TechCrunch Stories October 27, 2014

apple-pay

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 …  expand full story

TechCrunch Stories September 10, 2014

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 …  expand full story

TechCrunch Stories August 18, 2014

miui6

Not content with a blatant copy of the iPad mini and a smartphone called the Mi Phone, Xiaomi’s latest Android overlay – MIUI 6 – bears more than a passing resemblance to iOS 7. The flat icons, the icon screens scrolling above the fixed app tray at the bottom, the calendar, calculator, compass …  expand full story

TechCrunch Stories July 27, 2014

amazon reader

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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TechCrunch Stories July 4, 2014

beats

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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TechCrunch Stories June 27, 2014

aperture

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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TechCrunch Stories January 30, 2014

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 …  expand full story

TechCrunch Stories January 8, 2014

rear

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) …  expand full story

TechCrunch Stories November 21, 2013

macys

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 …  expand full story

TechCrunch Stories November 20, 2013

img_0101

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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TechCrunch Stories November 15, 2013

Apple Stores resort to pen and paper as point-of-sale outages continue

It’s not quite what you expect to see on those minimalist Apple Store tables: a stack of paper slips, a stapler and an old-school manual card-swipe machine – but that’s what some stores had to resort to after their Point Of Sale systems went down yesterday.

Store staff normally process sales with iPod Touches in cases which combine a cardreader with an external battery. Some customers were reporting that the system outage lasted several hours and affected their ability to collect their Retina iPad Minis, bought online with the Personal Pickup option.

The EasyPay self-service checkout app was reportedly still working, but Apple limits the value of transactions that can be paid for in that way.

Via TechCrunch

TechCrunch Stories November 12, 2013

Sapphire iPhone screens just might be cost-effective sooner rather than later

TechCrunch has an interesting piece in which it suggests that the sapphire crystal Apple currently uses in the Touch ID home button on the iPhone 5s might prove a cost-effective option for iPhone screens sooner than we thought.

Sapphire is very, very tough. Short of scraping it with your diamond ring, you’re unlikely to scratch it. But it’s also very, very expensive. A sapphire outer layer on an iPhone would likely cost ten times as much as the Gorilla Glass Apple uses at present.

But Apple recently struck a deal with sapphire manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies to boost production by 2000 percent, and GTAT just happens to have acquired a solar panel company that developed a new technique for slicing hard materials very thinly using an ion particle accelerator.

If the same technique can be applied to sapphire, and if it could be combined with a sapphire laminating system already patented by Apple, the cost could plummet.

Apple could drive the costs of sapphire sheets down incredibly low in comparison to the traditional method. It will be able to create many of these super thin sapphire sheets from the same amount of raw material it would take to make one full piece of sapphire cover glass. It could then laminate the assembly together in the way that it currently does iPhones […]

This, in turn, could mean sapphire cover sheets that are harder and tougher than standard glass materials on your iPhone years sooner than most analysts have predicted.

Those are two big IFs, so we’re not holding our breath, but it’s certainly an intriguing possibility.

TechCrunch Stories September 19, 2013

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.

Even cats can unlock the iPhone 5s with the TouchID sensor [video]

Amusing little tidbit from TechCrunch:

I tested a colleague’s hypothesis that you could register the identifying skin segments of your favorite furry friends for Touch ID, too.

The cat’s paw worked, and while it encountered more frequent failures than did a fingerprint, it was able to unlock the phone again repeatedly when positioned correctly on the sensor. Note that no other paw pads would unlock the device, and that cats essentially have unique “fingerprints” just like people, so this doesn’t make the Touch ID sensor any less secure.

I wonder if a rabbit’s foot would work?

TechCrunch Stories August 28, 2013

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.

TechCrunch Stories June 17, 2013

palo

ifoAppleStore (via TechCrunch) reports that Apple is building a new “big, visually stunning” flagship store in Palo Alto – in the Stanford shopping center, close to the store Microsoft opened last year.

This store design was completed in 2011 by Apple’s long-time architectural firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. It was approved by Steve Jobs about six months before Tim Cook assumed the position of CEO in August of that year. It took another year to refine the design and obtain building approvals. Demolition on the former building began late last year.

If you’re keen to get a preview of what Apple has planned for its retail stores, Palo Alto is reputedly the place to be …  expand full story

Instagram_logoJust as Apple introduced iOS 7 equipped with Instagram-like filters built-in to the redesigned camera app (although not for video), word has it Instagram is looking to move into Vine’s territory by adding video features in an upcoming update.  According to a report from TechCrunch, Facebook’s event later this week won’t focus so much on that rumored news reader, but more so on integration of a Vine-like short video feature for Instagram: expand full story

TechCrunch Stories January 28, 2013

Users of Twitter’s new Vine app greeted with porn as top Editor’s Pick

Update: Twitter said in a comment to BusinessInsider that the content was displayed as an Editor’s Pick due to human error:

A human error resulted in a video with adult content becoming one of the videos in Editor’s Picks, and upon realizing this mistake we removed the video immediately. We apologize to our users for the error.

Just a week after the popular photo-sharing app 500px was pulled from the App Store over concerns of nude photos and possible child pornography, the launch of Twitter’s new video-sharing app Vine is running into similar issues. Users began noticing pornographic videos were making their way to the service this weekend, but they were only viewable to users searching for pornography-related tags. That is arguably not as big of an issue as 500px (many apps—Instagram included—have similar problems), but Darrell Etherington at TechCrunch pointed out today that porn has somehow made its way to the top of Vine’s “Editor’s Pick”.

We confirmed, as highlighted in the screenshot to the right, that the pornographic content in question is displayed as the first thing in a new user’s stream upon launching the app. The post has since been removed, but this is clearly an issue for Twitter’s new video service, and it is something that highlights the larger conversation brewing around Apple’s App Store guidelines and adult, user-created content.

t.

TechCrunch Stories January 15, 2013

Belgian consumer group files complaint against Apple over AppleCare warranty practices

Apple agreed to comply with Italian regulators’ requests last year to alter AppleCare warranties in the country after being fined $1.2 million (and an additional $264,000) for “misleading consumers” regarding two-year warranties mandatory by European Union law. We expected to hear much more about AppleCare in other EU countries that also employ the mandatory, free, two-year warranty, and now Belgian consumer watchdog Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats has filed a complaint to escalate its case (via TechCrunch):

For many years warranty issues are at the top of the charts of complaints dealt with Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats. One of the recurring problems are the complaints about Apple. Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats found major problems fixed on the information provided by Apple and its authorized distributors regarding the legal guarantee, the commercial one year warranty, and the warranty extension through the “AppleCare Protection Plan” of 2 or 3 years.

In March 2012, consumer groups from 10 countries requested Apple make changes to its warranty policies after the case in Italy. The Belgian consumer group was one of them but filed a complaint today with local courts because “Apple remained deaf to the demands.”

During negotiations with Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, Apple ultimately changed its warranty policies on its website, terms and conditions, and even removed AppleCare from brick-and-mortar store shelves.

TechCrunch Stories January 1, 2013

Intel, like Apple, is having trouble getting content deals for its TV product, won’t be ready for CES

Adding to an earlier report, the Wall Street Journal today says that chip giant Intel’s TV initiative isn’t nearly ready for primetime. Intel, which has little background in developing consumer-friendly experiences, seems like a long shot at cracking the digital TV nut.

The Intel Plan:

Intel has pitched media companies on a plan to create a “virtual cable operator,” which would offer U.S. TV channels nationwide over the Internet in a bundle similar to subscriptions sold by cable- and satellite-TV operators, people familiar with the effort said previously. The company, besides expertise in chips for set-top boxes, has expertise in server technology that could help serve up video programming and other content.

Interesting idea…but not so fast, says the cable operators!

Persuading companies to license individual channels would require far higher fees than the companies currently receive, this executive said, noting that his company and Intel were far from reaching an agreement on financial terms.

But Intel has so far reached at least one content deal, one of the people familiar with Intel’s plans said, without identifying the partner.

One content provider does not a cable TV replacement make. And this is the problem not just for Google and Intel but also for Apple. How do you convince the cable companies to let you have content in a more consumer-friendly format that will make them less money and take their power position away?

Steve Jobs may have been able to convince the music industry to do so, but it is pretty clear Eddy Cue is having a hard time cracking the TV biz (Jobs’ bio notwithstanding).

TechCrunch Stories November 19, 2012

In July, a 10K filing showed that Apple acquired security company AuthenTec for $356 million. At the time, we noted Apple was presumably after the company’s various fingerprint-related technologies, while companies such as Samsung, Motorola, and others entered in deals with AuthenTec for its secure VPNs, encryption algorithms, and security-related products. Today, NFCWorld (via TechCrunch) reported Authentec has now sold its embedded security solutions division to NFC company Inside Secure. The sale would seem to indicate that Apple was indeed specifically after the company’s fingerprint and NFC solutions:

The sale suggests that Apple’s interest in acquiring Authentec lies with the company’s innovative combined fingerprint and NFC solution, which is not part of the division being acquired by Inside Secure, and will lead to renewed speculation that Apple will include NFC in future iPhones and other devices…. NFC and contactless chip provider Inside Secure is to acquire the embedded security systems division of Authentec, the fingerprint and secure solutions specialist which Apple agreed to buy for US$356m in July 2012. The transaction is valued at up to US$48m.

To get a hold of AuthenTec’s Embedded Security Solutions Division, Inside Secure will reportedly pay $38 million in cash and another $10 million “subject to completion of certain post-closing transactions.” Products the division is responsible for are currently used in hundreds of millions of mobile and networking devices worldwide, with customers ranging from Samsung, Nokia, LG, and Motorola to HBO, Cisco, and Texas Instruments. Last year, the division brought in sales of $25.3 million. expand full story

TechCrunch Stories October 19, 2012

Several reporting iPad mini will ship and hit stores Nov. 2

We still cannot confirm, but we heard whispers of a Nov. 2 iPad mini release date. This is based on several retail scheduling anomalies. As the announcement of the iPad mini approaches, TechCrunch, iMoreiFun, and Geeky Gadgets additionally claim Nov. 2 is when the 7.85-inch device will hit stores and ship to customers who pre-ordered. Geeky Gadgets reported:

Our source, who is someone close to a major UK retailer, and has been reliable in the past, has told us that Apple will start selling the new iPad Mini on Friday the 2nd of November, the device will be available in the US And UK on this date, possibly some other countries as well.

That would mean just a week and a half passing, if released on Nov. 2, after the announcement. Since it is close to the holiday season, a quick release may make sense.

[tweet https://twitter.com/9to5mac/status/258552702538240000]

Apple is holding a press event Oct. 23 to announce the iPad mini, 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, refreshed iMac (Retina unlikely), and Mac mini. More details as we get them.

TechCrunch Stories October 17, 2012

Earlier this month, iLounge and Macotakara reported that Apple made several changes to its MFi (Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod) policy that tightens control over manufacturers producing accessories. In its report, iLounge included word about a seminar in China where Apple plans discuss its policy change with manufacturers—talking specifically about Apple’s new Lightning technology. Today, thanks to a report by TechCrunch and a picture of the seminar’s program provided to us by a tipster (as seen above), we have learned more about the seminar. The conference will be held in Shenzhen, China from Nov. 7 to Nov. 9 to talk about the new standards.

With the new standards, Apple will have a strict control over the supply of Lightning pins that help power the Lightning connectors that MFi partners could build. Apple will only supply the pins to partners that the company has vetted to make sure its standards are met. Previous teardowns have already shown that what Apple has with its Lightning cables is not ordinary dumb cable technology.

As you can see in the program, Apple has a lot on the docket for those who attend. It will give manufacturers an insight into Apple Retail, how to design Lightning accessories, and the changes within the MFi program. Apple’s engineers will also assist with Wi-Fi, AirPlay, and Bluetooth. Once Apple has approved a company, it will sell them the Lightning pins in volume. According to TechCrunch, the pricing is “very fair when you consider the advance technology.”

Last year, at its MFi program that took place Dec. 7 to Dec. 9, Apple told developers to get busy building next-generation iOS accessories compatible with Airplay and support Bluetooth 4.0. As we now know, Apple has rolled out Bluetooth 4.0 to most of its devices and wants to make Airplay a standard for audio and video consumption.

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TechCrunch Stories October 14, 2012

Microsoft launching ‘unlimited’ Xbox Music tomorrow with an iOS app coming later

Microsoft announced this evening its new music service, called “Xbox Music”, that aims to compete with iTunes, Spotify and RDIO. The service is set to launch tomorrow for the Xbox 360 and Oct. 26 for Windows 8 (coming pre-installed) and Windows Phone 8 devices. The service will also launch as an iOS app shortly after, GigaOm noted:

But the biggest story to me is that Xbox Music will embrace Android and iOS. Jerry Johnson, general manager of Xbox Music, wasn’t able to tell me exactly when the apps for those two platforms are going to come out, but the sense that I took away from the briefing was that his team is working on making it happen sooner rather than later. Xbox Music on Android and iOS will look very much like Xbox Music on Windows Phone 8, which itself in many ways follows the style formerly known as Metro.

Microsoft’s service will be for limited hours of free streaming after six months, so Spotify might not need to worry just yet.

There is no word on what pricing iOS users will see, but Microsoft said it will offer a free ad-support version for Windows 8 device owners and a $10 ad-free plan for those wanting an ad-free experience.

More details are at TechCrunch.

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