Part of sea change in Apple policies
A Bitcoin trading app, Blockchain, has been allowed to return to the iOS App Store, reports note. The title was one of several removed from the App Store early this year during an Apple crackdown. The company's policy is normally to prohibit apps allowing activities which may be illegal in some countries. Although Bitcoin has become increasingly accepted, it still sits in a legal limbo in many regions.
iTunes and App Store difficulties already resolved
[Updated with spreading service issues] Apple online services have been affected by a pair of problems on Thursday, the company's system status page indicates. Still ongoing is a glitch with iCloud Mail, resulting in "slower than normal response" for some users. Trouble appears to have begun shortly after 2PM Eastern.
iPod continues terminal decline
In addition to its official announcement, Apple has also posted a detailed breakdown of its fiscal Q3 results. "Greater China" -- including Taiwan and Hong Kong -- continued to lead the charge regionally, with its revenue increasing 28 percent year-over-year to $5.935 billion. Europe and Asia-Pacific each advanced 6 percent, to $8.091 billion and $2.161 billion, respectively. Apple's most important market, the Americas, rose 1 percent to $14.577 billion. Global retail numbers were up 1 percent to $4.104 billion.
Company yet to offer commitment, details for required changes
[Updated with Apple rebuttal] Despite both Apple and Google being asked to take measures to make the "true cost of apps" clearer before they're downloaded from an app store, Apple is providing "no firm commitment and no timing" for action, according to a statement from the European Commission. At issue are so-called "free-to-play" or "freemium" apps, which are technically free to use, but often require in-app purchases to make real use of them. Some games, in particular, have exploited lax authorization measures around those purchases to lure children into buying dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of dollars' worth of digital content without their parents' consent.
Some major third-party apps failing to accommodate blind
The National Federation of the Blind will soon start a campaign to get Apple to factor in accessibility when it approves App Store titles, according to Reuters. The organization approved a resolution for the campaign at a convention held last week in Orlando, Florida. While there are no plans to repeat a 2008 lawsuit which targeted iTunes' accessibility, some NFB members -- including California board member Michael Hingson -- have suggested that one might be necessary to get Apple to change its practices.
Companies ordered to make changes to refund systems
South Korea's Fair Trade Commission has ordered Apple and Google to change their app store policies, according to the Korea Herald. Apple will have to change its default no-refund policy, and send out notifications to App Store users whenever it changes contract terms; Google will have to devise a refund scheme for Google Play that can be tailored to developers' individual policies. The two companies may also have to address other "unfair provisions," though the FTC's announcement doesn't specify what those might be.
Adds clarity to 'Best New Games' section, showcases recently-refreshed titles
Readers have reported that Apple is continuing to tweak the app-discovery experience in the iOS App Store, and on Thursday added a new "Best New Updates" section for iOS games, drawing user attention to recently-refreshed titles separate of the existing "Best New Games" section, which would sometimes contain updated rather than genuinely new titles. The move should benefit games that fall into both categories by clarifying updated versus all-new titles.
Apps still being rejected for pushing reviews, ratings, downloads
Apple is backtracking somewhat on an App Store policy that blocked apps "incentivizing" elements like video ads or social sharing, say sources in the video ad industry. Rejections have reportedly shrunk, and in some cases previously-removed apps have been allowed to return. Incentivizing ad views is now permitted again, as is asking users to post about an app on social networks.
Botched early leak revealed features of Snapchat competitor
The official launch of Facebook's Snapchat competitor, called Slingshot, will likely happen on Tuesday, according to reports. The ephemeral messaging app, which offers users the ability to send a photo or short video with annotation features that are depending on the recipient acknowledging that they want the incoming message. The application was accidentally released and subsequently removed from the App Store a week ago.
Coin Pocket is first App Store Bitcoin wallet after Apple altered App Store rules
Bitcoin apps taking advantage of Apple's recent rule changes concerning virtual currencies have started to appear in the App Store. Coin Pocket, a bitcoin wallet similar to others previously pulled by Apple before the company changed its policy, can be used to send and receive the currency, includes a "private key sweep" for quicker transfers, and adds a currency conversion checker.
New evidence backs suspicions of Apple intervention
Apple is actively deleting reviews from the App Store that it believes to be fake, sources say. Less moral developers are believed to pay for positive reviews, sometimes in bulk, in order to push an app higher in the App Store's charts and thus pick up more sales. Apple has allegedly been cracking down on fake ratings for a period of time, but until now evidence was relatively scarce.
Some apps not propagating
A number of users are reporting problems accessing functions in various Apple online services, including the App Store, the iTunes Store, and the Apple TV. People with an Apple TV, for example, may be unable to load the Movies or TV Shows apps, although other apps like iTunes Radio and Netflix are still up. At the iOS App Store, some titles -- such as Facebook Messenger or Skype 5.0 -- are apparently missing or otherwise not propagating correctly.
Music, Productivity among categories with recommendations
Bringing them in line with the US, Apple is now curating more categories in European localizations of the iOS App Store, according to The Guardian. Until recently only Games, Kids, Education, Food, and Newsstand were curated, highlighting app recommendations and themes. Today the Productivity, Photo & Video, Sport, Music, Lifestyle, Health and Travel categories have been given the same treatment. Previously they simply presented new and popular apps selected by algorithm.
Developers asked to remove downloading functions
Apple appears to be targeting music downloading apps for removal at the iOS App Store, and is moreover skewing related search results, accounts say. Some developers say they are being asked to remove audio download functions from their titles. When searching for the term "music download" at the App Store, the first result is now an ad for iTunes Radio, and the next highest ones are for primarily streaming-based apps, such as Spotify (which does however allow temporary offline listening).
Adds analytics, more app info
A redesigned iTunes Connect portal will be made available to developers and content holders later in 2014, Apple revealed yesterday during its Platforms State of the Union presentation, which is now available in video format via the WWDC website and app. Visually the new interface takes after iCloud.com. Feature-wise however it's receiving several important upgrades, including more data for app developers, and an analytics component that will let people track figures like whether people are remaining active users of software. Apple notes that people won't have to download anything to get the iTunes Connect update.
New rules simply require compliance with local laws
Apple has quietly changed rules at the App Store to allow for digital currency transactions to take place within apps, Reuters notes. The rules now state that apps "may facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions." Apple hasn't identified which currencies it will allow.
TestFlight beta testing app incorporated as part of App Store changes
Apple revealed a number of changes to the App Store at the WWDC keynote, with a few major additions aimed at developers and publishers. Apps can now be grouped into bundles, allowing for apps under the same brand or genre to be sold together at a discount, while TestFlight, a separate app until Apple bought out developer Burstly that has now been incorporated into the App store, will allow developers to pass their apps to potential users for beta testing at no charge to either party.
May impact smaller developers
Apple has made a silent change to the iOS App Store and reduced the number of positions in the Top Paid, Free, and Grossing charts from 300 to 150, reports note. Although there's no official explanation, the tweak is presumably part of an attempt to clean up the App Store and improve rankings. Apple has periodically made such efforts since the App Store was introduced in 2008.
Users spending less money on music
Apple's revenues from iTunes music sales are continuing to shrink, but these will soon be fully compensated for by sales at the App Store, says Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty. In the last quarter, people with iTunes accounts spent an average of just $3.29 on music, a drop of 24 percent year-over-year. Based on estimates though, it's predicted that by the end of 2014 App Store sales should not only replace lost revenue but surpass it.
Apps allowed to be marketed as 'free' despite costing money for progress
The Italian Antitrust and Competition Authority has launched an investigation into Amazon, Apple, Gameloft, and Google over complaints that the corporations are misleading people in the way they market "free-to-play" games. A number of mobile games -- including many targeted at children -- are nominally free, but in reality require in-app purchases of digital items, currency, levels, or features in order to make progress. Figures from the European Commission suggest that 80 percent of app revenues now stem from in-app transactions.
Opens up range of new giveaways
App Store developers can now assign promo codes for in-app purchases, not just the apps themselves, according to anecdotes. An active example is Real Racing 3, for which EA is giving away 10 in-game gold pieces that would normally cost $2. For people who don't already have the game installed, entering the promo code will start downloading it automatically.
App removal comes as company looks to future Creative Labs offerings
Facebook has pulled its Poke and Camera apps from the iOS app store, bringing an end to the apps which were launched as direct competitors to popular mobile apps such as Snapchat and Instagram. The Verge reports on the discovery of the app removals on Friday, stating that the removals come two years after the launch of the apps.
Gathers together editorial picks
A new section, "Best of April," has appeared at the iOS App Store, users note. The section gathers together picks by Apple's editorial staff during last month, including 25 games and 24 general apps. One game and one non-gaming app have been selected as top picks in separate iPhone and iPad categories. The top iPhone apps are Leo's Fortune and NYT Now. The iPad picks, meanwhile, are Hearthstone and Comedy Central.
Platforms now in more equal competition
Apple and Google are each offering game developers special incentives to prefer their app store over their rival's, according to sources for the Wall Street Journal. The prime example given is EA's Plants vs. Zombies 2, which Apple promised to advertise prominently at the App Store. In return, EA was expected to keep the game an iOS exclusive for two months, which pushed the Android release into October. Another developer, ZeptoLab, agreed to three-month App Store exclusivity for Cut the Rope 2 in order to get better advertising. Asphalt creator Gameloft says it was offered exclusivity, but decided that a simultaneous iOS/Android release made more financial sense.
Prices dip in Israel, New Zealand
Apple is raising iOS and Mac App Store prices in several countries, according to an email memo sent to developers. The hikes will impact Australia, India, Indonesia, Turkey, and South Africa. Apple blames the change on fluctuations in exchange rates, which the company adjusts for on a regular basis.
Microsoft sacrifices profits to reach iPad users
Apple is claiming a 30 percent cut of Office 365 subscriptions bought through Microsoft's Office for iPad, as usual at the App Store, an Apple spokesperson confirms. Although people can sign up for Office 365 outside of the iPad apps, a $100 in-app purchase provides a one-year plan. That suggests that Microsoft is sacrificing a significant amount of revenue to one of its rivals in order to attract iPad users.
Exposure cannot overcome Flappy Bird phenomenon, but it helps
A new study by mobile analytics firm App Annie has quantified the idea that app developers can increase their products' visibility in the App Store and gain players through the use of TV commercials -- particularly for top-quality "freemium" titles. While the practice of developers creating their own TV ads is common in some countries like Japan, it is a fairly new phenomenon in the North America. The App Annie study showed a correlation between TV exposure and a gain in App Store rankings.
Apple briefly caught testing 'related' suggestions on App Store searches
On Monday, various users reported seeing a new feature during their visits to the iOS App Store -- a "related" keywords feature not previously present, seen when searching for apps. The test only appeared on devices running iOS 7, possibly limited to iOS 7.1 and OS X only, and quickly reverted to normal. The company already offers "related" suggestions, but only with a specific "app card," rather than while a search is still in progress. The feature is thought to be another example of Chomp integration, a company Apple bought in 2012.
Civilization V adds support for the new Mac Pro, 4K resolution
Aspyr has released a new update for Civilization V, aimed at improving its performance on the newest Mac Pro. Allowing for 4K resolutions on supporting monitors while running into fewer crashes, Mac games that use the Mac Pro will now be able to take advantage of the machine's second video card. The updated game will automatically download and install for Steam users, and Mac app-version users can grab the update from the App Store. Civilization V and all of its DLC and expansions are currently 50 percent off, until March 27.
Promotes small developers and their favorite apps
Apple has launched a new section at the App Store, the Indie Game Showcase. As the name implies, the section concentrates on a specific title -- currently Simogo's Device 6, which was a runner-up for Apple's 2013 Game of the Year award. It also highlights other games by the same developer though, and titles that the development team enjoys.
Media attention succeeds where developer reports failed
Thanks to media attention, Apple has now pulled an adware- and malware-laced fake "Tor browser" app from the App Store, months after it was first reported to be a fraud. The Tor project team has repeatedly complained about the fake app since December, as it was neither submitted by the team nor in any way official, but only when iOS news sites like this one picked up on the story did Apple take action.
Creator tells fans, Rolling Stone he will bring back game, 'but not soon'
Dong Nguyen, the creator of the highly-addictive game Flappy Bird confirmed to a fan at a game developers' conference in San Francisco on Wednesday that he plans on returning the app to Apple's App Store at some point in the future -- with added warnings urging players to "please take a break" periodically -- but won't specify when it is returning.
Allegedly reported in December, app is still available
A Tor client on the App Store, Tor Browser, is actually a fake app saturated with adware and spyware, according to complaints. The app is said to have been reported to Apple in December; at one point the company suggested that the app's creator, Ronen, would be allowed to respond, but no news has emerged since, and the app remains on sale for $1.
Tank Battle: East Front 1942 features WWII Germany and Russian 'enemies'
Hunted Cow, the developer behind the mobile games such as Ancient Battle: Rome and Arc War, ran afoul of Apple's app store guidelines earlier this week as it prepared to release its next Tank Battle game, Tank Battle: East Front 1942. The strategy game which features tank warfare set in World War II, was rejected by Apple as it was stated to "depict real entities as the enemies" according to an article by Pocket Tactics.
Change presumably meant to comply with FTC mandate
iOS 7.1 includes a warning about the 15-minute, password-free window after an initial in-app purchase in iOS, notes AppleInsider. The pop-up appears the first time a user tries to make an in-app purchase after installing v7.1, and points people to Settings if they want to undo the window. Under Restrictions, iOS can be set to require a password for every purchase, or block all in-app transactions.
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.
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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.