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Google releases ‘Google Tasks’ for iOS

Google has released Google Tasks, the company’s first standalone app for natively managing tasks on an iPhone. The new app is part of a major redesign of Gmail that began rolling out today, and although the new app appears to be pretty basic, it promises to bring some order to the chaos that has been task management in Google’s apps — previously a hodge-podge between “reminders” that could be set in Google Inbox, Google Calendar, and Google Keep, and an older simple web-based “Tasks” apple that existed primarily within the Gmail web interface.

Apple’s new App Store design can boost featured apps by up to 800 percent

Apple’s App Store redesign in iOS 11 is paying off for developers, with a new study from Sensor Tower (via TechCrunch) revealing that apps landing in the featured spots on the new App Store can see a boost in downloads by as much as 800 percent. The study analyzed data from Sept. 2017 to the present finding that the median U.S. iPhone downloads for apps that appeared in the “Game of the Day” spot increased by 802 percent during the week following the feature, as compared to the week prior. Apps landing in “App of the Day” saw a slightly lower but still significant boost of 685 percent. Increases were somewhat lower for apps simply featured in App Store Stories or App Lists, but still showed a demonstrable increase.

Foodspotting shutting down

Popular foodie app Foodspotting has rather abruptly announced that it will be shutting down entirely early next month. The plans were announced on the company’s website and in a “version 6.0” update to the Foodspotting app, which included release notes saying “All good things must come to an end – even Foodspotting” and pointing users to the company’s web site for more information.

Agile Tortoise releases Drafts 5

Agile Tortoise has released Drafts 5, a full rewrite of the company’s very popular quick note taking app for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. The new version expands on the classic Drafts 4 experience with improved editing tools, tappable task marks for creating shopping lists and other quick tasks, and deeper customizability through app-wide themes and custom icons. The new version also provides better ways to organize information in Drafts, such as tagging, workspaces, next-previous navigation, and a new “Focus Mode,” and improves capture with SiriKit integration, allowing notes to be created in Drafts right from a “Hey Siri” command. Action and scripting capabilities have also been significantly enhanced, allowing for more advanced workflows. A full list of what’s new is available on the company’s website.

Upcoming Twitter API changes will break third-party apps

Upcoming API changes to Twitter will limit important functionality in third-party Twitter apps, according to a new post by a coalition of developers at Apps of a Feather. Back in December, Twitter announced plans to discontinue “streaming services” as of June 19, 2018, which as the developers point out will break both push notifications and automatic timeline refresh in third-party Twitter apps such as Talon, Tweetbot, Tweetings, and Twitterrific.

Scanbot 7 adds advanced filters, overhauled design

Scanbot has released a major update to its eponymous iOS scanning app, with the new Scanbot 7 delivering a significant redesign along with sophisticated new filters based on machine learning algorithms and search and performance improvements. The new filters provide advanced document processing that result in extremely sharp text, truer whites, and more vivid colors as well as adding the ability for users to now tweak filer settings such as contrast, brightness, and saturation. The redesigned user interface also provides a more intuitive experience along with expanded themes including high contrast theme for visually impaired users, along with a legacy theme for those who preferred the old style. New search capabilities now allow scans to quickly be located by tag, location, or date, and other speed improvements include keyboard-based text annotations and a reworked document processing engine that produces faster results and more lightweight PDFs. Scanbot has also partnered with DATEV eG, a cloud service aimed at professionals such as tax advisors, financial auditors, and lawyers to help those using Scanbot in a business context easily upload documents for further processing and sharing. Scanbot 7 is available from the App Store as a free download, with an in-app “Pro” upgrade providing access to advanced features such as OCR, PDF editing and encryption, iCloud support, passcode protection, and themes; a “Lite” option is also now available via in-app purchase that provides basic in-document PDF search and annotation for a lower price.

GarageBand gets new “Toy Box” educational sound pack, TrueDepth facial control

Following today’s education event in Chicago, Apple has released an update to GarageBand for iOS unveiling a free new education-themed sound pack, “Toy Box”, along with support for controlling musical effects using the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X.  The new sound pack includes over 400 Apple Loops, three drum kits, ten keyboard instruments, and five Live Loop grids, focused on education with sounds such as animals, vehicles, and counting to ten in different languages. TrueDepth camera support allows iPhone X users to control effects like guitar wah and synth parameters using facial expressions, and the update also adds a Modern Wah guitar stompbox effect.

Apple updates Clips with new Selfie Scenes, education-themed posters

Apple has released a content update to its Clips app, adding a collection of new styles, fonts, colors, layouts, stickers, and more. Specifically, the update adds four new Live Title styles, for new animated labels, nine new animated stickers, eleven new Apple-designed posters, including education-themed blackboard and notebook designs in line with the education event Apple held earlier today. iPhone X users also gain two new Disney-Pixar Selfie Scenes from “Finding Dory” and “Monsters, Inc.” In addition to the new content, the update also fixes some minor bugs and polishes up some of the design elements.

Microsoft rolls out iPad support with Edge iOS app update

Microsoft has released an update to its Edge iOS app that finally includes full support for the iPad. While iPad users have technically been able use the iPhone version of Edge on their device, the experience was less than ideal since the app was scaled up in an unappealing way and limited to portrait mode. The update doesn’t seem to include the ability to use the Apple Pencil for markups even though the Edge browser currently lets Microsoft tablet users mark up websites with a stylus.

QR code exploit could use iOS Camera app to misdirect users to malicious sites

Infosec has discovered a potential exploit using the QR code-reading capabilities of the iOS Camera app that would allow one URL to be displayed while directing users to another hidden link. The simple code tweak allows those generating a QR code to set their link to display a safe-looking or familiar URL in the iOS confirmation box that pops up when a QR code is scanned, only to deliver the user to another URL entirely that was placed later in the code. The issue has been reported to Apple but hasn’t been fixed yet.

Apple expected to launch new low-cost iPads at next week’s education event

Apple is expected to unveil at least one new low-cost iPad model at next week’s education event, Bloomberg reports. The event, announced last week, is being held on Tuesday at Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago, and is the first time Apple has held an education-related event since 2012 when it unveiled textbooks and the iBooks Author tool. According to Mark Gurman, Apple will be showing off a new version of its entry-level iPad, presumably an update to the fifth-generation iPad which debuted around this time last year starting at the previously unheard of price of $329. While there has been speculation that Apple may lower the price even further this year or introduce Apple Pencil support to the lower-end iPad, Gurman doesn’t provide any insight into that.

Apple Store app gains new ‘Sessions’ section

Apple has released a significant update to its Apple Store app, promising users “a more personal, relevant in-store experience” with recommendations for products and in-store training sessions. The highlight of the update is a new “Sessions” tab which allows users to more easily find daily sessions be held in local Apple Stores on creative subjects such as photography and music, and sessions can be filtered based on the products that a user already owns. Users can also now view stock levels for their favorite products, and scan accessories using their iPhone in-store to get more information on a product, including information such as device compatibility. New order management features also allow users to view invoices, edit shipping details and custom engraving messages, and cancel individual items in an order — all capabilities that previously required a visit to Apple’s website.

YouTube becomes Top Grossing iPhone app

YouTube has just become the top-grossing app in the App Store, according to a new report by TechCrunch. The milestone was first spotted by the App Store marketing intelligence firm Sensor Tower. While YouTube’s position has been rising on the Top Grossing charts for a few years now — ever since the launch of its paid YouTube Red subscription service — this is the first time it has risen above third place. The month after YouTube Red’s launch, the YouTube iPhone app jumped to sixth place, at which point it was estimated to be bringing in between $100,000 and $300,000 per day from the iPhone version alone. Sensor Tower notes that the U.S. is the only country where YouTube’s iPhone app has ever hit the top spot, the U.S. is one of only five countries where the YouTube Red service is available (the others being Australia, Korea, Mexico, and New Zealand).

Apple changes policy to force developers to go through App Review to edit URLs, ‘What’s New’ text

According to a policy update from Apple, developers will soon no longer be able to change support URLs and the text in the “What’s New” section on the App Store without going through the company’s App Review process again, 9to5Mac reports. Changes to that metadata will now require developers to submit an entirely new app update where up until now the app support URL, marketing URL and update notes were able to be edited at any time. The changes go into effect starting next month.

Democrats interested in Apple’s download records on Trump administration officials

A memo released last week by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee could put Congress on a legal collision course with Apple if Democrats take back the House of Representatives, The Intercept reports. On page 20 of the document protesting the Republican decision to end the HIC’s Russian collusion inquiry, the Democrats proposed the committee go after Apple’s “records reflecting downloaded encrypted messaging apps for certain key individuals” of interest in the investigation. Encrypted communications app WhatsApp is another target of the proposed inquiry, but the Democrats won’t have subpoena power over any of the companies in question if they can’t manage to flip the House in November.

Google Maps adds wheelchair-accessible transit navigation

Google has added support for finding “wheelchair accessible” transit routes to its Google Maps iOS app in order to make getting around easier for users with mobility needs. Users can filter transit directions to only include wheelchair-accessible routes by going into the “Options” section where a new “Wheelchair Accessible” route type will appear alongside the options for best route, fewest transfers, and least walking. Google says the feature is “rolling out in major metropolitan transit centers around the world” starting with London, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Boston, and Sydney, however this initial list may not be entirely comprehensive as it also appears to already be available in Toronto as well.

France taking action against Apple for ‘abusive commercial practices’ over app developer agreements

The French government is taking legal action against Apple and Google over “abusive commercial practices” related to app developers, Bloomberg reports. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire took issue with the strict controls Apple imposes on things like pricing, data use and the terms of contracts. “All that is unacceptable and it’s not the economy that we want,” Le Maire said. “They can’t treat our startups and developers the way they do.”

Apple Maps adds bike sharing locations

Apple has quietly added bike-sharing data to Apple Maps, TechCrunch reports. Through a partnership with Ito World, the data includes locations for bike-sharing points from several different providers in over 175 cities across 36 countries. Users will be able to search for the nearest stations in any supported city simply by typing “bike sharing” or the name of the specific service, such as “BIXI.” While Apple Maps has had limited bike-sharing data previously, this new partnership provides a much larger data set than Apple was able to put together in-house, and allows Apple to benefit from Ito World’s data as more companies are added in the future.

Amazon brings Alexa calling and messaging features to the iPad

Amazon has expanded access to its Alexa calling and messaging options to the iPad and other tablets, Engadget reports. The feature already allowed Echo owners to communicate with iPhone users with the Alexa app installed, but today’s change opens it up to the iPad as well. The Alexa app can even call out from the iPad to any smartphone or tablet in the device’s contact list, provided it’s running the Alexa app, too — so the update isn’t limited to communicating with those with Amazon devices.

Apple acquires digital magazine subscription service Texture

Apple has announced a deal to acquire digital magazine subscription service Texture from Next Issue Media LLC. The service charges users a flat monthly subscription fee and delivers unlimited access to more than 200 magazines, including People, Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated, National Geographic, and The New Yorker. Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but Apple’s services head Eddy Cue said the company is “committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users.”

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