iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Apple today made available the public build of iOS 10.2.1 to the iPhone and iPad. According to Apple, iOS 10.2.1 fixes bugs and improves the security of its smartphones and tablets. Apple recommends all users install the update. Apple also released watchOS 3.1.3, tvOS 10.1.1, and macOS Sierra 10.12.3. These releases all resolve small problems and improve performance.
Google today introduced a wholly new version of Google Voice for Android, iOS, and the web. The calling, voicemail, and messaging platform has been overhauled from the ground up with a new design, new features, and a fresh commitment from Google to keep the service updated. Google Voice now includes separate tabs to help people manage text messages, calls, and voicemails. Conversations with individual contacts are threaded to improve ease-of-use. Google Voice adds support for group messaging and photo MMS, features long absent from the previous version of Google Voice. These go a long way toward allowing the service to act as a primary messaging application. Google says it is working with mobile network operators to add support for RCS to the service down the road. People who prefer to use Google Hangouts for their messaging services will need to choose either Hangouts or Voice, as only one can be used at a time; moreover, Voice will not migrate conversation threads from Hangouts into Voice. Existing features, such as voicemail transcription, remain intact, and Voice gains new spam filtering tools to keep pesky messages out of your inbox. Google says it is rolling out the new Google Voice in stages. Android devices will receive it first, with iOS to follow. Google expects all users to have access to the new Google Voice within a few weeks.
Apple has filed a lawsuit against partner Qualcomm, alleging the mobile chipmaker used its monopoly power to push for "onerous, unreasonable and costly" licensing terms. Moreover, Apple says Qualcomm prevented it from seeking chips from other suppliers between 2011 and 2016. Apple uses Qualcomm's baseband chips in the iPhone and iPad. Apple is seeking $1 billion in rebate payments that it says Qualcomm has withheld since Apple met with Korea's fair trade regulatory body last year. Apple's lawsuit arrives just days after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission sued Qualcomm over what it called aggressive and unfair business practices. The government, in particular, said Qualcomm had taken advantage of Apple and others with its licensing terms. Qualcomm denied the allegations. "While we are still in the process of reviewing the complaint in detail, it is quite clear that Apple's claims are baseless. Apple has intentionally mischaracterized our agreements and negotiations, as well as the enormity and value of the technology we have invented, contributed and shared with all mobile device makers through our licensing program," said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel, Qualcomm. In addition to the FTC complaint, Qualcomm was recently sued by the Korean government over similar claims.
Google today warned that it intends to shut down old versions of Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides for Android and iOS devices. On April 3, Google will shutter Drive version 2.4.311 and Docs, Sheets, and Slides versions 1.6.292 for Android devices. Similarly, it will can Drive version 4.16 and Docs, Sheets, and Slides versions 1.2016.12204 for iOS devices. Google says people still using these legacy versions of its core productivity apps will be prompted to update them beginning March 1 and all functionality will cease a month later. Google said the change won't impact the web/desktop variants of these apps. The search giant encourages users to update to the latest versions of these apps as soon as possible.
Apple today announced a major update to GarageBand, its music creating and recording app for iOS devices. Chiefly, GarageBand now includes the Alchemy synthesizer, which adds more than 150 new patches from Apple that span myriad styles like pop, rock, EDM, and hip hop. Apple says Alchemy's on-screen tools let musicians merge up to eight patches at a time to create their own, unique sounds. GarageBand includes a new sound browser, too, which should make it easier to find Apple's Touch Instruments. A multi-take recording tool makes it possible for people to record several takes and then compare them to see which is best. Last, the audio recorder has been redesigned with one-tap vocal effects, such as pitch correction, distortion, and delay. Singers can take advantage of visual equalizers to fine-tune their sound, as well as use third-party plugins for even more vocal sound options. GarageBand is free for most modern iPhone and iPad owners.
Google today improved its Google+ community space with several new tools. First, Google+ now lets users hide "low-quality" comments. When turned on, a filter will weed out comments that don't benefit or adhere to the post or conversation at hand. Second, Google+ makes improvements to the photo experience. Google says less white space built around the app means images will fill more of the screen on smartphones. Moreover, a zooming tool lets people explore photos close up. Last, Google+ brings back the Events tool, which lets users schedule and attend online events. Google says the revised Google+ will reach Android and iOS devices in the days ahead.
Snapchat is prepared to make its mobile app much easier to use with the addition of a universal search tool. The tool, reports TechCrunch, will always be accessible at the top of the screen and will let people quickly find friends, groups, publishers, and stories. The search bar uses a new visual style and offers suggestions for Quick Chats that allow users to find friends' message threads and/or stories in a blink. Other new tools include the ability to quickly jump to your own profile as well as add to the general Our Story slideshow that's accessible/viewable to all users. Snapchat is testing the new search tool with a limited number of Android users, but expects to roll it out to all Android and iOS users soon.
An on-going lawsuit accusing Apple of holding a monopoly on the market for iPhone apps has been given new life today thanks to an appeals court ruling. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Apple's sole distribution method of mobile apps for the iPhone may be anticompetitive. The original lawsuit was filed in 2012. It charged that Apple's policy of allowing only apps distributed via the app store onto iPhones violates federal law. Apple's legal argument centered on the idea that the App Store serves only as a platform for end users to buy apps from developers, the iPhone maker sees the App Store as shelf space that is rented out by app writers. However, app developers pay a 30% portion of revenues for the ability to sell via the App Store. Moreover, people pay Apple directly for apps via iTunes; they do not pay developers. Initial rulings in the case sided with Apple, but today's decision reversed lower courts, as iPhone owners cannot buy or install apps via any method other than the App Store, lest they jailbreak (or hack) their device. Apple maintains that this policy protects end user security, but a collection of iPhone owners contend it leads to less competition and higher pricing for mobile apps. It's not clear what the next steps in the case are, nor where they may lead.
Apple today released iOS 10.2.1 Beta 4 to public testers. Apple has not said much about this minor update to iOS, but it is believed to resolve bugs and performance issues throughout the mobile operating system. Apple released a developer beta build of iOS 10.2.1 earlier this week.
Google today made it easier to hail rides from more car services within Google Maps. The new ride services mode now shows a map with a carousel of car providers that are nearby. Users can select their preferred service (Uber, Lyft) and see what options and promotions are available. Moreover, Maps will let people book, complete, and pay for an Uber ride without ever leaving the Google Maps app thanks to new integration with Uber's API. Uber users can sign into their account or create a new one within Google Maps and then book rides, track drivers, and connect via message — even if Uber is not installed on the device in question. The app also allows people to examine menus, hours, and other details about destinations while en route. Google says the new ride tools will be available over the next few days via Google Maps for Android and iOS.
Apple today made a slew of betas available for its core operating systems. iOS 10.2.1 beta 3 is the most important for developers as Apple prepares the next minor update to its platform. watchOS 3.1.3 beta 2 is also available, as is tvOS 10.1.1 beta 2, and macOS Sierra 10.12.3 beta 3. Apple didn't spell out any specific changes in this round of betas, which are believed to focus on bugs fixes and performance improvements. Public testers can expect to see updated betas for their devices in a day or so.
Samsung has followed through on a promise it made last year and made the Gear S2, S3 and Gear Fit2 compatible with iOS. iPhone owners can download the Gear S app to use with their Samsung-branded wearable. Samsung says the exact Gear S features available to iOS phones will vary a bit by device, but all users can expect to use the GPS, speedometer, and other sensor for tracking workouts and monitor fitness. Fitness tools include distance and route traveled, pace, calories, and heart rate. The Samsung Gear S application is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Garmin this week announced its inReach series of satellite communicators. These standalone handheld devices can also be paired with any Android, iOS or Windows 10 smartphone to provide satellite-based text messaging and GPS mapping on your phone even where there is no cellular coverage. The devices use Iridium's global satellite network for messaging, letting the devices send and receive text messages with any cell phone number, email address or another inReach device. Users can set up the devices to provide regular location updates to a mapping portal, so friends and family can follow the progress of an expedition. An SOS function can let first responders and family know when you're in trouble and exactly where to find you. The base model inReach SE+ will sell for $400, while the inReach Explorer+ adds TOPO maps, compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer for an extra $50. Both models will be available later this quarter.
Apple has released new beta versions of iOS and macOS. These betas are specifically for developers, rather than public beta testers. App writers can download and test beta 2 of iOS 10.2.1 and beta 2 of macOS Sierra 10.12.3. Apple has not said anything about this particular batch of betas, which likely resolve bugs and performance issues. Apple typically makes the public betas for these platforms available a day or two after the developer beta.
Facebook today launched Live Audio, a way for people to share a live audio feed with followers. Facebook imagines the tool will be used by content creators to share interviews, read books, or broadcast podcasts. Facebook says people will be able to discover live audio within their News Feed, and can interact with live audio via questions and reactions. Android devices will fully support multitasking, meaning users will be able to listen to live audio when using other apps or even when their device is locked. iOS users will need to be content with listening while exploring other parts of the Facebook app. Facebook intends to test Live Audio with several partners (BBC Brasil, LBC, Harper Collins, and others) over the next few weeks with a broader rollout planned for early next year.
Instagram today introduced more ways for people to dress up their Instagram stories. First, stickers are now available for stories. People can easily customize their stories with weather data, time stamps, and location info. Viewers will be able to tap the stickers to learn more about locations tagged in stories. Stickers can be applied anywhere on stories, and can be resized as well. The photo-focused social network is offering up holiday-themed stickers packs for the next few weeks so users can share their holiday spirit. The app also gains a hands-free recording mode to make capturing video easier and the new freedom to add an unlimited amount of text to stories. Last, the iOS app allows Instagram users to save their stories to the camera roll as a single video. Instagram for iOS and for Android is free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store, respectively.
AT&T today announced AT&T Call Protect, a free service that automatically blocks and warns about fraudulent calls. AT&T says Call Protect is available to customers who have HD Voice service, and it only works in areas where HD Voice coverage is available. The automatic fraud blocking reduces the chances that people will be plagued by scams by preventing the calls from reaching subscribers' phones. Call Protect also warns people when an incoming call is a suspected scam or comes from a known spammer. Users will be able to whitelist safe numbers if they wish. AT&T customers can gain more features, such as temporary call blocking, via the companion mobile app for Android and iOS devices. The service is available at no extra cost.
Facebook today launched group video chats within Messenger. The tool will allow up to six participants to view one another in a live video call. People can easily initiate calls within existing groups or by creating new groups. Tapping a video button is all that's required to kick off a video group chat. Facebook says people can ring the entire group at once, or just select numbers before inviting others. The feature is rolling out to Facebook Messenger for Android and iOS devices, as well as the web, globally. The app is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store. Video calls are free over WiFi, but will use data if conducted over cellular networks.
Google updated its Motion Stills app for iOS with several new features. First, users can now apply text to their GIFs. The Motion Text feature lets people position text anywhere they want in the GIF. It can then follow or move with a subject for the duration of the GIF. Google says it is using motion tracking technology and machine learning to make this function properly. Motion Stills also gains a new looping tool. Motion Stills is able to freeze the background of an image and analyze the movement to create the perfect loop transition. The result is GIFs that loop with fewer obvious cuts. Motion Stills takes advantage of Live Photos as captured by the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, 7, and 7 Plus and turns them into shareable GIFs. Motion Stills is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
People who own the Google Home can now tell the in-home assistant to watch Netflix shows and movies on their TV. Using the latest version of the Google Home application on smartphones, Netflix subscribers can link their account and set their TV as a casting target for Google Home. Uttering phrases such as “Ok Google, play Stranger Things from Netflix on my TV” will do exactly that. Google is also allowing people to link their Google Photos account to Google Home. This will let people say things like “Ok Google, show my photos of Lake Tahoe on my TV” to view their images on-screen. Google says people will be able to search via voice for sunsets, locations, selfies, and more. Children can ask Google Home to track Santa, while parents can listen to their favorite Spotify and Pandora playlists. Google Home is available from Google's web store. The update Google Home app for Android and iOS is rolling out this week.
Apple today released new beta versions of several of its operating systems. These betas are specifically for developers, rather than public beta testers. App writers can download and test beta 1 of iOS 10.2.1, beta 1 of tvOS 10.1.1, and beta 1 of macOS Sierra 10.12.3. Apple has not said anything about this particular batch of betas, which likely resolve bugs and performance issues. Apple typically makes the public betas for these platforms available a day or two after the developer beta.
Twitter today said users of its Android and iOS mobile applications can broadcast live video from their phone. The new live video tool is built into the app, though it relies on Periscope's backbone. Twitter bought Periscope, the live video app, last year. Twitter says anyone can watch live video and participate by posting comments are sending hearts. The feature will reach Twitter's mobile apps over the next few days.
Instagram today introduced a feature called saved posts, which lost people bookmark photos and videos for later viewing. The bookmark icon appears on all posts. A simple tap saves the post to a private folder where images and videos can stored and viewed. The feature is in the latest version of Instagram for Android and iOS.
Google recently made it easier for iPhone owners to save the contents of their devices in the cloud. Google Drive now includes several options within the iPhone app for backing up contacts, calendar events, and photos/videos. The idea is to make it easier for iPhone owners to eventually switch to an Android handset. The app does not backup call history, messages, or files such as music. Google warns the initial backup may take several hours and is best completed via WiFi. Google Drive is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today made a preview of its Android Things platform available to developers. Android Things is for the Internet of Things. It lets developers create smart and connected devices using existing Android APIs and Google services. More importantly, the platform relies on toolsets that developers are already familiar with, including Android Studio, the Android SDK, Google Play Services, and Google Cloud Platform. Along with the developer preview, Google has named several "turnkey" developer hardware packages, including the Intel Edison, NXP Pico, and Raspberry Pi 3. Google believes together these will allow developers to create devices without worrying about backend cloud services, which they'll be able to communicate with automatically. Google expects to update the preview over time with more features and a broader range of devices. It will eventually debut an Android Things mobile application API for Android and iOS devices as it works to merge its Brillo, Weave, and Nest Weave platforms. Developers can find more information on Google's web site.
Apple today began accepting orders for its AirPod wireless headphones. The AirPods instantly turn on and connect to nearby iPhones when the carrying case is opened. The AirPods can automatically switch from iPhone to Apple Watch based on what the owner is using. The AirPods provide up to 5 hours of battery life and the case has a built-in battery that can provide a total of 24 hours of play time. The devices rely on the W1, Apple's first wireless chip. The pods include a battery, antenna, accelerometer, and proximity sensor. The AirPods will automatically halt music playback if the pods are removed from the owner's ear. They are compatible with most iPhones and iPads. The AirPods cost $159 and are available online. The headphones were originally expected to debut in October, but Apple delayed the launch. Orders placed online should arrive before Christmas.
Apple today released iOS 10.2 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The minor update to iOS includes Unicode 9 with more than 100 new emoji, including more diverse depictions of minorities and women. iOS 10.2 also includes new wallpapers, iMessage screen effects, improved camera settings, additional video widgets, single sign-on, and emergency contact alerts. It also introduces the new TV app from Apple, which is a TV-guide style app meant to help people find content across various video services. The operating system can be installed over the air or via iTunes.
Adobe today announced a handful of changes to Lightroom for iOS. The mobile app now offers a refreshed photo-editing user interface that Adobe believes is easier to use when it comes to enhancing and adjusting images on a phone. A batch of sliders are simple to use with a single hand. An expanded information section brings more functionality to the app, such as the ability to add titles, captions, and copyright icons. Last, a revised capture interface lets people access a new professional mode and gives them direct control over their camera's exposure and focus settings. Adobe said Lightroom for iOS 2.6 includes all these features and is available starting today. Lightroom for Android 2.2.2 only adds support for new cameras and lenses, and includes bug fixes. Adobe said it will bring the new editing interface and info pages to the Android app in the near future.
T-Mobile today announced Digits, a new service that will let customers use the same phone number across multiple devices, or multiple numbers on a single device. The service makes use of T-Mobile's LTE network and works with virtually all connected devices, including phones, tablets, wearables, and computers. Digits relies on an app. Users can sign in on whichever device is most convenient and immediately have access to their phone number, complete with voicemail, text messages, call history, and other features. The service allows a single handset to support up to five phone numbers without requiring additional SIM cards. Similarly, a single number can be used across up to five separate devices. T-Mobile believes Digits will be particularly appealing to business customers, which will be able to assign a T-Mobile Digits number to workers, regardless of the carrier the employee already uses. Digits can run on phones that connect via AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, et al. Digits works natively with the dialer in Samsung's newer smartphones, including the Galaxy S6, S7, Note 5, and others. T-Mobile customers who have iPhones or other Android phones will be able to use Digits through a mobile app. T-Mobile is allowing a limited number of postpaid customers to test Digits, which is available as a beta. T-Mobile did not say how much the service costs. The company expects to fully launch Digits early next year.
FitBit today said it has acquired key personnel and intellectual property related to software and firmware development from Pebble. FitBit did not buy Pebble's hardware assets. FitBit says the acquisition will allow it to bring products to market faster and will speed up its ability to develop customized solutions and support third-party applications. Pebble was an early entrant in the smartwatch market and made low-cost, platform-agnostic wearables that focused on usability. It got its start through several successful Kickstarter campaigns. FitBit is the market leader for health and fitness wearables. It has an entire line of trackers and smart devices that work with Android and iOS devices. FitBit did not immediately say what will happen to Pebble's hardware products, but Pebble's Twitter account said, "Pebble will no longer produce or sell new hardware. Active Pebbles in the wild will keep working." Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction was completed December 6.
Signing into TV and other video apps should be less painful thanks to the launch of Apple's Single sign-on service. Single sign-on allows people to enter their cable provider's credentials just once and then automatically be signed in to all that TV and video apps that require those credentials. At launch, the service is limited to CenturyLink, Prism, DirecTV, Dish, GTA, GVTC, Hawaiian Telcom, Hotwire, MetroCast, and Sling TV. Notable absences include Verizon's FiOS TV service, Comcast, Time Warner, and CableVision. Moreover, the initial batch of apps that support the service are limited, too. For example, A&E supports Single sign-on for iOS, but not tvOS. Similarly, NBC supports Single sign-on for tvOS, but not iOS. Major channels, including CBS and Disney aren't yet supporting Single sign-on. It is up to TV providers to voluntarily update their apps with support for Single sign-on, which is not mandated by Apple. Single sign-on requires iOS 10 and tvOS 10 or later.
Google today began rolling out an update to its Android Search app that separates information into two streams. Previously, the app displayed a long column of data, including calendar appointments, weather, news stories, and so on. Now, the app is dividing this information into two categories: upcoming events and current topics. The events section will contain details about travel, meetings, and important dates culled from the user's email and calendar. The topics section will contain a list of stories (news, weather, sports) that Google thinks the user will be interested in. The redesigned search app hits Android devices today and will reach iOS devices soon.
The U.S. Supreme Court today vacated a $399 million reward that Samsung had been ordered to pay Apple for violating the iPhone maker's designs. The court agreed with Samsung's position that it should not be forced to forfeit all the profits from the infringing devices because their design is just one aspect. The court said the lower courts had improperly calculated the fine and sent the case back to those courts for further deliberation. The case dates back to April 2011, when Apple first sued Samsung over its smartphones. An initial trial found Samsung guilty of willfully infringing on Apple's designs and rewarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages. That reward has been whittled down over the years in subsequent hearings.
Instagram today expanded the number of tools people can use to control their experience within the app. First, Instagram will allow people to turn off comments on their posts. The feature will be added to the advanced settings menu. Instagram says people will be able to turn comments back on whenever they wish. The social network also plans to let people "like" comments by tapping a heart icon that will appear alongside comments. Users will soon be able to remove followers from private accounts, too. People will not be notified if/when they are removed. Instagram believes this is a better alternative to blocking. Last, Instagram is adding a way for people to anonymously report posts that suggest a user may injure themselves. Instagram says the new features are rolling out gradually through an update to its Android and iOS apps.
Apple today released a handful of new beta versions of its core operating systems. These betas are specifically for developers, rather than public beta testers. App writers can download and test beta 6 of iOS 10.2, beta 5 of watchOS 3.1.1, and beta 5 of macOS Sierra 10.12.2. Previous beta releases of iOS 10.2 show the platform includes Unicode 9 with a fresh batch of emoji, as well as new wallpapers, iMessage screen effects, camera settings, video widgets, and emergency contact alerts. The newest betas of watchOS 3.1.1 and macOS Sierra 10.12.2 include stability improvements. Apple typically makes the public betas for these platforms available a day or two after the developer beta.
Google today updated its Allo messaging app with two new languages. Allo now supports Hindi and Brazilian Portuguese for both Google Assistant and Smart Reply. People can say "Talk to me in Hindi" or "Talk to me in Portuguese" to gain access to the alternate languages. Google says Smart Reply should show suggested responses in the language it hears. Last, Google added new local stickers for Brazil in Google Allo. Google says the Android and iOS Allo apps will see these new features in an update due to arrive in the next few days.
Apple today released iOS 10.2 beta 5 for developers, mere days after releasing beta 4. App writers can download and test beta 5 of iOS 10.2. Previous beta releases of iOS 10.2 show the platform includes Unicode 9 with a fresh batch of emoji, as well as new wallpapers, iMessage screen effects, camera settings, video widgets, and emergency contact alerts. Apple hasn't yet updated the public beta to match the developer beta.
Twitter today made its Moments story-creation tool available on mobile phones. Moments, which has been available on the web since September, lets people assemble a series of Tweets about a subject or event into a single package that tells a complete story. Moments are found in a separate tab in the Android and iOS mobile Twitter apps. People can subscribe to Moments, which will be inserted into the timeline. Moments can be loaded with multimedia, such as photos or videos, to make them more engaging. Moments are displayed in chronological order, with discernible beginning, middle, and end segments. The feature is being rolled out to mobile users worldwide.
Netflix today made it possible for U.S. customers to download and store movies and television shows on mobile devices for offline playback. Netflix made the announcement via its Twitter account and said, "Airplane mode. Road trip mode. Stuck-in-the-subway-for-20-minutes mode. Your favorite stories are now available for download any time." The initial selection of shows and movies that can be downloaded is rather small, but should expand over time. A new version of the Netflix app is being made available to Android and iOS devices today that supports offline playback. The feature does not cost extra to use. Competing services, such as Amazon Prime Video, have supported offline playback for some time.
Facebook has added video games to its Messenger application. Launching in beta in 30 countries, Facebook users will be able to play Pac-Man, Galaga, Space Invaders, and 14 other games inside Messenger. The gaming feature lets people challenge one another and creates a score-based leaderboard with game results. The feature is available to newer Android and iOS devices and will be added to the newest version of the Messenger app. Facebook says it will add more titles and expand to more markets over time.