Original iPhone Game ‘Rolando’ Returning to App Store

Back in 2008, we wrote about Rolando, a platform-style puzzle game that was one of the first games back when the iPhone and the App Store were both new. At the time, our sister site TouchArcade said it was among "the best games the App Store has to offer."

The original Rolando game is no longer on the App Store because of the 2017 crackdown on 32-bit apps, but Rolando developer HandCircus today announced that a remastered version of the game is coming on April 3rd, which will be good news to fans of the Rolando series.


Rolando: Royal Edition is an overhauled version of the original Rolando game from 2008, with updated graphics, redesigned levels, and new mechanics. HandCircus says that the entire game has been updated with new content.

The award-winning iPhone classic is back and better than ever! This brand-new 'Royal Edition' is a completely remastered Rolando - every interaction, every course, flower, trampoline, bomb, catapult and squirrel has been given a thorough scrub, buff and shine, making this the most gorgeous version yet!
In Rolando, the goal of the game is to guide a gang of Rolandos through traps and puzzles on a quest to save the sages from the Shadow Creatures. With the exception of new mechanics and updates to the design, the original Rolando gameplay appears to be intact.

Rolando: Royal Edition can be pre-ordered from the App Store for $1.99, a 1/3 discount off of the planned launch price. [Direct Link]


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Apple Offering 10% Bonus When Adding Funds to Your Account for App Store and iTunes Purchases

Apple today sent out emails letting App Store and iTunes users know about a new promotion that offers a 10 percent bonus when adding funds to an Apple ID account.

When you add money directly to your Apple ID from a credit or debit card for making App Store, iTunes, and iCloud purchases, Apple is adding bonus credit.


Apple says the offer is valid on amounts ranging from $1.00 to $200, so customers who add the maximum $200 in funds to their Apple IDs can get a total of $220 with the bonus ($20 free).

Funds can be added to your Apple ID account by opening up the Settings app, tapping on your account name, selecting the iTunes and App Store option, choosing your Apple ID, and then selecting "Add Funds to Apple ID."


From there, you can see the promotional bonuses available and choose the amount of money you want to add to your account. You can also get to these options in the iTunes Store by tapping on your Apple ID or in the App Store by scrolling to the bottom (or tapping your profile picture) and selecting the Add Funds option. To use this feature, you will need to have a valid payment method added to your Apple ID account.

The promotion will be available from March 10 through March 14 in the United States, and it is also available in other countries as well, such as Germany, where Apple is offering a 15 percent bonus. No bonus funds are available in the UK or Canada, however.


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Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren’s Plan to ‘Break Up’ Big Tech Companies Could Affect Apple’s App Store

Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is in the running for the 2020 presidential race as a Democratic candidate, today outlined her proposal for "breaking up" tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Facebook in an effort to combat monopolistic behavior (via CNBC). Apple is not directly mentioned in Warren's post on Medium, but a representative from her campaign confirmed the plan would affect Apple.

Image via CNBC and Scott Olson/Getty Images

In essence, Warren wants to make "big, structural changes" to the technology sector in order to promote increased competition. The presidential candidate says that these companies have too much power "over our economy, our society, and our democracy," in the process hurting small businesses and stifling innovation.

To combat this, Warren proposes a path to restoring competition to the tech sector in two major steps. The first is by passing legislation that requires large tech platforms to be designated as "Platform Utilities" and broken apart from any participant on that platform.

This first step is what would directly affect Apple, as the App Store would become a Platform Utility, and any of Apple's first-party apps on it would not be allowed. So, the company would have to choose between running the App Store or building and selling its own apps, according to Warren spokeswoman Saloni Sharma. The same law would hit Amazon on its Marketplace and Google's ad exchange.

Second, the Warren administration would appoint regulators committed to reversing anti-competitive tech mergers. These include "unwinding" mergers like Amazon/Whole Foods/Zappos, Facebook/WhatsApp/Instagram, and Google/Waze/Nest/DoubleClick.

Warren argues that undoing these mergers would promote healthy competition in the market, putting pressure back on big tech companies that would make them more responsive to user concerns, particularly about privacy. "Facebook would face real pressure from Instagram and WhatsApp to improve the user experience and protect our privacy," says Warren.

Toward the end of her blog post, Warren summed up her strategy:
Here’s what won’t change: You’ll still be able to go on Google and search like you do today. You’ll still be able to go on Amazon and find 30 different coffee machines that you can get delivered to your house in two days. You’ll still be able to go on Facebook and see how your old friend from school is doing.

Here’s what will change: Small businesses would have a fair shot to sell their products on Amazon without the fear of Amazon pushing them out of business. Google couldn’t smother competitors by demoting their products on Google Search. Facebook would face real pressure from Instagram and WhatsApp to improve the user experience and protect our privacy. Tech entrepreneurs would have a fighting chance to compete against the tech giants.
Warren is among a dozen Democrats who have announced their runs for the 2020 presidential bid over the past few months, also including senator Kamala Harris, congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, governor Jay Inslee, and senator Bernie Sanders. Confirmed Republican candidates running next year include president Donald Trump and former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Apple Cracking Down on Developers Spamming the App Store With Duplicate Apps

Just one day after exposing a handful of developers spamming the App Store with duplicate VoIP apps, a clear violation of the App Store Review Guidelines, TechCrunch reports that Apple has removed many of the apps from the App Store.


However, the report notes that plenty of duplicate apps remain available in other categories, such as photo printing. MailPix Inc., for example, has released three different apps that all offer same-day photo printing at nearby CVS or Walgreens locations. All three apps appear to be virtually identical in functionality.

By releasing duplicate apps on the App Store, developers are able to game the search results by using different names, categories, and keywords.


As the report mentions, the primary issue here is that Apple is not consistently enforcing its App Store Review Guidelines, which warn developers that "spamming the store may lead to your removal from the Developer Program." This can lead to an unfair playing field for developers who do abide by the rules.

With millions of apps on the App Store, it is likely that quite a few other duplicate apps have slipped through the cracks, but hopefully the increased awareness results in Apple cracking down more on these rule-breaking developers.


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Apple Will Soon Let Developers Entice Past Subscribers With Discounted iOS, macOS, and tvOS Subscriptions

In an article posted to App Store Connect, Apple has detailed how iOS, macOS, and tvOS app developers will soon be able to offer discounted subscriptions to past subscribers in an attempt to win those customers back.


As with introductory offers for new subscribers, there will be three categories of promotional offers for previous subscribers:
Free
Customers access your subscription for free for a specific duration — for example, a 30-day trial for a subscription with a standard renewal price of $4.99 per month.

Pay As You Go
Customers pay a promotional price for each billing period for a selected duration — for example, $1.99 per month for three months for a subscription with a standard renewal price of $9.99 per month.

Pay Up Front
Customers pay a one-time promotional price for a specific duration — for example, $9.99 for the first six months of a subscription with a standard renewal price of $39.99 per year.
Developers will be able to offer up to 10 different promotions at once to test the waters.

The promotional offers will also be available to existing subscribers, allowing developers to both retain and win back subscribers. A customer who has yet to subscribe to an app will not have access to the promotional offers, but may be presented with an introductory offer if the developer offers one.

Using receipt validation, developers will be able to identify subscribers who have turned off auto-renewal so that they can act quickly with a promotional offer in an attempt to win them back before the end of their current subscription period.

Once the promotional period ends, the subscription auto-renews at the standard price, according to Apple.

Promotional offers for previous and existing subscribers will be available in iOS 12.2, macOS Mojave 10.14.4, and tvOS 12.2 and later. Developers can get ready now by creating offers in App Store Connect and by downloading the Xcode 10.2 beta and implementing the new StoreKit APIs into their apps.

Apple first announced this change in its iOS 12.2 beta release notes. More information is available on the Apple Developer website.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12, macOS Mojave, iOS 12
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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Apple Says European Developers Have Earned Over $25 Billion From App Store

Apple Music vice president Oliver Schusser spoke with German blog Macerkopf this week, revealing that European developers have now earned over $25 billion from the App Store since its inception in 2008.


Schusser also noted that customers have downloaded and streamed over 50 billion episodes of 650,000 active shows on Apple Podcasts.

Apple provided MacRumors with Schusser's full remarks in English:
Our services division which includes the content stores, Apple Pay and iCloud storage is on target to be a $40 billion business annually. In January we announced developer earnings on the App Store have reached $120 billion. Payments to European developers have just passed $25 billion. Apple Music now has 50 million paid users around the world since launching just under 4 years ago. We're the the #1 music streaming service in the US and the leading music service globally on iPhone. Our customers love the amazing content, whether it's through playlists, Radio, Beats 1, or suggestions in For You. Apple Music was the first place to hear great new music from Nicki Minaj, The Weeknd and Frank Ocean to name a few last year. Beats 1 also hosts exclusive and popular artist-led shows from Drake, Nicki Minaj, Ezra Koenig, Lars Ulrich and Elton John. The final update I'd like to share today is around podcasting where our customers have downloaded and streamed over 50 billion episodes of 650,000 active shows on Apple Podcasts.
Other figures mentioned in the remarks were previously known, including that developers have earned over $120 billion globally since the App Store launched and that Apple Music has over 50 million paying subscribers.

(Thanks, Andre!)


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Apple Introduces Quicker Way to Manage Subscriptions via App Store

Apple recently introduced an easier way to manage subscriptions via the App Store, as spotted by MacStories editor-in-chief Federico Viticci.



iPhone and iPad users running iOS 12.1.4 or iOS 12.2 beta can now simply open the App Store, tap on their profile picture in the top-right corner, and tap on Manage Subscriptions to view and edit App Store, Apple Music, and Apple News subscriptions.

We've confirmed this Manage Subscriptions shortcut is not in earlier iOS versions.

iOS 12.1.2

Managing subscriptions previously required an extra step of tapping on the box with your Apple ID name and email address via the App Store or Settings.

Apple will reportedly host a subscription-focused media event on Monday, March 25 at Steve Jobs Theater, where it is expected to announce its widely rumored subscription news service and perhaps its streaming movie and TV show service.


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Average U.S. iPhone User Spent $79 on Apps Last Year

iPhone users in the United States spent an average of $79 on App Store games and apps in 2018 according to an upcoming Sensor Tower report shared today by TechCrunch.

At $79, the revenue generated per active U.S. iPhone grew 36 percent year over year, up from an average of $58 spent per iPhone in 2017. iPhone users spent about $21 more in 2018 on in-app purchases and paid downloads.


Much of the spending growth came from mobile gaming, with 56 percent of the $79 total average attributed to App Store games.

Spending was also up quite a lot in other categories such as entertainment, music, social networking, and health and fitness.


Sensor Tower believes that subscription apps are a contributing factor for the increased spending in many of these non-faming categories.

Apple's App Store is a major revenue driver for Apple in its services category, with app purchases continually setting new revenue records. The App Store hit a new single-day revenue record on New Year's Day, for example, with customers spending a whopping $322 million.

Over the holiday period including Christmas and New Year's Day, the App Store raked in more than $1.22 billion.


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Apple Forces Developers to Remove Screen Recording Code From iOS Apps

Yesterday, TechCrunch discovered that multiple popular iPhone apps from major companies are using intrusive analytics services that capture data ranging from taps and swipes to full screen recordings, all without customers knowing about it.


Today, Apple has informed app developers that this kind of screen recording analytics code needs to be clearly disclosed to customers or removed from iOS apps. From an Apple spokesperson's email to TechCrunch:
"Protecting user privacy is paramount in the Apple ecosystem. Our App Store Review Guidelines require that apps request explicit user consent and provide a clear visual indication when recording, logging, or otherwise making a record of user activity."

"We have notified the developers that are in violation of these strict privacy terms and guidelines, and will take immediate action if necessary," the spokesperson added.
At least one developer has already been told to remove the code that recorded app activities. From an email to the developer:
"Your app uses analytics software to collect and send user or device data to a third party without the user's consent. Apps must request explicit user consent and provide a clear visual indication when recording, logging, or otherwise making a record of user activity."
Apple is serious about getting rid of this code and gave the developer in question less than a day to remove it and resubmit the app before it would be pulled from the App Store.

High-profile apps like Abercrombie & Fitch, Hotels.com, Air Canada, Hollister, Expedia, and Singapore Airlines are using Glassbox, a customer experience analytics firm with a "session replay" screen recording feature.

Session replays are designed to let developers screenshot or record or a user's screen and then play back those recordings to see how users interact with their apps. Taps, button pushes, and keyboard entries are all captured and provided to app developers.

None of the apps above disclosed that they were recording a user's screen in their privacy policies, which is apparently in violation of Apple's App Store rules.

Apple also requires apps that record the screen to have a little red icon on the top left corner of the phone to make it clear that the screen is being recorded, and it sounds like Apple is going to enforce this rule for this kind of analytics tracking.

Most likely, apps will need to remove this feature because customers are not going to willingly use an app that's recording everything that they're doing and displaying a persistent red icon while the app is open.

There are many other analytics companies that have similar practices like Appsee and UXCam, so there are undoubtedly many more apps that are using these secret screen recording features without customer knowledge.


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Some Popular iPhone Apps Secretly Record Your Screen for Analytics Purposes

Multiple popular iPhone apps from major companies are using intrusive analytics services that capture detailed data like taps, swipes, and even screen recordings without customer knowledge, reports TechCrunch.

Apps that include Abercrombie & Fitch, Hotels.com, Air Canada, Hollister, Expedia, and Singapore Airlines are using Glassbox, a customer experience analytics firm that lets developers use "session replay" screen recording technology within their apps.


Session replays let developers screenshot or record or a user's screen and then play back those recordings to see how users interact with their apps. Taps, button pushes, and keyboard entries are all captured and provided to app developers.

Some apps, such as Air Canada, don't properly mask data that's recorded, exposing information like passport numbers and credit card information. Air Canada employees with access to the screenshot database can readily see this data.

TechCrunch had mobile app expert The App Analyst look at some of the apps that Glassbox lists as a customer. Not all apps leaked masked data, and most appeared to be obfuscated, but there were instances where email addresses and postal codes were visible.

"Since this data is often sent back to Glassbox servers I wouldn't be shocked if they have already had instances of them capturing sensitive banking information and passwords," The App Analyst told TechCrunch.

As TechCrunch points out, all of the apps have a privacy policy, but not one makes it clear that they're recording a user's screen. Glassbox does not require special permission from either Apple or the user to record the screen, and without checking specific app data, there is no way to know if an app is doing this.

Glassbox also does not require its customers to mention the usage of the screen recording feature in their privacy policies.
"Glassbox has a unique capability to reconstruct the mobile application view in a visual format, which is another view of analytics, Glassbox SDK can interact with our customers native app only and technically cannot break the boundary of the app," the spokesperson said, such as when the system keyboard covers part of the native app/ "Glassbox does not have access to it," the spokesperson said.
There are other analytics companies that have practices similar to Glassbox, like Appsee and UXCam, and there are a lot of major companies that are using this kind of technology, based on their customer lists. This kind of tracking is also not limited to iOS apps -- it can be done on the web as well.

With no way to detect that this is going on, all customers can do is refuse to use the apps and services of companies that are found to be engaging in shady analytics tracking purposes without clear privacy policies.


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