Westminster gives approval for makeover of London's first Apple Store
Calling the current Regent Street Apple Store's interior "tired and outdated," the City of Westminster has granted Apple authorization to make significant changes to the store, including a rare granting of permission to make some exterior modifications. The renovations are thought to be intended to bring the London store more in line with the latest design template, which has recently been showcased with a new Apple Store in Brussels. The company expects, according to plans put forth last May to remove double the size of the entrance, remove the front portion of the mezzanine, and change the current staircase from one into two, among other changes.
It's not a Pencil, but it's good
Before you read even a pixel further, know this: the Kit Precision Stylus is currently only available in the UK. Well, doubtlessly you can import it from Amazon UK, the way we over here regularly have to buy things from the US store. Officially, though, it is UK only for now. America and the rest of the world isn't missing out on a life-changing piece of engineering, but if you're looking for a stylus for your iPad, then this is a good piece of work, and it has certain advantages.
Two banks take Apple Pay support live, Bank of Scotland coming Friday
Apple continues to expand its presence in the UK thanks to its partners. Three of the big banks have now added support for Apple Pay, allowing customers to register their credit and debit cards with their iOS devices. Cards from Lloyd's and Halifax are now supported, and Lloyd's subsidiary Bank of Scotland (not to be confused with Royal Bank of Scotland, commonly referred to simply as RBS) will add support for the mobile payment system on Friday.
Apple to build new 'next-generation' Apple Store in Germantown
Apple is planning to build one of its first "next-generation" standalone stores in the US in the Memphis suburb of Germantown, with the new design debuting overseas this fall, according to Apple Senior Director of Development Rick Millitello, who presented the plans for the new store to the Germantown Design Review Commission. The change will move the store slightly within its present Shops of Saddle Creek North location.
Current UK spending limits will still be in effect, expected to be revised in fall
Lloyds bank on Friday became the latest of the dwindling holdouts to announce support for Apple Pay, telling customers in an email that the functionality will be enabled "very soon" and reminding them of what devices can be used with the service. This leaves only Bank of Scotland, Halifax, and Barclays as not having a clear window when support for Apple Pay will be offered. Barclays, which had initially declined to support Apple Pay, was forced to reverse course due to customer backlash.
Stanford MyHeart Counts app adding UK, Hong Kong participants
A health study app based on Apple's ResearchKit API has now started collecting health date from outside the US for the first time. Stanford University's MyHeart Counts app has started including participants in the UK as well as Hong Kong, the first international expansion for apps created using ResearchKit, which makes it easier for medical professionals to create, deploy and recruit participants in health and medical studies.
Amex corporate card support coming later this month
Another 43 US banks and credit unions are now supporting Apple Pay, according to the iPhone maker's partner website, with the total number of partners now at 465. The list does not include two new banks, HSBC and First Direct, that have recently activated support for Apple Pay with their systems, bringing the total of major UK bank chains to nine. Currently it is expected that the next country to gain Apple Pay support will be Canada, though negotiations with Chinese institutions continue.
Bank had faced customer defections, publicity backlash over resistance
After becoming best known for being the only major UK bank not to support the forthcoming rollout of Apple Pay support in the UK in favor of its own, much more awkward "bPay" solution, Barclays has apparently done an about-face and announced that it will provide "imminent" support of Apple Pay in the UK in the near future. The mobile payments system, anticipated to formally go live on Thursday, will still face some limitations.
Documents allege that Apple Pay support in UK will kick off next Tuesday
A memo to supermarket chain Waitrose employees (and seemingly confirmed by Apple UK training documents) appears to reveal that Apple Pay in the UK will launch on July 14, albeit with varying restrictions on how much buyers can purchase without having to enter additional information. According to reports, most merchants will have a limit of £20 ($31.24 US) on any kind of contactless payment system, except some new POS terminals that are specifically designed to support Apple Pay.
Buyers must purchase online, but can pick up in stores; UK stores follow suit
Apple Stores in Australia and the UK are now preparing for in-store Apple Watch sales, which is likely foreshadowing the arrival of such sales in the US as well. Not all models are yet available, but Sport and regular (stainless steel) Watch models are showing as being in stock at most stores, while other models are still only available for online ordering. Customers must make a reservation online and then schedule an in-store pickup time.
Different new channel options depending on region, from sports to art
Apple has added a handful of new channels to Apple TV units in the US, Canada, the UK, French- and German-speaking regions in Europe, and Australia today. Starting immediately, US owners can now watch CBS Sports (which does not require a cable subscription login) or USA Now, which does require a login. In Canada, viewers will now see either CraveTV (if they are Bell subscribers) or Showmi (for Rogers or Shaw cable customers). Other countries have also received different new channels.
Even our political games aren't funny
You've got 18 months of hard political campaigning left before your Presidential elections: here in the UK we have less than a week. Next Thursday, 7 May, is our General Election and while take very seriously the job of choosing the least worst candidate available to us, it is fair to say that we are ready for some relief. Debate Time is an iOS game that intends to do exactly that by switching our attention from the political party leaders to cartoon images of the same people.
Government websites seeing 25 of traffic from Apple devices
A measurement of US government web traffic has revealed that 26 percent of visits come from Apple devices -- with nearly 17 percent originating from iOS devices, with another nine percent from Macs. This puts the platform at about one-half the traffic generated by Windows devices (58 percent), with Android devices in third place with 14 percent. The data comes from analytics of over 300 government websites.
Apple Watch, abilities will expand over time, replace car keys as well
In a new interview with the UK newspaper the Telegraph, Apple CEO Tim Cook has revealed a few new tidbits about the forthcoming Apple Watch, as well as some of the larger vision behind such innovations as the watch, and Apple Pay, and Touch ID -- an all-out attempt to reduce the ephemera people need to carry with them, from wallets to car keys. In the same report, Cook also confirmed that Apple will "tweak" its retail look to accommodate Apple Watch buyers, who are likely to be even more upscale than average Apple customers.
Defunct Mini model briefly returns to online Apple store
Apple's official online shipping times for the iPod shuffle have improved in the UK, France, Germany, and several other European countries, reports say. Earlier this month, shipping times deteriorated to between seven to 10 days worldwide, prompting fears that Apple might be discontinuing the product. Sources claimed that Apple was just going through component supplier changes, however, and this may be borne out by the European Apple online stores, which is now seeing the media player ship in five to seven days. Delays have yet to improve in the US or Canada, but may follow suit in the near future.
Photos web app gets zoom, quick email sharing
Apple has upgraded the iCloud.com Photos app with a couple of new features, users note. The first is a zoom slider for uploaded content. People can also more easily share photos via email, using a new pop-up window on the site. Access to Photos requires activating the iCloud Photo Library beta through iOS' Settings app, and will remove any images on a device that were synced via iTunes.
Takeover reportedly linked to Beats Music relaunch
Apple has bought out a media analytics firm from the UK called Semetric, according to the The Guardian. The acquisition is said to have been discovered through Companies House filings, which show for instance that earlier this month, Semetric changed its address to that of a London lawfirm, Baker & McKenzie; the space is also registered to Apple Europe Limited. An Apple attorney, Gene Levoff, was assigned to a director position at Semetric in October of last year.
Public statements first on the matter from the US President
President Obama has, for the first time, publicly acknowledged that encryption is a problem for law enforcement. With UK Prime Minister David Cameron alongside, the President said that there must be both ways to keep citizens' information private, but that there has to be a way to allow law enforcement to surveil both in real-time, as well as decrypt after-the-fact forensically, when a court deems it necessary. "Because this is a whole new world, as David [Cameron] says, the laws that might've been designed for the traditional wiretap have to be updated. How we do that needs to be debated both here in the United States and in the UK," said the President.
Calls secure chat 'safe space' for terrorists, pedophiles, criminals
In many democratic countries, responses to terrorist attacks usually involve the curtailing of some civil liberties in the name of safety. The hacking of Sony, for example has created momentum for the possible return of CISPA. In the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron has now called for tightening laws around "the internet and new ways of communicating," and specifically hinted at a ban on end-to-end encrypted messaging, in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices in Paris.
Costs go up at Norwegian, Turkish online stores
Apple has increased the costs for developers and products in a range of countries across Europe, reports say. German developers note that the cost of an annual Developer Program membership has jumped from €80 ($96) to €99 ($119). The change is presumably affecting all European Union countries, since Apple rarely makes changes in one Euro market to the exclusion of others. In the UK, developer registration fees have been hiked from from £60 ($92) to £79 ($121).
Regional launch could take place in first half of 2015
Apple is in negotiations with "Britain's top banks" in preparation for launching Apple Pay in the region, sources tell the Telegraph newspaper. The service is expected to arrive in the UK in the first half of 2015. At least one bank is said to be uncomfortable about the amount of personal and financial data Apple wants to collect from its customers, however, and some executives are said to be wary that both Apple Pay and the data the company wants could operate as a "beachhead for an invasion of the banking industry," as the Telegraph writes. It's nevertheless predicted that the banks will bend, as Apple Pay appears to be catching on in the US, and may be a way to convince more British shoppers to pay via their mobile phones.
US customers get holiday channels on iTunes Radio instead
As was the case last year, Canadians are once again getting a sale on selected albums in iTunes as part of a "Boxing Day" event, part of a traditional observance throughout Canada and a number of other Commonwealth countries. The UK iTunes Store is also having a sale on hit albums, but doesn't label the event as a "Boxing Day" sale. US users don't get a sale, but are instead enjoying special holiday channels on iTunes Radio, which remains unavailable in the UK and Canada.
Williams tells Apple staff that company is improving labor conditions
In a new email memo to the company's UK workforce, Apple's Senior VP of Operations Jeff Williams claims that he and CEO Tim Cook were "deeply offended" by a BBC Panorama documentary exposing labor abuses in the company's supply chain. Specifically, Williams and Cook are said to have been "deeply offended by the suggestion that Apple would break a promise to the workers in our supply chain, or mislead our customers in any way;" Williams charges that "Panorama's report implied that Apple isn't improving working conditions. Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth."
Apple targeting 'Europe, Middle East, India, and Africa'
[Updated with Chinese job listing] A new job listing indicates that Apple is actively working on expanding Apple Pay worldwide, beginning with Europe. The company is seeking an Apple Pay intern who will work with a London-based team. The listing states that Apple Pay is "set to expand across Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa," and that the London group will collaborate with "issuers, payment networks and merchants across Europe."
Airing Thursday in UK
At 9PM GMT on Thursday, BBC One will be airing a documentary on the working conditions in Apple's extended supply chain. The Panorama piece, titled Apple's Broken Promises, focuses initially on conditions at Chinese factories producing the iPhone 6. It also goes into detail on the sources of materials for Apple products, bringing cameras to an Indonesian tin mine where children are digging out materials by hand.
Option already available on iTunes
Apple has begun accepting PayPal at its US and UK online stores, reports note. The option has been present for some time when making a purchase through iTunes, including the App Store and the iBookstore, but missing from Apple's websites. When checking out, PayPal is listed as the only alternative to a credit or debit card.
Could impact the likes of Amazon, Apple, Google
British Chancellor George Osborne has announced a 25 percent tax on "profits generated by multinationals from economic activity here in the UK which they then artificially shift out of the country," the BBC reports. The move is forecast to generate an extra £1 billion in tax revenue over the next five years, on top of £4 billion pulled in from cracking down on tax breaks for banks. Both predictions are disputed by the Office for Budget Responsibility, which suggests that the situation is too complex to pin down definite numbers.
Could hint at new features for Apple Maps
Apple has hired five people linked to the now-defunct developer of a mapping app called Pin Drop, a report says. The app let people bookmark locations and then share them with other people; its developer shut down on October 31st, however, citing a lack of funding. The person responsible for creating the app, Andy Ashburner, may have played a role in getting his team work at Apple.
Could grow from 20 workers to 40 in 2015
Apple will be opening a research and development center in Cambridge, England within the "next few weeks," according to a regional business publication, Business Weekly. The offices are reportedly located at 90 Hills Road, and in the same city as offices for other major tech firms like ARM, Broadcom, Sony, Microsoft, and Qualcomm. It's thought that Apple's presence could start with about 20 workers and grow to as much as 40 within the next year.
Project years in development
Apple will finally open a long-awaited store in Edinburgh, Scotland on October 18, according to an official banner outside the shop. Efforts to build an Edinburgh outlet date back to at least 2010. Once a location on Princes Street was secured, the company then spent over a year in construction. This was followed by another nine-month delay as it worked to finalize the store's design.
Business-class rugged laptop features up to 14 hours of battery life, Intel Core i5
Panasonic announced today that a new entry in its rugged line of notebooks is being released in the UK. The lightweight 14-inch Toughbook CF-LX3 is a notebook that the company says it built for "busy mobile executives." It features a weight of only 2.7 pounds and a battery that can last up to 14 hours depending on activity. Panasonic adds that the Toughbook CF-LX3 can withstand drops from a desk, about a 30-inch fall.
Administrators refer Phones 4U customers to credit card companies
Customers of UK retailer Phones 4U may not receive a refund for their pre-ordered iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. PWC, the administrators of the failed retail chain, has effectively reversed an earlier decision to allow for refunds to proceed, with affected customers now extremely unlikely to receive a refund directly from the company at all.
Offerings advance beyond sports
UK TV network Sky has expanded its Now TV offerings on the Apple TV to include its Entertainment and Movies packages, according to an announcement. The app's user interface is largely the same -- including New In, Most Popular, and Must See categories -- but now extends beyond sports, and has adopted a "flat" look to match the Apple TV's new iOS 8-style aesthetics. The Now TV iOS app has offered a wider range of content for some time.
Google Now adds flight price monitor card shown after Google Flight searches
Google Now has added a new card to its roster, warning users of changes in flight prices. Spotted by Android Police, the card will automatically appear if a flight is searched for via Google Flight Search, though apparently not when using other fare comparison sites, with the card advising of any rise or fall in cost. It is unknown how far the feature has rolled out, nor if it picks up relevant data from standard Google searches or Gmail.
Approximately 900 jobs to be saved by store sale
More stores from failed British mobile phone retailer Phones 4U are being scooped up for use by a second carrier, with shops to be rebranded and reopened in a short space of time. EE, operator of Orange and T-Mobile in the country, has signed a deal with administrators to acquire 58 of the stores from the company, pending court approval, and in the process attempt to keep on 359 affected employees at the locations.
Rebranding of 140 Phones 4U stores to Vodafone expected in coming weeks
European carrier Vodafone is going to attempt to help some of the employees affected by UK retailer Phones 4U's administration proceedings. The mobile phone network will step in and acquire 140 of the chain's stores across the country, and in the process take on approximately 900 of the affected 5,596 staff at the saved locations.
Puts jobs of 5,596 people at risk
UK retailer Phones 4U has gone into administration -- the UK equivalent of bankruptcy protection -- following a decision by network operator EE not to renew a contract ending in September 2015. The company now lacks any network partners, as earlier this month Vodafone said it would skip extending its own contract. All of Phones 4U's 550 stores are shut today, and will only reopen if and when administrators decide business can resume. The situation could endanger the jobs of some 5,596 workers.
UK, Germany first European countries to receive Amazon smartphone
Amazon has lowered the cost of the Fire Phone in the United States, down to 99 cents on a two-year contract. At the same time, the retailer revealed it is bringing the Fire Phone to Europe, with the United Kingdom and Germany set to be the first markets on the continent to receive the device at the end of this month.
deadmau5, Tony Bennett, Placebo among artists
[Updated with iOS app, Apple TV channel news] Another 19 musical acts have been added to the list performing at next month's iTunes Festival in London. Some prominent names include Mary J. Blige, deadmau5, Tony Bennett, Ed Sheeran, Placebo, and Little Dragon. In all, Apple has announced 40 artists, but over 20 more have yet to be made public.
Elbow, David Gray, Lenny Kravitz, First Aid Kit among names
Apple has added another 21 acts to the list performing at next month's iTunes Festival in London. Some of the better-known additions include Jenny Lewis, Elbow, Paolo Nutini, David Gray, The Script, Jessie Ware, Ryan Adams, First Aid Kit, and Lenny Kravitz. Over 60 acts will be playing in total -- previously-announced performers include Beck, Pharrell Williams, Kylie Minogue, Maroon 5, and Robert Plant.
Focuses attention on seldom-promoted service
To promote the App Store's Newsstand section, Apple UK is now giving away five free magazine issues a day through August 22. Shoppers are limited to issues selected by Apple, however. The promotion involves single, but complete, issues of the magazines in question, in hopes of sparking subscriptions or generating more interest in e-magazines generally. The first day's group includes NME, The Economist, Focus, T3, and Glamour.
Manchester United bans electronic devices later than 150mm x 100mm from home game grounds
UK football (soccer) team Manchester United has announced a new ban on iPads and other tablet devices being brought into Old Trafford by its fans. The restriction was instigated by concerns that fans can record large portions of live matches on their tablets, and so the devices now join large bags, large cameras and liquids on the list of prohibited items.
Regulator recognizes game can be played for free, but it's 'severely limited'
It appears that regulators are catching onto the idea that Electronic Art's (EA) Dungeon Keeper mobile game isn't really what could be considered a "free-to-play" game. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), an independent regulator of ads in the UK, ruled this week that ads promoting the game as free-to-play must not appear in the future.
Open beta Explorer program now includes the UK, participants still need to buy-in
Google decided to give customers on the other side of the pond a crack at Google Glass. The company said that is now offering the open beta Explorer program to residents of the UK. This expansion to marks the first time that Google Glass has been sold to residents outside of the United States. However, participation in the program still comes at a hefty price.
Court rules Nintendo infringed on two of three patents in lawsuit from 2012
Nintendo lost its first court battle against Philips Electronics last week over its use of technology in Wii Remotes and associated consoles. The England and Wales High Court ruled that Nintendo infringed upon two of three patents from Phillips that are based on motion, pointing and gesture controlling. The third patent considered for a potential violation, which is for modeling a body in a virtual environment, was found to be invalid.
Could be paving way for hardware refresh
(Updated with cuts on Mac mini, iMac) Apple has quietly reduced the price of the Apple TV across much of Europe. In the UK, the set-top has dipped £20 to £79. In continental countries pricing has been lowered €10 to €99. Elsewhere, though, costs appear to be unchanged. The device is still $99 in the US, for example.
Includes separate iMovie, iBooks workshops
Apple has opened registration for the 2014 edition of its annual Apple Camps. The program is aimed at teaching creative projects to kids aged 8 to 12 while simultaneously promoting Apple products. This year, two sets of three-day workshops are available: one is dedicated to creating a short film using iMovie and the iPad version of GarageBand, while the other involves producing an interactive book using iBooks Author and illustrations done on an iPad.
Online code education platform announces new partnerships in five countries
Codecademy, an educational startup aiming to provide accessible learning of programming code, has announced expansion into five more markets -- the UK, France, Brazil, Estonia and Argentina. Agreements with educational and government groups have allowed Codecademy to be available on a localized level, with partnerships including work on customized programs, and non-English language content. Presently, Codecademy courses remain free.
US, other regions still at 2-3 weeks
Apple's official shipping times for the 2013 Mac Pro have shrunk to one to two weeks in several European nations including the UK, France, Spain, and Germany, checks show. Other online storefronts -- including the US -- are still showing times in the two- to three-week range. If historical trends persist, times in the US should improve in short order.
Yahoo's news app now available for Android
Yahoo has announced the expansion of their news app, now available for Android. Yahoo News Digest now features both International and Canadian news, the latter of which is primarily curated for US and United Kingdom interests. Yahoo News Digest (free) is now available for iOS on iTunes, and Android through Google Play.