iOS 16.4 to bring these NEW features to your iPhone: New Siri voices, Apple Books, more
After a long period of anticipation, it appears that iOS 16.4 could be released in the next few days. The iOS 1.4 beta 4 was released to public beta testers on Thursday, March 16 and some reports suggest that it will be the final beta before the global release of the update. Ever since the first beta, many new features for the iOS 16.4 have been revealed including changes to Apple Podcast, new emojis and web push notifications. However, the update contains more new features including some that have not been talked about much at all. Siri gets new language support, there is a fun new animation in Apple Books and more. Check the list.
iOS 16.4 update: New features you should know about
Apple Books: After it was removed in the previous iOS update, iOS 16.4 beta 2 update has now brought back the curling page-turn animation which gives the users the feeling that they are turning a real book. The beta 4 update has also added a new pop-up which appears when you open the app for the first time after downloading the update. It lets users know about the animation and lets them choose whether they want to keep it on or disable it.
Mastodon links preview: When using the Messages app, users will see a rich preview of Mastodon links. For the unaware, Mastodon is a social media platform which is similar to Twitter.
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Music app interface: Users will now see queued songs appearing in a small banner towards the bottom of the app instead of a full-screen pop up. This feature was added in the first beta version of iOS 16.4 and it will make the user experience much smoother.
Focus mode on always-on display: iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max users, the iOS 16.4 beta version allows enabling the always-on display with certain focus modes.
Accessibility options: In the Motion menu in Settings, users will now see a new option called Dim Flashing Lights. Turning it on will automatically dim any video where repeated flashing or strobing lights are displayed.
New Siri voices: It was earlier revealed that the keyboard is getting new language support for Korean, Ukrainian, Gujarati, Punjabi and Urdu but it turns out that even Siri will be getting new voices as Apple adds more languages. Siri gets Arabic and Hebrew voices.
There is still no official word on when the iOS 16.4 update will go live for global users but it is believed that it should be available in the next few days.
Developer release candidates for tvOS 16.4 & watchOS 9.4 are out
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Apple has released the release candidates for watchOS 9.4 and tvOS 16.4 as it winds down testing the new updates with developers.
Developers can download the release candidate builds from the Apple Developer Center webpage or update hardware that is already running a beta operating system. Beta software for the public will soon follow the developer version, which people can access via the Apple Beta Software Program or by updating their beta devices.
The new build number for the tvOS 16.4 beta is 20L497, up from 20L5490a, while the watchOS 9.4 version is 20T253, up from 20T5249a.
So far, new features include new emoji, a renewed attempt for the HomeKit architecture, and Mastodon rich link previews in iMessage.
AppleInsider and Apple strongly suggest users don’t install beta operating systems or other beta software on “mission-critical” or primary devices, as there is the small chance of issues that could result in the loss of data. Testers should instead use secondary or non-essential hardware and ensure they have sufficient backups of their critical data at all times.
Diablo 4: Blizzard Says ‘Beta’ Has Become A ‘Twisted Word’ And I’m Calling Shenanigans
The Early Access Beta weekend for Diablo IV ended yesterday and unfortunately, Blizzard chose not to extend it by a day despite numerous login and connectivity issues making it basically unplayable for most of Friday—or about a third of the entire beta experience.
Blizzard responded to these issues in an interview at Eurogamer with the game’s general manager, Rod Fergusson. Eurogamer asked: “Did you have a metric for success for this weekend, something in particular that you were looking at? And if you did have one, did you meet it?”
Fergusson’s response [bold sections I’ve highlighted]:
Yeah. Part of it is the number of players. “Beta” has been a twisted word that has become “marketing beta”, which means demo, and for us this was a true beta because we wanted to be able to test that load and what does it mean to get a lot of players in? And Friday was a little bumpy because of that, but the way that we looked at it is the issues we find now are issues that will be a lot smoother at launch. And so this weekend was to prepare for next weekend, and next weekend prepares for launch.
We ended up doing six really big hotfixes that fixed dozens of issues, so we saw server stability come back up and the queues went down, and so we’re feeling really good about that particular aspect.
So we had goals around how many people were going to be playing because we really wanted to test the servers, and so we’ve exceeded the number of players we thought we were going to get.
Now, I’m of two minds on this one. Obviously, a beta exists to test the game at scale similar to what you might encounter at launch, and certainly more than what you can achieve with play-testing. Whether a developer is looking for bugs or performance issues or testing out connectivity under stress with an online game, a beta can help illuminate problems. These can then be fixed and everybody is happier come launch day.
On the other hand, if the word beta has become “twisted’ it’s only because of the game industry—including Activision-Blizzard—using betas as “‘marketing betas” all the time. This includes last weekend’s Early Access Diablo IV beta which was for pre-order customers only (unless you did the KFC deal or found some other promotion). I’m pretty sure that making beta access a pre-order bonus is a type of marketing, creating an incentive for consumers to pick up the game ahead of release. The word beta may indeed mean “demo” now, but that’s by design. That’s the logical outcome of making betas pre-order bonuses or tied to particular perks or platforms.
Sure, it can serve as both a demo and an actual beta—why not?—but it’s silly to say that gamers should only consider it to be the former when they’ve only gotten into it in the first place by paying for the game. Once it becomes a perk you get by paying for something, it’s no longer just a testing beta, it’s an early access demo. That it may be a demo also is beside the point. People have now paid for something and lost a day of that something to connectivity issues and that’s not great.
Fortunately, it sounds like Blizzard has made some major improvements and we’ll see how these carry over to next weekend’s open beta and finally the June 6th launch.
Personally, other than these frustrations I quite liked what I played of Diablo IV and I’m excited to play more next weekend. It’s not perfect but it’s very good and hopefully the team at Blizzard fixes its most glaring issues and shortcomings in the next couple of months.
Google Opens Up Access to Bard AI Chatbot
Google today began allowing users to sign up to use Bard, its AI-powered chatbot that rivals Microsoft’s Bing chatbot. First announced back in February, Bard is an experimental conversational AI service for Google Search.
Those interested in Bard can join Google’s waitlist to get access, and some users have reported getting invitation emails just hours after signing up. There are a long list of sample functions that Google says Bard can perform:
- Explain why lightning might strike in the same place twice
- Help you write your first novel
- Draft a packing list for your weekend trip
- Outline a blogpost about your summer mocktail recipes
- Explain why large language models might make mistakes
- Generate an art studio tagline
- Suggest high-protein options to add to a vegan diet
Bard beta access is limited to the United States and UK at the current time, and there is an unknown wait time. Google does not allow Google Workspace accounts to request an invitation.
According to Google, Bard is using a “lightweight and optimized version of LaMDA,” so the chatbot will offer a different experience than the OpenAI-powered Bing chat interface.
Bard is not designed to replace Google Search, and Google instead says it is “complementary.” Google warns that Bard learns from a wide range of information that includes real-world biases and stereotypes, so the chatbot can provide inaccurate, misleading, or false information. It will improve over time based on feedback, and Google plans to add capabilities like coding and more languages in the future.
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iOS 16.4 for iPhone Nearing Launch With These 5 New Features
Apple says iOS 16.4 is coming in the spring, which began this week. In his Sunday newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said the update should be released “in the next three weeks or so,” meaning a public release is likely in late March or early April.
iOS 16.4 remains in beta testing and introduces a handful of new features and changes for the iPhone. Below, we have recapped five new features …
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The original iPhone was put up for sale by RR Auction on behalf of a former Apple employee who purchased it back when it first came out. Back in February, an original, sealed iPhone sold for over $63,000,…
iOS 16.4 Adds Voice Isolation for Cellular Phone Calls
The iOS 16.4 update that is set to be released to the public in the near future includes voice isolation for cellular calls, according to notes that Apple shared today.
Apple says that Voice Isolation will prioritize your voice and block out the ambient noise around you, making for clearer phone calls where you can better hear the person you’re chatting with and vice versa.
iPhone 12 Pro vs. 15 Pro: New Features to Expect if You’ve Waited to Upgrade
While year-over-year iPhone upgrades are not always groundbreaking, new features can begin to stack up over multiple generations. For example, the iPhone 15 Pro will be a notable upgrade for those who still have a three-year-old iPhone 12 Pro.
If you are still using an iPhone 12 Pro and are considering upgrading to the iPhone 15 Pro when it launches later this year, we have put together a…
Top Stories: iPhone 15 Pro Pricing, New iOS 16.4 Beta, Siri vs. ChatGPT, and More
Apple’s high-end iPhone models have started at $999 in the U.S. since they first launched back in 2017 with the iPhone X, but could this finally be the year that starting price sees an increase?
This week also saw some more rumors about Apple’s upcoming headset and the company’s explorations in the booming AI industry as well as the release of a new round of beta updates, so read on for all…
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