App Store shrank for first time in 2017 thanks to crackdowns on spam, clones and more

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The App Store shrank for the first time in 2017, according to a new report from Appfigures. The report found the App Store lost 5 percent of its total apps over the course of the year, dropping from 2.2 million published iOS apps in the beginning of the year to 2.1 million by year-end.

Google Play, meanwhile, grew in 2017 — it was up 30 percent to more than 3.6 million apps.

Appfigures speculated the changes had to do with a combination of factors, including stricter enforcement of Apple’s review guidelines, along with a technical change requiring app developers to update their apps to the 64-bit architecture.

Apple had also promised back in 2016 that it would clean up its iOS App Store by removing outdated, abandoned apps, including those that no longer met current guidelines or didn’t function as intended. That cleanup may have well stretched into 2017, as app store intelligence firms only started seeing the effects in late 2016. For example, there was a spike in app removals back in October 2016.

Then in 2017, Apple went after clones and spam apps on the App Store. Combined with those apps that weren’t 64-bit compatible and those that hadn’t been downloaded in years, the removals reached into the hundreds of thousands over a 12-month period. Apple later went after template-based apps, too, before dialing back its policies over concerns it was impacting small businesses’ ability to compete on the App Store.

To see the App Store shrink, given these clear-outs, isn’t necessarily surprising. However, Appfigures found that removals of existing apps weren’t the only cause. iOS developers weren’t releasing as many apps as they had during the growth years, it also claims.

Android developers launched 17 percent more apps in 2017 to reach 1.5 million total new releases. But iOS developers launched just 755,00 new apps — a 29 percent drop and the largest drop since 2008.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean developers weren’t creating as many iOS apps — it could mean that Apple’s review team has gotten tougher about how many apps it allows in. Thanks to the spam and clone app crackdown, fewer apps of questionable quality are being approved these days.

In addition, some portion of the new Android app releases during the year were iOS apps being ported to the Google Play platform. More than twice as many apps came to Android in 2017 than Android apps coming to iOS, the report said.

The full report also developed into the numbers of cross-platform apps (450,000 are on both stores), the most popular non-native tools (Cordova and Unity), the rise in native development, the countries shipping the most apps (U.S. followed by China) and the Play Store’s growth.

It can be viewed here.

 

Mobile – TechCrunch

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Facebook builds Patreon, Niche clones to lure creators with cash

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Facebook is eager to displace YouTube and Patreon in order to become the home of online content creators, so it’s testing a bunch of new ways for them to earn money and connect with fans. Facebook’s dedicated Creator app that launched in November on iOS will come to Android soon, and it’s also starting a closed beta program where social media stars can work with it to build new features. It’s already cooked up new ones like a leaderboard for each creator’s most engaged fans who earn a special badge next to their comments, as well as a version of its Rights Manager tool for removing or taking over monetization of unofficial copies of their videos.

But most interesting are the new monetization options Facebook is trying out. It will let some users sign-up for a monthly subscription patronage payment to their favorite creators in exchange for exclusive content and a fan badge just like on Patreon . This will bring Facebook into the world of in-app purchases. Fans will be able to sign up for a $ 4.99 per month subscription, with Facebook forgoing a cut during the testing period, though the App Store and Google Play will get their 30 percent cut. That means creators will get $ 3.50 per month per subscriber.

It seems that rather than letting creators set their own price points including a cheap $ 1 per month option like on Patreon where the average subscription is $ 12 and the startup takes a 5 percent cut, Facebook is aiming for simplicity of pricing at mid-tier point. However it did mention custom pricing could come later. Not adding its own rake shows how much Facebook is prioritizing getting creators onto its platform. Facebook will launch the program next month with ten creators across the U.S. and U.K.

Meanwhile, Facebook has created a tool that lets creators show off a portfolio of their content expertise and audience, and get connected to businesses to hammer out branded content and sponsorship deals. It’s effectively Facebook’s version of Niche, the creator-sponsor deal broker that Twitter acquired in 2015 for around $ 50 million. [Disclosure: My cousin Darren Lachtman co-founded Niche] Facebook isn’t taking a cut here either during the testing period.

In both cases, Facebook might add a 5, 15, 30, or 45 percent cut when the features officially launch. Facebook already takes a 45 cut of ad break revenue when creators insert ads into their videos. Facebook also has a direct, one-time $ 3 tipping feature it’s testing with game streamers.

Creators who want access to the new product and monetization tests can sign-up here. “Creators are vibrant, diverse, and wonderful at building community, bringing people from across the world together around shared passions – and that’s why Facebook is a natural home for them” says Facebook’s VP of product for video Fidji Simo.

Facebook already lets creators use ad breaks and self-brokered sponsored content deals to monetize, but the digital arts economy still doesn’t let them earn enough to survive on this long-tail audience model. Facebook is taking a hint from its work with game developers, where it found that a tiny percentage of “whales” spend most of the money that games earn. Similarly, Facebook is now trying to equip creators with ways to earn the most possible from their biggest, most passionate fans who might pay way more in a tip or monthly subscription than a creator could ever earn through ads.

Mobile – TechCrunch

Cash For Apps: Make money with android app

Quick Takes: iPhone X Clones, 5G Network Race is On, Apple Patents Dual Display Device, and More

In addition to our in-depth coverage of the latest Apple news and rumors at MacRumors, Quick Takes is a new column that provides a bite-sized recap of other Apple-related headlines on weekdays.

Asus ZenFone 5

The focus this week continues to be on Mobile World Congress, where a number of Apple’s competitors unveil new products.

Tuesday, February 27

Asus debuts iPhone X lookalike ZenFone 5: Taiwan’s Asus today unveiled the ZenFone 5, its latest Android smartphone that resembles the iPhone X. Asus isn’t shying away from the similarities, as on stage, it said the ZenFone 5’s notch is 26 percent smaller than the one on Apple’s flagship smartphone. ZenFone 5 also has a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio, versus 86 percent for the iPhone X.

Skip to around the 47:55 mark to watch the ZenFone 5 vs. iPhone X comparison

Commentary: It was only a matter of time before Android smartphones imitated the iPhone X, although not all vendors are following suit. Samsung’s new Galaxy S9, for example, still has uniform bezels, and the South Korean company has poked fun at the iPhone X’s notch on stage and in an ad last year.

Apple has added more refurbished Apple Watch Series 3 to its online store: There are currently six Wi-Fi + GPS variations to choose from, but still none with LTE. 38mm models cost $279, and 42mm models cost $309. Each watch is cleaned, inspected, repackaged in a new box with a magnetic charging cable, and protected by a one-year warranty. AppleCare+ is available. Supplies are limited.


Commentary: Apple’s certified refurbished products are virtually indistinguishable from brand new products, so if you are in the market for an Apple Watch Series 3, this is a good opportunity to save 13 to 15 percent off regular prices.

Sprint and T-Mobile have revealed their 5G rollout plans: The carriers plan to build out 5G networks by the first half of 2019, when the first 5G-capable smartphones are expected to launch. Sprint’s 5G-ready cities will include Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., while T-Mobile will first reach customers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Las Vegas.

Commentary: The race to 5G is on, but it won’t really matter until smartphones are released with support for the ultra-fast technology. A recent report claimed future iPhone models may be equipped with 5G modems from Intel, but it doesn’t appear that will happen until the second half of 2019 at the earliest.

Apple granted patent for a dual display device: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today granted Apple a patent for a dual display device. As noted by Patently Apple, the description says the bottom area could be an OLED display, which could allow for a MacBook with a large digital keyboard and trackpad.


Commentary: Apple patents lots of different inventions, many of which never see the light of day as consumer-facing products. However, it’s fun to envision a MacBook with an extended Touch Bar, or a foldable 2-in-1 device that could be used as both as a MacBook or iPad depending on its orientation.

For more Apple news and rumors coverage, visit our Front Page, Mac Blog, and iOS Blog. Also visit our forums to join in the discussion.

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MacRumors: Mac News and Rumors – All Stories

Google ‘Embracing’ Notch Design in 2018 Android Update, Preparing for New Wave of iPhone X Clones

Google’s upcoming software update for its Android smartphone operating system will “embrace” an iPhone X notch-like design, according to people familiar with the company’s plans speaking to Bloomberg.

With the software, referred to as Android P, Google is readying a “new generation” of Android smartphones that will be “mimicking” the iPhone X’s front-facing camera cutout design.

Just like iPhone X, this cutout is believed to be where Android smartphone makers will be placing cameras and other sensors to help Android phones compete with Apple devices in the high-end market.

While Google controls the Android software, many other companies manufacture Android devices and have the ability to tweak the software as they see fit. Because of this, Bloomberg pointed out that “not all Android phones will have notches.”

In total, Google’s plan for Android P — shortened from Pistachio Ice Cream — is to convince more iOS users to switch sides by “improving the look of the software.”

While Android dominates the middle and low-end of the global smartphone market, Apple controls much of the high-end with users who spend more on apps and other services. Embracing the notch may help change that. The design will mean more new Android phones with cutouts at the top of their screens to fit cameras and other sensors. That will likely support new features, helping Android device makers keep up with similar Apple technology.

[…]building notch capabilities into Android suggests Google expects the iPhone X look to catch on more broadly.

Otherwise, Android P will reportedly focus heavily on Google Assistant and improving its abilities. Tighter software integration with the AI assistant will allow developers to integrate it inside of their apps, and Google is considering adding the assistant into the search bar on the Android home screen, but “neither of these changes are finalized for introduction this year.” Android P is said to also introduce improved battery life on smartphones and support new designs, including “multiple screens and foldable displays.”

Following the launch of the iPhone X, clones of the device began appearing around the world, including in China with the LEAGOO S9 smartphone and its notch-inspired design. Many users have disliked Apple’s notch design, and Android smartphone maker Samsung played into that criticism by making fun of the notch in a Samsung Galaxy ad posted on the weekend of the iPhone X launch.


While Android P is said to be a “dramatic” overhaul amid support for notch designs on a growing number of Android smartphones, Apple’s own iOS update in 2018 is believed to be focused more on stability. In January, it was reported that Apple has chosen to delay new software features until 2019 — like a home screen refresh, Mail improvements, CarPlay updates, and more — and instead focus on addressing performance and quality issues this year.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer’s Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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5 Most Impressive iPhone Clones Straight out of China

There are iPhones, and then there are “iPhones.” A product as unique and successful as Apple’s flagship is bound to inspire mimicry and imitation. But, in some cases, its popularity attracts outright forgeries and clones.

That being said, some of the iPhone clones available today are pretty impressive. Of course, since iOS isn’t open-source like Android, these devices aren’t iPhones since they can only run Android. And, to be clear, we aren’t suggesting that you buy any of these devices — since their quality is probably lacking and their listed specifications are likely inaccurate. Use the right arrow to browse the 5 Most Impressive iPhone Clones Straight out of China.

iDrop News

The iPhone X notch clones are coming

Apple’s notched screen on the iPhone X has been a polarizing topic of discussion, but no matter where you stand on that debate, you had to know it would be copied to death by Android phone makers. The deluge of knockoff notches got started early with the Leagoo S9 last year, and today we can add the upcoming Noa N10 to the category of wannabe iPhones.

This device is such an obviously hurried ripoff that the one video the company provides to illustrate that it works also happens to show its user interface has zero accommodations for the notch. You can see the N10’s notch oversteps the Android interface’s icons, and on the top right, the clock isn’t entirely visible because of the curved corner of the screen. And if that wasn’t enough, the…

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Snag these black AirPods clones for $36 [Deals & Steals]

Do AirPods cost too much? We all love Apple’s sleek white Bluetooth earbuds, but they aren’t exactly cheap. However, we found a set of highly rated AirPods clones on sale today for just $36. And they come in black! We’ve also got some Bose noise-canceling headphones and $30 off an Apple TV in today’s edition […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

Cult of Mac

HBQ i7S ‘AirPod Clones’ Review

For the past year, Apple has been at the forefront of shaping the wireless earbud market with their AirPods, but they are also relatively expensive at $ 159.

The HBQ i7S earphones are clearly designed to be AirPod clones, and they do look strikingly similar; however they are much less expensive than AirPods. The question is, are they worth your money?

Design

The HBQ i7S, in photos, look very similar to AirPods. They feature the same earbud shape, white stems, and the chrome tips near the bottom of each earbud.

One visual difference is the inclusion of indicator lights and physical buttons on the back side of the HBQ earbuds.

When compared side-to-side with the AirPods, though, a glaring difference becomes even more apparent. The HBQ i7S earbuds are massive compared to the Apple’s AirPods. The stem is much thicker, the ear piece is bigger in almost every dimension, and the charging case is like a travel-sized stick of underarm deodorant.

Compared to the compact charging case and much more human-sized earbuds of the AirPods, the HBQ i7S earbuds look like a cartoon version of Apple’s AirPods.

Features

From a feature standpoint, the HBQ i7S earphones offer fully wireless audio playback, as well as on-ear controls.

Unlike AirPods, ‘on-ear control’ is done with a click of a button, instead of tapping on your ears. Additionally, a 2-second press of the button will skip ahead to the next track.

Unfortunately, there is no shortcut for accessing Siri, and I was unable to find a way to skip back a track, as well.

The charging case is another similarity between the AirPods and the HBQ i7S, and while their size is different, the function is very similar.

With the charging case, there are two holes in the top, one for each earbud’s stem. Unlike the AirPods case, which has precise indents for their placement, these are less strict, which can interfere when placing the cap on the case. The cap is also very challenging to get off, and often left me frustrated as I tested these.

Sound Quality

The final component worth considering is the sound quality. Apple’s AirPods are not the most remarkable speakers in existence. From a comprehensive audio perspective, they are good.

By comparison, the HBQ i7S earbuds are noticeably less crisp, have less bass, and distort at around 50% volume.

Whether I was listening to a podcast, rock music, rap, or acoustics, the quality was generally mediocre. They certainly aren’t the worst sounding Bluetooth earbuds I’ve used, but you definitely get what you pay for in this instance.

Verdict

There are a lot of great Bluetooth earbuds on the market, and the AirPods are certainly a pricy option, but if the HBQ i7S earbuds are the alternative, I’d get the real deal.

If you can get past the sound quality, the overall size of the earbuds and the charging case may still be a major turn off.

Buy the HBQ i7S earbuds here for $ 79.99

iDrop News

Keanu Reeves tries to cheat death with clones in the first trailer for Replicas

The first trailer for Keanu Reeves’ upcoming sci-fi thriller Replicas was released at the New York Comic Con panel today, where he was joined by director Jeffrey Nachmanoff and producer Stephen Hamel. In the film, Reeves plays a neuroscientist named William Foster whose wife and three kids are killed in a car crash. With the help of his best friend and fellow scientist Ed Whittle (Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch), Reeves brings them back to life by cloning their bodies and transferring their consciousness. What could possibly go wrong?

The film appears to bring up moral and ethical questions involved in bringing the dead back to life, being confronted by technology, and running a shady family cloning business out of your basement….

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