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Distracted Driving Laws Yet to Catch Up With Apple Watch

While several states and countries have laws in place that make operating a handheld device such as a smartphone or portable media player illegal, the release of the Apple Watch has created a gray area in terms of distracted driving legislation. Given that the Apple Watch is technically not a handheld device, the laws in many jurisdictions are left open to interpretation at this point.

Regardless of the laws in your local area, it is highly recommended that you keep your eyes on the road and remain focused on driving at all times. Using your Apple Watch while driving is dangerous for both you and the drivers sharing the road with you, no matter how skilled of a driver you may be, and distracted driving in general is still a punishable offense in many jurisdictions.

Apple Tops Greenpeace Clean Energy Index Based on Renewable Energy Initiatives

Apple continues to set the bar among technology companies for its commitment to running its worldwide operations on renewable energy, topping Amazon, Facebook, Google, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Yahoo and other large corporations in Greenpeace's Clean Energy Index included as part of its 2015 Click Clean Report [PDF].
"The report found that Apple continues to be the most aggressive in powering its data center operations with renewable energy. Despite continued rapid growth, Apple appears to have kept pace with its supply of renewable energy, maintaining its claim of a 100% renewably powered cloud for another year, followed by Yahoo, Facebook and Google with 73%, 49% and 46% clean energy respectively. Greenpeace found that Amazon’s current investments would deliver an energy mix of 23% renewable energy for its operations."
The annual report is based on energy transparency, renewable energy commitment and policy, energy efficiency and mitigation, and renewable energy deployment and advocacy, all categories in which Apple received an A, the highest score awarded. Apple was the only technology company with a perfect scorecard in the report.

Greenpeace has been evaluating the energy demand of the internet and internet-related companies since 2010. The non-governmental environmental activist group was critical of Apple's environmental record for several years, and remained skeptical about the company's early push into renewable energy sources, but started recognizing and commending the iPhone maker for its efforts beginning last year.

Apple shared its 2015 Environmental

Next A9-Based iPhone Predicted to Have 12MP Camera, 2GB RAM, Rose Gold and More, Mass Production in August

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a respectable track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, issued a note to investors today that offers eleven predictions for the next-generation iPhone in 2015. Kuo expects the new 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones to enter mass production in mid-to-late August, and does not believe that a new 4-inch iPhone model will be released in 2015.

The main selling point of the so-called "iPhone 6s" and "iPhone 6s Plus" will be Force Touch, the pressure-sensitive display technology built into Apple Watch and new MacBook trackpads. Other predicted features for Apple's next iPhone, many of which have already been rumored, include an A9 processor with 2GB of RAM, improved 12-megapixel camera, a new Rose Gold color option, possible sapphire cover lenses and more.
(1) Force Touch will be the biggest upgraded selling point, but also one of the main bottlenecks of the supply chain. Force Touch can enhance user experience due to more input methods and support of handwritten signatures, which is beneficial for expanding in the commercial market;
(2) Screen will remain at 4.7 and 5.5 inches, with resolution the same as existing models. There will be no new 4-inch model;
(3) There will be an additional casing color, rose gold, matching the rose gold Apple Watch Edition;
(4) The camera will have a pixel upgrade, likely to 12 MP;
(5) One microphone will be added near the speaker to enhance voice quality;
(6) The A9 processor with upgraded 2GB LPDDR4 will be adopted;
(7) The bending issue will be improved by using different

First Apple Watches With Link Bracelets Begin Shipping to Customers

Though the Apple Watch officially launched on April 24, several of the stainless steel Apple Watch configurations have been unavailable to ship for weeks due to supply shortages. Customers who ordered Apple Watches with Link Bracelets, Modern Buckles, and Leather Loops right after pre-orders began are still without their devices.

As of today, the first orders of these rarer watches appear to be shipping out. Several customers on the MacRumors forums who ordered the Apple Watch with Stainless Steel Link Bracelets are seeing their credit cards charged and have begun receiving shipping information from Apple. The first orders should be arriving to customers tomorrow.

There are many customers who are still waiting for their Link Bracelet Apple Watch orders to ship, but it appears the wait may not be much longer now that the first shipments are going out. Customers who ordered the Space Black Apple Watch with Link Bracelet have unfortunately not yet seen order movement, and it also looks like Modern Buckle and Leather Loop purchases are not yet shipping out.

When Apple started accepting pre-orders on April 10, Apple Watch orders with Link Bracelets in Stainless Steel saw shipping estimates ranging from four to six weeks, while the Link Bracelet in Space Black had June shipping estimates. Apple Watches with Modern Buckle and Leather Loop bands also had four to six week shipping estimates right when pre-orders began, suggesting those models may ship out soon.

Standalone Link Bracelet and Leather Loop bands ordered separately have already begun shipping out to

Warner Music Earned More Revenue From Streaming Services Than Downloads in Q2 2015

Apple's upcoming revamped music service may be coming at the perfect time, right as revenue from streaming music is beginning to surpass revenue from digital downloads.

Streaming music services have been growing in popularity over the last several years, and in an earnings call today (via Re/code), Warner Music Group CEO Stephen Cooper told investors that for the first time, the company earned more revenue from streaming music services than from digital downloads.

Warner Music Group saw a 33 percent increase in its revenue from streaming music services from companies like Spotify and YouTube during the second quarter of 2015, while revenue from digital downloads like those from iTunes grew only seven percent. During the call, Cooper said that the growth of streaming music makes it "abundantly clear" that in the future, "streaming will be the way that most people enjoy music."
"We experienced significant revenue growth this quarter across key segments of our business -- in particular Recorded Music, across the U.S. and international and across digital and physical -- capping off a strong first half of our fiscal year" said Stephen Cooper, Warner Music Group's CEO. "Notably, in this quarter we saw continued growth in streaming revenue which surpassed download revenue for the first time in the history of our recorded music business. Our commitment to being at the forefront of industry change as well as our ongoing investment in artist development is the foundation of our continued success."
Warner Music Group says that it expects streaming growth will continue, and it

Apple Seeds Third OS X 10.10.4 Yosemite Beta to Developers and Public Beta Testers

Apple today seeded the third beta of OS X 10.10.4 to developers, approximately two weeks after releasing the second OS X 10.10.4 beta and three weeks after releasing the first OS X 10.10.4 beta. OS X 10.10.4 has been in testing since mid-April, following the early April release of OS X 10.10.3, which included the new Photos for OS X app.

The beta, build 14E17e, can be downloaded through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store or through the Mac Developer Center. Apple is asking developers to focus on Photos, Migration, and Arabic and Hebrew languages.

OS X 10.10.3 introduced several consumer-facing changes including the new Photos for OS X app, a redesigned emoji picker, new diversified emoji, and more, but OS X 10.10.4 appears to be an under-the-hood update that brings performance enhancements and bug fixes. Thus far, OS X 10.10.4 betas have not included outward facing design changes or feature additions.

The first two updates to OS X Yosemite, OS X 10.10.1 and OS X 10.10.2, were also minor behind-the-scenes updates that improved performance through bug fixes and

Apple Seeds Third iOS 8.4 Beta With Revamped Music App to Developers, Beta Testers

Apple today seeded the third beta of iOS 8.4 to registered developers for testing purposes, two weeks after seeding the second iOS 8.4 beta and three weeks after releasing the first iOS 8.4 beta. iOS 8.4 has been in testing since mid-April, following the early April release of iOS 8.3. Today's beta is also available to public beta testers.

The beta, build 12H4098c, is available as an over-the-air download and through the iOS Developer Center. Apple has also released Xcode 6.4 beta 3 to developers.

iOS 8.4's major feature is an all-new Music app that includes a revamped look. The Music app's new design shows pictures of artists in the Artists view and it offers a new MiniPlayer with a redesigned look for "Now Playing." There are personalized playlists, global search capabilities that make it easier to search within the Music app, and a streamlined design for iTunes Radio to bolster music discovery.


The first two iOS 8.4 betas had long lists of bugs associated with the new Music app, which Apple has been working to resolve with subsequent betas. According to the release notes, the third beta includes a few fixes for lingering issues to make the Music app more stable, but there continue to be a long list of known issues with the app.

Siri is not able to control iTunes Radio in beta 4, AirPlay streaming may be broken, Home Sharing and Genius Mixes are not available, and there are stability issues when using Up Next or iTunes Radio. It's also not possible to start a station from a song or artist, deleting an empty playlist can cause crashes, and the Music app

12.9-Inch 'iPad Pro' Could Have Flexible Touch Panel With Increased Sensitivity

Apple is exploring the possibility of equipping the much-rumored 12.9-inch "iPad Pro" with an improved touch panel that uses silver nano wire (AgNW) material instead of ITO-based clear film, according to South Korea's Electronic Times (via G4Games). The flexible touch panel would reportedly have greater accuracy and sensitivity and be able to recognize multiple pressure levels, which could allow for Force Touch.

A purported "iPad Pro" blueprint from December 2014 with possible dimensions
The report claims that Apple requested samples of the touch panel ready for mass-production from LG Display, Samsung Display, Japan Display and other major display manufacturers at the start of this week, and predicts that the company will release a new 12.9-inch iPad next year as the first device utilizing the new touch panel technology. Recent rumors have pointed towards a late 2015 unveiling of the iPad Pro.

Apple could benefit from lower production costs by using AgNW touch panels, according to the report, since the technology does not require using a scarce metal like indium. The report adds that Apple is also considering applying a thin layer of sapphire crystal to the touch panel, but it remains questionable if the company's suppliers are capable of effectively producing the material for large-screened tablets yet.

The 12.9-inch iPad is rumored to feature a built-in NFC chip, pressure-sensitive Bluetooth stylus, Force Touch, one USB-C port and Apple's latest A-series processor. Rumors suggest that the NFC chip will enable the iPad to be used as a payment terminal, while

Apple Announces Renewable Energy and Forestland Initiatives in China

Apple today announced a new multi-year project with World Wildlife Fund to protect up to 1 million acres of responsibly managed working forests in China, which the company says provide fiber for pulp, paper and wood products. The new forestland program is part of Apple's goal to run its worldwide operations on 100% renewable energy.

Apple also confirmed plans to expand its industry-leading renewable energy projects to manufacturing facilities in China, three weeks after the company announced a partnership with SunPower Corporation to build two 20-megawatt solar power plants that will provide more than enough energy to power all of Apple's corporate offices and retail stores in the world's most populous country.
“We’ve set an example by greening our data centers, retail stores and corporate offices, and we’re ready to start leading the way toward reducing carbon emissions from manufacturing,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “This won’t happen overnight—in fact it will take years—but it’s important work that has to happen, and Apple is in a unique position to take the initiative toward this ambitious goal. It is a responsibility we accept. We are excited to work with leaders in our supply chain who want to be on the cutting edge of China’s green transformation.”
Apple shared its 2015 Environmental Responsibility Report in April, reflecting on the company's environmental progress during the 2014 fiscal year. The report highlights that 100% of the company's U.S. operations and 87% of its global operations are run on renewable energy. The report also reveals that Apple emitted

The Quest for Quality: Five of the Most Useful Apple Watch Apps

While Apple CEO Tim Cook recently confirmed that there are over 3,500 apps available for the Apple Watch, several reviewers and early adopters have complained that many fail to provide useful functionality on the wrist. Despite strict approval guidelines, the App Store for Apple Watch is cluttered with basic or poorly designed apps for the wrist-worn device, likely due in significant part to the apps having been developed before the Apple Watch was available.

To help users discover some high quality watch-based experiences, MacRumors reached out to its forum community and skimmed through the App Store to handpick five Apple Watch apps that we've found particularly useful. Some of the useful Apple Watch apps worth mentioning include Workflow, Philips Hue, Things, Calcbot and Clear.

Workflow

Workflow is an automation tool that enables you to drag and drop any combination of actions to create custom workflows for completing various tasks. You can, for example, use the app to get directions to nearby coffee shops within a preset radius directly on your Apple Watch. Workflows are created using a paired iPhone and automatically appear on the Apple Watch for one-tap use.

Workflow features over 200 actions, including those for Contacts, Calendar, Maps, Music, Photos, Camera, Reminders, Safari, AirDrop, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote and iCloud Documents. The app, created by DeskConnect co-founders Ari Weinstein, Nick Frey and Conrad Kramer, is currently $2.99 on the App Store for iPhone and Apple Watch as part of a limited time 40% off sale.

Philips Hue

Apple to Push Paid Streaming Music Service With Free Trials and SoundCloud-Like Sharing

Ahead of the rumored debut of Apple's upcoming streaming music service, Re/code has shared several details on the initiative, sourced from industry insiders. As we've learned previously, Apple will charge $9.99 per month for the service and will not offer a freemium streaming tier as other music services like Spotify do, but the company is aiming to introduce ways to let people listen to some content for free.

First and foremost, Apple hopes to offer listeners a free trial period, which lasts between one and three months, letting them sample the music service for an extended period of time before opting for a full subscription. The length of the trial will depend on what Apple is able to negotiate with music companies.

Apple is also working on a feature that may let artists and music creators upload samples of songs that could be listened to without subscribing to the service. Re/code's sources are describing this as "something akin to SoundCloud." SoundCloud is a music sharing platform that lets users upload and share originally-created music, and a similar feature within Apple's new music service would give indie artists an easy way to share music while providing listeners with free content.

The third way Apple plans to potentially get music to listeners for free is through a revamp of iTunes Radio. We've heard hints of this previously, but the new version of iTunes Radio may feature stations that are curated by humans rather than computers, with different content available in different locales. New Apple hire BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe and other recently hired

Nintendo's First Smartphone Game Due This Year, 5 Planned by March 2017

In Nintendo's financial results briefing posted today, which relays the company's past fiscal year ending in March 2015 and looks ahead to the future, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata provided a few more details regarding the company's future release plans with mobile gaming partner DeNA.

Essentially, the first game in the lineup will launch "by the end of this calendar year," with the current long-term plan to release five games in total by the end of the company's next fiscal year ending in March of 2017, just under two years away. Iwata promises that while that estimation for a release schedule seems low, the company hopes to retain its well-known degree of polish and customer satisfaction when transitioning to mobile, and taking a quality over quantity approach is its way of doing that.
You may think it is a small number, but when we aim to make each title a hit, and because we want to thoroughly operate every one of them for a significant amount of time after their releases, this is not a small number at all and should demonstrate our serious commitment to the smart device business.
During the briefing, Iwata also went further into detail regarding the actual strategy for creating games on a mobile device, such as an iPhone and iPad. While the initial announcement of the deal with DeNA had fans excited, Nintendo was quick to specify that the experiences provided on mobile wouldn't simply be ports of existing franchises and would be more tailored for a smaller, bite-sized experience.
Although that dashed most fan hopes for full-fledged Pokemon, The Legend of