Facebook has announced its rumored video-centric app for the Apple TV, alongside several other improvements to viewing videos within the Facebook app for iPhone and iPad. Originally rumored earlier this month to be in development, the new Facebook app is expected to “roll out soon” on the Apple TV App Store, alongside support for several other smart TV platforms and media devices such as Amazon’s Fire TV and Samsung Smart TV. The new app will allow users to watch top videos, videos shared by friends and shared on Pages that they follow, recommended videos, and videos that have been saved to watch later.
Today EPIX announced it has joined the ranks of other pay channels like HBO and Showtime, offering an Apple TV app for the first time. EPIX is offering a “limited free trial of the app exclusively on Apple TV,” with a report from Variety spelling out that new subscribers enrolling through Apple TV will receive a four-week free trial before having to sign up for the channel through their cable provider. The app provides access to the channel’s live programming and the ability to add content to a queue, search through the channel’s older content, browse curated collections and view movie trailers. The app is also available on iPhone and iPad, where users can download content for offline viewing.
In a post on Medium, verify.ly creator Will Strafach claims his team has discovered at least 76 popular iOS apps vulnerable to silent man-in-the-middle attacks. Strafach doesn’t disclose the most vulnerable apps for security purposes, but listed a few of the apps that have a lower degree of security risks, like the ooVoo video calling app, Trading 212 Forex & Stocks trading app and several different file uploaders affiliated with Snapchat. Most of the apps named leave user details like email addresses, user names and passwords open to interception by a third party, and Strafach says iOS’s App Transport Security feature doesn’t help block the vulnerability. The problem lies in commonly misconfigured networking code that Apple is unable to patch on its end, but data is only vulnerable to interception when using a public WiFi network, so Strafach simply recommends turning Wi-Fi off and using the phone’s cellular data when dealing with sensitive information away from home. [via 9to5Mac]
Microsoft has announced a major update to its iOS email and calendar app, Microsoft Outlook, bringing support for third-party add-ins, and celebrating two years since the release of an iOS adaptation of the company’s venerable e-mail client. The new add-ins feature allows users to integrate with third-party apps such as Trello, Evernote, and more directly from email messages in their Outlook inbox. Microsoft has announced partnerships with Evernote, GIPHY, Nimble, Trello, and Smartsheet for an initial set of Outlook plug-ins, and has indicated that they are producing several of their own add-ins available for the platform as well, with Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Translator available out of the gate, and “many more” promised to follow. The new add-ins for Outlook on iOS complement the versions already available for Outlook on Windows and Mac and on the web, extending their functionality to iPhone and iPad users. The new add-in features are available for Office 365 today, and Microsoft indicates that they’re “rolling out gradually” to Outlook.com users.
IBM and United Airlines have announced a new collaboration to develop a new suite of iOS business applications to help drive the airline’s digital transformation, as part of IBM’s MobileFirst partnership with Apple. United Airlines currently has more than 50,000 iOS devices being used by its front-line employees, and this new collaboration will see IBM developing a set of both market-ready and custom iOS apps for improving a number of aspects of United Airlines’ customer-facing operations, such as providing flight attendants and gate personnel readily available access to customer travel data at their fingertips without being tied to a fixed workstation or podium position.
Nintendo told investors it plans to release two to three mobile games a year for the foreseeable future, Reuters reports. While the company said at least 70 game makers are producing an estimated 100 titles for the upcoming Switch console, Nintendo delayed the release of the upcoming Animal Crossing game by at least a month—it’s now slated for April at the earliest—to ensure the release of Fire Emblem: Heroes later this week. Nintendo roared to success in the mobile game industry with the wildly popular Pokémon GO, but it’s subsequent release of Super Mario Run didn’t generate the same revenue boost due to its one-time only payment structure.
Facebook is developing a “video-centric app” for devices like the Apple TV, looking to open up a new platform for its video content and compete with traditional television providers for ad revenue, The Wall Street Journal reports. People familiar with the development said the app is one of many projects centered around turning Facebook into a “video-first” company, with the company going so far as to discuss licensing “TV-quality programming” from various media companies. With Facebook’s ad revenue growth slowing, employees have begun to see the company’s future as becoming a type of “mobile TV” that cuts into the time most people spend watching traditional live television broadcasts. Media executives familiar with the discussions said Apple is expressing interest in “scripted shows and sports and entertainment content created specifically for the platform,” although that content is expected to be capped at around 10 minutes in length.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that iPhone users are free to sue Apple for its alleged App Store monopoly on iPhone apps, Reuters reports. This latest ruling resurrects a legal challenge that was originally filed back in 2012, which accused Apple of engaging in anticompetitive behavior by restricting iPhones to only run apps purchased from Apple’s own App Store, thereby artificially inflating the prices of apps by stifling market competition. In response, Apple argued that users did not have any standing to sue Apple because apps are sold by individual developers, and that Apple simply provides the storefront for developers, in return for a cut of app sales. A lower court originally sided with Apple on the matter, however, Judge William A. Fletcher of the appellate court ruled this week that since iPhone users purchase apps directly from Apple, iPhone users have a right to bring a legal challenge against Apple.
After launching its CareKit platform in April of last year, Apple has announced a new partnership with Tresorit to offer that company’s ZeroKit to app developers looking to offer more secure data encryption. CareKit apps allow users to track their health information and keep that data encrypted on the user’s iPhone, but when the data is shared with servers, it’s up to developers to provide security for that transmission. Tresorit’s ZeroKit framework provides a shortcut for those looking to add “zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption” to their apps without doing all the leg work. Tresorit’s website claims their authentication service can guard against many of the most common methods used in data breaches, including “pass the hash,” dictionary, and brute force attacks. Some companies, like Dr.near.me and The Diary Corporation, are already using ZeroKit to secure their apps. [via Apple Insider]
The latest version of the ESPN and WatchESPN apps for iOS now offer support for Apple’s Single Sign-On feature. Both apps provide access to streaming video, provided the user has a valid cable subscription with a supported partner. With an update to the latest versions of each app, users with a valid cable subscription set up on their phone will be able to sign in using their Touch ID rather than entering a password each time.
Apple has pulled the LinkedIn app from its App Store in Russia, The New York Times reports. The move came after Russia blocked the social networking site for not complying with local laws requiring them to store data on Russian citizens. Nicole Leverich, a spokeswoman for LinkedIn, said the company was “disappointed” in Russia’s decision, adding the move “denies access to our members in Russia and the companies that use LinkedIn to grow their businesses.” Apple confirmed it was asked to remove the LinkedIn app in Russia, but declines further comment on the issue. Apple also confirmed that China has indeed requested the company remove The New York Times’ app, illustrating the direct blocking of websites — common in more repressive countries — is now creeping into the App Store.
Samsung has announced its Gear S3, Gear S2 and Gear Fit2 smartwatches are now compatible with iOS. Depending on the model, users will need the Gear S or Gear Fit apps, now available on the App Store. The apps will guide users through the steps of pairing their devices and, once installed, allow the wearer to track routes, log distance traveled and monitor heart rate and calories burned. The apps also provide the ability to find a lost watch using the device’s built-in GPS.
Instagram has added support for wide color capture on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, along with the ability to convert Live Photos into Boomerangs in Instagram Stories. Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger tweeted the news out yesterday, noting in particular that the features are being rolled out in the existing Instagram app, with no update needed.
If you're on an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, Instagram now supports wide color capture and display throughout the app—writing an eng blog on it soon— Mike Krieger (@mikeyk) January 5, 2017
Instagram originally announced that it would be adding support for the new camera features in iPhone 7 at Apple’s event back in September, including the wider colors and Live Photos in Boomerang Stories announced today, along with a special color filter and one-finger zoom on the iPhone 7 Plus. Support for wide color capture and display should simply begin working, and users can add Live Photos to their Boomerang Stories by opening the Instagram Stories camera, swiping from the bottom of the screen to upload from the camera roll, and then selecting a Live Photo from the thumbnails that appear at the bottom of the screen. A 3D Touch on the screen will allow the Live Photo to be previewed as a Boomerang that can be shared in the current Story. [via TechCrunch]
Capcom has released the entire series of original 8-bit Mega Man games for iOS devices, following reports last month that the series would at least be landing in Japan in early 2017. Coming only a few weeks after the Blue Bomber’s birthday, this release represents the first time that all six of the original 8-bit Mega Man games have been available on any smart device platform, 29 years after Mega Man first landed on gaming consoles. The iOS adaptations of the game are optimized for mobile devices with adjustments to game speed, and are designed to appeal to both long-time fans and newcomers to the series. Each title is available separately from the App Store for $1.99, including the original Mega Man through Mega Man 6.
Google has released an update to its Google Calendar app for iOS devices, adding integration with Apple’s HealthKit framework for automatically tracking completion of fitness goals. Last year, Google added a new “Goals” feature to Google Calendar, allowing users to schedule goals for various recurring activities such as workouts, however users who wanted to keep track of their goals were required to mark them completed manually. The latest version of Google Calendar for iOS can now read workout data directly from Apple’s Health app, allowing daily workout goals to be automatically marked as completed within the Google Calendar app. The app can also now use workout data from HealthKit to tailor future goal schedules to times that more accurately reflect actual workout times.