Apple hikes UK App Store prices by 25 percent because Brexit

If you’re an iPhone, iPad or Mac user in the UK, prepare yourself: App Store prices are on the rise. As 9to5Mac reports, developers are being notified that their software will soon be bumped up in price. Apps worth 79 pence before will soon cost 99 pence, while those priced at £1.49 will rise to £1.99. Similar increases will be seen at higher price points too — video games with a £7.99 price-tag, such as Nintendo’s Super Mario Run, will soon shoot up to £9.99, for instance. The reason? Almost certainly Brexit, and the negative impact it’s having on the pound at the moment.

An Apple spokesperson said: “Price tiers on the App Store are set internationally on the basis of several factors, including currency exchange rates, business practices, taxes, and the cost of doing business. These factors vary from region to region and over time.”

The timing couldn’t be worse for UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who will announce later today that Britain is leaving the European single market. The pound slipped to a 31-year low against the dollar last week, and today dropped below the euro too. These fluctuations are tied to the ongoing uncertainty around Britain and the trade deals it will be able to negotiate once May triggers Article 50, the political starting pistol for the nation’s exit from the European Union.

Apple isn’t the only technology company adapting to Brexit uncertainty. Last year, the OnePlus 3 and HTC Vive received small, but significant price increases in the UK. Tesla announced a similar move for its electric vehicles in December — the implementation was pushed from January 1st to 15th, however — upping sticker prices by 5 percent to accommodate for the shifting currency. Apple has been doing the same, albeit quietly, for some of its key hardware, including the iPad Pro and iPhone 7. We wouldn’t be surprised if more companies follow their lead in the next few months.

Source: 9to5Mac

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Apple Pay transactions surge by 500 percent

Mobile payments are all the rage among tech companies, but how successful have they been, really? Quite successful, if you ask Apple. While discussing its latest earnings, the Cupertino firm revealed that Apple Pay purchases were up 500 percent year-over-year in the third quarter. In fact, there were more transactions this September than in all of Apple’s fiscal 2015 — not bad for a tap-to-pay service that’s still unavailable in many parts of the world, not to mention many stores. Apple didn’t say what prompted the spike, but there are a handful of factors beyond any increases in popularity.

One major component: regional expansion. The launch of Apple Pay in China may have played the biggest role, but there was also a steady stream of expansions to key markets like Australia, Canada and swaths of Asia and Europe. Also, there were simply more people with Apple Pay-capable devices. You had to buy one of two high-end iPhones (the 6 and 6 Plus) to use Apple Pay throughout most of fiscal 2015, but the service was an option across all of Apple’s phone lineup by the time the iPhone SE arrived in March of this year. That’s also excluding those people who may have an iPhone 5 or 5s and are using an Apple Watch for their payments.

Whatever is involved, it’s likely that Apple Pay will see continued growth for at least a while. The payment system reached both Japan (as of iOS 10.1) and Russia in October, and there’s still room for both more countries as well as additional cards and stores in existing regions.

The question is whether or not Apple still has a lead in this fledgling industry. The company hasn’t divulged its latest transaction numbers, you see. Samsung was quick to boast about having 100 million transactions for its own service in August, but the lack of context makes it difficult to say whether it’s catching up (Apple is estimated to have racked up $ 10.9 billion in purchases in 2015) or trailing behind. About the only certainty is that Google’s Android Pay will need to grow faster if it’s going to latch on. It only just reached the UK in May, and card support isn’t as broad as you get with its rivals.

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Verizon’s ‘LTE Advanced’ network promises 50 percent higher speed

Every wireless carrier has various tests that say its network is the best, but most still view Verizon as the best overall choice when looking for that all-important combo of speed and reliability. (That combo doesn’t come cheap, of course.) Today, the company is announcing a new focus on speed: with the rollout of “LTE Advanced,” Verizon claims that users will see “50 percent higher peak speeds.” The new speed bump is available to users in 461 cities across the country. Of course, it’s going to take significant testing to verify the veracity of Verizon’s claims.

Verizon says that LTE Advanced works by combining the multiple bandwidth channels your phone can use into what’s effectively one bigger, faster pipe to your phone. “Typical” download speed will stay around 5 to 12 Mbps, but combining two channels can net peak speeds up to 225 Mbps — that’s a lot faster than most home broadband, let alone what you’ll usually see on your smartphone. The carrier also says that it can combine three channels for speeds close to 300 Mbps.

Verizon’s estimates for “typical” speeds seem low to us, but there’s no question that two- or three-channel speeds are significantly faster than what the carrier currently offers. Even if Verizon only reaches half of what it promises for peak speeds, it’s a pretty significant boost over the status quo.

It’s not at all clear what circumstances will let your phone take advantage of these higher speeds, however. Verizon vaguely says that it’ll kick in “when you need it most,” typically under conditions with “big data use.” Still, the potential for faster download speeds can’t hurt.

To take advantage of LTE Advanced, you’ll need a relatively recent smartphone — Verizon says Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and S7 are compatible with the service, as well as various Moto Droids and iPhone models. You can see the full list of compatible devices here, and the full list of LTE Advanced cities can be found here.

Source: Verizon

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