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iPhone Upgrade Program users frustrated by limited stock, reservation problems

Customers of Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program appear to have been left behind in the pre-order process for the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Macrumors reports that a number of customers were unable to select the specific model, carrier, color, or storage capacity they were looking for as stock appeared to be limited immediately when orders began. The process left many customers questioning the value of the iPhone Upgrade Program, which is designed to allow users to purchase a new iPhone for fixed monthly payments over a two-year time period and receive annual upgrades to the latest model, as they quickly discovered that the upgrade process requires making reservations at a local Apple Store, where inventories are generally much more severely constrained, as opposed to placing a normal preorder through the online Apple Store. The problem was further exacerbated by the suspension of the reservation system in the U.S., leaving many customers unable to try to reserve an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus at all.

Apple iPhone 7 preorders for Sept 16 delivery begin entering ‘Preparing for Shipment’ stage

It appears that customers who were lucky enough to snag an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus with a Sept. 16 delivery date have begun seeing orders entering the “Preparing for Shipment” stage, suggesting that Apple is already underway with getting the early units shipped out to customers in time for the promised launch day arrival. In this stage, orders can no longer be canceled or modified, and purchasers can expect to see their credit cards or other payment methods billed, and eventually receive a shipment notification once their iPhone leaves Apple’s warehouses. Early shipments however shouldn’t be taken as an indication of an arrival before Sept. 16 — in prior years, Apple has arranged with couriers to ship out orders to local UPS and FedEx distribution centers with instructions to postpone actual delivery to customers until the scheduled launch day.

Apple to resume iPhone 7 ‘Reserve and Pickup’ on Sept. 17 in U.S., U.K.

In the wake of high demand for the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models, Apple appears to have temporarily suspended its “Reserve and Pickup” service in the U.S., the U.K., and Italy until Sept. 17 — the day after the new iPhone models are expected to be available in Apple Stores. Reservations are now expected to open at 8 AM local time for U.S. Apple Stores and 6 AM local time for Apple Stores in the U.K. and Italy. Notably, Reserve and Pickup remains available for at least some models in Canada, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, although not surprisingly the iPhone 7 Plus appears to be largely sold out already at most stores in Canada, and likely many of these other countries as well. Users can still try lining up at an Apple Store in person on Sept. 16, although whatever inventory is available will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis as in prior years. [via Macrumors]

Apple opens iPhone 7 preorders, Jet Black model sells out in minutes.

As previously announced, Apple opened preorders for the new Phone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus this morning at 12:01 AM PT. Shipping dates of the Jet Black iPhone models slipped back into October, and then November within minutes of preorders going live, suggesting either overwhelming popularity or limited stock of the new color option. The Black model followed as a close second, with ship dates pushed into late September. By contrast, the white-faced Silver, Gold, and Rose Gold models remained available with Sept. 16 delivery dates for some time after preorders began, although by press time this morning all of the iPhone 7 Plus models had moved into availability ranging from late September to early October, with only some of the standard non-black iPhone 7 models still retaining the Sept. 16 delivery date. All iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models are expected to become available for direct purchase at Apple Stores and other participating retailers on Sept. 16.

Google Photos 2.0 enhances Live Photos support

Google has released an update to Google Photos, incorporating some of the Live Photos features it debuted in its Motion Stills app earlier this year. While Google Photos added support for backing up and viewing live photos back in March, Google Photos 2.0 now allows users to apply image stabilization to Live Photos and save them as looping animated GIFs or video clips for easier sharing with non-iOS devices. The new version of Google Photos will also allow users to freeze the background in a Live Photo or create “sweeping cinematic pans” — although more advanced Live Photo editing features beyond this remain the purview of the full Motion Stills app. The Google Photos 2.0 update also adds the ability to choose a new thumbnail for faces in the People section, sort photos in albums chronologically or by date added, and more streamlined sharing to YouTube.

Report: Apple phasing out third-generation Apple TV

Although Apple didn’t discuss Apple TV hardware at yesterday’s event, the company may be taking steps to gradually phase out the older third-generation Apple TV. According to 9to5Mac, Apple has reportedly been pulling stock of the older Apple TV from its retail store shelves, with employees being told to ship them back to Apple. Links to purchase the device also appear to have been removed from the company’s online store, making last year’s new tvOS-powered fourth-generation Apple TV the only box in the lineup. Although the third-generation Apple TV has no expansion capabilities beyond the “channels” that Apple chooses to add on the back end, at $69 it does make for a useful entry-level device into the Apple TV ecosystem, as well as an inexpensive AirPlay video receiver or secondary Apple TV box that could be used in an alternate room in the house. At this point, the fourth-generation Apple TV still begins at the much costlier $149 price point.

Apple executives explain decision to kill off headphone jack

Two key Apple executives behind the iPhone 7 have provided a bit more insight into the company’s logic behind killing off the venerable 3.5mm headphone jack in the new iPhone 7.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Greg Joswiak, Apple’s VP of iOS, iPad, and iPhone Product Marketing, and Dan Riccio, Apple’s SVP of Hardware Engineering, expand on Phil Schiller’s comments during Wednesday’s Apple event. Schiller said that it was time to move on from the hundred-year-old analog headphone technology in order to allow Apple to create more space inside the iPhone for new features. Joswiak explained that the only innovation the legacy audio connector has seen in the past 100 years was a simple reduction in size back in the 1960s, with nothing new since then. “It’s a dinosaur. It’s time to move on,” Joswiak said.

“It was holding us back from a number of things we wanted to put into the iPhone,” Riccio says. “It was fighting for space with camera technologies and processors and battery life. And frankly, when there’s a better, modern solution available, it’s crazy to keep it around.”

 

Apple releases ‘GM’ versions of iOS 10, watchOS3, tvOS 10, begins accepting apps for new versions

As expected, Apple has released the final “GM” versions of iOS 10, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10 to registered developers in advance of their final release, scheduled for Sept. 13. Barring any significant problems, these final developer releases are normally identical to the versions that are ultimately released to the public, and are listed in the Software Updates scenes simply as the base versions (e.g. “iOS 10”) with full final release notes and no “beta” designation. Notably, iOS 10 on Apple’s Developer Download Site is listed as “iOS 10.0.1” and includes a build number of 14A403. watchOS 3 has a build number of 14S326 and tvOS 10 is 14T330 — these numbers should be identical to the final versions released next week, so as usual, developers installing the GM seeds will not need to install the final public release.

Apple doubles some iPad capacities, reduces iPad Pro prices

In addition to today’s iPhone and Apple Watch announcements, Apple has quietly fine-tuned its iPad lineup, doubling the capacities of most of the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, and iPad mini 2 models with 32GB and 128GB versions at the same price points of the prior 16GB and 64GB models, while dropping the prices of the higher-capacity iPad Pro models by $50 for the 128GB unit and $100 for the 256GB model. [via The Verge]

Apple also bringing W1 chip to new lineup of Beats headphones

Apple also announced during today’s event that the W1 technology powering its new AirPods wireless earbuds will also be included in three new Beats earphone and headphone models, specifically the Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones ($300), the Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones ($200), and the BeatsX Earphones ($150). The W1 chip will provide improved power efficiency, allowing Solo3 to get up to 40 hours of battery life, or 12 hours and 8 hours for the Powerbeats3 and BeatsX, respectively, as well as taking advantage of the same seamless iOS 10 detection and pairing features from which AirPods users will be able to benefit.

Apple adds iPhone 7 accessories to store, including Lightning EarPods and Lightning audio adapter

Apple has listed an updated lineup of accessories for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus on its official online store, including the EarPods with Lightning Connector ($29) and the Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter ($9). In addition, the lineup of Apple cases previously available for the iPhone 6s models has now been updated for the iPhone 7 models, with prices remaining the same as before — $35/$39 for silicone, $45/$49 for leather, and $99 for the iPhone 7 Smart Battery Case, which also retains the same “hump” design as the iPhone 6s version. Several Apple exclusive third-party iPhone 7 cases are also now listed on the Apple Store, including the Tech21 Evo Mesh ($40) and Otterbox Statement Series ($40). None of these products are currently available for purchase, but should be by next week’s release of the newest iPhones.

Apple’s new AirPods wireless earbuds set for October release, to cost $159

As part of the announcement of the new iPhone 7 models today, Apple also unveiled AirPods, a new set of Apple wireless earbuds. Featuring a new Apple-designed W1 chip for low-power Bluetooth-based communications, the AirPods pair seamlessly with an iPhone, sharing pairing information via iCloud with other devices such as iPads and Macs. AirPods include motion accelerometers for touch-sensitivity and Siri activation, voice accelerometers to recognize vibrations to determine the source of a user’s voice, and beam-forming mics to reduce external noise. Optical sensors detect when one or both AirPods are in your ears, automatically pausing playback when they’re removed, or switching to monaural audio when you’re using only one AirPod. The AirPods will provide 5 hours of battery life on a single charge, and come with a battery storage case that provides an additional 24 hours of battery life; 15 minutes of charging in the case will add an extra 3 hours of listening time, and the case and AirPods can be charged simultaneously via an included Lightning-to-USB cable. AirPods will be compatible with iPhone 5 and later models, iPad mini 2 and later, all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, and the sixth-generation iPod touch. They’re expected to be available in late October for $159.

Case makers roll out their iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus offerings

Today’s introduction of Apple’s new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus has already led a number of companies to reveal cases for the upcoming devices. With the basic form factor of the new phones staying the same as the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, many casemakers have simply tweaked the shape of the camera cutout in their existing offerings. Ballistic has updated its Jewel ($30), Urbanite ($40), Tough Jacket ($35), and Tough Jacket Maxx ($50) offerings, pictured above, to fit the new cameras, and all are available starting today.

Apple’s iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus feature water resistance, force sensitive Home button, new cameras

Today at its event, Apple unveiled the highly anticipated iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models, focused primarily on an enhanced design aesthetic, water and dust resistance and some significant camera improvements. Both of the iPhone 7 models now come in a new jet black glossy finish and black finish, in addition to the more standard silver, gold, and rose gold options, and also now feature IP67 water and dust resistance. A new taptic, force-sensitive Home button replaces the prior mechanical button, allowing real-time haptic feedback in both built-in and third-party apps for things like quick actions, messages, and notifications.

Apple Watch Series 2 and Apple Watch Nike+ boast built-in GPS, swimproof water resistance

Apple today announced the release of the next-generation Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Series 2. Key features of the new model include swimproof water resistance of up to 50 meters, along with a faster dual-core CPU, a GPU with twice the performance of the prior model, and a new second-generation display that is twice as bright. The Series 2 model will also feature a built-in GPS so that workouts can be tracked without needing an iPhone in tow, with a fast start so users don’t need to wait for a GPS fix, and route map and GPS-accurate pace and distance. Developers will also be able to access the built-in GPS via watchOS 3 APIs. The Apple Watch Series 2 adds a new white ceramic model with a casing that is four times harder than stainless steel, while other body and wrist band options remain much the same as the first Apple Watch, now known as Apple Watch Series 1.

Super Mario Run coming to iPhone

During today’s fall Apple Event, CEO Tim Cook provided an update on the state of the App Store, highlighting that the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are now the most popular gaming devices in the world, and he used the opportunity to segue into an announcement that Nintendo will finally be bringing the venerable Mario to the iPhone. Cook handed over the stage to the “father of Mario,” Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto, to expand on the announcement, revealing a brand new mobile-optimized game, “Super Mario Run,” that will be coming to the iPhone. It’s designed exclusively for mobile, one-handed play.

Follow iLounge’s live coverage of today’s Apple event

Follow @iLounge on Twitter during Apple’s event today for up-to-the-second coverage of everything new about the iPhone 7, Apple Watch 2, and any other surprises Apple has in store. After the event ends we’ll have all the details here, so check back regularly throughout the day for an in-depth look. Apple’s special event starts at 10 a.m. Pacific time (1 p.m. EST), and will be streaming live on Apple’s website and on Apple TV’s Special Events channel.

Apple rumored to have interest in making iPhones in India

Apple has asked manufacturing partner Foxconn to look into the possibility of making iPhones in India within the next two or three years, The Economic Times of India reports. Sources with knowledge of the matter said Apple began the inquiry after Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue during a meeting earlier this year. The new report seems to corroborate earlier reports that Foxconn’s $10 billion facility in the Indian state of Maharashtra will focus on iPhone production. That plant should be up and running within 18 months, and Apple recently opened a development office for its Maps app in Hyderabad as well, doubling down on its commitment to India as it moves to open retail stores in the country. Apple is likely to gain a three-year exemption to open its stores without meeting requirements that it obtain 30 percent of its product materials locally, but will need to come into compliance with those regulations after that period expires.

Report: Wireless Apple AirPods will use low-power alternative to Bluetooth

Well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has released a note to investors about Apple’s rumored wireless “AirPods” ahead of the company’s iPhone event tomorrow, saying he expects Apple to have “its own-designed Bluetooth-like communication chip and launch own-brand Bluetooth headphones targeting the high-end market.” In a statement that echoes previous reports, Kuo said Apple’s own custom chip may deviate from Bluetooth specifications, providing the company with its own proprietary low-power wireless communications for home and auto accessories beyond headphones.

Apple Music $99/year gift cards now available

Apple is now offering a $99 gift card that will give users a full year of Apple music, shaving $20 off the total annual cost of a single subscription for those willing to commit to the full year. So far the option hasn’t popped up on Apple’s website, in iOS or in iTunes, but Walmart, Best Buy, and PayPal are all offering either cards or online codes for the annual subscription. There is also a three-month subscription available for $30, but that option provides no savings over the usual $10-a-month cost.

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