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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.

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Traditional watch-style iWatch concept 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!)

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.

iphone6
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).

iphone6render
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).

apple_tv_roku_3
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.

carbonfootprint
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.

applecampus2
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.

4.7-Inch iPhone 6 Rear Shell Shown in High-Quality Photos and Video

Over the past six weeks, we've seen a few photos and even a video of what has been claimed to be the actual rear shell of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, showing a nearly all-metal design with separate bands presumably to accommodate the antennas at the top and bottom.

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Inside of rear shell
(Click for larger)

MacRumors has now received a number of new photos and a video showing a similar version of the part. The first part comes via Feld & Volk [Facebook page], a Moscow-based company selling modified luxury versions of the iPhone. Feld & Volk says it has been working with the same factories that make spare parts for Apple products for more than six years, enabling it to get a head start on modifying the device for its customers. Feld & Volk has been using sapphire crystal on its high-end modified iPhones for several years, and says that its sapphire suppliers are the same ones Apple has begun working with more recently.

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Bottom edge with holes for headphone jack and Lightning port - mic and speaker holes not yet cut
(Click for larger)

The part is shown on video and in a number of high-quality images, showing detail of the complex internals of the rear shell to accommodate the various features of the device. The part is not quite complete, with some features such as the full set of camera/mic/flash holes yet to be punched out of the shell, and Feld & Volk notes that some of physical features such as a number of screw holes shown on the part are actually from the manufacturing process and would be removed in later steps of production as the part is cleaned up.


As seen on previous leaks, the Apple logo is cut out of the shell, unlike on current iPhone models. Some have speculated that Apple may looking to incorporate a lighted logo, but more likely the company is simply planning to use a durable embedded logo as it does on its iPad models. Embedding a logo make of a non-metal material would also give the device another radio-transparent window that could be used to improve reception.

Click here to read rest of article...

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

OS X Yosemite Beta Usage Beats Mavericks' Pace by 4x as New Features and Look Draw Testers

Apple announced OS X Yosemite last month during its worldwide developers conference and released the first beta version of the operating system to developers at the same time. According to web analytics firm Chitika, developer interest in Yosemite is high with an early adoption rate that is significantly greater than its predecessor OS X Mavericks and still growing.
Overall, the data point to a promising future for OS X Yosemite. In the short term, we expect the operating system’s usage share to grow in the wake of the release of the third Developer Preview edition on July 7, 2014. Additionally, with the increased level of developer activity thus far, along with the success of the similarly no cost OS X Mavericks, it’s very probable that OS X Yosemite adoption will outpace that of any other previous Mac desktop OS when it is released publicly later this year.
Chitika measured Mac OS X ad impressions from users in the U.S. and Canada between June 2 and July 2, 2014. Adoption of OS X Yosemite rose quickly after release, climbing to 0.15% of total U.S. and Canadian Mac OS X Web traffic in just a few days. In comparison, OS X Mavericks last year took about 30 days to reach only 0.05% of measured web traffic.

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Chitika attributes this higher adoption to curiosity about new features of OS X, especially those collaborative options that tie into iOS. Along with OS X Yosemite, Apple introduced iOS 8 with new continuity features that improve the cross-platform integration of iOS 8 with OS X Yosemite. Most notable is Handoff, which allows users to start a task on one iCloud-enabled device and easily transfer that task to another nearby device without losing changes.

Related roundup: OS X Yosemite

Intel's Broadwell Chips for Most Macs Not Shipping Until Early to Mid 2015

Intel's line of 14-nanometer Broadwell chips, which are expected to be included in future versions of the MacBook Air, Retina MacBook Pro, and iMac, have been further delayed, reports Chinese site VR Zone [Google Translate] (via CPU World).

According to the site, while Intel will begin production on its extremely low power Core M processors in July and August for a 2014 launch, production on the U and H Broadwell chip series will not begin until much later in the year.

As a result, the Broadwell U 2+3 dual-core chips with GT3 (HD 5000 or Iris) graphics, likely slated for use in the MacBook Air and the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, won't be ready to ship until February of 2015. The Broadwell H 4+3e quad-core chips with Iris Pro graphics designed for the larger Retina MacBook Pro and iMac won't be shipping until July 2015 at the earliest.

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Back in May, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich promised Broadwell processors for the 2014 holiday season, but it appears that the promised chips will be limited to the company's Core M processor series, used in ultra low power products like two-in-one computers. Broadwell chips suitable for Apple products will not make their first appearance until 2015, which Intel essentially confirmed to CNET in June.
"We expect the initial Broadwell-based devices, including fanless 2-in-1s built on the Core M processor, will be on shelves by the end of this year with more products and broader OEM availability in 2015," Intel told CNET on Wednesday.
Intel's Broadwell chips have seen several delays over the course of 2013 and 2014, and were originally slated to enter production in late 2013 before production was delayed until Q1 2014 and then Q3 2014. The delays are reportedly due to problems with the 14-nanometer process used to manufacture the chips.

Intel's continual Broadwell delays are likely impacting Apple's own release plans. Rumors have suggested Apple is planning a fall launch of a refreshed Retina MacBook Pro and a new 12-inch MacBook Air, but it is unclear which chips the company will use. Apple may only be able to offer a minor Haswell processor boost for the Retina MacBook Pro, which will be the only update the line sees until Broadwell is ready. Apple has already given the MacBook Air a Haswell refresh bump alongside a price drop with an update in late April.

On the desktop side, Apple introduced a new low-end iMac last month, but otherwise the lineup has not been updated since last September. The Mac mini has not even been updated to Haswell yet, with its last revision coming in October 2012. It is unknown why Apple has not released updated Mac mini models, as appropriate Haswell chips are readily available.

Intel's Broadwell chips are said to be 30 percent faster and more power efficient than Haswell, offering even greater increases in battery life and performance. According to Intel, the Broadwell delays will not affect the company's next line of processors, Skylake, as the chips are based on new architecture. Broadwell, however, will have a very short lifespan as Skylake has a prospective late 2015 release date.

Related roundups: iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro

Foxconn's 'Foxbot' Robots to Play Supporting Role in Factories

Over the weekend, it was reported that Foxconn would be soon deploying its own "Foxbot" robots to its factories to help assemble devices, with CEO Terry Gou noting that Apple would be the first use the service. Now, Taiwan's United Daily News (Google Translate, via GforGames) is sharing more details on the assembly robots, stating that they will play a supporting role in Foxconn's factories alongside employees.

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According to the paper, the assembly robots will be used for less intensive tasks such as tightening screws and positioning exterior components for polishing. Foxconn factory employees will still be responsible for more important tasks such as quality control and general assembly, however the company expects its robots to help greatly with device yield and output.

Foxconn is reportedly on track to deploy 10,000 robots to its factories, with each robot costing anywhere from $20,000 to $25,000 to make. The company has recently gone on a hiring spree ahead of the launch of Apple's iPhone 6 this fall, bringing on 100,000 new workers to help assemble the device.

The iPhone 6 is expected to launch this September, and will come in two sizes of 4.7-inches and 5.5-inches. In addition to a larger display, the device will also likely feature a thinner profile, an improved camera, a faster A8 processor, and more.

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

Apple Hires Two Former Nike FuelBand Engineers, Possibly for iWatch Team

Earlier this year, Nike significantly downsized its FuelBand team, firing several members of the 80-person team that worked to create its well-known fitness tracker as part of a shift from hardware to software.

Apple snapped up two of the former FuelBand team members in June, Ryan Bailey and Jon Gale. As noted by 9to5Mac, Bailey, who served as a Senior Test and Validation Engineer at Nike is now listed as a Mechanical Design Engineer at Apple, while Gale, who was a Senior Firmware Engineer at Nike is now employed as a Sensing Systems Engineer at Apple.

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According to his LinkedIn profile, Bailey specialized in wearable device and consumer electronic product development, focused on providing engineering recommendations to major engineering leads. Gale, meanwhile, developed hardware and firmware architectures for Nike Digital Sport products.
Primary responsibility is to define both the hardware and firmware architectures for Nike Digital Sport products. Additionally, I managed the development of product firmware through partner companies. Responsible for delivering firmware to validate the design in a manufacturing environment, define and implementation of custom protocols to interact with other components of the Nike ecosystem, and translate high-level product requirements into actionable, testable definitions. I personally owned the delivery of firmware for the Nike FuelBand product line.
It is unclear if Gale and Bailey have joined Apple's wearables team to work on the iWatch, but it is a distinct possibility given their expertise on wearable devices. Apple offers many positions under the job titles of Mechanical Design Engineer and Sensing Systems Engineer, however, so it is unknown exactly what the two are working on.

Over the course of the past year, Apple has hired several experts in the health and fitness fields to join its iWatch team, including fitness guru Jay Blahnik, sleep expert Roy Raymann, pulse oximetry expert and former Chief Medical Officer Michael O'Reilly, and several other scientists and executives from notable sensor companies like AccuVein, C8 MediSensors, and Senseonics. Most recently, the company took on the former sales director of luxury watch brand TAG Heuer, Patrick Pruniaux, possibly to help market the iWatch.

According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, Apple's upcoming wearable device will feature 10 different sensors to track various health and fitness metrics. It's said to integrate heavily with the Health app in iOS 8, and it may come in both multiple sizes and multiple designs to satisfy a wide range of tastes. Apple is expected to introduce the iWatch at an October event.

Related roundup: iWatch

Siri 'Just Thrilled' About iOS 8, but Sad About Lack of Stage Time at WWDC

Developers running the beta version of iOS 8 can ask Siri for an opinion on the new operating system, prompting Apple's virtual assistant to provide one of several humorous responses. Siri's funny responses are limited to iOS 8 -- iOS 7 users who ask Siri about iOS 8 receive generic responses on Siri's like of Apple products.

Asking "Siri, do you like iOS 8?" will result in tongue-in-cheek answers that hint at new features in iOS 8 like "It's just swift," alluding to the company's newly introduced programming language.

sirios8responses
Siri's answers also allude to new Apple's HomeKit home automation platform, which will allow Siri to control various connected devices such as Philips' line of Hue lights.
"I'm just thrilled about iOS 8 -- It's like moving into a bigger, nicer house. And I get to turn the lights on and off."
The virtual assistant also pokes fun at the limited amount of time Apple spent going over new Siri features during its keynote event at the Worldwide Developers Conference.
"Impressive, but... you'd think they could have talked about me for more than thirty seconds. Sniff."
Siri has gained several major new features in iOS 8, including Shazam integration that allows the voice assistant to identify songs upon request, and the ability to open the App Store for the first time. Siri's also able to be activated hands-free with the voice command "Hey Siri," when plugged in, and it supports streaming voice recognition for real-time feedback on requests.

Apple has worked hard to improve Siri since its 2011 introduction alongside iOS 5, adding new capabilities and a never-ending stream of funny responses and quips to requests and queries. As of late, rumors have suggested that the company is planning to bring Siri development in-house, working to build a strong speech recognition team.

Apple seeded the third iOS 8 beta to developers yesterday, with plans to release the operating system to the public in the fall following an extended beta testing period.

Related roundups: iOS 8, iOS 8 Features

Third-Party Mac Icons Reimagined in OS X Yosemite Style

With the introduction of OS X Yosemite, Apple introduced a significant visual change with an iOS 7-like "flat" look and completely redesigned icons. While Apple's icons will see a refresh once Yosemite is released, users will have to wait until third-party companies have updated their icons to match Apple's new design language for OS X icons.

In the meantime, users in this long running MacRumors' forums thread have been designing their own "flat" versions of both Apple and third-party applications, allowing some users to switch out their icons until the real thing is available. Additionally, some users are redesigning Apple's own icons for users who are using Mavericks rather than the Yosemite beta.

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iWork, Twitter, Skype and 1Password icons by Arn0

While the icons may not be fully representative of the official icons, they do provide a look into Apple's new icon philosophy enacted upon an icon not designed for it, allowing for a glimpse into various companies' processes.

Forum member Arn0 had been taking requests from other forum members, recreating various icons to fit more along more nicely with Yosemite's design aesthetics.

Alongside stand-alone apps like 1Password, Twitter and Skype, Arn0 also redesigned icons for entire suites of software, like Adobe's Creative Suite. Thread starter Humex has been sharing a number of different examples of flat OS X icons from around the web, including concepts that hew closer to Apple's style than Arn0.

Alternatively, designers like drflash have taken a different approach to flat design. Rather than mimic Apple's philosophy and match OS X Yosemite, they created their own design language with Flat OS, which provides a completely different experience for OS X users. The design seems to marry "flat" design alongside some skeumorphic principles, giving icons a more tangible feel.

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Flat OS X by drflash

In a blog post on Gizmodo, MartianCraft's Nick Keppol explains that Yosemite's new look centers around four basic ideas: visual rhythm in the dock, three basic icon shapes and their design grid, shape hierarchy and lighting effects and materials.

Visual rhythm allows the new dock to look more consistent, although that is helped by the fact that OS X icons are now broken up into three types: circles, squares and titled rectangles. While Apple itself isn't totally consistent with these three types, Keppol found that - for the most part - circles are used for more consumer-oriented apps, squares are used for System-related utilizes and titled rectangles are used for applications that are most often used for work.

Finally, Apple uses Hollywood-style yellow and orange highlights and blue and teal shadows to give the metal-like materials that the icons are made out of feel warm and tangible. This helps create the illusion that the icons are more physical than previous icons while also looking flatter than before.

If you'd like to switch out your icons until they're fully upgraded with OS X Yosemite, the icon sets shown are linked above, while all of Arn0's redesigned icons are available to download via Dropbox. Icon sets from arn0 and other designers are also available to download via the forum thread. Here are easy instructions on how to change app icons on OS X.