Monday saw a few big changes at mobile payment startup Square, with the demise of the company's Square Wallet app and the launch of a new Square Order app, which allows users in San Francisco and New York City to order ahead for their next meal. No word on when the service will expand to other locales, but today's recap features a couple of other tech companies making life easier for all of their customers...
Apple Now Expedites Refunds from Online Store
Purchasing something from Apple's online store is quite convenient, until you have to return it and wait 10 days to get a refund. Reuters reported Monday that may no longer be the case now that Apple has started offering refunds for online purchases in under a week. According to retail research firm StellaService, Apple is now using expedited FedEx two-day shipping service, which reduces the amount of time it takes for a return with a prepaid shipping label to arrive at its destination — and therefore, cuts down on the amount of time for your money to return to your bank account or credit card. StellaService first noticed the change last November, but Apple's change has persisted well beyond the holiday season, suggesting a permanent change in strategy that benefits the customer.
Microsoft Touts 27M Downloads of Office for iPad
SuperSite for Windows author Paul Thurrott tweeted from Microsoft's TechEd event on Monday, where the software publisher touted "about 27 million downloads" for the Office for iPad apps since their launch in the App Store. There's no specific breakdown of individual apps, but Thurrott confirmed the download numbers were only for the top 10 markets, suggesting the download numbers could even be higher — although it's unclear how many of those installations are actually paying Office 365 subscriptions.
AT&T Introduces Option to Buy Online, Pick Up in Stores
Who doesn't love instant gratification? AT&T announced Monday that customers can now purchase a smartphone, tablet or accessory using the company's online store, then head to a retail location within one hour to pick it up. The carrier will notify customers when the item is ready via SMS text message, and AT&T will still offer the same customer service for setting up email or transferring contacts that they would if you have walked into a retail location to purchase in the first place.
Hyper Hits Kickstarter with World's First Lightning USB Flash Drive
Now here's a pretty unique solution to dealing with different ports on iOS devices and computers: Hyper has launched a Kickstarter campaign for iStick, billed as the world's first USB flash drive with a Lightning connector for use with an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. Making the right connection is as simple as toggling between the Apple-approved Lightning connector or the built-in USB 2.0 plug, and iStick includes a free universal iOS app for transferring documents, music, movies and more. Available in capacities from 8GB to 128GB, Hyper has already more than doubled their $100,000 goal at this writing and still has 34 days remaining, so pledge $65 or more and iStick can be all yours.
Twitter Adds Mute to iOS, Android, Web Apps
We've all got a Chatty Kathy or three on our Twitter feed, which is why the microblogging network's announcement Monday of a new mute feature is likely to come as welcome news. Now available with the latest iOS and Android updates as well as from Twitter.com, mute effectively silences all activity for a specific user, including tweets, retweets and push or SMS notifications while they're talking sports or maybe live-tweeting an Apple keynote event that you'd prefer to be spoiler-free. Not everyone will receive the mute feature at launch, but Twitter promises the feature will roll out to everyone "in the coming weeks."