Posts with «mobile apps» label

Apple says apps must offer a way to delete your account starting in early 2022

Developers who let users create an account in their iOS, iPadOS and macOS apps will soon have to offer people a method of deleting their accounts in apps too. Apple says that as of January 31st, all app submissions (including updates) will need to include the option.

The company announced this requirement alongside other App Store guideline changes at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in June as part of a push to give users more control over their data. As The Verge notes, Apple is only requiring developers to let people "initiate deletion of their account from within the app," so apps might send you to a website or even a chat with an agent before you can actually close your account.

It remains to be seen how useful this requirement will actually be in practice, given the tricks many developers employ to encourage you to remain as a user. Still, if you have an account in an app, deleting it will be slightly less of a headache, which can't be a bad thing. This will hopefully make it easier for people to ditch subscriptions and apps they aren't actually using. 

Elsewhere, App Store pages on iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey (which is still in beta) now have a Report a Problem button, so you can flag any issues or concerns you have with an app to Apple. The feature is available in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US for now. Apple will roll out the button to more regions later.

Apple makes it easier to report bad apps and scams

Following reports that revealed that a significant percentage of top App Store apps were scams, Apple is allowing users to report such behavior, according to The Verge. As part of iOS 15, the latest App Store update lets you "report a scam or fraud" for both free, in-app purchase (IAP) and paid apps, provided you've installed the app in question. 

The feature, detailed by Kosta Eleftheriou and Richard Mazkewich on Twitter, goes even farther than the previous "Report a Problem" feature. You can now signal a scam or a fraud and not just “Report suspicious activity,” “Report a quality issue," “Request a refund” or “Find my content” as before. Previously, you would have also needed to make an in-app purchase before you could highlight a scam or fraud, but that's no longer the case. 

The "Report a problem" feature itself returned to individual app listings for the first time in years, as The Verge pointed out. Prior to that, it was located at the bottom of the Apps or Games tabs and would send you to a separate website. 

Apple essentially foreshadowed the changes when it released new App Store Review Guidelines in June. Several sections included changes that saw Apple taking a tougher stance on fraud, scams and developer misconduct, TechCrunch noted at the time. 

Bad apps found on the Store included VPNs that duped customers into buying unneeded software, bad dating apps, QR readers and apps fraudulently claiming to be from major brands, the Washington Post revealed earlier this year. The apps may have defrauded users out of an estimated $48 million, according to the Post's estimates. 

Apple finally lets you rate its apps on the App Store

You've the option to re-download Apple's in-house apps for a while, but you haven't been allowed to write App Store reviews for them like you can for third-party titles. Apple is now treating its apps more as equals, though. 9to5Macnotes Apple has quietly enabled App Store ratings and reviews for its own software. If you want to laud improvements to Maps or trash Mail, you can.

The volume of reviews is relatively low compared to equivalent third-party apps that have been around for years, like Gmail or Google Maps. However, it won't surprise you to hear the ratings are relatively low. Apple's Podcasts client is sitting at two stars as of this writing, while Apple News is sitting at 2.3 stars. Maps has only partly mended its early reputation with a three-star rating. Like with third-party software, some customers are using the ratings and reviews to gripe about technical issues instead of design.

The change treats Apple's apps more fairly, and might even be useful to help the company spot and respond to criticism. It might likewise see this as another way to improve public perception of the App Store. On top of an Epic lawsuit that could soon force Apple to alter App Store policies, the iPhone maker has preemptively stopped favoring its own apps in rankings and reduced its cut of small developers' apps revenues. Ratings and reviews won't dramatically change Apple's image, but they likely won't hurt. 

YouTube Music with offline listening comes to Wear OS 2

YouTube Music is rolling out to some Wear OS 2 smartwatches starting today. Gen 6 smartwatches from Fossil and Michael Kors will be able to stream music from the service, as will Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 GPS, Pro 3 Cellular/LTE and E3 models. The app was previously released for Wear OS 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.

It's the first YouTube Music smartwatch app that supports offline listening. If you're a YouTube Music Premium subscriber, you can download songs you can listen to offline and without ads. You'll be able to leave your phone at home and still listen to music while you work out or go for a walk.

The app includes the Smart Downloads feature, which updates the songs on your device when it connects to WiFi. Google says Premium subscribers can listen to more than 80 million songs and thousands of playlists from their wearable. The app, which is available through the Google Play Store, will hit more Wear OS 2 devices later this year.

Spotify rolled out an updated version of its Wear OS app last month. It also lets users download music to their smartwatch and stream tracks without the need to have a phone nearby.

Google’s updated iOS 15 apps support Focus Mode and iPad widgets

With iOS 15 now available to download, developers both big and small have started updating their apps to take advantage of the operating system’s marquee features. One of those is Google, which detailed today the iOS 15-related enhancements you can expect from its apps.

The biggest change involves how Gmail, Meet, Tasks, Maps, Home and many of Google's other applications will handle notifications. Should you have iOS 15’s new Focus Mode enabled, Google says prompts that don’t require your immediate attention will go to the Notifications Center where you can deal with them later. More timely reminders, such as those Google Maps sends you when you’re trying to navigate somewhere, won’t be silenced, and you’ll see them as they’re sent to you. Google says its goal was to make notifications “as relevant and timely as possible.” You'll see these roll out to the company's apps in the "coming weeks."

Meanwhile, if you own an iPad you can look forward to new Google Photos and YouTube Music widgets that take advantage of the extra screen space Apple’s tablets offer. The company says it will roll these out in the coming weeks as well. Lastly, Google Drive and YouTube Music feature new Spotlight integrations. You can use the tool to search for specific files and to play a song directly in Google’s music streaming service. Those enhancements are available today — though you'll probably wish more apps worked with Spotlight in this way.

Algoriddim's djay iOS app uses Shazam to recognize and sync with live music

Algoriddim has been working closely with Apple for years on its djay apps and regularly appears in the company's keynotes. Now, it's integrating another Apple product, Shazam, into its latest iOS djay app with the release of iOS 15. The new feature lets you can scan your surroundings and identify any song playing, whether at an event, listening to the radio or playing sets with other DJs. Once it picks out the song, djay will instantly load it onto the virtual decks and play it in sync with the external music source. 

Once loaded, you can create a mix with similar tracks, remix the song, apply effects and deconstruct it into components using the company's Neural Mix tech. It can also save songs into iOS 15's music recognition history in the control center, "providing users with streamlined access to all of their song discoveries," the company said. 

While this sounds like cool technology in search of an application, Algoriddim has a few use cases in mind. The main one is that you can identify a track you might hear and get it into your library with the tap of a button, or create an automated mix based on the recognized song. "djay can instantly provide you with similar tracks to the one you just heard, allowing you to quickly immerse yourself in a particular style," Algoriddim told Engadget. 

Another, more marginal use case is with back-to-back DJing. If you're playing in tandem with another DJ or in a lineup, you can pick up where the last DJ left off by identifying and syncing with their song before phasing into your own set. This goes a step beyond beat matching, letting you match the last DJ's song exactly. Mind you, many DJs may not care to replay the last DJ’s song or work with a playlist inspired by it, especially if they weren’t familiar with the tracks

The Shazam-enhanced version of iOS djay lets you save recognized music to your Tidal (music and video), SoundCloud, Beatport and Beatsource libraries (not Spotify or Apple Music). Other new features include the ability to add effects to the master audio output, enabled by new Audio Unit (extensions) features in iOS 15. That will let you better tailor the sound for broadcast or to match a PA system. Algoriddim's iOS djay update for iOS is now available for free, or you can get the Pro version for $6.99 per month or $49.99 per year. 

Even after today’s ruling, don’t expect ‘Fortnite’ to return to the App Store anytime soon

After months of testimony and deliberation, we got an initial decision earlier today in the legal battle between Apple and Epic. As a Fortnite player, you may wonder what it all means in terms of playing the game on an iOS device. The short answer is not much.

The long answer is neither side came away from the contest with a decisive win. Judge Gonzales Rogers may have ruled in Epic’s favor when on the issue of allowing App Store developers to direct users to alternate payment systems, but on every other count, she sided with Apple. That includes the question of whether the company was right to terminate Epic’s App Store developer account when it added a direct payment option in Fortnite last year.

On that matter, Judge Gonzales Rodgers said Apple’s decision was “valid, lawful and enforceable.” It’s therefore up to the company whether or not to allow the game back on the App Store. Based on the fact the tech giant rejected Epic’s request to reinstate its developer license after South Korea passed a law that will require both Apple and Google to allow alternative payment systems on their app stores, and the fact Epic says it will appeal the ruling, it’s unlikely the game will return to iOS anytime soon.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney made that much clear following the decision. “Fortnite will return to the iOS App Store when and where Epic can offer in-app payment in fair competition with Apple in-app payment, passing along the savings to consumers,” he said on Twitter.

It’s hard to put a timeline on when we might see a new development in the situation. Court cases involving tech companies can take months and sometimes years to resolve. In the meantime, Fortnite is still available on other platforms, including PC, PlayStation and Xbox.

NVIDIA's Broadcast app now supports professional cameras

NVIDIA has rolled out a major update for its Broadcast app that finally makes it compatible with professional cameras. The chipmaker launched the application for PCs equipped with RTX GPUs in 2020 to give people a way to make their livestreams look and feel more professional even if they're streaming from home. Up until now, though, it's only been focused on webcams. Now even streamers who use more specialized or expensive equipment will be able to take advantage of its AI-driven features. 

Version 1.3 of the Broadcast app supports Canon's EOS Webcam Utility, Nikon's Webcam Utility and Sony's Webcam Utility, all of which are software tools that bring webcam-like function to the brands' cameras. Perhaps more importantly, the update also gives the app support for OBS Virtual Camera, making it possible to use Broadcast with any video device. 

In addition to expanding the app's hardware compatibility, version 1.3 also comes with an upgraded noise removal AI. The feature sometimes removes the host's voice when they're speaking loudly or at a higher pitch than usual, which isn't strange for streams where emotions can run high, such as in gaming streams. To address that, NVIDIA developed dedicated training sound profiles allowing the app to remove background noise without inadvertently muting the streamer. 

The new app reduces VRAM usage by over 40 percent compared to its predecessor, as well, which could translate to an increase in FPS while gaming. NVIDIA added the ability to stack effects in version 1.2, but running several AI features for the mic, speakers and camera can eat up a lot of memory. This solves any issue streamers may have with their computers slowing down. To access Broadcast's new features and UI upgrades and to use it with professional cameras, users will have to download and install version 1.3 from the company's website.

NVIDIA

Apple will allow some media apps to link outside the App Store for payments

Apple has been taking a lot of flak lately over the 30 percent cut it takes from app developers. Starting next year, though, certain developers will be able to avoid paying the tech giant a commission. The company has announced that it will update the App Store in early 2022 to allow developers of "reader" apps to add in-app links to their websites, allowing users to set up their accounts and make payments. Apple defines reader apps as those that "provide previously purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music and video." As Bloomberg notes, that means the new rule would apply to services like Netflix and Spotify.

This is what you get when trying to sign up for Netflix on the iPhone today. In early 2022, it’ll be a button that points you to Netflix’s website to sign up and pay there. This is a major, structural change that will save Apple a lot of scrutiny. pic.twitter.com/8iWDUTceZK

— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) September 2, 2021

The tech giant announced the update following the conclusion of an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission. Apple agreed with the commission to let reader app developers add a single link to their website, because those developers "do not offer in-app digital goods and services for purchase." The change will cover all reader apps around the world, but Apple will update its guidelines and review process first before it takes effect.

Phil Schiller, the executive in charge of overseeing the App Store, said: "We have great respect for the Japan Fair Trade Commission and appreciate the work we’ve done together, which will help developers of reader apps make it easier for users to set up and manage their apps and services, while protecting their privacy and maintaining their trust."

Netflix and Spotify have long criticized Apple for taking a 30 percent of their earnings. Spotify filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission in 2019 over what it says are anti-competitive practices by the tech giant. Unwilling to pay a 30 percent commission, it pulled users' ability to pay for premium upgrades from the iOS app. Netflix also removed users' ability to pay for a subscription within its iOS app in 2018. 

Since the upcoming update doesn't cover games, it won't be able to put an end to Apple's courtroom battle with Epic. The gaming developer has been leading the charge against the tech giant over the past year ever since it decided to offer discounts on Fortnite's V-bucks currency and other cash purchases outside the App Store. Apple removedFortnite from the App Store in response, and the lawsuit that resulted from that brought to light some very interesting information. Tim Cook's court testimony revealed that a lot of developers are unhappy with Apple, while court documents showed that Epic pays millions of dollars to publishers to give away their games for free on its store.

HBO Max app lands on Vizio SmartCast TVs

Watching HBO Max shows and movies on a TV is getting a little easier for Vizio owners. SmartCast TVs now have a native HBO Max app, so you won't need to cast content from another device. Along with accessing HBO Max the old-fashioned way by pressing buttons on your remote, you can use voice navigation via the SmartCast Mobile app or Voice Remote with Vizio Voice.

To mark the app's debut, Vizio is using its SmartCast home screen to showcase some of the free episodes HBO Max offers to entice viewers to sign up. You can get a taste of shows including HBO heavyweights like Game of Thrones and Euphoria, as well as a few Max Originals. The titles will be on rotation, so there'll be other shows to sample later.

HBO Max has been steadily expanding its app to more platforms. Along with YouTube, it landed on Spectrum TV this week. They joined Netflix as Spectrum Guide's first streaming apps. The reception to HBO Max's smart TV apps hasn't been great though. WarnerMedia reportedly plans to overhaul them in the coming months.