Just a couple weeks before its widely-criticized new subscription policies were due to take effect in the App Store, Apple has retreated and made the policy much more palatable for publishers like Amazon and many others.
Apple has quietly changed its guidelines on the pricing of In-App Subscriptions on the App Store. There are no longer any requirements that a subscription be the "same price or less than it is offered outside the app". There are no longer any guidelines about price at all. Apple also removed the requirement that external subscriptions must be also offered as an in-app purchase.
This news comes in the same week that we learned that one big publisher – The Financial Times – had opted out of the App Store route and gone with a new web app.
It’s very good to see Apple backing off on this issue. The iPad is an amazing device for a number of reasons, but having great content created for it and published on it is certainly one of them. Driving publishers away with overly aggressive and seemingly excessively greedy policies never seemed a good idea.
Now that iOS has been out for a few days, a few 3rd party apps have been updated to support it. And the App Store now has a special section to showcase those apps that have done so. The section is called ‘Great AirPlay-Enabled Apps’ and you can find it in the Featured tab of the App Store, just above the Staff Favorites area.
The list is not very long or very impressive just now. It’s good to see iMovie in here but it’s one of Apple’s own apps of course. The only 3rd party app that caught my eye is ESPN The Magazine. I gave it a quick go and it works fine.
Your Apple TV will need an update too, in order to enable this new AirPlay support for 3rd party apps. I hadn’t updated mine in a while and it refused to play videos from the ESPN app when I first tried; then it prompted that an update was available. Once that was applied, videos from ESPN The Magazine played nicely on my big screen.
Have you tried out any of these AirPlay-enabled apps yet?
From a report at Apple Insider yesterday:
Apple has reportedly had "strong words" with publisher Capcom about in-app purchases in the free iPhone and iPad children’s game "Smurfs’ Village," and is said to be considering adjusting iTunes account login times after receiving complaints from parents.
Citing a "well placed source," PocketGamer.biz reported Wednesday that Apple has taken notice of "accidental" in-app purchases of Capcom’s "Smurfs’ Village." As of Wednesday, the free application, last updated Feb. 4, ranked third among the "Top Grossing" applications on the iPhone App Store.
"Apple has told Capcom in no uncertain terms that its freemium children’s game has been causing problems with an increasingly significant number of parents who have complained that their children have been racking up large amounts of in-app purchases without their knowledge," the report said.
I’m not at all surprised that this sort of issue is making waves in the App Store. In-App purchases – especially in games such as this one aimed at young kids – have always seemed like trouble waiting to happen. I’ve also seen this problem first-hand, as my wife and I initially tried the honor system with our daughter (she’s only 7.5 years old) in her usage of an iPod Touch and an iPad she shares with her mom. We set out some clear guidelines for her – that included making In-App purchases forbidden – but we still had a couple of slipups. Slipups that lead to silly amounts of money being spent on ‘mojo’ and the like in games that make it easy to buy your way up through their levels.
The guys at 2D Boy, the developers of the multi-platform hit game World of Goo, have posted an article on their blog detailing their experiences leading up to, during, and after the release of the game for the iPad. This article is a really informative look at the dynamics of the App Store, complete with breakdowns of customer feedback and expectations for apps on the platform, sales figures, price point, rankings, profits, and publicity. If you have ever wanted an inside look at the inner-workings of the iOS App Store, and what a developer goes through and has to consider from development, to release, to post-mortem, then you should definitely take a look.
The iPad lends itself very nicely to apps that feel like they would make make great coffee table books. And now the App Store has a featured section for just such apps.
Some of Apple’s picks for the new section are not ones that I would’ve chosen, but others are definitely on my list of favorites for apps of this type as well. Here’s a quick top-of-the-head list of some of my favorite iPad coffee table apps (I’ll make this into a separate post sometime soon):
- Art Authority
- Life Wonders of the World
- Guardian Eyewitness
- Ansel Adams
- Ultimate Dinopedia
I haven’t spotted it yet on the iPad itself but in iTunes on the desktop you’ll find this new section just below the What’s Hot section.
The iPad App Store just got a bit smarter. It now offers five search filters you can use when you’re trying to track down an app. The filters are:
- Release Date
- Customer Rating
Under Release Date you can choose All, Last 7 Days, Last 14 Days, or Last 31 Days. On Customer Ratings you can see All, or 2+ Stars, 3+ Stars, 4+ Stars, or 5 Stars. For Price you can look at All, Free, or Paid. And on Device, you can see iPad, iPhone, or All.
So if you only want to see 3+ star rated apps released over the last week, for iPad only, with a few taps you’re all set.
You don’t need to update or do anything to see the new search filters. They’ve been added at Apple’s end and are ready, willing, and able to get working for you in the iPad App Store now.
If you have a Wii like I do, or if you are a frequent purveyor of PC puzzle games, you might already be familiar with 2D Boy’s underdog hit World of Goo. If so, you are probably aware of all the accolades that it has racked up over the three years since its original release on the Wii.
MacStories highlighted some current headline numbers for numbers of apps in the App Store yesterday:
Looking at the “All-Time Top iPhone Apps” charts Apple updated earlier today, I noticed two interesting numbers worth to be shared: Apple is listing the actual number of free and paid iPhone apps available in the App Store. There are 306,554 iPhone apps available, and 201,635 of them are paid apps. These numbers are noteworthy as Apple rarely provides official stats of the iPhone App Store: they announced the 300,000 apps milestone on November 22 with the release of iOS 4.2 but there never was an easy way to instantly check on the exact number of apps available in the Store.
Their post also mentions that there are just under 60,000 ‘native’ iPad apps in the store. I’m assuming that number includes universal apps, design for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. According to MacStories’ numbers, iPad apps are on track to hit 100,000 just a little quicker than iPhone apps did (in 14 months rather than 15).
Flipboard – the excellent social news app for the iPad – is the current App of the Week in the App Store. It presents news in a magazine-like style and lets you customize the sources you pull from and have your Twitter and Facebook streams included as content sources. Here’s a little more from its App Store description:
Flipboard is a fast, beautiful way to flip through the news, photos and updates your friends are sharing on Facebook and Twitter. See your social media in a magazine layout that is easy to scan and fun to read. Share articles and photos, comment on posts, and like or favorite anything. Customize your Flipboard with sections created from your favorite people, lists and blogs on Twitter.
I’ve been using the app since it launched and like it a lot, it’s an everyday read for me.
You can find Flipboard in the App Store now, and it’s a free app.
The App Store for the iPad and the iPhone has added several new featured sections, to aid in app discovery. I’m not sure exactly how new these are, but I’ve only just noticed them today – and I think they’re a very nice addition for the App Store.
The new sections include Newsstand, shown above, which showcases some of the leading newspaper, magazine, RSS reader and general news apps available for the iPad and iPhone. It’s a great section if you’re a news and reading apps junkie like I am.
There are quite a few other helpful new sections as well – hit the break for some more examples …