Activists Urge Apple to Remove App Store Games That Play Up Philippine Drugs War

A group of civil society organizations has demanded that Apple remove games from its App Store that promote violence and killings commonplace in the Philippines' war on drugs (via Reuters).

The games in question, which the group said violated Apple's own guidelines, include characters based on Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and his national police chief, Ronaldo "Bato" dela Rosa, who engage criminals in gun battles and fistfights.

Tsip Bato by Ranida Games
"These games valorise and normalise the emerging tyranny of Duterte's presidency and his government's disregard for human rights principles," the Asian Network of People who Use Drugs (ANPUD) said in an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
The group named 131 organizations from several countries as supportive of the October 10 complaint to Apple, with groups working on human rights, youth and drug policy reform among them.

They urged the tech giant to issue an apology for hosting such "insensitive content". Apple has yet to respond to the letter.

Thousands have been killed in Duterte's war on drugs, a 15-month-long campaign that has caused international alarm. Human rights groups say state-sponsored executions are taking place, but authorities vehemently reject the claim.

Games available in the App Store that have come in for criticism include Fighting Crime 2, Duterte Knows Kung Fu, Duterte Running Man Challenge, Tsip Bato, and Duterte Vs Zombies. The civil rights groups said the games "might seem harmless and fun" but are offensive and distasteful because of the reality and prevalence of state-sanctioned murder with impunity.

Ben Joseph Banta, a managing partner of Ranida Games, which developed Tsip Bato, told Reuters in an email that the aim of its game was "not to promote violence", but that it sought to discourage drug use with the use of banner messages opposing drugs that were visible to players.

"We understand the human rights groups and we're very much open to make changes in the game in order to remove the stigma that the game is promoting violence," said Banta.

On Thursday, The Guardian reported that President Duterte had ordered police to end all operations in his war on drugs. In a televised speech he said he hoped a shift to target big networks would satisfy "bleeding hearts" and interfering western states fixated on the high death toll in his brutal crackdown.

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 to Remove Dice Subcategory From Games Section of App Store

Apple today informed developers that as of now, the Dice subcategory in the Games section of iTunes Connect has been eliminated, with Apple planning to remove the Dice section from the App Store in the near future.

Developers who have apps in the Dice subcategory have received the email. Apple says that developers don't need to take any action, but can change their app's subcategory if desired.
Starting today, the Dice subcategory under Games will no longer be available for selection in iTunes Connect and will be removed from the App Store in the future. You are receiving this email because you have one or more apps in this subcategory.

While no action is required since subcategory selection is optional, you can change your app's subcategory during your next update as described in View and edit app information, or change it now if your app has an editable app status.
Apple did not explain why it has opted to remove the Dice category from the App Store, but it's likely not a highly popular category and its elimination allows for better streamlining of the available sections in the App Store.


Dice games can be rolled into a wide range of other categories. Game categories in the revamped App Store in iOS 11 include Action, Adventure, AR, Arcade, Board, Card, Casino, Family, Indie, Kids, Music, Puzzle, Racing, Role Playing, Simulation, Sports, Strategy, Trivia, and Word.

Update: Apple is also removing the Educational Games subcategory and the Catalogs subcategory from the Apps section of the App Store.

Tag: App Store

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App Store Surfacing Old Reviews From as Early as 2008 for Some Users

Since at least the iOS 11 beta, the App Store has been prioritizing old reviews from several years ago for some users. Now that the software update is publicly released, we're starting to receive more user reports about the change.

The first review for Facebook's app is from 2008

On my own iPhone, the first review for Facebook is from 2008, the year the App Store launched. The reviewer called it a nice app that allows him to stop using Facebook over text messaging, which is clearly a dated comment.

Similarly, the first review I can see for the Skype app is seven years old. The reviewer said he was glad the app finally has the ability to make phone calls over a 3G network, a feature added way back in May 2010.

Old reviews appeared at or near the top of the list for several regularly updated apps in my testing, including Airbnb, Dropbox, Google Maps, Instagram, Minecraft, Netflix, Twitter, Waze, WhatsApp, Yelp, and YouTube.

The top reviews for Google's app are six to nine years old

It's worth noting that I live in Canada. A few MacRumors editors living in the United States checked the App Store and saw much newer reviews for the Facebook app, although they were shown a three-year-old review for the Google app.

A handful of MacRumors forum members living in the United States report seeing very old reviews, however, so there doesn't appear to be any consistency to this change. Your mileage may vary completely.

"Now I have to wade through 6-yr-old app reviews, which are worthless," said MacRumors forum member AllergyDoc, whose location is listed as Utah.

"For example Evernote, the first four reviews are older than three years old," said MacRumors forum member vahdyx, who lives in Colorado. "One of the reviews were from when Obama was a new president."

Many users are frustrated because Apple currently provides no way to sort the reviews in a different order on iOS 11.

Ideally, the App Store should be displaying reviews in reverse chronological order to ensure the newest comments are at the top. A few slightly older reviews mixed in is surely fine, but reviews from 2008 aren't particularly helpful.

Previously, reviews would only show for the latest version of an app, but that is currently not the case on both iOS 10 and iOS 11.

It's quite possible that this is simply a bug, and if so, it's probably an easy fix that might not even require a software update. MacRumors has reached out to Apple for comment, and we'll update this article if we hear anything back.

Tag: App Store

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Myst-Like Puzzle Game ‘The Witness’ Now Available From the App Store

Popular PC and console game The Witness finally made its way to the iPhone and iPad tonight with the official release of the iOS version of the game. If you're not familiar with The Witness, it's a 3D Myst-like puzzle adventure game designed by Jonathan Blow, the developer behind popular game Braid.


In The Witness, players take on the role of a mystery person who wakes up alone on an island full of puzzles that need to be solved. The idea is to explore the island (which is open world), finish puzzles, and discover your identity.

There are more than 500 puzzles to solve and dozens of locations to explore on the island. The game, which took seven years to complete, has been well-received on other platforms both for the gameplay balance and art style.


Our sister site TouchArcade has been eagerly awaiting the launch of The Witness since 2011, when we heard the first hints that the game might eventually be released on iOS devices. TouchArcade has followed its progress since then, and shared the news of its launch tonight.

The Witness is priced at $9.99 in the App Store, which is cheaper than the price from Steam or on consoles. In the Mac App Store, for example, it costs $39.99. The Witness is available now on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. [Direct Link]

Tag: App Store

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Apple Shares Several New Videos Highlighting Revamped App Store in iOS 11

iOS 11 introduces an entirely revamped App Store that features a new "Today" screen for app discovery and separate sections for apps and games to make it easier to design content. It's a major change, and to highlight some of the new features, Apple today released a series of YouTube videos showing off the App Store.

The first video is almost 40 seconds in length and focuses primarily on the Today section of the App Store with its app recommendations, developer stories, tips and tricks for using apps, and Game of the Day and App of the Day.


Subsequent short videos are designed to show off some of the specific Today section features like the making of Monument Valley 2, the best apps for sneakerheads, and tips for karaoke-ing at home.






Apple puts a lot of focus on the iOS App Store in iOS 11, especially with its move to eliminate the App Store from iTunes on the desktop. The iOS App Store is now the sole portal for discovering and managing app content on iOS devices.

Apple updates the "Today" section of the App Store on a daily basis to introduce new content, and there continue to be detailed app and game recommendations in other sections of the App Store. To get the new App Store, iOS 11, released yesterday, is required.

Tag: App Store

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Cellular Over-the-Air App Download Limit Increased to 150 MB

Following the launch of iOS 11, Apple today announced that it has increased the cellular over-the-air app download limit from 100 MB to 150 MB, meaning users can now download apps and app updates that are as large as 150 MB over a cellular connection.

Apps and app updates over 150 MB will require users to connect to Wi-Fi for content to be downloaded.

It's been awhile since Apple last updated the cellular download limit. The last increase was introduced in 2013, increasing the 50 MB limit to 100 MB.

Apple has limits in place to avoid causing customers to unwittingly use high amounts of data when downloading apps, but the introduction of unlimited plans from all of the major carriers in the United States has likely alleviated some of those concerns.

Developers often aim to keep their app sizes under the cellular limit whenever possible to prevent customers from having to hassle with connecting to Wi-Fi to download an app or app update.

Tag: App Store

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PSA: Your Older 32-Bit Apps Won’t Launch After Installing iOS 11 Tomorrow

When millions of iPads and iPhones are updated to iOS 11 tomorrow, older 32-bit apps that have not been updated with iOS 11 support will no longer launch.

If you attempt to open one of these 32-bit apps, iOS 11 will refuse to open it and will offer up a message that says the app needs to be updated to work with the new operating system.

You're also not going to find 32-bit apps available when searching in the new App Store, nor can previously downloaded 32-bit apps be installed through the Purchased tab.


Apple has not widely publicized the imminent lack of support for 32-bit apps, so when older apps stop working tomorrow, it could come as a shock to the users who are still have them installed and use them regularly.

Apple has, however, attempted to warn customers. Starting with the launch of iOS 10.1 in October of 2016, when launching a 32-bit app, Apple informed customers that older apps "may slow down your iPhone." As of iOS 10.3, a more explicit message has been provided: "This app will not work with future versions of iOS."

Customers who have paid attention to these warnings may not be as surprised, but not everyone may have seen or read the warnings.

Apple began transitioning to 64-bit apps when the iPhone 5s launched in September of 2013. All apps and app updates have been required to use 64-bit architecture since June of 2015, so all apps that are 32-bit have not been updated for at least two years.

Many app developers have gone back and added 64-bit support to older apps, but there are still bound to be many apps that lack support.

Current iOS 10 users can check to see if there are any 32-bit apps on their iOS devices in the Settings app. Go to General --> About --> Applications to see the "App Compatibility" section that lists any outdated apps.

iOS 11 is only compatible with devices that feature a 64-bit chip, meaning it works with everything that has an A7 or newer chip. Specifically, iOS 11 is compatible with iPhone 5s, SE, 6 Plus, 6, 6s Plus, 6s, 7 Plus, and 7, along with the new fifth-generation iPad, the iPad Air, the iPad Air 2, all iPad Pro models, the iPad mini 2 and later, and the 6th generation iPod touch.

Customers on older devices like the iPhone 5 and 5c that can't install iOS 11 will not be affected.

Related Roundup: iOS 11
Tag: App Store

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32-Bit Apps Represented Less Than 1% of Apple’s App Store Revenue Last Quarter

Apple began permitting developers to submit 64-bit applications to the iOS App Store back in 2013, allowing for improved app performance and reliability on 64-bit iOS devices. Then in June of 2015, Apple began enforcing that all apps and app updates released on the App Store must use the 64-bit architecture, meaning apps that are still 32-bit have not been updated in well over two years. With the upcoming launch of iOS 11, 32-bit apps won't be supported at all moving forward.

Trying to open a 32-bit app on iOS 11 will present users with this message

Recently, SensorTower decided to take a look at the remaining 32-bit apps on the App Store, which amounts to more than 180,000 worldwide. Looking at the last quarter, revenue from 32-bit apps amounted to "less than 1 percent" of Apple's total portion of App Store revenue. The older apps made approximately $37.5 million worldwide in the last quarter, and Apple's cut from that was about $11.3 million -- or "a mere 0.41 percent of its total revenue" from in-app purchases and paid apps on the App Store.

While unsurprising, it's interesting to see the last few apps from the old era of the App Store clinging to life ahead of iOS 11. SensorTower pointed out that the two remaining highest-grossing 32-bit-only apps are "The Amazing Spider-Man" by Gameloft and "Trigger Fist" by Lake Effect, which in August made $45,000 and $36,000 worldwide, respectively. Without updates, these games and any like them will be defunct on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 11, but Apple won't be losing much profit from the apps' incompatibility with the new software.

As the chart above illustrates, the share of revenue generated by the more than 180,000 remaining 32-bit apps on the App Store worldwide has been steadily decreasing since Apple required all new app updates to be 64-bit in June of 2015. In the third quarter of that year, we estimate that they represented about 1.13 percent of worldwide gross App Store revenue, or approximately $53.5 million. By 3Q16, that amount declined to about $43.6 million, or approximately 0.61 percent of all revenue.
Anyone on iOS 10 can check to see if they have 32-bit apps on their device by navigating to the Settings app > General > About > Applications > "App Compatibility." Here users will be able to see a list of any outdated apps that won't be supported on iOS 11. All iOS devices with a 64-bit chip will support iOS 11, including the iPhone 5s and newer, the fifth-generation iPad, the iPad Air, the iPad Air 2, all iPad Pro models, the iPad mini 2 and later, and the 6th generation iPod touch.

Tag: App Store

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Apple’s WWDC App Updated With Bug Fixes and Handoff Support

Apple today updated its official WWDC app to version 6.0.2, introducing a handful of bug fixes and bringing Handoff support for the app for the first time.

With Handoff, you can begin watching a video in the WWDC app and continue it on another iOS device or in the Safari browser on a Mac by tapping the Handoff icon as you would with any other Handoff interaction.

Along with Handoff support, the app introduces improved navigation on the Apple TV when swiping up and down, it makes sure previously downloaded videos remain available when switching between HD and SD, and it fixes an issue that caused previously downloaded videos to be lost when upgrading.

Apple's WWDC app is the official app for the Worldwide Developers Conference. It houses all of the WWDC videos from sessions that have been conducted over the years and allows them to be streamed on iOS devices and the Apple TV.

During conferences, it also provides times for sessions and labs, indoor event mapping, full schedules, and important news updates.

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

Tags: App Store, WWDC

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Apple Pulls Popular Third-Party YouTube App ‘ProTube’ From the App Store

Hugely popular third-party YouTube app "ProTube" was quietly removed from the App Store by Apple last week. Apple's decision to pull the app followed several takedown requests from Google that were received by the app's developer.

ProTube was hailed by users during its three-year reign for several features either not available in the official YouTube app or not offered by other third-party apps, such as the ability to play videos in 4K at 60 frames per second, background playback, and an audio-only mode. Over its lifetime, the $5 app reached number 1 in the paid app charts in 11 different countries and the top 10 in 57 countries.


In a statement on his website, developer Jonas Gessner said he was "very sad to announce that ProTube was removed from the App Store by Apple on September 1, 2017". The action reportedly came "after multiple requests and threats by YouTube which ultimately led Apple to suddenly pulling the app from the App Store", said Gessner.
YouTube first requested Apple to remove my app well over a year ago, initially just stating that my app violates their Terms of Service. This was a generic takedown request they sent to many YouTube apps at once. They later started going into more detail, even stating that I could not sell the app as that alone violates their ToS. They basically wanted me to remove every feature that made ProTube what it is – that includes the player itself that allows you to play 60fps videos, background playback, audio only mode and more.

Without those features ProTube would not be any better than YouTube's own app, and that is exactly what they want to achieve. YouTube wants to sell its $10/month [YouTube Red] subscription service which offers many features that ProTube also offered for a lower one time price, so they started hunting down 3rd party YouTube apps on the App Store.
Gessner said he initially considered several options to end the dispute with YouTube, including removing all the contested features and making the app free, but ultimately he decided against this because "everyone who paid for ProTube's standout features would suddenly get an app update that removes all those features, resulting in a useless app".

The developer also tried to negotiate with YouTube to come to some sort of agreement, but found the process "very difficult" and claimed he was unable to get a direct response to his questions. After threats of legal action, "I knew that getting sued could cost me more than I ever made with ProTube," he said.

"While it is absolutely awful seeing ProTube getting pulled from the App Store, it was the best solution when it comes to the users that already purchased the app," admitted Gessner. "I was getting screwed either way but I at least didn't want to screw my users."

Many other third-party YouTube apps on the App Store have been targeted by YouTube with takedown requests, according to the developer, who signed off by thanking ProTube's "big and passionate fanbase" and warning that dozens of fake ProTube apps have appeared on the App Store since it was removed.


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