Apple hasn’t apparently turned its back on free stuff, after all, even though it seemed a little iffy after the disappearance of the free iTunes Single of the Week. In other news, a Missouri lawmaker wants users to produce photos IDs every time they use Apple Pay and similar services in his state, and Apple introduced some simple but useful tools for its Photos for iCloud.com app.
For a few days there, it looks as though the free U2 album kerfuffle had soured Apple on the idea of free products forever, but a new “Free on iTunes” section of iTunes shows that’s far from the case. Many longtime users were initially sad to hear about the sudden disappearance of the “iTunes Single of the Week,” but, if anything, this replacement — which includes songs as well as TV shows — makes the experience even better.
Sorry, international users — at least for now, the page only works for customers in the United States. But if you’re a resident of Apple’s home country, you’ll be able to sample free episodes from SyFy’s 12 Monkeys, MTV’s Eye Candy, and others. More interested in music? Check out the offerings from bands like Jauz. Purity Ring, and Asking Alexandria.
Apple hasn’t revealed a schedule for the new service, but it’s likely that the Cupertino company will update the new section every week, judging from its own traditions.
You’d think that Apple would have already sufficiently demonstrated that using your fingerprint for Apple Pay is “identification” enough, but at least one Missouri lawmaker (via AP) is having none of it. If Democratic Rep. Joshua Peters of St. Louis has his way, in fact, Missourians would be required to show their IDs to clerks when using Apple Pay (and any other mobile payment service, for that matter).
It’s actually more complicated than that. Not only would our hypothetical Missourian have to show her driver’s license or similar documentation, but the clerks would also have to write down the ID number of the person making the purchase and keep it in their records. If they don’t, they’re entirely accountable for fraudulent transactions.
There’s a couple of flaws here in that it’s already uncommon for clerks to check ID cards for normal credit card purchases, and most mobile payment systems have some kind of enhanced security wall (such as Apple Pay’s Touch ID) that keeps crooks from having a field day with spending. What’s more, as 9to5Mac points out, it’s far easier to fake an ID than a fingerprint.
The retailers themselves don’t seem terribly concerned. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal this morning, suppliers of point-of-sale systems saw a massive bump in interest following the release of Apple Pay in October. Brendan Lauber, an executive at Harbortouch, said that only 22 percent of the company’s customers had mobile payment receptors installed prior to the release of iOS 8; following the launch of Apple Pay, 68 percent asked for systems that support mobile transactions.
“It’s like night and day,” said Lauber.
The Photos app for iCloud.com got a little better this weekend, as Apple upgraded the service to allow users to send photos from their iCloud library to anyone via e-mail. In addition, you can now zoom in on photos in the iCloud Photo Library itself (via iFun.de).
The actual pace of Apple’s updates for its iCloud Photos app might leave a little to be desired, but at least the iPhone maker has started a trend of packing worthwhile features into each patch. Last November, for instance, Apple enabled users to upload their own photos to the site from their computers. According to some supposedly inside sources, the reason for the relatively few updates pertaining to iCloud as a whole lies in a culture of excessive fragmentation within Apple’s walls.
Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.
It wouldn’t be Friday without a juicy Apple leak or rumor, and, as if on cue, photos of the display and lid of the rumored 12-inch MacBook Air supposedly leaked today. In other news, Tim Cook reportedly agreed to let Chinese officials check Apple products for security flaws, and iPhones accounted for precisely half of all phone activations in the U.S. during the last quarter.
Just in time for weekend speculation fun, a set of photos have popped up on iFanr purporting to show the lid and display for the rumored 12-inch MacBook Air. The photos are noticeably less fuzzy than the usual leaked fare, and they helpfully show the parts stacked alongside a 13-inch MacBook Pro and a 9.7-inch iPad for comparison.
There’s some doubt about the authenticity of the photos, however, in that they show that the traditional backlit Apple logo for MacBooks has been traded out for the polished metal logo common to iPads. For its part, iFanr believes Apple might have chucked the widely beloved backlit Apple in favor of making the unit ever so slightly thinner.
Also missing are the gray bezels common to most new MacBook Air models, which means that Apple might be extending the glass to the edges of the unit as seen with the MacBook Pro. That sounds lovely, but it does clash with an earlier rumor that the device would have the familiar gray bezels. Of course, there’s always a good chance that Apple simply changed its mind.
China’s massive market means a lot to Apple—so much, in fact, that Apple CEO Tim Cook has reportedly agreed to let the country’s officials inspect its products for security flaws, according to The Beijing News (via MacRumors). The officials are supposedly interested in finding “back doors” that would grant the Cupertino company (or anyone else, for that matter) access to private data stored in the units.
Calligraphy exhibit for the upcoming Apple Store in Hangzhou, China.
Lu Wei, director of China’s State Internet Information Office, had expressed concerns last year that Apple might be afforded a window into Chinese state secrets through its devices. Cook assured Wei that this was not the case in a well-publicized visit, but the official apparently wanted to check out the products for himself.
The danger of such a decision is that it might reveal some secrets about how Apple designs its own software, which could in turn lead to leaked knowledge regarding how to exploit the vulnerabilities. But if it means staying in China’s billion-strong market, that’s a chance that Cook’s apparently willing to take.
Just in case you needed any more proof that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are wildly popular, consider the latest report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partner, which states that Apple accounted for half of all phone activations in the United States for Q4 2014 (via AppleInsider).
“Apple had virtually double the sales of Samsung, and five times that of LG. No other brand accounted for as much as 5% of US sales,” says Josh Lowitz, partner and co-founder of CIRP.
Keep in mind that, at 500, the data sampling is quite small for reaching such sweeping conclusions, and that 86 percent of activations came from consumers who’d upgraded from an earlier iPhone. Still, Apple has certainly accomplished a major feat here, and impressively enough, CIRP reports that 25 percent of new iPhone users were former Samsung users and that 15 percent came from LG phones.
Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.