Uber introduces Surge Drop to iPhone users

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Date: Tuesday, March 4th, 2014, 08:53
Category: Announcement, Apps, Features, iOS, iPhone, Mobile, Services, Software

Uber appUber is a great service and can be vital in a big city, even if the public transportation is good. I frequently use it to shave time off my travel between clients, and occasionally when I’ve been out having a good time all night and want a quick trip home so I can get to bed and try to function the next morning. Naturally, these kinds of services get really busy on holidays and during special events, and Uber takes advantage of the high demand with “surge” pricing. That means that during those busy times, Uber will raise the rate of a ride and later drop them back down again. This can end up being a real hit to the wallet, as I found out one New Years, if you aren’t aware that the surge pricing is in effect, or if you take a car because you have no idea when the surge pricing ends. With the latest update, Uber has taken care off that with a new feature they announced on their blog called “Surge Drop“.

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WhatsApp finally gets its buyout netting a cool $19 billion

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Date: Friday, February 21st, 2014, 14:26
Category: Announcement, Apps, Business, Mobile, Services, Social, Software

facebook-whatsappLast Spring, rumors were in the air that Google might be buying up the messaging app WhatsApp, the iMessage-like online texting service, but the sale never happened. Honestly, I had forgotten that the Google acquisition didn’t happen, so I was really surprised when Facebook announced it was snapping it up. Yes, that number is correct, $19 billion. Who knew they had that much lying around? Ok, it wasn’t a straight up $19 bil, it was $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in shares, and $3 billion in restricted stock for the founders and employees that’ll divest over the next 4 years. Pretty good take overall.

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Amazon has a plan to get into the mobile payments game

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Date: Friday, February 7th, 2014, 09:32
Category: Amazon, Finance, Mobile, retail, Services

amazon-logo-150x150It looks like Amazon is determined to expand out of the “virtual” retail space to get its foot in the door of brick-and-mortar stores. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, has plans to0 equip retailers with Kindle tablets with credit card readers for accepting payments, possibly in exchange for web site development and data analysis. Trying to push its way into traditional retail spaces means Amazon will be pitting itself against much larger companies that provide checkout and POS (Point Of Sale) systems to large retailers, which may require Amazon to turn to smaller businesses. Even there, they are competing with companies like Square Inc., who have a big head start in that space. Amazon does have the benefit of allowing retailers that partner with them to offer promotions or discounts through Amazon.com or its Amazon Local daily deals offers. Amazon has a steep hill to climb, but Richard Crone who is chief executive of Crone Consulting, a payments advisory firm, makes a good point;

“At the end of the day, a merchant wants to make a sale, to drive up business. And if Amazon or anyone else can help them do that, that’s tough to turn away,”

Amazon will also be in a race with Apple, who is reportedly preparing its own blitz into the mobile payments game, offering the convenience of millions of customers with iPhones with the advantages of the iBeacon system. Even Amazon knows it’s not a sure thing. The WSJ mentions that, “Amazon’s plans remain fluid and the project might be delayed, altered or canceled, they said.”.

Will the next NSA satellite have an Apple logo?

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Date: Wednesday, January 1st, 2014, 08:24
Category: Apple, Consumer Electronics, iOS, iPhone, Legal, Mobile, Mobile Phone, News, privacy, security, Services, Software

geoeye-1-satellite-apple-460Well, perhaps that is a stretch, but Apple’s possible connection with the NSA was revealed in a report dating back to 2008. Reuters explains that the report outlined a system that the NSA was developing, called DROPOUTJEEP, which would be software implanted into an iPhone that allows infiltrators to push and pull and retrieve data from iPhones such as contact lists. The report didn’t actually specify any involvement by or with Apple, although the iPhone is referenced in the report.

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iBeacon rollout in Apple Stores

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Date: Thursday, December 12th, 2013, 08:28
Category: Apple, iOS, iPhone, Mobile, News, privacy, retail, Retail Store, Services, Software

apple-store-ibeaconLast week Apple started rolling out iBeacon, Apple’s location based technology that offers a “better user experience”. What they mean is that when you are in a store with an iPhone, they can track your location to the foot, allowing iBeacon to send you notifications with info on the product you are standing in front of, coupons, sales, or general info on the store. It has been pointed out that Apple use coupons and rarely has sales (except Black Friday), but since the iBeacon technology will be sold outside of Apple, it is sure to be used by the likes of Target and Walmart.

 

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Apple grabs another piece of the pie with China Mobile deal

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Date: Friday, December 6th, 2013, 08:11
Category: 3G Wireless, Announcement, Apple, Mobile, Mobile Phone, Services

china-mobileApple has been after the China market for some time, and it’s no wonder. China represents 1.3 billion of potential customers, which would be Apple’s largest market outside the United States. China Mobile is the world’s largest carrier by subscribers, servicing somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 million users. That number is more than twice the population of the United States. It doesn’t take a sales expert to realize that this would be huge for Apple. A Wall Street Journal report, with information provided by anonymous sources, said that China Mobile will start offering iPhones later this month. The announcement of the deal may happen at a China Mobile conference on De. 18th which will be held in the city of Guangzhou.

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Apple retail to use iBeacon location technology

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Date: Monday, November 18th, 2013, 09:08
Category: Apple, Developer, iOS, Mobile, News, privacy, Retail Store, security, Services, WWDC

ibeacon2Earlier this year at WWDC, Apple introduced iBeacon, a technology that would be introduced as part of iOS 7 and new Apple hardware. iBeacon utilizes BlueTooth LE (Low Energy) to provide very precise location data to your device, which can either provide detailed directions inside a building, like a mall, or give you information about a particular item on a shelf that you are standing in front of. Yes, it’s that precise. Since it has to take a location measurement very frequently to provide that level of precision, it uses the BlueTooth LE radio (separate from the regular one generally used), in order to prevent excessive battery drain on your device. This opens up a lot of opportunities for all retailers, not just Apple.

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Apple posts job listing focused on improving cloud services

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Date: Thursday, April 14th, 2011, 03:07
Category: Mobile, Rumor, Software

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When the job listings go up, things become interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is building a small team to write software which will lay the groundwork for the company’s future Web services, which it has advertised as “the future” of its cloud-based offerings.

This week the company posted a new job listing for the position of “Cloud Systems Software Engineer.” The full-time role at the company’s Cupertino, Calif., campus will join a “small team” that is said to be building “the future of cloud services at Apple.”

That small team writes “software which forms the foundation” for some of Apple’s “most exciting new products and services,” the job listing reads. In keeping with Apple’s legendary secrecy, the listing does not reveal what services the company’s cloud-driven future will include.

The company is apparently looking to hire an engineer with experiencing in scalable and extensible systems. The ideal candidate will collaborate with other engineering teams at Apple to build the platform frameworks and systems that will power Apple’s next-generation Web services.

Apple has offered cloud-based services for some time with its US$99-per-year MobileMe service. According to unconfirmed rumors, Apple is expected to unveil an enhanced version of MobileMe this year, featuring a digital “locker” that would store personal files such as photos, music and videos. That content could be streamed to Internet-connected devices like iPhones, eliminating the need for a large amount of local memory on devices.

In particular, Apple is believed to be working on a cloud-based music service that would allow users to stream their music from anywhere. Such a product could be powered by Apple’s new massive data center in North Carolina, expected to go online this spring.

This week’s latest job listing from Apple comes only months after the company sought to add software engineers to its iOS development team with an emphasis on remote storage for data access. Cloud support is rumored to be a major component of iOS 5, the next major version of Apple’s mobile operating system for the iPhone and iPad. One report from March said Apple plans to release iOS 5 this fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

New Snow Leopard Seed and Server Features for iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, April 28th, 2009, 14:08
Category: Apple, iPhone, Mac, Mobile, Server, Services, Software

Apple sent an announcement to developers last Thursday that the next seed for Snow Leopard was available for downloading. AppleInsider reported that this was the second beta of the software released this month and is labeled Mac OS X 10.6 build 10A335.

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The new download is reported to also include a new version of 10.6 Snow Leopard Server which incorporates a number of new features. Some of the features mentioned, “[...] new junk mail filters in Mail Server, better automated account creation in Calendar Server, and completely re-written certificate management code”.

One of the developments that may be of interest to businesses that have, or want to deploy, a fleet of iPhones to their employees is the addition of the secure Mobile Access Server. The first hints of the new mobile services comes as a listing on Apple’s Developer site as one of the sessions available at WWDC called Deploying Mobile Access Server. The session has the following description:

Secure remote access to your business network has never been more critical than in today’s increasingly mobile world. The Mobile Access Server provides a path through a corporate firewall for IMAP, SMTP, HTTP, and CalDAV without using VPN. Learn about the features of, and deployment tips for, this powerful new service in Snow Leopard Server.

This comes in addition to features already mentioned such as remote access and control of mobile devices as well as push notifications. This positions OS X Server as a means to deliver intranet web services to iPhone and iPod touch users far more cost effectively than Microsoft Windows Server, and takes advantage of the popularity of the iPhone.

AT&T planning changes to forbid video streaming, filesharing, and data tethering

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Date: Friday, April 3rd, 2009, 15:04
Category: Mobile, News, Services

AT&T appears to be changing its Terms of Service to limit data usage on its network. The new restrictions seems specifically aimed at several services that have already been available to current AT&T customers, especially iPhone users (but not stated as such).

The terms describe that accessing email and the internet is permissible, but prohibits:

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[...] downloading movies using P2P file sharing services, customer initiated redirection of television or other video or audio signals via any technology from a fixed location to a mobile device, web broadcasting, and/or for the operation of servers, telemetry devices and/or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition devices is prohibited. Furthermore, plans(unless specifically designated for tethering usage) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/PDA-to computer accessories, Bluetooth® or any other wireless technology) to Personal Computers (including without limitation, laptops), or other equipment for any purpose.

The change has seemingly been put in place on the heels of the recent release of the Skype iPhone app. While Apple itself stated it would not block VOIP applications on the iPhone, it has long been speculated what AT&T would do once those apps made it to the iPhone. Several apps like Fring and TruPhone already had hooks into Skype, but didn’t appear to attract any response from AT&T.

The current description of the restrictions is pretty wide, touching on several iPhone applications that facilitate filesharing and video streaming, which would cover software like SlingMedia’s upcoming SlingPlayer iPhone app. Where is all this headed? As devices become more internet enabled, phone companies seem determined to strangle their functionality rather than improve their level of services so that people will want to buy them.

Is AT&T being greedy, trying to slow people down until they can develop their own service plans, or are they like the record companies who just can’t see the writing on the wall? Discuss in the forums!