Apple’s Services Revenue Up 22% in 3Q 2017, Sets a New All-Time Quarterly Record

Revenue from Apple's Services category, which includes Apple Music, Apple Pay, AppleCare, iTunes, iCloud, and the App Store, grew an impressive 22 percent year over year according to Apple's third quarter earnings results, reaching a new all-time high.

In 3Q 2017, Services brought in $7.3 billion, up from $6 billion in the year-ago quarter.

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the company's Services category is the size of a Fortune 100 company, a milestone Apple hit "sooner than expected."

Apple often attributes much of the growth of its Services category to the App Store, and that continues to be the case this quarter. According to Apple CFO Luca Maestri, App Store revenue was up, as was Apple Music revenue and revenue from iCloud services. Apple has now reached 185 million paid subscriptions across all services, an increase of nearly 20 million over the course of the last 90 days.

iOS 11 will bring a whole new App Store experience, splitting out Games and Apps into separate tabs and introducing a new section that allows Apple to better highlight the wide variety of apps that are available in the App Store, offering up a range of editorial picks to improve app discovery.


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Apple Removed Some Risky Trading Apps From App Store in Accordance With New Guidelines

Apple and Google have recently removed over 300 binary options trading apps from the App Store and Google Play store respectively, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.


A spokesperson for Apple said it removed the apps globally in accordance with its recently updated App Store Review Guidelines:
Apps that facilitate binary options trading are not permitted on the App Store. Consider a web app instead.
MacRumors easily discovered at least five apps that still appear to facilitate binary options trading on the App Store. Apple's guidelines clearly state that binary options trading apps are no longer permitted on the App Store, so it's unclear why some remain available to download, and whether they'll soon be removed.

The trading apps encouraged users to make bets on whether instruments like shares or currencies will rise or fall, according to Bloomberg. However, many of them were unlicensed and failed to outline the risks of trading binary options, and some merely collected personal information, according to ASIC.

Many of the trading apps subject to surveillance by ASIC contained statements which appeared to be misleading about the profitability of trading and the amount of profit that could be made, the regulator said. One of the apps, for example, advertised that users could profit in as quickly as 60 seconds.

"In an age where technology can hide who is offering and controlling a product, buyer beware has never been so important," said ASIC commissioner Cathie Armour. "If something appears too good to be true, it probably is."


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New Editorial Content Begins Appearing Within App Store on iOS 11 Beta

A few testers on the iOS 11 beta have noticed that new editorial content appeared within the App Store this week, related to information about HBO NOW, Pokémon Go, and new App of the Day and Game of the Day cards. MacRumors forum member mariusignorello posted about the new content recently, pointing out other changes as well, like updated carousels on the Apps and Games tabs. Previously, the App Store on iOS 11 remained on the date of Monday, June 26 for many users without any new content added.


One of the major new additions to the App Store's Today tab on the iOS 11 beta is a How To guide for "The Best Way to Binge Game of Thrones." In the article, the editors discuss the popularity of the HBO series, and go on to list four of their favorite moments from the show so far. Each moment gets a description of where users can find it in each season and episode, as well as a spoiler-filled description of what goes down. When they're done reading, the bottom of the card links readers to the HBO NOW app on the App Store.

The second article is gaming-focused, giving App Store browsers a Gaming 101 guide on "How to Game: Pokémon Go." The article includes "tips for leveling up faster," and includes four total tips surrounding Pokémon evolution, capture mechanics, and daily streaks. Like the Game of Thrones card, the bottom of the Pokémon Go tips card links readers to the App Store page for the game, as well as a share sheet to send the story to someone via Messages, e-mail, Twitter, and more.


There's a new "Our Favorites" app collection card, which encourages readers to download a few gaming apps that are focused on playing with friends since they all have in-game chat or work as a Messages app. This story is much shorter than the previous ones, focusing more on providing readers with a straightforward list of apps following a brief description of what the collection is about.

The last pieces of new content include new App of the Day and Game of the Day cards. The App of the Day celebrates the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Comic-Con in San Diego with a digital coloring book app called Marvel: Color Your Own. The editors give a brief description of the app, as well as a promotion for using Apple Pencil to get the most out of coloring in the Marvel characters. The same setup is seen in Game of the Day, which is currently an app called Framed 2.


Apple unveiled the iOS 11 App Store redesign on June 5 during its WWDC keynote, showcasing the new look as a way to unify the App Store's design with other iOS 11 apps, and making it easier for users to browse and find new apps. During the presentation, Apple senior VP of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, said that, "We are taking everything we’ve learned from the App Store over the past nine years and putting it into a stunning new design. Every element of the new App Store is richer, more beautiful and more engaging."

Take a closer look at the redesigned App Store on iOS 11 with our hands-on preview.

Related Roundup: iOS 11
Tag: App Store

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Apple Now Lets Developers Assign a Customer Support Role to Respond to App Store Reviews

Apple today highlighted a new Customer Support role that was recently added to iTunes Connect, which developers can take advantage of if they would like to hire someone specifically to respond to customer reviews in the App Store.
Now you can give the customer support experts in your organization the ability to respond to customer reviews on the App Store with the new Customer Support role in iTunes Connect. Users with the Admin or Customer Support role have the ability to respond to customer reviews.

Your team's admins may choose to assign only this role to users, or assign this role in combination with other roles. Users who have been assigned only the Customer Support role can access Resources and Help, Users and Roles, and My apps in iTunes Connect. When they click on an app in My Apps, they'll go straight to Ratings and Reviews where they can respond to customer reviews.
Apple began allowing developers to respond to customer reviews with iOS 10.3 and macOS Sierra 10.12.4, a feature developers had long requested. The ability to respond to customer reviews allows developers to address negative reviews and offer better service to App Store users.

Prior to iOS 10.3 and macOS Sierra 10.12.4, developers had no way to respond to issues that customers reported via an app review, so there was no way to mitigate a negative review or further converse with a customer having difficulties.


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Apple’s Autoscanning iTunes Card Promo Codes Work via Hidden Font, Can be Replicated by Devs

When you purchase an iTunes gift card and redeem it in the App Store, the camera on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac can scan the code on the card to recognize it automatically, saving you the time of typing the numbers in manually.

Equinux, the company behind Mail Designer Pro 3, dug into how Apple's promo code engine works in an effort to make their own scannable cards, and the results are quite interesting. As it turns out, the scanning feature in the App Store is tuned to recognize two things: a unique, hidden font and the dimensions of the box around it.


Equinux tried the box alone with a range of fonts like Courier and Monaco, and attempted to identify the unique characteristics of the font to find it, but were unsuccessful. Ultimately, the team realized the font that Apple's using is hidden deep within iTunes.
The breakthrough came when we noticed that when you scan a card with your iPhone, the app briefly displays a "scanned" overlay of the code. This means the font must be embedded in the app somewhere. We tried the same with iTunes on macOS. And voilà - the iTunes on Mac behaves the same way.

When you look at some of the other folders inside iTunes, we found a tantalizing plugin called "CodeRedeemer." It showed promise. But alas, no font files there either. The app binary does give a hint of where the heavy lifting is being done: "CoreRecognition.framework."
Hidden in the CoreRecognition.framework, there are two fonts: "Scancardium," for entering and recognizing codes, and "Spendcardium," which appears to be for obscuring credit card details as they're entered. The two fonts can be found by going to Finder on a Mac, clicking Go, choosing Go to Folder and pasting the following: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/CoreRecognition.framework/Resources/Fonts/

With a simple double click, the fonts can be installed on a Mac and can be used within different apps. While this is a neat breakdown for end users, it's of particular interest to developers because these fonts can be used to create custom App Store promo code cards that can be scanned in the same way as iTunes gift cards.


Equinux outlines the exact font height to use and how to position it within the surrounding box to get Apple's engine to recognize it, details the company uncovered after investing a lot of time in tweaking fonts and the border of the required box.

Equinux even went one step further and created helpful Sketch and Photoshop templates that developers can use to create App Store promo code cards that can be automatically scanned using a device camera and recognized by the App Store.


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Apple Adds PayPal as Payment Option for iTunes, App Store, and Apple Music

From today, PayPal customers in the U.K., Australia, Canada, Mexico, and the Netherlands can use their PayPal account to pay for App Store, Apple Music, iTunes, and iBooks purchases made on their Apple devices. PayPal said on Wednesday the option would be rolling out to other countries including the U.S. soon after.

Previously, Apple users were only able to pay for transactions using a registered bank card or gift card. The new option means it's now possible to make purchases across iPhone, iPad, and iPad touch and Mac using a PayPal account. To select PayPal in the payment method options on iOS, go to Settings -> iTunes & App Stores and tap on your Apple ID, then select payment information. The same options can be found in iTunes on Mac or PC via the Account Quick Link.

Once users have updated their account settings for the above services, all future purchases made with the customer's Apple ID will be automatically charged to their PayPal account. This includes purchases of apps, music, movies, TV shows, and books, as well as Apple Music subscriptions and iCloud storage.

The new payment option brings PayPal's One Touch service to Apple accounts for the first time, meaning users can purchase from all Apple devices including Apple TV and Apple Watch, since they don't have to sign in every time they want to make a transaction. PayPal said the system provides a "secure and versatile payment method to meet the growing demand for digital entertainment."

(Thanks, Rick!)


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‘Sega Forever’ Plans to Debut Free Classic Sega Games on iOS Each Month

Sega today announced a new mobile gaming initiative that will see a vast collection of the company's classic games launch monthly on iOS and Android devices for free, although in-app purchases will be available so users can get rid of ads. Called "Sega Forever," the program will let iOS gamers play "nearly every Sega game ever," from all of Sega's previous console generations, including Master System, Genesis/Mega Drive, Game Gear, Dreamcast, and Saturn (via GamesIndustry.biz).

The games will be available as individual apps, with the first five appearing at launch including Sonic The Hedgehog [Direct Link], Comix Zone [Direct Link], Phantasy Star II [Direct Link], Kid Chameleon [Direct Link], and Altered Beast [Direct Link]. At the time of writing, none of the apps had yet to appear on the iOS App Store, but their launch should be imminent. After that, Sega plans to debut between two and three games from its classic library every month under the Sega Forever initiative.


All of the games will be supported by advertisements with an optional $1.99 in-app purchase to remove them. But Sega Network chief marketing officer Mike Evans promised that the integration of ads has been executed so as to not interrupt gameplay.
With the back catalogue Sega has available, the publisher is confident it will be able to continue bringing more classics to mobile for years to come. There are 15 classic Sega titles already available through the App Store that will also be brought into the Forever fold.

"It's a very easy conversion to take those games to free," Sega Network's chief marketing officer Mike Evans tells GamesIndustry.biz. "We're just bolting in the advertising support model and a single in-app purchase that can disable those ads."

"The games were never designed for ads or in-app purchases, which is why we've maintained this faithful emulation experience," he says. "We've spent a lot of time looking at the analytics from the soft launch in the Philippines to understand how we can get this model to be the best for the game experience itself whilst balancing the commercial needs we have."
Enhancements to Sega's old games include Messages sticker packs, leaderboards, achievements, cloud saves, touch screen controls, Bluetooth controller support, and an offline play option. Looking toward the future, Evans said that the company will hold user polls to gauge which classic games that its fans want to see most come to mobile.


The first five Sega Forever titles should begin populating on the iOS App Store soon. Users can go to Sega's website to sign up for email alerts that will notify them when new games are announced for the collection. For even more information about the new mobile initiative from Sega, check out Mike Evans' interview with GamesIndustry.biz.

Tags: App Store, SEGA

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Ubisoft Announces New Free-to-Play RPG ‘South Park: Phone Destroyer’ Coming to iOS in 2017

During Ubisoft's E3 press conference this week, the company announced an all-new South Park game that's coming to iOS and Google Play sometime later in 2017, called South Park: Phone Destroyer (via TouchArcade). Developed by Ubisoft studio RedLynx in collaboration with South Park Digital Studios, the new app combines the real-time combat of the new series of console South Park games with trading card collecting and multiplayer battles.


Players will become the New Kid in South Park and assume a variety of roles, including cowboy, pirate, cyborg, angel, and more throughout a new single-player campaign. Although not many details have been shared yet, Ubisoft said that card collecting will impact combat, and eventually becomes the strategic key to competing and winning in the real-time multiplayer mode, which includes a ranking system.
In South Park: Phone Destroyer™, players once again assume the role of the New Kid and team up with South Park characters to play a new game with cowboys, pirates, cyborgs and even almighty gods. Take your gang on a new single-player adventure featuring an original story. Full of fun, explosive battles and irreverent humor, players build and upgrade an all-powerful team to master the true strength of the cards they acquire.

Upgrading and learning to use cards strategically is key to competing at the next level: the real-time Multiplayer mode. Player versus Player combat challenges players’ skill and knowledge needed to defeat opponents in order to rise up the global multiplayer ranks.
Ubisoft also noted that South Park: Phone Destroyer will stay true to the TV show with all of the humor, jokes, characters, and animation that fans expect. Show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone will also provide the mobile game with authentic audio and voice work of all the classic South Park characters. The developer also confirmed that the game will be free to play.


South Park: Phone Destroyer is set to launch worldwide on the iOS App Store and on the Android Google Play store later this year.


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Report Reveals In-App Purchase Scams in the App Store

An investigation into App Store developer pay-outs has uncovered a scamming trend in which apps advertising fake services are making thousands of dollars a month from in-app purchases.

In a Medium article titled How to Make $80,000 Per Month on the Apple App Store, Johnny Lin describes how he discovered the trend, which works by manipulating search ads to promote dubious apps in the App Store and then preys on unsuspecting users via the in-app purchase mechanism.

I scrolled down the list in the Productivity category and saw apps from well-known companies like Dropbox, Evernote, and Microsoft. That was to be expected. But what's this? The #10 Top Grossing Productivity app (as of June 7th, 2017) was an app called "Mobile protection :Clean & Security VPN".

Given the terrible title of this app (inconsistent capitalization, misplaced colon, and grammatically nonsensical "Clean & Security VPN?"), I was sure this was a bug in the rankings algorithm. So I check Sensor Tower for an estimate of the app's revenue, which showed… $80,000 per month?? That couldn't possibly be right. Now I was really curious.
To learn how this could be, Lin installed and ran the app, and was soon prompted to start a "free trial" for an "anti-virus scanner" (iOS does not need anti-virus software thanks to Apple's sandboxing rules for individual apps). Tapping on the trial offer then threw up a Touch ID authentication prompt containing the text "You will pay $99.99 for a 7-day subscription starting Jun 9, 2017".


Lin was one touch away from paying $400 a month for a non-existent service offered by a scammer.
It suddenly made a lot of sense how this app generates $80,000 a month. At $400/month per subscriber, it only needs to scam 200 people to make $80,000/month, or $960,000 a year. Of that amount, Apple takes 30%, or $288,000 — from just this one app.
Lin went on to explain how dishonorable developers are able to take advantage of Apple's App Store search ads product because there's no filtering or approval process involved. Not only that, ads look almost indistinguishable from real results in the store, while some ads take up the entire search result's first page.

Lin dug deeper and found several other similar apps making money off the same scam, suggesting a wider disturbing trend, with scam apps regularly showing up in the App Store's top grossing lists.

It's unclear at this point how these apps managed to make it onto the App Store in the first place given Apple's usually stringent approval process, or whether changes to the search ads system in iOS 11 will prevent this immoral practice from occurring. We'll be sure to update this article if we hear more from Apple.

In the meantime, users should report scam apps when they see them and inform less savvy friends of this scamming trend until something is done to eradicated it.


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iOS 11 Requires Developers to Use Apple’s New In-App Ratings API, Lets Users Turn Them Off Completely

Earlier this year, Apple announced a few App Store review policy changes, which included the reveal of an official API for in-app review and rating requests that developers had the option to put in their apps beginning with iOS 10.3 and macOS Sierra 10.12.4. Additionally, Apple limited how often app developers can push out such prompts to just three times each year.

Today, 9to5Mac spotted a new section in the App Store Review Guidelines, pointing towards the launch of the new policy changes coming to iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra this fall. Specifically, in section 1.1.7 of the App Store Review guidelines, Apple states that it will "disallow custom review prompts" in all apps on the App Store.

Image via 9to5Mac

The update also allows developers to respond to customer reviews for the first time.
1.1.7 App Store Reviews:
- App Store customer reviews can be an integral part of the app experience, so you should treat customers with respect when responding to their comments. Keep your responses targeted to the user’s comments and do not include personal information, spam, or marketing in your response.
- Use the provided API to prompt users to review your app; this functionality allows customers to provide an App Store rating and review without the inconvenience of leaving your app, and we will disallow custom review prompts.
The new user interface includes the App Store's traditional 5-star rating system in a pop-up box, allowing users to enter their opinion of the app without needing to leave it and visit the App Store to submit a review, as was previously the case. In addition to Apple limiting these pop-up boxes to only appear three times per year, if a user actually submits a review for the app, the developer can never request an in-app pop-up review from that user again.

The new App Store in iOS 11

Adding to the strain on in-app review prompts, users can now also turn off these requests completely with a new "In-App Ratings & Reviews" toggle found in the iTunes and App Store section of Settings on iOS 11.

When the updates take full effect, it means that developers won't be able to ask a user for another review of an app after the same user submits a rating using Apple's in-app prompt, even if the app has recently received a huge update. On the plus side, star ratings can now carry over across updates -- if the developer chooses -- so that the App Store rating system is a true overall aggregate of an app and not just user opinions on the app's current iteration.

Related Roundup: iOS 11
Tag: App Store

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