CVS and Rite Aid Apple Pay blockade official as iOS and Android users unite in rare showing to fight NFC ban

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The NYT reports that Rite Aid has joined CVS in disabling Apple Pay as a payment method in its stores. Like CVS, Rite Aid is a member of the Merchant Customer eXchange (MCX) consortium promoting a rival mobile payment service, CurrentC.

Consumers are responding by threatening to boycott stores which disable Apple Pay, with more than 2,000 comments across several Reddit threads on the topic. Android users are joining in, as disabling NFC also blocks alternative mobile payment services offered by higher-end Android handsets …  Read more

Apple demonstrates just how quick & easy Apple Pay is to use [Video]

After launching its new mobile wallet service Apple Pay during yesterday’s keynote, the company gave demos afterwards, TechCrunch sharing a video.

The card you have registered with your Apple ID becomes your default card, but you can add others by using the camera on the iPhone 6 to identify it. The iPhone requests permission from your bank, and the card is then added to Passbook …  Read more

Amazon apparently set to launch Square-competitor in August as it develops biometric payment solutions

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Amazon could be preparing to launch its own mobile credit card reading hardware in the coming weeks, according to internal Staples documents hinting at such a launch that we’ve obtained. According to the documents, Staples stores will prepare next month to stock a new product called the “Amazon Card Reader” alongside existing card readers from Square, PayPal, and Staples’ own in-house brand. The small hardware, which will likely connect to smartphones to process payments, will cost $9.99, according to the Staples internal sales systems…

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Decline of music downloads continues as on-demand streaming audio up 50 percent

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Apple’s presumed plans for an on-demand music service as part of its Beats acquisition is looking increasingly well-timed as Nielsen data shows that U.S. on-demand music consumption climbed 50.1 percent year-on-year, while music downloads fell by 12 percent in the same timeframe.

“With On-Demand streams surpassing 70 billion songs in the first six months of 2014, streaming continues to be an increasingly significant portion of the music industry,” says David Bakula, SVP Nielsen Entertainment …

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Apple to replace Aperture and iPhoto with Photos for OS X early next year

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Apple has told 9to5Mac that that the company will be ceasing development of Aperture and iPhoto, offering Photos for OS X as a replacement, which was first shown at WWDC.

With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture. When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.

Apple says libraries will be able to migrate across to the new application when the application ships. Apple is working with Adobe to offer a upgrade path to Lightroom. As noted by TechCrunch, Apple will offer a Yosemite compatibility update for Aperture, but otherwise development has ended.

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Tony Fadell and his largely ex-Apple team to become Google’s core hardware designers

Google CEO Larry Page (centre) with Nest co-founders Matt Rogers amd Tony Fadell (photo: technologyreview.com)

Google CEO Larry Page (centre) with Nest co-founders Matt Rogers amd Tony Fadell (photo: technologyreview.com)

‘Father of the iPod’ Tony Fadell (right) and the rest of the Nest team will become Google’s “core hardware group,” working on a variety of hardware projects and given access to “as many resources as it needs,” according to an unnamed source cited by TechCrunch.

The new division will still work on hardware devices, but not necessarily thermostats or smoke detectors. In fact, Google would like Fadell to work on gadgets that make more sense for the company. Will it be a phone or a tablet? It’s unclear for now [...]

When it comes to budget, Google is willing to let the Nest team use as many resources as it needs. In other words, the company is getting serious about consumer hardware, and Motorola was just a false start …  Read more

Winner of the ‘most expensive iPhone case’ at CES is a cool – and hot – gadget

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Short of any solid gold or diamond-encrusted cases you might find for those with more money than taste, you are probably looking at the most expensive iPhone case on the market: the FLIR One, yours for $350.

The case is, however, a fully-fledged gadget in its own right: a thermal imaging camera. TechCrunch had a play with one, and reported that it has several different modes, making it suitable for use by you and I as well as those trained to read thermal images. It can, for example, be set to highlight as simple binary differences the hottest and coldest heat sources in an image (sample images below the fold) …  Read more

iBeacon goes mainstream with Macy’s roll-out, likely before it hits Apple Stores

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Apple’s iBeacon system is to get its first retail launch in Macy’s branches in Union Square, San Francisco and Herald Square, NYC, within the next few weeks, reports TechCrunch.

Apple will of course be using the system in its own retail stores, though likely after the Macy’s launch. Macy’s is already operating a closed trial of the system.

Offers now will be pinged to users right when they are walking past them, or past a department that contains products that users have shown interest in before. And for those who have opted in, the iBeacon technology will also automatically open the app and can trigger other actions when you enter a participating store, such as telling users how many loyalty points they currently have to redeem towards a purchase …  Read more

Apple releases Apple Store app for iPad, with image-centric design and new trends section

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For the first time, Apple has released an Apple Store app optimised for the iPad, via TechCrunch.  The app uses the now-standard iOS 7 colour scheme and design elements, focusing on white space and text. The app is a separate download to the iPhone app, but offers all the same functionality you would expect, although some of the location-based features for retail are absent due to the different use cases of the devices.

Imagery is the focus — Apple is trading heavily on its beautiful Retina-display equipped iPads to show of its store products.

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iPhone 5s sales go live, with 7-10 day shipping estimates in Australia, Chinese Apple Store quoting October delivery

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 17.19.18

Update:

In the UK, the iPhone 5s has just gone on sale. Shipping estimates stand at 7-10 days. At the time of writing, all models are expected to be delivered in the first week of October.

The iPhone 5s has just gone on sale in Australia. However, as has been noted several times, supply of the 5s is extremely constrained. As a result, Apple is already quoting 7-10 day shipping estimates for the device. The prolonged availability applies to all models and all colors. 5s cases are similarly low in supply, to a similar extent, quoting 3-5 day shipping times.

Supply issues seem to apply to all countries. In the UK, O2 has announced that they will have no 5s’ in stock, but will order it for when it becomes available. Via CZ on Twitter, for the Apple Store in Hong Kong, the 5s has already lapsed into October for shipping.

The iPhone 5s becomes available in the US at 12.01 Pacific Time tonight.

Thanks Sonny Dickson.

Apple buys data compression, mobile imaging and video firm AlgoTrim

Cortex-A15-smallAccording to Rapidus.se (via TechCrunch), Apple has purchased a Swedish firm called AlgoTrim for an undisclosed price. The small company specializes in image and video, specifically JPEG, compression techniques on mobile devices which allow faster processing of images on power-constrained mobile devices.

AlgoTrim™ develops advanced solutions for mobile devices within the fields of data compression, mobile imaging and video, and computer graphics.

These solutions are designed to excel in terms of high performance and small memory requirements, making them ideal for mobile devices. Many solutions offered by AlgoTrim are codecs that are the fastest on the market, for example, the lossless codec for general data compression and the imaging codecs.

Apple could use these codecs in its camera and image viewing and manipulation apps on iOS. It is probable that the cost of picking up the company and owning the technology outweighed the cost of licensing the technology over its hundreds of millions of devices. This also could be an “aquihire”.

Apple is no stranger to the Swedish technology market. It picked up Polar Rose in 2010, a face recognition company and C3 a Swedish 3D mapping company in the run up to its Maps product launch. Cupertino has been on a bit of a startup binge lately buying such companies as Embark and Matcha.tv.

Last year, AlgoTrim reported a revenue of 3.0 million USD, with an net income before taxes of EUR -1.1 million.  Until now, AloTrim has been focused mostly on Android development.

Update: The acquisition has been confirmed to TechCrunch:

Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.