Apple Pay 'Making Up a Lot of Ground' With Competitors Thanks to Success of Apple Pay Cash
A new report out this week by Bloomberg highlights Apple's ongoing efforts to boost adoption of Apple Pay, which is said to be gaining more traction this year thanks to the launch of Apple Pay Cash, as well as a growing number of of retailers supporting the mobile wallet. Although it still struggles to surpass rival mobile wallets, analyst Gene Munster argues that Apple's real advantage lies in the fact that it's the only digital wallet with payment options for mobile apps, desktop, peer-to-peer, and in stores.
According to Munster, Apple Pay Cash's launch in December 2017 "was a big missing piece" to the Apple Pay ecosystem, and has led the company to "make up a lot of ground" with its competition in 2018.
In total, 60 percent of United States merchants will have Apple Pay-ready equipment in their shops by the end of this year, which is an increase from three percent four years ago, when Apple Pay launched. Apple Pay already has made impressive growth in the United Kingdom, because merchants there "already accepted contactless payments and consumers were already using contactless cards," explained Crone Consulting CEO Richard Crone.
Multiple analysts believe that Apple's biggest opportunity in the mobile payments field is to increase acceptance of Apple Pay from e-commerce sites and to beef up the features of Apple Pay Cash. According to data from Crone Consulting, the number of online mobile app transactions using Apple Pay is "growing much faster" than transactions made inside retail stores. In this area, Apple Pay is used by hundreds of thousands of websites and is accepted by 85 of the top 100 global e-commerce apps. Senior managing director for Falcon Point Capital, Michael Mahoney, agreed:
“When it started, you’d tap and physically cause a purchase to be made,” Michael Mahoney said. “The whole world of mobile commerce has so much shifted to everything being done on the phone and shipped to you. My kids don’t even think of going to the store. Apple Pay has morphed along with that change in behavior.”As of estimates from August, 31 percent of worldwide iPhone users have used Apple Pay in some way in the last year, up from 25 percent one year ago, according to Loup Ventures data. In regards to the total number of active users making at least two transactions per month, Crone Consulting estimates that Apple has 32 million users in the U.S., compared to its total user base of around 252 million global. In terms of U.S. usage, PayPal has the most at 250 million users and Walmart Pay is just below Apple Pay at 31 million users.
Apple Pay Cash was the highest-rated peer-to-peer payments platform on the market, according to a review by Consumer Reports. The service beat out Zelle, Square Cash, Venmo, and Facebook Messenger P2P payments, mainly due to Apple's stronger privacy and security measures. Munster pointed out that the growth of Apple's P2P platform is convincing new people to add their banks into Apple Pay (which is required for P2P iMessage payments), many of which eventually add their credit and debit cards into Wallet as well to enable the main NFC features of Apple Pay.
Apple is also continuously expanding the mobile wallet into new countries, and this week Apple Pay will launch in Belgium. Belgium-based newspaper De Tijd reports that several sources believe Apple Pay will launch in early November -- as soon as tomorrow, November 1 -- with major bank BNP Paribas Fortis supporting the launch. Next, Apple Pay is said to be "coming soon" to Saudi Arabia.
Related Roundup: Apple Pay
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October 31, 2018 at 10:17AM
Steve Bannon is pushing anti-immigrant policies at an upcoming tech conference
Trump strategist Steve Bannon has resurfaced in an unlikely place: the tech conference circuit. He is currently scheduled as the keynote speaker at the 15th International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology (or ACE2018), to be hosted at the University of Montana in December. The conference is co-located with the Fourth International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots, although Bannon does not have any apparent connection to that gathering.
The broader scientific community is already pushing back against the invitation. A number of associated academics have pulled out of the conference in the wake of the keynote, as reported by Motherboard. Springer, a leading scientific publisher, has declined to publish the technical proceedings, citing the low quantity of submissions.
Bannon has an often-overlooked background in the tech entertainment industry as the former head of a World of Warcraft gold farming company, but his keynote will focus on more familiar issues of immigration and nationalism. According to organizers, Bannon’s speech will address “how economic nationalism will help minorities (blacks, hispanics, etc.) to obtain more high tech jobs.” Bannon has particularly opposed H-1B visas for foreign workers, resulting in the suspension of expedited processing for the visas shortly after Trump came to office. Bannon has often cited minority unemployment as a justification for the policy in the past, most recently in a speech to a conference for black entrepreneurs in December.
In recent months, that message has become more focused on the tech industry. “We’re not going to solve the problems in this country economically until all classes and races get full access to high value-added technology jobs,” Bannon told GQ in February. “We shouldn’t allow the rest of the world to come and compete for them.”
Those views often extend beyond specific visa clauses and into a general hostility for foreign-born tech workers. “I have a big problem with foreign nationals coming into the country to be to be CEOs of companies,” Bannon said in the same interview. Google’s Sundar Pichai and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella were both born in India, although both men are US citizens. Bannon has also falsely claimed that “two-thirds or three-quarters” of Silicon Valley CEOs are from Asia.
Bannon was also a key figure responsible for the “Muslim ban” executive order in January 2017, which caused widespread protests at US airports as border agents sought to block any entrants from eight majority-Muslim countries. The ensuing chaos extended to tech companies, with Google abruptly ordering more than 180 employees to return to the US for fear of visa issues in the immediate aftermath. Hostility toward guest workers has also bubbled up into violence, as in the case of Garmin engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was killed in a hate crime in Kansas the month after the executive order.
Adrian Cheok, who organized the conference, says he expects Bannon’s stance on H-1B visas to be relevant to many of the attendees. “You’ve got a billion people in China and nearly a billion people in India. Obviously, the tech companies are going to be able to get highly experienced workers at lower cost, so there’s not as much incentive to train minority workers,” Cheok told The Verge. “I’m half-Malaysian-Chinese. I have nothing against Chinese people. But it’s simple mathematics.”
Still, that logic may not sit well with the conference’s sponsors, Samsung and Tencent, which are based in Korea and China, respectively. The Verge reached out to both companies for comment but did not hear back in time for publication. Bannon also did not respond to a request for comment.
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October 31, 2018 at 10:16AM
How to Play —and Win—Google's Halloween-Themed Multiplayer Game
Google’s Halloween-themed doodle went live Tuesday and it just so happens to be a competitive multiplayer game, of all things, called Trick-or-Treat: The Great Ghoul Duel.
We put some time into Trick-or-Treat: The Great Ghoul Duel and found the game to be quite fun, good as a casual distraction and competitive time-sink alike. The bright colors, good-natured competition, and charming atmosphere are reminiscent of Nintendo’s family-friendly paint-based shooter, Splatoon.
Players are split into two teams of cute, cartoon ghosts, and are tasked with collecting “spirit flames” scattered around the map and delivering them back to their team’s base. The controls are simple: Move around the screen with the arrow keys or with your mouse, and float over spirit flames to pick them up. As you collect spirit flames, they will form a tail behind you. The more you collect, the higher your awarded points will be when you return to base. However, your trail of spirit flames can be stolen by enemy players, and becomes easier to intercept as it grows longer.
Still, it’s best to try to deliver as many spirit flames at a time as possible. As you rack up points, you’ll unlock special bonus abilities, such as speed boosts or the ability to fly through walls unobstructed—as any good ghost should. These bonuses can help eke (or would it be eek in this case?) out a win in close matches.
We’ve found the best strategy to be waiting near the center of the map between both goal zones and swiping the opposition’s spirits at the last minute. This will put you in good proximity to both the enemy team’s base and your own so you can retreat if necessary. While it’s a good solid offensive strategy, if you’re less inclined to take on other players one-on-one, head towards zones where few players—even your own teammates—happen to be. If you’re lucky, you’ll be free to collect a large cache of spirit flames to turn in without much interference.
Matches in Trick-or-Treat: The Great Ghoul Duel are snappy, lasting just two minutes. This means you’ve gotta act fast—if waiting around to nab the other team’s spirit flames isn’t working, then head out there and collect as much as possible.
Players are recognized for their performance at the end of each match, showered with accolades such as “most spirit flames held at end of the match.” These are purely ceremonial and don’t confer any gameplay benefits, but there are some funny ones to collect, and it incentivizes playing repeated matches beyond just competition. The short time limit on each round makes it easy to get in one or two quick matches without wasting much time, though it’s also just as easy to hit “play” over and over again and rematch your foes for hours.
You can play Trick-or-Treat: The Great Ghoul Duel by clicking on the ghostly Google logo that is currently displayed on Google’s homepage.
via Lifehacker https://lifehacker.com
October 31, 2018 at 10:15AM
Start delegating your time-consuming chores with these great robot vacuums!
There are many robovacs on the market that claim to pack in all sorts of unique features but when you get right down to it, many of them are the same. These are some of the best, truly unique, truly feature-packed robot vacuums we've come across in 2018!
iRobot Roomba 690
You'd be hard-pressed to find a list of the best robot vacuums without the good ol' Roomba 690. The Roomba 690 is Wi-Fi connected, giving you the option to control your robovac from its companion smartphone app. It also works with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant, meaning you can issue a voice command to start it cleaning.
Just keeps going
iRobot Roomba 980
The Roomba 980 is a powerhouse of a robotic vacuum. This $800 machine can clean for up to 120 minutes at a time but will dock, recharge, and start cleaning again until the job is done. It uses Roomba's Smart Mapping technology to literally map out your house, creating the most efficient cleaning route and remembering where it's been and what it has left to clean.
ECOVACS Deebot N79S
The Deebot N79S runs for about 1.7 hours before it needs to recharge and includes a three-stage cleaning system (brush rollers, an edge brush, and vacuum suction). If you're looking for a budget-friendly robotic vacuum with voice control, the Ecovacs Deebot N79S is worth a look
Perfect for your pet
eufy RoboVac 11+
eufy's RoboVac 11+ is a budget-friendly robovac with features aimed at pet owners. This robovac doesn't have Wi-Fi connectivity, and you won't be able to control your robot while you're out of your home, but you can set it cleaning with the included remote control.
Goes where others can't
Neato Robotics D7
The Neato D7's D-shaped design gives it more room for an extra-large dust box, a wider cleaning brush, and a closer clean for corners and baseboards. Once the D7 has mapped out your home, you can use the companion app to create virtual boundaries that'll keep the vacuum from running over your tassel-laden carpet or bumping into your pet's water bowl.
All of these vacuums are great options for delegating the time-consuming chore of vacuuming your home, ranging from barebones but budget-friendly to the truly expensive and robust. For my money, I'd go with the Roomba 690. It's a reliable workhorse of a vacuum, and while it might not have all of the bells and whistles of its more expensive counterparts, it's a great choice for most homes.
via iMore - The #1 iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch blog https://www.imore.com/
October 31, 2018 at 10:03AM
Engadget giveaway: Stay protected and connected courtesy of Kaspersky Lab!
Kaspersky Lab, has been a familiar name in infosec for quite some time, uncovering malware and espionage tools all along the way. These finely honed skills are also available to help everyday people protect their data and manage their digital lives. The Kaspersky Security Cloud for both individuals and families can cover multiple devices with real-time security alerts, password assistance, parental controls and more.
This week, the company has put together a package of devices to keep you charged up, backed up and secure wherever you go. This includes a portable generator, power bank, 3TB portable hard drive, a Kaspersky Lab backpack and a one year subscription to Kaspersky Security Cloud Family (covering 20 devices). All you need to do is head to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to five chances at winning this protected and connected package.
via Engadget http://www.engadget.com
October 31, 2018 at 10:03AM
iPhone dual-SIM support won’t do much in the US this year
Apple released iOS 12.1 yesterday, adding support for a second SIM card to the iPhone XS and XR through the use of a digital eSIM. Apple may have technically added support for eSIM cards, but none of the major US carriers are ready for it. According to a report from MacRumors, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are all delaying their adoption of eSIM until later this year. (Sprint wasn’t included in Apple’s original announcement, but it told PCMag that it will support eSIM at some point.)
So if you’re a US cellular customer, you can’t actually use a second SIM with your phone unless you’re using one of the international carriers that do support eSIM.
According to MacRumors’ report, AT&T is delaying the implementation of eSIM for its customers due to issues with Visual Voicemail. Verizon had already announced its delay yesterday; the company is focusing on resolving issues where Verizon lines used as a secondary number in an iPhone dual-SIM setup would be stuck on 2G CDMA speeds before offering eSIM support. T-Mobile commented to PCMag that it’s also still working on its eSIM support, which will be available once its software is ready.
Apple’s website notes that all three of those carriers will offer eSIM support “later this year,” so hopefully these various technical issues will be resolved shortly. Since the iPhone can only offer dual-SIM support if one of those SIM cards is an eSIM, you can’t take advantage of the feature with US carriers until at least one of them gets things working.
via The Verge https://ift.tt/1jLudMg
October 31, 2018 at 10:02AM
Fortnite has been installed on ‘nearly half’ of all Nintendo Switch systems
Fortnite is almost as popular as Mario and Zelda amongst Switch owners, according to Nintendo. During the company’s most recent financial briefing, Nintendo revealed that Epic’s battle royale game has been installed on “nearly half” of all Switch systems. The company also notes that the game is popular globally, “not just in the US and Europe but also in Japan.”
While Nintendo didn’t reveal a specific number of downloads, the Switch has currently sold just over 22 million units to date. That means that around 10 million of those tablets have Fortnite installed, a significant jump from the 2 million downloads Epic saw during the game’s first 24 hours of availability after it debuted on the Switch in June.
To put that number in perspective, the top selling Switch game is Super Mario Odyssey, at 12.17 million units, while launch title The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has sold a touch over 10 million. Of course, Fortnite is free to download, so the comparisons aren’t exactly equal. Still, it shows just how popular Epic’s game is on Nintendo’s device — and the upcoming holiday season, combined with a Fortnite Switch bundle, should only see that popularity grow.
via The Verge https://ift.tt/1jLudMg
October 31, 2018 at 10:02AM
Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s trippy new take on Tetris will put you in the zone
Not long ago, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the legendary game designer behind musical classics Rez and Lumines, was on vacation with his family in Hawaii. When he looked out the window of his Airbnb, his view was dominated by a lush, green golf course. As he stared outside, he couldn’t help but see very specific shapes in the grass. “I found a tetromino in the golf course,” he says.
What Mizuguchi experienced is something known as “the Tetris effect,” a condition where people spend so much time doing a particular activity that it begins to invade their thoughts. It’s named after the classic puzzle game, where falling blocks have been to known to enter players’ dreams if they play too much. Tetris Effect also happens to be the name of Mizuguchi’s next game.
Tetris Effect launches on November 9th on the PS4, and it mashes the block-falling puzzle game with Mizuguchi’s trademark synthesis of zen-like gameplay and music. It’s also a game that the designer has been thinking about for some time. Mizuguchi says he grew up playing Tetris in Tokyo arcades, and when Sony first announced the PSP back in 2004, he thought it would be the perfect platform for a musical take on the game. Unfortunately, licensing issues meant he couldn’t make Tetris, so he went ahead and made his own block-falling game Lumines.
But he didn’t stop thinking of tetrominoes.
Over the years, Mizuguchi became close friends with Henk Rogers, founder of the Tetris Company. Eventually, Rogers became interested in letting the Lumines creator explore Tetris, sorting out a licensing deal that allowed development to begin. In a lot of ways, it’s a perfect fit. Tetris is known for creating a zen-like experience where players stop thinking and just react. Some call it being in “the zone.” It’s a feeling Mizuguchi has been chasing with his most iconic games; syncing up with the music in Lumines creates a similar state of mind, as does losing yourself to the abstract shooter Rez.
That feeling, or state, is already possible in Tetris, of course, so Mizuguchi’s goal was to enhance it. He likens it to architecture: the foundation was already in place, he just needed to add some flourishes. “Tetris has this really strong construction,” he explains. “If we can amplify that, and add something — the sound and the visual magic — in an interactive process, then you can feel more.”
Tetris Effect is a surprisingly technologically advanced game, considering it’s based on a title that’s more than three decades old and was especially popular on the original monochrome Game Boy. It supports 4K visuals with advanced particle effects that the developer says are pushing the limits of what the PS4 can handle. The result is a kaleidoscopic effect that can feel all-encompassing at times. You’re surrounded by trippy sounds and visuals while you try to match up blocks.
The game also supports PlayStation VR. Mizuguchi has already toyed with virtual reality with the “Area X” section of Rez Infinite, which created a beautiful, free-roaming space for players to explore. While VR hasn’t necessarily taken off like many expected it would, it’s a platform that works particularly well for the games the designer makes. “Putting on the VR helmet, usually, that’s a negative. But we wanted to turn that into a positive,” explains Tetris Effect producer Mark MacDonald. “You’re not staring at your phone. You’re not being bothered by all of the normal stuff. When you’re in VR, you’re blocking out the rest of the world. And as a game that’s designed around having you get out of your head, relax for a bit, and escape, that’s a huge plus.”
Tetris Effect is a game that can be hard to explain. Even after watching a trailer, you probably won’t fully grasp how clearing away columns of blocks can be an emotional journey. Instead, the developers are releasing a limited-time demo of the game to let players experience it as a teaser. The demo launches tomorrow, and you’ll be able to play it until November 5th before the game’s full release on the 9th.
Earlier this month, Mizuguchi and MacDonald were in Portland at the Classic Tetris World Championship, where a 16-year-old named Joseph Saelee put on a shocking performance, defeating seven-time champion Jonas Neubauer to take the title. A clip of his performance went viral. You can see from the determination on his face that Saelee is in that “zone,” acting instinctively as he racks up an impossibly high score. At one point, Neubauer can’t help but clap for the dominating show his competitor is putting on. The crowd went wild.
“It was what we hoped Tetris Effect would be,” says MacDonald of the event. “People were getting really emotional.”
“I almost cried,” adds Mizuguchi.
via The Verge https://ift.tt/1jLudMg
October 31, 2018 at 09:55AM
Island nation Vanuatu will use drones to transport vaccines
For island nations and countries without the infrastructure for reliable transportation, drones can do more than take photos or collect data: they can transport supplies to save lives. The Pacific island country of Vanuatu, for instance, has teamed up with UNICEF and two drone companies to deliver vaccines to rural areas. Vanuatu is composed of 83 islands spread over an area that covers 1,600 kilometers (~1,000 miles). To deliver vaccines to its more rural communities, health workers often have to walk for hours -- sometimes, it can even take them days by cars and/or boats. Drones could ensure that local health facilities have quick access to lifesaving supplies when needed.
Vanuatu chose Australian company Swoop Aero and German firm Wingcopter for the three-month pilot that will begin this December. The trial's first phase will take place from December 3rd to 7th and will focus on delivering supplies to one specific village. During the trial's second phase in January 2019, the companies' drones will drop supplies to the health facilities of three islands.
The government's goal is to increase vaccine coverage from 75-85 percent to 95 percent in the near future. UNICEF knows that the program isn't without risks, though. Andrew Parker, the chief of of UNICEF's field office, explained to The Guardian:
That's why the organization has been spending time getting residents acquainted with drones in hopes that they'll be comfortable seeing them flying over their villages.
While the trial will deploy and control drones from the islands, the machines could eventually be controlled from anywhere in the world using an iPad. In the future, health workers could send text to a headquarters, for instance, to ask for specific supplies. If the pilot turns out to be a success, the drones could even be used to transport blood, which is something drones are already doing in Rwanda.
via Engadget http://www.engadget.com
October 31, 2018 at 09:51AM
Amazon’s most capable 4K HDR streaming box is 50 percent off at HSN
Amazon regularly hosts deals on its own devices, though we’re seeing the best price yet on the Amazon Fire TV Cube at HSN. Normally $119.99, it’s being offered for a limited time at $59.99.
The Fire TV Cube is usually much more expensive than Amazon’s other 4K streaming options, the new Fire TV Stick 4K, which runs for $49.99. If you have the chance to grab the Fire TV Cube at a discount, you should probably jump at the opportunity. It can intelligently bridge the gap between your disparate, usually uncooperative home entertainment center devices, and can turn them off or on with your voice.
Based on the info provided by HSN, this Fire TV Cube doesn’t come with Amazon’s new Alexa remote that features volume or power control. Of course, you can always purchase it separately and still net some decent savings, or you can wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday, when Amazon will likely discount the version of the Cube that includes the improved remote. Also, CNET points out that shipping isn’t free, so if you’re a Prime member, this deal might not move the needle too much.
via The Verge https://ift.tt/1jLudMg
October 31, 2018 at 09:47AM