Apple iPhone 5 (CDMA / global)
Apple plans to launch its iBeacon service at 254 of its U.S. stores today, reports the Associated Press. iBeacon uses Bluetooth transmitters inside Apple Stores to track the exact location of shoppers. Customers must download the most recent version of the Apple Store application, and turn their Bluetooth radios on in order for iBeacon to track them. When shoppers move about the Apple Store, iBeacon can sense if they are standing next to a table of iPhones, for example, and will send a message to ask if the customer is interested in an upgrade. The app can also direct shoppers to the check-out counter, or alert them when purchases are ready for pickup. Apple Stores will also be able to send alerts concerning sales or deals to shoppers in the vicinity. iOS device owners need to agree to allow Apple to track them in order for iBeacon to work. Apple has not updated the Apple Store application since early November, and it is unclear exactly when iBeacon will come online.
Foursquare today made version 7.0 of its application available for iPhones. The newest rendition of the popular location-sharing social network takes on iOS7's design language with new themes and colors throughout. Foursquare 7.0 now makes more real-time recommendations to users. For example, it will suggest food orders when users enter a specific restaurant based on the feedback provided by other users. The app also changes constantly, updating as users move about, offering information on as many of the nearby venues as it can. Foursquare also refreshed the news feed, making it easier to keep tabs on friends through Foursquare. Foursquare 7.0 is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple today made iOS 7.0.4 available to iPhones and iPads. The minor system update fixes a bug that caused Facetime calls to disconnect. The update is small and can be downloaded over the air.
Google updated its Hangouts app for iOS devices and added the ability to place free voice calls from the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch to other lines in the U.S. and Canada. Google Voice users can also receive calls through Google Hangouts. The app also improves visibility of who's online, makes it possible to send animated GIFs, and turns down music volume when incoming calls arrive. Hangouts for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft today made a new version of Skype available for iOS devices. The application has a refreshed look to better match the design language of iOS 7. It also has improved accessibility features, as well as speed improvements and other fixes. Skype for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store. It is compatible with both the iPhone and the iPad.
Google today released a version of it Google Wallet service that is compatible with Apple's iOS devices. Previously, it was only available to Android devices. Google Wallet for iOS lets users send money to others via an email address; add credit/debit and loyalty cards that can be used in stores; and see nearby offers/sales based on location. The app uses a PIN for security and the app can be disabled remotely if the phone is lost. Since iPhones do not have NFC radios on board, Google Wallet cannot be used to make mobile payments at retail locations where Google Wallet is accepted. The app mostly allows Google Wallet account holders to manage their account. Google Wallet for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple's new operating system takes a major step forward in terms of design and functionality. It greatly improves usability, while also introducing some nifty new features. Here is Phone Scoop's comprehensive review of iOS 7.
Facebook and Twitter today both welcomed Apple's iOS 7 update with significant updates of their own mobile applications. Facebook took to its blog to describe the changes it made to its app for iPhones, noting that it borrowed heavily from iOS 7's new design language. Facebook added a new navigation dock to the bottom of the screen that makes it easier to jump to different sections of the app. Additionally, it has a translucent bar at the top of the app that will change dynamically as you scroll through different photos and posts. Twitter also made changes to its app based on iOS 7's new features. For example, Twitter can now be searched by Siri, and Safari will display links shared in the user's Twitter feed. It also ties Twitter's music discovery feature to iTunes Radio via its own station. Further, Twitter makes it easier to share web pages and photos from within select iOS 7 apps, and adds Twitter handles to the iOS 7 contact application. Both Facebook and Twitter for iOS will be available later today and are free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today made available an updated version of its Chrome browser for iOS devices. Chrome 29 for the iPhone and iPad makes it easier to return to search results with an improved "back" function. The app also supports the use of pronouns in voice search, so users can ask more direct questions such as "Who is the...?". Other changes include a bandwidth manager to help control mobile data usa, and improved single sign-in with Google Apps. Chrome 29 for iOS will hit the iTunes App Store later today.
Apple on Tuesday discontinued its Cards application for the iPhone. The app let iPhone owners create greeting cards directly on their phone and then place orders for physical cards that would be delivered by mail. Apple said orders placed with the Cards app up until 1PM September 10 will be fulfilled. After that point, it ceased accepting new orders. Apple suggests that people use iPhoto on their Mac computer, instead.
Google today updated the Google Drive application for iOS devices with a refreshed user interface. The app now makes use of the card-style UI that Google has spread to a number of its mobile apps. The cards present files in a more attractive grid of thumbnails rather than a list. The app also gains the ability to edit in landscape mode (on the iPhone), copy file URLs, and more easily share files with others. Google Drive is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple today confirmed the launch of a trade-in program that will be available at its retail stores. iPhone owners will be able to take their functioning iPhone to an Apple Store and trade it in toward the purchase of a new iPhone. "In addition to helping support the environment, customers will be able to receive a credit for their returned phone that they can use toward the purchase of a new iPhone," said an Apple spokesperson. According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple will award up to $280 for old iPhones that are swapped for new ones. However, in order to buy a new iPhone customers will have to sign a new contract with a wireless network operator. The program gets under way today, according to CNBC.
Google today rolled out a small update to its Maps app for iOS devices. Google Maps for the iPhone and iPad now lets users share their location details with their Google+ circles. The update also contains bug fixes.
Google today published a version of its Chromecast application for Apple's iOS devices, including the iPhone and iPad. The Chromecast app for iOS allows users to set up their Chromecast to work with their Wi-Fi network, as well as manage their Chromecast settings (password, device name, etc.) Chromecast for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store and supports most iPhones and all iPads. Chromecast is already available to Android devices. Chromecast is an HDMI dongle that allows people to push online video content to their HDTV.
Apple has indicated that it opposes the Federal Communications Commission's mandate for interoperability in the 700MHz spectrum band. The FCC is weighing whether or not it should require all devices that use 700MHz spectrum to support all or most of the bands therein. AT&T and Verizon Wireless operate their LTE networks in Band Class 17 and Band Class 13, respectively, and Apple's iPhone works in both. The iPhone does not, however, support Band Class 12 in which smaller, regional operators, such as U.S. Cellular, operate. Smaller carriers have banded together and requested the interoperability measures, but the FCC has yet to act upon it. Apple's lawyers recently spoke to FCC representatives about the interoperability proceedings and called them unnecessary, problematic, and cost-inducing. AT&T also opposes the interoperability proposal. AT&T and others point to television channel 51 as the reason behind Band Class 17's creation in the first place, citing interference problems. A handful of interested parties met with the FCC to discuss the issue last month, but the FCC has not indicated when it may make a final ruling on the matter.
Skype for the iPhone was updated today. The new version of the app adds the ability to perform HD video calls on the iPhone 5. It also makes other performance enhancements and fixes several bugs.
Google has made an updated version of Google Maps available to iOS devices, including the Apple iPhone. The update, which has already been released to Android devices, makes a number of changes to the app. It offers improved navigation features thanks to live traffic updates and real-time re-routing when problems occur on a navigation path. It also adds a new tool called Explore, which can be used to perform searches for nearby places without typing, and builds in reviews for places such as restaurants and other businesses. Last, it populates maps with Google Offers that are nearby. Google Maps 2.0 for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Sony today announced that a new version of its Music Unlimited application is available to iOS devices, such as the Apple iPhone. The new version of Sony's music app adds support for offline playback, higher quality audio streams (320Kbps), and a new menu system. The application itself is free to download and install, but the service requires a monthly fee.
Microsoft today released Office Mobile for Office 365 subscribers. The software allows iPhone owners to create Microsoft Office Word and Excel documents, as well as open and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, but it requires a subscription to Microsoft's Office 365 service. Office Mobile allows iPhone owners to open Office documents embedded in emails, and syncs documents changes back to SkyDrive or SharePoint automatically. It also supports collaboration tools, such as adding and viewing comments, and sharing documents with others via email or SharePoint. The application supports more than two dozen languages. Office Mobile for Office 365 is optimized for the iPhone 5, but also works with older iPhones, the iPod Touch, and the iPad. It requires iOS 6.1 and up.
Verizon Wireless today made Verizon Cloud, its backup and storage service, available to the Apple iPhone. Verizon Cloud lets customers sync their smartphones and tablets to Verizon's servers. It offers 500MB of storage for free, and up to 125GB of storage for $9.99 per month. Verizon says the free option should be enough to backup settings, calls, messages, and contacts. Verizon Cloud was made available to Android devices last month. The application is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
U.S. Cellular may soon offer its customers the Apple iPhone, according to CEO Mary Dillon. Dillon was coy about actually naming the iPhone, but said the company will sell "Apple products later this year." U.S. Cellular is one of the few major carriers that doesn't offer the iPhone. "By further strengthening our device portfolio, we'll give consumers another great reason to switch to U.S. Cellular, and enable our existing customers to choose from an even wider variety of iconic smartphones, and enjoy the outstanding U.S. Cellular customer experiences they deserve," said Dillon. Dillon did not provide any more specifics about its plans. U.S. Cellular offers CDMA-based 3G service and has its own LTE 4G network in the 700 and 1700MHz bands. The company also reported earnings today and outlined its network plans moving forward. It expects to cover 87% of its existing 3G base with LTE 4G by the end of the year, which will include some 3,800 cities and towns in Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The company lost 51,000 customers during the most recent quarter and now claims to have 5.73 million subscribers.
Vine today pushed out version 1.1 of its iPhone application. The most significant new feature is the ability to toggle between the front and rear cameras, making self-Vines easier to capture. The update also makes it easier to search for and mention other Vine users in posts, and fixes several bugs. Vine 1.1 for the iPhone is a free download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today added its Google Now service to the Google Search application for the iPhone and iPad. In order to use Google Now, iOS device owners will need to download and install the newest version of Google Search. Users can then sign into their Google account and activate Google Now, which offers personalized information, such as local weather, sports scores, and the time it will take to commute home, in a card-like format on the screen. Google Search with Google Now is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Yahoo today made available a new version of its main Yahoo application for iOS devices. First and foremost, the application now includes Summly's recommendation technology, which Yahoo purchased just last month. The app features news and other content, and learns from user behavior over time to recommend more appealing stories. Other new features included more controls over personalized content, easier sharing with social networks, improved web search, and article summaries written by Yahoo. The app has also been given a visual overhaul. Yahoo for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Yahoo has been revising many of its Android and iOS apps in recent weeks, while at the same time cutting services, such as Yahoo Mail and Messenger for Java phones, that it feels distract from its core strengths.
Cricket Wireless today announced two new sets of plans, one for multiple lines and another for iPhones. The new family plan offers two smartphone lines for $40 per line per month. The plan includes unlimited voice minutes and text messages, 1GB of full-speed data (throttled thereafter), and Cricket's Muve Music service. Cricket also altered its iPhone service plans to match those it offers with Android smartphones. The base iPhone plan costs $50 per month and includes unlimited talk and text (domestic), 1GB of full-speed data, and Muve Music. iPhone customers can also choose a $60 plan to get 2.5GB of full-seed data and unlimited international messaging, or a $70 plan to get 5GB of full-speed data and unlimited international messaging. All three of these plans include mobile hotspot. The new plans, which went into effect April 21, are available at Cricket stores and select retailers.
Twitter announced on Good Morning America this morning that its new music service will become available to all users on the web beginning today. The service is meant to help Twitter users discover new music and is available online and through a dedicated iPhone application. The service works similar to Twitter.com, and is organized into tabs that offer different functions. The first two tabs focus on trends across Twitter as a whole: the Popular tab shows music that's trending across Twitter; and the Emerging tab reveals "hidden talent" that might otherwise be buried in Twitter. The second two tabs focus on the user's individual tastes: the Suggested tab recommends artists that are similar to those the user already follows on Twitter; and the #NowPlaying tab shows the songs that the user's friends are listening to or tweeting about. According to ABCNews' Joanna Stern, the iPhone application is integrated with Rdio, Spotify, and iTunes, and allows users to listen to songs without leaving the app or web page. Songs are shown in a grid, which the user can tap and then listen to complete with animated CDs spinning in circles. Rdio and Spotify users can listen to the entire song, while iTunes users can only hear a 90-second preview. Twitter is still working to forge relationships with other streaming music services to expand Twitter Music's catalog and reach. The iPhone application will reach the App Store later today; there is no Twitter Music application for Android devices.
Mailbox today got rid of the reservation system it had in place to control the number of people who downloaded its email application. There is no longer a wait list for the app, which is free and can be downloaded immediately by anyone who wants to try it. Mailbox is an iOS application that makes managing Gmail easier. In addition to the dropped wait list, Mailbox updated the app with several new features, including more granular control over "snoozes" based on the time of day; faster swiping gestures; user interface improvements, such as double-tapping to see an email address; and general bug fixes. Mailbox is available to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Foursquare today released a new version of its iPhone application that makes big changes to the way it recommends nearby places. According to Foursquare, it is taking better advantage of the data created by billions of user check-ins to offer instant, personalized recommendations when the app is opened. Foursquare 6.0 prioritizes search by placing the Explore function prominently in the app. The Explore search tool works directly with venue names, as well as with various types of key words to help find nearby places. Further, Foursquare will automatically provide lists of top attractions in any given area as soon as the app is opened. Foursquare 6.0 for iOS is a free download from the iTunes App Store. Foursquare did not indicate if similar updates will be made available to its Android and Windows Phone apps.
Google today updated its Google Search application for iPhones and iPads. The revised app makes significant improvements to the voice recognition feature, and now streams words on the fly as they are spoken. Google then performs web searches based on the spoken words. Google Search for iOS is free to download from iTunes.
Google has updated its Drive application for the iOS platform. The revised app now lets iPhone users edit documents and spreadsheets in landscape orientation. It also opens faster, and received minor bug fixes. The update is free to download from iTunes.
Vine today pushed out a minor update to its iPhone video application that should make it easier to share Vine videos across the web. Vine videos can now be embedded within Tweets, in Facebook posts, and on the web with new sharing tools in the app. The update also resolves several small bugs. Vine allows iPhone owners to piece together short video clips, or use a single clip, to create and publish six-second videos. It works similar to Instagram in that people follow other users to see their Vines.
TeleNav today provided an update to its Scout navigation app for the iPhone. Among the several new features added is the ability to sync Scout with the native iPhone calendar. The device owner can then go straight from calendar appointments to voice-guided navigation to the appointment from their current location. Scout also adds a feature called OnMyWay, which can be used to automatically send messages to family/friends with an estimated time of arrival when the user is navigating. The updated version of Scout also has a new dashboard for in-app navigation and more free car icons. Scout for iPhone is free to download and use.
Flipboard has overhauled its application for the iOS platform, and the app is chock full of new features. Flipboard 2.0 offers Etsy integration, which means when users perform searches, the app will use the results to create a digital magazine on the fly. The new app also lets users collect content that's interesting to them from various sources, such as articles, videos, and photos, and create their own, unique magazine in which to view them. The individually created magazines can then be shared with others. Other features of Flipboard 2.0 include a new content guide, more interactive commenting, more personalized recommended reading, easier navigation within specific sources, and integration with Facebook Open Graph search. Flipboard 2.0 is available to the iPhone and iPad. A revised version will be available for Android in the near future.
Apple recently indicated via its developer portal that it will no longer accept new apps or app updates that access UDIDs. The UDID (unique device identifier) is a code that refers to each iOS device and can be tied back to the owner's identity. The UDID was originally accessed by advertisers in their apps, but Apple began restricting access to UDIDs in 2011. It replaced the functionality of the UDID with anonymous Vendor and Advertising identifiers when it introduced iOS 6 in 2012. Beginning May 1, any app that attempts to access UDIDs won't be allowed. The measure is being taken to improve the privacy of iOS device owners. Apple is also mandating that all apps submitted to the App Store support Retina Displays, and the iPhone 5's 4-inch display. Apps not optimized for the iPhone 5's display float in the middle of the screen with black bars above and below the app. This policy change also goes into effect May 1.
THX has filed a lawsuit against Apple that claims the iPhone maker is violating its intellectual property. According to the complaint, THX holds a patent granted in 2008 for "narrow profile speaker configuration and systems" that pertains to boosting audio output in small speaker designs. THX says the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5, as well as all iPads and newer iMacs violate this patent. THX is seeking damages for lost royalties/sales and a fair licensing agreement for its technology moving forward. THX Ltd. was formerly part of Lucasfilm, founded by George Lucas of Star Wars fame. The company was spun off as an independent entity in 2002.
Alltel recently announced that the Apple iPhone 5, 4S, and 4 will be available beginning March 15. The iPhone 5 costs $149, $249, and $349 for the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB variants, respectively. The 4S costs $49 and the 4 costs $0.99.
Google today provided an update to the iPhone version of Google Maps. Google Maps version 1.1 now lets users search through their Google Contact list from within the Maps app, as well as see saved addresses on the map when signed in. The new version also makes it easier to find local points of interest, such as restaurants, cafes, or gas stations, with a new category search tool. Last, Google Maps for iPhone now lets users choose between miles and kilometers. Google Maps is a free download from the iTunes App Store.
Google has rolled out a new version of its YouTube application for the Apple iPhone and iPad. The revised video app now lets iPhone and iPad owners send the YouTube video from their phone or tablet to Google TV-compatible gear, such as an XBox or PS3. The new feature mimics that of Apple's AirPlay, which can push on-device media to the Apple TV (and TV to which the Apple TV is connected). The new YouTube app also improves stability of streams over Wi-Fi and makes a number of small performance improvements. YouTube for the iPhone and iPad is a free download from the iTunes App Store.
Skype today released Skype 4.5 for both the iPhone and iPad. The revised application adds several features, including automatic call recovery for dropped calls and the ability to opt in/out of marketing. The new app also fixes a bug related to the ordering of instant messaging conversations. The iPhone app will now route emergency calls to the native dialer. Changes specific to the iPad include a revised user interface and other minor tweaks. Skype for the iPhone and iPad is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Facebook today made version 5.4 of its iOS application available to iPhones, iPods, and iPads. Facebook 5.4 for iOS adds the ability to record and share videos directly from within the app, voice messaging, and an improved Nearby tab, which shows users what businesses and landmarks are nearby. The update is a free download from iTunes.