- June 12, 2014
- Apps + Games
Developer Steven Troughton-Smith, who noted days ago that iOS 8 contained code for two apps to run side-by-side, has posted a YouTube video of the feature in action. Apparently manipulated using a two-finger gesture, an app is resized to create room for another app on the right side of the screen. It’s unclear if that same gesture will be used if or when the feature is eventually introduced.
The previous report noted that side-by-side apps could be run at 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4 size. It’s believed the feature will only work on iPad, possibly even just the iPad Air.
- June 12, 2014
- Apps + Games
Amazon has introduced Prime Music, a new unlimited, ad-free streaming music service featuring more than a million songs and “hundreds of playlists.” It comes free with an Amazon Prime subscription ($99), but is otherwise inaccessible. Users can download songs and playlists for offline playback, as well. Amazon’s Cloud Player iOS app has now become the Amazon Music app in version 3.0.0, and adds Prime Music functionality.
At this point, we ran into a few issues with the app, as some Prime users were having trouble getting access. Also, it appears that only primary users of a Prime account can access the service using their own password — any shared, secondary users on someone else’s Prime account will have to use those primary credentials to access the service, as is the case with Amazon Instant Video. We’ve reached out to Amazon for comment, and will update if they respond.
Update: Amazon confirmed that only the primary account associated with a Prime membership can access Prime Music.
Parrot has announced availability and pricing for its two new MiniDrone products that originally debuted at CES 2014. Rolling Spider ($100) is an ultra-compact flying drone that can be used indoors or outside. It includes removable wheels that allow it to roll from floor to ceiling.
Jumping Sumo ($160) is the company’s first ground-based toy—a two-wheeled rover that can drive along, zig-zag and make zero radius turns and even jump up to 80cm in height. An integrated camera allows the user to see the world from Jumping Sumo’s perspective as it roams around. Both new devices will be available in August 2014, along with an updated version of the company’s FreeFlight app.
Update: We had a chance to meet with Parrot and get some more information and demos of both new MiniDrones at their media event in Toronto last night. The Rolling Spider will be available in three colours—blue, red, and white—and will include a set of twelve stickers for customization. The camera on the bottom of Rolling Spider can take snapshots that are stored in the drone’s 1GB on-board flash memory and can be transferred off via a micro-USB connection. Jumping Sumo will be available in black/red, white/black and khaki/yellow colour combinations and includes a set of three stickers to personalize its style or mood. Both devices work with the same rechargeable Lithium Polymer 550 mAH battery packs, so packs can be interchanged; Rolling Spider will get 6-8 minutes of use from a single charge while Jumping Sumo can roll about for up to 20 minutes on a full battery.
- June 11, 2014
As expected, the European Commission today officially announced an investigation into Apple’s tax practices in Ireland. The EU is checking whether the deal, along with separate deals made by Starbucks and Fiat, qualifies as illegal state aid, Bloomberg reports. “Apple pays every euro of every tax that we owe,” Apple responded in an e-mailed statement. “We have received no selective treatment from Irish officials. Apple is subject to the same tax laws as scores of other international companies doing business in Ireland.” Ireland’s Finance Ministry is “confident” that no state aid rules were breached.
- June 11, 2014
Apple will begin producing displays for the new iPad Air this month, and other components for the device next month, Korean site ET News reports. The new device will reportedly feature an 8MP rear camera — a bump up from the current 5MP camera — and an improved processor, expected to be the A8 chip. It’s noted that the newest iPad Air will feature the same screen resolution and overall design as the previous Air. There’s no mention of Touch ID in the new report, though many expect Apple’s fingerprint scanner to be included. [via 9to5Mac]
- June 11, 2014
Another set of photos of Apple’s alleged 4.7” iPhone 6 have surfaced, this time on the Weibo account of dreamerjimmy. Photos of both the front and back of the device are seen, shot next to an iPhone 5s for comparison.
The back of the device appears to match previous rear shell leaks, including a leak from a few days ago. It appears the front of the device is very close to matching a front panel leak, as well, although the camera hole seems to be a bit larger in this newest photo. [via 9to5Mac]
- June 10, 2014
The European Commission will launch a formal investigation into Apple’s tax practices in Ireland, RTE reports. It’s expected that the commission will officially announce the investigation tomorrow. Apple CEO Tim Cook testified on Apple’s tax policies to a U.S. Senate subcommittee last year. Recently, a March report accused the company of moving $8.9 billion in untaxed profits from Australia to Ireland.
- June 10, 2014
ESPN Radio and a number of local NPR stations are now available on iTunes Radio. The stations are notably live streaming stations, rather than customizable iTunes Radio stations.
NPR launched its first iTunes Radio station, NPR News and Culture, in March. A search for “NPR” within iTunes Radio today turned up 41 local stations, though there may be more available. [via Apple Insider]
- June 10, 2014
Ad Age has a new comprehensive report on Apple’s shifting strategies in advertising and marketing, claiming the company is “madly building an internal agency that it’s telling recruits will eventually number 1,000.” The article starts with an anecdote about a pitch from Apple’s longtime ad agency partner TBWA/Media Arts Lab being spurned in favor of an Apple in-house ad. That’s by design, as Apple is reportedly creating more direct competitions between TBWA/MAL and its own internal agency “with ‘jump balls’ to mine the best creative ideas, a controversial tactic with outside agencies, let alone an internal one.” One source said Apple has always used such techniques, but they’ve become more obvious since Apple’s internal agency is now winning most of those “jump balls.” Apple is also inviting other agencies to make pitches on major projects.
While Apple has poached a few top advertising names — including a number of recruits from the noted Portland, Oregon-based ad firm Wieden & Kennedy — candidates still have concerns, including skepticism about the company’s creative direction. “I don’t feel that energy from Apple,” said a top agency exec who was approached by Apple. “The revolution has come and gone, and I’m not sure a job at Apple would be a creative opportunity. If I were going to go brand-side, there are a lot more interesting companies I’d rather work for, like Coke or Pepsi.” Another executive cited the high cost of living in Cupertino as an issue. The article adds a tremendous amount of background to a recent report noting Apple was now producing more ads in-house; the move wasn’t completely surprising considering Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller’s vocal displeasure with Media Arts Lab, as seen in January 2013 emails released in an April report.
- June 10, 2014
- Apps + Games
FIFA has updated its free FIFA Official App before the start of the World Cup this week. As one might expect, the updated app has more information about the World Cup, including the latest news, rosters, schedule, and information on the Brazilian stadiums and cities hosting the tournament. Another upcoming update that FIFA claims will come before the tournament kicks off — in the next few days — will give users a way to follow live game action and participate in “the biggest football conversation in history” with other users.
Amazon’s free Kindle app has updated to version 4.3, introducing the integration of Audible audiobooks. Customers who own the Kindle and Audible versions of a book can now listen to the audiobook from within the Kindle app. Users can switch back and forth between reading a Kindle book and listening to the book, or read and listen at the same time as the pages turn automatically. More than 45,000 Kindle/Audible book pairs are available. Additionally, the app now lets users download an entire collection of books at once.
iOS 8’s SpringBoard includes code to run two apps side-by-side, according to a tweet from developer Steven Troughton-Smith. He notes that the code anticipates that side-by-side apps will be run at 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4 size. While a previous report noted that Apple would add split-screen multitasking to iOS 8, Apple did not discuss the feature during its WWDC keynote.
So… just in case there was any doubt left… iOS 8’s SpringBoard has code to run two apps side-by-side. 1/4 size, 1/2 size, or 3/4 size— Steve T-S (@stroughtonsmith) June 9, 2014
Troughton-Smith noted in another tweet that side-by-side apps show up as one “screen” while switching through apps. It’s unclear if the feature will be activated upon iOS 8’s launch, or saved for a future release, such as iOS 8.1. Also uncertain is whether the feature will work on all iOS devices, just on iPads, or only on larger iPads.
Apple and the FDA discussed Apple’s interest in including medical sensors in mobile devices, according to a report from Apple Toolbox, which filed a Freedom of Information Act request to gain insight into Apple’s December meeting with the FDA. The response notes that “[w]ith the potential for more sensors on mobile devices, Apple believes there is the opportunity to do more with devices, and that there may be a moral obligation to do more.” It’s also explained that while sensors would not necessarily mean a device must be reviewed by the FDA, the FDA would likely regulate any software that uses those sensors for medical purposes.
A glucometer, which measures blood sugar level, was cited as a specific example — it would be regulated if the software was marketed toward diabetics, under the label of diagnostic software. If only used to monitor blood sugar for nutritional reasons, a glucometer could be unregulated. Apple also received guidance for Mobile Medical Apps, which was likely a stand-in name for the company’s now announced HealthKit. The FDA noted that “Apple will work closely with FDA as they develop future products.” It’s widely believed Apple will include biometric sensors in its upcoming iWatch.
Apple is now cracking down on apps that reward users for watching videos or sharing socially, according to TechCrunch. App developers are now reportedly receiving rejection notices as Apple cites sections 2.25 and 3.10 in its App Store Review Guidelines. Section 2.25 reads: “Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected, unless designed for a specific approved need (e.g. health management, aviation, accessibility, etc.) or which provide significant added value for a specific group of customers,” and section 3.1 reads: “Developers who attempt to manipulate or cheat the user reviews or chart ranking in the App Store with fake or paid reviews, or any other inappropriate methods will be removed from the iOS Developer Program.” The latter section suggests that Apple has become concerned about apps containing content that may influence the App Store’s charts.
One developer said his app was rejected even though it had already been released four times before, and the report claims the new rejections may also be applied retroactively. It will be interesting to see how many apps Apple will reject or pull based on these guidelines, especially considering that many popular apps have benefitted from such techniques for quite some time.
- June 9, 2014
Apple is hoping to find some “high-profile external candidates” in its search for a new VP of worldwide corporate communications, Re/Code reports. The company is looking to fill the position vacated by longtime PR chief Katie Cotton, whose retirement was announced last month. CEO Tim Cook is reportedly overseeing the search. The report claims Apple has strong internal candidates in Steve Dowling and Natalie Kerris, but notes that Cook is searching for someone who “could put a friendlier, more approachable face on Apple’s public relations efforts.”
As tweeted by Swiss programmer Frederic Jacobs on Sunday, iOS 8 will randomize a device’s MAC address while scanning for available Wi-Fi networks. Companies are currently able to use device-specific MAC addresses to
track the location of devices — for instance, MAC addresses allow retailers to recognize if a customer has been in the store before, though further personal information is not disclosed.
iOS 8 randomises the MAC address while scanning for WiFi networks. Hoping that this becomes an industry standard. pic.twitter.com/oGsZMtydUo— Frederic Jacobs (@FredericJacobs) June 8, 2014
A randomized MAC address would render such data useless to retailers. While Apple would seemingly be preventing marketers from being able to track devices, the move would likely put pressure on retailers to use iBeacon, Apple’s own indoor proximity system that could provide the same data to retailers. [via Quartz]
- June 9, 2014
It now appears as if the majority of the end pieces are made from the same metal as the middle piece, though it’s still unclear what material forms the D-shaped outlines. The new photos also include side views of the shell, which show the sleep/wake/power button moved to the side of the device, as anticipated. An interior structure image appears to be consistent with Apple parts.
- June 9, 2014
A Wall Street Journal profile of Beats Electronics co-founder and new Apple executive Dr. Dre says that the vaunted producer and rapper is a perfectionist, and “serves as Beats’ ‘cultural barometer’ of what is cool,” but uses a “mysterious process” and is “rarely seen at Beats headquarters.” In detailing the highlights of Dre’s career, the profile notes that Dre has released only two solo albums since 1992, with a third album called Detox long in gestation, as he focused on producing songs for other artists. While working with Beats, Dre’s “main obsession is perfecting the sound of the company’s signature high-end headphones,” but the “fitness-obsessed” producer also weighed in on advertising, fonts, and elements of the Beats Music streaming service, rapidly dismissing “corny” ideas and disregarding “artificial deadlines.” According to the article, Dre worked to keep the company’s ads focused on sound with an “insider message,” and resisted attempts to expand Beats’ appeal beyond its predominantly male, under 24-year-old core consumer. The WSJ notes that Dre’s seeming lack of productivity could be an issue for Apple, which has not commented on whether Dre and Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine will have employment contacts with the company.
A new report from TechCrunch purports to explain the absence of major improvements this year to Maps, Apple’s iOS and OS X competitor to Google Maps, blaming bad “planning, project management, and internal politics” for delays of features that were expected to debut at the Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC) last week. In March, 9to5Mac listed a collection of enhancements planned for Maps, including enhanced and more reliable point of interest data, a cleaner cartography design, and public transit directions, the latter depicted by the publication in rendered screenshots. None of these features was actually announced during WWDC; Apple instead briefly noted Maps improvements for Chinese users, and added an M7 processor-dependent indoor positioning feature.
According to two TechCrunch sources, Apple project managers improperly planned and failed to deliver the other intended improvements on time; one of the sources also suggested that “many developers left the company.” Apple has been purchasing mapping and potentially map-related companies for years, though it has rarely commented specifically on the acquisitions, and it’s unclear how many of the companies’ employees have remained at Apple thereafter. Soon after the widely-panned debut of Maps, Apple Senior VP Eddy Cue was given responsibility for fixing the app, though improvements have been mostly under-the-radar since then.
- June 6, 2014
- Site News
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- June 6, 2014
- Apps + Games
This week, we’ll be taking a look at three recent soccer games that have hit the App Store in time for the World Cup, which starts next week. First up are Final Kick (free) and the laboriously titled Penalty Cup Soccer 2014 — World Edition: Football Champion of Brazil (free), both games that focus on penalty shootouts. The other is Pixel Cup Soccer ($2), a full arcade-style soccer game.
Final Kick from Ivanovich Games claims to be “the best penalty shootout.” Players switch back and forth between the shooter and goalie. Shots are taken — and saves are made — by swiping across the screen. The graphics are very impressive for a free game. In-app purchases are available, but they’re not needed to enjoy the game. There are, however, annoying features such as the game making you watch a video ad to continue playing its offline tournaments. It’s not entirely unexpected from a free game.