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Ready for SharePlay on your iPhone? Talking Tech podcast

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usatoday– Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Hey there listeners. It’s Brett Molina. Welcome to Talking Tech. My co-host Mike Snider is off today. Yesterday, you heard us talk about the option to add your COVID cards to your Apple Wallet. This was part of an update to iOS 15 Apple’s mobile operating system for the iPhone. Along with that, we also got an update to a feature called SharePlay, which is available on FaceTime. And what it does is anytime you are on a FaceTime call, you have the option to watch movies, watch TV shows, or do other activities all while still participating in this FaceTime call. I write about this on techusatoday.com. Apple introduced a few other partners that are going to be involved with SharePlay, TikTok, Disney+, and the NBA. I got a chance to demo some of this recently and just get a sense for how it’s going to work and how you use SharePlay.

It’s a really fun feature and I think it’s great if you’re looking for new ways to connect with your friends or family who are far away, and you want to do it on a video call and you want to do something a little more fun. So here’s how it works. When you pull up a FaceTime call, you’ll see this button that appears on the top right. Basically, the way it works is you tap on the screen and then you’ll kind of see a little menu of options pop up. There’s something on the top right and that allows you to share your screen. And that’s part of how SharePlay works. So you could tap into that and then whoever’s on the call will be able to see your screen and they’ll be able to see things like if you pull up photos, if you pull up something else, like say you want to show someone how to do something on the app, or you just want to show someone a quick photo while you’re on a call, you can just screen share right there.

So also while you’re on these video calls, you can do other things too. One of the demonstrations I saw was through Disney+ where you pull up the Disney+ app while you’re on a call, you decide you want to SharePlay while you’re watching a movie, you hit a button. Other callers on there will get a prompt that alerts them that someone wants to invite you to a SharePlay session. You’ll click on that to join a SharePlay and then you start the movie together. It works with up to 32 people. So you can have a lot of people at once all on this FaceTime call, all watching the same movie together. Anyone can pause the movie at any point if they need to stop and do something. If there’s like a fun part in the movie they want to fast forward to or they want to rewind back to something that was worth checking out, you can do that as well.

The other cool feature there too is say someone starts talking in the middle of the movie, the volume from that movie will automatically lower. And then once that person stops talking, the volume returns back to normal again. So, really cool. It also works on the NBA app as well. If the participants on the call all have NBA League Pass, which is the separate subscription that fans use to be able to watch any NBA game they want, they can sit within a FaceTime call and watch a game together. It also works on TikTok where users can hop in, share their feeds. If they see something funny, they can share it on the call and all watch it together. And there was a fun point too where you can actually scroll through a TikTok and … a TikTok feed rather and see everything that’s on there together as a group. It’s a lot of fun. The other cool part of this too is you can also stay in that SharePlay session and use picture-in-picture.

So say you wanted to look something up on a browser while you’re involved in a movie or a game or something like that, you can minimize the window on your SharePlay session. So at the top quarter of your phone, you might see whatever videos on, you might have that, you might see the icons for the FaceTime call. So you’re still in this call and then you can go back to your phone and look something up. So say I’m watching a Lakers game and I’m just curious about who’s leading the NBA in scoring, I could drop that NBA game within SharePlay into the top quarter of my phone and then pop on my browser and look up what I need to look up. It’s really fun. It’s really useful. For the Disney+ and NBA experiences, you have to have subscriptions. So as I mentioned, you have to have League Pass. For Disney+, everyone involved has to have Disney+ in order for this to work. The TikTok and NBA experiences through SharePlay are available now. Disney is going to launch their experience later this year.

There are also several apps available in the app store beyond that, that have SharePlay too. Redfin is one example. Say you’re looking at a home listing, you’re talking with someone. You can both look at that home listing together. There’s other stuff like Apple TV+, the Apple fitness app, Showtime, the streaming app. You can watch movies and TV shows there as well, and CARROT Weather where you can share forecasts with other people while you’re on a FaceTime call. Really fun feature. Looking forward to using more of this in the future.

Listeners, let’s hear from you. Do you have any comments, questions, or show ideas, any tech problems you want us to try to address? You can find me on Twitter @BrettMolina23. Please don’t forget to subscribe and rate us or leave a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, anywhere you get your podcasts. And don’t forget, we have a newsletter as well that you can subscribe to, the Talking Tech newsletter. You can visit us there at newsletters.usatoday.com and subscribe right away. You’ve been listening to Talking Tech. We’ll be back tomorrow with another quick hit from the world of tech.

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Twitter users are exposing pro-Russian sentiment in China, and Beijing is not happy

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Anonymous Twitter users are exposing the extreme nationalism and pro-Russian sentiment circulating online in China — and Beijing is not happy about it.

Scores of screen-grabbed posts from China’s most popular social media platforms have been translated and shared on Twitter in recent weeks, offering Western audiences a rare glimpse into the Chinese internet.
Among those posts: a prominent military blog falsely claiming a Russian attack on a train station in Kramatorsk was actually carried out by Ukraine, a well known media commentator dismissing the atrocities in Bucha, and a vlogger with hundreds of thousands of followers using a misogynistic term for Ukraine.
The posts appear courtesy of anonymous Twitter users who say their aim is to expose Western audiences to the true extent of pro-Russian or nationalistic content on China’s heavily censored platforms.
They often come under the hashtag of “The Great Translation Movement,” or shared by an account with the same name run by a decentralized, anonymous team that crowdsources the collection and translation of popular posts on Ukraine and other hot topics, according to an administrator interviewed by CNN. Many, but not all, appear to have been widely liked or shared within China — selection criteria cited by the administrator.
Since the account’s launch in early March it has already made plenty of friends and enemies — attracting both 116,000 followers (and counting) and a slew of criticism from China’s state-run media.
The movement was formed in response to China’s alleged hypocrisy in portraying itself as neutral on Ukraine, even while its state and social media circulated pro-Russian narratives, the administrator told CNN.
“We want the outside world to at least know what is going on inside, because we don’t think there could be any change made from inside,” said the administrator, who requested anonymity due to security concerns.

In bad faith?

China’s state media has lashed out against what it decries as “cherry picked content.” The overseas arm of the People’s Daily — the mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party — has claimed the translators behind the movement are guilty of attributing the “extreme remarks” of some netizens to the “whole country.”
The nationalistic Global Times newspaper has accused the group of being “Chinese-speaking bad faith actors” and one of its opinion writers claimed the group included “foreign hostile forces” perpetuating “psychological warfare against China.”
Outside China, media experts caution the posts do not show a holistic view of public opinion in China and appear to at least partially be selected for shock value — but could still be useful in bringing these elements of China’s media sphere to light.
Critics also say the group’s tweets show evidence of its own bias — such as in posts that use a term comparing China to Nazi Germany.
Posts which gain traction on China’s social media must be seen in light of its highly censored environment, where nationalistic voices thrive and liberal ones have largely retreated or been censored, experts say.
But the administrator who spoke to CNN said the point was to highlight the visibility of such posts — some coming from popular influencers, comments receiving thousands of likes or from prominent commenstators, and even government-backed news outlets.
“Our goal is to raise awareness about the state of public opinion in China, whether it is purely the result of spontaneous interactions (or) the result of government censorship,” the administrator said.
“We want to counter the effort of the Chinese state-affiliated media by showing the West some content they do not want to show.”

Dual messaging

The resistance against the group from China’s state media highlights the sensitivities around how China wants to present itself on the world stage, especially at a time when it has been attempting to walk a diplomatic tightrope between Russia and the West over Ukraine.
China has often sought to present two different narratives — one for domestic audiences and another for those overseas. This is made possible through both a language barrier and an online ecosystem that bans apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Great Translation Movement breaks down both of these barriers.
“Even before the social media era, the way China talks internally through its state media is something it doesn’t appreciate being parsed and translated for the world,” said David Bandurski, director of the China Media Project, a research program in partnership with the Journalism & Media Studies Center at the University of Hong Kong.
And when it comes to Ukraine, China has sought to portray itself — at least to overseas audiences — as unaligned and invested in calling for peace. But its media coverage back home tells a different story, Bandurski said.
“If you just look at (state) media coverage, it’s really hard to talk about neutrality … Everything they have said is amplifying disinformation and aligning with Russia in terms of narratives.”
While the tone of state-backed media is clear, experts say it is difficult to gauge public opinion in China simply by looking at social media, even when it comes to popular influencers or viral posts.
Like anywhere in the world, views on social media can be extreme. In China, heavy manipulation and censorship often amplifies select voices.
“The authorities certainly have an interest in promoting their preferred narrative online, and they have the technical and political means to unapologetically ‘guide public opinion,'” said Florian Schneider, director of the Leiden Asia Center in The Netherlands.
“We should also not underestimate the power of social media algorithms: as pro-Russia statements become mainstream, they receive ever more likes and shares, which makes them more visible,” he said.

Suppressed voices, echo chambers

The situation is complicated: Beijing too has reason to be wary of ultra-nationalist voices, which platforms sometimes censor. And while nationalist rhetoric has become more dominant online in recent years, the loudest voices may not show a majority.
Bandurski said that an analogy would be looking at ultra-conservative voices in the US media environment, and assuming that was representative of the American perspective.
“So the danger is this kind of echo chamber of content, which we might assume is representative of China and its perspective, and it’s really a lot more complicated than that,” he said.
Maria Repnikova, director of the Center for Global Information Studies at Georgia State University, said when it comes to Ukraine there have been “alternative voices talking about the war…but they’re not as dominant or as loud or as visible.” Their posts may either be censored or hard to detect as social media users may express dissenting views through code and allusion.
She also asks if things would be different if images of bombarded cities of Ukraine or the atrocities in Bucha were not restricted in China.
“If people could see all of those images and scenes, would that be a different story? Would different voices pick up?”
The Great Translation Movement administrator said they hoped that the movement could help push Beijing to tone down the rhetoric on these platforms so that there would be room for more voices.
“In today’s Chinese mainstream discourse there is a very limited space for people who have a rational mind to speak,” the administrator said.
“Even if you speak out and if it doesn’t get deleted, you are still going to be spammed…and people are going to say you are a spy… the dignity of people themselves is destroyed.”

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BLACKBERRY PHONES TO STOP WORKING AS COMPANY FINALLY PULLS PLUG

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independent– BlackBerry phones, once the height of mobile devices, are finally being shut off.

The company announced that services for the older devices will be brought to an end on 4 January. At that point, they will “no longer reliably function”, BlackBerry said, and will be unable to get data, texts or make phone calls, including to emergency numbers.

It is just the latest in a series of endings for the once equally beloved and hated name, which helped drive the mobile revolution and was at the forefront of business and technology. While the BlackBerry has been declared dead a number of times before, the latest move means that the phones themselves will actually stop working.

In 2016, after its phones had been replaced largely by smartphones from Apple and others, BlackBerry announced that it had transitioned away from phones and into making software and that it would focus on providing security tools to companies and governments. It has sold the BlackBerry brand to other companies, who have created devices bearing the name.

In 2020, BlackBerry said that with that move complete, it would start taking offline the legacy services that allowed those old devices to keep working. Phones that run any of BlackBerry’s own operating systems – BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier, BlackBerry 10 software – were given an “end of life or termination date” at the start of 2022.

Next week, that date will finally arrive and support will end. While the phones will still be able to perform some of their functions without BlackBerry’s services, many of their central features will be removed, and the phones will not work reliably.

BlackBerry said the support was being removed in recognition of the fact that it now works in security software and that the old products did not reflect its business. It had prolonged support in the years since that transition “as an expression of thanks to our loyal partners and customers”, it said.

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70 Jupiter-sized ‘rogue planets’ discovered in our galaxy

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independent– A team of astronomers discovered at least 70 ‘rogue’ planets in our galaxy, the largest collection ever found to date.

While conventional planets (like those in our Solar System) orbit a star, rogue planets roam freely without travelling around a nearby star.

“We did not know how many to expect and are excited to have found so many,” said Núria Miret-Roig, an astronomer at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux.

­It would usually be impossible to detect rogue planets because they are hard to spot far from a star’s light. One key fact of their existence made them visible: these planets still give off enough heat to glow millions of years after their creation, making them visible to powerful telescopes.

This heat allowed the 70 planets – each with masses close to that of Jupiter – to be discovered in the Scorpius and Ophiuchus constellations.

“We measured the tiny motions, the colours and luminosities of tens of millions of sources in a large area of the sky,” explained Ms Miret-Roig. “These measurements allowed us to securely identify the faintest objects in this region, the rogue planets.”

The astronomers’ study suggests there could be many more elusive, starless planets yet to be discovered, numbering in the billions in the Milky Way alone.

By studying these planets, astronomers believe they could unlock clues as to how the mysterious objects come to be. It is hypothesised they are generated from the collapse of gas clouds too small to create stars, but they could also have been ejected from a parent system.

“These objects are extremely faint and little can be done to study them with current facilities,” says Hervé Bouy, another astronomer at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique. “The ELT [Extremely Large Telescope, currently being built in Chile] will be absolutely crucial to gathering more information about most of the rogue planets we have found.”

The exact number of rogue planets discovered is vague, because the observations made by the researchers do not allow them to measure the mass of the objects. Bodies with a mass 13 times greater than that of Jupiter are unlikely to be planets, but relying on brightness makes this figure unclear.

The brightness of these objects is also related to age, as the older the planet is the dimmer it will be. The brightest objects in the sample could have a mass greater than the upper limit but be older and therefore dimmer. Researchers estimate there could be as many as 100 more planets yet to be discovered because of this uncertainty.

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