iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Facebook and partners today announced the Data Transfer Project, an initiate with the goal of giving people more control over their data. The companies are working together to create an open source method that people can use to easily transfer their data from one service to another. For example, the tool would make it possible for a Google Photos uses to swap their image library to Microsoft OneDrive and any other provider. The Data Transfer Project hopes to do this in a way that is simple, secure, and supported by as many services as possible. While Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter are the first to lend support, the initiative is open to all companies. "If a user wants to switch to another product or service because they think it is better, they should be able to do so as easily as possible. This concept of allowing users to choose products and services based on choice, rather than being locked in, helps drive innovation and facilitates competition," said the companies in their white paper. The participants admit it is early days for the project and they haven't said when the DTP might be available to the public. Consumers often choose an ecosystem — Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, et al — when buying hardware. The DTP could make it simpler for people to change ecosystems when upgrading to new devices.
Apple has made new betas of iOS 12 available to its developer community and public testers. iOS 12 developer beta 4 was released earlier this week and iOS 12 public beta 3 was released today. The updated betas are cleaner than their respective predecessors; Apple didn't spell out any specific changes. 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 the fall.
Google today announced an update to Google Assistant that will see the service displaying a snapshot of users' agendas. The visual overview can be accessed by a new button that appears in the Google Assistant app for Android. On iOS devices, the new snapshot tool will appear automatically. Google says the snapshot will focus on things such as travel times for meetings and appointments, though it will also offer information on agenda items, reminders, reservations, stock portfolios, bills, packages, and suggested actions. Google plans to add more useful features to snapshot over time, such as notes and lists, parking reminders, and podcast recommendations. Google Assistant may also send notifications to ensure people don't miss future events. Google Assistant with the new visual snapshot feature is rolling out to Android and iOS devices this week.
Apple today committed to adopting more than 70 new emoji. The Unicode Consortium announced Unicode 11, which includes dozens of new emoji, in February and made the final version available in June. Apple says new emoji characters will soon grace the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. Unicode 11 brings new representation for emoji with options for red hair, gray hair, curly hair, and no hair, as well as more food, animals, sports, and other items. Apple didn't specifically say Unicode 11 will be added to iOS 12, but that is the route Apple is most likely to pursue. iOS 12 is already in beta testing and will be distributed to iOS devices in September or October.
Google today released a major update to the Google Pay app and service. Google Pay now supports one-time tickets with QR codes, such as airline boarding passes and concert tickets. In the app, they appear in a new "Passes" tab, along with loyalty and gift cards. The Google Pay app also now lets you send money to friends, a feature that was previously available only with a separate Google Pay send app. Now that Google Pay Send is combined with Google Pay, the new unified app also supports bill splitting. You can tap on any recent payment and a "Split the cost" button lets you request money from up to five people. An iOS version of Google Pay supports these friend payments. Google also revamped the Google Pay web site.
Apple has released iOS 11.4.1, which improves stability and the Find My AirPods feature. It also introduces USB Restricted Mode, a feature designed to prevent a third party from attempting unauthorized access to a locked iPhone via the Lightning port and USB. When the phone has been locked for a full hour, all USB access is disabled. However, security researchers at ElcomSoft have discovered that attaching any USB device to the iPhone will reset this 1-hour clock, providing a an easy workaround for any third party that comes into possession of the phone within an hour of its last use. A new toggle in the settings lets users disable this security feature.
Instagram today announced a new feature that lets you know when you've seen everything posted in the past two days in your main Instagram feed. The "You're All Caught Up" message will appear below the last new and unseen post, with viewed and older posts appearing below the new message. The feature is available in both Android and iOS versions of the Instagram app today.
Apple hopes to improve its Apple Maps app and service by rebuilding them from the ground up with all new data. Apple launched Maps six years ago relying on data from third-party providers such as TomTom. The launch was shaky at best, as the map data was often incorrect or out of date. Apple promised to improve Maps over time, and it did. Four years ago, however, Apple decided to wholly reimagine maps by starting over. Apple has its own fleet of cars to gather information, and it is using "segments of trips you take that have been anonymized," according to TechCrunch. This information comes directly from iPhone owners and is used by Apple to determine the validity of routes and whether or not there's traffic congestion. Apple says the data is completely anonymous and only ever takes a small picture of an entire trip without recording the beginning and end points. Even so, iPhone owners can opt out of the data collection using the privacy settings in Maps. Eventually, users will begin to see more information in maps, such as foliage markers, parking lots, pools, sports complexes, accurate building shapes, and pedestrian pathways. Apple says it has thousands of people working all over the world to improve maps. Apple is going to launch the new map data in the Bay Area in early July, with a broader rollout in Northern California expected with the arrival of iOS 12 in the fall. Apple didn't say when state- or country-level maps will be available.
Instagram today made it possible for users to add songs to their stories. Moving forward, a music icon appears when users add a sticker to a photo or video within the Stories tool. Tapping it opens a library of thousands of songs, says Instagram. The tool lets you browse or search by song title, artist, mood, or genre. People can fast-forward and rewind to find the exact part of the song they want to play along with their story. Alternately, iPhone owners can choose a song before they capture a photo or video and then record video along with the portion of the song they want. Those who view stories accompanied by songs will be able to see a sticker that displays the song title and artist name. Instagram says it is adding new songs to the library every day. The new song support is being added to the latest version of the mobile Instagram app for Android and iOS.
Amazon has updated its Alexa mobile app for iOS devices with the ability to support voice requests. The Android Alexa mobile app has had this feature since January. Now, iPhone users can issue voice commands to Alexa from their phone in order to access playlists or tap into Alexa’s various skills. The app does not support wake word functionality, which means people will need to open the app in order to make voice-based requests. The updated Alexa app with voice control is available from the iTunes App Store. Alexa is free to download.
Instagram today said video chat, new camera effects for Stories, and topic channels in Explore, features it first announced in May, are now rolling out. Video chatting appears as a new icon within direct message threads, which can be used to open one-on-one video chats between up to four users. The new camera effects platform is mostly for developers, who can now create their own unique, interactive camera and filter experiences for end users. The social network gave Ariana Grande, Baby Ariel, Liza Koshy, Vogue, the NBA, and Buzzfeed access to these tools first and each has made several filers available. Last, topic channels in the Explore tab are more personalized for end users. Instagram says users will see channels on topics they like such as art, sports, or fashion, as well as associated hashtags. People can also quickly browse through the Explore tab. These new features are reaching the Android and iOS versions of the Instagram app today.
AT&T today said it has added a number of rewards and promotions to AT&T Thanks, its customer appreciate program. Once AT&T customers download the app and sign up for the program, they'll have access to new priority pre-sales and sweepstakes for a handful of concerts. AT&T has partnered with iHeartRadio to schedule 10 pop-up concerts this summer in cities including Austin, Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Indianapolis, Memphis, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. In addition to early access to tickets, AT&T Thanks participants may be able to interact with artists on site. AT&T Thanks is gaining dining deals, too. Participants can find offers and discounts from chain restaurants around the country, including Corner Bakery Cafe, TGI Fridays, Texas de Brazil, and Blaze Pizza. AT&T Thanks is available only to postpaid AT&T Wireless, DirecTV, U-Verse, and AT&T Internet customers. The app is available to Android and iOS devices.
Apple today made iOS 12 available in beta to those willing to test the pre-release operating system. The platform has already been in testing with developers for several weeks. Consumers interested in testing the platform will need to sign up on Apple's web site and download and install the public beta profile to their devices. Once the profile is installed, the public beta should show up through the normal software update tool in the system settings. Apple says iOS 12 will run on iPhones back to the 2013-era iPhone 5s. 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 the fall.
Apple hopes its new section focusing on the 2018 midterm elections will help iPhone and iPad users stay informed about local and national races. Apple says the section, curated by its editors, will feature breaking news, exclusive highlights, and analysis from reliable sources so readers can get up to speed on candidates and topics. The section will have several sub-sections. For example, The Conversation will house opinion columns about hot-button issues, while On the Ground will highlight reporting about local issues and races. Apple says it will include content from a variety of publishers, including Axios, Fox News, Politico, Vox, and the Washington Post. Apple says the Apple News 2018 Midterm Elections section is already available to U.S. readers and will remain in place through the elections in November.
Google today made it possible to make measurements using Google Earth. The new Measure Tool allows users to measure not only distances between points, but areas. The feature is available to Google Earth on Chrome right away. It reaches Android devices this week and will come to iOS devices soon.
Microsoft this week rolled out an update to its Bing search engine that lets people perform searches based on things they see in the real world. The visual search function works similarly to Google Lens. Bing users can take a snapshot of a landmark, or plant, or animal and then search based on the image. Microsoft says it will identify the object and provide information about it along with links to learn more. Microsoft says the app also allows people to shop from image searches if they wish. The new visual search function is available within the Bing search app on Android and iOS, as well as via the Edge browser on Android. Visual search will reach the Edge browser on iOS in the weeks ahead.
Facebook's Messenger Kids app is set to become more parent-friendly and more widely available. Facebook is updating the app today with a handful of features, including the ability for more than one parent to control the app and account. The company says it is working on "new features rooted in principles of social and emotional learning." For example, kids and parents will be greeted by a pledge of guiding principles when first signing into the app, and can make use of kindness stickers that let people offer encouragement to others. Last, the app is expanding to Canada and Peru, and is being made available in English, French, and Spanish to those countries and the U.S. Facebook Messenger Kids requires a parental account. It is available on Android and iOS.
Google today improved the design of its Google Account tool in order to make it easier for people to manage their account details, security, and privacy. The revised function provides summaries of personal information, devices with account access, payment methods, purchases, subscriptions, and contacts. A search function lets people easily find particular settings, such as how to change a password. It boasts a new support section with FAQs and other how-tos. Privacy controls are now managed in a single place that Google says has been tested by end users. It offers insight into account activity, and the refreshed Privacy Checkup helps people review their privacy settings and improve them if needed. For example, Google will offer prominent notices if it detects there's something amiss, and will suggest people remove old devices or unused apps from their account. The new Google Account dashboard is available to Android devices now, and will be available on the web and iOS devices later this year.
Instagram today announced IGTV, a separate application meant expressly for consuming video content. Instagram insists IGTV is different from its existing app. "First, it’s built for how you actually use your phone, so videos are full screen and vertical. Also, unlike on Instagram, videos aren’t limited to one minute. Instead, each video can be up to an hour long," explained the company in a blog post. Videos from favored accounts will start to play as soon as users open the app. In addition to content from followers, IGTV will queue up videos based on users' interests. Sections such as For You, Following, Popular, and Continue Watching will let people browse and discover content from others. As always, people can like and comment on videos, as well as share them with friends. IGTV will include creator channels where people can upload their own videos. Instagram says the app will be available globally for Android and iOS devices over the next few weeks.
Google today made the first Release Preview of Flutter available to developers. Flutter is a set of tools that can help developers create user interface designs that work on Android and iOS. Flutter has been in beta testing since February and saw its last major update in May. Google says Flutter is quick and easy to use, and can be put to use 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 support inline video, additional image formats, and background processes. Flutter Release Preview 1 introduces a handful of new features, such as support for hardware keyboards, barcode scanners, and video recording. The team behind Flutter says it is focusing on improving 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. Last, Flutter now has instructions for adding Flutter widgets to existing Android and iOS apps. The end result, hopes Google, will be better looking and better functioning mobile apps that look and run the same on Android and iOS. More information about the new features in Flutter Release Preview 1 can be found at the Flutter blog.
Apple today made iOS 12 Beta 2 available to developers. This build focuses on resolving bugs and performance problems found in the first beta. Those who write apps for Apple devices can download the update over the air. Apple hasn't said when it will launch the public beta program for iOS 12. The new platform will run on iPhones back to the 2013-era iPhone 5s. The final version of iOS 12 won't arrive until the fall. iOS 12 includes a number of new features, such as improved notifications, memoji for the iPhone X, and more.
Apple today said iPhones will soon provide 911 emergency services with more exact locations of callers. Since 2015, Apple has relied on HELO (Hybridized Emergency Location), which uses cellular, GPS, and wifi access points to estimate 911 callers' locations. This system is not always perfect. Starting with the release of iOS 12 in the fall, Apple will use RapidSOS's internet protocol-based pipeline to share HELO location data with 911 centers quickly and securely. Apple says this new system will integrate with 911 centers' existing software to more finely pinpoint location. Importantly, Apple says user location data cannot be used for non-emergency purposes and 911 centers will only have access to location during 911 emergency calls. By law, wireless network operators are required to locate callers within 50 meters 80% of the time, but not until 2021. Apple says its new feature exceeds this requirement today. "This new functionality is an example of how companies and first responders can use technology to dramatically improve public safety,” said Tom Wheeler, former chairman at the FCC. "Lives will be saved thanks to this effort by Apple and RapidSOS." iOS 12 is expected to reach iPhones and iPads in September or October.
AT&T today made it possible to buy one iPhone X and get a second iPhone for free. The offer is available to new and existing customers, and requires both phones to be purchased on an AT&T Next installment plan (24 or 30 months). The first line can be new or an upgrade, but the second line — with the free iPhone — must be a new line. The second free iPhone can be the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X. After approximately three billing periods, AT&T will begin making the monthly device payments spread out over 30 months. Customers will be responsible for taxes and activation fees on both phones at the point of sale. The offer ends June 19.
Google is rolling out a feature to its iOS Gmail app that will let people receive notifications only for messages deemed high priority. Google says the optional feature relies on machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify messages that the recipient may want to read first. A new "High Priority Only" option appears in the Notifications drop-down in Gmail's settings. Users will need to select it if they wish to test the scaled-back notifications. The feature is already available to the latest Gmail app for iOS and will reach Gmail for Android devices soon.
Apple today said it will change the behavior of iPhones in order to protect its users. The company plans to alter its software to lock the Lightning port of iOS devices that are not used for an hour. The function, called USB Restricted Mode, prevents data transfer via USB, though the phone can still charge through a Lightning cable. The idea is to thwart law enforcement use of GrayShift and Cellebrite boxes, which are able to crack iOS security using a direct USB connection through the Lightning port. The devices work by disabling the number of times passwords/PINs can be guessed by the machine before the iPhone is locked or erased. "We’re constantly strengthening the security protections in every Apple product to help customers defend against hackers, identity thieves and intrusions into their personal data," said Apple in a statement to Reuters. "We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don’t design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs." The Lightning port will be re-enabled for data transfer once the owner enters their password, PIN, fingerprint, or Face ID. Apple primarily expects the feature to protect consumers "in countries where police seize phones at will." Researchers discovered USB Restricted Mode in beta builds of iOS 10.4 last month. Apple told Reuters that it will be added permanently to iOS in a future release.
Twitter today announced a number of changes to the way it arranges tweets, trends, and topics in order to help people find and read about the things that interest them. For example, breaking news will now be added to the Happening Now tool that appears at the top of users' feeds. Twitter says it is expanding this function from local sports teams to include breaking and personalized news and videos. Similarly, Twitter also intends to test sending notifications about breaking news based on user interests. Twitter says people will be able to turn these notifications off if they wish. Twitter is overhauling the Explore tab. As it stands, the tab is organized by content type (videos, links). Moving forward, Twitter will organize the tab by topic to help people see what's happening in news and entertainment. The search tool gains improvements, too, as it will display information (news, events, stories) that is related to search queries in order to provide a broader picture. Last, Twitter is reorganizing the Moments tab. The new look trades horizontal swiping for vertical scrolling to improve usability. Moments will also gain multiple timelines in order to surface more tweets about the subject, highlighting the latest commentary. Twitter says these changes are rolling out piecemeal to Android and iOS devices over the next few weeks.
Apple is taking more steps to protect its users' data. In its latest App Store Guidelines, Apple forbids developers from creating databases from contacts, photos, or other apps/APIs that can access user information. "Apps should not attempt to surreptitiously build a user profile based on collected data and may not attempt, facilitate, or encourage others to identify anonymous users or reconstruct user profiles based on data collected from Apple-provided APIs," said Apple in its guidelines. The new rules specifically call out use of the contacts and photos apps, which developers are not allowed to cull to build a contact database for their own or commercial purposes. Developers may also not contact people using the information collected from the contacts/photos apps. Further, any data pulled from Apple's various APIs (HomeKit, HealthKit, MovementDisorder, Camera, Photo, or Consumer Health Records) may not be used for marketing or advertising purposes. Apple made a number of changes to its App Store guidelines earlier this month as developers build apps for iOS 12, watchOS 5, and macOS 10.14.
Registered developers and public testers alike can download the latest versions of iOS and watchOS from Apple. Apple made both iOS 11.4.1 beta 2 and watchOS 4.3.2 beta 2 available for download. There's no word on what changes are built nto the latest code, though changes are likely confined to bug fixes and performance improvements. Apple released iOS 11.4 to the general public last month. iOS 11.4 introduced iMessage in the Cloud and AirPlay 2 to iPhones and iPads. Apple is also beta testing iOS 12 and watchOS 5, but hasn't distributed new builds since earlier this month. The final versions of iOS 12 and watchOS 5 won't arrive until the fall. iOS 11.4.1 is likely the last build of 11.4 before Apple releases iOS 12.
Google today made its neural machine translation (NMT) technology available to Google Translate even when mobile devices are offline. Google says NMT will run on Android and iOS phones in Google Translate, powering accurate translations when there's no internet connection. NMT translates text entire sentences at once, rather than word by word or phrase by phrase. This means translations sound more like they would if spoken by a real person. This is particularly helpful with longer sections of text, such as paragraphs or articles. Users will need to download the specific language pack they want/need to their device in order to access offline NMT. Most languages are between 35 MB and 45 MB, so they don't take up too much space. Google Translate is adding offline NMT support for 59 languages around the world over the next few days, with more in the works.
Apple has a brand new reading app in store for iPhones and iPads later this year. The company offered a brief look at the new Apple Books app during its recent Worldwide Developers Conference, but is now more fully revealing the app and its features. For example, the new Reading Now tab includes 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 will more prominently call 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 browser, 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 will be available in 51 countries later this fall with iOS 12.
Apple doesn't want iPhones and iPads to be used by developers to mine Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. The company recently updated its App Store guidelines with specific bans on mining. "Apps may not mine for cryptocurrencies unless the processing is performed off device" such as in the cloud, said Apple. Some apps have hidden cryptocurrency mining in their background processes, using mobile and other devices to mine the currencies unbeknownst to device owners. This is now forbidden. Apple is still allowing apps to facilitate transactions or transmissions of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange, as well as facilitate Initial Coin Offerings as long as they come from established banks. Google has put a similar cryptocurrency mining ban in place in its Chrome Web Store.
Instagram today introduced a new feature it calls @mention sharing that lets people share the posts in which they are tagged. "When someone mentions you in their story, you receive a notification in your Direct message thread with that person," explained Instagram. "Now, you’ll see an option to add that content to your own story." People can not only re-share the posts, they can turn them into stickers, scale and rotate them, as well as add text to dress them up. The original poster's username will be included in re-shared posts so others can access and explore that person's profile. This feature is only available to people with public accounts. Instagram says @mention sharing is available to the Android and iOS apps in a updated rolling out today.
iOS 12 adds a surprising feature to the iPhone X: support for up to two different faces for the Face ID security feature. Under the settings for Face ID, it's now possible to set a second face. The description reads "In addition to continuously learning how you look, Face ID can recognize an alternative appearance." Using the tools, it is simple to record two different faces for securing and unlocking the iPhone X. Apple did not call this feature out on stage during its recent WWDC keynote, and it's possible the feature will change while iOS 12 undergoes beta development.
Apple has made adjustments to the guidelines in the App Store in order to control purchases made in or through streamed apps. The altered language says apps distributed through the App Store cannot contain their own app store or let users “browse, select, or purchase software not already owned or licensed by the user.” Apple takes a 15% to 30% cut of apps and subscriptions purchased via the App Store. The updated policy makes it more explicit what types of purchases are allowed from within apps. The move follows Apple's recent denial of an app from Steam that would have allowed iPhone and iPad owners to stream their PC-based games on their mobile device. Despite this change, iOS apps are still allowed to offer remote mirroring, such as access to a desktop. Apple is simply preventing certain streaming apps from offering in-app purchases that aren't made through the App Store itself. The move is seen as a way for Apple to protect its App Store revenue.
Google is preparing to more broadly roll out its new Gmail design to users on the web and mobile devices. For the moment the new Gmail is opt-in, but that is going to change over the next few months. The new Gmail will become generally available to everyone starting in July, though people will still need to opt in. Google says people who don't opt in within eight weeks from general availability will be migrated automatically. Google will allow people to opt out of the new Gmail for up to 12 weeks after it reaches general availability, or through October. After October, all users will be migrated to the new Gmail. The new Gmail has a refreshed design with features like nudge, snooze, and scam notifications. It also helps people unsubscribe from newsletters and makes it easier to view attachments. The new Gmail is already available to Android and iOS devices should users care to upgrade.
Apple today detailed which of its smartwatch wearables will have access to watchOS 5, and the original Apple Watch is not among them. The new platform, which adds a wide number of new features, will be available to the Apple Watch Series 1, Series 2, and Series 3 w/LTE wearables. WatchOS 5 will also require an iPhone running iOS 12 and up, which means an iPhone 5s or later. WatchOS 5 adds improved notifications, third-party app access to Siri, podcasts, walkie-talkie, and automatic workout detection. WatchOS 5 is in beta testing now and is expected to reach end users in the fall.
Apple has made the first beta of iOS 12 available to registered developers. Those who write apps for Apple devices can download the update through Apple's developer console to iPhones and iPads. Apple hasn't said when it will launch the public beta program for iOS 12. The new platform will run on iPhones back to the 2013-era iPhone 5s. Apple also released developer betas of watchOS 5, tvOS 12, and macOS 10.14 Mojave. The final versions of these updated platforms won't arrive until the fall.
Apple today said it will eventually allow select iOS applications to run on its Mac computers. The company said it hopes to roll out the feature at some point next year. The first such apps will be Apple's own, some of which will include Stocks, News, Home, and Voice Memos. Apple didn't go into detail about how its iOS apps will work with non-touch laptops and PCs. Apple said in no uncertain terms that it is not planning to merge iOS with macOS. Developers will have access to the tools needed to bring iOS apps to the Mac next year.
Apple hopes its new version of iOS will help people find a better life-device balance. Screen Time tools being added to the platform make it easier to control when and for how long people use their iPhones and iPads. For example, Screen Time provides an Activity Report for iOS devices, detailing which apps are being using, when, and for how long. Parents can use Screen Time to manage their kids' devices. The tool gives parents the ability to block off time when iOS devices cannot be used at all, such as at night or during school. Parents can control which apps are available, how much time they are allowed to be used, and set limits. People can also use Screen Time to limit their own use of certain apps or their device in general. The tool works across iOS devices via Family Sharing. The new Screen Time tools will arrive with iOS 12 later this year.