Posts with «mobile apps» label

Google’s accessibility app Lookout can use your phone’s camera to find and recognize objects

Google has updated some of its accessibility apps to add capabilities that will make them easier to use for people who need them. It has rolled out a new version of the Lookout app, which can read text and even lengthy documents out loud for people with low vision or blindness. The app can also read food labels, recognize currency and can tell users what it sees through the camera and in an image. Its latest version comes with a new "Find" mode that allows users to choose from seven item categories, including seating, tables, vehicles, utensils and bathrooms.

When users choose a category, the app will be able to recognize objects associated with them as the user moves their camera around a room. It will then tell them the direction or distance to the object, making it easier for users to interact with their surroundings. Google has also launched an in-app capture button, so they can take photos and quickly get AI-generated descriptions. 


The company has updated its Look to Speak app, as well. Look to Speak enables users to communicate with other people by selecting from a list of phrases, which they want the app to speak out loud, using eye gestures. Now, Google has added a text-free mode that gives them the option to trigger speech by choosing from a photo book containing various emojis, symbols and photos. Even better, they can personalize what each symbol or image means for them. 

Google has also expanded its screen reader capabilities for Lens in Maps, so that it can tell the user the names and categories of the places it sees, such as ATMs and restaurants. It can also tell them how far away a particular location is. In addition, it's rolling out improvements for detailed voice guidance, which provides audio prompts that tell the user where they're supposed to go. 

Finally, Google has made Maps' wheelchair information accessible on desktop, four years after it launched on Android and iOS. The Accessible Places feature allows users to see if the place they're visiting can accommodate their needs — businesses and public venues with an accessible entrance, for example, will show a wheelchair icon. They can also use the feature to see if a location has accessible washrooms, seating and parking. The company says Maps has accessibility information for over 50 million places at the moment. Those who prefer looking up wheelchair information on Android and iOS will now also be able to easily filter reviews focusing on wheelchair access. 

Google made all these announcements at this year's I/O developer conference, where it also revealed that it open-sourced more code for the Project Gameface hands-free "mouse," allowing Android developers to use it for their apps. The tool allows users to control the cursor with their head movements and facial gestures, so that they can more easily use their computers and phones. 

Catch up on all the news from Google I/O 2024 right here!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Sony PSP emulator PPSSPP hits the iOS App Store

PPSSPP, an app that's capable of emulating PSP games, has joined the growing number of retro game emulators on the iOS App Store. The program has been around for almost 12 years, but prior to this, you could only install it on your device through workarounds. "Thanks to Apple for relaxing their policies, allowing retro games console emulators on the store," its developer Henrik Rydgård wrote in his announcement. If you'll recall, Apple updated its developer guidelines in early April, and since then, the company has approved an app that can emulate Game Boy and DS games and another that can play PS1 titles

Rydgård's app is free to download, but as he told The Verge, there's $5 gold version coming, as well. While the paid version of PPSSPP for Android does have some extra features, it's mostly available so that you can support his work. At the moment, the emulator you can download from the App Store doesn't support Magic Keyboard for the iPad, because he originally enabled compatibility using an undocumented API. Retro Achievements is also currently unavailable. Rydgård said they'll be re-added in future updates.

The emulator's other versions support the Just-in-time (JIT) compiler, which optimizes code to make it run more smoothly on a particular platform. However, the one on the App Store doesn't and will not ever support it unless Apple changes its rules. Rydgård says iOS devices are "generally fast enough" to run almost all PSP games at full speed, though, so you may not notice much of a difference. Of course, the PPSSPP program only contains the emulator itself — you're responsible for finding games you can play on the app, since Apple will not allow developers to upload games they don't own the rights to. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

A free PS1 emulator for iPhone is burning up the App Store charts

It’s only been a month since Apple started allowing retro game emulators on the App Store and we already have our second bona-fide hit. The newly-released Gamma is a free PS1 emulator with plenty of bells and whistles for those looking to dive back into the world of blocky polygons. It joins the massively popular Nintendo emulator Delta. We have no idea why these apps keep getting named after the Greek alphabet, as both are made by completely separate devs.

Gamma comes courtesy of developer ZodTTD, which has been in the space nearly since the dawn of the iPhone. The app is primarily for Apple’s smartphone, but there is a dedicated iPad version, which is always nice. Gamma integrates with Bluetooth controllers and keyboards, offering a myriad of input options. It also features customizable on-screen controller skins, but we all know how frustrating it can be to play old-school games with a touchscreen. It’s nice to have the option though.

The app uses Google Drive and Dropbox syncing for backing up game files and save states, and the software will even automatically grab game cover artwork. The whole thing’s actually based on the codebase for Delta, according to reporting by The Verge. As always with emulators, you’ll have to supply the games. To stay on the right side of the law, convert titles that you already own into ROM files.

PS1 emulator Gamma currently the sixth most-downloaded entertainment app on iOS

— Stephen Totilo (@stephentotilo) May 13, 2024

There’s obviously a mammoth appetite for emulators on the App Store. Delta, the Nintendo emulator, has been a mainstay on the charts since launch and Gamma currently sits at number six, above streamers like Disney+ and Hulu but below TikTok. The reviews, however, are mixed, with many users complaining that the UI needs a refresh and that some third-party controllers, like Backbone devices, cause it to crash. Fixes are likely coming in the near future. In the meantime, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee and Crash Team Racing are both begging for a revisit.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Microsoft's web-based mobile game store opens in July

In a couple of months, you'll be able to get Microsoft's mobile games from its own store. Xbox President Sarah Bond has revealed at the Bloomberg Technology Summit that the company is launching a web-based store where you can download its mobile games and get add-ons or in-app purchases at a discount. Bond said the company has decided to launch a browser-based store instead of an app to make it "accessible across all devices, all countries, no matter what" so that you don't get "locked to a single ecosystem."

Microsoft will only host its own games to start with, which means it will feature a lot of titles from Activision Blizzard. If you'll recall, it snapped up the gaming developer and publisher in a $70 billion deal that closed last year. You'll most likely find Candy Crush Saga, which has apparently generated $20 billion in revenue since it launched in 2012, and Call of Duty's mobile games in the first batch of titles available for download. Bond said that Minecraft may also be one of the first games you can get. 

An Xbox spokesperson told Bloomberg that this is "just the first step in [the company's] journey to building a trusted app store with its roots in gaming." Microsoft plans to open the app store to third-party publishers in the future, though it didn't share a timeline for that goal. 

The company first announced its intention to launch a gaming store for Android and iOS devices last year shortly before rules under the EU's Digital Markets Act became applicable. To comply with DMA rules, Apple and Google have to allow third-party app stores to be accessible on their platforms and to offer alternative billing systems for purchases. They're also compelled to allow app sideloading, which will be a massive change for Apple, a company known for its "walled garden" approach to business. 

Operators of third-party app stores will get to avoid some of the fees Google and Apple charge, but they'd still have to pay the companies for bypassing their mobile platforms' official stores. Both tech giants have already outlined how they're changing things up to comply with the DMA regulations. The companies' rivals found the changes they're making insufficient, however, prompting the European Commission to start investigating their compliance plans. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

An insulin pump software bug has injured over 200 people

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a Class I recall for the t:connect mobile app on iOS, which is used to monitor and control the t:slim X2 insulin pump used by people with diabetes. It was supposedly the first smartphone app that can program insulin doses that the FDA had approved. The agency issued the highest level of recall it could, because the app had serious software problems that could've have caused life-threatening conditions or even death. In fact, while there were no mortalities reported, the FDA received 224 injury reports as of April 15. 

According to the agency, version 2.7 of the t:connect mobile app had a bug that initiated a cycle wherein the app would crash and then would be relaunched by the iOS platform again and again. That apparently led to excessive Bluetooth communication that would drain the pump's battery and cause it to shut down earlier than the user would expect. Insulin pumps like the t:slim X2 are designed to automatically deliver insulin under the user's skin at set time intervals and whenever needed. They're supposed to take on the burden of managing the user's sugar levels so that they can go about their day without having to stop and inject themselves or if they're prone to getting hypo or hyperglycemia. 

If a pump shuts down without warning and before the user expects it to, it could lead to the under-delivery of insulin. As the FDA explained in its recall, that could result in hyperglycemia and even diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening complication caused by the inability of the body to turn sugar into energy due to the lack of insulin. Tandem Diabetes Care, the company behind the app and the pump, sent all affected customers an emergency notice back in March. It advised them to update their app, to monitor their pump battery level closely and to carry backup insulin supplies. The FDA's recall notice could reach potentially affected customers who may not have seen the manufacturer's alerts, however, or who may have brushed it aside. Malfunctioning insulin pumps had been linked to multiple deaths in the past, so users may want to keep a close eye on theirs regardless of the brand. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The Morning After: Microsoft’s OpenAI partnership was born from Google AI envy

Emails from the Department of Justice’s antitrust case against Google revealed how Microsoft executives were alarmed by and even envious of Google’s AI lead.

In an email thread, CTO Kevin Scott wrote he was “very, very worried” about Google’s rapidly growing AI capabilities. He said he initially dismissed the company’s “game-playing stunts,” likely referring to Google’s AlphaGo models. The emails reference Gmail’s autocomplete features, which execs called “scary good.” Microsoft struggled to copy Google’s BERT-large, an AI model that deciphers the meaning and context of words in a sentence. It took the company six hours to replicate the model, while Google inched further ahead on more elaborate, bigger models.

Scott said Microsoft had “very smart” people on its machine-learning teams but their ambitions had been curbed and that their company was “multiple years behind the competition in terms of ML scale.” This all led to a billion-dollar push into OpenAI in 2019. It’s since invested $13 billion.

— Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

The Cheyenne Supercomputer is going for a fraction of its list price at auction right now

Batman: Arkham Shadow is the first big exclusive VR game for the Quest 3

May's PlayStation Plus games include Ghostrunner 2 and the modern classic Tunic

​​You can get these reports delivered daily direct to your inbox. Subscribe right here!

LinkedIn now has daily Wordle-style games

What connects you with a B2B marketer in West Virginia? Four letters.

LinkedIn, the career-centric social network, is getting into gaming. But the kind of earnest, word-based games your mom would let you play when you were a kid. LinkedIn describes them as “thinking-oriented games,” though the format will likely look familiar to fans of The New York Times Games app. You can only play each game once a day, and you can share your score with friends. And just maybe... strike up a conversation on how you can help each other with targeted SaaS projects. Yes, I have feelings about who hits me up on LinkedIn.

Continue reading.

TikTok might be trying to circumvent Apple’s in-app purchase rules

It appears to be directing users to “avoid in-app service fees.”

TikTok is allegedly violating Apple’s App Store rules, with the app allowing (even recommending) particular users to purchase its coins directly from its website. TikTok has apparently given some iOS users the option to “Try recharging on to avoid in-app service fees” — namely Apple’s 30 percent commission on purchases, which are more likely than not passed onto those users. It’s definitely not available to all users and seems to be there for TikTok users who have previously bought a large number of coins — the TikTok whales, if you will.

Continue reading.

Rabbit denies claims its R1 virtual assistant is a glorified Android app

Someone pulled the APK out and put it on an Android phone.


The Rabbit R1, a pocket-sized AI virtual assistant device, runs Android under the hood. Now early users have been able to tease out the R1 APK, install it on an Android phone and make it work — if not with all the features. If that’s the case, what’s the point in the $200 gadget?

In a statement sent to Android Authority, Rabbit CEO Jesse Lyu, said the Rabbit R1 is “not an Android app.” He added the R1 ran on very bespoke AOSP (Android Open Source Project) build and lower-level firmware modifications, so a local bootleg APK won’t be able to access most R1 services. We’re wrapping up our own detailed review — stay tuned.

Continue reading.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Anthropic now has a Claude chatbot app for iOS

Anthropic is making its Claude AI easier to access on mobile. The company has released a Claude mobile app for iOS that any user can download for free. Similar to the mobile web version of the chatbot, the app syncs users' conversations with Claude across devices, allowing them to jump from a computer to the app (or vice versa) without losing their chat history. Users will also be able to upload files and images straight from their iPhone's gallery — or take a photo on the spot — if they need Claude to process or analyze them in real time. They'll be able to download and access the Claude app whatever plan they're using, even if they're not paying for the service. 

If they do decide to pay for Claude, they now have a new option other than Pro. The new Team plan provides greater usage than the Pro tier so that members can have more conversations with the chatbot. It also enables users to process longer documents, such as research papers and contracts, thanks to its 200,000 context window. The Team plan gives users access to the Claude 3 model family, as well, which includes Opus, Sonnet and Haiku. It will cost subscribers $30 per user per month, with a minimum head count of five users per team. 

Back in March, Anthropic claimed in a blog post that its Claude 3 language model had outperformed ChatGPT and Google's Gemini in several key industry benchmarks. It was better at graduate-level reasoning, multilingual math and coding (among many other metrics), the company said, showing Claude 3's benchmark results against its staunchest rivals. The most powerful Claude 3 model, the Opus, even apparently showed "near-human" abilities with rapid response rates that make it ideal for more complex and time-sensitive tasks. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

TikTok might be going around Apple's in-app purchase rules for its coins

Another day, another company tests Apple's resolve. This time, it's TikTok allegedly violating the company's rules for apps, with the video platform seemingly allowing some users to purchase its coins directly from its website. TikTok has apparently given some iOS users the option to "Try recharging on to avoid in-app service fees" — namely Apple's 30 percent commission on purchases.

According to photos shared on X (formerly Twitter) by David Tesler, co-founder of the app Sendit, TikTok is prompting users to save around 25 percent when purchasing coins (used to tip creators) thanks to lower third-party service fees. They can then use Apple Pay, PayPal or a credit or debit card to complete their transaction. It's unclear why only some users have access to this circumnavigation; one hypothesis is the feature was turned on for individuals who previously purchased a large number of coins.

TikTok might get banned from the app store next week

Why? It looks like they’re circumventing apple fee by directing users to purchase coins via external payment methods

— David Tesler (@getdavenow) April 30, 2024

Apple notably kicked Fortnite off its app store in 2020 after Epic Games introduced discounts on the game's currency for anyone who directly purchased it. The incident set off a multi-year legal battle, with Apple reinstating Epic Games' developer account in March after the European Union began looking into the situation. More recently, Apple has faced pushback from Spotify and rejected updates that would have displayed the music streamer's pricing and allowed in-app plan purchases. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Spotify tests Apple's resolve with new pricing update in the EU

It's a post-Digital Markets Act (DMA) world, and Spotify continues to test what that means for its iOS app. The music streamer announced that it submitted an update for Apple's approval that would allow Spotify to display "basic pricing and website information" on its app in Europe and "the bare minimum outlined under the European Commission's ruling in its music streaming case." 

"Apple continues to break European law,” and unfortunately that means we still can’t give EU consumers the information they need and the choices they deserve in our app. Here’s what we mean.

— Spotify News (@SpotifyNews) April 24, 2024

In the news, shared in a post on X (formerly Twitter), Spotify's chief public affairs officer Dustee Jenkins further stated, "By charging developers to communicate with consumers through in-app links, Apple continues to break European law. It's past time for the Commission to enforce its decision so that consumers can see real, positive benefits."

Apple and Spotify have consistently butted heads over what the latter can and can't do with its iOS app. Following the DMA going into effect, Spotify submitted an update to Apple that would have allowed users to purchase plans directly from the app, but Apple rejected it. Apple did so even though the European Union had just hit it with a nearly $2 billion fine for "blocking" alternative music apps. The EU is also investigating Apple, Meta and Google for self-preferencing and charging developers additional fees. As for how Apple will react to Spotify's latest test, we'll just have to wait and see.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Threads has 150 million monthly users

Meta’s Threads app now has more than 150 million monthly users, an increase of about 20 million new users since February. Mark Zuckerberg shared the latest user numbers during Meta’’s first-quarter earnings call, saying that the app “continues to be on the trajectory that I hope to see.”

The update suggests Threads is continuing to grow steadily, though at a slower rate than its initial explosive growth. The app racked up more than 100 million downloads in its first week, but later saw a drop-off in engagement. But over the last six months, Threads has seen more consistent growth and Zuckerberg has speculated the service could eventually be Meta’s next billion-user app.

Notably, Threads seems to be out-performing X (formerly known as Twitter) by some metrics. Estimates from analytics firm Apptopia indicated Threads has more daily users in the United States than X, Business Insider reported earlier this week. (X has claimed 550 million daily users globally.) Threads also scored another significant win recently when Taylor Swift joined the platform to promote her latest album.

Threads is, for now, unique among Meta’s apps in that it doesn’t have advertising so the company doesn’t make money from the app directly. That will likely change at some point provided Threads continues to expand its reach. Zuckerberg has previously said the company would “focus on monetization” only after the app has grown sufficiently.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at