Tag Archives: iPhone

Bing App on iPhone: iOS 8 Extensibility and Widgets in Action

On September 23, Microsoft detailed some of the new features delivered through the latest update of the Bing app on iPhone. With iOS 8, Apple did bulk up and two of the many features added were extensibility through sharing between apps as well as widgets on the notification screen.

The updated Bing app utilizes both of these features:

Bing Translator

With Bing Translator feature of the app installed as a supported shareable app in Safari, you can now instantly translate any web page in Safari. This feature is also of course available inside the Bing app itself, so if you need to translate search results it can be done within the app itself.

Bing App Translate
Bing App Translate
Bing Translate Share Sheet
Bing Translate Share Sheet
Bing App Extensibility iOS 8 Safari
Bing App Extensibility iOS 8 Safari
Bing App Translated Page
Bing App Translated Page

 

Today and Trending Topics widget

In addition to the translator, the Bing app now lets you choose Bing Today as a lock screen widget. This widget shows the Bing Image Of The Day, as well as three top trending topics. Clicking on the image leads to the front page inside the Bing app and clicking on any of the trending topics leads to the news items about those trending topics.

 

iOS 8 Lock Screen Widget Chooser
iOS 8 Lock Screen Widget Chooser
iOS 8 Bing Today Widget
iOS 8 Bing Today Widget

 

Microsoft has moved Bing’s value from a pure desktop web search engine to a vast pool of entities and relationships which get better as more people use the service. The more “end points” Bing has, the better the quality of the engine becomes. With this background it is easy to see why the Bing team would improve the Bing app for iPhone and jump on the latest technologies supported by the latest features of iOS.

Although most users who need to search on iOS can now use iOS 8’s updated Spotlight, it is still nice to use an app that lets you search not just the web, but also news, images, photos, videos, etc., and that’s what the Bing app lets you do.

Do you use the Bing app on iOS? Do you like the updates?

How To Install Third-Party Keyboard On iOS 8 Devices

We already love using third-party keyboards such as SwiftKey and Swype on Android devices. But, Apple never had the option of installing third-party keyboards on iOS devices. The recently launched iOS 8 comes with a number of interesting features, however the one that caught our attention is the ability to install and use third-party keyboards.

Third-party keyboards such as SwiftKey, Swype and Fleksy are already available on the App Store. You will just need to download these apps and follow the instructions given below to use it systemwide. These apps will create an icon on your homescreen just like the regular apps. After installing the app, follow these instructions:

  1. Launch the “Settings” application.
  2. Then select General.
  3. Scroll down to keyboards.
  4. Select Keyboards.
  5. Select Add new keyboard
  6. Then choose your favorite keyboard from the list

You can easily switch between keyboards just by tapping the globe icon on the keyboard. To disable the default keyboard, just swipe to left on the current keyboard. To protect your privacy, Apple won’t allow you to use third-party keyboards while entering passwords.

iOS 8 comes pre-loaded on the recently launched iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. You can even install these keyboards on the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Mini, iPad Mini 2 and the iPod Touch 5G after updating to iOS 8. If you have any queries, feel free to ask us in the comments section below.

Apple Moves Into a New Era With iPhone 6, Apple Pay, Apple Watch

iphone-6-front It was Apple Announcement Day on September 9, 2014. At Flint Center in Cupertino, the location where the late Steve Jobs unveiled the Mac 30 years ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook and other executives announced a slew of products and services which for all intents and purposes can be considered the new era for Apple. Having dominated the premium smartphone market and the tablet market with their iPhones and iPads, Apple is moving into wearables with their Apple Watch as well as into facilitating payments with their new service, Apple Pay. Oh, and they announced two new iPhones: the iPhone 6 with a size of 4.7″, and the iPhone 6 Plus with a size of 5.5″.

Apple Watch

Even though they announced the iPhones first, it was clear that Apple officials wanted to devote a lot of time to their new device in a brand new category. The name eschews the long-running “i” naming scheme, which is interesting by itself. The Apple Watch is not circular in shape like the just announced Moto360 and like most wrist watches, but instead, it is a rectangular touch screen watch with a flavor of iOS called Watch OS powering it. It comes in two sizes and its belt/strap is easily switchable, potentially creating a huge 3rd party opportunity for the same.

Apple Watch
Apple Watch
Apple Watch Edition
Apple Watch Edition
Apple Watch Sport
Apple Watch Sport

Although the Apple Watch requires an iPhone to use the GPS and WiFi to measure distances and such, it does have its own sensors to measure not just steps but also the intensity of your workouts. Besides keeping extremely accurate time (it continuously checks the global standard time), it also provides customizable watch faces which are not just skins. These watch faces provide further interactions and customizations, based on the specific face. For example, an “earth” based face could then provide the alignment of planets at that given time for that particular location, or another face that can show the next appointment on the calendar.

 

Apple Watch Faces
Apple Watch Faces

 

Of course, the big news here is the interaction mode. The Apple Watch has a “Digital Crown” which looks very much like the crowns on regular wrist watches. Instead of winding the watch, the Digital Crown helps in navigation: scrolling up and down, zooming in and out, etc. In addition, there is a button below the Digital Crown which acts similar to the Home button on iPhones, iPods and iPads, in that it returns you to the main home screen. The other innovation touted in the Apple Watch is the display, which is made in a way that it can detect the difference between a touch and a press. Depending on what it is, the Watch OS and the apps therein behave and react differently. The Apple Watch features a heart rate sensor which uses infrared and visible-light LEDs and photodiodes to detect your heart rate. It uses induction charging via a new magnet-based charger. Curiously, no mention was made of the expected battery life of the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Sensors
Apple Watch Sensors

Apple is also touting a new development kit called WatchKit which will enable developers to build (or extend) apps and utilize the new gestures as well as interaction modes. For example, actionable notifications are supported, but because of the much smaller real estate on the screen, they will need to be re-tooled.

Apple Watch Home Screen Apps
Apple Watch Home Screen Apps
Apple Watch Messages
Apple Watch Messages

Finally, Apple officials spent quite some time going over Digital Touch which is a new form of communication delivered in Apple Watch. With Digital Touch, you can doodle on the watch face and your friend can see it being drawn in real time and reply back with their own doodle. Digital Touch can also be used as a simple walkie-talkie. It also offers a way to just tap on the screen and send the tap to your friend, and finally, Digital Touch also allows you to capture your heartbeat for a few seconds and send that exact same pulse to your friends. I don’t know how much of this is gimmicky or truly useful but given the new paradigm, I suppose the message here is that the opportunity is endless.

Apple Watch Digital Touch
Apple Watch Digital Touch

 

Apple Pay

The other new category Apple entered is in the mobile payments. With Apple Pay, Apple now provides a way for customers of its phones to pay in stores and online without having to enter credit card and billing/shipping address details.

Apple Pay
Apple Pay

Apple Pay works with NFC in the real world (offline) and contactless payment processing machines. The NFC technology, combined with Touch ID, enable a seamless transaction without having to fumble around your wallet or purse looking for the right card and then signing papers and such.

Set up Apple Pay Passbook
Set up Apple Pay Passbook
Set up Apple Pay by Camera
Set up Apple Pay by Camera

Apple Pay works by setting up one’s various credit and debit cards (American Express, MasterCard and Visa have signed up in the US) in Passbook. This wallet is also made available to 3rd party apps securely. Neither the 3rd party nor the merchant has access to the actual card number or details. Instead of actually sending the credit or debit card numbers, Apple Pay instead sends a Device Account Number which is in turn stored in a new Secure Element chip only available in the new iPhone 6 devices and Apple Watch. Oh yes, the Apple Watch will support Apple Pay. Which means, you can pay using your watch and not even remove your phone from your pocket.

Apple Watch Apple Pay
Apple Watch Apple Pay

Besides the 3 big card networks, Apple has signed up most of the big banks that issue these credit cards and has also partnered with 220,000 stores which will be set up to accept Apple Pay payments sometime this Fall.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

The event started off with the introduction to the new phones. As expected and heavily leaked, Apple finally jumped to a larger screen iPhone but instead of introducing one new form factor, they went with two completely new form factors this year. iPhone 6 is the 4.7″ device and iPhone 6 Plus (a very Microsoft-ian name,  dare I say!) sports a 5.5″ screen.

 

iPhone 6
iPhone 6
iPhone 6 Plus
iPhone 6 Plus

 

Besides the size, the screen resolutions also differ: the iPhone 6 is at 1334×750 and the iPhone 6 Plus is at 1920×1080. The iPhone 6 Plus has a bigger battery and more importantly, it has Optical Image Stabilization which may support even better low-light pictures. Both the models now support faster LTE and wireless AC standard. Both have new camera sensors, although the megapixel count remains at 8MP. (I know, I know, it is not all about the megapixels, but I just wanted to make a mention.) The video camera in both the models now supports slow motion video at 240fps. Both the models also feature new processor and motion sensor chips, A8 and M8. In a surprise move, Apple went with 16GB, 64GB and 128GB storage models and not 32GB, 64GB and 128GB. iPhone 6 is priced at $199, $299, $399 respectively for those capacities, with a 2-year contract, and the iPhone 6 Plus is $100 higher across the board. Given the larger screen and the obsession at Apple of single-handed use, Apple introduced “Reachability” a feature which brings the top part of the screen halfway down so that one can reach it with their thumb. This is invoked by gently double-tapping the home button. Both the models also now include a barometer so the phone can track your elevation which can be helpful in fitness tracking apps. The new iPhones also support WiFi calling when the carrier supports it, so presumably one can start a call in the car on cellular and once they are home or in the office, switch to WiFi seamlessly to continue the call over WiFi. This is beneficial for those who are not on unlimited calling plans or if they have poor cellular signal in places they want to make a call from.

iPhone 6 Time Lapse Video Feature
iPhone 6 Time Lapse Video Feature

All of these announcements are huge in their own ways, but regardless of what you think about each of the products or service, it is clear that these are Tim Cook’s creations. The Steve Jobs era has been completely transitioned to the Tim Cook era. We may very well look at Apple Watch in a few years and realize it was the big turning point for Apple. The iPhone is clearly the center of the Apple universe, which is astounding because it is only seven years old as a product. Personally, I have stuck to the “s” releases of iPhones: 3GS because it introduced video (Blackberry had that forever!), 4S because of the much improved camera and speed/processor, and 5s because of Touch ID. I will continue that and wait for the 6S Plus next year. How about you?

Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 Developer Preview Is Here: Internet Explorer Even Better Now

Cortana Windows Phone 8.1 Update

As communicated by Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore on Windows Blogs on July 30, the first update to Windows Phone 8.1 is now rolling out to devices with the preview program. The update, simply called Windows Phone 8.1 Update (although it has been referred to as Update 1 too), brings Cortana to more markets in beta and alpha form, adds a Live Folders feature, adds a Live Tile to the Store icon, allows multiple SMS merge/delete operations, brings new Xbox Music app, adds a new feature called App Corner and increases privacy and security by enabling consumer-level VPN when connected to wifi hotspots.

Among the several unnamed changes and fixes are “hundreds of fixes” made to mobile Internet Explorer 11 to make it more compatible with the mobile web. The irony here is that on the desktop web developers had to code specifically for Internet Explorer 4 or 5 because it had several non-standard features. Now, Internet Explorer (both on the desktop and mobile) is promoting coding to web standards whereas web developers have catered their site for Webkit and specifically for iOS. This unfortunate reality made the Internet Explorer team re-think their strategy, and for their customers’ benefit, they made some tweaks to mobile IE that make it appear as an iOS browser to websites. Therefore, many sites which have browser sniffing enabled, will now provide the iPhone version of their site to mobile IE visitors as well.

As the blog post on Internet Explorer blog depicts, websites render very differently before and after this update:

 

Twitter on IE11 before update
Twitter on IE11 before update
Twitter on IE11 after update
Twitter on IE11 after update
Twitter on iPhone
Twitter on iPhone
Hawaiian Airlines before IE11 update
Hawaiian Airlines before IE11 update
Hawaiian Airlines after IE11 update
Hawaiian Airlines after IE11 update
Hawaiian Airlines iPhone
Hawaiian Airlines iPhone

 

After reading that blog post, I was very curious to see how Google’s websites render after this update. Another irony here is that Google, the company that beats the standards drums, has most of their properties coded for Webkit and/or detects mobile IE as a feature phone browser. The result is that GMail, Google News, etc. render very poorly.

I am happy to say that these changes in mobile IE11 do make the experience better, at least at first glance. See the comparisons below:

 

GMail before IE11 update
GMail before IE11 update
GMail after IE11 update
GMail after IE11 update
Google News before IE11 update
Google News before IE11 update
Google News after IE11 update
Google News after IE11 update
Google Calendar after IE11 update
Google Calendar after IE11 update
Google App Drawer after IE11 updateGoogle App Drawer after IE11 update
Google App Drawer after IE11 update

Apps Corner is much like Kids Corner where one can set one or a few apps to be available in a “corner” so when it is activated, no other apps are visible or accessible. This has good uses in the enterprise setting but it is clearly not only targeted to enterprises.

Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner Setup
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner Setup
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner Exit
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Apps Corner Exit

Live Folders is an interesting take on folders. Live Tiles have been a distinguishing feature of Windows Phone since it launched as Windows Phone 7. Instead of creating “dumb” folders which just hold the icons included in the folder, Live Folders presumably show the live tile contents of all the tiles included in the folders. This is neat because now you can reclaim some of the real estate on the Start Screen but not have to give up on one of the key features of the platform. It is also good to see that the icons included in the folders retain their tile size inside the folders, and the folder tile itself can be set to any size.

 

Windows Phone icons without Live Folders
Windows Phone icons without Live Folders
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Live Folders
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Live Folders
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Live Folders expanded
Windows Phone 8.1 Update Live Folders expanded

 

I don’t see how I can enable the consumer VPN feature, but that sure sounds extremely useful if I understand it correctly, which is, when connected to wifi hotspots, one would be connected to a VPN server right away. I may have misunderstood the feature so I will wait on reserving judgement until I actually find out more, or experience it myself when I connect to a public hotspot.

Have you downloaded the update? What are your thoughts?

The New Budget iPhone Might be Called the iPhone 5C

The rumor mills have been churning about the budget iPhone for a long time. However, the flurry of recent leaks suggests that something is definitely cooking. Apple has been put under pressure by the massive popularity of budget smartphones from the likes of Samsung, Sony, and LG. The Cupertino based giant is widely expected to finally relent to market pressure and release a cheaper iPhone later this year.

iPhone-5C-Budget-Leaked-Picture

The new budget iPhone is expected to forgo expensive glass and aluminum body in favor of a cheaper poly-carbonate shell. A couple of days back, a blurry-cam pic of the purported budget iPhone with its FCC id was leaked. Now, a new snap from a Chinese blog suggests that the new iPhone will be called the iPhone 5C.

iPhone-5C-Budget-Packaging

All of the boxes in the picture above are pristine white and only have Apple’s logo besides the name of the phone. This fits in with Apple’s simplistic design ethos. In fact, they look quite similar to the 4rth generation iPod Touch boxes. However, the overly glossy surface that looks anything but elegant, and the slightly large dimensions (7-8 inches thick) raise doubts. Take this news with a generous serving of salt. We’ll surely learn more in the coming days and weeks through the inevitable leaks.

Skydrive App Update on iOS Finally Live

On April 3, Mike Torres announced on Windows Blogs that the SkyDrive app for iOS was updated to v3.0 and was available in the iTunes store.

Some of the changes and additions in this update are:

  • Support for iPhone 5 and iPad Mini
  • Updated app icons and user experience
  • Works better with your photos:
    • Download full resolution photos to your iPhone or iPad
    • Control the size of photos you upload and download
    • Photo metadata is retained when you upload to SkyDrive
  • Opening and saving files to SkyDrive works better with other apps on your iOS devices
  • Many other small changes, bug fixes and performance improvements
SkyDrive on iPhone 5
SkyDrive on iPhone 5

Given that the last update to the app was about a year ago, this news is very welcome for those who use SkyDrive.

What was not mentioned in the change log was that the option to buy additional storage on SkyDrive has been removed. This is because as per Apple’s App Store policies, if any app provides such functionality or even a link to their own site, the company has to pay 30% fee to Apple.

In fact, it is widely believed that the app was held back from being released because the negotiations between Microsoft and Apple were not going anywhere. Microsoft was trying to convince Apple that this is a special case and they should not be charged the 30% fee for the functionality. Clearly, Apple did not budge and Microsoft had to remove the link.

However, the silver lining here is now that Microsoft has published the SkyDrive app, we may not be too far away from Office on iOS making its appearance. The generally believed theory among those who watch Microsoft is that Office on iOS (specifically, iPad) is going to be free apps with read-only functionality unless a user has a Office 365 subscription. If they sign in with their Microsoft account tied to the subscription, they will be able to edit the Office files on iPhone and iPad. Given how important the “real” Office is for consumers and enterprises alike, it is natural that Microsoft would not want to pay 30% of the entire Office 365 subscription fee to Apple. Here’s hoping there was a good deal worked out between Cupertino and Redmond so end users like us can finally see Word, Excel, PowerPoint (and wishfully thinking, Outlook) on the iPad.

Do you use SkyDrive? Do you use it on iPhone/iPad? What do you think of the latest update? Let me know!

 

Image courtesy Microsoft from the Windows Blogs

Apple Seeds iOS 6.1.1 Beta 1 To Developers

Days after Apple released iOS 6.1 to iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch owners, the Cupertino based company has released iOS 6.1.1 beta for developers. Apple states that the first beta of iOS 6.1.1 brings with it major enhancements to the Maps app along with the Maps data for Japan.

Below is the full change-log of the update from 9to5Mac -:

  • Improved pronunciation of roads during turn-by-turn navigation
  • Optimized directions to more strongly prefer highways over narrower roads
  • Now indicates upcoming toll roads during turn-by-turn navigation
  • Added labels for junctions, interchanges, on-ramps, off-ramps, and intersections
  • Added indicators for transit station buildings, subway lines, and traffic lights
  • Updated freeway color to green
  • Updated icons for some location categories including fire stations, hospitals, and post offices Added 3D buildings including Tokyo Station, Japan Imperial Palace, and Tokyo Tower

At the moment it is unknown whether Apple has patched the exploit on which the latest jailbreak – evasi0n -was based on. Either ways, if you have jailbroken your iOS 6.1 running iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, stay away from installing the beta firmware on it.

 

Apple Releases iOS 6.1; Brings LTE Support And New Lockscreen Music Controls

Just a couple of days after releasing the fifth beta of iOS 6.1, Apple has released the final build of iOS 6.1 to consumers. Besides fixing some bugs, the latest iOS update brings LTE support in 36 different regions of the world including Italy, Denmark and Finland.

The update also showers some love on Siri, and allows iOS users in the United States to purchase movie tickets directly from their virtual assistant. Other changes include new lock screen music controls, and the ability to download individual songs from iTunes Match directly on your iPhone, iPod or iPad.

Apple TV owners can now also use a Bluetooth keyboard, thereby greatly enhancing their experience. On the developer side, Apple has released new APIs in iOS 6.1 that will allow developers to better integrate Apple’s Maps in their app

The iOS 6.1 is available for iPhone 3GS or higher, iPad 2 or above, and the fourth-generation iPod Touch or newer.

Fifth iOS 6.1 Beta Build Released To Developers

Today, Apple released the fifth beta of iOS 6.1 for developers for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation iPad, the iPad mini, and the iPhone 3GS/4/4S and 5.

Surprisingly, according to the hacker community, the fifth beta can be activated “without developer registration and has no release keys.” If Apple wants, it can very well release the fifth beta of iOS 6.1 to the consumers as the final version without making any changes. The beta also carries the build ID of a final iOS 6, and not that of a beta build.

iOS 6.1 will bring with it the ability to purchase movie tickets via Siri in the United States, new lock screen music controls, and the ability to easily report issues in the iOS6 Maps app. Other changes include the option to download music from the iTunes store over a mobile data connection, enhanced iCloud setup and other minor tweaks and enhancements.

Via – 9to5Mac

Apple Promotes ‘Do Not Disturb’ in TV Ad

Today, Apple posted a new television ad featuring iOS’s “Do Not Disturb” feature. Professional tennis players Serena and Venus Williams are shown playing ping-pong against the narrator in a dream:

Ever had a really cool dream? I’m having one right now. I don’t want to be disturbed. And I won’t because before I went to sleep, I set this. Now my iPhone knows not to ring unless its important. Cause disturbing this would just be… Wrong.

In my opinion, the ad is alright and Apple can do much better. Ironically, as MacRumors notes the ad was released on the same day that a bug in the scheduled Do Not Disturb feature prevented it from turning off on many iPhones.