Runtastic releases ‘Sleep Better’ app for tracking sleep habits without additional hardware

Runtastic, makers of the popular fitness tracking app of the same name, today announced the introduction of a new app focused on improving sleep habits. Rather than using a wearable or bedside sensor, the company’s new Sleep Better app uses an iPhone placed next to your pillow to track sleep patterns with no additional hardware required. Using the iPhone’s sensors, the app offers sleep tracking features including data on Duration, Cycles and Efficiency as well as Smart Alarm & Wake-Up Window features, Moon Phase tracking, and more. The app is also fully compatible with Apple’s HealthKit and Health app in iOS 8: Read more

WhatsApp update shows read receipts, leaked image suggests future VOIP feature

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Although this isn’t an actual update to the app, WhatsApp is now sporting a nifty new feature that—although small—might make a big difference in how users of the messaging app stay in touch with their friends. The Facebook-owned app, which would previously show double check marks if a sent message had been received, now goes one step further and turns those check marks blue if the message has been read.

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Google Maps for iOS updated with a fresh new Material Design layout, integrated OpenTable and Uber

Update: The new Google Maps app is now available on the App Store.

Google announced an update for its Google Maps for iOS app today that adds a fresh new Material Design layout focusing on bright colors and real world surfaces and shadows. The software’s refreshed interface is set to roll out over the next few days, with new features like dinner reservations from OpenTable (US only) and enhanced information cards with photos and reviews of popular attractions near your location.

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Microsoft adding Dropbox integration including syncing and sharing to Office for iOS

Office Dropbox iPad

Microsoft and Dropbox announced a new partnership between the two companies today and a commitment to bring integration between Dropbox and Office apps on iOS and Android. Currently Office users rely on local storage for saving files or Microsoft’s own OneDrive service for saving and syncing files, but the newly announced partnership will allow Office users to use the popular Dropbox service as an additional storage and syncing option and introduce new features between the productivity apps and syncing service. Read more

MCX CEO says CurrentC exclusivity deal that blocks Apple Pay will expire within ‘months, not years’

Apple Pay CurrentC

After an undeniably bad two weeks of press, MCX CEO Dekkers Davidson seems to have changed the company’s tune on CurrentC’s exclusivity policy that prompted retailers like CVS and Rite Aid to disable NFC terminals and block Apple’s iPhone 6-backed mobile payment system Apple Pay. Davidson told Re/code in an interview that MCX, the merchant consortium behind the Apple Pay competitor known as CurrentC, will lift the exclusivity policy in a matter of “months, not years.

Previously, the MCX CEO only vaguely hinted that the retail consortium would consider allowing participants to accept both CurrentC, which is still in development, and Apple Pay, which launched in the United States earlier last month, saying that the scenario “could be entirely possible.” Read more

Several new banks get Apple Pay support including USAA, US Bank, Barclaycard, PNC, more

USAA-Apple-Pay-01Update: USAAUS Bank and Navy Federal have just confirmed Apple Pay support starting today. In addition, MasterCard confirmed a roll out for Barclaycard, USAA and Navy Federal Credit Union, while readers report cards from PNC, and M&T Bank also working in Apple Pay.

Ahead of a previously announced Nov. 7 launch for Apple Pay support, a number of users today report being able to load USAA issued cards into the new payment service. We’ve received tips from readers regarding support for USAA Debit MasterCards and a long list of other customers online report support for other card types through the bank.

Apple has yet to update its support document detailing supported banks and card types. Currently the list includes American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi, J.P Morgan, Merrill Lynch, U.S. Trust and Wells Fargo.

A long list of other supported banks and cards are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks and months, however. Apple previously said it had signed up approximately 500 banks for Apple Pay in the US. Read more

Starwood Hotels begins rollout of iPhone/Apple Watch virtual room keys, Hilton to follow (Video)

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Starwood Hotels has officially launched its SPG Keyless service, allowing guests to use their iPhone (and, in the Spring, Apple Watch) to unlock their hotel doors, bypassing the front desk. The boutique hotel group first announced the project back in January.

1. After booking a reservation at a keyless hotel, SPG members are invited to opt-in to SPG Keyless and register their phone through the SPG App.

2. Approximately 24 hours before arrival, the guest receives his/her room number and Bluetooth key via the app.

3. Upon arrival at the hotel, the guest can completely bypass the front desk (where available) and go directly to his/her room.

4. Then, after ensuring his/her Bluetooth is enabled, the guest simply opens the SPG App, taps the smartphone on the door lock, waits for the green light and enters the room.

The service goes live today at three Starwood brands: Aloft, Element and The W. Read more

Microsoft redesigns Outlook for Mac, says new Office coming in 2015

Outlook for Mac 2014

Microsoft has today announced an updated version of its Outlook for Mac software with an updated design and performance improvements. The new version of email, calendar, and contacts app from Microsoft is available through the company’s Office 365 subscription service,  and Microsoft says it offers a more consistent experience with the iPhone and iPad versions.

In addition to releasing the new version of Outlook for Mac, Microsoft has shared that it will ship a new version of Office for Mac in 2015. An overhauled version of Office, which includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote, will be available for Mac users as a public beta in the first half of 2015 while Microsoft is targeting the second half of 2015 for the commercial release. Read more

1Password for iOS updated w/ Touch ID lock screen improvements & more

Apple SVP Craig Federighi featuring 1Password at October Apple event

Apple SVP Craig Federighi featuring 1Password at October Apple event

Apple gave a prominent shoutout to the 1Password secure wallet app earlier this month when Craig Federighi, who leads the OS X and iOS teams, mentioned the password management app’s support for Touch ID in an iOS 8 review on stage. AgileBits, the developers behind 1Password, mentioned the shoutout in their latest release notes for an updated version of the iPhone and iPad app which brings a list of new improvements.

The latest version of 1Password for iPhone and iPad brings an improvement to the app’s lock screen when using Touch ID. Specifically, 1Password now moves the lock out of the way when using Touch ID as seen on stage in Federighi’s demonstration. This change means users unlocking 1Password to access stored passwords using the Touch ID fingerprint scanner can see more of the lock screen artwork. The update also brings speak improvements to the lock screen as well as folder syncing improvements for iCloud users and additional improvements.

1Password for iPhone and iPad is available for free on the App Store (a $9.99 in-app purchase unlocks pro features), and you can read the latest change log below. Read more

Smule’s popular Sing! Karaoke app updated with collaborative video features

Smule, which makes a variety of music-related iPhone apps like Guitar!, Magic Piano, and AutoRap, has a new version of its popular Sing! Karaoke app out today with a major feature for the app: video. The new version of Sing! Karaoke, which features “a huge catalog of top hits” with instrumental tracks and lyric guides for singing along to, does three things with the newly added video feature. Read more

Skype for iPhone gets save/delete photos feature, adds improved chat load times, synced avatars, more

Skype-iPhone-chatFollowing an update to version 7.1 for Mac yesterday, today Skype for iPhone is getting its own update that brings a few highly requested new features.

First up, version 5.7 of Skype for iPhone introduces the ability to save and delete photos: If you want to save a memorable photo to your camera roll or delete a sent photo from a chat, simply press and hold the image and the options will appear.

Also new in the updated app is much improved performance, according to Skype, including faster chat load times especially when entering a chat through notifications: Now when you receive a notification and tap it to open the app, the message will be there waiting for you without any delays.

Skype is also making avatars work as you’d expect for all users, across all chats types and synced across platforms. In addition the updated app is introducing easier to use people list search and filter options: Read more

Any.do gets a massive update to version 2.0 with a focus on collaboration

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Any.do, the popular to-do list management application for iOS, has received a huge update to version 2.0, which introduces a new focus on collaboration among teams and families. All of the app’s previous functions still work the way they did in previous versions, so existing users won’t need to re-learn anything, but those who want better support for groups and sharing will find a lot of useful enhancements in this update.

A new chat function allows members of a project to talk with each other, share files from Dropbox, add and remove group members, and more. Shared lists and tasks make it easy to quickly assign work, update the group’s progress, or just add something to a shared grocery list.

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