News/Rumors

KGI:Apple to launch 4-inch iPhone and iPad Air 3 in first half of 2016

Apple is planning to release a 4-inch iPhone and a new iPad Air 3 in the first half of 2016, according to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Ever-credible KGI Securities analyst believes Apple’s upcoming 4-inch iPhone to be met with tepid demand, as the device’s form factor and hardware are mostly iterative. This device will likely come powered by Apple A8 chipset.

According to Ming-Chi, the iPhone 5se specifications will feature a 2.5D glass similar to the current-generation Apple iPhone 6s and a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera unit. The analyst recommends Apple users not to wait for any hardware innovation or form factor change from the smaller sibling.

In addition to the iPhone 5se, Apple will also be releasing its Apple iPad Air 3 tablet with a 9.7-inch display in the first half of 2016. The next-generation iPad will reportedly come with a 4K screen resolution and will be powered by an A9X processor.

Camera-wise, an 8-megapixel rear-facing sensor, in addition to a 2.1-megapixel front-facing shooter has been tipped. The new product will only be 5 mm thick and a fingerprint sensor will be embedded on the home button.

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As for Apple iPhone 7, Ming-Chi Kuo notes no surprise innovations in the information he has been able to confirm thus far, but he also said that the company is reportedly working on major enhancements with regard to chipset, sensor resolution and prolonging the battery life, and more.

News/Rumors

Apple hires top virtual reality researcher Doug Bowman

According to a new report out of the Financial Times, Apple has hired Doug Bowman, one of the top US researches in virtual reality.

Bowman most recently was a computer science professor at Virginia Tech before taking a sabbatical. He also worked as the director of the university’s human-computer interaction centre. Bowman focused on both fully-immersive VR and augmented reality. He was also granted a number of industry awards and other recognitions for his work, including a $100,000 grant from Microsoft for a HoloLens study. In addition, he’s consulted for Walt Disney’s Imagineering unit.

Apple has made several acquisitions in the virtual reality market over recent years. The company has also filed for several patents relating to virtual reality environments. Apple also purchased a number of companies, including Emotient, a firm focused on facial expression and emotion section technology, Faceshift, which is responsible for the motion capture technology used in Star Wars and finally Metaio, a startup that specialized in applications relating to augmented reality.

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 17: Fans attend Team USA's Virtual Reality Experience Powered by Samsung Gear VR during the 2015 Road to Rio Tour at the Head of the Charles Regatta on October 17, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images for Samsung)

According to the report from the Financial Times, Apple is still interested in virtual reality, which is believed to become the next large thing in computing platforms, and a lot of big companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Sony, HTC, Samsung and Google are planning to launch products.

News/Rumors

Apple’s battery suppliers use cobalt mined by child labor

According to a new investigation conducted by Amnesty International, Apple is using cobalt mined by child labor in their lithium-ion batteries.

The report, revealed on Monday by Amnesty and DPR non-profit Afrewatch, said children at the age of seven are mining for cobalt that makes its way into the supply chains of high-tech companies including Apple, Samsung, Sony, Microsoft and car manufacturers Daimler and Volkswagen .

There is a number of steps before the cobalt actually reaches an iPhone, however. Firstly, traders buy the mined cobalt from small producers, then sell it to Congo Dongfang Mining, a subsidiary of Chinese mineral purveyor Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Ltd. (Huayou Cobalt). Then battery manufacturers acquire the cobalt, using it to produce the lithium-ion batteries found in smartphones like the iPhone.

Amnesty International interviewed 87 current and former cobalt miners, 17 of which were children.

“Children told Amnesty International they worked for up to 12 hours a day in the mines, carrying heavy loads to earn between one and two dollars a day. In 2014 approximately 40,000 children worked in mines across southern DRC, many of them mining cobalt, according to UNICEF.”

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For its part, Apple gave a statement to the BBC, saying that “underage labor is never tolerated in our supply chain and we are proud to have led the industry in pioneering new safeguards.”

“We are currently evaluating dozens of different materials, including cobalt, in order to identify labour and environmental risks as well as opportunities for Apple to bring about effective, scalable and sustainable change.”

This isn’t the first time one of Apple’s suppliers has been found using child labor. Every year the company provides a Supplier Responsibility Progress Report that discloses information discovered in audits of its suppliers around the world.

News/Rumors

OS X 10.11.4 Beta brings Live Photos support for messages

Apple updated an OS X 10.11.4 beta to the OS X El Capitan operating system.

New features include Live Photo viewing and sharing in Messages, secure password protection for individual notes in Apple’s Notes app, and other enhancements.

OS X 10.11.4 brings improved Live Photos support in the Messages app. Users can now view Live Photos directly in the Messages app on a Mac running the operating system update.
When a message with a Live Photo is sent on OS X 10.11.4, it will include the familiar concentric circles icon that marks a Live Photo. If you click on a Live Photo, the mini photo viewer will appear allowing you to view any image within Messages on a Mac, and in this view, the Live Photo will now play when the Live Photo icon is clicked.
The update allows to see Live Photos content sent from friends and family without requiring to open it up on an iOS device or save it to Photos on the Mac.

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Check out our full coverage of OS X 10.11.4 and other betas released earlier this week below:

  • Apple releases first iOS 9.3, OS X 10.11.4, tvOS 9.2, & watchOS 2.2 betas
  • iOS 9.3 adds multi-user support for iPads in schools, new Classroom app, more
  • iOS 9.3 adds Night Mode, upgraded Health, Notes & News Apps + CarPlay Music
  • Photos: With tvOS 9.2, Apple TV adds Podcasts app, Folders, Bluetooth keyboard support, new app switcher and more
  • iOS 9.3 Gallery & Feature List: Night Shift, New 3D Touch features, updated Health app, Notes Touch ID, more
  • iOS 9.3 Preview: First look at updated Apple Music + Maps apps in CarPlay [Video]
  • tvOS 9.2 Preview: First look at Apple TV’s new Podcasts app, folders & switcher UI, Bluetooth keyboard support, more [Video]
  • iOS 9.3 Preview: First look at Night Shift mode, Touch ID Notes, new 3D Touch quick actions, much more [Video]
  • OS X 10.11.4 beta adds support for viewing and sharing Live Photos in Messages
  • Happy Hour Podcast 049 | Apple’s latest feature-packed beta releases

iOS 9.3 for public beta testers and iOS 9.3 beta 1.1 for developers are also available.

OS X 10.11.4 is expected to come alongside iOS 9.3, which will be released in the spring.

News/Rumors

Tim Cook:White House should “come out and say ‘no backdoors'” in encryption

Last week, Tim Cook met with White House officials to discuss the use of technology and social media in fighting terrorism.

According to the reports from The Intercept, the Apple CEO criticized the White House for its stance on encryption. Cook told the White House officials that the administration should “come out and say ‘no backdoors'” in encryption. He also said that backdoors in any sort of encryption create an opening for bad guys to access the private information of consumers.

The company presented an almost impenetrable data encryption protocol with iOS 8, one that Apple itself is unable to crack even with the proper warrants.

According to the document obtained by The Intercept, summit members also discussed whether tech firms would like to enact “high level principles” relating to terrorists’ use of encryption, or technologies that “could make it harder for terrorists to use the internet to mobilize, facilitate, and operationalize.”

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In addition to the Apple CEO, the meeting last Friday also included executives from Facebook, Twitter, Cloudflare, Google, Dropbox, Microsoft, and LinkedIn, as well as White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough,  Loretta Lynch, James Comey, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, NSA Director Michael Rogers, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

It is not the first time, the Apple CEO speaks about importance of privacy and security at the White House Cybersecurity Summit. Last month, Cook spoke to 60 Minutes about the importance for the company to protect its users’ personal information. 

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

Apple Music tops over 10 million subscribers

According to the Financial Times, Apple Music has passed 10 million subscribers across iOS, Mac, PC, Android and Apple TV in just six months.

Apple Music launched in June 2015 with a three month free trial. Since the launch, the company announced it has 6.5 million paying subscribers in October. In November, Apple launched Apple Music on Android which no doubt attracted additional new users.

Apple Music now has half as many paying customers as Spotify, which launched in Europe in October 2008. Unlike Apple Music, Spotify also provides a free ad-supported tier with limited features on desktop and mobile. 

Music industry analyst Mark Mulligan said last month that Apple Music would reach 8 million subscribers by the end of 2015, and he expects the service to have 20 million total users by the end of this year.

By comparison, Spotify reached 20 million paying subscribers for its streaming music service as of June 2015.Apple-Music

Apple has reportedly internally set a goal of reaching 100 million Apple Music subscribers. The company has relied on a number of exclusives with artists to push its streaming music service to customers. In December, Apple offered Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour clip as a free perk for Apple Music members.

iPhone, News/Rumors

iPhone 7 Plus said to feature 256GB option and larger 3,100 mAh battery

According to multiple reports, Apple’s next-generation iPhone 7 Plus may come with 256GB storage option and larger 3,100 mAh battery as two differentiating features over the smaller iPhone 7.

There is no confirmation if the iPhone 7 Plus will still feature 16GB base storage, or if the company will opt for larger storage options such as 32GB, 128GB and 256GB, compared to the iPhone 6s Plus lineup of 16GB, 64GB and 128GB models.

The rumored 3,100 mAh battery would be approximately 12.7% larger than the iPhone 6s Plus’s 2,750 mAh battery. If Apple does add a 256 GB option to the lineup, it’s likely the company will shuffle the other storage sizes.

iPhone-7-Plus

In addition, the company may remove the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in favor of an all-in-one Lightning connector, which means the products receive between 6.0mm and 6.5mm thinness and a waterproof design. The smartphones may also be provided with a quicker TSMC-built A10 chip and Intel 7360 LTE modem and non-metallic casing with hidden antenna bands. iPhone 7 Plus models could have 3GB of RAM.

The new flagship iPhones are expected in the fall.

Apps Lists, News/Rumors

The Beatles available on Apple Music on Christmas Eve

According to a new report from Re/code, The full music collection of The Beatles will be available on Apple Music starting on Christmas Eve.

The Beatles’ catalog will be made widely available on Dec. 24 on nearly every streaming service, including Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, Tidal, and Amazon Prime Music.

The Beatles will be available on all tiers of popular streaming services, including the free tier of Spotify.

The only music service that won’t get full access to The Beatles’ catalog is Pandora, which doesn’t do direct deals with music owners. Meanwhile, Pandora provides some access to select Beatles songs on its web radio service. Finally, The Beatles’ catalog will also be available on music services’ free tiers, unlike artists like Taylor Swift. 

thebeatles

The Beatles’ catalog first appeared on iTunes back in 2010, providing Apple with exclusive rights to the digital distribution of the famous band’s music until 2011. Additionally, “The Beatles: +1” collection recently debuted on iTunes, along with remastered versions of hit tracks and mini-movies made by the famous quartet.

News/Rumors

Inside Apple: Charlie Rose interviews Cook, other Apple execs

As expected, CBS has shared video of its Inside Apple interview conducted by 60 Minutes’ Charlie Rose. 

He discussed a wide range of topics with CEO Tim Cook and snagged behind-the-scenes looks at Jony Ive’s design studio, a next-gen Apple Store mockup and the Campus 2 construction site.

Cook again talked about how users shouldn’t have to selecte between privacy and national security. 

I think that’s an overly simplistic view,” Cook explained. “We’re America. We should have both.”

Apple CEO also explained that iOS products nowadays hold a lot of personal information, including health data, financial data, intimate conversations, and much more. It requires a special key to access that data, Cook said. And that’s a key to which even the company doesn’t have access.

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Finally, Cook and Rose discussed Apple’s use of Chinese labor and a number of problems that go along with it. Apple CEO said that the company’s use of foreign labor has nothing to do with wages, but rather with the skills that those workers possess and many American workers lack.

Rose also met with Jony Ive in his secret design studio. Ive walked Rose through the design process of some devices. Ive also demonstrated some sketches and electronic blueprints of the initial Apple Watch prototype and showed off how the aluminum case was made from a CNC machine. 

“All of these things, I think, in aggregate, if we manage to get them right, you sense that it’s an authenticate, really thoughtfully conceived object,” Ive said.

1Ive along with head of hardware Dan Riccio also talked about the process behind the battery of the new MacBook and the design challenges inherent in fitting a battery large enough to last all or most of the day into such a slim case. 

Retail chief Angela Ahrendts also offered Rose a quick tour of a mockup Apple Store located in an unmarked warehouse off of Apple’s main campus.

Tthe full interview, including online exclusives not shown during the TV presentation, is already available at the 60 Minutes website.

News/Rumors

Charlie Rose offers Inside Look at Jony Ive’s ‘Secret Design Studio’ on Sunday

Jony Ive will give a rare look into Apple’s design studio in Cupertino this coming Sunday, December 20th.

CBS has already shared several photos with the official “60 Minutes” Twitter feed on Thursday showing Rose chatting up Ahrendts and Ive on Apple’s campus. 

In addition to an excursion through the design lab, Rose will also get a “first look at Apple’s store of the future” from retail chief Angela Ahrendts. One image shows the pair walking into what looks like a concept for future store, which resembles current Apple store designs with modern touches.

According to some early reports, Ahrendts would partner with Ive on an Apple Store redesign to better feature Apple Watch, but the initiative later morphed into a complete brand overhaul.

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This isn’t the first time Charlie Rose has landed an interview with notable Apple executives. He has interviewed Ive and fellow designer Marc Newson in 2013, and did a great job in his discussion with Tim Cook last year.

60 Minutes with Jony Ive and Angela Ahrendts airs this Sunday, December 20th, at 7:30PM ET & 7PM PT on CBS in the United States.