New, optional Home Screen redesign tool discovered in second iOS 16.2 beta

Evidence found within the second iOS 16.2 beta points to Apple working on further streamlining the user interface (UI) on iPhones and iPads via a new mode.

Called Custom Accessibility Mode, it was first discovered by 9to5 Mac. The second iOS 16.2 beta is currently available for download through the Apple Developer Program, but you can’t use the new mode at this time as it’s unavailable to users. This could mean the feature is far away from release or it’s something Apple is merely trying out. Either way, it’s a sign the company remains committed to working on accessibility features for its user base.

Simplified UI

The purpose of Custom Accessibility Mode, according to the report, is to make the iPhones and iPads more “user-friendly” for people who find their interfaces too complex. The mode could allow people to change the layout of the UI to either a Grid or List-style formation. Text and app icons can be made much larger on the Home Screen, plus it appears you can enable quick access to certain SOS features, like the Emergency Services Button. 

A password can be set up to stop other people who use the same device from changing the settings, according to 9to5 Mac. And tapping the side or Home button three times can enable and disable Custom Accessibility Mode.

Looking at the images of the mode in action, it drastically simplifies the design of apps and the Home Screen to focus on making things large. The lock screen turns into one big button with “Hold Down to Enter” in the center. Apps have massive icons that take up most of the screen and the bottom dock is gone. 

The official release notes don't detail the other features, only focusing on the fixes in the beta. For a preview of the other features, you have to go to Twitter where people are leaking them. A new Health widget will remind users to take their medication. New animations in the Music app resize the song image to indicate if it’s playing or paused.

In a recent Power On newsletter, Apple insider Mark Gurman said to expect the official release of iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 sometime in mid-December. There, users can their hands on the long-awaited Freeform app as well as the next rendition of Stage Manager. Gurman also hints at the release date of iOS 16.3 being within the first quarter of 2023. 

Accessibility is key

As mentioned earlier, Apple has been working on iPhone accessibility features for a while now. May 2021 saw the introduction of SignTime, a service allowing the hearing impaired to communicate using sign language through a web browser, and new background sounds for neurodiverse users. And earlier this year, we saw the first appearance of Door Detection to help low-vision users locate the entrance of a building.

But there’s one feature we’re eagerly waiting for: Emergency SOS via Satellite, a tool to get people in contact with emergency services if outside of cellular and Wi-Fi range. A recent Apple Support post indicates Emergency SOS is launching very soon. Be sure to read our coverage to learn more

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Home Widget brings a feature that I hoped would come in iOS 16

During the first few months of the pandemic in 2020 when the UK was in lockdown, I decided to finally follow through with some plans for the house to help make some appliances easier to manage.

The first easy win in this was smart lights. Over a weekend, I replaced every light that we used across the house with a smart one that would be available to manage over Apple's Home app, or Amazon's Alexa as a way to command the lights in the living room.

But while Apple's Home app, in which you can manage all of your lights and other smart home appliances, was easy enough to use, it's never had widgets, which has always baffled me.

Widgets first arrived in iOS 14 back in 2020, but it's taken an innovative app called Home Widget to lessen my annoyance with the lack of a Home one. Now, I've got a bunch of widgets on my home screen for my lights, without opening a single app.

Let there be (smart) light

Home Widget app in iOS

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Available for free, alongside an in-app purchase of $ 8.99 / £8.99 / AU$ 10.99 to let you create an unlimited amount of widgets, the app will monitor every smart appliance that's connected to your iPhone, and these will show in the app.

After this, you can create different panels for the lights or other appliances in your home, alongside choosing the colors, icons, and more.

Once you're done, you can place them on your iPhone or iPad home screen. Pressing one of these will either switch on or off what you've selected, without having to go into an app like Apple's Home.

Yes, this may sound very obvious to those who don't have smart lights in their home that manage them through an iPhone, but after two years of using the Home app, it's always felt off that a tentpole iOS feature that Apple has been showcasing since 2020, is nowhere to be found in its own Home app.

But Home Widget does it well, especially in how easy it is to manage your widgets. There's also a nice touch of the app showing all the widgets you've made on its launch screen, in a Tetris layout.

The app recently updated to 1.2, which brings support for HomeKit cameras, battery sensors, the color of your lights, and more.

Regardless of whether Apple brings widgets to its Home app in the future, perhaps at WWDC 2022, Home Widget is already a favorite and scratches a big itch that I've had for my house for two years.

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The top-rated Wyze home security camera drops to a record-low price at Amazon

Beef up your home security with this fantastic deal that we've just spotted at Amazon. For a limited time, you can get the top-rated Wyze Cam Spotlight on sale for just $ 39.77 (was $ 52.96). That's the lowest price we've ever seen and a fantastic deal for an outdoor smart security camera.

Today's best home security camera deal

Wyze Cam Spotlight: $ 52.96 $ 39.77 at Amazon
Save $ 13.19 –
We’ve just spotted the top-rated Wyze Cam Spotlight on sale for a record-low price of $ 39.77. The weather-resistant outdoor security camera features a spotlight that automatically comes on when motion is detected and includes two-way audio, a siren, and night vision.

The top-rated Wyze Cam is an outdoor security camera that features a spotlight. This automatically comes on when motion is detected and sends alerts to your phone through the compatible app. The weather-resistant camera includes two-way audio so you can hear and speak with visitors, and works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for hands-free control. You're also getting night vision and a siren button that you can use to scare off unwanted guests.

The Wyze Cam is rarely discounted, and we don't know how long Amazon will have the home security camera at this price, so we'd snap up this deal now before it's too late.

More security camera deals

You can find more home security sales with the best cheap home security camera deals that are currently available.

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The best Father’s Day sales 2020: deals from Home Depot, Best Buy, Lowe’s, more

Father's Day is this coming Sunday, which means you have less than a week to score a last-minute gift for dad. To help you find the perfect present (and save money), we've found the best Father's Day sales from retailers like Home Depot, Lowe's, and Best Buy. You'll find record-low prices on everything from grills, lawnmowers, and appliances to TVs, headphones, and smart home devices.

To help you sort through all the offers and promotions, we've rounded up the best Father's Day sales that are happening right now. Our top picks include up to $ 100 off grills at Home Depot, deals on tools, lawnmowers, and appliances at Lowe's, and discounts on TVs, laptops, and smart home devices at Best Buy.

We've also included standout deals for dad like a $ 100 price cut on the Apple Watch 5, the best-selling Fire TV Stick on sale for just $ 29.99, the all-new AirPods Pro down to a record-low price of $ 219.99 and the Amazon Fire tablet discounted down to $ 39.99.

Make sure to bookmark this page as we'll be continuously updating it with all the best Father's Day deals leading up to dad's big day. You can also see our roundup of Father's Day Gift ideas, which include the 10 best gifts for tech-savvy dads.

The best Father's Day sales 2020:

  • Amazon– save on a large selection of gifts for dad
  • Adidas – 30% off select shoes
  • Allswell – take 20% off bedding with code DADS20
  • Apple save on the new iPhone with select trade-in
  • Best Buy – save hundreds on great tech deals
  • Casper – $ 25 off $ 100+ or 10% off mattress orders with code FORDAD
  • Dell – Father's Day tech deals on a range of laptops, TVs, and more
  • Dick's Sporting Goods – deals on clothing, shoes, and more
  • Home Depot – save on tools, grills, outdoor furniture, and more
  • HP – deals on a whole range of laptops, desktops, and printers.
  • Lenovo – up to 62% off on select laptops, tablets, and more. 
  • Levi's – 20% off + free shipping on your first order
  • Lowe's – save on tools, appliances, and more
  • Microsoft – deals on gaming consoles, laptops, and tablets
  • Nordstrom – shop a large selection of Father's Day gifts
  • Overstock – save on watches, clothing, electronics, and more
  • REI – save on clothing, shoes, camping equipment, and more 
  • Target – save on a wide selection of gift ideas for dad
  • Walmart – gifts for dad at every price point

Our best Father's Day sale picks:

Shop more deals with our roundup of the best 4th of July sales happening now and see our Father's Day gift ideas: the 10 best gifts for tech-savvy dads.

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How to design a secure home office

Remote working has gone mainstream with large parts of the world, including the UK, now telecommuting. The data bears this out – for example, Microsoft saw users on their collaboration platform Teams generate 2.7 billion minutes of online meetings worldwide in a single day in early April, a new record and just under five times the amount generated just four weeks earlier.

While it is incredibly important to stay connected and keep physically distant, there are serious privacy risks that need to be addressed. Working from home can increase the risk of unauthorized data transfers and sharing. The privacy of users can also suffer if suddenly many new unfamiliar tools have to be used to get the job done. This is compounded by the fact that home networks are rarely as well secured as corporate headquarters. 

As an organisation, Mozilla has been focusing on the aspects of security and privacy in the home office for quite some time. Even before the crisis, half of all Mozilla employees (and 69% in the UK) were working permanently from home. Employers need to help their employees establish a secure home office environment to mitigate risks for both the individuals as well as the company. 

When it comes to security, there are three core areas that should all be given equal attention in designing a home office – IT security, data security and connection security.

IT Security

Large and small companies alike often prohibit the use of private hardware for work, be it a computer or just a USB stick. In the home office, however, people can quickly stop adhering to these strict rules. Private computers and devices are also more at risk as they are unlikely to have the same level of security measures in place as work devices. The latter tend to be supervised by an IT professional who has the right expertise to identify good antivirus software and firewall systems and ensure regular updates.

Therefore, it’s best to only use the devices provided by employers that have been secured in advance by the company’s IT department with common protection software. Business devices need to be protected in the home office – this means not using private USB sticks coupled with other private devices (via Bluetooth, for example) or private surfing on dubious websites during lunch breaks.

It’s wise to be especially careful when checking private emails at this time as well. Criminals are increasingly phishing and trying to spread malware in inboxes, both work and personal. This also highlights the importance of making sure your working device is up to date to protect against vulnerabilities – the browser and any other pre-installed software should always be kept up to date to do so.

Making sure you are password savvy is also important. Weak passwords can be more easily guessed or cracked through brute force attacks on networks, and if work passwords are the same or similar to the ones used privately, that could prove catastrophic for your place of work.

As such, when setting up work accounts, it is highly recommended to use strong, work-context only passwords that are different from those used for private browsing and personal online life. Some of our specific tips on this can be found here.

Data security

Given many of us will be accessing company resources from home at this time, one of the primary considerations for data security is the location of where data is stored. Especially as it’s expected that companies have access to their employees’ data at all times.

A strict separation of work and private computing devices, from laptops to smartphones and beyond, is therefore highly recommended. If it’s not possible, then data should be stored separately at the very least. Many companies already rely on secure cloud storage solutions such as Dropbox, Box, Onedrive or iCloud. For those, users must consistently observe the company's internal regulations, especially if they use a private device. Businesses should be encouraging users to take care when storing documents, and in particular not to store them on their private devices.

This also applies when transferring data to third parties, for example clients or service providers. Failure to use secure platforms such as professional email accounts, WeTransfer or Firefox Send can risk your data leaking into the wild and jeopardizing business continuity.

Connection security

Since working remotely means that people often have to exchange even more data with their colleagues than before, the way that data gets transferred is extremely important. Many companies use a business VPN, a virtual network, for access to the internal company network, which stores all documents and programs. This is particularly well-protected against the interception of data – which is critical when working from home.

At home, people usually access the internet via their private home Wi-Fi. In most cases, this is not very well protected against attacks. While free networks (in cafés, train stations, etc.) are known for being very vulnerable to attacks if not secured by a VPN, the home Wi-Fi is also a weak point. Most people use their routers after purchase by plug & play, with the standard provided password and a weak Wi-Fi key. This isn’t ideal for private usage, but definitely insufficient for professional work.

A secure connection strategy for a home office is multi-pronged. In terms of your home network, it’s recommended to use at least WPA2 encryption for your WI-FI router, or WPA3 if you have access to it on your device. Making sure all related software and firmwares are up to date is also useful here. As is making sure you only access company data via a VPN and avoiding the use of public Wi-Fi networks unless a VPN is used.

Designing a secure home office, above all, is about consciously de-risking as many potential privacy and security factors as possible. Whilst not an exhaustive list, focusing on the above three areas will help employees and employers alike to have greater peace of mind and focus on the things that are business critical during this challenging time.

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