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

Posted by:
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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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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Walgreens weighs in on Apple Pay, CurrentC conflict, offers snarky response to competitors CVS and Rite Aid

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Date: Friday, October 31st, 2014, 11:51
Category: Uncategorized

It’s not a huge step in the squabble between Apple and retail chains like CVS and Rite Aid who are opting out of Apple Pay to keep using CurrentC, but it is another chain taking advantage of the conflict.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, CVS competitor Walgreens has chosen its weapon for the battle, and that weapon is snark.

The company is currently promoting the following Tweet on Twitter.
Hey, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users! The choice is yours: Use #ApplePay today at any of our stores!

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Apple Pay fans tears down CurrentC’s App Store rating, MCX suggests possible switch to NFC technology

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Date: Thursday, October 30th, 2014, 11:53
Category: Finance, iOS, News, Software

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The most recent volley in the NFC payment war between Apple Pay and the MCX consortium’s CurrentC mobile payment service has been fired.

And it has a lot to do with app reviews.

Per 9to5Mac, a number of users have expressed their displeasure with the CurrentC app, at the time of writing, the app having accumulated 2,856 1-star reviews against a total of just 30 reviews giving it 2 stars or more …

The movement to boycott merchants who are members of the MCX consortium also seems to be growing in popularity, gaining a Boycott MCX website with a full list of members. When you click on the name of a consortium member (CVS Pharmacy in the example shown below), a list of competing stores who accept or plan to accept Apple Pay is displayed.

Having been criticized for its clunky use of QR codes, MCX said yesterday that CurrentC may “pivot to NFC over time.” The company had earlier said that it was “entirely possible” that it would do a U-turn on its current exclusivity requirement and allow merchants to accept both CurrentC and Apple Pay at some point in the future, though no certainty or timeframe was offered.

MCX CEO Dekkers Davidson also expanded on yesterday’s less than convincing assurances about data security, saying that the recent hack “does not impact the rollout of CurrentC at all” – that the company expected attacks and will “deal with them.”

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Hours after citing capable security, CurrentC announces unauthorized access of users’ email accounts

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 29th, 2014, 16:35
Category: Finance, iOS, News, security, Uncategorized

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Hubris, anyone?

Just hours after publishing a blog post answering some questions about its upcoming CurrentC mobile payments system and touting the security of its cloud-based storage of sensitive information, the company behind the effort, Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) has alerted users of unauthorized access to their email addresses.

Per MacRumors, the company released the following statement:

Thank you for your interest in CurrentC. You are receiving this message because you are either a participant in our pilot program or requested information about CurrentC. Within the last 36 hours, we learned that unauthorized third parties obtained the e-mail addresses of some of you. Based on investigations conducted by MCX security personnel, only these e-mail addresses were involved and no other information.

Details on the unauthorized access have not been disclosed, but reporter Nick Arnott of iMore took some time earlier this week took a look at some of the personal information being collected by MCX and CurrentC and noted that he could ping CurrentC’s systems to look for valid registered email addresses on the system. While he did not find valid addresses, the system appeared capable of returning a substantial amount of personal information about such accounts.

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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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Microsoft releases updated Office 365 APIs, iOS SDKs to development community

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Date: Wednesday, October 29th, 2014, 11:48
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Not that the competition between Apple and Microsoft will ever truly go away, but this could herald in slightly better relations between the two companies, especially given how long it took Microsoft Office to come to iOS.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Microsoft has released a new series of tools for developers looking to improve integration between their apps and the company’s Office 365 service. For iOS users and developers, the main point of interest will be the new 365 APIs for mail, files, calendar, and contacts. There is currently more than 400 petabytes of data stored via Office 365, and these news tools will allow developers to access that information from their own apps.

These API’s will provide better options for connecting apps to users who need to use Office 365. Microsoft hopes to see travel reservation apps that connect to your 365 calendar and sales automation apps that integrate with your mail and files to save and send receipts.

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MCX responds to Apple Pay blocking controversy with questionable responses to issues at hand

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 29th, 2014, 11:46
Category: Finance, iOS, iPhone, News, security, Software

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The most recent shot in the NFC payment wars has been fired.

And it kind of made MCX look like a bunch of jerks.

Per 9to5Mac, MCX, the retailer consortium behind the CurrentC mobile payment system, has responded to the controversy over its members being required to block Apple Pay or face fines with some unconvincing ‘assurances.’

The first sign of trouble between MCX and Apple Pay was when CVS disabled NFC functionality from its payment terminals. When Rite Aid joined in, consumers responded by threatening to boycott MCX members.

In a blog post which MCX says is designed to “set the record straight,” as it were, MCX responded to some of the recent concerns levied against it.

Responding to the fines issue, the company offered the following comment:

Importantly, if a merchant decides to stop working with MCX, there are no fines.

Nobody has suggested there are. What has been suggested–and which MCX has not denied–is that members are fined if they accept other forms of mobile payment, like Apple Pay, alongside CurrentC.

The consortium gets off to a marginally better start on privacy, with a statement that consumers “can choose to limit the information they share through our privacy dashboard, which means they will have the ability turn off location based services and opt out of marketing communications in our app.” However, that does nothing to limit the storage of other sensitive information, nor to address claims that merchants will share purchasing data amongst themselves.

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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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