iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Microsoft has made good on its promise to make Cortana available to iOS devices. The company polled Windows Insiders earlier this month to gauge interest in the idea and received enough feedback that it has begun rolling out Cortana in beta form to those interested in testing. Cortana is Microsoft's virtual assistant, which first debuted in Windows Phone 8.1. Cortana for iOS can be used to track flights and calendar appointments, set reminders and alarms, and monitor packages. Microsoft said testers will not be able to launch Cortana with the "Hey, Cortana" catch phrase, but most other features are intact. Cortana testers will still be able to interact with Siri, Apple's own personal assistant. Eligible beta testers will receive an email with information on how to download the app. The beta software is being distributed through Apple's TestFlight program, which functions apart from the iTunes App Store. TestFlight allows beta-class apps to be installed on iOS devices. Typically, iPhone apps can only be installed directly from the App Store. TestFlight limits beta testers to a maximum of 2,000. Cortana is already available to Android devices.
Vine has updated its iOS app and made it compatible with the Apple Watch. The app lets people watch Vines from creators labeled as favorites as well as featured loops curated by Vine. Users can also like and revine loops from the Apple Watch, as well as see cumulative loop counts. The included Vine watch face lets users jump into the app quickly from the watch's home screen. Vine is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Skype improved its app for the iPhone and iPad today with support for call and calendar actions. Skype 6.6 now highlights phone numbers, addresses, times, and dates. Tapping on highlighted text starts the corresponding action. For example, tapping a phone number within a message will bring up the Skype dialpad with the number preloaded, or tapping an address will open Apple Maps and search for the location. Similar actions are available for the calendar, as well. Skype will automatically set up events and pull in any relevant details from the message thread. The calendar appointment will include a Skype chat URL in the notes, too, that goes back to the message. Last, Skype 6.6 improves multitasking by making it easier to return to Skype audio/video calls from the instant messaging or contact sections of the app. Skype 6.6 for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Jolla today said the company is restructuring its finances and laying off the bulk of its employees. Jolla was launched by former Nokia employees and created Sailfish OS and several phones and tablets. The idea was to offer an alternative to Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Sailfish was built from Nokia's old Moblin and Maemo Linux platforms. Jolla Chairman and Co-Founder Antti Saarnio says Sailfish OS is commercially mature and ready to be licensed to other hardware makers. Jolla has burned through most of its cash, however, and needs to take time to regroup. The company will let go of the majority of its employees while restructuring its debt, although it insists the layoffs are temporary. "In Finland we have very good laws for corporate restructuring. These enable the continuation of businesses through debt restructuring, which gives a company more time to take care of its financial liabilities," said Saarnio. "I believe that through this program Jolla can turn its business to be profitable in the future. Sailfish OS is a very valuable asset and worth fighting for." Saarnio claims Jolla has several large and small OEMs considering Sailfish OS for their own hardware. He did not suggest how long it might take for Jolla to get its finances back in order, nor when it might re-hire its employees.
Apple has made a fourth beta of iOS 9.2 available to developers and public beta testers alike. The feature list for iOS 9.2 is small. It chiefly updates the Safari View Controller and adds support for AT&T's NumberSync. The beta can be downloaded over the air.
Microsoft today released a wholly new version of its Bing Search application for the iPhone. The app takes advantage of new features in iOS, such as app linking, to improve search suggestions and results. To start, the app now includes generalized, touch-based search tools to more quickly find places nearby, restaurants, movies, and other popular searches in the area. Users can tap to search for these types queries rather than enter text. Deep linking lets Microsoft merge search queries with on-board apps. For example, search results for items such as restaurants and movies will reach into third-party apps, like Fandango, for taking action. Microsoft took pains to improve the experience of searching for media, including movies, books, songs, and videos, as well. Bing for the iPhone is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today revised its Google+ social network to focus on the two areas that garner the most interest among users: communities and collections. The changes are reflected across the web, Android, and iOS apps, which have been stripped down to simpler formats that make it easier to discover and participate in shared interests. Google said almost every aspect of Google+ has been re-imagined so it is quicker and more intuitive to use for posting photos, videos, and links, as well as discussing topics. Google says users will need to opt-in to the revised Google+ on the web. The changes will reach the Android and iOS apps in the near future. Google hopes early adopters will share their feedback about the new Google+ so Google may continue to refine it.
Google today said its mobile search app is better able to grasp the meaning of requests thanks to new language-recognition techniques. Google is now breaking down queries into smaller pieces to understand the semantics behind individual phrases so it can assess the intent behind the larger question. Google says breaking down the requests in this way lets it "traverse the Knowledge Graph much more reliably to find the right facts and compose a useful answer." Google says it is able to build on this to answer ever more complex requests. Voice search already understands superlatives (tallest, shortest), but now recognizes how dates play a role in determining answers and how things relate to one another in time. For example, it is able to put these together to answer questions such as "Who was the U.S. President when the Angels won the World Series?" Google said the improved voice search will reach the Android and iOS mobile search apps in updates over the next few days. Google Search is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Microsoft has dialed back efforts to port Android apps to the Windows 10 platform, reports Windows Central. In April, Microsoft announced plans to allow app writers to port iOS, web, Win32, and Android apps to the Windows 10 platform. The Android tool, called Project Astoria, is an emulator and not an actual port. This means Android apps would run in a software container on Windows devices, rather than on the device natively. Windows Central says Project Astoria forums have been silent for several months and Microsoft hasn't responded to Astoria-focused questions for some time, even to those under NDA. Moreover, recent Windows 10 Mobile Technical Previews have stripped out the Android subsystem. When asked for comment, Microsoft said, "We're committed to offering developers many options to bring their apps to the Windows Platform, including bridges available now for web and iOS, and soon Win32. The Astoria bridge is not ready yet, but other tools offer great options for developers." Microsoft didn't expressly say Project Astoria has been cancelled, but the Android port is clearly no longer a priority. The idea behind all these app-porting tools is to get more apps onto Windows-based handsets. One of the major critiques of Windows mobile phones has been the poor app experience when compared to Android and iOS devices.
Google is offering iOS users a way to beta test a new version of Chrome thanks to Apple's TestFlight service. The iTunes App Store doesn't support true beta testing, and iOS devices cannot install apps from any source other than the App Store. TestFlight, which Apple purchased last year, helps bridge the gap. iPhone and iPad owners interested in beta testing Chrome need to download, install, and register for TestFlight. Once registered, the appropriate Chrome beta download link will be shared through TestFlight. TestFlight typically limits beta testers to just 2,000, but it's not clear if Google will be held to that same limit. The latest Chrome beta adds support for 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, as well as support for more Bluetooth keyboard shortcuts that help with managing tabs and initiating search. It is free to participate in the beta program.
Google is prepared to update the Play Books app in order to make it more compatible with comic books. The revised app chiefly makes changes to navigation, including a new landscape layout that scrolls up and down. Google also intends to curate a selection of comic books to make them more accessible in the Play Store. Google will offer comic book recommendations to readers, as well as tools for maintaining a digital collection of comic books in the order they were published. Google says the new Play Books app for Android will appear in the days ahead. Google plans a similar update for its iOS app down the road. Support for comic books will be available to readers in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa.
YouTube's stand-alone music app is now available for download. The app includes a home tab for recommended artists, as well as user-configurable stations based on individual tastes. The search tool provides unlimited access to videos, tracks, artists, and albums, as well as associated remixes, covers, lyric videos, and concert footage. The basic service is free, but Google says YouTube Music is best enjoyed with YouTube Red, its $10-per-month, ad-free offering. YouTube Red gives YouTube Music users access to offline music, as well as the option to watch videos or listen in audio-only mode. Videos can play in the background when using other apps, and even when the screen is off. YouTube Music is available for free from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store starting today. Google is offering the subscription experience to everyone as a 14-day trial.
Mozilla today made its Firefox browser available to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Mozilla released a preview of the browser in New Zealand in September, but is now offering the Safari alternative to everyone. Firefox for iOS includes private browsing, intelligent search, visual tabs, and cross-device syncing. Firefox is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Yahoo today added messaging to its Android and iOS apps. The instant messaging tool offers threaded conversations, which can be exchanged between users and blogs. The feature is rolling out to users slowly.
Apple today released iOS 9.2 Beta 3 to developers and public testers. The beta operating system further refines the code so it runs smoother. iOS 9.2's biggest feature includes a change to the Safari View Controller, which now supports third-party Action Extensions for pop-up Safari windows. The updated OS also adds support for AT&T's NumberSync calling feature. The beta is free to download and test ahead of the general public release.
Apple today published a beta version of Apple Music in the Google Play Store. The app offers owners of Android handsets Apple's monthly music service. Apple Music includes personalized recommendations, Beats 1 Radio, playlists, and access to iTunes purchases. New customers can trial the service for free for three months, after which it will cost $9.99 for single users or $14.99 for families. Apple says support for music videos is coming soon. The app is the second from Apple for the Android platform, the first being a tool called Switch to iOS to help Android owners move to an iPhone.
Google today said Maps can now be used without an active internet connection. People can download maps for cities, counties, and even entire countries so routing and basic navigation tools will function when there's a poor connection or no connection at all. Offline maps support simple routing between points, but don't support live traffic. Maps will only download regions via WiFi, and will automatically jump to a live version of Maps when it recognizes that there is an internet connection. Google said offline support is rolling out to Android users first, and will eventually be available to iOS users. Google Maps is free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Google recently pushed out a new version of Google Keep for iOS and added a handful of new features in the process. To start, Keep now includes a Today view widget for quickly opening new notes. Notes created in Keep can now be saved to Google Docs, and notes can be more easily shared thanks to the iOS share extension. Google Keep, a simple note-taking and -saving app, is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Walgreens today made it possible for iPhone owners to add their Walgreens Balance Rewards loyalty card to Apple Pay. Walgreens has 85 million Balance Rewards members. Now, when Balance Rewards users make payments at Walgreens stores via Apple Pay, the transaction will automatically record any relevant rewards information associated with the account. Walgreens says members need to add the Balance Rewards card to Apple Pay on a device running iOS 9. Customers can use the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, or Apple Watch to pay for Walgreens transactions, all while receiving any benefits that might be attached to their credit/debit card. Walgreens claims it is the first retailer to add its loyalty program to Apple Pay. Apple added support for loyalty programs to Apple Pay with the release of iOS 9 in September.
Facebook today announced a change to its iOS app that it hopes will help people discover more music. Facebook users will now be able to share Music Stories, which are 30-second snippets from shared songs or albums. Track samples shared from Apple Music, iTunes, and Spotify are streamed directly within the Facebook app, but users can click through to the respective service to stream the entire song or add it to their own library. Facebook said it hopes to add more music services to its Music Story feature over time. Music Story is available in a new version of Facebook for iOS, rolling out today. Facebook didn't say if it is working on a similar feature for the Android Facebook app.
Yahoo today updated Flickr for iOS 9 and added support for 3D Touch. For example, users can now press the app icon on the home screen and see a handful of suggested actions, such as uploading a photo or viewing Flickr notifications. Within the Flickr app, a 3D press will pop open image, folder, or people previews, as well as allow for navigation to neighboring images/folders by sliding left or right. The app also adds support for Spotlight Search, which lets users search for albums, groups, or recently-viewed photos from the search screen. Last, the app gains support for universal links, which makes sharing photos or albums more seamless by opening in Flickr itself rather than the browser. Flickr for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store. The 3D Touch features are limited to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
Google has added several new features to Maps for iOS devices, including proactive traffic alerts. Now, when navigating, Maps will warn iPhone users about upcoming congestion or other traffic issues so they can make alternate plans. Maps now allows iPhone users to add missing businesses using the sidebar tool, as well. Google Maps for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google has updated its Drive app for both Android and iOS devices. The Android version of Drive adds notifications for shared files, as well as the ability to request file access and view files from non-Google accounts. The iOS version adds the ability to set custom messages when sharing files, in addition to earning support for audio file playback an reverse chronological file ordering. Google Drive is free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Apple today made iOS 9.2 beta 2 available to beta testers. The release follows a similar beta made available to developers yesterday. iPhone owners are free to sign up for the public beta program and install the pre-release operating system. Apple said iOS 9.2 beta 2 makes improvements to the Safari View Controller, which can now be dismissed by swiping. The beta brings with it support for AT&T's NumberSync service, as well, which will let iPhone, Mac, iPad, and Apple Watch owners make/receive calls from any of their devices. Like the developer beta, the new public beta also resolves iCloud Keychain and Apple Watch bugs. iOS 9.2 beta 2 is free to download and test.
Microsoft is asking Windows Insiders to give Cortana a whirl on their iOS devices. Cortana is Microsoft's virtual assistant. The company made a beta version available to Android handsets back in August, and now it is the iPhone's turn. Cortana for iOS can be used to track flights and calendar appointments, set reminders and alarms, and monitor packages. Microsoft said testers will not be able to launch Cortana with the "Hey, Cortana" catch phrase, but most other features are intact. Cortana testers will still be able to interact with Siri, Apple's own personal assistant. Cortana for iOS is free to download from Microsoft's Windows Insider community, though interested testers need to complete a questionnaire in order to gain access to the program. Microsoft said it will use feedback from these testers to improve Cortana over time.
Apple today made several beta versions of its various operating systems available to developers, including iOS 9.2 beta 2. The iOS 9.2 beta resolves a number of problems, such as bugs impacting audio playback via USB, Apple Watch pairing, and iCloud Keychain. Apple also released second betas of tvOS 9.2, OS X 10.11.2, and Xcode 7.2. These betas are intended for developers only. Apple will probably follow the developer iOS 9.2 beta 2 closely with a new variant for its public testing program, but it hasn't yet said when that might happen.
Twitter today said it will no longer use stars to indicate Tweets that have been favorited. Twitter has long allowed users to favorite individual Tweets by pressing a little star icon. Moving forward, users may like Tweets by pressing a heart icon, instead. "You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite," explained Twitter's Akarshan Kumar. Twitter said the heart symbol transcends most languages and cultures, and is more expressive than stars. Beginning today, Twitter users will see hearts in their Android and iOS apps, as well as on Twitter.com and in Tweetdeck. Hearts will reach Twitter's Vine soon.
Apple has made available a new Android app called Beats Pill+. The app has the distinction of being Apple's second-ever for the Android platform, following the Move to iOS app released earlier this year. Beats Pill+ is a companion app for the Beats Pill+ Bluetooth speaker. It lets Pill+ owners manage the speaker's battery, control who can access it, rename the speaker, and link up multiple speakers for stereo playback. Apple owns Beats Audio. The Beats Pill+ app is free to download from the Google Play Store. Apple Music, which Apple promised to release for Android this year, is still MIA.
Microsoft today announced a significant refresh of its Outlook mobile email app for Android and iOS devices. Most of the changes center on making the app easier to use. For example, Outlook for iOS more clearly calls out event invitations, and makes flags and attachments easier to spot when scrolling through the inbox. The mail composition screen can now add attachments with one tap. Outlook gains several new features in the calendar portion of the app, such as a more visible "today" button that follows through the calendar as users scroll into the future. The full month view is more easily opened through the day picker tool, and events now list core elements (date, time, location) at the top. Outlook for Android adopts Material Design in a big way, giving the app a feel more native to that of Google's mobile operating system. The email app has a redesigned header, message list, and composition tool that rely on elements of Material Design. The app now supports contact images, and icons are more prominent to help users locate unread or flagged emails. Similar to the iPhone app, the calendar portion of Outlook for Android gains new event cards that prioritize the key information. Many of these changes have been brought over from the Sunrise application, which Microsoft purchased earlier this year. Microsoft said it will continue to add more elements from Sunrise to Outlook over time, but indicated that Sunrise has entered its twilight phase. The app will be retired at some point down the road. The new Microsoft Outlook for iOS is available today, and the Android version will follow in early November.
Skype today made video messaging more creative thanks to the addition of filters. iPhone, iPad, and Android users can now apply a range of different filters to their video messages to create fun effects. Skype for the iPhone, in particular, gains support for Force Touch, including peek and pop actions for initiating calls/messages, searching, and previewing conversation threads. Skype for iOS also now makes it easy to hide and delete chats from your recent conversations, as well as quickly share contact cards. Skype is free to download from the Google Play Store and Android App Store.
Apple today made available the first beta release of iOS 9.2. This beta is intended for developers. Apple hasn't yet released iOS 9.2 in beta through the public channel, though it probably will soon.
JPMorgan Chase plans to launch a competitor to Apple Pay and Android Pay that will allow cardholders to make payments with their smartphones. Chase Pay is expected to debut on Android and iOS devices soon, though the company won't market it aggressively until next year. In its favor, Chase has signed a deal with the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), a group containing some of the country's largest retailers, including Walmart and Best Buy. Many of the MCX retailers have so far shunned Apple Pay, limiting Apple's ability to push into more stores. Chase promised it would cut MCX members' costs if they sided with Chase, and it is also offering higher levels of security for Chase Pay merchants. The financial institution hopes to see merchants offer their own customers benefits for using Chase Pay rather than rival mobile payment services. Chase cardholders may continue to use Apple Pay, which Chase still supports. Chase has not yet added support for Android Pay and Samsung Pay, however, both of which launched in the last month or so. JPMorgan Chase is the country's largest bank and counts about 94 million credit and debit cards.
Facebook today said it is rolling out redesigned mobile notifications for its Android and iOS apps. Moving forward, people will be able to add important information to their notifications, all of which can be viewed in a single place in Facebook. The refreshed notifications tools let users tweak birthdays and other live events, sports scores and TV reminders, and details about future events to which they've RVSP'd. Facebook is taking it a step further by enabling location-based notifications, such as those concerning local events, weather, movie times, points of interest, and nearby restaurants. Facebook say users' current notifications settings will not be changed; rather, users simply have more options for personalizing notifications to suit their needs. The new feature is being made available to U.S. slowly over the next dew weeks.
AT&T today unrolled a new program that will reward customers who engage in certain activities with extra mobile data. Customers can participate in surveys, sign up for subscriptions, or shop from their phone and earn Data Perks. Perks are rewarded in 25MB increments. AT&T will allow customers to transfer up to 1GB of Perk data to their wireless account for use in a single billing period. Perk rewards are managed through a separate account and app for Android and iOS devices. As consumers participate in activities, they'll earn more Data Perks. Customers can tap into their banked Perk data any time, but once data is transferred from the Perk account to their wireless account, the mobile data expires at the end of the current building period. Customers can bank an unlimited amount of data in their Perk account, which will remain available for at least 12 months after it is earned. Data Perks can be shared across Mobile Share Value plan members. AT&T says some of the companies offering perks include Fandango, Hotel Tonight, and Rosetta Stone. More will join over time. AT&T offers other incentives for customers, such as its Plenti points-earning program. AT&T created Data Perks with partner Aquto.
ESPN today said it has removed all its content from YouTube following the announcement of YouTube Red, a for-pay subscription service that allows ad-free viewing. ESPN's YouTube channel is now devoid of videos. "ESPN is not currently part of the Red service. Content previously available on the free YouTube service will be available across ESPN digital properties," said ESPN in a statement. Disney, ESPN's parent company, does have an agreement with Google to participate in Red, but the companies did not fully explain ESPN's departure from the service. YouTube Red costs $10 per month and will reach Android and iOS devices next week.
BlackBerry today made the Priv, its first Android smartphone, available for preorder. The device is a vertical slider that includes a touchscreen and a physical QWERTY keyboard. Like the BlackBerry Passport, the Priv's keyboard can be used to move the cursor around and scroll through web sites, emails, and documents. The Android operating system includes exclusive BlackBerry apps and DTEK for managing privacy. DTEK gives owners granular control over device permissions and what personal data is shared with third parties. The phone includes BlackBerry Hub for managing email, BBM, text messages, and other communications. The Priv has a 5.4-inch quad HD screen with curved edges. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 808 processor with two cores at 1.8GHz and four cores at 1.2GHz. The processor is accompanied by an Adreno 418 GPU, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. The camera has an 18-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.2, optical image stabilization, two-tone LED flash, and HDR, panorama, and burst modes. It can capture 4K video. The user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel camera with wide-angle selfie mode. The Priv packs an integrated 3,410mAh battery, which supports rapid charging and provides more than 22 hours of mixed user. Wireless radios include Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, NFC, WiFi, and LTE (AT&T/T-Mobile). The phone costs $699 and will begin shipping Nov. 6.
Facebook today is pushing an update to its search tool in order to make topics and conversations easier to find. The tool expands beyond the borders of users' immediate friends and family, and will search through all of Facebook to see what people are saying about any given subject or event. Search FYI makes several core changes. First, it will include better, more personal search suggestions based on the user's entire circle. Search results will now deliver public posts, as well as posts from friends, that are organized by topic so the main storyline is evident. Last, when a specific link is shared widely across Facebook, users will be able to search for and join any public conversations related to the link. People will only be able to see posts shared directly with them, or those that are made public. Users will still be able to limit the audience for their posts however they wish. Search FYI is being added to the Android and iOS mobile apps, as well as Facebook on the web.
Instagram today released Boomerang for Android and iOS, an application that stitches together a burst of photos to create moving images. The app automates most of the creation process; users need only press the shutter button. Boomerang works in portrait or landscape orientations and can easily share Boomerang loops to Instagram and other social networks. Instagram itself can already create longer looping videos, and Instagram offers a time-lapse app called Hyperlapse and a collage app called Layout. Like Hyperlapse and Layout, Boomerang is separate from the main Instagram app and is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Sprint today said Apple's iOS 9.1 system update enables single-number calling across Apple devices when connected to WiFi. With iOS 9.1 installed, Sprint's iPhone customers will be able to make/receive calls from their primary number on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, or Mac computer. Sprint says the feature requires several steps to enable. Customers must install the latest OS on each device; sign in with the same Apple ID across devices; initiate WiFi calling on the primary device; and assign secondary devices to the account. Calls made over WiFi don't count against plan minutes or mobile data allotments. The feature is free to use. Apple distributed iOS 9.1, watchOS 2.0.1, and Mac OS 10.11.1 earlier today.
Apple today made the final build of iOS 9.1 available to the general public. iOS 9.1 brings aboard support for Unicode 7.0 and 8.0, which adds more than 150 new emoji. The update provides a fix for Live Photos on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, which will no longer record video when it senses vertical movement of the iPhone itself. iOS 9.1 also smooths out performance and resolves a number of bugs. iOS 9.1 is free to download.