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New Patent Suggests Apple May Enhance Touch ID Security

Apple may be planning to enhance the capabilities of Touch ID for additional security, according to a patent recently published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider). The patent itself was created by Dale R. Setlak, co-founder of AuthenTec, the company Apple acquired for 6 million back in 2012 to help create Touch ID itself.

Setlak’s patent, which dates from June of 2013, describes a process in which a user would use both the Touch ID and their fingertips to interact with a rotating dial of sorts (similar to a safe) or an on-screen pattern reminiscent of one of Google’s passcode options for Android.

There’s already a hint of this process in the “Reachability” mode introduced for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which allows users to tap the home button lightly to bring elements of the screen into closer reach for a single hand.

The latest patent might seem kind of overkill considering that Touch ID already works easily enough as it is, but Apple will likely make it available for users who want an extra level of security with their devices (much as is the case with its two-step authentication process).

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Morning Report: Apple Pay Heads to Europe, $20M for (Product) RED, Grids 2.0

Grids for Instagram 2.0

Christmas may only be a week away, but you won’t have to wait that long to unwrap a trio of Apple-related news items. Our Thursday Morning Report offers a few hints about Apple Pay expansion beyond the U.S., follows up on Cupertino’s recent (Product) RED campaign, and delivers a big update for Mac-loving Instagram users.

Job Listing Hints at Apple Pay Expansion into Europe, Middle East

Apple Pay may soon become a lot more ubiquitous, as Apple appears to be eyeing a major expansion beyond the United States. iClarified reported Wednesday that a job posting in London specifically mentions the service will be rolling out “across Europe, Middle East, India, and Africa,” but offers no details on when that might happen.

“The new London-based Apple Pay team will work to drive the roll-out of this technology across EMEIA by working with a variety of internal and external partners, including teams in the US where the product will first launch and the EMEIA organisation, as well as Issuers, payment networks, and merchants across Europe,” the job listing reads.

China also appears to be in the crosshairs, with a second posting in search of an “Apple Pay Site Reliability Engineer” responsible for “multiple roles focused on the front line customer experience and the back end integration of Apple systems with our Network and Banking partners.”

Apple Holiday Promotion Raised M for (Product) RED

Re/code reported Wednesday that Apple’s recent holiday campaign appears to have been a smashing success, raising more than million for partner (Product) RED to help fight the spread of AIDS in Africa.

“I’m thrilled to announce that our total donation for this quarter will be more than million — our biggest ever — bringing the total amount Apple has raised for (PRODUCT) RED to over 0 million,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in an email to employees obtained by Re/code. “The money we’ve raised is saving lives and bringing hope to people in need. It’s a cause we can all be proud to support.”

Taking place over a two-week period, Apple’s (Product) RED campaign partnered with app developers who donated proceeds to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. Apple also donated a portion of the company’s retail and online sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, historically two of the biggest shopping days of the year.

Grids for Instagram 2.0 Adds Multiple Account Support

ThinkTim Creations announced the release of Grids for Instagram 2.0, a major update to the third-party desktop app that delivers photos from the popular social network onto the Mac. Priced at only .99, the update now includes support for multiple Instagram accounts with the ability to seamlessly switch between them, three new layout styles, hotkey and gesture support for browsing, navigation, and like/comment actions, and a big performance improvement that promises faster image loading, resizing, and scrolling. The update is free for existing Grids users, and available now from the Mac App Store.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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Apple Releases Video Showcasing the Making of Its Latest Holiday Ad

The latest in Apple’s phenomenal run of holiday ads came out earlier in the week, and it focuses on a granddaughter who uses Apple’s technology to create a contemporary duet with an old recording of her grandmother’s. Today Apple released a followup video discussing how the ad was made, showing that its latest short is not just about bridging the gaps between two generation of people, but also between two generations of technology.

Specifically, the ad features a young woman (played by musician Dana Williams) who finds her grandmother’s recording of “Love Is Here to Stay” (sung by Rhiannon Giddens) that was made with a 1940s “Voice-O-Graph” machine. The ad (or “film,” as Apple calls it on its website) implies that her grandmother made it for her husband, who was apparently stationed overseas at the time.

The story might be sentimental fluff, but there’s a shred of truth to what we’re seeing on screen, particularly since Apple used an actual working Voice-O-Graph in the possession of Third Man Records. Giddens sung the part for the original recording, and then Williams recorded her own vocals and mixed the two together in GarageBand. Williams claims in the short documentary that she uses Apple’s GarageBand for most of her her music, and that she likes it because “anyone who’s not tech savvy like myself can find their way around it.”

The ad itself is somewhat understated, especially in comparison to last year’s “Misunderstood,” which won Apple its first Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial since its iconic “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” short, created in 1998 at the height of the “Think Different” campaign. While “Misunderstood” focuses on an introverted teen’s use of his iPhone’s video capabilities, “The Song” highlights GarageBand and the iPad mini.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Judge Rules Steve Jobs’ iPod Deposition Video Won’t Be Released to Public

If you were hoping you’d get to see Steve Jobs’ video testimony that was such a key part of the recent iPod antitrust trial, District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers wants you to cast those hopes aside. Members of the media had been insisting on getting access to the tape despite significant opposition from Apple (and the plaintiffs, for that matter), but the judge ruled that Jobs’ testimony will be treated as any other live testimony.

In other words, since live testimonies aren’t recorded and released to the media, then Jobs’ testimony shouldn’t be either. The video itself was taped in 2011, just months before Jobs’ death in October of that year, and it represents one of the Apple co-founder’s last appearances on film. In it, Jobs states his reasons for Apple’s air-tight digital rights management system, claiming that it was to ensure the numerous contracts the company had signed would remain valid. The fact that users couldn’t play music for stores like RealNetworks, Jobs says, was just “collateral damage.”

The video reportedly shows Jobs in an “snarky” mood, and at one point he reportedly (via CNN) asks if RealNetworks still exists. Jobs also proved evasive for most of the interview, saying things like “I don’t remember” and “I don’t recall” 74 times throughout the testimony. Jobs’ physical condition was rapidly deteriorating at the time, but the video reportedly shows his mind was as sharp as ever.

Rogers said that her decision might have been different if Apple hadn’t been so strongly opposed to the release, but there are sound legal grounds for keeping it off the public record as well. Releasing Jobs’ testimony would provide a precedent in which other taped testimonies by high-profile figures could be broadcast beyond the court, thereby possibly dissuading similar individuals in the future from providing their own testimonies if they thought they’d be released to the press.

Transcriptions of the video are, in fact, in the public record, and Judge Rogers found these adequate.

Follow this article’s writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Morning Report: App Santa Savings, Apple Russian Chaos, Samsung Eyes LoopPay

App Santa 2014

Our Wednesday Morning Report has some bad news for Apple buyers in Russia, who won’t be able to purchase their favorite products from Cupertino’s online store until further notice. We’ve also got potentially good news for mobile payment provider LoopPay, and big savings for everyone as App Santa kicks off big app savings for the holidays.

App Santa Arrives with Up to 60 Percent Off Savings

Ho, ho, ho! Just in time for the Christmas holiday next week, Realmac Software has announced the lineup for this year’s App Santa, an annual event focusing on independent developers that offers big savings on some of the best Mac and iOS apps around. This year’s event kicked off Tuesday, December 16 and runs through December 27, with up to 60 percent off a variety of popular apps from developers including Realmac, Tapbots, Readdle, and more than 35 others.

This year’s complete lineup includes: Clear for iOS, Clear for Mac, Ember for iOS, Ember for Mac, Launch Center Pro, Group Text+, Mileage Log+, Tweetbot 3 for iPhone, Screens for iOS, Screens for Mac, Castro, PCalc for iOS, PCalc for Mac, Manual, Windy, Day One for iOS, Day One for Mac, Prizmo (iOS), Prizmo (Mac), MindNode for iOS, MindNode Pro, Deliveries for iOS, Deliveries for Mac, Scanner Pro, Calendars 5, PDF Expert 5, Printer Pro, Next for iPhone, Next for iPad, Next for Mac, Gneo, ColorStrokes, FX Photo Studio, Soulver for iOS, Soulver for Mac, Go Couch to 5K, Convertica, Solar Walk, Star Walk HD, TextExpander 3, Drafts 4, and Terminology. Whew!

Apple Halts Russian Online Sales as Ruble Nosedives

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Russia’s financial woes are having an adverse effect on international businesses, including Apple, who has chosen to shut down the iPhone maker’s online store there amid “extreme” fluctuations in the country’s currency. The Russian ruble lost almost 19 percent of its value yesterday after the government sharply increased the interest rate in an effort to stop a nationwide selloff, briefly dropping its value to 80 rubles to the dollar.

“Our online store in Russia is currently unavailable while we review pricing,” Apple spokesman Alan Hely said in an email to Bloomberg. “We apologize to customers for any inconvenience.”

Apple has already taken measures to safeguard against fluctuations in the Russian market, raising the price of iPhone 6 models by 25 percent. Although Cupertino has deals in place with Russian carriers for iPhone and iPad, other Apple products are traditionally offered only by the website, since the company has yet to open any brick-and-mortar locations there.

Samsung Reportedly Eyes Apple Pay Competitor LoopPay

Re/code reported Tuesday that Samsung could be eyeing a shortcut to compete with Apple Pay, courtesy of a potential acquisition of LoopPay. With a new flagship smartphone expected to arrive in the first half of next year, multiple unnamed sources claim Samsung is beating the bushes in search of its own mobile payment solution.

LoopPay actually has a leg up on Apple Pay, in that the technology works with traditional point-of-sale terminals, replicating the magnetic stripe on a credit or debit card and sending out a “magnetic secure transmission” from a small Fob or smartphone case. The system does not rely on NFC, so it can theoretically be used at far more retail locations than Apple Pay.

One source cautioned that a Samsung deal with LoopPay is not yet a lock, although another claimed the Korean consumer electronics giant already has “a prototype of the payments system working on” one of its devices. LoopPay CEO Will Graylin slyly mentioned earlier this month that his company was working on embedding the technology into a new smartphone with “massive penetration” in the market.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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