AT&T admits to testing “unique tracker” on smartphones, offers opt-out option

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Date: Thursday, October 30th, 2014, 11:55
Category: iPhone, News, security, wireless

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This isn’t the best news.

According to Forbes, wireless carriers Verizon and AT&T have ceded that they’re tagging their customers with unique codes that are visible to third parties, making smartphone users far easier to track on the Web than they’ve ever been before, targeted advertising being that much easier to create as a result of this. After the findings by researchers, AT&T admitted it’s “testing” a new way of tracking its customers for ad display purposes.

“There’s nothing ready to announce,” said AT&T spokesperson Mark Siegel. “We’re still testing.”

But that means, yes, AT&T customers are being tagged by AT&T in a way that’s visible to the websites they visit, but AT&T says it’s building in what it considers to be a privacy-protective measure: the unique code for each user will change every 24 hours. Siegel says this is happening now, but Kenneth White, one of the researchers who discovered the tracking, says that is “categorically untrue,” saying he found three identifying codes being sent by AT&T that were 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.”

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Apple Pay fans tears down CurrentC’s App Store rating, MCX suggests possible switch to NFC technology

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Date: Thursday, October 30th, 2014, 11:53
Category: Finance, iOS, News, Software

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The most recent volley in the NFC payment war between Apple Pay and the MCX consortium’s CurrentC mobile payment service has been fired.

And it has a lot to do with app reviews.

Per 9to5Mac, a number of users have expressed their displeasure with the CurrentC app, at the time of writing, the app having accumulated 2,856 1-star reviews against a total of just 30 reviews giving it 2 stars or more …

The movement to boycott merchants who are members of the MCX consortium also seems to be growing in popularity, gaining a Boycott MCX website with a full list of members. When you click on the name of a consortium member (CVS Pharmacy in the example shown below), a list of competing stores who accept or plan to accept Apple Pay is displayed.

Having been criticized for its clunky use of QR codes, MCX said yesterday that CurrentC may “pivot to NFC over time.” The company had earlier said that it was “entirely possible” that it would do a U-turn on its current exclusivity requirement and allow merchants to accept both CurrentC and Apple Pay at some point in the future, though no certainty or timeframe was offered.

MCX CEO Dekkers Davidson also expanded on yesterday’s less than convincing assurances about data security, saying that the recent hack “does not impact the rollout of CurrentC at all” – that the company expected attacks and will “deal with them.”

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Hours after citing capable security, CurrentC announces unauthorized access of users’ email accounts

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 29th, 2014, 16:35
Category: Finance, iOS, News, security, Uncategorized

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Hubris, anyone?

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.

Per MacRumors, the company released the following statement:

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.

Details on the unauthorized access have not been disclosed, but reporter Nick Arnott of iMore took some time 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.

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Microsoft releases updated Office 365 APIs, iOS SDKs to development community

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Date: Wednesday, October 29th, 2014, 11:48
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Not that the competition between Apple and Microsoft will ever truly go away, but this could herald in slightly better relations between the two companies, especially given how long it took Microsoft Office to come to iOS.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Microsoft has released a new series of tools for developers looking to improve integration between their apps and the company’s Office 365 service. For iOS users and developers, the main point of interest will be the new 365 APIs for mail, files, calendar, and contacts. There is currently more than 400 petabytes of data stored via Office 365, and these news tools will allow developers to access that information from their own apps.

These API’s will provide better options for connecting apps to users who need to use Office 365. Microsoft hopes to see travel reservation apps that connect to your 365 calendar and sales automation apps that integrate with your mail and files to save and send receipts.

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MCX responds to Apple Pay blocking controversy with questionable responses to issues at hand

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Date: Wednesday, October 29th, 2014, 11:46
Category: Finance, iOS, iPhone, News, security, Software

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The most recent shot in the NFC payment wars has been fired.

And it kind of made MCX look like a bunch of jerks.

Per 9to5Mac, MCX, the retailer consortium behind the CurrentC mobile payment system, has responded to the controversy over its members being required to block Apple Pay or face fines with some unconvincing ‘assurances.’

The first sign of trouble between MCX and Apple Pay was when CVS disabled NFC functionality from its payment terminals. When Rite Aid joined in, consumers responded by threatening to boycott MCX members.

In a blog post which MCX says is designed to “set the record straight,” as it were, MCX responded to some of the recent concerns levied against it.

Responding to the fines issue, the company offered the following comment:

Importantly, if a merchant decides to stop working with MCX, there are no fines.

Nobody has suggested there are. What has been suggested–and which MCX has not denied–is that members are fined if they accept other forms of mobile payment, like Apple Pay, alongside CurrentC.

The consortium gets off to a marginally better start on privacy, with a statement that consumers “can choose to limit the information they share through our privacy dashboard, which means they will have the ability turn off location based services and opt out of marketing communications in our app.” However, that does nothing to limit the storage of other sensitive information, nor to address claims that merchants will share purchasing data amongst themselves.

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Users levy class action law suit against Apple for mid-2011 MacBook Pro GPU failures

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Date: Tuesday, October 28th, 2014, 16:26
Category: Hardware, Legal, MacBook Pro, News

If the GPU on your mid-2011 MacBook Pro failed and you wound up picking up the cost of replacing it, there may be some legal recourse that could help you out.

Per AppleInsider, a long-running issue with owners of Apple’s 2011 series of MacBook Pros has resulted in a class-action lawsuit, seeking compensation for apparent graphics card failures experienced by customers.

The firm of Whitfield, Bryson & Mason LLP announced on Tuesday that it has filed a class-action complaint in a California federal court against Apple. The lawsuit covers residents of both California and Florida who purchased 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks with AMD graphics.

The complaint was filed on behalf of plaintiffs Zachary Book, Donald Cowart, and John Manners. The lawsuit alleges that Apple failed to reimburse owners for out-of-pocket repairs that could cost anywhere from US$350 to US$600.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook cites over one million Apple Pay subscriptions in first 72 hours

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Date: Tuesday, October 28th, 2014, 15:48
Category: Finance, iOS, iPhone, News

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Apple may have gotten a pretty quick leg up in the NFC market.

Per AppleInsider and the Wall Street Journal, Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a recent interview today, stated that Apple Pay received more than one million registrations within the first 72 hours.

“The early ramp [of Apple Pay] looks fantastic,” Cook said in an interview with WSJ managing editor Gerry Baker.

Cook referred to recent revelations that Merchant Consumer Exchange retailers like Rite Aid and CVS are now blocking Apple Pay, characterizing the situation as a “skirmish” that will ultimately be decided by consumers “over the long arc of time.”

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Displaymate performs Display Technology Shoot Out tests on iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, finds both impressive and disappointing results

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Date: Monday, October 27th, 2014, 16:58
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

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The tests have been run, the results have come in and the answer may be a bit of a downer for iPad 3 mini owners.

Over on displaymate.com, Raymond Soneira has just pitted Apple’s recently released iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 displays against each other in almost every category imaginable. The tests and results, which can be found here, run the tablets through criteria such as power efficiency, viewing angles, screen brightness in high ambient lighting, absolute color accuracy, etc.

The tests found that the iPad Air 2′s new anti-reflection coating on its glass cover helps cut ambient light by about 3:1 over most other tablets and smartphones (including the previous iPads), and about 2:1 over all of the very best competing Tablets and Smartphones (including the new iPhone 6). The tests recorded a 62 percent decrease in reflected light glare compared to the previous iPads (Apple claims 56 percent) and agree with Apple’s claim that the iPad Air 2 is “the least reflective display of any tablet in the world”.

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AT&T confirms Apple SIM card lock, says customers will need to buy new SIM card to change carriers

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Date: Monday, October 27th, 2014, 10:11
Category: Hardware, iPad, News, wireless

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There may be increased competition and good deals to be had in the wireless markets, but the major carriers will still try to lock you in…

Per Re/code, wireless carrier AT&T has apparently taken advantage in the change to the SIM card found in the new iPad, which apparently allows customers to designate which wireless carrier they’d like to use it with, by essentially locking its customers in to the service, requiring the customer to purchase an entirely new SIM card to change their provider.

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel confirmed to Re/code that customers who use the Apple SIM on AT&T will need another SIM card to switch carriers, but stressed that the device itself remains unlocked.

“With us you can change carriers with this iPad any time you want,” he said. “It is an unlocked device. … All [you] have to do is switch out the SIM in the device so it works on another carrier.”

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Visa, Mastercard publish list of financial institutions that will support Apple Pay in the coming weeks and months

Posted by:
Date: Friday, October 24th, 2014, 07:01
Category: Finance, iPhone, iPod, News

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In as much as I grouse about Visa and MasterCard (also known as the “Dark Sith Overlords of Ever-Climbing, Interest Monster Debt”), this might come in handy. Per 9to5Mac, Visa and MasterCard have published a list of banks and financial institutions that will support Apple Pay in the United States “in the coming weeks,” while MasterCard has its own list of supported banks arriving in the coming months. The mobile payments service officially launched on Monday, October 20th and currently supports cards issued by Bank of America, Capital One, Citi Bank, Chase and Wells Fargo Bank. A full list of banks coming soon from Visa and Mastercard below:

Visa:
1st Colonial Community Bank
1st Community Federal Credit Union
A+ Federal Credit Union
Actors Federal Credit Union
Advantage Federal Credit Union
Advantage One Federal Credit Union
Affinity Federal Credit Union
Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union
Alaska USA Federal Credit Union
Alliant Credit Union
ALPS Federal Credit Union
Alternatives Federal Credit Union
Altra Federal Credit Union
Amarillo National Bank
Amegy Bank National Association
America First Credit Union
American Airlines Federal Credit Union
American Chartered Bank
American Heritage Bank
American Savings Bank
America’s Christian Credit Union
America’s Credit Union
AmeriCU Credit Union
Andrews Federal Credit Union
APCO Employees Credit Union
Arlington Community Federal Credit Union
Artisans Bank
Arvest Bank
Auburn Bank
Avidbank

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