The troubled social media company hopes the rebrand will “better communicate” its services.

Facebook has unveiled its new corporate identity, which has been designed with branding consultants Saffron and typeface designers Dalton Maag.

Although the Facebook company and the Facebook app still share a name, they now have different logos.

The logo is now an uppercase wordmark. Facebook’s chief marketing officer, Antonio Lucio wrote in a blog post that the updated logo’s “custom typography and capitalization” distinguishes the Facebook company from the Facebook app, whose branding will stay the same.

A moving image logo, which changes colour, also demonstrates the range of products which are part of Facebook’s growing network.

While it started as a social media company, Facebook now owns many technological services such as Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and its instant messaging app, Messenger.

“We started being clearer about the products that are part of Facebook years ago,” Lucio says. Over the summer, it began adding “from Facebook” within its family of apps, for example.

Over the coming weeks, Facebook will start using the new branding for their products and marketing, including a new company website.

IG-Product-Screen

Design details

The new logo was designed with “clarity and openness in mind”, according to a post on Facebook’s design site. “The generous spacing and open letterforms allow clarity at small sizes, and the subtle softening of corners and diagonals adds a sense of optimism,” it says.

In creating an “empathetic colour palette” which changes colour based on the individual brand, Facebook hopes to create a “clearer relationship” between its network of apps.

WhatsApp-Product-Screen

Facebook has also announced an updated art direction, with images that make the brand come to life “in the context of people, cultures, communities and relationships”.

The design team adds: “As the company continues to evolve, we hope this brand can help us better communicate the progress we’re making.”

Troubled times

The rebrand comes amid difficult times for Facebook.

Former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton said that Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg “should pay a price” for the social media company’s involvement in the 2016 US election.

In 2018, news broke that British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had illegally used data from over 50 million Facebook users to target voters. This data was also used as part of Leave.EU’s Brexit campaign in 2016.

Facebook’s controversial virtual currency platform, Libra, which is supposed to launch next year, has also come under fire recently. It has lost 28 of its initial backers and faced criticism from multiple regulatory bodies, including the G7. Libra’s virtual wallet app, Calibra, was also the subject of a lawsuit from bank start-up Current.

 

Source: Design Week

The app’s update is inspired by streaming services like Apple Music and Netflix.

The Guardian has redesigned its Daily app for an “enhanced reading experience” that aims to provide readers with a more “curated” version of the newspaper’s content.

Unlike the Guardian’s website and Live app, which are updated throughout the day, stories for the Daily edition will be chosen by editors and published once a day at 3:00 BST. All the content is available to download for offline reading.

One of the biggest changes from the current edition of the Daily app — available across iOS and androids, and on tablets and phones — is the categorisation.

This was inspired by internal research at the paper – including analysis of user navigation – which resulted in content being divided into more intuitive terms for readers.

Alex Breuer, executive creative director at the Guardian, says the app took a similar lead in becoming more reader-orientated. It is split into eight “pillars”; Top Stories, National, World, Financial, Journal, Culture, Life and Sport.

“In a matter of seconds, you can get an overview of what we have curated as the most important stories in news or in culture or in lifestyle,” Breuer says.

Restructure

The-Guardian-Daily-2
Courtesy of the Guardian

The user interface (UI) is pared back; there’s no video, sound, or interactive graphics. When you click on an image, you simply get the caption.

Breuer says this simplicity is intentional: “We were wary of complexity for complexity’s sake.”

This reader-centred approach resulted in a range of design details, some inspired by interfaces of apps that were not journalistic, such as music and television streaming services.

With the challenge of dealing with so much content, Breuer says that he was particularly inspired by Netflix and Apple Music, which have a “similar challenge” in presenting a vast amount of content to users.

As well as the new categories, at the top of each section are “little sliders” which have a “lozenge-type” button that slides along when you swipe through articles.

Breuer says: “Each of those dots corresponds to a panel of content and what we’re trying to show with this is that there is a finite amount of journalism.

“Unlike the website where there are thousands of articles, this is a manageable moment of the most important stories that we have published.”

Breuer says that the sliders have proven successful during the testing stage, as it “shows there’s an end before you get there”. “That’s simple and powerful”, he adds.

The reader is in control

This sense of the “reader being in control” emerges in other details. When you select an article for example, it comes up as a “tray” rather than filling the whole screen.

“We wanted to feel that when you go into an article, it was a quick swipe to get rid of it,” Breuer adds.

The vertical scrolling through sections, and left-to-right swiping of individual articles was aimed at readers who would want to know the key stories and those who wanted to go more in-depth into each section.

“We saw that first screen as a light overview of everything for people who might want the information more quickly, and simply through the UI — of swiping right — you can get deeper into any section,” Breuer says.

“What defines this product is the day of the week”

The-Guardian-Daily-1
Courtesy of the Guardian

The Daily app is distinct from both the paper’s webpage and Live app. This created “interesting design challenges,” according to Breuer.

For example, for the weekend edition of the app, sections “preserve the journalistic content” but do not have the same categories as the physical paper.

With Monday to Friday having a structure unique to the digital product, Breuer says it would have been “clumsy” to revert to the “print nomenclature on the weekend”.

What is called the ‘Review’ in Saturday’s physical paper — a section that covers culture and lifestyle — is split into more specific categories on the app, such as ‘Books’, ‘Culture’, and ‘Food’.

Branding played a key part in this design too. The only place where the Guardian’s name appears is on the app’s splash screen before the edition loads.

“Beyond that, there is no word for The Guardian,” Breuer says. “What defines this product is the day of the week.”

Future plans

Breuer says that his team is exploring customisation on the app. Some test users have “shown a desire to get to certain parts of the app quicker than others,” he says. Physical responses, such as vibration responses or sound notifications, are also absent from the current version of the app.

Breuer says that both these options might be in the pipeline for the app, but that the initial focus was to create a “functioning” piece of UI.

The app might also incorporate video, sound and interactive content in the future, but this again is not the current focus. The paper’s recent series on pollution had interactive features online, for example – such as a tool which allowed users to explore MPs’ records on climate votes.

“With a product like the Daily app, we hope it’s speed and simplicity which will draw people to it,” Breuer says.

The Guardian’s growth strategy

Digital-bundle-crop
Courtesy of the Guardian

The Daily app’s redesign is the latest part of The Guardian’s growth strategy, outlined at the beginning of April 2019. As part of a three-year strategy, the paper set out to reach a goal of two million supporters.

Juliette Laborie, The Guardian’s director of digital reader revenues, says that this meant “quite significantly growing the reader revenue operations” which includes contributions as well as digital subscriptions, which the Daily app is now part of. US and Australian version of the app are planned for next year.

Last year, The Guardian Weekly was relaunched as a glossy news magazine in an attempt to appeal to a more global audience. In April 2019, The Guardian’s Sunday paper, The Observer also launched a biannual, print design magazine called Design.

Breuer began to overhaul the Guardian’s digital products in 2014 when a responsive website was launched and the digital design language rethought across platforms.

 

Source: Design Week

Facebook has launched a tool for UK users to report ads they suspect of being scams.

The feature can be accessed by clicking the three dots in the top right corner of each ad on Facebook, then selecting ‘Report ad’, then ‘Misleading or scam ad’ and finally: ‘Send a detailed scam report’.

So if you want to think of it as a reporting ‘button’ it’s a button that actually requires four presses to function as intended…

Flow of reporting mock up.png.rendition.992.992

Once a scam ad report has been filed, the feature will alert a dedicated internal ops team at Facebook that is tasked with handling reports — so will be reviewing reports and removing violating ads.

The new consumer safety feature follows a defamation lawsuit filed in April last year by consumer advice personality, Martin Lewis, who had become exasperated by the volume of scam ads misappropriating his image on social media to try to trick users into parting with their savings.

Earlier this year Lewis announced he was withdrawing his lawsuit after Facebook agreed to beef up its response to the problem by saying it would add the scam ad reporting feature — which is exclusive to the UK for now — and establish a local team to monitor ad trends for dubious activity.

Facebook also agreed to donate £3M worth of support in cash and Facebook ad credits to UK consumer advice charity, Citizens Advice, to fund the setting up of a Citizens Advice Scams Action (Casa) service — which has also launched today.

This service will provide specialist one-on-one help to those worried they’re being scammed or who have already lost money as a result of fake ads. It will also undertaken scam prevention work, including by raising awareness of online scams in the UK.

Writing in a blog post today on the money saving advice website he founded, Lewis confirms both the Facebook scam ad report tool and Casa have launched — the former some three months tardier than Facebook had suggested at their joint press conference in January.

As regards Casa,  UK Internet users who think they have been, or are being, scammed online — either by ads or other methods — can now call the service on 0300 330 3003 for one-on-one help, or access http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scamsaction for more info or a web chat.

Face to face appointments will also be available in England, Wales and Scotland at local Citizens Advice bureaus. Lewis writes that the service is expected to help at least 20,000 people in the first year.

“These initiatives, which are available from today, are crucial, as scam ads can have devastating consequences,” he adds, noting that his own complaints to Facebook vis-a-vis scam ads bearing his image led to more than 1,000 ads being taken down.

“The adverts, placed by criminals, often use fake celebrity images or endorsements to dupe people into investing in fake ‘get rich quick’ schemes, buying diet pills and more.

“They can lead to many people being conned out of their cash – in the case below a man in his 80s lost almost £50,000 – and have a serious impact on people’s mental health and self-esteem.”

We’ve reached out to Facebook with questions, including whether it has plans to extend the scam ads reporting tool to other markets.

In a statement provided to Lewis, Steve Hatch, Facebook’s vice president for northern Europe, said: “Scam ads are an industry-wide problem caused by criminals and have no place on Facebook. Through our work with Martin Lewis,  we’re taking a market leading position and our new reporting tool and dedicated team are important steps to stop the misuse of our platform.

“Prevention is also key. Our £3 million donation to Citizens Advice will not only help those who have been impacted by scammers, but raise awareness of how to avoid scams too. At a global level we’ve tripled the size of our safety and security team to 30,000 people and continue to invest heavily in removing bad content from our platform.”

Also commenting in a statement, Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, added: “We know online scams affect thousands of people every year. We’re pleased the agreement between Martin Lewis and Facebook meant we could set up this dedicated service to give more help to people who have fallen victim to online scams.

“This project means we can not only support people who have been targeted, but also raise awareness of what to look out for to help prevent online scams happening in the first place. Citizens Advice Scams Action will work alongside the free and impartial help we already offer to anyone who needs advice — whoever they are, whatever their problem.”

While celebrating the launch of Casa, Lewis’ blog post points out that the initial funding “won’t last for ever” — and he calls on other big online ad players to “follow Facebook’s lead, and put their hands in their pockets”.

At the press conference in January Lewis was especially critical of Google  for being less responsive to the issue and for not having easy ways for users to report scam ads running on its networks.

We’ve reached out to Google for a response.

In another recent change to its ads platform, Facebook is also now providing users with more information about why they are seeing an ad — if they click through the menu to the option ‘why I am seeing this ad?’.

The company had been criticized for displaying only extremely general targeting criteria — making the feature appear more like a smokescreen than a genuine step towards ad targeting transparency. But last weekFacebook said it was now showing “more detailed targeting, including the interests or categories that matched you with a specific ad”.

It also said it will be “clearer where that information came from (e.g. the website you may have visited or Page you may have liked)”.

Facebook also announced updates to the Ad Preferences menu to provide its users with more information about businesses and third parties that upload lists containing their personal data, such as their email address or phone number, to Facebook to target them with ads — though limiting the data to a 90-day snapshot.

“This section aims to help you understand the third parties and businesses who have uploaded and shared lists with your information,” it wrote of the changes. “In this section, you’ll see the business that initially uploaded a list, along with any advertiser who used that list to serve you an ad within the last 90 days.”

Despite this, Facebook still does not let users deny advertiser uploads of their personal data to Facebook via Facebook itself.

In order to do that a Facebook user would have to contact each and every advertiser individually.

 

Source: Tech Crunch

Announced at this year’s Adobe Max conference, designers and illustrators will be able to use the image editing and design software on a touchscreen device in 2019.

Photoshop on iPad

Until now, Photoshop has only been available to use on a desktop computer – but Adobe has announced this week that its product will be available for use on the iPad, then later other touchscreen tablets, in a bid to give designers more “freedom” when working.

Photoshop for iPad will have all the same capabilities as the program has on desktop, including the ability to open PSD files, and will feature the layers panel.

It also has the same pixel grid as the software does on desktop, meaning it can work to as high a resolution, and allows users to create over 200 layers in one document.

The update aims to encourage “multi-device creativity”, says Adobe, by allowing designers to work across many devices and in different places such as when travelling. They will be able to save their work completed on iPad to the Creative Cloud, then continue it on a desktop computer later, and vice versa.

“Freedom” to work away from computer

“The common [idea] is that this gives creatives the freedom to work away from desktop, and be un-tethered to a [computer],” says Jenny Lyle, senior product manager at Adobe Photoshop. “When you think about being creative, the physical space is a huge part of that. [People think differently] when they’re in production mode, compared to when they’re taking a walk in the park or watching a film that inspires them. [It’s about] mobility.”

Lyle adds that applying the design software to a touchscreen device aims to make Photoshop more “accessible” and less “intimidating” for budding designers and those who want to try it out.

“We’ve done user testing with groups in high-school who are mobile natives, and they’ve been using Photoshop on a desktop computer for one hour a day,” she says. “They say Photoshop is intimidating, but playing with it on an iPad makes it more approachable to learn or work with.”

Touching a screen is “more intimate”

When asked by Design Week how she feels the iPad will change how designers work with Photoshop, she says that the update aims to make using digital design software more tangible, tactile and emotional.

“The touch element has made [designers] feel closer to their work as it feels more intimate,” she says. “They’re not working through a keyboard or mouse that’s separated from a screen, they’re working on a canvas, which they can put their hands on and play with.”

The announcement comes as a series of other updates have been announced for Photoshop, both on desktop and iPad.

Better colour-matching and ability to revert step-by-step

This includes a new colour wheel feature, which aims to allow designers to pick colour shades more easily, and also revert to previous colours used.

Designers can also now undo mistakes or go back through their work step-by-step; the “undo” shortcut action of pressing “command/control-z” on the keyboard has been applied to Photoshop, meaning designers can revert through previous actions.

Resizing images to proportion has also been simplified – designers need not press the “shift” key to keep an image in proportion while they shrink it anymore as free transform is now proportional by default. This means users just click from the corner of the image and drag without holding down “shift”, making the image smaller or bigger to scale as they wish.

Easier subject selection

Adobe’s artificial intelligence (AI) robot Sensei has also been put to use to make selecting and cutting out subjects (people, animals, objects or anything specific) in images simpler – now, rather than having to physically click around the whole object in dots to make a selection, just clicking a few times will enable the AI to figure out what the object is and make an automatic selection for the user.

Due to launch on iPad in 2019

The Photoshop software updates for desktop launch immediately. Photoshop for iPad is due to launch in 2019 but Adobe has not yet specified in which month.

Following the launch on iPad, Photoshop is expected to launch on other touchscreen tablets such as Android devices, as part of a “long-term strategy”, according to Adobe. The company has not yet confirmed when this will be.

 

Source: Design Week

The creative software company has announced its updates for 2018, which include a new “all-in-one” video app, and changes to Adobe Spark and XD.

Adobe has announced its 2018 updates to its suite of creative software tools, and has launched a new video editing app called Rush.

Adobe Rush

Rush is a new “all-in-one” video editing app that allows users to adjust colour, sound and add special effects within the app, as well as tweak the video for publishing on different social platforms.

The app aims to be accessible to a wide range of creative people rather than just videographers, and allow people to shoot and edit video “on-the-go”, while also enabling them to capture “real” and “authentic” moments with their phone.

Rush can be used on mobile and desktop, and its content automatically syncs to the cloud, meaning work-in-progress can be moved between different devices.

“Rush has all the same features on mobile and desktop, allowing you to work wherever you want without losing creative flexibility,” says Adobe.

Aside from the new video app, existing programs including Lightroom CC, Adobe Spark, Adobe XD and Adobe PDF Services have been updated.

Lightroom CC

LIghtroom healing brush on mobile

Lightroom CC, a cloud-based photo storage and editing program, now allows users to create “presets” on mobile, bespoke settings around lighting, colour and effects, which can then be quickly applied to photos. Presets can be made by the user or bought from a third party, and they can now also be synchronised across devices meaning photos can be edited anywhere.

Other new features include users being able to “copy and paste” editing settings from one photo to another, use the “healing brush” to remove blemishes on mobile, adjust colour and light more easily, and try out “technology previews” of new features through the app.

Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark Fixed Elements

Graphic design app Adobe Spark is now also available for Android devices, and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store, while web and app design program Adobe XD has two new features, Overlays and Fixed Elements.

Overlays allow app designers to insert objects or text that they would like to animate on-screen – for example, a pop-out box or caption. Fixed Elements allows users to specify which parts of a page they would like to remain “fixed”, such as a header or footer, allowing other content to scroll with the fixed ones staying in place.

Finally, Adobe PDF has been updated so that pdfs preserve the original typefaces, formatting and layouts used in other editing programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

Source: Design Week

Chrome is the biggest web browser. Use these extensions to get it to work for you.

Chrome’s web store is full of little digital gadgets to help make your web browsing simpler, more productive, and more enjoyable. Here are our top eight extensions that tick those boxes and are all downloadable for free in a matter of moments.

LastPass

LastPass means you only have to remember one password to keep all your other login details together in one place. It will also help keep your other accounts secure by generating super secure passwords that it will fill in automatically as needed. There’s space for notes for offline information that you want to be well protected too. Install it here.

Colorzilla

When you simply have to know the precise hue of something online, Colorzilla’s eyedropper can check any pixel and tell you. You can then paste that colour’s data into another programme or adjust the values and save it within the extension for future reference. It’s an invaluable extension for digital design work. Get the extension here.

TinEye

When finding the source of a picture’s proving difficult, try TinEye’s reverse image search. It focuses on the closest possible matches instead of just similarity, making it useful for finding originals, higher resolution versions, or checking for online fakes. The extension itself makes searches available in only a couple of clicks. Install TinEye’s Chrome extension from here.

Unpaywall

For those who want to read academic papers without stumping up for subscription fees. As you look for research, this extension searches for free (and completely legal) versions of the same articles, and pops into view if it finds a match. A potential saver of both time and money. Get it here.

Save to Pocket/Instapaper

Either of these extensions will let you to save web pages and articles for reading on your synced devices later, even without an internet connection. Both have premium versions too, if you want to support the developers and get extra features in return. Get Pocket and Instapaper’s extension here.

The Great Suspender

It’s all too easy to open absurd numbers of tabs in your browser. The Great Suspender helps to manage your computer’s performance by stopping abandoned tabs until you click back on them. There is a lot of room for configuration too, the extension able to keep certain sites open indefinitely, or unload others after a shorter period of time. Install it here.

Backstop

It’s happened to all of us. One bad key press and you’re on the previous webpage and all the info you were just typing into that form has disappeared. This simple extension stops your backspace key from taking you to the previous page, saving you from wasted time and frustration. Get it here.

 Source: Wired

It’s 10 PM. Do you know what your apps are doing?

Phone apps

Your smartphone wouldn’t be all that useful without all the apps you’ve downloaded. Even when you’re not actively poking around within a program, it can run in the background—updating your location, checking your email, or playing music—to make life more convenient. But to do so, it needs permission from your phone.

Permissions let Google Maps check where you are in the world, your camera apppeek through the phone’s camera, and your favorite messenger scan your contacts before sending an SMS. Typically, apps request this type of access when you first open them. But you might end up granting some of them permissions that go beyond what the apps actually need. To check on these, you should regularly audit your app permissions.

Periodic permissions checks protect you against potentially unscrupulous app developers and give you more control over your privacy. As an added bonus, if fewer apps are working away in the background, your phone can save on battery life. Here’s how to get checking.

On Android

To find your apps and their permissions on Android, open the Settings and then tap Apps & notifications, App info, and the app you’re interested in. Select the Permissions entry to see all the privileges the app enjoys. You can revoke any of them at any time by toggling off the switch next to that entry.

Another option is to browse by permission rather than by app. Open Settings and go to Apps & notifications as you did before. But this time, choose App permissions rather than opening the settings for an individual app. Here, you’ll find a list that includes Body sensors, Calendar, Camera, Contacts, Location, Microphone, SMS, Storage, Telephone, and more. Tap any entry to see which apps can access that particular function. Again, you can make any necessary changes by adjusting the toggle switches.

However, before you start cutting off permissions, remember that some apps rely on this access to do their jobs. For example, if an app can view your contacts, it might be using them to help you share content, to split a ride-hailing fare, or to invite people to an event—not to mine your data for profit. If you’re not sure why an app is asking for a particular permission, don’t shut it down immediately. First, look at its official website or its listing on the Google Play Store to see if it explains why it needs that access. Or contact the developer directly to ask why the program requested a certain permission.

On iOS

On iOS, check on app permissions by opening Settings then tapping Privacy. Here, iPhones group all the permissions by type, including access to your device’s location, the Health app, the microphone, and other functions. Tap any permissions entry to see which apps have requested access and hit the toggle switches to approve or block individual apps in each category. For location tracking, you have more minute control: You can allow apps to track your location at all times, only when they’re open, or not at all.

Like Android, iOS also lets you adjust permissions on an app-by-app basis. On the Settings screen, scroll down to see a list of all your installed apps. Tap on one of the entries, then work through the permissions one by one.

Some of the permissions you’ll see in iOS don’t exist on Android devices. The Siri & Search entry, for example, means data from an allowed app will show up when you search your device manually or with Siri. Meanwhile, the Background App Refresh option means apps can update themselves in the background while they’re not actually in use. Most of the time, such as when an app checks your inbox for new emails, this ability can be useful. But if you turn this off for certain apps, you’ll get a slightly longer battery life in return.

As on Android, if you’re not sure why an app is asking for a particular permission, check its Apple Store listing or website, or contact with the developer directly. For example, Snapchat published an explanation of the permissions it needs—including access to the camera to take Snaps and to the microphone to record audio—in order to work properly on your device.

In individual apps

On top of the standard requests, some apps want additional permissions that you can review inside their own settings. These usually cover data collection and user behavior within the app—so they’re less about what the app is allowed to do on your phone and more about what the app can log and record about your activity within it.

For example, look at Twitter. From the front page of the app, tap on your avatar, choose Settings and privacy, and then choose Privacy and safety. Under the Personalization and data heading, you can see what data Twitter is collecting on your behavior, and how it uses this information to show you more relevant ads as you browse.

Other apps contain similar permissions within their settings or on their official websites. So if you’re concerned about privacy, try reviewing these, as well as the terms and conditions you accepted when you first signed up for that service. In some cases, you have to accept an app’s policies to use it at all.

When it comes to apps’ activity on your phone, from accessing the camera to rifling through your contacts, our previous instructions should have you covered. While removing certain permissions can, in some cases, limit an app’s overall functionality, most of the time, the app as a whole should still run with reduced access.

Source: Popsci

Curiscope’s Virtuali-Tee blends augmented and virtual reality to let people explore a human chest cavity through a T-shirt

When it comes to augmented and virtual reality, Ed Barton has been there and got the T-shirt. His Brighton-based startup Curiscope produces The Virtuali-Tee, a garment printed with a stylised QR code that resembles a rib cage. Hover your phone over it, and using its app, you can explore the human chest cavity and peer at the heart, lungs and veins. “We use a mix of VR and AR to see inside the anatomy,” explains Barton, 28. “With positionally tracked AR, you can position VR experiences physically within your environment.” Curiscope has sold more than 3,000 Virtuali-Tees. Barton (pictured) and co-founder Ben Kidd have raised almost $1 million (£780,000) in seed funding from LocalGlobe.

When the pair founded the company in 2015, they began making 360° YouTube videos. Their first upload in January 2016, featuring a shark dive, became one of the site’s most-watched VR videos. But they felt something was missing. Surely there was more to VR than videos? For Barton, the solution was positionally tracked AR, which lets them overlay 3D imagery on to the material world. “YouTube is fantastic, but doesn’t give us the scope to do transformative work with physical products,” Barton says. With positional tracking, he says, “we have a blurring of physical and digital items, and an experience more tightly connected to reality”. This was the birth of the Virtuali-Tee. Barton and Kidd conceived the product in March 2016 and went into production thanks to £74,000 in Kickstarter funding. “With the Virtuali-Tee, AR is your interface and VR is used to transport you somewhere else. The technologies should be merging.”

Next up for Curiscope: the launch of the Great White Shark AR app, due to coincide with the autumn release of iOS 11. Barton and Kidd’s book, All About Virtual Reality, is published by Dorling Kindersley and available now. And in November, the pair will launch Operation Apex, a VR experience with HTC Vive Studios in which people are placed in a virtual environment with sharks. “We began talking with Vive Studios in 2016 and realised there was a big opportunity to be at the centre of this technology,” Barton says.

Source: Wired

Autoplay audio can be annoying or convenient depending on the situation. Luckily Instagram has found a happy medium between defaulting autoplay video sound on or off.

This weekend TechCrunch spotted that some Instagram videos in the feed were autoplaying with audio. Now Instagram has confirmed to us “this new update rolled out recently” and here’s how it works for all organic videos and ads.

When you open Instagram, videos will still autoplay with the sound off. But if you tap to turn one video’s sound on, indicated with a speaker icon in the bottom left, all other videos will autoplay with sound too for the rest of your Instagram session. You can still tap to toggle a video and all subsequent ones back to silent. And when you close the app, the autoplay audio resets to off for next time you use Instagram.

So basically, Instagram still defaults to audio off when opened, but applies your last toggle on or off for the rest of your session.

This is a smart compromise. If you’re home alone or have headphones on, and you turn on a video’s sound, it’s safe for Instagram to assume it can play more videos with audio without disturbing anyone. But next time you open the app, if you’re in public or somewhere quiet without headphones, it won’t embarrass you.

Instagram admits that previously having to turn on video audio for each video individually could be frustrating.

Instagram Stories videos will still adhere to your device’s settings, only playing with sound if it’s unmuted. But that makes sense since you can assume you’ll see video in these Snapchat clone-style slideshows.

Facebook experienced backlash earlier this year when it announced it would be moving from silent autoplay video to going by you’re device’s current mute status. That roll out has moved slowly, though, signaling that Facebook understands that sound could surprise some users.

Instagram’s move could be a boon to businesses and advertisers, who will see more of their videos play with sound now. That makes Instagram more akin to television or Snapchat where sound always plays, and could boost spend on its video ads.

Video is clearly becoming a larger and larger focus for Instagram. Launched in 2013 as an add-on to the photo sharing network, video has grown in popularity as cameras, screens, and mobile networks improve. While Instagram doesn’t want to annoy it’s users, it can’t be a social network of the future if it stays silent.

Source Techcrunch

Brickshots

Ever wondered what your favourite portraits would look like as Warhol-esque works of LEGO art? Brickshots imports your pics and a brick-by-brick instructions. You’ll have to provide your own LEGO, but you can tweak the colour scheme and number of pieces. [iOS and Android, free]

Auxy

This pocket mixing-studio makes it easier than ever for wannabe producers to create their own beats. Its clever interface breaks tracks into small chunks which can be layered up and have effects applied. Auxy’s simple, visual way to make music also won it the Apple Design Award at WWDC 2016. [iOS, free]

Prisma

Prisma harnesses deep neural networks to reinterpret your smartphone photos as works of art. Current graphical starting points include Roy Lichtenstein, Edvard Munch and Katsushika Hokusai, with new artists added regularly. Results can be hit-and-miss, but are always surprising. [iOS and Android, free ]

Kindeo

The photo album gets rebooted with Kindeo, which lets families  pass down memories from generation to generation. Record video through the app and store it so that future relatives will never be able to escape those embarrassing baby photos. [iOS, free.]

Hyperspektiv

Hyperspektiv is a video- and photo-editing app for those who need something more extreme than Ludwig or Clarendon. The app lets you change images and video beyond recognition. Swipe your fingers across the screen to create glitches and kaleidoscopes and distort colour to extreme levels. Perfect for DIY artists. [iOS, £1.49]

Le Déserteur

This iPad-only art installation consists of two “rooms”, each containing 12 works from artists, photographers, writers and singers. It bears repeated viewing, with exclusive artwork regularly updated for each user. [iOS, $9.99]

Cardboard Camera

Cardboard Camera converts panoramic photos into a format which can be viewed through Google Cardboard VR viewers. Send photos and audio to family and friends or keep an album to relive awe-inspiring moments. [Android, free]

Paper for iPhone

The popular iPad drawing app comes to the small(er) screen, with a range of new features including text, photos and to-do lists to extend its appeal beyond artists and designers. [iOS, free]

Enlight

Enlight is one of the smartest photo-editing tools around. As well as a raft of regular features, you can add text in multiple fonts and turn photos into graphics or LOLtastic memes. [iOS, £2.99]

Handpick

Handpick harvests recipes from food blogs and Instagram and allows the user to browse based on ingredients. It’s packed with beautiful photography and inspiring ideas. [iOS, Android, free]

Mapillary

If you have a passion for citizen science or cartography, Mapillary – a crowdsourced version of Google Street View – might appeal. Supply photos through your smartphone as you go about your business. [iOS, Android and Windows Phone, free]

Nutshell

Effectively capturing a moment in a single frame is a serious photographic challenge. But why use one frame to tell a story when you can use three? Nutshell animates a moment by combining three shots into a short, shareable video. [iOS, free]

Simmer

Are you Jamie Oliver? Or Mary Berry? We thought not. But you can pretend to be with Simmer, which lets you create and share recipes and short how-to cooking videos from the comfort of your own kitchen. The Great WIRED Bake-Off, anyone? [iOS, free]

Facetune

We’re slightly annoyed that we like this app – yes, we at WIRED can be just as vain as everyone else. With Facetune, the airbrushing, teeth-whitening and skin-smoothing of our pasty faces is just a swipe away. [Android, iOS, £2.99]

Productivity and tools

SpaceHub

SpaceHub uses real-time video feeds and GPS to keep amateur space-watchers up-to-date with astronauts and asteroids. It also aggregates tweets from industry insiders into a single feed. [Android, free]

Scrivener

The beloved writing software, which splits manuscripts into multiple blocks, is finally available for iPhone and iPad. All the desktop features cherished by writers – scriptwriting, different trash cans for different documents, etc – are there. It’s not cheap, but serious wordsmiths will love it. [iOS, £14.99]

ZCast
Amateur podcasters rejoice: ZCast makes it possible to broadcast straight from your smartphone. The app harnesses existing messaging software at parent company Zula and links to Twitter to help would-be Sarah Koenigs reach new audiences. Handily, co-hosts can join the show live while on location. iOS, free

Rolo
This calendar app uses animations and a circular design to let you see your day, week and year in a single swipe. It’s probably easier to set a date using your normal calendar, but Rolo is still a worthwhile accessory, especially if you’re interested in seeing how life divides into work and play. [iOS, free]

Flowstate

This note-taking tool ensures total concentration from writers by deleting every word they’ve written if their fingers leave the keyboard for more than seven seconds. With this looming threat, Flowstate helps people get in the “flow”, and resist the distractions popping up elsewhere. [iOS, £7.99]

Mimicker Alarm
Snoozing is impossible with this sadistic alarm clock, which makes you play games to prove you are awake. The default puzzle is to take a selfie while pulling a face. Built by Microsoft’s Garage Team – using APIs from UK-based Project Oxford – the app’s facial recognition software detects your expression. [Android, free]

Slash

Slash replaces the QWERTY keyboard on your smartphone and turns it into a search engine, removing the need to jump between apps when searching for videos, maps, photos and music-streaming services. It works with apps such asTwitter, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. [iOS, free]

uMake
Design your next 3D-printed car using this sketching app. Draft an outline on uMake, then manipulate the design to create a 3D model. Ideal for designers who want to prototype and amateurs who want to play around. [iOS, free]

Addapt

This smart contacts manager keeps itself up to date by tracking changes to your friends, family and co-workers’ contact details – as long as they’re addappt users.[iOS, Android, free]

Meistertask

Collaborate Kanban-style with this task app from the creators of Mindmeister. Share checklists, attachments and progress updates across unlimited projects. [iOS, free]

Nine

This is a visual to-do list for people who want to use their cameras to create reminders. Attached to each snap is a tag such as “Buy”, “Watch” and “Go”, giving you a distinct list of actions to take. The app also geotags the pictures, allowing you to remember where you were when you captured the photo. [iOS, free]

WeTransfer
If you’re already familiar with WeTransfer, then you’ll know how useful this file-sending service is. This smartphone version is perfect for those who operate across multiple devices. [iOS, Android, free]

Khan Academy
Online education organisation Khan Academy already had an app, but this iPad version bundles all of its 150,000-plus lessons and videos together for the first time. The series is just as accessible in interactive app form as it is on the web. [iOS, free]

Social and messaging

MoodCast Diary

MoodCast Diary is an app that tracks your mood by allowing you to input diary entries throughout the day. Once it collects enough data on your day-to-day emotions, it can offer advice as to trends in your happiness or unhappiness. The ‘intelligent mood prediction’ might make it a bit easier to combat the bad-weather blues. Android, Free with in-app purchases.

Bumble

Bumble has been lauded as the female-friendly version of Tinder, mainly due to the reason that once two people swipe right on the app, a conversation can’t begin unless the woman says something first. It’s been out on iPhone for a while but has recently been released on Android. If you’re looking for love in the run up to Valentines Day, this might be the app for you. iOS, Android, Free with in-app purchases.

Spoonr

In an age where we like to show affection through emoji and likes, sometimes a little contact is needed. Spoonr helps its network find nearby strangers to cuddle, no strings attached. [iOS, Android, free]

Whim

This app removes the legwork from dating. Swipe to find potential partners, then Whim will pick a night and suggest locations based on both daters’ calendars and preferences. [iOS, free]

Lime

Tired of Tinder? Lime matches your stored health data and suggests similarly sedentary or active people for you to date. [iOS and Android, free]

Mood Chat

For when emojis just don’t cut it, artist Tom Galle has created an app to help you express yourself through cheesy background music. His audio keyboard lets you select from dozens of ditties to add emphasis to your chats. [iOS, free.]

Follower
Followers are the currency of social networks – but what if a stranger actually followed you around? This app grants you a real-life follower for the day, who watches you from afar. Successful applicants 
will be notified the morning they’re about to be stalked. [iOS, free]

Hey! VINA
“The Tinder of…” has become a well-worn phrase in tech circles, but Hey! VINA can lay claim to being the Tinder of female friendship. Peripatetic women swipe through potential friends’ profiles to find their perfect companion from people matched on similar personalities and hobbies. [iOS, free]

Peach

It’s hard to keep track of every new social-media app out there, but Peach is worth watching. The app, from Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann, features “magic words” that help you GIFs and images and share the music you’re listening to. Its news feed reads like a stream of teen consciousness. [iOS, free]

Traces

Messaging app Traces bridges the gap between the physical and virtual worlds by allowing you to leave digital surprises in real-world locations. Instead of sending a picture to a friend, you send it to a physical place, and the recipient then has to visit that location with their phone to collect it. [iOS, free]

Tindog

There are lots of matchmaking tools for humans; now it’s dogs’ turn. Tindog lets you find other dogs (and their owners) around you, giving you and your canine the opportunity to make friends. Once you’ve matched with another owner you can chat and share photos with one another. [iOS, Android, free]

Givvit

When words aren’t enough to tell friends or family how you feel, there is now an app. Givvit lets you send goodies such as snacks or cinema tickets via Givvit’s “Treat Partners” to anyone capable of redeeming an on-screen gift voucher. [Android, iOS, free]

Starlike

A simple way to aggregate all your friends’ social-network updates into one app. Starlike breaks little ground in terms of features, but does one useful thing very nicely indeed: stalking those you cherish the most a little more conveniently. [Android, iOS, free]

Games and distractions

Egg, Inc

Join the chicken gold rush in this incremental clicker game, which asks you to sell eggs, build henhouses and commission farm research. [iOS, Android, free]

Gladiabots
Create AI for your robots! Refine a strategy and crush your rivals! This is a smart insight into character programming. [Android, free]

Beaker
Turn your smartphone into a lab item. Select chemicals to start experiments and witness reactions, right down to the “bang”. [iOS and Android, free]

Eliza

Celebrity AI IBM Watson turns therapist with Eliza, an app that analyses voice memos for emotional sentiment to let you know how you’re really feeling. [iOS, Android, free]

Sea Hero Quest

Neuroscientists hope this game will help them to understand dementia, by creating a benchmark for the navigational ability of healthy people. The app collects player data, which is then fed to scientists at UCL and UEA. [iOS, Android, free

The app formerly known as Hr

This app takes in ambient noise and creates something more acoustically pleasing. Choose from seven options, including Happy, Relax and Talk, to turn annoying chatter into mood-lifting music. [iOS, free.]

The Westport Independent
Worried about the decline of print media? Try taking control of your own newspaper. As well as managing marketing budgets and deciding the headline, this game examines your ability to fight for a free press under pressure from a propaganda-pushing government. [iOS, Android, £3.99]

Architecture of Radio

This app reveals the data all around us. By visualising open data sets from cell towers, Wi-Fi routers and satellites, Architecture of Radio can plot wired and wireless data in a 360º map that is both captivating and informative. [Android, iOS, £2.29]

Churchill Solitaire

Churchill used his own, fiendishly difficult version of Solitaire to keep his mind sharp – and now former US secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld has helped develop the two-deck card game as an app. [iOS, free]

Prune

Describing itself as “a love letter to trees”, Prune’s beautifully minimalistic design is matched with elegantly simple gameplay in which you swipe your finger to help a virtual tree grow into the sunlight. [
iOS, £2.99]

The Everything Machine

Designed for kids but fun for adults too, this app lets you combine your device’s hardware elements to build creative machines, from a stop-motion camera to a kaleidoscope. [iOS, £2.49]

Don’t Starve

In this remake, the player takes on the role of Wilson, “an intrepid gentleman scientist” trapped in a strange wilderness. Learn how to exploit its resources and inhabitants to survive. [iOS, £3.99]

My Idol — 3D Avatar Creator
This app turns your selfies into animated characters. Dress up in digital outfits and share your dancing avatar. One problem (for UK users): it’s in Mandarin. [iOS, Android, free]

Materials Library
From the Institute of Making comes this searchable database of materials. Along with images and text, there’s now video and audio content to augment the catalogue’s contents. [iOS, free]

Funny or Die Weather
Comedy site Funny or Die and meteorology might not seem like an obvious collaboration. But to WIRED’s surprise, the merging of the two has resulted in an elegant, user-friendly weather app with bonus facts and funnies. [iOS, free]

Yoga 15

Yoga 15 is your personal yoga coach. The aim is to spend a manageable 15 minutes every day relaxing, energising and improving your mobility, strength and flexibility. There are more than 100 videos available, the first six of which are free. [iOS, free]

Entertainment

Alexi

Find books with tips from your favourite cultural figures. Swipe through suggestions, add books to your library and read straight from your phone. iOS, free

Kimoji

Have you always wanted an emoji of a sobbing Kim Kardashian to express your emotions? If so, the official Kimoji app gives you access to over 500 emoji’s, stickers and GIF’s all pertaining to Kim Kardashian West. A recent update includes a family pack to include other members of the Kardashian brood. Android, iOS, £1.99 with other packages available to purchase.

The Pickle Index
The ten-part story of a circus troupe attempting to break their ringmaster out of prison, The Pickle Index uses mini-games and a recipe network to tell a tale of life under a surreal, fermented-goods-based dictatorship. Clunky functionality and a difficult narrative are part of the (literary) point. [iOS, £3.99]

Soon

This list app with a twist means you’ll never be lacking things to do. Soon lets you curate the films, books and places you’ve been meaning to watch, read and visit. Its trending section is great for inspiration. [iOS, free]

Cosmic Watch

Explore the Earth, solar system and constellations in real time with the Cosmic Watch app. It includes an eclipse mapper and a tool for adjusting telescopes. [Android, £3.35, iOS, £2.99]

Genius

Dive into the meaning behind your favourite songs with Genius’s new app for Android, which allows you to access crowdsourced lyrics and annotations for more than 1.7 million tracks on the go. [Android, iOS, free]

VRSE

VRSE offers an ever-expanding range of virtual-reality content, which can be viewed with or without Google Cardboard. If you want to see what all the virtual-reality fuss is about, this is your chance to do so without shelling out. [iOS, Android, free]

Uncover

Jump the queue for tables at London’s most popular restaurants, including Yauatcha and the legendary Le Gavroche, with Uncover, which lets you grab last-minute reservations when they become available. [iOS, free]

Useful tools

Pl@ntNet

The Shazam of gardening lets you take a photo of a plant and it tells you what it is. Connect with other gardeners for tips. [iOS, Android, free

Look up

Nigerian-American artist Ekene Ijeoma wants New Yorkers to engage with their city instead of looking down at their phones. His app runs in the background and, once you reach a busy street intersection, alerts you to “look up” and allow something serendipitous to happen. [Android, free]

Exponent

This Y Combinator-funded developer tool is an app for making apps. Its open-source framework enables you to build native apps for iOS and Android while coding in JavaScript and React Native. Founder Charlie Cheever is one of the co-founders of knowledge-market Quora. [iOS and Android, free]

A walk through dementia

Alzheimer’s Research UK simulates the experience of life with dementia with this VR app, designed for Google Cardboard. [Android, free]

Rightspeed

This is designed to help you cram more episodes of your favourite podcast into the commute – by training the brain to listen faster. Start at 2x speed and use the app’s Automatic Speed Ramping feature. [iOS, £2.29]

EquiTable
EquiTable bridges the wage gap by splitting restaurant bills based on each person’s race and gender. The app uses labour statistics to adjust for income inequality, calculating how much each person 
should contribute. Feel unfairly burdened? Never fear, the app has a “protest” button. [iOS, free]

Cove

This musical journalling app keeps a digital record of how you feel each day. Begin by choosing from six base emotions – playful, calm, longing, clouded, gentle and struggling – before layering melodies using a simple interface. Each unique song can be kept as a personal record or shared with friends and family. [iOS, free]

Hangover

Hangover takes away the horror of waking up to find embarrassing photos from your night out plastered all over social media. It makes selected albums and short videos “disappear” into inaccessible folders when friends leave the “circle of trust” – a space defined according to the proximity of their smartphones. [iOS, free]

Twizoo

Looking for restaurant tips based on what people really think? Twizoo analyses millions of tweets to show you which eateries are trending nearby. It uses a traffic-light system to indicate which to check out – or avoid. [iOS, Android, free]

DreamLab

Donate your spare mobile processing power to the fight against cancer with this app, which downloads genetic sequencing profiles and processes them during the night when phones aren’t in use. [Android, free]

Perch

If you’ve wondered what goes on in your house when you’re not in it, Perch is the answer. Connect your phone with a strategically placed laptop, tablet or phone camera and watch live from anywhere. [Android, free]

Crystal

With Safari integration, this content blocker prevents website ads from loading, resulting in a claimed 4x increase in browsing speeds and 50 per cent reduction in data usage. [iOS, free]

The Stream App

No more nagging your friends for their Facebook photo uploads: this app creates an event-specific stream, with your group’s photos automatically uploaded as they are taken. [iOS, free]

Deliveroo

Takeaways have never been more appealing since the launch of Deliveroo, which lets you order food from hundreds of restaurants and then have it delivered to you. It has built relationships with many of the UK’s most popular restaurants in 14 cities. Delivery is £2.50 – often less than the cost of a tip. [iOS, free]

Great Little Place
This swipe-and-discover app is a great tool for discovering cool places to eat and drink that are off the beaten track. We particularly like the Shortlist and Little Black Book features. [iOS, free]

Grabble
Scroll through endless fashion designs from major high-street names, including Selfridges and Zara, and swipe right on your favourite items to see a personalised feed. Save the items you love and you’ll be notified when they drop in price. [iOS, Android, free]

NYT VR
As VR becomes more accessible, more newspapers will incorporate it. The New York Times’ VR app turns its international reporting into Google cardboard-compatible videos. Android and iOS, free

STACK
Stack tests your timing. As a block tessellates across the screen, you tap at the moment it, building a larger ombre structure. Its beautiful palette and soundtrack make it all the more enticing. Android and iOS, free

Focus Keeper
Based on the Pomodoro Technique, Focus Keeper breaks down working into intervals of 25 minutes, with a five-minute break between. The “goal” feature will encourage the competitive to stay focused. iOS, £1.49

I love fur 
This app lets you stroke the scales, fur or spikes of creatures until you (or they) are satisfied. Complete a challenge to unlock other characters, such as Bipolar Bear or Fire Intolerant Dragon. Strangely therapeutic. iOS, free

Sprayscape
This app lets you create abstract panoramic landscapes for others to experience in virtual reality. Use the phone’s gyroscope to overlay images. Android, free

DOO
Doo is a task list/reminder hybrid that lets you create lists, which can be linked to specific deadlines. Items can be delayed until the following day – or swiped away when the deed is done. iOS, £2.99

Animatic
Animatic lets you embrace your inner cartoonist by placing drawings after each other to create animations. It shows the outline of the previous frame to ensure greater accuracy. iOS and Android, free

Tinycards
Like flashcards? This game from language-learning app DuoLingo uses them to help you learn faster and test you on topics from sign language to Greek gods. iOS and Android, free

Inks
This new take on pinball comes from the team behind Lumino City. Move the ball around the screen to release bursts of ink and traces of its route, creating custom art to print or share. iOS, £1.49

Grayout
This dark, narrative puzzle begins with a chemical explosion. The game challenges the player to make sense of jumbled words, after the explosion leaves them unable to construct sentences. Simple, original and unnerving. iOS, £2.29

SportsHero
SportsHero is a social network that lets users compete while predicting the results of sports games against real odds, using a points system. Players can earn money by passing on their wisdom. Android and iOS, free

Houseparty
Launched in secret by Meerkat, Houseparty aims to make livestreaming a more personal affair. Launching it opens your smartphone’s front camera and pings up to seven friends to join you. iOS and Android, free

Gifrecipes
Find something for dinner and learn to cook – using gifs. This app pairs recipes with videos that display ingredients and cooking times. Swiping displays new recipes, making it a more satisfying version of Tinder. Android, free

Source Wired