Apple Pay And Contactless Payment Limit Increased To £30 In The UK

Apple Pay

Contactless payments in the UK have had a limit of £20 for some time, this also applies to payment systems like Apple Pay, although this has now been increased to £30 in the UK.

Payment terminals in the UK are now being updated to accept the new limit of £30 for contactless payments.

Graham Peacop, Chief Executive Officer of The UK Cards Association, said:

“Contactless payments are fast, easy and secure. With more contactless cards in wallets than ever before and a growing number of retailers accepting contactless payments, we have seen a huge rise in the number of payments being made.

“The growth in contactless payments shows people want to use contactless cards and increasing the limit gives customers even more opportunities to pay in this way.”

Paying with contactless cards is safe, using the same robust industry-standard secure encryption technology as Chip and PIN. For added protection, from time to time consumers will be asked to enter their PIN to verify they are the genuine card holder.

Fraud on contactless cards is extremely low, at less than one penny for every hundred pounds spent.

The average supermarket spend of £25 now falls below the contactless limit, giving shoppers more choice about the way they can pay for their goods. The average card spend in pubs, cinemas, dry cleaners, pet shops and gift shops also falls under the new £30 limit.

You can find out more details about the changes to the contactless payment limits in the UK at the link below.

New Apple TV Major Features Will Be Siri And Gaming

Apple TV

We are expecting to see a new Apple TV set top box at Apple’s press event next week and the new device is expected to get a major update in terms of both hardware and software.

As well as improved hardware the new Apple TV will bring major new features to Apple’s TV platform, the company will be focusing on Siri and its features on the device and also gaming.

The new Apple TV is said to come with apps and games and the device will apparently be available with a number of accessories for gaming.

The update Apple TV is expected to feature Apple’s A8 processor which is found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the device is also said to come with larger storage for downloading apps and games. Apple are also said to be releasing a new SDK for the platform which will allow developers to create apps and games for it.

Apple’s Siri is said to play a major part for controlling the updated apple TV, the device is said top come with a new remote which will feature motion control and also a microphone for Siri.

We are looking forward to find out more information about the next generation Apple TV and will have more details when it is made official next week.

Adafruit MQTT Arduino Library Now Supports Arduino Yun

Adafruit MQTT Arduino Library

Makers, developers and hobbyists that enjoy creating projects using the Arduino platform may be interested to know that Adafruit has this week announced that there MQTT Arduino Library now supports the Arduino Yun.

The Adafruit MQTT Arduino Library works with the Adafruit CC3000, FONA, Arduino Yun, ESP8266 Arduino platforms, and anything that supports Arduino’s Client interface. Adafruit explain a little more.

If you’re looking for an Arduino-compatible MQTT library be sure to check out the Adafruit MQTT Arduino library.  This is a simple library that supports publishing and subscribing to feeds and is great for working with internet of things services like Adafruit IO.

The library supports the CC3000, FONA, ESP8266, and now the Arduino Yun.  It can even work with other network hardware & libraries which implement Arduino’s generic Client interface.

Check out the Adafruit MQTT Arduino Library home on Github for more information about using it, via the link below.

LG’s Older Smart TVs Will Get webOS 2.0 Update


LG has announced that it will update its older range of smart TVs with their new webOS 2.0 software update, the update will be available for all devices running webOS 1.0.

LG has said that the software update will bring improved speed and a range of new features to webOS TVs.

“LG is dedicated to providing the best user experience for the life of our smart TVs,” said Lee In-kyu, senior vice president and head of the TV and Monitor Division at LG’s Home Entertainment Company. “A free upgrade of this scale is unprecedented in the smart TV industry and we’re proud to be setting a new standard for smart TV ownership.”

The upgrade for webOS 1.0 will begin rolling out starting September 21. Owners of webOS 1.0 TVs who have the automatic update option enabled will receive the upgrade automatically. If automatic update is not enabled, users will receive a pop-up message on their screen to guide them through the easy upgrade process, step by step.

The webOS 2.0 software update will be released for the older LG Smart TVs as a Value Pack upgrade, the new software will be shown off at IFA this week from the 4th to 9th of September.

Colombia Reportedly Collecting Bulk Data Without Warrants

Intelligence agencies in Colombia have been building robust tools to automatically collect vast amounts of data without judicial warrants and in defiance of a pledge to better protect privacy following a series of domestic spying scandals, according to a new report by Privacy International.

The report published Monday by the London-based advocacy group provides a comprehensive look at the reach and questionable oversight of surveillancetechnologies as used by police and state security agencies in Colombia.

One tool developed is capable of monitoring 3G phone cell and trunk lines carrying voice and data communications for the whole country, according to the report.

The system, called Integrated Record System, was built by police intelligence starting in 2005 and had the capacity of collecting 100 million cell data and 20 million text message records per day without service providers’ knowledge, according to the report’s authors.

The report doesn’t say how the technology was used but such mass, automated collection of data isn’t explicitly authorized under Colombian law, according to the group, which based its findings on purchase orders and documents, many never seen before, and confidential testimony by people working in Colombia’s vast surveillance industry.

General Rodolfo Palomino, head of Colombia’s police, declined to comment on the report when contacted by The Associated Press. He said the proper forum to discuss sensitive issues regarding surveillance tactics is with Congress, which is tasked with overseeing intelligence agencies.

Colombia’s constitution guarantees citizens’ right to private communications and all interceptions must have a judicial warrant. Colombia’s chief prosecutor’s office maintains with law enforcement a separate, more-targeted surveillance system, called Esperanza, for that very purpose.

But Privacy International said inter-agency rivalries, a deep-seated culture of spying, and legal loopholes in a recently revamped intelligence law that allows for monitoring of the electro-magnetic spectrum for national security purposes has opened the door to gathering massive amounts of personal data on Colombians’ private communications.

Much of the intelligence-gathering technology was developed with the U.S., which has provided billions of dollars in cash, training and equipment to Colombia over the past 15 years.

Surveillance technology and direct assistance by the DEA and CIA have been instrumental in the arrest of cocaine kingpins and a key weapon in Colombia’s fight against the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, as evidenced by the interception of phone calls that located and led to the killing of the guerrillas’ top commander, alias Alfonso Cano, in a 2011 military raid.

But the U.S. assistance also has been abused.

Some elite intelligence and police units receiving direct U.S. aid and equipment were among those found to be illegally spying during last decade on Supreme Court justices, journalists, victims’ rights groups, and political opponents of hardliner former President Alvaro Uribe. Several top generals were fired as a result and the domestic intelligence agency, or DAS, was disbanded in 2011. U.S. officials were not implicated in the illegal acts.

Despite public outrage over the illegal spying, and revelations last year that government negotiators in peace talks with leftist rebels had their communications tapped by the Colombian army, law enforcement agencies continue to invest in sophisticated snooping technology without substantive checks against abuse, according to the report.

“After all the serious scandals that have shocked the country and many promises about tightening the control over intelligence and police activities, we learn that Colombian authorities, indeed, have mass surveillance capabilities over mobile and internet communications,” said Carolina Botero, a privacy activist and lawyer at the Bogota-based Karisma Foundation. “It’s clear that there’s a long way ahead for the compliance of intelligence and criminal investigation activities with human rights standards.”

Alcatel-Lucent Chief Defends EUR 14-Million Payout

The head of telecoms equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent rejected government pressure Monday to renounce bonuses which could see him receive around EUR 14 million (roughly Rs. 104 crores) as part of its buyout by rival Nokia.

Michel Combes, who has headed the French-American company since 2013, told the business daily Les Echos that the payments were not linked to the 15.6-billion-euro deal to create the world’s biggest supplier of mobile phone network equipment, but the fact he had turned around Alcatel-Lucent’s fortunes and its share price.

After the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, citing official documents and current share values, said Sunday that Combes could receive almost EUR 14 million in bonuses over three years he came under pressure from government officials and unions.

“As the value of the company’s shares has increased the amount has reached a considerable amount,” Combes told Les Echos. “But that signifies that I succeeded in creating value and the company was saved, while when I joined it the company was half bankrupt and the candidates to lead it were not many.”

He noted that he had renounced in April a 2.4-million-euro bonus due to him for leaving the company and that he wasn’t accumulating bonuses as had other French bosses.

Large bonuses have become a politically sensitive issue in France, where unemployment is stuck at around 10 percent and the economy is sluggish.

Combes, who leaves his post on Tuesday to become board chairman at Numericable-SFR, managed a recovery plan that has tripled Alcatel-Lucent’s share value.

But it also led to the loss of 10,000 jobs.

“In today’s world and with the problems people face one needs to have a bit of common sense, proportion and restraint. And in this case Michel Combes hasn’t,” French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said on France Info radio on Monday.

He needs to “try to understand how this looks to others, to the French, and from there take good decisions. He still has time to do so.”

The spokesman for the Socialist government on Sunday called on Combes to “reflect” on the bonus.

The size of any such bonus “is always political at a time when we are emerging from what is a difficult crisis for a lot of French people,” Stephane Le Foll told reporters.

Union leaders have also criticised the size of the bonuses.

“Employees who saw the amounts announced at the weekend were no doubt sick, they are indecent considering the social problems of recent years,” said Herve Lassale, a leader of the CFDT, the main union at the company.

“There was certainly an improvement in the financial performance but it wasn’t spectacular,” he said, adding that he hoped Combes would renounce all or part of the shares due him.

Harvard Launches ‘Virtual Classroom’ for Students Anywhere

The newest classroom at Harvard’s business school has no desks or chairs. Instead, the professor teaches facing a towering digital screen that stretches from wall to wall, filled with the live video feeds of up to 60 students tuned in from their computers.

In the futuristic classroom, housed in a television studio 2 miles from campus, class plays out like a giant video conference.

Students can jump in to ask questions or respond to their classmates. The professor can stop a lecture to quiz individual students, or send the group a quick online poll.

The project, called HBX Live, is a departure from the genre of online courses that are recorded in advance to be taken later.

Here, Harvard sought to create a live, online replica of its campus classrooms.

“With one difference of course, which is we collapse geography,” said Bharat Anand, a business professor and faculty chairman of HBX, a digital initiative at the school.

At a recent test of the technology, alumni connected to the room from Thailand, New Zealand and the Philippines.

“That’s something we’ve never, ever done before,” Anand said.

This school year, Harvard will use HBX Live to teach its business students when they disperse on global study trips in January, and to host virtual research presentations.

Eventually, the school will consider creating new online programs taught primarily through the room, Anand said.

Although the technology isn’t widespread, experts said, some other schools have experimented with the concept of a live web-based classroom.

At Yale University’s business school, students around the world can take online courses taught through video conferences.

The University of California San Diego created a computer program that puts students in a virtual world, like a video game, where they can take seminars and interact.

“People have been trying to do video conferencing in education for a long time, going back to the ’80s,” said Frank Vahid, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Riverside, and co-founder of the online-education company zyBooks.

Technology improvements have boosted that pursuit in recent years, Vahid said, both in the classroom and in the business world.

“Certainly in the corporate world, the quality of web conferencing has become very advanced,” he said.

Although the idea isn’t entirely new, Harvard put a twist on it by approaching the project like a live television production.

To learn the trade, school officials visited NBC Sports studios in Connecticut and studied reality TV shows.

The school hired a production crew that sits in a control room above the studio, broadcasting the class to students with the cinematic polish of a cable news show.

Crew members toggle between dozens of cameras trained at the professor, lingering only a few seconds on each angle. One worker roams around the professor with a hand-held camera, aiming to give students a sense of movement.

“We’re trying to create a constant energy as well as feed off what the professor says,” said Peter Shaffery, who was hired to be the technical director of the project.

Harvard hasn’t disclosed how much it spent on the classroom and its crew.

Leaders of the business school said HBX Live is a big step as the school dives into online education, but stressed that it’s just one of several offerings.

“It’s really cool in isolation, but really the way to think about it is in context with other initiatives that we’re pushing,” said Youngme Moon, a senior associate dean.

The school also recently unveiled an online program on business basics, along with other courses geared toward executives.

Harvard plans to hold about 100 sessions in the TV studio over the next year, hoping that professors will find new uses for it, too, Anand said.

“It’s almost like we’re building an infrastructure,” he said, “and now we’ve just got to let the imagination run.”

Android Wear Smartwatches Now Work With iPhone

Google on Monday broke down the wall between Android smart watches and iPhones, taking on Apple Watch on its home turf.

A version of Android Wear smart watch software tailored for Apple’s mobile operating system made its debut, paired for now only with LG Watch Urbane, according to a Google blog post.

“Today, Android Wear for iOS works with the LG Watch Urbane,” Google said.

“All future Android Wear watches, including those from Huawei, Asus, and Motorola will also support iOS, so stay tuned for more.”

Android Wear was modified to work with iPhone 5 models or newer powered by the latest versions of Apple’s mobile device operating system, according to Google.

The move puts Android-powered smart watches in position to compete with Apple Watch to be the computing device strapped to the wrists of iPhone owners.

Android Wear previously worked only with the Google-backed mobile operating system.

Apple news coming
International Data Corporation last week said that Apple’s freshly launched smart watch was a hot commodity in the second quarter of this year.

Apple Watch was hot on the heels of activity tracker Fitbit, the top device in the “wearable computing” market, according to IDC estimates. Apple has not released official smart watch sales figures.

Apple shipped 3.6 million smart watches to rank second behind Fitbit, which shipped 4.4 million units during the second quarter of this year, according to IDC.

Overall shipments of wearable computing devices leaped 223 percent to 18.1 million from the 5.6 million units shipped in the second quarter last year, IDC calculated.

“Anytime Apple enters a new market, not only does it draw attention to itself, but to the market as a whole,” IDC wearables team manager Ramon Llamas said in a note released with the figures.

Apple is set to host a September 9 media event in San Francisco, hinting that Siri virtual assistant software in its mobile devices will play a role.

In trademark enigmatic style, the emailed invitations provided little more than the time and place of the event. Beneath graphics based on the Apple logo was written “Hey Siri, give us a hint.”

The timing of the Apple event did not come as a surprise since the California-based company is known to host September events to announce iPhone updates.

Rumors about the coming event included the possibility of new iPhone models and news about Apple TV set-top boxes.

Industry trackers expect Apple to unveil new generation big-screen iPhone 6 models.

Improvements are likely to include faster processing power and improved camera capabilities along with screens that can distinguish light touches from hard presses for more nuanced controls.

Apple could also use the event to tout milestones including how well its smart watch is selling.

Samsung Gear S2 Circular Tizen-Based Smartwatch Launched

Samsung has launched the Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic smartwatches. The firm is juicing up its smartwatch lineup with circular faces and more battery life than the Apple Watch, but it’s unknown how many apps will be available for it.

The limited selection of apps is one of the main challenges facing Samsung’s smartwatches. They have been around for longer than the Apple Watch but haven’t generated as much interest or sales.

Samsung’s newest, the Gear S2, is based on Tizen OS, and faces competition not just from Apple but also from a variety of manufacturers using Google’s Android Wear software. According to IDC, Applewas the number two maker of wearable devices in the April-June quarter, with a 20 percent worldwide market share, behind the Fitbit and its fitness trackers at 24 percent. Samsung was fifth with 3.3 percent.

So far, outside app developers have focused their efforts instead on the Apple Watch and Android Wear watches. Samsung’s watches use their own operating system, Tizen OS, which means extra work adapting apps for them.

Samsung promised a variety of apps designed for the new watch’s circular face, but it didn’t provide details. The company said demos of the new apps will come Thursday at the IFA tech show in Berlin.

The Korean electronics company didn’t announce a price or release date Monday for the Gear S2.

The Gear S2 is the first Samsung smartwatch with a circular design, and the company says the watch’s frame will rotate to help users access apps and notifications. It’s not a new shape for smartwatches – Motorola and LG make circular frames, too, but the rotating bezel is a novelty.

The Gear S2 will come in two styles – the modern Gear S2, and the Gear S2 Classic. The Samsung Gear S2 will be available in a Dark Grey case with a Dark Grey band and Silver case with a White band. The Samsung Gear S2 classic will be available in a Black case with a Leather band.

samsung_gear_s2_classic_official.jpgBearing a 1.2-inch circular Super Amoled display with a 360×360 pixel resolution, the Gear S2 is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor coupled with 512MB of RAM.

It bears 4GB of inbuilt storage, and is IP68-certified dust and water resistant. The smartwatch supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity, apart from NFC, enabling mobile payments. The Gear S2 features an accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate sensor, ambient light sensor, and barometer. It is powered by a 250mAh battery that supports wireless charging.

The Gear S2 has dimensions of 42.3×49.8×11.4mm, and weighs 47 grams, while the Gear S2 Classic has dimensions of 39.9×43.6×11.4mm, and weighs 42 grams.

Apple Watch requires an iPhone, and the S2 will likely require an Android device from Samsung. Some models will have 3G cellular capabilities that let them do more without the phone nearby, featuring an ‘e-SIM’ with voice capability.

Samsung promises two to three days of battery life for the Gear S2, compared with Apple Watch’s 18 hours.

JK Shin, CEO and Head of Samsung’s IT & Mobile Business, commented on the launch, “For the past several years, Samsung has pioneered and advanced the wearables category, bringing brave new concepts to the smart wearables market. The Samsung Gear S2 reflects Samsung’s most progressive innovation. It is the perfect complement for any occasion, easily taking you from day to night, from work to workout-and ensuring that you get more out of every moment in your day, by making it smarter and ultimately more personal and fun.”

Dineout Acquires inResto, Adds Restaurant Management Features

Online table reservation website Dineout announced that it has acquired Bangalore-based inResto Service Pvt Ltd on Monday. Post this acquisition, the entire team of inResto will join the Dineout team in Bengaluru.

inResto’s cloud-based plug-and-play restaurant management solution will be marketed as inResto by Dineout, and will be used to provide restaurants an end-to-end restaurant management solution, from managing table reservations, to home delivery, takeaways, customer feedback, mobile payments, and loyalty programs.

Ankit Mehrotra, Co-Founder, Dineout said that the acquisition of the cloud-based CRM platform would provide restaurants a one-stop solution for restaurants, easing the process of table management, feedback, and marketing.

Vijayan Parthasarathy, Founder & CEO, inResto said that his application had seated over 1 million restaurant diners in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi in just six months post launch.

Dineout has apps for Android and iOS, and currently operates in eight cities in India, and lists over 1,500 restaurants.

Founded in 2012 by Vivek Kapoor, Ankit Mehrotra, Sahil Jain and Nikhil Bakshi, it was acquired by Times Internet, a subsidiary of Bennett Coleman & Company Limited in April 2014 in a deal valued at $10 million (roughly Rs. 66 crores).