Next-generation iPhones likely to focus on internal improvements.
Today's update is available through the software update mechanism in the Mac App Store and through the Apple Developer Center.
It is not clear if this update will add any outward-facing changes to El Capitan, as the past few betas have focused on under-the-hood performance improvements and bug fixes to optimize the operating system ahead of its public release. We'll add new features and bug fixes in beta 5 to this post should any tweaks be discovered.
As an update complementary to OS X Yosemite, OS X El Capitan builds on the myriad features introduced last year. Behind-the-scenes improvements in El Capitan make a number of apps and processes on the Mac faster, and the introduction of Metal makes system-level graphics rendering 40 percent more efficient.
El Capitan introduces a new system-wide font, a revamped Mission Control feature, a split-view feature for using two full-screen apps at once, deeper functionality for Spotlight, and improvements to Safari that include Pinned Sites and a universal mute button.
OS X 10.11 El Capitan is currently available to both registered developers and public beta testers. Apple plans to release El Capitan to the public in the fall.
According to a now-deleted leaked site that details upcoming features in Parallels 11, the software is gaining a new Windows 10 feature that will let Cortana be accessed on OS X while Windows 10 is running in the background.
As explained by Neowin, who shared the leaked site over the weekend, that means Cortana can be accessed with the "Hey Cortana" command while using other applications on the Mac. It is not clear if all of Cortana's functionality is available when run this way, but in Windows 10, Cortana has a wide range of useful features.
The virtual assistant can search the web, find installed files and apps, monitor calendar appointments, access the weather, and more. Like with Siri, Cortana can be asked fact-finding questions like "What are the latest NBA scores" or "What's going on near me this weekend?"
Announced last year, Cortana is a digital assistant named for an AI character in the popular Halo video game series and voiced by Jen Taylor, who also did the AI voice work. Cortana, which has a distinctly female personality, is powered by the Bing search engine and differs from Siri based on the ability to ask questions about users and monitor their activity to learn more about them.
Cortana has a "notebook" that stores information on each user's interests, favorite places, preferred music, relationships with people, appointment dates, preferred quiet hours, and more. When Cortana debuted, Microsoft described this feature as "her view of you," designed to let Cortana perform functions a wide range of personalized functions.
While Windows 10 is set to be released this week on July 29, there is no word on when Parallels 11 with full support for Windows 10 and the new Cortana feature will launch. Parallels 10, the current version of Parallels, has been updated with experimental support for Windows 10 preview builds, but it is not currently compatible with the release version of Windows 10 or Microsoft's Windows 10 upgrade program.
In addition to being available on Mac OS X through Parallels 11, Cortana is also coming to the iPhone. Microsoft plans to launch a Cortana app for iOS later this year.
Arcuri, in a research note obtained by Business Insider, speculates that Apple may have delayed or dropped plans to release the "iPhone 6c" due to concerns that the budget smartphone would cannibalize the iPhone 6, which has experienced record-breaking sales and could continue to be a hot product for Apple if given a price reduction alongside the "iPhone 6s" and "iPhone 6s Plus" in September.
"I think one of the reasons is because the iPhone 6 has sold so well," Arcuri said. "And they said, 'Look, why would we want to cannibalize? If we came out with an iPhone 6C, we would essentially cannibalize a price-reduced iPhone 6.'"Arcuri believed that the "iPhone 6c" would essentially be iPhone 6 hardware shrunken down to the size of an iPhone 5s, including an all-metal unibody that would differentiate itself from the plastic iPhone 5c released in 2013. Investment banking firm Jefferies predicted in late June that a 4-inch metal "iPhone 6c" will be released in early 2016, but that timing appears questionable.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo issued a note to investors in April that claimed a new 4-inch iPhone was unlikely in 2015, and a few weeks later said that Apple is instead likely to release a new 4-inch iPhone with Apple Pay compatibility in 2016. Kuo said that Foxconn will be the primary manufacturer of the low-cost handset, but Apple's product roadmap could have changed since that time.
Apple frequently tests new products and services internally that are never released, so it is entirely possible that the company never planned to make the "iPhone 6c" available to the public. Sketchy rumors and leaked images of the purported "iPhone 6c" shell -- notably plastic -- began picking up in December, but few concrete details about the rumored smartphone have surfaced since that time.
iPad Mini 4 Rumored to Be Smaller Version of iPad Air 2, A9-Based iPad Air 3 Still Possible for 2015
Mac Otakara claims that Apple may release the new iPad mini alongside an A9-based iPad Air 3, contrary to a sketchy report last week from Taiwan's Economic Daily News that said no new iPad Air will be released in 2015 and that the iPad mini 4 could be Apple's last 7.9-inch tablet as the company focuses on its larger-sized iPad Air and much-rumored "iPad Pro" in the future.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a respectable track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, recently issued a note to investors that also claimed the iPad mini 4 will essentially be a smaller version of the iPad Air 2. Kuo did not make any predictions about the iPad Air 3 or the "iPad Pro" in his note, but he has mentioned the latter 12.9-inch tablet in previous notes to investors.
Apple releasing a trio of new iPads later this year -- the iPad Air 3, iPad mini 4 and "iPad Pro" -- could help the company rebound from five consecutive quarters of declining iPad sales. Moreover, while Mac Otakara has a respectable track record reporting about Apple, there is not enough substantive evidence at this time to firmly suggest that all three tablets will actually be unveiled this autumn.
Apple Maps vehicles will also begin surveying Tennessee later in August, raising the total number of U.S. states that Apple has driven through to 30. Apple began collecting street-level mapping data in 13 more U.S. states this month, including Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Apple confirmed in June that it is driving vehicles around the world to collect data to improve Apple Maps, and the mapping imagery is almost certainly being used to create a Google Maps "Street View" competitor. Apple Maps vehicles are also taking photos of businesses and storefronts in major metropolitan areas to replace current imagery provided by third-party sources such as Yelp.
Apple has posted a complete list of new areas in the United States, France, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom it will be surveying throughout August on its Apple Maps vehicles website, including extended coverage of unmapped areas in California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Utah and Washington.
Starting Aug. 7, Best Buy will be the first national retailer, other than Apple Stores, where customers can buy the Apple Watch. It will begin to arrive in more than 100 Best Buy stores and will also be available on BestBuy.com. Another 200 of our stores will have the Apple Watch in time for holiday shopping.Apple has provided a statement to iMore, noting the focus on expanding availability for the holiday shopping season.
“The Apple Watch is an important addition to an emerging product category, and we know our customers want it,” said Jason Bonfig, senior category officer at Best Buy. “We are excited to bring Apple Watch to more consumers, especially with the holidays coming up.”
"Customers love Apple Watch, and we are thrilled to begin offering it at Best Buy locations across the U.S. starting August 7," an Apple spokesperson told iMore. "More than 300 Best Buy stores will carry Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport models in time for the holiday shopping season."The Apple Watch is currently available in 19 countries with Apple gradually expanding availability as supplies have allowed, and an additional three countries — New Zealand, Russia, and Turkey — will be added to the list this coming Friday.
The Cupertino company was interested in the body of the i3, which is a small hatchback that has a shell made out of carbon fiber, helping keep the car light. The two companies began talks in autumn 2014, but broke off talks before committing to check in with each other and their plans periodically. The report also states that Tim Cook and Apple senior managers made a trip to BMW's factory in Leipzig, Germany to take a look at the production of the i3.
This isn't the first time BMW and Apple have been linked to be working on a car. In March, a report from German automotive magazine Auto Motor und Sport claimed the two were in close negotiations to turn the i3 into an "Apple Car". However, BMW denied the claim to Reuters hours after the report surfaced.
Earlier this week, Apple hired Doug Betts, former Senior Vice President of the Chrysler Group and the global head of operations leading product service and quality, continuing the company's hiring of automotive experts. Additionally, Apple hired Paul Furgale, a researcher with a specialization in autonomous vehicles.
While details on Apple's car project have been scarce, there have been reports of Apple recruiting talent from the automotive industry, including poaching employees from Tesla, Ford and GM, and that the company has hundreds of employees working on its car project. Rumors suggest Apple is aiming to produce a car by 2020, but because Apple often works on projects that never see the light of day, it's possible the company could delay or shelve the project if it's not happy with its progress.
The new campaign is highlighted on Apple's main home page as well as its iPhone pages, and it includes a scrolling feature page drawing attention to a number of aspects of Apple and the iPhone that make the device stand out from its competitors.
Every iPhone we've made — and we mean every single one — was built on the same belief. That a phone should be more than a collection of features. That, above all, a phone should be absolutely simple, beautiful, and magical to use.The page proceeds to highlight the iPhone's integration of hardware and software, camera capabilities, breadth of available apps, resistance to malware, and Apple's commitment to privacy and security with Touch ID and Apple Pay.
The campaign also highlights how Apple includes a variety of built-in apps and tools to make text, audio, and video messaging free and easy, track fitness and activity, and control devices around the home, all with accessibility features to make the iPhone's features available to as many people as possible. Finally, Apple points to its support network, from its retail stores to AppleCare phone and chat support.
Apple senior executive Eddy Cue expressed disappointment in the documentary following its debut, describing the film on Twitter as "an inaccurate and mean-spirited view of my friend" and "not a reflection of the Steve I knew." Cue added that the best portrayal of Jobs is in the book Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, which he describes as "well done and first to get it right."
Very disappointed in SJ:Man in the Machine. An inaccurate and mean-spirited view of my friend. It's not a reflection of the Steve I knew.— Eddy Cue (@cue) March 16, 2015
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine opens in select theaters on September 4.
The service is backed by a large roster of retailers, from Sears to Wendy's, who support the platform as a way to avoid losing integral shopping data to an increasingly competitive market thanks to the likes of Apple and Google.
CurrentC is different from Apple Pay however, using barcodes and RFID scanners in place of NFC terminals Apple took advantage of with Apple Pay. As Bloomberg points out, it also has a major hurdle regarding the signing of deals with major credit card companies, something it has yet to do.
While MCX is getting closer to releasing its app, there are plenty of hurdles. It hasn’t signed deals with major credit-card companies like Visa to use bank-issued card accounts within the app. That means a shopper wouldn’t be able to use, say, a Visa debit card from JPMorgan Chase & Co. This can be done with competing products like Apple Pay. Instead, users of MCX’s app will be limited to private-label store cards, like Target’s REDcard, or they’ll have to give MCX their checking-account details.Also worrisome for MCX is the three-year exclusivity contract each retailer signed when the company began talks of the CurrentC system back in 2012. Those contracts -- which prohibited partnering with other mobile payment services -- begin to end next month, alongside CurrentC's soft launch in August. The company has already felt the weight of this, as Best Buy announced back in April it would begin supporting Apple Pay within its mobile app, with in-store support gearing up for later in 2015.
Not long after, MCX's CEO at the time, Dekkers Davidson, left the company, with a spokeswoman telling press that Davidson's exit had nothing to do with the announcement made by Best Buy days before. Payments security analyst Julie Conroy spoke on the subject to Bloomberg, reiterating on the public's trust issues with the company following a hack last year and stating simply, “I’m increasingly skeptical of their chance to really make a dent.”
Intel Skylake Processors: Up to 20% Performance Boost, 41% Faster Graphics and 30% Longer Battery Life
The leaked slides reveal that Skylake processors will provide a 10%-20% CPU performance boost in single and multi-threaded applications, with lower power consumption, and 30% faster Intel HD integrated graphics performance on average compared to current-generation Broadwell processors. The improved energy efficiency will also result in up to 30% longer battery life.
The specific performance improvements to the four main Skylake families are outlined below based on preliminary data, with the MacBook model appropriate for each chip listed in parentheses:
- Y-Series (MacBook): Up to 17% faster CPU, up to 41% faster Intel HD graphics, up to 1.4 hours longer battery life
- U-Series (MacBook Air): Up to 10% faster CPU, up to 34% faster Intel HD graphics, up to 1.4 hours longer battery life
- H-Series (MacBook Pro): Up to 11% faster CPU, up to 16% faster Intel HD graphics, up to 80% lower silicon power
- S-Series (iMac): Up to 11% faster CPU, up to 28% faster Intel HD graphics, 22% lower TDP (thermal design power)
Apple refreshed the MacBook Air and 13" Retina MacBook Pro with the latest Broadwell processors in March, but the refreshed 15" Retina MacBook Pro released in May remains powered by two-year-old Haswell architecture due to the lack of quad-core Broadwell processors appropriate for the notebook at the time.
Given that Intel announced a trio of Core i7 processors appropriate for the 15" Retina MacBook Pro just weeks later, and both the iMac and Mac mini still have Haswell processors, it is plausible that Apple has chosen to skip Broadwell processors entirely and release Skylake-based Macs in late 2015 or early 2016 -- and the jump from Haswell to Skylake would deliver an even higher performance boost.
Taiwanese blog DigiTimes, which has a hit-and-miss track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, says that Intel is planning to launch 18 new Skylake processors for notebooks in the fourth quarter, starting in October. The mid-range and high-end processors could be used in the next-generation 12-inch MacBook, MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro.
Apple's decision to stop offering Google's Nest products in its retail stores and online comes just over a month after the first HomeKit-compatible products became available for purchase. In early June, Lutron, iHome, Elgato, Ecobee, and Insteon began offering a range of smart lights, plugs, thermostats, room monitors, and more, all of which work with HomeKit.
The HomeKit-compatible Ecobee3 smart thermostat is a direct competitor of the Nest, so it's no surprise Apple has opted to stop offering Google's products in order to highlight accessories that are compatible with its own smart home platform.
This isn't the first time Apple has stopped offering products that directly compete with its own product offerings. Last year, the company stopped selling Fitbit activity tracking devices ahead of the launch of the Apple Watch and also culled several other activity trackers from its store earlier this year.
Apple's decision to stop selling the Nest thermostat comes as the company is working to revamp accessory lineups in its retail stores, cutting back on the number of accessories offered and packaging many of them in boxes that match its own design aesthetic.