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Test your hand to eye coordination with Space Ball Evolution Free


37.676.651 Readers per month

CrackBerry is in no way Affiliated with BlackBerry. We take pride in our unbiased content, however do occasionally receive free products from vendors that we review or discuss. For more info click here.

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New iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3 incorporate NFC chip for Apple Pay in apps, but not in-store tap-to-pay transactions


Friday, October 24, 2014, 05:44 pm PT (08:44 pm ET)

Apple’s newest iPads feature one of the same chips used by iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to handle tap-to-pay NFC transactions, but the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 only support Apple Pay within apps, sparing users the embarrassment of carrying around a gigantic alternative to their credit card.

After identified a NFC chip (the NXP 65V10 NFC Controller) in Apple’s new iPad Air 2 as being the same as one found in iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (highlighted in green, below), a variety of news sources speculated that this would enable a future software upgrade to NFC proximity Apple Pay transactions.

However, the new iPads lack both supporting logic chips and the antenna required to perform wireless transactions over NFC. This will also prevent merchants from being able to use the new iPad as an NFC “Point of Sale” device to accept Apple Pay transactions.

Fortunately, however, Apple Pay can also be transacted via merchant apps, obviating any need for stores to actually replace all of their existing POS devices with new iPad models in order to begin accepting Apple Pay purchases.

Apple’s own retail store app, along with apps ranging from OpenTable and Groupon to Lyft and Uber to Instacart and Hotel Tonight to Panera Bread and Target (and expanding to AirBnb, Disney, Starbucks, Levis, Sephora, Eventbrite Ticketmaster, StubHub and the Major League Baseball app by the end of 2014) have already initiated Apple Pay within their apps, enabling new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 users to make secure purchases via Touch ID just as iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus can.

Because the latest iPads with Touch ID can support Apple Pay in apps, but not at retail stores, they do not have a Passbook app. Instead, they handle all Apple Pay credit card configuration entirely within Settings under “Passbook Apple Pay” (shown below).

Apple Pay requires an NFC Secure Element

This type of in-app Apple Pay requires an NFC “Secure Element,” a special storage block typically built into an NFC controller chip, which securely stores the user’s payment information. This chip interfaces directly with the separate Secure Enclave processing core in Apple’s A7, A8 or A8X Application Processors to authenticate the user via a fingerprint scan and then unlock the user’s payment credentials in the form of a secure token.

This payment mechanism erects firewalls that strictly prevent any apps on the system from being able to sneak any access to either the user’s fingerprint-related data or their credit card credentials, even if the user were tricked into installing a malicious app designed expressly to steal their information. In-app Apple Pay requires an NFC “Secure Element,” a special storage block typically built into an NFC controller chip, which securely stores the user’s payment information

The only way Apple Pay can access the account token from the Secure Element is by verifying a fingerprint with Touch ID. And the most cost effective and secure way to create such a secure environment is to incorporate a Secure Element on a standard chip designed to support NFC payments.

Last year’s iPhone 5s has Touch ID and an A7 with the Secure Enclave to secure their fingerprint data (the chip doesn’t actually store a fingerprint image, but rather a number derived from the user’s fingerprint scan that can be used to verify subsequent scans as coming from the same user and nobody else).

However, the first generation Touch ID phone lacks an NFC chip supplying a Secure Element, so iPhone 5s can’t make in app Apple Pay purchases (or of course, NFC in store purchases) unless it is paired with the upcoming Apple Watch, which will incorporate its own NFC wireless radio.

Because Apple Watch verifies the user via a PIN code entry when it is put on, Apple Pay on Apple Watch won’t require Touch ID, meaning it will work with both iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. Once Apple Watch is removed, it erases its PIN and requires the user to again authenticate before making new Apple Pay transactions, a design intended to prevent theft.

All Apple devices capable of running iOS 7 or iOS 8 also support Activation Lock, which prevents thieves from simply erasing and factory resetting stolen iOS devices for easy resale once a passcode is set up.

Apple’s Touch ID additionally simplifies the use of passcodes, making it effortless to unlock an iPhone or iPad secured with Activation Lock without constantly retyping one’s passcode.

Outside of Apple: activation lock NFC on Android and Windows Phone

Smartphones from Google and Microsoft are legally mandated to supply a similar anti-theft mechanism by the middle of next year under a new law passed in California. Complying with this law will be complicated by the fact that most non-Apple phones lack a fingerprint sensor for easily unlocking the device, and those that do (like Samsung’s Galaxy S5) reportedly do not work well and are not similarly secured by a mechanism like Apple’s Secure Enclave.

Additionally, while early Android phones supporting NFC payments via Google Wallet incorporated an NFC Secure Element, Google shifted its proximity payment strategy after gaining very little traction for Wallet (even as it financed and built out much of the existing NFC infrastructure needed to support Apple Pay by iPhone 6 models and Apple Watch) to instead use “Host Card Emulation,” which is verified in the cloud rather than against data stored locally in a Secure Element.

This enabled new Android devices to ship without a Secure Element (such as the 2013 Nexus 7) and yet still make NFC purchases.

However, because “HCE” Google Wallet transactions must verify transactions via the cloud, payments only work when the user has data service. In-store Apple Pay does not require data service to function, so it will work for merchants in underground malls or—perhaps in the future—to buy drinks on airplanes, even without logging into Gogo inflight Internet.

This summer, Google Wallet was identified as a built-in Android app susceptible to the Fake ID flaw, which allows any Android app to pretend to be another app, and thereby gain all of its privileges.

Any app pretending to be Google Wallet can gain full access to the user’s NFC payment credentials. This sort of NFC exploit is not possible on iOS, firstly because Apple’s mobile OS actually verifies app’s security certificates, and secondly because there are no apps on iOS that can read the Secure Element without first authenticating through the Secure Enclave built into in Apple’s custom Application Processors.

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The Groups App I Wish Facebook Would Build


About once a week, if not more, I find myself typing these words or something similar on Facebook: “I just PM’d you, check your ‘Other’ inbox.” Or, “sorry, I’m on mobile, I can’t get to the ‘Other’ inbox right now.” Or sometimes, just “bump.”

If any of these phrases sound familiar, you’re probably also a member of several Facebook Groups like I am.

Over the years, Facebook’s Groups product has evolved beyond being a private place for a few friends to chat outside of a traditional Facebook post and comment thread scenario. Instead, today’s Facebook Groups section is a busy, semi-public area on Facebook’s network which resembles a Facebook-flavored Craigslist competitor…or a Meetup competitor…or a Nextdoor competitor, depending on your use case. Here, users are busy selling on virtual yard sales, networking around topics of interest (health, parenting, politics, hobbies, etc.), helping each other find work, chatting with neighbors, and more.

According to data shared on Facebook’s homepage, the Groups product, launched back in fall 2004, has over 500 million users. Third-party sources claim there are hundreds of millions of Groups on Facebook, and these communities continue to grow.

Being involved with Facebook Groups sometimes feels like you’re on a whole different social network. In Groups, Facebook users are establishing connections with people outside of their personal “social graph” of friends, family and colleagues, and are more broadly connecting with the community at large, whether that’s others in their own neighborhood, with people city-wide, or with those who share your same beliefs or interests.

Having largely ignored Facebook Groups for some time outside of a few one-off use cases, I became a more active participant this year after some gentle prompting from Facebook in the sidebar of my neighborhood’s group. The “Suggested Groups” module that Facebook rolled out last fall on mobile recommended other groups I might like – and noted which of my friends had already joined. I finally took note of this section and started joining more and more groups.

As of today, I regularly follow over half a dozen local “yard sale”-type groups where members are offering up everything from secondhand clothes and kids’ toys to furniture, appliances and even vehicles. I’m a member of a few special interest groups focused around who am I outside of work (e.g., a parent, a bargain hunter, etc.) as well as subjects I like to track, if not actively discuss.

To stay on top of the most recent posts in all these groups, you have to click on each of them individually from the Facebook sidebar navigation on either web or mobile, and then scroll through the new activity, which is like scrolling through a News Feed.

The problem with participating in Facebook Groups today is that it can be time-consuming and frustrating to do so. After you join, say, around a half-dozen groups or more, you stop being able to keep up. It would be like trying to track all of Craigslist by clicking around each section daily. There’s so much happening, that you become reliant on Facebook’s News Feed algorithm to surface the posts from your favorite groups for you.

Unfortunately, that’s a bad idea. By the time Facebook has determined a post in a group to be buzzy enough to interest you, it’s often information that arrives too late. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve kicked myself for missing a great deal on a piece of furniture or other item that was quickly snatched up on a local yard sale group, or saw a post about a local community event pop up after the event had already wrapped.

In many cases, Group activity is something you want to more actively watch – especially if it’s related to something timely – like information about new job openings, good deals or sales, a neighbor’s report of criminal activity a few doors down, a big wreck that’s causing road closures or re-routing traffic, and more.

But the interface on Facebook today isn’t ideal for tracking your groups easily, whether you’re on either web or mobile.

The Perfect Groups App

A dedicated mobile app for Groups would be better. If I could build one for myself, I’d make it so that I could organize groups into categories – that way I could pop into one section to track my favorite local yard sales separately from the mommy and kiddie groups, or the bargain hunter groups, or those related to technology news and startups. (Yes, I’m in a few of those too!)

I’d also like to configure smarter, and more personalized notifications for my groups. Sometimes, after I view a post, I want the option mark it as read, and not be notified about additional comments. Other times, I’d like to track the post’s changes and comments. This should not a group-wide setting, but something I could enable on a per-item basis.

In addition, if a post in a group about what’s happening around town contained a specific date and time, it would be great if Facebook’s clever algorithms could turn that into a reminder or event I could add to my Facebook calendar.

And why can’t the search feature for groups be turned into an alerts function? If I happened to be looking for a great, but kind of cheap new coffee table (ahem), it would be super useful to get a push notification when the keywords “coffee table” were mentioned on the groups I track.

And most importantly – and I can’t stress this enough –  a dedicated Groups app should have a functional private messaging inbox. Or even better, Facebook should stop putting communications in between Groups members into the “Other” inbox.

In case you’re unaware, the “Other” inbox was created to help Facebook users cut down on spam and other unsolicited messages they’d receive from people who are not their Facebook friends. It arose from Facebook’s failed attempt to turn itself into an email platform. When you launch the Messages section on, the “Other” inbox appears grayed out – an easy-to-miss home for all the unimportant messages you’ll probably just ignore forever.

But when you’re communicating with Groups members – like to share a home address related to an item on a yard sale, for example, or to arrange a spot to meetup, or to share personal information like an email address or phone number, or for a variety of other reasons that regularly come up – those messages by default go into this “Other” inbox.

Why? Because the people on the receiving end of those communications are not typically a Facebook friend.

The issue with this process is that Facebook’s mobile Messenger app – the one it’s now forcing users to download – doesn’t support the “Other” inbox. In fact, there’s really no good way to access the Other inbox from your mobile phone, outside of a janky workaround for pulling it up on the web. It’s beyond annoying.

(Note that the “Groups” section in the Messenger app today is not about Facebook Groups – it’s for sending out a message to a “group” of your Facebook friends. In other words, same name, entirely different function.)

So to sum up: the thriving, semi-public Facebook network that is Facebook Groups is difficult to track on web and mobile due to all the clicking around you have to do, prevents private communications between members from being easily accessed, and offers no help for those who want to participate in a larger number of groups with smart tools for group organization and personalized notifications.

Please Build Something Useful

And yet, instead of rolling out a product that would solve a problem with a significantly sized, heavily trafficked portion of Facebook’s site, the company seems to be more obsessed with not missing out on whatever the next new social networking craze may be. When it can’t set fire to billions to acquire its way further in to mobile messaging, it clones popular apps which often then flop even when they’re well-designed. See for example, Poke, (a would-be Snapchat); Slingshot or Bolt (a Taptalk clone); Paper (similar to Flipboard); or now, Rooms (inspired by Secret and Slack). And Facebook is currently trying to clone a private photo-sharing app that looks like Cluster, we’ve heard.

Meanwhile, Facebook has proven that when it pushes a dedicated product related to a particular feature or function on its existing site – as it did with the forced download of the Messenger app, which is still in the top of the charts on the App Store – it can establish a solid mobile foothold with an app that is not Facebook proper.

Word was that Facebook would break out other portions of its website into dedicated apps like it did with Messenger, in order to launch standalone experiences for Groups and Events. This could still be happening. But where are these already? Why are we getting a bunch of me-too apps instead of something hundreds of millions of Facebook’s users already use, and would likely be thrilled to see improved on mobile?

That’s not to say that these newcomer Facebook social apps won’t eventually hit it big, or aren’t thoughtfully envisioned or well-designed – they are. But they aren’t currently solving the ongoing challenges a large number of Facebook users encounter today – they’re trying to create new and different ways for people to network.

But Facebook itself is already facilitating new kinds of social networks through Events and Groups and communities of Page followers.

If only there were tools that made these features easier to access and use on our mobile phones.

Images: Bryce Durbin/Shutterstock photo

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AT&T Breaks The Apple SIM’s Best Feature, Locks It Down If You Pick AT&T


The idea behind the Apple SIM that comes in the new iPads is most excellent: one SIM, many carriers. Whenever you want to switch carriers, you’d just pop into settings and pick the new one. If you want to bring your own SIM, you can — but otherwise, everything happens through software. No swapping SIMs, no ordering new SIMs, no hassle.

Alas, someone had to go and throw a wrench in the gears. ATT (who else?) is mucking up the whole thing.

For now, the Apple SIM is compatible with four carriers: T-Mobile, Sprint, and ATT in the US, and EE in the UK. (Note the lack of VZW support in the states; seems they’re not very into this idea just yet.)

With three of those four compatible carriers, you’re free to stretch your legs, hop between the offerings, and find the carrier that fits your needs.

Pick ATT, however, and you get a nasty little prompt: “Once activation is complete,” it reads, “this Apple SIM can only be used with ATT. You will need a new Apple SIM if you change carriers in the future.”

As MacRumors notes, an Apple support page notes this ugly little tidbit:

Using Apple SIM, you can choose from different cellular carriers and their various programs. The data plans vary by carrier. For instance, in the United States, you can choose a domestic plan from either Sprint or T-Mobile and also pick an alternate plan from the other carrier as needed. When you choose ATT on iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, ATT dedicates Apple SIM to their network only.

I’ve received confirmation from ATT that they’re doing this, though I’ve requested further clarification as to why they’re doing it. No response there yet.

Now, this only really applies if you’re buying a new iPad with an Apple SIM installed out of the box — which, confusingly, isn’t all new iPads. It depends on where you purchase the device. Buy it through Apple, it’ll have an Apple SIM. Buy it through an independent reseller, Apple SIM. Buy it directly through Sprint, for example, and it’ll come with a Sprint-only SIM.

But when you get an Apple SIM, you expect it to work a certain way — and for it to continue working that way. ATT — or anyone else, moving forward — doing this to an Apple SIM post-purchase is really just screwing up the whole idea. If this is its way of resisting the wave of change heading in its direction, then it’s just going to look like a jerk in the long run.

As you might expect if you’re familiar with the guy, T-Mobile John Legere (who also posted the image above) seized the chance to declare a victory:

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This Week On The TC Gadgets Podcast: iPads, Disrupt London, And iPads


You might have heard that Apple released some new iPads last week. A lot of them. Plus, TechCrunch ventured across the pond for Disrupt London, where a number of incredible hardware startups debuted their wares. It was a long, but awesome, week.

We discuss all this and more on this week’s episode of the TC Gadgets Podcast featuring John Biggs, Matt Burns, and Jordan Crook.

Have a good Friday, everybody!

We invite you to enjoy our weekly podcasts every Friday at 3 p.m. Eastern and noon Pacific. And feel free to check out the TechCrunch Gadgets Flipboard magazine right here.

Click here to download an MP3 of this show.
You can subscribe to the show via RSS.
Subscribe in iTunes

Intro Music by Mendhoan.

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Google Rolls Out An Invite System For Its New Email App, Inbox By Gmail


Good news, you don’t have to scour eBay for an invite to Google’s new email application, Inbox. You just have to know someone who got in. Today, Google announced by way of its “Inbox by Gmail” Twitter account that each Inbox user will now receive three invites they can hand out to friends. Hilariously, the invite button emoji is a golden ticket.

If you aren’t seeing this option yet in your Inbox app, you soon will.

To locate the invite button, just tap the red “Compose” plus icon at the bottom right of the screen. The “Invite to Inbox” button will be the first option above the red Compose button after doing so.

The funny thing about Inbox requiring an invite in order to get in is that it’s such a manufactured attempt at creating a sense of exclusivity around Google’s new product. By limiting access, Google is mimicking the path its buzzy email competitor Mailbox once took. Mailbox, now owned by Dropbox, famously established a “queue” users had to join before they were able to try the product everyone was talking about.

At the time, the startup claimed this would help it manage its growth without succumbing to a massive influx of users who joined all at once. But many also saw it as a marketing ploy designed to increase demand, or even an experiment in human behavior.

And of course, the original Gmail product launch also had an invite system of its own when it first arrived years ago. Gmail invites were a hot item then, too, as everyone clamored for a way into this revolutionary email system that was offering a preposterous 1 GB of free storage and instructed users to archive, not delete, their emails.

But Google isn’t some scrappy upstart anymore. It has access some of the most powerful, scalable technology that exists. As one TechCrunch colleague pointed out, “If anyone could scale any garbage to run for the entire planet without really trying, it’s Google.”

In other words, Google doesn’t need to foist an invite system on would-be Inbox app users. Instead, it’s trying to re-create a sense of buzz around this new app, purportedly a reinvention of email, in hopes of being able to increase demand and grow a user base virally.

Despite the sort-of fakeness to this methodology, I hate to say it, but it’s working. There’s a bit of FOMO going on. Those without Inbox invites are hitting up their contacts at Google, and bugging their friends. Or yes, selling invites on eBay.

Guys, chill. It’s really just a prettier Gmail with some new organizational features, and a new workflow. It’s not even ideal for advanced users who get a lot of email, or who already use Gmail filters and rules. It’s a bit of an adjustment, and you might even decide it’s not for you in the long run.

But time will tell if Inbox is the second coming of Gmail, I suppose.

P.S. Sorry, my three are gone. Move along. 

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