Apple joins Confederate flag boycott, removes apps that use flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways [U: Statement]

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[Update: Apple has confirmed the policy with us. Statement below.]

[Update #2: Reports are now surfacing that Apple is now reinstating some apps with the Confederate flag to the App Store. The company is working with developers who use the Confederate flag, but not in a mean-spirited manner.]

[Update #3: TouchArcade specifies that affected games are able to change their app icons and App Store screenshots to avoid removal.]

A couple of days after Zac Hall called for Apple to join large retailers like Walmart, Target, Sears, Amazon and eBay in withdrawing from selling items featuring the Confederate flag, Apple appears to be working on doing just that.

Touch Arcade noticed that many Civil War games like Ultimate General: Gettysburg and the Hunted Cow series have all disappeared. An App Store search for ‘Confederate’ on Tuesday found plenty of games featuring the flag, while the same search today appears to show only apps dealing with the history (such as the reference work shown) above. All of the games shown in Tuesday’s search (below) have been removed from the App Store …  Read more

Apple Pay survey finds many retailers still resistant over data control & costs

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Apple has invested a lot into its Apple Pay mobile payments solution since its launch last fall. Since launching in October, the payment method is already accepted at more than 700,000 retail locations, according to the company. Reuters today has published a new report in which Apple says that Apple Pay will be accepted by half of the top 100 merchants in the United States by the end of this year, with more planned in 2016. Currently, a fourth of the top 100 retailers support Apple Pay.

According to a retailer that Reuters contacted, Apple has been pushing its mobile payment service aggressively to retailers. The retailer, which remained anonymous and has no plans to accept Apple Pay, said this:

“They have been pushing hard and it’s been that way for months. They have called and tried to persuade us even after we communicated our decision to them.”

That same retailer has no plans to accept Apple Pay because not even a “small percentage” of its customers have requested it. Nevertheless, the research found that retailers accepting Apple Pay are generally happy with the service, and its customers are too…

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Roundup: The best iPad, iPhone, Mac, iTunes, Beats, and other tech Black Friday deals

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Black Friday can be absolutely overwhelming. Every retailer is vying for your attention and money. That’s why we’ve vetted each and every major Black Friday ad to find only the very best deals.

Remember, this master list was curated from pre-announced deals. We fully expect many retailers to hit us with surprise deals throughout the next week. That’s why it’s important you follow 9to5Toys on Twitter/Facebook, and sign-up for our email newsletter. The 9to5Toys team is going to be working around the clock to bring you the Black Friday deals you can’t afford to miss.

Continue on for the definitive Black Friday 2014 ‘Best Of’ list… Read more

Report claims Walmart will never accept Apple Pay because it perpetuates high credit card fees

Walmart Apple Pay

Walmart is one of several high-profile retailers that belong to MCX, a consortium of retailers that have partnered together to create their own mobile payments service called CurrentC. Due to this commitment, the big-box retailer has opted against supporting Apple Pay in its stores. A new report offers a big reason why: high credit card transaction fees.

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Walmart on why it doesn’t accept Apple Pay: ‘What matters is that consumers have a payment option that is widely accepted’

Apple Pay Banks

Apple Pay launched last week with widespread support at over 220,000 stores in the United States, although Walmart alongside CVS and Rite Aid are among some of the high-profile retailers that have not embraced the new mobile payments service. Now, Walmart has provided official comment as to why it doesn’t accept Apple Pay at its stores. Read more

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

As Apple Pay launches, Eddy Cue says “a lot of work to do,” predicts slow retail take-up

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On the day that Apple Pay goes live, SVP Eddy Cue has told the WSJ that the company “has a lot of work to do” on the service, suggesting that initial take-up may be slow – with in-app purchases making up the largest share of transactions in the short-term.

We’re trying to do something that I think is a game changer and it requires a lot of people to play together. There’s a lot to do here and we have a lot of work to do, but it should be huge.

Although the list of retailers who have committed to Apple Pay looks impressive, it is far from comprehensive, with some big names missing – including the largest retailer in the US, Wal-Mart …  Read more

Walmart temporarily cuts 16 GB iPhone 5c price to $.97, iPhone 5s now $79

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Walmart has cut the prices of both of the current iPhone models substantially in what looks like some early prep for the iPhone 6, which is expected next month. As noted by Engadget, you’ll be able to get the 16 GB model of the iPhone 5c for only $.97. No, that’s not a typo. The phone is now selling for ninety-seven cents.

The 16 GB iPhone 5s also got yet another price cut, this time down from $99 to $79. Both of these prices are only temporary and will climb back to their usual points in 90 days—unless of course a newer model comes along and knocks the retail price of these handsets down a few bucks.

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GE integrates iBeacons in new LED lighting fixtures rolling out in Walmart & other retailers

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Up until now most retailers have been deploying Apple’s iBeacon technology by purchasing small standalone Bluetooth beacons or using iPad terminals that act as beacons. Now, GE is introducing its next-generation LED light fixture that packs in a combo Bluetooth LE/Visual Light Communication chip for iBeacon functionality allowing retailers to cut costs and avoid purchasing standalone beacons from a company like Estimote. It’s already got one massive customer about to roll out the iBeacon lighting fixtures: Walmart announced back in April (before iBeacon support was announced) that it plans to roll out these same new GE lighting fixtures to stores worldwide as part of its switch to LED. Read more

Walgreens & Walmart testing iBeacons, Motorola Solutions launches iBeacon marketing platform

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Walgreens-owned drugstore chain Duane Reade announced today that it’s updating its iPhone app with support for iBeacons it recently installed in 10 of its New York city locations. It and Walmart are just two of the latest big name chains said to be testing the technology, while Motorola Solutions announced today its own indoor location platform that includes a combination of Bluetooth iBeacons and Wi-Fi based features.

Like other implementations that we’ve seen in retail and grocery stores, Duane Reade has installed the Bluetooth iBeacons in order to beam offers, coupons and product info to customers in proximity that have the company’s iPhone app installed: Read more

You can now buy iPad Airs at the Apple Store (refurb) for $419/16GB or $509/32GB with 1 year warranty

From 9to5Toys.com:

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lm-tile-refurbipad_LANG_ENThe Apple Store just got filled with refurbished iPad Airs in a few varieties starting at $419 for 16GB and $509 for 32GB in both Space Grey or White. That’s $80/$90 off the new price and the lowest price we’ve seen for iPad Airs with Apple’s 1 year AppleCare warranty (we saw them new for $430 last week). Apple certified refurbished products look and act like new, come with all manuals and accessories, a new outer shell batter and come in a new white box.

Walmart still has refurbished iPad Airs for $399 but with a more dubious 90-day non-Apple warranty. Meanwhile, if you are after new iPad Airs, Staples currently has them for $50 off across the board.  Read more

iPhone pricing war heats up as Walmart offers 5s for $119 and Target launches iPad trade-in promotion

From 9to5Toys.com:

iPhone 5s iPad Combo

Update March, 14: Target just let us know it’s taking an additional 1o% off iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display in addition to the trade-in offer and gift cards mentioned below. The extra 10% off is available through Target’s Cartwheel app.

New Apple promotions from Walmart and Target may be enticing enough for holdouts to finally upgrade to the newest iPhone and iPad… Read more