At its F8 conference, Facebook revealed it is working on integrating Apple Music into the company’s Messenger app “very soon,” The Next Web reports. The feature is part of Messenger’s new Chat Extensions platform tool that will let users perform functions they’d usually need to leave Messenger to complete. Messenger will soon include an app list, and once Apple Music is selected users will be able to search for an artist or song title and share the resulting link through Messenger without exiting the app. Music can also be played from within Messenger, but there’s no word on whether users will be able to sync up their playback for a simultaneous listening experience.
Chinese officials in charge of regulating the internet have met with Apple representatives to discuss live streaming apps available in the App Store, Reuters reports. China’s official Xinhua News Agency said the Beijing Cyberspace Administration is urging Apple to “tighten its checks” on apps that make it possible to live stream video. The government recently ordered three live-streaming websites in the country to “rectify management loopholes,” but the restrictions that were put in place aren’t entirely clear. The country’s live-streaming market has become lucrative, producing $4.36 billion in revenue last year despite crackdowns on sites that provide illegal content. Earlier this year Apple pulled The New York Times’ apps from China’s App Store at the government’s request, but there’s no word yet on which live-streaming apps are at issue and whether there will be restrictions or outright bans placed on them.
Apple has made GarageBand, iMovie, Numbers, Pages and Keynote free to all Mac and iOS users on the App Store. All of the programs have been free since 2013 with a new Mac or iOS device purchase (and by extension to any other device owned by the user since all purchases are shared between multiple devices courtesy of the App Store), but now the company has made them free to anyone. With the exception of iMovie, the latest versions of all the apps require iOS 10 or later, and since the iPhone 5 is the only device capable of running iOS 10 that came out before the apps went free, most users with devices capable of running the newest versions will already have received them for free with new device purchases. But for those with devices that couldn’t make the leap to iOS 10, we tested the downloads on a fifth-generation iPod Touch running iOS 9.3 and found that Apple still offers the older versions of the apps for devices that are unable to run the most recent version, so users with older devices will still be able to take advantage of the change.
Developer Andrew Chang has announced on Reddit that he will be partnering with Spotify to help develop and official Apple Watch app for the popular streaming service. Chang originally announced development of a third-party Apple Watch app for Spotify back in February, with a hand-on video walk through posted by 9to5Mac, with plans to include advanced features such as offline playback, allowing music to be stored on and played from the Apple Watch without an iPhone in range. Chang initially ran into some opposition from Spotify’s legal team in relation to his choice of name, forcing him to rebrand his app as “Snowy,” however Chang updated his Reddit post yesterday to announce that he’s now going to be “working closely with Spotify to bring Snowy to the Apple Watch as part of an official Spotify iOS app.” Chang notes that he was able to build the app independently thanks to Spotify’s iOS SDK, but that with “the expertise and tools available at Spotify” he expects that he’ll be able to “take things to the next level.” While Chang did not provide any estimate on when the official Spotify Apple Watch companion app will be available, he states that it’s definitely “in the pipeline.” [via iPhone in Canada]
(…and it sounds like future A-series chips won’t even include 32-bit support. Wonder if that’ll free up any performance/die space?)— Steve T-S (@stroughtonsmith) April 8, 2017
In a series of tweets, well-connected developer Steve Troughton-Smith claims that Apple’s future A-series chips probably won’t support 32-bit apps. After several notifications from Apple that future versions of iOS won’t support 32-bit apps, developers have been speculating that the change will hit with iOS 11 when this year’s new iPhones are launched, and with the launch of iOS 10.3 the company started alerting users to the coming change whenever they open a 32-bit app. But Troughton-Smith has gone a step further, saying it “sounds like” Apple’s hardware won’t even support 32-bit and speculating that the move could free up “performance/die space.” [via 9to5Mac]
Apple has just released its new Clips social video sharing app as a free download on the iOS App Store. Announced two weeks ago alongside Apple’s new iPad and (PRODUCT)RED iPhone updates, Clips is a new app that will allow users to create videos that combine photos, music, and other video clips with very simple editing features for adjusting clip length, reordering them, and adding more content. Users can use their voice to make animated captions over their videos, and add Snapchat-like filters, stickers, speech bubbles, shapes and more. Facial recognition features will also allow the app to identify people in the videos and offer to send copies to them via Messages, or share their resulting videos via Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and more.
After acquiring popular iOS automation app Workflow, Apple is providing refunds to some users who recently purchased the app. One user on Reddit said they “bought workflow maybe 2 weeks before the acquisition was announced” and recently received an email from Apple announcing that the company would be providing a refund of the full purchase price. Another user who claims to have bought the app a month ago didn’t get a similar email and hasn’t seen a refund posted, so it’s unclear how far back Apple is going with its reimbursement. In an unusual move for the company, Apple left Workflow available in the App Store after buying it and simply made it free.
One of the lesser-known new features in iOS 10.3 is the ability for third-party apps to offer alternative home screen icons, and today the first major apps have been updated for these new capabilities, reports TechCrunch. Both MLB.com At Bat and NHL now provide the ability for users to change the default home screen icon to reflect their favourite team’s logo. Both apps will prompt the user initially to select an icon to use when first re-entering the app or setting up their favourite teams for the first time, however users can change the icon to another team at any time from the app’s settings. Interestingly, for whatever reason icons don’t yet appear to be available for all teams (sorry, Leafs fans).
Apple is cracking down on the practice of developers putting “free” in the name of their apps to set them apart from other competing apps, VentureBeat reports. While Apple’s developer guide has long discouraged app makers from making such a blatant move, the company is now outright rejecting apps that make any mention of their price in the name or within screenshots. Submitting an app with “free” in its title now returns the following error message: “Your app’s name, icons, screenshots, or previews to be displayed on the App Store include references to your app’s price, which is not considered a part of these metadata items. Please remove any references to your app’s price from your app’s name, including any references to your app being free or discounted. If you would like to advertise changes to your app’s price, it would be appropriate to include this information in the app description.” Existing apps with “free” in their names are still available on the App Store and seem unaffected, but it’s possible that future updates will be rejected if the name isn’t changed to move into compliance with the new policy. Apple confirmed the change but offered no further comment.
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.
Nintendo has released a major update to Super Mario Run, adding new playable characters and allowing more courses to be played without purchasing the game, among other improvements. Super Mario Run 2.0 allows players to unlock four additional courses in the free version of the game by completing one of Bowser’s challenges, and adds different coloured Yoshis that can be used in Toad Rally to gain more toads of that particular colour. Players can also get new courses to play in Toad Rally by completing the first four courses, and get new buildings from the Shop using the new blue and green Toads; Nintendo also promises that additional buildings will be added in a coming event. The update also adds an “Easy Mode” that can be used to clear trickier courses, and makes general adjustments to the ease of play in various other areas.
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.
WebMB has partnered with Scripps Translational Science Institute to conduct a study on pregnancy using Apple’s ResearchKit. WebMD’s existing pregnancy app for iOS has been redesigned to allow for data collection from women opting into the study, which the company hopes will provide new insights on what contributes to healthy pregnancies and positive outcomes. Participants will be able to share biometric data from their iPhone and other connected devices in addition to providing answers to questions about their medication use, vaccination history, pre-existing conditions and changes during pregnancy. A recent study on asthma proved that data collected in ResearchKit is as reliable as that collected by other methods, and Dr. Eric Topol, director of STSI, said the WebMD pregnancy study aims to capture more information about “one of the least studied populations in medical research.” “The results of our Healthy Pregnancy Study—on the foundation of an exceptionally popular smartphone app—will ultimately provide expectant mothers, researchers, and health care professionals with new medical insights to avoid complications during pregnancy,” Topol said.
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.
Google’s Area 120 program has just released a new iOS app called Uptime, allowing U.S. users to share YouTube videos with one another and chat in real time while watching them. The app also provides the ability to add reactions or comments, allows users to curate lists of their favorite YouTube clips and provides daily recommendations from friends and people you follow. The app is free on the App Store, but you’ll need to use the invitation code PIZZA to get in. [via TNW]
Plex has announced that its new Plex Cloud feature, originally released as a limited beta last fall, is now available to all Plex Pass subscribers. The Plex Cloud service expands the capabilities of the company’s media streaming platform, allowing users to store their movies, TV shows, and other media content in the cloud rather than, or in addition to, running their own Plex Media Server at home. Although Plex Cloud integrated with Amazon Drive when originally launched in beta, the fully-deployed Plex Cloud service instead allows you to simply tie into your choice of three major storage providers — Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive — and use whatever paid storage you have available on these services.
iDevices has released a major update to iDevices Connected, the company’s app for controlling HomeKit-based devices, including its own Switch, Socket, and Thermostat devices. Version 3.0 of iDevices Connected adds support for HomeKit location triggers, as well as “characteristic” triggers that can initiate HomeKit scenes when another HomeKit device is controlled, such as activating an “arriving home” scene when unlocking a HomeKit-enabled door lock. The new version also adds new services and characteristics to expand Scene capabilities, and brings a number of enhancements to scheduling, including a visual timeline the presents schedules in a calendar-like view, the ability to save and re-apply schedules across multiple scenes, and an initial setup assistant to create a baseline schedule for iDevices’ connected thermostat. The app also allows individual iDevices products to be scheduled without having to create single-device scenes, and makes some nice improvements to energy reporting. Firmware updates for iDevices’ accessories are also included as part of this update, improving responsiveness and addressing several minor stability bugs pertaining to certain Wi-Fi configurations.
Mobiata has announced that it is shutting down its popular FlightTrack 5 and FlightBoard apps, effective Mar. 1, 2017. Although the company admits that it hasn’t provided many updates to the two apps in recent months, FlightTrack was one of the first and best flight tracking apps on the App Store, and quickly became a mainstay for iPhone travellers. Mobiata was acquired by Expedia in 2010, and although it continued to run largely as an independent unit in developing its FlightTrack and FlightBoard apps over the past six years, a recent “critical assessment” by the larger parent company regarding the demand for travel app products suggests that a decision was made to focus Mobiata’s resources on implementing the technology in FlightTrack and FlightBoard into the main Expedia app in order to provide a “one-stop shopping” travel app solution.
Playdigious and Dinosaur Polo club have released an update to their highly-acclaimed Mini Metro, adding the long-awaited Endless Mode. Covered in our App Diary and selected as our 2016 Game of the Year, Mini Metro is an addictive puzzle-strategy game with a simple premise: players are tasked with creating an efficient rail system in a growing city, connecting rail stations on a variety of different maps to ensure the smooth flow of passengers within a limited amount of time — the goal being to move the highest number of passengers before one of your stations fills up to capacity, ending the game. With Endless Mode in the latest update, players now have the option of open-ended gameplay where time is no longer a stress factor, allowing for a more zen-like gameplay experience to experiment, design, and operate the subway grid of your dreams.