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Apple Announces WWDC 2016: Kicks Off June 13 with Sessions Live Streamed Daily

After confirming the dates via Siri earlier today, Apple has announced the official dates for WWDC 2016 with a press release and a website update. This year's WWDC will start in San Francisco on June 13 and runs through June 17.

“With four innovative operating systems and a new, intuitive programming language powering over 1 billion devices worldwide, there has never been a more exciting time to bring our developer community together,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “WWDC 2016 is going to be a landmark event for developers who are coding in Swift, and building apps and products for iOS, OS X, watchOS and tvOS. We can’t wait for everyone to join us — in San Francisco or through the live stream.”

For the first time, the initial keynote address and Monday's kickoff events will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco; the rest of the event, including the technical sessions, will be held at the usual Moscone West location (the company's traditional Bash event will also be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Thursday).

Apple writes:

The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off at the historic Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for an unforgettable Monday as Apple’s renowned developer community comes together to learn about the future of OS X, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. The Keynote and State of the Union promise exciting reveals, providing inspiration and new opportunities to continue creating the most innovative apps in the world. End the day by honoring the most remarkable developers of the year at the Apple Design Awards.

Like last year, Apple will be awarding tickets to attendees through a random selection system (effectively, a lottery). Developers will be able to apply today through April 22 at 10 AM PDT, and they will know their status by Monday, April 25 at 5 PM PDT. There are also 350 WWDC Scholarships available, giving students and members of participating STEM organizations a chance to get a free ticket.

This year, Apple will celebrate apps that apps that "demonstrate technical excellence, innovation and outstanding design" with Apple Design Awards for all their major software platforms – iOS, OS X, tvOS, and watchOS.

In addition to a heavily Swift-themed website, Apple has also confirmed that they will live stream sessions from WWDC daily through the WWDC app and website. Those interested in attending WWDC can check out the dedicated webpage here.

Apple Announces WWDC 2016 via Siri

Apple has announced (or inadvertently leaked) the official dates for WWDC 2016. This year's WWDC will start in San Francisco on June 13th and runs through June 17th. Unlike past years, Apple appears to have announced the dates today via Siri. 9to5Mac discovered that if you ask Siri when WWDC will be held, you get the response "The World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) will be held June 13 through June 17 in San Francisco. I'm so excited!" Just this morning, Siri's response to the same question was that WWDC had not been announced yet.

We expect that ticketing and other details will be announced soon.

New Apple TV Live Tune-In Feature

MacRumors is reporting that a new feature is beginning to show up on the latest generation Apple TV called Live Tune-In. The feature, described on an Apple TV splash screen, lets you use the Siri Remote to access live streamed media available in certain Apple TV apps. According to MacRumors:

To use Live Tune-In, Apple TV users can speak into the Siri Remote using commands like "Watch CBS," or specifically ask to "Watch ESPN live."

Little by little, the Siri Remote is becoming a more powerful tool for quickly navigating Apple TV apps in a way that is not unlike the evolution we have seen with Siri on iOS.


Smile Adjusts Pricing For Existing Customers of TextExpander

Smile Software found itself at the center of a firestorm of controversy last week when it moved to a subscription pricing model for TextExpander that made a lot of sense to business users, but less so for individuals. To its credit, Smile has listened to customer feedback and is instituting two changes to what was announced last week.

  • First, existing customers of TextExpander will receive a lifetime 50% discount on its new subscription service, instead of a discount on the first year only. With this change, existing customers can continue to enjoy TextExpander and future updates for $20/year.
  • Second, TextExpander 5 for Mac and TextExpander touch 3 for iOS will continue to be sold and maintained. So, if you prefer, or need, Dropbox or iCloud syncing of your text snippets, you can continue to use these products.

Software pricing is hard, and it’s never been more difficult to build and maintain sustainable Mac and iOS apps. Smile’s initial decision struck many as an abandonment of consumer software for an enterprise model. As Smile Founder Greg Scown explained on Smile’s blog, that is not the case:

To some of you it may seem we don’t care about our individual customers any more and only care about business use. We care about both, and in the changing software world a single focus is not a viable long term strategy for TextExpander. We did not make these changes easily or lightly, but for the long term life of the product so we can all enjoy it and engage with it for many years to come.

I’m glad to see Smile make these changes. It’s not easy to balance the needs of business and individual customers, but I think the changes announced today strike a fair balance that addresses the legitimate complaints that many individual users of TextExpander had with its new business model. I for one am signing up.

Apple Pulls Third-Party Reddit Clients for NSFW Content

Update (4am PDT 12 April 2016): Some of the third-party Reddit clients have now returned to the App Store. Both Narwhal and Antenna are now available in the App Store, but both have been updated to remove the NSFW toggle that used to be in their apps. It is our understanding that Apple's objection is with the implementation of those NSFW toggles. Apple wants them removed from all Reddit apps so that if a user does want to view NSFW content, that toggle must be manually changed from the Reddit website.

Today, numerous third-party Reddit clients were removed from the App Store by Apple for breaching clause 18.2 of the App Review Guidelines. This clause states that apps will be rejected if they contain "user generated content that is frequently pornographic".

The official Reddit app, which launched last week and was featured by Apple on the App Store, currently remains in the App Store, but other Reddit clients including Narwhal, Antenna, Eggplant and BaconReader have all been removed for sale. These third-party Reddit clients were removed from Apple without any advance notice to developers, despite some of the apps being available on the App Store for well over a year. It should also be noted that many of these third-party apps, such as Narwhal, did have a filter to enable or disable NSFW content.

It is our understanding that Reddit did not ask Apple to remove the third-party Reddit apps. This aligns with Reddit's statement from last week (after the launch of the official Reddit app) in which Reddit's VP of Consumer Product stated "if you already have an app you like, you're free to continue enjoying it".

Rick Harrison, co-author of the Narwhal Reddit client provided this quote to MacStories:

It also seems that a few other popular third-party Reddit apps were removed from the store, but not the official Reddit app. I reached out to Reddit asking them if they knew anything, and they informed me that they did not request Apple to pull these apps, and they were also receiving issues from Apple about 18.2. I think that Apple did not pull their app because they are a big company and were recently featured. As shown time and time again, Apple does not really care whatsoever about indie developers. From taking 30% of barely any revenue to rejecting apps based on features that have been available for 18+ months.

It is too soon to say, but Apple's actions today may well be the latest example of policy and procedural failure on App Review. We covered this topic in detail in a story last month which chronicled the depth of developer frustration at App Review.

We will continue to monitor this story and provide further updates and details as we come across them.

Daylite: The Productivity App for Individuals and Teams, Exclusively for Mac and iOS [Sponsor]

This week is sponsored by Marketcircle, the developers of Daylite.

Daylite is a business productivity app that organizes your contacts, calendars, tasks, emails, notes, projects, and new business opportunities – all in one app. It helps you stay on top of calls and meetings, prioritize your tasks, and track projects and new business opportunities on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

You can use Daylite on your own to manage your solo business, or use it within a team to schedule meetings, delegate tasks, and track projects together. Daylite is a native app so you don’t need an Internet connection to use it. Your information is stored right on your Apple device so it’s always with you. When you get an Internet connection, it syncs your Mac, iPhone, and iPad so you and your team are up-to-date.

Daylite is loved by consultants, real estate agents, lawyers, photographers, designers, and more. For many small businesses, Daylite is the lifeline of their business and “makes order out of what would otherwise be chaos”. Learn how small businesses use Daylite to stay organized and increase productivity on Marketcircle’s website.

Our thanks to Marketcircle for sponsoring MacStories this week.

Apple Debuts New Apple TV Ad, ‘Father Time’

Actor Michael B. Jordan and NBA legend Kobe Bryant star in a new Apple TV commercial called 'Father Time' that highlights the Apple TV's Siri integration. Bryant who announced his retirement at the end of the 2015-16 NBA season, sits down on a couch with Jordan and says "Siri, open the NBA app." The app opens and the two begin watching footage of Bryant's early career. Bryant explains to Jordan, "That's the guy you're playing in this movie, a cold blooded assassin."

Jordan clearly has something different in mind. He grabs the remote and asks Siri to play The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and then to fast forward to 20:36 where he pauses the movie on an image of Brad Pitt as an old man and says "Now that's the guy I'm playing in this movie", at which point Bryant kicks Jordan out. The minute-long advertisement is funny and cleverly manages to incorporate both sports and movie content on the Apple TV, while also demoing some of the core Siri features on the Apple TV.

Microsoft Launches Hub Keyboard for iOS

Microsoft has been on a roll on iOS lately. In addition to the news from the Outlook team that Sunrise integrations are coming back as Calendar Apps for Outlook on iOS, Microsoft Garage, its experimental apps project, launched an iOS keyboard called Hub.

Hub, which has a nice clean design, is tightly integrated with Microsoft Office 365. Hub has an extra row at the top of the keyboard that lets you paste from a clipboard history, your contacts, or your OneDrive and Sharepoint documents. Hub, which is a free download on the App Store, can also help you translate what you type into other languages.


Reddit Launches Official iOS App

For a long time, Reddit was unique among large online communities for its lack of an official mobile client on any platform. That gap was filled by third party developers who made popular Reddit clients like Alien Blue and Narwal. Then in 2014, Reddit purchase Alien Blue, which has been the official Reddit client for the last 18 months.

Today, Reddit launched a new official iOS client called appropriately, Reddit. At the same time, Reddit has removed the iPhone version of Alien Blue from the App Store. The iPad version of Alien Blue remains in the App Store and is free because for now at least, Reddit is iPhone only.

Some of the highlights of the new Reddit app include card and compact views, a dark mode called ‘Reddit night’, which was also available in Alien Blue, a ‘safe for work browsing’ toggle, and support for multiple accounts. In addition, if you log into Reddit during launch week, you get a free three-month trial of Reddit’s gold membership, which is normally $3.99/month or $29.99/year. Based on my initial use of the app, Reddit is a solid debut. The card view is nice for browsing media, but switching to compact mode is great for skimming through lots of items quickly. I also appreciate the inclusion of a night mode.

Reddit, which is iPhone only, is available for download on the App Store for free.