How Apple can protect kids against predatory IAPs #TAC

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 16th, 2014, 16:29
Category: App Store, Apple

Tom’s under the weather, so I wanted to pitch in and cross-post a few of my ZDNet posts. In this one I discuss an issue that’s near and dear to my heart. My kids have accidentally purchased lots of In-App Purchases (IAPs) from the App Store because of Apple’s 15-minute no password window and nefarious developers that riddle free apps with ads and coerce kids into clicking through to bogus add-on purchases in Freemium apps.

Here are the suggestions I posted on The Apple Core:

  1. Offer the ability to require a password for every transaction.
  2. Offer the option to require a password for free downloads.
  3. Actively track the amount of refund requests in apps targeting kids and set a low threshold for penalizing developers that prey on young users with IAPs. (i.e. if your app generated more than 10 refunds in a day your App comes off the App Store for a day, and so on…)
  4. iTunes Store emails should be sent in real time as purchases occur.
  5. Offer the option to send an SMS or push notification to the account owner’s iPhone or iPad immediately after a purchase
  6. Make refunds easier to requests. Currently you can only request a refund within the desktop version of iTunes, and it’s extremely difficult to find
  7. Add more detail to IAPs in Recent Purchases UI by naming the host app in which the IAP occurred

The problem is that Apple took in $10 billion in revenue from the App Store in 2013, so there’s a strong disincentive to them doing anything that curbs its ferocious rate of sales. (Read more at ZDNet).

What’s your take?

Apple’s iOS App Store nets $10 billion in 2013

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 10th, 2014, 09:26
Category: Announcement, App Store, Apple, Apps, Business, Finance, iOS, iPhone, Software

apple-moneyAccording to an announcement by Apple on Tuesday, the company took home more than $10 billion last year from iOS app sales. Christmas sales put them over the top with customers downloading almost 3 billion apps, making December Apple’s most lucrative and successful month in the App Store’s history. BusinessWire’s coverage of the record setting sales quoted Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue;

“We’d like to thank our customers for making 2013 the best year ever for the App Store. The lineup of apps for the holiday season was astonishing and we look forward to seeing what developers create in 2014.”

Apple also reported that iOS developers have now earned a collective $15 billion from sales on the App Store.

OS X 10.9.1 update drops

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 17th, 2013, 21:36
Category: Announcement, App Store, Apple, Desktop Mac, Installation, Mac, Mavericks, Software

maverickslogoThis one slipped by me. The App Store app on my Mac didn’t even register it. Anyway, lo and behold, 10.9.1 is out. Apple continues to add additional fixes to Mail for handling Gmail accounts. This one adds support for custom settings in Gmail. Here’s the complete change log;

  • Improved support for Gmail in OS X Mail, and fixes for users with custom Gmail settings
  • Improves the reliability of Smart Mailboxes and search in Mail
  • Fixes an issue that prevented contact groups from working properly in Mail
  • Resolves an issue that prevented VoiceOver from speaking sentences that contain emoji
  • Updates Shared Links periodically when open in the Safari Sidebar

Run to your local Apple download site, or open up the App Store app and hope it sees the update. Also, I recommend closing all apps and repairing file permissions both before and after applying the update. Happy Gmailing!

Apple and Bitcoin, oil and water?

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 12th, 2013, 10:56
Category: App Store, Apple, Finance, iOS, iPhone, Software, The Apple Core

Bitcoin-Accp-Here-notOne of my terrible regrets is that I didn’t hop on the Bitcoin train when I had the chance. I read about it, created an account, had one of my computers generate some coin (took forever), and decided it wasn’t worth my time to fart around with unrecognized virtual currency. If I had left that computer running, who knows what that would be worth now. Who knew? Whether it lasts or not is to be seen, but it is certainly getting a lot of attention now. If you’re not up to speed on the whole internet bit trading thing, start with this article over at The Apple Core for more info and the recent explosion of Bitcoin mining.

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1Password for Mac updated to version 4.1 with new features

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 10th, 2013, 09:18
Category: Announcement, App Store, Apple, Apps, iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac, Mavericks, privacy, security, Software

product-1password-4-for-macEveryone’s favorite password keeper (well mine anyway), 1Password, has been updated to version 4.1 and includes some great feature updates. The Agilebits blog introduces the update and gives a quick rundown of some of the key updates;

“1Password 4.1 for Mac is now available for our website customers, and it is waiting for review for Mac App Store customers. “4.1″ may look like a small update, but it packs some great big stuff [...]“

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Apple releases updates to Mail and iBooks into the wild

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 8th, 2013, 08:22
Category: Apple, Google, Mac, Mavericks, Software

maverickslogoEarly on Thursday, Apple released Mail Update for Mavericks 1.0 and iBooks Update 1.0.1. iBook got the usual “security and stability improvements”, which isn’t much, but it did add a .1 to the version number. Mail, on the other hand, only inched from version 7.0 build (1816) to 7.0 build (1822). While the number treatment makes this seem like a minor patch to Mail, it will probably be a big deal to anyone who has been wrestling with Mavericks’ Mail program and their Gmail accounts.

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Apple, Adobe sandbox Flash Player development for OS X versions

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 24th, 2013, 22:00
Category: News, security, Software

When in doubt, sandbox the sucker.

Per Mac|Life, Adobe announced on Wednesday that the latest version of the Safari web browser included with OS X Mavericks now features app sandboxing for Flash Player, following similar moves with browsers from Google, Microsoft and Mozilla.

Although Flash Player has been sandboxed for some time, for whatever reason Apple didn’t get on board with Safari until version 7.0, which is included with this week’s update to OS X Mavericks.

“For the technically minded, this means that there is a specific com.macromedia.Flash Player.plugin.sb file defining the security permissions for Flash Player when it runs within the sandboxed plugin process,” explains Adobe Platform Security Strategist Peleus Uhley.

“As you might expect, Flash Player’s capabilities to read and write files will be limited to only those locations it needs to function properly. The sandbox also limits Flash Player’s local connections to device resources and inter-process communication (IPC) channels. Finally, the sandbox limits Flash Player’s networking privileges to prevent unnecessary connection capabilities.”

The bottom line is that viewing Flash Player content will now be safer and more secure for Safari users on OS X Mavericks, thanks to the combined work of Adobe and Apple, who not so long ago were on opposite sides of the track when it came to Flash technology.

If it makes it more secure, then godspeed…

Apple TV update hits, adds iMovie Theater feature

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013, 00:29
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

This could prove nifty.

Per AppleInsider, following Apple’s announcement that its new iMovie apps for OS X and iOS would support a new sharing feature called iMovie Theater, the company activated an Apple TV channel dedicated to the service.

In an over-the-air update to its set-top streaming device on Tuesday, Apple is now pushing from its servers a new iMovie Theater channel to support the new iMovie apps released alongside OS X 10.9 Mavericks.

Along with a graphical overhaul, iMovie for both Mac and iOS offer new features rooted in iCloud. With iMovie Theater, users can create clips, trailers or movies and share them across devices with friends and family.

The content served up by the service can be created in iOS or OS X and stored in one location for easy access.

iMovie for iOS can be purchased for US$4.99 via the App Store, while the Mac version retails for US$14.99. Both versions come pre-installed on new devices and those who purchased the software through the App Store are eligible for free upgrades.

If you’ve tried the new feature and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple offers iTunes credit for qualifying customers who purchased iWork apps after September 1st

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 14th, 2013, 05:47
Category: News, retail, Software

If you bought Apple’s iWork apps recently, you may have a refund en route.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog and 9to5Mac, Apple will be offering credits to customers who purchased these apps after September 12th of this year. When Apple first introduced the iPhone 5s and 5c on September 12, they concurrently announced that new iOS device owners would be able to download Apple’s suite of mobile iWork apps along with most iLife apps for free. Taken together, the free apps would otherwise cost US$40.


iwork-ipad-app
Apple on Friday began sending out emails to eligible consumers indicating that iOS users who purchased iWork or iLife apps as early as September 1 will be eligible for iTunes credits in the amount they paid.

The e-mail reads as follows:

“Dear iTunes Customer,

On September 10, 2013, Apple announced that iPhoto, iMovie, Keynote, Pages, and Numbers iOS apps are now available as a free download on the App Store for qualifying iOS 7 compatible devices activated on or after September 1, 2013.

Our records indicate that you purchased one or more of these apps on or after September 1, 2013 so we have provided you with the iTunes code below in the amount of US$5.34. This credit can be used towards the purchase of any content on the iTunes Store, App Store, or iBooks Store.

Detailed instructions for redeeming the code can be found at http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1574. Code: [redacted]

Thank you and we hope you enjoy using this credit towards your next purchase on iTunes.

Regards,

iTunes Customer Support iTunes Support”

So, if you bought the iWork apps after September 1st, keep your eyes peeled for the e-mail and let us know how it went in the comments section.

Apple releases iOS 7.0, 7.0.1 updates for iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 18th, 2013, 13:34
Category: iOS, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

ios7logo

It’s finally here.

On Wednesday, Apple released iOS 7.0 and iOS 7.0.1 (depending on your iOS device), the long-anticipated new version of its operating system for its iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. The new operating system, which weighs in as a several hundred to a 1.33 gigabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Control Center: Control Center gives you quick access to the controls and apps you always seem to need right this second. Just swipe up from any screen — including the Lock screen — to do things like switch to Airplane mode, turn Wi-Fi on or off, or adjust the brightness of your display. You can even shine a light on things with a new flashlight. Never has one swipe given you so much control.

- Notification Center: Notification Center lets you know about new mail, missed calls, to-dos that need doing, and more. And a new feature called Today gives you a convenient summary of, well, today. One glance at your iPhone and you’ll know if it’s a certain someone’s birthday, if you’ll need an umbrella, or if traffic will slow down your commute. You’ll even get a heads-up on tomorrow. You can access Notification Center from any screen, including the Lock screen. Just swipe down. And get up to speed.

- Multitasking: Multitasking has always been a smart way to switch between apps. Now it’s even smarter. Because iOS 7 learns when you like to use your apps and can update your content before you launch them. So if you tend to check your favorite social app at 9:00 a.m. every day, your feed will be ready and waiting for you. That’s multitasking in iOS 7. It knows what you want to do before you do.

- Camera: Camera in iOS 7 puts all your shooting formats — still, video, panorama, and now square — front and center. With a swipe, you can capture what you want the way you want. Fast. And new filters let you do even more with each image. Give it a retro feel. Dial up the contrast. Or go black and white. Artistic license is all yours.

- Photos: Now there are faster, easier, and more delightful ways to scroll down memory lane. Introducing Years, Collections, and Moments — smart groupings of your photos and videos based on time and place. Tap Years and all your shots fill the screen. Each year holds Collections, like your trip to San Francisco. And in that Collection are distinct Moments — photos from Union Square, videos from AT&T Park. So you can find a shot from whenever, wherever, in no time.

- AirDrop: Sending a photo or a document to someone via text or email is fine. But if that someone is right next to you, a text or an email suddenly feels like too many steps. Enter AirDrop for iOS. It lets you quickly and easily share photos, videos, contacts — and anything else from any app with a Share button. Just tap Share, then select the person you want to share with. AirDrop does the rest using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. No setup required. And transfers are encrypted, so what you share is highly secure.

- Safari: Browsing is bigger, better, and more beautiful with Safari in iOS 7. Buttons and bars — like the unified smart search field — stay hidden until you scroll to reveal them. So you see more content than ever on your screen. And with a swipe, you can go back or forward a page. It’s all designed so nothing gets in your way or slows you down.

- iTunes Radio: iTunes Radio features streaming radio stations you’ll love from day one — from the best selection of music. The more you listen, the more personalized it becomes. And it’s available on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC, and Apple TV for free. It’s radio re-imagined.

- Siri: Siri in iOS 7 gets a new look, a new sound, and new capabilities. It features a redesigned interface that fades into view — on top of whatever’s on your screen. A clearer, more natural-sounding female or male voice makes Siri even easier to understand. It’s faster at answering questions and it checks more sources, such as Bing, Wikipedia, and Twitter. And Siri takes on extra tasks, like returning calls, playing voicemail, controlling iTunes Radio, and more.4

- App Store: Apps Near Me — a new feature of the App Store in iOS 7 — shows you a collection of popular apps relevant to your current location. And the new Kids category lets you browse and buy the best apps for children based on age. iOS 7 also keeps your apps up to date automatically, so you don’t have to bother. Another bonus of automatic updates: no more little red badge begging for your attention.

- Find My iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch: Losing your iOS device feels lousy. Thankfully, Find My iPhone can help you get it back. But if it looks like that’s not going to happen, new security features in iOS 7 make it harder for anyone who’s not you to use or sell your device. Now turning off Find My iPhone or erasing your device requires your Apple ID and password. Find My iPhone can also continue to display a custom message, even after your device is erased. And your Apple ID and password are required before anyone can reactivate it. Which means your device is still your device. No matter where it is.

- Bug fixes for iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C.

iOS 7.0 and iOS 7.0.1 are available via iTunes or Over-The-Air updating and requires an iPhone 4, 4S, 5, iPad 2, third or fourth-gen iPad, iPod Touch 4th Gen or iPad Mini to install and run.

If you’ve tried the updates and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.