Apple launches its online store in India

For the first time in more than 20 years since Apple began its operations in India, the iPhone-maker has started selling its products directly to consumers in the world’s second largest smartphone market.

Apple launched its online store in India on Wednesday, which in addition to offering nearly the entire line-up of its products, also brings a range of services for the first time to consumers in the country. India is the 38th market for Apple where it has launched its online store.

Consumers in India can now purchase AppleCare+, which extends warranty on products, and access the trade-in program to get a discount on new hardware purchases. The company said it will also offer customers support through chat or telephone, and let users consult its team of specialists before they make a purchase. The company is also letting customers order customized versions of iMac, MacBook Air, Mac Mini and other Mac computers — something it started offline through its authorized partners only in late May in India.

The company is also offering customers the ability to pay for their purchases in monthly instalments. TechCrunch reported in January that the company was planning to open its online store in India in the quarter that ends in September. The company plans to open its first physical retail store in the country next year, it has said.

Jayanth Kolla, chief analyst at consultancy firm Convergence Catalyst, argued that the launch of the Apple’s online store in India is a bigger deal for the company than consumers in the country.

Apple typically starts investing in marketing, brand building and other investments in a market only after it launches a store there, he told TechCrunch.

Apple does oversee billboards and ads of iPhones and other products that are displayed in India, but it’s the third-party partners that are running and bankrolling them, said Kolla. “Apple might provide some marketing dollars, but those efforts are always led by their partners,” he said.

In recent years, Apple has visibly grown more interested in India, one of the world’s fastest growing smartphones markets. The company’s contract manufacturers today locally assemble the latest generation of iPhone models and some accessories — an effort the company kickstarted two years ago.

The move has allowed Apple to lower prices of some iPhone models in India, where for years the company has passed custom duty charges to customers. The starting price of iPhone 11 Pro Max is $1,487 in India, compared to $1,099 in the U.S. (It started to assemble some iPhone 11 models in India only recently.) The AirPods Pro, which sells at $249 in the U.S., was made available in India at $341 at the time of launch.

Unlike most foreign firms that offer their products and services for free in India or at some of the world’s cheapest prices, Apple has focused entirely on a small fraction of the population that can afford to pay big bucks, Kolla said. And that strategy has worked fine for the company, Kolla argued.

That’s not to say that Apple has not made some changes to its price strategy for India. The monthly cost of Apple Music is $1.35 in India, compared to $9.99 in the U.S. Its Apple One bundle, which includes Apple Music, TV+, Arcade, and iCloud, costs $2.65 a month in India.

Some Apple customers say that even as they prefer the iPhone-maker’s ecosystem of products over Android makers’ offerings, they wish Apple made more of its services available in the country. A range of Apple services including Apple News and Apple Pay are still not available in India.

More to follow…

How to make the most of iOS 14 widgets and iPhone home screen customization

You’ve probably seen the screenshots going around that show iOS home screens that differ considerably from the stock options that Apple provides. Yes, if you’re an Android user you’re probably laughing at iPhone owners for finally (nearly) catching up to the customization features they’ve had for years, but if you’re an iOS fan, you probably just want to know how to join in. It’s actually relatively easy — provided you’ve got some time to spare, and you don’t mind a few slightly hacky workarounds (don’t worry, no jailbreaking required).

Widgets

The big new addition that’s prompting all the shared screens across social media are home screen widgets, which are supported under iOS 14 for the first time. These can be either first or third-party, and are included with apps you download from the App Store. There are a number of developers who pushed to ensure they were ready at or near the launch of iOS, and Sarah has created a growing list of some of the best for you to check out if you’re not sure where to start.

One of my personal favorite widget apps is Widgetsmith, an app that, as its name suggests, was created pretty much entirely for the purpose of making them. It allows you a range of customization options, has a number of handy, useful functions, including calendar, weather and clock, and comes with different font choices to best suit your style. I’ve always aimed to create a clean, single-tone look with iOS as much as possible, and Widgetsmith is the best I’ve found so far for creating home screen displays that look like they’re borderless (provided your iOS wallpaper is a solid color that matches one of those the app supports).

Widgets are great at providing right on your home screen (where you need it) at-a-glance information that you don’t typically want to dive into an app to retrieve. Some can shortcut to useful features, like the search widget built into Google’s iOS app, but most are made primarily to reduce the amount of time you spend actually inside the apps themselves.

Custom app icons

While Widgets are new, another big component of this customization push is not — the ability to create custom home screen icons for iOS apps. That’s been around ever since Apple introduced its Shortcuts app on iOS a couple of years ago, but many people are discovering the feature for the first time as a result of the increased attention around home screen customization with the introduction of Widgets in iOS 14.

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Creating custom icons on iOS isn’t actually doing that, strictly speaking — what you’re in fact doing is creating new Shortcuts that trigger the launch of an app, and using a custom image for that bookmark that then lives on your home screen instead. This is not an ideal solution, because it means that A) you won’t have any notification badges on your “apps,” and B) the system first directs you to Apple’s Shortcuts app, which opens for a split-second before bumping you into the actual app you selected for the shortcut.

Apple clearly didn’t design this Shortcuts feature for this use (opening a target app is meant to be the start of a string of automated actions), but Apple also hasn’t really ever seemed interested in letting users choose their own custom icons, so it’s the best we can do for now. Luckily, the process is relatively simple. Unluckily, there are a lot of steps involved, so it’s pretty time-consuming to customize your entire home screen.

Here’s a video of how to do this as simply as possible:

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

There are some fantastic examples out there of what creative individuals have been able to do with this, given a little time and some elbow grease. With more widget options coming online all the time, we’ve probably only begun to see the limits of testing the boundaries of what’s possible under Apple’s rules, too.

Launcher brings its powerful widget-making app to iOS 14

Launcher is bringing its customizable widgets to iOS 14 with new functionality, including the ability to rotate a widget’s icons by date, time or even location. It also supports customizable widget backgrounds, icons of different sizes or those with no labels for a cleaner look.

The app, which first debuted in 2014, had been well-known for being one of the few to push the envelope when it came to the functionality offered by Apple’s classic Today View widgets. In the years since, the app served as the launchpad for common tasks — like messaging a favorite contact, calling home, getting directions, playing your favorite music and much more right from the Today View.

Now you can do the same from your home screen, but with a more customizable experience that matches your current iOS 14 theme.

Image Credits: Cromulent Labs

Apple wasn’t quite sure what to think of Launcher back in 2014.

The app had once been banned from the App Store for several months because its sole reason for existence was to be a Today View widget provider, without offering other functionality beyond widget configuration. Apple eventually decided that Launcher had value, despite this limitation, and allowed it back in.

What’s more, Apple later realized there was a market for workflow automation and eventually acquired a Launcher competitor of sorts, Workflow, which was turned into Apple’s Shortcuts app and expanded to include additional functionality — like Siri integration, for instance.

Now, with the release of iOS 14, Apple has fully embraced the idea of customizable widgets for the home screen. Meanwhile, users are leveraging Shortcuts to create custom icons, then building creative home screen themes using a custom combination of widgets, icons and wallpapers.

Launcher, however, offers a simpler alternative for those who don’t want to spend hours creating a customized experience.

Instead, you can create a widget with favorite apps and tasks, change the widget’s background color and adjust the icons’ size in one go.

For example, you can now create Launcher widgets that let you tap an icon to immediately call, message, FaceTime or email a favorite contact; get directions to a location; start playing an artist, album or playlist in Apple Music; access a favorite website; launch actions within apps (like Compose Tweet or Run Shortcut); turn common phone settings on or off (like WiFi, Bluetooth, Low Power Mode, DND, Airplane mode, etc.); or launch any other app on your device.

 

Image Credits: Cromulent Labs

Launcher aims to tap into the growing iOS 14 home screen customization trend as its app lets you customize the icons and widget background, even allowing for tiny icons within the widget or removing icon labels. (See above). The widget’s background can be styled to match the existing wallpaper or can be configured using images.

Widgets can also be stacked for better space utilization and the icons they contain can change based on the day of the week, time of day or your location. That way, you could have a widget that shows up only when you hit the gym, for example, or one that appears when you’re in the office. Your home screen widget could also be different during the work week than on the weekend.

Image Credits: Cromulent Labs

Many of the app’s features were previously offered in the classic Today View widgets, but the home screen widgets work differently. Where before, you were limited to a fixed number of widgets that could be shown or hidden based on time or location, the new widgets support different icon sets that appear at different times. However, you can’t configure a home screen widget to automatically disappear as that would cause the home screen itself to rearrange.

Launcher’s creator, Greg Gardner, says he’s seen a surge of interest in his app due to the iOS 14 release, even before its update, out today, which delivers the iOS 14 widget support.

Image Credits: Cromulent Labs

“People on iOS 14 seem to be pretty excited about home screen widgets, so they are searching the App Store for widgets and are finding my app. Unfortunately some of them have been disappointed that the app didn’t have home screen widgets,” he says. “I hope that now that it has home screen widgets the downloads will continue to increase and the new users won’t be disappointed any longer,” Gardner adds.

The surprise release of iOS 14 probably didn’t help things on this front. Apple gave its developers less than 24 hours notice of iOS 14’s arrival this year, even making its announcement before the necessary developer tools (e.g., Xcode) were available for download. That means some developers’ iOS 14-compatible apps weren’t ready and available on the iOS launch day, as in years past.

In addition to the expanded functionality, there’s another reason to appreciate Launcher’s new app: Its business model.

The app doesn’t monetize by way of subscriptions but instead only charges its users a one-time fee for an expanded feature set. While the earlier version of the app had offered two different pricing tiers, Launcher 5 has simplified pricing to just the one.

Its new “Premium” in-app purchase will unlock all the new home screen widgets and customization options. However, existing users only have to pay $2.99 for the upgrade while new users will pay the full price of $7.99.

“The amount of work required to implement the new widgets was enough that I thought it justified a new in-app purchase,” says Gardner. Plus, he notes, the App Store also doesn’t offer any official means of charging upgrade pricing for scenarios like this.

Launcher 5 is rolling out now on the App Store. (If you don’t see the app with an updated date of Sept. 21, 2020, just try again later as the update may not have reached your region yet.)

Microsoft commits to putting more water than it consumes back into the ecosystems where it operates by 2030

One good trend in 2020 has been large technology companies almost falling over one another to make ever-bolder commitments regarding their ecological impact. A cynic might argue that just doing without most of the things they make could have a much greater impact, but Microsoft is the latest to make a commitment that not only focuses on minimizing its impact, but actually on reversing it. The Windows-maker has committed to achieving a net positive water footprint by 2030, by which it means it wants to be contributing more energy back into environment in the places it operates than it is drawing out, as measured across all “basins” that span its footprint.

Microsoft hopes to achieve this goal through two main types of initiatives: First, it’ll be reducing the “intensity” of its water use across its operations, as measured by the amount of water used per megawatt of energy consumed by the company. Second, it will also be looking to actually replenish water in the areas of the world where Microsoft operations are located in “water-stressed” regions, through efforts like investment in area wetland restoration, or the removal and replacement of certain surfaces, including asphalt, which are not water-permeable and therefore prevent water from natural sources like rainfall from being absorbed back into a region’s overall available basin.

The company says that how much water it will return will vary, and depend on how much Microsoft consumes in each region, as well as how much the local basin is under duress in terms of overall consumption. Microsoft isn’t going to rely solely on external sources for this info, however: It plans to put its artificial intelligence technology to work to provide better information around what areas are under stress in terms of water usage, and where optimization projects would have the greatest impact. It’s already working towards these goals with a number of industry groups, including The Freshwater Trust.

Microsoft has made a number of commitments towards improving its global ecological impact, including a commitment from earlier this year to become ‘carbon negative’ by 2030. Meanwhile, Apple said in July that its products, including the supply chains that produce them, will be net carbon neutral by 2030, while Google made a commitment just last week to use only energy from carbon-free sources by that same year.

The Lumos Matrix is the ideal urban bike helmet for a smarter, safer day trip

With many of us are still more or less confined to our own homes and limited social spaces for the foreseeable future, and for a lot of you, that has led to a rediscovery of the joys of biking. Bike riding is a great way to spend time outdoors exploring your own town or city, and if you’re just getting into exploring this hobby, or if you’re a long-time bike rider looking for an upgrade, the Lumos Matrix smart helmet is a sensible piece of tech with a solid design that combines a number of connected features into one great package.

The basics

The Matrix is a version of Lumos’ smart helmet updated with modern, urban helmet aesthetics and a new large LED display on the back that can be programmed to show a variety of different patterns, including simple images. It includes a built-in front light in addition to the rear light panel, as well as integrated turn signals that work with an included physical handlebar remote, or in concert with an Apple Watch app. It’s available in either a gloss white finish, or a matte black (as reviewed).


Lumos has designed the Matrix to work with a wide range of head sizes, thanks in part to two sets of included velcro pads for the inside of the helmet, but due mostly to the adjustable, ratcheting sizing harness on the inside. This can be easily dialled to tighten or loosen the helmet, helping it fit heads ranging between 22 and 24-inches in size.

The exterior of the Lumos is made of an ABS plastic that provides full weatherproofing, so that you can wear it in the rain without having to worry about the condition of the embedded electronics. There’s also a MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) option that you can add on if you want an additional level of safety and security, though that’s not yet shipping and should be “available soon” according to the company.

A button integrated into the helmet’s strap lets you turn it on and off, and cycle between the built-in patters. You can pair the helmet via Bluetooth with your smartphone, too, and use the dedicated app to customize features including brightness, and even creating your own custom patterns for the rear display. In the box, you’ll also find a charging cable with a standard USB A connector on one end, and a proprietary magnetic charging surface on the other for powering up both your helmet and the handlebar remote.

Design and performance

The Lumos Matrix features a mostly continuous surface, with four vents on the top of the helmet for airflow, with an integrated brim built into the shell. As mentioned, there’s a front-facing light built-in to the helmet and protected by a transparent plastic covering, as well as a rear panel of 7×11 led lights, which create a dot matrix-style display that can display images or animations, including scrolling text. These LEDs are all full RGB, allowing the user to take full advantage for their own, or built-in display creations.

Lumos also makes the Kickstart, which features a more aerodynamic, thoroughly vented design. The look of the Matrix is more akin to helmets used in skateboarding, and for urban commuter bicyclists. Despite its more solid-looking design, in testing I found that it was actually very comfortable and cool, allowing plenty of airflow. The helmet sits a bit high on the head, but has ample hard foam padding and definitely feels like a solid piece of protective gear. Overall, the extreme quality of the construction and level of the finishes on the Matrix help it earn its higher price tag.

The Matrix is also comfortable, and the adjustable sizing straps ensure a snug fit that means the helmet won’t be shifting around at all while worn. The activation button located on the chin strap near your ear is easy to find and press, with a tactile response combined with an auditory signal so you’ll know it’s on. There’s also a built-in magnetic holder for the included two-button handlebar turn signal remote in the rear interior of the helmet itself, which is super useful when wearing the helmet out on errands.

In terms of the smart features, Lumos has created a very sensible set of defaults for the on-board lighting that make it easy to just turn on the helmet and get riding. The built-in patterns offer a range of options, but all do the job of increasing your visibility – and the bright lighting means that it adds to your ability to be seen by motorists, other cyclists and pedestrians even while you’re biking in bright daylight.

The customizability of the rear dot matrix display is also super handy. Even if you’re not interested in creating colorful designs to express your artistic self, you can use it for much more practical reasons – like displaying a simple scrolling message (ie. ‘biking with kids’) in order to alert anyone else around to reasons to pay heightened attention.

The included Lumos handlebar remote is paired out of the box, and is extremely reliable in terms of activating the turn signals on the helmet. Lumos’ smartwatch app was much more hit-or-miss for me in terms of recognizing my arm gestures reliably to automate the signalling, but that’s really a value-add feature anyway, and totally not necessary to get the full benefit of the helmet. The app’s integration with Apple Health for workout tracking while biking is also fantastic, and really adds to the overall experience of using the Matrix helmet.

Bottom line

The Lumos Matrix is a fantastic bike helmet, with an amazing integrated smart lighting system that’s both bright and highly customizable. There’s a reason this thing is carried at Apple Stores – it’s top quality in terms of construction, software integration and design. That said, its retail price starts at $249.95 – which is a lot when you consider that a good quality MIPS helmet without smart features will only set you back about $60 or so.

When you consider just how much technology is onboard the Matrix, however, the pricing becomes a lot easier to swallow. It’s true that dedicated lights also aren’t expensive, but the ones on the Matrix are very high quality and extremely visible in all lighting conditions. And the Matrix offers unique features you won’t find anywhere else, including active turn signals and automated brake lights, which really add to your ability to safely share the road with other cyclists and vehicles.

Osso VR raises $14 million to bring virtual reality to surgical and medical device training

It seems that distance learning is even coming for the healthcare industry.

As remote work becomes the order of the day in the COVID-19 era, any tool that can bring training and education services to folks across industries is gaining a huge amount of investor interest — and that includes healthcare.

Virtual reality tools like those on offer from Osso VR have been raising investor dollars at a rapid clip, and now the Palo Alto, Calif.-based virtual reality distribution platform joins their ranks with a $14 million round of financing.

The money came from a clutch of investors led by the investment arm of Kaiser Permanente, a healthcare giant whose network of managed care facilities and services spans the country. Previous backers and new investors like SignalFire, GSR, Scrum Ventures, Leslie Ventures and OCA Ventures, also participated in the funding. 

Osso has seen its adoption skyrocket during the pandemic as medical device manufacturers and healthcare networks turn to training tools. that don’t require a technician to be physically present.

According to company founder Dr. Justin Barad, the market for medical device education services alone is currently around $3 billion to $5 billion and growing rapidly.

Staffed by a team that comes from Industrial Light and Magic, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, and Apple, Osso VR makes generic educational content for training purposes and then produces company specific virtual reality educational videos for companies like Johnson and Johnson. Those productions can run the gamut from instructional videos on vascular surgery to robotic surgery training tips and tricks.

While Kaiser Permanente Ventures’ Amy Belt Raimundo said that the strategic investor’s decisions to commit capital aren’t based on what Kaiser Permanente uses, necessarily, the organization does take its cues from what employees want.

“We don’t tie our investment to a deployment or customer contract, but we look for the same signals within Kaiser Permanente,” said Belt Raimundo. But the organization did have employees interested in using the Osso technology. “We made the announcement that we are looking at [Osso VR] technology for use. And that’s where the investment and commercial decision was signaling off of each other, because the response showed that there was an unmet need there,” she said.

Osso VR currently has around 30 customers, 12 of which are in the medical device space. The company uses Oculus Quest headsets and is deployed in 20 teaching hospitals across 20 different countries. In a recent validation study, surgeons training with Osso VR showed a 230 percent improvement in overall surgical performance, the company said in a statement.

The goal, according to Barad, a lifelong coder with a game development credit from Activision/Blizzard, is to democratize healthcare. “This is about improving patient outcomes, democratizing access, and improving education,” said Barad. “Now that the technology is growing and maturing and VR is growing as a platform, we can attack the broader problems,” in healthcare, he said.

 

Senate’s encryption backdoor bill is ‘dangerous for Americans,’ says Rep. Lofgren

A Senate bill that would compel tech companies to build backdoors to allow law enforcement access to encrypted devices and data would be “very dangerous” for Americans, said a leading House Democrat.

Law enforcement frequently spars with tech companies over their use of strong encryption, which protects user data from hackers and theft, but the government says makes it harder to catch criminals accused of serious crime. Tech companies like Apple and Google have in recent years doubled down on their security efforts by securing data with encryption that even they cannot unlock.

Senate Republicans in June introduced their latest “lawful access” bill, renewing previous efforts to force tech companies to allow law enforcement access to a user’s data when presented with a court order.

“It’s dangerous for Americans, because it will be hacked, it will be utilized, and there’s no way to make it secure,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, whose congressional seat covers much of Silicon Valley, told TechCrunch at Disrupt 2020. “If we eliminate encryption, we’re just opening ourselves up to massive hacking and disruption,” she said.

Lofgren’s comments echo those of critics and security experts, who have long criticized efforts to undermine encryption, arguing that there is no way to build a backdoor for law enforcement that could not also be exploited by hackers.

Several previous efforts by lawmakers to weaken and undermine encryption have failed. Currently, law enforcement has to use existing tools and techniques to find weaknesses in phones and computers. The FBI claimed for years that it had thousands of devices that it couldn’t get into, but admitted in 2018 that it repeatedly overstated the number of encrypted devices it had and the number of investigations that were negatively impacted as a result.

Lofgren has served in Congress since 1995 during the first so-called “Crypto Wars,” during which the security community fought the federal government to limit access to strong encryption. In 2016, Lofgren was part of an encryption working group on the House Judiciary Committee. The group’s final report, bipartisan but not binding, found that any measures to undermine encryption “works against the national interest.”

Still, it’s a talking point that the government continues to push, even as recently as this year when U.S. Attorney General William Barr said that Americans should accept the security risks that encryption backdoors pose.

“You cannot eliminate encryption safely,” Lofgren told TechCrunch. “And if you do, you will create chaos in the country and for Americans, not to mention others around the world,” she said. “It’s just an unsafe thing to do, and we can’t permit it.”

Apple will launch its online store in India next week

Apple will launch its online store in India on September 23, bringing a range of services directly to customers in the world’s second largest smartphone market for the first time in over 20 years since it began operations in the country.

The company, which currently relies on third-party online and offline retailers to sell its products in India, said its online store will offer AppleCare+, which extends the warranty on its hardware products by up to two years, as well as a trade-in program to let customers access discounts on purchase of new iPhones by returning previous models. These programs were previously not available in India. 

“We know our users are relying on technology to stay connected, engage in learning, and tap into their creativity, and by bringing the Apple Store online to India, we are offering our customers the very best of Apple at this important time,” said Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of Retail + People, in a statement.

TechCrunch reported in January that the iPhone-maker was planning to launch its online store in India in Q3 this year. A month later, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed the development, adding that Apple will also launch its first physical store in the country next year.

On its website, Apple says it also plans to offer financing options to customers in India, and students will receive additional discounts on Apple products and accessories. Starting next month, it will also let customers check out free online sessions on music and photography from professional creatives. And if they wish, they can engrave emoji or text on their AirPods in several Indian languages.

The launch of the online store will mark a new chapter in Apple’s business in India, where about 99% of the market is commanded by Android smartphones. The iPhone-maker has become visibly more aggressive in India in recent years. In July, the company’s contract manufacturing partner (Foxconn) began assembling the iPhone 11 in India. This was the first time the company was locally assembling a current-generation iPhone model in the country.

Assembling handsets in India enables smartphone vendors — including Apple — to avoid roughly 20% import duty that the Indian government levies on imported electronics products.

New iOS 14 widgets you can try today

Despite the surprise release of iOS 14 that left app developers unprepared, an ambitious few have managed to push their way through — or even pull an all-nighter — in order to make their apps available with iOS 14 support on launch day. For the first time in years, the new version of iOS offers a new way for consumers to organize their home screens. Now, your less frequently used apps can be shuffled away to the App Library on the iPhone’s back screen, while those apps offering information and updates can feature their content through new home screen widgets.

In time, widget support will be a standard feature for a large number of apps. But due to the way Apple chose to release iOS 14 this year, there may not be as many app widgets offered on day one.

Below are some of the first apps launching today alongside iOS 14 that include interesting iOS 14 widgets. These apps and their widgets should be available today shortly after the iOS 14 release.

Aviary

Twitter client Aviary released widgets that allow you to view either 1, 2 or 4 of the latest tweets (depending on which widget size you select) from your Twitter timeline. The widgets will update periodically by themselves, as well. The app will be available today after iOS 14 rolls out.

Image Credits: Aviary (widget shown in top right)

Brief

Unbiased news app Brief is keeping to its promises to avoid clickbait with its minimalist, monochromatic widget designed to stop attention hijacking. The “Front Page” widget’s content will be carefully curated by its news team, so only the most important stories of the day will show up on your home screen.

A second “Election Snapshot” widget will let you keep track of the current presidential, house and senate races at a glance. Users can customize this widget to track their own most-watched races, like those in their home state, for example.

Image Credits: Brief

Soor

Soor, a premium music player app for iPhone users, has released three widgets in various sizes. The “Now Playing” widget shows the current song and what’s up next, and updates in near real time. There’s also a “Magic Mixes” widget for your mixes and a “Music Collection” widget that can be configured to show eight types of curated content.

Image Credits: Soor

Readdle: Spark Mail, Calendar 5, Documents

Readdle has released widgets for its Calendar iOS app that show your appointments and the month.

Image Credits: Readdle/Calendar 5

Its Spark Mail app offers widgets for email and calendar, too.

Image Credits: Readdle/Spark Mail

And Documents by Readdle is adding widgets for quick access for file actions like VPN, music, player, browser, etc.

Image Credits: Readdle

 

Streaks

The habit forming to-do list app Streaks is out today with new widgets in various sizes for tracking your habits, goals, and your overall progress.

Image Credits: Streaks

Cheep

Cheep’s app lets you know about mistake fares or other ridiculously discounted flight deals. Its new iOS 14 widgets can be customized to feature deals from your airports and can be stacked together to make it easy to see the deals without opening the app.

Image Credits: Cheep

Dice

Dice, from PCalc, is a physics-based simulation of polyhedral dice for use in tabletop role-playing games. The app’s new widgets bring its dice to your home screen allowing you to open the app with just a tap.

Image Credits: PCalc

Twilight Dice

Another dice app also has its widgets live today.

Image Credits: Twilight Dice

Weather Line

Forecasting app Weather Line already offers a lot of visual data related to weather and forecasts. Now it’s bringing its insights and graphs right to the iOS 14 home screen. The app’s all-in-one weather widget delivers current conditions, forecasts and other content like high/low, sunrise/sunset, incoming rain, extreme weather warnings and more.

Image Credits: Weather Line

Nighthawk

Nighthawk’s Twitter client will release its first widget today. “Vanity” lets you keep an eye on your Twitter profile metrics, like how many followers you have and how many you’re following.

Apollo for Reddit

Popular Reddit client app Apollo is offering a collection of widgets, including a Post widget that shows a post from a Reddit feed of your choosing, a Multiple Posts widgets that will show several posts from your favorite feed, a Post Feed Grid that presents posts in a more visual, grid-style layout, a Wallpaper widget that will rotate through photos from image-heavy subreddits you like, as well as Showerthoughts and Jokes widgets that put a little humor on your home screen.

Image Credits: Apollo for Reddit

Carrot Weather

The iOS 14 release of Carrot’s humorous weather app brings a forecast widget, hourly and daily widgets, a weather maps widget and — in true carrot fashion — a snark widget that delivers your weather with the app’s classic snarky comments.

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Tangerine

Habit and mood tracking app Tangerine will offer a variety of widgets to remind you about your progress on your day’s goals, like your commitments to run, exercise, drink water or whatever else you may be tracking.

Image Credits: Tangerine

Nudget

Nudget’s mobile budgeting app will introduce widgets for keeping up with your household budget, including things like those categories where you’ve spent too much or have dropped your spending, and how much money you have left this week.

Image Credits: Nudget

Birch

Organized photo notes app Birch includes a Featured Photo widget that lets you put a photo on your home screen — a neat trick, since there’s not a way to do so with the iOS Photos app. (Submitting today)

Image Credits: Birch

Card Pointers

Card Pointers, an app that helps users get the most points and cash back from their credit cards, is launching with three widgets that will help people track their cards, know when to use one to maximize their benefits, and stay on top of the free statement credits being offered.

Image Credits: Card Pointers

FunnMedia’s apps

FunnMedia’s health tracking apps, HabitMinder, WaterMinder, Calory App and Healthview all have released widgets today to help you track movement, water intake, and other health goals.

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SmartGym

SmartGym arrives today with several new widgets including your week’s workout summary, simpler workout widgets with more graphics, and even one that delivers motivational quotes. The widgets can also be stacked in case you can’t decide which to choose.

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Pocketdex

Pocketdex will put your Pokémon on your homescreen. (The app is rolling out now).

Image Credits: Pocketdex

 

The above apps should be live today after iOS 14 releases, barring some unforeseen rejection.

iOS 14 is now available to download

Apple has just released the final version of iOS 14, the next major version of the operating system for the iPhone. It is a free download and it works with the iPhone 6s or later, both generations of iPhone SE and the most recent iPod touch model. If your device runs iOS 13, it supports iOS 14. The update may or may not be immediately available, but keep checking because people are now receiving the update.

The company is also releasing major updates for the iPad, Apple Watch and Apple TV today. So you can expect some new features with iPadOS 14, tvOS 14 and watchOS 7 as well.

The release of those updates caught many developers by surprise. Apple announced yesterday that iOS 14 would be ready for prime time today. Usually, the company announces the release date a week or two in advance. This way, developers have enough time to fix the last remaining bugs and submit updates to the App Store.

If you update your iPhone today, don’t be surprised if you encounter a few bugs here and there from third-party apps. There are some major changes under the hood and nobody expected such a short turnaround.

The update is currently rolling out and is available both over-the-air in the Settings app, and by plugging your device into iTunes for a wired update. But first, back up your device. Make sure your iCloud backup is up to date by opening the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad and tapping on your account information at the top and then on your device name. Additionally, you can also plug your iOS device into your computer to do a manual backup in iTunes (or do both, really).

Don’t forget to encrypt your backup in iTunes. It is much safer if somebody hacks your computer. And encrypted backups include saved passwords and health data. This way, you don’t have to reconnect to all your online accounts.

Once this is done, you should go to the Settings app, then ‘General’ and then ‘Software Update.’ Then you should see ‘Update Requested…’ It will then automatically start downloading once the download is available.

The biggest change of iOS 14 is the introduction of widgets on the home screen, a new App Library to browse all your apps and the ability to run App Clips — those are mini apps that feature a small part of an app and that you can run without installing anything.

There are also many refinements across the board, such as new features for Messages, with a big focus on groups with @-mentions and replies, a new Translate app that works on your device, cycling directions in Apple Maps in some cities and various improvements in Notes, Reminders, Weather, Home and more.

If you want to learn more about iOS 14, I looked at some of the features in the new version earlier this summer: