Apple retail exec Ahrendts indicates “spring” launch date for Apple Watch

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Date: Monday, November 3rd, 2014, 11:16
Category: Hardware, Rumor, Wearables

The latest word is that the Apple Watch will launch next spring.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts, stated the device’s release timeframe to retail employees in a video message, a transcript of which was provided by a source. While explaining that employees need to conserve energy for upcoming shopping seasons, Ahrendts stated, “we’re going into the holidays, we’ll go into Chinese New Year, and then we’ve got a new watch launch coming in the spring:”

Up until this point, Apple has consistently said that the Apple Watch will ship in “early 2015,” without specifying a day or month. The broad window was announced at the Apple Watch’s unveil in September, is stated on Apple’s website, and was reiterated by Apple executives last month. Sources indicated in September that Apple would struggle to hit a Valentine’s Day release, which now appears to be even more unlikely. Spring begins on March 20th and lasts until June. If Apple considers late March to be “early 2015,” there may have actually been no change in plans. However, Ahrendts clearly states the launch is after the Chinese New Year (February 19th), so it appears the launch will miss Valentine’s Day regardless.

Last year, a report indicated that Apple planned to ship the wearable in fall 2014, but engineering difficulties delayed the launch to 2015. Subsequent reports confirmed that battery issues were partially to blame for Watch delays, and sources tell us that Apple is still working out kinks in the device’s battery system. Tim Cook has noted that Apple intends for the first-generation model to last all day and be charged each night. While Apple has reportedly hit that particular goal, the company is still working to speed up the amount of time it takes the inductive MagSafe charging system to fully juice up the product.

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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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Users levy class action law suit against Apple for mid-2011 MacBook Pro GPU failures

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Date: Tuesday, October 28th, 2014, 16:26
Category: Hardware, Legal, MacBook Pro, News

If the GPU on your mid-2011 MacBook Pro failed and you wound up picking up the cost of replacing it, there may be some legal recourse that could help you out.

Per AppleInsider, a long-running issue with owners of Apple’s 2011 series of MacBook Pros has resulted in a class-action lawsuit, seeking compensation for apparent graphics card failures experienced by customers.

The firm of Whitfield, Bryson & Mason LLP announced on Tuesday that it has filed a class-action complaint in a California federal court against Apple. The lawsuit covers residents of both California and Florida who purchased 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks with AMD graphics.

The complaint was filed on behalf of plaintiffs Zachary Book, Donald Cowart, and John Manners. The lawsuit alleges that Apple failed to reimburse owners for out-of-pocket repairs that could cost anywhere from US$350 to US$600.

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The Mac mini’s Intel GPU won’t cut it as a 4K media center

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Date: Tuesday, October 28th, 2014, 07:18
Category: 4K, Apple, Hardware, Mac mini, Television, UHD, Yosmite

Yosemite's 4K support is pretty poor - Jason O'Grady

I purchased a Samsung 4K television (a UN65F9000) for our family room and was super-excited to buy a late-2014 Mac mini (Macmini7,1, model A1347) to complete our entertainment center. The problem is that the Mac mini’s anemic GPU can’t drive a 4K display at a fast enough refresh rate to play smooth video, which is a bummer.

I’ve used a Mac mini connected to a 1080p panel in my living room for years, and it’s always worked great. A Mac mini is great in a media center computer, there’s nothing like having a real web browser for watching live streams and video podcasts and VLC media player is the de facto standard for playing every video CODEC known to mankind. (Tons of people also swear by Plex but I haven’t taken the time to set it up.)

I was optimistic that Apple would properly support 4K (UHD, 2160p) after early Yosemite rumors claimed that it would. When connected to my 65-inch Sammy 4K TV, the 2014 Mac mini can only muster a paltry 30 Hertz refresh rate, which is unacceptable for video. It results in choppy, unwatchable playback. The mini’s poor video performance is a result of its underpowered Intel Iris Graphics.

If you’re thinking of connecting a Mac to a 4K panel, beware. The only Macs that will do 4K justice are those that have a discrete graphics card – and you’ll probably need a $3K Mac Pro to do it right.

I connected my MacBook Pro Retina 13-inch to the Samsung F900 panel and it too only supports 30 Hz output, which won’t fly for video playback. The 13-inch rMBP only has Intel Iris 5100 Graphics which isn’t enough to drive a 4K panel at 60 Hz. According to the Apple Discussion Forums:

  • the 15″ rMBP w/NVidia does support 60Hz
  • the 13″ rMBP w/Iris does not support 60 Hz

If you want to drive a 4K monitor at 60Hz from a Mac you’ll need one with a discrete GPU. Boom. Sounds like the best justification I’ve heard to purchase a Mac Pro yet.

What’s your Mac media center setup?

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

ipaddisplayshootout

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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Rumor: Apple in negotiations to use NFC technologies as entry keycards, transit tickets

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Date: Monday, October 27th, 2014, 10:14
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

If NFC technology isn’t as widespread as it could be, Apple wants to increase its presence. According to 9to5Mac and The Information, Apple is actively scouting out partnerships to increase the utility of the NFC chip inside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Right now, the chip can only be used for payments through Apple Pay as the API is not available to third-party developers.

Sources have stated that the company is talking to potential partners about using the technology for things like building security, public transit tickets and more. The report names that Apple has already been in talks with HID Global and Cubic, who make electronic ‘keycard’ secure building access and transit fare systems.

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The Apple representatives have talked to technology providers like HID Global and Cubic, which enable secure access to buildings and transit fare systems, respectively, said people briefed on the discussions. Spokespeople for the companies declined to comment about any discussions with Apple, but executives there discussed how they could integrate their systems with the iPhone.

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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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iFixit completes teardown of iPad 2 Air, posts discoveries

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Date: Thursday, October 23rd, 2014, 08:54
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

The cool cats at iFixit have torn down the iPad 2 Air and found some interesting stuff inside.

Per iFixit and AppleInsider, the new tablet comes with a 9.7-inch laminated touch panel, A8X SoC, 8MP rear-facing camera, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Touch ID fingerprint reader. The shell was also redesigned, seeing the deletion of the orientation lock/mute button and minor aesthetic modifications to the speaker grille and volume control buttons.

The teardown finally put a number on battery capacity, with the Air 2 sporting a 27.62 watt hour, 7,340mAh dual-cell unit, down from last year’s 32.9 watt-hour configuration. According to Apple, that will get you about 10 hours of continuous use per charge, or 9 hours on the Wi-Fi + Cellular model.

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Rumor: A8X processors allegedly feature three cores, 2GB of RAM

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Date: Tuesday, October 21st, 2014, 17:47
Category: Hardware, iPad, Processors, Rumor, Uncategorized

While Apple has yet to reveal the exact specifications of its A8X processor, it seems to feature some sexy tech traits. Per AppleInsider and Gizmobic, a new benchmark purports to show the horsepower of the CPU, revealing a triple-core processor with 2 gigabytes of RAM.

The purported details on the A8X chip claimed to show a new “iPad5,4″ model. Based on Apple’s IPSW files available to developers, that model would be a LTE-capable iPad Air 2.

A separate test focused on RAM speed also appears to show that the iPad Air 2 has a full 2 gigabytes of RAM. In contrast, the A8 CPU found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is a dual-core processor with 1 gigabyte of RAM.

The benchmarks published represent an out-of-date testing tool not optimized for assessing the performance of Apple’s latest hardware, which may explain why the iPad Air 2 performs poorly in some of the tests.

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