After backlash, Apple is trying to speed up older devices, combat smartphone addiction
On Monday, Apple hosted its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, where it unveiled new features and updates ranging from routine software upgrades to augmented reality. Some of these features are of particular interest to users, as they directly address some of the company’s biggest scandals from the past year.
Apple’s new iOS 12 update speeds up older devices
Apple’s iOS 12 update will help older iPhones such as the iPhone 6, work better. According to software chief Craig Federighi, iOS 12 could carry out simple tasks such as opening apps twice as fast as iOS 11. This new system will work with a range of products from Apple’s newest iPhone X dating back to the iPhone 5s released back in 2013.
In addition, iOS 12 will launch its camera up to 70 per cent faster and the keyboard up to 50 per cent faster. Even when the device is running multiple programs, Apple claims that apps will launch up to twice as fast.
Apple came under fire last year after it admitted to slowing down older iPhones, apparently to “smooth out” peak power demands, to avoid unexpected shutdowns and to extend the lifespan of the batteries.
The company reacted to the firestorm of consumer anger by both releasing a guide to rechargeable batteries, offering a detailed explanation for slowing down users’ devices, and by issuing the iOS 11.3 update which allows users to turn off the speed-throttling feature on their phones if they wish (even though Apple advised against doing so).
“We will tell somebody we are reducing your performance by some amount in order to not have an unexpected restart, and if you don’t want it, you can turn it off. We don’t recommend it because we think that people’s iPhones are really important to them and you can never tell when something is so urgent. Our actions were all in service of the user,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview with ABC News at the time.
Apple’s new features will help you use your phone less
The smartphone giant also introduced features to help parents limit their children’s screen time. Parents will soon be able to set controls to put a cap on the time their children spend in apps, and will also control which apps they can use.
“Some apps demand more of our attention than we might realize,” Federighi said during the WWDC presentation.
Apple was criticized earlier this year for contributing to computer overdose by children, or smartphone “addiction.” The company came under fire from its shareholders early this year due to the concerns.
Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System urged the smartphone maker to take steps to address what they say is a growing problem of young people getting addicted to Apple’s iPhones, Jana partner Charles Penner said.
Apple also will give users reports on how much time they spend on apps and what gets them to check them constantly. They can set time limits on specific apps — and set controls for kids.
Augmented reality, updates to Siri, and a shot at Facebook with new “share” buttons
Apple introduced several features to make it harder for advertisers to distinguish between users, which included shutting down certain tracking mechanisms through the Safari browser in an update to Mac and iOS devices. Federighi said such tracking would be blocked by default. Even if users click to share an item, they will get a prompt with an option to prevent subsequent tracking.
Federghi also said Apple would be cracking down on a process called “fingerprinting,” where data companies identify specific devices by creating a unique fingerprint based on a device’s particular configuration settings, installed fonts and plug-ins. Apple plans to instead send out generic data to such collectors, making a user’s device look just like any other Apple device.
Apple claims the changes will make it “dramatically more difficult for data companies to identify you and track you.”
In addition, Apple will be rolling out new tools for augmented reality, Apple TV, and plans to add two-way, “walkie-talkie” communications features to watchOS 5.
-With files from the Associated Press and Reuters.
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