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FTC Levies $40M Fine Against TracFone for Throttling Unlimited Data Customers

Posted by | January 28, 2015.
tracfone_4

In recent months, the Federal Trade Commission has taken a significant interest in carrier throttling practices and today handed down a ruling that could have future ramifications for carriers who throttle their unlimited customers.

As reported by Re/code, the FTC has ordered prepaid wireless carrier TracFone to pay $40 million to consumers who paid for unlimited service and were then throttled after reaching certain data limits.

TracFone advertised “unlimited text, talk, and data” for $45 a month under the brands Straight Talk, Net10, Simple Mobile, and Telcel America, and until September 2013, did not clearly disclose its throttling policies that saw customers experiencing data speeds that were cut by up to 90 percent, thereby violating the FTC Act.

While this ruling only affects TracFone at the current time, there are several other carriers that have similar practices for their unlimited customers. AT&T and Verizon no longer offer unlimited data plans, but continue to provide unlimited data for many people who remain on grandfathered plans. AT&T has engaged in throttling practices for years, often cutting off customers who exceed 5GB of LTE data usage.

“The issue here is simple: when you promise consumers ‘unlimited,’ that Continue Reading

Sony’s ‘Music Unlimited’ Service Shutting Down After Failing to Emerge as Viable iTunes Alternative

Posted by | January 28, 2015.
Sony Music Unlimited App

Sony announced on Wednesday that it will be shutting down its Music Unlimited on-demand streaming music service ahead of launching Spotify on PlayStation Music. Music Unlimited will shut down in all 19 countries it operated on March 29, 2015, with nearly all of the countries among the 41 regions that Spotify for PlayStation Music will be available upon launch, including the United States, Canada, Mexico and Brazil.

Music Unlimited launched in December 2010 on PlayStation Network in several countries worldwide, and the service was later extended to iPhone [Direct Link], Android, PlayStation Vita and other devices and platforms. In February 2011, it was reported that Sony viewed Music Unlimited as a potential iTunes Store alternative and that it was considering pulling music from Apple’s platform if its own service became successful.

“If we do [get mass take up] then does Sony Music need to provide content to iTunes?” Mr Ephraim asked. “Currently we do. We have to provide it to iTunes as that’s the format right now.”

“Publishers are being held to ransom by Apple and they are looking for other delivery systems, and we are waiting to see what the next three to five Continue Reading

Marissa Mayer Says Yahoo Would ‘Welcome the Opportunity’ to Become Default Safari Search Engine

Posted by | January 28, 2015.
Yahoo App

Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, during the company’s quarterly earnings call on Tuesday, expressed interest in Yahoo becoming the default search engine in Safari. Mayer recognized the significance that getting Yahoo in front of Mac, iPhone and iPad could have for the search engine, referring to Apple’s default web browser as “one of the premier search deals in the world if not the premier search deal in the world.”

“The Safari platform is basically one of the premier search deals in the world if not the premier search deal in the world,” Mayer told RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney. “We’re definitely in the search distribution business. I think that we’ve stated that really clearly in the past and I think with Mozilla and also in addition we brought Amazon eBay on board with smaller distribution partnerships in Q4.”

Google renewed its search partnership with Apple in 2010, although the contract is reportedly set to expire in 2015 and, supported by the fact that Google Maps and YouTube are no longer stock iOS apps, Apple is speculated to be considering a number of options. Back in November, it was reported that both <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.front.macrumors.com/2014/11/25/yahoo-microsoft-apple-search-engine/" title="Yahoo and Microsoft Court Apple as Continue Reading

YouTube Begins Using HTML5 Instead of Flash for Default Video Playback [iOS Blog]

Posted by | January 28, 2015.
youtube.png

YouTube yesterday announced it has begun using HTML5 video by default for all playback on its website, marking a substantial step in its gradual move away from Flash. The company states the new default will work in most popular web browsers including Safari.

Richard Leider, Engineering Manager for YouTube, reiterated on the adaptability of HTML5 over Flash and the use of the former’s capabilities beyond a simple web browser. With YouTube’s extension to devices like gaming consoles, and even the Apple TV, the benefits of dropping Flash became far more apparent over the years.

Over the last four years, we’ve worked with browser vendors and the broader community to close those gaps, and now, YouTube uses HTML5 by default in Chrome, IE 11, Safari 8 and in beta versions of Firefox.

The benefits of HTML5 extend beyond web browsers, and it’s now also used in smart TVs and other streaming devices.

The new shift to HTML5 will allow better video streaming in adjustment to shifting network conditions, quicker video playback, easier access to 60 FPS HD and 4K content, with updates to encrypted media extensions that will allow the service to overall be “faster and smoother.” Continue Reading

FCC Warns Hotels About Intentionally Blocking Wi-Fi Hotspots [iOS Blog]

Posted by | January 28, 2015.
instanthotspot

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday issued a public enforcement advisory that warns hotel chains and other commercial establishments about intentionally blocking or interfering with Wi-Fi hotspots. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau claims that interfering with Wi-Fi hotspots is illegal and that it will take appropriate action against violators by imposing substantial fines.

The warning follows an FCC investigation in which the government agency discovered a so-called “disturbing trend” where hotels and other commercial establishments were purposefully blocking wireless customers from connecting to their Wi-Fi hotspots. Marriott Hotels was found to have “deployed a Wi-Fi deauthentication protocol” to block customers from accessing Wi-Fi and agreed to pay a $600,000 fine.

iPhone users have long resorted to Personal Hotspot to turn their cellular data connection into a Wi-Fi network for the purpose of tethering a Mac or other connected device. Apple made Personal Hotspot more convenient in iOS 8 with Instant Hotspot, a new feature that automatically detects when an iPhone is within close range of an iPad or Mac and displays the device in the list of available Wi-Fi networks.

Continue Reading

iPod Shuffle Shipping Times Improve to 5-7 Days in Europe Following Reports of Supplier Change [iOS Blog]

Posted by | January 28, 2015.
iPod shuffle

Earlier this month, the iPod shuffle’s shipping estimates slipped to 7-10 days in the United States, Europe and other regions, leading to speculation as to whether the portable media player would soon be discontinued or was going through reported supplier changes. Today, we are beginning to see a clearer picture.

For now, it appears that the iPod shuffle will continue to live on. iGen.fr was first to notice today that shipping times for the iPod shuffle have improved to 5-7 days on the Apple Online Store in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and some other European countries. The improved shipping times are not reflected in the United States or Canada storefronts yet, which still display shipping estimates of 7-10 days.

While demand for the iPod shuffle has been overshadowed by devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch, the portable media player remains a convenient and affordable option for incorporating into a daily workout routine or similar. The current fourth-generation iPod shuffle with front-facing media controls was introduced in 2010 and has not been updated since outside of a few color changes.

Continue Reading

Quad-Core 2012 Mac Mini Mysteriously Reappears on Apple’s U.S. Online Store

Posted by | January 27, 2015.
2012 Mac Mini Apple Online Store

Apple today has mysteriously added back a 2012 model Mac mini to the Apple Online Store for $699. The over two-year-old machine still has the same hardware specifications as it did in 2012, including a 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB of RAM and Intel HD Graphics 4000. The listing also shows that the computer ships with OS X Mavericks installed.

It is unknown if the outdated Mac mini has mistakenly resurfaced on the Apple Online Store, or if Apple intentionally reintroduced the model on its website. One plausible reason that Apple may be making this older Mac mini available for purchase again is to provide customers with a quad-core option, as the existing 2014 models are each powered by dual-core Intel Core i5 processors.

The entry-level Mac is listed as out of stock in the United States, and MacRumors could not find the model listed for sale elsewhere after spot checks of the Apple Online Store in Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and several other countries. Apple still offers a refurbished version of the same 2012 Mac mini for $589 on its website, although that model is also currently out of stock.

Continue Reading

iOS 8.1.3 Fixes Exploits Used by TaiG Jailbreak [iOS Blog]

Posted by | January 27, 2015.
taigjailbreak

It appears that today’s iOS 8.1.3 update fixes many of the exploits that were used for the iOS 8 TaiG jailbreak, which worked up until iOS 8.1.2. The earlier Pangu jailbreak was disabled with the iOS 8.1.1 update that was released on November 17.

TaiG has not yet confirmed whether iOS 8.1.3 breaks its jailbreak tool, but reports on the MacRumors forums and on Twitter suggest that is indeed the case. Apple’s support document detailing the security fixes in iOS 8.1.3 credits the TaiG jailbreak team for four vulnerability fixes.

At the current time, Apple is still signing iOS 8.1.2 so it’s possible to downgrade from iOS 8.1.3 back to iOS 8.1.2 or upgrade to iOS 8.1.2 from an earlier version of iOS, but that could end at any time.

Released this morning, iOS 8.1.3 includes a range of bug fixes including a repair for a lingering Wi-Fi issue, and it also reduces the amount of storage space required to perform an iOS update.

Continue Reading

Tim Cook: Apple Watch on Schedule to Ship in April [iOS Blog]

Posted by | January 27, 2015.
applewatch1

During today’s earnings call covering the first fiscal quarter of 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook shared some new details on the prospective launch date of the Apple Watch. According to Cook, Apple Watch development is currently on schedule, and the company is planning to ship the device in April.

Development for Apple Watch is right on schedule, and we expect to begin shipping in April.

When the Apple Watch was announced, Apple gave a vague “Early 2015″ launch date for the device, making it unclear when it would actually ship. Several rumors recently pointed towards a March launch date for the device, but it appears it will actually begin shipping out to consumers a month later, in April.

Cook confirmed that the Apple Watch’s April shipping date was within the expected range of early 2015, which Apple considers to be the first four years of the month. Cook also said there are some amazing apps in the works for the device, and he mentioned that he couldn’t live without the Apple Watch.

My expectations are very high on it. I’m using it every day and love it and can’t live without it.

Now that we know when the Apple Continue Reading

Tim Cook: Apple Has Sold More Than 1 Billion iOS Devices [iOS Blog]

Posted by | January 27, 2015.
iphone6-stock

Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed on Tuesday during the company’s quarterly earnings call that it has sold more than 1 billion iOS devices to date since launching the original iPhone over seven years ago. According to Cook, the impressive milestone, which accounts for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, was reached in December and was helped along by a record-breaking 74.5 million iPhones sold in Q1 2015.

Cook emphasized that iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus demand was stronger than any other iPhone it has ever released, selling at a pace of roughly 34,000 devices per hour. The success of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus was aided by the widest international rollout of an iOS device to date, with the smartphone launching in more places than ever before and in a total of 130 countries.

1 Billion iOS devices shipped!!

— Philip Schiller (@pschiller) January 27, 2015

Continue Reading

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Brought More Android Switchers, New Customers Than Prior Models

Posted by | January 27, 2015.
iphone6-stock

During today’s earnings call covering the first fiscal quarter of 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked about the sales split between the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. He declined to provide specific numbers on the split, but he did confirm that the iPhone 6 was the most popular device.

“Obviously to sell 74.5 million devices, they were all popular,” Cook said. “Both did incredibly well. We’re really proud of them, along with the iPhone 5s and 5c.”

According to Cook, there was some clear geographical preference for the iPhone 6 vs the iPhone 6 Plus. Some locations skewed higher to iPhone 6 Plus preference, while others preferred the iPhone 6. He didn’t specify which regions preferred which devices, but data has suggested Asian countries favored the iPhone 6 Plus.

During the call, Cook also mentioned that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus brought the highest Android switcher rate over the course of the last three years and that there’s still a lot of opportunity to see growth as only a “small fraction” of existing iPhone users (in the low teens) have upgraded to a new device. The iPhone 6 and Continue Reading

Apple Pay Responsible for Two of Every Three Contactless Payments on Visa, MasterCard, and American Express [iOS Blog]

Posted by | January 27, 2015.
applepaytouchid

Since its introduction in October, Apple Pay has accounted for two of every three dollars spent through contactless payments on Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, according to information Apple shared with MarketWatch after posting its earnings for the first fiscal quarter of 2015.

Though Apple did not breakout Apple Pay earnings in its results, earlier reports and prior details shared by the company suggest the payments service is seeing some early success.

Apple Pay had more than 1 million card activations during the first 72 hours Apple Pay was available, and in November, Apple Pay captured a total of 1 percent of all digital payment dollars.

Thus far, Apple Pay has proven to be most popular at Whole Foods, with the speciality grocery store responsible for 20 percent of all Apple Pay transactions and 28 percent of all Apple Pay spending. Walgreens and McDonald’s were also popular with Apple Pay users.

Apple Pay is still in its infancy, limited to the United States. In the coming months, Apple plans to expand to several other locations across Europe, Canada, and Asia. In the United States, Apple Pay now supports cards Continue Reading

Apple Reports Record Earnings and iPhone Sales: $18B Profit on $74.6B in Revenue for Q1 2015

Posted by | January 27, 2015.
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Apple today announced financial results for the first fiscal quarter of 2015, which corresponds to the fourth calendar quarter of 2014. For the quarter, Apple posted revenue of $74.6 billion and net quarterly profit of $18 billion, or $3.06 per diluted share, compared to revenue of $57.6 billion and net quarterly profit of $13.1 billion, or $1.98 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter.

Gross margin for the quarter was 39.9 percent compared to 37.9 percent in the year-ago quarter, with international sales accounting for 65 percent of revenue. Apple also declared an upcoming dividend payment of $0.47 per share, payable on February 9 to shareholders of record as of February 12. The company currently holds $178 billion in cash and marketable securities.

Apple sold a record 74.5 million iPhones during the quarter, up from 51 million a year earlier, while Mac sales were also strong with 5.5 million units sold, up from 4.8 million units in the year-ago quarter. iPad sales were down, however, falling to 21.4 million from 26 million.

“We’d like to thank our customers for an incredible quarter, which saw demand for Apple products soar to an all-time high,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s Continue Reading

How to Watch Super Bowl XLIX on Your iPad or Computer [iOS Blog]

Posted by | January 27, 2015.
superbowl

Super Bowl XLIX is airing this Sunday, with the New England Patriots facing off against the Seattle Seahawks. If you don’t have a cable subscription, you might be worried about missing the game — but rest easy, there are several ways to watch if you have an iPad, computer, or Verizon iPhone.

We’ve outlined all of the ways you can catch the Super Bowl in the video below, and we’ve also got a walkthrough complete with links in this post.

iPad and iPod touch

NBC is running a promotion called “Super Stream Sunday” that will let all U.S.-based users watch 11 continuous hours of NBC content through the NBC Sports Live Extra app on the iPad or iPod touch.

The app normally requires a cable subscription and authentication to log in, but beginning at noon Eastern Time on February 1, the login requirements will be eliminated. NBC’s Super Stream Sunday will include the full game, the halftime show with Katy Perry, and pre- and post-game shows.

Apple TV users can use AirPlay mirroring to watch content from their iPads on their televisions.

The NBC Sports Live Extra app Continue Reading

Hands-On With the Reach79 Signal Boosting Case – Does It Work?

Posted by | January 27, 2015.
reach79iphone6

Earlier this month, we shared an iPhone case called the Reach79, which debuted at CES. The Reach79 case claimed to boost the signal strength and performance of the iPhone, improving battery life, reducing dropped calls, and improving download speeds, statements that were quite controversial in our forums.

Readers were understandably skeptical of the Reach79’s promise that it could deliver up to 2x stronger signal strength, so MacRumors decided to go hands-on with the Reach79 case to see if we could prove the company’s claims.

We’ve been extensively testing the Reach79 case on an iPhone 6 Plus for more than a week in various areas around the San Francisco Bay Area, but after several days of use, it remains difficult to conclusively say that the case improves signal in a meaningful way due to mixed test results. For a quick summary of what we found, scroll down to the “Bottom Line” section, or read on for our full results.

Our Testing

We used the Reach79 case on an iPhone 6 Plus connected to the AT&T network on multiple days, at multiple times, and in multiple locations, both indoor and outdoor. The phone was put into Continue Reading

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