Opinion: Could there be method in Apple’s apparent madness in removing freebies?

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I was extremely surprised when Apple made the decision to drop its Single of the Week, after doing the same thing with its 12 Days of Christmas promo. As I wrote then, the free single seemed a win-win-win: consumers got free music, lesser-known artists got exposure, Apple got the goodwill that stems from giving away free stuff.

But thinking more about it, perhaps there is method in Apple’s madness after all. Let’s start with the obvious point: the company is about to launch an Apple-branded Beats Music service, and it would then make sense to say that this, not iTunes freebies, is the way to discover new music.

But it’s not just music: 12 Days of Christmas was content of all types, apps included, so I think there could be a bigger picture here. Bear with me while I make that case in a slightly roundabout fashion …

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Bank of America announces 1.1 million cards using Apple Pay, new grocery stores add support

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Bank of America, which partnered with Apple to rollout Apple Pay at launch last October, has announced new customer data on adoption of the iPhone-based mobile payment service. The bank’s most recent quarterly earnings reveal that nearly 800,000 of its customers have begun using Apple Pay with a total of about 1.1 million debit and credit cards activated.

In addition to the latest customer data from Bank of America, support for paying with Apple Pay is popping up in another grocery store chain… Read more

Ericsson countersues Apple over wireless technology licensing royalties

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In response to Apple taking Ericsson to court over wireless patent licensing, the Swedish telecommunications company has filed a lawsuit in Texas that seeks the court to determine whether its licensing offer to Apple is fair. Ericsson told the court that it has been attempting to reach a new licensing agreement with Apple for over two years, but negotiations have failed to result in a deal. The patents in question are related to wireless LTE technologies that Apple uses in products like the iPhone and iPad. Read more

KGI: Apple is designing its own Mac processors; Intel and Global Foundry added to Apple’s chipmaking stable

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Is an A-series chip destined for a future model of the 12-inch MacBook Air?

A KGI report predicts that Apple will begin using its own processors for Macs “in the next 1-2 years,” with a specific prediction of a Samsung-fabbed A10X chip powering at least one Mac made in 2016. The wording appears to suggest an entry-level machine–possibly a future model of the 12-inch MacBook Air.

Apple may launch Mac products that use own AP [Application Processor] in next 1-2 years. This prediction is based on the assumption that Apple’s self-developed AP performs at a level between Intel’s Atom and Core i3 and is good enough for Mac. Using self developed AP can help Apple better control the timing of Mac launches and Mac product features.

With performance between an Atom and Core i3, the chip would not be suitable for mid- to high-end Macs.

An accompanying table (below) shows an A10X chip made with a 10-nanometer process to be made by Samsung at some point during 2016 …

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Apple defends against EU 14-day refund abuse with App Store alert for customers with excessive refunds on file

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Last week, we reported on a flaw with the EU’s new no-questions-asked 14-day refund policy that meant customers could effectively get paid apps for free, as refunding the app does not delete it from customers’ devices.

In response, Apple has adjusted its App Store purchases slightly for customers who have an excessive number of refunds on file. This means people with a track record of refunding purchase effectively lose the right to refund their purchase.

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Review: Olloclip’s Telephoto and Circular Polarizing Lens lets iPhone 6, 6 Plus users shoot 2X-magnified photos through glass

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Professional photographers rarely used iPhone cameras five years ago, but images produced by the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are – under the right circumstances – indistinguishable from dedicated point-and-shoots. The one thing iPhones always lack is adjustable lenses, so Olloclip has been remedying that omission with accessories including the 4-in-1 Lens kits for iPhone 6/6 Plus (review) and iPhone 5/5s. At the 2015 CES, it debuted a second option for the iPhone 6/6 Plus called the Telephoto and Circular Polarizing Lens ($100), which is based upon but also different from the previously impressive version for the iPhone 5/5s.

Just like the 4-in-1 Lens, the Telephoto version offers big steps forward in functionality over the prior 5/5s model. It now features support for the iPhones’ front and rear cameras, uses a new clip-based housing, and includes a separate storage compartment for the polarizer. Read on for our full impressions.

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Latest iOS 8.2 iPhone beta adds Apple Watch Bluetooth support, confirms app

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The latest iOS 8.2 beta for the iPhone adds support for Apple’s next major product launch: the Apple Watch. Inside of the Bluetooth Settings menu is a new panel specifically for pairing an iPhone with the Apple Watch. Additionally, the instructions inside of the Bluetooth menu specifically indicate that Apple will release a dedicated “Apple Watch app” for setting up and controlling the wearable device. An early preview of the Watch explained the standalone app as follows:

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Scanadu turns your iPhone into an electrocardiogram, urinalysis reader and future drug testing device


Scanadu cofounder Sam De Brouwer demonstrates the Scout and Scanaflo

At CES this week I met with a very interesting company called Scanadu which makes two interesting healthcare products that connect with the iPhone…

Scanadu-scoutThe Scanadu Scout (pictured, right) is a little electronic device designed by Yves Béhar that you touch to your forehead for a few seconds. Almost instantly, physiological parameters, including temperature, heart rate, blood oxygenation, respiratory rate, ECG, and diastolic/systolic blood pressure are sent to an app on your iPhone which logs these measurements and alerts users to anomalies and deviations which may be cause for heath concerns.

The Scout closed a $1.6M Indigogo funding round in 2013 and is still trying to push the product through the FDA as it tries to get deliveries to customers.

Perhaps more interesting however, Scnadu introduced its new “Scanaflo” device at CES 2015 which is a home urinalysis apparatus that uses your iPhone’s camera to image a set of colors strips. Read more

The fundamental flaw with EU 14-day refunds: you keep the app forever

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A week ago, Apple introduced 14-day no-questions-asked refunds in the EU for iTunes Store and App Store content. This means that, without the need for a reason, any Apple customer in Europe can get their money back for (primarily) app purchases in 5-7 days time. That’s how it is described, at least.

This opens up some possibilities for abuse. For instance, if you complete a game within two weeks, then you can get your money back and end up paying nothing. As a developer, I tested this out myself. It turns out there is an even bigger problem. At least, right now, when the refund is processed, the app continues to work. You get the app for free, forever.

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iPod shuffle supplies mysteriously dwindle in stores and online

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“Ships to Store” indicates store has no units in stock

If you’re trying to buy Apple’s cheapest iPod, the $49 screen-less Shuffle, you may be in for a difficult shopping trip. According to multiple sources, supplies of the iPod Shuffle are dwindling across Apple’s physical retail and online channels. In fact, Apple has warned its retail employees that Shuffle supplies will be short for an unspecified period of time and that customers seeking to buy a Shuffle via a retail store should be directed to Apple’s online store…

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Apple to widen pre-release iOS testing by roping in retail employees

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Apple will begin providing select retail store employees access to upcoming versions of iOS in order to widen its pre-release testing program, according to multiple sources. The program will begin in the near-future with an upcoming iOS release, perhaps version 8.2, which is slated to be released alongside the Apple Watch

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The best iPad, iPhone + Mac accessories at the 2015 CES

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There are thousands of new Apple accessories at the 2015 CES – so many that it’s hard sometimes to separate what’s truly cool from everything else. Starting with HomeKit-integrated accessories, here’s our running list of the best new iPad, iPhone, and Mac products 9to5Mac has seen at the show. We updated this article on January 9, 2015 – the final day of CES – to include our last batch of top picks.

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