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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."

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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."

Apple, Paypal Talks Over Apple Pay Soured Due to Samsung Deal

Apple and PayPal were in talks that would potentially have seen PayPal becoming a "preferred payment process" for Apple Pay, reports Bank Innovation, but those talks ended abruptly after PayPal inked a deal with Samsung to allow users to make PayPal payments with the Galaxy S5's fingerprint sensor.

Apple was reportedly so annoyed with the partnership between the two companies that it ended talks with PayPal and even went so far as to exclude PayPal from Apple Pay all together, not listing it as an acceptable payment platform in its developer documentation.

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But while these talks were going on, PayPal went ahead and partnered with Samsung on the Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner, a move that was reportedly forced onto PayPal by eBay CEO John Donahoe. PayPal's now-former president David Marcus was purportedly categorically against the Samsung deal, knowing that it would jeopardize PayPal's relationship with Apple. Donahoe won the day, however.
Apple and PayPal appear to be in somewhat of a dispute following the introduction of Apple Pay and PayPal's exclusion, with the latter company recently launching an ad campaign that subtly attacks Apple and Apple Pay.

In the advertisement, PayPal alluded to the recent hacking of celebrity iCloud accounts and suggested PayPal was the safer platform for transferring money. Without a deal between the two companies, PayPal is facing significant competition from Apple Pay.

In addition to allowing users to make purchases in retail stores with their phones, Apple Pay also lets users buy items in support apps using a debit or credit card connected with an iTunes account. PayPal works in a very similar way, letting users attach a credit or debit card and then make purchases through the service, alleviating the need to enter credit card details.

Apple has plans to launch Apple Pay in the coming weeks, through an update to iOS 8.

Related roundup: Apple Pay

Pebble Drops Prices on Its Watches, Pokes Fun at Jony Ive

Pebble is dealing with the threat of Apple's upcoming Apple Watch by making jokes about the enthusiasm Apple employees have shown for the device. On its website, Pebble has a graphic of a gleeful Pebble, which says "Chill." Above that, are the words "Breathe, Jony. It's just a watch."

Further down, Pebble advertises the seven day battery life of its smart watches. "Why measure battery life in days? 'Cuz we can." This is a reference to the poor battery life seen in other smart watches, including Samsung's Galaxy Gear and the Moto 360, both of which last less than a day before requiring a charge.

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Though Apple has not announced battery life of the Apple Watch, rumors have suggested that it will last for about a day, requiring nightly charging. It is likely, however, that the company is continuing to make tweaks to improve battery as much as it can, which is why no specific information on battery has been released.

Pebble also touts its customizability and its relatively low cost while poking a bit of fun at some of Apple's Apple Watch statements. "Overpriced trophy watch wasn't on our to-do list," reads the site. "Pebble is made by real people, for real people keeping it real," it says, wrapping up with the following statement: "Just to recap, we made a watch. We didn't solve global warming."

In addition to highlighting the capabilities of the product with sly references to the Apple Watch, Pebble has also announced plans to cut the prices of both the Pebble and the Pebble Steel. The standard Pebble watch now retails for $99, while the more recently introduced Pebble Steel retails for $199. Both options are quite a bit more affordable than the Apple Watch, which is said to start at a price of $349.

Pebble has also introduced new health and fitness capabilities for Pebble devices. Following an update, Pebble users are now able to track activity non-stop and monitor their sleep habits. Additionally, Pebble watches will be available in more retail locations, including Sam's Club, Fry's Electronics, and more.

Some Owners of Older iOS Devices Receiving Up to $300 in Liquid Damage Indicator Settlement

Back in April 2013, it was announced that Apple had agreed to a $53 million settlement in a class action lawsuit involving iPhone and iPod touch units that may have been improperly denied warranty coverage due to liquid damage indicators having been triggered in the devices.

The settlement, which covers iPhones denied warranty coverage on or before December 31, 2009 and iPod touches denied coverage on or before June 30, 2010, stems from Apple's use of triggered liquid damage indicators as sufficient reason for denying warranty coverage. Given the timeframe for the issue, the settlement is limited to iPhone 3GS and earlier and third-generation iPod touch and earlier models.

With the indicators' manufacturer, 3M, acknowledging the indicators could be at least partially triggered by humidity and not necessarily direct liquid contact, some owners pursued a case against Apple for improperly denying warranty coverage. Apple did later adjust its procedures to require additional visual inspection for liquid damage on devices where the indicators had been triggered, but for those who had already paid out of pocket to replace their devices, the case continued.

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As outlined on the settlement home page, administrators finally began sending out settlement checks to eligible claimants last week, and a number of MacRumors readers have reported receiving their checks over the past few days.

Owners of several different iPhone models have reported receiving checks for $251.55, with some reporting amounts as high as $300 while others have received smaller amounts for affected iPod touch units. Users receiving checks have until January 21 to cash or deposit them.

Apple Releases OS X Yosemite Golden Master Candidate to Developers [Update: Also Public Beta]

Apple today released a candidate golden master version of OS X Yosemite to developers, just over two weeks after releasing the eighth Developer Preview alongside the third public beta of the upcoming Mac operating system.

The latest update for developers, which arrives as Build 14A379a, can be downloaded from the Mac App Store and through Apple's Mac Dev Center. Apple has also released Xcode 6.1 GM seed and a new version of OS X Server 4.0 developer preview.

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OS X Yosemite brings a flatter, more modern look to OS X, with an emphasis on translucency and redesigned dock, windows, and more. It also includes a multitude of new features, such as improved integration with iOS 8 through Continuity, a new "Today" view in Notification Center that offers integration with third-party apps, a retooled Spotlight search with new data sources, and several new features for apps like Mail, Safari, and Messages.

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Over the course of the beta testing period, each Developer Preview has added new features and refined the look and performance of OS X Yosemite, although changes have become less obvious in more recent builds as Apple begins finalizing Yosemite ahead of its public release, which is expected in late October.

The current build may or may not be a final version of OS X Yosemite, depending on the outcome of final testing. As an example, Apple last year seeded its planned golden master build to developers on October 3, although it did release a second golden master version a few weeks later just ahead of the public release on October 22.

Update 11:07 AM: Apple has also released the fourth public beta of OS X Yosemite, which carries a slightly different build number of 14A379b compared to the golden master candidate build distributed to developers.

Update 11:54 AM: Both the developer and public beta releases include the fix for the "Shellshock" bash security flaw. Apple released fixes for OS X Mavericks, Mountain Lion, and Lion yesterday.

Related roundup: OS X Yosemite