Google opens Inbox access, brings Cardboard to iOS, updates Places API and Maps

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On the first day of its I/O developer conference Google made a series of iOS-related announcements, including making Inbox available to everyone, bringing its Cardboard virtual reality technology to the platform, and announcing updates to the iOS versions of Maps and the Places API.

Google Inbox

Version 1.3 of the simplified email client can now be freely downloaded from the App Store. Previously, people wanting to use the app could only do so through an invite system.

Google has also added several new features, such as Trip Bundles, which automatically gather together trip-related emails and highlight key pieces of information. An Undo Send option lets users retract a message within a few seconds of sending it, and any reminders created in Google Keep will appear in Inbox as well. Two new settings options let users enable a "swipe to delete" gesture or create a signature.

Inbox is free and runs on any device with iOS 7.0 or higher.

Google Cardboard on iOS

Although Cardboard previously had some unofficial iPhone app support, Google today added iOS to the Cardboard SDK, making it easier for iPhone developers to enable virtual reality options. With a compatible app running, an iPhone simply needs to be inserted into a Cardboard-ready viewer.

Google also released a revamped official viewer design, which can be assembled in three steps, has a new button, and supports devices with screens up to 6 inches — enough to fit phones like the iPhone 6 Plus. People wanting to try Cardboard can download instructions to make a viewer or buy a pre-assembled third-party unit.

Google Maps & Places API

The Places API for iOS is now available in its final form, having first emerged in March as a beta. The code lets developers access Google's points-of-interest database, in turn making it easier for apps to do things like determine location, search for a POI, and get business details such as a phone number and Web address.

One developer working to implement the API is ridesharing service Lyft, which is crafting an update that will use Google services to mark pickup and dropoff points.

Google is meanwhile preparing to update Maps with an offline search mode, and even offline turn-by-turn navigation. The new features should debut sometime later in 2015.