Notable: Amazon Alexa finally available on iOS; Chrome for iOS has a new Read Later feature; Netflix changes star rating to thumbs up and down

Amazon Alexa finally available on iOS

Amazon Alexa finally coming to iOS

When Amazon launches its smart speaker Amazon Echo in June 2015, it became an instant hit due mainly to its built-in Siri competitor Amazon Alexa voice assistant. There are third party iOS apps that allow you to interact with Alexa. Amazon is now bringing Alexa to iOS with the official Amazon app. You can now use it without buying any Amazon hardware.

You can use Alexa voice assistant to check the status of your order, do a product search, play music, start listening to Audible, check the news and weather etc. Check out Amazon iOS app [App Store Direct Link].

Chrome for iOS has a new Read Later feature

Chrome for iOS has a new Read Later feature

Google has updated its Chrome for iOS which comes with a brand new Read Later feature. The function is similar to Reading List in Safari except the articles in your reading list are saved on your device and you can read them even when you aren’t connected to the web. To add article to the reading list, tap on the standard share button on Chrome for iOS. On the popup menu, select “Read Later” Chrome icon to add the page to the list. [Direct link to Chrome for iOS on App Store]

Netflix changes star rating to thumbs up and down

Netflix changes star rating to thumbs up and down

According to Variety, Netflix is replacing its star rating for movie and TV review to simply just thumbs up or thumbs down. Based on user testing by Netflix, the simpler thumbs up/down got 200% more ratings than traditional star-rating feature. The changes is expected to roll out globally within the next month.

How to scan QR codes using browsers on iOS

There are a number of QR code reader app on the App Store. Most QR codes are nothing more than a link to a website address, thus it is convenient if mobile browser has QR code support built right in. This would mean one less app on your iPhone. 

Mobile Safari and Firefox do not support the scanning and reading of QR code. QR reading and scanning however are built-in feature for Chrome, Opera Mini, Puffin Browser and UC Browser.

For Opera Mini, the QR scanning option is available when you start typing in the address bar. Tap on the QR button on the keyboard toolbar to access the QR scanner.

QR scanner in Opera Mini

For Puffin Browser the QR scanner button is conveniently located on the right end of the address bar.

Puffin Browser QR Scanner

Similar to Puffin Browser, the QR scanner button on UC Browser is located at the end of the address bar.

UC Browser QR Scanner

Chrome is not making its QR scanning feature obvious to use. You can not access it from within the app. Instead the QR option is available when you 3D Touch the Chrome icon on the home screen. On the 3D Touch menu that pops up, tap on “Scan QR Code”.

3D Touch to access QR Scanner in Chrome

For those using an iPhone without 3D Touch, you can access Chrome’s QR scanner by using Spotlight search. On the home screen, pull down the Notifications screen or Search screen to access the Spotlight. Key in “qr” on the Spotlight search to let spotlight display the list of apps and documents with “qr” wording.

Using Spotlight to access Chrome QR Scanner

From the Spotlight result list, look for the Chrome icon with the text “Scan QR Code”. Tap on it will bring you directly to Chrome and launching the QR scanner.

It’s a good habit to turn on your iPhone using the Lock/Power button

Good habit to turn on your iPhone using the Lock Power button Today View

Ever since Apple redesign the iOS lock screen by removing the swipe-to-unlock gesture, you merely just need to press the Home button to wake and unlock the phone automatically using Touch ID. At times the Touch ID unlock the phone too quickly that you’d miss the Lock screen completely. 

Lock screen can be useful for quick glance at the time and date. Swiping right on the Lock screen will get you to the Today screen where you can place some useful widgets such as latest stock price and currency rates.

Swiping to the left will get you quick access to the camera. It is this convenience that you might want to consider to get in the habit of pressing the Lock/Power button to wake your phone to the Lock screen. Give it a try, it might saves you time if you use the camera a lot.

Recover hard disk space on your Mac by removing unused Xcode Simulator

If you’re Xcode user, especially if you’ve been running Xcode for few years, you might have outdated versions of iOS Simulator sitting on your precious hard disk doing nothing. Open up the Terminal app and enter the following command to remove those unused Simulator.

xcrun simctl delete unavailable

You can easily recover 2 to 8 GB of hard disk space, depending on how many Xcode Simulator you’ve installed in the past.

You can now apply for job in US and Canada from right within Facebook

You can now apply for job in US and Canada right within Facebook

Facebook has launched in the US and Canada a service to allow businesses to post job opening in businesses’ Facebook Pages. Aim at small business, the job openings can be posted to the news feed through status update, and will appear on a “Jobs” tab on business Page. When you see the posting, you can hit the “Apply Now” button to send an application. Facebook will pre-fill your profile and send your application via Facebook Messenger. 

WWDC 2017 will be in San Jose Jun 5-9, registration opens March 27

Apple WWDC Jun 5-9 2017

Apple has announced the 2017 edition of its annual World Wide Developer Conference. WWDC 2017 will see a change in venue from the usual San Francisco’s Moscone Center to San Jose and is on the week of June 5-9. WWDC is the event where Apple releases technical info on the next major version of iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS. 

Technology alone is not enough.Technology must intersect with the liberal arts and the humanities, to create new ideas and experiences that push society forward. This summer we bring together thousands of brilliant minds representing many diverse perspectives, passions, and talents to help us change the world.

Tickets will be offered by random selection to those who register their interest. Registration opens Monday, March 27 at 10 am PDT. You must be a member of Apple Developer Program to register. Mark your calendar and check out the WWDC site.

How to remove Siri from MacBook Pro Touch Bar

How to remove Siri from MacBook Pro Touch Bar

Siri on the Touch Bar can get in the way if you have the habit of hitting the edge of the Touch Bar. It can be annoying if Siri is turned on accidentally.

If you do not use Siri on a regular basis, you can remove it from the Touch Bar. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard. Click on “Customise Control Strip”. The Mac is now treating the Touch Bar as an external display where you can move your cursor into. Use the trackpad or mouse to drag the Siri icon on the Touch Bar out into the main screen. 

Notable: Watch Steve Jobs introduces first iPhone 10 years ago; Chris Lattner left Apple; Consumer Reports now recommends 2016 MacBook Pro; Apple increases tvOS app size to 4GB

Watch Steve Jobs introduces first iPhone 10 years ago

The first iPhone was launched 10 years ago on January 9, 2007. Watch the MacWorld keynote where Steve Jobs introduces the very first iPhone to the world.

Chris Lattner from Apple to Tesla

Chris Lattner from Apple to Tesla

Chris Lattner, the creator of Swift programming language and LLVM co-author, is going to Tesla after more than a decade with Apple. There are many speculations on his decision, after he led a successful transition to open source the Swift programming language. Maybe he is upset with the future direction or the lack of it in Apple?

Consumer Reports now recommends 2016 MacBook Pro  

 Consumer Reports now recommends 2016 MacBook Pro

Consumer Reports has reversed its position and is now recommending the latest 2016 MacBook Pro. Consumer Reports conducted a new test after Apple fixes a Safari bug that causes unpredictable battery life in the original test. The fix will be made available to the public in the coming macOS Sierra 10.12.3. 

Apple increases tvOS app size from 200MB to 4GB

Apple increases tvOS app size to 4GB

Ever wonder why there are not many console-like games available on tvOS? This is due mainly to lacklustre support from Apple for such games. Things might change as Apple has announced that the size limit of tvOS app bundle has increased from 200MB to 4GB.  This comes after Apple TV 4th generation has been on the market for more than 14 months, and right after the Nintendo Switch announcement.

24 Siri commands that you can use

24 Siri commands that you can use

Admit it, Siri at times can be frustrating when it does not answer your question. Or It just simply point you to a website or wikipedia page. We all like Siri to get super smart, until then it is good to learn about some specific commands that Siri can answer.

  1. “Read my last message” – read your last text message.
  2. “Text Jon Snow where are you now” – send a text message to Jon Snow.
  3. “Show me my last email” – display your last email.
  4. “Take a picture” – launch camera app.
  5. “Download Facebook” – launch App Store and search “Facebook” for you.
  6. “Open Twitter” – open Twitter app.
  7. “Remind me to bring my charger tomorrow at 9.30 am” – add a task to reminder
  8. “Wake me up in 9 hours”, “Wake me up at 8am” – to set alarm.
  9. “Timer 5 minutes” – to set timer.
  10. “What’s on my calendar for Monday” – to check calendar agenda.
  11. “Play Nine Inch Nails” – play song or album in your music library.
  12. “How many calories are in a banana” – substitute “banana” with any fruit you have in mind.
  13. “What’s 150 dollars in pounds” – convert currency.
  14. “How many ounces in one litre”, “How many inches in a meter”, “What’s 200 Fahrenheit in Celsius” – various convertor. 
  15. “What’s Apple stock price” – list stock price.
  16. “What’s ETA to Avenue 5” – list the estimated time to reach Avenue 5 from your current location.
  17. “What song is this?” – then point your iPhone to a song playing to identify the song.
  18. “Any good Japanese restaurants in the area” – get a list of restaurants nearby. 
  19. “What movies are playing in the area” – get movie listing.
  20. “What’s Morse code for Titanic” – find out the Morse code.
  21. “Do beatbox” – for some fun.
  22. “What is zero divided by zero” – for some classic Siri reply.
  23. “Toss coin” – to get tail or head.
  24. “Bye” – to quit Siri without pressing the Home button.

Thats certainly not all Siri could do. Ask Siri “What can you do” to find out more commands.

Notable: See Bots Chat; Chinese New Year wallpapers from Apple; iOS 10 on 76% of iOS devices

See Bots Chat on Twitch TV

See Bots Chat on Twitch

The singularity is near, so it may seems when you watch two bots talking to each other over Google Home live on Twitch. Its a male and female bots, continuously prompting each other with questions, answers and comments. The conversation at times is a treat, with wide ranging topics, and you can even hear them flirting and arguing with each other. Head over to Twitch TV live feed.

Apple celebrates Chinese New Year with wallpapers

Apple celebrates Chinese New Year with wallpapers

To celebrate the coming Year of the Rooster Chinese New Year, Apple for the first time launched a set of exclusive wallpapers. Available on Apple website in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, the wallpapers are created by young Chinese artists using apps on Mac and iPad. Download the wallpapers.

iOS 10 now on 76% of iOS devicesiOS 10 now on 76 percent of iOS devices

According to Apple’s developer page, iOS 10 is now on 76% of iOS devices as on January 4, 2017 based on App Store statistics. 18% of devices continue to run iOS 9. This is an improvement as iOS 9 garnered 75% of adoption rate around this time last year. Apple is expected to release iOS 10.3 this month.