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OS X El Capitan Public Beta 4 now available for testers

Today, 05:06 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News

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Hot on the heels of the latest developer beta, Apple has released a new version of the OS X El Capitan Public Beta as well. Members of the Apple Beta Software Program can download the new release through the Updates section on the Mac App Store.

Remember that though this is a public beta, it isn't completely open. If you're interested in participating, you'll have to sign up at the Apple Beta Software Program website to get started. The public version of OS X 10.11 El Capitan is expected to this fall with improvements to Safari, Spotlight search, and the debut of Apple's Metal graphics framework on the Mac platform.

If you're interested in the OS X El Capitan public beta, hit up the link below for everything you need to know.

OS X public beta: The ultimate guide



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Apple Pay signs up 43 new U.S. banks and credit unions, b...

Today, 04:45 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News

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Apple Pay keeps rolling along, and has gained support for 43 more banks and credit unions in the United States. This brings the total number of U.S. financial institutions supporting the system up to 421. Apple Pay allows owners of the iPhone 6 iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple Watch to pay for items with their devices.

Check out the complete list of new banks and credit unions below.

  • 1st United Services Credit Union
  • Align Credit Union
  • Atlantic Regional FCU
  • Bank of Marin
  • Bank of Oklahoma
  • Central Pacific Bank
  • Community and Southern Bank
  • Countryside Bank
  • Dominion Credit Union
  • DuPage Credit Union
  • Dutch Point Credit Union
  • First Bank of Dalton
  • First Clover Bank
  • First Collinsville Bank
  • First County Bank
  • First Midwest Bank
  • First National Bank of McGregor
  • First State Bank Nebraska
  • Greater Iowa Credit Union
  • Gulf Coast Educators FCU
  • Harborone Bank
  • Horizon Bank
  • Illinois National Bank
  • Jax Federal Credit Union
  • LGE Community Credit Union
  • Meadows Credit Union
  • Meridian Trust Federal Credit Union
  • Metro Health Services FCU
  • Northwest Federal Credit Union
  • Premier Bank
  • SAC FCU
  • The Bank of Commerce
  • The Cooperative Bank
  • The Paducah Bank and Trust
  • Thomaston Savings Bank
  • TTCU The Credit Union
  • UniBank for Savings
  • United Bank
  • US Community Credit Union
  • USE Credit Union
  • USF Federal Credit Union
  • West Alabama Bank & Trust
  • Westerra Credit Union1st United Services Credit Union

Apple Pay recently expanded overseas for the first time, launching in the U.K. last month. Reports have also indicated that it could move into Canada by the end of the year.

Source: Apple



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Taylor Swift reveals how her letter to Apple came about

Today, 04:26 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News

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Taylor Swift has revealed a little more about how her letter to Apple came about, and the company's reaction to it. In the September cover story for Vanity Fair, Swift talks about how nervous writing the letter made her, how she wrote it in the middle of the night, and what how she shared it with only one person before publishing: her mother.

Swift said she was surprised by Apple's reaction, almost immediately changing course on its terms for compensation during Apple Music's free trial:

From Vanity Fair:

Apple surprised Swift by almost immediately changing its plan not to compensate artists during the trial period of its new streaming service. Says Swift, "Apple treated me like I was a voice of a creative community that they actually cared about," she says. "And I found it really ironic that the multi-billion-dollar company reacted to criticism with humility, and the start-up with no cash flow reacted to criticism like a corporate machine."

The now-famous letter was written in regards to Apple's original plan not to compensate artists for their music during the free trial of Apple Music. Following the company's reversal of that policy, Swift announced that her entire catalog, including her latest album, 1989, would stream on Apple Music.

You can read the full interview with Swift at the link below.

Source: Vanity Fair



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Apple hangs up on rumors of a virtual network service

Today, 04:03 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News

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Apple has explicitly refuted a recent report that it would create its own virtual network cellular service, or MVNO. The company was said to be in negotiations with carriers in the U.S. and Europe, but it now appears that this was not the case.

From CNBC:

BREAKING: Apple says it has not discussed & is not planning MVNO cellular service following reports saying it was planning on doing that.

— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) August 4, 2015

An MVNO service leases cellular bandwidth from carriers like AT&T and Verizon to create a virtual network, often offering less expensive service to the MVNO's customers. According to the report from Business Insider, Apple's service would have featured a SIM that seamlessly switched between networks, which is how Google's Project Fi works.

Source: CNBC (Twitter)



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Thunderstrike 2: What you need to know

Today, 04:00 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News

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There's not much new to Thunderstrike 2, but you should still stay informed about it.

Thunderstrike 2 is the latest in a line of Mac security vulnerabilities that, due to sensationalized reporting, are often a greater risk to customer stress levels than they are actual physical hardware. Still, as reported by Wired, Thunderstrike 2 is absolutely something every Mac owner should be aware of and informed about. So let's do that.

What's a firmware worm?

A firmware worm is a type of attack that targets the part of a computer responsible for booting it up and launching the operating system. On Windows machines, that can include BIOS (Basic Input/Output System). On the Mac, EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface).

Bugs in BIOS or EFI code create vulnerabilities in the system that, if not otherwise defended against, can be exploited by malicious programs like firmware worms.

Because firmware exists outside the operating system, it's typically not scanned for or otherwise detected and isn't erased or removed by a re-installation. That makes it much harder to find and harder to remove. In most cases, you'd need to re-flash the firmware chips to eradicate it.

So Thunderstrike 2 is a firmware worm targeting the Mac?

Yes. The story here is that some researchers decided to test whether or not previously discovered vulnerabilities in BIOS and EFI existed on the Mac as well and, if they did, whether or not they could be exploited.

Because booting up a computer is a similar process across platforms, most firmware shares a common reference. That means there's a chance or even a likelihood that discovering an exploit for one type of computer means discovering an exploit for many or even most of them.

In this case, an exploit affecting a majority of Windows computers also affects the Mac, and researchers were able to use it to create Thunderstrike 2 as a proof-of-concept. And, in addition to being downloadable, to show that it can also spread by using the Option ROM—the accessory firmware called by the computer firmware—on peripherals like a Thunderbolt adapter.

That means it can spread without the Internet?

It's more accurate to say it can spread over the internet and via "sneakernet"—people walking around and plugging an infected accessory into one or multiple machines. What makes that important is that it removes "air gapping"—the practice of keeping computers disconnected from each other and the internet—as a defense.

Has Apple fixed Thunderstrike 2 yet?

Of the six vulnerabilities the researchers tested 5 were found to affect the Mac. The same researchers said that Apple has already patched one of those vulnerabilities and partially patched another. There's also some indication that OS X 10.10.4 may not be (as) vulnerable. Whether OS 10.10.5 proves to be even more effective at preventing this type of attack remains to be seen.

Is there anything that could be done to make firmware safer in general?

Cryptographically signing both the firmware and any firmware updates could help. That way nothing would be installed that didn't have Apple's signature and the chances of fraudulent and malicious code infecting EFI would be reduced.

How worried should I be?

Attacks against EFI aren't new and using peripherals as attack vectors aren't new. Thunderbolt 2 circumvents protections put in place to prevent the original Thunderstrike and combines both internet and sneakernet attack vectors.

That said, some of the exploits have already been patched, more are being patched, and the Thunderstrike 2 proof-of-concept may not work against the latest and upcoming versions of OS X. (We'll need to find out more to know for sure.)

In the meantime, the usual advice applies: If you believe you're at risk, don't click on links, download files, or plug in accessories that you don't absolutely trust.

Nick Arnott contributed to this article



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Comic: Hey Now, You're a One-Star

Today, 02:59 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News

Ed: Welcome to this week's edition of The Pixel Project: a weekly comic from Diesel Sweeties' Rich Stevens on Apple, technology, and everything in-between. Today: Hey Now, You're a One-Star

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Read more comics from The Pixel Project.



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Grab a Lightning charging-data cable with aluminum housin...

Today, 02:10 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News

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These durable Lightning cables reach 6.6ft. in length and feature a nylon wrapping that prevents annoying tangles. Supporting a max of 2.4A, you'll enjoy safe and speedy charges or data transfers anywhere — anytime. Available in silver or gold!



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Apple Pay to the rescue!

Today, 02:00 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News

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Last week, I received an all-too-familiar call: One of our credit cards had been used to make a fraudulent transaction.

Card fraud is a huge problem that generates billions of dollars of losses every year. It affects businesses, banks and consumers alike. It's never convenient to get this call and the subsequent cancelation of the account, but this one was worse than most: my wife was out of town on a business trip and I was on a dog walk.

Luckily, my spouse had a backup card in her purse and could use it for the reminder of her trip. I, on the other hand, didn't have another card—and I was on my way to the market to buy dinner. My fingers were crossed that the meager amount of cash in my pocket would be able to cover the charges.

After picking out some meat, vegetables, and beer, I headed to the checkout line. Worst case, I could do without the alcohol if I went over my cash on-hand.

Of course... I'm also the kind of person who likes to experiment with new technology. And, since I had my iPhone in my pocket, I decided to see what Apple Pay would do with a cancelled credit card.

I held my phone up to the reader and... it worked flawlessly.

At that point, I figured I was just in a lull between the main account closing and the changes propagating to the Apple Pay device account. I had only made the transaction about five minutes after the card was cancelled, after all. Either way, the payment hadn't been declined and I had my beer. Woo-hoo!

Automagically secure

The next morning, however, while going through my email, I saw an automated message from Citicard AAdvantage that explained what had happened the previous evening:

apple-pay-card-confirmation.jpg?itok=Fs9

I don't need to do anything further! For any consumer who's experienced card fraud, this is a huge benefit to Apple Pay.

My family buys a lot of goods online. As someone who works at home, it's a lot more convenient to have things delivered: I'm rarely in the car and near a store. Unfortunately, that also means we see fraud a couple of times each year.

When the card number changes, you have to remember all the places you have a card number stored in a website database. Then you have to go to those sites, one by one, and change them all. So you visit the Netflix site, look up a password you use infrequently, and find where to update your payment information. And then do it at Amazon. And then iTunes. And then for your toll road transponder. And then for your pills. And a few more times after that.

There's another subtle thing that happens to merchants when a card number goes bad: Sometimes online databases don't get updated with new information. I've let subscriptions and other recurring payments lapse because I can't be bothered to figure out how to navigate a byzantine website. I'm sure other services have ended because the merchant sent me an email telling me to update my information, and that message ended up in a SPAM folder, never to be seen again.

So when my card provider tells me that I "don't need to do anything further", they're telling me that I get a little extra free time on the weekend to avoid a mind-numbingly repetitive task. Apple Pay, FTW!

Apple Pay-only

This situation also has major ramifications for merchants: I am now actively seeking out businesses that support Apple Pay because it makes my life a lot easier. Everyone I've told about my experience last week has had the same response: "That's awesome!"

The first time you experience this seamless transfer of your accounts with Apple Pay, you're going to want it everywhere you purchase goods and services. That, combined with very positive word-of-mouth, is going to make entering a card number feel very antiquated. And I suspect this change will come about very quickly.

One thing I've noticed about Apple Pay is that it's being adopted quickly by smaller merchants: The pet store down the street started offering it the first month after it was released. They use an iPad connected to a card reader, so I suspect it was easy for them.

Larger merchants will need time to update more complex systems. The most glaring omission during this weekend's "update all the cards" activity was iTunes: Yes, Apple's media marketplace doesn't support its own payment system. It's odd that App Store updates are suspended because of card verification when that same device is already linked to an updated account.

The seeds of change

We're seeing the beginning of a shift in who's inconvenienced by credit card fraud. Previously, the consumer had to deal with the fallout of a cancelled credit card number. Now, it's the merchants who have to update their payment systems.

Apple will almost certainly address the problem of using Apple Pay for iTunes, and smart companies will follow their lead when they realize that the temporary inconvenience of updating their payment collection system will benefit them in the long run. Consumers will learn quickly—as I did—that they don't want to deal with merchants who do things the old way.

At some point, this will have a snowball effect. When the majority of the purchases you make online are done securely with Apple Pay, spotting an instance of credit card fraud will be much easier. You'll know which merchant leaked your information and will never deal with them again. Eventually, a retailer that doesn't accept Apple Pay will be as popular as one who only accepts personal checks.

And from my experiences this past week, it can't happen soon enough.



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Sprint starts drawing customers back, but makes a loss of...

Today, 12:41 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News

Sprint has released its financial report for the first fiscal quarter, posting a net positive in subscriber addition, as well as hitting the lowest churn rate in the company's history. While Sprint has managed to start turning things around, it's unfortunately not enough to compete against T-Mobile.

In the quarter just passed, Sprint managed to add a total of 675,000 new customers, a strong reversal from the previous year where the company managed to report a net loss of 220,000. The postpaid churn rate was 1.56 percent, improving by 49 points year-over-year. Compared to T-Mobile, which reported a total addition of 2.1 million, Sprint still has some way to go.

It's not all positive in the report, however as Sprint made a loss of $20 million this quarter, and operating revenue dropped from $8.79 billion to $8.03 billion. If you'd like to read more about Sprint's performance for the quarter, do check out the full report using the link below.

Source: Sprint



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How to buy songs you like from Apple Music and Beats 1

Today, 12:00 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News

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Keep the songs you love whether you have an Apple Music subscription or not.

Find a track on Apple Music that you have to own? Whether you want to support a new favorite artist or just want the peace of mind of owning that track or album, it's easy to do with Apple Music's built-in iTunes Store linking.

How to purchase songs you like from Apple Music On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
  1. Find the song or album in question you want to buy.
  2. Tap the More (•••) button next to the song or album.
  3. Tap Show in iTunes Store.

    apple-music-buy-music-itunes-screenshot.
On your Mac
  1. Find the song or album in question you want to buy.
  2. Click the More (•••) button next to the song or album.
  3. Click Show in iTunes Store.

    apple-music-buy-music-itunes-mac-screens
How to purchase songs you like from Beats 1 On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
  1. Open the iTunes app.
  2. Tap on the Wishlist icon in the upper right corner.
  3. Tap on the Radio tab*.

    apple-music-view-beats1-history.jpg?itok
  4. Tap Buy next to any song in your listening history you want to purchase.

*It doesn't appear that the Radio tab exists in all countries due to licensing restrictions, unfortunately.

On your Mac
  1. Open iTunes and click on the Radio tab.
  2. Start playing any Apple Music radio station, Beats 1 included.
  3. Click the Up Next list icon.

    apple-music-view-beats1-history-mac.jpg?
  4. Select the History icon to view your listening history, where songs available on the iTunes Store will show a buy button.
Still need help?

Having issues buying songs you like? Ping us in the comments below and we'll try and help you out.



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