The Apple Pips

Google’s new Account Hub is something every tech giant should copy

Google has rolled out an update to the Google Account Hub on Android, centralizing information about your data, privacy, security, and recurring payments in one place. Given how many other companies hide that data behind different portals, apps, and call-to-cancel phone lines, this should be a model for how every company handles user data going forwards.

The new Google Account controls puts the bulk of your relevant data in one place, with a couple different tabs to handle different categories. You can see basic profile information, data and privacy, security, and payments settings all in different tabs. Security and privacy in particular are the kinds of things that people give up on if they can’t find the right settings easily, so promoting them front-and-center is key to getting more people to actually customize what information they choose to share.

Best of all, there’s also a new search setting that reminds me of the Settings search on Windows 10 or iOS. You can type in the name of a settings section, or just search for a specific action like “change a password” or “delete account” to jump straight to the relevant options. There’s direct access to community help sections, although links to talk to an actual human still seem to be missing.

Keeping people’s confidence in Google’s protection of personal data is obviously key to Google in the current climate. Facebook has been under fire for its handling of confidential information, but the amount of info that Google mines on its heaviest users is truly creepy. Google can’t stop collecting data — that’s its entire business model — but the next-best thing is making people feel like they have control over their data.

“To help you better understand and take control of your Google Account, we’ve made all your privacy options easy to review with our new intuitive, user-tested design,” Jan Hannemann, product manager for Google Account, wrote in today’s blog post on the changes. “You can now more easily find your activity controls in the Data & Personalization tab and choose what types of activity data are saved in your account to make Google work better for you.”

The new Google Account Hub is live on Android right now, and it should roll out to iOS and Android this year.

MTV to reboot ‘Daria’ as part of broader plan to develop shows for streaming sites like Netflix

With each passing year, consumers are spending less and less time watching TV via traditional cable subscriptions. Hardly a revelation, cord-cutting has been on the rise for quite some time and has become increasingly tenable thanks to streaming services like HBO, Amazon, and of course, Netflix.

In an effort to hitch their wagon to the new streaming-centric environment we now live in, MTV earlier today announced a new venture that will see the iconic cable station release new shows specifically geared for streaming services. The shows will launch under the umbrella of a new production company dubbed MTV Studios.

Seeking to make an immediate impact, some of the first new shows we can expect to see will include reboots of The Real World, Aeon Flux, and Daria. Beyond that, MTV fans can also expect to see new programming, with MTV president Chris McCarthy telling Business Insider that the company’s goal is to become platform-agnostic.

Of course, MTV has been around for decades and has hours upon hours of content that might be alluring for nostalgia-minded viewers. That said, MTV, not surprisingly, has plans to leverage its extensive library of existing content as it seeks to jump head first into the streaming world.

That presents an opportunity for MTV, according to McCarthy. “MTV was one of the first cable brands,” he said, and the overwhelming majority of its shows were produced by MTV itself, to the tune of over 200 original series and franchises. “We own that IP,” he said, and it doesn’t have to be confined to traditional TV.

All that said, MTV’s strategy of kicking things off with a few reboots is a smart and strategic move. Netflix, of course, has enjoyed great success with its reboots of popular TV shows — with Arrested Development and Fuller House being two prime example.

Amazon has a 4K action camera for $53 that comes with an extra battery and a dozen accessories

GoPro makes fantastic action cameras, but they’re also very expensive considering they’re devices that are only likely to be used a few times each year. Instead of dumping hundreds of dollars on an action camera, check out the Campark ACT74 Action Camera. It records high-quality video at resolutions up to 4K and it’s gotten more than 1,600 5-star reviews on Amazon. This great camera also ships with an extra battery and more than a dozen accessories, including a waterproof case — all for just $53!

Here’s more info from the product page:

  • ◀Super 4K Recording +Sony sensor▶Campark 4k Sports Action Camera records video footage in 4K/30fps and takes photo at 16M. Campark Action cameras help you capture and share your world in a fantastic resolution.
  • ◀2 Inch HD Screen + 170°Ultra wide angle lens▶This Action Cam with 2 Inch HD Screen and 170 degree lens, you won’t miss out on any background details and the support of 32GB on an Micro SD card will let you store all your photos and videos right on the camera.
  • ◀WIFI Remote Control▶Action cameras compatible with iOS and Android system.The sports camera allows you control camera via the phone in real time, What is more, instantly send pics and videos via email or share them on social media easily.
  • ◀Waterproof up to 30m(98Feet) depth▶The waterproof case design for underwater world.Waterproof up to 30 meters.Ideal for water sports like swimming, drifting, surfing etc.
  • ◀Dual Recharger Batteries + Mounting Accessories Kits▶Increased Long Battery Life up to 180 minutes (Dual Rechargeable Lithium Batteries) shooting time.Come along with tons of free accessories. multifunctional accessories enable you to mount your camera to helmet, bicycles, wrist, etc…( Carrying Case NOT Included )

Here’s how NASA is going to use the International Space Station to see how stressed out Earth’s plants are

Determining the health of any given plant can often be accomplished simply by examining it, but gauging the overall wellbeing of plants over a large area is a much more challenging task. To help scientists get a better idea of how healthy plants are on a massive scale, NASA is installing a fancy new tool on the International Space Station. The instrument is called ECOSTRESS (which stands for ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station, in case you were wondering), and it might even help predict droughts.

The tool is expected to launch to the International Space Station on June 29th, aboard a SpaceX cargo resupply ship, at which point it will be unpackaged and installed on the station’s exterior. Once installed, it will gaze towards Earth and take detailed readings of the temperature of plant life. Those temperature readings, NASA says, are an important indicator for how well plants are doing.

“ECOSTRESS will allow us to monitor rapid changes in crop stress at the field level, enabling earlier and more accurate estimates of how yields will be impacted,” Martha Anderson, a member of the ECOSTRESS science team, explains in a NASA article. “Even short-term moisture stress, if it occurs during a critical stage of crop growth, can significantly impact productivity.”

The data will give experts a better idea of how much water crops are using over various periods of time. When plants begin to show signs of water stress they will appear warmer, and that information could be relayed to farmers and others in the agriculture community as an early warning of trouble.

“As water resources become more critical for our growing population, we need to track precisely how much water our crops need,” Josh Fisher of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and ECOSTRESS science lead, explains. “We need to know when plants are becoming susceptible to droughts, and we need to know which parts of the ecosystem are more vulnerable because of water stress.”

NASA says the ECOSTRESS instrument can pull double-duty by observing heat trends over large areas and even tracking the development of wildfires or volcanic activity.

Apple seriously considered killing the Lightning connector on the iPhone X

Aside from Samsung, all notable Android makers out there crafted iPhone X clones this year that look more or less like the real thing. While some of them deny copying Apple, including well-known companies like LG and OnePlus, it was Huawei that perfectly illustrated the reason why Apple is still the company others still try to emulate. Huawei said that it had its notch-designs for years, but it was too afraid to go forward. What Huawei, and others, needed was Apple to do it first. To take the risk.

A year before the notch arrived, Apple did one other ‘courageous’ — we can call it bold, at least — thing: it killed the headphone jack on the iPhone 7, paving the way for the all-screen iPhone X. And it turns out that the iPhone X could have been the most courageous phone ever created.

Buried in a report about Apple’s inability to ship the AirPower accessory that can simultaneously charge an iPhone, an Apple Watch, and an AirPods case, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reveals an exciting anecdote about the iPhone X’s development. Apple wanted to kill the wired charging system and make the switch to wireless charging:

Apple designers eventually hope to remove most of the external ports and buttons on the iPhone, including the charger, according to people familiar with the company’s work. During the development of the iPhone X, Apple weighed removing the wired charging system entirely. That wasn’t feasible at the time because wireless charging was still slower than traditional methods. Including a wireless charger with new iPhones would also significantly raise the price of the phones.

We’ve often talked about Apple’s iPhone of the future, thanks to information gleaned from patents and rumors and told you that Apple is indeed looking to remove all physical buttons and ports and create a device that’s all-screen. The handset would connect wirelessly to accessories, and the battery would recharge wirelessly. Even the SIM card would be gone in such a scenario, and the iPhone would use a virtual SIM card instead.

We’re probably a few years away from such iPhone designs, however. For the time being, I’m glad Apple wasn’t that courageous with the iPhone X. After all, the AirPower accessory sounds quite complicated to make, and we want it to just work when it’s ready to ship. And let’s not forget that we still need iPhone backups, the wired kind, in our lives. So that Lightning port better stay there until Apple comes up with a wireless transfer protocol that can deliver similar results.

In the meantime, it’d be great if the iPhone’s wired charging can get even faster.