CBS News Logo Apple’s App Store turns five: You’re great, now change

What a difference five years makes. Apple's App Store has a lot to brag about as it celebrates its fifth birthday on Wednesday. Over the last half decade, it helped fully realize the Swiss army-capabilities of the smartphone, which could do far more than make phone calls and browse the Internet. While not the first, it set the standard for mobile application marketplaces to come. The best part: it made apps accessible to everyone. "Nothing like the App Store existed before and it has fundamentally changed the world," Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said last month, describing the store's launch at the company's yearly developer conference ahead of today's anniversary. But things have changed since the App Store was first introduced by the late Steve Jobs, and Google Play has surpassed the App Store when it comes to sheer number of available apps. While Apple's App Store has always been home to the hottest big-name apps, its success over the next five years may be shaped by how well it can foster apps both big and small. "It winds up being a popularity contest rather than people finding the content that they want," said Brian Blau, Gartner's research director of consumer technology. Users are exposed to the top few thousand most popular apps, he added, so apps must compete for rankings or to get promoted as, say, a staff favorite. That disenfranchises all the apps without brand recognition or marketing firepower. For now, Apple has a lot of impressive numbers to tout. Its App Store has surpassed 50 billion apps downloaded, with 900,000 programs available. Apple brags it's paid out $10 billion to developers, testament that it pays to work with the company even as it takes a 30 percent cut of sales. Apple has done a great job attracting the developers, Blau points out, by being the leader for developer revenues. As a result, the iPhone franchise remains the envy of the smartphone industry, even as rival Samsung Electronics has made significant headway with its Continue Reading

Net neutrality app is a lesson in Apple’s App Store power

 The sprawling inventory of the iOS App Store can suggest a limitless universe of software possibilities. But a recent, quickly reversed app rejection by Apple offers an opposite lesson: Apple’s mobile-app marketplace has boundaries that Apple alone sets.The app in question is a free network-diagnostic tool called Wehe that’s supposed to tell if your Internet provider is interfering with certain video apps' traffic, say on YouTube or Netflix, a question on the minds of people who argued for keeping the recently repealed net neutrality regulations designed to prevent providers from slowing or blocking legal content.Northeastern University computer-science professor David Choffnes had shipped a version of this net-neutrality monitoring tool for Android app months ago without incident. But when he submitted a version for iOS, Apple rejected it.Apple’s rationale, expressed in a message Choffnes shared in a forwarded screenshot, was that Wehe “may mislead users by providing inaccurate determinations.”That may not make much sense if you’ve had, say, the Yelp or TripAdvisor apps on your iPhone offer “inaccurate determinations” about a restaurant or hotel.But the App Store is Apple’s world, and it gets to make the rules there. Its app-review guidelines run almost 10,000 words, but the important ones are these: “We will reject apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line.”Choffnes had tried to appeal this rejection since the first thumbs-down in December, but the only thing that changed Apple’s mind was him going public, which yielded a bout of uncomplimentary stories about Apple’s rejection of an app meant to defend net neutrality. By Thursday, it had approved the app, and the resulting rush of installs left the Wehe servers struggling to deal with the new traffic. More: Net neutrality: The FCC voted to end it. What that means for you More: Continue Reading

Apple Blocks Net Neutrality Tracking App From App Store

An app designed to monitor data speeds of certain apps to track potential violations of net neutrality has been blocked by Apple from appearing in the App Store, according to a report from Motherboard . The app, called WeHe, is designed to test the download speeds of seven popular streaming apps in order to determine if an internet service provider is slowing down data speeds while the services are in use. Developed by David Coffnes, a researcher at Northeastern University, WeHe is intended to act as a monitor to prevent mobile carriers and internet providers from throttling services and slowing data speeds—a violation of one of the bright line rules of net neutrality. Of the tenants of net neutrality—no blocking content, no slowing or throttling data and no paid prioritization that offers higher speeds to services who pay for it—data speeds are the hardest for consumers to track. Connections can fluctuate for any number of reasons and it can be hard to determine if a service isn’t working due to throttling from the network provider or just a spotty reception. WeHe would put an end to the speculation by providing some more definite answers. It tests download speeds from YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, Vimeo, Amazon, NBCSports and Skype—all apps that consume a considerable amount of bandwidth and require a consistent, good connection to operate. Those services are some of the prime candidates to be slowed by carriers. For providers like Verizon and AT&T that offer their own streaming services, apps like Netflix and Vimeo are viewed as competitors. Carriers can put their own products at an advantage by throttling competitors. WeHe tests for net neutrality violations. Photo: Screengrab via Google Play Store According to Motherboard, a test version of the WeHe app successfully determined that Verizon appeared to be capping data speeds from video streaming services. While most downloads occurred at speeds of up to 25Mbps, those speeds Continue Reading

Apple says it is removing VPN services from China App Store

By Cate Cadell BEIJING (Reuters) - Apple Inc says it is removing virtual private network (VPN) services from its app store in China, drawing criticism from VPN service providers, who accuse the U.S. tech giant of bowing to pressure from Beijing cyber regulators. VPNs allow users to bypass China's so-called "Great Firewall" aimed at restricting access to overseas sites. In January, Beijing passed laws seeking to ban all VPNs that are not approved by state regulators. Approved VPNs must use state network infrastructure. In a statement on Sunday, an Apple spokeswoman confirmed it will remove apps that don't comply with the law from its China App Store, including services based outside the country. Beijing has shut down dozens of China-based providers and it has been targeting overseas services as it bids to tighten its control over the internet, especially ahead of the Communist Party congress in August. While personal VPN providers have been the subject of state-led attacks in the past, this marks the first time Apple has complied with requests to scrub overseas providers from its store, a move that VPN providers say is unnecessarily supportive of China's heightened censorship regime. VPN provider ExpressVPN said on Saturday that it had received a notice from Apple that its software would be removed from the China App Store "because it includes content that is illegal in China". "We're disappointed in this development, as it represents the most drastic measure the Chinese government has taken to block the use of VPNs to date, and we are troubled to see Apple aiding China's censorship efforts," ExpressVPN said in a statement. Other major providers, including VyprVPN and StarVPN, confirmed they also received the notice on Saturday from Apple. "We view access to Internet in China as a human rights issue and I would expect Apple to value human rights over profit," Sunday Yokubaitis, president of Golden Frog, which oversees VyprVPN told Reuters Continue Reading

Apple’s App Store turns five and digital gaming has been changed forever

Yes, it's been that long. On Wednesday, Apple's App Store, which fundamentally changed the way you viewed your smartphone, celebrated its fifth birthday. It did so in style, with Apple handing out a handful of free apps (good ones, too, so you might want to check it out). And why not? That day on July 10, 2008, hardly seemed like a landmark moment at the time, but it completely redefined everything from smartphones to video games. It was on that day that a revolution began, that the smartphone began a surprising charge past the Game Boys and PSPs of the world, and that discs headed towards redundancy. Apple started it all, and there's no better time to consider this than on the App Store's fifth anniversary. You can't tell this success story in sheer numbers, even if the numbers are massive. In the last five years, more than 50 billion apps have been downloaded and more than 900,000 programs are available. According to Apple, more than $10 billion has been paid out to developers as of last month. Six billion dollars of those riches have been paid out since January of last year, a testament to how the App Store completely exploded in 2012. But if you really want to understand the impact of the App Store, you need to look past all the big numbers, look at the world of video games, the rollercoaster launch of Windows 8, and the simple way that you use your phone. The App Store started all of this, and even as it faces a strong challenge from the surging Google Play, the App Store, somehow, remains the gold standard. *** Want to know what the App Store truly did? It made digital-only completely hip and cool. In reality, this was a natural evolution bound to happen; CDs and DVDs are a pain to keep and store, and the internet download speeds were gradually creeping upwards. Heck, pirates had trafficked in downloaded programs for years. But there was long a stigma attached to the idea of NOT owning something physical, of not having a pointless DVD Continue Reading

iPad magazine publisher Nomad Editions’ catalog to be available on other mobile devices

Don't let anyone tell you magazines are dead. They're just going digital.Nomad Editions, a magazine publisher with a diverse line-up of magazines "delivered digitally to your iPad" and iPhone.Apple is set to expire this fall, meaning that its current catalog of seven different publications will soon be available on a variety of electronic devices, a company spokesperson told the Daily News.Newsweek President Mark Edmiston's family of touchscreen-zines includes a financial journal, dog, wine, and movie mags, and perhaps most fittingly for the format, u+me, a new joint featuring articles on Internet culture and social media.Chris Kaye, editor of u+me, likens his publication to "a National Lampoon in the 70s for social media" in it's satirical, irreverant approach to the topic.The Real Housewives of New Jersey for eternity.”Vatican (follow @TheRealGabriel on Twitter "for up-to-the-minute updates on when the world is ending in your time zone") and a report on Craigslist ads requesting furniture and appliances expected to be left-behind by true believers.Like all of Nomad's products, u+me is noticeably ad-free, which according to a company spokesperson affords editors "full creative freedom to write about whatever they want."iTunes App Store for 99 cents per month, and coming soon to other eReaders. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Apple battles rival Amazon over ‘app store’ name with trademark lawsuit

Sue a rival for stealing your trademark? There isn't an app for that - but Apple may want to consider creating one. The tech giant, which is suing for trademark infringement over the term "app store," this week tried to shoot down Amazon's claim that the phrase is generic and putting the words together "denote a store for apps," said Apple in a federal court filing in Oakland, Calif. Apple went to court in March to prevent the online retail giant from using "AppStore" to sell its software applications for mobile devices using Android. Apple, which owns the popular iTunes app store, argued it has exclusive rights to the phrase. Amazon fired back last month with its own court filing, claiming Apple doesn't have exclusive rights to it. Amazon opened its app store on March 22. Apple, meanwhile, took another step in developing its new cloud music service that allows users to access their song collections on smartphones, MP3 players and tablets from the Internet instead of downloading music into a device's memory. The company has reached agreements with three leading record labels and is in negotiations with a fourth, sources told Bloomberg News. Record companies are looking for ways to revive stagnant digital sales and reclaim customers who are now able to stream songs over the Internet for free. While Apple is following Amazon and Google in allowing users to stream music, Amazon and Google didn't lock down licensing deals with record labels before debuting their own cloud services. There's still no word on when Apple's service will be available, or whether it will charge a fee. An announcement could come on June 6 at Apple's developers conference. With News Wire Services Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Days after ‘Baby Shaker’ controversy, Apple’s App Store reaches one billion downloads

Apple's App Store for moblile device applications, a popular destination for Apple iPhone and iPod Touch owners, has reached its billionth download.Apple announced the news on its Web site Wednesday night, after holding a countdown for the past two weeks. The milestone comes just nine months after the App Store first launched.Customer number one billion, whose name hasn't been announced, will win a prize package of Apple goodies including $10,000 in iTunes credit, a 17-inch MacBook Pro, a 32GB iPod touch and an Apple Time Capsule wireless backup device. More than 37 million devices are running Apple's mobile operating system, PC World reported. That includes over 21 million iPhones and 15 million iPod touches. The "apps" available to customers range from useful to silly. Some of the popular ones include Shazam, which identifies songs while they're playing, Urban Spoon, a restaurant locator, and iFart, which, well, makes farting noises. Apple came under fire earlier this week for an application called Baby Shaker, which involved users shaking their phone to silence a wailing virtual baby. The app was yanked from the store after complaints from parents and advocacy groups. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Apple apologizes for 11-hour iTunes and App Store outage

Apple had a rough Wednesday morning. The iTunes, iBooks, and mobile and Mac App Stores all suffered an 11-hour long outage. The online services went down at approximately 5 a.m. and went back up at 4 p.m., according to Apple's status page. Halfway though the day, Apple released a statement to CNBC explaining its service outage: “We apologize to our customers experiencing problems with iTunes and other services this morning. The cause was an internal DNS error at Apple. We’re working to make all of the services available to customers as soon as possible, and we thank everyone for their patience.” The iTunes Store, mobile App Store and Mac App Store were still accessible during the outage, but users were unable to make purchases. Apple developers' tools like iTunes Connect, which lets people make changes to apps and games, and TestFlight, which lets users test early app version, were also down. People on Twitter from all around the world reported that Apple's online services were also down in their country. The Next Web received reports from Australia, Brazil, Poland, Mexico and Japan saying that iTunes was down. Apple Inc.'s stock traded down about .75 percent throughout the outage, according to CNBC. Follow: @MrAlexAlba Continue Reading

Apple removes mobile games with Confederate flags from App Store

Apple is the latest company to discontinue merchandise bearing the Confederate flag from its App Store. Following the tragic church massacre in South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley announced that the Confederate flag would be removed from Statehouse grounds due to its symbolism of racism and its representation of slavery. Retail stores Walmart, Sears and Amazon also pulled products that featured the flag. Follow The Daily News on Facebook. Click here to "Like." Following suit, Apple has now removed several apps that used the Confederate flag in any way. Some of those include strategy games like Civil War: 1862, Civil War: 1863, Civil War: 1864 and Civil War: Gettysburg. However, those titles revolved around the history of that American war, so the Confederate flag's depiction made sense. Andrew Mulholland, director of the Civil War franchise, told Kotaku that the games were pulled without any warning. "It seems disappointing that they would remove it as they weren't being used in an offensive way, being that they were historical war games and hence it was the flag used at the time," Mulholland said. "At the moment we're working the games to replace the flags that are deemed offensive." Mulholland says the banner in the game will be replaced with the one used in 1861 and 1862, since the Confederate flag that is deemed offensive wasn't introduced until late 1862. "The Dukes of Hazard" game is still available on the app store; it features a car named the General Lee with a Confederate flag atop. Apple did not immediately respond to the Daily News' request for comment. Continue Reading