Kickstarter iOS app updated w/ new design and iPad support

Almost a year after shipping its iPhone app, Kickstarter has released version 2.0 which includes full iPad support for the crowdfunding service’s app as well as a new design using a card interface for projects. As with the iPhone version, Kickstarter says its iPad app helps users find new projects to back and keep up with updates on projects you follow, now only bigger with the tablet… Read more

Touching the dial: How iTunes Radio could be tuned for a better user experience

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iTunes Radio, Apple’s first real foray into streaming music, made its public debut back in June 2013, where it was announced alongside iOS 7. Over a year since its release, the service hasn’t exactly taken over the world, quite literally. It’s still only available in the United States and Australia. If you compared iTunes Radio today with iTunes Radio as it existed the day it was first available to use, you’ll notice that not much has really changed.

Of course, just last May, Apple announced its acquisition of Beats Electronics, which brought along with it Beats Music, a robust and almost entirely different approach to streaming music. While Apple may seek to integrate Beats Music more tightly with iTunes in the future, at this time it hasn’t.

So in the meantime, what could Apple do to make iTunes Radio more appealing to customers? Some might say the music selection is limited, or that streaming doesn’t always work correctly. However, focusing on the service strictly from a feature standpoint, there are many small changes and additions Apple could implement that would have a huge impact on the usefulness and utility of iTunes Radio. Let’s take a look.

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Opinion: Could there be method in Apple’s apparent madness in removing freebies?

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I was extremely surprised when Apple made the decision to drop its Single of the Week, after doing the same thing with its 12 Days of Christmas promo. As I wrote then, the free single seemed a win-win-win: consumers got free music, lesser-known artists got exposure, Apple got the goodwill that stems from giving away free stuff.

But thinking more about it, perhaps there is method in Apple’s madness after all. Let’s start with the obvious point: the company is about to launch an Apple-branded Beats Music service, and it would then make sense to say that this, not iTunes freebies, is the way to discover new music.

But it’s not just music: 12 Days of Christmas was content of all types, apps included, so I think there could be a bigger picture here. Bear with me while I make that case in a slightly roundabout fashion …

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Skype for iPhone updated with UI improvements, limited pre-release program now available

Microsoft is rolling out a new version of Skype for iPhone today, version 5.9, which brings enhancements to the user interface making communicating faster and easier. The latest version adds contact suggestions to the dial pad when entering a number making the process of finding the right person to dial quicker. The update also adds shortcuts for starting video or audio calls from Skype’s chat picker window.

In addition to introducing the latest Skype for iPhone user interface improvements, Microsoft announced a limited pre-release program for testing early versions of Skype in exchange for sharing feedback and ideas… Read more

Google rolling out major update to Google Translate iOS app with Word Lens and near-realtime conversation translation

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Google has announced that it will shortly be rolling out a new version of its Google Translate iOS app, with two significant enhancements.

First, it is replacing the existing camera-based text translation with the far slicker Word Lens system. Google acquired Word Lens back in May of last year with this upgrade in mind. If you haven’t ever tried it, this was the app that brought home to me the truth of the Arthur C Clarke saying that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

The near-instant augmented reality translation of signs and menus from any one of French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish–without needing an Internet connection–still makes me boggle every time I use it …

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AllCast media streaming app makes it to iOS, works with Apple TV, Roku, Xbox, FireTV and more

The AllCast media streaming app–which allows photos, music and video to be beamed from a mobile device to an Apple TV, Roku, Xbox, FireTV and a range of smart TVs–has now made it to iOS, following the release of the Android app last month (shown in the above video). It’s compatible with the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and is optimized for iPhone 5 and up.

The app works in a very similar way to the Chromecast stick–or, as the developer puts it, “no setup necessary, it just works like magic” …  Read more

Apple defends against EU 14-day refund abuse with App Store alert for customers with excessive refunds on file

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Last week, we reported on a flaw with the EU’s new no-questions-asked 14-day refund policy that meant customers could effectively get paid apps for free, as refunding the app does not delete it from customers’ devices.

In response, Apple has adjusted its App Store purchases slightly for customers who have an excessive number of refunds on file. This means people with a track record of refunding purchase effectively lose the right to refund their purchase.

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British prime minister says he’ll ban encrypted chat apps if he can’t see your messages

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For several months we’ve followed the U.S. government’s attempts to work around encryption in chat apps, even taking the hyperbole to an illogical extreme at one point, but we haven’t yet seen similar threats from other nations… or at least, we hadn’t until today.

British prime minister David Cameron said today that unless the government is given backdoor access to encrypted messaging services, he’s just going to outlaw them:

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Apple adds Games for Kids sub-section to App Store in ‘5 and under’, ‘6-8′ and ‘9-11′ groupings

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Following the dedicated Kids section added to the App Store back in 2013, Apple has now addedGames for Kids sub-section. Like its parent category, Apple has split it out into three different age ranges: 5 and under, 6-8 and 9-11.

Apple is also featuring the free book Family Time with Apps in the new section, created by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center to “help parents better understand the variety of ways that apps can support children’s healthy development and family learning, communication and connection” …  Read more

French app to show support for Je Suis Charlie campaign approved in one hour after contacting Tim Cook

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As iOS developers will know, it can take a while to get a new iPhone app approved, with one online tracker showing that the average time is currently around ten days. The developers of a free app enabling people to express support for the Je Suis Charlie campaign following the terrorist attack in France didn’t want to wait. French news agency Nice-Matin emailed Tim Cook to request an expedited review, an assistant replied ten minutes later promising a review within the hour, and the app is now online.

Literally translated as “I am Charlie,” the phrase voices support for freedom of speech and a refusal to be silenced by terrorists …

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