Samsung s5 Authenticates PayPal Payments

Amongst the new features on Samsung’s new s5 is fingerprint authentication. It didn’t get much attention, though, because at first it seemed like a simple catch-up to Apple’s developments. Nonetheless, it turns out that Samsung partnered with PayPal to develop a unique encrypted key that lets PayPal verify users’ identities via the fingerprint authentication, and thus pay with PayPal from the phone. With the simple swipe of a finger to authenticate identity, PayPal users can use the phone as their wallet. Though Apple is behind, they’ve made noise about fingerprint-authenticated payments as well – they’ve got one of the largest credit card repositories on the planet at the moment; all they need to do is leverage it. At the moment, though, Samsung’s beat them to it. 

VSCO Cam Introduces Follow Feature

VSCO Cam is arguably the preferred “mobile darkroom” app, with options to tweak photos in ways that were previously impossible in a mobile setting. Most liked the app because it was entirely dedicated to photo editing, and was very good at what it did. But from a development perspective, there was no way to take photos, make comments, or really make friends in the VSCO Cam social section. Now, the Grid section in the app’s sidebar offers pure inspiration from strangers: it features a handpicked section of VSCO’s favorite inspiring photos from around the web. It keeps the app focused on photos rather than social discovery – something that was appealing about Instagram in early days. Whether it becomes Instagram remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a step forward for the app. 

Apple Reaches $32.5 Million FTC Settlement

If kids went wild in your app store and racked up app purchases without your knowledge, you’re now eligible for a refund, according to a new FTC settlement. The settlement happened because Apple failed to provide users with proper notice when their children went into the app store on their devices. In other words, Apple failed to comply with an obligation to obtain users’ informed consent before charging them for goods and services. The amount agreed to, $32.5 million, is a floor for Apple, meaning that if users claim less than the agreed amount, the difference will go to the FTC. Long story short, your kids can’t unknowingly pile up a huge app store bill without your knowledge anymore.  

Macy’s Begins Apple iBeacon Testing

Macy’s is the first major retailer to begin testing Apple’s new iBeacon technology in-store. Macy’s will use retail app Shopkick as a form of third-party integration, and users will receive a notification through this app when they walk into Macy’s Herald Square or Macy’s Union Square, San Francisco. The notification directs users right into Shopkick’s app, which will alert them to deals and remind them about product sales they might be interested in. As of yet, the trial is limited to pinging phones upon entrance to the store, but in the future it could work on a much more targeted basis. If customers who use the service are more readily converted into purchasers, expect to see Macy’s, and many other retail stores, run with the new technology.

Apple Stores To Use iBeacon Customer Tracking

To mark the release of the new iPhones – and in part to demonstrate a proof-of-concept – Apple retail stores will implement iBeacon customer tracking to reportedly enhance the shopping experience for customers. iBeacon is similar to GPS, but it works indoors and it can be used to trigger certain actions on iPhones that are in proximity to iBeacon sensors. The plan is for iBeacon to work in conjunction with the Apple Store app and offer customers deals and location-based information. It’s an important development for the technology, one that marketers and consumers alike should keep a close eye on; it could determine brick-and-mortar interactive behavior for the forseable future.   

Apple Patents Anticipatory Home Automation Technology

Geo-fencing is a hot technology, especially in the home, and Apple’s new patent indicates that it has no intentions of ignoring the trend. The patent describes a home automation system powered by location data fed from Apple’s mobile devices, as well as additional integrated peripherals like credit cards and RFID badges.  With this many sensors contributing, it becomes possible to create extremely detailed inferences of not only where a person is at any time, but what they’re doing, or even who they’re with.  With this powerful information, Apple’s system goes beyond home automation, and incorporates another hot trend: anticipatory computing.  Should the system be easily implemented (which is usually a strong suit of Apple products), it could be a boon for both trend areas, and inspire further innovations for each.

Retailers Halve iPhone 5C Prices

Colors don’t seem to be moving the new iPhone 5C off of the shelves. Retailers across the board are dropping prices on the new technology, with Best Buy the latest to offer a $50 price promotion with a contract. Yes, the 9 million phones sold on the first weekend was a new record for Apple, but it turns out that the 5s accounted for 3.4 times more sales than the 5C, or 6.95 million units of 5s sold and 2.05 million units of 5C sold. So while the 5s is flying off the shelves, the “repackaged” iPhone 5 isn’t moving quickly at all. It means that a flash of color isn’t, in fact, enough to move what is essentially last year’s model; people want what is truly new. 

New iPhone 5S Has Fingerprint Authentication

At its event today, Apple announced the long suspected division of the iPhone line to include the new iPhone 5C as a budget alternative to the existing iPhone lineage, carried on by the new iPhone 5S.  The 5C is offered starting at $99, has a polycarbonate back, and comes in 5 bright colors. The 5S is offered starting at $199, is aluminum, and comes in 3 metallic colors: gold, silver, and slate gray.

The 5S has a full set of improvements including a new processor, 64-bit architecture, an improved camera (it shoots 720p video at 120 fps to allow for some impressive slo-mo shots), and possibly most exciting, “Touch ID” fingerprint authentication. The iPhone 5S is a veritable media machine, but what could be most intriguing about the device is the new security peripheral: the Touch ID sensor. 

While the fingerprint reading is never made available to other apps, the end of the password could be near, as services could issue “trusted device” status to a user’s phone, given the greater security of a fingerprint scanner.  Soon we’ll know if the nuts and bolts of the technology will allow for extended permissions chains to link the device’s master unlock function, driven by a thumbprint, could be used with third party applications without actually revealing the thumbprint to the app as a form of primary authentication.

iTunes Radio Launches In September With New Ad Scheme

iTunes Radio is officially debuting later this year, and an Ad Age report detail how advertising will work on the new platform. Several high profile brands – like McDonalds, Nissan, and Pepsi – will be part of the launch. In January 2014, ads on iTunes Radio will become widely available via a platform called iAd for a minimum buy-in of around $1 million for either interstitial audio ads, video ads, and “slate” ads, display ads that will take over whatever screen the consumer is using. Users will be served one audio ad every 15 minutes, and one video ad every hour. Apple users, however, will be able to avoid ads by purchasing iTunes Match. 

YouTube Co-Founders Launch Video App

There’s a third hat in the video app ring: YouTube cofounders Chat Hurley and Steve Chen announced MixBit, an iPhone app that lets you record, edit, share, and mix video clips from other users to create your own movies. The videos are designed to be recorded and viewed horizontally, and it operates just like Vine and Instagram – tap-to-record and release to finish. Clips can be as long as 16 seconds, and finished can include as many as 256 clips in a single video, meaning that videos can last more than an hour. There are no filters, but you can rearrange, cut, and further edit clips before publishing. With the flexibility to post videos that are far more long-form than either Vine or Instagram allow, MixBit could be a potent new video capturing and editing app – and with YouTube’s powerful backing, it’s not too far fetched to guess that it will be an important third party in the Instagram and Vine-dominated world.