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Emulators, AI, and iMessage: the Apple news of the week

This has been an odd few days for Apple news. Lots of fringe interest stories landed that don’t warrant full posts from us, but will nevertheless have pretty big repercussions for iPhone and iPad owners.

Below, I’ve highlighted the most notable news of the past week.

App Store guidelines now allow game emulators

Retro gamers rejoice! In a move completely out of left field, Apple has changed its App Store guidelines to allow game emulators on iOS, although all such apps are still banned from including anything illegal, such as pirated games. Still, it opens up for games companies like Sega, Capcom, and maybe even Nintendo to release game compendiums from their back catalogs, and we’ll likely see some third-party apps capable of playing retro games independently sourced by the user too.

Apple paid millions to use Shutterstock images in its AI development

It’s widely expected that iOS 18 will see Apple embracing AI, but as yet we don’t know exactly what that will look like. Reports that Apple has paid a boat load of money to license Shutterstock’s huge photo library points to machine learning improvements in Photos, or possibly a more “ethically sourced” generative AI that produces images based on user prompts.

Spotify can now create AI playlists from ChatGPT-style text prompts

Speaking of AI, music streamer Spotify is trialing a new “AI Playlist” feature that takes a written prompt and turns it into a set of tunes to match your mood. Examples include asking for”an indie folk playlist to give my brain a big warm hug” and “tracks for horse riding into the sunset.” Spotify already has a popular AI DJ feature, and this could be one area where Apple has to play AI catch-up with its own Music app.

Astoundingly unsafe iMessage bridge Sunbird is back

A service that attempts to bridge the gap between Android and iOS has returned after some pretty serious security issues. Those texting from a non-Apple device can use Sunbird to get those blue chat bubbles in Messages, accessing iMessage features that typically aren’t available on Android. The cost? You’ll have to give up your Apple ID login information and forget about end-to-end encryption.

Teenagers still overwhelmingly want iPhone and Apple Watch

According to a survey, Apple devices are still popular with the kids today. Apple services aren’t quite so hot though, with Spotify leading Apple Music and a bunch of video streaming apps beating out Apple TV+.