Earlier this week, iFixit’s teardown of the iPad Air 2 revealed the unexpected presence of an NXP 65V10 NFC Controller chip. This is the same NFC chip found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, where it is presently used for Apple Pay wireless payments at retail locations. While Apple announced last week that the iPad Air 2 would include Apple Pay support, this was limited to storing credit card information for online transactions, and specifically excluded point-of-sale merchant payments, presumably due to the impracticality of using the much larger full-sized iPad for such things.
Despite speculation that the NFC chip is for an as-yet-unannounced Apple Pay enabled cash register, a search of the FCC’s device certification database suggests that Apple did not seek certification for any NFC functionality in the iPad Air 2, as it would have needed to do if the chip was to be used for wireless communications. Further, no evidence of an NFC antenna was found inside the iPad Air 2.
Apple notably filed a patent earlier this year to enable NFC and non-NFC wireless antennas to be coupled together, suggesting the possibility that existing antennas could do double-duty for NFC purposes. But if this patent was being used in the iPad Air 2, an FCC filing would have been required.
Updated: Through a source, a new report from 9to5Mac confirms that the iPad Air 2’s NFC chip will not be used for wireless transactions, and is instead serving only as a “secure element” to hold credit card information. iFixit notably has also discovered the same NXP chip inside the iPad mini 3, where it serves the same purpose.
Inbox by Gmail (Free*) — A new app by Google has been getting a lot of buzz this week for its approach to reinventing the way that e-mail is managed. The key benefit here is Google using its algorithmic magic to try and group your incoming e-mails into bundles based on categories like Travel, Finance, Purchases, Social, and so forth to make it easier to manage your incoming flow. You can pin individual items to mark them as important, and then sweep the rest away into your archive or trash at the push of a button. Each bundle gets its own notification settings, and you can create your own and automatically file messages based on the usual search criteria. Inbox also borrows a page from Dropbox’s Mailbox app, allowing you to snooze individual items to return to your inbox later, but takes it a step further with location-based snoozes, so you can file away that e-mail about getting that TPS report done until you actually get back to work on Monday.
Right now the iOS version of Inbox is available for the iPhone only, and you’ll need a golden ticket in the form of an invite to play. However, Google employees have been given stacks of invites to hand out, and those who have been invited already should get more to share, so it should only be a matter of days before anybody who really wants access can get it. Google is no stranger to this game, of course, pioneering an arguably revolutionary new approach to e-mail when it first debuted Gmail ten years ago. While only time will tell whether Inbox has the same impact, what Google has done here is definitely a very interesting approach to handling a decades-old technology.
Pixelmator ($5) — When Pixelmator debuted on the Mac a few years ago, it turned out to be a very popular choice for many users who might have otherwise defaulted to simply going with the considerably more expensive Photoshop, providing almost all of the functionality that most users really needed in an image editor in a seriously inexpensive package. The Pixelmator Team has now brought that same power to the iPad version in a $5 app that provides a plethora of image editing tools in a user-friendly app that feels right at home on iOS. Right out of the box, Pixelmator provides a nice collection of templates to get you started, and then takes you into an intuitive collection of tools for doing everything from adding effects to painting, color-correcting, retouching, and repairing.
As with its Mac counterpart, Pixelmator also provides full support for layer-based editing on the iPad, allowing you to select any part of an image and apply corrections or effects to it, or remove it entirely. You can also cut and paste objects between different images, and add non-destructive layer styles and change them any time. A huge collection of effects is also included to help you give your images that extra artistic punch, from vintage effects to bokeh lights. All of the typical image file formats are supported, including opening PSD files with layers intact. Best of all, Pixelmator is built specifically to take advantage of the latest-generation iPads for high performance, and it integrates nicely into the iOS environment, providing full iCloud Drive support rather than trying to get you to use its own cloud service, syncing your work across your Macs and iPads.
iLounge has posted an unboxing and comparison gallery for Apple’s new iPad mini 3. In a full photo gallery, we take a closer look at Apple’s newest mini tablet, along with photos comparing the iPad mini 3 to other Apple devices. More pictures will be added throughout the day. Also be sure to check out Wednesday’s iPad Air 2 gallery, and check back soon for our full reviews of both new iPads.
With the removal of the side switch from the new iPad Air 2, Apple has added separate mute and rotation buttons to the iOS 8.1 Control Center to replace the missing functionality, exclusive to the new device. The switch itself has had something of an identity crisis over the years, with Apple originally debuting it as a rotation lock when the iPad was first released, then later unceremoniously changing it to a mute switch before finally giving users a choice as to its function. The iOS Control Center has traditionally included a button to toggle whichever of the two functions was not assigned to the side switch; Apple has now removed the switch and simply added controls for both settings into the Control Center.
As was reported Wednesday, GT Advanced Technologies has now officially announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Apple. The announcement reveals GT will retain ownership of its production, ancillary, and inventory assets in Mesa, Arizona. GT will also be given four years interest-free to repay Apple $439 million – money that the company will earn by selling its sapphire furnaces. Although GT is leaving the sapphire production business, the company and Apple will “continue their technical exchange involving the development of processes for growing next generation sapphire boules.”
Our initial look at the iPad Air 2 reveals that Apple is bundling a 10W/2.1A power adapter with its newest iPad model – a step back down from the 12W/2.4A unit that has been included with the last two generations of full-sized iPad models. While a 10W power adapter would theoretically require longer charging times, iFixit’s recent teardown confirmed that the iPad Air 2 contains a smaller battery than its predecessor, suggesting a possible justification for the lower-powered adapter. It remains to be seen how much of a practical impact this will have, if any, in real-world use; the Air 2 may not charge any faster with the more powerful adapter.
Olloclip has introduced its new 4-in-1 lens system for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus ($80), with a new design that works with both the front and rear camera. The package includes fisheye, wide-angle, macro 10X and macro 16X lenses, along with three wearable pendants for carrying the lenses. The Olloclip 4-in-1 Photo Lens for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is available in five lens and clip color combinations. It can be pre-ordered from Olloclip’s web site and is expected to ship in late November.
iFixit has posted its complete teardown of the iPad Air 2, revealing some new details and confirming most of the specs. The article notes that Apple has revised a lot of the hardware from last year’s iPad Air, including: a fully laminated 9.7” IPS multi-touch LCD with 2,048 x 1,536 resolution at 264 ppi and an anti-reflective coating, the expected A8X 64-bit CPU with 2GB RAM and the M8 motion coprocessor, the 8MP rear iSight camera, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and the new Touch ID fingerprint sensor. The iPad Air 2 also gets the barometric pressure sensor added to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The battery is located below the logic board, and this year’s model packs a reduced-capacity 27.62 Wh package, down from the previous 32.9 Wh capacity. Although Apple’s claims of the same 10-hour battery life suggest more efficient power use, it remains to be seen whether this will be the case in practice.
The new Touch ID sensor design closely resembles the sensors found on the new iPhone models, using an NXP chipset. The camera was noted to be different from the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus version, but is also described as a “leap in quality” over the original iPad Air. The main logic board is also glued into the case, with the Lightning connector soldered on, making replacement or repair of the Lightning port a more difficult task. iFixit summarized its report by giving the iPad Air 2 a very low repairability score, due to everything basically being glued together and the fragility of the front display assembly.
Only two days into its rollout, some Apple Pay users are already reporting a problem with the service. Some Bank of America customers have seen two charges for the same purchase on their credit card statements after using Apple Pay to make transactions, as reported by CNN. The issue is said to be affecting “hundreds of customers.” A Bank of America representative told CNN that the issue was on Apple Pay’s end, but the bank was ultimately able to refund the money after some back-and-forth between Apple and bank representatives. A fix for the problem is expected to be released at some point today.
iLounge has posted an unboxing gallery for Apple’s new iPad Air 2. In a full photo gallery, we take a closer look at the newest full-sized iPad, along with photos comparing the newest Air to other Apple devices.
More pictures will be added as the day progresses, and be sure to check back for our full review of iPad Air 2, coming soon.
Apple has launched Apple Maps Connect, a new online portal to allow local businesses to add or edit their business listings for the Apple Maps service. Targeted at small business owners or their authorized representatives, the service is free and allows users to quickly and easily add content directly into Apple Maps. Users can sign in with their normal Apple ID and password, or can create a new Apple ID if they don’t already have one, or would prefer to use a different one for business purposes. The service is available only for U.S. addresses for now, but Apple says that it has plans to add additional countries “soon.”
Following last week’s launch of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, the new models are reportedly now available for sale in at least some Apple Retail Stores, and initial shipments have begun arriving for customers who pre-ordered the new models. Unboxing videos have already started appearing from customers in the UK and Australia who have received their pre-ordered devices, and a number of sources are reporting that the new tablets are now available for purchase online and in-store — although strangely, an Apple customer service representative responded to an inquiry stating that the new models are not yet available in-store. During last week’s launch event, Apple announced that pre-orders would begin October 17, but did not specify an actual retail availability date. [via MacRumors]
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been in recent discussions with a top Chinese government official concerning security, Reuters reports. The meeting comes following a report that Apple users in China have been targeted in a “sophisticated and widespread” attack by hackers looking to access private user data stored in iCloud. The report was released by Chinese web monitoring group Greatfire.org, which has also claimed that the Chinese government is involved in the hack—a claim strongly refuted by the Chinese government. Cook and Vice Premier Ma Kai met Wednesday in Zhongnanhai to discuss “protection of users’ information” and “strengthening cooperation and in information and communication fields,” according to the official Xinhua news agency. Apple also appears to have rerouted user data on Tuesday to circumvent the hack, Greatfire told Reuters.
GT Advanced Technologies has signed an agreement with Apple for an “amicable parting of the ways,” The Wall Street Journal reports. GT’s attorney, Luc Despins, told a U.S. Bankruptcy court that as part of the agreement, the two companies have agreed to file a revised explanation for GT’s sudden bankruptcy filing earlier this month — the companies will also withdraw court papers from the public record that outlined what went wrong in the partnership.
Earlier this year, Apple had financed a new factory in Arizona for GT Advanced Technologies to the tune of $578 million, and entered into a multi-year agreement to set the company up as a supplier of sapphire material for Apple products. GT’s bankruptcy filing earlier this month came as a surprise to Apple. Shortly after the filing, GT began asking for court documents in the bankruptcy proceedings to be sealed due to confidentiality agreements, and then later requested that the court void its agreements with Apple entirely. Although this latest news suggests that the two companies are working toward a peaceful resolution, court documents and proceedings in the case remain sealed, at least while the two companies continue to pursue their settlement.
Following yesterday’s roll-out of Apple Pay in the U.S., a number of users are reporting that the service also works with standard NFC terminals in other countries, provided of course that the user has registered a credit card or debit card from a participating U.S. bank. NFC terminals that accept VISA payWave or MasterCard PayPass cards will also apparently accept payments from an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus setup for Apple Pay with a U.S. card. Although Apple has only announced partnerships with specific U.S. retailers, Apple Pay unsurprisingly appears to use standard NFC payment technology, effectively allowing it to work with the NFC payment systems that are already extremely common outside of the U.S.
This suggests that the key to rolling Apple Pay out internationally will require integration with banking systems rather than point-of-sale retail systems in most countries, although Apple is likely involving retailers to ensure a commitment to supporting NFC technology in general and benefit from marketing the Apple Pay service as a practical consumer feature. Apple for its part has made no specific comments about rolling out Apple Pay internationally beyond a statement by Apple CEO Tim Cook during yesterday’s earnings call that “we can’t wait to sign up more retailers and extend it around the world.” [via 9to5Mac]
Apple’s conference call after announcing its Q4 2014 financial results kicked off with Apple CEO Tim Cook discussing the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple Pay, Apple Watch, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, the new iMac with a Retina 5K Display, iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.
Getting to the financial results, Cook announced that Apple saw its strongest growth rate in seven quarters, with a new record for Apple’s September quarter revenue. “Fuelled by the launch of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and strong demand for previous iPhone models, we set a new September quarter record for iPhone,” Cook said. He also noted that they set an all-time record for App Store revenue, which grew 36% since last year, and cumulative app downloads have now topped 85 billion.
Cook spoke with enthusiasm about the landmark partnership Apple forged with IBM to bring its Mobile First solutions to enterprise customers, with solutions launching across six sectors next month: banking, government insurance, retail, travel, and telecommunication.
Apple CFO Luca Maestri talked about how Apple exceeded its guidance range due to better than expected sales of iPhones and Macs due to customer demand growing year-over-year. iPhone sales grew over both developed and emerging markets, with 17% growth year-over-year in the U.S., and growth of over 50% in Latin America and the Middle East. Maestri went on to note that iPhone demand in the enterprise market remains strong, with 75% of surveyed corporations planning to purchase iPhones in the coming quarter. Referring to lower iPad sales, Maestri indicated that channel inventory was reduced in anticipation of the new iPad releases, and sales were consistent with Apple’s expectations, and sales increased in Japan year-over-year. iPad also continues to lead in the education market with a 90% share.
Apple also announced that it would be changing how it reports revenue categories beginning in Q1 2015, with the new categories being iPhone, iPad, Mac, Services, and Other Products. Apple Pay revenue will be reported under “Services” alongside iTunes content and App Store apps. iPod and Apple Watch revenue will now be grouped into “Other Products” alongside the Apple TV and iPhone, iPad, Mac, and other accessories manufactured by Apple.
Apple reported its fourth quarter 2014 financial results today, selling 39.3 million iPhones, 12.3 million iPads, and 2.6 million iPods. The company posted quarterly revenue of $42.1 billion and quarterly net profit of $8.5 billion, or $1.42 per diluted share. In Q4 2013, Apple had revenue of $37.5 billion and net profit of $7.5 billion, or $1.18 per diluted share. Gross margin was 38 percent compared to 37 percent a year ago. International sales contributed to 60 percent of the quarter’s revenue.
“Our fiscal 2014 was one for the record books, including the biggest iPhone launch ever with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. “With amazing innovations in our new iPhones, iPads and Macs, as well as iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, we are heading into the holidays with Apple’s strongest product lineup ever. We are also incredibly excited about Apple Watch and other great products and services in the pipeline for 2015.”
“Our strong business performance drove EPS growth of 20 percent and a record $13.3 billion in cash flow from operations in the September quarter,” Apple CFO Luca Maestri said. “We continued to execute aggressively against our capital return program, spending over $20 billion in the quarter and bringing cumulative returns to $94 billion.”
Despite the year-over-year increase in iPhone unit sales, the results notably included a year-over-year decline in iPad and iPod sales. iTunes/Software/Services and Accessories categories both posted healthy gains of 8 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
Apple has released Apple TV Software Update 7.0.1, the latest feature and content update for its set-top box. Apple has yet to update its release notes, so it’s unclear exactly what has changed in this latest update, it seems likely that it includes general bug fixes and performance improvements as well as changes related to the release of iOS 8.1 earlier today.
Apple has officially released iOS 8.1 to the public. Announced last week during Apple’s iPad Event, iOS 8.1 brings support for Apple Pay to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, enables SMS Continuity between iOS 8.1 devices and Macs running OS X Yosemite, enables iCloud Photo Library for all users and brings back the much-requested Camera Roll that was removed in iOS 8.0 to be replaced with a “Recently Added” album. A number of other smaller fixes and improvements are also included. iOS 8.1 is available other as an over-the-air update or by updating via iTunes on a Mac or PC.
Update: iOS 8.1 also resolves issues when using AirPlay mirroring from an iPhone 6 Plus to a second- or third-generation Apple TV. iPhone UI mirroring looks noticeably cleaner and completely fills the screen when the iPhone is in landscape mode.
Apple has quietly launched the web version of its iCloud Photo Library client in advance of today’s expected release of iOS 8.1. Users who have enabled iCloud Photo Library on their iOS devices can log in at beta.icloud.com where a new “Photos” icon should appear. The iCloud Photos web client generally mirrors the iOS 8.1 Photos app, allowing users to browse by Moments or Albums, select a moment or individual photo, and favorite, delete, or download individual photos or groups of photos. Notably, there does not appear to be any way to upload photos via the web client, and while all user-created albums appear in the web interface, only the All Photos, Favorites and Videos predefined albums appear here; other categories such as Slo-mo, Time-lapse, Bursts, and Recently Deleted continue to be available only on the iOS side. iCloud Photo Library is expected to be available to all iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users with the release of iOS 8.1 later today.