Phone Scoop

printed April 26, 2017
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iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

by:  Apple


Google Assistant Can Help You Channel Your Inner Julia Child

Today, 11:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today updated its Google Home product with the ability to walk people through various recipes. Google Assistant can dictate step-by-step cooking instructions for more than 5 million recipes. Google says people need only pick a recipe from the Google Search app on their iOS or Android smartphone and hit the new "Send to Google Home" button to save the recipe to their Google Assistant. The recipe can be recalled anytime on the Google Home by using the "Ok Google, start cooking" command. Google Home will then guide people through the recipe until it is done. People will be able to ask questions about specific steps along the way, as well as listen to music, make measurement conversions, set timers, and more. Google said the new feature is being rolled out over the next few weeks. Google didn't say if the recipe tool will be available from Android smartphones that include Google Assistant.


Google Maps Improves Parking Spot Finder

Today, 11:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has this week made good on previous promises to make it easier for people to locate their cars after parking them. Maps for Android and iOS is being updated with a dedicated "Save Your Parking" tool that lets people not only pinpoint the location of their car on a map, but add details such as floor level, section, or parking spot for large parking structures. Further, Maps users can set timers to coincide with parking meters complete with custom alerts before the meter runs out. Last, people will also be able to share their parking location with others in instances that require people to meet at a parked car. On iOS devices connected to cars via Bluetooth, Maps will automatically record the parking spot when the owner disconnects and walks away from the vehicle. Google Maps has offered rudimentary parking spot help for some time. These new features allow people to take more control and add details that Maps didn't previously offer. Google Maps for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.


Apple Spits Out Fourth Round of iOS, WatchOS Betas

Monday, 12:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made iOS 10.3.2 Beta 4 available to developers. Apple hasn't provided any specific details about what's in iOS 10.3.2; it likely focuses on resolving bugs and smoothing over performance issues. Apple also made fourth betas of watchOS 3.2.2, macOS Sierra 10.12.5, and tvOS 10.2.1 available to developers. Apple hasn't indicated if or when these new in-progress operating systems will be released to public beta testers. Public betas typically drop a day or two after the developer betas. Consumers interested in testing pre-release software will need to register their Apple device, such as the iPhone 7, in order to receive beta builds of iOS and other platforms.


Apple to Help Make Live Photos More Shareable On the Web

Apr 20, 2017, 12:42 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released a new tool for developers that should make it easier for people to share their Live Photos with others. Specifically, the company made available the LivePhotoKit JS API. Apple says, "This new JavaScript-based API makes it easy to embed Live Photos on your web sites. In addition to enabling Live Photos on iOS and macOS, you can now let users display their Live Photos on the web." Live Photos, which are essentially short moving pictures, can be shared between iOS and macOS devices, but not so easily across platforms. Google solved this problem with its own Motion Stills app for iOS, which lets iPhone owners turn Live Photos into web-compatible GIFs. Apple says it will be up to individual developers and web sites to put the LivePhotoKit JS API to use on their own sites. Until they do, Google's Motion Stills app remains a viable alternative.


Microsoft Will Help You Ditch Passwords

Apr 19, 2017, 12:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has a new tool for Android and iOS device owners to use when signing into Microsoft accounts. The phone sign-in functionality relies on the Microsoft Authenticator. People can add their Microsoft account to either the Android or iOS version of the Microsoft Authenticator mobile app. Then, when signing into a new Microsoft app, people will only have to put in their username. The Authenticator will pop up a notification on users' phones that, once approved, unlocks access to the new app. "This process is easier than standard two-step verification and significantly more secure than only a password, which can be forgotten, phished, or compromised," said Microsoft in a blog post. Microsoft Authenticator is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.


Snapchat Adds 3D Lenses

Apr 18, 2017, 3:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Snapchat today introduced a new way to use its Lenses feature in a way that the company says is more interactive. When using the rear camera, Snapchatters can discover new Lenses that can "paint the word around you with new 3D experiences." These new Lenses include sticker-like animations that float and move around people within Snapchat images. The 3D Lenses are available in an update to the Android and iOS mobile Snapchat app. Snapchat is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.


Google Maps Timeline Feature Travels to iOS Devices

Apr 18, 2017, 1:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made the Timeline tool of Google Maps available to iOS devices. Timeline tracks users' movements based on their location, providing a clear picture of where they've been, for how long, and how they got there. Timelines can be useful for recalling information about unfamiliar places you may have visited, as well as keeping tabs on your favorite locations. Users are in control of what appears in their Timeline. The feature gives people full control over deleting specific locations, routes, days, and even the entire travel history. People can customize their typical mode of transportation, as well as view place cards of locations or businesses they’ve previously visited. Last, Timeline will provide monthly recaps to iOS users via email with summaries of the cities, countries, and places they’ve visited over the previous month. Timeline is optional and can be disabled. Google Maps is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Timeline has been available to Android devices for some time.


Google Wholly Revamps Google Earth for Desktop and Mobile

Apr 18, 2017, 7:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today released a brand new version of Google Earth that it has spent two years crafting. This revised Google Earth is all about giving people more ways to view things thanks to changing perspectives, new zooming behaviors, and, of course, plenty of ways to share. Google Earth now includes Voyager, a tool for exploring and taking guided tours on the planet's most famous locations. For example, Natural Treasures from BBC Earth will take you to caves, jungles, and more, while the refreshed "I’m feeling lucky" search button will randomly select an interesting spot and tell you everything. Maps includes a wider variety of Knowledge Cards that provide details about places around the globe. Google Earth gains more 3D content, as well, allowing people to swoop through the Grand Canyon or check out European castles from every angle. The new Google Earth is available on the web in Google's Chrome browser as well as a new dedicated mobile app for Android devices. Google says it will bring the new Google Earth to iOS and more browsers in the future.


Instagram Debuts Private Collections

Apr 17, 2017, 1:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today made saving groups of photos more appealing through a new collections tool. Until today, users could only bookmark favorite photos for later. Now, Instagram makes it possible to create and name new collections of bookmarked posts that are batched together. This applies to both new and existing posts. Instagram says people can cultivate as many collections as they wish, which can be used to tag and manage types and/or styles of photos, as well as the contributions of select people or groups. Collections will remain private to the person who created them. The new collections feature is rolling out to the Android and iOS versions os Instagram over the next week. Instagram is free to download.


Third Round of Betas for Apple Platforms Reach Developers

Apr 17, 2017, 1:48 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made iOS 10.3.2 Beta 3 available to developers. Apple hasn't provided any specific details about what's in iOS 10.3.2; it likely focuses on resolving bugs and smoothing over performance issues. Apple also made third betas of watchOS 3.2.2, macOS Sierra 10.12.5, and tvOS 10.2.1 available to developers. Apple hasn't indicated if or when these new in-progress operating systems will be released to public beta testers. Public betas typically drop a day or two after the developer betas. Consumers interested in testing pre-release software will need to register their Apple device, such as the iPhone 7, in order to receive beta builds of iOS and other platforms.


Google's Family Link App Reaches iOS Devices

Apr 14, 2017, 11:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today expanded the availability of its Family Link application to iOS devices. Family Link is a service that lets parents set up and monitor their children's Android smartphones. Parents can use the app to create Google accounts for kids younger than age 13, which are linked to the parent's Google account. Parents can then approve and block apps from the Google Play Store, control screen time with daily limits, and remotely lock or prevent devices from being used at night. Google is offering Family Link through an early access program. Parents interested in testing it can request an invitation directly from Google. Though parents can now use Family Link from an iPhone, the child's handset still needs to run Android 7 Nougat and up. Family Link for iOS is available from the iTunes App Store.


Instagram Ups Its Sticker Game

Apr 13, 2017, 10:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today rolled out new sticker tools meant to help people be more creative in their posts and stories. First up is the ability to turn your selfie into its own sticker. Instagram says the latest version of its mobile app lets people capture mini selfies, apply frames, and use the framed selfie as a sticker on posts. The selfie sticker can be resized, moved around, and enhanced with other tools. Selfie stickers can also be pinned to videos, including those shot with Boomerang. The new Instagram adds four more geostickers so people in Chicago, London, Madrid, and Tokyo can dress up their posts with artwork and themes related to those cities. Geostickers are interactive, so people who watch a story can tap the sticker to see the location page. Last, Instagram is making it easier to find stickers thanks to a new shortcut. The tool will pop up users' most recently used stickers for quick access. The new version of Instagram is available for Android and iOS devices.


Facebook Messenger Adds Group Payments

Apr 11, 2017, 11:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today made it possible to pay groups of people within Messenger. The app has supporter peer-to-peer payments since 2015, but they were limited to single people. The latest version of Messenger makes is possible to send funds to a group of people. Facebook suggests the tool will be helpful when groups need to split a restaurant check or share the costs of gifts. The tool, found under the "more features" menu, makes it possible to pay an entire group or just several members of a group. Payments can be spread out evenly, or customized based on the situation at hand. The function even supports annotations, allowing users to tag the payment so they know why it was made. Messenger users will need to have a debit card associated with their account to send money. The new Messenger for Android is rolling out over the next few days. Facebook didn't say when group payments will reach the iOS version of Messenger. Group payments are only available in the U.S. for now.


Instagram Simplifies Disappearing Message Behavior

Apr 11, 2017, 10:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today rolled out a new style for sharing ephemeral messages with others. Disappearing photos and videos are still shared via the Direct messaging tool, but moving forward they are included within ongoing threaded conversations between people or groups, rather than pulled out separately. Instagram features a new blue camera icon in the Direct messaging feature for capturing disappearing photos or videos. The blue camera icon is also available within individual message threads. An arrow button lets people select the friends or groups with whom they'd like to share, and a new function lets users keep track of who's viewed disappearing messages. Instagram has retooled notifications, too, so disappearing messages will be called out thanks to new blue highlighting. Disappearing messages can be replayed once, and the sender will be notified if the message is played twice and/or captured via screenshot. The new Direct messaging feature is rolling out to Instagram for Android and iOS devices this week.


Qualcomm Countersuit Says Apple Hobbled Its Chips

Apr 11, 2017, 7:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 11, 2017, 10:55 AM

Qualcomm filed a retaliatory lawsuit against Apple and accused the iPhone maker of bad behavior. The filing is in response to one Apple made against Qualcomm earlier this year. It that argument, Apple accused Qualcomm of abusing its market position to unfairly charge for chips and licenses. Qualcomm's response points out five major grievances with Apple, suggesting the company has not negotiated in good faith to license Qualcomm's patents. Specifically, Qualcomm says Apple "chose not to utilize the full performance of Qualcomm’s modem chips in its iPhone 7 [and] misrepresented the performance disparity between iPhones using Qualcomm modems and those using competitor-supplied modems." Qualcomm also accused Apple of breaching and mischaracterizing agreements with Qualcomm, interfering with Qualcomm's licensees, encouraging regulatory attack around the world, and threatening Qualcomm to go public over disparities in chip performance. Qualcomm is seeking damages from Apple for "reneging on its promises in several agreements" and it wants Apple to cease interfering with Qualcomm's partners. Qualcomm has come under fire from several governments, including that of the U.S., that allege Qualcomm uses predatory and unfair licensing practices.


Apple Offers Developers a Fresh Round of Beta Builds

Apr 10, 2017, 12:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made iOS 10.3.2 Beta 2 available to developers. Apple has not provided any details about what's contained in iOS 10.3.2, though it likely focuses on resolving bugs and performance issues. Apple also made second betas of watchOS 3.2.2, macOS Sierra 10.12.5, and tvOS 10.2.1 available to developers. Apple hasn't indicated if or when these new in-progress operating systems will be released to public beta testers.


YouTube TV Goes Live In Several Markets

Apr 5, 2017, 12:21 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

YouTube today launched its YouTube TV service in five major U.S. markets: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. YouTube TV gives cord cutters a way to watch live television online. As of today's launch, YouTube TV offers more than 40 television networks, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, USA, FX, Disney Channel, Sprout, E! and Bravo. YouTube TV plans to add AMC, BBC America, IFC, Sundance TV, WE tv, and BBC World News soon. Showtime is available for an extra monthly fee. The monthly service is accessible from mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and PCs, and Android and iOS device users can cast YouTube TV shows to their Chromecast-equipped TV. YouTube TV includes a cloud-based DVR with unlimited storage for saving and accessing shows from practically anywhere. Google allows people to store recordings for free for up to nine months. Each YouTube TV subscription includes up to six individual accounts for personalized recommendations and DVR recording. YouTube TV costs $35 per month and doesn't require any contracts or commitments.


Apple Retunes Apple Music for Android Devices

Apr 4, 2017, 2:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released Apple Music 2.0 for Android handsets and the app introduces a number of features found on the iOS version. To start, Apple Music for Android drops all elements of Google's Material Design in favor of Apple's app design language. The Android app user interface now mirrors that of the iOS version. In-app navigation is simplified thanks to four major sections, called Library, For You, Browse, and Radio. These make it easier for people to move through the app to find their own music or new tunes recommended by Apple. Apple Music 2.0 for Android also adds on-screen song lyrics and larger album art. The app is free to download from the Google Play Store, but the service costs $10 per month.


T-Mobile Adds Free Roadside Assistance to SyncUp Drive

Apr 4, 2017, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today improved the appeal of its SyncUp Drive product by adding access to Allstate Motor Club. T-Mobile is updating the mobile app that accompanies its in-car diagnostics and mobile hotspot tool to include free roadside assistance. Customers who have the SyncUp Drive will need to accept the new terms of service and enroll themselves in the Allstate Motor Club through the mobile app. Once signed up, stranded drivers will be able to summon help with tire changes, tows, fuel delivery, lockouts, or jumps. In addition to roadside assistance, SyncUp Drive also offers vehicle diagnostics, speed alerts, location tracking, driver analysis, and an in-vehicle hotspot. The module costs $150, though T-Mobile is offering it for $2 per month when financed over 24 months ($48 in total). The new SyncUp Drive app is rolling out to Android and iOS devices this week.


Apple Releases iOS 10.3.1 to Fix Bugs

Apr 3, 2017, 12:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today pushed a minor system update to iPhones, iPads, and iPods that's primarily meant to fix bugs. iOS 10.3.1, which clocks in at under 50 MB, also improves device security. The update is free to download and install over the air.


Apple to Create Its Own GPU for the iPhone

Apr 3, 2017, 7:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple is developing a new graphics chip for the iPhone that will see the end of its long-term relationship with Imagination Technologies. Apple has relied on Imagination for years to provide the iPhone's GPU. Apple recently informed Imagination that it "will no longer use [Imagination's] intellectual property in its new products in 15 months to two years time." The iPhone is packed with third-party components, but Apple designs the main application processor. Phone performance relies on the CPU and GPU working together closely, so it stands to reason that Apple would also want to control that piece of the iPhone. Imagination, however, doesn't think Apple can get away so easily. "Apple has not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer require Imagination’s technology, without violating Imagination’s patents, intellectual property and confidential information," said the company in a statement. Imagination requested these details from Apple, but Apple declined to provide them. The two companies have already explored alternative commercial arrangements for the patent licenses and royalties that pertain to Imagination's technology. Imagination said it won't stand for its patents to be violated. Apple hasn't commented on the matter. Imagination is a U.K.-based firm. Investors punished Imagination's stock after the company shared the news.


Apple Patches 911 Bug Via iOS 10.3

Mar 31, 2017, 7:27 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple this week distributed iOS 10.3 and with it a plug for a serious vulnerability that impacted 911 call centers. Last fall, an Arizona man created code that forced iPhones to call 911 over and over. The code, which appeared as a link, spread via Twitter and it was later shared as a prank. The results led to thousands of unintentional calls to 911 centers is some 12 states around the country. Some of those call centers were overwhelmed. The exploit only impacted iPhones and did not cause problems for Android devices. The person who wrote the code was arrested and charged with computer tampering. Apple said iOS 10.3 prevents the accidental 911 calls from connecting by requiring a second confirmation press before dialing calls initiated via links. Apple is working with developers that include phone-making functionalities within their own apps to ensure the fix is universal.


Apple Drops First Beta of iOS 10.3.2

Mar 28, 2017, 1:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made iOS 10.3.2 Beta One available to developers. The beta arrives just one day after the public release of iOS 10.3. Apple has not provided any details about what's contained in iOS 10.3.2, but it is likely a bug-fixing update. Apple also made fresh betas of macOS Sierra 10.12.5, watchOS 3.2.2, and tvOS 10.2.1 available to developers. Apple hasn't indicated if or when these new in-progress operating systems will be released to public beta testers.


Google Search App for iPhone Gains a Home Screen Widget

Mar 28, 2017, 9:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today updated its main Search application for the iPhone and added a widget for the home screen. Technically, iOS doesn't support true home screen widgets other than those in the notification panel. In order to make it work, a 3D Touch of the Search app brings up a "Trending on Google" widget directly on the screen with breaking news, trends, and hot topics. A quick press of any of the cards takes users to the content in question. The widget doesn't support users' customized Google cards, which are still located in the main Google app. People interested in using the widget will need to turn it on manually in the app's settings. Google added other 3D Touch actions, as well. A hard press on the Google app icon opens a set of quick search actions from the home screen, but it now also lets people start a new search from within the Google app itself. A hard press of the G button on the bottom of the screen opens a new search immediately, and a hard press on search results can provide a preview of the content before opening it fully. The Google Search app also now works more seamlessly with Google's GBoard keyboard for the iPhone. Google Search is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


Facebook Folds More Snapchat Features Into Its Main Mobile App

Mar 28, 2017, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today expanded the way people are able to share photos and videos by bringing new camera tools to its mobile application. First, the camera is more accessible from within Facebook. A tap will turn it on. The camera includes dozens of effects like masks, frames, and interactive filters that people can apply to their pictures or movies. Reactive effects, specifically for videos, let people interact with on-screen animations in real time. Facebook is partnering with several movie studios and visual artists to ensure that the selection of effects changes over time. Second, Facebook is bringing stories, pioneered by Snapchat and later adopted by Facebook's own Instagram, to the main app. Stories will appear above the news feed and disappear automatically after 24 hours. Stories do not show up directly on users' timelines unless they want them to. Third, the app includes more sharing tools. Stories, as well as regular photos and videos, can be shared directly with others for one-time viewing. Photos and videos sent via the new Direct tool can be seen once, though the recipient will be able to respond. These new features are available to the Android and iPhone versions of Facebook mobile this week. The apps are free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.


Apple Releases iOS 10.3 to Everyone

Mar 27, 2017, 12:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 27, 2017, 12:39 PM

Apple today made iOS 10.3 available to the public after several months of beta testing. The most significant feature of iOS 10.3 is a tool called Find My AirPods, which helps people locate lost earbuds via an audio alert. The system update also adopts the Apple File System (APFS), refreshes the Apple ID profile behaviors, tweaks animations, and provides more details concerning iCloud storage use. Other features include wider HomeKit compatibility with connected lightswitches, alerts concerning out-of-date apps, more CarPlay actions, and refined SiriKit behaviors for voice-based payments and other activities. People who own an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch can download and install iOS 10.3 for free. Apple also released final, public builds of watchOS 3.2, tvOS 10.2, OS X Sierra 10.12.4, and Xcode 8.3.


Facebook Messenger Gains Live Location Sharing

Mar 27, 2017, 10:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today made it possible for people to share their real-time location with others using Messenger. The optional tool is available to both Android and iOS devices. Live Location can be shared for up to 60 minutes and turned on or off at any time. The location data will pinpoint people on a map and provide estimated time of arrival when en route to specific points. It can be used to share static locations, such as an address or place of interest. The tool also includes a clock that clearly counts down how much longer location data will be shared. Facebook has been testing the feature for a while and says it can be useful when coordinating meet-ups with family and friends. Facebook Messenger is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store. Google recently added a similar feature to Google Maps.


Facebook Messenger Adds Message Reactions and @Replies

Mar 23, 2017, 10:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 23, 2017, 11:06 AM

Facebook today announced several new features for Messenger that should make the messaging application even more interactive. First, the app adds the ability to react to messages in one-on-one or group chats. Pressing and holding any message brings up the love, smile, wow, sad, angry, yes, and no emojis, which can then be applied to the highlighted message. These same reactions are already available for news feed items. Participants in the conversation will be alerted when their messages receive a reaction, such as notifications on the lock screen. Messenger also gains the ability to mention specific people in a group chat by using an @reply construction. Using the @ symbol and then a participant's Facebook name calls them out specifically within a conversation. Like the reactions, @replies added to messages will generate notifications for those mentioned in the thread. The new tools are reaching Facebook Messenger for Android and iOS in the days ahead.


Verizon Wants You To Rattle Along with Its New Hum Devices

Mar 22, 2017, 3:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon today announced a revamp of its Hum line of connected car devices. Moving forward, consumers can choose one of three new options to keep their car in touch with Verizon's network. The HumX is the top-tier product and includes an OBD-II device as well as a Bluetooth speaker. The ODB-II unit provides WiFi hotspot connectivity for up to 10 devices, and also hooks into the car's diagnostics to monitor support functions. It can deliver roadside assistance and connect people to emergency services when needed. The Bluetooth speaker supports HD voice calls. The existing Hum product is being rebranded as the Hum+ and will continue to be available for monitoring auto health and diagnostics, driving history, speed alerts, location, and more. Last, Verizon is rolling out a free Android and iOS mobile app that provides an introductory level of Hum service. The app includes safety score calculations based on driver behaviors (cornering, braking, accelerating), in addition to voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. The Hum mobile app is free, but the Hum+ and HumX require hardware and monthly service fees. All three launch March 23.


Google Brings Audio Calls to Duo, Attachments to Allo, Smoother Uploads to Photos

Mar 22, 2017, 11:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google updated a handful of its apps and services today, including Duo, Allo, and Photos. Moving forward, Duo users on Android and iOS will be able to make voice-only calls when they wish. Google says Duo's voice calls work well on most connection speeds and won't consume much data. Audio calls via Duo are being made available in Brazil today, with other regions to follow in the next few days. Google updated its Allo messaging app with support for attachments in group chats. Users will be able to share several file types (.pdf, .docs, .apk, .zip, and mp3) with groups through the messaging app. Last, Google says Photos is now better at backing up photos. Photos will first send low-resolution backups to Photos when the network connection is slow or spotty. Photos will then replace the low-resolution shots with high-quality images once good connectivity is available. Moreover, people will be able to share the low-resolution previews with others immediately. These new features are rolling out to Duo, Allo, and Photos over the next few days.


Google Maps Improves Location-Sharing Tools

Mar 22, 2017, 9:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it possible for Maps users to share their exact location with friends and family. In Maps, users need only tap the blue dot (signifying their location) and select those with whom they'd like to share. People can share through their Google contacts as well as send links through most messaging apps. The tool permits people to select how long they share their location, which ranges between 15 minutes and 3 days. Alternately, location sharing can be left on indefinitely and/or turned off at any time. Indicators in the app let people know when and with whom they are sharing their location for as long as the tool is active. Recipients of location data will see the shared location as a blue dot on Maps in addition to their own blue dot. The tool also lets people share their real-time location and trip progress while navigating between points. Google says the location-sharing feature works on Android, iPhone, the mobile web, and desktops. Google plans to roll the tool out worldwide over the next few days. Google also recently made it easier for people to remember where they parked their car. A tool in Maps lets users pinpoint their parking spot when they park.


Google News & Weather to Show More News & Weather

Mar 21, 2017, 1:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it has added more stores to the home screen of its News & Weather app for mobile devices. Specifically, the home screen will list an additional 200 stories in a section called More Headlines. Google says the More Headlines section is easy to scroll through on smartphone screens and offers a deeper look at business, tech, entertainment, sports, and other topics. The section loads on demand so the more you scroll down, the more stories it will load. Google News & Weather incorporates Google's AMP articles, which load faster over mobile connections. The More Headlines section will reach the Android and iOS versions of News & Weather over the come days. The app is free to download from the Google App Store and iTunes App Store.


Google Search App Gains Tappable Shortcuts

Mar 21, 2017, 8:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said an update to its mobile search app should make it quicker and easier to find basic information via tappable shortcuts that are positioned underneath the search box. The shortcuts let people perform instant searches for a variety of items, including entertainment, sports, weather, food, news, and more. The shortcuts appear on the home screen of the Google search app on Android and iOS devices, as well as Google.com in mobile browsers. Google says Android users will have access to more shortcuts, such as flights, currency converters, attractions, hotels, and others. People will be able to customize the shortcuts and results based on their preferences. Google says it will automatically add tappable search shortcuts for big and current events as they come and go. Google Search is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.


Apple's New Clips App Offers a Fun Way to Create Videos

Mar 21, 2017, 8:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today announced Clips, an app for the iPhone and iPad that lets people piece together photos, videos, and music for sharing on social networks. One of the core features is called Live Titles, which lets people create animated captions by using their voice, rather than typing. Clips includes effects such as comic book filters, speech bubbles, shapes, and animated posters to add personality to videos. Apple is pitching the app as an easy-to-use alternative to iMovie. It doesn't require timelines, tracks, or complicated editing tools. Instead, users need only touch a single button to shoot photos or videos from within the app, or pull content directly from the camera roll. Dozens of music soundtracks are included and they will automatically adjust to match the length of the video clip. Apple says videos created in the Clips app can be shared directly to most social networks, such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Vimeo, and others. Clips bakes in support for Apple's own iMessage, as well, and will automatically suggest sharing options based on the people who appear in the videos. Clips will be available for free to most iPhones and iPads in April.


Apple Improves Storage Options for iPhone SE

Mar 21, 2017, 7:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today gave the iPhone SE a modest update thanks to improved storage capacities. Beginning this week, the iPhone SE will be available in 32 GB and 128 GB versions. These replace the 16 GB and 64 GB models. The refreshed 32 GB iPhone SE starts at $399 and will be available online and in stores starting March 24. Other than the storage boost, the iPhone SE's other specs remain unchanged. Apple first released the iPhone SE about this same time last year. It has a 4-inch display and relies on the same design Apple used for the 2012 iPhone 5 and 2013 iPhone 5s.


Apple Announces (Product) Red iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

Mar 21, 2017, 7:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today debuted (Product) Red versions of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The devices are identical to the iPhones released last year, the only difference is the color. A portion of the proceeds from (Product) Red iPhone sales will contribute to the Global Fund to help fight AIDs. The red-colored iPhones will only be available in 128 GB and 256 GB capacities. The 128 GB (Product) Red iPhone 7 costs $749 and the 128 GB (Product) Red iPhone 7 Plus costs $869. The special edition (Product) Red iPhones will be available online and in stores beginning Friday, March 24.


Instagram Now Lets You Save Live Videos to Camera Roll

Mar 20, 2017, 11:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today made it possible to save live video broadcasts to your phone's local gallery. Live videos that are broadcast to Instagram eventually disappear from the app, but now users can elect to store videos on their phone for safekeeping. The option is made available after users end their live broadcast. Instagram says only the raw video is saved; extras such as comments, likes, and number of viewers are not added to the saved product. The video-saving feature is available to the Android and iOS versions of Instagram, which are free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.


Google's Motion Stills for iPhone Picks Up a Useful Update

Mar 17, 2017, 11:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google updated its Motion Stills app for the Apple iPhone this week and added a small number of new features. Motion Stills allows iPhone owners to export their Live Photos in the more widely usable GIF format, which can be shared with non-Apple devices. Chiefly, users can now pick the best possible frame within the Live Photo. This sets the tone for how the app treats other frames in the Live Photo and creates a more personal animation. The app also improves how it treats floating text bubble tracking, and how GIFs are exported. Motion Stills is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


Amazon Adds Alexa AI to iPhone Shopping App

Mar 16, 2017, 11:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon today made Alexa, its artificial intelligence, available to a much wider selection of devices by adding Alexa to its iOS mobile shopping application. Now any iPhone with the Amazon app aboard has access to Alexa, allowing people to search for and buy goods simply by asking Alexa for it. Amazon says customers can say things like "search for paper towels" or "reorder batteries" and Alexa will do those things within the confines of the Amazon app. The app lets people listen to music and play Kindle books, ask basic questions, add skills, access Smart Home features, and check the news, weather, and traffic — all via voice requests. The app works hand-in-hand with iPhone owners' Amazon accounts and subscriptions to services such as Amazon Music Unlimited or Amazon Prime. The revised app includes a new microphone button that people tap in order to access Alexa from wherever they happen to be. Separate Alexa-powered devices, such as the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, or FireTV are not required. Amazon's main mobile shopping app is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Amazon didn't say when Alexa might reach the Android variant of its app. Amazon's Alexa artificial intelligence competes on some level with Apple's Siri, Google's Assistant, and Microsoft's Cortana. This marks the first time Alexa has been made widely available to smartphones.


Google's Chrome Browser for iOS Lets You Save Articles for Later

Mar 15, 2017, 7:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated its Chrome browser for iOS devices and given it the ability to save online stories for later reading. The share button now includes a "read later" option that will download the article directly to the device so it can be read at a later time, even when the phone is offline. Chrome 57 is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


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