Google adds voice typing, Doodles and more emoji to Gboard on iOS

Google’s powerful Gboard app might now be on Android, but it’s the iPhone version that is receiving most of the updates. As part of its most recent overhaul, the search giant has extended support to 15 new countries*, and also added a number of new features that make it easier to say what you have to say.

As of now, users have access to all of the latest emoji in iOS 10. If you don’t remember, one of the most useful Gboard features is the ability to search and find the perfect emoji, allowing you to decorate texts and emails without scrolling through endless lists of icons.

By incorporating search into its keyboard, you don’t need to visit Google.com to find what you’re after and share it. Keeping with this theme, the app now also hosts Google Doodles, notifying you of new additions via the animated “G” button. If it’s moving, hit the icon and Gboard will display more information about the Doodle on that particular day.

Perhaps the most useful feature is voice support. Like the native keyboard, all you need to do is press the microphone and talk. If you’ve used Google’s voice services before, you’ll know that they are pretty reliable, so it might come in handy when you have your hands full or need your eyes fixed on something more important.


*Supported languages include: Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Polish, Romanian, Swedish, Catalan, Hungarian, Malay, Russian, Latin American Spanish and Turkish. They can be selected by opening the Gboard app and choosing “Languages”, then “Add Language.”

Via: Google Blog

Source: gBoard (App Store)

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VSCO adds full RAW photo support to its iPhone app

VSCO, smartphone photographers’ image tweaking app of choice, is letting iOS users tap into all the original image data captured on iPhone 6’s and up. Alongside a host of new community features, it’s offering full RAW image support on capture, importing and editing. This means photo editors will be able to access a wider range of colors and tones that are sometimes lost due to compression on typical JPEG photos. RAW support will even work on your must-share DSLR images too.

The update is also the culmination of the VSCO team’s efforts to better showcase its community and editorial team content. This includes a machine-learning engine that surfaces related images of what it spots in images. There’s also a new search and a discovery section specifically for notable community posts.

VSCO has introduced a new (invite-only, subscription-based) membership at an early-access price of $ 20 per year. This will give users monthly updates and early access to filter presets, particularly VSCO’s new Film X interactive presets. These tap into SENS, its new imaging engine, and attempt to offer, according to VSCO CEO and founder Joel Flory: “a physical model of film and not just a static preset.” New presets currently include the Fuji Pro 400H, and Kodak Portra 160 and 400. According to the team, they’ve tried to create a physical mode of film — and that also includes real-time shaders that you can tweak during live capture.

If you’re willing to subscribe, you’ll net the entire preset library (over 100 of those), which total around $ 200 if purchased through the app. RAW support, at least, comes for free in the new update available now. Oh and for that invite-only membership? Add your name to the waitlist here, and get ready to feel exclusive.

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Google adds a food delivery shortcut to Maps for iOS

Not content with a simple navigation app, Google has updated Maps for iOS with a handy food delivery shortcut. So when you tap on a nearby restaurant, perhaps to see its opening times, you’ll soon see a button titled “Place an Order.” Tapping this will give you a few different options (these will vary depending on your country and the business in question) such as Grubhub, Seamless and Eat 24 in the US. Select your preferred service and you’ll be thrown across to the relevant iPhone app. It’s a small addition, sure, but one that could make ordering dinner just a little faster at night.

Via: Mac Rumors

Source: Google Maps (iOS)

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Apple releases iOS 10.1, adds Portrait mode to the iPhone 7 Plus

The Portrait mode for Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus has been in the works for months, and now it’s ready for the masses… sort of. People with the 7 Plus who are running beta software have been able to shoot photos full of artificial bokeh for over a month now, but Apple just pushed out its iOS 10.1 update, which means Portrait mode is here (along with a bunch of bugfixes and support for transit directions in Japan).

Now, here’s the thing: Even though you don’t need to be enrolled in the iOS beta program to use the feature anymore, the feature itself still isn’t completely done. Once the update is installed, the camera app asks if you’d like to “try the beta” when you swipe into the new Portrait position.

Our professional recommendation? Dive right in. Portrait mode might not be completely complete, but it’s still capable of producing seriously nice headshots. In case you missed it the first time around, the feature uses the iPhone 7 Plus’s two cameras in tandem; the primary 12-megapixel sensor captures the image as normal, but the second, wide-angle sensor is used to determine how far away the subject is.

All of that data gets mashed up into a nine-layer depth map, providing the context needed to artfully blur out backgrounds while keeping faces and subjects closer to the phone remain crisp and intact. Apple’s goal was to build a dead-simple photography experience that yields pictures that look like they were shot on expensive SLR cameras, and for the most part, Apple did an impressive job.

This photo represents well the sort of quality you can expect out of Portrait mode. The focus stays locked on the face and hands, and the windows in the background are blurred pretty dramatically. Thanks to that nine-layer depth map, you can see areas where blurring is very subtle, like the top of the subject’s head and the bottom of her scarf.

You don’t need to take photos of people to get some mileage out of Portrait mode either. Have cats prancing around? Or a sweet new mug you need to share? In my experience, as long as you’re within proper range (the app tells you when you are) and there’s enough contrast between the foreground and background, you’ll get that pleasant background blurring.

It’s when you’re in well-lit environments with lots of similar colors that Portrait mode seems to have trouble — that’s often when you’ll see edges blurred when they shouldn’t be. Just check out this photo of a cactus precariously perched on a railing. The camera didn’t have trouble differentiating between the cool blue of the pot and the trees in the background, but it obviously had some difficulty telling where the cactus ended and the trees began.

These disappointments are rare, though, and will probably become less frequent as people continue to put Portrait mode through its paces. Most of the big problems have been solved — now Apple has to focus on the fine-tuning (which is obviously easier said than done). At this point, Portrait mode is still imperfect, but there’s nonetheless a lot to like about it, starting with how simple it is to use. It’s fast, it’s impressive and it’s only going to get better with time. Interested in taking it for a spin? Jump into your iPhone 7 Plus’s settings and hit that software update button. It’ll show up sooner or later.

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Dropbox for iOS lets you sign PDFs, adds iMessage app

Dropbox isn’t a company that makes flashy, high-profile changes to its products. Instead, they’re all about refinement, making small changes over time that end up making things faster and easier for customers. That’s happening today with the Dropbox iOS app: the company is rolling out five new features, with another important one, iPad split-screen multitasking, coming soon. None of the new features are groundbreaking on their own, but they take advantage of some new iOS 10 features and add up to a Dropbox experience that makes it easier for the company’s customers to Get Things Done.

First up is the ability to add your signature to PDFs stored in Dropbox — you can drop a text field anywhere in a document that you want to type in, and you can also open up a window to trace your signature on your device’s touchscreen. Much like the document scanning feature Dropbox added in June, this isn’t something you’ll use every day, but it could be a lifesaver when you need it. It’s certainly a lot easier than printing out, signing, scanning and then emailing a document like a lease or school permission slip. I’ve done that dance far too often lately and would be happy to try Dropbox’s workflow.

The next set of new features relies on iOS 10’s new capabilities. You can now share files through iMessage — the app shows up in the iMessage app area, and tapping it brings up a list of your most recent files. When you send them through iMessage, the recipient will get a little preview of the document. That’s an improvement on how things worked before; you could send files through iMessage by using the share panel inside the Dropbox app, but the recipient would only get an unwieldy link, with no info on what the file they were going to receive was.

Dropbox’s “today” screen widget is also more useful now. Instead of just showing a list of your recently edited files, there are three shortcuts that let you scan a document, upload a photo or create a new Microsoft Office file. The scanner shortcut seems particularly useful; a swipe and a tap will let you capture that receipt you need for expenses before you forget about it and lose it forever.

There’s also a new version control feature for mobile: if you’re in a shared file, you’ll receive a little notification if someone else has made changes to the document. You can then just tap to refresh and see what’s changed. Given that staying in sync across shared documents remains one of the trickiest things to do, this is a most welcome change — although we don’t imagine that most people do so much work on their phones that they’ll need to be alerted of changes in real time. It’s still helpful for those doing a lot of work on their mobile devices, though.

The last few updates are for the iPad. If you’re watching a video stored in your Dropbox, you can now view it in the picture-in-picture mode Apple added to iOS 9 last year. The other, more useful update is “coming soon” — that’s full split-screen support. That’s one of the most important things a good iPad app can offer at this point, and it’s a little surprising that it took Dropbox a year to get there. But if you have documents stored in Dropbox that you want to keep an eye on while writing or browsing the web or doing anything else, this feature will finally make that possible.

Matt Pan from Dropbox told me that these features were the latest efforts to both bring the full desktop functionality of the program to mobile as well as continue the company’s mission to offer its tools to users inside software they’re already using. That latter case is what Dropbox is doing with iMessage and what it has already done with Microsoft Office. Not everyone will automatically find a use for each new tool — but if you use Dropbox, probably at least one of these new features will be handy, and it’s entirely possible you’ll find a few others come in handy down the line. The update rolls out for iPhone and iPad today, and split-screen view on the iPad will arrive “in the coming weeks.”

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Pebble’s latest update adds quick views and more shortcuts

When Pebble announced its latest Pebble 2 and Time 2 watches earlier this year, it also revealed several software improvements that would roll out not just to the new models, but to most other existing Pebble hardware. Today, the company is finally releasing that update. Now even old-school Pebble users can get Quick View peeks, shortcut buttons, a revamped Health app plus more email features for iOS users.

Available only to the latest Time edition devices, you can now press down on the watchface to check out upcoming events thanks to a new Quick View peek that takes up just a small sliver of the display. Tap it for more info or hit the Back button to dismiss it. There’s also a new Launcher menu — press Select to see it — plus an App Glances feature that gives you a preview of info without having to open the app.

The update also adds 4-button Quick Launch, which essentially lets you map the side buttons to specific shortcuts — you trigger them by long-pressing each key. You could do this before the Up and Down buttons but now you can do so with the Back and Select keys as well.

Seeing as Pebble is a lot more fitness-focused these days, it also took the opportunity to redesign its Health app. Now you’re able to quickly glance at weekly charts to get a better idea of your progress toward your step or sleep goals. You can also just press the up button on the watchface to access the Health app that much quicker. Pebble Health settings are also now in the main settings area instead of the Apps tab.

Last but not least, Pebble is also giving iOS users a bit more email functionality for those with Google accounts. At long last, iPhone fans can reply, delete and archive email directly from Pebble notifications, be it from Inbox, Gmail or the Mail app.

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Facebook adds SMS to Messenger for Android

A few months ago, Facebook was reported to be testing SMS integration in its Messenger app for Android. Now, that feature is officially live. It’s entirely optional, so you’ll need to enable it. To do so, head over to Settings in the Messenger app, select “SMS” and then choose “Default SMS app.” This means all of your text messages will be sent and received on the Messenger app. Your SMS conversations will be in purple to differentiate them from the default Messenger blue.

Interestingly, SMS in Messenger doesn’t support just text and images. It also supports rich content like stickers, GIFs, emojis and location sharing — just like regular Messenger conversations. Facebook also wanted to clarify that none of the messages are stored on the company’s servers; all of the text messages are sent via SMS as per usual. That does mean that regular texting fees do apply.

This feature is only for the Android app due to the limitations of iOS. But seeing as Apple’s own Messaging is getting a lot of these Messenger-like enhancements — emojis, stickers etc — iPhone users probably aren’t missing out too much.

Source: Facebook

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