A number of possible changes to the App Store being explored by Apple in recent weeks include the possibility of implementing a Google-like “paid search” feature, Bloomberg reports. Among the possibilities being considered by a secret team at Cupertino would be a plan to charge developers a fee to have their apps more prominently displayed in search results for specific terms, similar to the business model used by Google. The effort, reportedly being spearheaded by former iAd chief Todd Teresi, would be intended to cash in on the increasingly large marketing budgets of major app developers, which have become significant sources of revenue for companies such as Facebook and Twitter. Teresi’s team is said to consist of about 100 Apple employees, including many engineers from the now-defunct iAd advertising group, suggesting that this strategy may mark a directional shift for that group into pursuing other advertising and marketing-related opportunities, after recent reports that the advertising service suffered at the hands of Apple’s strict customer privacy policies.
After coming to the iPhone a few months back, popular Mac email client Airmail has released its first iOS version that works with the iPad, complete with support for iOS 9 multitasking features Split View and Slide Over. The update adds new features that work on the iPhone as well, including custom shortcuts and support for Touch ID.
Apple has drawn the ire of the Reddit community after suddenly dropping popular third-party Reddit clients from the app store over their ‘not safe for work (NSFW)’ filters. Apple informed the creators of Narwhal, Antenna, Eggplant and BaconReader that their apps were removed from the app store for violating clause 18.2 of the App Review Guidelines, which prohibits apps from displaying “user generated content that is frequently pornographic.” Rick Harrison, co-creator of Narwhal, told MacStories it was odd that third-party Reddit apps were removed after being available for months but Reddit’s official app, which launched last week, wasn’t pulled despite Apple contacting Reddit over the same concerns. “I reached out to Reddit asking them if they knew anything, and they informed me that they did not request Apple to pull these apps, and they were also receiving issues from Apple about 18.2,” Harrison said. “I think that Apple did not pull their app because they are a big company and were recently featured. As shown time and time again, Apple does not really care whatsoever about indie developers. From taking 30 percent of barely any revenue to rejecting apps based on features that have been available for 18+ months.”
The Delhi High Court has directed Apple to stop using ‘Split View’ to describe its multitasking feature that allows users to run two apps side by side in iOS 9, The Economic Times reports. Vyooh, a vendor for Microsoft, developed a similar software in 2006 under the name Splitsview to allow users to work within multiple windows. The company filed an objection to Apple’s use of a similar name for a similar product, leading the court to rule that Apple cannot use the term ‘Split View’ on any of its products or services in India. Apple declined to comment, but is appealing the ruling.
Reddit has released an official iPhone app for its popular online service, allowing users to more easily access Reddit content while on the go. The app allows users to browse all of Reddit directly, search and discover new communities by topic or interest, submit comments, images, links, and posts, and access messages, comment replies, post replies, and mentions. The app also provides the ability to customize Reddit with themes, including a night theme, and see content in either compact or card view layouts. Reddit is also gifting three months of Reddit Gold, its premium membership program, to users who log in to the new mobile app during launch week.
The Apple News account on Twitter appears to be up and running, promoting stories as of last night. So far the feed has sent out a handful of sports and news items with links that direct users back to the Apple News app. Anyone clicking on story links from a device without Apple News or in a country where Apple News isn’t available will be redirected to the affiliate news provider’s site instead.
A newly discovered security flaw in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus allows users to bypass the lock screen and gain access to contacts and photos. The exploit only works on 3D Touch-equipped phones set to allow Siri access to Twitter, Contacts and Photos, but if all of those variables are in place, gaining access to a user’s photos is relatively easy.
If a Twitter search run through Siri yields a tweet that contains an email address, a 3D Touch gesture can then be used to call up the contextual menu with options to send mail to the address or add it to contacts. Choosing to add the address to contacts allows access to the phone’s existing contact list, and using the contact list’s option to add photos to a contact, the user can browse the phone’s photos without ever entering a passcode. To guard against the potential intrusion, users need only disable Siri’s Twitter integration under Settings > Twitter. [via Apple Insider]
Update: Apple has tweaked Siri to stop the personal assistant from allowing access to Twitter searches from a locked iPhone. A spokesman confirmed to the Washington Post that the company pushed out a fix to make Siri force users to unlock their phone before delivering Twitter search results. The update was handled on Apple’s on servers, so it won’t require any action from users.
STARZ has launched the STARZ Play app for iOS devices and Apple TV, offering a standalone subscription to cord cutters for $9 a month and free access to existing cable subscribers. The app allows up to four users to watch simultaneously, supports universal search through the Siri remote and is the first premium cable app to allow full download rights “for most titles.” Which titles are exempted isn’t clearly specified.
In honor of Opening Day in the MLB, Apple has rolled out some improvements to Siri’s baseball knowledge, but we’ve found there’s still a lot of room for improvement. The personal assistant is supposed to be able to provide more detailed statistics, including historical data going back to the beginning of baseball records, but simple questions like, “What was Ty Cobb’s best single-season batting average?” returned, “I don’t know who leads the league in batting average,” so she can’t even answer the question we didn’t ask, much less the one we did.
After releasing Miitomo in the Japanese App Store earlier this month, Nintendo announced it is bringing its first iOS app to the U.S. and several other countries starting Thursday. The free-to-play app revolves around creating custom Mii characters and sharing responses to questions like, “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?” and “If you were given ten grand to spend in one day, what would you do?” Answers are shared among friends, who can give responses a “heart” and reply with a picture or written comment.
Sony has announced plans to develop mobile games for the “smart device market” under a newly-formed subsidiary, ForwardWorks Corporation. The new mobile gaming arm will “leverage the intellectual property” of a number of PlayStation games and characters in developing gaming applications for the iOS and Android platforms, although it appears that it will be focusing these releases on the Japanese and Asian markets. While Sony seems to clearly be following the lead of Nintendo, which debuted its first game Miitomo in the Japanese App Store earlier this month, in contrast to Nintendo’s efforts, it appears ForwardWorks will be delivering “full-fledged game titles” for users to “casually enjoy” on their mobile devices. [via TechCrunch]
Google has been developing its own third-party keyboard for iOS that would incorporate the company’s search engine, The Verge reports. Sources said the keyboard has been in circulation among employees for months and is designed to boost the search traffic from Apple devices by providing one-button access to picture, GIF and traditional web searches. Like its Android counterpart, Google’s iOS keyboard also employs gesture-based typing, allowing users to drag their finger from one letter to the next and have Google guess their intended word.
A new Apple technical document shows that sponsored “native” ads which look like news stories are coming soon to your News app feed. The new ads “display directly in the content feeds, inline with News articles.” They’ll feature the same title, text excerpt and small image fields, with the only thing setting them apart from news content being the “Sponsored” tag at the bottom of the story. Apple says the new ads “are intended to blend in with their surroundings” and will be set to display in the same font used for news stories. The sponsor can include its name in the disclaimer at the bottom of the ad or opt out, leaving only the word “Sponsored” in the space below.
Microsoft has integrated Touch ID into the Outlook iOS app in its latest update. Version 2.2.2 of the email app allows users to require a fingerprint scan or device passcode to access their Outlook account. To enable or disable the feature, users must go to Settings under Preferences. Outlook is the first major iOS email app with Touch ID support.
Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller has pledged to look into complaints that contend certain Apple Store algorithms are broken. Schiller responded on Twitter after two developers sent him a screenshot illustrating how the company’s categories in Canada and other countries sort apps, piling apps with names beginning in a number at the top of the heap and stacking similarly-named apps together to push other legitimate apps out of the top spots. Screenshot++ developer Wesley Dyson told Schiller, “Rip-off apps should never be showcased by Apple,” which prompted Schiller’s response. [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has made it possible for Apple TV users to watch previews of the apps available for their device and has encouraged developers to upload app preview videos in a message sent out today. The 15 to 30 second videos are intended to showcase the features, functionality and user interface of an app or game and can be watched by selecting the “preview” button on an app’s product page. Since the feature was just opened to developers, we haven’t spotted any apps that feature a preview yet — not even Apple’s in-house products. Guidelines for recording and submitting previews are available on Apple’s developer site.
The Russian government is considering a bill that would increase taxes on a dozen categories of digital products and services offered by foreign companies like Apple, including ads, games, movies, marketplace transactions and cloud computing, Bloomberg reports. In a recent interview described as “peppered with expletives,” Russian Internet Czar German Klimenko said he is pushing to raise the taxes to level the playing field for Russian competitors, following the lead of other European countries. “When you buy an app from Google Play or the App Store anywhere in Europe, VAT is charged at the place of payment, but not here in our banana republic,” Klimenko said. The new bill proposes an 18 percent value-added tax on an estimated $3.9 billion in profits earned on digital media and services by Apple, Google and other foreign technology companies. Klimenko also railed against Apple’s compliance with U.S. sanctions on Russia after the country annexed Crimea, calling that decision “the point of no return.” Apple declined to comment on the proposed tax increase.
Apple has rejected an iOS version of the popular indie game The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth after deciding its content depicts “violence towards, or abuse of, children,” the game’s developer said on Twitter. The game, based loosely on the Old Testament story of Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac, revolves around the child protagonist’s efforts to escape the basement where he is being held by his mother. The console and platform versions of the game are rated Mature by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, but feature only cartoonish violence similar to that found in Limbo, another popular iOS title that had no trouble getting approved despite being a platformer where a child essentially dies over and over again. But promotional images for The Binding of Isaac show a child naked and weeping on the floor, and Nintendo initially rejected the game for the 3DS and Wii U over objections to “questionable religious content.”
Facebook has announced the rollout of its Live Video feature on the iPhone to all Facebook users in the U.S., with expansion to the rest of the world “in the coming weeks.” Originally introduced as a trial in early December, the Live Video feature allows users to broadcast in real-time to friends, family, or other Facebook users via the Facebook app, initiated as a status update. Users can write a quick description and choose the audience that they wish to share with before going live. During the broadcast, Live Video users will see the number of live viewers, names of friends who are watching, and a stream of comments presented in real-time. Once ended, live video broadcasts will be saved onto the user’s Timeline like any other video.