The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has launched a probe into the consumer data and financial practices of digital payment systems including Apple Pay, Google, PayPal, and others. The CFPB was to query big tech firms about data use, it has now been revealed that the probe is into management of digital payment systems. Digital payment systems “offer significant potential benefits” to businesses and individuals, but that there is a risk to having technology firms monetizing the consumer behavior data they collect in the process. The CFPB will also study the practices of the Chinese tech giants that offer payments services, such as WeChatPay and Alipay. The agency’s questions will be broad in scope, and could include inquiries about how consumer data collected by the companies is used in lending decisions or how consumer data is used to target ads.
Apple informed developers about a Tech Talks 2021 venture, which will allow developers to connect with Apple experts in more than 100 live online sessions and 1,500 available office hour appointments. Developers can use the sessions to dive into technical content, get answers to questions, and seek one-on-one meetings for guidance. Sessions will be held online from Apple locations around the world in multiple time zones, including Bengaluru, India; Cupertino, California; London; Mexico City; São Paulo; Seoul, South Korea; Shanghai; Singapore; Sydney; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Tokyo. Live sessions will provide developers with details on how to integrate the latest technologies into their apps, while 30 minute office hour sessions can be used to make app improvements, design revisions, and bug fixes.
- HomePod mini uses computational audio to provide a rich and detailed acoustic experience and deliver peak performance. To achieve big sound out of such a compact design, the Apple S5 chip runs advanced software to analyze the unique characteristics of the music. It also applies complex tuning models to optimize loudness, adjust the dynamic range, and control the movement of the driver and passive radiators, all in real time. HomePod mini’s full-range driver, premium neodymium magnet, and pair of force-cancelling passive radiators enable it to produce deep bass and crisp high frequencies.
- HomePod mini is designed to work with Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, thousands of radio stations including the award-winning Apple Music 1 station, and popular music services like Pandora, Deezer, and others, providing entertainment for everyone.
- With HomePod mini, only after “Hey Siri” is recognized locally on the device, or the user activates Siri by touch, will any information be sent to Apple servers. Requests are not associated with the user’s Apple ID, nor is personal information used for Apple’s advertising purposes or sold to other organizations. HomePod mini works with iPhone to complete requests for messages and notes on the device without revealing that information to Apple.
Apple released new Human Interface Guidelines detailing how developers can best to utilize the laptops’ expanded screen real estate. Apple caused a bit of a stir with its decision to slim down MacBook Pro’s display bezels to the point where a “notch” is needed to house the machine’s front-facing camera, a design language borrowed from iPhone and affordances made for that device’s TrueDepth array. Developers can choose to include a black bar at the top of the screen to hide the cutout — aping the design of past MacBook Pro generations — or take full advantage of the extra space with a new compatibility mode. MacBooks that include a camera housing in the screen bezel provide a special operating mode that prevents full screen apps from placing content under the notch. When active, compatibility mode automatically changes the active area of the system’s display to avoid the housing cutout, ensuring that content is not obscured. Developers can opt for a custom full-screen experience, but they will need to define safe areas in their code using new tools. For example, app makers can specify a large safe area with an inset at the top of the screen that leaves the entirety of the app unobscured.
Apple has given its customers in India another chance to add funds to their Apple ID and to receive a 20% bonus, at a time when Apple and developers brace for a regulatory change affecting App Store subscriptions. Customers in India adding funds to their Apple ID will see a notification advising they will get a “20% bonus” if they add funds to their account before the end of October. The bonus applies for anyone adding between 100 rupees ($1.33) and 15,000 rupees ($200) to their account balance, in a single transaction. Running until October 31, the deal’s availability partially depends on the user’s account information or purchase history. Examples given by Apple, as spotted by developer Mustafa Yusuf and first reported by 9to5Mac, include users gaining a bonus 400 rupees for a 2,000 rupee top-up, or an extra 1,000 rupees for topping up 5,000 rupees.
Florida is working with Apple to introduce support for its upcoming digital driver’s licenses to the iPhone’s Wallet app. The state is developing a Smart-ID app that will allow Floridians to provide a secure way to provide identification using a smartphone. Starting in mid-November, the state will issue a smartphone app on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store. Although Wallet support won’t be available initially, Apple is to be working with the state to make the digital IDs available in Wallet. Florida’s digital ID will allow users to prove their identity to law enforcement officers in a verifiable and secure manner. In addition, businesses that require age verification will also be able to use digital IDs, although they’ll receive less personal information than law enforcement.
A Google SVP in a tweet Thursday extended an “open invitation” to assist Apple should it choose to support Rich Communication Services (RCS), which is primed to succeed SMS as the next mobile-to-mobile text standard. The “Really Clear Solution” reference is a nod to RCS, while the “open invitation” offer is obviously pointed at Apple, which has yet to commit to supporting the standard. RCS is well on its way to becoming Android’s default text messaging system. Google brokered deals with major U.S. carriers T-Mobile, AT&T and, most recently, Verizon, to preinstall the Messages by Google app on all Android devices sold on their respective networks. RCS nets Android users features like typing indicators, read receipts, end-to-end encryption, Wi-Fi texting, dynamic group chats and more, niceties that have long been enjoyed by Apple device owners. Unfortunately, RCS is not compatible with Apple’s proprietary messaging system, meaning texts sent between Android and iOS devices switch back to an SMS backbone. Apple could be cajoled into adding support for RCS as more carriers adopt the standard, but for now it appears that the iPhone maker is content with blue bubble/green bubble conversations.
Apple is looking to expand its CarPlay interface reach within cars. The company is working on technology that would access functions like the climate-control system, speedometer, radio and seats, according to people with knowledge of the effort. The initiative, known as “IronHeart” internally, is still in its early stages and would require the cooperation of automakers. The iPhone-based system could access a range of controls, sensors and settings. That includes: inside and outside temperature and humidity readings; Temperature zones, fans and the defroster systems; Settings for adjusting surround-sound speakers, equalizers, tweeters, subwoofers, and the fade and balance; Seats and armrests; The speedometer, tachometer and fuel instrument clusters. By gaining access to controls and instruments, Apple could turn CarPlay into an interface that could span nearly the entire car. The data also could be used by Apple or third parties to create new kinds of apps or add features to existing functions. Some Apple users have complained about the need to jump between CarPlay and a car’s built-in system to manage key controls. This initiative would alleviate that friction.
Developers can now access a slew of new App Store metrics to keep closer tabs on app performance, gauge customer interest and more. The new analytics metrics available through App Store Connect are designed to provide a more granular look at an app’s overall health and allow developers to make changes accordingly. The new tools include transaction metrics, including redownloads, total downloads, proceeds, pre-orders, and updates, all of which can be displayed by territory, source type, device, and more. Access to the new data will help developers understand what drives growth and success. As of Sept. 20, all sales metrics include data from Apple School Manager and Apple Business Manager, as well as devices running iOS 7, macOS 10.14, tvOS 8, and earlier.
Under a plan by Visa, the fees that card issuers pay to Apple when their cardholders use Apple Pay wouldn’t apply on automatic recurring payments such as gym memberships and streaming services. Some banks are pushing back, undermining card networks Visa to change the way some Apple Pay transactions are processed. This change will reduce the fees that banks pay to Apple. Currently, banks pay the fee to Apple when their cardholders use Apple Pay. Under the new process planned, the fee will not apply to automatic recurring payments. When consumers load their credit cards on Apple Pay, Visa issues a special token that replaces the card number. This allows the card to work on Apple Pay and also helps protect the card in a potential data breach, among other benefits. Visa is planning to start using a separate token on recurring automatic payments. This effectively means that after making the first payment on the subscription, Apple will not receive a fee on the following transactions.