Recent Articles By Andrew Orr [RSS]

Niantic Surprises Us: Harry Potter Wizards Unite Available NOW

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Niantic has decided to surprise us. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is available to download now, with the original launch date being tomorrow, June 21. I’ve spent a couple of minutes playing and reached level 2. Certain aspects of the game are slow, like UI-wise, like when you level up. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is set in J.K. Rowling’s fictional universe where players help protect the wizarding world from exposure to muggles. Players will use their smartphones to capture magical creatures running loose, hunt potion ingredients, and use portkeys to travel to popular locations in the wizarding world. Download it hereApp Store: Free

YouTube Under Federal Investigation Over Children’s Privacy

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The U.S. government is investigating YouTube for allegedly violating children’s privacy.

The complaints contended that YouTube, which is owned by Google, failed to protect kids who used the streaming-video service and improperly collected their data in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a 1998 law known as COPPA that forbids the tracking and targeting of users younger than age 13.

Apple Card Testing Program Expands to Retail Employees

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The Apple Card testing program has now expanded to include Apple’s retail employees. Although they can’t talk about the card but they can use it publicly to make purchases.

Many of the rank-and-file employees have already applied. The digital version via Apple Pay on the iPhone is usable immediately, while workers are told to expect the arrival of physical versions within two to three weeks. The employees are being offered the same APR range that Apple advertised to consumers: 13.24% to 24.24%, the people said.

I look forward to getting the Apple Card.

Serif Launches Affinity Publisher for Mac and Windows

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Serif, the creators of Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo, have today launched Affinity Publisher. It will let people create designs for magazines, books, brochures, posters, reports, stationary, and more.

Affinity is planning to release the new Publisher app for iPad in the future but for now, both Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo iOS users will have functionality with Affinity Publisher documents.

While Publisher itself will come to iPad later, owners of Affinity Designer and Photo on iPad will be able to open, edit and export Publisher documents, on the move, from today.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Launches July 21

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Harry Potter Wizards Unite

Niantic announced that its upcoming augmented reality game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, will launch this Friday, June 21. In a press conference outside Universal Studio’s Wizarding World in Florida, Niantic said it would hold Wizards Unite events similar to its Pokémon GO Fests. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is set in J.K. Rowling’s fictional universe where players help protect the wizarding world from exposure to muggles. Players will use their smartphones to capture magical creatures running loose, hunt potion ingredients, and use portkeys to travel to popular locations in the wizarding world.

Openly Operated Wants to Improve Privacy Policies

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Openly Operated is a certification for apps and services. The certification process ensures that they live up to their privacy and security claims with an audit.

An OO-certified app or site must meet three criteria. First, it needs to demonstrate “a basic level of transparency” by making its code and infrastructure — among other things — public and fully documented. Second, it needs to lay out its policy in the form of “claims with proof,” establishing what user data is collected, who can access it, and how it’s being protected. Third, those claims must be evaluated by an OO-certified auditor who then makes the audit results public.

I’ve complained about privacy policies before, and this sounds like a great idea. I hope it gets traction.

What if Plants Could Be Smart Home Devices?

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What if plants could be smart home devices? That’s the idea of Harpreet Sareen and Pattie Maes in their cyborg botany research.

These experiments led the researchers to possible future applications that include sending notifications—the plant might jiggle to alert you when your package is delivered, for instance—or as a motion sensor, which could help you keep track of your pet or be applied to security systems.

Cool idea. When most people talk about “invisible interfaces” they usually mean things like smart clothing or using your voice like with a HomePod. Now if only trees transmitted Wi-Fi…

What Finder Sync on macOS Catalina Looks Like

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In macOS Catalina, you won’t sync your iDevices in iTunes. Instead, you’ll have Finder sync. Stephen Hackett gives us an idea of what it will look like and how it works.

When you plug in an iPod to a Mac running Catalina, the device appears in the Finder sidebar,and clicking it reveals a wide range of syncing options, organized in a much nicer fashion that what is found in iTunes 12…

As you would imagine, each section in this interface surfaces content across various apps on the system. For example, Finder sees the local files I have in the new Music app…

Critically, most of the UI is pretty much the same.

Cardhop 1.1 Adds Multiple Business Cards, Template Settings, More

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Cardhop 1.1 came out today, bringing with it a lot of improvements: Template settings to customize fields and labels for new contacts; smart group templates: Create smart groups that automatically update based on common contact searches; multiple business cards: create separate business cards for different situations; business card settings automatically sync between devices using iCloud; stickers! Express yourself in iMessage with Cardhop’s sticker pack; Gravatar support to automatically find contact photos by email when adding or editing contacts; support for sending messages to groups with the parser; added YouTube social profile label, and more. App Store: US$3.99

Cardhop 1.1 Adds Multiple Business Cards, Template Settings, More

Body Suite 2 Update Offers New Keep and Contacts Apps

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Boxy Suite is a collection of Google apps on the Mac, to give users a native, non-web experience. Today Boxy Suite 2 is rolling out, with automatic dark mode; new apps for Google Keep and Google Contacts; a quick launcher to change your account, navigate between sections, and launch task managers; integration with task managers like Things, OmniFocus, 2Do, and Todoist; instant account switching; unread counts for all accounts; notifications for all accounts; improved Minimal Mode; and opening links in the background. The Dashboard has also been revamped, and a bunch of fixes in Boxy for Calendar are also available.

Body Suite 2 Update Offers New Keep and Contacts Apps