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WWDC 2015: Apple storms the digital world with new integrated updates

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San Francisco: Apple’s CEO Tim Cook on Monday morning came on to the stage in San Francisco to reveal the technology giant’s music service, OS X update El Capitan, iOS 9 and its Watch OS 2.

After being greeted by the crowd, Cook announced the ransom for a Cleveland Indians baseball player whose teammates are trying to shake him down for Apple products in exchange for a ball he wants to keep.

Soon after, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, announced the new updates.

After saying that OS X Yosemite had the fastest adoption rate of any PC operating system in history, Craig announced that the new OS X 10 will be called ‘El Capitan’ and will come with advancements under the hood to aid smarter ways to do things.

The new features will include Spotlight, Split View, and window management. Spotlight will now be able to search for more places and provide more useful results, including weather and sports scores.

Apple with this move seems to have prepared for the Windows 10 release and most of its intuitive menus seem to take a book from Windows’ play book and making it better.

He also introduced Metal, Apple’s graphics processing technology which will improve rendering by 50 percent and will scale up efficiency to 40 percent. Several gaming companies like Unity, 2K games are already adopting metal which uses Open CL, he added.

This announcement by Apple assumes significance, as Apple has always been a bad platform for heavy games. This transition will allow the company to expand its sales in the world market.

The new El Capitan will be available to developers from Monday.

“There will be a public beta in July and it will be rolled out to everyone in autumn via a free upgrade,” Craig added.

As a part of the conference, Craig also revealed updates to the iOS 9 which will extend battery life, improve security and performance. He also showed advancements to Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant which will be more proactive after the update.

Apple devices will now be able to anticipate what a user wants to do next based on location, the time, apps opened, or content the user is connected to. “It can also offer suggestions based on upcoming meetings and communication patterns,” Craig said.

The event also saw Jennifer Bailey, a 10-year Apple veteran and vice president of internet services, announce Apple Pay which will be launched in Britain. Londoners can take advantage of it and pay for their transit on the bus using the app. With iOS 9, users will be able to add retail store cards and reward cards to Apple Pay.

A few updates on apps were also announced. The Notes app, which has been completely redesigned for iOS9, will allow users to add a checklist of to-do items and access camera app from Notes to add photos.

Maps, the app, will also get updated and will get a new Transit view. Maps will now include directions for public transportation like buses, trains, subways, and ferries. The service will be launched in London as well as Berlin, New York, Mecxico City, San Francisco, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Apple introduced a new News app. Susan Prescott, vice president of product marketing, who joined Apple in 2003, introduced the app and explained its functions. The app looked a lot like Flipboard and will include news, interactive stories, photo galleries, animations and video.

Apple, which launched the iWatch six weeks back, also announced the arrival of the WatchOS 2. Users will be able to add photos, add photo album and add time-lapse photos for the watch face. The watch will be capable of showing and aiding usage of car-battery charge, home-control systems etc.

Interestingly, the watch will come with a time travel mode which shows the user about his schedule planned in his calendar. Features like alarms, replying to email, sketching ability and face time audio will also be present.

The new OS for the watch will also support voice control for Siri, apple pay, the wallet app along with the transit view on Maps app. The watch with the new update will be able to function with standalone Wi-FI and access microphone on it. Apple will also release watchkit (libraries for WatchOS) for developers to develop more apps for the watch.

At the end of the conference, Apple launched its music service. The service will not only host a library of songs but also connect artists with fans and will also run a 24/7 global radio station based out of three cities. (IANS)

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Blind Facebook employee is developing tech for sightless

At Facebook, he works on features to help people with disabilities use the platform.

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Pixabay
  • A blind Facebook employee is developing AI to make social network for sightless fun
  • He is developing AI which will verbalise images and videos
  • This technology will enable alt-text for images and videos

A blind Facebook employee is developing a technology that will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to verbalise the content of an image or video and enable the visually impaired to “see” and determine appropriate content for people and advertisers.

Facebook engineer Matt King is leading a project that is making solutions for visually impaired people on the platform that could eventually be used to identify images and videos that violate Facebook’s terms of use or that advertisers want to avoid.

Also Read : Facebook might bring Stories on desktop 

This feature will verbalise images and videos for the visually impaired. Image Source: Reuters
This feature will verbalise images and videos for the visually impaired. Image Source: Reuters

“More than two billion photos are shared across Facebook every single day. That’s a situation where a machine-based solution adds a lot more value than a human-based solution ever could,” CNBC quoted King as saying late on Saturday.

King, who was born with a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, lost his vision by the time he got his degree and started working at IBM with the tech giant’s accessibility projects.

He worked on a screen reader to help visually impaired people “see” what is on their screens either through audio cues or a braille device. IBM eventually developed the first screen reader for a graphical interface.

He worked with the accessibility team till Facebook hired him from IBM in 2015.

The man behind this development is Matt King.
The man behind this development is Matt King.

At Facebook, he works on features to help people with disabilities use the platform, like adding captions to videos or coming up with ways to navigate the site using only audio cues.

“Anybody who has any kind of disability can benefit from Facebook. They can develop beneficial connections and understand their disability doesn’t have to define them, to limit them,” King said.

Also Read : Facebook Profit Escalates with No Major Impact from Russia and it’s Advertisements

One of his main projects is “automated alt-text,” which describes audibly what is in Facebook images.

When automated alt-text was launched in April 2016, it was only available in five languages on the iOS app. Today it is available in over 29 languages on Facebook on the web, iOS and Android.

Facebook is available in more than 29 languages across the world. Pixabay
Facebook is available in more than 29 languages across the world. Pixabay

“The things people post most frequently kind of has a limited vocabulary associated with it,” the Facebook engineer said.

“It makes it possible for us to have one of those situations where if you can tackle 20 per cent of the solution, it tackles 80 per cent of the problem. It’s getting that last 20 per cent which is a lot of work, but we’re getting there,” he said.

In December 2017, Facebook pushed an automatic alt-text update that used facial recognition to help visually impaired people find out who is in photos. IANS