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Samsung’s Gear S3, Gear S2, Fit2 smartwatches gain iOS compatibility

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 adds iPhone 7 Wide Color Support, Live Photos in Stories

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.

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 announces all six classic MegaMan titles now available for iOS

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 Calendar iOS app can now track workouts via HealthKit

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.

Apple announces record-shattering New Year’s Day for App Store

Apple has announced that the 2017 began with the busiest day ever for the App Store, with over $240 million in customer purchases made on Jan. 1, 2017. The year 2016 was also a record-breaking year for the App Store overall, with developers earning over $20 billion — an increase of more than 40 percent from 2015, representing about a third of the total developer earnings over the course of the entire eight year history of the App Store. App Store purchases in December 2016 topped $3 billion; top grossing apps included Monster Strike, Fantasy Westward, Clash Royale, and of course Pokémon GO, while Super Mario Run was the most downloaded app globally on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, after breaking records with 40 million downloads in the first four days after its Dec. 15 release. Apple also added that through its Apps for Earth and Games for (RED) campaigns, developers helped to raise over $17 million for the World Wildlife Fund and (RED).

Apple removes New York Times app from Chinese App Store

Apple has removed The New York Times’ apps from the App Store in China in response to a request from Chinese authorities, The New York Times reports. Both the English and Chinese language apps were removed from the App Store in China on Dec. 23, with Apple being told by Chinese officials that the app “is in violation of local regulations.” The move seems to affect only The New York Times’ apps, as other international publications such as The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal remain available in the Chinese App Store. The Chinese government began blocking The Times’ websites in 2012 following a series of articles on then-prime minister Wen Jiabao, although the government is said to have been struggling in recent months to prevent readers from using the Chinese-language app.

Niantic updates Pokémon GO with Apple Watch support

Niantic has released an update to its popular Pokémon GO game for iOS devices, adding the promised support for Apple Watch. While players will still need to pull out their iPhone to hunt for Pokémon, the Apple Watch app allows users to perform many other in-game functions such as hatching eggs, viewing level progress status, receiving alerts of nearby Pokémon and PokéStops, and more. Users will also be able to start workouts from within the Pokémon GO Watch app, and view stats such as calories burned, distance walked, and items collected. A Watch Face Complication also provides status updates, such as how far the user needs to walk to hatch an egg.

Super Mario Run posts record-breaking 40 million downloads in four days

In a statement posted on Nintendo’s website, the gamemaker confirms that Super Mario Run was downloaded more than 40 million times in its first four days, setting a new App Store record. The endless runner has roared to success despite mixed reviews — our own App Diary had mixed feelings, as well. The Wall Street Journal reports Nintendo shares have fallen more than 16 percent since the game’s launch, with investors citing concerns over Nintendo charging a one-time fee, rather than using an in-app purchase model like the one that made Pokémon GO so successful. While Super Mario Run is expected to generate $15 million in its first month, Pokémon GO made $100 million between July and September by adding additional paid content. While expanding the game to Android could make more money for Nintendo, a company spokesman confirmed there are no plans to release any additional content for the game, either free or paid.

Apple asks users to send company Health app data for research

Apple’s Health app is asking users to send their data to a reporting program which will use the information to improve the company’s health-related offerings. If a user opts in, Apple will gain access to workout and activity information from their iPhone and Apple Watch, which the company says will be used to “understand the effectiveness of health and fitness features on Apple devices.” Apple claims the data won’t be used for any other purpose and that it won’t include any personally identifiable information. The company will also gather some location data and information about what other fitness apps are installed on a user’s devices.

Minecraft launches for Apple TV

Developer Mojang has brought its popular Minecraft game to Apple TV, according to a blog post on the game’s site. The game costs $20 and is rolling out in various regions today — we personally haven’t seen it yet, but it should be popping up sometime soon. For a limited time ,the company is including “the Holiday 2015, Town Folk, and City Folk skin packs, along with the Plastic, Natural, Cartoon, and Festive 2016 mash-ups” in that $20 purchase price. The Apple TV version doesn’t currently support Minecraft Realms or Xbox Live, but the company promises that future updates will add those features.

Niantic says Pokémon GO app for Apple Watch is still coming

Niantic is still working on developing a Pokémon GO app for Apple Watch despite rumors that the company had scrapped it, TechCrunch reports. Niantic promised the Apple Watch version of Pokémon GO “by the end of the year,” but with the end of the year approaching, an alleged email from a Niantic customer service agent appeared on Reddit, claiming the “port for the Apple Watch has been shelved” due to low demand. But Niantic quickly debunked the rumor, confirming that the Reddit image was a fake and adding that, “Development on Pokémon GO continues, as it has since before the Apple announcement.” No firm date has been offered, but the Pokémon GO Twitter page says an Apple Watch app is “coming soon.”

Super Mario Run tops 2.85 million downloads on first day

Nintendo’s Super Mario Run has hit 2.85 million downloads in its first day of availability, The Verge reports. Citing data from analytics firm Apptopia, the report notes that Super Mario Run easily beats Pokémon Go, which broke the record in July with 900,000 downloads on the first day. However, Pokémon Go still holds first place for total first-week downloads — although Apple declined to divulge how many times Pokémon Go was downloaded in its first seven days, it did jump to 5.6 million downloads by day three.

Super Mario Run now available on App Store

As expected, Nintendo has released Super Mario Run today on the App Store. Originally introduced by Nintendo at Apple’s special event back in September, Super Mario Run is a mobile-optimized game featuring Nintendo’s classic character in an endless runner game that has Mario automatically running to the right, with on-screen taps used to have Mario jump and collect coins. The game is designed for easy one-handed operation, however Mario tap timings are used to make Mario behave slightly differently. Three game modes are available — World Tour, Toad Rally, and Kingdom Builder — that allow for simple single-player gaming, challenges and tournaments, and the ability to build your own kingdom with coins and Toads collected in the other game modes. The game is free to download, but it costs $10 to play most of the levels, which is done via in-app purchase.

Scaled-back Tinder app lands on Apple TV

Tinder has joined the ranks of apps making themselves available on Apple TV, detailing the move in a blog post. The ad campaign seems geared toward making the selection of prospective mates on Tinder more of a group experience, encouraging users to get their family and friends involved in the decision-making process. Like most crossover Apple TV apps, Tinder provides limited options on the big screen, allowing users to swipe right and left or view information in the profiles or others, but lacking the ability to edit your own profile or message other users.

Apple launches official Support app for iOS in U.S.

After releasing its Apple Support app in the Netherlands last month, Apple has now made it available to U.S. customers, allowing users to search for troubleshooting information, and call, chat or email with Apple support staff. The app keeps a list of all the devices associated with a user’s Apple ID and provides other handy features, including the ability to schedule callbacks, make appointments for repairs at an Apple Store or Authorized Service Provider, and view logs of all the customer service interactions they’ve had with Apple.

Apple offering hands-on demos of Super Mario Run in stores

In advance of Nintendo’s Dec. 15 iOS release of Super Mario Run, Apple is now offering playable demos of the game on display iPhone and iPad units in Apple retail stores. Nintendo has also been promoting the title, with an appearance by Nintendo U.S. head Reggie Fils-Aimé on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last night, who led a TV demo and allowed Fallon to run through a level of the game.

Apple makes its picks for best iPhone, iPad and Apple TV apps of 2016

Apple has revealed its “Best of 2016” picks for the apps, movies, TV shows and books sold in its App Stores and iTunes. The company chose the photo editing app Prisma as its iPhone App of the Year (as did we), calling the app’s ability to turn photos into works of art “almost too cool for words.” MSQRD, with its live photo and video filters, took the runner-up spot. Clash Royale was named iPhone Game of the Year, followed by runner-up Reigns, with Pokémon GO getting a special distinction as the Breakout Hit of 2016.

Apple enables Single Sign-On across all iOS 10 and tvOS 10 devices

Apple has enabled its promised Single Sign-On service for all devices running at least iOS 10 or tvOS 10, despite it only previously appearing in the iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1 betas. The service is only accessible to users in the United States, with eight providers currently on board: CenturyLink Prism, DirecTV, Dish, GTA, Hawaiian Telecom, Hotwire, MetroCast, and Sling TV. The Single Sign-On allows subscribers of any of these supported providers to log in with the credentials from their cable/satellite account to access content in supported content apps without having to authenticate to each app separately — apps will simply request the user’s permission to access saved sign-on credentials when first using the app. Note that content provider apps will need to be specifically updated by their developers to add support for Single Sign-On as well. Hopefully, now that the feature is live, we see more cable/satellite providers added to Single Sign-On, as the list is relatively short at this time.

Developers pushing back against abusers of Apple’s App Store refund policy

Apple’s full control of its App Store refund policy has drawn the ire of developers who say the company is allowing users to abuse loopholes to cheat them, The Korea Times reports. Apple independently determines whether customers get refunds, with developers unable to even obtain information about users that receive the refunds. That forces developers to track down users manually to ensure they’re not still using the content for which they’ve received refunds. The disconnect has allowed unscrupulous users to buy paid content multiple times, request refunds, and then continue using the content without paying for it.

Apple Store app update allows purchases from Apple Watch

Apple has released an update to the Apple Store app, adding the ability for users to purchase accessories directly from their Apple Watch, as well as support for iOS 10 rich notifications. The Apple Watch app doesn’t yet provide access to the full Apple Store catalog, so users will be limited to purchasing accessories that they’ve already marked as favorites from the iOS app or Apple Store web page, and will need to pay using Apple Pay. As with other features in the Apple Store app, Apple notes that not all features may be available in all countries, so it’s unclear where Apple Watch accessory purchases will be available, or whether only certain products are eligible.

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