Stratos Smart Card Release Date: Today, costs $95 per year.

Stratos Smart Card Release Date

Coin was the first smart card that aimed to replace all of the credit cards in your wallet, but the company ran into manufacturing issues and despite its unveiling in November 2013, the device still hasn’t begun shipping. Plastc is likely the most exciting solution of the bunch, but we still have no idea when it will be released.

Stratos is yet another smart card that looks to offer a catch-all solution for the cards in your wallet, but there’s one key difference: It’s actually shipping right now.

Stratos on Thursday announced that its new programmable smart card has begun shipping to users who preordered the device beginning last month. As you may recall, the sleek next-generation card connects to your smartphone and allows you to store all of your credit cards and debit cards on one secure device.

Also of note, Stratos claims its card will work anywhere and everywhere that accepts standard credit cards. This is a huge selling point for the time being, since currently available mobile payment solutions like Apple Pay don’t work in most stores in the United States.

People who preordered the Stratos card will begin receiving their orders shortly. For those interested in the device who haven’t yet purchased one, the card is available on Stratos’ website for a subscription fee of $95 per year or $145 for two years.

Here’s a brief unboxing video:

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Apple Watch has as much RAM as iPhone 4.

Let's hope you never have to worry about theft. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Now that the Apple Watch is out in the wild, we’re starting to see teardowns of its internals. iFixit has shown us the Taptic Engine, Digital Crown and tiny battery, but it wasn’t able to pry open the little computer that runs the entire device, the S1.

It turns out that the Watch’s system-on-a-chip is truly the feat of engineering Apple made it out to be. It also reveals a couple of tidbits about the Apple Watch we didn’t know yet, like that it packs the same amount of RAM as the iPhone 4.

ABI Research managed to crack open the S1 and identify its components. The Apple Watch has 512MB of RAM, (or 4GB of SRAM), 8GB of flash memory and an impressively integrated accelerometer/gyroscope sensor.

ApplewatchPCBPR2

“The design is an obvious variation from Apple’s smartphones, with many high-end functions / chips included that normally would not be found in a simple watch,” said Jim Mielke, VP Engineering at ABI Research and head of the TeardownIQ group. “Judging by the complexity of the printed circuit board (PCB), and the number of parts on the PCB, one might think the Apple watch is a full-fledged cellular connected watch but in fact connectivity is limited to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC.”

The team at iFixit wasn’t able to get into the S1 because they didn’t have the right tools to loosen the “tiniest tri-wing screws” they’d ever seen. Apple calls the S1 an “an entire computer system on a single chip,” and it’s enclosed in resin to aid the Watch’s water resistance.

iOS 8 growth slowing, but still enough to shame Android.

iOS 8 adoption continues to pick up. Slowly but surely. Photo: Apple

We’re likely only a couple of months away from the first developer previews of iOS 9, but iOS 8 adoption continues to creepy steadily northwards.

According to Apple’s in-house stats — measured by visits to the App Store on April 27 — 81 percent of eligible iOS devices have now upgraded to Apple’s latest mobile OS. That’s up 2 percent from the last time Apple released its numbers.

Naysayers will likely point to the fact that this is slower than last year’s iOS 7 adoption, which hit a comparable 78% adoption rate just three months after its release. That’s certainly correct, but the fact that four-out-of-five iOS users are using the latest version of iOS is still a stat that would make Android stop dead in its tracks.

By comparison, Android’s two most popular builds remain KitKat and Jelly Bean — despite the fact that the second of these was released in 2012 and last updated in 2013. Android’s iOS 8 equivalent, Lollipop, was released just two months after iOS 8, but shows of up on just 5.4 percent of devices. Talk about fragmentation!

The recent iOS 8 growth was likely helped by the release of iOS 8.3 and possibly the Apple Watch. iOS 8.4 has additionally already been seeded to devs for testing, with the big new feature being a redesigned Music app.

Test iPad stolen from Cupertino home, not yet recovered.

Apple's latest iPad Air 2 tablet

Mercury News reports that an iPad test model was one of the items stolen in a robbery and kidnapping that took place at a Cupertino house earlier this month. Specific details regarding the device are sparse at this point, although it has not yet been recovered. The victim of the robbery was a 20-year old man who was also kidnapped after responding to an online advertisement from a woman. The victim is thankfully safe following the incident.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office would only disclose that the device was “a test model iPad from Apple.” The victim informed detectives that the device was one of the items stolen.  In addition to the test iPad, the robbers also took other electronic devices, prescription drugs, and cash valued at $7,500.

Interestingly, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has already made two arrests in conjunction with the kidnapping and theft, but the iPad has yet to be recovered. The two felons were accused of taking the items from the house, forcing the victim into their car, and driving him three-quarters of a mile away before releasing him.

This isn’t the first time an Apple test device has been stolen. The most well-known case was, of course, the iPhone 4 that was found in a San Francisco bar. The device was later sold to a reporter for $5,000 who posted images of the device. The reporter’s house was raided by authorities, even after the device was returned to Apple.

It remains unclear if the test iPad that was stolen this month in Cupertino was a next-generation prototype or an old test device. Nevertheless, it has yet to be recovered and is still out there somewhere. Perhaps most importantly, the victim is safe following the kidnapping. It’s unclear if the victim was an Apple employee.

Tattoos might make Apple Watch malfunction.

Using an Apple Watch with a tattoo gives some users a (s)inking feeling. Photo:

With a variety of bands, and price tags ranging all the way from $349 – $17,000, there’s an Apple Watch for everyone. Except, possibly, the heavily tattooed.

That’s according to a new thread on Reddit which claims that several tattoo-sporting Apple Watch customers are having trouble using the device, because the wearable’s wrist-detection feature gets confused by the way in which tattoos reflect the green and infrared light emitted by the Watch.

The result? People with tattoos don’t get notifications, unless they move the Watch to an un-tattooed area, or turn off wrist detection. Not exactly ideal for those with full sleeves!

“I thought my shiny new 42mm [Watch] had a bad wrist detector sensor,” writes one user. “The [W]atch would lock up every time the screen went dark and prompted me for my password. I wouldn’t receive notifications. I couldn’t figure out why especially since the watch was definitely not losing contact with my skin. [A]lso I couldn’t find anything online with people experiencing this issue. I was about to give up and call Apple … when I decided to try holding it against my hand (my left arm is sleeved and where I wear my watch is tattooed as well) and it worked. My hand isn’t tattooed and the Watch stayed unlocked. Once I put it back on the area that is tattooed with black ink the watch would automatically lock again.”

As a possible explanation, another Redditor writes that:

“Oxyhemoglobin has several local peaks of absorbance which can be used for pulse oximetry: one green, one yellow, one infrared, etc. Apple uses the ones at infrared and green parts of the spectrum. Now, here’s some key facts. Melanin and ink are both equally good at absorbing frequencies over 500nm, which sadly includes the green. But, melanin’s absorbance falls down so rapidly that by the infrared end of the spectrum its hardly absorbing anything at all. That, combined with the fact that Apple adjusts the sensitivity/light level dynamically means infrared is probably black people friendly. Ink has a much more gradual fall off, so even infrared might not work for them.”

While it’s possible to turn off the wrist detection feature, this also stops Apple Pay from working. We’ve reached out to Apple to ask if this is a problem that’s been reported elsewhere, and will update this post when we hear back.

Tattoo-gate, anyone?

Airbnb launches a brand new tablet app for Apple’s iPad.

Airbnb, the community-driven hospitality company, has just unveiled a brand new app designed for Cupertino’s tablet. You can download the application now on the App Store (it’s a universal build, with support having been added to the Airbnb iPhone app), and it’s available free of charge.

The app, which is also available on Android devices, promises users “a magazine-quality way to browse and book Airbnb.” It provides folks with access to the service’s 1 million listings, but when running on the iPad, Airbnb adopts an elegant appearance and feels “as beautiful as reading a glossy magazine,” the service promises. “From viewing treehouses in Costa Rica to villas in Tuscany, travelers can explore incredible destinations around the world in stunning high resolution images and then book their next trip directly on the device,” the company explained in a recent press release.

Alex Schleifer, head of design at Airbnb, said:

Whether you’re on your couch at home, at a coffee-shop, or on the bus, we wanted to ensure that Airbnb can always be with you. Our tablet apps were inspired by the elegance of magazines and coffee table books and we tried to instill some of that lean-back feeling as we thought about how to make the experience unique. Designing for a new platform allowed us to think much more broadly than simply scaling a mobile phone app to a larger screen, and, as a result, you can now efficiently explore listings around the world while enjoying a rich, inspiring experience.

The aim behind the update, you see, was for the tablet iteration of Airbnb’s mobile app to feel more like a picture book, “where a trip starts the moment a person flips it open.” As such, you can expect gorgeous photography in the release, as well as attractive, well designed typography, too. You can browse through items in the application or perform searches, and these integrate with maps in order to provide users with more information on a particular area.

Here’s a complete list of features, as outlined in a recently published press release:

  • Immersive maps that share more about the listings to help people decide whether to dive deeper into the content
  • Listing pages that showcase the cinematic images in high-resolution
  • Seamless flow through the app that reacts to touch rather than a point and click, which keeps people engaged as they move through the booking experience
  • An in-depth Discover page offering curated listings, wishlists, and experiences around the world
  • A message system specifically built for a tablet with dual-pane view for the first time on Airbnb
  • New navigation setup that offers a simple way to find upcoming trips

You can download the revamped Airbnb for iOS now on the App Store, and as of its most recent release, the app is optimized for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

In related news, Apple senior vice president of Design Jony Ive recently penned an entry for Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky as part of Time Magazine’s “100 most influential people” feature. The same feature saw Tim Cook get a mention, and here congressman John Lewis praised the CEO’s “grace and courage” as chief executive officer of the most valuable company in the world.

World’s first Gold-plated Apple Watch looks just like a real Edition.

apple-watch-edition-fake

Casey Neistat showed us a brilliant way to turn your cheapo Apple Watch into a luxurious gold Edition, but if you’d like to make your fake Edition look just like the real thing, you can now get it gold plated for a fraction of the cost of Katy Perry’s.

The Time Preserve watch restoration company is promises to match the exact tones yellow and rose color tones of of Jony Ive’s custom gold , thanks to custom-formulated gold electroplating. It’s not as cheap as a can of gold spray point, but for just $650, they’ll add a 5 to 6 micron thick coat of gold to any Apple Watch with the Leather, Modern Buckle, or Sport band.

The company posted a picture of what it claims is the world’s first gold-plated Apple Watch on its Instagram page today:

gold-plated

Prices for Apple Watch gold-plating cost between $650 – $875, depending on which band you have. That price obviously doesn’t include the price of the actual Stainless Steel watch, which you have to provide. Unfortunately, the process doesn’t work on the Sport’s aluminum body, but if you want something even super flashy, they also have options for Rhodium, Platinum, Palladium, and Ruthenium.