Apple Includes New Business Chat Feature in Next iOS Update

Apple is preparing for a major iPhone operating system update, iOS 11.3, and it will include some important new features. Chief among those is Business Chat, which lets users communicate directly with businesses via the iMessage app. At launch, Business Chat will allow communications with a select group of companies including Wells Fargo, Lowe’s, Hilton and Discover. Also new with iOS 11.3 is version 1.5 of the company’s virtual reality developers’ kit ARKit, four Animoji, and new features that display battery health. Continue reading Apple Includes New Business Chat Feature in Next iOS Update

Apple Earmarks $1 Billion to Buy, Produce Original TV Shows

According to sources, Apple has a budget of about $1 billion to acquire and produce original content this next year, an amount that is roughly half of what Time Warner’s HBO spent on content last year and equal to what Amazon spent in 2013. Apple hopes that with its enormous global purview and marketing capabilities, it can be a serious competitor in the original content arena. With this budget, Apple could purchase or produce as many as 10 TV shows, which could be distributed on Apple Music or a video streaming service. Continue reading Apple Earmarks $1 Billion to Buy, Produce Original TV Shows

WWDC: Apple Unveils Product Updates and New HomePod

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference kicked off yesterday in San Jose, California. During his keynote, CEO Tim Cook noted that 5,300 developers from 75 countries were attending this year’s conference. Among the more noteworthy announcements, Apple shared information regarding its High Sierra macOS update; iOS 11 with improved Siri (including language translation), iMessage features, and Core ML to make machine learning easier; a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro (starting at $649, available next week); a beefed-up iMac Pro; a completely redesigned App Store; and an Echo-like smart speaker called HomePod (shipping in December for $349). Continue reading WWDC: Apple Unveils Product Updates and New HomePod

Apple Expected to Debut Laptop Upgrades at June Conference

With a plan to unveil upgrades to three laptops at its annual WWDC conference in June, Apple hopes to boost sagging iPad sales and push back against rival Microsoft. Among the upgrades, the MacBook Pro will get a faster Intel Kaby Lake processor; the 12-inch MacBook will get a faster Intel chip; and the aging 13-inch MacBook Air, which still enjoys robust sales, may get a new processor. The Mac laptops are responsible for 11 percent of Apple’s $216 billion in annual sales, whereas the iPhone accounts for two-thirds of sales. Continue reading Apple Expected to Debut Laptop Upgrades at June Conference

Apple iPhone Sales Dip While Apple Pay, Apple Watch Soar

In the latest quarter, Apple’s profit and revenue have ticked upward, but the company is experiencing problems with its iPhone, whose sales dropped 1 percent from the previous year to 50.8 million phones. The dip in sales is attributed to customers waiting for the 10-year anniversary phone, due in the fall, and weakness in China. Despite the slump, sales of the iPhone 7 were somewhat strong, pushing total revenue up 4.6 percent to $52.90 billion. In contrast to the iPhone, Apple Pay transactions and Apple Watch sales soared. Continue reading Apple iPhone Sales Dip While Apple Pay, Apple Watch Soar

Amazon Cash for Those Without Credit Cards, Bank Accounts

To succeed in countries where large percentages of the population do not have bank accounts, Amazon is launching Amazon Cash, a new service that allows users to add cash to their Amazon accounts without incurring fees. Otherwise, to make cash purchases, such customers would have to buy an Amazon Gift Card or purchase a prepaid card. To access Amazon Cash between $15 and $500, the user requests a barcode, accessed through Amazon’s website mobile app or via text message, which is presented to a participating retailer. Continue reading Amazon Cash for Those Without Credit Cards, Bank Accounts

Apple Unveils New MacBook Pro, OLED Touch Bar, TV App

At yesterday’s “Hello Again” event in Cupertino, Apple announced its redesigned MacBook Pro featuring an OLED touch strip that the company has named Touch Bar. Apple’s lightest and thinnest MacBook yet, available in 13- and 15-inch versions, also features a larger Force Touch trackpad and Touch ID fingerprint scanner. A new 5K monitor from LG connects to the new laptop. Additionally, the company revealed its latest app for the Apple TV box, simply named “TV,” due in December. The app showcases content from the apps users already subscribe to, such as HBO Go, Hulu, iTunes and Starz.

Continue reading Apple Unveils New MacBook Pro, OLED Touch Bar, TV App

Walmart Makes Mobile Payment App Available to Entire Chain

Walmart is expanding its mobile payment service, Walmart Pay, to its entire chain of 4,600 U.S. stores. The feature can be found on the retailer’s app, which is available for Android and Apple devices. According to the company, more than 20 million consumers regularly use the app, which offers discounts and helps locate products. Walmart, which has 140 million weekly shoppers, is aiming to make the shopping and checkout experience more convenient. It is also looking to compete with companies such as Apple, Alphabet and Samsung, all of which offer ways to make mobile purchases. Continue reading Walmart Makes Mobile Payment App Available to Entire Chain

WWDC: Apple Unveils OS Enhancements, Opens Siri to World

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference kicked off yesterday in San Francisco with a two-hour keynote that introduced new enhancements coming to iOS, watchOS, tvOS and Mac OS X (now called macOS). Developer previews of the operating systems are being made available now, with public betas to follow next month, and integration with Apple devices by fall. Among the highlights: live channels and YouTube search are coming to Apple TV, Siri is coming to the desktop, a new SDK invites developers to create Siri apps, iPhone users can dump unwanted apps, Apple Pay is expanded to Safari, Apple Music gets a new interface, and watchOS 3 loads apps seven times faster. Continue reading WWDC: Apple Unveils OS Enhancements, Opens Siri to World

Apple’s Growth Stalls, China Shutdown Could Signal Trouble

Apple’s 13-year run of quarterly revenue growth has come to an end; the company reported that revenue for its second fiscal quarter, ending March, declined 13 percent to $50.6 billion. The reasons are many: its huge size makes sustained momentum difficult; it has suffered setbacks in China, its second largest market; it lacks a hot new product; and, with iPhones accounting for half the smartphones in the U.S., phones have likely reached a saturation point. Sales of iPhones fell 16 percent in Q1 2016 compared to the same quarter last year. Continue reading Apple’s Growth Stalls, China Shutdown Could Signal Trouble

Apple Debuts Minor Changes, But Has Big Plans for iPad Pro

Apple’s growth by the end of Q4 2015 was a pallid 2 percent, and the unveiling of its new products at this week’s event from Cupertino showed only incremental changes: an updated 4-inch screen iPhone, a new smaller iPad Pro and a free update to Apple TV. But Apple has big growth potential in its future plans. Although iPad sales have been declining, the company sees the new iPad Pro as a replacement for the huge number of aging PCs, and brought the newly converted Citigroup and Pixar to the event to make its point. Continue reading Apple Debuts Minor Changes, But Has Big Plans for iPad Pro

Google Launches Pilot Program for Hands-Free Mobile Wallet

Google launched a pilot for Hands Free, a mobile wallet application that allows a buyer to use her phone for purchases without taking it out of her purse. The pilot, conducted in the southern San Francisco Bay area, is available in a few stores and designated McDonald’s and Papa John’s locations. The cashier’s system can detect the user’s phone; to close the transaction, the user asks to pay with Google and gives her initials to the cashier. The cashier can also detect if the user is the same person in the Google profile. Continue reading Google Launches Pilot Program for Hands-Free Mobile Wallet

Apple, Google, Samsung Battle to Dominate Mobile Payments

Apple, Google and Samsung are all vying to dominate the nascent mobile payments market sector. Samsung, a newcomer to the competition, has already signed up five million U.S. users, who have racked up $500 million in transactions since launching in September. Apple Pay is estimated to have 12 million monthly users and Android Pay has five million. Still, adoption of mobile payments hasn’t caught fire yet. Not all retailers accept mobile payments, which also require later-generation phones. Continue reading Apple, Google, Samsung Battle to Dominate Mobile Payments

Apple Readies Debut of iPhone 5se, Feature-Rich Version of 5s

Apple fans browsing the Internet were excited to read about a new 4-inch iPhone 6c. Not so fast. According to sources who have used the upcoming iPhone with a 4-inch display, the information is false. Rather than release a smaller version of the iPhone 6s (for customers yearning for a less daunting screen size than 4.7 or 5.5 inches), Apple is upgrading the iPhone 5s first released in fall 2013. The upgrade is not a preview of the iPhone 7, as rumored, but retains the 5s’s design and include a headphone jack. Continue reading Apple Readies Debut of iPhone 5se, Feature-Rich Version of 5s

Banks Make Changes to Adapt to Today’s Mobile Technologies

As a growing number of consumers, particularly millennials, access financial services on their smartphones, traditional banks are struggling to keep up with new competitors. Major tech companies, from Apple to Snapchat, have entered the consumer banking industry, along with a wide variety of financial tech startups. Banks like Citigroup have formed new partnerships and departments for developing more mobile-friendly banking services as Americans’ banking habits continue to evolve. Continue reading Banks Make Changes to Adapt to Today’s Mobile Technologies