As the pandemic recedes across the country, a lot has changed about the way we work and live. Some of us are currently planning to return to the office, while others will continue to work from home. Many of us will do both.
The software on our phones, which has been our most essential tool during the pandemic, is also evolving for this new reality. These changes are courtesy of Apple and Google, which recently unveiled their latest phone software designed for this era of Covid-accelerated hybrid remote work.
This week, Apple introduced iOS 15, the next operating system for the iPhone. The software gives device owners new tools to set boundaries for collaborative work, such as status notifications letting others know you’re busy before they text you. FaceTime, Apple’s video conferencing software, will also see its biggest expansion since its initial launch more than a decade ago. The service will eventually be open to non-Apple devices, including Android phones, and has been improved so video sessions look and sound better.
Last month, Google introduced Android 12, the latest operating system for mobile devices. The company is focused on streamlining the design of its software to help people get things done more efficiently, including a menu of shortcuts to access their favorite tools faster.
For Carolina Milanesi, Creative Strategies’ consumer technology analyst, the changes in iOS 15 and Android 12 – specifically Apple’s tool for setting digital boundaries – reflect the way life and business Our jobs are changing as we try to leave the pandemic behind.
“The little reminder that people don’t want to be disturbed is really important,” she says. “You might get your message ready over the weekend, but you don’t hit send until Monday morning, so you don’t push others to work on the weekend. It relieves pressure. “
Apple and Google walked me through the highlights of their new mobile operating systems, which also included improvements and new privacy controls to the phone’s camera. Both systems are set to release this fall.
Here’s what you need to know.
Apple and Google want you to be more productive.
Stuck at home for most of the last year, many of us were glued to our phone screens, chatting on video calls and texting loved ones between doom sessions. For some people, it makes them feel like they can’t focus on a single task.
In response, Apple’s new software gives iPhone owners tools to reduce distractions, while Google has added buttons to help people perform tasks on their phones more quickly.
Consider a new feature from Apple, called Focus. Focus can be used to establish dividing lines for different parts of your day. You can divide your day into categories like personal life, work, and sleep. For each of them, you then decide which people and apps can cause notifications to appear on your phone.
During work, you can set your phone so that only messages from your boss appear as notifications; Other notifications will be muted. If you want to focus on your personal life, you can only allow notifications from family and friends. You can also set your phone to Do Not Disturb and have a status message like “On time” or “Going to the movies”. People trying to message you will see that status and may consider texting you later.
Google’s changes are more aesthetic. It redesigned the controls in Android to include large rectangular buttons for easy access to functions like flashlight, internet settings, and voice recorder.
Apple’s FaceTime is getting an upgrade just like Zoom.
Video conferencing has become a popular means of communication for office meetings, happy hours, and yoga sessions. Now, Apple’s FaceTime is getting a major overhaul, with more features and the ability to work with non-Apple devices. Those changes put it on par with Zoom, the #1 video conferencing app.
For the first time with iOS 15, FaceTime will be accessible through an internet browser. That means Android and Windows users can use their browsers to video chat with iPhone users during a FaceTime session by clicking a link.
But FaceTime’s most notable new features are still exclusive to Apple users. SharePlay will allow iPhone owners during a FaceTime call to use an app together. If you stream a movie and press the SharePlay button, the other person on the call will be able to stream the movie simultaneously. However, if the Android user is making a FaceTime call, the SharePlay function will not work at all.
Apple’s camera software catches up with Google.
For years, Apple and Google have competed head-to-head when it comes to phone cameras that take great photos. But Apple’s camera software has lagged behind Google’s, which is powered by artificial intelligence. In iOS 15, Apple is taking steps to make its camera software smarter.
With a feature Apple calls Live Text, iPhone users can soon do more with the camera’s ability to act as a document scanner. For example, if you take a photo of a restaurant receipt, you’ll be able to use Live Text to tap the phone number in the photo to call the restaurant. Or if you point the camera at the tracking label, you can tap the tracking number to instantly track the package – no typing required.
Apple device owners will also be able to find these types of images later by searching keywords. So if you take a picture of a handwritten recipe, you can open your photo album and type the name of the recipe to search for the image. At that point, you can also convert scribbled notes from handwritten formulas to text and transfer it to a digital notebook.
This powering technology is called optical image recognition, combined with some artificial intelligence. The Android photo app has had a similar feature, Lens, for about four years.
And Google catches up with Apple on privacy.
Apple has made waves over the past few years with tools to protect user privacy, including a button that allows iPhone owners to ask apps not to track and share their activity with other devices. third parties such as marketers.
Google, whose revenue is largely based on serving digital ads, didn’t respond with a similar prompt to make it easy for people to opt out. But Android 12 will make people more transparent about what data apps are collecting and provide new controls to restrict apps’ access to data.
A tool, which Google calls privacy dashboard, shows a timeline of apps that have access to different parts of the phone throughout the day. It may show that a social networking app touched your camera at 1pm and a weather app used your location at 3pm
Google has also added some buttons like an off switch to turn off the app’s access to the phone’s microphone and camera. That can be useful in sensitive situations, such as when you’re going to see a doctor and want to make sure an app isn’t overhearing the conversation.
Apple also said this week that more privacy controls are coming to the iPhone, including so-called app privacy reports that work similarly to Google’s privacy dashboard. In addition to revealing what data is being mined by each app, the privacy report will show the domains or web addresses the apps are contacting. That can provide insights into which companies an app is sharing data with while you’re using it.