Netflix is now allowing customers to download certain content through their iOS app for offline viewing. Not everything is available for download—with even the Netflix original season of “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” not making the cut yet—but fan favorites like “Stranger Things,” “Narcos,” and “Orange Is the New Black” are among the early offerings, along with a number of films. Movies and shows available for offline viewing will have a “download” button on the details page, and video can be downloaded in standard or high quality, depending on how much space you want to use on your device.
Sony has announced the launch of an updated PlayStation Vue app that adds Apple TV support, bringing the gaming network’s streaming video service to users of Apple’s set-top box. In addition to providing access to viewing PlayStation Vue content, the app also includes unique features such as cloud DVR capabilities and simultaneous streaming, while maintaining the standard look and feel of the PlayStation Vue service with Siri Remote support. Existing PlayStation Vue users can simply download the app onto their Apple TV, link their subscription and start streaming right away, while new users can sign up for a plan through the PlayStation Vue website (an in-app purchase option does not appear to be available).
Apple is planning to reduce its portion of fees for streaming video service subscriptions sold via the App Store, Bloomberg reports, a move that appears to be aimed at encouraging tighter integration streaming video apps on the iOS and Apple TV platforms. This is the second big move in Apple’s attempts to adjust its in-app subscription pricing models, after the company announced earlier this year that developers would see their share increase for every customer subscription that is retained beyond the first year. With this reported change, Apple will be giving streaming video apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO access to the better deal — reducing Apple’s revenue share to 15 percent — right out of the gate in the first year, provided they integrate with Apple’s forthcoming TV app.
Nintendo has announced that Super Mario Run will go on sale in the U.S. and several other regions on December 15. The game can be downloaded for free, giving players a chance to try out the three game modes. For those who want to keep playing, a one-time $10 payment will unlock unlimited access to all game three modes. In the new game, Mario continues to run on his own as a user performs single finger taps to make him “jump over obstacles, avoid enemies, pull off stylish moves, collect coins and reach the flagpole to complete courses.” For anyone who wants to view simulated gameplay or pre-register for the game, Nintendo has created a special website.
Apple has released iBooks StoryTime for U.S. Apple TV users, an interactive spoken-word books app for kids. iBooks StoryTime includes a small selection of handpicks children’s titles with Read-Aloud narration and colourful illustrations that allows children to view and listen to stories on the Apple TV. The Siri Remote can be used to swipe between pages, and parents can turn off Read-Aloud narration to read the story to their children themselves. Additional Read-Aloud books can be purchased using the iBooks app on iPhone, iPad, or Mac, and books purchased by all family members will automatically appear in the iBooks StoryTime library on the Apple TV.
Apple is handing off ad sales for its News app to NBCUniversal, Recode reports. Publishers can still sell their own ads and keep 100 percent of the profit generated, but NBCUniversal will now be selling the remaining ad space. Publishers will get 70 percent of the revenue from those ads sales, just like they’re currently getting under the existing arrangement with Apple. Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal’s head of sales, said the company is creating a new “dedicated sales group” for the app. Earlier this year Apple pulled the plug on its lackluster iAd service after not being able to find a reasonable way to use customer data while still maintaining privacy.
Google has released an improved version of its Gmail app for iOS, finally adding the popular “undo send” feature. Users will now have a five-second window to take back a message if they immediately realize that message wasn’t complete (or wasn’t going where they intended). The update also provides the ability to archive or delete messages with a swipe and improves searches by providing instant results and spelling suggestions. The Gmail app is available on the App Store.
Photo: The New York Times
Hundreds of fake retail apps aimed at deceiving holiday shoppers have begun appearing on the App Store, The New York Times reports. Counterfeit apps branded with recognizable store names like Dollar General, Nordstrom, Zappos and many others have popped up in the last few weeks, and while most of the junk apps just run pop-up ads when they’re opened, some have asked for Facebook logins or credit card information that could expose customers to obvious security issues. A careful look at many of the apps will reveal red flags, such as “menus written in butchered English, no reviews and no history of previous versions.”
Vine co-founders Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll have released Hype, a new social video app that allows users to broadcast live interactive video. Followers can be notified instantly when a broadcast begins, and can comment and interact with the broadcast, and users can add photos, videos, music, and animations to spice up their videos. A replay feature allows users to make their broadcasts available for later viewing, and Hype broadcasts can be easily shared on Twitter. Broadcasters can also feature comments from followers, add themed backgrounds, and present videos and pictures in slideshow form. Rather than being a new Vine app, however, Hype appears to be more in line to compete with Twitter’s Periscope app and Facebook’s integrated Facebook Live feature.
An app designed to alert residents of New York City to crimes being committed has been pulled from the App Store, The Guardian reports. In a blog post about launching the Vigilante app, parent company Sp0n said it monitors crimes reported to 911 and alerts nearby users so they can get to safety or film crimes as they unfold. But the app didn’t last long on the App Store, with Apple citing concerns about its content, according to the app’s creator. While Sp0n claims “the closed system excludes the community while the open system informs and empowers citizens,” it’s easy to see how encouraging average citizens to get involved in investigating or stopping suspected crimes could be problematic. Apple declined to comment on why it removed the app, but a Sp0n spokeswoman said, “The team is working with Apple to resolve the issue and they are confident the app will be made available in the near future. Vigilante will introduce an Android version of the app in the upcoming weeks with plans to expand in additional cities later this year.”
In an announcement on its developer website, Apple confirmed that it is now allowing developers to send a limited number of promo codes out from iTunes Connect to give away in-app purchases to select users. Developers can now send up to 100 promo codes for any single in-app purchase item, and up to 1,000 promo codes total per app. The move is aimed at allowing “press and influencers” to gain free access to items and features that are usually behind an app’s paywall.
CBS has decided to turn the mobile game Candy Crush Saga into a game show, Deadline reports. CBS hasn’t released an initial air date or announced a host, but the show has been in development for two years and will feature players attempting to match colorful candies in groups of three or more while defeating obstacles to make it through more than 2,000 levels. Developed by the same people who brought the obstacle-course hit Wipeout to ABC, Candy Crush will feature “teams of two people [using] their wits and physical agility to compete on enormous, interactive game boards featuring next generation technology to conquer Candy Crush and be crowned the champions.” While Candy Crush Saga isn’t as popular as was it years ago, the game can still be found on Apple’s Top Charts, under free games.
Following Nintendo’s lead, Sony is planning to launch more than five mobile games for iOS by March 2018, CNBC reports. As previously reported, the games will be produced by Sony’s ForwardWorks subsidiary and released first in Japan and other Asian markets where the company has seen lagging console sales. Sony hasn’t elaborated on which games will be coming first, but Serkan Toto, CEO of Japanese gaming consultant and advisory group Kantan Games, warned against looking for the company to replicate the early success of titles like Pokémon GO. “Sony doesn’t have the same power as the Nintendo IP. There is nothing that comes even close to Mario,” Toto said.
Apple has removed popular API documentation browser Dash from the App Store, claiming that an account linked to the app’s parent company Kapeli engaged in App Store review manipulation. In a statement to The Loop, Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr said almost 1,000 fraudulent reviews were discovered across the 2 accounts and 25 apps associated with Kapeli. Who posted the reviews and which apps received those reviews is still unclear. “Warning was given in advance of the termination and attempts were made to resolve the issue with the developer but they were unsuccessful,” Neumayr said. “We will terminate developer accounts for ratings and review fraud, including actions designed to hurt other developers.”
The Phoneys sticker app for iMessage has landed its creator in a serious conundrum after Apple called him with demands that he change it or face its removal from the iMessage app store. In a post on Medium, Adam Howell explains he built the sticker pack—which allows users to paste a convincing-looking iMessage bubble over a friend’s message to make it look like they said something they didn’t—with every expectation that it wouldn’t make it through the approval process. Once it did, people took notice, and with a little publicity, it shot to the top of the Top Paid list on the iMessage store.
Apple has sent out an email to registered developers announcing the debut of search ads in the App Store. Apple SVP Phil Schiller announced earlier this year that search ads would be coming to the App Store, however provided few additional details at the time beyond saying that Apple was giving careful consideration on the best way to implement ads in a customer-friendly manner. Search Ads will allow developers to easily create tailored ads to promote their apps at the top of App Store search results, with basic ads created automatically using metadata and imagery from the developer’s app and automatic matching of ads to relevant searches in the App Store. Advanced features will allow developers to target their ads to iPhone or iPad users, adds their own keywords, specify a target demographic for ads, and schedule campaigns to appear only during certain time periods. Apple has published a new set of pages at searchads.apple.com where developers can find out more information on the new service and sign up to receive a $100 credit toward their first campaign.
Apple is making a big push to turn HealthKit into a diagnostic tool, Bloomberg reports. The app currently collects fitness data from a user’s devices, but people familiar with Apple’s plans said the company has scores of health-care experts building improved software to analyze and understand the implication’s of patient information. The team is also working on new apps for the Apple Watch, including one that tracks sleep patterns and another that gauges fitness levels by measuring the time it takes a user’s heart rate to fall from peak to resting levels.
Google has brought its new Allo messaging app to iOS, making an effort to pack as much functionality as possible into the messenger so that users don’t have to leave it to get outside information. The main selling feature is integration with Google’s other services, integrating search and calendar functions into the chat to give users the ability to look up information and make plans without toggling between multiple apps. The app includes a preview edition of the Google Assistant as well, giving users the ability to type @google to ask for help to find an address, look up a dinner location or find and share a YouTube video, all within the conversation in real time.
Twitter has released the anticipated Apple TV version of its popular social networking app, following reports last month that it was in talks with the NFL to live-stream Thursday-night football games on the big screen. The new Twitter app for the Apple TV goes beyond NFL streaming, however, providing a live Bloomberg Markets channel which can be viewed while accompanied by Tweets, along with Twitter Moments and Top Vines and Top Periscopes. Notably, the app does not provide any access to a user’s own timeline or messages, and reports indicate that the NFL Thursday Night Football feed being used by Twitter is being supplied by CBS.
Apple has updated its suite of iWork apps — Pages, Numbers, and Keynote — for iOS 10, adding beta support for real-time collaboration with other iWork users. With the new feature, users can edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in real-time across the iWork applications on iOS, macOS, and iCloud.com. Documents can be shared publicly or only with specific people. You can view who else is currently editing, and view their cursors in real-time as they’re editing. The apps also gain a new format pane for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, wide color gamut image support, support for older iWork ‘05 documents, improved downloading on-demand, and enhanced keyboard and navigation shortcuts. Additionally, a new Keynote Live feature in Keynote allows users to broadcast a slideshow to Mac, iPad, iPhone, and iCloud.com users, and the Apple Pencil can now be used to highlight when presenting from an iPad Pro.