iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Vine today pushed out an update to its iOS application that should make it easier for people to share videos. To start, users can now upload older videos from the camera roll on their iPhone. Previously, videos had to be shot new within the Vine app. The app also adds a number of new editing functions, such as the ability to duplicate clips, lock focus of either front/rear cameras, and delete the last video captured. Other tools include a level, shooting grid, and support for the flash for shooting in the dark. Vine for iOS is available for free from the iTunes App Store. A similar update should be available to Android devices soon.
Google today published a version of its Photo Sphere app for iOS. The app allows iPhone owners to stand in one spot and capture a 360-degree view of whatever is around them. Photo Spheres can be published to Google Maps or shared with various social networks. Before today, Photo Sphere was only available to Android smartphones (similar apps are already available to iPhones from other companies). Photo Sphere is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
HTC and the Car Connectivity Consortium today announced that a forthcoming software update will make the One (M8) MirrorLink compatible. MirrorLink is a connectivity tool for pairing smartphones and cars. It works across smartphone platforms and car manufacturers, and, according to the CCC, is the only vendor-neutral standard available. With MirrorLink aboard, the One (M8) will be able to connect to select in-car infotainment systems,m allowing drivers to more safely access their phone's content when behind the wheel. It's unclear how many cars currently support MirrorLink, but the CCC hopes with HTC's support more will choose to support it. Apple and Google both recently announced their own connectivity solutions for cars, which are expected to appear in iOS 8 and Android Release L, respectively. HTC said it will add MirrorLink support to mode devices down the road.
Microsoft recently indicated it will cease to support Skype on devices running Windows Phone 7 and Symbian. The company said it will retire the official Skype app for WP7, as well as any ancillary apps that support it over the next few weeks. "We want everyone to experience the best Skype has to offer – from enhanced quality to better reliability to improved security – and the newest version of Skype is the way to do that. So everyone can benefit from the latest improvements, we sometimes retire older versions of Skype across all platforms, including mobile devices," explained the company. Of Symbian, Microsoft said, "Symbian wasn't built for the cloud-connected world, so we are retiring the Skype for Symbian app and focusing on bringing the best possible experience to the most popular mobile platforms: Windows Phone, iOS, and Android." Symbian is Nokia's old smartphone operating system and was among the first to support Skype years ago.
Skype today updated its mobile application for devices running Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 8.1. The new version of Skype makes it possible to send photos to one or more contacts at a time, as well as receive photos from other Windows Phone and iOS devices. Photos shared to desktop or Android machines will instead send a link rather than the actual file. The app also makes it possible to see more chat view history; supports text mark-up (asterisks for bold, etc.); adds favorites to the chat view; and makes several performance improvements. Skype said it continues to work on its mobile app across platforms and hopes to share these features with them soon. Skype is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
Google recently made it possible to connect Google Voice phone calls through Hangouts on the web. When using Google Voice in a desktop browser, the phone tool now lists Hangouts as an option when making calls. Googler Alex Wiesen explained that it works even if the user isn't using Hangouts in Gmail, and it doesn't require a Google+ account. The change does not apply to either the Android or iOS mobile apps. Google Voice has been neglected of late and its future as a Google service is in question. This recent change marks another transitional step for the service, and expands the functionality of Google Hangouts.
Google today rolled out an update for its Gmail app for iOS devices. The update carries over a feature given to the Android app earlier this month: the ability to share files from Google Drive. iPhone and iPad owners can now insert documents from their Drive account into emails as they compose them on their device. The app makes it easy to save email attachments from Gmail to Drive, too. Gmail for iOS allows users to change their Gmail account picture, and those with multiple Gmail accounts can choose which signed-in accounts they want visible in the app. Gmail is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google hopes Android and iOS Maps users will take advantage of a new tool for exploring their surroundings. Google is adding a new button to Maps called Explore, which will tell people what's nearby. According to Google, the tool can be set to show what's as close as a 5-minute walk and what's as far as a 20-minute drive and everything in between. The Explore function doesn't just provide a list of nearby places, it is also contextually aware. For example, it will consider information such as the time of day and the weather so it doesn't send users to shops that are closed or to parks during a thunderstorm. The updated Maps app is being pushed out this week. It is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Skype today announced version 5.0 for the Android platform and added one big feature: the ability to cross-integrate contacts between Skype and the phone. Skype 5.0 can scan the local phone address book for other registered Skype users and will then automatically add them to the Skype app's people list. Skype will also be able to sync the Skype address book with other Microsoft services to make sure it finds and adds all possible Skype users. Android users will be able to turn this feature off if they wish, or pick and choose which contacts are added to Skype. Users' actual phone number will not be shared as part of their public profile. Skype said similar features will soon appear in its apps for other platforms, such as iOS and Windows Phone.
Facebook today announced a new feature that will allow users to save content for later viewing. The tool can be used to earmark links, places, movies, TV, and music. Facebook Save is headed to the web, as well as Android and iOS apps. Users will be able to save content on one platform and view it on another. Saved items will only be visible to the account holder unless they choose to share it with others. Facebook said it will periodically remind users about their saved content if it sits unread. Facebook Save is being rolled out slowly to all users over the next few days.
A new phone accessory allows users to create their own long-range wireless network between two or more phones. The goTenna is a six-inch wand that pairs with a phone via Bluetooth LE. goTennas connect to each other at 151-154 MHz, a frequency low enough to reach up to 50 miles with the 2-watt radio in the goTenna (but more typically, 3-10 miles.) Communication is limited to text messaging and location sharing, via the included app, which is available for both iOS and Android. Messages can be sent an individual, a group, or broadcast to all goTenna users in range. All messages are encrypted. The device is intended for people traveling in remote areas where mobile networks may be unavailable, such as hikers or camping families. The device is dust-tight, water-resistant, and has an integrated nylon strap. It is also useful for large events where the mobile network may become overloaded, such as concerts, festivals, and sports matches. The devices will retail for $300/pair in the fall, but can currently be pre-ordered for half-off, or $150/pair.
Apple and IBM today announced a partnership that will see more business-oriented apps developed for iOS, and IBM selling iPhones and iPads directly to its large corporate customers. The two companies will jointly develop the apps, of which there will be about 100, targeted as various industries. IBM is today primarily a software and services provider, implementing complete IT solutions for large companies.
Google updated Maps for iOS devices today and added a number of new features. To start, search results now appear with descriptions directly on the map, and search results can be easily switched between list and map views. The details of search results are presented on cards similar to those used by Google Now on Android devices. The locations of reservations and appointments culled from Gmail are visible and labeled on maps, and the new explore tool provides users with recommendations based on location and time of day. Google Maps is free to download for the iPhone and iPad.
BlackBerry today followed up on its promise from earlier this year and released a beta version of BlackBerry Messenger for the Windows Phone platform. The app covers the BBM basics, which means it can be used to chat with individuals or groups, as well as share pictures, voice notes, contacts, and location. The app also supports group chats, in which users can discuss shared calendars, files, and photos. BlackBerry said the beta is limited for now ahead of a wider release. The company will work to add features, including stickers, BBM Voice, BBM Channels, and Glympse in future releases. BBM is already available for Android, iOS, and BlackBerry devices.
Google today made Play Games 2.0 available to Android handsets via the Google Play Store. The updated gaming center provides an entirely new profile interface and has otherwise been redesigned. The app offers users far more personalization tools, as well as the ability to interact with gamers using iOS devices. In addition to the Play Games update, Google published a new set of SDKs and APIs for developers so they can take advantage of the changes to Play Games 2.0. Google improved the Google Play Games C++ SDK with more cross-platform support, while the Play Games iOS SDK was updated with support for Quests and Saved Games. Play Games 2.0 will eventually reach most Android devices. Developers can access the new SDKs from the Android developer portal.
Apple today released iTunes 11.3 and discussed new features headed to the iPhone and iPad later this year. iTunes 11.3 adds new support for "extras" that are often available with purchases of HD movies. Extras typically contain interviews, shorts, and other production content associated with movies. Moving forward, extras will be added to prior HD movie purchases automatically. Extras will also become available for viewing on the Apple TV for the first time. Last, extras will be available to devices running iOS 8 when it launches later this year. Apple is currently beta testing iOS 8, which is expected to debut in September or October.
Rok Mobile officially launched today, allowing select invitees to try its music-focused wireless service. Rok Mobile is an MVNO that resells access to Sprint and T-Mobile's 3G and LTE 4G networks. Rok doesn't just provide wireless service, it also bundles in its own streaming music service. Rok charges $50 per month for unlimited voice, messaging, and data in addition to music streaming, downloading, and caching. Rok offers customers access to 20 million tracks and lets people create their own playlists, as well as automatically generate playlists based on crowd-sourced favorites. Interested customers can bring their own device, or purchase an iPhone or Android smartphone from Rok. Rok offers iOS and Android apps to provide access to its music service. Anyone wishing to trial Rok Mobile can request an invitation from its web site.
Vine has updated its Android and iOS applications and added several new features to the video-sharing social network. The app now displays loop counts, which show how many times individual Vine videos have been played by others. Vine refreshed the design of the app, cleaning up the look and making videos larger. Last, Vine redesigned the Activity screen, which now provides more info about account milestones and makes other notifications easier to discern. Vine is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Apple today released a minor update to iOS for iPhones and iPads. The small system jump resolves several bugs and can be downloaded and installed over the air for free.
Google recently said it will yank its Quickoffice app from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store in the coming weeks. Google is making the change because it has published stand-alone Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps for creating and editing documents within its Google Drive service. This change applies to both the Android and iOS versions of Quickoffice. Customers who've already downloaded Quickoffice will continue to be able to use the software, but Google will no longer update the app and new customers will no longer be able to download it.
Google today made good on its promise to release a preview of the next-generation Android platform to developers. The L Developer Preview is available for download from Google's developer web site. It is compatible with the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 (2013 Wi-Fi model). The operating system will need to be installed manually. The preview is not meant for general consumers; it is for developers or others with the technical know-how to install the operating system. Google warns that the preview may not be stable, and may not work properly with all third-party applications. Google is expected to make Android Release L available to consumers in the fall. Google is providing developers with an early look at the operating system so they may prepare their applications. Apple does a similar thing with iOS, releasing successive betas between the time the OS is first announced and when it goes live.
Opera Software today released a brand new version of Opera Mini for the iPhone. The light-weight browser has been redesigned from the ground up and now more closely matches the native user interface of iOS 7. It includes several themes so users can pick the appearance that suits them best. The browser offers three distinct modes for surfing the web. Opera Mini Mode uses server-side compression to crush web sites down by 90% in order to reduce mobile data usage. Opera Turbo Mode uses less compression and offers a more desktop-like browsing experience. Data Savings Off discards the use of compression for full web site compatibility. Opera Mini now has a combined search and address bar, adds a QR reader, makes editing URLs easier with a slide bar, and lets users select their favorite search tool, such as IMDB, Amazon, eBay, and Wikipedia. Opera Mini 8 is available from the iTunes App Store today. It is free.
Google today rolled out updates to its core productivity apps associated with Google Drive. The chief new feature is the ability to edit Microsoft Word documents - online or offline - natively with no need for plugins or conversions. Google Docs users will be able to make whatever edits they need to Word documents and send them back as Word files. Google Drive also brings Slides to mobile devices for the first time. Android smartphone and tablet owners can now create, edit, and interact with slide presentations on their mobile devices. Another new feature is called Suggested Edits. Using a new tool called Commenting Access, document owners can give others the ability to add comments or suggestions to documents, but not the power to make actual edits. This leaves the document owner in control. Last, Google has given Drive a performance boost both on mobile devices (Android and iOS) and the web. Google says Drive now takes advantage of background syncing so files load faster, and the cloud-based storage service delivers search results quicker, too. The new versions of Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides will be available in the Play Store and iTunes App Store beginning today.
Google and Microsoft today indicated they will add theft deterrent tools to their respective mobile platforms. The commitment comes after major cities, including New York and San Francisco, saw significant drops in iPhone thefts during the first few months on the year. Apple added kill switch tools to the iPhone when it introduced iOS 7 last September. Google has yet to spell out the specifics of its kill switch feature, but Microsoft said it will add a kill switch to all devices running Windows Phone 8 and up. The Windows Phone tool will allow owners to: remotely wipe personal data from the phone; render the smartphone inoperable; prevent reactivation without the owner's permission; reverse the inoperability if the phone is recovered; and restore user data if the phone was erased. These functions will be added to Windows Phone's Find My Phone tool. Microsoft said it will have the tool ready before the July 2015 deadline set by the CTIA for implementing such features. Lawmakers have been urging phone makers and carriers to add these tools for well more than a year. The CTIA Wireless Association, which lobbies for the wireless industry in Washington, voluntarily set up a timeline for theft deterrent tools which are to be added to all new phones by next year. The commitments from Google and Microsoft should help speed up those efforts. The long-term goal is to reduce the number of smartphone thefts, which are popular targets due to their value.
Parallels today made it possible for Android smartphones/tablets and the iPhone to remotely access Windows and Apple computers. Parallels previously offered a version of its Parallels Access app to the iPad. Parallels Access lets smartphone/tablet owners log into their home or work PC using Facebook. Once logged in, Android users can launch desktop apps directly on the screen and control them through their phone. A file browser for the iOS variant of the app lets iPhone users browse and open files and apps. Parallels Access supports use of the smartphone's microphone for voice-controlled apps on the desktop machine, and allows users to alter screen resolution for the best performance on their device. The app costs $20 for a one-year subscription or $35 for a two-year subscription, which allows an unlimited number of iPhones/Androids to access and control up to five PCs. Parallels will charge only $30 for a two-year subscription to those who download the app before June 30. Parallels Access requires iOS7 and Android 4.0 and up. It is compatible with Windows computers using Win7, 8, and 8.1, and OS X machines running 10.7, 10.8, and 10.9.
Facebook has pushed out an update to its Messenger application for both Android and iOS and added several new features. The most significant new feature is the ability to record and send 15-second video clips to other Facebook users from within the app itself. This feature is found in competing chat app Snapchat, and will be part of the native messaging app in Apple's iOS 8 when it arrives later this year. The app also makes it easier to share photos and to insert stickers. The iOS version adds "Big Likes," which Facebook says are an even bigger version of its thumbs up graphic. Facebook Messenger for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
Amazon today launched Prime Music, its own streaming music service. Prime Music is free to those who subscribe to Amazon Prime ($99/year), which also offers perks such as discounted shipping and Amazon Instant Video. Prime Music is limited to about one million songs, as Amazon hasn't signed all the major record labels. Spotify, Pandora, and Beats Music each offers more than 20 million tracks. Reuters reports Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and other smaller labels have signed up, but Amazon is still negotiating with Universal Music Group, which is the largest of the labels. Prime Music can be accessed through a web browser, and also via the Amazon MP3 application on both Android and iOS devices. Amazon updated both mobile apps today and added Prime Music, allowing Android and iPhone owners to stream music from Amazon Prime to their device. The apps allow smartphone owners to listen to full albums or playlists, both of which can be added to their online Amazon library of songs. The Amazon MP3 app for Android and iOS is free to download and use, but requires an Amazon Prime subscription to stream Prime Music tracks.
Microsoft today followed through on a promise it made earlier this year to deliver an Android version of its Outlook Web App. Outlook Web App is an email application that offers all the features and functionality of Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync technology. Microsoft released a version of OWA for iOS devices last year. OWA for Android is different from the Outlook.com web mail client that Microsoft already offers to Android devices. Instead, it is a business-class piece of software that allows mobile professionals to choose an Android device and still benefit from Microsoft's email service. Though the app is now available from the Google Play Store, it is only compatible with a very small number of handsets. According to Microsoft, it requires Android 4.4 KitKat or higher, an Office 365 for Business email account, and a device considered to be "small" or "normal" as defined by the Android operating system. Devices and accounts that meet these criteria can download and install Outlook Web App on their Android phone for free.
Skype today announced a major new version of its mobile app will be available to the iPhone beginning next week. Skype 5.0 for iPhone has been rewritten from the ground up, according to Skype, and is the most significant launch for Skype on iOS since the first version of the app. Skype says the new app is five times faster than the old version; offers smooth scrolling within and transitions between conversations; improves group chat support and will deliver messages whether or not users are online; and is better at syncing notifications and read receipts between devices and platforms. Skype says the new iPhone app will be available in about a week, and will be followed with a separate version for the iPad.
A new MVNO called Rok Mobile plans to offer a merged mobile-and-music service when it launches in July. The company is working with two unnamed carriers (one GSM, one CDMA) to resell access to LTE 4G networks, but it will also bundle in its own streaming music service as part of the core offering. Rok has not revealed what its monthly cost will be, but the price will include unlimited voice, messages, and data service in addition to music streaming, downloading, and caching. Rok purchased access to 20 million tracks just last month, and will let people create their own playlists as well as automatically generate playlists based on customer interests. The company intends to sell the Apple iPhone as well as high-end Android smartphones, though it will also encourage potential customers to bring their own handsets. Rok will have dedicated Android and iOS apps for customers, and will also provide access to music via desktop web browsers at some point after launch. Rok's tack is a bit different from Cricket's Muve Music, which added unlimited music for just $5 more per month. Rok Mobile is using music as the centerpiece of its offering, not pitching it as an add-on. Rok plans to launch July 4, and more details should become available at that time.
Instagram today made available new versions of its Android and iOS mobile apps. The improved Instagram gives budding photographers much more control over each image with the addition of new filters and the ability to adjust the strength of each filter. The app further tempts creativity with tools for adjusting brightness, contrast, highlights, saturation, shadows, sharpness, vignettes, and warmth. Instagram also lets users compare the before/after versions of each photo before publishing. The new version of Instagram for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively. Instagram made no mention of updating its Windows Phone app.
T-Mobile today said that, with the arrival of iOS 8, its iPhone subscribers will have access to Wi-Fi calling. T-Mobile has offered other smartphone platforms Wi-Fi calling for years as an alternative for making voice calls in poor cellular coverage areas. Apple introduced iOS 8 earlier today and one of the many new features is support for voice calls over Wi-Fi. iOS 8 won't be available to most people until the fall, but Wi-Fi calling will be available to T-Mobile's iPhone customers as soon as the new operating system from Apple arrives.
Apple today revealed a significantly expanded set of new tools for developers to use for creating iOS apps. The new iOS SDK includes some 4,000 APIs for developers to put to use. Of those, core APIs concern the Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 5s, which will now support third-party apps. Previously, only select Apple-made apps could access Touch ID. New camera APIs will allow developers to do more with their own camera apps and let users access more photo features. The HomeKit API will let Apple devices talk to the myriad different home automation products in the market so people can control their electronic door locks, garage door openers, and other tools from their iPhone. SceneKit will give developers light sources, field forces, and per-pixel physics in their games. A tool called Metal can be used to create 3D graphics while also freeing up system resources. Last, and most importantly, Apple debuted Swift, a new coding language that it promises with be faster and simpler for developers to use. As Apple described it, "Swift is Objective C without the C." Swift works with Cocoa and Cocoa Touch and uses all the same compilers and vectorizers already available within C. iOS 8 is available for developers to download in beta status beginning today.
Apple today said that iOS 8 will support third-party keyboards, such as Swype, through the new extensibility feature of the App Store. Third-party keyboards will function in all apps system-wide if the users permits it.
Apple today outlined a number of changes headed to the App Store that will benefit both consumers and developers alike. The App Store will add a new explore tab, as well as a tool for viewing the top-trending searches and continuous scrolling in the search result screens. The new App Store will support app bundles, so developers will be able to package collections of their apps and sell them to consumers together. Apple is also giving developers the opportunity to beta test their apps through a program called TestFlight. Last, Apple said the iOS 8 SDK will include some 4,000 new APIs for developers to use for creating and enhancing applications. Part of the SDK includes extensibility, which will allow apps to extend the system and offer their services to other apps. Further, developers will be able to add widgets to the notification panel (similar to in OS X Yosemite). These will be able to show dynamic content, such as sports scores. The new iTunes App Store features will be available in the fall, along with the general release of iOS 8.
As part of iOS 8 Apple also introduced HealthKit, a hub and service that can be used to monitor health and interact with healthcare providers. HealthKit works with third-party apps, such as those from the Mayo Clinic, to collect and sync data from iOS devices to the owners' doctor's office. Apple envisions HealthKit as a central repository for all the health apps running on a device. Developers will be able to hook into the service to enrich peoples' ability to track and manage their health.
Apple today announced iOS 8, which the company says will be compelling for both end users and for developers. iOS 8 builds on the design of iOS 7. Notifications are now interactive, which will allow people to respond to emails directly from the notification bar or the lock screen. A new people-tasking function lets users see recently-contacted people by double-tapping the button (works in conjunction with multitasking tool). The mail application now lets users more easily save drafts and return to the inbox, as well as automatically add events to the calendar, and flag, mark-as-unread, or delete messages with single gestures. Spotlight search offers details on apps, news, music, restaurants, and more - both on and off the device. Spotlight also works with Safari to bring better suggestions for searches and web sites. iOS 8 adds a new keyboard with predictive typing suggestions as users peck out text. Apple claims the software is context aware and will suggest phrases or words specific to the contact being messaged. It does not appear that the keyboard adds the ability to swipe words. iOS 8 includes the Continuity features that are part of OS X, such as AirDrop and call/message syncing. The messaging app makes it easy to add recipients to form group conversations, as well as leave group conversations, and share location, images, and videos simply. iOS 8 works with iCloud Drive, Apple's new cloud-based file management system, which syncs folders and files across iOS and OS X devices. The messaging app can now send short audio and video messages. iOS 8 adds the ability to support families of up to six and provides access to all the iTunes content shared from a single account. Family Sharing also lets users sync photos, calendars, reminders, and find-my-friends. A new Photos app for iOS 8 expands editing features with smart suggestions, and will add all photos taken on the device to the user's iCloud photo library. Changes to photos can be synced across devices, too. Last, Apple is boosting Siri's abilities in the car, which makes it function automatically for dictation, song search, and navigation. iOS 8 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch is expected to arrive later this year.
Apple today announced that AirDrop, which allows people to wirelessly pass files between devices, is compatible between iOS and OS X devices. Previously, AirDrop could only send files from iOS to iOS, or from OS X to OS X. This will help ease the pain of sending files between devices. The new functionality of AirDrop is part of something Apple calls Continuity, which will sync information, such as iMessages and call logs, between devices. Further, iOS and OS X devices can set up peer networks and remain connected when they are in proximity with one another. When networked (via Wi-Fi), Apple's Mac computers can make calls and act as a speakerphone for the iPhone (which is what is actually making the call). Continuity will also sync open web pages within Safari on OS X and iOS so users can pick up on one device where they left off another.
Broadcom today indicated that it is looking to exit the cellular baseband radio-making business. The company is exploring strategic alternatives, including a potential sale or wind-down of its baseband business unit. The company has signed JP Morgan to help it divest the unit. Broadcom said if it is able to successfully sell or wind down the baseband unit, it can save $700 million annually in research, development, and other costs. Broadcom would like to reinvest these savings into its remaining businesses, including small cells, embedded processing, and low-power connectivity. Broadcom didn't provide a timeframe for exiting the baseband business. Broadcom is facing pressure from competitors such as Qualcomm, which excels at integrating 4G baseband radios with application processors.
BlackBerry recently said BlackBerry Messenger version 2.2 is coming to the Android and iOS platforms. BBM 2.2 doesn't add any major new features, but it does streamline the app's behavior and functionality. For example, BBM 2.2 requires less work when creating new accounts and simplifies the friending process. BBM 2.2 also adds more than a dozen new emoticons. BBM 2.2 should be available for Android devices as of today. It will reach iOS devices in the days ahead.