One month of iOS 12 public beta

After having used the ios 12 public beta 2 on an iPhone 6 plus for around a month, I must say, it is better than ios 11 in terms of features.

Although I did not notice the fast performance that was advertised at WWDC 2018, other features more than make up for it.

Grouped notifications

It is such a convenience. Dealing with notifications is so much easier now. You can manage, clear, open notifications all from the lock screen now. Notifications from individual apps are grouped together. All you have to do is swipe left to clear multiple notifications from a single app.

Auto fill security codes

A lot of payment apps send short security codes or PINS as text messages to your mobile number, which you have to copy/memorize and then enter in the app to approve payment. IOS 12 eliminates this hassle by giving you an option to auto fill the code from your last text message.

Screen time

This feature is very useful for people who want to monitor and restrict their usage of certain apps. It also gives information on number of times the phone was picked up. This number on my phone was a surprise to me.

The messages app is a little buggy. When the app is opened, many times the latest messages are not displayed and some times after reading a new message, when you go back to the conversation list, the just read message is still displayed as unread. I solve this by clearing the app from memory and relaunching it. This usually solves the problem but doing this many times in a day is irritating. I know, this is a beta release.

Almost all apps force close frequently, including the camera app, including in the middle of taking a photo. The browser reloads pages frequently.

I haven’t tried the other features like group face time yet…

I do not recommend using the ios 12 beta on your main or only phone. There are bugs and it is after all a beta release, released for testing and reporting.

Kindle your reading appetite

Yes, this post is about the e-reader Amazon Kindle. I have been using the Kindle devices from 5 years. I have used both the Paperwhite and the Vanilla kindle as well.

I was always fond of reading from a physical book. The feel of a real page turn, the smell of a new book, the faded colour of pages of an old book! You obviously can only imagine such things if you read exclusively on an e reader and remember with nostalgia, your old memories.

So, why did I buy my first Kindle?

The problem was with space. I had too many books at home,including my academic books, and there was not enough space to keep them all. So, I bought a kindle with some trepidation.

The experience of using a kindle for the first time was exciting and a little disappointing. The excitement was because I could store almost unlimited number of books in a small device. I could read any book anywhere I liked.

The disappointment was mainly because of the resolution and ghosting of letters. The old generation Kindle used to not refresh a page completely I think, so on every page turn, I would find ghost images of letters and words. The resolution was not great too.

However, once you get into a story really, the medium from which you are reading does not matter. The resolution is not even thought of. You forget the feel and smell of a real book.

In the long run, an e-reader is more economical and space saving than buying physical books. It is also environment friendly, with all the trees you would be saving by not using paper. I almost exclusively read ebooks now and mostly on Kindle.

Why can’t you just read from a reading app on a phone/tablet ?

Because you are looking at a backlit screen and a phone/tablet has all the distractions capable of distracting you from reading. Reading on a backlit screen for long hours is not advisable because of the strain on the eyes.

The e readers, even the self lit Paperwhite screens, are designed differently. The sole purpose of them is reading. The Kindles have an anti glare screen and illumination on the Paperwhite is at an angle. So the light does not hit your eye directly. The resolution on the newer Kindle paperwhites is 300 PPI. So, pixellation or compromised quality of reading is not an issue at all. The paper white which I have does not have the ghosting issue which I described earlier.

The battery life of a Kindle is much greater than a phone or tab’s.

People who have to wear reading glasses may just increase the font size on the Kindle and read without glasses.

I must admit that I have read more ebooks than physical books by now. It is mostly about the convenience factor. You can carry a small device and carry your entire library with you. You finished a book in a series? You just need to download the next book in the series, which is almost instantaneous. I have finished several book series this way. There usually are great discounts on ebooks too.

Do you really need the more expensive Kindles?

Depends a lot on your budget allocation for an ereader. Kindle Voyage is thinner, shorter and less wide than a paperwhite. So it can be held more easily in one hand. It also has an adaptive front light. I do not see this as too much of an advantage as the paperwhite allows you to manually adjust light. Should you be spending 5500 more to get these features? I don’t think so.

The Kindles with 3g are also not really a necessity. You can always switch on the mobile hotspot on your phone and use it to download books if it is an emergency.

The Kindle family is a great addition to any bibliophile’s collection. My love for physical books remains even though I almost exclusively read on Kindle. It is all about practicality and convenience at the end of the day.

Reliance Jio announces Jio Gigafiber

Reliance Jio officially announced its wired broadband service called Jio Gigafiber yesterday at its annual general meeting.

Jio plans to start registrations for the service from August 15th and will launch simultaneously in 1100 cities of India. Jio did not reveal details on the pricing of the service.

The service aims to provide a complete home entertainment set up with stress on speeds in Gbps. Hence, the same wired connection may be used for multiple purposes.

The first use is obviously for high speed internet access. Secondly, GigaTV set top box will use the same connection to provide home entertainment as well. With access to over 600 channels, Jio TV, Jio Cinema and Jio Smart Living, the service will probably be tough competition to the already established services in home entertainment like Tata Sky, Dish TV. The set top box will provide access to video calling as well.

Jio announced the latest edition of its phone too, the Jio phone 2 . It costs INR 2999 and will natively support access to apps like Whats App and Facebook.

In anticipation of launch of Jio Gigafiber, ACT, Airtel and even BSNL had reduced their prices or increased data limits on their wired broadband plans recently. I had written about this and the imminent launch of Jio broadband in a previous post.

With the official launch of Jio Gigafiber, other broadband service providers may provide even better offers to their customers. All this is assuming that Jio will price its service at affordable rates.

Gaming- an addiction?

Since my last post was about gaming, it compels me to write about gaming being an addiction in this post.

The World Health Organization (WHO), in its latest draft revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) has defined “Gaming Disoder” and included it in the same category as substance abuse.

What is ICD?

WHO uses this classification to categorise diseases and health conditions. It helps practitioners in reporting conditions better and researchers in analysis of global statistics and in further categorisation. WHO periodically revises its classification and the latest revision is ICD 11 which it will publish soon.

What is Gaming Disorder?

The WHO defines gaming disorder as it defines addiction due to any substance abuse. In WHO’s words, gaming disorder is

“a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences”

Every word here is important. A casual gamer is not a gaming addict. As with other addictions, gaming becomes a disorder when it starts taking precedence over every other activity in your life,routine activities included. And, even after the gamer has realised that the activity is having detrimental effects on his/her health, he/she is not able to control gaming addiction. This is the same as other common addictions like alcohol and nicotine.

Should gaming have been classified as a disorder?

Although classification as a disorder has garnered a lot of flak from the general public, I, being a doctor support this move. Too much of anything is really bad, gaming included. As in addiction to alcohol or drugs, the centres and neural pathways in the brain that get activated in pathological gaming addiction are more or less the same. This has been demonstrated by functional MRI.

Studies have demonstrated that pathological gamers have craving for the game and even exhibit withdrawal symptoms when forced away from games. This is probably true for addiction to any substance or activity.

The significance of inclusion of “Gaming disorder” in the ICD11 lies in recognising true pathological gamers and treating them. There have been reports of gamers dying at their desks, gamers being found in a pool of their own excreta….

If this is not addiction, what is?

Further reading:

WHO website on gaming disorder

Study on brain activity and gaming

Reports of gamer deaths:

https://edition-m.cnn.com/2015/01/19/world/taiwan-gamer-death/index.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/02/23/va-man-died-during-marathon-attempt-to-play-video-game-for-24-hours/?utm_term=.a57a7ba66861