Apple releases iOS 8.1.1 update

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Date: Monday, November 17th, 2014, 18:50
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

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It’s a minor update, but it might make a difference.

Per MacRumors, Apple has released iOS 8.1.1, a minor update that includes several bug fixes. Apple first seeded the iOS 8.1.1 beta to developers on November 3.

iOS 8.1.1 is available immediately as an over-the-air download or through iTunes and includes bug fixes and increased stability and performance improvements for both the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4s, two of the older devices that support the operating system.

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Review: SurfacePad for iPhone 6 and iPad

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Date: Monday, November 17th, 2014, 08:14
Category: Accessory, Cases, iPad, iPhone, iPhone 6

SurfacePad iPhone 6 - Jason O'GradySome people use cases on their iPhones, some people don’t. If you’re in the second group I’m going to give you reason to consider a case.

While purists don’t want to cover the iPhone 6′s smooth, elegant curves, it’s easy to scratch its beautiful retina display (and aluminum back) while bouncing around in a pocket, bag or purse with a set of keys – and whatever else you might have in there.

What to do?

The good news is that you don’t have to cover your iPhone with a flak jacket or suit of armor to protect your investment, there’s a nice middle ground.

Enter the SurfacePad for iPhone ($49.99) by Twelve South. Its a slim, leather, folio-type case that adds barely any heft and just enough coverage to protect the front and back of your iPhone – without covering its trademark curves.

The SurfacePad sticks to the back of the iPhone 6 with an adhesive that’s removable and reusable. I didn’t stick mine on straight the first time and removed and reapplied it a couple of times before I got it perfect. The flap wraps around to cover the screen of the iPhone and includes pockets for two cards (like a debit card and driver’s license) on the inside front cover.

When combined with Apple Pay SurfacePad makes a compelling case for ditching the bulky, old-school wallet.

The volume buttons (along the left side) are still usable through the soft Napa leather and there’s a notched cutout for the camera lens and flash. The front flap doubles as a stand (for watching slideshows and movies) when flipped around back and the supple leather both looks and feels great. The contrasting stitching adds a touch of style and distinguishes the SurfacePad from all the anonymous cases on the market.

Don’t get complacent though. Front and rear flaps only provide a limited amount of protection, that while helpful, won’t protect your iPhone from impact against a hard surface. That’s the tradeoff with a case like the SurfacePad, it’s so thin that you won’t notice it in your pocket, but it also won’t protect your iPhone’s edges if you drop it on the sidewalk.

I’ve been using the SurfacePad (with debit card and DL) on my iPhone 6 for a week and haven’t needed to reach for my wallet once. SurfacePad is just the excuse I’ve been looking for to dump my bulky leather wallet for good.

SurfacePad is available in black, red, white and my personal favorite, camel for $39.99 (iPhone 6) and $49.99 (iPhone 6 Plus).

Pictures of the SurfacePad for iPhone 6 – and the similarly beautiful SurfacePad for iPad – after the jump.

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Rumor: Apple beginning to court enterprise markets via dedicated sales team

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Date: Thursday, November 13th, 2014, 10:12
Category: Finance, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Rumor

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Remember how Apple seemed like a second class citizen in the business and enterprise world?

That might be about to change.

According to Reuters, Apple is embarking on its most aggressive expansion yet onto corporate turf, hiring a dedicated sales force to talk with potential clients like Citigroup and working in concert with a dozen or so developers, two sources familiar with its plans say.

Experts say the company hopes to offset a gradual deceleration in growth – highlighted by iPad sales that have declined three straight quarters – by expanding its footprint in the workplace.

Three months after unveiling a partnership with IBM to develop apps for corporate clients and sell them on devices, the iPhone maker’s plans to challenge sector leaders Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Oracle and SAP are starting to take shape.

Details remain scant, but some industry experts say that the tie-up with Big Blue gives Apple an opportunity to begin to challenge Hewlett Packard’s and Dell’s dominance of office IT, and Oracle and SAP’s command of work applications. Depending on its progress, it may hamper Microsoft, Samsung’s or Google’s own efforts in the nascent market for mobile work applications.

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Wal-Mart posts Black Friday deals, offers gift cards ahead of shopping holiday

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Date: Wednesday, November 12th, 2014, 10:04
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, retail

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You may not love their corporate policies, wages or the fact that you can’t use Apple Pay at their stores yet, but they’ve begun offering some decent deals.

Per MacRumors, retailer Wal-Mart today posted its Black Friday ad, revealing a number of deals on various Apple and Beats products for the upcoming holiday shopping season. The announcement follows the reveal of Black Friday ads from Best Buy and Target, which contained a number of deals on iPads, iPhones, and more.

Starting at 6 PM on November 27, Wal-Mart is offering the original 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad mini for US$199 which also comes with a US$30 gift card. Starting at 8 PM on November 27, the retailer will offer the 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad Air for US$397 which also comes with a US$100 gift card. Customers can also purchase the 16GB iPhone 6 at US$179 and receive a US$75 gift card, while the 16GB iPod touch is being offered for US$195 with a US$30 gift card. Additionally, a three-pack of iTunes gift cards will be on sale for US$25, US$5 off from the normal US$30 price.

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Analysis of A8X chip shows eight core design, other unique features

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Date: Wednesday, November 12th, 2014, 09:33
Category: Hardware, iPad, News, Processors

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There may be more to Apple’s A8X processor than was originally thought.

Per 9to5Mac, further analysis of the processor by AnandTech showed that initial guesses as to the GPU specification of the Apple A8X chip, exclusively available in the iPad Air 2, were wrong. In fact, the chip uses a unique 8 cluster design. AnandTech describes the discovery as “even better than I thought”. Although the customizations are limited, this represents a big step for the company as it is now dabbling in both custom CPU and GPU engineering, even if the leap over generally-available components in this instance is small.

Effectively, Apple has engineered a way to stick two Imagination GX6450 PowerVR chips on the same die.

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Rumor: Apple to discontinue iPad mini in favor of larger 12-inch “iPad Pro” model

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Date: Tuesday, November 4th, 2014, 10:00
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

It’s just a rumor, but it’s got some decent sources behind it.

Per AppleInsider and Taiwan’s Economic Daily News, a rumor out of East Asia on Monday claims Apple is looking to wind down iPad mini production in favor of a 12-inch tablet, a response to flagging sales and growing consumer interest in larger-screened devices.

Citing sources in Apple’s supply chain, the Economic Daily News reports the company is looking to discontinue iPad mini sales when the tablet lineup is refreshed next year and will instead concentrate on production of a new 12-inch format being called “iPad Pro.”

The shift in tablet strategy is said to be in reply to a shifting smartphone market, which has seen consumers gravitate toward devices with screens larger than 5 inches when measured diagonally. Apple itself has seen unexpectedly high demand for the new 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, the company’s first “phablet” handset.

Also cited as a catalyst for change is increasingly aggressive competition in the tablet sector, with competitors like Samsung slowly nibbling away at Apple’s dominant marketshare. For the most recent fourth fiscal quarter of 2014, Apple moved 12.3 million iPads, down 17 percent from 14.1 million year-over-year.

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Rumor: Apple designing larger, thinner “iPad Pro” tablet for education market

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Date: Monday, November 3rd, 2014, 10:23
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

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The new iPads are out.

That doesn’t stop the rumor mill speculating about the next generation of the tablets.

Per AppleInsider and Macotakara, the latest rumblings surrounding the anticipated release of a larger, education-focused iPad next year suggest the device may touch down with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 in its crosshairs, sporting a super-slim form factor, enhanced audio, and a slightly more compact 12.2-inch display.

Macotakara has cited its own sources as saying that iPad maker is specifically designing the device to play into the same markets as Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, but adds that the company may choose to employ a slightly more compact 12.2-inch display than the 12.9-inch option that is widely rumored and also used by the Surface Pro 3.

The overall design of the iPad Pro itself is said to largely resemble a jumbo iPad 2 with two additional speakers (and an additional microphone) located at the top of the device, which “might” make the iPad Pro “capable of supporting stereo audio.” It reportedly won’t be as thin as the 6.1mm iPad Air 2, but will still be as slim as an iPhone, measuring somewhere between the iPhone 6′s 6.9mm and the iPhone 6 Pro’s 7.1mm at its thickest point.

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IHS iSuppli completes iPad Air 2 teardown, estimates slightly higher manufacturing and component costs

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Date: Wednesday, October 29th, 2014, 15:21
Category: Finance, Hardware, iPad

As is customary, the new iPad Air has been torn down to get an approximate fix on his much its component pieces retailed for.

The answer for the iPad Air 2 is about US$275.

Per MacRumors and Re/code, research firm IHS iSuppli has torn down the new iPad Air 2 in an attempt to estimate Apple’s component costs for the device. According to IHS iSuppli’s estimates, the 16 GB iPad Air 2 costs Apple roughly US$275 to build, just one dollar more than last year’s iPad Air.

The report unsurprisingly points out that Apple benefits from stronger profit margins as users move to higher capacity models, with Apple paying only about US$50 more for 128 GB of storage compared to the base 16 GB configuration while charging users US$200 for the upgrade. Still, Apple’s move to eliminate the 32 GB option and slide the 64 GB and 128 GB models down US$100 has slightly eroded Apple’s profit margins at the top end.

The latest report from the research firm IHS, shows that the base model of the iPad Air 2, the 16-GB Wi-Fi version, which sells for a price of US$499, costs $275 to build, exactly one dollar higher than the previous base model. The top-end model, the 128-GB LTE version costs which sells for US$829, costs US$358 to manufacture.

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Displaymate performs Display Technology Shoot Out tests on iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, finds both impressive and disappointing results

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Date: Monday, October 27th, 2014, 16:58
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

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The tests have been run, the results have come in and the answer may be a bit of a downer for iPad 3 mini owners.

Over on displaymate.com, Raymond Soneira has just pitted Apple’s recently released iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 displays against each other in almost every category imaginable. The tests and results, which can be found here, run the tablets through criteria such as power efficiency, viewing angles, screen brightness in high ambient lighting, absolute color accuracy, etc.

The tests found that the iPad Air 2′s new anti-reflection coating on its glass cover helps cut ambient light by about 3:1 over most other tablets and smartphones (including the previous iPads), and about 2:1 over all of the very best competing Tablets and Smartphones (including the new iPhone 6). The tests recorded a 62 percent decrease in reflected light glare compared to the previous iPads (Apple claims 56 percent) and agree with Apple’s claim that the iPad Air 2 is “the least reflective display of any tablet in the world”.

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AT&T confirms Apple SIM card lock, says customers will need to buy new SIM card to change carriers

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Date: Monday, October 27th, 2014, 10:11
Category: Hardware, iPad, News, wireless

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There may be increased competition and good deals to be had in the wireless markets, but the major carriers will still try to lock you in…

Per Re/code, wireless carrier AT&T has apparently taken advantage in the change to the SIM card found in the new iPad, which apparently allows customers to designate which wireless carrier they’d like to use it with, by essentially locking its customers in to the service, requiring the customer to purchase an entirely new SIM card to change their provider.

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel confirmed to Re/code that customers who use the Apple SIM on AT&T will need another SIM card to switch carriers, but stressed that the device itself remains unlocked.

“With us you can change carriers with this iPad any time you want,” he said. “It is an unlocked device. … All [you] have to do is switch out the SIM in the device so it works on another carrier.”

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