Apple has sent out an email to registered developers announcing the debut of search ads in the App Store. Apple SVP Phil Schiller announced earlier this year that search ads would be coming to the App Store, however provided few additional details at the time beyond saying that Apple was giving careful consideration on the best way to implement ads in a customer-friendly manner. Search Ads will allow developers to easily create tailored ads to promote their apps at the top of App Store search results, with basic ads created automatically using metadata and imagery from the developer’s app and automatic matching of ads to relevant searches in the App Store. Advanced features will allow developers to target their ads to iPhone or iPad users, adds their own keywords, specify a target demographic for ads, and schedule campaigns to appear only during certain time periods. Apple has published a new set of pages at searchads.apple.com where developers can find out more information on the new service and sign up to receive a $100 credit toward their first campaign.
Apple is making a big push to turn HealthKit into a diagnostic tool, Bloomberg reports. The app currently collects fitness data from a user’s devices, but people familiar with Apple’s plans said the company has scores of health-care experts building improved software to analyze and understand the implication’s of patient information. The team is also working on new apps for the Apple Watch, including one that tracks sleep patterns and another that gauges fitness levels by measuring the time it takes a user’s heart rate to fall from peak to resting levels.
Google has brought its new Allo messaging app to iOS, making an effort to pack as much functionality as possible into the messenger so that users don’t have to leave it to get outside information. The main selling feature is integration with Google’s other services, integrating search and calendar functions into the chat to give users the ability to look up information and make plans without toggling between multiple apps. The app includes a preview edition of the Google Assistant as well, giving users the ability to type @google to ask for help to find an address, look up a dinner location or find and share a YouTube video, all within the conversation in real time.
Twitter has released the anticipated Apple TV version of its popular social networking app, following reports last month that it was in talks with the NFL to live-stream Thursday-night football games on the big screen. The new Twitter app for the Apple TV goes beyond NFL streaming, however, providing a live Bloomberg Markets channel which can be viewed while accompanied by Tweets, along with Twitter Moments and Top Vines and Top Periscopes. Notably, the app does not provide any access to a user’s own timeline or messages, and reports indicate that the NFL Thursday Night Football feed being used by Twitter is being supplied by CBS.
Apple has updated its suite of iWork apps — Pages, Numbers, and Keynote — for iOS 10, adding beta support for real-time collaboration with other iWork users. With the new feature, users can edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in real-time across the iWork applications on iOS, macOS, and iCloud.com. Documents can be shared publicly or only with specific people. You can view who else is currently editing, and view their cursors in real-time as they’re editing. The apps also gain a new format pane for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, wide color gamut image support, support for older iWork ‘05 documents, improved downloading on-demand, and enhanced keyboard and navigation shortcuts. Additionally, a new Keynote Live feature in Keynote allows users to broadcast a slideshow to Mac, iPad, iPhone, and iCloud.com users, and the Apple Pencil can now be used to highlight when presenting from an iPad Pro.
Apple made the entire iMessage App Store available to iOS 10 beta users yesterday, ahead of today’s iOS 10 launch. The store includes apps like OpenTable, games like Words with Friends, and exclusive sticker packs from big names like Disney and Nintendo. While some of the new apps are standalone exclusives to the iMessage App Store, many others are simply extensions of existing apps already available in Apple’s primary App Store. The sticker packs are a varied bunch as well, ranging from the simple Super Mario Run tie-in that doesn’t do much of anything, all the way to Disney’s animated Star Wars stickers that can be peeled and pasted directly onto messages. We’ll have more on the iMessage App Store’s new offerings as we delve into iOS 10 after today’s public release. [via 9to5Mac]
Google has released an update to Google Photos, incorporating some of the Live Photos features it debuted in its Motion Stills app earlier this year. While Google Photos added support for backing up and viewing live photos back in March, Google Photos 2.0 now allows users to apply image stabilization to Live Photos and save them as looping animated GIFs or video clips for easier sharing with non-iOS devices. The new version of Google Photos will also allow users to freeze the background in a Live Photo or create “sweeping cinematic pans” — although more advanced Live Photo editing features beyond this remain the purview of the full Motion Stills app. The Google Photos 2.0 update also adds the ability to choose a new thumbnail for faces in the People section, sort photos in albums chronologically or by date added, and more streamlined sharing to YouTube.
As expected, Apple has released the final “GM” versions of iOS 10, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10 to registered developers in advance of their final release, scheduled for Sept. 13. Barring any significant problems, these final developer releases are normally identical to the versions that are ultimately released to the public, and are listed in the Software Updates scenes simply as the base versions (e.g. “iOS 10”) with full final release notes and no “beta” designation. Notably, iOS 10 on Apple’s Developer Download Site is listed as “iOS 10.0.1” and includes a build number of 14A403. watchOS 3 has a build number of 14S326 and tvOS 10 is 14T330 — these numbers should be identical to the final versions released next week, so as usual, developers installing the GM seeds will not need to install the final public release.
During today’s fall Apple Event, CEO Tim Cook provided an update on the state of the App Store, highlighting that the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are now the most popular gaming devices in the world, and he used the opportunity to segue into an announcement that Nintendo will finally be bringing the venerable Mario to the iPhone. Cook handed over the stage to the “father of Mario,” Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto, to expand on the announcement, revealing a brand new mobile-optimized game, “Super Mario Run,” that will be coming to the iPhone. It’s designed exclusively for mobile, one-handed play.
Apple is moving ahead with some more of the App Store changes promised back in June, with an email sent to developers today announcing new auto-renewable subscription capabilities and advising that they can now begin getting their apps and games ready for the new subscription model. As Apple’s developer page on Offering Subscriptions explains, auto-renewable subscriptions can now be offered on all Apple platforms and in all app categories, including games, to provide users with access to content or services on an ongoing basis, and automatically renew until a user chooses to cancel. Developers will be able to allow users to sign up for subscriptions with free trial periods, subject to the normal subscription durations, and will also be able to offer upgrades, downgrades, and crossgrades to subscriptions, all controlled via Apple’s in-app purchase APIs.
In an email sent to registered developers, Apple today announced that as of Sept. 7 it will begin “an ongoing process of evaluating apps” and removing any apps that “no longer function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines, or are outdated” with a goal of improving the quality of apps in the App Store and making it easier for users to find apps which meet their needs. The announcement notes that the review will cut across all categories on the App Store, and developers of apps that don’t meet the criteria will be contacted to be given a 30-day window to make any necessary changes in order for their app to remain on the App Store. Apps that are completely non-functional — that is, those that crash on launch — will be removed immediately. Apps that are removed will only be taken down from the App Store’s catalog, and users who have already downloaded a removed app will be able to continue using it and even take advantage of in-app purchases.
Instagram’s latest update to its iOS app adds the ability to pinch-to-zoom on photos and videos, a feature long requested by iPhone users. The improvement allows users to get a closer look at images and videos, but notably, snaps back to the original size instantly when released. The updated app also makes changes to the Stories feature, providing better options for taking photos and videos in the dark by adding a low-light button that will appear when the camera detects darkness.
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.