This week’s edition of our Apps of the Week roundup includes a sharp-looking task manager, a nostalgic video editor, and a silly dog generator. And as always, we’ve selected two great new games for you to check out.
This week’s edition of our Apps of the Week roundup includes a sharp-looking task manager, a nostalgic video editor, and a silly dog generator. And as always, we’ve selected two great new games for you to check out.... Read the rest of this post here
Apple has commented on its decision to continue to allow conspiracy theorist profiteer InfoWars to livestream video podcasts via an app in its App Store, despite removing links to all but one of Alex Jones’ podcast content from its iTunes and podcast apps earlier this week. At the time Apple said the podcasts had violated its […]
Apple has commented on its decision to continue to allow conspiracy theorist profiteer InfoWars to livestream video podcasts via an app in its App Store, despite removing links to all but one of Alex Jones’ podcast content from its iTunes and podcast apps earlier this week.
At the time Apple said the podcasts had violated its community standards, emphasizing that it “does not tolerate hate speech”, and saying: “We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”
Yet the InfoWars app allows iOS users to livestream the same content Apple just pulled from iTunes.
In a statement given to BuzzFeed News Apple explains its decision not to pull InfoWars app’ — saying:
We strongly support all points of view being represented on the App Store, as long as the apps are respectful to users with differing opinions, and follow our clear guidelines, ensuring the App Store is a safe marketplace for all. We continue to monitor apps for violations of our guidelines and if we find content that violates our guidelines and is harmful to users we will remove those apps from the store as we have done previously.
Multiple tech platforms have moved to close to door or limit Jones’ reach on their platforms in recent weeks, including Google, which shuttered his YouTube channel, and Facebook, which removed a series of videos and banned Jones’ personal account for 30 days as well as issuing the InfoWars page with a warning strike. Spotify, Pinterest, LinkedIn, MailChimp and others have also taken action.
Although Twitter has not banned or otherwise censured Jones — despite InfoWars’ continued presence on its platform threatening CEO Jack Dorsey’s claimed push to want to improve conversational health on his platform. Snapchat is also merely monitoring Jones’ continued presence on its platform.
In an unsurprising twist, the additional exposure Jones/InfoWars has gained as a result of news coverage of the various platform bans appears to have given his apps some passing uplift…
Well, the bans were great for Infowars app downloads. It’s the No. 4 news app in Apple’s App Store today, ranking above all mainstream news organizations.
So Apple’s decision to remove links to Jones’ podcasts yet allow the InfoWars app looks contradictory.
The company is certainly treading a fine line here. But there’s a technical distinction between a link to a podcast in a directory, where podcast makers can freely list their stuff (with the content hosted elsewhere), vs an app in Apple’s App Store which has gone through Apple’s review process and the content is being hosted by Apple.
What percentage of people who discussed Infowars today understood the distinction between a podcast directory, actual file hosting, and whether software would allow manually adding a feed or listening to content?
When it removed Jones’ podcasts Apple was, in effect, just removing a pointer to the content, not the content itself. The podcasts also represented discrete content — meaning each episode which was being pointed to could be judged against Apple’s community standards. (And one podcast link was not removed, for example, though five were.)
Whereas Jones (mostly) uses the InfoWars app to livestream podcast shows. Meaning the content in the InfoWars app is more ephemeral — making it more difficult for Apple to cross-check against its community standards. The streamer has to be caught in the act, as it were.
Google has also not pulled the InfoWars app from its Play Store despite shuttering Jones’ YouTube channel, and a spokesperson told BuzzFeed: “We carefully review content on our platforms and products for violations of our terms and conditions, or our content policies. If an app or user violates these, we take action.”
That said, both the iOS and Android versions of the app also include ‘articles’ that can be saved by users, so some of the content appears to be less ephemeral.
The iOS listing further claims the app lets users “stay up to date with articles as they’re published from Infowars.com” — which at least suggests some of the content is identical to what’s being spouted on Jones’ own website (where he’s only subject to his own T&Cs).
But in order to avoid failing foul of Apple and Google’s app store guidelines, Jones is likely carefully choosing which articles are funneled into the apps — to avoid breaching app store T&Cs against abuse and hateful conduct, and (most likely also) to hook more eyeballs with more soft-ball conspiracy nonsense before, once people are pulled into his orbit, blasting them with his full bore BS shotgun on his own platform.
Sample articles depicted in screenshots in the App Store listing for the app include one claiming that George Soros is “literally behind Starbucks’ sensitivity training” and another, from the ‘science’ section, pushing some junk claims about vision correction — so all garbage but not at the same level of anti-truth toxicity that Jones has become notorious for for what he says on his shows; while the Play Store listing flags a different selection of sample articles with a slightly more international flavor — including several on European far right politics, in addition to U.S. focused political stories about Trump and some outrage about domestic ‘political correctness gone mad’. So the static sample content at least isn’t enough to violate any T&Cs.
Still, the livestream component of the apps presents an ongoing problem for Apple and Google — given both have stated that his content elsewhere violates their standards. And it’s not clear how sustainable it will be for them to continue to allow Jones a platform to livestream hate from inside the walls of their commercial app stores.
Beyond that, narrowly judging Jones — a purveyor of weaponized anti-truth (most egregiously his claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax) — by the content he uploads directly to their servers also ignores the wider context (and toxic baggage) around him.
And while no tech companies want their brands to be perceived as toxic to conservative points of view, InfoWars does not represent conservative politics. Jones peddles far right conspiracy theories, whips up hate and spreads junk science in order to generate fear and make money selling supplements. It’s cynical manipulation not conservatism.
Both should revisit their decision. Hateful anti-truth merely damages the marketplace of ideas they claim to want to champion, and chills free speech through violent bullying of minorities and the people it makes into targets and thus victimizes.
Earlier this week 9to5Mac reported that CNN’s Dylan Byers had said the decision to remove links to InfoWars’ podcasts had been made at the top of Apple — after a meeting between CEO Tim Cook and SVP Eddy Cue. Byers’ reported it was also the execs’ decision not to remove the InfoWars app.
We’ve reached out to Apple to ask whether it will be monitoring InfoWars’ livestreams directly for any violations of its community standards and will update this story with any response.
Can Google’s week get any worse? Less than a day after the revelation that it is planning a censored search engine for China, so comes another: the U.S. firm is said to be developing a government-friendly news app for the country, where its search engine and other services remain blocked. That’s according to The Information which reports […]
The Information said the news app is slated for release before the search app, the existence of which was revealed yesterday, but sources told the publication that the ongoing U.S.-China trade war has made things complicated. Specifically, Google executives have “struggled to further engage” China’s internet censor, a key component for the release of an app in China from an overseas company.
There’s plenty of context to this, as I wrote yesterday:
As for Google, the company pointed us to the same statement it issued yesterday:
We provide a number of mobile apps in China, such as Google Translate and Files Go, help Chinese developers, and have made significant investments in Chinese companies like JD.com. But we don’t comment on speculation about future plans.
Despite two-for-one value on that PR message, this is a disaster. Plotting to collude with governments to censor the internet never goes down well, especially in double helpings.
Apple announced plans to end the iTunes affliate program for apps and in-app purchases on Oct. 1 of this year.
In a late Thursday email to developers, Apple announced plans to end the iTunes affliate program for apps and in-app purchases. The move could represent a major loss of revenue for tech sites who cover Apple and the products it makes.... Read the rest of this post here
Search ads on App Store are now available to developers and customers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and South Korea.
Search ads on App Store are now available to developers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and South Korea, according to a post this past weekend on Apple’s portal for developers.... Read the rest of this post here
An old interview with the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs during which he discusses the App Store after its first 30 days shows just how Jobs had things right all the way back in 2008. [ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]
An old interview with the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs during which he discusses the App Store after its first 30 days shows just how Jobs had things right all the way back in 2008.
Did you know that App Store used to display the download count for all apps and games? And I bet you’re totally unaware that Apple took it down because the developers objected?
Many people are oblivious to the fact that Apple’s App Store once used to actually display the download count for all apps and games. Unfortunately, this undeniably cool feature (at least as far as end-users are concerned) had to be removed because the developers objected.... Read the rest of this post here
The Wall Street Journal recently published an audio recording and transcript of a 2008 interview with the late Steve Jobs. Here are the details.
Soon after the opening of the App Store in 2008, The Wall Street Journal sat down with the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs to discuss the store and future of the company. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the online store, it recently published (along with The Information) both the audio and transcript of the interview with Jobs. The historical record shows even Jobs was surprised by the App Store’s immediate success. Here are some key highlights from the interview, which was held on Aug. 7, 2008.... Read the rest of this post here
In December, Apple introduced a new pay-per-install ad product called Search Ads Basic aimed at smaller developers, to complement the existing Search Ads product, which then became known as Search Ads Advanced. Today, the company is expanding Search Ads to more countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and Spain, bringing the total number […]
In December, Apple introduced a new pay-per-install ad product called Search Ads Basic aimed at smaller developers, to complement the existing Search Ads product, which then became known as Search Ads Advanced. Today, the company is expanding Search Ads to more countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and Spain, bringing the total number of countries where Search Ads is available to thirteen.
In addition to the U.S., Search Ads Advanced had already expanded to Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the U.K.
Developers in the newly supported countries will be able to create campaigns using Search Ads Advanced starting on July 25, 2018 at 4 PM PDT, with those campaigns appearing on the App Store starting August 1, 2018 at 4 PM PDT.
Meanwhile, Search Ads Basic will be available across all thirteen supported countries starting on August 22, 2018 at 10 AM PDT.
To encourage sign-ups, Apple is offering first-time advertisers a $100 USD credit to try out the product.
While the first version of Search Ads launched back in October 2016 in the U.S., the idea behind the newer “Basic” product was to offer developers a different – and simpler – means of reaching potential customers.
Search Ads was originally designed to allow developers to target users’ keyword searches, combined with other factors like location, gender or whether or not they had installed the app in the past. Developers would pay when users tapped on those targeted ads.
With the launch of Search Ads Basic, it’s easier to set up campaigns.
Developers only have to enter the app to be advertised, the campaign’s budget, and how much they want to pay per install. Apple helps by suggesting the max developers should pay using historical data. Then, developers only pay for actual installs, not taps.
Apple says that over 70 percent of App Store visitors use search to discover apps, in fact, and 65 percent of all downloads come directly from an App Store search.
The ads work well, too, as they have an over 50 percent conversion rate, on average, says Apple.
Apple’s advantage over the pay-per-install ads found elsewhere on the web isn’t only the ads’ placement – at the top of App Store searches, where they’re identified with a blue background and “Ad” icon – it also manages this without violating user privacy. That is, it doesn’t build specific profiles on individuals for ad targeting purposes, and it doesn’t share user data with developers. By its nature, this makes the system GDPR compliant.
In addition, Apple only places an ad when it’s relevant to a user’s search – developers can’t pay more to have their ad shown more often across less relevant searches, which offers a more level playing field.
Apple didn’t say when Search Ads would reach other countries, but with the new expansions it has some of the top markets now covered.