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iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

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Verizon Launches the GizmoWatch for Kids

Today, 7:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced the GizmoWatch, a second-generation smart wearable that targets children ages 3 to 11. The device is primarily meant to serve as a location tracker for parents. Using the free Android and iOS apps, parents can view their child's real-time location, set geo-fences, and receive alerts should the child stray outside of designated zones. Parents can also control the device's uptime and ensure that it is quiet during school hours. The wearable runs on Verizon's LTE 4G network and can receive calls from up to 10 parent-approved numbers. The GizmoWatch includes 20 preset text messages that kids can send to their contacts. Kids will be able to track their steps, as well as use a voice-changer app for fun. Verizon says the GizmoWatch battery lasts between three and four days. The GizmoWatch, available starting today, costs $180 and requires a $5 monthly fee for connectivity.


Samsung Intros the Galaxy A7 with 3 Rear Cameras

Today, 7:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung today announced the Galaxy A7, an addition to its mid-range roster that is the first to feature three cameras on the back. The triple-camera array includes a 24-megapixel main sensor at f/1.7, an 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor at f/2.4, and a 5-megapixel depth-sensing camera at f/2.2 for bokeh and other effects. The camera has the ability to detect scenes and adjust automatically to create better photos. The A7 relies on a metal-and-glass design and features an Infinity Display measuring 6 inches with full HD+ resolution on front. Dolby Atmos ensures the A7 delivers a great sound experience. A 2.2 GHz octa-core processor powers the phone, which ships with either 4 or 6 GB of RAM and 64 or 128 GB of storage. It has a 3,300mAh battery and a slew of radios, including Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, GPS, NFC, and Cat 6 LTE. The fingerprint reader is located on the side edge and a 24-megapixel selfie camera on front allows for Selfie Focus shots with studio effects and Samsung's AR emoji. Samsung plans to sell the Galaxy A7 in Asian markets first, followed by European and other markets. Samsung didn't say if it intends to bring the A7 to the U.S., and the company didn't specify which LTE bands the phone supports. Samsung recently launched the Galaxy A6 in the U.S.


Google Brings Google Maps to Apple’s CarPlay

Tuesday, 2:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said iPhone users can opt for Google’s Maps instead of Apple Maps when using their CarPlay-equipped automobile. Apple added support for third-party apps to CarPlay in the recently-released iOS 12 platform. Google has updated its navigation app in order to make it compatible with iOS 12 and Apple’s CarPlay system. Google says Maps via CarPlay supports seamless transitions from Maps on the iPhone to Maps via CarPlay; point-to-point navigation with real-time traffic updates and rerouting; offline maps for use in spotty coverage areas; and support for saved lists/favorites. Google says Maps should be available in most vehicles that include CarPlay, though it suggests users check online to view Apple’s list of compatible vehicles.


Google to Provide Android to Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi Cars

Tuesday, 9:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has partnered with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which plans to embed the Android operating system in cars starting in 2021. The Alliance will add Android to its cars' dashboard navigation system. It will feature Google Maps with turn-by-turn navigation, access to automotive apps in the Google Play Store, as well as the ability to answer calls/texts, control music playback, perform searches, and issue voice commands via Google Assistant. In addition to the in-car integrations, the Alliance plans to add Google cloud-based systems to further enhance their cars through unique user interface elements and features specific to each of the three brands. This UI will be build on top of Android. Moreover, the Alliance Intelligent Cloud will offer secure connectivity, data management, and over-the-air upgrades and remote diagnostics. The Alliance said the system will be compatible with both Android and iOS mobile devices. The auto brands didn't say which models might be first to ship with Android Auto on board.


GarageBand Touts More Touch Instruments

Tuesday, 8:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Along with the release of iOS 12, Apple has updated its GarageBand app with more tools for music makers. To start, the latest version of GarageBand includes a fresh collection of Touch Instruments and Drummer Apple Loops. Apple says these let musicians shape their sounds and performances after they've been added to any given project. This version of GarageBand now supports the import and playback of MIDI files, something that's been on users' wishlists for a ling time. Apple also took the time to provide stability improvements and bug fixes. GarageBand is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


Apple Turns the Page On iBooks, Now Apple Books In iTunes App Store

Tuesday, 8:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The new Apple Books reading app is now available to iPhones and iPads in the iTunes App Store. This app replaces the former iBooks app and is what iOS users will use moving forward for consuming books and other materials. Some of the new features include a Reading Now tab, which is a collection of the books being read or listened to by users. The Want to Read tool lets people manage wishlists of books, while the Complete the Series function offers suggestions based on previously read books. Apple Books more prominently calls out audiobooks, simplifying the process of listening on an iPhone, iPad, or via CarPlay. The Book Store tab includes new ways to browse via best-seller charts, staff picks, editorial recommendations, and special offers. Apple says the more people browse, buy, read, and listen via the app, the better the Apple Books store will be able to offer personalized recommendations. The new Apple Books app requires iOS 12, which was distributed to iPhones and iPads earlier this week.


Google Search Gains Thumbnails to Help Sort Results

Tuesday, 8:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated its mobile search tool to include thumbnail images that accompany the results. The basic idea is to help people easily identify which results match their actual query. For example, searching for "bear" turns up results for the animal and the Chicago Bears football team, while searching for "tiger" turns up results for the large cat and Tiger Woods. The accompanying thumbnails make it easy to differentiate between results so people can find the exact information they want. The new thumbnail images are available in Google Search for Android and iOS.


Apple Releases iOS 12 with Screen Time, Memoji, More

Monday, 12:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made the latest version of its mobile operating system available to the general public. iOS 12 targets iPhones and iPads and it introduces a number of new features and tools, such as screen time. This is meant to help people manage the time spent on their phone each day. iOS 12 introduces support for grouped notifications, which will let people view, manage, and dismiss multiple notifications at once. The update gives the iPhone X, Xs, Xs Max, and Xr the ability to create Memoji, customized and animated emoji stickers that resembles their face. People can customize hair color and style, eye color, accessories such as glasses, and much more. With iOS 12, CarPlay, Apple's in-car system, will support third-party apps. This addition means people will be able to, for example, use Google Maps rather than Apple Maps for navigation from point to point when in their car. Other features include group FaceTime chats, dozens of new emoji, improved Do Not Disturb and more. Apple says iOS 12 will work on iPhones back to the iPhone 5s.


Initial Batch of 5G Phones Likely to Work On a Single Carrier

Sep 14, 2018, 7:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Don't expect to be able to use the same phone across 5G networks, at least in the early days, says AT&T. "It's not because there isn't a desire and we don't want to," explained Gordon Mansfield, AT&T's VP of radio networks and device design, to PCMag. Technical challenges are the roadblock that will prevent 5G roaming from the onset. Specifically, phones won't be able to contain the 28 GHz 5G radio used by Verizon and T-Mobile, and the 39 GHz 5G radio used by AT&T in a single device. This means the first 5G phones will likely be carrier exclusives. The same story played out when LTE 4G first launched, as network operators used disparate bands for their high-speed service. It wasn't until 4G radios began to support multiple bands that LTE roaming became a reality. Mansfield believes this scenario won't last too long with 5G. "As an industry, that will be very quickly overcome; I don't think the single band introduction from the millimeter-wave point of view will last very long," he said. AT&T's first 5G device, expected before the end of the year, will be a puck-style mobile hotspot. The carrier hasn't said when it will go on sale, nor how much it will cost. The company is also preparing 5G-enabled smartphones, though those aren't expected to reach the market until 2019.


Coolpad Announces Kid-Focused Dyno One Smart Wearable

Sep 13, 2018, 3:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Coolpad today announced the Dyno One, a smart wearable meant for kids. The product is made from bright-colored materials and boasts a kid-friendly user interface. It includes a dedicated SOS button and is rated IP65 for protection against dust and water exposure. Coolpad says the Dyno offers an Android and iOS app, available to parents, for controlling and monitoring the smart wearable. It can deliver real-time location as well as set geo-fences for virtual perimeters and location-based alerts. Parents can message or call the Dyno when needed. Coolpad claims the wearable has been put through rigorous tests to ensure that the data is encrypted and safe from prying eyes. For example, the Dyno wearable is COPPA compliant and is secured by Smartcom. The hardware is based on the Snapdragon Wear 2100 platform and includes 4G LTE connectivity. It is being prepared for a launch in the U.S. market ahead of the 2018 holiday shopping season. Coolpad says more details will be made available over time.


Google Brings More Parental Controls to YouTube Kids App

Sep 13, 2018, 11:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it easier for parents to find YouTube content suitable for their kids. To start, the company is implementing parental controls first announced in April. This new tool allows parents to "handpick every video and channel available to their child in the app." This gives parents total control over the videos, channels, or collection of channels that their children can access and view within YouTube Kids. Google says this feature is reaching all Android devices globally today and will reach iOS in the near future. Google is also making it simpler for parents to find age-relevant content. The new app now offers "younger" and "older" options. The new "older" selection targets kids aged 8 to 12. It adds new content such as popular music and gaming videos. The "younger" setting continues to prioritize sing-alongs and learning videos. YouTube warns that its filters may still miss some inappropriate videos. Parents can flag such videos and report them to YouTube. The older content setting is rolling out to YouTube Kids users in the U.S. today and will reach other markets later this year.


Apple All But Scraps Its AirPower Wireless Charging Pad

Sep 13, 2018, 7:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A year after Apple announced the AirPower wireless charging pad, signs of the device have largely vanished from its web site. The company first teased the charging solution in September 2017 when it debuted the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X. Apple initially said the charger would reach the market at some point in 2018. This week, the company updated its line of iPhones with the iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Xr. Each of these phones supports wireless charging and yet Apple provided no update concerning the AirPower charger itself. Moreover, most information about the AirPower charger has been scrubbed from Apple's web site. Performing a search on Apple.com for "AirPower" turns up only a photo and a link to Apple's trademark listings. The AirPower mat was supposed to be able to charge an iPhone, an Apple Watch, and EarPods all at the same time. Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that Apple was having difficulty engineering the charger due to the different charging requirements of the iPhone and Watch. It's possible the device is still under development, but Apple has not commented on the matter one way or the other.


Apple Adjusts AppleCare+ for New iPhones, Adds Theft Protection

Sep 12, 2018, 3:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today refreshed its AppleCare+ offerings for its line of iPhones. The company is now allowing iPhone owners to make claims for the theft or loss of their iPhone. Previously, claims were limited to accidental damage. AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss includes up to two incidents of accidental damage, theft, or loss, with certain deductibles. In order to qualify for Theft and Loss coverage, Find My iPhone must be enabled on the device in question when it is stolen or lost. AppleCare+ also includes Express Replacement Service and 24/7 access to Apple experts. When resolving claims, screen repairs will require a deductible of $29, while any other damage will require a deductible of $99. The deductibles for theft/loss are much higher. Apple will charge a deductible of $199 to replace a lost/stolen iPhone 6, 6s, 7, and 8; $229 to replace the iPhone 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 7 Plus, 8 Plus, and Xr; and $269 to replace the iPhone X, Xs, and Xs Max. The standard price for AppleCare+ is $199. AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss costs $299. These fees can be broken down into monthly payments.


iPhone Xs and Xs Max eSIM Won't Work Until Later This Year

Sep 12, 2018, 3:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today announced that its new iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max will be the first to support dual SIM cards. Rather that include the space for two physical SIM cards in the iPhone Xs and Xs Max, the phones will include support for one physical SIM and one eSIM, an electronic SIM card that can be programmed with carrier service. The eSIM will not be accessible to those purchasing the Xs/Xs Max right away. Apple says an update to iOS 12 will enable the eSIM later this year. Using the eSIM and physical SIM together will not be as simple as it would be to use two physical SIM cards. "To use two different carriers, your iPhone must be unlocked," explained Apple on its web site. "Otherwise, both plans must be from the same carrier. If a CDMA carrier (Sprint or Verizon) provides your first SIM, your second SIM won't support CDMA." Apple says the eSIM can serve as your only cellular plan if you don't have access to a physical SIM card. Otherwise, the main cellular plan will be attached to the physical SIM and the second to the eSIM. Apple says with two active carrier accounts on a single iPhone, owners will be able to select primary and secondary accounts, set one for calls/texts and the other for data, or use both lines for calls, texts, and data. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon will support the eSIM, but Sprint will not. Apple warns that the eSIM may be disabled when purchased from some carriers.


Apple iPhones Now Range In Price from $449 to $1,449

Sep 12, 2018, 2:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has realigned its roster of smartphones with the debut of the new iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Xr. Moving forward, Apple's entry-level model is the iPhone 7 at $449 and the iPhone 7 Plus at $569. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus start at $599 and $699, respectively. Last year's iPhone X has been discontinued, as have the iPhone 5 SE and iPhone 6s. The iPhone Xs costs $999 for the 64 GB model, $1,149 for 256 GB, or $1,349 for 512 GB. The iPhone Xs Max costs $1,099 for the 64 GB model, $1,249 for 256 GB, or $1,449 for 512 GB. All these iPhones are available with service from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless, as well as unlocked with support for global GSM/LTE networks. The iPhone Xr costs $749 for 64 GB, $799 for 256 GB, or $899 for 512 GB. The Xr will not initially be sold unlocked and must be purchased with service from one of the four national carriers. Each iPhone ships with Lighting EarPods, a Lightning charging cable, and a 5W charger. They do not include Lightning-to-3.5mm adapters for standard headphones.


HomePod Update Intros Siri Shortcuts and More Languages

Sep 12, 2018, 2:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today said a host of new features are coming to its HomePod in-home speaker. Once the new software is available, HomePod owners will be able to search for songs by the lyrics. HomePod will gain support for multiple timers. The update introduces new support for making and receiving phone calls. People will need to call someone from their contact list or speak the number. Incoming calls can be directed from the iPhone to the HomePod if owners wish. HomePod gains a Find My iPhone feature so users can ping their iPhone. The HomePod will support Siri shortcuts, which let people personalize a series of tasks that become accessible with a single command. For example, saying "Hey Siri, good morning" can initiate a routine that turns on the lights, lists the first few calendar appointments, and then reads the latest headlines. Last, HomePod gains support for Spanish and Canadian French. Apple says this update will be pushed to the HomePod beginning September 17.


Apple Reveals Final iOS 12 Features Ahead of September 17 Launch

Sep 12, 2018, 1:55 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today showed off several unannounced features for iOS 12, which the company will make available to the general public on September 19. One of the key features of iOS 12 is Siri shortcuts. These are programmable sequences of actions that take advantage of Siri to automate certain tasks and processors. It includes ARKit 2 for improved augmented reality and view 3D objects in the real world. MLKit runs 10% faster while drawing less power. Other features of iOS 12 include improved notifications, memoji for the iPhone X, performance refinements, Screen Time for monitoring usage, and better security. iOS 12 will run on all iPhones back to the iPhone 5s.


Apple's iPhone Xr Offers the All-Screen Look at a Lower Price

Sep 12, 2018, 1:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 12, 2018, 1:52 PM

Apple today announced the iPhone Xr, a more affordable all-screen iPhone. The Xr looks similar to the Xs and Xs Max, but has an LCD panel rather than OLED, and a 7000 series aluminum frame rather than stainless steel. The screen size sits between the 5.8-inch and 6.4-inch displays of the Xs and Xs Max, respectively, at 6.1 inches across the diagonal. Apple calls it the Liquid Retina display with 1,792 by 828 pixels and a pixel density of 326ppi. It supports tap-to-wake, and includes true-tone, 120Hz refreshing, and wide-color gamut. This iPhone will come in black, blue, green, yellow, and coral. The chassis are rated IP67 for protection from water and dust. A new shortcut from the home screen takes people directly to the camera. It includes the same bank of sensors for Face ID, such as infrared, proximity, and ambient light sensors. It is faster. This phone also includes the A12 Bionic and real-time machine learning. A single camera adorns the rear. It's a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera at f/1.8, OIS, Smart HDR, portrait mode, bokeh, 6-element lens, focus pixels, and a True Tone flash. The Xr also carries over the selfie camera from the Xs and Xs Max. Apple says the battery delivers more than 90 minutes more uptime than the iPhone 8+. The iPhone Xr starts at $799 and comes in 64 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB variants. It will be available for preorder October 19 and reaches stores October 26.


iPhone Xs and Xs Max Update Key Specs of Apple's Flagship

Sep 12, 2018, 12:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 12, 2018, 1:42 PM

Apple today announced the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max. These devices are upgrades to last year's iPhone X and feature the same design. The new iPhones have an all-screen look with a notch at the top of the display. The front and back surfaces are made of glass and a stainless steel frame is in between. The Xs maintains the same 5.8-inch size as last year's phone, while the Xs Max pushes the screen size to 6.5 inches. Apple says it uses new glass that is the most durable ever on a mobile device. The OLED displays support Dolby Vision and HDR10, with a 60% greater dynamic range. The screens have True Tone for accurate whites, as well as 3D touch and 120Hz touch response. The iPhone Xs and Xs Max will be sold in gold, silver, and space gray. The phones are rated IP68 for protection against water, dust, and other liquids. Apple has improved the stereo speakers, giving them a wider sound stage. The 10x features an improved Face ID with better sensors and faster performance thanks to quicker algorithms. In order to power the new iPhones, Apple designed the A12 bionic, with a 7nm process, 6-core CPU (2 high-performance, 4 efficiency cores), 4-core GPU (50% faster), and an 8-core neural engine with dedicated machine learning. Apple says the device can process far more real-time information for the camera, Animoji, selfie scenes, and more. The A12 Bionic helps Apple bring new tools to the iPhone's camera. The Xs has a two-camera system, each with a 12-megapixel sensor. The main lens features a wide-angle field of view at f/1.8 while the secondary lens features a telephoto view at f/2.2. The cameras have optical image stabilization. The A12 Bionic can perform 1 trillion calculations on the photos to improve them. The selfie camera has a 7-megapixel sensor and uses the IR sensor to deliver depth information for portraits. The new Smart HDR feature relies on the A12's neural engine to enhance color and improve exposure. The improved portrait shooting allows people to adjust the background blur with a new depth-of-field slider in the editing tool. The iPhone can now record stereo sound with video. Apple says the battery should deliver 30 more minutes of uptime when compared to the iPhone X, and the Xs Max delivers 90 more minutes. The new iPhones introduce gigabit LTE, dual SIM card support (with dual SIM, dual standby provided by eSIM), wide support for worldwide LTE bands. Apple says AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon will support this dual SIM technology, which includes one physical SIM and one eSIM, this year. The iPhone Xs will start at $999 and the Xs Max will start at $1099. Both will be available in 64 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB options. Preorders for the new iPhones start September 14, with in-store availability on September 21.


7-Eleven Rolls Out Support for Apple Pay and Google Pay

Sep 10, 2018, 6:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The 7-Eleven convenience store chain today said Apple Pay and Google Pay are now available at the majority of its U.S. locations. 7-Eleven expects to conclude its roll out by the end of the month. This means people who own the iPhone 6 and newer or most current Android phones (with NFC) can make tap-and-go payments at their favorite 7-Eleven store. The company also introduced a new mobile app called 7-Eleven Now, which lets people order items from 7-Eleven on-demand from their iPhone. 7-Eleven says the app is being rolled out to select U.S. markets before a wider release. It didn’t name the markets. Apple Pay and Google Pay must be set up directly on the mobile device worth a credit/debit card before either can be used to make purchases.


EU to Let Apple's Purchase of Shazam Move Forward

Sep 6, 2018, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The European Commission has given Apple permission to close its planned purchase of Shazam. In April, the Commission put the brakes on the deal in fear in might reduce choice for users of music streaming services. After conducting an investigation, the Commission now concedes that the acquisition will not harm European consumers. Shazam is used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide to query song identities by pointing their phone or watch at an audio source. It is available to Android and iOS devices alike. The $400 million deal was first made public in December. It's not clear how quickly Apple will close the deal.


Google Overhauls Chrome for the Browser's 10th Birthday

Sep 4, 2018, 12:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced sweeping changes headed to its Chrome browser for desktop machines, as well as Android and iOS devices. First, the browser will have a brand new look thanks to a fresh color palette and rounded corners. For example, Google changed the shape of tabs so web site icons are easier to spot. On mobile, Chrome moved the toolbar to the bottom of the screen for iOS where it is easier to reach. The mobile version of Chrome also enjoys simplified prompts, menus, and URLs in the address bar. Chrome bakes in better support for passwords, addresses, and credit card numbers to speed up the process of filling out online forms. This info is saved to each user's account and can be accessed from other devices when signed in. Google has taken care to improve the way Chrome handles passwords. For example, Chrome can auto-generate password suggestions and will then save it for successive logins across devices. Google updated the Omnibox to show answers directly in the address bar without opening a new tab. The Omnibox also lets people search for a web site and, if it's already open on their device, jump straight to it. This same feature will also soon search through Google Drive files. Google says Chrome is easier to customize. Users can create and manage shortcuts via the new tab page, which can feature a customized background. Chrome is available to iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows devices.


Apple to Repair Faulty iPhone 8 Logic Boards for Free

Sep 1, 2018, 2:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has launched a repair program to fix defective logic boards in the iPhone 8. The company says a small number of faulty units were sold between September 2017 and March 2018 in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Macau, New Zealand, and the U.S. People who own an iPhone 8 can enter their serial number to see if it qualifies for a fix. The issue, accord to Apple, led to screen freezes, random restarts, and defective startups. The iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X are not affected. People with an eligible iPhone 8 can drop it off at an Apple Store, mail it in, or bring it to an authorized repair shop. Apple suggests people backup their phone before bringing it in. The program will be available for up to three years from the iPhone 8's September 2017 launch.


Apple Pushes Minor iOS 12 Beta Update to Squash Bug

Sep 1, 2018, 2:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has made a fresh beta of iOS 12 available to developers and public testers alike. The update resolves an annoying bug that has pestered users with a notification to update their device. The popup notification, which read "A new iOS update is now available. Please update from the iOS 12 beta," appeared every time the phone was unlocked or the notification shade was pulled down. The latest beta takes care of the issue. iOS 12 is nearly ready for prime time. The new operating system should become available to iPhones and iPads later this month.


Google Updates YouTube App with Usage Controls

Aug 27, 2018, 9:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

As part of its push toward digital wellbeing, Google has added several tools to YouTube that are meant to help people control how much time they spend watching videos. To start, the company has installed a profile to the setting menu that highlights how much video that person has watched both in the last 24 hours, last 48 hours, and last seven days. Once people get a feel for how much they're actually watching, they can set reminders to take a break. Providing the app with a time limit will cause it to display a popup reminder when that limit is reached. Moreover, YouTube is tackling notifications in a new way. For example, people can elect to have YouTube push just one notification per day, rather than many. Additionally, YouTube will begin silencing notifications between 10pm and 8am in order to help people sleep without distractions. Each of these behaviors can be fine-tuned to suit individual needs. The new usage controls are available to YouTube for Android and iOS starting today.


AT&T, T-Mobile Customer PINs Left Exposed by Security Flaws

Aug 25, 2018, 9:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Two different security flaws affecting the customers of AT&T and T-Mobile were revealed this week. The security gaps could have given hackers access to customer account PINs, which would in turn allow them to potentially hijack the customers' SIM cards. AT&T customers were left vulnerable by the insurance provider Asurion. When initiating claims through Asurion's web site, hackers could have gleaned PINs through a form that failed to have a limit on attempts to enter the PIN correctly. This opened the door for brute-force attacks. T-Mobile customers were left vulnerable by the Apple Store app on iPhones. The issue left an opening on a web page that bridged the Apple Store with T-Mobile's account verification system. Similar to the Asurion issue, the Apple Store didn't place a limit on the number of attempts for PIN entry. This also permitted a brute-force attack to guess the number. Both Asurion and Apple resolved the lapses after they were brought to their attention. The T-Mobile vulnerability left some 77 million customers exposed. The number of customers impacted at AT&T is not known. SIM hijacking allows hackers to essentially copy the identity of a legit phone that can then be used to verify identify in apps and services that used SMS-based two-factor authentication.


Twitter Sunsets Support for iOS 9

Aug 23, 2018, 12:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Twitter says it will no longer provide updates to its app for devices running iOS 9 and older. In the changelog for the most recent iteration of the app, Twitter explained that it is “streamlining our app development for all clients. As a result, devices on iOS 9 or older will no longer receive updates from Twitter.” Twitter goes on to say that people interested in the latest features, bug fixes, and security improvements to the app will need to update their iPhone or iPad to iOS 10 or higher. Apple’s iOS 9 is nearing three years old, and Apple is on the cusp of releasing iOS 12. Twitter for iOS 9 will still offer base functionality.


Google Lets Local Guides Upload Video from iPhones

Aug 23, 2018, 9:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today gave its local guides another tool to help with the task of providing information about local businesses: video. Google says iPhone owners can "show off their favorite places in motion." The ability to add video is in the same menu as that for sharing photos. Local guides can take advantage of the tool right away. Local guides are people who voluntarily contribute ratings, reviews, photos, and now videos to Google Maps. These contributions improve the information available to people who search for specific businesses or points of interest.


iOS 12 Developer Beta 9 Now Available to App Writers

Aug 20, 2018, 12:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has made a new beta of iOS 12 available to its developer community. iOS 12 developer beta 9 was released today to registered developers. Apple didn't spell out any specific changes in this build other than bug fixes and improvements. iOS 12 includes a number of new features, such as improved notifications, memoji for the iPhone X, performance refinements, Screen Time for monitoring usage, and better security. The final version of iOS 12 won't arrive until September or October. A new public beta is expected to arrive later this week.


FitBit Charge 3 Targets More Activities and Offers More Smartphone Integration

Aug 20, 2018, 8:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

FitBit today announced the Charge 3, a fitness tracker that ups the ante thanks to a larger screen and smartwatch-like features. The Charge 3 has a heart rate monitor and tracks the rate 24/7. The software can show owners their heart rate zones in real time as they work out to ascertain if they are at a fat burn, cardio, or peak rate. The Charge 3 can automatically recognize a number of activities, such as runs, walks, and bicycle rides, and it tracks more than 15 different goal-oriented exercises. The Charge 3 is waterproof to 50 meters, making it an excellent option for swimmers. The wearable also tracks sleep patterns and female health for a more complete picture of well-being. The Charge 3 runs a handful of apps, including a calendar, the weather, and FitBit Pay. The wearable integrates with the owner's Android phone or iPhone to provide incoming call and message alerts, and can be used to send quick message replies on Android. Other features include a larger, sharper touch screen, aluminum design with Gorilla Glass 3, and up to seven-day battery life. The Charge 3 comes in various sizes and colors. It costs $150 and is available for pre-order on FitBit.com.


Apple Pushes iOS 12 Beta 8 to Developers

Aug 15, 2018, 1:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has made iOS 12 Beta 8 available to developers. Beta 8 appears after Apple pulled Beta 7, which introduced performance problems to devices earlier this week. The new beta resolves the issues that appeared in Beta 7. Apple didn't spell out any other specific changes in this build other than bug fixes and improvements. iOS 12 includes a number of new features, such as improved notifications, memoji for the iPhone X, performance refinements, Screen Time for monitoring usage, and better security. The final version of iOS 12 won't arrive until September or October. A new public beta is expected to arrive later this week.


Google Voice for iOS Picks Up Small Update

Aug 14, 2018, 10:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has refreshed its Google Voice app for iPhones. The latest version of the app includes a new home screen icon and other visual tweaks to give it a clean look. The app also adds a contacts tab at the bottom of the screen, making it easier to reach phone numbers. Google incorporated Voice into its G Suite for business users earlier this year. The updated app for iPhones is free to download from the iTunes App Store. It's not clear when the Android version of Voice will see a similar update.


Apple Seeds iOS 12 Beta 7 to Developers

Aug 13, 2018, 12:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has made a new beta of iOS 12 available to its developer community. iOS 12 developer beta 7 was released today to registered developers. Apple didn't spell out any specific changes in this build other than bug fixes and improvements. iOS 12 includes a number of new features, such as improved notifications, memoji for the iPhone X, performance refinements, Screen Time for monitoring usage, and better security. Apple has, however, pulled the Group FaceTime feature, according to a report from The Verge. "Group FaceTime has been removed from the initial release of iOS 12," said Apple in a message to developers. Instead, Group FaceTime "will ship in a future software update later this fall." The final version of iOS 12 won't arrive until September or October. A new public beta is expected to arrive later this week.


AP: Google Tracks Your Location Even When You Tell It Not To

Aug 13, 2018, 11:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google defies the wishes of mobile device users and tracks their whereabouts even after people turn location history off, reports the Associated Press. An investigation conducted by the Associated Press found that many Google apps and services on both Android and iOS devices continued to pinpoint users despite their wishes to the contrary. The AP says computer-science researchers at Princeton confirmed its findings. Those who allow Google to track their location can see their daily movements plotted in a timeline that's visible on a map. Google allows people to pause location history so location data is not stored. While Google Maps may stop tracking users' locations, other apps including weather and search will still pinpoint users. The AP claims this issue impacts two billion people. "If you're going to allow users to turn off something called 'Location History,' then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off," said Jonathan Mayer, a Princeton computer scientist. Google claims it is living up to its commitments. "There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people's experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services," said Google in a statement provided to the AP. "We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time." Google explains that tuning off "Location History" prevents the device from adding location to users' timelines, but the phone still captures and stores location data from other apps. Users wishing to more fully disengage tracking need to deactivate location in the "Web and App Activity" setting. Critics of Google's policy suggest it continues to track location to better target advertising, which is Google's main source of revenue.


Verizon Customers On Unlimited Plans Get Free Apple Music

Aug 8, 2018, 5:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said its customers can enjoy Apple Music for six months at no cost. Beginning August 16, subscribers to any of Verizon's Unlimited plans, new and existing alike, will be able to register for Apple Music. The offer includes the full, ad-free version of Apple Music, meaning Verizon Unlimited customers can stream as many songs as they wish via 4G or WiFi, as well as download songs and playlists for offline playback. Apple Music is available on iPhones, the iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, Mac and Windows computers, HomePod, CarPlay, and Android devices. After the six-month offer concludes, the normal $9.99 monthly fee for Apple Music applies. Verizon called this offer "the first step in an exclusive partnership with Apple."


Facebook Adds Augmented Reality Games to Messenger

Aug 8, 2018, 8:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today added a lighthearted feature to its Messenger app: the ability to challenge friends to games. The games are augmented reality, meaning they add content over what's in the viewfinder. People can challenge up to six friends to compete at a time. One person initiates the game and the others receive notifications asking them to join. The first two games available in Messenger are Don't Smile and Asteroid Attack. Facebook says it will add more games over time. The AR games are available for free in the latest version of Facebook Messenger for Android and iOS.


Google Lets Android and iOS Users Ditch Threaded Gmail Conversations

Aug 7, 2018, 11:29 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today is updating its Gmail mobile app for Android and iOS in order to bring feature parity with the web version. On the web, Gmail users can disable the threaded conversation view of emails. Now, this is possible on mobile devices. Google says users who’ve turned off conversation view on the web should automatically experience the same view on their mobile phone. Conversation view can also be toggled off manually via the settings menu. The Gmail mobile app is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.


Apple Hit with $145 Million Patent Fine

Aug 2, 2018, 12:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple owes WiLan $145 million for violating the small company's patents, says a jury in San Diego. The company sued Apple over its use of wireless technology in some iPhones. The jury said Apple was guilty of violating two such patents and ordered Apple to pay restitution. Apple has been the target of WiLan lawsuits before. In 2013, Apple was cleared of infringing different WiLan patents. Apple said it will appeal the court's latest decision.


Facebook and Instagram Debut Dashboard for Setting Limits

Aug 1, 2018, 7:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook and Instagram today both introduced new tools meant to help people control their time spent on the two social networks. The new dashboard, which Facebook says it developed with mental health experts, lets people see how much time they've spent using either app with the average time for that particular app. People can set daily limits for the amount of time they want to spend using the app, and reminders to ensure they don't surpass those limits. Facebook says users can change or cancel reminders at any time. The new dashboard also lets people easily mute push notifications so Facebook and Instagram keep interruptions to a minimum. These updates are rolling out soon on the Facebook and Instagram mobile apps for Android and iOS.


Apple Pay Expanding to CVS and 7-Eleven

Jul 31, 2018, 4:22 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple Pay will reach CVS and 7-Eleven retail locations later this year, said Apple CEO Tim Cook during the company’s earnings call with investors. The company didn’t say when Apple Pay will reach these retailers, but they are on deck. Apple noted that Apple Pay was responsible for more mobile payments than Square and PayPal combined during the second quarter of the year. Apple Pay is available from the newest iPhones, which are equipped with the proper wireless radio chip. Apple Pay is secured with the fingerprint reader on the iPhone 6s, 7, and 8, and Face ID on the iPhone X.


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