Your iPhone is Getting Even Smarter
Apple’s Spotlight tool is getting a big upgrade, and the changes mean it will be easier than ever to find information on your Mac, iPad or iPhone. This upgrade and other new features that will be in iOS 9 were announced during the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDX) on June 8.
The Spotlight tool, which searches for apps and files on all Apple devices, will now be able to search within apps as well. For example, you could type “find an email from Brad” into Spotlight and you would be taken to that message in your email app. You will also be able to search the entire web right from Spotlight, with the aid of context-aware features on the default search engine, Bing.
Using apps will be more integrated too. Certain apps will start based on your physical location, so for example iTunes might start when you plug in at the gym. This could mean changes for how apps are developed, and also for how websites are built and optimized. Other iOS changes include better ways to preserve battery life, a smarter Siri, and split-screen multitasking. The beta version is planned for a July release.
Google Adds Location-Aware Search and Inter-App Navigation Tools
Many of the features announced by Apple last week are similar to what Google released for Android several weeks ago. Behshad Behzadi, Director of Conversational Search for Google, discussed the upgrades to Google Now On Tap at SMX Paris on June 9. Now, you can ask your phone questions such as “how deep is it” when you’re standing near a river, and you’ll get correct answers even if you don’t know the river’s name. You can also ask when a restaurant reopens if you’re standing in front of it, for example, or ask the name of a park you’re in. The feature hasn’t been named yet but it’s 100 percent live so you can try it for yourself. If you don’t own an Android phone, you can try it on your iPhone by using the Google Search App. Also at SMX Paris, Google showed how it can use this technology on Android phones to navigate between apps. We join Ars Technica in noticing that Apple seems to be playing catch-up.
Apple Announces Apple Music and Beats 1
Apple changed the world with iTunes as a way to purchase and listen to music, and now it’s looking to make inroads into streaming music as well. At SMDX last week, it unveiled a streaming service called called Beats 1. The cost for ad-free streaming will be $10 per month, or $15 per month for sharing among up to six users. Other features in the new Apple Music will include a library of all your music, a space for artists to promote themselves and share exclusive content, a recommendation system, and a hub for newly released music. It is to be released June 30.
The Russians are Polluting the Internet
The New York Times Magazine reported this week that organized groups of trolls in Russia are intentionally polluting the Internet with false news stories and hoaxes. This corporatized trolling is apparently an effort to discredit the Internet as a useful source of information.
The Times’ Investigative reporter Adrien Chen found out that a shadowy group, best known as the Internet Research Agency, pays people to flood sites such as Twitter with false news and to post faked videos about things like explosions, Ebola, gas leaks and terrorism. It’s been used politically inside Russia as well, and is being called “information warfare.” The group has links to Evgeny Prigoazhin, a wealthy and powerful supporter of the Kremlin.
“From what I have gathered from talking to activists, it’s really to kind of pollute the Internet, to make it an unreliable source for people, and so that normal Russians who might want to learn about opposition leaders or another side of things from the Kremlin narrative will just not be able to trust it,” Chen said in an interview with PBS Newshour.