One of the more controversial changes in Apple’s iOS 10 Music app was the elimination of the longstanding star-based rating system for music tracks. It’s unclear whether this was just inadvertently left out in the redesign or whether Apple felt that the new love/dislike system was enough — but clearly somebody at Apple got the message, as the ability to use star ratings has quietly returned in iOS 10.2.
It’s still hidden by default, but if you’re an iTunes power user who has gotten used to being able to rate your tracks on a sliding scale — a feature that’s been available in iTunes and on the iPod since its very inception — you’ll be happy to know that a quick trip into the Music section of your Settings app provides an option to toggle the feature back on.…
The European Commission has announced a joint decision between Apple and Audible to end their exclusive arrangement for the sale of audiobooks on the iTunes Store, potentially opening up competition in downloadable audiobook distribution in Europe. Audible has been Apple’s exclusive supplier of audiobook titles for the iTunes Store since its debut in 2003, preventing other companies that provide downloadable audiobooks from accessing the iTunes Store, as well as precluding Audible from supplying its titles to other third-party platforms — although the agreement has not prevented Audible, which is now owned by Amazon, from selling its audiobooks directly to consumers. The new agreement between Amazon/Audible and Apple came following communications with the European Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office, who were looking into antitrust concerns around the exclusivity arrangement following a complaint raised by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, which raised several other complaints against Audible as well.
Nintendo has posted a video announcing its next game for iOS, Fire Emblem Heroes. Originally announced last April, Fire Emblem Heroes is a tactical RPG designed specifically to work on smaller screens, and it’s designed for a quick pick-up-and-play style. Players undertake strategic battles in the fantasy world of Fire Emblem, leveling up their characters and taking advantage of character attributes to plan attacks and match heroes and enemies appropriately. The game is played across multiple 8x6 maps designed to easily fit on a smartphone and allow for short burst play. Players drag-and-drop or select locations to move their party around the map while attacking, with the goal of defeating all of the enemies on the map to win each level. While the controls have been kept simple, maps get more challenging as players advance through the game, requiring them to plan their moves carefully and factor in terrain. In-game orbs can be found during gameplay or purchased as in-app purchases that will allow players to summon heroes as their allies to fight alongside them in specific battles. A Training Tower mode allows players to practice combat and gain experience and rewards, Special Maps provide seasonal events, and Arena Duels allow players to compete for high scores in multiple battles. Fire Emblem Heroes is expected to be available on the App Store on Feb. 2. No pricing details have been announced yet.
New rumors from Apple’s Asian suppliers suggest that Apple may be working on an update to Apple Pencil to be released alongside new iPad Pro models widely expected to be unveiled in March. While the rumors are vague on what new capabilities will be included, a Bloomberg report several months ago noted that Apple was working on “wider operating-system support for Apple’s stylus accessory” with the possibility of allowing users to annotate objects throughout iOS, rather than only in those apps specifically designed for the Apple Pencil. The Bloomberg report speculated that such features could be added as part of an iOS software update in early 2017, in which case the update would likely be released around the same time as the new iPad Pro models. It seems that such enhancements wouldn’t require a new Apple Pencil model, although there’s also been speculation that the new Apple Pencil could incorporate functionality Apple has outlined in several patents, such as an antenna, and a magnet for attaching to the iPad when not in use. [via MacRumors]
In our iLounge Deal for today, you can pick up a one-year subscription to SelectTV by FreeCast for only $24 — that’s 33% off the regular price. If you’re looking to cut the cord, SelectTV has you covered with all the perks of both cable and web-based streaming and a library of over 300,000 episodes, 200,000 movies, 50,000 radio stations, and 5,000 live channels, from over 150 countries, all accessible from a single browser interface.
Apple has released an update to GarageBand for iOS, adding new integration with Logic Pro X 10.3, along with a number of more sophisticated music creation options. With GarageBand 2.2, Logic Pro X users can now create GarageBand-compatible versions of Logic projects in iCloud that can be opened on iOS devices to add new recordings while on the go, with new recordings automatically synced back to the original Logic project the next time it’s opened on Mac. The new update also includes the Alchemy synthesizer well-known to Logic Pro users, with a rich collection of more than 150 Apple-designed patches across a variety of genres. Alchemy’s Transform Pad also lets users morph between eight sonic snapshots in real-time for more expressive performances.
Apple has announced a major update to its Logic Pro X 10.3 ($200) recording app, with advanced support for the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro models along with a new modern design and several other advanced features. Touch Bar users can now view and navigate their project in a timeline view right in the Touch Bar, along with accessing volume and Smart Controls for any selected track. The Touch Bar also provides access to performance controls, such as a piano keyboard and drum pads to play and record software instruments, and keyboard shortcut sequences can be assigned to controls on the Touch Bar, as well. A new Track Alternatives feature provides the ability to quickly create and switch between different groupings of regions and edits on any track, allowing more flexibility in experimenting with creative ideas or evaluating different versions of a track in progress. Selection-based Processing has also been added, allowing users to combine multiple Logic and third-party effect plug-ins into one or more audio regions.
The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against Apple supplier Qualcomm, accusing the company of “using anticompetitive tactics to maintain its monopoly in the supply of a key semiconductor device used in cell phones.” The FTC alleges that Qualcomm violated the law by forcing cell phone manufacturers to agree to its preferred license terms to gain access to its processors. The company is also accused of suppressing competition by charging Apple reduced patent royalties from 2011 to 2016 to keep the company loyal.
Government officials in India have signaled they won’t be providing Apple with its desired 15-year exemption on duties typically charged to electronics manufacturers in the country, but they are open to relaxing the regulations on the industry as a whole to boost the “Make in India” campaign, The Economic Times reports. After being denied an exemption to India’s requirement that at least 30 percent of the materials in devices it sells in the country be sourced locally, Apple reportedly asked for a full exemption on the 12.5 percent duty that India charges manufacturers on imported raw materials, equipment and components in order to save on setting up local manufacturing facilities.
Today in iLounge Deals, you can pick up the Extra-Long MFi-Certified 2-in-1 iOS/Android Charging Cable: 3-Pack for only $21.99 — that’s 72% off the regular price. These 6’ MFi-certified charging cable sport both Lightning and micro-USB connectors so you can use the same cables to charge your iOS and Android devices, as well as any other device supporting micro-USB charging.