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The Sims FreePlay adds augmented reality with ARKit 2

Electronic Arts and Maxis have released a new “Brilliant Backyards” update for The Sims FreePlay, adding support for Apple’s ARKit 2 to allow users to not only place their Sims in real-world settings, but also share real-time co-op building experiences with a friend. Users can build their Sims’ dream homes in a real-world environment, and even tie the AR experience to a specific location so they can return to it anytime. A trailer has also been published demonstrating the new ARKit features.

Report: Apps using deceptive practices to trick users into expensive subscriptions

A new report from TechCrunch reveals that a number of developers are taking advantage of Apple’s in-app subscription model to trick users into signing up for expensive recurring plans. While the apps in question aren’t always running blatantly afoul of Apple’s App Store Guidelines, they do appear to be skirting the guidelines by internationally confusing and misleading users with promises of “free trials” that require payment after only a few days. TechCrunch notes that the worst offenders appear to be in the “Utilities” category, where apps like QR code readers, document scanners, translators, and weather apps are placing in the Top Grossing apps chart not far below legitimate leaders like Fortnite and Netflix.

Adobe officially previews Photoshop on the iPad, coming in 2019

Adobe officially announced its plans today to bring the full Photoshop CC experience to the iPad. The announcement confirms a report from the summer, which suggested that the new app would be unveiled at Adobe’s MAX conference in October, with the release scheduled for 2019, but didn’t provide too many details other than that it would be a full release of Photoshop CC, rather than the scaled down “lite” or focused single-app attempts that Adobe has previously come up with. While today’s announcement still doesn’t provide a specific release date beyond “in the future,” Adobe has provided some additional details on what the iPad experience will be like, noting that it’s “bringing real Photoshop to mobile devices with an approachable user experience and the power and precision needed for image compositing” and that it will work as a standalone app or as a companion that will sync with Photoshop on the desktop via Adobe’s Creative Cloud platform. Users will be able to open PSD files natively directly on an iPad, and use the same editing tools, optimized for the touchscreen interface, and Adobe notes that the iPad version will use “the same underlying code and algorithms” as the desktop version, providing the same results from editing on either platform, and direct round-tripping of the same PSD files between the iPad and the desktop versions of Photoshop.

Pocket rolls out major app redesign for better reading and listening experience

Popular read-it-later service Pocket has just announced a major update to its Pocket app for iOS, featuring a more modern and clean design layout along with an improved listen feature for users who like to have their save articles read to them. The new user interface provides a noticeably more comfortable reading experience with better use of white space to reduce the feel of clutter in the article listing, along with new typography and an improved dark theme for better night reading. The full-screen reading experience is entirely distraction-free, hiding all controls when in scrolling mode to focus entirely on the text, and the lower toolbar has been redesigned to place commonly used tools toward the right corner, along with the more prominent placement of the “Listen” button. The voice narration also now features a new and more human-sounding voice for those who want to be able to listen to their articles when on the go or simply relaxing on the couch. Pocket continues to offer the iOS app and basic bookmarking service for free, while a $45/year “Premium” tier adds additional features such as full-text search, a permanent archive of saved articles, suggested tags, additional customizability, and an ad-free experience.

Apple Music partners with Genius lyrics service

Apple and the Genius lyrics service has announced a partnership that will see Apple Music gain access to the latter’s comprehensive lyric database while allowing users of the Genius service to stream songs directly from Apple Music. Starting today, Genius users who are also Apple Music subscribers will be able to play any song in full right from that song’s page, simply by signing into their Apple Music account, whether in the Genius iOS app or when browsing on On the flip side, Genius’ lyrics database is now available on Apple Music, providing a new source of lyrics to “thousands of hit songs on the service” that promises to deliver more accurate and up to date lyrics, bolstered by Genius’ crowdsourced database. “Being able to read lyrics and annotations on Genius while you listen along on Apple Music is a dream Genius experience,” said ​Ben Gross, Genius’s Chief Strategy Officer​. “We’re proud to make Apple Music our official music player, and we’re doubly excited to bring Genius lyrics to their amazing platform.”

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI comes to the iPhone

After being ported to the iPad earlier this year, the latest instalment of Sid Meier’s venerable Civilization series, Civilization VI, is now available on the iPhone as well, and best of all it’s essentially the full console and PC experience, squeezed onto the iPhone, although not all of the expansion content is available as of yet. The new iPhone version is simply a universal app expansion of the iPad version, so anybody who already purchased the iPad version can play on the iPhone for free, while other users will be able to download what is essentially a trial version that allows for up to 60 turns before requiring an in-app purchase to continue. While the full price of the iOS version of the game is $60 — a price that Aspyr undoubtedly considers justifiable considering the full game experience — there’s an introductory deal offering the full game for $24 until October 16, 2018. Not surprisingly, the game requires an iPhone 7 or later model, or an iPad Air 2, fifth-generation iPad, or any iPad Pro, running iOS 11 or later. [via 9to5Mac]

Plex Web Shows offers free on-demand streaming of curated episodic shows

Plex has announced Web Shows, a new feature that enhances the company’s media platform, offering unlimited, on-demand streaming of curated shows via the Plex app on any supported device, ranging from the iPhone to the Apple TV and beyond. The new feature, which is launching in “beta”, will be available to users regardless of whether they have a Plex Media Server or even a paid Plex Pass subscription, and will offer access to a multitude of web shows across a variety of interests such as food, home and garden, science and tech, entertainment, and pop culture. Including at launch at popular titles from independent creators including Epic Meal Time, ASAPscience, Household Hacker, People are Awesome, and The Pet Collective, as well as brand content from GQ, Saveur, Epicurious, Pitchfork, and more, and Plex plans to add new content on an ongoing basis to continue to expand what’s available on the service.

Dropbox launches new Nautilus full-text search engine, powered by machine learning

Dropbox has announced that its new machine-learning based full-text search engine is ready for prime time, replacing its three-year-old Firefly engine. The new technology, dubbed Nautilus, has been designed to address the challenges faced by Dropbox in trying to build a reliable and personalized full-text solution as the company’s systems continue to scale upward in size. As Dropbox notes, with over 500 million users that all store unique documents and have different preferences and search behaviours, the company’s needs differ greatly from traditional web search engines. With the new search engine, Dropbox is building on its Machine Intelligence Platform to work out a system that will gradually improve over time as new data is fed into it, with the objectives of delivering “best-in-class performance” and reliability, being able to create a foundation that will provide the basis for intelligent document ranking and retrieval, as well as keeping the system open-ended enough to allow Dropbox engineers to iterate and experiment on it, while still performing well and protecting user privacy. While Dropbox has ben running Nautilus in “shadow mode” for testing purposes, the company has now switched it over to become the primary search engine at Dropbox, and reports that they’ve already seen “significant improvements” in indexing time, and expects to build more onto the platform to add new features and improve search quality. A full look at the architecture of the new platform can be found in the company’s blog post.

Sonarworks now supports over 200 headphones, with iOS app on the way

Earlier this year we took a look at Sonarworks True-Fi, a DSP headphone reference app for Mac users that can round out the sound signature of cheap headphones but also be a great tool for audio enthusiasts by comparing various headphones to true “reference” sound signatures. This week, the company has announced that True-Fi has achieved the milestone of supporting 232 different headphone models, covering a range from common consumer headphones from popular companies like Panasonic, Pioneer, and Behringer — and even Apple’s AirPods — to gaming headsets and wireless earbuds; a list of all supported headphones can be found on the company’s website. Even more significantly, Sonarworks has announced its mobile app set to be released “in the coming weeks,” allowing iPhone users to take advantage of the app’s ability to provide “reference sound” at the push of a button. Sonarworks also continues to add to its growing array of headphone models, which are made available to consumers through updates at no extra cost. True-Fi for Mac and PC is available for $79, and the mobile app is expected to be out “very soon.”

Google Maps update adds CarPlay support

Only two days after [going into beta testing], Google has already released an update to Google Maps, adding support for CarPlay in iOS 12. Google Maps 5.0, now available on the App Store, will allow the Google Maps app to be displayed on the in-dash screen in any vehicle support Apple CarPlay, providing turn-by-turn directions and other navigation features for users who prefer using Google Maps. Previously, only Apple Maps could be used with CarPlay, but with iOS 12, developers of third-party navigation apps can now extend their user interface to the CarPlay screen.

1Password adds support for iOS 12 Password Autofill

Alongside iOS 12, AgileBits has released an update to [1Password] bringing support for the new Password Autofill feature in iOS 12. With 1Password 7.2 and iOS 12, users will now be able to access passwords stored in 1Password directly from the QuickType bar of the keyboard, allowing them to be quickly filled into websites and apps without having to make a trip into the actual 1Password app. This basically extends the autofill capability that Apple has long provided for its own iCloud Keychain to third-party apps, allowing users to keep all of their passwords in a single trusted app while still gaining the benefits of quick autofill in Safari and any other third-party iOS apps supporting autofill password entry. The update also improves a large number of performance enhancements that will make the app faster and more responsive, and, for users of 1Password’s own cloud service, will automatically remain up to date, even in the background.

Apple updates Pages, Keynote, and Numbers for iOS 12

Apple has updated its Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps for iOS 12, bringing support for Siri Shortcuts to all three apps, along with several other new features. Pages now allows users to animate drawings, and enhances the display and use of Smart Annotations.Numbers adds support for Smart Categories to quickly summarize tables, allowing users to group data based on unique values and date ranges, such as day of week, day, week, month, quarter, or year, and can instantly show summaries such as counts, subtotals, averages, and more for the columns in each group. Charts can be easily created from this summarized data, and categories can be reordered to visualize data in different ways. Keynote users can now adjust the text size in presenter notes and invert colors while presenting. All three apps also now allowing drawings to be saved to the Photos or Files apps or shared directly with others, and also add support for Dynamic Type and a collection of new editable shapes. The three apps still only require iOS 11 or later, although support for Siri Shortcuts requires iOS 12.

Cultured Code releases Things 3.7 with key iOS 12 features

Cultured Code announced the release of Things 3.7 today, adding several new useful features for iOS 12, including support for Siri Shortcuts, the Siri Watch Face on watchOS 5, Dynamic Notifications, and landscape orientation support for iPhone users. Support for Siri Suggestions now allows iOS 12 to provide suggestions for routine tasks, such as offering to open up a today list every morning when noticing that a user routinely views it at around the same time each day, while Siri Shortcuts will allow users to record key phrases that can be used to quickly create predefined tasks — complete with details filled in — and pull up specific lists and filter by tags. Things also now integrates more tightly with Apple’s Shortcuts app to allow multi-step workflows that can create tasks from multiple sources. Dynamic notifications in Things 3.7 will provide users with more options to snooze reminders for 10, 30, or or 60 minutes. Things also now supports iOS 12 password autofill for entering a password for Things Cloud, and a basic single-pane landscape mode is now supported in the iPhone version. More details are available in Cultured Code’s blog post.

Apple’s Shortcuts app now available on the App Store, replacing Workflow

Alongside the release of iOS 12 earlier today, Apple has made its new Shorcuts app available on the App Store. While iOS 12 introduces “Siri Shortcuts” as a built-in feature that allows users to assign key phrases to run single actions in built-in and third-party apps, Apple is delivering the more complicated macro-style Shortcuts functionality as a separate app that runs on top of iOS 12. Apple made the Shortcuts app available via TestFlight beta earlier this year for developers and public beta testers running iOS 12, but with the public release of iOS 12, Shortcuts now directly replaces the Workflow app that Apple [acquired last year], basically installing as a “Workflow 2.0” but with the new name of “Shortcuts” although the new version omits the Apple Watch app that was previously available in the original version of Workflow; it’s unclear whether the watchOS app will return in a future update. Apple has also posted a short tutorial on using Shortcuts along with a more in-depth Shortcuts User Guide

Report: Google Maps for CarPlay goes into beta testing

A user on on Reddit has posted preliminary screenshots of Google Maps running on Apple CarPlay in iOS 12, suggesting that the feature is already in beta testing will hopefully arrive soon. The user, who is part of the Google Maps closed beta program notes that the feature has just been pushed out, and that most of the UI is “pretty identical,” with a green background on navigational text and a settings icon on the top right where users can toggle features like satellite view, highway/toll avoidance, and more. The user also adds that unsurprisingly Siri seems to still open Apple Maps by default, and features such as adding intermediate stops still need to be done directly on the iPhone, although they will carry over to the CarPlay display. A full set of screenshots is linked from the post. [via 9to5Mac]

Google to retire Inbox by Gmail in March 2019

Google has announced that it will be discontinuing Inbox by Gmail effective March 2019 in order to focus all of its new feature development on the main Gmail service and app. Google introduced Inbox by Gmail four years ago as an experiment in a new way of managing and accessing email, organizing emails in a more task-oriented layout and adding built in time- and location-based snooze and reminder features. While Inbox by Gmail definitely provided a unique user interface, it never caught on outside of a certain niche of power users, and many of the feature gradually found their way into the main Gmail app, culminating in a major Gmail refresh this past spring which added features like Smart Reply, Smart Compose, Nudges, high-priority notifications, and snoozing of emails, although Inbox users will still miss unique features like reminders, snoozing of emails by location, and bundling of e-mails, which have not (yet) crossed over into Gmail. Google has also published a Transition Guide to smooth the process for Inbox users, pointing out workarounds to accomplishing some of the same tasks in Gmail, or pointing users to other services such as Google Tasks or Google Keep for handling reminders.

Waze begins testing CarPlay integration in private beta

Popular navigation app Waze has begun testing CarPlay support, 9to5Mac reports, although it appears that the app is not on track to launch the feature with iOS 12 next week. At this point, Waze has only just rolled out a new update with iOS 12 CarPlay integration to its private beta testers, as as 9to5Mac notes, it doesn’t look like it’s close to being generally available any time soon, with the suggestion that they are targeting an October release for it. iOS 12 includes the ability for third-party navigation apps to appear on CarPlay systems — something that’s previously been available only to Apple Maps — and although Sygic announced this week that it has full CarPlay support ready for next week, other navigation app developers like have been considerably more quiet about when these features will actually begin to appear.

Sygic announces Apple CarPlay support coming to its GPS navigation apps with iOS 12

Sygic has announced that its Sygic GPS navigation app will be available on Apple CarPlay with the release of iOS 12 next week, making it one of the first navigation apps to take advantage of Apple’s expansion of third-party app CarPlay support in iOS 12. While many users these days are simply relying on Apple Maps and Google Maps for in-car navigation, Sygic’s apps are used by more than 200 million people worldwide, providing a plethora of more advanced GPS navigation features such as full 3D offline maps with free updates, voice-guided GPS navigation with spoken street names, speed limit warnings, dynamic lane assistance, advanced safety features for driving in unfamiliar surroundings, parking suggestions, fuel prices, speed camera warnings, and more. CarPlay integration will allow Sygic to be available directly from the vehicle’s in-dash touchscreen and linked to voice controls for greater driver safety, supporting features such as online maps, advanced warning of speed limit changes, predictive routing that forecasts traffic congestion, a lane assistant that helps drivers more safely switch lanes, voice navigation, and real-time traffic information updated every two minutes.

Plex to shut down Plex Cloud on Nov. 30

Plex announced today that it will be shutting down its Plex Cloud service as of Nov. 30, 2018, following a struggle with performance and user experience issues with the service. Although Plex has traditionally been focused on allowing users to access media files from their own local computers or network attached storage (NAS) devices, the company introduced Plex Cloud two years ago to provide users with the option to host their media content on cloud services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive. After a number of technical challenges with the service, Plex announced last February that they were “pausing new server creation to evaluate the long term plan for the service,” allowing existing users to continue using Plex Cloud while preventing any new users from signing up fro the service. With today’s announcement, the company has made it clear that they’ve been unable to find “a solution capable of delivering a truly first class Plex experience to Plex Cloud users at a reasonable cost” and have therefore had to make the difficult decision to shut down the service entirely. While the shutdown of the service naturally won’t affect media stored in third-party cloud services, users who wish to continue using Plex will need to set up their own Plex Media Server and migrate their content over to it manually.

Microsoft previewing Authenticator for Apple Watch

Microsoft has announced that it will be rolling out its Microsoft Authenticator app for the Apple Watch, citing high customer demand for having the second factor authentication tool available on their wrists. The app is already available as a public preview via TestFlight, and will allow users of Microsoft personal, work, and school accounts to approve sign-ins that require PIN or biometric authentication without having to pull our their iPhone. All supported accounts will automatically sync to the Apple Watch, and the feature will be included in the next major release of Microsoft Authenticator.

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