Senior Editor at 9to5Mac.Follow @markgurman
Mark has been at 9to5Mac for over three years, covering Apple and other topics related to the technology industry.
Twitter is getting serious about messaging today. The social network has begun rolling out updates to its iOS, Mac, and Android apps, in addition to TweetDeck and its website, that remove the long-existing 140 character limit from individual direct messages. This change will roll out over the course of the next few weeks, so all users may not see the change immediately. The old 140 character limit for messages will remain for Tweets sent publicly and direct messages sent via SMS.
Google today has released its first application for the Apple Watch in the form of an update to its iOS Google News & Weather app. Launched last fall, Google News & Weather iOS populates local weather and news headlines. On the Apple Watch, based on the screenshots from iTunes, the application pretty much serves the same purpose. Like many other Apple Watch apps based on WatchKit, this new Google application does not appear to be anything special. The screenshots display a bland, text-filled application that is light on functionality…
November 6, 2014
Amazon today announced a new hardware product called Echo. It’s essentially a speaker unit dedicated to being a voice-control system. It kind of sounds like Google Now but in a speaker for a single room instead of in your Android smartphone, tablet, or watch.
You can set alarms, control music, ask about the weather, search the web, ask questions, and access local news. It streams content via Bluetooth and WiFi, and connects to the Fire Phone (if you have one), iOS via the browser, Android, and desktop computers via the web. Instead of “Okay Google,” you say “Alexa” to start speaking the device. You’ll need a Fire OS/Android device to take full advantage.
The whole concept is very futuristic, and it’s unclear how beneficial this will be to people with voice-controlled phones. But, hey, this comes from the developers of a faux-3D phone, so this is not completely out of left field. The Echo is $99 for Amazon Prime users, $199 for everyone else, and (for some reason) you need an invitation to receive the honor to buy one of these things.
October 14, 2014
Microsoft has just joined the ranks of companies looking to capitalize on the success of ephemeral messaging apps like Snapchat. Through its Skype division, the company has launched a new cross-platform app for iOS, Android, and (of course) Windows Phone called Skype Qik. The premise of the application, as can be seen in the video above and screenshots below, is simple: you can record a quick video, and then share it to either one person in your address book or multiple groups of people.
By default, videos will expire after two weeks, and you can also un-send messages at any time. A cool feature of Skype Qik is the ability to pre-record various 5 second GIFs that you can send as instant replies. So, if you don’t have the ability to send a live video reply, you can just choose one of your pre-record defaults. The app is free today on the aforementioned platforms, and Microsoft says that updates, such as one for blocking iPhone contacts (that feature is available today on Android and Windows Phone), will come often to enhance the feature-set.
You can view some screenshots of the Android app in action below:
July 29, 2014
Earlier this month, Microsoft-owned Skype rolled out a group video calling feature to Windows tablets. The free video calling allows for calls with up to ten people, and integrates with Skype on the desktop, which has supported group video calling since April.
Today, Skype tells us that the group video calling feature will be coming to all of its mobile platforms in the future:
We’re excited about Skype group video calling and are working to bring it to more of our platforms. In the future, we’ll be enabling group video calling for all our users across more platforms – at no cost
Unfortunately, the company could not yet provide a more specific rollout timeframe. Skype has been rapidly releasing new products over the past several months, with a major redesign of the Skype iPhone app arriving a couple of months ago.
July 27, 2014
Amazon could be preparing to launch its own mobile credit card reading hardware in the coming weeks, according to internal Staples documents hinting at such a launch that we’ve obtained. According to the documents, Staples stores will prepare next month to stock a new product called the “Amazon Card Reader” alongside existing card readers from Square, PayPal, and Staples’ own in-house brand. The small hardware, which will likely connect to smartphones to process payments, will cost $9.99, according to the Staples internal sales systems…
July 23, 2014
Flesky, a popular third-party keyboard option for Android, is rolling out version 3.0 that brings a refreshed user-interface design, new premium features, and more languages. Fleksy makes typing on smartphones quicker using a combination of advanced text prediction and an iOS QuickType-like function for predicting the next complete word in a sentence.
Today’s refreshed design brings clearer letters and new color tones. Besides the included color variations, users of the paid version of Fleshy from Google Play will be able to purchase additional themes through the keyboard’s settings. There will be six paid themes, and paid Fleksy users will receive one premium download at no cost. Fleksy is also bringing 17 new languages out of beta and enhancing the 40 previously available languages.
July 17, 2014
Google has added yet another official application to its iOS App Store portfolio: Google Analytics. Analytics is Google’s popular service that allows website owners to manage and view data such as page views, demographics, and the technologies users utilize to access the website. The iPhone app also has the neat Real Time reports feature that allows website owners to view how many people are on the website at the current time. Google launched an optimized version of the Analytics app last year on Android and debuted a related AdWords app on iOS just last week. Like all Google apps, the Analytics program is on the the App Store for free.
July 10, 2014
Amazon is now a part of the Federal Trade Commission’s investigations into technology corporations with mobile application marketplaces unlawfully billing parents for in-app-purchases. Both Apple and Google have been tangled in the allegations with Apple settling earlier this year and Apple telling the FTC to investigate Google. The FTC today announced it is filing a complaint against Amazon, saying that children have been able to buy goods and extras within apps without the consent of parents. The full release from the FTC can be found below:
June 23, 2014
Microsoft is making notable improvements to its storage offerings for its OneDrive cloud-based service. The company is announcing today that OneDrive storage at the free tier will be more than doubled, Office 365 storage will see a major increase, and that there will be storage price drops across the board. Here are the three main announcements in more detail:
These price changes automatically go into effect today for current users. The shift is notable because OneDrive’s free storage tier now matches Google’s 15GB Google Drive and other cloud services. OneDrive’s 100GB storage plan also now matches Google’s at $1.99 per month. Google also offers much larger storage plans than Microsoft, which can be seen below:
June 17, 2014
Just over a year ago, Nike announced that it would not be developing a FuelBand application and compatibility for Android devices. Now, times have changed. Nike has just announced that it is bringing Fuel to Android and it can be found on Google Play.
Here are the features:
NikeFuel Daily Goal – Create a goal, edit and view progress toward that goal.
Sessions – Track deliberate periods of movement, such as workouts and games, by starting and ending a Session on the Nike+ FuelBand SE. Review session data afterward for a focused analysis of movement. Users can calibrate and share sessions via Nikeplus.com.
Move Reminders and Win The Hour – Users can set up Move Reminders on their Nike+ FuelBand SE so they will remember to get moving for five minutes out of every hour. The Nike+ FuelBand App allows users to track their success with Win The Hour stats.
NikeFuel Leaderboards – Compare data with friends and the community by using Nike+ Friends and the NikeFuel community.
Activity and Session History – Analyze past activity data to see progress and patterns.
NikeFuel Daily Goal Recognition – When a goal is achieved, an onscreen celebration will appear.
Automatic Syncing – Bluetooth LE seamlessly syncs Nike+ FuelBand data to a compatible Android handset.
Profile and Settings – View and edit Nike+ account information and Nike+ FuelBand SE device settings on the app.
The launch of the app comes as Nike winds down development of FuelBand hardware and as its engineers get poached by other hardware makers like Google and Apple.
June 16, 2014
After launching on the iPad nearly a year ago, Parallels is today launching Parallels Access on Android tablets and smartphones running version 4.0 or newer. Parallels Access is a remote desktop client that allows you to access your Mac or PC via the touchscreen of your Android device. The software is also launching today on the iPhone and bringing new enhancements to the iPad.
In our review of the iPad version last year, we noted how blown away we were with the speed and performance of Parallels Access. The software makes accessing and using a computer via the iPad’s touchscreen a breeze, and it provides a huge convenience factor for those times when you need to access something on your home computer but do not have the machine with you.
The application is far and above other remote desktop client applications because of its integration with Android, iOS, OS X, Windows, its speed, and its overall reliability. Parallels Access utilizes gestures, Android’s native keyboard with editing, “SmartMagnification” and “SmartTap” to make the computer feel responsive and alive on your Android device. The application allows you to use your Mac swiftly and connects over the internet…
June 11, 2014
After months of negotiations between Amazon and the record labels, Amazon Prime Music, the Kindle maker’s streaming music service, has just gone live on the web. The service, Amazon says, has “over a million songs and hundreds of playlists. The service is exclusive to Amazon Prime members, but you can start listening now with a 30 day free trial. The service is unlimited and ad-free, unlike Apple’s iTunes Radio but like Beats Music, but the promised mobile apps for tablets and phones do not yet seem to be available. That may be because the official launch of Prime Music is only expected to occur tomorrow…
May 27, 2014
We’re live on the scene at the Code Conference, and now that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has finished up his interview and demonstration, Google co-founder and Google[X] leader Sergey Brin has entered the hot seat. Re/code’s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher are interviewing Brin, and you can find our live updates from the interview below:
May 21, 2014
According to multiple sources, Facebook will unveil a new service today that can identify television shows and music playing in the background. The new software, which will be available via an updated App Store app on iPhone and a Google Play app on Android, will work in tandem with your smartphone hardware’s microphone. Facebook is said to be integrating the feature so Facebook users can more easily share what music they are listening to or what TV show they are currently watching to their Timelines. In iOS 8, Apple will unveil a new Siri feature in partnership with Shazam to identify songs playing in the background.
Update: Official announcement after the break… expand full story
May 20, 2014
Google has issued an XE 17.2 software update for Google Glass. The update focuses exclusively on improvement how the hardware handles low battery life situations. The above animated photo shows the new feature in action:
Among various bug fixes, this release better handles instances when Glass is extremely low on power. One thing you might notice is a new screen with a red flashing low battery indicator when Glass doesn’t have enough power to turn on and needs to be plugged in.
Last week’s XE 17.1 updated focused on bug fixes, performance enhancements for the Camera application, and improvements to the hardware touchpad on the side of the wearable device.
May 15, 2014