All posts in “Apps And Software”

Apple is already being sued over one of the iPhone X’s features

Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, announces features of the new iPhone X at the Steve Jobs Theater on the new Apple campus in Cupertino, California on Sep. 12, 2017.
Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, announces features of the new iPhone X at the Steve Jobs Theater on the new Apple campus in Cupertino, California on Sep. 12, 2017.

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

The iPhone X isn’t even out yet and Apple is already being sued over one of its biggest features.

A developer is suing Apple for copyright infringement, alleging that Apple stole the “Animoji” name from the developer’s app of the same name.

“This is a textbook case of willful, deliberate trademark infringement,” reads the complaint, which was flied in federal court in San Francisco Wednesday.

The Animoji app, which has been in the App Store since 2014, allows people to send animated texts to friends via iMessage and other messaging apps. In the suit, Emonster kk, the Japanese company behind the app, alleges that Apple was fully aware of its app and the name, which is trademarked.

Apple declined to comment, but the lawsuit describes a pretty aggressive fight over the trademark.

Emonster kk says Apple began trying to buy its trademark in the summer of 2017. That’s when, according to the suit, Animoji’s creator Enrique Bonansea was approached by a series of companies with names like “The Emoji Law Group” who tried to buy the trademark and “threatened to file a cancellation proceeding if Bonansea did not sell the mark.”

Bonansea believes that Apple was really behind these groups. A day before Apple’s iPhone X event, one of these groups filed a cancellation request with the U.S. Patent Office.

Interestingly, Apple’s use of the “Animoji” name may have ended up helping the app — at least in the short term. The app, which has only seen about 10,000 downloads overall, saw a sizable bump in downloads in September around the time of Apple’s iPhone event, according to data from Sensor Tower. The increased downloads were likely the result of people searching for Animoji following Apple’s keynote.

Still, the company says its business has suffered since Apple’s launch — both because its app is no longer the top search result for “Animoji,” and because they’re now having to rush out their next update.

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Arianna Huffington has a solution to your annoying phone notification problem

Arianna Huffington at Variety's Power of Women Presented by Lifetime in Los Angeles on Oct. 13, 2017.
Arianna Huffington at Variety’s Power of Women Presented by Lifetime in Los Angeles on Oct. 13, 2017.

Image: Richard Shotwell/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Uber board member, media mogul, and sleep crusader Arianna Huffington wants you to turn off your phone.

That’s easier said than done, of course, so she’s teamed up with Samsung to make an app that will help you force yourself into it.

It’s called Thrive, and the goal, according to Huffington, is to provide “the tools to take a break from your phone to do whatever it is that makes you more human.” The Samsung-exclusive app isn’t out until December, but Huffington took the stage at Samsung’s Developer Conference to share more about how it works. 

The main feature of the app is something called “thrive mode: that automatically suppresses your phone’s notifications for a predefined period of time. You can opt to have a “VIP list” of contacts whose calls and texts will come through, but everything else — calls, texts, and app notifications — will be shut out.

Image: thrive

If someone does text you, an auto-responder will let that person know you’re currently unreachable because you’re choosing to be in “thrive mode.” (Side note: “Sorry boss, I’m in ‘thrive mode’ for the next hour sounds like the perfect way to get out of meetings, no?)

There’s also an “App Control” feature that helps you keep tabs on how much time you’re spending in apps. You can also opt for notifications that will ever so gently remind you when you’re spending too much time glued to your Instagram feed.

Huffington also said there’s an alarm feature that will help shut out the outside world for the first few minutes of the day after you wake up.

“Instead of immediately being at the mercy of what the world wants from you, your phone will be operational only ten minutes after you wake up  — think of it as your helpful coach,” she said. “You set the agenda the Thrive app helps you achieve it”

The Thrive app is out December 15 in Samsung’s Galaxy app store.

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WhatsApp’s new feature lets you track your friends in real-time

WhatsApp will now let you track your friend’s location.

The app is getting a new “live location” sharing feature that allows users to share their location in real-time with the friends they’re chatting with.

Previously, the app had a location-sharing feature, but it only allowed users to share a static spot on a map. Now, when users opt-in to live location, the friends they’re chatting with can see their exact location updated on a map as they move.

The feature, which you can opt-in to from any chat, allows others to view your exact location for one, three, or eight hours at a time.

That may sound creepy, but WhatsApp says it’s a “simple and secure way to let people know where you are.” It’s end-to-end encrypted and users can end the location sharing before the designated time period is over if they want.

Privacy aside, the idea of always-on location sharing may be unappealing for other reasons as well. GPS use can often put a big strain on battery life, which could be particularly problematic in markets where people are using lower-end or older devices. But WhatsApp product manager Zafir Khan says they paid particular attention to the feature’s impact on battery life and made several optimizations so that it wouldn’t be a huge drain, even if users were sharing location for long periods of time.

“Our engineering team spent a significant amount of time optimizing for battery usage,” Khan said, adding that factors like battery life and charging status all play a role. 

“All of those things inform how often we get location updates form your device, battery is really critical.”

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Facebook just acquired tbh and its 5 million teen users

Facebook just scored a huge win its quest to win over teens.

The company has acquired tbh, the anonymous app that’s been going viral with teens. The app, which is targeted toward middle school and high school students, is a network that allows users to swap compliments by participating in anonymous “quizzes.”

It’s proved to be a winning formula for tbh, which has been in the App Store’s top ten for weeks, including two straight weeks as the number one app, according to data from Sensor Tower.

Facebook confirmed the acquisition saying, “tbh and Facebook share a common goal – of building community and enabling people to share in ways that bring us closer together.”

The app, launched in September, racked up more than 2 million downloads in its first month in the App Store, according to data from App Annie. Since then, the app has reached 5 million users who have collectively exchanged more than a billion messages, according to tbh.

The app is centered around emoji-filled anonymous quizzes that ask users to pick which friend has “the best smile” or is the “world’s best party planner.” It keeps identities a secret but users can see the gender and grade level of the person who “chooses” them.

Image: tbh

Image: tbh

It sounds like Facebook plans to keep the app as a standalone service, rather than integrating it into the social network. “Going forward, your experience with tbh won’t change, but we’ll continue to improve upon it and build features you love —but now with plenty more resources,” tbh said in a blog post.

That’s not surprising considering Facebook has historically struggled to appeal to younger teens. The company’s own standalone apps built for teens, like Lifestage and Snapchat clone Slingshot, have failed.

Still, the acquisition is a huge win for Facebook, which has been struggling to win over younger teens.

The number of teenage users on Facebook is expected to drop in 2017, according to a recent report from eMarketer — the first time the company has predicted a decline in Facebook users of any age. And a survey released by Piper Jaffray last week found that 47 percent of teens prefer Snapchat over other social networks.

But by scooping up tbh, and its 5 million+ teenage users, Facebook can now say it finally, finally, finally has a product that’s actually loved by teens.

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Build a crazy augmented reality iOS app for just $15

Learn how to make phone apps that actually work.
Learn how to make phone apps that actually work.

Image: pexels

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “There’s an app for that.” But do you know why there’s an app for just about everything? Because there are very few barriers to entry for creators. When you have a brilliant idea and, shockingly, there isn’t an app for that, you can just go ahead and create that app and, suddenly, there’s an app for that!

Ah, so you don’t know what you’re doing, you say. Well, there’s a course for that. If you’ve got a hankering to start creating your own iPhone and iPad apps, but aren’t quite sure you’re technically savvy enough to do so, allow this iOS 11 and Xcode 9 training course to change your mind. It’s available now for just $15.

This 55-hour online course will introduce you to the most recent developments in the world of Apple developers, getting you up to speed on coding for iOS 11 using Swift 4 and Xcode 9. Rather than just telling you what to do, however, this course will show you by helping you create 25 real iOS 11 applications from scratch. From simple games to powerful utility devices, you’ll get valuable hands-on experience creating apps using the newest native features of iOS 11 devices.

Speaking of those native features, this course includes a tutorial in using ARKit, one of Apple’s most exciting new developments. With ARKit, you can build your first Augmented Reality app using the camera to display 3D, virtual models in your immediate environment. This new technology has a ton of potential, and major companies like Ikea are already taking notice.

You’ll also learn how to take advantage of the newest iMessage improvements by creating your own extensions and sticker pack applications. 

Ultimately, learning iOS development can also give you career flexibility. You can indulge your “why isn’t there an app for that” ideas on your own time while adding a valuable career skill to your resume that could help you stand out in the job market. This training course contains 55 hours of education to let you do just that. Right now, you can get it for more than 90 percent off the retail price at just $15.