A lot went on on with the App Store this week, but unfortunately it was a slow week for app releases. Apple added a Pay Once & Play section to the App Store highlighting "great games with no in-app purchases." Hopefully the new section will teach App Store customers that it is worth spending a few dollars on a decent mobile game instead of encouraging the freemium model.
Apple this week also increased the maximum app size on the App Store from 2GB to 4GB. This will give developers more leeway when creating high-quality games that take advantage of Apple's newer hardware and larger iPhone displays. Here's the announcement from Apple's developer portal:
"The size limit of an app package submitted through iTunes Connect has increased from 2 GB to 4 GB, so you can include more media in your submission and provide a more complete, rich user experience upon installation. Please keep in mind that this change does not affect the cellular network delivery size limit of 100 MB."
Fleksy has rolled out version 5.2 of its third-party keyboard and it includes a free Valentine’s Day theme for those who don't hate the holiday. The update also includes new Extensions, a new theme pack and other improvements.
The Heart Pops Extension continues the Valentine's Day theme by making your "keys pop with hearts" when you type. The Hotkey Extension allows you to add an extra row of keys that you can customize to with commonly used emojis, email addresses and so on.
Apple has dealt another blow to freemium games by adding a 'Pay Once & Play' section to the UK App Store. The new section highlights paid games that do not feature in-app purchases, such as Leo's Fortune.
While freemium games rake in a lot of money for both developers and Apple, a lot of hardcore and casual gamers despise so-called "free-to-play" games. Hardcore gamers claim that they rather pay a onetime download fee rather than suffering through timers and in-app purchases, and casual gamers are tired of being misled by the promise of a "free" game that actually cost money to play.
Ever notice the focus stays fixed when recording video on the iPhone 5s? In fact, the only iOS devices that automatically adjust focus while recording are the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. While this feature was not added to the stock Camera app on older iPhones, those with jailbroken devices can now get a piece of the action.
The free jailbreak tweak AFVideo does the trick. Normally, refocusing a video while recording on the iPhone 5s / 5c or earlier requires a tap on the screen. Once AFVideo is installed, there are no options or settings to configure. The stock Camera app will simply begin to focus automatically, on the fly while video recording is in progress.
Apple is not only working on iOS 8.2, but the company released the first beta of iOS 8.3 to developers on Monday. Apple is also simultaneously working on iOS 8.4 and iOS 9.0, according to a report from 9to5Mac. iOS 8.0 was released on September 17, 2014, two days before the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple called it. "the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the App Store," but the OS stumbled out of the gate shipping with a bug that caused issues for HealthKit-enabled apps. iOS 8.0.1 was released to fix the HealthKit related bug, but the update caused some users to lose access to their cellular data and Touch ID. iOS 8 finally got rolling a few days later with the release iOS 8.0.2.
iOS 8.1 was eventually released to add Apple Pay support for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and iOS 8.1.3 launched a few weeks ago to improve stability and performance.
Apple seeded the fifth beta of iOS 8.2 on Feb. 2, 2015. The next major update is mostly focused on the Apple Watch. It will include Apple's WatchKit API for app developers and a few bug fixes. iOS 8.2 also reintroduces blood glucose tracking in the Health app. iOS 8.2 is expected to launch in late-March or early April before the release of the Apple Watch.
At least that's how one unnamed Apple employee feels, according to his email to BusinessInsider. He says that "Apple's latest project is too exciting to pass up," and he thinks "it will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money." He also says that Tesla employees are leaving their company to join Apple because of it.
There has been a lot of speculation recently over what "it" may be, especially after the recent rash of Apple minivan sightings. The minivans are loaded with cameras and other equipment and have been spotted around the Bay Area, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Texas, New York and even Panama. This has fueled rumors
The pilot episode for AMC's Better Call Saul is now available for free on iTunes and Amazon Prime. The Breaking Bad prequel nabbed the highest-rated series debut in cable history, and it was also met with positive reviews from both critics and fans.
Better Call Saul was watched by 6.9 million viewers while earning an important 4.4 million in the adults 18-49 demo. The show premiered on Sunday after The Walking Dead, which also has an impressive midseason return with 15.6 million viewers.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) share prices rose slightly over the course of last week. They opened Monday at $118.06 and closed Friday at $118.93. They also hit an all time high of $120.51 on Wednesday. Of note this week, all shareholders of record as of today (2/9/15) will receive a dividend of $0.47 per share, payable this Thursday, February 12. The dividend payout will be a record $2.8 billion.
Other notable items last week:
Data released by Kanter Worldpanel last Wednesday showed that iOS devices edged out Android devices in sales by .1% in the fourth quarter (47.7% to 47.6%). This is the first time since the fourth quarter of 2012 that iOS has held more market share than Android.
Enthusiasts have been anticipating an Apple TV refresh for quite some time now, yet Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has been very quiet on that front recently. It's possible that they are waiting for the dust to settle from the seemingly endless negotiations between content providers and cable/satellite companies. A report from re/code last week says that Apple is in talks with content providers, and may be looking to put together "bundles of programming - but not the entire TV lineup that pay-TV providers generally offer," to sell directly to consumers over the web, bypassing the cable companies altogether (though most cable providers also provide internet access, so that could quickly become a leverage point for them depending on what happens with net neutrality).
Some other items of note from last week:
Apple last week admitted its connection to the camera-equipped minivans that have recently been spotted throughout the country. The slew of sightings has many speculating that Apple is testing autonomous "iCars," but AppleInsider offers some compelling arguments that the vans are contributing data to Apple's 3D FlyOver feature.
The highly anticipated sci-fi shooter Midnight Star is now available for iOS devices. The game was created by an all star team of developers including Alex Seropian, the co-founder of Bungie. The story was written by science fiction author John Scalzi (Old Man's War) and his tie-in graphic novel is now available for free (first chapter) on the App Store.
Midnight Star Synopsis
Set 120 years into our future, Midnight Star takes players aboard the MSRV-Joplin, a research vessel newly outfitted with military weaponry to explore a mysterious signal coming from within our Solar System. When disaster strikes, they're transported across the universe to take part in an epic war whose outcome will determine the fate of humanity...
Critics seem to love the game but user reviews are mixed only earning Midnight Star a 3-star rating on the App Store. There are a lot of positive comments about the graphics but the inability to control your character's movement and in-app purchases are earning the game a lot of negative reviews.