Starbuckss mobile payment service is slightly outpacing Apples

People actually love getting their coffee more quickly. Starbucks, which has operated its own mobile payments service since 2011, is the market leader to its implementation of mobile payments users, beating out Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, according to a new reporter from eMarketer out this morning. However, Starbucks’ result over Apple Pay is only a small one- in 2017, it had 20.7 million U.S. users compared with Apple Pay’s 19.7 million. And that gap will remain small this year, with 23.4 million using Starbucks’ mobile payments compared with 22 million using Apple Pay.

The broad adoption of the Starbucks mobile pay service is not only due to speed and convenience that the barcode-based payment system offers – it’s also because payments are tied to loyalty, and the Starbucks app is where customers can monitor and manage their card balance and their” superstar rewards .” In addition, Starbucks has the benefit of being able to offer a consistent payments experience across its stores- there’s never a question in consumers’ minds as to whether they can use its mobile pays service. They know they can.

Other mobile proximity payment services don’t have the same advantage, as many retailers still don’t offer pay terminals that support the tap-to-pay services like Apple Pay and Google Pay.

According to eMarketer’s forecast, 23.4 million people ages 14 and older will use the Starbucks app to make a point-of-sale purchase at least once every six months, compared with 22 million who will use Apple Pay, 11.1 million who will use Google Pay, and 9.9 million who will use Samsung Pay.

Those numbers will increase across the board through 2022, but the rankings will remain the same- with Starbucks then seeing 29.8 million users to Apple Pay’s 27.5 million.

However, this forecast appears to be discounting the impact of the recent expansion of Apple Pay, which will allow users to send payments to friends through iMessage. When you receive this fund, it’s added to an Apple Pay Cash card in your iPhone’s Wallet, which can then be used in stores, in addition to in apps or online. This built-in payments service inside one of the largest messaging platforms could prompt more users to adopt Apple Pay, even if they hadn’t before.

Another note: it seems which services are more popular than others is also tied to how long they’ve been around.

Apple Pay launched before Samsung and Google Pay, and is now accepted at more than half of U.S. merchants. Google Pay isn’t as widely accepted, but is pre-installed on Android, which will help it grow. Samsung Pay, meanwhile, has the lowest adoption in terms of users, but is most accepted by merchants, tells eMarketer.

The rankings of the various pay services wasn’t the only notable find from eMarketer’s new report.

The analysts also found that this year, for the first time, more than 25 percent of U.S. smartphone users ages 14 and older, will have utilized a mobile pay service at the least once every six months. The number of pays users will increase by 14.5 percentage to reaching 55 million by the end of 2018, the firm estimates.

But over the next several years, these top four services will see their share of the mobile payments drop, even as their user numbers grow. That’s because they’ll face increased competition from other new payment apps, including those from merchants themselves.

“Retailers are increasingly making their own payment apps, which allow them to capture valuable data about their users. They can also build in rewards and perks to boost customer loyalty, ” eMarketer forecasting analyst Cindy Liu says.

eMarketer’s forecast( paywalled) is based on an analysis of third-party data, including Forrester, Juniper Research, and Crone Consulting’s data on U.S. mobile pays users.

Note: Updated after publication to clarify the data is focused on U.S. mobile users

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Apple started paying $15 billion European tax fine

It took a couple of years, but Apple has started to pay back illegal tax benefits to the Irish government. The company has paid $1.77 billion( EUR1. 5 billion) into an escrow account designed to hold the penalty. Apple has to pay $15 billion in total( EUR1 3 billion ).

In August 2016, the European Commission said that Apple benefited from illegal tax benefits in Ireland from 2003 to 2014. According to Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, Apple managed to lower its effective corporate tax rate thanks to a Double Irish structure.

By creating two different Irish subsidiaries and allocating profit to the right subsidiary, you can end up paying corporate tax on a fraction of your actual gain. Of course, Apple wasn’t the only tech company that optimized its taxation structure. And the company also claimed that everything was legal.

The Irish government tried to appeal the decision but government decisions remained intact. Ireland had to recover EUR1 3 billion starting on January 2017.

But nothing happened.

At some phase Vestager get mad again and referred the occurrence to the European Court of Justice. This time, Vestager wasn’t attacking Apple, but Ireland.

It looks like the case is closed now and Apple will slowly pay back the fine over period. Unfortunately, the fine is now more expensive than before because the U.S. dollar has been going down for a couple of years. Apple has hundreds of billions in cash, and a significant portion is overseas.

European governments lobbied to put an end to the Double Irish back in 2014. Apple moved some of its international cash to the tiny island of Jersey around the same day.

European governments are currently discussing a tax reform to taxation big tech companies based on actual revenue in each European country. This way, tech companies wouldn’t be able to report profit in just the different countries with a lower corporate tax rate. But it’s take longer than expected as some member countries are still dragging their feet.

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Apples self-driving car fleet grows to 55 in California

Apple now has 55 self-driving vehicles registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, compared to 27 earlier this year and just three last year. That entails Apple has the second largest fleet of self-driving cars in California, Mac Reports first pointed out.

Apple currently has more vehicles registered than Waymo, which has 51, in agreement with the California DMV. General Motor’s Cruise, however, results the pack with 104 vehicles. In total, the DMV has provided to 53 companies permits for self-driving vehicles that include security drivers, resulting in a total of 409 vehicles and 1,573 security drivers.

To be clear, the companies listed above only have permits to exam self-driving vehicles with safety drivers on board. As of now, the DMV has not issued any permits for complete driverless testing. In order to conduct driverless testing, companies must have previously tested the vehicles in controlled conditions.

The vehicles must also, among many other things, satisfy the definition of an SAE Level 4 or 5 vehicle. The DMV is currently reviewing two driverless testing permit applications, a DMV spokesperson told TechCrunch.

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Apple hit with lawsuit over the completely reinvented Macbook keyboard it rolled out back in 2015

A little more than three years ago, Apple announced a new MacBook with a “butterfly” keyboard that was 40 percentage thinner and ostensibly four times more stable than the previous “scissor” mechanism that MacBooks employed.

The promise was to more evenly distribute pressure on each key. Not everyone loved this “reinvention,” however, and now, Apple is facing a class action lawsuit over it.

According to a complaint lodged in the Northern District Court of California yesterday and first snooped by the folks over at AppleInsider, “thousands” of MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops produced in 2015 and 2016 experienced failing owing to dust or debris that rendered the machines useless. The grievance further alleges that Apple” continues to fail to disclose to customers that the MacBook is defective, including when consumers bring their failed laptops into the’ Genius Bar'( the in-store supporting desk) at Apple stores to request technical resources .”

It just not a lack of disclosures that’s problematic, the suit continues. Customers who guess the issue will be covered by their warranties are sometimes in for an unpleasant surprise. As stated in the filing:” Although every MacBook comes with a one-year written warranty, Apple routinely refuses to honor its warranty obligations. Instead of fixing the keyboard problems, Apple advises MacBook owners to try self-help remedies that it knows will not result in a permanent repair. When Apple does agree to attempt a warranty mend, the mend is only temporary–a purportedly repaired MacBook fails again from the same keyboard problems. For consumers outside of the warranty period, Apple denies warranty service, and directs consumers to engage in paid mends, which expense between $400 and $700. The keyboard defect in the MacBook is substantially certain to manifest .”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two users, ZIxuan Rao and Kyle Barbaro, and more broadly” on behalf of all others similarly situated .” It was brought by Girard Gibbs, a San Francisco-based law firm that has combated with Apple numerous times in the past, including filing a class-action suit centered on the iPod’s” decreasing battery capability .”( Apple appears to have settled that one .)

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment.

Interestingly, AppleInsider appears to have provided the fodder for this new lawsuit, or some of it at least. Last month, the outlet reported findings of its own separate investigation into the problem after hearing enough anecdotes to support a deep dive. It says that after collecting service data for the first year of release for the 2014, 2015, and 2016 MacBook Pros, it concluded that — omitting Touch Bar failings — the 2016 MacBook Pro keyboard has been failing its users twice as often in the first year of use as the 2014 or 2015 MacBook Pro models.

AppleInsider says it collected its data regarding” assorted Apple Genius Bars in the U.S .” that it has worked with for several years, as well as Apple-authorized third-party repair shops.

The investigation clearly resonated with MacBook owneds, because soon after, more than 17,000 people signed a petition demanding that Apple recall all MacBooks with butterfly switch keyboards.

That petition — which cites among others the highly regarded novelist and UI designer John Gruber, who has called the keyboard” one of the biggest design screwups in Apple history” — continues to gain steam, fueled perhaps by news of the lawsuit. As of this writing, approximately 18,000 people have their signature.

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Fantasmo is a decentralized map for robots and augmented reality

” Whether for AR or robots, anytime you have software interacting with the world, it needs a 3D model of countries around the world. We think that maps will appear a lot more like the decentralized internet than a version of Apple Maps or Google Maps .” That’s the idea behind new startup Fantasmo, according to co-founder Jameson Detweiler. Arriving out of stealth today, Fantasmo wants to let any developer contribute to and draw from a sub-centimeter accuracy map for robot navigation or anchoring AR experiences.

Fantasmo plans to launch a free Camera Positioning Standard( CPS) that developers can use to collect and coordinate 3D mapping data. The startup will charge for commercial access and premium features in its TerraOS, an open-sourced operating system that helps property owners keep their maps up to date and supply them for employ by robots, AR and other software equipped with Fantasmo’s SDK.

With$ two million in funding led by TenOneTen Ventures, Fantasmo is now accepting developers and property owners to its private beta.

Directly competing with Google’s own Visual Positioning System is an audacious move. Fantasmo is betting that private property owners won’t want big corporations snooping around to map their indoor spaces, and instead will want to retain control of this data so they can dictate how it’s used. With Fantasmo, they’ll be allowed to map spaces themselves and choose where robots can roam or if the next Pokemon GO can be played there.

” Only Apple, Google, and HERE Maps want this centralized.If this data sits on one of the big tech company’s servers, they could basically spy on anyone at any time ,” tells Detweiler. The prospect get scarier when you imagine everyone wearing camera-equipped AR glass in the future.” The AR cloud on a central server is Big Brother. It’s the end of privacy .”

Detweiler and his co-founder Dr. Ryan Measel first had the trigger for Fantasmo as best friend at Drexel University.” We need to build Pokemon in real life! That was the genesis of the company ,” says Detweiler. In the meantime he founded and sold LaunchRock, a 500 Startups company for creating” Coming Soon” sign-up pages for internet services.

After Measel finished his PhD, the pair started Fantasmo Studios to build augmented reality games like Trash Collectors From Space, which they took through the Techstars accelerator in 2015.” Trash Collectors was the first time we actually generated a spatial map and used that to sync multiple people’s precise stance up ,” tells Detweiler. But while building the infrastructure tools to power the game, they realise there was a much bigger opportunity to build the underlying maps for everyone’s games. Now the Santa Monica-based Fantasmo has 11 employees.

” It’s the internet of the real world ,” says Detweiler. Fantasmo now collects geo-referenced photos, scans them for identifying features like walls and objects, and imports them into its phase cloud model. Apps and robots equipped with the Fantasmo SDK can then pull in the spatial map for a specific location that’s more accurate than federally run GPS. That lets them peg AR objects to precise spots in your environment while building sure robots don’t run into things.

Fantasmo identifies objects in geo-referenced photos to build a 3D model of the world

” I think this is the most important piece of infrastructure to be built during the next decade ,” Detweiler declares. That potential attracted funding from TenOneTen, Freestyle Capital, LDV, NoName Ventures, Locke Mountain Ventures and some angel investors. But it’s also attracted challengers like Escher Reality , which was acquired by Pokemon GO parent company Niantic, and Ubiquity6, which has investment from top-tier VCs like Kleiner Perkins and First Round.

Google is the biggest threat, though. With its industry-leading traditional Google Maps, experience with indoor mapping through Tango, new VPS initiative and near limitless resources. Just yesterday, Google indicated off use an AR fox in Google Maps that you can follow for walking directions.

Fantasmo is hoping that Google’s size works against it. The startup ensure a path to victory through interoperability and privacy. The big corporations want to control and preference their own platforms’ access to maps while owning the data about private property. Fantasmo wants to empower property owners to oversee that data and choose what happens to it. Measel concludes,” The world would be worse off if GPS was proprietary. The next evolution shouldn’t be any different .”

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iOS will soon disable USB connection if left locked for a week

In a move seemingly specially designed to frustrate law enforcement, Apple is adding a security feature to iOS that altogether disables data being sent over USB if the device isn’t unlocked for a period of 7 days. This spoils many methods for exploiting that connection to coax datum out of the device without the user’s consent.

The feature, called USB Restricted Mode, was first noticed by Elcomsoft researchers seeming through the iOS 11.4 code. It incapacitates USB data( it will still charge) if the phone is left locked for a week, re-enabling it if it’s unlocked normally.

Normally when an iPhone is plugged into another device, whether it’s the owner’s computer or the other, there is an interchange of data where the phone and computer figure out if they recognise each other, if they’re authorized to send or back up data, and so on. This connect can be taken advantage of if the computer being connected to is attempting to break into the phone.

USB Restricted Mode is likely a response to the fact that iPhones seized by law enforcement or by malicious actors like thieves basically will sit and wait patiently for this kind of software exploit to be applied to them. If an officer collects a phone during a instance, but there are no known ways to force-out open the version of iOS it’s running , no problem: simply stick it in evidence and wait until some security contractor sells government departments a 0-day.

But what if, a week after that phone was taken, it shut down its own Lightning port’s ability to send or receive data or even recognize it’s connected to a computer? That would avoid the law from ever having the opportunity to attempt to break into the device unless they move with a quickness.

On the other hand, had its owner simply left the phone at home while on vacation, they could pick it up, put in their PIN and it’s like nothing ever happened. Like the very best safety measure, antagonists will curse its name while users may not even know it exists. Really, this is one of those security features that seems obvious in retrospect and I would not be surprised if other telephone makers copy it in short order.

Inquiry finds FBI sued Apple to unlock telephone without considering all options

Had this feature been in place a couple of years ago, it would have prevented that entire drama with the FBI. It milked its ongoing inability to access a target phone for months, reportedly concealing its own abilities all the while, likely to make it a political issue and manipulate lawmakers into obliging Apple to help. That kind of grandstanding doesn’t work so well on a seven-day deadline.

It’s not a perfect solution, of course, but there are no perfect answers in security. This may simply force all iPhone-related investigations to get high priority in courts, so that existing exploits can be applied legally within the seven-day limit( and, presumably, every few days thereafter ). All the same, it should be a powerful obstacle against the kind of eventual, potential access through undocumented exploits from third parties that seems to threaten even the latest models and OS versions.

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Apple ends production of AirPort base stations

It’s an objective of an epoch in Cupertino today. Apple just announced the end of production on its AirPort line of base stations, a listing that includes the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule.

In a statement provided to TechCrunch, the company noted that it will continue to sell its remaining stock, but once it’s done, it’s done.” We’re discontinuing the Apple AirPort base station products, ” says the spokesman. “They will be available through, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while furnishes last.”

The end of the line likely doesn’t come as too much of a amaze for foreigners. A plenty has changed in the home networking category since Apple arrived on the scene nearly 20 years back. A number of other customer electronics bigwigs have entered the fray, along with a number of notable startups.

Google, Linksys and Netgear have offered some pretty compelling offerings, along with newcomers like Plume and Eero. AirPort has clearly become less and a lower level of focus for the company over the past decade. While the home setting continues to play a vital role in Apple’s hardware play, the company’s focus has since shifted to multimedia and smart home offerings like Apple TV and the HomePod.

It seems likely that the company will continue investigating home networking avenues in the future, as it focuses more and more on its HomeKit strategy, but AirPort in its current form doesn’t appear to have been profitable enough to have warranted whatever remaining resources the company was continuing to expend.

Given its relatively newfound willingness to partner with hardware makers on the HomeKit front, however, third-party hardware to have been able to prove a compelling avenue in the future. Meantime, the company should be providing continued support for those who pick up any remaining stock. It’s also started offering some advice for those looking for an Apple-friendly home router.

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Looks like Google is changing Androids gun emoji into a water gun

Back in 2016, Apple swapped out the graphic used for its gun emoji, replacing the realistically drawn handgun with a bright green water gun.

Just a few days ago, Twitter followed suit.

And now, it seems, so will Google. The firearm emoji on Android will likely soon appear as a bright orange and yellow super soaker lookalike.

As first noted by Emojipedia, Google has just swapped the graphics in its open Noto Emoji library on GitHub. These are the Emoji that Android employs by default, so the same change will presumably start to roll out there before too long.

At this point, Google making this change seemed inevitable. It seemed likely to happen as soon Apple stimulated the leap; once others started following suit( Twitter earlier this week, and Samsung with the release of the Galaxy S9) it became a certainty.

It’s a matter of lucidity in communication. If a massive chunk of people( iOS users) can send a cartoony water toy in a message that another massive chunk of people( Android users) receive as a realistically depicted handgun, there’s room for all sorts of trouble and disarray. Apple wasn’t going to reverse course on this one — and now that others have constructed the change, Google would’ve been the odd one out.

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Apple is reportedly building an insane 16K VR headset

Apple has long been rumored to be working on a pair of augmented reality glasses, but a report today suggests that they’re looking to compete with Google, Microsoft and Facebook in the virtual reality space as well.

CNET reports that Apple has its eye set on the 2020 release of a wireless headset that combines AR and VR technologies. The report also dedicates specific details for the project internally referred to as T288. Namely, sources told CNET that the headset will have an 8K display for each eye and will connect wirelessly to a dedicated “box.”

Vrvana’s Totem headset

One of the general assumptions many in the market had been operating under was that Apple might “skip” entertainment-focused VR altogether in favor of approaching the lifestyle-focused AR technologies that set a digital layer between users and the real world.

I’m somewhat skeptical that they would blend these two initiatives as this report suggests; I find it more likely that the “AR” described to CNET is closer to the” mixed reality” technologies that Microsoft has implemented into its VR headsets, basically tech that can take in more environmental information to influence the in-headset VR experience. This is in line with what Vrvana was working on before Apple acquired them last year. For Apple to truly merge AR and VR at the resolutions detailed, they would likely require a fairly bulky design that I would be surprised to see them pursue with an AR product.

The technologies that allow for 8K images per eye would likely have to be microLEDs and, at that resolution, they’d be prohibitively expensive right now and virtually mind-bogglingly power-hungry. Even testing twin 8K displays currently would take multiple high-end GPUs tethered together. The report suggests that this would be a wireless and connect to an external system operating an Apple-designed chip. Streaming dual 8K feeds wirelessly would also undoubtedly pose a daunt challenge, though rendering technologies enabled by eye-tracking could reduce the streaming load considerably.

Magic Leap’s lightwear

Two years is far away, so perhaps Apple is banking on their own ability to minimize expenses on the display-front here. Bloomberg recently reported that the Cupertino company has opened a secret manufacturing facility for the showing form, which have a keen employ lawsuit in head-mounted displays where tight pixel densities matter more due to the lenses as well as the physical distance from your eyes.

The report states that this device is slated for 2020, though things could of course change in the meantime.

VR seems to be continuing to improve at a steady pace, and while the hype powering its initial boon has largely died off, the tech giants that can afford to nurture the industry have continued to do so. Facebook’s efforts with Oculus have become quite polished in some regards( though there are still plenty of limitations to speak of ), and it appears that Apple is recognizing that there’s too much to lose out on if things take off.

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Apple has a new iPhone recycling robot named Daisy

Meet Daisy. Apple’s latest recycling robot was revealed , not coincidentally, a few days before Earth Day, in a press proclamation summing up the company’s recent environmental accomplishments. The new’ bot is an update to Liam, the recycling robot the company announced back in 2016.

Daisy was developed in-house by Apple technologists, utilizing some of Liam’s portions — a recycling of sorts. The industrial robot is able to disassemble nine different versions of the iPhone, sorting all of their reusable components in the process. In all, Daisy is capable of taking apart a full 200 iPhones in a devoted hour, proving a solid alternative to traditional methods that can destroy valuable components in the process. Any connect to HAL 3000, however, is surely coincidental.

Along with Daisy, Apple’s also using the occasion to announce GiveBack, an addition to its recycling program. For every device clients turn in or trade from now until April 30, the company will make a donation to Conservation International, a Virginia-based environmental nonprofit. Eligible devices will still qualify for an in-store or gift card credit.

For good measure, there’s also a new Apple Watch challenge coming after Earth Day, encouraging people to get outside on Sunday and enjoy countries around the world. The proclamations go a week after Apple announced that it had achieved its goal of powering its global facilities with 100 percentage renewable energy.

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