Apple Pay Support Expands in the United States and Other Countries

Apple Pay

Apple Pay, the tap-to-pay service for retail and app purchases, has expanded the number of partner financial institutions here in the United States as well as  five other countries.  The expansion comes just a few weeks after Brazil iOS users were added to the countries that support the service.

The expansion adds banks here in the United States as well as Canada, China, Italy, Russia, and Spain.  While the list of countries and banks supported by Apple Pay is substantially smaller than its main rival Google Pay, the expansion shows that Apple plans to continue to work with financial institutions and, in some cases, governments, for the service to work in other countries and with more banks.

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Apple Releases Second Beta of MacOS 10.13.5 to Testers

MacOS Icon

Following up on the release of the second beta of iOS 11.4, Apple has released the second beta of the next build of MacOS High Sierra, MacOS 10.13.5.  The update is available to testers who have registered their devices in the Apple beta program.  If you have a registered device, the update should be available to you through the Mac App Store.

Not much is known about what is included in this second beta as Apple tends to not release many details on it.  Given it is a “dot” release, it more-or-less focuses on bug fixes and performance improvements as well as refinements to apps on the platform.  One thing that is known is that MacOS 10.13.5 will bring Message on iCloud which is now also in the afore mentioned second beta of iOS 11.4.

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G Suite Can Now Allow Any App to be Installed on Managed Android Devices

Google G Suite

G Suite is getting a small but time saving feature for admins who have corporate owned Android devices, or devices with a corporate work profile.  They will now be able to allow any app to be installed on those devices, saving the tedious work of having to whitelist apps one at a time.  It is a change that will be rolling out to all domains over the course of the new few weeks.

To this point, if a corporate owned or corporate work profile device needed to install an app beyond what the admin’s had whitelisted, they had to go and approve that app for that specific device.  As you can imagine, this can be time consuming if you have a lot of corporate devices.  Now admins can allow any app to be installed but, and this is important, end users will still only see the whitelisted apps in the corporate version of the Google Play Store first.  It is only when they search for an app that they will be able to find it and install it.

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Android Oreo Jumps 3.5% in The Latest Android Distribution Report

Android Distribution Report April 2018

The Android Distribution Report for April has been released and it reflects a sizable gain for Android Oreo.  The latest version of Android, either the 8.0 or 8.1 builds, jumped 3.5% over the February report’s figures for the version.  It now is on 4.6% of all devices that went to the Google Play Store for the 7 day period ending April 16, 2018.  It is the biggest single jump for Oreo in the reports so far.

The gains have been helped largely lay the number of manufactures who have released the Oreo update for their devices.  Samsung, Sony, HTC, Nokia and OnePlus have all been updating devices in the two months since the last report.

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OxygenOS 5.1 Update for the OnePlus 5 and 5T Brings Oreo 8.1

OnePlus 5T

OnePlus has released OxygenOS 5.1 for the OnePlus 5 and 5T today, bringing Android Oreo 8.1 to the two phones as well as other improvements to the device.  On the OnePlus 5T, it also brings the new full screen gesture support which is similar to the gestures found on Apple’s iPhone X.  The gestures have generated a bit of controversy as they appear to almost directly mimic Apple’s gestures on their flagship phone – but the implementation in testing has been lackluster with multiple user issues.

Along with Oreo 8.1, OxygenOS 5.1 brings the April Android Security Update patches to the phone as well as a new optimizing gaming mode which pauses the adaptive brightness of the screen and has power saving features.

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iOS 11.4 Beta 2 Arrives for Testers With Several Improvements

iOS 11.3 Control Center

The second beta of iOS 11.4 has arrived for testers running their iPhones, bringing several bug fixes along with the new Messages in iCloud.  The beta is only available to those who have registered their devices in the Apple beta program with the official release of the new version expected to be late in May or early June.

The big new feature in this build is Messages in iCloud which returns to the beta program.  It originally showed up in the 11.3 beta program but was dropped and not released as part of that update.  It appears that Apple has been doing their homework and will allow users to enable it.  This will allow for new messages to be sync’d to your iCloud account along with photos and videos which will save space on your iPhone.

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Android Oreo 8.1 Begins Arriving on the Razer Phone

Razer Phone

The ultimate Android gaming phone, the Razer Phone, has its shiny new Android Oreo 8.1 update rolling out according to the company.  While it will take several weeks to get to everyone, once it arrives, you will get all the goodies that 8.1 brings along with some stability improvements and the latest Android Security Updates.

For those that don’t recall, the Razer Phone was borne out of the acquisition that the company made of Nextbit last year and their first phone is a powerhouse of a gaming and entertainment device, sporting HDR video and Dolby audio for Netflix to name but a few of its high end features.  Couple that with its 120MHz refresh rate and it provides a great gaming experience in your hands.

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Samsung Quietly Updates the Samsung Chromebook Pro with a Backlit Keyboard

Samsung Chromebook Pro

If there has been one almost universal complaint about the Samsung Chromebook Pro, it has been the lack of a backlit keyboard.  Many felt, me included, that for the price point of $599, it should have had this simple feature.  It would see that Samsung has listened.  Over the weekend, the product page for the Chromebook Pro on the Samsung site was updated and it highlights that it now comes with a backlit keyboard.

The price of this slightly updated Pro is $599, the same price as the original when its as released last year.  Based on the specifications listed on the product page, it appears to be exactly the same device as the first generation Chromebook Pro, just with the keyboard backlighting added.

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