A report from Macotakara has breathed new life into speculation about a possible iPad Air 3 and supports previous rumors that the new iPad mini 4 will be thinner than previous models. The blog cites sources saying the iPad mini 4 will have the same 6.1 mm thickness found in the iPad Air 2, making it slimmer than the 7.5mm thick iPad mini 3. The report also notes that the updated 8MP iSight camera found in the iPad Air 2 will likely make its way into the iPad mini 4, as well as the possibility of a fully laminated display and antireflective screen coating being included on the new device. The possibility of a new iPad Air 3 featuring an A9 chip — but still keeping the same external dimensions as the iPad Air 2 — being released alongside the new “iPad Pro” and the iPad mini 4 is also mentioned, flying in the face of other rumors suggesting the company was skipping an update to the iPad Air this time around.
Police in Beijing have busted a factory that made more than 41,000 fake iPhones — some of which reached the United States — and arrested nine suspects in the counterfeiting operation, Reuters reports. The group set up a factory in January under the guise of a gadget maintenance shop and hired hundreds of workers to repackage second-hand smartphone components for export as iPhones. Police raiding the facility on May 14 found 1,400 handsets and large quantities of accessories. Beijing police said the investigation began after they received a tip from U.S. authorities who had seized some of the fake iPhones. Apple declined to comment, saying the investigation was still ongoing. Knock-off Apple products in China have been a problem for years, pushing Apple to organize a team in 2008 to combat counterfeiters. In 2011, Chinese bloggers uncovered several unauthorized retailers that carefully replicated the look and feel of an Apple Store, right down to the employee uniforms. Since then, the Chinese government has taken stiffer action to protect intellectual property rights, cracking down on fakes and pushing firms to apply for trademarks and patents.
Apple is rumored to be interested in using the body of BMW’s i3 electric car as the starting point for its own electric car, Manager Magazin reports. The German-language publication claims that Apple CEO Tim Cook met with senior managers of the i3 project during a trip to Leipzig and opened negotiations with BMW in the fall of 2014. The talks broke off with no firm deal in place, but the companies have agreed to check in with one another from time to time in the future. Apple refused to comment on the story, but a BMW iDrive app was visible in initial demonstrations of Apple Watch and BMW has long been listed as an auto maker looking to add CarPlay into its vehicles. Cook has also taken meetings with the CEO of Fiat over Apple’s “intervention in the car.”
Apple and Nike have reached a proposed settlement in a class action lawsuit involving Nike’s FuelBand, with Nike offering cash to those affected. Apple is offering no compensation. The lawsuit, filed in 2013, claims that Nike and Apple made false claims about FuelBand’s ability to track calories burned and number of steps taken by users. Both companies still deny any wrongdoing, but Nike stopped producing FuelBands in April 2014 and Apple pulled the device from its stores this March. Under the proposed settlement, Nike is offering $15 cash or a $25 gift card to U.S. Nike stores for each member of the settlement class who submits a claim form and waives their rights to further action in connection with the lawsuit. U.S. residents who bought a Nike+ Fuelband between January 19, 2012 and June 17, 2015 are eligible for the settlement from Nike.
Starting August 7, Best Buy will be the first national retailer outside of Apple Stores to carry the Apple Watch. According to a press release from the company, more than 100 Best Buy stores and the retailer’s website will start selling Apple Watch next Friday, with another 200 stores slated to get the watch “in time for holiday shopping.” Customers will be able to try on and buy Sport and Watch models in 38mm and 42mm sizes, along with accessories including bands, screen shields, stands, and chargers.
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Apple has pulled the venerable Nest smart thermostat from its retail and online stores in the wake of a series of new HomeKit products, Mashable reports. Originally designed by former Apple engineers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, the Nest thermostat was at the leading edge of connected smart home products and considered by many to be inspired by an Apple design ethos, particularly when Apple became one of the first retailers to sell the device in 2012. While there was some speculation as to whether the Nest would continue to be sold in Apple stores when the company was acquired by Apple’s rival Google early last year, the placement of the product in stores remained largely unchanged.
Over the past year, however, Apple has made several moves to streamline the collection of products sold in its stores and remove products that either compete or don’t fit into the company’s more recent initiatives. For example, Fitbit wearable fitness trackers were removed last October after being slow to integrate with the new iOS 8 HealthKit framework, and Jawbone’s Up and Nike’s FuelBand followed in March shortly before the release of Apple’s own fitness solution in the form the Apple Watch. With the removal of the Nest coming as Apple begins selling the HomeKit-enabled EcoBee 3, this seems to herald a similar move of Apple selling only HomeKit integrated accessories in its stores.
Though Apple has already announced it will be driving vehicles in certain cities to collect Apple Maps data — it provides an updated location list on its website — iLounge spotted an Apple Maps van today in Tarrytown, N.Y. Tarrytown is located in Westchester County, N.Y., about 25 miles north of midtown Manhattan. The sighting isn’t entirely surprising, but it does give us some idea that Apple’s current data collection may expand significantly into the metro areas of the cities listed, as in this case. In a somewhat-related note, iOS 9’s Transit was found last month to go beyond its core cities.
Apple has announced its Back to School 2015 Promotion, later than usual this year and notably excluding any iOS devices or iPod-related offers. Between July 23 and September 18, educational customers purchasing an iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac Pro can also elect to receive a $199.95 credit to be applied to a pair of Beats Solo2 On-Ear Headphones or Beats Solo2 Wireless On-Ear Headphones purchased at the same time. The same promotion also applies to purchases made through the U.S. Apple Online Store, however for whatever reason the dates for online purchases are limited to August 6 through September 18.
Apple’s original Back to School promotions began in 2005 with the offer of a free iPod mini with the purchase of a Mac, a promotion that recurred annually in similar forms, changing to bundle an iPod nano and then eventually an iPod touch in 2010. After six years of including a free iPod with the purchase of a Mac, the promotion changed in 2011 to offer a free $100 iTunes Gift Card instead with the purchase of a Mac. Apple expanded the promotion in 2012 to also offer a $50 iTunes Gift card with the purchase of an iPad, and then again in 2013 to also include the iPhone. In 2014, the promotion switched from iTunes gift cards to Apple Store gift cards. This year marks the first time since the promotion began eleven years ago that no iPod, iOS device, or iTunes-related item has been included as part of the promotion.
While Apple has been expected for some time to release a new Apple TV with a remote that would reportedly incorporate a touchpad, a new patent revealed by Patently Apple suggests that Apple may be looking to go a step beyond a simple touchpad with an integrated Touch ID sensor. While the patent itself remains broad, referring simply to a “sensor configured to detect a biometric characteristic of a user,” a fingerprint appears to be the element highlighted in the main drawings, and the text suggests that biometric authentication could be used both for authentication to access secure features such as parentally locked content, as well as identifying a user to select a specific viewing profile such as favorite channels. With the Apple TV being positioned as a hub for Apple’s new HomeKit home automation service, the sensor could also extend to home applications, again both for security and customization.
Apple plans to allow MFi program partners to begin integrating charging pads into Apple Watch accessories, 9to5Mac reports. While existing Apple Watch stands offer a place to insert the standard Apple Watch charger and route cables through the stand, an integrated solution would provide a more efficient solution for consumers, allowing them to avoid having to insert and use their own chargers. The approach would reportedly be similar to how Apple provides components for third-party Apple Watch bands and Lightning cables, with MFi suppliers providing access to the charging components that accessory manufacturers would integrate into their own designs. The integrated charging pad would likely also provide for more design flexibility for third-party docks and stands. The program is said to still be in the early stages, with the component only available in “sample quantities” but Apple not yet open to accepting official plan submissions.
Apple has released the second public betas of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, corresponding to the fourth developer beta released earlier this week. Originally announced at WWDC, the public beta of iOS 9 allows non-developers to preview an early version of iOS 9 prior to the final release of a stable version in the fall. Users who have already signed up on the Apple Beta Website 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.
Microsoft has released its slimmed-down email messaging app, called Send, on iOS devices. Plans for the app leaked in May under the name Flow by Outlook, but despite the new name, details about the hybrid email/instant messaging app have remained mostly the same. The app works with Office 365 business and school email accounts, allowing users to send quick messages to any email address without bothering with the subject lines or signatures found in traditional email. Microsoft seems to be aiming squarely at businesses, making several mentions of how the short communications are meant to be sent to co-workers. “While tools like text messaging and IM are great for short messages, you often don’t have your co-worker’s cell phone number or an IM app on your work phone…Send gives you the simple, quick text message-like experience while allowing you to reach all co-workers and have all of your communications in Outlook for reference later,” the announcement reads.
The app is notably only available on iOS at launch, with versions for Windows and Android phones said to be coming soon. Microsoft also claims to be working on making the service available beyond its own Office 365 accounts in the coming months. Only messages sent through Send will appear in the app, but all messages sent in Send will be synced in Outlook for future reference. Conversations started in Send can also be continued in Outlook, just as any other email exchange.
In a move sure to make app developers happy, Apple has blocked users running an iOS beta on their device from writing reviews in the App Store. Developers have been asking for the change because negative reviews from users enrolled in Apple’s Beta Software Program — based on an app’s inability to work with an obviously unsupported operating system — drags down the app’s overall rating and could hurt potential sales. Apple likely didn’t consider the issue a problem when developers were the only ones running a beta version of iOS, but with beta iOS versions being released to the public since March, it’s possible those less knowledgeable users don’t realize that many apps haven’t been designed to run with that software. Beta users trying to leave a review will now be met with a pop-up telling them that the feature isn’t available.
Kicking off Apple’s conference call announcing its record-breaking numbers for Q3 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook reported that the company had its strongest June quarter ever, exceeding the high end of the company’s guidance by $1.6 billion and topping expectations for sales of the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. A June quarter record was set for the iPhone with 35 percent growth, gains in marketshare in all geographic segments, and revenue up 59 percent in both developed and emerging markets. Cook also highlighted that this quarter had the highest switcher rate from Android that has yet been measured, and spoke about the iPhone’s continuing high customer satisfaction rate. The quarter also saw Apple pulling in revenue of $5 billion in services, with the App Store seeing its best quarter ever with 24 percent growth.
Cook went on to talk on the Apple Watch being a major highlight of the quarter, speaking on the initial launch of pre-orders in 9 countries on April 10th and the delayed retail availability due to demand exceeding supply by “a wide margin,” but noted that the Apple Watch has now expanded to a total of 19 countries currently and three more are expected to be added at the end of this month. Notably, however, Apple CFO Luca Maestri later stated that Apple will not be disclosing specific sales numbers of Apple Watch as they do not want to provide information “that would help [their] competitors.” Cook commented, however that Apple has received “incredibly positive” feedback from the Apple Watch, with a 97 percent customer satisfaction rate, and that Apple has been “very happy” with the usage statistics it is seeing for the wearable device. Cook went on to highlight how doctors and researches at leading hospitals in the U.S. and Europe are using the Apple Watch to improve patients’ lives in areas such as doctor-patient communication and patient health monitoring, and mentioned how the Apple Pay and Siri user experience on the Apple Watch is “nothing short of incredible” and noted that 8,500 third-party apps are now available for Apple Watch, stating “it’s a rare privilege to launch a new platform with such potential.”
Speaking about the launch of Apple Music on June 30th, Cook noted that customers and reviewers have loved the human curation features of Apple Music and how it’s helping people discover new music, with “millions and millions” of customers having signed up for the three-month trial period, and 15,000 artists on board to post on the new Connect service. Addressing the U.K. launch of Apple Pay, Cook noted over a quarter million of locations on day one, with credit and debit cards from the U.K.‘s most established banks, and highlighted how U.K. users can use Apple Pay for the London Underground, hoping it will become a model for other public transportation systems around the world. For Apple Pay in the U.S., Cook noted how the new Square reader coming this fall will bring Apple Pay to “even more neighborhood businesses” and how 80,000 small and medium sized businesses are being added every month. He also mentioned that American Express will be adding corporate card Apple Pay support next month, 700 universities and colleges will begin accepting Apple Pay this fall, and 1.5 million U.S. locations are expected to support Apple Pay by the end of 2015.
Apple reported its third quarter 2015 financial results today, with 47.5 million iPhones and 10.9 million iPads sold. The company posted quarterly revenue of $49.6 billion and quarterly net profit of $10.7 billion, or $1.85 per diluted share. In Q3 2014, Apple had revenue of $37.4 billion and net profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share. Gross margin was 39.7 percent compared to 39.4 percent a year ago. International sales contributed to 64 percent of this quarter’s revenue.
For Q4 2015, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $49 billion and $51 billion, and gross margin between 38.5 percent and 39.5 percent. Apple’s earnings call will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern time, and can be heard live on the company’s investor website.
After quietly dropping Home Sharing in iOS 8.4 and later tweeting that it would be working to bring it back in iOS 9, it appears that Apple has taken at least a partial step in this direction. iOS 9 beta 4, released earlier today, returns the Home Sharing option under Music in the iOS 9 Settings app, although the feature doesn’t yet appear to yet be implemented in the actual Music app. At this point, it remains unclear exactly how Home Sharing will be implemented in the new Music app and how it will interact with Apple Music and iCloud Music Library, but the appearance of this option in the latest beta suggests that Apple is at least working to address the omission.
Popular email provider FastMail has announced that it is now offering full support for push email in the native iOS Mail app. While, like many other email providers, FastMail had previously released a dedicated iOS app for its service, it is the first third-party email provider to implement native push e-mail in the built-in iOS Mail app since MobileMe (now iCloud) and Yahoo Mail first introduced the capability in 2008. However, while iCloud only provides the pushing of new messages, FastMail’s implementation goes beyond this, pushing out updates for any changes to the user’s mailbox or other folders, so that the iOS Mail client gets updated instantly when messages are read, deleted, or moved using other devices. FastMail indicates that the new feature is automatically enabled for all accounts on its service and doesn’t require any special configuration on the iOS device; existing FastMail users should simply begin seeing e-mail updates pushed to their devices, and new users can setup their FastMail account in the iOS Mail app in the same way as any other generic IMAP account.
Apple has released the fourth developer beta of iOS 9. Featuring a build number of 13A4305g, the fourth iOS 9 beta lacks specific release notes, but likely continues to focus on improving the stability and reliability of the new features in the operating system. A new watchOS beta with a build number of 13S5305d has also been posted, which can be installed via a configuration profile that requires the corresponding iOS 9 beta to be installed, along with new betas of Xcode 7 and Apple Configurator.
A newly introduced technology may soon make the dedicated fingerprint scanner in the iPhone’s home button obsolete, as Sonovation announced that it has created ultrasonic biometric sensors capable of reading fingerprints through Corning’s Gorilla Glass. Rumors have circulated about Apple looking to do away with the home button, and Sonovation claims to have developed the technology to make such a move possible — it’s unknown how far along Apple may be in developing its own version of such a method. Sonovation CTO Rainer Schmitt says the new scanners — bonded directly onto the glass display material — are “well suited for through-the-glass fingerprinting and specifically architected to deliver advanced security and ease-of-integration into mobile and IoT devices.” The company didn’t provide much in the way of details about how the new scanner works, but it claims 3D scanning can take place even when a finger is wet, dirty or oily without compromising accuracy. [via The Next Web]