iOS 8 Translator Keyboard Introduces Easy Access Language Translation Capabilities

With iOS 8 bringing support for system wide third-party keyboards for the first time, developers have been coming up with creative ways to introduce new functionality to the keyboard, beyond simply making it quicker to type.

Translator Keyboard is a new third-party keyboard designed to allow users to quickly translate their text from one language to another, without the need for a separate translation app.
Translator Keyboard is able to provide a much simpler experience than the copy-paste workflow that many translation apps have had to settle for in the past. As well as making translation quicker and more convenient, Translator Keyboard is the perfect tool for bite-size translation, such as iMessaging colleagues abroad, participating in online chat or discussions in another language, or skypeing with those from another country.
To use Translator Keyboard, users simply need to select the language they plan to type in and a second language to translate to. A small bar above the keyboard displays what's being typed as it as entered, and when a sentence is complete, hitting the return button will submit it to be translated.

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Translation from one language to another takes just a few seconds and the translated text is inserted directly into the text field. In Messages, for example, a user could type a sentence like "Hello, how are you?" in English, translate it to Spanish using the keyboard, and the person receiving the message would see only "Hola, ¿cómo estás?"

The app allows users to translate to 44 different languages and translate from 30 different languages, and switching between languages is done with a simple swipe on the keyboard.

Translator Keyboard is built using the Microsoft Translate API, and for that reason, it requires users to enable "Allow Full Access" because typed text is submitted for online translation. A privacy section within the app states that all text submitted for translation will be kept private and will not be stored or shared.

The app has built-in autocorrection that allows users to tap on a word that has been miscorrected to pull up a list of other possible word suggestions, which can be useful when attempting to type a word that needs a special character. More often, though, autocorrect makes it difficult to type in a language that is not English as every other word has to be fixed, slowing typing considerably. Disabling autocorrect is not currently possible, but according to the developer, the option will be added in a future update.

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Along with autocorrect issues, there are a few minor problems with the keyboard, such as its inability to allow users to backspace or delete content in the main text field (deleting something that's been entered requires switching to another keyboard), but it provides a useful way to conduct a conversation in two different languages via an app like Messages or make quick translations in an app like Notes.

Translator Keyboard can be downloaded from the App Store for $1.99. [Direct Link]

Verizon Reverses Course on Plan to Throttle Unlimited LTE Customers

Verizon today released a statement letting customers know that it no longer plans to throttle users who still have a grandfathered unlimited data plan that allows for unlimited LTE data usage.

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Verizon is committed to providing its customers with an unparalleled mobile network experience. At a time of ever-increasing mobile broadband data usage, we not only take pride in the way we manage our network resources, but also take seriously our responsibility to deliver exceptional mobile service to every customer. We've greatly valued the ongoing dialogue over the past several months concerning network optimization and we've decided not to move forward with the planned implementation of network optimization for 4G LTE customers on unlimited plans. Exceptional network service will always be our priority and we remain committed to working closely with industry stakeholders to manage broadband issues so that American consumers get the world-class mobile service they expect and value.
Verizon's LTE data throttling, first announced in July, was set to go into effect today. It would have seen the top five percent of unlimited data users throttled at times of peak usage, which Verizon referred to as "Network Optimization."

Verizon's plan to throttle its customers sparked quite a bit of interest from the FCC, with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler sending the carrier a letter saying he was "deeply troubled" by the decision. Wheeler also questioned the legality of Verizon's throttling plans and though Verizon responded and its usage restrictions were permitted under current law, it appears the carrier has decided not to go through with its plans due to the response from both the FCC and its own customers.

While Verizon won't be throttling high-usage LTE customers, it has long restricted 3G data usage for unlimited users. Other carriers, such as AT&T, have also implemented LTE usage restrictions for grandfathered unlimited plans, and while the FCC is now questioning all carriers on their network management policies, no other changes have been announced.

Apple Updates 'Apple Store' App With iPhone 6 Support

Apple today updated its Apple Store app for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, adapting the app for the two larger-screened devices. The new version of the app also includes an iOS compatibility update.

While the iPhone 6 update doesn't bring a lot of visual changes, it has a much cleaner look due to the fact that it's no longer artificially zoomed in, as seen in the comparison screenshot below.

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After iPhone 6 update on left, before iPhone 6 update on right

Apple's last major update to the Apple Store app came in early September, redesigning the look of the app and making it easier for users to make purchases.

The Apple Store app can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Verizon Offers Double the Data for 'MORE Everything' Plans

Following in the footsteps of AT&T and Sprint, Verizon today announced a promotion to expand the amount data available through its MORE Everything plans.

Customers on the 12GB plan will now get 15GB of data for the same $110 per month, while customers on the 16GB plan will now get 30GB of data for $130. Verizon has increased available data across the board, delivering up to double the data for consumers at no additional cost.

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"We know that no matter how much data you have, it's only as good as the network it's on, and Verizon Wireless' network is second to none," said Ken Dixon, chief marketing officer at Verizon Wireless. "We know our customers -- from families to businesses -- crave more data to help them keep up with their busy lifestyles, and these new promotions, together with other offers like our industry-leading trade- in program, give them even more during the month of October."
Customers will be able to get the expanded MORE Everything plans beginning on October 2, with customers able to sign up through October 31.

Sprint Responds to AT&T's Promotion With Its Own Double Data Deal

Sprint today announced it is increasing data plan allowances for higher-tier customers in an attempt to compete with AT&T, which recently launched a new promotion that doubles the data available to some subscribers. Sprint also is waiving its existing monthly device access fee until 2015 for new customers. Sprint's double data promotion is available to new and existing customers who sign up by October 31.

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Sprint's offer extends to its existing 32GB, 40GB and 60GB Family Share Packs, which cost $130, 150 and $225, respectively. Starting today, customers who sign up for the promotion will receive 60GB, 80GB, or 120GB of data at no extra cost. Similar increases are available to corporate customers on a Business Share plan. Customers can call Sprint customer care or visit a retail store to take advantage of this offer.

Sprint recently introduced its new Sprint Family Share Pack that allows customers to share data across multiple devices. Customers pay a fixed price for an allotment of data that is accessible by up to 10 devices. Besides the monthly data fee, customers also pay a monthly access fee for each device connected to the account. Each plan includes unlimited calling and messaging.

Related roundups: iPhone 6, iPad Air

iPhone 5c Topped UK Smartphone Sales Charts Ahead of iPhone 6 Launch

Smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech (via Business Insider) indicates consumer interest in the iPhone 5c remained strong in the UK ahead of the iPhone 6 announcement, with the lower-cost phone actually becoming the top-selling smartphone in the country for the month of August.

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Kantar Worldpanel ComTech

According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, Apple's share of smartphone sales in the UK fell just 1.6 percentage points between July and August, with strong sales of the iPhone 5c helping to prop up overall sales just ahead of the iPhone 6 launch.
Apple has managed to limit the drop this year with its share of sales dipping just 1.6 percentage points versus July this year - almost half the equivalent drop seen in 2013 ahead of the iPhone 5 launch. This has in part been achieved through focusing on the iPhone 5c which tends to attract a slightly less tech savvy buyer who will be less likely to be holding off for the iPhone 6. The iPhone 5c was the best selling phone in Britain in August with 8.9% share, outselling the flagship iPhone 5s with 7.6% and the Samsung Galaxy S5 with 6.0%.
This sales momentum for the iPhone 5c is not expected to impact future iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sales, however, as an estimated four million iPhone owners -- one-third of all iPhone owners in the UK -- are eligible for upgrade this year.

Apple released the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last month, with strong consumer interest generating record-breaking pre-order and first weekend sales. Apple has struggled to supply enough handsets to meet consumer demand with shipping times slipping to seven to ten days for the iPhone 6 and three to four weeks for the 6 Plus.

Related roundup: iPhone 6

Pokemon Trading Card Game Now Available for iPad with Online Multiplayer

The Pokemon Trading Card Game (TCG) Online has officially launched for the iPad following its debut at the Pokemon World Championships in August.

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The title is the first licensed Pokemon game to be released for iOS, and allows players to build a deck of Pokemon cards and battle against other players while obtaining booster packs. Users can also enter tournaments for prizes, and customize the look of their cards, deck boxes, and avatar.
PLAY, TRADE, AND CHALLENGE OTHER PLAYERS AROUND THE WORLD
Have fun learning and mastering the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online! Practice against the computer or go head to head with your friends or other players from around the world. Unlock cards and decks as you play to build up your collection and make truly unique decks. Your decks and card collection are stored as a part of your Pokémon Trainer Club account, allowing you to switch between iPad and desktop with ease.

EASY TO START: Choose from Grass, Fire, or Water decks, step right into a game, and learn as you go in an easy play experience.

EXPAND YOUR COLLECTION: Earn cards, open booster packs, trade with other players, and build the perfect deck around your favorite cards. Your collection grows with you!

CUSTOMIZE YOUR EXPERIENCE: Build your own decks, customize the look of your cards, deck boxes, and avatar, and join your friends online.
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Pokemon TCG Online is a free app for all Retina Display-equipped iPads and can be downloaded through the App Store. [Direct Link]

iPhone 5 Battery Replacement Program Now Includes Models with Third-Party Displays

Apple's iPhone 5 Battery Replacement Program now covers iPhone 5 models that had their displays replaced with third-party components, according to a new posting on Apple's GSX site for service providers that was brought to MacRumors' attention.

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Previously, iPhone 5 models that had their displays replaced were barred from receiving a brand new battery replacement from Apple. The company generally did not replace batteries in devices that might have seen damage due to liability issues and required phones with damaged displays to correct that issue before progressing.

Additionally, Apple's refusal to replace batteries in phones with new displays likely saw some contention amongst those who purchased refurbished iPhone 5 models and had not personally had any work done on the device.

Foxconn Hiring More Workers to Help with Strong Demand for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

Foxconn has begun another large-scale hiring effort for its factories in Shenzhen and Zhengzhou in order to help out with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus production, reports Digitimes.

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Because working on assembly lines is no longer as attractive as before for workers in China, Foxconn is having issues recruiting sufficient numbers of workers. The company has been hosting hiring events recently to maintain its manpower, the sources added.
The report notes that Apple's goal to launch its new handsets in 115 countries by the end of 2014 also pushed Foxconn to start another round of large-scale hiring. The company was previously said to be bringing on 100,000 new employees in June ahead of the iPhone 6 launch.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus went on sale in the first wave of countries on September 19 and saw expanded availability to more countries last Friday, September 26. Overall demand for the new devices has been greater than supply to this point, as Apple's Online Store still shows a 7-10 day shipping estimate for new iPhone 6 orders and a 3-4 week delay for new iPhone 6 Plus orders in the U.S.

Apple Receives Second and Final License Needed to Start iPhone 6 Sales in China

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has given Apple the second and final regulatory license it needs to begin selling the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in China, reports Reuters. Apple received the first regulatory license from the Chinese government earlier this month, and it is now likely that both new handsets will launch in the country soon.

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A supposed internal memo addressed to Apple retail employees in China spotted yesterday stated that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus would go on sale starting October 10. The iPhone 6 originally launched in the first wave of countries on September 19, and was made available in additional countries last Friday, September 26.

Apple will likely be selling the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus through China's three biggest wireless carriers, which include China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom. Apple is nine months into its deal with China Mobile, as the partnership between the two companies was announced last year. When speaking about the deal this past January, CEO Tim Cook stated that he was "incredibly optimistic" about the partnership and how it would help Apple grow its presence in the region.

Related roundup: iPhone 6

Jawbone Launches HealthKit-Enabled 'Up' App Featuring Personalized Fitness Advice

Jawbone has launched its new Up app for the iPhone, which utilizes Apple's Health app and HealthKit to track and deliver advice based on a user's diet and physical activity. Not to be confused with Jawbone's other Up app, this newest app does not require the company's fitness tracker and works with over a hundred apps and devices, including MyFitnessPal, Strava Running and Cycling, IFTTT, and more.

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Information from meals logged throughout the day can be used to help generate nutritional advice, while data from workouts can be used to help set goals for the future. The Up app also allows users to log their sleep, which can be analyzed and used to provide advice on future sleep adjustments. All of the advice generated is powered by Jawbone's Insight Engine, which works with both recorded data and data from the Internet to deliver information on a variety of fitness-related subjects.

The app also includes a number of social functions, including the ability to add friends to a "team" to compare and track fitness scores and goals. Users can also set their own goals within a team and receive notifications when progress is being made. Insights generated by the Up app can also be shared through email, message, Facebook, and Twitter.

Up by Jawbone is a free app for the iPhone and can be downloaded in the App Store. [Direct Link]

iOS 8 Safari Supports Animated PNG Images

Animated_PNG_example_bouncing_beach_ballWith the release of iOS 8, Safari has gained the ability to display Animated PNGs (APNGs). Originally proposed in 2004 as a replacement to animated GIF images, APNGs offers more color and transparency support over GIFs.
The Animated Portable Network Graphics (APNG) file format is a non-standard extension to the Portable Network Graphics (PNG) specification. It allows for animated PNG files that work similarly to animated GIF files, while supporting 24-bit images and 8-bit transparency not available for GIFs. It also retains backward compatibility with non-animated PNG files.
The APNG specification, however, was rejected by the PNG group in 2007, so support for the format has been rather limited. In fact, the format has been declared dead due to the lack of official adoption. Firefox was the only major browser that provided standard support for APNG, until iOS 8.

The beach ball image in this article is animated when viewed in iOS 8 or Firefox. Edit: and OS X Yosemite.

Thanks Parasprite