Firebase, a company helping developers to produce apps and services that store and sync data in realtime, is the latest Google acquisition. With a user base of 110,000 developers three-year-old Firebase announced that it is joining Google and plans to continue the work it already does, but pointing out it will be possible to "do much more, much faster" with Google's resources and backing.
With Firebase's focus on the cloud and mobile, it is little surprise that Google's own announcement about the acquisition came on the Google Cloud Platform Blog. The two companies appear to be a good match, with Firebase's aim to "continue to be platform agnostic and provide clients for iOS, Android, the web, and more" being very much in keeping with Google's own ethos.
Still in buoyant mood after the launch of the iPhone 6, Apple Watch, and iPad Air 2 -- even the Mac mini -- Apple gave its Q4 2014 earnings call yesterday. CEO Tim Cook announced that the company generated $42.1 billion in revenue in the quarter and a net profit of $8.5 billion, up from $37.5 billion and $7.5 billion for the same period last year. Referring to the "biggest iPhone launch ever", Cook explained that Apple is due to enter the holiday season with its "strongest product lineup ever".
He explained that 60 percent of the quarter's revenue came from international sales, and sales have gone up in just about every area of the company with the exception of iPad and iPod sales. The iPhone remains the biggest seller (some 39.272 million units, up 16.2 percent), and Mac sales are also strong (5.52 million units, up 20.7 percent).
With Android 5.0 Lollipop, Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 on the horizon, as well as some great Android devices already on the market, some of you may be thinking about ditching iOS for Android. It is unquestionably a big decision, so you may want to ensure that the switch from an iPhone or iPad will be as painless as possible.
To help with the switch, Google has prepared a nifty guide that explains how you can migrate your data from iOS to Android, tackling key areas such as multimedia content, contacts, email, messaging and, of course, apps. You may recall that Apple posted a similar guide last month, detailing to would-be customers the steps they need to take to move from Android handsets to iPhones. Google now looks to simply be returning the favor.
Whatever your mobile platform of choice, there are some apps which are all but impossible to avoid. Some -- like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube -- have reasonably dull histories; we all know the corporations behind their creation. But there are plenty of other big names with less well known histories. A new infographic from IrishApps.org reveals the stories behind some famous titles, and reveal the fortunes they have generated.
For example, did you know that Flappy Bird was originally going to be called Flap Flap, and was put together in just two days? Or that the founder of Summly was just 17 years old when he sold his app to Yahoo? How about the fact that the Ukrainian developer of WhatsApp is estimated to be worth $7 billion?
Following all of the NSA revelations, mass surveillance has increased the general level of paranoia to be found online -- although it could be argued that not all surveillance is bad. With everyone on such high alert it's little wonder that an app that described itself as "an anonymous social network that allows people to express themselves" should be so popular. Whisper encourages users to embrace the supposed anonymity it offers and reveal secrets they would not otherwise feel comfortable sharing.
Many kids nowadays are lazy and sedentary. They come from school, sit on the couch, eat Go-Gurt and watch nonsense like Adventure Time. Actually, swap the Go-Gurt for Teddy Grahams and Adventure Time for Heathcliff and it sounds like my youth, but I digress. Kids don't play outside enough and thanks to smartphones and tablets, they don't get as much sleep as they should. Hell, can you blame them? If I had an iPad in the 80s, I never would have slept.
Today, a new product called KidFit from a company called X-Doria becomes available. In a nutshell, it is a watch-like wearable that you strap onto your kids, so you can track both their activity and sleep patterns. While some may claim the use of such a product is lazy parenting, I disagree; utilizing this technology is a proactive approach to combatting obesity and fatigue.
If you’d like to share personal photos, but only briefly, then a service like SnapShot can help. Images are visible for only a set period of time before they disappear forever. (In theory, anyway.)
Yovo for iOS is based around the same idea. Take an image, add a caption or blur, set an expiry time and select your recipients. But it also includes "D-fence", a clever technology which prevents users taking clear screenshots.
As any Facebook user knows, 'liking' content online has become almost second nature. Facebook has Likes, Google+ has +1s, and various other variations exist. But it is Facebook's Like button that reigns supreme -- regardless of the privacy concerns it may raise. Today Facebook is expanding its Like feature so that mobile app developers can take advantage of it. Not just content with giving web users the chance to indicate their approval of a particular Facebook post or online article, it is now possible to 'like' any piece of content within a supported app on iOS and Android.
It's a feature that is likely to be picked up very quickly by game developers, so you can expect to see notifications in the near future letting you know that your Facebook friends like level 118 of Candy Crush Saga. The feature was previewed earlier this year, but is now being made available to any developer who wants to use it. Facebook says:
Sending files to someone else has always been a bit of a problem. Often they’re too big for email, sharing via public cloud services raises security concerns and of course flash drives and DVDs can fall into the wrong hands.
Korea-based startup Send Anywhere has an answer to making file transfers easily and safely in the form of an updated version of its iOS app and a new app for Windows Phone.
Microsoft did something rather unexpected earlier this month. The software giant unveiled a revamped MSN, saving the online portal from oblivion -- its biggest merit lately is being the default website for Internet Explorer. The new MSN looks great, connects users to Microsoft's consumer-facing cloud services, and can be tailored to suit their preference. It also makes it easy to trigger a search across the InterWebs. Heck, I have even said it might work as the Bing landing page.
Fast forward to today and Microsoft announces that more than 10 million users have tested the new MSN, with more than 80,000 of them also submitting feedback. Those numbers look really good. And they should, considering the online portal's Microsoft-focused audience. The feedback it has received must have been good also, as Microsoft announces it is rolling out the new MSN in the next three days.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has decided that mobile phones are completely safe to use in-flight, including during take-off and landing. Previous rules required passengers to either switch off phones, or flip them into airplane mode. The EASA's latest decision does not mean that there is an automatic right of mobile use afforded to fliers, but airlines now have the option to permit handset use on their flights. So if you've splashed out on an iPhone 6, bendy or otherwise, you can show it off to your fellow fliers.
While airplane mode blocks the ability to send and receive calls and messages, many passengers have found that they are asked to switch off entirely and refrain from using their handset in any way. The new ruling will arm passengers with more ammunition if they want to argue their case, but it's likely that many European flights will quickly bow to popular demand and permit the use of phones.
Apple makes amazing products and software, but every company is bound to make a mistake. Unfortunately, iOS 8.0.1 was quite the doozy. You see, the update crippled the brand new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus by taking away the ability to make phone calls and use the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Apple was responsible however, and pulled the update very quickly. Before the update was removed, many people had already applied it and found themselves in dire straits.
Losing the ability to make phone calls is not only annoying but extremely dangerous too. Forget about the teens that just want to talk about gossip and the mall, and consider medical professionals that depend on communication or a stranded mother on the side of the road. Today, Apple rights a wrong and releases iOS 8.0.2 which undoes the damage of the previous release and introduces other bug fixes too. Kudos to the company for fixing the bug so quickly.
When Apple acquired Beats Music earlier in the year, there were obvious fears that the service would shut down. While this type of rumor is often well-founded, it seems fears were misplaced on this occasion: Apple has no plans to shutter Beats Music. A company spokesperson made a statement to the Guardian making it clear that suggestions that the subscription music service is to close down are "not true". But could the brand end up being eaten by iTunes?
Beats Music has not been a runaway success. It has subscribers, but not all that many. With Apple's backing there is a chance that its popularity could increase, but it can be difficult to shake off the reputation of an old name -- Beats Music has singularly failed to reach the celebrated heights of Beats Electronic's headphones. Having spent $3 billion on Beats Music and Beats Electronic, it would be strange if Apple just gave up on a portion of its investment.
There is plenty of competition in the cloud storage space, but, unfortunately, for the most part any massive changes are limited to paid plans. They get bigger, they get cheaper, but the free tier, which most users get first, remains largely as limiting as it has always been. Sure, we get a couple of extra gigs for free here and there, but it's all smoke after all, meant to lead us right to the money grabbers. (And who could blame providers for trying to make money?)
Now, Microsoft is doing something rather interesting, as it gives OneDrive users nearly twice as much storage in the free plan, bumping the limit from a so-so 15 GB to a respectable 30 GB. The reason? Well, it's a damn clever one -- the extra freebie is meant to help Apple users who are having trouble with iOS 8 upgrades due to low available storage. Because this is an oft-discussed issue, it is bound to generate some free advertising for Microsoft and OneDrive.
Password-management service LastPass has unveiled LastPass for Premium 3.1.0 for iPad and iPhone users with paid-for LastPass accounts.
Version 3.1.0 taps into two new iOS 8 features to deliver direct support for Safari and Touch ID integration, allowing users to unlock LastPass using their finger rather than a passcode or master password.