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Canvas, Episode 20: iWork 3.0

This week Fraser and Federico take a tour of iWork 3.0.

With the launch of iWork 3.0 alongside iOS 10, Fraser and I decided to explore the new features (including collaboration) and talk about the state of iWork in the latest episode of Canvas. You can listen here.

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The Omni Group Is Moving to Free Downloads with In-App Purchases

Ken Case, writing on The Omni Group's blog, has announced a notable change for the company's download model on the App Store:

The underlying problem, as noted above, is that downloading the app has a fixed cost. We’ve always set that cost to be the standard price of our app, leaving us no way to charge less. But what if we take a fresh look at this problem, and make our downloads free? You know, like every iPhone app in the Top Grossing List has already done? It’s not that they don’t sell anything—or they wouldn’t be on that list. They just don’t sell the original download. (Which we’ve never done on our own store either.)

With the original download free, we can implement any pricing options we want to offer customers through In-App Purchases. We can offer our standard unlocks of Standard and Pro, of course. But we can also offer a free 2-week trial which unlocks all of the features of Pro and Standard, letting you freely choose between them. We can offer a discounted upgrade to the new Standard. And we can offer free upgrades to the new versions to any customers who recently purchased the old app.

Well, I’m pleased to share that that’s exactly what we’re going to do—starting next month, with the App Store edition of OmniGraffle 7.

You don't get a better sign of the times than this. The Omni Group was the poster child of finding success on the iOS App Store with paid upfront pro software priced like desktop apps. But as Case argues, most apps in the Top Grossing charts have switched to a "free with In-App Purchases" model. That seems to be the clear path forward for developers who want to build sustainable software while also ensuring users can properly test their apps and take advantage of discounted upgrades.

It doesn't surprise me that The Omni Group – unlike other developers who keep hoping Apple retrofits the App Store for purchase mechanisms of a decade ago – went ahead and took a fresh approach to figure this out. The new policy isn't limited to the upcoming OmniGraffle 7: every Omni app for Mac and iOS will move to a free download with one-time In-App Purchases to buy the full feature set.

Omni's solution seems elegant and straightforward. The apps are free to download and they can be used as viewers when unlicensed; the free trial is an In-App Purchase set at Tier 0 that counts down 14 days; the full apps are unlocked with Standard and Pro levels of In-App Purchases. The only negative aspect I can think of is that In-App Purchases aren't available to Family Sharing, but that's on Apple to fix.

If Omni's approach works well in practice (and I can't imagine why it wouldn't), I can see a lot of developers following their model.

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Apple Reveals Balloons Ad

Apple released another advertisement in its 'practically magic' series, focusing on the new effects that can be used with Messages. 'Balloons' begins with a single red balloon floating out the window of a house. The balloon travels across landscapes, through forests, swamps, and across a large body of water. Eventually, it's joined by a second balloon under a rusted structure.

When the camera pulls back, it becomes apparent that the balloons are in Chicago. As the camera follows the balloons, they pass by several Chicago landmarks, including an 'L' train, the Chicago Board of Trade, and finally, the Chicago River near the Wrigley Building.

The scene cuts to an office where a woman is working. Balloons begin to blow into an open window as she receives an iMessage wishing her a happy birthday, which is sent with Messages' new balloons effect, echoing the scene surrounding her. The spot ends with the camera pulling back to a wide angle view of millions of balloons rising among Chicago's skyscrapers, including the Willis (née Sears) Tower with the tag line 'expressive messages on iPhone 7.'

Previous spots have focused on iPhone 7 hardware features like its water resistance and camera. This is the first ad since iOS 10 was released that focuses solely on a new feature of iOS.


Nebo’s Handwriting Recognition Elevates Your Notes

Nebo is a digital notetaking app that was created by MyScript to showcase its handwriting recognition technology known as Ink. The app is iPad-only because it requires an Apple Pencil for input. Nebo can also convert hand-drawn diagrams and mathematical equations and embed photos and sketches within notes. I’ve been using Nebo to research this review and the accuracy of its handwriting recognition is remarkable. Nebo is a solid notetaking tool. It lacks a few features that would make it more competitive with notetaking apps that have been around longer, but the handwriting recognition is so good, that Nebo has become my default notetaking app.

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Enhanced Edition of ‘A Game of Thrones’ Available on the iBooks Store

The iBooks Store is today featuring the launch of 'A Game of Thrones: Enhanced Edition':

Navigate the astounding world of Westeros with the enhanced editions of George R.R. Martin's magnificent series. Available only on iBooks, they're the best way to read this thrilling epic. Interactive maps, author notes, glossaries, family trees and illustrations add to the adventure, whether you're new to the books or speak fluent Dothraki.

A Game of Thrones is the first book in the series, and the Enhanced Edition is available now. The other books in the series are also set to received Enhanced Editions over the coming months. A Clash of Kings is coming on 27 October, A Storm of Swords is arriving on 15 December, A Feast of Crows is arriving 2 February 2017, and A Dance with Dragons is expected on 30 March 2017. The Guardian has a few more details on the Enhanced Editions, including this quote from George R.R. Martin:

“We’re now entering a new period in the history of publishing,” said Martin, announcing the new edition. “The digital book gives readers the ability to experience all this rich secondary material that had not been possible before. These enhanced editions, available only on iBooks, include sigils and family trees and glossaries. Anything that confuses you, anything you want to know more about, it’s right there at your fingertips. It’s an amazing next step in the world of books.”

This is not the first time the iBooks Store has released Enhanced Editions of a popular series. Last October saw the release of Enhanced Editions of the Harry Potter series on the iBooks Store, which included new illustrations and animations.

(via 9to5Mac)

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Apple Starts Selling App Store Search Ads, Launching October 5th

First announced at WWDC in June and beta-tested over the Summer, Apple launched Search Ads for iOS apps today. The ads will appear at the top of App Store customers’ search results based on a combination of search relevancy and bidding. According to Apple, the program is designed to be a simple way for developers to get their apps in front of potential customers. Developers can sign up today and schedule campaigns, but ads won’t go live until October 5, 2016.

In an email to developers Apple says:

Search Ads was designed to be effortless for small and independent developers. Invest as much or as little time as you have and still get results. We create your ads and match them to relevant searches. You can refine who sees your ad with optional keyword, audience and location features, and you only pay when a customer taps on your ad.

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Connected, Episode 110: Swimsuits and Sunglasses for Dogs

This week Federico struggles to use the new W1-enabled Beats with his new iPhone 7, Myke shares some thoughts on Snapchat Spectacles, and Stephen is away so the europeans join Snapchat on-air.

On this week's Connected, I share some initial impressions on the iPhone 7 and explain why I want to understand Snapchat. You can listen here.

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ProTube Review

I'm writing this as I listen to Frank Turner play a live show at Wembley Arena. That would be unremarkable if the show were available in Apple's Music app (it's not). Instead, I'm listening to the audio portion of a YouTube video with Ulysses full screen on my iPad. In a little while, I'll take a break for dinner and AirPlay the rest of the concert audio while I eat. That's not possible with the YouTube app unless you pay for a YouTube Red subscription, but it is with ProTube, a highly-customizable YouTube client by indie developer Jonas Gessner that lets you enjoy YouTube on your own terms.

The YouTube app isn't bad, it's just made with an average user in mind. There aren't many ways to customize it. You watch videos the way YouTube decided they should be watched. ProTube takes the opposite approach putting users in control, which makes it perfect for YouTube power users and anyone who has ever been frustrated by the one-size-fits-all approach of the YouTube app.

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Spotify Introduces Daily Mix

At WWDC in June, Apple announced ‘Discovery Mix,’ a playlist of Apple Music songs based on your musical taste, similar in name and substance to Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist. When iOS 10 launched, the name of Apple’s music discovery playlist had changed to My New Music Mix and was joined by a second playlist that wasn’t discussed at WWDC – My Favorites Mix. Both Apple Music playlists are updated weekly.

Spotify didn’t have a favorites mix of its own until today when it responded with Daily Mix, a daily playlist featuring tracks that users mark as favorites as well as new music. According to Spotify:

As your music taste evolves, so will your Daily Mix. In fact, the more you listen, the better your Mixes will become – offering an effortless music experience based entirely on your personal listening habits. Don’t like that new discovery? Simply “ban” a tune to remove it from future playlists. If you love it, be sure to “heart” the hit to add it to your collection.

Spotify’s Daily Mix adds some nice touches that differentiate it from Apple Music’s My Favorites Mix. I like the idea of a more frequently updated daily mix, but I wonder whether adding new music to the mix makes sense in this context. One of the benefits of a favorites mix is knowing you will like everything played. Adding new music potentially undermines that.

Daily Mix is currently available on iOS (in the latest update to the iOS app) and Android only. Spotify says other platforms will be added soon.