Apple’s Vision Pro headset is some months away from launching, but already Apple is apparently working on several new versions to fix problems in the upcoming device. While that’s good news for anyone who decides to wait a little longer before pulling the trigger, it suggests there are still unsolved issues with the $ 3,500 Vision Pro.
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the mixed reality headset has “caused neck strain in testing due to its size and weight,” which currently sits at around one pound. Apple has been planning to add a supportive head strap to alleviate the issue, Gurman says, but a permanent fix is going to require a more substantial change.
And that’s apparently what Apple is working on right now. Gurman’s report claims that: “A key focus for Apple is making its device more comfortable to wear – with a smaller and lighter design.” This upgrade to the headset could be years away from launching, though, considering the first Vision Pro isn’t slated to be released until some point in early 2024.
For now, Gurman says that testing of the first Vision Pro “has shown that it can feel too heavy for some users – even in short stretches.” It’s something we’ve seen reported before, and Apple will surely be hoping that doesn’t prove to be a serious stumbling block when its headset is released next year.
Fixes in the works
A lighter weight is not the only way Apple is reportedly planning to improve future versions of the Vision Pro. Gurman believes that the company is working on “shipping custom-built headsets from the factory with preinstalled prescription lenses.” This could make things easier for Apple (it won’t have to keep stocking thousands of different lenses in its stores), but built-in prescription lenses might make the headset harder to share with users who have different vision requirements.
As well as that, there are persistent rumors that Apple will add a cheaper version of the Vision Pro. That’s something that Gurman reaffirms in his latest report, which will come as a relief to anyone for whom $ 3,500 is too much to pay for a mixed reality headset.
But the journalist also adds another interesting tidbit: Apple could also be working on a “more powerful version” of the device that would surely push the price up into the stratosphere. Depending on your outlook (and budget), a more advanced Apple headset could either be an incredibly exciting development or one that’ll make your bank account shake with fear.
What seems to be clear is that Apple isn’t resting on its laurels. With the Vision Pro the company is seemingly working on what comes next already. Here’s hoping it can fix the problems before too long.
Windows 11’s cumulative update which started rolling out to PCs last week comes with a couple of nifty features for gamers.
Windows Latest noted that Microsoft reminded them of one feature that comes with the July cumulative update (KB5028185), namely a change that’ll benefit some of the best gaming mice out there.
A software engineer at Microsoft told the tech site: “Some of you will see better gaming performance with the July 2023 update. This [July 2023 Update] improves performance when you use a mouse with a high gaming report rate.”
A high report rate, otherwise known as polling rate, means the mouse is checking its position more often, which leads to better accuracy.
However, the problem with such high polling rate mice is that Windows 11 causes some stuttering with these peripherals, due to demands made on the operating system’s input stack (which can get overloaded when using a high report rate mouse plus a bunch of other gaming accessories used for, say, streaming).
Those stuttering blues are now fixed with the KB5028185 patch, thankfully.
Another major boon for PC gamers here is the fix for a nasty bug that caused Timeout Detection and Recovery (TDR) errors.
These can result in a game freezing up or crashing out, so they’re pretty frustrating at times, especially in cases where you might lose progress if you haven’t saved, of course.
Not that you have any choice about installing a cumulative update anyway, seeing as they are mandatory, mainly because of the security fixes applied with these patches. Microsoft doesn’t want any users exposed to vulnerabilities, so that’s understandable (though you can put off installing a patch for a short while on Windows 11 Home).
Gamers have some other goodies to look forward to in the near future, including the Dynamic Lighting hub, which will allow Windows 11 users to control all RGB peripherals from one central place, rather than having to bloat their system with third-party apps.
DirectStorage – which offers an extra speed-up for SSDs in Windows 11 compared to Windows 10 – is also finally seeing some more PC games planning to support the tech. Diablo 4 should get DirectStorage eventually, a dev recently let us know, as well as Hunt: Showdown, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Those will join Forspoken which already supports DirectStorage, and we’re hoping for more announcements soon.
Long gone are the days when POS systems were only used for making sales. Today’s cloud POS systems are management tools that can be used to do everything from managing your inventory and suppliers to tracking the activity of employees – whether it’s hours worked or sales made.
Today, POS systems can even manage employee schedules and streamline HR and training, putting all of your essential business data and reports when and where you need them.
If they're used effectively, POS systems save time and money and have the potential to improve the entire staff management system. Let's take a look at the most common ways your POS system can help manage staff.
1. POS systems offer easier time tracking
POS systems can help accurately track when employees are working. Naturally, this is a critical part of properly managing your employees. That's why outdated clocking in and out systems can be a slow, frustrating and time-consuming experience for employees themselves.
Some POS systems offer an efficient and quick time tracking solution, for both you and your employees. In a lot of cases, POS software enables employees to use a secure PIN when clocking in or out and can even create personal profiles for workers.
This lets both them and you see how many hours they’ve worked in a day, week, or month, thereby minimizing time fraud. Seeing as it’s estimated that time theft costs U.S. employers more than $ 400 billion per year in lost productivity, this is crucial.
For businesses that involve tipping, there are systems that won’t let an employee clock out without declaring their tips and/or performing a till count, which can aid in cash management purposes.
While different POS time clocks will come with different capabilities, it’s a feature that can greatly benefit your business, as this is an efficient way to streamline and consolidate multiple records into a single system.
For example, some time clocks can also integrate with payroll and this automation can simplify calculations of who is owed what when they work different roles – such as a hostess versus a waiter in a restaurant setting. And, finally, a POS with a good timekeeping system can also simplify payroll when employees work overtime at a different rate of pay.
2. Streamlined scheduling
One of the most tedious parts of managing employees is making out the schedule – that is, if you’re still doing it on paper or a whiteboard. With a modern POS system, you can not only track employee hours, but you can make on-the-fly updates and changes in the system in a way that completely streamlines the process.
And, while it’s convenient to set up the times your employees are scheduled to work for the next week, most POS systems also allow managers to accept or reject time off requests and shift trades. Some even have integrations that let you set up a task list and goals for your staff. Better still, because it’s cloud-based software, you can access it from anywhere at any time, meaning you can quickly and easily make last-minute changes.
It’s also important to determine how many people you’ll need on the clock at any given time and, with the right data at your fingertips, this task becomes much easier. Most modern POS solutions provide data and reports on your peak sales and busiest hours and you can use that information to figure out how many employees to bring on at any given time.
3. Improved customer skills and interaction
One of the biggest benefits of today’s modern POS systems is the introduction of mobile capabilities. Instead of having to wait in line at the checkout, a mobile POS system paves the way for mobile checkout, which also gives employees more opportunities to interact with the customers. Employees can answer inventory questions for a customer and even complete a transaction, thus streamlining the retail experience.
If you don’t currently offer mobile POS in your store, you’re going to soon be in the minority. Retailers are quickly realizing how it improves employee efficiency and effectiveness, which improves the bottom line.
Indeed, mPOS transaction values are “predicted to exceed $ 1.9 trillion by 2024, up from $ 850 billion in 2019,” and according to one survey, “90% of respondents agree or strongly agree that mPOS is cost effective,” with 72% of retailers surveyed accepting mobile payments, compared to 51% in 2017.
4. Detailed employee activity reporting
POS data can reveal critical insights about your business – both the good and the bad. While you would like to be able to trust your staff 100% of the time, the fact of the matter is that employee theft costs U.S. businesses $ 50 billion annually. The first line of defence in preventing this expensive incident is a POS system with comprehensive case management reporting.
More than just inputting a start and an end cash count, modern POS systems can provide comprehensive reports for till count before and after shift changes and carefully document cash-ins and cash-outs, among other things involving security.
On the flip side, POS systems with detailed employee reports are also the easiest way to track performance so you can identify – and reward – top employees. And, as many businesses know, employee rewards and recognition can truly pay off both for employers and their staff. A recent study found that 63% of employees who are recognized are very unlikely to look for a new job, and 40% of employed Americans would put additional energy into their work if they were recognized more often.
It's also possible to run reports to find out who your top and poorest performing employees are, which employees process the most sales, who is working overtime and so on. You can then use all of this information, both to make strategic scheduling decisions, reward high performers and provide extra training to boost productivity for employees who aren’t performing as well.
5. Smoother employee training
Last, but certainly not least is employee training. You can have the greatest employee in the world filled with high morale and ambition, but without proper POS training, they won’t be able to reach their full potential. When introducing a POS system into your store, it’s crucial that you properly train them on how the system works – and how it benefits them and will make their job that much easier.
The majority of cloud-based POS software is specifically designed to be as easy to use as possible. However, every system is different and will require a specific set of skills that may take some time to acquire. That’s why, when selecting a POS system, it’s important to think about the onboarding process for both new and current employees.
For example, how difficult will it be to train employees on this system? Does the interface include a training mode built right into it? Are you provided with comprehensive training materials? Will the vendor offer on-site training and support?
The more time you invest in training your staff to use a new POS, the greater the likelihood that the transition will be smooth and you’ll reap all the beneficial rewards.
Your POS system and employee management
From training employees to use the POS system itself to using the POS system to manage your employees, it’s safe to say that this technology is the backbone of your business.
Along with tracking inventory and suppliers, it helps you manage your staffing levels, employee hours and overall sales performance. What's more, by optimizing your employee management, you’re better able to streamline your business – boosting not only the customer experience, but also your bottom line.
If you're looking for more information about POS systems and the benefits they bring, then check out our expert guides to understanding the cost of a POS system, how to choose the best POS system for your business.
Taking photos in iOS has always been a relatively simple affair, just by using the Camera app by Apple. But third-party developers have gone further to make the iPhone camera work harder for you and the photos you take every day.
This is what Obscura has been doing since its launch in 2015. Developed by the Obscura team of Ben Rice McCarthy, Adam K. Schmidt and Sara Lovic, the third version of the app launched this week (February 17) for $ 9.99 / £9.99 / AU$ 10.99.
This new version brings a redesigned gallery view, video capture, refined layouts for controlling exposure settings, and the multiple lenses of the iPhone models, alongside controller support. This allows anyone with an Xbox or PlayStation controller, to take a photo through Obscura 3.
Having used the update for a month, it’s a significant improvement over Obscura 2. The new gallery view brings your albums front and center, giving you a quick overview of what you want to select.
There’s also the ability to rate your photos, not just a thumbs up or down as in Apple’s Photos app. Here, you could take a selection of photos, say different locations for a wedding venue for instance, and rate them in order. It makes sorting some photos much easier, as it could help you decide on certain locations or products for those important situations.
It’s the gestures that help make Obscura 3 shine – especially the exposure gesture. As you’re taking a photo, you can press the exposure icon on the bottom-left of the app to change how light or dark you need the image to be. But if you use your thumb to slide up and down on the icon, you can more accurately choose the exposure point instead.
These little touches are found across the app in this third version. While you can’t currently change the default camera app in iOS, Obscura 3 makes a compelling case for why the option should be there for pro users.
A chat with Obscura’s developer
Speaking with McCarthy after the launch of Obscura 3, I asked them whether the pandemic inspired the development of the new update, in regards to features and what users were asking for. “Not particularly. In an ideal world we would have taken a trip to somewhere exciting to take incredible marketing photos of rainforests or glaciers,” McCarthy clarifies. “But for the most part, the production of Obscura 3 wasn’t all that different to Obscura 2.”
With every major update to an app, there’s always the question of what the main objective was for the newest version. We asked McCarthy what the aim was for Obscura this time. “Am I allowed to say everything? Because we really did throw it all out and start from scratch,” McCarthy continues. “There are obvious changes like the new camera interface, but everything has been rewritten and improved, like the gesture to close the camera, the photo capture pipeline, the filters to support P3 color, I could go on all day.
“If I had to choose just one though, I’d probably say the Image Detail view,” McCarthy reveals. “There’s an astonishing amount of complexity to it. It was honestly pretty janky in Obscura 2. It now has better support for RAW files, depth data, video (for the first time!), and is much smoother at handling changes to the photo library while you’re browsing. The triage features are also really neat if you care about keeping your library organized.”
We wanted to mention the Exposure wheel, which we found very intuitive for allowing certain amounts of light in. We asked McCarthy how this came to be, and why it’s arriving in this update.
“Conceptually, the Exposure and Focus dials were planned from the very start. In fact, I had built a very rudimentary version of them in Obscura 1, but it wasn’t great,” McCarthy explains.
“We played around with the functionality quite a bit. Should the dial have values displayed around the ring? Should the sensitivity vary as it expands? How sensitive should the haptic feedback be? But everything we added made it feel less intuitive and more distracting. In the end, the simpler it was, the more natural and like using a physical camera it felt.”
With the new gallery view being a tentpole feature of Obscura 3, we asked McCarthy whether there was going to be an option for opening the app and having the gallery appear first.
“I had thought of making that an option for the forthcoming iPad version, which is well suited to browsing and editing photos, but I hadn’t really considered it for the phone,” McCarthy explains. “But if we build that functionality anyway, I don’t see why we wouldn’t add it to the phone.”
In-app purchases, or IAPs, are ways for users to buy more features for an app. In previous Obscura versions, this allowed you to buy additional filters, but for Obscura 3, there are no IAPs this time.
We asked McCarthy what the reasons for this were, and if IAPs have had their due, especially for photography apps.
“There were a few reasons behind this decision, benefitting both us and the user. The first is that we wanted to avoid the feeling of upselling, especially when the user is in the middle of taking photos,” McCarthy explains.
“Secondly, the StoreKit API has also been a pain to work with in the past and was the source of more support email than any other part of the app. And thirdly, having IAPs for filters necessitated having example photos for the product pages, and those added quite a considerable amount to Obscura’s download size (O2 was about 70MB and O3 is down to about 5MB, though the sample photos weren’t the only factor).”
The gallery view also shows promise for other Apple platforms, such as macOS, an operating system that doesn’t have an Obscura app. We wondered whether this is something up for consideration.
“I’m certainly not promising anything right now, but I have tried building it for the Mac using Catalyst and it mostly runs without issue,” McCarthy reveals. “The real work would be in making it feel more at home on macOS, so I guess we’ll have to see if we can find the time to make it happen.”
A surprising feature was the integration of controller support in Obscura 3. You could use a Dual Sense controller to take a photo if needed. We asked whether this was always intended and if there are further plans to expand this in the future.
“As I was working on the Apple Watch companion app, it occurred to me that it would be nice if there was an alternative for people who don’t have one. And I had a spare PS4 controller (in theory for playing more games on iOS, though I rarely use it) and I realized that could be a decent alternative,” McCarthy reveals.
“There’s not much functionality there right now, but we have plenty of ideas on improving this feature that just didn’t make the cut for launch.”
Finally, widgets are still being heavily used on iPhone and iPad devices, where you can place bite-sized information on your home screen without launching the app. For Obscura, this seems to be a natural step, especially for rated photos and shortcuts for launching different modes of the app.
We asked McCarthy whether this was something that they were considering. “Definitely. As soon as the launch chaos is over we’re going to start work on widgets, and we already have a few planned,” McCarthy continues. “Having access via the lock screen is a big bonus that widgets also provide. And given that we may never see an option to set third-party camera apps as the default, we have to take what opportunities we can get.”
There is no leadership manual for dealing with a once-in-a-century global health emergency—no script to guide what you should say to team members, customers, and stakeholders in your business.
Right now, everyone’s leadership skills are being tested in ways we could have barely imagined a month ago. It’s not just a question of how resilient our organisations are and how quickly they can adapt to lockdowns and restrictions on travel. It’s a challenge to our resilience as human beings.
When Stewart Butterfield, the founder of Slack, tweeted the story in recent days of how his business was responding to the Covid-19 emergency, he prefaced his comments with a simple introductory note: “I’m a human. I worry about my family and am deeply concerned about the millions whose jobs and health are at risk.” It was the right starting note.
I’ve always believed that great leadership is forged in the crucible of adversity, but great leaders are those who respond with empathy and vulnerability even when making the toughest decisions. We all need reserves of determination and positivity at precisely the moments those qualities are stretched thin.
Where do those reserves come from? Here are four ways to build resilience:
Own your resilience
Meet one of the most remarkable people I know, Debra Searle. She is a successful entrepreneur, author, and television presenter—and she’s been twice-honoured by the Queen for her achievements in her native UK and beyond. She has a mental toolkit that served her well through one of the toughest tests imaginable: rowing across 3,000 miles of ocean by herself in a boat built for two.
Debra’s tips range from “running the movie”— visualise yourself confronting and overcoming the challenging times ahead—to choosing your attitude every day.
“This is the one thing I had a choice about,” Debra says. “Every day I made an attitude choice: I said it out loud. It had to be a positive attitude. Negative attitudes were banned on the boat.”
Keep talking. Keep listening. Our team has been communicating openly on multiple channels as the coronavirus crisis has developed and after the decision to ask staff to work remotely. There are virtual meetings, recorded sessions, emails, and I’ve opened my schedule to anyone in the business to book time for a conversation. And those conversations have ranged from the current crisis, to our customer response, to just having a laugh about our home office hijinks.
The most important message is how to embrace the ‘“new normal’” for the entire team. We all need to prioritise and support our family during times like these. For some, the new normal might look like two working adults competing for internet bandwidth at home taking turns to respond to the cries of a toddler or two. For others, it might be taking care of at-risk parents or relatives. But whatever the new normal is for each colleague, there’s one thing they all needed to know from their leader: prioritise your family and your wellbeing. If anything has to give in life right now, let it be work.
When it's all done, reflect and learn
When this crisis abates—and it will in time—the temptation is for leaders to rush ahead without a backward glance. But part of resilience is learning lessons. Former US Navy SEAL Commander Mark McGinnis describes this as part of the “Corporate Battle Rhythm”—a full cycle of planning, briefing, execution and debriefing.
“After a mission, we come together immediately in a very hallowed environment where there’s no rank, no blame, no privilege, no seniority, and we sit down and talk unemotionally about the successes and failures of the mission. It’s important to capture both,” he says.
“The successes because we want to continue to do things that are working and the failures because we can’t afford to make the same mistake twice. If we repeat mistakes in my world it has catastrophic results.”
And the outcome of a SEAL team’s debrief isn’t just kept within the mission squad. The lessons are open to every SEAL, from the top to bottom rank. “I’m accelerating everyone’s experience, whether they’re going out and doing operations or not,” says Mark.
Take the time to reflect and hold a debrief; no two crises are the same, but there will be lessons to learn from your organisation’s response to Covid-19.
Lead as though your children are watching
In essence, times of crisis challenge leaders to be the best versions of themselves. I’m reminded of an idea that Sean Pederson of Trek Bicycles came up with a few years ago: “Lead as though your children are watching.” It’s great advice. And right now, if you’re reading this while you’re working at home, they probably are.
Come on Microsoft. You must know that no one likes Bing. Cramming it into a Spider-Man film in a bid to make it appear cool didn’t work – mainly because in a film involving radioactive spiders, superheroes and lizard people, the idea of anyone willingly using Bing rather than Google was the most unrealistic aspect.
In fact, I have a sneaky suspicion that the most searched-for term in Bing is “How to download Chrome”, as people use Microsoft’s Edge browser, which comes with Windows 10 and has Bing as the default search engine, to download Google’s Chrome browser.
I'd even wager that the user numbers for Bing compared to Google must be so small, they are practically an anomaly. More of a blip than a bing.
And Microsoft must know this. Which is why the company has been trying to foist its unloved search engine on us. Not only does Edge default to Bing, but using the search box in Windows 10 brings up Bing results when you search the internet, with no easy way to change it.
This will change the default search engine of Chrome from Google (or any other search engine) to Bing. Quite why Microsoft thinks that anyone using Microsoft Office 356 ProPlus would also want to have their search engine changed to Bing is beyond me. It’s come up with some old excuse about needing to use Microsoft search or whatever, but to be blunt, that’s no reason to forcibly change people’s search engines.
With great power comes great responsibility
Instead, Microsoft wants people to use Bing not through choice, but through force. And while many people will change back to Google as soon as they’ve noticed that their search queries bring back Bing results, I’m sure Microsoft is banking on enough people not realising, or just sticking with it, victims of digital Stockholm syndrome.
In my view, this is a move that hearkens back to Microsoft’s shadier past where it has tried to force its products on users. Anyone who has used a fresh version of Windows 10 will know that if you use Edge (and Bing) to search from Chrome to download, you used to get messages popping up trying to dissuade you from doing so, and instead stick with Edge.
Not only was this annoying (and a bit desperate), but it was using an unfair advantage of having Edge being pre-installed in Windows 10.
Now, those little pop-ups and messages seemed to have calmed down a bit lately, and I was hoping that maybe Microsoft has learned its lesson. But if it does go ahead with changing people’s default search engines when they update Microsoft Office 356 ProPlus, then I fear the company hasn’t learned anything.
The bottom line is if Microsoft wants more people to use products like Edge and Bing, then rather than forcing people to use them, instead Microsoft should work hard to make those products better than the completion – so people willingly use those products, rather than being held hostage.
Microsoft has done better with its updates to Edge – but it’ll take a lot more to make me consider using Bing.
But tampering with my choices in an unrelated program just because I use another Microsoft product? I believe Spider-Man would agree that that goes against everything Uncle Ben stood for.