Barclays Planning to Launch Apple Pay Support in UK in Early 2016

Barclays Apple Pay UKApple Pay launched in the United Kingdom in July at more than 250,000 locations across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but Barclays remains notably absent from the group of banks supporting the mobile payments service.

Nevertheless, Barclays remains committed to supporting Apple Pay in the future. Barclays CEO of Personal and Corporate Banking Ashok Vaswani today told customer Mike Jobson by email that the bank plans to roll out Apple Pay in early 2016.

We have signed up for ApplePay and will launch it very early in the New Year. We truly value your custom and hope that you continue to bank with us particularly since we are launching this shortly.

A high-level executive at Barclays previously stated the bank anticipated “imminent” support of Apple Pay, and the bank later publicly confirmed it will support Apple Pay in the “future,” but no specific launch timeframe had been provided.

Barclays is the only major financial institution of the “Big Four” banks in the U.K. that has yet to adopt Apple Pay. Participating banks include Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA, Nationwide, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and Ulster Bank.

MacRumors has contacted Barclays for comment.

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Apple Announces Beats Pill+ Speaker Available in November for $229

Apple today announced a new Beats Pill+ Bluetooth wireless speaker with a simplistic design, stereo active 2-way crossover system and 12-hour battery life. The speaker will be available for $229.95 in black or white through the Apple Online Store and authorized Beats retailers beginning next month.


Beats Pill+ Bluetooth Wireless Speaker will retail for $229.95 (Image: The Verge)

The new Beats Pill+ companion app will enable users to control the speaker using a smartphone, with features including the ability to control music from two Bluetooth sources and sync two Beats Pill+ speakers together for either simultaneous or dedicated right and left playback.
“When you obsess about sound the way that we do at Beats, portable Bluetooth speakers can be very tricky,” said Beats President Luke Wood. “We spent countless days, weeks, months testing for that perfect combination of form and function – small enough to travel but still big enough to feel the emotion of the music. That’s what you get with Pill+.”

The new Beats Pill+ replaces the original Beats Pill unveiled in October 2012, and is the company’s first new speaker since being acquired by Apple for $3 billion in May 2014. The new Beats Pill+ is larger than the original Pill speaker, but smaller than the recalled Beats XL speaker, and weighs 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg).

Beats Pill Plus App

Beats Pill+ companion app for iOS and Android

The Verge went hands-on with the new Beats Pill+ speaker, calling it “the most attractive looking and sounding speaker that Beats has ever made” after listening to a brief demo of songs from various genres, including tracks by The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, Tom Petty and punk rock band PUP.
More important than the look and build is the sound, and judging from my brief demo the Pill+ is likely the best-sounding Pill ever. That’s apparently all thanks to what’s called a two-way active system, meaning that amplifiers are built into the speakers — two in fact, one for each pair of woofer and tweeter. This helps better assign the different frequencies of music to the right parts of the speaker, resulting in better sound.

The Beats Pill+ is equipped with both Lightning and USB ports on the back for charging your iPhone or other devices. The speaker has a rubberized power button and volume controls and a metallic Beats logo that doubles as a play/pause button. There is also a line in audio port.

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John Sculley on ‘Steve Jobs’: Jeff Daniels’ Performance, Fails to Fully Capture Jobs

Just days before Steve Jobs opens in New York and Los Angeles on October 9, former Apple CEO John Sculley, who is portrayed in the movie by Jeff Daniels, spoke to The Wall Street Journal about his thoughts on the movie. Sculley liked the movie, calling it “extraordinary entertainment” and predicting it’ll be as successful as The Social Network.


Jeff Daniels as John Sculley in Steve Jobs

Sculley points out that he was “taken” by Daniels performance of him, saying that Daniels “accurately summarized a lot of the the things I felt then, and now.” Sculley participated in the development of the film, speaking with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and Daniels. He was impressed by Daniels’ efforts to understand him.

However, Sculley says that the film takes creative licenses with what actually happened. He notes that the film adds an extra encounter between him and Jobs after Jobs left Apple, that the words they exchanged during those encounters aren’t accurate and that him and the board still believed in the Mac after Jobs left. Sculley also echoes the thoughts of Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs and director Danny Boyle, who say the film doesn’t fully capture Jobs’ personality.

“Part of his personality was he was a passionate perfectionist, but there were so many other parts of Steve’s personality that I knew because Steve and I were not only business partners, but we were incredibly close friends for several years,” Sculley says. “I could tell you that the young Steve Jobs that I knew had a great sense of humor. He was on many occasions, when we were together, very warm. He cared a lot about the people he worked with and he was a good person. So, I think those aren’t the aspects that are focused on in this movie.”

Steve Jobs opens in New York and Los Angeles on October 9. The film will expand to more theaters on October 16 and open nationwide on October 23.

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Disney Artists Go Hands-On With Upcoming iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

Apple today sent a few iPad Pros over to Disney, where Disney animators were able to use them alongside the Apple Pencil to test out the iPad Pro’s drawing and sketching capabilities in a professional environment.

Disney Story Artist Jeff Ranjo shared a Periscope that demonstrates the iPad Pro in action, and several images of the Disney team’s drawings were shared on Twitter. The Disney team was using a beta version of popular drawing app Procreate, which has been updated to work with the iPad Pro, and an iPad Pro version of Paper by Fiftythree was also shown off.

In the Periscope, Ranjo was impressed with the grip of the iPad Pro’s screen when used with the Pencil, and he also was a fan of the palm rejection features. When drawing on an iPad Pro, the palm of a hand can be rested on the screen, but it’s still responsive to zoom gestures. At the end of the video, which is well worth watching to see the iPad in action, he says “Let’s order a bunch of them.”

Several additional photos were shared by Disney Product Manager Paul Hildebrandt. Disney Story Artist Paul Briggs used the iPad Pro to sketch Olaf from the movie Frozen, while longtime Disney artist Paul Felix drew classic Disney character Mickey Mouse.

Apple’s iPad Pro, Pencil, and Smart Keyboard will launch in November. Apple has not yet provided an exact release date for the new tablet, but recent rumors have suggested it could debut early in the month.

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iMessage Activation Via Phone Number Now Working on Wind Mobile in Canada

A growing number of Wind Mobile customers in Canada this week have confirmed to MacRumors and on social media that iMessage activation via phone number is now working properly on iPhone. iMessage on Wind Mobile previously only worked when activated using an Apple ID.

MacRumors reader Brandon and several other iPhone users confirmed the change.

Finally Wind Mobile in Canada is suddenly using native iMessage. You used to have to only use your Apple ID for iMessage and FaceTime because it was unsupported on Wind’s network. Today, suddenly it started working. I have confirmed it with an Apple Genius, and I myself am a former Apple technician as well.

Apple released iOS 9.0.2 last week with a fix for an issue that prevented iMessage activation for some users, but it is more likely the change was made by Wind Mobile given that iPhones running previous software versions such as iOS 8.4 also now have iMessage activation by SMS.

Apple does not list Wind Mobile as a supported wireless carrier on its website. Canadian carriers that officially support the iPhone include the big three networks Bell, Rogers and Telus, prepaid carriers Fido, Koodo and Virgin Mobile and regional carriers Eastlink, MTS, SaskTel, TbayTel and Videotron.

Wind Mobile is a bargain carrier in Canada, offering affordable rate plans with unlimited talk, text and data for between $25 and $50 per month. Wind Mobile’s coverage area is mainly limited to larger cities, however, such as the Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver metro areas.

(Thanks, Brandon!)

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AT&T Receives FCC Waiver Needed for Wi-Fi Calling, No Launch Date Yet

Earlier this week, AT&T announced that it had delayed its promised Wi-Fi calling feature as it had not been able to obtain an FCC waiver that would allow it to temporarily forgo offering support options for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Following that announcement, the FCC has now granted AT&T’s waiver request, allowing the carrier to proceed with its Wi-Fi calling launch plans.

The waiver is available on the FCC website [PDF] and grants AT&T the right to delay implementing a teletypewriter (TTY) service for the deaf until December 31, 2017. AT&T plans to instead use a newer form of communication, real-time text (RTT) as an alternative, and the waiver will allow it to avoid using a TTY service until its RTT service is fully operational.

In response to the FCC’s waiver grant, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs Jim Cicconi gave MacRumors the following statement:

We’re grateful the FCC has granted AT&T’s waiver request so we can begin providing Wi-Fi calling. At the same time we are left scratching our heads as to why the FCC still seems intent on excusing the behavior of T-Mobile and Sprint, who have been offering these services without a waiver for quite some time. Instead of initiating enforcement action against them, or at least opening an investigation, the agency has effectively invited them to now apply for similar waivers and implied that their prior flaunting of FCC rules will be ignored. This is exactly what we meant when our letter spoke of concerns about asymmetric regulation.”

In its original statement on the waiver delay, AT&T called out Sprint and T-Mobile for implementing Wi-Fi calling without obtaining similar permissions from the FCC, a sentiment that is again echoed in the above statement. Both T-Mobile and Sprint have allegedly implemented their Wi-Fi calling features without requesting a waiver for TTY rules.

Though AT&T now has its waiver, the company has not yet provided a timeline on when its subscribers can expect to have access to Wi-Fi calling. Ahead of the waiver fiasco, AT&T made Wi-Fi calling available during the iOS beta testing period, suggesting it is ready to debut in the near future.

(Thanks, Ryan!)

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Apple to Launch 4K 21.5-inch Retina iMac Next Week, iPad Pro in Early November

Apple plans to introduce the rumored 21.5-inch Retina iMac next week, reports 9to5Mac. There will be several models that could show up in stores as early as October 13, but supplies may be somewhat limited until production ramps up in November.

As has been previously rumored, the 21.5-inch iMac will have a resolution of 4096 x 2304. Code discovered in OS X El Capitan has pointed towards Broadwell chips with Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200 and AMD Radeon M380 – M395X discrete graphics for the new iMacs.

Rumors have also suggested the new 21.5-inch iMac will include an improved display quality with greater color saturation, but the external design of the machine will remain the same. Due to the new Retina displays, the 21.5-inch iMac models will be priced higher than existing iMac models.

The 27-inch iMac is not likely to receive an update alongside the 21.5-inch iMac and it is not clear if Apple will also debut new rumored accessories alongside the machine. According to regulatory filings, Apple is working on a second-generation Magic Mouse and a new wireless keyboard with Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity and a rechargeable battery.

As for the iPad Pro, Japanese site Mac Otakara recently suggested the larger-screened tablet would launch in early November, a rumor that 9to5Mac concurs with in today’s report.

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Microsoft Reveals New Band 2, Lumia Phones, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book

At a media event today, Microsoft announced a handful of new products and several updates to existing products coming from the company in 2015 and beyond. Topics for today’s event included the Microsoft Band 2, Lumia 950 and 950 XL smartphones, Microsoft Surface Pro 4, and the all-new Surface Book.

The company started off by going into detail about the Microsoft Band 2, the second version of last year’s wearable device. Microsoft said it took in a great amount of customer feedback in designing and implementing the new Band, which includes a new curved screen that with durable Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and an improved touch display. New Cortana integration lets users speak to the Band in order to send texts and make reminders, and the device also includes a barometer that measures elevation for everything from hiking to climbing stairs.

The company’s Microsoft Health app fuels the Band and lets users dig deeply into the data on everything from calorie burns to estimated recovery time for particularly intense workouts. The Band even includes an extensive golf measurement feature that can interpret the stroke of a swing and includes a score card that the company says is like “having your own personal caddy” on your wrist. Third-party partnerships with companies like Uber and Facebook are also incoming for the Microsoft Band 2, which will be available on October 30 for $249.

Microsoft also announced the Lumia 950 and 950 XL which are the newest iterations of the Lumia smartphone line, with 5.2-inch and 5.5-inch displays, respectively. Each of the new phones include a new feature called Glance Screen which showcases important pieces of information when a user pulls the phone out of his or her pocket, without the need to interact with the device directly and without using battery life. The Lumia 950 line also includes a 20-megapixel camera, Triple LED RGB natural flash, optical image stabilization, and a dedicated camera button on the side of the phone.
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