As expected, Apple has released the final “GM” versions of iOS 10, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10 to registered developers in advance of their final release, scheduled for Sept. 13. Barring any significant problems, these final developer releases are normally identical to the versions that are ultimately released to the public, and are listed in the Software Updates scenes simply as the base versions (e.g. “iOS 10”) with full final release notes and no “beta” designation. Notably, iOS 10 on Apple’s Developer Download Site is listed as “iOS 10.0.1” and includes a build number of 14A403. watchOS 3 has a build number of 14S326 and tvOS 10 is 14T330 — these numbers should be identical to the final versions released next week, so as usual, developers installing the GM seeds will not need to install the final public release.
During today’s fall Apple Event, CEO Tim Cook provided an update on the state of the App Store, highlighting that the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are now the most popular gaming devices in the world, and he used the opportunity to segue into an announcement that Nintendo will finally be bringing the venerable Mario to the iPhone. Cook handed over the stage to the “father of Mario,” Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto, to expand on the announcement, revealing a brand new mobile-optimized game, “Super Mario Run,” that will be coming to the iPhone. It’s designed exclusively for mobile, one-handed play.
Apple is moving ahead with some more of the App Store changes promised back in June, with an email sent to developers today announcing new auto-renewable subscription capabilities and advising that they can now begin getting their apps and games ready for the new subscription model. As Apple’s developer page on Offering Subscriptions explains, auto-renewable subscriptions can now be offered on all Apple platforms and in all app categories, including games, to provide users with access to content or services on an ongoing basis, and automatically renew until a user chooses to cancel. Developers will be able to allow users to sign up for subscriptions with free trial periods, subject to the normal subscription durations, and will also be able to offer upgrades, downgrades, and crossgrades to subscriptions, all controlled via Apple’s in-app purchase APIs.
In an email sent to registered developers, Apple today announced that as of Sept. 7 it will begin “an ongoing process of evaluating apps” and removing any apps that “no longer function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines, or are outdated” with a goal of improving the quality of apps in the App Store and making it easier for users to find apps which meet their needs. The announcement notes that the review will cut across all categories on the App Store, and developers of apps that don’t meet the criteria will be contacted to be given a 30-day window to make any necessary changes in order for their app to remain on the App Store. Apps that are completely non-functional — that is, those that crash on launch — will be removed immediately. Apps that are removed will only be taken down from the App Store’s catalog, and users who have already downloaded a removed app will be able to continue using it and even take advantage of in-app purchases.
Instagram’s latest update to its iOS app adds the ability to pinch-to-zoom on photos and videos, a feature long requested by iPhone users. The improvement allows users to get a closer look at images and videos, but notably, snaps back to the original size instantly when released. The updated app also makes changes to the Stories feature, providing better options for taking photos and videos in the dark by adding a low-light button that will appear when the camera detects darkness.
While Siri is the usual public focus of Apple’s artificial intelligence endeavors, a new Backchannel story points out that much of the behavior iPhone users notice in their device is also powered by the company’s increasing push to improve its AI. When the iPhone guesses which apps you’ll want to use next when you swipe your screen, that’s Apple’s AI at work, but the device also lashes together pieces of information from several places to provide a more complete picture. Machine learning helps Apple devices do everything from extending battery life between charges to identifying a caller who isn’t in its contact list by referencing emails. It’s also responsible for the iPad Pro knowing the difference between the Apple Pencil’s touch and the palm being dragged alongside it while a user is drawing, accepting the Pencil’s input while rejecting the palm’s. “If this doesn’t work rock solid, this is not a good piece of paper for me to write on anymore — and Pencil is not a good product,” said senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi. “If you love your Pencil, thank machine learning.”
The Nike+ Running app has gotten a total facelift and a new name with version 5.0.0. Now called Nike+ Run Club, the app provides plenty of new options for runners, including the ability to create coaching plans that adapt to their schedule and progress. Post-run sharing options add a social aspect and allow runners to compete with their friends by hash-tagging runs.
In an expansive interview with the Washington Post, Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at Apple’s plans for the future, touching on artificial intelligence and augmented reality. While Cook dodged questions on the company’s car project, he was bullish on artificial intelligence’s ability to transform the dwindling cell phone market in the near future, renewing the company’s focus on things that will help users in their daily lives. Touting Apple’s own efforts and those of Uber and Lyft to integrate car-hailing services into Siri, he said the company opening up the personal assistant to third-party developers has unlocked a lot of potential. “Third-party developers are writing tons of those that will be available to the public in the fall,” Cook said of the integrations. “And that’s how we’re broadening Siri in a huge way.”
Months after winning its bid to live-stream Thursday night NFL games, Twitter is in talks to bring its app to Apple TV, The New York Times reports. Apple was reportedly interested in the March bidding war over the rights to stream the games, but didn’t end up entering the race against rivals like Amazon, Google and Yahoo. A deal with Twitter would potentially let Apple gain access anyway, allowing millions of Apple TV users to watch the live broadcasts, according to two people briefed on the discussions. Whether the Apple TV app would be mostly identical to the company’s iOS app or a stripped down version (similar to what Adobe did with its Lightroom viewer) is unclear. Both Apple and Twitter declined to comment.
Hulu is moving to an all-subscription model, ditching the ad-supported service that has let viewers watch free TV episodes since it launched nine years ago, Variety reports. Hulu’s free service will be phased out over the next few weeks, with an expanded distribution deal with Yahoo filling that void. The new Yahoo View site will offer the five most recent episodes of shows from ABC, NBC and Fox eight days after they air alongside other network shows and day-after full clips, all on a free, ad-supported basis. After handing off the free side of its service, Hulu will ratchet up its competition with Netflix and Amazon Prime as it prepares to launch a live TV service sometime in 2017, offering linear channels from its parent companies that include local TV stations.
In an interview with Fast Company, Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue admitted that the company’s embarrassment over its dismal Maps rollout directly led to its offering of public betas today. When the Maps app debuted in 2012 with bridges plunging into rivers, shopping malls marked as hospitals, and airport runways labeled as navigable roads, Apple went into crisis mode. “We had completely underestimated the product, the complexity of it. All the roads are known, come on! All the restaurants are known, there’s Yelp and OpenTable, they have all the addresses,” Cue said. “The mail arrives. FedEx arrives. You know, how hard is this?”
Almost nine months following its initial beta release on the Google Play Store, Apple’s Apple Music app for Android devices has officially dropped the “beta” tag with an update that appeared late yesterday. Although the app remained in beta status up until now, Apple continued to make improvements to the Apple Music experience on Android, adding support for a home screen widget for controlling playback, allowing the ability to save music to SD card storage, and support for Music Videos and purchasing of Family Plan subscriptions from within the app. In addition to removing the beta status, the latest update also adds equalizer settings and “a variety of performance, playback, and stability improvements.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook announced via Twitter yesterday that July set a new record for App Store sales, with the “highest-ever monthly billings and money paid to developers.” In a subsequent tweet, Cook went on to say that App Store developers have now collectively earned a total of over $50 billion over the past eight years that the App Store has been in operation.
July was a record-breaker for the @AppStore! Highest-ever monthly billings and money paid to developers.— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) August 3, 2016
Last month during the company’s Q3 2016 conference call, Cook revealed that the App Store had reached its highest revenue ever, and that Apple also set a new record for the average amount spent per customer on the App Store. During the same call, Cook went on to say that Apple expects its services revenue to continue to grow, which will be driven largely by App Sales, and that he expects it to be the size of a Fortune 100 company by itself by this time next year.
Apple has a redesigned version of its Apple Store app in the works that will feature personalized recommendations, according to a new report by Bloomberg. The updated app, expected to roll out within the new two weeks, will likely include a “For You” section that features suggested products based on a user’s prior purchasing history. While the report incorrectly indicates that there are separate Apple Store apps for the iPhone and iPad that will be merged in the new version, it is possible that Apple may be taking steps to provide a more unified interface design in the app on both the iPad and iPhone.
Parkopedia announced today that it will be providing information on available parking to Apple Maps. The new capability will give Apple Maps users information about parking garages and lots in 75 countries across North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America, with the option to click through to Parkopedia’s website and iOS app to make reservations or see detailed information like pricing, user reviews and real-time space availability. Apple hasn’t made a formal announcement about the arrangement, and as of this writing we haven’t been able to find any added functionality for information about local parking options, so it’s unclear at this point whether this will be functionality that Parkopedia and Apple will be working together to build into the core Maps experience, or Parkopedia announcing plans to take advantage of the new third-party Maps extensions capabilities coming in iOS 10.
Update: We reached out to Parkopedia for clarification, and they clarified that this is in fact a back-end partnership with Apple to integrate Parkopeida into the core Apple Maps app. A spokesperson indicated that Apple has been slowly integrating the functionality into Apple Maps since March, but today’s announcement represents a worldwide rollout with full functionality taking place now. Searching for parking in Apple Maps should begin showing Parkopedia content across parking lot icons which will appear on Apple Maps and include data such as location, payment type, number of spaces, and more. Apple Maps users will also be able to book parking spaces by clicking on a booking link, and in the future will be able to search for lots by price to find the cheapest lots.
Microsoft has released its own third-party iOS app intended to replace Apple’s own Camera app with a simpler-to-use interface that’s more reliant on artificial intelligence. Microsoft Pix takes all control out of the user’s hands, automatically seeking out faces, tweaking settings on certain areas of photos, stabilizing videos and creating short, looped video clips when it detects motion in a photo. The app captures a burst of frames with every shutter click, then selects the three “best” shots and deletes the rest, favoring automation over total control. The app also allows users to see the difference before and after it applied all of its automatic improvements, but notably doesn’t provide an option to save the pre-altered photo. Microsoft Pix is available for free on the App Store.
Adobe has created a new version of its Lightroom app for Apple TV, with abilities limited to viewing photos edited and saved in the corresponding iOS and desktop apps. Whereas those versions are geared toward editing, the Apple TV version includes a simplified interface that only supports browsing through collections. Photos and their applied edits saved on the Creative Cloud can be synced automatically for viewing on the bigger screen. The download is free on the tvOS app store, but won’t work without the $10 a month Creative Cloud subscription.
Apple has put out an open casting call for app developers looking to be featured in the company’s original series “Planet of the Apps.” Announced earlier this year, the show will follow developers as they receive hands-on guidance from experts in the tech community, funding from top venture capitalists, and featured placement in the App Store. Online applications are being accepted until August 26, and applicants must agree to have “an iOS, macOS, tvOS, or watchOS app in a beta or functional state by October 21.” The first season will film in Los Angeles from late this year into early 2017, so those hoping to be on the show will need to be available for that period.
Pokémon GO getting full access to Google Accounts of some iOS users (Update: Niantic working on fix)
While Pokémon GO has become a major phenomenon in less than a week, researcher Adam Reeve has noted a major flaw in the game, calling Pokémon GO “a huge security risk.” Pokémon GO players have two ways to sign on to the game — through a Google Account, or a Pokémon Trainer Club account. The latter is having major problems, so most users are signing on using their Google Account. And as Reeve points out, for some iOS users, Pokémon GO has been granted full access of that account. This means that the game and/or developer could conceivably read and send email from your account, delete emails and Google Drive documents, and much, much more.
Nintendo’s Pokémon GO is already a full-fledged phenomenon, sending players out into the world to hunt down Pokémon in augmented reality and pushing the company’s stock up by 25 percent, The Wall Street Journal reports. Less than a day after its release, the game became the most downloaded and highest-grossing app in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand — the only countries where it’s currently available. People familiar with plans for the game said it will likely be launching in Europe, Japan and other Asian countries “within a few days.” Data firm SimilarWeb said the game is on pace to surpass Twitter among Android users in the U.S. in its number of daily active users, and it has even prompted safety warnings from police who warn users to be aware of their surroundings while hunting down Pokémon.