T-Mobile Expands Simple Global Coverage to All of Europe and South America

T-Mobile has announced the expansion of its Simple Global coverage to an additional 20 countries to now cover all of Europe and South America. Simple Global is now available in the Bahamas and 145 total countries worldwide, covering more than 90% of the areas that Americans travel abroad each year.

Simple Global provides Simple Choice postpaid customers with unlimited low-speed data and texting at no extra cost, and flat-rate calls for 20 cents per minute, outside of the United States. It is complemented by Mobile Without Borders, which allows full talk, text and 4G LTE data usage in Canada and Mexico at no extra cost.

“We’ve just made your traveling even easier in 20 more destinations around the world, expanding Simple Global to cover all of Europe and all of South America,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “The carriers have made billions overcharging consumers who just want to stay connected overseas, and we’ve changed all that! Today, we made it even simpler to text, search or keep up on social media in a total of 145 countries and destinations, all at no extra cost!”

Simple Global is now available in the following countries and destinations:
Caribbean: Bahamas, Haiti
Europe: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Monaco, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Guernsey, Alderney, Jersey, Sark, Isle of Man
Others: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, KyrgyzstanSimple Global provides a standard data speed of 128 Kbps. No tethering is allowed.

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Apple Pay Now Supports Citizens Bank, E-Trade Bank and Over 40 Other U.S. Issuers

Apple updated its Apple Pay participating issuers list today with 46 additional banks, credit unions and financial institutions supporting the contactless payment service in the United States. Apple Pay now has over 500 participating issuers nationwide, and several more plan to support the NFC-based mobile payment service in the future.

Citizens Bank and E-TRADE Bank highlight the complete list of Apple Pay participating issuers, although it’s worth noting that some smaller banks, credit unions and financial institutions listed may have already had support for the contactless payments service and are only now being reflected on Apple’s website.

The full list of new Apple Pay participating issuers:
Amplify Federal Credit Union
Bank of the Ozarks
Branch Banking & Trust
Bridgehampton National Bank
Capital Educators Federal Credit Union
Centra Credit Union
Charlotte Metro Credit Union
Citizens Bank
Coastal Federal Credit Union
Credit Union 1
„Dollar Bank, FSB“
Eglin FCU
First Community Bank
First Community Credit Union (OR)
First Florida Credit Union
First National Bank of Waseca
Floridian Bank
Georgia United Credit Union
Johns Hopkins Federal Credit Union
Kennebunk Savings Bank
Kirtland Federal Credit Union
Leaders Credit Union
Maine Savings Federal Credit Union
McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union
Merchants Bank
MIT Federal Credit Union
National Penn Bank
Navigant Credit Union
Nodaway Valley Bank
OU Federal Credit Union
Pacific NW Federal Credit Union
Power Financial Credit Union
Seaboard Federal Credit Union
SECU of Maryland
Southern Security FCU
Southwest Financial Federal Credit Union
Sterling Federal Bank
The Cape Cod Five Cent Saving Bank
The Focus Federal Credit Union
Trupoint Bank
UBI Federal Credit Union
Vinton County National Bank
Watertown Savings Bank
Xceed Financial Federal Credit Union

Apple Pay remains limited to the United States and United Kingdom, although Apple is committed to an international rollout of the mobile payments service in additional countries such as Canada and China in the future. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Apple is planning a November launch of Apple Pay in Canada.

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Apple Maps Vehicles Begin Surveying England, Coming to New Orleans Next Month

Apple’s fleet of vehicles collecting street-level mapping data has arrived in the United Kingdom as planned, with the first verified sighting in Solihull, England, approximately two hours northwest of London. While camera-equipped fifth-generation Dodge Caravans have been used to collect mapping data in the United States, Apple appears to be using second-generation Mercedes-Benz Vito vans in Europe.

Apple Maps van driving in Solihull, England in June 2015
Apple confirmed earlier this month that it is driving vehicles around the world to collect data to improve Apple Maps, and the mapping imagery is almost certainly being used to create a Google Maps „Street View“ competitor. Apple Maps vehicles are also taking photos of businesses and storefronts in major metropolitan areas to replace current imagery provided by third-party sources such as Yelp.

The cities and regions where Apple Maps vehicles will be driving in England through July:

East of England
Essex (Brentwood, Epping Forest), Hertfordshire (Broxbourne, Dacorum, Hertsmere, St Albans, Three Rivers, Watford, Welwyn Hatfield)

Greater London

Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Camden, City of London, City of Westminster, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth

South East
Kent (Dartford, Sevenoaks), Surrey (Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell, Spelthorne)

West Midlands
Birmingham (Sutton Coldfield, Perry Barr, Erdington, Ladywood, Hodge Hill, Yardley, Edgbaston, Hall Green, Selly Oak, Northfield), Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Staffordshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Worcestershire

Apple has also updated its Apple Maps vehicles website with a new list of locations where it will be collecting data between July 1 to July 14, with notable additions including New Orleans and unmapped areas in Santa Clara County. Apple may also be at least temporarily finished collecting data in multiple states it has canvassed over the past several months, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Hawaii.

(Thanks, Stephen!)

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Apple Maps Vehicles Collecting ‘Street View’ Data in US, UK and Ireland

Apple has published a support document on its website confirming that it has been using a fleet of vehicles to collect street-level imagery for Apple Maps. Apple outlines that it will blur faces and license plates on images, as Google Maps does for Street View, and lists where Apple Maps vehicles will be driving in the United States, England and Ireland between June 15 to June 30.

„Apple is driving vehicles around the world to collect data which will be used to improve Apple Maps. Some of this data will be published in future Apple Maps updates. We are committed to protecting your privacy while collecting this data. For example, we will blur faces and license plates on collected images prior to publication.“

Apple has been driving around fifth-generation Dodge Caravans equipped with LiDAR camera equipment on the roof to collect street-level imagery in the United States, starting with major cities and metropolitan areas in the south, northeast and midwest regions of the country. The mapping vehicles have been spotted in at least a dozen states to date as they continue moving further inland.

Apple Map vehicle collecting street-level imagery in New Jersey in May 2015
MacRumors has been tracking Apple Maps vehicles in the United States for the past several months, with the first sightings occurring in New York City in August 2014. Since then, using verified photos with GPS metadata, we have confirmed Apple Maps vehicle sightings in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco and many other areas. Many of those locations are listed below.

Click on the map for an interactive view of Apple Maps vehicle sightings in the U.S.
Anaheim, California
Atlanta, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Dallas, Texas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Los Angeles, California
Maui, Hawaii
Miami, Florida
New York City, New York
Orlando, Florida
Palo Alto, California
Phoenix, Arizona
Salt Lake City, Utah
San Diego, California
San Francisco, California
Sunnyvale, California

Apple confirms many of these locations in the support document, while adding Oahu, Boston, Detroit, St. Louis, Seattle, Tucson and surrounding counties as additional U.S. regions it will be surveying in the second half of June. Apple Maps vehicles will also head overseas to collect street-level imagery in Birmingham, Dublin, Essex, Kent, London and several other cities in England and Ireland.

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AT&T and Verizon Announce Voice Over LTE Interoperability for 2015 [iOS Blog]

AT&T and Verizon today announced voice over LTE (VoLTE) interoperability plans that will allow Verizon Wireless and AT&T customers to make VoLTE to VoLTE calls between networks.

VoLTE is a feature that is designed to enable high-definition voice calls that significantly improve call quality.

Engineers from both companies are working through a full set of requirements, beginning with extensive testing in lab environments and then moving to field trials. This approach ensures customers will have a seamless experience making VoLTE HD Voice calls between networks and lays the foundation for interoperability of other Rich Communications Services (RCS) such as video calls, rich messaging, and more in the future.

Verizon introduced its Advanced Calling 1.0 services with VoLTE support back in September, shortly before the release of the iPhone 6. With VoLTE, Verizon customers are able to use simultaneous voice and data capabilities over a 4G LTE network for the first time.

VoLTE in action on Verizon

AT&T is still in the process of rolling out VoLTE support to all markets, continuing to test the feature in a limited number of cities in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, Georgia, and Texas.

VoLTE requires both built-in phone support, included in the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, and carrier participation. VoLTE interoperability between AT&T and Verizon is good news, as it is not currently possible to make VoLTE calls to outside carrier networks.

Both Verizon and AT&T state hope to establish similar deals with other carriers in the future as VoLTE continues to pick up traction.

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Apple Opening Second Turkish Retail Store in Istanbul’s Akasya Shopping Mall [Mac Blog]

Following the high-profile launch of its first retail store in Istanbul earlier this year, Apple is preparing to open its second retail outlet in the Turkish city, reports Apple Toolbox. Apple Turkey made the new store announcement today, confirming its location in the Akasya Shopping Center.

Apple’s second Istanbul store will be more traditional in design due to its indoor mall location on one of the mall’s middle floors. In contrast, Apple’s first Istanbul store opened earlier this year in the upscale Zorlu Center where it resides in a subterranean location underneath a mall plaza that allows for a unique design. The eye-catching store features a cubic skylight rising out of the plaza with a glass ceiling and sides that take advantage of the store’s sunlit location.

In recent weeks, Apple has announced plans for upcoming expansions of its retail footprint by opening stores in Venice, Italy, Edinburgh, Scotland, and in various US locations, including Massachusetts, Georgia, and Connecticut. This is typically the busiest time of year for Apple retail store openings as the company heads into the lucrative holiday shopping season, although high-profile expansions are expected to continue into 2015, with Apple possibly opening its first store in the United Arab Emirates early next year, according to retail job listings.

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