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Apple updates iWork apps with autocorrect improvements, hundreds of new shapes

Apple has updated its free Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps on iOS and Mac, adding autocorrect improvements and a library of more than 500 professionally drawn shapes that can be used in presentations and documents. There are also new options for replying to comments and joining in on threaded conversations, improvements to pan and zoom functionality, and an updated ability to add the most recent stock and currency information that syncs up with the previous day’s market closings. The iOS version of Keynote also received the Light Table view that was already featured on Mac, and both versions can now edit presenter notes while still in the Light Table view.

Sony’s PlayLink games will use iOS devices as PS4 controllers

The new line of PlayLink games for PS4 announced by Sony today at E3 will use the touchscreen and cameras on iOS devices as controllers. The new titles are designed to be played in group settings and range from quiz-show style games and choose-your-own-adventure detective thrillers to arcade-style minigames and karaoke singing using the device’s microphone. After downloading the companion app, a user’s iOS device will provide the ability to “swipe, pinch, drag, tilt, rotate or even snap selfies and draw crafty doodles, depending on the game.”

Apple eliminates ability to use custom prompts for app review requests going forward

After rolling out the ability to use its StoreKit API to simplify in-app review prompts in iOS 10.3, Apple’s App Store Review guidelines now say the company will no longer allow custom prompts going forward. The new process allows the user to leave a rating and/or review without ever leaving the app and eliminates the need for developers to write their own code to create the review prompt, but there are also drawbacks. Apple now limits the maximum number of requests to three per year and prevents apps from prompting too frequently, where before it was at the whim of the developer. [via 9to5Mac]

Ad loophole in App Store search is letting scammers promote expensive, useless apps

A new post on Medium shows just how easy it is for scammers to use Apple’s App Store Search Ads to dupe users into paying hundreds of dollars for undelivered services from useless apps. Author Johnny Lin came across one app in particular — “Mobile protection :Clean & Security VPN” — that raised his attention with multiple misspellings and poor grammar in its listing, but still somehow managed to take in $80,000 a month in revenue and rank 10th in the App Store’s top grossing productivity apps list. After downloading, the app requests access to contacts and provides useless features like checking the phone’s available space and memory. Pressing the “Secure Internet” option — theoretically what people download the app to do — leads to a game pop-up ad and then to a “Free Trial” button that actually leads to a Touch ID prompt that will enroll the user in a $100-per-week subscription for a virus scanning service the app isn’t even able to provide because of how Apple sandboxes third-party apps.

Fox Now app adds FX and National Geographic content

Fox Networks has updated its Fox Now app for iOS and Apple TV, adding shows from FX and National Geographic in addition to the normal set of Fox content. Available in the U.S., the Fox Now app requires that users already subscribe to an existing pay-TV service, and provides access to up to 500 hours of content across the network’s brands, including current episodes and seasons. The separate FXNow and Nat Geo apps will still be available. Fox Now will also be expanding its platform later this year to a wide range of other devices, including the older third-generation Apple TV. [via Variety]

Anki announces global launch of Cozmo

Anki has announced that its robotic sidekick, Cozmo, will be launching in Canada this July, followed by a broader rollout in the U.K., France, Germany, and Nordic countries later this year. Best known for its Anki Drive that took the stage at WWDC 2013 four years ago, Anki is a robotics and AI company that aims to bring cutting-edge technology to consumer experiences. Released in the U.S. last fall, Aniki’s newest product, Cozmo, is a sophisticated consumer robot that was built by a world-class team of roboticists, animators, and game developers to create an interactive experience powered by advanced AI. Cozmo not only responds to interactive commands, but uses learning algorithms to adapt its behaviour to its experiences and interactions with its owner, exhibiting an endearing personality in the process through complex facial expressions displayed on its OLED face, as well as face detection algorithms that allow Cozmo to recognize people and pets and respond to them in different ways.

Apple stops returning search results for 32-bit apps, hints at new Files app

Apple is no longer returning search results for 32-bit apps in the App Store, signaling an increased push to move users entirely to 64-bit apps ahead of iOS 11, 9to5Mac reports. Apple has been warning users that 32-bit apps won’t be compatible with “future versions of iOS” and the company has only been accepting 64-bit new app submissions since Feb. 1, 2015. They’ve also been forcing app updates to follow the same requirements since June 1, 2015, so 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. Well-connected developer Steve Troughton-Smith claims Apple’s future A-series chips won’t support 32-bit apps at all, making it a hardware issue in addition to a software problem. Taking all 32-bit apps out of the App Store’s search means they will now only be accessible through direct links, putting added pressure on any developers who haven’t yet updated their offerings before it’s too late.

Plex adds Live TV support

Plex has announced the expansion of its Plex DVR feature with support for streaming live TV programming using a supported tuner. Plex DVR, debuted last fall as a premium feature, allowed Plex Pass users to schedule recordings directly into Plex Media Server using an external tuner. Today’s announcement takes this a step further by allowing users to tune into available live TV programming directly through the Plex Media Server into the Plex iOS app, with support for the tvOS version apparently to come. Previously, while users could record programs using the Plex DVR, a program couldn’t be viewed until the recording was finished. The update also adds in-app DVR management to allow users to browse the program guide and manage recordings directly from the Plex iOS app, and the company has also expanded its supported tuners beyond the HDHomeRun, adding several more to the list, including models from Hauppauge, AVerMedia, and DVBLogic.

Apple releases WWDC app update ahead of next week’s event

Apple has released a big update to its companion app for the 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference, scheduled to begin next Monday. WWDC 6.0 features a number of significant improvements, including the ability to use almost all of the features in the app without signing in with an Apple ID. The app now provides curated video playlists based on featured themes, a new “Venue” tab that provides information on the venue, and interactive venue and street maps for the local area. The update also adds an iMessage app that provides some exclusive stickers for WWDC attendees to share.

1Password adds ‘Travel Mode’ to help protect data during border crossings

AgileBits has announced a new “Travel Mode” feature for 1Password that will help to keep confidential data such as passwords, credit cards, and secure notes, safe from unwarranted searches when travelling. The new feature, which is free to all 1Password subscribers, allows users to automatically and completely remove password vaults from their devices with a single click before travelling, and then just as easily restoring them later. Travel Mode is engaged from the 1Password.com web site rather than an option within any of the 1Password apps, so vaults cannot be restored from the apps themselves. By default, all vaults are removed when Travel Mode is engaged, however individual vaults can be flagged as “Safe for Travel” which will leave them on the device, so users can maintain a vault of only those items that they need when travelling, while ensuring all other data remains securely locked away on 1Password.com and not on the local device. In addition, administrators of 1Password for Teams accounts can specify which vaults are safe for travel as well as administratively turning travel mode on or off for individual users.

Google launches The Google Assistant, announces Google Photos improvements

At Google’s annual Google I/O conference, the company announced several Google product enhancements coming to its iOS offerings, including the release of The Google Assistant, improvements coming to Google Photos, and a new Smart Reply feature for Gmail on iOS.

As rumoured earlier this week, Google took the wraps off The Google Assistant today, announcing its availability on any iPhone running iOS 9.1 or later. Google also announced several general enhancements to the service that will also be available on iOS, including the ability to schedule new calendar appointments and create reminders using Google Home, making hands-free calls to mobile and landline phones in Canada and the U.S. for free, and access music, movies, and TV shows from Spotify, Soundcloud, Deezer, HBO NOW, CBS All Access, and HGTV. Assistant is also coming to Chromecast later this year, providing visual responses on users’ TV screens. Google also announced plans to add a new feature, dubbed Google Lens, to Assistant to allow users to take action based on data from their iPhone camera, such as reading a marquee to pull up relevant concert information. Google Assistant remains available only in the U.S. for now, however Google also announced that it plans to roll the service out to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan later this year.

Google Assistant reportedly coming to iOS soon

Siri is about to have some more competition, with Google Assistant set to release on iOS “soon,” according to Android Police. A source said the announcement could come as soon as this week’s Google I/O conference. The report is short on details, but speculates that the app could feature a blend of the voice-activated version on Android devices and the chat-style functionality see in Google’s Allo messaging app. The app is expected to only be available in the US at launch. [via 9to5Mac]

Legend of Zelda game coming to iOS

Nintendo will be adding a Legend of Zelda game to its growing list of iOS titles, The Wall Street Journal reports. Sources said the game is set to be released after the iOS Animal Crossing title debuts later this year, but warned that Nintendo could always change the timing and order of its releases. The Animal Crossing game has already been delayed once. No information on pricing was mentioned, and the company has dabbled in different pricing models, with Super Mario Run costing $10 but other games only charging for in-app purchases. Sources also said The Pokémon Company is planning a new card-game app after the runaway success of Pokémon Go, but neither Nintendo nor The Pokémon Company commented on the story.

Twitter and NFL to stream year-round live daily programming worldwide

Twitter and the National Football League have announced a new partnership that would have the social media service streaming “uniquely packaged” official NFL content worldwide and on a daily basis throughout the year. Twitter released an Apple TV app last fall, on the heels of a deal with the NFL to stream Thursday Night Football games, and with this new partnership, the NFL and Twitter will now be cooperating to expand NFL content to include video clips that provide game highlights, breaking news, analysis, and “Throwback Thursday” along with a 30-minute live digital show that will air five days per week during the NFL season to cover breaking news, game highlights, and more, as well as live pre-game coverage during the season. [via iPhone in Canada]

Support app now allows scheduling repairs at authorized service providers

Apple has added authorized service providers to its iOS Support app, allowing users to schedule repairs at those locations in the same way they would at a Genius Bar. The move brings the app in line with Apple’s support site — which made a similar change at the end of last year — and allows service locations to be sorted by distance, carrier and appointment availability. The update also added support for iOS 10 rich notifications when chatting with technical support.

Apple acquires Beddit sleep monitoring system

Apple has acquired the Beddit Sleep Monitor system, according to an update to the company’s privacy policy. Beddit’s system includes an app that syncs up with a ribbon-shaped sensor placed between a user’s mattress and sheet to monitor everything from heart rate and breathing to room temperature and snoring. The app then provides tips on how to improve the user’s sleep based on the collected data, and Beddit’s site now touts the ability to link its own app to the iPhone’s Health app through HealthKit. The move further underscores Apple’s ambitious push into health monitoring technology, hinted at last year by CEO Tim Cook when he admitted that the Apple Watch might not be the only device needed to meet his ultimate vision. “The holy grail of the watch is being able to monitor more and more of what’s going on in your body,” Cook said at Startup Fest Europe. “If you could have a device that knew so much about you, it would be incredible, and would extend life and extend quality. I’m not saying one device will do all of that.”

Apple restores Workflow features, adds Apple Music actions

Apple’s latest version of the Workflow automation app has added back in support for Google Chrome and Pocket along with brand new actions using Apple Music. The app — which allows users to tie together functions from various apps to perform automated processes — now features actions for “Add Music to Up Next” and “Clear Up Next” to quickly reset or add music to Apple Music’s playlist. While Apple has added support for some Google software back in, Workflow still limits map-related actions to Apple Maps instead of the popular Google Maps app, and other actions using Uber, Telegram, and LINE are also still unavailable. [via MacRumors]

Apple clarifies changes to commissions from affiliate links to in-app purchases

Apple has issued a clarification to the company’s new policy for commissions paid to affiliates linking to apps, explaining that “commissions for all iOS in-app purchases will be reduced from 7 percent to 2.5 percent globally.” Last month Apple told affiliate members they would see the reduction on “all app and in-app content,” but the new statement limits the cut to in-app purchases only. The iTunes Affiliate program allows online outlets to claim the commissions if readers click on an embedded link and actually follow through with a purchase. For the time being Apple says “all other content types (including music, movies, books, paid iOS apps and TV) will remain at the current 7 percent.”

Amazon Prime Video may finally be coming to Apple TV

Apple and Amazon are close to an agreement which would bring Amazon’s Prime Video app to the Apple TV, according to a new report from Recode. According to people familiar with the two companies, Amazon employees are expecting that the tvOS app could arrive in the third quarter of the year, allowing Amazon Prime Video subscribers to stream TV shows and movies to Apple’s set-top box. Currently, Amazon does provide an iOS app that will allow users to stream to the Apple TV using AirPlay, but it lacks the elegance and simplicity of a native tvOS app. It’s unclear what has prompted this sudden change of heart for Amazon, which has snubbed the Apple TV for almost two years now, beginning with banning sales of the Apple TV and other products competing with its own Fire TV hardware back in Oct. 2015. While many hoped for an Amazon Prime Video app when the new app-enabled fourth-generation Apple TV arrived around the same time, Amazon remained the one major holdout — a decision that, according to Apple, was entirely up to Amazon.

Hulu with Live TV app lands on App Store

The iOS app for Hulu’s live TV service has appeared on the App Store with little fanfare. The apps will allow subscribers to the service to stream more than 50 live and on-demand channels, including Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, ESPN, History Channel and TNT. Live TV can also be recorded via a cloud-based DVR for viewing any time, and concurrent streams can be viewed on multiple devices. The service offers up to six personalized profiles so that users within a household can curate their own show, network and movie picks, and the system makes its own recommendations as it learns what users like to watch. The app itself is free to download, but access to the service requires a $40 a month subscription after a one-week free trial (or $44 a month to get rid of commercials). While Hulu’s official guide lists the service as being available on Apple TV as well, there’s currently no tvOS app available.

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