Verizon has made its Advanced Calling 1.0 feature available to the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The free service will pass voice calls over Verizon's LTE 4G network rather than the cellular network. It offers high-quality voice calls and video calls. In order to enable the service, owners of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus need to use the settings tool to allow "voice & data" over LTE directly on their phone. Once enabled, the feature will appear as active in their Verizon account online. VoLTE calls only work between two Verizon VoLTE-enabled devices. The only other Verizon devices that support VoLTE right now are the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G2.
Google today said that encryption will be turned on automatically in the next release of Android, which is expected to arrive next month. Encryption will make it harder for law enforcement to access user data on such devices. "For over three years Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement," said company spokeswoman Niki Christoff to the Washington Post. "As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won't even have to think about turning it on." With encryption turned on, only those who enter the correct password will be able to gain access the device and the information stored on it, such as photos and videos. New devices that ship with Android L will benefit from this immediately. In the mean time, Android device owners can turn on encryption manually in the settings menu. Earlier this week, Apple said it took similar steps with the latest release of its mobile operating system, iOS8, which is also encrypted.
Twitter today updated its application for iOS devices. The new version of Twitter makes two major changes. First, it places a greater emphasis on user profiles, which are easier to see. Twitter explains that bios are visible as soon as you get to the profile page for any given user, it no longer requires a swipe to access. The improved profiles are visible to all devices running iOS7 and up. Second, Twitter for iOS8 takes advantage of some of the new features in the operating system from Apple. iPhone owners running iOS8 will be able to interact directly with push notifications from Twitter, meaning they can Retweet, favorite, and follow directly from the notifications as they appear on the screen. Twitter is free to download from the App Store.
Apple's new iPhones will include a kill switch that owners can use to remotely lock or wipe them, reports Reuters. The feature has been part of iOS for several years, but the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will have the feature turned on by default. The feature can be installed on older iPhone models, as well. The news comes from the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, rather than Apple itself. Earlier this year, Apple, Google, and Microsoft all agreed to add kill switches to their devices by July 2015. Most major wireless network operators in the U.S. have agreed to a similar framework. Lawmakers believe the presence of the kill switch will eventually deter street crime and reduce the thefts of smartphones. The logic behind the effort is to reduce the demand for stolen goods by allowing owners to render them useless and valueless to thieves.
Apple has delayed the release of HealthKit, which is part of iOS8, thanks to a bug. "We discovered a bug that prevents us from making HealthKit apps available on iOS 8 today. We're working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month," said Apple. Users who install iOS8 will notice the Apple Health app has been added to their iPhone, but without associated apps it isn't of much use. HealthKit serves as the link between health/fitness apps and Apple Health on the iPhone. According to Reuters, apps developed by MyFitnessPal and WebMD were yanked from the App Store at the last moment today thanks to the bug.
Apple released iOS8 today and with the updated operating system comes a new feature many will surely relish: support for third-party keyboards. Though Apple took care to revise its own keyboard application, iOS devices can now install and use keyboard apps made by other companies. Some of the first to leave the gate are Swype and SwiftKey, two keyboards that are well known to Android device owners. Swype is available for $0.99 and the SwiftKey Keyboard is available for free. Swype includes several themes, supports a handful of languages, and supports personal dictionaries. iPhone owners can easily switch between the stock keyboard and Swype for easier typing. Swype works on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. SwiftKey offers a similar feature set, including word predictions, enhanced autocorrect, and cloud-based learning for a more personal experience across devices. SwiftKey's one limitation is that the Flow (tracing) keyboard only works with the iPhone and iPod, but not the iPad. Flesky and Minuum are two other such apps.
Verizon Wireless has slowly begun to enable VoLTE on select devices on its network. To start, VoLTE is available to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G3. In order to use the service, subscribers need to download an app called Advanced Calling 1.0. More devices will supported over time. In order for VoLTE to work, both parties need to have VoLTE-capable phones and access to Verizon's LTE 4G network. The service, which is free to use, offers high-quality calls that are passed over the data network rather than the traditional voice network. Separately, Verizon Wireless said that, like AT&T, it is going to wait until 2015 to launch Wi-Fi Calling. Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said it will eventually roll out the service, which is supported by the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but it is not a priority. "We built our voice platform so extensively [that] there was never a need for us to tell our customers, 'Oh, our network is not good enough so you need to go on Wi-Fi to complete your call,'" said Shammo. Both Sprint and T-Mobile offer Wi-Fi Calling to a growing number of handsets. T-Mobile just today launched its Personal CellSpot in order to help its customers experience better voice connectivity when in their homes.
Apple today released iOS8 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (5th gen). iOS8 offers a number of refinements to Apple's mobile operating system. Some of the new features include a new word prediction engine and support for third-party keyboards; family sharing for iTunes content; Continuity for seamless messaging across devices; revised gallery and camera apps that make sharing and editing easier; improvements to Spotlight search; the ability to send audio clips within text messages; and Health for tracking fitness and health apps. iOS8 is compatible with the iPhone 4s, 5, 5s, and 5c, as well as most iPads. It comes preinstalled on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which go on sale September 19. The system update can be installed over Wi-Fi or via iTunes.
A federal court today threw out a guilty verdict levied against Apple in 2012 over patents related to its FaceTime application. A company called VirnetX sued Apple, alleging FaceTime infringed on VirnetX's intellectual property. VirnetX sought damages of $708 million, but the Tyler, Texas, jury awarded it $368 million in 2012. Today's action sees the basic guilty verdict vacated based on some technicalities experienced in the original trial. The appeals court believes Apple did in fact violate VirnetX's patents, and sent the case back to trial for further examination.
AT&T's top exec today said the company won't offer WiFi calling on its devices until next year. WiFi Calling has been around for years, but was highlighted by Apple this week as a new feature in the iPhone 6/6 Plus. Further, T-Mobile announced this week plans to expand WiFi calling to all its smartphones with a new in-home hotspot. T-Mobile's WiFi service goes live soon, but AT&T is in no rush to compete. "We're very focused on making sure it's a great experience for customers, but we see it as a complement, not a replacement," said CEO Ralph de la Vega. "We feel good about a great nationwide network with unlimited talk and text." WiFi calling passes voice calls and text messages over a local WiFi network rather than the macro cellular network.
T-Mobile today said it will make Wi-Fi calling available to all its postpaid customers for free. The move, announced at an event in San Francisco, is meant to help provide improved voice coverage in spaces where T-Mobile's network doesn't reach. Wi-Fi calls can be made from any open network. Even so, T-Mobile also debuted the T-Mobile Personal Cell Spot. This Wi-Fi hotspot, made by Asus, requires a $25 deposit and works with existing in-home internet service. It will permit T-Mobile customers to experience high-quality Wi-Fi calls when at home. It prioritizes voice functionality over data functionality. New phones sold by T-Mobile (including the iPhone 6) will have this new functionality built in from the get-go, while older devices will receive an update to gain the new Wi-Fi calling features. The Personal Cell Spot will remain private; only those with the Wi-Fi password will be able to use it for calls and messaging. The Wi-Fi calling feature is free to use for all customers. T-Mobile offered a similar service back in 2007, called Hotspot@Home, but discontinued it in 2010. T-Mobile also announced a partnership with GoGo that will let its customers send and receive SMS/MMS messages from GoGo-equipped airplanes, as well as receive visual voicemail. The in-flight messaging service goes live September 17 and is free to all T-Mobile customers. The service will work with select phones at launch, including Samsung Galaxy S5, Apple iPhone 5s, HTC One, and LG G3 among others. More will be added over time.
Sprint today announced a new program that will make it easier for customers to afford the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Sprint's iPhone 6 leasing program allows subscribers to obtain the iPhone 6 for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $20 (16-GB version). The 64-GB model costs $25 per month and the $128-GB model costs $30 per month. After two years, customers can turn the device in and receive the next-generation iPhone under the same terms. The iPhone 6 Plus will cost $5 more per month for each storage variant. Additionally, Sprint said the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will be eligible for a new Simply Unlimited plan that offers unlimited talk, text, and data for just $50 per month for a single line. Sprint does not throttle data speeds, nor does it charge overages. Sprint's already-announced family plans (four to ten lines) are being offered at the existing rates. Families looking to finance the iPhone 6 can make use of Sprint's Easy Pay program. Last, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are Sprint Spark-compatible, which means they operate on Sprint's faster LTE service.
Softcard, the mobile payment venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, today said it is "actively working with Apple to enable Softcard on the iPhone in 2015," according to CEO Michael Abbott. Softcard said Apple's decision to support NFC is "very significant and sets the stage for rapid scale adoption of mobile commerce." Softcard (the new brand name for Isis) has been available to Android smartphones since November 2013 and the iPhone via a special case since early 2014. Apple today separately announced its own mobile payment service called Apple Pay. Apple Pay will use NFC and properly-equipped retail terminals to power tap-and-go payments. Apple Pay launches in October with support from a number of banks and retailers.
Apple today announced the Apple Watch, a smart watch marking its entry into the wearables market. The device has an overall square shape, but features gently rounded side edges. The Apple Watch will be available in solver and gold, and will be compatible with a number of different straps that slide in and out of a unique slot. Apple calls it "the most personal device we've ever created." Apple says it is synced with universal time standards and is used as a personal health and fitness tracker.,thanks to a trio of sensors placed on the back. Apple worked hard to redefine the user interface, which is entirely different from that of iOS. It features a physical dial on the side that is used to zoom in and out of whatever is one the screen. A press of the dial takes you back to the home screen. The Apple Watch has a sapphire touch screen that displays notifications. Watches can be aware of one another and send short messages, and the device can accept voice dictation as well. It charges via mag-safe magnetic induction. The charger attaches to the back of the Watch. There are two different sizes to accommodate a range of wrist sizes. The UI allows people to alter the expression of emoji, draw little figures, choose between predetermined answers to messages, and even view photos that have been favorited in iCloud. The device will be able to run third-party apps, and Apple released WatchKit in association with the device so developers can get to work coding. The device will be available in early 2015 with a price point starting at $349.
Apple today announced its intent to reshape the way people pay for goods and services with Apple Pay. Rather than develop a system that benefits Apple, Apple said it designed Apple Pay so that it offers the best user experience possible for consumers. The process involves tapping the iPhone against a compatible terminal and using the fingerprint reader to verify the purchase. Apple stores the user credit card information in a secure element on the phone. Apple Pay integrates easily with Apple's Passbook application, which collects and manages loyalty cards and similar programs. According to Apple, iPhone owners can use the credit card they already have on file with iTunes, or add others. Visa, MasterCard, and AMEX are supporting Apple Pay in the U.S., with banks such as Chase, Citi, WellsFargo, CapitalOne, and Bank of America. The system will be supported at 22,000 retailers across the U.S. at marquee retailers and restaurants such as Macy's, Bloomingdales, Wallgreens, Duane Reade, Subway, McDonalds, Whole Foods, Staples, Subway, and others. The system doesn't actually share the owner's credit card number with the merchant, and instead creates a distinct, one-time transaction code. Users don't need to put in the name, address, or any other information; simply press the fingerprint scanner. Apple Pay is available to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and will launch in October.
Apple today said iOS 8 will be available to existing iOS devices beginning September 17. It is compatible with the iPhone 5s, 5c, and 4s; the iPad 2, iPad with Retina Display, iPad Air, iPad mini, iPad Mini with Retina Display; and the iPod 5th generation.
Apple today revealed new iPhones during a special event held in California. The new devices have curved designs, a protruding camera module, and Apple's signature metal design. The phones have a glass front, aluminum frame, and a steel Apple logo on the back. The iPhones have Retina HD displays that measure 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, respectively. The smaller screen has 1334 x 750 pixels and the larger one has 1920 x 1080 pixels. The iPhone 6 measures 6.9mm thick, the 6 Plus measures 7.1mm - both are thinner than the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 6 Plus offers a wide array of landscape-optimized apps, such as a two-panel view in messaging, along with a wider keyboard. A double-press of the home button will move the UI elements normally positioned at the top of the screen down so they are easier to reach with one hand. Apple said content designed for the different iOS screen sizes and resolutions will now scale up to match whichever device is being used. The phones feature a 64-bit A8 processor that uses a 20nm processes that Apple says is 20% faster than the iPhone 5s' A7 chip, and provides a 50% bump in graphics performance. The iPhones also use Apple's M8 Motion coprocessor to help manage sensors for fitness apps. The sensors are able to differentiate between cycling and walking, and can calculate speed and elevation changes. The new handsets feature 20-band support for LTE networks, and include carrier aggregation, VoLTE capabilities, and Wi-Fi calling (from select carriers). The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus both feature an 8-megapixel camera with an aperture of f/2.2 and what Apple calls True Tone flash. The cameras can shoot panoramas up to 43-megapixels. Thanks to a new image signal processor, the cameras are faster to focus, and faster to detect faces/blinking. The 6 uses digital processing for image stabilization, but the 6 Plus uses optical image stabilization. The cameras can shoot 1080p HD vide at 30/60fps, as well as slow-motion video at 120/240fps. The user-facing camera, which Apple calls FaceTime, has an all-new sensor that is faster at detecting faces, allows in 81% more light than the 5s, and can capture selfies in rapid-fire bursts. The iPhone 6 will cost $199, $299, or $399 for the 16-GB, 64-GB, and 129-GB models, respectively. The iPhone 6 Plus costs $299, $399, and $499 for the 16-GB, 64-GB, and 128-GB models, respectively. Those prices are available only with two-year contracts. Both iPhones go on sale September 19, with preorders beginning September 12. The iPhone 5s will remain available for $99, the 8GB iPhone 5c will be available for free.
Apple CEO Tim Cook today said the company will do more to alert iCloud users about potential security threats. Beginning in about two weeks, Apple will send emails and push notifications to make consumers aware of attempts to change their password, restore iCloud data to a new device, or when a new device logs into the account for the first time. This way, users will be able to act sooner to curb data thefts. The changes come in the wake of a recent breach that allowed hackers to find and post private photos of celebrities.
Google today agreed to settle a lawsuit filed against it by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over unauthorized in-app purchases made by children. Google will pay the FTC a fine of $19 million to settle charges that it was too easy for kids to spend money on applications without obtaining the account holder's consent. Google also has to put more safeguards in place so customers' accounts are not hit with unauthorized in-app charges. Apple reached a similar settlement with the FTC in January, though it is paying $32.5 million.
Nokia is preparing to release versions of its mapping application for the Android and iOS platforms. Nokia executive Sean Fernback told The Wall Street Journal the apps will offer features not available to Google Maps and Apple Maps. For example, Nokia Maps users will be able to download maps of cities, regions, or states so they may be used when offline. This is a hallmark feature of Nokia's HERE Maps for Windows Phone. Nokia believes its offline maps will draw users away from Google and Apple's alternatives. The offline maps will support searches, as well. "I'm convinced people are looking for alternatives," said Fernback. "Google Maps is a good solution for many, their maps work very well, but it has looked the same and done the same for a long time." Nokia released a version of its HERE Maps for iOS back in 2012, but later pulled the app after it received poor reviews. Nokia plans to release the new Android and iOS mapping apps before the end of the year. Nokia sold its handset business to Microsoft earlier this year, but retained ownership of its mapping business.
Apple lost in its attempt to ban the sale of select Samsung devices today, as U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh denied Apple's request. The company sought a ban on devices found to infringe on its patents at trial earlier this year. "Apple has not demonstrated that it will suffer irreparable harm to its reputation or goodwill as an innovator without an injunction," wrote Judge Koh in her ruling. Apple was also denied a bid to ban sales of older Samsung phones in the 2012 patent trial that it won. Juries awarded Apple damages of $120 million and $930 million in the 2014 and 2012 cases, respectively. Samsung is still appealing to have the damages reduced or overturned. Earlier this year, Apple and Samsung resolve all their patent issues outside the U.S., leaving only these two cases unresolved.
AT&T today made some changes in its executive ranks and has replaced Ralph de la Vega as the CEO of AT&T Mobility. Taking de la Vega's place is Glenn Lurie, a longtime AT&T vet who was instrumental in bringing the Apple iPhone to AT&T back in 2007. Lurie most recently oversaw AT&T's connect home business. He will head the entire wireless group moving forward, but AT&T also indicated it is merging its wireless and enterprise solutions groups. The new, merged business unit will be managed by de la Vega. His new title is CEO Mobile & Business Solutions. The executive changes are effective immediately. AT&T Mobility's change of CEO follows closely that of Sprint's, which replaced Dan Hesse with Marcelo Claure.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that will mandate all smartphones to come with a kill switch by July 2015. The law's goal is to curb smartphone thefts. Lawmakers believe that allowing smartphones owners to render their device unusable after it is stolen will reduce the appeal to thieves, who won't be able to use or sell them. Minnesota enacted a similar law earlier this year, and the CTIA Wireless Association said all carriers will support kill switches by July 2015, too. Apple already added a kill switch functionality to iOS, and Google and Microsoft are working on similar tools for Android and Windows Phone.
Huawei recently said it has no plans to release a Tizen-based smartphone, and also said it will no longer make smartphones using Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system. "Some telecom carriers are pushing us to design Tizen phones but I say 'no' to them. In the past we had a team to do research on Tizen but I canceled it," said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's consumer business group, to The Wall Street Journal. "We feel Tizen has no chance to be successful. Even for Windows Phone it's difficult to be successful." Tizen is a Linux-based platform created by Samsung and Intel. Samsung, Tizen's primary backer, has delayed plans to realize a Tizen phone indefinitely as it builds up the app ecosystem. Huawei remains a member of the Tizen Association, but its new stance on the platform further clouds Tizen's potential. As for Windows Phone, Huawei complained of losing money on the platform for two years. "We have tried using the Windows Phone OS. But it has been difficult to persuade consumers to buy a Windows phone," said Yu. "It wasn't profitable for us. So for now we've decided to put any releases of new Windows phones on hold. We have worries about Android being the only option, but we have no choice. And we have a good collaboration with Google." Google's Android platform holds about 85% of the global smartphone market, with Apple's iOS holding 11% and Windows Phone holding 2.5%. BlackBerry's share of the market is less than 1%.
Apple has launched an iPhone 5 battery replacement program. According to Apple, a limited number of iPhone 5s sold between September 2012 and January 2013 may experience a sudden decrease in battery life, requiring frequent recharges. Customers who believe their device may be affected can verify their device's eligibility through the serial number. Apple will replace the battery for free, or reimburse customers who paid to have the battery replaced on their own. Apple said the program is limited to batteries. iPhones with cracked screens or other problems will likely incur charges to have those separate issues resolved before the battery is replaced. The program launched in the U.S. and China on August 22, and will launch in other countries August 29.
Samsung said it has agreed to purchase a startup called SmartThings. SmartThings, which is based in Washington, develops technology for the Internet of Things. It sells a home controller device for $99, but has also created an online service to help developers design and create their own internet-enabled and smartphone-controlled gadgets. The company claims 8,000 apps and 1,000 devices use its platform. SmartThings will move its operations to Palo Alto, Calif., where Samsung has a developer facility, but SmartThings' CEO Alex Hawkinson said the company will be run independently. The move is largely seen as a way for Samsung to counter steps made by Google and Apple to expand the functionality of their smartphones and tablets to control household items. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
OmniVision today indicated it has received an acquisition offer from China-based venture capitalists. Hua Capital Management offered $29 per share for OmniVision, which values the company at about $1.67 billion. OmniVision makes camera sensors for smartphones and tablets. Its chips are found in devices such as the Apple iPhone. OmniVision's products compete with those from Sony, Samsung, and others. OmniVision, which is based in California, said it is evaluating the offer.
The USB Promotors Group has finished developing the design and specifications for the USB Type-C plug and port. The Type-C connector will replace the Type-B connector (microUSB) found in most modern mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. One of the key aspects of the Type-C connector is that it is reversible and can be inserted either way (much like Apple's Lightning connector). The Type-C connector will support USB 3.1, providing for theoretical data transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps, and 100W of power for charging batteries. According to the USB Promoters Group, USB Type-C will be fast and powerful enough for laptops, in addition to smartphones and tablets. The Type-C connector will not be compatible with existing USB ports, but the USB Promoters Group claims an extensive array of adapters will be made available during its introduction. It's unclear how long it will take hardware manufacturers to adopt the new standard, but the USB Promoters Group is already offering companies the technical details they need to get started.
HTC and the Car Connectivity Consortium today announced that a forthcoming software update will make the One (M8) MirrorLink compatible. MirrorLink is a connectivity tool for pairing smartphones and cars. It works across smartphone platforms and car manufacturers, and, according to the CCC, is the only vendor-neutral standard available. With MirrorLink aboard, the One (M8) will be able to connect to select in-car infotainment systems,m allowing drivers to more safely access their phone's content when behind the wheel. It's unclear how many cars currently support MirrorLink, but the CCC hopes with HTC's support more will choose to support it. Apple and Google both recently announced their own connectivity solutions for cars, which are expected to appear in iOS 8 and Android Release L, respectively. HTC said it will add MirrorLink support to mode devices down the road.
Apple and Samsung said they will cease squabbling over patents in various courts around the world. "Apple and Samsung have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States," they said in a statement. "This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in U.S. courts." Apple and Samsung have been slugging it out in courts for years over smartphone patents in countries around the globe, including Australia, Germany, Korea, the Netherlands, and the U.K. The two companies still have ongoing unresolved court cases in the U.S. Apple won a major victory in 2012 and a smaller one earlier this year, though the cases are in various stages of appeal.
Apple today closed its acquisition of Beats Audio. The $3 billion deal was announced earlier this year. Apple now owns Beats' headphone and music streaming businesses, which it will use to enhance its own offerings.
The European Union has given the green light to Apple's proposed acquisition of Beats Audio. Apple announced its plan to buy the music-focused company earlier this year in a deal valued at about $3 billion. The deal includes Beats' headphones business and music streaming service. U.S. regulators are still researching the deal. Beats was recently sued by Bose for infringing on noise cancellation technology. It's not clear if or how Bose's legal action will impact Apple's ability to close the acquisition of Beats.
Sony plans to make a large investment its in imaging business and will increase production of CMOS sensors for mobile devices. The company will spend as much as $345 million to improve the capacity of its sensor-making facilities. Sony has already purchased several new manufacturing plants. The company currently makes about 60,000 sensors a month. It will improve those yields to 68,000 by August 2015 and eventually 75,000 by the end of 2015. Sony makes CMOS sensors for its own smartphones and tablets, but also for other manufacturers, such as Apple.
Apple and IBM today announced a partnership that will see more business-oriented apps developed for iOS, and IBM selling iPhones and iPads directly to its large corporate customers. The two companies will jointly develop the apps, of which there will be about 100, targeted as various industries. IBM is today primarily a software and services provider, implementing complete IT solutions for large companies.
Apple has introduced a rudimentary mobile payment system in Japan. The system exposes the user's iTunes account via a 2D barcode on a Passbook card, and allows users to carry a positive cash balance, much like a Starbucks account used through Apple's Passbook app. For now, the system can only be used to purchase apps and content through Apple's iTunes and App Store, and deposits must be made in person at Apple Stores. Although the current system is quite limited, it marks a new step for Apple toward full mobile payments, and gives a glimpse of how such a system could work.
Apple today released iTunes 11.3 and discussed new features headed to the iPhone and iPad later this year. iTunes 11.3 adds new support for "extras" that are often available with purchases of HD movies. Extras typically contain interviews, shorts, and other production content associated with movies. Moving forward, extras will be added to prior HD movie purchases automatically. Extras will also become available for viewing on the Apple TV for the first time. Last, extras will be available to devices running iOS 8 when it launches later this year. Apple is currently beta testing iOS 8, which is expected to debut in September or October.
Amazon has made clear to the Federal Trade Commission that it will not settle with the government over claims it didn't adequately prevent customers from making in-app purchases. Consumers complained that children were able to easily make unwanted in-app purchases from Amazon's Appstore. Amazon has operated its own Appstore for Android and Fire OS apps since 2011. The FTC has threatened Amazon with litigation if it fails to sign a consent decree similar to the one signed by Apple earlier this year. Apple settled with the FTC for $32.5 million in order to avoid any courtroom drama. Amazon believes it responded quickly and adequately to the issue at hand and shouldn't be beholden to government action. The company said in a letter to the FTC that it will defend itself in court. The FTC argues that Amazon needs to require passwords for in-app purchases, make warnings more prominent, and make it easier for customers to receive refunds. Amazon has already provided some refunds. The FTC has yet to file formal charges.
Microsoft has joined the AllSeen Alliance, an effort backed by Qualcomm to provide a standard for connecting the Internet of Things. The alliance already has 50 companies on board, including LG, Panasonic, and Sharp. The group's goal is to make it easy for devices to interact with one another by devising a single standard through which they can communicate. Qualcomm's rivals, however, are prepared to form their own group, according to unnamed sources cited by Reuters. The competing consortium may launch as soon as next week, and will seek to create its own standard for connecting the Internet of Things. Apple has already announced HomeKit, its own protocol for connecting smartphones and tablets to devices around the home. Further, Google recently released an SDK for its Nest thermostat, which will eventually allow smartphones, tablets, and other apps to interact with Nest. Multiple standards may make it more difficult for consumers to find devices that work with one another. Reuters didn't say which companies are going to support the competitor to AllSeen.
Apple today released a minor update to iOS for iPhones and iPads. The small system jump resolves several bugs and can be downloaded and installed over the air for free.
T-Mobile today announced customers can now purchase an Apple iPhone at Apple retail stores and use it with T-Mobile's prepaid, no-contract plans. T-Mobile is offering iPhone buyers a $50 discount off the price of the phone when paired with a prepaid plan. Customers who buy an iPhone and use it with T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans will receive a $50 iTunes gift card. T-Mobile also announced today it is selling the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad Mini with Retina Display (with T-Mobile LTE) at Costco locations around the U.S. T-Mobile says Costco is offering the devices at "competitive out-of-pocket prices." Today's announcements come on the heels of T-Mobile's free, week-long iPhone trial, which was revealed at its UNCarrier announcement in Seattle. All three promotions are meant to help T-Mobile sell more iPhones.