iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Apple has made a public beta available of iOS 13, the next major version of the software that powers iPhones. Major new features include swipe gesture typing, a new version of CarPlay, Dark Mode, richer Maps content, a new Shortcuts app, audio sharing, and smarter AR. Also, apps load faster and Siri has a more natural-sounding voice that's easier to understand. The beta software is available today for users who opt in to Apple's beta testing program. The final version is expected this fall.
Facebook today announced Libra, a new digital currency that aims to combine the best features of other cryptocurrencies in order to be more consumer-friendly. The currency will be administered by the Libra Association, a new non-for-profit based in Geneva. Founding members include Facebook, Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, Stripe, eBay, Lyft, Spotify, Uber, Vodafone Group, and Coinbase, as well as non-profit and academic members. Facebook's new Calibra subsidiary will create a Libra wallet app. The Calibra wallet will not require a Facebook account and Calibra will not share transaction data with Facebook. Third parties will also be able to create their own Libra wallet apps. Users will be able to exchange local currency for Libra (and vice versa) through these wallet apps, and at physical locations. The local currency will be transferred to the Libra Association to provide 100% backing for Libra currency. Interest on those deposits will pay for operating expenses, investments in the ecosystem, engineering research, and grants to non-profits and other organizations. Excess interest will be distributed to founding members. Libra transactions won't carry the high fees that credit cards do, although a small (less than one cent) transaction fee will deter certain spam and denial attacks. The symbol for the Libra is ≋ (three wavy lines). The value of a Libra is tied to a basket of deposits in historically stable international currencies, which can be rebalanced to keep the Libra stable. The Libra's starting value will be close to one dollar, euro, or pound. Libra is much faster and more efficient than Bitcoin, able to handle 1,000 transactions per second and designed to scale much higher. When a transaction is submitted, each of the Libra nodes, run independently by Libra Association members, runs a blockchain calculation. Two-thirds of the nodes must come to consensus that the transaction is legitimate for it to be executed and written to the blockchain. Facebook's Calibra will implement Know Your Customer rules in the sign-up process to prevent fraud, requiring a government-issued photo ID, for example. The Libra Association will incentivize other wallet providers to do the same. Libra is launching a limited test network today. When Libra launches to consumers in the first half of 2020, Facebook will launch Calibra as a standalone wallet app, but also as a feature within Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp on both Android and iOS.
An Israeli company that supplies law enforcement agencies worldwide announced that the newest version of its tool to access locked phones can access almost any smartphone, including Apple devices running iOS 7-12.3 and most Android phones. The company, Cellebrite, promises that its new UFED Premium device offers nearly complete access to Apple devices and "flagship Samsung devices", as well as support for accessing the file system on "popular device models from Motorola, Huawei, LG and Xiaomi." The company boasts that its device lets law enforcement "Bypass or determine locks and perform a full file system extraction on any iOS device, or a physical extraction or full file system (File-Based Encryption) extraction on many high-end Android devices.... gain access to 3rd party app data, chat conversations, downloaded emails and email attachments, deleted content and more". Apple has added features to iOS in recent years to thwart this kind of access, and is rolling out iOS 13 this summer and fall.
Anker continues to crank out a steady stream of universal chargers, batteries, and similar accessories that are at the leading edge of functionality and small form factors. Their latest PowerPort chargers offer high-power USB-C charging in tiny packages, now with flip plugs for even more portability. They're compatible with all Android fast charging techs, as well as iPhone, via Anker's Apple-certified USB-C-to-Lightning cable. We checked them out in person.
The Skype app for iOS and Android now supports screen-sharing in video calls. Microsoft announced the launch of the feature this week, after making it available to beta testers a few weeks ago. The feature lets you share whatever is on your phone's screen, including other apps, with the person on the other end of the video call. Skype also tweaked its video call interface with a new design and the ability to hide all controls during a call.
Apple today announced iOS 13 with a long list of new features for iPhones. The Apple text keyboard now supports swipe gesture typing, which Apple calls Quick Path. Users can now grant apps access to location data on an as-needed basis, and prevent apps from gathering location data using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Apple also introduced its own universal sign-in service available to all web sites and apps. Sign in with Apple does not track users across the web like other services. Real names and/or email addresses are only shared with explicit permission, and Apple will optionally generate a unique email address for each app, that forwards to your real email address, keeping your real email address private. iOS 13 includes a dark mode that defaults to dark backgrounds in most apps. A revamped Reminders app supports natural language entry and attachments. An updated Siri uses neural text-to-speech technology to sound more natural and be easier to understand. A new option lets users send spam calls directly to voicemail. The Shortcuts feature now has its own app, which analyzes your usage patterns to create Suggested Automations. Enterprise users can now set up separate iCloud accounts for personal and work use. The latest Maps app supports Collections of favorite locations. It also adds Look Around, which is like Google's Street View, but supports smoother 3D animations when moving around. In Messages, you can now choose to share your name and/or photo when messaging someone for the first time. The camera app supports adjustable studio lighting effects and new Instagram-like editing options for photos and videos. iOS 13 also includes an Audio Sharing feature for sharing whatever you're listening to with another iPhone user wirelessly. When using AirPods, users can now have incoming messages (from any app) read aloud, and reply by voice. iOS 13 also includes performance tweaks such as smaller app updates and faster app launches. The update will be available for iPhones this fall, with a "public seed" version in July, and a developer beta available today.
Apple today announced watchOS 6 for Apple Watches. The update adds a full App Store directly on the watch, offering independent apps, which no longer require a companion app on an iOS device. Apple also added a new streaming audio API for live sports and more as well as support for audiobooks. A new Noise app continuously monitors sounds levels to detect loud levels that could damage your hearing. Also new is a Cycle Tracking app for menstrual cycles and fertility, also coming to the Health app in iOS. A voice memo and calculator app have also been added, including a tip calculator.
Google today announced the global launch of a group video calling feature for its Google Duo app. The feature lets up to eight people join a live video chat at once. It's available for both iOS and Android. Apple's FaceTime has supported group calls of up to 32 people since January, but only works on iOS devices.
Microsoft is working on a new Minecraft game for phones that uses AR to overlay Minecraft as a persistent, massively multiplayer game over the whole planet. Players will be able to build with Minecraft blocks anywhere in public. Players will be able to see avatars of other players and collaborate. Adventure challenges will pop up in the game, with rewards like treasure and rare blocks. Microsoft says it will kick off a closed beta of Minecraft Earth this summer on iOS and Android. Microsoft is also starting with select locations before eventually expanding the game to be truly global.
The Steam Link app — which lets you play Steam games on your PC or Mac remotely on another device such as a phone, tablet, or TV — is now available for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. Unlike the Android version, it does not support new game purchases within the Steam Link app, to comply with Apple's App Store rules. The app supports Bluetooth game controllers.
The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that an antitrust lawsuit can proceed against Apple for the way it runs its App Store. Today's ruling only affirms that the consumers bringing the suit have the right to do so; it does not touch on the merits of the case. The case will now proceed in lower courts, which may take years. At issue is whether Apple can require that apps be purchased through its store, where it takes a 30% cut and imposes rules on pricing that may inflate prices.
Coolpad today announced FamilyLabs, a new app that lets parents communicate, locate, and provide remote support to multiple family members, on both Android and iOS phones. The first phase of FamilyLabs is launching on Indigogo, where available bundles include the app, a new Coolpad phone, and service from Mint Mobile. Bundles start at $99 with 1 month of service. Larger bundles include up to three months of service (unlimited talk and text plus 8 GB of 4G data per month). The initial version of the app will offer location tracking, geo-fencing with alerts, content filtering, remote setting of alarms and reminders, and panic alerts. Coolpad will actively solicit feedback and ideas from Indiegogo supporters in order to refine the app before a wider launch beyond Indiegogo. The included phone is the Coolpad Model M, which is based on the REVVL Plus for T-Mobile. Coolpad will make both iOS and Android versions of the app available for Indiegogo customers to download and test on other phones. The target shipping timeframe for Indiegogo customers is June. Beyond the app, FamilyLabs is also a platform and brand Coolpad will use for additional family-oriented products. The company launched Dyno, a smartwatch for kids, in January.
Google's basic activity-tracking app, Google Fit, is now available for iPhone and other iOS devices. Because it supports Apple Health, it can automatically import activity data captured by Apple Watch. It can also sync with smartwatches powered by Wear OS by Google. Like the Android version of the app, it tracks two key metrics: Move Minutes for basic movement, and Heart Points for more strenuous exercise. It also imports and logs more detailed exercise data. The app encourages you to reach activity goals recommended by the American Heart Association and World Health Organization. Google Fit is available now for free from the Apple App Store.
Intel has confirmed that it has cancelled its 5G modem project intended for phones such as a future iPhone, and will focus its modem business instead on products for devices other than phones, according to the Wall Street Journal. Apple currently uses both Intel and Qualcomm modems in its iPhones. Earlier today, Apple and Qualcomm announced an agreement to end a years-long, ugly patent dispute. The agreement included a new commitment by Apple to use Qualcomm chips – perhaps exclusively – at the expense of Intel. Without its largest customer (Apple), Intel was left with no path to profitability for its phone modem business.
Google has turned its Smart Reply technology into an API that third-party Android and iOS developers can easily deploy in their own messaging apps. The software looks at the (up to) ten most recent messages in a thread, applies Google's machine learning algorithm locally (nothing is sent to the cloud,) and suggests three complete replies that can be sent with one tap. The software also uses machine learning to identify sensitive topics, so it can avoid making inappropriate suggestions in response to cases of personal tragedy/hardship or profanity. The feature is part of ML Kit, a suite of APIs that all use machine learning. Google also just added Language Identification to ML Kit. The new Smart Reply API is available first in English, and uses Language Identification to only suggest replies in the appropriate language. The first third-party app to make use of the Smart Reply API is textPlus.
Google's automated voice assistant features for handling calls on a person's behalf are now rolling out to more phones beyond Google's own Pixel phones. The two features are Duplex and Call Screening. Duplex will make an entire interactive call on a user's behalf, making a reservation with a restaurant or business when requested via Google Assistant. This is rolling out to nearly all Android phones, as well as the iOS version of Google Assistant app. It's available in 43 US states. Call Screening is an alternative to directly answering an incoming call. With it, callers are prompted to explain who they are and why they're calling. The answer is transcribed and displayed in real time on the phone's screen, so you can decide to pick up if it's someone you want to talk to. Call Screening is rolling out now to Motorola g7 and One phones as a software update.
The new Powerbeats Pro from Beats use technology borrowed from Apple's latest AirPods to create the first Powerbeats without a wire between the two earbuds. Optimized for workouts, they have redesigned, adjustable rubber loops that hook over the ear like other Powerbeats. Despite being fully wireless, they're 23% smaller and 17% lighter than the Powerbeats3. Like AirPods, they automatically pause when removed from the ear. They also use the same Apple H1 chip as the latest AirPods, which enables them to respond to "Hey Siri" commands. Beam-forming microphones help filter out background noise during calls. Each bud has a full set of identical controls, allowing either one to be used without the other. Beats claims that each bud will last for 9 hours of music, and the included charging case brings that up to 24 hours total. Quick charging provides 1.5 hours of music playback with just five minutes of charging. Powerbeats Pro are compatible with both iOS and Android phones. Apple will sell the Powerbeats Pro in May for $250. They will be available in Black, Navy, Moss, and Ivory.
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.