Walt Disney World to Begin Accepting Apple Pay Starting December 24

Walt Disney World will officially begin accepting Apple Pay starting this Wednesday, December 24, reports WDWMagic (via iMore). The inclusion of Apple Pay will allow users to make purchases at the theme park with an iPhone 6 or an iPhone 6 Plus, and is a part of Disney's initiative to accept more contactless payment methods rolled out with its MyMagic+ program. disneyworldlogo
Leveraging the RFID infrastructure deployed as part of MyMagic+, Walt Disney World will also accept other contactless payments, such as Google Wallet and contactless RFID credit cards.

Initially, most stores, quick service restaurants, bars and ticket sales booths will be included. Any locations that use portable payment terminals, such as table service restaurants, will be added later.
Walt Disney World was listed as one of the first partners for Apple Pay alongside retailers like Macy's, Walgreens, Subway, McDonalds, and Whole Foods. The report also states that Disneyland will begin accepting contactless payment methods like Apple Pay in 2015. Apple Pay has seen impressive early adoption numbers since launching in October, making up 1% of all digital payment dollars in November with Whole Foods being the most popular location for the payment method.

T-Mobile to Pay $90M to Settle With FTC Over Cramming Accusation

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.

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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

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.

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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.

Photo Editing App 'Brushstroke' Named App of the Week, Available for Free

Popular photo editing app Brushstroke has been named Apple's App of the Week, and as a result, it is available to download for free for the first time since its March 2014 launch. Normally, the app is priced at $2.99, prior to today, it's lowest price was $0.99.

Brushstroke, as the name implies, is designed to transform photographs into paintings using a variety of photo filters. There are dozens of different brush options that produce different paint effects, and each brush option can be customized using on-screen touch gestures to enhance the effect.

There are also various color filters to apply that will change the final look of the photo painting, and various textures like paper, canvas, wood, rock, and stone allow for even more customization. Controls for standard photo editing features like saturation, contrast, brightness, exposure, and more, are also available, and each photo work of art is finished off with a signature.

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Edited photos can be shared on various social networks like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and the developers behind Brushstroke have partnered with CanvasPop to let users order physical prints, posters, and canvases of their edited photos at prices starting at $10. There is one in-app purchase in the app, but it is totally unnecessary and simply adds more effects to the multitude of tools and effects already available in the app.
Features:
- Automatically transform your photos into one of many painting styles
- Load photos from your Camera Roll and other Albums
- Take snaps and watch them transform instantly
- Experiment with different color palettes
- Adjust your painting to get just the right look
- Select from a variety of canvases and surfaces
- Sign your painting to personalize it
- Share your art on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook
- Have your art printed and shipped right to your doorstep
Brushstroke will be available to download for free for the next seven days. [Direct Link]

Bank of America Promoting Apple Pay in New Shopping-Focused TV Commercial

Bank of America this week released a new advertisement promoting Apple Pay, joining a growing number of financial institutions including Chase and Wells Fargo that are advertising Apple's recently launched mobile payments service.

The thirty-second video follows a businesswoman as she shops for her family and herself, buying a shirt, a dog bone, and some lipstick all with her iPhone. She then is seen leaving the store via an elevator, winking as the camera fades away.


Similar to previous commercials, the Bank of America ad focuses on the convenience of using Apple Pay to make payments with a Bank of America credit card. The narrator ends the ad by promoting Apple Pay as "the new, easy, secure, smart way to pay with a simple touch."

Interest in Apple Pay is increasing as additional banks and retailers start adopting the payment option. One of the newest retailers is the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, which is the the home of the Orlando Magic basketball team, with Apple Pay support launching at concession stands and other retail locations within the arena tomorrow. According to the Magic, Chase card holders using Apple Pay at the Amway Center will be eligible for prizes such as $25 gift cards to the Magic team shop and Magic-branded iPhone 6 or 6 Plus cases over the next five home games. An iPad Air 2 will also be given away at each of the five games.

While many smaller banks have yet to roll out Apple Pay, support from the largest U.S. banks has given the service a strong foothold in the market. Apple recently confirmed that its mobile payments service now supports cards representing about 90 percent of the credit card purchase volume in the United States.

Related roundup: Apple Pay

Apple Researching Enhanced Touch ID Security Using Finger Motion Tracking

In a newly published Apple patent application credited to Dale Setlak, co-founder of AuthenTec, the company reveals its interest in enhanced security capabilities for the iPhone home button and Touch ID. The patent application describes how the Touch ID sensor could be paired with an on-screen combination lock or other secondary security feature, requiring the user to move his or her finger in certain directions to fully unlock a device.

As noted by Patently Apple, the June 2013 application shows off a few possibilities for the new technology, including a traditional combination lock-style system that has the user rotating his or her finger on the Touch ID sensor to input a security code.

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Another potential implementation would require the user to swipe through a collection of circles by subtly shifting his or her finger in a specific pattern to unlock the phone. Both rely on the same technology created by AuthenTec that uses simultaneous security of a user's unique fingerprint and secure combinations to gain access to a device. AuthenTec has of course played an important role since its acquisition by Apple back in 2012, with the company's "Smart Sensor" technology serving as the basis for Touch ID.

While Touch ID was implemented for security reasons, the addition of a simple-to-enter secondary security code would increase security even further as a form of two-factor authentication combining physical authentication (fingerprint) with knowledge-based authentication (lock combination or swipe pattern). Implementation of such a system would address concerns over court rulings indicating that users could be compelled by police to unlock fingerprint-protected devices, unlike with passcode-protected devices.

The evolution of Touch ID from solely a fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5s to the expanded "Reachability" features of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus provides a hint at the possibilities of Touch ID in the future. And while inventions disclosed in Apple patent applications frequently do not ever appear in products, they can still offer some insight into Apple's areas of interest.

Related roundup: iPhone 6

Jimmy Fallon Gives Each 'The Tonight Show' Audience Member a Free iPad Air 2

Audience members at the taping of Wednesday night's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon episode were treated to an early Christmas present in the form of a free iPad Air 2 for each person.

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"I'm in the spirit of giving," Fallon remarked before revealing the giveaway in last night's version of the "Tonight Show Stocking Stuffers" segment Fallon has been running all week. On Monday, Fallon gave away Bose Soundlink Mini-Bluetooth Speakers, and Tuesday saw the gifting of a Vitamix S30 personal blender.


Fallon is known to be an avid fan of tech and gaming and Apple in particular, repeatedly commenting on big releases of Apple products like the iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch. The talk show host has also partnered with good friend Justin Timberlake to voice a handful of ads focusing on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Related roundup: iPad Air 2

Apple Reminds Developers About February 64-Bit Support Deadline for Newly Submitted iOS Apps

ios_8_iconApple today began sending out emails to developers, reminding them that as of February 1, 2015, all apps submitted to the App Store need to be built with the iOS 8 software development kit and include 64-bit support. Developers were first informed of the upcoming rules back in October, after the release of iOS 8 and the iPhone 6/6 Plus.

The email also states that as of June 1, 2015, all app updates submitted to the App Store will need to adhere to the same requirements, giving the company a way to make sure all current apps take advantage of 64-bit support and are iOS 8 compliant. The shift to across-the-board 64-bit support will offer improved app performance on 64-bit devices.
Dear Developer,
As we announced in October, beginning February 1, 2015 new iOS apps submitted to the App Store must include 64-bit support and be built with the iOS 8 SDK. Beginning June 1, 2015 app updates will also need to follow the same requirements. To enable 64-bit in your project, we recommend using the default Xcode build setting of "Standard architectures" to build a single binary with both 32-bit and 64-bit code.
Apple first began asking developers to submit 64-bit apps following the September 2013 release of the iPhone 5s, which introduced the 64-bit A7 processor. All of Apple’s newest devices, including the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3 offer 64-bit processors, as does the iPad mini 2 and the original iPad Air.

At the current time, developers are still permitted to submit 32-bit apps along with universal binaries, but that option will expire when February rolls around.

Netflix Executive: Offline Viewing 'Never Going to Happen'

Netflix customers hoping for offline viewing on their iPad or iPhone may have to wait indefinitely for the feature to be supported by the streaming service. Speaking to TechRadar, Netflix director of corporate communications and technology Cliff Edwards said offline viewing is "never going to happen."

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Edwards asserts that offline viewing is a "short term fix" that doesn't address the bigger issue of sparse public Wi-Fi access. In the next five years, Edwards believes the expansion of public Wi-Fi and cellular coverage will make the idea of offline viewing obsolete. With a ubiquitous Internet connection, customers won't need to download as they will be able stream all the time.

Instead of working to support offline viewing, Netflix has been focusing on original programming, with twenty new series planned for the coming years. The company also has been moving forward with 4K content and steadily improving its iOS app, recently adding support for iOS 8 and 1080p HD streaming on the iPhone 6 Plus.

Apple Temporarily Halts Online Sales in Russia Due to 'Extremely Sharp' Ruble Fluctuations

Apple has temporarily halted online sales in Russia due to fluctuations in the value of the ruble, reports Bloomberg. The online store will be down until Apple is able to revise its prices in the country.
"Our online store in Russia is currently unavailable while we review pricing," Alan Hely, a spokesman for the Cupertino, California-based company, said today in an e-mailed statement. "We apologize to customers for any inconvenience."
Similarly, an Apple spokesperson told Russian site Lenta.ru that the store was offline due to "extremely sharp" fluctuations of the Russian ruble.

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As of right now, the Apple Online store for Russia is down, displaying Apple's typical "We'll be back" message that is offered when a store is taken offline. It is not clear how long it will take to make the pricing adjustments.

Due to the weak Russian ruble, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in Russia were priced much lower than in other European countries. Ahead of the store closure, the 16GB iPhone 6 was priced at 39990 rubles, equivalent to €447 or $558. The 16GB iPhone 6 Plus was priced at 46990 rubles, or €550/$681. In many other European countries, the 16GB iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are priced closer to €700 ($876) and €800 ($999), respectively.

This is the second time in recent weeks that Apple has had to adjust pricing in Russia. Last month, Apple increased the price of the iPhone 6 by 25 percent in the country. The ruble fell as much as 19 percent today to exceed 80 per dollar before rebounding somewhat. The ruble is down roughly 50 percent against the dollar this year.

Instagram for iOS Gains Five New Filters, Slo-Mo Video Uploads

For the first time in two years, the Instagram app for iOS has been updated with all new filters. Added today, Slumber, Crema, Ludwig, Perpetua, and Aden are subtle filters that are designed to slightly enhance photos without overwhelming effects.

According to Instagram, early filters were designed to compensate for lower image quality, while the filters released today take into account higher image quality while providing tools to capture the mood of a moment.

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Inspired by the photography, art, fashion and design of the global Instagram community, we're releasing five new filters that we believe are our best yet. You'll see the filters at the front of your filter tray: Slumber, Crema, Ludwig, Aden and Perpetua. They soften and subtly shift colors to achieve the look and feel you want for your each photo.
In addition to the five new filters, Instagram for iOS has also gained the ability to upload slo-mo video, real-time commenting, a customizable filter tray, a new look for previewing filters, and photo perspective adjustment options.

Instagram can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

'Launch Center Pro' Developer Releases Quick Messaging Apps 'Group Text+' and 'Email+'

Launch Center Pro developer Contrast today launched Group Text+ and Email+, two apps for quickly creating messages and emails by using shortcuts for adding contacts, groups, images, and more. Both apps work similarly to Launch Center Pro, with Contrast touting a "simplified" and "refined" interface for easily composing messages with shortcuts.


For example, a Group Text+ user can quickly send an iMessage or SMS message sharing a location by tapping a few contacts, tapping a shortcut to add the location, and tapping a camera shortcut to take a photo of the location. Users can also send animated GIFs or copied text from the clipboard without having to manually input content, and shortcuts work in the exact same way for Email+. Group Text+ and Email+ also include their own iOS 8 Share sheet extensions, as users can easily compose a new message in other apps like Safari to easily access information.

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Group Text+ is available at a special price of $1.99 to commemorate its launch for the iPhone and iPad. [Direct Link]

Email+ is available for $2.99 and can be downloaded for the iPhone and iPad. [Direct Link]