Synaptics announce new fingerprint scanner

Synaptics has announced a new fingerprint scanning technology (FS9100) which enables fingerprints to be scanned through a display screen.

The new FS9100 Sensor is capable of reading a fingerprint through a 1mm thick glass display. This would mean that hardware designers no longer needed to allocate a separate area, upon which fingers needed to be placed in order to be scanned. In a quote from synaptics it seems they think this one less reason for a dedicated home button on the next generation iPhone.

Synaptics’ FS9100 family of fingerprint sensors represent a new breed of optical fingerprint sensor technology that is designed to meet the needs of mobile devices, including the ability to image through thick 2.5D glass. In addition to opening the door to new industrial design options, it enables OEMs to provide highly durable, button-free cover glass and more easily provide water resistant products while eliminating low yield glass processing.

No doubt apple already has its own designs and patents on the subject, however this third party announcement does raise a question around the next iPhone not having a home button. I personally wouldn’t like this change as when things don’t go to plan and your phone locks up, its always nice to have an actual button you can press, even with it does nothing!

If the rumors are true then hidden behind the sleek glass display of the iPhone 8 will be a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, camera, light sensor, and the phones earpiece and microphone’s, entirely eliminating the existing lower home button strip and top speaker strip allowing for an iPhone that looks like a single piece of glass.

Other rumors at the moment suggest that the iPhone 8 might be made entirely of glass, however this is a bit of a long shot! My personal favourites are a low power high resolution OLED display the obvious upgrade to the faster A11 processor and most likely would be the current android only feature of wireless charging.

Snapchat 2.0 with AutoPlay

So i’m sure you are all aware by now that Snapchat has surprised us all by releasing a new update on Tuesday which adds a few new and possibly controversial features!

The main thing that the new update brings is an “Updated Chat” which snapchat has dubbed Chat 2.0, this apparently will make it easier for us to chat and video chat with our contacts.  Snapchat has said that the new chat 2.0 works when you “start by sending a few chats, and when your friend shows up, start talking or video chatting instantly with one tap” … not really sure why you would want to but snapchat has also added stickers just like on Facebook and WhatsApp so you can send giant emoji style stickers to annoy your friends too!

The most annoying / ground breaking feature that has been rolled out in this update is the “autoplay” feature on your friends stories, in a nutshell once the story you are watching finished, snapchat auto plays the next one down in your friends. If you want to skip the Story that just started playing, swipe to move ahead to the next one; and if you don’t want to watch any-more Stories at all, pull down to exit. Personally I find this feature annoying as firstly I don’t really want to watch everyone in my contacts list’s stories, I only watch interesting peoples and it also kind of feels like snapchat is gearing up to ad advertising stories right into the mix. finally it also makes it really difficult to tell who’s story you are watching!

For full details on the new update or if you just like reading official press releases, its available on Snapchat’s Blog

Do you like the new update? let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Barclays confirms Apple Pay support

Barclays to support Apple PayBarclays has today confirmed that they will support Apple Pay imminently, following the launch of Apple Pay in the UK at over 250,000 locations.

It seems as though all the major banks have suddenly realised today that Apple Pay is actually taking off and are now rushing to create a platform to support the new technology whereas more “modern” banks such as Santander and Natwest seem to have spent the previous 8 months developing the technology and where ready for Apple Pay upon launch.

Apple has also now updated its list of participating banks by moving HSBC and First Direct to the Coming Soon list along with TSB, RBS, Halifax and others.

Apple Pay officially launched in the UK

Apple Pay CardsApple pay has today been officially launched for use in the UK and will be accepted at any store which currently accepts contactless payments.

The technology is currently only available on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus however owners of older models can use their iWatch (Apple Watch) to enable NFC payments along with touch ID.

According to apple pay’s UK website the service currently is only available to customers of AMEX, MBNA, Nationwide, Natwest, RBS, Santander and Ulster Bank however other banks on the Coming Soon list include Halifax, First Direct, HSBC, Lloyds, TSB, M&S Bank and Bank of Scotland.

Apple is also apparently trying to encourage merchants to accept and promote Apple Pay by enabling user feedback on the apple website, with a few refrences and links saying things such as “if you have trouble using Apple Pay in store, let us know”

Have you used Apple Pay yet? Did the cashier get confused when you tried to slap your phone or watch on her PDQ terminal? Let us know in the comments!

UPDATE: As of Tuesday 28th July Apple Pay now also supports First Direct and HSBC with Barclays reporting that support is “Imminent”

Santander is first UK bank to offer Apple Pay

Santander with Apple Pay (iWatch)

Santander is getting ready for the launch of Apple Pay as customers can register their bank cards with the Apple Pay service in preparation for its launch in the UK later this month.

The current process is a bit of a workaround as it requires the user to set their country to US, add the card and then return to UK at which point the card will remain in the users passbook and is available for use at any contactless terminal.

It has not yet been announced when Apple Pay will be available in the UK however at WWDC apple did say that it would be available during July 2015.

Update: One Santander customer who activated his card for use with Apple Pay was able to use it at a McDonald’s to make a purchase.

Update 2: Santander has emailed customers who were able to add their cards letting them know the Apple Pay service is not yet available for use and removed it from their devices.

Snapchat now allows background music!

Snapchat UpdateSnapchat have released another update today which is set to change the game for the better (or worse depending on your viewpoint)

The update will allow users to play music from their devices while recording their snap, meaning that you can sing, dance or just make funny faces to all your music from iTunes. The update also includes “Bug Fixes” which are apparently going to make snapchat faster – but I wouldn’t have exactly said it was the slowest of my app’s to start with!

The update could prove to be much bigger than anyone at snapchat may have expected, as it gives your friends much more options to be creative with their snaps. It will also give some of your friends to share their terrible taste in music and awful lip syncing abilities. Previously, as soon as you hit that record button, any music playing would automatically stop.

This is still the case with other social apps like Instagram and Vine, who now it appears have some catching up to do.

This is the first major update since Snapchat announced that they believe their worth will raise up to $19 billion within the next financial year.


Apple developing products for HomeKit

HomeKit-iconRecent leaks suggest that Apple is working on a HomeKit standard for home automation with iOS 8.

Various details are surfacing about components and technological developments suggesting that apple is working on a number of devices linked with their new announcement of HomeKit. Some may wonder why Apple did not purchase Nest before Google did however it has been revealed that it is unlikely apple will go down the same route and may instead choose to follow different avenues of home automation similar to how Bose has created home audio systems.

The sources say that Apple is unlikely to move forward with devices to compete directly with Google’s Nest as the Cupertino-company feels it can build products that can gain usage wider than that of thermostats and smoke detectors. It is likely that Apple is building advanced speaker systems or control panels for homes, the sources say. It is possible that Apple’s recent acquisition of Beats Electronics and the audio company’s existing speaker systems play into this vision.

Apple is expected to expand its product portfolio later on this year with the iWatch and with the addition of HomeKit apple really is looking like it is getting ready to take over the world, technologically at least.

Apple may not buy Beats by Dre after all

Beats by Dre deal is taking longer than expected and now may not be finalised until late next week. Following on from our report last week about Apple acquiring the audio company Beats by Dre recent news is suggesting the deal may take longer than first expected.

Apple’s planned deal to buy Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion may not be finalized until next week, according to people familiar with the transaction. That’s a longer timetable than some people expected as recently as a few days ago.

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Once the deal has been finalised it is expected that the Beats co-founders Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine will take up senior roles within Apple. It is not yet clear weather this bold move by apple is in order to inject the company with new ideas to attract a younger generation or if it is simply a deal to gain access to the Beats song library and royalty deals which would give apple preferential rates and an advantage in the streaming market for iTunes. On another note Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre are said to be making their first appearances as employees of apple in the upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) later this year.

Heart Rate Monitoring Headphones?

heartrateearphonesA secret sharing website recently reported that apple might be exploring the possibility of headphones able to measure heart rate. The report was later confirmed to be a hoax however the technology to do this already exists, and is even available today in a product from LG.

Launched at CES in January, LG’s fitness-oriented Heart Rate headphones are designed to give real-time heart rate monitoring. The headphones use sensors in the earbud to measure blood flow, along with a small medallion that is strapped to the arm or attached to a waistband to track metabolic rate and maximum oxygen consumption, and all this while allowing users to listen to music!

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The medallion that connects to the headphones is designed to work as a data processing unit, sending the biometric information directly to the LG Fitness app or other popular third-party apps on an iPhone via Bluetooth. The headphones are said to have good sound and even include a built-in microphone for making calls using the device as a handsfree kit.

LG’s Heart Rate Earphones are designed to provide accurate heart rate data by measuring blood flow signals in the ear via PerformTek sensor technology while also delivering excellent sound. Because of the unique physiology of the ear, wearers can get more accurate health and fitness metrics with LG’s Heart Rate Earphones than with other devices, especially when engaged in physical activity. LG Heart Rate Earphones can be used alone or with LG Lifeband Touch.

The Heart Rate Earphones and the Lifeband Touch are available for pre-order and will will be officially on sale on the 18th May. The headphones are currently listed at £106.94 ($180), while the Lifeband Touch is £89.12 ($150).

Even though the report of Apple developing these headphones with sensors was fabricated, they have previously invested research into the concept, filing several patents on the subject and recently hiring Eric Winokur, a researcher who developed an ear-worn bio-signs monitor, likely for its wearable’s team. Despite all this evidence, there’s currently no indication that Apple is working on or even plans to work on their own headphones with sensors, but LG has demonstrated that the technology certainly exists should the company choose to go in that direction.

Will NFC make an appearance in the iPhone 6?

NFC-iPhone-6NFC (Near Field Communication) is reportedly going to make its way into the latest device from Apple, the iPhone 6. This has been on the cards since the iPhone 5 redesign however has not yet made it into production.

Integrating NFC (Near Field Communication) into an iPhone would be somewhat of a u-turn for apple as back in 2012 Phil Schiller said that the technology was not the solution to any current problem and so this meant it would not be something apple was perusing.

Apple is likely to incorporate a Near Field Communication (NFC) payment function in the next generation iPhone and has reached an agreement with China UnionPay on a mobile payment service, according to a source close to the matter.
In addition to NFC payment, the two companies will also work together on another mobile payment solution that can be used for purchases in Apple Stores.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted last month that Apple would integrate NFC chips into the next-generation iPhone alongside a host of other features.

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The news also comes as Apple is apparently pursuing plans to develop a mobile payment solution, which will be linked to the Touch ID fingerprint sensor currently found in the iPhone 5s and reportedly headed for the iPhone 6 and next-generation iPads. It is also possible that Apple combines its existing Touch ID fingerprint scanner and NFC technology into the home button, as the company for a patent detailing such a system last September.

Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 6 later on this year, possible around August or September if they follow previous trends.

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