Articles about iOS

5 things mobile developers need to consider in 2017

iPhone hand

Android or iOS? Or both? It’s a question anyone who’s been involved in building a mobile app will have asked. Android is still the major player in the development world, due to the simple fact of the size of the market, but it’s foolish to write anything that’s grown from Apple off.

As with just about every trend in technology, it appears that flexibility and fluidity is the choice route. Here are five things developers will need to consider to stay relevant in 2017 and beyond.

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Google expands fact checking to help tackle fake news

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It's something that should delight Donald Trump -- Google is helping to fight fake news. Whether the company's move to help keep web users better informed is in keeping with the US president's penchant for "alternative facts" remains to be seen, but for everyone else it is great news.

Google is far from being the first technology company to lend its support to the fake news fighting army -- Facebook and the BBC are already doing their bit too. The expansion of Google News fact checking means that the Fact Check label is spreading further around the globe, giving people in more parts of the world the assurance that what they're reading has been verified.

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The most secure messaging apps

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IT security has never been more prominent at the forefront of people's minds than it is currently. With a sadly regular supply of hacking horror tales, Internet users are now exercising a great deal of care with the information they share through their networks. Stronger passwords and a reluctance to add personal details are among the more common measures to have become widely implemented.

Another option which people are leaning towards is that of secure messaging apps, a selection of which are profiled in the infographic below by ERS IT Solutions. There doesn’t yet exist a messaging app that is completely impenetrable to hackers, but there are those which distinguish themselves for their encryption of messages so that even if they are intercepted, the messages can’t be deciphered by unsolicited parties.

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Google Maps for iOS and Android gains Lists to save and share your favorite places

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The days of dedicated satnavs are surely numbered, with the likes of Waze and Google Maps bringing turn-by-turn directions to smartphone owners for free. The feature set for these apps just keeps on growing, and Google Maps now includes a new Lists feature which lets you use the app to create and share lists of places.

There are lots of possible uses for Lists -- Google suggests using it to create your bucket list of places to visit, but it's better used to draw up a list of places to visit on vacation, say, and then share it with friends who are planning a similar trip. While lists can only be created in the iOS and Android app, they can also be viewed on the desktop.

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WhatsApp adds two-step verification -- here's how to enable it 

WhatsApp

It has been a little while coming, but WhatsApp is finally rolling out support for two-step verification to its messaging app.

The extra layer of security means that it is now more difficult to gain unauthorized access to an account, and it is a feature that is being made available to iOS, Android and Windows users. With the feature enabled, if you -- or anyone else, for that matter -- tries to verify your phone number on WhatsApp, you -- or they -- will have to provide the 6-digit passcode you create.

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Google makes it much easier to share AMP links 

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A huge proportion of web traffic comes from mobile devices these days, and this means people are often trying to access online articles when they have a slow data connection. For this reason, Facebook introduced Instant Articles, and Google introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages.

Both of these technologies allow for near-instantaneous loading of pre-cached, optimized articles on mobile devices, but they have a problem. Both mask the original URL which can make it difficult to share interesting articles with others. Google has seen the problem and made an important change to the way AMP works, helping to increase trust.

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Microsoft celebrates Outlook mobile's second birthday with the gift of iOS add-ins

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Outlook mobile is, believe it or not, two years old. Microsoft is not fighting the terrible twos, but instead celebrating by bringing add-ins to the iOS Outlook app.

While it is iOS users who are treated to the first look at add-ins, there are plans to bring them to Android as well. In addition to add-ins direct from Microsoft, there are also offerings from the likes of Evernote, GIPHY, Nimble, Trello and Smartsheet which will "help you accomplish awesome things you simply couldn't do before from email."

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Facebook rolls out creepy Discover People feature on mobile, suggesting you make friends with strangers

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If you're using the Facebook app on your phone, you might notice the appearance of a new Discover People section. As you would probably guess this is a feature designed to connect you with people on the social network, but there's something of a creepy twist.

Unlike the current "People you may know" section which suggests that you might like to become friends with people because you have a common acquaintance, the experimental Discover People adopts a different approach. It suggests that you become friends with complete strangers.

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Exploit acquisition program aims to patch mobile vulnerabilities faster

Phone gears

Even after new mobile threats have been identified the number of devices in use means it can take time for patches to be rolled out to all users.

Mobile threat defense company Zimperium is hoping to tackle this problem with the launch of a $1.5 million bounty program to purchase N-day exploits which have been identified but are still usable on unpatched devices.

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LEGO Life is a safe social network that lets kids show off their creations

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Who doesn't love LEGO? Well... apart from parents who find themselves standing on the little plastic bricks in bare feet, that is! One of the joys of LEGO is not just that it lets kids -- young and old -- get creative, and it's great to share your creations.

With this in mind, LEGO has created a new social network designed for kids. Unlike Facebook and other older social networks, LEGO Life is designed for under-13s and there is a strong focus on security and anonymity.

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Starbucks embraces voice ordering through both its iOS app and Amazon Alexa

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Starbucks coffee fuels the days of many people. While the company's beverages are a bit expensive compared to, say, McDonalds or 7-11, they are chock full of caffeine and very tasty. Quite frankly, I drink Starbucks coffee or tea pretty much every day, as I often work in its locations -- they have clean tables and free Wi-Fi.

The company has often embraced technology within its stores -- it offers a nice mobile app with Spotify integration, and many of its tables offer wireless smartphone charging. Today, the company rolls out voice ordering through its own mobile iOS app or Amazon Alexa. Unfortunately, the iOS feature will be limited to 1,000 beta testers at first.

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WhatsApp update will allow users to track a contact's location in real time

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Facebook-owned WhatsApp was in the headlines recently because of concerns over the way it implemented end-to-end-encryption. Analysis of a beta version of the chat app showed that there seem to be plans to introduce message editing and deletion options, and new reports suggest that real-time location tracking could also be on the cards.

As reported by the Independent, version 2.16.399 of WhatsApp for Android and version 2.17.3.28 for iOS include a feature called Live Location Tracking. It's an option designed to make it easier to meet up in the flesh, but it's also something that will be of concern for privacy advocates.

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Apple introduces Night Shift in macOS Sierra 10.12.4 to help Mac users sleep better

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The latest official macOS Sierra update that Apple recently introduced did not bring any new features to the table, as it focused on improving performance and fixing bugs, but that is about to change as Night Shift will finally arrive in the upcoming macOS Sierra 10.12.4.

Night Shift should sound familiar to iPhone users, as Apple debuted this feature nearly a year ago in iOS 9.3. What is it? Night Shift is a mode that, when activated, reduces blue light to help you sleep better.

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Twitter relegates Moments to a subset of the new Explore tab

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If there's one thing that irks Twitter users (actually, there are many things, but stick with us...) it's the disorganized way in which information is scattered hither and thither. Keen to get users to break out of their timelines and see what else it out there, the Twitter app is undergoing a makeover.

The change means that the existing search, Moments, and trends are now combined into a single, more manageable Explore tab. It's a simple change, but one that will make life easier for Twitter explorers.

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Apple to allow developers to respond to App Store reviews

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For far too many years the process of providing feedback in the App Store has been a one-way dialog. At long last Apple is opening things up so developers will be able to respond to reviews that are left by customers.

References to the new option is to be found in the documentation for iOS 10.3 beta, and Apple says that it will be available to developers when the final version of iOS 10.3 is released; it will also be available in the Mac App Store. Importantly, just as with Google Play, responses that are left will be visible to all and a new API will make it possible to leave feedback from within apps.

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