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Desktops (Apple)

The Mac App Store Is Full of Scams (howtogeek.com) 117

Over the years, Apple may have improved security, filters, and screening process of apps for its Mac's App Store, but even today things the quality of fraudulent apps continue to not only seep through its gatekeepers, but often times outnumber the good apps. How To Geek did some investigation over this and published the findings yesterday in a story titled, "Don't Be Fooled: The Mac App Store Is Full of Scams". It didn't take long for the publication to find scam apps on Apple's marquee app store for Mac computers. A search for "Microsoft Excel", for instance, returns "Office Bundle" made by a third-party. The app offers templates -- and just that -- for $30. Same is the case with any Office suite application. This might not seem as a real problem to many, but as How to Geek points out, there is one more problem: almost all these apps have icons and title names that are similar to those of Microsoft's, and Apple has had no issues with that. From the article: Let's be blunt: these customers were ripped off, and Apple pocketed $10 each (Editor's note: Apple charges 30 percent on all transactions on App Store(. And you'll only see these comments if you scroll past the two five star reviews that mention the word "app" numerous times. All of these fakes use Microsoft brands like Office, Word, and Excel in the product names. The logos aren't one-to-one copies of Microsoft's official logos, but they're almost always the correct color and letter (blue "W" for Word, green "E" for Excel, etcetera).
Privacy

Fake Shopping Apps Are Invading the iPhone (nypost.com) 41

An anonymous reader shares a NYPost report: For tech-focused scammers, knocking off sneakers and handbags is so last decade. Thieves in the digital age are slamming consumers right in the app. A slew of knockoff shopping apps have quietly infiltrated Apple's App Store in recent months, looking to lure unsuspecting iPhone owners with bogus deals on everything from jewelry to designer duds. The fake apps mimic the look of legit apps -- and have proliferated since this summer, experts said. It didn't help that earlier this month, Apple introduced search ads in its App Store. The fake apps are buying search terms, it would appear, to increase their exposure to consumers. The crooks are looking to tap into the fast-growing market for mobile sales, which last year leaped 56 percent to $49.2 billion, according to comScore.Further reading on NYTimes (NYTimes has opened its paywall till November 9).
Google

Google Moves To Upgrade App Store, Aims To Help Developers Bolster Revenue (reuters.com) 25

Google plans to double down on its efforts to help developers of Android apps build their businesses as concerns mount that the app economy has reached saturation. The company is sharpening Google Play store recommendations with AI and expanding support for various payment platforms, among other initiatives, reports Reuters, citing company's top executive. From the article:Many smartphone users, meanwhile, appear to have tired of downloading apps altogether, especially as messaging services like Snapchat perform more of the functions that once required a separate app. Games remain a focus of the Google Play store, and Nintendo is building a version of its popular Super Mario Run game for Android, said Sameer Samat, who leads product management for the Google Play store. The store is also expanding to new platforms, including wearable devices, virtual reality headsets and Google's Chromebook laptops. "What we are excited about is giving developers that single entry point for more and more of the computing ecosystem," said Samat. Google has eased the once-complicated process of developing apps for the Play store, said James Knight, a former Google employee who launched Pembroke, a consultancy that helps developers convert Apple-compatible iOS apps to Android. A big part of Google's new effort involves emerging markets, where Android is stronger relative to the iPhone. To improve app recommendations for users, the Play store has also made extensive use of machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence that gleans insights from vast troves of data.
China

China Overtakes the US in iOS App Store Revenue (techcrunch.com) 53

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch: China has now overtaken the U.S. to become the largest market in the world for App Store revenue, according to a new report out this morning from app intelligence firm App Annie. The country earned over $1.7 billion in Q3 2016, which puts it ahead of the U.S. by over 15 percent. The U.S. had been the number one iOS market since 2010, the report notes. Today, Chinese consumers spend more than 5 times the amount they were spending compared with just two years prior. In addition, the report predicts that China will drive the largest absolute revenue growth for any country by 2020. The estimations are likely accurate -- App Annie had said at the beginning of the year that if China's rapid App Store revenue growth continued at the same pace, it would overtake the U.S. by year's end. And that has now occurred. This growth is largely being driven by games, and here, China's lead has also widened over the U.S. during the past quarter. Games drive 75 percent of App Store revenue, even though non-game apps make up the majority (75%) of those distributed in Apple's mobile marketplace.
Apple

Apple Has Removed Dash from the App Store (kapeli.com) 104

Popular API documentation browser Dash was pulled from the App Store this week after a routine migration request, its developer Bogdan Popescu wrote in a blog post. He said the migration was successful, but some features in iTunes Connect weren't available during account migration, Apple warned him. Later in the day, Apple sent another email saying the app has been pulled because of "fraudulent conduct," and did not offer any explanation. From the post: Today I called them and they confirmed my account migration went through and that everything is okay as far as they can tell. A few hours ago I received a "Notice of Termination" email, saying that my account was terminated due to fraudulent conduct. I called them again and they said they can't provide more information. Update: Apple contacted me and told me they found evidence of App Store review manipulation. This is something I've never done. Apple's decision is final and can't be appealed.Apple blogger Federico Viticci said. "This seems like a major screwup. Apple dev relationships should fix this soon." Marco Arment, the co-founder of Tumblr and founder of Instapaper, said This is a story with two major paths: Either the developer did something to deserve the rug being pulled out from under, something worthy of their developer credentials being cancelled. Or there's a colossal misunderstanding here. I suspect there's more to this than meets the eye. Either way, don't think this is the way this should have played out.
Software

Half Of US Smartphone Users Download Zero Apps Per Month (recode.net) 153

Apple's iOS users may have downloaded more than 140 billion apps since the App Store was launched in 2008, but the reality is that a huge number of people just don't try out so many apps anymore. We noted a few weeks ago how people were showing less interest towards apps, and now we have more confirmation on that front. According to comScore, some 49 percent of U.S. smartphone users download zero apps in a typical month. Recode reports: Of the 51 percent of smartphone owners who do download apps during the course of a month, "the average number downloaded per person is 3.5," comScore's report says. "However, the total number of app downloads is highly concentrated at the top, with 13 percent of smartphone owners accounting for more than half of all download activity in a given month."
Software

Apple To Remove Abandoned Apps From The App Store (techcrunch.com) 67

Apple has issued an email to its community of developers indicating that it will remove apps that are outdated or no longer work. "We are implementing an ongoing process of evaluating apps, removing apps that no longer function as intended, don't follow current review guidelines, or are outdated," Apple wrote. TechCrunch reports: In addition to search ads and extensions in many different apps in iOS 10, Apple plans to remove all these useless apps that clutter the App Store search pages. And Apple is not going to stop at abandoned apps. The company will also fight spammy app names. For instance, if you search for "Instagram" on the App Store, one of the first results is an app that is called "[app name] Photo Collage, Picture Editor, Pic Grid, F... and then it gets cut off. With this SEO strategy, app developers can trick App Store searches. If you search for "pic collage," chances are you're going to find this app. Apple wants clean names to make App Store searches relevant again. From now on, app names have to be shorter than 50 characters. Apple will start reviewing old apps on September 7. Apps that crash on launch will be removed immediately. Other apps will get a notice from Apple first. And if you don't update over the next 30 days, your app will be removed -- you'll be able to submit your app again though. You can view Apple's FAQ if you have any unanswered questions.
Iphone

One Billion iPhones Have Been Sold, Apple Says (apple.com) 126

Apple announced on Wednesday that it has sold its one billionth iPhone handset. The milestone comes nine years after the iPhone was first introduced. The phone has unarguably shaped the smartphone industry and bolstered the apps market. In a statement, Tim Cook said: iPhone has become one of the most important, world-changing and successful products in history. It's become more than a constant companion. iPhone is truly an essential part of our daily life and enables much of what we do throughout the day. Last week we passed another major milestone when we sold the billionth iPhone. We never set out to make the most, but we've always set out to make the best products that make a difference. Thank you to everyone at Apple for helping change the world every day.
Google

Google Play Rolls Out Family Sharing (usatoday.com) 41

Google on Wednesday announced a new Google Play feature dubbed Family Library that allows up to 6 people to share apps, movies, books purchases. It will roll out to people in the next 48 hours in 12 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.K., and the United States) and requires people to sign up and add family members (you can add your friends as family member). The announcement is mostly in line with a CNET report from earlier this month. USA Today reports: The feature will allow users to share apps, games, movies, TV shows or books from Google Play on Android devices. Movies, TV shows and books can be shared on iOS platforms and the Web. After a user signs up for the Family Library, the person adds up to five family members and decides on the credit card that will be used for the families purchases. Eunice Kim, head of families for Google Play said a unique feature of Google Play compared to other family sharing initiatives is that family members can also choose to pay with their personal credit card or with gift cards. The same user who organized the family can control who below the age of 18 needs permission to purchase content.The feature is strikingly similar to an option in Apple's App Store that does the same thing.
Television

Apple Launching Reality TV Show Called 'Planet of the Apps' (venturebeat.com) 62

theodp writes: The Verge reports Apple is making good on an earlier threat to create a reality TV show about app developers. An open casting call has been issued for "Planet of the Apps," with the goal of finding "100 of the world's most talented app creators" -- news which VentureBeat suggests must be making Steve Jobs' ghost weep. Apple has teamed up with Propagate, a new production company created by the producer of "The Biggest Loser." The description of the show says: "Join us on the search for the next great app in a new original series. Those selected will have the chance to receive hands-on guidance from some of the most influential experts in the tech community, featured placement on the App Store, and funding from top-tier VCs." The show is expected to be released in 2017.
IOS

Apple Slams Spotify For Asking For 'Preferential Treatment' (buzzfeed.com) 181

On Thursday, Spotify made major accusations against Apple of playing unfair to its music service. The Swedish-based music company said that Apple didn't approve a new version of Spotify's iOS app because "it didn't want competition for Apple Music." The Cupertino-based company has responded to the accusations. In a letter sent to Spotify general counsel Horacio Gutierrez on Friday, Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell rebutted the streaming music service's allegations, adding "we find it troubling that you are asking for exemptions to the rules we apply to all developers and are publicly resorting to rumors and half-truths about our service," Sewell wrote. BuzzFeed News reports:"Our guidelines apply equally to all app developers, whether they are game developers, e-book sellers, video-streaming services or digital music distributors; and regardless of whether or not they compete against Apple. We did not alter our behavior or our rules when we introduced our own music streaming service or when Spotify became a competitor," Sewell explains. "Ironically, it is now Spotify that wants things to be different by asking for preferential treatment from Apple." And as for Spotify's suggestion that Apple is treading on dangerous, anticompetitive ground, well, Sewell doesn't seem too concerned. "There is nothing in Apple's conduct that 'amounts to a violation of applicable antitrust laws.' Far from it," Sewell, writes after wryly observing that not only has Apple's platform generated "hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental revenue to Spotify"; but that the Spotify App currently in the App Store is still in violation of Apple's guidelines. "I would be happy to facilitate an expeditious review and approval of your app as soon as you provide us with something that is compliant with the App Store's rules," he quips.Apple commentator John Gruber, writing for DaringFireball:Cry me a river. Spotify has long charged $12.99 via in-app subscriptions to get around the 30 percent "App Store tax". And Apple has now cut the long-term subscription split from 70-30 to 85-15. And Spotify is the streaming service most at war with artists over their abysmal royalty rates. Read between the lines and the real message here is that Apple Music is kicking Spotify's ass.
Facebook

Facebook To Shred 'Paper' News-Reading App On July 29th (theverge.com) 23

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: Facebook's Paper app for iOS is scheduled to shut down on July 29th. While the app impressed critics, it failed to impress the general public. The Verge reports: "The app transformed the core Facebook experience into a kind of newsreader, with customizable sections for politics, technology, food, and other subjects. When it was introduced in January 2014, Paper signaled the beginning of a design renaissance at Facebook. The look and feel of the app were orchestrated by Mike Matas, whose design firm Push Pop Press was acquired by Facebook in 2011. Paper was notable for the novel animations it used to guide you through the app -- tap on a link and it would unfold like a letter; pull down on the story and it would fold back up, returning you to the feed. But despite the enormous growth of Facebook, which surged to 1.09 billion daily users this year, Paper has not been among the 1,500 most-downloaded apps since December 2014, according to research firm App Annie. It never came to Android, and the iOS version was last updated in March 2015. Facebook says that ideas from Paper have made their way into other Facebook apps, most notably Instant Articles, the fast-loading story format that the company introduced last year. Instant Articles borrowed several design elements from Paper, including full-bleed images and custom designs for individual publishers' articles."
Data Storage

SanDisk Made an iPhone Case With Built-In Storage (theverge.com) 48

An anonymous reader writes: SanDisk has made its iXpand Memory Case to alleviate the problem that Apple creates when they release an iPhone in 2016 with only 16GB of on-board storage. The iXpand Memory Case is an iPhone case with flash storage built directly into the case itself that connects/charges via the Lightning port. You won't need a new phone and you won't need to carry around an extra charging dongle, which is the case for many other third-party cases and accessories. Since Apple doesn't make expanding your storage with third-party devices easy, you will need to download/install the companion SanDisk iXpand Memory Case app on your iPhone, which will automatically back-up your camera roll and password-protect your photos and files. If you need some extra juice, you can spend an extra $40 to receive a 1900mAh battery pack that attaches to the case. The iXpand Memory Case is only available with the iPhone 6 and 6s and is available with 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB of extra flash storage for $59, $99, and $129, respectively. Oh, and of course there are varying color options: Red, Grey, Sky and Mint. Maybe your phone battery is running low (God-forbid it is dead) and you just so happen to be nearby a KFC in Delhi or Mumbai, KFC has you covered. They have introduced a meal box that doubles as a smartphone charger.
Debian

Fedora QA Lead Pans Canonical 'Propaganda' On Snap Apps (happyassassin.net) 170

Long-time Slashdot reader JImbob0i0 shares a scathing article by Red Hat's Fedora QA "community monkey"/senior QA engineer on Canonical's announcement about their application delivery mechanism "snap"... ...and how it's going to unite all distributions and kill apt and rpm! This is, to put it diplomatically, a heaping pile of steaming bullshit... The press release and the stories together give you the strong impression that this thing called Snappy is going to be the cross-distribution future of application delivery, and it's all ready for use today and lots of major distributions are buying into it... The stories have headlines like "Adios apt and yum? Ubuntu's snap apps are coming to distros everywhere" and "Snap Packages Become Universal Binary Format for All GNU/Linux Distributions"...

Now, does Snappy actually have the cross-distribution buy-in that the press release claims (but never outright states) that it has? No... The sum total of communication between Canonical and Fedora before the release of this press release was that they mailed us asking about the process of packaging snappy for Fedora, and we told them about the main packaging process and COPR. They certainly did not in any way inform Fedora that they were going to send out a press release strongly implying that Fedora, along with every other distro in the world, was now a happy traveler on the Snappy bandwagon... They just decided to send out a wildly misleading press release and actively encourage the specialist press to report that Snappy was all set to take over the world and everyone was super happy with that.

Debian

Adios Apt and Yum? Ubuntu's Snap Apps Are Coming To Distros Everywhere (arstechnica.com) 274

An anonymous reader shares an Ars Technica report: Ubuntu's "snappy" new way of packaging applications is no longer exclusive to Ubuntu. Canonical today is announcing that snapd, the tool that allows snap packages to be installed on Ubuntu, has been ported to other Linux distributions including Debian, Arch, Fedora, and Gentoo among others. To install snap packages on non-Ubuntu distributions, Linux desktop and server users will have to first install the newly cross-platform snapd. This daemon verifies the integrity of snap packages, confines them into their own restricted space, and acts as a launcher. Instructions for creating snaps and installing snapd on a variety of distributions are available at this website. Snaps can exist on the same system as either deb or RPM packages. Snaps aren't the only new package manager for Linux distributions that aims to simplify installation of applications. There's also AppImage and OrbitalApps.
Programming

Developer Accuses Apple Of Stealing His Breathe App (www.bgr.in) 170

On Monday at its Worldwide Developer's Conference, Apple announced a new app called Breathe as one of the new headline features for watchOS 3, the latest version of its operating system for Apple Watch. The health-centric app reminds users to take a moment and breathe. But was it company's own idea? App developer Ben Erez is accusing Apple of stealing features from his app. What's worse, he adds that the company even used the same name for its app. Erez tells BGR India in a statement: We've had the same concept, same spelling, same functionality in the App store for phone and watch for over a year. We built the app because the existing mindfulness apps were insufficient in that they all focus on intense sessions of 5-20 minutes, once per day. We wanted a mindfulness experience that was felt throughout the day in smaller bits.
Programming

Slashdot Asks: Is the App Boom Over? 278

Quartz did a story in 2014 in which, citing comScore's data, it noted that most smartphones users download zero apps per month. Two years later, the data from Nomura reveals that the top 15 app publishers saw downloads drop an average of 20% in the United States. While there are exceptions -- Uber and Snapchat continue to attract new users worldwide -- it appears that developers are finding it increasingly difficult to get new people to download and try their apps. Recode reports: But now even the very biggest app publishers are seeing their growth slow down or stop altogether. Most people have all the apps they want and/or need. They're not looking for new ones.What's your take on this?
IOS

Apple To Offer iOS Developers 85-15 Revenue Split; Debut Paid App Store Search Ads (theverge.com) 84

Apple says it will now take a smaller cut of commission from app developers provided they have customers who stick with their subscription model for longer than a year. Phil Schiller, Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, told The Verge in an interview that the company will revise the 70-30 split for such developers to 85-15. In addition, the company will also begin showing search ads for apps in its iOS App Store search results. Also, the company says it is speeding up app review times "to the point where 50 percent of submitted apps are now reviewed in 24 hours, and 90 percent are reviewed within 48 hours." From the report: If the new subscription model becomes widely adopted, it will represent a fundamental shift in the economics of the App Store. Developers will be incentivized to sell their apps for a recurring fee instead of a one-time cost. It could change the way consumers pay for certain apps, but it also presents a massive opportunity for developers, many of whom feel the app economy has been become moribund in recent years. And as iPhone sales growth slows, a move to app subscriptions is another way for Apple wring more profits from its existing user base.Apple columnist John Gruber has more details.
Networking

Report: People Are Spending Much Less Time On Social Media (cnbc.com) 151

An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNBC: According to a new study from marketing intelligence firm SimilarWeb, people are spending less time on social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. The company analyzed Android users' daily time spent on these social networks from January to March 2016 with the same period in 2015, which included data from the U.S., UK, Germany, Spain, Australia, India, South Africa, Brazil and Spain. Instagram usage was down 23.7 percent this year, Twitter usage was down 23.4 percent, Snapchat usage was down 15.7 percent, and Facebook usage was down 8 percent. Daily usage was down even more in the U.S. for most of the apps. In the U.S., Instagram usage was down 36.2 percent, Twitter was down 27.9 percent, Snapchat was down 19.2 percent but Facebook only fell 6.7 percent. Current installs for the four big social networks were down nine percent year over year. Meanwhile, Facebook's messaging apps, WhatsApp and Messenger increased their installs by 15 percent and 2 percent respectively.
IOS

Apple Considering Google-Like 'Paid Search' On App Store (bloomberg.com) 49

Apple is considering big changes to the App Store, according to a Bloomberg report. The publication claims that the iPhone maker has a team working on "paid searches" -- something similar to Google's model. Under this, the company will charge its developers for showing their apps among top search results. Apple critic John Gruber writes: This sounds like a terrible idea. The one and only thing Apple should do with App Store search is make it more accurate. They don't need to squeeze any more money from it. More accurate, reliable App Store search would help users and help good developers. It's downright embarrassing that App Store search is still so bad. Google web search is better for searching Apple's App Store than the App Store's built-in search. That's the problem Apple needs to address.

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