Saturday, October 25, 2014

CVS Stores Reportedly Disabling NFC to Shut Down Apple Pay and Google Wallet

Earlier this week, pharmacy chain Rite Aid shut down unofficial support for the Apple Pay and Google Wallet mobile payments systems, resulting in an outcry from users who have been testing out Apple's new system since its launch on Monday. Rite Aid was not an official Apple Pay partner, but the payments system generally works with existing near field communications (NFC) payment terminals anyway, and many users had had success using Apple Pay at Rite Aid stores early in the week. 

It now appears that fellow major pharmacy chain CVS is following suit and as of today is shutting down the NFC functionality of its payment terminals entirely, a move presumably intended to thwart Apple Pay. Google Wallet services are obviously also being affected by the move. 

Multiple reports on Twitter  indicated that CVS has sent an email to its stores indicating that NFC support is to be turned off. It is still relatively early in the day in the U.S., but we are now starting to see reports of NFC indeed being turned off at CVS stores. 

The reason behind Rite Aid's and CVS's moves to disable unofficial Apple Pay support in their stores is presumably related to their participation in Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), a retailer group developing its own mobile payments system known as CurrentC. A claimed internal Rite Aid message shared with SlashGear supports this notion, instructing cashiers to explain to customers that Apple Pay is not supported but that MCX's solution will be available next year. 
Rite Aid internal memo regarding Apple Pay

Rite Aid's and CVS's moves are also in stark contrast to competitor Walgreens, which has fully embraced Apple Pay and is one of Apple's launch partners for the service. With over 8,000 stores around the United States, Walgreens has been one of the most popular locations for those testing out Apple Pay over the first week of availability.

Pangu Announces They're Working With Saurik to Make Cydia Stable for the iOS 8 Jailbreak

Saturday morning, the Pangu jailbreak team announced on their official Pangu Twitter account that they were working with Saurik to make Cydia compatible with iOS 8 and the latest version of Pangu, which means we're closer than ever to a jailbreak tool for iOS 8 that bundles Cydia up with the jailbreak.

The Tweet also details that they're working on killing bugs with Safari and iMessage. Users have reportedly been dealing with these problems among many others upon jailbreaking iOS 8.

Saurik released an iOS 8-compatible version of Cydia already, but the caveat is that users have to install it manually with an SFTP program, such as CyberDuck. It's also a rough draft of what Cydia will be on iOS 8, so more updates to polish the Cydia experience in iOS 8 are expected whenever the Pangu jailbreak team finally does bundle it all together to a public release.

The next major release of Pangu for Windows is expected to have not only Cydia, but also an English translation. In addition, the team is working on stability bug fixes, as well as a way to make the new Cydia Substrate more compatible with the jailbreak so that users won't have to always respring immediately after rebooting their devices. The tool will be Windows-only for now while the team focuses on fixing issues – a Mac OS X version of the tool will be available in the future.

We are continuing to monitor the situation, so stay tuned for the latest!

Sources: Pangu

Friday, October 24, 2014

AT&T is Locking Down the New Apple SIM After It's Activated on Their Network

AT&T is locking down the new Apple sim after it's activated on their network, notes T-Mobile CEO John Legere.

Here's how the Apple SIM is supposed to work:

The new Apple SIM is preinstalled on iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models. The Apple SIM gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the U.S. and UK right on your iPad. So whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you — with no long-term commitments. And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip.

Unfortunately, AT&T isn't supporting the interchangeability of this SIM card. If you try to activate an AT&T data plan you are presented with the following message:

"Once activation completes, this Apple SIM can only be used with "AT&T". You will need a new Apple SIM if you change carriers in the future."

T-Mobile and Sprint appear to be the only U.S. carriers to leave the SIM unlocked. Verizon isn't supporting it at all.

Apple acknowledges that some carriers may lock the SIM and says you can purchase another if need be from the Apple Store.

If your Apple SIM becomes dedicated to a specific network and you want to choose from other carrier programs, you can purchase a new Apple SIM from an Apple Retail store.

Read More [via MacRumors]

NFC-Equipped iPad Air 2 Sparks Speculation of Future Apple Pay Registers for Small Businesses

Earlier this week, a teardown analysisof the iPad Air 2 by iFixit surprisingly revealed the presence of a near field communications (NFC) controller chip that is identical to the one inside the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple never advertised the Air 2 as having NFC, and the tablet doesn't support contactless Apple Pay payments, so the inclusion of this chip is somewhat puzzling. 

In a new article, Gigaom examines the reasons why Apple might include but not activate this hardware in its tablet device, speculating that the chip may eventually serve to help small businesses process payments. 

Portion of iPad Air 2 logic board showing NFC chip boxed in red (Source: iFixit)

In this scenario, the iPad Air 2 would serve as a cash register, potentially using the onboard NFC chip to process wireless Apple Pay payments without any additional hardware. The iPad already is gaining traction with small retailers for use as a mobile register, often in conjunction with a credit card reader and processing service such as Square. But with Apple Pay rolling out as an NFC system for payments, Apple could be eventually be looking to help retailers accept such payments with its hardware.
The key to NFC in the iPad Air 2 is that it affords the possibility of becoming an Apple Pay cash register with no dongle needed. Conceivably, it could expand the number of outlets that take Apple Pay from around 40 to anyone selling stuff who owns the latest iPad. It brings Apple Pay out from the big box store and into farmers’ markets and boutiques.
Such a system would appear to complement rather than replace existing credit card implementations used by small businesses, as Apple Pay currently has only limited distribution through the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and retailers would still need to accept traditional credit and debit cards. Businesses also still require credit card processing arrangements through either a bank or a separate payment service such as Square. 

Apple Pay launched earlier this week with only A few hiccups in an otherwise smooth release. Early reports were favorable with most users noting that transactions were processed quickly and easily. Its biggest limitation is distribution, with only large chain launch partners officially accepting the payment service. But as Apple Pay evolves, it will be interesting to see whether the NFC-equipped iPad Air 2 and small businesses will play a bigger role in Apple's mobile payment plans.