Apple Pay pays off for Google Wallet too: users double and payments grow by 50%

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While Apple Pay has grabbed all the attention in the mobile payment field, with the Google Wallet service launched back in 2011 having failed to make the same kind of splash, it appears that Google may be benefiting from the publicity generated by Apple. Sources cited by arsTechnica report that Google Wallet service has seen the number of users almost double, with a 50% increase in weekly transactions during the past couple of months …  Read more

Claimed prototype of iPad mini 2 goes on sale on eBay with starting bid of $5000

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A claimed prototype of the cellular model of the iPad mini 2 is being auctioned on eBay, with a starting bid of $4,999. No bids had been placed at the time of writing. The reason bids go for so much on these prototypes is that security experts, hackers and jailbreakers like to understand the software that’s loaded on them to get a better idea of what’s going on behind the scenes on iOS devices.

The seller, whose 95.8% feedback rating shows only low-cost sales previously, cites the lack of serial number and FCC markings, together with SwitchBoard software, as evidence that the device is genuine.

For sale is a Apple iPad Mini 2 Cellular Prototype without FCC logos, and is a 64 bit A7/M7 chip/processor. Apple normally does not let these devices out of their possession and you can see from the photos, it is running a version of iOS 7 Apple’s SwitchBoard software and is in the true developer mode. There is no FCC markings on the rear/back of the device or a model/serial number 

There is no information on how the device was acquired. The location of the seller is shown as Charlotte, North Carolina.

That iPhone 6 Prototype we told you about last month is also for sale again on ebay with bids around $6100 currently.

The rest of the Prototype Mini photos can be seen below. Read more

Apple seeds first iOS 8.1.1 beta: bug fixes and performance boosts for older devices

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Apple tonight has released the first beta of iOS 8.1.1 to developers. This update is packed with bug fixes, according to the release notes. Most notably, “this release includes bug fixes, increased stability and performance improvements for iPad 2 and iPhone 4s.”

This marks the first time in recent history that Apple is seeding a beta for a patch update. A new seed for the Apple TV is also available. Apple released the first OS X Yosemite 10.10.1 beta earlier today. iOS 8.1.1 is the follow-up to iOS 8.1, which includes Apple Pay support, SMS forwarding to Yosemite, and iCloud Photo Library Beta.

Apple is also developing iOS 8.2 and iOS 8.3 for release next year.

Read more

Starwood Hotels begins rollout of iPhone/Apple Watch virtual room keys, Hilton to follow (Video)

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Starwood Hotels has officially launched its SPG Keyless service, allowing guests to use their iPhone (and, in the Spring, Apple Watch) to unlock their hotel doors, bypassing the front desk. The boutique hotel group first announced the project back in January.

1. After booking a reservation at a keyless hotel, SPG members are invited to opt-in to SPG Keyless and register their phone through the SPG App.

2. Approximately 24 hours before arrival, the guest receives his/her room number and Bluetooth key via the app.

3. Upon arrival at the hotel, the guest can completely bypass the front desk (where available) and go directly to his/her room.

4. Then, after ensuring his/her Bluetooth is enabled, the guest simply opens the SPG App, taps the smartphone on the door lock, waits for the green light and enters the room.

The service goes live today at three Starwood brands: Aloft, Element and The W. Read more

Apple’s next iPhone 6 rollout starts Nov. 14th, includes Brazil, Colombia and Philippines

 

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If you’ve been eagerly waiting for the iPhone 6 to go on sale in your country, you may be in luck. While Apple has not yet made an official announcement of the next phase in its rollout of the iPhone 6/Plus, we’ve so far spotted that the new phones are scheduled to go on sale in at least ten (and counting) new countries on November 14th. Local carriers have so far announced the November 14th availability of the new iPhones in: Brazil, PhilippinesColombia, Costa Rica, Chile, UruguayGuatemala, Lebanon, Kenya and Nigeria, with Malaysia also looking set to see the phones around the same time …

Read more

Verizon follows AT&T w/ increased data for $80 & $100 More Everything plans

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Verizon is increasing data for customers on $80 and $100 More Everything plans, the company announced today following a similar announcement from AT&T. The carrier is now offering 10GB for $80 and 15GB for $100 up from the 6GB and 10GB those tiers previously offered. Verizon notes that the deal isn’t restricted to new customers, but it is a limited time offer available through its website. Read more

U.S. court rules that phone passcodes are protected by the 5th Amendment, but fingerprints aren’t

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While Touch ID makes sense for most of us as a secure and convenient way to protect our phones, there is one group of people who may want to stick to good old-fashioned passcodes: criminals.

A Virginia District Court has ruled that while phone passcodes are protected by the 5th Amendment, which says that those accused of crimes cannot be compelled to incriminate themselves, there is no such protection against using a suspect’s fingerprint to unlock a phone …  Read more

Trade-in service Gazelle begins selling certified pre-owned iPhones and iPads

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Gazelle has long been a popular choice for conveniently turning a used iPhone or iPad into cash, and today the electronics trade-in service announced its own certified pre-owned store for buying “gently used devices” at a discounted price. While the pre-owned store lists categories including iPhone, cell phones, iPads, and tablets, Gazelle inventory is currently limited to pre-owned Apple devices including iPhone 4 and up, iPad 2 and up, and iPad mini. Read more

Apple’s market-leading tablet share falls to 22% against growing cheap media consumption options

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Worldwide unit shipments for the top 5 tablet plus 2-in-1 device vendors over last five quarters

New data from IDC tracking worldwide tablet shipments shows that Apple has maintained its lead during the third quarter despite “a decline in overall iPad shipment volume in 3Q14.” Specifically, Apple grabbed 22.8% of the market with 12.3 million shipments during the quarter compared to 14.1 million units and 29.2% share in the year ago quarter. That compares to Samsung at 18.3% of the market and 9.9 million units shipped up from 19.3% and 9.3 million units shipped in the third quarter last year: Read more

Android Wear Devices won’t be iOS or Mac compatible this year

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Google invited us to check out their new line of Nexus products running Lollipop earlier today.   The Motorola Nexus 6 is about the size of the iPhone 6 Plus with a slightly bigger screen and thicker/heavier profile. On the other hand, the HTC Nexus 9 is smaller than the iPad Air with a 9-inch display and stereo speakers. Both run Android 5.0 Lollipop which has a new Material Design. The new products will go up against Apple’s iOS devices for global electronics consumers’ holiday shopping money.

However, one set of devices won’t be competing for Apple users’ shopping dollars. An Android Wear project manager told me that there were no current plans to make Android Wear compatible with iOS but that they were continuing to evaluate other platforms because they wanted to get Wear devices into as many hands as they could. When I pressed and said something to the effect of “if ever there was a time to sell these to Apple users, it was the holiday season before the Apple Watch is released”, the product manager said something akin to  “Our Christmas lineup of announcements is set and over”.

On one hand, it doesn’t seem like it would be that hard. After all, Google eventually got Google Glass to work on iOS devices.

Microsoft, on the other hand, just announced its new Fitness Band which will work with Android, iOS and of course Windows Phones.

Macworld today suggested that you take a $99 Pebble for a spin to see if it could act as a smartphone gateway drug until users get their Apple Watch fix next year.  Read more

Apple reportedly in ‘preliminary contact’ with distributors to bring iPhone to Iran

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is in early talks with “Iranian distributors” to bring the iPhone to Iran:

Apple Inc. is in preliminary contact with Iranian distributors about a possible entry into the country should Western sanctions ease sufficiently, people familiar with the matter said.

The report notes that financial and banking sanctions as well as political tension has thus far prevented companies like Apple from conducting business in Iran, but points to a policy change in May that lifted the ban on sales of “consumer communications technologies” in the country. The report goes on the claim that “senior Apple executives” have already met with “potential Iranian distributors” at Apple’s regional headquarters in London. Read more