While Siri is the usual public focus of Apple’s artificial intelligence endeavors, a new Backchannel story points out that much of the behavior iPhone users notice in their device is also powered by the company’s increasing push to improve its AI. When the iPhone guesses which apps you’ll want to use next when you swipe your screen, that’s Apple’s AI at work, but the device also lashes together pieces of information from several places to provide a more complete picture. Machine learning helps Apple devices do everything from extending battery life between charges to identifying a caller who isn’t in its contact list by referencing emails. It’s also responsible for the iPad Pro knowing the difference between the Apple Pencil’s touch and the palm being dragged alongside it while a user is drawing, accepting the Pencil’s input while rejecting the palm’s. “If this doesn’t work rock solid, this is not a good piece of paper for me to write on anymore — and Pencil is not a good product,” said senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi. “If you love your Pencil, thank machine learning.”
The Nike+ Running app has gotten a total facelift and a new name with version 5.0.0. Now called Nike+ Run Club, the app provides plenty of new options for runners, including the ability to create coaching plans that adapt to their schedule and progress. Post-run sharing options add a social aspect and allow runners to compete with their friends by hash-tagging runs.
In an expansive interview with the Washington Post, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at Apple’s plans for the future, touching on artificial intelligence and augmented reality. While Cook dodged questions on the company’s car project, he was bullish on artificial intelligence’s ability to transform the dwindling cell phone market in the near future, renewing the company’s focus on things that will help users in their daily lives. Touting Apple’s own efforts and those of Uber and Lyft to integrate car-hailing services into Siri, he said the company opening up the personal assistant to third-party developers has unlocked a lot of potential. “Third-party developers are writing tons of those that will be available to the public in the fall,” Cook said of the integrations. “And that’s how we’re broadening Siri in a huge way.”
Months after winning its bid to live-stream Thursday night NFL games, Twitter is in talks to bring its app to Apple TV, The New York Times reports. Apple was reportedly interested in the March bidding war over the rights to stream the games, but didn’t end up entering the race against rivals like Amazon, Google and Yahoo. A deal with Twitter would potentially let Apple gain access anyway, allowing millions of Apple TV users to watch the live broadcasts, according to two people briefed on the discussions. Whether the Apple TV app would be mostly identical to the company’s iOS app or a stripped down version (similar to what Adobe did with its Lightroom viewer) is unclear. Both Apple and Twitter declined to comment.
Hulu is moving to an all-subscription model, ditching the ad-supported service that has let viewers watch free TV episodes since it launched nine years ago, Variety reports. Hulu’s free service will be phased out over the next few weeks, with an expanded distribution deal with Yahoo filling that void. The new Yahoo View site will offer the five most recent episodes of shows from ABC, NBC and Fox eight days after they air alongside other network shows and day-after full clips, all on a free, ad-supported basis. After handing off the free side of its service, Hulu will ratchet up its competition with Netflix and Amazon Prime as it prepares to launch a live TV service sometime in 2017, offering linear channels from its parent companies that include local TV stations.
In an interview with Fast Company, Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue admitted that the company’s embarrassment over its dismal Maps rollout directly led to its offering of public betas today. When the Maps app debuted in 2012 with bridges plunging into rivers, shopping malls marked as hospitals, and airport runways labeled as navigable roads, Apple went into crisis mode. “We had completely underestimated the product, the complexity of it. All the roads are known, come on! All the restaurants are known, there’s Yelp and OpenTable, they have all the addresses,” Cue said. “The mail arrives. FedEx arrives. You know, how hard is this?”
Almost nine months following its initial beta release on the Google Play Store, Apple’s Apple Music app for Android devices has officially dropped the “beta” tag with an update that appeared late yesterday. Although the app remained in beta status up until now, Apple continued to make improvements to the Apple Music experience on Android, adding support for a home screen widget for controlling playback, allowing the ability to save music to SD card storage, and support for Music Videos and purchasing of Family Plan subscriptions from within the app. In addition to removing the beta status, the latest update also adds equalizer settings and “a variety of performance, playback, and stability improvements.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook announced via Twitter yesterday that July set a new record for App Store sales, with the “highest-ever monthly billings and money paid to developers.” In a subsequent tweet, Cook went on to say that App Store developers have now collectively earned a total of over $50 billion over the past eight years that the App Store has been in operation.
July was a record-breaker for the @AppStore! Highest-ever monthly billings and money paid to developers.— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) August 3, 2016
Last month during the company’s Q3 2016 conference call, Cook revealed that the App Store had reached its highest revenue ever, and that Apple also set a new record for the average amount spent per customer on the App Store. During the same call, Cook went on to say that Apple expects its services revenue to continue to grow, which will be driven largely by App Sales, and that he expects it to be the size of a Fortune 100 company by itself by this time next year.
Apple has a redesigned version of its Apple Store app in the works that will feature personalized recommendations, according to a new report by Bloomberg. The updated app, expected to roll out within the new two weeks, will likely include a “For You” section that features suggested products based on a user’s prior purchasing history. While the report incorrectly indicates that there are separate Apple Store apps for the iPhone and iPad that will be merged in the new version, it is possible that Apple may be taking steps to provide a more unified interface design in the app on both the iPad and iPhone.
Parkopedia announced today that it will be providing information on available parking to Apple Maps. The new capability will give Apple Maps users information about parking garages and lots in 75 countries across North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America, with the option to click through to Parkopedia’s website and iOS app to make reservations or see detailed information like pricing, user reviews and real-time space availability. Apple hasn’t made a formal announcement about the arrangement, and as of this writing we haven’t been able to find any added functionality for information about local parking options, so it’s unclear at this point whether this will be functionality that Parkopedia and Apple will be working together to build into the core Maps experience, or Parkopedia announcing plans to take advantage of the new third-party Maps extensions capabilities coming in iOS 10.
Update: We reached out to Parkopedia for clarification, and they clarified that this is in fact a back-end partnership with Apple to integrate Parkopeida into the core Apple Maps app. A spokesperson indicated that Apple has been slowly integrating the functionality into Apple Maps since March, but today’s announcement represents a worldwide rollout with full functionality taking place now. Searching for parking in Apple Maps should begin showing Parkopedia content across parking lot icons which will appear on Apple Maps and include data such as location, payment type, number of spaces, and more. Apple Maps users will also be able to book parking spaces by clicking on a booking link, and in the future will be able to search for lots by price to find the cheapest lots.
Microsoft has released its own third-party iOS app intended to replace Apple’s own Camera app with a simpler-to-use interface that’s more reliant on artificial intelligence. Microsoft Pix takes all control out of the user’s hands, automatically seeking out faces, tweaking settings on certain areas of photos, stabilizing videos and creating short, looped video clips when it detects motion in a photo. The app captures a burst of frames with every shutter click, then selects the three “best” shots and deletes the rest, favoring automation over total control. The app also allows users to see the difference before and after it applied all of its automatic improvements, but notably doesn’t provide an option to save the pre-altered photo. Microsoft Pix is available for free on the App Store.
Adobe has created a new version of its Lightroom app for Apple TV, with abilities limited to viewing photos edited and saved in the corresponding iOS and desktop apps. Whereas those versions are geared toward editing, the Apple TV version includes a simplified interface that only supports browsing through collections. Photos and their applied edits saved on the Creative Cloud can be synced automatically for viewing on the bigger screen. The download is free on the tvOS app store, but won’t work without the $10 a month Creative Cloud subscription.
Apple has put out an open casting call for app developers looking to be featured in the company’s original series “Planet of the Apps.” Announced earlier this year, the show will follow developers as they receive hands-on guidance from experts in the tech community, funding from top venture capitalists, and featured placement in the App Store. Online applications are being accepted until August 26, and applicants must agree to have “an iOS, macOS, tvOS, or watchOS app in a beta or functional state by October 21.” The first season will film in Los Angeles from late this year into early 2017, so those hoping to be on the show will need to be available for that period.
Pokémon GO getting full access to Google Accounts of some iOS users (Update: Niantic working on fix)
While Pokémon GO has become a major phenomenon in less than a week, researcher Adam Reeve has noted a major flaw in the game, calling Pokémon GO “a huge security risk.” Pokémon GO players have two ways to sign on to the game — through a Google Account, or a Pokémon Trainer Club account. The latter is having major problems, so most users are signing on using their Google Account. And as Reeve points out, for some iOS users, Pokémon GO has been granted full access of that account. This means that the game and/or developer could conceivably read and send email from your account, delete emails and Google Drive documents, and much, much more.
Nintendo’s Pokémon GO is already a full-fledged phenomenon, sending players out into the world to hunt down Pokémon in augmented reality and pushing the company’s stock up by 25 percent, The Wall Street Journal reports. Less than a day after its release, the game became the most downloaded and highest-grossing app in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand — the only countries where it’s currently available. People familiar with plans for the game said it will likely be launching in Europe, Japan and other Asian countries “within a few days.” Data firm SimilarWeb said the game is on pace to surpass Twitter among Android users in the U.S. in its number of daily active users, and it has even prompted safety warnings from police who warn users to be aware of their surroundings while hunting down Pokémon.
Alongside the second developer betas for iOS 10 and tvOS 10 released earlier this week, Apple has also been providing developers with betas of the new Apple TV Remote App. We took a look at the first beta of the remote app in our sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10, noting that the new app will provide all of the capabilities of the Siri Remote, with a button for issuing Siri commands and support for turning the device into a game controller in landscape orientation, complete with accelerometer and gyroscope support. Now with the second beta of the Remote app released earlier this week, it appears that users will be able to use their iPhone as a second game controller, alongside the Siri Remote, marking an interesting slight departure from the original single Siri Remote limitation — although it appears that users will still only be able to pair one hardware Siri Remote with a given Apple TV.
Nintendo may be designing its own controller for smartphones, Polygon reports. Shinya Takahashi, Nintendo’s general manager of entertainment planning and development, told shareholders the company is looking into both hardware and software development for its burgeoning entry into the smartphone and tablet game market. “Physical controllers for smart device applications are available in the market and it is possible that we may also develop something new by ourselves,” he said. “I believe Nintendo’s way of thinking is to look at whether action games are really not impossible (without a physical controller for smart device applications) to create and how we can make it happen to create such a game.”
After rolling out a beta test in May, Pokémon GO has hit the App Store in Australia, but a company spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that U.S. and Japanese customers will have to “wait a while” for the formal launch. While the timeframe seems unclear at this point, we’d expect to see the game pop up in the U.S. App Store soon, and we’ll update this story once the game is available in the U.S.
Update: Pokémon GO was released in the U.S. App Store on Wednesday night.
A subsidiary of China’s broadcasting regulator has sued Apple over the rights to a 1994 propaganda film, The Associated Press reports. The suit from Movie Satellite Channel Program Production Center accuses the developer of the Youku HD app of enabling users to watch “Xuebo dixiao,” a film that depicts Chinese forces fighting Japanese soldiers in the 1930s. The plaintiff claims that by making the app available for download, Apple has infringed its exclusive rights to broadcast the film online, resulting in “huge economic losses.” The production company is asking both companies to stop broadcasting the film and pay damages amounting to around $10,000. Apple declined to comment.
When Apple rolls out iOS 10 this fall, the Health app will be getting a small update that CEO Tim Cook hopes will make a big difference for people waiting for an organ transplant, The Associated Press reports. The improved Health app will include a simple sign-up button allowing users to enroll in the National Donate Life Registry quickly and easily. Cook said the issue hit home for Apple since he and many others witnessed the “excruciating” wait Apple co-founder Steve Jobs endured while awaiting a liver transplant in 2009. More information on enrollment through the Health app and Donate Life America can be found on Apple’s website.