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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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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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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CVS, Rite Aid refusing to accept Apple Pay system, lend support to current CurrentC payment system

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Date: Monday, October 27th, 2014, 16:32
Category: Finance, iOS, iPhone, Software

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Call it a trade blockade of sorts, but you might not be able to use Apple Pay to purchase items at CVS or Rite Aid for a while.

Per the New York Times and 9to5Mac, Rite Aid has joined CVS in disabling Apple Pay as a payment method in its stores. Like CVS, Rite Aid is a member of the Merchant Customer eXchange (MCX) consortium promoting a rival mobile payment service, CurrentC.

Consumers are responding by threatening to boycott stores which disable Apple Pay, with more than 2,000 comments across several Reddit threads on the topic. Android users are joining in, as disabling NFC also blocks alternative mobile payment services offered by higher-end Android handsets.

As with CVS, Apple Pay initially worked in Rite Aid stores, indicating that the company has made a deliberate decision to switch off support.

While Apple has declined to comment, MasterCard said that it was the wrong decision.

“We think consumers should have the ability to pay any way they want,” said Ed McLaughlin, chief emerging payments officer at MasterCard.

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Rumor: Apple in negotiations to use NFC technologies as entry keycards, transit tickets

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Date: Monday, October 27th, 2014, 10:14
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

If NFC technology isn’t as widespread as it could be, Apple wants to increase its presence. According to 9to5Mac and The Information, Apple is actively scouting out partnerships to increase the utility of the NFC chip inside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Right now, the chip can only be used for payments through Apple Pay as the API is not available to third-party developers.

Sources have stated that the company is talking to potential partners about using the technology for things like building security, public transit tickets and more. The report names that Apple has already been in talks with HID Global and Cubic, who make electronic ‘keycard’ secure building access and transit fare systems.

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The Apple representatives have talked to technology providers like HID Global and Cubic, which enable secure access to buildings and transit fare systems, respectively, said people briefed on the discussions. Spokespeople for the companies declined to comment about any discussions with Apple, but executives there discussed how they could integrate their systems with the iPhone.

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

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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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Bank of America confirms double charges under Apple Pay, says fix is underway

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Date: Thursday, October 23rd, 2014, 13:21
Category: Finance, News, Software

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You can call it an Apple Pay startup glitch or an evil conspiracy, both statements would have merit.

Per Re/code and 9to5Mac, some Bank of America account holders are now reporting that the new service is charging them twice for some transactions. It’s also been confirmed that Bank of America is in fact experiencing a technical error that is causing the double charges and is currently attempting to roll out a solution that will resolve the problem.

The glitch was apparently the result of a miscommunication between the bank’s systems and an unnamed payment network and wasn’t Apple’s fault according to the report. The bank said that only about 1,000 transactions were affected by the problem, which is a relatively minute number compared to the number of transactions likely being carried out nationwide today.

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BBEdit 11.0 released, adds new features, easy import for TextWrangler users

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Date: Thursday, October 23rd, 2014, 13:32
Category: News, Software

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You love BBEdit.

And it just hit version 11.

Bare Bones Software today announced the release and immediate availability of BBEdit 11.0, a major upgrade to its professional strength HTML and text editor.

BBEdit 11 builds on an extensively modernized foundation with newly overhauled systems for Find Differences, Clippings, and syntax coloring; and it adds dozens of enhancements and new features.

The new Find Differences workflow provides a more efficient single-window presentation of results for both file and folder comparisons. A new sidebar for folder comparisons identifies
mismatched files and makes easy the process of copying files to bring two differing folders into harmony.

BBEdit’s Clippings system is now more flexible thanks to a reimagining of how clippings are managed and employed. An updated Clippings palette makes it easier to locate and apply specific clippings as
needed.

The internal syntax coloring mechanics have been overhauled, and now allow much greater flexibility in color choices for language support. Many factory-supported languages now sport additional color options, and BBEdit 11 also includes several tastefully constructed built-in color schemes.

This new version of BBEdit provides a number of new built-in commands and editing gestures to enhance everyday productivity. A new “Highlight instances of selected text” feature aids navigation; new commands are provided to support editing of of tabular text, as well as easier manipulation of entire lines of text.

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