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Hilton to Adopt Digital Check-In, Smartphone-Based Room Keys Worldwide

Hilton Worldwide, a company that operates thousands of hotels around the globe, today announced plans to roll out new mobile-based check-in and room selection tools, as well as digital smartphone-based room keys.

Hilton guests will be able to select their rooms online using their smartphones, which will be able to display floor plans for each available room. Guests will also be able to check-in/check-out using their smartphones, as well as purchase upgrades and make special requests for item deliveries.

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Room selection: At 6 a.m. the day before a booked stay, Hilton HHonors members can sign into their account via their mobile device, tablet or computer to check-in and choose their preferred room through floor plan maps or lists populated from the hotel's available inventory. Photos of rooms are also available to help with their selection. Hilton's digital lobby function is updated in real-time, so guests no longer have to wait until they are physically in the hotel lobby to be assigned a room.
While Hilton's new service is limited to check-ins and room selection at the current time, next year the hotel chain plans to allow guests to unlock their hotel rooms with their smartphones.

Hilton is planning to roll out its digital enhancements to select hotels during the summer and the fall, and by the end of 2014, smartphone-based check-ins and room selection will be available for more than 650,000 rooms across 4,000 hotels. The technology that allows smartphones to be used as room keys will begin rolling out in 2015, with wide availability in 2016.

Hilton is not the first hotel chain to begin allowing guests to enter their hotel rooms with their smartphones, as Starwood Hotels & Resorts implemented a pilot program to test the technology earlier this year. Hilton's eventual rollout will be much larger, however, and it also includes the aforementioned tools for personalized room selections and easy check-ins.

Bare Logic Boards for 4.7-Inch and 5.5-Inch iPhone 6 Compared in New Photos

Following the publication of several photos over the weekend showing what was claimed to be the bare logic board for the upcoming 4.7-inch iPhone 6, Nowherelse.fr now shares [Google Translate] a new set of photos showing the same part reportedly from the even larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 model.

The photos include side-by-side comparisons of the part from both iPhone 6 models and the iPhone 5s, and while it does not appear to be confirmed which iPhone 6 logic board is for which device size, there are now clearly two distinct parts larger than the current iPhone 5s logic board.

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Logic board fronts left to right: newly shown iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, previous iPhone 6
(Click for larger)

The component layout of the logic boards from the two iPhone 6 models appear very similar, but the board design and screw hole layout are somewhat different, particularly on the upper portion of the board including the arm extending across the top of the device above the battery. As with the first logic board, this part allegedly includes support for near field communications (NFC).

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Logic board backs left to right: newly shown iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, previous iPhone 6
(Click for larger)

While the legitimacy of the parts can not be confirmed, they do appear very similar to existing parts and exhibit complexity that would be expensive to fake. They also contain part numbers (820-3675-04 and 820-2486-09) in the pattern followed by Apple.

The iPhone 6 is expected to debut around the September timeframe, although it is unclear whether that launch will include both versions or only the 4.7-inch model. Rumors have been split on whether the 5.5-inch model will launch simultaneously or up to several months later due to production challenges.

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

Retina MacBook Pro Updates Reportedly Due Tuesday, July 29: Minor Haswell CPU Updates Expected

Following yesterday's reported spotting of in-store digital signage from an Apple retail store in China showing upgraded specs for the Retina MacBook Pro, MacG.co now claims [Google Translate] the update is set to arrive tomorrow, July 29. The information comes from a reliable source who has accurately predicted MacBook Air, iMac, and iPod touch updates in recent months, although the source was off by a few days on the iPod touch update timing.

Few details on the new Retina MacBook Pros are available from the source other than that the update will include both 13-inch and 15-inch models and that only minor changes to the internal model number (J44a and J45a respectively) point to a simple speed bump.

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The in-store digital signage had shown details on three 15-inch MacBook Pro models, all carrying "Haswell refresh" processors clocking in at 200 MHz faster than their counterparts currently used in the Retina MacBook Pro line. Those new Haswell chips were introduced by Intel last week, and we noted at the time that the list of three dual-core and three quad-core processors appeared almost custom tailored for a Retina MacBook Pro update.

In addition to the processor upgrades, the signage also pointed to a bump in RAM for the low-end 15-inch model, moving from 8 GB to 16 GB.

While the Retina MacBook Pro upgrade appears imminent, the minor update is in large part a stopgap measure as Apple and other manufacturers await Intel's much-delayed Broadwell family of processors. Broadwell chips appropriate for the Retina MacBook Pro may not be ready until as late as mid-2015.

Update 1:22 PM: MacRumors has received word that seven new model numbers are indeed incoming to retail stores, likely corresponding to the three stock configurations of the 13-inch model and two for the 15-inch model, along with a maxed-out "ultimate" configuration of each as is commonly carried in-store.

Related roundup: MacBook Pro

Microsoft Launches New Cortana vs. Siri Ad Showing Off Context-Aware Reminders

Microsoft today launched a new commercial comparing its new Cortana virtual assistant to Apple's virtual assistant Siri, demonstrating how the former is able to perform contextually-aware tasks using a number of services.


Titled "Happy Anniversary", the commercial shows Cortana and Windows Phone 8.1 running on the Nokia Lumia 635 as the narrator makes commands related around a wedding anniversary. First, the narrator asks Cortana to remind him to wish his wife a happy birthday he next time she calls, as the voice assistant schedules a reminder around the call. Meanwhile, Siri does not comply to the request.

The narrator then asks Cortana to remind him to get roses when he comes near any flower shop, while Siri once again does not comply. Finally, Cortana automatically gives a traffic reminder prompting the narrator to leave before traffic delays, as Siri finishes by saying "Now that is a smart phone."

This is the first time that Microsoft has demonstrated its new Cortana voice assistant against Siri, however the company has used Siri's voice to poke fun at the iPad in the past. Cortana was originally announced in April alongside Windows Phone 8.1, as Microsoft touted the virtual assistant's ability to tie reminders and tasks around people and locations. Notably, a Windows Phone manager said last month that the company wants Cortana to be "pervasive" among mobile platforms, perhaps indicating that Microsoft could expand Cortana to iOS and Android.

Apple Close to Acquiring Radio Streaming Service Swell for $30 Million

Apple is close to acquiring talk radio curation service Swell for about $30 million, reports Re/code. Swell's iOS app launched last year and allows users to listen to streaming audio from iTunes, NPR, ABC, ESPN and others through a design that emphasizes simplicity.

As a part of the acquisition, Swell will shut down its iOS app this week as its CEO Ram Ramkumar and other members of its development team will join Apple. Apple will likely look to use Swell's technology to improve its own Podcasts app, which holds a 1.5 star rating and has been widely criticized for performance issues. Users of Podcasts also experienced an outage last month, as the app constantly crashed upon opening.

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Swell's iOS app

Apple's purchase of Swell follows the acquisition of "Pandora for Books" startup BookLamp in April for a reported sum between $10 million and $15 million, as the company also acquired Beats Electronics this past May for $3 billion. It was revealed in the company's Q3 2014 results earnings call that it had acquired 29 companies since beginning of 2013, with 5 coming from beginning of March quarter, not including Beats.

Chart Suggests Speed-Bumped 15-Inch Retina MacBook Pros with 16GB of RAM Standard Coming Soon

Apple may be planning to launch a slightly refreshed line of 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros complete with faster Haswell processors and 16GB of RAM standard, according to a photo said to have come from the company's Chongqing, China store (via BBS Feng, Google Translate).

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The purported pricing chart shows two standard configurations priced at 14,288 yuan and 18,688 yuan, which is the same as Apple's current pricing for its 15-inch notebook line in China. If real, this pricing chart would indicate that Apple would keep its current pricing instead of offering each new model for less as done for the MacBook Air earlier this year.

The first configuration comes with a faster Intel Core i7 2.2 GHz processor and 16GB of RAM standard compared to the current 2.0 GHz Intel Core i7 and 8GB of RAM found on the current base model 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. Meanwhile, the second configuration features a 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7 processor and the same 16GB of RAM, up from the current 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7 processor. Both models feature the same graphics, with the first configuration coming with Intel's Iris Pro graphics and the second coming with both the Iris Pro and NVIDIA's GeForce GT 750M.

A third high-end configuration priced at 23,688 yuan also appears on the chart, boasting a 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of flash storage, and Intel's Iris Pro graphics plus a NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M.

All of the processors listed on the chart correspond to Intel's new line of Core i7 Haswell processors launched last week, perhaps indicating that an updated 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro line may be imminent. Apple's line of 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros should also see an update in the near future, as Intel also launched new Core i5 Haswell processors alongside its refreshed i7 Haswell chips.

A minor refresh of the Retina MacBook Pro line was originally noted earlier this year alongside a rumored 12-inch Retina MacBook. According to the latest reports, the 12-inch Retina MacBook may be pushed back to next year because of Intel's delayed Broadwell chips.

Bare iPhone 6 Logic Board Surfaces, Claimed to Support NFC and 802.11ac Wi-Fi

Claimed internal components for the iPhone 6 are beginning to surface with increasing frequency as it is now likely less than two months until launch. In line with those developments, a new set of photos [Google Translate] shared by Nowhereelse.fr reveal what appears to be the bare logic board of the iPhone 6, likely the 4.7-inch model.

According to Nowehereelse.fr, the source who shared the photos of the parts claims the iPhone 6 will include support for both near field communication (NFC) and faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi, although neither of those claims can be confirmed from the photos themselves. NFC for the iPhone has been rumored for years, but has yet to come to fruition and rumors are once again split as to whether the iPhone 6 will include the technology. 802.11ac seems to be a natural upgrade for the iPhone now that appropriate chips are available.

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The logic board bears a number of similarities to corresponding parts from other iPhones, although this part includes a much longer piece extending across what would be the top of the device. Given the larger body size of the iPhone 6, however, it is unsurprising that internal components could see some changes to their design and layout.

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Overlay of logic board and rear shell

Screw holes in the board also appear to line up with ones seen in recent leaks of claimed rear shell parts for the iPhone 6, indicating they are indeed likely from the same device.

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Annotation of likely iPhone 6 logic board component locations
(Click for larger)

With the photos showing only the bare printed board and no chips or other components installed, it is difficult to tell much new information from the part, although the locations of some components can be identified based on their similarities to other iPhone logic boards.

The iPhone 6 is expected to see a similar launch timeframe as in recent years, with a September media event introduction followed by a launch shortly after. While the 4.7-inch model is expected to follow this timeline, an even larger 5.5-inch model is said to still be in flux and may not debut until several months later.

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

Apple Acquired 'Pandora for Books' Startup BookLamp In April

Apple has acquired BookLamp, a "Pandora for books" startup that aimed to provide personalized book recommendations to readers via specialized algorithms, reports TechCrunch. BookLamp first shut down in April.

BookLamp was known for its Book Genome project, a book discovery engine that analyzed the text of books to break them down by various themes and variables to let readers search for books similar to books they liked.

For example, analyzing The Da Vinci Code, the search engine would break it down to elements of 18.6% Religion and Religions Institutions, 9.4% Police & Murder Investigation, 8.2% Art and Art Galleries, and 6.7% Secret Societies and Communities, and then it would be able to recommend a book similar to The Da Vinci Code based on that data.

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BookLamp screenshot via Mashable

This type of analytics service could be directly used to improve recommendations and search in iBooks, and as noted by TechCrunch, BookLamp's technology could be used to create a competitor to Amazon X-Ray, which lets readers see where in the book certain terms or characters appear.

BookLamp also provided content analysis services to a number of e-book distributors like Amazon, Apple, and other publishers, screening books for categorization and providing a platform for publishers to screen manuscripts. The acquisition will see Apple ramping up its focus on books, according to one source with knowledge of the acquisition.
Part of the reason that Apple made the move to acquire BookLamp was because of this long list of clients. "At first Apple and BookLamp talked about growing their contract, but then they talked more from a strategic standpoint," a source says. "What Apple wanted to do was, instead of contract, they wanted to make sure whatever work was done was done just for them."

And what is that work? The details are not clear yet, but the source says, "in broad strokes, the goal that [founder Aaron] Stanton and three of the folks he was working with from the original BookLamp crew is to beat Amazon at their own game."
BookLamp was purchased for a sum between $10 million and $15 million and while Apple has yet to confirm the purchase, a large amount evidence gathered by TechCrunch suggests several former BookLamp employees have relocated to Cupertino and are now working for Apple.

Update 6:30 PM PT: Apple has confirmed the purchase of BookLamp, giving Re/code its standard statement on purchases: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

U.S. House Approves Bill Making Smartphone Unlocking Legal, Obama Pledges to Sign it Into Law

We're one step closer to being able to legally unlock smartphones again, as the United States House of Representatives today passed legislation that legalizes cell phone unlocking, unanimously voting in favor of the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act.

The Act was approved by the Senate last week, which means the final step is presidential approval. Obama has long supported making cell phone unlocking legal again, and today pledged to sign the bill into law.

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I applaud Members of Congress for passing the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act. Last year, in response to a "We the People" petition from consumers across our country, my Administration called for allowing Americans to use their phones or mobile devices on any network they choose. We laid out steps the FCC, industry, and Congress should take to ensure copyright law does not undermine wireless competition, and worked with wireless carriers to reach a voluntary agreement that helps restore this basic consumer freedom.

The bill Congress passed today is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cell phone carrier that meets their needs and their budget. I commend Chairmen Leahy and Goodlatte, and Ranking Members Grassley and Conyers for their leadership on this important consumer issue and look forward to signing this bill into law.
The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act came about following a 2013 "We the People petition" that called for cell phone unlocking to be made legal. Cell phone unlocking first became illegal in January of 2013, after an exception in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act expired, restricting U.S. customers from shifting service to other carriers or using their devices abroad with local SIM cards.

Under the terms of the bill, consumers and third-party services will again be able to unlock cell phones and tablets without receiving express permission from carriers and without facing criminal penalties.

In December of 2013, U.S. cellular carriers and the FCC also came to an agreement over a set of voluntary principles that make it easier for wireless customers to unlock their devices and switch from carrier to carrier after a contract has been fulfilled.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Bose Sues Beats for Patent Infringement Over Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Bose today filed a lawsuit against Beats Electronics, accusing Beats of infringing on a number of patents related to noise cancellation and other audio technologies (via TechCrunch). The lawsuit accuses Beats Studio and Studio Wireless branded headphones, which advertise "Adaptive Noise Cancellation," of violating five separate Bose patents in the United States.

In the filing, Bose points towards the 50 years of research, engineering, and development of noise cancellation techniques that went into the creation of its QuietComfort line of noise-cancelling headphones, which use the technology Beats has allegedly stolen.

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Beats has been accused of infringing on the following five U.S. patents, which pertain to various noice-cancelling techniques:

No. 6,717,537 - "Method and apparatus for minimizing latency in digital signal processing systems"
No. 8,073,150 - "Dynamically configurable ANR signal processing topology"
No. 8,073,151 - "Dynamically configurable ANR filter block topology"
No. 8,054,992 - "High frequency compensating"
No. 8,345,888 - "Digital high frequency phase compensation"

The lawsuit asks for an injunction that prevents Beats from continuing to produce products that infringe on Bose patents and it requests a damages award for using the company's technology. Bose has also filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission, seeking a sales ban on the Beats products that violate its patents.

Bose's infringement lawsuit against Beats is set to become Apple's problem as the company's purchase of Beats is expected to close this quarter. Apple initially announced its $3 billion acquisition of the headphone manufacturer in May. Apple is currently embroiled in a number of lawsuits, including an ongoing dispute with Samsung Electronics and several class action suits brought against it by former employees.

OS X Yosemite's Share of Mac Traffic Doubles Following Public Beta Launch

Following the launch of yesterday's public beta for OS X Yosemite, the operating system's share of global Mac traffic has nearly doubled according to installation numbers from GoSquared.

The site has been tracking the usage of OS X Yosemite in real time since its initial developer launch on June 2. Yesterday, ahead of the beta launch, Yosemite accounted for 0.26 percent of all Mac traffic globally and as of today, that number has crept up to 0.49 percent.

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In just over 24 hours, the number of Yosemite users has doubled, and those numbers will likely grow even further today and over the weekend as additional testers download the beta OS. Many users are still having issues downloading the software, which is preventing Yosemite from reaching all prospective beta testers.

Earlier this month, analytics from Chitika suggested developer interest in Yosemite was higher than usual, with early adoption rates outpacing Mavericks adoption rates by a significant margin. High interest in OS X Yosemite can be attributed to both the operating system's redesign with a focus on simplicity and translucency and its new features that offer deep integration with iOS 8, including Continuity.

Last year, OS X Mavericks was adopted at a rapid pace, seeing 7 percent installation in under 24 hours after its public launch. Based on the public beta numbers and the high developer interest, Yosemite adoption may be even more rapid when the software is released to the public this fall.

OS X Yosemite is currently available to registered developers and those who signed up to beta test the software. Beta users who are new to the operating system can check out our first impressions post and get troubleshooting tips and information on Yosemite's new features in our Yosemite forums.

GoSquared's Yosemite numbers are gathered from the percentage of page views across all sites using GoSquared's analytics and updated on a minute-by-minute basis.

Related roundup: OS X Yosemite

OS X Yosemite Beta Failing to Download for Some Users

After announcing its OS X beta program at WWDC in June, Apple yesterday released the first beta version of the operating system to the public amid favorable reviews. For a growing number of people, the early impressions of OS X have not been positive due to a downloading issue that has prevented the installation of the OS.

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Users in MacRumors forums, Apple support forums and on Reddit have complained about not being able to download OS X Yosemite from the Mac App Store. These users have successfully redeemed a promo code and initiated the installation, only to have it fail during the download process. This issue has persisted more than 24 hours after the beta was released, suggesting it is not a problem with server overload.
All Apple's online services are fully operational, and Apple support has not mentioned any potential issues that could interfere with OS X downloads. Several users have reported that using a VPN and selecting an alternative country such as Canada has solved the download issue, while others have chosen to delay the install indefinitely.

Apple's beta program has made OS X Yosemite available to up to a million new, non-developer users who now are experiencing the OS for the first time. Beta users can check out our first impressions post as well as our forums for troubleshooting tips, known issues and more.

Related roundup: OS X Yosemite

Apple's Quarterly Spending Points to Major Product Launches, Significant Revenue Growth

Looking at Apple's quarterly SEC quarterly filing, Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley believes Apple's revenue is poised to explode in the coming quarters. Huberty based her prediction on increases in Apple's off-balance sheet commitments, which have a historical correlation with revenue growth.

Off-balance sheet commitments are those investments in components and services that are involved in the mass production and launch of new devices. These line items include component purchases, manufacturing process equipment investments, advertising, and other services. Huberty notes that Apple's total spending in these areas has climbed 46 percent yearly and 36 percent quarterly in fiscal Q3 2014, making last quarter's jump the largest spending increase since Apple first launched the iPhone in 2007.

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Huberty, not surprisingly, attributes this spending increase to Apple's iPhone 6 and iWatch wearable, both of which are expected to launch later this year. These new products, along with services such as mobile payments, could accelerate growth and boost margins.
Apple has the opportunity to take share in slower growth smartphone and tablet markets with larger screens and new services. New product categories like iWatch, and services like payments could further boost growth.
Apple is rumored to be launching its next-generation iPhone 6, refreshed iPad models and a new iWatch smartwatch later this year. The company may also update its Mac hardware to coincide with the debut of OS X Yosemite.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPad Air, iWatch

Apple Begins Mass Production of 4.7-Inch iPhone 6, 5.5-Inch Model and iPads Start in September

China media sources (via GforGames) report that mass production of Apple's 4.7-inch iPhone is underway ahead of the phone's expected fall launch. These same sources claim the 5.5-inch version of the iPhone 6 has not entered mass production, further suggesting that the launch timeframe for this larger iPhone model is still uncertain.

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Besides the iPhone 6, Apple also is preparing the next-generation iPad Air and Retina iPad mini for mass production starting in September. Apple is expected to unveil its new iPads, possibly alongside the iWatch, at an October event that also will likely be used to announce the public release of OS X Yosemite.

As Apple prepares to launch new iPhones and iPads later this year, the company's Asian suppliers are gearing up to boost production by as much as 85 percent by Q4 2014. Some of this increased production may be handled by Foxconn robots, "Foxbots", with the company reportedly deploying as many as 10,000 robots at a cost of up to $25,000 each.

Anticipation for Apple's fall lineup of devices is high, fueled by comments from Apple executives that suggest the company will enter new product categories with a device lineup that is the best it has had in 25 years.

OS X Yosemite Beta: First Impressions, Installation Tips, Known Issues, and Bug Fixes

Today marked the first day of Apple's public beta testing program for OS X Yosemite, letting thousands of non-developers download the software for the first time. With so many new users, new issues and bugs in the beta are coming to light and being catalogued in our Yosemite forum.

We've pulled out some user reactions from the forums to share, along with some tips on troubleshooting possible issues. For users having problems with the beta, the Yosemite forums can be an invaluable resource, and for users still debating whether or not to install the beta software, make sure to check out this post and our forums before taking the plunge as Yosemite is still somewhat unstable.

First Impressions
A lot of new Yosemite users think that the operating system looks great. According to one user, it makes Windows and Mavericks look antiquated in comparison with its new focus on translucency and clean lines. A "Yosemite is Beautiful" thread is full of praise, with users calling it "stunning" and "the best OS X has ever looked."

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While there are a lot of Yosemite users who like the changes Apple's brought to Yosemite, there's a much longer complaint thread entitled "Yosemite Looks Terrible" that includes complaints about Dark Mode, "crappy" fonts, and the bland look of the translucency. Users also say Yosemite looks far less appealing on a non-Retina display.

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Yosemite's Dark Mode, screenshot from Yosemite forum thread

Thus far, most users have not noticed significant performance improvements going from Mavericks to Yosemite, but that could change as Yosemite is still very much in a beta form.

Bugs and Issues
A lot of users have received an error message suggesting their Yosemite codes had already been redeemed after requesting a code. According to Apple, simply refreshing the beta page will provide an entirely new code.

One new Yosemite user who installed the operating system on a partition discovered that Yosemite may cause problems with partitions. Other users have also reported issues with partitions after installing Yosemite, while some have had no problems at all. The linked thread contains some Terminal fixes for users experiencing issues.

There's a lengthy bug thread on OS X Yosemite that has been added to throughout the beta testing period. Some remaining bugs include poor management of dual iTunes accounts, crashes in Activity Monitor, making and receiving calls with the FaceTime app, and unreliable WiFi connections. Problems with specific apps are listed in a separate thread, but some issues include frequent crashes with apps like Spotify and Microsoft Office. Apps like Final Cut Pro X, Aperture, iMovie, and Pixelmator also do not appear to be fully functional.

Handoff and Continuity
For users who have the iOS 8 beta installed on their iOS devices, MacRumors forum member Armen has put together a detailed walkthrough on how to set up Continuity and Handoff, new integration features introduced with the two new operating systems. Continuity appears to be largely functional for users with compatible machines, which have a Bluetooth LMP version of 0x6. Handoff does not appear to be working with 2011 MacBooks, but those machines do appear able to access SMS texts and phone calls.

New Features
New Yosemite users and those who are thinking about installing the beta should also check out the OS X 10.10: All The Little Things forum thread that details all of the lesser-known changes made to Yosemite throughout the beta testing period thus far to get familiarized with the operating system. For example, the latest developer preview introduced an entirely new version of iTunes, a new calculator app, and more.

Installation
Users who signed up for the public beta program can access promo codes to install Yosemite through the beta program website. Apple has also been sending out emails to those who have been selected to beta test Yosemite.

Apple recommends Yosemite be installed on a secondary machine as it is beta software, but users who do not have a secondary machine may want to install the operating system on an external drive or on a separate partition. OS X Daily has a set of instructions that walk users through both scenarios, explaining how to install on a partition or external hard drive. A MacRumors forum member has also explained how to create a bootable USB installer.

OS X Yosemite is expected to remain in beta testing until October, with new versions being seeded to both Appleseed participants and developers. Public beta test members will not, however, get as many updates to the software as developers.

Related roundup: OS X Yosemite

Possible 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Volume/Power Flex Cable and SIM Card Tray Shown in New Images

We've seen several different parts for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, but parts for the larger 5.5-inch version have thus far been in short supply. Apple.club.tw [Google Translation] has shared some new images of what might be the first leaked internal parts for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6, offering up pictures of power/volume flex cables and SIM trays said to be for the device.

The two flex cables that separately house the left side volume buttons/mute switch and the top power button are similar in design to an earlier set of leaked flex cables said to be for one of the iPhone 6 models. There are, however, some design differences that suggest there are two distinct sets of flex cables designed for two different devices floating around the Asian supply chain. For example, the new set of flex cables depicts less space between the volume buttons and the mute buttons and the two flex cables for the power button have different shapes.

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iPhone 6 volume/mute flex cable on top, power button flex cable on bottom

Like the earlier cables, the flex cables in the new images resemble parts from other devices and have an Apple-style part number.

As it is difficult to determine size based on images, it is unclear which set of leaked flex cables might be designed for the 4.7-inch iPhone and which is destined for the 5.5-inch iPhone, but as both cables are different than existing parts for the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini, they point towards two separate devices if legitimate.

Apple.club.tw has also shared images of a longer flex cable with an unknown purpose and a set of SIM card trays in a cobalt blue color. Blue is not expected to be a color for the iPhone 6, as current rumors have pointed towards a release in the existing silver, gold, and space gray for both models, so the blue SIM trays are somewhat questionable.

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As we move closer to the September launch date of the iPhone 6, we expect part leaks to become more frequent. We may also see more parts designed for the larger iPhone 6 as it is expected to enter mass production in August or September. The 4.7-inch iPhone is said to have entered mass production in July.

Rumors have suggested that Apple may ship the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 ahead of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 due to supply constraints with the latter, so it remains unclear if we will see the bigger phone at Apple's prospective iPhone 6 launch event in September.

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

Apple Maintains Tablet Market Share Lead Despite iPad Sales Drop

Apple's recent earnings call revealed that iPad sales continue to decline, with the company shipping only 13.3 million iPads during the third fiscal quarter of 2014 (second calendar quarter), compared to 14.6 million in the year-ago quarter.

Despite the sales drop, Apple continues to be the world's leading tablet vendor, with a total 26.9 percent of the market, according to new numbers from research firm IDC. Samsung retains its number two spot with 8.5 million shipments and a 17.2 percent share, but both major companies have been losing significant ground to companies putting out more affordable tablet devices.

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Lenovo, for example, saw its share of the tablet market rise from 3.3 percent to 4.9 percent, a 64.7 percent jump. ASUS saw 13.1 percent growth, and the "Others" category, which is comprised of vendors not quite in the top five list, has jumped from a 37 percent share to a 44.4 percent share, an increase of 33.4 percent.

Overall, the worldwide tablet market has grown 11 percent year-over-year, with total tablet shipments of 49.3 million, up from 44.4 million in 2013.

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As we indicated last quarter, the market is still being impacted by the rise of large-screen smartphones and longer than anticipated ownership cycles," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, IDC Research Director for Tablets. "We can also attribute the market deceleration to slow commercial adoption of tablets. Despite this trend, we believe that stronger commercial demand for tablets in the second half of 2014 will help the market grow and that we will see more enterprise-specific offerings, as illustrated by the Apple and IBM partnership, come to market."
To date, Apple has sold 225 million iPads and according to Tim Cook, the company isn't worried about declining sales. Cook noted the tablet category is still "in its infancy," and Apple is planning to bring "significant innovation" to the iPad in the future.

iPad sales will likely pick up later this year with the introduction of a second-generation iPad Air and a second-generation Retina iPad mini. Both tablets are expected to include upgraded processors and Touch ID integration. Apple is also expanding its presence in the enterprise tablet market with a new partnership with IBM.

OS X Yosemite Public Beta Now Available via Mac App Store Redemption Codes

In line with yesterday's announcement, Apple today made available a pre-release version of OS X Yosemite to consumers who signed up for the company's OS X public beta program. Public beta program members can access promo codes through the beta program website that allow them to download Yosemite from the Mac App Store for free.

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Early reviews of the pre-release build are favorable, with several reviewers noting improvements in Safari, Messaging and Notifications. Notably missing from the beta, however, are the highly anticipated Continuity features that allow for the integration of OS X with an iPhone or iPad running iOS 8, as only Yosemite is included in the program.

To sign up for the beta program, users must have a Mac running OS X Mavericks and need to register with an Apple ID on Apple's website. Apple cautions members to install the OS on a secondary Mac as it is beta software and may cause unexpected errors or other issues. Enrollment in the beta program is limited to the first one million registrants.

MacRumors readers who want to discuss the beta can do so in our Yosemite forum, which has tips on troubleshooting, comments on new features, and more.

Apple is expected to release OS X Yosemite to the general public later this year, possibly following an October event that also may be used to unveil the iWatch and new iPad models.

Update 12:25 PM PT: Some users who have signed up for the Yosemite beta have encountered an error indicating their beta codes have already been used. Apple suggests that users getting that error message refresh the beta program redemption page to generate a new code.

Related roundup: OS X Yosemite

Swatch Denies Report It Is Working With Apple on iWatch Wearable

Swiss watchmaker Swatch Group today denied a recent report that it was working with Apple to develop a smartwatch product, reports Reuters. VentureBeat first reported this joint venture, citing an unnamed source with knowledge of Apple's plans.

A spokeswoman for Swatch told Reuters that the Apple rumor was "unfounded," adding that Swatch's only relationship with mobile phone manufacturers, including Apple, is as a supplier of internal electronic circuitry and other smaller components. Swatch Chief Executive Nick Hayek reiterated in an interview with Reuters that "he was not interested in teaming up with a tech group to develop a smartwatch."

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The original VentureBeat rumor claimed Swatch and possibly Timex would build a smartwatch based on Apple's iWatch specifications. These third-party manufacturers would release their watches alongside Apple's own iWatch, providing "a family of smart watches to suit all tastes "from geek to chic."

This type of agreement would be unusual for Swatch, whose CEO has publicly expressed skepticism about the future success of the iWatch, saying he doesn't believe "it's the next revolution." Earlier reports also indicate that Apple is working alone on the iWatch, hiring a variety of medical, fitness and fashion experts to help develop the wearable product.

Apple is rumored to unveil its wearable device later this year with reports indicating it will be available in different materials and at various price points in order to appeal to a range of consumers. The smartband may have a fitness focus with sensors that measure vitals such oxygen saturation, hydration status and heart rate. This data may then be shared with iOS 8's new Health app in order to generate a comprehensive health profile for the user.

Related roundup: iWatch

Apple Launching 5.5-Inch iPhone 6 After 4.7-Inch Version to Avoid Competition Between Two Models?

Apple will launch the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 several months after the 4.7-inch version to avoid competition between the two models, according to a new report from DigiTimes citing supply chain sources.
The different timetables have been set as Apple does not want to repeat the mistake it made in 2013 when it launched the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c simultaneously, said the sources.
Prior rumors have pointed out that production issues with the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 would cause Apple to delay its release a few months after 4.7-inch version, however this newest report claims that isn't the case for the launch delay. A report from Bloomberg last month suggested that Apple would be launching both versions of the iPhone 6 simultaneously, noting that the company had begun preparing the 4.7-inch model and 5.5-inch for manufacturing.

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4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 mockups compared to iPhone 5s

Apple is expected to unveil the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 at a September event, although a report yesterday noted that the company is unsure as to whether it will show off the 5.5-inch version at the same time. The company is said to be preparing between 70 and 80 million iPhone 6 units to meet anticipated customer demand, as the larger screen could cause a massive spike in upgrades from both iPhone upgraders and those switching from Android.

In addition to a larger screen, the iPhone 6 is expected to feature a faster A8 processor, a thinner profile, an improved camera, and Apple's new iOS 8 mobile operating system.

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