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Resource id #62Apple CEO Tim Cook Publicly Comes Out as Gay in Letter Declaring Support for Equality
timcook.png In a letter written for Bloomberg Businessweek, Apple CEO Tim Cook has publicly come out as gay while declaring his support for equality.

Cook, who has typically kept a low profile on his personal life, says that his decision to publicly acknowledge his sexuality was done to "bring comfort to anyone who feels alone" and to "inspire people to insist on their equality."
I’ll admit that this wasn’t an easy choice. Privacy remains important to me, and I’d like to hold on to a small amount of it. I’ve made Apple my life’s work, and I will continue to spend virtually all of my waking time focused on being the best CEO I can be. That’s what our employees deserve—and our customers, developers, shareholders, and supplier partners deserve it, too. Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one’s sexuality, race, or gender. I’m an engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness nut, a son of the South, a sports fanatic, and many other things. I hope that people will respect my desire to focus on the things I’m best suited for and the work that brings me joy.
Cook has expressed his thoughts on equality numerous times throughout the past couple of years, which include highlighting the subject in a speech at his alma mater Auburn University and establishing his and Apple's support for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act in an op-ed written for The Wall Street Journal.

Earlier this year, Apple also marched in support of the LGBT community during the 44th annual Pride parade, and issued a statement in support of Supreme Court gay marriage rulings in 2013.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Microsoft Unveils $199 'Microsoft Band' Fitness Wearable
Shortly after apps on the Mac App Store and iOS App Store revealed Microsoft's fitness wearable, the company has revealed its $199 Microsoft Band fitness wearable to Re/code. The device will go on sale tomorrow at Microsoft's online and retail stores.

microsoft-band_hero_2
The Microsoft Band is designed to last 48 hours on a single charge and can be worn all day and all night, as it tracks both physical activity and sleep. It includes 10 sensors that track standard health statistics like heart rate as well as unique points of data that other fitness bands do not track, like a UV sensor to measure sun exposure and galvanic skin response, which can identify stress. Like smart watches, the Band can also receive notifications from a user's smartphone.

Microsoft is also launching a cloud-based health service called Microsoft Health, which can gather data from both the Microsoft Band and other fitness data gathering devices, like smartphones and other fitness bands. The service spans the web and multiple mobile platforms like iOS, Android and Windows Phone. The Windows Phone app, however, integrates Microsoft's voice assistant Cortana.

The company also says that the feature set of device and services will grow, as users will be able to pay for things at Starbucks with the Band and will be able to see how certain events influence health or sleep.
The company also notes that–if customers want to– Microsoft Health can combine work and personal data and gather insights such as how a big meeting with the boss affects that night’s sleep. Other features include access to Facebook and Twitter feeds, as well as weather and stock data.
The Microsoft Band goes on sale tomorrow for $199.


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'Microsoft Health' App for Upcoming Wearable Leaks as Google Launches HealthKit Rival
As Apple completes the launch of HealthKit and the Health app for iOS, its competitors Microsoft and Google have been preparing their own entrances into the health sector. Today, Microsoft apps for an upcoming fitness wearable have leaked in app stores as Google launched a new HealthKit-like initiative.

In July it was reported that Microsoft was working on a fitness band that would work with iOS. Now, the official app for the device, which appears to be called the Microsoft "Band", has appeared on the Mac App Store. The "Microsoft Band Sync" app, which was first discovered by WindowsCentral, appears to allow users to sync the data on their device to the app for tracking.

Microsoft_Band
Another app called Microsoft Health has also been revealed for iOS and appears to include many of the same options as the "Microsoft Band Sync" app and also teases a future device called "Microsoft Band". A new privacy statement (via AppleInsider) on Microsoft's website also makes mention of Microsoft Band, Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band Sync.
Live healthier and be more productive with the Microsoft Health app for iPhone®. Achieve wellness goals by tracking your heart rate, steps, calorie burn, and sleep quality. Maximize your fitness with Guided Workouts, 24-hour heart rate monitoring and automatic activity counting. Be more productive with email previews and calendar alerts at a glance. Personalize your Microsoft Band and get new features as they roll out.
Although the "Band" doesn't appear to be a fully functioning smart watch like Apple Watch, it does signal Microsoft's desire to enter the health market and provides an alternative to the health-tracking features of Apple Watch or FitBit bands. Similarly, the Microsoft Health app offers an alternative to the health center that is the Health app, provided the user opts for the Microsoft Band.

Meanwhile, Google launched its version of the Health app for Android (via The Verge). Called Google Fit, the app tracks health goals and workout statistics and is compatible with Android Wear devices and third-party fitness trackers. Much like the Health app, Google Fit can also track walking, running and cycling without the use of external apps or fitness trackers.

Microsoft Health is a free universal app available in the App Store. [Direct Link]

Microsoft Band Sync is a free app available in the Mac App Store. [Direct Link]


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MCX Says Merchants Doing What's Best for Customers, Being Attacked for 'Challenging the Status Quo'
currentc_phoneFollowing the publication of a blog post earlier today outlining some details of its upcoming CurrentC mobile payments solution and disclosure of a hack resulting in unauthorized access to users' email addresses, Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) held a conference call with members of the press to further address questions and concerns.

During the call, MCX CEO Dekkers Davidson and COO Scott Rankin clarified that MCX merchants who choose to accept Apple Pay are not subject to fines. As stated in the blog post earlier today, merchants are also free to leave the consortium entirely at any time without penalty beyond forfeiting the time and money already invested in the effort.

As a result, MCX certainly appears to be placing the blame for its member retailers' refusal to accept Apple Pay on the merchants themselves. Asked whether Apple Pay and MCX's CurrentC solution should be able to exist side-by-side, the executives noted that believe they will in the future and that it will take two or three major players in mobile payments to allow the entire market to thrive.

But pressed as to why some retailers such as CVS and Rite Aid have shut down NFC entirely rather than allow unofficial Apple Pay payments in their stores, Davidson argued that merchants know their customers best and are making the choices they believe are right for their customers. He said the merchants believe customers want more than just mobile payments, and CurrentC's integration of payments with loyalty cards and coupons will in his opinion prove to be the best solution.

On the topic of the hack that has resulted in compromised email addresses, Davidson noted that attacks on their systems were expected and have been heavy over the past week but that the email breach did not affect the app or the actual CurrentC systems. As a result, the issue has not shaken MCX's confidence that the cloud is the best place to store personal information for CurrentC users. Asked why MCX has been the target of such attacks over the past week, Davidson speculated that with MCX "challenging the status quo" of large, entrenched payment systems, there are bound to be attacks.

Addressing privacy issues, Davidson and Rankin also highlighted the privacy dashboard that will be available to all CurrentC users. The dashboard will allow users to tailor their level of engagement with retailers, ranging from complete anonymity to identifiable relationships that will allow for customized offers, coupons, and other benefits.

The executives also touted CurrentC's technology and payment platform agnosticism, noting that while the system has been initially built out using QR codes for maximum compatibility, the system can easily pivot to NFC or other technologies as appropriate. Responding to questions of security with QR codes, the executives pointed to Starbucks, which processes 5-6 million transactions per week using the technology.

On the payment front, CurrentC will support a variety of methods including store cards, gift cards, debit cards, and checking account withdrawals, with two credit card companies even on board at this stage. Over time, MCX expects all cards to be welcomed, even with the interchange fees charged for credit card usage.

CurrentC is currently in limited testing with an undisclosed number of partners in undisclosed locations around the country, and a full nationwide launch is planned for early next year.


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GT Advanced COO Blames Apple's Strict Sapphire Contract Terms for Bankruptcy Filing
GT Advanced's Chief Operating Officer Daniel Squiller yesterday filed some revised documents with the court, giving a bit more insight into what went wrong between Apple and GT Advanced that led to the latter company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Shared by Fortune, Squiller's affidavit [PDF] delves further into the contractual obligations outlined in GT's agreement with Apple, which led to huge losses of money as the contract was highly favorable to Apple.

gt_advanced_logo
It was known that the terms of the contract prevented GT Advanced from selling its sapphire to customers other than Apple, but as it turns out, Apple also had a vast amount of control over GT's sapphire production. For example, GT was not able to modify equipment, specifications, or the manufacturing process without express consent from Apple, but Apple could modify the terms at any point. GT was also expected to fulfill any of Apple's purchase orders at Apple's demand, with severe penalties for failing to do so.
GTAT must accept and fulfill any purchase order placed by Apple on the date selected by Apple. If there is any delay, GTAT must either use expedited shipping (at its own cost) or purchase substitute goods (at its own cost). If GTAT's delivery is late, GTAT must pay $320,000 per boule of sapphire (and $77 per millimeter of sapphire material) as liquidated damages to Apple. To put this figure in perspective, a boule has a cost of less than $20,000. Apple, however, has the right, without compensating GTAT, to cancel a purchase order in whole or in part at any time and reschedule a delivery date at any time.
Apple was also in charge of the Mesa, Arizona facility that it acquired for GT Advanced, and delays at the facility cut into GT's production time. Apple reportedly decided it was too expensive to provide backup power for the furnaces and on multiple occasions, power interruptions led to delays and loss of sapphire boules. GT Advanced was also not in charge of the sapphire cutting tools that it received, and in his affidavit, the COO says that the tools did not "meet their performance and reliability specifications."

The contractual obligations ultimately resulted in GT's inability to meet "cost and production targets" for reasons that it says were "beyond its control." Issues in scaling its technology to create large 262kg sapphire boules to meet Apple's specifications also led to the bankruptcy filing.
The key to making the transaction profitable for both sides was the production of a sufficient number of 262kg boules of sapphire crystal meeting the specifications required by Apple. [...]

Unfortunately, the production of 262kg boules of sapphire could not be accomplished within the time frames the parties had agreed, and was more expensive than anticipated. These problems and difficulties resulted in a liquidity crisis at GTAT, which led to the commencement of these chapter 11 cases"
Though Apple and GT Advanced have reached an agreement to dissolve their partnership, the two will remain in contact as GT Advanced continues its research work focused on producing larger sapphire boules. The two companies will meet quarterly to discuss GT's progress on that front, with collaboration still possible if both sides agree to move forward.

GT Advanced has already begun winding down operations at the Mesa, Arizona sapphire plant, wrapping up sapphire boule production, decommissioning furnaces, and laying off employees. The plant is expected to shut down on December 31.


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AT&T, Verizon Using 'Perma-Cookies' to Track Customer Web Activity
Both Verizon and AT&T appear to be engaging in some unsavory customer tracking techniques, using unique identifying numbers to deliver targeted advertisements to customers in what's called "Relevant Advertising." As outlined by Wired, Verizon is altering the web traffic of its customers by inserting a Unique Identifier Header or UIDH, a temporary serial number that lets advertisers identify Verizon users on the web.

According to Jacob Hoffman-Andrews of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the UIDH serves as a "perma-cookie" that can be read by any web server to "build a profile" of internet habits. Verizon users cannot turn off the UIDH, but opting out of the Relevant Mobile Advertising Program prevents the information from being used to create targeted ads.

Verizon has been using Relevant Advertising techniques for two years, but the tracking has gone largely unnoticed until recently, when extra data from Verizon customers was noticed. AT&T appears to be engaging in similar tracking activities, and is testing its own Relevant Advertising system.

attoptout
According to Forbes, AT&T is testing a similar code insertion program that will allow websites to track AT&T customers. Like Verizon, AT&T has plans to make the tracking codes temporary as a "privacy-protective measure," but according to one of the researchers that discovered the tracking, Kenneth White, the codes that AT&T is sending to some customers are persistent.
AT&T does not currently have a mobile Relevant Advertising program. We are considering such a program, and any program we would offer would maintain our fundamental commitment to customer privacy," read a statement from AT&T. "For instance, we are testing a numeric code that changes every 24 hours on mobile devices to use in programs where we serve ads to the mobile device. This daily rotation on the numeric code would help protect the privacy of our customers. Customers also could opt out of any future AT&T program that might use this numeric code."
Unlike Verizon, AT&T will not include the unique identifier code in the IP packets of customers who have opted out of the company's Relevant Advertising program.

Both Verizon and AT&T customers can check whether their devices are sending identifying codes by visiting a website created by aforementioned security researcher Kenneth White. Verizon customers appear to be unable to opt out entirely, but AT&T customers can visit the following website on their mobile devices (while connected to the AT&T network) to turn off Relevant Advertising: http://205.234.28.93/mobileoptout/.


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Apple Disallows Previously Approved Calculator Widgets for iOS 8 Notification Center
Apple is forcing popular iOS calculator app PCalc to remove its Notification Center widget, which allows users to access calculator functions directly from the "Today" view of the Notification Center. According to Apple, widgets on iOS are not allowed to perform any calculations.

Apple's sudden decision to disallow PCalc's previously approved widget is somewhat surprising as the app is featured in multiple places in the App Store, including a section called "Extend Your Apps" featuring apps with unique widgets, and "Great Apps and Games for iOS 8," which also features a selection of Notification Center widgets.

PCalc was one of the first apps to be updated for iOS 8 and along with being featured on MacRumors in a list of apps with Notification Center integration, it was lauded for its convenient and unique use of the Notification Center in App Store reviews and in iOS 8 coverage from a variety of sites.

pcalc
Apple appears to have some fairly strict guidelines governing the proper usage of Notification Center widgets. PCalc is not the first app that's facing the removal of its widget, as Apple previously pulled Launcherfrom the App Store. Launcher installed a Notification Center widget that provided access to quick actions like making a phone call, opening a pre-defined Maps route, or sending a tweet.

Apple's App Extension guidelines do clearly state that Notification Center widgets should have a "simple, streamlined UI," a limited number of interactive items, and specifies that a widget is "not a mini version" of an app, but it does not appear to expressly disallow calculations. There's also a Pcalc app for OS X Yosemite that brings similar functionality to the desktop Notification Center and it is unclear whether Apple will also require the removal of that widget.

For the time being, PCalc can be downloaded from the App Store for $9.99, with access to the Notification Center widget included. [Direct Link]


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European 'iWatch' Trademark Holder Plans New Android Smartwatch
Irish firm Probendi is seeking to capitalize on Apple's announcement of the Apple Watch earlier this year by using its existing "iWatch" trademark in Europe to launch its own smartwatch device. Probendi director Daniele Di Salvo confirmed in a recent RTE Radio interview that the company will "absolutely push ahead" with its plans to build a smartwatch device that will compete with the Apple Watch, reports news site Herald.ie.

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Probendi owns an iWatch trademark in Europe and has been using the iWatch name for health and safety communication software. Di Salvo acknowledges the company's existing iWatch software product, but notes that "the name is easily associated with a smartwatch" when discussing the company's future plans.

It is unclear, however, how Di Salvo will be able to extend use of the iWatch name to a smartwatch, as the category protection for the company's trademark is somewhat limited within the computer software classification. Numerous other companies, including Apple, have filed for protection on the "iWatch" name in a variety of classifications and countries, something that may have contributed to Apple's decision to use the "Apple Watch" name for its product.

Speaking to RTE Radio, Di Salvo refused to comment on any potential discussions with Apple about the trademarked name, but did confirm that the company is in talks with Chinese manufacturers about producing a smartwatch device.
"We have been contacted by some very important manufacturers in China about the possibility of manufacturing a smartwatch and selling them with the name iWatch. Discussions are still ongoing. We are good at software but hardware is definitely not our business but we are evaluating this request," Mr Di Salvo said.
Di Salvo's iWatch will feature a square design, a touchscreen, GPS functionality, and an accelerometer. It reportedly will run the Android operating system, with support for fitness, health tracking and other apps. According to Bloomberg, Di Salvo is looking for manufacturers to assemble the device at a cost that is lower than the Apple Watch's $349 entry-level price.


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CurrentC Alerts Users of Unauthorized Access to Email Addresses
Just hours after publishing a blog post answering some questions about its upcoming CurrentC mobile payments system and touting the security of its cloud-based storage of sensitive information, the company behind the effort, Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) has alerted users of unauthorized access to their email addresses.
Thank you for your interest in CurrentC. You are receiving this message because you are either a participant in our pilot program or requested information about CurrentC. Within the last 36 hours, we learned that unauthorized third parties obtained the e-mail addresses of some of you. Based on investigations conducted by MCX security personnel, only these e-mail addresses were involved and no other information.
mcx_currentc_email_breach
Details on the unauthorized access have not been disclosed, but iMore's Nick Arnott earlier this week took a look at some of the personal information being collected by MCX and CurrentC and noted that he could ping CurrentC's systems to look for valid registered email addresses on the system. While he did not find valid addresses, the system appeared capable of returning a substantial amount of personal information about such accounts.

Security has of course been one of the main selling points of Apple's new Apple Pay system, with data stored in a Secure Element on the device and payments authorized through Touch ID and tokenized account numbers being used instead of actual credit card numbers to process transactions.


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Apple SIM Included With iPad for Customer Convenience, but iPhone Not Likely to Join In
Apple had the consumer in mind when it added a multi-carrier SIM card to its new iPads, said Apple vice president of iPhone, iPod and iOS product marketing Greg Joswiak in a recent Re/code interview (via Fierce Wireless). But that motivation does not mean the Apple SIM will be making its way to the iPhone any time soon, as Joswiak noted most consumers go directly to their carriers to buy iPhones, while the iPad more often is sold through Apple's retail channels.
"It's about the customer experience," he said during an appearance here at Re/code's Code/Mobile conference. "We ultimately don't know who you are going to use as the carrier, [and] we want to make it as easy as possible."

Joswiak said Apple has not discussed putting the Apple SIM into iPhones, but said that because of the way most customers buy an iPhone--through a carrier directly--the Apple SIM is not as well suited. "I don't think you're going to go to the Verizon store and say, 'Can you hook me up with AT&T?,'" he said.
With most iPhone customers committed to their carriers for a significant period of time, either through contracts subsidizing the phone cost or through payment plans, multi-carrier SIM cards make less sense for iPhones.

Apple's new universal SIM in theory allows customers to activate with one carrier and then switch to another carrier as needed, but there are some limitations. The Apple SIM is currently only compatible with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and UK carrier EE. Verizon confirmed that is not adopting Apple's new SIM, instead requiring customers to activate with a Verizon-specific SIM.

apple_sim_selection_ipad
In addition, while AT&T is listed as a compatible carrier, the provider is not fully supporting all the features of the SIM. Apple and AT&T have confirmed the carrier is not allowing its customers to switch once the Apple SIM has been activated on AT&T's network, instead opting to lock the SIM to its network following activation. Customers who activate service on AT&T will thus have to purchase a new SIM if they want to use their tablet with another carrier.

Apple introduced the new iPad Air 2 and Retina iPad mini 3 earlier this month with sales beginning last week. Both tablets feature a universal SIM, Touch ID, and storage options of 16, 64 and 128GB. The iPad Air 2 also includes a new A8X processor, antireflective display and 2GB of RAM. The iPad Air 2 retails at a starting price of $499, while the iPad mini 3 costs $399 for the base model.


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MCX Confirms Retailer Exclusivity for CurrentC Mobile Payments, but No Fines for Leaving Consortium
Much of the Apple news in recent days has centered around Apple Pay and what Tim Cook referred to on Monday as a "skirmish" in which several retailers backing a competing mobile payments initiative known as CurrentC have shut down NFC payment functionality in their stores to prevent customer use of Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and other similar services.

Numerous sources have indicated that retailers backing CurrentC are contractually prohibited from accepting alternative forms of mobile payments, and sources told The New York Times that retailers breaking those contracts would "face steep fines."

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Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), the consortium of retailers backing CurrentC, has now published a blog post confirming that retailers working with MCX are indeed required to back CurrentC exclusively. While the group does not directly address whether consortium members could be fined for accepting Apple Pay, it does say members may leave the group without penalty if they so choose.
MCX merchants make their own decisions about what solutions they want to bring to their customers; the choice is theirs. When merchants choose to work with MCX, they choose to do so exclusively and we’re proud of the long list of merchants who have partnered with us. Importantly, if a merchant decides to stop working with MCX, there are no fines.
While the lack of a fine for leaving the consortium means retailers such as CVS and Rite Aid could still pull out of the CurrentC effort and begin accepting Apple Pay, retailers are undoubtedly reluctant to do so as they view CurrentC has a key effort to escape from credit card swipe fees while maintaining the ability to mine customer information. Many have also already invested significant amounts of money in the CurrentC effort, money that would be lost if they stopped working with MCX.

Beyond its arrangements with retailers, MCX also addresses the features of CurrentC in its blog post, highlighting the fact that it will work with any phone, integrate coupons and loyalty cards, support multiple forms of payment including gift cards, credit cards, and checking withdrawals.

Addressing user privacy, MCX highlights CurrentC's privacy dashboard that will allow customers to control what information is shared with retailers and argues that the system's cloud-based storage of sensitive customer information offers more security than on-device storage that could be more easily compromised through hacking or theft.

MCX's CurrentC program is currently in limited testing, and is expected to launch nationwide sometime next year.


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iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Boost Apple's Customer Base in Europe, but Market Share Slightly Down in U.S.
Research firm Kantar WorldPanel has released a new report (via TechCrunch) highlighting global smartphone sales over the July-September period which saw the debut of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The report found that Apple's market share in major European markets is now higher when compared to the prior-year-period that saw the debut of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. However, Apple's share in countries like the United States and Japan were found to be lower when compared to the same timeframe last year.

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Our latest data covers the first few days of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus being available in Europe and it is clear that demand has been high for the eagerly awaited new models. In Great Britain, where the new iPhone models started shipping on 19 September, Apple saw its sales share up by 1.7% compared with the same period last year, taking share of iOS to 31%. Across the major European markets, where the new iPhone models were made available between the 19 and 26 September, initial sales of the new iPhone models have overwhelmingly been from existing iPhone owners (87%).

Across Europe’s top five markets, the iPhone 6 has outsold the larger iPhone 6 Plus by five-to-one.
Apple's total market share in the U.S. hit 32.6% during September, which is down 3.3% from the 35.9% market share it held in the year-ago period. In Japan, Apple's market share reached 31.3% in September, which is down 15.9% when compared to the 47.2% market share it held during same time period last year.
In the US, market competition has been reinvigorated with LG and Motorola increasing their shares. The recently launched LG G3 and Motorola Moto X are better positioned to compete with flagship products from Samsung and HTC. Smartphones sales grew 35% over the past year in the US. Despite Apple’s share declining 3 percentage points in the three months ending in September, compared with the same period last year, it is clear that demand for the iPhone 6 has been very healthy.
While the iPhone continues to enjoy a steady market share throughout the world, it also continues to trail Android which holds a 70% or higher market share in many countries. In Italy, the iPhone holds the third most market share at 10.4%, which is behind Windows Phone's 15.2% market share and Android's 71.8% market share.


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iOS 8 Now Installed on Over Half of Active iOS Devices
After five and a half weeks of availability, Apple's iOS 8 operating system is now installed on 52 percent of iOS devices, according to new numbers posted on Apple's App Store support page for developers.

iOS 8's installation numbers have increased approximately four percent over the course of the two weeks, which means adoption numbers are on the rise after several weeks of stagnation. During Apple's October 16 iPad-centric event, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that iOS 8 was installed on 48 percent of devices as of October 13, and before that, the OS was installed on 46 percent of devices on September 21.

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The jump in iOS 8 installation numbers follows the October 20 release of iOS 8.1, which brought several new features that undoubtedly enticed iOS users to upgrade, including Apple Pay support, SMS Forwarding, Instant Hotspot, iCloud Photo Library beta access, and the return of the Camera Roll.

iOS 8.1 also addressed several notable bugs that had been present in the operating system for several weeks and that were the source of several user complaints about iOS 8. The update fixed Wi-Fi connection issues, Bluetooth problems, screen rotation bugs, and more.

Apple's own iOS 8 adoption estimates are based on App Store usage and are mirrored closely by data from MixPanel, which puts iOS 8 adoption at just over 54 percent. MixPanel's numbers suggest installation rates have been trending upwards since the release of iOS 8.1.

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iOS 8's release was plagued with a number of early bugs that may have scared users away from updating. Ahead of launch, all HealthKit-enabled apps were pulled from the App Store due to a major HealthKit bug, and the fix for that issue, iOS 8.0.1, brought its own bugs, disabling cellular service and Touch ID for thousands of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users.

iOS 8.0.2 fixed the problems introduced with iOS 8.0.1 and brought several other bug fixes, and with iOS 8.1 fixing even more issues with iOS 8, the operating system is far more stable now than it was in the days following its release.


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Apple VP Greg Joswiak Apologizes for iOS 8.0.1 Bug, Points to Software Distribution as Cause
Apple's VP of iPhone marketing, Greg Joswiak, sat down for an interview with Re/code's Ina Fried and Walt Mossberg this afternoon, discussing iPhone 6 and 6 Plus supply, the flawed iOS 8.0.1 update, Apple Pay, and the Apple Watch.

According to Joswiak, the major iOS 8.0.1 bug that caused many iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users to lose access to both cellular service and Touch ID was caused by the software distribution rather than a flaw in the software. "It wasn't the software itself, it was the way it was distributed, said Joswiak. "We're very sorry."

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The iOS 8.0.1 bug surfaced shortly after the software was first released, bricking many iPhone 6 and 6 devices. Apple pulled the update a few hours later, directed users to downgrade to iOS 8, and released iOS 8.0.2 to fix the problem the next day.

On the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Joswiak echoed a statement made by Tim Cook during Apple's recent earnings call, saying that while he's not sure which iPhone had higher demand, Apple is selling everything that it makes. According to Joswiak, Apple's goal isn't to sell the most iPhones, but to provide a better experience.

Repeating much of what Tim Cook had to say on Apple Pay and the situation with Rite Aid/CVS, Joswiak commented that retailers aiming to be successful will accept the way customers want to pay. He went on to state that Apple is focused on improving mobile payments for consumers, minimizing the amount of personal data shared and keeping that data safe from hackers.

Some of Joswiak's final comments were on the Apple Watch. When Mossberg implied that the Apple Watch could cost thousands of dollars, Joswiak told the audience that a wider price range allows customers to choose the best option for them.

Update:Re/code has uploaded an excerpt video from Joswiak's interview.




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Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Apple Over 2011 MacBook Pro Graphics Issues
Back in January, we highlighted graphics issues being experienced by a number of owners of 2011 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro models, with many users needing to pay for (sometimes multiple) expensive logic board replacements due to the issue. The apparent widespread nature of the issue has led to claims that it is a manufacturing defect that should be covered by Apple, with a change.org petition seeking relief from Apple now exceeding 20,000 signatures and affected users organizing in a Facebook group of over 5,000 members.

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We noted in August that law firm Whitfield Bryson & Mason LLP had begun researching the issue, soliciting feedback from affected users to determine whether a class action lawsuit against Apple might be warranted. The firm apparently found sufficient reason to proceed as it has announced today that it has indeed filed suit against Apple on behalf of affected consumers.
Our firm recently filed a class-action lawsuit in a California federal court against Apple, Inc. on behalf of residents in the States of California and Florida who purchased 2011 MacBook Pro Laptops with AMD GPUs who experienced graphical distortions and system failures.
The firm is continuing to solicit feedback from affected users and is considering filing actions in other jurisdictions around the country.

The lawsuit lays out the plaintiffs' argument that the issues stem from hardware defects related to the lead-free solder used on the AMD graphics chips in the 2011 MacBook Pro models.
When the lead-free solder cracks it degrades the data flow between the GPU and the logic board. A small crack can cause the laptop’s graphics to become distorted on occasion. But as cracks in the lead-free solder propagate over time, the graphics issues worsen and system stability decreases, until eventually the computer is completely unusable. This defect related to the lead-free solder connecting the GPU to the logic board (the “Graphics Defect”) limits all computers at the point of sale forward from performing as advertised and warranted.
The suit goes on to note that Apple's only solution offered for the issue is complete logic board replacement, but that the remedy is ineffective as replacement parts use the same solder and fail in the same way, sometimes within days. Apple has also in many cases charged consumers for the repairs and has refused requests to reimburse consumers for repairs paid for out of pocket.

Drawing parallels to similar graphics issues in the 2008 MacBook Pro that ultimately resulted in a recall by Apple, the plaintiffs in this case request that Apple acknowledge a defect in the 2011 MacBook Pro models, notify owners of the issue, bear the costs of inspection of affected machines, and pay the full costs of repairs and damages. The suit also requests that users who have paid out of pocket for repairs be reimbursed for their expenses.


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FTC Sues AT&T Over 'Misleading' Unlimited Data Throttling Practices [Updated]
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of the United States today filed a federal court complaint against AT&T, accusing the carrier of misleading its smartphone customers by charging them for unlimited data while reducing their data speeds by up to 90 percent.

According to the FTC, AT&T did not adequately explain to customers with unlimited data plans that they would be throttled if they reached a certain amount of data during a billing cycle. AT&T also did not inform customers of the throttling when they renewed their unlimited contracts.

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"AT&T promised its customers 'unlimited' data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "The issue here is simple: 'unlimited' means unlimited."
AT&T ceased offering unlimited data plans to customers several years ago, but has allowed Grandfathered customers to retain those plans. AT&T implemented throttling shortly after eliminating its unlimited data plans, initially restricting throttling to only its highest usage customers but later capping data for everyone on an unlimited plan. Currently, customers on unlimited plans are able to use 5GB of LTE data or 3GB of 3G data, after which AT&T throttles their data speeds.

The FTC alleges that AT&T throttled customers who had used as little as 2GB of data beginning in 2011, and that the throttling is severe, "resulting in speed reductions of 80 to 90 percent for affected users." AT&T is said to have throttled 3.5 million customers more than 25 million times, violating the FTC Act in the process.

Update 11:15 AM PT: AT&T has given a statement to MacRumors in response to the FTC's "baffling" complaint, stating that the allegations are "baseless" and that it has been "completely transparent" with customers.
"The FTC's allegations are baseless and have nothing to do with the substance of our network management program. It's baffling as to why the FTC would choose to take this action against a company that, like all major wireless providers, manages its network resources to provide the best possible service to all customers, and does it in a way that is fully transparent and consistent with the law and our contracts.

"We have been completely transparent with customers since the very beginning. We informed all unlimited data-plan customers via bill notices and a national press release that resulted in nearly 2,000 news stories, well before the program was implemented. In addition, this program has affected only about 3% of our customers, and before any customer is affected, they are also notified by text message."



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iPad Air 2 Material Costs Hold Steady Starting at $275, but New Storage Tiers Erode Profit Margin
As it always does with Apple's major new iOS devices, research firm IHS iSuppli has torn down the new iPad Air 2 in an attempt to estimate Apple's component costs for the device (via Re/code). According to IHS iSuppli's estimates, the 16 GB iPad Air 2 costs Apple roughly $275 to build, just one dollar more than last year's iPad Air.

ipad_air_2_teardown_ihs
The report unsurprisingly points out that Apple benefits from stronger profit margins as users move to higher capacity models, with Apple paying only about $50 more for 128 GB of storage compared to the base 16 GB configuration while charging users $200 for the upgrade. Still, Apple's move to eliminate the 32 GB option and slide the 64 GB and 128 GB models down $100 has slightly eroded Apple's profit margins at the top end.
The latest report from the research firm IHS, due later today and shared exclusively with Re/code, shows that the base model of the iPad Air 2, the 16-GB Wi-Fi version, which sells for a price of $499, costs $275 to build, exactly one dollar higher than the previous base model. The top-end model, the 128-GB LTE version costs which sells for $829 costs $358.

Apple’s implied profit margin on the iPad Air 2 has dropped slightly to a range for 45 percent to 57 percent depending on the device, compared with the original at 45 percent to 61 percent.
Many of the components have remained the same between the iPad Air and the iPad Air 2, with Apple's use of essentially the same display unit allowing the company to reduce costs of that component from $90 to $77. But with Apple's move to bond the display to the device's cover glass and the addition of a new antireflective coating, the same display offers a significantly better user experience.

Other changes include the move to a powerful new A8X chip currently unique to the iPad Air 2, and improved cameras that have resulted in slightly higher component costs.

As always, it is important to note the estimates from IHS iSuppli cover only the cost of the individual components that make up the device and do not include other costs involved in product development, manufacturing, and sales, such as research and development, software, patent licenses, marketing, and distribution expenditures. All of these costs contribute to significantly reduce Apple's true profit margin from the levels cited by IHS, but the basic component cost remains an interesting glimpse at how Apple brings everything together to consistently hit its retail pricing goals.


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More Details on Next Version of Office for Mac Include Planned Launch in First Half of 2015
Following yesterday's leak of several screenshots from the next version of Microsoft's Outlook for Mac, Chinese site cnBeta now shares much more information [Google Translate] about the upcoming version of Microsoft's productivity suite for Mac.

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The report shares several presentation slides outlining some of the features of the next Office for Mac, as well as a timeline showing a planned release sometime in the first half of 2015. Microsoft team members had previously suggested the suite would launch this year.

The slides point to four key focus areas for Microsoft during the development cycle of the next Office for Mac, including a modernized look with full Retina support to match the OS X aesthetic while still aligning the experience with Office for Windows, improved connectivity with cloud services including Office 365 and SkyDrive (OneDrive), significant improvements to Outlook, and the addition of OneNote, which appeared as a standalone release earlier this year.

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(Click for larger)

Taking a quick look at some of the changes to the core Office apps, the slides address the addition of the Quick Access Toolbar from the Windows version throughout the upcoming Mac suite, improved organization of tools and formatting, new support for Excel 2013 functions, Threaded Comments and improved Presenter View for PowerPoint, and enhanced Reply Comments and "Expand and Collapse" paragraph view toggles in Word.

Microsoft Office for Mac has not seen a major update since late 2010, when Office for Mac 2011 was released as a comparable version of Office 2010 for Windows. But while Windows saw the release of Office 2013 early last year, no corresponding version of Office for Mac has yet been released. The next version of Office for Windows is similarly expected in the spring of next year.


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Apple's 2014 Annual Report: Insight on Employee Numbers, Sales Growth, Retail Stores, and More
Apple today filed its 2014 10-K annual report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, offering a look at how the company has grown over the past year. Among the interesting details included in the report:

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- The iTunes Store generated a total of $10.2 billion in net sales during 2014, up from $9.3 billion in 2013. Apple credits the growth to an increase in revenue from app sales, but acknowledged that digital music sales were in decline and partially offset the growth.

- Apple noted that it now has 92,600 full-time equivalent employees, up from 80,300 at the end of fiscal 2013. The majority of that growth was outside of the company's retail division, which grew by 3,400 to 46,200 full-time equivalent employees.

- Apple's store count increased by 21 during fiscal 2014, with average revenue per store increasing slightly to $50.6 million from $50.2 million in 2013. As noted during its earnings conference call last week, Apple expects to open 25 new retail stores in fiscal 2015 with most of those stores being outside of the United States. Apple is also planning to remodel five of its existing stores.

- Apple spent a total of $6.0 billion on research and development in fiscal 2014, up significantly from the $4.5 billion spent last year. That amount contributed towards the company's efforts to "develop new technologies to enhance existing products and to expand the range of its product offerings." As noted by the Financial Times, Apple's $6.0 billion investment is the highest level relative to revenues since 2007, which is the year that the iPhone was released.

- Real estate holdings increased slightly, with Apple now owning or leasing 19.7 million square feet of building space, up from 19.1 million square feet at the end of 2013. Apple says that most of the building space is in the United States, and is expanding its existing office space and customer support call center in Austin, Texas. Work also continues on the company's new campus in Cupertino, which is once again said to contain an estimated 3.6 million square feet of space.

- Apple is expecting its capital expenditures to rise to $13.0 billion in 2015, up from the $11.0 billion spent in 2014. $600 million of that amount will be allocated towards retail store facilities, while $12.4 billion will be used for other expenditures including manufacturing process equipment, data centers, and product tooling.

Apple's annual report, which is mostly targeted at investors and regulators, contains a number of other details about the company's operations. The report also provides an analysis of current product lines and addresses topics like executive compensation, investments, taxes, and more.


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Apple Had More Than 1 Million Card Activations During First 72 Hours of Apple Pay
applepayheroDuring the first 72 hours that Apple Pay was available, Apple saw more than one million credit and debit card activations, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook who took the stage today at the WSJ.D conference in Laguna Beach, California.

Cook himself told the audience that he used Apple Pay himself at Whole Foods after the service launched, commenting on how easy it was. "You're no longer fishing for your credit card," he said. "It's the first mobile payments system that's easy, secure, and private."

According to Cook, the early ramp of Apple Pay "looks fantastic," and though it's only been available for a short time, Apple Pay accounts for more mobile wallets in the U.S, than all other mobile payment options combined.

During the interview, Cook commented on CVS, Rite Aid, and other retailers' decisions to opt out of Apple Pay, saying that "over the long arc of time" retailers will need to do what shoppers want. Ahead of launching Apple Pay, Cook says Apple looked at multiple other payment solutions available on the market and didn't find any of them to be easier than using a wallet.

Retailers, he believes, will ultimately adopt Apple Pay because it's the more secure option, able to prevent fraud incidents like the breaches experienced by Target, Home Depot, Staples, and more, in recent months. Cook reiterated that Apple Pay is secure and that Apple is not collecting data on its customers. "We're not big brother. We'll leave that to others."


Cook also commented on Apple's wider privacy policy, saying "Your data is yours" and reiterating that Apple is not in the business of monitoring its users. Apple does not keep iMessage data or retain search history.

"If law enforcement wants something, they should go to the user to get it," he said. According to Cook, it is up to users, not Apple, to choose whether or not it's okay for the government to access their data. "We're designing a Fort Knox kind of thing."

During the interview, Cook also spoke on the Apple Watch, stating that he expects users to will need to charge it on a daily basis, and he commented on the iPod classic, revealing that the company could no longer source parts for the device. An official rough transcript of Cook's comments during the interview can be found over at The Wall Street Journal.


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Tim Cook on Apple Watch: 'You're Going to Wind Up Charging It Daily'
Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage today at the WSJ.D conference in Laguna Beach, California, where he commented on an array of topics including the Apple Watch, Apple Pay, Apple TV, and more.

Unsurprisingly, Cook said that Apple is "excited" about the upcoming launch of the Apple Watch, and he's impressed that Jony Ive and his team had the foresight to understand that "something you wear has to be personal" and that it can't be "geeky."

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Cook divulged some new information on the Apple Watch's battery, which has previously gone unmentioned by Apple. Cook says that people will use it so much that it will need to be charged on a daily basis. "You're going to wind up charging it daily," he said, declining to provide a specific battery life for the device as Apple is still examining how people use it.

Battery life on the Apple Watch has been in question since long before the device launched, with early reports suggesting Apple was having trouble getting the device to last longer than a day. While the company was originally aiming to have the Apple Watch last three to four days, it appears that battery life may be closer to the iPhone's battery life, requiring a charge on a nightly basis. Apple employees have also suggested that the device may only last for a full day of usage, which is why Apple designed an easy charging system.

The Apple Watch connects to a magnetic charger that's much like the MagSafe chargers supplied with the Mac, snapping easily to the back of the device. High-end versions of the Apple Watch even ship in a luxury box that doubles as a charging stand. Apple likely has not commented officially on the Apple Watch battery as it is continuing to finalize the software for the device ahead of its early 2015 launch.


An official rough transcript of Cook's comments during the interview, which also covered the Mac, the iPhone, Apple's taxes in Ireland, plans for a low cost iPhone, and Cook's thoughts on Carl Icahn, can be found over at The Wall Street Journal, and a second comprehensive live blog from Fast Company's Harry McCracken also has details on exactly what Cook shared during the conversation.


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T-Mobile's John Legere Talks Apple SIM, iPhone 6 Demand, and Landing the iPhone
T-Mobile CEO John Legere today took the stage at Re/code's Code/Mobile event in Half Moon Bay, California, where he spoke on the new Apple SIM, demand for the iPhone 6 Plus, and the importance of selling the iPhone.

According to Legere, the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus was T-Mobile's biggest phone launch the company had ever seen, and Legere called demand for the iPhone 6 Plus "mind blowing." He said that it skewed very differently from what the company anticipated, and while he couldn't comment on the current demand ratio, he said at one point it was around 55/45 rather than the 75/25 or 80/20 projected in favor of the iPhone 6. Legere said that while the backlog is coming down, it will be awhile before the company is able to provide devices to everyone.

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While on stage, Legere sorted out much of the confusion surrounding the Apple SIM, which is designed to allow users to easily switch from carrier to carrier with their iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3. According to Legere, when bought from Apple, the SIM card in the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 offers customers complete flexibility, letting them choose Sprint, T-Mobile, or AT&T.

iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 devices that Apple sent to T-Mobile and AT&T for sale include Apple SIMs that are pre-coded to each carrier, which means the SIM cards can't be used interchangeably. Because the iPads purchased directly from Apple are usable with any participating carrier (Verizon has opted out), Legere recommends that users purchase the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 directly from an Apple Store.

Apple SIMs from an iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 purchased from the Apple Store and then associated with a T-Mobile plan will remain unlocked and usable with other carrier plans, but an Apple SIM activated on an AT&T plan will be permanently locked to the carrier, requiring a new Apple SIM if a user wants to switch plans.

Legere also commented on the importance of the iPhone, stating that "[a] store without the iPhone is sh*t," and attributing much of T-Mobile's recent success to its partnership with Apple. Legere noted one of his tasks upon taking the reins of T-Mobile two years ago was to do whatever it took to land the iPhone, and he accomplished it, noting that he was willing to "get down on his knees" to make a deal happen.


Full interview with John Legere (Caution: some strong language)

Just ahead of Legere's appearance at Code/Mobile, T-Mobile announced its Q3 2014 earnings, noting that it saw its biggest growth quarter in the company's history. T-Mobile added 2.3 million customers during the quarter (1.4 million postpaid net adds), with revenue up 10.6 percent to $5.7 billion. T-Mobile also announced that it hit its LTE goals for 2014, bringing LTE service to 250 million customers.

Since 2013, T-Mobile has been on a quest to revamp the mobile industry with a series of Un-carrier initiatives that have thus far seen it uncoupling device fees from service charges, encouraging customers to switch to T-Mobile by paying early termination fees, offering a JUMP! upgrade plan, providing unlimited texting and 2G data in 100 countries, letting customers test drive an iPhone at no cost, offering free streaming music, and bringing Wi-Fi calling to all T-Mobile customers with compatible devices.


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Amazon Launches $39 'Fire TV Stick' to Compete With Chromecast, Apple TV
Amazon today announced the launch of a new Fire TV Stick, designed to compete with Google's Chromecast and Apple's Apple TV. The Fire TV Stick is a media streaming stick much like the Chromecast, designed to allow users to plug it in to the HDMI port of a television to access content like TV shows, movies, games, and more.

The Fire TV Stick offers a dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of built-in storage, and dual-band/dual-antenna MIMO Wi-Fi. It can be controlled with a remote control, a smartphone, or voice control through an app. According to Amazon, it offers 50 percent more processing power than the Chromecast, along with 2x the memory and 32 times more storage.

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"Fire TV Stick is the most powerful streaming media stick available--a dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, dual-band and dual-antenna Wi-Fi, included remote control, voice search with our free mobile app, easy set-up, an open ecosystem, and exclusive features like ASAP for instant streaming," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. "The team has packed an unbelievable amount of power and selection into an incredible price point--Fire TV Stick is just $39."
In addition to allowing users to access Amazon Prime content, the Fire TV Stick also supports third-party apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, Spotify, Pandora, and more, delivering much of the content that's also available on competing products like the Chromecast, the Apple TV, and products from Roku.

The Fire Stick offers "Fling" technology, letting users switch between viewing content on their televisions and Fire Phone or Fire tablet, and it provides wireless mirroring from both compatible Amazon products and those that support Miracast. It also supports various Amazon technologies like X-Ray for looking up movie, music, or TV show information, and it utilizes Whispersync to sync all of a user's content.

Amazon also has the Fire TV, a set-top media streaming box that's a closer competitor to the Apple TV than the Fire TV stick, but the slimmed down plug in-based media sticks from Amazon and Google are far cheaper than the Apple TV, which still costs $99.

While Google and Amazon have concentrated on offering a slimmer portable media solution to consumers, Apple is said to be working on a revamped set-top box that might include support for third-party apps and games along with deeper integration with cable TV channels. It is unclear when Apple might launch its revised set top box, as development has reportedly been delayed several times over the course of the last two years.

Amazon's Fire TV Stick is priced at $39, but for the next two days, Amazon Prime members will be able to purchase the device at a discounted price of $19.


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Apple Responds to CVS/Rite Aid Controversy: 'Overwhelmingly Positive' Response, Working to Add Merchants
Last week, news surfaced that popular drugstore Rite Aid was disabling support for NFC and Apple Pay in its retail stores and over the weekend, CVS followed in its footsteps. Apple has now commented on the situation, telling Business Insider that it's working to get as many merchants on board with Apple Pay as it can.
The feedback we are getting from customers and retailers about Apple Pay is overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic. We are working to get as many merchants as possible to support this convenient, secure and private payment option for consumers. Many retailers have already seen the benefits and are delighting their customers at over 220,000 locations.
Both CVS and Rite Aid are members of Merchant Customer Exchange or MCX, a team of retailers that are designing their own payments system to compete with Apple Pay.

applepaysetup1
Headed up by Walmart, which has also publicly stated that it won't be supporting Apple Pay, MCX is composed of several different retail outlets and restaurants, including Best Buy, Lowe's, Old Navy, Southwest, Target, 7 Eleven, Dunkin Donuts, Hobby Lobby, and more.

MCX's payment solution, CurrentC, is currently in testing in Minnesota and takes a decidedly different approach to mobile payments. CurrentC does not use NFC, instead basing payments around the scanning of QR codes with a smartphone camera. CurrentC is highly beneficial to merchants, but appears to be of questionable value to customers given that it requires both a social security number and a driver's license number, along with access to a bank account.

Despite only being available in Minnesota at the time being, MCX's CurrentC app has received hundreds of negative reviews from Apple Pay supporters. Android and iOS users on reddit have also teamed up to call for a boycott on all MCX partners, as disabling NFC support to prevent Apple Pay purchases also disables Android-based payment solutions like Google Wallet.

Though quite a few big name retailers have opted out of Apple Pay, Apple has signed on with several major partners including Macy's, Chevron, Disney, McDonald's, Nike, Petco, Whole Foods, and more. Apple Pay is accepted at the retail stores of any of its partners, and at any store that accepts NFC payments.

Update 6:55 PM PT: Walmart, one of the major retailers behind MCX, has given Business Insider a statement on why it has opted not to accept Apple Pay, stating that it believes merchants are in the "best position" to create a mobile payment service for consumers.
There are certainly a lot of compelling technologies being developed, which is great for the mobile-commerce industry as a whole. Ultimately, what matters is that consumers have a payment option that is widely accepted, secure and developed with their best interests in mind. MCX member merchants already collectively serve a majority of Americans every day. MCX’s members believe merchants are in the best position to provide a mobile solution because of their deep insights into their customers’ shopping and buying experiences.



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New Version of Outlook for Mac Leaked in Screenshots, Release Date Still Unclear
Earlier this year, rumors suggested that Microsoft was preparing to launch a new version of Office for Mac in 2014, and now images of what is said to be a new version of Outlook have surfaced on Chinese site cnBeta [Google Translate], suggesting Microsoft is drawing closer to releasing updated Mac Office software.

Depicting "Outlook for Mac 16," the images show a new version of Outlook that's been updated with a new OS X Yosemite-style look, adopting translucent menu elements and a flatter overall design. The interface takes on a "simple, modern style," according to cnBeta, which is "more intuitive" and it includes support for Retina displays much like Office 2011 for Mac.

outlookformac16
The design is said to be more unified with both the Windows version of Office and the iPad version, making it easier to switch between platforms. The new Office for Mac and Outlook for Mac are said to take advantage of cloud file sharing, allowing users to swap between devices and to collaborate on projects. It's also much simpler to share documents with an entire team and Outlook for Mac will integrate with OS X Yosemite's Notification Center.

outlook_mac_16_calendar
Microsoft's last major Office for Mac release came in October of 2010, more than four years ago, and there's been little information about an updated version of the software since then.

A presentation given earlier this year by Thorsten Hübschen, Business Group Lead at Microsoft Germany, suggested that Microsoft would debut a new version of its Office productivity suite for the Mac in 2014, and a Microsoft representative later confirmed that employees were "hard at work" on the next version of Office for Mac.

But with this leaked version of Outlook reportedly carrying the version 16 label and Microsoft only nearing a public preview of Office 16 for Windows ahead of a launch next year, the company's plans are somewhat unclear. Mac versions of Office typically follow their Windows counterparts by only a few months, but it has been two years since the launch of Office 2013 for Windows (version 15) and a corresponding Mac version has yet to appear.


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