iOS was created by Apple, and is used exclusively on Apple products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Nokia today formally announced the sale of its HERE Maps business unit to a consortium of three German auto makers. Audi, BMW, and Daimler have agreed to buy HERE Maps for $3 billion. Nokia has been shopping the business unit since April, soon after it announced plans to acquire Alcatel-Lucent. The three car makers will act as investors in HERE, as well as customers of the mapping business and suppliers of data. Nokia said HERE-branded mobile apps will continue to be available to Android, iOS, and Windows devices. Nokia expects to complete the sale during the first half of 2016. Once finalized, Nokia will have two business units: its telecommunications equipment unit and its technology unit.
Yahoo! today launched Livetext, its new messaging app to compete with services like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Snapchat. The app lets you have a text conversation with one other person at a time, accompanied by a silent, 2-way live video stream. The app is designed for situations where audio might be inappropriate for one or both parties, but you want to share what you're seeing and/or facial reactions. Tapping your own video stream thumbnail switches between your front and back camera. It does not support group messaging. The app first appeared quietly in the Hong Kong iOS App Store, but today is being launched in the U.S. It will be available tomorrow for both Android and iOS.
Google today added 20 new languages to its Google Translate application for Android and iOS devices. The app now lets people instantly translate text between Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian. Google Translate initially launched with support for English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, and it now speaks a total of 27 languages. With Google Translate, users can point their phone's camera at text in any of these languages and instantly see the translation to the language of their choice. Google also took steps to improve the performance of Google Translate's voice conversation mode. The company is using convolutional neural networks to help translate languages faster when the network connection is poor or even non-existant. This means real-time translations between two spoken languages is faster and smoother. Google said the updated Google Translate apps for Android and iOS are available in the Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively, beginning today.
Verizon and HBO today announced the immediate availability of HBO Now to Verizon's internet and TV customers. Subscribers to Verizon's FiOS broadband and television services can trial HBO Now for free for 30 days, after which it will cost $15 per month. HBO said it plans to bring its content to Verizon Wireless' forthcoming mobile video platform later this year. HBO Now offers the bulk of HBO's programming, including movies, series, and sports. It first launched via Apple TV earlier this year.
Honda has committed to supporting Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay platforms in the forthcoming 2016 Honda Accord sedan. With the two platforms on board, owners of Android and iOS handsets will be able to connect their devices to the Accord's in-dash unit for safer interactions with their apps. A number of other carmakers have committed to supporting the smartphone platforms, including GM's Buick,Cadillac, and Chevy brands, and Volkswagen.
Google released a revised version of YouTube and the updated app focuses on improving usability. The user interface now focuses around three tabs: Home, Subscriptions, and Account. The first lets people explore and discover videos with recommendations based on viewing history, the second features all the videos from favorited channels, and the third helps people manage their own content and history within the app. In addition to the tabs, YouTube has new editing features, such trimming clips, adding tints and music, and uploading straight from the camera. The new YouTube app is available for Android devices and the web, and will reach iOS devices soon.
Google today offered its Spotlight Stories app to the iPhone and iPad. Google Spotlight Stories began life on the Motorola Moto X as a 360-degree animated story. The app includes 2D/3D animations that take advantage of the iPhone's sensors to allow users to interact with them. At the moment, the stories are view-only; people can't create their own. Google Spotlight Stories only contains a few stories at the moment, but the selection is expected to grow over time. It is free to download from the iTunes App Store. The app has been available to Android devices since May.
Apple has made a second public beta of iOS 9 available to consumers. This test version of iOS is meant for people interested in trialling the operating system ahead of its scheduled fall release. iOS 9 adds a wide range of new features, and also streamlines the performance of Apple's mobile platform. Apple recently released a fourth iOS 9 beta for developers, and today's public beta builds on that foundation. In addition to stability improvements, the new public beta heralds the return of Home Sharing for music, which had been pulled in the iOS 8.4 release. The public beta is not meant for primary devices, and Apple recommends it be used only on secondary iPhones and iPads. It can be downloaded and installed over the air.
BlackBerry today said it has agreed to acquire AtHoc for an undisclosed sum. AtHoc provides secure crisis communications for businesses so they can push critical data in real-time during business- or life-threatening events. The AtHoc service can send alerts to any device, including iOS, Android, Windows, and Macs, as well as radios, IP phones, digital displays, and even sirens or speakers. Homeland Security and the Department of Defense are among AtHoc's customers. BlackBerry said it will integrate AtHoc's offering into its own portfolio of enterprise communications services. The deal gives AtHoc global reach to expand its business and helps round out BlackBerry's business offerings. BlackBerry said it expects to complete the deal during its fiscal third quarter.
Apple today released a fourth beta version of iOS 9 for developers. Apple typically tests major iOS versions for several months ahead of their general debut. Today's beta is for developers, and is not a new version of the consumer beta offered separately by Apple. The final version of iOS 9 isn't expect to arrive until September.
Google today said it has acquired Pixate, a service that lets developers create mobile app user interface prototypes for Android and iOS devices. Pixate was formed in Palo Alto in 2012 with the goal of helping developers more easily design apps. Pixate's team will be managed by Matias Duarte, head of design at Google. Pixate said its main product, Pixate Studio, is now free for developers to download. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
A consortium of three German automotive makers has agreed to purchase HERE Maps from Nokia for about $2.71 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sources familiar with Nokia's plans say Audi, BMW, and Daimler (Mercedes) have fielded a winning bid for the mapping division, which Nokia put up for sale earlier this year. By divesting the business unit, Nokia's chief remaining business will be providing telecommunications equipment to network operators. The car companies will run HERE Maps together, and plan to invite other car marks to invest in a stake if they wish. The three German car makers beat out Uber and private investors, which were also interested in HERE. Nokia bought mapping company Navteq in 2007 and rebranded its product HERE Maps. HERE Maps is a free app available to Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Nokia did not confirm the Journal's story.
Google has announced plans to shutter the Google+ Photos app and online service on August 1. Google+ Photos was a part of Google+, the search company's social network. Google+ Photos is being replaced by Google Photos, which Google launched earlier this year. Google said all Google+ Photos users' images and videos will be preserved, even if users don't port them to the new Google Photos service. Google Photos includes more features than Google+ Photos did, and offers unlimited storage for image libraries. People who've already updated to the newer Google Photos app and service don't need to take any action. Google Photos is free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store for Android and iOS devices, respectively.
Instagram today made it possible to search the desktop version of its web site. People can search for usernames, hashtags, and keywords when using Instagram.com. The web site is still not as full-featured as the Android and iOS mobile apps. Moreover, users need to be signed in in order for the search tool to appear. Instagram is free to use.
Microsoft today released updates to its OneNote application for the Android and iOS platforms. The Android version of OneNote gains the ability to move or copy pages from one section or notebook to another section or notebook. Microsoft said it will add the ability to view OneNote documents on Android Wear-based devices in the near future. The iOS version of OneNote has been merged from separate iPhone and iPad apps into a single app for both devices. New features include a widget for the today screen, the ability to quickly find recent notes, and page previews. OneNote for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
HBO today said its HBO Now streaming service is finally available to Android handsets and tablets. The service costs $14.99 per month and does not require an associated cable subscription. It launched in April on iOS and includes HBO's entire catalog of television and movie content. HBO Now is also available to Amazon's Fire-branded tablets beginning today, and will reach Amazon's Fire TV soon.
H5OS is a new mobile operating system that intends to challenge Google's Android. H5OS was developed by Acadine Technologies, a Hong Kong-based startup founded by former Mozilla President Li Gong. The operating system is based on HTML5, a standardized web programming language that can support light-weight apps. Acadine Technologies was formed in May and has raised $100 million in seed funding from Chinese supporters. Acadine's Gong doesn't expect H5OS to reach the market until 2016, but he believes it can supplant Android in certain device segments. "Our web-based mobile software is lighter and consumes less power and memory compared to Google's Android," said Gong in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "It requires lower hardware specifications to deliver the same user experience so it can bring down the smartphone cost. Another advantage is that H5OS is a truly open mobile ecosystem without default services like Google Maps and Google Search. We can work with any content and service providers, offering more customization options to device makers." Android is the global leader in mobile operating systems and Apple's iOS is a distant second. Windows Phone and BlackBerry hardly register, and other competitors, such as Jolla's Sailfish OS and Canonical's Ubuntu, have struggled to gain any significant traction. Gong believes H5OS can succeed in the ultra-low-cost smartphone and feature phone segments.
Google has recently delivered updates to a handful of its Android and iOS mobile apps. For example, Google Search and Google Drive for Android gained bug fixes and performance improvements; Gmail earned better support for Yahoo and Microsoft email services, including two-step authentication; Sheets and Slides garnered new ways to change layouts; and Maps now lets people send places they search for on Google Maps desktop to their mobile phone. On iOS, Google Drive was updated with bug fixes; Hangouts was given a new user interface for attachments and the ability to support multiple photos; Google Music added the recently-announced free radio features and the ability to create mood-based stations; and Play Movies & TV earned better thumbnails, with images that appear above the timeline to make seeking titles easier. All the apps are free to download from either the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft has indicated that it plans to discontinue a handful of mobile apps across Windows, Android, and iOS devices. The MSN Food & Drink and MSN Travel apps will be shuttered Sept. 28, and the Health & Fitness app will be closed Nov. 1. The content for the apps will still be available from MSN.com. Microsoft said the apps themselves have not attracted enough users to merit their upkeep. The apps will no longer be accessible after the cut-off dates, and Microsoft suggested users take the time to download and backup any personal information they may have stored in the apps. The app closures folllow significant personnel reductions planned for Microsoft's handset business and several key executive departures. Microsoft plans to focus on fewer phones moving forward, and, it appears, fewer apps, as well.
Apple today released a public beta of iOS 9. This release is different from the beta builds Apple releases to developers. The public beta for iOS 9 includes many of the new features, such as the News app, new fonts, transit directions in Maps, and low-power mode. Apple suggests people interested in testing the beta do so on older devices and not on primary phones or tablet. People will be able to revert to iOS 8.4 (as long as a proper backup is available) should iOS 9 be too buggy for use. Beta OS releases are inherently less stable than final releases and aren't recommended for everyone. Apple is allowing people to sign up for the beta on its web site. It is compatible with the iPhone 4s, 5, 5c, 5s, 6, and 6 Plus.
Facebook today announced new tools that allow people to fine-tune what they see in their News Feed. It has added a series of preferences that make it possible to select which friends and Pages appear at the top of the News Feed. Tapping a friend's profile picture, for example, will boost their posts to the top of the News Feed. Facebook also made it simpler to discover new Pages to follow through a dashboard with suggestions based on Pages the user has liked in the past. Last, Facebook updated some previously released tools that let users see a week's worth of posts from their top people, Pages, and groups. Moreover, users can unfollow and re-follow friends, Pages, and groups at any time. The redesigned News Feed controls are available to the iOS app beginning today, and will reach Android devices and the web in the weeks ahead.
Microsoft has rolled out updates to the Android and iOS Xbox Music apps that adds the ability to stream music stored in OneDrive. The free feature doesn't require a subscription, so people can upload songs to OneDrive and stream them to their Android or iOS device. The feature is already available to Windows Phone. Users will need to pay for an Xbox Music Pass to stream songs they don't own, but any music stored in OneDrive can be downloaded for offline playback. The update doesn't introduce the new Groove Music branding. Xbox Music is free to download from the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store.
ROK Mobile, a music-focused MVNO, today said it has significantly expanded coverage by partnering with "the nation's largest 4G LTE network." ROK Mobile didn't name its new partner, but said customers can now enjoy cellular network access in more places. The carrier has already partnered with Sprint and T-Mobile, so the new partner is either AT&T or Verizon Wireless. ROK also announced plans to expand its retail availability across the country this month. ROK Mobile services will be available at "independently owned and operated" mobile phone stores nationwide starting in a few weeks. ROK didn't name its retail partners, but said it plans to be in 10,000 locations by the end of the year. ROK Mobile bundles wireless and music streaming services together for $49.99 per month. For that, users get 5GB of LTE 4G, unlimited calling and messaging, and unlimited access to ROK's 20 million tracks. Consumers interested in ROK Mobile need to supply their own Sprint- or T-Mobile-compatible handset. The service works on Android and iOS devices through ROK's mobile app.
Google added several new functions to its Maps for iOS application through a recent update. The upgraded version of Maps offers redesigned and improved transit directions meant to aid the experience in cities. It includes more route choices and more accurate real-time arrival information. The app now shares better, too, thanks to integration with Facebook and Facebook Messenger. Last, Maps for iOS adds an image gallery for a quick visual understanding of new places. Google Maps for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Microsoft today revealed details about the music service for Windows 10, which is now called Groove Music. Groove will be available across XBox and Windows devices, including PCs, tablets, and smartphones. The $10 monthly fee buys ad-free access to 40 million tracks, which can be streamed across platforms. People will also be able to create their own, custom radio stations. Microsoft says Groove will support music libraries uploaded to OneDrive, including tracks purchased via iTunes. The service will also be made available to Android and iOS devices in the near future. Groove Music is expected to launch in the weeks ahead.
Instagram has confirmed that it will increase image resolution from 640 by 640 pixels to 1080 by 1080 pixels. Instagram's images have measured 640 pixels since launch. When the photo-sharing service first arrived, 640 pixels was appropriate based on screen and camera capabilities. Now that smartphones and tablets boast screen resolutions up to quad HD and cameras capturing 21-megapixels, the 640-pixel resolution was deemed inadequate. Instagram said the Android and iOS apps are being updated to upload 1080p images slowly, but would not say when all users will be able to see the higher-resolution imagery. The news was first reported by The Verge and later confirmed by CNET.
Google has updated the Android and iOS YouTube apps with support for 60 frame-per-second video playback. The higher frame rate is already supported via desktop browsers. YouTube is free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Facebook today said its Messenger-based, peer-to-peer mobile payment service is now available to everyone across the U.S. It was initially tested in New York City earlier this year. Messenger users need only add their MasterCard- or Visa-backed debit card to pay anyone else on Messenger. Money goes straight from the sender's checking account to the recipient's checking account. Sending money is free of transaction charges. Facebook says users can set up PINs to protect the service, and Apple device owners will be able to use TouchID to secure it. Sending money is possible from the Android, iOS, and web versions of Messenger.
Apple today made available iOS 8.4, a system update for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch that installs Apple Music. Apple Music is Apple's new streaming music service and is part of an all-new Music app for iOS devices. The service is being offered for free on a trial basis for three months, after which it will cost $10 per month for individuals or $15 per month for families. Apple Music offers unlimited, ad-free streaming and access to Beats 1, Apple's global radio station. iOS 8.4 also makes improvements to iBooks application, and resolves some performance issues. iOS 8.4 is free to download and install.
Google has refreshed its Hangouts app for the iOS platform and given the messaging service a new look and feel. The app now makes use of Google's Material Design and gains a new quick compose button for starting conversations. The app improves how it handles emoji, the camera, and the photo gallery. Hangouts now lets people send more than one photo at a time. Google says it also took care of some bugs and made some performance improvements. Hangouts is free to download from iTunes.
Facebook has updated the photo uploader in its iOS app and given users the ability to make creative edits as they go. The new uploader lets people preview and apply filters by swiping left and right, easily add text, and plaster images with stickers from the Facebook sticker store. The feature is not yet widely available, but it has appeared for a number of users. The new editing tools aren't yet available in the Facebook app for Android and it's not clear when they might show up. They are accessible from a tray of tools positioned at the bottom of the photo uploader screen.
Apple will distribute iOS 8.4 beginning at 8AM/11AM Pacific/Eastern on June 30, according to Apple Music Senior Director Ian Rogers. The updated operating system installs Apple Music, Apple's monthly music service. The service will be available for free on a trial basis for three months, after which it will cost $10 per month. June 30 also marks the launch of Beats 1, Apple's global radio station. iOS 8.4 will work with most iOS devices.
BlackBerry today pushed out an update to the Android, BlackBerry, and iOS versions of its BBM app and added several new features. The main new addition is a private chatting mode that strips conversations of names and profile pictures. Private conversations are also ephemeral and will disappear after a short while. The Private Chat tool is in the new Privacy and Control Subscription, which costs $0.99 per month. It also includes timed messages and timed pictures, and the ability to retract and edit messages and pictures. The Privacy and Control Subscription replaces the Timed and Retracted Messages Subscription. BlackBerry says existing subscribers will be transitioned over to the new service automatically. Other new functions include a new way to organize sticker collections and a "quote messages" tool for referencing previous messages. Last, the iOS version of BBM has updated font rendering. BBM is free to download from the Play Store, BlackBerry Store, and iTunes App Store.
Google today released an update to its Calendar app for iOS devices. To start, the app has a new 7-day view that gives users a glance of their weekly schedule, and now lets people more easily customize their weekly view. The app now lets people insert files from Goole Drive, such as Docs, Sheets, PDFs, or photos, as well. Calendar will make sure all invitees have access to the same set of files. Last, the app gives users the ability to send interactive notifications to other event attendees. Google Calendar for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Instagram today revealed a new version of its mobile app that introduces two significant changes. First, Instagram has reimagined the "explore" function to better reflect trending stories, conversations, and news. The explore function will now highlight things happening in real time, such as popular events. Second, Instagram has improved the search function to make it easier for people to find images of specific places. Search is also better at sifting through individual people as well as hashtags. Instagram believes the two changes together will improve the ability of users to find new and engaging content. Instagram 7.0 for Android and for iOS is due out later today. The app is free to download.
Google today updated its Google Music product to include free, ad-supported radio stations. The streaming radio service is offered at no cost and has a number of pre-set stations and mixes. Google says many of its stations are hand-curated and developed by the team at Songza, which Google purchased last year. Customers who upgrade to the paid version will be able to save their playlists for offline playback, as well as save up to 50,000 songs in their own library. The paid version does not include ads and costs $10 per month. Google said its free radio service will reach the web today and Android and iOS devices through an app update in the coming days. Google's new music model mirrors that of other streaming services that provide ad-supported playback for free and premium features to paying customers.
Twitter is testing new ways to surface content about locations and products that might interest users. First, it is experimenting with a feature called Place and Product pages. Twitter says these pages will feature images and video about places or products, including descriptions, web links, and purchasing options. The social network said it will display these details above tweets pertaining to that particular place or product. In addition to Product and Place pages, Twitter is testing other ways for users to connect with brands. It is letting a select bunch of "influencers" create collections of products and places they like and then share those collections with the broader public. The collections, mostly from celebrities, retailers, TV channels, and news organizations, can be accessed from the Twitter profile of whatever entity created the collection. Twitter is starting with a limited number of place and product pages and celebrity collections and will expand over time based on their success. Twitter said these changes will reach Twitter.com and the Android and iOS apps (via update) soon.
Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri said the company will tackle the mobile phone industry again once its non-compete clause with Microsoft expires next year. Nokia no longer owns any manufacturing facilities and will not make its own phones. The company did something similar with an Android-based tablet it released in December. "We will look for suitable partners," said Suri in an interview with the German magazine Manager Magazin. "Microsoft makes mobile phones. We would simply design them and then make the brand name available to license." Microsoft bought Nokia's handset business in 2014 for $7.2 billion. Just this week, Microsoft reshuffled its executive deck and removed two former leaders from Nokia, Stephen Elop and Jo Harlow. Neither Elop nor Harlow has said what their next steps will be. Microsoft's Windows Phone platform and Lumia-branded handsets continue to struggle in the market against Apple's iOS and Google's Android. The company is releasing a new mobile operating system, Windows 10 Mobile, this fall. Suri did not say if Nokia will use Android, Windows Phone, or some other platform for its future devices.
Twitter today said it will begin playing videos, GIFs, and Vines embedded in tweets automatically on the web and in the Android and iOS mobile apps. Users can choose to have videos play automatically all the time, only when on WiFi, or only when tapped by the user. By default, video sound will be off. Users who want to hear the the sound in any given video need only tap the video, which will expand and begin to play sound. Videos can also auto-rotate if the phone is turned on its side. The new auto-playing video feature will reach the web and iOS app today, with the Android app to follow in the near future.
The NFC Forum today provided an update to the core NFC specification. The update includes two new specifications and two new candidate specifications. The RTD Device Information 1.0 spec helps devices better identify one another and the NFC Analog Technical Specification 1.1 makes improvements to the analog characteristics of the RF interface. The NFC Logical Link Control Protocol Candidate Specification 1.3 provides greater security in peer-to-peer messaging. Last the NFC Controller Interface Candidate Specification 2.0 adds new RF interface extensions for optimized and scalable P2P and memory tag communication. This allows NFC devices to communicate with a broader range of devices and tags. The NFC Forum said the technical details can be downloaded from its web site. The candidate specs will remain will remain candidates pending feedback from Forum members and other standards organizations. NFC radios are often used in phones to initiate Bluetooth pairing or conduct mobile payment transactions.