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Apple adds transit directions for Boston, Sydney

Apple has quietly added Boston and Sydney, Australia to its list of cities where transit directions are supported in Apple Maps. The expansion solves a problem for some Australian users who were left without access to transit directions after Apple shut down the popular HopStop transit directions app earlier this month. HopStop covered cities in Russia, Israel and Australia that Apple Maps has yet to expand into with transit directions. Note: Though support has officially been added, not all users are seeing the feature as of yet. We searched both cities and no transit directions appeared to be available at the time of this writing.

Apple rolls out app thinning in iOS 9.0.2

Apple has fixed the iOS 9 issue that held up the release of its new app thinning feature. Users running iOS 9.0.2 or later will now receive device-specific versions of downloaded apps, provided the app’s developer has made such a download available. By tailoring app downloads to individual devices, developers can provide users with a variant containing only the features and capabilities that function on each device, minimizing the amount of space an app requires. How many developers have created device-specific variants of their apps so far is still unclear.

Adobe releases Photoshop Fix, Capture CC apps for iOS

After dropping its Photoshop Touch app in May to focus on smaller, more specific apps, Adobe has rolled out its Photoshop Fix and Capture CC apps for iOS, giving users two new free tools for photo manipulation. Photoshop Fix, pictured above left, provides a slimmed-down version of Adobe’s flagship program aimed at providing the tools users most frequently want when retouching their pictures. Basic brightening, sharpening and cropping functions are here alongside more transformative options for blending, reshaping and smoothing. All Fix edits are saved in layers within a PSD file that can be exported to Creative Cloud and opened in other Adobe programs. Capture CC, pictured above right, is a little less helpful to the causal user, designed to extract color themes, vector graphics and brush textures from images to be exported to other Adobe programs for use within other projects. Both apps require a free account with Adobe to use.

New Philips Hue Bridge supports HomeKit, Siri

The new HomeKit-enabled Hue Bridge ($60) that Philips has been teasing for months is now available. The upgraded Bridge 2.0 allows users to control all existing and future Hue bulbs and lamps using Siri, courtesy of the updated Hue app. Siri functionality can be turned on in Settings once the app is downloaded, allowing Hue owners to issue voice commands to alter a room’s lighting, change the temperature on their thermostat, or lock their doors. Users can save various configurations like “wake mode” or “night mode” for routine use, but HomeKit integration will also provide for making fine adjustments on the fly, allowing a user to tell Siri to dim a particular light to 30 percent, for example. Upgrading to the new bridge allows existing Hue users to control up to 50 bulbs, but new users can opt for a starter kit ($200) that includes the new bridge and three A19 Hue bulbs.

Apple pulls app that documented US drone strikes

Apple has pulled an app that documented U.S. military drone strikes, saying it violated the company’s app guidelines by containing “excessively crude or objectionable content,” Gawker reports. Metadata+ was developed by Intercept editor Josh Begley as a companion app to the Twitter account @Dronestream, which publicizes American drone attacks based on information from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Starting in 2012, Apple rejected the app five times under the name Dronestream for being “not useful or entertaining enough” before finally accepting the app once its name was changed to Metadata+ in 2014. Over the weekend, users were informed through a push notification that the app had been pulled. The move has drawn the ire of critics who point out that an app reporting the news is being banned as offensive, and this isn’t the first time the arbitrary nature of Apple’s app guidelines has come under fire as censorship. Just last week the company sparked concerns when it rejected Ferguson Firsthand, an app that documented various accounts of the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and presented them in a 3D environment. Apple hasn’t commented on the story.

Google Maps gets Apple Watch support

Google has released an update to Google Maps adding support for getting directions using the Apple Watch. This latest update allows users to route to home or work directly from the wearable device, or view any other directions that have been plotted using the app on the iPhone. In addition to Apple Watch support, the Google Maps iOS update also allows users to compare ETAs across driving, transit, walking and biking routes, and call businesses and get directions directly from a list of places in search results.

Apple updates privacy policies for iOS 9, releases new security white paper

Apple has updated its privacy policy to cover newer aspects of iOS 9, including sections breaking down security measures within specific apps like News, Apple Music and public transit directions in Maps. Apple says while News uses information about the stories a user is reading to serve up ads, reading activity information isn’t shared with other Apple services and is linked only to a News-specific identifier that can be reset at any time by clearing the app’s history. Recommendations within News are generated locally on a user’s device, not sent to Apple. To get Apple Music features like Radio, For You and Connect to reflect a user’s musical tastes, Apple collects activity information spelled out in the app’s individual privacy policy, but again, the company claims the songs a user streams aren’t shared with any other service for advertising purposes.

Google launches Google Keep for iOS

Google has released an official Google Keep iOS app for its Google Keep note-taking service. Although Google launched Google Keep for Android more than two years ago, it was one of the few Google services that didn’t seem to be making it onto the iOS platform. Although Keep was available through a web browser, and some third-party apps appeared attempting to provide web wrappers, none of them provides the same seamless experience that Android users enjoyed.

Apple posts XcodeGhost Q&A, lists affected apps

Apple has posted a Q&A on XcodeGhost, the counterfeit software development kit that was used to create malicious apps that were able to be released on the App Store. As expected, the Q&A emphasizes that the problem was created by developers downloading iOS software development tools from third-party sites, rather than Apple’s, but also interestingly notes that OS X protections that Apple has put in place — such as Gatekeeper — had to be “deliberately disabled by the developer for something like XcodeGhost to successfully install.” The Q&A also notes that Apple has no reason to believe that the code was ever actually used to do anything malicious, or that any personally identifiable information could have been transmitted, and that it “did not have the ability to request customer credentials to gain iCloud and other service passwords” as some other reports had suggested.

iPad Pro users will have to pay to use Microsoft Office

If iPad Pro users want to use Microsoft’s Office suite, they’re going to have to pay for an Office 365 subscription. In a March blog post, Microsoft VP Kirk Koenigsbauer said the company uses screen size to “delineate between professional and personal use,” allowing devices with screens smaller than 10.1 inches to use a limited version of its productivity software for free. Last November Microsoft made Word, Excel and Powerpoint apps capable of basic editing available for free on iOS devices, but the iPad Pro’s 12.9-inch display makes it the first iOS device to fall outside of the bounds Microsoft sets for free use. The distinction applies to Android and Windows tablets as well, with Microsoft referring to devices with bigger displays as “a ‘pro’ category tablet that is used for design or presentations.” [via MacWorld]

Apple posts note to developers about validating Xcode (Updated)

In an e-mail to developers and a post on its website, Apple has laid out the proper process for downloading Xcode after hundreds of apps were found to be using a malware-laden version of the IDE. Apple states that Xcode should always be downloaded from the Mac App Store or the Apple Developer website and validated by Gatekeeper to ensure the downloaded software hasn’t been contaminated. For those wanting to test a version of Xcode they’ve already downloaded, Apple’s post provides the proper command to run on a Gatekeeper-enabled computer to verify the version came from a legitimate source.

Update: In an interview with Chinese website Sina, Apple’s chief marketing executive Phil Schiller said the company is also making Xcode available for domestic download to Chinese developers to eliminate the need for third-party downloads. Schiller added that the company has found no known instances of apps affected by the malware transmiting customer data, but Apple still plans to warn users of the tainted apps to delete or update them. [via Reuters]

Apple giving automatic refunds for Peace ad blocker app

In a rare move, Apple is providing automatic refunds for users who bought the Peace ad blocker for iOS 9, according to developer Marco Arment. The app was pulled from the app store by Arment shortly after its launch, prompting more than 13,000 users to request refunds through the manual process. Arment said Apple contacted him to say the company was going to issue proactive refunds to everyone who bought the app, which he said “effectively never happens. When I decided to pull the app, I asked some Apple friends if this was even possible, and we all thought the same thing: iTunes billing works the way it works, period, and no special cases can be made.” In this instance, Apple seems to have made an exception, and users who purchased the app should see a refund notification from Apple within a few days. [via iMore]

XcodeGhost malware infects hundreds of iOS and OS X apps

Apple is trying to rid the App Store of hundreds of apps containing a malicious program called XcodeGhost, Reuters reports. The flaw was brought to Apple’s attention by several cybersecurity firms last week, including Palo Alto Networks, which claims that popular apps like Angry Birds 2 and WeChat have been built with a counterfeit version of Xcode downloaded from Chinese servers. The malware’s primary function is to collect information stored on devices and upload that data to remote servers, but it has also been found to prompt fake alerts to phish for passwords from users, hijack opening specific URLs, and read and write data into the user’s clipboard, allowing the malware to read a user’s password if it is copied from a password management tool.

Apple hasn’t commented on what iPhone and iPad users can do to determine which devices have been infected, but spokeswoman Christine Monaghan said, “We’ve removed the apps from the App Store that we know have been created with this counterfeit software. We are working with the developers to make sure they’re using the proper version of Xcode to rebuild their apps.” So far that list doesn’t include popular apps like Angry Birds 2 or WeChat, which are still available in the App Store as of Monday morning. Angry Birds maker Rovio has also made no mention if the XcodeGhost bug, making the app’s inclusion on the list even more baffling. Palo Alto Networks Director of Threat Intelligence Ryan Olson said the firm had uncovered no clear cases of data theft or harm as a result of the attack so far, but that the attack is significant because it proved the App Store’s security can be compromised by infecting the machines of software developers writing legitimate apps. The full list of affected apps published by Palo Alto Networks (including titles translated from Mandarin by Business Insider) is listed below:

Apple releases iMovie 2.2

As hinted at during last week’s event, Apple has released iMovie 2.2, an update designed primarily to bring 4K video editing support for the new iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPad Pro. In addition to 4K video, the update also introduces support for 1080p video at 60fps and adds 3D Touch interactions for the new iPhone models. Several iPad enhancements have also been added, including a new user interface design for the iPad Pro, including a full-height media browser and 1080 HD viewer, support for editing shortcuts on external keyboards, improved Inspector controls, and redesigned Project Details and Video views. The new version also adds support for Slide Over and Split View along with a redesigned Audio Browser in the iMovie Extension for Photos.

Apple TV games must be playable with included remote

Games made for the new Apple TV must support the device’s included remote, according to the App Programming Guide for tvOS, as pointed out by developer Dustin Westphal in a recent tweet. Although the device will support third-party controllers, those controllers can’t be required to play a game. This represents a change — as recently as last week, Apple allowed developers to require an extended game controller. Apple’s guide also notes “tvOS games that support controllers must support the extended control layout,” and games that support that layout must be playable solely using one standalone controller. All controllers for tvOS games must also have a pause button. [via TouchArcade]

Report: Apple expanding mapping operations at R&D facility

Apple is expanding its mapping research operations at a facility in Sweden, according to Swedish site DiGITAL. Citing a report from Rapidus, the site claims that after acquiring Swedish mapping company C3 Technologies in 2011, Apple quietly kept working on C3’s 3D modeling method, based on combinations of images taken by airplanes and cars from different angles. The new story claims Apple has been further developing that technology out of a facility in Lund, Sweden since last November, recently ramping up hiring. Apple has doubled down on improving its maps in recent years, sending its own vans out to collect data and acquiring other companies — like mapping firm Broadmap in 2013 and GPS firm Coherent Navigation this May — in addition to adding its new Transit feature to the Maps app in the upcoming iOS 9 release. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple shutting down HopStop app in October

In a banner message to users on its website, HopStop announced it will no longer be available in October, as Apple said it will be shutting down the popular transit directions app, according to 9to5Mac. Apple acquired HopStop in 2013 in an effort to improve its own transit directions in Apple Maps, and with those improvements coming online when iOS 9 launches on Sept. 16, Apple is shutting down HopStop’s app. The plan will leave some users in the lurch, as the transit feature in Apple Maps currently supports far fewer cities than the HopStop app. Apple is reportedly working quickly to close that gap — aiming to expand to cities like Boston and Tokyo, Japan by next year — and already provides transit directions for many areas outside those listed on it website, but in the meantime HopStop’s exit could leave users in countries like Russia, Israel and Australia without a working solution.

Apple News ad restrictions angering media companies

Irate media company executives are complaining that the Apple News app to be released with iOS 9 next week is too restrictive on advertising content, the New York Post reports. The company has placed unconventional restrictions on ad formats and requires strict approval hurdles for ad campaigns, leading one unnamed senior news executive to say, “[Apple News is] giving us some great ways to distribute our product, but they’re not giving us a lot of ways to monetize it.” Popular tools like real-time bidding for ad placements aren’t supported yet, and Apple has refused to accommodate Google’s Doubleclick, one of the most popular tools for placing and tracking online ads. Apple’s requirement that the company be allowed to approve every ad campaign within 48 hours’ notice and refusal to run pre-roll video ads without direct vetting has also made the process “very difficult,” according to another news executive. While publishers like CNN, Vox Media and Time Inc. have agreed to make most of their content available on the new app, others with strong paid subscription models like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal are reportedly restricting Apple News to a few dozen stories a day. Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Media player app Plex coming to Apple TV

Popular media streaming app Plex is coming to Apple TV, according to a report from IT World. Plex co-founder Scott Olechowski confirmed that the company is awaiting tvOS developer beta information to work on adapting the app to the new platform. The app — which organizes video, music and photos on a computer and allows them to be streamed to media players, smart TVs and mobile devices — is available on iOS, but has only been accessible on Apple TV through a software hack. While Olechowski declined to give a timeline for Plex’s debut on Apple TV, he said there is no question that it will be possible to run a fully loaded version of the app on the new platform. “Our goal is to enable people to enjoy Plex on the hardware platforms of their choice, and there is no doubt this will be a top platform for us,” he said.

Pokémon, Niantic, and Nintendo announce Pokémon GO coming to iOS

The Pokémon Company, Ingress developer Niantic, and Nintendo have announced that they are collaborating on the release of Pokémon GO, a new location-based iOS game set in the Pokémon universe. Trainers will use their iPhone GPS to explore real-world locations to catch, trade, and battle with each other in their search for Pokémon. The game director of the original Pokémon video game series, Junichi Masuda, will also be contributing to the project, ensuring that the new Pokémon GO app remains true to the original Pokémon experience while at the same time branching out into new types of gameplay and tying into the main Pokémon series. Nintendo will also be developing and selling a separate Bluetooth device called Pokémon GO Plus that will alert users to nearby events with flashes and vibrations, such as Pokémon in their vicinity, and allow them to catch Pokémon with the press of a button without having to reach for their iPhone. Pokémon GO is expected to debut as a free download on the App Store in 2016.

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