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iPad Air 3 and iPhone 5se to Be Available on March 18 Following March 15 Introduction

ipadairiphone5sApple is planning to begin selling the upcoming iPad Air 3 and the 4-inch iPhone 5se starting on March 18, reports 9to5Mac. The two devices will be offered in stores and online starting on Friday following their introduction at an event to be held on Tuesday, March 15.

Apple is not expected to accept pre-orders for the two devices, and the short period between announcement and launch suggests Apple expects supplies of the iPad Air 3 and iPhone 5se to be plentiful. It is unusual for Apple to offer an iPhone directly after an announcement, but this is the first time the company has launched a standalone non-flagship device.
Launching the new iPhone and iPad models so soon after introduction and not offering pre-orders would be a new strategy for Apple. Apple typically releases new iPhone models one or two weeks following the introduction events and an online pre-order period.
Rumors have suggested the iPhone 5se will be similar in appearance to the iPhone 5s, but with the curved cover glass used in the iPhone 6s. It is also expected to include an upgraded A9 processor and an 8-megapixel camera similar to the camera used in the iPhone 6.

The iPad Air 3 is rumored to take on design elements from the iPad Pro, offering a four-speaker layout and a Smart Connector that would work with iPad Air accessories. Size wise, it is expected to be nearly identical to the iPad Air 2, and i may also include a rear-facing flash.

Apple's March event is also expected to see the debut of new bands for the Apple Watch, including a Black Milanese Loop that was spotted on the Czech Republic Apple Store website in January. Software currently in testing, including iOS 9.3, watchOS 2.2, OS X 10.11.4, and tvOS 9.2 could be unveiled shortly after the event.

Related Roundups: iPad Air 3, iPhone 5se, iPhone 6c
Buyer's Guide: iPad Air (Don't Buy)

Japan Display's Upcoming Touch Screens Feature Slimmer Bezels, Wet Finger Support

Apple supplier Japan Display revealed some details on its second-generation "Pixel Eyes" LCD modules over the holidays, providing us with a look at some of the ways the display industry is advancing. Japan Display's "Pixel Eyes" modules incorporate touch functionality into the display, and in the second-generation model, there are some exciting improvements.

Using a new sensor structure and new materials, Japan Display has managed to decrease the thickness of the bezel, going from 0.8mm to 0.5mm. A deeper black level is available, and the display can accept input with a stylus as narrow as 1mm for finer detail when drawing or writing.

Perhaps the most intriguing feature in the LCD module is its ability to operate with wet fingers. Many current smartphone screens are unable to work accurately under water and when fingers are wet as water is capacitive and confuses the built-in touch sensors.

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iPhones, iPads, and the Apple Watch, for example, don't respond well to touch with wet fingers or when placed in water, so technology like this could be essential if Apple wants to have a functional display in a device advertised as "waterproof." Some iPhone 7 rumors have indicated the next-generation iPhone could be a waterproof device.

In a report earlier this week, The Motley Fool highlighted Japan Display's second-generation "Pixel Eyes" technology and the possibility it could be included in the iPhone 7. Volume shipments on the displays will begin during the current quarter, making them available for possible inclusion in the iPhone 7 when Apple begins ramping up production during the summer months.

While Japan Display is one of Apple's suppliers, it is not entirely clear if Japan Display screens are used in the iPhone and if the second-generation Pixel Eyes display technology will be used in future products. There have been rumors suggesting Apple and Japan Display have partnered up for a $1.7 billion display plant to produce screens for iPhones in 2016, so it's not out of the question that we'll see Japan Display screens in the iPhone 7 or the iPhone 7s.

Regardless of whether Japan Display's technology ends up in the iPhone, the advancements made by the company serve as an interesting glimpse at features that could be adopted more widely by the display industry in the future, eventually making their way into Apple's devices.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tag: Japan Display Inc

Dr. Dre to Star in Apple's First Original Television Series

Following rumors Apple is planning to create original television content like Netflix and Amazon, news has leaked about the company's first prospective TV show courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter. The series, called Vital Signs, is described as a dark semi-autobiographical drama that stars Beats co-founder and Apple executive Dr. Dre.

Sources who have seen scripts and descriptions of the show have described it as being very dark, reflecting at least in part on the life of Dr. Dre. Each episode is said to focus on a "different emotion" and the way Dre's character handles it.

drdre
While technically a half-hour, the show is not a comedy. Instead, it is described as a dark drama with no shortage of violence and sex. In fact, an episode filming Monday and Tuesday this week featured an extended orgy scene. Sources tell THR naked extras simulated sex in a mansion in the Bird Streets neighborhood of Los Angeles' Hollywood Hills. (Dre's wife Nicole Threatt Young was on set to witness the shenanigans, one insider says.)
News that Apple was exploring the possibility of original television programming first surfaced last summer, ahead of when it shelved its streaming television plans. At the time, it was speculated the content could be provided through a rumored streaming service, but with Apple having ended development on that project at the current time, distribution will come through more traditional means.

The Hollywood Reporter believes the series is likely to be distributed through Apple Music, which was born out of the Beats Music service created by Dre. It may also be available through iTunes or distributed through other channels, but the details on that are not yet clear. As with Netflix shows, all episodes of the series will be released at once.

Dr. Dre is the executive producer on the series, and it's being funded by Apple. The series will also star Sam Rockwell, known for movies like Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Galaxy Quest, and Moon, along with Mo McRae, known for his role in Sons of Anarchy. It will be directed by Paul Hunter.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Tags: Apple Music, Dr. Dre
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

iPhone 7 Predicted to Adopt Lightning Headphones Without Noise-Canceling Capabilities

iPhone-7-Headphone-vs-LightningApple is likely to wait until 2017 and the "iPhone 7s" to introduce noise-canceling headphones, according to a Barclays analyst report posted today. In the report, analysts Blayne Curtis and Christopher Hemmelgarn believe that 2016's iPhone 7 will include a Lightning-equipped headphone accessory, with the "potential" for a dynamic noise-canceling system to be introduced next year.

The analysts believe Apple will use a basic digital codec in 2016, allowing the company to introduce Lightning-connected headphones later in the year. This move will prepare Apple for the possibility of including Cirrus Logic's (an Apple audio supplier) more advanced noise-cancellation smart codec in 2017, which requires a digital codec to be installed in the first place.
We still believe there is potential for AAPL to add ANC in the IP7S but believe AAPL is including just the digital headphone in the IP7 this year. Recent speculation surrounding the elimination of the headphone jack in the IP7 is consistent with this move as AAPL will need to provide a digital headset inbox but likely was not willing to spend the extra cost for the ANC functionality.
Rumors surrounding the exclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack in the iPhone 7 began earlier in the year, although it was unclear whether the accessory would ship in the box or be sold as a separate purchase under the Beats by Dre brand. According to the analysts in today's report, the 3.5mm headphone jack will be replaced by another speaker thanks to an additional amp also provided by Cirrus Logic.

Other rumors have suggested that Apple is preparing a Bluetooth solution for an upcoming iPhone line, similar in vein to the Bragi Dash headphones, which are finally beginning to ship out to early pre-order customers after over a year of waiting. The headphones would be completely wireless, with two separate pods that require regular charging.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7

AT&T to Begin Testing 5G, 10-100 Times Faster Than 4G LTE

att_416x416AT&T has announced that it will begin trialing 5G wireless technologies this year, including lab tests in the second quarter and outdoor tests over the summer. The carrier anticipates 5G speeds to be 10-100 times faster than today's average 4G LTE connections, with reduced latency.
Customers will see speeds measured in gigabits per second, not megabits. For reference, at one gigabit per second, you can download a TV show in less than 3 seconds. Customers will also see much lower latency with 5G. Latency, for example, is how long it takes after you press play on a video app for the video to start streaming on your device. We expect 5G latency in the range of 1 to 5 milliseconds.
Worldwide standards are still lacking for 5G technologies, but the 3GPP group aims to complete the first phase of that process in 2018. The widespread rollout of AT&T's 5G network will likely take until 2020, but the carrier plans to provide wireless connectivity to fixed locations in Austin before the end of this year. The carrier joins Verizon, who will also be field testing 5G solutions this year.

AT&T's 5G network will be based on technologies such as millimeter waves, network function virtualization (NFV), and software-defined networking (SDN). The carrier has already migrated 14 million wireless customers to its virtualized network, and it says millions more will be added this year. AT&T plans to virtualize 75% of its network over the next four years in the lead up to 5G.

It remains too early to predict Apple's roadmap for 5G connectivity. Apple was quick to support LTE-Advanced, a faster standard of 4G LTE, on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus or later, but 3G and LTE wireless technologies were both available for years before Apple adopted them. Based on AT&T's and 3GPP's timelines, a 5G iPhone may not be released for at least three to four years.

Tags: AT&T, LTE, 5G

Apple Facing Class Action Lawsuit Over 'Error 53' iPhone 6 Bricking

iphone6s-gold-select-2015Seattle-based law firm Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala (PCVA) today followed through with plans to bring a class action lawsuit against Apple over the "Error 53" controversy that made headlines last week.

"Error 53" is the error code that some iPhone 6 owners have received after third-party repairs that affect Touch ID were made to their iPhones, rendering the devices unusable. As explained by iFixit, repairs made by third-party services using components not sourced from the original device cause the iPhone to fail a Touch ID validation check because the mismatched parts are unable to properly sync. Parts that can impact Touch ID include the screen, flex cable, and Home button.

When this Touch ID validation check fails during an iOS update or restore, Apple disables the iPhone, effectively "bricking" it in an effort to protect Touch ID and the related Secure Enclave that stores customer fingerprint information. Apple says that without the validation check, a malicious Touch ID sensor could be used to gain access to the Secure Enclave.

PCVA attorney Darrell Cochran, who is leading the Error 53 lawsuit, claims that Apple's security argument is invalid because affected iPhones often work fine for several months following repairs as the validation check only occurs when downloading a new version of iOS. He also cites Apple's failure to give a warning about the consequence of an update as an issue that will be featured in the lawsuit.
"No materials we've seen from Apple ever show a disclosure that your phone would self-destruct if you download new software onto a phone," Cochran said. "If Apple wants to kill your phone under any set of circumstances and for any reason, it has to make it crystal clear to its customers before the damage is done."

Compounding the problem, according to Cochran, is how disagreeable Apple's reaction to the problem has been. "The error code 53 signals the death of the phone, and Apple's response has been to say 'you have no options; it's not covered under warranty, and you have to buy a new phone.'"
PCVA is aiming to get affected iPhone customers new, working devices to "provide immediate relief" to consumers. It is also seeking upwards of $5 million in damages and an update to eliminate the repair restrictions. PCVA is asking customers who have been impacted by Error 53 to get in touch.

Aside from explaining the reasoning behind the Error 53 message and its consequences, Apple has remained quiet about the controversy. MacRumors has, however, heard from a retail source that certain Apple Stores have received the go ahead from Apple to replace third-party screens and other components to resolve the issue. It is not yet clear if this replacement policy will be extended to all Apple Stores or if Apple will make an official comment on the situation.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Tags: lawsuit, Error 53
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Neutral)

Haptic Feedback Company Immersion Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Apple

Immersion, a company that develops and licenses haptic touch feedback technology, today filed a lawsuit against Apple and AT&T accusing the two companies of patent infringement. Citing technologies like 3D Touch, Force Touch, the Apple Watch Taptic Engine, and vibration patterns for ringtones and notifications, Immersion says multiple Apple devices use its intellectual property.

immersion
According to Immersion, the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition infringe on several Immersion patents that cover haptic feedback systems. Immersion says all of the above listed devices infringe on two patents related to tactile sensations:

- U.S. Patent No. 8,619,051: "Haptic Feedback System with Stored Effects"

- U.S. Patent No. 8,773,356: "Method and Apparatus for Providing Tactile Sensations"

The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are further accused of infringing on an additional patent, U.S. Patent No. 8,659,571, titled "Interactivity Model for Shared Feedback on Mobile Devices."
"Immersion and its employees have worked diligently for over 20 years to invent solutions and build an ecosystem of content and playback devices that enable realistic and rich digital experiences. Touch matters, as it informs, excites and humanizes the digital world we interact with every day. Many of our licensed customers are market leaders that benefit from our innovation in touch technology," said Immersion's CEO Victor Viegas.

"While we are pleased to see others in the industry recognize the value of haptics and adopt it in their products, it is important for us to protect our business against infringement of our intellectual property in order to preserve the ecosystem we have built and the investments that we have made in continuing to advance haptic experiences," added Viegas. "We will vigorously defend the intellectual property we have developed when it is infringed."
While Apple is named in the lawsuit because it produces the devices that allegedly infringe on Immersion patents, it is less clear while AT&T is named. In the filing, Immersion claims AT&T sells Apple products and offers guides, directions, and other materials that "encourage and facilitate infringing use by others," but other mobile carriers are not mentioned or included in the lawsuit.

Along with the patent infringement suit, Immersion has also filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission, seeking an exclusion order that prevents the sale of the accused Apple devices in the United States.

Google Developing Standalone Virtual Reality Headset, Upgraded Cardboard Viewer

As rumors circulate about Apple's secret work on virtual reality headset prototypes, Google is developing a standalone virtual reality headset, reports The Wall Street Journal. Google's virtual reality headset is not reliant on a smartphone, computer, or game console, unlike existing virtual reality products like the Oculus Rift, which requires a powerful computer, or its own Google Cardboard viewer, which requires a smartphone.

According to sources familiar with Google's work, the VR headset will feature a screen, high-powered processors, and a set of outward-facing cameras. Movidius chips that use the camera feed to track head motion will be included, alleviating the need for an external camera to track movement.

googlecardboard
Along with a standalone virtual reality headset, Google is also working on a "more advanced version" of the Cardboard, which will be made of plastic and will include computer chips and sensors. The updated version of the Cardboard will be released this year, perhaps in May, but The Wall Street Journal says the timing of the standalone headset is unclear. It could debut in 2016, but since it is early in the development process, Google could scrap it.
Google and others have shipped more than five million cardboard viewers since late 2014, helping introduce many consumers to technology that immerses them in experiences that seem to be all around them. The recent moves suggest Google now thinks virtual reality could become a moneymaker in both hardware and software.
Apple is rumored to have a team of several hundred employees working on augmented and virtual reality, exploring the ways the emerging technologies could be used in future Apple products. The company has reportedly created several virtual reality headset prototypes as part of its work.

Related Roundup: Apple VR Project
Tags: Google, Google Cardboard

Late Night 'Motor Noises' Heard From Apple-Leased Sunnyvale Campus

Loud "motor"-sounding noises are being heard at a Sunnyvale campus where Apple leases at least one building, reports AppleInsider, speculating that the sounds could be coming from a secret car testing facility. Apple occupies a single building in a 7-building campus at North Wolfe Road and Central Expressway in Sunnyvale, which it leased in 2014.

AppleInsider has previously suggested that in addition to its known offices at the location, where it conducts research and development, Apple is also operating under a shell company known as SixtyEight Research. SixtyEight Research is a mysterious "market research" operation that also leases one of the buildings on the campus, and given the lack of information available about the company, it could potentially be a front for the site where Apple works on its Apple Car.

Campus where Apple leases a building, via San Jose Mercury News

In recent months, a resident who lives near the 7-building campus has complained to the city of Sunnyvale about "motor" noises emanating from the area late at night. Major renovations undertaken by Apple have been underway at the site since last year, so it is unclear if the resident was simply hearing ongoing construction sounds.
"(Do) there have to (be) motor noises at 11:00 p.m. at night like last night?" the resident wrote to the city of Sunnyvale. "Even with the windows closed I could still hear it."
There continues to be no confirmed link between Apple and SixtyEight Research, or clear evidence that Apple is using the facility for its Apple Car development, but Apple has plans to build a 10-foot security fence around the area to hide its activity.

The rumored car being developed by Apple under the name "Project Titan" is still in the early stages, but Apple is said to have hundreds of employees working on the project. Over the past few months, Apple has hired dozens of new employees with expertise in the auto industry, poaching them from companies like Ford, Tesla, GM, and more.

Recently, "Project Titan" lead Steve Zadesky announced plans to leave the company, and Apple is said to have implemented a temporary hiring freeze ahead of his planned departure. Apple executives are also said to be unhappy with the progress being made on the Apple Car, so its future could be in question. Rumors have suggested Apple is aiming to have the final design of its car established by 2019 or 2020.

Related Roundup: Apple Car

iPhone 7 Processor to Be Manufactured Solely by TSMC [Updated]

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has reached a deal with Apple to be the only manufacturer for the iPhone 7's processor, likely called the A10, reports The Electronic Times [Google Translate]. TSMC won over Apple largely because of its 10-nanometer manufacturing process. The chip will reportedly go into full production in June.

While TSMC's 10-nanometer process is one reason the company was awarded with a deal over rival Samsung, another likely has to do with the company's more advanced device packaging techniques, which allow for better power performance and efficiency. However, at its conference call last month, TSMC said that it was hoping to ramp up 10nm production in 2017, with a slow start to production coming in the second half of 2016.

iphone_7_render_mr
Mockup of iPhone 7 case showing flush rear camera and no antenna bands across rear

Apple used both Samsung and TSMC to manufacture the chips for the iPhone 6s, which caused some controversy as early benchmarks indicated that TSMC's A9 chip outperformed Samsung's in battery life. Apple revealed that, according to its internal testing, the variance in performance was only 2 to 3 percent.

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are expected to debut in September, and new details about the devices have been steadily dripping out. Last week, MacRumors shared some details on the phone's design, including that it would have a flush rear camera and a lack of antenna bands on its back. Other rumors indicate that the 7 Plus may feature a dual-lens camera system and that it may be waterproof and not have a headphone jack.

Update: This article has been updated with information from TSMC's recent conference call, in which they stated that they hoped 10-nanometer production would ramp up in 2017 after getting a slow start in the second half of 2016.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tags: TSMC, A10

Apple Releases Third OS X 10.11.4 El Capitan Beta to Public Beta Testers

OS X El Capitan LogoApple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming OS X 10.11.4 update to public beta testers, just a few days after releasing the third OS X 10.11.4 beta to developers and more than two weeks after releasing OS X 10.11.3.

The third beta is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store for those who are enrolled in Apple's beta testing program. Those wishing to join the program can sign up on Apple's beta testing website.

OS X 10.11.4 appears to focus largely on under-the-hood bug fixes, security enhancements, and performance optimizations with few noticeable outward-facing changes. OS X 10.11.4 offers password protected notes in the Notes app, an import function for importing Evernote notes into the Notes app, and it includes Live Photos support for the Messages app.

Apple is likely to release OS X 10.11.4 in the spring, alongside iOS 9.3, watchOS 2.2, and tvOS 9.2.

Related Roundup: OS X El Capitan
Tag: OS X 10.11.4

Apple Seeds Third iOS 9.3 Beta to Public Beta Testers

ios93Apple today released the third beta of an upcoming iOS 9.3 update to public beta testers, just a couple of days after seeding the third iOS 9.3 beta to developers. iOS 9.3's third public beta comes three weeks after Apple released iOS 9.2.1, a minor update, to the public.

Beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing program will receive the third iOS 9.3 update over-the-air after installing the proper certificate on their iOS device.

Those who want to be a part of Apple's beta testing program can sign up to participate through the beta testing website, which gives users access to both iOS and OS X betas. For an in-depth walkthrough on downloading the iOS 9.3 beta, make sure to check out our how to.

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iOS 9.3 is a major update to the iOS 9 operating system, introducing a long list of new features and improvements. iOS 9.3's biggest new feature is Night Shift mode, which is designed to automatically cut down on the amount of blue light an iOS user is exposed to at night by shifting to more yellow tones for the iPhone or iPad's display. With iOS 9.3, there's a number of changes for educational users, and the iPhone is now able to pair with multiple Apple Watches.

The update also includes new 3D Touch Quick Actions for stock apps like Weather, Settings, Compass, Health, App Store, and iTunes Store, plus it introduces password protection for individual notes in the Notes app. News in iOS 9.3 includes in-line video playback, landscape mode on the iPhone, and more personalization, while the Health app introduces a new Apple Watch-style "Activity" interface. iOS 9.3 beta 3 adds support for Verizon Wi-Fi Calling and introduces a fix for a T-Mobile bug that prevented apps from loading over a cellular connection.

A full list of changes in iOS 9.3 can be found in our "What's New" post. iOS 9.3 will launch to the public this spring.

Related Roundup: iOS 9
Tag: iOS 9.3