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UK set to ban stores from charging fees on Apple Pay transactions

The UK has a new law going into effect January 13 making it illegal for stores to add surcharges for customers paying with cards or contactless payment methods like Apple Pay, The Bristol Post reports. While most larger retailers weren’t charging fees for transactions, some smaller businesses and online stores were adding a penalty for those paying with certain payment methods. Now all in-store and online purchases made within the UK from UK businesses will be protected from added fees.

ConnectSense debuts new HomeKit-compatible outlet ahead of CES

After rolling out its original external Smart Outlet in 2015, ConnectSense is debuting a new HomeKit-compatible in-wall outlet, 9to5Mac reports. The hardwired version replaces a standard outlet and looks like the usual two-receptacle setup wil provide Wi-Fi controls that can detect when something is plugged in and how much power is being used. Each outlet can be controlled with the built-in touch controls, Siri voice activation or the HomeKit app. The price and release date haven’t been announced, but ConnectSense has set a Q3 launch target.

Apple Watch users reporting interference from ICU equipment causing problems

Apple Watch users working in intensive care units are reporting Apple Watch problems, 9to5Mac reports. One user with an Apple Watch Series 3 was experiencing reboots every 60-90 minutes while working in the ICU, and the issue continued even after the device was replaced, leading to speculation that ICU-related equipment is causing the problems. The problem has become so pervasive that there’s now a three-page support thread for the issue, but the only proposed solution so far is to run the device in airplane mode — which negates much of its usefulness. The issue hadn’t manifested itself in the Apple Watch before the Series 3, but Series 3 devices both with and without cellular service have been affected.

Apple buys app development company Buddybuild

Apple has confirmed its purchase of Buddybuild, an app development company that provides tools to streamline app creation, TechCrunch reports. No financial terms were disclosed, but the Canadian company’s platform will be rolled into Apple’s Xcode suite of iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS development tools. In the meantime, Buddybuild’s service will still be available for existing customers, but the company’s site isn’t accepting any new customers. Android development services are also expected to sunset in March, just as Apple discontinued TestFlight’s Android compatibility after acquiring that company.

Report: Some iOS games using microphone to track users’ TV habits

Games like Pool 3D, Beer Pong:Trickshot, and Real Bowling Strike:10 Pin found on the App Store could be tracking users’ TV viewing habits even when they’re not being played, The New York Times reports. The apps are all built using software from Alphonso, a start-up that specializes in collecting data on TV viewing for advertisers. Even when the apps aren’t in use, Alphonso’s software can potentially use a smartphone’s microphone to pick up on the TV shows and ads playing around the device, then use that information to target ads to the user, although the microphone is less likely to continue being used outside of the app on iOS devices due to Apple’s built-in limitations on background apps.

Report: GE bringing HomeKit support to some C-series smartbulbs early this year

After promising HomeKit support for its C-series of smartbulbs twice last year and missing both deadlines, GE is once again setting a target to roll out the feature to at least some of the smartbulbs in the first quarter of 2018, AppleInsider reports. GE made a similar announcement last May, with a C-Reach bridge intended to act as a bridge between the bulbs and the rest of a HomeKit-enabled network. Only the C-Sleep and white C-Life smartbulbs are currently expected to be part of the initial HomeKit roll out, both of which are currently available and already able to be controlled from iOS devices via GE’s own app.

Apple issues clarification to Apple Stores after some seeking $29 battery replacements were denied

After some Apple users with an iPhone 6 or later reported being refused a $29 battery replacement at Apple Stores, Apple has issued new guidance to its retail locations instructing employees to honor all replacement requests, iGeneration reports. Following outrage over Apple’s admission that the company had been slowing down older iPhones to conserve battery power without informing users, the company agreed to replace the batteries in iPhone 6, 6s, SE or 7 devices for $29 — a substantial discount over the usual price for out-of-warranty battery replacements.

Happy New Year from iLounge!

Happy New Year from all of us here at iLounge to all of you our faithful readers. We’ll be taking a brief hiatus as we prepare to ring in 2018, but will be back to our full publishing schedule on Tuesday, January 2, ready for a whole new year of Apple news, products and accessories. For a look back at 2017, check out our Best of the Year Awards and dive into our news and review archives if you want to go deeper. See you next year!

Apple files for ‘Connects to Apple Watch’ trademarks

Apple has applied for a pair of new trademarks for devices that connect to the Apple Watch, Patently Apple reports. The new trademarks are presumably intended to be used to help identify third-party health and fitness accessories that are designed and certified to work with the Apple Watch, which will very likely include both the recently unveiled GymKit equipment as well as third-party health monitoring accessories like AliveCor’s KardiaBand.

Apple fined $25K a day for withheld evidence in Qualcomm’s FTC case

A federal judge has ordered Apple to pay $25,000 a day for failing to turn over documents in a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit against Qualcomm, Bloomberg reports. The FTC has accused Qualcomm of freezing out competitors and forcing Apple to use its chips exclusively, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins imposed the daily fine on Apple for not surrendering its documents quickly enough. Apple claims it has already produced more than 2.6 million documents for the case, but the company has until December 29 to turn over the rest or it will begin facing even larger daily fines, according to a court filing. “We have already produced millions of documents for this case and are working hard to deliver the millions more which have been requested in an unprecedented time frame,” Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock said. “We plan to appeal this ruling.”

Face ID can’t be used for ‘Ask to Buy’ purchases on the App Store

Many users who bought the iPhone X this year got an unwelcome surprise at Christmas time, finding that they couldn’t use Face ID to authenticate “Ask to Buy” requests that require kids to ask for parental approval to make iOS purchases and downloads, Ars Technica reports. The “Ask to Buy” feature allows Touch ID to be used to approve the requests, but not Face ID, which has led to speculation that Apple knows there’s a risk of family members — especially children without fully formed features — being able to access another user’s iPhone X with Face ID and approve purchases without permission.

Apple facing class action suits over slowing down older iPhones

After last week’s admission from Apple that the company has been intentionally slowing down older iPhones without informing users, at least eight lawsuits have been filed in various federal courts seeking compensation and a reversal of the policy, CNBC reports. Apple has admitted that iOS updates since “last year” sent out to the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE and iPhone 7 included a feature “to smooth out” the power supply from batteries that are old, cold or contain a low charge. Apple claims without that software, an iPhone could just shut off suddenly because of another safety feature to keep internal components from getting fried when there are battery issues. One of the lawsuits — filed by attorney Jeffrey Fazio, who won users a $53 million settlement in 2013 over Apple’s handling of iPhone warranty claims — claims that, “Rather than curing the battery defect by providing a free battery replacement for all affected iPhones, Apple sought to mask the battery defect.”

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from iLounge

Happy holidays from iLounge! Our editorial staff is currently on Christmas break, and we will return Wednesday, Dec. 27, with new updates. In the meantime, check out our Best of the Year Awards for 2017 and our recent Reviews and Gear articles to help with all of your last-minute and post-holiday gift card shopping, and for anyone finding a new Apple device under the tree, our Tips archive should be of great help.

Apple softens position on template-based apps

Apple has revised its App Store guidelines on template-based apps, TechCrunch reports, providing much-needed clarity and a more balanced approach following a report earlier this month that many small businesses were being pushed off the App Store. Apple’s guidelines were intended to reduce the number of low-quality apps and “spam” apps that provide little functionality for users, but the hardline approach banning template apps outright ended up affecting a wider market of small businesses and non-profit organizations that relied on third-party app development houses to gain a legitimate presence on the App Store.

Chinese clothing brand sues Apple over App Store logo

Apple has been sued by Chinese clothing brand Kon over the similarity of that company’s logo and that of the App Store, Phone Radar reports. When Apple changed the old App Store logo — consiting of a pencil, a ruler and a paintbrush in the shape of an ‘A’ — to a simple format that’s just three overlapping lins in the shape of an ‘A,’ Kon claims the company violated Chinese copyright law since their company already has the rights to a very similar design. Kon wants an apology, compensation and for Apple to stop selling devices with the new App Store logo. The Beijing People’s Court has accepted the case and is expected to rule on it in the next couple of weeks. This isn’t the first time Apple has been sued over trademarks in China, and the company lost its exclusive rights to the “iPhone” trademark in the country in a case against Xintong Tiandi Technology, which was granted a trademark on “iPhone” in 2010 to be used in connection to a line of leather goods the company sells.

Shazam iOS app gets offline mode after Apple acquisition

Not long after Shazam was acquired by Apple, the iOS app has been updated to include an offline mode. Since it won’t have access to the information it needs to identify whatever it’s listening to, the offline mode of the app will simply save the sample and then produce a result once the device is back online. Sources claim Apple could have paid more than $400 million for the company, and it’s still unclear exactly how Apple plans to use the technology — and whether it will continue to make the service available for use on Apple Music competitors like Spotify.

Apple reportedly planning combined iPhone, iPad and Mac apps to create unified experience

Apple is looking to change the way developers design apps, aiming to create a single set of apps that work on iPhones, iPads and Macs, Bloomberg reports. While developers currently have to create different apps for iOS and macOS, sources familiar with the development claim Apple is ramping up a push to have developers create a single application that can worth with either a touchscreen or a mouse and trackpad while performing equally well across multiple devices. The move is aimed at freshening up the Mac App Store, which features fewer apps and versions that routinely lack the updates of their iOS counterparts.

Apple TV now listed on Amazon after Prime Video app release

After the release of Amazon’s Prime Video tvOS app, both the Apple TV 4K and fourth-generation Apple TV are now for sale on Amazon’s site. The price is the same as buying directly from Apple, but the devices had been banned from Amazon for more than two years because Apple refused to offer Amazon’s streaming content on tvOS. For some reason all of the Apple TV models listed on Amazon are showing as temporarily out of stock, so it’s unclear if shoppers will be able to land one from Amazon in time for Christmas.

Apple releases second developer betas for iOS 11.2.5, watchOS 4.2.2, and tvOS 11.2.5

Apple has released a second round of developer betas for iOS 11.2.5, watchOS 4.2.2, and tvOS 11.2.5. Most of the updates seem to revolve around bug fixes, but the iOS update includes a fix that allows developers to continue from a breakpoint in ARSesssion without breaking VIO, leaving visual objects placed in a real-world location visible.

Sylvania announces HomeKit-enabled Smart Filament Bulb

Sylvania has announced another new addition to its bridge-free HomeKit-enabled light bulb lineup in the form of the Smart+ Soft White A19 Filament Bulb ($32), the first bulb of its type to be HomeKit-enabled. The standard sized light bulb provides a retro look for those who prefer filament lighting to modern LED or CFL lights, and uses Bluetooth to connect directly to a HomeKit-enabled iOS device or Apple TV without the need for an intermediate bridge, reducing the complexity and cost of implementing HomeKit lighting.

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