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Apple Pay launch in Japan encounters major problems

Apple Pay has launched in Japan, but the mobile payment method’s integration with JR East’s Suica transit card has hit a major snag, as acknowledged by Apple’s website. Apple said that problems cropped up around 9:20 a.m. local time, when users started having difficulty adding Suica cards to Apple Pay or were unable to add money to their cards. Users also had problems accessing JR East’s “Mobile Suica” system to buy express tickets, which local publication NHK attributed to an increase in traffic around 7:30 a.m. after people started realizing Apple Pay wasn’t working.

Apple releases iOS 10.1, tvOS 10.0.1, watchOS 3.1

Apple has released iOS 10.1 to the public today. The update contains the beta version of Portrait camera mode for iPhone 7 Plus users, transit support in Maps, new wheelchair tracking workout summary information in Activity for Apple Watch users, improved Bluetooth connectivity, and a series of bug fixes and other minor improvements. Apple has also released tvOS 10.0.1 which features bug fixes, and watchOS 3.1, which includes bug fixes and — like iOS 10.1 — now gives users the option to replay the bubble and full screen effects in Messages.

New details about Apple Watch Nike+ exclusives, availability

The Apple Watch Nike+ model will be available at Macy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and ‘select Nike retail stores’ starting October 28, according to the company’s website. The watch will cost the same $369 for 38mm and $399 for 42mm as other Apple Watch Series 2 models, but is only available in space gray or silver. The watches come with a perforated sport band that’s exclusive to the Nike+ model and isn’t available for purchase separately. The watch also features custom Nike watch faces and complications for launching the Nike+ Run Club app which allow runners to connect with friends, set reminders and track progress. The watch will be available in 41 countries on October 28, expanding to 7 more throughout the weekend.

Apple’s website hints at possible Apple Pay launch in Germany

A few hints from Apple’s website unearthed by a Reddit user seem to suggest Apple Pay may be launching in Germany soon. In the updated Apple Pay coverage map released on October 10, Germany was shown in blue alongside the U.K., France, and Switzerland, the only European countries that already have Apple Pay up and running. The map has since been updated, but it sparked a search on Apple’s German website that turned up a link to an Apple Pay landing page. The page is currently inactive, leading responders on the Reddit thread to speculate that a problem with Apple’s CMS is allowing links that aren’t live yet to show up in the website’s search.

ConnectSense Smart Outlet adds power monitoring, reduces price

ConnectSense has announced an update to its Smart Outlet and app, adding detailed power monitoring capabilities, while also dropping the price to $60 — making it now one of the most competitively-priced HomeKit outlet solutions available. The new detailed power monitoring feature, available via a free firmware update, will allow users to individually monitor the energy usage of devices plugged into each of the Smart Outlets, including average energy usage and how long the outlet has been turned on. Users can also now configure rules in the ConnectSense based on energy consumption, such as turning off a connected appliance when it’s using too much energy, or if it has been left on for an certain period of time.

Automatic releases new Automatic Lite version of car monitoring accessory

Automatic Labs has released Automatic Lite ($80), a new lower-cost version of its Automatic Pro vehicle monitoring and diagnostic solution; it’s much like the company’s original Automatic Link, which retailed for $100. Automatic Lite includes the same trip logging, engine diagnostics, and mileage and fuel tracking features as the more expensive Pro model, while eliminating the 3G data plan in favor of direct Bluetooth syncing with an iOS device. Due to the lack of 3G connectivity, Automatic Lite also omits crash alerts, parking tracking, live vehicle tracking, and third-party app integrations.

Apple releases fourth tvOS 10.0.1 beta

Apple has released a fourth developer beta of tvOS 10.0.1, following a new iOS 10.1 beta earlier this week. The release notes, along with the minor version number, indicate that this beta is focused primarily on bug fixes and performance improvements to tvOS 10. Registered developers can download the tvOS beta directly from Apple’s developer site or install a configuration profile to update to the latest beta version via the built-in Software Update mechanism in tvOS 10.

iOS dev finds unimplemented one-handed keyboard in iOS code

iOS Developer Steve Troughton-Smith has tweeted about a new discovery of a one-handed keyboard mode hidden within the iOS code. Troughton-Smith notes that the code has been in place going as far back as iOS 8, although Apple has chosen for whatever reason to not actually implement it yet. It appears the left/right one-handed keyboard mode is designed to be activated by swiping from either edge of the screen, compressing the spacing of the normal keyboard keys to make them easier to reach with a single thumb, while also bringing up cut, copy, paste, and undo buttons to the right or the left side. The presence of the feature as far back as the iOS 8 code base suggests that it was implemented for testing purposes with the original larger-screened iPhone models released that year, although Apple chose to never actually activate the feature. Troughton-Smith also posted a video to Twitter demonstrating the feature in the iOS Simulator; it would theoretically be possible to hack a jailbroken iPhone to enable the feature as well. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple sends out press invites for ‘Hello Again’ Oct. 27 Mac event

Apple has sent out press invites for a special event to be held next Thursday, Oct. 27. The event will be held at the company’s Cupertino campus at 10 a.m. Pacific time, and is expected to be primarily focused on unveiling new Mac hardware — the title of “hello again” on the invite is seemingly a reference back to the original Mac’s 1984 introduction. As the event will likely be focused on new Macs, we don’t expect that iOS hardware, software, or accessories will be featured to any significant extent, although it remains possible that Apple may mention a release date or further details on iOS 10.1, or give a release date for its upcoming AirPods, which are expected to be available by the end of this month. [via The Verge]

Apple releases fifth beta of iOS 10.1 to developers

Apple has released the fifth beta of iOS 10.1 to registered developers today, featuring minor bug tweaks to the new operating system. We anticipate that the official public release of iOS 10.1 — which contains the Portrait camera mode for iPhone 7 Plus users — is not far off, based on this release and rumors of an Oct. 25 launch date from this morning.

Apple partners with builders to include HomeKit-enabled devices in new homes

As homebuilders are starting to include more smarthome devices in their new houses, Apple is looking to cash in by being the company providing the go-to devices for controlling them, Bloomberg reports. While homeowners may balk at paying $130 for two Phillips Hue lightbulbs or $229 for a Schlage smart deadbolt, Los Angeles-based KB Home is betting that new home buyers will be willing to pay a little extra for features like automated thermostats, lights, locks and security systems. Their basic package of HomeKit compatible devices costs $2,000, but that’s just the starting point. A $1.2 million home showcased by Lennar Corp. contains $30,000 worth of bells and whistles, and Apple is also working with other builders, like Brookfield Residential Properties Inc., who are declining to say when their smarthomes are going on sale or how much they’ll cost.

Report about Apple Pay in Japan hints at Oct. 25 release for iOS 10.1

Local media in Japan is reporting an Oct. 25 launch date for Apple Pay in the country, leading to speculation that iOS 10.1 will also launch that day, according to the Ata Distance blog. Apple’s partners Docomo iD and JR East are both taking their systems down for “unscheduled system maintenance” on the morning of October 25, leading to the conclusion that the necessary software update will also come out that day. All iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Apple Watch 2 models sold in Japan already have the hardware to support the country’s FeliCa Type-F NFC mobile payment systems, but will require iOS 10.1 updates to make use of them. [via Apple Insider]

Apple Pay adds 20+ new U.S. banks and credit unions, MBNA Canada coming ‘mid-2017’

Apple has added support for more than 20 new banks and credit unions to Apple Pay, including BankLiberty, Franklin Savings Bank, Michigan Educational Credit Union, and more — a full list can be found on Apple’s site (via 9to5Mac). Meanwhile, iPhone in Canada reports that Apple Pay is not expected to launch for MBNA Canada — which represents a total of 64 themed MasterCards — until mid-2017, according to internal documents distributed to MBNA Canada employees, although the company’s social media teams are said to be ready to announce details soon via Twitter.

Misfit launches Phase smartwatch

Misfit’s new Phase smartwatch combines the look of a traditional watch with the functionality found in other smartwatches. Once the Phase is synced with an iPhone using the watch’s mobile app, the device uses just the two watch hands, a colored light and vibrations to deliver alerts, and shows users their progress toward fitness goals. Toggling to Activity Mode allows users to tag specific activities (like running and yoga) and check in on their daily progress toward pre-assigned goals for step count, sleep duration, and calories burned. The light on the face marks which measurement is being reported and the hands move in unison to show how far the user is toward that particular goal, with the full watch face representing 100 percent.

ecobee releases ecobee3 lite HomeKit-enabled Smart Thermostat

Smart thermostat maker ecobee has released a more aggressively priced version of its top-rated ecobee3. Priced at $169, the new ecobee3 lite provides almost all of the same smart thermostat features as its more expensive sibling, but omits support for the remote wireless sensors that provide home and away motion sensing and temperature monitoring in other rooms. The ecobee3 lite still supports Apple HomeKit, Smart Recovery, iOS app support, scheduling, and a web-based portal, making it a more cost-effective option for users in smaller homes or apartments that don’t require the full range of motion and temperature monitoring features.

CBS developing Candy Crush game show

CBS has decided to turn the mobile game Candy Crush Saga into a game show, Deadline reports. CBS hasn’t released an initial air date or announced a host, but the show has been in development for two years and will feature players attempting to match colorful candies in groups of three or more while defeating obstacles to make it through more than 2,000 levels. Developed by the same people who brought the obstacle-course hit Wipeout to ABC, Candy Crush will feature “teams of two people [using] their wits and physical agility to compete on enormous, interactive game boards featuring next generation technology to conquer Candy Crush and be crowned the champions.” While Candy Crush Saga isn’t as popular as was it years ago, the game can still be found on Apple’s Top Charts, under free games.

Apple releases fourth beta of iOS 10.1 to developers

Apple has released the fourth beta of iOS 10.1 to registered developers today, hours after releasing the iOS 10.0.3 update to iPhone 7/7 Plus users. We anticipate that the official public release of iOS 10.1 — which contains the much-ballyhooed Portrait camera mode for iPhone 7 Plus users — is not far off.

Apple releases iOS 10.0.3 to fix cellular connectivity bug in iPhone 7/7 Plus

Apple has released iOS 10.0.3 for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The update for the new iPhones fixes a bug which could cause a temporary loss of cellular connectivity. The update is currently available as an over-the-air download. It shouldn’t be much longer until Apple releases a bigger update with iOS 10.1 — last week, the company released its third beta for that upcoming update.

Apple moving $9 billion in assets to Ireland

Despite a bitter legal fight over its tax agreements, Apple is moving even more assets to Ireland, The Business Post reports. The company has relocated its international iTunes business to a data center in Hollyhill, Ireland from its current location in Luxembourg. The Hollyhill facility will now manage “iTunes business and content stores for more than 100 countries,” amounting to an estimated $9 billion in assets. Apple has been clear that it remains committed to doing business in Ireland even as it fights a ruling from the European Union that ordered the company to pay Ireland $14.5 billion in back taxes. [via Apple Insider]

Apple Watch 2, iPhone 7 to launch in more countries this month

Through its regional websites, Apple announced it is expanding the rollout of the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch 2, bringing its devices to several new countries this month. Israel and Egypt will get the iPhone 7 on Oct. 20, and the company will make the phone available in Korea, Columbia, Thailand, Madagascar, Morocco, Uganda and Maurice the following day. Korea and Columbia will also be getting the Apple Watch 2 on Oct. 21. Cameroon, Botswana, Kenya and Mozambique will get the iPhone 7 the following week on Oct. 28. [via 9to5Mac]

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