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Super Mario Run 2.0 Arrives

On the heels of Super Mario Run’s debut on Android, Nintendo released a big update to the iOS version of the game that adds new features and refines gameplay.

Parts of Super Mario Run are free to play. Unlocking the remaining levels requires a one-time In-App Purchase. Nintendo has been criticized by some for making too few levels available for free. Version 2.0 addresses that criticism by letting players unlock courses 1-4 after completing one of Bowser’s challenges. Clear courses 1-4, and new Toad Rally courses are unlocked too.

You can now play Toad Rally with different colors of Yoshi, which will unlock Toads of that same color. Also, Nintendo’s release notes say that new buildings will be available in an upcoming event. The remainder of the updates to the game consist of tweaks to gameplay such as an expansion of the availability of Easy Mode and changes that make it easier to earn Rally Tickets for Toad’s Rally.

The update to Super Mario Run is free and available on the App Store.


Apple Acquires Workflow

Workflow, the popular automation app for iOS and one of my major areas of focus on MacStories, has been acquired by Apple.

Matthew Panzarino, reporting for TechCrunch:

Apple has finalized a deal to acquire Workflow today — a tool that lets you hook together apps and functions within apps in strings of commands to automate tasks. We’ve been tracking this one for a while but were able to confirm just now that the ink on the deal is drying as we speak.

[...]

Apple confirmed the deal, and has said the following about Workflow:

“The Workflow app was selected for an Apple Design Award in 2015 because of its outstanding use of iOS accessibility features, in particular an outstanding implementation for VoiceOver with clearly labeled items, thoughtful hints, and drag/drop announcements, making the app usable and quickly accessible to those who are blind or low-vision.”

According to Panzarino, Workflow's Ari Weinstein, Conrad Kramer, Nick Frey, and Ayaka Nonaka are joining Apple; the Workflow app will continue to be available on the App Store, and it'll become a free download later today.

Workflow doesn't need an introduction on this website. I've been covering the app since its debut in 2014, and have been following every update until the last major version, which brought the fantastic addition of Magic Variables. You can catch up on over two years of Workflow reporting and tutorials here, and access even more advanced workflows in our dedicated section on the Club MacStories newsletter.

At this stage, it's not clear what Apple's plans for Workflow in the long term might be. I have a few theories, but this isn't the time to speculate. I'll say this, though: Workflow has been the driving force behind my decision to embrace the iPad as my primary computer. Workflow is a shining example of the power of automation combined with user creativity and its underlying mission has always been clear: to allow anyone to improve how iOS can get things done for them in a better, faster, more flexible way. Workflow is the modern bicycle for the mind. There's nothing else like it.

I want to personally congratulate the Workflow team for building a beautiful product that has enabled thousands of people to be more productive from iOS every day. I hope that Apple will continue to believe in the vision behind Workflow's automation. If Apple takes Workflow seriously, its automation – now deeply integrated with iOS and private APIs – could fundamentally reinvent iOS for power users, especially on the iPad.

It's an exciting time for iOS productivity and automation. I can't wait to see what Apple's newfound interest in automation is going to produce.


Google Maps Introduces Location Sharing Features

Announced today and rolling out soon to all users, Google Maps is adding two new sharing features to its iOS app.

The first feature allows for Find My Friends-style location sharing. From the app's menu you can select 'Share Location,' which presents options for how long your real-time location will be shared, and who it will be shared with.

The second sharing feature is the more interesting one in my mind. It allows you to share your Google Maps trip information. Daniel Resnick provides the details:

Next time you’re on your way or running late, you can share your real-time location and trip progress from navigation as well. During your next trip, tap the “More” button on the bottom on the navigation screen, and then tap “Share trip.” When you share your trip with people, they’ll see your expected arrival time and can follow your journey as you head toward your destination. Sharing automatically ends when you arrive.

Although the two sharing features perform mostly the same function, this kind of trip-specific sharing seems the cleaner, simpler solution for many scenarios. The example of running late and wanting to provide real-time updates to those you're meeting is a good one. In that situation, you won't want to fiddle with choosing a specific period of time for your location to be shared – you might overestimate and need to manually turn off sharing, or underestimate and have your location stop being shared before you reach your destination. Trip-specific sharing seems like just the right solution, and it's a feature I'm eager to try out.


iTunes Adds Rent Once, Watch Anywhere Feature

In the aftermath of Apple’s announcements earlier today, it released an update to iTunes with a new feature described as rent once, watch anywhere. The release notes for iTunes 12.6, which is available as a free upgrade on the Mac App Store, say:

Now you can enjoy your iTunes movie rentals across your devices with iOS 10.3 or tvOS 10.2.

With this new feature, you should be able to start a movie rental on an iOS device and finish it at home on an Apple TV for example, which is a welcome change to what was an overly inflexible system.

iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2 are currently in beta but are expected to be released soon, at which time this new feature will be available to everyone who upgrades to those versions of the OSes.





Apple Introduces New ‘iPad’ Model with 9.7″ Display and A9 Chip Starting at $329

Following a 5-hour downtime of its online store this morning, Apple announced a new base model of the 9.7" iPad.

Starting at $329 for the 32 GB Wi-Fi version and simply called 'iPad', the new device appears to be a lower-cost replacement for the iPad Air line as the company's iPad lineup now includes iPad mini 4, the new 'iPad', and the iPad Pro in existing 9.7" and 12.9" configurations. Neither iPad Pro model received any update this morning. The iPad mini 4, on the other hand, now offers more capacity for the same price: the 128 GB Wi-Fi model is now priced at $399, while the 128 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular is available at $529.

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Starting a Website With Setapp [Sponsor]

This week, MacStories is sponsored by MacPaw, makers of Setapp.

Setapp is a subscription service for Mac apps that is a great place to start if you’re launching a blog. There’s more to starting a website than having a good text editor, though Setapp has one of the very best of those in Ulysses. Tools to organize your thoughts, focus your efforts, publish your articles, and manage your business are just as critical. Setapp has some of the very best apps in each category for just $9.99 per month.

Writers will appreciate the inclusion of iThoughtsX in Setapp for developing story ideas. When it’s time to start writing, utilities like HazeOver, which obscures windows other than the one in which you are working, and Be Focused, for Pomodoro-style timed writing sprints, are great options to keep you focused. When you’re finished writing, Markdown users will appreciate having Marked to preview how posts will look before they are published.

Setapp also includes apps to help you create and maintain your site, like Rapid Weaver for site design and Blogo for publishing your posts. To keep your business and productivity on track, Setapp offers Taskpaper, a plain-text task manager that packs lots of power under the hood and Timing to automatically track your work.

Finding the tools that fit with your work style is time consuming and expensive. Setapp reduces the friction with a highly-curated library of excellent apps at an affordable monthly price.

Our thanks to MacPaw and Setapp for sponsoring MacStories this week.