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Instagram moving away from SMS two-factor authentication

Instagram is building a non-SMS-based two-factor authentication system in response to increased efforts by hackers, TechCrunch reports. Since phone numbers can be stolen by hackers with relative ease — as outlined by Motherboard, all it takes is convincing a carrier customer service rep to port the number to a new SIM card — Instagram accounts have been prime targets for hackers since a password can be reset with only an SMS message. To defend against these sort of attacks, Instagram has told TechCrunch that it will be building a more modern two-factor authentication system that will use one-time passwords that can be generated by apps like Google Authenticator or 1Password. The social media network has been historically slow to adopt stronger authentication methods, not even implementing two-factor authentication at all until 2016 — long after most other social media networks had already adopted even more secure methods, but sadly only relied on basic SMS authentication, leaving the service vulnerable to SIM porting attacks. While Instagram is not alone in using SMS as a second authentication factor, it is one of the few major services that offers that as the sole option.

Instapaper parts ways with Pinterest to go it on its own

Popular offline reading and bookmarking service Instapaper has announced that it will be leaving Pinterest to go its own way, only two years after the social media platform acquired it in August of 2016. Instapaper was one of the first apps on the App Store back in 2008, developed by Marco Arment who is more recently best known for the very popular podcasting app, Overcast. Arment sold Instapaper to Digg parent company Betaworks in 2013, and the service was later acquired by Pinterest a few years later. Today’s announcement notes that ownership will be transferred to a new company, Instant Paper, Inc., which is owned and operated by the development team that’s been building and supporting the app since it left the original developer’s hands in the 2013 acquisition. In the announcement, the Instapaper team emphasizes that not much will change in terms of the user experience, since the same team will be working on it, but now separate from the umbrella of Pinterest.

Adobe launching full Photoshop for iPad next year

Adobe is planning to shift its mobile app strategy once again with a full release of Photoshop for iPad, Bloomberg reports. The move, which is part of an effort to make its products available across as many device as possible and thereby boost subscription sales, would see a new full-featured Photoshop app unveiled at Adobe’s MAX creative conference in October, with the app scheduled to be released in 2019. The information comes from undisclosed sources, and engineering delays could still alter the timeline, however Adobe’s Chief Product Officer of Creative Cloud, Scott Belsky, did confirm that the company is working on a new cross-platform iteration of Photoshop, but declined to comment on when the new versions would be launched. “My aspiration is to get these on the market as soon as possible,” Belsky said in an interview. “There’s a lot required to take a product as sophisticated and powerful as Photoshop and make that work on a modern device like the iPad. We need to bring our products into this cloud-first collaborative era.”

Plex adds Grid View on Apple TV

Last month, Plex announced a new Grid View for its DVR and Live TV feature, allowing users to browse a programming guide in the more familiar user interface. While the new layout was originally only available in the Plex web app, the company has now brought it to the Apple TV platform, allowing Plex fans to take advantage of a more traditional DVR-style experience. Plex added Live TV support to the Apple TV last year, although the original user interface for the feature only allowed users to browse by show, similar to navigating Plex library content.

Apple looks back at ten years of the App Store

Apple has published a news release heralding the 10th Anniversary of the App Store, a milestone that the venerable marketplace will be officially celebrating next Tuesday. As Apple points out, the App Store opened on July 10, 2008, with the release of the iPhone 3G and iPhone Software 2.0. At launch, the App Store included a mere 500 apps, 25 percent of which were available for free, and 90 percent of the commercial apps selling for $9.99 or less. Games also made up a third of the initial set of apps, and then-CEO Steve Jobs insisted that Apple was not trying to make money of the App Store specifically, but simply wanted to use the App Store as a way to “sell more iPhones.”

iTunes Remote lives on with iPhone X update

Apple today released an update to iTunes Remote, it’s iOS app for remotely controlling music playback from the iTunes app running on a Mac or Windows PC. iTunes Remote 4.4 includes compatibility with the iPhone X along with stability and performance improvements and an all new design on both the iPhone and iPad platforms. The app was last updated in early 2017, and with Apple having split off Apple TV control into a standalone Apple TV Remote app shortly before that, it was unclear whether the iTunes-focused version would continue to exist, and even less certain with the recent rollout of AirPlay 2 support now providing the multi-speaker playback capabilities that were previously the exclusive domain of iTunes. The latest update suggests that Apple intends to continue supporting iTunes Remote for the foreseeable future.

U.S. Supreme Court to hear Apple appeal of App Store antirust case

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Apple’s appeal over a lower-court decision that resurrected a seven-year-old class-antitrust lawsuit, Reuters reports. In 2011, a group of consumers filed a lawsuit alleging that Apple was maintaining a monopoly on the sale of iPhone apps, driving up prices because the App Store is the only place where such apps can be purchased. Apple asked for the suit to be dismissed in 2013, asserting that there was nothing illegal about creating a closed system, and arguing that it is developers, not Apple, that set prices for apps. A U.S. District Judge ruled later that same year that the plaintiffs couldn’t continue the lawsuit simply because they hadn’t actually bought the apps in question, and therefore couldn’t demonstrate that they had “personally suffered an injury” based on the conduct that they were accusing Apple of. While a lawyer for the plaintiffs at the same said the case could easily be refiled to meet the requirements, that didn’t surface until early last year, when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that iPhone users are free to sue Apple for its alleged monopoly on iPhone apps, although Apple maintained its original argument at the time that users had no standing to sue Apple because the App Store is simply a storefront, however the appellate court judge disagreed, saying that since iPhone users must purchase apps directly from Apple, they have a right to bring a legal challenge against Apple.

ArmourGrid’s new Family Kuvrr app provides innovative child safety monitoring

ArmourGrid has launched Family Kuvrr, a new safety app that provides smart monitoring and protection for the whole family against a number of common digital and physical threats.The app’s comprehensive set of features includes intelligent monitoring of app usage, web browsing, call history, location history, and text messages that can alert parents of incidents of cyberbullying, sexting, solicitations, drugs, improper emoji texts, and other issues based on matching texts, images, and videos against known threats in the Family Kuvrr databases. A “Smart Geo” feature provides the ability for family members to keep track of each other’s locations and create personalized “geo-fences” that will alert a parent, guardian, or older sibling when another family member enters or leaves specific locations, such as leaving school, arriving home, or entering unsafe areas. The app also provides an SOS alert feature to allow any family member to quickly send an emergency alert to the rest of the family, including a text/email/app notification with the user’s location, along with opening up a live audio/video stream so that other family members can assess the situation right away, and also includes roadside assistance in the U.S. and Canada as part of the annual membership plan. Family Kuvrr is available in a basic free version, or users can sign up for a Premium ten-member plan for $2/month or $10/year; a Premium+ plan is also available for larger families — up to 20 members — for $3/month or $20/year. A 30-day free trial is also available. The app is available on both iOS and Android platforms, and ArmourGrid notes that some features “may have limited availability on iOS due to iOS restrictions.”

Apple expands Siri support for World Cup, adds new themed content

Apple is going all-out for the 2018 World Cup tournament, announcing expanded support, coverage, and tournament-related content throughout multiple apps and services. In addition to the 26 other countries in which sports information is already generally available via Siri, users in Brazil, Russia, Denmark, Finland, Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Israel will also be able to ask Siri for scores, schedules, standings, and team rosters. The editorial team on the new App Store will also be highlighting the favorite apps and games of various football stars and posting other articles with tips for following the games, including key apps for following and watching the tournament. Users in the U.S. and Canada can follow the action through the Sports feature in Apple’s TV App, and will even be able to favorite specific teams to follow their matches in the “Up Next” section and get notifications of when teams are playing or when games are close.

Developers remain concerned about App Store ‘free trials’ policies

Apple’s revisions earlier this week to its App Store Review Guidelines to explicitly allow free trials may not be sufficient to appease calls by developers for a proper free trial system. In a blog post titled Ersatz Free Trials (via Daring Fireball), Red Sweater’s Daniel Jalkut, best known for MarsEdit, outlines a number of valid reasons why Apple’s solution falls far short of what many developers have been hoping for almost since the advent of the App Store ten years ago. As Jalkut notes, Apple’s revisions aren’t even offering anything specifically new, but are more of a codification of a practice that was started by The Omni Group back in 2016 and has been used by several other developers since — that of basically giving away a free version of an app and unlocking the “paid” functionality via in-app purchases. The change to the App Store Review Guidelines offers some comfort that Apple isn’t going to pull the plug on these practices, but still doesn’t address the real issue with the lack of “proper” free trials.

Revised App Store Review Guidelines now allow for free trials

In addition to changes allowing for apps like Valve’s Steam Link noted earlier this week in Apple’s revised App Store Review Guidelines, it appears that Apple has now also opened up the gates for time-based trial periods. MacRumors discovered the change in section 3.1.1 of the App Store Review Guidelines, which adds a section stating that non-subscription apps may now offer an explicit free time-based trial period as a zero-dollar in-app purchase.

Apple revises App Store rules to allow for Valve’s Steam Link and other similar apps

Apple has quietly issued an update to its App Store Review Guidelines that clarify the company’s position on remote mirroring apps such as Valve’s Steam Link, according to a new report by Reuters. The move comes on the heels of Apple’s controversial rejection of the Steam Link app late last month, despite it having been previously approved. At the time, according to Valve, Apple had cited “business conflicts with app guidelines that had allegedly not been realized by the original review team,” however Valve tried to insist that the Steam Link app functioned as a “LAN-based remote desktop” much like “numerous [other] remote desktop applications already available on the App Store,” however Valve’s appeal was denied. There was also some speculation that the rejection may have also been due to in-app purchases, however Steam had disabled purchasing in its iOS app and this did not appear to appease Apple’s App Review team, as Steam Link remained barred from the App Store.

App Store turns 10 years old, now features over 20 million registered developers

Kicking off this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference today, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the tenth anniversary of the App Store, adding that Apple has hit a milestone of over 20 million registered developers on the App Store, and over 500 million visits to the App Store per week. Most significantly, Apple has paid out 100 billion dollars in payouts to developers over the history of the App Store.

Square Enix ending Go series, shifting focus to freemium games

Square Enix Montreal plans to drop its Go franchise in favour of a shift from a premium game model to a freemium game model. In an interview with VentureBeat, Patrick Naud, head of the Square Enix Montreal studio, revealed that the company’s popular Go lineup — a series of turn-based puzzlers which began with Hitman Go before expanding into Lara Croft Go and Deus Ex Go — is no longer profitable at the $5 per game up-front asking price, even despite the use of in-app purchases for in-game expansions.

The Omni Group releases OmniFocus 3 for iOS

The Omni Group has released OmniFocus 3 for iOS, a major upgrade to the company’s powerhouse task management app that adds significant new functionality while decreasing its complexity in normal daily use. The biggest enhancement in OmniFocus 3 is the transformation of “contexts” into a more flexible system of “tags” that’s found in many other apps. While tags serve many of the same functions as contexts, users can now assign multiple tags to any task or project, reorder tags manually, and even assign a tag to appear in the Forecast view. Other new enhancements include a customizable inspector that allows users to hide fields that they don’t normally use, the ability to set multiple custom notification for any task or project and a revamped rules system for creating custom perspectives.

Plex adds Podcasts and a major revamp to its apps

Plex has announced a major update to its platform and mobile apps, introduced support for subscribing to and listening to podcasts, directly through the app, along with a significant redesign of its app experience that provides for faster navigation and a customizable home screen experience. New mobile apps for iOS and Android reimagines the Plex user experience to focus more on addressing what users want to watch or listen to rather than where it is coming from, and now allows users to customize their home screen to reorder or remove the standard sections like “On Deck” and add new ones from anywhere in the app. Users can also now easily combine content from multiple servers on their home screen — both their own and any other servers that they may be subscribed to — and there are now tabs at the bottom of the screen that can be rearranged easily as well, and even customized to allow users to focus on the media they prefer.

Apple rejects Steam Link iOS app, citing ‘business conflicts’

Apple has rejected Valve’s promised Steam Link app, despite actually pre-approving it earlier this month, CNet reports. According to Valve, Apple informed them this week that Apple reversed its earlier approval due to “business conflicts with app guidelines that had allegedly not been realized by the original review team.” Valve added that it appealed Apple’s decision, explaining that the Steam Link app functions as a “LAN-based remote desktop” in the same way as “numerous remote desktop applications already available on the App Store,” but that the appeal was denied. While Valve didn’t go into any details on the specific reasons for the rejection — other than vague “business conflicts” — a later report by Reuters suggests that the conflict is likely connected to in-app purchases, noting that Valve spokesman Doug Lombardi told them that Steam had disabled purchasing in its iOS app, although he did not explain when or how this change was made. It’s unclear whether this will be enough to appease Apple’s App Store review team, or if other issues still remain.

Vevo abandoning its own platform in favour of YouTube

The popular Vevo music video service is phasing out its own music video platforms in favor of YouTube, Variety reports. The company announced its plans in a blog post yesterday, stating that it “will phase out elements of our owned and operated platforms” in order to focus in its primary objective, which is “to grow the commercial and promotional value of music videos.”  The post goes on to note that the company’s catalog “will continue to reach a growing audience on YouTube.” Vevo, which is owned primarily by the major labels, has long had a distribution deal with YouTube, which through Google also owns a small stake in the company. While Vevo has traditionally reached most of its audience through YouTube, for the past few years it had tried to lessen its dependence on the service with its own set of apps for mobile devices and set-top boxes, and in fact even toyed at once time with the idea of launching a paid subscription service.

TeenSafe parental monitoring service leaks thousands of childrens’ passwords

A service designed to help parents monitor their childrens’ internet activity on iPhone and Andorid devices has leaked thousands of users’ passwords, ZDNet reports. The service, TeenSafe, purports to be a “secure” monitoring app for both iOS and Android designed to allow parents to view their child’s text message conversations, monitor who they’re calling, accessing their location and web browsing history, and more. It appears, however, that for iOS devices the service relies on parents supplying their childrens’ Apple ID passwords, which are stored on the company’s servers, possibly in order to access iCloud data. However, a U.K. based security researcher, Robert Wiggins, discovered last week that TeenSafe had actually left one or more of its servers unprotected and accessible by anyone without even a password requirement.

App creators unite, form ‘Developers Union’ to call for App Store changes

A group of developers have joined forces, penning an open letter asking Apple to commit to making certain key changes to the App Store. Calling themselves The Developers Union, the group is specifically pushing for Apple to allow free trials for all apps in both the iOS and Mac App Stores by July 2019.

We believe that people who create great software should be able to make a living doing it. So we created The Developers Union to advocate for sustainability in the App Store.

Today, we are asking Apple to publicly commit — by the tenth anniversary of the App Store this July — to allowing free trials for all apps in the App Stores before July 2019. After that, we’ll start advocating for a more reasonable revenue cut and other community-driven, developer-friendly changes.

 

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