Changes could be wedged into iOS 7.1
Apple is "scrambling" to make changes to the way in-app purchases work ahead of an FTC deadline, a source tells ZDNet. As a part of its $32.5 million settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission, Apple must fix flaws in the App Store that have allowed people -- mostly children -- to inadvertently rack up hundreds or thousands of dollars in iTunes charges. The deadline for those changes is just a few weeks from now, March 31st.
Europe asks for safeguards to prevent accidental purchases
Apple and Google will soon be meeting with the European Commission to talk about problems with in-app purchases, according to a press release from the political body. The two companies will be asked to provide measures to protect customers, primarily parents, from accidental in-app purchases. A number of game developers publishing to the iOS App Store or Google Play have been accused of marketing "free" games that lure and/or deceive kids into buying digital items and currency; Apple and Google have sometimes been blamed as lax about putting up barriers to those purchases.
Win a copy of Live Interior 3D Standard home and interior design software
Imagining a dream home is easy, but sometimes bringing that dream into reality can be a daunting task. Fortunately, the folks at BeLight Software have created Live Interior 3D Standard home and interior design software that helps bring those dreams to life. MacNN has teamed up with BeLight to give away 10 Mac App store redeem codes to our readers. Plus, at the close of the giveaway, we will be offering an exclusive 50 percent off discount for those who didn't win!
Even patched versions of iOS 6, 7 are exposed, firm says
A vulnerability in iOS could allow remote hackers to log every keyboard and button press a person makes, says security firm FireEye. The exploit is only theoretical -- and would require a compromised app to somehow make it through the App Store review process -- but is said to have been tested and could potentially expose both software and hardware interactions. This includes Touch ID unlocks, although not the actual fingerprint data involved.
Difficulties not reflected on official system status page
A number of App Store developers are encountering iTunes Connect outages when trying to submit new or updated apps, complaints suggest. In some instances people have been unable to connect for almost 24 hours, and the problem appears to be affecting developers around the world. Despite this, Apple's official system status page for developers shows no signs of trouble.
Company allows price-tracking Bitcoin apps, but no transactions
Maintaining a reasonably-consistent policy it has introduced in dealing with Bitcoin- and other virtual currency-related apps, Apple on Wednesday removed the Bitcoin "wallet" app Blockchain from the iOS App Store, citing only "unresolved issues" -- probably referring to the quasi-legal status of the digital currency -- as the reason for the ban. The app's developer claims over one million users across various platforms, but the app was the last remaining Bitcoin-related program that continued to offer trading of Bitcoins on iOS, where it claimed 120,000 users.
Chrome apps offers early developer preview of Apache Cordova-based toolchain
App Store loopholes must be closed by April
Apple must pay out at least $32.5 million in refunds to settle a lawsuit brought by the US Federal Trade Commission over in-app purchases, the two parties have announced. Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, states in a memo to workers that while it "doesn't feel right for the FTC to sue over a case that had already been settled" -- something he calls "double jeopardy" -- the "consent decree the FTC proposed does not require us to do anything we weren't already going to do, so we decided to accept it rather than take on a long and distracting legal fight."
Wider Apple product range could be factor
App revenue from the iOS App Store grew 18 percent month-over-month in December, according to new data from analytics firm Distimo. Revenue from Google Play apps was up a comparable 17 percent. Significantly, however, Google Play has usually been outpacing the App Store for the past two years, which could mean that Play sales are flattening out, if December's figures aren't an anomaly.
$1 billion in December alone
App Store sales topped $10 billion in 2013, Apple has announced. The company notes that $1 billion of that was generated in December alone, on the back of 3 billion app downloads that month. Apple adds that developers have taken in about $15 billion during the App Store's lifetime.
4 percent still using iOS 5 or earlier
Among iOS users, iOS 7 adoption rose 2 points to 78 percent between December 15th and the 30th, according to official Apple data for developers. Correspondingly, iOS 6 usage dropped two points to 18 percent. A consistent 4 percent are still using iOS 5 or earlier, despite many apps now requiring at least iOS 6. They may however be running older hardware not compatible with iOS 6 or 7.
Claims iOS 7 harmed user experience, introduced bugs to mapping application
Nokia has pulled its HERE Maps app for iOS from the App Store, due to changes in iOS 7. A company spokesperson advised that the latest iteration of the Apple mobile operating system had harmed "the user experience" of the app, promoting the withdrawal from the store, though iOS users will still be able to access Nokia's maps through a browser.
Sales galore on games and other apps for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
[Updated again with yet more app deals] Freebies and discounts on iOS apps are in plentiful supply during this holiday season, and MacNN is scouring the US App Store and web to bring our readers the best of these discounts, most of which should be locked-in throughout the next week or so (Apple is closing its iTunes Connect service, which allows developers to change App Store prices, until December 27). Here are just some of the best deals we've found for you.
Configurator 1.4.3 fixes VPP redemption issues, other bugs
On Thursday, Apple updated its enterprise Mac program for iOS device mass-configuration, Apple Configurator, now at version 1.4.3. The update improves redemption of Volume Purchase Program (VPP) codes when installing App Store apps by fixing an issue in which valid codes were incorrectly reported as "already redeemed." It also resolves a problem with skipping Setup Assistant steps while preparing an unsupervised device, and fixes an issue that could prevent the app from being quit. It requires OS X 10.8 or later, and is available free on the Mac App Store.
Google platform dominates in Korea, Japan
Apple's App Store has reportedly held its leading position this year in terms of revenue, though Google Play has maintained a stronger growth rate, according to data published by app analytics firm Distimo. Between January and November, Apple's revenue share had fallen from 70 to 63 percent while Google's share jumped from 30 to 37 percent.
Winners organized into six categories
Apple has published seven "Best of 2013" lists, showcasing the year's most popular content from iTunes and the App Store. The six categories include music, movies, TV shows, iOS apps and books. Readers can view existing Top Sellers in each of the sections, or editor's choice content such as "breakthrough artist" in music and "best male performance" in movies.
Nest CEO denies being buyer of Product Red Mac Pro, gold EarPods
Former Apple executive, "father of the iPod" and Nest CEO Tony Fadell has denied being the buyer of two high-priced but one-off Apple items designed by Sir Jonathan Ive for a Global Fund charity auction. "To be clear, Im not the owner of either" the red new Mac Pro or the gold EarPods, Fadell tweeted, which together sold for over $1.4 million. Photographs of Fadell with the items taken by Kevin Abosch and posted on Twitter earlier this week suggest, however, that Fadell knows the winning bidder. "The real owner will reveal themselves if they so choose." Fadell's wording hints that both items do indeed belong to a single buyer.
Company criticized for bowing to government pressure
Apple has reportedly pulled a censorship-circumventing app from the Chinese iOS App Store. The app, titled FreeWeibo and developed through collaboration with Radio Netherlands Worldwide, is said to have worked around the government's censorship filters for content posted on the Chinese microblogging service Sina Weibo.
Already-approved games available now for first time in the two regions
On Thursday, Apple notified developers that the iOS App Store in Costa Rica and Qatar has finally opened a Games category, making the dedicated section available in the two different countries for the first time. "All apps in the Games category that are cleared for sale [in the two regions] will be automatically available," Apple said in its email. Developers should check territory availability settings if they do not see an approved game available on either of the two stores.
Game revenue driven by five publishers
Japan has reportedly taken the lead position in mobile app revenue for both iOS and Android platforms, according to data collected by analyst firm App Annie. The US previously held the top spot, however Japan's four-fold jump in revenue from mobile game sales has helped the country maintain a stronger growth rate over the past year.
Side Tree Software's programs on Mac App Store $1 throughout December
Side Tree Software has announced that all of its programs available at the App Store will be $1 each through the month of December. Starting today, apps such as Abuzzle, Equal, Mymyry, SlidePuzzle and Tribbi are available for the $1 sale price.
Reduced up to 50 percent or more this weekend, including $1 apps
Black Friday sales aren't exclusive to tech gear and shopping malls -- there are plenty of discounts to be had on iTunes and the App Store for Mac OS X and iOS users.
Fix also deals with spacing issues
Apple has made changes to the App Store search engine in recent weeks that have improved its ability to cope with typos, sources note. Typically this means that using one or two wrong letters will still turn up the proper app. The store is now also able to ignore spaces, for example successfully finding QuizUp if someone searches for "Quiz Up" instead.
Embedded video a first; app previewed at iPhone 5 launch
Fourteen months after its debut during the iPhone 5 launch in 2012, the anticipated game Clumsy Ninja (free) has finally arrived in the iOS App Store - but in some countries, the game's preview page includes a one-minute video trailer, the first of its kind to appear in on an app page. The video preview is not yet available in the US store but is able to be seen in the UK and Canadian stores (among others) where the game appears as an "Editor's Choice" pick.
Apple outperforms Google, Amazon in app store ranking
Apple's App Store was rated the most mature overall, according to a new analysis from Pfeiffer Report. The App Store, which changed the mobile landscape upon its introduction, got higher overall scores than both Google's Play Store and Amazon's Appstore. The Play Store placed second behind Apple's offering, and Amazon's app repository came in last.
Could increase exposure, giveways
Apple has doubled the number of promotional codes it allows developers from 50 to 100 for each version of an app, accounts say. The codes are typically used to distribute an app to reviewers, friends, and family, as well as in the occasional giveaway. Apple notes that once a bundle of promo codes is requested, they will automatically expire four weeks later.
Company witnesses setbacks in some sectors
In parallel with an official announcement, Apple has also posted a detailed breakdown (PDF) of its fiscal Q4 results. The data shows that revenue in the Americas was up just 1 percent year-over-year to $13.941 billion, and even down marginally in Europe, shifting from $8.023 billion to $8.005 billion. Greater China however grew 6 percent to $5.733 billion, and Japan surged 41 percent to $3.341 billion. Offsetting this only slightly was the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, which dipped 6 percent to $1.980 billion. Global retail numbers increased 6 percent to $4.472 billion.
App Store offers over 1 million apps
During today's keynote, Apple started by detailing some of the company's recent successes. Cook reiterated how the company was able to achieve its biggest iPhone launch ever, by selling 9 million iPhone devices in the first weekend that the iPhone 5s and 5c were made available. Following this, Cook moved into numbers regarding the recently released iTunes Radio. Since launching in the US on September 18 more than 20 million listeners have tuned into the service, and over 1 billion songs have been played in the US alone. Finally, it was announced that the App Store now offers over 1 million unique apps, which have been downloaded over 60 billion times, resulting in more than $13 billion dollars being paid out to developers in total.
Free Mavericks downloadable via App Store
(Updated to reflect launch) Apple has revealed at its special event that OS X Mavericks, the latest incarnation of its Mac operating system, is free. The major update will be available to download later today at no charge via the App Store, with users of systems dating as far back as six years ago able to download and install the operating system.
App allowed for song purchases from HMV download store
Apple has temporarily removed the HMV iOS app from the App Store, as one of its features broke App Store rules. The app from the British music retailer allowed users to buy music downloads directly from HMV itself instead of through iTunes, something that is banned in the App store's terms and conditions.
Developers allowed to submit lucrative apps in new market
App developers can now submit games for sale at Apple's South African App Store, reports say. Correspondingly, a "Games" banner has appeared at the storefront, advertising the initial selection. By default, though, any game cleared for sale in the country will automatically go live there, meaning that most developers won't have to take any action to pull in the extra revenue.
Developers warned about impending changes
Prices at the Japanese App Store are going up as of October 17th, Apple is warning developers in a new email. The adjustment is being made to accommodate fluctuations in the value of the yen. Both Mac and iOS apps will be affected by the hikes, the company says.
Critics claim Apple kowtowing to China with app removal
Apple's decision this past summer to remove a censorship circumvention tool from the Chinese App Store has drawn criticism from some claiming that the iPhone maker is kowtowing to that country's authoritarian government. Users of Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo recently voiced their frustrations online, according to CNN, claiming that Apple showed it has no integrity in removing the app Open Door. The app is still available in other App Stores outside of China.
FaceTime, iTunes Match, other iCloud features briefly affected
Several of Apple's online services were briefly impacted by outages earlier today, according to Apple's System Status page. The worst affected the iTunes Store, the iBookstore, and the Mac and iOS App Stores between 1:28 and 2:57PM Eastern time, preventing some people from making any purchases. During the same time period, people may have been unable to use iTunes in the Cloud or iTunes Match, or restore purchases from an iCloud backup.
May also liaison with MLB for Passbook, app integration
The assistant general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays is leaving the organization to join Apple as an executive with responsibility for managing the Sports and Entertainment sections of the App Store, according to reports. Jay Sartori has been with the team since 2010 and will be leaving next month for the new job. His exact duties at Apple haven't been revealed, but the company has been working closely with Major League Baseball to enhance its apps' integration with other Apple technologies.
Ruling applies to cases already settled
An east Texas judge, Rodney Gilstrap, has issued a ruling blocking Apple from intervening on behalf of iOS app developers pursued by Lodsys, reports say. The order, handed down last Tuesday, also allows Lodsys to settle individually with each of the developers it has been leveling patent claims against. Apple has been seeking to intervene on behalf of developers for two years, arguing that it since it licensed patents (now owned by Lodsys) from Intellectual Ventures for in-app purchases, third-party developers are already protected.
Content divided by age group
As expected, Apple has added a 'Kids' category to the App Store. Users can view content geared for specific age groups, such as "Best for Ages 5 & Under," with a primary focus on educational apps. The listings also include popular games for kids, along with rankings for top paid apps, top free apps and top-grossing titles.
iOS DJ software adds content from major artists Snoop Dog and DJ Qbert
Creators of iOS DJ software Algoriddim have released djay 2 optimized for iOS 7. Featuring a fully-revamped user interface and new music library, users can now add an input track from their mixes directly into other participating audio apps for more creative opportunities using Inter-App Audio. Also included in the latest update, "Artist Packs" consists of a collection of 12 exclusive audio and vocal samples that can be loaded to the integrated drum pad sampler, allowing the user to trigger beats and vocal samples from their favourite artists' live performances. Snoop Dog and DJ Qbert are the first artists to have exclusive sound packs. Similarly, "Skratch Tools" is now an included feature, which is comprised of a collection of Qbert samples that users can use to 'scratch'. Djay 2 is available on the App Store for $2 for iPhone and $10 for iPad.
App stores credit cards, protected with PIN
Google has finally released a Google Wallet app (App Store) for iOS devices, enabling iPhone and iPad users to store and manage credit and debit cards, loyalty programs and promotional offers. The iOS title serves the same basic function as its Android counterpart, except for the tap-to-pay feature that requires NFC hardware unavailable on Apple's mobile devices.
Medical policy could cut down on pseudoscience
With the arrival of iOS 7, Apple has begun adopting a series of new policies at the App Store, reports say. One of these involves the new option of downloading the last compatible version of an app. While Apple is keeping old binaries by default, the company is also notifying developers that they can choose to manage access to prior versions through iTunes Connect.
May reflect growing size of apps, developer needs
Apple has raised the filesize limit on App Store downloads over 3G and 4G to 100MB, reports say. Previously the cap was 50MB, presumably to ensure a good user experience and appease cellular carriers. Prior to the launch of the third-generation iPad in March 2012, the cap was just 20MB.
Many updates squarely compatibility-focused
Since Tuesday night, a number of iOS apps have been receiving major updates in time for today's launch of iOS 7. One important entry is Pandora, which has gained a new, flatter look in keeping with iOS 7's aesthetics. The bulk of changes otherwise focus on iPad support, namely carrying over features of the iPhone app such as the ability to quickly add variety to a station or see song lyrics. A new swiped-in third pane on the iPad makes it easier to find new music or keep track of friend feeds.
Supports devices as old as iPhone 3G
Apple has enabled a new feature which lets people download the "last compatible version" of an app on the iOS App Store. Until now, only the most recent version of an app was available, which proved problematic for people with older hardware (and/or an older version of iOS) if compatibility requirements had changed. The new system will show a pop-up window in iOS, asking if they want to download an earlier app release.
Giving more weight to user ratings, lack of refunds, usage
According to app marketers and developers, Apple is making quiet changes to the way it weighs and ranks apps on its App Store. Once driven almost entirely by download counts, the formula is now accounting for not only user ratings (which can be manipulated), but also how many refunds have been issued against the app, the popularity of in-app purchases or subscriptions, and longer-term user engagement.
Uses evidence from talks between Jobs, Schiller, Cue
The US Department of Justice has filed a revised settlement proposal for the outcome of its recent trial victory against Apple. The proposal is similar to the original, but incorporates an expanded section on in-app purchases, claiming that Apple formulated its rules to "retaliate against Amazon for competitive conduct that Apple disapproved of" and "make it more difficult for consumers using Apple devices to compare ebook prices among different retailers."
New, separate Kids section designed to aid parents, provide more app info
Apple has sent out emails to developers letting them know that any apps they have that are aimed primarily at children (age 11 and under) will need to be rated under one of three new ranges in order to go into the new Kids category of the iOS App Store, which is coming with the arrival of iOS 7 this fall. Developers can choose from "5 & Under," "Ages 6-8" and "Ages 9-11," for their app, but can only pick from one of the three options. Existing apps not already in the Kids subcategory now will need to submit a new version for review.
Narrowed down to two affiliate networks, but with larger
Apple is making significant changes to its affiliate program for content on iTunes, the iBookstore, and the Mac and iOS App Stores, according to an announcement. The program gives participants a small commission for sales made via specially-formatted links. The main change is the elimination of LinkShare and dgm as affiliate networks, leaving just Tradedoubler and a new addition, Performance Horizon Group.
Plaintiffs found to have suffered no harm over App Store, may refile
A lawsuit claiming that Apple's iTunes App Store is an illegal monopoly -- as it only sells iOS apps, takes a 30 percent commission on sales and disallows third-party iOS app stores -- has been thrown out of court on procedural grounds, since the plaintiffs could not show any grounds for complaint, as they had not purchased the apps challenged in the lawsuit. "At a minimum," wrote the judge in her dismissal order, "plaintiffs must allege facts showing that each named plaintiff has personally suffered an injury-in-fact based on Apple's alleged misconduct."
Game pulled after legal dispute with property owner Atari
After its untimely retraction just weeks after release from the iOS and Mac App Stores, the Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition has been restored for sale and download. The title was yanked from the stores owing to a dispute between developer Overhaul Games and Atari, which has apparently been resolved.
Should limit data advertisers, app makers can harvest from children
Apple has tightened some of the rules in its App Review Guidelines for Mac and iOS developers. Some of the new restrictions are meant to comply with the US government's revised Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The law prevents collecting personal data from kids under 13 without parental consent; while the definition of personal data originally just meant names, locations, phone numbers, and physical and email addresses, this now also includes audio, photos, and video.