iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Facebook today said users of its Messenger application will soon be able to make free video calls to one another. The feature can be initiated with a single button and works over LTE 4G or WiFi. Video calls can be connected between Android and iOS devices with no problem. Facebook's Messenger app is already able to connect voice calls. The addition of video calls makes Messenger a more complete competitor with the likes of Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangouts. Video calls will be available to the Android and iOS versions of Messenger in the days ahead. The feature is launching in select countries, including Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Laos, Lithuania, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, the U.K., the U.S., and Uruguay. Facebook said the feature will reach other regions and locales over the coming months.
Instagram today updated its Android and iOS apps with several new filters and support for emoji hashtags. The new filters are called Lark, Reyes, and Juno and join five filters Instagram added in December. According to Instagram, Lark desaturates reds and enhances blues and greens to improve landscapes. Reyes goes for vintage style photos, and Juno adds green tinting that Instagram says improves photos of people. The photo-sharing social network also said its app now supports emoji hashtags for adding more means of self expression. Instagram said its Android and iOS apps should be available from the Play Store and iTunes App Store in the days ahead.
Microsoft today updated its Outlook for Android app and says the email program has graduated from preview status. Today's update marks the app's full release. According to Microsoft, it has updated Outlook for Android 17 times since the preview first launched in January. During that time it has: improved the look and feel of the app; added support for IMAP; improved the People (contacts) section; added a Directory Search tool; introduced a three-day view in the calendar; and bestowed the app with a handful of gestures for navigating between emails and folders. Microsoft says Outlook for Android is on even footing with its Outlook for iOS application, which it made available earlier this year. Outlook for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
WhatsApp is rolling out voice calling to its iPhone application beginning today. The feature launched on the Android platform last month. With the feature on board the iOS app, WhatsApp users will be able to chat with and make voice calls to their WhatsApp contacts. WhatsApp calls use your the iPhone data connection rather than voice minutes. WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which has already added calling features to Facebook Messenger. WhatsApp voice calling isn't available to the iPad tablet. The update is rolling out over the next few weeks.
Google has made changes to its YouTube application that breaks compatibility with certain devices. Specifically, Google updated the YouTube Data API so it can incorporate new features. The changes in the API make YouTube non-functional on iPhones from 2012 and earlier, as well as video-based hardware, such as the Apple TV, versions 1 and 2 of Google TV, and select smart TVs dating earlier than 2013. According to Google, iPhone owners running iOS 7 and up should not experience any trouble. If they do, downloading the current version of the app should resolve any problems. People who own newer versions of the Apple TV, newer smart TVs, and the Nexus Player,should have no trouble using YouTube. The change went into effect April 20.
Twitter today revealed adjustments to the Direct Message function of its service that will expand the ability for people to talk to one another in private. Moving forward, any user will be able to DM their followers. Users can opt to receive private messages from any Twitter user, regardless of who follows who, if they wish. Twitter now has broader support for group messaging, as well. Twitter said forthcoming updates to the Android and iOS apps will enable this feature, as well as make it easier to DM others with a dedicated button in user profiles. Twitter is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively. The changes reflect the competitive and critical nature of mobile messaging.
Google today updated its Chrome browser for the iOS platform. Three gestures are the chief new feature. According to Google, users can now pull straight down to reload any web site, pull down and to the left to open a new tab, and pull down and right to close a tab. The browser also lets iOS 8 users add Chrome to the Today View, which makes it possible to open a new tab from the notification panel. The app adds auto-suggestions when typing searches in the address bar, and now supports third-party password managers for saving usernames and passwords. Chrome for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google recently rolled out updates to its productivity suite of applications. Google Drive for Android now allows users to share files/photos directly from the notification panel once the file is finished uploading. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for Android and iOS were also given new powers, such as the ability to accept, reject, or comment on suggestions in Docs. Docs also makes reviewing and acting on comments/suggestions easier from mobile devices, and includes the ability to track changes across document versions. The Docs app for iOS now allows users to edit tables. The Sheets app lets people move, resize, and delete charts, as well as reorder objects. Last, the Slides app is more compatible with PowerPoint files from Microsoft, and they should load quicker and scroll faster. Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides are free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store. Google said the updates will arrive over the next few days.
Cyanogen today said it has partnered with Microsoft to bring the latter's productivity apps to Cyanogen's operating system. Microsoft will create native integrations on Cyanogen OS. Cyanogen expects to include Microsoft's Bing, Skype, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, and Microsoft Office apps in a future version of the operating system. Cyanogen is looking to separate its version of Android, based on AOSP, away from Google's version of Android. Cyanogen needs a partnership like this one to make sure Cyanogen OS users have a full set of on-board productivity tools. Cyanogen didn't say how soon the integration might be completed. Microsoft has made an aggressive push to get its apps onto as many mobile platforms as possible. It already offers free versions of Office, Outlook, OneDrive, and others to the Android and iOS platforms.
Meerkat is preparing to launch on the Android platform and hopes people will be willing to test a beta version of the app before its general release. The company posted a sign-up web site so those interested can register for the beta. Meerkat didn't say when the beta app will actually become available. Meerkat, which is already available for iOS, allows Twitter users to stream live video to followers. Twitter's own Periscope app, also iOs only, does the same thing.
Nokia today said it has agreed to acquire Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion. The combined companies would be a giant in the telecom equipment space with more than 100,000 employees. The terms of the deal will see Nokia acquire all of Alcatel-Lucent's stock, as traded in both France and the U.S. The companies' boards of directors have approved the deal, though shareholders have yet to vote on the acquisition. The deal will also require regulatory approval. The companies expect the deal to close during the first half of 2016. Once combined, the companies will streamline redundant operations, but believe the 40,000 research and development at its disposal employees will be able to make the company a world leader in the connected IP space. Nokia-Alcatel-Lucent will specifically target the development of 5G wireless networks. The largest competitors remaining are Ericsson and Huawei, though ZTE, Samsung, and others make telecommunications equipment, too. In addition to announcing the Alcatel-Lucent deal, Nokia said it has begun a review of strategic options for its HERE Maps business. Nokia acquired Navteq's mapping business in 2007 and turned it into a competitive global company. Nokia's HERE Maps are available to the Android, iOS, and Windows Phone platforms, as well as online, and provide robust driving, walking, and transit directions. Nokia said its review of HERE Maps may or may not result in a transaction.
Apple recently made iOS 8.4 available to developers in beta form and the new system software revealed a handful of changes to the music player. First and foremost, the music application has been refreshed a bit to more closely match the visual experience offered by Apple's iTunes desktop application. New tabs along the bottom of the screen let users quickly switch between tracks, playlists, and iTunes Radio. The app also makes it easier to adjust playlists and song queues on the fly, and the refreshed music playback user interface puts a higher priority on album artwork. In iOS 8.4 beta Apple has finally pulled audiobooks out of the music application and added them to the iBook application. iBooks itself has a refreshed player and makes sorting between audiobooks and iBook purchases simple. Google's Android platform can play audiobooks in the Play Music app, most simple MP3 apps, and third-party reader apps, such as Audible. Apple only recently released iOS 8.3 to the general public. There's no telling when 8.4 will go live for all users.
Sprint said it will re-open 1,435 RadioShack stores tomorrow that it acquired from General Wireless. The move will double the number of company-owned stores and give Sprint a much wider retail footprint around the country. The stores will be co-branded Sprint-RadioShack, but Sprint will be the main brand associated with each location. Sprint plans to build a store-within-a-store covering approximately one third of the retail space in each location. It will use this space to sell Sprint-, Virgin-, and Boost-branded hardware and service plans. Sprint said RadioShack's products and accessories will also be available at each location. General Wireless is holding into about 310 RadioShack stores. Sprint acquired the stores as part of RadioShack's bankruptcy restructuring.
Twitter has canned the Discover and Activity tabs in its mobile applications in favor of a new way to sift through trending content. Moving forward, when people use the search bar they'll also see trending stories as well as descriptions of those stories. Twitter believes this will make it easier to find popular content that's getting a lot of traction on the social network. The change applies to the Android and iOS mobile applications. Twitter said it is experimenting with this feature on the web, but hasn't yet implemented the change online. Twitter recently updated both its Android and iOS apps, and the changes are reflected in those apps beginning today.
Apple today made iOS 8.3 available to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The update adds several new features to Apple's mobile devices, including more than 300 new emoji and an updated keyboard for using the emoji to personalize messages. The update adds the ability to filter incoming messages to help sort out junk. Siri gains the ability to speak Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish in iOS 8.3, and can now initiate phone calls via the speakerphone when requested. iOS 8.3 was released as a public beta earlier this year. The update is free to download. Apple also released OS X 10.10.3, which, among other things, adds Apple's new Photos application. The Photos app on Apple's Mac computers now mirrors the version on iOS devices. Apple is offering users a handful of cloud storage options for managing images stored in Photos, which can be accessed from Macs, smartphones, and tablets. OS X 10.10.3 is also free to download from Apple.
Instagram today said several new editing options will soon be available in its Android and iOS applications. According to Instagram, the Color tool lets people add colors/tints to highlights in their photos. The app will have yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, cyan, blue, and green hues for giving photos some extra punch. The Fade tool lets users soften colors a bit to adjust the tone. The updated Android app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store today. Instagram said the updated iOS app will be available in a few days.
Microsoft today released versions of its Office Lens application for Android and iOS devices. Office Lens uses the device's camera to capture receipts, business cards, menus, whiteboards, sticky notes, and other documents and save them to OneNote. The tool is able to adjust automatically for crooked or angled images, and can recognize text thanks to optical character recognition. Users can convert images of paper documents into Word, PowerPoint, or PDF files; automatically populate their contact lists with scans of business cards; as well as search, save, export, or share the images. Microsoft is making Office Lens available to Android and iOS devices as a preview. The app is free.
Skype today pushed out significant improvements to its Android, iOS, and Qik mobile applications. The Android version of Skype gains new bubble-style conversations similar to the iPhone, as well as access to an expanded range of animated emoji. The Android app will no longer auto-scroll to the latest message as new ones come in; allows users to change and view avatars for group chats; and forces users to re-enter their password if they actively sign out of the app. The iOS version of Skype now supports more languages, including Croatian, Slovak, Catalan, Vietnamese, Thai, Hindi, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Malay, Turkish, and Estonian. Skype's Qik app for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone now supports multiple effects at once. The Android and iOS Qik apps now let people access these features by touching the magic wand, but the Windows Phone version uses a viewfinder to cycle through the different effects. Skype for Android and iOS, and Qik for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone are free to download from the platforms' respective app stores.
Microsoft delivered a new version of its Outlook email application to the Android and iOS platforms this week. Both versions of the app see plenty of bug fixes and stability improvements. The Android version of the app gains a new agenda widget and the iOS version gains an entirely new calendar event screen. Outlook is free to download and is compatible with a wide range of email services, including Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Outlook.com (Hotmail, MSN), Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and iCloud.
Yahoo today pushed out an update to its Android application that brings it inline with the iOS app, which it refreshed in January. The Android Yahoo app is now more visually engaging and makes it easier to access articles, polls, and blogs from Yahoo's digital magazines, such as Yahoo Autos, Yahoo Sports, and others. The app also now keeps Yahoo Weather and Yahoo News Digest above all the other digital sections in the news feed. Yahoo for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Alcatel OneTouch today made its smartwatch available for preorder through its web site. The watch, announced earlier this year, runs a proprietary operating system and is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. The wearable can track workouts and heartrate, notify users to incoming calls/messages, and control music playback. Users can take advantage of a wrist-shaking gesture to launch their smartphone's camera, if they wish. The watch will initially ship with a black band, but other colors will become available later this year. The Alcatel OneTouch Watch costs $149.99. Alcatel didn't specify when the watch will ship.
Google today said it is giving people more options for organizing their photos and videos online. Moving forward, all the photos and videos users have stored in Google+ will be accessible from Google Drive. This change applies to the Android and iOS apps, as well as the web. Google believes adding photos/videos to drive will help people organize them more easily alongside their other files. Even so, Google+ Photos will continue to operate separately, where people can store, edit, and share their pictures. Google said Drive users should see their photos begin to appear automatically over the next few weeks.
Sony today followed through on an announcement made in January concerning Sony Music Unlimited and Spotify. Sony Music Unlimited has gone offline in all 19 countries where it was offered. The service, which cost $10 per month, let Xperia device and PlayStation owners stream songs and playlists. Sony partnered with Spotify, which is officially taking Music Unlimited's place across Sony's devices. Spotify gives Sony hardware owners access to 30 million songs and 1.5 billion playlists. PlayStation owners will be able to create and listen to playlists when playing games, as well as listen to music on-demand whenever they wish. Spotify replaces Sony's Music Unlimited service on Xperia smartphones and tablets, too, but it isn't yet available. Sony said it should be ready for mobile devices soon. Spotify is already available to Android and iOS devices from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
Vine today announced new support for higher-resolution video. Since launch, the video-sharing service has uploaded videos with a maximum resolution of 480p. An update to its mobile application will record and upload videos in 720p HD. The update will hit the iOS version of Vine in the coming days, with the Android version to follow at some point down the road. Vine is owned by Twitter and lets people record 6-second videos that are then played back in loops. Earlier this week, Twitter released an app called Periscope, which lets people broadcast live video from their smartphones.
Vine has updated is app for iOS devices with some features that make the app faster. Vine created a new video file size that's much smaller and can be downloaded quicker. This allows Vine to preload users' home feed, activity notifications, and Vines in the Explore section before the app is opened so users can enjoy the app even when offline. Vine is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Vine said similar changes will reach its Android app soon.
Nokia recently announced a moderate improvement to HERE Transit Maps for Android and iOS devices. Nokia focused its efforts on adding more timetables and routes to public transportation schedules. In North America, Nokia HERE Transit Maps now includes directions for Fredericton (New Brunswick, Canada), as well as 19 cities in the U.S. including Orlando, Detroit, and Raleigh. Nokia also made improvements to the suburbs around New York, including Sussex County in New Jersey. A smattering of other cities around the globe have updated transit schedules, too, including Rennes and Marseille in France; Granada, Huesca, and Ávila in Spain; Trento, Brescia, Mantua, and Verona in Italy; and many others. Android and iOS device owners don't need to update their apps in order to access the improved transit directions. Nokia HERE Maps is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Facebook today introduced a way for people to send money to one another through its Messenger application. Users will need to add a Visa or MasterCard debit to their Facebook account, after which they'll be able to send money to friends or family. According to Facebook, payments are processed immediately on the sending side, but may take a day or two to process on the receiving side depending on individual bank policies. Sending money is free of transaction charges. Facebook says users can set up PINs to protect the service, and Apple device owners will be able to use TouchID to secure it. Sending money is possible from the Android, iOS, and web versions of Messenger.
Opera Software today made an updated version of its Coast browser available to Apple's iOS devices, including the iPhone. The primary new feature is Opera's video boost technology, which uses Opera's Rocket Optimizer engine to smooth out video playback. Users will have to turn the feature on, which is under the Opera Turbo setting. Opera makes use of compression technologies to deliver web sites and the video contained therein faster and more efficiently to devices over mobile networks. The browser also added sharing support for Pinterest, Evernote, Pocket, and Kik. Coast 4.1 is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft is preparing to make its Cortana personal assistant software available as a stand-alone application to the Android and iOS platforms later this year, reports Reuters. Microsoft is already developing an improved version of Cortana for its forthcoming Windows 10 desktop, tablet, and phone operating system, expected this fall. Microsoft is culling research from an artificial intelligence project called Einstein to improve Cortana's predictive and conversational abilities. "This kind of technology, which can read and understand email, will play a central role in the next roll out of Cortana, which we are working on now for the fall time frame," said Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research, in an interview with Reuters. Microsoft believes Cortana's abilities can surpass those of its rivals, Google Now on Android phones and Siri on iPhones. "We're defining the competitive landscape of who can provide the most supportive services that make life easier, keep track of things, that complement human memory in a way that helps us get things done," said Horvitz. Microsoft envisions Cortana becoming more capable with respect to helping users by anticipating their needs. Google and Apple have taken similar steps with Google Now and Siri, respectively. Google Now is adept at providing just-in-time reminders and details in the form of cards, but Siri is more limited to responding to direct requests. Horvitz did not confirm Microsoft's intent to bring Cortana to Android and iOS, but Reuters says people familiar with Microsoft's plans are certain it will appear after Windows 10's debut later this year. Microsoft has made an aggressive push over the last year to port key applications to the Android and iOS platforms, such as Microsoft Office. Bringing Cortana to Android and iOS would fit in with the pattern of Microsoft's behavior.
Apple today made a beta version of iOS 8.3 available to both developers and consumers who are interested in testing the pre-release operating system. Developers have always had early access to beta versions of iOS, but this marks the first time Apple has expanded betas to the public. Apple made the last two versions of its desktop operating system, OS X, available as betas before general release, and this new iOS beta program appears to be following in those footsteps. Consumers interested in testing iOS 8.3 will need to register for the beta program, though it doesn't appear that Apple is letting just everyone test iOS 8.3. Apple is inviting select participants of the beta program to test iOS 8.3, so it isn't available to simply anyone. At the moment, the only known new features of iOS 8.3 are filters for managing Apple's messaging application.
Nokia today made its HERE Maps application available to the Apple iPhone via the iTunes App Store. Nokia has offered the same HERE Maps to Android devices since December. Nokia had made a version of HERE Maps available to the iPhone back in 2013, but pulled the app due to its poor performance. The new HERE Maps app for iOS allows users to download entire countries or regions, which makes the maps available even when the device is offline. This can help save data charges when roaming. HERE Maps for iOS devices include free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. Users can plan routes via car, public transport, or foot. Nokia says maps for iOS are available for about 190 countries with turn-by-turn directions available in about 100. Transit maps are available in 950 metro areas across 50 different countries, with more being added all the time. Nokia HERE Maps is free to download.
Google today released a version of its calendar application for iOS devices. The app includes features such as Assists to help schedule regularly-occurring meetings, as well as Schedule View to make it easier to glean daily schedule details in a glance. The app integrates with Google Apps for Work, too, so companies can manage the app if need be. Google Calendar for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Opera today announced that its desktop and mobile browsers can now sync bookmarks across platforms. Bookmark syncing is available in the Opera desktop browser, as well as Opera Mini for iOS and Opera for Android. Users of PCs, smartphones, and tablets can choose to sync their browsers across various devices, though the feature requires users to create and sign in to an Opera account. Opera's browsers are free to download form the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.
Apple today revealed more details about the Apple Watch and its compatibility with Apple devices. Specifically, the Apple Watch requires iOS 8.2, which is available to the iPhone beginning today. The new operating system from Apple includes a specific app for managing and controlling the Apple Watch, which goes on sale next month. The Apple Watch can run apps and be used to manage notifications, make calls, send and receive emails or messages, control music playback, and much more. The Apple Watch Sport edition starts at $349 for the 38mm size and $399 for the 42mm size. The Apple Watch edition, with a stainless steel face and various bands, ranges between $549 and $1,049 for the 38mm size and the from $599 to $1,099 for the 42mm size. The Apple Watch Edition, which is made from gold, starts at $10,000. Preorders begin April 10, with the device reaching select stores and markets April 24. Apple didn't detail what bug fixes are included in iOS 8.2
Google has pushed out a minor update to its Gmail application for iPhones and iPads that allows people to reply to or archive emails directly from incoming notifications on the lock screen. When pressed on the lock screen, the new reply button opens a response in the Gmail application, which reduces steps and saves time. Gmail now also allows users to share media content (photos, videos) from other apps directly to new messages in Gmail. Gmail is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
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.