Messages App Store Has Grown to Over 1,650 Apps, 75% of Them Stickers

The Messages App Store has grown to more than 1,650 applications and sticker packs in the nine days since iOS 10 launched to the public, according to new data gathered by Sensor Tower (via TechCrunch). Unsurprisingly, the most popular type of Messages app is the sticker pack, which accounts for 1,251 of the total apps on the storefront. The other 402 include entertainment, news, and gaming-related apps.

Although stickers remain the dominant app category in Messages, due to a handful of fun and free packs users can download, the store is largely outweighed by paid sticker packs. Specifically, there are 944 paid sticker packs on the Messages store, and just 307 free sticker packs. The pricing of the paid packs is mostly at the $0.99 price point (86 percent of the packs cost this much), but there are some that are $1.99 (12 percent), $2.99 (1 percent), and $3.99 (only 1 pack in the entire store is priced at this amount).

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Within the 402 non-sticker apps, games are the most popular experiences, with 91 gaming apps available to download in Messages. It beats the second most-popular category by over half, with Entertainment coming in second (39 apps), followed by Utilities (31 apps), Productivity (26 apps), and Social Networking (25 apps). The new Sensor Tower data does not disclose which apps are the most downloaded by users, however.

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Stickers are the easy way to visualize and explain the new features of Messages, but there are multiple useful apps in the App Store that provide streamlined ways to communicate with friends and family members. Fandango allows you to quickly pick a film and showtime to propose a movie date with someone, Square Cash can send money between you and a contact without opening the full app, and OpenTable facilitates dinner decisions through voting on restaurants and even putting down a reservation.

As the Messages App Store continues to grow, older apps are contributing updates that add in Messages functionality -- like Tinder and Fallout Shelter -- alongside all-new apps exclusively designed for Messages. Check out the MacRumors guide for finding and installing sticker packs if you're not sure how to start using the new features in Messages.

Related Roundup: iOS 10

Twitter Rolls Out Algorithm-Training 'I Don't Like This Tweet' Button on iOS

After announcing that it would move to an algorithm-based feed earlier in February, Twitter recently began rolling out a button to users on its iOS app that allows them to provide feedback for tweets on the social network (via BuzzFeed). Through the "I don't like this Tweet" button, Twitter will eventually learn to showcase less tweets related to the content you flag as poor in its algorithmic feed.

Currently available for "some iOS users," and rolling out slowly, the button can be found after tapping in the options menu on any individual tweet. Alongside options to report the tweet, block, mute, or unfollow the user, and share the tweet, you'll find "I don't like this Tweet." Tapping it will immediately hide the content from your timeline and Twitter lets you know that it “will use this to make your timeline better.”

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Image via Twitter Support
Reached for comment, a Twitter spokesperson pointed BuzzFeed News to a Twitter Help Center post that says the function “helps Twitter better understand the types of Tweets that you’d like to see less of in your Home timeline. We may use this information to optimize and tailor your experience in the future.”
Twitter began introducing its algorithmic timeline in February, putting its selected tweets in a prominent placement on the user timeline, atop the reverse chronological organization of regular Tweets that the social network has been known for before the update. Users can choose to turn the feature off, but according to Twitter only 2 percent of its user base has done so since the update debuted.

According to BuzzFeed, "a more expansive role for the algorithm has been discussed within the company," so it's likely that the new button eventually becomes part of a bigger push for its algorithmic feed in the future. Twitter for iOS can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tag: Twitter

Apple Partners With E-Commerce Site Flipkart to Sell iPhone 7 in India

Apple has partnered with e-commerce giant Flipkart to sell the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in India, where the phones are expected to launch on October 7 (via Mashable).

The online retail partnership means Flipkart will source iPhones directly from Apple instead of from third-party suppliers, which it has relied on in the past. The deal will ensure Flipkart earns a higher margin on every sale, but likely fewer discounts for customers.

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Apple has also struck a deal with Indian e-commerce company Infibeam to directly sell its iPhones, but the partnership with Flipkart includes plans to sell iPads and Macs as well.

Apple does not yet have a license to sell products directly to consumers in India, which has led to buyers going through third-party retail stores to get hold of the company's flagship phones. Traditionally, Flipkart has also used third parties to sell Apple products through its online marketplace, often with heavy discounts in order to compete with offerings from rival e-commerce giants like Amazon India and Paytm.

Despite the potential loss of some customers looking for discounted smartphones, the new partnership guarantees Flipkart a robust supply chain and better marketing support from Apple. It should also help Apple retain more control over pricing, thereby avoiding a price war in India similar to the one that took place in 2015.

Last year, Amazon India, Paytm, Flipkart, and Snapdeal offered heavily discounted iPhones to buyers, with the iPhone 6s base model, which is officially priced at Rs 63,000 ($945), being sold for as low as Rs 45,000 ($675) shortly after release.

The iPhone 7 will retail at Rs 60,000 ($900), with the base iPhone 7 Plus model costing Rs 72,000 ($1,080).

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tag: India

No New Studio Wireless Headphones Coming From Beats in 2016

Apple recently announced several updates to its Beats line of headphones, debuting new wireless Beats Solo3, PowerBeats3, and BeatsX products, all of which take advantage of the company's new W1 wireless chip for battery life improvements.

Missing from the lineup was a new version of the high-end over-ear Studio Wireless headphones, and according to CNET, no updated Studio Wireless products are planned for the near future due to an inability to improve battery life.

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The reason? Beats can't yet achieve the battery improvements needed to distinguish a Studio Wireless sequel from the current model. That's a big contrast to the major battery life gains in Beats' aforementioned updated wireless headphones, which come courtesy of Apple's new custom low-energy Bluetooth chip, the W1. The Solo3 Wireless, for example, wrings out three times the lifespan from the exact same battery found in the Solo2. But the W1 can't offer any energy savings on the active noise-canceling feature on the Studio Wireless.
The existing Studio Wireless headphones, priced at $380, offer an Adaptive Noise Canceling feature that consumes battery life. The headphones feature a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 12 hours when used over Bluetooth and 20 hours when plugged into an iOS device.

Apple's new Beats Solo3 headphones are available for $299 from Apple.com. The PowerBeats3 and the BeatsX, priced at $199 and $149, respectively, will debut this fall. Apple is also planning to introduce Apple-branded wire-free "AirPods," which will be priced at $159 and will be available in October.

ABC News Now Supports Siri's Live Tune-In Feature

apple_tv_diagonalEarlier this year, Apple introduced a new Live Tune-In feature for Siri, which allows the personal assistant to go directly to a live channel in a supported app. As of today, Live Tune-In has gained support for ABC News, letting Siri open up live news broadcasts when commanded to do so.

Live Tune-In also works with the following apps: CBS, CBS News, CNN Go, Cooking Channel, Disney Channel, Disney Jr., Disney XD, DIY, ESPN, Food Network, FXNOW, HGTC, and Travel Channel.

Live Tune-In is currently only available in the United States. It can be accessed by asking Siri to "Watch ESPN live" or "Watch ABC News live." Live Tune-In Feature is available for all customers who have a fourth-generation Apple TV. In most cases, it does require a cable subscription and authentication through a cable provider.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)

watchOS 3: How to Share Activity With Your Friends

When watchOS 3 launched alongside iOS 10, it brought a handful of feature additions and speed improvements to the Apple Watch. One of the new social features is a way for users to share their Activity Rings with friends and family through "Activity Sharing."

Mainly focused in iOS 10's Activity app, the ability to share workout data nevertheless requires an Apple Watch updated to watchOS 3, and for you to be comfortable with certain people receiving live updates on your fitness activity. When you're ready to start sharing your Activity Rings, and you've updated to both iOS 10 and watchOS 3, follow these steps:

Activity Sharing on iPhone


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  1. Open "Activity" on your iPhone.

  2. Navigate to the "Sharing" tab on the bottom right.

  3. Tap the "+" icon in the top right corner to add a friend.

  4. The app will offer suggestions from your contacts of users who may own an Apple Watch, so you can tap one of those or type in someone specific in the text box.

  5. You can include multiple invitations at one time, and once you have everyone included in the "To" box, tap "Send."

From there, simply wait for your friend to accept the invitation. Afterwards, you'll begin to see one another's Calorie, Workout, and Standing rings in the same Sharing tab you sent the invite from. Once you amass a group of friends and family members, you can also sort the data in helpful partitions depending on what you'd like to see. Simply tap "Sort" in the top left corner of the Sharing tab and choose from Name, Move, Exercise, Steps, and Workouts as the primary focus.

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Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

'Yahoo View' App Debuts With Hulu Content Amid 'Massive Data Breach' of Yahoo Services

Earlier in August, Hulu announced that the company would be moving to a subscription-only model, gradually phasing out its free tier -- which let users watch the most recent episodes of shows after they aired live on TV -- over the subsequent weeks. Thanks to a partnership with Yahoo, Hulu's free service continues in a website and, recently launched by the company, a free iOS app called "Yahoo View."

The mobile app appears to be a noticeably tampered-down experience, however. According to TechCrunch, "due to streaming rights" the app only has short clips and trailers from well-known shows, late-night comedy, sports, and news programs, but it doesn't let users watch full-length TV episodes of anything besides certain anime series. The website version does offer full episodes, but users have to wait eight days after each episode originally airs live on TV for it to appear on Yahoo View.

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Featuring Hulu content, the Yahoo View app brings you thousands of clips on-the-go and lets you be the first to see the hottest videos. Watch the latest must-see clips in comedy, late night talk shows, celebrity & entertainment, news and movie trailers. Don’t miss a single moment from your favorite TV shows like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Dancing With The Stars, The Voice, Law & Order: SVU, New Girl, Black-ish, Modern Family, Empire, Grey’s Anatomy and many more.
The website version of Yahoo View also includes a "Beyond the Episode" feature that lets users navigate GIFs, previews, clips, and spoiler discussions for the episode they just watched, all content integrated with Tumblr, which the iOS app lacks.

The launch of Yahoo View on iOS coincides with an unfortunate news story surrounding the company, which is expected to soon confirm a "massive data breach" that is threatening the exposure of 200 million user accounts. The hack, which includes user credentials dating back to 2012, could potentially cause trouble for the $4.8 billion sale of Yahoo's core business to Verizon, announced over the summer.
But there’s nothing smooth about this hack, said sources, which became known in August when an infamous cybercriminal named “Peace” said on a website that he was selling credentials of 200 million Yahoo users from 2012 on the dark web for just over $1,800. The data allegedly included user names, easily decrypted passwords, personal information like birth dates and other email addresses.
Although unconfirmed, a source speaking to Recode suggested the hack could target over 200 million user accounts, with the potential for more. “It’s as bad as that,” said one source. “Worse, really.” The company has yet to call for a wide user password reset, but sources close to the matter believe that "Yahoo might have to, although it will be a case of too little, too late."

The Yahoo View app is available to download on the iOS App Store [Direct Link] for free, and an Android version is expected to launch sometime soon.

Tags: Yahoo, Hulu

Facebook Messenger Gains iOS 10 CallKit Support in Latest Update

facebook-messenger-logoFacebook has updated its Messenger app to support Apple's CallKit framework, which was introduced earlier this month with iOS 10.

The CallKit SDK allows incoming calls from third-party VoIP apps to appear on the iOS lockscreen just like a standard cellular ID does.

Incoming Messenger calls show the caller's Messenger profile information alongside controls like mute, keypad, and a speakerphone toggle. On answering a call, users are taken to the Messenger app.

CallKit also enables Messenger users to answer calls through CarPlay, just like a FaceTime or cellular call.

The update follows similar CallKit integrations last week by the likes of WhatsApp and Viber, which have also integrated SiriKit, allowing users to ask Apple's personal assistant AI to perform app-specific actions, like sending a message to a WhatsApp contact.

Facebook Messenger is a free download for iPhone and iPad on the App Store. [Direct link]

Review: Kanex's GoPower Watch Battery Provides Six Full Apple Watch Charges in a Small Package

Although Apple remains conservative regarding the battery life of the Apple Watch, many users have noted that the wearable device makes it through one day with plenty of charge left over in its 18-hour estimated life. Still, third-party power banks and portable chargers have been popular mainstays in the Apple Watch accessory line, and recently Kanex launched its own charging device for the Apple Watch, called the GoPower Watch.

Kanex's charger is packed with a 4,000 mAh battery and a claim that, on a full charge, it can recharge the Apple Watch up to six times with an integrated inductive charger. As a bonus, the GoPower Watch also includes a USB port, letting you charge your iPhone (or any USB-powered device) simultaneously with the Apple Watch. There's also priority charging, so your devices charge first and the battery pack second.

Design


Kanex's GoPower Watch meets the form and function that any successful portable battery pack needs to be used on a daily basis. Its small 3-inch square will fit comfortably in a backpack, and the quartered LED lights -- surrounding the only button on the housing -- provide quick and easy reminders of how much juice is left in the pack.

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The slightly raised inductive charger is surrounded by a smooth Space Gray material (admittedly, a few shades darker than Apple's definition of Space Gray), that feels sturdy despite the small frame of the GoPower Watch. Interestingly, the actual inductive charger on Kanex's device is a bit larger than Apple's own inductive charger, but its added 1/4 of an inch appears negligible and doesn't affect the charging of the device.

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GoPower Watch compared with Apple's Magnetic Charger

Otherwise, the design is no-frills. The front and rear of the pack are made up of a black, plastic-type material that's a bit more fingerprint-attractive than the Space Gray of the rest of the device. On the back users will find the micro-USB port to charge up the battery pack, and the USB Type-A port for smartphone charging. Anyone opposed to large branding on their products probably won't like the prevalent Kanex logo on the front of the unit, however.

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Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Tags: Kanex, GoPower Watch
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

Apple Seeds First watchOS 3.1 and tvOS 10.0.1 Betas to Developers

Alongside the first iOS 10.1 beta and the first macOS Sierra 10.12.1 beta, Apple has seeded new betas of watchOS 3.1 and tvOS 10.0.1 to developers, just over a week after the latter two operating systems were released.

On the Apple Watch, the software update can be downloaded through the dedicated Apple Watch app on an iPhone by going to General --> Software update.

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To install the update, the Apple Watch needs to have 50 percent battery, it must be on the Apple Watch charger, and it must be in range of the iPhone. watchOS 3 also requires an iPhone running iOS 10 to install.

On the Apple TV, installing the tvOS beta requires the Apple TV to be connected to a computer with a USB-C to USB-A cable, with the software downloaded and installed via iTunes or Apple Configurator. Once a beta profile has been installed on the device through iTunes, new beta updates will be available over the air.

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It is not known what new features might be included in the watchOS 3.1 and tvOS 10.0.1 updates, but they are likely to include bug fixes for issues that have been discovered since the release of watchOS 3 and tvOS 10.

We'll update this post with any new features that are found in the two betas.

AT&T to Target Cord Cutters With Late 2016 Launch of 'DirecTV Now' Streaming Video Service

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson today confirmed that the company is planning to launch an online streaming video service, called DirecTV Now, sometime in the fourth quarter of 2016 (via CNET). Featuring "very, very aggressive price points," the service is said to include more than 100 premium channels and will come in app form on smartphones, tablets, and set-top boxes, although the specifics of the launch were kept to a minimum.

Stephenson remarked on the company's ability to introduce the service at a low price point, due to the fact that DirecTV Now won't require customer visits and installation, and "all of the ordering, customer service and billing is done digitally, reducing the need for more traditional tech support." The streaming service will also provide the option between one and two streams per household, with customers able to increase simultaneous streaming by paying a little more each month.

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Cord cutters have seen an explosion of options when it comes to streaming video, including services like Hulu, Netflix and HBO Go. But cobbling these services together is costly and complicated, which is why many consumers still stick with the easier package deal of a cable subscription.

AT&T believes it can offer something more attractive. The company plans to initially go after the 20 million households with no pay TV subscription, Stephenson said. When asked if DirecTV Now could threaten its traditional DirecTV business, Stephenson acknowledged some risk. But "that's a good sign," he said.

"If you don't see them threatening your legacy products, 99 percent of the time they don't go anywhere," he said. "It means you found something the market really wants."
Users will also be able to bundle DirecTV Now into the company's broadband and mobile services, and all of the various aspects of AT&T's offerings will work in the same ecosystem, so customers who stream DirecTV Now on their smartphone won't get hit with data overcharges.

AT&T has struck deals with Disney and HBO for its new streaming platform, but Stephenson noted that a few "holdouts" still remain, preventing DirecTV Now from a more immediate launch. Still, the CEO said the content deals process is around 90 percent done. By the time customers begin signing up for the service after its late-2016 launch, Stephenson thinks that "in 2017, this will be a big driver of video for us."

The amount of video streaming apps and services has been growing steadily over the past few years, and new companies consistently announce their presence in the space. This year, Hulu confirmed an upcoming live cable TV service, and premium channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz each have their own content specific, monthly subscription services that range between $9 and $15. Apple was even attempting to get a similar $30-$40 web-based TV package launched last year, but failed deals with networks caused the company to put its plans on hold.

Tags: AT&T, DirecTV

Pokémon Go Ends 74-Day Reign as Highest Grossing App in U.S. App Store

Pokémon Go has been bumped from the top of the United States iOS App Store's top grossing chart, seventy-four days after originally being titled the highest grossing app in the country. The game has been beaten by Clash Royale, which recently received an update "that sent players into a spending frenzy."

In new data collected by Sensor Tower, Pokémon Go's success was put into comparison with other apps that surged in popularity for a period of time. In terms of most consecutive days as number one on the App Store's top grossing chart, Pokémon Go's 74 day streak came out third, behind Clash of Clans (347 days) and Candy Crush Saga (109 days).

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Pokémon GO managed 42 more consecutive days atop the chart than the game that unseated it, Clash Royale, and more than twice as many days as the 10th game on the chart, The Simpsons: Tapped Out, which stayed at the top for 15 days. Not all of the top 10 were games; Pandora and Spotify have both spent more than two consecutive weeks at the apex of the Top Grossing ranking, at 20 and 18 days, respectively.
Due to the staggered rollout of Pokémon Go, Niantic's game is still the top grossing app in the App Store in some countries, including Australia, Great Britain, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, and Thailand. It's also still earning the top spot in revenue on the Google Play Store in the United States.

Although popularity has waned, Niantic and The Pokémon Company have kept up with consistent updates to the game, most recently introducing a "buddy" system that allows players to choose a favorite Pokémon as a buddy. The Pokémon acting as a buddy then earns candy after a certain distance is traveled, making it much easier to get candies for upgrading rare Pokémon. Players are still waiting for trading, friend battling, a new generation of Pokémon, and the now-confirmed Apple Watch app.