Accessories, News/Rumors

Incipio’s Cashwrap Case turns iPhone into NFC-enabled device

AT&T is reportedly getting ready to launch an iPhone accessory that will turn the smartphone into an Isis-ready, NFC-enabled device. The Incipio Cashwrap case was designed for  the iPhone 5/5s and is expected to enable secure mobile payments via a micro-NFC chip and a mobile app.

The new accessory will be available from AT&T with three different color combinations for $69.99 each.

Along with the case, users interested in Isis-based mobile payments will also be required to have to install a free application, the Isis Mobile Wallet. A companion app to the case and payment service has yet to appear in the App Store, but it looks like it will arrive soon after the case goes officially on sale.

Once the Isis mobile app is installed, credit card information can be stored and used for contactless payments where Isis is supported. According to the Cashwrap product page, transit passes and loyalty cards will be supported.

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Isis is a wireless payment service backed up by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon in the U.S., although it’s not clear whether these iPhone cases will also be available from the other two carriers.

The Cashwrap from Southern California based designer and manufacturer of award winning mobile device accessories, was officially introduced at CES 2014, with Incipio announcing only iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 cases at the time. While, the Cashwrap cases should launch in March, there are rumors, that the accessory is already listed in AT&T’s inventory.

iPhone, News/Rumors

Apple began in-store display repairs to iPhone 5c

As promised in a report earlier this month, Apple has begun repairing iPhone 5c screens in-store this week.

Owners of Apple’s iPhone 5c can now have their handset’s cracked or damaged display replaced in their local Apple stores and have them repaired quickly for a flat fee.

Apple has been doing this since last June for the iPhone 5, but just recently updated the hardware and training necessary to work with the latest models.

Owners will have to wait for about one hour in any U.S. Apple retail store while the employees will be working with their damaged devices. Technicians use advanced display calibration machines to ensure a perfect fit, with one employee likening the process to “bringing China to the Genius Room.”

Customers will reportedly have to pay without AppleCare+ $149 to get their screens repaired, meaning about $80 less than the service used to cost non-AppleCare users, and the company no longer has to send the device off-site. Repairs for those with AppleCare+ are said to cost $75.

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The machine used by Apple’s Geniuses to repair iPhone 5 screens

While there are rumors that the program will reach Apple’s U.K. retail outlets, there are no confirmations on when or if it might happen.

While a large number of Apple stores can fix iPhone 5 and 5c models in-store, there still seems to be difficulties with the iPhone 5s. That means, that owners of damaged 5s and 4s devices will still have to either have their smartphones replaced, or sent off-site for repair.

The whole attempt is part of Tim Cook’s push to sell more handsets in the company’s own stores. Devices repairs are reported to have been given a top priority at the stores’ Genius Bar as a result of the effort.

Last year, Apple discussed a few changes it would be making to its AppleCare service, including in-store device repairs. According to the vice president of AppleCare, Tara Bunch this step is expected to result in annual savings of up to $1 billion.

iPhone, News/Rumors

Tim Cook ‘incredibly optimistic’ about new cooperation with China Mobile

Apple and China Mobile look set to tighten ties following the launch of the iPhone on the carrier’s network last month.  Just a couple days before the iPhone debut on China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier, Apple CEO Tim Cook says how “incredibly optimistic” he is about Apple’s new partnership with the carrier.

In the interview to The Wall Street Journal, Apple CEO Tim Cook discussed his company’s future with China Mobile following the apparently successful performance of Apple’s devices over the past few weeks.

“We’ve gotten to know each other…today is a beginning, and I think there are lots more things our companies can do together in the future,” Cook said.

Apple’s latest iPhone is expected to go on sale for the first time starting this Friday.

According to China Mobile chairman Xi Guohua, “multi-millions” of iPhones have already been ordered by  the carrier’s customers in the lead-up to the smartphone’s release.  Apple’s iPhone 5s supplier Foxconn had already shipped about 1.4 million iPhone 5s units ahead of the device’ launch in China on January 17.

Tim Cook

The iPhone debut on the world’s largest network is expected to offer Apple a sales increase running into tens of millions of devices. Apple already has a cooperation with China’s second- and third-largest carriers.

“I think there are lots more things our companies can do together in the future … China Mobile already has a reach to many cities that Apple does not have a reach to,”-Cook said.

According to the Apple CEO, the compay will now be able to sell iPhones in 3,000 more locations, with China Mobile expanding cities, where Apple currently doesn’t offer its products.

In the interview, Cook also mentioned, that the company would likely present cellular-capable iPads as it has done on other partner carriers’ networks.

China Mobile has over 760 million subscribers and is planned to add new customers to Apple, increasing the company’s presence in China.

iPhone, News/Rumors

Rumor:Apple brings back 8 GB iPhone 4 in India following poor sales

In an attempt to improve iPhone sales in India and challenge rival Samsung for market share, Apple is reportedly poised to resurrect the 8GB iPhone 4 exclusively for Indian buyers.

The news comes in a recent report from The Times of India, which states that the company expects the even lower price of the device will help win back its share of the market, which is slipping away to competitors.

According to the publication, the 8 GB iPhone 4 will be priced at around 15,000 rupees, or $243, after factoring in buybacks, meaning a savings of 11,500 rupees, or $187, in comparison with its previous retail price of Rs 26,500, and Rs 38,500 less than the cost of Apple’s iPhone 5s in India.

The publication added, that “a senior executive at a top electronic retail chain” said:

“While there is still a latent demand for the iPhone 4 due to its attractive price in India, the model has lost favour in matured markets and hence it may not make sense for Apple to start fresh production since it follows economies of scale.”

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Apple’s iPhone 4 first debuted in India back in May 2011, and though the device had been available up until late 2013, the company stopped selling the units, in order to promote more expensive offerings. Now, the company appears to be seeking iPhone 4 handsets from unsold inventory around the world, though it will require a big logistical undertaking.

Meanwhile, the step of searching for low-cost solutions to get iPhones into the hands of Indian customers is not new. Apple and its major competitor Samsung already got into the price fight last year that saw both firms offer deep discounts to woo potential customers.

The news about reintroduction of iPhone 4 was not announced, but according to the source, Apple’s major Indian distributors, Redington and Ingram Micro, could begin sales already next week.

iPhone, News/Rumors

Apple’s share of the business market steadily growing

According to the report from The Wall Street Journal, Apple’s share of the business market is steadily growing thanks to increased success in selling its devices to large corporations. A few company’s products have been named as “halos” over the years.

According to a study published by Forrester Research, Apple devices accounted for about eight percent of global business and government spending in 2012. The researchers expect the uptick up to 11 percent next year. More strange is that the iPhone was not included into the Forrester’s numbers.  The device is the most successful product in the company’s history and is much viewed as a way for business to move into Apple’s iOS and OS X ecosystems.  The iPhone has also driven enormous amounts of Mac and iPad sales. A number of Cisco’s employees are provided with Macs following that company’s decision to allow them to choose which platform they preferred.

While there are still a lot of Windows machines used at Cisco, the firm has offered its workers 35,000 MacBooks, or about one quarter of all supported laptops.

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Also an important thing are apps. Many companies are taking advantage of custom applications for iPhones and iPads, with the iPhone often being Apple’s first foothold in a business. Cisco also uses Apple’s Developer Program to roll out its own in-house apps for workers.

Additionally, Apple is working on security and encryption to make both iOS and OS X a competitive and attractive option for government agencies.

According to the Forrester’s research, Apple accounts for 8 percent of global business and government spending on computers and tablets.

Jailbreak, News/Rumors

China’s iOS 7 jailbreak contains piracy

Three months after iOS 7 was launched alongside Apple’s new iPhones, hacking group Evasi0n finally released an untethered jailbreak for the software. But Cydia administrator Jay Freeman noted on his Twitter that he was not informed about a new version of the jailbreak before its debut. Additionally, he said, that the new jailbreak automatically installs a third party app store titled Taig which distributes cracked apps in China.

In order to clarify the matter, Evasi0n has posted an open letter to the jailbreak community on its website saying it is “deeply sorry and embarrassed about the piracy that was seen today.”

The team also added that it was truly approached by a company with an offer to include Taig with the jailbreak in China, as it originally believed TaiG was “well-suited to meet the needs of users for the Chinese market.” The company also added:

“Taig has never asked us to disclose our exploits to them, let alone sell them. We were simply asked to bundle their third-party app store in China in a similar way we bundle and distribute Cydia around the world as an additional App Store, and in a similar way to how previous jailbreaks like blackra1n have bundled non-Cydia stores.”

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Two tweets by developer i0n1c claimed that the Chinese company Taig paid the Evad3rs development team “a big pile of money” to make the jailbreak available to the public in order to bundle its app store onto devices.  Meanwhile, the developers also claimed that they were not informed that Taig contained pirated apps upon access. They added they “will continue to monitor this issue and work to resolve it completely” and if the piracy cannot be removed, TaiG will be pulled from the jailbreak.

Currently, Evasi0n is available for OS X and Windows as an untethered jailbreak.

iPhone, News/Rumors

Apple strikes deal with China Mobile to bring iPhone 5s, 5c in January

In a press release published by Apple, the company announced that it has finally reached an agreement with China Mobile, meaning the world’s largest carrier will begin selling the iPhone on this upcoming January 17th.  The announcement described the deal as a “multi-year agreement.”

The agreement covers both the iPhone 5s and 5c, which will go on sale in retail stores operated by China Mobile in addition to Apple’s own retail outlets in mainland China. Both devices will also be “available for pre-registration” on China Mobile’s official website. Pre-registration for the iPhone on China Mobile begins this Wednesday.

Apple and China Mobile have yet to reveal pricing and availability of iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, but the upcoming preregistration for the smartphones will allow customers to request additional information.

Earlier this month, Apple and China Mobile reportedly reached an agreement for December 18th. The deal with China Mobile has been a critical milestone for Apple to reach, opening up the iPhone to an entirely new market.

China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile services provider, which serves over 760 million customers.

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According to China Mobile’s Chairman Xi Guohua statement, “Apple’s iPhone is very much loved by millions of customers around the world. We know there are many China Mobile customers and potential new customers who are anxiously awaiting the incredible combination of iPhone on China Mobile’s leading network. We are delighted that iPhone on China Mobile will support our 4G/TD-LTE and 3G/TD-SCDMA networks, providing customers with high-speed mobile service.”

Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook said, that the company is excited to start working together, as this cooperation will allow Apple to offer iPhone to the customers of the world’s largest network.

“iPhone customers in China are an enthusiastic and rapidly growing group, and we can’t think of a better way to welcome in the Chinese New Year than getting an iPhone into the hands of every China Mobile customer who wants one,” Cook noted.

Accessories, Mac, News/Rumors

Apple begins selling black Thunderbolt cables

The release of new black Mac Pro provoked the appearance of a number of blacked-out products, including Apple’s Thunderbolt cables. The company has begun to sell black versions of its Thunderbolt cables on its online store.

Apple’s cords were first introduced back in 2011 and have been available only in white. The new black Thunderbolt cable goes along with Apple’s new 2013 Mac Pro, which went on sale Thursday morning.  The new black color is available in both the 2 meter configuration and the 0.5 meter configuration, and offers the same functionality as the white version of the cable. The longer version is available for $39 per cable and the shorter is priced at $29.

The new cords offer Thunderbolt ports on either side, and they work great for transferring data between Macs, connecting to hard drives, and connecting to various other Thunderbolt 1.0 or 2.0 peripherals.

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Apple is still offering the white cords, allowing users to choose between white or black using a special selector button in their Web browsers.

Thunderbolt is not an ordinary cable equipped with connectors, like SATA or USB. When the cable was examined, it appeared to have full-fledged processors running microcode.

Black Thunderbolt cables are available to order on Apple’s online store.

Accessories, Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Jawbone UP24 sport bracelet comes with wireless Bluetooth syncing

Jawbone is a pioneer at the market of sport bracelets, or so-called physical activity trackers. However, the first attempt of the company was so lumpy, that disappointed all the buyers. This year, Jawbone faced a main task: regaining consumers’ trust after widespread reports of brickage on the original Up fitness tracker.  The result is  Jawbone UP24.

The Jawbone UP24 is the culmination of those efforts, now toting Bluetooth LE for real-time exercise and sleep updates on your iOS device.

Jawbone UP24′s design is similar to the original UP one. The new accessory features crosshatching that swirls into a curve across the broader underside and is equipped with a new, softer-edged multifunction button, which simplifies the process of scratching yourself on the UP’s sharp-sized key. It also has a smaller, 2.5mm plug for charging with the included short USB dongle.

According to the company, the change in size was to make clear that Bluetooth LE is used for transferring data. Unlike the original UP, the new one doesn’t require to be plugged into the headphone socket of your phone or tablet. However, it also means you can’t use the original UP charger dongle to recharge the UP24.

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The main improvement the Jawbone Up24 has over the original Up is wireless Bluetooth syncing. This feature also puts the Up24 on par with all of today’s compelling fitness gadgets such as Fitbit’s lineup, the Nike FuelBand SE, and the Basis B1 Band.

Using UP24 is pretty simple. The flexible rubber band snaps around your wrist and is convenient to wear at night, too. The bracelet allows to track your sleep. It is also possible to switch between active and sleep modes. UP24 is available in three sizes: small, medium, and large to suit different wrists. Additionally, it’s water-resistant and can be worn in the shower or while washing up. The 2013 version got a $20 price increase to $150. Jawbone claims that you can expect seven days of use on a single charge.

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In addition to Bluetooth LE in the UP24, Jawbone offers a new UP 3.0 app, bringing the new features. The app is compatible with both generation of band. UP 3.0 is tasked to provide with more personalized data and better recommendations to improve your results. The app works on the basis of iOS’s notifications system to send prompts and triggers to the lockscreen. It also uses a new “Try This” system that offers to set a goal based on your past behaviors. For example, UP 3.0 might issue you with the challenge to go to bed earlier, tracking how well you do at that along the way.Moreover, UP supports sharing between teams of wearers and social networks.

iPhone, News/Rumors

iPhone 5c and 5s see a $72 discount this Friday at WalMart

In a two-week holiday sale that begins this Friday, WalMart will be offering to get the new iPhone 5c for only $27. The device typically available for $99, puts the total discount at $72. It is the largest discount by percentage of off retail, which is set to drop from $99 with a two-year contract from AT&T or Verizon.

Special deals will also include Apple’s iPhone 5s. The companys flagship iPhone 5s will also get a $72 discount, dropping from $199 to $127.

Walmart is expected to cut prices on the 16GB iPhone 5c and 5s as part of its holiday promotion, resulting in some of the lowest prices currently available.

In addition to the two iPhone models, Walmart is also planning to offer a $50 gift card, while buying a new iPad mini. A range of other Apple devices will also see special pricing, including $30 iTunes gift cards, which will sell for $25.

Also on Friday, Walmart is planning to begin sales of contract-free iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c models, to go on sale through wireless carriers Straight Talk Wireless and NET10 Wireless.
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Walmart’s holiday sale is set to start on Friday at 8 a.m. local time, and will run through Dec. 24 or while supplies last.