Meta tests easier account switching between Facebook and Instagram

Meta is testing two features that integrate Facebook and Instagram more closely together. On Monday, the company began rolling out a new interface on Android, iOS and on the web for switching between accounts. Provided you’ve added your Facebook and Instagram credentials to the same Accounts Center, you can use the feature to switch between the two apps without navigating to your phone’s home screen, multitasking menu or app drawer. The interface also allows you to see a count of all your notifications in one place.

At the same time, Meta is introducing a redesigned login and onboarding experience on Android and iOS. If you’re new to the company’s social networks, you can create one account and then use it to create additional ones. For those who already have both Facebook and Instagram accounts, it’s now possible to use the login information associated with one app to access the other – though you first need to add them to the same Accounts Center.

The new interface flow for creating Facebook and Instagram accounts
Meta

Meta will notify you every time you use an existing account to create a new one or you add an account to the Accounts Center. Additionally, security features like two-factor authentication will still work, preventing, for instance, someone from using your Instagram credentials to access your Facebook account.

While the new features are “currently limited to Facebook and Instagram,” Meta notes it will “continue to explore how to improve connected experiences across all of our technologies.” They arrive following the debut of Meta accounts in August and a recent downturn in both revenue and user growth for the company.

Aphex Twin’s free ‘sample mashing’ app feeds on your music library

Aphex Twin is finally ready to offer his mutation-driven music software to the world. Pitchforknotes Aphex Twin (aka Richard James) and engineer Dave Griffiths have released Samplebrain, a free "sample mashing" app that turns audio files from your computer into sample blocks you can use for projects. You can recreate a sample using tracks in your music library, or craft a "303 riff" from unexpected sounds.

The app is available in ready-to-use versions for Mac and Windows computers. You can build a Linux-friendly edition as well. As Pitchfork warns, you may need some technical know-how to use the app — this isn't for rookie musicians.

Samplebrain has been a long time coming, to put it mildly. James said he first envisioned the app in 2002, back when Drukqs was his latest release. He revealed that he'd hired an engineer to work on the software in 2014 (when he returned to music with Syro), but didn't say much else until now. There's a good reason for that, apparently. James and Griffiths realized the project became "slightly out of control" as they added more and more parameters, and James admitted he hasn't had much time to "explore [Samplebrain] properly." This is a bid to finally put the tool in creators' hands, even if it's in a rough form.

Major Audacity update makes it a much better audio production tool

Audacity is best known as a free app to do quick audio edits and record audio, but the latest update makes it more viable as a full on production tool, parent Muse Group has announced. Version 3.2 now supports non-destructive editing, real-time effects and enhanced VST3 support, along with user interface improvements and faster audio sharing via a new service, audio.com.

The most welcome addition is non-destructive audio capabilities that allow creators to adjust effects without the changes being permanently baked into the audio file. It also supports real-time playback of effects and crossfades as you adjust them, allowing for more accurate edits while listening to audio. That compares to previous versions, which required that you render the effect before you could hear it.

The company has completely rewritten the code base for VST plugins to improve stability and reliability, while adding improved support for VST3. It also addressed concerns about what we've called its "ugly and a bit archaic" user interface. And it now offers a "clearer and more consistent set of visuals" in the top bar for editing, with a new "Audio Setup" option that makes it easier to change input, mic and output settings. 

Finally, the new audio.com site lets you easily share audio files by sending a link rather than the entire file. You can share files either publicly or privately, or use your account for cloud storage. (Muse Group recently updated its privacy policy, promising it wouldn't sell any of the "very limited" data it collects from users.) The new version of the app is now available as a free download

Apple updates iOS 16 to fix shaky iPhone 14 Pro camera and copy-paste issues

Apple released its latest iPhone lineup and mobile platforms earlier this month, and a couple of annoying bugs quickly made themselves known to users. The good news is that the tech giant has quickly whipped up patches to fix the issues and has now released them as part of the iOS 16.0.2 update. One of the problems the update solves is the iPhone 14 Pro's compatibility troubles with third-party apps that use its camera, such as Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat. 

Users found that when they fire up those apps and use the device's rear cam, the camera view shakes on screen and the phone emanates grinding and rattling noises. In its patch notes, Apple said the update fixes an issue wherein the "[c]amera may vibrate and cause blurry photos when shooting with some third-party apps on iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max." The company didn't elaborate on the cause behind it, but it's possible that the apps weren't meshing well with the device's optical image stabilization system, causing the rattling noises. 

Another troublesome problem the update fixes is the persistent appearance of permission prompts when trying to copy and paste content between apps. Apple senior manager Ron Huang previously admitted that it was "absolutely not expected behavior" and said the company was dealing with it. iOS 16.0.2 will get rid of other bugs, as well, including one that causes the device's display to go black during setup and another that renders the touch input on some iPhone X, iPhone XR and iPhone 11 displays to be unresponsive after they're serviced. 

Apple updates iOS 16 to fix shaky iPhone 14 Pro camera and copy-paste issues

Apple released its latest iPhone lineup and mobile platforms earlier this month, and a couple of annoying bugs quickly made themselves known to users. The good news is that the tech giant has quickly whipped up patches to fix the issues and has now released them as part of the iOS 16.0.2 update. One of the problems the update solves is the iPhone 14 Pro's compatibility troubles with third-party apps that use its camera, such as Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat. 

Users found that when they fire up those apps and use the device's rear cam, the camera view shakes on screen and the phone emanates grinding and rattling noises. In its patch notes, Apple said the update fixes an issue wherein the "[c]amera may vibrate and cause blurry photos when shooting with some third-party apps on iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max." The company didn't elaborate on the cause behind it, but it's possible that the apps weren't meshing well with the device's optical image stabilization system, causing the rattling noises. 

Another troublesome problem the update fixes is the persistent appearance of permission prompts when trying to copy and paste content between apps. Apple senior manager Ron Huang previously admitted that it was "absolutely not expected behavior" and said the company was dealing with it. iOS 16.0.2 will get rid of other bugs, as well, including one that causes the device's display to go black during setup and another that renders the touch input on some iPhone X, iPhone XR and iPhone 11 displays to be unresponsive after they're serviced. 

Meta sued for allegedly dodging Apple’s privacy rules

Felix Krause's discovery that Meta's Facebook and Instagram apps can track iPhone owners across websites hasn't sat well with some people. Bloombergreports users have filed two proposed class action lawsuits accusing Meta of evading Apple's privacy-oriented App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature and consequently violating both federal and state laws barring unauthorized data gathering. Meta supposedly created a workaround by injecting tracking code into websites when you use its in-app browser, letting it monitor activity regardless of whether or not you gave permission to the app.

Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency as part of the iOS 14.5 update released in April 2021. The technology lets you ask apps not to track you, and requires that you explicitly opt in. Meta has been vocal in its opposition. It encouraged users to allow tracking, and warned that ATT might cost it $10 billion in ad revenue this year.

Meta rejected the allegations in a statement to Engadget. The company said both lawsuits were "without merit," and that it would defend itself "vigorously." It further claimed its in-app browsers honor privacy decisions, including for ads.

The lawsuits aren't certain to obtain class action status, which could lead to compensation for many users. Whether or not the suits are successful, they illustrate the tension between Meta, Apple and privacy advocates — Meta is determined to preserve the targeted advertising that fuels its business, even as critics and rival companies raise more objections.

Meta sued for allegedly dodging Apple’s privacy rules

Felix Krause's discovery that Meta's Facebook and Instagram apps can track iPhone owners across websites hasn't sat well with some people. Bloombergreports users have filed two proposed class action lawsuits accusing Meta of evading Apple's privacy-oriented App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature and consequently violating both federal and state laws barring unauthorized data gathering. Meta supposedly created a workaround by injecting tracking code into websites when you use its in-app browser, letting it monitor activity regardless of whether or not you gave permission to the app.

Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency as part of the iOS 14.5 update released in April 2021. The technology lets you ask apps not to track you, and requires that you explicitly opt in. Meta has been vocal in its opposition. It encouraged users to allow tracking, and warned that ATT might cost it $10 billion in ad revenue this year.

Meta rejected the allegations in a statement to Engadget. The company said both lawsuits were "without merit," and that it would defend itself "vigorously." It further claimed its in-app browsers honor privacy decisions, including for ads.

The lawsuits aren't certain to obtain class action status, which could lead to compensation for many users. Whether or not the suits are successful, they illustrate the tension between Meta, Apple and privacy advocates — Meta is determined to preserve the targeted advertising that fuels its business, even as critics and rival companies raise more objections.

Instagram app rendered unusable for some by instant crash bug

If you had been using Instagram's Android app in the past hour or so, you might have noticed that an error had been causing it to crash seconds after launching, rendering it almost unusable. You weren't alone: users from multiple regions flooded Twitter with complaints about this phenomenon. According to Downdetector, this bug first appeared around 12:44PM EDT today (September 23rd) — roughly matching the time when this author also started scratching head over the seemingly random crashes. At the time of writing this article, there were still fresh tweets grumbling about this issue.

A Meta representative confirmed to famed software engineer Jane Wong that the company is aware of the outage and it's working to restore service "as quickly as possible." While this bug appeared to be exclusive to Instagram's Android app, Wong told Engadget that the iOS counterpart was also loading very slowly for her, indicating a backend issue.

At present, users who are able to open the app have noted limited functionality, including an inability to access Reels or DMs. We'll be monitoring the situation as service gradually resumes, and will update if Meta provides additional details on what went wrong.

Update 9/22/22 2:29PM EDT: Meta says Instagram is back to normal as of 2:25PM EDT, though it stopped short at sharing what went wrong. We will share more if we hear back.

Instagram app rendered unusable for some by instant crash bug

If you had been using Instagram's Android app in the past hour or so, you might have noticed that an error had been causing it to crash seconds after launching, rendering it almost unusable. You weren't alone: users from multiple regions flooded Twitter with complaints about this phenomenon. According to Downdetector, this bug first appeared around 12:44PM EDT today (September 23rd) — roughly matching the time when this author also started scratching head over the seemingly random crashes. At the time of writing this article, there were still fresh tweets grumbling about this issue.

A Meta representative confirmed to famed software engineer Jane Wong that the company is aware of the outage and it's working to restore service "as quickly as possible." While this bug appeared to be exclusive to Instagram's Android app, Wong told Engadget that the iOS counterpart was also loading very slowly for her, indicating a backend issue.

At present, users who are able to open the app have noted limited functionality, including an inability to access Reels or DMs. We'll be monitoring the situation as service gradually resumes, and will update if Meta provides additional details on what went wrong.

Update 9/22/22 2:29PM EDT: Meta says Instagram is back to normal as of 2:25PM EDT, though it stopped short at sharing what went wrong. We will share more if we hear back.

DJI’s Osmo Mobile 6 gimbal offers improved tracking and a new ‘Quick Launch’ feature

DJI has launched the Osmo Mobile 6 gimbal, and it comes with a larger clamp than its predecessors to accommodate bigger phones or smaller ones with bulky cases. It has a new handle handle designed to be more comfortable to hold, but it kept the Osmo Mobile 5's built-in extension rod that lets you use it as a selfie stick. The Osmo 6 also features an improved version of DJI's ActiveTrack, which allows stable tracking for longer distances and enables the phone's front camera to track subjects that spin or turn to the side.

Another new feature is Quick Launch for the iPhone. So long as it's an iPhone that's attached to the stabilizer, the Mimo app instantly enters camera view when the gimbal is unfolded. DJI says it could dramatically reduce prep times and can get the phone ready to take photos three times faster than previous Osmo Mobile models can. 

DJI
DJI

The new gimbal has a built-in status panel that lets you quickly check battery levels, as well as a Mode button that gives you a way to cycle between modes with every tap. When in Follow mode, the camera view stays locked in during rolls but follows the gimbal's pan and tilt movements. Tilt Lock enables the camera view to follow the gimbal's pan movements but stays stable during tit and rolls. The camera view follows all the gimbal's movements in FPV mode for a more dynamic footage, while SpinShot lets you control the camera view by moving the joystick left or right. 

Just like its predecessor, the Osmo Mobile 6 also has a number of intelligent features, namely timelapse, gesture control, automatic dynamic zoom, panorama and story mode. Finally, the gimbal comes with a Side Wheel that lets you control and adjust the focal length and zoom in or out. The DJI Osmo Mobile 6 will be available starting today from the company's online store for €169/£145 (US$166) and will make its way to more retailers in the future. It will ship with a magnetic clamp, tripod, power cable, wrist strap and storage pouch.