Apple Black Friday: (RED) charity gift cards on select purchases, but much better deals at Best Buy, Target, Walmart & others

Apple Store RED Black Friday

Apple announced last night its campaign to support World AIDS Day 2014 with a series of App Store promotions and plans to donate a portion of Apple Store sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to the Global Fund to support the fight against AIDS. Specifically for November 28th, or Black Friday, Apple shared that select Apple products will include a special edition (RED) iTunes gift care with a percentage going toward the Global Fund, and now we know exactly which products will qualify for Apple’s (RED) promotion on Black Friday.

Supported products include the iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, and iPhone 5c as well as each iPad mini, iPad Air, and iPad Air 2 which will include a $50 iTunes gift card (as well as the donation). Customers picking up an iMac, Retina iMac, MacBook Pro, Retina MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air will receive a $100 iTunes gift card. Finally, Apple will include a $25 iTunes gift card with the purchase of an iPod nano, iPod touch, Apple TV, or Beats headphones or speakers.

While it’s nice to see Apple use the Black Friday shopping event to promote (RED), its deals are admittedly less charitable than some other retailers if you’re trying to save some actual cash on your Apple or Beats purchases rather than picking up credit for iTunes or the App Store.

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New Chase ad for Apple Pay focuses on small businesses, features Jack Antonoff’s Bleachers band

Ad Age reports that Chase is running its first TV ad for Apple Pay, focusing on use in small businesses, and featuring Fun lead guitarist Jack Antonoff’s side indie band Bleachers.

The ad, out of creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi, features members of indie pop band Bleachers roaming Los Angeles in the hours leading up to a performance. The musicians make purchases along the way using their Chase Freedom credits cards — but through Apple Pay on their iPhones, not the physical cards.

Chase said that Apple was heavily involved with the ad …  Read more

Apple defends safety of Siri use while driving after university study rated it highly distracting

 

carplay

Apple has responded to a University of Utah study which criticized the safety of using Siri while driving, stating that it didn’t test the company’s in-car versions, Siri Eyes Free and CarPlay.

Of the six speech-recognition systems tested by researchers, Siri was found to be the worst for driver distraction. The study hooked up drivers to heart-rate monitors and other equipment designed to measure the degree of stress experienced by drivers while carrying out a range of voice-command tasks, giving each system a distraction rating from 1 (best) to 5 (worst) …  Read more

Hands-on with Pinć, a $99 VR headset for iPhone 6 w/ Minority Report-style user interfaces (Video)

Pinc-VR_headset

Last week I met up with the people behind Pinć (Pinch), an under development VR headset that utilizes Minority Report-style user interfaces opposed to the mostly gaming experiences we’ve seen thus far from the competition. There are also a few other big differentiators for Pinc: it doubles as an iPhone case, uses hand gestures tracked by the iPhone’s camera for input, and includes a full SDK for developers built on Unity. Read more

Apple to donate portion of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to Global Fund to Fight AIDS

Apple World AIDS Day 2014

Apple has just announced a significant campaign to support World AIDS Day 2014 as part of its long-running (RED) program. The company will donate to the Global Fund to fight AIDS based on proceeds from its new Apps for (RED) section on the App Store, as well as a portion of online and retail sales made on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Read more

KGI: Apple to sell over 71M iPhones in holiday quarter, followed by sub-50M to start 2015

KGI-iphone-2014

KGI Research’s Ming-Chi Kuo, one of the few analyst/firms with a respectable record on Apple forecasts, updated its iPhone sales expectation numbers this weekend for the holiday quarter and Q1 of 2015.

Strong iPhone shipments in 4Q14. We forecast overall iPhone shipments will surge 82% QoQ to 71.5mn units in 4Q14, given robust demand for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 Plus supply shortage implies not only robust demand, but also confirms our concerns regarding constraints within the supply chain. We believe 4Q14 iPhone shipments will be stronger if supply chain constraints are eased.

Kuo notes that the iPhone 5c and 4s which are still sold in emerging markets [like Virgin Mobile in the US?!] will be discontinued in 2015 after promotions that ironically will improve low end sales numbers in Q1 2015. Subsequently, average price per device sold will also drop significantly for Apple in Quarter 1… Read more

HandBrake Open Source video transcoder v0.10 released with hundreds of new features including H.265 and VP8 encoding

handbrakeThe developers of Handbrake just announced the 0.10 update to their extremely popular and useful Open Source video transcoding product. Originally focused on ripping DVDs, the product now can be used for transcribing many different types of files/codecs to almost any other. Today’s headliner updates include H.265 and VP8 encoding.

  • The LibAV AAC encoder is now the default as FAAC has been removed.
    • This encoder is adequate for most, but until it improves a bit further, we have enabled support for the FDK-AAC encoder also.
      • This FDK option is a temporary measure until the LibAV encoder improves.
      • Note that FDK-AAC is much slower and will likely bottleneck the encode process, but will produce better quality audio.
  • H.265 encoder
    • Using x265 v1.4
    • This encoder is still early in it’s development, so is missing many H.265 features and optimisations.
  • Added VP8 Encoder (using libvpx)
    • Available in MKV files only.

Hit the download button in Handbrake or download here. Full change list below:

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GarageBand, Star Walk, Threes and more apps go (RED) until December 7th, all proceeds going to charity

A range of apps have been updated today with limited-time promotions, in aid of the (RED) charity. Apple has participated in the event with an update to GarageBand, offering a limited-edition In-App Purchase that makes over 300 new drum, guitar, synth and bass loops available as an In-App Purchase. All proceeds from the sale of this expansion pack go directly to the (RED) charity, which sends the money to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The In-App Purchase, which is priced at $0.99, will be available until December 7th.

Other notable developers are also participating, many of which including exclusive additional content. For example, Threes has been updated, with a fresh red theme and updated icon. Monument Valley has added one special (RED) level, Star Walk has added exploration of Mars, The Red Planet. The popular drawing app, Paper, has also participated with a red application theme and icon. The ‘Over’ app has made special edition font and artwork packs available for purchase. djay and Heads Up! are also taking part in the event. Like GarageBand, 100% of proceeds of app and IAP sales go to the (RED) fund.

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Review: Jawbone UP 24, a smart fitness band that gets you up 24/7

Screenshot 2014-02-11 20.59.55

The Jawbone UP bracelet has been on the market for three years receiving improvements every year. The Jawbone UP 24 received a major update: Bluetooth LE. Initially to sync the data onto the phone, the user had to plug the band into the phone’s headphone jack and wait, typically about fifteen seconds, for the data to sync into the app.

Now, since the UP 24 has Bluetooth LE capabilities, it is compatible with the iPhone 4S and later, the fifth generation iPod Touch, the third generation iPad and newer as well as the iPad Minis. Jawbone has made the UP 24 to be compatible with Android phones. Bluetooth LE allows the band to automatically connect with the Jawbone UP app.

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This week’s Apple Pay arrivals: Sephora, tickets.com, Disney Store app, Square coming in 2015

apple-pay

Apple is steadily rolling out more support for banking and card issuer partners since first launching its new Apple Pay payments service last month. The other part of the equation is retailers and app developers supporting the service and this week saw the rollout of additional support including announcements from Sephora, venues that utilize tickets.com, and the Disney Store iOS app. In addition, Square is today confirming that its previously announced under development bitcoin and NFC capable register will arrive with Apple Pay support sometime in 2015. Read more

Apple granted final approval for $450 million ebooks settlement despite judge’s concerns

iBooks Mac iPad iPod

Following preliminary approval it received in August, Apple has been granted the final court approval it needed in its $450 million ebook settlement, according to a Reuters report.

During a hearing in Manhattan, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote approved what she called an “unusual” accord. It calls for Apple to pay $400 million to as many as 23 million consumers if the company’s appeal of a ruling finding it liable for antitrust violations is unsuccessful.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote previously expressed concern over the proposed settlement citing a clause in the agreement that she called “most troubling”, but today called the settlement agreement “within the range of those that may be approved as fair and reasonable.” Read more