IPhone

No ‘OK, Google’ on the iPhone? That’s a huge problem

Voicebots are all over my house right now.

I’m testing two different Alexa-powered speakers in my office. I use Cortana on a desktop, Siri on my MacBook and an iPhone 7 Plus, Google Assistant on a Pixel smartphone and the Google Home speaker, and both the Google Assistant and Siri on my television (thanks to the NVIDIA Shield and the Apple TV). I’m literally talking to bots all day, asking about the weather, the NBA Playoffs, and even obscure questions about Austria (where a few family members live). I’m known to suddenly say “OK, Google” during family meals when someone asks a question or makes a random comment. (Turns out, the Beauty and the Beast fable was published way back in 1740 and good old Tom Brady is the oldest quarterback in the NFL.)

Sadly, now that the Assistant is available for iPhone, I’m going to have to change my approach.

At a restaurant recently, I found out the hard way that the Assistant app doesn’t respond to “OK, Google” requests. It works exactly like any app on the iPhone that is not directly tied into the OS. That is, you can only talk to the iPhone by saying “Hey, Siri” to start a conversation. That’s not surprising at all. Android needs a few differentiators these days, right VentureBeat editorial team? Yet, the reason it’s sad is that there isn’t any reason to ever use the Assistant on iOS.

To do that, I’d…

10 Hidden Gestures and Shortcuts on the iPhone

Your iPhone is packed with hidden touch gestures and shortcuts you could use, if only you knew about them. You might have discovered some of these already, but Apple is always adding more new gestures. Here are 10 of our favorites.

Tap the Menu Bar to Scroll to the Top

In practically any app, you can tap the menu bar at the top of your screen—that’s the bar with the time on it—to scroll to the top of the current document or list. For example, if you’ve scrolled down a web page in Safari and want to quickly scroll back to the top, just tap the menu bar at the top of your screen. It’ll immediately jump back to the top of the page.

Reopen Closed Tabs by Long-Pressing Safari’s New Tab Button

The Safari browser included on your iPhone allows you to reopen tabs you’ve previously closed. To find this feature, tap the button at the bottom right of the Safari app to view your open tabs. Long-press the new tab button and you’ll see a list of closed tabs you can reopen.

Move the Text Cursor With 3D Touch

If you have an iPhone with the pressure-sensitive 3D Touch feature, you can easily move the text entry cursor while typing something. With the keyboard open, hard-press the spacebar. The keys on the keyboard will turn blank, and the cursor will appear. Move your finger to the left or right and the cursor will move. Lift your finger to set the cursor’s position.

This works with the iPhone’s default keyboard as well as some third-party keyboards—it depends on whether keyboard’s developer has added support for this feature. For example, this trick also works in Google’s Gboard keyboard.

Double Tap the Home Button for “Reachability”

On larger iPhones—including the iPhone and iPhone Plus, but not the iPhone SE or older, smaller iPhones—you can tap (but not press) the Home button twice to enter “Reachability” mode. All the content on the iPhone’s screen will be lowered on the display, making it much easier to press buttons on the top of the screen when using your iPhone with one hand. Double tap the Home button again to leave Reachability mode.

This is different from double-pressing the iPhone’s Home button, which brings up the app switcher.

Change Your Scrubbing Speed for Music and Podcasts

When playing music or a podcast, you may want to “scrub” through the track at different speeds. To do this, touch your finger to the progress bar and move the finger up or…

The iPhone 8 rumor mill: what to expect, or not

The iPhone 8 rumor mill: what to expect, or not

“You need to look no further than Apple’s iPhone to see how fast brilliantly written software presented on a beautifully designed device with a spectacular user interface will throw all the accepted notions about pricing, billing platforms and brand loyalty right out the window.” – Edgar Bronfman, Jr.

The iPhone rumor mill

2017 is the tenth anniversary of the iPhone; therefore, pundits are expecting significant changes to the existing design. The original iPhone was announced in 2007 where, on January 9, Steve Jobs announced to the world that his company was transforming the iPod, revolutionizing the mobile phone, as well as developing a unique internet device. Experts assumed that Jobs was talking about three different products; however, he stunned the world. He was announcing the first iPhone.

Consequently, every year Apple fans wait excitedly for the announcement of the latest iPhone. Rob Price of the UK Business Insider notes that even though we are still about six months away from the launch of the iPhone 8, the rumor mill is already buzzing with excitement.

While keeping in mind that these are just rumors and that Apple has not made any formal announcements, here are a few of the stories about the latest iPhone that are swirling around:

Screen size

It is anticipated that the next iPhone will have an edge-to-edge screen with curved edges. Apple will reduce the size of the bevels around the screen to allow for a bigger screen. In other words, Apple will…

11 Apps to Kill Boredom While Upgrading Yourself at the Same Time

You are waiting at the doctor’s office, or even for your bus. There’s nothing to do but stare at the people around you – all waiting. You’re boredom antsy and start to fidget. Before you cave in to that gnawing sense of boredom, grab your phone and check out some of these cool apps. They’ll not only alleviate some of that boredom, but also stretch your brain in the process.

4.5 star, 4+ app by Lumos Labs Inc. Challenging your brain against the clock with match, odd one out, spatial awareness and memory type fun games. Makes you think fast and gain agility in your quest to beat the timer. Free version only allows you to play three games a day, which isn’t so bad in retrospect, if you tend to get addicted to playing on your phone! In-app purchases available.

This 4+, 4.5 star rated app by Elevate Inc., for Apple & Android, offers beat the clock games in math, reading comprehension, speed reading, memory and writing. You’ll need audio for some sections of this game. The free version again offers only three games a day, and if any game offered seems too daunting after a long day at the office, they will switch it out for another choice. They do offer a pro-version of this game for a fee.

5 star, 4+ rated app by Lin Haun for iPhones. 300 brain teasers and clever jokes for kids and adults to kickstart your brain. Good for chilling, having a laugh and learning all in one. Available for on iTunes.

iPhone Produces Mysterious Mother’s Day Miracle for Grieving Son

Throughout history, there has always been a debate about whether humans can receive signs from the afterlife – but after witnessing a mysterious glitch on his iPhone this week, Brad Brown considers himself a believer.

Brad is a retired investigative reporter who used to work for the Washington Post and WTOL-TV in Toledo, Ohio. He is also the son of Janet Brown, who was reportedly one of the most highly-ranked women working at the Pentagon.

At least before she died in February.

WATCH:

Google Assistant arrives on iPhone

At its I/O 2017 developer conference today, Google announced Google Assistant is coming to iOS today as a standalone app, rolling out to the U.S. first. Until now, the only way iPhone users could access Google Assistant was through Allo, the Google messaging app nobody uses.

Scott Huffman, vice president of Google Assistant engineering, made the announcement onstage. He also revealed that Google Assistant is already available on over 100 million Android devices. That’s Google’s way of hinting to developers that they should start building for the tool.

Huffman also added that Google Assistant is becoming available in more languages on both Android and iOS (it’s still English-only today). Support for French, German, Brazilian-Portuguese, and Japanese is coming later this summer while Italian, Spanish, and Korean will be available by the…

Fragmentation Isn’t Android’s Fault, It’s the Manufacturers’

It’s 2017, and I still see people criticizing Android for “fragmentation”. This gives Android in general a bad name, and I want to make the facts clear: this isn’t Google or Android’s fault. It’s the fault of your manufacturer.

While this has been a talked about issue for some time, a recent piece from Boy Genius Report got me thinking about it—infuriatingly titled “No iPhone user can even imagine dealing with what Android users have to tolerate”. I want to set the record straight: this type of thinking isn’t just unfair to Android, it’s flat out wrong.

What Is Fragmentation?

Basically, when people talk about fragmentation, they’re referring to the spread of Android versions that are still running on devices “in the wild,” because the adoption rate of new version of Android is much slower than that of iOS. It makes sense, really—there are a handful of iPhones, but hundreds of different Android phones, from a variety of manufacturers, and they don’t all update to the latest version at the same time.

May 2017 Android Distribution numbers

So, when we talk about Android “fragmentation” as a downside compared to iOS, it suggests that there’s an issue with Android, software development, or the update schedule in general. Articles like the one from Boy Genius Report imply that the issue comes from Google, which isn’t the case. Ever since Google purchased Android, the company has been responsible for pushing updates to the platform. And while it was definitely hit and miss in its infancy, we’ve seen Google take a much more structured approach to OS updates for Android in recent years. In fact, it’s almost clockwork now.

But here we are, still acting like Android has an update issue, when that’s just not the case. The primary argument against Android when it comes to updates is the comparison to Apple and the iPhone. “But nearly 80 percent of iPhones are running the latest version of iOS!” I hear people say. But that’s not an argument at all—unless it’s done fairly. Allow me to explain.

iOS Distribution numbers as of Feb 20th 2017.

Comparing Apples to Apples

Basically, Apple produces the iPhone, as well as iOS. It sends updates directly to the iPhone. Apple is solely responsible for updating its own hardware using its own software. It doesn’t work the same way for Android. If you really want a fair comparison, it’s Google hardware/software versus Apple hardware/software. In other words, it’s Pixel/Nexus versus iPhone.

That’s the only real comparison that can be used fairly—it’s an apples to apples comparison, for lack of a better analogy. Google’s official stance on Nexus and Pixel updates is pretty straightforward: these phones get Android version updates for “at least 2 years from when the device first became available on the Google Store” and security updates “for at least 3 years from when the device first became available on the Google Store, or at least 18 months from when the Google Store last sold the device, whichever is longer.“ That’s straight from Google’s mouth.

Google Pixel update periods.

That means under the current rules, three generations of Nexus/Pixel devices are being supported by Google: the Nexus 6, 6P, and 5x, as well as the Pixel and Pixel XL. And yes, the Android ecosystem is bigger than that, but those devices are really just alternative options: Google has just as many phone options as Apple does, and they’re all kept up to date.

By contrast, Apple is actually less transparent with its update timelines and commitments. Five generations of Apple iPhones are running the latest software (iOS 10): iPhone 5, 5C, 5S, 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, and 7 Plus. The writing is on the wall for the iPhone 5, but at the time of writing it’s still being supported so I’m listing it here and…

Apple just gave away all the iPhone camera’s secrets

Image: lili sams/mashable

Just because you know how to press your iPhone’s camera shutter and record button and snap the perf selfie doesn’t mean you’re getting the most out of the incredibly capable camera.

To help iPhone users take better (maybe even “Shot on iPhone” worthy) photos, Apple’s launched a new website with a bunch of informative photography tips and tricks.

Some of these “how to shoot” tutorials may be obvious if you’re already familiar with all of the various modes within the iPhone’s camera app, but chances are you aren’t.

I can’t tell you how many people I know who don’t know how to use settings like High Dynamic Range (HDR), or the exposure slider, or how to snap photos while shooting a video. Also, when to use flash and when not to.

A little knowledge goes a long way to improving your photos. Here are a few tips that caught my eye:

How to shoot a…

Why Microsoft needs the iPhone to accomplish its mobile goals

Microsoft is shifting its mobile strategy.
Microsoft is shifting its mobile strategy.

It wasn’t that long ago when Windows Phone was an important topic at Microsoft’s Build developer conference.

But you’d be hard-pressed to tell from watching this year’s keynotes. Like last year’s event, no one in the parade of Microsoft executives who took the stage made any mention of Windows Phone.

Except for that one moment.

Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president in Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group, was demoing a new OneDrive feature from the upcoming Fall Creators Update on a Windows Phone. As soon as he said the words “Windows Phone,” someone in the audience let out an inexplicably enthusiastic “Woot!”

“Thank you,” he said, before continuing the demo. He didn’t mention Windows Phone again. Later, a slide appeared. “Windows PCs ❤️ All Your Devices,” it proclaimed. The first smartphone on the slide? An iPhone.

That almost perfectly encapsulates Microsoft’s mobile strategy right now. And, yes, despite the…

What’s New in Windows 10’s Fall Creators Update, Arriving September 2017

Windows 10’s Fall Creators Update, codenamed Redstone 3, will be released in September 2017. Here are all the new features Microsoft announced at its BUILD 2017 event on May 11.

There will be many more new features and small changes that make Windows better to use, just as there were in previous updates. We’ll learn about those through the Insider Previews released between now and September, so check back with this post for more useful, smaller, geeky features.

OneDrive Shows Files in the Cloud, Downloading Them on Demand

Microsoft announced “OneDrive Files on Demand”, which allows some files to be stored in the cloud and available to you without being synced on your local device. An older version of this feature appeared in Windows 8.1, and people have been asking for it since. Dropbox and Google Drive are incorporating a similar feature, too.

Interestingly enough, this works with files in the Desktop and Documents folder, so it isn’t just limited to files in the OneDrive folder.

When you try to open a file that isn’t stored on your PC, Windows will download it and open it for you. This is implemented at a low level in the operating system and works with any application, even command line ones.

Windows Syncs Your Clipboard Between Your PCs and Phones

There’s now a cloud-based clipboard that allows you to copy and paste data between your devices. This will work in Windows without developers having to do anything. Copy something on one of your Windows PCs, and it’ll be available on the clipboard on your other Windows PCs. It’ll also work with Microsoft’s SwiftKey keyboard on iPhone and Android.

The Microsoft Office team is working on a clipboard history feature, allowing you to paste things you’ve copied to your clipboard in the past. That’s just one example of what app developers could do with this feature, and Microsoft hopes other app developers take further advantage of it.

Microsoft Graph Tracks Your Activities, and the Timeline Helps You Resume Them Anywhere

According to Microsoft, “the Windows PC will help you roam from device to device using the Microsoft Graph”. Windows knows whether you were working on a document, playing music, browsing the web, reading news, or watching a video through the Microsoft Graph. There’s a new Timeline feature that shows the activities you perform on your PC over time, and it’s searchable.

Cortana’s “Pick up where you left off” feature suggests activities you might want to resume when you switch to another PC.

This feature works iPhones and Android phones, too. If you install the Cortana app, Cortana will prompt you to pick up where you left off on your phone when you leave your PC. Cortana is aware of your timeline, so you can choose to resume activities you were working on. Perform an activity on your phone and it will appear in the timeline on your PC later, too.

To make this easier to set up, there’s a new “Phone” icon on the main Settings app screen that will guide users through setting this up. This will also enable syncing notifications with Android devices and syncing reminders to iPhones and…