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Apple releases iOS 9.3.1

Following reports earlier this week of a hyperlink bug which was causing freezes and crashes on some iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus units, Apple has released iOS 9.3.1, a minor update that promises to fix the issue. As usual, the update is available now through Settings > General > Software Update, or can be installed using a Mac or PC via iTunes.

Unboxing the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro

Apple’s newest 9.7-inch iPad Pro is here and we’ve posted a quick first look at Apple’s new standard-sized Pro tablet with an unboxing and comparison gallery. The images highlight what’s in the box along with differences between the new device and its brethren, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 4. We’ve noticed Apple is now using what looks to be a thinner version of the font for the word “iPad” on the back of the new Pro. Look for our full iPad Pro review next week once we’ve had a chance to put it through its paces.

MLB coaches get iPad Pro devices with custom software

Apple is providing coaches with 12.9-inch iPad Pro devices running custom software through a new multi-year deal with Major League Baseball, The Wall Street Journal reports. The tablets will run a custom iOS app called Dugout, developed by the MLB’s Advanced Media division. The app will be loaded with player statistics, stat breakdowns, interactive data and game footage pertinent to the team’s matchup each day, with future iterations expected to support real-time data updates. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he hopes the iPads will help speed up the pace of games and make baseball more attractive to a younger generation drawn to fast-action sports. [via Apple Insider]

Apple releases version of iOS 9.3 for older devices affected by Activation Lock issue

Apple has released a new version of iOS 9.3 with build number of 13E237, designed specifically for older iOS devices. The first finished public release of iOS 9.3 had an issue during the activation process. Users of such devices — including the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and earlier devices — who were unable to recall their Apple ID info could find their devices rendered inaccessible. This new build is meant to provide a fix for that problem. We’re also awaiting an iOS update for everyone that will provide a fix for the current hyperlink bug seen in Safari and elsewhere after updating to iOS 9.3, but it appears like we’ll have to wait a little longer on that front.

Sony to bring ‘full-fledged’ games to iOS

Sony has announced plans to develop mobile games for the “smart device market” under a newly-formed subsidiary, ForwardWorks Corporation. The new mobile gaming arm will “leverage the intellectual property” of a number of PlayStation games and characters in developing gaming applications for the iOS and Android platforms, although it appears that it will be focusing these releases on the Japanese and Asian markets. While Sony seems to clearly be following the lead of Nintendo, which debuted its first game Miitomo in the Japanese App Store earlier this month, in contrast to Nintendo’s efforts, it appears ForwardWorks will be delivering “full-fledged game titles” for users to “casually enjoy” on their mobile devices. [via TechCrunch]

Google reportedly developing iOS keyboard

Google has been developing its own third-party keyboard for iOS that would incorporate the company’s search engine, The Verge reports. Sources said the keyboard has been in circulation among employees for months and is designed to boost the search traffic from Apple devices by providing one-button access to picture, GIF and traditional web searches. Like its Android counterpart, Google’s iOS keyboard also employs gesture-based typing, allowing users to drag their finger from one letter to the next and have Google guess their intended word.

Report: iPhone SE, 9.7-inch iPad Pro both include 2GB of RAM

Both the iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro will include 2GB of RAM alongside their A9 and A9X processors, according to a tweet from TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino. This further puts the iPhone SE on par with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in terms of raw processing power, although the 9.7-inch iPad Pro comes in slightly less powerful than its larger counterpart, which includes 4GB of RAM. Panzarino also notes that the A9X in the standard-sized iPad is underclocked in comparison to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, although it’s worth noting that the smaller tablet can likely get away with less RAM and CPU power to drive the smaller display, which includes only slightly more than half the pixels of the larger model — 3,145,728 as opposed to 5,595,136.

Apple releases iOS 9.3 with Night Shift, Notes + CarPlay improvements, much more

Apple officially announced the release of iOS 9.3 today during the company’s special event in Cupertino, and the update is now available. Originally released in January to developers, and then later as part of the company’s public beta program, iOS 9.3 is an unusually feature-packed update for a point iOS release, as we observed in our early analysis of the betas.

Apple reduces iPad Air 2 pricing to $399, drops 128GB model

With today’s unveiling of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, Apple has dropped the pricing of the iPad Air 2 to $399 and $499 for the 16GB and 64GB versions, respectively. The 128GB version of the iPad Air 2 has also been removed from the lineup, forcing users who want a larger-capacity 9.7-inch iPad to opt for the new iPad Pro instead — albeit it for only $50 more than the 128GB iPad Air 2 previously sold for. The new pricing actually puts the iPad Air 2 pricing on par with the iPad Mini 4, although the smaller tablet retains its 128GB version at $599. All models continue to be available in both Wi-Fi only versions, or Wi-Fi + Cellular versions for an additional $130.

Apple unveils 9.7-inch iPad Pro, adds 256GB capacities to Pro lineup

Apple has announced a new 9.7-inch version of its iPad Pro, essentially upgrading the standard-sized iPad tablet to a “Pro” model, with features matching the 12.9-inch version debuted last fall. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro will include the same features as its larger counterpart, including the 64-bit A9X CPU and M9 motion coprocessor, support for the Apple Pencil and a new, smaller-sized version of the Apple Smart Keyboard, while the new screen is both a “Wide color display” and “True Tone Display,” the latter of which will automatically measure the color temperature of ambient light to produce a natural paper-white color under any set of lighting conditions.

Report: Upcoming 9.7-inch iPad Pro will start at $599 for base 32GB model

The upcoming 9.7-inch iPad Pro expected to be announced on Monday, will come in 32GB and 128GB capacities similar to its larger sibling, and have a higher price tag to match, 9to5Mac reports. Apple is expected to shift the standard-sized iPad model away from the iPad Air name, giving it both the name and features to match the larger iPad Pro which debuted last fall, including Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard support. Like the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the 9.7-inch model is expected to be available in both 32GB Wi-Fi only and 128GB Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi+Cellular models, with an entry-level price point of $599 for the base 32GB Wi-Fi version. This puts the new 9.7-inch iPad pricing somewhere in between the $499 16GB iPad Air 2 and the $599 64GB iPad Air 2, with users paying the same price for half the capacity of the previous model, while gaining most of the same capabilities of the iPad Pro. The report also notes, however, that the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is not expected to replace the current iPad Air 2, which sources say will remain in Apple’s lineup in at least a 16GB $499 model, as Apple has done with previous-generation iPads before.

Apple releases iOS 9.3 beta 7

Apple recently released the seventh beta for its upcoming iOS 9.3 update. The new beta was released to both developers and public beta testers. With an iOS 9.3 final public release expected to come as early as next week, it’s already surprising that Apple has released a seventh beta installment. Although the release notes are sparse, it’s safe to assume that this seventh beta predominantly includes bug fixes and minor optimizations to tighten up iOS 9.3 before its final release. Apple also released a seventh watchOS 2.2 beta to developers. Anything particularly noteworthy will be found in a future update of our Inside the betas piece.

Apple’s Federighi officially debunks idea of quitting iOS apps to improve performance, battery life

Apple’s Senior VP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, has officially debunked the longstanding myth that users should quit background iOS apps in order to improve performance or save battery life, 9to5Mac reports. A 9to5Mac reader emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook asking the company for an official stance on whether this was necessary. The message was passed on to Federighi who responded with an uncategorical “no.”

While Apple’s own support documents and various iOS presentations over the years have pretty clearly implied that force-quitting apps should not be necessary except in cases where apps become unresponsive, there has been a persistent myth for years that force-quitting apps somehow improves the performance or battery life on iOS devices, perhaps due to the way that multitasking works on traditional Windows and OS X-based computers, not to mention Android devices. Further, even Apple’s own stance has not been entirely consistent at the lower levels, with iLounge’s own editors and readers encountering Genius Bar staff in Apple Stores who have recommended closing apps to “improve performance.” However, since the multitasking frameworks in iOS exercise an almost draconian control over background processes, most apps are actually suspended when in the background, using no CPU or battery power at all. While there are exceptions to this rule, these are usually obvious, such as navigation apps that use the actual GPS hardware (as opposed to mere “geo-fencing” apps that trigger location-based alerts), Voice-over-IP apps, and apps that play or record audio in the background. In many cases the user should be well aware that these apps are running, and are likely actively using them in some way.

Apple releases iOS 9.3 beta 6 to developers and public testers

Apple has released yet another beta for its upcoming iOS update, in the form of iOS 9.3 beta 6. The new beta has been released to both developers and public beta testers. With an iOS 9.3 final public release believed to be around the corner, this sixth beta could be the last beta seen before the iOS update goes live to all users. Apple also released a sixth watchOS 2.2 beta to developers today. Anything particularly noteworthy will be found in a future update of our Inside the betas piece.

9.7-inch iPad Pro may have 12 megapixel rear camera

The new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is expected to match the 12.9-inch model in functionality,  including support for the Apple Pencil and a smaller version of the Smart Keyboard, but 9to5Mac reports the smaller device could sport improved cameras as well. Sources said internal prototypes of the 9.7-inch model appear to include a 12 megapixel rear camera — a big upgrade over the 8 megapixel camera that shipped with the first iPad Pro last November. The improved camera would make sense given the new iPad’s smaller size. As we noted in our review, beefing up the camera on a 12.9-inch device wouldn’t really make much sense given how difficult it is to use it for photography. The new iPad is also expected to include a FaceTime HD camera above the front display and be able to record 4K video like the iPhone 6s, both upgrades over the first iPad Pro.

‘iPhone SE’ to lack 3D Touch, debut on March 21

Leaked photos said to show the inner workings of Apple’s new ‘iPhone SE’ seem to confirm earlier rumors that the new phone will lack 3D Touch capabilities, French website NowhereElse reports. The images, obtained from an anonymous source, show that the metal plate over the internal components of the new phone lacks spaces for both the haptic engine and screen connections associated with 3D Touch. As previously reported, the new phone is expected to feature some features of the iPhone 6 family in a shell more akin to the iPhone 5s.

Report: Apple to name new 9.7-inch iPad model iPad Pro, not iPad Air 3

New information suggests that Apple may in fact be planning to release the next-generation of the traditional 9.7-inch iPad with the name “iPad Pro” rather than using the “iPad Air” designation. A new report from 9to5Mac claims the new iPad will follow the same trend as Apple’s MacBook Pro series, whereby Apple will simply provide two “iPad Pro” models in 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch sizes. The report also notes that precedent for this was also set with Apple’s naming convention for its 12-inch MacBook, basically dropping the “MacBook Air” designation from that particular model, despite it being an apparent successor in that lineup. The iPad Pro designation for the new 9.7-inch iPad model will presumably be based on Apple implementing similar features to the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro, including support for the Apple Pencil and a smaller version of the Smart Keyboard.  It’s unclear if the iPad Air name would disappear completely, or if it would be used for a similarly-sized iPad in the future which lacks those “Pro” features. The news suggests that the move is an effort by Apple to also simplify its iPad lineup, with sources indicating that Apple is slowing down production of older iPad mini and iPad Air models. Apple is expected to debut the new 9.7-inch iPad at an event on March 15.

Report: iOS 9.3 may remove Apple Pencil navigation capabilities (Update: Apple says no)

Apple may be planning to limit the functionality of the Apple Pencil in iOS 9.3, according to a new report from MacRumors. Several iPad Pro users running the iOS 9.3 beta have noticed that, unlike in the current iOS 9.2 release, the Apple Pencil can no longer be used like a finger to navigate the iPad UI in the beta version. In iOS 9.2, the Apple Pencil can be used to tap on buttons, select text, scroll, access menus, and more, while iOS 9.3 betas limit the Pencil’s functionality to drawing and writing functions within apps. While many beta testers who have experienced this problem have assumed the omission may be a bug, it has now persisted into the fourth beta of iOS 9.3, with no mention of the limitations in the iOS developer release notes either. Further, Relay.fm co-founder Myke Hurley disclosed in a recent podcast that he had heard from insiders at Apple that this may in fact be an intentional design decision by Apple.

Apple releases iOS 9.3 beta 4, tvOS 9.2 beta 4, watchOS 2.2 beta 4 to developers

Apple has released three of its latest betas to developers today with iOS 9.3 beta 4, tvOS 9.2 beta 4, and watchOS 2.2 beta 4. The public version of iOS 9.3 beta 4 will likely also be released later this week. We’ll update our iOS and tvOS “Inside the betas” article later on with any relevant information, although changes thus far appear to be minimal, with a cosmetic change to the Night Shift icon in iOS 9.3 beta 4, and new firmware for the Siri Remote.

iPad Pro’s delayed release accelerated A9X chip development

A Bloomberg Business profile on Johnny Srouji, Apple’s recently promoted Senior VP of Hardware Technologies, reveals some interesting details about Apple’s timeline for the iPad Pro, noting that the larger tablet was originally planned for a Spring 2014 debut by Apple, but was delayed to a fall release after falling behind schedule. Notably, the iPad Pro as originally conceived would have included the same A8X processor found in the late 2014 iPad Air 2 model, but due to the delay and the expected debut of the iPad Pro alongside the A9-equipped iPhone 6s, Srouji was forced to scramble to move up the development of the A9X chip by half a year to have it ready in time for the iPad Pro debut. The Bloomberg profile goes on to spotlight Srouji’s background and history of contributions to Apple from the development of the company’s first A4 system-on-a-chip for the original iPad through to the unprecedented 64-bit A7 that powered the iPhone 5s.

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