Tag Archives: Apple Pay

PTJ 298: Over Easy

Famous eggs, self-delivering scooters, rabbit-ears making a comeback and YouTube tries to ban stupidity — El Kaiser and JD catch up on a big pile of technology news from the past week or two. And in a (Hopefully) Helpful Hint, J.D. explains how to use a free, pre-built spreadsheet to track your finances. Roll on into PTJ 298 to hear it all!

Stories Discussed on This Week’s Show

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint

PTJ 212: Photographs and Memories

After a week off to deal with life during the week of the U.S. elections, El Kaiser and J.D. return to discuss the aftermath of the event and how Facebook and Google have been getting heat over it. Also in the news: Snapchat brings back the concept of camera-integrated glasses, there’s a new app for scanning old photos and Apple has made it easier to make those end-of-year charitable donations. Oh, and Twitter is making more of an effort to deal with abuse and harassment. All this AND MORE on this week’s episode of Pop Tech Jam — roll 212!

Links to This Week’s News Stories

 

PTJ 184 News: Never Mind

Well, after all that legal grandstanding and trying to force Apple to build a back door in its mobile operating system, the Justice Department went back to court this week to say: Never mind. Thanks to help from a third-party volunteer hacking specialist, the FBI says it is now rolling through the encrypted data that was harvested from the iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorist.

So now that the whole incident is over, what was it about? Some argue that corporate compliance is mandatory in this dangerous era of terror. Others, including famed NSA leaker Edward Snowden, have gone on record saying the FBI could have gotten into the phone on its own and the whole thing was about establishing a legal precedent. So, until next time…

Speaking of Apple’s iOS software, the company has acknowledged bugs in its recent 9.3 update. Patch on the way!

instagramInstagram’s previously announced move to using algorithms  in feeds has caused a bit of a panic in the Insta-community, so that’s why you’ve been inundated by people asking you to turn on notifications so that their posts will not get buried. No word on when that change to the system  going live, but Instagram did announce this week that it was increasing the maximum running time of posted video from 15 seconds to 60 seconds.

Twitter celebrated its 10th-anniversary last week and this week, the company’s Periscope app for live-streaming video celebrated its one-year anniversary from its official launch date. Periscope has reportedly been used for 200 million live video broadcasts and not all of them were Game of Thrones or House of Cards bootlegs.

People poking around in Facebook Messenger code say they’ve found evidence that points to the potential to make purchases in retail stores and fund them with Apple Pay, all without leaving the Messenger app. Facebook has made no announcements yet, nor on reports that it’s also working on Snapchat-like self-destructing messages called Secret Conversations. (But, while we’re talking bout Snapchat, that company has just released what it calls Chat 2.0, which lets users easily tap between text, audio and video chat.)

riftIn gaming news, reviews of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset are starting to pop up around the web, including one from Brian X. Chen at The New York Times who called it a well-built hardware system brimming with potential. However, the first wave of apps and software will probably only appeal to hard-core gamers.

Sony is also stepping up the graphics in its console games and said it plans to release an updated version of its PlayStation 4 machine later this year. The current PlayStation 4 model would stick around, but it would add a newer version with enough mojo to handle virtual reality and other visually intense gaming experiences.

Vimeo announced this week that it’s made some updates to its channel on the Roku set-top box. As explained in a blog post on the company site, you can now you can rent or buy films and video series directly from their creators right there on your Roku TV.

Audio-sharing site SoundCloud is also stepping things up with a new subscription service here in the States called SoundCloud Go.

Oracle is not happy with Google over a little matter of copyright and is suing the Big G for use of Java in the Android operating system. Oracle seeking 9.3 billion dollars in damages. Google, for its part, has other things on its mind this week, like its new Fiber Phone service, which brings unlimited and nationwide phone calls to homes with Google Fiber broadband service for $10 a month.

fiber

Yahoo’s financial woes have not gotten any better this year and the company announced it’ll be accepting bids for its web business and Asian assets. The Wall Street Journal reports the company has set an April 11th deadline for preliminary bids from interested buyers. Perhaps Yahoo can throw a few departments up on eBay.

And finally, if you don’t live in the States or you’re too broke to buy one of those handy Amazon Echo speakers that does your bidding when you give it verbal commands, you can build your own with an inexpensive Raspberry Pi barebones computers and a little time. Novaspirit Tech has a demo video:

Lest you think this is an unauthorized adventure, Amazon itself has posted its own instructions on GitHub for getting the hardware working with its Alexa Voice Service. So, if you need a summer project this year when you’re not picking up Yahoo properties at a weekend tag sale, consider the DIY Raspberry Echo.

 

PTJ 140 News: Cable Ties and Record Highs

After we recorded last week’s episode (of course), news broke that the Comcast deal to acquire Time Warner Cable was kaput. While those worried about cable monopolies were happy the Comcast deal was scuttled, not everyone was thrilled about it — namely Time Warner Cable customers who say their quality of service is so miserable, that a Comcast takeover surely would have been an improvement. The New York Times had a story this week that talked to a few of those desperate souls trying to watch Game of Thrones from the Tenth Circle.

Also in cable news, ESPN is suing Verizon for breach of contract over those slimmed-down channel bundles. Fox and NBC seem poised to board the USS Lawsuit as well.

Apple announced its quarterly earnings reports this week and announced a $13.6 billion dollar profit thanks to record-breaking sales of iPhones, Macs and apps from the App Store. But while iPhone sales were up 40 percent from later, iPad sales were down 23 percent. Trouble in Tablet Town? (That iPhone 6 Plus does have a pretty big screen, come to think of it…)

The iPhone 6 line and the Apple Watch are boosting the use of Apple Pay, and Discover is the latest credit-card company to join up with Apple for mobile payments. Best Buy has also added Apple Pay to its mobile app and said its retail stores will be accepting those phone-tap payments at the cash register later this year. And speaking of those Apple Watches that started shipping last week, the Slice Intelligence research firm estimates that only 22 percent of the 1.7 million pre-ordered Apple Watched actually shipped to customers last week.

LGurbaneBut as we all know, the Apple Watch is just one of many smartwatch platforms out there an the rest of them aren’t exactly sitting still. Last week, before Apple’s pricey timepiece began rolling out on FedEx trucks, Google announced an update to its Android Wear software that’s used by several hardware makers. The company outlined the new features, like support for WiFi-enabled watches, scrolling through news and notifications with the flick of a wrist, and the ability to launch apps with a tap on the watch face. Google said the new version of Android Wear would be arriving in the next few weeks to all seven watches that support it, and the fancy LG Watch Urbane (shown here) was first in line for the update. Stylish smartwatches aren’t the only devices LG Electronics is releasing this spring, as the company just revealed its new authentic leather-backed Android smartphone, the LG G4.

Google just added 70 cards to Google Now from its partner apps, so you can get more creepy helpfulness than ever before. Even more!

T-Mobile had some good earnings news of its own this week. Thanks to its inventive campaign of promotional offers and price cuts, the company added 1.1 million new monthly subscribers, which was more than analysts had predicted. Not everyone had good earninsg to report, though. Twitter’s stock price took a hit after a research company leaked the bird-themed microblogging service’s less-than-desirable quarterly earnings report.

SwiftKey, the popular alternative mobile keyboard app, is experimenting with a new variation that can correct multiple words or even whole sentences you’ve tapped out. The new edition is called the Clarity Keyboard and you can download the beta from the Google Play store now.

Microsoft got just smacked down by a judge at the US International Trade Commission who found that Microsoft was guilty of infringements on two wireless cellular patents held by another company called InterDigital Inc.  As a result of the ruling, Microsoft could see an import ban that would stop its devices from coming into the country and hinder Windows Phone sales even more.  The judgement needs to be reviewed, however,  and Microsoft is vowing to press onward.

tugsIn robot news, those clever folks at Stanford University have developed tiny robots that can pull objects up to 2,000 times their own body weight. The little wonders are called “MicroTugs” and in addition to physics and engineering, the Stanford scientists took some cues from the natural world and incorporated techniques used by hardy ants — as well as geckos with their conveniently sticky feet for traction and climbing. You can see videos of the wee robots dragging cups of coffee and climbing with a payload are on the department’s YouTube channel.

Facebook announced this week that Messenger makes the video calls from one mobile phone number to another phone number regardless of smartphone platform. And Facebook-owned Instagram has added three new filters and the ability to use emoji characters in hashtags. (Also, we have heard reports of Instagram having some crashing issues even when updating to the new app, so it’s probably them, not you. Or a bug.)

And finally, the death toll is in the now thousands from the horrific earthquake that rocked the country of Nepal this weekend. Countless people have been displaced and the country is reeling, but tech companies are pitching in to help:

itunes

Other new organizations have posted links to relief agencies and other organizations that are taking donations to help the people of Nepal. If you can, send help because we’re all in this world together.

PTJ 132 News: Raise Your Glasses

Amid all the noise from both sides of the issue, the Federal Communications Commission voted last week to adopt the new rules that reclassify broadband Internet service as a public utility. The lawsuits are looming, but for now, the rules have passed. But something new to consider from it all: Mobile broadband service also falls under the new rules. As The Verge site points out, this is a total game-changer in the mobile space.

samsungs6Mobile is everywhere, and especially out at the Mobile World Congress expo in Barcelona this week. Among the announcements: the fancy new Samsung Galaxy S6 and its sibling the Galaxy S6 Edge (shown here). Microsoft and HTC were among the many companies announcing new smartphone models with Lumia 640 line and the One M9 respectively; BlackBerry is fighting to get back in the game with its security-enhanced BlackBerry Leap smartphone, Intel has announced the next generation of Atom processors, and LG showed off four new phones and the fancy LG Watch Urbane Smartwatch that runs on Android.

Also in Android news, Google mentioned a new forthcoming Android Pay mobile payments service to compete with Apple Pay and the newly announced Samsung Pay. The Big G also said its Project Loon adventure is floating closer to becoming reality and the company may also be considering its own wireless service. Microsoft also introduced a new Universal Folding Keyboard for people who hate to type on glass screens.

The social network formerly known as Google+ is being split up into two parts, at least internally within the halls of Google. These parts shall be known as Photos and Streams. Google Hangouts will continue as a standalone communications tool for video.

Apple has announced a Spring Forward event for March 9th, presumably to discuss the final specs and ship date for the Apple Watch. Apple CEO Tim Cook has been dropping hints about apps for the watch. And, as part of its OS X Beta program, Apple also released the first public Yosemite 10.10.3 beta for Mac participants.

hrcOh, when governments and technology collide. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is getting heat and may have broken some rules by using a personal email account to conduct government business during her tenure with the State Department. The Federal Records Act does not like it when official government business is conducted on personal email accounts with questionable security. Mrs. Clinton has since asked for the messages to be released.

President Obama has come out against new policies the Chinese government has placed on US technology companies who want to do business over there. The Chinese government’s pending new rules require tech firms to provide copies of encryption keys to Chinese authorities and to build security backdoors into systems, all in the name of counter-terrorism. The US does not like this. (To quote the comedienne Brett Butler, “Oh, Arturo, Prince of Irony.”)

AVGAnd finally, if all these government eyeballs looking at you are making you nervous, you may want to keep your own eye on the development of AVG’s “invisibility glasses.” Although still proof-of-concept and dorkier for even some of the biggest dorks around to actually wear, the idea shows a nice little spark of resistance in an over-photographed world. In the meantime, sports fans of lousy teams (New York Jets, Mets, Knicks — take your pick) have an alternative solution for avoiding recognition on camera.

PTJ 129 News: Identity Crisis

Those massive corporate data breaches just keep rolling on like an endless Mardi Gras parade, don’t they? Last week’s big heist from the Anthem health insurance company  may have actually started almost nine months ago, though. Brian Krebs, keeper of the excellent Krebs on Security blog, is among those reporting that open-source information used to analyze the attack suggests that the first Anthem network intrusions took place in April 2014. When the hack ‘n’ heist was announced last week, Anthem quickly put up an information page and frequently asked questions page for its customers. Some experts have also suggested putting a security freeze on your accounts if you really want to throw up a roadblock.

Also hacked: The Twitter account of Anthony Noto, the chief financial officer of Twitter. Oops.

The White House is at least trying to get an agency together to help sort out online security incidents. The Cyber Threat and Intelligence Integration Center is expected to serve as a portal for members of the intelligence community to share and compare cyber threat data.

Google is also celebrating Safer Internet Day until February 17th, The company put up an online Security Checkup tutorial that guides you through reviewing your permissions and security settings. It takes about two minutes to complete and has a reward, Google will give you a permanent two-gigabyte bump in your Google Drive storage space. So that’s win-win, but perhaps Google ought to to some safer Internet housekeeping and clean out those nasty adware apps posing as games in its Google Play store.

safer

On a happier health-related note, Google announced this week on its Google Blog that it was adding fact-checked medical information to its Knowledge Graph feature of Google search. Who knows what else they’ll be adding to search by the time the annual I/O conference rolls in — it’ll be May 28th & 29th this year.

Smart TVs may be getting a little too smart for some people. There’s chatter around Samsung’s Smart TV this week, particularly the voice activation feature that can be used to control the set by talking when it was revealed that the TV can eavesdrop and record private conversations that take front of the TV and transmit the information to third-party companies.

bigTV

Samsung acknowledged the practice in its user agreement for the TV and said users can turn off voice activation whenever they want and other users have gone to more extreme measures Samsung, realizing that clumsy wording its is EULA was causing uproar, later went to its corporate blog to clarify that the Smart TV does not randomly record private living room conversations and its really just about transmitting the spoken-word commands to Nuance for translation into action. Still, many people have noticed a similarity to the spying telescreens of Big Brother in George Orwell’s novel 1984.

Hey, a $10,000 Ethernet cable? Some gearheads are clearly a bit skeptical, but if this sort of thing appeals to you, we also hear there’s a super-cool bit of New York City real estate over there for sale, too.

scribdScribd, the service that offers unlimited access to certain ebooks for a monthly fee, is bringing the same approach to comics — yes, unlimited access to the company’s digital comics offerings for $9 a month. No DC Comics, though. Yet, anyway. But look! Up in the sky! At least you can use Apple Pay on JetBlue starting this month.

Apple is also hard at work on the next couple versions of its iOS software. Several tech blogs are reporting that there’s an iOS 8.4 update down the road when the Apple Watch arrives this spring and that one may include a new streaming Beats music service. And later this year, look for iOS 9.

purse

And finally, the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum announced this week that it has some long-lost space artifacts from Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Although Mr. Armstrong died in 2012, his widow contacted the museum recently and said she found a white bag known as a “McDivitt purse” in one of Mr. Armstrong’s closets. The random objects inside the bag turned out to be about 10 pounds of hardware related to the original moonwalk — including the 16mm Data Acquisition Camera that was mounted in the window of the lunar module Eagle to record the historic landing and “one small step” step. Here’s hoping the Smithsonian does an Inside Neil Armstrong’s Historic Space Purse exhibit soon!

10 Things We Talked About in 2014 That Will Be Even Bigger in 2015

  1. NET NEUTRALITY
    It wasn’t just us — nearly four million people took the time to file comments on the Federal Communication Commission’s website in the summer and fall of 2014. Larger corporations who do not want to see their businesses regulated are pitted against consumers, advocacy groups, digital-rights organizations and smaller companies who think the Internet should stay the way it is — and remain free and open. The FCC’s new rules are expected by February, so stand by for more chatter in the new year.
  1. HACKING
    The Sony Pictures Hack got a lot of press, but it was only one of many high-profile intrusions in 2014. JPMorgan Chase and The Home Depot also had hacking headlines, all on the heels of 2013’s big Target data heist. It all continues to be a big financial payoff for fraudsters, so batten down the hatches for 2015.
  1. SECURITY
    Yes, if big corporations had better security, maybe they wouldn’t get hacked as severely, but remember, security is an issue for everyone. The Heartbleed bug and the Shellshock vulnerability were just two incidents in the past year in which our everyday computer systems were proven not to be as secure as we thought. Apple has even resorted to an automatic patch for a recent clock bug to make sure people were protected. So stay on guard  and keep on patchin’.
  1. WEARABLES
    Yes, we saw a lot of smartwatches hit the stores in 2014, but they were all trying to get out ahead of the Apple Watch, which was announced last fall and is expected to go on sale sometime before the end of March. Fitness trackers, like the Microsoft Band and the Fitbit line saw some action, too. It’ll be interesting to see if the fancy watches impact their sales in the new year, or of fitness and fashion shall remain divided. (And don’t forget — Google Glass is still lurking out there as well in the wearable world.)
  1. MOBILE PAYMENTS
    Again, Google Wallet and a couple other mobile payment systems were already there, but Apple dropped Apple Pay into its new hardware, and that’s all people want to talk about. Apple Pay was not without backlash, though, as some stores like CVS and Rite Aid opted not to take Apple’s system because they had one of their own in the works (hel-lo, antitrust investigation). But the drugstores’ CurrentC system is not off to a great start security-wise and it’s already had an email database breach of its own.
  1. INTERNET OF THINGS
    Ah, devices all connected together into one big Internet of Things. As one might expect, there’s a massive push for connected-home stuff at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Expo next week. We’ve already seen connected light bulbs and thermostats get some attention in 2014, so get ready for more things talking to other things.
  1. 4K VIDEO
    Ultra high-def TV sets were all the rage at CES last year, but now prices have dropped far enough so that regular people who are Not Multimillionaires can afford some of the new models. YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video are starting to stream some content in 4K, and new smartphones with faster processors that can handle 4K vid (like the Snapdragon 810) are on the way so more people can shoot their own UHD movies.
  1. SOCIAL ISSUES ONLINE
    As more women enter traditional male strongholds, like the fields of computer science or massively multiplayer videogames, some (but not all) men are feeling threatened by the changing world and lashing out protectively. Message boards, personal communication and even organized efforts like the so-called GamerGate incident have shown some uncivilized behavior towards women, who for their part, are starting to stand up and fight back — even getting coverage on the front page of The New York Times. America’s volatile year with racial issues has also spilled over into the online world, with tirades in social media and even snide remarks about a black stormtrooper in the Star Wars trailer. But people are rising above it and using technology as a tool to make a difference. Take for example, Feminist Hacker Barbie or the way social media has been used to organize peaceful protests efficiently and bring people together for to work for change. There’s still a long way to go, but things are shifting and will continue to do so.
  1. VIDEO EVERYWHERE
    2014 saw more ways than ever before to stream video conent to mobile devices. Even though some companies like Aereo bit the dust in court, others like HBO have made the jump to free their programming from cable packages and make it available in standalone apps and services. New hardware like the Amazon Fire TV box and Stick — along with the growing adoption of existing products from Roku, Google and Apple — have made it cheap and easy to stream Internet video to the big screen. Online video streams to all screen sizes will only get more popular, especially as more Smart TVs with some of these services built in continue to get more affordable.
  1. STAR WARS
    Yeah, we talked a lot about Star Wars: The Force Awakens this year on the show. So imagine what it’s gonna be like when the movie actually opens on December 18, 2015.

Happy New Year!

PTJ 116: No Need to Put a Quarter Up

It’s that time of year when the weather gets chillier but the Oscar race heats up in Hollywood. The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch is an early award season favorite but if you just can’t wait for the biopic of cryptanalyst,  computer pioneer, and super-boffin Alan Turing, J.D. tells us where we can get a biographical fix of the WWII hero.

In the news,  Google’s Nexus 9 tablet is now available, as is the latest iteration of their mobile OS; the Apple Pay roll-out gathers momentum;  researchers identify a costly glitch in Visa’s contactless credit cards; Microsoft joins the wearable fitness tracker game; Amazon unveils their Prime Photos cloud service; lots and lots of corporate hookups; and The Internet Archive debuts their Internet Arcade with 900 classic games.

PTJ 116 News: Zen Arcade

Apple may have hogged all the headlines in September, but so far, Google is owning November. The  Google Nexus 9 tablet is now available and Android 5.0, also known as Lollipop, is beginning to roll out to those using older Nexus devices. The system update, among other things, includes the new Material Design look. If you’re rocking a phone from another manufacturer or wireless carrier, check with those folks to see when you might get Lollipopped.

gmailGoogle also officially released that new Gmail app for Android, which works on all devices running at least Android 4.0. You can find it in the Google Play store. The Google Calendar app for Android is also getting an update; it’s available already on Lollipop devices and will be arriving in the Google Play store soon for older hardware running at least Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. (The designers at Google must have had a hellaciously busy fall, as the Google Maps mobile app has also gotten a refresh.)

So, about Apple… although CVS and Rite Aid are spurning the new Apple Pay mobile payment system, Chase, Citi and Bank of America were all on board at launch and now another wave of banks is signing on to be part of Apple’s e-wallet. Navy Federal Credit Union, US Bank, USAA and PNC are all live now — or will be very soon.

Mobile payments, along with chip ‘n’ PIN cards like the ones used in Europe, are destined to replace the antique magnetic-stripe credit cards still in use here in the United States. But chip ‘n’ PIN may have some problems of its own. Researchers at Newscastle University in the United Kingdom have published a report that says a glitch in Visa’s contactless credit cards lets them bypass the standard £20 limit and approve unlimited cash transactions up to one million dollars without requiring a PIN – as long as the amount is requested in a foreign currency. Okay, guys, fix that now, please.

One somber note to the news this week: We would like to extend our condolences for all involved in the two horrible accidents last week involving spacecraft made by commercial companies. We speak, of course, of the unmanned Antares rocket that exploded in Virginia during the launch of a resupply mission to the International Space Station and also the deadly crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two in the Mojave Desert that killed a crew member.

mbandLast week, Microsoft announced its new wearable fitness tracker — a $200 black tech bracelet with the catchy name of Microsoft Band. It works not just with Windows Phones, but Android models and iPhones as well; if you do happen to use Windows Phone 8.1 with it, you also a few other perks like vice commands to the Cortana assistant and text notifications. Now, if only the Microsoft Band did not look like a court-ordered monitor for those under house arrest…

Microsoft will be getting a new neighbor soon. The Seattle Times has confirmed that Apple is opening an engineering office up there in the Emerald City. The tech-scene corporate mixers are probably going to get a lot more interesting once Apple moves into town.

baleAccording to The Hollywood Reporter, Christian Bale (left) has decided he was not right for the part of Steve Jobs in the Aaron Sorkin-penned biopic. Deadline is reporting that Michael Fassbender is up for the part now, though, and that could be interesting. Fassbender has already shown off his brooding intensity as the young Magneto in the two most recent X-Men films, so the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field should be a snap.

Amazon Prime members continue to collect perks. Amazon has released a new service for them called Prime Photos, which brings unlimited digital-picture storage to Amazon Cloud Drive.  Amazon also announced that its Prime members can take advantage of partnerships the company has set up with other retailers. For example, Prime members can now get free, next-day shipping on items purchased from the British fashion company AllSaints.com.

Looks like a few major corporations are hooking up on some deals:

cheekyAnd finally, if you loved the collection of console and PC games preserved and made available online at The Internet Archive, you’re probably going to love the site’s new Internet Arcade. Yes, now 900 classic arcade games like Defender, Millipede, Major Havoc, Stargate, Quasar and Cheeky Mouse and all those others mall-arcade faves can be relived in emulation right in your web browser.  ‘Nuff said.

PTJ 115: We Got Your Disruption Right Here

I’ve never been one to mince words so let me just drop a truth-bomb on all of you fine folk reading this. J.D. and El Kaiser are disruptors. Period. Full stop.  If there’s any doubt, quit dawdling and listen to this episode.

Pedro breaks down Disruptive Innovation in a Tech Term segment and J.D. explains how  you may already have a basic fitness tracker right on your phone.

In the news  Google has plans for a paid version of YouTube; Motorola unveils a new Droid; Verizon Wireless force feeds some users perma-cookies; The Federal Trade Commission has files a complaint against AT&T; Not all retailers are jumping on the Apple Pay bandwagon; HTML5 is finally official; Amazon takes on the Chromecast; And finally, Apple CEO Tim Cook explains why Apple killed off the iPod Classic.