One of the lesser-known new features in iOS 10.3 is the ability for third-party apps to offer alternative home screen icons, and today the first major apps have been updated for these new capabilities, reports TechCrunch. Both MLB.com At Bat and NHL now provide the ability for users to change the default home screen icon to reflect their favourite team’s logo. Both apps will prompt the user initially to select an icon to use when first re-entering the app or setting up their favourite teams for the first time, however users can change the icon to another team at any time from the app’s settings. Interestingly, for whatever reason icons don’t yet appear to be available for all teams (sorry, Leafs fans).
Apple is cracking down on the practice of developers putting “free” in the name of their apps to set them apart from other competing apps, VentureBeat reports. While Apple’s developer guide has long discouraged app makers from making such a blatant move, the company is now outright rejecting apps that make any mention of their price in the name or within screenshots. Submitting an app with “free” in its title now returns the following error message: “Your app’s name, icons, screenshots, or previews to be displayed on the App Store include references to your app’s price, which is not considered a part of these metadata items. Please remove any references to your app’s price from your app’s name, including any references to your app being free or discounted. If you would like to advertise changes to your app’s price, it would be appropriate to include this information in the app description.” Existing apps with “free” in their names are still available on the App Store and seem unaffected, but it’s possible that future updates will be rejected if the name isn’t changed to move into compliance with the new policy. Apple confirmed the change but offered no further comment.
Apple has added the ability for developers to reply to reviews, finally giving app creators an outlet to respond to user critiques. Developers can now respond to any review — no matter when it was written — and after an Apple moderator approves the reply, the user will be notified of the response. After that, the user will be given the option to update their review, and then the developer can also update their response, providing a way for both sides to discuss (or argue over) any concerns. No matter how many times the response is edited, only the most recent version will be displayed on each review, and Apple is still moderating all posts to maintain some sense of decorum.
Along with the release of iOS 10.3 earlier today, Apple has also updated its iWork suite of productivity apps with several new features, including the ability to open password-protected documents in each app using Touch ID and format text as superscript of subscript and change text background color. Pages 3.1 also allows users to bookmark document sections, use LaTeX and MathML notation, and import and export RTF documents. Numbers 3.1 improves the editing experience for entering data and formulas, adds an action menu for quick access to common tasks, and allows users to add current or historical stock information in spreadsheets. In Keynote 3.1 slide masters and backgrounds can now be changed up, and a new presentation rehearsal view shows current slide, presenter notes, and timer on a single screen.
Nintendo has released a major update to Super Mario Run, adding new playable characters and allowing more courses to be played without purchasing the game, among other improvements. Super Mario Run 2.0 allows players to unlock four additional courses in the free version of the game by completing one of Bowser’s challenges, and adds different coloured Yoshis that can be used in Toad Rally to gain more toads of that particular colour. Players can also get new courses to play in Toad Rally by completing the first four courses, and get new buildings from the Shop using the new blue and green Toads; Nintendo also promises that additional buildings will be added in a coming event. The update also adds an “Easy Mode” that can be used to clear trickier courses, and makes general adjustments to the ease of play in various other areas.
Among all its product roll outs and updates today, Apple also revealed Clips, a new app that lets users create videos using photos, music and video clips. The app includes a Live Titles feature that lets users make animated captions over their videos simply by using their voice, providing a simple option for adding subtitles to videos that are perfectly timed to the subject’s words. The app also provides several Snapchat-like options, such as filters, stickers, speech bubbles, shapes and more. The app can even identify the people in videos to make it easier to send them a copy through Messages, and allows the videos to be posted on other sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The app is set to be released on the App Store sometime in April.
WebMB has partnered with Scripps Translational Science Institute to conduct a study on pregnancy using Apple’s ResearchKit. WebMD’s existing pregnancy app for iOS has been redesigned to allow for data collection from women opting into the study, which the company hopes will provide new insights on what contributes to healthy pregnancies and positive outcomes. Participants will be able to share biometric data from their iPhone and other connected devices in addition to providing answers to questions about their medication use, vaccination history, pre-existing conditions and changes during pregnancy. A recent study on asthma proved that data collected in ResearchKit is as reliable as that collected by other methods, and Dr. Eric Topol, director of STSI, said the WebMD pregnancy study aims to capture more information about “one of the least studied populations in medical research.” “The results of our Healthy Pregnancy Study—on the foundation of an exceptionally popular smartphone app—will ultimately provide expectant mothers, researchers, and health care professionals with new medical insights to avoid complications during pregnancy,” Topol said.
A warning dialog discovered by developers working with the iOS 10.3 beta stating that apps that have not been updated to include 64-bit support “will not work with future versions of iOS” has led Sensor Tower to determine that the new restriction could affect about 8 percent of apps on the App Store, effectively rendering them obsolete. While there’s no solid evidence that iOS 11 will be the final cutoff for apps that are 32-bit-only, Apple has only been accepting 64-bit new app submissions since Feb. 1, 2015, and forcing app updates to follow the same requirements since June 1, 2015. That means the apps that would be rendered obsolete wouldn’t have been updated since early-2015 anyway, making it unlikely that they’re terribly popular and entirely possible that many have already been abandoned by their creators.
Google’s Area 120 program has just released a new iOS app called Uptime, allowing U.S. users to share YouTube videos with one another and chat in real time while watching them. The app also provides the ability to add reactions or comments, allows users to curate lists of their favorite YouTube clips and provides daily recommendations from friends and people you follow. The app is free on the App Store, but you’ll need to use the invitation code PIZZA to get in. [via TNW]
Plex has announced that its new Plex Cloud feature, originally released as a limited beta last fall, is now available to all Plex Pass subscribers. The Plex Cloud service expands the capabilities of the company’s media streaming platform, allowing users to store their movies, TV shows, and other media content in the cloud rather than, or in addition to, running their own Plex Media Server at home. Although Plex Cloud integrated with Amazon Drive when originally launched in beta, the fully-deployed Plex Cloud service instead allows you to simply tie into your choice of three major storage providers — Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive — and use whatever paid storage you have available on these services.
iDevices has released a major update to iDevices Connected, the company’s app for controlling HomeKit-based devices, including its own Switch, Socket, and Thermostat devices. Version 3.0 of iDevices Connected adds support for HomeKit location triggers, as well as “characteristic” triggers that can initiate HomeKit scenes when another HomeKit device is controlled, such as activating an “arriving home” scene when unlocking a HomeKit-enabled door lock. The new version also adds new services and characteristics to expand Scene capabilities, and brings a number of enhancements to scheduling, including a visual timeline the presents schedules in a calendar-like view, the ability to save and re-apply schedules across multiple scenes, and an initial setup assistant to create a baseline schedule for iDevices’ connected thermostat. The app also allows individual iDevices products to be scheduled without having to create single-device scenes, and makes some nice improvements to energy reporting. Firmware updates for iDevices’ accessories are also included as part of this update, improving responsiveness and addressing several minor stability bugs pertaining to certain Wi-Fi configurations.
Mobiata has announced that it is shutting down its popular FlightTrack 5 and FlightBoard apps, effective Mar. 1, 2017. Although the company admits that it hasn’t provided many updates to the two apps in recent months, FlightTrack was one of the first and best flight tracking apps on the App Store, and quickly became a mainstay for iPhone travellers. Mobiata was acquired by Expedia in 2010, and although it continued to run largely as an independent unit in developing its FlightTrack and FlightBoard apps over the past six years, a recent “critical assessment” by the larger parent company regarding the demand for travel app products suggests that a decision was made to focus Mobiata’s resources on implementing the technology in FlightTrack and FlightBoard into the main Expedia app in order to provide a “one-stop shopping” travel app solution.
Playdigious and Dinosaur Polo club have released an update to their highly-acclaimed Mini Metro, adding the long-awaited Endless Mode. Covered in our App Diary and selected as our 2016 Game of the Year, Mini Metro is an addictive puzzle-strategy game with a simple premise: players are tasked with creating an efficient rail system in a growing city, connecting rail stations on a variety of different maps to ensure the smooth flow of passengers within a limited amount of time — the goal being to move the highest number of passengers before one of your stations fills up to capacity, ending the game. With Endless Mode in the latest update, players now have the option of open-ended gameplay where time is no longer a stress factor, allowing for a more zen-like gameplay experience to experiment, design, and operate the subway grid of your dreams.
Instagram has rolled out an update to its iOS app today allowing users to include up to 10 photos or videos in a single post. When uploading photos, a new icon in the bottom right of the photo offers the option “select multiple,” after which users can choose to apply a filter to all the images/videos at once or edit each individually. The posts will all share the same caption and can only be square shaped for the time being. The first image will appear in followers’ feeds with an icon in the bottom right corner indicating there are more photos or videos attached, allowing users to swipe them to see more. The move is the latest push by Instagram to add new features to its tried-and-true single-image formula, following the addition of the Snapchat-like Stories feature last year and the inclusion of support for the iPhone 7’s Live Photos last month.
Facebook is reportedly in talks with Major League Baseball to live stream one game each week during the 2017 season, Reuters reports. The move raises the possibility that the broadcast could also land on the company’s new Apple TV app, similar to the deal reached by Twitter to stream Thursday night NFL games on the device. While Facebook’s promises about its upcoming Apple TV video app make no mention of using it to stream live sports, the company has been making deals to stream everything from Mexican soccer games to table tennis matches, and sources close to the discussions say the company is already in “advanced talks” with MLB.
Facebook has announced its rumored video-centric app for the Apple TV, alongside several other improvements to viewing videos within the Facebook app for iPhone and iPad. Originally rumored earlier this month to be in development, the new Facebook app is expected to “roll out soon” on the Apple TV App Store, alongside support for several other smart TV platforms and media devices such as Amazon’s Fire TV and Samsung Smart TV. The new app will allow users to watch top videos, videos shared by friends and shared on Pages that they follow, recommended videos, and videos that have been saved to watch later.
Today EPIX announced it has joined the ranks of other pay channels like HBO and Showtime, offering an Apple TV app for the first time. EPIX is offering a “limited free trial of the app exclusively on Apple TV,” with a report from Variety spelling out that new subscribers enrolling through Apple TV will receive a four-week free trial before having to sign up for the channel through their cable provider. The app provides access to the channel’s live programming and the ability to add content to a queue, search through the channel’s older content, browse curated collections and view movie trailers. The app is also available on iPhone and iPad, where users can download content for offline viewing.
In a post on Medium, verify.ly creator Will Strafach claims his team has discovered at least 76 popular iOS apps vulnerable to silent man-in-the-middle attacks. Strafach doesn’t disclose the most vulnerable apps for security purposes, but listed a few of the apps that have a lower degree of security risks, like the ooVoo video calling app, Trading 212 Forex & Stocks trading app and several different file uploaders affiliated with Snapchat. Most of the apps named leave user details like email addresses, user names and passwords open to interception by a third party, and Strafach says iOS’s App Transport Security feature doesn’t help block the vulnerability. The problem lies in commonly misconfigured networking code that Apple is unable to patch on its end, but data is only vulnerable to interception when using a public WiFi network, so Strafach simply recommends turning Wi-Fi off and using the phone’s cellular data when dealing with sensitive information away from home. [via 9to5Mac]
Microsoft has announced a major update to its iOS email and calendar app, Microsoft Outlook, bringing support for third-party add-ins, and celebrating two years since the release of an iOS adaptation of the company’s venerable e-mail client. The new add-ins feature allows users to integrate with third-party apps such as Trello, Evernote, and more directly from email messages in their Outlook inbox. Microsoft has announced partnerships with Evernote, GIPHY, Nimble, Trello, and Smartsheet for an initial set of Outlook plug-ins, and has indicated that they are producing several of their own add-ins available for the platform as well, with Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Translator available out of the gate, and “many more” promised to follow. The new add-ins for Outlook on iOS complement the versions already available for Outlook on Windows and Mac and on the web, extending their functionality to iPhone and iPad users. The new add-in features are available for Office 365 today, and Microsoft indicates that they’re “rolling out gradually” to Outlook.com users.
IBM and United Airlines have announced a new collaboration to develop a new suite of iOS business applications to help drive the airline’s digital transformation, as part of IBM’s MobileFirst partnership with Apple. United Airlines currently has more than 50,000 iOS devices being used by its front-line employees, and this new collaboration will see IBM developing a set of both market-ready and custom iOS apps for improving a number of aspects of United Airlines’ customer-facing operations, such as providing flight attendants and gate personnel readily available access to customer travel data at their fingertips without being tied to a fixed workstation or podium position.