Apple will soon be able to offer display repairs on the iPhone 5s directly within its retail stores, alleviating the need to send the devices to an off-site repair center. As noted by 9to5Mac, Apple Stores are currently accepting large deliveries of iPhone 5s screens for the repair program and in-store repairs are set to begin on Monday, August 4.
The in-store repairs are part of an effort to lower repair costs. Apple first began offering in-store phone repairs for the iPhone 5 back in June of 2013, and expanded to iPhone 5c repairs in January of this year.
Users with a cracked or damaged iPhone 5s display that do not have AppleCare+ now have the option to pay a $149 fee to get the screen repaired right at an Apple retail location. Prior to establishing an in-store repair center, users were forced to pay $229 for a replacement screen as Apple had to send damaged devices off-site.
With the ability to replace iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s screens, Apple can significantly cut down on repair costs and wait times. In a June 2013 employee meeting, Apple noted that its in-house repair policies could save the company as much as $1 billion per year.
Wednesday July 30, 2014 1:10 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Nomad, the company behind the pocket-sized NomadKey iPhone cable, today debuted the NomadPlus, a product that transforms an Apple charger into a portable battery pack.
While there are hundreds of different portable battery options for the iPhone, the NomadPlus is unique because it functions with an existing Apple charger. The NomadPlus plugs into an Apple wall charger, transforming it into a 1500 mAh portable battery with enough juice to recharge an iPhone to 70 percent.
One of the most cumbersome aspects of most battery packs is the recharging of the battery itself, but the NomadPlus allows the add-on battery to be charged as an iPhone charges via the wall charger, a simple solution that saves time and effort.
The NomadPlus is not much larger than an iPhone wall charger, measuring in at 2.75" x 1.33" x 1.10", and it weighs just 2.1 ounces. It supports pass-through charging, and will charge the iPhone before charging the battery itself.
While NomadPlus takes advantage of the Apple wall charger's superb design and engineering, its USB port can be used to power up any number of smartphone or tablet devices. Upcycling your wall plug with NomadPlus is the way to go when looking for a portable battery; it's a practical upgrade of something you already own.
Instagram today soft-launched its new Snapchat competitor Bolt in Singapore, South Africa, and New Zealand. First hinted at last week, Bolt is a one tap photo and video messaging app that allows users to send ephemeral images to friends, much like Snapchat.
As described by The Verge, Bolt is a "carbon copy" of Taptalk, another ephemeral messaging app. Users tap on a friend's profile photo to send a photo, or use a long tap to send a video. As with Taptalk, Bolt focuses on sharing with only a few friends -- users can only communicate with one person at a time, while in Snapchat mass snaps can be sent out.
Though designed by Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, Bolt is largely a standalone app. It does not require a Facebook log-in, instead letting users add contacts via phone number. As with Snapchat, users can caption images using a text editor.
According to an Instagram spokesperson, Bolt will be expanded to other regions in the near future after being tested in Singapore, New Zealand, and South Africa, three countries chosen for their geographical diversity and tight-knit communities.
Bolt is actually the second Snapchat competitor to launch this year under Facebook's umbrella. In June, the company launched Slingshot, a Snapchat clone with a twist -- after receiving a photo, users must send an image or video in return before being able to view content.
Users in New Zealand, South Africa, and Singapore can download Bolt from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]
Open source software group Open Whisper Systems today released a new encrypted phone app called Signal, which is designed to allow its users to make secure calls on the iPhone at no cost.
Using end-to-end encryption, Signal secures iPhone conversations so third-parties cannot listen in. Signal uses a caller's standard phone number to make and receive calls, and all Signal calls function like a normal phone call using WiFi or data connections.
According to a blog post on the Open Whisper Systems site, Signal uses ZRTP, a widely-used secure voice communication protocol and sends push notifications when phone calls are received to save battery life. It's open source software, which allows anyone to improve the code and contribute to app improvements.
Setting up Signal is simple, and users only need to enter a phone number and confirm it by entering a six-digit confirmation code (sent by SMS or phone call) to begin using the app. Contacts are automatically imported after a phone number is entered, but only contacts that have the Signal app will be listed. Placing a call to a user who does not have Signal installed will prompt users to send an invite via SMS.
When initiating a phone call using Signal, the two people communicating can be assured that their phone calls are secure through a pair of words shown on the screen of the caller and the person being called. The two exchange their on-screen words to verify that the words match, signaling that a secure connection has been implemented. Were someone listening into a phone call, the two words would not match up.
In an interview with Wired, Open Whisper Systems founder Moxie Marlinspike said the team's goal was to make secure phone calls as easy to place as regular phone calls. Encrypted text messages will also be added to the app in the future.
"We're trying to make private communications as available and accessible as any normal phone call," says Moxie Marlinspike, the hacker security researcher who founded the nonprofit software group. Later this summer, he adds, encrypted text messaging will be integrated into Signal, too, to create what he describes as a "single, unified app for free, easy, open source, private voice and text messaging."
Wired tested the app during the development phase and aside from a few early bugs, determined calls were "indistinguishable from any other phone call," and MacRumors had the same results when testing the app. Signal also works Open Whisper Systems' RedPhone app for Android, allowing both iOS and Android users to make secure calls with one another.
Amazon today updated its Kindle for iOS app to version 4.4, adding several features that have been requested by Amazon customers to make both sync and navigation within the app easier.
Books will now sync to the most recent page read across all Kindle devices and Kindle apps that are registered to a single Amazon account, making it easier for users to swap between various Kindle devices. A feature in the navigation menu continues to allow customers to manually sync to the furthest page read if desired.
Kindle Placeholders have also been implemented, letting customers jump to different areas of a book without losing their current reading spot, and it's also possible for students to export notes, highlights, and more from "Print Replica" textbooks.
Kindle for iOS has also gained Wikipedia Smart Lookup, letting readers select a word and get more information from Wikipedia
Kindle for iOS Version 4.4 provides several customer-requested features that make sync and navigation easier.
Sync to the most recent page read - Any books you are reading on Kindle for iOS will now sync to the most recent page read across all Kindle devices and/or reading apps registered to your Amazon account. Customers can still manually sync to the furthest page read from the left navigation menu.
Kindle Placeholders - Allow customers the freedom to explore other areas of the book without losing their current place. Jump directly to previous locations with "placeholders" on the progress bar.
Notes Export - Studying for the next exam or writing the next term paper just got easier. Students can now export notes, highlights, and more to e-mail from their "Print Replica" textbooks, giving students easy access to their information.
Wikipedia Smart Lookup - Select a word and learn more from Wikipedia in the Info Card at the bottom of the page.
Tuesday July 29, 2014 3:06 am PDT by Richard Padilla
Apple today expanded its AppleCare+ program to two new countries, bringing the program to cover iPhones and iPads in Mexico and Sweden.
In Mexico, AppleCare+ coverage for the iPhone and iPad are priced at 1,599 pesos. Meanwhile, AppleCare+ for the iPhone and iPad in Sweden are priced at 799 kronor.
Apple last expanded its AppleCare+ program in September 2013, raising service fees for accidental damage, adding iPods, and expanding avaliability to China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Austria, Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK.
Yelp today updated its iPhone app with the ability to shoot and upload 3 - 12 second videos, allowing users to show off their restaurant and local business experiences in yet another way.
They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, well now on iPhone you can take 3-12 second videos of your experiences at your favorite local businesses. So that's worth like... 30 frames per second multiplied by video length... (pulls out calculator)... between 90 and 360 thousand words! Whoa.
Previously, users could write reviews, post tips for potential customers and upload photos for users to get a better visual sense of food, location and more. With video, users can now show off a restaurant's customer service, live food reactions, noteworthy moments from city attractions and more.
Facebook is planning to motivate people to download and use its standalone Facebook Messenger app by removing messaging capabilities from the standard Facebook mobile app.
Currently, users can chat through the Messages tab located on the bottom toolbar in the main Facebook app, but that tab will soon redirect users to download the Messenger app instead. When installed, a message received in the Facebook app will switch the user over to Messenger to chat, as it does now when a user has both the Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps installed.
According to TechCrunch, Facebook is making the switch so that it does not have to support two versions of Messenger, thereby improving both apps. Facebook gave TechCrunch an official statement on the upcoming changes:
In the next few days, we're continuing to notify more people that if they want to send and receive Facebook messages, they'll need to download the Messenger app. As we've said, our goal is to focus development efforts on making Messenger the best mobile messaging experience possible and avoid the confusion of having separate Facebook mobile messaging experiences. Messenger is used by more than 200 million people every month, and we'll keep working to make it an even more engaging way to connect with people.
Facebook has already forced users in Europe to switch over to Facebook Messenger to send and accept messages.
Back in January, Apple removed popular Bitcoin app Blockchainfrom the App Store, after cracking down on several other apps that allowed users to send and receive bitcoin, including Coinbase and Gliph.
Apple's official policy prohibits content that "enables, facilitates, or encourages an activity" that not all countries deem legal, which has left Bitcoin-based apps in a bit of a gray area policy wise.
As of today, Blockchain has returned to the App Store, once again giving iOS users a way to send and receive bitcoin payments, reports bitcoin news site CoinDesk.
According to CoinDesk, Apple announced a more open policy towards bitcoin apps during its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, which has led to the return of bitcoin apps to the App Store. From Blockchain CEO Nicolas Cary:
The moment Apple signalled a shift in their policy toward digital currency apps, we pulled the iOS project off the shelf and got to work. We wanted to use this as an opportunity to improve the wallet, but we were still apprehensive about dedicating huge amounts of engineering time because it wasn't clear what types of apps would get through the submission and approval process.
Blockchain for iOS has been redesigned and built from the ground up to improve both security and performance. Along with giving users a way to send and exchange bitcoin, the new Blockchain app can also be used to make purchases from merchants that accept bitcoin, both in physical stores and online.
According to Blockchain's CEO, iOS is an important platform for the company and in the future, the app will be updated to include Android features like the Merchant Map.
Beats Music for iOS was today updated to version 2.2.0, adding several user-requested features. It's now possible for Beats listeners to change their Just For You recommendations through a new "Tune Your Taste" feature in Settings that allows users to select new favorite genres and artists.
Listeners are also able to track their most recently played songs from The Sentence feature, which lets users select songs based on mood and activity. Verified Badges have been added, with a red check mark signaling a profile is "certified as legit by Beats," and there have been quite a few bug fixes.
You asked for it, and we listened! In this latest release we've added:
- Tune Your Taste -- Want to switch up your Just For You recommendations? Change your favorite genres and artists with the Tune Your Taste feature in Settings
- Sentence History -- View your most recently played songs from The Sentence
- Verified Badges -- That red check mark means the profile is certified as legit by Beats
- Player Improvements -- We fixed a ton of bugs to make playback more smooth and reliable
...and much, much more!
Beats Music is set to be acquired by Apple in the next month or two, as soon as the $3 billion deal, first announced in May, gains regulatory approval in the U.S. and is finalized.
Apple has said that Beats will remain a standalone music service, which means the app will continue to be available on iOS, Android, and Windows devices.
Monday July 28, 2014 6:31 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
Reports from within Apple's Asian supply chain (via GforGames) again suggest the company is planning to launch the 4.7-inch iPhone separately from the 5.5-inch model, with the latter model entering mass production in September. This staggered launch would allow Apple to debut the highly-anticipated 4.7-inch iPhone 6 early this fall and then follow with the iWatch and the larger iPhone model later this year.
The report claims a December launch for both the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 and iWatch, which would be unusual timing for Apple given the holiday shopping season. The company generally prefers to launch its consumer-focused products before Black Friday kicks off holiday shopping in late November. But if supply constraints are an issue, it is possible Apple might choose to make a limited launch of the devices before the end of the year to get them onto shoppers' radars.
Apple is rumored to be planning its first press event in September, which will be used to unveil the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 along with the official release date of iOS 8. Apple may hold a second event in October to announce the next generation iPads, OS X Yosemite and possibly the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 and the iWatch. Though announced in October, the latest report claims larger iPhone and iWatch may not hit retail shelves until December of this year.
Besides a larger display, the iPhone 6 is expected to include a faster A8 processor, an updated Touch ID fingerprint scanner and an improved camera module with some form of image stabilization technology.
Sunday July 27, 2014 5:40 pm PDT by Richard Padilla
Apple Retail Stores will soon allow customers to purchase an iPhone through U.S. carrier early upgrade programs including AT&T Next, Verizon Edge, and T-Mobile Jump, reports 9to5Mac. Apple is aiming to implement the new initiative right before the launch of the iPhone 6 this fall, as both Genius Bar workers and store employees will receive training on the program from Sunday, August 10 to Thursday, August 28.
Currently, Apple Store customers are only limited to purchasing an iPhone through a regular two-year contract at subsidized pricing or unlocked at full-price. All three early upgrade programs allow customers to upgrade their phones more frequently as the complete cost of a device is split into monthly payments which are rolled into the standard bill each month. Verizon and T-Mobile allow customers to upgrade their phones twice every year after six months of payments, while AT&T customers can upgrade once every 12 months after a year of payments.
The move also comes after Apple Stores began allowing customers to add pre-paid or month-to-month plans when purchasing full-priced, unlocked iPhones in June. Apple CEO Tim Cook noted last year that 80 percent of iPhones are sold at third-party locations while 20 percent are sold by Apple, adding that it was a figure he would like to improve. Apple has launched a number of other programs in its retail store to boost in-store sales, which included an event this past May encouraging iPhone 4 and 4s owners to update to a newer device.
Following a report by Droid Life yesterday, Verizon has now confirmed to Gigaom that starting October 1 the carrier will begin spot throttling of certain high-usage customers connecting to carrier's LTE network. The policy affects users on grandfathered unlimited data plans that are no longer offered and who rank in the top five percent of data users at Verizon.
While Verizon has had a similar policy in place for its 3G network for several years, the extension of it to the LTE network that now handles 76 percent of the carrier's data traffic will be noticeable for a number of users.
On October 1, Verizon will start throttling back LTE speeds on its heaviest unlimited-plan subscribers when they move into congested cells on its networks. What that means is that when the network gets crowded, Verizon will prioritize 4G customers who buy their data by the gigabyte over unlimited plan customers who fall into the top fifth percentile of monthly data usage.
As of today, the top five percent consists of customers who use 4.7GB or more of data each month, though that number will fluctuate month-to-month as traffic patterns change.
Rather than blanket throttling of users speeds when they hit certain thresholds, Verizon will be weighing demand on individual cell sites and assigning these unlimited users lower priority and thus slower speeds than other customers during periods of high demand.
Verizon said that its new policy will only apply to customers who have fulfilled their contract terms (so if you renewed your data plan under contract in the last two years, you’re safe). The policy remains in effect for a subscriber for the entirety of a billing period. If you’re still in the top 5 percentile of users at the end of that month, then the throttling policy continues for another billing period. But if you’re not, then all restrictions are lifted – at least until your next bill.
With the explosion in smartphone usage in recent years, carriers have been turning to throttling to help manage demand on their networks. The policies are also being used to encourage users to move away from the unlimited data plans that were popular in the early smartphone days but which have been phased out by carriers in a shift to tiered data plans in which the amount users pay is tied to their data usage.
Friday July 25, 2014 12:30 am PDT by Richard Padilla
Hello Inc's new Kickstarter projectSense is an iOS-compatible sleep tracking system that allows users to monitor their sleep patterns and bedroom environments without the need for intrusive hardware.
The primary Sense device is a glow-in-the-dark polycarbonate orb that derives data from factors such as noise, light, temperature, humidity, and air particles to measure sleep quality. Sense also comes with the Sleep Pill, which is a small sensor that clips onto a pillow to track movement with a 6-axis accelerometer and gyroscope.
Sense works with its own companion app for iOS to provide users a snapshot of their last night's sleep, offering an overall sleep score in addition a timeline of events throughout the night that triggered movement. The app can even play back noises that were captured by Sense, allowing users to listen to sound disturbances that may have led to an interruption in sleep.
The app also includes a Smart Alarm feature, which works with the Sense monitor and Sleep Pill to wake a user up at the right time. For instance, if a user begins to move more frequently after an extended period of rest, the app's Smart Alarm will sound off in sync with a sleep rhythm. Sense also includes a number of pre-made sounds and alarms to aide the sleeping experience.
The Sense sleep monitor and Sleep Pill can be preordered for a special price of $99 on Kickstarter, with regular pre-orders costing $129 afterward. The first Sense monitors and Sleep Pills are expected to begin shipping in November 2014.
Thursday July 24, 2014 11:53 am PDT by Juli Clover
Google today updated its Gmail for iOS app to version 3.14159, adding improved integration with its Google Drive storage solution.
It's now possible to save email attachments directly to Google Drive, making them accessible everywhere and saving storage space. Users are also able to insert Google Drive files directly into messages. Google has also included new account management options and the ability to change a profile picture in the Settings menu.
- Save attachments directly to Google Drive so you can access them anywhere while saving space and bandwidth on your device
- Insert Google Drive files directly into messages
- New account management options to choose which accounts you want to have visible in Gmail without removing accounts from your device.
- Change your profile picture (in Settings)
Gmail is a universal app that can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]
Thursday July 24, 2014 10:44 am PDT by Juli Clover
Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel covered Apple's upcoming smart watch on last night's show, airing a humorous segment that featured the team showing pedestrians on Hollywood Boulevard a $20 Casio watch with an Apple sticker on the back.
The people were told the cheap watch was Apple's new smart watch and predictably, Kimmel's team received some hilarious reactions. "It's very lightweight and it's kind of like old school, but still in style, you know?" said one woman, and a man complimented its rubber wrist band and the big numbers, which are "easy to see."
Featured interviewees were all impressed with the watch's ability to show the time and the date, and several noted that they were willing to purchase anything Apple made. "I just like that it has an Apple insignia on the back," said one commenter. "If it's Apple it's good, right?" said another.
Kimmel also had some quips to share about the upcoming larger-screened iPhone 6, claiming Apple was introducing the larger device so it could debut a smaller "iPhone mini" in the future. "They make the bigger phones, and then in two years they'll release the iPhone mini, which is the size of the phones we have now," he joked. "And we'll wait in line for like three days for it because that's how we are."
While several high-profile smart deadbolt systems such as Lockitron and August have experienced significant delays, Kwikset has been shipping its Kevo Bluetooth deadbolt for some time now, and today the system is receiving a software update to provide new access options for users.
Similar in appearance to other electronic deadbolt locks with a relatively large housing on the inside of the door, the Kevo system allows users to lock and unlock their deadbolts with a simple touch, relying on a Kevo iPhone app or physical fob to determine whether access should be granted. After a simple set-up process, the Kevo deadbolt can determine relative positioning of the device or fob, only granting touch access when the user is outside the door. A standard key can also be used to operate the deadbolt.
Much of today's upgrade centers around the system's eKeys that allow users to unlock the door using the Kevo smartphone app. The new features include free and unlimited Guest eKeys that can be sent to guests to allow access for 24 hours, as well as a new Scheduled eKey type that allows to restrict the days and times a standard eKey is valid.
From giving a neighbor day-long access to keep an eye on your kids, or letting in a weekend guest who beats you home from a busy day at work, the Guest eKey provides ultimate convenience and flexibility.
The new Scheduled eKey enhances home access control by allowing users to set day and time constraints right from their phones. Ideal for house cleaners, dog walkers, nannies or others that need regular access at pre-determined times, like on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-3 p.m. Kevo owners can schedule these eKeys to be active prior to sending, so they don’t have to remember to grant or revoke access to these users in real time.
Guest eKey management (left) and Scheduled eKey setup (right)
Kevo comes with two free Anytime or Scheduled eKeys, and additional ones can be purchased in-app for $1.99 each. The new Guest eKeys are available free of charge without limits.
Kevo is available from Apple, Amazon, and other retailers for approximately $220. The updated Kevo app for iPhone is available now through the App Store [Direct Link], and the app also facilitates a firmware update for the lock itself.
Wednesday July 23, 2014 11:53 am PDT by Juli Clover
Our forum members are building a comprehensive list of all the apps that function in iOS 8 beta 4, which may be helpful for users who have installed the beta or who plan to install it. The list also includes apps that are known to be broken and apps that work but have specific issues.
Notable apps that fully work with the beta include 1Password, Dropbox, Deliveries, Google Chrome, Instagram, Pandora, Rdio, Vine, and Fantastical 2 for iPad and iPhone. Other apps, like Facebook and Snapchat work as well, but have some issues with videos.
Popular apps that do not work with the beta at this point in time include Adobe Photoshop Touch, Camera+, Evernote, Google Docs/Drive, Infinity Blade 1-3, LastPass, Whatsapp, and YouTube.
It is not unusual for apps to malfunction with the introduction of new beta software, as developers often need to make multiple tweaks to accommodate new APIs and protocols. Apple's extended beta testing periods are designed to give developers the time they need to get their apps working with the new operating system before it is released to the public.
The forum post that lists all of the working apps is a Wiki post editable by users who have made more than 25 posts on MacRumors, so iOS 8 users who know of other functional/broken apps in the beta are encouraged to contribute.
Wednesday July 23, 2014 11:30 am PDT by Juli Clover
Fantastical 2 for the iPhone and the iPad were today updated to version 2.1, adding several new features to both mobile apps including a new Snooze feature, event invitation notifications, birthday notifications, and more.
The biggest new feature, Snooze, allows users push back notification times for calendar events or reminders using either preset times or custom set durations, a useful function when a notification pops up and needs to be paused until a later time.
Along with Snooze, the 2.1 update adds notifications for upcoming birthdays and event invitations, plus it's possible to search for and add contacts and locations when creating new events. There are also new keyboard shortcuts enabled when using an external keyboard and several little tweaks have been added, such as improved calendar colors for the week view and an improved appearance for events that span multiple days. A complete list of changes can be found below:
- Snooze! Open a Fantastical event or reminder notification to see snooze options
- Search and add contacts or locations when creating a new event (tap the arrow in the location field)
- New event invitation notifications and app icon badge option
- Upcoming birthday notifications
- Setting to hide the event details location map
- Event preview when duplicating and moving items
- Keyboard shortcuts when using an external keyboard (open Settings > Help > Tips and Tricks for more info)
- Improved calendar colors in the week view
- Improved appearance for timed events that span multiple days in the week view
- Various fixes and improvements
To celebrate its 2.1 update, the Fantastical apps have been significantly discounted, dropping prices by up to 50 percent.
Wednesday July 23, 2014 7:02 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
As hinted at in an earlier report from Nikkei, Sony today confirmed it is investing 35 billion yen ($345 million) to increase the production of image sensors for smartphones and tablets, reports Reuters.
The electronics firm will use the 35 billion yen to boost production of stacked CMOS sensors at two factories in Kyushu, Japan as well as complete work at a factory it recently purchased from Japanese chipmaker Renesas Electronics. This investment will increase manufacturing by 13 percent, allowing Sony to produce up to 68,000 wafers a month by August 2015.
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