iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Periscope users can now sketch on the screen during live broadcasts. Periscope added the feature in a recent update to the app, which it says "provides a new way to express yourself while broadcasting." The tool, which requires a long-press to access, lets users draw in red, green, or blue, or use a dropper to sample a color from the video. Sketching is limited to the iOS version of Periscope for now. Twitter, Periscope's parent company, didn't say if or when the feature might be carried over to the Android app. Periscope is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
YouTube is pushing out a new version of its mobile app to Android and iOS devices with changes to the home screen. The home section of the app offers more relevant personalized recommendations, says Google, that are generated by neural network technology. The computer-assisted curation can detect patterns in users' watching behaviors to learn and improve as it goes. Google says it focused on how its system recommends recently-posted videos from users' favorite content creators. In tests, Google claims people who've taken the new recommendation system for a spin have spent more time watching the latest videos. YouTube is also preparing to roll 6-second ads that cannot be skipped ahead of all videos, particularly those viewed from mobile devices. The refreshed YouTube app is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Microsoft has begun inviting people who registered to test its Word Flow keyboard to download the app from the iTunes App Store. Microsoft had been testing the alternate keyboard in a closed beta, but started accepting signups earlier this month. One the iPhone, Word Flow will support custom backgrounds, one-handed typing, and swiping gestures to spell words. The keyboard was developed by Microsoft's Garage unit, which heads up projects for Android and iOS. Word Flow for the iPhone only supports English at launch. It is free to download and use.
Snapchat has updated its iOS application and given it the popular face-swapping feature that's already available to the Android app. SnapChat says iOS users can face swap with a photo from their phone's camera roll. Snapchat for iOS also allows users to replay any snap once for free. Snapchat is free to download from iTunes.
Google today updated its Inbox service with features that should help people keep track of events, newsletters, and web links with less fuss. Google says Inbox will now cluster emails regarding a single event together and always display the most up-to-date information in an easy-to-glance format. Inbox has improved how it handles newsletters by prioritizing those most often read by the user. It will minimize newsletters once they're read to save space. The new "save to Inbox" tool is meant to help people save web links for later. The most recent version of Inbox for Android and iOS includes the link saving tool in the sharing menu and should negate the need for people to send themselves emails with web links. Inbox will group saved links together to make them easier to find. Inbox, an alternate email app for Gmail, is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Microsoft is one step closer to releasing its Word Flow keyboard to the iPhone. The company is testing the keyboard in a closed beta, but is now allowing consumers to request invitations. Microsoft first announced plans to release the keyboard back in January. One the iPhone, it will support custom backgrounds, one-handed typing, and swiping gestures to spell words. The keyboard is being developed by Microsoft's Garage than, which heads up projects for Android and iOS. Microsoft didn't say when invitations for the keyboard will go out.
Instagram today said it plans to roll out a new way for people to discover video. Its Android and iOS mobile apps will soon feature a personalized channel called Videos You Might Like. The channel, located in the Explore section of the app, contains a series of videos from around the world that Instagram believes will match user interests. Instagram will also package together featured channels that center on specific topics or subjects. Instagram says the Videos You Might Like tool will improve with use, as the app's algorithms learn what the user likes and doesn't like. People will be able to signal which types of posts they'd prefer to see less of. Instagram says the explorational video channels are launching in the U.S. first, with other regions to follow. Instagram for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store. Instagram recently increased the length of videos people are allowed to share from 15 seconds to 60 seconds. The social network says video accounts for a growing percentage of shared content.
Snapchat updated its Android and iOS apps today with animated emoji stickers. The stickers can be used on videos and will remain attached to whatever subject they are pinned to. That means the stickers will move if the subject moves. Snapchat is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Vine today provided an update to its Android and iOS apps, making it easier to view videos. The app has added a Watch button that, when pressed, will play all the videos in a given channel without stopping. Previously, users had to scroll through the videos manually. People can press and hold any given Vine to watch it loop before resuming the feed. The revised app also lets people sort through likes and comments, and makes speed and performance improvements throughout. Vine is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Google has updated its Calendar app for Android and iOS devices with the ability to schedule time for personal goals. Goals are activity based, such as working out or playing an instrument. Google Calendar users can choose an activity, answer several questions about it, and Calendar will find time for it in the user's schedule. Calendar can automatically reschedule goals when something more important comes up, and will learn over time as users defer goals and complete them. Google Calendar is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Facebook today announced the Facebook Live API, a tool developers can use to enable Facebook Live videos from cameras beyond those within smartphones. Facebook users are already able to stream video live directly from their device. Facebook wants to expand live video to more devices. During its F8 developer conference, Facebook demonstrated the power of the Live API by streaming video from a hovering DJI drone. It will be up to camera and app developers to expand live video through use of the Live API, which is available beginning today. Live video is now showcased in a new version of the Facebook mobile app for Android and iOS devices, which places the live content in a separate tab.
Dropbox has integrated its own service into Facebook's Messenger app, allowing people to share files from Dropbox to friends and family through Messenger. The integration requires senders to have both the Dropbox and Messenger apps installed on their phone. Dropbox says shared images, videos, and GIFs will appear directly in message threads. Recipients will need to click a link to Dropbox's mobile site to access other types of files. Dropbox is available within Facebook for both Android and iOS.
Microsoft's Garage team has made a productivity-minded keyboard available to Apple's iOS devices. The keyboard, says Microsoft, works in tandem with an Office 365 account for tapping into OneDrive, Office, and other Microsoft account information. Microsoft suggests users toggle between the standard iOS keyboard and Hub Keyboard when needed, using Hub to grab and share URLs of Office documents or contact details from the phone or associated Office 365 account. It also has an enhanced copy-paste function for doing text between apps, documents, and files. The Hub Keyboard is first available in English for the U.S. and will expand to more languages and countries over time. Microsoft's Garage team focuses on creating apps for Android and iOS devices. It released Hub to the Android platform in February. The app is free to download.
Microsoft today said an update to Outlook for Android and iOS will allow users to add calendars from Facebook, Evernote, and Wunderlist. The integration supports events, notes, and reminders. Individual calendars can be color-coded for easy visibility. The features comes from the Sunrise email service, which Microsoft purchased last year. Microsoft believes integrating more calendars with Outlook will help people better plan their work and personal lives. Outlook for Android and iOS are free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
Facebook today significantly expanded the capabilities of its Live Video feature by adding more ways to connect and share with viewers. First, users can now broadcast live video to small groups or schedule live video events in advance. Live video also gains reactions, replayable comments, and filters. The reactions work similar to those on Periscope, which means they pop up in real time while the video is playing. Moving forward, comments made during the live video will be re-published in order when the video is played back later. The filters provide videographers with more options to customize the appearance of their content. Facebook Live Videos makes it simple to invite friends to watch live content with a tool built directly into the viewer. Last, Facebook is making it easier to discover live video. A new section highlighting live video will appear in the mobile app to serve as a central spot for people to seek out content. Moreover, Facebook is adding a live map on the desktop so people can see where video is being shared. The service is expanding to 60 countries today. Facebook said these features will reach Android and iOS devices via updates over the next few weeks.
WhatsApp today updated its service with full end-to-end encryption. Now, the latest version of the app protects calls, messages, photos, videos, files, and voice messages by default. Users don't need to take any action to enable it. Encryption applies to messages sent to individuals and groups. The company says no one but the recipient(s) will be able to read the messages. WhatsApp itself cannot see message contents. The update covers all versions of WhatsApp, including the Android, iOS, and Windows apps. WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, says more than one billion people use the app to communicate. The change follows the widely publicized FBI case against Apple, which ordered the company to unlock an iPhone. Apple refused, but the FBI was able to unlock the device using another method. WhatsApp says the government will not be able to read WhatsApp messages.
Twitter is adding a new button to its Android and iOS apps today that makes it simple to send tweets directly to other users. The tool is meant to help take public content private, so it can be shared and discussed with individuals in direct messages. Twitter says it is adding the button due to user feedback. Users have always been able to share public tweets privately via direct messages, but it previously took more effort. Now, users can tap the new button and send right from the tweet in question. The update will hit Android and iOS devices starting today.
BBM users now have more control over their messages thanks to an update BlackBerry made available to Android, BlackBerry, and iOS devices. All three platforms now have unlimited use of the Retract and Timer features. Retract lets users retract messages and images they no longer want the recipient to see. Timer gives users control over how long messages, pictures, or location details can be viewed by a message recipient. Previously, these features were reserved for BBM Premium subscribers, which carries a monthly fee. BlackBerry added other tools to BBM, including Private Chat (removes names and avatars) and Edit (allows editing of sent messages) functions, message forwarding, and bug fixes. Changes specific to Android include the ability to mute notifications, scroll through pictures, and save pictures to camera roll. The update adds support for Android 6.0 and improves BBM voice call quality. For Blackberry devices, the latest BBM makes it possible to retract or edit messages sent to groups, as well as delete messages from just the sender's view of the conversation. For iOS devices, BBM refreshes the chat screen experience, allows users to capture and share larger videos, adds support for multi-select mode to handle bulk tasks, and makes it possible to save images to the camera roll. BBM is free to download from the Google Play Store, BlackBerry World, and iTunes App Store.
Apple today made a minor update available to iPhones and iPads in order to fix a browser-based bug. In particular, iOS 9.3.1 addresses an issue that caused apps to sometimes hang or crash completely after users tapped links in the browser or other apps. iOS 9.3.1 is free to download and install over the air.
Microsoft is giving Skype a boost of intelligence thanks to Cortana and Skype Bots. With Cortana integration, Skype users will be able to do things such as manage their calendar and contacts without leaving the Skype app. Cortana will also be able to interact with bots, which Microsoft said will allow people to perform tasks such as book hotels and order pizza by conversing with the app itself. Bots are available in preview form within the messaging part of Skype, but will eventually be added to audio and video calling, too. A new version of Skype for Android, iOS, and Windows enables the bots. Companies will be able to create their own bots for Skype via Microsoft's developer program. People will be able to add the bots they want to their contact list. Microsoft revealed the bots are part of its larger vision for voice-activated computing.
Google today announced VR view, a way for developers to add virtual reality content to mobile apps and web sites. Google believes VR images and video — accessed through Google's Cardboard viewer for phones — can be used to create interactive and enriching experiences within apps. Such content would be engaging for travel or real estate services, for example, allowing people to explore potential destinations or homes. The latest Cardboard SDK makes it possible to embed VR in Android and iOS apps with a few lines of code. Google updated the Cardboard SDK today with the tools needed for VR view, and made the Cardboard SDK available to Apple's iOS platform for the first time.
Instagram today said users will be able to share videos up to 60 seconds in length, which is up significantly from the previous limit of 12 seconds. Instagram is making the change in response to the rapid rise in time people spend watching Instagram videos. The extended video clip length is being rolled out slowly to users over the next few months. The iOS version of Instagram is being updated today with the ability to assemble videos from multiple clips found in the camera roll. Instagram is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Instagram didn't say when the same features will be added to the Android app.
Apple was forced to pull a build of iOS 9.3 for older iPhones after it was found to cause activation problems on the iPhone 5s, 5, 4s, and 4. "Updating some iOS devices to iOS 9.3 can require entering the Apple ID and password used to set up the device in order to complete the software update," explained Apple. "In some cases, if customers do not recall their password, their device will remain in an inactivated state until they can recover or reset their password." In response, Apple pulled the build of iOS 9.3 specific to these older iPhones. The company patched the problem and has made the update available once again. Customers who downloaded the faulty version and are experiencing authentication issues can work around them using steps spelled out on Apple's support site.
AT&T customers who have newer iPhones can now make WiFi calls when traveling abroad. The company enabled international WiFi calling with the iOS 9.3 update from Apple and refreshed carrier settings. AT&T says international calls made via WiFi will be charged at its standard rates. The feature also allows people to send text messages via WiFi, which are counted the same as regular text messages. WiFi calling, which must be turned on in the system settings, is available to the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, and 6s Plus. WiFi calling has been available for domestic calls since last year and can provide voice/messaging connectivity in areas with poor cellular coverage.
Google is improving its Google Photos service by boosting the product's ability to automatically create and annotate albums. Google says Photos will suggest new albums, featuring the best shots, after events/trips are synced online. The albums will feature maps and location points, highlighting where images were captured, should users wish. Moreover, users can add text captions to their albums as well as turn on collaboration tools for shared albums. Google says Photos users can go back to their existing albums and add these same details, such as location, maps, and text, so their albums all feature similar data. The refreshed album tools for Google Photos are reaching the web, Android, and iOS today.
Google today expanded the ecosystem of devices compatible with its casting technology to include standalone displays. The company partnered with Vizio and has added direct casting support to Vizio's P Series displays as well as Vizio's soundbars and speakers. This means people will be able to cast video and music content directly to the display, rather than through a separate dongle that's plugged into the TV to stereo system. Vizio's P Series TVs can receive casted content up to 4K in resolution. Along with the ecosystem expansion, Google has updated the Chromecast app, renaming the app to Google Cast. Google said the revised app will reach Android and iOS devices later this week. Google Cast relies on WiFi to connect smartphones and tablets to multimedia gear.
Apple said iPhone and iPad owners will be able to download and install iOS 9.3 starting today. iOS 9.3 is a more significant point update than normal. It adds Night Shift to help reduce eye fatigue at night. It reduces blue light on the screen. The platform brings education tools to teachers and school admins, such as Managed IDs, and support for multiple sign-ins on a single device. iOS 9.3 also adds protected Notes, to secure files via Touch ID. Fitness and health data is more accessible thanks to a revised dashboard in Apple Health. The platform expands News functionality by adding support for landscape video playback on the iPhone, as well as more targeted article suggestions. iOS 9.3 is free to download and install over the air, or via iTunes.
Google Maps can now tell users how quickly a taxi or Uber might take to get them from Point A to Point B, as well as offer an estimate of fares. When people search for directions from their phone, Maps will display a dedicated tab with info on ride-hailing services, such as Uber. Users will still be able to see standard car, mass transit, walking, and biking directions, too. People who have Uber or other ride-hailing apps installed on their phone will be able to see fare estimates and book with a single tap. Google says it will show multiple options from services that support them, such as Uber's UberX, UberXL, and UberBlack. While Google partnered with Uber in the U.S., it is adding 99Taxis in Brazil, Ola Cabs in India, Hailo in the U.K. and Spain, mytaxi in Germany and Spain, and Gett in the U.K. The new ride-hailing tool will reach Google Maps for Android over the next few days. Google says the the feature will reach Maps for iOS "very soon."
Here Maps today said it is dropping support for Windows 10 and Windows Phone. The company plans to pull all Here-branded mobile apps from the Windows Store by March 29, as the apps will cease working on handsets by June 30. "We made the Here apps compatible with Windows 10 by using a workaround that will no longer be effective after June 30," explained Here's Pino Bonetti in a blog post. "To continue offering the Here apps for Windows 10 would require us to redevelop the apps from the ground up, a scenario that led to the business decision to remove our apps from the Windows 10 store." This means Here Maps will no longer be available to Windows 10-based smartphones, tablets, and PCs; instead, Here says Windows 10 devices will need to use the Microsoft Maps product. Microsoft Maps relies on Here's mapping data, but doesn't have the robust feature set of the Here Maps apps. Phones running Windows Phone 8/8.1 will still be able to use Here Maps on their devices, but Here will limit any future updates to critical bug fixes. Here Maps, Nokia's former mapping division, is now owned by a consortium of German auto makers including Audi, BMW, and Daimler. The consortium plans to focus efforts on other platforms, including Android and iOS.
Apple today released iOS 9.3 Beta 7 for both developers and public testers. iOS 9.3's major features include Night Shift to help with sleep issues and multi-user login for education accounts. Several apps are slated for new functionality, too, such as Apple News, which gains landscape view on the iPhone as well as faster updates and personalized recommendations. The Apple Health app gains a new activity view, and Apple Notes adds password protection for individual entries. Apple has been testing iOS 9.3 along with betas for watchOS 2.2, tvOS 9.2, and Mac OS X 10.11.4. Apple has an event scheduled for March 21, which means today's iOS 9.3 beta is likely to be the last ahead of iOS 9.3's general release. Apple didn't call out specific updates to the latest beta. It can be downloaded over the air for registered developers and public testers.
Microsoft has improved the browser-based version of Skype with new several tools. To start, users can now call mobile phones and landlines from the web, including international numbers (Skype credit required). The web client also gains the ability to view YouTube videos directly in message threads, rather than force users to open a separate window. YouTube support includes standard playback controls, such as volume and play/pause. Skype for web makes it easier to invite non-Skype users to join conversations with an improved sharing tool, and new notifications mean web users won't miss incoming messages or calls when signed in. Skype for the web is free to use and is compatible with mobile Skype apps, such as those for Android, iOS, and Windows machines.
Yahoo today rolled out an update to its iOS email application and added several new features. To start, users can now select from a number of different colored themes and can go so far as to set a different theme for each managed account (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail email addresses) to make them easier to separate. The app also gains support for 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Using 3D Touch, Yahoo Mail users will be able to peek at inbox and contact details. Yahoo Mail for iOS adds new draft deleting powers, as well, and makes it easier to see unread message accounts when viewing the inbox. Yahoo Mail for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today updated its Photos app for iOS devices and added support for Live Photos. This means iPhone owners will be able to backup and view their Live Photos (moving images similar to GIFs) to Google Photos. The app also gains improved navigation, support for iPad split view and the iPad Pro, as well as several performance improvements. Google Photos for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft today expanded Skype's calling and messaging functions to the online versions of Office and OneDrive. People will be able to initiate Skype conversations when using the web-based Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and OneDrive apps. Microsoft imagines the feature will be useful for people who need to collaborate on files in real time. Microsoft recently gave these same tools to the mobile versions of Office and OneDrive. Skype, Office, and OneDrive are free for Android, iOS, and Windows, but some Office functions require a subscription to Office 365.
SoundHound has made a voice assistant of its own available to Android and iOS devices in the hopes of providing an alternate to Google-, Apple-, and Microsoft-made assistants. Hound works similarly to Google Now, Siri, and Cortana in that it listens to natural language voice requests and performs select actions in response. It can be used hands-free by stating the "Ok, Hound" catchphrase. Users can ask about the weather, search for local restaurants and their Yelp ratings, plan routes between points, seek out hotel rooms, hail Uber rides, make phone calls and send messages, perform general web searches, and even ask for mathematical calculations. SoundHound claims Hound is able to handle specific requests, such as "Show hotels in Seattle that are pet-friendly, have a gym, and cost less than $275", as well as follow-up questions. Hound is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Google today added to the number of templates available from its Docs, Sheets, and Presentations productivity suite. For example, Google partnered with Intuit's QuickBooks to create new budget templates that are free to use in Sheets. It also sidled up with Google Ventures to draft a new template aimed at helping entrepreneurs create pitches. All the additional templates are available on the web and on Android and iOS devices. Separately, Google updated its Photos product on the web and for Android devices. The web version of Photos now has an expanded set of editing tools to adjust images. The Android version of Photos makes it easier to see photos added on any given day. Google Docs, Sheets, Presentations, and Photos are all free to download from the Google Play Store.
Apple today made iOS 9.3 Beta 5 available to both developers and public testers. The beta can be downloaded and installed over the air. Apple didn't call out any changes in the new beta, though it likely includes bug fixes and general performance improvements. The company also pushed out new betas of watchOS 2.2, tvOS 9.2, and OS X 10.11.4.
C Spire Wireless today expanded its WiFi On service to iOS devices, allowing its iPhone customers to more easily connect to some 20 million WiFi hotspots around the country. The WiFi On app is already available to Android handsets. C Spire says the service, run by Devicescape, provides WiFi access in a wide variety of public environments, including Walmart, McDonalds, Home Depot, Target, and Chick-fil-A stores, as well as libraries, stadiums, and malls. The C Spire WiFi On app for the iPhone is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
An update to Google Maps for iOS adds useful details about what's located along any given route. Using the refreshed Google Maps, travelers can easily find rest stops, restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations — including gas prices — during their journey. The feature is accessible when in navigation mode by pressing the search button. Google will then show what's available within reasonable distances of the planned trip. Google added this feature to Maps for Android in October, so today's update for iOS puts the two versions of the app in parity. Google Maps for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.