iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
BlackBerry today announced the BlackBerry Experience Suite, a package of software that will help businesses manage their Android, iOS, and Windows smartphones and tablets. The suite will take form in three distinct services: Productivity, Communications and Collaboration, and Security. "We want to empower all mobile professionals in order to supercharge their productivity and allow them to work across all their devices in an effortless and secure way," said BlackBerry. BlackBerry plans to sell these three products separately or together to corporations. BlackBerry plans to ship the BlackBerry Experience Suite later this year.
BlackBerry today announced updates to the Android and iOS versions of BBM. Both versions gain access to two new services: no ads and custom PINs. People who'd like to use BBM with no ads can do so for $0.99 per month. People who'd like to generate their own, personal PIN code can do so for $1.99 per month. Android and iOS users will also be able to share photos within BBM group chats. The Android version of BBM adds support for Android Wear, so smartwatch wearers can receive BBM notifications on their wrists. The iOS version of BBM gains support for TouchID, which will allow users to secure their BBM chats with their fingerprint. BBM is free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.
HTC today announced the Grip fitness band in conjunction with Under Armour. The Grip is part of HTC's growing Re series of connected devices. The Grip is a rubber band with a curved white OLED display and GPS for tracking outdoor fitness activity. It links to Under Armour's UA Record app to log and analyze detailed workout data. The Grip also connects to phones to display notifications and control music. It includes a canned text message reply function, configurable from the phone app. The Grip works with both Android and iOS. It is available in three sizes and is rated IP57 for water resistance. It will be available in the U.S. this spring. HTC also announced the Vive, a high-end VR headset. As it must be tethered to a PC, it's HTC's first truly non-mobile product. HTC has partnered with Valve for content for the Vive.
Softcard today indicated that the Windows Phone version of the Softcard mobile payment application will be discontinued. "The Softcard for Windows Phone app will be terminated. A specific termination date will be provided soon," said Softcard in a statement on a new FAQ web site published today. Softcard was developed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Supported devices, including a handful of Windows Phones sold by AT&T and Verizon, can use Softcard to make tap-and-go mobile payments at participating retailers. Google purchased Softcard's assets from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon earlier this week to bolster its own Google Wallet application. The three carriers have agreed to preload Google Wallet on their Android handsets moving forward. Wallet competed with Softcard. Softcard didn't indicate how soon the Windows Phone app will be deactivated. Without it, Windows Phone handsets won't have the same mobile payment options available to Android and iOS devices.
Microsoft today released an API for its cloud-based OneDrive storage service. The API will allow third-party app developers to add OneDrive access and features, such as file retrieval and uploads, to their own applications. The API is compatible with Windows, Android, and iOS devices, in addition to desktop web browsers. Microsoft said it will use the API internally with its own apps to "ensures that everyone is building on the platform with the same set of tools." When Microsoft adds new features to the API, developers will have immediate access to them. Microsoft has spent the last year expanding the availability of its core apps and services across platforms. This is the latest step in its more open strategy.
Pebble today announced the Pebble Time, a new smartwatch that works with Android and iOS smartphones. The Pebble Time jumps from a monochrome display to a color display, but it still delivers seven days of battery life. The e-ink display is always on with no fear of battery drain. In addition to the color screen, the Pebble Time is 20% thinner than previous models, has a built-in microphone for voice dictation, and has a revised user interface. Pebble calls the new user interface Timeline, which can be used to glance at the past, the present, or the future thanks to dedicated buttons for jumping through the Timeline. The device is water resistant, can be used to count steps (with third-party fitness app), and has exchangeable bands. The screen is made from Gorilla Glass and it has a stainless steel bezel. The Pebble Time is being offered in red, black, and white. At the moment, the Pebble Time is a Kickstarter project. Pebble is reserving watches for those who donate to the campaign. The cheapest donation is $159 and the next tier is $179. Pebble has already met its funding goal. The Time is expected to ship in May.
By all accounts, both Apple and Google have bold ambitions in the automotive space. But an Apple or Google Car is many years away. What's available today are CarPlay and Android Auto, both of which take a major new step in integrating your phone with your car. They're remarkably similar, both extending your phone's interface to the touch screen in your dash, but relying mostly on voice interaction for safe use while driving. In the this in-depth hands-on, we take a look at how they work, their striking similarities, and how they differ.
Dan Mead, who has served as the CEO of Verizon Wireless since 2010, plans to retire according to filings the company made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mead will remain on the board of directors and serve as executive vice president and president of strategic initiatives. He'll stay in that role until Verizon Communications finalizes its sale of certain landline and FiOS assets to Frontier Communications. Once that is completed in mid 2016, Mead will retire fully. Mead has been replaced by John Stratton, formerly Verizon's executive vice president and president of Verizon's global enterprise and consumer wireline business. Stratton's new title is executive vice president and president of operations. He'll be in charge of both the wireless and wireline businesses. Both Mead and Stratton report to Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam. AT&T and Sprint have also installed new CEOs in the last six months. Glen Lurie succeeded Ralph de la Vega at AT&T and Marcelo Claure took over for Dan Hesse at Sprint. T-Mobile's John Legere has been serving as CEO since fall 2012.
Microsoft today announced several new features for its Office suite of productivity apps. First and foremost, third-party cloud providers can now integrate their own services into the "locations picker" in the iOS Office apps. This means mobile device users can open, edit, and save their documents to any cloud service. Apple's iCloud is the first to receive this support, so iPhone and iPad users can store their mobile Office documents in iCloud. Microsoft said it plans to bring this feature to the Windows and Android versions of Office soon. Further, Microsoft is making it possible for cloud storage providers to weave Office Online into their own mobile applications. Microsoft's vision here is to let people open, view, and edit their online documents from any browser on any device. Microsoft said Box, Citrix, and Salesforce are already working on this level of integration. Microsoft has dramatically increased the availability of Office to mobile devices in recent months with the hopes that people and businesses will continue to use its productivity suite rather than competing products from Apple and Google.
Apple has increased the maximum size of applications allowed in the iOS App Store from 2 GB to 4 GB. Apple says this should allow developers to "include more media in [their] submission and provide a more complete, rich user experience upon installation." The majority of apps fall well under 100MB in size, but games increasingly need more storage. Developers were getting around the size limitation by requiring additional downloads after the app was installed. Apple hopes the increased size limit will negate the need for developers to side-step its limitations. Apple warns, however, that this doesn't change the maximum size of apps that can be downloaded via cellular networks, which is still 100MB.
Microsoft confirmed via its YouTube channel today that it has acquired a calendar application called Sunrise. The app is available to Android, iOS, and Mac machines and is highly rated by users. Microsoft last year bought an email app called Acompli, which it turned around and released as Outlook for Android and iOS devices. Microsoft said, "Our goal is to create more meaningful, beautiful experiences in mobile email and calendaring across all platforms." Sunrise will "accelerate Microsoft’s path to that future of calendaring." The app will remain available to Android and iOS devices, despite the acquisition. Microsoft didn't reveal terms of the deal.
Microsoft today announced updates to its Android and iOS video messaging applications that simplify sharing. In earlier versions of the app, users needed to save videos to their camera roll before they could be shared outside of Qik. Moving forward, users will be able to record from within Qik and then share to whatever other social networks/services they might have accessible from their phone through the phone's native sharing tool. The update is available today to Android and iOS devices, but not yet to Microsoft's own Windows Phone platform. Microsoft said a new version of Qik for Windows Phone is still several months away.
Facebook today announced forthcoming updates to its Android and iOS messaging applications that will help people buy and sell stuff. Messenger supports For Sale Groups, often run within local communities, that act as newspaper for-sale listings or swap-and-sells. The new tools will allow sellers to add descriptions and photos to their listings, as well as set pricing and pick-up/delivery locations. Sellers will be able to mark items as available or sold, too, all from within the app. Facebook said the new features will arrive in the months ahead.
Skype today quickly followed its new iOS app update with one for Android. Skype 5.2 for the Android platform introduces a handful of new features, most significantly the ability to send photos to others even when they are offline. Previously, both the sender and recipient needed to be signed in to share photos. Now, people can share even if the recipient is offline. Other new features include picture-in-picture view on phones for multitasking, reduced chat loading times, and call quality improvements. Skype 5.2 is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Skype today announced the release of version 5.10 for iOS. The update is significant because to returns support for URIs to the app. The URIs are tools developers can use to tap into the Skype calling and messaging app from within their own app or web site. Without the URIs, developers would need to either create their own dialers and messaging platforms or use the stock services. With URI support, an iPhone Skype user browsing a mobile web site can tap the number on the site which will then launch the Skype app rather than the native phone app. As always, Skype-to-Skype calls are free, but calls to mobile lines or landlines require Skype credit. Skype also made several improvements to its own dialer, which lets users save recent calls to their contact list. Skype 5.10 is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google has acquired an application that lets Android and iOS smartphone owners automatically backup and share their photos. The app, called Odysee, has been withdrawn from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, but it will continue to function for existing users until Feb. 23. After that time, users' photos will become available as downloadable archives. According to Odysee, the app will be folded into Google+. Google already offers a service for backing up and sharing photos via Google+ and the company was mum on its plans for Odysee. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
RadioShack today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and signed an agreement to sell approximately 1,750 of its stores to Sprint. Under the terms of RadioShack's Chapter 11 filing, RadioShack will sell the stores to Sprint and General Wireless, a subsidiary of one of RadioShack's major investors. Moving forward, these stores will be co-branded Sprint and RadioShack, with Sprint being the primary brand. Sprint will own about 30% of the real estate within each store to sell Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile USA products. The remaining 70% will be set aside for RadioShack to sell its own branded gear and other electronics. Sprint did not say what will happen to the AT&T, GoPhone, Net10 Wireless, Verizon Wireless and Tracfone phones that are currently offered by RadioShack. Presumably they will be no longer be sold. Sprint currently has more than 1,100 company-owned retail stores, which would more than double if the transaction is approved. RadioShack listed about $1.2 billion in assets and $1.39 billion in debts. A bankruptcy court will have to approve RadioShack's plans before Sprint can make its purchase official.
iPhone users can now enjoy looping videos in their Instagram feed. The picture-sharing app recently pushed out an update that adds the feature. Instagram may be used more for sharing photos, but the service supports 15-second video clips, too. Now when users encounter a video in their feed it will automatically restart after playing -- much like videos do in the Twitter-owned Vine app. Instagram says the looping videos will not alter how much data the app uses. Instagram for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, hasn't said when the feature might appear on Android.
Microsoft's Garage team recently released a new app for Android handsets called the Picturesque Lock Screen. The lock screen adds Bing's home page images to Android devices. Users can easily change up the image by shaking their phone or swiping side to side. The image changes daily on its own. Picturesque also allows people to search Bing right from the lock screen, view the latest news and weather, see missed calls or messages, and view upcoming calendar appointments. Last, Picturesque includes controls for the camera, phone, and other basic tools, such as WiFi and Bluetooth radios, volume, brightness, and flashlight. Picturesque is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Yahoo today announced a refresh to its iOS application that adds more imagery and content from across its properties. Yahoo says the app is more visually engaging and makes it easier to access articles, polls, and blogs from its digital magazines, such as Yahoo Autos, Yahoo Sports, and others. The app now keeps Yahoo Weather and Yahoo News Digest above all the other digital sections in the news feed. Yahoo for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Facebook today announced a new feature for its iOS application called Places. Using location data, Facebook will begin to post information about nearby places -- restaurants, museums, etc. --- to the top of users' newsfeeds. The tips will appear as cards, which will contain information about the place's location, hours, and web site as well as photos and/or ratings shared by the user's friends. It mimics some of the behaviors of Foursquare. Places relies on cellular, GPS, and WiFi radios to determine location, but Facebook is also testing location placement with Bluetooth-based beacon technology. The feature is optional and users can turn it off any time. Places for Facebook is baked into the iOS application, which is available today. Facebook didn't say when it might add the feature to its Android app.
Microsoft today released an Outlook email application for Android and iOS devices, including smartphones and tablets. The app is based on the code from Acompli, a company Microsoft acquired last year. With Outlook for Android and iOS, users can manage their work and personal email. It supports Office 365, Exchange, Outlook.com, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, and other email services. Users can personalize their experience with customizable swipes and actions. The Outlook email app also offers native calendar integration to make scheduling and managing a calendar easy. Outlook for Android and iOS is free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively. The Android version of Outlook is being offered as a preview for the time being. In other Microsoft news, the company stripped the preview tag from its Office for Android suite of apps. Android tablet owners can now download Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from the Play Store and access a basic set of document creation and editing features with their Microsoft account. Advanced features require an Office 365 subscription.
Microsoft today pushed out a relatively big update to its OneDrive application for iOS devices. Most significantly, OneDrive for iOS allows people to sign into both their personal and business OneDrive accounts, open/organize their business files, and save new files to their business account. The app improves how it handles photos. For example, users can create photo albums that let them view photos in one folder or album without moving the actual image files. It also now supports tags, such as "plant" or "animal" automatically thanks object recognition. OneDrive for iOS also boasts a new design, integration with third-party password managers (1Password, LastPass, etc.), improves search and text recognition, resolves audio playback issues, and addresses several other bugs. OneDrive is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
USA Technologies today said it has added support for Apple Pay to approximately 200,000 of its vending machines. The company has been adding NFC capabilities to its vending machines, including coffee brewers, vending machines, kiosks, laundry equipment, parking pay stations, and other self-serve appliances, for nearly 10 years. USA Technologies' vending machine owner-operators will be able to accept Apple Pay at their machines in addition to cash and/or bank cards. This means owners of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will be able to pay for vending machine and other stand-alone, self-serve retail goods with their phone.
Apple today released iOS 8.1.3 for iPhones, iPads, and the iPod Touch. The primary improvement in the operating system is a reduction in the amount of on-board storage needed to install the system update. (Last fall, some users with 16GB devices were unable to update due to a lack of storage.) The system update also resolves an issue preventing people from entering their passwords for iMessage and FaceTime, fixes a Spotlight bug, and smooths over multi-tasking gestures on the iPad. iOS 8.1.3 can be downloaded and installed over the air.
Twitter will update its mobile applications this week with the ability to embed video clips in posts and to send direct messages to several people at once. Users will be able to record videos from within the Twitter app directly and even piece together multiple segments -- similar to how the Twitter-owned Vine application works. Users can also share 30-second videos from their mobile device camera roll (iOS only, for now). The videos won't playback automatically; instead people will need to click on them to watch. Group direct messages will allow groups of up to 20 people to hold private conversations. Users will be able to invite anyone who follows them to the conversation, even if other participants don't follow that person and vice versa. The features are meant to help Twitter compete better against Facebook, which has boosted its use of video, and myriad messaging apps that are popular on smartphones. The new features will hit the iOS Android applications in the days ahead. Twitter is free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.
Chase has removed its mobile banking application from the Windows Phone Store. The company recently notified users that its app would be pulled and eventually shut down. Today the company followed through. Chase customers who've already downloaded the app to their Windows Phone will be able to use Chase Mobile until March 22, after which it will no longer be supported for account access. Chase based its decision on the lack of users. Chase still offers mobile banking apps to the Android and iOS platforms. JPMorgan Chase is the largest bank in the U.S.
Twitter has added a feature to its Android and iOS mobile apps, as well as Twitter.com and TweetDeck, that will let users translate foreign-language tweets. Microsoft's Bing Translator is providing the machine-based translations. In order to see translated Tweets, users need to turn the feature on in their online account settings. Once enabled, a globe icon will appear with foreign-language tweets. Users can click the globe and see both the translation and the original text. Twitter said Bing Translator can work with 40 different languages, though it warned the system is not perfect. Tweet Translator is available immediately.
Twitter has packaged a new feature into its iOS application that aims to catch people up on what they might have missed on Twitter while away. Twitter said it will surface some of the best tweets based on engagement and other factors. The recaps will be under a header "While You Were Away" so users will know they're not current tweets. Twitter said people who use Twitter a lot won't see the recaps that often, but occasional users will see it more often. Twitter's updated iOS app is available for download from the iTunes App Store. Twitter said the feature will reach Android devices and Twitter.com soon.
Dropbox has released an app for the Windows Phone platform for the first time. The app gives Windows Phone owners 2GB of free cloud storage for saving documents, files, and photos. Users can easily share their files by sending a link to others. Dropbox competes with Microsoft's own OneDrive. Users can pay to upgrade their storage to higher amounts, but the base app is free. Dropbox is already available to Android, iOS, and desktop platforms.
Spotify today rolled out a minor update to its iOS application and added a new way to preview playlists. With Touch Preview, users can preview any playlist, song, album, or artist by holding their finger on the screen. The hold gesture will automatically start a preview of the selected playlist/artist. Swiping during a preview will save the song for later and a tap will play the entire track. Spotify said the new iOS app is available today, and it will add Touch Preview to other platforms at some point in the future.
Twitter today expanded the availability of its Digits sign-in service to the web. Digits, which was made available to Android and iOS apps last fall, lets people use a mobile apps' phone-based login to access the web site associated with the app rather than requiring people to use an email address and password, or social networking credentials. When people log in on the web for the first time, they'll receive a confirmation code via SMS on their phones, which they type into the web window. After that, users won't need to log in again. According to Twitter, developers can add Digits to their web sites (or mobile apps) with just a few lines of code. Digits is not associated with Twitter's main product, but Twitter believes it is a more user-friendly way for smartphone users to sign into apps and now web sites.
Google today pushed out updates to its suite of mobile productivity apps for both the Android and iOS platforms. The Android version of Docs, Sheets, and Slides gains offline printing, easier file creation, and improved context menus for accessibility, in addition to bug fixes. More specifically, Docs gets line spacing controls, Sheets gets scrollbars for easier navigation, and Slides gets shape manipulation. The iOS version of Docs, Sheets, and Slides gains support for Touch ID for protecting documents. More specifically, Docs gains live spellcheck, Sheets lets users hide/show rows and columns, and Slides allows users to group objects together. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.
WhatsApp today made it possible for people to send messages from their Chrome browser in addition to their mobile device. The Chrome-based service is compatible with Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone devices, but not iOS due to "platform limitations." In order to launch the web-based functionality, users need to scan a QR code from within the WhatsApp application on their handset. They are then able to unlock the Chrome-based desktop client, where they'll be able to message their WhatsApp contacts.
Google today delivered a new version of Chrome to iOS devices. The latest rendition of Google's browser for iPhones and iPads carries over Material Design from the Android version and builds in better support for iOS8 and the larger screen sizes of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Chrome for iOS now also includes support for handoff from Chrome to users' default desktop browser. Chrome is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Facebook plans to add voice-to-text transcription to its Facebook Messenger application, said David Marcus, Facebook's vice president of messaging products. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Marcus said the company is already testing the system using machine-to-machine learning, though he declined to say when the feature might be added to the app. Facebook expects the feature to be popular across Asia and other regions where typing various languages on mobile devices is more of a chore. Apple, Google, and Microsoft already provide their own voice-to-text services, which are built into the iOS, Android, and Windows Phone operating systems, respectively. Marcus didn't say how Facebook's transcription service will differ from what's already available to consumers. Marcus said 500 million people use Messenger monthly and it hopes to grow that number to 1 billion. Marcus indicated Facebook is exploring ways to monetize Messenger, but the company wants to avoid advertising. Facebook also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, which have 700 million and 300 million monthly users, respectively. Facebook said it will monetize Messenger before WhatsApp. Facebook has an "ambitious" roadmap for Messenger, and will add other features over the course of the year.
Google recently updated its Maps application for both the Android and iOS platforms. The new version of Maps allows people to filter search results by cuisine, see current weather information for cities around the world, drop pins within navigation routes, and add transit directions directly to the calendar. Maps also gains some bug fixes. Google Maps is free to download from the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store.
Google today announced updates to its Android and iOS Translate apps that make having real-time conversations between two different languages much easier. First, Google Translate now lets users instantly translate text using the camera. When the camera is pointed at signs or text in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, or Spanish, it will instantly overlay the words in English (and vice versa). Previously, users had to take a picture to get text translation. Now translation occurs in real time. Further, Google has improved the performance of its real-time conversation mode, which allows two people to speak directly to one another using different languages. The app can recognize when two different languages are being spoken and translate them back and forth during a face-to-face conversation. Google said the new versions of Google Translate for Android and iOS should arrive in the next few days. Google pointed out that this is the first time it has offered some of the advanced features -- camera and spoken translation -- to the iOS app. Google Translate is free.
AllCast recently brought its media-sharing app to the iTunes App Store. AllCast lets iOS device owners cast content from their camera roll, Google Drive (Google+, Picasa), or DropBox on their iPhone or iPad to an AppleTV, Chromecast, FireTV, Roku, or Xbox. AllCast also supports music casting, though the files must be stored locally on the iPhone or iPad. AllCast duplicates some of the features of Apple's own AirPlay. AllCast is free to download from the iTunes App Store. AllCast is already available to Android devices.
Google today published a version of its Chrome Remote Desktop application on the App Store for iOS devices. The app allows iPhone and iPad owners to remotely access their home computers. It requires users to download and install an extension in the Chrome browser on their PC. Together the app and the extension permit people to control their connected desktops and laptops from afar. Chrome Remote Desktop is free to download from the iTunes App Store.