Apple’s digital student IDs are coming to Canada and more US schools

With the start of a new school year quickly approaching, Apple is once again expanding the availability of its contactless student IDs. Following an initial rollout in 2018 and subsequent expansions since, the software is making its way to Canada for the first time.

In 2021, the University of New Brunswick and Sheridan College outside of Toronto will allow students to add their ID cards to Apple Wallet and use their iPhones and Apple Watches to access facilities and pay for food and other items and services across campus. In the US, “many more” schools, including Auburn University, Northern Arizona University, University of Maine and New Mexico State University, will adopt the software this fall.

It will likely take many more years before every school offers digital student ID cards, but the technology is clearly becoming more ubiquitous. In April, Apple said it saw more students use their mobile IDs to make purchases and access campus facilities than their plastic counterparts for the first time since it launched the software. In the fall, the University of Alabama, one of the early adopters of the tech, will exclusively issue mobile IDs to students with the necessary hardware, marking a first for the platform.

Apple’s digital student IDs are coming to Canada and more US schools

With the start of a new school year quickly approaching, Apple is once again expanding the availability of its contactless student IDs. Following an initial rollout in 2018 and subsequent expansions since, the software is making its way to Canada for the first time.

In 2021, the University of New Brunswick and Sheridan College outside of Toronto will allow students to add their ID cards to Apple Wallet and use their iPhones and Apple Watches to access facilities and pay for food and other items and services across campus. In the US, “many more” schools, including Auburn University, Northern Arizona University, University of Maine and New Mexico State University, will adopt the software this fall.

It will likely take many more years before every school offers digital student ID cards, but the technology is clearly becoming more ubiquitous. In April, Apple said it saw more students use their mobile IDs to make purchases and access campus facilities than their plastic counterparts for the first time since it launched the software. In the fall, the University of Alabama, one of the early adopters of the tech, will exclusively issue mobile IDs to students with the necessary hardware, marking a first for the platform.

Google Maps for iOS gets dark mode and new location sharing features

In the past year, Google Maps has received tons of new features to help you get around, pay for parking and keep abreast of new services in your vicinity. With its latest iOS update, Google is breaking out more of its most-used functions to help you access them faster. It's also adding a dark mode to lower the strain on your eyes and a new live location option for iMessage that can help you track friends and loved ones. 

The latter lets you share your real-time location while texting by tapping the Google Maps button. Though the feature is active for one hour by default, you can choose to extend it to up to three days or disable it by pressing the stop button. Live location recalls the safety features built into ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft.

If you frequently use Google Maps to check traffic conditions, you can now put that info directly on your home screen with a new widget. The same goes for the search bar, which lets you look up places to visit or find frequent destinations with a tap. Of course, the quick access features are made possible thanks to Apple's introduction of iPhone widgets with iOS 14 last fall.

Dark mode is self-explanatory and you can turn it on via settings. It's just odd that it took so long for the otherwise ubiquitous feature to reach Maps on iOS.

Chrome OS update adds a dedicated Google Meet app and eSIM support

Google has rolled out a few updates for Chrome OS meant to make devices running the platform a more effective tool for communicating with friends and workmates. Chrome OS version 92 will make Google Meet a pre-installed Progressive Web App on all Chromebooks and computers running the software, allowing users to get on a video call right from the Launcher. Google says it also made performance improvements for the app, including the ability to adapt video calls to different network conditions and to adjust video performance during screen sharing.  

Since some people's employers or schools may prefer Zoom, Google has also teamed up with the business messaging app to release a version of the app tweaked to work better on Chromebooks. That app is now available on the Google Play Store. Chrome OS now also supports eSIMs, giving users the option to use one if they need cellular connectivity. The feature sounds especially useful for travelers who need to switch between networks while they're overseas. It's obviously only available on eSIM-compatible devices, which aren't that many at the moment, though we're hoping the feature's arrival means more Chromebooks will come with eSIM support in the future. 

The latest Chrome OS also adds a new emoji keyboard shortcut on Chromebooks. By pressing Search or Launcher key + Shift + Space, users can bring up the compact emoji picker where they can see their most recently used emoji. Finally, the Explore app on Chromebooks now includes a digital magazine curated for families, and each edition includes educational apps for kids. 

Square will pay $29 billion to acquire leading ‘buy now, pay later’ company Afterpay

Square has announced that it plans to pay $29 billion in stock for Afterpay, an Australian service that lets you pay for purchases over time with no interest, The Verge has reported. Square, led by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has already purchased a majority stake in Tidal and launched a new Bitcoin business in 2021. 

In a press release, Square called Afterpay "the pioneering global 'buy now, pay later' (BNPL) platform." Afterpay notes that it has over 16 million customers worldwide and services nearly 100,000 resellers across retail markets like "fashion, homewares, beauty, sporting goods and more." 

"The addition of Afterpay to Cash App will strengthen our growing networks of consumers around the world, while supporting consumers with flexible, responsible payment options," said Square's Brian Grassadonia. "Afterpay will help deepen and reinforce the connections between our Cash App and Seller ecosystems, and accelerate our ability to offer a rich suite of commerce capabilities to Cash App customers."

Afterpay, like other increasingly popular BNPL services (including Affirm, Klarna and Uplift), allows customers to pay over time without interest. To make money, they charge retailers a fee (4 to 6 percent), promising to connect them with a desirable demographic and assume all financial risk. In Square's press release, Afterpay also said it can help "drive repeat purchases [and] increase average transaction sizes." 

One of the world's largest retailers, Apple, is reportedly planning to offer its own buy now, pay later type program directly to consumers. Much like PayPal's "Pay in 4" service, "Apple Pay in 4" would allow Apple Wallet users to stretch purchases out to four payments, interest-free. Square's purchase of Afterpay, meanwhile, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022. 

Square will pay $29 billion to acquire leading ‘buy now, pay later’ company Afterpay

Square has announced that it plans to pay $29 billion in stock for Afterpay, an Australian service that lets you pay for purchases over time with no interest, The Verge has reported. Square, led by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has already purchased a majority stake in Tidal and launched a new Bitcoin business in 2021. 

In a press release, Square called Afterpay "the pioneering global 'buy now, pay later' (BNPL) platform." Afterpay notes that it has over 16 million customers worldwide and services nearly 100,000 resellers across retail markets like "fashion, homewares, beauty, sporting goods and more." 

"The addition of Afterpay to Cash App will strengthen our growing networks of consumers around the world, while supporting consumers with flexible, responsible payment options," said Square's Brian Grassadonia. "Afterpay will help deepen and reinforce the connections between our Cash App and Seller ecosystems, and accelerate our ability to offer a rich suite of commerce capabilities to Cash App customers."

Afterpay, like other increasingly popular BNPL services (including Affirm, Klarna and Uplift), allows customers to pay over time without interest. To make money, they charge retailers a fee (4 to 6 percent), promising to connect them with a desirable demographic and assume all financial risk. In Square's press release, Afterpay also said it can help "drive repeat purchases [and] increase average transaction sizes." 

One of the world's largest retailers, Apple, is reportedly planning to offer its own buy now, pay later type program directly to consumers. Much like PayPal's "Pay in 4" service, "Apple Pay in 4" would allow Apple Wallet users to stretch purchases out to four payments, interest-free. Square's purchase of Afterpay, meanwhile, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022. 

Apple pulls anti-vax social app over misinformation (updated)

Mobile app shops are cracking down on one of the higher-profile communities spreading anti-vax misnformation. Bloombergreports that Apple has removed Unjected, a hybrid social and dating app for the unvaccinated, for "inappropriately" referencing the COVID-19 pandemic's concept and themes. While Unjected bills itself as a place to find others who support "medical autonomy and free speech," social posts on the site have included false claims that vaccines modify genes, connect to 5G and serve as "bioweapons."

The app founders are also embroiled in a fight over their Android app. Google told Unjected on July 16th that it had two weeks to remove the misleading posts from its app to avoid a Play Store ban. The developers responded by pulling the social feed. However, co-creator Shelby Thompson said Unjected planned to defy the request by restoring both the feed and the offending posts.

We've asked Apple and Google for comment. Unjected still has a presence on Instagram despite that social network's anti-misinformation stance, although that account mostly promotes its views on "freedom" and only occasionally mentions falsehoods, such as incorrect claims that mRNA vaccines alter DNA. We've asked Facebook for a response as well.

Unjected is small compared to mainstream social networks, with roughly 18,000 app downloads (according to Apptopia). However, the crackdown clearly serves as a warning — Apple and Google won't tolerate apps that knowingly accept and encourage the creation anti-vax content, even if they aren't directly producing that material.

Update 7/31 6:18PM ET: Apple told Engadget that Unjected violated rules demanding reliable COVID-19 information from trustworthy sources, like health agencies and medical institutions. The tech firm further accused Unjected of less-than-honest tactics. The app producer reversed changes made to comply with App Store rules, and encouraged users to help it dodge those rules by avoiding the use of telltale words. Trying to cheat the system is itself grounds for a ban, according to Apple. Don't expect Unjected to come back.

Apple pulls anti-vax social app over misinformation (updated)

Mobile app shops are cracking down on one of the higher-profile communities spreading anti-vax misnformation. Bloombergreports that Apple has removed Unjected, a hybrid social and dating app for the unvaccinated, for "inappropriately" referencing the COVID-19 pandemic's concept and themes. While Unjected bills itself as a place to find others who support "medical autonomy and free speech," social posts on the site have included false claims that vaccines modify genes, connect to 5G and serve as "bioweapons."

The app founders are also embroiled in a fight over their Android app. Google told Unjected on July 16th that it had two weeks to remove the misleading posts from its app to avoid a Play Store ban. The developers responded by pulling the social feed. However, co-creator Shelby Thompson said Unjected planned to defy the request by restoring both the feed and the offending posts.

We've asked Apple and Google for comment. Unjected still has a presence on Instagram despite that social network's anti-misinformation stance, although that account mostly promotes its views on "freedom" and only occasionally mentions falsehoods, such as incorrect claims that mRNA vaccines alter DNA. We've asked Facebook for a response as well.

Unjected is small compared to mainstream social networks, with roughly 18,000 app downloads (according to Apptopia). However, the crackdown clearly serves as a warning — Apple and Google won't tolerate apps that knowingly accept and encourage the creation anti-vax content, even if they aren't directly producing that material.

Update 7/31 6:18PM ET: Apple told Engadget that Unjected violated rules demanding reliable COVID-19 information from trustworthy sources, like health agencies and medical institutions. The tech firm further accused Unjected of less-than-honest tactics. The app producer reversed changes made to comply with App Store rules, and encouraged users to help it dodge those rules by avoiding the use of telltale words. Trying to cheat the system is itself grounds for a ban, according to Apple. Don't expect Unjected to come back.

Telegram’s video calls can now accommodate up to 1,000 viewers

Telegram has expanded the group video calling feature it launched in June to be able to accommodate more participants — a lot more. The latest version of the messaging app now allows up to 1,000 people to join a group video call. While the number of participants that can broadcast video from their camera or their screen remains capped at 30, an additional 970 people can tune in and watch. 

As Telegram said when it first launched the feature, it was always planning on increasing the number of people that can join a group chat as it expands its voice and video calls to support live events. In its new announcement, the company said it'll keep on increasing the limit. In addition, Telegram has updated the video messaging feature so users can watch them at a higher resolution. Users can now also share their screen with sound during 1-on-1 video calls and set their messages to auto-delete after one month instead of within a day or a week like the older options allowed. 

Telegram's updated media editor makes the brush width smaller upon zooming in, allowing users to draw finer details on photos and videos. Other new features include more password reset options and animated emoji. For the Android app, the latest version also includes support for 0.5x, 1.5x and 2x playback speeds, as well as new sending animations. Meanwhile, iOS users will have access to a new in-app camera that can use all their device's zoom levels, as well as the ability to forward messages to multiple recipients. 

Telegram
Telegram

Telegram’s video calls can now accommodate up to 1,000 viewers

Telegram has expanded the group video calling feature it launched in June to be able to accommodate more participants — a lot more. The latest version of the messaging app now allows up to 1,000 people to join a group video call. While the number of participants that can broadcast video from their camera or their screen remains capped at 30, an additional 970 people can tune in and watch. 

As Telegram said when it first launched the feature, it was always planning on increasing the number of people that can join a group chat as it expands its voice and video calls to support live events. In its new announcement, the company said it'll keep on increasing the limit. In addition, Telegram has updated the video messaging feature so users can watch them at a higher resolution. Users can now also share their screen with sound during 1-on-1 video calls and set their messages to auto-delete after one month instead of within a day or a week like the older options allowed. 

Telegram's updated media editor makes the brush width smaller upon zooming in, allowing users to draw finer details on photos and videos. Other new features include more password reset options and animated emoji. For the Android app, the latest version also includes support for 0.5x, 1.5x and 2x playback speeds, as well as new sending animations. Meanwhile, iOS users will have access to a new in-app camera that can use all their device's zoom levels, as well as the ability to forward messages to multiple recipients. 

Telegram
Telegram