Fresh off the IT Block, 22nd September 2020
For today's stories; We will give you a run-down of the new iOS 14 update, we will discuss how Facebook is in the testing stages of combining Messenger and Instagram chats, and then we will move onto the PS5 and Xbox Series X battle, comparing sales, specs and recent announcements.
The iOS 14 update - What are the changes to your device?
As you'll probably be aware as an Apple phone owner, the new iOS 14 update is finally here!
What's new for you in this update? Well, let's talk about that...
Widgets, default apps and app library
Widgets are already a fantastic feature, but Apple has gone one step better in this update. First of all, you can set a default email and search browser widget (Such as Google Chrome and Gmail) - From this, you can implement a widget shortcut, which allows you to search the internet straight from your home screen, as opposed to opening a search browser app.
Less frequently used apps can now be reassigned to the app library on the back screen on your device, and those apps that you use for news, weather and social media notifications can be given custom widgets. You can choose where they are placed, and whether you would like them to be an enlarged widget, so there is more info. Widgets can now be expanded, while still being positioned alongside your favourite apps, so you don't have to manually jump between different apps to get where you need to be.
A similar feature with regards to apps is the all new "app library", where you can hide your favourite apps on the main home screen, and access them from either a single list (via the app library search bar), or through custom groups. Similar to how you can already group apps, now you can keep all of your groups on a single page of your home screen, and simply scroll down the groups to find the one you need.
Siri, FaceTime and Translate
In terms of voice related activities and apps, we'll start off with Siri. Now your voice assistant won't take up the whole screen when you activate her (Finally!). What's more, Siri can now send voice messages, instead of you just being able to send text messages and have Siri verify your text, it'll now simply send a recording of what it heard when you requested to send a text.
As for FaceTime calls, they'll also be much less intrusive, only appearing as a small bar on the top of your device's screen. This feature had long been anticipated as it became impossible to multi task if you wanted to reject or leave calls when you may have been busy on your iPhone/iPad.
Lastly, a new Translate app is now available, and it works the same way Google Translate does for Android users. As it is only a new feature, the language options might be deemed somewhat limited, but we all know Apple deliver when demand is there for a tweak in their design! Users can translate between 11 different languages, these are:
English, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Portuguese, and Russian.
Some other great updates include being able to pin your favourite contacts in the Messages app, as well as enhanced support on the Apple Maps app. Users can now look forward to more recommendations on places to travel, as well as handy guides for cycling (cycle paths, elevation of routes etc).
If you would like to check out the full update guide to learn more about what's new in iOS 14, click this link.
Facebook is combining Instagram and Messenger conversations into one - But they're just testing for now...
As part of Facebook's aim to unify their Instagram and Messenger services, users can expect to see a rollout for an all in one messaging platform, that will combine both your Instagram and Facebook Messenger conversations into one.
A select few users of Instagram will have logged onto their accounts on the 18th September to find an updated introductory page. It featured both the Messenger and Instagram logo positioned together along with a notice that read “There’s a New Way to Message on Instagram”. What came with this notice was a list of features:
A new colourful look for your chats
More emoji reactions
Chat with friends who use Facebook
Obviously, this update had been long talked about since way back in 2012, when Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion USD - Looking at how popular the social media platform is now, Facebook probably made one of the best decisions in their history by acquiring them.
As you might expect when you enter the app, the Instagram message logo is replaced by the Messenger logo, and your chat icons become more colourful. There will be a mix of blue and purple when it comes to the messaging colour scheme.
Facebook stated that the majority of users won't yet be able to message people through Instagram if that user is receiving the message from Facebook Messenger. The plans do look set to be rolled out at some time next year, and it would be expected that Facebook will also look to combine WhatsApp into their messaging updates for cross-platform use.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg wants the unified apps to become completely encrypted - This level of security would bring together potentially 4 billion individual accounts (Some accounts would be from the same people of course). Such a large messaging service could place Facebook above Apple's iMessage in terms of overall popularity.
For now, the experience is simply in the testing phase, but Facebook hopes to swiftly release it to groups of users in different markets, before we hopefully get a full launch some time in 2021. Facebook is currently valued at more than $500 billion USD, so you can tell this kind of update would bring them ever-closer to the current largest company, Apple.
The PS5 and Xbox Series X battle: Comparing sales, specs and recent announcements
As we all know, the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X might be the last front page news rivalry for when it comes to next gen console gaming.
First up, let's compare the pricing:
Both consoles will hit the shelves at the same price, with a starting value of $499 USD - The Xbox Series X will be released to most markets on the 10th November, meanwhile the PlayStation 5 is set to be released to the biggest markets from the 12th November (The UK will have it released on the 19th November, this also applies to the rest of the world).
In terms of the power the consoles provide, we already know that the Series X will supply more storage, boasting a 1 TB solid state drive, as opposed to the PS5, which offers 825 GB. For those players looking to make use of backwards compatibility, they'll be dissapointed by the PS5. PS1, PS2 and PS3 games won't be supported, but PS4 games will be available if they are already owned by the player. Xbox players can therefore look forward to a 4 series experience, meaning they can play games already owned as far back as the original XBOX.
On the graphics front, both consoles will offer an impressive 120 frames per second, with a stunning 8K resolution - This kind of quality has never been seen on console gaming, with 30 FPS being the quality on the last generation (PS4 and Xbox One).
When it comes to the controllers, the PS5 probably has the edge as they have developed the model the most, while the Xbox controller has been kept rather "classical". PS5 players can benefit from adaptive triggers (To serve as a way to create tension when shooting, running and aiming weapons for example). There will also be a create button, and an in-built microphone.
Xbox gamers will appreciate being able to use the new controller on the Xbox One, as well as on any Windows 10 PC.
Now, if you're wondering which games are being released exclusively, well the Xbox Series X doesn't have any! The PS5 on the other hand will have Spider Man: Miles Morales. It is quite likely that 2 more exclusives could be announced sometime before the end of the year for the PS5, long before the Xbox Series X sees any of its own. Microsoft did say that this console series wouldn't heavily rely on exclusives anyway, and their console probably edges the PS5 based on storage and backwards compatibility.
We will update you with more stories if any leaks are provided on things like new exclusives, specs information, price drops and sales figures.