Apple today seeded the third betas of upcoming iOS 14.2 and iPadOS 14.2 updates to developers, two weeks after seeding the second betas and a month after releasing the iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates.
iOS and iPadOS 14.2 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper developer profile has been installed.
Apple in iOS and iPadOS 14.2 is adding new Emoji 13 emoji characters, with options that include smiling face with tear, ninja, pinched fingers, anatomical heart, black cat, mammoth, polar bear, dodo, fly, bell pepper, tamale, bubble tea, potted plant, piñata, plunger, wand, feather, hut, and more, with a full list available here.
The iOS 14.2 update also brings a new Music Recognition control for the Control Center, which enhances the integration of the Apple-owned Shazam app in the iOS operating system. Music Recognition lets you discover music playing around you and it can recognize music playing in apps even when you’re wearing AirPods.
The Shazam Music Recognition feature can be added to Control Center through the Control Center options in the Settings app. To use the feature, open up Control Center and then tap on the Shazam icon to initiate a single recognition. While Apple devices have been able to use Shazam through Siri or the Shazam app for some time, the Control Center option makes it easier to get to the music recognition tool.
The new update also includes a redesigned Now Playing widget for the Control Center, which lists recently played albums that you might want to tap into and listen to when you have no music playing. There’s also a redesigned interface for AirPlay, making it easier to play music across multiple AirPlay 2-enabled devices in the home.
One of the big new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts.
Many third-party apps have released widgets, and now evidence that Spotify is developing its own official widget has appeared in a TestFlight beta.
The widget is currently available in small and medium sizes, with the former designed to display the artwork of the last played artist, song, or album, while the latter size shows four of the same content elements.
Unfortunately there are no play, pause, or next song buttons, since Apple only allows widgets to present read-only information, with interactive elements such as scrolling elements or switches not allowed, presumably due to battery life considerations.
Instead, both widgets include the text “Listen to Music and Podcasts,” and tapping the widget opens the Spotify app. Based on user reports on Reddit, the Spotify widgets don’t yet display album artwork, but the fact that they exist at all proves that Spotify is working on them.
Last month, we reported that Spotify is testing dedicated support for direct audio streaming to Apple Watch without being connected to iPhone.
There’s no indication that the appearance of the beta feature is tied to a particular version of watchOS or iOS, but hopefully it won’t be long before the ability to stream Spotify from the wrist will be available to all subscribers.
Another day, another update that does not sound terribly good for Epic in its ongoing fight against Apple, as the Fortnite developer tries to get some regulation in place to ensure that the 30% cut Apple takes in its iOS app store is altered or the platform opens up more to competition.
A court has just ruled that for now, Apple cannot be forced to put Fortnite back on the app store, after it was taken off due to breaking the rules there by sidestepping the 30% cut with an update that allowed direct payment to Epic. But they also said Apple cannot take further, more destructive action against Epic by going after the entire Unreal engine, which would cause a ton of collateral damage to games and apps not owned by Epic at all.
The court documents reveal some pretty stunning statistics about just what Epic has given up to pursue this possibly quixotic fight with Apple:
- 116 million mobile users on iOS.
- Of those, 73 million only played Fortnite on iOS and no other platforms.
- 2.5 million DAUs on iOS, which represents 10% of Fortnite 25 million DAU total.
There’s no word on how many millions of users Epic has given up with its similar ban on the Google Play store. Still millions, no doubt, though less than this, and Fortnite can still technically run on Android devices outside of the Play store.
Both Apple and Epic are touting victories from this last ruling, Apple saying they’re grateful the court recognizes that Epic deliberately broke its rules, Epic saying they’re grateful the court is stopping action against Unreal. And yet the longer this goes on, the more of an uphill battle this seems like it’s going to be for Epic who has to convince
Several sources reported this week that Microsoft is working on a browser-based edition of its cloud gaming service Project xCloud. Business Insider reported that Xbox chief Phil Spencer told Microsoft employees at a meeting Wednesday that the company will pursue a “direct browser-based solution” for bringing the Xbox Game Pass to Apple’s family of devices.
If this were to work similarly to features on other services such as Google Stadia, it would allow Game Pass subscribers to connect to xCloud’s servers on an Apple device via its web browser, rather than launching any kind of discreet individual app. It would work identically to how one logs into any other streaming service, such as Netflix or Hulu, in a browser window.
This news comes almost a month after Apple launched a new set of rules for its App Store in September. It would have allowed Microsoft to officially bring an xCloud app to iOS, but only if each game on the service was submitted to Apple as a separate playable app. As there are dozens of games on the Game Pass at any given time and they rotate in and out of the service monthly, this was essentially a case of Apple setting up a logistically-infeasible series of hoops for Microsoft to jump through. Naturally, Microsoft opted to decline.
According to Apple, this was done to make sure that Microsoft’s library of games on the Pass all individually meet Apple’s stringent guidelines for the App Store. According to everyone else, it’s another case this year of Apple using its policies as a weapon against competitors. If xCloud (and Stadia) was available