New iTunes Pass credit refill service now available in United States and several other countries

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Yesterday Apple rolled out its new iTunes Pass service to Japan, allowing users to use a Passbook card to add credit to an iTunes account from an Apple Retail Store. Starting today, the offer is also available in the United States and Australia. Users in Canada, Germany, and the UK are also reporting seeing the feature, though it’s not officially listed on Apple’s website for those countries just yet.

To take advantage of this new program, you need to use the iTunes Store app on an iOS device to obtain an iTunes Pass. You can get one of these by tapping the “Redeem” button at the bottom of the home page within the app. To use the card, you can visit an Apple Retail Store and ask a specialist to help you add credit to your account. The specialist can then scan the barcode on the Passbook card to immediately add credit to your account.

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Apple debuts iTunes Pass in Japan, allows Passbook-based iTunes credit refills at Apple Stores

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Apple today has launched an interesting new service for iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore users in Japan with iPhones and iPod touches. The new service, called iTunes Pass (no, not that iTunes Pass), allows users to go to an Apple Store in Japan, purchase credit in-store for the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore, and have that money immediately applied to the Apple ID account instead of needing to receive a gift card and enter a redemption code…

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Rumor: NFC, wireless charging, improved LTE slated for iPhone 6

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New high-resolution photos surfaced over the weekend showing what is expected to be the much thinner iPhone 6 following a report from Venture Beat that corroborates several other claims that the next generation iPhone will feature a larger display than previous models. Included in that report are also claims that Apple will opt for implementing NFC (near field communication), wireless charging, and improved LTE in the next iPhone refresh expected later this year…

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Could Apple buy Square to accelerate its mobile payment plans?

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Re/code is reporting that both Apple and Google have considered making acquisition offers for payments company Square, with CEO Jack Dorsey said to favor a sale to Apple.

In the last year, both Apple and Google have considered making acquisition offers for Square, according to industry sources familiar with the situation [...]

[Dorsey] believes, sources said, that his company’s design aesthetic and values match up much more closely with Apple than Google …

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This is Healthbook, Apple’s major first step into health & fitness tracking

Seven years out from the original iPhone’s introduction, and four years past the iPad’s launch, Apple has found its next market ripe for reinvention: the mobile healthcare and fitness-tracking industry. Apple’s interest in healthcare and fitness tracking will be displayed in an iOS application codenamed Healthbook. I first wrote about Apple’s plans for Healthbook in January, and multiple sources working directly on the initiative’s development have since provided new details and images of Healthbook that provide a clearer view of Apple’s plans for dramatically transforming the mobile healthcare and fitness-tracking space…

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Some mockups and more about iOS 8’s upcoming Healthbook app and the ‘iWatch’

In January, we exclusively detailed a major upcoming Apple initiative: Healthbook. Healthbook is the working codename of  an app currently planned to ship with iOS 8. It is an app that stores and reads health and fitness data from wearable devices (such as the sensor-laden “iWatch” Apple is developing).

Since our initial report, some more speculation and mockups have emerged online about the app. Above are a pair of mockups posted to Behance earlier today. The mockups follow some of the details presented in our original article:

The “Healthbook” application is said to take multiple user interface cues from Apple’s own Passbook app, which is software for storing loyalty cards, coupons, and other materials normally stored in physical wallets.

The new health and fitness application’s interface is a stack of cards that can be easily swiped between. Each card represents a different fitness or health data point. The prototype logo for “Healthbook” is similar to Passbook’s icon, but it is adorned with graphics representing vital signs.

According to sources, the mockups are “vaguely” the right idea. Of course, Apple is likely testing multiple different user-interfaces for this software, and since we are several months out from an official introduction, things can and likely will change (even drastically)…

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iWatch + iOS 8: Apple sets out to redefine mobile health, fitness tracking

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Apple has its sights set on another industry ripe for reinvention: the mobile healthcare and fitness world. Apple currently plans to release a new version of the iPhone operating system this year with health and fitness tracking integration as its headline feature, according to sources briefed on the plans. Apple’s work on such an operating system likely indicates that Apple is nearing the introduction of its long-awaited, sensor-laden “iWatch,” which sources say is well into development…

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Photos+ debuts on iPhone with EXIF info support, improved grid view, more

Way back in May, Justin Williams’s Second Gear teased an unannounced app via Passbook using an in-house system called Pit Pass. The Passbook pass updated to reveal the icon and name of the app released by Second Gear today: Photos+.

What the app does is really simple but useful in a big way. Photos+ displays your images from your Camera Roll and other albums found in Photos.app, but it takes a different approach to displaying thumbnails and most importantly includes EXIF info like timestamp and location hidden in the native photo browser…

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Review: Studio Credence leather & felt book-style iPad case (and iPhone sleeve)

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While I may be known for my addiction to all things anodised aluminum, I also have a love of natural materials, wood and leather especially. My MacBook Pro and MacBook Air both travel in BookBook leather cases (reviewed here by Jordan), so when Studio Credence announced a book-style case for the iPad, I decided to take a look.

First impressions

Studio Credence is clearly going for a bit of a rustic look. The packaging is undyed cardboard, with the case itself in a muslin-type drawstring bag. Open this, and what you have inside is a very similar approach to the BookBook range …  Read more

New quick app switching & other concepts show options on the table for iOS 7 [Videos]

With the recent departure of longtime iOS chief Scott Forstall, many expect some big changes in iOS 7. Not only is Jony Ive taking over design responsibilities related to iOS, but also Apple is increasingly coming under criticism for its aging core iOS apps and highly requested features already available on other platforms that it has yet to implement. We discussed some of the big software features iOS 7 might have in store, but today we present a roundup of the best iOS 7 concepts we could find starting with a new one from the creator of jailbreak tweak Auxo.

Sentry, the original designer behind the popular Auxo jailbreak tweak, yesterday posted the new Quick App Switching concept above (via iFun). While Auxo provided a screenshot of running apps integrated into the iOS multitasking tray, the concept above takes a different approach and aims to add speed to the app switching process.

This next concept comes from YouTube user imjeanmarc and shows a tray accessible from the lock screen, providing quick toggles for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc.:

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Can Apple get away with another “S” iPhone?

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There have been many rumors this year about what upgrades Apple will include in its anticipated annual iPhone refresh. Most agree Apple will move to release two iPhones, but there is some debate about what those phones will be.

Rumor has it that Apple is working on a low-cost iPhone that will do away with the current iPhone design and instead use a new plastic case with a curved back similar to previous iPods. Despite being a less expensive device, that could make things even trickier for Apple to impress with an iPhone 5S upgrade that is largely expected to retain the “old” design of the currently shipping iPhone 5. The devices from competitors are making things even more difficult for Apple’s expected “S” upgrade. Rumors of a 4.8-inch iPhone prototype that recently surfaced don’t seem likely for the next iPhone, but that hasn’t stopped mainstream media and analysts from reporting that Apple is losing out on iPhone sales as consumers opt for larger screen devices. However, that might now be the case, at least not in the United States, with Strategy Analytics and NPD estimating Apple beat Samsung to become the No.1 phone vendor in Q4 2012. Will consumers want or expect a larger screen on the next iPhone, or will Apple’s usual minor refresh suffice?

What did past S upgrades have? Read more

Tweetbot for Mac, Turnplay, Batman: Arkham City, Kayak Passbook support, 25% off ANY Aspyr title, more

Turnplay: Based on the classic Technics SL1200 turntable, which sold more than three million units worldwide, Turnplay is a new app aiming to bring a realistic turnable experienced to iPad. The app features pitch control, full realistic record control, and 33/45 buttons. The app is on sale for 50% off (99 cents) to celebrate its introduction.

The world’s most popular vinyl turntable which sold over 3.000.000 copies worldwide is now available on iPad!

Tweetbot for Twitter 1.1 (for Mac): The Tweetbot for Twitter Mac App Store app gets a big update today that brings new global hot keys for new tweets and “show/hide”, an “All Tweets” option for notifications on 10.8, keyboard shortcuts for Email, Tweet, and Read Later, and much more. Tapbots are also listing a ton of fixes in version 1.1 on the app’s iTunes page.

- New global hot keys for show/hide and new tweets available in preferences
– New “All Tweets” notification preference available (10.8 only)
– If you pin timeline to top in preferences it will now also pin other non-streaming columns to the top (searches, lists, etc)
– Added support for visual sync marker
– Keyboard shortcuts for Read Later and Email Tweet
– Trends now autorefresh if used in a column
– Clicking menu bar item rows will now open main window if needed. Will also go to correct space if main window is on a different space/desktop
– Moom and Tweetbot are now better friends

Kayak for iOSKayak version 24.0.0: Following an update to the pro version last night, Kayak’s free iOS app now games the same features including Passbook and Reminders support, a new itinerary management tool, the ability to book car rentals, as well as updated sharing options and hotel booking screens:

Edit events in Trips, our itinerary management tool.
View trips that have been shared with you.
Simpler, prettier, faster, better hotel booking screens.
Passbook support for trip events (iOS 6 required).
New ways to share travel info: Twitter, Facebook
Save searches in iOS Reminders (iOS 6 required).
Book rental cars directly with KAYAK.
Performance improvements and bug fixes.

Avengers Initiative version 1.05: Read more