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printed March 28, 2017
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iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

by:  Apple


Apple Releases iOS 10.3 to Everyone

Yesterday, 12:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Yesterday, 12:39 PM

Apple today made iOS 10.3 available to the public after several months of beta testing. The most significant feature of iOS 10.3 is a tool called Find My AirPods, which helps people locate lost earbuds via an audio alert. The system update also adopts the Apple File System (APFS), refreshes the Apple ID profile behaviors, tweaks animations, and provides more details concerning iCloud storage use. Other features include wider HomeKit compatibility with connected lightswitches, alerts concerning out-of-date apps, more CarPlay actions, and refined SiriKit behaviors for voice-based payments and other activities. People who own an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch can download and install iOS 10.3 for free. Apple also released final, public builds of watchOS 3.2, tvOS 10.2, OS X Sierra 10.12.4, and Xcode 8.3.


Facebook Messenger Gains Live Location Sharing

Yesterday, 10:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today made it possible for people to share their real-time location with others using Messenger. The optional tool is available to both Android and iOS devices. Live Location can be shared for up to 60 minutes and turned on or off at any time. The location data will pinpoint people on a map and provide estimated time of arrival when en route to specific points. It can be used to share static locations, such as an address or place of interest. The tool also includes a clock that clearly counts down how much longer location data will be shared. Facebook has been testing the feature for a while and says it can be useful when coordinating meet-ups with family and friends. Facebook Messenger is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store. Google recently added a similar feature to Google Maps.


Facebook Messenger Adds Message Reactions and @Replies

Thursday, 10:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Thursday, 11:06 AM

Facebook today announced several new features for Messenger that should make the messaging application even more interactive. First, the app adds the ability to react to messages in one-on-one or group chats. Pressing and holding any message brings up the love, smile, wow, sad, angry, yes, and no emojis, which can then be applied to the highlighted message. These same reactions are already available for news feed items. Participants in the conversation will be alerted when their messages receive a reaction, such as notifications on the lock screen. Messenger also gains the ability to mention specific people in a group chat by using an @reply construction. Using the @ symbol and then a participant's Facebook name calls them out specifically within a conversation. Like the reactions, @replies added to messages will generate notifications for those mentioned in the thread. The new tools are reaching Facebook Messenger for Android and iOS in the days ahead.


Verizon Wants You To Rattle Along with Its New Hum Devices

Mar 22, 2017, 3:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon today announced a revamp of its Hum line of connected car devices. Moving forward, consumers can choose one of three new options to keep their car in touch with Verizon's network. The HumX is the top-tier product and includes an OBD-II device as well as a Bluetooth speaker. The ODB-II unit provides WiFi hotspot connectivity for up to 10 devices, and also hooks into the car's diagnostics to monitor support functions. It can deliver roadside assistance and connect people to emergency services when needed. The Bluetooth speaker supports HD voice calls. The existing Hum product is being rebranded as the Hum+ and will continue to be available for monitoring auto health and diagnostics, driving history, speed alerts, location, and more. Last, Verizon is rolling out a free Android and iOS mobile app that provides an introductory level of Hum service. The app includes safety score calculations based on driver behaviors (cornering, braking, accelerating), in addition to voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. The Hum mobile app is free, but the Hum+ and HumX require hardware and monthly service fees. All three launch March 23.


Google Brings Audio Calls to Duo, Attachments to Allo, Smoother Uploads to Photos

Mar 22, 2017, 11:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google updated a handful of its apps and services today, including Duo, Allo, and Photos. Moving forward, Duo users on Android and iOS will be able to make voice-only calls when they wish. Google says Duo's voice calls work well on most connection speeds and won't consume much data. Audio calls via Duo are being made available in Brazil today, with other regions to follow in the next few days. Google updated its Allo messaging app with support for attachments in group chats. Users will be able to share several file types (.pdf, .docs, .apk, .zip, and mp3) with groups through the messaging app. Last, Google says Photos is now better at backing up photos. Photos will first send low-resolution backups to Photos when the network connection is slow or spotty. Photos will then replace the low-resolution shots with high-quality images once good connectivity is available. Moreover, people will be able to share the low-resolution previews with others immediately. These new features are rolling out to Duo, Allo, and Photos over the next few days.


Google Maps Improves Location-Sharing Tools

Mar 22, 2017, 9:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it possible for Maps users to share their exact location with friends and family. In Maps, users need only tap the blue dot (signifying their location) and select those with whom they'd like to share. People can share through their Google contacts as well as send links through most messaging apps. The tool permits people to select how long they share their location, which ranges between 15 minutes and 3 days. Alternately, location sharing can be left on indefinitely and/or turned off at any time. Indicators in the app let people know when and with whom they are sharing their location for as long as the tool is active. Recipients of location data will see the shared location as a blue dot on Maps in addition to their own blue dot. The tool also lets people share their real-time location and trip progress while navigating between points. Google says the location-sharing feature works on Android, iPhone, the mobile web, and desktops. Google plans to roll the tool out worldwide over the next few days. Google also recently made it easier for people to remember where they parked their car. A tool in Maps lets users pinpoint their parking spot when they park.


Google News & Weather to Show More News & Weather

Mar 21, 2017, 1:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it has added more stores to the home screen of its News & Weather app for mobile devices. Specifically, the home screen will list an additional 200 stories in a section called More Headlines. Google says the More Headlines section is easy to scroll through on smartphone screens and offers a deeper look at business, tech, entertainment, sports, and other topics. The section loads on demand so the more you scroll down, the more stories it will load. Google News & Weather incorporates Google's AMP articles, which load faster over mobile connections. The More Headlines section will reach the Android and iOS versions of News & Weather over the come days. The app is free to download from the Google App Store and iTunes App Store.


Google Search App Gains Tappable Shortcuts

Mar 21, 2017, 8:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said an update to its mobile search app should make it quicker and easier to find basic information via tappable shortcuts that are positioned underneath the search box. The shortcuts let people perform instant searches for a variety of items, including entertainment, sports, weather, food, news, and more. The shortcuts appear on the home screen of the Google search app on Android and iOS devices, as well as Google.com in mobile browsers. Google says Android users will have access to more shortcuts, such as flights, currency converters, attractions, hotels, and others. People will be able to customize the shortcuts and results based on their preferences. Google says it will automatically add tappable search shortcuts for big and current events as they come and go. Google Search is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.


Apple's New Clips App Offers a Fun Way to Create Videos

Mar 21, 2017, 8:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today announced Clips, an app for the iPhone and iPad that lets people piece together photos, videos, and music for sharing on social networks. One of the core features is called Live Titles, which lets people create animated captions by using their voice, rather than typing. Clips includes effects such as comic book filters, speech bubbles, shapes, and animated posters to add personality to videos. Apple is pitching the app as an easy-to-use alternative to iMovie. It doesn't require timelines, tracks, or complicated editing tools. Instead, users need only touch a single button to shoot photos or videos from within the app, or pull content directly from the camera roll. Dozens of music soundtracks are included and they will automatically adjust to match the length of the video clip. Apple says videos created in the Clips app can be shared directly to most social networks, such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Vimeo, and others. Clips bakes in support for Apple's own iMessage, as well, and will automatically suggest sharing options based on the people who appear in the videos. Clips will be available for free to most iPhones and iPads in April.


Apple Improves Storage Options for iPhone SE

Mar 21, 2017, 7:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today gave the iPhone SE a modest update thanks to improved storage capacities. Beginning this week, the iPhone SE will be available in 32 GB and 128 GB versions. These replace the 16 GB and 64 GB models. The refreshed 32 GB iPhone SE starts at $399 and will be available online and in stores starting March 24. Other than the storage boost, the iPhone SE's other specs remain unchanged. Apple first released the iPhone SE about this same time last year. It has a 4-inch display and relies on the same design Apple used for the 2012 iPhone 5 and 2013 iPhone 5s.


Apple Announces (Product) Red iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

Mar 21, 2017, 7:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today debuted (Product) Red versions of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The devices are identical to the iPhones released last year, the only difference is the color. A portion of the proceeds from (Product) Red iPhone sales will contribute to the Global Fund to help fight AIDs. The red-colored iPhones will only be available in 128 GB and 256 GB capacities. The 128 GB (Product) Red iPhone 7 costs $749 and the 128 GB (Product) Red iPhone 7 Plus costs $869. The special edition (Product) Red iPhones will be available online and in stores beginning Friday, March 24.


Instagram Now Lets You Save Live Videos to Camera Roll

Mar 20, 2017, 11:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today made it possible to save live video broadcasts to your phone's local gallery. Live videos that are broadcast to Instagram eventually disappear from the app, but now users can elect to store videos on their phone for safekeeping. The option is made available after users end their live broadcast. Instagram says only the raw video is saved; extras such as comments, likes, and number of viewers are not added to the saved product. The video-saving feature is available to the Android and iOS versions of Instagram, which are free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.


Google's Motion Stills for iPhone Picks Up a Useful Update

Mar 17, 2017, 11:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google updated its Motion Stills app for the Apple iPhone this week and added a small number of new features. Motion Stills allows iPhone owners to export their Live Photos in the more widely usable GIF format, which can be shared with non-Apple devices. Chiefly, users can now pick the best possible frame within the Live Photo. This sets the tone for how the app treats other frames in the Live Photo and creates a more personal animation. The app also improves how it treats floating text bubble tracking, and how GIFs are exported. Motion Stills is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


Amazon Adds Alexa AI to iPhone Shopping App

Mar 16, 2017, 11:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon today made Alexa, its artificial intelligence, available to a much wider selection of devices by adding Alexa to its iOS mobile shopping application. Now any iPhone with the Amazon app aboard has access to Alexa, allowing people to search for and buy goods simply by asking Alexa for it. Amazon says customers can say things like "search for paper towels" or "reorder batteries" and Alexa will do those things within the confines of the Amazon app. The app lets people listen to music and play Kindle books, ask basic questions, add skills, access Smart Home features, and check the news, weather, and traffic — all via voice requests. The app works hand-in-hand with iPhone owners' Amazon accounts and subscriptions to services such as Amazon Music Unlimited or Amazon Prime. The revised app includes a new microphone button that people tap in order to access Alexa from wherever they happen to be. Separate Alexa-powered devices, such as the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, or FireTV are not required. Amazon's main mobile shopping app is free to download from the iTunes App Store. Amazon didn't say when Alexa might reach the Android variant of its app. Amazon's Alexa artificial intelligence competes on some level with Apple's Siri, Google's Assistant, and Microsoft's Cortana. This marks the first time Alexa has been made widely available to smartphones.


Google's Chrome Browser for iOS Lets You Save Articles for Later

Mar 15, 2017, 7:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated its Chrome browser for iOS devices and given it the ability to save online stories for later reading. The share button now includes a "read later" option that will download the article directly to the device so it can be read at a later time, even when the phone is offline. Chrome 57 is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


iOS 10.3 Beta 6 Available for Download

Mar 13, 2017, 12:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple made iOS 10.3 beta 6 available to developers today. Apple has been working on iOS 10.3 for several months. The most significant feature is a tool called Find My AirPods, which helps people locate lost earbuds via an audio alert. The minor system update also adopts the Apple File System (APFS), refreshes the Apple ID profile, tweaks animations, and provides more details concerning iCloud storage use. Beta 6 of iO 10.3 is meant for developers. Apple typically makes public beta builds available a day or two after it releases developer betas. Apple also released a sixth developer beta of macOS 10.12.4.


Google's New Uptime App Lets People Watch YouTube Together

Mar 13, 2017, 10:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google recently released Uptime, an app that lets people share and watch YouTube videos simultaneously from different phones. The idea is to make YouTube (even) more social and interactive. With Uptime installed, people can watch a video, interact and chat, curate favorites, and get daily recommendations together with friends. Interactions include stickers, emoji, and other real-time reactions to videos. Uptime is only available to the iPhone for now. Google hasn't said if or when it will bring Uptime to Android handsets.


Facebook Messenger Takes a Shot at Snapchat with 'Days'

Mar 9, 2017, 12:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook is updating its Messenger application with disappearing stories that behave similar to those of Snapchat and Instagram. The feature, called Messenger Day, lets people create short stories made up of photos and videos and then share them with their Facebook friends. The content for each day automatically disappears after 24 hours. Messenger Day plays on the in-app camera that Facebook added to Messenger last year. Like many modern messaging tools, Messenger Day includes effects, emoji, and art for dressing up shared photos and videos. It also supports text for adding comments directly to images and videos. Messenger Day lets users share their story with a single person, groups, or everyone. People can import conversation threads from Messenger if they wish, and Messenger will provide alerts when people share new content in their Day. Photos and video captured via Messenger Day will be saved to the device's local camera roll for safekeeping. Facebook has been testing this feature overseas for several months, but is now rolling it out globally to Android and iOS devices. Facebook Messenger is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.


Apple Releases Fifth Wave of Betas

Mar 8, 2017, 1:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple made iOS 10.3 beta 5 available to developers on Wednesday. The most notable new feature of iOS 10.3 is a tool called Find My AirPods, which helps people locate lost earbuds via an audio alert. iOS 10.3 also makes the jump to the Apple File System (APFS), refreshes the Apple ID profile, tweaks animations, and provides more details concerning iCloud storage use. This latest beta is meant for developers. Apple normally makes public beta builds available a day or two after it releases developer betas. Apple also released fifth developer betas of macOS 10.12.4, watchOS 3.2, tvOS 10.2, and a fourth developer beta of Xcode 8.3.


Instagram Adds Geostickers to Stories

Mar 8, 2017, 8:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram has taken a page from Snapchat and given users in New York City and Jakarta access to geostickers for their stories. Instagram says more than a dozen location-specific stickers are available for the two cities, allowing people to add context to their stories. Instagram users will see a sticker icon appear when taking photos or video. Each geosticker is meant to "match the vibe of the location it represents" — such as major landmarks and neighborhoods. The tool supports multiple stickers, each of which can be adjusted for size. Moreover, geostickers are interactive: people who watch a story can tap the sticker to see the location page. Geostickers have been added to the latest version of Instagram for both Android and iOS. Instagram didn't say when it might add more locations.


AT&T Bundling HBO for Free with Some DirecTV Now Plans

Mar 8, 2017, 8:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T is rewarding what it calls "loyal" customers of its DirecTV Now service with free HBO. People who subscribe to the Go Big and Gotta Have It packages will receive HBO for free for 12 months. People who subscribe to the less expensive Live a Little and Just Right packages will receive a $5 discount on HBO for up to six months. Those who've already added HBO to their DirecTV Now service will see their bills adjusted accordingly. AT&T says subscribers will be able to use their DirecTV Now login credentials to access HBOGo, as well.The loyalty reward is available to any DirecTV Now customer with an account active as of March 6. AT&T launched DirecTV Now in November 2016. The service offers four packages that range from $35 to $70 per month with up to 120 channels. It is available to Android and iOS devices, as well as the web.


Google Extends Neural Machine Translation to More Tongues

Mar 7, 2017, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated its Google Translate service and made it possible to generate higher-quality translations for a handful of new languages. Specifically, Google has applied its neural machine translation technique to Hindi, Russian, and Vietnamese. This methodology translates entire sentences at a time, rather than individual words or smaller phrases. The results create more accurate translations that sound more natural and are better at conveying the intended meaning of the original content. Google has already applied neural machine translation to a number of other languages, such as Portuguese and Turkish. Google says it will apply neural machine translations to more languages over time. The improved Hindi, Russian, and Vietnamese is available thanks to an update on the web, as well as to the mobile Google Translate app for Android and iOS devices.


Adobe's Lightroom App Adds RAW HDR Shooting for Android and iOS Phones

Mar 6, 2017, 11:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Adobe today updated its Lightroom Mobile application and added the ability for Android and iOS devices to shoot in RAW HDR mode. Adobe says the new HDR mode automatically scans each scene to measure the best-possible exposure range and then takes three photos that are merged to deliver the widest exposure and contrast range. The result is a 16-bit floating point DNG image that Adobe claims can rival the quality of images captured by today's dSLR cameras. The new HDR RAW capture mode is available to the Apple iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, iPhone SE, and iPad Pro 9.7. The iOS version of Lightroom also gains the ability to export original files and RAW images, as well as a gesture-to-rate tool, Force Touch actions, and sleep prevention. As for Android devices, the new tool works with the Samsung S7, S7 edge, Google Pixel, and Pixel XL. Adobe says this is because these are the only devices capable of capturing DNG images on their own. More devices will be given access to the HDR RAW capture feature over time. Adobe Lightroom Mobile is free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.


T-Mobile Brings Back Free iPhone 7 Offer

Mar 3, 2017, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today resurrected its offer of a free iPhone 7 to people who switch to the Uncarrier, though there are lots of requirements and caveats to the offer. To start, customers must port their number in from another carrier, sign up for the T-Mobile One plan, and trade in an eligible device to score the free iPhone 7. Moreover, T-Mobile is requiring people to purchase the new iPhone 7 (or 7 Plus) on an equipment installment plan. T-Mobile will provide instant credit toward the new device based on the value of the trade-on. The devices eligible for trade in are limited to the most recent iPhones (6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus) and Galaxies (S7, S7 edge, S7 Active). T-Mobile will then send a MasterCard gift card in the mail for the balance of the new iPhone 7. That gift card can be applied to the remaining monthly EIP payments on the account, but it doesn't have to be. The offer is only available from March 3 to March 16 in T-Mobile stores.


YouTube TV to Offer Live TV for $35 Per Month

Mar 1, 2017, 6:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google this week announced YouTube TV, another way to watch television content online. Google partnered with more than 40 television networks, including national and regional channels, to provide access to their shows for the YouTube generation. Some of the channels include ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, USA, FX, Disney Channel, Sprout, E! and Bravo. People can add on Showtime for an extra monthly fee if they wish. The monthly service is accessible from mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Moreover, Android and iOS device users will be able to cast YouTube TV shows from their phone or tablet to their Chromecast-equipped television set. YouTube TV includes a cloud-based DVR with unlimited storage where people can save and access their shows from practically anywhere. Google will allow people to store recordings for free for up to nine months. Each YouTube TV subscription includes up to six individual accounts for personalized recommendations and DVR recording. Google says YouTube TV will go live in the largest U.S. markets soon, with others to follow shortly thereafter. YouTube TV costs $35 per month and doesn't require any contracts or commitments.


Google Keep and Docs Now Work Together Seamlessly

Mar 1, 2017, 6:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has made it possible for people to pull their great ideas from Keep and put them in Google Docs. The company this week added Google Keep, its idea-storing service, to the G Suite, which is the official tool for managing Google Drive and Docs. The integration means people can drag notes from Keep directly into work documents, search notes in Keep while using Docs, add new notes to Keep from within Google Docs, and easily merge Keep and Docs content. Keep and Docs will remain separate apps and services. This week's change simply means people can access content in one from the other. Keep and Docs are available as mobile apps to Android and iOS devices, as well as on PCs via the web.


Mozilla Acquires Pocket

Feb 28, 2017, 4:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Mozilla has purchased Pocket for an undisclosed sum. Mozilla is mostly known as the company behind the Firefox browser, while Pocket is a tool for saving and sharing content on the web. The two companies have worked together over the last year on several projects and found they had a shared vision for the future of the web. Mozilla and Pocket believe they can expand the reach of high-quality content while also protecting the openness of the web. Pocket's mobile app is available to Android and iOS devices, but the service is also accessible from desktop browsers. Pocket will operated as a wholly owned subsidiary of Mozilla, and will join the Mozilla Open Source project. Terms of the deal were not made public.


Google Tweaks Hangouts to Help Find Latest Messages

Feb 28, 2017, 4:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated Hangouts on the web and on mobile devices with a new user interface for finding the newest messages. Moving forward, Hangouts users will see a "Jump to Last Read" button that will take them to the last unread message in their chat. The button for discerning the number of new messages has also been redesigned to match the newer UI. This change has already reached the iOS version of Hangouts and will hit Android soon.


Apple Releases Fourth Wave of Betas

Feb 28, 2017, 3:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple made iOS 10.3 beta 4 available to developers on Monday. The most notable new feature of iOS 10.3 is a tool called Find My AirPods, which helps people locate lost earbuds via an audio alert. iOS 10.3 also makes the jump to the Apple File System (APFS), refreshes the Apple ID profile, tweaks animations, and provides more details concerning iCloud storage use. This latest beta is meant for developers. Apple normally makes public beta builds available a day or two after it releases developer betas. Apple also released fourth betas of macOS 10.12.4 and watchOS 3.2.


Google's GBoard Keyboard for iPhone Finally Lands Dictation

Feb 23, 2017, 8:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced a significant update to GBoard, its advanced keyboard application or the iPhone. Voice dictation is the most significant new feature added to the tool, allowing GBoard users to press a microphone and speak their messages rather than type them. GBoard also gains support for 15 more languages, a wider set of emoji, and Google Doodles. The emoji, in particular, include the entire set of characters from iOS 10. GBoard is free to download from the iTunes App Store.


Instagram Now Lets You Add Up to 10 Photos to a Single Post

Feb 22, 2017, 2:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today made it possible for users to create posts with up to 10 photos. The idea is to allow people to publish a single event that includes multiple pictures and videos, rather than post a string of single images to their feed. Instagram says users will have full control over each image shared in the event post, including order and image appearance. Once live, people will be able to swipe through the events to see all the photos. Multi-image posts will be highlighted with a little icon in the corner. Instagram says event photos/videos will be limited to square shapes for now, and support only a single caption for the lot. Android and iOS users will see the new feature in an update rolling out over the next few days.


Apple Pushes Third iOS 10.3 Beta to Developers

Feb 20, 2017, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Feb 20, 2017, 3:26 PM

Apple today made iOS 10.3 beta 3 available to developers. The most notable new feature of iOS 10.3 is a tool called Find My AirPods, which helps people locate lost earbuds via an audio alert. iOS 10.3 also makes the jump to the Apple File System (APFS), refreshes the Apple ID profile, tweaks animations, and provides more details concerning iCloud storage use. This latest beta is meant for developers. Apple normally makes public beta builds available a day or two after it releases developer betas. Apple also released new betas of macOS 10.12.4, watchOS 3.2, tvOS 10.2, and Xcode 8.3.


Skype Douses Android and iOS Apps with Silliness

Feb 17, 2017, 8:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Skype's mobile app for Android and iOS devices now looks a lot more like Facebook Messenger, based on the preview released by Microsoft this week. In a blog post, Microsoft explained the new features are meant to make conversations more expressive and entertaining. First, Skype adds in-call reactions. These let people add live emoticons, photos, and text to video calls. The integrated camera now supports emoticons, stickers, and annotations. People can respond to any individual message with multiple reactions, such as a thumbs up, sad face, smiley face, or shock. Last, the app adds a new search panel for finding and sharing links, news, sports, points of interest and other data. Microsoft says this negates the need to jump back and forth between apps. Android device owners can download this Skype Preview from the Google Play Store. iPhone owners will need to apply to become a Skype Insider for iOS. If selected, Skype will email a download link to the app. Microsoft hopes those who preview this version of Skype for Android and iOS will offer feedback before the company releases these features to everyone.


Facebook Video to Turn Up the Volume

Feb 14, 2017, 1:36 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook is making several big changes to how it treats video on mobile devices. First, sound will fade in and fade out as users scroll past videos in their News Feed as long as the phone's volume is turned on. Videos will not automatically play sound when the phone's volume is set to off unless users tap on the video to hear it. People who never want to hear sound from News Feed videos can turn sound off entirely via the app's settings. Second, Facebook is taking advantage of mobile devices' form factor to make vertical videos look better. Moving forward, vertical videos will display a larger preview windows that fill more of the phone's screen. The larger format is available to all users on Android and iOS. Third, Facebook is making it easier to watch a video and scroll through the News Feed at the same time. People can minimize videos into a picture-in-picture format that will continue to play in one corner of the screen as they browse through their Feed. Facebook says Android device users will be able to keep picture-in-picture videos playing in the background even if they exit the Facebook app. Last, Facebook plans to bring its video to smart TVs and other big screens. The Facebook video app for TV will roll out soon to app stores for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Samsung Smart TV. Facebook says support for more platforms will follow. The TV app will let people watch videos from their News Feed, as well as those shared by friends, pages, or live broadcasts.


Nest Cameras Gain Door Recognition, Apps Gain Better Notifications

Feb 14, 2017, 1:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nest today updated its camera software and mobile app for Android and iOS devices with new features and tools for keeping homes safe. In conjunction with its line of indoor and outdoor security cameras and Nest Aware, the Nest mobile app has learned to recognize doorways. It can now automatically create Activity Zones around doors, and will send notifications when it registers motion in those Activity Zones. Nest Aware users (requires monthly subscription) have long been able to designate Activity Zones manually; the change here is that Nest Cams and the Nest app can now do this on their own. Beyond the door recognition tool, the Nest app gains better alerts for Android and iOS. For example, alerts will include a thumbnail image that shows users what’s going on at a glance, and can let people see animated previews of Nest Cam video clips without opening the app. Further, when the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector goes off, any Nest Cams associated with the account will show a live video feed so homeowners can assess what their entryways look like. Last, the Android version of the Nest mobile app is adding app shortcuts on the home screen. The Nest mobile app is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store. Nest Cams, Nest Protect, and Nest Aware are all sold separately. Nest says the Nest Cam Indoor and Nest Cam Outdoor will receive the door recognition update over the next few weeks.


Apple Backs Qi Wireless Charging Standard

Feb 13, 2017, 3:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has joined the Wireless Power Consortium, according to IHS Technologies and the WPC's own web site. Apple is listed as a backing member of the organization, which is behind the Qi wireless charging standard. This is the first time Apple has appeared to support either of the two competing standards. Apple is not backing the AirFuel Alliance (formerly the Power Matters Alliance) wireless charging standard, at least not according to the Alliance's web site, where Apple is not listed as a member. Apple's membership in the WPC does not necessarily mean the company plans to bring wireless charging technology to its mobile devices; rather, it means Apple can contribute its own technology to the standard, as well as take advantage of the standard's existing feature set. Many of Apple's competitors already back at least one of the two major wireless charging standards. Samsung, for example, supports both Qi and AirFuel, which makes its devices compatible with most wireless chargers. Wireless charging is one of a handful of technologies that Apple's iPhone has yet to adopt.


Google Adds Shareable Lists to Maps

Feb 13, 2017, 8:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it easier to keep track of and share favorite spots thanks to a new list tool in Google Maps. Maps users can take advantage of pre-set list categories, such as Want to Go or Favorites, as well as create their own. Lists are accessible via Maps' side menu under Your Places and icons for saved spots will appear on maps themselves so users can always see when they are nearby. Of course, all lists can be shared via text, email, social networks, and popular messaging apps. Google says lists are available on mobile (Android, iOS) and desktop machines, and can even be saved for offline access. Lists will be made available to most users over the days ahead.


Verizon Rolls Out Trade-In Offer to Match New Unlimited Plan

Feb 13, 2017, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today announced a promotional trade-in offer that will give a free flagship-class phone to those who switch from other carriers. The offer requires users to select Verizon's new $80 monthly unlimited plan. It also requires a working trade-in that is fully paid off. Customers will need to port their number in from a competing service provider. Customers can then select the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Google Pixel, Moto Z Droid, Moto Z Force Droid, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, or LG V20. Verizon will provide up to $792 toward the cost of the phone spread out over 24 months. In order to get one of the above phones for free, switchers will need to trade-in the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, Samsung Note 5, LG G5, LG V20, or the HTC 10. Customers who have an older phone to trade, such as the Apple iPhone SE, Samsung Note 4, Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G4, LG V10, or HTC M9, will need to pay $5 per month for the "free" phones being offered by Verizon. Verizon Wireless didn't say how long this promotion will be available.


Cortana to Help People Follow Up On Email Commitments

Feb 9, 2017, 3:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today improved its Cortana personal assistant, which can now remind people to take care of tasks they've promised to do via email. The tool is available in Microsoft's Office 365 and Outlook.com email services. Cortana will scan emails and when users tell someone they'll complete a specific task (such as file a report) Cortana will automatically suggest a reminder to help people follow through. Microsoft says machine learning is behind the new tool and it will learn from user behavior over time. Moreover, these reminders will automatically be added to the action center so they are visible outside of the email app. Users will need to ensure they are signed into their Microsoft account and have granted Cortana the proper permissions. The tool is being made available to Windows 10 devices first, but Microsoft plans to expand it to Android and iOS in the weeks ahead.


Apple Makes New iOS and WatchOS Betas Available to Devs

Feb 6, 2017, 1:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made available a handful of new beta builds of its core operating systems. The new releases include iOS 10.3 beta 2, watchOS 3.2 beta 2, tvOS 10.2 beta 2, and Xcode 8.3 beta 2. The most notable new feature of iOS 10.3 is a tool called Find My AirPods, which helps people locate lost earbuds via an audio alert. iOS 10.3 also makes the jump to the Apple File System (APFS), refreshes the Apple ID profile, tweaks animations, and provides more details concerning iCloud storage use. WatchOS 3.2 includes two core additions to the platform: theater mode and SiriKit. Theater mode lets Watch owners disable sound and raise-to-wake functions while retaining haptic vibrations for notifications. SiriKit, available to iOS since last year, lets developers add Siri to their own watchOS apps. These new betas are meant for developers. Apple normally makes public beta builds available a day or two after it releases the developer betas.


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