The ability to search the emoji library is, again, very simple, but it makes life just a little bit easier.
Between emoji search and the QuickPath swipe keyboard introduced in iOS 13, I can finally stop using the custom Google keyboard and stick to the built-in Apple one.
One tiny update I predict will be super useful is a notification about what was pasted into Messages or any other text field. Who among us hasn't accidentally sent the wrong link?
So far I'm less impressed with the App Library, which automatically organizes apps into categories when you swipe left past all the other screens.
To me, the categorizations don't make very much sense, and they aren't nearly as useful as the organizational system I've already created for myself where I can access, for example, all my social media or music and audio in one spot.
The "other" categorization also makes me wonder how well these apps are really categorized. Maybe it will prove to be useful later, but for now, the App Library just seems like a way to hide away the disorganized, non-customizable mess of apps.
Swedish company iOhouse created a luxury, futuristic smart home with Space. The contemporary design comes completely move-in ready, with everything from furniture to sheets and wine glasses already set up. The house is transported by trailer anywhere in the EU, dropped in place by a crane, and residents can move in within 90 minutes.
The coronavirus pandemic, along with greater potential for remote work than ever, have driven many out of cities in search of privacy and more affordable living. iOhouse claims that Space can offer the best of both worlds for this type of customer, with all the luxuries of a modern urban home preinstalled, plus a high-end smart home that can be completely controlled through an app.
Smart homes are becoming more ubiquitous, although not usually in the fully connected way that Space is. They are common in the forms of Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant, or LED connected bulbs that can be controlled from a smartphone.
A January 2020 Insider Intelligence report predicted there will be 64 billion smart home devices by 2020, and ABI research predicted $123 billion in Internet of Things spending by 2021. Smart devices remain more expensive than their non-smart counterparts, but the industry is growing regardless.
Take a look at Space.
iOhouse describes Space as an "off the grid, modern-concept living space."
The company says that Space was designed as a second home or summer cottage. Water and sewage systems are set up for two people to live independently for two weeks under typical conditions.
The home straddles the border of a tiny home, compared to just a small home, at about 645 square feet. It weighs 19 tons.
It could also function as an office or professional studio.
It is powered by solar panels and a generator, with built in heating, cooling, water, sewage, and ventilation.
All of these built-in features mean that installation takes only 90 minutes, with no outside utility hookups.
The house can be pleased in nearly any location, chosen for natural beauty, even if it wouldn't be convenient for utilities in other cases.
"It can be dropped in a private location that would be inaccessible for a typical house."
The house fits on the back of a truck for easy delivery.
The house can be purchased completely furnished and move-in ready.
A crane drops the house into place, and it's good to go.
Inside, the house has a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom, plus two fold-out terraces.
The interior is decorated in neutrals, with glass, wool, metal, and wood.
With all the highest upgrades and furniture, the home costs about $413,000.
This includes all appliances, like a dishwasher, gas stove, refrigerator, and even a washing machine.
As a smart home, all aspects of the house can be controlled from a phone.
From a smartphone, control security cameras, a weather station, the stereo system, and more.
Smart air ventilation even automatically corrects oxygen levels inside.
iOhouse calls Space "the perfect fusion of technology and design."
In the dystopia of 2020, being able to afford a personal microclimate helmet to wear around might be the next status symbol.
The coronavirus is still spreading, researchers don't know the longterm health impacts of the virus, Dr. Anthony Fauci says most pre-Pandemic activities can return to normal by summer 2022, and a record setting year of wildfires across the western US turned San Francisco's sky orange. Wearing a helmet out and about wouldn't be the strangest thing to happen this year.
MicroClimate's Air is an acrylic visor that "enables an unobstructed view of the face." It's not the only unorthodox take on masks and face shields that has emerged since COVID-19 spread around the world.
Toronto-based Vyzr Technologies created the BioVyzr, a shield with what the company calls a "space-age aesthetic," and the venture has raised over $750,000 on Indiegogo. BioVyzr's current preorder price of $379, and regular at $498, make Air look like a relative steal at only $199.
Take a look at the design here.
The helmet filters air with fans and HEPA filters, with four hours of battery life.
Cushion liners are included to make it comfortable, while the helmet is made of a washable fabric for cleaning.
MicroClimate seems to be marketing itself to young, tech-savvy professionals, with copy reading "from Uber to airline, AIR by MicroClimate™ will keep you comfortable the whole trip," and promotional photos of wearers in suits.
The company also notes that Air "works well with AirPods." Founder Michael Hall told Forbes that testing with airline passengers has gone well so far.
Like the BioVyzr, part of the appeal is that the wearer can easily see and be seen without the obstruction of a mask. "MicroClimate has some unique technology that makes it feel like there is nothing in front of you while you are wearing it. This makes the experience of wearing it very comfortable" the company said in an email.
Of course, it quickly became the subject of tweets.
Apple just released iOS 14, with some major updates like home screen widgets and Siri, along with dozens of more minor adjustments. One of these new features is the ability to switch default browser and email from Apple's default Safari and mail app. Announced at WWDC in June, some iPhone users have been waiting on this feature for years.
Though changing the default is easy enough, the settings revert back when an iPhone is restarted. Users began pointing out the bug on Twitter.
Several reporters at Business Insider tested the setting, with Google Chrome and Firefox set as default browsers. In each case, after restarting the iPhone, any links clicked began opening Safari. Apple did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Google engineering manager Adrienne Porter Felt confirmed that workers at Google were aware of the bug.
To change the default browser, open Settings and scroll to the browser of choice. Then, there will be an option to choose which browser the iPhone defaults to.
Apple's iOS 14 rollout hasn't gone totally smoothly so far. Nintendo and other app developers warned people not to download the update yet, warning that it could lead to glitches. Developers only had 24 hours notice on the rollout of iOS 14, and many were left scrambling to make sure their apps would function the next day. This was unusual for Apple, which gave developers more than a week of notice before iOS 13's release last year.
Suhani Parekh had Apple AirPods for a while, but she didn't find herself using them much.
"They would always slip out of my ears - I was often afraid that the AirPod would simply pop [out] and I would end up losing it," the creative director of Misho Designs told Business Insider in an email interview.
Then, while stuck at home because of COVID-19, "life suddenly became so much more digital," she said. " I was always on the phone, on video calls, on Zoom meetings, and like a lot of us I decided to get cracking on those long overdue workouts."
Reaching for her AirPods throughout the day inspired the idea: earrings that not only complement AirPods but also hold them in place.
The AirPod accessory market has become popular for third parties looking to cash in on the ever-popular headphones. Apple sold 60 million pairs of them in 2019 according to analyst estimates.
With the product in so many customer's hands, there's a strong potential market for accessories like Misho's earrings.
Take a look at the design.
Having issues with AirPods' fit is relatively common because the tips are a plastic shell, rather than the rubber tips of the AirPods Pro and other wireless earbuds on the market.
AirPods Pro do have more fit options with different-sized rubber tips, but they cost $100 more than regular AirPods. The earrings are designed to fit standard AirPods.
The concept for the design was to create a seamless look, with earrings that both looked interesting and supported AirPods, catching them if they slipped out.
Taking AirPods in and out had to be easy because most people don't wear them constantly throughout the day.
For the same reason, they also had to look good without wearing AirPods, so they could function on their own as regular earrings.
"I believe the most successful pieces of design are those that combine form, function, and aesthetics," Parekh told Business Insider.
The earrings come in three designs. Pebble Pods are sculptural and wrap around the AirPods.
"Jewelry is so incredibly personal and in a way so are these devices that have become inextricable from our lives, like the jewelry we wear, your phone or your headphones — they've become a second skin," Parekh said.
Data centers are the "backbone of the Internet," where data and photos from the cloud are physically stored. In 2018, Microsoft sent an experimental data center down to the ocean floor encased in steel and powered by renewable energy.
This summer, when researchers lifted the data center out of the ocean, they found that it was eight times more reliable than comparable land data centers. For this project to be successful, Microsoft brought in outside experts to study the economic and environmental factors involved.
It worked with Naval Group, a French company that works with submarines and marine energy. With Naval Group's help, they built the data center to roughly the same dimensions of a standard cargo container, and the experiment began. Some of the data stored in the center included COVID-19 research.
Now that this phase of Project Natick is finished, Microsoft says that all parts of the vessel and servers will be recycled, and the ocean floor is being restored to the way it was before the project began.
Here's how it went.
The concept for an underwater data center was first proposed at a 2014 ThinkWeek, where Microsoft employees can submit out of the box ideas.
More than half of the world population lives within 120 miles of the coast, so Microsoft theorized that underwater data centers near large coastal cities could make Internet speeds faster as data have less distance to travel.
In 2015, the concept was tested with a 38,000 pound, ten feet by seven feet container. Inside, the data center had computing power equivalent to 300 PCs.
Data centers are networked groups of computers that store and process huge amounts of information. They're key to cloud computing.
The 105-day deployment in the Pacific Ocean was successful, and Microsoft consulted with experts in logistics, shipping, and other specialties to verify that the idea was practical.
The next step was creating the Northern Isles data center, a 40-foot long shipping container-like vessel with 864 servers.
The data center was built and tested in France, then shipped on a truck to Scotland for deployment.
Project Manager Ben Cutler said that the team had "perfect weather" on the day of deployment in 2018, with calm seas of the Orkney Islands in Scotland.
A remote-operated vehicle brought a fiber optic cable up from the seafloor, which was then attached to the data center.
Then, ten winches, a crane, a barge, and the remote vehicle were used to slowly lower the data center 117 feet down to the seafloor.
The Northern Isles deployment was a test to see if data centers can be quickly shipped and operated anywhere in the world, even in particularly rough patches of sea.
They chose Orkney because the Northern Isles are a major site of renewable energy research.
"We know if we can put something in here and it survives, we are good for just about any place we want to go," one manager said.
Wind turbines and solar panels on the islands, plus offshore tidal turbines and wave energy converters, supply enough power for all 10,000 residents,
A cable from the island supplied the data center with power.
In July 2020, the team retrieved the data center from the ocean floor.
Retrieving the data center took a full day, with the use of pontoons and winches on an especially calm day.
The container was white when it went into the water, but after two years it was covered in a layer of algae and barnacles, with sea anemones growing in nooks.
"We were pretty impressed with how clean it was, actually," said Sean Fowler, part of the technical staff on the project.
Once it was back above the water, the team power washed the steel data center.
Then, they used test tubes to collect air samples from inside the vessel for testing.
Back in 2018, researchers left it filled with dry nitrogen, so they needed to see how two years of operation altered the air.
After cleaning and sampling, the data center went back on the truck to Northern Scotland.
There, they slid out the servers and collected the servers and cables that broke to send to Microsoft headquarters for further study.
The center actually had a lower failure rate than typical data centers, and researchers said that underwater data centers were eight times more reliable than those on land.
The team believes that one reason for this low failure rate is that nitrogen is less corrosive than oxygen.
Another idea is that there are fewer failures when people aren't around to jostle the technology.
Now, researchers are working on applying these findings to land data centers, and even talking about someday powering Microsoft cloud services entirely by underwater data centers.
The tiny home of the future is here. Singapore's Nestron released information and photos of its newest prototype for the Cube Two, a smart tiny home with an artificial-intelligence assistant.
The Cube Two, which is available for preorder, is on the larger side for tiny homes at 263 square feet. Nestron says it can accommodate households of three or four with an open-concept design and more space devoted to the communal living area. From the outside, it looks like an upgraded RV, but inside the futuristic elements really shine.
Here's what the inside of the futuristic smart home looks like.
The entire structure is about 9 yards long and nearly 4 yards wide.
Inside, it's fully ready to move into upon delivery.
It has a living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and bar counter.
A skylight adds light and opens up the space.
Nestron says the Cube Two increases usable space over a traditional house by 15%.
Most furniture comes built in and is included in the base price.
Its furniture includes a range hood and sink in the kitchen, dining table and sofa in the living room, and a bed rack, wardrobe, and counter in the bedroom.
The bathroom has a shower, towel rack, and basin.
It also has smart-home appliances — the washing machine, refrigerator, AC, and stove are all connected.
AI assistant Canny is the central control for all the appliances in the house.
Even the light fixtures are integrated.
Between the AI integration and the sleek white furniture, the tiny home feels almost like a spaceship.
The Cube Two is available for preorder and starts at $52,000, with additional costs for add-on electrical appliances and other customizations.
Shipping to the US costs an additional $8,000.
On Tuesday, Apple held a virtual hardware event announcing two new Apple Watches, an updated iPad Air, a fitness service, and more. At the end of the event, CEO Tim Cook briefly mentioned that iOS 14 would be available the following day, along with iPad and Watch OS updates.
Without a longer lead time, developers warned users about glitches, and even cautioned against downloading the update. Nintendo was one of the biggest developers publicly experiencing problems, and the company tweeted that "Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp" could not open with the new update. Nintendo says it will have an update out within a month. "We do not recommend you to update your device to iOS 14 until we have fixed this issue" it tweeted.
On Tuesday, Apple's developer site told developers to "Make sure your apps are ready when iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 become available to customers worldwide." They could then submit iOS 14 updates for review only beginning yesterday, 9to5Mac reported. Last year, developers had more than a week's notice before the OS update went live, according to the BBC.
Many developers took to Twitter to complain or make jokes about the time crunch. "Someone please start a GoFundMe for every iOS developer that has <24 hour notice to get their apps ready for iOS 14" one user tweeted.
Face coverings, particularly N95 masks and surgical masks, have become more crucial than ever due to the coronavirus. Earlier on in the pandemic, shortages in masks and materials necessary for protective equipment led to shortages, even among healthcare providers who needed them. Many designers stepped up to offer their expertise and resources, including Foster and Partners.
Foster and Partners created a visor prototype with a team of industrial designers, model makers, architects, and analysts. The design was created to be produced as quickly as possible, using laser cutting technology that the studio says can produce the visors much more quickly than with comparable 3D printing technology. To reduce waste, they can also be disassembled, cleaned, and reused.
The shield is made up of three parts: the visor, the headband, and the silicone head strap.
The visor and headband interlock together for a secure fit.
The headband holds the whole thing together.
All three elements can be cut out on a digital flatbed cutter, and each visor can be cut out in only 30 seconds.
Each mask can be assembled in under one minute.
Foster and Partners says that with it's single cutting machine, it was able to produce 1,000 visor masks per day.