iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
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.
PayPal has made a version of its mobile application available in the BlackBerry World app store for devices running BlackBerry OS 10.x. With this new app, PayPal is available to Android, BlackBerry, Fire OS, iOS, and Windows smartphones. PayPal for BlackBerry allows owners to send/request money, check balances, see activity, redeem offers, and even check-in to pay at select retailers that accept PayPal. The app works with the Z10 and Q10, as well as newer phones including the BlackBerry Passport and Classic. PayPal for BlackBerry is free to download from BlackBerry World.
HTC today announced the addition of live YouTube streaming to its RE camera. The new feature, available through a software update, will permit users to capture live video and broadcast it directly to YouTube. Users can share the live video link with others via SMS so they can watch the feed remotely. HTC envisions this feature being useful for families who want to share specific events with far-flung members. YouTube will automatically save the streamed video online once the live feed is completed. The video is fed from the RE camera to the smartphone via WiFi Direct, and then to YouTube via the smartphone's data connection. HTC said the updated Android RE camera app will go live in the Play Store on Jan. 9, but won't be available to iOS until later in the first quarter.
Google recently updated its Google Hangouts application for iOS devices and added several useful new features. Most importantly, Hangouts can now display SMS messages and voicemails sent to the user's Google Voice number. Hangouts for iOS now also supports location sharing, status messages, phone number search, and improved video call performance. Google was sure to resolve some ongoing bugs, as well. Hangouts is free to download from the App Store.
Insteon today announced the Insteon App, a comprehensive iOS app that lets you control a wide variety of HomeKit-compatible home automation gear. Via Apple's HomeKit, the app controls gear using the Insteon standard as well as competing standards such as ZigBee and Z-Wave. The app is one of the first complete HomeKit apps to be shown to the public. The app can control lights, door locks, color-changing bulbs, garage door openers, thermostats, and much more. Insteon also unveiled the Insteon Hub, a small $150 box that connects Insteon home automation gear to Apple's HomeKit system. The Hub supports advanced features such rooms, zones, scenes, and schedules. Insteon's proprietary home connectivity standard uses both wireless and power-line communication for improved reliability. Insteon makes its own line of home automation gear, and several other manufacturers support Insteon technology as well.
Under Armour today announced UA Record, a health and fitness app for Android and iOS devices that allows users to monitor and share their fitness data and goals. Smartphone owners can track motion and GPS activity, view analysis from individual workouts (steps, sleep, weight), as well as see a snapshot of overall progress towards specific goals. UA Record lets people invite up to 20 friends to health and fitness challenges, and even allows people to share videos, photos, workout stories, and nutrition guides. As part of the announcement, Under Armour mentioned that third-party hardware makers can support UA Record through the Under Armour Connected Fitness API/SDK platform. HTC is among the first smartphone vendors to voice support for the platform and it said it has a series of UA Record-compatible products in the pipeline, which will debut later this year. Samsung has worked with Under Armour in the past (notably with the Galaxy S5 Sport), but it has yet to say it will adopt UA's Connected Fitness platform. The Android and iOS apps are free to download from the Play Store and App Store, respectively, beginning today.
Yahoo today announced an update to its Mail App for iOS devices an added the ability to automatically track packages. According to Yahoo, users will see their shipments from Amazon, eBay, Zappos, Target, Best Buy, Macys.com, and others under the "Yahoo Today" section of the app, which will display shipping date, item description, and expected arrival. Yahoo Mail users may also tweak what's visible in the Yahoo Today section and can turn on or off headlines from Yahoo News Digest, Sports, Weather, Flickr, and other Yahoo services. Last, Yahoo Mail users can select and follow their favorite sports teams using the same settings tool. Yahoo Mail is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Yahoo said the same features will reach the Android version of Yahoo Mail in the near future.
Google today announced Cast for Audio, a new version of its Chromecast technology that will allow people to cast audio content from their device to properly equipped speakers, receivers, and soundbars. According to Google, compatible audio equipment from Sony, LG, and HEOS by Denon will arrive in the U.S. this spring, with others to follow. The audio equipment will have built-in radios that can receive cast content and/or access it from the web. The initial batch of apps to support Cast for Audio include Deezer, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, NPR One, Pandora, Rdio, and TuneIn Radio. Google says many more are on the way. The technology competes with Apple's AirPlay.
Alcatel believes its Android- and iOS-compatible smartwatch will outgun the competition with a low price point. Here are our initial thoughts.
Alcatel today provided more information about its forthcoming Watch Series and said the wearable is compatible with both Android and iOS. The Watch Series does not run Android Wear, but instead uses a proprietary operating system that Alcatel claims is simpler to use than Android Wear. Users of Android 4.3 devices or iOS 7 devices and newer will be able to download an accompanying app from the Play Store or iTunes App Store, respectively, to interact with the wearable. The device has a built in accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate monitor, altimeter, and e-compass. Alcatel says owners will be able to track fitness (steps taken, distance traveled, etc.) and sleep cycles, as well as manage incoming notifications and even remotely control media. The Watch Series, which comes in several different styles, has a 1.22-inch circle display, Bluetooth 4.0, and a 210mAh battery. The USB charge port is built directly into the end of the strap. Alcatel claims it takes only an hour to charge the watch, which can then run for one to two days per charge. The Alcatel Watch Series goes on sale later this year for $149.
Apple is facing a lawsuit from consumers who feel the company's mobile operating system consumes too high a percentage of the on-board memory. Specifically, the plaintiffs argue, "The discrepancy between advertised and available capacity is substantial and beyond any possible reasonable expectation. For the devices, the shortfall ranges from 18.1% to 23.1%." The lawsuit alleges that Apple hid the size of the iOS8 update from users and then "aggressively marketed" additional cloud storage to those who ran out of storage space on their mobile devices. The issue primarily impacts owners of Apple's 16GB iPhones, iPads, and iPads. The operating system leaves as little as 12.3GB available to consumers on some devices. Further, the lawsuit alleges that Apple falsely advertises the amount of storage available to its devices due to the way the company partitions the drives. Drives in Apple devices have a media partition and a root partition. The lawsuit claims the size of the root partition is unnecessarily large, leaving consumers with an even smaller portion of the drive for their media. Finally, the lawsuit also complains about the iPhone's inability to use swappable memory cards; its incompatibility with file manager programs; and its strict ties to Apple's cloud services. The lawsuit was filed in California on behalf of two Florida residents.
Google recently updated its Google+ app for iOS devices. The latest version of Google+ adds support for the screen sizes and resolutions of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The revised app makes it easier to vote on polls and share a wider range of content/media with Google+. The app also makes several performance improvements and bug fixes. Google+ is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Ticketmaster recently updated its iOS application and added support for Apple Pay. iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners can now authorize ticket purchases using Apple Pay via the Touch ID fingerprint reader. Ticketmaster is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Facebook today gave Messenger users access to new holiday-themed stickers and photo tools. A minor update to Messenger for both Android and iOS devices adds new sticker packs, snow globe chat heads, and a New Year's Eve selfie frame. Facebook is also offering a lightweight app from Creative Labs called Stickered. It lets people add stickers to photos for light-hearted mashups. Stickers for Messenger would reach the Play Store today and the iTunes App Store in the days ahead. Facebook said the update to Messenger also makes some improvement tweaks, including faster performance. Facebook Messenger is free to download from the Play Store and App Store.
Yahoo today pushed out updates to its Weather app for both the Android and iOS platforms. According to Yahoo, the revised app brings with it more live weather graphics, such as fog, rain, heat, snow, lightning, and frost, to the Android app. Yahoo says "instead of reading about the stormy conditions, you'll actually see lightning flash across your screen." The iPhone app has been more fully optimized for the screen sizes and resolutions of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Yahoo Weather is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Facebook today said it has updated the Rooms app for iOS devices to version 1.2. The update claims to make it easier for users to discover new Rooms to join. An 'explore' button lets users scan through Rooms and enter those that appeal them. Rooms are confined spaces that are specific to certain subjects or topics. Facebook hasn't said if or when it will expand Rooms to other platforms.
Google recently updated the Google Drive app for both the Android and iOS platforms. The Android version gains support for Google Now-style voice search to help find files. Both versions gain support for a wider range of imported file formats. The iOS version can now upload files to Drive from more apps across iPhones and iPads. Google Drive is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Instagram today pushed out an update to the Android and iOS versions of its mobile photography application. The app adds five filters, the first new ones to appear in several years. The filters are named Aden, Crema, Ludwig, Perpetua, and Slumber. Beyond the filters themselves, Instagram now allows users to manage the filters. Users can rearrange the order in which the filters appear, as well as hide filters they don't like. Instagram for Android and iOS is free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
Google recently made some significant improvements to its Google Wallet app for the iPhone. To start, the app adds a bill-splitting feature. According to Google, users can add the people with whom they want to split a bill, choose how to divide it, and send each person a request for their share of the total. Wallet for iOS also adds support for Touch ID, which will allow users to open the app and make purchases using their fingerprints. The app now supports the native screen resolutions for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and lets users see their loyalty cards even when offline. Google Wallet for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Opera today announced Coast 4.0, a new version of its browser for the iPhone and iPad. According to Opera, the idea behind the new browser is to make it easier for iOS device owners to find content. For example, it introduces the Discover feature, which helps users find stories and news from all over the internet. It uses Opera Turbo Compression to reduce the size of web pages as they transit networks and deliver them to devices faster. A new sharing button makes it simple to push content in the browser to social networks. Last, the app adds compatibility with iOS 8's continuity tool, which allows Coast users to browse on one device and pick up right where they left off on another device thanks to web session syncing. Opera's Coast 4.0 for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
BlackBerry today made BBM 2.0 available to the Windows Phone platform. The updated app is now more in line with the Android, BlackBerry, and iOS versions of BBM thanks to several new features. For example BBM for Windows Phone now includes timed messages (which expire after they're seen/read) and message retraction (for recalling unread messages). BBM for Windows Phone also added a wide number of stickers for enlivening conversations. BBM 2.0 for Windows Phone is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
BlackBerry today pushed out BBM 2.6 to the Android and iOS platforms, as well as its own BlackBerry platform. All three versions of the app gain new features, including support for stickers within group chats and a 60-second option for time chats. The Android version of BBM tackles Android 5.0 Lollipop and adds landscape mode. BBM for iOS 8 adds compatibility with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus screens. BBM for BlackBerry OS now lets users share multiple pictures and attachments at the same time. BBM 2.6 is free to download from the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store, and BlackBerry World.
Google today updated Google Search for iOS devices. Google refreshed the application with its Material Design language, which has been optimized for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus with bigger photos. As far as new features go, iOS users will be able to see their most recently visited pages more easily, start new searches with a single tap thanks to the new search button, and explore nearby places and points of interest thanks to Google Maps integration. Google Search is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Apple and IBM have followed through on an announcement made earlier this year and delivered a range of mobile applications aimed at large businesses. The IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps rely on IBM's cloud services, which bring data and analytics tools to enterprise users of Apple's iPhone and iPad. Apple and IBM are targeting select verticals first, including banking, retail, insurance, financial services, telecommunications, government, and airlines. The apps are secure, embedded with analytics tools, and have deep hooks into enterprise processes. According to Apple and IBM, the apps can be customized for any type of business, as well as managed and upgraded thanks to IBM's cloud services. The companies said more apps, targeting a wider range of business types, are still under development and will be released in the future.
Microsoft today expanded the availability of its MSN-branded apps beyond Windows Phone, adding them to the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store. The apps, which have evolved on the Windows Phone platform this year, include MSN Food & Drink, MSN Health & Fitness, MSN Money, MSN News, and MSN Sports. These five are available to both Android and iOS today. The MSN Weather app is available to Android today, too, and will be available to iOS soon. Of note, Microsoft said its MSN Health & Fitness app makes use of Apple's HealthKit tools, which will allow iPhone owners to track steps and other fitness goals. Microsoft has targeted Android and iOS aggressively this year with its own applications and services, including MS Office, its core productivity suite, and other utilities such as OneNote and OneDrive. All the apps are free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Nokia today made its HERE Maps product more visible to Android device owners by adding it to the Google Play Store. Nokia has offered HERE Maps to Android devices in beta form since October, but only from its own web site. Until now, people interested the app needed to sideload HERE Maps. Moving forward, HERE Maps is free to download from the Play Store, though it is still in beta form. HERE Maps allows users to download entire countries or regions, which makes the maps available even when the device is offline. HERE Maps for Android devices include free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. Users can plan routes via car, public transport, or foot. Nokia says maps are available for about 200 countries with turn-by-turn directions available in about 100. Transit maps are available in 750 metro areas across 40 different countries, with more being added all the time. Nokia today also said it has updated its here.com web site, which should perform better on mobile devices. Last, Nokia expects to bring the modern version of HERE Maps to iOS in early 2015.
Facebook today said moving forward it will be easier for people to explore stories from different sources because it is bringing its Trending view to mobile devices. Uses who check the Trending tab will see conversations organized in up to five different sections. The 'Articles' view shows how news sites are covering any given story. The 'In the Story' view will reveal content from those participating in the story. The 'Friends and Groups' view reveals what the user's friends are saying about the story. The 'Near the Scene' view shows posts from people near the breaking story. Last, the 'Live Feed' view provides a real-time stream of all reactions to the story. Facebook will continue to rank posts by engagement, activity, and timeliness. According to Facebook, the new Trending tool is available on its mobile web site and within the Android app beginning today. Trending tools will come to iOS in the near future.
Apple today released iOS 8.1.2, a minor update to its mobile operating system for iPhones, iPads, and iPods. According to Apple, the release includes bug fixes and addresses a problem where ringtones purchased through the iTunes Store may have removed them from devices. The update is small, but still requires WiFi to download and install.