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More High-Quality Photos Show 4.7-Inch iPhone 6 Rear Shell with Colored Bands

New high-quality photos said to be of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6's rear shell have been shared by Nowhereelse.fr (Google Translate), showing us what may be a finished back from the device. Notably, this newest component appears to have its rear bands colored in to fit with the rest of the device, perhaps suggesting that the different color options of the iPhone 6 will feature a similar treatment.

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Besides its colored bands, the rear shell shown in the photos appears to be consistent with previous looks at the component, displaying a rounded chassis, embedded rear logo, and more. The shell also appears to adopt redesigned speaker holes and a rounded True Tone LED flash, which join the typical Lightning port, headphone jack, and rear camera.

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Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 6 at an event on September 9, where it will also likely unveil its wearable device for the first time. The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will likely launch a week or so after the event, while the bigger 5.5-inch version of the device may be held back due to production issues. In addition to a larger screen, the iPhone 6 is expected to feature a faster A8 processor, a revamped camera system, iOS 8, and near field communication (NFC) technology for mobile payments.

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

Samsung Asks NYC Street-Goers to Compare Galaxy Tab S and iPad Air in New Ad

Samsung has debuted a new video on its YouTube channel comparing its new Galaxy Tab S to the iPad Air on the streets of New York City. As first spotted by iGeneration (Google Translate), the video involves a host asking street-goers to use the Galaxy Tab S, highlighting the tablet's display, weight, and camera.


When matched up side-by-side, some users claim that the Galaxy Tab S is "definitely thinner", while others express that the tablet's screen "looks brighter" when compared to the iPad Air. The host claims that the Galaxy Tab S has "one million more pixels than the iPad Air", which is presented alongside small text on the bottom noting the 4,096,000 pixels of the Galaxy Tab S compared to the iPad's 3,145,728 pixels. The video ends with a group of users choosing the Galaxy Tab S over the iPad Air, as Samsung ends the video with the tagline of "Thinner. Brighter. Lighter." before showing the tablet from its front.

Samsung launched its first round of Galaxy Tab S ads last month, which mocked the iPad's screen and lack of multitasking. The Galaxy Tab S was originally announced this past June, with Samsung touting the tablet's high resolution (2560 x 1600) Super AMOLED display, fingerprint sensor, 11-hour battery life, and multitasking capabilities.

Related roundup: iPad Air

Another Report Suggests NFC Support for iPhone 6, Chip to Be Provided by NXP

NXP_fc Apple will feature near field communication (NFC) technology in the iPhone 6 with a chip provided by Dutch company NXP Semiconductors, according to a report from the Financial Times. The chip will allow the iPhone to be scanned by payment terminals and ticket systems, while also allowing for further integration with other methods.

Throughout the past week, a number of rumors and reports from various sources have claimed that the iPhone 6 will gain NFC support. Evidence of NFC capabilities provided by NXP first surfaced earlier this week in a claimed schematic, which showed the company's PN65 chip on the iPhone 6's logic board.

Yesterday, technology news website WIRED and Apple blogger John Gruber also suggested that the iPhone 6 would feature NFC, with the latter stating that Apple's NFC-based mobile payment system would use a new secure enclave coprocessor built into the company's new A8 chip, which was also suggested by previous reports.

Last month, it was reported that Apple was in talks with major credit card companies like Visa over a mobile payment solution that would utilize the credit card data already stored in millions of iTunes accounts. Apple also was said to be interviewing senior payments industry executives to take on roles within the company, possibly indicating that the company has been hard at work on creating its own mobile payments service.

Apple is expected to debut the iPhone 6 and a wearable device at an event on September 9.

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

Apple Blogger John Gruber Hints at NFC For iPhone 6

applestore.pngFollowing a report from Wired suggesting NFC-based mobile payments will be a "hallmark" feature of the iPhone 6 and a confirmation from Re/code, Apple blogger John Gruber has now thrown in his two cents, with a cryptic post hinting Apple is indeed planning on including NFC in the iPhone 6 as part of a new mobile payment solution.

Gruber's post references an earlier "joke" that pointed towards a wearable device debut in September, which turned out to be accurate in light of recent rumors also suggesting a September introduction for the device.
I've been working on a new joke -- about NFC and a new secure enclave where you can store your credit cards, so you can pay for things at brick and mortar retail stores just by taking out your iPhone, but only if it's one of the new iPhones -- but no one seems to get my sense of humor.
Gruber suggests Apple's NFC-based mobile payment solution will take advantage of a new secure enclave coprocessor built into the company's new A8 chip, which is in line with previous reports. The secure enclave would likely store credit card details, allowing users to pay for physical goods with their iPhones and it would presumably work in conjunction with Touch ID.

Though rumors of NFC support in the iPhone have occurred for every new iPhone release over the past several years, NFC rumors have been especially prevalent ahead of the iPhone 6 launch. Back in April, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested the iPhone 6 would include an NFC chip, as did a follow up report from BrightWire.

At the same time, multiple reports have suggested Apple is gearing up to launch a mobile payment solution designed to leverage credit card data stored in millions of iTunes accounts. Apple is said to be partnering up with major credit card companies like Visa, and the company has also been interviewing senior payments industry executives to take on new roles within the company.

While Apple has previously viewed NFC as "not the solution to any current problem," it may be changing its opinion on the subject in light of its new mobile payment initiative. The company is expected to debut the iPhone 6, and possibly its new payment solution, at an upcoming event on September 9.

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

More Claims of September 9 Debut for Apple's Wearable Device, Likely Positioned as iPhone Accessory

iwatch_concept_setYesterday, Re/code broke the news that Apple planned to introduce its upcoming wearable device alongside the iPhone 6, and now Bloomberg is seconding that rumor, pointing towards a simultaneous debut of two different iPhones and a wearable device at Apple's September 9 event.

According to Re/code, Apple had originally planned to introduce its wearable device at an October event separate from its September iPhone event, but later ended up changing its plans. Bloomberg speculates that Apple's plan to debut the wearable device alongside the iPhone may be the company's way of limiting expectations for the device, positioning it more as an iPhone accessory rather than a standalone device.
Apple will give the new wearable a boost by pairing its debut with its flagship product, the iPhone. The company also may be trying to manage expectations for the new device, signaling that it's more of an accessory instead of a category that stands by itself. By contrast, when the iPad was introduced in 2010, Apple held a special event just for that product.
Apple does appear to be planning a major affair for the debut of the wearable device and the two iPhones, however, holding the event at the Flint Center at De Anza College where it introduced the original Macintosh thirty years ago and the first iMac in 1998. The company is building a massive structure on the site, the purpose of which remains unclear.

Both Apple CEO Tim Cook and iTunes chief Eddy Cue have also heavily hyped Apple's upcoming product lineup, with Cue saying it's the "best product pipeline" in 25 years and Cook promising "really great stuff" in new product categories.

It is likely Apple is planning to unveil its wearable device, which has commonly been called the iWatch in rumors, several months before it becomes available to consumers. A distinct lack of product leaks and tangible rumors have suggested the device is not yet in production, and an introduction before a deluge of part leaks allows Apple to debut the device while it's still largely a surprise.

Though we've not seen images of Apple's wearable device, rumors have suggested it will have a heavy focus on health and fitness with an array of health-related sensors that measure metrics like steps taken, sleep quality, heart rate, and more. It's said to come in multiple sizes and at multiple price points, and it is also said to be heavily integrated with the iPhone and iOS 8 features like the Health app.

(Image: 2.5-inch iWatch concept by SET Solutions)

Related roundup: iWatch

Apple Building Massive Structure at Flint Center for iPhone 6 Event

Apple today issued invitations for its upcoming iPhone 6 event on September 9, which is also said to include its much-anticipated wearable device. According to the invitations, Apple is planning to host the event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts at De Anza College in Cupertino, the same location where Steve Jobs introduced the original Mac 30 years ago.

For the occasion, it appears that Apple has been building a massive structure on the campus, which has been kept under tight wraps with a white barricade. A MacRumors reader has sent in images of a mysterious structure at the Flint Center, which appears to span three stories and is protected by "scads" of security people. Administrators had previously declined to comment on what the structure is for, stating only "We are not at liberty to discuss that due to client wishes."

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Image of mysterious structure taken on August 20

Apple has not held an event at the Flint Center in many years, so the company's return to the site of the original Mac unveiling suggests its upcoming announcement will be a major one. The Flint Center has a much higher seating capacity than other venues where Apple has unveiled products in the past, including the Yerba Buena Center and its own Cupertino campus.

Earlier this year, Apple iTunes chief Eddy Cue said that Apple's got the "best product pipeline" he'd seen in his 25 years at the company in the works, and Tim Cook promised "really great stuff" in new product categories.

Despite the cryptic "Wish we could say more" message on the media invitations, rumors have suggested Apple is planning to unveil both the iPhone 6 and a new wearable device at the September 9 event.

It is unknown whether Apple has plans to broadcast the event on the web and Apple TV as it has done for recent events, but MacRumors will provide live coverage both on MacRumors.com and through the MacRumorsLive Twitter account.

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

Apple Issues Media Invitations for September 9 Event: 'Wish We Could Say More'

As noted by The Loop, Apple today issued media invitations to the previously rumored September 9 event where the company is expected to show off not only the iPhone 6 but also its first wearable device, popularly referred to as the iWatch. The invitations carry the tagline "Wish we could say more."

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The event will take place at 10:00 AM Pacific Time at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of De Anza College in Cupertino.

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

NFC-Based Mobile Payments Said to Be a 'Hallmark' Feature of iPhone 6

nxp_pn65_nfcApple's next iPhone may indeed include a mobile payment platform, claims WIRED in a report released Thursday. Wired's sources didn't not reveal how the system would work, but the publication was told that near field communications (NFC) technology will be part of the system.
The company’s next iPhone will feature its own payment platform, sources familiar with the matter told WIRED. In fact, that platform will be one of the hallmark features of the device when it’s unveiled on September 9. We’re told the solution will involve NFC.
Rumors of NFC support in the iPhone have been an annual occurrence over the past several years, but things may finally be coming together for Apple with NFC and its rumored mobile payments initiative. Additional evidence for NFC was spotted in schematics leaked by GeekBar, which suggest Apple may be using a version of the PN65 NFC package from NXP, which measures 5 mm x 5 mm and has 32 terminals for connectivity. A comparison of this component with alleged iPhone 6 logic boards published recently by Nowherelse.fr reveal an unused spot on the board that could accommodate this NFC chip.

A growing body of evidence suggests Apple is working on a mobile payments solution with NFC as an important component. NFC has been mentioned along with Bluetooth LE in patent applications that describe possible mobile payment solutions. Analysts from Morgan Stanley and Brightwire, as well as high-profile KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo all believe Apple will be adopting NFC as a core technology for the iPhone 6.

Apple is rumored to be working on an upcoming mobile payment solution that leverages the credit card data stored in millions of iTunes accounts. Apple is said to be working with credit card companies such as Visa about a possible partnership that would allow it to bypass third-party payment processors. Apple CEO Tim Cook also alluded to mobile payments earlier this year, noting that mobile payments were "one of the thoughts" behind Touch ID.

Update 10:17 AM: Re/code's John Paczkowski says he has "been hearing the same" about the iPhone 6 coming equipped with NFC technology needed for a mobile payments solution.

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

New Photos of Claimed iPhone 6 Parts Show Closer Look at Rear Logo, Revamped Speaker

New photos of various components said to be from the iPhone 6 have been shared by Nowhereelse.fr (Google Translate), giving us a glimpse at both internal and external parts to be used in the device.

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The first set of images show SIM card trays and home buttons in a range of three different colors, which may indicate that the iPhone 6 will keep the same space grey, gold, and silver options from the iPhone 5s. This is in line with a previous leaks, including one from last month which also showed SIM trays in three different colors. The SIM trays shown in the photos also appear to be slightly curved, and was likely designed with the iPhone 6's thinner, rounded chassis in mind.

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Another set of photos shows the embedded Apple logo, which has also surfaced in other leaks. However, Nowhereelse indicates that the logo scratches under regular pressure with a knife, and contrasts prior speculation that the logo was made of scratch-resistant metal. Apple has not used an embedded Apple logo on its mobile devices since the original iPhone back in 2007.

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Finally, the last set of photos show the internal speaker and vibrator motor of the iPhone 6. Both components appear to be different than their predecessors found in the iPhone 5s, as the internal speaker appears to be larger while the vibrator motor now sports a rectangular design.

According to Re/code, Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 6 on Tuesday, September 9. It is likely that the 4.7-inch version of the device will go on sale about a week later, while the 5.5-inch version may be released at a later time due to production delays. A report yesterday from Re/code also stated that Apple will unveil a wearable device at the event.

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

Apple to Unveil Wearable Device on September 9 Alongside iPhone 6

Apple has plans to unveil its upcoming wearable device in September, alongside the iPhone 6, reports Re/code. The site previously suggested Apple had planned to debut the device at an October event, but now says that Apple's plans have changed.

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iWatch concept by Todd Hamilton, based on the Nike Fuelband
Remember back in June when I said Apple hoped to schedule a special event in October to show off a new wearable device? Remember how I also said this: "Could things change between now and fall? That's certainly possible." Turns out that was a prescient hedge, because things have changed. Apple now plans to unveil a new wearable alongside the two next-generation iPhones we told you the company will debut on September 9th.
According to Re/code, the device will "make good use" of both HealthKit and HomeKit, two sets of APIs that were introduced during WWDC. HealthKit, which ties into Apple's iOS 8 Health app, focuses on health and fitness, while HomeKit is a home automation platform designed to allow users to control a variety connected devices.

Though Apple has plans to introduce a wearable device in September, there is no word on when the device might ship. Given a lack of part leaks and rumors pointing towards a late 2014 or early 2015 launch, it is likely the device will be shown several months before it will be available to consumers.

Apple's upcoming wearable device has been frequently referred to as the iWatch by both MacRumors and other rumor sites, but it remains unclear what Apple will call the device at launch. It is expected to be a wrist worn device, however, and rumors have suggested that it will come in multiple sizes with several different designs available at multiple price points.

It is also expected to incorporate an array of different health and fitness sensors to measure various health-related metrics like steps taken, sleep quality, heart rate, and more.

Related roundup: iWatch

More Evidence of NFC Support for Both iPhone 6 Models

Last week, Chinese repair firm GeekBar shared a claimed schematic for the iPhone 6 showing what was claimed to be the pinning diagram for the device's rumored near field communications (NFC) chip. The part addressed on the schematic, PN65V, was thought to be a version of NXP's PN65 NFC package currently used in several Android devices.

The leak is one of several schematics shared by GeekBar over the past week and a half, and while some of the components have been misidentified, it is looking increasingly likely that the schematics themselves are legitimate. Seen in that light, it is worth taking a look back at the NFC claim to see if there is additional evidence for it.

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Closeup of 4.7-inch iPhone 6 logic board with likely NFC chip location boxed in red, LTE modem boxed in green

MacRumors forum member chrmjenkins has pointed us toward a document showing the package used by NXP for its PN65, noting that it measures 5 mm x 5 mm with 32 terminals for connectivity. In examining the bare logic boards from the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 models, chrmjenkins believes he has spotted where that chip will be located.

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Broader view showing likely NFC chip location boxed in red: 4.7-inch iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, 5.5-inch iPhone 6 (left to right)

The location on the board is a square patch that does not correspond to any component from the iPhone 5s logic board, indicating that it may indeed be for a new component such as an NFC chip. Existing components may of course see changes in shape between generations, but many of the current major components can be mapped reasonably well to locations on the iPhone 6 logic boards, leaving relatively few candidates for this new square patch.

Rumors of NFC for the iPhone have circulated for years, but they have yet to come to fruition. As a result, this year's crop of NFC rumors has understandably been greeted with skepticism, although the volume and specificity of the rumors has seemed greater this time around, with multiple sources pointing toward an NXP chip solution for the iPhone. And with Apple rumored to be making a push into mobile payments as soon as later this year, the time may finally be right for Apple to bring NFC to the iPhone.

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

Apple to Reportedly Launch Thinner MacBook by End of 2015

Apple will launch a thinner MacBook near the end of this year or sometime next year, according to a new report from Digitimes. Citing supply chain sources in Taiwan, the report notes that component production has already begun in small volumes. Apple will also reportedly cease production of the 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro by the end of 2014.

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A report last month claimed that Intel's continued delays of its Broadwell chip may cause Apple to push back the release of its 12-inch MacBook until late this 2014 or early 2015. The 12-inch MacBook is said to include a Retina display and may either be a successor to the MacBook Air or join Apple's current 11-inch and 13-inch models.

A previous report in June stated that Apple would begin production of a 12-inch MacBook Air in the third quarter of this year, with Quanta Computer in charge of assembly. The 12-inch MacBook Air was also described as appearing similar to the 11-inch and 13-inch models, but featuring a Retina display and internal changes to various components.

Other reports throughout the year have also shared information on a 12-inch MacBook Air, with NPD DisplaySearch and KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also stating that the new notebook would feature a Retina display. A user on a Chinese forum who previously shared accurate information noted that the 12-inch MacBook Air would incorporate a new cooling system and button-less trackpad design.

If Apple is indeed looking to launch a new MacBook late this year or early next year, the company may unveil the notebook at an October event following the introduction of the iPhone 6 in September.

Related roundup: MacBook Air

Hands On With QuickBoard, a Quick Text Insertion Keyboard Coming to iOS 8

When iOS 8 is released to the public in the fall, iOS users will be able to take advantage of several new operating system features, including system wide third-party keyboards, which will bring fresh functionality to the default iOS keyboard.

Third-party keyboards are available on Android devices and have been long-desired on iOS, so several popular keyboard developers announced plans to bring their software to iOS shortly after third-party keyboard integration was announced at WWDC. After iOS 8 launches, we'll be seeing new keyboards from well-known developers like Fleksy, Swype, SwiftKey, and TouchPal.

iOS 8's third-party keyboard support will also allow new entrants into the customized keyboard arena, with developers bringing us apps that offer all kinds of different functions to improve the way we use our keyboards. One such developer, Kevin Wolkober, has created a quick text insertion keyboard that offers a unique function we haven't seen with previously previewed keyboards.


While keyboards like Swype and Fleksy focus on improving the typing experience through gestures and predictive text, Wolkober's QuickBoard is designed to give users a quicker way to enter the snippets of text that they type repeatedly into their iOS devices, including addresses, credit card information, email signatures, and more.

QuickBoard is actually split by function into three separate keyboard elements, including TextBoard, MeBoard, and LocationBoard. Each of these three keyboard functions lets users to tap to insert often-repeated text elements in any app to save time and effort.

TextBoard allows users to store snippets of text, accommodating any text from a one line signature to a lengthy paragraph. MeBoard stores all of a user's contact info, such as name, email, and home address, and is handy when filling out forms. LocationBoard will automatically determine a user's current location, allowing them to paste in a Google Maps URL or coordinates, or an approximate address, which is useful when a location needs to be shared outside of Messages.

Like any other customized keyboard, QuickBoard operates through an app that's installed on the iOS device and set up in iOS 8's Settings, as described in our hands-on TouchPal installation guide. The personal information and pre-written snippets of text available in the QuickBoard keyboard are created using the installed QuickBoard app.

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Inserting text into the QuickBoard app

Chunks of text can be entered into TextBoard section of the app, for example, while the MeBoard pulls in information like name, address, and phone number. Though MeBoard is currently limited to information pulled from the Contacts app, custom information will be added before the app's official launch. Location data isn't inserted in the app itself, since it is pulled from the phone's current location whenever it's used.

The text elements saved in the QuickBoard app can be used in any other app, including Mail, Safari, Messages, Notes, iWork, and more. Inserting saved text into one of these apps is as simple as tapping on the globe icon on the keyboard to activate QuickBoard and then tapping on the relevant block of text.

Personal information, such as name and address, can be inserted by tapping on the person icon, and the arrow will determine a user's approximate location, allowing it to be quickly inserted into a text message, email, or other app. Location information is especially useful, as it cuts out several steps that would normally be necessary when sharing a location an email or other app.

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QuickBoard demonstrated in the Notes app

QuickBoard includes access to a space bar, return key, and delete key for formatting purposes, but the rest of the typing is left to another keyboard app or iOS 8's default predictive text function. QuickBoard works seamlessly with any other keyboards installed, and switching between them is as simple as tapping on the globe icon.

Though simpler than most of the other keyboards we've seen before, QuickBoard hints at some of the innovative ways developers will take advantage of third-party keyboard integration in iOS 8. At the current time, QuickBoard is still in the beta testing phases, but Wolkober tells MacRumors that the app will be ready for download shortly after iOS 8 officially launches in the fall, with pricing yet to be determined.

Apple CEO Tim Cook: Drop in iPad Sales Just a 'Speed Bump'

Just before news of Apple's upcoming 12.9-inch iPad Pro was reported by Bloomberg, Re/Code's Walt Mossberg shared a snippet of an interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook commenting on the recent state of the tablet market, which has been on the decline. According to Cook, the dip in iPad sales over the past two quarters is just a "speed bump" for Apple.
In a brief interview about tablets I had this week with Apple CEO Tim Cook, he said, "We couldn't be happier with how we've done with the first four years of the iPad," and added that, "I'd call what's going on recently a speed bump, and I've seen that in every category."
The sentiment echoes comments that Cook made during the company's third quarter earnings call, where Apple announced iPad sales of just 13.3 million, down from 14.6 million in the year-ago quarter. The drop followed a Q2 sales dip that saw sales of 16.35 million iPads, down from 19.5 in Q2 2013.

During the call, Cook highlighted overall sales of more than 225 million iPads over the course of the last four years and suggested the tablet market itself was still "in its infancy." The CEO said that "significant innovation can be brought to the iPad," and pointed towards plans to bring improvements to Apple's tablet lineup.

Part of those plans may include the introduction of a larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which will launch in early 2015, according to Bloomberg. Rumors have suggested the larger tablet will include an ultra high-definition display and that it will be marketed towards Apple's enterprise customers.

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12.9-inch iPad mockup (left) with fourth-generation iPad (right) and iPad mini (bottom)

While Apple has seen a serious drop in iPad sales over the past two quarters, the company continues to be the world's leading tablet vendor, holding 26.9 percent of the total tablet market. The company's iPad Air and iPad mini have hit 98% and 100% customer satisfaction rankings, respectively, and the iPad holds an 85 percent share of the U.S education market.

Apple is not the only company experiencing a drop in tablet sales, as noted by Mossberg. Microsoft and Samsung have also seen slumping sales, possibly due to the fact that people see less of a need to upgrade their tablets on a regular basis, as suggested by Samsung, or the tablet's position as a want rather than a need.

In addition to kickstarting iPad sales with the introduction of a larger iPad, Apple may see a jump in iPad sales during the last few months of the year, as the company is said to be introducing both a new iPad Air and a new Retina iPad mini with improved processors and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Touch ID proved to be a major draw for the iPhone, and its inclusion in the iPad may entice both new buyers and upgraders.

Related roundup: iPad Air

Apple to Launch 12.9-Inch iPad in Early 2015

Apple is planning to launch its much-rumored 12.9-inch iPad in early 2015, reports Bloomberg. Hints of the tablet, which has been dubbed the "iPad Pro" in rumors, first appeared in mid-2013, with a prospective 2014 launch date. Recent rumors, however, suggested plans for the tablet had been put on hold.

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Mockup of a 12.9-inch iPad next to a 13-inch MacBook Air
The new iPad will have a screen measuring 12.9 inches diagonally, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details aren't public. Apple currently produces iPads with 9.7-inch and 7.9-inch displays. The Cupertino, California-based company has been working with suppliers for at least a year to develop a new range of larger touch-screen devices, said the people.
According to rumors, the larger 12.9-inch iPad will include a high pixel density with a display that nears ultra high-definition quality. It will likely adopt many of the design elements offered in the current iPad Air and iPad mini, like an ultrathin chassis and narrow side bezels.

Bloomberg suggests that the larger tablet is an effort to "shake up the iPad line" as sales of the iPad have been on the decline for the past two quarters. The larger tablets may appeal heavily to businesses, a market that Apple is also aiming for with its recent IBM partnership.

Along with a larger "iPad Pro" Apple is also working on a second-generation iPad Air and Retina iPad mini, both of which are expected to include upgraded processors and support for the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

Related roundup: iPad Air

Beats Music Launches Promotional iTunes Festival Contest

In an attempt to garner new users from parent company Apple, Beats Music has launched a contest to coincide with the upcoming London iTunes Festival. Beats Music's #GoWithMe contest is offering 25 Beats Music users in the United States a chance to win two tickets to see one of several musical acts during the festival, with the prize package including airfare to London and hotel accommodation.

Users do not need to pay for Beats Music to enter the contest, but a Beats Music account is required. After signing up for an account, Beats listeners can enter to win tickets to one of five performances by navigating to the artist's page on the Beats Music site: Kiesza, Calvin Harris, Pharrell Williams + Jungle, Maroon 5 + Matthew Koma, and Ed Sheeran + Foy Vance.

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Tickets to the London iTunes Festival traditionally are available for free, but are distributed through iTunes via a lottery system due to extremely high demand. Beats Music will announce the winners of the contest on August 28.

Announced last month, Apple's London iTunes Festival will begin on September 1 and run for 30 nights, with a different musical act performing each night. Announced performers include deadmau5, Pharrell Williams, Maroon 5, Lenny Kravitz, Mary J. Blige, and more. While most performances have been revealed over the last couple of weeks, two performers remain unknown.

Apple has been heavily promoting Beats Music in recent weeks, adding Beats Music to the list of "Apps Made by Apple," encouraging new iOS users to download the app, and sending out emails about Beats Music. The promotions have been somewhat successful, temporarily skyrocketing the Beats Music app to the top 10 free apps chart in the App Store. Beats Music wasn't able to retain its position on the charts, however, and has dropped back down to number 30.

Verizon Preparing to Launch Voice Over LTE Network in September

Verizon today announced that it is preparing to launch its voice over LTE (VoLTE) service sometime in September, reports CNET. The new service will be available nationwide on supported phones that are connected to the carrier's LTE network.

VoLTE will provide high-definition quality voice and video calls that will significantly improve the overall calling experience. Not only will customers notice an enhancement in voice call quality, they also will be able to initiate a FaceTime-like video call right from the dialer app.
Once you experience the HD quality voice, you don't want to go back," Greg Dial, executive director of mobile services for Verizon, said in a pre-briefing and demonstration of the new service with reporters. "The tight integration of the video calling feature is also significant. You can launch it right from the dialer. There's no opening a separate app."
These new HD VoLTE calls will be considered voice calls and will count against a customer's available minutes. Video calls will be counted as data and will subtract from the customer's data allotment. There will be no extra charges for using this service, and it will be optional for customers.

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Verizon has not specified which phones will be updated to support its new calling service, but the iPhone may be included on this list. The current generation iPhone chipset supports this feature, and it can be enabled with a software update. Rumors have suggested that Apple has plans to support VoLTE with the launch of iOS 8 and the iPhone 6. Along with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have announced plans to add VoLTE to their networks in the near future.

iOS 8 will also bring a WiFi calling feature, allowing customers to place higher-quality voice calls over WiFi instead of using a cellular network. T-Mobile is the first carrier to confirm that it will support Apple's WiFi calling feature when it launches this fall along with iOS 8.

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

L.A. Unified School District Suspends $1 Billion iPad Contract with Apple

Los Angeles school district superintendent John Deasy halted the district's iPad contract with Apple in mid-rollout, reports the LA Times. The $1-billion multi-year contract would supply LAUSD students with iPads that were pre-loaded with curriculum from Pearson.

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The contract was administered in phases with an initial $30-million investment to equip a pilot group of students with iPads. Additional payments totaling almost $1 billion would expand the project to additional students and build out the wireless infrastructure to support tablet usage at the district's schools. Each phase was subject to approval with the option of canceling the project if it no longer met the district's needs.

Deasy's suspension follows criticism of the project rollout and its bidding process, which some claim was modified to favor Apple and Pearson. While issues with securing the iPads surfaced shortly after rollout, the contractual complaints were detailed in a district technology committee draft report that was obtained recently by the LA Times.
Among the findings was that the initial rules for winning the contract appeared to be tailored to the products of the eventual winners — Apple and Pearson — rather than to demonstrated district needs. The report found that key changes to the bidding rules were made after most of the competition had been eliminated under the original specifications.

In addition, the report said that past comments or associations with vendors, including Deasy, created an appearance of conflict even if no ethics rules were violated.
While Deasy responds to these criticisms, the technology program at LAUSD is moving forward with other devices and alternative curriculum being adopted by schools in the district. The district is expected to purchase up to 18,000 laptops with Apple and Pearson invited to bid on this new contract.

Related roundup: iPad Air

Premium Channel 'Showtime Anytime' Comes to Apple TV

In addition to the return of the iTunes Festival channel for Apple TV today ahead of September's concert series in London, Apple has also added a new Showtime Anytime channel to its set-top box.

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The Apple TV channel is a companion to the Showtime premium cable network and offers limited free content to all users. Most content, which includes live and on-demand shows and events, is limited to customers who subscribe to the network through a participating cable provider.

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Update 8:52 AM: As noted by Mac1 [Google Translate], Norwegian public television network NRK has also launched on Apple TV in that country.

Update 9:50 AM: Swedish public broadcaster SVT has also announced [Google Translate] the launch of its SVT Play channel for Apple TV.

Related roundup: Apple TV

Apple Launches Apple TV Channel for 2014 London iTunes Festival

Apple today launched its iTunes Festival channel on the Apple TV ahead of the festival's start on September 1. Similar to previous years, the iTunes Festival channel contains information relevant to the upcoming London version of the popular music festival.

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Ahead of the event, the channel allows you to browse information on the history of the festival, details on the Roadhouse, and the performance schedule for next month. When the festival begins, Apple TV owners can watch HD streams of both live and archived performances.

Apple recently filled its performance calendar adding well-known musicians such as Mary J. Blige and Tony Bennett to the festival lineup. These performers will join previously announced acts such as Maroon 5, Pharrell Williams and Lenny Kravitz. Tickets for the concert are available for free via a lottery system and through local radio station promotions.

Apple's iTunes Festival iOS app is also showing as having an update available to support the upcoming concert series, but many users are reporting errors when trying to update their apps.

Related roundup: Apple TV