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Mophie today promised to give Japanese iPhone owners much-requested support for FeliCa wireless payments. The team-up with two local firms will see a version of Mophie's casing that uses the same RFID wireless as the Sony standard. In tandem with an iPhone app, the add-on will let Apple's device pay for many goods by bringing the iPhone within an inch of a FeliCa source, such as at a store. Mophie promises that it will work in reverse and that shops can use the accessory to take payments, especially at on-the-street shops where a usual counter isn't an option.
Electronics giant Sony on Tuesday unveiled its newest BRAVIA TV for the Japanese market, the 4-inch XDV-W600. The portable TV can be taken to the bath thanks to its IPX7 and IPX6 waterproof rating, enabling it to withstand water depths up to 3.3 feet for up to 30 minutes. While in the bath or elsewhere, users can view content from its built-in 1Seg TV tuner or about 10 hours of content recorded onto its 2GB of internal memory as well as listen to FM radio programming.
The new-found popularity of the iPhone in Japan is as much a failure of local industry as it is an advancement by Apple, a former NTT DoCoMo executive claims. Tsuyoshi Natsuno, who lead the carrier's i-mode division, describes the Japanese cellular industry as having fallen into a "collegial system," where phones are designed explicitly according to specifications outlined by carriers. The phones in fact have no existence outside of their carriers, a situation which Natsuno believes to offer no incentive for driving technology forward.
Japanese interest in the iPhone 3G surged to where more than one in seven Japanese phone customers has been considering an iPhone, according to a survey published today by iSHARE and conducted at the end of June. The researchers note that while a pre-announcement study showed just 8.9 percent of buyers considering an iPhone, that number has since climbed to 14.5 percent, a jump of about 63 percent in just a few weeks. Existing subscribers with official iPhone carrier SoftBank are disproportionately more likely to want the device, with exactly one in five (20 percent) likely to buy while just 10 percent of those with other providers mulling a switch of carriers to get the device.
Despite the relative success of the iPod in Japan, the iPhone 3G isn't likely to get an immediate footing in the country, according to a new iSHARE study. Of the Japanese adults polled, 91 percent say they have no plans to buy the device when it becomes available on July 11th. Of the remaining nine percent, nearly all (8.9 percent of the total) said they planned to purchase the device. Slightly under half of these are users already signed up for SoftBank, the carrier picked for the initial Japanese launch.
Fashion design firm Prada on Thursday said it would launch its LG Prada phone in Japan, signaling one of the few carrier-based releases for the touchscreen device outside of Europe. The phone will be paired up with dominant carrier NTT DoCoMo and will primarily be sold from Prada's own stores rather than cellular or electronics shops. Few details of the local phone are available, though the handset is likely to include some level of 3G support to handle Japan's networks and should keep the 2-megapixel camera of the original.
Taking its Bravia TV line to handhelds, Sony this morning introduced two explicitly portable TV sets. Both the D500 with its 3-inch screen and the more pocketable, 2-inch G200 are built to catch Japan's 1Seg over-the-air digital TV format; they also support the standard's electronic programming guide, letting viewers take a quick glance at the schedule regardless of where they begin watching. Like their full-scale counterparts, the portable Bravias even include a mobile version of the Bravia video decoding engine, Sony says.
The PlayStation Portable will soon get a firmware update that adds some heavily requested features for its built-in Wi-Fi connection, according to an update from Sony. Version 3.80 will be the first to allow tuning Internet radio and should support live streams in the same formats as the player can handle offline, including MP3-based Shoutcast streams. The PSP will now also pick up photocasts through RSS feeds and supports OPML, allowing users to import lists with multiple feeds, such as from a dedicated RSS reader on a PC.
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Cook to speak at Startup Fest Europe
May is turning out to be a busy travel month for Apple CEO Tim Cook: following on from reports that he will head back to China to meet with government officials there to help smooth out some recent difficulties, Cook is scheduled to be among the guest speakers at Startup Fest Europe in Amsterdam on May 24 at 11:10AM local time. His talk will run about 35 minutes, according to the schedule for the event. Other speakers across the five-day event will include Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, and Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt. http://bit.ly/1q3Zvpr
Retail VP Kupbens leaves Apple
Bob Kupbens, who joined Apple in 2014 just ahead of Dame Angela Ahrendts to run the online Apple Store and other web-based retail programs as vice president of online marketing efforts, has reportedly left the company for another position. Kupbens, who was previously in charge of digital marketing initiatives and e-commerce at Delta Air Lines, replaced Jennifer Bailey when she was appointed to run the Apple Pay project. He has overseen the redesign of the online store, the online iPhone upgrade program, and has generally worked to make the site better integrated with the retail Apple Stores. No replacement for Kupbens has yet been named.
Xcode updated for Git security
Apple on Friday patched two known critical vulnerabilities in its Xcode development tool that were concerned with the Git source code management client portion of the program. For unknown reasons, Apple waited seven weeks to update the version of Git shipping with the command-line tools in Xcode to v2.7.4, released by Git developers on March 17 to address the vulnerabilities. The flaw, now corrected, could allow for cloning a repository with a specially-crafted file structure, giving attackers a chance to execute malicious code on systems where cloning operations were initiated, reports Computerworld. The Command Line Tools package is not installed by default on OS X, but users have the option of installing it, and in some cases were forced to disable Git until the tools were updated. http://apple.co/24BQJP3
Twitter for Mac gets Moments, Polls
Twitter has updated its Mac app with Moments and Polls, features previously rolled out in its web portal and in its mobile apps. The new Moments tab is designed to make it easier to find more interesting and relevant content. Content is curated in categories including News, Sports, Entertainment and Fun, with trending topics highlighted for an easier to use, more engaging experience. The Twitter for Mac app also picks up the ability to create custom multiple choice polls via Tweets that are live for a 24-hour period. Users can also share GIFs in both Tweets and Direct Messages thanks to a new GIF search function. http://apple.co/1rxCvA0
GoPro revenue drops, Karma drone delayed
Action camera maker GoPro announced its first quarter results on Thursday, and the news was largely bad. While unit sell-through of the cameras was close to the year-over-year compare, revenues dropped 49.5 percent from Q1 last year, though was slightly above the company's guidance. Overall, the company lost $107 million in GAAP net income, and margins declined to 32.5 percent from 45.1 percent in the year-ago quarter. The company further announced that it would be delaying its planned Karma drone product until this winter, which will likely further impact next quarter's results. The upside of the delay, said GoPro Founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman, is that the Karma will now benefit from debuting just before the holiday buying season. http://bit.ly/1OgpdgD
Netflix iOS app now offers cell-data controls
In a new update to its iOS app on Thursday, subscription entertainment service Netflix has introduced new user controls for streaming over cellular networks to prevent overages, throttling, or other usage issues caused by the high data rate of streamed HD video. Users can choose from a given amount of streaming video that "costs" 1GB of cellular data, which lowers video quality to allow as much as four hours of video per GB (the "automatic" setting provides three hours, while higher quality settings reduce the time to two hours, or one hour at the best setting). In addition, the updated app now offers more 3D Touch options from the app icon, beyond the "peek and pop" previews for video. http://apple.co/24AD1vR
Bentley launches app for Apple Watch
Carmaker Bentley now offers an Apple Watch app for its Bentayga SUV -- a vehicle with a starting price of $229,000 -- that offers some advanced automotive functions not previously seen in other car apps for Apple's wearable. The app allows Watch wearers to control various seat adjustments, environmental controls (including seat massage), and the entertainment system. In addition, various vehicle stats are available at a glance, including distance traveled and vehicle speed. The app is available free on the App Store. http://apple.co/24AyXvs