The Federal Trade Commission ruled this week that Apple must refund at least $32.5 million to parents whose children made in-app purchases on iOS devices without their consent. In its ruling, the agency said that Apple did not do enough to ensure purchases made by children were knowingly authorized by their parents. The FTC also highlighted a practice it did not like: allowing users to enter their passwords once for a single purchase then continue to make purchases throughout a 15-minute window.
Apple revealed this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that App Store customers spent over $10 billion in 2013, with $1 billion of that total paid out in the month of December.
"We'd like to thank our customers for making 2013 the best year ever for the App Store," said Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue.
"The line-up of apps for the holiday season was astonishing and we look forward to seeing what developers create in 2014."
Apple has responded strongly to reports that the National Security Agency claims a "100-percent success rate" in attaching spyware to iOS apps. The revelation about the NSA's targeting of Apple products comes from a recent Der Speigel report featuring leaked documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided to various journalists. The NSA program targeting Apple products is called DROPOUTJEEP, and allows the agency to intercept SMS messages, access contact lists, locate a phone using cell tower data, and even activate the device’s microphone and camera.
According to IBM's newly released "Digital Analytics Benchmark Report," purchases made from iOS devices accounted for about 23 percent of the online shopping done on Christmas Day in the U.S. The report tracked millions of transactions from approximately 800 U.S. retail websites. Around 4.6 percent of purchases were made on Android devices.
Rockstar Consortium (partly owned by Apple and Microsoft), a patent-holding company formed from the bankrupt Canadian telecom company Nortel, sued Google and manufacturers of Android phones over patents almost two months ago. Earlier this week Google punched back at the company, filing a counter-suit seeking to invalidate Rockstar's patents. That's a normal step for a defendant in a patent lawsuit, but Google didn't file its counter-claim in the East Texas court where Rockstar sued them. Instead it filed in Northern California.
Minecraft and Candy Crush Saga are the top iPhone and iPad apps of 2013, according to Apple's annual year-end report on its free and paid apps for its iOS devices.
On both the free iPhone and iPad charts, Candy Crush Saga was the king of the hill, while paid apps on both platforms were ruled by Mojang's pocket edition of Minecraft.
Both games beat out some pretty powerful competition including YouTube, Google Maps, Skype, and even Instagram.
The full list can be found below:
Top 10 Free iPhone Apps
A federal judge last week ruled that a class action cannot hold Apple responsible for apps on the iPhone and iPad that sold their users' data to advertisers. Jonathan Lalo was the lead plaintiff on a class action filed in 2010 claiming Apple had approved apps for the iPhones and iPads that intercepted personal information and tracked users' habits without authorization.
GungHo Online Entertainment's Puzzle & Dragons has surpassed two million downloads in North America, which is pretty impressive but pales in comparison to previous numbers in other regions. Puzzle & Dragons is available for free on the App Store and Google Play. To date, Puzzle & Dragons has collectively reached 23 million downloads in Japan, North America and Korea alone.
Atlanta-based indie game developer Secret Library can't seem to catch a break from Apple. It submitted its retro 8-bit iOS game Hot Mess to the App store and had it rejected because it contained animated naked people kissing. In Hot Mess players step into the shoes of a firefighting robot who goes haywire and mistakes the burning passion of romance as the flames that burns down houses. He thinks couples kissing is dangerous and therefore tries to hose them down to avoid fires...
While more people are downloading apps via Google Play for Android devices of various shapes and sizes, Apps on the Apple App Store are making more money, according to the new App Annie's third quarter 2013 report.
Apple today revealed the iPad Air, a new re-imagining of its iPad line of tablets. The new system promises to be 20 percent thinner and a slimmer outer bezel that's 43% narrower than the previous iPad model. The iPad Air will also offer 9.7-inch Retina display, the new A7 64-bit chip that debuted in the iPhone 5S, MIMO tech (Multiple-In-Multiple-Out) for Wifi, a 5MP 'iSight' camera supporting 1080p video, dual microphones for stereo sound, and up to 10 hours of battery life.
The iPad Air will start at $499 for the WiFi only model in black, grey and white.
AllThingsD is reporting that Apple will reveal a new version of the iPad at the end of this month. At an event on Oct. 29, Apple will reveal the new iPad and make some other product announcements, according to the report.
The UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is warning app and game developers that high-pressure monetization in programs that are aimed at children needs to be avoided going forward. The OFT made its announcement today after months of investigation (which began in April) into allegations that some free online apps and games for children were using questionable tactics to get children to purchase in-game items - often without parental consent. The OFT examined 38 games related to this practice and drafted a set of guidelines for UK developers.
Apple is denying that it paid publisher Electronic Arts to delay the release of the Android version of the game. The denial relates to a statement by EA executive Frank Gibeau that the iOS device-maker paid EA to delay the Android release of Plants vs Zombies 2. That statement was made in an internal company presentation by Gibeau, as reported by GiantBomb.
Apple announced that its two new iPhones - the iPhone 5C and 5S - have collectively sold more than nine million units in their first three days of availability. We're certainly not shocked by those numbers, nor is Apple CEO Tim Cook:
"This is our best iPhone launch yet," beamed Apple's Tim Cook. "More than nine million new iPhones sold is a new record for first weekend sales."
Apple also said that the new operating system for its phone and tablet devices - iOS 7 - is now being used on more than 200 million iOS devices.
In a highly competitive promotion against Apple's favorite tablet, Microsoft has decided to give consumers willing to turn in that old iPad a couple of hundred bucks in their store - presumably to spend on their Surface tablet... The promotion, which runs until October 27, allows people to trade in their "gently used" iPad 2, 3, or 4 tablets to receive a minimum of a $200 gift card to the Microsoft Store.
The Obama administration has lifted an International Trade Commission ban on older models of Apple's iOS devices (iPhones and iPads). As a general rule, presidents do not intervene in cases handled by the ITC - the last time an ITC ban was overturned was in 1987. The news was revealed over the weekend by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, who announced that he would stop both an import ban and a cease-and-desist order that would have required Apple to remove the products from shelves.
According to this Reuters report, the Taiwanese company Pegatron Corp. is being accused of forced overtime, low wages and the use of underage workers. Pegatron is one of several companies that works in Apple's supply chain for various iOS devices. So who is accusing the company of such horrendous practices?
In an interview with GamesBeat, EA's Frank Gibeau revealed a couple of interesting facts about the company. The first fact he revealed is that Apple was the company's biggest partner in the last quarter, raking in an estimated $90 million in app sales. The game that made the most money for EA on iOS devices was The Simpsons: Tapped Out. EA's sales through Apple's Store represented about 18 percent of its business.
Apple and Amazon have settled a lawsuit (Apple Inc v. Amazon.com Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, Case No. 11-01327) over who has the right to use the term "app store," as a destination to sell applications for their respective platforms. U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, on Tuesday dismissed the case at the companies' request, killing a trial that was set to begin on August 19. The settlement came about when Apple promised not to sue, and Amazon promised to ditch its counterclaim in the case.
With Apple's App Store celebrating five years in business, Apple has decided to release its list of the best selling games and apps for the iPhone and iPad. It should come as no surprise that Rovio's Angry Birds is all over these lists. The original game is the number one best-selling paid app on iPhone. In fact, various versions of the game are on the Best Selling Paid App charts for both devices and Angry Birds HD Free is #4 on the Most Popular Free Apps chart for iPad.
Other popular titles include Fruit Ninja, Cut The Rope, Words With Friends, and Temple Run.
As part of a settlement deal back in February, Apple agreed to pay settlements to parents whose children supposedly bought in-app purchases in kids' games on iOS "accidently" and without their parents' consent. Now the company has provided a means for claiming compensation. Apple has launched a dedicated website where parents can claim either a $5 iTunes Store credit or iTunes credit equal to the amount of in-app purchases made with a 45-day period.
On May 3 Apple said that it was very close to hitting 50 billion app download mark on its App store. Today the company announced that its App Store has surpassed the milestone - which they point out does not include re-downloads of apps or updates by users. While we do not know the exact data and time this milestone was met, we do know who the person was that downloaded the 5 billionth app: Ohio's Brandon Ashmore. Apple awarded him a $10,000 App Store gift card, and his app of choice - the word game Say the Same Thing by Space Inch.
An investigation examining 400 apps conducted by Develop shows that there is a lack of consistency in the way in-game purchases are presented on digital stores. The investigation follows the UK government agency the Office of Fair Trading’s recent announcement that it would investigate in-app purchases in children’s games.
This week the European Commission issued a preliminary antitrust ruling against Google’s Motorola Mobility related to its heavy handed tactics against Apple in German Courts. The finding could ultimately lead to a large fine for Motorola (and by extension Google) and could lead to Motorola being forced to enter an agreement with competitors to license its patents for a reasonable royalty rate.
Courthouse News reports that Apple's plan to settle with parents over its failure to get parental consent before minors made purchases in various apps has been approved by a federal court. Apple's settlement would provide all class members with a minimum $5 iTunes store credit (or cash payment for those who no longer have an iTunes account), according to court documents.
Apple announced today that its app store is nearing the 50 billion app download mark. Since its launch, the Apple App Store has seen almost 50 billion downloads of various apps for its iOS devices. Apple also announced that the person who downloads the 50 billionth app will receive a $10,000 App Store gift card, while $500 gift cards will be given to the individuals who download the first 50 after that milestone.