Apple Pay Expanding to China, Possibly France and Canada’s Big Banks

Apple Pay has launched in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia to date, and the mobile payments service could expand to a fifth country this week: China. A customer service representative for China’s Guangfa Bank, using the bank’s public WeChat account, appears to have confirmed that Apple Pay will officially go live in the world’s most populous country on February 18 at 5:00 a.m. local time.

(Image: Sina via Tech in Asia)

Apple previously announced that Apple Pay will expand to China in early 2016 in partnership with UnionPay, a state-run interbank network that holds a monopoly on the country’s credit and debit card processing. UnionPay cardholders will be able to use Apple Pay on iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad – the latter for in-app purchases only. iOS 9.2 or watchOS 2.1 or later will be required, according to the screenshot.

In November, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple reached deals with China’s big four state-run banks, including the Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and Agricultural Bank of China, to launch its iPhone-based payments service in the country. The report said Apple Pay could launch by the weeklong Chinese New Year, which concluded on February 13.

That prospective date has since passed, but a pair of YouTube videos surfaced in January that appeared to show Apple Pay working with UnionPay bank cards in China for both in-store and in-app purchases. It is possible that Apple soft launched Apple Pay in China with select participating issuers in order to test the payments service, ahead of its official launch in the country in a few days.

Meanwhile, French website iGeneration claims that Apple is preparing to launch Apple Pay in France and could make an announcement in the first half of 2016 – perhaps at WWDC in June. The report claims it is unclear when Apple Pay will become available in French stores, nor does it have information about which banks and participating issuers will support the service upon launch.

Last, new evidence has been uncovered that hints at Apple Pay support coming to Canada’s big banks. Specifically, Twitter user ChaseFromm2016 recently discovered a „NetworkInterac“ string hidden in iOS 9.2.1 code, as shared by the blog iPhone in Canada. The same string was also shared on Chinese website Feng last month, in the screenshot pictured right, according to the report.

(Image: iPhone in Canada)

Interac is Canada’s official debit card network, adopted by the country’s largest banks and credit unions nationwide, including BMO, CIBC, Desjardins, Meridian, National Bank of Canada, RBC, Scotiabank, TD Canada Trust, and many others. TD Canada Trust already stirred speculation in October when it inadvertently listed Apple Pay as a method of payment on its website, before quickly removing it.

Apple Pay is currently limited to American Express cardholders in Canada and Australia, and the same partnership will be extended to Hong Kong, Singapore, and Spain later this year. Apple Pay is now available at more than 2 million retail locations, and Au Bon Pain, Crate & Barrel, Chick-fil-A, Cinnabon, Chili’s, KFC, and Starbucks stores now do or soon will accept the payments service in the U.S.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tags: China, Canada, France
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Apple Pay Expanding to China, Possibly France and Canada’s Big Banks

Best news and RSS apps for iPhone and iPad

The iPhone and iPad are both great ways to consume news and RSS on the go, or while simply lounging around the house. No matter what service you use — Feedly, Feed Wrangler or something else — there are tons of RSS and news apps that support them. If you don’t need a news aggregator […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Best news and RSS apps for iPhone and iPad

Sony’s pico projector makes a big, bright picture

You should never take a video projector camping — it completely defeats the object of the great outdoors. Unless you have kids. Then it’s handy to beam a movie onto the side of a tent to keep them quiet while you drink. Perfect for the job is Sony’s $350 MP-CL1 — a small, battery-powered pico projector. Not much bigger than […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Sony’s pico projector makes a big, bright picture

Turn your phone into a virtual reality portal [Deals]

Virtual reality is finally here…if you can afford it. Picking up one of those sleek new headsets is going to set you back hundreds of dollars, but why drop so much coin when you’ve already got most of what you need for immersive VR in your pocket? DSCVR easily turns your mobile device into a […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Turn your phone into a virtual reality portal [Deals]

Earthquake damage hits Apple’s A-series chipmaker

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) might be on course to take over 100 percent of Apple’s A10 chip orders, but that’s not to say that it’s entirely without problems right now. According to a new report, a recent earthquake which hit one of TSMC’s factories in southern Taiwan caused more damage than initially thought: with […]

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Earthquake damage hits Apple’s A-series chipmaker

Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi Discuss Bloated Software Accusations, Upcoming iTunes Plans

Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi spoke with John Gruber in this week’s episode of „The Talk Show,“ where they commented on recent opinions that Apple’s software isn’t up to snuff and offered some details on a new version of iTunes coming in OS X 10.11.4.

Last week, Re/code‘s Walt Mossberg wrote a piece entitled „Apple’s Apps Need Work,“ pointing towards a „gradual degradation“ in quality in several Apple apps and services like iCloud, Mail, and Photos. iTunes for the desktop was one of the most heavily criticized apps, with Mossberg saying he „dreads“ opening it because it’s „bloated, complex, and sluggish.“

During the podcast, Gruber asked Eddy Cue about Mossberg’s opinion, prompting him to give some background on how Apple wanted the iTunes experience to work. iTunes, Cue said, was designed at a time when people synced their devices via cable, so offering a centralized place with all of a user’s content was key. With Apple Music, Apple decided on a design that would put music front and center while also integrating cloud music with hard copies purchased through iTunes.

„We decided in the short term that what we wanted to do is really make it when you’re in music and iTunes, all you see is music,“ said Cue. He went on to explain that Apple is continually re-evaluating iTunes, and there are plans to release a refreshed version alongside OS X 10.11.4 next month.

„That’s not to say we are continuing… and will continue to think about what’s the best way to architect the app and whether it makes sense to do a separate app for some of the components that are in there or all of the components that are in there. But right now, we think we’ve designed iTunes and you’ll see we’ve got a new refresh with the new version of OS X that’s coming out next month that makes it even easier to use in the music space.“

Cue and Federighi went on to talk about the issues that arise whenever Apple makes major changes to software, as there are always people who prefer not to see significant changes. According to Federighi, there’s a „tricky balancing act“ with software updates.

„People are serious about their music and their collection, and so I think we debate pretty heavily internally the right way to evolve these things. We tend to err on the side of being pretty bold, but there’s a lot of responsibility.

The two also highlighted the immense scale that Apple is working on, with more than 1 billion active devices and 782 million iCloud users. More than 200,000 iMessages per second are sent at peak times, and there are more than 750 million transactions per week in the iTunes Store and the App Store. Apple Music has grown to 11 million subscribers and more than 2.5 million errors in Maps have been fixed, a number presented as evidence that Apple is continually working on its software.

„I would say first there’s nothing we care about more,“ said Federighi, speaking on Apple’s software and services. He believes Apple’s core software quality has improved significantly over the course of the last five years, but pointed towards an ever-raising bar that pushes Apple to keep evolving and implementing new features. „Every year we realize the things we were good at last year and the techniques we were using to build the best software we can are not adequate for the next year because the bar keeps going up,“ he said.

Federighi and Cue’s full discussion with John Gruber about the state of software, the desktop version of iTunes, and Apple’s efforts to expand its public beta program, can be listed to over on the Daring Fireball website.

Tags: iTunes, Apple Music
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Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi Discuss Bloated Software Accusations, Upcoming iTunes Plans

Japan Display’s Upcoming Touch Screens Feature Slimmer Bezels, Wet Finger Support

Apple supplier Japan Display revealed some details on its second-generation „Pixel Eyes“ LCD modules over the holidays, providing us with a look at some of the ways the display industry is advancing. Japan Display’s „Pixel Eyes“ modules incorporate touch functionality into the display, and in the second-generation model, there are some exciting improvements.

Using a new sensor structure and new materials, Japan Display has managed to decrease the thickness of the bezel, going from 0.8mm to 0.5mm. A deeper black level is available, and the display can accept input with a stylus as narrow as 1mm for finer detail when drawing or writing.

Perhaps the most intriguing feature in the LCD module is its ability to operate with wet fingers. Many current smartphone screens are unable to work accurately under water and when fingers are wet as water is capacitive and confuses the built-in touch sensors.

iPhones, iPads, and the Apple Watch, for example, don’t respond well to touch with wet fingers or when placed in water, so technology like this could be essential if Apple wants to have a functional display in a device advertised as „waterproof.“ Some iPhone 7 rumors have indicated the next-generation iPhone could be a waterproof device.

In a report earlier this week, The Motley Fool highlighted Japan Display’s second-generation „Pixel Eyes“ technology and the possibility it could be included in the iPhone 7. Volume shipments on the displays will begin during the current quarter, making them available for possible inclusion in the iPhone 7 when Apple begins ramping up production during the summer months.

While Japan Display is one of Apple’s suppliers, it is not entirely clear if Japan Display screens are used in the iPhone and if the second-generation Pixel Eyes display technology will be used in future products. There have been rumors suggesting Apple and Japan Display have partnered up for a $1.7 billion display plant to produce screens for iPhones in 2016, so it’s not out of the question that we’ll see Japan Display screens in the iPhone 7 or the iPhone 7s.

Regardless of whether Japan Display’s technology ends up in the iPhone, the advancements made by the company serve as an interesting glimpse at features that could be adopted more widely by the display industry in the future, eventually making their way into Apple’s devices.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tag: Japan Display Inc
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Japan Display’s Upcoming Touch Screens Feature Slimmer Bezels, Wet Finger Support

AT&T to Begin Testing 5G, 10-100 Times Faster Than 4G LTE

AT&T has announced that it will begin trialing 5G wireless technologies this year, including lab tests in the second quarter and outdoor tests over the summer. The carrier anticipates 5G speeds to be 10-100 times faster than today’s average 4G LTE connections, with reduced latency.

Customers will see speeds measured in gigabits per second, not megabits. For reference, at one gigabit per second, you can download a TV show in less than 3 seconds. Customers will also see much lower latency with 5G. Latency, for example, is how long it takes after you press play on a video app for the video to start streaming on your device. We expect 5G latency in the range of 1 to 5 milliseconds.

Worldwide standards are still lacking for 5G technologies, but the 3GPP group aims to complete the first phase of that process in 2018. The widespread rollout of AT&T’s 5G network will likely take until 2020, but the carrier plans to provide wireless connectivity to fixed locations in Austin before the end of this year. The carrier joins Verizon, who will also be field testing 5G solutions this year.

AT&T’s 5G network will be based on technologies such as millimeter waves, network function virtualization (NFV), and software-defined networking (SDN). The carrier has already migrated 14 million wireless customers to its virtualized network, and it says millions more will be added this year. AT&T plans to virtualize 75% of its network over the next four years in the lead up to 5G.

It remains too early to predict Apple’s roadmap for 5G connectivity. Apple was quick to support LTE-Advanced, a faster standard of 4G LTE, on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus or later, but 3G and LTE wireless technologies were both available for years before Apple adopted them. Based on AT&T’s and 3GPP’s timelines, a 5G iPhone may not be released for at least three to four years.

Tags: AT&T, LTE, 5G
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AT&T to Begin Testing 5G, 10-100 Times Faster Than 4G LTE

Apple Recruiting Specialized Engineer to Focus on Apple Watch Clock Faces

A job description for a software engineer on Apple’s „Clock Face Team“ discovered yesterday points to the possibility of more robust Clock Face and Complications options in a future watchOS update. As discovered by AppleInsider, the listing is specifically seeking a software engineer with 3+ years of software development experience to join the Apple Watch team.

Responsible for planning and implementing new Clock Faces and Complications for Apple Watch users, the software engineer will work in close proximity to the UI design, iOS Frameworks, and QA teams. Besides the expected timeliness and attention to detail stipulations, the rest of the description for the position at Apple includes the following:

Description

As a member of the team you will have many responsibilities relating to the design, development, and testing of the device software.

Collaborating closely with the design team to push the envelope on human-computer interactions.

Creating solutions tailored to the constraints of the software and the hardware of a small, low power device.

Working closely with the iOS Apps, iOS Frameworks and Hardware teams to create robust and maintainable systems that will stand the test of time.

Coordinating with the quality assurance teams to ensure full test coverage as well as to initiate focused testing on critical components.

New Apple Watch Clock Faces and Complications have been assumed to be in the cards for future watchOS updates, but what we still don’t know is when they will be released. Last September, Apple released the first major public update for Apple Watch in watchOS 2, which introduced three new Clock Faces: two variations on Photo Album (one that shuffles through a set album, and one that sticks to a specific image) and Time-Lapse.

Currently on watchOS 2.1, the next update to the Apple Watch software (watchOS 2.2) is predicted to debut at a rumored March media event. Recent beta tests of 2.2 don’t hint at the inclusion of new Clock Faces and Complications, so there’s a possibility users will have to wait a little longer for these additions. The specific details for the event remain nebulous, but so far the „iPhone 5se,“ iPad Air 3, and new Apple Watch bands are all rumored to be included in next month’s yet-to-be-announced Apple event.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2
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Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
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Apple Recruiting Specialized Engineer to Focus on Apple Watch Clock Faces