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Banks in the U.K. Gearing Up for Apple Pay Launch as Santander Allows Customers to Register Cards

Apple Pay in the United Kingdom has yet to officially launch, but some banks are preparing for the upcoming release of the payments service and have begun allowing customers to register their cards for use with Apple Pay.

Several Santander customers on the MacRumors forums have been able to successfully add their cards to Passbook for use with Apple Pay, making the cards available on both their iPhones and their Apple Watches.

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Customers registering their cards are also receiving confirmation emails from Santander, informing them that they're now able to use Apple Pay. As of the time of writing, customers have not yet tested the Apple Pay service at a location that accepts Apple Pay. One customer was told the bank's system is not live and that customers who were able to mistakenly register early would be de-registered, so it is not clear if the registered cards will be able to be used to make purchases.

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Activating a Santander card with Apple Pay at this time requires U.K. users to set their region to U.S., add a card, and change their region back to U.K., at which point the card remains available in Passbook. It's clearly a workaround, but a sign that banks are preparing to accept Apple Pay in the near future.

Other banks, like MBNA and Nationwide, are giving error messages like "Contact Card Issuer" and "Your Issuer Does Not Yet Offer Support."

It is not clear exactly when Apple Pay will become officially available in the United Kingdom, but during its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple said the payments service would launch in July. Recently released employee training documents have suggested the launch could come next week, on Tuesday, July 14. 250,000 merchants are expected to support Apple Pay in the U.K. when it is released.

Update: One of the Santander customers who was able to activate his card for use with Apple Pay was able to use it at a McDonald's to make a purchase.

Update 2: Santander customers who were able to activate their cards are now receiving email notifications letting them know the Apple Pay service is no longer available for use.

Related roundup: Apple Pay

Apple Adds New 'Apple Tested Cases' Page to Online Store

As it works on introducing some major changes to the third-party accessory sections of its retail stores, Apple has launched a new section in its online store dedicated to "Apple Tested Cases."

The new page is displayed alongside third-party iPhone and iPad cases and outlines the testing procedures for Apple-approved Made for iPhone/iPad (MFi) third-party cases that Apple sells both online and in its retail stores. Designed to reassure customers about the quality of the third-party accessories available from Apple, the site goes over several testing parameters that cases must meet, including design, camera, acoustics, sensors, and cellular and wireless.

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We analyze how a case fits, so you can still access every button, port, and jack. And a series of drop tests tells us the design is strong enough for day-to-day use.
Each case must fit the iPhone or iPad exactly, leaving all ports and features accessible. The camera and flash must be unobstructed, cases can't interfere with FaceTime, phone calls, or audio sound, and sensors for ambient light and Touch ID must work the same with the case on and off. Cellular, Wi-Fi, and NFC connectivity are also tested, with each case needing to meet Apple's standards for signal quality.

Apple has long engaged in these testing procedures to make sure accessories are compliant with its MFi programs, but the launch of the "Apple Tested Cases" page marks the first time that Apple's prominently shared its testing guidelines with the public.

The introduction of the page comes as Apple prepares to revamp the third-party accessory sections in many of its retail locations, cutting down on the number of accessories offered and packaging many of them in boxes that were co-designed by Apple to match the packaging of its own products.

Apple Watch Demand Slides Significantly in June as Launch Momentum Wanes

Apple Watch sales in the United States appear to have slowed down significantly in June based on new data that research firm Slice Intelligence shared with MarketWatch. Following a steep decline in the days after Apple Watch pre-orders commenced, which is to be expected of any product, daily U.S. sales remained relatively stable through May before experiencing a large drop-off last month as launch momentum begins to wane.

Apple Watch Sales Slice Apr to Jun 2015
The report claims that Apple is now selling fewer than 20,000 watches per day in the United States, and fewer than 10,000 on certain days, while the logarithmic chart above indicates that sales dipped to as low as 4,000 to 5,000 units per day in late June. The data does not account for sales in Canada, Australia, United Kingdom or the twelve other countries where the Apple Watch is sold outside of the United States.

Slice Intelligence claims that two-thirds of Apple Watches sold to date have been the entry-level Sport model, far outselling the more expensive stainless steel Watch and 18-karat gold Edition models that start at $549 and $10,000 respectively. The research firm estimates that Apple has sold fewer than 2,000 luxury Apple Watch Edition models in the U.S. through June.

Slice Intelligence previously estimated 1 million Apple Watch pre-orders at launch, an average 30,000 Apple Watch sales per day in late May and an estimated 2.8 million total sales as of mid June. The research firm's sales estimates are based on e-receipt data from online shoppers in the United States that opted-in to have their inboxes tracked for email receipts.

Apple has not publicly disclosed any Apple Watch sales figures since the wrist-worn device launched in April, and will be grouping the device under its "Other Products" category, which combines sales of Apple Watch, iPod, Apple TV, Beats Electronics and accessories, in its quarterly fiscal reports. Apple's Q3 FY 2015 results are scheduled to be released on July 21 at 2:00 PM Pacific.

Related roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2 , Tag: Slice Intelligence

Tim Cook Named to Duke University's Board of Trustees on Six-Year Term

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been named as one of eight new board of trustee members at his alma mater Duke University, where he earned his MBA from the Fuqua School of Business in 1988, the school announced today. Cook began serving his six-year term on July 1 and will assist the governing body in determining Duke University's educational mission and fiscal policies.

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Tim Cook speaking at Duke University in April 2013

The other new trustees are The Coca-Cola Foundation chairwoman Lisa Borders, PRM Advisors founder Patricia Morton, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and ValueAct Capital CEO Jeff Ubben. Duke University also appointed three observing members on the board, including Elastic Fabrics of America marketing executive and Duke alum Jack Boyd, recent Duke graduate Anna Knight and Duke JD/MBA candidate Ben Shellhorn.


Cook returned to Duke University in 2013 for his 25th reunion and participated in an hour-long dialogue with Fuqua School of Business Dean Bill Boulding and students about why Apple is successful, collaboration, ethical leadership, career planning, inspirational leaders, intuitions and more. The embedded playlist of videos above will play through each of the seven clips that the university shared.

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Cook poses for selfies with Blue Devils fans last April (Twitter/Mike Leopando)

Cook has also long been a supporter of Duke University basketball and took several photos with fans during the school's NCAA Final Four men's basketball championship winning game against Wisconsin on April 6. The chief executive made headlines at the time for wearing an Apple Watch, which became available for pre-order four days later before officially going on sale April 24.

Apple's First Retail Store in Queens, New York Opens July 11

Apple has announced that its first retail store in Queens, New York, located at the Queens Center shopping mall in the Elmhurst neighborhood, will have its grand opening on Saturday, July 11 at 10:00 AM local time. The new Apple Store at 90-15 Queens Boulevard will be open between 10:00 AM and 9:30 PM on Monday-Saturday and between 11:00 AM and 8:00 PM on Sunday.

Apple Store Queens Center
Apple's first retail store in Queens will mark its eighth location in New York City, with six existing locations in Manhattan and one in Staten Island. Apple is also planning to open its first retail store in Brooklyn, having signed a long-term lease for a 20,000 square-foot building at 247 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, although those plans are running behind schedule after the store missed its original April 2015 grand opening target.

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Apple Store at Queens Center under construction in late May (Twitter/Joe Calati)

Apple recently opened its new Upper East Side store in Manhattan at 940 Madison Avenue, on the corner of 74th Street, on the site of a former banking complex built in 1921 that previously housed luxury retailer VBH. The company also plans to renovate its iconic Fifth Avenue store and temporarily relocate to the vacating FAO Schwarz toy store in the same General Motors Building plaza.

'Hacking Team' Data Breach Confirms Firm's Ability to Infiltrate Jailbroken iPhones

Cybersecurity firm Hacking Team experienced a data breach earlier today, resulting in 400 GB of its documents being leaked onto the Internet, reports The Guardian. The documents confirm Hacking Team's ability to infiltrate and monitor jailbroken iPhones on behalf of government law enforcement agencies like the NSA, as noted by Macworld.

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Much has been speculated before and after Edward Snowden’s release of a trove of National Security Agency (NSA) documents in 2013 about the capabilities of the United States’ agencies as well as those of allies and enemies. The Hacking Team dump reveals quite a bit more about the routine functions of third-party suppliers into that ecosystem, including specifically enumerated capabilities.

iOS users should therefore take note that the long-running concern that jailbroken iPhones and iPads were susceptible to vulnerabilities that could include access by so-called state actors appears to be confirmed by the data breach.
Hacking Team's software would need to be installed on a jailbroken iPhone, but the firm has the ability to jailbreak and infect a phone with its software via a malware-infected trusted computer the phone is connected to. In the firm's pricing list [PDF, requires Chrome], it's revealed hacking an iOS device costs €50,000 ($55,242) and includes "features" like Skype, WhatsApp and Viber chats, location, contacts and lists of calls. However, this service also includes a prerequisite of a jailbroken iPhone.

Hacking Team uses a legitimate Apple enterprise signing certificate, which is used by corporations to create software that can easily be installed on employee devices, combined with jailbroken iOS devices to bypass iOS app installation protections. Additionally, Hacking Team developed the ability to create a malicious Newsstand app that could capture keystrokes and install monitoring software.

Last year, researchers working independently of each other at Kaspersky Lab and Citizen Lab discovered components of Hacking Team's tools and how they were used by government agencies to steal data from mobile devices, but the full extent of the software hadn't been confirmed until now.

Data breaching software and Apple devices have been in the news before, most famously in last year's celebrity iCloud data breach, where it was discovered that hackers were using ElcomSoft Phone Password Breaker, software intended for government and law agencies, to steal usernames and passwords to access iCloud backups.

While much of the discussion around government agencies and citizen data has revolved around mass collection, Hacking Team's software is designed to attack individual devices rather than a vast network. It's likely that the exploits detailed in Hacking Team's documents will be addressed and patched up in future iOS and Mac software updates.

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.

Apple Working to Add Home Sharing for Music in iOS 9

homesharingWith the release of iOS 8.4 and the new built-in Apple Music service, Apple removed Home Sharing for music on iOS devices, a move that many Home Sharing users have been upset about.

It was unclear if Home Sharing for music would be re-added in the future, but according to iTunes chief Eddy Cue, Apple is planning to add Home Sharing to iOS 9. In response to a tweet about the removal of Home Sharing for music, Cue tweeted "We are working to have Home Sharing in iOS 9."

Wording in the release notes for the last iOS 8.4 beta suggested that Home Sharing and Genius Mixes were "not currently available," hinting that the features could return at a later date, and it appears that is indeed Apple's plan.

While Home Sharing for music has been removed in iOS 8.4, the feature is still available for video. Home Sharing for music also remains available on the Mac and the Apple TV. It is unclear when Home Sharing for music will be introduced in iOS 9, but the next beta is expected later this week.

In recent weeks, Apple has been embracing social media, with Eddy Cue answering several questions about Apple Music and related services. Cue also used Twitter to announce Apple's plans to pay artists during the Apple Music free trial after an open letter from Taylor Swift, and he informed users about an upcoming iOS 9 beta seed that will add Apple Music to the new operating system.

Related roundup: iOS 9 , Tag: Home Sharing

Apple Retail Stores to Offer Third-Party Accessories in New Apple-Style Packaging

Apple is planning to introduce new co-designed packaging for many of the third-party accessories that it sells in its stores, according to retail store information shared by 9to5Mac. Apple has reportedly been working with several third-party accessory manufacturers on packaging design, helping to create a new look for boxes to better fit in with the packaging that's used for Apple's own products.

Companies participating in Apple's revamped packaging efforts include Tech21, Sena, Incase, Mophie, Logitech, and Life Proof. When these products are sold in Apple Stores, they'll be sold with simple, no-frills white boxes with minimal labeling as seen in photos.

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According to the memo, the packaging will be mostly white to match the Mac, iPhone, and Apple Watch boxes, while they will also include simpler fonts, new photography, higher-quality materials, and more consistent compatibility labeling. This shift is yet another in a string for third-parties that has included new environmental guidelines and a ban on leveraging early iPhone leaks.
Apple's new head of retail, Angela Ahrendts, has been working to revamp the Apple Store experience in recent months, streamlining the purchasing process and reimagining both product discovery and customer-employee interactions. The packaging redesign is part of a larger effort to overhaul Apple's in-store accessory lineup, limiting the number of products that are sold for a more refined look.

News of the revamped packaging was first shared by Mac Otakara [Google Translate] in June, and a sneak preview of what the accessory sections of Apple's retail stores might look like can be seen at the company's Upper East Side store in New York.

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Apple's Upper East Side store, image via Mark Lennihan, Associated Press

Apple Store accessory sections are expected to begin seeing changes starting next week, which is when the new packaging will be introduced.

Purported Schematic Suggests 'iPhone 6s' Could Be Slightly Thicker, Retain Home Button

A purported schematic for the so-called "iPhone 6s" obtained by Engadget Japan (via BGR) reveals that the next-generation smartphone could have a thickness of 7.1mm, a slight increase or equal to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which measure 6.9mm and 7.1mm respectively. The schematic also suggests that the "iPhone 6s" will still have a home button, while all other buttons and ports remain unchanged.

iPhone 6s Schematic Engadget Japan
The slight 0.2mm increase in thickness could be the result of Apple adding pressure-sensing Force Touch technology to the next iPhone, enabling the smartphone's display to distinguish between a light tap and firmer press and complete different actions accordingly. The "iPhone 6s" is also rumored to adopt 7000 Series aluminum, which could possibly contribute to marginally different dimensions.

The schematic is consistent with leaked photos of the "iPhone 6s" rear shell, which confirm that the handset will have only minor design changes. In particular, the Lightning connector, speakers, microphones, headphone jack, volume rocker, mute button, sleep/wake button, SIM card slot, antenna lines and cutout for the rear-facing camera and LED flash are all identical to the iPhone 6.

The lack of exterior design changes on the "iPhone 6s" is unsurprising given that "S" model iPhones have historically looked almost identical to the iPhone released one year prior. The iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5S, for example, each had virtually the same design as the iPhone 3G, iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 respectively. Instead, the focus of the "iPhone 6s" will likely be on internal improvements.

Leaked photos of the "iPhone 6s" logic board reveal that the smartphone will likely feature Qualcomm’s MDM9635M chip, capable of theoretical LTE download speeds up to 300 Mbps, double the max speed of 150 Mbps in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The next iPhone is also rumored to feature an A9 processor with 2GB of RAM, an updated NFC chip for Apple Pay and an improved 12-megapixel rear-facing camera.

Related roundups: iPhone 6, iPhone 6s (2015) , Tag: schematic

'iPhone 6s' Logic Board Suggests 16GB Base Model and Updated NFC Hardware

New images of the logic board from the next-generation "iPhone 6s" have been obtained by 9to5Mac, a few days after the site shared photos from an unnamed source which showed that a new, updated Qualcomm LTE chip could be in store for the iPhone this year. Today's images suggest that, on top of the Qualcomm chip's faster LTE speeds and increased energy efficiency, the iPhone 6s will include fewer chips that are collectively more efficient, updated NFC hardware for Apple Pay, and likely the same 16GB entry-level capacity seen on current iPhones.

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The Toshiba flash memory chip shown in the photos has a 16GB capacity based on the "G7" in the part number, and was built using a 19nm production process. This suggests that the new line of iPhones this year will once again offer a starting storage option of 16GB, likely supplemented with the same 64GB and 128GB options at higher price points seen currently.

While many have complained 16GB is not enough entry-level storage as HD video and space-hungry apps have proliferated, recently Apple SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller claimed the company's cloud-focused services, like the just-launched Apple Music, help alleviate some of the storage stresses on low-end storage configurations. Other changes with iOS 9 such as smaller iOS update sizes and app thinning to load only the app assets needed for a particular device, will also help trim down storage needs.

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On the NFC side of the new iPhone, the new chip inside the iPhone 6s is again from NXP but with a new 66VP2 part number compared to the 65V10 part in the iPhone 6. Chip teardown experts at Chipworks were unclear, however, exactly what kind of improvements such a chip will bring to the new line of smartphones, although they posit it could be eliminating the need for a separate secure element processor altogether and folding the two into one chip.

Echoing earlier rumors, today's images suggest once again that the iPhone 6s will remain identical in look and shape to its predecessor, as seen in a case maker's design drawings and logical for the continuation of the "S" generation trend. Any changes in dimensions would be negligible, leaving the device compatible with nearly all existing iPhone 6 cases and accessories.

Related roundups: iPhone 6, iPhone 6s (2015)

How Apple Music's Liking System Works to Customize 'For You' Recommendations

Apple Music's main draw is its focus on curation and its ability to learn about your music preferences to provide recommendations that suit your tastes. Apple's new Music app focuses heavily on content discovery, with an entire "For You" section dedicated to recommendations.

According to Apple, its music experts "handpick songs, artists, and albums based on what you listen to and like," and this content is what populates the "For You" section. Apple's explained that "For You" recommendations get better over time based on "whether you love a song or not," but the company hasn't explicitly spelled out how to best use likes and listens to better tailor Apple Music to your tastes.

To clear up confusion on how recommendations work, The Loop's Jim Dalrymple has spoken directly with Apple to get some insight on how the "Like" feature in Apple Music works to affect recommendations, and he's penned a useful guide on liking from the information he obtained, which is well worth reading.

Any song played from Beats 1 radio, a default radio station, a curated playlist, or from a search can be liked by expanding the miniplayer and tapping the heart icon. You can essentially heart anything that's playing via Apple Music.

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As Dalrymple explains, tapping the heart button on a song you like influences the content that's then displayed in the "For You" section of Apple Music. As more content is liked, the feature gets a better idea of each individual user's tastes, and is able to offer up a more tailored selection of music. Music that's added to a library and music that's played in full also affects "For You."
Tapping the heart does affect "For You," the section of Apple Music that's custom built with playlists, albums and songs tailored to your individual tastes. For You also takes into account music you add to your library and full plays you listen to. Skips aren't really taken into account, because there are so many reasons you may skip a song--maybe you're just not in the mood for it right now.
Radio stations created from individual songs, done by tapping on the hamburger button when any song is playing and choosing "Start Station," work a bit differently. Instead of displaying a heart, these playlists display a star. Tapping the star allows you to choose "Play More Like This" or "Play Less Like This" to tune a radio station to your particular tastes at that time without affecting overall "For You" recommendations.

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Pressing on any album or playlist recommendation in "For You" gives you an option to customize the section even more, by choosing "I Don't Like This Suggestion." It appears that this customization option is limited to iOS devices for the time being, as Apple Music on Mac doesn't offer this menu.

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Apple Music's ability to offer up intensively tailored song recommendations over time may be one of the reasons why Apple insisted on giving users a three month trial to experience the service. Regularly liking songs and culling the "For You" section of recommendations that aren't suitable should vastly change the quality of suggestions over the course of the next few months.

'iPhone 6s' Again Rumored to Feature 12MP Camera With 4K Video Recording

A sketchy and unconfirmed internal document posted by an alleged Foxconn employee on Chinese microblogging website Weibo (via PhoneArena) corroborates rumors that the next-generation iPhone could feature a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera with 4K video recording and 240 FPS slow-motion capabilities.

Weibo iPhone 6s Documents
Weibo user KJuma has since removed the pair of leaked documents he shared on the Twitter-like service, but not before the images began making their rounds on the web. The documents also corroborate multiple rumors claiming the so-called iPhone 6s ("N66") and iPhone 6s Plus ("N71") will have 2GB of RAM.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a respectable track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, issued a note to investors in May with eleven predictions for the next iPhone, and a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera sensor and A9 processor with 2GB of RAM were among the new features he listed.

Related roundups: iPhone 6, iPhone 6s (2015) , Tags: Foxconn, 4K, 240 FPS