Apple Pay Responsible for 1% of Digital Payment Dollars in November, Most Popular at Whole Foods

Apple Pay is seeing impressive early adoption numbers according to a new ITG Investment Research Report on Mobile Payments (via MarketWatch), which suggests Apple’s new payment service was responsible for a total of 1 percent of digital payment dollars…


Buyer’s Guide: Deals on iPad Air 2, MacBook Air, iMac, Apple Accessories, and More [Mac Blog]

The Christmas holiday is less than a week away, and while deals have tapered off a bit this week, there are still a few discounts to be had on the iMac, MacBook Air,
Mac Pro, Retina MacBook Pro, and older iPads. There’s also one last deal on the iPad Air 2 that drops the price quite a bit.

We’ve also got discounts on some great potential gifts, including personalized iPhone cases from Casetify, wireless headphones from Jaybird, the popular Pencil stylus from FiftyThree, and more in this week’s Buyer’s Guide deals post.

iPad Air 2

If you’re in need of an iPad Air 2 and didn’t take advantage of the deals offered around Black Friday, there’s one last discount available this week. Target is offering 15 percent off the iPad Air 2 in all colors and capacities through its Cartwheel app.

ipadair2c
That drops the price of the entry-level Wi-Fi only model to $424, down from $499. The discount will only be available on Friday and Saturday, and only in Target stores.

iPhone

Walmart is continuing its $50 off deal on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, dropping the price of the 16GB iPhone 6 to $129, down from the previous $179 price tag, and it’s also offering the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus for $229, down from $279. The iPhone 5s is on sale at Walmart as well, now available for $49 instead of $79.

iphone6-stock-photo
A two-year contract is required to get the discounted price, and Walmart also offers a trade-in program to drop the pricing even lower. Deals are available in-store only and will last through February.

Retina MacBook Pro

MacMall is selling the 2013 2.6GHz/16GB/1TB Retina MacBook Pro priced at $2,599.99, down from the regular price of $3,199, a $600 discount. Several 2014 Retina MacBook Pro models are also discounted at various retailers, as seen below:

macbook_pro_13_15_late_2013
– 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/256GB (B&H Photo) – $1,349, $100 off
– 13-inch 2.8GHz/8GB/512GB (Best Buy) (B&H Photo) – $1,599, $200 off
– 15-inch 2.2GHz/16GB/256GB (B&H Photo) – $1,699, $200 off
– 15-inch 2.5GHz/16GB/512GB (B&H Photo) – $2,199, $300 off

Mac Pro

– 4-core 3.7GHz/12GB/256GB (B&H Photo) – $2,599, $400 off
– 6-core 3.5GHz/16GB/256GB (B&H Photo) (Adorama) – $3,499, $500 off

iMac

– 21.5-inch 2.9GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) (B&H Photo) – $1349, $150 off
– 27-inch 3.2GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) (B&H Photo) – $1,629.99, $170 off
– 27-inch 2.4GHz/8GB/1TB (Adorama) (B&H) – $1,799.99, $200 off
– 27-inch Retina 3.5GHz/8GB/1TB (B&H Photo) – $2,299, $200 off

retina-imac-27

MacBook Air

– 11.6-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/128GB (Adorama) (B&H Photo) – $799, $100 off
– 11.6-inch 1.4GHz/4GB/256GB (Best Buy) – $899, $200 off
– 13.3-inch 1.4Ghz/4GB/128GB (B&H Photo) – $899, $100 off

macbook_air_yosemite_roundup

Original iPad Air

Best Buy is offering discounts of $50 (Wi-Fi) to $100 (Cellular) off all of its original iPad Air stock, dropping the price of the 16GB entry-level Wi-Fi only model to $349.99 and the 16GB entry-level Cellular model to $379.99.

iPad mini 2

Best Buy is also offering discounts of $50 off all Wi-Fi iPad mini 2 models and $100 off all Cellular models. The iPad mini 2 can be a particularly good deal compared to the iPad mini 3, as the only difference is Touch ID.

retina_ipad_mini_colors_front_back
With the discount, the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad mini 2 is available for $249.99 and the entry-level 16GB Cellular model is available for $279.99.

Apple Accessories

Groupon is offering $150 worth of accessories from The Smartphone Mall for $25, which includes items like Beats By Dre headphones, iPhone cases, Lightning cables, and more. There’s also a deal for $50 worth of Gifts and Gadgets from Sharper Image for $25.

For those of you with an older iPhone, Groupon is selling Star Wars cases for the iPhone 4/4s/5/5s for $7.99, down from $19.99. A refurbished Jawbone Mini Jambox speaker can be purchased from Groupon for $59.99, a savings of $59, and the site is also offering the Jawbone UP for $59.99, a $70 savings.

starwars
A refurbished 4,000mAh Mophie portable battery charger is available from Groupon for $29.99, down from $79.95. Beats by Dre Pro Over-Ear headphones are available for $299 from Groupon, down from $399. StackSocial is selling the Rocketcases Afterburner iPhone 6/6 Plus battery case (non-MFi Certified) for $40/$46, a savings of 33 percent.

batterycase
The now-discontinued Beats Beatbox Portable Speaker can be purchased for $249.99 from Best Buy, a savings of $150. Garmin’s Heads-Up Plus Display Navigation System can be purchased for $74.99 from Groupon, a savings of $86.

beatsspeaker
Amazon is selling the Jawbone UP24 for $70, $20 off the standard price. The site is also offering the Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for $10 off, dropping the price to $39.95 for the graphite model and $49.95 for the walnut version.

pencil
Jaybird is offering 25 percent off its entire stock of wireless headphones with the code JBHOLIDAYS, and throwing in complimentary 2 day shipping that guarantees delivery in time for Christmas. This deal is good today only.

jaybird
MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors.




Kate Winslet May Take on Lead Female Role in Jobs Biopic

Actress Kate Winslet is currently in negotiations to play the lead female role in the upcoming Jobs biopic, reports Variety. Winslet, aged 39, is best known for dramatic movies like Titanic, Divergent, All the King’s Men, and Finding Neverland. It re…


T-Mobile to Pay $90M to Settle With FTC Over Cramming Accusation [iOS Blog]

Earlier this year, the United States Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against T-Mobile, accusing the carrier of “cramming” or charging customers for unauthorized SMS subscriptions that delivered information like horoscopes for prices up to $9.99 per month.

Though T-Mobile initially called the FTC’s complaint “unfounded and without merit,” it today reached a settlement [PDF] that will see it paying out more than $90 million to consumers that were affected by its practices. The carrier will also be required to inform all current and former customers who paid the illicit charges about the refund program.

t-mobile_usa_logo
In a statement, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler praised the settlement as a win for consumers and pledged to continue to fight “unjust and unreasonable business practices committed by the nation’s carriers.”

“Cramming is a significant problem. For too long, millions of consumers have been scammed billed for bogus charges on their phone bills for services they didn’t request. This is unacceptable. Today’s settlement is a win for consumers who have been victimized by cramming. It means compensation for T-Mobile customers who were fraudulently billed for third-party services that they did not want or authorize. And it goes one step further. Today’s action will also help protect all of T-Mobile’s customers from bogus third-party charges in the future.”

Along with T-Mobile, several other carriers have been targeted by the FTC for the same unsavory practices. AT&T paid out $105 million in penalties in October, and Sprint is facing a similar fine. In a statement released earlier this year, T-Mobile said that it stopped billing for Premium SMS services in 2013 and had already put a “proactive program” in place to provide full refunds for customers, but the government found that many customers went uncompensated.

Along with providing refunds for customers, T-Mobile’s $90 million fine will also include $18 million in fines to attorneys in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and a $4.5 million fine to be paid to the Federal Communication Commission.

News of T-Mobile’s settlement comes just days after the company announced an eighth Un-carrier initiative, which will allow customers to roll over monthly unused data, storing it for up to 12 months.




Flyover for Apple Maps Expanded to Include New Cities in France, Sweden, Italy and Netherlands [iOS Blog]

As noted by Dutch website iCulture and reported by iGen.fr, Apple has recently added several new European locations to its Flyover feature for Maps, including Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Malmö in Sweden, Strasbourg and Dijon in France, and Turin in Italy. This expansion follows a similar update earlier this month that added Flyover to cities in France, Sweden and the US.

malmo-sweden-flyover
HSB Turning Torso in Malmö, Sweden

iOS and OS X users can now take advantage of the Flyover feature, which first debuted in iOS 6 and OS X Yosemite. Flyover provides a detailed 3D look at a location, allowing users to zoom in to buildings and other notable landmarks in supported locations. The feature relies heavily on the technology Apple acquired when it purchased C3 Technologies in 2011.

Flyover was limited when it launched, but Apple has been adding locations at a steady pace with support for more than 100 cities worldwide. Apple also recently introduced the new Flyover city tours feature, which provides users with a guided aerial tour of landmarks in a select cities worldwide.




Hands-On With Alpine’s iLX-007 In-Dash CarPlay Entertainment System

While car manufacturers have been slower than anticipated to roll out support for Apple’s in-vehicle CarPlay system, Pioneer and Alpine have delivered aftermarket options in the form of in-dash systems with CarPlay compatibility and large touch screens.

MacRumors has had a chance to spend some time with Alpine’s iLX-007, which carries a suggested retail price of $800 but commonly sells for $600 and offers a 7-inch capacitive touch screen that dominates the unit’s front. The only other physical features come as a thin row of buttons along the bottom edge, including a pair for controlling volume, one for activating Siri, one for returning to the Alpine home screen, and another pair serving varying functions such as changing tracks, depending on the app currently in use.

The basic Alpine home screen offers access to only a handful of functions including traditional radio, any peripheral devices connected to the system’s auxiliary input including support for a rear back-up camera, and CarPlay devices. Upon connecting the unit’s Lightning cable to an iPhone, the CarPlay interface automatically launches, allowing access to the standard Phone, Music, Apps, Messages, and Now Playing apps, as well as any CarPlay-compatible third-party apps the user has installed on his or her device and a Top Menu button to return to Alpine’s main home screen.

alpine_carplay_home
In order to provide support for Siri input, the iLX-007 comes with a microphone that can be mounted in an appropriate location such as the driver’s sun visor in order to pick up voice commands. CarPlay-specifc app settings within the main iLX-007 interface include the ability to set microphone level and noise reduction, as well as which speakers Siri’s output come through.

With just a narrow row of physical buttons along the bottom of the head unit, Alpine has certainly maximized the available screen space on the iLX-007, squeezing in a 7-inch display that makes it easy to see content. The small physical buttons can, however, be a bit difficult to easily find by touch while keeping eyes on the road. The large icons and other interface elements inside the CarPlay interface itself are easy to hit, although the lack of tactile feedback means at least a glance is probably needed to ensure the correct area of the screen is being touched.

alpine_carplay_maps
As is to be expected, the CarPlay functionality on the iLX-007 is essentially the same as on other CarPlay systems, several of which have already been reviewed. The simple integration of having much of the phone experience appearing directly on the dashboard display in an easy-to-use format is a welcome addition, although certain aspects of the implementation leave something to be desired.

One fairly significant drawback that appears to be due more to Apple than Alpine is the lack of full support for multi-touch or even fluid scrolling input. While Apple may prefer to limit multi-touch availability in order to potentially reduce driver distraction while pinching or making other gestures that require a more extended glance at the dashboard display, scrolling is a much-needed feature for areas such as lists of contacts, music, and podcasts.

alpine_carplay_music
The iLX-007 clearly supports swiping input as seen in its own top-level settings (albeit with somewhat poor responsiveness), but within CarPlay users are essentially relegated to a more cumbersome method of paging through lists. A form of scroll swiping is supported on some lists such as in the Music and Messages apps, but swipes simply serve the same function as page up/down buttons and do not allow for smooth scrolling. Other apps entirely lack what would feel like natural swiping actions. Maps, for example, does not support swiping or pinching to pan or zoom maps.

CarPlay certainly shows a lot of promise, and it will only become more useful as additional third-party apps become compatible with the feature over time. For now, however, a main obstacle is getting CarPlay into users’ cars. Despite initial promises of a handful of car manufacturers shipping new vehicles equipped with CarPlay-compatible entertainment systems this year, only Ferrari appears to have met that goal as others have had to push their plans into 2015.

Likely more important to the immediate potential success of CarPlay is the availability of aftermarket products that will allow users to retrofit their existing cars with CarPlay-enabled systems for a few hundred dollars. Alpine and Pioneer have indeed met their goals of launching CarPlay systems for their customers, and for now they are the means by which most consumers will be able to experience CarPlay in their vehicles. These aftermarket systems aren’t particularly cheap, but with resellers offering lower-end models in the $450-$600 range, they are within reach of a decent number of consumers.




CalDigit’s Thunderbolt Station 2 Launches in January With $170 Pre-Order Pricing [Mac Blog]

CalDigit today announced that the follow-up to its popular original Thunderbolt Station, the Thunderbolt Station 2, is now available for pre-order with an expected ship date of January 26, 2015.

The new dock will retail for $199.99, but CalDigit is offering a limited pre-order price of $169.99 that runs all the way up to the day before release, January 25. The new station keeps the same functionality of connecting multiple devices with one Thunderbolt cable, but updates it with new Thunderbolt 2 and dual eSATA 6G ports. The Thunderbolt Station 2 also allows users a vertical orientation option the original lacked.

Thunderbolt Station
The Thunderbolt Station 2 also comes with HDMI, three USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, audio in/out ports, the ability to connect high-resolution 4K displays to its HDMI port, and two Thunderbolt 2 ports.

The Thunderbolt™ Station 2 allows users to connect all their devices through a single Thunderbolt™ cable. Featuring dual Thunderbolt™ 2 ports for integrating a 4K workflow, the Thunderbolt™ Station 2 allows users to connect a high-resolution 4K monitor to the HDMI port. This is ideal for professional users who need to connect modern 4K displays to their computers.

“The power of Thunderbolt™ 2 allows the Thunderbolt™ Station 2 to be the central hub of modern 4K workflows. Not only can users connect a 4K monitor, they can also daisy-chain 4K capable devices such as Thunderbolt™ storage for the ultimate 4K workflows”, said Kosta Panagos, Director of Marketing at CalDigit.

The release of the Thunderbolt Station 2 sees CalDigit joining several other dock manufacturers such as Elgato and OWC who have recently caught up to the Thunderbolt 2 standard ports, which were introduced on Macs beginning late last year.

The Thunderbolt Station 2 can be pre-ordered from the CalDigit official website for $169.99 until January 25, 2015, after which it will retail for $199.99.




Tim Cook ‘Deeply Offended’ by BBC Documentary on Apple Factory Conditions

Apple CEO Tim Cook said he is deeply offended by allegations that Apple permits the mistreatment of workers in its supplier factories and mines, reports The Telegraph. The accusations were levied by the BBC news program Panorama, which sent undercover reporters to work in Chinese factories and Indonesian mines. The BBC aired the documentary titled “Apple’s Broken Promises” last night on its BBC One channel.

apples-broken-promises-bbc-one
Apple senior vice president of operations Jeff Williams relayed Tim Cook’s message in an email sent to its UK staff. Cook and Williams both stated they were “deeply offended by the suggestion that Apple would break a promise to the workers in our supply chain or mislead our customers in any way.”

“Panorama’s report implied that Apple isn’t improving working conditions,” he continued. “Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth.”

Williams also implied in the email that Apple provided the BBC with pertinent facts regarding the company’s commitment to its workers worldwide, but that information was not included in the documentary.

The BBC report claims that Chinese workers were forced to work long hours assembling Apple devices and denied requests for a day off, even after working 18 days in a row. The BBC also uncovered issues with off-hour work meetings, underage workers and other violations with dormitories and ID cards.

The BBC also investigated tin mines in Indonesia, where it found children mining the ore in dangerous conditions. The BBC claims this tin makes its way into Apple’s supply chain without the company’s knowledge.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.