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Google this afternoon announced an update to its Search apps on both Android and iOS that includes voice search support for three addition languages. In a blog post, the company announced that the app can now understand French, German, and Japanese. In addition to being able understand the new languages and give text results, the Search app can also now give spoken answers back in those languages.
To try it out, simply tap the microphone in the search box and ask for anything you’re looking for. If you need some coffee in Munich, just say “Wo bekomme ich Kaffee in München?” to get a list of local options. Wondering what the height of the Eiffel tower is? Get a quick answer by asking, “Quelle est la hauteur de la Tour Eiffel?”. Maybe you need to know who invented the transistor ? Try asking in Japanese for “トランジスタを発明したのはだれ？”
Google says it will continue to work on adding even more languages to its Search app and that this is just the beginning of its efforts.
The Google Search app update is available for free in both the iOS App Store and on Google Play.
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We’re in the thick of the holiday season and that means lots and lots of gift buying for our family and friends. I’ve been using a number of apps on my iPhone and iPad to smooth out this year’s gift buying experience. Check out my app recommendations below…
This first app seems obvious on the surface, but I can’t tell you the number of times that friends and family have asked me how to get a product in stock at an Apple Store without gambling on its availability and been saved by this app.
The Apple Store app allows you to easily see product availability for many items and have them reserved for you when you arrive at the store. It also breaks down when you need to order specific items in time for holiday shipping.
While the Apple Store app is primarily for iPhone users, Apple recently added an iPad-optimized version to its catalog, but the iPhone version currently offers more functionality. Apple is also giving away a free holiday playlist for US customers in its Apple Store app this week.
Apple recently made iPhoto (along with a number of other apps) free for new device owners, and with that change came a number of new features borrowed from the desktop software. iPhoto now allows you to order 8×8 inch or 10×10 inch hard cover photo books as well as a number of custom size photographs including auto-sized panorama prints. These gifts can be highly personalized and sentimental, and they’re surprising affordable for the quality Apple provides.
iPhoto for iOS is compatible with iPhone and iPad and offers a number of editing and sharing features as well. If you haven’t purchased a new iOS device recently, you will notice the app is still $4.99 in the App Store.
Amazon is becoming more and more of a staple in my holiday gift buying routine, and now with its iPhone and iPad apps designed with iOS 7 aesthetics, using the apps to manage wish lists and track orders is absolutely delightful.
Amazon allows you to create specific wish lists and even share them with friends and family to make holiday shipping that much easier. Amazon even has a ‘Santa’ app geared toward making shopping for kids even easier.
Delivery Status is probably my favorite app among this list. While Amazon can track your purchases fairly well and notify you after packages are delivered, Delivery Status offers much more granular updates along the way.
The app is particularly useful as it centralizes shipment tracking from UPS, FedEx, USPS, and more all in a single app. It syncs data between iPhone and iPad using iCloud, or you can use its native syncing solution and also sync with its OS X Dashboard widget.
For me, Delivery Status relieves a great deal of anxiety as shipments tend to get a little crazy over the holidays. It doesn’t hurt that the app is so well designed.
We recently reviewed Clear+, which brought the fun list app to the iPad for the first time, and I’ve really been enjoying it since then.
While it originally debuted on iPhone and later on the Mac, I’ve found the iPad version particularly useful for managing lists of gift ideas and gift I’m positive I need to buy. This is made easy on the iPad interface as it allows you to drag and drop items between lists.
As always, check out the fantastic work at our sister site 9to5Toys for great deals on all the best gifts for the holidays including gift cards, games and apps, hardware, and more.
Those are my favorite tools for holiday shopping on iOS this year. Let us know in the comments which apps you find most useful for your holiday gift giving this year!
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Foursquare is once again showing off an iOS 7-designed app update and a set of new features with version 7.0.
Foursquare originally updated its user interface in time for iOS 7′s public debut with version 6.3, but today Foursquare is introducing even more changes to its UI for iOS 7.
The app also picked up some additional street smarts with the ability to recommend businesses and locations without the app even being open.
Foursquare 7 for iPhone is available for free on the App Store. (Full change log below)
Everything is new! Foursquare has been completely redesigned for iOS 7. It’s smarter, faster, and has a whole new look.
It’s smarter: When you arrive somewhere new, we tell you what you need to know (like the best thing to order or a money-saving special), even if you don’t open the app.
More of what’s nearby: We shuffle the deck every time you open the app so you don’t miss a thing. Just swipe to explore great tips, find money-saving specials near you, and check out the feed to see where your friends are tonight.
Enjoy the all-new Foursquare, a smarter, faster, and more beautiful way to keep up and meet up with your friends.
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The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced that it has updated its Bluetooth specification to 4.1 with new features for both developers and users of Bluetooth Smart enabled devices. The update brings coexistence support for LTE, better connections, and improved data transfer, all of which lets you connect, stay connected, and interact with your Bluetooth 4.1 devices faster and more reliably. The improved connections, for example, means developers can control reconnection intervals so your devices will automatically disconnect when you leave the room and then reconnect when in close proximity. That in return could also bring better battery life:
The new standard will also allow Bluetooth 4.1 devices to act as both a hub and peripheral, meaning developers can allow their device to connect to multiple devices simultaneously. The example SIG gives is a smart watch pulling data from a heart rate monitor while also acting as a peripheral for a smartphone:
With this new capability, a single device acts as both a Bluetooth Smart peripheral and a Bluetooth Smart Ready hub at the same time. For example, a smart watch acts as a hub gathering information from a Bluetooth Smart heart rate monitor while simultaneously acting as a peripheral to a smartphone — displaying new message notifications from the phone. As the Bluetooth Smart ecosystem grows, the Bluetooth SIG expects more solutions to play both a hub and peripheral role. Bluetooth 4.1 delivers this type of flexibility to Bluetooth Smart devices and application developers.
Lastly, SIG is including support for Bluetooth Smart sensors to use IPv6. The Bluetooth 4.1 update is all software related, which means manufacturers will be able to start rolling out over-the-air updates to existing Bluetooth 4.0 devices.
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Less than a week after AAPL stock reached a new high for 2013, and two analysts raised their target price in response to Black Friday sales, the stock has also hit a 52-week high, running at $570 at the point of writing.
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn doubtless played a role, yesterday tweeting that he would be calling for a (non-binding) shareholder vote on an increased buyback program – though for a smaller amount than he had originally urged.
But Fortune yesterday posted a rather interesting chart that may suggest the upward trend will continue …
What the chart shows is that the recovery so far has been driven mostly by private investors: the institutional investors who made a run for it when the stock price fell haven’t yet returned. UBS’s Steven Milunovich expects this to change.
Our sense speaking with investors is that many are now equal or underweight Apple relative to their benchmark, which could result in new money supporting the stock.
If he’s correct, the medium-term trend is likely to continue in an upward direction. As ever, however, remember that the market is driven by sentiment, not by facts …
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Think back to 2006. Computers were, for most people, large plastic boxes that lived under desks with monitors and keyboards plugged into them. It’s hard to imagine now, but those of us using laptops were in the minority back then.
Smartphones existed, but the fact that you used one marked you out as a bit of a tech-head. Tablets were obscure devices that were used by, basically, no-one.
Today’s world is very different. Almost everyone has a smartphone, and tablet sales will soon dwarf laptops. When non-techy friends ask your advice about what laptop to buy, the chances are that, after asking a few questions about what they want to do with it, you’ve advised at least half of them to buy an iPad instead.
In the face of this changing world, will it continue to make sense for Apple to have two different platforms for Macs and iDevices, or will they eventually merge into a single operating system for all device types?
Most long-time Mac users are likely to feel something between unease and outrage at this idea. When Apple introduced Lion in 2011, with its iOS-like Launchpad feature, there was a lot of muttering (and some rather louder commentary) about the dumbing-down of OS X.
Similar concerns were raised when Apple removed features from iWork. Apple did, thankfully, respond – promising to reintroduce at least some of the features and making an unconvincing attempt to pretend that had been the plan all along.
I share that concern. It’s vital to me that Macs remain as powerful as they are enjoyable to use. If I had to prioritise my Apple devices by their importance to me, my MacBooks (Pro and Air) would head the list, iPad Air second and iPhone a distant third.
The problem for me, and those who share that view, is this:
Sales chart by @RebeccaJarvis
The company formerly known as Apple Computer, Inc, is no longer a computer company: it’s a phone and tablet company that also makes computers. It’s no coincidence that it changed its name to Apple, Inc, in the year that the iPhone was launched.
Revenue from iPhone sales are greater than its sales from all other products and services combined, and that post-PC era is literally just around the corner. We can dislike that as much as we like, but it’s hard to argue with the numbers.
Of course, the post-PC era doesn’t mean that Macs are doomed. To use Steve Jobs’ famous analogy, most people may drive cars, but there will still be plenty of us who need trucks. And sales numbers aren’t everything: Macs are high-ticket items.
But it does mean we can’t bury our heads in the sand and imagine that the dominance of iOS devices will have no impact on the future development of Macs. A huge proportion of today’s Mac buyers were brought into the Apple world by their purchase of an iPhone. Many of them went on to buy iPads. They are familiar with iOS, and when Apple wants to upsell them to a Mac, it’s simple commercial sense to make that transition as painless as possible.
So we have to accept that there will be at least some iOS-ification of OS X. The questions are how far that convergence process will go, and what might be lost and gained along the way?
The worry, of course, is that OS X gets dumber with every release, that Macs become less and less capable as they are pitched more and more towards consumption rather than creation, and come to be viewed as little more than tablets in a different form-factor.
I don’t dismiss that concern – I share it – but I think we can draw comfort from a few things …
First, the iOS-ification of OS X isn’t a one-way street. As iOS devices get more powerful – the 64-bit A7 chip being a notable landmark – there is also likely to be an OS X-ification of iOS.
Second, while we may have rolled our eyes at Launchpad , it hasn’t actually done any harm. If we don’t like it, we can ignore it and go right back to our standard ways of launching apps (dock or Spotlight, in my case). Apple could overlay a whole bunch of other iOS-type things on top of OS X to appeal to iDevice-first buyers, but so long as we can ignore them or switch them off, I don’t see the harm.
Third, those new Mac users – the ones who first walked into an Apple Store to buy an iPhone – are helping delay the decline of PCs. They are helping keep the Mac platform viable. So let’s not be too rude about them.
Then there is the potential upside: what future hybrid products might offer to us.
Steve Jobs again once said that touchscreens didn’t make sense on Macs because it’s unergonomic to have to hold your arm up to a screen. That’s absolutely true – with traditional PC form-factors. But these are changing. Ok, most of today’s hybrid laptop/tablet devices are heavy, clunky things that don’t do either job well, but I’m sure we can all think of a company with a talent for reinventing clunky things into sleek ones.
There are times when I carry both my MacBook Air 11 and my iPad Air. Some of the time that’s because the two devices have different strengths, but other times it’s simply that my iPad has apps I rely on and for which there is no direct equivalent on the Mac. If my MBA could run iOS apps, and had an LTE SIM slot to save the bother and battery-life hit of tethering, there would be plenty of times when that would be the only device I’d need – especially now that the battery-life of Haswell-powered Airs is almost up into iPad territory.
Similarly, there would be times when it would be great to run an OS X app on my iPad. So sure, convergence has its risks, but it is certainly not without benefits.
Concept image: Yanko design
How far do I think it will go? I certainly don’t think we’ll end up with a single platform anytime soon. I hesitate to say ‘if ever,’ as ever is a pretty long time. I also don’t think those of us who love our Macs need panic.
There will always be people whose primary need is consumption, and those whose key need is creation. Macs are brilliant creation tools, to the point where if you’re a writer, photographer. videographer or musician, it’s pretty much assumed you use a Mac. That’s a heritage Apple has worked hard to achieve, and – despite the occasional bump in the road (<cough>Final Cut Pro<cough>) – I don’t see Apple wanting to abandon that market.
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AT&T has launched a new initiative called Mobile Share Value Plans that is designed to save customers money on their monthly AT&T mobile phone service bills. The following changes are specifically for the Mobile Share program, which allows devices to work under the same AT&T account and share data, talk, and text plans. Similar to T-Mobile’s “un-carrier” approach, the new AT&T plans separate the cost of the device hardware completely from the monthly service charges:
With the ‘No Annual Service Contract’ options, smartphone customers can save $15 a month on Mobile Share Value plans.2 Customers can receive these monthly savings when they: Get a new smartphone for no down payment with AT&T Next; bring their own smartphone; purchase a smartphone at full retail price; or when their smartphone is no longer under contract and they switch to the new plans. All Mobile Share Value plan customers will benefit from shared data plus unlimited talk and text on their phones. Consumers will have the ability to connect up to 10 devices, including tablets and other wireless devices, while business customers will be able to connect up to 10, 15, 20 or 25 devices, depending on the plan.
So, if you do not want your AT&T phone on a contract with a hardware subsidy, you will save $15 a month off the top. This applies to both new and existing customers (if they inquire) and supports devices brought to the network by a customer, AT&T Next devices, and phones bought at their full retail price. The most notable part of the new plans are the additional monthly savings. Depending on the plan you pick, you will be saving between $10 and $115 per month for one device or between $20 and $105 on an account with two devices.
For instance, the 300MB/month data version for one device currently costs $70 per month, but the new plans will drop this down to $60. At the high end, the $530/month 50GB plan will become $415. AT&T is also adding a new 8GB/month data tier for $130/month (1 device) and $170/month (2 devices). With the new approach of separating the phone cost from the monthly charge, the savings are even more significant if your phone is not subsidized. For instance, one phone on the 300MB/monthly plan will be $45 per month, and two phones on the 4GB plan will be $120/month.
In addition to the Mobile Share Value Plans, AT&T has announced a new tier for its AT&T Next program. AT&T Next allows a customer to pay (at minimum) $0 down for a device and roll the price of the phone into the service bill over the course of a 12-month period. The new tier allows a customer to pay over 18 months, and this means lower payment installments per month. This plan is meant for people who feel like they would be better suited to upgrading their device every year-and-a-half, rather than annually.
The Mobile Share Value Plans and new 18-month AT&T Next program become available on Sunday, December 8th. Full press release below:
It’s never been more affordable to get on the nation’s fastest and most reliable 4G LTE network. For only $45 a month, smartphone customers can now get unlimited talk and text plus 300MB of data.3 Qualifying smartphones can be added to any Mobile Share Value plan for $25 more a month per phone; tablets can be added for $10 more per device.
Customers with basic and messaging phones can enjoy a low monthly rate of $40 for unlimited talk, text and 300MB of data.3 For $20 more a month per phone, additional basic and messaging lines can be added to any Mobile Share Value plan.
In addition to the 300MB option, AT&T Mobile Share Value plans offer data options ranging from 1GB up to 50 GB, all with unlimited talk and text.
AT&T is also adding a new AT&T Nextsm plan with an 18 month upgrade option on Dec. 8. It will be available to consumers for up to four smartphones, and to select small business customers, who may provide employees with up to six company-owned devices.3 The new plan will make monthly smartphone payments even lower than the existing AT&T Next option, by spreading payments over 26 months and giving eligible customers a way to get a new smartphone after 18 monthly payments for no down payment, no upgrade fee, no activation fee and no financing fee.
“With our new Mobile Share Value Plans, customers don’t have to compromise,” said David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T Mobility. “Our new no contract option lets customers add a smartphone to the nation’s fastest and most reliable 4G LTE network at a lower monthly cost. Customers want great value and a premium network – and now they can save more and get unlimited talk, text and data to share.”
The new Mobile Share Value plans make it easy for customers to manage their data without needing to keep track of multiple plans. Consumers, Individual Responsibility Users (IRUs), and Corporate Responsibility Users (CRUs) have different options to stay informed about their data usage and can check it anytime online through the my AT&T mobile app, or by dialing *DATA# from their mobile phone. AT&T also sends courtesy alerts as customers nearing their data allowance for the month.
All plans include access to AT&T’s nationwide Wi-Fi network at no additional charge.5 Customers can learn more about the new plans and determine which plan is best for them at www.att.com/mobilesharevalue.Filed under: iOS Devices Tagged: AT&T, AT&T Next, customer, Mobile device, Mobile phone, Smartphone, T-Mobile, Wireless
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Analytics company Localytics said that of all the gadgets purchased across the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, the iPad Air enjoyed by far the largest boost in sales.
Comparing activations with those for the previous weekend, 51 percent more iPad Airs were sold, with Apple also taking second and third places with the original iPad Mini and iPhone 5c. In all, Apple products took six of the top nine places.
According to Localytics’ data, a whopping 51% more new iPad Air devices were seen than the previous week. This is due to a combination of factors, including Apple’s promotion of giving gift cards with purchases of the iPad Air and iPad Mini (but not iPad Mini 2nd gen) devices. This, combined with a smaller base of iPad Air devices and the novelty of the iPad Air (released on November 1st) resulted in the iPad Air dominating on Black Friday weekend. Apple’s older iPad Mini model finished second, and the iPhone 5c took third. As previously reported by Localytics, the iPhone 5c is gaining on its more sophisticated cousin, the 5s, during the past couple months.
Localytics analysed figures for over a million devices to reach its conclusions.
Apple has also overtaken Dell as the desktop PC brand most shoppers intend to buy according to data from Park Associates (via CNET). Apple already topped the list for laptops, tablets and routers.
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Image from the White House
While he and many of his staff members use Apple’s iPads, United States President Barack Obama has revealed why he does not use an iPhone: “I’m not allowed for security reasons to have an iPhone,” the President said earlier today. Nonetheless, he says that his daughters both use iPhones. President Obama has stuck to his BlackBerry over the past few years because of its messaging and encryption capabilities. No word on if the iPhone will ever be suitable for a President, but Apple has been beefing up its smartphone’s security via hardware, software, and sensors in recent years.
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The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has finally reached an agreement with China Mobile to carry the iPhone. China Mobile is currently the world’s largest mobile carrier with well over 700 million subscribers. Yesterday a subsidiary of the carrier started taking pre-orders for the smartphone, though the page was quickly pulled from its website.
Hong Kong stocks fall, but China Mobile climbs
In September the advertisment above leaked to the media. The image is a promotion for the iPhone 5s and 5c running on China Mobile’s network. The Chinese government, which controls China Mobile, confirmed that the phone would be available on December 18th last month, although neither Apple nor China Mobile would actually confirm the rumor.
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Plex, the popular media player for desktop and mobile devices, has been updated to version 3.3 today. The update introduces an updated look based on Apple’s iOS 7 design along with a new media player screen for music and videos. The iOS 7 design isn’t entirely new, but a tweaked version of the existing design. The update also includes miscellaneous bug fixes.
You can get Plex for iOS now on the App Store. For new users, the app is $4.99. Existing users can update to version 3.3 for free.
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Earlier this year, Apple announced that it would be relocating its flagship Downtown San Francisco to the Union Square District. The new store, with a fully glass front, would be larger, and it would be able to serve more customers and employee more workers. Since then, the new store design came under scrutiny from San Francisco officials because it would remove a famous fountain designed by Ruth Asawa.
In late August, Apple submitted redesigned renderings of the upcoming store that retain the historical fountain. The new renderings also showed a tweaked front glass panel that would relocate the iconic Apple logo to the brushed metal, street-facing side of the store. Now, we’ve learned that Apple has presented a 3D model of the upcoming store’s design to the City of San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Commission…
According to the city of San Fransisco, the “Commission reviews and approves applications for Certificates of Appropriateness for alterations, site improvements and new construction affecting San Francisco’s designated landmarks, buildings and sites within historic districts.” Since Apple’s new store will be altering a key element of the City, it is important that Apple discusses its plans with this commission.
Apple’s discussions with this commission also may indicate that Apple is moving closer to final plans for the area. We are also told that Apple and the city of San Francisco will be, in the near-future, holding a public presentation regarding the new store. The City of San Francisco confirmed to us that today’s meeting occurred, and provided us with a PDF with more details.
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Gave $AAPL notice we’ll be making a precatory proposal to call for vote to increase buyback program, although not at $150 billion level.
After sending a letter to Tim Cook in October urging him to increase Apple’s buyback plan to $150 billion, billionaire investor Carl Icahn today announced he will soon issue a precatory proposal to call for a shareholder vote on an larger buyback. He won’t, however, be pushing for the $150 billion buyback he originally proposed:
A precatory proposal is essentially a formal request asking Apple to hold the vote, but it means Apple executives wouldn’t actually have to implement the buyback even if the majority of shareholders approved it.
Icahn has been proposing a larger buyback from Apple of around $150 billion since first announcing back in August that he had taken “a large position” in the company. His “large position” was later revealed to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.5B and he’s several times met with CEO Tim Cook to discuss his proposal.
Icahn previously said executing the buyback immediately would result in “further stock appreciation of 140% for the shareholders who choose not to sell into the proposed tender offer.” He also agreed to withhold his shares and not participate in the buyback to “invalidate any possible criticism” regarding the long term benefits of the proposal.
Apple hasn’t issued a public response specifically regarding Icahn’s recent proposals, but Cook hinted at its Q4 earnings call that it’s committed to its current program. He also noted that Apple had doubled its capital return program to $100 billion and returned $36 billion to shareholders. Today, a spokesperson confirmed Apple received the precatory proposal and echoed Cook’s comments in a comment to TIME:
“Earlier this year we more than doubled our capital return program to $100 billion, including the largest share repurchase authorization in history. As part of our regular review process, we are once again actively seeking our shareholders’ input on our program, and as we said in October, the management team and our board are engaged in an ongoing discussion about it which is thoughtful and deliberate. We will announce any changes to our current program in the first part of calendar 2014,”
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While it’s certainly far from confirmation of a launch date from Apple, German retailer Conrad today posted an availability date of December 16 for the new Mac Pro (via Apefelpage.de).
The retailer is an authorized reseller, but we’re thinking this is more likely a placeholder date. The company is still advertising the Mac Pro listing on its homepage, so it’s not like the listing slipped out accidentally. It’s also taking preorders for two configurations of the device– not a bad way to get some press and capitalize on preorders before everyone else, even if they don’t really know the date. If the Mac Pro does go on sale on the 16th, Apple could have enough time to ship orders out for Christmas.
For now the only release window Apple has confirmed is “December”.
Apple will have several configurations and built to order options available for the next-gen Mac Pro including Quad 6, 8, or 12-core designs. The base model includes a 3.7GHz quad-core Xeon processor, 12GB of DRAM, Dual FirePro D300 graphics, 2GB VRAM each, and a 256GB SSD starting at $2999, and Apple will also sell a $3999 configuration with a 6-core 3.5GHz Intel Xeon E5 processor, 16GB DDR3 ECC memory (configurable up to 32GB), and Dual AMD FirePro D500 with 3GB GDDR5 VRAM each.
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Take a few moments out of your Lunch Break to cash in on some terrific deals! Be sure to follow 9to5Toys to keep up with the best gear and deals on the web: Twitter, RSS Feed, Facebook, Google+
Today’s can’t miss deals:
Belkin WeMo Light Switch with iOS/Android integration $40 shipped (Reg. $50)
OtterBox Defender Apple iPhone 5/5s Case Choice of 7 Colors $13 shipped (Reg. $60)
Seagate Backup Plus 4TB External USB 3.0 Hard Drive $120 shipped (Reg. $180)
Other great deals from today:
The best deals that are still alive:
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Google has updated its Google Wallet application for the iPhone with a few notable enhancements. First, like it has added to its other apps on iOS as of late, Google now allows single sign-on for Wallet. This means that if you are signed in via Google to YouTube, Gmail, Adsense, or other compatible Google apps, you can be automatically logged in to the Wallet app. More interestingly, you can now use your iPhone’s camera to capture the data from your debit card or credit card to connect it to the app. Google added that feature to the Android app last month. Google Wallet recently launched a physical card program for Wallet. The update is free in the App Store.
* Instantly sign on to Wallet if you use other Google iOS apps supporting single sign on
* Add a credit/debit card just by taking a picture. Both the number and expiration date will be captured automatically.
* Use the Google Wallet Card to spend your Wallet Balance at millions of MasterCard® locations or withdraw cash at any ATM
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In early November, we reported that Apple had begun seeding versions of OS X Mavericks 10.9.1 and 10.9.2 to employees within the its Software Engineering division. Since then, Apple provided two OS X 10.9.1 seeds to registered developers. These builds focus on improvements to Mail, Voice Over, and general system stability. The update will serve as the first point-update to the recently released OS X Mavericks.
Now, we’ve learned that Apple has provided build 13B40 of 10.9.1 to AppleCare employees. This internal release indicates that the public release of OS X 10.9.1 is near as Apple’s support staff will become familiar with the software in order to seemingly assist customers in the near-future. That particular build is the same version provided to developers last night. OS X 10.9.2 will likely follow with additional fixes in the following weeks.
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As we’ve previously reported, Apple began giving away select paid apps in its Apple Store app recently as an added incentive to download and check out the app.
This week in particular Apple has replaced the free app with free music from iTunes instead. The playlist is appropriately holiday themed and features songs such as Silent Night by Kelly Clarkson and The First Noel by Mary J Blige.
The free holiday playlist is not present in the Apple Store for iPad app, which debuted last month, likely another reason why the application is not universal. The deal also appears to be initially limited to US customers.
Apple is not alone in celebrating the holidays with a little music: Google is giving away a number of hit singles including Dr. Dre and Jay-Z on its Play Store this week.
You can download the Apple Store app for iPhone or iPod touch for free from the App Store and grab your free holiday playlist while Apple’s giving it away.
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No, Apple isn’t redesigning its charging & data cable again – but a proposed change to the USB standard will allow future USB cables to be plugged in either way up.
Existing USB cables have a top and a bottom at both the computer/power and device ends. The new USB 3.1 standard calls for the same plug – known as type-C – to be used at both ends of the cable, and for it to work either way up. iDevice cables will have the new type-C connector at the Mac/power end, and the existing Lightning plug at the other.
Computers – including Macs – will need to switch to the new type-C socket, but adapters will allow existing sockets to be used with existing computers.
Full usb.org press release below …
Beaverton, OR – December 3, 2013 – The USB 3.0 Promoter Group today announced that the development of the next generation of USB connector has begun. The new USB Type-C connector, built initially on existing USB 3.1 and USB 2.0 technologies, is being developed to help enable thinner and sleeker product designs, enhance usability and provide a growth path for performance enhancements for future versions of USB. This supplement to the USB 3.1 specification is anticipated to be completed by the middle of next year.
Key characteristics of the USB Type-C connector and cable solution include:
An entirely new design tailored to work well with emerging product designs
New smaller size – similar in size to the existing USB 2.0 Micro-B
Usability enhancements – users will no longer need to be concerned with plug
orientation/cable direction, making it easier to plug in
The Type-C connector and cable will support scalable power charging
Scalability – the connector design will scale for future USB bus performance
As the new USB Type-C plug and receptacle will not directly mate with existing USB plugs and receptacles (Type-A, Type-B, Micro-B, etc.), the Type-C specification will define passive new-to-existing cables and adapters to allow users to use their existing products.
“While USB technology is well established as the favored choice for connecting and powering devices, we recognize the need to develop a new connector to meet evolving design trends in terms of size and usability,” said Brad Saunders, USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman. “The new Type-C connector will fit well with the market’s direction and affords an opportunity to lay a foundation for future versions of USB.”
“Intel is excited to see the development of the new thin Type-C connector as it will enable an entirely new super thin class of devices from phones to tablets, to 2-in-1s, to laptops to desktops and a multitude of other more specific usage devices,” said Alex Peleg, Vice President, Platform Engineering Group. “This new industry standards-based thin connector delivering data, power and video is the only connector one will need across all devices.”
“The new Type-C connector furthers USB’s lead in addressing customer desire for more flexibility and higher performance,” said Roland Sperlich, TI Consumer and Computing Interface Product Line Manager. “This allows USB to increase performance and continue to deliver ease of use to several evolving product categories for years to come.”
The USB Type-C specification is targeted for industry review during the first quarter of 2014 and a final specification is expected to be published by the middle of 2014. Further information regarding the specification and plans for pre-release industry reviews will be
provided via the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) website at http://www.usb.org/developers/USB-Futures.pdf.
About the USB 3.0 Promoter Group
The USB 3.0 Promoter Group, comprised of Hewlett-Packard Company, Intel Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Renesas Electronics and Texas Instruments, developed the USB 3.0 Specification that was released in November 2008. In addition to maintaining and enhancing this specification, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group develops specification addendums to extend or adapt its specifications to support more platform types or use cases where adopting USB 3.0 technology will be beneficial in delivering a more ubiquitous, richer user experience.
About the USB-IF
The non-profit USB Implementers Forum, Inc. was formed to provide a support organization and forum for the advancement and adoption of USB technology. The USB-IF facilitates the development of high-quality compatible USB devices through its logo and compliance program, and promotes the benefits of USB and the quality of products that have passed compliance testing. Further information, including postings of the most recent product and technology announcements, is available by visiting the USB-IF website at http://www.usb.org.
Filed under: iOS Devices Tagged: C connector, Intel, Lightning, Universal Serial Bus, USB, USB 3.0 Promoter Group, USB 3.1, USB Implementers Forum, USB type-C
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A London-based digital publishing company is trialling use of Apple’s iBeacon technology to provide bar patrons with free access to digital versions of two magazines in Newsstand, reports TechCrunch.
The way it works is that the bar buys a subscription, and one or more iBeacons (each little larger than a quarter) unlock the content for customers within range. On iOS devices, the whole process is completely automatic. Once the customer leaves the location, the content is locked again and becomes available for purchase as normal …
“As this is very much new technology we are showcasing it for the first time at Bar Kick in Shoreditch, London,” Exact Editions‘ Daniel Hodgkin explained about the first real world use of the tech. “When in this bar, the soccer magazine ‘When Saturday Comes’ and the fashion and culture magazine ‘Dazed & Confused will be available.”
The company hopes the trial will prove a win-win: customers get free access to magazines, and some of them will then choose to buy a copy or subscription to have continued access to it after leaving the location.
If you’re not up to speed on iBeacon, check out our briefing. The technology is going to be pretty mainstream by early next year, with the possibility of it becoming a new payment platform later.
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