Vaporizer Manufacturer PAX Calls on Apple to Rethink Vaping-Related App Ban

Apple last week removed all vaping-related apps from the App Store and updated ‌App Store‌ guidelines to prohibit apps that facilitate or encourage the use of vape-related devices.

Apple never allowed apps that sold vape cartridges, but it did allow apps that offered up vape-related news or provided controls for vape devices. Some companies, such as PAX, relied heavily on Apple's ‌App Store‌ to add technology to vaporizer devices and those companies are unhappy with Apple's recent ban.


PAX today penned a missive calling on Apple to rethink its decision as PAX creates several vaporizers that are designed to be controlled and customized through iOS and Android apps. The now-banned PAX Mobile app, for example, let PAX vaporizer users do things like adjust the vaporizer temperature, set parental controls, verify the authenticity of cartridges, and change the colors of the lights on the devices.

PAX says that while it respects Apple's leadership, it is concerned with Apple's ban because it prevents consumers in legal stages from "having access to important information and the ability to better control their cannabis experience."

Apple decided to ban all vaping-related apps after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,172 lung injury cases linked to e-cigarette or vape products containing vitamin E acetate, found primarily in products "informally" sourced from friends, family, or in-person or online dealers.

In a statement, Apple said that it agrees with the CDC's opinion that the spread of vaping devices is a "public health crisis and youth epidemic," which is why the apps were pulled.
We take great care to curate the ‌App Store‌ as a trusted place for customers, particularly youth, to download apps. We're constantly evaluating apps, and consulting the latest evidence, to determine risks to users' health and well-being.

Recently, experts ranging from the CDC to the American Heart Association have attributed a variety of lung injuries and fatalities to e-cigarette and vaping products, going so far as to call the spread of these devices a public health crisis and a youth epidemic.

We agree, and we've updated our ‌App Store‌ Review Guidelines to reflect that apps encouraging or facilitating the use of these products are not permitted. As of today, these apps are no longer available to download.
According to PAX, it aims to deliver technology to allow adults to make "educated, informed choices." The company cites its new PodID feature, which is designed to offer consumers "unprecedented access" to the information about what is in vape pods, including strain information, cannabinoid and terpene profiles, and access to state regulated test results, which could ultimately help vaporizer users avoid illicit and dangerous cartridges.

PAX says that it is hoping to work in partnership with Apple to reconsider the decision and make the PAX Mobile app available once again "in the interest of public health and safety."

Those who have already downloaded the PAX Mobile app on iOS can continue to use it for the time being, and it's still available on Android devices. PAX says that all PAX devices can be used without the app and temperature can be changed on the device alone.

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’s WWDC App is Now ‘Apple Developer App’ With Year Round News, Videos and More

Apple today updated its "WWDC" app, changing the name to "Apple Developer" and announcing new year-round updates.

Apple says that the new Apple Developer app will provide "in-depth information from Apple experts all year round," with the app featuring developer news, videos, WWDC content, and more.


The Apple Developer app can also be used to enroll in the Apple Developer program on iPhone or iPad, though this functionality is currently limited to the United States. Membership is provided as an auto-renewable subscription, making it easier to keep a developer account active.

The Apple Developer app can be downloaded from the App Store for free. Those who had the WWDC app can install an update to get the new Apple Developer interface.


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Apple Removing Vaping-Related Apps From App Store Today Amid Public Health Concerns

Apple is removing all vaping-related apps from the App Store today, according to Axios, shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,172 lung injury cases linked to e-cigarette or vape products.


In a statement issued to Axios, Apple said it agrees with expert opinions that vaping is a "public health crisis" and a "youth epidemic":
We take great care to curate the App Store as a trusted place for customers, particularly youth, to download apps. We're constantly evaluating apps, and consulting the latest evidence, to determine risks to users' health and well-being.

Recently, experts ranging from the CDC to the American Heart Association have attributed a variety of lung injuries and fatalities to e-cigarette and vaping products, going so far as to call the spread of these devices a public health crisis and a youth epidemic.

We agree, and we've updated our App Store Review Guidelines to reflect that apps encouraging or facilitating the use of these products are not permitted. As of today, these apps are no longer available to download.
Apple had already took a step in this direction in June, when it updated its App Store Review Guidelines to indicate that apps encouraging consumption of vape products are not permitted on the App Store.

Vaping-related apps already installed on iOS devices will continue to function.

Note: This discussion thread is located in our 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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Tim Cook Defends Removal of Hong Kong Mapping App From App Store in Leaked Memo

Apple CEO Tim Cook has written to employees defending the company's controversial decision to pull an app used by Hong Kong protestors to coordinate gatherings and avoid large concentrations of police.

Apple removed HKMap Live from the App Store on Thursday following the app's approval last week, which itself only came after an internal review of the company's original decision to reject it. Apple's reversal came after the Chinese Communist Party's flagship newspaper criticized Apple for letting the app into its store.

In a company-wide memo, a verified copy of which has been reproduced on Pastebin, Cook told staff that the decision to remove the app was not easy, but that Apple had received "credible information" from Hong Kong police that the app was being used to target individuals for violence. Here's the memo in full:
Team,

You have likely seen the news that we made the decision to remove an app from the ‌App Store‌ entitled HKmap.live. These decisions are never easy, and it is harder still to discuss these topics during moments of furious public debate. It’s out of my great respect for the work you do every day that I want to share the way we went about making this decision.

It is no secret that technology can be used for good or for ill. This case is no different. The app in question allowed for the crowdsourced reporting and mapping of police checkpoints, protest hotspots, and other information. On its own, this information is benign. However, over the past several days we received credible information, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present. This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law. Similarly, widespread abuse clearly violates our ‌App Store‌ guidelines barring personal harm.

We built the ‌App Store‌ to be a safe and trusted place for every user. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously, and it’s one that we aim to preserve. National and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts. In this case, we thoroughly reviewed them, and we believe this decision best protects our users.

Tim
Cook has since been criticized for his claim that the app is used to target individual police and members of the public. The developers say HKmap Live is designed to help protestors avoid law enforcement. As such, it doesn't show individual officers but only large concentrations of police, as reflected in the web-hosted version of the app.

In a Twitter post, Charles Mok, a developer and member of Hong Kong's legislative council, revealed that he had written to Cook saying he was "deeply disappointed with Apple's decision to ban the app, and would like to contest the claims made by Hong Kong Police Force's Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau (CSTBC)."
"There are numerous cases of innocent passers-by in the neighborhood injured by the Kong Kong Police Force's excessive force in crowd dispersal operations," he wrote.

"The user-generated information shared using HKmap.live in fact helps citizens avoid areas where pedestrians not involved in any criminal activities might be subjected to police brutality which many human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have observed."
Mok's letter went on to note that since the banned app aggregates real-time reports from Telegram, Facebook and other sources, then the same standard should also be applied to review these social media apps.

In the U.S., lawmakers have also criticized Apple for not standing up for democratic values and free speech. "An authoritarian regime is violently suppressing its own citizens who are fighting for democracy," said Democrat senator Ron Wyden in a tweet. "Apple just sided with them."

"Apple assured me last week that their initial decision to ban this app was a mistake," tweeted Republican senator Josh Hawley. "Looks like the Chinese censors have had a word with them since. Who is really running Apple? ‌Tim Cook‌ or Beijing?"

At a press conference on Thursday, Hong Kong's Secretary for Transport and Housing was asked by reporters which local laws HKmap Live had violated that led Apple to remove it from the ‌App Store‌, but the official deferred to Cupertino: "The taking down of the app from the ‌App Store‌ is the decision made by the operating company – Apple. So, if you want to know the reason for them to take down the app, maybe you can approach Apple and the Apple Store."

Apple has so far declined to comment on the matter.

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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Crossy Road Castle Coming Soon to Apple Arcade

Hipster Whale, the developers behind the popular game Crossy Road, are expanding the franchise and introducing a new title, Crossy Road Castle, which is coming to Apple Arcade later this year.

The news was announced today via a trailer for the upcoming game, which features Crossy Road-style gameplay in a platform-like castle setting.


Crossy Road first came out in 2014 and soared to popularity thanks to its simple tap-based object avoidance gameplay and wealth of unlockable characters.

Crossy Road is available on multiple platforms, but given the mobile exclusivity restrictions for  Apple Arcade , Crossy Road Castle will be available solely on the iPhone and won't come to Android.

 Apple Arcade  games are available on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac, but not all games are available on all platforms. Crossy Road Castle, though, will be available on all devices that support  Apple Arcade , according to GameSpot. Crossy Road Castle will include no in-app purchases or additional unlocks, and will be available as part of the $4.99 per month  Apple Arcade  subscription price.

Up to four players can play Crossy Road Castle collaboratively via a local connection, so friends and family members can play with one another.

There's no specific launch date for Crossy Road Castle, with Hipster Whale saying it's "coming soon."


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China Accuses Apple of ‘Protecting Rioters’ After Approving HKmap Live for the App Store

Apple has come under attack from China for allowing an app in its App Store that is being used by Hong Kong protestors to track protests and police movements in the city state (via The Guardian).

Last week we reported that Apple was reviewing its decision to reject the HKmap Live app from the App Store while it investigated whether the software violates local laws. HKmap Live has been used extensively by pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong to crowdsource information about street closures and police presence.

Apple ultimately approved the app, which has become the most downloaded app under the travel category in the iOS App Store for Hong Kong – a fact that appears to have attracted the ire of the mainland Chinese administration.

On Wednesday, China's state media accused the tech giant of endorsing and protecting "rioters" in Hong Kong's ongoing protests. The condemnation came via the People's Daily, a recognized Chinese Communist party mouthpiece.

The commentary, the print-version of which ran with the headline "Protecting rioters – Has Apple thought clearly about this?", denounced Apple for "allowing the poisonous app to flourish," which it called "a betrayal of the Chinese people's feelings."

It said Apple's approval of HKmap Live, which it did not specifically name, made it an "accomplice" in the protests because it "blatantly protects and endorses the rioters," and questioned what the company's intentions were.

It also criticized Apple for allowing Glory to Hong Kong – an unofficial anthem frequently sung by protesters during the ongoing anti-government movement – to be available for download in the iTunes Store.
The map app is just the tip of the iceberg. In the Apple Music Store in Hong Kong, there was also a song advocating "Hong Kong independence." Such a song was once removed from the music store and has resurrected.

As a company with international influence, Apple has always enjoyed a high reputation. A company has its own standards of conduct, but should also have its social responsibilities. If Apple abandons its responsibilities and let violent acts get worse, it puts more users at risk.

Business is business, and politics is politics. Nobody wants to drag Apple into the lingering unrest in Hong Kong. But people have reason to assume that Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts. Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision.
While it appears that Apple deemed the HKmap Live app to be legal, it has acted to remove apps from the App Store to abide by Chinese law in the past.

In July 2017, it removed most VPN apps from the App Store in China, following regulations passed earlier in the year that require such apps to be authorized by the Chinese government. Later the same year, Apple removed Skype from the App Store in China to comply with local law.

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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Amazon Prime Video Currently Unavailable in App Store Across iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV [Updated]

Amazon Prime Video is currently unavailable in the App Store across iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. Amazon had updated the iOS version of the app shortly before it was removed from the App Store, but it is unclear why the app was pulled or whether this is a temporary move.

Apple deferred comment to Amazon, which has yet to respond to our email. We'll update as we learn more.

Update: MacRumors has been informed this was a technical issue and the app should be back up shortly.


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Congress Reportedly Asks Spotify for Information on Apple’s Alleged Anticompetitive Behavior

The U.S. Congress has requested information from Spotify related to its anticompetitive allegations against Apple, according to Reuters.


From the report:
The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee reached out to the music streaming service with broad requests for information, according to one source, who added the request to the company was narrowed in follow up telephone calls.
In March, Spotify announced it filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Commission over unfair App Store practices. Spotify took particular issue with Apple charging a 30 percent "tax" on only certain App Store purchases, calling it "discriminatory."

Apple only charges a commission on in-app purchases tied to digital goods, so apps providing real goods and services like Uber are exempt.

Apple also forbids Spotify and other developers from alerting users that they can sign up for a subscription or complete a purchase outside of its iOS app, and disallows Spotify from advertising deals to its customers in the app or by email, as these practices would circumvent Apple's in-app purchase system.

Apple has faced increasing scrutiny as of late over the way it runs its App Store. In response, Apple said the App Store "welcomes competition," noting that it was created to be "a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps" and "a great business opportunity for all developers."

Apple labeled Spotify's complaint as "misleading rhetoric" and claimed that "Spotify wants all the benefits of a free app without being free," later adding that Spotify pays Apple a 15 percent commission for only about 0.5 percent of its paying subscribers as part of its official response to the complaint.


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Apple Bans App That Allowed Hong Kong Protestors to Track Police Movements

Apple has reportedly banned an app that allows Hong Kong protestors to track protests and police movements in the city state, despite increasing international condemnation against the violence used by the authorities.


According to The Register, Apple has told the makers of the HKmap Live app that it can't be allowed in the App Store because it helps protestors to evade the police.
"Your app contains content - or facilitates, enables, and encourages an activity - that is not legal ... specifically, the app allowed users to evade law enforcement," the American tech giant told makers of the HKmap Live on Tuesday before pulling it.
Opposition to the Chinese state and the Hong Kong authorities has grown louder, driven by an escalation in violence against protestors over the past week. On Wednesday, thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong to denounce the shooting of an unarmed teenage student by police.

Tsang Chi-kin was shot in the chest at point-blank range on Tuesday. He remains in hospital in stable but critical condition after surgery to remove the bullet, which narrowly missed his heart.

The rise in police violence has led protesters to make use of digital networking and collaborative tools to organize street gatherings, with services like HKmap Live being used to help them avoid what they perceive as government-orchestrated attacks.

This isn't the first time Apple has acted to remove apps from the App Store to abide by Chinese law. In July 2017, Apple removed the majority of VPN apps from the App Store in China, following regulations passed earlier in the year that require such apps to be authorized by the Chinese government.

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 Plans to Allow Siri to Default to Frequently-Used Third-Party Messaging Apps Later This Year

Apple plans to release a software update later this year that will enable third-party messaging apps like WhatsApp, Skype, and Facebook Messenger to work better with Siri, the company told Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.


Specifically, the update will enable Siri to default to the messaging app that a person uses most frequently to communicate with a given contact. For example, if an iPhone user almost always messages a friend via WhatsApp, Siri will automatically launch WhatsApp rather than Apple's own iMessage.

It will still not be possible to set third-party apps as default on an iPhone. Instead, the report claims Siri will decide which messaging app to use based on interactions with specific contacts. App Store developers will need to enable the new Siri functionality in their apps when available.

Currently, users must specify the third-party app they wish to use to message someone. Following the software update, a user could simply say "message John" and Siri might automatically do so via WhatsApp or so forth.

This functionality will later be expanded to third-party phone apps for calls as well, but no timeframe was specified.

In a statement, Apple also defended the competitive landscape of the App Store:
Apple offers our users an experience that is only possible from the integration of hardware, software, and services. From the very first iPhone, we have included apps to provide customers with a great experience right out of the box for making phone calls, playing music, surfing the web, and more. With every generation of iPhone we have advanced the built in capabilities for our customers with a few default apps designed for great performance, long battery life, seamless integration, and industry-leading protections for security and privacy. We have also created the App Store, the safest place to get apps, so customers can choose from millions of apps to find the ones that further enhance their iPhone. In the few categories where Apple also has an app, we have many successful competitors and we're proud that their success is responsible for almost 2 million U.S. jobs in a thriving multibillion dollar market for developers. Our North Star is always to create the best products for our customers and that is why iPhone has the highest customer satisfaction in the industry.
More details to follow…


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