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Posts tagged with "developers"

Apple Amends App Review Guidelines to Permit Game Emulators and Make Other Changes

Yesterday, Apple announced an update to its App Review Guidelines in a brief post on its developer site. The changes to sections 3.1.1(a) and 4.7 of the guidelines, which apply globally to all apps distributed through Apple’s App Store, address three items:

  • game emulators,
  • super apps, and
  • linking to the web from inside music streaming apps to make purchases outside the App Store

Historically, game emulators were forbidden from the App Store. As a result, an emulator like Delta, which can play games released for Nintendo systems through the N64, could only be used on iPhones through a clever combination of developer tools and a Mail plug-in. In contrast, there are plenty of emulators on the Google Play store for Android users to download.

Revised section 4.7 of the App Review guidelines specifically allows retro gaming emulators:

Mini apps, mini games, streaming games, chatbots, plug-ins, and game emulators

Apps may offer certain software that is not embedded in the binary, specifically HTML5 mini apps and mini games, streaming games, chatbots, and plug-ins. Additionally, retro game console emulator apps can offer to download games.

Presumably, this will allow Delta and other emulators onto the App Store, so they can be used to play game files stored on iPhones.

The change to section 4.7 also says that “mini apps and mini games, streaming games, chatbots, and plug-ins” of the sort found in apps like WeChat must be created with HTML 5, a clarification of the language previously used.

Finally, section 3.1.1(a) of the App Review Guidelines allows music streaming services to link out to the web from their apps so customers can make purchases outside the App Store. The change addresses the anti-steering provisions for which Apple was fined $2 billion by the EU, and Apple has said it will appeal.

Over 250 Apps from Indie Developers Are On Sale Now

The folks at Indie App Sales are back with another big sale featuring apps from some of your favorite indie developers. This time around, they have over 250 apps in the lineup, including MacStories favorites like:

The sale periods vary by app, but most are offering discounts today and tomorrow, so check it out and grab a great deal on these excellent apps and support indie development.

Apple Announces New Distribution Options for iOS Developers in the EU

Apple has announced a trio of additional changes related to iOS developers in the EU where it is subject to the Digital Markets Act. The changes, which are outlined on Apple’s developer website, include:

  • Effective immediately, developers that offer alternative marketplaces will no longer be required to offer apps from other developers, meaning that a company like Meta could open a store with just its apps in the EU.
  • Also effective immediately, Apple has relaxed the requirements surrounding linking out to external webpages from an app. Developers are no longer required to use Apple’s templates, and instead, can design their own interfaces that link out to promotions, discounts, and deals that can be completed outside of the App Store.
  • Later this spring, developers in the EU will be allowed to offer their apps directly from their websites instead of through an alternative marketplace. There are eligibility requirements in Apple’s developer documentation, but this is a significant change that should open up a wider range of storefronts to users.

Whether it’s the result of feedback from developers or pressure from the European Commission, watching the app landscape transformed in very public fits and starts is fascinating.


The Apple Vision Pro Developer Strap

Jeff Benjamin writing for 9to5Mac has a comprehensive breakdown on what the Apple Vision Pro Developer Strap can and can’t do. One of the primary benefits for developers is capturing video. As Benjamin writes:

The Developer Strap also lets developers capture a direct video feed from Apple Vision Pro via a wired USB-C connection using Reality Composer Pro. Files transfers of the captured feed occur via the direct USB-C connection. Users without the strap can still capture these feeds but via Wi-Fi only.

Benjamin also explains how to use the strap to access Recovery Mode:

You can also restore visionOS using Recovery Mode via the wired connection made possible by the Developer Strap. This includes downgrading from visionOS beta releases.

My experience is in line with Benjamin’s. The Developer Strap may make capturing short videos and screenshots easier, but it can’t do much else.

I will add, however, that I was contacted by a MacStories reader who tipped me off to one other thing the Developer Strap can do, which is act as a video source for QuickTime. This works a lot like capturing screenshots and video from an Apple TV via QuickTime, and the advantage is that you can capture more than the 60-second cap imposed by Reality Composer Pro. That’s great, except that the capture is foveated, meaning that the video recorded will be blurry everywhere except where you’re looking.


Apple Offers USB-C Enabled Vision Pro Strap to Registered Developers

Apple is offering a new Vision Pro accessory to registered developers: a head strap with a USB-C connector for $299. There aren’t a lot of details about the strap, which is designed to be connected to a Mac to accelerate development and testing for the Vision Pro, other than this description that is behind a developer account login:


The Developer Strap is an optional accessory that provides a USB-C connection between Apple Vision Pro and Mac and is helpful for accelerating the development of graphics-intensive apps and games. The Developer Strap provides the same audio experience as the in-box Right Audio Strap, so developers can keep the Developer Strap attached for both development and testing.

Tech specs

  • USB-C data connection
  • Individually amplified dual driver audio pods
  • Compatible with Mac

Although we haven’t been able to confirm the capabilities of the Developer Strap, USB-C may allow developers to connect the Vision Pro to their network over Ethernet or access external storage, for example.

Why is a USB-C dongle $299? It’s expensive, but as the description makes clear, it incorporates the speaker found in Vision Pro’s right strap, which it replaces, explaining at least part of the cost.

Understanding Apple’s Response to the DMA

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

What a week. When it began to look like Apple would announce how it planned to comply with the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), I expected small changes at the margins that wouldn’t significantly move the needle in the EU or anywhere else. Boy, I was wrong.

Instead, we got a far-reaching, complex response that touches aspects of iOS, system apps, the App Store. There’s a lot of ground to cover, but Federico and I have talked to Apple a couple of times each about what was announced and ask questions, so it’s time to dive and try to make sense of everything.

Before getting too deep into the weeds, it’s important to understand why Apple made its announcement last week and, whether you share it or not, the company’s perspective. That makes understanding the details of what was announced easier and will hopefully help you parse legitimate criticisms of Apple’s plans from hollow hot-takes.

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MacStories Selects 2023: Recognizing the Best Apps of the Year

John: Every year, it seems like the MacStories Selects awards roll around faster than the last, and this year was no exception. For most people, the year begins on January 1st, but for us, WWDC marks the beginning of our year, and the MacStories Selects Awards feel like its conclusion. Plenty happens the rest of the year, but it’s these seven months that are the main event for us.

June begins with excitement about what developers will be able to do with Apple’s latest frameworks. Reconnecting with developers and meeting new people energizes and carries us through a busy summer and fall. This year marked Federico’s return to WWDC for the first time since the pandemic, and seeing so many developers together made this year’s WWDC the best in years.

2023 was an exciting year for apps. Read-later apps continued to be hot, but nothing was quite as big as interactive widgets, which brought new experiences to our Home and Lock Screens and shook up how many of us set up our devices.

Next year promises to be an even bigger year for apps with an all-new Vision Pro App Store on the way. For now, though, it’s time to pause and reflect on the many apps we tried in the year gone by and recognize the best among them.

Like last year, we’ve picked the best apps in seven categories:

  • Best New App
  • Best App Update
  • Best New Feature
  • Best Watch App
  • Best Mac App
  • Best Design
  • App of the Year

But there’s more. Club MacStories members picked the winner of the MacStories Selects Readers’ Choice Award. Plus, as we’ve done the past couple of years, we’ve named a Lifetime Achievement Award winner that has stood the test of time and had an outsized impact on the world of apps. This year’s winner, which joins past winners PCalc and Drafts, is the subject of a special story I wrote for the occasion.

We also recorded a special episode of AppStories covering all the winners and runners-up. It’s a terrific way to learn more about this year’s apps.

You can listen to the episode below.


So with that, it’s my pleasure to introduce the 2023 MacStories Selects Awards to the MacStories community.

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2023 MacStories Selects Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of the Pixelmator Team’s image editing apps at MacStories. A lot of our coverage in recent years has focused on Pixelmator Pro and Photomator, but long before those apps ever hit the App Store, there was just plain Pixelmator, an app that’s still available on the iPhone and iPad, and I still use regularly.

Pixelmator debuted on the Mac in the fall of 2007. Here’s how the Pixelmator Team described the release on its blog:

Pixelmator Team today released Pixelmator 1.0, GPU-powered image editing tool that provides everything needed to create, edit, and enhance still images.

Built from the ground up on a combination of open source and Mac OS X technologies, Pixelmator features powerful selection, painting, retouching, navigation, and color correction tools, and layers-based image editing, GPU-powered image processing, color management, automation, and transparent HUD user interface for work with images.

It’s fun to look back at the app’s launch page with its focus on the iSight camera, iPhoto, and the latest Mac OS X technologies like Core Image and Open GL. It feels dated now, but the fundamentals that made Pixelmator an exciting new app in 2007 are just as important for the app and the Pixelmator Team’s other apps today as they were then.

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