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Advanced Apple TV Remote Interface for iOS and Macs Outlined in Apple Patent Application

A recent Apple patent application (via AppleInsider) reveals some of the company's efforts looking into ways of improving the Apple TV and iTunes desktop experience using iOS. The newly published patent application, titled "Browsing remote content using a native user interface," describes a mobile application that would serve as a second screen for a connected media device.

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Mobile devices and computers displaying native interfaces for viewing content and sending controls to media device

This smarter iOS-based remote detailed in the patent moves away from the current Remote app that mimics a hardware remote by providing a robust Apple TV or iTunes interface on the mobile device. Users could then browse, search or perform other advanced functions right from the mobile device.
The disclosed technology relates to receiving media signals from a media device and rendering a user interface that is native to the device receiving the media signals based on information encoded in the media signals. The device receiving the media signal interprets information received from the media device describing media content and semantic information describing a type of interface page, and displays the content based on the semantic information in a graphical user interface (GUI) on the electronic device based on the interpretation.
Other descriptions in the patent application, which was filed in March 2013, suggest iOS owners could use the remote to search the web for information, such as the cast of the movie they are watching, and display that information on the big screen.

Apple is rumored to be working on a new Apple TV that could launch sometime in 2015. The company reportedly is working with cable companies to negotiate access to live and on-demand content, but has run into numerous obstacles on the content front.

The new Apple TV may include an App Store, Siri integration and more. It is not yet clear whether the device will be a cable-supported set-top box, an updated version of the current Apple TV, or a combination set-top box and streaming media device, as Apple has been rumored to be working on a variety of different options.

As with many Apple patent applications showing unreleased inventions, there are no assurances the disclosed inventions will ever be released, but they can sometimes reveal hints about the company's areas of interest and research.

Related roundup: Apple TV

Marc Newson Hired Part-Time at Apple for Specific Undisclosed Projects

Designer Marc Newson recently spoke to architecture and design magazine Dezeen in his first interview since joining Apple. Though most of the conversation focuses on a new consumer beer machine he created along with Heineken, Newson does reveal some interesting tidbits about his current role at Apple.

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Marc Newson with Jonathan Ive, courtesy of Vanity Fair

Newson confirms to Dezeen's Amy Frearson that he is working for Apple part-time and was hired for very specific reasons he would not disclose. He will remain in the UK while continuing to work on projects for his existing company.
Amy Frearson: You've taken on quite a major role with Apple, do you think you'll still have time to work on these kinds of project as well?

Marc Newson: Yes absolutely, because my role at Apple doesn't necessitate all of my time and that was for very specific reasons, so absolutely, my company still exists and I remain based in the UK.
When asked about his role in the design of Apple's new Watch that is slated to arrive early next year, Newson was tight-lipped, answering only questions about the future of the traditional watch.
Amy Frearson: Can you tell me if you were involved in the watch design?

Marc Newson: Apparently I can't.

PR Lady: Sorry we can't answer that, sorry.

Amy Frearson: Maybe I could ask you another question. With your background in watch design, can you tell me what you think is the future of the traditional watch?

Marc Newson: There will always be a place for mechanical watches. Apart from telling the time – which is all they do – they're about something completely different. You know, I think that the mechanical watch industry will continue to exist in much the same way as it does right now. To be honest I'm not really intimately aware of what's happening with the world of mechanical watches right now.
Newson has worked closely with Apple lead designer Jony Ive, collaborating on several products for a Product (RED) benefit auction. Newson also is rumored to have worked on previous Apple products before officially joining the company.

Related roundup: Apple Watch

Samsung to Begin Work on Apple's 14-nm A9 Chips Before End of 2014

Samsung semiconductor head Kim Ki-nam today announced that the company will begin work on 14-nanometer processors for partners such as Apple, Qualcomm, and AMD before the end of 2014, reports ZDNet (via 9to5Mac).

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The comments indicate that Samsung will produce Apple's next-generation A9 chip to be used in next year's line of iPhones and iPads. Currently, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus use the 20-nanometer A8 processor. It is also likely that the forthcoming iPad Air 2 and second-generation Retina iPad mini will utilize Apple's A8 chip.

The report also states that Samsung is producing around 30% of the total volume of Apple's A8 chip, while TSMC is handling 70% of the production load. Teardowns of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus revealed A8 chips that were manufactured by TSMC, although it is possible that a select number of shipped devices contain chips produced by Samsung.

Last year, it was reported that Apple signed a contract with Samsung to handle 30% to 40% of total A9 chip production, while TSMC would be getting the rest of the production load. A report from August stated that TSMC was ahead of schedule with its new 16-nanometer process, which was said to be for Apple's A9 chip. However, these latest comments from Ki-nam may indicate that Korean company has already won the bid to produce the A9 with its upcoming 14-nanometer process over TSMC's proposal.

First CarPlay-Compatible In-Dash Systems Now Available From Pioneer

Pioneer today became the first company to officially offer support for Apple's CarPlay vehicle integration feature, after announcing the addition of CarPlay to five of its 2014-NEX in-dash multimedia receivers.

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"CarPlay enriches the iPhone experience in the vehicle by providing a safer way to access the iPhone features they want to use most while driving," said Ted Cardenas, vice president of marketing for the Car Electronics Division of Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. "With Pioneer's implementation, CarPlay can now be integrated into millions of vehicles already on the road."
As previously announced, CarPlay is available through a firmware update for the $1400 AVIC--8000NEX, the $1200 AVIC--7000NEX, the $900 AVIC--6000NEX, the $750 AVIC--5000NEX and the $700 AVH--4000NEX. CarPlay is also compatible with Pioneer's new $600 smartphone receiver, AppRadio 4.

First introduced in March, CarPlay utilizes the built-in dashboard display of an automobile to offer hands-free operation of the iPhone. With CarPlay, drivers are able to complete tasks like getting directions, making calls, and sending messages through Siri voice control.

Other companies that sell aftermarket in-dash systems also plan to offer support for CarPlay in the near future, including Alpine and Clarion. The first CarPlay enabled cars are expected to come in 2014 as well, with Apple partnering with a wide range of manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, GM, Honda, Mazda, Audi, and more.

CarPlay for compatible Pioneer NEX in-dash systems is enabled through a firmware update that is available at no cost. It requires an iPhone 5 or later along with iOS 7.1 or newer.

Apple Creates Tool to Check Activation Lock Status on iOS Devices

Apple has released a new Activation Lock Status tool (via iDownloadBlog) that will make it easier for people buying a used iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to avoid getting a device that is locked to another user.

Accessible via iCloud.com, the Activation Lock Status Checker allows users to enter a Device IMEI or Serial number to check whether a device has Activation Lock turned on.

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Activation Lock was introduced alongside iOS 7 and is designed to prevent iPhones and iPads from being stolen. When Find My iPhone is enabled, it effectively locks an iOS device to a user's Apple ID account, and even when wiped, the device will require the original Apple ID and password.

Activation Lock has cut down on iPhone-related thefts in major cities, but it has also affected users who purchase an iOS device used. If Activation Lock is enabled, a used iOS device will be entirely useless until unlocked by the original owner.

If an iOS device does have Activation Lock enabled, Apple's tool will give users a clear warning that an Apple ID and password will be required before another user can activate the device. It also provides instructions on how to remove Activation Lock from a used device, which requires contacting the previous owner.

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Anyone who is purchasing or selling a used iOS device should find Apple's new tool very useful, as it can be used before a transaction takes place to ensure the iOS device will be usable by the new owner.

Video Compares iPhone 6 Plus 802.11ac Wi-Fi Speeds to 802.11n iPhone 5s Speeds

Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are the first Apple mobile devices to come equipped with 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which supports much faster data throughput speeds. 802.11ac Wi-Fi is able to offer connection speeds that are up to three times faster than existing 802.11n networks.

iClarified has created a new video that compares the Wi-Fi speeds of the iPhone 6 Plus, which supports 802.11ac, to the iPhone 5s, which supports 802.11n, when connected to an AirPort Extreme. The site also created a custom app for the test.

Both devices were freshly restored to iOS 8.0 and connected to the 2013 Apple AirPort Extreme. The router was placed 1.5 metres away from the smartphones and each iPhone was connected to the AirPort Extreme using a 5GHz-only network. No other devices were connected to the wireless network at the time of the test and the downloads were performed at separate times. We cut them together for comparison.
As expected, the iPhone 6 Plus sees much faster connection speeds that reach 278.5 Mbps, while the iPhone 5s tops out at approximately 101.1 Mbps. While speeds are improved in this test, the actual speeds that users see in the real world will vary based on connection strength and other factors, as an actual ISP connection is generally the limiting factor for speeds when connecting to the Internet. When an 802.11ac Wi-Fi network is available, however, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users should see significant speed improvements.

Along with 802.11ac Wi-Fi, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus offer several other connectivity improvements, including faster LTE with support for LTE Advanced and voice over LTE, which enables higher-quality phone calls. The iPhone 6 also supports calls over Wi-Fi, for access to high-quality voice connections even in areas where cellular connection is poor.

Related roundup: iPhone 6

iOS 8 Causing Widespread Bluetooth Connectivity Issues in Cars

iOS 8 has caused significant issues for some people who connect their phones to their cars and other devices via Bluetooth, according to numerous reports on the Apple Support forums and MacRumors' own user forums. MacRumors has also been receiving complaints on a near daily basis about the ongoing Bluetooth problems that iOS 8 users are seeing.

It appears that after upgrading to iOS 8 or purchasing a new iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, users have trouble pairing their phones to their car audio systems. The devices are seeing several different issues, refusing to pair entirely, neglecting to play audio over the speakers, or disconnecting when a call comes in.
Now when I am connected via bluetooth, I place a call, and it says it's going over bluetooth, but it doesn't interrupt my car's music, and the audio doesn't play over the speakers. The only way I can talk to the person is if I press the Audio button on the phone and select speakerphone or iPhone as if it wasn't connected to the car.
An ongoing thread on the MacRumors forums suggests that a wide range of different automobiles are having Bluetooth connectivity issues with devices running iOS 8 and iOS 8.0.2, including Hyundai, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Toyota, Ford, and more.

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The Bluetooth pairing problems are not limited to automobiles, as iOS 8 users have also reported issues pairing with headphones, speakers, headsets, and more.

According to one iPhone 6 owner experiencing issues, Apple support is aware of a compatibility issue between the Bluetooth "used on the iPhone 6 and some car/navigation Bluetooth." Apple is said to be working on a fix for the issue, but in the meantime, some users have had temporary luck logging out of iCloud, forgetting connected Bluetooth devices, using the "Reset All Settings" and/or "Reset Network Settings" option on their iPhones and restarting, re-pairing their devices with their Bluetooth devices, and then logging back in to iCloud.

Attempting to use "Reset All Settings" should be done with caution, however, as some users have noticed that all of their iCloud Drive documents have gone missing after using the feature.

iOS 8 has not been Apple's most stable release. The operating system has seen several issues, including a major HealthKit bug that caused the company to pull all HealthKit-enabled apps just ahead of the public release of iOS 8 and a significant issue with the iOS 8.0.1 update, which disabled the cellular connection and Touch ID of many iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users.

iOS 8.0.2, released last week, fixed several major issues including the HealthKit bug, and Apple has plans to release another update in the near future, having already seeded iOS 8.1 to developers.

Update: According to some users who have installed iOS 8.1, the new update fixes the problems with Bluetooth.

Related roundups: iOS 8, iOS 8 Features

Jony Ive Discusses Steve Jobs and Apple Watch in Vogue Interview

Vogue editor Robert Sullivan today published a profile of Apple's Jony Ive, documenting his rise from a small London design firm to become one of the most recognized and respected designers in the world. The life-changing moment happened when Ive met Steve Jobs and the two "just clicked."

jonyive
Ive talks about feeling a little apart, like Jobs. "When you feel that the way you interpret the world is fairly idiosyncratic, you can feel somewhat ostracized and lonely"—big laugh here—"and I think that we both perceived the world in the same way."
In his time at Apple, Ive has led design efforts on a number of iconic products including the iMac, iPhone, MacBook Pro and most recently the Apple Watch, which the company unveiled alongside the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and which Ive showed to Sullivan weeks before its public unveiling. Speaking about the Apple Watch, Ive hopes to rekindle interest in a device the smartphone threatens to make obsolete.
"It’s strange when you’ve been working on something for three years . . ." he says, shaking his head. He describes the trajectory of clocks to watches: from a public clock in a Bavarian square to timepieces owned by royalty, to military chronometers, to the watch’s arrival, only at the beginning of the twentieth century, on the wrist. "It’s fascinating how people struggled with wearing this incredibly powerful technology personally." The cell phone, of course, killed the watch to some extent. Now he wants to reset the balance.
Ive's emphasis with the Watch and all of his designs is simplicity. "Everything we’ve been trying to do," he says, "it’s that pursuit of the very pure and very simple." Ive also strives to foster an intimate connection between people and the technology they use, a philosophy that is apparent in the Apple Watch.
"You know how very often technology tends to inhibit rather than enable more nuanced, subtle communication?" he asks. This is the question that haunts the son of a craftsman: Is he making tools that improve the world or shut people down? "We spent a lot of time working on this special mechanism inside, combined with the built-in speaker" —he demonstrates on his wrist. You can select a chosen person, also wearing the watch, and transmit your pulse to them. "You feel this very gentle tap," he says, "and you can feel my heartbeat. This is a very big deal, I think. It’s being able to communicate in a very gentle way."
The full interview and profile is an interesting look at Ive, his design philosophy, and the Apple Watch. Ive's careful design will be put to the test once again when the Apple Watch hits retail shelves early next year. The smartwatch will be available in a variety of configurations designed to appeal to athletes, fashionistas, and the everyday consumer.

Related roundup: Apple Watch

iTunes Store Now Accepting Donations for City of Hope Medical Center

Apple has launched a new page on its iTunes Store allowing users to donate to City of Hope, which is a non-profit charity focusing on medical research and treatment for cancer, diabetes, and other conditions. The page can be accessed through the desktop iTunes Store as well as the iTunes and App Store apps on iOS, with options for $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, and $200 donations available.

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Apple will transfer 100% of each donation to City of Hope, as all donations will be billed to an iTunes account. With Apple currently holding 800 million iTunes accounts, the company has a large customer base that can take part in the donation program.

Apple has conducted similar donation campaigns throughout the past few years, which include programs for Super Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts in 2013, Superstorm Sandy relief in 2012, Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief in 2011, and Haitian earthquake relief efforts in 2010.

Apple Asks Developers to Submit OS X Yosemite Apps to Mac App Store

Hours after Apple released a candidate golden master version of OS X Yosemite to developers and members of the public beta, the Cupertino company has begun asking developers to begin submitting their Yosemite apps to the Mac App Store. Additionally, developers can now submit their apps written in Swift to the Mac App Store as well.

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Make sure your apps take advantage of all the great new features in OS X Yosemite, which will be available to millions of customers around the world later this fall.

Add powerful new functionality throughout OS X Yosemite with app extensions, explore the innovative new Swift programming language, and take advantage of advances in game technologies, Safari, iCloud, and more. To prepare your apps for the Mac App Store, download and build with the OS X Yosemite GM candidate and Xcode 6.1 GM seed from the Mac Dev Center. With the latest releases, Swift is now final and you can submit your Mac apps written with Swift to the Mac App Store.
The public release of the new OS is expected in late October and will include a redesigned interface and new features like Continuity, iCloud Drive and more.

Thanks Justin!

Related roundup: OS X Yosemite

Apple Planning to Offer iPad Air 2 with Gold Option

Apple is planning to offer its new 9.7-inch iPad, which has thus far been known as the iPad Air 2 unofficially, in a gold color choice in addition to the already available silver and space gray variations, reports Bloomberg. The new option would bring the iPad up to color parity with its iPhone models, which have been offered in three colors since last year's iPhone 5s.

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New versions of the company’s 9.7-inch iPads, anticipated to be unveiled this month, will include gold as a choice of color for the rear metal cover, adding to the silver and gray available for the lighter iPad Air, the people said, asking not to be identified ahead of an announcement. That brings the color palette into line with the iPhone 5s, which come with silver or gold backs for models with a white faceplate, and space gray for those with a black front.
Bloomberg's sources indicate that the new color choice may be an attempt to boost iPad sales, which dropped slightly in the past year. CEO Tim Cook previously said the iPad sales dip was a "speed bump".

In early September, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that Apple would announce an iPad Air 2 with a gold option amongst other features like an anti-reflective display and the Touch ID Home button.

Related roundup: iPad Air

Microsoft Gives Early Look at Windows 10 Featuring Windows 7 Elements, Broad Adaptability

Microsoft today unveiled its next-generation Windows operating system, Windows 10, previewing the OS at an event in San Francisco focused on its corporate users. Like Windows 8, Windows 10 utilizes live tiles, but it also draws in design elements from Windows 7 to make it more appealing to users who have thus far opted not to upgrade to Windows 8.


The Start menu and taskbar, interface elements that are familiar to all Windows users, are placed front and center in Windows 10 in an effort to make the OS "familiar, compatible, and productive," according to Microsoft's head of operating systems Terry Myerson.

While Apple has managed to get the bulk of its user base to update to the newest version of OS X on a regular basis, Microsoft has had less success in recent years. As of April, 49 percent of Windows users continued to use Windows 7 (introduced in 2009), while 28 percent continued to use Windows XP, an operating system more than 12 years old. Windows 8 and 8.1 were installed on just 11 percent of devices in April. In a press release, Microsoft outlines some of the specific features that are coming to Windows 10:
Expanded Start menu. The familiar Start menu is back, providing quick one-click access to the functions and files that people use most, and it includes a new space to personalize with favorite apps, programs, people and websites.

Apps that run in a window. Apps from the Windows Store now open in the same format that desktop programs do. They can be resized and moved around, and have title bars at the top allowing users to maximize, minimize and close with a click.

Snap enhancements. Working in multiple apps at once is easier and more intuitive with snap improvements. A new quadrant layout allows up to four apps to be snapped on the same screen. Windows will also show other apps and programs running for additional snapping, and it will even make smart suggestions on filling available screen space with other open apps.

New Task view button. The new Task view button on the task bar enables one view for all open apps and files, allowing for quick switching and one-touch access to any desktop created.

Multiple desktops. Instead of too many apps and files overlapping on a single desktop, it’s easy to create and switch between distinct desktops for different purposes and projects — whether for work or personal use.
In addition to introducing some familiar Windows 7 features into Windows 10, Microsoft is also hoping to focus on personalization, creating a Windows experience that is customized to each individual user's preferences. Windows 10, like Windows 8, will run on a wide range of devices, including both PCs and tablets, with "a tailored experience for each device."
Windows 10 adapts to the devices customers are using — from Xbox to PCs and phones to tablets and tiny gadgets — and what they’re doing with a consistent, familiar and compatible experience, enabling even greater productivity. Windows 10 will run across the broadest range of devices ever from the Internet of Things to enterprise datacenters worldwide.
Many of the details on Windows 10 remain unknown at the time being, as the software is in the early development stages. Microsoft is aiming for a public release in the fall of 2015.

On Wednesday, Microsoft will launch a Windows Insider Program that will provide beta testers with a technical preview of Windows 10 for laptops and desktops, with access on other devices coming later. With the program, Microsoft is hoping to make the development of Windows 10 the "largest-ever open collaborative development effort."