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Apple Seeds Second OS X 10.10.5 Yosemite Beta to Developers

os_x_yosemite_round_iconApple today seeded the second beta of OS X 10.10.5 to developers, two weeks after seeding the first 10.10.5 beta and one month after releasing OS X 10.10.4 to the public. Because we're just a couple of months away from the public release of OS X 10.11 El Capitan, it's possible that OS X 10.10.5 may be one of the last updates to Yosemite.

Today's beta, build number 14F19a, can be downloaded through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store or through the Apple Developer Center.

The first OS X 10.10.5 beta did not appear to include any consumer-facing changes, so it's likely that this update focuses on behind-the-scenes bug fixes and performance enhancements.

Over the course of its lifespan, OS X Yosemite has received four updates. The first two brought bug fixes and security improvements, while OS X 10.10.3, the most significant update to Yosemite, introduced the new Photos app, Force Touch APIs, new emoji features, and more.

OS X 10.10.4, the current version of Yosemite, also focused on bug fixes and stability improvements, most notably introducing TRIM support for third-party SSDs and eliminating the Discoveryd process that caused ongoing connectivity issues in the OS.

Related roundup: OS X Yosemite , Tag: OS X 10.10.5

Apple Plans to Debut New Apple TV in September With Touch-Based Remote, Full App Store

Apple is planning to introduce its long-awaited next-generation Apple TV in September, reports Buzzfeed's John Paczkowski. According to sources familiar with Apple's plans, the new set-top box will be unveiled in September at the same event where Apple will unveil the next-generation iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.

As has been previously rumored, it is said to include an A8 processor, a touch-pad based remote that's "drastically improved" compared to the current version, a new operating system that supports a full App Store, developer APIs, and Siri voice control, and more on-board storage to accommodate apps. Physically, the Apple TV will take on a new, slimmer look.

Apple TV 2015
Apple will not be introducing its rumored television service at the same time, with sources telling Buzzfeed that the Internet-based streaming service could possibly launch in late 2015, but 2016 is more likely. Current rumors suggest Apple's television offering will bundle approximately 25 channels and cost between $30 to $40 per month.

Apple was widely expected to introduce both its new Apple TV and its upcoming streaming television service in June, at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, but the two products were not ready for launch at that time. Apple postponed its release of the set-top box because it was "not ready for prime time" and held off on the television service because deals were not completed.

Apple has not introduced a revamped version of its Apple TV since 2012, so an updated set-top box with App Store support and other features will be a major change from the platform that we know and use today.

Related roundup: Apple TV , Tag: buzzfeed.com

Apple Seeds Second iOS 8.4.1 Beta to Developers

ios_8_iconApple today seeded the second beta of iOS 8.4.1 to registered developers for testing purposes, just over two weeks after releasing the first iOS 8.4.1 beta and a month after launching iOS 8.4 with the new Apple Music service.

Today's beta, build 12H318, is available via an over the air update and it can also be downloaded from the Apple Developer Center.

No outward facing changes were discovered in the first iOS 8.4.1 beta, and it's a .1 update, so it's likely that it includes only minor bug fixes, security enhancements, and performance improvements designed to prepare the operating system for its upcoming retirement.

iOS 8.4.1 may be one of the last updates to iOS 8 as Apple is working on its successor, iOS 9. iOS 9 builds on many of the features introduced with iOS 8 and adds new content and underlying performance improvements. iOS 9 is currently in beta testing and will be released in the fall.

Related roundups: iOS 8, iOS 8 Features , Tag: iOS 8.4.1

More 'iPhone 6s' Part Photos Surface as Production Ramps Up

Less than two months before Apple is expected to launch the so-called "iPhone 6s" and "iPhone 6s Plus," new photos of leaked components for the next-generation smartphones continue to surface from within the supply chain. The images support rumors that claim the next iPhones will have minimal design changes compared to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

The main part shared by French website Nowhereelse.fr is a purported iPhone 6s single flex cable that houses the volume rocker, mute switch, power button and LED flash. The blog also shared photos of the device's Lightning connector and headphone jack assembly, rear-facing camera rings and home button enclosure, which appears to be anodized in a gold or champagne color.

iPhone 6s Single Flex Cable
Apple has returned to using a single flex cable for the iPhone 6s after splitting the flex cables for the iPhone 6, but otherwise that part and the Lightning connector assembly remain largely unchanged, which is unsurprising given Apple's "tick-tock" refresh cycle for iPhones. Apple typically makes major changes in a "tick" year (iPhone 6) while focusing on smaller improvements and refinements in a "tock" year ("iPhone 6s").

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The leaked camera rings suggest that the "iPhone 6s" and "iPhone 6s Plus" could also have a protruding rear-facing camera lens, a design choice that Apple received some complaints over for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Particularly, some users expressed frustration at being unable to lay their smartphone flat on a table because the camera lens sticks out about one millimeter.

iPhone 6s Camera Rings Home Button
"iPhone 6s" and "iPhone 6s Plus" production is believed to be underway, with leaked images of the front panel, rear shell and logic board surfacing earlier this month. The smartphones are rumored to feature an A9 chip with 2GB of RAM, Force Touch, a faster Qualcomm LTE modem, an improved 12-megapixel rear-facing camera, 7000 Series aluminum and more.

First Volkswagen Cars With CarPlay Support Arriving at Dealerships

Volkswagen today announced that its first 2016 cars with CarPlay support are arriving at dealerships this week, equipped with the company's next-generation CarPlay-enabled MIB-II infotainment system.

In addition to supporting CarPlay, the MIB-II system also includes support for Android Auto and it comes equipped with Volkswagen's own Car-Net apps, enabling features like remote lock control, remote honk and flash, parking info, stolen vehicle location, automatic crash notifications, diagnostics, and vehicle monitoring. While CarPlay and the MIB-II system don't carry a subscription fee, the Car-Net suite of apps will be priced at $199 per year with 6 months free up front.

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Volkswagen was not one of the first CarPlay partners announced during CarPlay's debut, but the manufacturer promised CarPlay support in its 2016 models back in January. According to Volkswagen, most of its 2016 models will include the new MIB-II system, aside from entry-level models.

Four different MIB-II systems with CarPlay will be offered, varying based on model and trim package. Entry-level VW models include a 5-inch resistive 400x240 resolution touch screen that does not include CarPlay support, while 6.3 and 6.5-inch capacitive touchscreens that support multi-touch gestures, CarPlay, and App-Net will be available in select trims.

Higher trim levels will include additional features like 2.5D navigation, electric vehicle functions, and more, while the 2016 e-Golf SEL Premium model alone will receive an 8-inch capacitive touchscreen with CarPlay support.

The first 2016 Volkswagen models, the Golf R and the Tiguan, are already arriving in dealer showrooms as of late July, and additional models will be released with the MIB-II system and CarPlay support later in the year.

Related roundup: CarPlay , Tag: Volkswagen

Apple Releases Third OS X El Capitan Public Beta

Apple today seeded the third beta of OS X El Capitan to public beta testers, one week after seeding the second beta and just under three weeks after first providing the OS X El Capitan beta to the public for testing purposes.

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The third public beta follows the launch of the fifth OS X El Capitan developer beta, which was seeded to developers late on Monday afternoon. No outward-facing changes were introduced with the beta, suggesting it's an under-the-hood update with bug fixes and performance improvements.

Beta testers who have signed up for Apple’s beta testing program and already have the public beta installed can update through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store for OS X.


OS X 10.11 El Capitan is expected to be released to the public in the fall after the beta testing process is complete.

Related roundup: OS X El Capitan

iPad Market Share Falls Below 25% as Tablet Market Continues to Decline

The latest numbers from market research firm IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker show that Apple remains the largest vendor in a declining tablet market, shipping 10.9 million iPads in the second quarter of 2015. While the iPad continues to be the best-selling tablet, its worldwide market share fell below 25% as Apple faced increased competition from low-cost rivals Lenovo, Huawei and LG.

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Samsung continued to be the second largest tablet vendor with 7.6 million tablets shipped in the second quarter and 17% market share, a 12% year-over-year unit decline. Lenovo, Huawei and LG Electronics rounded off the top five, with 2.5 million, 1.6 million and 1.6 million global tablet shipments in the second quarter respectively. All other tablet vendors had a combined 45.6% market share.

IDC Q215 Tablets
iPad sales have declined for six consecutive quarters year-over-year in what has become a stagnated tablet market over the past few years, but that trend could be broken in a few months as Apple is expected to release up to three new iPads in time for the holiday shopping season: iPad Air 3, iPad mini 4 and the much-rumored 12.9-inch "iPad Pro" targeted at professional and enterprise users.

Related roundup: iPad Air 2 , Tags: Samsung, IDC, LG, Huawei, Lenovo

AT&T Urges FCC to Drop $100 Million Fine, Says Data Throttling Doesn't Harm Customers

Last month the United States Federal Communications Commission announced that it would fine AT&T $100 million for misleading customers about its unlimited data plans and not adequately warning customers about throttling their data speeds. AT&T has since responded, arguing that data throttling doesn't harm customers, the company is being prejudged and that its First Amendment rights are being violated in a response first found by The Hill (via Ars Technica).

ATT Logo
The Commission’s findings that consumers and competition were harmed are devoid of factual support and wholly implausible. Its “moderate” forfeiture penalty of $100 million is plucked out of thin air, and the injunctive sanctions it proposes are beyond the Commission’s authority. Both, moreover, reflect an unseemly effort to coerce settlement. And the NAL and the related press campaign confirm that the agency has already prejudged AT&T’s liability, abandoning any pretext that the Commission remains an impartial arbiter of the case.
AT&T, who wants the FCC to drop the fine, claims that it has made all the required disclosures to customers, pointing out that its Unlimited Data Plan customers were more likely to renew their contracts than non-Unlimited Data Plan customers. Additionally, the telecommunications company argued the FCC would be outside of its authority in both imposing the fine and making other requests because the statute of limitations on the case has passed.

Lastly, AT&T argued that the FCC has no authority to order the company to inform its customers that it violated the Transparency Rule in not telling them about speed changes when throttling data because the statement would both be untrue and a violation of AT&T's First Amendment rights.

AT&T ceased selling Unlimited Data Plans years ago but continues to have customers grandfathered to its Unlimited Data Plans. Previously, the company throttled its Unlimited Data Plan customers once they exceeded 5 GB of LTE data, but in May the company changed its policy to only throttle customers when connected to a cell tower experiencing network congestion.

Tags: FCC, AT&T

Intel and Micron Unveil New Memory Class That's 1,000 Times Faster Than Current Technology

Intel and Micron today announced 3D Xpoint, a new class of memory that the companies are calling a "major breakthrough in memory process technology." 3D Xpoint (pronounced cross point) is said to be up to 1,000 times faster and more durable than the NAND Flash storage that's currently used in mobile devices and solid state drives. It's the first new memory chip to come to the market in 25 years.

Intel and Micron say that 3D Xpoint was built to create a non-volatile, high-performance high-capacity storage and memory solution that was also affordable. In addition to being faster than NAND Flash, it's also 10 times denser than the DRAM chips used in computers, which means much more data can be stored closer to the processor and accessed quickly.

A smartphone equipped with 3D Xpoint technology would potentially see much faster performance than a smartphone using existing technology. 3D Xpoint is also versatile -- fast enough to replace DRAM and stable enough to be used for long term storage. Initial capacity is 128 Gigabits (16GB) per die across two memory layers, but future generations of the 3D Xpoint will be able to increase the number of memory layers to improve system capacities.

intel3dxpoint
The innovative, transistor-less cross point architecture creates a three-dimensional checkerboard where memory cells sit at the intersection of word lines and bit lines, allowing the cells to be addressed individually. As a result, data can be written and read in small sizes, leading to faster and more efficient read/write processes.
Intel and Micron provide several use cases for 3D Xpoint technology, suggesting it will let retailers quickly detect fraud patterns in financial transactions and allow healthcare researchers to process and analyze larger data sets in real time. For consumers, 3D Xpoint will allow "faster interactive social media" and more immersive gaming experiences.
"One of the most significant hurdles in modern computing is the time it takes the processor to reach data on long-term storage," said Mark Adams, president of Micron. "This new class of non-volatile memory is a revolutionary technology that allows for quick access to enormous data sets and enables entirely new applications."
As a nascent technology, 3D Xpoint is designed to complement existing NAND Flash and DRAM options because it will likely be too expensive to serve as a standalone option at launch, but in the future, it has the potential to introduce dramatic performance improvements in mobile and desktop products.

According to Intel and Micron, 3D Xpoint samples will be available later this year to select customers, but mainstream use may be a ways off. It is not clear if Apple will adopt 3D Xpoint when it first becomes available, but the company does often aim to implement cutting edge technology in its devices for maximum speed and performance.

Tags: Intel, Micron

Apple Watch Leading to Healthy Lifestyle Changes Among Early Adopters

Less than four months after the Apple Watch launched, many early adopters are finding that the wrist-worn device has motivated them to make healthy lifestyle changes. From walking and exercising more often to making healthier choices and playing more sports, market research firm Wristly found that many Apple Watch buyers are taking full advantage of the wearable's health and fitness features.

Apple Watch Workout
Greater than 75% of survey participants among Wristly's panel of nearly 1000 Apple Watch buyers indicated that they "Strongly Agree" or "Agree" that they have been standing more since receiving the Apple Watch. Similarly, 67% of participants agreed that they walk more, 59% agreed they make better health choices and 57% said they exercise more often with the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Lifestyle Changes
Early adopters are generally satisfied with the Apple Watch's health and fitness features, especially those included stock on the device. An aggregate 89% of survey participants were either "Very Satisfied" or "Satisfied" with the built-in Activity app, while around 80% were satisfied with the heart rate sensor and hourly standup reminders and just over 75% were satisfied with the Workout app.

Apple Watch Satisfaction Features
Jim Dalrymple of The Loop echoed similar sentiments in his Apple Watch review in June, in which he shared his personal story about losing 40 pounds using HealthKit and Apple Watch. After ten months of exercising, weight lifting and healthier eating decisions, Dalrymple lost four pant sizes and two shirt sizes, and the Apple Watch kept him motivated to reach his goals:
applewatchfitnessApple Watch furthered my transformation. I can see on my wrist every minute of the day where I’m at for standing, movement, activity, calories and much more.

One minute please, Apple Watch says I need to stand up.

If Apple Watch says stand, I stand. I still don’t know why. Maybe I just want to complete those rings every day and feel good about that. Maybe standing every hour really is good for me. I don’t know, but I’ll indulge this little device on my wrist and stand.
Making healthy lifestyle changes requires consistency, and Wristly found that many early adopters are still wearing the Apple Watch regularly. 86% of survey participants said they are still wearing the Apple Watch on a daily basis, while 12.3% wear it on most days, 1.3% go several days without wearing one and three respondents reported that they no longer wear the Apple Watch.

While the Apple Watch is certainly not the only wearable device motivating people to get in shape, the Move, Exercise and Stand rings, workout summaries, achievement badges, progress updates, personalized feedback and its other health and fitness features appear to have challenged early adopters in ways they did not expect.

Wristly is the largest independent Apple Watch research platform with an opt-in panel of around 1000 Apple Watch buyers. The research firm recently found the Apple Watch to have a 97% customer satisfaction rate, a number that Apple CEO Tim Cook cited during the company's recent third quarter earnings results conference call.

Related roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2 , Tags: health and fitness, Wristly

T-Mobile Adds Apple Music to Music Freedom, Offers Free 'iPhone 6s' Upgrade With iPhone 6 Trade-In

T-Mobile today announced that it has added Apple Music to Music Freedom, allowing Simple Choice customers to listen to the streaming music service without the cellular data counting against their monthly 4G LTE data plan. Apple Music joins dozens of other streaming music services supported by Music Freedom, including Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, SoundCloud and SiriusXM.

Apple Music T-Mobile Music Freedom
T-Mobile also announced that customers who purchase an iPhone 6 for $15 per month through the JUMP! On Demand trade-in program will be automatically eligible to receive a free upgrade to the next iPhone -- the so-called "iPhone 6s" -- when it is released, with the $15 monthly promotional price carrying over to the new smartphone.


Purchasing an iPhone 6 through JUMP! On Demand will also land you priority access to the next iPhone, when T-Mobile receives inventory of the next-generation device, for those that upgrade within the first 48 hours of availability. T-Mobile claims these two new Apple promotions are the last of the carrier's Un-carrier Amped moves this summer.

Apple Pay Now Supports HSBC and First Direct in the UK

Apple Pay today expanded its participating issuers list within the United Kingdom, adding support for both HSBC and First Direct customers. Both banks were announced as starting partners for the UK branch of Apple Pay, but were delayed until late July at the last minute.

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HSBC and First Direct join a list of UK Apple Pay partners that includes: American Express, MBNA, Nationwide, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and Ulster Bank. Still listed as coming soon are: Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank and TSB. Although Barclays has confirmed "imminent" support for the contactless payment service, the bank has yet to be listed on Apple's Apple Pay UK site.

Along with the announcement of HSBC and First Direct support, customers using Apple Pay in the UK will also be able to start taking advantage of the service at both Five Guys restaurants and Wilko stores across the country. UK support of Apple Pay launched on July 14, and has been steadily expanding its roster of retail partners and financial institutions in the subsequent weeks.

Related roundup: Apple Pay , Tags: HSBC, First Direct