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AppleCare+ purchase window now 60 days, basic plan discontinued

Apple is extending its AppleCare+ purchase window to 60 days starting today, 9to5Mac reports. Previously only available within the first 30 days of purchase, the plan costs $99 for recent iPhone and iPad models and can be purchased in Apple stores or online. Additionally, Apple is discontinuing its AppleCare plan without protection for iPhone and iPad today in the U.S., Canada, and Japan. The company is now only offering the more expensive AppleCare+ plan for those devices.

Apple releases iOS 7.1.2

Apple has released iOS 7.1.2. The update “improves iBeacon connectivity and stability.” Other bug fixes and security updates include a data transfer bug fix, and a fixed issue with data protection class of Mail attachments – it was a known issue that iOS 7.1.1 was not encrypting email attachments within the Mail app. iOS 7.1.2 is available over-the-air or through iTunes.

iPhone 6 antenna breaks to differ from mockups; curved display?

Recent iPhone 6 mockups feature a basically accurate design, but the antenna breaks will differ from what’s been seen thus far, Nikkei reports. Numerous pictures have shown white stripes connecting the antennas in the iPhone 6 — as seen in the above graphic from Nikkei — but color-contrasting stripes will reportedly not be part of the final design. The stripes are likely a placeholder for another material, potentially glass, but quite possibly Liquidmetal. It’s also noted that the iPhone 6 may contain a curved display. The screen would have a seamless fit with the device’s aluminum shell. [via G for Games]

Audi to integrate CarPlay into 2015 cars

Audi has announced it will bring Apple’s CarPlay to its cars, to be available “in the first Audi models starting in 2015.” Interestingly, Audi was not introduced as an initial CarPlay partner in March. The announcement notes there is “intensive dialog” between Audi and Apple on CarPlay integration. No specific models were mentioned in the release.

Apple stores now selling prepaid T-Mobile, AT&T iPhones

Apple retail stores are now selling and activating T-Mobile and AT&T phones with prepaid plans. The T-Mobile devices must be activated in store with $50 or $70 worth of service, and the offer is limited to one device per customer. 9to5Mac also confirmed AT&T is now selling iPhones with prepaid GoPhone plans. A report earlier this month noted Apple would introduce prepaid and month-to-month plans.

Bloomberg: New iPhones could launch at same time

Apple’s upcoming 4.7” and 5.5” iPhones will enter mass production next month and might become available at the same time, Bloomberg reports. The report claims the phones may ship to retailers “around September,” which corroborates some past reports claiming a September release. Bloomberg also notes the 5.5” iPhone is “more complicated” than the 4.7” version, leading to lower production efficiency “that must be overcome before manufacturing volume can be increased.” A number of reports have indicated the 5.5” iPhone would be released after the 4.7” model — but Apple could be pushing for a simultaneous launch, with the larger device debuting with a more limited supply.

Foxconn, Pegatron hiring for iPhone 6 production

Foxconn and Pegatron, two of Apple’s largest manufacturing partners, have begun hiring workers to produce the iPhone 6. The former is recruiting more than 100,000 people, a Chinese continental record, according to reports from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News and Reuters. The bulk of the orders will go to Foxconn, which is said to be responsible for 70 percent of production; Pegatron will handle the rest. High demand is expected, with Pegatron adding 30 percent to its workforce in one mainland factory.

Apple’s Activation Lock said to cause drop in iPhone theft

Police officers in New York, London, and San Francisco claim they’re seeing a drop in smartphone theft, and Apple’s Activation Lock may be the reason, The New York Times reports. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón both believe the Apple “kill switch” is leading to the drop, as police officers in San Francisco and London said iPhone robberies have decreased in their cities by 38 percent and 24 percent, respectively, since Apple released the feature. New York police have also noted a drop in Apple product theft when comparing the first five months of 2014 to the same period in 2013.

Apple’s Activation Lock requires an Apple ID and password before anyone can turn off Find My iPhone, sign out of iCloud, or erase and reactivate a device. Bloomberg reports that Google and Microsoft will soon follow Apple by incorporating a “kill switch” feature into their new operating systems.

T-Mobile intros Test Drive program with iPhone 5s

T-Mobile has introduced Test Drive, a new program that lets prospective users try out the T-Mobile network for free while using an iPhone 5s. Upon signing up for the program, T-Mobile will send you an iPhone 5s, which can be used for free for seven days to make unlimited calls, texts, downloads, and so forth. After that time, the phone must be returned in good condition to a T-Mobile retail store. The iPhone 5s must be ordered online — it will be delivered by mail and must be signed for by someone 18 or older.

T-Mobile has also announced its Music Freedom plan, which now lets users stream music from any selected streaming service, including iTunes Radio, without counting toward a 4G LTE data allotment. It’s included for free with any Simple Choice rate plan. Additionally, T-Mobile will launch its own streaming service on June 22 — Rhapsody unRadio, an app which offers unlimited streaming with no skip limits and no ads. It’s included with the carrier’s newest Unlimited 4G LTE plans and costs $4 a month for users with other plans.

Report: iPhone 6 may include barometer, air pressure sensors

Apple’s iPhone 6 could contain a barometer and air pressure sensors, according to 9to5Mac. The report claims that new references within Xcode 6 and iOS 8 are dedicated to altitude tracking and will require new Apple hardware. It’s possible that altitude tracking abilities might be incorporated in the new iPads and iWatch, as well. Barometer hardware could track altitude more quickly and accurately than current altitude-measuring apps that work based on GPS and motion chips. References to ambient pressure tracking were also found within iOS 8, meaning that other air pressure sensors within new devices could alert users to changes in the weather.

Apple releases iOS 8 beta 2, Apple TV beta software to developers

Apple has released iOS 8 beta 2 to registered developers. The release is available over-the-air through Settings. 9to5Mac reports that a new Apple TV software beta has also been released. We’ll update in the near future with any pertinent information on what’s new and notable within iOS 8 beta 2.

Unicode Standard update adds new characters, 250 new emoji

The Unicode Consortium has announced version 7.0 of the Unicode Standard, which includes 2,834 new characters and approximately 250 emoji. Emojipedia has the full list of brief descriptions for the new emoji characters, including Thermometer, Hot Pepper, Derelict House Building, Waving White Flag, Man In Business Suit Levitating, Dagger Knife, Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended, and many more. Added Unicode symbols include currency symbols for the Russian ruble and Azerbaijani manat, among many others.

Apple must provide support for the Unicode update to properly represent the emoji in iOS. In March, it was reported that Apple was “working closely” with the Unicode Consortium to include more diverse characters in emoji; it’s unclear whether the Version 7.0 updates were part of that collaboration.

Apple announces exchange program for some European 5W power adapters

Apple has announced an exchange program for its 5W European USB power adapters that “may overheat and pose a safety risk.” The affected adapters came with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S models shipped from October 2009 to September 2012 in a number of European countries — the full list is included within the announcement. Though the adapters only pose a risk “in rare cases,” the company is voluntarily offering a free, new, redesigned power adapter for each affected adapter exchanged. Affected models are marked “Model A1300” with the letters “CE” in solid gray.

Apple recommends users with these adapters discontinue use and exchange the adapter. In the meantime, users can charge their iPhones by connecting the USB cable to a computer. Users must bring their affected adapters to an Apple Retail Store or participating Apple Authorized Service Provider to make the exchange for a new adapter.

Starbucks, Duracell announce wireless Powermat in-store charging

Starbucks has announced it will roll out wireless charging in its stores by use of Duracell’s Powermat charging system. The rollout will begin in the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston before expanding nationally into other Starbucks stores and Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bars. Locations can be tracked online. Stores will feature “Powermat Spots” — designated areas where compatible devices can be charged.

Powermat Spots use the PMA standard for wireless charging. At this point, iLounge has reviewed two cases that would work with the Powermat Spots — the Duracell PowerSnap Kit for iPhone 5 and Duracell PowerCase for iPhone 5/5s — in addition to a line of compatible GoPower Universal Batteries. Considering the few compatible cases for iPhone users, the appeal of the widespread Powermat Spots may be limited to relatively few Starbucks customers, although the alliance behind the standard does boast more than 70 members, including AT&T, Samsung, and other notable players.

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]

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.

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.

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.

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