Dropbox for iOS Gains Document Scanner, Other Productivity Improvements

Dropbox today announced a range of new productivity improvements designed to "simplify, unify, and secure" Dropbox workflows.

New to Dropbox's mobile apps, including Dropbox for iOS, is a built-in document scanner that uses an iPhone or iPad's camera to capture photos of whiteboards, notes, receipts, sketches, and more, converting them into documents that can be stored in Dropbox.

Like many iOS-based scanning apps, Dropbox's scanning tool will automatically detect the outline of the item being scanned and it offers editing tools for straightening, adjusting contrast, adding additional pages, and converting to black and white. Dropbox for Business users have additional scanning features at their disposal, including optical character recognition to convert scans into searchable text.


Improved Microsoft Office integration allows iOS users to create a Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Excel file by clicking a new plus button, simplifying the process of working on documents while on the go. Camera uploads are also being tweaked and going forward, Dropbox Basic users who want to continue to use the feature will need to install the Dropbox desktop app for management purposes.

On the desktop, there are new options to right click on a file or folder in the Mac Finder to share files from the desktop, and there are options for adding comments to a specific part of a file. Version history keeps multiple versions of a file in case a mistake is made, and there are better options for sharing with a select group of people.

Dropbox for the desktop is available from the Dropbox website at no cost. Dropbox for iOS can be downloaded from the App Store, also for free. [Direct Link]

Tag: Dropbox

NASA Launches Official Apple TV App Featuring Real-Time View of Earth

NASA has launched its official app for the fourth-generation Apple TV, joining the app's popular iOS versions on iPhone and iPad, which have been downloaded over 17 million times.

The Apple TV app lets users watch high-definition live streams from NASA TV, and allows them to enjoy a real-time view of the Earth from the International Space Station.

NASA app
The app also informs users of their next opportunity to view the ISS and other NASA satellites as they pass overhead, based on user location.

The app has several other features, including a slideshow viewer with more than 15,000 images, on-demand NASA videos, 2D and 3D satellite tracking maps, NASA mission news, and the ability to listen to Third Rock internet streaming radio.

"The NASA app has been a fantastic way for the public to experience the excitement of space exploration from their mobile devices," said David Weaver, NASA associate administrator for Communications in a press release.

"Now, users with the latest Apple TV can explore and enjoy our remarkable images, videos, mission information, NASA Television and more on the big screen with the whole family."

The NASA app is available in the App Store on the fourth-gen Apple TV.

Tag: NASA

Apple TV Universal Search Gains Support for 9 New Channels Including Food Network and HGTV

Apple today added nine new channels to the universal search function on the fourth-generation Apple TV, introducing support for A&E, Cooking Channel, DIY, Food Network, FYI, HGTV, History, Lifetime, and Travel Channel.

For those unfamiliar with universal search, it's a feature that allows users to conduct Siri voice searches or text-based searches to find TV and movie content across a wide range of channels. At launch, universal search only supported a few channels, but Apple has been rapidly expanding the feature to encompass additional channels.

apple_tv_hgtv_search
Apple maintains a dedicated support document providing Apple TV owners with a full list of content that can be found via Siri using universal search. Unfortunately, universal search is an option largely limited to the United States. In other countries, In most other countries, only iTunes content is currently supported, while Netflix is also supported in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)

Judge Rules in Apple's Favor, Dismisses 'Error 53' Lawsuit

iPhone 6 Touch IDApple's fight against an ongoing "error 53" lawsuit came to an end today when a U.S. district court judge dismissed the case and declared that the plaintiffs "lack standing to pursue injunctive relief" and have not been able to prove permanent data loss.

Apple's error 53 woes began in February, when the media picked up a story about an ongoing "error 53" message that was permanently bricking iPhones. As it turned out, Apple had implemented a feature that disabled the iPhones of customers who had unauthorized repairs on the home buttons of their devices.

Non-matching repair components or damage that affected the Touch ID fingerprint sensor caused an iOS device to fail a Touch ID validation check because the mismatched parts were unable to properly sync. The validation check occurred during an iOS update or restore, and when failed, Apple disabled the iPhone, effectively "bricking" it in an effort to protect Touch ID and the related Secure Enclave that stores customer fingerprint information. Apple eventually said the error 53 bricking issue was meant to be a factory test that should not have affected customers.

Just days after the error 53 news began circulating, Apple was hit with a lawsuit seeking $5 million in damages and a repair program for affected devices. Plaintiffs accused Apple of false advertising and failing to warn consumers about the security features that ultimately rendered their iPhones inoperable and caused data loss.

Following the lawsuit, Apple released an updated version of iOS that restored iPhones and iPads affected by error 53 to working condition and prevented it from happening to additional devices. Apple also reimbursed customers who paid for out-of-warranty replacements for their devices and ensured all affected customers had working devices.

In May, Apple filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit based on its fix and reimbursement efforts, but the plaintiffs continued to argue that Apple hadn't done enough to warn customers and hadn't made it easy enough to get their devices fixed.

Those arguments fell on deaf ears, as the judge did indeed grant Apple's dismissal motion, dissecting all of the plaintiffs' claims and rendering them unsuitable for the continuation of the lawsuit. One of the main claims was data loss, but the plaintiffs were not able to prove data loss separate from the error 53 malfunction, nor were they able to prove Apple was aware of the error 53 defect to support claims of false advertising.
With regard to Apple's alleged omissions, the plaintiffs' position seems to be that Apple should have "disclosed that their devices would be destroyed by imbedded features if they had repaired devices using an independent service and then updated to certain iOS versions." But the plaintiffs haven't plausibly alleged that Apple actually knew of this alleged risk. [...]

But the mere fact that a company has designed a product doesn't mean it automatically knows about all of that product's potential design flaws.
The plaintiffs in the case will be able to amend their claims to address the issues raised by the judge, so the lawsuit may be reconsidered in the future.

Tag: Error 53

Apple Seeds Third Beta of tvOS 9.2.2 to Developers

apple_tv_squareApple today provided developers with the third beta of an upcoming 9.2.2 update to tvOS, the operating system that runs on the fourth-generation Apple TV. The third tvOS 9.2.2 beta comes two weeks after the release of the second beta and more than a month after the launch of tvOS 9.2.1. tvOS 9.2.2 has been in testing since May 23.

tvOS betas are more difficult to install than beta updates for iOS and OS X. Installing the tvOS beta requires the Apple TV to be connected to a computer with a USB-C to USB-A cable, with the software downloaded and installed via iTunes or Apple Configurator. Once a beta profile has been installed on the device through iTunes, new beta releases will be available over the air.

tvOS 9.2.2 is a minor 9.x.x update, focusing on bug fixes and performance improvements. Apple's release notes have suggested the update includes bug fixes and security improvements, and no outward-facing changes were spotted in the first two betas.

This post will be updated if we discover any new features or fixes in the third beta of tvOS 9.2.2.

Apple is also working on the next-generation version of tvOS, tvOS 10, which includes new Siri features, single sign-on cable authentication, and more. tvOS 10, currently available to developers, will be released to the public in the fall.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Tag: tvOS 9.2.2
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)

Twitter Extends Video Limit From 30 to 140 Seconds, Launches New Analytics App

Twitter today announced that video lengths on the social networking site will be expanded from 30 seconds to 140 seconds long, with select publishers still granted exemption from the limit with the ability to post up to 10 minute long videos. The company called video "increasingly central to the real-time conversations happening on Twitter," and noted that video-related Tweets had increased over 50 percent since 2016 began.


To help facilitate more video views from its users, Twitter will be updating its iOS and Android apps with a new "full-screen viewing experience" that pops up whenever you tap on any tweeted video on your timeline. Everyone will be able to take advantage of the new 140-second videos beginning today, but the app update is said to be "rolling out soon."

The company is also launching a separate, all-new app focused on analytics. Called "Twitter Engage," users will be able to better understand and decipher the performance of their tweets with "real-time data and insights." The app, which is specifically targeted at "influential creators" but available to anyone who's interested, lets users track tweet activity, get notifications from the most important followers, and provide a breakdown of the highest and lowest performing tweets posted to an account.

Twitter Engage app
Similar lengthy video updates are also coming to the Twitter-owned Vine app, where a select handful of creators will be able to stretch the 6-second platform to a full 140-second video that the company equates to "a trailer for a bigger story." The video-related updates appear to be inspired around the YouTube-centric VidCon, happening June 23-25 in Anaheim, California. The company encourages those interested to follow Twitter Video for up-to-the-minute news -- and Tweets using the longer format -- coming out of the conference.

Tag: Twitter

Misfit and Speedo Announce New 'Speedo Shine 2' Swimming Activity Tracker

Misfit and Speedo have teamed up for a second-generation Speedo Shine, which is launching today. Like the first Speedo Shine, the Speedo Shine 2 is an activity, swim, and sleep tracker, but the updated version includes many features adopted from Misfit's Shine 2 activity tracker.

The Speedo Shine 2 includes a new vibration motor along with multicolor lights for better user feedback. Lap progress and time can be tracked through the different colored lights, and there are also Misfit Move activity reminders.

newspeedoshine
A new countdown swim timer is included to allow users to pick a length of time for a swim, with the Speedo Shine 2 offering vibration alerts when a workout is complete, and there's a silent vibrating alarm and alerts for incoming texts and phone calls.

The Speedo Shine 2 also features Misfit Link compatibility, enabling the device to be used as a music remote, selfie trigger, and remote for controlling connected home products, and more. Hardware wise, Speedo Shine 2 includes improved touch responsiveness, faster syncing, a better Bluetooth range, and a thinner body. The included multicolor lights are bright enough to be seen in direct sunlight and can be set to more than 16 million colors.

speedoshine2
"Whether you're training competitively or swimming for fitness, you want your focus to be on speed and form - not tracking laps. With the Speedo Shine 2, you can concentrate on your efforts in the pool without distractions," said Team Speedo USA athlete and four-time Olympic medalist Cullen Jones. "Speedo Shine 2 is an ideal aid for athletes and fitness enthusiasts to maximize their time in the water while keeping track of their overall fitness and sleep."
Misfit is also introducing a $9.99 in-app purchase that will enable Speedo Shine-style swimming tracking and lap counting in the Misfit Ray and Misfit Shine 2.

The Speedo Shine 2 can be purchased from the Misfit website or the Speedo website for $119.99.

Tags: Misfit, Speedo

Google Simplifies 2-Step Verification Process With iOS Search App Prompt

Google is making the two-factor authentication process to log into a user account a simpler affair by integrating it into the company's iOS search app.

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to users' Google Apps accounts by requiring them to enter a verification code in addition to their username and password when signing into their account. The two-step verification process prevents unauthorized access if someone obtains a user password.

Two-factor google
Previously, users had to opt to receive a text message or phone call to get an authentication code, or alternatively use the Google Authenticator mobile app, which generates time-limited numerical codes that users needed to enter into their account log-in page.

The change, which is being rolled out from today, means that when a user tries to sign into a Google account with two-step verification enabled, a notification from the Google search app now asks if they are trying to sign in. A simple tap on the option "Yes, allow sign-in" quickly authenticates the account.

Google two-step verification
To enable two-factor authentication, users need to sign into Google's My Account section and select Google prompt under Sign-in & Security -> Signing in to Google -> 2-Step Verification.

Google notes that the option requires a data connection to work, and that it may take up to three days for the feature to appear across all account pages.

The Google app is a free download for iPhone and iPad available on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Microsoft Launches 'Flow' Workflow Service Management App for iOS

Microsoft yesterday launched a management app for its online workflow service and IFTTT competitor, called Flow.

For those unfamiliar with the idea, services like IFTTT let you connect different digital platforms and automate actions between them, like having all Gmail attachments save to a Dropbox account, or making every new entry added to a contact list sync to a Google spreadsheet.

Flow
Flow first debuted in April as a web service for creating workflows for two or more cloud services, simplifying things like file synchronization and data organization. But Flow also supports a number of other triggers, like receiving a text message when a particular person emails you, or automatically following a Twitter account that mentions your business in a tweet and adding it to a database.

With the launch of the iOS app, Flow now supports workflow options for more services, but keeps the focus on integrations with Microsoft's own business tools, such as Office 365, Dynamics CRM, PowerApps, and Yammer. Automation for business-related services like MailChip, GitHub, Salesforce, and Slack are also supported.


The iOS app lets users manage existing 'flows' created from the web service, allowing users to disable them, view their properties, and generate error checking reports to ensure they're working properly. There's also a searchable activity feed in the app that shows all recent Flow actions, which can be tapped to get more details on.

The app also supports push notifications for trigger issues, and Microsoft promises it will soon include the ability to create new workflows without having to sign into the web-based service.

Microsoft Flow is a free download for iPhone and iPad on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Tag: Microsoft

Ultimate Ears' UE Boom 2 and UE Megaboom Updated With Siri and Google Now Integration

Ultimate Ears today announced a firmware update that brings Siri and Google Now integration to its UE Boom 2 and UE Megaboom speakers, making it easier for iPhone and Android users to play and control music on the devices without needing to access their phones.

With Siri integration, pushing the Bluetooth button on the UE Boom 2 or the UE Megaboom activates Apple's virtual assistant, allowing users to do things like request specific songs through Apple Music, place phone calls, and more. Google Now integration offers similar capabilities on Android devices.

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"Music lovers can now truly stay in the moment, playing their favorite song from the middle of the pool or even while diving off a cliff with their UE speaker in hand," said Charlotte Johs, general manager of Ultimate Ears. "No matter how wet, muddy or wild the situation, with Siri and Google Now voice integration on UE BOOM 2 and UE MEGABOOM, fans no longer need to pick up their phone to play DJ. Now, they can just say it to play it."
Ultimate Ears is known for creating waterproof, shockproof speakers that are able to hold up to the elements for listening to music at home and on the go, and Siri integration should be a welcome addition for iPhone users who often use their UE speakers in wet or dirty conditions.

The firmware update can be installed through an update to the UE Boom and UE Megaboom apps, which is available today.

The UE Boom 2 and the UE Megaboom can be purchased from the Ultimate Ears website for $200 and $300, respectively. Both the UE Boom 2 and the UE Megaboom are also available from Amazon.com at slightly lower prices.

E-Book Buyers to Start Receiving Credits on Tuesday as Part of Apple Price Fixing Settlement

ibooks-iconStarting on Tuesday, June 21, U.S. customers who purchased e-books from Apple and other retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble will begin receiving payouts from the $450 million settlement Apple agreed to pay after being found guilty of conspiring to fix the prices of e-books.

Customers will be receiving a $6.93 credit for each book that was a New York Times bestseller, and a $1.57 credit for other e-books. Customers eligible for credits include those who purchased e-books between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012.
Attorneys say the process is uniquely simple for consumers -- credits will be automatically sent directly into the accounts of consumers at major book retailers, including Amazon.com Inc., Barnes & Noble Inc., Kobo Inc. and Apple. Retailers will issue emails and put the credits in the accounts simultaneously.

If e-book purchasers requested a check in lieu of a credit, they will receive a check. If purchasers received a credit during the first round of distribution of publisher settlements, and they did not opt out, they will automatically receive a credit.
The U.S. Department of Justice first accused Apple and five other publishers -- HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, and Penguin -- of colluding to fix the prices of e-books in 2010, suggesting they had worked to raise prices of e-books to weaken Amazon's dominant position in the market and restructure the business model of the industry.

While all of the publishers settled early on, Apple fought the accusation for years and maintained its innocence, but ultimately, a ruling in 2013 found the company guilty of price fixing. A series of appeals were unsuccessful, and after the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, Apple was forced to pay a $450 million settlement.

$400 million of that $450 million is earmarked for customers who purchased e-books, with $30 million going towards legal fees and $20 million going to states who were also involved in the lawsuit.

Fitbit's New 'Sleep Schedule' Combines 'Bedtime' in iOS 10 With Sleep Tracking

Fitbit today announced a new featured called "Sleep Schedule" as an update to its existing iOS and Android apps, aimed at guiding users into an overall more healthy lifestyle through the introduction of consistent sleep patterns. Users who wear their Fitbit devices to bed will gain increased insight into their sleeping schedules, as well as personalized sleep goals and reminders that are all aimed at encouraging a consistent bedtime every night.

Interestingly, Fitbit's new Sleep Schedule appears largely similar to the new "Bedtime" tab in iOS 10. Beta testers have commented on Bedtime's disappointing sleep tracking functionality -- which lacks Fitbit's motion-sensing nighttime wearable technology -- but other aspects of the new Fitbit update fall largely in line with Apple's first party Clock app. These include a sleep goal, bedtime and wakeup time alarm, sleep history chart (although more rudimentary on Apple's part), and push notifications to remind users when it's time for bed.

Fitbit iOS sleep schedule
Still, for Fitbit fans, the new "Sleep dashboard" will be designed with a user's personal sleep data in mind, and adjusted to fit their specific needs. The app will now recommend a sleep goal, give you an ideal bedtime and wakeup target to get you on schedule, and send out push notifications to make sure you don't deviate from the plan. Fitbit hopes the new sleep tools help its users rest up and recharge to better take advantage of the workout and activity features Fitbit provides during waking hours.
“What’s great about the new Fitbit Sleep Schedule feature is that it looks at your sleep data from your Fitbit device you’re wearing day and night, analyzes it for patterns and creates a personalized schedule just for you,” said Tim Roberts, Executive Vice President, Interactive at Fitbit. “This is a great example of how we’re providing guidance using Fitbit data to help millions of people develop healthier habits and routines, and is just the first in a series of new sleep features that we’re working on to help our users improve their health through data and coaching.”
With all of the new data, Fitbit will also create Sleep history charts so users can go back through previous nights and see how they are doing with sticking to a schedule. Fitbit has provided sleep tracking in the past, but the company now hopes the unified addition of a customized sleep plan, alarm, and history chart in one place will only bolster the use of these features among its users.

Fitbit users with a device capable of tracking sleep can test out the new features beginning today on the Fitbit app, available on the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tag: Fitbit