Apple patent shows e-wallet program with controllable accounts for children

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 18th, 2013, 08:28
Category: iOS, News, Patents, Software

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This could be useful.

Per FreePatentsOnline, a recent patent application shows Apple’s idea for an “e-wallet” iPhone application that would allow subsidiary accounts for children, complete with customizable spending limits and restrictions.

Apple’s interest in the concept was revealed in a patent application published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office entitled “Parental Controls.” It describes ways that a user could establish rules for subsidiary financial accounts.

The proposed invention shows a hypothetical application on the iPhone home screen named “E-Wallet.” The software allows users to have a primary account tied to a credit card, allowing transactions to be conducted with an iPhone.

The key feature of the filing are the E-Wallet subsidiary accounts. By creating one, the user can allow new users, such as children, to have access to the E-Wallet app with controlled spending limits.

The customizable rules would allow a parent to set, for example, a weekly or monthly allowance for their children. The application would also enable parents to decline transactions if they are over a certain amount of money.

Parents could also restrict transactions from certain merchant categories, or even block sales to a specific merchant or location. In one example, the application is set to prevent the user from purchasing alcohol or tobacco with Apple’s iPhone e-wallet.

Illustrations included in Apple’s patent filing show that the concept for the E-Wallet application would include purchase history, bill summary, and the ability to search for specific transactions. The E-Wallet app would be driven by users’ existing credit cards, with numbers entered into the software to link them together.

The filing goes on to note that a future iPhone could have an integrated near-field communication chip to supplement the E-Wallet app. It notes that communication using the NFC component would occur in a range of 2 to 4 centimeters.

The proposed invention, published by the USPTO this week, is a continuation of a filing first made by Apple in January of 2009, and issued as U.S. Patent No. 8,127,982 in March of 2012. It is credited to Brandon J. Casey, Gary L. Wipfler, and Erik Cressall.

Not the worst idea in the world and please let us know what you think in the comments.

AT&T to enable FaceTime for tiered customers with compatible iOS devices

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 17th, 2013, 08:00
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, News, Software

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Nothing like a little competition to get the wireless carriers to try to beat each other’s offerings.

That and the FCC yelling at you to do it sort of helps.

Per the company’s blog, AT&T announced on Wednesday it will enable FaceTime over cellular at no extra cost to any customers with a tiered data plan and compatible iOS device.

The announcement was made on the carrier’s website by Mark Collins, senior vice president of voice and data products. The change means that iPhone 4S customers with tiered plans will be able to make FaceTime calls over the AT&T network.

“We have already begun updating our systems and processes and expect to start rolling the update out to customers on an ongoing basis beginning in the next couple of weeks,” Collins wrote. “Customers do not need to do anything — the update will be applied automatically over the next few months.”

FaceTime over cellular will not come to older devices such as the iPhone 4 or second-generation iPad, even if they are running iOS 6. But that’s because the hardware does not support mobile FaceTime connections — a decision made by Apple, not AT&T.

Previously, AT&T had restricted FaceTime over cellular to customers who had switched to its Mobile Share plans, as well as those with an LTE device, such as the iPhone 5 or latest iPad, on a tiered plan.

AT&T came under fire for its initial decision, and the company was compelled to defend itself in a statement claiming its plan complied with Federal Communications Commissions that prohibit carriers from blocking services that compete with their own. The carrier argued that its decision was in compliance because AT&T does not offer its own competing preloaded video chat application.

AT&T began quietly activating FaceTime over cellular for more subscribers in November. At the time, some users who had grandfathered unlimited data plans said they too were able to use FaceTime. However, Wednesday’s announcement indicated the ability will only extend to customers who have tiered data plans.

If you get a chance to try FaceTime over AT&T’s cellular connections and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple prepping iOS 6.1 beta, build expected to go Golden Master

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Date: Monday, January 14th, 2013, 07:51
Category: iOS, News, Software

Just the term, “golden master”, it pretty much sounds awesome.

Per German web site iFun, Apple is said to be internally testing a new beta of iOS 6.1 that is expected to be the golden master build, suggesting the software is nearly ready to be released to the public.

Citing a “reliable source,” the web site reported Friday that the fifth beta of iOS 6.1 is about to be released to developers. The software is said to have gone through “extensive internal testing,” and if all goes well it will be the golden master of the software.

The software is expected to be released to developers either on Friday or potentially on Monday.

Apple began supplying beta builds of iOS 6.1 to its development community in early November. To date, there have been four betas seeded, the most recent arriving in mid-December.

Changes in iOS 6.1 are mostly minor, with the most significant user-facing additions including the ability to purchase movie tickets through Fandango with Siri, and a new prompt that asks users to enter security questions for iCloud when setting up their device for the first time.

For developers, iOS 6.1 includes an enhanced Map Kit framework that will allow third-party applications to search for map-based addresses based on points of interest. For example, a user could search the term “coffee” and the new framework would return the location of local coffee bars along with information about each one.

iOS 6.1 builds released to date have been compatible with the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, and iPhone 3GS; fourth-, third-, and second-generation iPad; iPad mini; and fifth-and fourth-generation iPod touch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple acquisition of Waze reportedly “not happening” according to multiple sources

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Date: Friday, January 4th, 2013, 07:07
Category: iOS, News, Software

It was an interesting rumor while it lasted.

Per TechCrunch, multiple sources have indicated that Apple will not buy Waze. Author MG Siegler was reportedly told by multiple sources that “there is no deal happening… now or anytime soon.”

He suggested that the companies could have talked about a potential acquisition, but noted that larger companies talk with smaller companies about possible deals “on a daily basis.”

Initially, Mike Butcher reported on Wednesday that Apple was “sniffing around Waze.” A similar rumor also appeared on an Israeli website.

Waze is a popular iOS application that the company says has more than 30 million users. It allows users to share real-time information on traffic congestion, gas prices, accidents, speed traps, checkpoints and more.

The Waze application for iOS was highlighted by Apple in September as an alternative mapping option on the App Store. Apple began promoting competing applications after users complained that its new Maps application in iOS 6, which replaced Google Maps data with its own proprietary service, was substandard.

The poor perception of the new iOS Maps was originally believed to be a driving force behind Apple’s supposed interest in Waze, but with Thursday’s report it’s now said that such a deal will not be happening.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple in negotiations to purchase Waze map service

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 3rd, 2013, 10:16
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

When in doubt about your own technologies, maybe it’s time to go shopping.

Per TechCrunch and The Mac Observer, Apple is apparently deep in negotiations to buy the online map service Waze. Sources say the Mac, iPhone and iPad maker is willing to pay upwards of US$500 million for the company, although Waze is said to be holding out for US$750 million.

Waze’s twist on the online map and navigation market is social networking. The company gathers map data through users as they drive, and is seen as generally more accurate than some other online map services since users are contributing information daily. In contrast, Google’s Maps relies primarily on its own cars to gather data and street view photos.

Apple found itself with a marketing black eye after the release of iOS 6 in fall 2012 when it replaced Google’s Maps for its own service — a service that suffered from accuracy issues and missing location data. Apple responded with a public apology and a promise to “throw its weight” behind improving its Maps service.

The company also recently approved Google’s own mapping app for the iPhone, which brought back features missing from Apple’s own app such as public transportation information. With Google Maps available, competition in the navigation space ramped up a little, although Waze is apparently the only navigation app that gained serious traction after Apple released its own Maps app.

Apple also already has a working relationship with Waze since the company is providing some of the location data iOS 6 users rely on.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iOS 6 New Year’s Eve “Do Not Disturb” bug to auto-correct itself on Jan. 7th according to Apple

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Date: Thursday, January 3rd, 2013, 07:24
Category: iOS, News, Software

This is sort of an awkward thing, but Apple says it should resolve itself in four days’ time.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has posted a support document, informing users that a bug with the “Do Not Disturb” feature in iOS 6 will automatically be resolved after Jan. 7.

The document, published on Wednesday, acknowledges the “symptom” of the problem, in which the Do Not Disturb mode stays on past its scheduled end time. The bug went into effect with the start of the new year on Tuesday.

“Do Not Disturb scheduling feature will resume normal functionality after January 7, 2013,” Apple’s document reads. “Before this date, you should manually turn the Do Not Disturb feature on or off.”

Users can manually switch the automatic feature of Do Not Disturb on or off by opening the iOS Settings application, choosing “Notifications,” then “Do Not Disturb,” and switching “Scheduled.” Until next Monday, Jan. 7, the feature will not auto-enable or disable as it has done since the launch of iOS 6 in September.

The iPhone has a history of New Year’s bugs, with another issue arising at the start of 2011 that prevented non-repeating alarms from ringing. When the bug became known, Apple suggested that users set recurring alarms until Jan. 3 of that year, when the alarms automatically began working again properly.

If you’ve seen this bug on your end, please let us know.

Metropolitan Transit Authority releases train-locating app for iOS devices

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Date: Monday, December 31st, 2012, 08:10
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

If you live in the greatest city in the world, this can only help.

Per the Wall Street Journal, the Metropolitan Transit Authority on Friday released an iOS app that will let riders of seven train lines plan their trips to the minute, a first for the largest subway system in the U.S.



The official MTA Subway Time app uses train location data to provide iPhone and iPod touch owners with up-to-the-minute arrival times for seven of the system’s 24 lines.

The MTA spent 11 years and over US$228 million to install digital train-tracking sensors and relevant equipment required to serve up real-time location data. The iOS app taps into the system and feeds commuters with arrival times, though the service is available mostly aboveground as cellular extension networks planned for underground stations have yet to be completed. A large portion of the subway’s train location sensors date back fifty years, just before the proliferation of microprocessors and digital communications.

Among the first lines to get support for the new free service are Nos. 1 through 6 and the 42nd Street Shuttle. Two more lines, the L line between Brooklyn and Manhattan’s 14th Street and the No. 7 line between Queens and Midtown Manhattan, are currently being upgraded to be compatible with the new system. Updates to the L line are expected to be completed in six months to a year, while the No. 7 won’t be ready until at least 2016.

According to the app’s description, users will also be notified of service delays and reroutes prior to fare payment, a useful tool for on-the-go commuters.

Android and Windows Phone versions of the app are in the works, but unlike the iOS app, those will be built by third-party companies. The agency is also allowing developers access to the sensor data feeds, allowing app makers to build real-time tracking programs with more robust features than those offered by the official app.

MTA Subway Time for iOS is available now as a free download through the App Store and requires iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

Hacker cites iOS 6 code as becoming more secure, offering “tougher protections”

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Date: Wednesday, December 26th, 2012, 07:18
Category: iOS, News, security, Software

Hacking an iOS device may be getting tougher to do.

Per iPodNN, in a recent tweet, hacker i0n1c has revealed that the forthcoming iOS 6.1 update adds “again tougher protections” to the codebase even compared to iOS 6, suggesting that security has been dramatically improved.

While many users have perfectly legitimate reasons (beyond just wanting to) for jailbreaking their iOS devices, because the technique relies on finding an exploitable “hole” in the OS code that could also be used for malicious purposes, Apple is naturally very eager to close up avenues by which unofficial or dangerous code could be injected into the device — even though many “unofficial” apps are simply ones that were rejected by Apple for App Store guideline violations, mostly for altering core OS elements.

Closing down jailbreaking loopholes will also close off one of the principle sources of pirated apps, also giving Apple considerable incentive to cut off the practice. Holes in Android code are frequently used to install scamware, malware, privacy-compromising and even virus-ridden apps — a growing problem for Google, though the ability to heavily customize and “root” Android devices is a major selling point to the most technically-proficient of Android’s audience.

The hacker community believes that iOS 6 will eventually get an “untethered” (meaning “persistent through restarts”) jailbreak, but that iOS 6.1 may represent the end of the free jailbreaking road. The security may simply have reached a point where only those likely to sell any remaining exploit secrets are likely to be able to come up with any.

Apple has made security a top priority on iOS, since it is the only platform where malware is all but completely unknown. Many of the security improvements made in iOS have also been transferred to the Mac as applicable, including complete sandboxing of applications and developer “signatures” on apps.

In his tweet, i0n1c refers to a “changing of the guard” that has brought much-improved security to iOS. It’s unknown if this refers to Craig Federighi’s recent promotion to handle both iOS and OS X, or if this is a reference to Kristin Paget, a top white-hat hacker herself who is now listed on LinkedIn as a “Core OS Security Researcher” at Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6.0.2 update, includes fixes for Wi-Fi, security features iPhone 5, iPad mini

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Date: Wednesday, December 19th, 2012, 08:57
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, iTunes, News, Software

Hey, an update’s an update.

Late Monday, Apple released iOS 6.0.2, the latest version of its iOS operating system for the iPhone 5 and iPad mini devices.

The update, a 626 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Fixes a bug that could impact Wi-Fi.

– Assorted security fixes detailed here.

The iOS 6.0.2 update requires the following devices:

– iPhone 3GS / 4 / 4S / 5

– iPad 2 and new iPad

– iPod Touch 4th Gen

– iPad Mini

As always, the update can be acquired via iTunes or the Over The Air software update feature built into iOS 5 or later.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple looking to incorporate Foursquare functionality into iOS 6 Maps application

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Date: Tuesday, December 18th, 2012, 09:28
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

It may not save the iOS 6 Maps app, but at this point, it couldn’t hurt.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple is reportedly in preliminary talks with Foursquare to integrate some of the location-based social network’s date into iOS Maps, with the move purportedly in response to offerings from rival services like Google Maps.

Anonymous sources have stated Apple is looking to use local data provided by Foursquare Labs in a bid to enhance the iOS Maps app.

The sources say Apple Senior Vice President of Online Services Eddy Cue met with the popular social service “in recent weeks,” but failed to detail exactly what was discussed or when the meetings took place.

Although only speculation, Foursquare could provide Apple with a number of business listings, relative popularity and user-generated tips to help enhance the iOS Maps experience. Integration with the social service may also allow iPhone and iPad users to “check in” at various locations, letting friends know where they are around town. Currently, iOS limits such location-based discovery features to Apple’s Find My Friends and Foursquare’s app.

It was reported in June that Apple was working to integrate Yelp reviews and listings, a feature that has already made its way to the Maps app.

Since its release with iOS 6, Apple’s mapping solution has been criticized for its lack of features, most noticeable when compared to Google’s established service which once powered the iOS app, as well as incorrect location information and a number of glitches.

Cue is said to be “racing” to improve Maps after taking control of the project when former iOS chief Scott Forstall was ousted from the company in October.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.