iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Microsoft today said it has acquired SwiftKey, a company that develops software keyboards for Android and iOS devices. SwiftKey has strong word prediction capabilities, and is often able to suggest not only the word being typed, but what word might come next. Microsoft said SwiftKey's technology aligns with its own vision of "personal computing experiences that anticipate our needs versus responding to our commands." Microsoft also finds SwiftKey's use of artificial intelligence and prediction interesting. SwiftKey employees will be added to Microsoft's roster, where they will continue their work and enhance Microsoft's own Word Flow software keyboard for Windows. Microsoft said the SwiftKey app will continue to be available to Android and iOS devices. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Yahoo says it has tweaked how it presents results to people who search from the iPhone's browser. iPhone owners who have Yahoo set as their default search engine will now see cleaner search results that display more data and make it easier to drill down into specifics. For example, searches for the Carolina Panthers will reveal scores, as well as schedule, roster, and individual players' performance details — all of which will be accessible from the main results page. Yahoo says the new results are available from any mobile browser on iOS devices as long as Yahoo is the default search tool.
Yahoo today made new versions of Yahoo Mail available to Android and iOS devices. The refreshed email application brings customizable swiping gestures to both platforms. For example, users can set swipes to add stars to individual messages, move them to specific folders, delete messages, or archive them. The Android app gains the ability to reply to incoming notifications and the redesigned multi-select toolbar adds a wider array of actions. The iOS app now lets users see recent attachments when composing emails, as well as create, delete, and organize folders. Yahoo Mail for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
Yahoo today unveiled a redesigned home page on the web and new, corresponding apps for Android and iOS devices. Yahoo said the new design should make news and other content easier to find, read, and share. It reduced the number of new pages or tabs that users need to open when browsing through stories, and offers more suggestions for related content. Users can "heart" content and Yahoo's learning engine will use that information to deliver a more curated set of stories over time. The Yahoo app is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Google Docs on Android and iOS mobile devices took a big step forward today with the addition of commenting. Google says document collaborators can now easily make comments in Docs, Sheets, and Slides files from their smartphone or tablet. Further, users can tag colleagues in comments to include them in conversations. The tools should help boost the productivity of Docs users on Android and iOS devices, as well as the desktop, as everyone can make, see, and respond to comments. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Microsoft has released News Pro for iOS devices, a news- and article-aggrating app that delivers "hyper-relevant" news to users based on their interests. In the same vein as Apple News, Pro News from Microsoft allows users to select from more than one million topics to receive catered results. The app can "find articles and topics you didn't know you needed," says Microsoft. Users can sign in via Facebook or LinkedIn, if they wish, to extend the app's ability to suggest content and then share it with social connections. News Pro, developed by Microsoft's Garage project, is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple today pushed out a handful of new beta releases. Developers can now download iOS 9.3 beta 2, watchOS 2.2 beta 2, and tvOS beta 9.2. Each beta has bug fixes and performance upgrades when compared to prior versions. Apple will likely make new consumer versions of the betas available shortly. Apple today also released tvOS 9.1.1 for consumers, which adds Apple's newer podcast app to the platform.
Facebook has updated its iOS app and added more 3D Touch features to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. The latest version brings peek and pop functions into the main app itself, where users will be able to glance at "web links, profiles, pages, groups, events, photos, profile pictures, and cover photos," according to the company. The app already supports several 3D Touch-based actions from the home screen, such as updating user status or posting a picture. Facebook is exploring how else it might use 3D Touch, and plans to add more features over time. Facebook is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft has updated Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Apple's iOS platform with a handful of new features. Most significantly, the Office productivity suite now supports 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, which can be used to call up actions such as opening or creating files. All three apps also gain support for the Apple Pencil for use with the iPad Pro, and compatibility with iOS 9's Spotlight Search tool. Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are free to download from the iTunes App Store, though some features require a subscription to Office 365.
Apple today improved its selection of apps for music makers. First, it pushed out a significant update to GarageBand for iOS, which now includes Live Loops. Apple says deejay equipment inspired Live Loops. Anyone can create looping rhythm or backing tracks using cells, columns, and grids within GarageBand. The app also adds a new drummer feature with nine EDM and acoustic session drummers, and a wider selection of virtual amps and bass players. The app has been optimized for the iPad Pro, but adds 3D Touch support to the iPhone 6s/6s Plus versions. GarageBand 2.1 is available from the iTunes App Store. Music Memos, inspired by the iOS Voice Memo app, is a brand new tool meant to help musicians quickly and easily record and organize their musical ideas. The app can record any instrument through the built-in microphone, analyze the rhythm and chords of guitar/piano tracks, and automatically add bass and drum accompaniments. Music Memos provides basic notation, and can display which chords have been played. Last, the app syncs with iCloud so Music Memos are available across Apple devices. Music Memo is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple today made iOS 9.3 Beta 1.1 available to those testing the pre-release operating system. Apple says the minor update contains bug fixes and other improvements to the initial beta.
Starbucks today expanded the scale of its mobile application to include Spotify-backed music discovery. People who visit Starbucks stores will be able to use the Starbucks mobile app to discover what songs are being played in-store and save those songs to a personal Spotify playlist. Users will be able to view recently played songs, "love" songs to boost their visibility, and share songs to social networks. The music discovery service is available to Spotify's free and premium customers. Beginning later this month, the Starbucks app will also highlight emerging artists to help expose them to larger audiences. The music discovery tool is available to both the Android and iOS versions of the Starbucks mobile app and can be used at some 7,500 Starbucks stores around the U.S. Starbucks has long held an interest in promoting music. The coffee company had a similar partnership with Apple that allowed iTunes users to see and purchase the current overhead track when logged into Starbucks WiFi. Starbucks has sold CDs at the register for more than a decade.
Apple today made iOS 9.3 Beta 1 available to consumers who've signed up for the public beta program. The software includes Night Shift, education tools, TouchID Notes and more. It is free to download and test. Apple released a developer version of iOS 9.3 earlier this week.
Microsoft today updated Outlook for iOS with new Skype integration. Outlook already merges email and calendar functionality into one app. Now, users can make any calendar appointment a Skype meeting with the flick of a switch. When the meeting starts, a simple tap in the calendar app will start the Skype call. The refreshed Outlook app also gains a new three-day calendar view. Outlook for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Microsoft didn't immediately say if or when it might add Skype to the Android version of Outlook.
Google today updated the SDK for Google Cardboard and added support for spatial audio. Until today, Cardboard apps were limited to stereo sound. The addition of spatial audio will allow developers to create more immersive sound environments to match their VR experiences. Google says the SDK lets developers specify the size and material of their virtual environment, which impacts how sound moves around objects and to the listener's ears. Adding spatial audio will have minimal impact on CPU performance needs, so it shouldn't affect battery life. The Unity version of the SDK can be used to bring spatial auto to Android, iOS, Windows, and OS X devices, while the native Android SDK will require only a simple Java API. Developers can download the updated SDK directly from Google.
Apple has added a small feature to WiFi Assist in iOS 9.3 that displays how much cellular data the tool is using. WiFi Assist forces iPhones off of weak WiFi signals in favor of stronger cellular data signals. It was added to iOS to combat slow network performance when iPhones doggedly remained connected to crummy WiFi even when strong LTE was available. Some users have complained, however, that they ran up large cellular bills by surfing over LTE when they thought they were using WiFi. Now, WiFi Assist clearly shows how much cellular data has been consumed with the WiFi Assist function is turned on.
Microsoft today said mobile device owners will soon be able to conduct group video chats for free. The feature is headed to Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile 10 handsets and tablets in the coming weeks. Skype is allowing people to preview the tool ahead of its general release. Anyone interested can sign up on Microsoft's web site. Microsoft claims Skype has been downloaded 750 million times. The app will be updated across platforms with the new feature shortly.
Periscope and Twitter today said that live video from Periscope is now viewable and discoverable within users' Twitter feeds. Until today, people had to use the separate Periscope app to discover live video feeds. Moving forward, Twitter users will be able to find and view live video feeds directly from within Twitter. Periscope content will be viewable even to those who have not downloaded the Periscope app. Periscope video feeds will play automatically as users scroll past them in the iOS app. Twitter said it is still working to integrate Periscope and Twitter onto the Twitter.com and on Android devices. It expects to make live video available to Android users in the near future.
Apple today released a beta of iOS 9.3 and revealed that the system update will bring new features to education. This version of iOS 9.3 is chiefly for developers. It I ntroduces several new classroom-friendly features, such as the ability for students to sign into any iPad (rather than just one), and a new classroom app for teachers to use for managing their students and assignments. Further, iOS 9.3 brings more control over iOS to school admins, who will be able to create and manage school-specific Apple IDs on various devices, as well as manage the hardware deployed within the school district. iOS 9.3 also tweaks Apple Health, Apple News, and Apple Notes. The update introduces Night Shift, a mode that begins to reduce the amount of blue light throughout the OS during the evening hours in order to help assist with sleeping. (Google's book reading app does something similar.) The revised platform improves CarPlay with more Apple Musiuc features, as well. Apple hasn't said when it might release iOS 9.3 to the general public. Apple also released new betas of tvOS, watchOS, and OS X.
Samsung said it plans to add support for the Apple iPhone to the Gear S2 smartwatch later this year. The S2, which runs Tizen, is already compatible with Android handsets. Samsung didn't say what features will make the jump from Android to iOS, though it may drop a few. In the past, Samsung has restricted its smartwatch compatibility to its own handsets. Bringing iOS support to the S2 is an important change of direction for Samsung.
Under Armour and HTC today announced UA HealthBox, a $400 box containing a suite of health and fitness hardware designed to work with the UA Record app for Android and iOS. The core device is the UA Band wrist wearable, which tracks basic heart rate and activity. It's designed to be worn 24/7, tracking both daily movement and sleep cycles. A more advanced, accurate heart rate monitor is included and designed to be worn during workouts and sport activity. As first reported by Phone Scoop over a month ago, the UA Scale — measuring both weight and body fat — is also part of the kit. It uses Bluetooth to identify the UA Band of the person standing on the scale and Wi-Fi to upload the data. The UA Record app collects and combines info from the hardware with food intake information entered by the user, to provide a complete health picture. The UA Band is similar to the HTC Grip device announced almost a year ago, but sacrifices GPS for a sleeker, smaller design that lasts longer between charges and can be worn 24/7. The new UA Band is encased in rubber and sports a thin white OLED display; it's controlled by touch gestures and a single physical button on the side. It also has an adjustable strap. The UA HealthBox can be pre-ordered immediately. It will go on sale January 22nd online and at UA Brand House stores in major U.S. cities. It will be available more widely later in Q1, including at third party sports retailers and internationally.
Apple said a second beta of iOS 9.2.1 is now available for developers to download and install on their test devices. Apple hasn't specified what new features are in iOS 9.2.1, but they most likely center on bug fixes.
Ford today announced an update to its Sync 3 in-car infotainment system, to support Apple CarPlay and Google's Android Auto. All 2017 Ford models with Sync 3 will support CarPlay and Android Auto, and an update will be offered for 2016 models with Sync 3. Ford has previously supported Apple's Siri Eyes-Free for integrated Siri voice control with iPhones. The new support brings a car-oriented visual interface to the dash display, powered by the phone. The update to Sync 3 also brings LTE connectivity, allowing owners to remotely start and unlock their car from their smartphone. Ford joins Audi, Volkswagen, Kia, GM, Hyundai, Nissan, Volvo, Subaru, and Honda in supporting both CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Facebook iOS application now lets users upload, share, and view Live Photos captured with the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus. Live Photos debuted with the newest iPhones from Apple earlier this year. Similar to HTC's Zoes, iOS Live Photos combine video and images to create a moving, living montage. At launch, Live Photos could be shared across Apple's phones, tablets, and PCs, but not third-party platforms. The latest version of the Facebook iOS app adds support for Live Photos. Live Photos can only be viewed by other devices running iOS 9. The feature is being pushed to a small number of users initially, with a broader rollout planned for 2016.
Apple has released a beta version of iOS 9.2.1 to public testers. The public beta follows the developer beta by a day. iOS 9.2.1 is a minor update and does not appear to add any user-facing changes. Anyone can enroll on the public beta-testing program through Apple's web site.
Facebook says tests of Photo Magic have gone well and today it is adding the feature to Messenger for users in the U.S. Photo Magic scans users' camera roll using face-recognition software. When it finds people it associates with other Facebook accounts, the app will suggest the photo be shared with that person via Messenger. Facebook believes people will be more apt to share photos if it does some of the leg work in the background. People can opt out of being recognized if they wish. Facebook is making its Android and iOS apps customizable, as well. Users can select different colors and assign nicknames. Messenger now also has several holiday-themed emoji, stickers and animations. Messenger is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Microsoft recently updated Outlook for the iPhone and added support for 3D Touch. On the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, a forceful press of the Outlook icon will open an action menu that lets people start a new email, add a new calendar event, or open the calendar. The app also adds support for printing from the email view across all iOS devices. Outlook for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google hopes to make reading on smartphones easier on the eyes. The company today added a feature called Night Light to the Google Play Books app. With the mode turned on, Play Books will gradually filter blue light from the screen and replace it with warm, amber light. Night Light adjusts to the ambient sunlight automatically to help deliver just the right balance of temperature and brightness. Google says the result is more comfortable on readers' eyes, and improves low-light reading at night. Night Light is available to the Android and iOS versions of Play Books, which is being updated starting today.
Pebble today updated its smartwatches with new system software. Pebble OS 3.8 bestows the Pebble Time Steel and Pebble Time Round with a fitness and activity tracking application. With Pebble Health, smartwatch owners can monitor their sleep and track steps. The app delivers a sleep report upon waking and a step report at the end of the day. It collects information over time and displays it in graph form to help people spot trends. The app is compatible with Google Fit and Apple HealthKit. Pebble is also pushing Pebble OS 3.8 to the older Pebble Classic and Pebble Steel watches. These devices gain the timeline user interface that ships with the newest watches from Pebble, although the older watches do not have access to Pebble Health. The refreshed system software also adds universal search, improvements to music control and Facebook Messenger notifications, and bug fixes. Pebble owners can update their wearable through the associated Android and iOS apps.
Google today made a collection of designer watch faces available to Android Wear devices. The faces come from designers and brands such as Ted Baker, Melissa Joy Manning, Vivienne Tam, Nicole Miller, Y-3, Mango, Zoe Jordan, Harajuku Kawaii!, and ASICS. Some of the designs feature unique animations. Google said owners of Android smartphones can download the new watch faces beginning today. The new watch faces will reach the iOS Android Wear app in the days ahead.
Skype today released Skype 6.8 for the iPhone and iPad and made it much easier to share with Skype contacts. Using the share tool in iOS, Skype users can now send files, photos, and other content directly to Skype contacts. Skype said users will have to setup Skype as a sharing option in the "more" section of the iOS sharing menu when used for the first time. Skype is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Facebook plans to stop uploading users' photos automatically unless they download and install the Facebook Moments app. Facebook has long offered to sync smartphone photos automatically in order to promote sharing. Moving forward, however, Facebook will only offer this feature through a separate app called Moments. Customers who install Moments will continue to have access to all their uploaded photos. Customers who don't wish to use Moments will be prompted to download their photos to a PC or delete them. Automatic photo syncing will cease January 10. Facebook is already pushing customers to use the Moments app. Moments lets users organize, share, download, or delete photos. It is free to download for Android and iOS.
Google has updated Google Maps for iOS and added several features it gave to the Android app earlier this year. Using the latest Google Maps, travelers can quickly ascertain when restaurants and other places are busiest. This can help people avoid crowds. Maps also now shows real-time gas prices along with nearby gas stations in the U.S. and Canada. Google Maps for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today made it simpler for Inbox users to share the details of upcoming trips. The existing Trip Bundles feature, which packages together various facets of trips (flight details, car rentals, calendar appointments, etc.), can now be shared with others. Inbox also lets people add extra email addresses to existing trips, and allows Trip Bundles to be saved for offline viewing (such as when on a plane). Last, users can now more easily attach photos to their trips. Google said these new features will reach Inbox for Android and iOS this week.
Verizon today said some customers can now stream the content from their DVR to their phone, tablet, or PC no matter where they are. The new feature is available to customers who subscribe to Verizon's FiOS Quantum TV and FiOS Internet service. Together with the new FiOS Mobile app, these customers can stream nearly all the content recorded on their DVR anywhere they have a data connection. The app also lets subscribers stream every subscribed channel and recorded content when at home, access on-demand titles, manage DVR recordings, use their mobile device as a FiOS TV remote, and set/manage parental controls. Verizon says it began testing the feature in some markets last month, but it is available across all markets beginning today. The Verizon FiOS Mobile app is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Google Wallet now lets people send money to others using only a phone number. The app has supported the ability to send money via email for a long time. The new feature is meant to make sure those without email addresses can be paid, too. Recipients receive a text message with a secure link. Following the link, recipients enter their debit card number to claim the cash, which is added to their bank account within minutes. Google said the feature will arrive in an update to the Android and iOS apps over the next few days. Google Wallet is a tool for sending money to others and managing the Google Wallet debit card. It can no longer be used to make retail payments, which are now handled by Android Pay.
Google has updated its Play Movies & TV app for iOS devices and added direct Airplay support for streaming to the Apple TV. Play Movies users have been able to push content to the Apple TV for a while, but it involved a workaround. Now, Airplay is built directly into Play Movies and can stream with the push of a button. Airplay compatibility requires the 3rd-generation Apple TV or newer running OS 7.0 and up. The app also gains the ability to stream content over cellular connections, and the ability to stream in HD. Google Play Movies & TV is free to download from the iTunes App Store, but content generally must be purchased or rented.
Yahoo Mail today gained the ability to manage Gmail and Google Apps accounts. Yahoo relaunched the app in October and made it compatible with AOL, Hotmail, and Outlook. Now it works with Google's email service, too. Yahoo says Gmail users will be able to take advantage of inbox search, smart contacts, and the Yahoo Account Key for password-free sign-ins. Gmail support is available in Yahoo Mail for Android, iOS, and the web globally starting today. Separately, Yahoo Mail for iOS gains support for split-screen multitasking on the iPad and Yahoo Mail for Android brings back the "select all" tool. The app is free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.
Google today made a tool called shared albums available to Google Photos users. Google made sure the tool is easy to use. People simply select the photos they want to share, put them into an album, and then invite people to view the album. Invitees can be given view-only access, or be allowed to contribute their own photos. The albums can be shared with anyone, even those who don't have Google accounts, but only Google account holders can add photos to shared albums. People who participate in shared albums can opt to receive notifications when new photos are added, and albums can be saved to participants' Google Photos libraries. The shared albums feature is available to the Android and iOS mobile apps, as well as on the web.