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Report: iPad Air 2 starts production this month with 8MP camera, A8 chip

  • June 11, 2014
  • iPad

Apple will begin producing displays for the new iPad Air this month, and other components for the device next month, Korean site ET News reports. The new device will reportedly feature an 8MP rear camera — a bump up from the current 5MP camera — and an improved processor, expected to be the A8 chip. It’s noted that the newest iPad Air will feature the same screen resolution and overall design as the previous Air. There’s no mention of Touch ID in the new report, though many expect Apple’s fingerprint scanner to be included. [via 9to5Mac]

New iPhone 6 4.7” leaks surface

Another set of photos of Apple’s alleged 4.7” iPhone 6 have surfaced, this time on the Weibo account of dreamerjimmy. Photos of both the front and back of the device are seen, shot next to an iPhone 5s for comparison.

The back of the device appears to match previous rear shell leaks, including a leak from a few days ago. It appears the front of the device is very close to matching a front panel leak, as well, although the camera hole seems to be a bit larger in this newest photo. [via 9to5Mac]

EU to investigate Apple’s Irish tax practices

The European Commission will launch a formal investigation into Apple’s tax practices in Ireland, RTE reports. It’s expected that the commission will officially announce the investigation tomorrow. Apple CEO Tim Cook testified on Apple’s tax policies to a U.S. Senate subcommittee last year. Recently, a March report accused the company of moving $8.9 billion in untaxed profits from Australia to Ireland.

iTunes Radio adds ESPN Radio, local NPR stations

ESPN Radio and a number of local NPR stations are now available on iTunes Radio. The stations are notably live streaming stations, rather than customizable iTunes Radio stations.

NPR launched its first iTunes Radio station, NPR News and Culture, in March. A search for “NPR” within iTunes Radio today turned up 41 local stations, though there may be more available. [via Apple Insider]

Apple plans 1,000 in-house ad/marketing employees, more competition

Ad Age has a new comprehensive report on Apple’s shifting strategies in advertising and marketing, claiming the company is “madly building an internal agency that it’s telling recruits will eventually number 1,000.” The article starts with an anecdote about a pitch from Apple’s longtime ad agency partner TBWA/Media Arts Lab being spurned in favor of an Apple in-house ad. That’s by design, as Apple is reportedly creating more direct competitions between TBWA/MAL and its own internal agency “with ‘jump balls’ to mine the best creative ideas, a controversial tactic with outside agencies, let alone an internal one.” One source said Apple has always used such techniques, but they’ve become more obvious since Apple’s internal agency is now winning most of those “jump balls.” Apple is also inviting other agencies to make pitches on major projects.

While Apple has poached a few top advertising names — including a number of recruits from the noted Portland, Oregon-based ad firm Wieden & Kennedy — candidates still have concerns, including skepticism about the company’s creative direction. “I don’t feel that energy from Apple,” said a top agency exec who was approached by Apple. “The revolution has come and gone, and I’m not sure a job at Apple would be a creative opportunity. If I were going to go brand-side, there are a lot more interesting companies I’d rather work for, like Coke or Pepsi.” Another executive cited the high cost of living in Cupertino as an issue. The article adds a tremendous amount of background to a recent report noting Apple was now producing more ads in-house; the move wasn’t completely surprising considering Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller’s vocal displeasure with Media Arts Lab, as seen in January 2013 emails released in an April report.

Apps: FIFA 2.0, Kindle 4.3, Sky Force 2014 + Sleep Genius

FIFA has updated its free FIFA Official App before the start of the World Cup this week. As one might expect, the updated app has more information about the World Cup, including the latest news, rosters, schedule, and information on the Brazilian stadiums and cities hosting the tournament. Another upcoming update that FIFA claims will come before the tournament kicks off — in the next few days — will give users a way to follow live game action and participate in “the biggest football conversation in history” with other users.

Amazon’s free Kindle app has updated to version 4.3, introducing the integration of Audible audiobooks. Customers who own the Kindle and Audible versions of a book can now listen to the audiobook from within the Kindle app. Users can switch back and forth between reading a Kindle book and listening to the book, or read and listen at the same time as the pages turn automatically. More than 45,000 Kindle/Audible book pairs are available. Additionally, the app now lets users download an entire collection of books at once.

Dev: iOS 8 includes code for side-by-side apps

iOS 8’s SpringBoard includes code to run two apps side-by-side, according to a tweet from developer Steven Troughton-Smith. He notes that the code anticipates that side-by-side apps will be run at 1/4, 1/2, or 3/4 size. While a previous report noted that Apple would add split-screen multitasking to iOS 8, Apple did not discuss the feature during its WWDC keynote.

Troughton-Smith noted in another tweet that side-by-side apps show up as one “screen” while switching through apps. It’s unclear if the feature will be activated upon iOS 8’s launch, or saved for a future release, such as iOS 8.1. Also uncertain is whether the feature will work on all iOS devices, just on iPads, or only on larger iPads.

FOIA request reveals Apple, FDA medical sensor discussion

Apple and the FDA discussed Apple’s interest in including medical sensors in mobile devices, according to a report from Apple Toolbox, which filed a Freedom of Information Act request to gain insight into Apple’s December meeting with the FDA. The response notes that “[w]ith the potential for more sensors on mobile devices, Apple believes there is the opportunity to do more with devices, and that there may be a moral obligation to do more.” It’s also explained that while sensors would not necessarily mean a device must be reviewed by the FDA, the FDA would likely regulate any software that uses those sensors for medical purposes.

A glucometer, which measures blood sugar level, was cited as a specific example — it would be regulated if the software was marketed toward diabetics, under the label of diagnostic software. If only used to monitor blood sugar for nutritional reasons, a glucometer could be unregulated. Apple also received guidance for Mobile Medical Apps, which was likely a stand-in name for the company’s now announced HealthKit. The FDA noted that “Apple will work closely with FDA as they develop future products.” It’s widely believed Apple will include biometric sensors in its upcoming iWatch.

Report: Apple rejects apps rewarding video ads, social sharing

Apple is now cracking down on apps that reward users for watching videos or sharing socially, according to TechCrunch. App developers are now reportedly receiving rejection notices as Apple cites sections 2.25 and 3.10 in its App Store Review Guidelines. Section 2.25 reads: “Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected, unless designed for a specific approved need (e.g. health management, aviation, accessibility, etc.) or which provide significant added value for a specific group of customers,” and section 3.1 reads: “Developers who attempt to manipulate or cheat the user reviews or chart ranking in the App Store with fake or paid reviews, or any other inappropriate methods will be removed from the iOS Developer Program.” The latter section suggests that Apple has become concerned about apps containing content that may influence the App Store’s charts.

One developer said his app was rejected even though it had already been released four times before, and the report claims the new rejections may also be applied retroactively. It will be interesting to see how many apps Apple will reject or pull based on these guidelines, especially considering that many popular apps have benefitted from such techniques for quite some time.

Apple looking for ‘high-profile’ corporate communications VP

Apple is hoping to find some “high-profile external candidates” in its search for a new VP of worldwide corporate communications, Re/Code reports. The company is looking to fill the position vacated by longtime PR chief Katie Cotton, whose retirement was announced last month. CEO Tim Cook is reportedly overseeing the search. The report claims Apple has strong internal candidates in Steve Dowling and Natalie Kerris, but notes that Cook is searching for someone who “could put a friendlier, more approachable face on Apple’s public relations efforts.”

iOS 8 randomizes MAC addresses when searching for Wi-Fi

As tweeted by Swiss programmer Frederic Jacobs on Sunday, iOS 8 will randomize a device’s MAC address while scanning for available Wi-Fi networks. Companies are currently able to use device-specific MAC addresses to
track the location of devices — for instance, MAC addresses allow retailers to recognize if a customer has been in the store before, though further personal information is not disclosed.

A randomized MAC address would render such data useless to retailers. While Apple would seemingly be preventing marketers from being able to track devices, the move would likely put pressure on retailers to use iBeacon, Apple’s own indoor proximity system that could provide the same data to retailers. [via Quartz]

New photos of alleged iPhone 6 rear shell surface

New photos of the alleged 4.7” iPhone 6 rear shell have surfaced on Xiaolongchakan.com. The new photos match another photo of the alleged shell in late May, albeit without a sticker on the shell.

It now appears as if the majority of the end pieces are made from the same metal as the middle piece, though it’s still unclear what material forms the D-shaped outlines. The new photos also include side views of the shell, which show the sleep/wake/power button moved to the side of the device, as anticipated. An interior structure image appears to be consistent with Apple parts.

Dr. Dre profile highlights perfectionism, mysterious process

A Wall Street Journal profile of Beats Electronics co-founder and new Apple executive Dr. Dre says that the vaunted producer and rapper is a perfectionist, and “serves as Beats’ ‘cultural barometer’ of what is cool,” but uses a “mysterious process” and is “rarely seen at Beats headquarters.” In detailing the highlights of Dre’s career, the profile notes that Dre has released only two solo albums since 1992, with a third album called Detox long in gestation, as he focused on producing songs for other artists. While working with Beats, Dre’s “main obsession is perfecting the sound of the company’s signature high-end headphones,” but the “fitness-obsessed” producer also weighed in on advertising, fonts, and elements of the Beats Music streaming service, rapidly dismissing “corny” ideas and disregarding “artificial deadlines.” According to the article, Dre worked to keep the company’s ads focused on sound with an “insider message,” and resisted attempts to expand Beats’ appeal beyond its predominantly male, under 24-year-old core consumer. The WSJ notes that Dre’s seeming lack of productivity could be an issue for Apple, which has not commented on whether Dre and Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine will have employment contacts with the company.

Report: Apple Maps improvements derailed by internal politics

A new report from TechCrunch purports to explain the absence of major improvements this year to Maps, Apple’s iOS and OS X competitor to Google Maps, blaming bad “planning, project management, and internal politics” for delays of features that were expected to debut at the Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC) last week. In March, 9to5Mac listed a collection of enhancements planned for Maps, including enhanced and more reliable point of interest data, a cleaner cartography design, and public transit directions, the latter depicted by the publication in rendered screenshots. None of these features was actually announced during WWDC; Apple instead briefly noted Maps improvements for Chinese users, and added an M7 processor-dependent indoor positioning feature.

According to two TechCrunch sources, Apple project managers improperly planned and failed to deliver the other intended improvements on time; one of the sources also suggested that “many developers left the company.” Apple has been purchasing mapping and potentially map-related companies for years, though it has rarely commented specifically on the acquisitions, and it’s unclear how many of the companies’ employees have remained at Apple thereafter. Soon after the widely-panned debut of Maps, Apple Senior VP Eddy Cue was given responsibility for fixing the app, though improvements have been mostly under-the-radar since then.

iLounge Weekly arrives Monday, giveaway reminder

The latest edition of iLounge Weekly, our weekly newsletter covering all things iLounge, will be arriving in subscribers’ inboxes early next week. iLounge Weekly is a summary of the week’s best news, reviews, and feature articles we’ve published, and it also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address, if you haven’t done so already.

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Also don’t forget to enter our uNu DX-5 Battery Case Giveaway! This month, iLounge and uNu are giving away fifteen uNu DX-5 Battery Cases for the iPhone 5 and 5s in three different colour options. To enter, simply fill out and submit the form on the giveaway page; the giveaway ends June 30, 2014 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Good luck!

iLounge Game Spotlight: Final Kick, Penalty Cup Soccer 2014 + Pixel Cup Soccer

This week, we’ll be taking a look at three recent soccer games that have hit the App Store in time for the World Cup, which starts next week. First up are Final Kick (free) and the laboriously titled Penalty Cup Soccer 2014 — World Edition: Football Champion of Brazil (free), both games that focus on penalty shootouts. The other is Pixel Cup Soccer ($2), a full arcade-style soccer game.

Final Kick from Ivanovich Games claims to be “the best penalty shootout.” Players switch back and forth between the shooter and goalie. Shots are taken — and saves are made — by swiping across the screen. The graphics are very impressive for a free game. In-app purchases are available, but they’re not needed to enjoy the game. There are, however, annoying features such as the game making you watch a video ad to continue playing its offline tournaments. It’s not entirely unexpected from a free game.

Report: Apple acquires social search engine Spotsetter

Apple has acquired Spotsetter, a social search engine, TechCrunch reports. According to Spotsetter’s website, the search engine “provides personalized recommendations for places to go.” The deal was reportedly made to acquire Spotsetter’s technology and its two founders, Stephen Tse and Johnny Lee, with some of the Spotsetter team also joining Apple. It seems likely that Apple would want to work the technology into its Maps app in the future.

Six days ago, an announcement on the Spotsetter blog noted the Spotsetter app was being closed down. The app allowed users to access personalized place results through its search engine in a manner somewhat similar to Foursquare — though the app used data from a number of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Instagram. Apple has yet to comment on the report.

Apple to intro in-store prepaid and month-to-month iPhone plans

Apple is readying prepaid and month-to-month plans for iPhones in its retail stores, 9to5Mac reports. A source claims the move is being made to boost iPhone sales. Customers will soon be able to purchase a full-price iPhone, and then connect it to prepaid or month-to-month calling and data plans while in the store. It’s noted that Apple will partner with AT&T and T-Mobile for the new initiative.

Apple will use AT&T GoPhone activation kits and SIM cards, and existing T-Mobile SIM cards. Training will commence soon, and it’s expected these plans will be offered by the last week of June. Retail employees will reportedly be pushing AT&T’s $60 per month prepaid plan, and two T-Mobile plans costing $50 or $70 per month. Notably, it’s also claimed that the devices must be activated in store and cannot be returned for a refund.

PayPal looking to integrate Touch ID into mobile payments

PayPal is “moving quickly” to integrate the iPhone 5s’ Touch ID into its mobile payment apps, Business Insider reports. PayPal developers recently attended a session on Touch ID at WWDC. “It seems to be a fairly easy API to use, but we’re still kicking the tires,” a source from PayPal said. Currently, Touch ID can only be used to unlock the phone or authorize iTunes Store purchases, but Apple announced at WWDC the feature would be opened up to developers.

Poll: What new feature are you most looking forward to in iOS 8?

With Apple having taken the wraps off iOS 8 at this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, we’re curious to know what you, our readers, think is the single most significant feature that was announced this week. Does the idea of seamlessly integrating your Mac, iPhone, and iPad experience with Apple’s new Continuity feature excite you, or do you have a family full of iOS devices and are looking forward to finally being able to share your content with Family Sharing? Is iCloud Drive a viable replacement for other cloud services you may be using such as Dropbox or Google Drive, or do your interests lean more toward the new Health app features. You can let us know by casting your vote on these and other improvements in this week’s poll: What new feature are you most looking forward to in iOS 8? You can vote below or find the poll by clicking on the “Vote” button in the right column of any of our pages. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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