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The day that changed your phone forever

Craig Hockenberry Contributor Share on Twitter Craig Hockenberry has been creating software since 1976 and is a principal at the Iconfactory It’s the 10-year anniversary of the original iPhone SDK. I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that this release changed a lot of people’s lives. I know it changed mine and had a fundamental […]

Apple adds an M. Night Shyamalan thriller to its roster of original shows

Apple will apparently have every kind of show from anyone with any kind of name working in Hollywood when it launches its updated approach to original video content: The latest original on its slate is a 10-epsiode, half-hour thriller series order that will be executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, who is also going to direct the first installment (via Variety). The thriller is being written by writer Tony Basgallop, who wrote 24: Live Another Day and 24: Legacy (so he is familiar with action-packed TV productions). There’s not much else we know about the show at this stage, beyond that it’s described as a “psychological thriller,” which makes sense given that Shyamalan is attached. The Unbreakable director’s latest foray into TV, ‘Wayward Pines,’ just ended after a two-season run, but last year’s Split was a hit and will lead into the forthcoming sequel Glass. Meanwhile, Apple’s upcoming original TV slate is looking positively packed, and includes a Reese Witherspoon/Jennifer Aniston hour-long drama about morning news shows, a sci-fi show from the creator of ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ an ‘Amazing Stories’ reboot from Steven Spielberg and a bunch more.

Watch Apple’s iPad education event here

Apple didn’t livestream this morning’s education event at Lane Tech High School in Chicago, so reading along live was the next best thing. Thankfully, for those who weren’t crammed into the auditorium seating with the rest of us, the whole shebang is now online and viewable through Apple’s site. The event was, as expected, focused entirely on Apple’s education play, as the company looks to reassert itself in school in the wake of the massive success of Chromebooks. Tim Cook and company took a deep dive into the software solutions aimed helping teachers streamline the in-class iPad usage, along with the various ways in which mainstream Apple apps like Clips and Garage Band are being used in the class. And then, of course, there are those new, cheap, iPads.

The PGA Tour is bringing live golf courses to your coffee table via Apple’s...

If you thought that televised gold was just about as technologically advanced as it was ever going to be, it’d be understandable, but you’d be oh so wrong. The PGA Tour is showcasing a new augmented reality app that will utilize Apple’s ARKit platform to let users visualize courses and holes in their living rooms […]

Tim Cook addresses Facebook privacy, U.S./China relations at Beijing event

Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked of this year’s China Development Forum in Beijing today with an address that hit on a number of hot button topics, user privacy concerns and a looming U.S./China trade war. The executive touched on privacy regulations, in the wake of a breech of trust that found Cambridge Analytica harvesting information from 50 million Facebook users. “I think that this certain situation is so dire and has become so large that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary,” Cook is quoted as saying, in a report from Bloomberg. “The ability of anyone to know what you’ve been browsing about for years, who your contacts are, who their contacts are, things you like and dislike and every intimate detail of your life — from my own point of view it shouldn’t exist.” The specter of privacy concerns has, of course, been a hot button topic for Apple over the decades, particularly as devices and apps demand more and more of our personal information. Late last year, for instance, then Senator Al Franken pressed the company over Face ID — a subject to which Apple quickly responded. Cook’s statement reflects similar comments Steve Jobs made about privacy back in 2010 and an event where Mark Zuckerberg was also speaking. “Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain English, and repeatedly,” Jobs said. “I’m an optimist; I believe people are smart, and some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of your asking them. Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data.” In his own address, Cook noted that many of the concerns around what companies might do with all of the personal data “has come true more than once.” Cook also addressed growing tensions between the U.S. and China, a market that has been increasingly important to Apple’s bottom line — and, of course, a place where much of the company’s manufacturing occurs. “My belief is that businesses should be engaged with governments in countries where they are doing business, whether they agree or disagree,” Cook said, according to Reuters. Tensions between the two countries have only grown more heated in recent days. Just this week, the Trump administration announced plans to place $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, with the burden landing heavily on electronics.

Apple’s Shazam takeover triggers competition review in Europe

The European Commission has announced a review of Apple’s acquisition of music discovery service Shazam — agreeing to a request made by several countries to weigh competition concerns. Apple officially announced it was buying UK tech veteran Shazam back in December. It did not disclose the price-tag for the deal but sources suggest it’s paying in the region of $400 million. At the time it described its Apple Music streaming service and Shazam’s music discovery offering — aka an algorithmic music recognition engine that can ID whole tracks just by listening to a few seconds — as “a natural fit”, adding: “We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement.” In a press release today the Commission said it had accepted a request by seven European countries to assess the proposed acquisition — which it says “may threaten to adversely affect competition in the EEA” (European Economic Area). A provision in EU law allows Member States to submit a request to the executive body to examine a merger that does not have an EU dimension — on account of it not meeting the turnover thresholds set by the EU Merger Regulation — but which nonetheless affects trade within the EU Single Market and threatens to significantly affect competition within the territory of the countries making the request. The EC said EU Member State Austria submitted the initial request, with Iceland, Italy, France, Norway, Spain and Sweden joining subsequently. “On the basis of the elements submitted by Austria and the countries joining the referral request, and without prejudice to the outcome of its full investigation, the Commission considers that the transaction may have a significant adverse effect on competition in the European Economic Area,” it writes. “The Commission has also concluded that it is the best placed authority to deal with the potential cross-border effects of the transaction.” The Commission added that it will now ask Apple to notify the transaction. We’ve reached out to Apple for comment and will update this post with any response. Featured Image: TechCrunch

Apple is holding an education event March 27

Apple has a long legacy of providing services to schools and teachers, but the industry has shifted in recent years as the Chromebook has completely changed the way classrooms work. The company is no doubt looking to take back some of that mindshare. This morning, it sent out invites for an event, asking attendees to, “take a field trip.” The event, which is slated for the Chicago-area March 27, promises to offer “creative new ideas.” Is it a hardware launch? Perhaps something akin to the event Microsoft held roughly this time last year, where it launched Windows 10 S and the new Surface Laptop? The iPad has long been the centerpiece of Apple’s education strategy, so it seems like a safe bet that we’ll be seeing something related to that line. In fact, the educational element has been baked into the product’s pitch since launch. While the tablet market hasn’t exactly been catching the world on fire of late (in fact, it’s been declining), Apple’s slate is still a bright spot in the declining category. The iPad certainly seems ready for a refresh, and rumors have been arriving from all sorts of strange places pointing to new devices on the way. Of course, even if new hardware does arrive, the event will no doubt be about more than just devices. Apple’s been showcasing some interesting software solutions that help give educators and school IT departments more control over individual tablets, along with a new slate of educational apps. Likely the company with showcase products in the hands of students and make the case for why its premium offerings are ultimately the better solution than the Chromebooks that have flooded the educational market in recent years — and for that matter, those $289 Windows S laptops. Apple could have chosen any day to announce the event, of course. Surely it’s just a coincidence that the invites dropped the same day Samsung’s latest flagship hits the market, right?

Follow along live from the Apple education iPad event in Chicago

Apple held an education focused event in Chicago today at Lane Technical High School. CEO Tim Cook took the stage and began his announcements with a nod to the student marches that occurred this week in support of gun control. Cook praised Lane Tech High for having more PHDs coming out of it than any school in the country and highlighted its programming and robotics efforts. Cook says that Apple has had an education focus for 40 years, from the early days of the company. “We believe that technology could help deliver a truly unique and personalized experience to students and teachers.” Cook highlighted Apple’s efforts to increase coding efforts and opportunities to vocational schools and high schools including the City Colleges of Chicago with Swift and Swift playgrounds. Cathleen Richardson ConnectED Program Development Executive at Apple works with classes and teachers to put Apple devices into classrooms. She took the stage to give some examples. The program is clearly focused on Apple positioning itself as a global supplier of educational instruments and processes to classrooms. Programs in China and London were highlighted. This event should be viewed in the context that according to FutureSource, new machines running Google software accounted for about 60 percent of what U.S. classrooms received. Apple’s iOS held 12.3 percent and its MacOS had 4.7 percent. Apple’s Greg Joswiak took the stage to talk about iPad. Joz hasn’t been out on the platform for a hardware launch in a while. He continues the thread of talking about iPad in classrooms allowing students to use them for robotics, music and other kinds of projects. Joz quotes 200,000 ‘apps for education’ on the App Store. Cassie Williams from Woodberry Down Primary School in London comes on the stage to talk about iPad being implemented in the classrooms that she teaches in. Up to this point we’ve gotten a lot of Apple talking points about iPad and Apple in schools, basically. Now, we get a new 9.7″ iPad focused on the education market that can use Apple Pencil just like iPad Pro. Apple also introduced a new version of Pages, Numbers and Keynote that support Apple Pencil drawings and editing. Apple also previewed a feature called Smart Annotation that can mark up a student’s paper right in the Pages app. This feature is still in beta. Digital book creation also comes to iPad with this new version of iWork. Apple’s new iPad 9.7″ uses the A10 fusion chip appears in the new iPad. Joz also specifically mentioned that this was more powerful than many Chromebooks. The fact that he chose to mention Chromebooks specifically is surprising, but not shocking given the above context. This is the war that Apple is waging in the classroom. The iPad is AR capable, and he highlighted some apps that allow students to view museum pieces and artwork. Another app lets students modify interactive landscapes and view them in augmented reality. The new iPad is the same $329 for consumers and $299 for schools. For sale this week and new iWork apps available this week. Starting today, student Apple IDs come with 200GB of iCloud storage, up from 5GB. Some new accessories come for the iPad too like Logitech Crayon, a $49 Pencil alternative for schools. Now we’re on to teacher-focused tool announcements. Classroom, the iPad app that lets teachers manage their students and classrooms is coming to the Mac. It’s available as beta in June. There’s a new app for teachers too, called Schoolwork. Schoolwork is a cloud based app that lets you assign handouts, apps and assignments to students. It lets you track handouts for the class and send them. In addition, Schoolwork lets teachers assign a specific activity inside of an app, instead of just a whole app. This way they can dive into how a student is completing activities within an app as well, along with detailed views of how the whole classroom is doing in these activities. Privacy is emphasized here. Teachers can see student activity but Apple cannot. The data stays within the system, inaccessible to Apple. Subtext: unlike some other companies. Apple is updating Swift’s tutorials as well with a new module that allows students to create augmented reality apps and experiments. Kasia Derza from Mariano Azuela Elemetary in Chicago came on stage to talk about coding in the classroom. She says she initially used block-based coding tutorials, which worked fine but has transitioned to Swift Playgrounds because there is a more direct correlation between common tasks and coding. Playgrounds is a strong advantage for Apple in the learn to code space as there’s no other tool that’s as advanced and that also uses the exact language used to build a major platform’s apps. We’re honestly back into the evangelism and classroom examples portion of this presentation, which has been very heavy with teachers saying how powerful and exciting and enabling various Apple apps and products are. Teaching kids with apps, teaching teachers to teach kids with apps, etc. It’s all very inspiring and wonderful and great – and I’m not being snarky – but it is getting to be a bit much all in one lump. I love that kids are getting a more technology-rich education and Apple’s software is certainly far, far more robust these days than it used to be for the classroom. I’d certainly love to use the tools if I was a teacher or learn this way as a student. But the reality is that real classrooms not fully Apple embedded are more a pastiche of tools and applications and all of them have their own embedded interests and benefits. In short, there is a lot of fluff in this event presentation, but it’s fluff that’s hard to get too down on because Apple’s vision of an enabled classroom is inspiring as hell. Cynics will say, sells more iPads. Optimists will say, at least someone is trying to drag the average classroom forward into a more creative, polished space. Tim Cook wraps up the event with a speech about how Apple is bundling this vision together with the new iPad, teacher and student tools and coding curriculum. “We believe that our place at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts allows us to create powerful products and tools that enable students and teachers.” Follow along and refresh this post for more.

There’s no App Store ’emoji apocalypse,’ just inconsistent policy enforcement

A number of iOS app developers have been mystified by a new wave of app rejections related to their use of Apple’s emojis. They’ve suspected that a new App Store crackdown is underway. However, the company hasn’t changed its policy on Apple emoji usage in apps, nor its enforcement, according to sources familiar with the App Store review team’s processes. The policy does seem to be inconsistently enforced at times, though. That’s led to previously approved apps receiving rejections, while other apps in breach of policy have been let in. Specifically, Apple told some developers who used its emoji in their apps that they were in violation of the 5.2.5 “Intellectual Property” guideline. For example, one rejection notice read: “Your app and app’s metadata include Apple emoji which creates a misleading association with Apple products.” The site Emojipedia, which covers the broader emoji ecosystem, recently detailed some of the newer examples of apps facing rejections, including Github client GitHawk, bitcoin wallet tracker Bittracker,matching game Reaction Match, emoji-based game Moji Match, and others. As Emojipedia had determined, we’ve confirmed that Apple will only allow apps using emojis in specific contexts, like in a text field. Meanwhile, any other usage should be banned by App Review, including when emoji are used as elements in a game, as replacements for buttons or other parts of the app’s user interface, as sticker packs, in app logos or icons, or in promotional images, also as Emojipedia had suspected, based on the pattern of rejections. While emojis exist as part of the Unicode standard, Apple’s implementation of that standard is copyrighted. That means the company is within its legal right to control the usage of their own emoji designs, especially in their own App Store. However, Emojipedia founder Jeremy Burge takes issue with the fact that Apple should have such a policy around its emoji at all. “It seems reasonable to me that Apple would want some level of control over emoji use in the App Store, but banning it outright from anything other user-inputted text feels a step too far in my opinion,” he says. That said, Apple’s decision to reject apps based on their use of Apple emoji is not a new occurrence. If you go back far enough on Twitter, you’ll findmany examples of developerscomplaining about the same thing over the past couple of years. iPhone X update for Reaction Match out soon ????. First attempt was rejected at app review for including emoji on the leaderboard ???? – they have always been there… ???? — Eddie Lee (@eddielee6) December 4, 2017 App Store Review just rejected the Binary of the newest version of @getBittracker because we use emoji in the app and therefore apparently broke copyright rules. Yep, that’s true. We’re talking about emojis in screenshots, but more importantly also within the app as raw text. pic.twitter.com/Ayx1HFFbnj — Sam Eckert (@Sam0711er) January 31, 2018 Apple now rejecting an expedited @githawk review for using EMOJI in screenshots? This is a fucking joke. pic.twitter.com/Q3gplTDB47 — Ryan Nystrom (@_ryannystrom) January 23, 2018 Rejected again????. Apple is very serious about No-Emoji rule or reviewer is picking on me. Do you notice the daring emoji? I didn't myself. pic.twitter.com/QnIBfGQGnj — an0 (@an0) November 5, 2017 My app got rejected because it used Apple's emoji. I figured those were standard iOS elements and were fair game. Look, here's one now: ???? — Josh Johnson (@secondfret) March 24, 2017 @Apple rejected my app update because there's an Emoji in the app icon. Are we not allowed to use emojis? Apps use them all the time ???? — Yariv Nissim (@yar1vn) February 14, 2017 So an update to my app got rejected because I used an Apple emoji as a logo. Down to lunch does the same thing https://t.co/Dkeq0n1ayj — Harry Tormey (@htormey) October 25, 2016 the Moj update got rejected because it's too similar to Apple's emoji pic.twitter.com/01WxFLcgf4 — rahcel (@COMETHRUGIRL) October 17, 2016 Adding to the more recent confusion, as Emojipedia also pointed out in its reporting, was the fact that Apple’s own app development course on coding using Swift offers an example of an app with emojis that seems to breach its policy. Apple demonstrates using emoji in their Everyone Can Code / App Development with Swift courses FYI. pic.twitter.com/oXGz7CPA8B — Andrew Briscoe (@andrew_briscoe) February 5, 2018 The real issue here is that the App Review team has not consistently enforced the policies around Apple emoji use. In addition, Apple it doesn’t speak up to clear the air when it’s aware developers are confused. That leads to a situation where developers will just try to sneak their app through, even though it seems to be in violation of the guidelines. (That sometimes works, too.) But in the end, it wastes developers’ time because they later may get caught by App Review. They then have to go back and overhaul their app to address the problem at a much later stage of development. Apple declined to comment about the emoji-related rejections. Featured Image: Frank Behrens/Flickr UNDER A CC BY-SA 2.0 LICENSE

iOS 11’s new App Store boosts downloads by 800% for Featured apps

When Apple launched its new App Store in iOS 11 back in September, it aimed to offer app developers better exposure, as well as a better app discovery experience for consumers. A new study from Sensor Tower out today takes a look at how well that’s been working in the months since. According to its findings, getting a featured spot on the new App Store can increase downloads by as much as 800 percent, with the “App of the Day” or “Game of the Day” spots offering the most impact. The app store intelligence firm examined data from September 2017 to present day to come to its conclusions, it says. During this time, median U.S. iPhone downloads for apps that snagged the “Game of the Day” spot increased by 802 percent for the week following the feature, compared to the week prior to being featured. “App of the Day” apps saw a boost of 685 percent. Being featured in other ways — like in one of the new App Store Stories or in an App List — also drove downloads higher, by 222 percent and 240 percent, respectively. The numbers seem to indicate that Apple is achieving the results it wanted with the release of its redesigned App Store. Over the years, Apple’s app marketplace had grown so large that finding new apps had become challenging. And developers sometimes found ways to bump their apps higher in the top charts for exposure, leaving iPhone owners wondering if a new app was really that popular, or if it was some sort of paid promotion. The iOS 11 App Store, on the other hand, has taken more of an editorial viewpoint to its app recommendations. While the top charts haven’t gone away, the focus these days is on what Apple thinks is best — not the wisdom of the masses. Apple has applied its editorial eye to things like timely round-ups of apps; curated, thematic collections; as well as articles about apps and interviews with developers. Apple also picks an app and game to feature daily, so the App Store always has fresh content and a reason for users to return. The end result is something that’s more akin to a publication about apps, instead of a just an app marketplace. What’s most interesting, then, in Sensor Tower’s report, are what sort of app publishers Apple has chosen to feature. Apple had touted the App Store changes would be a way to give smaller developers more exposure. But if you’ve popped into the App Store from time to time, you may have noticed that big publishers — not indies — were having their apps featured. In fact, an early report about the App Store revamp criticized Apple for giving big publishers too much attention. It said that apps from brands like Starbucks and CBS, or game makers like EA and Glu, weren’t exactly hurting for downloads. But Apple’s favoring of big publishers is only true to a point, says Sensor Tower. It found that 13 of the top 15 featured publishers (by number of features) had at least one million U.S. iPhone downloads since the launch of the new App Store last September. It’s not surprising that Apple wants to highlight these publishers. Many of them, and particularly the game publishers, have multiple popular apps. So when their apps get an update or they have a new release, consumers pay attention. Apple, of course, wants to capitalize on that consumer interest because it shares in the revenue app publishers generate through things like paid downloads, in-app purchases and subscriptions. However, Apple isn’t only giving the limelight to large publishers, says Sensor Tower. It also found that 29 percent of the apps it has featured since the launch of the revamped App Store were from publishers who had fewer than 10,000 downloads during that time. “While it’s clearly the case that big publishers are more likely to receive the largest number of features, small publishers still very much have their chance to benefit from a feature on the App Store,” said Sensor Tower’s Mobile Insights Analyst, Jonathan Briskman. Though Sensor Tower’s published report focused only on the iOS App Store, it’s worth noting how it compares with Google Play. Getting a featured spot on Google’s app store isn’t as impactful, the firm tells TechCrunch. The largest week-over-week increase to the median it saw there was only around 200 percent. Image credits, all: Sensor Tower