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Computing

Your Facebook account could soon get multiple profiles

Facebook is testing a way to give its users more profiles per account, ostensibly to give users more opportunities for sharing posts and keeping up with the platform’s content.

On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Meta (Facebook’s parent company) would begin experimenting with letting some Facebook users generate up to four other profiles in addition to their main account’s profile.

That’s right: The experimental functionality will let users have multiple profiles linked to a main account and those additional profiles aren’t required to have real names. Plus, each profile is expected to have its own separate feed. However, though each profile has its own feed, Bloomberg says that only one profile will “be able to comment or like another post.”

Interestingly, Bloomberg also reports that since all of a user’s profiles are still subject to Facebook’s rules and they’re all connected to a main Facebook account, then “rule violations on one profile will affect the others.” And TechCrunch reports that repeat violations committed with an additional profile can lead to the removal of the offending additional profile as well as all other connected profiles, which can include main accounts. So it seems that while this functionality may offer more ways to connect on Facebook, it could also come with more opportunities to lose access to those profiles.

But besides setting up a Finsta-like Facebook profile, what could these additional profiles be used for? According to TechCrunch’s reporting, it was suggested that these extra profiles could be curated to focus on specific interests or hobbies. As in, each individual profile would be created to focus on a specific topic like music or food.

Digital Trends also contacted Meta regarding this experimental feature and received a response. In the response, a Meta company spokesperson did confirm the existence of the feature and the testing of it:

“To help people tailor their experience based on interests and relationships, we’re testing a way for people to have more than one profile tied to a single Facebook account. Anyone who uses Facebook must continue to follow our rules.”

The multiple-profiles functionality is expected to allow users to switch between profiles pretty easily. It’s also worth noting that those who elect to use this feature are still not allowed to use their extra profiles to impersonate others. Even though you can pick out any name you want for these profiles, those names are still subject to Facebook’s rules, which means they can’t contain any special characters or numbers, and they have to be unique names.

Lastly, if you plan on doing things like running a Facebook Page or using Facebook Dating, just know that you can’t use your additional profiles for these. You’ll need your main account’s profile for those features.

Editors’ Choice




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Computing

AirPlay Will Work Between Multiple Macs in MacOS Monterey

AirPlay for Mac was one of the big features announced for MacOS Monterey, but now we have some additional clarification on how you can use AirPlay between multiple Macs.

As confirmed by MacRumors, we now know for sure that AirPlaying content to a Mac from another Mac is possible both wirelessly and via a USB cable. While the latter will tether you to a wire, it ensures a stutter-free connection with zero latency. It is also particularly useful for situations with no internet access.

The recently released key feature allows users to extend or duplicate their display on a Mac to another Mac. MacRumors has tested the feature and can verify the company’s claim. A Mac can wirelessly, or via a wired connection, connect to another Mac and use it as an external display. This means Apple has almost gone back to its Target Display Mode feature, through which Mac users could use iMacs as another Mac’s display. We saw this feature in Apple’s 2009 to 2014 iMac models, which allowed AirPlaying from other Macs both wirelessly and with a USB cable, just like MacOS Monterey’s new feature.

However, it is important to note that there are also significant differences between the two. The new mirroring feature isn’t completely identical to the Target Display Mode feature in terms of compression and latency. Theories suggest that the new feature compresses videos, and you might still experience some delay despite the company’s claims of zero latency.

Apart from AirPlaying visual content from Apple devices to Macs, the new feature also allows the supported Mac to act as a speaker source. Users can now stream the audio of their choice from their Apple devices to a Mac. They can also use the Mac as an extra speaker for multi-room audio.

MacOS’ latest feature also boasts flexible compatibility. It works with a 2018 or later MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, a 2019 or later iMac or Mac Pro, and the 2020 Mac mini. It is currently available in beta exclusively for developers and will be available for the public in July. Somewhere between September and November, a software update will be released for all compatible Macs.

Editors’ Choice




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Tech News

watchOS 8 adds multiple timer support but Apple Watch still needs iPhone for offline Siri

Apple’s offline Siri support won’t be offered as a standalone ability on the Apple Watch, it appears, though watchOS 8 is shaping up to include much-requested features like multiple timers. Siri’s ability to work even when you don’t have a network connection was one of the highlights of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, the new software coming to iPhone and iPad, at WWDC 2021 today.

Currently, Siri requires a data connection in order for cloud-based processing to take place. That’s the case even for the most basic functionality, such as setting a reminder, but with the newest software Apple is making that more flexible.

You won’t be able to access online information, or streaming media, while without a data connection, of course, but it does mean that basic functionality will be more accessible. Even if you do have data, Apple points out, the ability to process voice data locally on your iPhone or iPad should make Siri more responsive and immediate. Not every device will get that ability, though.

iPhone and iPad models with the A12 Bionic chipset and later will offer offline Siri support, Apple has confirmed. That means iPhone XS and XR onwards, the iPad mini (5th gen), iPad Air 2019 and onward, and the iPad 2020 and onward, and the iPad Pro 3rd Gen (2018) and newer. You’ll need to download language packs first, unsurprisingly.

Absent from the list is any generation of Apple Watch, which suggests there’ll be no standalone support for offline Siri in the smartwatch. If it’s connected to a nearby iPhone you should still be able to use Siri even without a data connection – since that will be processed on the smartphone not the wearable.

It’s a shame, as watchOS 8 is gaining more usable features that lend themselves to Siri control. One of the most requested has been multiple timers support, with the ability to use Siri to give them different labels as well. Until now, you’ve been limited to a single timer, and setting a new one will automatically reset any existing timer; with watchOS 8 you’ll be able to set multiple timers with different names, like “laundry timer” and “cooking timer.”

That’s one of a number of new Apple Watch features unlocked with the update. A new Find Items app, for example, brings the Find My Network to your wrist, while more apps will support the always-on display on more recent versions of the wearable. Third-party apps will be able to tap that talent, too, with a new Always-On API.

Developers can try watchOS 8 today, and there’ll be a public beta next month. The full watchOS 8 release is coming this fall, for Apple Watch Series 3 or newer paired with iPhone 6s or later; your iPhone will need to be running iOS 15, too.

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Categories
Game

Multiple Fortnite Quests aren’t working, but Epic has fixes planned

In order to acquire large amounts of XP and level up in the game more quickly, Fortnite features a number of Quests that players can complete. These are usually fairly simple tasks that involve getting a certain number of eliminations with specific weapons, finding hidden objects, and similar.

Some of the Fortnite Quests aren’t working properly right now, which means you may complete the requirements but not get credited the XP for them. Epic Games is aware of this problem and has created a card related to it in the Fortnite Trello bug-tracking board.

According to the company, it already has multiple bug fixes ready to go in the next game update and it is working on a fix for the remaining issue. Players can expect the next update to fix multiple Quests, including ones related to hitting an opponent with a Harpoon Gun, getting a headshot with a blow, traveling a specific distance while swimming, and setting structures on fire.

Players can keep tabs on which Quests are fixed by checking on the card — the company says it will remove the Quests from the list once they are fixed in the game. If you’ve completed these bugged Quests, you’ll presumably get the XP for them once the next update arrives.

Fortnite is currently in the sixth season of its second chapter, one that has introduced some major changes to the game. In addition to sending the battle royale island back to a primitive state, the game now features weapons crafting, which enables players to upgrade their weapons with special abilities like explosives and stink bombs.

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Tech News

Seervision software with AI assist can operate multiple cameras from one PC

Seervision has unveiled new software that can operate cameras as if it was a human, making video production easier and less time-consuming. Seervision has roots at ETH Zürich, where students developed a prototype in the past for recording lectures. Researchers note that the coronavirus pandemic has made video a critical communication tool for businesses and education.

One challenge for those trying to communicate via video during the pandemic is in delivering high-quality videos that stand out from the crowd. Seervision’s software can automate cameras in any studio so one person can operate and control multiple cameras simultaneously. The software aims to allow companies to produce professional videos without having to worry about as much cost and complexity.

The Seervision solution combines artificial intelligence, image recognition, and predictive mathematical models. It can anticipate the person’s movement in the image and pan the cameras as if they were human-operated. The software is compatible with cameras from various manufacturers making the technology flexible and versatile.

With the software installed, one person can comfortably control the entire video recording and adjust the shot framing while integrating presentation slides and videos from the computer in any location. The software will function for any type of event ranging from sports events to business presentations.

Seervision learned in its early days that developing hardware for the consumer industry is a complicated tasks. They started with an action camera and an intelligent pivoting camera mount that never made it past the prototype stage. The software stemmed from those early hardware developments, and the company chose to focus on developing software rather than hardware products.

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Computing

How to Edit Multiple Photos at Once

If you work with multiple images, cropping them all individually to the exact same size can be a real pain. Perhaps you have a batch of 30 images and they all need the same watermark. In either case, editing them all simultaneously can save you loads of time.

In this guide, we show you how to edit multiple photos at once in Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS. All three platforms have native tools to make simple edits, but there’s no native way to manipulate more than one image at a time. That means we must turn to third-party solutions.

While there are plenty of paid applications that will gladly take your money in exchange for batch edits, we focus on capable free software.

Batch edit in Windows and MacOS

For Windows and MacOS, we use an open-source Photoshop replacement and a plug-in:

GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) The biggest threat to Adobe Photoshop is this free, open-source desktop program. It has mostly everything you need to manipulate images, like cropping, color adjustment, adding effects, layers, and more. We highly recommend this software if you want to avoid Photoshop’s monthly subscription.

Batch Image Manipulation Program (BIMP) This is a free plug-in for GIMP that adds batch editing. You need to install GIMP first, followed by this tool.

Once you install both tools, you can use them to edit multiple images simultaneously. The following instructions are based on Windows, but they apply to MacOS as well.

Step 1: Open GIMP and click File on the main menu.

Step 2: Select Batch Image Manipulation from the drop-down menu.

Step 3: A pop-up window appears. Under Manipulation Set, click the Add button.

Step 4: Select a manipulation on the resulting pop-up menu.

GIMP add batch modifiers

The next window you see depends on the manipulation you choose. Here they are at a glance:

  • Resize – Alter the height and width in percent or pixels. You can also use a Stretch, Preserve, or Padded aspect ratio, and change the interpolation. It also lets you change the image’s X and Y DPI settings.
  • Crop – You can use a standard aspect ratio, a manually set aspect ratio in pixels, and designate a starting point: Center, top-left, top-right, bottom-left, or bottom-right.
  • Flip or Rotate – Flip your images horizontally or vertically, or rotate them 90, 180, or 270 degrees.
  • Color Correction – Adjust the brightness and/or contrast, convert to grayscale, or use automatic color level correction. You can also change the color curve using a settings file stored on your PC.
  • Sharp or Blur – Move a slider left (add sharpness) or right (more blurred).
  • Add a Watermark – You can apply a text-based watermark you type into the window, or select an image stored on your PC. You can also set the watermark’s opacity level and location.
  • Change Format and Compression – Convert your image to one of 10 formats, including JPEG, GIF, and TGA. There’s also a quality slider ranging from 0 to 100.
  • Rename with a Pattern – Enter characters to keep the original filename without an extension, use incremental numbers, or use the captured date and time.
  • Other GIMP Procedure – Select from a list provided by GIMP, like Posterize, Bump Map, Blur, and loads more.

For each manipulation window, be sure to click the OK button so it’s saved in the current manipulation set.

Step 5: Click the Add button again if you want to add another manipulation to the set, as shown above.

GIMP Output Batch Image Edits

Step 6: Click the Add Images button located under Input Files and Options and select the images you want to edit in bulk.

Step 7: Select an output folder.

Step 8: Click Apply to begin the batch edit process.

Batch edit in MacOS

PhotoScape X for MacOS

You can now install both GIMP and the BIMP plug-in on MacOS. However, for this section, we chose an app-based alternative: PhotoScape X on the Mac App Store. There are two batch edit features locked behind a “pro” paywall; however, the basic necessities like cropping and resizing remain free. Trouble is, the overall interface is a bit clunky, especially if you heavily rely on GIMP.

Step 1: With PhotoScape X open, click Batch located on the menu.

Step 2: Click the blue “plus” icon next to Add Folder on the left to load the folder containing your images.

Step 3: Your image gallery loads in the bottom left window. Drag the images you want to edit up into the top center window.

Step 4: On the right, select the manipulator you want to apply to the images. Like the GIMP plug-in, you can apply multiple image manipulators before exporting the altered images.

Here are the available manipulators at a glance:

  • Crop – Click the up and down arrows to widen or expand each side based on the center of your images.
  • Resize – Change the width and/or height in pixels, change the aspect ratio, widen or shorten the edges, or enter a custom size.
  • Color – You have lots of options here, like applying automatic levels, contrast, or colors; brightening or darkening; adding HDR; adjusting the clarity; changing the overall temperature, and more.
  • Filter – You can play with filters to add effects like grain, vignette, sharpen, or bloom. You can use filters to adjust color and luminance noise.
  • Film – Add up to six effects pulled from the app’s huge library spanning Film, Duotone, Overlays, Old Photos, Dirt & Scratches, and Textures. Some of these are locked behind the “pro” paywall, however.
  • Light – Like Film, you can add up to six effects pulled from the app’s huge library spanning Light Leaks and Lens Flares.
  • Insert – Add up to six inserts: Stickers, Images, Figures, Filters, and Text.

Step 5: To export your modified images, click the Save button.

Batch edit in Chrome OS

Like Windows and MacOS, there is no native batch editing capability in Chrome OS. Instead, you’ll need to turn to the Linux-based version of GIMP and the BIMP plug-in.

In Ubuntu, the snap version should be available in the Software Center — other distributions should also have it listed in their software markets. Otherwise, users can download the flatpack build directly from Gimp.org. For the BIMP plug-in, meanwhile, you’ll need Gimptool to compile the plug-in before installing it.

If you’re already familiar with Linux, this might not seem too challenging. If you don’t have the tech know-how, this solution will be more trouble than it’s worth. Instead, there a variety of web-based or Android apps that can batch-edit photos, but this is usually a paid feature. Ideal apps include Polarr Photo Editor, Lightroom, Photoshop Express, and Pixlr.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
AI

Alexa’s latest upgrades help it listen to multiple people and ask clarifying questions

During Amazon’s event today, the company announced a range of improvements that are coming to Alexa. The company says the voice assistant will be better at responding to multiple people, and that in other cases, it will be smarter about asking and remembering the answers to clarifying questions. Alexa is also being updated to change its tone in response to a conversation.

These new capabilities were demonstrated across a series of demos. The first shows off how users are able to directly teach Alexa after it asks clarifying questions. In the presentation, Alexa was asked to “set the light to Rohit’s reading mode.” The voice assistant was able to understand that it didn’t know what this reading mode was meant to be and asked the clarifying question, “What do you mean by ‘Rohit’s reading mode’?” When the presenter, Rohit, told Alexa that his light should be set to a certain percentage while in reading mode, Alexa was able to store that information and remember it for next time.

Alexa will be able to understand when it needs to ask a clarifying question and remember the response.
Image: Amazon

Another upgrade focuses on making Alexa sound more natural by understanding the conversation’s context and adjusting its tone accordingly. Alexa might place more stress on certain words or take more pauses, Amazon says.

A final demonstration showed two people asking Alexa to join their conversation. After this, the voice assistant could understand when it was being directly addressed, versus when the two people were talking to each other. All of this happened without them having to use Alexa’s wake word in the middle of the conversation.

A demonstration showed two people interacting with Alexa simultaneously.
Image: Amazon

Amazon typically announces a number of upgrades for Alexa at its major hardware events, alongside smaller updates that appear throughout the year. Last year, the company announced a range of new features for its voice assistant, including a new more natural-sounding voice, a multilingual mode designed for bilingual households, and a “frustration detection” feature which lets Alexa apologize when it gets your requests wrong. Oh, and who could forget the special Samuel L. Jackson voice skill (which was then expanded this year)?

Over the course of 2020, Amazon also announced some more minor updates for Alexa. The voice assistant received a new longform speaking style designed for content like podcasts in April, and just this month Amazon announced Alexa for Residential, a new program to make it easier to integrate Alexa devices into rental properties.

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Tech News

Firefox 86 brings Total Cookie Protection and multiple PiP support

They may sound delicious but when it comes to the Web, cookies are almost like poison. Sure, they technically serve an important purpose but, like the real-world treats, they can be abused to harm people. That’s why web browser makers are taking up arms against cookie abuse, each in their own way, and Mozilla’s latest attempt is to completely confine those cookies in their own jars starting with Firefox 86.

Cookies were supposed to be used simply to let sites remember your previous sessions for convenience. Over time, however, they have been misused and abused to become what is known as tracking cookies that keep an eye on where users go, often for the sake of creating targeted ads. While some browser makers like Google just try to mitigate or curb the reach of these cookies, Mozilla seems to be waging an all-out war on them.

Last month, Firefox 85 targeted Supercookies that followed users around even when they left the pages where the cookies were generated. For Firefox 86, Mozilla is implementing what it calls Total Cookie Protection which gives each website its own cookie jar instead of dipping into a single cookie pool that everyone has access to. In practice, this should minimize how far those cookies can go and stop them from tracking you once you move to other sites.

Firefox 86 also expands the Picture-in-Picture feature into multi-PiP. This allows users to yank out multiple videos from different tabs and have them playing simultaneously. Whether that’s actually a good or a bad thing for your sanity and productivity is a personal matter.

Firefox 86 has started to roll out but the Total Cookie Protection is available only on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is part of Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection, which is enabled by default. Mozilla doesn’t elaborate whether these changes to how cookies work could have adverse effects on some websites that, unfortunately, require tracking cookies for one reason or another.

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Tech News

Windows Your Phone can now run multiple Android apps from these phones

Until the day comes when we have a single computing device to rule them all, we will most likely bounce between our phone and at least one computer to get things done, be it for work or even for play. As if multitasking between programs on a desktop or laptop weren’t enough of a distraction, having to juggle our attention between these two devices as well. Microsoft’s solution is to actually have those phone apps directly accessible on Windows but only if you’re using certain Samsung Galaxy phones.

The partnership between Microsoft and Samsung is, so far, a cozy and exclusive one. More than just having some Microsoft apps preloaded on flagship Galaxy phones, Samsung’s premium handsets also enjoy special Your Phone integration features that no other Android phone can experience, at least not yet. That special treatment now expands a bit more while also limiting its scope to even fewer phones.

Microsoft’s Your Phone app for Windows 10 already supports streaming either the phone’s entire screen on the desktop or, in the case of select Galaxy phones, streaming a single app. With the launch of the Galaxy Note 20 last year, the two companies revealed that it would soon be possible to actually have multiple Android apps running simultaneously as if they were normal Windows apps themselves. That feature is finally rolling out to the public, but there are a few requirements you’ll need to keep in mind.

On Windows’ side, your PC must be running at least the May 2020 update, preferably later, and 8GB of RAM minimum. The more important requirement, however, is that this feature is available only for phones running Android 11, which reduces that list to the Galaxy Note 10 series, the Galaxy S20 series including the Galaxy S20 FE, the Galaxy Fold, the Galaxy Z Flip, the Galaxy Z Fold 2, and, of course, the Galaxy Note 20 series.

That pretty much limits the reach of this otherwise useful feature, though hopefully, that won’t be the case for long. There are, of course, other third-party solutions but this Your Phone feature’s advantage is that it has deeper integration on both sides of the line.

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