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Apple drops Skype from China’s App Store at government’s request

Apple has confirmed that Skype — one of the last foreign-operated methods for online communication inside China — has been pulled from the App Store at the request of the Chinese government, The New York Times reports. Chinese users have been complaining they were suddenly unable to use Apple’s systems to pay for Skype services. “We have been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of voice over internet protocol apps do not comply with local law. Therefore these apps have been removed from the app store in China,” Apple said in a short e-mailed statement. Skype is still technically functional in the country, but its removal from the App Store could leave it destined to join apps like WhatsApp, Gmail, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Telegram and Line that have been rendered unusable by government filters. The Chinese government has also insisted on the removal of other foreign apps, like that of The New York Times.

Apple to help design anti-spam app to end stalemate with Indian regulators

After refusing to allow India’s anti-spam app onto the App Store over privacy concerns, Apple is going to provide “limited help” to the Indian government to develop a suitable substitute for iOS, Reuters reports. Apple’s refusal to approve the Telecom Regulatory Authority’s app has drawn the ire of the TRAI at a very inconvenient time for the company, which is trying to expand its presence in India’s massive smartphone market. Google’s Android system already supports the app, which accesses the device’s SMS details and call records to enable users to report numbers and block numbers that have been reported. But Apple doesn’t provide third-party apps the ability to access those details, so the government’s app won’t function even though iOS does feature other apps that identify and block calls through other means.

Apple updates Clips app with iPhone X exclusive ‘Scenes’ feature

Apple has released a major update to its Clips app for the iPhone X, adding a new Scenes feature that takes advantage of the TrueDepth camera to place you in animated, 360-degree scenes with matching selfie filters to transform your appearance. Some of the scenes include the Millennium Falcon with a Star Wars style holo effect filter, a sketchbook scene with a filter that provides a charcoal drawing effect, and a scene that puts you into an 8-bit video game setting. Since Scenes require the TrueDepth camera, they’re only available to iPhone X users, however Clips 2.0 adds plenty of additional enhancements for users of other iPhone models as well, including a completely redesigned user interface, a collection of new stickers, posters, and titles, featuring Star Wars characters and Mickey and Friends along with retro Apple-designed stickers, four new artistic effects, a selection of new filters from the Camera app, and 21 new royalty-free soundtracks. Clips also now sync via iCloud so you can view and edit your work from any of your iOS devices.

Animoji Karaoke videos produced on iPhone X take Twitter by storm

With last week’s release of the iPhone X, the much-ridiculed Animoji got a serious boost when Fast Company’s Harry McCracken invented a new use for the feature in the form of Animoji Karaoke. The simple premise — lip-sync a song as one of the Animoji avatars using the iPhone X’s 3D camera — immediately took off, even spawning an @animojikaraoke Twitter page. McCracken even has some tips on how to hack the experience to get the highest quality videos, subverting the usual 10-second limit to Animoji recordings by using iOS 11’s screen-recording feature and bringing two videos into iMovie on a Mac to create a duet. He even took it to a new level by using iMovie to add in a high quality version of his songs, but the iPhone X’s microphone will do just fine for those who want to belt out a tune with the face of a cartoon without too much fuss. Let us know if you’ve tried to make your own Animoji Karaoke or found any epic productions in the comments below.

YouTube TV rolling out Apple TV app ‘in the coming weeks’

After launching its own cable subscription service a few months ago, YouTube will soon be rolling out a YouTube TV app for Apple TV, The Verge reports. The package includes network broadcasters ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox alongside major cable networks like ESPN, MSNBC and Fox News, and the new TV app will include some things the mobile version doesn’t, like an in-depth program guide to see what’s in in the next few hours the the ability to browse a transparent sidebar of other channels while keeping on the show you’re watching.

Apple encourages developers to test apps on iPhone X ahead of launch

Apple has posted an update to its developer forum encouraging developers to test their apps in an iPhone X simulator ahead of the device’s launch. The company is touting its accompanying App Store redesign and asking developers to submit new screenshots geared toward the iPhone X’s display size along with updated metadata to include on the new product pages. Testing the apps is also expected to expose issues with the Super Retina display and adaptive layouts, but we’ll have to wait until users actually get their hands on the new devices before we’ll know if there are any problems with non-updated apps.

Nintendo to debut Animal Crossing game for iOS next month

Nintendo is set to debut its next iOS offering — Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp — next month, according to the company’s website. The game lets players take the role of campsite manager, allowing them to craft a campsite to appeal to animals from the surrounding area. Players can also do all the things you’d usually do in a camping environment, like catch bugs, pick fruit or go fishing. The app will be free to download but have in-app purchases, and users can sign up here to be notified when it’s available to download.

Dispute over payments keeps Facebook’s new subscription service off Apple devices

Facebook is putting up paywalls around some content on its site and driving users to publisher pages to buy subscriptions, but a dispute over the revenue generated is keeping the tool off Apple devices, Recode reports. In discussions that have gone on for months, Apple has demanded as much as 30 percent of the subscription revenue generated — in keeping with its typical cut of in-app subscriptions — where Facebook wants to leave all of the revenue with the publishers. The tool provides publishers with the option to allow users 10 free articles a month before throwing up a paywall around content or another method that only puts paywalls around individual articles, but because of Apple’s insistence that it be paid for any money collected through an iOS app, Facebook is launching the tool exclusively on Android devices in the meantime. Both Facebook and Apple declined to comment on the discussions, so it’s unclear how Facebook’s iOS app will handle the articles in question with no agreement in place.

iTunes U app update moves collections to Podcasts app, in line with iTunes changes

Apple has updated its iTunes U app to bring it in line with the recent changes to iTunes, migrating the collections features to the Podcasts app just like they were moved to the podcasts area within iTunes. Other than that, the app functions mostly the same as before, allowing users to view iTunes U courses and offering “performance improvements for accounts with a large number of courses.” Links to collections from within the iTunes U app will now open directly in the Podcasts app.

Apple TV expands search options in US, other countries gain networks and Apple Music support

Apple TV has added some new networks to its universal search, provided users have the network’s app installed. U.S. users can now search for movies and shows from BBC America, Classix, and Oxygen, while Canadian users have gained CBC, Classix, Treehouse, FXNOW Canada, and ICI Tou.tv. Sweden and Norway gain support for Viaplay, and Australian users will see searches include 9Now, SBS, and Tenplay. The company also extended support for Apple Music searches beyond the U.S. and Canada, adding Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K.

Cue talks Apple plans to bring more Indian content to Apple Music

During a tour of India that included meeting with Bollywood stars and the announcement of new Mac labs at KM Music Conservatories, Apple SVP Eddy Cue said the company has a big interest in bringing more Indian music to Apple Music and introducing it to the outside world, The Economic Times of India reports. Apple has been pushing to enter India’s market on multiple fronts, and Cue said Apple is working with new and existing artists to make sure customers of Indian descent both within India and around the world see their culture reflected in Apple’s content offerings. Cue was mum about rumors of Bollywood collaborations with the company’s fledgling video content division, but said, “Bollywood is as good at creating content as anybody else around the world. And I am sure we will do things here because it’s a great film and entertainment market.”

YouTube iOS app update allows sharing in iMessage; Nike app adds new workouts, Apple Watch options

YouTube has updated its iOS app to allow for quick and easy sharing of videos directly through iMessage. Tapping the share button under a video in the YouTube app now allows the video to be sent in Messages, and the recipient can play the video directly in Messages without exiting the app. The Nike+ Run Club app also saw some improvements, adding Audio Guided Runs in both iOS and watchOS that pair specialized playlists with guidance from coaches and athletes. The app also activates a Cheers feature that encourages users to notify friends when they’re going out for a run and lets the friends send positive feedback. Perhaps most importantly, Apple Watch Series 3 users will now have access to elevation data even when running without their iPhone tethered to the watch. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple hiring editor to curate live sports content, developing AR technology for MLB

Apple is making a push into the sports world on multiple fronts, posting a job opening for a sports editor “to lead content curation and programming for the recently-announced live sports feature in the Apple TV app.” Unsurprisingly the post is looking for someone who lives and breathes sports of all kinds and has extensive experience in all aspects of the television business. The new live TV features coming down the pipe with tvOS 11 include on-screen notifications for games and all kinds of tracking abilities for fans, but direct deals with the sports leagues that are streaming the content will still be necessary for access to live events.

Super Mario Run new levels and characters, temporary price cut

After users complained about the high price and lack of updates to Super Mario Run, Nintendo will be releasing an update with a new playable character, new levels, new enemies and a “Remix 10” mode that challenges users to “play a set of 10 super-short sections from Super Mario Run’s existing levels in quick succession.” Rescuing Daisy in Remix 10 mode will unlock her as a playable character and give users access to her double-jump to help best difficult levels. The company will release the update Friday after last updating the game in March, and for the two weeks after the update the game will cost $5 instead of the usual $10 on the App Store.

Anki launches Overdrive: Fast & Furious Edition

Anki has launched Anki Overdrive: Fast & Furious Edition ($170), taking the company’s evolved battle-racing game to new levels by blending it with the adrenaline-fueled world of Fast & Furious. Players will be able to challenge Toretto crew A.I. characters, including Dom, Hobbs, Letty, and Tej, as well as battle against their friends and family in two film-inspired robotic supercars — Hobbs’ iconic and tough International MXT and Dom’s super-fast Ice Charger. The modular track pieces also get an upgrade in the new edition, with a new Power Zone track piece that triggers a massive “hack” as players drive through it. The new Fast & Furious Edition is compatible with the existing Anki Overdrive product family, including the already available roster of supercars and expansion kits. Be sure to check back for our full review of the new kit.

Ikea, Overstock.com, Game Insight, Strava and more launch ARKit apps

With the release of iOS 11, a series of companies are debuting their ARKit apps to the world. Ikea’s Ikea Place app — first revealed at WWDC — allows users to place models of Ikea furniture right in their room to see how it would look at home in real time, and a similar feature in Overstock.com’s app allows the placement of thousands of the site’s products in a similar fashion. SmartPicture Technologies’ PLNAR app will help users measure the dimensions of the room itself, providing digital measurements of any surface by mapping the room’s anchor points. Strava has used the framework to create Fitness AR, an app that lets users see the surroundings from their planned rides, runs and hikes plotted out on a 3D map that shows terrain and elevation. Game Insight’s My Country and Guns of Boom games are both adding new AR capabilities, allowing users a bird’s eye view of the game environments. These are just a few of the ARKit apps popping up so far, so let us know in the comments what you’d like to see or which new apps you find useful and entertaining.

TV app lands on Apple TV in new countries ahead of tvOS 11; Apple Pay Cash won’t launch with iOS 11

Apple’s TV app has started popping up on Apple TVs outside the US ahead of today’s tvOS 11 release, with users in Canada and Australia reporting they gained access overnight, although some said the app was present but not yet functioning in tvOS 10. Apple also claims that the TV app will arrive in France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the UK by the end of the year, but another feature put on display during last week’s Keynote won’t be making it out today. The Apple Pay Cash feature in iOS 11 and watchOS 4 won’t be coming until “this fall” according to Apple’s latest update. Once functional, the feature will allow users to send cash payments through Messages or command Siri to issue a payment from a credit or debit card stored in Wallet.

Apple defends new stricter Safari ad-tracking blockers

While Apple has taken heat from marketing groups for blocking cross-site tracking in Safari, the company doubled down on its commitment to user privacy and explained the move in comments to 9to5Mac. Safari has historically been tougher on third-party tracking than other browsers — it was the first to block third-party cookies by default — and the company said its Intelligent Tracking Prevention is the next step to keep user data from being misused. “Ad tracking technology has become so pervasive that it is possible for ad tracking companies to recreate the majority of a person’s web browsing history,” Apple said in its statement. “This information is collected without permission and is used for ad re-targeting, which is how ads follow people around the Internet.”

Apple gives developers new guidelines for apps using ARKit, Face ID

Apple has updated its App Store guidelines for developers looking to make use of the company’s new Face ID technology and ARKit framework, aiming to ensure that apps are providing a worthwhile experience rather than a single gimmick. In somewhat vague terms, Apple claims it will only approve ARKit-based apps that “provide rich and integrated augmented reality experiences,” likely meaning apps that feature the ability to place a single object into a situation or run a single animation won’t fit the bill. Apple also added in new privacy restrictions, explicitly prohibiting the mining of facial data to identify people, requiring that the use of facial recognition for authentication within the app use Local Authentication rather than ARKit technology, and forcing apps to provide an alternate method of authentication for users under 13.

Cozmo updates companion app to add new challenges, more depth to robot’s AI

Anki has released a major update to its Cozmo robot’s companion app — arriving later today — that adds new dimensions to what the toy can do, introducing a system of three basic needs that users can monitor and develop in each area to make the robot more adept. Where Cozmo previously had Daily Challenges that could be completed, each Cozmo now has three primary needs — Play, Energy and Tune-up — and will exhibit certain behaviors if any need isn’t being met. Playing games, performing tricks and seeing human faces all qualify as Play, and the device’s Power Cubes can be used in Play as well, in addition to filling out the Energy demand by “feeding” Cozmo. Tune-ups are exactly what they sound like, making sure the robot is in good enough working order to fulfill the Play and Energy requirements.

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