Apple Pays, Google Plays, Viddy Sells, Horizon Fixes [Tech News Digest]

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Today in Tech News Digest, Apple pays for in-app purchases, Google Play Movies & TV arrives on iOS, Starbucks is caught using clear text when storing passwords, Fullscreen acquires Supernova (formerly Viddy), EA backtracks on offline SimCity, and Horizon arrives to kill videos shot in portrait mode.

Apple Backs Down Over In-App Purchases

Apple has agreed to pay full refunds to customers who claimed confusion over in-app purchases led to their kids racking up huge bills. The accord with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) comes despite Apple having already settled a class-action lawsuit with those affected.

The issue at play here was parents who discovered their children had made in-app purchases without the bill-payers consent. With more youngsters having their own smartphones, or at least having access to their parents’ smartphones, this is a serious problem.

In 2013, Apple sent out emails to millions of customers asking those affected to make a claim. A total of 37,000 people did claim, and Apple has promised to reimburse each and every one. However, this wasn’t enough for the FTC, which asked Apple to go one step further.

Apple chose to enter into a consent decree with the FTC to avoid a lengthy legal battle. The result is that Cupertino will pay out a minimum of $32.5 million in compensation, and change its billing practices to avoid similar issues occurring in the future.

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Apple won’t miss $32.5 million in the slightest, and better billing practices should have been in place well before the FTC got involved.

Google Play Lands On iOS

Google has released Google Play Movies & TV to the iOS App Store. As its (truly terrible) name suggests, this new app allows iOS users to watch content bought on Google Play on their iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.

Unfortunately, content cannot actually be bought from within the app, with users having to buy from within the Web browser instead. Still, it means Apple fans now have a viable alternative to iTunes for the buying or renting of movies and TV shows. And even Apple fans have to admit iTunes is a pain in the posterior. Don’t they?

Starbucks Caught Using Clear Text

Starbucks has been caught storing sensitive data on its mobile app in clear text. The data includes usernames, passwords, and email addresses, along with geolocation tracking points. The way these credentials are stored means it’s easy for anyone to find out the information.

The only possible explanation for this is Starbucks’ decision to rank convenience over security. Starbucks claims to have added “extra layers of security” to alleviate this issue, but users of the mobile app should still be very careful who they hand their phones to.

Fullscreen Buys Supernova (Viddy)

Supernova, which was until November 2013 known as Viddy, has been acquired by Fullscreen for somewhere between $10 million and $20 million. Supernova was a video-based social network that had struggled to gain traction in light of the arrival of Vine and Instagram Video.

$20 million might seem a fair amount for a struggling company, but Supernova had raised more than $35 million in funding and was once considered to be worth at least $300 million. The Supernova team will join Fullscreen, a YouTube network for brands, as part of the deal.

EA Takes SimCity Offline

EA has done what it once described as “not possible,” and added an offline mode to SimCity. The game launched in 2013 and was virtually unplayable thanks to server traffic caused by the need to be online when playing. The fans revolted, and 10 months later SimCity is playable online. This may be the first time in its history that EA — twice voted the worst company in America by The Consumerist — has listened to its customers.

Vertical Videos: There’s An App For That

And finally, a solution to the dreaded vertical video syndrome has arrived in the form of Horizon. This is a new app that doesn’t let you shoot in portrait mode, instead removing the black borders by zooming in whenever the smartphone is turned the wrong way.

The problem is that those who know not to shoot in portrait mode don’t need Horizon, and those who are still too stupid or pig-headed to turn their smartphones when shooting video are hardly likely to install this app or remember to use it. So, it might not fix the problem, but at least someone tried.

Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks.

Image Credit: Whatleydude

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