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Apple sapphire supplier GT Advanced seeking permission to close plant

  • October 10, 2014
  • Apple,

Apple sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies has asked the court for permission to close its manufacturing plant, Re/code reports. GT Advanced filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this week, and Apple said publicly that it was “surprised” by the filing.

As noted by the Wall Street Journal and disclosed by court documents, GT failed to produce sapphire for Apple’s iPhone displays. A court hearing on GT’s request to wind down operations will be heard on Wednesday, Oct. 15. While reports have suggested GT’s problems won’t affect production of the Apple Watch — other suppliers could be used for the sapphire sizes needed for the watch — Apple may have to adjust its plans for using sapphire in future iPhones.

GT unable to disclose bankruptcy details due to ‘confidentiality agreements’

Following its bankruptcy filing earlier this week, GT Advanced Technologies has asked for non-disclosure in its pending bankruptcy proceedings, stating that it cannot disclose the details surrounding its Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to “an unspecified confidentiality agreement.” A lawyer for the company told a U.S. Bankruptcy judge that the agreement in question prevented the company from disclosing the cause of the bankruptcy, or any plans it has for dealing with the bankruptcy. The court was also asked by GT to seal specific documents referencing a third party, and asked that the proceeding be closed to the public to avoid violating “existing confidentiality agreements” that could make the company liable for potential damages of up to $50 million per violation. Since Apple is known for its strict confidentiality clauses, and was working closely with GT Advanced Technologies, it seems extremely likely that Apple is the unnamed third party in this case, although the larger company was reportedly surprised by the bankruptcy filing earlier this week.

WSJ: Larger iPad production to be delayed

Apple is pushing back mass production for its planned larger iPad into early 2015, the Wall Street Journal reports. Sources said the company was prepared to start production this December, but overwhelming demand for the new iPhones has become the top priority. A previous report also claimed that the device would enter production in the first quarter of 2015. It’s still expected that the new iPad — often referred to as “iPad Pro” — will have a 12.9” display. The actual release date for the product is still unknown, especially considering a production timeline that is apparently evolving based on other factors.

Apple ‘surprised’ by GT Advanced Technologies’ bankruptcy filing

Following news earlier this week that Apple’s sapphire supplier GT Advance Technologies had filed for bankruptcy, Reuters reports that Apple has stated it was “surprised” by the news and is now considering its next steps. An Apple spokesman noted that the company “focused on preserving jobs in Arizona following GT’s surprising decision and we will continue to work with state and local officials as we consider our next steps.” GT has still not provided any real explanation as to its sudden bankruptcy filing, however the company has stated that it will clarify the situation during its first Chapter 11 bankruptcy court hearing, set for Thursday, Oct. 9.

Apple sends out invites for Oct. 16 event

Apple has sent out invitations to its upcoming event on Thursday, Oct. 16. “It’s been way too long,” says the invitation. As usual, the event will begin at 10 a.m. Pacific time. The company is expected to introduce its new iPads at the event, in addition to new iMacs.

Leaked photos of alleged iPad Air 2 show thinner body, Touch ID

  • October 8, 2014

A number of photos posted to Vietnamese blog tinthe.vn allege to show off Apple’s upcoming second-generation iPad Air. The shots show a thinner iPad Air — reportedly 7mm thin, about the same as the new iPhones — with Touch ID and recessed volume controls. Curiously, the photos also show no mute switch on the new iPad, though what will actually happen to the switch remains ambiguous. Speculation that the switch was removed to save space makes little sense, considering the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus retained the mute switch at the same thinness. Apple is expected to unveil the next-generation iPad Air on Oct. 16. [via 9to5Mac]

Google releases News & Weather for iOS

  • October 7, 2014

Google has released Google News & Weather, a free new universal iOS app that aims to bring users a complete dashboard of headline and local news stories and information. Boasting coverage from over 65,000 publications, the app allows users to get local news and weather based on their device’s location, and customize their layout with 60 country-specific editions and personalized news sections. Users can easily dig deeper based on individual stories to get additional related in-depth articles, opinion columns, local perspectives, and more. The new app employs Google’s new standardized interface found in many of the company’s other iOS apps, allowing users to swipe to access different categories or pull out a Google+ style sidebar menu.

 

Apple sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies files for bankruptcy

Apple’s sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies has announced that its has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company expects the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Hampshire to authorize GT to continue “business as usual” while focusing on reorganization. GT Advanced had approximately $85M in cash as of Sept. 29; the company is now hoping to obtain debtor-in-possession financing for a boost in funds. “GT has a strong and fundamentally sound underlying business,” GT President and CEO Tom Gutierrez said. “Today’s filing does not mean we are going out of business; rather, it provides us with the opportunity to continue to execute our business plan on a stronger footing, maintain operations of our diversified business, and improve our balance sheet.”

It’s unclear what the bankruptcy filing means for GT’s working relationship with Apple. Not only does Apple use sapphire for its Touch ID sensors and iPhone camera covers, but the stainless steel and 18-karat gold models of its upcoming Apple Watch will feature sapphire screen covers. There were reports that Apple would use sapphire more extensively in the newest iPhone 6 models, including front screen covers, but the parts never materialized. Reports have variously suggested that the sapphire screen covers missed shipment deadlines to be included in the iPhones, or that they failed damage tests prior to being included.

Adobe introduces suite of Creative Cloud mobile apps

Adobe has introduced its Creative Cloud mobile apps, a suite of nine apps in four categories now available in the App Store. Many of the apps work in tandem, while Adobe’s Creative Profile connects users to their works, whether in mobile or desktop apps. Some of the apps have been updated from past versions, while others are completely new. All of the iOS apps require a Creative Cloud membership — the free membership offers 2GB of Creative Cloud storage.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud Capture apps include: Adobe Brush CC, Adobe Shape CC, and Adobe Color CC. The design and illustration category features Adobe Illustrator Draw and Adobe Illustrator Line. Adobe Premiere Clip can be found in the video category, and the photography and creative imaging category contains Adobe Lightroom Mobile, Adobe Photoshop Mix, and Adobe Photoshop Sketch.

 

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Apple to hold new iPad event Oct. 16

Apple will hold its next special event on Thursday, Oct. 16, according to Re/code. The company will unveil “the latest updates to its iPad line” at the event, in addition to new iMacs and the public release of OS X Yosemite. This time around, the event is being held at Apple’s Town Hall Auditorium in Cupertino. It’s expected that we’ll see new, faster iPads with Touch ID, possibly with a gold color option.

Users reporting iOS 8 Bluetooth connectivity problems

Many users are having issues with Bluetooth connectivity following the update to iOS 8 earlier this month, as noted in a recent report from MacRumors. Reports from numerous users on the Apple Support forums and MacRumors forums indicate problems with connecting not only to car audio systems but also headphones, speakers, headsets, and more. Some have reported that Apple support is aware of the incompatibility issue with “some car/navigation Bluetooth” systems, pertaining at least to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and has said it is working on a fix. The problem with car audio systems appears to affect a wide variety of models, including Hyundai, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Toyota, Ford, and more. iLounge’s editors have experienced problems with the iPhone 6 Plus but not older iPhone models, although there are reports that other users of older devices are in fact experiencing similar problems. There have also been developer reports that Apple may have already addressed this issue in the iOS 8.1 beta released earlier this week.

Apps of the Week: Post-it Plus, WW2: Sandbox, Fruit Ninja 2.0 + more

New Apps

Post-it Plus (free) — This is a clever little app developed directly by 3M, maker of the iconic Post-it notes, designed to take your Post-its into the digital realm. With this app you can simply take a snapshot of a board filled with up to 50 Post-it notes and then individually rearrange and organize them in any way — you can group them into categories, or even combine notes from multiple sessions. The organized board can be shared with other users on your team who can work with the notes collaboratively, or you can export your board to apps such as Powerpoint, Excel, Dropbox, or PDF.

FitPort ($2) — If you’ve spent any time in the iOS 8 HealthKit app, you’ve probably discovered that while it’s a nice way to collect your health and fitness information in one place, it doesn’t offer a lot of flexibility for displaying that info. FitPort is a new app that aims to fill in some of those gaps by providing a “fitness dashboard” that will give you a straightforward and beautifully presented overview of your stats, taken right from the iOS Health app and iPhone sensors. Categories of information include steps, walking and running distance, cycling distance, calories, weight, and more, and iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users can even see data on flights of stairs climbed courtesy of the new barometric pressure sensor.

Apple releases another iTunes 12 beta

Apple has released a new beta for iTunes 12. We took an in-depth look at the first iTunes 12 beta in late July, and we’ll update this story with changes found in the new edition. The latest beta includes a few more cosmetic changes, such as simplifying certain Preferences screens, adding media categories with keyboard shortcuts to the View menu, and improving support for viewing sync settings when multiple iOS devices or iPods are connected.

Report: Apple asks labels to cut prices for cheaper Beats Music service

  • October 3, 2014

Apple is in discussions with major music labels about “a new set of rights and features” — and new pricing — for a revamped Beats Music service, Re/code reports. The company reportedly aims to offer the subscription service for less than its current $10/month rate. It’s noted that talks are still in their initial stages, and getting the labels to cut prices will “require some work on Apple’s part.” A restructuring of the service wouldn’t happen until 2015. It’s unknown what new features the updated service would offer, or if those features would be in any way connected to Apple’s partnership with U2. Apple declined comment on the report.

Apple names Steve Dowling new interim head of PR

Apple has appointed Steve Dowling as its new interim head of public relations for the company, Re/Code reports. A long-time member of Apple’s PR team, Dowling has been chosen to lead corporation communications following the retirement of Apple VP Katie Cotton earlier this year. Although a June report indicated that Apple had been looking for a “high-profile external candidate” to fill the position, it seems the company has decided to promote internally, at least for the time being—the Re/Code report notes that the company “will continue to evaluate worthy outside candidates if one should pop up.”

Apple patent application outlines Apple TV remote interface

Apple has filed a patent application titled “Browsing remote content using a native user interface,” describing ways in which an iOS application could serve as a second screen controller for an Apple TV. In contrast to Apple’s existing Remote app, this design would present the user with a more full-featured Apple TV or iTunes interface. The specific interface would be determined by the Apple TV and simply rendered by the iOS application in a manner appropriate to its own screen, effectively allowing for the UI to be presented in a variety of different ways appropriate to the content being browsed, searched for, or viewed. The patent application also suggests that users could simultaneously control the media device and search for or browse information from other sources “not available to the media device,” such as the web, and transmit information from the remote to the Apple TV — for example, users could visit an external web page featuring trivia for a movie currently being viewed, and then send that information back to be displayed on the Apple TV. The application also suggests ways in which iCloud or “other network-accessed sources” could store information or user interface templates specific to different devices, and ways to sync such information across multiple devices.

 

Pioneer NEX in-dash receivers support CarPlay with firmware update

Pioneer has announced that a new firmware update enables Apple CarPlay in five of its NEX in-dash multimedia receivers, as it becomes the first company to make an aftermarket CarPlay system available. While the company initially said CarPlay compatibility would be available in “early summer” this year, Pioneer has still beaten nearly everyone else to CarPlay inclusion, including Apple’s automotive partners — Apple quietly changed its CarPlay page recently to withdraw promises to 2014 availability. Pioneer’s NEX receivers range in price from $700 to $1400, and CarPlay will also be compatible with the company’s new $600 AppRadio 4. The firmware update is available for free on Pioneer’s firmware downloads page.

Logitech debuts Type+ Keyboard for iPad Air

Logitech has debuted its new Type+ keyboard case ($100) for iPad Air. Featuring an improved Bluetooth keyboard, Type+ provides a laptop-style typing experience and layout for iPad Air users while providing thin two-sided protection. The new keyboard design optimizes the distance between the keys and includes a dedicated row of iOS shortcut keys for quick access to iOS specific functions. The keyboard also automatically turns on and wakes your iPad when you open it, and puts your iPad to sleep and turns off when closed to preserve battery power. The Logitech Type+ will be available in black and red-orange starting this month.

Upcoming iPad Air to have gold color option

Apple will add a new gold color option to its newest iPad Air likely to be unveiled this month, Bloomberg reports. The gold color, which has been an iPhone color option since last year’s iPhone 5s, is reportedly being added to the lineup to boost sales. Interestingly, the report makes no mention of whether the next iPad mini will also come in gold. Apple declined comment.

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