Popular iOS game ‘Clicker Heroes’ pulled from App Store after name theft


Apple removed the popular freemium title “Clicker Heroes” from the App Store after a Chinese company trademarked its name after its version of the game received notoriety worldwide.

Clicker Heroes

Clicker Heroes

Unlike in past situations of Apple removing titles from the App Store, this time the developer has done nothing wrong. After racking up over 47,000 reviews on the App Store, nearly all positive, the game was banished from the App Store after a takedown request filed by a nondescript Chinese company.

Clicker Heroes first landed on the App Store in 2015 where it started gaining traction and positive reviews. Developer Playsaurus had started using the name as far back as 2014, evidenced by this Chinese web page. But Playsaurus didn’t register the name locally in China, allowing Shenzhen Lingyou Technology to swoop in and file a trademark on the name well after Clicker Heroes first debuted and created their own clone.

Playsaurus does hold trademarks in both the U.S. and Canada but that wasn’t enough to hold off Shenzhen Lingyou Technology Co., Ltd. from filing a takedown request with Apple, forcing the game to be removed worldwide.

The story was shared on Reddit by user Fragsworth who purports to be the CEO of Playsaurus and was first spotted by Cult of Mac. He says the company is currently losing $200-$300 a day as the game was removed everywhere, and not just in China.

“Despite explaining this as clear as I could to Apple and the 3rd party, Apple sided with the cloners and took my game down,” said Playsaurus CEO Thomas Wolfley. “We don’t have the resources to fight a legal trademark battle in China so I guess that’s the end of our game, “

Luckily, since the original takedown, Apple has reached back out to Wolfley to inform him that Clicker Heroes would be reinstated globally sans the China region where the imposing company still holds the upper hand.

There has been much todo regarding App Store removals as of recent with the latest issue cropping up when Apple removed third-party parental control apps that seemingly mimicked the features of Apple’s own Screen Time feature. Apple later claimed the removal was due to privacy risks posed by the apps as they accessed personal information, particularly with children.


Apple Card is the subscription that pays you to use it

Apple Card works just like any other Apple Pay account, but the software experience Apple is creating around it to enhance digital banking represents both a new Services venture and also an additional reason for users to keep buying hardware. That’s why Apple is paying its customers to use it.

Apple Card and the reverse subscription

Compared to the other new Services Apple announced in March — Apple Arcade video games, News+ periodicals and TV+ original content — Apple Card isn’t a subscription. Apple Card is actually the opposite of a subscription: using it pays you back via Daily Cash rebates.

This “free money” comes from the merchants who accept credit cards. Whenever you pay with any card, the merchant accepting your payment pays the card-issuing bank a fee. It’s common for card issuers to offer buyers “cash back,” which returns part of the fee collected to the buyer.

The cash back idea — along with no annual fee — was devised by Sears in the mid 80s when it introduced Discover in an attempt to break into the card business. By offering users cash back, it could attract customers otherwise happy with their existing cards. Additionally, the cash back promotion served as an incentive to spend more.

The idea of using credit to not just finance but incentivize consumer behavior was also explored by Apple. A 1984 Byte advertisement outlined “Apple Card,” a credit card exclusively for buying “Apple Computers, peripherals and software.” Twenty years later, Steve Jobs proposed a vanity credit card that paid out points for use in buying iTunes songs. Today a variety of cards offer some system of rewards in the form of points, airline miles, cash back or other incentives.

A less advanced Apple Card, 35 years ago, also sought to influence buyer behavior.

Apple’s original spin on the idea of cash back is to make rebates immediate and obvious, so you are aware that you are “getting money” every time you use it. But it also has a second component: rather than simply applying your cash back to your account, the Daily Cash credits are loaded onto your separate Apple Pay Cash account. That’s the personal spending account Apple earlier set up with Discover to enable free person-to-person Apple Pay transactions similar to PayPal or Venmo.

Offering its vast installed base of the world’s most affluent buyers a new Apple Card account is therefore a two-pronged strategy to induce Apple Pay transactions: when you make a purchase, a small rebate is applied to Apple Pay Cash, encouraging you to use that money to pay a friend or split a tab using a second Apple Pay transaction.

Apple wants to encourage NFC Apple Pay transactions, but more importantly it wants to make using Apple Pay routine. The company has previously noted that in countries where there’s an NFC transit system driving a critical mass of transactions, Apple Pay is more rapidly adopted as a payment system for other purchases, too.

Apple Card’s “Daily Cash” feature also promotes the use of Apple Pay Cash

Apple Pay and NFC vs the Mag Stripes

Apple Pay has been working to push the world toward more secure NFC transactions, which never expose your account number and protect the near field wireless transaction with an encrypted conversation between the terminal reader and a device’s silicon “secure element.”

However, much of the world — including a lot of the United States — is still stuck in the really old world of 1960s-era magnetic stripe transactions, which requires a physical card with a stretch of old cassette tape stuck on the back that can be read by a magnetic head in a credit card swipe machine.

That status quo at the launch of Apple Pay in 2014 informed Samsung’s plans to acquire LoopPay, a company that had developed a way to fake a magnetic swipe by generating an encoded magnetic field conveying the same data recorded on physical credit cards.

Apple — like Google — focused entirely on NFC, meaning that if you have a card enrolled in Apple Pay and a vendor doesn’t accept NFC payments, you have to pull out your physical card to either swipe it or insert it to use the card’s EMV chip.

Rather than try to retain compatibility with old mag stripe readers, Apple built an NFC-only system for iOS with an archaic card to serve as a legacy shim

Apple wasn’t simply trying to move all transactions to its devices; it was purely interested in promoting NFC as the payment solution. One of the benefits of only supporting NFC is that unlike Samsung, Apple doesn’t have to include and support a second mag stripe reader system on its devices, now and into the future.

Apple is notorious for killing legacy and aggressively dragging its users kicking and screaming into the future. If the world were being lead by Samsung, we would never need to phase out mag stripes, and probably wouldn’t. But by shifting its large, affluent base of users exclusively to NFC payments, Apple can make the future happen sooner, just as it did back in 1998 with USB, and now with USB-C.

Many pundits found it very convincing that Samsung would outperform Apple in mobile payments by offering legacy support for the once-ubiquitous old mag swipe readers. Three years after it adopted LoopPay’s technology on its Samsung Pay enabled phones, however, Samsung’s share of mobile wallet transactions was at 17% compared to 77% for Apple Pay.

In 2014, it looked like LoopPay was going to help Samsung Pay beat Apple Pay.

Certainly part of that disparity is due to Apple’s much larger installed base of premium users. Virtually all modern iPhones in use support Apple Pay; Samsung Pay is limited to the company’s higher-end Galaxy S and Note flagships, a much smaller base of users that’s only about a sixth of all Samsung phone buyers. That’s another example of how Samsung’s impact on the future of tech is far lower than its shipments would suggest.

However, NFC use isn’t simply a matter of technology availability. Google pioneered NFC support for Android long before Apple Pay was introduced, and yet despite broad support for NFC on various Androids, the same report noted that Google Pay adoption was only at 6%.

The real challenge for inducing NFC adoption wasn’t merely rolling out technology. It was changing behavior, both in convincing buyers to use it and in convincing banks and merchants to support it. That’s been the task of Apple VP Jennifer Bailey, the executive in charge of Apple Pay.

It certainly helped Apple that Google had spent years and tons of money trying to promote NFC. However, Bailey’s group has also worked to promote Apple Pay to users. Most recently it has worked to link Apple Pay to common transactions, notably transit fares and the area of “access,” which uses NFC to enable campus, hospitality and enterprise Wallet app ID cards to open doors as well as make payments.

NFC is used at Apple Park to control access. Apple has also issued NFC badges to attendees at its Worldwide Developer Conference, but these aren’t loaded into Wallet because it appears there’s currently no way to install a globally unique, non-transferable pass to a specific device. We will likely hear more about Apple Pay and NFC at WWDC19, which is now just over a week away.


Apple ceases iOS 12.2 code signing following iOS 12.3 release


Apple on Thursday stopped signing code for iOS 12.2 following the May release of iOS 12.3, ensuring iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices are operating on the latest version of the company’s mobile operating system.

iOS 12

As with past iOS updates, Apple’s halt to iOS 12.2 code signing arrives ten days after iOS 12.3 was pushed out to customers earlier this month.

The latest version of iOS integrates Apple’s refreshed TV app, an entertainment hub that has grown to include new offerings like Apple TV Channels subscription options and the upcoming Apple TV+ service. In addition to laying the groundwork for Apple TV+ original programming, the new TV app includes a revamped user interface with a focus on curated shows funneled into the app from a range of content providers.

Alongside TV app improvements, Apple’s Wallet app also received some attention in preparation of Apple Card. Apple’s branded credit card offering is slated to launch this summer with advanced in-app features like activity tracking, Apple Pay integration, enhanced security features and a cash back rewards system.

Apple routinely stops signing legacy code after the release of current iOS builds to ensure customers are running the most secure version of the operating system. A halt to code signing also keeps iOS devices on the most up-to-date, feature-rich software.

Apple is already beta testing iOS 12.4, with developers and public beta testers furnished with a second evaluation build on Monday.


Instagram website source code exposed private information of thousands


A security researcher discovered a flaw in Instagram’s website that left user contact information exposed for months, potentially allowing nefarious actors to create databases containing the phone numbers and email addresses of thousands.


David Stier, a data scientist and business consultant, earlier this year discovered an issue with Instagram’s website in which source code for some user profiles contained private contact information not made available on public-facing pages, reports CNET.

Citing archived versions of Instagram profiles dating back to October 2018, Stier believes thousands of accounts were impacted by the flaw, including pages belonging to private individuals, minors and businesses. The researcher informed Instagram of the problem in February and the company issued a patch in March.

As noted by CNET, the exposure presented a prime opportunity to collect sensitive information from the photo sharing service. It is postulated that bad actors were able to create vast databases of user contact information simply by scraping Instagram’s website source code during the four-month period in question.

One such list might already be in use. A report on Monday revealed an unsecured database maintained by Indian social media marketing firm Chtrbox leaked personal contact information tied to millions of Instagram influencer accounts, including users not affiliated with the company. An ensuing investigation found the database included 49 million records, a figure that continued to grow until the list was pulled from Amazon Web Services later that day.

Chtrbox in a statement said the information it gathered was not private, nor was it sourced unethically, according to Wednesday’s report. Instagram’s terms of use prohibit profile scraping, though Chtrbox has failed to detail how it obtained data not easily available to general users.

Instagram is investigating both Stier’s report and the Chtrbox database.

“We’re looking into the issue to understand if the data described – including email and phone numbers – was from Instagram or from other sources,” Instagram owner Facebook said in a statement on Monday. “We’re also inquiring with Chtrbox to understand where this data came from and how it became publicly available.”

A year prior to the source code snafu, Instagram was embroiled in a similar privacy kerfuffle when hackers exploited a bug in the service’s developer API to glean phone numbers and email addresses attached to high-profile accounts.


Save up to $1,000 on 2018 MacBook Pros with these blowout deals



More price drops are in, and these special markdowns are available exclusively for AppleInsider readers. Save $500 to $1,000 instantly on 2018 15-inch MacBook Pros featuring 32GB of memory and at least 1TB of storage. In addition to the lowest prices ever, shoppers can take advantage of no interest financing or a sales tax refund, further adding to the savings.

Apple MacBook Pro 15 inch deals

2018 15-inch MacBook Pro

Save up to $1,000 on MacBook Pros

2018 15″ MacBook Pro (2.6GHz, 32GB, 1TB, Radeon Pro 560X) Gray: $3,099* ($500 off)
2018 15″ MacBook Pro (2.9GHz, 32GB, 1TB, Radeon Pro 555X) Gray: $3,299* ($500 off)
2018 15″ MacBook Pro (2.9GHz, 32GB, 2TB, Radeon Pro 560X) Gray: $3,849* ($650 off)
2018 15″ MacBook Pro (2.9GHz, 32GB, 4TB, Radeon Pro 560X) Gray: $5,299* ($1,000 off)
*To activate the deals, you must use the special pricing links above from a desktop, laptop or iPad. Discounts cannot be redeemed via mobile apps. Additional help can be found near the bottom of this post.

Delivering the lowest prices ever on loaded Mid 2018 15-inch MacBook Pros, these exclusive deals knock $500 to $1,000 off configurations with 32GB of memory and at least 1TB of storage. Readers can also find models with upgraded graphics for a nice performance boost over the standard 2018 spec.

Along with the exclusive savings, B&H is tacking on free expedited shipping within the contiguous U.S., so you can get up and running quickly — usually in as little as one to three business days. Special financing incentives are also available, ranging from no interest when paid in full within 12 months with the B&H Financing Credit Card to a sales tax refund in qualifying states via the new B&H Payboo Card. It’s definitely worth looking into the financing incentives, especially if you want to spread the payments out over time or live in a state eligible for the Payboo tax-equivalent loyalty rebate.

To see how these discounts stack up against the competition, be sure to check out our 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro Price Guide for up-to-date pricing across top Apple authorized resellers. At press time, these prices are the lowest available by at least $200 to $400.

How to activate the deals

These Apple deals are link-activated and require shoppers to use the special pricing links in this post or in our Price Guide from a laptop, desktop or iPad. They will not work in mobile apps, including B&H’s iOS app. Step-by-step instructions for redeeming the discounts can be found below.

Instructions: To activate the deals, simply click through the B&H pricing links above using AppleInsider’s desktop site and look for the advertised prices.

Please note: These offers cannot be activated through the B&H and AppleInsider apps at this time. If you still cannot see the exclusive prices using the desktop site, all is not lost! Need help? Send us a note at [email protected] and we will do our best to assist. Prices are set to expire on May 28.

Additional Apple Deals

AppleInsider and Apple authorized resellers are also running a handful of additional exclusive promotions this month on Apple hardware that will not only deliver the lowest prices on many of the items, but also throw in discounts on AppleCare, software and accessories. These deals are as follows:


Australian ‘big four’ bank NAB adopts Apple Pay, Westpac lone holdout


National Australia Bank (NAB) on Monday announced immediate support for Apple Pay, becoming the third of Australia’s “big four” banks to integrate with Apple’s payments platform after a failed boycott.


NAB announced the arrival of Apple Pay in a tweet posted to the bank’s official account.

“It’s here. NAB customers can now use Apple Pay. Just add your NAB Visa Card and start using Apple Pay wherever you can tap and pay. Apple Pay with NAB. Easy,” the tweet reads.

Along with the announcement, an accompanying link points to a comprehensive mini-site detailing the service. Customers are provided information regarding compatible devices, credit and debit cards and a quick setup guide for iPhone and Apple Watch.

Ironically, NAB touts Apple Pay’s security, a feature largely reliant on Apple’s tight control of the NFC hardware stack to which NAB and its collaborators sought to access through a collective boycott in 2016.

In a move designed to put banks in a better position to bargain with then-newcomer Apple, Australia’s Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking Corp, along with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, filed a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission seeking to negotiate access to Apple’s NFC technology. The banks initially sought to force Apple into integrating third-party mobile payments software with iPhone hardware and later requested direct access to iPhone’s NFC controller.

The banking bloc argued its stipulations would foster increased competition and consumer choice, as well as accelerated innovation and investment in the digital wallet space.

In March 2017, the ACCC denied permission to collectively bargain and boycott Apple, putting an end to the banks’ gambit.

With NAB on board, Westpac becomes the last of Australia’s “big four” banks to resist Apple Pay.

Australia and New Zealand banking group, which was not involved in the attempted forced negotiations, was the first major lender to offer Apple Pay in 2016. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Australia’s largest bank, rolled out support for the mobile payments solution late last year.


Google suspends Huawei’s Android license, forces switch to open-source version


Following newly-authorized rules by the Trump administration, Google has reportedly terminated Huawei’s Android license, forcing it to move to the Android Open Source Project.

Huawei Nova4

The change won’t immediately affect owners of Huawei phones, since they’ll be able to update individual apps through the Google Play Store, Reuters noted. The company will however have to use its own system to push broader OS updates, and only once they’ve been published through AOSP.

It may cut Huawei off from key apps and services such as Gmail, YouTube, and even Chrome. Most Google mobile apps are already banned in Huawei’s Chinese homeland, but they are licensed for devices in markets like Europe.

The company has reportedly spent several years preparing for such a contingency, and is even using some of that fallback technology in Chinese versions of its phones. Westerners, though, are unlikely to be happy without access to services many consider cornerstones of the internet.

Last week the U.S. Commerce Department added Huawei and 70 affiliates to its “Entity List,” preventing it from buying from American businesses without a license demonstrating there’s no national security risk. Simultaneously, President Donald Trump signed an executive order blocking corporations from using telecoms equipment from firms deemed a national security risk — such as Huawei and ZTE.

The Trump administration has expressed worries that Huawei’s ties with the Chinese government could lead to backdoors, and indeed a report recently claimed the discovery of such activity in the Netherlands. Huawei has denied any such threat, and argued U.S. actions are really meant to thwart Chinese business.

Indeed the U.S. bans could kick a leg out from under Huawei, since until this month it was dependent on American suppliers like Qualcomm. That could give companies like Apple a better chance in China, even if it will still have to deal with price obstacles and local brands like Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo.


25,000 Linksys routers are reportedly leaking details of any device that has ever connected to it


The flaw that may have been leaking data since 2014 reportedly exposes routers that haven’t had their default passwords changed, and it can even help lead hackers to physically locate devices and users in the real world.

Researcher Troy Mursch claims that in excess of 25,000 Linksys Smart Wi-Fi routers currently in use have a flaw that means significant data is accessible by hackers. Writing in Bad Packets Report, a “cyber threat intelligence” company, he says sensitive information is being leaked, although the manufacturer now denies this.

Linksys was bought in 2013 by Belkin —and that firm was then bought by Foxconn in 2018 —and that firm says that its staff haven’t been able to reproduce Mursch’s findings.

“We quickly tested the router models flagged by Bad Packets using the latest publicly available firmware (with default settings) and have not been able to reproduce [it],” said Linksys in an online security advisory, “meaning that it is not possible for a remote attacker to retrieve sensitive information via this technique.”

Linksys further says that this is because the flaw was fixed in 2014. However, Mursch disagrees.

“While [this flaw] was supposedly patched for this issue, our findings have indicated otherwise,” says Bad Packets. “Upon contacting the Linksys security team, we were advised to report the vulnerability… After submitting our findings, the reviewing analyst determined the issue was ‘not applicable/won’t fix’ and subsequently closed.”

If your router is one of those leaking information in this way, then the details that may be available to hackers include the MAC address of every device connected now —or ever.

It can also include device names like “William’s iPhone” plus whether the device is a Mac, PC, iOS or Android device. The combination of a MAC address and Linksys Smart Wi-Fi routers’ public IP address can mean that hackers could geo-locate or track “William,” claims Mursch.

More easily and immediately discovered, though, is whether a router’s default admin password has been changed or not.

This flaw and Linksys/Belkin’s response were first reported by Ars Technica which notes that the number of affected routers appears to be reducing. After the initial report of 25,617, a repeat of the test some days later revealed 21,401 vulnerable devices.

A complete list of the Linksys router models reported affected is on the Bad Packets site.


Spotify begins testing ‘Car Thing’ voice assistant accessory


In the next few weeks Spotify will begin a U.S. test of its first hardware device, an auto accessory offering hands-free music control.

Spotify Car Thing

Dubbed the Car Thing, the device is powered by a 12-volt outlet and links to both a smartphone and car over Bluetooth. A small circular screen shows what’s playing, while buttons offer access to preset playlists.

By saying, “Hey Spotify,” people can make Siri- or Alexa-style requests, such as “play ‘A Flaming Ordeal’ by Raison d’etre” or “shuffle my ‘Bedtime for Bonzo’ playlist.”

Spotify is only reaching out to a select group of people for testing, and the company says it’s interested primarily in gauging in-car music and podcast habits. Spotify is concentrating on being “the world’s number one audio platform — not on creating hardware,” it wrote in a blog post.

An anonymous source for the The Verge backed this statement, saying there are no intentions to launch the Car Thing as-is, or even to the general public. Nevertheless the company has trademarked “Car Thing,” “Voice Thing” and “Home Thing,” laying the groundwork for potential commercial products.

Hardware like the Car Thing could get around a key limitation on iPhone, which is Apple’s control over voice commands. While people can ask Siri to play songs if they have an Apple Music subscription, they can’t do the same if they have Spotify Premium or any other on-demand third-party service.


Apple redesigns Investor Relations webpage, incorporates Newsroom feed


Apple on Thursday pushed out a redesign for its Investor Relations webpage that provides easy access to current and historical financial data, and integrates a live feed from the company’s Newsroom.

Sharing a general design theme with Apple’s product pages, the updated Investor Relations mini-site is dominated by a “News and Results” header, below which are — as described — the company’s most recent quarterly results and press releases. The banner was titled “Apple Investor News” in prior iterations of the site.

A section titled “Investor Updates” includes links to information covering the just ended fiscal quarter, specifically Apple’s official press release and Form 10-Q Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Previously, the same links were presented at the top of Apple’s Investor Relations webpage, but lacked the Investor Updates designation.

A second section presents a feed from Apple’s Newsroom, which collects the company’s latest press releases, photo galleries and corporate statements. More recently, editorial “features” penned by members of Apple’s PR team provide insight into corporate initiatives and new products. For example, a feature in April highlighted Apple’s efforts to mangrove forests, while a similarly labeled release in March promoted AirPods with the help of choreographer Hope Boykin.

Financial Data — previously a separate page accessed through a tab at the top of the Investor Relations homepage — is now included at the bottom of the front page. Past quarterly press releases, financial statements, data summaries and SEC filings are arranged by fiscal year, while a separate section breaks out annual 10-K filings dating back to 2015. Miscellaneous reports are also displayed and currently include a reclassification of net sales for fiscal 2018, capital return history, dividend history and an annual green bond impact report.

Also new is a revamped SEC Filings subsection, accessed through a dedicated tab on the Investor Relations homepage. Here, users can now subscribe to receive email alerts for Apple’s latest SEC filings, insider transactions and quarter and annual reports.

An Apple Values tab redirects visitors to the company’s various corporate initiatives: Accessibility, Education, Environment, Inclusion and Diversity, Privacy, and Supplier Responsibility. The mini-site’s Stock Price, Leadership and Governance, FAQ and Contact pages also feature minor graphical tweaks.