Apple iPhone 4S
Skype today updated its application for the iPhone. Skype 5.4 adds one core feature: the ability to host group calls. The updated app can initiate calls to groups with a single press. In-progress calls allow participants to see who's on the call, as well as add or drop participants at will. Skype 5.4 for the iPhone is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Sprint today said its iPhone customers now have access to the Sprint Framily Wall product. Sprint customers can use the Framily Wall to hold single and group chats, share videos and pictures, and collaborate through calendars. The basic service is free and includes 100MB of online storage. A premium version ups storage to 10GB and adds support for HD photos/videos for $3 per month. Sprint Framily Wall is already available to Android devices.
Microsoft's Skype team today announced yet another update to its mobile application for the iPhone. Skype version 5.2 adds several new features, including new support for voice messages, which are automatically added to text conversations. The app makes it easier to view contact profiles, which reveals details such as mood, name, birthday, location, and so on. Skype 5.2 also allows users to add participants to existing conversations. Skype completely overhauled its iPhone app in mid-June. Skype for the iPhone is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
FreedomPop today announced new support for the Apple iPhone along with a free service plan. FreedomPop is selling the Phone 5 (refurbished) for $349 directly from its web site. The device has access to 200 voice minutes, 500 texts, and 500MB of data for free each month. Unlimited talk, text and data plans cost less than $5 per month. Customers may also use a compatible iPhone 4/4s if they have one to bring. In addition to the iPhone 5 and free plan, FreedomPop today announced the FreedomPop Free Voice and Text application for iOS devices, which gives any iOS device free voice, text, and voicemail. FreedomPop is pitching the app as a potential source of savings for iPhone users stuck in contracts with other providers. For example, it suggests iPhone owners downgrade their contract plan and make use of its iOS app instead. FreedomPop is an MVNO that uses Sprint's network.
Apple today made iOS 7.1.1 available for download. The minor system update, which applies to the iPhone and iPad, resolves a handful of ongoing issues. It further improves performance of the TouchID function of the iPhone 5s, tweaks keyboard responsiveness, and tackles a bug related to Bluetooth keyboards when VoiceOver is activated. The update marks the first maintenance update to iOS 7.1, which was released last month, and is free to download and install.
Facebook recently updated Messenger for iOS devices and added several new features to the stand-alone messaging app. First and foremost, Messenger now supports groups. Users can create groups, name them, tag them with photos, and save them. Second, users can now forward messages from one user/conversation to another. Facebook also said the app contains several bug fixes and performance improvements. Facebook Messenger for the iPhone is free to download from iTunes.
Apple today made iOS 7.1 available to iPhones, iPads, and iPods Touch. The operating system update resolves a significant bug that soft reset iOS devices when being used. iOS 7.1 also adds support for CarPlay, Apple's recently-announced in-car software. The update tweaks the behavior of a wide range of functions, such as the ability to control Siri manually by pressing and holding the home button. Siri gains more natural-sounding voices for Chinese, UK English, Australian English, and Japanese. iTunes Radio was improved with new placement of the search bar, and the ability to buy albums directly from the Now Playing screen. The Calendar app gains the ability to display events in the month view, as well as view country-specific holidays. Accessibility has been improved with a bold font option, and the Reduce Motion function now applies to more apps, including weather and messages. iOS 7.1 also adds new HDR camera tools, improves iCloud Keychain support, automatically clears FaceTime calls, improves Touch ID on the iPhone 5s, improves performance of the iPhone 4, and provides other UI teaks. iOS 7.1 is free to download from Apple.
Verizon Wireless today announced the availability of the Incipio Cashwrap case for owners of the iPhone. The Cashwrap case includes an NFC radio and compatibility with the Isis mobile payment service. iPhone owners interested in using Isis will need to have a special SIM card, the case, the Isis application, and a credit card from a participating financial institution. The case is available for the iPhone 4/4S and 5/5s. It costs $70 and can be purchased directly from Verizon Wireless. The Cashwrap case was recently made available to AT&T iPhone owners, as well, but has yet to arrive for T-Mobile customers.
Apple recently published updates to its core productivity applications for the iPhone and iPad. Pages, Apple's word processor, has a significant number of new features. The app now lets users share password-protected documents via iCloud or export them to .docx files. The app supports charts with date, time, and duration values, and makes it easier to start lists with new characters. The app also improves support for bidirectional text, ePub export, and compatibility with Microsoft Word 2013 documents. Keynote, Apple's presentation app, includes many of the same improvements and also adds a new remote feature to control slideshows on other devices, adds new transitions, improves presenter display options, and adds custom number formats. Numbers, Apple's spreadsheet app, now permits spreadsheets to be viewed and edited in landscape orientation, adds iCloud sharing and .xlsx file export for secure documents, and improves compatibility with Microsoft's Excel program. Each app costs $9.99, but the update is free for customers who've already purchased the apps.
Apple plans to launch its iBeacon service at 254 of its U.S. stores today, reports the Associated Press. iBeacon uses Bluetooth transmitters inside Apple Stores to track the exact location of shoppers. Customers must download the most recent version of the Apple Store application, and turn their Bluetooth radios on in order for iBeacon to track them. When shoppers move about the Apple Store, iBeacon can sense if they are standing next to a table of iPhones, for example, and will send a message to ask if the customer is interested in an upgrade. The app can also direct shoppers to the check-out counter, or alert them when purchases are ready for pickup. Apple Stores will also be able to send alerts concerning sales or deals to shoppers in the vicinity. iOS device owners need to agree to allow Apple to track them in order for iBeacon to work. Apple has not updated the Apple Store application since early November, and it is unclear exactly when iBeacon will come online.
Foursquare today made version 7.0 of its application available for iPhones. The newest rendition of the popular location-sharing social network takes on iOS7's design language with new themes and colors throughout. Foursquare 7.0 now makes more real-time recommendations to users. For example, it will suggest food orders when users enter a specific restaurant based on the feedback provided by other users. The app also changes constantly, updating as users move about, offering information on as many of the nearby venues as it can. Foursquare also refreshed the news feed, making it easier to keep tabs on friends through Foursquare. Foursquare 7.0 is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple today made iOS 7.0.4 available to iPhones and iPads. The minor system update fixes a bug that caused Facetime calls to disconnect. The update is small and can be downloaded over the air.
Boost Mobile today announced pricing details for the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. It will sell both phones beginning Friday, November 8. Boost is charging $549.99 for the 16GB iPhone 5s, and $649.99 and $749.99 for the 32GB and 64GB models, respectively. Boost is charging $449.99 for the 16GB iPhone 5c and $649.99 for the 32GB model. It is selling the iPhone 4s for $299.99. Boost Mobile provides pre-paid service that runs on Sprint's CDMA/LTE networks. It does not require contracts. The prices it is charging for most of the iPhones mentioned above is $100 off the full retail price charged by Apple.
Apple today made available a minor update to its iOS 7 operating system. The new platform software includes support for iCloud Keychain, which can be used to keep track of account names, passwords, and credit cards across Mac devices. According to the changelog, the system update also adds a password generator for Safari; updates the lock screen TouchID behavior and patches a lockscreen bug; returns web and Wikipedia search to Spotlight; fixes several iMessage bugs; improves iWork stability; eliminates a VoiceOver bug that impacted Siri and input sensitivity; and resolves an accelerometer calibration issue. iOS 7 is free to download over the air and is compatible with devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Google updated its Hangouts app for iOS devices and added the ability to place free voice calls from the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch to other lines in the U.S. and Canada. Google Voice users can also receive calls through Google Hangouts. The app also improves visibility of who's online, makes it possible to send animated GIFs, and turns down music volume when incoming calls arrive. Hangouts for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft today made a new version of Skype available for iOS devices. The application has a refreshed look to better match the design language of iOS 7. It also has improved accessibility features, as well as speed improvements and other fixes. Skype for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store. It is compatible with both the iPhone and the iPad.
Google today released a version of it Google Wallet service that is compatible with Apple's iOS devices. Previously, it was only available to Android devices. Google Wallet for iOS lets users send money to others via an email address; add credit/debit and loyalty cards that can be used in stores; and see nearby offers/sales based on location. The app uses a PIN for security and the app can be disabled remotely if the phone is lost. Since iPhones do not have NFC radios on board, Google Wallet cannot be used to make mobile payments at retail locations where Google Wallet is accepted. The app mostly allows Google Wallet account holders to manage their account. Google Wallet for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple's new operating system takes a major step forward in terms of design and functionality. It greatly improves usability, while also introducing some nifty new features. Here is Phone Scoop's comprehensive review of iOS 7.
Facebook and Twitter today both welcomed Apple's iOS 7 update with significant updates of their own mobile applications. Facebook took to its blog to describe the changes it made to its app for iPhones, noting that it borrowed heavily from iOS 7's new design language. Facebook added a new navigation dock to the bottom of the screen that makes it easier to jump to different sections of the app. Additionally, it has a translucent bar at the top of the app that will change dynamically as you scroll through different photos and posts. Twitter also made changes to its app based on iOS 7's new features. For example, Twitter can now be searched by Siri, and Safari will display links shared in the user's Twitter feed. It also ties Twitter's music discovery feature to iTunes Radio via its own station. Further, Twitter makes it easier to share web pages and photos from within select iOS 7 apps, and adds Twitter handles to the iOS 7 contact application. Both Facebook and Twitter for iOS will be available later today and are free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today made available an updated version of its Chrome browser for iOS devices. Chrome 29 for the iPhone and iPad makes it easier to return to search results with an improved "back" function. The app also supports the use of pronouns in voice search, so users can ask more direct questions such as "Who is the...?". Other changes include a bandwidth manager to help control mobile data usa, and improved single sign-in with Google Apps. Chrome 29 for iOS will hit the iTunes App Store later today.
Apple on Tuesday discontinued its Cards application for the iPhone. The app let iPhone owners create greeting cards directly on their phone and then place orders for physical cards that would be delivered by mail. Apple said orders placed with the Cards app up until 1PM September 10 will be fulfilled. After that point, it ceased accepting new orders. Apple suggests that people use iPhoto on their Mac computer, instead.
Google today updated the Google Drive application for iOS devices with a refreshed user interface. The app now makes use of the card-style UI that Google has spread to a number of its mobile apps. The cards present files in a more attractive grid of thumbnails rather than a list. The app also gains the ability to edit in landscape mode (on the iPhone), copy file URLs, and more easily share files with others. Google Drive is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple today confirmed the launch of a trade-in program that will be available at its retail stores. iPhone owners will be able to take their functioning iPhone to an Apple Store and trade it in toward the purchase of a new iPhone. "In addition to helping support the environment, customers will be able to receive a credit for their returned phone that they can use toward the purchase of a new iPhone," said an Apple spokesperson. According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple will award up to $280 for old iPhones that are swapped for new ones. However, in order to buy a new iPhone customers will have to sign a new contract with a wireless network operator. The program gets under way today, according to CNBC.
Google today rolled out a small update to its Maps app for iOS devices. Google Maps for the iPhone and iPad now lets users share their location details with their Google+ circles. The update also contains bug fixes.
Google today published a version of its Chromecast application for Apple's iOS devices, including the iPhone and iPad. The Chromecast app for iOS allows users to set up their Chromecast to work with their Wi-Fi network, as well as manage their Chromecast settings (password, device name, etc.) Chromecast for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store and supports most iPhones and all iPads. Chromecast is already available to Android devices. Chromecast is an HDMI dongle that allows people to push online video content to their HDTV.
Apple has indicated that it opposes the Federal Communications Commission's mandate for interoperability in the 700MHz spectrum band. The FCC is weighing whether or not it should require all devices that use 700MHz spectrum to support all or most of the bands therein. AT&T and Verizon Wireless operate their LTE networks in Band Class 17 and Band Class 13, respectively, and Apple's iPhone works in both. The iPhone does not, however, support Band Class 12 in which smaller, regional operators, such as U.S. Cellular, operate. Smaller carriers have banded together and requested the interoperability measures, but the FCC has yet to act upon it. Apple's lawyers recently spoke to FCC representatives about the interoperability proceedings and called them unnecessary, problematic, and cost-inducing. AT&T also opposes the interoperability proposal. AT&T and others point to television channel 51 as the reason behind Band Class 17's creation in the first place, citing interference problems. A handful of interested parties met with the FCC to discuss the issue last month, but the FCC has not indicated when it may make a final ruling on the matter.
Google has made an updated version of Google Maps available to iOS devices, including the Apple iPhone. The update, which has already been released to Android devices, makes a number of changes to the app. It offers improved navigation features thanks to live traffic updates and real-time re-routing when problems occur on a navigation path. It also adds a new tool called Explore, which can be used to perform searches for nearby places without typing, and builds in reviews for places such as restaurants and other businesses. Last, it populates maps with Google Offers that are nearby. Google Maps 2.0 for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Sony today announced that a new version of its Music Unlimited application is available to iOS devices, such as the Apple iPhone. The new version of Sony's music app adds support for offline playback, higher quality audio streams (320Kbps), and a new menu system. The application itself is free to download and install, but the service requires a monthly fee.
Apple has asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to stay a planned ban on its older iPhones and iPads. Last month, the ITC found that Apple infringed on a Samsung patent pertaining to encoding technology. Apple argues that if the ban goes into effect, "Apple will lose not only sales of its iPhone 4 (GSM) and iPad 2 3G (GSM) products but also the opportunity to gain new smartphone and tablet customers who otherwise would have purchased these entry-level Apple devices." Apple further argues that the ban will negatively impact its network operator partners in the U.S., including AT&T. Last, Apple is appealing the the ITC's decision in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals where it believes the patent will be found invalid. The ban is set to go into effect August 5. The ITC's decision to allow the ban conflicts with recommendations set by the U.S. Department of Justice, which believes that import bans are too egregious a step when it comes to remedying conflicts between companies.
AT&T today announced that owners of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S will soon be able to receive wireless emergency alerts. AT&T will push a small carrier update to the iPhone 5 and 4S in the coming days that enables the function. Wireless emergency alerts are sent by the government to warn of danger. The alerts are most often related to severe weather or abducted/missing children, but can notify mobile device owners of other dangers, such as attacks. iPhone owners will be able to turn off all but Presidential alerts, which are pushed to all mobile devices and cannot be disabled. The alerts will be available to iPhones running iOS 6.1 and up.
Microsoft today released Office Mobile for Office 365 subscribers. The software allows iPhone owners to create Microsoft Office Word and Excel documents, as well as open and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, but it requires a subscription to Microsoft's Office 365 service. Office Mobile allows iPhone owners to open Office documents embedded in emails, and syncs documents changes back to SkyDrive or SharePoint automatically. It also supports collaboration tools, such as adding and viewing comments, and sharing documents with others via email or SharePoint. The application supports more than two dozen languages. Office Mobile for Office 365 is optimized for the iPhone 5, but also works with older iPhones, the iPod Touch, and the iPad. It requires iOS 6.1 and up.
AT&T today announced a new application that delivers push-to-talk walkie-talkie functionality to the Apple iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S. According to AT&T, the application supports large contact lists and talk groups, allows businesses to combine PTT services with enterprise mobile applications, and provides businesses with supervisory override so they can communicate with all PTT-enabled devices at the same time. AT&T claims that calls can be setup in less than one second. In addition to the new iPhone app, AT&T announced that its Enhanced Push-to-Talk service can now be used over Wi-Fi networks as well as its cellular network. This is the first time that PTT has been available on the iPhone from a U.S. carrier.
Google today made a new version of Google+ available to iOS devices, such as the Apple iPhone. Many of the new features are carried over from the recently-revised Android version of the Google+ app. Google+ 4.4.0 for iOS includes a number of improvements to the photos portion of the service. It offers a new auto-enhance tool for improving uploaded images. Google+ will assemble collections of photo highlights and the app is now better at sharing GIFs and panoramas. It is easier to find content through the use of hashtags, and Google+ now lets users adjust more facets of their profile from within the app. Google+ adds support for strikethrough text and the ability to edit comments. Last, the Hangouts feature is no longer available within the app (Hangouts is available separately). Google+ 4.4.0 for iOS is a free download from the iTunes App Store.
Verizon Wireless today made Verizon Cloud, its backup and storage service, available to the Apple iPhone. Verizon Cloud lets customers sync their smartphones and tablets to Verizon's servers. It offers 500MB of storage for free, and up to 125GB of storage for $9.99 per month. Verizon says the free option should be enough to backup settings, calls, messages, and contacts. Verizon Cloud was made available to Android devices last month. The application is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Aio Wireless, a subsidiary of AT&T, today launched its new, no-contract wireless service in the U.S. The wireless network is first available in Houston, Orlando, and Tampa, and will gradually expand across AT&T's footprint around the U.S. over the course of the next year. Aio offers unlimited talk, text, and data plans that range from $35 to $70 per month to feature phones, smartphones, and tablets. Data speeds will max out at 4Mbps over AT&T's HSPA+ 4G network. In addition to the handsets it sells, Aio will also provide service to people who bring in their own, unlocked devices. One of the first devices offered by Aio is the Nokia Lumia 620 (pictured). The Lumia 620 is a Windows Phone 8 smartphone that has a 3.8-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video record, and Nokia-exclusive applications. It costs $179.99 and does not require that customers sign a contract. Aio offers a handful of other smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy Express for $249.99, the Samsung Galaxy Amp for $99.99, the ZTE Prelude for $49.99, and the Apple iPhone 4/4S for prices ranging between $349.99 for refurbished models to $499.99 for new models. Feature phones offered by Aio include the Samsung Denim for $29.99 and the ZTE Atair for $49.99. Aio hopes to compete with other prepaid brands, such as Sprint's Virgin Mobile and T-Mobile's Ultra Mobile.
Google's Chrome development team is offering iOS application developers a new tool that lets them stick Chrome into their iPhone apps. The idea is to allow developers to control how web content is displayed within their own application. In many apps, clicking a web link forces iOS users out of the app they are using and into Safari. By using the new OpenInChromeController class with x-callback, clicking such links will instead open a Chrome window within the app, which also lets users go back to the main app by hitting the back button. In order for this feature to work, the Chrome browser must be installed on the iPhone in question.
Vine today pushed out version 1.1 of its iPhone application. The most significant new feature is the ability to toggle between the front and rear cameras, making self-Vines easier to capture. The update also makes it easier to search for and mention other Vine users in posts, and fixes several bugs. Vine 1.1 for the iPhone is a free download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today added its Google Now service to the Google Search application for the iPhone and iPad. In order to use Google Now, iOS device owners will need to download and install the newest version of Google Search. Users can then sign into their Google account and activate Google Now, which offers personalized information, such as local weather, sports scores, and the time it will take to commute home, in a card-like format on the screen. Google Search with Google Now is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Yahoo today made available a new version of its main Yahoo application for iOS devices. First and foremost, the application now includes Summly's recommendation technology, which Yahoo purchased just last month. The app features news and other content, and learns from user behavior over time to recommend more appealing stories. Other new features included more controls over personalized content, easier sharing with social networks, improved web search, and article summaries written by Yahoo. The app has also been given a visual overhaul. Yahoo for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Yahoo has been revising many of its Android and iOS apps in recent weeks, while at the same time cutting services, such as Yahoo Mail and Messenger for Java phones, that it feels distract from its core strengths.
Cricket Wireless today announced two new sets of plans, one for multiple lines and another for iPhones. The new family plan offers two smartphone lines for $40 per line per month. The plan includes unlimited voice minutes and text messages, 1GB of full-speed data (throttled thereafter), and Cricket's Muve Music service. Cricket also altered its iPhone service plans to match those it offers with Android smartphones. The base iPhone plan costs $50 per month and includes unlimited talk and text (domestic), 1GB of full-speed data, and Muve Music. iPhone customers can also choose a $60 plan to get 2.5GB of full-seed data and unlimited international messaging, or a $70 plan to get 5GB of full-speed data and unlimited international messaging. All three of these plans include mobile hotspot. The new plans, which went into effect April 21, are available at Cricket stores and select retailers.