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Hacks targeting Chinese iCloud users prompt Apple CEO Tim Cook to meet China’s vice premier


Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 06:13 am PT (09:13 am ET)

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has reportedly traveled to Beijing to meet with the vice premier of China to discuss protecting user data, a meeting prompted by recent hacks targeting iCloud users in the country.

Cook met with Vice Premier Ma Kai in Zhongnanhai, which is the Beijing complex home to the Chinese government, according to Reuters. Citing local media reports, it was said that the two sides discussed “protection of users’ information,” as well as “strengthening cooperation and in information and communication fields.”

The attacks were first revealed by Chinese activist group, which has accused the Chinese government of being involved in the attacks. Hackers have been harvesting iCloud user data by spoofing the website, and Apple has published a step-by-step guide on how users can verify they are connected to the authentic iCloud website in Safari, Chrome and Firefox.

As another security measure, Apple also appears to have rerouted user data to help prevent further attacks, according to

The “man-in-the-middle” attacks are said to have incredibly deep access to the servers of government-owned Chinese Internet providers, which has fueled speculation that the government is cooperating with the attacks. For its part, the Chinese government has denied the accusations.

The attacks began this past weekend, and are said to be similar to previous hacks targeting Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft Hotmail. The hackers’ efforts first came to light when users in China began to receive security warnings from Apple’s iCloud service.

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MasterCard pushes Apple Pay with new ‘Priceless Surprises’ TV ads


Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 07:44 am PT (10:44 am ET)

The first television commercials spotlighting Apple Pay did not come from Apple itself, but from launch partner MasterCard, which is running baseball-themed ads hyping the launch of the new iPhone 6-based tap-to-pay system.

During the first game of the Major League Baseball World Series on Tuesday, MasterCard ran a pair of commercials focusing on its integration with the newly launched Apple Pay service. MasterCard is using Apple Pay to help push its its ongoing “Priceless Surprises” promotion, which makes customers eligible to win a variety of prizes every time they use their MasterCard.

In the commercial, MasterCard notes that the launch of Apple Pay enables “more ways” for its cardholders to enter the contest, which runs through the end of the year. Given that the Apple Pay-focused ads aired during the World Series, MasterCard spotlighted baseball-themed prizes, including fans winning surprise meetings with Hall of Famers Tommy Lasorda and George Brett, and recently retired great Mariano Rivera.

One of the commercials notes that iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners can even use Apple Pay to make purchases while at a World Series game. The respective stadiums of both participating teams — the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants — are both accepting concession item purchases with Apple Pay.

One of the prizes for the ongoing contest offers a trip for two to a 2014 or 2015 MLB World Series game. Other non-baseball prizes include a trip to the 57th Annual Grammy Awards next February, a trip to the 2015 Food Network South Beach Wine Food Festival in Miami, and a trip to the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando.

Apple Pay launched on Monday with the release of iOS 8.1. For now, the tap-to-pay retail functionality is exclusive to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, though support will also be included with the Apple Watch, set to launch in early 2015.

Along with MasterCard, credit card providers Visa and American Express are also Apple Pay launch partners. Participating banks include American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo, with support coming later this year from Barclaycard, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC, USAA, and U.S. Bank.

MLB ballparks are joined by 220,000 stores across the U.S. that currently support iPhone 6-based payments. More retailers, as well as international availability, are said to be forthcoming.

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AppleInsider 2.0 for iPhone and iPad now available as free downloads from Apple’s App Store


Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 08:32 am PT (11:32 am ET)

AppleInsider today is pleased to announce the release of a major update to its universal iOS application on the App Store, delivering a fresh new look, unified subscription features across the iPhone and iPad, favorites, advance font preferences, offline reading, Instapaper support and more.

Free for All

AppleInsider 2.0 is now available as a free download on Apple’s iOS App Store for both iPhone and iPad.

As part of the update, the iPhone edition has been redesigned from the ground up with a navigational element that provides access to all the same content areas originally found on AppleInsider for the desktop. Meanwhile, an ad-supported version of the iPad app is now available as a free application to all non-subscribers year-round. The incredibly gifted crew over at our digital design shop Crafted — who are responsible for bringing these apps to life — also wrapped both apps in a fresh new user interface inspired by the elegance of Apple’s iOS 8.

Both updates also boast a new “Font Panel,” allowing users to tailor the size and weight of text in articles to their personal reading preference. Of course they also include previously existing features such as one-touch social sharing, push notifications for breaking news items, and a multi-touch user experience that allows for swiping between articles in both landscape and portrait modes on iPad.

Exclusively for Subscribers

While all users can download and the new apps to enjoy AppleInsider’s news, reviews and expert commentary, we’re also thrilled to be rolling out a handful of new features that are exclusive for our subscribers. Among them are:

  • Unified Subscriptions: Subscribers can now access all of the features of the iPad application on their iPhones and vice versa.
  • Favorites: Tap the heart icon in the upper right corner of any article to save it to your “Favorites” list on all of your devices (syncing requires that you’re logged into iCloud).
  • Offline Reading: No bars? No problem. Whether you’re heading towards a train tunnel or out into the wilderness, just toggle into Offline Reading mode ahead of time to continue reading the day’s news — or articles in your ‘Favorites’ list — all without a data connection.
  • Instapaper and Pocket: We’ve included third-party save support for both Instapaper and Pocket subscribers.
  • Uninterrupted Browsing: It’s nothing but pure content with our ads-free browsing experience.

Of course, all of the same content remains available to readers via our traditional website, as well as our mobile-friendly version accessible via Safari on the iPhone. And you can continue to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, our Newsletter and via RSS. However you access our content, we thank you for reading.

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Apple planning to bring Apple Pay support to iAd with new buy buttons


Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 09:54 am PT (12:54 pm ET)

Tap-to-buy quick purchasing buttons with support for Apple Pay may be coming to Apple’s iAd mobile advertising network as soon as this fall, according to a new report.

The new buy buttons would be embedded in mobile ads, and users would be able to quickly authenticate their purchase with the Apple Pay system, according to DigiDay, which cited unnamed sources. Apple already offers Apple Pay purchasing through its own and third-party iOS applications, utilizing the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and credit cards saved in Passbook to quickly complete transactions.

But with iAd support, Apple could offer advertisers a new way to generate revenue. The Apple Pay-based buy button for iAd will reportedly launch before the end of the year, allowing advertisers to take advantage of the holiday shopping season.

DigiDay noted that Apple Pay buy buttons could be paired wit a new “retargeting” feature for iAd found in iOS 8. This allows marketers to retarget users who may get cold feet or become distracted before completing a purchase — if the user abandons their shopping cart, the retailer could retarget them with a mobile buy button ad.

Online digital shopping purchases with Apple Pay are possible on the Touch ID fingerprint sensors on the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, as well as the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. The other key component of Apple Pay, tap-to-pay point-of-sale purchase authorization, is exclusive to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, utilizing the near-field communications chips in those devices.

The company is also rumored to be working on a new royalty program for launch this fall, integrating Apple’s iBeacon technology to deliver targeted ads and incentivize users making purchases through Apple Pay. Third-party partners like MasterCard are already offering their own promotions, with the credit card company spotlighting Apple Pay through a contest and series of ads.

Apple has been gradually expanding its iAd service since it first launched in 2010, adding features, expanding availability, and lowering buy-in prices for advertisers. The company has been making efforts to tie it in to other services on the iPhone as well, such as allowing advertisers to include “Add to Passbook” buttons for coupons.

Earlier this year, Apple expanded iAd to include pre-roll video and full-screen interstitial banner ad options for iOS apps. International availability of iAd has also continued to grow.

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Get your Mac online anywhere easily with OS X Yosemite’s new Instant Hotspot iPhone tethering feature


Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 05:20 am PT (08:20 am ET)

One of the new Continuity features between iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite is Instant Hotspot, giving users the ability to automatically connect to the Internet through their iPhone’s cellular data connection without the need to touch their phone.

Instant Hotspot requires an iPhone running iOS 8.1 and a Mac with OS X Yosemite installed. As with other Continuity features, both devices must be logged in to the same iCloud Apple ID.

Users must also have a carrier plan with tethering enabled to take advantage of Apple’s hotspot functionality. Then they can open the iOS Settings application and choose Personal Hotspot, and make sure it is switched on.

With Personal Hotspot left on, users will now be able to tether from their Mac or iPad whenever necessary.

On a Mac, simply choose the Wi-Fi menu, and the name of the iPhone, along with cellular signal strength and battery life, will be shown. On an iPad, this information can be found in the Wi-Fi section of the iOS Settings app.

With Instant Hotspot, users will no longer be required to enter a Wi-Fi password to tether with their iPhone. The system is secure and the credentials are authorized via their iCloud account.

If a user does pick up their iPhone, they’re alerted of the hotspot connection by a blue bar at the top of the screen, which also displays the number of active connections. And as before, tethering between two Apple devices displays a pair of chain links in the Mac’s Wi-Fi menu bar.

Apple’s system also intelligently disconnects from Instant Hotspot when the tethered Mac or iPad is not using data. This helps to preserve battery life on the connected iPhone, as tethering can place a considerable drain on the handset.

Other Continuity features in iOS 8 are SMS relay, Handoff, and call answering, all of which have been detailed in AppleInsider’s ongoing Yosemite Tips series.

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Apple’s new A8X powered iPad Air 2 smokes new Android tablets, including Nvidia’s Tegra K1 Shield Tablet [u]


Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 04:49 pm PT (07:49 pm ET)

New Geekbench processor benchmarks show Apple’s triple core, 64-bit A8X Application Processor is dramatically faster than the latest Android tablets, despite their additional cores and faster clock rates.

Previous Android tablets ranging from Amazon to Samsung delivered multiple core benchmarks in the ballpark of Apple’s original iPad Air, despite running much faster and incorporating two to three times as much RAM in a thicker—or in the case of Samsung, plastic—body. Their single core scores were significantly lower however, closer to Apple’s fourth generation iPad from late 2012.

In 2013, Google’s Nexus 7 similarly lagged Apple’s iPad 4 in single core performance, but benchmarked higher for software that could take advantage of multiple cores. Nexus 7 was primarily marketed as being cheaper than similar iPads, but Google has since shifted its strategy for its latest crop of Nexus tablets, which are now more expensive.

The fastest Android tablet, a gaming-oriented device produced by Nvidia to show of the power of its Tegra K1 Application Processor, has ruled the roost in CPU benchmark performance since its release this summer, although it ironically can’t run some of the most popular games, including top Google Play title “Five Nights at Freddy’s.”

Google’s new, more expensive Nexus 9 will use a Tegra K1 similar to the Shield Tablet in a form factor designed to look and work more like an iPad than conventional 16:9 Android tablets. It will also be priced higher. The HTC-built Nexus 9′s K1 uses Nvidia’s new 64-bit “Denver” dual core CPU. It has not yet been released or benchmarked.

[Update: According to figures published by GSMArena, Nexus 9 turns in scores (added below) that are much better in single core but only slightly better in multiple core benchmarks than the original Tegra K1 Shield Tablet. Its single core performance is similar to iPad Air 2 but its multiple core CPU performance is beat by the A8X iPad Air 2 by 34.8 percent.


According to numbers published by Geekbench developer Primate Labs (above), Apple’s iPad Air 2 is 39.8 percent faster than the K1 powered Shield Tablet in multiple core tests, even using three cores to the K1′s four core chip design. In single core tasks, iPad Air 2 scores 67.9 percent faster than the K1.

Compared to Samsung’s own Exynos 5420 Octa Application Processor, used in its Galaxy Tab S 10.5 introduced alongside the Shield Tablet this summer, Apple’s iPad Air 2 is 69.5 percent faster in multiple core tasks (again with three cores to the Exynos’ 4 active cores or 8 advertised cores) and 104 percent faster in single core tasks, even clocked significantly slower and with 2GB rather than 3GB of RAM.

AppleInsider is still waiting to obtain A8X GPU performance benchmarks for the new iPad Air 2, which should be interesting to compare against Nvidia’s K1 “Kepler” GPU architecture, given Nvidia’s core competency in GPU design.

The less powerful A8 chip Apple uses in its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models already shows a large advance over the GPU performance of Samsung’s ARM Mali-based GPU used in the Exynos 5 Octa versions of its Galaxy smartphones and phablets, and is roughly tied in core GPU performance with Qualcomm’s Adreno 420 GPUs used in the Snapdragon 805, which powers most higher end Android smartphones.

However, due to limitations in Android software, as well as Android licensees’ spec-centric engineering decisions that resulted in putting extremely high resolution 2K “WQHD” displays on 5 to 6 inch smartphones, Qualcomm’s GPU performance parity with the A8 is erased, resulting in OpenGL ES 3.0 performance roughly half that of iPhone 6 Plus and even worse when compared to iPhone 6 at its native Retina HD resolution.

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