May be response to complaints about free-to-play apps
Apple has today made a small change at the App Store, renaming the "Free" button for zero-cost downloads, particularly those that feature in-app purchases to "Get." Paid apps continue to show the purchase price. It's not clear why Apple decided to make the change, but it may be a response to ongoing complaints about marketing of free-to-play/"freemium" apps.
May significantly expand store's reach
Apple's Chinese App Store is now accepting payments via China UnionPay, the only native bank card organization, and the country's most popular. In an announcement, Apple notes that UnionPay has issued more than 4.5 billion cards worldwide. "The ability to buy apps and make purchases using UnionPay cards has been one of the most-requested features from our customers in China," reads a prepared statement from Apple's Senior VP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue. "China is already our second largest market for app downloads, and now we're providing users with an incredibly convenient way to purchase their favorite apps with just one tap."
Photo filter application tool excels at a low price
There's no doubt that iPhones are being used more for photography each and every day. This is especially apparent in the vast amount of photography apps that are available in the App Store. Users are sure to be overwhelmed, especially if they're looking for an app that promises to do it all, in terms of photo editing, filters, and camera tools. It's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, but Faded, by Vintage Noir is definitely worth a look.
App makes it easy to turn the 'caption a picture' technique on its head
These days, graphic design is king (again). More and more people are looking to play around with typography and imagery, particularly using their own photos -- whether it be captions on photos or a Facebook graphic. Rather than shell out money or invest time in learning complicated programs like Photoshop to accomplish this, a visit to the App Store is a great way to get started. TextMask, by youthhr, is a pretty neat app that allows users to create impressive text-masking imagery in just a few taps.
Company hadn't anticipated possibility
In another sudden turnaround, Apple has reversed a decision to block apps with calculator widgets from the App Store. An Apple spokesperson says that PCalc and other similar apps will be permitted in the store without changes. It's suggested that the company simply hadn't anticipated the possibility of widgets serving as calculators, hence reviewers being confused as to whether they can give the greenlight.
Change marks sudden policy reversal
Apple has forced the developer of PCalc, James Thomson, to remove an iOS 8 Notification Center widget that let people do calculations without opening the app. The decision is an apparently sudden reversal, given that the app was previously approved with the widget intact. PCalc has been featured in several sections of the App Store, such as "Great Apps and Games for iOS 8," and even "Extend Your Apps," which focuses on software with unusual widgets.
Company admits to sagging iTunes music sales
Apple's 2014 10-K filing, just published by the Securities and Exchange Commission, shows major increases in acquisitions and research spending. Even excluding its $3 billion Beats takeover, the company still managed to increase acquisition spending from $496 million to $957 million during the last fiscal year. Annual research and development spending has more than doubled during the past three years, rising from $2.4 billion to $6 billion.
Should improve performance on more recent devices
As of February 1, all new or updating iOS apps must not only be based on the iOS 8 SDK, but contain 64-bit code, Apple is informing developers. At the moment, developers are still being allowed to submit 32-bit-only apps or universal binaries. The problem is that more recent iOS devices -- namely those based on 64-bit A7, A8, and A8X processors -- have to load extra resources into memory to handle 32-bit code, taking a toll on performance.
Analytics portal to be taken offline for maintenance for six hours next Sunday
According to a brief notification sent to developers, Apple is planning to take iTunes Connect offline for approximately six hours starting at 6AM Pacific on Sunday, October 26. The portal is used by developers to submit, take down, update, adjust pricing and study analytics of apps submitted to the Mac and iOS App Stores. The modest maintenance downtime is unusual in light of Apple annual and longer downtime that usually happens in December.
Figure just 1 percent higher than post-iPhone 6 launch data
Adoption of iOS 8 has slowed dramatically, having only gained a single percentage point between September 21 and October 5, according to new App Store tracking data from Apple. The company's iOS 8 and iOS 7 are now in equal use. In fact, use of pre-iOS 7 firmware has somehow increased from five to six percent, even though Apple no longer supports it on any substantial level.
iOS and 'free-to-play' game blamed
A 15-year-old from Antwerp, Belgium has managed to accumulate over 37,000 euro ($46,000) in iTunes charges on a credit card through in-app purchases, according to local publication Nieuwsblad. The teenager was reportedly playing a free-to-play iOS game called Game of War: Fire Age; several months in, his mother asked him to buy some e-books using her credit card. The boy then discovered he could buy virtual gold in-game using real money, greatly accelerating his progress. The title even has a casino minigame.
Issue inconsistent between users, devices
Customers trying to use the App Store are currently experiencing a variety of problems, according to complaints. Some are seeing vague error messages, while others are simply unable to finish downloads; many users are unaffected. For those who are impacted, the trouble can interfere with both the iOS and Mac App Stores, and any version of iOS or OS X.
Apparently tied to iOS 8
A bug involving the iOS App Store is causing it to display inappropriate apps under the various Kids categories, according to complaints. Browsing those categories' Top Charts sections, users can currently spot many apps that would normally fall under the All Categories umbrella. This includes obvious mistakes, such as gambling and dating apps.
Yosemite coming soon, contract confusion and more
With the release of the golden master candidate of Yosemite to developers, there has been renewed interest in the MacNN forums about when this next update will be out of beta and in the App store for everyone. Forum Regular "webraider" was attempting to purchase a contract free factory unlocked iPhone 6, but has run unto some problems and wonders if anyone has an answer.
Allowed users to create app, task shortcuts
Apple has removed an app called Launcher from the App Store, citing "misuse" of iOS 8 Notification Center widgets, says developer Cromulent Labs. The app lets users create create shortcuts for various tasks, such as calling a specific person via phone or FaceTime, navigating to a location, or simply opening an app. These shortcuts then appear in a widget.
iOS 8.0.2 finally paves way
Following the release of iOS 8.0.2, HealthKit-enabled apps are beginning to reach the App Store. One of the first is noted to be FitPort, a dashboard that serves as an alternative to iOS 8's own Health app. HealthKit was supposed to premiere alongside iOS 8.0, but Apple briefly delayed it citing bugs.
Figure significantly higher than unofficial tracking
New data from Apple -- based on Sunday traffic at the App Store -- indicates that iOS 8 adoption is actually up to 46 percent of iOS devices, despite lower numbers tracked by third-party firms. Apple's figures put iOS 7 at 49 percent, and iOS 6 or earlier at 5 percent. iOS 8 became available for compatible devices on September 17th, and is pre-installed on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which launched Friday.
Users can pick up unowned remainder of bundled apps at savings
As part of the iOS App Store updated for iOS 8, Apple is now offering grouped "bundles" of applications at discounted prices, and a new ability to "Complete My Bundle" for those who already own some of the apps featured in the bundle. The bundles, usually grouped by developer at present, offer related apps shown in an "iOS folder" icon, and download together into a folder automatically when purchased. Users who already own one or more of the apps see the price discounted to reflect that.
Compatible titles should return to App Store by end of September
Apple has confirmed the existence of a bug in HealthKit that resulted in the removal of related apps from the App Store. In an email to the Financial Times' Tim Bradshaw, the company states that it has "discovered a bug that prevents us from making HealthKit apps available on iOS 8 today. We're working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update, and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month."
'No ETA' for fix
An unspecified, last-minute problem with HealthKit is prompting Apple to pull some compatible apps from the App Store, developers say. The developer of Carrot Fit, Brian Mueller, says that he received a phone call from Apple explaining the situation, and noting that nothing is wrong with his app. "Sounds like HealthKit won't be working at all this week. And there's no ETA for when a bug fix will go live," he adds on Twitter.
OS X GM only coming with Yosemite
The Swift programming language has attained gold master status for iOS, Apple has announced. "You can now submit your apps that use Swift to the App Store. Whether your app uses Swift for a small feature or a complete application, now is the time to share your app with the world. It's your turn to excite everyone with your new creations," the company adds.
App and Media stores, iTunes Match and Radio unavailable to some users
[Update: problems resolved as of approximately 7:45PM ET] For the second time in as many days, Apple's online stores are unavailable for an undetermined percentage of users. The current outage, which began around 4:30PM ET and is ongoing, is affecting the both the iOS and Mac App Stores, the iBookstore, and a variety of iTunes services such as iTunes Match, iTunes in the Cloud, iTunes Radio and the iTunes Store. Other iCloud services, such as Siri, email, FaceTime and syncing services are not affected.
Health data not allowed on iCloud
Apple has updated its App Store Review Guidelines to define rules on how several new iOS 8 technologies can be used. With HealthKit, for example, developers are not only prevented from selling data to advertisers and brokers, but blocked from storing that information in iCloud. Apps using HomeKit are barred from collecting data for advertising or data mining, and must state in marketing that their primary purpose is home automation.
Customers of iTunes Music, App Store, Mac App Store and iBookstore affected
Apple's non-Apple Store commerce sites suffered some major downtime on Tuesday, with the App Store, iBookstore, Mac App Store and iTunes Music Store being inaccessible for nearly five and a half hours for some (but not all) users, from approximately 6:30PM to midnight Eastern time. During the outage, users were in some cases able to load the product pages of the sites, but unable to do anything else, while some others reported normal operations.
PayPal offering discounted UK iTunes cards at 25 percent off
PayPal is currently offering digital iTunes cards at 25 percent off for UK customers. Users can purchase iTunes codes to redeem for music, films, TV programs, games, apps and more from the iTunes Store, iBooks Store and the App Store. Content purchased can be accessed on iOS devices and Mac or PC computers. The discount offer is available until tonight at 11:59 BST.
Apple, Google, Microsoft required to delete Secret from customer phones or face fines
A Brazilian judge has ordered Apple, Google, and Microsoft to remove Secret, an app used for anonymously sharing information with others, from citizen's phones. The unusual ruling requires both Apple and Google to delist Secret from the App Store and Google Play, with Microsoft ordered to do the same for the Windows Phone-equivalent Cryptic, as well as deleting it remotely from mobile devices in the country.
Focuses attention on seldom-promoted service
To promote the App Store's Newsstand section, Apple UK is now giving away five free magazine issues a day through August 22. Shoppers are limited to issues selected by Apple, however. The promotion involves single, but complete, issues of the magazines in question, in hopes of sparking subscriptions or generating more interest in e-magazines generally. The first day's group includes NME, The Economist, Focus, T3, and Glamour.
Music service works its way into Apple ecosystem
Beats Music is now being promoted as one of the "Best New Apps" in the App Store, even though the title has actually been available since January and was last updated July 28th. It is also included in the Apps Made by Apple section linked at the bottom of the App Store. Earlier this week, Apple began highlighting Beats Music in the list of apps recommended to new iOS users.
Puzzle-adventure game Valiant Hearts: The Great War launches for iOS September 4th
Ubisoft has announced today that Valiant Hearts: The Great War will release on September 4 for iOS devices. Set during World War I, the puzzle-adventure game features characters whose narratives are interlinked. Players aim to survive the trenches alongside their canine companions. The new mobile version introduces intuitive touch controls that accommodate the format of mobile devices. Upon release, the game will be available through the App Store.
Clear, Notability, Fantastical 2 among notable entries
On the iOS App Store, Apple is now running a "limited-time" sale on 20 productivity apps. Most of the titles are well-established, such as Realmac's Clear, Ginger Labs' Notability, and Flexibits' Fantastical 2. Some lesser-known examples include Andreas Karlsson's Tydlig and Ten Touch's Grafio.
Also claims record number of customers
The App Store witnessed record revenue figures in July, Apple tells business network CNBC. The platform is also said to have achieved a record number of people making transactions. Apple has not, however, provided any specific figures, something it usually reserves for press events, major milestones, and/or quarterly results calls.
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.