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iPad Air 3, iPhone 5se expected to be available March 18

Following reports that the iPhone 5se and iPad Air 3 will be unveiled on March 15, it now appears that the models will also be available in Apple Stores three days later, on March 18, according to a new report from 9to5Mac. With the devices going on sale so soon after the event, sources suggest that Apple is unlikely to offer pre-orders for either of the new devices, although they cautioned that Apple’s plans could still change. In the case of iPhones, in particular, Apple has traditionally opened pre-orders within two to three days after it unveils a new model, with in-store availability coming one to two weeks later, around the same time pre-orders begin arriving in customers’ hands. While Apple’s iPad releases have been a little less consistent in this regard, it would still be unusual for Apple to release both devices in-store so quickly following a major Apple event. Sources have suggested that Apple has already begun ramping up production of the new four-inch iPhone, which is intended to bring the latest technology — specifically NFC for Apple Pay — to the iPhone 5 family for users who may be reluctant to embrace the larger iPhone 6 screen sizes.

Apple will source iPhone 7 ‘A10’ CPU solely from TSMC

Apple will be sourcing the new CPU for its iPhone 7 models exclusively from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), according to a new report from The Electronic Times . The two companies reportedly reached a deal based on the Taiwanese company’s manufacturing process for 10nm chips and more advanced designs that provide better performance and efficiency. Although Apple had been rumoured to be looking for new suppliers for its A9 CPU in the two iPhone 6s models, the company went back to Samsung for at least some of its chips, splitting chip orders between both Samsung and TSMC. This led to a number of reports that the TSMC version of the A9 provided significantly better battery life than the Samsung version in at least some artificial benchmarks, with Apple tacitly acknowledging the difference but noting that it represents a two to three percent variance under real-world usage conditions. TSMC is expected to begin production of the A10 chip in June, with a ramp-up of its 10nm manufacturing process in the second half of 2016, ramping up to full production in 2017. [via MacRumors]

Federal bill aims to take regulatory power for phone encryption out of state hands

A new bipartisan bill introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives aims to bar states from introducing their own bans on smartphone encryption, The Verge reports. At the urging of local district attorney’s offices, assemblymen in New York and California have introduced identical bills that would ban smartphone encryption for phones sold in those states and fine manufacturers for each phone sold with secure disk encryption. While critics argue it wouldn’t be feasible to tailor phone encryption capabilities for specific states, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) have introduced the Ensuring National Constitutional Rights of Your Private Telecommunications (ENCRYPT) Act to override state and local government encryption laws, over concerns that having varying bills on encryption would endanger the country and the competitiveness of American companies.

Screen protector installation now available at Apple Stores

Apple Stores worldwide began offering screen protector installation for iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus and 6s Plus users starting today. As previously reported, Apple has partnered with Belkin to place specialized screen protector installation machines in the back of stores, allowing customers to have their screen protector properly installed free of charge after they buy it. Two types of screen protectors — “Invisiglass” and “Anti-Glare” — are being offered. Apple will guarantee the installation of screen protectors and offer a free replacement and re-attempt at installation if the protector isn’t installed successfully for the customer. Many stores began rolling out the new process last week, but it is available everywhere as of today.

Lawyers threaten to sue Apple over ‘Error 53’ codes disabling iPhones

After reports that iOS 9 updates have disabled iPhone 6 and 6s devices that had third-party repairs done to their Touch ID sensors, law firms in the U.S. and U.K. are considering legal action against Apple, The Guardian reports. Users with iPhones that have been repaired by someone other than Apple or that have unrepaired damage have reported receiving an “Error 53” message when updating their device’s software, leaving the phone locked and completely unusable. Seattle-based law firm PCVA is preparing a class action lawsuit, saying it believes Apple’s stance violates several consumer protection laws, and the firm has offered to represent victims for free.

Apple releases iOS 9.3 beta 3, tvOS 9.2 beta 3, watchOS 2.2 beta 3 to developers

Apple has released three of its latest betas to developers today with iOS 9.3 beta 3, tvOS 9.2 beta 3, and watchOS 2.2 beta 3. The public version of iOS 9.3 beta 3 should be released later this week. We’ll update our iOS and tvOS “Inside the betas” article later on with any relevant information.

Conflicting reports over pink color to be featured in iPhone 5se

Ahead of the expected March 15 reveal of the iPhone 5se, conflicting reports have emerged about which shade of pink will be featured on the new iPhone. Macotakara reported that the new model will be available in the hot pink color that appeared in the new iPod touch and iPod nano last summer, instead of the rose gold featured in the iPhone 6s. 9to5Mac pushed back against that rumor, claiming its sources are holding firm that the new phones will be available in the same silver, space gray, gold and rose gold colors as the iPhone 6s models. Apple is even said to be adding a rose gold variation to the iPad Air 3, in an effort to keep hardware colors consistent across all of its iOS devices. New versions of the 12-inch Macbook and iPad mini may also be available in rose gold, but are unlikely to debut on March 15.

Report: Some third-party repairs ‘bricking’ iPhones with iOS 9

A new report from The Guardian notes that thousands of iPhone 6 users are claiming to have been left holding useless iPhones as a result of repairs carried out by non-Apple authorized technicians. According to the report, users who previously had iPhone 6 models repaired at unauthorized third-party service centers have encountered an “Error 53” when updating to iOS 9, leaving their devices locked in a completely unusable state. The problem seems to center on handsets where a Touch ID home button has been repaired by an unauthorized company or individual, but it has also reportedly impacted customers with damaged iPhones that have otherwise been able to carry on using them without repairs.

Challenges with third parties making repairs involving the Touch ID sensor aren’t actually new: A 2013 report from iMore, released shortly after Apple introduced Touch ID on the iPhone 5s, revealed the Touch ID sensor and related hardware on each iPhone unit is specifically paired to that unit, presumably for security purposes. Home buttons, which include the Touch ID sensor, cannot be swapped between even identical iPhones, and the iMore article states that “For DIY repairers, things just got a bit more difficult. When removing the screen, say to replace a cracked screen, you’ll also need to remove the Touch ID cable to transfer it to the new screen. Extra care will need to be taken to ensure the cable isn’t damaged.”

Apple to begin taking broken iPhones for trade-in, offer in-store screen protector installation

Apple is planning to launch two new retail initiatives for iPhone users, according to a new report by 9to5Mac. The first is an enhancement to the company’s Reuse and Recycle Program that it launched two years ago, allowing customers to bring in an older iPhone model to trade it in and receive credit toward the purchase of a new iPhone. Starting this week, in addition to working iPhone models, Apple will now begin accepting iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus units with damaged displays, cameras, and buttons, with sources indicating that the current trade-in values for such models will be $50 for an iPhone 5s, $200 for an iPhone 6, and $250 for an iPhone 6 Plus. Sources indicate that Apple believes this will encourage users to upgrade to a newer iPhone model, rather than simply paying for a standard iPhone screen repair.

Report: iPhone 7 to include flush camera lens, drop rear antenna bands

A few new details have emerged on Apple’s iPhone 7, as reported by MacRumors. Citing a reliable source, the report notes that the iPhone 7 body will be very similar to the iPhone 6 design, although the rear camera will apparently sit flush with the rear casing, rather than protruding as it does on the iPhone 6 and 6s. The iPhone 7 will also reportedly exclude the antenna bands across the rear, providing a cleaner, flat metal look on the back, although antenna bands at the sides and around the top and bottom edges will apparently remain much the same as they are on current iPhone 6/6s models.

Report: iPhone 5se, iPad Air 3 set for March 15 unveil

Apple is looking to hold an event on March 15 to unveil a new iPhone, iPad Air, and Apple Watch band options, 9to5Mac reports, following a report last week that the new standard-sized iPad would be available in March, while also revealing that the rumored 4-inch iPhone model will debut at the same time. Sources suggest that the new “iPhone 5se” will include an A9 chip, improved cameras, Live Photos support, and Apple Pay, while mirroring the general design of the iPhone 5s and coming in at the same price, starting at $450 for 16GB, with a 64GB model also being available. The report suggests that the iPad Air 3 will look much as suggested in previous reports, with enhanced speakers, a possible rear LED flash, and a Smart Connector like that found on the iPad Pro. Apple will also reportedly introduce new Apple Watch bands and software at the same event, although it appears no actual new Apple Watch device hardware will be unveiled.

Report: Apple working on iPhone model with wireless charging

Apple is working on developing new wireless charging technology for a future iPhone model, a new report by Bloomberg reveals. New technologies being developed by Apple would potentially allow iPhones and iPads to be powered from a farther distance than the charging pads used for current smartphones, according to sources familiar with the matter, and Apple is looking to overcome technical barriers such as power loss over distance. The Apple Watch currently uses magnetic induction technology for charging, and a patent Apple filed for in 2010 outlined a method of wirelessly recharging a device at a distance of about 1 meter, using an iMac as a hub. Although the technology is still in the early research stages at this point, sources suggest it could be ready for deployment on next-generation Apple devices as soon as next year.

Apple releases second iOS 9.3 public beta

Apple has released the second public beta of iOS 9.3 through its Apple Software Beta Program. Released to developers earlier this week, the second beta makes a number of minor changes to Night Shift mode and CarPlay enhancements to Apple Music and Maps, along with adding a new button for Night Shift mode in Control Center. Be sure to check out our updated peek at what’s new in both the latest iOS 9.3 and tvOS 9.2 betas. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions now; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site.

Report: iPhone 7 Plus to sport dual-camera system, optical zoom

A new report from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo at KGI Securities is suggesting that the iPhone 7 Plus will include a dual-camera system that would incorporate two distinct lenses to create higher quality photos. The new system would reportedly incorporate the Linx camera technology that Apple acquired last year, allowing Apple to use smaller camera sensors to get the same or better results as the cameras in current iPhone models. Kuo’s report also suggests that the Plus will feature a 2-3x optical zoom. Notably, the report states that not only will the standard iPhone 7 not include the new technology, but suggests that it may not even be available on all iPhone 7 Plus models, instead being reserved for specific versions of the device — basically a “premium” model that would include the advanced camera system. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: iPhone ‘5se’ to have A9 + M9 chips, always-on Siri

Apple’s upcoming 4” iPhone — which may be called the iPhone 5se — will likely have “variants” of the iPhone 6s’ A9 and M9 chips, 9to5Mac reports. The iPhone will come in 16GB/64GB capacities, and will feature always-on Siri, in addition to Apple Pay support. It’s believed the new iPhone will have curved glass and resemble a smaller iPhone 6/6s — a recent photo posted on One More Thing’s forums (and pictured above) purports to show the new iPhone next to the iPhone 5.

Report: 4-inch ‘iPhone 5se’ to support Apple Pay, Live Photos

The upcoming iPhone with a 4” display will likely be called the “iPhone 5se,” according to 9to5Mac. Sources have said the “iPhone” posted in a recent video is a fake, and that the iPhone 5se — the “se” perhaps meaning “special edition” — is best thought of as an upgraded iPhone 5s, instead of a shrunken iPhone 6s. The iPhone will still retain a headphone port, but there will be a number of upgrades and changes, including an NFC chip for Apple Pay without use of an Apple Watch, the addition of Live Photos from the 6s, and the A8 and M8 chips and 8MP/1.2MP cameras from the iPhone 6. The straight, shiny edges of the 5s will be replaced by curved glass as seen in the 6 and 6s. 3D Touch reportedly won’t be making its way to the iPhone 5se, which probably isn’t a surprise to most. The phone is still expected to debut in March before a March or April release.

Google paid Apple $1B to be iOS default search engine

A transcript of court proceedings between Oracle and Google has revealed that Google paid Apple $1 billion in 2014 to remain the default search engine on iOS devices, Bloomberg reports. An Oracle attorney said that Google and Apple have an agreement which gives Apple a percentage of the revenue Google generates through iPhone. While a revenue share of 34 percent was discussed, a Google attorney attempted to get the number stricken from the record, saying, “We are talking hypotheticals here.” The magistrate judge refused this request, but Google and Apple have filed to seal and redact the transcript. Both Apple and Google declined to comment on the proceedings.

California bill would require ‘back door’ access to encrypted phones

Following New York’s introduction of a very similar bill, California is now considering a bill that would require smartphones to have a “back door” for access to encrypted content, ZDNet reports. Assembly Bill No. 1681, which has been presented as legislation for “Human Trafficking Evidentiary Access,” would “require a smartphone that is manufactured on or after January 1, 2017, and sold in California, to be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.” Any smartphone that couldn’t be decrypted on demand would subject a seller or lessor to a $2,500 fine. If the bill became law, iPhones (and many other smartphones) could not be sold in California if their current encryption features remained intact. The bill was introduced by California assembly member Jim Cooper, who told Ars Technica, “For the industry to say it’s privacy, it really doesn’t hold any water. We’re going after human traffickers and people who are doing bad and evil things. Human trafficking trumps privacy, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.”

iOS 9.3’s Night Shift may get Control Center button

Apple’s Canadian preview page for iOS 9.3 reveals something the American preview page didn’t — a toggle for the upcoming Night Shift mode within Control Center. First spotted by Reddit user nickjosephson, the Canadian page shows a small lamp button for Night Shift, next to the brightness slider within an iPad’s control center. The toggle allows a user to select between “Turn On For Now” or “Turn On Until Tomorrow.” The new Night Shift mode makes screen colors warmer at night, to minimize the affect of blue light on a user’s sleep cycle. While this toggle hasn’t appeared yet in any released iOS 9.3 beta, the image is still up on the page, which makes us think we’ll be seeing it sooner rather than later.

Video shows purported 4-inch ‘iPhone 6c’

A new video purports to show Apple’s upcoming 4” iPhone, which may be called the iPhone 6c. The video, posted by M.I.C. Gadget, shows a phone that looks almost exactly like the iPhone 6s. M.I.C. Gadget claims the iPhone is “one of the first demo examples from Foxconn,” but noted that they don’t have additional tech specs or information about the device. The validity of such videos should always be taken with a grain of salt, but this isn’t completely dubious. Though it’s not always easy to judge scale, this alleged iPhone does appear to be a bit smaller than the 4.7” iPhone 6s. It’s been rumored that a 4” iPhone with a metal body would be coming this spring, and a familiar design wouldn’t be much of a surprise.

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