iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Facebook today gave Messenger users access to new holiday-themed stickers and photo tools. A minor update to Messenger for both Android and iOS devices adds new sticker packs, snow globe chat heads, and a New Year's Eve selfie frame. Facebook is also offering a lightweight app from Creative Labs called Stickered. It lets people add stickers to photos for light-hearted mashups. Stickers for Messenger would reach the Play Store today and the iTunes App Store in the days ahead. Facebook said the update to Messenger also makes some improvement tweaks, including faster performance. Facebook Messenger is free to download from the Play Store and App Store.
Yahoo today pushed out updates to its Weather app for both the Android and iOS platforms. According to Yahoo, the revised app brings with it more live weather graphics, such as fog, rain, heat, snow, lightning, and frost, to the Android app. Yahoo says "instead of reading about the stormy conditions, you'll actually see lightning flash across your screen." The iPhone app has been more fully optimized for the screen sizes and resolutions of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Yahoo Weather is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Facebook today said it has updated the Rooms app for iOS devices to version 1.2. The update claims to make it easier for users to discover new Rooms to join. An 'explore' button lets users scan through Rooms and enter those that appeal them. Rooms are confined spaces that are specific to certain subjects or topics. Facebook hasn't said if or when it will expand Rooms to other platforms.
Google recently updated the Google Drive app for both the Android and iOS platforms. The Android version gains support for Google Now-style voice search to help find files. Both versions gain support for a wider range of imported file formats. The iOS version can now upload files to Drive from more apps across iPhones and iPads. Google Drive is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Instagram today pushed out an update to the Android and iOS versions of its mobile photography application. The app adds five filters, the first new ones to appear in several years. The filters are named Aden, Crema, Ludwig, Perpetua, and Slumber. Beyond the filters themselves, Instagram now allows users to manage the filters. Users can rearrange the order in which the filters appear, as well as hide filters they don't like. Instagram for Android and iOS is free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
Google recently made some significant improvements to its Google Wallet app for the iPhone. To start, the app adds a bill-splitting feature. According to Google, users can add the people with whom they want to split a bill, choose how to divide it, and send each person a request for their share of the total. Wallet for iOS also adds support for Touch ID, which will allow users to open the app and make purchases using their fingerprints. The app now supports the native screen resolutions for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and lets users see their loyalty cards even when offline. Google Wallet for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Opera today announced Coast 4.0, a new version of its browser for the iPhone and iPad. According to Opera, the idea behind the new browser is to make it easier for iOS device owners to find content. For example, it introduces the Discover feature, which helps users find stories and news from all over the internet. It uses Opera Turbo Compression to reduce the size of web pages as they transit networks and deliver them to devices faster. A new sharing button makes it simple to push content in the browser to social networks. Last, the app adds compatibility with iOS 8's continuity tool, which allows Coast users to browse on one device and pick up right where they left off on another device thanks to web session syncing. Opera's Coast 4.0 for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
BlackBerry today made BBM 2.0 available to the Windows Phone platform. The updated app is now more in line with the Android, BlackBerry, and iOS versions of BBM thanks to several new features. For example BBM for Windows Phone now includes timed messages (which expire after they're seen/read) and message retraction (for recalling unread messages). BBM for Windows Phone also added a wide number of stickers for enlivening conversations. BBM 2.0 for Windows Phone is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
BlackBerry today pushed out BBM 2.6 to the Android and iOS platforms, as well as its own BlackBerry platform. All three versions of the app gain new features, including support for stickers within group chats and a 60-second option for time chats. The Android version of BBM tackles Android 5.0 Lollipop and adds landscape mode. BBM for iOS 8 adds compatibility with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus screens. BBM for BlackBerry OS now lets users share multiple pictures and attachments at the same time. BBM 2.6 is free to download from the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store, and BlackBerry World.
Google today updated Google Search for iOS devices. Google refreshed the application with its Material Design language, which has been optimized for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus with bigger photos. As far as new features go, iOS users will be able to see their most recently visited pages more easily, start new searches with a single tap thanks to the new search button, and explore nearby places and points of interest thanks to Google Maps integration. Google Search is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple and IBM have followed through on an announcement made earlier this year and delivered a range of mobile applications aimed at large businesses. The IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps rely on IBM's cloud services, which bring data and analytics tools to enterprise users of Apple's iPhone and iPad. Apple and IBM are targeting select verticals first, including banking, retail, insurance, financial services, telecommunications, government, and airlines. The apps are secure, embedded with analytics tools, and have deep hooks into enterprise processes. According to Apple and IBM, the apps can be customized for any type of business, as well as managed and upgraded thanks to IBM's cloud services. The companies said more apps, targeting a wider range of business types, are still under development and will be released in the future.
Microsoft today expanded the availability of its MSN-branded apps beyond Windows Phone, adding them to the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store. The apps, which have evolved on the Windows Phone platform this year, include MSN Food & Drink, MSN Health & Fitness, MSN Money, MSN News, and MSN Sports. These five are available to both Android and iOS today. The MSN Weather app is available to Android today, too, and will be available to iOS soon. Of note, Microsoft said its MSN Health & Fitness app makes use of Apple's HealthKit tools, which will allow iPhone owners to track steps and other fitness goals. Microsoft has targeted Android and iOS aggressively this year with its own applications and services, including MS Office, its core productivity suite, and other utilities such as OneNote and OneDrive. All the apps are free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Nokia today made its HERE Maps product more visible to Android device owners by adding it to the Google Play Store. Nokia has offered HERE Maps to Android devices in beta form since October, but only from its own web site. Until now, people interested the app needed to sideload HERE Maps. Moving forward, HERE Maps is free to download from the Play Store, though it is still in beta form. HERE Maps allows users to download entire countries or regions, which makes the maps available even when the device is offline. HERE Maps for Android devices include free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. Users can plan routes via car, public transport, or foot. Nokia says maps are available for about 200 countries with turn-by-turn directions available in about 100. Transit maps are available in 750 metro areas across 40 different countries, with more being added all the time. Nokia today also said it has updated its here.com web site, which should perform better on mobile devices. Last, Nokia expects to bring the modern version of HERE Maps to iOS in early 2015.
Facebook today said moving forward it will be easier for people to explore stories from different sources because it is bringing its Trending view to mobile devices. Uses who check the Trending tab will see conversations organized in up to five different sections. The 'Articles' view shows how news sites are covering any given story. The 'In the Story' view will reveal content from those participating in the story. The 'Friends and Groups' view reveals what the user's friends are saying about the story. The 'Near the Scene' view shows posts from people near the breaking story. Last, the 'Live Feed' view provides a real-time stream of all reactions to the story. Facebook will continue to rank posts by engagement, activity, and timeliness. According to Facebook, the new Trending tool is available on its mobile web site and within the Android app beginning today. Trending tools will come to iOS in the near future.
Apple today released iOS 8.1.2, a minor update to its mobile operating system for iPhones, iPads, and iPods. According to Apple, the release includes bug fixes and addresses a problem where ringtones purchased through the iTunes Store may have removed them from devices. The update is small, but still requires WiFi to download and install.
Sprint today said its Boost Mobile and Sprint customers can now purchase eGift cards directly from their smartphones. Sprint added support for eGift cards to the Boost Mobile Wallet and the Sprint Money Express apps. Both apps already let Boost and Sprint customers manage checks, money transfers, payments, and cash from their device. Now, consumers can buy eGift cards from retailers such as Amazon, Babies 'R' Us, JCPenney, and others. eGift cards are sent to recipients via email with personalized messages from the sender. Boost Mobile Wallet and Sprint Money Express are free to download and use. The new functionality will be added to the app through an over-the-air update. Boost Mobile Wallet works on Android and iOS devices, but Sprint Money Express only works on Android.
Pandora today revealed changes to its Android and iOS applications that will make customizing stations and the listening experience easier. The first new feature is the beta release of Pandora's Station Personalization interface, which includes new transitions and animations that make it clearer to users the stations and playlists to which they are listening. Pandora added the Personalization Icon in the top right of the Now Playing screen. Using this tool opens a new Station Details screen that lets listeners view their station history and song/station ratings. Users will be able to rename stations as well as add variety to them. Pandora is also changing the behavior of its thumbs up/thumbs down tool. For example, users can more easily change the thumb rating of a particular song, as well as discover song details from the ratings screen. Pandora said the updated Android and iOS apps will be available from their respective app stores soon.
Microsoft today announced that it has purchased Acompli, a developer of Android and iOS email applications. Microsoft said it will use Acompli and its team to "deliver the full power of Office to mobile devices" via Outlook. Microsoft plans to create cross-platform email apps that support a number of email services so users can focus more an getting things done than on managing their email app. The Acompli email application is highly rated in both the Android and iOS app stores. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Microsoft has made a significant push across competing mobile platforms in recent months, expanding its Office product suite to Android tablets, for example, and making more features available to Android and iOS devices for free.
Twitter today revealed that it will soon begin to analyze the apps Twitter users install on their phones. The company claims the data will be used "to help build a more personal Twitter experience ... so we can deliver tailored content that you might be interested in." Some of those improvements might include who-to-follow suggestions, or adding unsolicited Tweets and other content to users' timelines. Twitter says it is not collecting any data from those other apps, but it is reporting back to Twitter which apps are installed. Twitter says Android and iOS users can opt out of the app tracking by adjusting their settings. Directions to opt out are available on Twitter's web site.
Vine recently updated its Android and iOS mobile apps with push notifications. Moving forward, users can opt to receive alerts when their favorite Vine accounts post new content. Vine is a short-video sharing service. It lets people upload and share six-second videos. Vine is owned by Twitter. The app is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Verizon Wireless today announced the LG GizmoPal, a wearable for children meant to provide parents with peace of mind. The wearable can make and receive phone calls, though only to/from a limited set of numbers. Parents can easily mange the GizmoPal through an app (Android and iOS), and use it to track their child's location throughout the day. The GizmoPal costs $80 and can be added to a More Everything plan for $5 per month. It will be available in select stores Nov. 26 and all Verizon sales channels by Dec. 11. It comes in either blue or pink.
Twitter today revealed a new feature that allows people to send individual tweets to others through direct messages. The feature is being added to both the Android and iOS applications, as well as to Twitter.com. Before today, the only way to share tweets privately was via email or other methods outside of Twitter. Twitter hopes the sharing tool will prevent people from leaving Twitter for other apps. Twitter recently made it possible to send URLs through its direct message tool, as well. It had initially turned off this feature to protect against spam. Twitter also opened its archives for anyone to search. All public tweets stretching back to 2006 can now be discovered.
Motorola today announced the Keylink, a Bluetooth device meant to help the absent minded find their missing keys or phone. The Keylink can be attached to a key ring and is paired with devices via Motorola's Connect application. Once set up, your keys and phone will be able to find one another should either go missing. For lost phones, Keylink owners need only press a button to make their phone ring. Similarly, for lost keys Keylink owners need only open the Connect app to make the Keylink ring. According to Motorola, the Keylink has a range of about 100 feet, and the replaceable battery lasts about a year. The Motorola Connect app is free to both Android and iOS devices. The Keylink is available from Motorola and T-Mobile beginning today for $25.
Apple today released WatchKit, the set of tools developers need in order to create apps for the forthcoming Apple Watch. Apple said developers can create notifications for their apps that appear on the Apple Watch, as well as create Glances (Apple parlance for quick nuggets of app-specific data). The WatchKit tools include programming guides, human interface guidelines, and templates. Apple said that developers will be able to create fully native apps for Apple Watch beginning later next year. The WatchKit developer tools are found within the iOS 8.2 SDK, which is available for download from Apple's developer site beginning today.
Apple today made available iOS 8.1.1, a minor update meant to help improve the performance of the iPhone 4s and iPad 2. The update also resolves some on-going bugs for newer Phones and iPads. It is free to install.
VSCO Cam, a popular third-party camera application for Android and iOS devices, updated both of its mobile apps today. The camera gains a number of new features through the update, such as the ability to sync images across devices, side-by-side filter comparisons, and a web uploader tool. The app also gains a new user interface and claims to take better pictures. The Android version of VSCO Cam is notable in that it makes use of APIs from HTC so it can support separate focus and exposure points. VSCO Cam is available in the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
BlackBerry and Samsung today agreed to sell one another's security software. The joint effort is meant to help Samsung sell more phones and to help BlackBerry win more BES customers. Samsung's Knox security platform is embedded on many of its devices. It can be used to separate work and personal information, as well as secure that data on the device. BlackBerry's BES services allows businesses to remotely manage Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows Phone smartphones. The companies think this partnership will appeal to businesses that want to use Samsung handsets for the Knox platform, but manage them via BES. BlackBerry's enterprise chief John Sims said the deal "isn't about one company displacing the other. This is about one and one makes three." BlackBerry's presence in the smartphone market has been reduced to practically nil in the face of stiff competition from Apple, Samsung, and others, while Samsung has long been making overtures to potential business customers.
YouTube today announced a new way to consume music on Android and iOS devices, as well as the web. YouTube made it easier to find music videos by surfacing them to the top of the search discovery tool. The new YouTube offers smartphone, tablet, and web users the ability to find and play full albums and video playlists on YouTube. YouTube created new pages that display an artist's entire discography and all the videos associated with their music. The corresponding app updates should arrive for Android and iOS soon. These features are being made available to all users for free. YouTube also announced a premium service called Music Key, which offers ad-free playback, as well as the ability to listen to music videos in the background. Music Key costs $10 per month, but YouTube is discounting it for a limited time to just $8 per month. The subscription fee includes access to Google Play Music, which has more than 30 million songs and hundreds of curated playlists and radio stations. Music Key is being offered as a limited beta to start, though YouTube said its availability will expand over time.
FreedomPop today made a free international calling plan available to all Android and iOS smartphones. Smartphone owners need only download the FreedomPop Free Talk and Text app and they'll have access to 100 free voice minutes good for calling 52 countries, including Mexico, the U.K., Canada, China, Hong Kong, Brazil, Argentina, and India. The service will be able to reach as many as 170 countries by the end of the year. People who want more voice minutes can purchase them starting at $5 per month. FreedomPop is also offering customers the ability to obtain an international number to help reduce the cost of calls for friends and relatives who live abroad. For example, a U.S.-based customer could get a local number for Paris, France, which friends and family in France would be able to call at local rates. The international number costs $5 per month. FreedomPop is an MVNO that resells access to Sprint's network, though the Free Talk and Text app works over any internet connection, be it Wi-Fi or another carrier's LTE data network.
Microsoft today announced the Lumia 535, the first phone it has revealed without the Nokia brand since it acquired the company's handset division earlier this year. The 535 is a low-cost smartphone meant for emerging markets. It features a 5-inch qHD display, and two 5-megapixel cameras with one on the front and one on the back. The rear camera has an LED flash. The user-facing camera has the same wide-angle sensor found on the Lumia 735. Both cameras can capture FWVGA video. The phone is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 200 processor with 1GB of RAM. The 535 has 8GB of internal storage, but supports microSD cards up to 128GB. Microsoft will sell the Lumia 535 in single- and dual-SIM variants, but the phone only supports 3G networks (WCDMA at 42Mbps) and not LTE 4G. Other on-board radios include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, and GPS. Like many Lumia phones, the 535 comes in a range of bright colors. It ships with Windows Phone 8.1 and the Lumia Denim system upgrade out of the box. The Lumia will be available in select markets beginning later this month. It is priced at about $135.
Instagram today announced updates to both its Android and iOS applications. The apps add a couple of new features, the foremost of which is the ability to edit the captions attached to photos. Previously, captions couldn't be edited once they were posted. Instagram users will also notice changes to the Explore function, which Instagram says now lets users seek out new people to follow via their photos or via their name. Instagram for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
RadioShack recently launched Defense Mobile, wireless service meant exclusively for members of the U.S. armed forces, their families, and veterans. Defense Mobile resells access to AT&T and Sprint's networks, and offers the most popular devices available, including the Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5. According to RadioShack, Defense Mobile is supported by a 100% veteran-staffed Member Care organization and offers perks to active members of the military. Defense Mobile offers prepaid individual plans that start at $30 per month and family plans with scalable data for up to six lines starting at $110 per month. Defense Mobile includes bonus services for military members, such as a banking application associated with a pre-paid MasterCard, an app that helps military members and their families find veteran benefits, and a free email service that's associated with their branch of the armed forces. Defense Mobile service is available at 2,500 RadioShack locations around the country.
Google today announced several new features its adding to Google Drive for iOS devices. Drive now supports extensions in iOS 8, which means users can more easily share files to and from Drive. The app can now be locked with Touch ID for security purposes. Last, Drive for iOS now allows users to save videos from Drive to their iPhone's camera role. Google Drive for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store and has even optimized for iOS 8.
Microsoft today announced a major expansion of its core Office productivity suite across mobile devices. Microsoft is replacing the limited Office app for the iPhone with three brand new apps, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The apps allow iPhone users to create and edit Office content on their iPhones for free. Microsoft updated the iPad version of these three apps so there is continuity across them on the iOS platform. Further, Microsoft announced a new preview version of Office for Android tablets. This means most people will be able to work with Office documents on their mobile devices at no cost. Previously, Microsoft required a subscription to its Office 365 product. Moving forward, subscribers to Office 365 will have a more robust feature set, including advanced editing and collaboration tools, unlimited OneDrive storage, and Dropbox integration. Last, Microsoft said it is working on a touch-enabled version of Office for Windows 10. The new iPhone and iPad Office apps are free to download immediately. Android tablet owners can sign up for the Office preview beginning today.
Opera Software today updated its Mini browser for the iPhone and iPad. Opera Mini 9 is a big step forward thanks to the addition of Video Boost, which is server-side compression technology that helps reduce the footprint of video as it transits wireless networks. The result, says Opera, is smoother video playback within the Opera Mini 9 browser and reduced data consumption. Opera said it was able to incorporate the Rocket Optimizer engine from Opera's Skyfire division in order to achieve these gains. In order to take advantage of Video Boost, users need to turn on video optimization in Opera Turbo mode under the settings tools. Last, Opera Mini 9 adds new tools for adjusting the Speed Dial feature. Opera Mini 9 for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today revealed a major redesign of its mobile maps app for both the Android and iOS platforms. The app adopts Google's Material Design, which is the basis of Android 5.0 Lollipop's look and feel. This means bright colors and flatter, bolder icons. In addition to the new design, Google Maps has new hooks for making restaurant reservations through Open Table or booking Uber rides, complete with rates and arrival times. Google also created new info cards for locations that are richer in detail and imagery. Google Maps is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Swiftkey and Swype, which are alternate keyboard applications, both provided updates to their iOS apps this week. Swiftkey added four new languages to its keyboard, including Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and Dutch. The app now supports a total of 17 languages, and Swiftkey is working to add mode. It also made a handful of performance improvements related to speed and reliability. Swype pushed out an update to its keyboard, too. The app adds support for 16 new languages, making for a total of 21. The new ones include Czech, Danish, Dutch, UK English, Finnish, Greek, Hinglish, Hungarian, Irish, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, and Turkish. Swype also gains several other features, such as the ability to choose between QWERTY, QWERTZ, and AZERTY keyboard layouts, streamlined emoji prediction, and a new layout for iPads. Both apps require iOS8 and can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft and Dropbox today announced a new partnership that will make it easier for smartphone and tablet owners to remain productive. They have agreed to integrate Office 365 and Dropbox for mobile and online document creation and storage. Android and iOS users will be able to access Dropbox from Office apps to get to their files and folders; edit Office files directly from Dropbox and sync them across devices; and share new or edited files from the Office apps using Dropbox sharing tools. Microsoft said it will update Office for Android and iOS with these new features over the coming weeks. Online sharing between Office and Dropbox won't arrive until early 2015. Interested users will need both an Office and a Dropbox account in order to access these tools. Dropbox will also make its application available on the Windows Phone and Windows tablet platforms in the coming months.
Amazon recently expanded the availability of unlimited online photo storage to all Amazon Prime customers. Before today, this feature was only available to owners of the Fire Phone. With Prime Photos, Android and iOS device owners can automatically upload, store, and access their photos from their smartphone or tablet. Prime Photo users can also access their photos from the web, via Fire TV, or via select smart TVs and gaming consoles. Amazon Prime requires a yearly subscription fee of $99, but also includes reduced shipping charges and access to Prime Music and Prime Video on demand.
BlackBerry today said BBM 2.5 is now available for Android, BlackBerry, and iOS devices. The company first revealed details of the updated messaging service earlier this month. Some of the new features include Timed Messages, which allow users to choose how long a message is visible to the recipient. Another feature, called Message Retraction, allows BBM users to delete messages they've sent from the phones of others. According to BlackBerry, this feature works with text messages only and not those that include pictures. Other updates include a streamlined sticker experience, high-def picture transfer, and music discovery through friends' playlists. BBM 2.5 will be available from the Play Store, BlackBerry World, and iTunes App Store later today.