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Designed by M debuts Simple Stand for iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3

In anticipation of Thursday’s introduction of Apple’s iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 — leaked today by Apple — accessory maker Designed by M has already introduced the Simple Stand ($35) for iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. Simple Stand holds an iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 in portrait or landscape position, and it includes a built-in amplifier for sound. The aluminum stand hasn’t been added to the company’s website yet, but it will be available in December in black or silver.

Apple user guide reveals iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3 with Touch ID

Apple’s own iOS 8.1 user guide in the iBookstore reveals screenshots of an iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, both with Touch ID. Additionally, the guide shows a screenshot noting that iPad Air 2 will be able to use Burst Mode when taking photos. Based on the shots, it does appear that Apple will call the devices iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. As the screenshots in the user guide are for iOS 8.1, we’ll likely also see that debut tomorrow, as well. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple dropping Fitbit from retail stores?

  • October 15, 2014
  • Apple,

Apple is planning to stop selling Fitbit fitness products in its stores, according to a new report from Re/code. Although it’s unclear why Apple plans to discontinue sales of the Fitbit, this news comes shortly after Fitbit issued a statement that it was still “evaluating integration with HealthKit” in iOS 8. Several other major health and fitness accessory makers have already updated their apps for HealthKit integration, making Fitbit one of the few holdouts. Apple declined to comment on the basis that it doesn’t discuss its vendor partnerships. [via 9to5Mac]

U2’s Bono apologizes for automatic iTunes album download

A recent U2 interview posted on Facebook saw the band members taking questions from fans, and one of the questions concerned the automatic free download of U2’s Songs of Innocence album to iTunes playlists: “Can you please never release an album on iTunes that automatically downloads to peoples [sic] playlists ever again? It’s really rude.” The album was accessible for free to 500 million iTunes customers; early estimates claimed 33 million users accessed the album.

The question was posed to U2 frontman Bono, who answered, “Oops. Um. I’m sorry about that. I had this beautiful idea and we got carried away with ourselves. Artists are prone to that kind of thing. Drop of megalomania, touch of generosity, dash of self-promotion, and deep fear that these songs that we poured our life into over the last few years mightn’t be heard. There’s a lot of noise out there. I guess we — we got a little noisy ourselves to get through it.”

Ireland plans to end “Double-Irish” tax loophole favoring Apple, others

  • October 14, 2014
  • Apple,

Ireland is planning major changes to its corporate tax structure, according to Reuters, including eliminating the “Double-Irish” tax loophole that has allowed companies such as Apple to use Ireland as a tax haven. Addressing Ireland’s parliament, the government’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan stated that “aggressive tax planning by multinational companies has been criticised by governments across the globe and has damaged the reputation of many countries,” further promising to change the country’s residency rules to require that all companies registered in Ireland also be “tax resident,” thereby requiring them to pay taxes to the Irish government. The change takes effect on January 1st, 2015 for new companies, however the government plans a transitional approach for existing companies including Apple through the end of 2020. Last month, the European Union issued a “preliminary view” notifying Ireland that its tax deals with Apple and other large companies constituted illegal state support for those companies.

GT Advanced court filings show $50M penalty for Apple leaks

  • October 13, 2014
  • Apple,

Court filings from Apple sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies have revealed a number of details about Apple’s non-disclosure agreements, including a $50 million penalty for leaking any product information. Lawyers from GT are making the case that more information about the company’s relationship with Apple should be made public “in the interests of creditors and shareholders,” the Financial Times reports. This comes after GT, which recently declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, asked the court to void its “oppressive and burdensome” contracts with Apple. GT plans on winding down its operations and closing its manufacturing plant by year’s end. It’s unknown, however, if the $50 million penalty for leaking information is uniform for other Apple suppliers, as that number may vary.

Alleged iPad Air 2 parts leak shows A8X chip, Touch ID

Alleged components of Apple’s upcoming second-generation iPad Air were recently posted on Apple.club.tw, with a logic board that shows an A8X chip. While the iPad Air used the same A7 chip found in the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus contain an A8 chip, so it appears Apple will be once again making a separate processor for the iPad. The report also claims that iPad Air 2 will pack 2GB of RAM, as has been rumored. In addition to the logic board, the report also contains shots of the new iPad’s alleged Touch ID button and new display glass cover. Apple is expected to reveal its latest iPads on Thursday, Oct. 16.

iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus come to 36 more countries and territories this month

Apple announced that it will release the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in 36 more countries and territories by the end of the month. The new iPhones will be available in a total of 69 countries by October’s end, and Apple claims more than 115 countries will have the new iPhones by the end of 2014 — the fastest iPhone rollout ever. Starting on Friday, October 17, the phones will launch in India, Monaco, and China, while rolling out to more countries over the next few weeks. Chinese site Tencent claims more than 20 million preorders for the new iPhones have already been processed in China.

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Apps of the Week: Autodesk SketchBook, TeleStory, Reckless Racing 3 + more

New Apps

Autodesk SketchBook Mobile (Free) — A new follow-up app to Autodesk’s highly popular original SketchBook app, this entirely new version is a complete from-the-ground up rewrite designed to unite the mobile experience across both the iPhone and iPad, allowing digital artists to capture inspiration on the go. The new SketchBook Mobile features an enhanced drawing toolkit including new layer blending modes, improved selection tools for manipulating, transforming and drawing ins specific parts of an image, and a whole new set of synthetic and smudge brushes along with great new fill tools including advanced gradients. In addition, the app has also been optimized for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

 

TeleStory ($3) — From LaunchPad Toys, the creators of Toontastic, this new app is designed to allow kids to use their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to easily create and broadcast their own TV show. Kids can choose from a wide variety of themes such as music, space, or reality TV and then mix and match over 30 animated scenes and 50 digital costumes that track the user’s face to record their own TV show, and even add special effects along the way. Users can craft their own script either from scratch or using a provided collection of TV tropes, and then broadcast their final creation to LaunchPad’s “ToonTube” network to share with other kids around the world.

GT asks court to void ‘oppressive and burdensome’ agreements with Apple

  • October 10, 2014

Following news earlier today that GT Advanced Technologies has made a request to the court to wind down its operations in both Arizona and Massachusetts, MacRumors highlights a new pair of filings that reveal additional details. Specifically, in the first filing the company is asking the court to void its contracts with Apple, describing them as “oppressive and burdensome.” GT notes that the agreements are “not a source of potential value” to the company, its creditors or its investors and that the agreements “constitute an unnecessary drain” on the company’s resources. Despite asking for the agreements to be voided, GT has asked that it still be permitted to maintain its right to pursue further claims against Apple in relation to the agreements.

The second filing discusses the procedures the company plans to follow to wind down its sapphire production facilities, specifically to allow high-value sapphire boules that are currently being grown in the company’s furnaces to be completed—process that can take up to 30 days. The company expects to maintain a crew of employees to handle the process of monitoring and preparing the boules for sale, followed by smaller groups of employees that will be required to properly shut down and clean up the furnaces and facilities. The final closure is expected to come December 31, and GT projects that 890 employees will ultimately lose their jobs as a result of the shutdown. Apple has made no further comments on the matter beyond its initial statement expressing surprise as the bankruptcy filing and pledging to do what it can to help preserve jobs in the area.

Report: Apple to remove Bose products from stores

  • October 10, 2014
  • Apple,

Apple is preparing to completely remove all Bose audio products from its retail stores, MacRumors reports. While no reasons were given for the move, the report speculates that Apple’s acquisition of Beats may have caused Apple or Bose to “end their retail relationship.” It’s notable that Bose now has an exclusive deal with the NFL that prohibits players from wearing other branded headphones during televised interviews, and Beats headphones have long been popular with NFL players. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was fined $10,000 by the league this week after wearing Beats headphones during a post-game interview. Kaepernick, who has an endorsement deal with Beats, was wearing pink headphones for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Bose also sued Beats over noise-canceling patents in July.

Apple sapphire supplier GT Advanced seeking permission to close plant

  • October 10, 2014
  • Apple,

Apple sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies has asked the court for permission to close its manufacturing plant, Re/code reports. GT Advanced filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this week, and Apple said publicly that it was “surprised” by the filing.

As noted by the Wall Street Journal and disclosed by court documents, GT failed to produce sapphire for Apple’s iPhone displays. A court hearing on GT’s request to wind down operations will be heard on Wednesday, Oct. 15. While reports have suggested GT’s problems won’t affect production of the Apple Watch — other suppliers could be used for the sapphire sizes needed for the watch — Apple may have to adjust its plans for using sapphire in future iPhones.

GT unable to disclose bankruptcy details due to ‘confidentiality agreements’

Following its bankruptcy filing earlier this week, GT Advanced Technologies has asked for non-disclosure in its pending bankruptcy proceedings, stating that it cannot disclose the details surrounding its Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to “an unspecified confidentiality agreement.” A lawyer for the company told a U.S. Bankruptcy judge that the agreement in question prevented the company from disclosing the cause of the bankruptcy, or any plans it has for dealing with the bankruptcy. The court was also asked by GT to seal specific documents referencing a third party, and asked that the proceeding be closed to the public to avoid violating “existing confidentiality agreements” that could make the company liable for potential damages of up to $50 million per violation. Since Apple is known for its strict confidentiality clauses, and was working closely with GT Advanced Technologies, it seems extremely likely that Apple is the unnamed third party in this case, although the larger company was reportedly surprised by the bankruptcy filing earlier this week.

WSJ: Larger iPad production to be delayed

Apple is pushing back mass production for its planned larger iPad into early 2015, the Wall Street Journal reports. Sources said the company was prepared to start production this December, but overwhelming demand for the new iPhones has become the top priority. A previous report also claimed that the device would enter production in the first quarter of 2015. It’s still expected that the new iPad — often referred to as “iPad Pro” — will have a 12.9” display. The actual release date for the product is still unknown, especially considering a production timeline that is apparently evolving based on other factors.

Apple ‘surprised’ by GT Advanced Technologies’ bankruptcy filing

Following news earlier this week that Apple’s sapphire supplier GT Advance Technologies had filed for bankruptcy, Reuters reports that Apple has stated it was “surprised” by the news and is now considering its next steps. An Apple spokesman noted that the company “focused on preserving jobs in Arizona following GT’s surprising decision and we will continue to work with state and local officials as we consider our next steps.” GT has still not provided any real explanation as to its sudden bankruptcy filing, however the company has stated that it will clarify the situation during its first Chapter 11 bankruptcy court hearing, set for Thursday, Oct. 9.

Apple sends out invites for Oct. 16 event

Apple has sent out invitations to its upcoming event on Thursday, Oct. 16. “It’s been way too long,” says the invitation. As usual, the event will begin at 10 a.m. Pacific time. The company is expected to introduce its new iPads at the event, in addition to new iMacs.

Leaked photos of alleged iPad Air 2 show thinner body, Touch ID

  • October 8, 2014

A number of photos posted to Vietnamese blog tinthe.vn allege to show off Apple’s upcoming second-generation iPad Air. The shots show a thinner iPad Air — reportedly 7mm thin, about the same as the new iPhones — with Touch ID and recessed volume controls. Curiously, the photos also show no mute switch on the new iPad, though what will actually happen to the switch remains ambiguous. Speculation that the switch was removed to save space makes little sense, considering the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus retained the mute switch at the same thinness. Apple is expected to unveil the next-generation iPad Air on Oct. 16. [via 9to5Mac]

Google releases News & Weather for iOS

  • October 7, 2014

Google has released Google News & Weather, a free new universal iOS app that aims to bring users a complete dashboard of headline and local news stories and information. Boasting coverage from over 65,000 publications, the app allows users to get local news and weather based on their device’s location, and customize their layout with 60 country-specific editions and personalized news sections. Users can easily dig deeper based on individual stories to get additional related in-depth articles, opinion columns, local perspectives, and more. The new app employs Google’s new standardized interface found in many of the company’s other iOS apps, allowing users to swipe to access different categories or pull out a Google+ style sidebar menu.

Apple sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies files for bankruptcy

Apple’s sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies has announced that its has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company expects the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Hampshire to authorize GT to continue “business as usual” while focusing on reorganization. GT Advanced had approximately $85M in cash as of Sept. 29; the company is now hoping to obtain debtor-in-possession financing for a boost in funds. “GT has a strong and fundamentally sound underlying business,” GT President and CEO Tom Gutierrez said. “Today’s filing does not mean we are going out of business; rather, it provides us with the opportunity to continue to execute our business plan on a stronger footing, maintain operations of our diversified business, and improve our balance sheet.”

It’s unclear what the bankruptcy filing means for GT’s working relationship with Apple. Not only does Apple use sapphire for its Touch ID sensors and iPhone camera covers, but the stainless steel and 18-karat gold models of its upcoming Apple Watch will feature sapphire screen covers. There were reports that Apple would use sapphire more extensively in the newest iPhone 6 models, including front screen covers, but the parts never materialized. Reports have variously suggested that the sapphire screen covers missed shipment deadlines to be included in the iPhones, or that they failed damage tests prior to being included.

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