News/Rumors

Universal Studio copies Apple’s “Misunderstood” ad

You’ve most probably seen Apple’s holiday ad titled “Misunderstood,” which gained popularity in the advertising community. The company’s commercial features a teen boy who appears disinterested at a holiday family reunion, spending a lot of time with his phone. He then uses iMovie to create a video of the clips that’s he’s been recording all along.

A new ad for Universal Studios Orlando  embedded below has an uncanny resemblance to Apple’s commercial. This ad shows a teen girl at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure with her family. She appears to be buried in her device as her parents and little brother enjoy all the entertainments, the park offers. The clip ends with her sending her parents BEST VACATION EVER!!! slideshow with photos taken during the trip. Even the music used in the video is remarkably similar in style and sound to Apple’s earlier ”Photos Every Day” ad.

The original Apple commercial gained ton of positive comments and praises for being a beautifully-made and emotionally-engaging clip that, in typical Apple style, emphasized the users and how they use the technology rather than the product and its specifications. However, there were some, who found it as a ”sad commentary.”

As for Universal, the company says it is just an unfortunate coincidence, claiming that it was testing the spot since July and went into production in October. Meanwhile, Pundit Jon Gruber of Daring Fireball believes that Universal Orlando must have ”hired Samsung’s ad agency” in creating the ad, refering to Samsung’s tendency to copy Apple ideas.

iPad, News/Rumors

Apple debuted two new ‘Your Verse’ iPad Air ads

As part of its ongoing “Your Verse” ad campaign,  Apple on Wednesday debuted two new iPad Air ads on broadcast and cable TV networks. The ads are dubbed, ‘Light Verse’ and ‘Sound Verse.” Both are standard 30-second spots once again focusing on the iPad Air’s eclectic capabilities as a tool for professionals and everyday users.

The ads follow last week’s 90-second iPad commercial, with a Robin Williams’ monologue from the “Dead Poets Society” movie in which he’s quoting Walt Whitman’s “O Me! O Life!” poem. In similar fashion, the two new shorter ads show the iPad being used in a wide range of everyday activities, with only the ending of Whitman’s poem being delivered by both commercials: “That you are here – that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

The new ads basically include the same scenes from the original video, which show the iPad Air being used by mountain climbers, deep sea divers, children, and more.

In addition to two new iPad Air ads based on Whitman’s verse theme, the company has also created a special “Your Verse” page on its website, designed to show the many ways people use its iPads in different parts of the world.

The new iPad Air TV commercials follow below.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Beats doubles length of free ‘Music’ trial following launch issues

Earlier this week, Beats launched its long-awaited streaming music service called Beats Music for US listeners on the Web, Android and iOS, but apparently there are still some issues to solve in it.

According to a blog post by CEO Ian Rogers, a number of users are suffering from problems “due to the extremely high volume of interest” in its service.

“Most people are unaffected but our priority is to give everyone a great experience. We prepared for issues like these, have a plan, and are going to hold off on letting more people in while we put this plan in action.”

The company says that those who managed to get in before the shutdown occurred will be able to continue using Beats Music. Those who want to sign up can still download the app and register; Beats notes it’ll notify those new members when the app is ready to be used.

Beats Music

Meanwhile, the service Beats Music is offering everyone who registers this week an extra week of free service to try Beats out, regardless of whether or not they’re having trouble with the app, doubling the original trial period.

After that, the service will be available for $9.99 a month for unlimited streaming of over 20 million songs, unlimited album downloads for offline streaming and no ads.

The app can be downloaded from the App Store for free, or from the web at www.beatsmusic.com.

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.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

T-Mobile’s new service offers personal banking

The US carrier, T-Mobile, which has been calling itself the “Uncarrier,” is now moving into personal banking.

This morning, the company announced its move to Mobile Money, meaning a step to banking business with a new service that includes a Visa card, a smartphone app, and a no-fee checking account. ‘Mobile Money’ is a new money management app that is designed for use with a reloadable T-Mobile Visa Prepaid card.

According to the T-Mobile’s press release:

“We’ve already transformed how Americans use and pay for phones, tablets and wireless service; why stop there?” said John Legere, president and chief executive officer of T-Mobile. “Millions of Americans pay outrageous fees to check cashers, payday lenders and other predatory businesses – just for the right to use their own money. Mobile Money shifts the balance of power for T-Mobile customers and keeps more money in their pockets.”

t-mobile-mobile-money-app

T-Mobile is offering zero cost or reduced fee services for registered wireless customers via Mobile Money, meaning “no charges for activation, monthly maintenance, in-network ATM withdrawals, overdraft, or for replacing lost or stolen cards.”

The new app also allows customers to use traditional checking accounts, make purchases, deposit checks from smartphone cameras, pay bills from more than 42,000 in-network ATMs around the world with no ATM fees. There is no need to go to the bank or a check casher.

T-Mobile notes that customers can register for a personalized T-Mobile Visa Prepaid Card starting today.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Leaked screenshots appear to be Apple’s upcoming iOS in the Car interface

When Apple released iOS 7 at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) back in June 2013, the company mentioned a significant feature called “iOS in the Car,” which was expected to allow drivers vehicles to talk to Siri, listen to and respond to text messages, use Maps, and perform other tasks without removing their hands from the wheel.  However, that innovative feature was not included into the original iOS 7, but, according to some rumors, it will be supported in the iOS 7.1 update that’s currently in beta testing.

On Tuesday one developer, Steven Troughton-Smith,  posted a number of photos on Twitter of what appears to offer an early look at Apple’s upcoming iOS in the Car interface. Meanwhile, it is unclear how Troughton-Smith managed to take the images, which show a simple iOS 7-style Maps design. The app developer declined to comment.

According to the Apple’s official web page, there is still “coming soon” status and the following description of the feature:

“iOS in the Car seamlessly integrates your iOS device — and the iOS experience — with your in-dash system. If your vehicle is equipped with iOS in the Car, you can connect your iPhone 5 or later and interact with it using the car’s built-in display and controls or Siri Eyes Free. Now you can easily and safely make phone calls, access your music, send and receive messages, get directions, and more. It’s all designed to let iPhone focus on what you need, so you can focus on the road.”

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Many car manufacturers have expressed interest in implementing iOS in the Car in their 2014 models, including Honda, Mercedes, Nissan, Chevy, Kia, Volvo and Acura, and more. A number of automobile maker have already included support for last year’s Siri Eyes Free, cars with full support for iOS in the Car have yet to be released.

News/Rumors

Google and Apple shuttles will pay for using San Francisco bus stops

San Francisco transit officials on Tuesday agreed to implement a pilot shuttle bus program that will charge Google, Apple and other tech companies $1 to make pickups at public bus stops.

A number of tech companies, including Apple, Google, and Facebook often use private buses to carry employees from living areas in San Francisco and the bay area to company campuses in places like Cupertino, Mountain View, and Menlo Park.  The commuter buses take about 17,000 passengers a day from their homes in San Francisco to dozens of technology companies.

Previously, the city was not getting any income from the campus buses, mindful that they often used city bus stops. Today that changed as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) accepted terms of the pilot program, that will require commuter shuttle buses from companies like Apple to pay $1 for each stop they make every day.

“In my mind, the pilot project is clearly better than what we have now,” said SFMTA Chairman Tom Nolan.

Any money collected by the SFMTA is said to be used to cover the new permit program, enforcement, and further evaluation of the pilot. California law prohibits profiting off the project.

Bus

Commuter shuttle buses have been subject to a number of protests for the last few months:

“While the Silicon Valley companies will now be giving back to the city more than they have in the past, a formalized shuttle system won’t answer the concerns that the tech industry is causing class warfare in San Francisco. Housing prices in the city are skyrocketing out of the reach of ordinary citizens, and many are blaming the high-income individuals employed by companies like Facebook, Apple, and Google.”

Under the program, shuttle buses will have to pay $1 for each stop, amounting to about $1.5 million over the 18-month pilot, which is scheduled to start in July 2014. The city estimates medium size companies will pay around $80,000 per year, while larger businesses like Apple and Google will put in over $100,000.

News/Rumors

China requires Internet users to provide real names for video uploads

The chinese government requires users to enter their real names by registering to upload videos.

According to the Reuters reports, the requirement was issued on Monday by China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT). The new rule, which means less and less anonymity for users, is necessary to “prevent vulgar content, base art forms, exaggerated violence and sexual content in internet video having a negative effect on society.”

The notice from SARFT also says that Web video services can only host videos which have been uploaded by a user with a “true identity” — which suggests users will need to verify their identity according to their national ID — and cannot host any content that comes from users without real names.

Rights groups showed their  thumbs down, saying this move is another tool for the ruling Communist Party to limit criticism of it and further control freedom of expression.

china-real name

It is not the first time, when the country considers the idea of getting internet users register with the real name. In 2013 China’s new policy required users to provide their actual names to identify themselves to providers of Internet and telecommunications services.

As for Web video services, back in 2012 the Chinese government reached out to providers like Sina and Youku to let them know that they will be held responsible for all content posted to their services and issued a circular that emphasized ”good” Web series and micro-films would help develop a positive Web culture. According to the government, a lot of online programs contained seriously vulgar and violent content.

Moreover, the government had an attempt in implementing similar way of registration for buying SIM cards and signing up for instant messaging app WeChat. However, Web visitors managed easily to avoid these rules.

iOS

Apple provides iOS 7.1 beta 4 to developers

Apple on Tuesday released the fourth beta of iOS version 7.1 to developers, which includes a fix for a message sending bug and a number of new changes to the operating system. Meanwhile, other issues from previous versions remain unaddressed.

While iOS 7.1 beta 3 came with a number of visual changes, iOS 7.1 beta 4 focused more heavily on behind-the-scenes enhancements. However, it included a few tweaks to further streamline the look of iOS 7.

The new version was introduced only two weeks after the release of iOS 7.1′s third developer preview. It can be downloaded from Apple’s developer website and over-the-air on test devices. The beta’s 4 build number is reportedly 11D5134c, and ships alongside Xcode 5.1 build number 5B90f.

The main issue, which caused messages to show a failure message immediately after sending is said to have been fixed. However, 32-bit apps are noted still not to work properly on 64-bit devices, icluding iPad Air and iPhone 5s.

beta 4

As for Xcode, it was reportedly provided with a number of improvements in its latest beta version. Interface Builder also saw a few tweaks and performance enhancement.
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Apps designed for the Mac App Store which need a provisioning profile are said not to build correctly or may crash at launch with a “Permission Denied” error in the latest version of beta. That means, that developers have to choose another build setting manually. Developers may also suffer from performance issues, when simulating iOS versions earlier than iOS 6.1 in Mavericks.

The release of iOS 7.1 is expected to be set on March.

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.