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.

incipio-cashwrap-att

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.”

iosinthecar1

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.
ios714
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.

machine-130606

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.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Beats launches ‘Music’ streaming service and iPhone app

As promised, Beats on Tuesday launched much-rumored Beats Music streaming service and app, adding yet another music streaming option from which iPhone and iPod touch owners can choose.

The headphone-maker joined the highly competitive world of streaming audio, already occupied by existing services like Pandora, Spotify, Rdio and Apple’s own iTunes Radio. However, the new service is moving in a different direction. Unlike Rdios and  Spotifys, Beats Music doesn’t offer a free ad-supported model and the company focuses mainly on its custom radio stations and playlists that it says were curated by some of the best DJs in the world.

“We wanted to build a music service that combined the freedom of an on-demand subscription service – unlimited, uninterrupted streaming and downloads of tens of millions of songs – but layer on top features that would give you that feeling only music that moves you can give. The right song at the right time will give you a chill. Make you pull someone close. Nod your head. Sing in the mirror. Roll down the car window and crank the volume to the right.”Beats_Music

Over 20 million songs from a wide range of genres are available for both streaming and offline listening.

The Beats mobile app allows users to access this powerful curation with just a number of taps. It features ‘Right Now’ option, which makes it possible to input where they are, what they’re doing and what they want to listen to, and ‘Highlights,’ which allows the Beats Djs to pick the right music.

With the new app, music fans can simply open the app and tap ‘Play’ to start streaming music, or add and share their own playlists. They are also allowed to listen to all of their favorite albums offline. Sharing option lets share favorite tracks, albums and playlists via Facebook, Twitter and Beats Music’s own network.

The first negotiation between Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine and Apple executives, including CEO Tim Cook and SVP of Internet Services Eddy Cue took place in 2013, where the Apple executives expressed interest in the service’s “business model and plans”.

You can download Beats Music from the App Store for free, but it is a subscription service that will run you $9.99 a month. Beats offers also a free 7-day trial period for first-time users.

News/Rumors

Apple focuses on medical sensor field

Apple seems to be planning to start working on wearable computers and medical-sensor-laden devices. Evidence proves that the company has hired a pair of personal health sensor hardware experts in recent months.

Apple recently offered its cooperation to Nancy Dougherty, who joined the company as a hardware engineer, according to her LinkedIn page. She previously took a position of a hardware developer at Sano Intelligence, a biosensor startup that was profiled by The New York Times back in 2012.

According to her  LinkedIn page, Dougherty worked on a hardware product to monitor blood chemistry via a wearable device. She also worked at Proteus Digital Health on a “Bluetooth-enabled electronic “Band-Aid” that monitors heart rate, respiration, motion, and temperature”.

Apple also hired Ravi Narasimhan, who worked for Vital Connect, a biosensor technology company where he was “responsible for biosensor technology and algorithms for remote physiological monitoring with wearable medical devices”. His inventions were developed to process heart monitoring, respiration, fall detection, posture and activity.

nancy_ravi

In addition to these new specialists, Apple made a few other hires related to the health sensor field, who also have joined the iWatch team. Apple’s interest in blood monitoring through skin is important in light of the much rumored wearable device.

Furthermore, the company is reportedly  “actively investigating” iris scanning technology. Apple seems to be planning to use other sensors already applied in the iPhone, like the accelerometer and compass, to enhance facial recognition.

Regardless of when the product is set to debut, it appears that Apple is stacking up its resources to develop a wearable computer that is truly groundbreaking for the medical world, and that the company will not introduce it until it is ready.