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Posts Tagged ‘iTunes’

NFC powered mobile payments may be the future, and Apple is taking the lead

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Google and Samsung partnered up to release the world’s first NFC-enabled handset running the Android OS, the Nexus S. But, as anticipated, Apple has started to prepare their defenses. Bloomberg reports that NFC, or Near Field Communications will be embedded in Appple’s 5th generation of iPhone and their soon-to-be-announced iPad 2. This will allow these devices to be used as mobile payment terminals when they come within a certain distance of an NFC-powered register. Richard Doherty, director of consulting firm Envisioneering Group spoke with Bloomberg and told them that

The services are based on “Near-Field Communication,” a technology that can beam and receive information at a distance of up to 4 inches, due to be embedded in the next iteration of the iPhone for AT&T Inc. and the iPad 2, Doherty said. Both products are likely to be introduced this year, he said, citing engineers who are working on hardware for the Apple project.

The payment system would tie into your iTunes account, accessing your credit card information within the program’s database. Although at first this seems a bit scary, it’s a convenient method that a lot of consumers use on a regular basis. PayPal, eBay, Amazon, iTunes and other online-based shopping experiences tap into your bank account directly based on the information you input when signing up for accounts. However, who is to say that this technology could not be used in a negative manner. What if hackers stumble upon a method of using NFC to transfer funds from your mobile device tapped to your checking/savings account into an account of their own? Anyone passing by you in a busy place could sap money with a few seconds without you, or the thief ever making any awkward/obvious movements. Next-gen pick pockets could have a field day.

As for other uses of NFC technology, earlier rumors via TUAW and MacDailyNews, suggested that Apple has been working on NFC-enabled Mac computers as well. Apple would essentially morph your phone into “a passcode-protected electronic wallet or security passkey (like a SecureID fob) that would communicate via the short-range wireless technology to other compatible devices.” Your iPhone would transfer the personality of your home or work Mac to the NFC-compatible terminal. If hotel rooms and other public places adopted the use of this technology, no one would need to carry a MacBook around. Simply swipe your iPhone 5 in front of the supplied public-access Mac and poof. You now have your computer in front of you.  Once you walk away from the remote Mac, it reverts back to its initial personality, with all of your information disappearing from the Mac but securely stored on your iPhone, notes TUAW.

NFC technology was introduced to the public as a gamble on Google’s part, but may change the way we interact with objects on a daily basis in the coming years due to Apple. Come on Steve, we know Bill stole your thunder way back when, but is vengeance projected onto Google really necessary? I personally don’t mind. As I said in the iOS 4.3 article, I love this kind of competition. Let the games begin.

[Sources: TUAW, MobileMarketingWatch, MacDailyNews, Bloomberg]

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App Store hits 10,000,000,000 downloads

January 23, 2011 Leave a comment

As of yesterday, January 22, 2011, Apple’s App Store has hit 10,000,000,000 downloads. That is a crap-ton of individual apps downloaded from their application directory. Leading up to this epic sale, Apple has been promoting a campaign on their website with a countdown until the 10 billionth app was downloaded. The owner of the 10 billionth app was promised a $10,000 iTunes giftcard and if it was a photo app, MacPhun promised an additional $1,000 gift card (or $5,000 for their app FC Photo Studio). Unfortunately for Gail Davis of Orpington, Kent, UK, it was neither of these. Davis purchased Paper Glider, a free app that engages the gamer in some finger-flicking fun.

10,000,000,000 apps… that’s an incredible feat. Think of it like this, there were more apps downloaded from the App Store than there are people on the entire planet. The Android Market is at 2,750,800,000, and moving at a pace of 1,000 apps every 9 seconds ,while the App Store is at a much faster rate of 1,000 apps every 3 seconds. Sorry Android, just another place where you have fallen short compared to the corporate behemoth.

[Source: Apple]

iOS 4.3 will include photo-heavy features: FaceTime for iPad, PhotoBooth and PhotoStream service

January 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Apple’s developer release of iOS 4.3 Beta 2 has provided solid evidence that the iPad2 will have at least one camera. This release included a home page icons image that’s used in the wallpaper settings, showing the standard icons on your choice of wallpaper to preview how your choice will appear (any iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad user should be familiar with this). On the image provided, 3 new icons were discovered: FaceTime, Camera and PhotoBooth. The Camera app doesn’t necessarily discern whether there will be a front and back-facing camera set, but it implies there will be at least one on the device. FaceTime is by no means a surprise, but helps to cement the addition of a camera to the hardware, considering the use of FaceTime on the next-gen iPad has been discussed feverishly for the last few months.

PhotoBooth is a nice complement to the camera. I have been wishing for the inclusion of Apple photo editing software in one of the firmware upgrades for a while now, and am happy to see PhotoBooth ported from Mac OS X to their handheld series. For those of you unfamiliar with PhotoBooth, the primary feature that will be transferred to iOS is quoted [from their website] as:

The fun begins.

Sure, you can take regular photos, but the real fun starts when you use the cool effects and backdrops in Photo Booth. Snap a photo of yourself at the Eiffel Tower or in outer space. Twist and twirl your smile with the strange Twirl effect. Add an artistic look with the Colored Pencil effect. Experiment with all the effects to transform your look.

Many third-party developers have created their own renditions of photo editing apps for the App Store, but I feel as if PhotoBooth will be the perfect solution. (Then again, I loved iMovie, but it wasn’t received too terribly well.) The last chunk of the photo features rumored/confirmed to be arriving in iOS 4.3 lay in what has become known as PhotoStream. The following is speculation from 9to5Mac, written by Mark Gurman, and I felt it was incredibly interesting:

Hidden deep in the iOS 4.3 file system is a new folder titled “Media Stream.” Within that folder is some information about “Photo Streaming.” From the looks of different alerts and plists, it appears that Apple will let iPhone users set up “Photo Streams” that friends could “subscribe” to. Also, it looks like there will be some privacy preferences related to this, so you can choose who is allowed to view your “Streams.”

With Photo Streams, you will also be allowed to “invite” other users to view your pictures as you take them and upload them to a service. This service looks like it is connected to MobileMe, and we speculate that “Media Stream” can be directly connected to “Find my Friends.” We think Find my Friends will be another aspect of Apple’s social network, a part of a free MobileMe, where you can choose to view your friends’ “Photo Streams” all on that same map. Apple has a patent on something called iGroups relating to this. This would clearly tie into the Mac and iOS photo app’s Places feature. From looking at the SDK, it looks like “Media Stream” could very well also have a plugin counterpart, like AirPlay, in 3rd party apps.

From the actual operating system, not the SDK, we could only find references and graphics relating to the “Photo Stream” feature, not the “Media Stream” feature in general. We speculate that Apple is currently working on “Media Stream” and this is going to go way beyond photos in the future. We think Apple will expand this to music and videos, maybe like AirPlay between mobile iOS devices where you can watch or listen to your friends’ media and of course Apple will provide easy buy links to iTunes.

I actually hope that Mr. Gurman is correct in most of his theories. Sounds like a fantastic step forward out of Apple Nazi-dom and into a more people-friendly space. Besides, Facebook is good and all, but I would love to see Apple create a legitimate contender.

[Sources: TUAW, MacRumors, 9to5Mac, Apple]

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