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'AlwaysOnline Wireless' Debuts New Short-Term Cellular Data Plans for Apple SIM

Otono Networks today announced the launch of AlwaysOnline Wireless, a global LTE roaming network exclusively for iPads with Apple SIM. The roaming network will be available in 45 countries, but will expand to additional countries in the future.

AlwaysOnline will offer LTE data plans starting from $0.99 an hour for 15 MB, and users can pay by hour, data or megabyte. Otono CEO Emir Aboulhosn says that the company wants to offer short-term data plans for times customers "really need connectivity on-the-go" like if they need to "catch up on email in the car" or "get directions to their next meeting."

AlwaysOnline's roaming network is available in countries like Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan, Saudi Arabia and more. However, the network's plans aren't available to the residents of the majority of the countries listed. The full list can be seen on AlwaysOnline's website.

Last year, Apple introduced the Apple SIM with cellular models of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 sold in the United States and United Kingdom. The Apple SIM allows users to easily move between networks, taking advantage of short-term data deals when needed. More recently, the cellular models of the iPad mini 4 and iPad Pro have included Apple SIM support. The Apple SIM can now be purchased in 13 countries.

Earlier this year, Apple agreed to a deal with mobile connectivity company GigSky to bring Apple SIM cellular data plans to over 90 countries. While GigSky offers short-term data deals in more countries than AlwaysOnline, the latter offers

AT&T Offering 'Buy One Get One Free' Deal on iPhone 6s

AT&T on Friday launched a new "Buy One Get One Free" promotion for the Galaxy S6, Galaxy Note 5 and select other Samsung smartphones, and MacRumors has learned the deal also applies to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

Beginning today until December 31, 2015, AT&T customers who activate or upgrade to an iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus on AT&T Next are eligible to receive a second 16GB iPhone 6s for free, or a $650 bill credit towards the purchase of another iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus model.

The $650 bill credit is spread out into 28 or 30 monthly payments. AT&T Next 24 customers will receive $21.67 over 30 months, while AT&T Next customers with a down payment will receive $23.22 over 28 months, both totaling $650.

Any down payments are due at the time of sale, and monthly bill credits will appear within 2-3 bill cycles. The first payment will be a lump sum of any AT&T Next payments to that date. The original AT&T line must remain in good standing for eligibility.

AT&T has not publicly advertised its "Buy One Get One Free" deal for the iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, but customers should be able to visit participating AT&T stores or contact the carrier otherwise to learn more, including exact terms and

Apple Watch Sport and Accessories Now Available at Walmart

Walmart has begun selling the Apple Watch Sport and accessories through its online store for U.S. customers. The discount retailer is currently only carrying 38mm and 42mm Sport models in Silver or Space Gray for $349 to $399 alongside the Apple Watch Sport Band and Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable.

Walmart joins a growing number of Apple Watch resellers carrying the wrist-worn device in the U.S. since its April launch, including Best Buy, B&H Photo, Maxfield, Sprint, Target, T-Mobile and dozens of other retailers nationwide. The device is not yet available in Walmart stores, but in-store pickup is available for online orders.

Unlike Best Buy, which is offering $100 off the Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch, Walmart is not offering any discounts on the Apple Watch or accessories at this time. Best Buy, Colette and Target also offered Black Friday deals on the Apple Watch, leading to some discussion about how well the Apple Watch is selling.

Walmart offers free shipping on orders over $50 in the U.S., and in-store pickup is currently estimated to take about one

Apple Pushing iPhone Upgrades During Holiday Shopping Season

Apple this week has encouraged customers to trade in and upgrade to a new iPhone through its website, email and an App Store banner advertisement.

Apple's new section on its iPhone website reminds customers about trading in their current smartphone at the Apple Store or online through partner Brightstar for up to $320 instant credit. Apple accepts the iPhone 4 or later for trade in.

Apple's website, left, and email, right, promoting iPhone upgrades this week
Apple's mass email to U.S. customers promotes the iPhone Upgrade Program and shares details about how the financing program works. The email also provides similar details about trading in a smartphone for up to $320 instant credit.

Apple has also made the controversial decision to advertise the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus to older iPhone users directly in the App Store, with a pop-up banner advertisement that can be dismissed by tapping on "skip" in the top-right corner.

App Store banner advertising the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus
iPhones are one of the hottest gifts during the holiday shopping season, so it is unsurprising that Apple is pushing its latest smartphones at this time of the year alongside free shipping, extended returns and complimentary gift wrapping. Undoubtedly, though, the move will also stir discussion about iPhone sales.

Apple sold 48 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015, up from 39.2 million in the year-ago quarter. iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus sales topped a record 13 million during their launch weekend, but KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently predicted

Mercedes-Benz Shares Full Lineup of 2016 U.S. CarPlay Vehicles

Mercedes-Benz has issued an internal announcement to U.S. dealers (via C450 AMG) that confirms CarPlay will be supported in a number of 2016 model year vehicles starting with December 1, 2015 or January 8, 2016 production or later.

CarPlay can be controlled using the central controller or touchpad, if equipped, on supported Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Siri voice commands can be activated by pressing the voice control button on the steering wheel.

CarPlay works with compatible iPhones plugged into a specific USB port on supported Mercedes-Benz vehicles, labeled "2" below on the right.
Apple CarPlay® will be a completely different interface than the customary Mercedes-Benz infotainment. The customer will not be able to use the Mercedes-Benz headunit functions at the same time as CarPlay®. For example, use of the Spotify app cannot be done simultaneously with COMAND Navigation.
CarPlay is available in 2016 CLA, GLA and B-Class vehicles with December 1, 2015 production or later as a standalone $350 package or "Multimedia Package with Smartphone Integration" upgrade.

Apple's in-dash software is also available in the 2016 E400 Coupe, E550 Coupe, E400 Cabriolet, E550 Cabriolet and CLS400 Coupe with December 1, 2015 production or later with the "Premium 1" or "Premium 2" equipment package ($3,650-$4,080).

CarPlay is included standard with COMAND Navigation in 2016 CLS550 Coupe and CLS63 S Coupe models with December 1, 2015 production or later, and 2016 GLE400, GLE450 Coupe, GLE63 and GLE63 S models with January 8, 2016 production or later.

Mercedes-Benz 2016 U.S.

tvOS App Store After One Month: 2,624 Apps in Total, Entertainment Apps Most Popular With Consumers

It's been more than a month since tvOS and the tvOS App Store launched alongside the new fourth-generation Apple TV, marking a good time to take a look at the state of the tvOS App Store. AppFigures today published some figures on tvOS apps, giving us an overview of the new App Store's progress since it launched.

There are a total of 2,624 apps available in the tvOS App Store, and AppFigures expects growth to hit 5,000 apps in January and 10,000 apps early in 2016, with an average of 447 apps being added to the tvOS App Store each week. At that growth rate, tvOS is closely mirroring the growth of the original iOS App Store. In July of 2008, the iOS App Store launched with 500 apps, and expanded to 9,676 apps four months later in November of 2008.

At six months, the iOS App Store was at 15,000 apps and 500 million downloads, so it will be interesting to see if the tvOS App Store keeps pace. As of now, its growth rate compared to the growth rate of the iOS App Store is promising -- in a few years, the tvOS App Store could closely resemble the iOS App Store in terms of app availability.

Of course, Apple will need to entice developers to the platform for it to be as successful as the iOS App Store, and that could be an uphill battle. TouchArcade editor-in-chief Eli Hodapp recently spoke to multiple tvOS developers who have popular apps and games in the tvOS App Store, many of whom are earning $100 "on a good day" with revenue that's been trailing off since the Apple TV launched.

The tvOS App Store may be growing steadily, but if Apple can't encourage developers

Walmart Announces Apple Pay Competitor 'Walmart Pay' for iOS

Walmart today introduced its own mobile payments service called "Walmart Pay" built into its Walmart app on iOS and Android. The new Apple Pay competitor will roll out in select Walmart stores in the U.S. this month, followed by a nationwide launch within the first half of 2016.

Walmart Pay's QR code-based checkout process will involve opening the Walmart app, selecting Walmart Pay, activating the camera, scanning the code displayed at the register and waiting for the cashier to finish bagging your items. An electronic receipt will automatically be sent to the Walmart app.

The new payments solution will only work in Walmart stores and supports any major credit, debit, pre-paid or Walmart gift card. Walmart says that 22 million customers actively use its Walmart app each month, placing it among the top three retail apps in the App Store and Google Play.


Walmart is among a handful of retailers that have refused to support Apple Pay since its U.S. launch in October 2014. The retailer is instead one of over a dozen retailers committed to the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) consortium and its yet-to-launch rival payments service CurrentC.

Walmart's future plans to support Apple Pay remain undisclosed, but the company's senior vice president of services Daniel Eckert said Walmart Pay allows "for integration of other mobile wallets in the future."
“The simplicity and ease of Walmart Pay comes not only from how it works, but also in how it’s been built,” said Daniel Eckert, senior vice president, services, Walmart U.S. “We made a strategic decision to

Tim Cook on New iPhone 6s Battery Case: 'I Wouldn't Call it the Hump'

Apple CEO Tim Cook attended one of Apple's Hour of Code events in New York this afternoon, where he spoke to Mashable's Lance Ulanoff about the new iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case, which debuted yesterday.

Ulanoff asked Cook if he was excited about the "hump," a mocking nickname people have given to the battery case due to its distinctive shape. In response, Tim Cook said he was aware of the comments people were making about the case. "You know, I probably wouldn't call it 'the hump,'" Cook said.

Cook went on to point out the malleability of the new Smart Battery Case in comparison to other battery cases. It's made of a soft silicone that makes it easy to put on and remove, unlike more rigid cases from third-party companies.
Cook was pointing out the issue with cases, like those from Mophie, that are so rigid it takes considerable strength and patience to put them on and take them off.

"If you make this solid all the way across," said Cook, indicating the spots where the Apple case's embedded battery stops and you just have the soft fluoroelastomer casing, "in order to get it on, you'd find it very difficult to get it on and off."

"So the guys had this great insight to put the bend in along with making it a smart case," Cook explained.
Cook also commented on the viewpoint that the case is an admission the iPhone 6s battery is too small, saying most people who charge their iPhones every day won't need the case. "But if you're out hiking and you go on overnight trips... it's kind of nice to have," he said.

Apple introduced its iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case

Apple's TV Plans Fell Apart Over Content Owners' Resistance to Skinny Bundles

Following comments made by CBS CEO Les Moonves on the state of Apple's rumored television service, news leaked confirming Apple has put plans for such a service on hold for the time being due to difficulties securing content deals.

While Bloomberg spoke to a source that chalked the failed negotiations up to media companies demanding more money than Apple wanted to charge for the service, Re/code's Peter Kafka has added some additional context, pointing towards a reluctance to unbundle channels as another factor that killed the service.

Apple was hoping to offer a limited bundle of approximately 25 channels at a price of $30 to $40 per month, but even early on, there was pushback from content providers who wanted Apple to offer all of their content rather than just a few select channels. A rumor in April concerning negotiations between Disney and Apple suggested Disney was pushing Apple to include most of its content, including ESPN, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, and more, while Apple wanted to offer just a few of Disney's channels.

According to Kafka, the situation with Disney happened with other content providers, many of whom did not want to offer just a small selection of channels from their content catalogs.
Apple's beef with the TV Industrial Complex is a bit more nuanced. It's also a significant one: If Apple gets its way, TV will undergo a significant change, just like the music business did when Apple launched its iTunes store in 2003. [...]

If Apple gets its way, it means the traditional pay TV package, which averages

Apple Now Allowing Personal Pickup for Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard

Stock of the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard remains low, but Apple is now allowing customers to use its Personal Pickup feature to order the devices online and arrange to pick them up in a local Apple Store. Enabling Personal Pickup may make it easier for customers hoping to get an Apple Pencil or Smart Keyboard to locate one nearby, as it lists retail stock that's shipped to stores each day.

Both the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard were unavailable on the day the iPad Pro launched, with the earliest November 11 buyers receiving their accessories a week or two later. Those who were not lucky enough to order right at midnight when the iPad Pro launched were stuck with delivery estimates that ranged into late December. Orders placed today list a delivery estimate of mid-January.

Though it's impossible to get an Apple Pencil or Smart Keyboard online, Apple has been sending small shipments of the accessories to its retail stores each day, allowing some lucky customers to purchase in store. Prior to today, the only way to get an Apple Pencil or Smart Keyboard was to show up shortly after a shipment was received, as there was no way to track supplies online. With Personal Pickup, it's now possible to see exactly which stores have which devices in stock in the United States and other countries.

It appears that the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard are not available in many stores across the country at the current time, with stores in many of the major cities we checked listing it as "Unavailable for Pickup." A couple of MacRumors readers have been able to

Tim Cook Accepts 2015 Ripple of Hope Award at RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights

Apple CEO Tim Cook accepted the 2015 Ripple of Hope Award at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights on Tuesday night, and gave a nearly twelve minute speech about the need for social change, reports Bloomberg.

Tim Cook at the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights (Image: Bloomberg)
Cook, who spoke after Evercore's Roger Altman and Unesco ambassador Marianna Vardinoyannis, discussed a wide range of ongoing social issues, including the Syrian refugee crisis, climate change, Apple's charitable work, access to quality education, privacy and discrimination.
“Today, more than half of the states in this country still don’t offer basic protections to gay or transgender people, leaving millions of people vulnerable to being fired or evicted because of who they are or who they love,” Cook said.

"Today, some in our country would turn away innocent men, women and children seeking refuge,” Cook said, “regardless of how many background checks they may submit to, simply based on where they were born. Victims of war and now victims of fear and misunderstanding."

"Today, too many children are denied access to quality education simply because of the zip code they live in. They begin their lives facing strong headwinds and disadvantage they did nothing to deserve. We could do better, Robert Kennedy would say, and because we can do better, we must act."
Cook offered praise for Robert F. Kennedy and said he has two photographs of him in his office that he looks at each day. "I think about his example, what it means to me as an American, but also more specifically,

Periscope Named Apple's App of the Year in Best of 2015 Charts

Apple has published its annual Best of 2015 charts for the App Store, iTunes and iBooks Store, naming live video platform Periscope its App of the Year and Tomb Raider puzzler spinoff Lara Croft GO its Game of the Year.

Enlight and Robinhood were selected as runner-ups for App of the Year, while strategy game Fallout Shelter and one-touch platformer Mr Jump finished second and third place respectively in the Game of the Year standings.

Popular automation app Workflow was deemed the "most innovative" app in 2015, while Dark Echo was awarded the same title in the gaming category. Instagram earned "Best App on iPhone 6s" and Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade won "Best Game on iPhone 6s."

Apple's Top 25 Apps of 2015

1. Periscope
2. Enlight
3. Robinhood
4. Workflow
5. Instagram
6. HBO NOW
7. Hopper
8. Darkroom
9. Lark
10. The Everything Machine
11. Pacemaker
12. Tandem
13. Jet
14. Timeline
15. Vee for Video
16. Fit Men Cook
17. Spark
18. RefME
19. Wildcard
20. Paper by FiftyThree
21. GIPHY CAM
22. PRY
23. Reuters TV
24. Zova
25. Blue Apron

Apple's Top 25 Games of 2015

1. Lara Croft GO
2. Fallout Shelter
3. Mr Jump
4. Dark Echo
5. Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade
6. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
7. Vainglory
8. Dungeon Boss
9. Puzzle Craft 2
10. PAC-MAN 256
11. You Must Build A Boat
12. AG Drive
13. MARVEL Contest of Champions
14. Horizon Chase - World Tour
15. Shadowmatic
16. Wonky Ship
17. Super Sharp
18. Last Voyage
19. Ski Safari 2
20. Downwell
21. Rayman Adventures
22. Afterpulse
23. Psych! Outwit Your Friends
24.