Hundreds of businesses in London are about to flip the switch on payments via iBeacons

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In Brixton, South West London, hundreds of businesses will soon integrate iBeacons as part of one of the first real-world networks for mobile payments using Apple’s Bluetooth LE iBeacon tech

In Brixton, businesses introduced a local currency in 2009 that eventually switched from paper into mobile payments by text. Around 250 businesses in the area accept the currency, which is meant to keep the money in the community and support smaller independent local businesses. By the starting of next month, the currency will have its own mobile app called Brixton Pound, and iBeacons will make it easy to automatically prompt users for payments. The Brixton Pound organization teamed up with Dingo for the payment solution and kontakt.io for the iBeacon hardware and integration: Read more

Angela Ahrendts’ first memo to Apple Retail employees: ‘together we will continue to enrich lives and communities’

Burberry Group Plc CEO Angela Ahrendts At The London Stock Exchange

After being on the job for approximately a month and a half, new Apple Senior VP of Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts has sent her first memo to Apple Retail employees. In the memo, Ahrendts discusses Apple’s culture, her visits to stores thus far, and her plans for the future.

“I have spent most of my time getting to know and understand the many functions and teams in Cupertino, along with our short and long term initiatives. I was thrilled to meet many of you at stores in San Francisco and London this month, and I’m looking forward to Tokyo and the Omotesando opening,” Ahrendts said. “Every couple of weeks, we will be visiting stores across the world to see and learn what we do best and hear your thoughts about opportunities ahead,” she added.

We previously profiled Ahrendts plans for transforming Apple retail with a new end-to-end sales experience, mobile payment initiatives, and an increased emphasis on the Chinese consumer. Today’s memo from Ahrendts to employees reiterates many of these points… Read more

Angela Ahrendts’ plan for the future of Apple Retail: China emphasis, mobile payments, revamped experience

Ahrendts succeeds Jobs, Johnson, and Browett (Graphic by Michael Steeber)

When Ron Johnson finalized his decision to move from leading Apple’s retail strategy to become the Chief Executive Officer of J.C. Penney, the executive jumped in his car to drive to Steve Jobs’ home and notify the Apple co-founder in his living room of the decision. During his short car ride to Jobs’ Palo Alto home in the summer of 2011, Johnson likely thought about how he would explain his choice. But what Johnson likely did not imagine is that it would take nearly three years for Apple to find a true new leader for the stores the duo created.

In one of current Apple CEO Tim Cook’s first major missteps, the long-time operations maestro hired John Browett, formerly of Dixons, to run retail. Browett’s hire was immediately met with skepticism from Apple customers and retail employees, but Cook defended the hire and called the British executive the “best [choice] by far” to run Apple’s retail division. In the six months that he ran retail, Browett cut back on employee hours, initiated layoffs, and fell out culturally with the rest of the Apple executive team.

John Browett visiting Apple Store

Alongside Scott Forstall, Browett was ejected from the Cupertino-based company, leaving Tim Cook and head-hunting firm Egon Zehnder, again, with the tall task of finding a suitable replacement for Ron Johnson. As the man who ran Dixons, the United Kingdom equivalent to Best Buy, Browett was in many ways built in the image of Johnson. Johnson ran Apple Retail for nearly a decade, and before that he was an executive at both Target and Mervyns. But unlike Browett, Johnson fit into Apple’s culture and was close with both Jobs and Cook throughout his tenure.

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Apple meeting with UK ad agencies in preparation for iTunes Radio rollout

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Apple appears to be readying for an UK iTunes Radio launch in the near future. As indicated by this tweet, Apple’s director of iAd Paul Wright has recently been visiting media marketing agencies to discuss iAd in relation to iTunes Radio.

Bloomberg said that Apple was planning to launch in the UK in ‘early 2014′ last October, but so far this has not happened several months into 2014. Although many people have seen iTunes Radio sporadically appear on their devices in recent months, it is has only officially expanded to Australia beyond the US launch alongside iOS 7.

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Apple bringing iTunes Festival to the US for the first time at SXSW, for five nights in March

Image via The Loop

Apple has announced that it is bringing the iTunes Festival to the United States for the first time, after being a UK-only event since it began in 2007. The festival will be held at SXSW from March 11th to March 15th, at the Moody Theater.

The show will feature chart-topping acts from Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Pitbull and ZEDD with more announcements to follow. Just like the UK event, anyone can stream the event for free from their iOS devices, Macs as well as Apple TV.

In the press release, Cue said that the event is a way of sharing Apple’s love of music with customers.

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Imaginative use of iBeacon gives bar patrons free access to Newsstand magazines

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A London-based digital publishing company is trialling use of Apple’s iBeacon technology to provide bar patrons with free access to digital versions of two magazines in Newsstand, reports TechCrunch.

The way it works is that the bar buys a subscription, and one or more iBeacons (each little larger than a quarter) unlock the content for customers within range. On iOS devices, the whole process is completely automatic. Once the customer leaves the location, the content is locked again and becomes available for purchase as normal …  Read more

Apple to hold London satellite stream of Oct. 22 event, private stream for employees

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Earlier today, Apple announced that it will be holding its fall event on October 22nd. The event will take place at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California. However, like in some past years, Apple will hold a simultaneous event to cater to media not located in the United States.

For its September 10 iPhone event, Apple held simultaneous satellite streams in Berlin, Tokyo, and Beijing. For the upcoming event, the stream will be held in London, according to members of international media invited to the stream. The London-based event will begin at 6PM local time and it will be held at the Kings Place Hall. This hall fits a few hundred people.

It is likely that the London stream will also offer an opportunity for local journalists to try out the new devices. We’re expecting an iPad mini with Retina display, redesigned full-sized iPad, new Macs, and talk of OS X Mavericks, so there will be plenty in store for the demo area…

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Apple announces Tech Talks for 2013, focus on iOS 7

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In April 2013, when WWDC sold out in a matter of minutes, Apple said that they would hold tech talks later in the year. Apple has now sent out the details for these events, with a clear focus on getting developers up to speed with iOS 7.

The talks are going to be held in San Francisco, New York, Tokyo, Shanghai, Berlin and London. Unusually, Apple is holding two events in each city this year, one for app development and one dedicated to game development. Topics revolve around the new API’s in iOS 7, to further encourage developer adoption of the new technologies. The talks are being held across October, November and December.

Registered developers must apply by September 27th 2013, if they want to attend. Developers can attend either the app developer day or the game developer day, not both.

Watch the full Burberry London fashion show shot entirely with an iPhone 5s (Video)

Apple announced last week that Burberry would be capturing its London fashion show that took place yesterday entirely with its new iPhone 5s, and today Burberry has posted the full video of the event. There’s no mention whether or not the full 15 minute long video above has been retouched after being shot on the iPhone, but Apple and Burberry say the entire show, including photos and video, was “shot exclusively on iPhone 5s.”

We’ve seen a few shots leak throughout the week already, but Pocket-Lint has an inside look at how Burberry’s photographers shot the show using 14 different iPhones and an interview with Burberry’s creative director Christopher Bailey: Read more

Apple announces September iTunes Festival in London starring Justin Timberlake, Thirty Seconds to Mars, others

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Apple has announced that it will hold its annual iTunes Festival in London during the month of September. The event will occur nightly during that month at the Roadhouse in London. Apple says that popular artists Justin Timberlake, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Jack Johnson and Jessie J will headline the event. The event will be streamed nightly to iOS devices, iTunes on computers, and the Apple TV:

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Internal Apple video documents Apple Store philosophy

Washington Square Films (NYC) gave us a rare look at one of the internal videos that Apple has shown its retail store employees. This one is obviously over a year old, with Ron Johnson at the helm (the date says 7/7/2011).

The video is a pretty impressive piece of work from director Peter Sillen for something that never aired publicly. Among other interesting tidbits, the video shows a store mock-up inside Covent Garden (London) in 2008 before construction with Apple execs examining design elements.

The video seems to be the type you might see on TV. And, with the departure of Ron Johnson (just guessing here), it might have been scrapped without stable store leadership to fill in. Bob Bridger, Apple’s vice president of Retail Development, gets significant ‘face time’, as well.

Update: The video was taken down by Apple. We’ve found another mirror in China embedded above. Here’s a mirror. Here’s another.

Thanks, Gary! Read more

How to watch official BBC Olympics coverage from the US

For Americans, coverage of the Olympics in London is mainly limited to NBC’s video stream offerings. Unfortunately, the network’s coverage, especially online, is receiving a ton of complaints as witnessed by the #nbcfail hashtag on Twitter. Fortunately, there is a way to bypass NBC altogether and take advantage of the BBC’s official live stream coverage from inside the U.S. of almost every major event. There is not much to it; all you have to do is use a DNS routing service to get around the BBC’s region blocked streams. Below is a quick guide courtesy of Lifehacker that uses the Unblock Us service. It is free for a week, and then it is $5 for the month.

First, you will have to sign up for the service on its website. Once that is finished, you can configure the service for BBC using the steps below:

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