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New iPad Smart Cases, Covers shown for iPad Air 2

  • October 16, 2014

Alongside today’s announcement of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, Apple has updated the prior $39 iPad Smart Covers and $69-$79 iPad Smart Cases. Apple’s iPad Air Smart Cover now comes in seven colors—blue, red, yellow, green, black, white, or red—each made from polyurethane, and compatible with the iPad Air and iPad Air 2. By comparison, the leather iPad Air 2 Smart Case comes in five different colors, namely black, white, brown, blue, or red, and covers virtually the entire Air 2 when closed. It is not compatible with the original iPad Air.

Apple unveils iPad mini 3, renames Retina iPad mini to iPad mini 2

Apple has debuted the newest edition of its 7.9” tablet, which it’s calling iPad mini 3. The new iPad mini 3 includes Touch ID, and it comes in silver, space gray, and gold. It notably continues to have an A7 processor, not an A8 or A8X, and does not include any of the wireless or camera upgrades found in the iPad Air 2.

iPad mini 3 starts at $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, $499 for 64GB, and $599 for 128GB. Cellular + Wi-Fi models add $130 to each model. Like iPad Air 2, preorders for iPad mini 3 start Friday, Oct. 17, and the tablet ships by the end of next week.

Additionally, the former “iPad mini with Retina display” has been renamed “iPad mini 2” to more clearly differentiate it from its predecessor and successor. It will be offered in 16GB ($299/$429) and 32GB ($399/$529) models.

Apple debuts iPad Air 2

Apple has officially introduced the newest edition of its full-sized tablet today with the debut of iPad Air 2. Touch ID, first seen in iPhone 5s and included within iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, has been added to the tablet. The side switch has been removed, and it appears to have been replaced by another microphone.

iPad Air 2 is 6.1 mm thin, 18 percent thinner than the previous iPad Air. A single-component display reduces internal reflection with a sharper image. The screen also now has an anti-reflective coating, and reflections are reduced by 56 percent.

A new chip, A8X, has been created specifically for iPad Air 2. The second-generation 64-bit architecture chip is 40 percent faster. The GPU is 2.5x faster than iPad Air. iPad Air 2 has 10-hour battery life and an M8 coprocessor that can track elevation and motion.

A new iSight camera has been added to the new Air — an 8MP camera that can shoot 1080p HD video. Burst mode is also available on the iPad Air 2 camera. Slo-mo videos have also been added to video recording — 120 fps at 720p. A new FaceTime camera with an all new sensor has also been included in iPad Air 2 — improved face detection, burst selfies, HDR videos, and single-shot HDR photos are all included.

Faster Wi-Fi — 802.11 ac with MIMO — and faster LTE with 20 LTE bands are featured in iPad Air 2.

iPad Air 2 comes in silver, space gray and gold, and will cost $499 for 16GB Wi-Fi only, $599 for 64GB, and $699 for 128GB. Cellular prices are $130 more for each model.

Pre orders begin Friday, Oct. 17, and the iPad Air 2 will ship next week.

iPad stats: 225 million sold, 675,000 apps

  • October 16, 2014
  • iPad,

During his introduction of new iPads today, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that 225 million iPads have already been sold—70 million of them in the last 12 months, outstripping the unit sales of any PC manufacturer over the past year. Cook also noted that the product has a 100% customer satisfaction rating, and now has 675,000 iPad-specific apps available.

Apple formally debuts iTunes 12 after three months of betas

Oddly released without any fanfare in beta form to developers back in July, iTunes 12 has officially debuted at Apple’s media event today. As noted in our What’s New in iTunes 12 article, the Mac and PC application has received a “flatter” cosmetic overhaul inspired by iOS 7 and iOS 8. It largely does away with the traditional sidebar found in earlier versions of iTunes — a feature that was hidden but still present in iTunes 11 — to embrace a more media library-heavy interface. Various types of media are now individually browsed and managed using icons at the upper left of the iTunes window, with separate iTunes Store access points for each medium.

iTunes 12 has been announced for OS X Yosemite, but not yet for older versions of OS X or Windows PCs. Updated: It is now available for download for OS X 10.7.5 and newer through iTunes.com, as well as for Windows XP and newer.

 

iOS 8.1 gets official, adding Apple Pay, photo features (Oct. 20)

Following earlier beta releases of iOS 8.1, Apple today formally announced the release of the first point update to September’s iOS 8.0. iOS 8.1 adds support for Apple Pay, the NFC-dependent wireless transaction technology introduced in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, as well as bringing back user-requested features, including the Camera Roll. Apple is also using iOS 8.1 to debut the iCloud Photo Library tied in with the public beta of Photos, the new OS X Yosemite photo management and editing app designed to replace iPhoto and Aperture.

During his introduction of iOS 8.1, Apple’s Craig Federighi also noted that 48% of the installed base are on iOS 8.0 after roughly a month, which sounds low, but is nearly twice as high as the last release of Android after nearly a year. iOS 8.1 will be available on October 20.

Apple Pay to launch Oct. 20 in U.S., 500 new banks on board

Apple Pay, the NFC-dependent wireless transaction technology introduced in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, has been confirmed for an October 20, 2014 launch in the United States. A collection of previously-announced retailers will be the first to have Apple Pay in their stores.

Five hundred additional banks have signed up to support Apple Pay since it was announced, including all of the major networks and a number of major retailers signing on to support by year’s end. Apple CEO Tim Cook noted today that Apple Pay payments can also be made online, not just at retail stores.

Later in the event, Apple also introduced Apple Pay for the iPad Air 2, however, it explicitly omitted any reference to NFC capabilities for in-store purchasing using iPads. The suggestion was that Apple Pay can only be used for iPad online purchases.

WatchKit to roll out next month

Apple announced today that its WatchKit SDK would roll out next month prior to the launch of Apple Watch. WatchKit will give developers a way to make apps for Apple Watch, which is still on track for an “early 2015” release. The November release of WatchKit should give developers time to tinker with creating their own watch apps before Apple Watch hits the market.

Apple Events channel up on Apple TV, Apple Online Store down ahead of event

  • October 16, 2014

The Apple Events channel has once again returned to Apple TV ahead of today’s new product event, allowing users to stream the event live at 1 p.m. Eastern. Last month’s Apple event stream was plagued by technical problems. Additionally, the Apple Online Store is already down before the debut of the company’s new products, as Apple is expected to reveal new iPads and a new iMac during today’s event. Check in with iLounge during the event — we’ll be updating the site with all the new product details live this afternoon.

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.

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