Apple World Today News Update: March 21, 2018

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A short podcast today, but with a few fun stories about the top grossing app in the US App Store, zombies and the iPhone X, and a unique campaign by a Chinese smartphone manufacturer to get potential iPhone X buyers to wait...

  • The top grossing app in the US App Store is...YouTube. Find out how a free app can make so much money
  • A game developer is using the iPhone X TrueDepth camera to capture facial animations for an upcoming "The Walking Dead" title
  • Huawei's new P20 smartphone arrives in less than a week, and the company is trying to dissuade people from buying the iPhone X until they can try the new phone

The text version of the podcast can be read below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below. Apple News readers need to visit Apple World Today in order to listen to the podcast.

Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update podcast for Wednesday, March 21, 2018. 

Here’s an odd bit of news — one of the Alphabet companies that includes Google has the top grossing app in the App Store. Sensor Tower, an analytics firm that looks at sales of games and apps, found that YouTube has become the Top Grossing iPhone app in the US. What’s pushing the app to the top of the heap? It appears that the launch of YouTube Red in-app subscriptions in 2015 started the movement of the YouTube app in an upwards direction, with an estimated $14 million in revenue last month alone. The YouTube app might also be getting a boost from a year-old feature called Super Chat, in which viewers of livestreams can pay money to creators to have their messages stand out in the chat stream. 

Here’s a novel use of the TrueDepth camera in the iPhone X. Next Games is using that front-facing camera to capture facial animations for its upcoming ARKit title “The Walking Dead: Our World”. Next created an app in a few weeks that lets the developer shoot animations, then tap a button to push them to the Unity game engine running on a nearby computer. Placed on a character model, facial animations can be recorded on the fly and at much less cost than using a dedicated capture studio. According to an article on The Verge, the animations aren’t perfectly smooth at this point…but we are talking zombies here, folks. The tool will be used not only to animate the main cast of the game, but will also allow players to capture their own faces to place on zombies that they can share with fellow gamers. The game should be available on iOS devices sometime in the next three months.

Chinese smartphone vendor Huawei is currently in third place in its market behind Samsung and Apple, and would probably be in first if it was allowed to sell its phones in the US. The company is trying something a bit cheeky in the UK to try to get potential buyers of its new Huawei P20 smartphone to wait until the phone launches on March 27th instead of buying an iPhone X or Samsung Galaxy S9. The company has flatbed trucks with signs on the back of them driving around Apple and Samsung retail outlets in the UK telling people to wait for the phone, which apparently comes with better AI, a three lens 40 MP Leica camera, and a smaller notch on the face than the iPhone X. I seriously doubt if any Apple fans would be swayed by a sign on the back of a truck…

That’s all the news for today - join me tomorrow afternoon for another edition of the AWT News Update.