Apple iPhone 5s
Apple today released iOS8 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (5th gen). iOS8 offers a number of refinements to Apple's mobile operating system. Some of the new features include a new word prediction engine and support for third-party keyboards; family sharing for iTunes content; Continuity for seamless messaging across devices; revised gallery and camera apps that make sharing and editing easier; improvements to Spotlight search; the ability to send audio clips within text messages; and Health for tracking fitness and health apps. iOS8 is compatible with the iPhone 4s, 5, 5s, and 5c, as well as most iPads. It comes preinstalled on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which go on sale September 19. The system update can be installed over Wi-Fi or via iTunes.
Google today updated the Play Movies & TV app for iOS devices. The most significant new feature is support for offline playback. iPhone and iPad owners will be able to rent movies from the Google Play store, download them to their device, and watch them when offline though the Play Movies & TV app. Google also made stability improvements to, and enhanced performance of, the app. Google Play Movies & TV is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Skype today updated its application for the iPhone. Skype 5.4 adds one core feature: the ability to host group calls. The updated app can initiate calls to groups with a single press. In-progress calls allow participants to see who's on the call, as well as add or drop participants at will. Skype 5.4 for the iPhone is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Sprint today said its iPhone customers now have access to the Sprint Framily Wall product. Sprint customers can use the Framily Wall to hold single and group chats, share videos and pictures, and collaborate through calendars. The basic service is free and includes 100MB of online storage. A premium version ups storage to 10GB and adds support for HD photos/videos for $3 per month. Sprint Framily Wall is already available to Android devices.
Google today rolled out an update for its Gmail app for iOS devices. The update carries over a feature given to the Android app earlier this month: the ability to share files from Google Drive. iPhone and iPad owners can now insert documents from their Drive account into emails as they compose them on their device. The app makes it easy to save email attachments from Gmail to Drive, too. Gmail for iOS allows users to change their Gmail account picture, and those with multiple Gmail accounts can choose which signed-in accounts they want visible in the app. Gmail is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft's Skype team today announced yet another update to its mobile application for the iPhone. Skype version 5.2 adds several new features, including new support for voice messages, which are automatically added to text conversations. The app makes it easier to view contact profiles, which reveals details such as mood, name, birthday, location, and so on. Skype 5.2 also allows users to add participants to existing conversations. Skype completely overhauled its iPhone app in mid-June. Skype for the iPhone is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple today released a minor update to iOS for iPhones and iPads. The small system jump resolves several bugs and can be downloaded and installed over the air for free.
Truphone announced that it will sell the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c beginning May 30. Truphone traditionally relies on a bring-your-own-device model and only sells SIM cards and mobile applications. The iPhones will be among the first handsets the company has sold directly. Truphone didn't say how much it will charge for the iPhone 5s/5c, but they will likely be the unlocked versions of the handsets in order to be compatible with as many different networks as possible. Truphone offers worldwide coverage thanks to roaming agreements with carriers around the globe. People can purchase a Truphone SIM card and rate plan and enjoy local calling, messaging, and data rates in dozens of countries. Earlier this week, Truphone expanded its reach to 66 countries. Travelers will enjoy the best rates in the Truphone Zone, which are eight core countries (U.S., U.K., Australia, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, and Spain). Customers can choose up to eight international phone numbers that are active on the same SIM card in order to take advantage of the best rates possible. Truphone also offers apps for Android, BlackBerry, and iOS devices that provide free international calling via Wi-Fi, 3G, and 4G.
Verizon Wireless today announced the launch of XLTE service, which is a new way for the company to market its dual-band LTE network. Verizon Wireless initially deployed LTE in the 700MHz band. Verizon's build-out of LTE in the 700MHz band is functionally complete. Verizon began rolling out LTE on its 1700MHz AWS spectrum late last year, and has been slowly adding markets over time. As of today, Verizon says it has initiated service on its AWS spectrum in half its existing LTE footprint. Moving forward, Verizon Wireless will market its dual-band LTE coverage as XLTE in much the same way that Sprint is marketing its tri-band LTE service as Sprint Spark. According to Verizon, XLTE markets offer consumers far more headroom thanks to dramatically improved capacity. With twice the spectrum to work with, XLTE markets can deliver faster peak data speeds when compared to Verizon's 700MHz-only LTE markets. Verizon said a number of its most popular devices are already compatible with its XLTE service, including the Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, and Note 3; the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c; and the Motorola Droid Maxx, Ultra, and Mini. Customers who own these devices don't need to do anything in order to take advantage of XLTE. They'll automatically connect to Verizon's dual-band LTE network where it is available. Non-XLTE devices will still be able to access Verizon's LTE network as normal. Verizon will continue to roll out XLTE to more markets over time. Verizon didn't say how long it will take to build-out its AWS LTE coverage. Verizon acquired the AWS spectrum from a consortium of cable companies in 2012.
Sprint today rolled out an enhanced version of its handset insurance program. The new program, called Total Equipment Protection Plus offers to insure not only the handset, but the contents of the handset as well. The device insurance is provided by Asurion and protects against loss, theft, damage, and device malfunction. The expanded service can be used to automatically backup and secure on-device data, such as photos, contacts, videos, and settings. TEP Plus will also use monitoring and optimization tools to improve battery life and performance, as well as apply antivirus and malware tools to protect against intrusive or harmful apps. The service can remotely find, lock, or erase a missing device, and provide one-click access to a live tech support representative for instant help with problems. Total Equipment Protection Plus is compatible with the iPhone and Android devices (4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and up). Customers can upgrade to the new service or stay with their existing service. Total Equipment Protection Plus costs $13 per month.
Yahoo today rolled out a new version of its email application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The email app continues to serve as a dedicated, mobile link to your Yahoo inbox, but Yahoo added several new features. The bottom of the screen now holds three tabs: email, news, and today. The first tab takes users to their inbox. The second tab takes users to a page full of headlines culled from Yahoo's home page. The third tab takes people to a somewhat more specific news page that includes local weather, stock quotes, and sports scores from nearby teams. Yahoo Mail is free to download from the iTunes App Store, though Yahoo said the new version will be rolled out to U.S. users over the next couple of weeks.
Apple today made iOS 7.1.1 available for download. The minor system update, which applies to the iPhone and iPad, resolves a handful of ongoing issues. It further improves performance of the TouchID function of the iPhone 5s, tweaks keyboard responsiveness, and tackles a bug related to Bluetooth keyboards when VoiceOver is activated. The update marks the first maintenance update to iOS 7.1, which was released last month, and is free to download and install.
Facebook recently updated Messenger for iOS devices and added several new features to the stand-alone messaging app. First and foremost, Messenger now supports groups. Users can create groups, name them, tag them with photos, and save them. Second, users can now forward messages from one user/conversation to another. Facebook also said the app contains several bug fixes and performance improvements. Facebook Messenger for the iPhone is free to download from iTunes.
Straight Talk, an MVNO that runs a bring-your-own-device service, is now offering nano SIM cards. Nano SIMs are the smallest SIM cards available, and fit devices such as the iPhone 5/5s/5c, Moto X, and select Droids. The nano SIM cards cost $6.99. Customers can buy the SIM cards directly from Straight Talk and use them in unlocked GSM handsets. Service plans for smartphones start at $45 per month and include unlimited voice minutes and messaging, and 2.5GB of high-speed data. Straight Talk's service runs on the networks of both AT&T and T-Mobile around the U.S.
Apple today made iOS 7.1 available to iPhones, iPads, and iPods Touch. The operating system update resolves a significant bug that soft reset iOS devices when being used. iOS 7.1 also adds support for CarPlay, Apple's recently-announced in-car software. The update tweaks the behavior of a wide range of functions, such as the ability to control Siri manually by pressing and holding the home button. Siri gains more natural-sounding voices for Chinese, UK English, Australian English, and Japanese. iTunes Radio was improved with new placement of the search bar, and the ability to buy albums directly from the Now Playing screen. The Calendar app gains the ability to display events in the month view, as well as view country-specific holidays. Accessibility has been improved with a bold font option, and the Reduce Motion function now applies to more apps, including weather and messages. iOS 7.1 also adds new HDR camera tools, improves iCloud Keychain support, automatically clears FaceTime calls, improves Touch ID on the iPhone 5s, improves performance of the iPhone 4, and provides other UI teaks. iOS 7.1 is free to download from Apple.
Apple today announced CarPlay, a bridge that will let drivers user their car's infotainment center to access and interact with their iPhone. In order to work, CarPlay must be installed by the car manufacturer and a separate app must be installed on the iPhone. Drivers can use the car-based controls, such as steering wheel buttons, to launch Siri (Apple's voice-activated assistant), which can then access contacts, make calls, and listen to voicemails. Siri will read incoming messages aloud at the user's request, as well as dictate spoken messages for replies. CarPlay ties into Apple Maps, and can access recent trips, or addresses buried within emails or text messages, as well as plan and route turn-by-turn directions. Apple Maps will appear on the car's built-in display. CarPlay also gives drivers access to all their music, audiobooks, iTunes Radio, and podcasts with on-screen navigation or through Siri. According to Apple, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo will be the first to add CarPlay to their vehicles. Other car makers, including BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota, will follow down the road. CarPlay will be enabled in iPhones through a system update.
Verizon Wireless today announced the availability of the Incipio Cashwrap case for owners of the iPhone. The Cashwrap case includes an NFC radio and compatibility with the Isis mobile payment service. iPhone owners interested in using Isis will need to have a special SIM card, the case, the Isis application, and a credit card from a participating financial institution. The case is available for the iPhone 4/4S and 5/5s. It costs $70 and can be purchased directly from Verizon Wireless. The Cashwrap case was recently made available to AT&T iPhone owners, as well, but has yet to arrive for T-Mobile customers.
Apple recently published updates to its core productivity applications for the iPhone and iPad. Pages, Apple's word processor, has a significant number of new features. The app now lets users share password-protected documents via iCloud or export them to .docx files. The app supports charts with date, time, and duration values, and makes it easier to start lists with new characters. The app also improves support for bidirectional text, ePub export, and compatibility with Microsoft Word 2013 documents. Keynote, Apple's presentation app, includes many of the same improvements and also adds a new remote feature to control slideshows on other devices, adds new transitions, improves presenter display options, and adds custom number formats. Numbers, Apple's spreadsheet app, now permits spreadsheets to be viewed and edited in landscape orientation, adds iCloud sharing and .xlsx file export for secure documents, and improves compatibility with Microsoft's Excel program. Each app costs $9.99, but the update is free for customers who've already purchased the apps.
StraightTalk Wireless and Net10 Wireless today announced they will each sell the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c beginning December 13. The iPhones will be sold at Walmart stores and online for their full retail prices. The 16GB iPhone 5s costs $649, the 16GB iPhone 5c (online only) costs $549, and the 8GB iPhone 4S costs $449. StraightTalk's no-contract plans start at $45 per month and Net10's no-contract plans start at $50 per month. Customers can finance their iPhone purchase when they use a Walmart credit card.
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 the unlocked iPhone 5s available online. Apple is charging $649 for the 16GB model, $749 for the 32GB model, and $849 for the 64GB model. Unlocked models are already available in Apple's retail stores.
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.
AT&T has begun to repurpose its 1900MHz PCS spectrum to help bolster its LTE network. GigaOm reports that AT&T is operating LTE in a 5MHz-by-5MHz slice of airwaves in its PCS band in New York City. AT&T has previously used the PCS band only for voice services and GSM/HSPA data. In addition to refarming some of its existing spectrum, GigaOm discovered that AT&T has already added LTE support in the PCS band to a number of its devices, including the iPhone 5s/5c, iPad Air/Mini, and the Nexus 5. These devices are already connecting to AT&T's LTE service in the 1900MHz band in New York. The additional LTE availability won't increase data speeds on AT&T's network, but it will offer more capacity in markets where it is needed. More than a year ago, AT&T said that it will shutter its GSM/EDGE network entirely by 2017 and reuse that spectrum for faster networks. AT&T competitors Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are all working on similar spectrum repurposing projects to improve the capacity of their own LTE networks in order to meet the growing demand for mobile broadband.
Boost Mobile today announced pricing details for the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. It will sell both phones beginning Friday, November 8. Boost is charging $549.99 for the 16GB iPhone 5s, and $649.99 and $749.99 for the 32GB and 64GB models, respectively. Boost is charging $449.99 for the 16GB iPhone 5c and $649.99 for the 32GB model. It is selling the iPhone 4s for $299.99. Boost Mobile provides pre-paid service that runs on Sprint's CDMA/LTE networks. It does not require contracts. The prices it is charging for most of the iPhones mentioned above is $100 off the full retail price charged by Apple.
Cricket Wireless today made available the Apple iPhone 5s and 5c. Cricket customers may buy the new iPhones at Cricket retail stores or via Cricket's web site. Cricket is only selling the 16GB models. It is charging $599.99 for the iPhone 5s and $499.99 for the iPhone 5c. Cricket also offers device financing. Well-qualified customers can get the new iPhones for as little as $25 down and payments as low as $21 per month (for iPhone 5c). Service plans start at $50 for unlimited talk, text, and data. Cricket does not require contracts.
Apple today made available a minor update to its iOS 7 operating system. The new platform software includes support for iCloud Keychain, which can be used to keep track of account names, passwords, and credit cards across Mac devices. According to the changelog, the system update also adds a password generator for Safari; updates the lock screen TouchID behavior and patches a lockscreen bug; returns web and Wikipedia search to Spotlight; fixes several iMessage bugs; improves iWork stability; eliminates a VoiceOver bug that impacted Siri and input sensitivity; and resolves an accelerometer calibration issue. iOS 7 is free to download over the air and is compatible with devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Boost Mobile today announced that it will sell the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c to its prepaid customers beginning November 8. Boost did not immediately offer details on how much it will charge for the iPhones.
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.
U.S. Cellular today announced that it will offer the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c beginning November 8. U.S. Cellular didn't announce pricing details. It is already for sale from most other U.S. carriers.
Cricket Wireless today announced that it will begin selling the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c on October 25. Interested customers may sign up for more details. Pricing wasn't disclosed.
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.
Virgin Mobile USA today announced that it will offer the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c online and in stores beginning October 1. The new iPhones will be sold at full retail price without a contract.
C Spire Wireless today announced that it will offer the iPhone 5s and 5c on October 1. C Spire didn't announce pricing for either device.
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.
T-Mobile today announced its Simple Choice pricing for the new Apple iPhones. Beginning September 20, T-Mobile will sell the 16GB iPhone 5s for a $99 down payment followed by 24 payments of $22.91. The 32GB and 64GB models will require down payments of $199 and $299, respectively, but T-Mobile is charging the same $22.91 monthly fee. T-Mobile will also sell 16GB iPhone 5c for $0 down payment followed by 24 equal monthly payments of $22. The 32GB iPhone 5c requires a $99 down payment and 24 monthly payments of $22.91. The iPhone 5c can be pre-ordered from Apple's web site beginning today. Both devices will be in T-Mobile retail stores next week.
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.
AT&T today announced how it will price Apple's iPhone 5s and 5c with its AT&T Next plans. The AT&T Next plans do not require down payments and let people pay for their device over time through monthly installments. The 64GB iPhone 5s will carry a $37 monthly device fee, while the 32GB model will cost $32 per month and the 16GB model will cost $27 per month. The 32GB iPhone 5c will carry a $27 monthly device fee, and the 16GB model will cost $22 per month. The contract pricing for the iPhone 5s costs $199, $299, and $399 for the 16, 32, and 64GB models, respectively; and the iPhone 5c costs $99 and $199 for the 16 and 32GB models, respectively.