Apple Announces App Store Price Changes in Two Countries, Reminds Developers About New Tax in Singapore

Apple today announced that, in the next few days, prices of App Store apps and in-app purchases, excluding auto-renewable subscriptions, will decrease in Thailand and increase in Pakistan due to foreign exchange rate fluctuations.


Additionally, on January 1, 2020, a 7% sales tax for overseas digital services was introduced in Singapore. App Store developers based in Singapore who provide their GST number in App Store Connect will not have their proceeds affected, according to Apple. Otherwise, proceeds will be adjusted accordingly.


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Apple Says App Store Set Single-Day Spending Record of $386 Million on New Year’s Day

Apple has marked the close of a "historic 2019" for its services offerings with a press release celebrating Apple Arcade, Apple TV+, Apple News+ and Apple Card, as well as the continued success of its App Store, Apple Music, and iCloud.

"2019 was the biggest year for Services in Apple's history. We introduced several exciting new experiences for our customers, all while setting the standard for user privacy and security," said Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. "We begin the new decade with incredible momentum and gratitude to our customers who have shown such enthusiasm for all of our Services, and we continue to celebrate the work of the world's best creators, storytellers, journalists and developers."
Here are some key takeaways from Apple's services highlights of 2019, including some things that the company says customers can look forward to in 2020:
  • ‌App Store‌ customers spent a record $1.42 billion between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, a 16 percent increase over last year, and $386 million on New Year's Day 2020 alone, a 20 percent increase over last year and a new single-day record.


  • Over 50 percent of ‌Apple Music‌ listeners have used the new time-synced lyrics feature that was introduced in 2019 with iOS 13.


  • ‌Apple TV‌+ "made history" as the first streaming platform to receive multiple Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations in its launch year, and is the first and only streaming service to debut instantly in over 100 countries and regions.


  • ‌Apple News‌ draws over 100 million monthly active users in the US, UK, Australia and Canada.


  • In 2020, ‌Apple News‌ will provide live coverage of key moments in the US presidential election in partnership with ABC News.


  • Apple Podcasts now delivers listeners over 800,000 shows in 155 countries.


  • In 2019, entry to more than 150 stadiums, ballparks, arenas and entertainment venues around the world was available with contactless tickets on iPhone and Apple Watch.


  • In 2020, customers will be able to tap their ‌iPhone‌ and ‌Apple Watch‌ to ride trains and buses in Washington, D.C., Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Foshan, Guangdong, and will be able to access dorms and services at additional universities across the US.


  • Over 75 percent of ‌iCloud‌ users are protected with two-factor authentication, an extra layer of security designed to ensure that no one else can access their account or data.
During its last earnings call of 2019, Apple revealed that in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2019 its services segment brought in $12.5 billion, up from $10.6 billion in the year-ago quarter and $11.46 billion in the third quarter of 2019. Services grew 18 percent year-over-year, and Apple said that it saw growth in all regions around the world.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said that almost every one of Apple's services had set new all-time revenue records, including its search ad business, ‌‌Apple Music‌‌, Apple Care, cloud services, and the ‌‌App Store‌‌. Apple's services category is now the size of a Fortune 70 company by revenue.


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Sensor Tower: Global App Store Spending on Christmas Day 2019 Hit a Record $193 Million

Consumer spending on the App Store totaled a record $193 million on Christmas Day 2019, representing a 16 percent increase year on year, according to a new report by Sensor Tower.


Approximately $84 million was spent on the Google Play store, representing year-on-year growth of 2.7 percent. Apple's ‌App Store‌ accounted for 70 percent of spending between the two platforms, which amounted to $277 million combined.

That total represented combined year-over-year growth of 11.3 percent for the two stores, which brought in $249 million combined in user spending on Christmas Day in 2018.

Sensor Tower says the increase in spending was largely due to new mobile device owners and people who received ‌App Store‌ gift cards, with games being the most popular purchase.

The majority of mobile spending on Christmas, approximately $210 million, was focused on the Games category, which generated 76 percent of revenue across both stores and grew about 8 percent Y/Y from $195 million. PUBG Mobile from Tencent’s TiMi studio led in-game spending with $8.5 million, up 431 percent from the $1.6 million players spent in the game on Christmas 2018.
Other apps accounted for approximately 2 percent more of all spending this Christmas compared to a year prior, bringing in an estimated $67 million. The top non-game app for overall spending on Christmas was reportedly the dating app Tinder, which brought in a gross global revenue near $2.1 million.

The ‌App Store‌ makes up a huge portion of Apple's services business. It currently receives a 30 percent cut of all revenue that developers earn from the ‌App Store‌, with the exception of subscription apps. For apps where a customer maintains a subscription for more than a year, developers are entitled to an 85/15 split, with Apple taking a 15 percent cut rather than a 30 percent cut.


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Apple Promotes Holiday Bonuses in Games like Fortnite and Minecraft

Apple this evening sent out emails promoting holiday content in a selection of games that include Fortnite, PUBG, Candy Crush Saga, Minecraft, Homescapes, and Clash of Clans.


Some of the available bonuses are free, while others appear to be holiday-themed in-app purchases, as outlined below:

  • Fortnite - Get an exclusive holiday outfit pack for a limited time, starting December 24.

  • PUBG - Limited-edition Santa suit and supply crates are now available.

  • Candy Crush Saga - Get extra-special items that last two times longer than normal.

  • Minecraft - Claim 1 free skin and 1 free world right now.

  • Homescapes - A free small-size pack of coins and items is all yours!

  • Clash of Clans - Receive 5 times more goodies with limited-edition Christmas bundles.

Apple's promotional email also highlights other games, such as Pocket City and Knights of Pen & Paper 2, though there are no specific holiday bonuses in these games.

Apple is going to be offering a separate bonus on December 24, as discovered in Australia and New Zealand this morning. In those countries, Apple is highlighting "surprises" from December 24 to December 29, with the first two being a discounted in-app purchase bundle for Looney Tunes World of Mayhem and a three-month subscription for the price of one month in Canva.

The "Surprise" bonuses will likely be live in the United States when December 24 rolls around.


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Apple Offering an App Store ‘Surprise’ From December 24 to December 29

Apple is planning to offer some kind of holiday App Store promotion that may see the company giving away free apps and games.

In Australia, where it is December 24, ‌App Store‌ users are waking up to an App Store story that mentions a "surprise" for Tuesday and explains that users can expect a treat every day from December 24 to December 29.

Tuesday's surprise isn't live yet, but it will be shortly! Make sure you come back soon to check it out.



Have you seen today's goodies? Look for the unwrapped presents on the ‌App Store‌'s Today, Games, and Apps tabs.

From December 24 to 29, you'll find a new surprise every day on the ‌App Store‌. Come back daily to discover which treat we have waiting for you!
The wording of the story suggests that Apple is planning to give away free apps and games in a promotion similar to the 12 Days of Christmas promotion that the company used to run several years back.

We don't know yet what app or game Apple plans to give away on December 24, but we should find out soon from Australian users. ‌App Store‌ users in other countries like the United States can expect to see the same promotions when December 24 rolls around.


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Apple Pulls ‘Rewound’ App That Turned iPhone Into a Classic iPod

Last week, a music player app called "Rewound" surfaced on the App Store, with the purpose of bringing back classic music players through downloadable skins, including the iPod with its classic click wheel design.

Lots of people loved the iPod design for the nostalgia, but Apple wasn't a fan and has pulled the app from the ‌App Store‌.

Image via The Verge

In an article on Medium, Rewound's creators explain that Apple "killed" the app because it copied the iPod's design, charged a fee for Apple Music features, and, apparently, could be mistaken for an Apple-designed app.

Rewound disputes all of these charges, insisting that Apple was "salty" that users shared clickwheel skins (the app could be customized with multiple looks, though initial focus was on the iPod). From the Medium post:
- An optional scrolling motion to navigate a menu isn't Apple IP
- A button layout without a wheel or scrolling navigation isn't Apple IP
- Similar menu systems are found in all operating systems.
- Skins were user added/downloaded, we didn't include them in the app.
Rewound's developer says that the app can't be updated to get it re-approved without breaking the app for the 170,000 people who use it at the current time. A separate version is in the works, but the developer feels that it is "barely worth the time or effort to even try and humor them" as the developer believes Apple will continue to deny the app.

The developer plans to make a Rewound web app as an alternative that can be used on the iPhone "without Apple's approval," and is seeking $50,000 in funding for the project.


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Apple Adds ‘Ultimate Rivals’ Sports Game Franchise to Apple Arcade

Apple today announced the addition of "Ultimate Rivals" from Bit Fry Game Studios to its Apple Arcade gaming service.

Ultimate Rivals is a sports game franchise that brings athletes from hockey, basketball, football, and soccer into one video game, which Apple says is a first in sports gaming.


The first title in the franchise, "Ultimate Rivals: The Rink," allows players to choose from more than 50 athletes to compete in two-on-two hockey matches. There are licensed athletes from the NHL, NBA, NFL Players Association (NFLPA), MLB, WNBA and the US Women's National Soccer Team Players Association (USWNTPA), plus retired legends like Wayne Gretzky.


Different combinations of players will unlock unique ways to play and win against the AI or other gamers in online multiplayer matches. According to Apple, the game features 60 frames-per-second graphics, tight controls, leading-edge visuals, and sound design.
"With ‌Apple Arcade‌, we are committed to delivering a curated catalog where every title offers players a new, innovative experience that pushes the boundaries of what a game can be. The 'Ultimate Rivals' franchise does just that," said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. "'Ultimate Rivals: The Rink' is a great new addition to ‌Apple Arcade‌ and we are excited for everyone to try it out."
Ultimate Rivals: The Rink is available today on ‌Apple Arcade‌, and it will be followed by an NBA licensed basketball game "Ultimate Rivals: The Court" in the spring of 2020.


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Apple Store App Gains Redesigned Shop Tab

Apple today updated its dedicated Apple Store app for purchasing Apple products, introducing a redesigned Shop tab.

According to Apple, the new tab features richer visuals, better personalization, and more relevant info for each individual shopper. Apple says that the new shopping experience is better tailored to "you and the devices you own."


An introductory splash screen for the update says that users can go from browsing to buying with a tap or dive into detailed product stories before adding something to the shopping bag.

There's also now an option to save passes for in-store pickups right in the Wallet app, which will make picking up items ordered online much easier when you arrive at your local Apple Store.

The Apple Store app can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Related Roundup: Apple Stores

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Most Downloaded iOS Apps and Games of 2019 Include Mario Kart Tour, Minecraft, YouTube and FaceTune

Along with sharing its picks for the best apps and games of 2019, Apple today also updated the App Store with Top Charts that highlight the top free apps and games, paid and free, on the iPhone and the iPad.

When it comes to free games, Nintendo's latest title, Mario Kart Tour, topped the charts. Launched on September 25, Mario Kart Tour was a highly anticipated game and features one of Nintendo's most popular franchises.


Below are the top five free ‌iPhone‌ games:

  • Mario Kart Tour

  • Color Bump 3D

  • aquapark.io

  • Call of Duty Mobile

  • BitLife Life Simulator

As for paid ‌iPhone‌ games, many titles that have been popular for years continued to hold on to their number one spots. Minecraft was the number one app on the paid game chart, followed by Heads Up, Plague Inc., Bloons TD 6, and Geometry Dash.

Many familiar apps also topped the free apps chart, including YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and Facebook Messenger, while the top paid app was FaceTune. Apple's top five paid ‌iPhone‌ apps are listed below:

  • FaceTune

  • HotSchedules

  • Dark Sky Weather

  • The Wonder Weeks

  • AutoSleep Apple Watch Sleep Tracking

Apple also did separate top charts for the ‌iPad‌, highlighting the most popular games and apps downloaded on its tablets. The top free game was Roblox, and the top paid ‌iPad‌ game was Minecraft. Top five charts are below.


Top 5 Free ‌iPad‌ Games

  • Roblox

  • aquapark.io

  • Paper.io 2

  • Color Bump 3D

  • Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game

Top 5 Paid ‌iPad‌ Games

  • Minecraft

  • Geometry Dash

  • Bloons TD 6

  • Plague Inc.

  • Amazing Frog

As for free ‌iPad‌ apps, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Google Chrome, and Hulu secured the top spots, while the top paid ‌iPad‌ apps included Procreate, Notability, GoodNotes 5, Duet Display, and kids game Toca Hair Salon 3.

Apple separately created a top chart to highlight the most popular Apple Arcade games available for ‌Apple Arcade‌, the company's $4.99 per month gaming service. Top picks are listed below.

  • Oceanhorn 2

  • Sonic Racing

  • Hot Lava

  • Frogger in Toy Town

  • Skate City

  • LEGO Brawls

  • Shinsekai Into the Depths

  • Sayonara Wild Hearts

  • Overland

  • Assemble With Care

  • Speed Demons

  • WHAT THE GOLF?

  • Rayman Mini

  • Mini Motorways

  • Sneaky Sasquatch

  • Agent Intercept

  • Super Impossible Road

  • Where Cards Fall

  • Outlanders

  • Cricket Through the Ages

Apple's full ‌App Store‌ charts for the ‌iPhone‌ and the ‌iPad‌ can be found in the ‌App Store‌ under the respective Apps and Games categories for each device. Apple lists the top 20 paid and free games and apps in these charts.

If you missed it yesterday, Apple also shared its editors choice picks for the best games and apps of the year on ‌iPhone‌, ‌iPad‌, Mac, and Apple TV.

  • ‌Apple Arcade‌‌ Game of the Year - Sayonara Wild Hearts by Simogo

  • ‌iPhone‌‌ App of the Year - Spectre Camera by Lux Optics ($2.99)

  • ‌‌iPhone‌‌ Game of the Year - Sky: Children of the Light by thatgamecompany (Free)

  • ‌iPad‌‌ App of the Year - Flow by Moleskine (Free)

  • ‌iPad‌‌ Game of the Year - Hyper Light Drifter by Abylight S.L. ($4.99)

  • Mac App of the Year - Affinity Publisher by Serif Labs ($49.99)

  • Mac Game of the Year - GRIS by Devolver / Nomada Studio ($4.99)

  • ‌Apple TV‌‌ App of the Year - The Explorers by The Explorers Network ($4.99)

  • ‌Apple TV‌‌ Game of the Year - Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap by DotEmu ($7.99)

More information on all of the apps and other gaming and app trends of the year can be found in the "Today" section of the ‌App Store‌ on the ‌iPhone‌, ‌iPad‌, Mac, and ‌Apple TV‌.


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Apple Reminds Developers That New or Updated Apps Won’t Be Accepted Between December 23-27

Apple today reminded developers that new apps and app updates will not be accepted through App Store Connect from Monday, December 23 through Friday, December 27.

Any app releases should be scheduled, submitted, and approved in advance.

This brief closure of App Store Connect occurs every holiday season. Other features of App Store Connect will remain available.


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