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iPad Implicated in Pediatric Rashes Diagnosed as Nickel Allergies

Apple's iPad may be the cause of unexplained allergic rashes in children, reports The Washington Post, which cites a case study of an 11-year-old boy that was published in Pediatrics medical journal.

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The Pediatrics article focuses on an 11-year-old boy who may be allergic to the nickel used in the casing of the tablet device. Following the increasing use of an iPad, the patient developed a rash that would not respond to conventional treatment.
His skin tested positive for nickel, one of the most common allergy-inducing metals, and doctors traced it back to an iPad he had used with increasing frequency the past six months. The iPad tested positive for nickel as well, according to the report.
Doctors advised the boy to use a Smart Case that covers the entire outer surface of the tablet. Similar to other reports of electronic device-induced rashes, the boy's skin condition improved significantly when he started using a case that prevented direct contact with the device.

As noted by the Associated Press, nickel allergies in children appear to be on the rise, with 25 percent of those receiving skin tests testing positive for nickel allergies, up from 17 percent a decade ago.

This iPad isn't the only device implicated in skin rashes. Earlier this year, Fitbit voluntarily recalled its Force fitness tracker after a growing number of users developed contact dermatitis from wearing the band. The rash was originally attributed to nickel in the charging port of the band, but that metal may not be involved as many users covered the nickel-containing port with tape and continued to experience a rash.

Related roundup: iPad Air

Apple Facing Production Issues with iPhone 6 as 5.5-Inch Version May Be Delayed Until 2015

The launch of Apple's 5.5-inch iPhone 6 may be delayed into 2015 as Apple's production issues with the smaller 4.7-inch version will likely carry over into the larger model, according to a new report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

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Production bottlenecks on 4.7-inch iPhone 6 center on the yield rate of in-cell touch panel and metal casing. As in-cell touch panel becomes larger in size, the edge of the panel may become insensitive to touch. Meanwhile, under new manufacturing process for the iPhone 6 metal casing, color unevenness is an issue.
Kuo adds that these problems become more complicated with the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6. As these new concerns are coupled with earlier concerns about the production of sapphire displays for the larger device, the analyst believes that the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 may not launch by the end of 2014, or may launch after October in very limited quantities. In the event that the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 is delayed to next year, Kuo believes that Apple will cut the prices of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c alongside the launch of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6.

Early rumors about the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 pointed towards production issues with the device's display and battery life. However, a report from Bloomberg last month noted that both models would enter production and launch at the same time. Concerns over the metal casings used for the iPhone 6 were also reported late last month, as Apple rejected casings from partner Catcher Technology. However, those issues were said to be over parts found within the casings as opposed to color disfiguration mentioned in this latest report.

Apple is expected to announce and launch the iPhone 6 in September. In addition to a larger screen, both models of the device are expected to include a thinner profile and a faster A8 processor. Both sizes of the iPhone 6 are also expected to feature improved cameras, with the bigger model featuring an optical image stabilization system, while the smaller one will include an enhanced camera module.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

FCC Filings Reveal Apple's First-Party iBeacon Hardware

FCC filings discovered by electronics company Securifi (via TUAW) have revealed Apple's plans for first-party iBeacon hardware to go along with the microlocation technology found in iOS. The transmitter is registered as the "Apple iBeacon" and carries a model number of A1573, which is in line with the company's other products.

iBeacon_hw According to the documents filed by Apple, the iBeacon was tested in collaboration with China-based Audix Technology from April 30 to May 13, 2014. The beacon tested has a diameter of 5.46'' and has a highest working frequency of 2.4GHz, which is in line with modern Bluetooth standards.

Originally introduced at WWDC 2013, iBeacon technology enables iOS devices to communicate with transmitters through Bluetooth in order to deliver relevant information to apps and services when a user is nearby. Apple introduced a "Made for iPhone" iBeacon specification in February, signaling a more primary role for the technology in its devices and services.

So far, however, companies have used third-party transmitters, like the Estimote Beacon to work with the technology and iOS devices. Shopping app Shopkick and Macy's partnered during the holiday season last year to integrate the technology into stores, while Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association have used iBeacons to enhance live events.

Apple has also integrated iBeacons into its own retail stores to notify customers about picking up online orders and special upcoming events. Internationally, Virgin Atlantic integrated iBeacons into London's Heathrow Airport to notify users of promotional deals and areas of interest.

While it is unknown as to whether Apple will actually launch iBeacon hardware or not, the product could integrate with the company's other platforms and services. Apple's iBeacon could be the company's first product to integrate with its HomeKit initiative, which allows home automation devices and their apps to work with iOS.

It is likely that HomeKit integrated hardware would come further down the roadmap in Apple's future product lineup, as that lineup is expected to include the iWatch, perhaps a 12-inch Retina MacBook Air and a next-generation Apple TV.

Samsung Bashes iPad's Screen, Lack of Multitasking in New Galaxy Tab S Ads

Last week, Samsung released an anti-iPhone ad calling iPhone users "wall huggers" in a promotion for its Galaxy S5 smartphone. Today the South Korean company is promoting its new Galaxy Tab S with two new anti-Apple advertisements, bashing the iPad's lack of multitasking and its screen.

In the first ad, Samsung features a crying baby and a dad fighting over an iPad that's unable to display two apps at once. The baby wants to watch a movie while the dad is trying to catch a sports game. A Galaxy Tab S, which can display multiple apps at once, is swapped for the iPad, and suddenly both dad and baby are happy.

"What's going on? Ahhh, it looks like dad's tablet can only do one thing at a time. What if it were a Samsung Galaxy Tab S? With the Galaxy Tab S, the whole family has something to smile about."
The second advertisement pits the display of the iPad against the display of the Galaxy Tab S. In the spot, two friends are watching the same scary movie on an iPad and on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S. A scene depicting a dark figure against a black background is shown on both tablets, with the figure not appearing on the iPad's screen.

What went wrong here? Ahhh, It's not a Super AMOLED. What if it were a Samsung Galaxy Tab S? Compared to many LCDs, Super AMOLEDs give you 100 times higher contrast. Instead of 1000:1, you get 100,000:1 contrast. Conventional LCDs get their color using backlight but Super AMOLEDs turn off pixel by pixel, each emitting their own light. So you get all the fine details and varied shades of black that many LCDs can't show.
First announced in June, Samsung's newest tablet, the Galaxy Tab S features a high-resolution (2560 x 1600) Super AMOLED display. During its presentation, Samsung touted the tablet's display quality, suggesting it had a more accurate color range, better contrast, and higher outdoor visibility than a typical LCD display. The Galaxy Tab S is also Samsung's thinnest tablet to date, offering a fingerprint sensor, an 11 hour battery life, and Android's multitasking features.

The iPad Air, in contrast, features a 2048 by 1536 Retina display with 3.1 million pixels. While it is unable to run two apps at once presently, split-screen multitasking is said to be in the works. Apple is also working on a new version of the iPad Air and the Retina iPad mini, both of which are expected to come equipped with Touch ID fingerprint sensors and an A8 processor.

Smartphone Manufacturers 'Lukewarm' on Sapphire, Call Material Impractical Due to Cost and Supply

Rumors have suggested that Apple is using the sapphire garnered from its partnership with GT Advanced to produce sapphire crystal displays for the iPhone 6, and if true, such a move would normally inspire competitors to produce their own devices with sapphire displays.

It does not appear, however, that other major smartphone manufacturers are ready to adopt sapphire as a display solution, due to the expense of the material and its quality compared to the more popular Gorilla Glass.

Engadget, in an in-depth piece on sapphire displays, contacted multiple representatives from major smartphone companies, who had researched sapphire as a possible material and largely decided against it. LG, for example, said the material was too expensive.
"The cost and supply aren't where we'd like them to be for sapphire to be practical just yet," said Ken Hong, Global Communications Director for LG. "Sapphire's durability and scratch-resistance are certainly attractive, but Gorilla Glass isn't going to be displaced anytime soon."
Sapphire is astronomically expensive compared to alternatives like Gorilla Glass, with a pane costing $30 compared to $3. Apple's partnership with GT Advanced has allowed Apple to help fund advanced sapphire production methods that significantly lower manufacturing costs, however, a feat that most manufacturers will be unable to match.

A look at how GT Advanced produces sapphire

Sapphire is an appealing option due to its extreme hardness and its scratch resistance. Rated at a nine on the Mohs hardness scale, few materials aside from diamond can scratch sapphire, but as one representative pointed out, sapphire is highly brittle. "The sapphire is too hard to withstand bending. It's easier to break during drop tests when the size of sapphire increases."

Gorilla Glass manufacturer Corning has heavily criticized sapphire for the same reason, noting that its own product can withstand 2.5 times more pressure. Corning has also pointed out that Gorilla Glass is cheaper, far lighter, and more environmentally friendly as it takes less energy to produce. Sapphire also transmits less light, making it both dimmer and less clear unless specially treated.

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Strength test conducted by Corning, showing sapphire shattering at 161 pounds while Gorilla Glass survives

Yet another representative suggested that sapphire simply doesn't make sense except from a marketing standpoint, which would certainly work for Apple as a way to distinguish itself as a more luxury smartphone option. Apple has always stood out from other manufacturers with its insistence on quality over price, setting it apart as a premium brand.

Though rumors have indicated Apple is planning to use sapphire displays in its smartphones, it remains unclear if the iPhone 6 will indeed feature a sapphire screen. It is possible the company's sapphire is reserved for a different project, the iWatch, and it is also possible, based on circulating rumors, that only the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will be equipped with a sapphire display.

Either way, it's likely we will get our first glimpse of an Apple product that utilizes sapphire crystal later this year and as Engadget points out, it is likely that manufacturers will take advantage of sapphire for products like smart watches, later transitioning to larger products as supply techniques and production improve.

Apple's Next-Generation A8 Chip Said to Top 2 GHz, Remain Dual-Core

Besides a larger display, Apple's upcoming iPhone 6 also may feature a faster A8 processor that pushes the system-on-a-chip beyond the 2.0 GHz threshold, claims GforGames citing Chinese media source cnBeta [Google Translate].

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A7 transistor die photo from Chipworks

According to the latest information, Apple will reportedly increase the CPU frequency of its next-generation SoC to 2.0 GHz or higher per core, up from the 1.3 GHz (iPhone 5s and Retina iPad mini) or 1.4 GHz (iPad Air) of the A7 processor. The chip will keep the 64-bit, dual-core architecture of the current generation A7 CPU, but will be manufactured with a 20-nm process instead of the A7's 28-nm. TSMC and Samsung are thought be the primary manufacturers that are producing the A8 chip for Apple's upcoming iOS devices.

Though competing phones ship with quad-core processors, Apple's possible decision to stay with a dual-core design may be the result of the company using a custom-designed chip optimized for iOS and not an off-the-shelf solution. This optimization already has been shown in the current dual-core A7, which offers "desktop class" performance that outperforms other players in the mobile phone marketplace. In its detailed analysis of the A7 after launch, AnandTech found that even though the A7's performance is top-notch, there was still room for improvement as almost no iOS app took full advantage of A7's available processing power.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

Expert Believes Alleged iPhone 6 Sapphire Front Panel Could Be 'Legitimate'

Earlier this week, numerous videos of the alleged front panel of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 surfaced, which showed the screen being put through stress tests involving significant bending and scratching. While those videos referred to the front panel as being made of sapphire crystal, there was no way to confirm that the display were made of the durable material.

Now, professor Neil Alford, who is a member of the Department of Materials at the Imperial College in London, tells The Guardian that the alleged "sapphire panel" could "well be legitimate." Alford believes that the stress tests performed on the screen indicate that the panel is made of sapphire, adding that Apple likely overcame a number of challenges in making the part thin and durable.

Alford concurs: "In my opinion the screen being shown off in the video could well be a sapphire screen. If you make sapphire thin enough, and it’s flaw free, you can bend it quite considerably because it has an enormous strength."

He added: “I think they will be doing some sort of a lamination – binding different crystal cuts of sapphire together – boosting the toughness of the material, while they may also have induced some sort of a strain in the surface of the glass – either compression or tension – which means that it has extra strength,” he said.
Alford noted that Apple had contacted him in January 2013 to discuss sapphire screens, indicating that Apple has likely been hard at work on creating the screen afterward. Past rumors have suggested that Apple will be using a sapphire display in the iPhone 6, but other reports have claimed that the more durable material could be exclusive to the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 due to supply constraints.

Apple's 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is expected to launch this September, while the larger 5.5-inch version has been rumored to be released at the same time. In addition to a larger display, both devices are likely to include a thinner housing, a faster A8 processor, and an improved camera.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

iWatch Mass Production Might Start in November

Thus far, rumors have pointed to Fall 2014 as the potential launch date of Apple's rumored iWatch, with some analysts predicting September as the likely launch window for the device and others reporting mass production would begin in July. KGI Securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo had predicted that the iWatch would enter mass production in late September, but is now revising his production to late November instead, due to the difficulties of the project.

Balogh-iwatch
Traditional watch-style iWatch concept based on TRIWA's Havana Nevil Brown watch, by Gábor Balogh
We believe developing the hardware and OS of iWatch will be a much more difficult task than for Apple’s existing products.
Kuo points out that the iWatch uses many new hardware technologies, like a flexible AMOLED screen, a sapphire crystal cover and a much smaller form factor with higher waterproof standards than other highly advanced Apple devices. Additionally, Kuo notes that redesigning iOS for the iWatch may also be proving a difficult challenge for Apple.

Apple has reportedly been aiming to debut the iWatch at an October event, and has recently hired former Nike FuelBand team members and TAG Heuer's sales director leading up to the expected launch. While there aren't any reports on what the actual device may look like, there have been reports that there could be "multiple versions", which could include watches with up to 10 sensors and a 2.5-inch screen. Apple has also been meeting with athletes to test out the device's fitness capabilities.

With Apple aiming to debut the iWatch in October, it's likely the Cupertino company launches the device well after its debut when production is in full swing, similar to the launch of the Mac Pro. Alternatively, Apple could launch the iWatch in limited quantities and increasing them once production fully ramps up.

Related roundup: iWatch

Apple Cuts Some iTunes Song Previews From 90 Seconds to 30 Seconds

Back in 2010, Apple extended iTunes song previews from 30 seconds in length to 90 seconds on songs longer than 2 minutes and 30 seconds, to give users a longer listening period before making a purchase.

It appears that some songs have now reverted to 30 second play lengths rather than 90 seconds, with many popular songs offering previews that are only 30 seconds in length on both the mobile and desktop versions of iTunes.

For example, previews of all songs on Sia's new album are only 30 seconds despite all of the songs being longer than the 2 minutes and 30 seconds, a length that used to result in a 90 second preview. Many other popular albums are also demonstrating the same short 30 second previews. Coldplay's entire discography, for example, has only 30 second previews instead of the 90 seconds of preview time that was previously available.

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According to one MacRumors forum user, some songs that are only available for 30 second previews were available in 90 second lengths just hours ago. User complaints on Twitter also suggest that the shift is recent.
As early as a few hours ago these were all 90 seconds! If you remember, Apple made a big deal about switching to extended previews, now a lot of songs are reverting back. Seeing more 30-second previews now than 90-second on most albums I've checked.
Though most songs at the current point in time seem to be limited to 30 second previews, there are some exceptions. Certain albums continue to offer 90 second previews, as do all of the songs listed on Apple's Top Charts. For example, Leela James' album "Fall for You" continues to offer 30 second previews, suggesting the shift may be limited to certain artists or labels.

Back when Apple first made the switch to 90 second song previews, it experienced some delays due to licensing agreements, and it is unclear if licensing has once again become an issue. It is unknown at this time if the shift to 30 second previews is a simple glitch or a more permanent change.

(Thanks, MichaelSD!)

Update July 11 6:37 AM: Apple has restored 90-second previews for some, but not all, tracks that had been affected.

Claimed iPhone 6 Front Frame with LCD Shielding and Home Button Bracket Shown in New Photo

Purported parts for the iPhone 6 are continuing to surface, with Apple.club.tw sharing a new blurry photo [Google Translate] of what appears to be the front LCD frame of the device, complete with metal shielding that would separate the LCD itself from the remainder of the internals, as well as a metal bracket covering the home button.

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While it is not confirmed that this part is indeed from the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, it is consistent with similar parts seen on previous iPhones. Apple.club.tw claims that it is the proper size for the larger iPhone 6, and that certainly appears reasonable based on how it looks in the hand.

The front panel seen in several recent photo and video leaks would attach to the opposite side of the frame shown in the new photo, covering the LCD and providing the smooth look of the device's front. That entire assembly would be fitted to the rear shell also seen in recent leaks, sandwiching around the battery, logic board, and other internals of the iPhone 6.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

Apple's App Store Turns Six, Developers Discount Apps in Celebration

app_store_icon_ios_7Today marks the sixth anniversary of the App Store, which first debuted on July 10, 2008 in an iTunes update. App Store access came to original iPhone and the new iPhone 3G the next day with the July 11 introduction of iOS 2.0.

Since its introduction, the App Store has grown by leaps and bounds. As of June 2014, the App Store had seen 75 billion total app downloads, a massive number compared to the 1 billion apps downloaded milestone Apple hit in 2009. Apple is seeing 300 million visitors to the App Store per week. To date, Apple has paid out more than $15 billion to app developers, and in 2013, App Store sales topped $10 billion.

According to app tracking site AppShopper, 1.7 million total apps have been approved, with 1,188,063 apps available for download (a number also confirmed by Apple during WWDC). One million of those are iPhone apps, while nearly 600,000 are for the iPad. There are also a total of 20,801 Mac apps, a solid number given the fact that the Mac App Store has only been around since 2011.

In celebration of Apple's sixth App Store anniversary, several developers are offering steep discounts on popular apps. Some of the best deals can be found below:

- Monument Valley $1.99, down from $3.99 [Direct Link]
- Threes $0.99, down from $1.99 [Direct Link]
- The Room 2 $0.99, down from $1.99 [Direct Link]
- Kiwanuka $0.99, down from $1.99 [Direct Link]
- Tengami $1.99, down from $4.99 [Direct Link]
- Eliss Infinity $0.99, down from $2.99 [Direct Link]
- Out There $1.99, down from $3.99 [Direct Link]
- Blast-A-Way $0.99, down from $4.99 [Direct Link]
- Lost Toys $1.99, down from $3.99 [Direct Link]
- Drafts for iPad $2.99, down from $4.99 [Direct Link]
- Blek $0.99, down from $2.99 [Direct Link]

To find even more apps on sale, make sure to check out AppShopper.com, which keeps track of all App Store changes, including price drops.

With iOS 8, set to be launched to the public later this year, Apple will offer several App Store improvements, including a new "Explore" tab to make it easier to discover content, improved searches, app bundles, and integrated beta testing.

MLB Rolling Out Second iBeacon Phase At All-Star Game, At Bat Updated With Live Streams

mlb.pngEarlier this year, Major League Baseball began installing thousands of iBeacons in ballparks around the country, putting dozens of the beacons in stadiums in Boston, Milwaukee, San Diego, and San Francisco, and more.

Considered to be one of the largest iBeacon rollouts in the world, the initial plan saw the beacons used in conjunction with the At the Ballpark app. Thus far, the iBeacons have been used in some cases to check fans in to stadiums and to send notifications and offers, but beacon usage is still in the early stages.

Major League Baseball is now entering its second phase of development with iBeacons, according to TechCrunch, and is planning to debut a special project at the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field. Target Field will use iBeacons to provide content and interactive features to in-park exhibits.
With the introduction of interactive ballpark attractions at Target Field for the All-Star Game, MLBAM will debut its second phase of iBeacon technology at MLB ballparks. Fans attending All-Star events at Target Field with At the Ballpark on their iPhone (iOS 7 required) will be able to use iBeacon when visiting these attractions, offering a unique mobile perspective through original content automatically delivered to their iPhone. The locations in Target Field are: The Golden Glove; Twins Digital Clubhouse; 2 Gingers Pub; Target Field Ballpark Model; 573 and Herb Carneal Pressbox; Kirby Puckett Atrium; Rod Carew Atrium; The Townball Tavern; and Target Plaza.
MLB has expressed a desire to expand iBeacons to be able to provide point of interest information, concessions, in-stadium directions, loyalty and rewards programs, shopping, and more, with individual teams having significant input and control over what fans will see. It appears that Target Field will be the first major experiment with interactive iBeacon features.

MLB has also introduced new updates to its At Bat and At the Ballpark apps, with At Bat gaining live streams of the All-Star Game (which will require an MLB.TV Premium subscription), the All-Star Futures Game, and the Home Run Derby.

MLB At Bat is a free download from the App Store for iPhone and iPad, but requires a subscription of $2.99/month or $9.99/year. [Direct Link]

MLB At the Ballpark is also a free download from the App Store for the iPhone and iPad. [Direct Link]

iTunes 11.3 Expands iTunes Extras as Apple TV Finally Adds Support and Apple Plans for iOS 8

Apple today released iTunes 11.3, including several improvements to iTunes Extras, including new features for HD movies. This new content will be added automatically to previously purchased iTunes movies for free.

Alongside the launch of iTunes 11.3, Apple has also announced that the Apple TV is finally supporting iTunes Extras with the 6.2 software update released late last month. The first-generation Apple TV supported iTunes Extras, but the feature was lost when Apple revamped the Apple TV back in 2010.

Finally, Apple has also announced that iTunes Extras will be coming to iOS with the public release of iOS 8, which is slated for this fall.

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iTunes 11.3 includes all-new iTunes Extras for HD movies. iTunes Extras can include behind-the-scenes videos, short films, high-resolution image galleries, director's commentary, scenes, and more. These immersive iTunes Extras can also be enjoyed on Apple TV with Software Update 6.2 now, and will be available on iOS 8 this fall.

New iTunes Extras will be automatically added to your previously purchased HD movies as they become available - at no additional charge.
iTunes 11.3 can be downloaded from the software update tool in the Mac App Store or Apple's iTunes web page.

Update: Apple has added a feature page [iTunes Store] to the iTunes Store highlighting iTunes Extras and compatible movies. The page also includes a promotional video for iTunes Extras.

TSMC Now Shipping A-Series Processors to Apple for Future iOS Devices

tsmc_logo_newChip manufacturing company TSMC started shipping processors to Apple in Q2 2014, reports the Wall Street Journal. After exclusively sourcing its processors from Samsung, Apple last year struck a deal with TSMC that would see the manufacturer begin supplying A-series chips for Apple's iOS devices.

Apple's deal with TSMC is a win-win situation for both companies with Apple reducing its reliance on Samsung for iOS device components and TSMC receiving a boost financially from Apple's hardware orders.
The development means Apple doesn't have to rely solely on Samsung for microprocessors, a critical component that controls applications running in smartphones and tablets. By securing an additional supplier, Apple will have more leverage when it comes to price negotiations with its chip suppliers in the future. Through the deal, TSMC adds a high-profile customer that could help support expensive research investments the manufacturer needs to move to advanced technology and will likely boost its overall revenue this year, analysts said.
In line with previous reports, TSMC allegedly began mass producing chips for Apple using its 20-nanometer process earlier this year and is working with the company on future 16-nanometer designs. Apple also is rumored to be working with Samsung on next year's A9 processor which could use a 14-nanometer design.

Apple Placing Unprecedented Amount of iPhone 6 Orders, First Batch Estimated at 68 Million Units

Taiwan's Business Weekly (Google Translate, via GforGames) reports that Apple has placed an extraordinary amount of orders for the iPhone 6 ahead of its launch this fall, which is said to be twice as large when compared to orders for the iPhone 5 in 2012.

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The paper also states that Apple's first iPhone 6 order will consist of 68 million units, with the device finally entering mass production later this month. This is consistent with earlier rumors about the mass production of the 4.7-inch device, although it is unknown if this newest report is referring to joint production of the 4.7-inch and larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6.

Apple is likely pushing for a large initial order of the iPhone 6 in order to avoid the supply issues that surrounded the launches of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5. While some reports have suggested that Apple may launch the 5.5-inch version of the iPhone 6 after the 4.7-inch version due to issues with display technology and battery life, a recent report from Bloomberg suggested that both devices could launch simultaneously.

In addition to a larger display, both versions of the iPhone 6 will most likely feature a thinner, curved-edge casing along with a faster A8 processor and improved camera. Following the trends of the past two iPhone launches, it is also likely that Apple will reveal and launch the iPhone 6 in September.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

Report Claims iPhone 6 Will Feature New Dynamic Haptic Feedback Technology

Apple's iPhone 6 will feature a new haptic feedback technology when it ships later this year, claims Chinese mobile phone information site Laoyaoba (Google Translate, via GforGames).

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iPhone 6 render by Tomas Moyano and Nicolas Aichino

Citing inside sources, the report claims that Apple will ship the iPhone 6 with a tactile feedback linear motor, which can allow the user to feel subtle vibrations depending on different app scenarios and even on specific areas of the touch screen. The report also notes that this new haptic feedback motor will cost twice or three times as much as the $0.60 vibration motor found in the iPhone 5s.

Apple has expressed interest in haptic technology in the past, filing a patent on the subject in 2009. That patent discussed the idea of allowing users to "feel out" the different elements on a web page with haptic feedback, noting that the lack of such a technology was a disadvantage for the iPhone's multi-touch screen.

The iPhone 6 is expected to launch in September in two sizes of 4.7-inches and 5.5-inches. Aside from a larger display, the device is also expected to include a faster quad-core 64-bit A8 processor, and a thinner design with curved edges like that of the fifth-generation iPod touch. Both iPhone 6 models are also expected to receive an improved camera, which will come in the form of optical image stabilization for the 5.5-inch model and a new lens module for the smaller 4.7-inch phone.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

Apple Sold 2 Million Apple TVs Last Year in US, Trailing Behind Chromecast and Roku

Google's Chromecast and the Roku were the two highest-selling streaming media devices in the U.S. last year as the Apple TV fell to third place, according to new data from Parks Associates (via GigaOM).

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Both Google and Roku sold an estimated 3.8 million streaming media devices last year, with Apple selling just over 2 million Apple TVs. To date, Apple has sold over 20 million Apple TVs worldwide since launching the streaming device in 2007, while Roku has sold 8 million devices since its first media box in 2008.

A Parks Associates report last year noted that 14% of U.S. broadband households were using streaming media devices. The study also stated that 37% of those surveyed households used a Roku device while 24% used an Apple TV, making the Roku the most used set-top box in the U.S.

Recent rumors have suggested that Apple is working on a next-generation Apple TV, which may feature a streaming TV service through a partnership with Comcast and other cable-box like capabilities. Some reports have also speculated that a new Apple TV may include enhanced gaming capabilities, utilizing iOS gaming controllers and an App Store ecosystem to provide a console-like experience.

Related roundup: Apple TV

Apple Environmental Report: Carbon Footprint Down 3%, 145 U.S. Stores Now Using 100% Renewable Energy

Apple today released its 2014 Environmental Responsibility Report [PDF], posting the new information on its updated Environmental Initiatives website. The report, which covers fiscal 2013, highlights the progress Apple has made towards its environmental goals, which include reducing climate change by using renewable energy sources, using greener materials, and conserving "precious resources."

Apple notes that its carbon footprint from energy use has dropped by 31 percent from fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2013, even though energy consumption has increased by 44 percent. The company also recalculated its 2012 emissions and found that its overall carbon footprint shrank by three percent from 2012 to 2013, its first decline.

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Second, while focusing on our climate data, we decided to recalculate our 2012 emissions using our newest methodology -- the same model we used to calculate our 2013 numbers. The new analysis shows that our carbon footprint actually shrank by 3 percent from 2012 to 2013. This marked the first time we've seen a year-over-year decline since we began tracking the numbers in 2009. While we're excited about this progress, we know our work is far from done.
145 of Apple's U.S. retail stores and all of its retail locations in Australia are powered using 100 percent renewable energy and energy efficiency programs implemented in its corporate offices have saved 28.5 million kWh of electricity and 751,000 therms of natural gas.

In addition, with its alternative commute programs for employees, which include a $100 transportation subsidy and biodiesel-powered buses, Apple has been able to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 15,000 vehicles. A large section of the report is also dedicated to the company's new campus, which "will be the most energy-efficient building of its kind," powered by 100 percent renewable energy and populated with more than 7,000 trees.

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The report also highlights Apple's commitment to recycling, its vow to use only clean, safe materials without harmful toxins, and its dedication to creating new products using less materials. Apple has now reached a worldwide recycling rate of 85 percent.

Apple ends the report with a list of challenges that it seeks to overcome, noting that its water consumption increased significantly in 2013 due to the work on its Apple 2 Campus. The company also cites the carbon emissions of its manufacturing partners as an area that it is "committed to addressing."

Over the course of the past eight years, Apple has managed to reduce the carbon footprint of its Mac business by 27 percent, thanks to its focus on the environment. In addition to powering many of its retail stores with renewable energy, its data centers are powered with 100 percent renewable energy, as is its existing corporate location in Cupertino thanks to a 2012 energy overhaul.

Earlier this year, in celebration of Earth Day, Apple overhauled its Environmental Responsibility website and launched a "Better" video that explains its environmentally friendly values.

Lenovo Passes Apple in U.S. PC Shipments As Worldwide Market Flatlines

Apple saw its U.S. PC marketshare decline to 10.6 percent in the second quarter of 2014, down from 11.5 percent in the year-ago quarter, according to new data released from Gartner. With 1.6 million shipments, it trailed behind HP, Dell, and Lenovo, ranking fourth for the first time in several years.

Lenovo saw the most significant growth at 20.3 percent, while HP and Dell also saw high growth rates of 15.5 percent and 12.3 percent, respectively. Toshiba, with just over a million shipments, also saw growth of 18.5 percent.

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Gartner's Preliminary U.S. PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 2Q14 (In Thousands)
"The consumer PC market also started picking up in the U.S. The availability of affordable, thin and light notebooks have drawn consumers' attention," Ms. Kitagawa said. "Touch enable devices are also widely available with decreasing price premiums compared to a year ago. The price premium is low enough for mainstream consumers to spend the extra money for the additional functionalities,
such as touch."

Four of the top five vendors in the U.S. market experienced double-digit growth. HP was the market leader, accounting for 27.7 percent of PC shipments.
Overall, U.S. PC shipments totaled 15.9 million, up 7.4 percent year over year, while worldwide PC shipments saw flat growth compared to the year-ago quarter. Shipments totaled 75.8 million units, a 0.1 increase. Though worldwide PC shipments have ceased to decline in 2Q14, interest in low-cost tablets continues to eat into the traditional PC market.

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Apple's U.S. Market Share Trend: 1Q06-2Q14 (Gartner)

IDC has also released its own estimates of PC shipments for the second quarter of 2014, painting a similar picture. IDC puts Apple's shipments at 1.6 million and its market share at 10 percent, down from 10.9 percent, a 1.7 percent decline. IDC's numbers also rank HP, Dell, and Lenovo as the top three vendors in the United States, with all three seeing growth of 15.6, 12.9, and 24.7 percent, respectively.

Unlike Gartner, IDC suggests worldwide PC sales totaled just 74.4 million, a year-over-year decline of 1.7 percent, with U.S. sales up 6.9 percent.

IDC and Gartner did not list Apple's worldwide market share for the quarter, as usual, because the company does not rank among the top five vendors on a worldwide basis. Apple's U.S. decline comes even as the company dropped the prices on two of its flagship products in 2014 -- both the MacBook Air and the iMac saw price drops, with the former gaining a small spec boost and the latter seeing the introduction of a new low-cost version.

Apple Tattled on Google to Draw FTC Attention to Similar Kids In-App Purchasing Issue

in-app-purchaseEarlier this year, Apple entered into an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, promising to provide $32 million in refunds to parents whose children purchased unauthorized in-app items.

As it turns out, while Apple was being targeted by the FTC for letting children make in-app purchases without parental consent, the company was attempting to get Google in trouble for doing the same thing. According to a report from Politico, head Apple lawyer Bruce Sewell sent the FTC a report highlighting the same in-app purchase issues in Google's own Play store.
"I thought this article might be of some interest, particularly if you have not already seen it," Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell wrote to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Democratic Commissioner Julie Brill, pointing to a report that criticized Google's app store over the same issue of unauthorized purchases. The previously undisclosed email was obtained by POLITICO through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Apple has long faced issues over in-app purchases, with the company first landing in hot water with the FTC after multiple parental complaints over children over-spending within apps and several high profile stories of children spending thousands of dollars. While most of the focus has been on Apple, Google too has faced the same issues, as children were able to make purchases for up to 30 minutes after a parent entered a password, much as they could in the App Store before Apple implemented specific changes.

Apple was not happy to be singled out by the FTC over in-app purchases, as the company had previously settled a lawsuit levied at it over the issue. Under the terms of the lawsuit, Apple had agreed to provide iTunes credit and cash refunds to parents, but the FTC demanded more.

At the time, Tim Cook said the FTC's decision to sue over a previously settled case "smacked of double jeopardy," but agreed to the terms as it didn't "require us to do anything we weren't already going to do."

Apple officially began sending emails to affected iTunes users and issuing refunds in March. Google has thus far not been targeted by the FTC.