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ExtraBITS for 8 February 2016

In this week’s ExtraBITS collection, writer Craig Grannell calls out Apple for a lack of Reduce Motion options in OS X and tvOS, Facebook’s iOS app continues to use more power than is reasonable, and veteran technology journalist Walt Mossberg says that Apple’s apps need improvement.

El Capitan and tvOS Criticized by Vestibular Disorder Sufferer -- The Reduce Motion option in iOS (Settings > General > Accessibility) helped many users for whom iOS’s animations and parallax effects cause motion sickness and nausea due to vestibular disorders (see “iOS 7.0.3 Adds iCloud Keychain and Disables Animation,” 22 October 2013). Writer Craig Grannell charges that Apple has not followed suit with OS X 10.11 El Capitan and tvOS, both of which sport the kind of eye candy that makes him ill. In OS X, the only app that attempts to help is Photos, which has a Reduce Motion option in its preferences, but Grannell claims that both it and tvOS’s Reduce Motion settings are almost entirely ineffective. Although it’s impossible to know what percent of the population suffers from vestibular disorders, estimates range from 5 to 35 percent, meaning that there could be many millions of people out there who endure some level of discomfort due to unnecessary animations and effects. We’d like to see Apple extend its accessibility work in iOS to its other operating systems (including watchOS, which Grannell doesn’t discuss).

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Facebook’s iOS App Is Still a Battery Hog -- Despite Facebook supposedly taking steps to address the issue, the service’s iOS app apparently still consumes more battery power than is reasonable. Samuel Gibbs of The Guardian found that uninstalling the app made the battery in his iPhone 6s Plus last 15 percent longer than when the app was installed. It also saved him about 500 MB of storage space, due to the app’s large size and cache. It’s distressing that a company with such extensive development resources has failed to resolve this problem for so many years. If you use Facebook and are having battery life issues, consider deleting the app and using Facebook in Safari instead. For more tips on improving battery life, read “iOS 9: A Take Control Crash Course.”

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Walt Mossberg Says Core Apple Apps Need Work -- If you feel as though Apple’s own apps aren’t living up to the company’s high standards, you’re not alone. At The Verge, venerable tech columnist Walt Mossberg has penned a criticism of Apple’s more troubled apps, singling out iTunes (“I dread opening the thing.”), Mail, Photos, and iCloud. “It’s almost as if the tech giant has taken its eye off the ball when it comes to these core software products, while it pursues big new dreams, like smartwatches and cars,” Mossberg said. Given the problems we and our readers have seen with iTunes and Mail in particular, we hope Apple pays heed to this warning from an elder statesman of tech journalism.

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