Thursday, May 28, 2015

Target Plans to Offer Apple Pay After Chip-and-PIN Card Upgrade

Target CEO Brian Cornell spoke at Re/code's Code Conference in Palos Verdes, California today, where he confirmed that the company plans to offer in-store support for Apple Pay in the future. According to Cornell, while he'd love to have Apple Pay available "right now," support will not be coming until Target upgrades its system to support integrated circuit credit cards to comply with new standards. 

Integrated circuit cards (or chip-and-PIN cards) replace the magnetic stripe on a credit card or debit card with an embedded microchip. The microchip communicates with a supported point-of-sale system to authenticate transactions. Chip-and-PIN cards are already used in many countries around the world because they're believed to be more secure than traditional credit cards. In the United States, retailers are being encouraged to adopt point-of-sale systems that support chip cards by the end of 2015. 

Target is especially eager to move to a more secure transaction system following a major data breach in late 2013 that saw hackers obtaining payment information for approximately 40 million of its customers. The move is a major transition for Target, and Cornell says he doesn't want to "distract the team" with work on other payment systems.

"Our focus is on getting chip-and-PIN in place in time for the holidays," Cornell said at the second annual Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. "Down the line we want to accept all the types of payments that our guests want. But this decision was all about focus. ... It is a major undertaking to convert to chip-and-PIN, and I decided that we can't distract the team."
Cornell says he has met with Apple CEO Tim Cook, and once the chip-and-PIN transition is completed, Target will be "open-minded" about supporting additional payment systems like Apple Pay. Target already supports Apple Pay in its iOS app.

Google Announces Android 'M' Developer Preview, Android Pay and Free Unlimited Photo Storage

Google today previewed Android "M," the next major version of its mobile operating system featuring Android Pay for mobile payments, app permissions, an improved web experience with Chrome Custom Tabs, app linking, Doze power management, USB-C support, direct sharing, simplified volume controls and a handful of other incremental improvements and bug fixes. 

Google also announced free unlimited high-quality photo (16MP) and video (1080p) photo storage through a new service aptly named Google Photos for iOS, Android and the web, contextual information and a new "Now on Tap" feature for Google Now, and an "Internet of Things" operating system and HomeKit rival called "Project Brillo" for devices like thermostats and lightbulbs. 
googleioandroidmAndroid M prompts users with app permissions when access is required to certain elements of the operating system, including the microphone, location services, camera, contacts, phone, SMS, calendar and sensors. The new software version also features app linking, with verified links automatically redirecting to their related app without a cumbersome dialog popping up.

Android M delivers an improved web experience with Chrome Custom Tabs, which function as a Chrome web view overlaid in third-party apps with prefetched content. Google partnered with Pinterest, for example, to integrate Chrome Custom Tabs, providing all of Chrome's benefits such as signing in, saved passwords, autofill and multi-process security. Chrome Custom Tabs are available on the Chrome developer channel today and in Q3 for the public. 

Doze is a new power and charging management system built into Android M that tracks your device sync activity and exponentially blocks background app activity when possible for up to double the amount of standby battery life, based on a side-by-side test of a Nexus 9 running Android Lollipop and Android "M" Developer Preview. 

Google also briefly announced several other features of Android M, including USB-C support, simplified volume controls, improved Bluetooth low energy scanning, support for seven additional languages, unified Google and device settings, direct sharing and more. Android M is available today as a developer preview for the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player and in Q3 for the public. 

Android Pay 
androidpayAndroid Pay, essentially a rebranded and improved version of Google Wallet, is an NFC-based mobile payments service with virtually identical functionality as Apple Pay. Android Pay keeps payment information secure by generating a virtual account number and requiring fingerprint authentication for secure identification. 

Android users can add their supported credit and debit cards to the Android Pay app and easily tap to pay at over 700,000 retailers and businesses that accept contactless payments, such as American Eagle, Bloomingdale's, McDonald's, Macy's, Staples, Target and Walgreens. Android Pay can also be used for in-app purchases in supported apps. 

Google announced that four major credit card companies in American Express, MasterCard, Visa and Discover will support Android Pay, alongside major financial institutions and AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile in the United States. More partners should be added in the future. 

Project Brillo 

Brillo is a slimmed-down version of Android that's designed to power the Internet of things. It's an operating system that will be made available to manufacturers, who can build it into devices like thermostats and lightbulbs. It includes support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. 
googleioprojectbrilloWeave goes along with Brillo and serves as a communications layer that allows Internet of things devices to talk to one another. With Weave, Brillo devices, smartphones, tablets, and the Internet can communicate. Weave is cross-platform, so it can work with non-Android devices, and Android devices can auto-detect Brillo and Weave devices. Brillo will be available to devs in Q3, while Weave will be available in Q4. 

Google Now 

Google announced a new feature for Google Now in Android M: Now on Tap. With Now on Tap, you can tap on the home button of an Android device to get more information about what's on the screen. 
googleiogooglenowFor example, when listening to music in Spotify, if you tap and hold on the home button and ask a question about the artist, Google Now understands the context and will reply. When tapping on the home button, Google Now is able to read the content of any app that's running and bring up relevant, contextually aware Google Now cards. Apps don't need to implement support -- it works automatically. 

Another example: On stage, a chat window with a discussion about laundry and a restaurant was brought up. A tap on the home button brought up a to-do card and cards for Maps, Yelp, and OpenTable. 

Google Photos 

Google announced a new Photos app centered around three ideas: a "home" for all your photos, deep organization, and sharing. Google Photos includes unlimited high-quality photo (16MP) and video (1080p) storage at no cost. It's launching today on Android, iOS, and web. 
Google PhotosGoogle Photos backs up all photos from an Android device, much like iCloud Photo Library. The smartphone app looks quite similar to the Photos app on the iPhone, supporting a main view with all photos with pinch gesture controls for zooming in and out on albums and timelines. 

Google Photos includes auto-organization that organizes photos by people and place. Its facial recognition capabilities are impressive, able to recognize a person even as that person ages. A Photos Assistant feature automatically creates GIFs and videos from your content, which you can share or delete. Sharing is simple -- you can group multiple photos and instantly get a link that lets other people see the images. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Apple Store App Gains Postmates Integration With Same-Day Delivery

Apple is now offering same-day delivery of certain products in its Apple Store app, through a partnership with Postmates. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Apple Store app is offering a same day delivery option on products that are available in local Apple Stores. 

For example, ordering an Apple TV in the San Francisco Bay Area results in a four-hour same-day delivery window, as does an order for a Lightning cable. In some areas, like San Francisco, delivery turnaround times are as fast as an hour, but for some products, delivery times can take up to a day. 
deliverstodaypostmatesapplestoreCustomers who have Postmates delivery options available to them will see same-day delivery options listed whenever they search for a product that is available for purchase in a nearby Apple Store. After an order is placed, the Apple Store app offers live tracking options that let customers know where an item is and track it as it progresses from the Apple Store to the delivery location. The app also delivers notifications with estimated delivery times and tracking information. 
postmatecouriertrackingapplestoreCustomers who do not live in an area where Postmates delivers will not see same-day delivery options for Apple products, instead receiving only standard shipment delivery times without an option for Courier Delivery. 

Apple products have long been available for order through Postmates' own iOS app, but this is the first time that Apple's offered same-day delivery on orders in its own Apple Store app. All deliveries carry a $19 fee, regardless of item price. 

Postmates operates in several major U.S. cities, including San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Atlanta, Denver, San Diego, Orange County, Portland, Phoenix, Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Minneapolis, and Charlotte, but it appears that Postmates deliveries for Apple Store app orders may be limited in scope for the time being, available only in the San Francisco Bay Area. 
postmatestracking

Apple Confirms WWDC 2015 Keynote to Be Held Monday, June 8 at 10 AM PT

Apple Confirms WWDC 2015 Keynote to Be Held Monday, June 8 at 10 AM PT



Apple revealed the schedule for next month's Worldwide Developers Conference this morning, and as its done in past years, Apple will kick things off with a keynote on Monday, June 8 at 10 AM PT (1PM ET). While many have believed the conference would start with the keynote, Apple WWDC app update today confirms it. Apple also began sending media invites out to select journalists and members of the press, confirming the event's date and time.

The keynote will likely be led by Apple CEO Tim Cook, with SVPs Craig Federighi and Phil Schiller (if theres new hardware). Similar to last year, Apple is teasing developers with over a 170 secret TBA developer sessions. The title of the sessions are most likely secret because they rely on some information that will be announced at the keynote (software or hardware).

WWDC 15 is expected to be jam packed with new iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 announcements. Both betas are expected to go live on Monday for developers. Additionally, Apple's Music Streaming service is rumored to be announced as well as an entirely revamped Apple TV box and service. 


This Text Message Can Crash Any iPhone

This Text Message Can Crash Any iPhone [Video]



A bug in the way iOS handles certain unicode text causes the iPhone to crash when receiving a message. The string of text has been making its way around the Internet after it was first discovered on Reddit earlier this afternoon.

effective. 
Power
لُلُصّبُلُلصّبُررً ॣ ॣh ॣ ॣ


If you send the string of text to anyone with an iPhone, the device will respring and reboot. Jailbroken users will be forced in Safe Mode. If the Messages app was opened to the list view, then the Messages app will become useless as opening it will always result in a crash. 

Oddly enough, if you have the conversation window open already and receive the text, the phone will not crash; therefore, in order for the crash to work, the user must not have the conversation thread open (the crash works everywhere else including the lock screen, notification center, and banners).

Speculation on Reddit leads many to believe the bug is caused by the way iOS process unicode text, specifically in notification banners. The banner reportedly attempts to present the incoming text and then "gives up" thus causing the crash.

If you're stuck with your Messages app constantly crashing after receiving the text there are a couple of fixes. Most involve sending a message outside of the messages app (through Share sheets or through Siri). Below are two examples of ways to solve the issue: 

1) Launch the photos app, send a random photo to the person who sent you the text, then go into iMessage and delete the conversation. 

2) Use Siri to send a message to the person who just sent you the string. After Siri confirms and sends the message, open the Messages app and the problem should be resolved. 

To prevent anyone from restarting your iPhone through the message again, you can turn off alert/banner message previews, or completely turn off message notification banners (Settings > Notifications > Message).

No word on how long this bug has been present in iOS but we're sure Apple will release a fix Soon.