Apple integrates Fox Now, FX Now and Nat Geo TV into Apple TV universal search

Feb 05, 2016 - 2:31 PM - by sparkyscott21

After integrating PBS and PBS Kids into tvOS universal search last month, Apple on Thursday expanded the deep linking feature to include content sources Fox Now, FX Now and Nat Geo TV.

With the new search integration in place, Siri queries for shows like "Bob's Burgers" and "American Horror Story" surface viewing options from the Fox Now, FX Now and Nat Geo apps alongside the usual iTunes, Netflix and Hulu offerings.

A report from MacRumors notes Nat Geo TV is also included, but it seems only select shows are provisioned at this time. For example content pages for "Digggers" and "Dirty Rotten Survival" only include links to iTunes and Hulu.

The change comes one month after what appears to be Apple's opening of the tvOS universal search API. One of the fourth-generation Apple TV's tentpole features, universal search ties in with Siri to let users find specific shows from multiple providers. For example, searching for "Bob's Burgers" returns a dedicated show page with links to iTunes, Netflix, Hulu and Fox Now.

Universal search was limited to iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime and HBO at launch, but later expanded to include PBS and PBS Kids. The results appear even if the providers' tvOS apps are not installed.

Apple initially promised make the universal search API available to third-party developers last October, a month before the fourth-gen Apple TV shipped. Progress has been slow, but companies are apparently starting to graft support onto their respective content databases.

Update: Nat Geo TV support noted.


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Apple to allow broken screens on trade-in iPhones, offer optional screen protector

Feb 05, 2016 - 2:29 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple Stores will soon reportedly adopt two new measures related to the problem of cracked iPhone screens, including allowing some broken iPhones into its Reuse and Recycle trade-in program, and offering installation of purchased screen protectors.

Beginning this week, Apple Stores should be able to give credit for iPhone 5s and iPhone 6/6 Plus models with damaged screens, or even broken buttons and cameras, sources told 9to5Mac. Although there are limitations on the amount of acceptable damage, Apple is said to think this will encourage more people to buy a new iPhone instead of opting for a screen repair.

Apple is allegedly offering $50 for an iPhone 5s, but $200 for an iPhone 6, and $250 for a 6 Plus.

Plastic screen protector installation is claimed to be launching at some stores on Thursday, made possible by a partnership with at least one protector maker — Belkin — on distributing dedicated machines. If the process fails, Apple will offer a free protector replacement and try again.

Apple Stores would previously refuse to install such protectors, since doing so manually carries a greater risk of failure. By hand it's easier to install a protector at a crooked angle, or catch air bubbles or debris under the surface.


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Apple acknowledges 'Error 53' glitch, says it's part of Touch ID security

Feb 05, 2016 - 2:28 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple on Friday publicly acknowledged an unusual "Error 53" message, triggered by updating an iPhone 6 to iOS 9 or later after having the phone's Touch ID sensor fixed by an unofficial technician.

"We protect fingerprint data using a Secure Enclave, which is uniquely paired to the Touch ID sensor," a spokeswoman explained to The Guardian. "When [an] iPhone is serviced by an authorised Apple service provider or Apple retail store for changes that affect the Touch ID sensor, the pairing is re-validated."

With an unofficial repair, the representative warned, that pairing can go unvalidated and lead to Error 53 once iOS is updated, or even restored. People running into the glitch should contact Apple support, the spokeswoman suggested.

The problem renders an iPhone unusable however, and affected owners will likely have no choice but to buy a new phone, since an unofficial repair violates Apple's warranty terms.

The Guardian observed that many regions lack Apple Stores, which can sometimes make it hard to find a place to get authorized repairs done in a timely manner.

When Apple launched Touch ID it went to great lengths to assure people that the associated data couldn't be leaked online, or even captured by installed apps. The need to re-validate appears to be a defense against thieves (or other parties) extracting fingerprint data via hardware modifications.


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Video shows how to upgrade a 16GB iPhone 6 to 128GB for just $60

Feb 04, 2016 - 2:40 PM - by sparkyscott21

Last November, we learned that it costs just $90 to replace the 16GB flash memory on an iPhone with a 128GB module instead of the $200 extra that Apple would charge to buy a 128GB iPhone. To do that, you’d have to go to China and find iPhone experts that have the skill set to pull off this move, but make sure you leave your warranty at the door.

It turns out that the price has significantly dropped since then, and the 30-minute upgrade now costs $60. Furthermore, a video shows you how it’s made.

If you want to get 32GB of memory – yes, it’s possible – that’ll cost you just $20, while a bump to 64GB is priced at $35.

The trick, however, only works for iPhone 6 models and older. That means you can’t do it with a 16GB iPhone 6s, no matter how appealing it might sound.

Of course, if you’re looking to bump up memory on the iPhone, there are plenty of ways to do it legally. However, most of them include buying a memory adapter that can connect either wirelessly or via Lightning to the iPhone to offer additional local memory. For everything else, you can rely on cloud services.

That said, check out the video below to see how easy it is to have your iPhone’s memory upgraded all the way to 128GB for less than a third of the cost.


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Apple Ordered to Pay $625 Million in VirnetX Patent Dispute

Feb 04, 2016 - 2:36 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple was today found guilty of willfully infringing on four patents in an ongoing dispute with VirnetX and has been ordered to pay $625 million in damages, reports CNBC.

The patents in question relate to virtual private networking (VPN) protocols and in today's ruling, the jury decided that Apple's FaceTime and iMessages service, along with the iOS devices that support those services, infringe on VirnetX's intellectual property.

The patent dispute between Apple and VirnetX dates back to 2010, with a jury initially awarding VirnetX $368 million in 2012 after Apple was found guilty of infringing on VirnetX patents. That decision was thrown out in September of 2014 after the damages were found to have been incorrectly calculated, but a damages retrial that started last week led to the decision handed down this afternoon.

VirnetX originally requested $532 million in damages, an amount that grew to $625 million taking into account the willful infringement ruling.

Ahead of the jury's decision, CNBC says Apple filed a request asking U.S District Judge Robert Schroeder to declare a mistrial, accusing VirnetX of misleading and confusing the jury during its closing arguments. Schroeder has not yet made a ruling on the request.


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Apple Pay accepted at more than 2M locations, coming to Chik-fil-A, other stores soon

Feb 04, 2016 - 2:34 PM - by sparkyscott21

As of Thursday, iPhone and Apple Watch owners can use their devices to complete Apple Pay transactions at more than two million retail locations, Apple says, with chains like Chik-fil-A expected to add compatibility soon.

According to a report from Bloomberg, published by The Business Times, Apple's in-house payments initiative is developing as planned after the company blew past internal goals to roll out compatibility at 1.5 million retail outlets by the end of 2015.

Aside from currently existing deployments, big chains like Crate & Barrel, Chick-fil-A and Au Bon Pain have plans to integrate Apple Pay as a checkout option in the near future. Additionally, online merchants are flipping the switch on in-app payments, like did on Tuesday.

"We've been getting requests from customers to use Apple Pay for quite a while," said Zappos' mobile chief Aki Iida. "It makes the customer experience easier, why not try it?"

Not a highly touted feature, in-app payment integration is on the rise, Apple said. The company noted purchase volume more than doubled in the trailing half of 2015 compared to the first six months of the year, the report said.

Apple Pay is considered a young product in the payments space. As such, both merchants and consumers are reluctant to commit when traditional offerings remain widely available. The company is still investigating how best to boost adoption in the U.S., a culture that has not yet evolved past swipe credit card transactions.

Apple intends to expand Apple Pay into China as part of a partnership with card processor Union Pay, a region of massive growth potential both for payments and the company's hardware. Last month, touchless Apple Pay transactions were reportedly working in some areas ahead of an official launch.


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