Redesigned Firefox for iOS Claims Faster Load Times, Less Battery Drain

Firefox has released an update for its iOS browser that offers interface improvements and a faster browsing experience.

Firefox v5.0 promises faster web page loading times combined with significant battery savings, according to the browser's development team. Mozilla claims up to a 40 percent reduction in CPU usage and up to a 30 percent reduction in memory usage, although it notes results may vary between users.

Firefox iOS
Aside from speed improvements and power savings, the main interface has seen a number of new additions. Top of the list is a new menu on the toolbar that allows for easier navigation and quick access to frequently used features – from adding a bookmark to finding text in page.

Mozilla has also tried to make tab management a less frustrating experience on smaller screens, with the introduction of a 'Close All Tabs' option and an 'Undo' option to easily recover them, as well as a simpler method of navigating open tabs.

Users can also now set their favorite site as their homepage, which can be accessed at any time via the Home button in the new main menu.

Firefox iOS
In addition, users can now search sites with a search box (Amazon, for example) using a new magnifying glass button above the keyboard.

To add a website to the list of search engines accessed from the new tool, users simply need to go to the site in question and tap on the magnifying glass.

Firefox web browser is a free download for iPhone and iPad available on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Apple's Services Revenue Up 19% on App Store, Apple Music Growth

During today's third quarter earnings call, Apple announced its second consecutive year-over-year revenue drop, but amid the decline, the company's services category saw significant growth based on strong App Store performance.

Services revenue was up 19 percent year over year, and according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple saw its highest App Store revenue ever, setting a new all time high. Compared to the year-ago quarter, App Store growth was up an impressive 27 percent, with iCloud, AppleCare, and Apple Music also seeing notable growth.

Over the course of the last 12 months, Apple's services revenue is up $23.1 billion, and next year, the company expects revenue from services to "be the size of a Fortune 100 company."

Growth was fueled by Apple's active install base, which brought in $10.3 billion dollars during the quarter, marking 29 percent growth year-over-year. Apple CFO Luca Maestri said the company set a new record for customers making purchases through the iTunes and App Store, and the average amount spent per customer was the highest Apple has ever measured.

App Store revenue has climbed consistently over the last four consecutive quarters and Cook said he expects the services category to continue to grow "very briskly."

Tag: App Store

Apple's Q3 2016 Revenue Drops 33% in Greater China as Europe Regains Position as Second Biggest Market

china-flagIn today's third quarter earnings report, Apple revealed a significant drop in revenue from Greater China, which is down 33 percent year over year. Revenue from China was at $8.9 billion in Q3 2016, down from $13 billion in Q3 2015.

During the followup earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company continues to be encouraged about growth in the country despite the decline in revenue and remains "very optimistic about growth opportunities."

He said Apple's underlying business is stronger in China than the results imply, with the iPhone install base in the country up 34 percent year over year. Cook cited statistics from China Mobile, one of the largest carriers in the country, which says it sells more iPhones than any other smartphone.

According to Cook, channel inventory reduction and currency headwinds have impacted business in the region and presented some significant economic challenges. Despite this, Cook continues to feel "really good" about Apple's business in China, pointing towards the opening of the 41st retail store in Greater China and a recent $1 billion investment in Didi Chuxing.

With revenue in China down 33 percent, Europe has regained its position as Apple's second biggest market after the United States, bringing in $9.6 billion in revenue during the quarter.

Tag: China

Apple Sees iPad Revenue Growth for the First Time in 10 Quarters

Apple today announced a year-over-year drop in revenue for the second quarter in a row based on flagging iPhone sales, but amid the decline, Apple saw its iPad revenue grow slightly for the first time in 10 quarters. Apple's iPad line brought in $4.9 billion in Q3 2016, up from $4.5 billion in the year-ago quarter.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Cook said he was "encouraged" by the iPad's revenue growth and the 19 percent growth in the services category, which includes Apple Music, the App Store, iTunes, and more.

"There are a number of encouraging signs in the results," Mr. Cook told The Wall Street Journal. "This last quarter was surprising because it was better than we expected from so many different points of view, not just one thing."
While iPad revenue was up based on the higher average selling price of the 9.7 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, overall unit sales continued to decline. Apple sold almost 10 million iPads during the third quarter of 2016, compared to almost 11 million during the third quarter of 2015.

Apple's 9.7-inch iPad Pro starts at $599, while the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $799, two price points that are much higher than the $499 price Apple's previous iPad models started at.

Related Roundup: iPad Pro
Buyer's Guide: 12.9" iPad Pro (Neutral)

Adobe Lightroom Launches on Apple TV

Adobe today released a Lightroom app for Apple TV, enabling users to share their Creative Cloud photos in a slideshow on the big screen.

The viewing-only app features the ability to browse through your synchronized photo collections, including photos uploaded via Lightroom CC on the desktop, Lightroom on mobile, or Lightroom on the web.

When scrolling through all of the photos in your Creative Cloud account, users can stop and zoom in to highlight details within individual photos. However, photos cannot be edited within Lightroom for Apple TV.

Lightroom requires a fourth-generation Apple TV as well as a Creative Cloud subscription to login. The app can be downloaded for free from the tvOS App Store on Apple TV, and is available right now.

Future Apple Pencil Could Include Motion Sensors and Magic Trackpad Compatibility

The United States Patent and Trademark Office today granted Apple a patent for a "Stylus with inertial sensor," equating to an advanced version of the Apple Pencil that could potentially function with the company's iMac-compatible Magic Trackpad (via Patently Apple). The patent was originally filed in November 2014, but was only recently published in May of 2016.

apple pencil patent 1
The patent briefly mentions the combination of the Apple Pencil and Magic Trackpad (or "electronic equipment"), which would receive "electromagnetic signals from electrodes at the first end of the stylus" and translate a user's drawing into a compatible iMac program. The potential integration could bring artistic drawings and programs to Apple's desktop line, similar to the boom such apps saw with the release of the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro last year.

Overall, the new patent details a next-generation Apple Pencil with a far greater technological reach than the current version of the stylus. The proposed update could bring in-air gestures in order to let users control Keynote slides or rotate objects on an iMac screen, turn the accessory into a joystick for games, or even use the Apple Pencil as "an air mouse" in lieu of the Magic Trackpad itself.

apple pencil patent 2
Apple Pencil used as a joystick for interacting with 3D objects (left) and air mouse (right)

Although Apple was granted the patent today, as with other patents, it's a good idea to remain wary as to how long it will take the company to announce, reveal, and release such a device like the Apple Pencil described here, if it ever will. All the same, it would appear a safe bet that a new version of the stylus could pack in some of these motion-sensing features, even if it's still limited to the iPad line.

Apple Music's Video Content Now Streams Free on T-Mobile

T-Mobile has announced that Apple Music and fifteen other additional streaming video providers, including various ABC, Disney, and FOX apps, are now covered by the carrier's Binge On program. Binge On now supports over 100 video services in the United States after launching eight months ago.

Binge On enables customers on a qualifying Simple Choice plan to stream unlimited 480p video from dozens of partnered services, led by Netflix, HBO NOW, Hulu, and YouTube, without any of the data consumed counting towards their monthly data bucket. Starting today, any Apple Music video content qualifies too.

The full list of new providers joining Binge On today include:
  • ABC
  • Apple Music
  • Big Ten Network
  • DISH Anywhere
  • Disney Channel
  • Disney Jr.
  • Disney XD
  • D-PAN.TV
  • DramaFever
  • Shalom World
  • Sioeye
  • Tubi TV
T-Mobile expanded Binge On to PBS in June and thirteen video services in May, including NBC and video content from existing Music Freedom partners Google Play Music, Radio Disney, Spotify, and TIDAL, after adding 16 new Binge On and Music Freedom partners in April. YouTube, Google Play Movies, and others were added in March.

Apple Music's audio content has streamed for free on T-Mobile via Music Freedom since July 2015.

Microsoft Reveals New Authenticator App With Touch ID and Apple Watch Support

Microsoft recently announced an incoming update for its two-factor authenticator apps on iOS and Android, bringing a more robust suite of password authenticator abilities, along with a redesigned user interface, to each app (via The Verge). Set to launch on August 15, the update combines "the best parts" of the company's previous authenticator apps into one service, letting users save data for both a Microsoft account (targeted at consumers) and an Azure AD account (targeted at enterprise users).

The update is planned to overhaul Microsoft's existing, two-step verification iOS app, Azure Authenticator, while the Microsoft account app on Android will prompt users with a starting message to download the new app in the Android store. For iOS users, the company promised that any accounts saved in Azure Authenticator will be "automatically upgraded" into the new version of the app. Before the new update, the iOS app solely supported Azure AD accounts.

microsoft authenticator app
Also coming to Microsoft Authenticator is a new, "incredibly simple" user experience that the company promises maintains "the highest level of security" for all of the accounts linked to the app. There's also a streamlined multi-factor authentication in the app's one-click notifications, where users just click an "approve" button in the notification to finish an account's login. In addition, fingerprint approval will be coming to the Microsoft Authenticator app for anyone who wants to bypass needing to type in a passcode.
On August 15th, we will start releasing the new “Microsoft Authenticator” apps in all mobile app stores. This new app combines the best parts of our previous authenticator apps into a new app which works with both Microsoft accounts and Azure AD accounts.

We’re just getting started on this new app! Now that we’ve finished consolidating into a single code base, we’re expecting to deliver new improvements at a very rapid pace.
In that same vein, Microsoft is making MFA challenges even easier to approve, thanks to Apple Watch support in the new update. The same "approve" button notification will appear on Apple's wearable, letting users bypass needing to pick up their iPhone at all to finish up the authentication process. The company said that Samsung Gear devices will also be supported for those on Android.

Users on iOS can get ready for the incoming update by downloading Azure Authenticator for free from the iOS App Store. [Direct Link]

Tag: Microsoft

WhatsApp Update Brings Video Recording Zoom and Bigger Emojis

whatsappWhatsApp developers pushed out a new update for the hugely popular messenger platform today that includes a couple of new video and chat features for iOS users.

The main change for users who record video through the app is that they now have the ability to zoom in and out while recording, simply by sliding a finger up and down the screen.

On the interface front, WhatsApp developers have added an Edit option to the chat thread tab to make it easier to archive, delete or mark as read multiple chats in one go.

Elsewhere, individual chat threads are faster to load and can now be scrolled through continuously, rather than users being confronted by requests to 'scroll again' in order to access earlier parts of the same thread.

In addition, singular emojis now show up bigger when sent within a thread (only the heart emoji showed bigger previously).

A new WhatsApp Web/Desktop section has also been added to the Settings screen for users to adjust account login options relating to the new desktop app directly on their iOS device.

WhatsApp Messenger is a free download for iPhone available on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Tag: WhatsApp

Google Maps Gets Cleaner Look and Orange 'Areas of Interest' Hotspots

Google Maps developers yesterday introduced some visual changes and subtle navigation aids for both desktop and iOS that aim to make it easier for users to explore the world around them.

Google Maps
The most immediately obvious visual changes include the removal of road outlines to make traffic and transit routes easier to delineate, as well as clearer typography for street names, points of interest, transit stations, and so on, making them more distinguishable.

Another, less obvious but significant change is the way Google Maps represents high density areas of interest – restaurants, bars, shops, and so on – which now appear as orange shaded hotspots on the map. As the video above demonstrates, zooming into an orange area brings more details into focus, allowing users to tap them for more information.

Google Maps color schemeThe new Maps also gains a more subtle and balanced color scheme to help users differentiate between man-made and natural topographic features, as well as identify places like hospitals, schools and highways more easily.

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

Apple Maps Expands Transit Data to San Diego and British Columbia

Apple recently updated its Maps app to include transit information in San Diego, California and British Columbia, Canada allowing iOS users in those locations to incorporate public transportation options when seeking directions through the Apple Maps app.

In San Diego, Apple Maps will now offer up routes that include transportation by the city's Trolley, which connects the east and south counties with the Downtown area. The Trolley is San Diego's light rail system and sole public transportation option besides buses.

In Vancouver, Victoria, and other cities in British Columbia, Canada, Apple Maps directions now incorporate the SkyTrain and other rail lines. Transit directions should be a welcome addition in Vancouver, which is Canada's third-largest metropolitan area.

Transit directions were first added to Apple Maps in 2015 as part of iOS 9. At launch, transit information was only available in a handful of cities, but Apple has been working hard to expand the feature to additional locations.

Transit data is now available in more than 20 cities around the world, along with dozens of cities in China.

Apple Leases More Than 40,000 Square Feet of Office Space for Bengaluru, India Center

Tim-Cook-IndiaEarlier this year, Apple announced plans to build an iOS App Design and Development Accelerator in Bengaluru, India, for the purpose of supporting engineering talent within the Apple ecosystem and giving developers tools to "create innovative apps for customers around the world," according to CEO Tim Cook.

A few new details about the development center have emerged today, including news that Apple has leased more than 40,000 square feet of space for the Bengaluru offices.

According to sources speaking with The Economic Times, the new Apple center will cover two floors at Galleria, located in North Bengaluru. The office space Apple is interested in is owned by Standard Brick Tile Company, and includes other companies like Atkins and Comviva as tenants within the building.
Tens of thousands of developers in India make apps for iOS, the mobile operating system that is the foundation for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

The company said Apple's team would work to inspire and instruct developers on best practices, help them hone their skills and transform the design, quality and performance of their apps on the iOS platform
Apple's current plan is to open the new iOS App Design and Development Accelerator sometime in early 2017. The space in Bengaluru will be the second biggest of Apple's facilities in India, following the company's proposed 250,000 square foot campus in Hyderabad. That location will be the focus of developments in Apple Maps, with up to 4,000 employees expected to be hired at the site, which will cost the company $25 million to build.

Tag: India