Apple has revealed plans to allow developers to respond to customer reviews on both the iOS and Mac App Stores as of the public release of iOS 10.3. The “What’s New in iOS” section of Apple’s Developer Documentation notes that developer responses will be posted “in a way that is available for all customers to see,” presumably allowing developers to counter negative reviews with official explanations. Little other information is given, such as whether customers will be able to respond in turn to comments from developers, or what other moderation processes may be implemented. Apple also notes a new API being introduced in iOS 10.3 will allow developers to more efficiently handle in-app review requests without having to take the user out of the app and send them to the App Store. A new option in the iTunes & App Store settings in iOS 10.3 will also allow users to opt out of being prompted for in-app ratings and reviews, although it’s likely this setting will only affect apps that are updated to use the new iOS 10.3 API for requesting reviews.
Following yesterday’s release of iOS 10.2.1 and tvOS 10.1.1, Apple has rolled out its first betas of iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2. Featuring a build number of 14E5230e, the iOS 10.3 beta adds Location and Play Sound for AirPods as part of the Find My iPhone feature, allowing users to initiate a high volume sound emission from AirPods to aid in locating them, although there is no mention in the release notes of the “theater mode” that was rumored to be included in iOS 10.3. The release notes for iOS 10.3 beta 1 also mention that new SiriKit car commands are in development — although the notes do not expand on the feature — and that the emergency SOS feature remains supported only in India. Enhancements to WebKit will allow web developers to create alternative page styles that respect the “Reduce Motion” setting on iOS devices.
The release notes for tvOS 10.2 beta 1 note that the update now adds accelerated scrolling support for UIKit and TVMLKit apps that will allow users to scroll through large views of content much more quickly using large swipes of the Siri Remote, as well as an index that can be accessed by swiping on the far right side of the Siri Remote. Device Enrollment and Mobile Device Management support has also been expanded for provisioning Apple TVs in enterprise and education environments.
Today The Pokémon Company today released Pokémon Duel, a new iOS game where players choose six Pokémon to fight against an opposing player while moving toward their goal on the game board. As players progress, their Pokémon will level up and the game will provide access to more powerful Pokémon. Players can hone their skills in the game’s Training Center, playing against an instructor to learn how various themed decks work. The game is free to download, but the in-app store offers boosters for purchase that allow users to obtain special Pokémon, and “plates” that allow players to swap out Pokémon positions or grant them various abilities for a single turn. Pokémon Duel is available for free on the App Store.
Indian government officials are likely to reject Apple’s request for a lower tax bracket, customs duty holidays, and other concessions in exchange for setting up manufacturing facilities in the country, the Economic Times of India reports. Apple officials are set to meet with representatives from India’s government Wednesday to lay out the company’s case for the incentives, but government representatives signaled last week that any changes made to benefit Apple would have to apply to all 42 other companies currently building mobile phones in India. One unnamed official told The Financial Times they were doubtful there would be enough incentive for the country to approve such a sweeping change. “Since there is a strong co-relation between value-addition and job creation, value-addition remains a priority for us. The ‘Make in India’ program would suffer if every foreign player starts to demand concessions without actually doing much of value addition here,” the source said.
Apple released iTunes 12.5.5, a minor update that mentions no specific improvements outside of “app and performance improvements.” Also on Monday, Apple released iOS 10.2.1, tvOS 10.1.1 and watchOS 3.1.3.
In addition to today’s iOS release, Apple has also released updates for Apple TV and Apple Watch. tvOS 10.1.1 comes to the fourth-gen Apple TV, and watchOS 3.1.3 was released for Apple Watch. Like iOS 10.2.1, both of these updates also appear to be primarily focused on performance improvements and bug fixes. watchOS 3.1.3 can be downloaded through the iOS Apple Watch app.
Apple released iOS 10.2.1 to the public today. The update for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch offers bug fixes and performance improvements — a minor update, all things considered. We’ll let you know of any particularly notable improvements or surprising new features. iOS 10.2.1 is rolling out now, so it should be available shortly if you don’t see it yet. As always, it can be downloaded through iTunes, or over-the-air in Settings > General > Software Update.
Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou said his company is considering a $7 billion investment with Apple in a “highly automated” display production facility inside the U.S., Nikkei Asian Review reports. Gou estimated the proposed facility would create between 30,000 and 50,000 jobs — local production could be a better solution for Foxconn than importing screens from China as demand increases. The company is also planning a new molding facility in the U.S., considering Pennsylvania as a possible location if investment details can be worked out with local officials.
KGI: 3D Touch upgrade coming in new iPhone, Touch ID and facial recognition upgrades in future model
Well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors to expect Apple to make big changes in order to make the new OLED displays work in the company’s next iPhone. Kuo expects to see a redesigned 3D Touch system since the existing pressure sensors would be incompatible with a flexible display panel, with the company switching to a “film sensor” that is more sensitive to the amount of pressure being applied to the screen. He also claims the company is developing a new optical fingerprint scanner to replace the current Touch ID sensor.
Apple has filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm, accusing it of monopolizing the wireless chip market as well as withholding $1 billion in retaliation for cooperating with South Korean antitrust authorities, Bloomberg reports. In the suit, Apple claims that Qualcomm is holding back $1 billion in money that was supposed to be a rebate for licensing fees, stating that Qualcomm is doing so as a punishment in response to Apple’s cooperation with Korean antitrust regulators. Apple is also challenging several key Qualcomm wireless technology patents in the complaint, asking the court to either declare the patents invalid, or if they are upheld, to significantly reduce the royalty amounts that Qualcomm is presently charging for their use.
Apple has announced a new set of design resources to assist developers in building apps for iOS 10, providing guidelines and templates for all of the UIKit controls, views, and glyphs available to developers within the iOS SDK, and recommendations for the appropriate ways in which to use them to match the iOS design language. The new Apple UI Design Resources page also includes templates that can be opened in Photoshop and Sketch, complete with icon and glyph production files that have been preconfigured to automate asset production in the appropriate tools.
The European Commission has announced a joint decision between Apple and Audible to end their exclusive arrangement for the sale of audiobooks on the iTunes Store, potentially opening up competition in downloadable audiobook distribution in Europe. Audible has been Apple’s exclusive supplier of audiobook titles for the iTunes Store since its debut in 2003, preventing other companies that provide downloadable audiobooks from accessing the iTunes Store, as well as precluding Audible from supplying its titles to other third-party platforms — although the agreement has not prevented Audible, which is now owned by Amazon, from selling its audiobooks directly to consumers. The new agreement between Amazon/Audible and Apple came following communications with the European Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office, who were looking into antitrust concerns around the exclusivity arrangement following a complaint raised by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, which raised several other complaints against Audible as well.
Nintendo has posted a video announcing its next game for iOS, Fire Emblem Heroes. Originally announced last April, Fire Emblem Heroes is a tactical RPG designed specifically to work on smaller screens, and it’s designed for a quick pick-up-and-play style. Players undertake strategic battles in the fantasy world of Fire Emblem, leveling up their characters and taking advantage of character attributes to plan attacks and match heroes and enemies appropriately. The game is played across multiple 8x6 maps designed to easily fit on a smartphone and allow for short burst play. Players drag-and-drop or select locations to move their party around the map while attacking, with the goal of defeating all of the enemies on the map to win each level. While the controls have been kept simple, maps get more challenging as players advance through the game, requiring them to plan their moves carefully and factor in terrain. In-game orbs can be found during gameplay or purchased as in-app purchases that will allow players to summon heroes as their allies to fight alongside them in specific battles. A Training Tower mode allows players to practice combat and gain experience and rewards, Special Maps provide seasonal events, and Arena Duels allow players to compete for high scores in multiple battles. Fire Emblem Heroes is expected to be available on the App Store on Feb. 2. No pricing details have been announced yet.
New rumors from Apple’s Asian suppliers suggest that Apple may be working on an update to Apple Pencil to be released alongside new iPad Pro models widely expected to be unveiled in March. While the rumors are vague on what new capabilities will be included, a Bloomberg report several months ago noted that Apple was working on “wider operating-system support for Apple’s stylus accessory” with the possibility of allowing users to annotate objects throughout iOS, rather than only in those apps specifically designed for the Apple Pencil. The Bloomberg report speculated that such features could be added as part of an iOS software update in early 2017, in which case the update would likely be released around the same time as the new iPad Pro models. It seems that such enhancements wouldn’t require a new Apple Pencil model, although there’s also been speculation that the new Apple Pencil could incorporate functionality Apple has outlined in several patents, such as an antenna, and a magnet for attaching to the iPad when not in use. [via MacRumors]
Apple has released an update to GarageBand for iOS, adding new integration with Logic Pro X 10.3, along with a number of more sophisticated music creation options. With GarageBand 2.2, Logic Pro X users can now create GarageBand-compatible versions of Logic projects in iCloud that can be opened on iOS devices to add new recordings while on the go, with new recordings automatically synced back to the original Logic project the next time it’s opened on Mac. The new update also includes the Alchemy synthesizer well-known to Logic Pro users, with a rich collection of more than 150 Apple-designed patches across a variety of genres. Alchemy’s Transform Pad also lets users morph between eight sonic snapshots in real-time for more expressive performances.
The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against Apple supplier Qualcomm, accusing the company of “using anticompetitive tactics to maintain its monopoly in the supply of a key semiconductor device used in cell phones.” The FTC alleges that Qualcomm violated the law by forcing cell phone manufacturers to agree to its preferred license terms to gain access to its processors. The company is also accused of suppressing competition by charging Apple reduced patent royalties from 2011 to 2016 to keep the company loyal.
Government officials in India have signaled they won’t be providing Apple with its desired 15-year exemption on duties typically charged to electronics manufacturers in the country, but they are open to relaxing the regulations on the industry as a whole to boost the “Make in India” campaign, The Economic Times reports. After being denied an exemption to India’s requirement that at least 30 percent of the materials in devices it sells in the country be sourced locally, Apple reportedly asked for a full exemption on the 12.5 percent duty that India charges manufacturers on imported raw materials, equipment and components in order to save on setting up local manufacturing facilities.
In a new interview with Complex, Larry Jackson, Zane Lowe and Bozoma Saint John spelled out their ambitions for expanding Apple Music’s impact on popular culture and driving new users to the subscription service. As in previous interviews, the Apple Music creative team focused on exclusive deals with artists like Taylor Swift and Drake as a cornerstone of what the service offers to distinguish itself from competitors like Spotify and Pandora. But Jackson is quick to point out that those arrangements go far beyond simply getting an artist’s album a week before it hits stores. “When we did [Please Forgive Me, Drake’s 20-minute music video, which Jackson co-wrote] in particular, that was in South Africa, and it was really difficult for Drake,” Jackson recalled. “He’s at the height of everything for, like, six weeks, and uprooted his life to go to Africa for seven days in the middle of BET [Awards] week, when he’s nominated for more awards than anybody. All for an idea that we had.”
Apple is raising App Store prices in the UK by more than 25 percent in response to the country’s sharp currency devaluation after the Brexit vote, the BBC reports. Apple raised the prices of iPhones and iPads in the country by a similar margin in September, then upped the price of Macs in October. UK customers will now pay 99 pence for apps that cost 99 cents in the United States, an increase from the 79 pence the same apps cost previously. The increase also affects in-app purchases, but hasn’t changed subscription charges. “Price tiers on the App Store are set internationally on the basis of several factors, including currency exchange rates, business practices, taxes, and the cost of doing business,” Apple said in a statement. “These factors vary from region to region and over time.”
Jimmy Iovine seems to be lending credibility to last week’s report that Apple is looking to bring scripted TV series to Apple Music, telling The Hollywood Reporter what the company is “trying to create is an entire cultural, pop cultural experience, and that happens to include audio and video.” Iovine told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour that in a battle for users with free music services like Spotify and Pandora, “a simple utility where, ‘here’s all the songs, here’s all the music, give me $10 and we’re cool,’ is not going to scale.” While Apple has been developing a scripted series about Dr. Dre’s early life and a full-length version of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke bit, the company had previously been insistent that the Apple Music video projects were simply a component of its music offerings.