If you care about special needs kids, choose Android Pay over Apple Pay on Black Friday

While Apple Pay has become a near ubiquitous payment option at stores across America, Android Pay is having a harder time getting off the ground. But here’s a reason to feel good about using Google’s service over Apple’s: until the end of the year, Google will donate money to special needs students across America every time […]

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


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Tim Cook Talks iPhone Security, His Favorite New Features, and Deleting Stock iOS Apps

Following last week’s announcement of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, Tim Cook has been paying unannounced visits to a few Apple Stores to talk with the store’s employees and take pictures with customers. During a ride to the company’s flagship 5th Avenue location in Manhattan, Buzzfeed got a few minutes with the Apple CEO, where he discussed everything from the privacy concerns of the new „Hey Siri“ feature to whether or not iPhone users will ever be able to delete those Apple-created stock apps from their smartphones.

Directly addressing the privacy and safety concerns of „Hey Siri“, Cook mentioned that anyone who is fearful of such things can always turn the feature off. Still, he described „the real answer“ to be the fact that any information collected by the feature remains on the iPhone, and isn’t sent to Apple or anyone else. On the lighter side, when asked about the newest features coming to the next generation iPhones, Cook’s favorite appears to be 3D Touch.

Cook is hot on all of this stuff; he describes Live Photos with near Jobsian hyperbole — “I think Live Photos is a medium that hasn’t existed before. It’s like discovering a new form.” But he’s most excited by 3D Touch. “I personally think 3D Touch is a game changer,” he says. “I find that my efficiency is way up with 3D touch, because I can go through so many emails so quickly. It really does cut out a number of navigational steps to get where you’re going.”

When asked whether the company ever holds back a massive innovation ready for an „S“ year, for the next generation (next year’s assumed „iPhone 7″), Cook was adamant in stating “As soon as products are ready we’re going to release them. There’s no holding back.“ Another such innovation, the new iPhone Upgrade Program, is promised by the CEO to be aimed at improving customer experience with an „easier“ and „simpler“ way for those who want the new iPhone each year.

Thanks in part to the announcement of products like the iPad Pro, Cook also mentions that because „we’re at the point where the iPad does what some people want to do with their PCs,“ he posits that some people may „never“ buy a proper desktop or laptop computer. Still, he believes the Mac is a „key part“ of the company’s strategy and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

One aspect that may be changing in the future, however, is a much-requested way to delete apps like „Stocks“ and „Tips“ from the iPhone. Cook and the company are aware of the fans’ cry for the feature and want to work something out, but it may be more complicated than it seems.

“This is a more complex issue than it first appears,” he says. “There are some apps that are linked to something else on the iPhone. If they were to be removed they might cause issues elsewhere on the phone. There are other apps that aren’t like that. So over time, I think with the ones that aren’t like that, we’ll figure out a way [for you to remove them]. … It’s not that we want to suck up your real estate, we’re not motivated to do that. We want you to be happy. So I recognize that some people want to do this, and it’s something we’re looking at.”

Apple announced the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPad Pro last week along with other products like the new Apple TV, and some new information on upcoming updates like iOS 9 and watchOS 2. The new iPhones went up for pre-order over the weekend and are scheduled to launch next week on Friday, September 25. Cook’s interview with Buzzfeed in New York today precedes his upcoming appearance on the new Late Show with Stephen Colbert, airing tonight at 11:30 p.m. on CBS.

The full interview between Cook and Buzzfeed is worth a read.



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Apple Making Big Hiring Push in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Apple is stepping up its efforts to recruit employees focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning, reports Reuters. The report suggests Apple is looking to challenge Google’s lead in features such as Google Now that learn to anticipate smartphone users’ needs, something Apple is starting to address in iOS 9 with its new „Proactive“ feature.

As part of its push, the company is currently trying to hire at least 86 more employees with expertise in the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning, according to a recent analysis of Apple job postings. The company has also stepped up its courtship of machine-learning PhD’s, joining Google, Amazon, Facebook and others in a fierce contest, leading academics say.

Apple’s machine learning efforts are in large part built with Siri in mind, and Siri should play an important role in this Wednesday’s media event, as indicated by the event invitation’s tagline.

Reuters notes that Apple faces a challenge with machine learning due to its focus on privacy and reluctance to tap into all possible data sources. For example, with the Proactive features of iOS 9, Apple is primarily keeping all of the data and analysis on the user’s phone, enhancing privacy but limiting some of what can be learned from data passed to the cloud.

Apple’s strict policies not only limit what can be learned from user data but also discourage some machine learning experts from pursuing positions with Apple due to that lack of access. Still, Apple is said to be opening up about machine learning, engaging with academic programs in its efforts to lure talent and already having tripled or quadrupled the size of its machine learning team over the last few years.



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Microsoft will finally allow you to defer app updates on Windows 10

While users of Windows 10 Home were initially unable to defer updates to Store apps, it now looks like Microsoft has gone back on that policy and enabled the option in cumulative update KB3081448. Read more…

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Despite Popular Kickstarter, Pebble Seeks $5 Million Loan ‘To Stay Afloat’ [iOS Blog]

Popular smartwatch maker Pebble appears to be in some financial trouble, according to a few sources „close to the company,“ as reported by TechCrunch. The company is having trouble maintaining its growth, turning to a bank in its home base of Silicon Valley for not only a $5 million loan but a $5 million line of credit. According to those same sources, banks in the Valley have been turning down Pebble’s financial support requests repeatedly.

The smartwatch company’s rocky monetary troubles come a few weeks after a well-publicized Kickstarter campaign, which reached its $500,000 goal in under 20 minutes of going live. The project’s final funding amount – which received numerous stretch goals along the way – saw 78,471 backers pledge $20,338,986 for the new slimmer design and color display smartwatch.

The company actually received around $18 million from the Kickstarter campaign, after fees, and currently staffs about 150 people with more being hired in new positions. Despite all of this success, and an infusion of forward momentum thanks directly to Apple’s Apple Watch-focused „Spring Forward“ event, the logistics of running the company have forced CEO Eric Migicovsky and fellow company heads to seek venture capitalist funding „in order to stay afloat.“

TechCrunch‘s source also noted that numerous employees were unhappy with the company’s direction „as it turns to face competitors from Apple, Android, and outside.“ This is perhaps alluding to the company’s nonchalant attitude towards poking fun at Apple on its own website and Migicovsky’s somewhat apathetic responses to Apple’s impending entrance into the smartwatch market.

With Pebble facing such troubles just a few weeks after the Apple Watch launch, two events that may yet still be unrelated, it’ll be interesting to see how Apple’s competitors in the smartwatch market maneuver themselves to stay successful in an ever-growing and crowded field. Still, some employees are happy with Pebble and see a good future for the still-fairly-young company. “We’re a young company. The outlook for Pebble is very positive,” said a current employee who preferred to remain anonymous when speaking with TechCrunch. “It’s been a remarkable journey thus far.”





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