Prefer App Aims to Reinvent the Gig Economy with Client Relationships

The gig economy has given so many more options to professionals looking to provide services, and to businesses and individuals looking to hire skilled professionals. But the process hasn’t always been very personal.

Typically, when someone is looking to hire a professional, they might look for reviews online or even use an app to find the closest service provider. But now, there’s an app that’s aiming to make personal recommendations a bigger part of the process.Prefer App Aims to Reinvent the Gig Economy with Client Relationships

The Prefer App

The app is called Prefer. It’s one part review site and one part social network. Instead of simply searching for a service provider and seeing a one-dimensional ratings scale, you can use the app to connect with people you know and trust and then see their personal recommendations.

This type of thing could be a big win for those working in the gig economy. If you’re a professional who values building relationships with clients and providing really top-notch service, personal recommendations can be a whole lot more effective than a simple star rating that’s based mostly on the opinions of strangers.

Personal recommendations have always been a big part of how small businesses succeed. But for ages, those referrals have taken place mainly by word of mouth. If an app like Prefer can help businesses and professionals leverage technology to increase the reach of those personal recommendations, it could mean a big boost for the gig economy as a whole.

Currently, the service is only available in New York City. But those interested in using the Prefer app in other cities can sign up to be alerted when it becomes available.

Plex App for Android Will Now Let You Play Files Stored on Your Phone

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Latest Plex update will play mostly any video file on Android
  • You won’t need a third party app to play videos
  • App will fetch metadata for your media file

Popular media server Plex has just brought a major update to its app for Android. You can now open and play pretty much any video file stored on your Android device or SD card, and you no longer have to play it through a third-party player. The company says that with this update, you will no longer face the problem of opening video files stored locally.

Plex App for Android Will Now Let You Play Files Stored on Your Phone

The latest update for Android will now let you play local video files including .MP4s, .MKVs, .AVIs, .WMVs, and .WMDs, among other formats, within the app. The Plex app for Android already lets you scheduled live TV recordings, offering a DVR-like function, and with this new update, the app has a stronger case to take on apps like VLC.

The ability to open practically any video format will come in handy as users may sometimes find themselves downloading files from torrent sites that can be difficult to play on mobile. In addition to locally stored files, the latest update also lets you open files stored in third-party apps like Dropbox. You can also open video files from the Web browser, Downloads app, or a file explorer app.plex android update playback plex

Notably, the Plex app will also automatically fetch metadata for your media file. If the file is recognised, the title, artwork will show. It is able to do this by matching the videos based on the filename and other details. But sometimes there could be an error in getting the right details for the video. In that case, you can tap on the three dot icon below the video and select the ‘Unmatch’ option to hide the metadata.

Most of the playback controls will be available when playing a local file, like pausing, skipping or stopping the tracks. The update (v6.0) is rolling out to Android phones and tablets and can be downloaded via Google Play, and will come soon to the Amazon App Store.

Adobe Scan App With Text Recognition Launched for Android and iOS

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Adobe Scan app is free to download and use
  • The app is already available on both Android and iOS
  • Adobe Scan offers text recognition feature

Adobe on Wednesday launched its document scanning app called Adobe Scan. If you are wondering why you should opt for Adobe’s app over the existing scanning apps available on Google Play store or Apple’s App Store, the new scanning app comes with Adobe Document Cloud integration. While the app is free to download and use, users will need an Adobe ID to get access to its features. It’s available for Android and iOS.

While the Adobe Scan works like almost every other scanning app, it offers the option to sharpen the scanned content and touch up scans or photos from your camera roll. Users can scan multiple-page documents and then save the scans as PDF files with the help of Adobe Scan app. One of the key features offered by the Adobe Scan is text recognition, just like the one offered by Microsoft Lens, which allows users to scan images into editable documents and can come in handy for working professionals as well as students.

“The free Adobe Scan app turns your device into a powerful portable scanner that recognises text automatically (OCR). Turn anything – receipts, notes, documents, pictures, business cards, whiteboards – into an Adobe PDF with content you can reuse,” the company says in the app description on Google Play.

Adobe Scan App With Text Recognition Launched for Android and iOS

“Adobe Scan represents a radical re-imagination of how to capture your most important document content,” Bryan Lamkin, executive vice president and general manager, Digital Media at Adobe, was quoted as saying in the company’s release.

“Adobe invented PDF creation for PCs, and with Adobe Scan we’re doing the same for a mobile-first world. As part of Adobe Document Cloud, new apps like Adobe Scan integrate with services in Adobe Sign and Acrobat DC, offering a modern document experience with unprecedented value to our customers,” Lamkin said.

Apple Says Developers Earned Over $70 Billion Since App Store's Launch

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Apple made the announcement on Thursday
  • Photo and Video category is fastest growing category on App Store
  • Apple’s WWDC 2017 kicks off next week

Apple on Thursday, few days ahead of its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kickoff, announced that its global developer community has earned over $70 billion through the App Store since its launch in 2008. The Cupertino-based giant further added that last 12 months have seen massive growth, and the App Store has seen over 70 percent growth in downloads.

Talking about its App Store, Apple said that iOS developers around the world have been catering to 155 countries, and few segments have lately seen massive growth. Apple says that the Photo and Video category is among the “fastest-growing” as it registered nearly 90 percent growth. Other segments like Lifestyle apps, Health and Fitness have seen over 70 percent growth in the past year. Gaming and Entertainment are top-grossing categories, adds Apple in a statement.

Apple also adds that the subscription model introduction has bumped the paid subscriptions as it saw 58 percent more paid subscriptions compared to over a year ago. The company notes that subscription model has been doing well in a wide variety of services including Netflix and Hulu. While newcomers like Tastemade, the mobile-first cooking network, and photo editing apps like Over and Enlight, have also done well.Apple Says Developers Earned Over $70 Billion Since App Store's Launch

Announcing the news, Philip Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing said, “People everywhere love apps and our customers are downloading them in record numbers. Seventy billion dollars earned by developers is simply mind-blowing. We are amazed at all of the great new apps our developers create and can’t wait to see them again next week at our Worldwide Developers Conference.”

Apple’s annual developer conference WWDC is no doubt one of the biggest events for the technology lovers and it will take place from June 5 to June 9. The 28th annual Worldwide Developers Conference will be returning to McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, which will host the event after 15 years. For those unaware, San Jose was the original venue of WWDC, and it hosted Apple’s annual event from 1988 to 2002.

Apple Swift Playgrounds Educational Coding App Expands to Robots, Drones, and More

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Swift Playgrounds to offer new way to learn to code using robots, drones
  • It is an intuitive programming language for building apps
  • The Swift Playgrounds 1.5 update will be available from June 5

Tech giant Apple has announced that Swift Playgrounds, its educational coding app for iPad, will now offer a new way to learn to code using robots, drones and musical instruments.

Swift Playgrounds is great for students and beginners learning to code with Swift, Apple’s intuitive programming language for building apps.

“More than one million kids and adults from around the world are already using Swift Playgrounds to learn the fundamentals of coding with Swift in a fun and interactive way,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering.

“Now they can instantly see the code they create and directly control their favourite robots, drones and instruments through Swift Playgrounds. It’s an incredibly exciting and powerful way to learn,” added Federighi.

Apple Swift Playgrounds Educational Coding App Expands to Robots, Drones, and More

Apple is working with leading device makers to make it easy to connect to Bluetooth-enabled robots within the Swift Playgrounds app, allowing kids to programme and control popular devices, including LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3, Sphero SPRK+, Parrot drones and more.

The Swift Playgrounds 1.5 update will be available as a free download on the App Store starting from June 5.

Swift Playgrounds is compatible with all iPad Air and iPad Pro models and iPad mini 2 and later running iOS 10 or even later versions.

Cheetah Mobile Launches Live.me Broadcasting App in India

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Live.me live broadcasting app available in India
  • The app is available to download via Google Play and App Store
  • Cheetah Mobile is maker of popular utility app Clean Master

Cheetah Mobile, the maker of popular mobile utility apps like Clean Master, CM Security, and Battery Doctor, has now launched its live broadcasting app for Indian users. Live.me app is now available to download via Google Play and App Store.

Live.me app will provide video-broadcasting features with interactive stickers with face-mapping technology to interact with the audience. The app also offers users to interact with other users and social influencers ‘live’. As add-ons, users can purchase digital “gifts” like emoji for favourite live creators. The app also supports social media integration to allow users to share their broadcasts to friends.

The app maker has plans to build fan communities by promoting Indian artists through live events and promotions within the app and on social media. The app can also identify sensitive Indian keywords in both English and Hindi that will block and report users with unsavoury content. Currently, Live.me features over 50 ‘influencers’ to engage with including artists such as Vishakha Sodha, Shruti Singh, Sonel Singh, Avanie Joshi, Shahzan Mujeeb, Nalin Swami, RJ Diamond, and RJ Kalpesh.

Cheetah Mobile Launches Live.me Broadcasting App in India

Announcing the launch, Yuki He, VP of Cheetah Mobile said, “Live.me is a platform of expression and creativity. We recognize the bursting creativity and passion among the people in India and we are proud to bring Live.me to empower this passion and bring it alive. We hope that users in India embrace the app and give voice to their talents and reach a global audience. The introduction of Live.me in India will shape the future of mobile broadcasting.”

Cheetah Mobile claims that Live.me has been ranked as top app under social category on Google Play for the US region while it’s third top on the App Store. Other markets where Live.me is available include Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Middle East.

 

MEL Science Launches Daydream VR App for Chemistry Education

HIGHLIGHTS

  • MEL Science wants to bring together chemistry kits and VR
  • It wants students to explore the inside of atoms to understand reactions
  • It’s starting with Google Daydream, with Cardboard and Gear VR next

Virtual reality is slowly gaining steam, and although gaming takes up the lion’s share of attention, many experts believe that areas like education will be powerful drivers for growth when it comes to VR. This is steadily becoming reality, according to Vassili Philippov, Founder and CEO of MEL Science. In an emailed conversation with Gadgets 360, Philippov talks about why he believes virtual reality is going to become extremely important in the education sector, and gave us an early look at the company’s Chemistry VR application, which releases on Tuesday.

MEL Science is a London-based company that is building a technology-enabled approach to science education. It’s using educational videos, virtual reality explanations for the underlying science, and combining that with hands-on experiments using real chemistry kits.

MEL Science Launches Daydream VR App for Chemistry Education

Philippov says that the new VR application is being released as a subscription service – with the first six VR classes free – and each month, consumers will get two new chemistry sets to do experiments with their kids at home, alongside the VR and video experiences. Philippov says the chemistry sets are important, because he does not believe that VR alone can replace a chemistry set.

MEL build atom MEL

“Virtual reality can be used to simulate a real lab. So instead of using real chemicals, test tubes, and burners you will use virtual ones,” he writes. “Indeed, real hands-on experiments are more engaging for kids. Every time I do experiments with kids, I see their eyes light up. We do not want to take it away from our kids by replacing real hands-on experiments with a VR lab.”

VR is perfect for explaining how the science behind the experiments works, according to Philippov. “VR is perfect to place kids inside a chemical reaction where molecules fly all around them, where they see how these molecules interact with each other,” he writes. “We can let them play with atomic orbitals. We can encourage kids to touch them, build their own atoms and molecules and see what happens.”

“You can explain to kids what happens inside a chemical reaction or inside a cell,” Philippov continues. “You can also explain why. And you can show pictures. Imagine how much more they would understand if they were to find themselves inside a chemical reaction.”

The idea behind the MEL VR application is that it becomes easier for children to understand basic concepts by enabling them to visualise things that happen at a micro level in a very interactive manner. The free lessons that MEL will be releasing cover atoms in solids, atoms in gases, atoms in structure, electron orbitals, and create your own atom. This will enable children to learn about the structure of the atom, and the differences between the elements.

MEL in lab MEL

Starting with Google Daydream
One of the challenges with virtual reality is that there are too many platforms out there, which is a problem for those developing new applications. In the high-end VR space, we’ve got three systems: the Playstation VR, which is a closed system that only works with the PS4; and the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, which are both powered by high-end PCs. Software for the latter two has some degree of interoperability, with a raft of caveats.

Then there’s a whole range of mobile VR headsets as well – starting with Google Cardboard, the Samsung Gear VR developed wth Oculus, and most recently, Google’s Daydream.

MEL Chemistry VR is being launched for Google Daydream – coincidentally, just one day after the Daydream Viewer headset was launched in India on Monday – which is supported on only a handful of phones. As of now, Daydream is limited to the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, and Moto Z, and it is coming to Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ soon. On the other hand, you can use Cardboard with almost every phone, including Apple’s iPhone.

MEL first person MEL

However, Philippov writes that MEL Science wanted to focus on Daydream first because it offers much more functionality than its cheaper, and more widespread cousin, Cardboard. That said, the company will release a Cardboard build, and then a Gear VR build as well, he adds. “Gear VR is a great platform, although most schools use Cardboard as it is much cheaper,” he writes.

On the other hand, Philippov is of the opinion that high-end PC VR setups are not likely to find much use in education, at least not at the school level. “We believe mobile based VR will be the way to go in schools,” he continues.

A concern we raised is whether it would be safe to use a VR headset for extended periods, particularly for children whose bodies are still developing. Philippov admits that there’s no data yet on this space, but he points out that Google has already been using VR for education, with some success.

“Google did quite large scale pilot program with Google Expedition in schools,” he writes. “More than one million students have tried this VR experience. I have not seen the official papers but what I heard that no big concerns were identified to use of VR in schools. It is still early days for VR technology, but I am sure that it will be a great tool in science education.”

WWDC 2017: Amazon Prime Video Coming to Apple TV and TV App

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Tim Cook announced Prime Video for Apple TV
  • tvOS updates to be revealed later this year
  • Prime Video will be available on all Apple TVs

Apple kicked off its WWDC 2017 on Monday with a keynote address at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, where CEO Tim Cook announced new updates to its four key operating systems – tvOS, watchOS, macOS, and iOS. Talking about tvOS, Apple is finally bringing Amazon Prime Video to its Apple TV, as expected.

Cook announced the company’s partnership with Amazon, which will now see the latter’s video subscription service part of Apple TV’s app catalogue. The mention was brief and Cook did not explicitly say when Prime Video will be made available, so you could see it as early as today, or with the next tvOS update, which the CEO has teased for later this year. Furthermore, Prime Video will be available on all Apple TV generations currently in production. It will also be coming to the TV app.WWDC 2017: Amazon Prime Video Coming to Apple TV and TV App

The Apple-Amazon announcement was expected since early last month, where some media reports suggested that the Prime Video app will go live this summer. One of the reasons Amazon’s service can now be part of Apple TV could be because Apple earlier this year changed its App Store policy increasing the tvOS apps size limit from 200MB to 4GB. This means larger apps will now be supported on Apple TV.

The new deal between the two companies may also mean that Amazon will soon resume selling the Apple TV streaming player on its e-commerce properties, something it has stopped doing back in 2015 alongside the Google Chromecast as it saw both the streaming players as a direct competition to its Fire TV streaming player. Note, that this bit has not been confirmed, and was said to be part of the reported deal.