Opinion: Square Enix’s flip-flop on iOS 8 support spotlights App Store ambiguities, risks

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Square Enix’s The World Ends With You

 

Buying an app from the App Store is designed to be as easy as possible. A large button with a price tag sits as close to the app’s icon and name as possible, while additional details linger below. You’re not supposed to think or worry too much about each purchase — the transaction is impulse-driven when the price is low — and the implication is that the app will work when you get it, and keep working for a long time thereafter.

But what happens when an app — marketed as compatible with current iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches — is never updated for the latest version of iOS, and either stops working after an iOS upgrade, or never works at all on new devices? That’s the situation buyers of Square Enix’s $18 The World Ends with You: Solo Remix (and $20 iPad version) have found themselves in since iOS 8 was released. The game’s description claims that it “requires iOS 4.3 or later” and is compatible with devices that shipped with iOS 8, but it wasn’t actually iOS 8-compatible. Yesterday, Square Enix publicly flip-flopped on whether it would leave the game unplayable or fix it. Before changing its tune, the company told customers that they’d need to continue to keep using iOS 7 in order to play the game — an unrealistic alternative, though one that’s faced by users of numerous iOS apps that aren’t being updated by their developers.

By considering abandonment of the 69% of iOS users who are currently on iOS 8, Square Enix wasn’t just making a business choice; it was also spotlighting the risk App Store customers take every time they purchase an app. And it also revealed how long-unsolved App Store listing ambiguities are subjecting users, developers, and Apple itself to unnecessary problems.

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A double-edged sword: did the iPhone preserve RadioShack…or kill it?

radioshack-1991The day has finally come. It seems struggling electronics retailer RadioShack is finally dead. This doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has paid attention to the company at all in the past few years. The chain hasn’t turned a profit since 2011, and several attempts to reboot its image have failed miserably.

How RadioShack reached this point is also no surprise: it failed to keep up with the ever-evolving technology market, choosing instead to attempt to walk the line between DIY hobbyist and mainstream electronics.

While no one would argue that RadioShack’s insistence on keeping one foot in each world eventually led to its demise, it could also be argued that it’s exactly what kept the company around for so long.

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Why my next car probably won’t have CarPlay (Spoiler: Apple Watch)

Apple Watch CarPlay

My next new car probably won’t have CarPlay. I’ve reached this decision in part due to automakers’ slow crawl to put CarPlay in vehicles that you can actually buy today. While 2015 may bring the feature to more vehicles on the road with more than 30 automobile brands committed to ship CarPlay in the future, we’re still not there yet and the roll out is slow.

More influential, though, is my experience using aftermarket CarPlay in my current car for several months convincing me that CarPlay’s features are not yet where they need to be. As I noted in my hands-on review last fall, CarPlay introduces a new set of problems while trying to make using your iPhone in the car safer and easier.

So if CarPlay isn’t ultimately the answer to creating a better iPhone experience on the road, then what is? I’m convinced the Apple Watch will be better suited…

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Neil Young’s “HD Audio” PonoPlayer put up against iPhone, results fall flat

‘HD audio’ has been a buzzword for the last few years, as Apple and several record labels have been working on higher-resolution audio formats to repackage and resell older music. But the format took a body blow this weekend when former NY Times columnist David Pogue put musician Neil Young’s new $400 HD Audio PonoPlayer up against a regular old iPhone using a ‘blind trial,’ in which the HD PonoPlayer appears to have lost…

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Apple Stores to act more like jewelry stores for upcoming gold Apple Watch

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Apple is preparing to take some pages out of the traditional jewelry store playbook. For the upcoming 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition, Apple is planning several new features for its retail stores to support the device. As we reported several months ago, Apple is planning on allowing customers to actually try on the watches and test out different band styles inside of stores. With the high-expected price tag of the gold watch models, Apple will also step up its security features for stores…

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Apple’s Back to School sale returns to Australia and New Zealand w/ gift card promo

AU Apple Back to Uni

Apple’s annual Back to School sale in Australia and New Zealand has gone live with a promotion for qualifying students to receive Apple Store credit with the purchase of a Mac, iPad, or iPhone. Similar to last year, the Back to School sale includes the usual education pricing on Macs and iPads, but this year Apple is including Apple Store gift cards rather than App Store gift cards like last year. Read more

China accused of protectionism through new cybersecurity rules aimed at western tech companies

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The NY Times reports that the Chinese government has adopted a set of supposed cybersecurity regulations on western companies selling technology to banks. These requirements are so absurd that it would be impossible for companies like Apple to comply.

The Chinese government has adopted new regulations requiring companies that sell computer equipment to Chinese banks to turn over secret source code, submit to invasive audits and build so-called back doors into hardware and software, according to a copy of the rules obtained by foreign technology companies that do billions of dollars’ worth of business in China.

The paper reports that while the regulations are so far limited to sales to Chinese banks, they are merely the first in a series of new cybersecurity policies expected to be introduced in the coming months, and businesses fear that they are designed to protect local manufacturers from western companies. It was recently announced that Apple became the biggest smartphone seller in China in the final quarter of last year …  Read more

Apple now leads the luxury gift market in China, taking the #1 slot from Hermès

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Apple is on rather a roll at the moment. A new world record for quarterly profitsBest-selling smartphone maker in China. Joint leader of the global smartphone market. Record-breaking app store earnings. Now Reuters reports that it’s picked up a new accolade, leading the luxury goods market in China.

Apple Inc has taken the number one luxury gifting spot in China from designer goods maker Hermès International SCA, according to a Hurun luxury report on Thursday, reflecting the iPhone maker’s recent hot streak in the country.

Hermès is a French maker of designer clothing and accessories, known for its scarves and handmade leather luggage …  Read more

Apple ties for title of world’s largest smartphone vendor in Q4 2014

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Following on the heels of a record-breaking quarter for Apple, Strategy Analytics has crunched the numbers and crowned Apple the king of the smartphone vendors for Q4 2014—or rather, one of the kings. It seems the Cupertino company managed to tie rival Samsung for the title.

Both companies shipped 74.5 million handsets during the quarter, though Samsung still outsold Apple in terms of the annual total by a hefty margin. Those quarterly sales gave both companies an equal marketshare of 19.6%.

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