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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.

India ups pressure on Apple to approve anti-spam app

Apple’s refusal to approve India’s anti-spam app could cause problems for the company’s efforts to expand its sales in the country, Bloomberg reports. Apple has thus far refused to make the Telecom Regulatory Authority’s app — which blocks annoying unsolicited calls and texts — available on the App Store, drawing the ire of the TRAI’s leadership. Apple doesn’t permit third-party apps to access SMS details and call records, which are necessary for the app to function, but the TRAi is currently taking public comments ahead of drafting new policies about how much control users have over their personal information.

Plex adds location support for personal photo libraries

Plex has enhanced its photo library features to include support for geotagged photos, allowing users to see their photos organized by the location where they were taken — provided, of course, they were captured with a GPS-enabled device. With the latest version of Plex Media Server, location data is now read from photos, allowing users to see the locations where photos were taken and automatically grouping them into virtual albums based on location. Related photos and albums can also now be automatically discovered based on location, so users can see what other photos in their library were taken in the same place, regardless of when they were taken.

Amazon Prime tvOS app may not launch until after Apple’s September event

According to Recode, Amazon’s Apple TV app may not be ready in time for it to debut alongside the new 4K Apple TV next month. Although Apple only said it would be coming “later this year” when it announced Amazon Prime for the tvOS platform, many assumed it would be logical for Amazon to have the app ready to rollout for September’s event, particularly with Apple expected to debut a new Apple TV. The latest information from Recode, included as a footnote to an article discussing today’s earlier news about 4K content, indicates simply that its sources “say the app may not be live in time for next month’s product launch,” although it’s unclear if this actually represents any change to Amazon’s plans for launching the Amazon Prime tvOS app.

Apple expands ‘App Development with Swift’ curriculum to over 30 Community Colleges

Apple has announced that, starting this fall, its App Development with Swift curriculum will be offering in over 30 community colleges through the United States. Designed by engineers and educators at Apple, the full-year course is geared toward students with no programming experience, taking them to the point of building fully-functional apps of their own design for the macOS and iOS platforms.

Promise Technology releases Apollo Cloud 2 Duo personal cloud system

For those who enjoy the benefits of the cloud but are more than a little wary of trusting their data to third-parties, Promise Technology has released the Apollo cloud storage device to combine the benefits of the cloud combined with keeping data safely inside the home. The Apollo Cloud 2 Duo provides 8TB of space split between two surveillance-class hard drives that can be accessed remotely with a dedicated app, all with no subscription fees. Up to 40 members can have access to the system and time-limited links can also provide access to files with outside users. Photos uploaded to the system can be sorted using facial recognition and/or location, making it simpler to find photos of specific people or places. The device is available now for $449 and is compatible with iOS and macOS operating systems.

Group of Chinese developers launch antitrust complaint over App Store policies

A group of Chinese developers has filed a complaint against Apple alleging that the company has violated antitrust regulations in that country, Reuters reports. The group consisting of 28 developers is being represented by the Beijing-Based law firm Dare & Sure, and is accusing Apple of charging excessive fees and arbitrarily removing apps from the Chinese App Store without explanation. According to Lin Wei, an attorney at the firm, “During its localization process Apple has run into several antitrust issues ... after an initial investigation we consulted a number of enterprises and got a very strong response.” The law firm extends an invitation to developers in April to participate in the lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday with China’s two anti-trust regulators — the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and the National Development and Reform Commission. The law firm did not provide any details on which developers are involved in the complaint.

Unreal Engine updated with basic ARKit support

The latest version of Unreal Engine includes some basic support for Apple’s new ARKit, which the accompanying blog post calls “an early, experimental version.” The plug-in is based on the work done by director Peter Jackson’s Wingnut AR studio and will allow developers to get familiar with the new features before official support begins with the release of iOS 11 in the fall. Unreal Engine has been a popular platform for game creation since it was introduced in 1998, and we first made available on iOS in September 2010. [via AppleInsider]

Plex expands Live TV support, time shifting to Apple TV

After making its Live TV function available in beta on iOS in June, Plex has taken it out of beta and expanded Live TV support to the Apple TV as well, according to an update from the company. The company’s Plex DVR feature for recording and watching programs is also officially out of beta on iOS, but according to a company spokesperson users will still need to use the iOS, web, or Android apps to schedule recordings, after which they can be viewed on the Apple TV in the same way as any other media item in the Plex library.

Apple dumps hundreds of binary trading apps after fraud complaints

After an intervention by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, Apple has pulled more than 300 binary trading apps from the App Store, Bloomberg reports. The ASIC made the request to both Apple and Google after uncovering numerous cases of fraud where unlicensed products beyond the reach of regulators prevented consumers from withdrawing cash from their accounts or losing money on the live app after making “winning trades 9 times out of 10 in the demonstration app.” Apple recently updated its developer guidelines to prohibit new apps that facilitate binary options trading, but didn’t comment on discussions with the ASIC. Of the 330 that have been verified as removed, the ASIC said “80 percent had no warnings about the risks inherent in trading.”

Apple pulls VPN apps from China’s App Store over new government rules

Creators of VPN apps like ExpressVPN have been notified that their apps have been removed from China’s App Store. China greatly restricts the content its citizens have access to on the internet, making VPN services popular for users trying to circumvent what has come to be called The Great Firewall. Apple told developers their apps has been removed because they included “content that is illegal in China,” adding in a statement to 9to5Mac that the Chinese MIIT requires VPN providers to obtain a special license before they’re allowed to be sold. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple Store app now supports payments via Touch ID

Apple has updated its Apple Store app for iOS, adding the ability to use Touch ID to authorize payments and make changes to account information. Although Apple originally added Touch ID support to the Apple Store app back in 2015, the feature was originally limited to viewing orders, accessing EasyPay receipts, and making online reservations at an Apple Store, and still required the user to enter their Apple ID password to access stored payment information or actually place orders.

Tim Hortons launches Mobile Order and Pay, with Apple Pay support

Iconic Canadian fast food chain Tim Hortons has launched its new Mobile Order and Pay feature, following several months of testing that began this past spring. A new Tim Hortons app has been release on the App Store for the new service, replacing the older “TimmyMe” app that was previously used to manage Tim Hortons store card payments. The new app will allow existing users of the TimmyMe app to seamlessly transfer their balances to the new app, which will allow users to place orders from their nearest Tim Hortons and pay for them directly in the app. Users can log into the app using Facebook, Google, or an e-mail address, and payment can be made from an existing Tim Hortons card or directly from any supported in-app payment method using Apple Pay. Although Mobile Order and Pay is far from new — Starbucks debuted the feature in 2015 in the U.S., bringing it to Canada early last year — Tim Hortons eclipses Starbucks in Canada, making the feature a huge boon to Canadian iPhone users, particularly in light of its support for making direct payments via Apple Pay rather than via an intermediary store card. [via iPhone in Canada]

Google to merge Play Music and YouTube Red into a unified service

Google is planning on merging its Google Play Music streaming service with its YouTube Red to create a single unified streaming offering, The Verge reports. The news came during a panel session for the New Music Seminar conference in New York, where YouTube music chief Lyor Cohen stated that Google needed to merge the two services so that customers would better understand their offerings, as well as bringing in new subscribers. Although Google Play Music and YouTube Red have long offered a unified subscription plan — users with a paid subscription to one service automatically gain access to the other — Cohen acknowledges that marketing the two services separately has been confusing and prevented YouTube Red from being more popular with music users. Cohen didn’t comment on what would happen in terms of the individual iOS apps for the services, but it seems likely that there will remain at least some distinction between the two apps.

Adobe accidentally reveals Nimbus photo editing app for Mac

After announcing its Nimbus photo editing app last year, Adobe accidentally made it available to some Creative Cloud users, MacG reports. Those who downloaded it discovered that Nimbus users will have 1TB of cloud storage, much more than the 20GB offered to current Creative Cloud subscribers, ostensibly to make sure that there’s enough space for users to truly make use of cloud-based photo editing that stores both photos and edits for use from multiple devices. The app’s search function also automatically recognizes the content of images, reducing the need to manually tag every photo. Adobe has admitted that it released the development version to “a small group of Creative Cloud customers” and has since taken the app down with no word on when it will be publicly available. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple adds new ‘Customer Support’ role for App Developers

Apple has added a new “Customer Support” role to the iTunes Connect portal for app developers, allowing companies to provide designated representatives with the ability to respond to customer reviews on the App Store. The new role complements the change earlier this year that allowed app developers to begin responding to reviews on the App Store. Previously, only members of the developer’s team with the Legal, Admin, App Manager, or Marketer roles had the ability to respond to customer reviews; this new more specific role allows developers to more easily delegate this task to other members of their team without the need to provide unnecessary extra privileges.

Google Play Music gains CarPlay support

Google’s Play Music app has quietly gained CarPlay support in a recent update, allowing users of the streaming music service to more easily access and play content from their dashboard in a CarPlay-enabled vehicle. The addition of CarPlay support isn’t listed in Google Play Music’s release notes, so it’s unclear when the feature actually became available, but the addition of the feature was discovered and reported on reddit yesterday. Although Apple generally restricts what apps can be made available via the CarPlay interface — mapping apps seem to be excluded, for instance — support for audio apps has been available to third-party developers since CarPlay first debuted, and even Spotify, which competes directly with Apple Music, has had a place on the CarPlay dashboard since almost the very beginning, suggesting that the late addition of CarPlay support for Play Music has more to do with Google dragging its feet than any restrictions on Apple’s part. [via MacRumors]

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