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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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Cirrus creates Lightning-headphone dev kit
Apple supplier Cirrus Logic has introduced a MFi-compliant new development kit for companies interested in using Cirrus' chips to create Lightning-based headphones, which -- regardless of whether rumors about Apple dropping the analog headphone jack in its iPhone this fall -- can offer advantages to music-loving iOS device users. The kit mentions some of the advantages of an all-digital headset or headphone connector, including higher-bitrate support, a more customizable experience, and support for power and data transfer into headphone hardware. Several companies already make Lightning headphones, and Apple has supported the concept since June 2014. http://bit.ly/29giiZj
Apple Store app offers Procreate Pocket
The Apple Store app for iPhone, which periodically rewards users with free app gifts, is now offering the iPhone "Pocket" version of drawing app Procreate for those who have the free Apple Store app until July 28. Users who have redeemed the offer by navigating to the "Stores" tab of the app and swiping past the "iPhone Upgrade Program" banner to the "Procreate" banner have noted that only the limited Pocket (iPhone) version of the app is available free, even if the Apple Store app is installed and the offer redeemed on an iPad. The Pocket version currently sells for $3 on the iOS App Store. [32.4MB]
Porsche adds CarPlay to 2017 Panamera
Porsche has added a fifth model of vehicle to its CarPlay-supported lineup, announcing that the 2017 Panamera -- which will arrive in the US in January -- will include Apple's infotainment technology, and be seen on a giant 12.3-inch touchscreen as part of an all-new Porsche Communication Management system. The luxury sedan starts at $99,900 for the 4S model, and scales up to the Panamera Turbo, which sells for $146,900. Other vehicles that currently support CarPlay include the 2016 911 and the 2017 models of Macan, 718 Boxster, and 718 Cayman. The company did not mention support for Google's corresponding Android Auto in its announcement. http://bit.ly/295ZQ94
Apple employees testing wheelchair features
New features included in the forthcoming watchOS 3 are being tested by Apple retail store employees, including a new activity-tracking feature that has been designed with wheelchair users in mind. The move is slightly unusual in that, while retail employees have previously been used to test pre-release versions of OS X and iOS, this marks the first time they've been included in the otherwise developer-only watchOS betas. The company is said to have gone to great lengths to modify the activity tracker for wheelchair users, including changing the "time to stand" notification to "time to roll" and including two wheelchair-centric workout apps. http://bit.ly/2955JDa
SanDisk reveals two 256GB microSDXC cards
SanDisk has introduced two 256GB microSDXC cards. Arriving in August for $150, the Ultra microSDXC UHS-I Premium Edition card offers transfer speeds of up to 95MB/s for reading data. The Extreme microSDXC UHS-I card can read at a fast 100MB/s and write at up to 90MB/s, and will be shipping sometime in the fourth quarter for $200. http://bit.ly/294Q1If
Apple's third-quarter results due July 26
Apple has advised it will be issuing its third-quarter results on July 26, with a conference call to answer investor and analyst queries about the earnings set to take place later that day. The stream of the call will go live at 2pm PT (5pm ET) via Apple's investor site, with the results themselves expected to be released roughly 30 minutes before the call commences. Apple's guidance for the quarter put revenue at between $41 billion and $43 billion. http://apple.co/1oi1Pbm
Twitter stickers slowly roll out to users
Twitter has introduced "stickers," allowing users to add extra graphical elements to their photos before uploading them to the micro-blogging service. A library of hundreds of accessories, props, and emoji will be available to use as stickers, which can be resized, rotated, and placed anywhere on the photograph. Images with stickers will also become searchable with viewers able to select a sticker to see how others use the same graphic in their own posts. Twitter advises stickers will be rolling out to users over the next few weeks, and will work on both the mobile apps and through the browser. http://bit.ly/29bbwUE