iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Yahoo today pushed out an update to its Android application that brings it inline with the iOS app, which it refreshed in January. The Android Yahoo app is now more visually engaging and makes it easier to access articles, polls, and blogs from Yahoo's digital magazines, such as Yahoo Autos, Yahoo Sports, and others. The app also now keeps Yahoo Weather and Yahoo News Digest above all the other digital sections in the news feed. Yahoo for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Alcatel OneTouch today made its smartwatch available for preorder through its web site. The watch, announced earlier this year, runs a proprietary operating system and is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. The wearable can track workouts and heartrate, notify users to incoming calls/messages, and control music playback. Users can take advantage of a wrist-shaking gesture to launch their smartphone's camera, if they wish. The watch will initially ship with a black band, but other colors will become available later this year. The Alcatel OneTouch Watch costs $149.99. Alcatel didn't specify when the watch will ship.
Google today said it is giving people more options for organizing their photos and videos online. Moving forward, all the photos and videos users have stored in Google+ will be accessible from Google Drive. This change applies to the Android and iOS apps, as well as the web. Google believes adding photos/videos to drive will help people organize them more easily alongside their other files. Even so, Google+ Photos will continue to operate separately, where people can store, edit, and share their pictures. Google said Drive users should see their photos begin to appear automatically over the next few weeks.
Sony today followed through on an announcement made in January concerning Sony Music Unlimited and Spotify. Sony Music Unlimited has gone offline in all 19 countries where it was offered. The service, which cost $10 per month, let Xperia device and PlayStation owners stream songs and playlists. Sony partnered with Spotify, which is officially taking Music Unlimited's place across Sony's devices. Spotify gives Sony hardware owners access to 30 million songs and 1.5 billion playlists. PlayStation owners will be able to create and listen to playlists when playing games, as well as listen to music on-demand whenever they wish. Spotify replaces Sony's Music Unlimited service on Xperia smartphones and tablets, too, but it isn't yet available. Sony said it should be ready for mobile devices soon. Spotify is already available to Android and iOS devices from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
Vine today announced new support for higher-resolution video. Since launch, the video-sharing service has uploaded videos with a maximum resolution of 480p. An update to its mobile application will record and upload videos in 720p HD. The update will hit the iOS version of Vine in the coming days, with the Android version to follow at some point down the road. Vine is owned by Twitter and lets people record 6-second videos that are then played back in loops. Earlier this week, Twitter released an app called Periscope, which lets people broadcast live video from their smartphones.
Vine has updated is app for iOS devices with some features that make the app faster. Vine created a new video file size that's much smaller and can be downloaded quicker. This allows Vine to preload users' home feed, activity notifications, and Vines in the Explore section before the app is opened so users can enjoy the app even when offline. Vine is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Vine said similar changes will reach its Android app soon.
Nokia recently announced a moderate improvement to HERE Transit Maps for Android and iOS devices. Nokia focused its efforts on adding more timetables and routes to public transportation schedules. In North America, Nokia HERE Transit Maps now includes directions for Fredericton (New Brunswick, Canada), as well as 19 cities in the U.S. including Orlando, Detroit, and Raleigh. Nokia also made improvements to the suburbs around New York, including Sussex County in New Jersey. A smattering of other cities around the globe have updated transit schedules, too, including Rennes and Marseille in France; Granada, Huesca, and Ávila in Spain; Trento, Brescia, Mantua, and Verona in Italy; and many others. Android and iOS device owners don't need to update their apps in order to access the improved transit directions. Nokia HERE Maps is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Facebook today introduced a way for people to send money to one another through its Messenger application. Users will need to add a Visa or MasterCard debit to their Facebook account, after which they'll be able to send money to friends or family. According to Facebook, payments are processed immediately on the sending side, but may take a day or two to process on the receiving side depending on individual bank policies. Sending money is free of transaction charges. Facebook says users can set up PINs to protect the service, and Apple device owners will be able to use TouchID to secure it. Sending money is possible from the Android, iOS, and web versions of Messenger.
Opera Software today made an updated version of its Coast browser available to Apple's iOS devices, including the iPhone. The primary new feature is Opera's video boost technology, which uses Opera's Rocket Optimizer engine to smooth out video playback. Users will have to turn the feature on, which is under the Opera Turbo setting. Opera makes use of compression technologies to deliver web sites and the video contained therein faster and more efficiently to devices over mobile networks. The browser also added sharing support for Pinterest, Evernote, Pocket, and Kik. Coast 4.1 is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft is preparing to make its Cortana personal assistant software available as a stand-alone application to the Android and iOS platforms later this year, reports Reuters. Microsoft is already developing an improved version of Cortana for its forthcoming Windows 10 desktop, tablet, and phone operating system, expected this fall. Microsoft is culling research from an artificial intelligence project called Einstein to improve Cortana's predictive and conversational abilities. "This kind of technology, which can read and understand email, will play a central role in the next roll out of Cortana, which we are working on now for the fall time frame," said Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research, in an interview with Reuters. Microsoft believes Cortana's abilities can surpass those of its rivals, Google Now on Android phones and Siri on iPhones. "We're defining the competitive landscape of who can provide the most supportive services that make life easier, keep track of things, that complement human memory in a way that helps us get things done," said Horvitz. Microsoft envisions Cortana becoming more capable with respect to helping users by anticipating their needs. Google and Apple have taken similar steps with Google Now and Siri, respectively. Google Now is adept at providing just-in-time reminders and details in the form of cards, but Siri is more limited to responding to direct requests. Horvitz did not confirm Microsoft's intent to bring Cortana to Android and iOS, but Reuters says people familiar with Microsoft's plans are certain it will appear after Windows 10's debut later this year. Microsoft has made an aggressive push over the last year to port key applications to the Android and iOS platforms, such as Microsoft Office. Bringing Cortana to Android and iOS would fit in with the pattern of Microsoft's behavior.
Apple today made a beta version of iOS 8.3 available to both developers and consumers who are interested in testing the pre-release operating system. Developers have always had early access to beta versions of iOS, but this marks the first time Apple has expanded betas to the public. Apple made the last two versions of its desktop operating system, OS X, available as betas before general release, and this new iOS beta program appears to be following in those footsteps. Consumers interested in testing iOS 8.3 will need to register for the beta program, though it doesn't appear that Apple is letting just everyone test iOS 8.3. Apple is inviting select participants of the beta program to test iOS 8.3, so it isn't available to simply anyone. At the moment, the only known new features of iOS 8.3 are filters for managing Apple's messaging application.
Nokia today made its HERE Maps application available to the Apple iPhone via the iTunes App Store. Nokia has offered the same HERE Maps to Android devices since December. Nokia had made a version of HERE Maps available to the iPhone back in 2013, but pulled the app due to its poor performance. The new HERE Maps app for iOS allows users to download entire countries or regions, which makes the maps available even when the device is offline. This can help save data charges when roaming. HERE Maps for iOS devices include free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. Users can plan routes via car, public transport, or foot. Nokia says maps for iOS are available for about 190 countries with turn-by-turn directions available in about 100. Transit maps are available in 950 metro areas across 50 different countries, with more being added all the time. Nokia HERE Maps is free to download.
Google today released a version of its calendar application for iOS devices. The app includes features such as Assists to help schedule regularly-occurring meetings, as well as Schedule View to make it easier to glean daily schedule details in a glance. The app integrates with Google Apps for Work, too, so companies can manage the app if need be. Google Calendar for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Opera today announced that its desktop and mobile browsers can now sync bookmarks across platforms. Bookmark syncing is available in the Opera desktop browser, as well as Opera Mini for iOS and Opera for Android. Users of PCs, smartphones, and tablets can choose to sync their browsers across various devices, though the feature requires users to create and sign in to an Opera account. Opera's browsers are free to download form the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.
Apple today revealed more details about the Apple Watch and its compatibility with Apple devices. Specifically, the Apple Watch requires iOS 8.2, which is available to the iPhone beginning today. The new operating system from Apple includes a specific app for managing and controlling the Apple Watch, which goes on sale next month. The Apple Watch can run apps and be used to manage notifications, make calls, send and receive emails or messages, control music playback, and much more. The Apple Watch Sport edition starts at $349 for the 38mm size and $399 for the 42mm size. The Apple Watch edition, with a stainless steel face and various bands, ranges between $549 and $1,049 for the 38mm size and the from $599 to $1,099 for the 42mm size. The Apple Watch Edition, which is made from gold, starts at $10,000. Preorders begin April 10, with the device reaching select stores and markets April 24. Apple didn't detail what bug fixes are included in iOS 8.2
Google has pushed out a minor update to its Gmail application for iPhones and iPads that allows people to reply to or archive emails directly from incoming notifications on the lock screen. When pressed on the lock screen, the new reply button opens a response in the Gmail application, which reduces steps and saves time. Gmail now also allows users to share media content (photos, videos) from other apps directly to new messages in Gmail. Gmail is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
BlackBerry today announced the BlackBerry Experience Suite, a package of software that will help businesses manage their Android, iOS, and Windows smartphones and tablets. The suite will take form in three distinct services: Productivity, Communications and Collaboration, and Security. "We want to empower all mobile professionals in order to supercharge their productivity and allow them to work across all their devices in an effortless and secure way," said BlackBerry. BlackBerry plans to sell these three products separately or together to corporations. BlackBerry plans to ship the BlackBerry Experience Suite later this year.
BlackBerry today announced updates to the Android and iOS versions of BBM. Both versions gain access to two new services: no ads and custom PINs. People who'd like to use BBM with no ads can do so for $0.99 per month. People who'd like to generate their own, personal PIN code can do so for $1.99 per month. Android and iOS users will also be able to share photos within BBM group chats. The Android version of BBM adds support for Android Wear, so smartwatch wearers can receive BBM notifications on their wrists. The iOS version of BBM gains support for TouchID, which will allow users to secure their BBM chats with their fingerprint. BBM is free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.
HTC today announced the Grip fitness band in conjunction with Under Armour. The Grip is part of HTC's growing Re series of connected devices. The Grip is a rubber band with a curved white OLED display and GPS for tracking outdoor fitness activity. It links to Under Armour's UA Record app to log and analyze detailed workout data. The Grip also connects to phones to display notifications and control music. It includes a canned text message reply function, configurable from the phone app. The Grip works with both Android and iOS. It is available in three sizes and is rated IP57 for water resistance. It will be available in the U.S. this spring. HTC also announced the Vive, a high-end VR headset. As it must be tethered to a PC, it's HTC's first truly non-mobile product. HTC has partnered with Valve for content for the Vive.
Softcard today indicated that the Windows Phone version of the Softcard mobile payment application will be discontinued. "The Softcard for Windows Phone app will be terminated. A specific termination date will be provided soon," said Softcard in a statement on a new FAQ web site published today. Softcard was developed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Supported devices, including a handful of Windows Phones sold by AT&T and Verizon, can use Softcard to make tap-and-go mobile payments at participating retailers. Google purchased Softcard's assets from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon earlier this week to bolster its own Google Wallet application. The three carriers have agreed to preload Google Wallet on their Android handsets moving forward. Wallet competed with Softcard. Softcard didn't indicate how soon the Windows Phone app will be deactivated. Without it, Windows Phone handsets won't have the same mobile payment options available to Android and iOS devices.
Microsoft today released an API for its cloud-based OneDrive storage service. The API will allow third-party app developers to add OneDrive access and features, such as file retrieval and uploads, to their own applications. The API is compatible with Windows, Android, and iOS devices, in addition to desktop web browsers. Microsoft said it will use the API internally with its own apps to "ensures that everyone is building on the platform with the same set of tools." When Microsoft adds new features to the API, developers will have immediate access to them. Microsoft has spent the last year expanding the availability of its core apps and services across platforms. This is the latest step in its more open strategy.
Pebble today announced the Pebble Time, a new smartwatch that works with Android and iOS smartphones. The Pebble Time jumps from a monochrome display to a color display, but it still delivers seven days of battery life. The e-ink display is always on with no fear of battery drain. In addition to the color screen, the Pebble Time is 20% thinner than previous models, has a built-in microphone for voice dictation, and has a revised user interface. Pebble calls the new user interface Timeline, which can be used to glance at the past, the present, or the future thanks to dedicated buttons for jumping through the Timeline. The device is water resistant, can be used to count steps (with third-party fitness app), and has exchangeable bands. The screen is made from Gorilla Glass and it has a stainless steel bezel. The Pebble Time is being offered in red, black, and white. At the moment, the Pebble Time is a Kickstarter project. Pebble is reserving watches for those who donate to the campaign. The cheapest donation is $159 and the next tier is $179. Pebble has already met its funding goal. The Time is expected to ship in May.
By all accounts, both Apple and Google have bold ambitions in the automotive space. But an Apple or Google Car is many years away. What's available today are CarPlay and Android Auto, both of which take a major new step in integrating your phone with your car. They're remarkably similar, both extending your phone's interface to the touch screen in your dash, but relying mostly on voice interaction for safe use while driving. In the this in-depth hands-on, we take a look at how they work, their striking similarities, and how they differ.
Dan Mead, who has served as the CEO of Verizon Wireless since 2010, plans to retire according to filings the company made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mead will remain on the board of directors and serve as executive vice president and president of strategic initiatives. He'll stay in that role until Verizon Communications finalizes its sale of certain landline and FiOS assets to Frontier Communications. Once that is completed in mid 2016, Mead will retire fully. Mead has been replaced by John Stratton, formerly Verizon's executive vice president and president of Verizon's global enterprise and consumer wireline business. Stratton's new title is executive vice president and president of operations. He'll be in charge of both the wireless and wireline businesses. Both Mead and Stratton report to Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam. AT&T and Sprint have also installed new CEOs in the last six months. Glen Lurie succeeded Ralph de la Vega at AT&T and Marcelo Claure took over for Dan Hesse at Sprint. T-Mobile's John Legere has been serving as CEO since fall 2012.
Microsoft today announced several new features for its Office suite of productivity apps. First and foremost, third-party cloud providers can now integrate their own services into the "locations picker" in the iOS Office apps. This means mobile device users can open, edit, and save their documents to any cloud service. Apple's iCloud is the first to receive this support, so iPhone and iPad users can store their mobile Office documents in iCloud. Microsoft said it plans to bring this feature to the Windows and Android versions of Office soon. Further, Microsoft is making it possible for cloud storage providers to weave Office Online into their own mobile applications. Microsoft's vision here is to let people open, view, and edit their online documents from any browser on any device. Microsoft said Box, Citrix, and Salesforce are already working on this level of integration. Microsoft has dramatically increased the availability of Office to mobile devices in recent months with the hopes that people and businesses will continue to use its productivity suite rather than competing products from Apple and Google.
Apple has increased the maximum size of applications allowed in the iOS App Store from 2 GB to 4 GB. Apple says this should allow developers to "include more media in [their] submission and provide a more complete, rich user experience upon installation." The majority of apps fall well under 100MB in size, but games increasingly need more storage. Developers were getting around the size limitation by requiring additional downloads after the app was installed. Apple hopes the increased size limit will negate the need for developers to side-step its limitations. Apple warns, however, that this doesn't change the maximum size of apps that can be downloaded via cellular networks, which is still 100MB.
Microsoft confirmed via its YouTube channel today that it has acquired a calendar application called Sunrise. The app is available to Android, iOS, and Mac machines and is highly rated by users. Microsoft last year bought an email app called Acompli, which it turned around and released as Outlook for Android and iOS devices. Microsoft said, "Our goal is to create more meaningful, beautiful experiences in mobile email and calendaring across all platforms." Sunrise will "accelerate Microsoft’s path to that future of calendaring." The app will remain available to Android and iOS devices, despite the acquisition. Microsoft didn't reveal terms of the deal.
Microsoft today announced updates to its Android and iOS video messaging applications that simplify sharing. In earlier versions of the app, users needed to save videos to their camera roll before they could be shared outside of Qik. Moving forward, users will be able to record from within Qik and then share to whatever other social networks/services they might have accessible from their phone through the phone's native sharing tool. The update is available today to Android and iOS devices, but not yet to Microsoft's own Windows Phone platform. Microsoft said a new version of Qik for Windows Phone is still several months away.
Facebook today announced forthcoming updates to its Android and iOS messaging applications that will help people buy and sell stuff. Messenger supports For Sale Groups, often run within local communities, that act as newspaper for-sale listings or swap-and-sells. The new tools will allow sellers to add descriptions and photos to their listings, as well as set pricing and pick-up/delivery locations. Sellers will be able to mark items as available or sold, too, all from within the app. Facebook said the new features will arrive in the months ahead.
Skype today quickly followed its new iOS app update with one for Android. Skype 5.2 for the Android platform introduces a handful of new features, most significantly the ability to send photos to others even when they are offline. Previously, both the sender and recipient needed to be signed in to share photos. Now, people can share even if the recipient is offline. Other new features include picture-in-picture view on phones for multitasking, reduced chat loading times, and call quality improvements. Skype 5.2 is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Skype today announced the release of version 5.10 for iOS. The update is significant because to returns support for URIs to the app. The URIs are tools developers can use to tap into the Skype calling and messaging app from within their own app or web site. Without the URIs, developers would need to either create their own dialers and messaging platforms or use the stock services. With URI support, an iPhone Skype user browsing a mobile web site can tap the number on the site which will then launch the Skype app rather than the native phone app. As always, Skype-to-Skype calls are free, but calls to mobile lines or landlines require Skype credit. Skype also made several improvements to its own dialer, which lets users save recent calls to their contact list. Skype 5.10 is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google has acquired an application that lets Android and iOS smartphone owners automatically backup and share their photos. The app, called Odysee, has been withdrawn from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, but it will continue to function for existing users until Feb. 23. After that time, users' photos will become available as downloadable archives. According to Odysee, the app will be folded into Google+. Google already offers a service for backing up and sharing photos via Google+ and the company was mum on its plans for Odysee. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
RadioShack today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and signed an agreement to sell approximately 1,750 of its stores to Sprint. Under the terms of RadioShack's Chapter 11 filing, RadioShack will sell the stores to Sprint and General Wireless, a subsidiary of one of RadioShack's major investors. Moving forward, these stores will be co-branded Sprint and RadioShack, with Sprint being the primary brand. Sprint will own about 30% of the real estate within each store to sell Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile USA products. The remaining 70% will be set aside for RadioShack to sell its own branded gear and other electronics. Sprint did not say what will happen to the AT&T, GoPhone, Net10 Wireless, Verizon Wireless and Tracfone phones that are currently offered by RadioShack. Presumably they will be no longer be sold. Sprint currently has more than 1,100 company-owned retail stores, which would more than double if the transaction is approved. RadioShack listed about $1.2 billion in assets and $1.39 billion in debts. A bankruptcy court will have to approve RadioShack's plans before Sprint can make its purchase official.
iPhone users can now enjoy looping videos in their Instagram feed. The picture-sharing app recently pushed out an update that adds the feature. Instagram may be used more for sharing photos, but the service supports 15-second video clips, too. Now when users encounter a video in their feed it will automatically restart after playing -- much like videos do in the Twitter-owned Vine app. Instagram says the looping videos will not alter how much data the app uses. Instagram for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, hasn't said when the feature might appear on Android.
Microsoft's Garage team recently released a new app for Android handsets called the Picturesque Lock Screen. The lock screen adds Bing's home page images to Android devices. Users can easily change up the image by shaking their phone or swiping side to side. The image changes daily on its own. Picturesque also allows people to search Bing right from the lock screen, view the latest news and weather, see missed calls or messages, and view upcoming calendar appointments. Last, Picturesque includes controls for the camera, phone, and other basic tools, such as WiFi and Bluetooth radios, volume, brightness, and flashlight. Picturesque is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Yahoo today announced a refresh to its iOS application that adds more imagery and content from across its properties. Yahoo says the app is more visually engaging and makes it easier to access articles, polls, and blogs from its digital magazines, such as Yahoo Autos, Yahoo Sports, and others. The app now keeps Yahoo Weather and Yahoo News Digest above all the other digital sections in the news feed. Yahoo for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Facebook today announced a new feature for its iOS application called Places. Using location data, Facebook will begin to post information about nearby places -- restaurants, museums, etc. --- to the top of users' newsfeeds. The tips will appear as cards, which will contain information about the place's location, hours, and web site as well as photos and/or ratings shared by the user's friends. It mimics some of the behaviors of Foursquare. Places relies on cellular, GPS, and WiFi radios to determine location, but Facebook is also testing location placement with Bluetooth-based beacon technology. The feature is optional and users can turn it off any time. Places for Facebook is baked into the iOS application, which is available today. Facebook didn't say when it might add the feature to its Android app.
Microsoft today released an Outlook email application for Android and iOS devices, including smartphones and tablets. The app is based on the code from Acompli, a company Microsoft acquired last year. With Outlook for Android and iOS, users can manage their work and personal email. It supports Office 365, Exchange, Outlook.com, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, and other email services. Users can personalize their experience with customizable swipes and actions. The Outlook email app also offers native calendar integration to make scheduling and managing a calendar easy. Outlook for Android and iOS is free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively. The Android version of Outlook is being offered as a preview for the time being. In other Microsoft news, the company stripped the preview tag from its Office for Android suite of apps. Android tablet owners can now download Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from the Play Store and access a basic set of document creation and editing features with their Microsoft account. Advanced features require an Office 365 subscription.
Microsoft today pushed out a relatively big update to its OneDrive application for iOS devices. Most significantly, OneDrive for iOS allows people to sign into both their personal and business OneDrive accounts, open/organize their business files, and save new files to their business account. The app improves how it handles photos. For example, users can create photo albums that let them view photos in one folder or album without moving the actual image files. It also now supports tags, such as "plant" or "animal" automatically thanks object recognition. OneDrive for iOS also boasts a new design, integration with third-party password managers (1Password, LastPass, etc.), improves search and text recognition, resolves audio playback issues, and addresses several other bugs. OneDrive is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
USA Technologies today said it has added support for Apple Pay to approximately 200,000 of its vending machines. The company has been adding NFC capabilities to its vending machines, including coffee brewers, vending machines, kiosks, laundry equipment, parking pay stations, and other self-serve appliances, for nearly 10 years. USA Technologies' vending machine owner-operators will be able to accept Apple Pay at their machines in addition to cash and/or bank cards. This means owners of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will be able to pay for vending machine and other stand-alone, self-serve retail goods with their phone.