iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Apple Watch owners can now read their incoming Facebook Messenger messages on their wearable. A recent update to the iOS app adds compatibility with Apple's smartwatch. People can also send voice clips, likes, and stickers. In addition to Apple Watch functionality, Facebook Messenger will now reveal contacts and conversations in the iPhone's search tool. Moreover, Facebook Messenger gains support for the iPad's split-screen multitasking capability. Facebook Messenger is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
AT&T today enabled WiFi calling on the iPhone. iPhone owners who've updated to iOS 9 can make and receive voice calls via WiFi rather than cellular networks. The feature is meant to help people remain connected when cellular coverage is poor. WiFi calling can be set up directly from the iPhone and requires several steps. AT&T says customers have to have a post-paid account set-up wth HD Voice in order to activate the feature. WiFi calling works automatically with the subscriber's existing phone number. The service is free to use. Earlier this week, the FCC granted AT&T permission to offer WiFi calling by approving a waiver concerning services for hard-of-hearing customers. Sprint and T-Mobile have offered WiFi calling for the better part of a year with no such waiver from the FCC. AT&T chided the FCC for failing to take any sort of corrective action against them.
Google has updated its Search application for iOS devices and added a few new features along the way. The chief addition is the ability to play animated GIFs in photo search results. Other new functions allow users to add photos to reviews of local places and view maps results when searching for specific addresses. Google Search 9.0 is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple today made iOS 9.1 Beta 4 available to developers. This is not meant for public use and is intended to help app writers test their code. Apple may follow this developer release with a new version of the iOS 9.1 Public Beta, but has not yet made any such announcements.
Google has pushed out an update to the iOS version of its YouTube application. The app now uses more elements from Google's Material Design, which Google says makes certain features easier to find and use. For example, recommended videos, favorite channels, and subscriptions can now be reached by tapping the icons or by swiping the screen from side-to-side. The app also adds several editing tools, which let people tweak and customize their videos before sharing online. Youtube for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple today said it has resolved the problem that prevented it from offering app slicing when the company first released iOS 9 last month. "The issue affecting app slicing has been fixed, and device-specific versions of apps will be delivered when downloaded by users running iOS 9.0.2 or later," said Apple on its developer web site. App slicing lets users download only the portion of each app that pertains to their particular device. This is important mostly to owners of 16GB iPhones/iPads, which have limited storage capacity. Apple also discontinued the Game Center development sandbox, which has been turned off in favor of the standard production environment.
BlackBerry today added a handful of new features to its cross-platform messaging service. All versions of BBM (Android, BlackBerry, iOS) earn the ability to send money to BBM contacts using PayPal. This feature had been in testing on BlackBerries, but is now available to all three smartphone platforms. All versions of the app also allow users to subscribe to the BBM Sticker Club, which BlackBerry says is a great way to build sticker collections. Android users, in particular, can re-order sticker packs and place their favorites in easy-to-reach positions. Android users can also customize the font size within the app, and make use of pinch-to-zoom. iOS devices have been given access to the Quick Reply function (iOS 9 only); the ability to send videos as attachments; and the ability to view, like, and comment on group pictures/events. Last, BBM now works on the Apple Watch, where it can be used to read messages as well as fire off quick replies. BBM is free to download from the Google Play Store, BlackBerry World, and iTunes App Store.
The CTIA today announced that a number of member companies have agreed to take on additional measures to help prevent cellphone thefts. Following recommendations made by the FCC, wireless companies will make anti-theft tools available to all consumers that also respect consumer choice and privacy. All new phones made after July 2016 will "make readily available to the authorized user an option that allows the authorized user to enable or disable the anti-theft solution at any time that the smartphone is connected and is in the authorized user's possession." Beyond this baseline tool, consumers will have the option to use other, third-party solutions to locate, wipe, or reinstate their devices if they so wish. Companies that have agreed to this include Apple, Asurion; AT&T; BlackBerry; Google; HTC; Huawei; LG; Microsoft; Motorola; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile USA; U.S. Cellular; Verizon, and ZTE. In response, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, "CTIA members' ... enhanced voluntary commitment to adopt anti-theft features and educate consumers demonstrates their resolve in combatting it. I am hopeful that this new voluntary commitment will make a meaningful difference for consumer safety. As the enhanced commitment recognizes, these solutions work only if they are adopted widely. The FCC will remain vigilant in this area by pushing for further improvements to the theft-prevention toolbox, and also by monitoring closely whether the efforts of industry and others are producing meaningful results." Apple's iOS and Google's Android already contain features that let device owners find and protect their mobile devices. The FCC hopes allowing people to download and use the protective measure of their choice will help encourage consumers to make broader use of the tool.
AT&T recently filed a complaint with the FCC over WiFi calling services on the iPhone, which it says it cannot offer due to certain regulations. AT&T competitors Sprint and T-Mobile have offered WiFi calling for the better part of a year, and AT&T insists they are doing so against FCC regulations. "AT&T intended to introduce WiFi calling services [on Sept. 25] in competition with ... T-Mobile and Sprint," said AT&T in its filing. "Those carriers have been offering WiFi calling services for a significant period of time. Neither of those carriers has approached the FCC to request a waiver of the TTY rules. Because the commission has not granted AT&T's waiver petition, we are not in a position to provide WiFi calling services to our customers even while our competitors provide those services in defiance of the commission's rules." AT&T requested a waiver from the FCC in June, but is still waiting for approval. AT&T says WiFi calling is not 100% reliable with TTY technology and wants to use RTT technology instead. Technically, AT&T says the FCC has to approve the technology switch before it can offer the service and remain in compliance with the law. In a rebuttal, T-Mobile said RTT technology is not necessary and the company has thus offered WiFi calling since last year. "AT&T urges the commission to seize this opportunity to grant AT&T's waiver request without further delay," said AT&T. "Doing so will enable AT&T to offer its customers Wi-Fi calling capabilities and correct the asymmetry that today exists between AT&T and its mobile services competitors." iOS 9, which Apple recently distributed to iPhone owners, has built-in support for WiFi calling. AT&T customers are unable to use the service, however, until AT&T gets the waiver from the FCC.
Skype has released updates to its iPhone and iPad mobile applications, adding support for iOS 9 to each. Both apps gain the ability to reply to Skype messages from the lock screen notification. Skype says Skype contacts will now show up in Spotlight queries so users can begin Skype conversations directly from Spotlight search results. On the iPad, Skype gains support for split-screen multitasking. Skype for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today said it plans to release a new version of YouTube Kids that will address some complaints about the app. The intent behind YouTube Kids was to give younger views a simpler way to watch videos curated for education and entertainment purposes. Parents and the FTC later alleged the app allowed kids to find inappropriate content, was difficult to manage, and often showed advertising content that was hard to distinguish from normal shows. Google says it has taken that feedback to heart in helping develop a new version of YouTube Kids. To start, Google Kids will add support for Chromecast, AppleTV, and game consoles for sharing on the big screen. Youtube Kids will add guest-curated playlists and more original content from kid-focused studios. Moreover, the app will add a how-to section so parents can fully learn to use the app, as well as password controls for managing permissions. The new Google YouTube will roll out over th next few weeks.
Verizon today made its go90 mobile video service available to anyone who wants to use it. The service had been in only a handful of markets on a trial basis, but is now usable around the country. With go90, video content is supported by advertisements. The free programming comes from providers such as Comedy Central, Food Network, ESPN, Discovery Network, VH1, Maker Studios, Machinima, StyleHaul. Verizon says it has between 100 and 200 hours of exclusive content from online video services such as AwesomenessTV. Verizon hopes the service will score well with younger consumers. It is available to Verizon and non-Verizon customers alike, and is compatible with Android and iOS devices. The apps are free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store.
LG today rolled out an updated version of its Watch Urbane that includes a cellular radio and the ability to make calls without a cellphone. The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition runs Android Wear and is compatible with Android and iOS devices. The wearable features a 1.38-inch plastic OLED screen with 480 x 480 pixels. It is powered by a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and has 768MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. The phone boasts a beefy 570mAh battery to support its Bluetooth, WiFi, LTE, and 3G radios. The smartwatch includes a bevy of sensors as well, including a gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, barometer, and GPS. It will be sold in black, blue, white, and brown. Pricing and availability will be announced at a later date.
Apple today made two new versions of iOS 9 available. First iOS 9.0.2 is a bug-fixing release intended for consumers who've adopted the company's new operating system. Specifically, it resolves issues affecting the app cellular data switch, iMessage activation, iCloud backups, screen rotation, and podcast stability. iOS 9.0.2 is recommended for all devices already running iOS 9.0 or iOS 9.0.1. Second, Apple released iOS 9.1 Beta 3 for developers. Both can be downloaded and installed over the air.
Google today updated Google Maps for iOS and made the app compatible with the Apple Watch. Owners of Apple's wearable can view directions to places on their Apple Watch; view ETA comparisons between walking, driving, bicycling, and transit; and call places directly from the list of places. Google Maps for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today announced two new Chromecast products meant to help improve the living room experience. The Chromecast 2 TV dongle uses HDMI to plug into television sets and includes dual-band 802.11ac WiFi for improved performance with the local wireless network. Google says the new Chromecast can sustain higher-quality video and audio with less buffering and pausing. Google also showed off a smaller product called Chromecast Audio. This product is specifically meant to help people cast music from their handset to in-home speakers. It connects via 3.5mm, RCA, or optical inputs. Moreover, the Chromecast app for Android and iOS has been fully redesigned to help people discover content much faster. For example, it shows what's on YouTube, Play Movies, Hulu, and live TV. The app knows to limit content recommendations based on the apps already installed on the handset in question. The app also boosts the ability to search for online content and supports phones as a gaming controller for select titles. The improved app will be rolling out to Android and iOS over the next few weeks. The new Chromecast 2 and Chromecast Audio are available beginning today for $35 each. Google is offering early adopters 90 days of free music from Google Play, a free trial of CBS All Access, a free Google Play movie rental, and a 3-month trial of Rhapsody.
Google today added some new features to its Google Photos product. The revised service focuses on improving how people share pictures and events. For example, people can merge photos taken by different devices into a single album, complete with credits for individual images. People can easily subscribe to specific albums, which will send notifications when new images/videos are added. Google Shared Albums will arrive later this year for Android, iOS, and the web. Google Photos also improved search functions with the ability to tag people. The tags power compound searches that include tags in addition to location and date information. Google believes these will help people find and share individual photos from their library much faster. The new search tool will reach Android devices this week, and iOS and the web later this year. Last, Google added Chromecast support to Google Photos. Google says this will make it much simpler to share phone-based photos on nearby Chromecast-equipped television sets. Rather than simply mirror the screen, it lets people control exactly which photo is pushed from the phone to the Chromecast. Chromecast for photos will reach Android devices this week, and iOS later this month.
Google has updated the technology behind its voice-powered Google Now tool to boost performance. The company said it "built better neural network acoustic models using Connectionist Temporal Classification and sequence discriminative training techniques" that are more accurate and better able to discern individual voices in noisy environments. The updated tools require less computational power are also much faster. Google said it has made this technology available to the Google Search app for Android and iOS. Voice-based search and voice commands should demonstrate marked improvement.
Apple today disabled app slicing thanks to a bug discovered in iOS 9. App slicing lets users download only the portion of each app that pertains to their particular device. With app slicing disabled, all iOS devices will download the universal/full version of each app, which may take up more storage space than the version customized for their iPhone or iPad. This could have an impact on iOS devices with limited storage, such as the 16GB iPhone. Apple said neither developers nor end users need take any action. Apple will turn app slicing back on as soon as the bug is resolved.
Google today made its Keep note-taking application available to the iPhone and iPad. With Keep, iOS users can add notes, lists, photos, or audio files to Keep and organize or share them however they see fit. Keep lets people use colors and labels, "set it and forget it" reminders for tasks, and transcribe voice memos directly into notes. Keep is also able to read the text contained within images for cataloging and searching purposes. Keep is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft's Garage lab has churned out another productivity-minded application, this time for the iPhone. Invite is an iOS-first app that purports to simplify the process of inviting others to meetings. The process is straight-forward. The organizer picks a time that works for him or her and then invites potential attendees through their email address. Attendees will get an email (or a notification if they have Invite installed) and can respond with times that work for them. Once all invitees have responded, the organizer can pick the time that works for the largest group of potential attendees and set the meeting time. After the meeting time is set, it is added to respondents' calendars. Microsoft says Invite will work best for those with Office 365 subscriptions, but it also functions with Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo mail. The app will be available to the iPhone first, followed by Android and Windows Phone.
Apple today made iOS 9.1 public beta 2 available to those testing the pre-release version of iOS. Unlike the developer version released Wednesday, this one is for consumers who signed up for the public beta program. iOS 9.1 adds a few features to Apple's platform, including support for more emoji, and the option to use the "Hey, Siri" setting when the iPhone is not plugged in. iOS 9.1 beta 2 is free to download over the air.
Pebble today announced the Pebble Time Round, a round variation of its stainless steel smartwatch. The Pebble Time Round runs the latest operating system, with features such as Timeline and third-party apps, and is compatible with Android (4.3) and iOS (8.0) smartphones. The color e-paper display has an LED backlight and always stays on. The Time Round can charge quickly, and the battery lasts for two days. It will be sold in five different styles, with a mix of 14mm or 20mm straps. The first batch of straps will be made of leather, but Pebble plans to sell stainless steel straps before too long. All straps will feature quick-release pins for easy switching. The watch is splash resistant, has a microphone for voice replies, and tactile buttons for easy use. The Pebble Time Round is available to pre-order to day for $249, but shipping times are listed at 6 to 8 weeks.
Facebook today began publishing 360-degree videos in users' Newsfeeds. The immersive videos are available from a handful of content providers to start and the selection should expand over time. According to Facebook, users on the web can pan around 360-degree videos using their mouse. On mobile devices, people can use their finger to push the camera around, or move the phone itself to view different sections of the video. Facebook said it will bring the 360-degree video to its Android application first, followed by iOS in a few months.
Apple today made iOS 9.0.1 available to owners of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. This minor update addresses several bugs found in the initial release of iOS 9. It is recommended for all users and can be installed via an over-the-air update. Apple also made a second beta of iOS 9.1 available to developers. This second release is not meant for consumers; rather, it is intended to help developers further prepare their apps.
Google has revised the Google Wallet app for the iPhone to put it in line with the re-imagined Wallet app that now appears on Android devices. The Google Wallet app is now a simple tool for managing the Google Wallet Card and making payments to individuals. Recipients need only have an email address to receive money, and funds can be transferred via debit card, bank account, or Google Wallet balance. Google Wallet for iOS no longer supports loyalty cards, gift cards, or Google Offers, which have been ported to Android Pay. (Android Pay has replaced Google Wallet on Android devices for making tap-and-go mobile payments.) Google Wallet for the iPhone is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
The iOS 9 update, made available by Apple this week, added a WiFi Calling option to AT&T's version of the Apple iPhone. Despite the feature's appearance on the handset, the service isn't quite ready. AT&T is waiting for the FCC to grant a waiver with respect to real-time text (RTT) as an alternative for the out-going TTY technology used by the hard-of-hearing. AT&T requested the waiver earlier this year. The company wants to use WiFi to supplement its cellular network in some areas, but TTY is unreliable when used over WiFi. The RTT technology to replace it is nearly ready, but requires a rule change from the FCC before AT&T can move forward. "AT&T tested WiFi Calling through the iOS 9 beta and we are prepared to support commercial launch of the service once approved by the FCC," said AT&T in an email to Phone Scoop. AT&T customers who signed up for WiFi Calling through the iOS 9 beta are still able to use it, even though the service isn't officially available. Such beta testers will be notified when the service goes live for everyone. The FCC hasn't said if or when it may approve AT&T's request. WiFi Calling has been available to Sprint and T-Mobile iPhones for some time.
Following the general release of iOS 9, Apple has pushed out an update to its iTunes app for computers. The revised media app adds support for iOS 9 and introduces two-factor authentication for securing the owner's Apple ID. iPhone owners can use iTunes to backup and manage their handset from their PC. The refreshed app also delivers a number of bug fixes and performance tweaks. iTunes 12.3 is free to download from Apple.
Apple today released an Android application called Move to iOS. The app helps owners of Android handsets migrate to the iPhone. It can move photos, contacts, calendars, email accounts, bookmarks, and messages from an Android phone to the iPhone securely via WiFi. The iPhone or iPad creates a private WiFi network between the two devices and requires users to create a security code to initiate the data transfer. Move to iOS, which is free to download from the Play Store, works on Android devices running version 4.0 and up.
Apple today released iOS 9, a revised version of its mobile operating system. The free update gives more power to Siri, brings public transit to Maps, adds the Discover Card to Apple Pay, and installs Apple's News app. iOS 9 also makes improvements to battery life, adds wireless support to CarPlay, and provides the iPad with split-screen multitasking. The new operating system works with iPhones dating back to the iPhone 4S. iOS 9 will ship with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
Microsoft today updated its Groove Music service with support for Sonos. This means Groove subscribers can now listen to their music via Sonos speakers in their home. Microsoft launched Groove earlier this year, which is available across XBox and Windows devices, and Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. The $10 monthly fee buys ad-free access to 40 million tracks. Users can create their own, custom radio stations, and Groove supports music libraries uploaded to OneDrive, including tracks purchased via iTunes. The Sonos app is available separately. Groove Music is free to trial for 30 days.
Google has refreshed its Street View app for both Android and iOS devices and took the opportunity to add several features. To start, Street View replaces the older Photo Sphere Camera app for iPhones and the legacy Street View from Google Maps app on Android phones. The revised app gains 360-degree imagery, making it possible to take in-depth tours of places such as hotel lobbies, restaurants, and other locales. Moreover, Google is now encouraging users to contribute their own 360-degree panoramas to Street View for all to view. Google is positioning user-contributed content next to its own within Street View so everyone can explore far-flung and nearby locations. Street View is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
SnapChat today pushed out a small update to its mobile app for iOS that adds the ability to buy replays. SnapChat is offering three replays of any Snap for $0.99, but each Snap can only be replayed once. (Replays were previously free, but limited to one per day per user.) The update also adds new lenses for customizing Snaps before sharing (think Instagram filters). SnapChat is free to download from the iTunes App Store. SnapChat didn't say when the Android app might gain the same features.
Spotify today updated its Android app with the Running playlist feature available to the iOS app since May. Spotify Running places an emphasis on discovering the songs that match tempo to the runner's pace. Spotify uses on-device sensors to determine pace and can do so very quickly. The company thinks this can help runners improve their workouts. Spotify is a music-streaming service. The app is free, but some features require a $10 monthly subscription.
Bank of America today updated its Android and iOS apps with biometric security. Consumers who own handsets with fingerprint sensors — such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 or Apple iPhone 6 — can now use their fingerprint to secure the Bank of America app. In addition to fingerprint login, the BofA app includes a redesigned account overview screen and security center, and a bank-by-appointment feature for setting up in-person meetings. The Bank of America app is free to download via the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Skype today revealed a new way for people to enliven their messages with what it calls Mojis. Mojis are short video clips pulled from popular movies and television shows such as The Muppets, Despicable Me, Bridesmaids, Pitch Perfect, and Jurassic Park that can be added to conversations. The clips contain famous and oft-used sound bytes or catchphrases from the movies and shows for their entertainment value. Some if the first content providers include Universal Studios, Disney Muppets, and BBC. Skype said it is working with other studios to bulk up its library of Mojis for Skype users. Mojis will be available to the Android, Mac, iOS, and Windows versions of Skype through an app update.
Following the release of the iOS 9 gold masters to developers, Apple today made iOS 9.1 available through its public beta program. Apple didn't immediately reveal what's new or different in the updated operating system. The beta is free for testers to download and use.
Periscope today updated its Android and iOS applications with support for landscape video capture and playback. Before today's update, Periscope videos needed to be shot in portrait orientation. Periscope says viewers can watch landscape-captured videos any way they want, and the app will automatically adjust to the way people are holding their phone. The updated app also adds context to shared videos, more accessibility tools, and more control over private video sharing. Periscope is a live video-broadcasting app and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or iTunes App Store for free.
ROK Mobile today said it plans to launch an all-you-can-eat mobile video service during the first quarter of 2016. The offering will include thousands of Hollywood movies and television shows, as well as small-studio content, such as anime, extreme sports, and other niche content. The company has not announced pricing for the service, but says it will be "affordable." It will be added to ROK's existing all-you-can-listen mobile music plan. ROK is partnering with SeaChange, an over-the-top video provider, to bring the mobile video content to Android and iOS devices. ROK Mobile is a music-focused MVNO that resells access to Sprint and T-Mobile's networks. ROK Mobile bundles wireless and music streaming services together for $49.99 per month. For that, users get 5GB of LTE 4G, unlimited calling and messaging, and unlimited access to ROK's 20 million tracks. Consumers interested in ROK Mobile need to supply their own Sprint- or T-Mobile-compatible handset. The service works on Android and iOS devices through ROK's mobile app.
Discover said it will allow its cardmembers to add their Discover card to Apple Pay beginning Sept. 16. Discover will reward cardmembers who add and use their card to Apple Pay with a 10% cashback bonus. Discover will reward customers with bonus cash on up to $10,000 worth of purchases made through the end of 2015. Moreover, Discover It Miles and Miles And Escape members will receive an extra 10 miles per dollar spent through Apple Pay on up to $10,000 in purchases. Discover said cardmembers' data will be protected through Apple Pay's unique transaction codes. Discover cardholders will need to upgrade to iOS 9 before adding their card. Discover's main competitors, MasterCard and Visa, have long supported Apple Pay, which launched October of last year.