Apple's iOS 9 vs iOS 8: Ten new features


At the Worldwide Developers Conference last night, Apple announced a slew of features that will be coming to iPhones and iPads later this year.

Curious about what new features you will get to see on your coveted Apple gadget, as well as the availability dates? Worry not. Check out our round-up of the best iOS 9 features you can look forward to on your iPhones and iPads.

One of the major overhauls in iOS 9 can be found with Siri. The digital voice assistant has received a colourful facelift, but it's what's going on behind the scenes that is more interesting.

The new interface displays content in a better way, and Siri can now understand a wider range of requests on top of what was on offer in iOS 8. We were shown a number of examples during the keynote, including "show me my photos from Utah last August", "remind me to grab my coffee off the roof when I get in my car" and "play the top songs from 1982" via Apple Music.

Siri has been, until now, a reactive service, but that's changed in iOS 9. It's now Apple's answer to Google Now, with context sensitive information based on time, date and location. It can, for example, intelligently recognize when you get to the gym and plug in your headphones you'll want your workout mix, and display it on your lock screen.


Battery performance

In iOS 8, there is no clear battery saving mode. You're left to your own devices to turn off data, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc to try and conserve power.

That changes in iOS 9 with the introduction of a "low power mode," which Apple claims will provide you with three additional hours of typical usage.

iOS 9 apparently improves general performance too, with Apple saying it gives you an extra one hour of full usage over devices running iOS 8.

Multitasking on iPads

There are a few iPad-only new features incorporated into iOS 9. First up is the QuickType Keyboard, which adds handy copy, cut, paste tools to the suggestion bar, along with access to the camera, attachments and formatting.

Use two fingers on the keyboard and it becomes a track pad, allowing you to easily select the text you want -- something which is a little tricky in iOS 8.

There's also 'Slide Over', 'Split View' and 'Picture in Picture', which provide a range of multi-tasking options. The first two see two apps share the screen, the former just for a brief moment while the latter sees tho apps sit side by side permanently.

If you're familiar with Samsung's top end smartphones you'll recognize picture-in-picture, which allows you to pop out a video into a floating window.




Apple brings gender equality in iOS 10 emoji pack


New York: Technology giant Apple on Tuesday launched a new iOS emoji pack that show women playing more sports and performing jobs that, prior to the launch, were male-oriented.

The icons will be available on devices running the new iOS 10, the company announced in a statement.

“This exciting update brings more gender options to existing characters, including new female athletes and professionals, adds beautiful redesigns of popular emoji, a new rainbow flag and more family options,” Apple said.

According to The Verge, the new set of emoji, which includes more than 100 variations when you take skin colour options into account, also includes a water gun icon in place of the old revolver, a rainbow flag and two different gender options depicting single-parent families.

Apple has also introduced two male options for previously female-only emoji, including a haircut and scalp massage emoji.

“Apple is working closely with the Unicode Consortium to ensure that popular emoji characters reflect the diversity of people everywhere,” the company added.

In June, Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled iOS 10 for iPhones and iPads on the opening day of the annual Worldwide Developers` Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. He also announced to move its digital assistant Siri to Mac and opening it to third-party developers.

Cook showcased iOS 10 featuring huge updates like stickers and full-screen effects to Apple Messages that delivers more expressive and animated ways to connect with friends and family.

“Messages is the most frequently used iOS app and with iOS 10, it will become more expressive. Automatic suggestions will make it easy to replace words with emoji,” Apple had said.

The company rolled out beta versions for developers and public beta versions for non-developers will follow in July.

IANS




New technology to boost hybrid car efficiency by over 30 percent


Los angeles: Inspired by natural phenomena such as insect swarming and bird flocking, scientists have developed a new technology that will improve the efficiency of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) by more than 30 percent.

PHEVs, which combine a gas or diesel engine with an electric motor and a large rechargeable battery, offer advantages over conventional hybrids because they can be charged using mains electricity, which reduces their need for fuel, said researchers at the University of California, Riverside in the US.

However, the race to improve the efficiency of current PHEVs is limited by shortfalls in their energy management systems (EMS), which control the power split between engine and battery when they switch from all-electric mode to hybrid mode.

While not all plug-in hybrids work the same way, most models start in all-electric mode, running on electricity until their battery packs are depleted, then switch to hybrid mode.

Known as binary mode control, this EMS strategy is easy to apply, but is not the most efficient way to combine the two power sources.

In lab tests, blended discharge strategies, in which power from the battery is used throughout the trip, have proven more efficient at minimising fuel consumption and emissions.

However, their development is complex and until now they have required an unrealistic amount of information up front.

“In reality, drivers may switch routes, traffic can be unpredictable, and road conditions may change, meaning that the EMS must source that information in real-time,” said Xuewei Qi, a postdoctoral researcher at UCR’s Centre for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT).

The highly efficient EMS developed and simulated by Qi and his team combines vehicle connectivity information, such as cellular networks and crowd-sourcing platforms, and evolutionary algorithms – a mathematical way to describe natural phenomena such as evolution, insect swarming, and bird flocking.

“By mathematically modelling the energy saving processes that occur in nature, scientists have created algorithms that can be used to solve optimisation problems in engineering,” Qi said.

“We combined this approach with connected vehicle technology to achieve energy savings of more than 30 percent.

We achieved this by considering the charging opportunities during the trip – something that is not possible with existing EMS,” said Qi.

Together with the application of evolutionary algorithms, vehicles will not only learn and optimise their own energy efficiency but will also share their knowledge with other vehicles in the same traffic network through connected vehicle technology.

“Even more importantly, the PHEV energy management system will no longer be a static device – it will actively evolve and improve for its entire life cycle. Our goal is to revolutionise the PHEV EMS to achieve even greater fuel savings and emission reductions,” Qi said.

The research was published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems.
PTI




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