Major banks add support two weeks after Apple Pay UK launch
Two more banks have started to accept Apple Pay transactions in the United Kingdom, two weeks after it launched in the country. HSBC and First Direct have joined the growing roster of UK financial institutions supporting Apple Pay, with their customers now able to make contactless payments in stores using the Apple Watch or iPhone 6, though there are still a few notable gaps in the collection of banks.
Amazon Fresh reportedly close to launch in United Kingdom
Amazon is preparing to launch its grocery delivery service in the United Kingdom later this year, according to reports. According to the Times of London and also Recode, the subscription-based Amazon Fresh service, where customers can order a selection of groceries and other consumable items, is apparently at an advanced stage and could start as soon as September, with London said to be the initial launch area.
London Underground users risk penalty fares if devices lose power
Passengers of the London Underground are being warned to make sure they have enough power in their iPhones and Apple Watches to complete the journey when using Apple Pay. Transport for London (TfL) has issued a notice advising users of potential pitfalls when using Apple Pay on the UK capital's transit system, including the possibility of double charging, penalty fares, and being unable to pass through gates.
HSBC confirms it will allow its UK customers to use Apple Pay in near future
HSBC will be joining the ranks of other financial institutions in supporting Apple Pay in the United Kingdom in the coming weeks. While the British arm of HSBC is slow to join the rest of the banks in providing customers the ability to use Apple Pay with their account, one major supermarket in the country has spoken up, claiming Apple Pay will be usable in all of its stores and petrol stations across the UK.
NatWest, RBS, Santander among first banks supporting Apple Pay in UK launch
Just as previously rumored, Apple Pay has gone live in the United Kingdom, approximately nine months after it first launched in the United States. Usable with existing contactless payment systems in more than 250,000 retailers across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, the service includes support for quite a few banks and financial institutions in the country, though there are a few notable banks missing from the initial launch list.
Twitter post matches earlier leak of Apple Pay UK launch date
Apple Pay's launch in the United Kingdom is likely to take place tomorrow, thanks to another leak from a financial institution. A now-deleted post on Twitter by HSBC UK has seemingly confirmed rumors that it will be going live on July 14 in the country, while retailers are also preparing for the launch by placing stickers in their store windows advertising that they will accept Apple's NFC-based mobile payments system.
TiVo offers discounted Roamio DVR to ex-Aereo customers
Customers affected by the shutdown and bankruptcy of streaming live TV service Aereo are being offered assistance by Tivo, in the form of a small discount until the end of the month. The set-top box company is providing the TiVo Roamio OTA for use with HD antennas as well as the TiVo Stream for no upfront cost, with a monthly subscription of $20 for two years.
EE fined by UK telecoms regulator over customer complaint issues
British carrier EE has been fined £1 million ($1.5 million) by regulator Ofcom for failing to resolve customer complaints in a three-year period from July 2011 until April 2014, against Ofcom's Code of Practice. The Next Web reports that EE failed to provide information to consumers about the alternative dispute resolution scheme, a way UK companies and customers can resolve an issue between the two parties by going through an independent body, nor did it send "deadlock letters" to customers when such a stalemate occurs. EE has 20 working days to pay the fine.
Spring expands Direct 2 You deliveries to four new markets
Sprint is bringing its Direct 2 You home delivery and set-up service to two new markets. The latest major expansion of the service, Sprint will now be delivering smartphones and transferring files and user settings between old and new devices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Denver. This brings the total number of cities covered by Direct 2 You to 28, with it expected to roll out to more locations throughout the rest of this year.
New bPay wristband, key fob, sticker provides contactless payments in UK
Barclaycard is expanding the number of ways people in the United Kingdom can make contactless payments, by offering more NFC-equipped items. A bPay sticker, along with a key fob and a wristband, will be going on sale in the country soon, allowing customers to make the contactless payments quickly without having to carry an NFC-equipped smartphone or go through prompts in an accompanying smartphone app.
Gaming news summary for June 29, 2015
Welcome to the Game Replay, the twice-weekly look at the wider world of gaming by the staff of MacNN and Electronista. In today's edition, EA gets a closed alpha of Star Wars: Battlefront ready, an early access game on Steam pays a bug bounty, Nintendo offers more Amiibo models in the UK, and someone preorders Fallout 4 in bottle caps.
Amazon Prime Instant Video starts streaming HDR content
Viewers of Amazon's Prime Instant Video in the United States can now watch some of the service's catalog in a high dynamic range (HDR) mode. The first shows in HDR, Mozart in the Jungle and the pilot of Red Oaks, can be watched on a number of Samsung Ultra HD televisions through the smart TV app, with more programs using HDR and ways to access them said to be on the way.
Deal brings Marvel comics to Kindle Store
Comic book fans now have more of a reason to go to Amazon, as a deal between Marvel and the retailer has brought more than 12,000 digital issues to the Kindle Store, allowing for comics from the Amazing Spiderman, Daredevil, and other franchises to be downloaded to the Kindle app and Kindle ebook readers. The agreement does not affect ComiXology, the digital comic book service owned by Amazon, nor the ComiXology-powered Marvel Comics platform.
BT releasing 4K-capable set-top box, launching Ultra HD sports channel
BT has revealed it will be bringing 4K content to some of its UK customers, alongside the unveiling of extra sporting coverage on BT Sport. Pocket-Lint reports the set-top box will be an upgraded YouView+ device with 1TB of storage, capable of holding 600 hours of SD recording and 250 hours of HD video. The set-top box will be available only to BT Infinity customers when it is released. As for content, the dedicated channel BT Sport Ultra HD is being created, with it showing games from the UEFA Champions League, Barclays Premier League, FA Cup, and Aviva Premiership Rugby.
Browser-based version of Skype widens beta reach, global availability expected in weeks
Microsoft has opened up Skype for Web to more users, pulling it out of the closed beta and making it available to all current Skype users based in the United States or the United Kingdom. The widening of beta access follows after another web-based Skype change, namely a redesign of how Skype for Outlook.com appears and works for users of the browser-based webmail client.
UK sales to be reported via local Amazon subsidiary following government tax crackdown
Amazon is altering its tax affairs in Europe, following pressure from governments and regulatory bodies over the way it and other tech companies attempt to shrink their tax bills. The retailer is starting to run sales it makes in the United Kingdom within the country itself, instead of funneling them through Luxembourg to minimize the amount of tax it pays, a change that is expected to bring in millions in corporation tax to the UK treasury.
Free calls, texts, data offered to potential FreedomPop UK users
FreedomPop, the carrier that provides free calls to its customers, has revealed plans for its launch in Europe, after its trial in Belgium last year. The United Kingdom will be the first country to receive the service when it formally launches this July, which will provide 200 voice minutes, 200 text messages, and 200MB of data per month completely free to users, as well as unlimited free calls and texts to other FreedomPop users.
Google Play adds option to pre-register for Android apps
Android users are now able to pre-register for apps due for release in the near future on Google Play. According to Android Central, Glu Media's Terminator Genisys: Revolution game currently gives the option to sign up for an alert when the app is released, allowing them to buy it as soon as it becomes available. The same system also allows users who have registered their interest to unregister, if they no longer want a release alert for the app.
Tag Heuer smartwatch may have 40 hour battery life
Tag Heuer's high-end smartwatch will be shipping in October or November, according to a report. More details about the Swiss watchmaker's device received by Bloomberg points to a sale price of almost $1,400, and a battery life of around 40 hours from a single charge. Earlier reports point to it as using Android Wear and using Intel components, though it is believed it will be designed to appeal more tot typical buyers of premium smartwatches instead of technology enthusiasts.
Trusted Voice Smart Lock option rolling out to stock Android devices
Owners of devices running stock Android will be able to unlock their smartphones and tablets by uttering "OK Google." Following changes to Google Play Services, Android Police reports that the Trusted Voice unlocking option is starting to roll out, appearing in the Smart Lock settings. Users are warned before setting up Trusted Voice that it is "less secure" than a knowledge-based security measure, such as a PIN or a pattern, as "someone with a similar voice or a recording of your voice could unlock your device."
EE enables Wi-Fi calling, uses phone dialer instead of separate app
British carrier EE has turned on Wi-Fi calling for its subscribers in the United Kingdom. Launching initially on the Lumia 640, with the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge set to offer it from April 10 and more devices in the future, EE's version uses the phone's dialer instead of a secondary app, and will allow customers to make or receive calls and texts from both the cellular network and Wi-Fi hotspots. EE expects to have more than five million of its subscribers capable of using Wi-Fi calling by the summer.
Contested tax code a patch for decades of tax law allowing Irish loophole
As previously reported, the Diverted Profits Tax, also known as the "Google Tax," has come into effect in the United Kingdom today with very few changes to the proposed law. The tax law requires companies to list revenue and profit from other countries, aiding officials to determine if profits are being transferred elsewhere against UK tax code and making them subject to the tax.
Nest thermostat owners in UK complain about British Summer Time glitch
Owners of the Nest thermostat in the United Kingdom are complaining about a glitch where the device fails to respect this weekend's change to British Summer Time. Posts on the Nest support forums spotted by The Register note that the thermostat does recognize the change in time, but the schedule effectively does not take it into effect, with changes being performed one hour later than intended. While Nest works to fix the issue, one user has managed to get around the problem by changing the thermostat's settings, temporarily relocating it in software to Belgium.
Uber launching licensed taxi services in Germany following ban
Uber is going to launch a new service in Germany, following its ban by a local court this month. The court banned Uber over its use of unlicensed cab drivers, reports Reuters, and intends to fine Uber drivers violating local transport laws. A new service will be launching this summer, with Uber paying the commercial passenger transport licenses and to register drives as taxi companies at a cost of between 250 euro ($270) and 400 euro ($435) per driver, most likely under the UberX brand.
Existing BT Broadband customers get discount on new mobile plans
British telecommunications giant BT has started its return to the mobile phone market earlier than expected, by offering its customers cellular connections. Becoming a carrier once again, after spinning off what would become O2 in 2001, BT is providing modest SIM-only contracts to consumers, with existing home broadband customers getting a monthly discount on their plan.
Amazon expands Prime Now one-hour deliveries to Dallas
Amazon Prime Now, the retailer's high-speed delivery service, is opening up in Dallas. Just as with its other Prime Now locations, Prime subscribers in the fourth location will be able to use a mobile app on iOS and Android to place orders for groceries and household goods, between 8am and 10pm seven days a week, with TechCrunch reporting it still costs $8 for one-hour deliveries, while two-hour deliveries are free.
Acquisition of rival carrier by Three owner could create largest UK mobile carrier
The owner of British carrier O2 has agreed to sell the company to Hutchison Whampoa, the result of negotiations between the two owners which started in January. Telefonica, the owner of O2, has confirmed it will be handing over the carrier for £10.25 billion ($1.53 billion), with the deal still to receive regulatory approval before it can close completely.
Fire TV range adds external USB storage support, hidden PIN entry
Amazon has made a number of changes to its Fire TV and Fire TV Stick media streamers, as part of a software update. Changes to the devices, including the notable addition of support for external USB drives for extra local storage, come just in time before the retailer releases the Fire TV Stick in the United Kingdom, six months after the Fire TV shipped in the country.
Twitter starts testing automatic playing of promoted videos in iOS apps
Twitter is starting to test automatically-playing videos in its apps. According to Ad Age, the service will autoplay promoted video ads to some Twitter users in the United States using the official iOS app. While the videos will play muted, some users will see a looping six-second preview while others will see the the full video in a loop, with both groups able to select the video to view it full screen and with sound turned on.
Free computer hardware heading to students this fall in BBC coding effort
The BBC is continuing in its attempts to promote digital literacy in the United Kingdom, by providing approximately 1 million devices to children. The broadcaster will be providing the Micro Bit, a compact electronic board inspired by the BBC Micro from the 1980s, to students in secondary schools this fall, which it hopes will encourage a new generation of coders to create software.
Currys PC World hosts first Google-branded store in UK
Google has taken inspiration from the retail efforts of other tech companies, including Microsoft and Samsung, in opening its first "store within a store" under the Google brand. Called "The Google Shop," the store is located inside a branch of national retailer Currys PC World on Tottenham Court Road in London, and will be used to showcase a selection of Android devices, Chromebooks, and the Chromecast.
Vodafone bringing VoLTE, Wi-Fi calling to UK subscribers this summer
British carrier Vodafone is bringing two improvements to its mobile phone network. Wi-Fi calling will start rolling out to customers this summer, helping customers located in areas with poor mobile phone signal. The carrier is also going to introduce VoLTE, allowing for voice calls with a higher call quality to take place over its 4G network.
Upcoming UK Budget to include tax proposal to fight offshore fund diversion
The United Kingdom government is still planning to charge large technology companies a hefty tax bill if they divert funds abroad in tax-avoidance schemes, a report claims. George Osborne, current Chancellor of the Exchequer, is expected to announce the 25-percent "Google Tax" as part of the UK Budget announcements, due to take place later this month, with companies involved also being subject to more stringent monitoring of their finances.
News from the video game industry for the week of February 15
Every Sunday, MacNN and Electronista gather together a selection of notable news from the world of gaming into one post. In this week's Weekly Game Replay, we talk about Epic Games fostering development by providing $5 million in grants to Unreal Engine 4 projects, Twitch announcing its first convention, and the revelation that Kanye West is making a game.
Utility classification accompanied by calls to improve speeds, digital skills education
Internet access must be classified as a public utility, a report from the upper house of the United Kingdom parliament has declared, with speeds and the teaching of "digital skills" also a priority. Echoing the similar Title II discussion in the United States, the UK's House of Lords calls for the government to "define the Internet as a utility service, available for all to access and use," citing the prevalence of the Internet in everyday life.
First UK banks to use Touch ID to secure banking apps
Banks in the United Kingdom are starting to use Touch ID in their iOS apps for the first time. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and NatWest are rolling out Touch ID support to their banking apps starting from tomorrow, allowing bank customers to sign into the app using their fingerprint on iPhones, instead of using the current lengthy passcode system.
UK-based music tastemaker heading to United States for Apple job
Apple will soon be getting more help with its musical ambitions, as it has reportedly hired BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe. The New Zealand-born radio personality, known in the United Kingdom as a tastemaker and helped launch the musical careers of stars including Adele and the Arctic Monkeys, will be quitting the station next month before moving to the United States to work with Apple.
Streaming video service Target Ticket shuttering next month
Target is shutting down its video streaming service next month. Target Ticket has already stopped providing rentals, though existing rentals will be viewable until the service shuts down completely on March 7, according to its support pages. The retailer has already made arrangements for its customers to watch movies through CinemaNow from the same account when Ticket closes, with any UltraViolet purchases viewable through other supported video services automatically.
Three-year investment program aims to provide 4G to more than 99 percent of population
British carrier EE has pledged to spend £1.5 billion ($2.3 billion) over the next three years to spread LTE service across the United Kingdom. The carrier plans to flood the country with 4G/LTE coverage, and is aiming to cover more than 99 percent of the population with the higher-speed service by 2017, exceeding its current footprint for its aging 2G service, and blanket 90 percent of the UK geography with the high-speed wireless connection.
Sling TV accepting new customer registrations without an invitation
Dish Network's Sling TV has been opened up to new registrations without requiring an invitation, following its soft launch. Spotted by GigaOM, the Internet TV service provides a trial week of usage before requiring users to pay for access. While the basic package includes live access to 15 channels for $20 per month, a collection of three add-on packages containing channels relating to news and information, kids and family, and sports can all be added at $5 per extra bundle.
UK broadcaster gets closer to offering quad-play services to customers
British pay-TV provider Sky will be moving into the mobile phone business, it has announced. The satellite broadcaster confirmed earlier reports that it would be working with the Telefonica-owned carrier O2 to have wholesale access to its 2G, 3G, and LTE mobile phone network and provide carrier functions to its subscribers, as part of a multi-year deal.
Google adds Send Money option to Gmail in United Kingdom
Google is adding the Send Money option to Gmail in the United Kingdom. Originally available to US users since 2013, the option allows users to attach funds to an outbound email by selecting the £ symbol, which can also be used to request money, with funds transferred between users via Google Wallet. The feature is rolling out to all Gmail users in the UK over the age of 18 in the coming weeks.
Motorola details online store discounts for early February
Motorola will be offering multiple discounts on devices in its mobile store, as part of a Valentine's Day promotion. From February 3 until February 14, the manufacturer is discounting pre-tax purchases worth $500 by $100, or $35 off $250 purchases, though an customers registering for the promotion within a one-hour window on February 2 will get codes worth $140 and $50 off the $500 and $250 respective purchases.
Acquisition of O2 by parent company of competitor Three could cost $15.4B
Telefonica, owner of British carrier O2, and Hutchison Whampoa, the parent company of competitor Three, have confirmed they are in talks over a potential acquisition, following earlier reports. The two have entered "exclusive negotiations," which could see O2 change hands for an estimated £10.25 billion ($15.4 billion) if discussions between the executive teams succeed.
Early-stage talks could see Sky selling O2 lines to customers in quad play package
British carrier O2 has received some considerable interest in recent months, with broadcaster Sky allegedly in discussions with the mobile phone network. Reports claim Sky and O2-owner Telefonica are in early-stage talks, which could lead to a potential "strategic partnership" offering lines to customers rather than a touted acquisition similar to the one said to be under negotiation between O2 and competitor Three.
Spotify adds darker theme, Your Music, new Browse option to Windows Phone app
Spotify has updated the Windows Phone version of its music streaming app, bringing it in line with the Android and iOS apps. Using a darker theme and an updated user interface, the app now includes Your Music, allowing users to manage their favorite tracks and albums, while the Browse function is said to offer more localized and personalized content, such as playlists based on the time of day.
Hutchison Whampoa said to be in talks with Telefonica over O2 acquisition
British carrier O2 may be the latest target for acquisition by another telecommunications company. Hutchison Whampoa, the company behind competitor Three, is apparently said to be in early-stage talks to take over O2 from current owner Telefonica, with a report claiming it could change hands for as much as £9 billion ($13.6 billion) if the discussions are fruitful.
Accused of DDoS against PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, swatting attempts
Another arrest has been made in the United Kingdom, over distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live online services, as well as instances of "swatting." An unidentified 18-year-old man was arrested in Southport this morning, with computers and other electronic devices seized by law enforcement officials for further investigation.
Coolpix S3700 offers 20MP sensor, 8x optical zoom, Wi-Fi, NFC
Nikon is expanding its Coolpix range with three more compact cameras in the United Kingdom. The Coolpix S2900 and the Coolpix S3700 pack a 20-megapixel CCD image sensor inside their small and colorful casings, while the Coolpix L31 is a cheaper model with a 16-megapixel CCD sensor, powered by easily-replaceable AA batteries.