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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report Claims iPhone 6 Will Feature New Dynamic Haptic Feedback Technology

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

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iPhone 6 render by Tomas Moyano and Nicolas Aichino

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related roundup: Apple TV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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.

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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.

Apple's 'Find My iPhone' Web Maps for iCloud.com Beta Move from Google to Apple

Apple is beginning the transition to move its Maps application online starting with the Find My iPhone web app on its iCloud.com beta website, as noticed by iPhoneBlog.de [Google Translate]. Though the public version of iCloud.com is still pulling data from Google Maps, beta.icloud.com now uses an online version of Apple maps for its location information.

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Apple has been slowly switching away from Google Maps after using the competing mapping service in the early versions of the iOS. The Cupertino company dropped support for the Google-based mapping solution and introduced Apple Maps as part of iOS 6 in 2012. While iCloud.com still remained tied to Google, iOS apps such as Find My iPhone and Find My Friends also were converted to Apple's mapping data in the same year.

After a highly-criticized launch, Apple has been making efforts to bolster its mapping data, recently improving its points of interest database as well as notifying users when reported problems had been fixed. Apple was said to be adding indoor mapping and other new features to Apple Maps in iOS 8, but internal politics and the departure of key employees may have delayed those plans.

Update 10:22 AM: Some users have been seeing the Find My iPhone web app on beta.icloud.com switching back to Google-based maps, so it appears that Apple is continuing to tweak and test things.

Key Maps Engineer Chris Blumenberg Leaving Apple for Uber

maps.jpgChris Blumenberg, a key Apple engineer who has long worked on Maps for iOS and OS X, is leaving the company to take a position with Uber, according to a report by The Information. Blumenberg is the latest of a number of departures from Apple's Maps team, which has been suffering from internal politics.

Blumenberg is a 14-year veteran of Apple, initially working on Safari for OS X and later iOS. He famously built a version of Maps for iOS in just a few weeks in late 2006 so that Steve Jobs could demo it at the iPhone introduction in January 2007. For the last six years, Blumenberg has managed the Maps Apps & Frameworks group, overseeing a team of at least 40 employees handling Apple's Maps apps on iOS and OS X. From his LinkedIn profile:
My team is primarily responsible for the Apple Maps app and the MapKit framework. Since 2006, we've worked on a number of Google and Apple service-backed features such as local search, directions, street view, next destination and CarPlay. I proudly drove and guided the implementation of vector maps, Flyover and navigation during the shift from Google's services to Apple's services in 2012.
Apple's issues with its Maps team have reportedly slowed the company's work on that initiative, so much so that there were virtually no mentions of Maps at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote last month. Apple reportedly has a number of iOS Maps improvements in the works, including transit directions and improved points of interest, but it is unclear whether they will be ready in time for the public release of iOS 8 later this year or if they will need to be held for a later update.

Claimed iPhone 6 SIM Card Trays Point to Space Gray, Gold, and Silver Color Options

Several new photos published today by Letem svetem Applem [Google Translate] show the purported power and volume flex cables as well as three SIM card trays that hint at the color options Apple is planning for the iPhone 6. This report follows a leak from earlier this month that first showcased these two internal flex cables from the iPhone 6, although the parts shown in the two reports are not identical.

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Similar to the previous photos but slightly different in layout, the volume flex cable contains both the mute button and volume buttons with a possible larger separation between the two components. The power flex cable also shows the same arrangement of connectors with a potentially larger-sized power button. Though we can't confirm how these cables will appear inside the iPhone 6, mockups and drawings have depicted a redesigned button layout on the iPhone 6 that includes oval-shaped volume buttons and a side-positioned power button.

While the flex cables provide little new insight on the iPhone 6 itself, the supposed SIM card trays hint at the coloring of the iPhone 6. Not surprisingly, the trays suggest the iPhone 6 will keep the same color options as the iPhone 5S -- space gray, gold and silver. Physical mockups have been circulating in all three colors for some time, and a claimed genuine rear shell surfaced in silver, but the full set of three current color options had so far not been seen in claimed genuine iPhone 6 parts.

Apple is expected to introduce the iPhone 6 with a larger display as its key selling point. The Cupertino company is reportedly prepping a 4.7-inch model along with a 5.5-inch model as an update to the current 4-inch iPhone 5s. Besides the display, the iPhone 6 may include a faster A8 processor, a thinner design and improved camera optics.

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

Apple Shares 'Pride' Video Featuring Preparation for San Francisco Pride Parade

In late June, San Francisco held its 44th annual Pride parade, which saw several companies, including Apple, marching in support of the LGBT community.

Apple CEO Tim Cook attended the event and walked alongside Apple's Environment Director Lisa Jackson and thousands of other Apple employees. Employees wore special T-shirts for the event and handed out iTunes gift cards good for a free song download.

Apple has now posted a new video of the event on its YouTube channel, depicting the company's preparation for the parade, which included the aforementioned T-shirts, a pre-event celebration, special bicycles, and thousands of rainbow-colored flags. The song playing in the background of the video is Coldplay's "A Sky Full of Stars."

On June 29, thousands of Apple employees and their families marched in the San Francisco Pride Parade. They came from around the world -- from cities as far as Munich, Paris, and Hong Kong -- to celebrate Apple's unwavering commitment to equality and diversity. Because we believe that inclusion inspires innovation
Apple CEO Tim Cook has expressed a deep belief in equality in the past, supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which lobbied to add lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals to the U.S.'s existing nondiscrimination law. He also spoke at Auburn University in December of 2013, noting that Apple has long had protections for LGBT employees.

During the Pride event, Tim Cook tweeted a congratulations to the 5,000 Apple employees and their families that attended the parade, saying "inclusion inspires innovation," the same line later used in the video.

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

Apple's 'Health' App Gains Ability to Track Steps With M7 Motion Coprocessor in New iOS 8 Beta

iOS 8 beta 3, which was released to developers earlier today, allows Apple's Health app to access the iPhone's M7 motion coprocessor, letting the app natively track movement like steps taken.

Available in newer devices like the iPhone 5s, the iPad Air, and the Retina iPad mini, the M7 "motion coprocessor" functions alongside the A7 chip in those devices, measuring accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass data for enhanced fitness tracking capabilities.

As noted by 9to5Mac the Health app's "Steps" section now tallies the number of steps a user has taken as measured by the iPhone 5s. Users accessing the Health app today will be able to access a full week's worth of data on their devices.

The M7 has been leveraged by several third-party app developers, such as Nike and Strava, but this is the first time the data has been made available directly via Apple's own Health app and it is also the first real data the Health app is able to display.

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The new Steps and Caffeine options in Health, with image on the left provided by a MacRumors forum user.

Along with M7 integration, the Health app also has a new "Caffeine" section in the Nutrition portion of the Health Data tab. This appears to track how much caffeine is consumed and will likely integrate with third-party caffeine tracking apps such as UP Coffee from Jawbone, which lets users track the amount of coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages that are consumed on a daily basis.

At the current point in time, the Health app is rather limited, but by the time iOS 8 is released, dozens of device manufacturers and app developers will likely have built HealthKit into their apps, allowing the Health app to aggregate data from multiple sources into one easy-to-access spot. Health is also rumored to be heavily tied to Apple's upcoming health-tracking wearable device, the iWatch.

As described by Apple, Health aims to be a one-stop dashboard for health and fitness data, tracking metrics measured by various devices and apps, including heart rate, food consumed, cholesterol, sleep quality, and more. Apple's iOS 8 Health page says "It might just be the beginning of a health revolution."

iOS 8 is currently available only to registered developers and will likely be released to the public in the fall, after several more beta iterations to refine the look and feel of the operating system.

Related roundups: iOS 8, iOS 8 Features