AWT News Update: May 16, 2016

Tweets, stores, VR, and Spaces are all in our Apple news report today:

  • Bloomberg says Twitter's not going to count photos and links in the character count
  • Apple's new Union Square flagship store in San Francisco opens on Saturday
  • The new YouTube app for iOS makes every YouTube video visible in Google Cardboard VR
  • Google releases Spaces, a new small group sharing app

The text version of this podcast can be found below.

Text Version

Hi, I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for May 16, 2016. Our sponsor this week is Elgato Eve Energy, providing Apple HomeKit-compatible control of your home through Siri.

Bloomberg today had some happy news for all of us who use Twitter on a regular basis. Although the 140-character tweet limit isn’t going away, the company is allegedly going to make it easier to post more by not counting photos and links in the tweet character count. Usually, links will chew up 23 characters while embedded images take up 24. The change, which will hopefully happen in the next two weeks, should make it easier for Twitter users to express their opinions and emotions with photos and links.

Apple’s new Union Square flagship store in San Francisco will apparently open this Saturday, May 21 at 10 AM Pacific Time while the existing Stockton Street store will be shuttered the night before at its regular 9 PM closing time. The new store is at 300 Post Street and has been in the works for years. The new store is not only huge, but will also have two ginormous sliding glass doors that can be opened when the weather’s nice.

Google has been trying to bring Virtual Reality to everyone in the world with a smartphone through its inexpensive Google Cardboard VR viewer initiative, but the company did something today that’s really going to jump things up. Google, of course, is the proud parent of YouTube, and the YouTube for iOS app was updated today to let you watch any YouTube video in VR mode with Google Cardboard. No, this doesn’t mean that you’ll magically see everything in immersive spherical video, but the effect is impressive nonetheless. It looks a lot like watching a video in a movie theater rather than on an iPhone screen. In the new version 11.18 of the YouTube app, just tap the screen to see menu options for quality, close-captioning, reporting a video, and now viewing it in Google Cardboard. You’ll need to have a Google Cardboard viewer, and they’re available from a number of sources for as little as $10.

While we’re talking about Google, the company today announced a new app called Spaces. The idea is similar to the Communities feature in Google+ but is referred to as a tool for small group sharing. A person can build a space and then invite users through a link. Sharing information in the space is quite simple, because the app has Google Search, YouTube and Chrome built in. Proving that Google is one of those companies that “eats its own dog food”, they’re planning on each Google I/O conference session this week having its own space so developers can connect with each other and with Google staff.

We’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.