ExtraBITS for 16 November 2015
Good news for international travelers this week as Verizon rolls out new, improved international options. Comcast is testing a new streaming video service in the Boston area, T-Mobile is uncapping its LTE network for some video services, the Mac App Store is literally breaking apps, Apple Music lands on Android, and the increasingly chatty Tim Cook shares his thoughts on encryption, the PC’s decline, and Apple’s future in medical devices.
Verizon Wireless Rolls Out Better International Options — Verizon Wireless customers no longer have to purchase separate, overpriced plans when traveling abroad. With TravelPass, Verizon customers pay a flat daily fee to access their existing talk, messaging, and data plans: $2 in Canada and Mexico, and $10 in other supported countries. It’s still not amazing, but it’s better than before.
Comcast Testing a New Streaming TV Service in Boston — Comcast is testing a new $15-per-month streaming TV service, called Stream TV, but so far it’s available only in the Boston area to Xfinity Internet customers. It will include all the major broadcast channels, as well as HBO and others. The first month is free and there are no contracts required. Comcast says that it will expand the service to all of its areas in 2016. If you’re in the Boston area and have had a chance to try it out, let us know what you think!
T-Mobile Not Limiting LTE for Some Streaming Video Services — T-Mobile has announced a new Binge On service that allows customers to stream unlimited amounts of DVD-quality video over its LTE network from select providers like HBO, Hulu, Netflix, and Vudu. iTunes and YouTube are not yet included. It’s available to all Simple Choice subscribers on qualifying plans for no additional cost. Given that it allows only some providers to bypass T-Mobile’s LTE data quotas, we wonder if this service will run afoul of the U.S. Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules.
The Mac App Store Is Breaking Apps — Security certificates have expired for many popular Mac App Store apps, preventing them from launching. This issue affects 1Password, Acorn, Byword, DaisyDisk, and Tweetbot, among others. It’s up to Apple to provide a fix, but some users have reported that a reboot solves the problem.
Apple Music Arrives on Android — If you’ve been waiting to listen to Apple Music on an Android device, now’s your chance. Apple has released the Apple Music app on the Google Play store. The free 29 MB app lets you access your For You recommendations, playlists, and iCloud Music Library collection.
Tim Cook Speaks Out Against New UK Surveillance Bill — Apple CEO Tim Cook is warning against an investigatory powers bill that would oblige companies like Apple to help the British government bypass customer encryption protections. The bill would also give British law enforcement the explicit power to hack into computers and bug phones. Cook said of the bill, “Any back door is a back door for everyone. Everybody wants to crack down on terrorists. Everybody wants to be secure. The question is how. Opening a back door can have very dire consequences.”
Tim Cook Discusses the PC’s Decline, Apple Medical Devices — In an interview with The Telegraph, Apple CEO Tim Cook proclaimed that the new iPad Pro will replace PCs. “They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones,” he said. Cook also hinted that Apple may release medical apps and/or devices. But Cook said that he doesn’t want the Apple Watch to itself become a medical device, because seeking approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would be too long
of a process.