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Morning Report: Apple Pay Covers 90% of US Credit Cards, iPhone 6 Tops Google Search

Apple Pay with Touch ID

Judging from Google’s top search trends for 2014, desktop and mobile users were eager to find out more about Apple’s iPhone 6, which topped the charts more than any other consumer electronics device. Our Tuesday Morning Report has more on that as well as how Apple Pay is poised to dominate U.S. credit card purchases, and rumors of a new streaming music service from hardware maker Bose. Go forth, click, and read!

Apple Pay Dominates U.S. Credit Card Purchase Volume

The New York Times today reported that Apple’s fledgling mobile payment service has added “dozens” of new banks and retail stores in recent weeks, with 10 new Apple Pay banks including TD Bank North America and Commerce Bank coming into the fold next Tuesday, just in time for last-minute holiday shopping.

With the recently added banks, Apple Pay is now poised to support “about 90 percent of the credit card purchase volume in the United States” — an impressive metric, but one that probably won’t mean much to iPhone 6 users without supported credit and debit cards, or those who shop at stores where the service is not accepted.

Apple is clearly looking at the long game, however, and with good reason: Recent Forrester Research estimates that the volume of U.S. mobile payments could reach 2 billion by 2019, and thus far Apple Pay has succeeded where competing services such as Google Wallet and SoftCard (formerly ISIS Mobile Wallet) have floundered.

iPhone 6 Tops Google’s Trending Search List for 2014

Ouch, that’s gotta hurt: Google released a list of top search trends for the year, and in the Consumer Electronics category, it was Apple who came out top tog for 2014, thanks to the iPhone 6 landing at number one. To be fair, the remainder of the top five is made up entirely of devices running Google’s Android operating system, with the Samsung Galaxy S5 in second place, followed by Nexus 6, Moto G, and Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Apple also turned up two more times in the top 10, with the as-yet unreleased Apple Watch falling at number eight, while the iPad Air rounded out the list as the tenth most searched-for consumer electronics device.

Bose Reportedly Gearing Up for Streaming Music Service

Apple may soon have good reason to yank Bose products from store shelves: VentureBeat reported Monday the iconic audio hardware maker is said to be moving “quickly” to launch a “next generation streaming music platform” to rival the likes of Spotify, Rdio, and Apple-owned Beats Music. The report actually goes so far as to imply that the recent removal of Bose hardware from Apple’s online and retail stores could indeed have something to do with the planned streaming service.

Although Bose did not respond to the rumor, the company is said to be in the process of hiring a Senior User Experience Designer of Cloud Music Services, which specifically calls out for “an expert Experience Designer to lead design and prototyping of our next generation streaming music platform and ecosystem of products” in a job listing — not to mention shamelessly mentioning a desire to hire someone with experience at a streaming music rival, such as Beats Music, Pandora, or Google Play.

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



Apple Maps Replaces Google Maps on iCloud.com

After so many years of relying on Google Maps for key apps on iOS and OS X, Apple is almost completely free from its competition’s navigation service. Today the Cupertino company dropped Google Maps from iCloud.com, specifically for its Find My iPhone service.

The company briefly rolled out Apple Maps earlier this year for participants in the iCloud.com beta, but now it appears to have extended it to the service as a whole. Google Maps can still be found in use for some retail store listings on Apple’s main site, but even that should go away in the coming months in favor of the company’s own service.

Apple Maps has come a long way since its much maligned 2012 release, which was riddled with bugs, poor directions, and improperly placed landmarks. In just one famous incident, Apple Maps told a driver in Alaska to drive onto the airplane taxiway at the Fairbanks airport in order to get to the terminal. (It was fixed shortly thereafter.)

Things have gotten better since then, and by late last year the iPhone maker’s improvements to Apple Maps for iOS (and its decision to render it the default mapping service) helped it to grab around 80 percent of Google Maps’ former iOS traffic. As of last month, Apple Maps was actually generating more traffic than Google Maps on a popular London network.

More improvements are supposedly in the works, but as we reported back in June, “internal politics” are reportedly keeping them from making it to our devices.

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


Overnight Recap: Hulu Plus 3.0, Google on Reader, Runner’s World on Boston

Hulu Plus 3.0

The banners are up, the weekend is here and come Monday, it will be showtime once again in San Francisco as Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference kicks off for 2013. There have probably been thousands (millions?) of words written over the last few months on what the company might debut there, but come 10 a.m. PDT we’ll all know for sure. Be sure to join us for WWDC 2013 coverage here on MacLife.com!

Hulu Plus 3.0 Introduces All-New iPad UI

There have been a plethora of iOS app updates this week, but our favorite by far is Hulu Plus 3.0, which the streaming provider released on Thursday. Although the iPhone/iPod touch didn’t get much love, the iPad features an all-new user interface that allows videos to be minimized while browsing for what to watch next. A new discovery panel offers a quick peek just by tapping on the image for any episode, and a collection of “editorially curated” shows, clips and movies will give viewers plenty to watch during the lazy sunny summer ahead. The 12.3MB download is available for download now, but requires an active Hulu Plus subscription to use.

Google Tries to Blame Reader’s Demise on Mobile Lifestyles

With the death of Google Reader less than a month away, Wired attempted to get to the bottom of why the search giant really decided to put the RSS service out to pasture — and we only have ourselves to blame, apparently. “As a culture we have moved into a realm where the consumption of news is a near-constant process,” Google Senior Director, News & Social Products Richard Gingras told Wired on Thursday. “Users with smartphones and tablets are consuming news in bits and bites throughout the course of the day — replacing the old standard behaviors of news consumption over breakfast along with a leisurely read at the end of the day.” Gingras thinks services like Google Now and its Google+ social network fill the void quite nicely, although there are an awful lot of orphaned Reader users who might disagree.

Roku Adding Redbox Instant by Verizon This Summer

Aside from Google’s YouTube, one of the biggest Roku holdouts has to be Redbox Instant by Verizon, the streaming service which launched earlier this year on mobile devices and select smart TVs and Blu-ray players. The Roku Blog announced Thursday that the wait will soon be over as Redbox Instant lands on the tiny media streaming box later this sunny summer, available on Roku 3, Roku 2, Roku LT (models 2400 & 2450), and Roku HD (model 2500) players as well as the Roku Streaming Stick. Those still clinging to kiosk-based DVD rentals, rejoice!

Runner’s World Delivers Interactive Coverage of Boston Marathon

Adobe’s Digital Publishing Blog published an in-depth look at the making of the July issue of Runner’s World magazine, which is dedicated to the Boston Marathon bombings. In addition to stories from more than 20 runners who lived to tell about their experiences, the digital issue — created with Adobe’s Digital Publishing System — includes interactive content such as a timeline that illustrates how the events unfolded that fateful day, complete with audio, video and overlays. The free Newsstand app is available now from the App Store, with the July 2013 issue ready to download for only .99.

Time Warner Cable Debuts Browser-Based Live TV

It took long enough, but Time Warner Cable is finally loosening its stranglehold on viewing cable subscription content outside the home. According to the company’s Untangled blog, TWCTV.com users can now view On Demand and Live TV from any internet connection on any Mac or PC, following the company’s recent move to unchain the iOS and Android apps. Of course, it makes sense that the mobile apps would have this feature earlier, since how many of us are actually watching streaming media on their desktops or laptops these days?

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


Streets 2.0 Adds Street View Coverage Layer, Google Vector Maps

Streets 2.0Longing for the grand old days of iOS 5 when Google’s Street View was baked right into the Maps app? You may not be able to go back in time, but for only 99 cents you can get Street View back with Streets 2.0.

FutureTap announced the release of Streets 2.0 on Wednesday, a rebranding of the company’s Street View which introduces a trio of big changes — and if you act quickly, this universal app can be yours for only 99 cents.

The first big change in Streets 2.0 is the introduction of a blue overlay to indicate street view coverage. No more guesswork! Blue and orange dots will also indicate user-contributed panoramas or businesses with indoor panoramas, respectively.

Streets 2.0 now uses Google’s vector maps and high-resolution satellite imagery in place of the stock iOS Maps, while offering even greater resolution and a wider zoom range for panoramas than the official Google Maps app.

Last but not least, panoramas can be shared with friends via email, iMessage, Facebook or Twitter, or even saved to the Camera Roll for future use, complete with geolocation data.

Streets 2.0 is now available from the App Store; the universal app features an introductory price of only 99 cents through the end of July, after which time it will return to the normal price of .99.

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



Unofficial Google Music App for iOS Adds Support for All Access Subscriptions

gMusic iconGoogle may be the enemy in the eyes of many iOS users, but it’s hard to deny the search giant has brought most of its coolest toys to Apple’s mobile platform — so why did it take a third-party app to add support for Google Play Music All Access?

Interactive Innovative Solutions LLC released the latest version of its unofficial Google Music app for iOS on Thursday, and gMusic 6.0 is a big one for those looking to take advantage of Google’s latest music offering.

That’s because gMusic is the only iOS app capable of supporting Google Play Music All Access, the search giant’s .99 per month answer to Spotify, Rdio and Rhapsody. The service is currently available with a 30-day free trial, and those who sign up before the end of June will only pay .99 per month.

With all of the official Google apps available on the App Store, it seems odd that Google Play Music has remained an Android (and web) exclusive, but gMusic has been a great way to unofficially add the service. The universal app includes pretty much all the functionality of Google’s offering, and now that package is truly complete with All Access support.

To use this feature, you’ll need to first sign up for the free All Access trial, then open gMusic and tap the new Web Search option. Type in the name of a track, album or artist you’re looking for, and like magic, you’ll be presented with everything Google Play Music All Access has to offer.

gMusic 6.0 is available on the App Store for .99; the universal app requires iOS 5.0 or later and also adds the ability to create and play Radio Stations in the app as well as adding All Access music to your library.

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



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