US Stories May 4, 2016

In the middle of seemingly stalling profits and a general slowdown of the smartphone industry — like Apple‘s notable first quarter of YoY growth drop in yearsSamsung seems to be enjoying a moment of sunshine bathing.

Eleven months after losing the leadership to the Cupertino giant, the Korean manufacturer has climbed once again to the top of the US vendors’ list, as per a Counterpoint Research report (via Business Korea)…

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US Stories March 29, 2016

Nintendo’s first iOS game Miitomo will launch in US & other countries on March 31

Update: The Miitomo app is now available on the U.S. App Store.

The game is already available in Japan— that’s how Jeff managed to go hands-on in our first look video earlier this month— but today Nintendo confirmed that its first iOS game, Miitomo, will officially arrive in the US on March 31st.

The game isn’t exactly bringing over any of Nintendo’s very popular first party franchises to iPhones and iPads, but it does feature known Mii characters and, as we noted in our review, the release feels very much like a Nintendo title:

When you first start Miitomo, it’s immediately recognizable as a Nintendo title. It feels like someone took my Nintendo Wii and shrunk it down to fit inside of my iPhone 6s. The music and sound effects, most notably, are of the characteristic Nintendo style. The Miis themselves look just like the Miis on the game-maker’s handheld and home consoles. The writing — witty, with just a hint of corniness thrown in for good measure — is classic Nintendo.

Nintendo noted in its press release today that Miitomo was downloaded over a million times in the first three days after launch in Japan and it also managed to become the #1 most downloaded free app in both the App Store and Google Play.

While Nintendo didn’t mention other countries by name today, it did say that “several other countries” will receive the title on the 31st alongside users in the US.

Check out our review of the game from earlier this month to get a first look before it officially arrives in the US and other countries on the 31st.

US Stories February 22, 2016

Report: Apple Pay fees for Chinese banks half what they are in U.S.

Chinese site Caixin reports that Apple has agreed to take much smaller fees from banks in China compared to the US as the company this month launches its Apple Pay payments service in the country.

The deal with Chinese banks will see Apple get around 0.07 percent per transaction, according to the report citing unnamed sources, compared to approximately 0.15 percent it’s charging banks in the US.

US Stories January 15, 2016

Tim Cook Stage

Apple’s strong position on privacy and encryption has been at odds with the United States government’s pressure to step up its national security efforts in the wake of recent terrorist attacks across the globe. In short, iPhones are encrypted to protect customer data from prying eyes, and law enforcement agencies believe that gives criminals a safe haven for communication that can’t be traced.

The Obama administration including the former and current attorney general and FBI director have strongly voiced opposition to Apple’s position, and Tim Cook reportedly pressed the White House to back strong encryption as recently as this week. So it’s no surprise that Tim Cook and Apple came up at the end of last night’s Republican presidential debate hosted by the Fox Business channel where at least one candidate was asked to address his position on the subject.

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US Stories July 27, 2015

Apple bringing its Maps vehicles to France, Sweden & more US/UK cities

Apple has announced an expansion of its Apple Maps vehicle program, a fleet of vans equipped with advanced sensors collecting data for an improved Maps experience. Among the new locations, Apple will be bringing the vehicles to France and Sweden for the first time, while it also plans to survey a long list of new cities in the US and UK where it’s already started surveying.

We first reported on the project back in May, noting that Apple was gathering data to reduce its reliance on third-parties, including getting Google Street View-type images of storefronts and other 3D imagery.

For France, Apple lists the following areas already scheduled for surveying: Hauts-de-Seine, Paris (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th), Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne.

For Sweden, the areas the company plans to visit include: Malmö in Skåne County, and Stockholm (Bromma, Enskede-Årsta-Vantör, Farsta, Hägersten-Liljeholmen, Hässelby-Vällingby, Kungsholmen, Norrmalm, Rinkeby-Kista, Skarpnäck, Skärholmen, Spånga-Tensta, Södermalm, Älvsjö, Östermalm).

Apple has also added a number of new areas in the UK and US that it plans to survey from August 17th to August 30th next month. The full list is on its website here along with other dates scheduled for data collection in various locations.

US Stories April 24, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 09.52.35

In coordination with the Watch’s worldwide release, Apple has ramped its marketing campaign further with three new ads that are airing starting today. The ads titled ‘Rise’, ‘Up’ and ‘Us’ focus on everyday activities being enhanced by the Watch. Unlike some of Apple’s product-focused marketing, this is more in the style of iPad commercials.

The ‘Rise’ ad focuses on morning activities, such as using the Watch to wake you up or answer text messages in the breakfast queue. ‘Up’ is focused on the Workout and Activity apps, highlighting the ‘Stand’ notifications and related fitness features. ‘Us’ focuses on communication highlighting Digital Touch sketch, tap and heartbeat sharing features as well as the controversial animated emoji.

All three videos are embedded after the break …

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US Stories July 16, 2014

Google Wallet iOS app adds gift cards, invoicing, ability to send money from debit cards for free

 

Google today announced new features for its Google Wallet app for both iOS and Android that makes it easier to manage gift cards and request and send from debit cards.

Like Google Wallet already allowed for loyalty cards, the app now lets users store, redeem, and check gift card balance:

US Stories April 8, 2014

Amazon says it has now passed Apple and Hulu in streaming video usage

Amazon has officially passed Hulu and Apple in streaming video usage in the US, according to a press release it sent out today citing recent research from Qwilt. Amazon also announced that video streams from its Prime Instant Video service have tripled since this time last year.

Qwlit’s report shows Amazon experience a 94% traffic volume increase of users consuming video since last year and that includes streams from the service to just US broadband subscribers. The report doesn’t specify, however, what video content exactly is being tracked from Apple. Amazon also experienced growth of almost 300% in certain markets. In March of this year, only Netflix and YouTube were able to capture more online video traffic in the US:

Today, only Netflix and YouTube produce more total online video traffic in the US. Amazon”s traffic volumes, as measured by Qwilt in March of 2014, increased by 94% over the previous 12 months. In some US operator networks, between March 2013 and March 2014, Amazon”s streaming video traffic increase was nearly 300%.

Amazon’s press release today follows the announcement of its new Fire TV set top box that will be a direct competitor to Apple TV, Chromecast, and similar streaming hardware. The $99 hardware– another sign its really getting serious about video streaming services– provides access to Amazon’s Instant Video streaming services in addition to popular services like Hulu and Netflix, as well as Android games and an optional game controller.

US Stories February 20, 2014

Google testing app that lets you automatically join WiFi hotspots, plans to roll out hotspots in US/Canada

Engadget reports that Google has been testing a new iOS and Android app at its Mountain View campus recently that would allow users to automatically join public WiFi hotspots without going through the usual log-in process. Google is apparently considering using the app in connection with its recently announced deal to provide WiFi to 7000 Starbucks locations in the US:

According to our sources, the search giant has built Android and iOS versions of an app that automatically authenticate and connect to its free hotspots inside Starbucks stores or wherever they are available. Google is currently trialling the Android app at its Mountain View HQ and has plans to offer an iOS app too.

Perhaps more interesting is Engadget’s claim that Google has “specific plans” to roll out more Google WiFi hotspots in the US and Canada as part of the ongoing “Google WiFi” effort it first launched in Mountain View back in 2006.

The report adds that the app could link to a user’s Google account and “install a dedicated security certificate on their device to automatically authenticate devices when a connection is available.” Engadget says an expanded partnership with Boingo is also a possibility:

Google may also expand its partnership with Boingo, extending logins to locations where it’s footing the bill for free wireless.

Google plans to have its WiFi rolled out at all 7000 Starbucks locations by the end of the year.

(image via ABC)

US Stories February 10, 2014

Mesa-Arizona

If you were wondering why Apple chose Mesa, Arizona, as the location of its latest manufacturing plant in the U.S., a story today from Bloomberg explains that Apple, not shy about going after tax breaks, has taken advantage of many perks put in place by the suburb’s mayor:

So last year, when Apple was searching for a place to house a factory that makes a stronger glass for its gadgets, Mesa pulled out the stops. The city, which was ravaged by the 2007 housing crash, offered tax breaks, built power lines, fast-tracked building permits and got the state to declare a vacant 1.3 million-square-foot facility that Apple was exploring a foreign trade zone. With unemployment high, such are the lengths that towns are willing to go to to lure the world’s most valuable company.“Any time you have a company like Apple come in and invest in your area, especially with this type of operation, it’s significant,” said Smith, who triumphed late last year when Apple spent $114 million to buy the factory. The mayor celebrated by placing bowls of green and red apples in City Hall.

Smith added that original preparations were done before the city even knew it was Apple, but later Apple requested additional perks before moving in and even got construction permits expedited. Among the other advantages of choosing Mesa for Apple was a $10 million building grant from the Arizona Commerce Authority and an agreement with the city’s power company to build solar and geothermal installations and a new power substation for the plant: expand full story

US Stories January 30, 2014

If you jump back to calendar Q3 2013, Apple was falling behind Samsung in US smartphone marketshare with just 34% of the market compared to Samsung’s 38%. The theory at the time was that US buyers were holding out for the new iPhones that launched in September. Fast forward to last quarter, the three month period ended December 31, and that theory appears to be holding up. Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) just sent over its latest reports showing Apple has once again taken the lead thanks to a strong holiday quarter of iPhone sales.  expand full story

US Stories December 16, 2013

Apple: Beyonce breaks iTunes Store record w/ 828,773 albums sold in 3 days

Apple today announced a new record for the fastest selling album ever on the iTunes Store with the latest release from Beyonce selling 828,773 albums in its first three days of release. The new ‘visual album’ featuring 17 videos was released unexpectedly late last week as an iTunes exclusive.

BEYONCÉ is infused with 14 new songs and 17 visually stunning, provocative videos shot around the world from Houston to New York City to Paris, and Sydney to Rio de Janeiro, all before the album’s release. The album represents Beyoncé’s biggest sales week ever.

The self-titled album is Beyonce’s fifth and also takes the record for first week album sales in the US with 617,213 albums sold since its release on Dec. 13. Compare those numbers with the 310k copies Beyonce’s last studio album “4” sold during its first week.

Billboard previously reported that the album had sold 80,000 copies in just three hours on its first day of release.

US Stories December 11, 2013

Behind the scenes look at Apple TV app development w/ the new Bloomberg channel

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Unlike its developer program and vast ecosystem of apps on iOS and Mac, there’s not much we know about Apple’s strategy for content on the Apple TV. There’s been a lot of talk that a much rumored refreshed Apple TV set top box— or perhaps even the rumored full-fledged TV set— might also come alongside a more open developer platform with app distribution.

For now, however, Apple is slowly and quietly behind closed doors making deals with select content partners that are building apps for the platform. How is Apple working with developers to build and approve these apps? Does it have an Apple TV SDK that could in theory be released to all developers? With Bloomberg TV today becoming the latest app to launch on the platform, we’ve talked with the people that built the app to get some insight into the Apple TV development process. expand full story

Bloomberg launches on Apple TV globally with 24/7 live news stream, on-demand content, iOS integration & more

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Following Apple’s steady release of new content and features for its existing Apple TV platform in recent months, this week it adds yet another as Bloomberg becomes the first channel to live stream business news 24/7 to Apple TV customers. We spoke with Bloomberg’s head of mobile Oke Okaro who told us all about the new Apple TV app.

The majority of the content you’ll find in the new app is the same Bloomberg TV content you’ll find on its website and in its mobile apps but specifically optimized for the larger screen. That includes a live stream of business news, on-demand content with a mix of full TV show episodes and clips, and a special live stream that will appear only for events and breaking news. While there is similar news programming already on the Apple TV through apps like The Wall Street Journal and SkyNews, Bloomberg will be the first to have a 24/7 live stream of business news. That’s compared to the WSJ app which often only live streams content on certain hours throughout the day. It’s also going beyond the other news apps by offering all of its content for free in full-length form in addition to integration with its iOS apps coming in a future update. expand full story

US Stories November 22, 2013

Apple Stores start selling Retina iPad mini to walk-in customers as regional carriers launch cellular models

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Regional carriers are starting to announce availability for cellular models of Apple’s new Retina iPad mini just as the company today started offering the device to walk-in customers.

Bluegrass Cellular announced today that it is now offering the iPad mini Wi-Fi Cellular models in-store and online. Available on the carrier’s website now starting at the usual $530 for the 16GB model, the carrier is also offering all three models (16GB, 32GB, and 64GB) on its no-contract “Freedom, Expanded” plan. That allows customers to make 12 monthly payments to get the device they want with the ability to trade-in and upgrade to a new device after a year. That plan will run $26.50/month for the 16GB model on Bluegrass, $31.50/month for the $630 32GB model, or $36.50/month for the $730 64GB model. The carrier appears to only have Space Gray models of the device available, at least online, and the Freedom Expanded plans are only available in-store. Another regional carrier, C Spire Wireless, will begin selling the Retina iPad mini over the next week. UpdateU.S. Cellular has also begun cellular iPad mini with Retina Display sales today on its website.

In other Retina iPad mini news, we’ve just received word Apple has just started selling the device to walk-in customers in its retail stores following an initial launch for Personal Pickup orders only.

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US Stories October 24, 2013

How to get your free iWork apps for Macs purchased after Oct. 1

When Apple unveiled its updated iWork suite during its iPad Air event earlier this week, it also confirmed that it would be making the apps free for all new Mac purchases. That means new Macs shipping with Mavericks would allow users to download Pages, Keynote, and Numbers– previously $20 each– for free from the Mac App Store. That offer also extends to Macs purchased on or after Oct. 1 and yesterday Apple made an Up-To-Date Program available on its website for those that purchased qualifying Mac.

Apple has instructions on its website for applying for the Up-To-Date Program, which requires users to enter their Mac’s serial number, purchase date, and provide Apple with “an electronic copy of a dated, itemized sales receipt indicating the marketing part number(s) of the qualifying product(s) purchased.” Apple will then send codes to customers within 24 hours of confirming the purchase that can be redeemed on the Mac App Store to download the apps.

For those that purchased between Oct. 1 and Oct. 22, you’ll have to apply to the program by Nov. 21. Purchases made after Oct. 22 will have 30 days to qualify.

Apple also says that the program is only for the United States (50 states and the District of Columbia) and Canada, but it’s unclear if it will have similar programs for customers in other countries.

US Stories August 21, 2013

AT&T’s LTE coming to 50 more parts of the USA by the end of the year

AT&T, which claims to have the fastest and most reliable LTE service, is planning to expand its coverage to 50 more parts of the USA by the end of the year. This is expected to boost access from 225M people at present to 270M by the end of 2013.

The new areas are:

1. Fairbanks, AK 2. Dothan, AL 3. Selma, AL 4. Redding, CA 5. Durango, CO 6. Pueblo, CO 7. Tifton, GA 8. Waycross, GA 9. Kauai, HI 10. The Big Island, HI 11. Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA 12. Twin Falls, ID 13. Lewiston, ID-WA 14. Decatur, IL 15. Kankakee-Bradley, IL 16. Peoria, IL 17. Paducah, KY-IL 18. Alexandria, LA 19. Lake Charles, LA 20. Lewiston-Auburn, ME 21. Battle Creek, MI 22. Jackson, MI 23. Joplin, MO 24. Poplar Bluff, MO 25. Rolla, MO 26. Brookhaven, MS 27. McComb, MS 28. Natchez, MS-LA 29. Kalispell, MT 30. Greenville, NC 31. Jacksonville, NC 32. Fargo, ND-MN 33. Elmira, NY 34. Utica-Rome, NY 35. Portsmouth, OH 36. Sandusky, OH 37. East Stroudsburg, PA 38. Pottsville, PA 39. Abilene, TX 40. Amarillo, TX 41. Longview, TX 42. Marshall, TX 43. San Angelo, TX 44. Tyler, TX 45. Port Angeles, WA 46. Appleton, WI 47. Fond du Lac, WI 48. Oshkosh-Neenah, WI 49. Gillette, WY 50. Sheridan, WY

Over the past five years, AT&T invested nearly $98 billion into operations, and claims to have invested more into the U.S. economy than any other corporation, getting top-ranking in the Progressive Policy Institute’s list of U.S. Investment Heroes.

US Stories July 9, 2013

Google brings voice back to Gmail w/ new group chat features, free calls to US & Canada from other countries

From 9to5Google:

When Google rolled out its new unified Hangouts messaging service, some users were disappointed that the new experience within Gmail removed the ability to place free calls within the US and Canada. Google previously confirmed that the feature would be returning and today it announced on its Gmail blog that it is rolling out the free calling feature to Gmail Hangouts and also adding some new features.

More at 9to5Google.com

US Stories June 28, 2013

Apple continues to grow as top smartphone vendor in US during May

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Research firm comScore is out today with its usual report covering U.S. smartphone subscriber market share for the three month period ending in May. Over the last three months Apple has gained in both categories including ‘top smartphone OEMs’ and ‘OS usage’, continuing its lead as the top smartphone manufacturer and growing its share of the market by platform.

The previous three month period had Apple at 38.9% of the market, making it the number #1 smartphone vendor in the US over second place Samsung. In May, Apple continues that lead by increasing its share 0.3 percentage points to 39.2% of the market. That’s significantly higher than the 23% Samsung grabbed despite growing 1.7 percentage points during the quarter. In a close race for third place is HTC with 8.7%, Motorola with 7.8%, and LG with 6.7%, all of which dropped less than a percentage point since last quarter.

When it comes to the market by OS usage, Android is still on top, growing 0.7 percentage points to 52.4% this quarter. Apple experienced slightly less growth at 0.3 percentage points to capture 39.2% of the market up from its 38.9% share last quarter. That means the majority of the growth, once again, comes at the expense of BlackBerry and Microsoft. expand full story

US Stories June 4, 2013

Report: Apple continues lead as top smartphone vendor in U.S. during April

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ComScore today reported its numbers for smartphone subscribers in the U.S. for the three month period ending in April with Apple experiencing the biggest gains in both categories. The main theme of the report is much the same as we heard in its January and February reports– Apple is up and gaining at the expense of Google and just about everyone else.

When it comes to market share by platform, comScore reports that Google continues its lead with 52.3% (down 0.3 percent since the January quarter), while Apple experienced a slight gain of 1.4 percentage points increasing from 37.8% to 39.2%. That’s compared to BlackBerry at just 5.1% (down from 5.9% last quarter) and 3.0% for Microsoft (down from 3.1%).

Apple also captured the biggest gain for smartphone subscribers by OEM, positioning itself as the No.1 smartphone vendor in the U.S. with 39.2% of the market compared to Samsung’s 22% during the three month period. Filling out the final three positions is HTC, Motorola, and LG: expand full story

US Stories May 22, 2013

Penguin agrees to pay $75 million in consumer damages following eBook price fixing case

We already knew back in December that Pearson, along with a handful of other publishers had decided to settle with the U.S. Department of Justice in the high-profile Apple ebook price-fixing case. Today a statement from Peason’s Penguin unit confirms that it has now also reached an agreement that will see the publisher pay $75 million in consumer damages to the US State Attorneys General on behalf of people that were overcharged due to the alleged price fixing:

Penguin has reached a comprehensive agreement with the US State Attorneys General and private class plaintiffs to pay $75 million in consumer damages plus costs and fees to resolve all antitrust claims relating to eBook pricing.  Penguin has also committed to the State Attorneys General to abide by the same injunctive relief as previously agreed in a separate settlement with the Department of Justice.

In anticipation of reaching this agreement, Pearson had made a $40m provision for settlement in its 2012 accounts. An incremental charge will be expensed in Pearson’s 2013 statutory accounts as part of the accounting for the Penguin Random House joint-venture.

US Stories April 24, 2013

NFL ’13 iOS app updated with live coverage, second-screen experience & push notifications for 2013 NFL Draft

NFL Enterprises has updated its NFL ’13 app today to offer live coverage and a new second screen experience to a number of users directly through the app for the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft. NFL Network subscribers on COX, Cablevision, and FiOS in the US will have access to the live coverage on their iPads, while all users will be able to access a second-screen experience dubbed “Draft Extra” to enhance the event.

Other updates include a new custom push notifications for players, teams, and rounds, as well as additional live coverage for the Draft. Verizon customers can check out Draft Live on the NFL Mobile App.

What’s New in Version 3.10

– Follow the 2013 NFL Draft Live! COX, Cablevision and FiOS customers with NFL Network can sign in to watch NFL Network on their iPads (US Only). All other customers can watch NFL.com/LIVE at the Draft. -Draft Xtra a second-screen experience designed to enhance the event – Custom push notifications by player, team and round – Plus all NFL.com Draft coverage – News, analysis and mock draft coverage – Verizon customers can watch the Draft Live on the NFL Mobile App

US Stories April 8, 2013

Apple hiring software engineers to work on fingerprint tech at Authentec’s Melbourne Design Center?

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Fingerprint-scannerA new job listing on Apple.com could add fire to the rumors that Apple is considering including fingerprint technology in upcoming devices.

The job posting seeking a software engineer to write “low-level code to configure and control hardware” is the only listing on Apple’s site located at the “Melbourne Design Center” in Melbourne, Florida. Not only is the position looking for someone familiar with testing various sensors with LabTool and FA software, but Melbourne is also the home base of Authentec, the company Apple acquired fingerprint technology from last year for around $365 million.  expand full story

US Stories April 4, 2013

Apple vs Samsung war moves to retail as Best Buy plans to open 1,400 ‘Samsung Experience Shops’

When we heard late last month that Samsung planned to open Apple-style ‘store-in-store’ locations within Best Buy retail stores it was still only rumor. Today Samsung and Best Buy have made things official for its plans to roll out 1,400 “Samsung Experience Shops” in Best Buy retail stores across the United States. Best Buy plans to have the store within a store Samsung shops up and running by the summer with 900 scheduled to open by May:

The image above shows what a typical Samsung Experience Shop inside Best Buy will look like next to a current Apple store-in-store location.

9to5Google has the full story.

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