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Poll: Are you trying the iOS 14 beta or waiting until the fall?

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Apple announced iOS 14 at WWDC 2020 last month with a redesigned home screen and features like widgets, App Library, Car keys, and more. While the developer beta preview has been available since June, Apple released the first public beta of iOS 14 this week. Now we want to know if you’re already trying iOS 14 on your devices or if you decided to wait until the fall.

Every major iOS and iPadOS update first goes through a more restricted testing phase before being available to the public. That’s because beta software is often unstable, and it can cause compatibility issues with third-party apps.

Even so, some users get intrigued to test new versions of iOS before everyone else. This year, iOS 14 stood out for its major changes to the home screen interface, which was nearly the same since the first iPhone in 2007.

For the first time you can add widgets to the home screen and combine them with the app icons. These widgets can be positioned in different ways and in different sizes. There’s also the App Library, a new place to organize all installed apps automatically without having to put them on the home screen.

iOS 14 also brings several new features, and we have already covered some of them here on 9to5Mac. These include changing default email and browser apps, more accessibility options, Car keys, new Translate app, and much more.

The official release of iOS 14 is only expected later this year, so regular users will have to wait longer until they get all these new features. However, with iOS 14 now available to Apple Beta Software Program members, we want to know about you.

Are you already trying iOS 14 on your devices? Or have you decided to wait until the fall? Let us know in the poll below and elaborate down in the comments!

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Apple details guidelines for web browsers and email clients with new default app option on iOS 14

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We have already provided an early look at how you’ll be able to change default apps on iOS 14, although Apple itself hasn’t disclosed details about this new feature. This week, however, the company has shared the documentation of the new API with more details on how it will work and the guidelines that developers need to follow.

iOS users have never been able to set third-party apps as default. While you can install Chrome, Spark, and other apps on your iPhone or iPad, the system will always open Safari and Mail when you tap a URL or email address. Apple announced this year that users will finally be able to replace these apps with others from the App Store with iOS 14.

Apple says there are some requirements that developers need to be aware of in order to get their apps approved on the App Store with the option to replace Safari and Mail.

The system invokes the default web browser in iOS whenever the user opens an HTTP or HTTPS link. Because this app becomes the user’s primary gateway to the internet, Apple requires that web browsing apps meet specific functional criteria to protect user privacy and ensure proper access to internet resources.

Apps intended to be set as default apps must use a specific entitlement, but the company emphasizes that developers must request an individual permission by sending an email to Apple. Otherwise, the app will be rejected on the App Store.

For web browsers, the app needs to offer basic features of a regular browser such as a text field for entering URLs and searching, as well as curated lists of bookmarks. Apple also explains that web browsers with the default app option can’t be built using UIWebView, which was deprecated last year. Instead, developers must use the new WKWebView.

These apps must redirect the user to the websites they expect, in addition to presenting alerts for suspicious content or other problems. “Apps that redirect to unexpected locations or render content not specified in the destination’s source code don’t meet the requirements of a default web browser,” says Apple.

According to the documentation, Apple will also reject apps that access personal data unnecessarily. Web browsers with access to HomeKit, Health data, and always-on location services will be rejected. Most of these rules also apply to third-party email clients with the default app option. In this case, the app needs to provide a way to send and receive messages from any email address.

The company will review each app to determine if it meets all the requirements to use this new API in an attempt to prevent apps that aren’t actually browsers or email clients from being set as default apps.

Apple posted docs about setting default browser and email apps in iOS 14.

Some details:

– Browsers must have an address bar + search or bookmarks

– Email clients with “incoming mail screening features are permitted” (so @heyhey is okay, I guess)https://t.co/usIdIQcret

— Federico Viticci (@viticci) August 3, 2020

Once you have a compatible app installed on your iPhone or iPad, you can set it as a default web browser or email client through the Settings app on iOS 14. Since each app must be reviewed and approved by Apple, don’t expect to have access to the new Default Apps feature before the official release of iOS 14 to the public this fall.

You can read the full documentation about the Default Apps API on Apple’s website.

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Hands-on: Rampow 61W GaN USB-C Power Adapter [Video]

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Today we are taking a closer look at the new Rampow USB-C Power Adapter. Ready for your all of your MacBooks and other other mobile devices, it packs in the latest charging tech in a particularly tight and robust package. Now available with an exclusive discount alongside our hands-on video below, hit the jump for more details on the new, ultra-compact USB-C charger. 

You can get the Rampow USB-C Power Adapter for $25 (Reg $49) with code 9to5BFNG for a limited time.

The new 61W Rampow USB-C Power Adapter — available in both black or white — is designed for fast charging in a super compact package, a fraction of the size of Apple’s comparable wall adapter. 

With support for the USB Power Delivery standard 3.0 as well as QC 2.0 and 3.0, the new 61W Rampow offering can take your 13-inch MacBook Pro, for example, from 0 to 50% in about 30-minutes. That is quite a bit faster than Apple’s OEM option which will, according to Rampow’s tests, only provide around 40% charge in the same time frame. 

Rampow USB-C Power Adapter:

Charging speeds aside, one of the main draws of the latest from Rampow is the notably condensed footprint. The implementation of GaN and PI (Power Integration) tech allows for the much smaller form factor you’re seeing here. Along with the usual benefits concerning power waste and component efficiency, this has paved the way for Rampow to offer a drastically smaller charging solution. Nearly half the size of the Apple-designed alternative, the Rampow USB-C Power Adapter is both faster and easier to lug around in your daily carry than most.  

Another element of the design to point out here is the actual plug folding mechanism. It just feels more robust and sturdy compared to Apple’s charger, giving an impression of longevity you might not necessarily get from competitors here. 

The Rampow adapter is UL, FCC and RoHS certified with what the company calls “active safeguards” to protect against ugly overheating issues and the like. You’ll notice Rampow is shipping its new power adapter solution with a lifetime warranty as well. 

The new Rampow USB-C Power Adapter is now available for purchase at Amazon for $49.99. However, 9to5Mac readers can use code 9to5BFNG at checkout to knock 50% off the total from now through August 14, 2020. 

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Watch SpaceX troubleshoot iPad issue with NASA astronauts using AirDrop during spaceflight

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Law breaking boats weren’t the only surprises SpaceX experienced during an otherwise smooth NASA astronaut splashdown over the weekend. An issue involving a custom SpaceX app on the iPad also made a cameo appearance during the crewed return trip from the International Space Station to Earth.

iPad mini manuals

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is a 21st-century capsule equipped with giant touchscreen panels and digital spaceflight manuals viewed on iPads. Through part of their journey, astronauts inside the capsule wear special space suits with touchscreen-compatible gloves for controlling the buttonless control panels and paperless manuals. The spacecraft is also programmed to fly itself during spaceflight with the option for crew to take over as needed.

These special space suits actually connect to the ship to handle communication, cooling, and pressurization. Astronauts can also strap their Apple tablets onto their flight suits to avoid losing their digital manuals during flight or while experiencing zero gravity. It’s a modern alternative to overly complicated control switches and thick instruction set binders.

Space bugs

But no technology is so perfect that it can’t bug out during an astronaut return flight home in a brand-new spacecraft that’s never landed crew before. One of the crew iPad mini tablets briefly became the subject of a quick dialogue between SpaceX Crew Operations and Resources Engineer Anne Menon and NASA astronaut Bob Behnken.

SpaceX Crew Operations and Resources Engineer Anne Menon (top left) at SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne, California

The communication started with Astronaut Behnken explaining that he had an issue with something before communication dropped out momentarily. A few seconds later, the astronaut read out an error message presumably from the custom SpaceX application created for the iPad.

“A timeline application on my tablet, uh, gives me a error message that says Safari cannot open the page, and then it’s got a HTML address because your iPad is not connected to the internet,” Behnken reported. “Can you confirm that Wi-Fi is off and AirPlane Mode is on,” asked Menon. Then the NASA astronaut improvised with a go-to troubleshooting step.

“Yes, uh, Wi-Fi is off and AirPlane Mode is on. If you have the display cameras up, I’ll try to show it to you,” Behnken suggested. “We will take that,” Menon replied. “We’re coming up on a ground station pass and we have the display camera up. And Dragon SpaceX, can you bring that a little bit closer? Dragon SpaceX, we’ve got a good image of that. Thank you, we will look into that and get back to you. And to be clear this is just happening, Bob, on your tablet, not on Doug’s?”

“Yes, it’s happening on my tablet,” Behnken answered. “I did have a fine timeline before but when we started to set up and load the changes that you just read up to us it just went to that page instead of the timeline I had up before.”

View from 4:16:21

AirDrop to the rescue

Astronaut Behnken took a break from the iPad’s timeline app issue to take some space photography of Australia and prepare for an overnight sleepover in the Crew Dragon capsule before arriving back on Earth the following day.

The issue with updating the digital timeline app was later determined to mostly likely be caused by a caching issue when saving an update. SpaceX eventually requested that astronaut Doug Hurley take screenshots of his day timeline as a backup in case his app experienced the same caching issue. Then each astronaut was instructed to briefly turn on wifi to enable the iPad’s AirDrop feature for wirelessly sending the screenshots between iPads.

It was also explained that mission critical documentation would be located in Adobe Acrobat on the tablet and would not be affected by the caching issue. At any rate, the slight blip in functionality is likely to be among the limited issued that will need to be addressed before the next astronaut splashdown. (Other issues include tighter security to keep boaters away, a better effort to remove dangerous gases from around the spacecraft before astronauts exit, and an additional backup generator for SpaceX’s recovery vessel.)

Mission success

NASA astronauts Behnken and Hurley successfully splashed down inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft in the Gulf of Mexico near Pensacola on Sunday. The final step concluded their mission to test the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft for human spaceflight.

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The first operational mission aboard the International Space Station since the completion of the demonstration mission will launch from Kennedy Space Center in mid-September. Astronauts for the later Crew-2 mission have already been selected, including astronaut Megan McArthur (Bob Behnken is her husband), who will return to the ISS in the same spacecraft used by the SpaceX Demo-2 mission.

NASA unveiled plans to have overlap between Crew-1 and Crew-2 on the International Space Station during each six-month duration mission.

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