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Apple Strikes Deal with PayAnywhere to Expand Apple Pay

Yesterday, 12:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today announced that Apple Pay is now compatible with PayAnywhere, a type of credit card reader that's in use at about 300,000 locations around the U.S. Apple will sell the newest version of the PayAnywhere terminal to merchants through its own stores. The deal expands the availability of Apple Pay significantly. Apple said it hopes to see Apple Pay accepted at more than 1.5 million locations before year's end. In order to boost interest in the terminal, PayAnywhere is offering new customers $5,000 in free Apple Pay transactions. Apple Pay makes use of NFC to power tap-and-go payments at supporting terminals. Google and Samsung are on the cusp of releasing Android Pay and Samsung Pay, respectively, which will offer similar capabilities to Android handsets.

Samsung Kicks Off Beta Testing for Samsung Pay

Yesterday, 10:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung is inviting a select number of people to beta test Samsung Pay in the U.S. In order to trial the mobile payment platform, consumers need to have a Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, or Note 5 smartphone. AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular are supporting Samsung Pay at launch, Verizon Wireless is not. The beta requires users to have an active Samsung account and a MasterCard or Visa credit/debit card from Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, U.S. Trust, or U.S. Bank. Samsung Pay uses both NFC and MST for tap-and-go transactions. Apple Pay and Android Pay, in comparison, use only NFC. Consumers can request an invite to test Samsung Pay from

Facebook Testing Messenger-Based Personal Assistant

Wednesday, 1:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 1:22 PM

Facebook is trialling a smart personal assistant that will live inside its Messenger application and complete various tasks for users. For now, the assistant is called Facebook M and Facebook claims it will be superior to competing products. "Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf," explained Facebook VP David Marcus. "It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more." Facebook is testing M with a small number of people the Los Angeles area and, for now, its most complicated tasks will be overseen by real people. Facebook didn't say if or when it will expand testing to more users, nor when it will launch the product to everyone. M will join a crowded market of virtual assistants, which already includes Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, Google's Now, and Microsoft's Cortana.

Apple to Replace Camera On Some iPhone 6 Plus Units

Aug 22, 2015, 6:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has launched an iSight camera replacement program for the iPhone 6 Plus. According to Apple, in a small percentage of iPhone 6 Plus devices the iSight camera has a component that may fail causing photos to look blurry. The affected units fall into a limited serial number range and were sold primarily between September 2014 and January 2015. Owners of the iPhone 6 Plus who experience blurry photos and purchased the device in the indicated date range can check to see if their camera is eligible for a free replacement. The repair can be completed at any Apple Store or authorized reseller.

Samsung to Take Apple Patent Case to Supreme Court

Aug 20, 2015, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung wants the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal regarding on-going patent litigation with Apple. Last week, a federal U.S. court refused to hear Samsung's appeal and upheld a lower court's decision. Taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court is Samsung's last avenue of defense in order to escape paying Apple hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. The original case was decided by a jury in 2012 and awarded Apple more than $1 billion. The total amount of damages has been reduced to about $548 million, but Samsung still wants to avoid paying it. "The questions present issues of enormous importance to patent litigation and the scope of innovation, especially in high-technology industries," said Samsung in paperwork filed this week. The Supreme Court may decide to hear the case in mid 2016.

Sprint Intros 'iPhone Forever' Promo

Aug 17, 2015, 8:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Aug 17, 2015, 8:09 AM

Sprint has kicked off a new program that lets customers upgrade to "the latest" iPhone at any time. Starting today, new or upgrade-eligible customers can lease a 16GB iPhone 6 for $22 per month. When a new iPhone becomes available (possibly in late September), those customers will be able to go into Sprint stores and swap their iPhone 6 for the new iPhone with no change in monthly lease payments. Sprint is offering to reduce the lease payment to $15 for customers who trade in old smartphones under several conditions. Current customers who are upgrade eligible and new customers who port to Sprint can get a new 16GB iPhone 6 today for $15 per month as long as they turn in an old smartphone. If these customers upgrade to the latest iPhone after Dec. 31, they will see their lease change to $22 per month. Separately, new or existing upgrade-eligible customers can turn in any smartphone and lease the 16GB iPhone 6 for $15 per month. If these customers then upgrade to the new iPhone before Dec. 31, they will get to keep the $15 monthly lease payment until their next upgrade. This promotion, which mirrors one recently revealed by T-Mobile, is meant to entice customers to sign up sooner rather than later. Sprint hopes prospective customers who may be waiting for Apple to reveal a new iPhone will jump on a new iPhone in the next few weeks. The iPhone Forever program is offering those new customers some protection, assuring them they'll be able to get the latest iPhone when it arrives later this year. Thee plans require customers to activate their iPhone on an individual unlimited plan or family share pack plan.

Court Blocks Samsung's Attempt to Appeal Apple Ruling

Aug 14, 2015, 7:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A federal appeals court has shut down Samsung's hopes of overturning a jury verdict that found it guilty of violating Apple's patents. In 2012, a jury found Samsung had willfully violated a number of Apple patents in handsets such as the Galaxy S and S2. The jury awarded Apple $1 billion in damages, though that figure has since been sliced down to about $548 million. The U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals this week upheld the core of Apple's allegations and refused to alter the lower court's decision. Samsung's only option left in this particular case is to go to the U.S. Supreme Court. A second patent case between Samsung and Apple, which Apple also won, is still winding its way through the appeals process. Apple and Samsung have settled a handful of other cases.

Apple Releases iOS 8.4.1 to Resolve Apple Music Bugs

Aug 13, 2015, 1:16 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today pushed out iOS 8.4.1, an update meant to help smooth out performance issues with Apple Music. Apple says the software resolves an issue that could prevent turning on iCloud Music Library, as well as an issue that hid added music because Apple Music was set to show offline music only. The update gives users a new way to add songs to playlists, and squashes bugs plaguing album art and the Connect social aspecs of the service. Apple Music is still in the trial phase for most people. It offers unlimited streaming in addition to Beats 1 radio on iOS devices for $10 per month. iOS 8.4.1 is free to download and install over the air.

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Samsung Note 5, S6 Edge+ Play Better with Others

Aug 13, 2015, 10:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung's Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ offer a few new applications to make connecting to other devices and sharing content easier. The phones include a new feature called HD Live Broadcast, which lets owners stream live video from their Note 5 or S6 Edge+ directly to others or the public YouTube Live. The live YouTube broadcasts can be viewed from any phone, tablet, or PC. Samsung also debuted a connectivity tool called SideSync 4.0. This lets the Note 5 and S6 Edge+ connect wirelessly to PCs for sharing files, responding to text messages, or answering calls. SideSync 4.0 is compatible with Windows 10 and Apple OS X.

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MCX Set to Test CurrentC Mobile Payment Service

Aug 12, 2015, 9:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

CurrentC, the mobile payment service backed by Best Buy, Target, and Walmart, will commence significant testing in the next few weeks. The tests will be offered to consumers in a handful of stores in the Columbus, Ohio, area. "We are currently in a beta with several of our merchants and employees, and we will now extend that beta to the public in the next few weeks," said MCX CEO Brian Mooney. CurrentC, under development by the Merchant Customer Exchange for several years, generates a scannable code on smartphone screens to initiate mobile payments. It is a rival to services such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. MCX has about 40 merchant partners that operate 110,000 retail locations. MCX signees Best Buy and Rite-Aid recently said their stores will also support the competing Apple Pay service. MCX doesn't expect CurrentC to launch fully until next year. Consumers have been slow to adopt mobile payments. Android Pay and Samsung Pay are set to launch in the weeks and months ahead, and may help spur adoption of the technology.

Rite Aid to Accept Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Android Pay

Aug 11, 2015, 10:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Rite Aid today said it will begin accepting Apple Pay and Google Wallet in its 4,600 U.S. stores. Rite Aid will also accept Android Pay when it launches later this year. Rite Aid had originally voiced support for the Merchant Customer Exchange-developed CurrentC mobile payments service, but CurrentC has yet to launch. Rite Aid did not say if it still plans to support CurrentC if/when it goes live, nor did it say if it will support Samsung's forthcoming Samsung Pay service, expected later this year. Rite Aid customers who have Apple Pay and/or Google Wallet activated on their handsets will be able to make tap-and-go mobile payments beginning August 15. In other Apple Pay news, Apple recently said American Express Corporate cardholders can use their cards with Apple Pay. Further, Apple Pay is now available to Bellco cardholders in Colorado.

OneDrive to Alert Users Of Document Changes

Aug 11, 2015, 7:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has updated its OneDrive and Office products with more collaboration features. The updates apply to a range of form factors, including PCs, tablets, and smartphones. Moving forward, OneDrive will allow people to sync shared folders directly to their desktop, which lets them be edited directly on smartphones and PCs. Microsoft also added several ways for users to be alerted when others edit their shared documents. The OneDrive app on mobile devices can provide real-time notifications of which document is being edited and who performed the edits. The app can push these alerts to the Apple Watch, if users so choose, and Microsoft will send emails detailing all the changes once the edits to the shared document are complete. Last, OneDrive now makes it possible for people to search for documents based not only on the file name, but on the contents therein. Microsoft said these changes are rolling out to its various apps over the next few weeks.

Apple Releases Third Public Beta of iOS 9

Aug 7, 2015, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has made available iOS 9 Public Beta 3. This test version of iOS is meant for people interested in trialling the operating system ahead of its scheduled fall release. iOS 9 adds a wide range of new features, and also streamlines the performance of Apple's mobile platform. This third public beta mostly adds stability improvements. The public beta is not meant for primary devices, and Apple recommends it be used only on secondary iPhones and iPads. Apple also released a fifth iOS 9 beta for developers. Both betas can be downloaded and installed over the air.

Microsoft Unleashes a Flurry Of Apps for Android Wear, Apple Watch

Aug 6, 2015, 12:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has made available a handful of apps for wearables running Google's Android Wear and Apple's WatchOS. First, Microsoft has ported Outlook to the Apple Watch. The app lets Apple Watch owners browse and read emails and perform actions such as archiving, deleting, and flagging messages. It includes pre-written responses and supports dictation for longer messages. It accompanies the Outlook email app for iOS. Second, Microsoft made its Translator app available to both the Apple Watch and Android Wear. The app lets wearable owners get instant translations in 50 languages by speaking to their watch. It supports search history and caches recently-used phrases. Third, Microsoft updated its OneDrive and OneNote apps for Android Wear. OneDrive will now display a photo on the watch face alongside notifications for up-to-date files. OneNote makes it easy to dictate new notes by saying "OK Google, take a note." The app also displays the most recently viewed notes on the watch face. Outlook, Translator, OneDrive, and OneNote are all free to download from iTunes and the Google Play Store.

HTC to Trim Headcount and Handsets

Aug 6, 2015, 7:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC today said it plans to make cuts to its employee base and reduce the number of handsets it releases in a bid to become more competitive with market leaders Apple and Samsung. "The cuts will be across the board," said HTC CFO Chialin Chang. "They will be significant." The company reported earnings today and recorded a loss for the second quarter. It predicted that it will lose money in the third quarter, as well. The company will trim jobs through the first quarter of 2016 in order to get a handle on expenses. HTC said it will bank on high-end models in emerging markets, such as India, where it has a solid share of handsets priced between $250 and $400. HTC didn't specify which handsets it might drop. The HTC One M9 is the company's flagship smartphone. It also sells the Desire 626s and Desire 520/526 entry-level phones.

Twitter Adds Landscape Support to iPhone 6 Plus

Aug 5, 2015, 7:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Twitter updated its iOS application today and the chief new feature is landscape support for the iPhone 6 Plus. Owners of Apple's larger iPhone will now be able to use the app when holding their phone in either portrait or landscape orientation. Twitter is free to download from the iTunes App Store.

Apple Says No MVNO In the Works

Aug 4, 2015, 11:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has denied a report suggesting it plans to sell phones and wireless service directly to consumers. Apple doesn't own any wireless spectrum, nor does it have any telecommunications infrastructure. The only way it could operate a wireless network would be as an MVNO, or by reselling access to the networks run by companies such as Sprint and T-Mobile. "We have not discussed nor do we have any plans to launch an MVNO," said Apple in a statement released to media. Apple very rarely comments on rumor and speculation, but was quick to denounce this particular report, which was published by Business Insider. Apple last year released the Apple SIM card, which lets owners of its iPad tablet easily switch between wireless network operators. The Apple SIM does not work with the Apple iPhone, however, and Apple recently agreed to work with the ITU in supporting electronic SIM cards that are permanently embedded in handsets.

Verizon to Offer HBO Now to Wireless Customers

Jul 28, 2015, 3:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon and HBO today announced the immediate availability of HBO Now to Verizon's internet and TV customers. Subscribers to Verizon's FiOS broadband and television services can trial HBO Now for free for 30 days, after which it will cost $15 per month. HBO said it plans to bring its content to Verizon Wireless' forthcoming mobile video platform later this year. HBO Now offers the bulk of HBO's programming, including movies, series, and sports. It first launched via Apple TV earlier this year.

T-Mobile Locks In $15 iPhone Pricing

Jul 28, 2015, 10:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today improved its iPhone leasing program. Anyone who leases the iPhone 6 before Labor Day will only have to pay $15 per month for the handset. Moreover, those customers will be able to keep the $15 monthly lease payment even if they upgrade to the next iPhone before the end of 2015. (This upgrade normally increases the lease payment to $27.) T-Mobile today also added Apple Music to its Music Freedom offering. This means people will be able to stream an unlimited amount of music from Apple over T-Mobile's network with no fear of it impacting their data usage. Both programs go into effect today.

Honda to Put Android Auto and CarPlay in 2016 Accord

Jul 24, 2015, 7:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Honda has committed to supporting Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay platforms in the forthcoming 2016 Honda Accord sedan. With the two platforms on board, owners of Android and iOS handsets will be able to connect their devices to the Accord's in-dash unit for safer interactions with their apps. A number of other carmakers have committed to supporting the smartphone platforms, including GM's Buick,Cadillac, and Chevy brands, and Volkswagen.

Sen. Al Franken Wants Apple Music Antitrust Probe

Jul 23, 2015, 7:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Senator Al Franken believes Apple may be violating antitrust laws with its Apple Music service and has asked the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to look into the company's practices. At issue is how Apple Music and competing services are priced. Apple charges $10 per month for Apple Music. Many of Apple Music's competitors, such as Spotify and Rhapsody, charge this same monthly fee. Apple lets competitors offer their apps and services through the iTunes App Store; however, because Apple takes a 30% cut in app revenue, Spotify and others are forced to raise their prices to $13 per month in order to make up the difference. Spotify is available for $10 per month to anyone who initiates the service online directly with Spotify, but Spotify is not allowed to advertise that in its iTunes App Store listing. Franken alleges that this results in consumers over-paying for music services. The FTC is already probing Apple's app store policies, but it has yet to open a formal investigation. Neither the FTC nor the Justice Department responded publicly to Franken's request. Separately, a consumer watchdog organization wants the FTC and Justice Department to examine the agreements between Apple and the big music labels. It alleges Apple has exclusive access to some artists and is trying to eliminate free streaming services. Apple did not comment on the allegations.

Apple Seeds Second iOS 9 Public Beta

Jul 22, 2015, 12:42 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has made a second public beta of iOS 9 available to consumers. This test version of iOS is meant for people interested in trialling the operating system ahead of its scheduled fall release. iOS 9 adds a wide range of new features, and also streamlines the performance of Apple's mobile platform. Apple recently released a fourth iOS 9 beta for developers, and today's public beta builds on that foundation. In addition to stability improvements, the new public beta heralds the return of Home Sharing for music, which had been pulled in the iOS 8.4 release. The public beta is not meant for primary devices, and Apple recommends it be used only on secondary iPhones and iPads. It can be downloaded and installed over the air.

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Apple Releases Beta 4 of iOS 9

Jul 21, 2015, 1:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released a fourth beta version of iOS 9 for developers. Apple typically tests major iOS versions for several months ahead of their general debut. Today's beta is for developers, and is not a new version of the consumer beta offered separately by Apple. The final version of iOS 9 isn't expect to arrive until September.

Apple, Samsung to Adopt GSMA-Backed Electronic SIMs

Jul 16, 2015, 10:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The GSMA said it is in advanced talks with Apple and Samsung to adopt the nearly-finalized electronic SIM card standard moving forward. The GSMA has been working with the industry on electronic SIMs for some time and is close to announcing a final standard. "We have got everyone back on one point, with Apple and Samsung agreeing to be part of that specification," said GSMA CEO Anne Bouverot. "We have been working with them and others to create an industry solution for machines and will agree on a solution for consumer electronics." Electronic SIMs would replace the plastic SIM cards used in today's cellphones. Electronic SIMs will make it far easier for consumers to change carriers and service plans without futzing with the physical SIMs. AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa, Orange, Telefónica, and Vodafone have already voiced support for the forthcoming standard. "With the majority of operators on board, the plan is to finalize the technical architecture that will be used in the development of an end-to-end remote SIM solution for consumer devices, with delivery anticipated by 2016," said the GSMA. Apple developed is own universal SIM card last year, but it was not widely adopted. The new electronic SIM will not appear in the new iPhones expected in September, according to the Financial Times. Apple and Samsung did not comment on the GSMA's statements.

HTML5-Based OS Looking to Supplant Android

Jul 15, 2015, 8:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

H5OS is a new mobile operating system that intends to challenge Google's Android. H5OS was developed by Acadine Technologies, a Hong Kong-based startup founded by former Mozilla President Li Gong. The operating system is based on HTML5, a standardized web programming language that can support light-weight apps. Acadine Technologies was formed in May and has raised $100 million in seed funding from Chinese supporters. Acadine's Gong doesn't expect H5OS to reach the market until 2016, but he believes it can supplant Android in certain device segments. "Our web-based mobile software is lighter and consumes less power and memory compared to Google's Android," said Gong in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "It requires lower hardware specifications to deliver the same user experience so it can bring down the smartphone cost. Another advantage is that H5OS is a truly open mobile ecosystem without default services like Google Maps and Google Search. We can work with any content and service providers, offering more customization options to device makers." Android is the global leader in mobile operating systems and Apple's iOS is a distant second. Windows Phone and BlackBerry hardly register, and other competitors, such as Jolla's Sailfish OS and Canonical's Ubuntu, have struggled to gain any significant traction. Gong believes H5OS can succeed in the ultra-low-cost smartphone and feature phone segments.

Eddystone Is Google's New, Free Bluetooth Beacon Tech

Jul 14, 2015, 10:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today revealed Eddystone, a new, open language for Bluetooth beacon technology. Google hopes Eddystone will be used by app developers, hardware makers, and service providers to unify how beacons are used. Beacons use Bluetooth Low Energy to locate devices like smartphones as they move within range. For example, Apple uses them in its retail stores to send location-based information (promotions, etc.) to the iPhones of shoppers who wander in. Google claims Eddystone is robust and scalable and perfect for the Android ecosystem and beyond. Eddystone ties in with Google's Nearby and Places APIs, which means app developers have plenty of tools to enrich their apps with location-based data and features. Eddystone is available on GitHub under the open-source Apache v2.0 license, for everyone to use and help improve.

Apple Releases Public Beta of iOS 9

Jul 9, 2015, 12:18 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today released a public beta of iOS 9. This release is different from the beta builds Apple releases to developers. The public beta for iOS 9 includes many of the new features, such as the News app, new fonts, transit directions in Maps, and low-power mode. Apple suggests people interested in testing the beta do so on older devices and not on primary phones or tablet. People will be able to revert to iOS 8.4 (as long as a proper backup is available) should iOS 9 be too buggy for use. Beta OS releases are inherently less stable than final releases and aren't recommended for everyone. Apple is allowing people to sign up for the beta on its web site. It is compatible with the iPhone 4s, 5, 5c, 5s, 6, and 6 Plus.

BlackBerry Debuts BES 12.2

Jul 8, 2015, 11:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today made BES 12.2 available to its business customers. The improved mobile device management platform adds a handful of features, especially those aimed at platforms other than BlackBerry. For example, BES 12.2 adds support for Samsung KNOX Workplace and Google's Android for Work, both of which are now integrated with BlackBerry Secure Connect Plus. BES 12.2 also adds support for the Apple Device Enrollment Program, which makes it easier for IT admins to add iPhones to BES. BlackBerry is focusing efforts on its software services businesses. The company recently reduced the number of employees designing smartphones.

Apple Faces New Trial in iTunes Patent Squabble

Jul 8, 2015, 8:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

A judge tossed $532.9 million in damages levied against Apple earlier this year after reevaluating the results of the trial. In February, a jury found Apple guilty of infringing on three patents owned by Texas-based SmartFlash, a patent-holding company. Federal Judge Rodney Gilstrap believes the instructions he gave the jury likely "skewed" its understanding of how to award SmartFlash for the infringed patents. The jury's original award of $532.9 million has been vacated, but the judge scheduled a new trial for September to determine more appropriate damages.

CTIA Says Smartphones Better Protected Against Theft

Jul 1, 2015, 8:59 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Beginning today, most smartphones sold in the U.S. will include anti-theft security tools. July 1 marks the day by which phone makers and network operators agreed to implement free theft deterrents on smartphones. According to the CTIA, most of the industry has responded by placing remote lock/wipe capabilities on consumer devices. The addition of an activation lock on the Apple iPhone, for example, has dramatically reduced iPhone thefts in major cities. The activation lock prevents a stolen device from being activated by another person, thus making it useless to thieves. Remote wipe features allow people to erase the personal data from their handset if lost/stolen to protect their identity. The major participants in today's action include Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Microsoft, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, and ZTE. "Today's fulfillment of the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is another example of the wireless industry proactively working together with policymakers and law enforcement to help protect consumers' smartphones in the event they are ever lost or stolen. We will continue to work with all interested parties to continue to deploy new technologies and tools to improve device theft-deterrence tools. We remind consumers to take a few minutes to use PINs, passwords, apps and other device features to protect their mobile devices and personal information." The industry was coerced into acting "voluntarily" when the FCC threatened to make such protective measures mandatory.

Facebook's Messenger Payment Service Now Widely Available

Jun 30, 2015, 2:47 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today said its Messenger-based, peer-to-peer mobile payment service is now available to everyone across the U.S. It was initially tested in New York City earlier this year. Messenger users need only add their MasterCard- or Visa-backed debit card to pay anyone else on Messenger. Money goes straight from the sender's checking account to the recipient's checking account. Sending money is free of transaction charges. Facebook says users can set up PINs to protect the service, and Apple device owners will be able to use TouchID to secure it. Sending money is possible from the Android, iOS, and web versions of Messenger.

Court Says Apple Conspired to Raise E-Book Prices

Jun 30, 2015, 12:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A U.S. court of appeals today upheld a ruling from a lower court that found Apple guilty of conspiring with book publishers to raise the prices of e-books. Books were generally priced at $9.99 by companies such as Amazon. Following the launch of Apple's iBook store, prices eventually rose to $12.99 and $14.99 for many titles. The appeals court said the initial ruling was correct, as was the injunction imposed against Apple. Today's ruling means Apple is on the hook for a $450 million settlement with attorneys general in 33 states. One judge dissented, believing that Apple's arrival in the market challenged Amazon, which was at the time the dominant player in the e-book market. Apple did not immediately respond to the ruling, but it marks the final chapter of a lengthy legal case that Apple has not been able to beat.

Apple Releases iOS 8.4 with Apple Music

Jun 30, 2015, 9:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple today made available iOS 8.4, a system update for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch that installs Apple Music. Apple Music is Apple's new streaming music service and is part of an all-new Music app for iOS devices. The service is being offered for free on a trial basis for three months, after which it will cost $10 per month for individuals or $15 per month for families. Apple Music offers unlimited, ad-free streaming and access to Beats 1, Apple's global radio station. iOS 8.4 also makes improvements to iBooks application, and resolves some performance issues. iOS 8.4 is free to download and install.

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Sprint's All-In Plan Includes Phone and Service for $80

Jun 30, 2015, 8:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint today introduced a new plan that combines the cost of a service plan with the cost of a handset in one monthly payment. The Sprint All-In plan costs $80 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and data, and a Sprint Lease on handsets such as the Apple iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6, and HTC One M9. There are no up-front phone costs aside from a one-time, $36 activation fee. The $80 monthly rate does not include taxes. Sprint believes this is the simplest, most straight-forward plan in the market. Sprint will use soccer star David Beckham to advertise the plan, which is available in Sprint stores beginning today.

Apple Music Arrives with iOS 8.4 June 30

Jun 29, 2015, 7:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple will distribute iOS 8.4 beginning at 8AM/11AM Pacific/Eastern on June 30, according to Apple Music Senior Director Ian Rogers. The updated operating system installs Apple Music, Apple's monthly music service. The service will be available for free on a trial basis for three months, after which it will cost $10 per month. June 30 also marks the launch of Beats 1, Apple's global radio station. iOS 8.4 will work with most iOS devices.

Google Agrees to Add Railroad Crossings to Maps

Jun 29, 2015, 7:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has agreed to use data from the U.S. Federal Railroad Association (FRA) to add audio and visual alerts to drivers when they near railroad crossings. The idea is to make sure drivers are aware of railroad crossings when using Google Maps to navigate between points. The FRA also requested that Apple, Garmin, Tom Tom, and MapQuest make similar additions to their mapping and navigation services. In 2013, the most recent year with data, there were 2,096 car-train accidents at railroad crossings nationally that resulted in 288 deaths.

Nokia Will Design and License Phones Beginning In 2016

Jun 18, 2015, 11:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri said the company will tackle the mobile phone industry again once its non-compete clause with Microsoft expires next year. Nokia no longer owns any manufacturing facilities and will not make its own phones. The company did something similar with an Android-based tablet it released in December. "We will look for suitable partners," said Suri in an interview with the German magazine Manager Magazin. "Microsoft makes mobile phones. We would simply design them and then make the brand name available to license." Microsoft bought Nokia's handset business in 2014 for $7.2 billion. Just this week, Microsoft reshuffled its executive deck and removed two former leaders from Nokia, Stephen Elop and Jo Harlow. Neither Elop nor Harlow has said what their next steps will be. Microsoft's Windows Phone platform and Lumia-branded handsets continue to struggle in the market against Apple's iOS and Google's Android. The company is releasing a new mobile operating system, Windows 10 Mobile, this fall. Suri did not say if Nokia will use Android, Windows Phone, or some other platform for its future devices.

T-Mobile to Support iOS 9's Cellular Continuity Feature

Jun 10, 2015, 1:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today said its wireless network will support the continuity feature that's part of iOS 9. Apple already allows devices (iPhone, iPad, Mac) operating on the same WiFi network to send/receive calls and iMessages. For example, someone using their Mac at home can answer an incoming voice call on their computer rather than iPhone. With iOS 9, this continuity feature is being extended to cellular networks. This means a person who leaves their iPhone at home will still be able to send/receive calls and messages from their other Apple devices as long as they have a cellular network connection. T-Mobile said it will support the feature for those testing iOS 9 beta, and will support it for all users when Apple releases the final version of iOS 9 later this year. T-Mobile's competitors will likely also support the feature, but they haven't yet publicly said so.

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Apple Music Gets the Attention of Antitrust Regulators

Jun 10, 2015, 9:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

New York and Connecticut want to be sure Apple Music, the new streaming service announced by Apple this week, doesn't violate antitrust rules. Universal Music Group, responding to requests from the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut, said it is not colluding with Apple nor its rivals to impede competition in the music streaming market. Lawmakers are concerned Apple and its partners are looking for ways to eliminate the option to listen to music for free. Apple Music carries a $10 monthly subscription fee, while competitors such as Pandora and Spotify offer ad-supported versions for free. Apple has not responded publicly about the investigation.

Apple Releases Fourth iOS 8.4 Beta

Jun 9, 2015, 1:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has made iOS 8.4 Beta 4 available to developers for testing. The latest iOS 8 beta adds a new version of the music application ahead of Apple Music's debut later this month. The music app itself has been fully revised and will include the Apple Music service once it launches. The app has a redesigned Now Playing screen, a new mini player, and shows more imagery in the artist section. Users can do more with their playlists, and the search function has been improved to make discovering music in iTunes Radio easier. Apple said iOS 8.4 and Apple Music will be available in their final form on June 30.

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