Apple has updated iTunes on macOS to eliminate ringtones, iTunes U, and perhaps most surprising of all, iOS apps. According to Apple’s support page:
Apps for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are now exclusively available in the new App Store for iOS.
iTunes 12.7 now includes music, movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, and Audiobooks only. Apple’s support page links to instructions on how to download each type of content that has been eliminated.
Although there were prior indications that Apple was streamlining iTunes, such as when it announced that iTunes U content was being eliminated from the app, the removal of downloaded iOS apps and the App Store itself is surprising. iTunes is now focused on just two types of media audio and video.
The update to iTunes also adds the Friends feature first seen in the iOS 11 beta. Apple Music subscribers can set up a profile and follow friends to see the music and playlists they are listening to. I’ve been using the Friends feature all summer and it’s been a great way to find and try new music.
Craig Grannell, writing on how Apple could make MFi controller-enabled games more user friendly on iOS:
That’s assuming anyone could find a compatible game in the first place, because Apple oddly broadly ignored controllers in the iTunes Store. You’d think the company would at least flag controller support on game pages (something it does on Apple TV), and also automate an App Store page listing compatible games. Instead, it’s left to third-party sites like Afterpad to pick up the slack, which is baffling.
Today, the MFi ecosystem is fairly mature, with a reasonable range of controllers. (My personal recommendation is the Nimbus, unless you’re desperate for a form-hugging option, in which case grab a Gamevice, in the knowledge it may not fit the next device you buy.) But Apple needs to do more to help.
It is baffling that the iOS App Store still doesn't display controller support or offer a filter to show games with MFi controller integration. It seems like they're not taking them too seriously.
Emily Steel, reporting for The New York Times:
Apple announced on Thursday that it was working with the entertainer Will.i.am and two veteran TV executives, Ben Silverman and Howard T. Owens, on a new show that will spotlight the app economy.
"One of the things with the app store that was always great about it was the great ideas that people had to build things and create things,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, said in an interview.
A docu-series about apps sounds like something I'd binge watch.
Jeff Benjamin, writing at 9to5Mac:
Schiller is now in charge of all App Stores, taking over responsibilities from Eddy Cue, which most prominently include the iOS App Store and the Mac App Store.
It’s been less than three months since the move occurred, but we’re already beginning to see a change in the way the App Store operates. For example, we’re now seeing more regular updates of the Best New Apps section at the top of the App Store’s Featured page. In a tweet today, Schiller acknowledged the changes and indicated that more changes were on the way.
I've been noticing the same, particularly on the front page, which makes sense. The App Store used to be refreshed every Thursday with Editor's Choice and featured apps. Frequent updates to the 'Best New Apps' section could help in promoting apps multiple times throughout the week.
Early this morning, Apple unveiled the 2015 edition of their annual Best of App Store lists – a collection of the best apps and games released on the App Store over the past 12 months. This year, in addition to iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps, Apple has added editorial picks for the newly launched watchOS and tvOS platforms, highlighting the best apps and games released by third-party developers on Apple Watch and Apple TV.
We debated. We argued. Everyone had favorites, but to make this list of 2015's finest, there could be no doubts. What you see here made the cut—they're the most visionary, inventive, and irresistible apps and games of the year. After you've browsed our selections, don't miss the titles that topped the charts in 2015.
In this year's Best of App Store, Apple has picked Periscope, The Robot Factory, Affinity Photo, HBO Now, and Dark Sky as apps of the year on its five developer platforms. On iOS, Apple also features special mentions for most innovative apps (Workflow on the iPhone), best app on the iPad Pro (uMake), and best app on the iPhone 6s (Instagram). On Apple TV and Apple Watch – the most recent additions to the App Store ecosystem – Apple hasn't picked any runner-ups, but instead they're simply showcasing the best apps and games. The iOS section includes apps that dominated the top charts as well, with Minecraft, Trivia Crack, Messenger, and Snapchat unsurprisingly in there.
Overall, Apple's picks offer a good mix of big budget titles and smaller, indie studios such as DeskConnect, Readdle, or The Soulmen. You can find Apple's complete Best of 2015 on the front page of each App Store today; a recap of all the winners and runner-ups (from the US App Store) is available below.
As reported by TechCrunch, Apple appears to have tweaked the search algorithm of the App Store over the past few weeks, leading to more consistent results:
According to multiple sources, including developers who tracked their own rankings, as well as app store analytics firms, the change that began November 3 included several adjustments. Apps are now ranking in search results on a mix of contextual keywords for the app, including partial keyword matches, along with competitor brand names and other matches.
I'm curious to see how this latest change will affect independent developers over the next couple of months. For better or worse, search – not the Store's curated Explore section – is still the easiest way to find any kind of app. A major change to the search algorithm can potentially affect the livelihood of thousands of indie developers.
Even if my workflow these days primarily consists of reading and writing on the iPad, there are still times when I need to share content – either text or pictures – across my iOS devices, from my iPad to my Mac, or from OS X to iOS. While I can normally achieve inter-device communication using something like Evernote to keep my notes in sync everywhere, it's not an ideal solution: why having to save and sync a temporary bit of text that simply needs to be acted upon once? Command-C, created by Italian developer Danilo Torrisi, is a clipboard sharing tool that I've been testing for the past couple of months and that has allowed me to eschew syncing services when I just want to quickly copy & paste between my Mac and iOS devices.
Apple is featuring Clumsy Ninja, an iOS game that was first announced at the iPhone 5 keynote in 2012, with a custom page on the App Store that, alongside a description, features a 1-minute trailer for the game. The custom "Featured" page is live on the UK App Store at the moment and it features Clumsy Ninja as Editor's Choice for the week; it's likely that the game will also be featured on the US App Store and other international stores later today.
The big news is, of course, the fact that Apple is embedding a video in the App Store, which has historically only allowed developers to include up to five static screenshots for their apps. Clumsy Ninja's video opens the built-in iOS media player in portrait mode, and it features music playing in the background with no voiceover or custom App Store branding. It is, effectively, a game trailer on the App Store; right now, it's only available in the special Featured page for the app, as the app's regular App Store page doesn't show the trailer.
The possibility of including videos alongside screenshots on the App Store has long been one of the most requested features by third-party developers who, over the years, have struggled to explain App Store customers the purpose of their app or game with just text and images. With iOS 7's focus on motion and animations, the lack of videos on the App Store was particularly surprising, and it led many to wonder as to whether Apple would soon add support for videos besides screenshots. When iOS 7 was first announced in June, even Apple produced a series of short videos for the OS' official website, where they showcased the new features and design through animations and quick demonstrations of Messages and other apps.
It's unclear at this point if Clumsy Ninja will remain an isolated case or become the norm for the App Store going forward. It's also not clear whether any developer will be able to add a video for their app on the App Store, or if trailers will be limited to Editor's Choice and managed by Apple's curation team on a weekly basis. Developers have traditionally resorted to creating videos and screencasts of their apps for their websites or YouTube channels, and an integrated solution available in the App Store alongside screenshots, description, and buy buttons would be a fantastic addition to better illustrate an app's feature set, flow, and user experience.
When my friend Shawn told me about the project he was working on a few months ago, I was immediately excited by its potential and premise. The Sweet Setup, launched today, wants to recommend the best apps for iOS and OS X. Not the newest ones – the best ones.
Here's how Shawn describes The Sweet Setup:
The Sweet Setup exists because I wanted a site that highlights the software that has proven to be the best, not necessarily the newest.
Here we will be recommending only the apps which are proven to be the best rather than new (I already write plenty about what’s new and cool over at shawnblanc.net and Tools & Toys). Additionally, by focusing on only the best, it means all the content on our site is relevant all the time. I didn’t want to post our articles in a reverse-chronological order that, by nature, would cause still-helpful reviews to be pushed out of view once new reviews get published.
I think that Shawn had the perfect idea at the right time. With over a million apps now available on the App Store, people need a “Wirecutter for apps” with recommendations thoroughly researched and written by people who test and use apps every day.
The Sweet Setup looks great, the initial line-up of recommendations is solid, and more will come in the next few weeks.
I'm honored to be part of Shawn's new project from the start, too: what's the best Markdown writing app for the iPhone? Here's my answer.