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Technology US

BMW’s Digital Key Plus will let iPhones unlock the iX from a pocket or bag

BMW has announced an upgraded version of its mobile car key technology dubbed Digital Key Plus. It promises to allow iPhone owners to unlock select BMW cars without having to take out their phones. The feature relies on ultra wideband (UWB) which has been included in Apple’s flagship iPhones since the iPhone 11 thanks to the U1 chip. Digital Key Plus will debut on the all-electric BMW iX which launches later this year in Europe and next year in the US.

The big benefit of Digital Key Plus, according to BMW, is that it uses UWB so it works with an iPhone that’s still in your pocket or bag. In contrast, the current Digital Key system used by Apple and BMW is NFC based, so you have to hold an iPhone (or Apple Watch) near the car’s tag to unlock it. BMW also emphasizes the security of its new UWB approach, noting that it’s resistant to relay attacks that might try and jam or intercept its signal and offers “the greatest possible security.”

At present, only a limited number of iPhones include the U1 chip that offers UWB support. It debuted in the iPhone 11 and was later included in the iPhone 12, but was missing from the budget iPhone SE 2020 that released early last year. The U1 chip was also included on the Apple Watch Series 6, released last year.

Apple built support for digital car keys into iOS with version 13.6 last year, following its announcement at WWDC 2020. MacRumors notes that BMW is currently the only car manufacturer to use the technology, though Business Korea reports that Hyundai has plans to adopt the feature later this year.

There’s a push to make UWB a standard for digital keys. When it announced support for digital car keys in June last year, Apple said it was working on an industry-wide standard that would use its U1 chip. In today’s announcement, BMW says it’s working with Apple and the Car Connectivity Consortium to build UWB support into version 3.0 of the Digital Key specification.

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Instagram

How to Unlock Hidden Instagram DM Effects


Did you know you can now use cool new special effects for your Instagram DMs? With a recent software update, Facebook has merged Messenger with Instagram DMs, and since then the latter has received some cool new features such as the ability to set up a custom chat colour, vanish mode, custom emoji reactions etc. In this article, we’ll be telling you about one of these new features that came with the merger.

Instagram DM: Add special effects to messages

You can now add special effects in Instagram DMs, whenever you reply to someone or you send someone a new message. Follow these steps.

  1. First up, make sure that you have got the latest version of Instagram installed on your phone.
  2. Open any chat on Instagram and type a message.
  3. Tap the magnifier on the left, next to the text entry field.
  4. You’ll now see four new effects to choose from.
  5. Tap and choose the one you like and that’s it.
  6. Doing this will send a message along with the special effect.

Apart from this, you can also save messages to use as quick replies. To do that, follow these steps.

  1. To save a sent message, long-press on it and tap Save.
  2. You’ll be asked to assign a shortcut, enter it and hit Save.
  3. To save a received message, long-press on it > tap More > tap Save. Assign a shortcut command to it, and that’s all.
  4. Now whenever you want to send a quick reply, simply use the shortcut instead of typing the complete phrase.

This is how you can make the most out of Instagram DM’s by adding cool special effects and saving quick replies.

For more tutorials, visit our How to section.


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Technology US

1Password updated for Big Sur with Apple Watch unlock support


1Password, one of the most popular password management services, has been updated for macOS Big Sur today, adding several new features that take advantage of the new capabilities of the operating system.

Chief among those is the option to use your Apple Watch to unlock 1Password: if enabled, you’ll get a pop-up on your watch when you open the app, which you can then unlock by double clicking the side button on the smartwatch. The Apple Watch feature doesn’t interfere with the usual Touch ID option for Macs that offer it — customers will be able to use either method to unlock their passwords. (That said, Touch ID will still be considered the “default” method.)

The new update for 1Password also increases its integration into Safari on Big Sur, allowing the service to automatically fill in your passwords directly from text fields on websites.

Lastly, the newly updated app features some light design changes that make it a bit easier to use (as well as a new, Big Sur-style icon).

While 1Password has been updated for Big Sur, it’s important to clarify that it hasn’t been updated with a new, Arm-based version of the app for Apple’s latest M1 chip Macs. The app will run on those Macs through Apple’s Rosetta 2 translation software, and AgileBits tells MacRumors that it hopes to have more information regarding M1 support in the future.



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Tech News

Your iPhone Could Have This Amazing Feature. Here’s How to Unlock It


Did you know your iPhone has a cool hidden feature that lets you trigger certain actions whenever you tap the rear panel of your phone? For instance, you can now take a screenshot by double tapping or open the camera by triple tapping the rear panel of your iPhone. With the new back tap feature in iOS 14, the entire rear panel of your iPhone basically transforms into a big touch-sensitive button, letting you interact with your phone like never before.

Apart from the available actions present in the Back Tap menu, the feature also integrates well with Apple’s Shortcuts app. This further makes it possible to assign almost any action that’s available as a shortcut on the internet. In this guide, we tell you how to use the new Back Tap feature in iOS 14.

iOS 14: How to enable and use back tap feature

Do note that this feature only works on iPhone 8 and newer models running iOS 14. Additionally, this feature is not available on the iPad. With that being said, follow these steps to enable back tap on your iPhone.

  1. On your iPhone, go to Settings.
  2. Scroll down a bit and go to Accessibility.
  3. On the next screen, under Physical and Motor, tap Touch.
  4. Scroll to the end and go to Back Tap.
  5. You’ll now see two options — Double Tap and Triple Tap.
  6. You can assign any action that’s available in the list. For example, you can set the Double Tap action to take a quick screenshot, while the Triple Tap action can be assigned to quickly access the Control Centre.
  7. After you’ve assigned the actions, exit settings. You can now start using back tap on your iPhone.

iOS 14: Back tap integration with Shortcuts

Back tap also integrates well with the Shortcuts app. This means, besides having the actions that are already present in the back tap menu, you can also assign custom shortcuts if you want to. For instance, if you have a shortcut that lets you run the Instagram story camera from the Shortcuts app, you can now assign it to a simple double- or triple-tap.

All you need to do here is to make sure to download Apple’s Shortcuts app on your iPhone. Once the app is installed on your phone, visit RoutineHub to get a plethora of custom shortcuts. To download a shortcut and assign it to back tap on your iPhone, follow these steps.

  1. Go to RoutineHub on your iPhone.
  2. Find the shortcut that you’d like to download and open it.
  3. Hit Get Shortcut to download it on your iPhone.
  4. Doing this will redirect you to the Shortcuts app. Scroll down to the bottom and tap Add Untrusted Shortcut.
  5. Exit the Shortcuts app once your new shortcut is added.
  6. Go to iPhone’s Settings and repeat the earlier steps to assign this new shortcut as a double tap or a triple tap action.

This is how you can enable and use the new back tap feature in iOS 14. Let us know in the comments what you plan to do with this nifty new feature.

For more tutorials, visit our How to section.


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Bollywood

In the reset mode: green-lighting theatres’ reopening in Maharashtra is ‘a lifeline of sorts’


Finally, the Maharashtra government has given the green-light to open cinema halls in the state, from Thursday onwards, with a maximum of 50 per cent occupancy. And that news has come as “the lifeline of sorts” for the film exhibition sector. After all, the Mumbai circuit alone contributes 40-45 per cent of a film’s total box office earnings.

“That’s why, it wasn’t surprising that no maker was ready to release their films in theatres earlier, for other circuits,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh, adding: “It’s a great relief. We have pressed the reset button, so now, the fingers are crossed. But it was imperative that cinemas in Maharashtra open at the earliest, for the entire movie exhibition business.”

Although no Bollywood film is up for an immediate outing even as theatre owners “start to chalk out reopening plans”, Diwali is likely to see the release Manoj Bajpayee-Diljit Dosanjh starrer Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari, and possibly a couple of smaller films besides some Hollywood fare.

“Undoubtedly, theatres reopening is great news. But it remains to be seen how things work out on the ground. Would people turn up at theatres? And in what numbers? Also, a number of people, especially those who watch Bollywood films, must have spent their savings during the lockdown just to survive, so will they have enough spare money to go for entertainment?” says director-writer Anees Bazmee.

With most of the potential money-spinners having already been sold to OTT platforms, experts see a number of small and mid-budget films taking up theatre space till the end of year, “unless there’s is a surprising development.” After Sooryavanshi (that was supposed to open on Diwali earlier), now, Reliance Entertainment has decided to move Kabir Khan’s Christmas outing, ‘83 to 2021 due to lack of time for marketing purposes and theatres in certain overseas markets getting reshut due to Covid-19.

At this point, the biggest challenge for exhibitors are going to be “streamlining content.” “We are happy about business getting restarted but sorting out programming is going to be a major challenge. But we hope that things are going to be a lot better by December,” says exhibitor-distribitor Akshaye Rathi. Adarsh, on his part, feels “pre-Covid days’ release pattern” will be back now. He says: “Except those films that are already committed to OTT platforms, now, it will be like pre-Covid days when films would be released in theatres first and then on other platforms.”

What gives industry insiders confidence is the fact that “the fear of the virus is ebbing.” As Bazmee puts it: “Also, since people are out on the roads, restaurants, malls and markets in numbers, we can hope and expect that they would visit theatres too. After all, so many people’s livelihoods and jobs are at stake. So, let’s see.”



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Bollywood

Theatre Vs OTT: The ‘right-s’ step in the unlock mode!


Last month, theatres finally got a green-light to reopen with 50 per cent capacity. And ever since, talks have been rife about the non-availability of fresh content, especially toplined by big names, to help revive the exhibition sector. Surely, one of the reasons is the fact that most of the new, ready films have already been acquired by OTT [over-the-top] players.

Technical issue

Now, as Akshay Kumar-Kiara Advani starrer Laxmii readies for the digital premiere, the ‘content talk’ has reared its head again with trade analyst-critic, Komal Nahta writing an open letter to the star while making an appeal to have his film simultaneously release in single-screen cinemas [top multiplex chains have already decided to not screen those films that don’t premiere only in cinemas] as well as on the OTT platform.

So, the big questions are: is it possible, and feasible for an OTT player to allow such simultaneous releases, after having paid a premium price for exclusivity? And how much an actor or producer can help in salvaging the situation?

“In spirit, and on an emotional level, what Mr Nahta has written is absolutely right. But technically, it’s not possible. As an exhibitor, I know a film like Laxmii can change the entire scene for us but as a producer, I know that once a deal has been signed, no one can do anything about it,” says film exhibitor-distributor and producer, Aditya Chowksey, adding: “I have had the experience of dealing with an OTT player vis-à-vis my film, Khuda Haafiz. So, I know that once you sign a legal agreement with them, no actor, producer or director can interfere. Then, it’s totally their prerogative.”

Not enough money

Not just Laxmii, the coming days will see a number of star-spangled films such as Coolie No. 1, Ludo, Bhuj: The Pride of India, Chhalaang, Torbaaz, AK Vs AK, Durgavati, Jhund and The Big Bull among others, releasing on OTT platforms. Business-wise, simultaneous release on single-screens “won’t make any sense” to streaming sites, say experts.

“I am all for the welfare of single-screen cinemas, but theatres still remain shut in many states, including Maharashtra, which is the biggest market. Only a few single-screen cinemas [across India] are available [to release a film], and they can only be filled to a 50 per cent capacity. So, I am sure the OTT players realise that having a simultaneous release won’t fetch them a lot of money,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh, adding: “Also, it doesn’t really matter what we say, or feel about it. Ultimately, only the OTT players can take a final call as it’s their acquisition and product now.”

Big [screen] love

At the same time, many believe that a top name such as Kumar can turn things around. “There’s no doubt that the ball is in the OTT platform’s court as technically-speaking, they have the rights. But having said that, India is a country where a big star’s voice is always heard. So, that way, he may initiate a conversation about it, and have his say,” says exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi.

For Laxmii producer, Tusshar Kapoor (he has produced the film along with Kumar and Shabinaa Khan), it’s all about how the OTT platform decides to go about it. “Once the deal is done, being the distributor, Fox Star/Disney+ Hotstar has to take a call. Let’s see what they decide to do. They have to talk to the (film) distributors. As far as I know, there are no such plans as of now,” he says.

At the end, Chowksey puts things in perspective, by saying: “I am sure any actor would love to have his/her film screened on the big screen as, after all, that’s what made them stars in the first place. But you can’t beat technicalities, or break terms of legal agreements.”



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Bollywood

Shreyas Talpade: Even post Unlock, we should have a janta curfew every 15 days


The world is in the Unlock mode with life coming back to normalcy even in the pandemic but actor Shreyas Talpade feels that the lockdown concept is something which should be carried forward even now, at least occasionally.

“I genuinely feel that every 15 days we should have one janta curfew. Every month two days should be a complete lockdown. We should just shut off and do something beyond routine. It will give everyone a chance to take a step back and slow down. Life does not stop, it goes on, we have learnt that,” he says.

Talpade agrees that life, for everyone, has changed- there have been financial losses, loss of lives, but he still believes that it has “changed for better.” 

“Materialistically, we have lost out on certain things but if you ask most people they would say that it is okay. These are losses that you can make up. Yes, we have lost certain friends, colleagues, legends and relatives. But it has also been a learning for us that there is no point holding these egos and grudges and we need to just let go,” he shares.

The actor, who got ample time to spend with his wife and kid in the past few months, hopes that not just for him, but for many this period of crisis has been one that has made people value each other more than ever before.

“It is more about getting more compassionate about each other. We were losing out that big time. Everyone is very self centered and apna apna soch ke apna kar rahe the. Pandemic suddenly in a way ankhey khlone wala experience tha. Yes, it may be more of a virtual world now but today there is a better connect. We have started valuing certain things more, especially relationships,” he concludes.



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Bollywood

Taapsee Pannu on resuming work amid pandemic: We can’t be so paranoid that it starts to hamper our work


After almost three months of complete shutdown, the entertainment industry crawled back on its feet from June with several TV and film productions resuming shoot. Taapsee Pannu also got back on a set last month after five and half months of being at home, and the actor says while there’s a constant fear, this is the best way forward.

“When we decided to come on set and started shooting, we had all convinced our minds that there needs to be a start somewhere , you have to. It’s a virus, not a dinosaur that you can keep out by closing the doors. And WHO says it’s not going to go out of our lives for two years, so are we going to just not work for two years?” asks Pannu. 

The actor, who wrapped up the shooting of her Tamil film in the outskirts of Jaipur, believes that sitting at home and over thinking about the situation isn’t a solution to all the questions one has about the pandemic.

“All we can do is be careful about our habits and sanitization and all. We can’t be so paranoid that it starts to hamper our work. We’ve to come out and face it,” the 33-year-old adds.

Does the looming fear of contracting the virus and the restrictions on the set hamper the creative and free flowing process of acting? Pannu replies, “As actors, we already have to keep aside so many things that are happening in our lives — our personal matters — when we step into a character in front of a camera. This probably will be just another thing that we have to keep aside before we start acting in front of the camera.”

Talking about her experience of shooting during the pandemic, she shares that it was rather smooth. “We were shooting in a secluded location. The unit had taken over the entire space and there was very limited crew. The place was also only accessible to the crew. It was a controlled script, film and environment so it went well,” adds the Thappad actor.

While it’s one down and three more to go for Pannu, she’s looking to get her schedule back on track in order to have finished projects ready for release.

“I’m hoping in the coming months we can shoot on regular locations as well. I’ve planned my schedule and I need to finish Haseen Dillruba this month and then move on to Rashmi Rocket, followed by Loot Lapeta,” she concludes.



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Bollywood

Remo D’Souza on theatres reopening: The magic of big screen will never go away


Director-choreographer Remo D’Souza is happy that theatres are finally reopening after so many months of nationwide shutdown. Among the main markets, Mumbai has deferred it till October 31, while Delhi theatres will reopen from October 15 with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place.

He says, “It’s been shut for seven-eight months now, and it’s a great situation. But the occupancy is 50 percent, and the middle seats have to be empty, so I don’t know if makers would be willing to release their films. If I had to release a film, I’d have said let’s wait for some more time. If you don’t know if people are going to come or not, it’s better to wait.”

But what about theatre owners until recently asking makers to wait and not release their films directly on OTT platforms, which has become their competition? 

The 46-year-old explains, “I don’t think theatres are going to die or get killed, they are something that is going to stay forever. OTT platforms in a way are better for films which are ready for release. In a way, it is better for filmmaker, they can experiment.”

The big screen magic is something D’Souza he feels one can’t get that into your TV, especially celebration films. Also, the star system isn’t something that will go for a toss according to him.

“They have to have a theatrical release. The audience also feels it’s better to go and watch in a theatre. Films like Akshay Kumar’s Laxmmi Bomb and Ajay Devgn’s Bhuj: The Pride of India, if the producer and actors agree, they will also get a large audience. So if the actors agree, there’s no problem actually,” says the director, who has helmed films such as Race 3 and Any Body Can Dance 2 (ABCD 2).

D’souza recently went to Goa to shoot a song. When asked about the entire experience, he tells us, “I’m a workaholic, and need to work., but because of Covid, I got four months of holiday. I got to spend time with my family, so in a way it was good. There were limited crew member, half of them wearing those PPE kits, but this is the new normal, and we have to lvie with it. We have to take care of ourselves till the vaccine comes out.”

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Tech News

Using Bioacoutics to Unlock the Ecological Information in Soundscapes


If you have ever gone bird watching under a dense canopy, you’ve probably strained your ears more than your eyes to find a specific bird. Several species are cryptic and rarely seen or caught on camera, and the best way to find them is by their calls or songs. But, relying on calls and songs in a natural environment is more than just assessing the presence of a species. The most melodious songs and noisy cackles of birds, the stridulations of the insects, and even the swoosh of wind hold valuable ecological information. This valuable ecological information can be accessed by lending an ear to entire ecosystems.

Bioacoustics, or the sounds of nature, in their entirety, make up a ‘soundscape’. There are several thousands of species which vocalise for different reasons, such as to look for a mate or to warn other competitors vying for resources. All of these species, calling and singing to different tunes, together, contribute to the soundscape. An emerging field with the aim of unlocking this ecological information in soundscapes, soundscape ecology is the study of a group of vocalising species to understand the relationship between the species and to their habitat. So, how does one tune into nature to understand the relation between species and their habitat?

Two types of recorders I use to collect my data. The first and larger one is a SWIFT recorder by the Cornell Lab of Bioacoustics and the second, smaller recorder is by AudioMoth.
Photo Credit: Sarika Khanwilkar

As part of my doctoral research, I study the impact of forest restoration on birds and insects in and around Kanha National Park by studying their vocalisations. I compare certain ecological indicators of vocalising fauna across a range of study sites. These sites include species diverse forests, forests that are currently being resorted to unrestored forests and vast patches of Lantana camara, an invasive but ubiquitous shrub in India associated with forest degradation. I study not only the differences in the community of species across these sites, but also the possible difference in their vocalising behaviour as a group.

This research is timely for several reasons. First, large charismatic carnivores, especially big cats, receive the bulk of the attention and conservation efforts. For example, in recent times, insects have experienced sharp declines around the world but with fairly insufficient attention from the research and conservation community. Second, forest degradation is cryptic unlike deforestation, and understanding what a slow change in a forest does to species is necessary to design and enhance conservation programs. Lastly, the use of remote sensing technology for research in today’s world is critical. Bioacoustics provides a means to broadly and rapidly study an ecosystem. The technology often is a first pass at monitoring an ecosystem, to be followed by more human- intensive surveys and research efforts where necessary.

In order to capture these vocalisations to study them, I climb up trees, and sometimes creep up to the ends of branches to attach my acoustic recorders. These sturdy recorders, braving wind and rain, and the often brutal attacks by curious palm squirrels and garden lizards, capture all vocalising species that call and sing between 0 to 24,000 hertz. As always, using technology in harsh conditions outdoors with limited resources requires one to be creative to protect and maintain equipment. I use a wooden covering for the recorder, an idea that a collaborator’s brother, Arjun Ramesh, came up with in the early days of my research. While the AudioMoth recorders are more delicate than the SWIFT recorders as they lack an outer metal or plastic case, they have been easier to work with given their weight and compact size. Moreover, a zip-lock bag suffices in protecting the AudioMoth recorders from harsh weather conditions.

7 Pooja Choksi 4 Project Dhvani

Tying a recorder to a tree and using a protective wooden covering.
Photo Credit: Sarika Khanwilkar

Remote sensing technologies such as the acoustic recorders I use allow for scientists to passively collect data with minimal human disturbance in a habitat. It is akin to having a peep hole through which one can observe, or in my case listen to, species without letting our presence interfere with their behaviour. Leaving the recorders out for seven days at a time, letting it record continuously through that period, a surprise always awaits when I finally retrieve the recorders. I once chanced upon the alarm calls of a group of hanuman langurs and barking deers because of the drama unfolding around them. At some sites, I hear a village at a distance waking up while the birds, like clockwork, begin their dawn chorus. The acoustic data is a source of joy as much as it is a scientific endeavour. I often find myself imagining and trying to piece together the events taking place at the time the acoustic data was collected.

7 Pooja collage Project Dhvani

Spectrograms of a restored (L) and unrestored (R) forest at the edge of Kanha National Park.
Photo Credit: Pooja Choksi

The data I collect is, ironically, analysed using a visual aid — a spectrogram. The spectrogram visualises every species vocalising within the acoustic radius of the recorder. A limited range of frequencies is audible to humans. So, a spectrogram allows us to visualise the vocalisations of all species, even those at extremely high and low frequencies, often inaudible to us. The spectrogram also acts as an image to be analysed using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The biggest advantage of using remote sensing technologies for research is the ability to gather vast amounts of data. However, to sift through terabytes of acoustic data I collect, AI is proving to be the most efficient way forward. After manually analysing a small proportion of my data, I am able to train AI to look for the presence of a particular species or a particular type of call in the data. Such AI abilities and methods provide the tools to undertake large-scale research necessary to understand patterns, if any, in the broader impact of humans on nature and wildlife. As novel technologies continue to be developed, the future of research and conservation looks exciting and full of potential to uncover another dimension of an ecosystem and address pressing challenges in the field.


Pooja Choksi is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University in New York and co-founder of Project Dhvani, a long term acoustic monitoring project in India. She studies the impact of forest regeneration and restoration on fauna in central India.

This series is an initiative by the Nature Conservation Foundation, under their programme Nature Communication to encourage nature content in all Indian languages. If you’re interested in writing on nature and birds, please fill up this form.


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