Apple Pay Goes Live for Sparkasse and Commerzbank Customers in Germany

Apple Pay came to two additional big banks in Germany today, bringing the digital payment platform to millions more people in the country just over a year since it launched there.


As of this morning, customers of both Sparkasse and Commerzbank can add their Visa and Mastercard credit cards to the Wallet app. The Sparkassen-Karte Basis debit card is also compatible, but support for the Sparkasse giro card is coming later, sometime in 2020.

Apple's mobile payment system allows users to make contactless payments for goods and services in retail stores using their iPhone or Apple Watch.

‌Apple Pay‌ made its long-awaited debut in Germany back in December 2018 with multiple partners immediately jumping on board, but support from Sparkasse and Commerzebank was conspicuously absent on rollout day. The two banks previously said in June 2019 that ‌Apple Pay‌ support was coming later in the year.


Apple CEO Tim Cook said in March that ‌Apple Pay‌ would be available in more than 40 countries and regions by the end of 2019. ‌Apple Pay‌ first launched in the United States in October 2014. You can view the full list of ‌Apple Pay‌ countries and regions on Apple's website.

(Via Macerkopf.de)


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Germany Passes Law Forcing Apple to Open Up iPhone’s NFC Chip to Apple Pay Rivals, But Loophole May Exist

A parliamentary committee in Germany on Wednesday passed an amendment to an anti-money laundering law that would force Apple to open up the NFC chip in iPhones to competing mobile payment providers, according to Reuters. The report claims the law is set to come into effect early next year.


In a statement to Reuters, Apple said it was "surprised" about the sudden decision and expressed security concerns.

"We are surprised at how suddenly this legislation was introduced," an Apple spokesperson said. "We fear that the draft law could be harmful to user friendliness, data protection and the security of financial information."

As noted by German financial website Finanz-Szene, however, there appears to be a provision in the law that could allow Apple to keep the NFC chip locked down. Specifically, it appears that Apple might be able to argue that opening up the NFC chip would put the security of its customers at risk.

A rough translation of the passage:
Exceptionally, the system undertaking is not required to comply with paragraph 1 if there are reasonable grounds for refusal to make the provision available. These exist, in particular, if the system undertaking can demonstrate that the safety and integrity of the technical infrastructure services is specifically jeopardized by the provision of such facilities. The rejection must be reasonably justified.
Earlier this month, the European Union's competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager acknowledged that her department has received "many concerns" over Apple Pay and potential anticompetitive issues. Australia's big banks have also sought open access to the NFC chip on the iPhone in recent years.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tag: Germany

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Apple CEO Tim Cook Continues European Tour, Talks iPhone Pricing, App Store, Apple TV+ and More in Interview

Apple CEO Tim Cook is in Europe this week, visiting local Apple employees and App Store developers and even attending an Oktoberfest celebration.

Cook was in Munich on Sunday before traveling to Berlin, where he visited the offices of Blinkist, an app that distills non-fiction novels into bitesize text and audio snippets, similar to CliffsNotes.


Cook also sat down for an interview with German news site Stern, and his comments were published today in German.

On the topic of the App Store and an anticompetitive lawsuit the U.S. Supreme Court allowed to move forward, Cook said (based on Google translation from German) that "no reasonable person would ever call Apple a monopolist." He said that offering apps through the App Store isn't a limitation, but at an advantage because of Apple's rigorous App Store policies that keep customers safe from malicious apps and illicit content.
[Translated From German] "Customers buy an experience from us, and this experience includes a trustworthy place to buy apps in which we curate and check all applications. " As a result, many apps would not come to the iPhone, such as pornographic offers, explains Cook. "But anyone can take their iPhone and access that content in the browser, but we do not offer it ourselves."
Cook went on to address complaints about Apple offering its own App Store apps and competing with developers.
We have 30 to 40 apps - versus more than two million others." Cook compares the App Store to a supermarket: "The likelihood that it has its own brand is very high, and who benefits from having another product on the shelf? The customer, and that's a good thing."
On the topic of Apple pricing, Cook said that Apple always tries to keep prices "as low as possible." "Fortunately, we were able to lower the price of the iPhone this year," he said, referencing the $699 price point of the iPhone 11.

Cook also answered questions about Apple TV+. When asked about whether Netflix sees the Apple TV+ pricing ($4.99 per month in the U.S.) as a challenge, Cook said that he doesn't think competitors are afraid of Apple. "It's not whether Netflix wins and we lose, or we win and they win. Many people use multiple service and we're trying to become one of them."

Following his meeting with Blinkest, Cook moved on to France and met with Ubisoft and Pastagames and then visited students and professors at Polytech Montpellier. Cook also visited several Apple Stores, including Apple Kurfürstendamm in Berlin and Apple Odysseum in France.


Cook's full interview with German site Stern can be read in its original German (or through a translation) on the Stern website.


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Alexa to Support Apple Music Streaming in Germany From Today

Apple Music will be available to stream on German Echo devices via Alexa from today, reports regional tech blog ifun.de.


We've not received official confirmation, but if Germany's Alexa rollout follows a similar pattern to other countries, it should mean Apple Music subscribers who own an Echo device, Amazon Fire TV, or Alexa-enabled Sonos speaker will soon be able ask Alexa to play songs, artists, playlists, and more from Apple Music.

This functionality first launched in the United States in December of last year before expanding to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

Read our guide on how to set up Apple Music in the Alexa app, including how to make it the default music service so that you don't have to say "on Apple Music" each time you ask Alexa to play something.


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Apple Takes iPhone Privacy Marketing Campaign to Germany

Apple started underlining its privacy stance earlier this year with a billboard marketing campaign that began in Las Vegas and later came to Canada, and this week the company has extended it to Europe.


Brought to our attention by Macerkopf.de, the new billboards in both Hamberg and Berlin play on their location, while emphasizing how much importance Apple attaches to user privacy and data protection.

Draped across the Port of Hamburg is a long banner-style poster with a picture of an iPhone and an accompanying slogan which translates into English as "The gate to the world. Not to your information."


Elsewhere in Hamberg, an iPhone billboard on the side of a property reads, "Betrays as little about Hamburgers as Hamburger."

Meanwhile, in Berlin, a tower block billboard with the same recognizable iPhone image runs with the phrase, "Welcome to the safe sector."


All of the posters in Germany round out with the slogan, "Privacy. This is iPhone."

Apple's Las Vegas billboard, which was put up ahead of CES 2019, played on the well-known tourism saying: "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." The sign read, "What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone."


Apple has also made privacy-focused iPhone ads that have been aired on various TV markets around the world. The embedded video above is Apple's German privacy ad.

Apple has long said it believes privacy is a "fundamental human right," and as part of that, it aims to minimize its collection of customer data and disassociate it from an individual user when it does. The tech company also has a dedicated privacy website.


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Germany Says iPhones Running iOS 13 Will Be Able to Read NFC Tags in National ID Cards and Passports

When iOS 13 arrives, iPhones will be able to read a wider range of Near Field Communication (NFC) tags, including the NFC tags often used in official documentation. Last week, The Verge reported that Japan had confirmed its national identity cards would support iPhone through a government-developed app, and now we're hearing that German authorities are also gearing up to make several forms of ID compatible with iPhone NFC interfaces.

Image via iphone-ticker.de

First spotted by tech blog iphone-ticker.de, Germany's interior ministry has announced that iOS 13 will soon allow Apple users to load national ID cards, residence permits, and biometric passports onto their iPhones. At the same time, the federal government's AusweisApp2 will be updated for iOS 13 to support the digital ID function.

In current and earlier versions of iOS, Apple has restricted the NFC reader in iPhones to Apple Pay. iOS 13 removes that technical limitation so that iPhones can scan more NFC chips, but developers must gain approval from Apple before their apps can implement the feature.

In another example of Apple opening up NFC access, the U.K. government recently confirmed that it had reached a deal with Apple to make its Brexit app for EU citizens' residency rights work on iPhones via the NFC chip. According to the German ministry, it and many other states have been in contact with Apple for a long time to negotiate NFC access, so users can expect other countries to announce official documentation support in the run-up to iOS 13's release in the fall.

(Thanks, Chris!)

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS
Tags: NFC, Germany

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Powerbeats Pro Now Available to Order in UK, France and Germany

Apple's Powerbeats Pro totally wireless earphones officially went on sale today in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, as predicted. However, the fitness-focused, Beats-branded earphones are only available in black, and stock appears to be limited.


As of writing, Apple's online UK store is switching between allowing customers to add the earphones to their bag, and graying out the Add to Bag button to prevent them from doing so. Delivery dates are also flipping between June 6-10 and "coming soon."

If you're having trouble ordering Powerbeats Pro via Apple's online store, try the Apple Store iOS app, as it appears to be allowing more orders to go to checkout. Customers can also try their luck ordering through the Beats website, which is quoting similar delivery dates.

Powerbeats Pro cost £219.95 in the UK and 249.95 euros in France and Germany. They're Apple's first totally wireless Beats earphones, featuring the same H1 chip as the second-generation AirPods for hands-free "Hey Siri" and faster connection speeds between the iPhone, Apple Watch, and other devices. They last up to nine hours per charge, with more battery life available on the go via an included charging case.

Powerbeats Pro are similar to traditional earbuds, with silicone tips that nestle in the ear and an earhook to hold them firmly in place. The silicone tips come in four sizes, but the earhooks, which wrap around the ear, are one size, and make sure the Powerbeats Pro stay firmly in place during physical activity.

The earphones are initially available in black only, with ivory, moss, and navy colors set to become available this summer, although Apple cautions that color availability is subject to change.

Powerbeats Pro have been on sale in Canada and the U.S. since early May. In June they will be available in Australia, Singapore, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Austria, Italy, Spain, Ireland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, Mexico, and Brazil in June.

For more info on Powerbeats Pro, check out our Powerbeats Pro guide.


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Powerbeats Pro Orders Begin This Friday in UK, France, and Germany

Apple's totally wireless Powerbeats Pro earphones become available to pre-order in the United Kingdom on May 31, according to a social media ad posted on the official Beats By Dre U.K. Twitter account.


The date was spotted in the small print at the end of the 15-second video short, which features British professional boxer Anthony Joshua and touts the nine hours of listening time offered by the fitness-focused earphones. The promotional ad originally went out on May 27.

The black Powerbeats Pro have been available to pre-order since May 3 in the United States and Canada, with the first deliveries to customers arriving on May 10. However, they remain listed as "coming soon" on Apple's online U.K. store, while fine print on the Beats website for the U.K., France, and Germany simply states that the earphones will begin their rollout later in May.

Extrapolating from the U.K. date in the ad, and given how late in the month we now are, it's highly likely that Powerbeats Pro will also be available to pre-order in black in France and Germany from this Friday, May 31.

According to the fine print on other regional Beats websites, Powerbeats Pro will be available in Australia, Singapore, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Austria, Italy, Spain, Ireland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, Mexico, and Brazil in June.

The earphones are initially available in black only, with ivory, moss, and navy colors set to become available this summer in the United States and Canada, and most of the countries listed above, although Apple cautions that color availability is subject to change.


Powerbeats Pro are Apple's first totally wireless Beats earphones, featuring the same H1 chip as the second-generation AirPods for hands-free "Hey Siri" and faster connection speeds between the iPhone, Apple Watch, and other devices.

The Powerbeats Pro feature adjustable, secure-fit ear hooks and earbud tips with four size options. As mentioned, they last up to nine hours per charge, with more battery life available on the go via an included charging case.

Powerbeats Pro are priced at $249.95 in the United States, $329.95 in Canada, £219.95 in the United Kingdom, and $349.95 in Australia.

Thanks, Chris!


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German Court Throws Out Latest Qualcomm Patent Case Against Apple

A German court on Tuesday threw out a new patent lawsuit filed by Qualcomm, which the U.S. company claimed was violated by the use of its chips in Apple's iPhones (via Reuters).

The regional court in the city of Mannheim dismissed the Qualcomm suit as groundless in an initial verbal decision, saying the patent in question was not violated by the installation of its chips in Apple's smartphones.
This is just the latest in a string of lawsuits from Qualcomm, which remains locked in a worldwide patent battle with Apple. The chipmaker said it would appeal today's decision, after winning a separate case before a German court in December that enabled it to enforce a ban on the sale of older iPhones in the country.
"Apple has a history of infringing our patents," said Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm's executive vice president and general counsel.

"While we disagree with the Mannheim court's decision and will appeal, we will continue to enforce our (intellectual property) rights against Apple worldwide."
Apple declined to comment on the Mannheim decision and instead referred to a statement issued in response to the December ruling.

Apple is appealing the preliminary injunction which blocks the import and sale of infringing iPhone models in Germany, but it has already been forced to pull the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus from sale in the country.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm has put aside €1.34 billion in security bonds in order to enforce the preliminary injunction. The bonds will be put towards the cost of the lost sales if Apple successfully appeals the verdict.


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Apple Pulls iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 Models From Sale in Germany Amid Legal Battle With Qualcomm

Yesterday chipmaker Qualcomm announced that it posted €1.34 billion in security bonds required for the chipmaker to enforce a preliminary injunction on select iPhone models in Germany, after a court in the country found Apple to be infringing Qualcomm patents related to power savings technology in smartphones.


The injunction blocks the import and sale of infringing iPhone models in Germany while Apple appeals the verdict, and accordingly, Apple has now pulled the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus from sale in the country.

Those four iPhone models are no longer available to order via Apple.com in Germany and they have also been pulled from sale at all 15 of Apple's retail stores in the country until further notice. The latest iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR models are not impacted by the verdict and remain available.

Qualcomm's equivalent of $1.5 billion in security bonds will be put towards the cost of the lost sales if Apple successfully appeals the verdict.

Apple was also ordered to recall infringing iPhone models from third-party resellers in Germany, according to Qualcomm, but as noted by TechCrunch and Reuters, some German resellers continue to sell iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models.

In a statement, Apple said this verdict is another "desperate attempt" by Qualcomm to distract from the "real issues" between the two companies:
Qualcomm's campaign is a desperate attempt to distract from the real issues between our companies. Their tactics, in the courts and in their everyday business, are harming innovation and harming consumers. Qualcomm insists on charging exorbitant fees based on work they didn't do and they are being investigated by governments all around the world for their behavior. We are of course disappointed by this verdict and we plan to appeal. All iPhone models remain available to customers through carriers and resellers in 4,300 locations across Germany. During the appeal process, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models will not be available at Apple's 15 retail stores in Germany. iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR will remain available in all our stores.
Apple and Qualcomm are engaged in a major legal battle spanning multiple countries. The spat began in early 2017 when Apple sued Qualcomm for an alleged $1 billion in unpaid royalty rebates, just days after an FTC complaint alleging Qualcomm engaged in anticompetitive patent licensing practices.

In defense, Qualcomm has said its "innovations are at the heart of every iPhone" and "enable the most important uses and features of those devices," adding that it "simply is untrue that Qualcomm is seeking to collect royalties for Apple innovations that have nothing to do with Qualcomm's technology."

Qualcomm has also accused Apple of making misleading statements, sharing its trade secrets with Intel, and numerous other infractions.

Qualcomm sought a similar injunction on iPhones in the United States, unsuccessfully, and in China, where a court did issue an import ban on select iPhone models over patent infringement last month. Apple made some tweaks in iOS 12.1.2 to address the patents and continues to sell all iPhone models in China.


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