News/Rumors

European iTunes App Store to see tax changes Jan 1st 2015

Apple has sent an email to iOS developers  reminding them of an upcoming value-added tax rate policy changes, that are calculated for App Store purchases in the European Union. 

Starting January 1, 2015, the company will charge the value-added tax, or VAT, rate based on the country which they are from rather than calculating a flat VAT rate for all countries in the European Union. That means, that residents of the countries, where value-added taxes are higher than users are currently being charged, could actually see their app prices go up.

According to the email, Apple says:

“On January 1, 2014, value-added tax (VAT) rates for apps will change for all territories in the European Union. VAT will be based on the customer’s country of residence instead of being the same across all EU territories.”

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Apple’s tax practices recently came under fire from government authorities.

There is no information on whether Apple plans to apply the new tax rule to all iTunes purchases, including music, movies and e-books. It is also unclear how huge of an impact this will have on customers.

Games, News/Rumors

Brothers in Arms 3: Sons of War invades iOS

After announcement back in June, Gameloft has finally released its  Brothers in Arms 3: Sons of War for both iOS and Android.  The game is currently available as a free download for the iPhone and iPad.

The title combines free movement and cover gameplay that is expected to add a fun gaming experience. Sons of War will bring a traditional single player campaign that will come with different mission types: Assault, Siege, Sniper and stealth. There are eight chapters of missions to progress through. They aren’t too long, but still intense.

Sons of War allows you to move between covers to protect yourself from enemy fire and create strategies for attack and use the D-pad to freely advance to strategic locations or attack head-on.

There are twelve brothers in your team, but you’ll have to strategically select a certain brother for a certain mission. For example, a sniper will be better for the stealth missions but maybe not so good for an Assault mission. Moreover, each character has his own unique skills and four stats to upgrade.

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Gameloft provided eighteen historical weapons split into four traditional weapon classes: rifle, SMG, assault and sniper weapon classes. Each arsenal has four upgradeable stats to boost its power and capabilities. 

Brothers in Arms 3: Sons of War has cross-platform leaderboards so iOs and Android users can fight together on the event leaderboards.

Check the full list of the game’s key features below:

Experience unique squad-based combat

  • Use your brothers to gain a tactical advantage.
  • Employ their diverse abilities: Air Strike, Molotov, Rocket Blast, Mortar Fire and many more.
  • Unlock new allies. Upgrade them into seasoned soldiers: damage output, ability cooldown, HP pool, AoE ability damage and more.

Dive into exhilarating action gameplay

  • Smooth cover-based 3rd-person action with free movement.
  • Various types of missions such as Assault, Sniper, Siege and Stealth.
  • Impressive killcam zooms.

Pick your favorite weapon

  • Unlock new weapons and turn them into the ultimate arsenal with fire rate, recoil, reload speed or clip-size upgrades.
  • Discover the game-changing power of experimental weapons.
  • Wreak havoc with their cool abilities: Triple or Infinite Bullets, Electric Discharges and more.

Enjoy eye-catching visual effects

  • Stunning indoor and outdoor settings.
  • Weather and time-of-day variations.
  • Console-like graphics for a AAA gaming experience.

Win awesome rewards in special events

  • Ladder challenge: missions gradually increase in difficulty for better prizes.
  • Limited-time events with exclusive drops.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMo4UDdGUSo

Brothers in Arms 3: Sons of War is available as a free download in the App Store.

News/Rumors

Apple took down Russian online store due to ‘extreme’ currency fluctuations

Apple has taken down its online store in Russia due to “extreme” fluctuations in the value of the ruble. 

According to the company’s spokesman Alan Hely, Apple had decided to shutter the store while it “reviews pricing,” and it “apologizes to customers for any inconvenience.”

The Russian economy has face several problems for months, but the situation have gotten significantly worse in recent days due in large part to the falling price of oil and economic sanctions. The ruble has experienced a dramatic 19 percent decline on Tuesday, after the central bank raised interest rates by 6.5 percentage points in the middle of the night.

Apple has previously tried to deal with the ruble’s fluctuations last month by increasing the price of the iPhone 6 by 25% in the whole country.

Apple’s Russian online store is currently unavailable, with the company’s usual offline message left on the site. “We’ll be back,” the site says. “We’re busy updating the Apple Store for you and will be back soon.”

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Russia, one of the top 5 largest cellphone-using countries in the world, received its own Apple Online Store in June of last year.

There is no news on when Apple will restore online sales and how much it will increase its prices.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Google Drive for iOS now lets users upload files from other apps

Google released an update to its Google Drive app with support for iOS 8 extensibility, which allows users to upload files to the cloud from outside sources. Users were previously required to open the cloud storage app and upload from there. 

However, the ability to upload information from other apps into Drive is available only to iOS 8 users.

Additionally, the updated version gives users access to custom made maps through Google’s My Maps feature, however, the Google My Maps integration is limited to viewing and sharing the custom maps currently. The app previously supported uploading files only from the iOS Camera roll. The updated version now allows to upload files from other apps on both the iPhone and iPad. To do it, just fire up Google Drive on your iOS device and tap the plus sign in the upper right corner. Then select the new ‘Upload Files’ function which provides a menu populated with the installed storage providers.

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Google My Maps is known as a custom map creation tool that sports layers, directions, points of interest, line drawing and others. Drive allows users to make new My Maps in-app or access previously saved maps saved to the cloud.

Finally, the latest Google Drive comes with the usual unnamed bug fixes and performance improvements.

Google Drive for iOS is available as a free 49.8MB download from the iOS App Store.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Google App for iOS updated with Nest Integration

In addition to the last week’s redesign, the Google app for iOS has gained another update that adds Nest integration.

The updated version allows users to interact with their Nest smart thermostat, along with other Nest-branded devices for the connected home, using Google Now voice commands.

Google has updated its Works with Nest page with explanations on how Google Now integration works with Nest and also added a list of voice commands for controlling the smart thermostat through a browser, smartphone or tablet. For example, users can set the temperature by saying commands like “Change the temperature to 68” by using the special Google app on iOS or Android, or via the microphone or search box on Chrome.

On your mobile device, open the Google app and either tap the mic or say “Ok Google” to get started. Then say, “turn the temperature to 70 degrees”. In Chrome, either tap the mic or type directly in the search box to set the temperature.”

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The Google app will also bring up Now card notifications based on location to help users adjust temperature even if they’re away from home. For example, one of the Now cards says that “Nest is getting ready for your arrival” by pre-heating or cooling to your preferred temperature when you arrive. 

Google for iOS is available for download from the App Store for free.

News/Rumors

Apple releases new emotional holiday ad ‘The Song’

As a part of its ‘From one gift come many’ campaign, Apple has released a new commercial called ‘The Song’.

The add shows a girl who stumbles upon an old record, which a gift from her grandmother to her grandfather from 1952. To record herself, the girl uses her MacBook Air and GarageBand and then, the commercial shows her using an iPhone and an iPad over some time to perfect the holiday gift.

The girl then leaves an iPad mini with a note saying “A Duet, Press Play” for her grandmother, who listens to the duet between herself and her granddaughter, bringing her to tears as she looks through the old photographs left along with the iPad by the girl. The record is a kind of message about not being able to be together for the holidays and then a rendition of “Love Is Here to Stay”.

“With a Mac, iPhone or iPad you have the power to create thoughtful, emotional gifts and memories that transcend time,” the ad’s description says. “It could be a movie, a homemade card or a song that brings two generations closer together.”

Apple is well-known for its commercials around the holidays. Last year’s creation, titled “Misunderstood,” showed a boy staring at his iPhone during a family gathering, only to which make a home movie for his family. The 2013 ad won a Creative Arts Emmy for “Outstanding Commercial.”

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

‘Space Qube’ goes free as iTunes’s App of the Week

Apple has named the retro-futuristic 3D shooter ‘Space Qube‘ its App of the Week for this week. 

That means, that the blocky shoot-em-up game, which is regularly available for $2.99, can now be downloaded for free on all iOS devices. It is the second time players have received the title as a free download since its debut in late 2013.

In Space Qube, players are tasked to help the main character in his mission to save the universe. They can create their own custom spaceship, and then blast their way through stages full of dangerous creatures. You can also share your vehicles online with other players, and download their creations to play with. There is also an option for sending your craft to a 3D printer, so you can play with the ship in person.

At the end of each level, you’ll battle against four various types of bosses. Defeat the boss, and you’ll unlock the next stage. As you progress, the levels get more and more difficult, and the bosses become a little stronger.

There is a variety of power-ups on the stages, so you can collect them and use temporarily. For example, you’ll find a heavy duty laser, a bullet-time power-up, a booster and more. 

You’ll face a large number of enemies, most of which leave behind orange blocks called qubes. Qubes are the currency of this game and can be used to power-up your ships or to build your own ships in the editor.

The game is done in a blocked out and cubed aesthetic with a lot of details and wonderful design.

The music and sound effects also do it well with the gameplay, offering strong melodic chiptunes and 8-bit sound effects.

At any rate, Space Qube is worth joining your game collection while it’s free. You can find it in the App Store.

News/Rumors

PayPal payments available on Apple Online Store

Apple on Thursday updated its online store to add PayPal as a payment method in both the United States and United Kingdom.

PayPal was previously available as a payment option in iTunes and the App Store, but now all the products purchased via Apple.com can be paid via PayPal.

The new option was first spotted by Re/Code, who noticed, that Apple.com shoppers in the U.S. and the U.K. were given a new way to pay for the latest iPhone or iPad. Apple is also offering the PayPal Credit payment method, which means shoppers can pay for a product in equal monthly installments over up to 18 months with no interest.

Payments with PayPal can be made as of today from the online Apple Store by selecting the PayPal function when checking out. PayPal is not yet included as a payment option in the Apple Store app, and there is no information if it will be added in the future. 

Apple Online StoreApple has previously never allowed the payments service access to its lucrative hardware storefront until today. The iPhone maker even announced direct PayPal competitor Apple Pay in September.

 

PayPal also attacked Apple during the iCloud hacking that saw several celebrity accounts breached. The both companies were initially in talks to cooperate for Apple Pay.

Apple Pay offers iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners an ability to make secure touchless transactions at several stores across the country.

News/Rumors

United Airlines to provide flight attendants with iPhone 6 Plus

United Airlines on Wednesday announced that more than 23,000 flight attendants will soon be given the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus to handle onboard transactions and access company email and other internal information.

The airline stated, that the company will be rolling out Apple’s device to its flight attendants starting next year during the second quarter, allowing them to do onboard retail transactions, access the airline’s website and internal network, plus policies and procedures manuals. 

“We are thrilled to make this investment in our flight attendants,” said Sam Risoli, United’s senior vice president of inflight services. “iPhone 6 Plus will enable them to deliver an even higher level of flyer-friendly service and will offer our flight attendants simple, one-touch access to valuable work information, enabling them to better serve our customers.”

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United Airlines intends to expand the functions of its iPhone 6 Plus deployment in the future, including replacing flight attendants’ printed safety manual with an electronic version, as well as sending real-time reporting and enhanced follow-up on aircraft cabin issues and repairs. The company shared that it has renewed its iPad pilot program using the iPad Air 2 which it calls “a move toward creating paperless aircraft and flight decks” and is planning to create a few customer-focused tools for the product.

While United Airlines is planning to distribute the iPhone 6 Plus to its flight attendants, Apple has released two apps targeted toward the travel industry called Plan Flight and Passenger+.

Apple TV, Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Apple TV updated with YouTube app and new channels

Apple has released a major update to its $99 set-top box, Apple TV, adding several new apps.

Probably the most significant addition is a brand new YouTube app, aimed to bring the users up-to-date with some of the other platforms. The new app has design similar to other set-top box clients, offering easier access to subscriptions and search options. For reasons of safety, the YouTube app now uses OAuth to login rather than naive password entry. Another feature of YouTube is advertisements, which play before allowing you to watch certain videos. Paid content is now also available on the Apple TV with the new YouTube app. That means that you can access YouTube Music Key, movies and TV shows, live events and paid channels.

According to the team, the app “unlocks content that was previously unavailable on the older version of the app and makes it easier to find what’s popular on YouTube.”

Your purchased films and TV shows and live events can be watched after signing into the YouTube app under the My YouTube tab.

In addition to the updated YouTube appearance with enhanced functionality, a number of new apps have joined the Apple TV, including the Scene, Fusion, Dailymotion, and UFC.TV.

The Scene by Condé Nast Entertainment gives access to curated short-form video content from brand including ABC News, Forbes, Epicurious, and GQ. The Scene debuted in July 2014.

Fusion is a digital news network distributed through Verizon FiOS, Cablevision, Charter, Cox and Google Fiber. The app allows to view on-demand content, news and original programming.

Dailymotion, known as a video-sharing website, gives access to the content from its web properties to the Apple TV, including content from gaming network IGN.

Finally, UFC.TV, an Ultimate Fighting Championship, offers viewers plenty of content, including Pay-Per-Views and video from UFC Fight Pass.

The four channels, plus the YouTube update will appear automatically on your Apple TV.