iOS 8.1.3 Fixes Exploits Used by TaiG Jailbreak

It appears that today's iOS 8.1.3 update fixes many of the exploits that were used for the iOS 8 TaiG jailbreak, which worked up until iOS 8.1.2. The earlier Pangu jailbreak was disabled with the iOS 8.1.1 update that was released on November 17.

TaiG has not yet confirmed whether iOS 8.1.3 breaks its jailbreak tool, but reports on the MacRumors forums and on Twitter suggest that is indeed the case. Apple's support document detailing the security fixes in iOS 8.1.3 credits the TaiG jailbreak team for finding four now-patched vulnerabilities in the operating system.

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At the current time, Apple is still signing iOS 8.1.2 so it's possible to downgrade from iOS 8.1.3 back to iOS 8.1.2 or upgrade to iOS 8.1.2 from an earlier version of iOS, but that could end at any time.

Released this morning, iOS 8.1.3 includes a range of bug fixes including a repair for a lingering Wi-Fi issue, and it also reduces the amount of storage space required to perform an iOS update.

Tim Cook: Apple Has Sold More Than 1 Billion iOS Devices

Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed on Tuesday during the company's quarterly earnings call that it has sold more than 1 billion iOS devices to date since launching the original iPhone over seven years ago. According to Cook, the impressive milestone, which accounts for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, was reached in November and was helped along by a record-breaking 74.5 million iPhones sold in Q1 2015. The milestone device was kept by Apple and is at the company's Cupertino headquarters.

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Cook emphasized that iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus demand was stronger than any other iPhone it has ever released, selling at a pace of roughly 34,000 devices per hour. The success of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus was aided by the widest international rollout of an iOS device to date, with the smartphone launching in more places than ever before and in a total of 130 countries.


Apple Pay Responsible for Two of Every Three Contactless Payments on Visa, MasterCard, and American Express

Since its introduction in October, Apple Pay has accounted for two of every three dollars spent through contactless payments on Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook who shared the information during the company's earnings call for the first fiscal quarter of 2015.

"Apple Pay is off to a very strong start," said Cook, adding that he expects 2015 to be "the year of Apple Pay." About 750 banks and credit unions have signed on to accept Apple Pay, and according to numbers shared by Cook, Apple Pay was responsible for 80 percent of mobile payments at Panera Bread, and at Whole Foods, mobile payments increased by 400 percent.

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Earlier information has also pointed to Apple Pay's success. Apple Pay had more than 1 million card activations during the first 72 hours Apple Pay was available, and in November, Apple Pay captured a total of 1 percent of all digital payment dollars.

Thus far, Apple Pay has proven to be most popular at Whole Foods, with the speciality grocery store responsible for 20 percent of all Apple Pay transactions and 28 percent of all Apple Pay spending. Walgreens and McDonald's were also popular with Apple Pay users.

Apple Pay is still in its infancy, limited to the United States. In the coming months, Apple plans to expand to several other locations across Europe, Canada, and Asia. In the United States, Apple Pay now supports cards representing 90 percent of U.S. credit card purchase volume.

Related roundup: Apple Pay

'Pushbullet' Brings Notification Syncing and Easy File Transfers to iOS, Mac, and Safari

Pushbullet has long been one of the more popular third-party solutions for keeping notifications, links, photos and other files in sync between a smartphone or tablet and computer, although one important feature it has lacked until now is support for Apple devices. The wait is over, however, as Pushbullet announced today the availability of full iPhone, iPad and Mac support alongside a new Safari extension.

Pushbullet is the marriage of AirDrop, Notifyr and other features in one single package. First and foremost, the software enables iOS notifications to be pushed to Mac and dismissed remotely from Notification Center on iPhone. The app also has drag-and-drop functionality for sharing photos between devices and the ability to copy and paste links from Mac to iPhone using the newly available Safari extension.


The app utilizes Bluetooth LE to allow iOS notifications to be seen, acted on and dismissed from a Mac, with customizable per-app settings to fine-tune the experience to your liking. Pushbullet is now officially a cross-platform too as well, meaning that you can view your Android notifications right on your Mac desktop without taking your smartphone out of your pocket. Likewise, you can copy and paste links to your Android device using the Safari extension.

Pushbullet iPhone App
Pushbullet developer Ryan Olzenburg claims that iOS notifications cannot be pushed to Windows yet, but says to stay tuned for further updates. Pushbullet for iOS [Direct Link], Pushbullet for Mac [Direct Link] and the Safari extension are all free to download. If you use a different browser, extensions are available for Chrome, Firefox and Opera as well. We'll be going hands-on with Pushbullet soon.

How to Watch Super Bowl XLIX on Your iPad or Computer

Super Bowl XLIX is airing this Sunday, with the New England Patriots facing off against the Seattle Seahawks. If you don't have a cable subscription, you might be worried about missing the game -- but rest easy, there are several ways to watch if you have an iPad, computer, or Verizon iPhone.

We've outlined all of the ways you can catch the Super Bowl in the video below, and we've also got a walkthrough complete with links in this post.


iPad and iPod touch


NBC is running a promotion called "Super Stream Sunday" that will let all U.S.-based users watch 11 continuous hours of NBC content through the NBC Sports Live Extra app on the iPad or iPod touch.

The app normally requires a cable subscription and authentication to log in, but beginning at noon Eastern Time on February 1, the login requirements will be eliminated. NBC's Super Stream Sunday will include the full game, the halftime show with Katy Perry, and pre- and post-game shows.

Apple TV users can use AirPlay mirroring to watch content from their iPads on their televisions.

The NBC Sports Live Extra app can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Mac/PC


Super Stream Sunday also extends to Macs and PCs, which can be used to watch the Super Bowl by visiting the NBCSports.com website. As with the app, streaming content from the NBC website will include the game itself, plus all of the add-ons.

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Mac users can use AirPlay with an Apple TV to stream content to their television sets.

iPhone


NBC does not have the rights to stream Super Bowl content to iPhone users, so the NBC Sports Live Extra app will not work for streaming the game on the iPhone. Verizon has an exclusive content deal with the NFL, which means that if you don't have a Verizon phone, you'll need to find an alternate way to watch the Super Bowl.

If you are a Verizon subscriber with a MORE Everything plan, you can stream the Super Bowl on your iPhone through the Verizon NFL Mobile app.

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

International


If you're not in the United States but want to watch Super Bowl XLIX, you can purchase an NFL Game Pass that gives access to a live stream of the Super Bowl for $9.99. NFL Game Pass lets you stream NFL games on your computer or iPad.

'Alfred Remote' Turns iOS Devices Into Remote Controls for Macs

Running with Crayons today announced Alfred Remote, an iOS app that turns an iPhone or iPad into a remote control for various tasks on a user's Mac, from controlling a screensaver to launching apps (via The Verge).

Designed with parity of the Alfred app on the Mac App Store in mind, Alfred for iOS also allows users to expand into systemwide interactions with their desktop computers. Users with a Powerpack addition to their Alfred 2 experience, which costs about $25, can then use the Remote to control Powerpack-exclusive features via iOS.

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These include iTunes playback, copying and pasting from iOS to OS X, running user-defined scripts, AppleScripts, and terminal commands, and creating and controlling custom Workflows for enhanced productivity. Normal features like opening websites and setting a screensaver are available to all users.
With a single touch on your iOS device, you can control many Alfred 2 actions on your Mac, including:
- Show Alfred 2 on your Mac
- System Commands: Lock, restart, shut down, log out or sleep your Mac, eject all devices, quit all apps and empty trash
- Launch Applications and System Preferences on your Mac
- Open files and folders you've defined on your Mac
- Open websites and bookmarks, or pop up Alfred with a custom search filled in
- Replace hard to remember hotkey combinations and keywords with icons on iOS
To be able to fully use the features of each app, users will need both Alfred 2 for Mac and Alfred Remote for iOS, and have both of them running on the same Wi-Fi connection.

Alfred Remote can be purchased from the App Store for $4.99. [Direct Link]

Alfred 2 for Mac is a free download, with an option to upgrade with the Powerpack options.

Lockitron Introduces New $99 App-Enabled Smart Deadbolt Lock 'Bolt'

Lockitron today announced a new product in its lineup of smart keyless home locking system devices, the $99 Bolt. Lockitron previously entered the market a few years back with the somewhat rocky launch of an earlier smartphone-enabled deadbolt lock, and the company is now shifting gears to focus on Bolt.

The basics of the device allow users with the free-to-download app to unlock and lock their home deadbolts via Bluetooth Low Energy, meaning a user must be near the lock to interact with it, but the lock will keep working in event of a power outage.

As reported by TechCrunch, Lockitron co-founder Cameron Robertson assures customers the company has learned a lot from the problems faced with its last product. The team simplified component costs by sourcing high quality parts elsewhere, and subsequently got both the lock's price and size reduced.

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Bolt is smaller, more elegant and more robust than the crowdfunded Lockitron. It has a better battery life, more fault tolerant embedded architecture and includes Lockitron’s most popular features like sharing access, activity logging and Sense. Most importantly, however, Lockitron Bolt has been designed with mass manufacturing in mind from day one.
The Bolt also features sharing access to other smartphone users, activity logging to track when someone interacted with the lock, and "Sense," which either automatically unlocks the Bolt when you walk up to the door, or prompts the user with an easy-to-confirm notification. Lockitron will also sell the Bolt Bridge, which connects the Bolt to the internet and acts as a middle man to send a Bluetooth signal via a user's phone to the Bolt itself, meaning customers could unlock the deadbolt for someone else while away from home.

The new device replaces a deadbolt on a user's door altogether, versus the original's attempt at universality in fitting over an existing deadbolt. While the company's aims were admirable, many users found difficulty in setting up and properly using the slotted-on device. Lockitron decided to look to learning thermostat Nest as an example of a product that requires a signifcant amount of setup but leaves its users with a far more agreeable experience upon completion.
“Basically, as long as we could break the setup down into 20 tiny, doable steps, it didn’t really matter that it required removing the old deadbolt,” Robertson told TechCrunch last week.
The Lockitron Bolt can be pre-ordered from the company's official website. A Preview Edition, with a limit of 1,000 units, will begin shipping in March. A final consumer-ready edition is slated for "late Spring" and will arrive in a variety of finishes to match a user's door.

Apple TV Updated with Sports Illustrated's New 120 SPORTS Channel

Apple has updated the Apple TV today with a new channel for Sports Illustrated's 120 SPORTS network. 120 SPORTS was launched last year on iPhone, iPad and other platforms as a streaming platform for major sports leagues, including the MLB, NHL, NBA, PGA TOUR, Nascar and leading college divisions. The digital-only network offers 76 hours of live content and more than 1,200 on-demand video clips each week.

120 Sports Apple TV
The 120 SPORTS channel provides sports fans with a collection of recent in-game highlights and other video content through the built-in Catch-Up and Timeline modes. Catch-Up provides a curated stream of the latest videos pertaining to trending sports topics, while Timeline allows users to watch the live 120 SPORTS stream and videos in reverse chronological order.
“With this latest launch, we are happy to provide our fans with a new platform to experience 120 Sports,” said 120 Sports president Jason Coyle. “We will continue to explore even more ways to deliver up-to-the-minute sports news to our current fans and new audiences, when and where they want it.”
MacRumors can confirm that 120 SPORTS was added to the third-generation Apple TV, although the channel has yet to appear on the second-generation set-top box.

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The new channel arrives just a few weeks after the Apple TV was refreshed with Tennis Channel Everywhere, providing access to live court streaming and other on-demand coverage. Australian viewers were also treated to a new channel for Cricket.com.au earlier this month. Apple TV's existing sports channels include WatchESPN, MLB.TV Premium, NFL Now, NHL GameCenter, MLS Live, WWE Network, Red Bull TV, Willow and UFC.TV.

Related roundup: Apple TV

Twitter Updating iOS App With Group Messaging and New Video Features

Following a soft update that added a recap feature for top tweets last week, Twitter today announced a substantial feature update to its iOS and Android mobile apps that includes two new additions to the service: group messaging and "a new mobile video experience."

Similar to the Direct Message feature, Group Messages will allow multiple users to converse privately amongst one another in a group chat room. Most notably, however, users won't need to already follow one another to be able to begin and engage in a Group Message conversation.

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Private conversations on Twitter are a great complement to the largely public experience on the platform. You might prefer to read (or watch) Tweets but converse about them privately. You might want to continue a public conversation privately with a smaller group, or start one based on a Tweet you saw. Many of you use Direct Messages to reach the people and brands you’re only connected to on Twitter. Whatever the case may be, the ability to converse privately with groups gives you more options for how and with whom you communicate on Twitter.
The new video camera allows Twitter users to capture up to thirty seconds of footage and edit it in-app, with the ability to post videos as both tweets and into Group or Direct Messages. iOS owners will be able to upload a video from their camera roll, a feature which will roll out soon to Android users.

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Twitter noted the features will be rolling out to all users in the coming days, but until available to a wide audience, users will be able to interact in Group Messages started by someone else and watch videos posted by others, as well.

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

Western Union Now Accepting Apple Pay in United States

American payment services company Western Union announced on Tuesday that it now accepts Apple Pay as a way for customers to make money transfers and bill payments in the United States. iPhone users will be able to make NFC-based payments using their smartphones at Western Union's flagship locations and at kiosks in over 7,600 Walgreens and Duane Reade locations nationwide.

Apple Pay support was launched at Western Union's iconic 1440 Broadway store in New York City and will be rolled out to other agent locations in the near future. The company operates over 65,000 agent locations across the United States, Canada and Mexico, processing over 242 million consumer-to-consumer transactions and moving over $82 billion in principal between customers in 2013.

Apple Pay Western Union
“Our customers have an expectation of using mobile technology to make money transfer service and product accessibility easier. Western Union is rising to the occasion as we harness our system with modifications to link cash and digital transfers between retail locations, mobile phones, prepaid cards, online and traditional bank accounts and ATMs,” said David Thompson, Executive Vice President, Global Operations and Technology and Chief Information Officer.
USA Technologies, a provider of mobile payment technologies for small-ticket, self-serve retailing industries, also announced today that it is rolling out Apple Pay support in the United States. The move makes Apple Pay available at over 200,000 acceptance points that rely on the company's payment solutions, such as coffee shops, vending machines, kiosks, laundry equipment, parking pay stations and other self-serve appliances.

Related roundup: Apple Pay

Foxconn to Cut Workforce as Apple Expected to Announce Record-Breaking iPhone Sales [Updated]

Foxconn Technology Group, Apple's main assembly partner for iPhones, today announced (via Reuters) major plans to reduce its workforce due to "declining revenue growth and rising wages in China." The announcement comes mere hours before Apple's financial earnings announcement for the first fiscal quarter of 2015, in which the company is expected to announce record iPhone sales.

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The company doubled its labor costs in recent years following a few public scandals involving worker suicides and poor working conditions, while revenue growth has slowed. After a decade of steady increases following the explosion of popularity for smartphones and tablet devices, mostly thanks to the manufacturing of Apple products, Foxconn hasn't faced the issue of diminishing returns until now.
"We've basically stabilized (our workforce) in the last three years," Woo said. When asked if the company plans to reduce overall headcount, he responded "yes".

Revenue growth at the conglomerate tumbled to 1.3 percent in 2013 and only partially recovered to 6.5 percent last year after a long string of double-digit increases from 2003 to 2012.
Today's news comes on the heels of reports indicating Apple likely sold more iPhones in China than the U.S. in the last quarter, and expectations the iPhone will have record sales coming off the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Foxconn's job cuts have not been specifically tied to its Apple business, but Apple is a major customer and hiring patterns do generally follow the iPhone product cycle, which should begin to slow a bit follow the rush of customers upgrading to the new models in the early months of availability. Foxconn is also reported to be increasing investments in Apple-related areas, including building a $2.6 billion display plant and perhaps working on sapphire displays for Apple products.

Update 7:48 AM: Foxconn has issued a statement calling the claims of workforce reductions "completely inaccurate", but noting it will slow its hiring in the coming years as it increases automation.
Foxconn wishes to clarify that a media report that alleges that our company is reducing its workforce is completely inaccurate and totally without foundation. We continue to recruit employees to support our business and operations globally and we continue to maintain a workforce of over one million employees worldwide. As we have long said, Foxconn is investing in the automation of many of the manufacturing tasks associated with our operations, applying robotic engineering and other innovative manufacturing technologies to enable our employees to focus on high value-added elements in the manufacturing process. As we continue to increase the application of automation in our operations, the magnitude of our employee recruitment is expected to decrease in the years ahead, but we have no plans to reduce our workforce numbers now or anytime in the future. In addition, our company is confident that we will continue to achieve sustained business growth in the years to come.

'Bowling Central' Expands Wii-Style Gaming on Apple TV

Back in 2013, Rolocule debuted Motion Tennis, an iPhone game that brought Wii-style gaming to the Apple TV via AirPlay. Using AirPlay Mirroring, users could display the game on an Apple TV while using an iPhone as a tennis racket. The setup drew natural comparisons to Nintendo's Wii Sports, with the iPhone playing the role of the Wii Remote.

Motion Tennis wasn't perfect, as it did suffer from minor lag and there were naturally concerns about users accidentally throwing their iPhones across the room or into their televisions, but it did serve as an interesting glimpse of both the potential of AirPlay and the possibilities for Apple TV gaming.

Rolocule is now back with an addition to its sports-themed Apple TV games, earlier this month debuting Bowling Central. The game itself is fairly simple, allowing users to bowl a classic game of 3, 6, or 10 frames, or take on a challenge mode that currently offers 30 stages with various stationary and/or moving blockers in the way of the pins.

Bowling Central is by no means the first bowling game for iOS, nor even necessarily the best or most realistic, but once again the selling point is Apple TV compatibility via AirPlay. When in AirPlay mode, the user can wave his or her iPhone side to side to set the release point and then swing the device to bowl the ball, even imparting spin depending on the trajectory of the swing.


In our testing, we found very little lag when playing via Apple TV, an important factor considering the need to accurately time throws in challenge mode. Throws also felt natural with the iPhone after a bit of practice that involved getting used to keeping a thumb on the screen during the throw rather than releasing as on Wii Sports. Rolocule co-founder Anuj Tandon notes the controls were specifically designed to keep the thumb in place during throws in order to maintain better control of the device and minimize the chances of accidentally throwing it.

We did experience some crashing problems when AirPlaying to a second-generation Apple TV, although these appear to be due more to AirPlay issues on the older set-top box than an app problem. No such issues were seen with a third-generation Apple TV.

Overall, Bowling Central is a fairly straightforward bowling game with limited gameplay options so far. For example, there is no live multiplayer option and the 30 challenge levels can be completed rather quickly, although it can take a bit longer to achieve "three-pin" ratings on each.

More challenge levels appear to be in the works, however, and the Apple TV compatibility is what makes Bowling Central an interesting concept as party entertainment. With Apple yet to allow games or any sort of App Store for the Apple TV, Rolocule's AirPlay implementation gives a nice impression of the potential for the set-top box should Apple ultimately decide to open it up to third-party developers.

Bowling Central is available now in the App Store for $2.99. [Direct Link]