iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Apple today announced an updated version of its Apple TV app that supports paid channels within the app. It will be available on iOS, tvOS, macOS, Roku, Fire TV, and smart TVs from Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio. It will be available in May in over 100 countries. Paid channels available in the US include Apple's new "Apple tv+" channel with its own original content, as well as HBO, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, CBS All Access, Comedy Central, and more. The new Apple TV app supports offline viewing and family sharing.
Apple Arcade will be a monthly subscription service for a series of curated games. It will feature over 100 games at launch, with new games added regularly. A single Arcade subscription buys full access to all Arcade games, none of which have ads. Arcade games will work across iOS, macOS and tvOS, and game state is maintained across different devices. The service will feature games from Annapurna Interactive, Bossa Studios, Cartoon Network, Finji, Giant Squid, Klei Entertainment, Konami, LEGO, Mistwalker Corporation, SEGA, Snowman, ustwo games and dozens more. Apple Arcade will launch in fall 2019 in more than 150 countries from a new tab on the App Store. Pricing was not announced.
Apple today launched its own branded credit card: Apple Card. Starting this summer, customers can sign up for the card on their iOS device in minutes, and use it immediately with Apple Pay. It charges no annual fees, international fees, nor late fees. Customers get 2% cash back on all purchases, or 3% on purchases from Apple. The cash back is paid daily, deposited on a separate Apple Cash card, which also lives in the Wallet and works with Apple Pay. Apple uses Apple Maps and machine learning to translate often-cryptic charge descriptions into more obvious line items. An interactive interest calculator helps customers choose the best amount to pay down each month. A built-in spend analyzer helps users see expense categories and trends. Support is provided via iMessage. Apple card works anywhere MasterCard is accepted and is backed by Goldman Sachs.
Apple's News app for iOS now offers a $10/month paid subscription option called News+, which includes full access to the Wall Street Journal, LA Times, over 300 magazines, and the premium sections of several major web sites such as TechCrunch. Separate subscriptions to all of these publications would cost over $8,000/year. New content is downloaded automatically. Neither Apple nor advertisers can see what you choose to read. Apple is offering the first month free. News+ is available today in the US via an update to iOS. A similar offering is also launching today in Canada, and coming soon to Australia and Europe, starting with the UK.
Apple today announced that its next annual developer conference will take place June 3-7, 2019 in San Jose. The company usually reveals details of a new version of its iOS software during the keynote presentation on the first day of the event.
Apple takes a 30% cut of all iOS in-app purchases for digital products and services (but not physical ones). This includes products like a Spotify Premium subscription. Spotify argues that it cannot offer pricing competitive with Apple Music when they have to pay the 30% but Apple does not. Spotify and similar companies can accept payments via other means, but Apple then prevents them from emailing their own customers about updates, etc. Spotify has taken their argument to the European Commission, asking them to rule that these practices constitute unfair competition.
The Sony PlayStation 4 Remote Play app is now available for iOS, accompanied by a corresponding update to the software for the PS4 itself. The app allows users to stream games from their PS4 console to an iOS mobile device over Wi-Fi. The graphics for compatible games are streamed in real-time, overlaid with on-screen controls. The app also lets gamers use the mic and keyboard of their mobile device to interact with games. It requires an iPhone 7 or later, and iOS 12.1 or later. An Android version of the app has been available for several years, but is restricted to Sony's Xperia phones.
Excel for phones now lets users import table data directly into spreadsheets from a photo taken with the phone's camera. Microsoft announced the feature last September. It's rolling out now for the Android version of the app, "with iOS support coming soon". The feature lets users take a new photo from within the app, or import an image already on the phone. They can then crop to the table, then review the import for errors in a split-screen mode.
KaiOS, a popular new OS for cheap feature phones, will soon gain two major new features: YouTube and voice typing. The development is the result of KaiOS expanding its partnership with Google. Google Assistant and Google Maps will also be integrated more deeply with KaiOS. The update will roll out later this year.
Apple and Goldman Sachs are working together on an Apple MasterCard credit card that would integrate with Apple Pay and offer 2% cash back. The Wall Street Journal reports that the card would offer unique software features in iPhones, such as setting spending goals, tracking rewards and managing balances from within Apple's Wallet app. Goldman has never offered a credit card before, and is spending $200 million to build the infrastructure to support the new card. The product is about to enter testing with Apple employees. The companies plan to launch it for consumers later this year.
Google's newest version of Gboard — its keyboard-replacement app for iOS — adds physical feedback when typing. Apple's own iOS keyboard does not offer this popular feature. The haptic feedback feature is available on iPhone 7 and later. Gboard also offers input by word swipe and voice. It includes emoji (with search), GIFs, stickers, and personalized stickers. Google search is built-in and results — such as business listings, videos, images, and articles — can easily be pasted and sent to others. The new version is 1.4 and is available now in the Apple App Store.
Apple iOS 12.1.4 is available today, and fixes the major privacy bug discovered last week that enabled FaceTime callers to hear (and sometimes see) people before they picked up the call. Apple turned off Group FaceTime for everyone as its initial response to the issue, and it remains off for everyone without today's update.
A massive bug in Apple's new Group FaceTime feature allowed callers to listen in on people before they answered an incoming FaceTime call, and in some cases even see live video. Apple has already moved to prevent the issue from affecting users by turning off the Group FaceTime feature altogether, for all users, apparently with a change to its cloud systems. Before Apple acted, anyone running iOS 12.1 could exploit the bug by initiating a FaceTime video call to their target, then making it a Group FaceTime by adding their own phone number to the call. The caller would then receive audio from the other end, and if the callee pressed the power button to dismiss the incoming call, it would instead trigger live video to be sent to the caller. The issue also affected FaceTime on MacOS. Apple has acknowledged the bug and promised a software update to fix it
"Unlimited" Verizon 4G service is now available to anyone for $40/month through Visible, an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator). The Verizon-backed company launched in May last year as an invite-only service for people bringing their own compatible iPhone. The company dropped the invitation requirement later in the year. As of today, the service is compatible with Android phones, and the company is selling new iPhone and Android phones. The initial Android selection is just the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. The 4G service is limited to 5 Mbps data speed, but all usage is otherwise unlimited. The company does not charge activation fees, SIM card kit fees, upgrade fees, nor restocking fees. The company now offers phone financing with no interest and no down payment, as well as phone insurance plans. Visible has no physical locations, offering activation, support, and all customer interactions via its app, now available for both iOS and in beta for Android.
A new group video chat app called Squad lets users share what's on their screen, including other apps, in addition to traditional video chat. It's currently available for iOS; an Android version is in internal beta. The Android version also supports picture-in-picture, for sharing both a live selfie and screen sharing at the same time. Squad is designed to let users turn any app, including social media apps, into a shared social experience. In beta testing, users also found it useful for tech help, homework help, and coordinating dining and travel plans.
ToughTested has a new Qi wireless charging pad designed primarily for cars. Its grippy all-rubber construction ensures it stays put, and that your phone stays put while charging. It supports wireless fast charging up to 10W, including Apple's 7.5W fast charging mode for iPhones. It's large enough to accommodate the largest phones, but designed so that a phone placed anywhere in the tray will charge; no centering needed. It has foreign object detection and is Qi-certified to ensure it won't overheat the phone. It includes a Quick Charge power supply that plugs into a car's 12V power port. It will go on sale in March for about $50. Read on for photos and first impressions.
Residents of Los Angeles can now download an app that can provide early warning of many major earthquakes. The app, offered by the city, is called ShakeAlertLA and is available now for both Android and iOS. The app was developed under contract with AT&T and is powered by the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) earthquake early warning system. The USGS system currently includes 615 earthquake-sensing stations in California, with another 500 to be added by 2021. Similar services are already available in Mexico City and Japan, and have proven effective in giving citizens time to find safety in the event of a quake.
Instagram today announced several new ways people can interact with one another via the social network. First, it has added the ability to ask friends for music recommendations, or to make your own recommendations, using the questions sticker. A new music icon appears in the sticker that lets people browse or search through the music library and then share. Opening the viewer's list will reveal all the responses and recommendations. Instagram says people can take a picture or video as the music plays in the background. New effects in the camera respond to the beat of the music. These features are rolling out for Android and iOS in select regions. Second, Instagram says people can use the question sticker in Live to interact with people in real time. When users go Live, a "Q&A" indicator will show up in the stories tray. Join the Live video to see questions and answers as they happen. Those broadcasting Live can share photos and videos from their camera roll directly to the Live feed. Instagram says questions in Live will be rolling out on the latest version of Instagram for iOS and Android starting today. Last, Instagram has added a new interactive countdown sticker for stories. It lets people count down to upcoming moments, such as holidays, with their friends. People can follow the countdown and they will receive a notification when the countdown ends. Once users create a countdown, it will remain available for use in other stories. This feature will reach all users globally today.
Twitter today said iPhone owners can now choose to view tweets in the order they were published. This generally means in reverse chronological order, which is how Twitter originally operated until it later introduced the algorithmic feed. The company has been testing the tool since September and made it available through its mobile app for iPhones. It will reach the Android mobile app soon, says Twitter. People will see a sparkle icon in the app. Tapping it re-orders the timeline. The default experience is still based on Twitter's algorithmic feed, which showcases "top tweets" first. Twitter made the change based on customer feedback.
Apple today made iOS 12.1.2 available to iPhones and iPads. The update targets several bugs related to eSIM activation on the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max. It also addresses an issue that could affect cellular connectivity in some markets on those same phones. iOS 12.1.2 is free to download over the air.
Fitbit today said it is distributing Fitbit OS 3.0 to its two most powerful devices, the Ionic and Versa smartwatches. The upgraded platform is more personal and customizable. It includes a revised Fitbit Today dashboard that features new tiles so owners can see their sleep quality, weight, water intake, and food at a glance. The Fitbit app gallery boasts several new apps. For example, a fresh health and fitness app helps people remain on target each day. Another new app, TRX, offers quick guided workouts, and FitBark lets people add their pet’s activity to their own. Last, revised goal-based exercise modes let people set targets and ensure real-time stats are properly recorded for more than 15 different activities. The Fitbit Ionic and Versa are compatible with Android and iOS devices. The watch update is available via the associated mobile phone app.
Apple plans to issue a software patch to its iPhones to appease Qualcomm and Chinese authorities. Earlier this week, a Chinese court found Apple to be in violation of two Qualcomm patents pertaining to resizing pictures and managing apps with a touch screen. The court issued a ban against Apple, blocking it from importing a range of phones into China. Though Apple is appealing that decision, it claims it can mitigate the issue via software. "Based on the iPhone models we offer today in China, we believe we are in compliance," said Apple in a statement provided to Reuters. Even so, the company went on to say, "Early next week we will deliver a software update for iPhone users in China addressing the minor functionality of the two patents at issue in the case." Apple didn't provide details concerning how the update will resolve the issue. As part of its appeal to the Chinese court, Apple said any ban would impact Chinese suppliers, Chinese consumers, and tax revenue it pays to Chinese authorities. Though the ruling called for an immediate ban, Apple's devices still remain available for sale in China. The patent spat between Apple and Qualcomm is part of a global battle over patent licensing practices and royalty payments.
Google today updated its YouTube Music mobile app with YouTube Charts. The charts are available as playlists within the YouTube Music app and are accessible from all 29 markets where YouTube Music operates. Google says the charts contain the freshest, hottest songs and videos, which can be streamed or downloaded (for premium subscribers). Each country is given access to five charts: three from their own region and two world charts. Users can add the charted playlists to their own library if they wish. Some of the charts include the top 100 songs, top 100 videos, and top 20 trending songs, based on fast-rising new releases. YouTube Music is available to Android and iOS devices via the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
Google today announced a new partnership with Lime that hopes to help people get across the "last mile" of their journey. In 13 cities around the world, Maps will display the location of nearby Lime scooters, bikes, and e-bikes. The option to use Lime will appear under the transit icon when navigating between points. Maps will detail the closest Lime vehicle, the vehicle type, how long it will take to walk to the vehicle, how much the ride will cost, and the total journey time. Lime users can integrate their Lime card with Google Maps. Tapping on Lime in Maps will then take people to the Lime app and provide all the necessary details to book a scooter, find it, and unlock it. In the U.S., Lime scooters will be visible in Austin, Baltimore, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose, Scottsdale, and Seattle. International cities include Auckland, New Zealand, and Brisbane, Australia. The feature is available in Maps for both Android and iOS.
Google recently updated the Google Search app for iOS devices and added the Google Lens visual search feature. The Google Lens icon now appears in the search bar. Pressing it turns on the camera, which can then be aimed at objects, text, plants/animals, books/media, and QR/barcodes. Objects and items that Google recognizes will generate results that are displayed on the screen. Google Lens is already part of Google Photos on iOS. This latest feature simplifies the process of searching based on images rather than words. The updated version of Google Search for iOS is rolling out to users now.
Instagram today said users can put the direct messaging tool inside its mobile app to work with their voice. The private messaging function now supports voice messages. "Talk the way you want to be heard, whether by whispering what you’re up to or shouting a compliment," said Instagram. The feature is rolling out to Android and iOS devices over the next few days.
Google today extended the availability of its For You feature in Google Maps to iOS devices. The feature was first rolled out to Android phones earlier this year. Moving forward, iPhone owners will be able to follow their favorite places, such as coffee shops or record stores. News from the followed place will then appear under the For You tab within maps. Places can advertise sales, offers, and events in this space where followers can check in for updates any time. Google Maps is also making it possible to keep tabs on places that haven't yet opened. Businesses prepping new locations can add profiles to Maps as much as three months before launch. People can follow the profile as soon as it becomes available, where they can be kept up-to-date on launch details. The For You tab will reach iOS devices in more than 40 countries over the next few days. At the same time, Google says it expanded the availability of For You in Maps for Android to a total of 130 countries. Google Maps is free to download.
Essential Products has acquired CloudMagic, the company behind the Newton email service. Essential told TechCrunch that it is "always on the lookout for companies with great technology and talent to help accelerate our product roadmap." The deal has sparked curiosity, as CloudMagic shut Newton down in September, stranding about 40,000 subscribers who'd paid for the service. Essential's future is unclear. The company's only phone, the Essential Phone, did not resonate with consumers. Essential dropped about one-third of its hardware staff in October. It has not announced any new products for some time.
AT&T and Verizon Wireless have confirmed that the latest system update for iPhones from Apple has made it possible to support the eSIM on their networks. AT&T is activating eSIM support on the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR starting today. It won't cost AT&T subscribers to use the feature. "AT&T does not charge for a SIM Card/eSIM Card for device upgrades or new lines of service," said the company in a statement provided to Fierce Wireless. Verizon told Fierce that it will initiate support for the eSIM starting tomorrow, December 7. T-Mobile is still working to make eSIM happen, but has not provided a timeline for bringing the feature to its customers. The eSIM in the newer iPhones allows the devices to act as though they have dual SIM cards. Owners can designate one SIM as the primary and use that for calls, messaging, and data. The secondary SIM acts as a separate account and can handle calls and texts.
Apple said owners of the Apple Watch can expect to see watchOS 5.1.2 arrive later today. This update targets the new Series 4 smartwatch and introduces features Apple first revealed earlier this year. The Series 4 gains an ECG app, which gives people the ability to take an electrocardiogram (ECG). Electrodes built into the back of the Digital Crown support the feature. Watch owners need only launch the app and press and hold the Digital Crown for 30 seconds. In addition to taking the ECG, the app also looks for irregular heart rhythms. The Watch is specifically looking for signs of atrial fibrillation, which is a warning sign of imminent health events such as a stroke. Apple worked with the FDA for years in order make this possible. The results are stored securely in the Health app on the associated iPhone and can be shard in PDF form with health care providers. All Apple Watches gain access to an improved heart rhythm detector. The detector uses the optical heart sensor on the Watch to check the rhythm occasionally. If it detects any abnormalities, it will alert the wearer. This feature was validated by testing hundreds of people. Apple says these new tools will need to be turned on. An onscreen setup flow teaches Apple Watch owners what the features can do, what they cannot do, what types of results they may get, and how to interpret those results and take action if warranted. watchOS 5.1.2 will be available for download today.
Apple today released iOS 12.1.1, an update for iPhones and iPads that introduces a handful of new features. To start, iOS 12.1.1 brings dual SIM support, via eSIM, to more carriers for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. The XR gains haptic vibrations for notification previews. The update reinstates the ability to flip between the rear and front-facing cameras during a FaceTime call with a single button tap. The software makes it possible to capture Live Photos during one-to-one FaceTime calls, as well as take advantage of real-time text when using WiFi calling on the iPad. Apple News gives iPad users the option to hide the sidebar when in landscape orientation. As to be expected, a number bug fixes are included in iOS 12.1.1. For example, it makes stability improvements to dictation when using VoiceOver, fixes a Face ID reliability problem, addresses a visual voicemail glitch, and resolves an issue in Messages that sometimes prevented predictive text suggestions when typing in Chinese or Japanese. Other fixes tackle a problem that prevented Voice Memos from backing up to iCloud and a bug that prevented time zones from updating automatically. iOS 12.1.1 is free to download over the air.
Microsoft today revealed a wholly redesigned version of Outlook Mobile for iOS devices. Not only did Microsoft give the app a fresh coat of paint, it tweaked many of the tap and swipe actions to help speed up and simplify users' daily routines. For example, when users swipe left or right on an email they'll see changes in color and shape, as well as experience haptic feedback to make it more obvious what action is taking place. Microsoft has animated the calendar icon, which now fans forward or backward as people scroll their agenda, and the app now calls out calendar conflicts more visually. Microsoft has changed the color of the app, which is a bolder shade of blue across the inbox and calendar. Microsoft says this helps people visually identify apps faster as they swipe through the iOS app picker. Microsoft has embraced the native font and typography of iOS, giving the app a look that's more in line with those from Apple. Other changes impact the mechanics of the app, such as the Focused Inbox toggle and message list filtering, which now help people focus on content and account details. The app continues to support multiple accounts, and will now call them out visually with personalized avatars. These are meant to instantly alert the user as to which account they have accessed. Similarly, Outlook adds new avatars for contacts to aid in visibility. The new Microsoft Outlook Mobile for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
YouTube has decided to make Autoplay On Home available to everyone. The feature, which has been available to YouTube Premium subscribers for several months, begins rolling video previews automatically. YouTube suggests that previewing videos helps people make a "more informed decision" about whether or not they want to view the entire video. The videos will play without sound, and can include captions if desired. Autoplay On Home can be set to roll videos only when on WiFi, or turned off entirely. The feature will reach all users on Android and iOS over the next few weeks.
Google today made Flutter 1.0 available to developers. It has been in testing since the February and updated several times since. Flutter is a set of tools that lets developers create user interface designs that work on Android and iOS. Google says Flutter is quick and easy to use, and can be put to work by experienced and novice developers alike. It includes frameworks for windows, widgets, animations, and image libraries. It includes a GPU-accelerated renderer and native ARM code runtime. It supports accessibility features, right-to-left text, localization, and internationalization. On iOS, it supports inline video, additional image formats, and background processes. Other functions include support for hardware keyboards, barcode scanners, and video recording. Since the last release, Google has improved the video player package with broader format support and better reliability. It has also extended Firebase support to include dynamic links for handling links across platforms. Google hopes this will lead to mobile apps that look and run the same on Android and iOS.
Instagram today gave people more control over who sees their stories. A new tool called Close Friends lets people create small groups and share stories that are only visible to members of that group. The Close Friends function appears in the side menu of users' profiles. Only those who create the lists will be able to see who is on the list, and no one can ask to be added. The option to share Stories with everyone or just the smaller group will appear when posting stories. People who are added to groups by others will see a green badge when viewing the story and a green ring around the profile photo in the Stories tray. Instagram says Close Friends is rolling out to Android and iOS globally today.
T-Mobile has rolled out a digital banking service called T-Mobile Money. T-Mobile says T-Mobile Money is available to T-Mobile customers as well as non-customers. The service focuses on providing easy access to funds and banking services through a mobile device. T-Mobile Money can be managed from the Android and iOS platforms via dedicated mobile apps. T-Mobile says the service doesn't charge maintenance, ATM, overdraft, or minimum balance fees, and delivers guaranteed interest. All customers can earn at least 1.00% interest on an annual basis, and T-Mobile subscribers are eligible to earn up to 4.00%. T-Mobile Money is FDIC insured and provides protection against unauthorized purchases. It is compatible with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay for mobile transactions. Customers can receive a MasterCard-backed T-Mobile Money debit card if they wish. Other features include online bill pay, mobile check deposit, and easy setup for direct deposit. People can register via the T-Mobile Money app, which is available in the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store. Customers can also sign up online.
Google today renamed its MVNO, Project Fi, to Google Fi. Along with the name change comes dramatically expanded compatibility with phones. Moving forward, the service will work with most Android phones as well as the Apple iPhone. The process of activating Fi on Android devices will be straightforward. Google says compatibility with iPhones is in beta and will require people to jump through a few more hoops, including the use of an iOS app. Basic service will be available to the majority of devices. Fi operates on T-Mobile, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and WiFi, dynamically jumping to the strongest connection. Subscribers will need specific phones, listed on the Fi web site, to get this benefit, as proper LTE support is required. Google recently added VPN protection to Fi. The base service costs $20 per month for unlimited voice and text. Google charges $10 per gigabyte of data. People interested in the service will need to order SIM cards from the Google Fi web site. The service does not require contracts.
Google has made its Google Assistant app for iOS devices compatible with Siri shortcuts. This tool allows iPhone and iPad owners to combine Siri and Google Assistant actions. Using the Siri Shortcuts app, people can set up Siri commands that wake Google Assistant to perform tasks. It lets iPhone owners effectively bypass Siri if they wish in favor of Google Assistant. Google Assistant for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Amazon has made the Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit available to developers, which will enable them to build the smart assistant into headphones, wearables, and more. Amazon first announced the AMA Kit in January of this year and has been testing it since. This week marks the general availability of the kit. The kit supports Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy audio-capable devices so people can tap into Alexa from just about anywhere. Amazon says end users need only pair their Android phone or iPhone with a Bluetooth headset or smartwatch, install the Alexa mobile app, and perform a quick one-time setup. Most Alexa features are included, such as streaming media, controlling smart home devices, and interacting with tens of thousands of Alexa skills. The AMA Kit includes all the code developers need so they can focus on building their product. Developers interested in the Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit can get started via Amazon's developer portal. Consumers can expect to see more Alexa-enabled gear in the months ahead.
Google today said that it plans to stop offering SMS-based notifications for Google Calendar. "If you had previously been receiving Calendar notifications via SMS, they'll be replaced with in-app and email notifications," said Google. Google also plans to adjust the Calendar API to reflect this change, meaning developers will have to update their apps if the apps integrate with Google Calendar. Google Calendar's in-app notifications for Android and iOS include banners, badges, and sounds. People who had previously set SMS notifications for new events, changed events, canceled events, or event responses will now see those notifications via email. The change goes into effect January 9, 2019.