iOS

Indie farm-em-up Stardew Valley is coming to iOS and Android

Posted by | Android, Gaming, iOS, Mobile, Stardew Valley | No Comments

Stardew Valley, the hit indie farming game made by one guy in his spare time, is coming to mobile. I’ve dropped dozens of hours into this charming little spiritual successor to Harvest Moon, and now I know how I’m going to spend my next few plane rides.

In case you’re not aware, Stardew Valley is a game where you inherit a farm near a lovely little town and must restore it, befriend (and romance) the locals, fish, fight your way through caverns, forage for spring onions and wild horseradish, mine ore, and… well, there’s a lot. Amazingly, it was created entirely by one person, Eric Barone, who taught himself to code, make pixel art, compose music and do literally everything. And yes, it took a long time. (GQ of all things wrote an interesting profile recently.)

Fortunately it was a huge hit, to Barone’s great surprise and no doubt pleasure, and deservedly so.

Originally released for the PC, Stardew Valley has since expanded (with the help of non-Barone teams) to the major consoles and is now coming to iOS — undiminished, Barone was careful to point out in a blog post. This game is big, but nothing is left out from the mobile port.

“It’s the full game, not a cut down version, and plays almost identically to all other versions,” he wrote. “The main difference is that it has been rebuilt for touch-screen gameplay on iOS (new UI, menu systems and controls).”

Barone has added a lot to the game since its release in early 2016, and the mobile version will include those updates up to 1.3 — meaning you’ll have several additional areas and features but not the multiplayer options most recently added. Those are planned, however, so if you want to do a co-op farm you’ll just have to wait a bit. No mods will be supported, alas.

In a rare treat for mobile ports, you can take your progress from the PC version and transfer it to iOS via iTunes. No need to start over again, which, fun as it is, can be a bit daunting when you realize how much time you’ve put into the game to start with.

I can’t recommend Stardew Valley enough, and the controls should be more than adequate for the laid-back gameplay it offers (combat is fairly forgiving). It’ll cost $8 in the App Store starting October 24 (Android version coming soon), half off the original $15 price — which I must say was amazingly generous to begin with. You can’t go wrong here, trust me.

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Google’s latest hardware innovation: Price

Posted by | Amazon, Apple, apple inc, Assistant, computing, electronics, Gadgets, Google, Google Hardware Event 2018, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Microsoft, oled, PIXEL, RAM, Samsung, smartphone, smartphones, Sony, tablet computers, technology, video conferencing | No Comments

With its latest consumer hardware products, Google’s prices are undercutting Apple, Samsung and Amazon. The search giant just unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, tablet and smart home device, all available at prices well below their direct competitors. Where Apple and Samsung are pushing prices of its latest products even higher, Google is seemingly happy to keep prices low, and this is creating a distinct advantage for the company’s products.

Google, like Amazon and nearly Apple, is a services company that happens to sell hardware. It needs to acquire users through multiple verticals, including hardware. Somewhere, deep in the Googleplex, a team of number-crunchers decided it made more sense to make its hardware prices dramatically lower than competitors. If Google is taking a loss on the hardware, it is likely making it back through services.

Amazon does this with Kindle devices. Microsoft and Sony do it with game consoles. This is a proven strategy to increase market share where the revenue generated on the back end recovers the revenue lost on selling hardware with slim or negative margins.

Look at the Pixel 3. The base 64GB model is available for $799, while the base 64GB iPhone XS is $999. Want a bigger screen? The 64GB Pixel 3 XL is $899, and the 64GB iPhone XS Max is $1,099. Regarding the specs, both phones offer OLED displays and amazing cameras. There are likely pros and cons regarding the speed of the SoC, amount of RAM and wireless capabilities. Will consumers care that the screen and camera are so similar? Probably not.

Google also announced the Home Hub today. Like the Echo Show, it’s designed to be the central part of a smart home. It puts Google Assistant on a fixed screen where users can ask it questions and control a smart home. It’s $149. That’s $80 less than the Echo Show, though the Google version lacks video conferencing and a dedicated smart home hub — the Google Home Hub requires extra hardware for some smart home objects. Still, even with fewer features, the Home Hub is compelling because of its drastically lower price. For just a few dollars more than an Echo Show, a buyer could get a Home Hub and two Home Minis.

The Google Pixel Slate is Google’s answer to the iPad Pro. From everything we’ve seen, it appears to lack a lot of the processing power found in Apple’s top tablet. It doesn’t seem as refined or capable of specific tasks. But for view media, creating content and playing games, it feels just fine. It even has a Pixelbook Pen and a great keyboard that shows Google is positioning this against the iPad Pro. And the 12.3-inch Pixel Slate is available for $599, where the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is $799.

The upfront price is just part of the equation. When considering the resale value of these devices, a different conclusion can be reached. Apple products consistently resale for more money than Google products. On Gazelle.com, a company that buys used smartphones, a used iPhone X is worth $425, whereas a used Pixel 2 is $195. A used iPhone 8, a phone that sold for a price closer to the Pixel 2, is worth $240.

In the end, Google likely doesn’t expect to make money off the hardware it sells. It needs users to buy into its services. The best way to do that is to make the ecosystem competitive though perhaps not investing the capital to make it the best. It needs to be just good enough, and that’s how I would describe these devices. Good enough to be competitive on a spec-to-spec basis while available for much less.

more Google Event 2018 coverage

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Most iOS devices now run iOS 12 according to Mixpanel’s data

Posted by | Apple, iOS, iPhone, Mobile | No Comments

Analytics company Mixpanel is currently tracking the install base of iOS 12. And the latest version of iOS is quite popular, as it’s already installed on roughly 47.6 percent of all iOS devices; 45.6 percent of devices still run iOS 11, and 6.9 percent of iOS users run an older version.

Adoption rate is an important metric for app developers. With major iOS releases, Apple also releases new frameworks. But developers still need to support old versions of iOS for a little bit before moving entirely to newer frameworks and dropping support for old iOS versions.

But it’s interesting to see that you can already drop support for iOS 10 without losing too many customers. Chances are that users who don’t update their version of iOS don’t really care about having the latest version of your app anyway.

With iOS 11, it took much longer to reach that level. Last year, Apple announced on November 6th that iOS 11 was more popular than iOS 10. Sure, Mixpanel and Apple don’t have the exact same numbers, but you can already see that the trend is different this year.

iOS 12 focuses on performance. Apple has optimized this major release for older devices, such as the iPhone 6. All devices that run iOS 11 can update to iOS 12 as well. Basically, if you want a faster phone, you should update to iOS 12.

This is a bit counterintuitive, as previous iOS releases had rendered older devices much slower. But based on the adoption rate, it sounds like iOS users got the message.

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Opera Touch is a solid alternative to Safari on the iPhone

Posted by | Android, Apple, Apps, Dolphin Browser, freeware, Google, iOS, iPhone, Opera, safari, smartphones, TC | No Comments

Browser company Opera is back doing what it does best, offering you beautifully designed alternatives to the stock browsers from the likes of Google and Apple . This week the company brought its ‘Opera Touch’ browser to iOS to give iPhone owners a different option to the basic Safari browser.

The app was first launched for Android in April and, as we noted at the time, it reinvents a lot of the established paradigms to work well on mobile and particularly large screens that don’t have a home button — which is steadily becoming every premium devices on the market today.

Touch for iOS — which you can download here — will be particularly of interest to owners of the iPhone X or Apple’s newest iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and (upcoming) iPhone XR devices since it is optimized for one-handed use. That’s to say it employs the same nifty user interface seen on the Android app (see below), which lets you open or close tabs, switch to search, go back or forward using a menu bar located at the bottom of the screen. One thing it is missing, for now, is more comprehensive management of bookmarks.

The app also includes Opera’s ‘Flow’ technology which lets a user pass links, images and notes from their phone to an Opera browser on their computer using a “secure and private” connection.

As ever, the Opera browser comes with ad blocking built-in and there’s the company’s usual protection from cryptojacking — that’s the process of being hacked and having your CPU used to mine crypto for someone else.

All in all, the browser is worth taking for a spin if you have Apple’s new home buttonless devices and seek an alternative to the pre-loaded Safari browser. Other options might include Google Chrome, recently given a redesign for its tenth anniversary, as well as Mozilla, UC Web, Dolphin and Brave.

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You can try Siri Shortcuts today in these iOS 12-ready apps

Posted by | Apps, iOS, iOS 12, Mobile, siri, siri shortcuts, voice commands, voice computing | No Comments

With today’s release of iOS 12, Apple is also rolling out a new feature called Siri Shortcuts, which allows users to create their own voice commands to take actions in apps. For example, you could create a shortcuts for ordering your morning coffee, playing your favorite music, getting your daily schedule, and much more. In preparation for the iOS 12 launch, a number of app developers have already added support for Siri Shortcuts – sometimes even through a dedicated button in their app – in order to help nudge users towards adoption.

You can configure Siri Shortcuts in iOS Settings or create more complex voice commands using Apple’s new Shortcuts app, also out today. But these are things that will appeal more to power users – at least for the time being.

Mainstream users, meanwhile, will likely come across Siri Shortcuts for the first time when using their favorite iOS apps.

With iOS 12, app developers can integrate an “Add to Siri” button right in their app’s interface for common tasks that their app can perform – like playing a favorite playlist, for instance.

When a user taps this button, they’ll be directed to a screen where they can record their own custom voice command to launch whatever task or action the developer is suggesting.

In time, a number of apps will roll out this functionality.

But if you’re keen to play with it today, on day one, here are some of the early adopters of this feature.

Pandora

A new playlist isn’t the only update Pandora is rolling out today – it’s also one of the first apps to launch a Siri Shortcuts button. With the app’s iOS 12-optimized update, users can head to the Settings in the Pandora app and tap “Add to Siri.” They can then choose a specific station, album, or playlist and record a custom phrase to say the next time they want to hear it.

Streaks

Habit-tracker Streaks is also among the first to include an “Add to Siri” button. When tapped, users can record custom phrases to complete their tasks. That way you can say things in a more natural style – like, “Hey Siri, I drank my water,” or “I ate healthy today.”

PCalc

Always an early adopter, the popular calculator app has added a Siri Shortcut button that will let you record voice commands for any common activity in the app, like converting currencies, setting the clipboard, opening conversions, and more.

PCalc 3.8 is available on the store now! Full support for iOS 12 and Siri Shortcuts, plus all the new devices.

Also includes my whimsy for this year, a lovely set of animated iMessage stickers by @dlanham featuring Pascal, the PCalc panda.

Get it here: https://t.co/ATSqnOi7BS pic.twitter.com/e7uunS7PIw

— James Thomson (@jamesthomson) September 15, 2018

CARROT Weather

The funny and sarcastic weather application CARROT Weather added support for Siri Shortcuts so you can ask for a short-term or long-term forecast for your location or any other location you’ve saved in the app.

The Weather Channel

If you prefer a more traditional weather app, The Weather Channel is also out with Siri Shortcuts support today, too, so you can check your forecast with a voice command.

Things

To do list app Things represents a good use case for Siri Shortcuts, as you can create voice commands for common actions you take in the app, then have them also appear on your Lock screen. For instance, you could ask Siri to “Show Today” or “Add To-Do.” You can even record shortcuts for things you add to your to-do list app a lot, like lists of movies you want to see or errands you need to run.

When you say “Hey Siri, add an errand,” Things will launch a new to-do with everything filled in, including the tags, so all you have to do is enter the title and save.

There are also ready-made to-do’s available for things that are always the same, like a packing list or a favorite recipe. And using the new Shortcuts app, you can combine multiple shortcuts from different apps into one workflow.

 

Sky Guide

Longtime favorite app Sky Guide, a map to the night sky, now lets you ask questions about the stars using your voice. With Siri Shortcuts, you can say “Hey Siri, what start is that?” (or something else you choose) after pointing your phone at a bright star, planet, or satellite.

Siri Shortcuts is already better than I was expecting. #siri #iOS12@viticci⁩ SkyGuide has a clever implementation. pic.twitter.com/lbsS3SaYkR

— Alan Miller (@rosewoodat5th) September 17, 2018

Citymapper

The handy transit navigation app has also just rolled out support for Siri Shortcuts with an option that will let you say things like “Hey Siri, check my commute,” to have Siri read out info on disruptions, departures and your expected ETA. You can also ask it to route your way home, check departures, and more.

Google News

An unexpected addition, all things considered – but this top news application is already live with Siri Shortcuts support, allowing readers to use voice command to navigate to their favorite news sources and other frequent destinations.

TripIt

The top-rated travel planner is ready to support Siri Shortcuts today, allowing you to configure custom voice commands for common travel tasks like getting your flight details or asking about your other travel plans.

Trello

This top organizer app lets you use Siri Shortcuts to create custom phrases to open up specific cards or boards you’ve created, with its iOS 12-ready update.

Monster Job Search

This job search app will save you from repeatedly typing in the same queries, by allowing you to create a Siri Shortcut for your favorite searches instead.

Bear

This focused and elegant note-taking app will now let you create notes with the sound of your voice – just head to Settings, Siri & Search, All Shortcuts to start building your own custom commands.

Ulysses

Writing editor Ulysses lets you use Shortcuts to open sheets and groups, create new sheets, and more.

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11 neat hidden features in iOS 12

Posted by | Apple, Apps, iOS, iOS 12, iOS 12 review, Mobile | No Comments

iOS 12 is finally here. And the update is packed with many improvements. In particular, Apple has tucked away many little features that you won’t see right away.

If you want to impress all your friends with your mad iOS skills, here is a list of some of these features. I also wrote a review of iOS 12 if you want to learn more about all the changes coming with iOS 12.

#1: Is it a phone? Is it a trackpad?

Many people don’t know about this superpower, but you can move around an email or text message by turning your phone into a trackpad. On previous versions of iOS, you had to use 3D Touch.

It is now much easier to access as you just needs to tap and hold on the space bar of the keyboard. Goodbye, Gboard!

#2: Second Face ID

RIP, Touch ID. But Face ID is just getting started. Apple knows that you want to let your spouse or friend unlock your phone. Sure, you can always share your passcode. But it’s less secure and people always forget passcodes.

Head over to Settings > Face ID & Passcode > Set Up an Alternate Appearance. Ta-da, second face acquired.

#3: Do Not Disturb a bit, a lot or forever

If you don’t use Do Not Disturb because you always forget to turn it off, this is a thing of the past. You can now use 3D Touch in Control Center to turn on Do Not Disturb for an hour, until this evening (or the next morning), until the end of an event or until you leave a location.

Don’t forget, it’s one of the most powerful tools when it comes to using your phone less.

#4: Quiet please

Even when you don’t have Do Not Disturb on, chances are you receive way too many notifications. On the lock screen, swipe on a notification to turn on “Deliver Quietly”. Notifications won’t make your phone buzz and will skip the lock screen altogether. The only way to view them is by manually pulling up the Notification Center. I already use it for most news apps as I don’t need to see the headlines right away. And everything feels quieter.

#5: AirPods as super ears

If you want to be more like Jack Dorsey, go to Settings > Control Center > Customize and add “Hearing”. This feature called Live Listen lets you turn your AirPods into hearing aid devices.

If you have a hard time listening to conversations in some crowded environment, this is an important feature.

This is cool pic.twitter.com/tfGJKDmKWn

— jack (@jack) September 15, 2018

#6: You forgot your password but it’s fine

Apple has improved how password managers work on iOS 12. If you’re already using a third-party password manager, such as 1Password, LastPass or Secrets, your life is about to become so much easier.

Head over to Settings > Passwords & Accounts > AutoFill Passwords. You’ll be able to log into websites and accounts using your data from your third-party password manager without having to open it.

Well, this is exciting: @lastpass keyboard integration in iOS 12! pic.twitter.com/5BQ3gTIdpa

— Matt Hauger (@matthauger) September 14, 2018

#7: 637-201

As for one-time codes, if you still rely on text messages (and you shouldn’t), iOS will scan your incoming text messages to automatically copy and paste your one-time codes. Neat!

#8: Drag and drop that Memoji

Yay, Memojis are here! Sure, you can record voice messages and send them in Messages. But don’t forget to take selfies with your Memoji.

You can also drag and drop your Memoji on top of a photo or a message. Emojis are so 2017.

#9: Favicons in Safari

On your iPad, you can finally turn on favicons for browser tabs — those tiny little icons in the tab bar. This way, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for much more easily. Head over to Settings > Safari.

#10: Is it too late to say sorry?

It’s so annoying when you keep hearing a song in your head but you can’t remember the name of the song. Maybe you just know that one line of the lyrics.

You can now type those lyrics in Apple Music. The service now lets you search by lyrics.

#11: Those sweet, sweet Shortcuts

The most powerful feature of iOS 12 is clearly Siri Shortcuts. Combined with Apple’s Shortcuts app, you can trigger chains of actions with a simple phrase.

The Shortcuts app is available for free in the App Store. Time to think about your own morning routine!

I’ve been busy building some advanced examples for the Shortcuts app in iOS 12.

My Morning Routine shortcut, plus many others, will be coming Monday alongside my iOS 12 review.

I can’t wait to share. It’s going to be fun. 😎pic.twitter.com/4maWP5BJrX

— Federico Viticci (@viticci) September 14, 2018

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The iPhone XR shows Apple admitting 3D Touch is a failure

Posted by | 3d touch, Apple, apple inc, blackberry storm, Haptic Touch, iOS, iPhone Xr, Mobile, multi-touch, technology, touchscreen | No Comments

Remember 3D Touch? Unless you’re a power iOS user you probably don’t. Or, well, you’d rather not. It’s been clear for some time now that the technology Apple lauded at its 2015 unveiling as the “next generation of multi-touch” most certainly wasn’t. For the mainstream iPhone user it’s just that annoying thing that gets in the way of what you’re actually trying to do.

What Apple actually made with 3D Touch is the keyboard shortcut of multi-touch. Aka a secret weapon for nerds only.

Pro geeks might be endlessly delighted about being able to learn the secrets of its hidden depths, and shave all-important microseconds off of their highly nuanced workflows. But everyone else ignores it.

Or at least tries to ignore it — until, in the middle of trying to do something important they accidentally trigger it and get confused and annoyed about what their phone is trying to do to them.

Tech veterans might recall that BlackBerry (remember them?!) tried something similarly misplaced a decade ago on one of its handsets — unboxing an unlovely (and unloved) clickable touchscreen, in the one-off weirdo BlackBerry Storm.

The Storm didn’t have the iconic physical BlackBerry keyboard but did have a touchscreen with on-screen qwerty keys you could still click. In short, madness!

Safe to say, no usage storms resulted then either — unless you’re talking about the storm of BlackBerry buyers returning to the shop demanding a replacement handset.

In Apple’s case, the misstep is hardly on that level. But three years on from unveiling 3D Touch, it’s now ‘fessing up to its own feature failure — as the latest iPhone line-up drops the pressure-sensing technology entirely from the cheapest of the trio: The iPhone XR.

The lack of 3D Touch on the XR will help shave off some manufacturing cost and maybe a little thickness from the device. Mostly though it shows Apple recognizing it expended a lot of engineering effort to make something most iPhone users don’t use and don’t want to use — given, as TC’s Brian Heater has called it, the iPhone XR is the iPhone for the rest of us.

It isn’t a budget handset, though. The XR does pack Apple’s next-gen biometric technology, Face ID, for instance, so contains a package of sophisticated sensor hardware lodged in its own top notch.

That shows Apple is not cheaping out here. Rather it’s making selective feature decisions based on what it believes iPhone users want and need. So the clear calculation in Cupertino is lots of iPhone users simply don’t need 3D Touch.

At the same time, company execs heaped praise on Face ID at its event this week, saying the technology has proved wildly popular with users. Yet they glossed over the simultaneous depreciation of 3D Touch at the end of the iPhone line without a word of explanation.

Compare the two technologies and it’s easy to see why.

Face ID’s popularity is hardly surprising. It’s hard to think of a simpler interaction than a look that unlocks.

Not so fiddly 3D Touch — which requires a press that’s more than a tap and kind of akin to a push or a little shove. Push too softly and you’ll get a tap which takes you somewhere you weren’t trying to go. But go in too hard from the start and the touchscreen starts to feel like work and/or wasted effort.

On top of that the sought for utility can itself feel pointless — with, for example, content previews that can be horribly slow to load, so why not just tap and look at the email in the first place?

With all the fingering and faffing around 3D Touch is like the Goldilocks of user interfaces: Frustration is all but guaranteed unless you have an awful lot of patience to keep going and going until you get it just right. And who, but power users, can be bothered with that?

For the ‘everyman’ iPhone XR, Apple has swapped 3D Touch for a haptic feedback feature (forgettably named Haptic Touch) — that’s presumably mostly intended to be a sticking plaster to smooth out any fragmentation cracks across the iPhone estate, i.e. in the rare instances where developers have made use of 3D Touch to create in-app shortcuts that people do actually want to use.

If, as we’ve suggested, the iPhone XR ends up being the iPhone that ships in serious quantities there will soon be millions of iOS users without access to 3D Touch at all. So Apple is relegating the technology it once called the future of multi-touch to what it really was: An add-on power feature for pro users.

Pro users are also the people most likely to be willing to spend the biggest bucks on an iPhone — and so will happily shell out to own the iPhone XS or XS Max (which do retain 3D Touch, at least for now).

So while 3D Touch might keep incrementally helping to shift a few extra premium iPhones at the top of the range, it isn’t going to be shifting any paradigms.

Multitouch — combined with generous screen real estate — has been more than good enough on that front.

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Apple’s new iOS 12 beta fixes the annoying ‘please update’ bug

Posted by | Apple, beta, bug, developers, iOS, iOS 12, Mobile, TC | No Comments

iOS 12 beta testers have been plagued with a frustrating bug that continually pops up messages alerting them that a new iOS update is available when, in fact, it’s not. Apple has now fixed this bug, which is patched in the latest iOS 12 betas rolling out now, we understand.

The bug first made headlines on Thursday, when a number of iOS 12 beta testers – including developers and those on the public beta program – began to complain on social media about the problem. All users were seeing a pop-up message that read, “A new iOS version is now available. Please update from the iOS 12 beta.”  

Users could close this window with a tap, but the same pop-up would reappear at regular intervals. There was nothing to be done about it, because the message itself was wrong – there was no new beta available for download at the time.

A new iOS update is now available. Please update from the iOS 12 beta.

A new iOS update is now available. Please update from the iOS 12 beta.

A new iOS update is now available. Please update from the iOS 12 beta.

A new iOS update is now availab

— Nick Abouzeid (@nickabouzeid) August 31, 2018

All of my devices: “A new iOS update is now available. Please update”

Narrator: “A new version, in fact, was not available.”

— Ish (@ishabazz) August 31, 2018

While it’s true that beta versions of software can have glitches and bugs, the iOS 12 beta has been, arguably, one of the most stable to date. For many people, the bug was one of the first times they had a serious issue with running the beta software.

Some had figured out yesterday that you could adjust the system date and time to turn off the non-stop notifications, but this was bad advice. Messing around with the system clock can introduce a host of other issues, like missing calendar appointments or reminders, for example.

Apple was aware of the issue, and has thankfully introduced a fix before the long holiday weekend here in the U.S.

The fix is available in both the new developer beta and the public beta, out now.

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Huawei bags Apple’s 2nd place spot in global smartphone sales: Gartner

Posted by | Android, Apple, Asia, gartner, huawei, iOS, iPhone, Mobile, Samsung, smartphones, Xiaomi | No Comments

Another analyst has Huawei overtaking Apple in the global smartphone rankings for the second quarter this year. The latest figures from Gartner put Huawei ahead on sales to end users in Q2.

Overall, Gartner says sales of smartphones to end users grew 2% in the quarter, to reach 374 million units.

The analyst pegs the Chinese smartphone maker with a 13.3% marketshare, saying it sold ~49.8M devices in the quarter, up from 9.8% in the year before quarter — ahead of Apple, which it calculates took an 11.9% marketshare (down from 12.1% in Q2 2017), selling ~44.7M iPhones.

According to Gartner’s figures, Samsung also lost share year-over-year — declining 12.7% in the quarter.

The Galaxy smartphone maker retained its no.1 spot in the rankings, with 19.3% in Q2 (vs 22.6% in the equivalent quarter last year) and ~72.3M devices sold. Though Gartner notes it’s being squeezed by “ever-growing competition from Chinese manufacturers”, while slowing demand for its flagships are squeezing its profitability. Not a happy combination.

In recent years Huawei has been one of a handful of Chinese OEMs bucking the trend of a slowing global smartphone market. And Gartner’s data suggests Huawei’s smartphone sales grew 38.6 per cent in the second quarter.

As we noted earlier this month, when other analysts reported Huawei outstripping Apple on smartphone shipments in Q2, the handset maker has built momentum for its mid-range Honor handset brand while performing solidly at the premium end too, with devices such as the P20 Pro (albeit while copypasting Apple’s iPhone X ‘notch’ screen design in that instance.)

“Huawei continues to bring innovative features into its smartphones and expand its smartphone portfolio to cover larger consumer segments,” said research director Anshul Gupta in a statement. “Its investment into channels, brand building and positioning of the Honor devices helped drive sales. Huawei is shipping its Honor smartphones into 70 markets worldwide and is emerging as Huawei’s key growth driver.”

For Apple the quarter was a flat one (0.9% growth), though that’s to be expected given Cupertino structures its mobile release cycle around a big-bang annual smartphone refresh in the fall, ahead of the holiday quarter, rather than releasing devices throughout the year.

Even so, Gupta noted that Apple is also facing growing competition from Chinese brands, which in turn is amping up pressure on the company to innovate its handsets to keep increasingly demanding consumers happy by delivering “enhanced value” in exchange for the iPhone’s premium price.

And recent reports have suggested Apple is prepping a number of iPhone design changes for fall, including a splash of color.

“Demand for the iPhone X has started to slow down much earlier than when other new models were introduced,” he added, sounding another note of concern for Apple.

Fourth placed Chinese OEM Xiaomi is one device maker putting pressure on longer term players in the smartphone market. In Q2 Gartner reckons the company sold ~32.8M devices, carving itself an 8.8% marketshare — up from 5.8% in the year ago quarter.

The analyst’s data also shows Google’s Android operating system further extending its lead over Apple’s iOS in Q2, securing 88% market share vs 11.9% for iOS.

While the smartphone market is no longer a simple duopoly on the device maker front, with Huawei elbowing past Apple to bag the second spot in the global rankings, it remains very much the opposite story where smartphone operating systems are concerned.

And Gartner’s data now records the ‘other’ category of smartphone OSes at a 0.0% marketshare, down from 0.1% in the year ago quarter…

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Apple defends decision not to remove InfoWars’ app

Posted by | Alex Jones, Android, app-store, Apple, apple inc, Apps, hate speech, Infowars, iOS, iTunes, online marketplaces, play store, Policy, Social | No Comments

Apple has commented on its decision to continue to allow conspiracy theorist profiteer InfoWars to live stream video podcasts via an app in its App Store, despite removing links to all but one of Alex Jones’ podcast content from its iTunes and podcast apps earlier this week.

At the time Apple said the podcasts had violated its community standards, emphasizing that it “does not tolerate hate speech”, and saying: “We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”

Yet the InfoWars app allows iOS users to live stream the same content Apple just pulled from iTunes.

In a statement given to BuzzFeed News Apple explains its decision not to pull InfoWars app’ — saying:

We strongly support all points of view being represented on the App Store, as long as the apps are respectful to users with differing opinions, and follow our clear guidelines, ensuring the App Store is a safe marketplace for all. We continue to monitor apps for violations of our guidelines and if we find content that violates our guidelines and is harmful to users we will remove those apps from the store as we have done previously.

Multiple tech platforms have moved to close to door or limit Jones’ reach on their platforms in recent weeks, including Google, which shuttered his YouTube channel, and Facebook, which removed a series of videos and banned Jones’ personal account for 30 days as well as issuing the InfoWars page with a warning strike. Spotify, Pinterest, LinkedIn, MailChimp and others have also taken action.

Although Twitter has not banned or otherwise censured Jones — despite InfoWars’ continued presence on its platform threatening CEO Jack Dorsey’s claimed push to want to improve conversational health on his platform. Snapchat is also merely monitoring Jones’ continued presence on its platform.

In an unsurprising twist, the additional exposure Jones/InfoWars has gained as a result of news coverage of the various platform bans appears to have given his apps some passing uplift…

Well, the bans were great for Infowars app downloads. It’s the No. 4 news app in Apple’s App Store today, ranking above all mainstream news organizations.

(And yes, Apple and Google deleted some Infowars content but kept their apps available.) pic.twitter.com/NrJf0IIbnd

— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) August 7, 2018

So Apple’s decision to remove links to Jones’ podcasts yet allow the InfoWars app looks contradictory.

The company is certainly treading a fine line here. But there’s a technical distinction between a link to a podcast in a directory, where podcast makers can freely list their stuff (with the content hosted elsewhere), vs an app in Apple’s App Store which has gone through Apple’s review process and the content is being hosted by Apple.

What percentage of people who discussed Infowars today understood the distinction between a podcast directory, actual file hosting, and whether software would allow manually adding a feed or listening to content?

— Ricky Mondello (@rmondello) August 7, 2018

When it removed Jones’ podcasts Apple was, in effect, just removing a pointer to the content, not the content itself. The podcasts also represented discrete content — meaning each episode which was being pointed to could be judged against Apple’s community standards. (And one podcast link was not removed, for example, though five were.)

Whereas Jones (mostly) uses the InfoWars app to live stream podcast shows. Meaning the content in the InfoWars app is more ephemeral — making it more difficult for Apple to cross-check against its community standards. The streamer has to be caught in the act, as it were.

Google has also not pulled the InfoWars app from its Play Store despite shuttering Jones’ YouTube channel, and a spokesperson told BuzzFeed: “We carefully review content on our platforms and products for violations of our terms and conditions, or our content policies. If an app or user violates these, we take action.”

That said, both the iOS and Android versions of the app also include ‘articles’ that can be saved by users, so some of the content appears to be less ephemeral.

The iOS listing further claims the app lets users “stay up to date with articles as they’re published from Infowars.com” — which at least suggests some of the content is identical to what’s being spouted on Jones’ own website (where he’s only subject to his own T&Cs).

But in order to avoid failing foul of Apple and Google’s app store guidelines, Jones is likely carefully choosing which articles are funneled into the apps — to avoid breaching app store T&Cs against abuse and hateful conduct, and (most likely also) to hook more eyeballs with more soft-ball conspiracy nonsense before, once people are pulled into his orbit, blasting them with his full bore BS shotgun on his own platform.

Sample articles depicted in screenshots in the App Store listing for the app include one claiming that George Soros is “literally behind Starbucks’ sensitivity training” and another, from the ‘science’ section, pushing some junk claims about vision correction — so all garbage but not at the same level of anti-truth toxicity that Jones has become notorious for for what he says on his shows; while the Play Store listing flags a different selection of sample articles with a slightly more international flavor — including several on European far right politics, in addition to U.S. focused political stories about Trump and some outrage about domestic ‘political correctness gone mad’. So the static sample content at least isn’t enough to violate any T&Cs.

Still, the live stream component of the apps presents an ongoing problem for Apple and Google — given both have stated that his content elsewhere violates their standards. And it’s not clear how sustainable it will be for them to continue to allow Jones a platform to live stream hate from inside the walls of their commercial app stores.

Beyond that, narrowly judging Jones — a purveyor of weaponized anti-truth (most egregiously his claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax) — by the content he uploads directly to their servers also ignores the wider context (and toxic baggage) around him.

And while no tech companies want their brands to be perceived as toxic to conservative points of view, InfoWars does not represent conservative politics. Jones peddles far right conspiracy theories, whips up hate and spreads junk science in order to generate fear and make money selling supplements. It’s cynical manipulation not conservatism.

Both should revisit their decision. Hateful anti-truth merely damages the marketplace of ideas they claim to want to champion, and chills free speech through violent bullying of minorities and the people it makes into targets and thus victimizes.

Earlier this week 9to5Mac reported that CNN’s Dylan Byers had said the decision to remove links to InfoWars’ podcasts had been made at the top of Apple — after a meeting between CEO Tim Cook and SVP Eddy Cue. Byers’ reported it was also the execs’ decision not to remove the InfoWars app.

We’ve reached out to Apple to ask whether it will be monitoring InfoWars’ live streams directly for any violations of its community standards and will update this story with any response.

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