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ExtraBITS for 11 July 2016

In ExtraBITS this week, Walmart Pay becomes available at thousands of Walmart stores throughout the United States, we learn why some apps are intentionally slow, the EasyDoc malware targets unsuspecting Mac users, and iOS 10 will help you register for organ donation.

Walmart Pay Now Available at All Walmart Stores -- CurrentC may be dead, but retail giant Walmart isn’t giving up on the dream of a mobile payment system that doesn’t involve Apple or Google. Walmart’s proprietary Walmart Pay system is now accepted at more than 4600 Walmart stores in the United States. Like CurrentC, Walmart Pay relies on scanned QR codes for transactions instead of NFC, but instead of linking directly to a checking account, it can connect to a credit or debit card or a Walmart gift card. We hope Walmart Pay will be more secure than CurrentC, but it’s hard to imagine it becoming a viable competitor to Apple Pay without support from other retailers.

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Some Apps Are Slow by Design -- Mark Wilson, writing for Fast Company, reveals that many apps — both those that run locally on your devices and Web apps — are intentionally slowed down, because users don’t trust apps that work too quickly. For instance, Facebook displays a fake loading bar when performing a security checkup, giving the impression of deep thought. Similarly, Wells Fargo had to slow down its mobile app’s retinal scanner because customers didn’t realize that it had worked so swiftly. Designers believe that they’ll gradually be able to remove the artificial speed bumps as users become accustomed to the technology.

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Beware the EasyDoc Mac Malware -- Bitdefender Labs has issued a warning about an app called EasyDoc Converter, saying that it’s dangerous malware that could give an attacker complete control of your Mac. EasyDoc Converter was available at the reputable MacUpdate Web site, and testers at Tom’s Guide were able to install it despite Gatekeeper being set to allow apps only from the “Mac App Store and identified developers.” Interestingly, the malware will not install if you have Objective Development Software’s Little Snitch network-monitoring utility installed. Read this as yet another reminder to be extra careful about what you install on your Mac — stick to software from reputable developers.

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Organ Donation Registration Baked into iOS 10 -- Apple has announced that it is teaming up with Donate Life America to offer organ donor registrations from within iOS 10’s Health app. Users will be able to use Health to sign up for the National Donate Life Registry as organ, eye, and tissue donors. Organ donation is an important issue for Apple because its founder, Steve Jobs, received a liver transplant in 2009 that extended his life by a few years.

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