Verizon will sell HBO Now directly to wireless and FiOS subscribers as Apple’s exclusivity expires

HBO NOW iPhone iPad iPod touch 21When Apple and HBO announced the launch of the HBO Now streaming service, they said that their app would be exclusive to Apple devices for three months. Now, a quarter year later, that agreement has expired and other providers are looking to distribute access to the television network’s streaming app.

One of the biggest names looking to get into the HBO Now market is Verizon. The mobile carrier and FiOS provider announced today that it will be bringing the service to its 100 million customers…

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UK Apple Pay now available for HSBC and First Direct customers

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Following the launch of Apple Pay in the UK two weeks ago, Apple is continuing the rollout with the addition of two major banks, HSBC and First Direct. Customers who have credit cards or debit cards with those banks can start using Apple Pay now. As with other UK Apple Pay transactions, there is a £20 transaction limit at most retailers apart from those with upgraded payment terminals that support higher-value contactless purchases. The £20 limit is getting raised to £30 in September.

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Pandora’s ‘Sponsored Listening’ rewards ad interactions with commercial-free playback

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After a pilot of its new “Sponsored Listening” advertisements last year, streaming music service Pandora Radio announced today that it’s rolling out the feature to all advertisers and listeners in its mobile apps. The feature rewards users with an hour of ad-free, uninterrupted listening as long as they first interact with an ad for at least 15 seconds. Read more

Intel’s upcoming Skylake processors promise improved low power performance & 30% longer battery life

Intel Skylake

Intel’s upcoming processor refresh with Skylake appears to be promising for Mac users awaiting a significant performance upgrade. Internal Intel slides leaked by the website FanlessTech describe the year-over-year advancements and performance improvements from Broadwell to Skylake chips. As Apple is expected to include Skylake processors from Intel in refreshed hardware later this year or early next year, these specs give us a preview of what is likely coming to the Mac’s performance.

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IDC: Apple snatches 3% of smartphone users from Samsung

Worldwide Smartphone Market Posts 11.6% Year-Over-Year Growth in Q2 2015, the Second Highest Shipment Total for a Single Quarter, According to IDC - prUS25804315 2015-07-23 11-00-04

IDC has just released its smartphone market share data for Q2 2015, and at least one thing is clear: Samsung is still struggling, and Apple is still doing really well. The Korean company’s smartphone market share dropped from 24.8% to 21.7% year-over-year, a 3.1 percentage point drop. Conveniently, while other manufacturers made gains as well, Apple’s numbers are up about the same number — 2.4 percentage points year-over-year to 14.1%… Read more

Apple’s 2015 Back to School deal: free Beats Solo2 headphones with Mac purchase

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Apple is today launching its Back to School promotion for 2015. This year, it will give away a free pair of Beats Solo2 headphones with the purchase of an eligible Mac.  Customers must either purchase an iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac Pro with education pricing to qualify, including build-to-order configurations. The Mac mini does not participate in the deal.

Alternatively, customers can upgrade for an additional $100 to a pair of wireless Beats Solo2 headphones, rather than the usual $299 price. The announcement is not yet being advertised on Apple.com apart from a small mention on its rebates page. It is surprising that there appears to be no Back to School promotion for iPads this year, despite Apple pushing the tablet into education markets.

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Spotify focusing on content discovery through playlists following Apple Music’s launch

Screenshot via Re/code

Screenshot via Re/code

With custom playlists at the center of Apple Music’s discovery experience, Apple’s biggest streaming competitor Spotify is also focusing its efforts on playlists for its latest feature called Discover Weekly. It’s not exactly a “me too” feature, though, as Apple’s and Spotify’s approaches each differ in how playlists are created. While Apple highlights having human editors curating its featured playlists, Spotify is basing its new feature around listening behavior to deliver weekly recommendations… Read more

Researchers are developing apps to diagnose coughs, sleep apnea, & detect bipolar episodes

ResearchKit iPhone

First pitched by Steve Jobs in 2007 as “an iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator,” the iPhone has since evolved into a medical device of sorts as software has gotten smarter and sensors have become more advanced in recent years.

Apple embraced this with iOS 8 and the rollout of HealthKit, a framework which allows medical and health apps to share data with each other and your doctors with your permission. Apple’s open source ResearchKit took it a step further by allowing developers to turn apps into scientific health and medical research tests.

Scientific American recently profiled three smartphone apps in development that point to how the iPhone could become even better at monitoring our health. The apps in development aim to determine what a patient’s cough means, diagnose sleep apnea, and even predict a bipolar episode before it starts… Read more

Apple releases new, faster, iPod touch with 8MP camera and 128 GB option, new Nano/Shuffle colors

 

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As we reported this morning, Apple has today launched a new version of the iPod touch, featuring a 64-bit A8 CPU. This breaks a long run of neglect for Apple’s cheapest iOS device, which last received an update way back in 2012. It will be a huge leap in performance over the previous iPod touch which featured an A5 SoC. Both the front and back cameras have been improved, with the back shooter now featuring 8 megapixels of resolution.

The new iPod touch is also available for the first time in gold matching the iPhone and iPad in addition to new dark blue and pink case options. The iPod touch is also getting a storage bump at least at the higher end — there is now a $399 128 GB model. The base $199 iPod touch remains the same with 16 GB of onboard storage, the 32 GB model is $249 and the 64 GB version is $299.

There are also updates to the iPod shuffle and iPod nano, although these are merely cosmetic changes to fascia of the products. The shuffle and nano now come in dark blue, pink and gold variants.

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Mozilla blocks Flash in Firefox browser as Adobe issues emergency patch for latest security exploits

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It’s been a rough week for the fate of Adobe’s Flash Player plugin. Yesterday we told you about Facebook’s security chief pushing Steve Jobs’ anti-Flash message and calling on Adobe to announce an end-of-life date for the plugin, and today a major web browser has opted to actually block Flash to protect users from security issues. Mozilla said today that it is temporarily disabling Flash by default until Adobe is able to address recent exploits discovered in the plugin… Read more