Apple has added the ability for developers to reply to reviews, finally giving app creators an outlet to respond to user critiques. Developers can now respond to any review — no matter when it was written — and after an Apple moderator approves the reply, the user will be notified of the response. After that, the user will be given the option to update their review, and then the developer can also update their response, providing a way for both sides to discuss (or argue over) any concerns. No matter how many times the response is edited, only the most recent version will be displayed on each review, and Apple is still moderating all posts to maintain some sense of decorum.
Along with the release of iOS 10.3 earlier today, Apple has also updated its iWork suite of productivity apps with several new features, including the ability to open password-protected documents in each app using Touch ID and format text as superscript of subscript and change text background color. Pages 3.1 also allows users to bookmark document sections, use LaTeX and MathML notation, and import and export RTF documents. Numbers 3.1 improves the editing experience for entering data and formulas, adds an action menu for quick access to common tasks, and allows users to add current or historical stock information in spreadsheets. In Keynote 3.1 slide masters and backgrounds can now be changed up, and a new presentation rehearsal view shows current slide, presenter notes, and timer on a single screen.
Apple today released tvOS 10.2 for the Apple TV, adding improvements to scrolling behaviour, support for cross-device movie rentals, and improvements to the Apple TV Remote iOS app. The new “rent anywhere” feature debuted last week in iTunes 12.6 and in iOS 10.3 earlier today, now allows users to rent a movie in from iTunes on their Mac or PC or on their iPhone and iPad and watch it on their Apple TV. When scrolling in a long list, an alphabetical selector will now appear at the right side of the TV screen to allow users to scroll more quickly to a section of the list.
Apple has publicly released watchOS 3.2 for the Apple Watch, adding the long-rumoured Theater Mode feature along with SiriKit to allow developers to integrate watchOS apps with Siri. The new Theater Mode feature, which can be enabled from the Control Center, allows users to mute the sound and disable “Wake Screen on Wrist Raise” with a single button, thereby preventing the Watch from lighting up automatically when the wrist is raised. Haptic notifications are still received unless the user also enabled Do Not Disturb, and the screen can still be lit up manually by tapping on it or pressing the Digital Crown; Apple Watch Series 2 users can also still use the Digital Crown to discreetly peek at their Watch screen.
After a significant number of beta releases, Apple has finally released iOS 10.3 to the public today, featuring a new “Find My AirPods” option along with several improvements to Siri and CarPlay along with some other more minor changes and fixes. “Find My AirPods” allows iOS 10.3 users to user the “Find My iPhone” app to view the last reported location of their AirPods as well as playing a loud sound on one or both AirPods to help locate them. Siri in iOS 10.3 gains support for payment apps, scheduling with ride booking apps, checking car status with automaker apps, and Cricket sports scores. CarPlay users will also gain the ability to quick access recently used apps from the CarPlay screen, as well as several improvements to the Apple Music experience. As expected, iOS 10.3 also adds the cross-device movie rental capabilities debuted in iTunes 12.6 last week, a new unified view for iCloud and Apple ID account information within the Settings app, a “Report Junk” feature for dealing with iCloud Calendar spam, and several other improvements to the Home, Maps, and Podcasts apps.
Apple is reportedly “stepping up” its investment in AR glasses, the Financial Times reports. After more than a year with a team exploring whether producing a “head-worn” device is viable, people with knowledge of the process said the company is devoting more resources to move its “science project towards a consumer product.” The sources said AR has overtaken the company’s secretive “Project Titan” car endeavor as Apple’s top priority for its next big product launch. While Apple’s chief designer Jony Ive told the New Yorker he viewed the user’s face as the “wrong place” to implement the technology, CEO Tim Cook said when done right, AR has the potential to produce something so fundamentally life-changing that “we will wonder, when it does, how we lived without it. Kind of how we wonder how we lived without our phones today.”
In an unusual move, Apple has taken the Apple Store offline for the second time this week in advance of today’s release of the new iPad and (PRODUCT)RED iPhone. Apple took its online store down early Tuesday morning in advance of the announcement of both products, indicating that they would go on sale at 8:01 AM PDT today. As all of the new products were already appearing on the Apple Store on Tuesday, most assumed that the ordering links would simply become active at the scheduled release time, however for whatever reason Apple has chosen to take its store offline again.
Apple has acquired Workflow, a popular automation tool that allows users to tie together various apps on the iOS platform to create macro-like stored procedures, TechCrunch reports. While the financial terms of the deal are not yet available, the report suggests that it was a “solid payday” for the small team of developers. In the deal, Apple is not only acquiring the Workflow app, but also the team of Ari Weinstein, Conrad Kramer, and Ayaka Nonaka, and Nick Frey. Despite the acquisition, Apple will continue to offer the Workflow app on the App Store, making it now available for free.
Following yesterday’s report that a hacker group has been threatening to wipe hundreds of millions of iPhones if Apple does not pay them a ransom, Apple has unequivocally stated that there has been no breach of its systems. Although Apple neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of the data the hackers claim to have, the company told Fortune that, if the list is legitimate, it was not obtained through any security breach at Apple, suggesting that the “alleged list of email addresses and passwords appears to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services.”
Among all its product roll outs and updates today, Apple also revealed Clips, a new app that lets users create videos using photos, music and video clips. The app includes a Live Titles feature that lets users make animated captions over their videos simply by using their voice, providing a simple option for adding subtitles to videos that are perfectly timed to the subject’s words. The app also provides several Snapchat-like options, such as filters, stickers, speech bubbles, shapes and more. The app can even identify the people in videos to make it easier to send them a copy through Messages, and allows the videos to be posted on other sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The app is set to be released on the App Store sometime in April.
Apple revealed its new iPad this morning, a 9.7” model that replaces the iPad Air 2 as the company’s entry-level iPad option. Simply called “iPad,” the new device features some minor improvements over the iPad Air 2, including a brighter Retina display, an A9 chip instead of the older model’s A8 and a slightly larger battery. The front and back cameras are the same, but the new iPad is a bit thicker — 7.5mm to the iPad Air 2’s 6.1 mm — and seems to lose the older model’s dual microphones. The new iPad is currently available in 32 GB and 128GB capacities and starts at $329 — $70 cheaper than the iPad Air 2, which is no longer available on Apple’s website.
Apple’s system status page is now showing that the company’s web site will be down tomorrow morning for maintanance. While the company has made no official mention of a product release tomorrow, Apple usually takes down its web site ahead of rolling out new devices, and the 8:30 a.m. EST end time for the maintenance correspondes with when Apple typically issues its press releases. The move also fits into the time frame reported by MacRumors last week, citing “reputable supply chain analysts” who said Apple would be releasing new products this week. While those sources provided no information about which products would be released, analysts have been predicting for months that new iPads would be released early this year, including a new “bezel-free” 10.5” version. [via MacRumors]
Despite making $4.2 billion in sales in New Zealand since 2007, Apple pays no taxes in that country, the New Zealand Herald reports. Apple has paid $37 million on that income, but the money went to the Australian Tax Office instead of staying in New Zealand. On that same sum, taxes in New Zealand would have totaled $357 million, but since Apple’s New Zealand operations are run out of Australia, the company is able to take advantage of a tax treaty that “sees dual claims on income tax default to where the company is controlled.” Several New Zealand politicians confirmed the deal was legal, but Deborah Russell, a recently selected Labour Party candidate, said Apple is taking advantage of “that age-old distinction between legality and morality.” Revenue Minister Judith Collins recently released tax reforms aimed at netting more income from international businesses operating in New Zealand, but it’s unclear how those changes will affect Apple. An Apple spokesperson said the company follows all international tax laws, adding that “Because our products and services are created, designed and engineered in the US, that’s where the vast majority of our tax is paid.” But the company is no stranger to tax feuds, and is currently embroiled in a battle with the EU over its Irish tax bill.
Apple has combined veterans from its hardware and software operations with a group of talented new hires to build a team focused on creating ambitious augmented reality breakthroughs, Bloomberg reports. The team, run by former Dolby Laboratories executive Mike Rockwell, includes researchers who were previously working on Oculus virtual reality headsets, Amazon’s Lumberyard virtual reality platform and Meta’s augmented reality glasses project. Hundreds of engineers are now working on the project, which includes plans for wearable glasses and big improvements to the iPhone’s camera. Apple is reportedly working on making the iPhone able to “take a picture and then change the depth of the photograph or the depth of specific objects in the picture later,” using algorithms acquired in 2013 from PrimeSense. Other improvements would allow users to manipulate specific elements within the image — like rotating a person’s head 180 degrees while leaving the rest of the frame as-is — or place visual effects on top of a person much in the way Snapchat’s filters operate. The report didn’t shed any light on when 3D sensors or augmented reality applications would land on the iPhone, but recent rumors have hinted Apple may be testing its AR capabilities as early this year.
Apple has extended the amount of time that customers can purchase AppleCare+ after buying a new iPhone to one year, according to a new report by MacRumors. Previously, customers purchasing a new iPhone had up to 60 days to decide whether or not to purchase Apple’s AppleCare+ protection plan, which increases the covered iPhone’s warranty coverage and telephone support to two years from the date of the device’s purchase and provides coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage during the coverage period.
Apple has formally announced plans to expand its research and development centres in China, bringing the company’s total investment in R&D in the country to more than 3.5 billion yuan (~$500m). The two new centres announced today in Shanghai and Suzhou will join the centres in Beijing and Shenzhen that Apple announced last summer and last fall, respectively.
Apple has released another new beta of iOS 10.3, only three days after the the sixth beta was released to developers. The seventh beta, featuring a build number of 14E5277a, is available today to both registered developers and members of Apple’s Public Beta program, and the rapid release of new betas suggests that iOS 10.3 is drawing closer to a public release, possibly corresponding with the rumoured release of new iPad models that could arrive as soon as next week.
Following the unusual re-launch of the iPhone 6 in a 32GB model in China earlier this month, Apple now appears to have expanded sales of the “new” 2017 iPhone 6 model to Belarus, AppleInsider reports. Belarusian Apple reseller i-Store is currently taking orders for the device, which is priced at 999 rubles (~$520) and only available in Space Gray. Much like its launch in Asia, the device is identified as “iPhone 6 (2017)” and is in a previously-unavailable 32GB capacity, making it clear that Apple has begun manufacturing limited quantities of the older model in a new capacity, likely targeted for sale as an entry-level model in emerging markets. The 2017 iPhone 6 otherwise has the same specs as the 2014 model, but will run iOS 10 out of the box.
Despite its vocal opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration earlier this year, Apple has not joined other tech companies in signing on to a new lawsuit looking to block a second version of the Trump’s executive order, Reuters reports. Apple is reportedly among 60 technology companies, including Google and Facebook, that appear to have decided against putting their weight behind this new lawsuit. A legal brief was filed in federal court in Hawaii earlier this week representing 58 technology companies in opposition to the second version of Trump’s executive order banning immigration, but this accounts for less than half of the 127 companies that signed on to a similar brief opposing the first executive order last month. Airbnb, Dropbox, and Kickstarter are reportedly among the companies that did sign the new brief, while other companies that are conspicuously absent the second time around include Microsoft, eBay, Intel, Netflix, and Twitter.
A warning dialog discovered by developers working with the iOS 10.3 beta stating that apps that have not been updated to include 64-bit support “will not work with future versions of iOS” has led Sensor Tower to determine that the new restriction could affect about 8 percent of apps on the App Store, effectively rendering them obsolete. While there’s no solid evidence that iOS 11 will be the final cutoff for apps that are 32-bit-only, Apple has only been accepting 64-bit new app submissions since Feb. 1, 2015, and forcing app updates to follow the same requirements since June 1, 2015. That means the apps that would be rendered obsolete wouldn’t have been updated since early-2015 anyway, making it unlikely that they’re terribly popular and entirely possible that many have already been abandoned by their creators.