Royals and Giants Stadiums to Accept Apple Pay for Concessions During World Series [iOS Blog]

attheballpark.pngKauffman Stadium in Kansas City and AT&T Park in San Francisco will accept the new Apple Pay mobile payments program beginning tomorrow with Game One of the World Series in Kansas City.

Fans who attend games at the two participating stadiums will be able to use Apple Pay to purchase food and beverages at concession stands, thanks to a partnership between MLB Advanced Media and MasterCard.

We thank MasterCard for its great involvement in bringing another simple and secure mobile technology to baseball fans,” said Noah Garden, EVP, Revenue, MLBAM. “Introducing this service underscores the importance of our on-going commitment to mobile innovations at Major League Baseball ballparks. Being able to build reliable, convenient and authentic technologies on their personal devices is no longer a nice-to-have option for fans. It’s central to their experiences.”

Enabled today through the iOS 8.1 update, Apple Pay is Apple’s new mobile payments service that is accepted at any retail location that supports NFC-based contactless payments. Apple Pay can also be used within select apps that support the Apple Pay API, allowing physical purchases to be made with a single tap.

Major League Baseball is an Apple Pay app partner, which means Apple Pay is being built into the At the Ballpark app. When single-game tickets for the 2015 Major League Baseball season go on sale in November, Apple Pay users will be able to purchase tickets with a single tap using the payments service.

Major League Baseball was also one of Apple’s first iBeacon partners, rolling out thousands of iBeacons at a range of different stadiums ahead of Opening Day in 2014.

The MLB At the Ballpark app can be downloaded for free from the App Store. [Direct Link]




Spotlight Suggestions Sends Minimum Amount of Data to Apple, Exact Location and IP Addresses Not Collected

Following the release of OS X Yosemite with new Spotlight Suggestions, some users noted that Apple’s Spotlight privacy policy began offering a warning letting users know that search terms were being uploaded to Apple’s servers, with some of the info being forwarded to Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

The search terms were being shared with Apple in order to enable Spotlight’s new capabilities, which include searching sources like the Mac App Store, Wikipedia, and the web.

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When you use Spotlight, your search queries, the Spotlight Suggestions you select, and related usage data will be sent to Apple. Search results found on your Mac will not be sent. If you have Location Services on your Mac turned on, when you make a search query to Spotlight the location of your Mac at that time will be sent to Apple. Searches for common words and phrases will be forwarded from Apple to Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

While Apple noted directly within Yosemite’s Spotlight preferences that the search terms were collected only to improve Spotlight Searches and directed users to turn off Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web searches in System Preferences if they didn’t want their data uploaded, the issue still received quite a bit of attention over the course of the weekend, with one developer even uploading a Python script to prevent Apple from collecting data.

Apple has now given a statement on Spotlight Suggestions to iMore, stating that the company is “absolutely committed” to protecting user privacy and that Spotlight Suggestions minimizes the information that’s sent to Apple.

“We are absolutely committed to protecting our users’ privacy and have built privacy right into our products,” Apple told iMore. “For Spotlight Suggestions we minimize the amount of information sent to Apple. Apple doesn’t retain IP addresses from users’ devices. Spotlight blurs the location on the device so it never sends an exact location to Apple. Spotlight doesn’t use a persistent identifier, so a user’s search history can’t be created by Apple or anyone else. Apple devices only use a temporary anonymous session ID for a 15-minute period before the ID is discarded.

“We also worked closely with Microsoft to protect our users’ privacy. Apple forwards only commonly searched terms and only city-level location information to Bing. Microsoft does not store search queries or receive users’ IP addresses.

“You can also easily opt out of Spotlight Suggestions, Bing or Location Services for Spotlight.”

As Apple says in the statement that it gave to iMore, users that are concerned about their data being uploaded to Apple’s servers can easily disable the new features by going to System Preferences –> Spotlight and unchecking both the boxes for “Spotlight Suggestions” and “Bing Web Searches.”

Along with offering users its privacy policy directly in the System Preferences app under “About Spotlight Suggestions & Privacy,” Apple has also updated its iOS 8 Privacy website to make it clear that limited user data is collected and that the data the company does acquire is obscured by an anonymous identifier.

Introduced with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, Spotlight Suggestions allow Apple’s Spotlight feature to give users search suggestions from sources like Wikipedia, the iTunes Store, and Maps. For example, it’s now possible to search for an app in the Mac App Store using Spotlight, or look for a specific term on Wikipedia without needing to access Safari or another web browser.




iOS 8.1 Brings iCloud Photo Library to All Users, With Images Accessible on iOS Devices, iCloud.com

iOS 8.1, released to the public earlier today, included Apple Pay support as its most notable feature, but it also brought several other updates to the mobile operating system, including iCloud Photo Library. With iOS 8.1, the iCloud Photo Library beta is now available to all iOS 8 users, as is a new iCloud Photos app that can be found within iCloud.com.

First introduced during WWDC, iCloud Photo Library stores all of the photos and videos that a user takes in iCloud, making them available on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Macs through iCloud.com. It will also work with the Photos app that Apple is creating for the Mac, which is expected in early 2015.

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iCloud Photo Library. You’re never without your camera. Now you’ll never be without your photos. Every photo and video you take now lives in iCloud — giving you the freedom to access your library from any device, anytime you want. So you can view a photo from last week or last year no matter where you are.

iCloud Photo Library is designed to keep all of a user’s photos synced on all of their devices at all times. When an image is edited on an iOS device in the Photos app with Apple’s built-in editing tools, those changes are immediately uploaded to iCloud and visible on other devices right away.

iCloud Photo Library is also designed to free up valuable storage space on iOS devices. Full high-resolution photos and videos are stored in the cloud, while smaller versions of the images are displayed on devices, taking up far less storage space. iCloud Photo Library uses the iCloud storage space of each user, with 20GB of storage space available for $0.99 per month. Apple’s iCloud storage plans go up to 1TB, which is priced at $19.99 per month.

iCloud Photo Library can be enabled on iOS devices in the Settings app by going to iCloud > Photos and toggling on “iCloud Photo Library.” The Settings app also lets users choose whether to optimize iPhone storage or download and keep original full-sized photos on their devices.

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Once iCloud Photo Library is enabled, images and videos stored on iOS devices will be automatically uploaded to the cloud. They can be viewed as usual within the Photos app for iOS, and on the web, they can be viewed through the new iCloud Photos app on iCloud.com.

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In the iCloud Photos app, users can perform several actions that are also available in the iOS version of the Photos app. Images can be favorited, which sends them to a special “Favorites” album, they can be downloaded in full resolution, or deleted, which removes the photos from iCloud Photo Library on all devices. From the main “Moments” view, it’s also possible to click on the “Select Photos” option to delete or download multiple images at once.

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iCloud Photo Library does not appear to be working flawlessly at the current point in time, which is likely why it’s still given “beta” status. In MacRumors own testing, deleting some photos from the iCloud Photos app did not delete the photos from the iPhone 6 Plus they were taken on. A later sync even returned the photos to iCloud.com.

While iCloud Photo Library was available to developers during the iOS 8 beta testing period, Apple opted to pull it from the iOS 8 golden master ahead of iOS 8’s public release and demote it to beta status.

The reason behind iCloud Photo Library’s removal from the release version of iOS 8 was unclear, but it is possible Apple delayed the release in light of the negative press iCloud received in early September due to the celebrity photo leak.

With Apple having taken significant steps to bolster the security of iCloud, adding two-step verification and sending security emails when changes are made to iCloud or a device is restored, the company appears ready to let the public have full access to the new photo storage feature.






Apple Sells Record-Breaking 5.5 Million Macs in Q4 2014 [Mac Blog]

Apple today announced during its earnings call that it sold 5.5 million Macs in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2014, which is the highest quarter ever for Mac sales. The 5.5 million Macs sold is up almost 1 million year-over-year and represents a 21% growth from 2013, creating $6.6 billion in sales. The company also noted that it sold a total of 19 million Macs for all of fiscal 2014, saying that sales were particularly strong for the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air. retina-imac-27
Apple launched updated models for nearly all of its Macs in 2014, aside from the redesigned Mac Pro which was released last year. The MacBook Air was updated in April and brought a price reduction along with slightly faster Haswell processors, while the MacBook Pro saw a minor update in July which also brought Haswell and Crystal Well processors that improved battery life. Last week, Apple launched a new 27-inch iMac with a high-resolution “Retina 5K” display, and updated the Mac mini for the first time in three years with Haswell processors and new Intel HD Graphics.

The company is also rumored to be working on a new 12-inch MacBook, which will feature a new ultra slim design and a high-resolution Retina display. Reports have suggested that the new MacBook will come in the iPhone color variants of Silver, Gold, and Space Gray, and will integrate fan-less internals with a Broadwell-Y low-power Core M processor along with the possible adoption of USB Type C. The 12-inch MacBook is said to be launching in mid-2015.




Apple Acquired 20 Companies Across 2014, 7 In Fiscal Fourth Quarter

During today’s fourth quarter earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple purchased 20 companies over the course of 2014, including seven companies during the fiscal fourth quarter. Of the 20 companies purchased, some remain known, but many remain unknown.

Apple’s biggest purchase of fiscal 2014 was Beats Electronics, which the company bought for $3 billion in May. With the acquisition, it gained Beats popular line of headphones, the Beats Music music service, and it took on Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, aka Andre Young, as executives.

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Other recent known acquisitions in fiscal 2014 include iPad-publishing platform Prss, book recommendation platform BookLamp, radio streaming app Swell, social recommendation service Spotsetter, and low-power display company LuxVue.

Last quarter, Apple announced that it had acquired 30 companies thus far in fiscal 2014, which brings the total number of acquisitions since last October up to approximately 37. While some of those acquisitions were known, many of Apple’s acquisitions were kept quiet, going under the radar.

The technology from Apple’s acquisitions will undoubtedly make its way into future products and updates, and details on its acquisitions may become apparent over time.

Earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple was “on the prowl” for additional companies to acquire and that Apple is always looking at acquisition space to avoid letting “money burn a hole in our pocket.”