iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Google has updated the Android and iOS YouTube apps with support for 60 frame-per-second video playback. The higher frame rate is already supported via desktop browsers. YouTube is free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Facebook today said its Messenger-based, peer-to-peer mobile payment service is now available to everyone across the U.S. It was initially tested in New York City earlier this year. Messenger users need only add their MasterCard- or Visa-backed debit card to pay anyone else on Messenger. Money goes straight from the sender's checking account to the recipient's checking account. Sending money is free of transaction charges. Facebook says users can set up PINs to protect the service, and Apple device owners will be able to use TouchID to secure it. Sending money is possible from the Android, iOS, and web versions of Messenger.
Apple today made available iOS 8.4, a system update for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch that installs Apple Music. Apple Music is Apple's new streaming music service and is part of an all-new Music app for iOS devices. The service is being offered for free on a trial basis for three months, after which it will cost $10 per month for individuals or $15 per month for families. Apple Music offers unlimited, ad-free streaming and access to Beats 1, Apple's global radio station. iOS 8.4 also makes improvements to iBooks application, and resolves some performance issues. iOS 8.4 is free to download and install.
Google has refreshed its Hangouts app for the iOS platform and given the messaging service a new look and feel. The app now makes use of Google's Material Design and gains a new quick compose button for starting conversations. The app improves how it handles emoji, the camera, and the photo gallery. Hangouts now lets people send more than one photo at a time. Google says it also took care of some bugs and made some performance improvements. Hangouts is free to download from iTunes.
Facebook has updated the photo uploader in its iOS app and given users the ability to make creative edits as they go. The new uploader lets people preview and apply filters by swiping left and right, easily add text, and plaster images with stickers from the Facebook sticker store. The feature is not yet widely available, but it has appeared for a number of users. The new editing tools aren't yet available in the Facebook app for Android and it's not clear when they might show up. They are accessible from a tray of tools positioned at the bottom of the photo uploader screen.
Apple will distribute iOS 8.4 beginning at 8AM/11AM Pacific/Eastern on June 30, according to Apple Music Senior Director Ian Rogers. The updated operating system installs Apple Music, Apple's monthly music service. The service will be available for free on a trial basis for three months, after which it will cost $10 per month. June 30 also marks the launch of Beats 1, Apple's global radio station. iOS 8.4 will work with most iOS devices.
BlackBerry today pushed out an update to the Android, BlackBerry, and iOS versions of its BBM app and added several new features. The main new addition is a private chatting mode that strips conversations of names and profile pictures. Private conversations are also ephemeral and will disappear after a short while. The Private Chat tool is in the new Privacy and Control Subscription, which costs $0.99 per month. It also includes timed messages and timed pictures, and the ability to retract and edit messages and pictures. The Privacy and Control Subscription replaces the Timed and Retracted Messages Subscription. BlackBerry says existing subscribers will be transitioned over to the new service automatically. Other new functions include a new way to organize sticker collections and a "quote messages" tool for referencing previous messages. Last, the iOS version of BBM has updated font rendering. BBM is free to download from the Play Store, BlackBerry Store, and iTunes App Store.
Google today released an update to its Calendar app for iOS devices. To start, the app has a new 7-day view that gives users a glance of their weekly schedule, and now lets people more easily customize their weekly view. The app now lets people insert files from Goole Drive, such as Docs, Sheets, PDFs, or photos, as well. Calendar will make sure all invitees have access to the same set of files. Last, the app gives users the ability to send interactive notifications to other event attendees. Google Calendar for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Instagram today revealed a new version of its mobile app that introduces two significant changes. First, Instagram has reimagined the "explore" function to better reflect trending stories, conversations, and news. The explore function will now highlight things happening in real time, such as popular events. Second, Instagram has improved the search function to make it easier for people to find images of specific places. Search is also better at sifting through individual people as well as hashtags. Instagram believes the two changes together will improve the ability of users to find new and engaging content. Instagram 7.0 for Android and for iOS is due out later today. The app is free to download.
Google today updated its Google Music product to include free, ad-supported radio stations. The streaming radio service is offered at no cost and has a number of pre-set stations and mixes. Google says many of its stations are hand-curated and developed by the team at Songza, which Google purchased last year. Customers who upgrade to the paid version will be able to save their playlists for offline playback, as well as save up to 50,000 songs in their own library. The paid version does not include ads and costs $10 per month. Google said its free radio service will reach the web today and Android and iOS devices through an app update in the coming days. Google's new music model mirrors that of other streaming services that provide ad-supported playback for free and premium features to paying customers.
Twitter is testing new ways to surface content about locations and products that might interest users. First, it is experimenting with a feature called Place and Product pages. Twitter says these pages will feature images and video about places or products, including descriptions, web links, and purchasing options. The social network said it will display these details above tweets pertaining to that particular place or product. In addition to Product and Place pages, Twitter is testing other ways for users to connect with brands. It is letting a select bunch of "influencers" create collections of products and places they like and then share those collections with the broader public. The collections, mostly from celebrities, retailers, TV channels, and news organizations, can be accessed from the Twitter profile of whatever entity created the collection. Twitter is starting with a limited number of place and product pages and celebrity collections and will expand over time based on their success. Twitter said these changes will reach Twitter.com and the Android and iOS apps (via update) soon.
Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri said the company will tackle the mobile phone industry again once its non-compete clause with Microsoft expires next year. Nokia no longer owns any manufacturing facilities and will not make its own phones. The company did something similar with an Android-based tablet it released in December. "We will look for suitable partners," said Suri in an interview with the German magazine Manager Magazin. "Microsoft makes mobile phones. We would simply design them and then make the brand name available to license." Microsoft bought Nokia's handset business in 2014 for $7.2 billion. Just this week, Microsoft reshuffled its executive deck and removed two former leaders from Nokia, Stephen Elop and Jo Harlow. Neither Elop nor Harlow has said what their next steps will be. Microsoft's Windows Phone platform and Lumia-branded handsets continue to struggle in the market against Apple's iOS and Google's Android. The company is releasing a new mobile operating system, Windows 10 Mobile, this fall. Suri did not say if Nokia will use Android, Windows Phone, or some other platform for its future devices.
Twitter today said it will begin playing videos, GIFs, and Vines embedded in tweets automatically on the web and in the Android and iOS mobile apps. Users can choose to have videos play automatically all the time, only when on WiFi, or only when tapped by the user. By default, video sound will be off. Users who want to hear the the sound in any given video need only tap the video, which will expand and begin to play sound. Videos can also auto-rotate if the phone is turned on its side. The new auto-playing video feature will reach the web and iOS app today, with the Android app to follow in the near future.
The NFC Forum today provided an update to the core NFC specification. The update includes two new specifications and two new candidate specifications. The RTD Device Information 1.0 spec helps devices better identify one another and the NFC Analog Technical Specification 1.1 makes improvements to the analog characteristics of the RF interface. The NFC Logical Link Control Protocol Candidate Specification 1.3 provides greater security in peer-to-peer messaging. Last the NFC Controller Interface Candidate Specification 2.0 adds new RF interface extensions for optimized and scalable P2P and memory tag communication. This allows NFC devices to communicate with a broader range of devices and tags. The NFC Forum said the technical details can be downloaded from its web site. The candidate specs will remain will remain candidates pending feedback from Forum members and other standards organizations. NFC radios are often used in phones to initiate Bluetooth pairing or conduct mobile payment transactions.
Facebook today announced a new application called Moments. The app is meant to help people share photos privately with others -- even if they don't use Facebook. It lets multiple people combine their photos to create albums of shared events, such as weddings, graduations, or parties. The app uses location data and facial recognition software to determine which of the user's friends are in the photos, and then shares the collection with them privately. The recipient can choose to share their own photos with the first person to create a larger album of the event. Facebook says the app keeps all the photos synced and organized, and includes search functions for finding your friends' faces faster. Moments was conceived in Facebook's Creative Labs. It is being launched in the U.S. on Android and iOS today, with other regions to be added over time. Moments is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Google today unveiled YouTube Gaming, a dedicated video service that will focus on gamers. The site will have its own search algorithms so results focus on games. It will feature landing pages for games, and allow uses to upload their gameplay (similar to Twitch, which was bought by Amazon earlier this year). Google said it will ensure it is easy to upload and broadcast gaming content, will reduce latency, and plans to allow for highlight clips and other features. YouTube Gaming will be available later this summer on the web and as Android and iOS apps.
Google today rolled out an update to its Slides app for mobile devices that makes it more compatible with TVs. First, the Android version gains support for Chromecast. This means Android users can push presentations from their device to a Chromecast-enabled TV. Second, the iOS version of Slides gains support for AirPlay, which works with the Apple TV. The idea is to make it easier to use Google Slides for presentations. Google Slides is free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store.
ROK Mobile today re-launched in the U.S. as a service available to anyone. The MVNO first got off the ground in July 2014, but required an invitation. ROK says anyone in the U.S. can now join its service. What sets ROK Mobile apart is that it bundles wireless and music streaming services together for $49.99 per month. For that, users get 5GB of LTE 4G, unlimited calling and messaging, and unlimited access to ROK's 20 million tracks. The music service lets users create radio stations, personalize playlists, explore music based on moods and preferences, and streaming is ad-free. The company claims to offer a cost advantage over competing music services such as Spotify and Rdio because the cost is bundled into the wireless plan. For now, users will need to supply their own Sprint or T-Mobile compatible handset. The service works on Android and iOS through ROK's application. ROK Mobile said it will have news regarding its own handset offering in the near future.
Google hopes the public will help it make Google Voice better. The company this week has asked people to fill out a survey on how they use the service and how it does or does not meet their needs. Google said any feedback it receives can be used to improve Google Voice and prioritize its features. The survey will take about 10 minutes. Google Voice has languished in recent years. The service, available to Android and iOS devices, lets users pick their own phone number and make calls and send messages from most any phone.
T-Mobile today said its wireless network will support the continuity feature that's part of iOS 9. Apple already allows devices (iPhone, iPad, Mac) operating on the same WiFi network to send/receive calls and iMessages. For example, someone using their Mac at home can answer an incoming voice call on their computer rather than iPhone. With iOS 9, this continuity feature is being extended to cellular networks. This means a person who leaves their iPhone at home will still be able to send/receive calls and messages from their other Apple devices as long as they have a cellular network connection. T-Mobile said it will support the feature for those testing iOS 9 beta, and will support it for all users when Apple releases the final version of iOS 9 later this year. T-Mobile's competitors will likely also support the feature, but they haven't yet publicly said so.
Microsoft today improved login security for its Android and iOS Outlook email applications. Moving forward, Outlook will use something called Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL)-based authentication for Exchange Online mailboxes in Office 365. Microsoft says this replaces the basic authentication method previously used. The change also brings OAuth support to Office 365 accounts and alters the technical handshake Microsoft's apps use to verify account holders as they move between them. Though the improved security is mostly meant to help companies better manage their employee email and productivity access, everyone who uses Office 365 will have a more secure login. Microsoft said all Office 365 users will be prompted to re-enter their login credentials over the next week. This will trigger the new ADAL sign in and convert accounts from basic authentication to OAuth. The Outlook apps themselves do not need to be updated.
Google recently provided an update to its Maps app for iOS that adds the ability to send places from Maps on a desktop to an iPhone. The feature, which has been available to Android phones for several months, requires iPhone owners to enable notifications for Maps. In addition to sending places from desktop to mobile, the update also lets iOS users edit business hours and view photos of their saved places. Google Maps for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Instagram has redesigned its mobile and desktop web sites, placing a greater emphasis on the photos. Images are now much larger on the site, which will display users' image feed when they sign in with their account. The design does away with the out-dated motifs of the outgoing site and has a more modern, minimalist appearance. People can scan for hashtags as well as perform searches. Instagram is owned by Facebook and has mobile photo-sharing apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.
Vine today pushed out a minor update to its iOS app that makes searching more effective. Results now include Vine videos in addition to hashtags and people. Vine is owned by Twitter. It's free to download from the App Store.
Apple has made iOS 8.4 Beta 4 available to developers for testing. The latest iOS 8 beta adds a new version of the music application ahead of Apple Music's debut later this month. The music app itself has been fully revised and will include the Apple Music service once it launches. The app has a redesigned Now Playing screen, a new mini player, and shows more imagery in the artist section. Users can do more with their playlists, and the search function has been improved to make discovering music in iTunes Radio easier. Apple said iOS 8.4 and Apple Music will be available in their final form on June 30.
Apple's iOS 9 operating system will require some device users to upgrade their passcode from four digits to six. There are only 10,000 possible passcodes using four-digits, which means it is possible for hackers to break in using a brute force attack in mere hours. By adding two digits, iOS 9 ups the possible number of passcodes to 1 million. This dramatically increases the amount of time it would take hackers to force their way into an iOS 9 device. This new security requirement will affect the iPhone 5s, 6, 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad Mini 3. iOS 9 is expected to arrive in the fall.
Apple revealed a new app meant to help people switch from Android devices to iOS devices called Move to iOS. The app can be used to transfer contacts, message history, photo/videos, browser bookmarks, email accounts, calendars, and music from Android handsets to an iPhone. Apple says Move to iOS can also help rebuild app libraries by suggesting which ones to download from the iTunes App store. The Move to iOS app was announced along with iOS 9. Apple did not say when it will become available for download.
Apple today announced Apple Music, its new streaming music service. In addition to streaming the entire iTunes catalog, the service includes curated playlists. Apple Music Connect allows artists - large and small - to share with fans through a variety of media, including photos, short clips, and videos. Connect integrates with Facebook and has its own social features. A global radio station called "Beats 1" is also included. A section of the app is devoted to new music. Apple bought Beats - which had its own, similar streaming music service with curated playlists - one year ago. The app requires iOS 8.4. The service will cost $9.99 per month, or $14.99 for a family of up to six people. It will be available first on iOS, starting this month, followed by Android this fall. The first three months are free.
Apple today announced that the public will be able to install a beta version of iOS 9 on their iPhones and iPads in July. Developers have access to an earlier version starting today. The final version of iOS 9 will be a free download this fall. iOS 9 will also be the first version of iOS that doesn't increase system requirements; it will run on every Apple device that was able to run iOS 8. iOS 9 includes improved battery life, Maps with transit directions, a new News service, a more powerful Notes app with photos and sketches, a smarter Siri voice assistant, deeper search features, and split-screen multi-tasking on iPads.
At WWDC today, Apple announced that the new version of CarPlay coming with iOS 9 will support wireless connections, no longer requiring a wired USB connection between the phone and the car. The new CarPlay also supports different display shapes and higher-resolution displays.
Apple's iOS 9 will boost iPhone battery life in two ways. A new low-power mode can be switched on to extend battery life up to three hours, according to the company. Additional under-the-hood changes improve battery life one hour in typical usage scenarios, in all modes.
Apple today announced that Apple Maps in iOS 9 will support transit information and directions. The update supports multi-modal trips, including walking, subway, and ferry segments. Transit information includes next train times and exact station entrance/exit locations. At launch, supported cities include New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Baltimore.
Apple today announced that Apple Pay in iOS 9 will support store loyalty/rewards cards, starting with Walgreens and Dunkin Donuts. Apple is also adding support for store-brand credit cards. Apple is also renaming the Passbook app to "Wallet". Apple also announced that Square has new payment terminals that support Apple Pay. In the US, over 1 million locations will support Apple Pay by next month. Apple also announced the expansion of Apple Pay to the UK next month, including 250,000 retail locations and the London transit system.
Apple today announced that iOS 9 will include a new version of its Siri voice assistant that's both smarter and more proactive. The new Siri can respond intelligently to commands such as "show me my photos from Utah" and "remind about this web page when I get home". Siri also includes proactive visual suggestions integrated into a new search tool that lives to the left of the main home screen (like older versions of iOS.) The new search tool also includes an API allowing apps to expose in-app content to the iOS system search tool. Siri can also sift through email and act on event invitations (much like Gmail) to automatically add events to the calendar, prompt when it's time to leave, and suggest driving directions. It also attempts to link incoming call phone numbers with contact info in email, to provide richer contact info on incoming calls.
Apple's annual developer conference kicks off today and lots of news is in store. The company is expected to show off iOS 9, as well as improvements to Mac OS X, and Apple Watch OS. Follow Phone Scoop's liveblog for all the news.
Facebook today altered the way it handles location sharing within Messenger. Previously, Messenger allowed users to set their location-sharing status to on or off. Now, it provides more granular controls. Users can choose to share their location directly with message recipients through new, and more specific tools. For example, people can search for basic locations, such as cafes or restaurants, and send those coordinates to recipients. Alternately, users can send maps of their exact location to others. Facebook says users now have "full control" over when and how they share their location information. Location details can be sent as a separate message even if the sender has not yet arrived at the indicated spot. Facebook says Messenger will not see users' location data unless it is actively shared, and the app will not suss out users' location in the background. Messenger is free to download for Android, iOS, and Windows devices.
Yahoo today said it plans more cuts to its product lineup in the interest of focusing on core businesses. To start, Yahoo will no longer support Yahoo Mail in the built-in iOS mail app for devices running iOS 4 and older. Yahoo said Yahoo Mail will still be available via Safari on older iOS devices, but not in the native email app after June 15. Further, Yahoo will can Yahoo Maps June 30, will cease supporting contact sync on older Mac computers June 15, and will shutter Yahoo Pipes August 30. Last, Yahoo will cut some of its international media properties, such as Yahoo Music in France and Canada, and Yahoo Movies in Spain. Yahoo has taken an aggressive approach to cutting businesses that underperform. Yahoo said making these changes will help it improve its performance across its main businesses.
Nokia today updated its HERE Maps products for the Android, iOS, and Windows Phone platforms simultaneously. Nokia says there are "millions of changes" to the maps, but calls out a few specifics. To start, several countries in Africa have much more accurate road maps and can now support navigation between points. In the U.S. and other regions, Nokia has worked to more accurately depict where train and subway lines run. HERE Maps no longer simply connects the stations with straight lines; instead, transit lines are shown exactly as they run along the ground. Nokia said it also improved its business-grade maps product for corporate customers. Nokia said customers should update the main map app, as well as any countries they may have downloaded for offline access. Nokia HERE Maps is free to download from the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store, and Windows Phone Store.
Boost Mobile today announced the launch of BoostTV. BoostTV is a video service that offers limited content for free. The video is streamed over Boost's network. Boost is also offering a premium $10 add-on called BoostTV Live Sports. The sports package provides access to a handful of extra channels, including AyM Sports, Azteca America, BeIN Sports, BeIN Sports en Español, Fightbox, Latin American Sports, and TyC. The package also provides access to live soccer matches, such as the upcoming Copa America. BoostTV is available to the HTC Desire, LG Tribute, Motorola E, and the Samsung Galaxy Prevail LTE, Galaxy S5, and Galaxy S6. Boost Mobile said more handsets will be supported over time. The BoostTV app itself is free to download from the Google Play Store. Sprint is offering the same Live Sports TV service to its regular, postpaid customers, too. It is available to most Android and iOS smartphones sold by Sprint.
Soon after announcing its new mobile payment service called Android Pay, Google set about clarifying its position on Google Wallet moving forward. The company is working on a new version of Google Wallet that's set to arrive later this year. According to Google, it intends to let the service live on for making peer-to-peer payments. "The new app will allow anyone with a U.S. debit card to send and receive money for free within minutes -- even if the other person doesn't have the app. The money you receive can either be directly sent to your bank account or it can be spent in stores using the Google Wallet card," explained Google in a blog post. Google said the revised Google Wallet app will be made available to Android and iOS devices, and can be accessed from the web. Android Pay, on the other hand, powers tap-and-go mobile payments at 700,000 retail locations around the country. Android Pay began life as Softcard/Isis and was developed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Google purchased Softcard's assets from the carriers in February. Like Apple Pay on the iPhone, Android Pay requires NFC and an associated credit card in order to make payments. Google said it will have more details regarding Google Wallet in the months ahead.